Monday, November 29, 2010

NM man faces federal hate-crime charges, accused of branding Navajo man with a swastika


New Mexico man pleads not guilty in swastika case
He faces federal hate-crime charges for allegedly using a hot metal hanger to brand a mentally disabled Navajo man


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico man pleaded not guilty Monday to federal hate-crime charges in the case of a mentally disabled Navajo man who had a swastika branded on his arm with a hot metal clothes hanger.

Read more

Nebraskans For Justice call for national COINTELPRO reconciliation action


Nebraskans For Justice call for national COINTELPRO reconciliation action
November 29th, 2010 11:19 am ET
http://www.examiner.com/cointelpro-in-national/nebraskans-for-justice-call-for-national-cointelpro-reconciliation-action


The Nebraskans For Justice, a citizen action group founded to provide litigation support to the Omaha Two, has issued a “Call to Action” urging a national COINTELPRO reconciliation effort.

Operation COINTELPRO was an illegal and clandestine program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation directed at political activists during J. Edgar Hoover’s long tenure as director of the national police agency. The Omaha Two are former Black Panther leaders, Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice) who were convicted for the bombing death of an Omaha policeman in 1970 after a COINTELPRO-tainted trial.

Tariq Al Amin, an ex-Omaha police officer, is head of Nebraskans For Justice and is spearheading the effort to get a COINTELPRO Truth and Reconciliation Commission established.

Tariq explained the group wants to use the national healing process that South Africa underwent following the end of apartheid for the largest abuse of law enforcement in American history.

“We are asking everyone to write a letter to the Attorney General of the United States and the Assistant Attorney General over the Civil Rights Division.”

Nebraskans For Justice wants a sweeping review of federal, state and local law enforcement files to identify COINTELPRO abuses and then corrective measures undertaken.

“We want them to look into all practices and policies of the local, state and federal agencies, their officers and agents. This is to include all levels of the criminal justice system, including prosecutors and the courts.”

“While our organization is working on the release of Ed Poindexter and Mondo, we want the cases if all political prisoners reviewed. We also know that there were many people who were falsely arrested, charged, and convicted and have had to live with the consequences of an undeserved criminal record.”

“COINTELPRO was far-reaching and very destructive. Above all, many of its tactics were illegal and./or unethical.”

“Two former FBI agents, L. Patrick Grey and Edward S. Miller were in the process of appealing their convictions for acts committed under COINTELPRO when they were given pardons by President Reagan. Reagan stated that their activities took place during an especially turbulent and divisive period. He stated that it was time to “put all this behind us” and “to forgive those who engaged in “excesses.” Yet nothing has been done on behalf of those still serving time behind those “excesses.”

Tariq said, “It is our hope that our collective voices will be heard.”

Opening Statement by the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change


16th Conference of the Parties,
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Cancun, Mexico, 29 November to 10 December 2010

Opening Statement by the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, November 29th, 2010


Indigenous Peoples from all regions of the World held a preparatory meeting November 27 - 28 here in Cancun, and agreed to present the following statement to the opening session of COP 16th. First, we thank the Parties, the Chair and the Secretariat for this opportunity to express our views and concerns. We also express our appreciation to the Indigenous Peoples of this land and all of Mexico for allowing us to be here to participate in these critical discussions, upon which all of our survival depends.

Indigenous Peoples are on the front lines of the impacts of climate change around the world, whether we are from islands and coastal areas, the Arctic, the deserts, urban areas forests or mountain regions. Our traditional foods are diminishing, our waterways and sea ice habitats are disappearing, the rains that sustain us are drying up, and our homelands are falling into the rising seas. The situation is dire and urgent. Indigenous Peoples demand a change in the models of production and consumption that produce climate change, as well as decisive action for real solutions by State Parties at this session.

The threats to our survival and the violations of our internationally- recognized human rights as a result of climate change are increasing on a daily basis. Market-based mitigation strategies such as the Clean Development Mechanism and carbon offsets, including forest offsets and REDD, further threaten our human rights, including our right to free prior and informed consent among many others. Our land and territories, food sovereignty, bio-diversity, cultural practices and traditional life ways are being placed in further jeopardy, and we reject these false solutions.

For all these reasons, a central concern of Indigenous Peoples in all aspects of the work to be carried out at COP 16 is the obligation to ensure that the rights of Indigenous Peoples in all countries are respected, upheld and recognized in all final texts and agreements, consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international human rights norms and standards.

We call for the implementation of formal mechanisms and methods of work during COP 16 that will ensure the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, including women, youth and elders. In closing, we call upon you, the Parties to adopt strong and concrete agreements here to produce real solutions that reduce emissions to 300 PPM while also making a firm commitment to protect our human rights. Our survival is in the balance. Our responsibility to our Peoples, our future generations, our Sacred Mother the Earth and to each other as brothers and sisters of the human family, requires and demands immediate and decisive action.

Thank you.

Pilot Program to Incarcerate Tribal Prisoners in Federal Prisons


Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 26, 2010

Bureau of Prisons Implements Key Provision of Tribal Law and Order Act with Pilot Program to Incarcerate Tribal Prisoners in Federal Prisons


WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons today implemented a key provision of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 by launching a four-year pilot program to begin accepting certain tribal offenders sentenced in tribal courts for placement in Bureau of Prisons institutions.

The pilot program allows any federally recognized tribe to request that the bureau incarcerate a tribe member convicted of a violent crime under the terms of Section 234 of the Tribal Law and Order Act and authorizes the bureau to house up to 100 tribal offenders at a time, nation-wide. By statute, the pilot will conclude on Nov. 26, 2014.

"The launch of the Bureau of Prisons pilot program is an important step forward in addressing violent offenders and under-resourced correctional facilities in Indian country," said Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli. "This is one step among many to bolster the safety and security in tribal communities. Under the landmark Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, the Justice Department will continue to work with our tribal partners on a multilateral approach that includes better law enforcement training, enhanced treatment and prevention programs, and improved tribal crime data gathering and information sharing." In anticipation of the Tribal Law and Order Act , Attorney General Eric Holder in January 2010 directed all U.S. Attorneys’ Offices with districts containing Indian country (44 out of 93) to: meet and consult with tribes in their district annually; develop an operational plan addressing public safety in Indian country; work closely with tribal law enforcement on improving public safety in tribal communities, and to pay particular attention to violence against women in Indian country and make prosecuting these crimes a priority. The Justice Department routinely briefs Congress, and state, local and tribal governments on the progress of the Tribal Law and Order Act implementation.


A fundamental goal of the Bureau of Prisons is to reduce future criminal activity by encouraging inmates to participate in a range of programs that have been proven to help them adopt a crime-free lifestyle upon their return to the community. Accordingly, the bureau provides many self-improvement programs, including work in prison industries and other institution jobs, vocational training, education, substance abuse treatment, parenting, anger management, counseling, religious observance opportunities and other programs that teach essential life skills.


Additional information and referral materials on the bureau’s pilot program may be found at: www.bop.gov/inmate_programs/tloa.jsp . To review the Tribal Law and Order Act, visit: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ211.111.pdf.

10-1352
Office of the Associate Attorney General

News from Indianz.Com


www.indianz.com

Headlines

Tim Giago: Naysayers invited to promote unity in South Dakota (11/29)
Mark Charles: Bring the presidential hopefuls to Indian Country (11/29)
Vi Waln: Lakota people encounter threats to their water source (11/29)
Native Sun News: Tribal colleges a top priority at NCAI meeting (11/29)
Gabe Galanda: Putting consultation to work for our sovereignty (11/29)
Editorial: House must take action to pass the Cobell settlement (11/29)
Editorial: Small slices of justice for Native American landowners (11/29)
Editorial: Indians in Montana benefit from claims settlement bill (11/29)
Federal prisons to accept tribal offenders through pilot program (11/29)
Legal News: Matthew Fletcher a pioneer in Indian law and policy (11/29)
VOA News: Native Americans having a busy year in Washington (11/29)
Delaware Tribe makes history with first woman elected as chief (11/29)
Sioux tribes condemn call for 'violence' made at university talk (11/29)
Editorial: Cheering for Bay Mills off-reservation casino proposal (11/29)
Opinion: A bad bet on the off-reservation casino in the Catskills (11/29)
Spokane Tribe remains hopeful over off-reservation casino plan (11/29)
Mississippi Choctaws plan December 20 opening for new casino (11/29)
Native Sun News: Crow Creek women fight state on foster care (11/24)
Vi Waln: Lakota of South Dakota remain invisible in many ways (11/24)
Charles Trimble: Thanksgiving out among the colonized people (11/24)
Gyasi Ross: Indians giving thanks is one of our oldest practices (11/24)
White House Tribal Nations Conference being hosted at Interior (11/24)
Judge approves settlement in Saginaw Chippewa Tribe lawsuit (11/24)
VBS.TV: A day in the life of rodeo riders from the Navajo Nation (11/24)
Incoming New Mexico governor picks Indian affairs review team (11/24)
Kenneth Deer: Canada eats crow on indigenous rights document (11/24)
Opinion: Should Native Americans have rescued those Pilgrims? (11/24)
Food: Traditional Indian foods became part of American cuisine (11/24)
Judge allows lawmakers in Tohono O'odham off-reservation suit (11/24)
Winnebago Tribe hosts ribbon-cutting for $3M casino renovation (11/24)
More headlines... www.indianz.com

29 Nov 2010: Today's Democracy Now!


www.democracynow.org



U.S. Facing Global Diplomatic Crisis Following Massive WikiLeaks Release of Secret Diplomatic Cables
The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has begun releasing a giant trove of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables that is sending shockwaves through the global diplomatic establishment. Among the findings: Arab leaders are urging the United States to attack Iran; Washington and Yemen agreed to cover up the use of U.S. warplanes to bomb Yemen; the United States is using its embassies around the world as part of a global spy network and asking diplomats to gather intelligence; and much more. We host a roundtable discussion with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; Greg Mitchell, who writes the Media Fix blog at The Nation; Carne Ross, a British diplomat for 15 years who resigned before the Iraq war; and As’ad AbuKhalil, a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus.

