Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NYC: 33 Years Is Too Much! Parole for Peltier!

33 Years is Too Much! Parole for Peltier!

July 17, 2009 • 7–9:30 p.m.

Judson Memorial Church Assembly Hall
Entrance at 239 Thompson St. (Wheelchair Accessible)

WMD Poetry, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Dave Lippman

Mike Kuzma
Tiokasin Ghosthorse
Interview: Bruce Ellison, Parole Attorney

Video excerpts:
No Boundaries by Peter Matthiesen
Leonard Crowdog on Leonard Peltier

Sliding scale $5 to $10. Nobody turned away due to empty pockets!

Sponsored by New York Leonard Peltier Support Group and friends:
NY Anarchist Black Cross Federation (NYCABCF), NYC Anarchist People of Color (APOC), First Voices Indigenous Radio, International Action Center (IAC), NYC Jericho, ProLibertad, Resistance in Brooklyn

For more info:
nyclpsg@gmail.comnycjericho@gmail.com • 718-365-4407

Trains: A,B,C,D,E,F,V to W. 4th St.—2 blocks E. to Thompson;
N,R to 8th St., S. to W 4th, W. to Thompson

Indefinite detention is un-American

In America, we do not imprison people indefinitely without charges or a trial. Our democracy and the rights that we cherish cannot rely on the wisdom of individual people in the government. It must rely on the Constitution and the rule of law. President Obama needs to hear from you. Let him know that -- whether through legislation or executive order -- you are firmly opposed to indefinite detention.

YouTube Reporters' Center!

Ever captured a natural disaster or a crime on your cell-phone camera? Filmed a political rally or protest, and then interviewed the participants afterward? Produced a story about a local issue in your community? If you've done any of these things or aspire to, then you're part of the enormous community of citizen reporters on YouTube, and this channel is for you.

The YouTube Reporters' Center is a new resource to help you learn more about how to report the news. It features some of the nation's top journalists and news organizations sharing instructional videos with tips and advice for better reporting.


Troy Davis decision postponed

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court delayed a decision on whether to grant Troy Davis an appeal until after it returns from recess in September. The court's decision (or non-decision) should be taken as a good sign. It gives us hope that at least some Supreme Court Justices may finally be waking up to the strong claims of innocence in this case and want to take more time to weigh the facts.

We are convinced that if the justices agree to hold a hearing and allow all evidence to be weighed, then they will come to see what we have known all along – the pieces just don't add up. When Davis was sentenced to death for the 1989 shooting of a police officer in Savannah, there was an absence of any physical evidence against him. Furthermore, the majority of witnesses who testified against him then, have now recanted or changed their stories altogether.

Troy's case continues to inspire the support of millions of activists and countless leaders speaking on behalf of human rights, including former President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond TuTu.Our activism has already put the U.S. Supreme Court and Georgia officials on the fence. Now we've got to do all we can these next couple of months to guarantee justice for Troy Davis!

Join the thousands in Savannah, Georgia who are calling for the new District Attorney to reopen Troy's case.

Troy's life continues to be saved because of people like you who take the time to make the difference.

Thank you,

Laura Moye, Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Director

P.S. Stay informed of the latest Troy news by checking back here: http://amnestyusa.org/troy

The 2008 election wrapped up today

Poor loser Republican Norm Coleman conceded to Democrat Al Franken in Minnesota's contested Senate race today, ending a nearly eight-month recount and court fight over an election decided by only a few hundred votes. Coleman announced his decision at a news conference in St. Paul, hours after a unanimous Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Franken, a former "Saturday Night Live" comedian and liberal commentator, should be certified the winner.

Heart of justice is missing


Local View: Heart of justice is missing
Sunday, Jun 28, 2009 - 11:55:28 pm CDT

A recent Nebraska Supreme Court decision denied former Omaha Black Panther leader Ed Poindexter the right to a new trial (June 19) and ignored violations of his rights that were often recorded in memos by longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his agents or by Omaha Police Department reports. Of course, these recorded materials served as tips to investigate before Poindexter’s legal team handed over volumes of documentation to the court.

Poindexter’s arrest in August of 1970 for the suspected murder of an Omaha policeman, Officer Larry Minard Sr., and his short 1971 trial, along with fellow Panther leader Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice), made front-page headlines in Omaha from the time of their arrest to their conviction. In fact, activists and journalists who have studied this ongoing injustice claim the two men were convicted by headline.

In April 1971, Poindexter and we Langa were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Now men in their 60s, they’re still at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, partly because they refuse to say they’re sorry for a crime they didn’t commit and thus don’t qualify for commutation or parole. They’ve always maintained their innocence, but learned early on that innocence isn’t enough.

Support of their cause to win justice has come from Amnesty International in the United States and in Europe. On April 18, 1999, Amnesty International at a General Meeting in Minneapolis passed a resolution calling for the immediate release of Ed Poindexter, Mondo we Langa and other political prisoners.

I’ve followed this case since 1970 and have researched and written articles about it since 1974. In the summer of 1981, I took an eight-week graduate seminar on human rights and discrimination in the political science department at the University of Iowa. My project for the summer was to study the topic of political prisoners in the United States.

For my 35-page seminary paper, I focused on three incarcerated black leaders known worldwide (if not here in Lincoln) as political prisoners: Ed Poindexter, Geronimo Pratt (of California) and Mondo we Langa. At the time, I had access to 350 pages of FBI COINTELPRO memos, released through the Freedom of Information Act, that demonstrated how FBI Director Hoover orchestrated urban police departments into action against blacks.

In a memo dated Aug. 26, 1967, Hoover urged FBI agents to “discredit” black leaders and their groups. Memos dated March 17, 1970, and Aug. 24, 1970, specifically targeted Poindexter and we Langa by way of discrediting and disinformation (Hoover’s coinage for plain old lying) in an effort to dismantle their leadership. In the 1990s, the British Broadcasting Company produced a documentary on Ed Poindexter, Geronimo Pratt and Mondo we Langa that is available on DVD.

When I, as a lay person (not a lawyer), first read the Nebraska Supreme Court’s 22-page printed response to Ed Poindexter’s October 2008 filing, it seemed to me a superficial treatment of serious issues that would result in preserving the status quo rather than correcting injustices.

I realize that both British and American law is built on precedent, that is, on cases that precede a current case. So there is limited opportunity for progressive thought or change. This partially explains why our legal culture took so long to grow away from the infamous 1857 Dred Scott case that essentially meant blacks have no rights whites need to respect. (Privileged racists in control of judicial and legislative branches explain the rest of what happened.)

With this recent Nebraska ruling, it’s as if the court cast blind eyes upon the failures of Poindexter’s early defense attorneys and upon the misconduct of prosecuting attorneys. In addition, the court abandoned consideration of injustices against Poindexter inherent in the FBI’s 911 memo (dated Oct. 13, 1970). Omaha’s Assistant Chief of Police, Glenn Gates, in this memo advises withholding evidence until after Poindexter’s April 1971 trial, evidence the police figured might help the defendant. The 911 memo offers all kinds of possibilities to explore, both subtle and overt.

Credibility of the state’s witness? It mattered not. Lying under oath? Conflicting testimonies? These moral questions fester like open wounds.

The court’s recurrent refrain of agreement with shallow district court opinions predictably leads into this conclusion on the last page of the printed text: “We affirm the judgment of the district court denying Poindexter’s motion for postconviction relief.”

What I brought back home with me to Lincoln after the 1981 seminar on human rights and discrimination at the University of Iowa is that political prisoners seldom get justice in their own backyards. Nearly every nation in the world incarcerates political prisoners. It’s a universal problem that could be solved, though, by courts throughout the world.

It is especially disappointing that only the veneer of justice and not the heart of it emerges now from the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Nan Graf is a retired professor living in Lincoln.

30 Jun 2009: Today's Democracy Now!

Judge Sentences Madoff to 150 Years, But Will Regulatory System That Allowed Massive Financial Fraud Really Change?
Bernard Madoff, the convicted mastermind behind one of the biggest financial frauds in U.S. history, was ordered Monday to serve 150 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed. Madoff pleaded guilty in March to running a massive Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of some $50 billion dollars. Federal District Judge Denny Chin said it was important that the severity of the sentence serve as a deterrent to future offenders. We speak with financial journalist, Bethany McLean of Vanity Fair.

Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009: The Life and Legacy of the King of Pop
Fans around the world are still mourning the passing of Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop.” Jackson catapulted to fame on the Motown records label as the youngest member of the Jackson Five but soon embarked on a solo career that made him the biggest star in the country and one of the most globally recognized entertainers. Michael Jackson’s immensely popular music, dance moves, and videos were known and loved across the world but in the last decade of his life, it was his multiple plastic surgeries and allegations of child molestation that dominated media attention. We take a look at the life and legacy of the pop icon with Pulitzer prize-winning writer, Margo Jefferson, author of “On Michael Jackson” and Duke University professor, Mark Anthony Neal.

US Pullback Leaves Iraq in Formal Control of Urban Areas
4 US Soldiers Killed; Ambassador Vows US Military Action “for Months to Come”
Foreign Companies Bid on Iraqi Oil Deals
Zelaya Vows Return to Honduras as Crowds Protest Coup
Obama Condemns Honduran Coup, But Won’t Suspend Aid
Iran Guardian Council Certifies Elections
Ahead of US Meeting, Israel Annexes New West Bank Land, Announces New Settlement Construction
Israel Threatens Free Gaza Aid Ship in International Waters
Obama Vows Action on Gay Issues
Texas Police Accused of Anti-Gay Raid on Stonewall Anniversary
Madoff Given 150-Year Sentence
Supreme Court Restricts Diversity Efforts in Hiring
Anti-Torture Activists Seek Disbarment of CIA Lawyers

Monday, June 29, 2009

Change We Knead Now

Sit with us outside the White House and bake bread for World Peace in Lafayette Park starting on July 4th, 2009

We see that many of Obama's supporters are growing disillusioned as he has not implemented the ideas they felt he stood for, and many say that something must be done this summer to stop his drift way from the change he was elected to champion.

We spent trillions to bail out America's corporations, now it's time to bail out the American people. Obama said we would need to push him to do the right thing. This is our time.

We have chosen six changes we believe Obama can enact this year, and that would have the most impact toward returning power to the public, providing jobs, slowing climate change, and providing economic stability and security for the future. We saw how easy it was to find trillions of dollars to bail out the financial industry. It is clear that Obama can find the trillions needed to implement the changes that will benefit all the people in this country that voted for him.

Our proposed strategy involves sitting outside the White House with a petition of six changes. Some of us will bake bread in solar ovens to hand out to the hungry. We intend to have hundreds, and then thousands of people sitting outside the White House at any one time. We will give the signed petitions to Obama. It is legal to sit in front of the White House and it is legal to have a petition and bake bread in a solar oven. The solar oven is a symbol of just how easy to is to replace an oil-based society with a solar-powered future. Nuclear power and "clean" coal are NOT the alternative energy America voted for. As thousands sit outside the White House promoting these changes, supporters at home can show their support by downloading the petition and having it signed by their friends, family and coworkers. Supporters can organize local civil actions baking bread in solar ovens. We can also wear or display THE RAINBOW RIBBON OF WORLD PEACE to show how many support our six changes.

It is clear that Obama is listening to the interests of America's corporate rulers. The American people must take action to get his attention and make it necessary for his administration to make the bold changes his supporters elected him to implement. Letters, e-mails and phone calls have not applied enough pressure against the power of corporate lobbyists, campaign contributions, and media spin, to create the change we need now!

Sincerely yours,

Franco Mares and Keith McHenry
P.O. Box 424 - Arroyo Seco, NM 87514 USA


Download THE FLYER

Herman Bell Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charge of Voluntary Manslaughter

Herman Bell was supported by a courtroom of supporters today as he entered a plea in the SF 8 case. After legal formalities he left the courtroom raising a clenched fist to the crowd. The following statement was issued by his legal team:

Herman Bell Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charge of Voluntary Manslaughter For a Sentence of Five Years Probation

Today, June 29, 2009, Herman Bell, one of the SF8, will plead (pled) guilty in Department 22 of the San Francisco Superior Court to the reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter for his role in the killing of San Francisco police officer John Young in 1971. Mr. Bell is charged along with six others with this crime. The other six are still scheduled to go forward with the preliminary hearing beginning on July 6, 2009.

The other six maintain their innocence and Mr. Bell’s plea does not in any way incriminate them; Mr. Bell supports the others innocence. Part of the plea agreement , which will be (was) read in open court, is that Mr. Bell will not be a witness against his comrades and friends and cannot be called to any hearing as a witness by the prosecution.

Mr. Bell’s plea is based on his unique situation. Mr. Bell was convicted in 1975 for the killing of two police officers in New York City. He has been in prison for almost thirty-seven years for those convictions. His fight for freedom is in New York, where he will continue to fight for parole. He has been a model prisoner while in New York where he has gained graduate degrees and started programs to help other inmates and the communities from which they come.

Mr. Bell is pleading to the reduced charges of voluntary manslaughter and is, in fact, receiving no punishment based on his admission of guilt. His sentence will be that he will be placed on informal probation for five years and will be allowed to immediately return to New York. He will receive absolutely no additional prison time for his actions. He and his attorneys believe that the resolution in this case will not negatively effect his parole efforts in New York.

The second charge faced by Mr. Bell, conspiracy to kill policemen, will be (was) dismissed.

Mr. Bell and his supporters see this resolution as a resounding victory. Mr. Bell was facing life without the possibility of parole in a maximum security prison in California if convicted. The government, through an informant, originally alleged that Mr. Bell was the shooter of Sgt Young. However, it is difficult to believe that the Attorney General of California, who prosecuted this case, would have allowed Mr. Bell to plead to a lesser charge with a sentence of only informal probation if there was credible evidence he had shot Sgt. Young.

Bell and his co-defendants have always maintained that, because of the torture used by the New Orleans Police Department to gain alleged confessions and the lack of new evidence, these charges should never have been brought.

Dolores Michelsen
179 11th Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
PH: (415) 864-5600
FAX: (415) 865-0376

News from Indianz.Com

Swearing-in ceremony for IHS head Roubideaux (6/29)

Senate Indian Affairs Committee field hearing (6/29)

Jobs: AMERIND CEO, Chickasaw Nation director (6/29)

Stillaguamish Tribe not worried about trust land (6/29)

Poarch Creek Leader: Trust lands and gaming (6/29)

BIA agency moves to bigger office in California (6/29)

Study: Native youth believe they will die young (6/29)

Oglala Sioux Tribe loses Missouri River land case (6/29)

Ojibwe activists in Minnesota fight oil pipeline (6/29)

Great Plains tribal leaders meet in North Dakota (6/29)

Mohawks in Canada to sue over closure of bridge (6/29)

Fast food manager disciplined for racist remark (6/29)

Opinion: Indian artifact theft difficult to combat (6/29)

Editorial: No logic in $21M airport for tiny village (6/29)

Marc Simmons: Pueblo became Spanish capital (6/29)

Editorial: 'Sheep is Life' celebrates a treasure (6/29)

Obama reply due in off-reservation casino case (6/29)

Ewiiaapaayp Band won't deny interest in casino (6/29)

Disabled woman upset with casino bus service (6/29)

Column: Questions about death at Mohegan Sun (6/29)

More headlines...

Crime Against Humanity Returns to New York

Crime Against Humanity Returns to New York

After performing before more than 5000 people through-out the United Sates and Puerto Rico, the fiercely innovative play Crime Against Humanity returns to New York

With Chicago and New York Cast

A play based on Puerto Rican Political Prisoners

Limited showings

East Harlem Cafe
1651 Lexington Ave
New York

Thursday 2nd
Friday 3rd
Thursday 9th
Friday 10th

Special Closing Show
Julia De Burgos Cultural Center
1680 Lexington Ave
New York
Saturday July 11th

Tickets are $10.00
Reserve tickets at - Reyespoetry.com
(646) 387-7207

Peace caravan heads for Akwesasne


MNN. June 28, 2009. To support the Mohawks of Akwesasne who refuse to allow the border guards to carry guns at the CBSA check point, a Peace Caravan will be arriving on Wednesay, June 30. It will start in Six Nations and head east on the 401 to the Cornwall exit. The Six Nations police will be escorting the caravan over the International Bridge to Kahwenoke, Cornwall Island, to the tent site next to the former Canada Customs at approx. 3pm. There may be over 200 cars plus 4 buses. Hundreds of supporters are expected. Many are arriving on Tues. June 29th. All are welcome to stay for July 1st to hear speakers and take part in socials.

