Thursday, May 19, 2016

The myth that fewer people are going to prison

Reformers and policymakers who are concerned about the vast U.S. prison system have called for reducing the number of people behind bars. By that standard, they've made progress over the past several years, as the incarcerated population has declined from its peak in 2009.

Yet even as fewer people are behind bars, the number going to prison nationally changed little during that time — outside of California, where the Supreme Court ordered major reforms to the state's overcrowded system in 2011.

John Pfaff, a legal scholar at Fordham University, pointed out the paradox in a series of tweets on Tuesday. While more people are being sent to prison than in 2010, the total population declined because prisoners are serving shorter terms, partly as a result of lawmakers' efforts to reduce minimum sentences. The reduced sentencing are welcome for convicts and their families, but incarceration is not affecting fewer lives.

More:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/05/18/the-myth-that-fewer-people-are-going-to-prison/

Final 2015 Crime Data Shows No ‘Viral Video Effect’

The Brennan Center’s Crime in 2015: A Final Analysis has helped push back on claims by FBI Director James Comey that less aggressive policing caused an increase in homicides. Comey has blamed this alleged new police posture on public scrutiny around videos of police confrontations, a dynamic he’s termed the “viral video effect.”

The New York Times editorialized it’s a “false notion that the country is entering a crime wave,” adding: “That idea was debunked last month in a study by the Brennan Center for Justice of 2015 crime data from the 30 largest cities. The study found that crime had remained the same as in 2014 and that two-thirds of the cities had actually had drops in crime.”

The data was also cited by The Washington Post.

There are year-to-year variations but no nationwide epidemic, and no factor that easily explains localized upticks, according to Ames Grawert who spoke to The Intercept.

Read more from The Guardian and The Washington Times. Read the Brennan Center’s analysis debunking a national crime or murder wave here.


Is It Time to Free Native American Activist Leonard Peltier?

The 71-year-old has lived behind barbed wire and concrete walls for more than half of his life, cemented in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

As he wages a four-decade legal battle in a case clouded with conflicting testimony, political influence and doubt, he also struggles with declining health, including diabetes, a heart condition, multiple jaw surgeries and loss of vision and motor function due to a stroke.

In the first month of 2016, Peltier was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm—a swollen aorta that can amount to a tiny ticking time bomb if left untreated. Sometime during our visit, he turned to me and said, “If you don’t get me out of here, I’m going to die—and it won’t be of old age.”
Unless President Obama grants him clemency, Peltier’s prediction will almost certainly come true.

Read more at http://www.newsweek.com/time-free-native-american-activist-leonard-peltier-460866


He Killed Two FBI Agents. Or He Was Framed. After 40 Years, Will Obama Free Leonard Peltier?

Leonard Peltier, a member of the Lakota tribe who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1977, has spent 40 of his 71 years in federal prison. During that time, some have come to view him as an international symbol of the mistreatment of Native Americans by the US criminal justice system; others see him as the murderer of two FBI agents who should continue to pay his debt to society. Recently a group of prominent lawyers—backed by world leaders, civil rights activists, and several members of the US Congress—have renewed efforts to win his freedom by filing a formal appeal for clemency to the Department of Justice and requesting that President Barack Obama intervene on Peltier’s behalf.

In February, Martin Garbus, a well-known New York City trial lawyer and the lead attorney of the group, joined by former US Attorney Cynthia Dunne and attorney Carl S. Nadler, wrote a five-page letter to Obama urging him to grant Peltier clemency. “[T]he time has come for the interests of the law enforcement community to be balanced against principles of fundamental fairness, reconciliation, and healing,” they contended.

They also submitted a 44-page petition for clemency to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney on behalf of Peltier, who suffers from various medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and a heart condition. All of this, the petition notes, impairs “his ability to walk, to see, and to conduct normal life activities…He is ill-equipped to cope with life in the maximum security prisons in which he has been jailed for many years.” The petition includes more than two dozen letters from supporters including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Coretta Scott King, several Native American tribes, and Amnesty International.