Headlines

•WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Secret U.S. Diplomatic Cables
•Vote Rigging Allegations Mar Haiti Election
•Iranian Nuclear Scientist Assassinated
•U.S. Aircraft Carrier Takes Part in South Korean Military Exercise
•Afghan Gunman Kills Six NATO Troops
•U.N. Cancun Climate Change Conference Opens
•BP Sued in Ecuadorian Court For Violating Rights of Nature
•Somali-Born Teen Arrested on Bomb Charges in Portland
•Jury Convicts Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay
•Gov’t Shuts Down 70 Websites, BitTorrent Search Engines
•100,000 Protest In Ireland Over EU/IMF Bailout
•Egypt Ruling Party Accused of Rigging Election Results.

www.democracynow.org

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Indigenous Environmental Network: Dispatches From Cancun




On November 29th, in Cancun Mexico, world leaders will again meet for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16 & CMP 6) to discuss climate change and collaborate on finding answers for many multi-level questions on how to deal with mitigation, restoration, and prevention of further damage.

Follow IEN as we collaborate with other Indigenous groups and coalitions in Cancun. We have created a new blog for you to learn more. View videos, live streams, and live radio broadcasts.

Our organizations are banding together in Cancun to highlight the stories of local community activists and Indigenous Peoples from all over the world:

-- Stories about dealing with the impacts from the climate crisis that are already being experienced by their communities;

-- Stories about the suffering from and resistance to the pollution from the fossil fuels industry; and

-- Stories about their communities standing up to threats from industries who want their forests to "offset" their pollution.

We will be highlighting stories from communities that are taking real and effective action to address the climate crisis. Communities that are protecting their forests from being logged; that are shutting down polluting industries in their own back yard, or that are creating small-scale renewable energy projects.

Visit our blog and Follow Our Journey at redroadcancun.com

This Week from Indian Country Today


www.indiancountrytoday.com

White house confirms support of ‘clean Carcieri fix’
WASHINGTON – The White House has reiterated its support for a “Carcieri fix” – legislation confirming the federal government’s authority to take Indian land into trust for general purposes, while the Interior Department has distanced itself from a senator’s proposal that would virtually eliminate off reservation trust land for gaming.

Headlines

•Salgado admits to bribes
•White house confirms support of ‘clean Carcieri fix’
•Domestic crimes yield hefty penalties
•Senate, tribes achieve water rights settlements
•Kona Hula Halau pays tribute to the goddesses Pele and Hi’iakaikapoliopele
•Bay Mills’ off reservation casino sparks tribal, state opposition
•Navajo Marine home for Thanksgiving
•Stockbridge-Munsee Community closer to land in trust
•Special Diabetes Program for Indians shows successful results
•Honored for commitment to help Native communities
•Senate passes Cobell; all eyes on House
•Public apology to Natives overdue
•Dr. Deanna Francis, Passamaquoddy, has died
•Obama prepares for second tribal summit
•Thanksgiving symbolizes Native generosity and kindness
•Shirley discourages firing Navajo AG, chief justice
•Contest designed to inspire sense of honor and dignity
•Second tribal meeting announced at NCAI
•Pine Ridge election proceeds smoothly
•Fox News gets Sitting Bull history wrong
•Making the promise real: ACLU looks at justice in Indian country
•Alaska Senate race controversies continue
•Close watch on salmon spawning may predict 2011 fishing season’s success
•In Washington state, two wins, two losses
•Indian beauty contests at Pendleton Roundup

Opinion

Taliman: United States cannot be the only country opposing indigenous rights

When Canada endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recently, it created a groundswell of hope in Indian country, and put more pressure on the United States to step up soon.

www.indiancountrytoday.com

For news you won't get from Indian Country Today, see Censored News.

Four Directions: Visions of a Real American



FOUR DIRECTIONS: Visions of a Real American
A book of selected works by First Nations poet Aztatl Garza.
Free Download: (15.9 M) - PDF

Friday, November 26, 2010

26 Nov 2010: Today's Democracy Now!


www.democracynow.org



Chilean Economist Manfred Max-Neef on Barefoot Economics, Poverty and Why The U.S. is Becoming an "Underdeveloping Nation"
We speak with the acclaimed Chilean economist, Manfred Max-Neef. He won the Right Livelihood Award in 1983, two years after the publication of his book Outside Looking In: Experiences in Barefoot Economics. "Economists study and analyze poverty in their nice offices, have all the statistics, make all the models, and are convinced that they know everything that you can know about poverty. But they don’t understand poverty," Max-Neef says.

Author and Activist Derrick Jensen: "The Dominant Culture is Killing the Planet...It’s Very Important for Us to Start to Build a Culture of Resistance"
We speak with Derrick Jensen, who has been called the poet-philosopher of the ecological movement. He has written some 15 books critiquing contemporary society and the destruction of the environment. His many books include A Language Older than Words, Endgame, What We Left Behind, Resistance against Empire, and Deep Green Resistance. "I think a lot of us are increasingly recognizing that the dominant culture is killing the planet," Jensen says. "I think it’s very important for us to start to build a culture of resistance, because what we’re doing isn’t working, clearly." [includes rush transcript]

www.democracynow.org

Thursday, November 25, 2010

BlackCommentator: Thanksgiving Issue


November 25, 2010

Friends & Comrades,

In accordance with the policy of The Black Commentator re the U.S. celebration known as 'Thanksgiving,' this issue is dedicated entirely to articles by Indigenous Native people, and also includes a poignant political cartoon on the subject. Some examples contained in this issue are shown below:

1. Click on BC: Political Cartoon - The Spoils of War on The Holiday Table

2. Click on BC Cover Story: The Thanksgiving Myth - Mistakes, Lies & Misconceptions About American Indian People

3. Click on BC - Thanksgiving: The National Day of Mourning (Text of 1970 Speech by Wampsutta)

It is also with urgency and respect that I make a plea that we actively remember the many political prisoners, particularly those being held by this avaricious and hypocritical U.S. government, including Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Lynne Stewart.

The Black Commentator's regular format will resume in our next issue.

Onward! Stay strong & vigilant...

In struggle,
Larry Pinkney
Editorial Board Member & Columnist
The Black Commentator
http://www.blackcommentator.com/

Full Issue: http://www.blackcommentator.com/index_403.html

Leonard Peltier on The Day of Mourning


Greetings, my relatives.

It seems another year has gone by since the last time we gathered like this. I say we, although I am not there with you in body, my spirit certainly is. We have coined this day, a day of mourning, as opposed to a day of thanksgiving. It’s a shame that for the most part thanksgiving is relegated to only one day. And mourning is something that relates to unhappy circumstances that have taken place. We certainly can’t change what has happened. This very day is ours and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet and, is uncertain. I really don’t like to dwell on the mourning aspects of life but instead, on what we can do to prevent those unhappy and sometimes terrible times in our history. I may have mentioned it once before but I once read about a union organizer named Joe Hill that was framed by the copper mine owners to be executed. And I believe he said what really needs to be said upon his death. His words were “don’t mourn, organize”. And those are also my sentiments.

There are a lot of things that happened in the past that can be prevented in the future. There are losses that can be regained. But we must organize to do it. We must find it within ourselves to be in touch with the Creator for I can tell you from a heartfelt fact that when they’ve pushed you away, into a dark corner, not just your body, but your mind, your soul, your spirit, there is no one that can sustain you but the Creator himself. Dark moments come and go in all our lifetimes. And there are those in political office, who will try to turn your head away from the obvious truths. They will lie to you about what they believe. They will try to get you to follow what they consider politically correct while ignoring the truth, such as protests against the Mosque being built within blocks of the fallen Trade towers, which incidentally was a monument to wealth and wealth seekers. I am not trying to demean the innocent people whose only cause of their death was seeking a place of employment to feed their families. While they protest the Mosque, no one mentions the Native American sacred places that by treaty are seriously violated daily. Our Sacred Black Hills of South Dakota, sacred to many tribes, have the faces of many of our oppressors carved on them. The place of vision seeking, Bear Butte in South Dakota, sacred to us for millennia, has a bar built at the foot of it and there is talk of having helicopter flights around it to attract tourism. And, there is even talk of drilling for oil and gas.

