Friday, July 31, 2015

BREAKING: Top trade officials from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership countries fell short of reaching agreement

Top trade officials from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership countries fell short of reaching agreement on the biggest trade deal in history Friday, potentially jeopardizing one of President Barack Obama's top goals for his second term.

Despite progress on several issues, the talks stalled on several longstanding disagreements, including Canadian dairy market access, Japanese barriers to auto and rice imports, and U.S. demands for strong intellectual property protections for a new generation of pharmaceuticals.

The countries in the deal, which also include Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Vietnam, account for 40 percent of global economic output.

Neil Young Releases Mini-Documentary Exposing Monsanto and the ‘DARK Act’

Neil Young bravely takes on Monsanto - again - by releasing the short film "Seeding Fear."

Longtime activist and music legend Neil Young is stirring the crowd again, but this time with the debut of his latest mini-documentary, “Seeding Fear.” 

Having recently released his album “The Monsanto Years,” Young is using his celebrity ‘status’ to raise awareness about the biotech corporation Monsanto and its corrupt doings.

In the 10-minute short documentary below, the story of a farmer named Michael White is told, who with his father Wayne, took on the corporation in court.




https://youtu.be/YZGueeao0tE


St. Louis County Biased Against Black Juveniles, Justice Department Finds

The Justice Department said Friday that the juvenile justice system in St. Louis County, Mo., treats black youths more harshly than whites and deprives all low-income youths accused of crimes — no matter what race — of their basic constitutional rights.
 
In a 61-page report describing serious and routine violations of juveniles’ rights, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said youths accused of a crime are given little or no chance to stay out of detention, dispute the charges against them, or have the help of a lawyer. Among the most fundamental problems in the county’s Family Court is that for a county with one million people, there is just one, overwhelmed public defender for juveniles, who handled 394 cases in 2014.
 
More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/01/us/st-louis-county-biased-against-black-juveniles-justice-department-finds.html
 
 

TransCanada's Keystone XL Permit Renewal Hearing Sheds Light on Serious Pipeline Risks

Just because TransCanada continually states that the Keystone XL pipeline will be the safest pipeline ever built, doesn't mean it is true.

The company's pipeline construction record is facing intense scrutiny in America's heartland, where many see no justifiable rationale to risk their water and agricultural lands for a tar sands export pipeline.

New documents submitted as evidence in the Keystone XL permitting process in South Dakota - including one published here on DeSmog for the first time publicly - paint a troubling picture of the company's shoddy construction mishaps. This document, produced by TransCanada and signed by two company executives, details the results of its investigation into the "root cause" of the corrosion problems discovered on the Keystone pipeline.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32161-evidence-released-at-transcanada-s-keystone-xl-permit-renewal-hearing-sheds-light-on-serious-pipeline-risks

Police Remove Activists From Portland Bridge After They Blocked Shell Ship

In Portland, Oregon, law enforcement officers have removed Greenpeace activists who spent 40 hours suspended from the St. Johns Bridge to block an icebreaking ship commissioned by oil giant Shell from leaving for the Arctic.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32162-police-remove-activists-from-portland-bridge-after-they-blocked-shell-ship

The FBI Built a Database That Can Catch Rapists — Almost Nobody Uses It

For roughly 30 years the FBI has virtually ignored a system meant to help cops track the behavioral patterns of violent criminals.

QUANTICO, Va. — More than 30 years ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a revolutionary computer system in a bomb shelter two floors beneath the cafeteria of its national academy. Dubbed the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, or ViCAP, it was a database designed to help catch the nation’s most violent offenders by linking together unsolved crimes. A serial rapist wielding a favorite knife in one attack might be identified when he used the same knife elsewhere. The system was rooted in the belief that some criminals’ methods were unique enough to serve as a kind of behavioral DNA — allowing identification based on how a person acted, rather than their genetic make-up.

Equally as important was the idea that local law enforcement agencies needed a way to better communicate with each other. Savvy killers had attacked in different jurisdictions to exploit gaping holes in police cooperation. ViCAP’s “implementation could mean the prevention of countless murders and the prompt apprehension of violent criminals,” the late Sen. Arlen Specter wrote in a letter to the Justice Department endorsing the program’s creation.
In the years since ViCAP was first conceived, data-mining has grown vastly more sophisticated, and computing power has become cheaper and more readily available. Corporations can link the food you purchase, the clothes you buy, and the websites you browse. The FBI can parse your emails, cellphone records and airline itineraries. In a world where everything is measured, data is ubiquitous — from the number of pieces of candy that a Marine hands out on patrol in Kandahar, to your heart rate as you walk up the stairs at work.

That’s what’s striking about ViCAP today: the paucity of information it contains. Only about 1,400 police agencies in the U.S., out of roughly 18,000, participate in the system. The database receives reports from far less than 1 percent of the violent crimes committed annually. It’s not even clear how many crimes the database has helped solve. The FBI does not release any figures. A review in the 1990s found it had linked only 33 crimes in 12 years.

More:  http://www.propublica.org/article/the-fbi-built-a-database-that-can-catch-rapists-almost-nobody-uses-it

How Can Obama Fulfill His Pledges for Sweeping Criminal Justice Reform and Redeem His Policy Legacy?

...Our justice system has become both unsustainable and illogical. We are not the most lawless people in the world, yet we are the world's most extensive punisher. Spending $68 billion per year to keep 7 million Americans under correctional control actually generates crime by making prison a rite of passage in many communities.

Public revulsion with this unjust, expensive and counter-productive failure has reached a tipping point. Over the past three decades, I have advocated for reform with groups like Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Sentencing Project and the American Bar Association. Americans across the political spectrum, including political leaders from Hilary Clinton to Ted Cruz, now agree that the justice system is broken. Just a few months ago, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was appointed by President Reagan, proclaimed: "Total incarceration just isn't working, and it's not humane."

More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-e-sterling/how-can-obama-fulfill-his_b_7899314.html

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner: Now is the time for criminal justice reform

Over the past three decades, America's federal prison population has more than quadrupled — from 500,000 in 1980 to more than 2.3 million today. Prison spending has increased alongside it, placing a heavy burden on American taxpayers. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, between 1980-2013, prison spending has increased by 595 percent, a staggering figure that is both irresponsible and unsustainable. Currently, the federal prison system consumes more than 25 percent of the entire Department of Justice budget.

This redirects funding from enforcement and other criminal justice programs and reduces our system's efficiency and effectiveness. The growth in prison population and spending, plus the massive human and social costs of mass incarceration, creates an urgent need for federal criminal justice reform.

...Our system cannot continue on its current trajectory. It's not only fiscally unsustainable, but morally irresponsible. Now is the time for criminal justice reform, and the SAFE Justice Act delivers the change necessary to enact fairness in sentencing, reduce the taxpayer burden and ensure the increased safety and prosperity of communities across the country.