Read more: http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2016/05/leonard-peltier-clemency-obama-aim-wounded-knee

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Gutting Habeas Corpus: The Inside Story of How Bill Clinton Sacrificed Prisoners’ Rights for Political Gain

...The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 — or AEDPA — was signed by Bill Clinton in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing. While it has been mostly absent from the recent debates over the crime policies of the ’90s, its impact has been no less profound, particularly when it comes to a bedrock constitutional principle: habeas corpus, or the right of people in prison to challenge their detention. For 20 years, AEDPA has shut the courthouse door on prisoners trying to prove they were wrongfully convicted. Americans are mostly unaware of this legacy, even as we know more than ever about wrongful convictions. Barry Scheck, co-founder and head of the Innocence Project, calls AEDPA “a disaster” and “a major roadblock since its passage.” Many would like to see it repealed.

More:  https://theintercept.com/2016/05/04/the-untold-story-of-bill-clintons-other-crime-bill/

The Other F-word: What we call the imprisoned matters

The other day Margaret Love, a veteran clemency lawyer, scolded The New York Times for this front-page headline: “Virginia Governor Restores Voting Rights to Felons.” She applauded the news — some 200,000 Virginians, most of them African-American, recovered their voting rights under Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order — but she deplored the word “felons.”

“This ugly stigmatizing label has been broadly criticized as counterproductive to reintegration efforts, perpetuating stereotypes about people with a criminal record and encouraging discrimination against them,” she wrote in a blog post. “While the Governor himself was careful with his language, not a single major newspaper reporting on his action could resist including the word in its headline.”

More:  https://www.themarshallproject.org/2016/04/27/the-other-f-word

Justice Dept. agency to alter its terminology for released convicts, to ease reentry

The Justice Department is taking a number of steps to reintegrate those released from prisons and jails into society, most notably during the recent National Reentry Week, such as asking states to provide identification to convicts who have served their sentences and creating a council to remove barriers to their assimilation into every day life. Here, Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, who has headed the Office of Justice Programs since 2013, announces in a guest post that her agency will no longer use words such as “felon” or “convict” to refer to released prisoners.

More:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2016/05/04/guest-post-justice-dept-to-alter-its-terminology-for-released-convicts-to-ease-reentry/

23-26 May in DC: Citizen mobilization and ways to break through power

Ralph Nader presents conference to secure long-overdue democratic solutions by strategic mobilization of citizen networks

May 23-26, Constitution Hall, Washington, DC

Celebrating the 50th anniversary year of Ralph Nader’s book Unsafe at Any Speed, the Center for Study of Responsive Law announces four days of civic mobilization at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. on May 23, 24, 25 and 26, 2016. 
 
Unsafe at Any Speed unleashed fresh energies and sparked the creation of numerous advocacy organizations leading to major consumer, environmental and worker safety protections. Register here.
 
The theme of this citizen mobilization will be elaborating ways to break through power to secure long-overdue democratic solutions made possible by a new muscular civic nexus between local communities and Washington, D.C.
 
Breaking Through Conference graphic
 
On these four days, speakers will present innovative ideas and strategies designed to take existing civic groups to higher levels of effectiveness. The participants will be asked to support the creation of several new organizations. One such group will work to open up the commercial media, which use the public airwaves free of charge, to serious content. Another will facilitate action by retired military, national security and diplomatic officials who want to deter unconstitutional and unlawful plunges into wars that lead to calamitous and costly blowbacks.
 
This “Civic Mobilization” will involve thousands of people at Constitution Hall and around the country and connect long-available knowledge to long-neglected action for the necessities and aspirations of people from all backgrounds. Many of the presentations will feature reforms and redirections for the common good enjoy Left/Right support.
 
Breaking Through Power: How it’s Done—May 23, 2016 will feature presentations by seventeen citizen advocacy groups. Over decades these activists have produced amazing accomplishments against powerful odds. These civic leaders will demonstrate how, with modest budgets and stamina, they have improved the health, safety and economic well-being of the people and focused public opinion onto decision-makers and opponents. Through greater visibility, broader support and wider emulation, they will present their future missions and show that it can be “easier than we think” to make major changes. For the first time ever, this diverse group of fighters for justice will be assembled together on stage at Constitution Hall and show that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts when fighting for a broader democratic society. The presenters will appraise what levels of citizen organization is necessary to fulfill these broadly-desired missions.
 