Every time I have to write or I should say dictate, one of these statements, I try to think of what I would say if this was the last time I got to speak. The thing that comes to mind in some of our sacred ceremonies and that is thoughts of our relationships with the ones we love and the Creator of all life. Not to take away from the theme of this day, but if you can hold the person you love, be thankful. If you can walk on green grass, touch a tree, be thankful. If you can breathe air that didn’t come through a ventilation system, or a window with bars, be thankful. If you can stand in an open field or some other place at night and look up at the heavens, be thankful. No one appreciates the simple things as much as a man or woman locked away. I know sometimes some of my friends may have thought I had become institutionalized and there may be some element of my thinking behavior that has become calloused from this continued imprisonment. But I have not for a moment forgotten the needs of my people and the atrocities committed against them or the circumstances that all the poor and impoverished face in this world at the hands of those who take more than they need and exploit for gain, the futures of our children. I paint pictures of them sometimes, people I’ve known, people I’ve met, places I’ve seen, and places I’ve only seen in my minds eye. And if my paintbrush was magical, rest assured I would paint for myself one open door.

I wrestle with what to say to you and words are sometimes so inadequate. So if you are free today, un-imprisoned, be thankful. Give the person next to you a hug for me. May the Great Spirit bless you always in all ways with the things you need. May you find joy in doing what is right and righting what is wrong and seek to be the best example of what a human should be in our lifetime.

In the Spirit of those we mourn, those who gave their lives and those whose lives were taken from them.

I really don’t know what else to say because in writing this, my heart has become heavy with the emotions of this time.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, who gave his life for what was right and tried to right what was wrong.

Your Brother,


Leonard Peltier

Free Leonard Peltier: Hip Hop's Contribution to the Freedom Campaign

NEW !!!

Free Leonard Peltier:
Hip Hop's Contribution to the Freedom Campaign

Purchase / Download at CDBaby.
Also available for download
on iTunes, Amazon.com, and more!

Tracks:

A Piece for Peltier from a Panther Cub - Chairman Fred Hampton
Right This Wrong - Rakaa (Dilated Peoples) & 2Mex
Hold Your Head Up - M1 (dead prez) & Dj Child
Political Prisoner - Immortal Technique
When I Rhyme - Skyzoo, Talib Kweli & Reks
On Leonard Peltier - T-K.A.S.H.
Raid My Home - The Dime
Release Me - Arievolution & iamani i. ameni
Never Forget Joe Stuntz - Eseibio
Do It Movin' - Bicasso (Living Legends) & DJ Fresh
Trail of Tears - Mama Wisdom
Peltier's Beat Goes On - Buggin Malone
Right This Wrong (Instrumental) - DeeSkee



www.democracynow.org



British Novelist John le Carré on the Iraq War, Corporate Power, the Exploitation of Africa and His New Novel, "Our Kind of Traitor"
Today, we spend the hour with world-renowned British novelist John le Carré, the pen name of David Cornwell. Le Carré’s writing career spans half a century, during which he has established himself as a master spy writer. His latest novel, his twenty-second, is entitled Our Kind of Traitor. David Cornwell worked in the British Secret Services from the late 1950s until the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, became an international bestseller. As the Cold War ended, le Carré continued to write prolifically, shifting focus to the inequities of globalization, unchecked multinational corporate power, and the role national spy services play in protecting corporate interests. "The things that are done in the name of the shareholder are, to me, as terrifying as the things that are done—dare I say it—in the name of God," le Carré tells Democracy Now! Perhaps best known among his many post-Cold War novels is The Constant Gardener, depicting a pharmaceutical company’s exploitation of unwitting Kenyans for dangerous, sometimes fatal, drug tests. In this rare US interview, le Carré also discusses Tony Blair’s role in the Iraq war, US policy toward Iran, and international money laundering. [includes rush transcript]

www.democracynow.org

Support Oscar Lopez Rivera


Peaceful Greetings!

My name is Tony Rivera, and I am contacting you on behalf of the National Boricua Human Rights Network (an organization that defends the right of the current 'commonwealth/neo-colony' Puerto Rico to be a sovereign nation. And works to free political prisoners who've been punished for their beliefs and organizing around this cause.)

We are coming upon the 30th year that Oscar Lopez Rivera is imprisoned under maximum security, in conditions implicating that his human rights are being violated. Charged and serving a sentence for 'seditious *conspiracy*', we recognize his imprisonment as illegal ("conspiracy"), as he, like Leonard Peltier, was helping cultivate a movement to liberate his people in the context of a government usurping their rights to self-determination, during a time in which this very government activated it's central intelligence and FBI forces to sabotage our movement. Oscar is not in prison for a crime he committed, but rather, for his beliefs. After 30 years we are asking on the basis of Human Rights, that he be released alas.

In the post 9/11 world it is difficult to have this conversation with common citizens, and have them be able to separate struggles/resistances against imperialism and terrorism. So just by Oscar being associated with such charges, we run into the obstacle of accumulating our target 40,000 signatures. With the help of indigenous peoples in solidarity with Oscar's case, though, we increase the chances that Oscar will have the sufficient number of signatures he needs when he goes to the parole board in January.

Download the PDF of the petition.

If you have the time, resources, and space (and friends/co-workers/comrades) you envision you might be able to assist in support our campaign, I wish to invite you to download the attached PDF File, baring the petition, sign on and send it to the National Boricua Human Rights Network headquarters:


Coordinating Committee
National Boricua Human Rights Network
2739 W. Division Street
Chicago IL 60622

"Justice on Trial: Mumia Abu Jamal" L.A. PREMIERE - ONE NIGHT ONLY


Dec. 9 is the 29th anniversary of the night Mumia was accused of murdering a white policeman. He has always affirmed his innocence. This new film, "Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal," fairly presents the arguments made by Mumia's supporters alongside the prosecution's arguments and interviews with others advocating Mumia's execution. The film's featured interviews include press photographer Pedro Polakoff, whose newly discovered crime scene photos expose police manipulation of evidence.

L.A. PREMIERE - ONE NIGHT ONLY!

@ the Downtown Independent Theatre

251 S. Main Street, betw 2nd and 3rd

Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010 @ 7 p.m.


TICKETS: $12 at the door


213 - 321 - 0575 for more info

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No Country for Second Chances


November 23, 2010
No Country for Second Chances
By GEORGE LARDNER Jr.
An Op-Ed from the New York Times


LAST February, after long delays, the Justice Department sent President Obama hundreds of recommendations on requested pardons, each one carefully selected for a quick decision under standards for clemency that presidents have followed for decades.

Under these standards, no pardon can be recommended unless a petitioner has been out of prison and law-abiding for at least five years.

Most of the recommendations President Obama received called for a no, but some, according to people who recently left the administration, strongly favored a pardon. Nevertheless, Mr. Obama has yet to judge a single person worthy of his grace.

If by tomorrow he pardons no one but turkeys, President Obama will have the most sluggish record in this area of any American president except George W. Bush. He’ll have outdone George Washington, who granted a pardon after 669 days. And he will also have outlasted Bill Clinton, who took three days longer than Washington to grant his first pardons. If Mr. Obama waits until Christmas Eve, he will make even his immediate predecessor, who waited until Dec. 23, 2002, seem more generous.

Last month, President Obama turned down 605 requests for commutations — from prisoners who wanted their sentences shortened — and 71 for pardons.

It’s difficult to understand why the president has been so unwilling to grant any clemency. As someone who has taught constitutional law, he knows that the founders gave him, and him alone, the power “to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States except in cases of impeachment.” It is likely that he also knows that a disproportionate number of federal prisoners are black, that mandatory sentencing guidelines have left many of them with excessive sentences and that at least a few of them deserve clemency, whether they’ve asked for it or not.

The president has not only the power but also the responsibility to grant clemency when it is warranted. A pardon can help a worthy former prisoner qualify for a job or a license. But mainly it restores the person’s civil rights, including the right to vote.

What could be holding up Mr. Obama? There is no question that the federal pardon process is flawed. It has been handled by a tiny staff in the Justice Department’s office of the pardon attorney, which has worked for years in a climate of official hostility to any grants of clemency. (As Samuel Morison, a lawyer who worked in the pardon attorney’s office, recently wrote, the view inside the Justice Department is that the pardon attorney should mainly “defend the department’s prosecutorial prerogatives.”) Recommendations for a pardon or a commutation require a great deal of investigation; in most cases, the pardon attorney’s easiest course is to advise that the president say no.

Under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush together, the Justice Department received more than 14,000 petitions for commutations, but recommended only 13 to the White House. The current backlog of petitions for both commutations and pardons is tremendous, close to 4,000.

During President Obama’s first year in office, Gregory Craig, who was then White House counsel, recognized that the system wasn’t working. He talked with Justice Department officials about establishing a bipartisan commission or some quasi-independent office that would take over the pardon recommendations from the Justice Department. Mr. Craig’s ideas met with little enthusiasm.

The White House has tried to explain the current foot-dragging by saying that the president has asked for an updated set of standards for granting clemency. While improvements could be made, the truth is that the standards are time-tested — and fine, at least, for handling most petitions. President Obama needs only to do his job.

George Lardner Jr., an associate at the Center for the Study of the Presidency, is working on a history of the presidential pardon power.