More:  http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/now-is-the-time-for-criminal-justice-reform/article/2569210

Congress’ Summer Fling With Marijuana: How Congress turned on the DEA and embraced weed

...Last Thursday, the Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 on an amendment to allow marijuana businesses access to federal banking services, a landmark shift that will help states like Colorado, where pot is legal, fully integrate marijuana into their economies. As significant as the vote was, it’s only the latest vote in a remarkable run of success marijuana advocates have had this year on Capitol Hill.

“The amendment was a necessary response to an absurd regulatory morass,” Montana Sen. Steve Daines, one of the three Republicans to support Thursday’s amendment, tells Politico, referring to the multifaceted and complex system of laws that have been enacted over the past four decades to prosecute a war on marijuana. It’s a war that began on or about May 26, 1971, when President Richard Nixon told his chief of staff Bob Haldeman, “I want a goddamn strong statement on marijuana ...I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them.”


Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/07/dea-marijuana-120674.html




Amazing Photos: sHELLNo Blockade Continues 30+ Hours

This is HUGE! We're showing the strength of the global uprising that's demanding Climate Justice for all. This battle is NOT over. RIGHT NOW we need as many people to join the #sHellNO BLOCKADE, especially on the water and to also support on land. STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND HEAD TO PORTLAND NOW! It could be only a matter of hours until they attempt to depart again. The courageous climbers and Kayaktivists need masses of people to form a moral shield defending them from the Coast Guard or Shell doing anything that would endanger their lives or safety. Shell's retreat this morning is a welcome victory. Now it is time for our society to retreat from our fossil fuel madness.

More:  https://www.popularresistance.org/shellno-blockade-continues-in-portland-30-hours/

OpenTheGovernment.Org Joins Protest Opposing Cybersecurity Bill

As the U.S. Senate prepares to take up the Cybersecurity Information Sharing (“CISA”) Act, S. 754, open government organizations, privacy and civil liberties defenders, security experts, and tech companies are mobilizing to voice opposition to the bill. OpenTheGovernment.org is particularly concerned with the harm the bill would do to the Freedom of Information Act and transparency more generally. Open government organizations sent letters to Congress in June, and in March of this year, calling on the Senate to oppose the bill. CISA would add a new exemption to the Freedom of Information Act for the first time since 1967. Section 10 of the bill provides that any and all “information shared with or provided to the Federal Government pursuant to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015” is exempt from disclosure under FOIA—even if it is private information unrelated to a cybersecurity threat.

More:  http://www.openthegovernment.org/node/4947

After 2 Yrs, White House Responds to Petition for Freedom of Edward Snowden

The White House on Tuesday ended two years of ignoring a hugely popular whitehouse.gov petition calling for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be “immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon,” saying thanks for signing, but no. “We live in a dangerous world,” Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s adviser on homeland security and terrorism, said in a statement. More than 167,000 people signed the petition, which surpassed the 100,000 signatures that the White House’s “We the People” website said would garner a guaranteed response on June 24, 2013. In Tuesday’s response, the White House acknowledged that “This is an issue that many Americans feel strongly about.” Monaco then explained her position: “Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.”

More:  https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/07/28/2-years-white-house-finally-responds-snowden-pardon-petition/

Second Chances Vital to Criminal Justice Reform

Just days before my visit to Goucher College's Prison Education Partnership at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, Maryland with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, I had the honor of chairing my first meeting of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council -- a group comprised of representatives from more than 20 federal agencies that works to align and advance reentry efforts across the federal government with an overarching aim to not only reduce recidivism and high correctional costs, but also to improve public health, child welfare, employment, education, housing and other key reintegration outcomes. It was a privilege to sit beside my colleagues from across the government to discuss the pressing issues before us. And given President Obama's recent commutations and his visit to El Reno Federal Correctional Institution to highlight these critical issues, the meeting provided a timely opportunity for us to share information about recent accomplishments, and more importantly, discuss upcoming policy considerations.

More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/loretta-lynch/prosecution-is-only-one-aspect-of-a-comprehensive-justice-system_b_7905620.html

Judge Fines Greenpeace after Portland Protesters Block Shell Vessel

A federal judge in Alaska has ordered Greenpeace USA to pay a fine of $2,500 for every hour that protesters continue to block a Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker from leaving Portland, for the Arctic.

The Thursday ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason came hours after the icebreaker appeared to begin heading out of Portland and toward a possible showdown with protesters dangling from a bridge in the hopes of blocking the vessel. The icebreaker, however, retreated just after 7:30 a.m., about a quarter-mile from the bridge, prompting cheers from environmental activists gathered below on a boardwalk.

The judge said Greenpeace is in civil contempt because the protesters impeded the icebreaker.

More: http://portside.org/2015-07-30/judge-fines-greenpeace-after-portland-protesters-block-shell-vessel#sthash.LJSVVVHS.dpuf

Police Shoot and Kill Mentally Ill Native American Man

Earlier this month, Denver police shot and killed Paul Castaway, a Lakota Sioux man living with mental illness. His case illustrates two issues that are flying under the radar: that more than half of fatal shootings involve mentally ill people, and that Native Americans are statistically more at risk of dying in police shootings than other racial groups.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32120-police-shoot-and-kill-mentally-ill-native-american-man

Formerly Incarcerated Activist Leads Organization to Mobilize Hearts and Minds for Decarceration

Is it possible to reduce the US prison population by 50 percent in 15 years? Led by an activist who spent seven years in New York prisons, a new national organization named Just Leadership USA is working to do just that.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32097-formerly-incarcerated-activist-leads-organization-to-mobilize-hearts-and-minds-for-decarceration

The staggering number of wrongful convictions in America

...How many people are convicted of crimes they did not commit? Last year, a study I co-authored on the issue was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It shows that 4.1 percent of defendants who are sentenced to death in the United States are later shown to be innocent: 1 in 25.

Death sentences are uniquely well-documented. We don’t know nearly enough about other kinds of criminal cases to estimate the rate of wrongful convictions for those. The rate could be lower than for capital murders, or it could be higher. Of course, in a country with millions of criminal convictions a year and more than 2 million people behind bars, even 1 percent amounts to tens of thousands of tragic errors.

More:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-cost-of-convicting-the-innocent/2015/07/24/260fc3a2-1aae-11e5-93b7-5eddc056ad8a_story.html

In Wyoming, Shooting Highlights Divide Between a City and a Reservation

RIVERTON, Wyo. — Roy Clyde was sick of the homeless people who linger in this city’s parks, urinating in public and drinking bottles of vodka and mouthwash, he told the police. So on a recent afternoon, the police say, he grabbed his handgun, walked into an alcohol detox facility called the Center of Hope and shot two men as they lay on green floor mats, killing one and critically wounding the other.
 