Breaking Through Power: The Media—May 24, 2016, brings together also for the first time a large gathering of authors, documentary filmmakers, reporters, columnists, musicians, poets and editorial cartoonists. All of these presenters have documented or depicted entrenched wrongdoing by the corporate state or “crony capitalism”—the cruel impacts of corporate crimes and abuses, the absence of governmental law enforcement, and the harmful effects of concentrated corporate power.
The speakers all seek wider audiences for their works: more readers, viewers and listeners. Unfortunately the mass media barons prefer to wallow in incessant advertising, hedonistic entertainment, sports and mind-numbing redundancy. The result is what many observers see as the stupefaction of human intelligence. A major purpose of Day Two is the creation of a “Voices” advocacy organization that puts forces in motion to inject serious programming into the over-the-air and cable networks under a revitalized Communications Act of 1934 and generally champion a greater life of the mind on all media.
 
Breaking Through Power: War—May 25, 2016 is dedicated to enhancing the waging of peace over the waging of war. We will assemble leading scholars having military and national security backgrounds, veterans groups such as Veterans for Peace, and long-time peace advocacy associations, to explain how peace is more powerful than war. The speakers will address the horrorsof war, its huge costs here and abroad to innocents and the weakening blowbacks of Empire amidst a collapse of constitutional and international law. One outcome of this day will be the establishment of a Secretariat comprised of current and former top-level military, national security and diplomatic officials who have spoken truth to reckless power. If organized for quick responses, their credibility, experience and wisdom can resist and prevent the kind of prevaricating pressures and unilateral policies that drove the unlawful destruction of Iraq, Libya and beyond.
 
Breaking Through Power: Congress—May 26, 2016 will unveil a new Civic Agenda to be advanced by engaged and enraged citizens in each Congressional district. The Civic Agenda includes recognized necessities ignored by Congress for decades. The planks of this Civic Agenda will be presented by nationally-recognized advocates—a veritable brain trust for the well-being of present and future generations. Each speaker will present the substance of each demand, which will be conveyed to their members of Congress via organized “Citizen Summons” in each Congressional District. Revitalizing the people to assert their sovereignty under our Constitution is critical to the kind of government, economy, environment and culture that will fulfill human possibilities and respect posterity.
 
 
For More Information visit: BreakingThroughPower.org

Snowden: Whistleblowing Is Not Just Leaking, It Is An Act Of Resistance

I’VE BEEN WAITING 40 years for someone like you.” Those were the first words Daniel Ellsberg spoke to me when we met last year. Dan and I felt an immediate kinship; we both knew what it meant to risk so much — and to be irrevocably changed — by revealing secret truths. One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency, who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint.

More:  https://theintercept.com/2016/05/03/edward-snowden-whistleblowing-is-not-just-leaking-its-an-act-of-political-resistance/

San Francisco Hunger Strikers Enter 9th Day To Protest Police Brutality

A hunger strike protesting police violence and racial injustices against black and brown people has entered its ninth day in San Francisco. Eight men and women—including a Board of Supervisor candidate, two pre-school teachers, local rappers and family members—are camped out on a sidewalk outside the police station in the city’s gentrifying Mission district, which has experienced an exodus of Latino residents and artists in recent years.

More:  http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/san-francisco-hunger-strikers-enter-ninth-day-protest-police-brutality-against-black

Blockade Disrupts Klamath Watershed Salvage Logging

...Demonstrators held banners that read ‘Karuk Land: Karuk Plan,’ recited call and response chants, and testified to the timber sales’ impact on ailing salmon populations. Work was delayed for approximately four hours, according to a news release from the river advocates.

The protesters said the Westside Salvage Logging Project would clear cut more than 5,700 acres on steep slopes above Klamath River tributaries and along 320 miles of roads within Klamath National Forest. Post-fire logging and hauling began in late April, before legal claims brought forth by a lawsuit led by the Karuk Tribe could be considered in court.

“The Forest Service should follow the Karuk Plan on Karuk Land. Traditional knowledge of fire helps everything stay in balance because it’s all intertwined,” said Dania Rose Colegrove of the Klamath Justice Coalition. “When you destroy the forests, you destroy the rivers.”

The protesters said the Westside plan, unlike the Karuk Alternative, calls for clear cut logging on steep slopes right above several of the Klamath River’s most important salmon-bearing streams, at a time when returning salmon numbers are reaching record lows.