Source URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/opinion/24lardner.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a212

News from Indianz.Com


www.indianz.com

Headlines

Native Sun News: Crow Creek women fight state on foster care (11/24)
Vi Waln: Lakota of South Dakota remain invisible in many ways (11/24)
Charles Trimble: Thanksgiving out among the colonized people (11/24)
Gyasi Ross: Indians giving thanks is one of our oldest practices (11/24)
White House Tribal Nations Conference being hosted at Interior (11/24)
Judge approves settlement in Saginaw Chippewa Tribe lawsuit (11/24)
VBS.TV: A day in the life of rodeo riders from the Navajo Nation (11/24)
Incoming New Mexico governor picks Indian affairs review team (11/24)
Kenneth Deer: Canada eats crow on indigenous rights document (11/24)
Opinion: Should Native Americans have rescued those Pilgrims? (11/24)
Food: Traditional Indian foods became part of American cuisine (11/24)
Judge allows lawmakers in Tohono O'odham off-reservation suit (11/24)
Winnebago Tribe hosts ribbon-cutting for $3M casino renovation (11/24)
Elouise Cobell provides update about action on trust fund lawsuit (11/23)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux vote approved despite complaint (11/23)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Iroquois must thank Shawnee for treaty (11/23)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives run a successful political campaign (11/23)
Attorney General Holder addresses Indian Heritage Month event (11/23)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe chairman opposes Cobell settlement (11/23)
NPR: NCAI president discusses settlement of Indian trust lawsuit (11/23)
Editorial: Overdue justice for Indian landowners with settlement (11/23)
WPR: Wisconsin tribes preparing for another summit with Obama (11/23)
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Indian youth (11/23)
Leech Lake Band council member under fire over loan agreement (11/23)
Judge considers settlement over Saginaw Chippewa reservation (11/23)
WUWM: Forest County Potawatomi Tribe ready for development (11/23)
KCAW: Sitka Tribe of Alaska fails to certify results of last election (11/23)
OPB: Grande Ronde Tribes celebrate restoration of federal status (11/23)
Taxpayer group releases information about First Nation salaries (11/23)
Opinion: Thanksgiving should rightfully be renamed Squanto Day (11/23)
More headlines... www.indianz.com

24 Nov 2010: Today's Democracy Now!


www.democracynow.org



Tim Shorrock: Direct Talks With North Korea Are the Only Answer to End Korean War
"The United States has only one choice in dealing with North Korea, even after its deadly artillery attack on a South Korean island," writes Tim Shorrock, an investigative journalist who has covered Korea for more than 30 years. "Negotiate directly with its government, forge an agreement to end Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, and move towards a peace agreement to formally end the Korean War." On Wednesday, South Korea found the bodies of two civilians killed in the North Korean attack. The bombardment also killed two South Korean soldiers, wounded 18 others and set dozens of homes ablaze. [includes rush transcript]

StoryCorps Declares Friday a National Day of Listening


To mark the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, StoryCorps is declaring Friday a National Day of Listening. StoryCorps is a national social history project created by the award-winning radio producer Dave Isay. Over the past seven years, more than 30,000 interviews have been recorded, making StoryCorps one of the largest oral history projects in U.S. history. We play one of StoryCorps’ most famous interviewees, the late, great oral historian, Studs Terkel. [includes rush transcript]

Dr. Gabor Maté on ADHD, Bullying and the Destruction of American Childhood
A spike in diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other mental disorders has fueled an unprecedented reliance on pharmaceutical medications to treat children, with long-term effects that remain unknown. We speak with Canadian physician and best-selling author, Dr. Gabor Maté. He argues that these responses are treating surface symptoms as causes while ignoring deeper roots. Dr. Maté says children are in fact reacting to the broader collapse of the nurturing conditions needed for their healthy development.

Headlines

•Corporate America Reports Record Profits
•Major Investment Firms Subpoenaed in Insider-Trading Case
•Study: Anti-AIDS Drug Reduces Risk of HIV Transmission
•UN: AIDS Epidemic Is Slowing
•Pope: Condoms Can Be Used to Stop AIDS
•Tensions Escalate on Korean Peninsula
•General Strike Staged in Portugal
•Labor Protests Planned in Ireland Over Cuts
•Expert Warns Cholera Could Spread to 400,000 Haitians
•Report: Massey Has Worst Safety Record in Coal Industry
•Int’l Day for the Elimination of Violence Marked

www.democracynow.org

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When the Constitution is No Obstacle to the FBI


http://counterpunch.com/rosenfeld11232010.html

November 23, 2010


When the Constitution is No Obstacle to the FBI

Legal Lessons From the Green Scare
By BEN ROSENFELD and LAUREN REGAN

"Anna” the 19-year-old FBI informant bought the materials and worked to keep the group focused on targets and time frames. When 28-year-old Eric McDavid and his two younger friends failed to muster sufficient enthusiasm for Anna’s sabotage schemes, she would pout and cry and excoriate them for “dilly-dallying.” Then they would pretend to re-dedicate themselves to her cause­especially McDavid, who had a crush on her, which she fed.

Two years earlier, the FBI had begun dressing Anna up as a medic and inserting her into activist gatherings to look for people to bust. It didn’t matter that McDavid and company had no real interest in Anna’s conspiracy, or that she had reported to her handlers that he was gentle and non-threatening. If you’re an “environmental or animal rights extremist” in the post-9/11 USA, there are two ways to get on the government’s bad side: (1) break the law, or (2) follow it. The FBI simply has no use for law-abiding activists when it’s out to crucify people as examples to a movement it wants to destroy.

Following McDavid’s 20-year sentence for conspiracy to commit arson (where the trial showed the group did not actually agree on, let alone do anything), his attorney Mark Reichel lamented, “We’re at the point where the government can do whatever the fuck they want.” (See “The Believers,” Elle Magazine, May 2008.) Punishment and deterrence aside, “Green Scare” prosecutors and their coordinators in Washington are willing to destroy individual lives to score political points, and to trample their own rules in the process.

That’s not to say eco-arson isn’t a serious crime. The people who set fires in the names of ELF and ALF must have known they were facing serious time if they got caught. But surely not more time than rapists and some murderers, especially where the evidence shows they went out of their way to prevent injury. The reality, though, is they do get sentenced more harshly. Jeff “Free” Luers received 22 years (before reduction to 10); Eric McDavid got 20 years; and Marie Mason got 22. That’s to say nothing of heavy sentences for actions like animal releases, or those which aren’t crimes at all but veiled assaults by the government itself on the First Amendment, as in the SHAC 7 prosecution (up to six years for operating a website and a fax machine), or the prosecutions of Sherman Austin and Rod Coronado for casually explaining how to start a time-delayed fire (in Austin’s case, by linking to someone else’s website, and in Coronado’s case, by answering a question put to him after a talk). Burn down a building to commit insurance fraud and you’re looking at about five years; do it with passion and you face ten to thirty-five.

In the years since 9/11, and the FBI’s declaration in 2005 that ELF and ALF represent the top domestic security threat (a claim which the Department of Homeland Security disavowed in its May 2008 “Ecoterrorism Threat Assessment” report), the rhetoric has been ratcheted up to a degree that it creates a distinctly hostile work environment for the Constitution. Freeing tortured animals is terrorism. Jugs filled with gasoline are incendiary devices, the mere possession of which nets you a mandatory 30-year sentence. Explaining your actions in a communiqué subjects you to a terrorism sentencing enhancement and imprisonment in the darkest U.S. dungeons, like the exquisitely barbaric Communications Management Unit at Marion, Illinois­a sensory deprivation chamber that would make Dostoyevsky blush­where Daniel McGowan resides [Daniel was moved to USP Marion recently]. (See his excellent piece, “Tales from Inside the U.S. Gitmo,” Huffington Post, June 8, 2009.) Earth First! is branded a violent group, lumped in with ELF and ALF, simply because some judge with a loose pen says so in drafting a defendant’s terms of probation. Never mind that we spent 12 years in the Judi Bari case successfully debunking the lie that Earth First! is violent.

Furthermore, if arson equals terrorism, it leaves us all lexically challenged to think of alternative terms for both. How else are the victims of real terror, like Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney (whose car bombing the FBI never labeled terrorism, except while trying to frame them for it), or people who survive planes flown into skyscrapers, supposed to make sense of the horrors they endured? The naming of things matters. When the government names things, it shifts entire budgets and priorities and realigns the thinking of judges and juries who fail to exercise an independent conscience as a result.

Many law enforcement officials earnestly believe it is just a matter of time before environmental activists begin carrying out assassinations and bombings. And exaggerated utterances by some activists have stoked those fears. But a lot of the same officials direct none of their opprobrium at right-wing zealots who actually murder and maim people. Whether police and policymakers sincerely believe the environmental movement is turning violent, it serves their institutional objectives (and budgets and staffing) to pretend so. They troll for confirming evidence in print and online, and exploit it endlessly when they feel they’ve found it. The FBI also relies on biased consultants and phony think tanks, like the industry-sponsored Center for Consumer Freedom, who assign literal significance to every satirical statement and then ascribe it to the whole radical environmental movement. In so doing, the FBI gives its witch hunt pseudo-academic cover.

According to a cynical 1972 Supreme Court decision, Laird v. Tatum, police do not violate the Constitution simply by creating dossiers on people; their surveillance has to produce some actual harm before it ripens into a rights violation. Even then, the law insulates police if they can articulate any pretext for an investigation beyond pure political harassment. Supporters of Eric McDavid recently obtained documents under a FOIA request showing that the feds are logging the names of people who write to eco-prisoners. There is no question that such Stasi-like behavior by our national police chills free expression and civic participation. But the Constitution is no obstacle to the FBI when it is ideologically bent on “disrupt[ing] and dismantl[ing]” social movements, as Director Robert Mueller admitted in a press release announcing the 2006 Oregon arrests. Arguably, such government intrusiveness is itself hardening the movement, terrifying some people into inaction, but driving others to organize underground.