For those coming from the US side or making donations, they may go to or cross over from Loran Thompson's Dock or Mac's Marina at the old church in St. Regis, off Highway 37 to Cornwall Island.

Bring your camping gear.

NEEDED: water, food and money. Funds would be greatly appreciated: Go to www.akwesasnewomensfire.com and donate online. For donations by check or money order please send to: Akwesasne Womens Fire, 936 Island Rd, Akwesasne ON K6H 5R7

For further information please contact: Rosemarie White 613-933-8784; Veronica Cook; 915-886-0210; Neddy Thompson 613-577-4647; and Nona Benedict 613-551-5421 (c) 613-938-8145 (h)

29 Jun 2009: Today's Democracy Now!

Coup in Honduras: Military Ousts President Manuel Zelaya, Supporters Defy Curfew and Take to the Streets
In the first military coup in Central America in a quarter of a century, the Honduran military has ousted the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Former Parliamentary speaker Roberto Micheletti, who was sworn in as Zelaya’s replacement on Sunday, has imposed a two-day nationwide curfew. But hundreds of Zelaya supporters remain on the streets, and shots were fired at protesters near the presidential palace early Monday morning. We go to Honduras to speak with Honduran medical doctor and award-winning human rights activist, Dr. Juan Almendares, and NYU professor of Latin American history, Greg Grandin.

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa on Global Capitalism, Why He Won't Renew the US Base in Manta, Chevron in the Amazon, Obama's War in Afghanistan, and More
In a national broadcast exclusive, we speak with the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. He was in New York attending the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development. In a wide-ranging interview, we speak with President Correa about global capitalism, his decision not to renew the license for the US military base in Manta, the $12 billion lawsuit against Chevron brought by thousands of Amazon residents for toxic oil pollution, Ecuador’s relationship with Colombia, and his advice to President Obama: “To learn more and come to better understand the region, and that [Obama] not let himself be taken along by the power of certain media outlets that are comprised with certain ideological fundaments, that the heroes are not necessarily heroes and the villains are not necessarily villains.”

Honduran President Ousted in Military Coup
House Narrowly Passes Climate Bill
Justice Dept.: Gitmo Prisoners Have Some Constitutional Rights
Report: Admin Drafting Indefinite Jailing Authorization
Iranian Forces Beat Protesters
US Forces to Encircle Iraqi Towns They Withdraw From
Thousands Protest US in Pakistan
US to End Poppy Eradication in Afghanistan
UN Opens Gaza Probe with Public Hearings
Obama Issues Signing Statement to Ignore Labor, Environmental Provisions
Organizers: 500,000 Mark Stonewall Anniversary in New York
Madoff Faces Sentencing Hearing

Sunday, June 28, 2009

28 June 2009: Native News from PECHANGA.net

EchoHawk says Cherokee Nation and UKB equal (OKLAHOMA) -- Attorney General Diane Hammons said the Cherokee Nation is considering legal options after a June 24 letter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs states the historical CN no longer exists and that the tribe and the United Keetoowah Band are equals regarding jurisdiction in the 14-county area.

BLOG: They murdered our mother... (OKLAHOMA) -- The Cherokee Nation was declared dead today. She passed away without anyone really noticing (except the Cornsilks). Her care was charged to several appointed and elected leaders including J.B. Milam, W.W. Keeler, Ross O. Swimmer, Wilma P. Mankiller, Joe Byrd and Chad Smith.

Native Hawaiian bill gets new airing (WASHINGTON, DC) -- Granting Native Hawaiians the chance to form their own government, like those established by many of the nation’s 562 American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives, would break new ground and eventually be ruled unconstitutional, critics of the proposal said Thursday.

EchoHawk sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs (WASHINGTON, DC) -- Former Idaho Attorney General Larry EchoHawk took the oath of office Friday as the Obama Administration's Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.

Editorial / Attention is due in the IHS issues (SOUTH DAKOTA) -- Indian Health Services is getting renewed attention. Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the government’s handling of Native American health care was a “historic failure” and she was taking steps to improve care.

Tribe promotes a healthier 21st century (OREGON) -- Coquille tribal leaders have an eye on a healthier future for tribal members. “This is an exciting time for Indian health. We’re in the midst of a movement for national health care reform, as well as reform for the Indian health system,” said Kelle Little, the health and human services administrator for the Coquille Indian Tribe Health Center.

IHS releases half billion in funds (WASHINGTON, DC) -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced that IHS will release $500 million allocated for improvements in Indian health as part of the stimulus act.

Roubideaux will seek user input; make IHS more accountable PDF Print E-mail (WASHINGTON, DC) -- Dr. Yvette Roubideaux takes the helm of the Indian Health Service at a time when the agency is under fire for mismanagement and “historic failure;” however, the Harvard educated Rosebud Sioux Tribe member and the first-ever woman to serve as its director in its 54-year history vows to put the IHS on a positive course.

Tribes urged to support renewable energy legislation / Congress appears ready for action (WASHINGTON, DC) -- Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate that would allow tribes to hold an un-penalized equity position in renewable energy projects built on their reservations.

Analysis: House Vote May Spur Energy Revolution (WASHINGTON, DC) -- Congress has taken its first step toward an energy revolution, with the prospect of profound change for every household, business, industry and farm in the decades ahead.

Historic climate bill passes House in a close vote (WASHINGTON, DC) -- By a narrow margin, the House of Representatives on Friday took the first legislative step in U.S. history to reduce the heat-trapping gases building up in the atmosphere and gradually shift America to cleaner sources of energy.

Burns Paiute Tribe First To Go To All Green Lightbulbs (NEVADA) -- How many lightbulbs does it take to change a region’s energy efficiency? Over the next two weeks, workers with the Burns Paiute Tribe will screw in a historic lightbulb.

Tribal Media Campaign Brings Attention to Climate Issues in Wisconsin (WISCONSIN) -- The Forest County Potawatomi Community began a statewide media effort to raise public awareness of the importance of sustaining our natural resources and maintaining clean air, water and land.

Tribe set to sue so bridge will open / CORNWALL CROSSING: Mohawks say closure of international span was done illegally (NEW YORK) -- The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne is going to sue Canadian officials to try to get the Seaway International Bridge reopened. The tribal government on the Canadian side of the Mohawk reservation announced Friday that it plans to take Minister of Public Safety Peter van Loan and Canada Border Service Agency President Stephen Rigby to court to end the stalemate that has had the bridge closed since May 31.

Courts may get involved in bridge debate (NEW YORK) -- Akwesasne leaders want the courts to decide if two Canadian officials illegally closed the Seaway International Bridge. The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, the governmental body on the Canadian side of the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation at Akwesasne, announced Friday it is pursuing action against Minister of Public Safety Peter VanLoan and Stephen Rigby, president of the Canada Border Services Agency.

Survey: Oneida reservation good place to live / Accountability of tribal government voted a top priority (NEW YORK) -- The majority of tribal members responding to a 2008 survey said the Oneida Indian Reservation was a good place to live and thought the most important goal for the tribe is changes to the tribal government.

Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli Announces New Initiative On Tribal Justice In Indian Country (NEW YORK) -- During his address to more than 500 attendees of the National Congress of American Indians’ (NCAI) 2009 Mid-Year Conference today, Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli announced the launch of a new major Justice Department initiative to increase engagement, coordination and action on tribal justice in Indian Country.

More headlines...

Arden speaks & reads at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, CA (15 01 2009)

Wisdomkeepers from Harvey Arden on Vimeo.

Harvey Arden speaks and reads at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, Ca. (Jan. 15th 2009) Mr. Arden reads from his books, 'Travels in a Stone Canoe' and 'Noble Red Man'. In Part 3, Harvey discusses the plight of Native American activist Leonard Peltier, whose book 'Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance', he edited.


Mayan villagers burn Goldcorp mine equipment

'Mayan villagers burn Goldcorp mine equipment'

A group of Mayan Mam villagers set fire to a pickup truck and an exploration drill rig earlier this month at the Marlin gold mine in San Miguel Ixtahuacan municipality, San Marcos, Guatemala. The mine is operated by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, a subsidiary of Canada's Goldcorp Inc. According to Rights Action, Goldcorp had been [...]

