Sunday, August 30, 2015

‘Can’t Breathe, Can’t See’: Struggling to Live Through Wildfires

The impact of wildfires lasts well beyond the time when the last ember is extinguished. Communities are affected, as are individuals and industries. Nearly every segment of tribal life is affected and some will continue to be for years to come.

Jackie Richter on the Colville Reservation talks of the North Star Fire and how life has changed already and what she foresees. “Most of the time our visibility has been about 200 yards and on Tuesday it was more like 100 feet. You can’t hardly drive it’s so bad. Everyone is exhausted because we’re having to work so hard just to breathe. Many of us, including me, have been evacuated at one point or another. It’s been catastrophic up here. There’s not a corner of this county that fire hasn’t touched. It’s a large county, one of the largest in the nation. Our elders talk about never seeing anything like it.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/08/28/cant-breathe-cant-see-struggling-live-through-wildfires-161560


Mackinaw, MI: Pipe Out Paddle Protest on 06 September: Flotilla & Labor Day Bridge Walk to Shut Down Enbridge Line 5


To Hear History: High-Tech Project Will Restore Recorded Native Americans Voices

Decades of wear and tear haven’t been kind to the 2,713 wax cylinders in UC Berkeley’s Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, which linguists and anthropologists have used for over a century to study the languages and cultural practices of Native California. But a new project promises to revitalize these old, fragile recordings — the first of which was recorded by famed anthropologist Alfred Kroeber in 1901 — with cutting-edge optical scanning technology.

The prospect excites scholars and Native communities because the collection itself is a trove of Native American recordings, particularly from California — ceremonies, songs and traditional stories that capture slices of cultures that are in many cases endangered or extinct. Among its best known is Ishi’s retelling of the Story of Wood Duck, the only recording of the extinct Yahi language. Ishi was recorded between 1911 and 1914 by Berkeley anthropologist T.T. Waterman, who began translating the story but didn’t finish because the fuzzy sound quality made the words too difficult to discern.

“This is a record of native Californian speech and mythology and worldview that was very important to Ishi, the only recording of this that we know of,” says Hearst anthropologist Ira Jacknis, “and it’s still partially untranslated.” So Jacknis is excited about the potential of a remastered recording: With it, linguists can finally translate the whole thing. “It would let us get so much closer to what Ishi was saying,” he says.

More:  http://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/just-in/2015-08-27/hear-history-high-tech-project-will-restore-recorded-native

Drought Relief Bill Threatens to Drown Sacred Sites of a Northern California Tribe

The McCloud River gurgles and gushes down the Cascade Range, gathering streams from the towering Mount Shasta, a mountain of mythic and sacred symbolism to many. The river pours down three waterfalls over basaltic lava flows, where Chinook salmon once heroically jumped up the falls to spawn and propagate. This August, members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe gathered for their annual "salmon challenge," an effort to trace the path of their revered fish as it once swam its way up the McCloud River. The venerated salmon are long gone: The Shasta Dam's construction in 1944 framed a permanent deleterious barrier, and the salmon were unable to reach their spawning grounds upstream to regenerate as they had for millennia.

"We are a salmon state. We believe that whatever happens to the salmon, happens to us," said Chief Caleen Sisk, tribal and spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu, a tribe of 125. "Shasta Dam destroyed the homes of the salmon. The dam also drowned our homes and sacred sites, and we were left homeless like the salmon."

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32509-drought-relief-bill-threatens-to-drown-sacred-sites-of-a-northern-california-tribe

Citizens Taking Video of Police See Themselves Facing Arrest

Thomas Demint's voice is heard only briefly on the eight-minute video he took of police officers arresting two of his friends, and body-slamming their mother. "I'm videotaping this, sir," he tells an officer. "I'm just videotaping this."

What's not seen is what happened just after he stopped recording: Demint says three officers tackled him, took away his smartphone and then tried, unsuccessfully, to erase the video. They then arrested him on charges of obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest.
 
"I am 100 percent innocent," the 20-year-old Long Island college student told reporters earlier this month. "I didn't do anything wrong. I was just there to videotape."
Civil liberties experts say Demint is part of a growing trend of citizen videographers getting arrested after trying to record police behavior.
 
 
 

Corporate Developers Seize Indigenous Lands in Brazil and Hire Hit Men to Murder Residents

In an effort to make way for new investment projects, the Brazilian government and transnational corporations have been taking over ancestral indigenous lands, triggering a rise in murders of indigenous people in Brazil.

According to the report, "Violence Against Indigenous People in Brazil," recently published by the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI by its Portuguese initials), the number of indigenous people killed in the country grew 42 percent from 2013 to 2014; 138 cases were officially registered. The majority of the murders were carried out by hit men hired by those with economic interests in the territories.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32553-development-projects-intensify-violence-against-indigenous-people-in-brazil

Obama defends Arctic drilling decision on eve of Alaska climate change trip

Barack Obama has been forced to defend his decision to allow the hunt for oil in the last great wilderness of the Arctic, on the eve of an historic visit to Alaska intended to spur the fight against climate change.
The three-day tour – which will include a hike across a shrinking glacier and visits to coastal communities buffeted by sea-level rise and erosion – was intended to showcase the real-time effects of climate change.
But a defensive White House was forced to push back against campaigners who accuse Obama of undermining his environmental agenda by giving the go-ahead to Shell to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea, only weeks after rolling out his signature climate change plan.

More:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/29/obama-arctic-drilling-alaska-trip-climate-change

What Are the US's Real Plans for Guantánamo?

Just as the United States and Cuba open diplomatic relations, the Obama administration has simultaneously unveiled a plan to shut down Guantánamo. President Obama's plan to close Guantánamo does not entail shutting down the entire base or rejecting the policies of indefinite detention and military commissions. While marketed as "change," the United States' plan to shut down the Guantánamo prison - and even its new diplomatic rapprochement with Cuba - are a continuation of US hegemony in the region.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32531-what-are-the-us-s-real-plans-for-Guantanamo

History of Violent Displacement Created National Parks

Tuesday marked the 99th anniversary of the National Park Service, perhaps the most-loved division of the federal government. For many Americans, excursions to the national parks conjure up memories of family road trips, camp songs and hikes set in some of the country's most beautiful locales. Ken Burns called the parks, "America’s best idea." Cue Woody Guthrie: "This Land Is Your Land." But what's often left unmentioned is that for the parks to become the protected lands of public imagination, their prior inhabitants -- such as indigenous peoples and the rural poor -- had to be evicted.

More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/national-park-service-anniversary-indigenous-people_55dcdd7ce4b0a40aa3ac9998

Police In North Dakota Can Now Use Drones Armed With Tasers

Police in North Dakota are now authorized to use drones armed with tasers, tear gas, rubber bullets, and other "non-lethal" weapons, following the passage of Bill 1328. Sponsored by Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck), the bill was originally intended to limit the police’s surveillance powers, and banned all weapons on law enforcement drones. Then a policy lobby group was allowed to amend the bill, though, at which point it only banned lethal weapons, writes The Daily Beast. Putting aside the fact that these weapons are not non-lethal, making it so these weapons can be controlled remotely likely isn’t going to help curb police abuse.