Know-your-rights trainings, at least, are getting easier. “Thanks for coming. You have none. Good night.” In just a few years, Fourth Amendment protections have further unraveled to the point that in most jurisdictions, if police want to rummage the contents of your cell phone (presuming it is not password protected), they need only follow you until you commit a petty offense, like jaywalking, then arrest you and seize your phone. The simple fact is, it’s getting hard not to get caught. The original Oregon and Washington (“Operation Backfire”) defendants encrypted their computers, but entrusted their private keys to a person who ultimately traded them to the government for leniency.

It behooves the modern activist to ask: What does it even mean to get away? Friends and family are left holding the bag, and to deal with the visits, the raids, and the grand jury summons. As lawyers, our job includes comforting devastated parents who hope paradoxically that their hunted children both will and won’t get caught, so they can see them again, but not behind bars.

It is true that only a fraction of eco-saboteurs have been caught for crimes that have in some instances devastated entire industries, like fur farming and vivisection labs. The Department of Homeland Security catalogs numerous unsolved incidents­from fires which leveled multi-million dollar housing projects to a “stole[n] six rabbits and seven birds.” In a sense, authorities are like lions preying on a herd: some zebras are going to go down. But the environmental and animal rights communities do not give up loved ones lightly. They have spent incredible emotional, temporal, financial, and legal resources on prisoner support.

Far be it from a couple of lawyers to tell people what to think and do. But it is worth considering what an even more positive impact this creative and empathic community could have if it weren’t so drained trying to free loved ones from legal snares, let alone outfox the state on its own high tech turf. Global awareness about climate change and the excesses of capitalism are gaining momentum, and we could use more people to connect the two. In that sense, the competition for hearts and minds is still where some of the best direct action is. Subtract fire, and the rhetoric of violence, and strip the FBI of its biggest excuse for harassing environmentalists.

Ben Rosenfeld and Lauren Regan are attorneys specializing in civil rights and criminal defense. Lauren is the Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center based in Eugene, OR (www.cldc.org), and Ben, based in San Francisco, is a Board Member.

So, Canada Endorsed the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights?‏


On November 12, 2010, Canada became the 148th country to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). That leaves only the United States which is still reviewing its position on the declaration. The endorsement is a fairly important milestone for Indigenous Rights, even though declaration is considered to be "legally ...

Continue Reading: http://intercontinentalcry.org/so-canada-endorsed-the-un-declaration-of-indigenous-rights/

[Video] Day 1: AIM Conference, SF, CA


http://www.ustream.tv/channel/kmecradio

View footage from the AIM International 42nd Anniversary, Conference, San Francisco, Nov. 22-26, 2010



News from Indianz.Com


www.indianz.com

Headlines

Elouise Cobell provides update about action on trust fund lawsuit (11/23)
Native Sun News: Outgoing Oglala Sioux president files complaint (11/23)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Iroquois must thank Shawnee for treaty (11/23)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives run a successful political campaign (11/23)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe chairman opposes Cobell settlement (11/23)
NPR: NCAI president discusses settlement of Indian trust lawsuit (11/23)
Editorial: Overdue justice for Indian landowners with settlement (11/23)
WPR: Wisconsin tribes preparing for another summit with Obama (11/23)
Leech Lake Band council member under fire over loan agreement (11/23)
OPB: Grande Ronde Tribes celebrate restoration of federal status (11/23)
Opinion: Thanksgiving should rightfully be renamed Squanto Day (11/23)
Opinion: Mythology lies behind the modern Thanksgiving holiday (11/23)
ArtScene: Early portrayal of Thanksgiving showed confrontation (11/23)
Stockbridge Munsee Band seeks land claim exception for casino (11/23)
City weighs next step in Mashpee Wampanoag casino land case (11/23)
Tim Giago: Giving thanks is part of the Native American tradition (11/22)
Charles Trimble: Racism still alive and growing in Indian Country (11/22)
Melvin Martin: The importance of keeping Indian languages alive (11/22)
Mary Pember: Indian farmers told to stay 'patient' for settlement (11/22)
Senate finally approves $3.4B settlement for Indian trust lawsuit (11/22)
Senate passes water rights settlements for tribes in three states (11/22)
Muscogee Nation chief to ask Obama for apology at tribal summit (11/22)
Wisconsin Watch: Suicide among Native Americans remains high (11/22)
Opinion: Make attempt to meet your neighbors in Indian Country (11/22)
Opinion: Saginaw Chippewa settlement not so fair to non Indians (11/22)
Cherokee Nation begins work on $7M hospital expansion project (11/22)
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe seeks an increase in tourism business (11/22)
Book Review: War in Vietnam affects man's life in 'Extra Indians' (11/22)
New York governor expected to announce off-reservation casino (11/22)
Editorial: A bad deal for an off-reservation casino in the Catskills (11/22)
More headlines... www.indianz.com

23 Nov 2010: Today's Democracy Now!


www.democracynow.org



The Fear of Sicko: CIGNA Whistleblower Wendell Potter Apologizes to Michael Moore for PR Smear Campaign; Moore Says Industry Was Afraid Film Would Cause A 'Tipping Point' for Healthcare Reform
We host a joint interview with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore and Wendell Potter, who was the head of corporate communications for the health insurance giant CIGNA when Moore’s film, Sicko, was released in 2007. Potter left the company in 2008 and has since become the industry’s most prominent whistleblower. In the interview, Potter apologizes for his role in the industry’s attack on Moore and the film.

Moore accepted his apology, but acknowledged to Potter that, “I think we both know this is much larger then what was done to me or in the movie.” Moore said that the industry was willing to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to “stop a movie” because they were afraid it “could trigger a populist uprising against” against, what he called, a “sick system that will allow companies to profit off of us when we fall ill.”

Joe Nocera on "All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis"
As federal agents raid the offices of three major hedge funds amidst news of a sweeping probe of insider trading at Wall Street firms, we speak with New York Times business columnist, Joe Nocera, about his new book All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis. The book describes how most of the underlying structures and key players behind the financial crisis have emerged relatively unscathed.

Headlines

•North and South Korea Engage in Border Artillery Clash
•Report: Taliban Leader in Secret Talks Was An Impostor
•IMF Urges Ireland To Cut Jobless Benefits and Minimum Wage
•FBI Raids Hedge Fund Offices In Insider-Trading Probe
•Manufacturers of Full Body Scanners Increase Lobbying Effort
•Energy Dept: Nuclear Weapons Drivers Drank on the Job
•2006 GOP Report on Global Warming Was Partly Plagiarized
•Israeli 'Human Shield' Soldiers Get Suspended Sentence
•Food Banks Struggle to Feed Growing Number of Hungry American
•John Yoo Compares Torture to Driving Above Speed Limit

www.democracynow.org

Monday, November 22, 2010

News from Indianz.Com


www.indianz.com

Headlines

Tim Giago: Giving thanks is part of the Native American tradition (11/22)
Charles Trimble: Racism still alive and growing in Indian Country (11/22)
Melvin Martin: The importance of keeping Indian languages alive (11/22)
Mary Pember: Indian farmers told to stay 'patient' for settlement (11/22)
Senate finally approves $3.4B settlement for Indian trust lawsuit (11/22)
Senate passes water rights settlements for tribes in three states (11/22)
Muscogee Nation chief to ask Obama for apology at tribal summit (11/22)
Wisconsin Watch: Suicide among Native Americans remains high (11/22)
Opinion: Make attempt to meet your neighbors in Indian Country (11/22)
Opinion: Saginaw Chippewa settlement not so fair to non Indians (11/22)
Cherokee Nation begins work on $7M hospital expansion project (11/22)
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe seeks an increase in tourism business (11/22)
Book Review: War in Vietnam affects man's life in 'Extra Indians' (11/22)
New York governor expected to announce off-reservation casino (11/22)
Editorial: A bad deal for an off-reservation casino in the Catskills (11/22)
Judge rejects sale of land for Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino (11/22)
Column: Developer confident on Bay Mills off-reservation casino (11/22)
Native Sun News: Tribal members get less heat assistance funds (11/19)
Billy Frank: Fishermen again being asked to sacrifice for salmon (11/19)
Cedric Sunray: Haskell rejects students from non-federal tribes (11/19)
Opinion: Thanksgiving is America's way of foregetting genocide (11/19)
Letter: Addressing suicide about Indian youth an urgent matter (11/19)
NPR: Tribal leaders set national agenda at annual NCAI meeting (11/19)
Narragansett chief on Capitol Hill to lobby for land-into-trust fix (11/19)
Sen. McCaskill takes aim at Alaska Native corporation contracts (11/19)
Bad River Band sends officers to school after Facebook threats (11/19)
Ousted Santa Ysabel Band leader won't accept election results (11/19)
Appeals court reject 1868 treaty defense in federal prosecution (11/19)
Former St. Regis Mohawk chief indicted on federal drug charges (11/19)
More headlines... www.indianz.com

Senate OK's $4.5B Settlement for Black Farmers and Indians


Senate OK's $4.5B Settlement for Black Farmers and Indians
By AVERY FELLOW

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Senate has unanimously approved $4.55 billion to settle longstanding claims that the government discriminated against black farmers in making loans and mismanaged trust accounts for American Indians.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve the two settlements, which include $3.4 billion for the American Indian trust account holders and $1.15 billion for a class of black farmers. The bill now goes to the House for approval.

The House already approved similar measures twice this year, but the measures stalled in the Senate.