You may view the latest post at http://intercontinentalcry.org/maya-villagers-burn-goldcorp-mining-equipment/

Charles Rangel and Cynthia McKinney's support for Mumia civil rights investigation

Former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and current U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel, who is chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, have both released their open letters to US Attorney General Holder, calling for a federal civil rights investigation into the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Actions are being organized throughout the summer to support the campaign for a federal civil rights investigation, including at the upcoming NAACP convention in New York City, July 11-16. Organizers are focusing particularly on July 13, the day that Attorney General Holder will address the convention. Supporters will then be in Washington, D.C., on July 22 to lobby their elected officials and, in mid-September, they’ll return to Washington, D.C., for a major press conference. For more information on how you can support the campaign for a federal civil rights investigation and to sign the online letter and petition to Attorney General Holder, visit: http://freemumia.com/civilrights.html

For more information on the campaign for the civil rights investigation, please read this week's SF Bay View Newspaper article:


Read the open letters from

Charles Rangel: http://freemumia.com/rangel.gif

Cynthia McKinney: http://www.phillyimc.org/en/cynthia-mckinneys-open-letter-attorney-general-holder-re-mumia-abu-jamal

Nebraska Supreme Court ignores COINTELPRO and conflicting police testimony in 'Omaha Two' case

Nebraska Supreme Court ignores COINTELPRO and conflicting police testimony in 'Omaha Two' case
June 19, 2:39 PM

The Nebraska Supreme Court has denied Edward Poindexter a new trial for the 1970 bombing murder of Omaha police officer Larry Minard. Poindexter and co-defendant Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice) were convicted in an April 1971 trial for the ambush murder of Minard.

Unknown to the jury hearing the case, a secret operation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation code-named Operation COINTELPO had targeted Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa because of their role as leaders of Omaha's chapter of the Black Panthers.

When news of the Omaha bombing reached FBI headquarters the director, J. Edgar Hoover, gave orders to withhold a laboratory report of the 911 hotline recording which captured the voice of Minard's killer who lured police to a vacant house where a bomb waited.

A 15 year-old, Duane Peak, would confess to planting the bomb and making the 911 call. However, COINTELRO agents, led by Asst. FBI director William Sullivan, were under orders from Hoover to be "imaginative" in getting the two Panther leaders.

Threats of execution, a lenient sentence, and special conditions in custody brought Peak around to claiming the 'Omaha Two' leaders of the Black Panthers were behind the crime. Dynamite was purportedly found in Mondo's basement and the two men were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The jury would never hear the 911 call and did not know the voice on the recording would one day be tested with sophisticated equipment that ruled out Peak as the caller leaving an unidentified accomplice on the loose.

The 911 recording, kept from the jury, and conflicting dynamite testimony by Omaha Police detectives were key elements of Poindexter's request for a new trial. After deliberating on the request for half a year the Nebraska Supreme Court issued a 22-page decision denying the request without once mentioning COINTELPRO and J. Edgar Hoover's secret order to not issue a lab report.

The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union submitted an amicus brief outlining COINTELPRO and the rigging of other trials against Black Panther members around the nation. The appellate record also contained COINTELPRO documents detailing the targeting of both Poindexter and Mondo we Langa as well as the secret memos to withhold the laboratory report on the 911 recording.

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that "even assuming" the voice of the killer making the 911 call was not that of Duane Peak a new trial was not justified.

"Lt. James Perry, the head of the investigation for the Minard slaying, testified in a 1980 deposition that he was unaware of any request to have the tape tested but that he recalled discussion of the possibility before the police department knew who had made the call. Perry testified that once Peak admitted to making the 911 call, the department considered the tape of that call a relatively worthless piece of evidence."

The conflicting trial and post-trial testimony of detectives Jack Swanson and Robert Pheffer, where they each took turns claiming discovery of dynamite in Mondo we Langa's basement, was dismissed by the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Swanson, who had custody of unaccounted for dynamite in an unrelated case, purportedly found dynamite in the basement, first in a coal bin and later near the furnace. Pheffer, who at trial said he never even went into the basement, would tell an Omaha judge in 2007 that he was the first person down and he found the dynamite not Swanson.

The Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed this crucial conflicting testimony about dynamite with one paragraph out of the 22 page decision and did not mention Pheffer's post-trial version of the dynamite discovery at all.

"At trial, Swanson testified that he found dynamite in Rice's basement and that Pfeffer was also in the basement when the dynamite was found. Pheffer, on the other hand, testified at trial that he never went to the basement and that he did not see the dynamite until Swanson carried it up from the basement. Trial counsel did not spend time exploring who was really in the basement when the dynamite was found, and this was reasonable given that the particulars of who found the dynamite and who was with that person at the time are relatively insignificant."

An appeal to the federal court system is expected. Meanwhile Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa continue to remain in maximum-security cells, imprisoned for a crime they continue to deny any guilt. Duane Peak, the confessed killer, got his deal and served 33 months in juvenile detention before walking free. The unknown 911 caller, who lured Minard to his death, has never been identified and was never charged for the murder.

For more info:

Mumia Abu-Jamal: Journalism in hell


Mumia Abu-Jamal: Journalism in hell
By Mumia Abu-Jamal

While a young reporter for a local NPR affiliate, housing was my beat.

In a city which was the oldest in the United States, there were no shortages of housing issues, for Philadelphia’s housing stock seemed in a permanent state of disrepair, especially in those sections of the city where Blacks, Puerto Ricans, and poor ethnic whites lived.

But which stories shimmer in the rear-view mirror of memory, brighter than the rest?

Although I reported in several sections of the city, many of those have sunk below the ocean of time. An exception was the rent protest by residents of a dwelling in Southwest Philadelphia, a place I drove by for years, but never entered, until it became my job.

The exterior was attractive and distinctive, and set apart from its neighbors by the decorative mouldings and mortar-work which told of another age of its construction, when builders were artisans, who took time not merely to build, but to make the building beautiful.

When I got a call from a contact of the impending strike, I rushed out there and finally entered the building.

The conditions therein made me gasp. Ceilings were dangerously drooping over children’s living quarters, plumbing was backed up, and the general conditions of lack of repair made the building a threat to all of its inhabitants.

As I met with the leaders of the strike, their fury was evident.

When I think back on the story years later, it dawned on me that housing, per se, wasn’t the issue.

Resistance was. That’s what gave the story the meaning, for it represented everyday, working-class people standing up to the injustice of unfair and improper living conditions.

Years later, while in the churning swells of the American House of Pain (prison), this would be my beat.

There are tens of thousands of people in these places, and therefore, tens of thousands of stories.

I have never had a shortage of them.

Sometimes, it’s the cases which brought a man to this place, and more often than not, the procedures by which this occurred.

Like the making of sausages, the American legal process is a messy and ugly thing when one inspects closely.

I’ve written of unjust and improper prosecutions, harrowing brutality, stunning institutional boneheadedness, and cruelty that would curdle milk.

In 1995, I was institutionally sanctioned for “engaging in the business of journalism.” It took years of legal wrangling, including sitting in a courtroom for several weeks, in shackles so tight that one’s ankles were swollen and bleeding, to finally prevail on the principle that the U.S. constitution’s 1st Amendment protected such activity, but it was well worth the battle (the case was: Abu-Jamal v. Price).

For years, writing a story meant, quite literally, writing a story. With an ink pen. On a legal pad. Sometimes with a 4-inch long flex-pen (this is a pen which has in inner tube of an ink pen, but the shaft is composed of see-through rubber, with a rubber cap at both ends, one allowing the 1/2–centimeter tip to protrude). It has been likened to writing with a wet noodle. Two of my books were written with these instruments, and then sent out to be typed by friends or editors.

The computer age has not yet dawned on the prison system (at least in Pennsylvania). I am often amused when I receive letters from people, who include, quite innocently and helpfully, their e-mail addresses, or their websites. For it tells me that they actually think I have a computer—here—in the cell, or perhaps computer (or web) access.


Not only are there no PCs in here; there are no Ipods, no CDs, no cassette tapes! (even though cassette-ready tape players are for sale in the prison commissary!).

We are, for all intents and purposes, dinosaurs, who live in another age, at another warp and woof of time, from the millions who dwell without.