More:  http://www.theverge.com/2015/8/26/9211165/north-dakota-armed-drones-tasers

6 Strategies To Make Powerful Social Change

In the days after her action, Newsome was depicted as a heroine, a black Superwoman, a symbol of how we can act when Black Lives Matter. But it’s important to remember that Newsome is not a superhero. Her actions remind us that the change we want to see in the world will not come from some super power; it will come from people power. And if we can figure out how to grow our own vegetables and make our own bread, we have enough power to make ourselves some homemade freedom. We already have everything that we need. Here are a few elements I can identify in Newsome’s recipe for homemade freedom...

More:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-debt-issue/six-ways-to-create-everyday-social-change-20150825

Friday, August 28, 2015

Mass Incarceration Vs Rural Appalachia

The United States Bureau of Prisons is trying to build a new, massive maximum-security prison in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky — and there’s a growing movement to stop it. The prison industry in the US has grown in leaps and bounds in the past 20 years— a new prison was built at an average rate of one every two weeks in the ’90s, almost entirely in rural communities. As of 2002, there were already more prisoners in this country than farmers. The industry seems like an unstoppable machine, plowing forward at breakneck speed on the path that made the world’s largest prison population.

More:  http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2015/08/24/mass-incarceration-vs-rural-appalachia/

Tutu, Klein and Chomsky call for mass climate action ahead of Paris conference

Desmond Tutu, Vivienne Westwood, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky are among a group of high-profile figures who will issue a mass call to action on Thursday ahead of the UN’s crunch climate change conference in Paris in December. They call for mass mobilisation on the scale of the slavery abolition and anti-apartheid movements to trigger “a great historical shift”. Their statement, published in the book Stop Climate Crimes, reads: “We are at a crossroads. We do not want to be compelled to survive in a world that has been made barely liveable for us ... slavery and apartheid did not end because states decided to abolish them. Mass mobilisations left political leaders no other choice.” Bill McKibben, founder of environmental movement 350.org, which has launched the project with the anti-globalisation organisation Attac France, described the move as a “good first step” towards Paris.

More:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/26/campaigners-mass-climate-action-paris-conference-noam-Chomsky

Climate Study: Ending New Federal Fossil Fuel Leases Would Keep 450 Billion Tons of Carbon Pollution in Ground

WASHINGTON— Ending new fossil fuel leasing on lands and offshore areas controlled by the U.S. government would keep up to 450 billion tons of greenhouse gases from polluting the atmosphere, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by EcoShift on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth released today.

 The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Federal Fossil Fuels
The analysis, The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Federal Fossil Fuels, models the life-cycle greenhouse gas pollution that would result from developing federally-controlled coal, oil shale, natural gas, crude oil and tar sands on public lands and offshore ocean areas under government control.

Allowing these publicly owned fossil fuels to be developed would cripple the U.S.’ ability to meet its obligations to avert the worst effects of the global climate crisis, the report finds.

“The facts have been increasingly clear for a long time, and we believe that this analysis finally puts the issue of continued development of federal fossil reserves to rest. We cannot afford to continue ignoring reality,” said EcoShift Principal Dr. Alexander Gershenson.

More:  http://www.ienearth.org/climate-study-ending-new-federal-fossil-fuel-leases-would-keep-450-billion-tons-of-carbon-pollution-in-ground/

Skateboard diplomacy: A D.C. group’s plan to help thaw relations with Cuba

Years before the thaw and the restoration of relations between the United States and Cuba, Miles Jackson and a college friend had been building a different kind of diplomacy: one on wheels. Their hope is that skateboarding can help pry open a notoriously stiff relationship and encourage a new generation of skateboarders to join an international sporting community.

More:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/skateboard-diplomacy-a-dc-groups-plan-to-help-thaw-relations-with-cuba/2015/08/24/9d7c0754-3ab4-11e5-b3ac-8a79bc44e5e2_story.html

OAS investigation into U.S. police abuses to include Miami

A delegate with the human-rights arm of the Organization of American States is traveling to Miami next month on a fact-finding mission into police abuses of African Americans in the United States.

The Magic City will be the first stop for Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, a commissioner of the semi-autonomous Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. She plans to speak with police officials and Mayor Tomás Regalado on Sept. 21 before continuing on a five-day U.S. tour. Other stops may include Ferguson, Missouri, where the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a former police officer sparked racial tensions; New Orleans, and possibly Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was killed, according to correspondence with the State Department.

Attempts Wednesday to reach Belle and a second commission official involved in the planning of the trip were unsuccessful. Presumably, their interest in Miami is tied to a string of fatal shootings of black men in 2010 and 2011 that led Regalado to invite the Justice Department to investigate. Justice found the city’s police department had engaged in a pattern of excessive force when it came to pulling the trigger, and issued a series of recommendations in July of 2013 that have yet to result in a settlement.

“The main findings of this visit will be included in a report issued by the Commission analyzing the use of police force against African-Americans in the United States and its human rights implication,” Emilio Alvarez Icaza, executive director of the commission, wrote this month in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry. More:  http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article32485971.html  

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article32485971.html#storylink=cpy

Manson family member Bruce Davis found eligible for parole

Bruce Davis, an associate of Charles Manson who was convicted in two of the nine killings tied to the cult, was found Thursday to be eligible for parole, corrections officials said.

The finding is now subject to a 120-day review and could still be blocked by Gov. Jerry Brown, according to a statement released by the state corrections department.

Sitting governors have stopped three previous attempts to grant parole to Davis, 72. In blocking Davis' release in 2013 and 2014, Brown said he is "still dodging responsibility" for his role in the Manson family's gruesome crimes in 1969.

More:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-manson-bruce-davis-20150827-story.html

Overview of Federal Criminal Cases (2014)

Federal Drug Sentencing Laws Bring High Cost, Low Return

More than 95,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug-related offenses—up from fewer than 5,000 in 1980.1 Changes in drug crime patterns and law enforcement practices played a role in this growth, but federal sentencing laws enacted during the 1980s and 1990s also have required more drug offenders to go to prison— and stay there much longer—than three decades ago.2 (See Figure 1.) These policies have contributed to ballooning costs: The federal prison system now consumes more than $6.7 billion a year, or roughly 1 in 4 dollars spent by the U.S. Justice Department.3

Despite substantial expenditures on longer prison terms for drug offenders, taxpayers have not realized a strong public safety return. The self-reported use of illegal drugs has increased over the long term as drug prices have fallen and purity has risen.4 Federal sentencing laws that were designed with serious traffickers in mind have resulted in lengthy imprisonment of offenders who played relatively minor roles.5 These laws also have failed to reduce recidivism. Nearly a third of the drug offenders who leave federal prison and are placed on community supervision commit new crimes or violate the conditions of their release—a rate that has not changed substantially in decades.6

More:  http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/issue-briefs/2015/08/federal-drug-sentencing-laws-bring-high-cost-low-return

LA, CA: People and Planet Over Profit: March and Rally on 12 Sep

UNITE TO SAVE THE PLANET! 
MASS MARCH AND RALLY:
PEOPLE & PLANET OVER PROFITS!
#PlanetOverProfitsLA #SaveCali

From the devastating California drought, to the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara, to reckless oil drilling in arctic waters and fracking, giant corporations have plundered and destroyed the environment all over the globe in order to reap huge profits.