In the class action Pigford v. Glickman, tens of thousands of black farmers claimed the government racially discriminated in loan and benefit programs from 1981 through 1986 and denied the farmers the opportunity to file for relief. The farmers also claimed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to investigate and resolve years of civil rights complaints.

In Cobell v. Salazar, filed in 1996, American Indians sued the government for allegedly mismanaging individual trust accounts involving oil, gas, mineral and other royalties from tribal lands. The $3.4 billion settlement, reached in December, includes a $1.4 billion trust fund, a $60 million scholarship fund and $2 billion to repurchase tribal lands that the government was supposed to be holding in trust.

"Black farmers and Native American trust account holders have had to wait a long time for justice, but now it will finally be served," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement Friday. "I am heartened that Democrats and Republicans were able to come together to deliver the settlement that these men and women deserve for the discrimination and mismanagement they faced in the past."

The Network of Black Farm Groups and Advocates called the Senate passage of the bill a "momentous occasion," saying its members "support the Secretary of Agriculture's efforts to resolve all of the outstanding lawsuits against the USDA for discrimination of underserved farmers."

"President Obama and I pledged not only to treat all farmers fairly and equally, but to right the wrongs of the past for farmers who faced discrimination," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement Friday.

"Today, the Senate took a bold step and provided the funding to give relief to black farmers who have suffered from discrimination that is well-documented and has been affirmed by the courts. ... This announcement marks a major milestone in USDA's efforts to turn the page on a sad chapter in our history."

President Obama also praised lawmakers for advancing the bill.

"I applaud the Senate for passing the Claims Settlement Act of 2010," Obama said in a statement Friday.

He said the administration "continues to work to resolve claims of past discrimination made by women and Hispanic farmers against the USDA."

"I urge the House to move forward with this legislation as they did earlier this year, and I look forward to signing it into law," Obama said.

Source URL:

http://blogs.wweek.com/news/2010/11/22/update-the-longest-odds-senate-approves-3-4-billion-settlement-for-native-americans /

22 Nov 2010: Today's Democracy Now!


www.democracynow.org



Video Report From Afghanistan: How the U.S. Counter-insurgency Campaign Is Failing
At a conference in Portugal over the weekend, NATO countries agreed to hand over responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. In his speech, President Obama claimed there has been significant progress in the fight against the Taliban. But reports from the ground in Afghanistan question these upbeat claims about the ongoing NATO operation. Last spring, NATO launched a major operation in the Taliban-held town of Marjah. The offensive was supposed to showcase America’s new counter-insurgency campaign and demonstrate that victory is still possible. Independent filmmaker Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films recently traveled to Marjah and discovered the counter-insurgency campaign in crisis.

Anthony DePalma on "City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance and 9/11"
In New York, a settlement will pay hundreds of millions of dollars to more than 10,000 rescue workers who were exposed to toxic debris after 9/11. We speak with Anthony DePalma, author of the new book, City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance and 9/11. "The dust becomes a metaphor," DePalma said, “because after those statements come out [about the air being safe to breathe], the rest of the people in New York were left without about the ability to believe anyone. Their trust crumbled, just the way the towers crumbled." [Includes rush transcript]

Chalmers Johnson, 1931-2010, on the Last Days of the American Republic
The distinguished scholar and best-selling author Chalmers Johnson has died. He passed away in California on Saturday afternoon at the age of 79. During the Cold War, he served as a consultant to the Central Intelligence Agency and was a supporter of the Vietnam War, however, later became a leading critic of U.S. militarism and imperialism. He wrote the book, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire in 2000, which became a bestseller after the 9/11 attacks. He went on to complete what would become a trilogy about American empire. Today we re-air part of our last interview with Chalmers Johnson from 2007.

Headlines

•UN: World’s Response to Haiti Cholera Epidemic "Completely Inadequate"
•NATO Official: Children in Kabul Safer than in NYC or London
•U.S. Forces Likely to Stay in Afghanistan After NATO’s 2014 Deadline
•Poll: 92% of Young Afghan Men Don’t Know About 9/11 Attacks
•U.S. Seeks to Expand Drone Strikes in Pakistan
•Ireland Requests Massive EU/IMF Bailout
•Warren Buffett: Trickle-Down Economics Don’t Work
•Settlements Approved for Native Americans and African-American Farmers
•TSA Chief Defends Use of Full-Body Scanners & Physical Pat-Downs
•North Korea Reveals New Uranium Enrichment Plant
•Wild Tigers Could Be Extinct in 12 Years
•22 Arrested at Protest Outside School of the Americas
•Mayor of London to Bush: Stay Away From U.K. or Face Possible Arrest

www.democracynow.org

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This Week from Indian Country Today


www.indiancountrytoday.com

Second tribal meeting announced at NCAI
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On the opening day of the National Congress of American Indians convention, the White House announced it will convene the second Tribal Leaders Summit Dec. 16 to help frame priorities that can be accomplished before President Barack Obama’s term ends in 2012.

Headlines

•Contest designed to inspire sense of honor and dignity
•Second tribal meeting announced at NCAI
•Pine Ridge election proceeds smoothly
•Fox News gets Sitting Bull history wrong
•Making the promise real: ACLU looks at justice in Indian country
•Alaska Senate race controversies continue
•Close watch on salmon spawning may predict 2011 fishing season’s success
•In Washington state, two wins, two losses
•Indian beauty contests at Pendleton Roundup
•Shrinking boundaries may create fainter voices
•Police shooting death of John Williams ‘not justified’
•Native Hawaiians face harsh realities in state criminal justice system
•Judge rules in Navajo opponents’ favor
•Sheriff releases sketch of deceased found on beach
•Parker, Simla, Simpson, Sylvester are Enduring Spirits
•Canoes, tall ships reenact early trade on Columbia River
•Forage fish habitat restoration begins on March’s Point
•Navajo health may improve with ozone curbs
•HUD Indian mortgage program surges
•Tribal funds were misdirected
•St. Regis Mohawk refuses payments to New York
•Election 2010 Native influence: ‘the Frybread Factor’
•Obama failed to connect through Native media in election season
•Happy Canyon Pageant runs four nights at Roundup
•Chief Oshkosh controversy brings back painful memories

Opinion

Sunray: White privilege in action at Haskell

What do the MOWA Choctaw, Rappahannock, Mattaponi, Pamunkey, Nanticoke, Abenaki, Yuchi/Euchee, Canadian Ojibwa, Upper Mattaponi, Chickahominy, Chickahominy Indians Eastern Division, Haliwa-Saponi, North Carolina Tuscarora, Houma and Lumbee have in common? Read more at www.indiancountrytoday.com.

For news you won't get from Indian Country Today, see Censored News.

Parole for Oscar Lopez Rivera


The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign's New Campaign


717 is not Enough! Forward this out far and wide! Oscar needs your Support!

In solidarity with the National Boricua Human Rights Network's (NBHRN) new campaign to ask for parole for Oscar Lopez Rivera, one of our two Puerto Rican Political Prisoners, ProLibertad has started an online petition to pressure President Brack Obama to give Oscar parole or to commute his sentence.

We are asking all freedom loving people to support both the online petition, which will be sent to President Barack Obama once we have reached our goal of 10,000 petitioners, and to support the letter writing campaign by the NBHRN. Our letters and online support will help us bring one of the longest held political prisoners home!

Both campaigns are important! We must use all avenues available to help win parole/commutation for Oscar.

Sign our petition: http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/Parole4OscarLopezR/

and send a letter out: http://boricuahumanrights.org/


"Agitation, organization, resistance, struggle and love are the ingredients that will guarantee us VICTORY!" -Oscar Lopez Rivera, Puerto Rican Political Prisoner

For more information on Oscar Lopez Rivera and to write to him:

http://www.prolibertadweb.com/id40.html


AND


The Friends and Family Committee of Avelino Claudio Gonzales is relieved to Know and happy to share the fact that our Political Prisoner has finally been taken to a U.S. Federal medical Facility. His son Juan Antonio informed us of this fact late yesterday evening. For almost two months Avelino has been in transit from Connecticut to where he is expected to serve the remainder of his seven year sentence.

While in Federal custody Avelino was diagnosed with Parkinson's decease. At the time of his sentencing in late May, the Federal Judge recommended that he be transferred to a Federal correctional Medical Facility either in Texas or Florida in order to have his medical needs met while in prison. It must be noted that Judges can make recommendations to the Federal Prison System but cannot dictate

Avelino was placed in transit to a Federal medical detention center in Texas. The Federal Beaurou of Prisons sent Avelino to the Brooklyn Detention Center instead. Neither the family nor his attorneys were notified. The family became aware by tracking Avelino via the Internet.

As a prisoner in transit, Avelino was placed in Solitary Confinement, at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center. Under these circumstances Avelino was isolated from the general population, has no right to visits by anyone but attorneys and the right to only one phone call a month. Once in the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center Avelino was denied the medication medically prescribed for Parkinson’s.

We want to thank N.Y.C. Attorney Michael Warren who made himself immediately available to take the necessary steps to have the situation corrected. He visited Avelino at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center and confirmed his circumstances. We want to thank ProLibertad We want to thank Espie Martel, Melisa Montero, Diana Crowder who all worked with members of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights (NCPRR) NYC Chapter. Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez and the Chief of staff of Congressman Jose Serrano were contacted about Avelino’s situation. Velasquez office working with Michael Warren and phone calls from Serrano’s office made possible that Avelino be provided with his medication.