Local officials called it a senseless attack on society’s most vulnerable fringe. But Mr. Clyde, a city parks worker, was white, and the victims were American Indians, members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe. Tribal officials here on the edge of the two-million-acre Wind River Reservation saw the shooting as a hate crime that added another page to a long history of violence and mistrust here in Indian Country.
 
More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/30/us/in-wyoming-shooting-highlights-divide-between-a-city-and-a-reservation.html
 
 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Dream Undone: Inside the 50-year campaign to roll back the Voting Rights Act

...In 2010, Republicans flipped control of 11 state legislatures and, raising the specter of voter fraud, began undoing much of the work of Frye and subsequent generations of state legislators. They rolled back early voting, eliminated same-day registration, disqualified ballots filed outside home precincts and created new demands for photo ID at polling places. In 2013, the Supreme Court, in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, directly countermanded the Section 5 authority of the Justice Department to dispute any of these changes in the states Section 5 covered. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, declared that the Voting Rights Act had done its job, and it was time to move on. Republican state legislators proceeded with a new round of even more restrictive voting laws.

All of these seemingly sudden changes were a result of a little-known part of the American civil rights story. It involves a largely Republican countermovement of ideologues and partisan operatives who, from the moment the Voting Rights Act became law, methodically set out to undercut or dismantle its most important requirements. The story of that decades-long battle over the iconic law’s tenets and effects has rarely been told, but in July many of its veteran warriors met in a North Carolina courthouse to argue the legality of a new state voting law that the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School has called one of the “most restrictive since the Jim Crow era.” The decision, which is expected later this year, could determine whether the civil rights movement’s signature achievement is still justified 50 years after its signing, or if the movement itself is finished.
 
More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/29/magazine/voting-rights-act-dream-undone.html
 
 

U.K. Police Confirm Criminal Probe Of Snowden Leak Journalists

A secretive British police investigation focusing on journalists working with Edward Snowden’s leaked documents remains ongoing two years after it was quietly launched, The Intercept can reveal. London’s Metropolitan Police Service has admitted it is still carrying out the probe, which is being led by its counterterrorism department, after previously refusing to confirm or deny its existence on the grounds that doing so could be “detrimental to national security.” The disclosure was made by police in a letter sent to this reporter Tuesday, concluding a seven-month freedom of information battle that saw the London force repeatedly attempt to withhold basic details about the status of the case. It reversed its position this week only after an intervention from the Information Commissioner’s Office, the public body that enforces the U.K.’s freedom of information laws.

More:  https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/07/23/uk-met-police-snowden-investigation-journalists

Comedian Lee Camp Breaks Down Theft of Native American Land

As if leaving Native Americans with nothing but miniscule plots of reservation land and systemic brokenness wasn’t enough, now the white man is at it again- robbing the Apache of a sacred ceremonial ground in Oak Flat, Arizona. The US government gave the Apache land to a foreign mining company, saying the native people could still use the grounds for traditional gatherings “after the land exchange has been completed, so long as it remains safe to do so.” The sacred land will unlikely be “safe” for ceremonies once it is functioning as a mine. John McCain and Jeff Flake, major proponents of the land theft, both received hefty contributions from the mining company, Rio Tinto.

http://www.rt.com/shows/redacted-tonight-summary/310733-junk-food-political-comedy/

Activists Face ‘Domestic Terrorism’ Charge In Freeing 5,740 Mink

Two animal rights activists have been charged with terrorizing the fur industry during cross-country road trips in which they released about 5,740 mink from farms and vandalized the homes and businesses of industry members, the FBI said on Friday. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Joseph Brian Buddenberg, 31, and Nicole Juanita Kissane, 28, both of Oakland, California, and federal prosecutors charged them with conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. A federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Friday said the two caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages during 40,000 miles of cross-country trips over the summer and into the fall of 2013. “Whatever your feelings about the fur industry, there are legal ways to make your opinions known,” US attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement.

More:  http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jul/25/animal-activists-minks-domestic-terrorism-charges

Mexico Finds 60 Secret Graves But Not The Missing 43 Students

The search for 43 missing college students in the southern state of Guerrero has turned up at least 60 clandestine graves and 129 bodies over the last 10 months, Mexico's attorney general's office says. None of the remains has been connected to the youths who disappeared after a clash with police in the city of Iguala on Sept. 26, and authorities do not believe any will be. Prosecutors say the students were turned over to a drug gang that killed them and incinerated their bodies in a case that has put attention on the huge number of people who have gone missing in Guerrero and other Mexican states where drug violence is widespread.

More:  http://news.yahoo.com/mexico-search-missing-students-turns-129-bodies-220623052.html

Social Worker Blows Whistle On Private Prison In Texas

Olivia López thought she’d be working with migrant mothers and children in a group-home setting when hired as a social worker at a Texas family detention center. But when she arrived at the concrete facility and the doors were unlocked to let her in, she was startled by the cacophony of cell doors clanging. “I walked in and thought, ‘oh my Lord, this is really a prison,’” she said. In an exclusive interview with McClatchy, López shared an inside perspective of troubling operations at the Karnes County Residential Center, which has been at the center of controversy over the Obama administration’s family detention policy. She described a facility where guards isolated mothers and children in medical units, nurses falsified medical reports, staff members were told to lie to federal officials and a psychologist acted as an informant for federal agents.

More:  http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article28696174.html

Bipartisan Push Builds to Relax Sentencing Laws

WASHINGTON — For several years, a handful of lawmakers in Congress have tried to scale back tough sentencing laws that have bloated federal prisons and the cost of running them. But broad-based political will to change those laws remained elusive.
 
Now, with a push from President Obama and, perhaps even more significant, a nod from Speaker John A. Boehner, Congress seems poised to revise four decades of federal policy that greatly expanded the number of Americans who are incarcerated, to roughly 750 per 100,000, by far the highest rate of any Western nation.
 
Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has long resisted changes to federal sentencing laws, said he expected to have a bipartisan bill ready before the August recess.
 
More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/29/us/push-to-scale-back-sentencing-laws-gains-momentum.html
 
 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mr. Chairman, the president’s clemency power is beyond dispute

On July 13, President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders.  In response, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), joined by 18 of his fellow Republican committee members, issued a letter to the attorney general expressing their “deep concern” that the president “continues to use his pardon power to benefit specific classes of offenders, or for political purposes.”  The use of the pardon power “to benefit an entire class of offenders who were duly convicted in a court of law,” the letter asserts, is “plainly unconstitutional” because it purportedly usurps “the lawmaking authority of the Legislative Branch” and involves “picking and choosing which laws to enforce and which to change.”

Goodlatte and his colleagues are certainly entitled to take issue with Obama’s decision to grant a measure of relief to persons sentenced under a set of laws that are widely viewed to have been, in practice if not by design, racially discriminatory and unjust.  But their constitutional claims are so illiterate that it is difficult to tell whether they expect the attorney general to take them seriously.