Uncontrolled climate change has put California and the entire planet eco-system in crisis. Poor and oppressed communities are devastated by corporate dumping and contamination.

A grassroots movement of all the people can challenge the corporate polluters and reverse the current crisis.

If you agree with these demands, join the Planet Over Profits Coalition in the streets on September 12!

More:  http://www.answercoalition.org/los_angeles_march_rally_planet_people_over_profits

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

This is Crazy: Criminalizing Mental Health

America is “treating” mental illness through incarceration - and the price we are paying both in dollars and human capital is enormous. This is Crazy: Criminalizing Mental Health is our latest three-part series focusing on the problems with criminalizing mental health told through first-hand accounts. Part one shows what happens when police are not properly trained to deal with people with mental illness.

Parts two and three are coming soon. https://youtu.be/WC-isYWovG4

More at http://www.bravenewfilms.org/this_is_crazy.

Delery Delivers Remarks at the 23rd Annual Four Corners Indian Country Conference

Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery Delivers Remarks at the 23rd Annual Four Corners Indian Country Conference
Ignacio, CO
United States
~
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
 
Thank you, John, for that very kind introduction, and to your tremendous District of Colorado team for pulling this conference together.  Events like this reflect the true meaning and value of what is possible when we all join together as a community.

I would like to express my gratitude to Chairman Clement Frost and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for allowing us to gather together in what must be one of the most majestic landscapes our country has to offer.  I was struck by one part of your tribe’s seal:  the feathers adorning a peace pipe, included to signify the tribe’s belief in a great spirit and in its members’ healing power as people.  Healing power as people – that is what this conference is all about, our ability to support the victims of crime in our communities by helping them recover and grow stronger – by helping them heal.

I would also like to extend a warm welcome to all of the participating tribes and to the federal, state and local partners who have traveled great distances from four different directions to represent the perspectives and needs of victims and victim advocates alike.  I know how valuable your time is and I truly appreciate your willingness to share it with us today.

I will be introducing the Deputy Attorney General shortly, but first, I wanted to take a moment to share a few thoughts of my own about the men and women who are participating in this conference.

Most importantly, I would like to acknowledge the work that you all do.  Regardless of whether you work for or with the criminal justice system, you help bring healing and justice.  Put simply – you improve lives, you save lives, you protect people.  And it is through your tireless efforts that we begin to meet the comprehensive needs of victims of crime.

I recognize that there is rarely relief for the needs of the communities you live in or serve.  These are time intensive jobs and you marshal the resources available in order to do the very best you can for your communities.  Even more challenging is the fact that you are intervening at some of the worst moments in peoples’ lives.

I appreciate that some of you do this work because your own lives have been touched by violence.  Some of you may have been victims yourselves or you may have seen friends, family or community members impacted by crime.

Yet, every day you get up and make a choice to do this work to the best of your abilities and in collaboration with the very people in this room.  Your commitment, day in and day out, to making sure services are improved on behalf of victims is vital and for that I thank you.

Over the past six and a half years at the Department of Justice, I have been fortunate to see first-hand how increased engagement and understanding between the federal government and sovereign tribes can result in positive and enduring change.

In my current position as the Acting Associate Attorney General, I oversee the department’s grant programs – the Community Oriented Policing Services, the Office of Justice Programs and the Office on Violence Against Women.  As you may recall, in 2010, the department developed the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation following input from tribes and those who serve them in an effort to streamline how American Indian and Alaska Native communities apply for funding opportunities.  Over the past five years the department has awarded over 1,100 of these grants totaling more than $530 million going to Indian communities.

While money alone cannot fix public safety problems, including those in Indian Country, the department recognizes it is a critical part of a comprehensive solution.  Providing training and financial and technical assistance is fundamental to building tribal capacity and making a meaningful difference in the lives of the communities we serve.

But there always will be more work that we could do – more lives that we could touch and improve.  Providing the most effective possible services to victims of crime in Indian Country requires that we maximize our time and our resources through coordination and collaboration at the federal, tribal, state and local levels – a concept I know this audience understands very well.

We’re committed to doing our part to build those partnerships – which is why former Attorney General Eric Holder created the Tribal Nations Leadership Council in 2009 to strengthen a dialogue with tribal governments on issues critical to Indian Country.  We are fortunate to have one of your own Coloradans from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Gary Hayes, serving on the Leadership Council today.

It is why last year, the Department of Justice adopted a Statement of Principles to guide and inform all of the department's interactions with federally recognized Indian tribes.  Developed in consultation with the leaders of all 566 tribes, the Statement of Principles memorializes the department's determination to serve as a partner in fighting crime and enforcing the law in Indian country.

It is also why we established the Federal Victims of Crime in Indian Country Working Group earlier this year to examine ways in which federal agencies can better coordinate efforts to ensure that victims of federal crime in Indian Country receive all the rights and services to which they are entitled.

And it is why we have dramatically ramped up our commitment to training, through efforts like the National Indian Country Training Initiative, which brings cutting-edge information on criminal justice issues like child abuse, human trafficking, sexual assault and domestic violence to tribal stakeholders at no cost to the tribe.

Federal and tribal prosecutors are also collaborating at unprecedented levels.  One way that’s happening is by designating tribal prosecutors across the country as Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys, empowering them to bring cases in federal court as well as in tribal court.  This program provides an opportunity for tribal prosecutors to learn about federal law, procedure and investigative techniques.

It increases the likelihood that every viable criminal offense, especially those involving violence against women, can be prosecuted in tribal court, federal court or both.  And, perhaps most importantly, it provides another way for federal investigators and prosecutors to learn from and to be informed by your knowledge, your experience, and your expertise, by fueling deeper connections between our professional communities.
Those connections are critical.  We look to you as experts on what might complement and support what may be needed in the field.

If there are things that the department is doing that are not helping or that could be helping more, we are here to listen and learn.  That’s what this conference is all about – the open and candid sharing of information and exchanging of ideas.  We take seriously the fact that families and communities across Indian Country are counting on us.  The new ideas and new approaches we hear about today will help guide us as we continue along this path forward together.

I am deeply honored to participate in this conversation.

It is now my pleasure to present the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, Sally Quillian Yates.

Thank you.
 
Topic: 
Tribal Justice
Updated August 26, 2015
 
 

From the Bench, a New Look at Punishment

Jessica Otero’s request to the judge, made in neat handwriting, was simple: She wanted a second chance. Ten years after being convicted of driving an illegal immigrant across the border, her felony record meant she could not get work in the medical field. “I have learned from my past mistakes and am headed down a positive path,” Ms. Otero wrote.
 