In recent days Avelino was first moved to a detention center in Oklahoma and now he is finally at a medical facility. We must remain vigilant to insure that he receives all the medical care needed.

Lastly, lets continue to work diligently to Free Avelino Claudio Gonzales, Oscar Lopez and all Political Prisoners

The new mailing address of our Puerto Rican Political Prisoner is:

Avelino González-Claudio
#09873-000
FCI Bastrop
PO Box 1010
Bastrop, TX 78602

Friday, November 19, 2010

Statement Against FBI and Grand Jury Repression


Statement Against FBI and Grand Jury Repression
By Angela Davis at Nov 18, 2010
http://www.zcommunications.org/statement-against-fbi-and-grand-jury-repression-by-angela-davis


On September 24 the FBI raided homes of 14 activists in movements in solidarity with oppressed workers and peoples of Latin America and Israel/Palestine. I consider these raids to be an assault on democracy. While the immediate targets of the raids were activists in movements in solidarity with trade unionists and others facing violence in Colombia and the Middle East, their purpose is to disrupt the unity of progressive movements by sowing suspicion, distrust, and an aura of guilt by association. I am not too young to remember the dark days of McCarthyism in our country, and I know very well what the effect of such government reprisals can be.

The FBI seized computers, cell phones, boxes of papers and personal possessions from all 14. They served grand jury subpoenas on many of them. The FBI announced they were investigating possible “material support” to terrorist groups. But it appears that their real purpose is to disrupt the growing unity of the majority of Americans who are critical of the wars and occupations being carried out today in Iraq and Afghanistan, who oppose U. S. support for violence against trade unionists in Colombia and against Palestinians by the Israeli government in Israel, on the West Bank, and in Gaza. The only way the FBI’s actions make any sense at all is to see them as an attempt to isolate and intimidate any who would dissent from government policy or speak out against injustice. These raids violate the spirit and the letter of the Bill of Rights. They endanger the freedom of the entire U. S. population.

We learned bitter lessons from the FBI’s COINTELPRO repression in the 1960s, in which African American leaders, including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and leaders of the Black Panther Party such as Fred Hampton, were targeted for assassination. Progressive movements were targeted for disruption.

I urge President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to

· Direct the FBI to return the belongings seized.
· Dissolve the grand juries threatening an inquisition against peace and solidarity activists and movements.
· Cancel all subpoenas to appear before the grand jury in Chicago.

I would like to work with my Congressman Barbara Lee to support initiatives in Congress for the repeal of provisions of law that define solidarity with human rights abroad as “material support” for terrorism. The rights of all Americans must be preserved to peaceably assemble and petition their government to end support for repressive and militarist governments abroad, and states that commit war crimes and terrorist acts against their own or other people struggling for basic human rights.

Angela Y. Davis is the author of many books, her most recent are: Abolition Democracy, Are Prisons Obsolete? and a new critical edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave.

No News is Not Good News: If Cops Tape Protests and Journalists and No One Reports It, Is It Intimidation?


No News is Not Good News: If Cops Tape Protests and Journalists and No One Reports It, Is It Intimidation?
Created 11/19/2010 - 10:20
by: Dave Lindorff

Is it news when police photograph and videotape demonstrations?

Apparently for American editors and reporters, making that news judgement depends on where the demonstration occurs and what nationality the police are.

When a hundred artists gathered outside a Beijing courtroom in mid-November to protest the jailing of artist Wu Yuren, who had earlier been beaten by police and jailed because he had gone to a police station to file a complaint against a landlord, the New York Times ran an article by reporter Andrew Jacobs which pointedly noted that police officers had videotaped the crowd, and then quoted a demonstrator, artist Dou Bu, as saying, “I was scared to come out here today, but you have to face your fears.”

But a week earlier, when several hundred backers of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a black journalist on Pennsylvania’s death row for the killing of a police officer, demonstrated in front of a Third Circuit federal court building in Philadelphia, where a three-judge panel was rehearing an argument on his sentence, and local police not only videotaped the officially sanctioned rally, but also aggressively photographed and taped a group of journalists waiting to be allowed into the courtroom early, there was no mention of their action in any media, local or national.

In Philadelphia, and in cities across the country, it has become routine for police departments to openly and surreptitiously videotape participants in demonstrations, and to assemble files on demonstrators, even when the events are entirely peaceful and without incident, and when the rallies or marches have been issued city permits.

Philadelphia Police officials insist that the photographing and videotaping of protests is legal and is not intended to intimidate dissent. Lt. Raymond Evers, who heads the Philadelphia Police public affairs unit, says the purpose of such photographic records is “crowd control and training.” He claims the department wants a record so that if any violence occurs, police can show what happened, and how police responded, and also so that any perpetrators or malefactors can be identified later.

That doesn’t explain what happened at the Abu-Jamal hearing, however. On Nov. 9, some 12 journalists who had come to the Federal Courthouse on 6th Street, just two blocks from the old Independence Hall where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed, to cover an appellate court panel hearing reviewing a federal district judge’s 2001 ruling that lifted Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, found themselves surrounded by Philadelphia Police who began photographing and videotaping them at close range. The reporters, who had been credential-checked and then herded by US Marshals down a kind of “cattle chute” constructed of temporary metal barriers, to a holding point in front of the court building’s main entrance, were unable to avoid being repeatedly photographed.

Many, including journalists from abroad, expressed shock and dismay at the police actions. “Is this how they treat the press here in America?” asked one reporter from Agence France Presse.

Linn Washington, a local journalist with the Philadelphia Tribune, America’s oldest African-American newspaper (and a member of the ThisCantBeHappening! news collective), who was singled out for photographing and videotaping by police cameramen as he walked down the chute alone to join the other journalists, said, “It was absolutely a process designed to intimidate us.”

Journalists who asked the police pointing the cameras, and accompanying officers in civilian clothes from the department’s civil affairs office, for an explanation for their actions, and for information concerning what would be done with the resulting photographs and video records, were met with a stony silence.

It is likely that their images may end up intelligence files held in Washington, DC.

A couple of years ago, at an anti-war rally in front of the municipal building across the street from Philadelphia’s City Hall, I spotted an unidentified and unmarked police videographer standing alongside legitimate TV cameramen recording speakers at the permitted event, and also panning the assembled crowd. Noting that he had no identifying TV station placard on his camera as the other cameras had, I asked him what station he was with. When he ignored me, I asked a couple more times, at which point he aggressively and silently turned his big videocamera directly on me. At that point, I identified him to rally attendees as a police officer. He and an associate I hadn’t noticed earlier immediately hurried off to a nearby Police Department van and left the scene.

When I later called the police department to ask about the taping, I was told that it was routine to tape demonstrations, and that because the Philadelphia Police are part of the federal Anti-Terrorism Joint Strike Force, copies of such tapes would be provided to the federal Department of Homeland Security.

In other words, in America, participating in a First Amendment-protected activity--protesting at a rally that has been granted a city permit--can get your image added to some terrorism file in Washington, DC.

Is that also what happens to the images of reporters who are simply performing their First Amendment role of reporting on a court hearing?

No doubt.

But is this news in the American corporate media?

Apparently not.

If police tape demonstrators or journalists at a political event, it’s only news if it occurs somewhere like China.

----
Source URL: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/306

News from Indianz.Com


www.indianz.com

Headlines:

Native Sun News: Tribal members get less heat assistance funds (11/19)
Billy Frank: Fishermen again being asked to sacrifice for salmon (11/19)
NPR: Tribal leaders set national agenda at annual NCAI meeting (11/19)
Ousted Santa Ysabel Band leader won't accept election results (11/19)
Former St. Regis Mohawk chief indicted on federal drug charges (11/19)
Public Radio: Lawmaker in Kentucky backs tribal recognition bill (11/19)
NIGA opposes amendment to restrict land-into-trust for gaming (11/19)
Spokane Tribe moves ahead with off-reservation casino project (11/19)
Mashantucket Tribe to fight decision on union election at casino (11/19)
La Jolla Band mum about casino plans with new gaming partner (11/19)
Fodder: Poarch Creeks hire firm to follow consumers at casinos (11/19)
Native Sun News: Water issues worry Natives in Lakota country (11/18)
LA Times Blog: Fox News attacks Obama's Sitting Bull reference (11/18)
Justice Department establishes separate Office of Tribal Justice (11/18)
Lisa Murkowski declares victory after historic write in campaign (11/18)
Stockbridge Munsee casino faces major opposition in New York (11/18)
Editorial: Casinos haven't lifted tribes in Oregon out of poverty (11/18)
NRDC Blog: Off-reservation casino not so great for the Catskills (11/18)
Editorial: Reject Jemez Pueblo's plan for off-reservation casino (11/18)
NCPR: St. Regis Mohawk Tribe at 'impasse' on compact payouts (11/18)
Native Sun News: Newspaper lands deal to expand distribution (11/17)
Fox News site wrong over claim that Sitting Bull 'killed' Custer (11/17)
Editorial: Tribal Law and Order Act a tool to help combat crime (11/17)
NPR: Filmmaker investigates family's secrets in 'Lost Sparrow' (11/17)
Michigan attorney pushes trial in Saginaw Chippewa land case (11/17)
Cayuga Nation weighs lawsuit after seized tobacco is returned (11/17)
Oregon State to host Nike N7 game to raise Native awareness (11/17)
Peltier supporters push for tests due to concerns about health (11/17)
More headlines... www.indianz.com

25 November: Alcatraz Island Annual Sunrise Gathering


Alcatraz Island Annual Sunrise Gathering!