Recently, a man named Amin (Harold Wilson) who won a retrial and acquittal from several unjust murder convictions, was ordered released after almost 2 decades on death row. He left the county prison in Philadelphia, with all his earthly possessions in a trash bag, and a bus token. A local country prisoner, a Puerto Rican brother, released at the same time, saw the look of loss on his face, and offered him his cell phone. Amin squinted at the machine, tiny in his fist, and asked, “What do I do with this?” He had absolutely no idea how to operate this strange thing, for he had never seen nor held one before.

He later told me “My it looked like something straight outta Star Trek!”

Sometimes, stories come, unbidden, and unwanted.

Several months ago, a funny and well-liked jailhouse lawyer on the Row, named Bill Tilley, tired from his years of butting his head against the grey, judicial walls, and fearful that his emergent health problems were a prelude to cancer, got up early in the morning, used his laces from his sneakers, and fashioned a noose, by threading them through the steel grate mesh of the air-vents into the cell.

He hung himself.

After his passing, the scuttlebutt was that he did indeed have cancer, but medical staff did not disclose this fact, for, as a death row prisoner, the state wouldn’t waste money on such a patient who was going to die anyway.

Several weeks before his death, Tilley confided to a few friends that he suspected it was cancer, given the severity of his symptoms, but whether it was, or not, it was so painful that he remarked, “I don’t ever—ever—wanna go through that again!”

What we didn’t know was that he was telling us, in the only way he could, of his suicide plans, back then. Perhaps he was saying, in so many words, that he didn’t fear death, but did fear pain.

His death took place less than 35 feet from the cell door in which these words are written. I broke the story. But it gave me no pleasure.

There are tens of thousands of stories in this House of Pain, and I have written hundreds of them.

This is my hidden beat, one that even the most intrepid of journalists cannot enter.

Yet, it is my beat.

And I intend to do this job with the same thoroughness, the same professionalism, as I did in days of yon.

For, though this is a hidden world, one not seen by millions, it is, too, a public world, for it is bought and paid for with the tax dollars of the citizenry.

Shouldn’t they know what their investments have purchased?

Several times a month, in written form, or otherwise (as in books of commentaries) I offer this service, to the best of my ability.

I fight against being here, but I am here. And while here, the beat goes on.

Mumia Abu-Jamal wrote this article for Reporters Without Borders on May 23 from his prison cell on death row in Pennsylvania.

Annual Fast and Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty - DC

Annual Fast and Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty - DC

June 29 - July 2, 2009, All day and into the evening, each day
U.S. Supreme Court Steps

"Starvin, for Justice '09" is the 16th Annual Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty at the US Supreme Court. The event is a four day vigil maintaining a presence at SCOTUS, the Supreme Court Of The United States. Some of the participants fast during this time, but fasting is not required. We encounter thousands of visitors to the Court and share our message that no matter how you slice it, the death penalty is BAD PUBLIC POLICY. Much of the time is spent talking to individuals and creating visibilty. Several larger events are held at key times during the event to highlight specific concerns, with a series of speakers each evening to educate, enlighten and entertain.

The who participate in the full event arrive on June 28th and depart on July 3rd. June 29 and July 2 are anniversaries of key death penalty decisions:

June 29th is the anniversary of the Furman v. Georgia decision in 1972, in which the U.S. Supreme Court found the death penalty to be arbitrary and capricious. More than 600 condemned inmates had their death sentences reduced to life. All states were required to re-write their death penalty laws.

July 2nd is the anniversary of the Gregg v. Georgia decision in 1976 which allowed the resumption of executions in the United States.

Get more information at

IPF Auction Now Until July 5


to raise funds for KOLA / IPF
so we can continue our campaigns

to raise funds for the LPDOC
(Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee)

to raise funds for Tomorrow4Isibani
in South Africa

Place your bid now!


Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Bureau Of Prisons’ Failure To Properly Implement The Second Chance Act Of 2007

The Bureau Of Prisons’ Failure To Properly Implement The Second Chance Act Of 2007
Have They Become Too Autonomous?

A Position Paper from The MPM Group, Inc.

As of this writing, there are approximately 200,000 people being confined by the United States Bureau of Prisons (BOP), a component of the Department of Justice (DoJ). Their offenses span the spectrum from high treason, terrorism, or murder - to the more mundane like poaching deer on federal land. Interestingly, official government records will confirm that a majority of federal inmates are non-violent and non-weapon offenders that are incarcerated for comparatively low security violations, minor drug offenses, or white-collar related offenses. Nonetheless, the debate rages on how to reduce the federal prison population and, in turn, reduce the $5.53 billion (yes, that’s a “B”) BOP budget that was approved for fiscal year (FY) 2009.

In an effort to facilitate a federal inmate’s return to society, reduce inmate recidivism, and bring the federal prison population to manageable levels, U.S. Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced House Resolution 1593 (H.R. 1593) in 2007. It was signed by President Bush, became Public Law 110-199 on April 9, 2008, and it became known as The 2nd Chance Act of 2007. In addition to its many Sections offering funding mechanisms for inmate re-entry programs, The 2nd Chance Act also increased a federal inmate’s previous 6-month maximum allowed in a Residential Re-entry Center (RRC), commonly referred to as a Halfway House, to a maximum of 12-months. The thought of course being, it would immediately reduce federal prison levels by allowing worthy non-violent offenders an opportunity to return to society, become gainfully employed, start paying income taxes, begin paying restitution to any victims, and most importantly, start supporting their own families. However, despite the intent of The 2nd Chance Act of 2007, and the logic that accompanied it, the BOP has again apparently decided to “implement” this very worthwhile Congressional mandate in the same cavalier manner that they handle most of the other ineffectual political or judicial attempts to “dictate policy” to BOP upper management - they simply ignore it. Consequently, prison populations are still increasing and American taxpayers continue to fund the $25,000 to $35,000 annual fee it reportedly requires to house each federal inmate.

How did we get to where we are today? Arguably, it was precipitated by the knee-jerk reaction of a few elected officials in their politically motivated, albeit failed, attempt to address the rise in violent drug related crimes that were proliferating our city streets during an election year. (Why does the rush to pass The Patriot Act come to mind?) As a direct result, The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 and The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 (the Acts) overhauled the federal sentencing system and revised bail and forfeiture procedures along with other federal practices. They also abolished federal parole and mandated minimum-mandatory sentences for any federal offense. Consequently, this political faux pas took all sentencing discretion away from federal judges and began filling our federal prison system with a majority of non-violent offenders with no possible way for them to be prematurely released. Indeed, federal defendants could (and still can) be assured that they would serve at least 85% of any sentence they received - no matter how innocuous their offense might have been. Furthermore, should one consider that more than 94% of all infrastructure labor support (repair, landscaping, maintenance, kitchen, etc.) at BOP facilities is conducted by federal inmates, why would the BOP be in any hurry to release their 12-cents an hour labor force or tamper with their revenue generating UNICOR business interests? It might also explain why they refuse to honor the Congressionally mandated “good-time” provision for federal inmates and continue to drag that issue through the federal courts. We would suggest that you don’t have to be a Wharton School graduate to conclude that the BOP currently enjoys the luxury of having a very large number of ” not-so-bad” bad guys doing the lion’s share of the work required to incarcerate a much smaller number of “truly-bad” bad guys.

From 1984 until today, the BOP has been demonstrating what can only be described as a consistent and conscious attempt to move farther and farther away from any accountability to Congress, federal judges, or anyone else for that matter. Initially supported by elected officials (who always seem to be working on their re-election), coupled with the oft-times well-deserved national hysteria of crime victims, the BOP has been allowed to create their own little fiefdom within the DoJ and now appear to be enjoying unprecedented powers and an autonomy or an “institutional arrogance,” if you will, that has heretofore been reserved for the likes of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who coincidentally, also happen to be a component of the DoJ.