Federal district courts review dozens of similar requests a month, detailing how old convictions are affecting defendants’ lives. Most judges have a standard response: Courts can expunge convictions only in exceptional circumstances. While Ms. Otero’s two-page letter described fairly common circumstances, the judge’s response was unusual.
 
“Her concern is justified,” Larry Alan Burns, a Federal District Court judge in the Southern District of California, wrote in June. “The court is inclined to grant the motion.”
 
More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/27/nyregion/from-the-bench-a-new-look-at-punishment.html
 
 

10 Years After Katrina

NEW ORLEANS — It is a wonder that any of it is here at all: The scattered faithful gathering into Beulah Land Baptist Church on a Sunday morning in the Lower Ninth Ward. The men on stoops in Mid-City swapping gossip in the August dusk. The brass band in Tremé, the lawyers in Lakeview, the new homeowners in Pontchartrain Park.
 
On Aug. 29, 2005, it all seemed lost. Four-fifths of the city lay submerged as residents frantically signaled for help from their rooftops and thousands were stranded at the Superdome, a congregation of the desperate and poor. From the moment the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina dismantled a fatally defective levee system, New Orleans became a global symbol of American dysfunction and government negligence. At every level and in every duty, from engineering to social policy to basic logistics, there were revelations of malfunction and failure before, during, and after Katrina.
 
 
 

One Planet: Even the Magnificence of the Grand Canyon Can't Escape Toxic Pollution

...The breathtaking beauty and wonder of the Grand Canyon connects us spiritually to this planet on which we reside. It is a sobering portent that this wondrous natural creation is now showing signs of measurable mercury and selenium pollution.

Incrementally ruinous global warming and pollution often do not seem to pose an immediate threat to our daily experience – they may appear remote and not worthy of immediate attention.

However, as the Nature World Report emphasizes, all of earth's treasures - including our lives - are at risk in a global economy that spews pollution:

“Managing exposure risks in the Grand Canyon will be a challenge, because sources and transport mechanisms of mercury and selenium extend far beyond Grand Canyon boundaries,” said Dr. David Walters, USGS research ecologist and lead author of the study. 

Other pollutants will surely follow.

From the creeping pollution of natural splendors like the Grand Canyon, to the building of toxic chemical plants in poor communities of color, to the warming of the Arctic, to the imminent threat of rising seawater to small island populations - the world is interconnected.

Collectively, we can no longer elude our responsibility to halt this destruction.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/even-the-magnificence-of-the-grand-canyon-can-t-escape-toxic-pollution

Justice Department Administration of the President's Pardon Power: A Case Study in Institutional Conflict of Interest

230 Colorado Mines Are Leaking Heavy Metals Into State Rivers

After the 3 million gallon Gold King Mine blowout, Colorado officials began scrambling to create a map of a problem they've known about for years: 230 other old mines statewide leaking heavy metals-laced muck into headwaters of the nation's rivers. These old mines have leaked so much for so long, thousands of gallons a minute, that state agencies don't track the combined toxic flow. But by the estimates at sites where the Environmental Protection Agency has stepped in, the overall discharge equals at least one Gold King disaster every two days — spreading cadmium, copper, lead, arsenic, manganese, zinc and other contaminants. "We're not OK with any of this. We're not OK with contaminated water running into waterways," said Ginny Brannon, director of reclamation, mining and safety for the state.

More:  http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_28647978/colorado-faces-230-mines-leaking-heavy-metals-into

Global Trade And Destruction Of The Amazon

For decades, crews of illegal loggers have traveled deep into Peru’s Amazon rainforest, cutting valuable hardwoods for sale on the international market while threatening indigenous communities, our environment, and the climate. Rampant corruption has plagued Peru’s forest sector, allowing timber mafias to use fraudulent documents in order to obtain permits that they use to illegally harvest timber. According to a study by the World Bank, up to 80 percent of the timber exported from Peru has illegal origins. A new documentary from Al Jazeera shows just how widespread illegal logging is in Peru and how that illegal wood is making its way to the United States.

More:  http://www.sierraclub.org/lay-of-the-land/2015/08/floored-true-cost-unenforced-trade-deals

Maryland Restricts Racial Profiling in New Guidelines for Law Enforcement

BALTIMORE — Eight months after the Justice Department announced new curbs on racial profiling, Maryland became on Tuesday the first state to follow suit, with guidelines aimed at severely restricting law enforcement officers from singling out suspects based on traits including race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
 
Attorney General Brian E. Frosh of Maryland issued the rules in a nine-page memorandum in which he condemned profiling of racial minorities by the police, calling it a “deeply unfair” practice.
 
“Racial profiling continues despite the fact that it is against the law of the United States; it’s against Maryland law,” Mr. Frosh said in a telephone interview shortly after announcing the guidelines at a news conference in the state capital, Annapolis. “We need people to understand that racial profiling is illegal, and it’s bad police work.”
 
More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/26/us/maryland-restricts-racial-profiling-in-new-guidelines-for-law-enforcement.html
 
 

Battle of Blair Mountain

The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest labor uprising in United States history and the largest organized armed uprising since the American Civil War. For five days in late August and early September 1921, in Logan County, West Virginia, some 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers, called the Logan Defenders, who were backed by coal mine operators during an attempt by the miners to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. The battle ended after approximately one million rounds were fired, and the United States Army intervened by presidential order.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Decolonization and Political Prisoners

THE INTERNATIONAL LEONARD PELTIER DEFENSE COMMITTEE & THE JERICHO MOVEMENT PRESENT
 
Decolonization and Political Prisoners

 
Thursday, October 29th 2015, Portland State University Native American Community Center

Event is free, open to the public & disability affirmative!

Free Leonard Peltier! Free Patrice Lumumba Ford! Free Sundiata Acoli! Hands off Assata Shakur! Free all Political Prisoners!

Join us for an evening of thoughtful discussion with a focusing on u.s. held Political Prisoners, gaining their amnesty and solidarity with Assata Shakur and decolonizing the prison industrial complex.

Speakers include:

Chauncy Peltier- Son of Leonard Peltier and co-director of International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Kent Ford- Founder of Portland Black Panther Party and father of Patrice Lumumba Ford

Ahjamu Umi- All African People's Revolutionary Party (Portland Chapter)

*Special prints of Leonard Peltier's artwork will also be displayed and for sale.

Co-sponsored by All African People's Revolutionary Party (Portland Chapter), Oregon Jericho, Portland Anarchist Black Cross, NW Northwest Alliance for Alternative Media & Education

For more information about Political Prisoners:
www.whoisleonardpeltier.info
www.thejerichomovement.com
www.pdxabc.com

 

Criminal justice reformers await holy ally: Pope Francis



There’s a long history of religious leaders writing and teaching from inside prisons — from Martin Luther King to Paul the Apostle. But 78-year-old Pope Francis may be the most prominent religious leader to ever advocate for prison reform from the outside.