The chairman’s criticism ignores settled practice stretching back to the beginning of the Republic.  Throughout American history, presidents have granted executive clemency to “specific classes of offenders” on dozens of occasions, from George Washington’s pardon of the Whiskey Rebels in 1795 to George H.W. Bush’s pardon of the Iran-Contra defendants in 1992.  Perhaps more to the point, in the early 1960s, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson commuted the sentences of several hundred prisoners serving mandatory minimum sentences under the Narcotics Control Act of 1956, without objection by Congress.

The historical lack of controversy shouldn’t be surprising.  Under our tripartite system of government, an act of executive clemency in no sense “usurps” legislative or judicial authority.  Rather, in the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, it “is a part of the Constitutional scheme.  When granted it is the determination of the ultimate [executive] authority that the public welfare will be better served by inflicting less than what the judgment fixed.”  The president’s pardoning authority is therefore limited only by the text of the Constitution itself, not by the transitory terms of the criminal code.  Indeed, that was the Framers’ point in giving the power to the president in the first place, to act as a check on the other branches.

To be sure, the president’s systematic exercise of the pardon power to benefit “specific classes of offenders” has not gone entirely unchallenged by Congress.  But the Supreme Court long ago resolved this dispute in favor of Obama’s authority to redress the injustices entrenched by the current federal sentencing regime.  In the aftermath of the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson issued a series of amnesty proclamations that restored the civil rights of former Confederate sympathizers.  This was enormously controversial at the time, not least because it undermined the Radical Republican’s designs for the post-war reconstruction of Southern society.

In the ensuing legal battle, the Supreme Court repeatedly struck down Congress’s attempts to constrain the president’s pardoning authority.  In 1866, the Court held, without qualification, that “[t]his power of the President is not subject to legislative control.  Congress can neither limit the effect of his pardon, nor exclude from its exercise any class of offenders.  The benign prerogative of mercy reposed in him cannot be fettered by any legislative restrictions.”

The Court also rejected the effort to draw a false distinction between pardons granted to specific individuals on a case-by-case basis and a pardon granted to a class of persons by means of an amnesty proclamation, precisely the claim that House Republicans are making against Obama.  The president is therefore authorized to grant a general amnesty without congressional sanction, protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

Finally, there is no reason to doubt that the president can grant clemency because of his own policy judgment about a particular law.  As one conservative federal judge recently opined, it is a “settled, bedrock principle of constitutional law” that “the president may decline to prosecute or may pardon because of the president’s own constitutional concerns about a law or because of policy objections to the law.”

The historical irony, of course, is that a presidential power forged in a bitter political dispute over the property rights of Confederate rebels is now being used to afford a measure of justice to federal drug offenders, who are disproportionately African-American.  Turnabout, I suppose, is fair play.  But the president’s power is beyond dispute.

Source:  http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/the-administration/249151-mr-chairman-the-presidents-clemency-power-is-beyond

Making 1984 a reality‏

This week, Congress is voting on a bill that would let the government scrape all of your data off the backbone of the Internet, and introduce security vulnerabilities they don’t know how to fix. It’s baffling how poorly Congress seems to understand the Internet sometimes — so this week, we’re going to fight their outdated ideology with a technology so outdated they might actually understand it: the fax machine.

Click here to automatically send a fax to Congress opposing CISA, their latest mega-surveillance bill.

CISA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Act, would give spy agencies like the NSA more power than ever before and grant giant companies like Facebook and Google sweeping legal immunity to share your private data with the government.

The NSA claims that we need CISA to stop cyber-attacks, but experts say it won’t do that at all, and will actually make networks even more vulnerable to hacking.

Congress clearly doesn’t understand modern technology. They’re stuck in 1984. So to get their attention we built a robot so that you can send them a message using technology old enough even they can understand it: a FAX.

Click here and we’ll automatically send a fax opposing CISA to every member of the Senate. You can even customize your fax and add any text or images you want!

When you click the link we’ll automatically start sending a default fax to Congress. It’s so easy! After you click, you can edit your fax if you want and add your own reasons for opposing this dystopian spying bill.

We’ve killed bills like CISA before and we can do it again. Let’s do this!

Click here to send a fax to Congress opposing CISA now!

Oh and any tweet w/ #faxbigbrother will get faxed too!

This Machine Builds Movements: The Case for Indigenous Community Radio

...Community radio is uniquely situated to cater to the needs of Indigenous communities. The opportunity to produce community-generated mass media can be channeled to support Indigenous language revitalization and preservation efforts. It also provides an easily accessible channel to disseminate culturally appropriate information on public health, development, and politics in real time. The simple and resilient medium is pragmatic and cost-effective on the receiving end, as well as (moderately) cheap on the broadcasting side. It has the potential to organize community members dispersed over difficult terrain be it urban or rural, as well as the power to reach areas that lack phone or internet services.

More:  https://intercontinentalcry.org/this-machine-builds-movements-28452/



Eco-vigilantes vs. an outlaw trawler, in a 10,000-mile chase

For 110 days and more than 10,000 nautical miles across two seas and three oceans, the Bob Barker and a companion ship, both operated by the environmental organization Sea Shepherd, had trailed the Thunder, a fugitive fishing ship considered the world’s most notorious poacher.
In an epic game of cat-and-mouse, the ships maneuvered through an obstacle course of giant ice floes, endured a cyclone-like storm, faced clashes between opposing crews and nearly collided in what became the longest pursuit of an illegal fishing vessel in history.
Industrial-scale violators of fishing bans and protected areas are a main reason more than half of the world’s major fishing grounds have been depleted and by some estimates over 90 percent of the ocean’s large fish like marlin, tuna and swordfish have vanished. Interpol had issued a Purple Notice on the Thunder (the equivalent of adding it to a Most Wanted List), but no government had been willing to dedicate the personnel and millions of dollars needed to go after it. So Sea Shepherd did instead.

More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/world/a-renegade-trawler-hunted-for-10000-miles-by-vigilantes.html

 

BREAKING: U.S. will parole Jonathan Pollard in November after 30 years in prison as a spy for Israel

Jonathan J. Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for passing classified documents to the Israeli government, will be released on parole in November after 30 years in prison, a government panel decided on Tuesday.
Mr. Pollard’s lawyers announced the decision of the United States Parole Commission on Tuesday afternoon, and officials at the Department of Justice confirmed that Mr. Pollard had been granted parole.
Mr. Pollard, 60, had been scheduled for a mandatory parole in November, but could have been kept in prison for years longer if the United States government had objected to his release, citing concerns about an ongoing threat to national security.

More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/29/world/middleeast/jonathan-pollard-spy-for-israel-to-be-released-on-parole-in-november.html

 

Jon Stewart’s secret White House visits

...To engage privately with the president in his inner sanctum at two sensitive moments — previously unreported meetings that are listed in the White House visitor logs and confirmed to POLITICO by three former Obama aides — speaks volumes about Stewart and his reach, which goes well beyond the million or so viewers who tune into The Daily Show on most weeknights.