Although pretty much “neutered” in sentencing matters by the Acts of 1984, some federal judges mistakenly believed that they remained sacrosanct in their own courtrooms. In fact, some even had the temerity to suggest that judicial recommendations to the BOP on defendant designations, rehabilitation treatments, and other issues delineated within the court’s Judgment & Commitment Orders should be honored. Several subsequent cases to include the First Circuit case, United States v. Dennis Guerette (District of Maine Docket CR-03-95-B-W) nipped that presumptuous thought in the bud,

”…..[d]ecisions to place a convicted defendant within a particular treatment program or a particular facility are decisions within the sole discretion of the Bureau of Prisons. United States v. Melendez, 279 F.3d 16, 18 (1st Cir. 2002) (per curiam), cert. denied, 535 U.S. 1120 (2002) (quoting Thye v. United States, 109 F.3d 127, 130 (2d Cir. 1997)). A sentencing court’s recommendation to the BOP is both “non-binding” and “non-reviewable and its failure to recommend is similarly ‘non-appealable.’ Id”

In these days of economic uncertainty and Congressional oversight into anything with a financial pulse, one can only imagine how far “below-the-radar” the BOP must be operating - or are they? Notwithstanding various credible and well-publicized allegations, multiple state/federal investigations, and subsequent contracting fraud indictments targeting various business associates, Keefe Group of St. Louis has consistently been awarded the extremely lucrative contract within the BOP to supply food stuffs to all the BOP prison commissaries throughout the United States. Contracts that stand to earn several million dollars in annual profits, yet when questioned about these well-documented contracting improprieties or, at the minimum, the appearance of an egregious conflict-of-interest, the consistently unflappable BOP continues business as usual. Interestingly, the same reaction they have when asked to explain why they charge indigent federal inmates and/or their families more than seven times the average cost of a telephone call from a federal penal facility. A long distance telephone service contract that is being awarded with about the same transparency as the Keefe Group contract. Little wonder why BOP Correctional Officers can find more cell phones in a minimum-security federal prison camp than a college sorority house.

Speaking of bidding on contracts, how about the even more lucrative BOP medications contracts that have been consistently awarded to McKesson Corporation. A company that has been investigated by both the Department of Justice (various U.S. Attorneys Offices) as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration, eventually leading to some high-ranking executives being federally indicted. In fact, one May 2008, incident in the District of Maryland required McKesson to pay the government a $13-million dollar fine for among other things, “…allegations that it violated federal reporting provisions relating to the sale of certain prescription medications.” Sounds suspiciously like an articulate way of saying they were “selling dope.” In any event, such minor indiscretions never dissuaded the BOP contracting officers from continuing to award extremely lucrative contracts for McKesson to provide “generic” medications for federal inmates and do so even while these various federal investigations were still being conducted. Due to limited space here, we won’t even open the “Pandora’s Box” of BOP Government Purchase Orders (GPO) - Duraskin Gloves from Indonesia, T-shirts from Pakistan, Hypard products from China, Gildan merchandise from Honduras, cloth and other products from Vietnam and Mexico. Are we, as American taxpayers, to understand that our American factory workers are incapable of manufacturing a single item that the BOP can use or does the BOP simply not have any credible government contract oversight? Indeed, any oversight at all?

In addition to these head-scratchers, should the opportunity ever present itself, we would certainly make ourselves available to discuss the mass removal of heretofore well-qualified contract medical officers from the BOP, many of whom were replaced by much lower paid graduates from “lesser known” medical schools and, in some cases, even replaced by Physician’s Assistants (PA) and/or Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). The recent and arbitrary discontinuation of any kind of medically acceptable and/or effective pain medication from the BOP Formulary - replacing them exclusively with Gabapentin (Neurotin). The infamous and well-traveled BOP “spider” that has apparently bit every BOP inmate that has ever contracted MRSA inside a BOP facility, the recent unexplained deaths of incarcerated inmates in West Virginia and Texas from something other than prison violence, the recent riots in Texas BOP facilities. Lastly, of specific interest to us would be a detailed BOP senior management accountability of revenues generated by the BOP from reduced/unpaid inmate salaries, inmate TRULINC and copier fees, re-cycling contracts, UNICOR profits, inmate commissary and long distance telephone profits, monies saved from “low-bid” food purchases - all the while failing to backfill several vacant positions causing the understaffing of the more violent BOP facilities thus, exposing the remaining overworked and underpaid Correctional Officers to more than usual violence that is usually encountered in those specific facilities. The list of “Talking Points” could go on and on, but we have limited time/space and we digress. Therefore, back to The 2nd Chance Act of 2007.

In order to comply with implementation requirements set forth in The 2nd Chance Act language, Federal Register, Volume 73, No. 204, pp. 62440-62443, the BOP set forth their policy to implement The 2nd Chance Act of 2007. Of specific interest was Section 570.21, wherein the BOP delineated the maximum of 12-months of RRC time a federal inmate was permitted under the Act. However, even a cursory review of the policy will confirm the BOP’s usual practice of leaving enough policy “wiggle room” that the benefits afforded by the Act can neither be implemented uniformly throughout the BOP nor can the BOP ever be held legally accountable for their failure to do so. Indeed, as one Washington insider once opined about a similar situation, “It was one of those Washington assertions that is simultaneously accurate and deceptive and just confusing enough to defy opposition.” Resultantly, every Warden and/or every Regional Director within the BOP would now appear to have the unilateral authority to dictate how much Halfway House time an inmate in their facility should receive. Consequently, you have inmates receiving 10-months in one facility and another more deserving candidate receiving less than 3-months in another. We would respectfully suggest that this type of “selective” policy implementation was not what Congressman Davis intended when he drafted the Act in 2007.

That said, nobody can argue that the BOP rank and file do an outstanding job in a dangerous and thankless job. Indeed, given the nature of the mission and the type of dangerous individuals involved, the federal penal system is unquestionably one of the best in the world. Best selling author John Grisham confirmed as much when he suggested in his best selling novel The Brethren, “If you have to do time - do federal time.” However, notwithstanding our admiration for the work of the BOP correctional cadre, we will continue to encourage debate about the wisdom of our elected officials passing laws or policies and then delegating the authority to implement (and adhere to) that policy to the very agency management officials that the policies are designed to govern. Indeed, after The Patriot Act was passed, FBI agents, as well as other government entities, were admittedly monitoring privileged electronic communications and throwing around National Security Letters and Administrative Subpoenas with little (actually, none whatsoever) regard for the “spirit-of-the-Act” or individual civil rights. Today, with the BOP and The Second Chance Act of 2007, “It’s Déjà Vu all over again.” Even last ditch Congressional inquiries from family members, friends, or lawyers are usually being handled by the lowest ranking aide in the Congressman’s office and done so usually as a vexatious collateral duty. This 20-something intern will no doubt get a response back from a well-versed and politically savvy BOP Congressional liaison who appeases them (and their inexperience) with a some type of in-the-can generic form letter or email response marked “High Priority,” “Sensitive,” or some other impressive heading, yet lacks any semblance of a meaningful response to the initial question.

Should we point fingers, the BOP’s ability to develop such unprecedented (and apparently unchecked) power can partially fall directly on the shoulders of certain federal inmates who were “amused to abuse” the legal process by filing repeated and frivolous complaints and/or torts claims. Conduct that eventually facilitated the strict implementation of both the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) and the Federal Tort Claim Act (FTCA). As a result, every inmate is now relegated to filing everything through the labor intensive and intentionally time consuming BOP Administrative Remedy Process. Unfortunately, despite the purpose of this Process, it would appear that BOP management has now, yet not surprisingly, developed the Administrative Remedy Process into their own self-managed and personally supervised shell game to hide and delay formal responses to inmates - or any other outside inquiries for that matter. In fact, they have turned it into an art form and, wait for it, there is no appeal, other than filing another tort claim. We know, George Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up.

In conclusion, how do we properly and uniformly implement The 2nd Chance Act of 2007, and do so in the spirit for which it was developed? Actually, it’s relatively simple, we need to develop an outside oversight committee for the BOP. A group of individuals that are tasked and empowered with the authority to ensure that BOP senior management properly runs this massive government “cash cow” and does so in full and transparent compliance with Congressional and judicial mandates. Has anyone on Capitol Hill ever read Lord Acton?

However, as comedian Dennis Miller would say, “This is just our opinion, we may be wrong.”

The MPM Group, Inc. are nationally recognized and court adjudicated experts in complex litigation support, sentence mitigation issues, and federal prison advocacy isues. They can be reached at www.TheMPMGroup.com.

Destroying Indigenous Populations

Destroying Indigenous Populations
by Dahr Jamail
June 22nd, 2009 T r u t h o u t

The Fort Laramie Treaty once guaranteed the Sioux Nation the right to a large area of their original land, which spanned several states and included their sacred Black Hills, where they were to have “the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation” of the land.