Thursday, November 25th, 4:00–9:00 AM

Leaving from Hornblower Tours at Pier #31

For advance tickets call (415) 981-7625 or visit www.alcatrazcruises.com.

41st National Day of Mourning


25 November 2010

41st National Day of Mourning
12:00 noon
Coles Hill Plymouth, MA

Information:

United American Indians of New England
284 Amory Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Phone: (617) 522-6626
E-mail: info@uaine.org
Website: http://www.uaine.org

19 Nov 2010: Today's Democracy Now!


www.democracynow.org



National Outcry Over TSA Body Scanners and Invasive Pat-Downs
As one of the busiest travel seasons of the year approaches there is a public outcry over new airport security measures that include full-body scanners and invasive police-style pat-downs. We speak with the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as New York City Councilman David Greenfield, who introduced a resolution to ban the use of the full body scanners in airports within the city.

Cornel West on Charles Rangel, Bush & Kanye West and Why Obama Admin "Seems to Have Very Little Concern for Poor People"
Princeton University professor and author Cornel West join us to talk about Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) being censured for ethics violations, President George W. Bush saying the worst moment of his presidency was when Kanye West called him a racist, and President Obama’s policies toward the poor. "The Obama administration seems to have very little concern for poor people and their social misery," West said.

Economist Ha-Joon Chang on Currency Wars, the G20 and Why "There’s No Such Thing As a Free Market"
Korean-born economist Ha-Joon Chang teaches economics at the University of Cambridge and is the author of the forthcoming book 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism. "Obama] has to buy time to restructure the economy without creating a recession by sustaining this deficit spending, because otherwise our other option is going back to the 1930s," Chang says. "Don’t forget that in the 1930s a lot of countries started cutting this deficit as soon as things looked slightly better, and many of them went back into recession."

Headlines

•U.S. Introduces Tanks Into Afghan War
•Protesters to Hold Antiwar March at NATO Summit
•Cholera Protests Reach Haitian Capital
•Obama Pushes Ratification of Russia Nuke Treaty
•Obama: Taxpayers Could Recoup Cost of GM Bailout
•House Ethics Committee Backs Censure of Rangel
•Senate Advances Food Safety Bill
•Study: More Testing Needed on GM Salmon
•Biotech Lobbying, Campaign Donations Tops $500M Since 2000
•Univ. of California Regents Approve Consecutive Tuition Hike
•Swedish Court Orders Arrest of WikiLeaks Founder

www.democracynow.org

Video, photos, articles: Southern Border Roundtable‏


Video, photos, articles: Southern Border Roundtable‏
Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/
Earthcycles
http://www.earthcycles.net/

TUCSON -- The Indigenous Alliance without Borders hosted a Southern Border Indigenous Peoples Roundtable Symposium Thurs., Nov. 18. The panel focused on the political climate and racism in Arizona and how this affects Indigenous Peoples.

Learn more at http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/.

Listen to Border Indigenous Rights: Panel speakers Shannon Rivers, O'otham from Gila River, and Julian Rivas, O'odham from Mexico. This 60 minute segment of the program includes comments from the audience. Southern Border Indigenous Roundtable, sponsored by the Indigenous Alliance without Borders.

Listen at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/brenda-norrell.

Lakota Voices


Arlette Loud Hawk talks about spirituality, Sundance, and tells us what it was like for her as a young Lakota woman growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation on the day of the Oglala firefight in 1975.

Part 1


Part 2


Attorney General Eric Holder reverses Bush policy on DNA waivers


Attorney General Eric Holder reverses Bush policy on DNA waivers
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 18, 2010; 11:38 AM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/17/AR2010111706321.html?hpid=topnews


Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Thursday reversed a controversial Bush administration policy under which numerous defendants have waived their right to DNA testing even though that right is guaranteed under federal law, the Justice Department said.

Holder issued a memo to the nation's federal prosecutors overturning the policy of seeking "DNA waivers,'' the department said in a statement.

The waivers have been in widespread use in federal cases for about five years and run counter to the national movement toward allowing prisoners to seek post-conviction DNA testing to prove their innocence. More than 260 wrongly convicted people have been exonerated by such tests, though virtually all have been state prisoners.

The waivers are filed only in guilty pleas and bar defendants from ever requesting DNA testing, even if evidence emerges that could exonerate them. Statistics show that innocent people sometimes plead guilty, often for a reduced sentence. One quarter of the 261 people who have been exonerated by DNA testing had falsely confessed to crimes they didn't commit, and 19 of them pleaded guilty, according to the New York-based Innocence Project.

Holder last year ordered a review of the little-known policy, under which the Bush Justice Department had told prosecutors to seek DNA waivers whenever possible. The review came after inquiries about DNA waivers by The Washington Post.

The waivers have been part of the standard plea agreement filed by some of the nation's most prominent U.S. attorneys, including those in the District, Alexandria and Manhattan. Defense lawyers say their clients are essentially forced to sign the waivers or lose the benefits of a plea agreement, such as a lighter sentence.

Holder's memo said the DNA waiver policy is inconsistently applied and is "too rigid to accommodate the facts presented by individual cases.'' As of last year, at least 19 U.S. attorneys' offices used the waivers for some or all plea agreements, while 24 U.S. attorneys did not use them. It could not be determined how many inmates have been affected by the policy, because the remaining U.S. attorneys' offices did not respond to inquiries or declined to comment.

Now, Holder's memo says prosecutors can only seek the waivers in "exceptional circumstances" andwith a supervisor's approval.

The new policy on DNA waivers came with another Holder memo, also issued Thursday, that clarified Justice Department guidelines for collecting DNA samples from federal prisoners. The memo noted that regular collection of such samples must be a priority.

"DNA evidence is one of the most powerful tools available to the criminal justice system, and these new steps will ensure the department can use DNA to the greatest extent possible to solve crimes and ensure the guilty are convicted," said Holder, a former U.S. attorney in the District who has called for expanded DNA testing in federal courts.

"Improving both the collection and the use of DNA evidence will help law enforcement and prosecutors keep communities safe,'' he said.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday commended Holder for "reversing the Bush administration policy of demanding that defendants waive their right to DNA testing as a requirement of certain plea negotiations.''

Leahy authored the Innocence Protection Act of 2004, a law that for the first time allowed federal inmates to seek post-conviction DNA tests to prove their innocence. He said Thursday that he had wanted to "ensure that the guilty are punished and the innocent are exonerated" and that Holder's policy shift "furthers my intent in passing that landmark law.''

Defense lawyers and DNA advocates also welcomed the Justice Department's reversal, saying that denying prisoners the ability to prove their innocence violates a fundamental right.

"It never made any sense to force people, as a condition of a plea, to give up their right to future DNA testing, particularly since we know that factually innocent people plead guilty,'' said Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project. While few federal prisoners have sought post-conviction DNA testing, in part because of the waiver policy, Neufeld expects that number to rise.

Steve Benjamin, a Richmond lawyer who is vice president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, called Holder's decision "a no-brainer. There should never be any bar to a person's ability to establish their innocence.''

He added that using the waivers in guilty pleas had essentially "gutted" the Innocence Protection Act because government statistics show that more than 95 percent of federal convictions result from guilty pleas.

Interviews and documents show that the DNA waiver policy arose in response to the 2004 law. Language allowing for DNA waivers was inserted into the law at the behest of Republican senators, congressional sources said, and the Bush Justice Department lobbied against the measure, even with the waiver provision.

Soon after the law passed with bipartisan support, the department sent a secret memo in November 2004 to the nation's U.S. attorneys directing them to seek the waivers, according to federal officials who have seen the memo.

Prosecutors who use the waivers have said that guilty pleas should be final and that those who have admitted guilt should not be able to file frivolous petitions for testing. They say the wave of DNA exonerations has little impact in federal court because nearly all of those found to be innocent were state prisoners, and the waivers apply only to federal charges. DNA evidence is used far more frequently in state courts.

But DNA experts have said that is about to change because more sophisticated testing will soon bring biological evidence into federal courtrooms for a wider variety of crimes. And last year, a District man, Donald Eugene Gates, became the first federal inmate exonerated by DNA testing. He had been jailed for 28 years in the rape and murder of a Georgetown University student, until DNA evidence revealed that another man committed the crime.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NYC: McGowan benefit on 07 Dec.


On December 7, 2005, New York City activist Daniel McGowan was among the first people arrested in an FBI offensive against environmental activists called "Operation Backfire." Operation Backfire is part of the federal government's broader campaign of repression of environmentalists and animal liberationists called the Green Scare (an allusion to the Red Scares of the early and mid twentieth century).

To mark the five-year anniversary of the Operation Backfire arrests, and to highlight the continued repression of activists that the federal government has labeled "terrorists," Family & Friends of Daniel McGowan will be hosting dinner and a movie this December. Proceeds will go to Daniel's commissary account.

WHO: Presented by Family & Friends of Daniel McGowan.

WHAT: A delicious home-cooked vegan dinner and screening of the highly entertaining film "Forest Warrior," starring none other than Chuck Norris.

WHEN: 7-10pm, Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

WHERE: Semi-Legit - 6 Charles Place, Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York.

COST: $5-$20, suggested donation