Last year, Francis called for an end to solitary confinement, the death penalty and life imprisonment. He has knelt down to wash and then kiss the feet of Roman inmates on two of the first Holy Thursdays of his papacy. Visiting a group of Bolivian prisoners recently, the pope told them he sees no difference between them and himself — they are all sinners.

Now Francis is coming to the United States, much to the delight of criminal justice reformers who have waged a growing bipartisan battle to scale back and remake the mammoth U.S. penal system. Reformers hope Francis’ visit to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia next month as part of his six-day U.S. tour will grab lawmakers’ attention. A few days before visiting the inner-city prison, the pope will address Congress and could raise the issue of criminal justice reform there as well.

More:  https://www.yahoo.com/politics/criminal-justice-reformers-await-holy-ally-pope-127242295951.html

 
 
 

Why US Police Are Out Of Control

A country that doesn’t even know how many times police fire their weapons or under what circumstances is one in which every local department is a law unto itself, a self-contained barony with its own special rules and customs. “It’s a national embarrassment,” Geoffrey P. Alpert, a University of South Carolina criminology professor, told The New York Times. “Right now, all you know is what gets on YouTube.” What does a lack of knowledge have to do with ultra-high levels of brutality? The answer is simple: absence of knowledge means an absence of control, which means that local departments behave with relative impunity. If local cops seem out of control, it’s because the only controls come from local politicians who are often corrupt and racist and therefore tolerant of such behavior on the part of the officers they employ.

More:  https://consortiumnews.com/2015/08/20/why-us-police-are-out-of-control/

White House Door Isn’t Always Open to Ex-Cons

Visitors with a criminal record say roadblocks show a disconnect with Obama’s message of redemption

President Barack Obama, as part of his push to overhaul the criminal-justice system, has said ex-offenders should have a chance at redemption. The White House’s security operation, however, hasn’t always been on board.

Invited guests with convictions in their past have encountered an array of roadblocks when attending meetings with administration officials. Some have been denied entry. Others have been assigned an escort. Several said they felt stigmatized by the experience.

There are many factors that could prompt tighter security, including the rise of Islamic State and concerns about lone-wolf domestic threats. The Secret Service also has experienced some miscues—including not preventing a man who jumped the fence from making it inside the White House—that have raised questions about Mr. Obama’s protection.

Still, those who have been stopped at the gate, among them leaders on criminal-justice issues, say their experiences reveal a disconnect between the administration’s rhetoric and its real-life practices. And, even with bipartisan agreement that change is needed, their treatment shows how hard it will be to alter business and government practices ingrained through decades of use.

More:  http://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-door-isnt-always-open-to-ex-cons-1440324000

When firefighters speak out on climate change, we ought to listen up

Climate change is worsening the fires that ravage many parts of America each year. Grime-streaked firefighters battling one of the 167 active wildfires currently scorching portions of the US west will tell you as much. What they have encountered on the firelines in the past few years is evidence that everything has changed as a result of global warming.

In mid-August, the day after a quick-moving fire first exploded southwest of Boise, Idaho, the blaze more than doubled in size to nearly 79,000 acres in one four hour stretch. Along the way, it sparked a “firenado” that rained hot ash and dirt on firefighters.

Or consider the disturbing talk surrounding the still-smoldering fire named Rocky that this month scorched 70,000 acres near Napa, California: “This fire wants to do whatever it wants,” Jason Shanley, a Cal Fire spokesman, observed, adding “It’s defying all odds. 30 year, 40 year veterans have never seen this before.”

More:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/24/firefighters-climate-change-drought

Black Prisoners' Lives Matter: The Dallas 6 Blow the Whistle on the Inside

...The Dallas 6 are jailhouse lawyers who fight injustice within prison walls and share information with the outside. They came to be seen as political prisoners through their actions as jailhouse lawyers, activists and whistleblowers. This caused them to be held in solitary indefinitely, where they were starved, beaten and outright tortured. Between the six, they served from 10 to 20 years in solitary, and one of them is still in solitary.

After being subjected to starvation, brutal beatings, food tampering, witnessing beatings, the guard-assisted suicide of one prisoner and the torture of another, they covered their solitary cell windows and politely requested outside intervention. They wanted access to public officials and media. They wanted the public to know that human rights were being violated on a critical level. They wanted the public to know that their lives were in danger for being whistleblowers. I started advocating on behalf of my son but became more involved as I found that his abuse was not isolated. So many other prisoners in solitary were being abused.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/32459-black-prisoners-lives-matter-the-dallas-6-blow-the-whistle-on-the-inside

How the Flawed Science of Bite Mark Analysis Put an Innocent Man behind Bars

An article in the Intercept takes a detailed look at the flawed science of bite mark analysis and the case of Bill Richards, a California man who was convicted in 1997 of murdering his wife, Pamela. Richards’ conviction was primarily based on the testimony of forensic odontologist Dr. Norman Sperber, who concluded that a photograph of a possible bite mark on Pamela’s hand specifically matched Richards’ dentition. According to the Intercept, not only did Sperber claim that Richards’ teeth matched the mark, but he also testified that only “one or two or less” out of 100 people would have such unique dentition. Dr. Greg Golden, an odontologist called by the defense, also testified and eventually agreed with Sperber’s conclusion that only about two percent of the population would have similar dentition.

More:  https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/08/20/flawed-science-of-bite-marks/

The Best Defense Is Good Offense: DOJ Challenges Local Public Defense Programs

Shortly before Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation last September, he told an interviewer: “Any attorney general who is not an activist is not doing his or her job.” One of Holder’s more activist initiatives received attention last week when The New York Times highlighted how Holder’s Justice Department began the novel practice of filing arguments in state and county courts.

“[N]either career Justice Department officials nor longtime advocates can recall such a concerted effort to insert the federal government into local civil rights cases,” Matt Apuzzo wrote for the Times.
The agency has used so-called “statements of interest” to file arguments in existing court cases—sometimes cases brought by the ACLU, Equal Justice Under Law or other advocacy groups. One issue that’s garnered particular attention from Justice Department lawyers is fair access to legal defense, a right guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has filed four such statements in the past two years, a time in which bipartisan support has emerged for a renewed examination of how local and state governments are providing legal representation to the poor. The department maintains that it does not take a position on the facts of the case, but it argues larger points about civil rights issues with national implications.

More:  http://www.propublica.org/article/justice-department-challenges-local-public-defense-programs

Ecuador's Indigenous Uprising

As Andean winds carry mild amounts of ash from the mouth of the Cotopaxi volcano toward the Ecuadorian capital city of Quito, 500 kilometers away, a State of Emergency is in full effect. The government declared the State of Emergency last week purportedly in response to Cotopaxi’s eruption. However, many indigenous protesters, currently mobilized in an ongoing National Strike, believe the government is using the volcano as a pretext to lawfully militarize the streets and impose martial law.

More:  https://intercontinentalcry.org/ecuador-indigenous-uprising/

Monday, August 24, 2015

Police secretly track cellphones to solve routine crimes

BALTIMORE — The crime itself was ordinary: Someone smashed the back window of a parked car one evening and ran off with a cellphone. What was unusual was how the police hunted the thief.