However, when gold was discovered in the Black Hills, President Ulysses S. Grant told the army to look the other way in order to allow gold miners to enter the territory. After repeated violations of the exclusive rights to the land by gold prospectors and by migrant workers crossing the reservation borders, the US government seized the Black Hills land in 1877.

Charmaine White Face, an Oglala Tetuwan who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation, is the spokesperson for the Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council (TSNTC), established in 1893 to uphold the terms of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. She is also coordinator of the voluntary group, Defenders of the Black Hills, that works to preserve and protect the environment where they live.

“We call gold the metal which makes men crazy,” White Face told Truthout while in New York to attend the annual Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations in late May. “Knowing they could not conquer us like they wanted to … because when you are fighting for your life, or the life of your family, you will do anything you can … or fighting for someplace sacred like the Black Hills you will do whatever you can … so they had to put us in prisoner of war camps. I come from POW camp 344, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. We want our treaties upheld, we want our land back.”

Most of the Sioux’s land has been taken, and what remains has been laid waste by radioactive pollution.

“Nothing grows in these areas - nothing can grow. They are too radioactive,” White Face said.

Although the Black Hills and adjoining areas are sacred to the indigenous peoples and nations of the region, their attempts at reclamation are not based on religious claims but on the provisions of the Constitution. The occupation of indigenous land by the US government is in direct violation of its own law, according to White Face.

She references Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

The spokesperson for the TSNTC declares, “We need our treaty upheld. We want it back. Without it we are disappearing. They might have made us into brown Americans who speak the English language and eat a different kind of food, and are not able to live with the buffalo like we are supposed to, but that is like a lion in a cage. You can feed it and it will reproduce, but it is only a real lion when it gets its freedom and can be who it’s supposed to be. That’s how we are. We are like that lion in a cage. We are not free right now. We need to be able to govern ourselves the way we did before.”

Delegations from the TSNTC began their efforts in the United Nations in 1984 after exhausting all strategies for solution within the United States.

Homeland Contamination

There is uranium all around the Black Hills, South and North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. Mining companies came in and dug large holes through these lands to extract uranium in the 1950’s and 1960’s prior to any prohibitive regulations. Abandoned uranium mines in southwestern South Dakota number 142. In the Cave Hills area, another sacred place in South Dakota used for vision quests and burial sites, there are 89 abandoned uranium mines.

In an essay called “Native North America: The Political Economy of Radioactive Colonialism,” political activists Ward Churchill and Winona LaDuke state that former US President Richard Nixon declared the 1868 Treaty Territory a “National Sacrifice Area,” implying that the territory, and its people, were being sacrificed to uranium and nuclear radiation.

The worst part, according to White Face, is that, “None of these abandoned mines have been marked. They never filled them up, they never capped them. There are no warning signs … nothing. The Forest Service even advertises the Picnic Springs Campground as a tourist place. It’s about a mile away from the Cave Hills uranium mines.”

The region is honeycombed with exploratory wells that have been dug as far down as six to eight hundred feet. In the southwestern Black Hills area, there are more than 4,000 uranium exploratory wells. On the Wyoming side of the Black Hills, there are 3,000 wells. Further north into North Dakota, there are more than a thousand wells.

The Black Hills and its surroundings are the recharge area for several major aquifers in the South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming regions. The crisis can be gauged from the simple description that White Face gives: “When the winds come, they pick up the [uranium] dust and carry it; when it rains or snows, it washes it down into the aquifers and groundwater. Much of this radioactive contamination then finds its way into the Missouri River.”

She informs us that twelve residents out of about 600 of the sparsely populated county of Cave Hills have developed brain tumors. A nuclear physicist has declared one mine in the area to be as radioactively “hot” as ground zero of Hiroshima.

Red Shirt, a village along the Cheyenne River on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, has had its water tested high for radiation and local animals have died after consuming fish from the river.

After three daughters of a family and their mother died of cancer, a family requested White Face to have the municipal water tested. The radiation levels were found to be equal to those inside an x-ray machine. Little wonder then that the surviving sons and their father are afflicted with the disease. People procuring their grain and cattle from the region are advised to be extra cautious.

One cannot but feel the desperation of her people when White Face bemoans, “It’s pure genocide for us. We are all dying from cancer. We are trying not to become extinct, not to let the Great Sioux Nation become extinct.”

The Ogala Sioux are engaged in ongoing legal battles with the pro-uranium state of South Dakota. They are aware of the unequal nature of their battle, but they cannot afford to give up. White Face explains how “… Our last court case was lost before learning that the judge was a former lawyer for one of the mining companies. Also, the governor’s sister and brother-in-law work for mining companies [Powertech] and a professor, hired by the Forest Service to test water run-off for contamination, is on contract with a company that works for the mining company. When I found out the judge was a lawyer for the mining company I knew we would lose, but we went ahead with the case for the publicity, because we have to keep waking people up.”

Other tribes, such as the Navajo and Hopi in New Mexico, have been exposed to radioactive material as well. Furthermore, the July 16, 1979, spill of 100 million gallons of radioactive water containing uranium tailings from a tailing pond into the north arm of the Rio Puerco, near the small town of Church Rock, New Mexico, also affected indigenous peoples in Arizona.

Her rage and grief are evident as White Face laments, “When we have our prayer gatherings we ask that no young people come to attend. If you want to have children don’t come to Cave Hills because it’s too radioactive.”

The exploitative approach to the planet’s resources and peoples that led to these environmental and health disasters collides with White Face’s values: “I always say that you have to learn to live with the earth, and not in domination of the earth.”

Nuking the Colonies

The US government practices another approach. In occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, the uranium that has caused genocide of sorts at home has proceeded to wreak new havoc.

Two Iraqi NGO’s, the Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq (MHRI) and the Conservation Center of Environment and Reserves in Fallujah (CCERF) have extensively documented the effects of restricted weapons, such as depleted uranium (DU) munitions, against the people of Fallujah during two massive US military assaults on the city in 2004.

In March 2008, the NGO’s were to present a report titled “Prohibited Weapons Crisis: The effects of pollution on the public health in Fallujah” to the 7th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Muhammad al-Darraji, director, MHRI and president, CCERF, was to present the report with an appeal, “We are kindly asking the High Commissioner for Human Rights to look at the content of the report in accordance with the General Assembly’s resolution 48/ 141 (paragraph 4) of 20 December 1993, to investigate the serious threat (to the) health right in Fallujah and Iraq, and to relay the results of this investigation to the Commission on Human Rights to take the suitable decisions.”

Attached to the aforementioned is another report co-authored by Dr. Najim Askouri, a nuclear physicist trained in Britain and a leading Iraqi nuclear researcher and Dr. Assad al-Janabi, director of the Pathology Department at the 400-bed public hospital in Najaf. Their report includes a section on the “Depleted Uranium Crisis” from Najaf, 180 miles from where DU was used in the First Gulf War.

Dr. Najim begins the report by noting that Coalition Forces, mostly US, used 350 tons of DU weapons in about 45 days in 1991, primarily in the stretch of Iraq northwest of Kuwait where Iraqi troops were on their retreat. Then, in 2003, during the Shock and Awe bombing of Baghdad, the US used another 150 tons of DU. He says that cancer is spreading from the conflict area as a health epidemic and will only get worse. The cancer rate has more than tripled over the last 16 years in Najaf.

According to Dr. Najim, “When DU hits a target, it aerosolizes and oxidizes, forming a uranium oxide that is two parts UO3 and one part UO2. The first is water soluble and filters down into the water aquifers and also becomes part of the food chain as plants take up the UO3 dissolved in water. The UO2 is insoluble and settles as dust on the surface of the earth and is blown by the winds to other locations. As aerosolized dust, it can enter the lungs and begin to cause problems as it can cross cell walls and even impact the genetic system.”

One of Dr. Najim’s grandsons was born with congenital heart problems, Down Syndrome, an underdeveloped liver and leukemia. He believes that the problems are related to the child’s parents having been exposed to DU.

Detailing a skyrocketing rate of cancer and other pollution-related illnesses among the population of Fallujah since the two sieges, the report states, “Starting in 2004 when the political situation and devastation of the health care infrastructure were at their worst, there were 251 reported cases of cancer. By 2006, when the numbers more accurately reflected the real situation, that figure had risen to 688. Already in 2007, 801 cancer cases have been reported. Those figures portray an incidence rate of 28.21 [per 100,000] by 2006, even after screening out cases that came into the Najaf Hospital from outside the governorate, a number which contrasts with the normal rate of 8-12 cases of cancer per 100,000 people.