More:  https://intercontinentalcry.org/blockade-disrupts-klamath-watershed-salvage-logging/

Redskins, and Other Troubling Trademarks

The Supreme Court may soon take up two cases in which the government does not want to register trademarks it considers disparaging — for the Washington Redskins football team and an Asian-American band called The Slants. The major federal law on trademarks lets the government deny registration to trademarks that are “immoral, deceptive, or scandalous” or that “disparage.”

Is it a denial of free speech for the government to prohibit registration for such trademarks?

More:  http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/05/04/redskins-and-other-troubling-trademarks

Fort McMurray Blaze, Fast and Unpredictable, Keeps Firefighters at a Distance

OTTAWA — Walls of flame driven by strong, shifting winds raged out of control on Wednesday in and around the evacuated city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, where firefighters were helpless to stop the destruction and where about 88,000 people had fled their homes.
 
“To date, the fire has resisted all suppression efforts,” Bernie Schmidt, an Alberta forestry official, told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday. “This is a very complex fire, with multiple fronts and explosive conditions.”
 
Rachel Notley, the premier of the province, said that at least 1,600 buildings had been destroyed. No deaths or serious injuries were reported, but the danger was far from over.
 
“This is a really dirty fire,” Darby Allen, the regional fire chief for the area, said on the conference call. “There are certainly areas within the city which have not been burned, but this fire will look for them, and it will take them.”
 
The entire population of Fort McMurray, the main center for Canada’s oil sands region, was ordered to evacuate on Tuesday evening once the fire, which began in woodlands outside the city, had overwhelmed firefighters’ efforts to hold it at bay. Cars and trucks jammed the only route out of the city, Highway 63, which runs north to the oil-sands work camps and south to Edmonton, the nearest sizable city, 270 miles away.
 
More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/05/world/americas/fort-mcmurray-canada-fire.html
 
 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Public Defenders’ Biases May Contribute to Wrongful Convictions

According to the Innocence Project, 69 percent of DNA-based exonerees in the United States are people of color. In many of those cases, racial bias significantly contributed to those exonerees being either targeted as suspects, misidentified or being provided with inadequate counsel—all of which played roles in their wrongful convictions. Law enforcement and prosecutors often take the blame as those within the justice system most often misguided by their own inherent biases, but a piece published in the Marshall Project on Monday highlights how public defenders may harbor inherent biases towards their clients just as often as others within the criminal justice system do, preventing them from providing effective counsel.

According to the Marshall Project, defense attorneys are not immune to the racial and ethnic biases that are most often attributed to police and prosecutors, and these biases may subconsciously compel them to disregard their clients’ innocence claims and encourage guilty pleas.

“[Bias] might manifest in whether the defender believes in the guilt or innocence of the person they’re representing,” says Phoebe Haddon, chancellor of Rutgers University-Camden. “Or their assessment of their fellow counsel, the credibility of witnesses, whether to take a plea bargain.”

If defenders’ bias causes them to doubt their clients’ innocence, it could lead to them spending less time on their client’s cases. Professors Song Richardson and Philip Atiba Goff wrote in a 2013 article for the Yale Law Journal: “[Defenders] may expend more effort on cases in which they believe their client is factually innocent.”

More:  http://www.innocenceproject.org/public-defenders-biases-may-contribute-wrongful-convictions/

The Agony of Solitary Confinement: It’s Like Being ‘Buried Alive,’ Prisoners Say

Here’s what it’s like to be in solitary confinement in a supermax prison—you are locked into your 8- by-10-foot cell for 23 hours per day, where the lights are on all the time. There are no windows in your cell to let in sunlight. Your only view is the window in the cell door that looks out onto a sterile cellblock.
 
When you are allowed out for one hour of recreation per day, you must first be strip-searched. Then you are shackled hand and foot and taken by two guards to a small wire cage that is your “exercise” yard. You are not allowed to talk to the guards, or to the other prisoners who may be exercising in the cages next to you. You are then shackled again, and led back to your cell. All meals are served to you through a slot in your cell door. If you’re very lucky, you will be allowed outside twice a week where, shackled to a table in the middle of the cellblock, you will perform menial labor, like wrapping packets of sporks and salt in napkins that will be placed in the prisoners’ meal trays.
 
Imagine living like this year after year after year.

A new documentary goes inside a supermax prison to discover what it’s like being in solitary confinement—a practice experts now describe as unnecessary and prisoners say is torture. Watch an exclusive clip.

More:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/13/the-agony-of-solitary-confinement-it-s-like-being-buried-alive-prisoners-say.html

Inmates at multiple Alabama prisons go on strike in protest against system, conditions

Inmates at multiple Alabama prisons are refusing to perform their assigned work duties in what they describe as a coordinated act of civil disobedience.

The strike began Sunday as an attempt to deal a severe enough financial blow to the prison system to force authorities to make a wide range of reforms, according to an advocacy group and an inmate participating in the strike.

More:  http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/05/inmates_at_multiple_alabama_pr.html

Solitary confinement is 'no touch' torture, and it must be abolished

Shortly after arriving at a makeshift military jail, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in May 2010, I was placed into the black hole of solitary confinement for the first time. Within two weeks, I was contemplating suicide.

After a month on suicide watch, I was transferred back to US, to a tiny 6 x 8ft (roughly 2 x 2.5 meter) cell in a place that will haunt me for the rest of my life: the US Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia. I was held there for roughly nine months as a “prevention of injury” prisoner, a designation the Marine Corps and the Navy used to place me in highly restrictive solitary conditions without a psychiatrist’s approval.

For 17 hours a day, I sat directly in front of at least two Marine Corps guards seated behind a one-way mirror. I was not allowed to lay down. I was not allowed to lean my back against the cell wall. I was not allowed to exercise. Sometimes, to keep from going crazy, I would stand up, walk around, or dance, as “dancing” was not considered exercise by the Marine Corps.

More:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2016/may/02/solitary-confinement-is-solitary-confinement-is-torture-6x9-cells-chelsea-manningno-touch-torture-and-it-must-be-abolished

Lakota Lead the Fight Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

As the start of 2016 shatters last year's record as the hottest year on record, the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation) once again find themselves on the front lines of the battle against the fossil fuel industry.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have established a Spirit Camp at the mouth of the Cannonball River in North Dakota as a means of bringing attention and awareness to a proposed pipeline and act as an enduring symbol of resistance against its construction.

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is set to cut through several US states, delivering hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil from the Bakken and Three Forks oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.

More:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35859-lakota-lead-the-fight-against-the-dakota-access-pipeline

Resettling the First American ‘Climate Refugees’

In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced grants totaling $1 billion in 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change, by building stronger levees, dams and drainage systems.
One of those grants, $48 million for Isle de Jean Charles, is something new: the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the impacts of climate change. The divisions the effort has exposed and the logistical and moral dilemmas it has presented point up in microcosm the massive problems the world could face in the coming decades as it confronts a new category of displaced people who have become known as climate refugees.
 
“We’re going to lose all our heritage, all our culture,” lamented Chief Albert Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, the tribe to which most Isle de Jean Charles residents belong. “It’s all going to be history.”
 
More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/03/us/resettling-the-first-american-climate-refugees.html
 
 

First Nations Target Trudeau's Climate Plan With Indigenous Climate Action

UNDRIP is an international declaration that is built on a premise of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Or, more plainly, Indigenous rights to not just participate in decision making processes but the right to say "no." This position is in addition to the already existing fiduciary and legal obligation of the federal government to ensure adequate and meaningful consultation occurs with respect to any laws, legislation and land management that may affect our inherent and treaty rights in the country.

More:  https://www.popularresistance.org/first-nations-target-trudeaus-climate-plan-with-indigenous-climate-action/

Why You Should Care About The Coming Email Privacy Law

You probably think the US government needs a warrant if they want to dig through your old emails, texts, and instant messages, right? Well, you’re wrong! That may change soon with the Email Privacy Act, which was just passed in the House by a vote of 419 to 0. The law that currently governs how police can pry into your digital life is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which was originally passed in 1986.

More:  https://www.popularresistance.org/why-you-should-care-about-the-coming-email-privacy-law/

Indigenous Movement Stops Construction Of Brazilian Mega-Dam

In a historic victory, one of Brazil’s largest indigenous groups has managed to suspend construction of a mega-dam that threatened to submerge their home. The Brazilian indigenous agency FUNAI finally demarcated the territory of the Munduruku people, providing the legal basis to suspend construction of the São Luiz de Tapajós dam. These 700 square miles of land – known as Sawre Muybu – are now legally recognized as the traditional territory of the Munduruku and protected under the Brazilian constitution.