Detectives did it by secretly using one of the government’s most powerful phone surveillance tools — capable of intercepting data from hundreds of people’s cellphones at a time — to track the phone, and with it their suspect, to the doorway of a public housing complex. They used it to search for a car thief, too. And a woman who made a string of harassing phone calls.

In one case after another, USA TODAY found police in Baltimore and other cities used the phone tracker, commonly known as a stingray, to locate the perpetrators of routine street crimes and frequently concealed that fact from the suspects, their lawyers and even judges. In the process, they quietly transformed a form of surveillance billed as a tool to hunt terrorists and kidnappers into a staple of everyday policing.

The suitcase-size tracking systems, which can cost as much as $400,000, allow the police to pinpoint a phone’s location within a few yards by posing as a cell tower. In the process, they can intercept information from the phones of nearly everyone else who happens to be nearby, including innocent bystanders. They do not intercept the content of any communications.

Dozens of police departments from Miami to Los Angeles own similar devices. A USA TODAY Media Network investigation identified more than 35 of them in 2013 and 2014, and the American Civil Liberties Union has found 18 more. When and how the police have used those devices is mostly a mystery, in part because the FBI swore them to secrecy.

More:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/08/23/baltimore-police-stingray-cell-surveillance/31994181/


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Los Angeles: Tribunal for Junipero Serra. 12 September


When A River Runs Orange

The recent mining pollution spill in my corner of Colorado — La Plata County — is making national news for all the wrong reasons. Beyond the spill and its impact on everyone downstream, the underlying causes are far more worrisome and dangerous than just a mistake made by the Environmental Protection Agency. Yes, it is a cruel irony that an E.P.A. contractor, while trying to clean up pollution from old mines, instead made the problem much, much worse. The jaw-dropping before-and-after photos contrasting the pre-spill Animas River I know and love with the subsequent bright orange, acidic, heavy-metal-laden travesty are sadly accurate. The Animas River is the heart of La Plata County.

More:  https://www.popularresistance.org/when-a-river-runs-orange/

Julian Bond's Final Speech: 'We Must Practice Dissent'

Note: The speech below was one of the final speeches of the late civil rights leader Julian Bond when he spoke at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on May 2, 2015, as part of the “Vietnam: Power of Protest” conference.

It’s fitting that we should have come to this place. Dr. King believed that peace and the civil rights movement are tied inextricably together, that the people who are working for civil rights are working for peace, and that the people working for peace are working for civil rights and justice. Accordingly, on April 4th, 1967, King delivered his famous speech against the Vietnam War. This was not without risk, because the mainstream press immediately denounced his speech, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Life magazine. King was compelled to speak out, he said, because, one, the cost of war made its undertaking the enemy of the poor; two, because poor blacks were disproportionately fighting and dying; and, three, because the message of nonviolence is undermined when, in King’s words, the United States government is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” Georgia asked me if that was on this memorial. It’s not.

The organization of which I was a part in 1960, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, also felt compelled to speak out against the war, a year before King did so. In January 1966, Samuel Younge Jr., a Tuskegee Institute student and a colleague in SNCC, went to a civil rights demonstration in his hometown Tuskegee. He needed to use the bathroom more than most, because during his Navy service, including the Cuban blockade, he had lost a kidney. When he tried to use the segregated bathroom at a Tuskegee service station, the owner shot him in the back. The irony of Sammy losing his life after losing his kidney in service to his country prompted SNCC to issue an antiwar statement. We became the first organization to link the prosecution of the Vietnam War with the persecution of blacks at home. We issued a statement which accused the United States of deception in its claims of concern for the freedom of colored people in such countries as the Dominican Republic, the Congo, South Africa, Rhodesia and in the United States itself. We said, “The United States is no respecter of persons or laws when such persons or laws run counter to its needs and desires.” This, too, was not without risk.
 
I was SNCC’s communication director and had just been elected to my first term in the Georgia House of Representatives. When I appeared to take the oath of office, hostility from white legislators was nearly absolute. They prevented me from taking the oath and declared my seat vacant. I ran for the vacancy, and I won again. And the Legislature declared my seat vacant again. My constituents elected me a third time, and the Legislature declared my seat vacant a third time. It would take a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court before I was allowed to take my seat. As King counseled, every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we all must protest. And protest we did. And in so doing, we helped to end the war, and we changed history.
 
Now we have both a Vietnam Memorial and a Martin Luther King Memorial. But we don’t tell the truth about either. As Tom Hayden has written, “the worst aspects of the Vietnam policy are being recycled instead of reconsidered.” I urge you to read his Forgotten Power of [the] Vietnam Protest. We refused to allow the Vietnamese to vote for reunification in 1956, for fear they would vote for Ho Chi Minh. Many people still sadly believe the pervasive postwar myth that veterans returning home from Vietnam were commonly spat upon by protesters. As Christian Appy says, “it became an article of faith that the most shameful aspect of the Vietnam War was the nation’s failure to embrace and honor its returning soldiers.” Honoring returning soldiers doesn’t make the war honorable, be it Vietnam or Afghanistan or Iraq. And the best way to honor our soldiers is to bring them safely home. As James Fallows writes, “regarding [military] members as heroes makes up for committing them to unending, unwinnable missions.”
The Pentagon has chosen to commemorate the Vietnam War as a multiyear, multidollar thank you, because, as Afghan vet Rory Fanning said, “Thank yous to heroes discourage dissent.”
 
We practiced dissent then. We must practice dissent now. We must, as Dr. King taught us, “move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history.” As King said then, and as even more true now, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
 
I want to close as King closes the Vietnam speech, with an excerpt from James Russell Lowell’s “The Present Crisis.” He wrote:
“Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever ’twixt that darkness and the light.
“Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet ’tis Truth alone is strong,
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be Wrong,
Yet the scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own!”
I wish us the right choice. Thank you.

 

Arctic Drilling Approval Threatens Obama's Climate Legacy

President Obama’s approval for Shell Oil drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea has undermined his recent push to protect the environment and provoked an angry reaction from environmentalists. The August 17th decision comes two weeks after the release of the United States' most aggressive attempt to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the Clean Power Plan, and just days after Obama announced he will visit Alaska later this month to highlight the impacts of climate change.

More:  http://insideclimatenews.org/news/18082015/arctic-drilling-approval-threatens-obamas-climate-legacy

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Show Me a Hero: a Q&A With David Simon

“The Wire” creator and former Baltimore Sun reporter talks about a historic public housing fight, race and what makes white people go “batshit, batshit crazy.”

David Simon’s new HBO miniseries “Show Me a Hero,” which premiered last Sunday, is the harrowing tale of a hopeless battle. Based on a nonfiction book of the same title – written by former New York Times reporter Lisa Belkin – the show dramatizes the real fight that took place 25 years ago in Yonkers, New York, after a federal judge ordered public housing projects to be built in the wealthier (and whiter) parts of the city.

In an interview with ProPublica, David Simon discussed the legacy of the Yonkers crisis and what desegregation is all about.