“Two observations are striking. One, there has been a dramatic increase in the cancers that are related to radiation exposure, especially the very rare soft tissue sarcoma and leukemia. Two, the age at which cancer begins in an individual has been dropping rapidly, with incidents of breast cancer at 16 (years of age), colon cancer at 8 (years of age), and liposarcoma at 1.5 years (of age).” Dr. Assad noted that 6 percent of the cancers reported occurred in the 11-20 age range and another 18 percent in ages 21-30.

“The importance of this information confirms there is a big disaster in this city…. The main civilian victims of most illnesses were the children, and the rate of them represents 72 percent of total illness cases of 2006, most of them between the ages of 1 month and 12 years…. Many new types and terrible amounts of illnesses started to appear [from] 2006 until now, such as Congenital Spinal cord abnormalities, Congenital Renal abnormalities, Septicemia, Meningitis, Thalassemia, as well as a significant number of undiagnosed cases at different ages. The speed of the appearance these signals of pollution after one year of military operations refers to the use of a great amount of prohibited weapons used in 2004 battles. The continued pollution maybe will lead to a genetic drift, starting to appear with many abnormalities in children, because the problems were related to exposure of the child’s parents to pollution sources and this may lead to more new abnormalities in the f uture. According to the security situation with many checkpoints and irregular cards to allow the civilians to enter or exit the city until now, all this helps to continue the terrible situation for this time. Therefore, we think that all these data is only 50 percent of the real numbers of illnesses.”

The Sioux tell their youth to avoid their radioactive native lands if they wish to procreate and prosper. Those in Iraq have no option but to lead maimed lives in their native land.

On February 4, 2009, Muhammad al-Darraji sent President Barack Obama a letter, along with the aforementioned report. A few excerpts are presented here:

“We have the honor to submit with this letter our report on the effects on public health of prohibited weapons used by the United States during its military operations in Fallujah (March-November 2004). It was our intention to present the report to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations on 4 March 2008, but both security and political reasons played a significant role in making this task impossible. The report, now in your hands, contains vast evidence and documentation on the catastrophic and continuous pollution in Iraq (to prevent) which nobody has taken any real action to help the victims or clean up polluted places. Some months ago, and in June 2008, I sent this report directly to some US congressmen. Two of them went to my town, Fallujah, and visited the general hospital to investigate the claims contained in our report. No substantial result came out of this visit. In February 2009 one of my colleagues, who worked in the hospital’s statistical office and helped gather information about the pollution, was killed by unknown individuals. The blood of my friend is the driving force that led me to write to you directly in order for you to release the facts for which my friend paid with his life. Therefore, we are kindly asking you to look at the content of the attached report and to investigate the serious threats to the right to life of the inhabitants of Fallujah and other polluted places in Iraq, as well as to publicly release the results of this investigation under right of information about what really happened in Iraq.”

The president has yet to respond.

Jason Coppola and Bhaswati Sengupta contributed to this article.

Court rules for defendants on crime lab reports

Court rules for defendants on crime lab reports

The Associated Press
Thursday, June 25, 2009 12:58 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court said Thursday that criminal defendants have a constitutional right to cross-examine the forensic analysts who prepare laboratory reports on illegal drugs and other evidence used at trial.

The court ruled 5-4 for a defendant who was convicted of cocaine trafficking, partly because of crime lab analysis.

Luis Melendez-Diaz challenged lab analysis that confirmed cocaine was in plastic bags found in the car he was riding in. Rather than accept the report, Melendez-Diaz said he should be allowed to question the lab analyst about testing methods, how the evidence was preserved and other issues.

Massachusetts courts rejected his arguments.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the high court, said Melendez-Diaz has a constitutional right to confront the lab analyst.

Many states had argued that drug prosecutions would be slowed significantly if prosecutors had to make lab analysts available on a routine basis. Crime labs analyzed 1.9 million substances in following drug arrests in 2006, according to a court filing by 35 states.

About 20 states, including California, do give defendants some right to cross-examine lab employees about forensic evidence.

"Perhaps the best indication that the sky will not fall after today's decision is that it has not done so already," Scalia said. Many defense lawyers and their clients would just as soon not call added attention to evidence, he said.

But in dissent, Justice Anthony Kennedy said Scalia misunderstood how criminal trials work.

He predicted that criminal defense lawyers will accept the risk that the testimony will prove even more damaging to their clients on the chance the analyst isn't available to testify "and the government's case collapses."

The case produced unusual alliances. Scalia attracted the votes of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter, John Paul Stevens and Clarence Thomas.

Joining Kennedy in dissent were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Stephen Breyer.

The case is Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 07-591.

Mobilizing the international community

Mobilizing the international community
Originally printed at

Contemporary indigenous rights are heavily dependent on international support. Over the past decades, indigenous groups have worked hard to bring their human rights and indigenous issues before the United Nations and international community. When national and international communities understand the history and context of indigenous land, political and human rights there is often good support.

Recent events in Peru illustrate the type of conflict over land, consultation, and differences in perspective that confront indigenous peoples throughout the world. Over the past several years in Peru, the government pressed ahead with measures to promote quick oil and gas development covering 70 percent of the Peruvian Amazon. Nine special bills were passed by the Peruvian Congress, some that set aside the Peruvian Constitution, and were designed to speed up oil and gas development and facilitate the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. The kinds of issues the Peruvian indigenous peoples were exposed to are found almost everywhere there are indigenous peoples.

The new fast development plan, however, did not include consultation with the indigenous peoples of Peru. Indigenous peoples of the Amazon did not oppose the development of oil and gas in their region, but wanted to have access to planning and decision making. The Peruvian indigenous peoples wanted development in a way that preserved their claims to land, respected their culture, and which benefitted their future generations and ensured the continuity of their communities.

For the past 80 days, a coalition of indigenous Peruvian Amazonian peoples created a blockade that stopped transportation and commerce in the region. On June 5, the Peruvian government sent troops to clear protesters, and violence erupted where both policemen and indigenous protesters were killed, and many wounded in the conflict. The deaths reached the attention of the Peruvian national press and the international community. On June 11, national protests in support of the indigenous position were held in the major cities of Peru. Many human rights organizations and environmental groups that work in the Amazon alerted the international community and press, and there was a large outpouring of support for the indigenous protestors.

Last week the Peruvian Congress voted to suspend two of the nine measures for rapid oil and gas development, and the Peruvian government decided to initiate negotiations. The leaders of the Peruvian indigenous organizations hailed the change in government policy as a landmark day, and hoped that in the future the government will listen to the voice of indigenous communities and “not legislate behind their backs.”

While the Peruvian Congress and government have the sharp focus of the national and international community upon their actions, the government was willing to make some concessions, which was the 90-day suspension of two acts that were already marked as violating the Peruvian Constitution. The indigenous peoples need full rescinding of the two acts and full discussion about the remaining seven Peruvian Congressional Acts that are still on the books.

During the crisis, the indigenous organizations and communities showed Peruvian national identity and loyalty to the country of Peru. Indigenous leaders lamented the deaths of the police officers, who were fellow citizens. The indigenous peoples were not arguing for separation from the people or state of Peru, but wanted their voices respected, their lands preserved, and their way of life and future as indigenous peoples sustained and recognized through government action and legislation.

The temporary suspension of two doubtful measures is designed to introduce a cooling off period. Now, the Peruvian government and indigenous communities and organizations need to develop a dialogue, one that should have existed already for many years. There are no guarantees that the Peruvian government will accommodate indigenous cultural, territorial and political needs.

The kinds of issues the Peruvian indigenous peoples were exposed to are found almost everywhere there are indigenous peoples. In the past, national governments did not have any checks on the power that was exerted over indigenous human rights, culture and political autonomy. The international civil society has emerged as a place for discussion of indigenous rights, but takes action on a crisis by crisis basis. It has been very difficult for indigenous communities to establish ongoing and institutionalized consensual discussions over issues and rights. The international community should turn its attention to establishing ongoing national and international dialogues over recognition of indigenous peoples and discussions of their rights.