Love Stewart’s jokes or hate them, he has proven to be a unique voice who is capable of turning in-the-weeds policy discussions into viral video sensations that the country is still talking about the next morning.

More:  http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2015/07/jon-stewarts-secret-white-house-visits-000178

N.S.A. Will Not Be Allowed to Keep Old Phone Records

WASHINGTON — Analysts at the National Security Agency will no longer be permitted to search a database holding five years of Americans’ domestic calling records after Nov. 29, the Obama administration said on Monday.
 
Legislation enacted in June barred the N.S.A. from collecting Americans’ calling records after 180 days, but did not say what would happen to the data already gathered. Under a new system laid out by the USA Freedom Act, the government will not hold the bulk data, which is used to analyze links between callers in search of terrorism suspects.
 
More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/us/politics/nsa-will-not-be-allowed-to-keep-old-phone-records.html
 
 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Let's consider leniency for many 'violent' offenders too

...Conceptualizing nonviolent drug offenders as somehow qualitatively different from other offenders creates a false distinction. Many crimes labeled “violent” under our criminal codes are either directly motivated by drug addiction or directly related to drug sales or possession. A heroin-addicted veteran who walks into a garage to steal tools to feed his drug habit has committed a first-degree burglary, a “violent” crime under many state codes. A drug-motivated unarmed robbery in which the offender pushes the victim, takes cash from his wallet, and runs away is also a “violent” crime under most state laws. A person who owns a firearm and has it in his house while engaging in a drug deal has committed a “crime of violence” under the federal sentencing guidelines. In short, “violent crime” is a legally constructed term that includes within its broad reach a great deal of drug-related conduct that wouldn't be considered “violent,” as Americans colloquially use that term.

More:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-roth-non-violent-prison-clemency-20150724-story.html

Death of Choctaw Activist Rexdale Henry in Neshoba Jail Prompts Private Autopsy

A private autopsy is under way for Rexdale W. Henry, a 53-year-old man found dead inside the Neshoba County Jail in Philadelphia, Miss., on July 14.
 
According to WTOK, detention officers found Henry's body around 10 a.m.; he was last seen alive 30 minutes earlier. The state crime lab in Jackson conducted an autopsy and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case.
 
Funeral services for Henry took place July 19 in Bogue Chitto. A few days later, his body was flown to Florida for an independent autopsy paid for by anonymous donors.
Henry, a member of the Choctaw tribe and a lifelong community activist, coached stickball and had been a candidate for the Choctaw Tribal Council from Bogue Chitto the week before his arrest on July 9 for failure to pay a fine.
 
Helping with the family's independent probe are civil-rights activists John Steele, a close friend of Henry's, and Diane Nash, a cofounder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, as well as Syracuse University law professors Janis McDonald and Paula Johnson of the school's Cold Case Justice Initiative.
 
 
 

Obama Administration Rejects Drug Court Plan In Criminal Justice Bill

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration objects to key provisions in a bipartisan criminal justice bill in the House that has picked up support from both the tough-on-crime end of the Republican Party and advocates of overhauling federal prison sentencing guidelines, BuzzFeed News has learned.
 
The bill’s sponsors say the Safe, Accountable, Fair, Effective Justice Reinvestment Act of 2015 — or SAFE Act — takes the best ideas from state criminal justice efforts in recent years and applies them to the federal system, but Obama administration officials have told supporters of the bill they don’t like several of its provisions, including a key one that would essentially create a federal version of the drug court programs an increasing number of states use to divert low-level, first-time drug offenders away from prison and into probation.

It’s early in the legislative process for the SAFE Act, and with the big focus on bipartisan momentum around criminal justice at the moment, no one is willing to go on the record with the rift over the bill. But several people familiar with both administration thinking and the plans of the bill’s supporters told BuzzFeed News that members of Obama’s team have told the SAFE Act’s backers they aren’t happy with the bill.

More:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/evanmcsan/obama-administration-rejects-drug-court-plan-in-criminal-jus#.dh9GzGBNbk



Kayactivists Protest Shell Ship In Portland

The fight against drilling for oil in the Arctic has come to Portland. Climate change activists kayaked to Swan Island Friday night and then again on Saturday afternoon, to protest a drilling support ship that arrived in Portland for repairs. Some also lined up on shore, waving signs with slogans like, "Shell No, Save the Arctic." Around 200 took to the water on Saturday and circled the ship in kayaks. They creatively referred to themselves as "kayaktivists." The Coast Guard had enacted a so-called "safety zone" around the ship in an effort to keep space between the demonstrators and the massive boat, which is more than 300 feet long.

More:  http://www.kgw.com/story/news/local/green/2015/07/24/kayaktivists-shell-protest/30656069/

Cop Caught on Video Pepper Spraying Attendees of Black Lives Matter Conference

A conference protesting police violence against African Americans ended in police violence against African Americans on Sunday, when at least one officer deployed pepper spray against men and women protesting the arrest of a 14 year-old teenager.
The arrest occurred in Cleveland, across the street from Cleveland State University, which was hosting a conference sponsored by The Movement for Black Lives.

Currently, there are conflicting reports regarding why the teenager was arrested.

Cleveland’s ABC affiliate reports that the teen “was accused of having an open container at the bus stop when he was approached by officers,” while numerous sources on Twitter claim that he was arrested because he did not have a bus ticket.
Police reportedly “slammed the teen to the ground while making an arrest and pepper spray was used.”

After this arrest, protesters rallied near the scene, and one video of the protest shows them linking arms in an apparent effort to prevent police from breaking up the protest. According to reporting by Jonathan Walsh, a reporter with the ABC affiliate, that’s when a white officer began to pepper spray the crowd.

More:  http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/07/27/breaking-cop-caught-on-video-pepper-spraying-attendees-of-black-lives-matter-conference/

John Oliver Explains Why Prison Sentences Are Like Penises

"If they're used correctly, even a short one can do the trick."

 
 


https://youtu.be/pDVmldTurqk

"The Land From Which He Came"

Leonard Peltier "I Will" Clemency Campaign - Part 4 "The Land From Which He Came"



https://youtu.be/TzLckwBZ208

Beauty and Injustice in Lakota Land

...This is the place where in the turbulent nineteen seventies a gunfight broke out on a hot June day that took the lives of three people. Two FBI agents and one Native American man. Less then two months after the fall of Saigon, Pine Ridge was in a state of utter chaos and dealing with a tribal civil war that had strong cultural overtones and environmental implications. It was just two years after the Wounded Knee occupation that had the nation riveted each evening to the six o'clock news.

Today many of the participants of that drama are gone. Many of the lawyers, judges, and one of those charged and found innocent on grounds of self defense is gone. Only Leonard Peltier remains behind bars as a distant reminder of those hateful and fateful days...