More:  https://www.popularresistance.org/indigenous-movement-stops-construction-of-brazilian-mega-dam/

Monday, May 2, 2016

What Can the U.S. Do About Mass Incarceration?

America is a world leader in incarceration. The U.S. locks up more people than any other country, the University of London’s Institute for Criminal Policy Research reports. An estimated 1.6 million individuals were held in state and federal prisons at the end of 2014, while roughly 1 out of every 36 adults fell under correctional supervision, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
 
Democrats and Republicans alike agree that mass incarceration is a problem, and state and federal efforts are underway to enact criminal-justice reform. But enacting effective reform requires an understanding of what caused the problem in the first place.

More:  http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/04/ending-mass-incarceration/475563/

43 years in solitary: 'There are moments I wish I was back there'

Before walking out of jail a free man in February, Albert Woodfox spent 43 years almost without pause in an isolation cell, becoming the longest standing solitary confinement prisoner in America. He had no view of the sky from inside his 6ft by 9ft concrete box, no human contact, and taking a walk meant pacing from one end of the cell to the other and back again.

A few days ago he found himself on a beach in Galveston, Texas, in the company of a friend. He stood marvelling at all the beachgoers under a cloudless sky, and stared out over the Gulf of Mexico as it stretched far out to the horizon.

“You could hear the tide and the water coming in,” he says. “It was so strange, walking on the beach and all these people and kids running around.”

Of all the terrifying details of Woodfox’s four decades of solitary incarceration – the absence of human touch, the panic attacks and bouts of claustrophobia, the way they chained him even during the one hour a day he was allowed outside the cell – perhaps the most chilling aspect of all is what he says now. Two months after the state of Louisiana set him free on his 69th birthday, he says he sometimes wishes he was back in that cell.

More:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/29/albert-woodfox-43-years-solitary-confinement-wish-i-was-back

The Life and Death of Daniel Berrigan

Rev. Daniel Berrigan, the renown anti-war activist, award-winning poet, author and Jesuit priest, who inspired religious opposition to the Vietnam war and later the U.S. nuclear weapons industry, died at age 94, just a week shy of his 95th birthday.

He died of natural causes at the Jesuit infirmary at Murray-Weigel Hall in the Bronx. I had visited him just last week. He has long been in declining health.

Dan Berrigan published over fifty books of poetry, essays, journals and scripture commentaries, as well as an award winning play, “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine,” in his remarkable life, but he was most known for burning draft files with homemade napalm along with his brother Philip and eight others on May 17, 1968, in Catonsville, Maryland, igniting widespread national protest against the Vietnam war, including increased opposition from religious communities. He was the first U.S. priest ever arrested in protest of war, at the national mobilization against the Vietnam war at the Pentagon in October, 1967. He was arrested hundreds of times since then in protests against war and nuclear weapons, spent two years of his life in prison, and was repeatedly nominated for the Nobel peace prize.

More:  http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/05/01/life-and-death-daniel-berrigan

The Guardians of Mother Earth: The Indigenous U'wa struggle for peace in Colombia

This is first installment of "The Guardians of Mother Earth," an exclusive four-part series examining the Indigenous U'wa struggle for peace in Colombia.

On September 23, 2015, in the Palace of Conventions in Havana, Cuba, his excellency Juan Manuel Santos, the President of the Republic of Colombia, and Commander Timoleon Jimenez, Chief of General Staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, signed an agreement on transitional justice and reparations to the victims of the country's 51 year old civil war, resolving one of the final points in the country's peace negotiations.

“We are adversaries, we come from different sides, but today we move in the same direction,” said President Santos, “this noble direction that all societies can have, is one of peace.”

In a show of unity, the warring parties all wore white-collared shirts without ties, as they sat on opposite sides of the brown mahogany tables encircling an artificially bright-green shrubbery arrangement. Around the room’s perimeter stood a throng of reporters, crowded together behind a red rope line, snapping photos of the historic handshake between the president and the leader of the country's largest guerrilla army. A prolonged war that has killed more than 260,000 people and victimized and displaced seven million more seemed to be drawing to an end.

Among the victims of the conflict are the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia. Of the 102 tribal nations in existence today more than half are at risk of disappearing – forced displacement and mining on indigenous territory during the armed conflict have contributed heavily to the widespread demise.

More:  https://intercontinentalcry.org/the-guardians-of-mother-earth/