More:  http://www.propublica.org/article/show-me-a-hero-a-qampa-with-david-simon

Six Million Drinking Uranium-Contaminated Water

Water from two aquifers in the US contains uranium levels that are significantly higher than the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL). What's more, these two aquifers provide drinking water to almost 6 million people, and almost 2 million of them live less than a mile from the contaminated groundwater, according to a study led by two researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. And according to the EPA: "Intakes of uranium exceeding EPA standards can lead to increased cancer risk, liver damage, or both." The researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln analyzed almost 275,000 groundwater samples collected from about 62,000 locations from two aquifers that provide millions of people in the US with drinking water: the High Plains and Central Valley.

More:  http://www.businessinsider.com/high-uranium-levels-of-drinking-water-in-the-central-us-2015-8

Experts Tout Potential Influence of Connecticut Death Penalty Ruling

A momentous decision issued last week by the Connecticut Supreme Court ended the state’s use of the death penalty, finding that it violates the state constitution. In the Associated Press, Pat Eaton-Robb writes that, according to legal experts, the court’s finding that capital punishment “no longer meets society’s evolving standards of decency could be influential across a nation.” Eaton-Robb notes that, although the decision is limited to Connecticut, “the justices backed their decision by citing what abolitionists say are universal problems with the death penalty, including economic disparities in its use, the costs involved with appeals, the inherent cruelty involved in lengthy waits for execution, and the risk of executing innocent people.” Kevin Barry, a Quinnipiac University law professor and death penalty law expert, said the decision may have been written with an out-of-state audience in mind. “It reads as a missive to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Barry. “It is a blueprint for our nation’s high court to strike down the death penalty nationally.”

SCOTUS Case Focuses on Exclusion of Blacks from Juries

The U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming term includes a case that “could reshape the way juries are selected,” according to Adam Liptak in The New York Times. In Foster v. Chatman, writes Liptak, “prosecutors excluded every black prospective juror in a death penalty case against a black defendant.” Peremptory challenges, Liptak explains, “generally allow lawyers to dismiss potential jurors without offering an explanation,” so long as they are based on a “neutral justification.” Race is not a valid justification, yet a number of studies find peremptory challenges are used disproportionately on black jurors, contributing to their under-representation on juries. Liptak cites a new study of Louisiana’s Caddo Parish that finds “prosecutors used peremptory challenges three times as often to strike black potential jurors as others during the last decade.” “There clearly aren’t five votes on the Supreme Court to abolish peremptory challenges,” writes Greenhouse in an opinion piece for the Times. “But just as clearly, their continued existence threatens to erode even further the public’s confidence in the fairness of the criminal justice system, already stretched to near the breaking point.”

Friday, August 21, 2015

After Centuries of Colonial Violence, a Resurgence of Indigenous Language Learning

It's a crisis point in history for Native American languages. Without a concerted effort to revitalize them, many will soon go extinct, succumbing to the generations-long effort to destroy them.

"You could reasonably say every single Native American language, including the large ones, are endangered," said linguist K. David Harrison, a National Geographic fellow teaching at Swarthmore College. "There's no room for complacency whatsoever."

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32454-after-centuries-of-colonial-violence-a-resurgence-of-indigenous-language-learning

California Drought Is Made Worse by Global Warming, Scientists Say

Global warming caused by human emissions has most likely intensified the drought in California by 15 to 20 percent, scientists said on Thursday, warning that future dry spells in the state are almost certain to be worse than this one as the world continues to heat up.
 
Even though the findings suggest that the drought is primarily a consequence of natural climate variability, the scientists added that the likelihood of any drought becoming acute is rising because of climate change. The odds of California suffering droughts at the far end of the scale, like the current one that began in 2012, have roughly doubled over the past century, they said.
 
More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/21/science/climate-change-intensifies-california-drought-scientists-say.html
 
 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

4,000 Prison Inmates Fighting California Wildfires [Risking Their Lives] For $2 Per Day

With wildfires blazing throughout the parched Western United States, the state of California has found a novel, though ethically questionable, way to save money on the state’s safety budget: Send state prisoners to work on the frontlines fighting forest fires for $2 per day. “More than 100 wildfires are burning across the West — destroying dozens of homes, forcing hundreds of people to flee and stretching firefighting budgets to the breaking point,” wrote Tim Stelloh for NBC News on Monday. For California, he reported, that means some 14,000 firefighters combating 19 forest fires, including the “Jerusalem fire,” which covered over 25,000 acres before being mostly contained as of Saturday. “[T]he blaze — along with six others — was still sending smoke south across the San Francisco Bay Area,” Stelloh wrote.

More:  http://www.mintpressnews.com/4000-prison-inmates-fighting-california-wildfires-for-2-per-day/208714/

Kids Call Us Out – Filing Lawsuits For Science-Based Climate Recovery

It’s time for everyone who works on climate or cares about it to admit the truth – We can’t say we are protecting our children’s future unless we are doing what science says we must do to recover climate stability. And we are not. So far, everything we are doing or proposing is falling far short. Fortunately, the kids are calling us out and making it impossible to ignore the facts. Twenty-one youths filed an Oregon US District Court lawsuit last Wednesday seeking a court order “declaring that the Federal Government has violated and is continuing to violate the fundamental constitutional rights of youth and future generations to life, liberty, property, and public trust resources by causing dangerous CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and dangerous government interference with a stable climate system . . .”

More:  http://cascadiaplanet.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-kids-call-us-out-filing-lawsuits.html

DOJ Announces Program to Enhance Tribal Access to National Crime Information Databases

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
 
Department of Justice Tribal Access Program (TAP) Will Improve the Exchange of Critical Data
 
Department of the Interior Companion Program to Provide Name-Based Emergency Background Checks for Child Placement
 
The Department of Justice is launching an initial phase of the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP) to provide federally-recognized tribes access to national crime information databases for both civil and criminal purposes.  TAP will allow tribes to more effectively serve and protect their communities by ensuring the exchange of critical data.

This initial phase of TAP was announced today in a meeting with tribes held during the 2015 Department of Justice/FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division Tribal Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Federal criminal databases hold critical information that can solve crimes, and keep police officers and communities safe,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates.  “The Tribal Access Program is a step forward to providing tribes the access they need to protect their communities, keep guns from falling into the wrong hands, assist victims and prevent domestic and sexual violence.  Empowering tribal law enforcement with information strengthens public safety and is a key element in our ongoing strategy to build safe and healthy communities in Indian country. ”

“The FBI is pleased to participate in this initiative,” said Executive Assistant Director Amy Hess of the FBI’s Science and Technology Branch.  “This will be a positive step for the tribal agencies to receive valuable criminal information and also for those same tribal agencies to submit criminal information at the national level.  Through this partnership, information becomes richer and communities can become safer.”

TAP will support tribes in analyzing their needs for national crime information and help provide appropriate solutions, including a-state-of-the-art biometric/biographic computer workstation with capabilities to process finger and palm prints, take mugshots and submit records to national databases, as well as the ability to access CJIS systems for criminal and civil purposes through the Department of Justice.  TAP will also provide specialized training and assistance for participating tribes.