More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jack-healey/beauty-and-injustice-in-l_b_7879912.html

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Leonard Peltier ~ The World’s Longest Serving Political Prisoner

...Perhaps if enough of us wrote a polite and respectful note to President Obama, he may allow his own conscience to permit a tired and sick old man to finally walk again in the sun light.

I know that I have a large audience of readers. You have been following my regular steam on musings on Human Rights.  I am asking/inviting you to now take a turn with the pen (or keyboard) and do what hundreds of us have been regularly doing.  Write to President Obama. It does not need to be a long-winded memorandum.  Just a few polite/respectful sentences asking the President to Pardon Leonard Peltier will suffice.  Maybe your letter to President Obama will be the one that finally does the trick.

More:  https://thunderbirdrising.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/leonard-peltier-the-worlds-longest-serving-political-prisoner/

U.S. POLITICAL PRISONERS -- #1: LEONARD PELTIER

...The  U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said of Peltier's trial: "Much of the government's behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed."

More:  http://adrianzupp.blogspot.com/2015/07/us-political-prisoners-1-leonard-peltier.html



Republicans Are Trying To Defund Net Neutrality. Will It Work?

It's no secret that many Republicans hate the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules, which went into effect this June and regulate Internet providers like legacy telephone companies. Some now want to use Congress' power of the purse to roll those regulations back. If it works, Congress could forbid the FCC from using its budget to enforce net neutrality and give Internet providers a come-from-behind victory. This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that contains an amendment singling out the FCC and net neutrality. Notably, the rider would prohibit the FCC from using its most powerful regulatory tool to police Internet providers — Title II of the Communications Act.

More:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2015/07/24/republicans-are-trying-to-defund-net-neutrality-will-it-work/

Save Monarchs, Plant More Milkweed

Center for Food Safety (CFS) released today a detailed, 80-page scientific report, Monarchs in Peril: Herbicide-Resistant Crops and the Decline of Monarch Butterflies in North America. The comprehensive report reveals the severe impacts of herbicide-resistantgenetically engineered (GE) crops on the monarch population, which has plummeted over the past twenty years. The report makes it abundantly clear: two decades of Roundup Ready crops have nearly eradicated milkweed—the monarch caterpillar’s sole source of food—in cropland of the monarch’s vital Midwest breeding ground. At the urgent request of scientists and public interest groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering listing the monarch as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The report is being presented to Congress today at an expert briefing on the decline of monarchs.

More:  https://www.popularresistance.org/save-monarchs-plant-more-milkweed/

Guess Who Else Is Fundraising for Clinton: Private Prison Lobbyists

In addition to Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is turning to lobbyists for the two biggest private prison companies in the country, Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, to raise money for her 2016 presidential candidacy.

Lee Fang of The Intercept made the discovery after examining Clinton's list of lobbyists who are bundlers for her presidential bid, released last week. Bundlers are people who raise money for campaigns by organizing and collecting contributions from other donors.

More:  http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/07/24/guess-who-else-fundraising-clinton-private-prison-lobbyists

Recovering the Lost Lessons of West Virginia's Historic Labor Struggles

James Green's captivating new book, The Devil Is Here in These Hills: West Virginia's Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom, chronicles the history of West Virginia miners' labor struggles and ties into the contemporary politics of the state.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/31974-recovering-the-lost-lessons-of-west-virginia-s-historic-labor-struggles

Prison Services Company Securus Makes Record Profits in the Face of FCC Regulation

In response to growing pressure, the Federal Communications Commission started regulating the prison phone industry, which for years has charged high rates for phone calls made by prisoners and their loved ones. Activists and those affected are calling for the FCC to bring real relief.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32008-prison-services-company-securus-makes-record-profits-in-the-face-of-fcc-regulation

Candidates Caught in Middle as Words Ring Hollow to Activists

In the space of a few hours last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush showed how their parties’ two best-funded candidates are grappling with insistent, intensifying demands from activists on the left and the right who are deeply disenchanted with the political establishment.

More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/26/us/candidates-caught-in-middle-as-words-ring-hollow-to-activists.html

Kirk Bloodsworth Urges Support of DNA Testing and Innocence Programs at Summit

Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person in the United States to be exonerated from death row through DNA testing, joined criminal justice system leaders in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday at the Coalition for Public Safety Bipartisan Summit on Fair Justice and called on Congress to support efforts to address and prevent wrongful convictions. -

See more at: http://www.innocenceproject.org/news-events-exonerations/kirk-bloodsworth-urges-support-of-dna-testing-and-innocence-programs-at-summit

Free Peltier! Says Ex-Federal Prosecutor

Although the murder of two FBI agents is among the most significant crimes imaginable, Peltier has spent four decades in prison and justice has been served for the murders of Special Agents Coler and Williams.

Now, it is time to give due respect to the integrity of the American system of justice for which the brave federal agents died. It is time for President Obama to grant Clemency to Leonard Peltier.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/07/26/free-peltier-says-ex-federal-prosecutor

Beyond Innocence: US Political Prisoners and the Fight Against Mass Incarceration

President Obama's recent statements about mass incarceration, together with his decision to commute the sentences of 46 people serving lengthy and life sentences in federal prison on drug charges, treat "nonviolent drug offenders" as the symbolic figureheads of America's prison problem. This framing seems to imply that everyone else actually deserves to be in prison.

But the world's biggest prison system is not filled with nonviolent drug offenders alone. Before and alongside the war on drugs, mass incarceration was built through the wholesale repression of radical movements - especially in communities of color.

...Around the world, countries have often released political prisoners in an attempt to heal past wounds and address current injustices. But the punitive culture of the United States - still unchallenged in mainstream debates about mass incarceration - has yet to excise its demons of repression. As Whitehorn told me, permanent punishment tries to deny "that there are such deep problems in the system that there are movements dedicated to changing them by any means necessary." Much as prisons try to foreclose the radical imagination, political prisoners animate alternate horizons. Their freedom remains a necessary part of the fight against mass incarceration.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32043-beyond-innocence-america-s-political-prisoners-and-the-fight-against-mass-incarceration

Saturday, July 25, 2015

House Passes DARK Act, Banning States from Requiring GMO Labels on Food

Legislation dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know, or DARK Act (H.R. 1599), passed the House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 275-150. The bill preempts state and local authority to label and regulate genetically engineered (GE) foods. A Senate version of this bill has not yet been introduced.

More:  http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/07/25/house-passes-dark-act-banning-states-from-requiring-gmo-labels-on-food/

Apaches Rally At Capitol, Vowing To Continue Fighting For Sacred Oak Flat

Apache protesters completed their cross-country journey from the San Carlos reservation in Arizona to Washington, D.C., with a Wednesday rally on the lawn of the Capitol building, protesting Congress’ sale of their sacred Oak Flat to foreign mining conglomerates. The area known as Oak Flat is part of Arizona's Tonto National Forest, and the Apache have used it for generations in young women’s coming-of-age ceremonies. In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower removed it from consideration for mining activities in recognition of its natural and cultural value. But in December 2014, during the final days of the previous Congress, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) added a rider to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act that opened the land to mining conglomerates Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/apaches-and-allies-rally-at-capitol-to-save-sacred-oak-flat-from-massive-mine_55aff2f9e4b08f57d5d3747d

UN Human Rights Committee Slams Canada's Record On Women

The UN human rights committee is accusing the Canadian government of failing to act on missing and murdered aboriginal women, violence against women generally, and numerous other matters, ranging from refugees to Bill C-51, the new anti-terror law. The UN's first report card on Canada in 10 years was released Thursday, and measures whether the country has met its human rights obligations. At least 26 human rights organizations, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Amnesty International Canada and Human Rights Watch, submitted their own separate reports to the 18-member independent committee on the various issues. Overall, the report took exception to Canada's failure to set up a way to implement some of the committee's recommendations. "It should take all necessary measures to establish mechanisms and appropriate procedures to give full effect to the committee's views so as to guarantee an effective remedy when there has been a violation of the covenant," the report said.

More:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/un-human-rights-committee-slams-canada-s-record-on-women-1.3164650

UK High Court Rules Surveillance Law Unconstitutional

Controversial surveillance legislation hustled through parliament last summer has been ruled unlawful by the UK High Court, which argued that the vague terms and descriptions of powers in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA) renders the act incompatible with human rights under European law. In a 44-page ruling, Lord Justice David Bean and Mr Justice Andrew Collins criticised the lack of clarity and detail in spelling out the terms and conditions under which communications data can be intercepted by police and intelligence agencies, declaring the act “incompatible with the British public’s right to respect for private life and communications and to protection of personal data under Articles 7 and 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights”.

More:  https://theconversation.com/in-first-case-of-its-kind-uk-high-court-rules-surveillance-law-unconstitutional-44924

Drunk Executives Poured Beer On Native American Children’s Heads

At the start of the year, a group of 57 Native Americans students from the Lakota tribe were taken to a minor league hockey match in Rapid City, South Dakota to celebrate their academic achievements. But what started as a field trip to reward the students quickly turned into a nightmare, when a group of drunk men in an executive suite dumped beer on their heads and yelled “go back to the Rez!” Seven months later, only one of the perpetrators faces criminal charges. His trial begins today, and if found guilty he will be convicted of disorderly conduct and fined $500 — avoiding hate crime charges, a jury, and jail time. In January, a group of third through eighth grade students from the American Horse School were watching the local hockey team, the Rapid City Rush, before several adults started asking them questions about where they are from.

More:  http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/07/22/3682962/lakota-57/

San Carlos Apache Tribe Clashes With Rep. Gosar After Rally

Members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe declared victory in their campaign to protect one of their most sacred places at a rally at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday even as some were threatened with arrest by a Republican member of Congress. With almost no financial backing, the Apache Stronghold left Arizona earlier this month on a 2,000-mile journey to educate the nation about the threats facing Oak Flat, a sacred gathering, ceremonial and burial site in Arizona. The trip culminated in a rousing rally in the Washington, D.C., heat with calls to support a bill that will protect the land from a controversial mining development. "Nothing is going to stop us," elder Sandra Rambler stated to cheers. "No surrender." As a spiritual leader within the tribe, Manuel Cooley said it's not common for him to take political stands. But Oak Flat is so important to his people that he drove to the nation's capital to explain why the proposed Resolution Copper mine will destroy the site.

More:  https://www.popularresistance.org/san-carlos-apache-tribe-clashes-with-rep-gosar-after-rally/

Friday, July 24, 2015

Navajos in Utah want protection for lost ancestral lands

The proposal for a national conservation area would preserve Cedar Mesa and adjacent areas that are filled with some of America’s oldest archaeological treasures that need urgent protection



https://youtu.be/OkA5TEbaLWc

John Legend: Mass Incarceration Is Destroying America

...America, as more and more people are starting to realize, is indecently over-incarcerated. We lock up far more people per capita than any nation even close to our size: roughly 2.4 million men, women, and children. The financial toll of mass incarceration is irresponsible; the human toll is unconscionable.
 
We haven’t always been this way: Just 40 years ago, our incarceration rates were much lower, and on par with our peer nations. Since then, however, our prison population has ballooned by about 700%. What happened four decades ago that led to such a steep climb? We launched the so-called War on Drugs.
 
The full scope of how badly we lost that “war”—and how ill-advised it was to launch it in the first place—began to dawn on me in 2012, when I served as executive producer for Eugene Jarecki’s documentary The House I Live In. At the time, the War on Drugs had cost $1 trillion and led to 45 million arrests. Since then, those numbers have only risen.
 
 
 

UN’s “Mandela Rules” to Set New International Standards for Treatment of Prisoners, Including Limits on Solitary Confinement

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs) are being given several long-awaited revisions this year. Among them is a provision that solitary confinement “shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review.” The rules also prohibit indefinite solitary confinement and prolonged solitary confinement — defined as more than 15 consecutive days — as well as the solitary confinement of people with mental or physical disabilities where isolation would exacerbate their conditions.

David Fathi, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, called the new rules on solitary confinement “a tremendous step forward, particularly given that the original rules were silent on the issue.” The ACLU participated actively throughout the revisions process, and is a leading force in the fight to end solitary confinement in the United States.

More:  http://solitarywatch.com/2015/07/17/uns-mandela-rules-to-set-new-international-standards-for-treatment-of-prisoners-including-limits-on-solitary-confinement/

Donate to Chelsea Manning's Legal Defense

Chelsea Manning's extraordinary act of whistleblowing continues to enrich journalism, the public, and the historic record to this day. Chelsea is currently appealing her unjust conviction and 35-year jail sentence under the Espionage Act, but her legal team is deeply in debt. Please help raise money for her appeal by donating below.

Donations will be doubled up to $60,000, thanks to a generous matching donation from First Look Media and Glenn Greenwald. (You can also donate by check.)

All proceeds will be given to the trust set up by Chelsea's legal team. Read more here.

More:  https://freedom.press/Chelsea

Why the Laura Poitras case is bigger than you think

When the documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras filed a complaint under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) against three US government agencies this week, most media outlets ran stories on the details that built her argument, overlooking the issue of public records.

After all, who could resist the story of a bitter and burned federal government hounding a journalist who appeared to have crossed some unspoken line? More than 50 times between 2006 and 2012, her lawsuit alleges, security forces targeted the journalist for intense rounds of detention and questioning. Government officials had, at one point, even confiscated her laptop, cellphone, and notebooks. Poitras’ films had largely focused on the rotten fruits of post-9/11 America, both at home and abroad. She went on to win top-notch awards for her work with Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who in 2013 leaked National Security Agency files on hidden mass-surveillance programs.