While in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 Congress required the Attorney General to ensure that tribal officials that meet applicable requirements be permitted access to national crime information databases, the ability of tribes to fully participate in national criminal justice information sharing via state networks has been dependent upon various regulations, statutes and policies of the states in which a tribe’s land is located.  Therefore, improving access for tribal law enforcement to federal criminal information databases has been a departmental focus for several years.  In 2010, the department instituted two pilot projects, one biometric and one biographic, to improve informational access for tribes.  The biographic pilot continues to serve more than 20 tribal law enforcement agencies.

Departments of Justice and Interior Working Group

In 2014, the Departments of Justice and the Interior (DOI) formed a working group to assess the impact of the pilots and identify long-term sustainable solutions that address both criminal and civil needs of tribes.  The outcome of this collaboration was the TAP, as well as an additional program announced today by the DOI’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) that provides tribes with national crime information prior to making child placement decisions in emergency circumstances.  Under the BIA program, social service agencies of federally recognized tribes will be able to view criminal history information  accessed through BIA’s Office of Justice Services who will conduct name-based checks in situations where parents are unable to care for their children.

“Giving tribal government programs access to national crime databases through DOJ’s Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information is a tremendous step forward towards increasing public safety in Indian Country,” said Assistant Secretary Kevin K. Washburn for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior.  “The Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services’ Purpose Code X program provides a much-needed tool for tribal social service agencies when they must find safe homes to place children during temporary emergency situations.”

In the initial phase of the TAP program, the biometric/biographic workstations will be deployed to up to 10 federally-recognized tribes who will provide user feedback.  This phase will focus on assisting tribes that have law enforcement agencies, while in the future the department will seek to address needs of the remaining tribes and find a long-term solution.  The department will continue to work with Congress for additional funding to more broadly deploy the program.

The Department of Justice’s Chief Information Officer manages TAP. 

“It is our hope that TAP can minimize the national crime information gap and drive a deeper and more meaningful collaboration between the federal, state, local and tribal criminal justice communities,” said Chief Information Officer Joseph F. Klimavicz for the department.

For more information on TAP, visit www.justice.gov/tribal/tribal-access-program-tap.

For more information about the Justice Department’s work on tribal justice and public safety issues, visit:  www.justice.gov/tribal.

For more information about the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, visit www.indianaffairs.gov/

 

Justice Dept. Presses Civil Rights Agenda in Local Courts

...The federal government has typically waded into local court cases only when the outcome directly affected a federal interest, such as national security or diplomacy. Recently, however, the Justice Department has filed statements of interest in cases involving legal aid in New York, transgender students in Michigan, juvenile prisoners in solitary detention in California, and people who take videos of police officers in Baltimore. The government has weighed in on employment discrimination claims brought by transgender plaintiffs and a lawsuit over the right of blind people with service dogs to be able to use Uber, a car-sharing service.
 
“The Justice Department is sending a clear message: that we will not accept criminal justice procedures that have discriminatory effects,” former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in February after filing documents in a case involving high court bonds in Alabama. “We will not hesitate to fight institutionalized injustice wherever it is found.”
 
Loretta E. Lynch, who became attorney general in April, has continued the initiative unabated.
 
More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/20/us/justice-dept-presses-civil-rights-agenda-in-local-courts.html
 
 
 

Black Lives Matter isn't stopping

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. – Memo to 2016 candidates from Black Lives Matter: We will continue to disrupt your events no matter what you do or say, and we won’t stop anytime soon.

There’s more. The movement, whose angry exchange with Hillary Clinton was revealed this week following an earlier shout-down of Bernie Sanders, has a potential new target: Barack Obama.
Story Continued Below
He may be the first black president, but he won’t be immune, said #Blacklivesmatter network co-founder Patrisse Cullors in an interview with POLITICO on Martha’s Vineyard, the president’s vacation spot, where she is participating this week in racial-justice panels.


Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/08/no-plans-to-stop-says-black-lives-matter-121538.html





Lummi Nation Chairman Ballew to Senator Daines: 'That day is no more'

United States Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) is on a mission to do whatever it takes to get the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT), a 48 million metric-ton-per-year coal export terminal, permitted and built. The GPT project is proposed in Whatcom County, Washington, and would be sited at Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point), along the shoreline, which is part of the Lummi Nation's traditional fishing area. The company proposing GPT is Pacific International Terminals (PIT), a subsidiary created for the project by SSA Marine.
 
Tens of thousands of people who steadfastly oppose GPT are standing in the way of Senator Daines, SSA/PIT, and the coal companies like Cloud Peak Energy which have financial interests in seeing that GPT is built and operating. Also standing in the way is the Lummi Indian Tribe, a sovereign nation, standing tall in defense of its treaty rights.
 
 
 

Coerced Confessions and Jailhouse Snitches: Why the Death Penalty Is So Flawed

If a majority of the Supreme Court justices eventually strike down the death penalty as unconstitutional, Henry Lee McCollum may be an important reason why. Perhaps that will provide some small comfort to him, given the 30-year ordeal he suffered on death row in North Carolina as an innocent man.

McCollum and his brother, Leon Brown, had falsely confessed to the murder of a 11-year-old girl. They were young, intellectually disabled, and they quickly recanted their confessions as having been forced on them by the local police, who used overbearing interrogation tactics. Last year, when DNA testing on evidence that had remained hidden for decades finally exonerated them, the results implicated another man, a serial murderer. Both men have now been pardoned.

In one of the last opinions announced by the Supreme Court this Term, in Glossip v Gross, by a 5-4 margin the Court approved the lethal injection "cocktail" now being used in Oklahoma and other states. What makes the case so important, though, were the defensive remarks by justices in the majority, who perhaps now sense that the days of the death penalty are numbered.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/32438-coerced-confessions-and-jailhouse-snitches-why-the-death-penalty-is-so-flawed

In search of better health and nutrition, Indian tribes go back to land

PINE RIDGE, South Dakota — A rainstorm had washed away his entire potato crop in a single deluge just days before, but Milo Yellow Hair ducked into a greenhouse made of a sturdy tarp and 2-by-4 wooden planks to survey a wide array of crops.

Tomato plants dangled from the ceiling in handmade growing pots, and basil, cilantro, beets, dill, zucchini, peppers, jalapeños and onions emerged from the dirt at his feet. Leaves and vines stretched out like fingers. The air was heavy with moisture, and thirsty mosquitoes swarmed at the open skin of his face and neck.

“Guess we’re growing mosquitoes here too,” he said with a laugh.

As the manager of the Slim Buttes Agriculture Project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in western South Dakota, he speaks of the land in a patient, steady voice, with the click of the Lakota language heard faintly in his English. As healthy eating trends have waxed and waned across the U.S. during the past 30 years, the Slim Buttes project has stayed afloat — barely at times, he confesses — but still alive and providing food to local Native Americans each year.

More:  http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/8/17/native-american-farming.html