It’s an important story with profound implications for the press. Yet lost in the narrative was the legal spine of her case, a second threat to journalism in this country: the worrisome way the federal government handles FOIA requests.

More:  http://www.cjr.org/analysis/when_the_documentary_filmmaker_laura.php

A high-ranking Obama official just called for the “eradication” of bite mark evidence

This week, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is sponsoring a conference in Arlington, Va., called the “International Symposium on Forensic Science Error Management – Detection, Measurement and Mitigation.” NIST is the government agency that’s attempting to carve out some standards and best practices for the use of forensics in the courtroom...

...In her speech to open the conference, Jo Handelsman, assistant director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy called for the “eradication” of bite mark evidence. I’ve obtained an audio clip of her speech. Here’s a transcript of the relevant portion:
Two of the elements highly focused on in the report are that we need to have highly consistent data and methods, and we need to have a high degree of certainty in the results that we obtain in forensics science when we’re linking an individual to a crime scene or sample.
More:   https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2015/07/22/a-high-ranking-obama-official-just-called-for-the-eradication-of-bite-mark-evidence/

KEYSTONE XL RESISTANCE RIDE AND MARCH EXPECTED TO BRING HUNDREDS TO PIERRE,SOUTH DAKOTA, TO PROTEST PIPELINE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Friday, July 24, 2015
CONTACT:
Sabrina King, Dakota Rural Action: (605) 9390527
Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network: (507) 4127609
 
Pierre, SD - On Sunday, July 26, over 60 native and nonnative horseback riders will ride into Fort Pierre from the four directions north, south, east and west to show their collective resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline certification in South Dakota.




 
Riders will meet with hundreds of people near the intersection of Highway 83 and 14 to lead the march across the Missouri River Bridge, and ending at Steamboat Park in Pierre, where Pipeline Fighters will hold a water blessing and rally. Organized to show the solidarity in opposition to the South Dakota Public Utility Commissions (SD PUC) certification of the Keystone XL pipeline permit, these actions are a culmination of years of collective resistance in South Dakota.
 
The next day, at 9 a.m., July 27 th , the SD PUC will convene a seven-day evidentiary hearing on whether the conditions on which the permit was issued in 2010 are still the same or have changed.
 
We have no doubt that the situation has changed with regards to the taxes and benefits promised to the people of South Dakota by TransCanada, said Paul Draper, a member of the Dakota Rural Action Board of Directors.
 
TransCanada has promised huge economic benefits to the counties and if Keystone I is any barometer of them making those promises good, it does not bode well for us. This project poses too much risk to the people, lands and water for it to be approved. I hope the Commissioners listen with open hearts and minds to the concerns we will be putting forth.
 
We want to show the SD PUC that there are many, many South Dakotans who opposed to the permit being certified for the pipeline because we dont think the conditions are the same as when the permit was originally issued. There are 30 different changed conditions of the permit which TransCanada themselves acknowledged when they submitted the permit application last year, said Dallas Goldtooth, KXL pipeline organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network. Unfortunately, the commissioners have denied any evidence having to do with climate change.
 
Buses will depart from Rapid City, Sioux Falls as well as reservation communities to arrive in time for the resistance rally. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join in the march and rally. Members of the public can RSVP for the rally and to reserve a space on a bus at www.nokxldakota.org
 
Keystone XL Resistance Ride and March Details:


DATE : Sunday, July 26, 2015
TIME : March begins at 11amMT/12pmCT
LOCATION : March begins at the intersection of Highways 83 and 14 in Fort Pierre and will end at the amphitheater at Steamboat Park in Pierre
BUS SEATS : Bus seats from Sioux Falls or Rapid City be reserved at www.nokxldakota.org
 
###

The Indigenous Environmental Network is an international environmental justice nonprofit that works with tribal grassroots organizations to build the capacity of Indigenous communities. www.ienearth.org
 
Dakota Rural Action is a grassroots family agriculture and conservation group that organizes South Dakotans to protect our family farmers and ranchers, natural resources, and unique way of life. www.dakotarural.org

 

No One Blows The Whistle to Further Their Career‏

It’s way too easy for you and me, living our daily lives, to overlook the personal hardships whistleblowers are going through everyday just so we can keep America a true democracy.

Edward Snowden is still living in exile. Thomas Drake was indicted, lost his job and his pension. Franz Gayle is the target of ongoing investigations and lost the career he loved. 
 
Next Thursday, July 30th is National Whistleblower Appreciation Day - a time to honor whistleblowers and push for the de-criminalization of truth telling. Help us celebrate National Whistleblower Appreciation Day by hosting a free screening of War on Whistleblower in your home, community, church or school.
 




Whistleblowers are pioneers of change who risk everything - their livelihood, homes and freedom- to tell the truth in hopes of making the world a better place.
 
Together we can call for an end to the unjust persecution of whistleblowers. Due to ongoing efforts to lift up the voices and heroic acts of whistleblowers, there are rumors that Edward Snowden may be able to return home if granted a plea deal! We will continue to demand that the Department of Justice stop persecuting Edward Snowden by dropping charges against him. 
 
So let’s keep up the pressure and keep creating new activists to join this critical fight to preserve our democracy! 
 
Onward,

Robert Greenwald, President
BRAVE NEW FILMS 
 
 



U.N. Remains Barred From Visiting U.S. Prisons Amid Abuse Charges

When U.S. President Barack Obama visited the El Reno Correctional Facility in Oklahoma last week to check on living conditions of prisoners incarcerated there, no one in authority could prevent him from visiting the prison. Obama, the first sitting president to visit a federal penitentiary, said “in too many places, black boys and black men, and Latino boys and Latino men experience being treated different under the law.” The visit itself was described as “unprecedented” and “historic.” But the United Nations has not been as lucky as the U.S. president was. Several U.N. officials, armed with mandates from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, have been barred from U.S. penitentiaries which are routinely accused of being steeped in a culture of violence.

More:  http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/07/u-n-remains-barred-from-visiting-u-s-prisons-amid-abuse-charges/

Guantánamo Nurse Refused To Force-Feed, To Receive Ethics Award

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today commended the American Nurses Association (ANA) for honoring a nurse who refused to take part in the unethical and criminal practice of force-feeding detainees on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay. “We commend the American Nurses Association for honoring the Guantánamo Navy nurse for his exceptional commitment to medical ethics in refusing to force-feed his patients,” said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, PHR’s medical director. “Bestowing a prestigious ethics award on the nurse not only confirms he followed his profession’s highest ethical standards, but also sets an example that all health professionals should follow.” The ANA will present its Year of Ethics award to the nurse’s attorney during its membership meeting in Washington, D.C. tomorrow.

More:  http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/press/press-releases/guantnamo-navy-nurse-who-refused-to-force-feed-force-feed-detainees-to-receive-ethics-award.html