Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Children assaulted in adult prison

It's not uncommon for boys and girls in the juvenile justice system to be placed in facilities near adults, subjecting them to both physical and sexual assaults. That’s why Congress needs to strengthen the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), a bill that has improved standards for juvenile justice systems around the country, reducing the number of youth who end up in adult prisons.

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act will help prevent youth from being jailed with adults and improve juvenile justice systems around the country. Join us in asking Congress to pass the bill.

Sign here.


Sioux chef revives Native American tastes of yesteryear

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Even with the door closed, the sweet smell of blueberries, sage and tender cuts of buffalo permeated the halls of a downtown Minneapolis building. Chef Sean Sherman lingered behind a stove, his hands slow and steady as he drizzled sunflower oil into a hot pan.

“I like to think, What if I was here 300 years ago?” he said, scanning the faces of a group of Native American youths. “What would I eat?”

That question was not only at the heart of a recent reality cooking show filmed for a local nonprofit; it’s also the impetus behind an ambitious restaurant concept Sherman first envisioned seven years ago when he started research to write a Lakota cookbook.

An Oglala Lakota who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in western South Dakota, he was startled by the lack of information on indigenous diets or even opportunities to visit successful Native restaurants.

“I had no idea,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t just fry bread. I knew Native food was a lot more than that.”


The Washington Redskins' Nightmare Season Just Ended in the Perfect Way

It's been a rocky year for Dan Snyder.

As the Washington Redskins put the final touches on a truly embarrassing season on Sunday, the team owner saw his franchise beset by one of the largest demonstrations to ever take place at its home stadium.

The subject was the team name. According to the Washington Post, more than 100 indigenous activists and allies gathered outside FedEx Field to protest the organization's use of a racial slur as its avatar and moniker.
"We are people," the crowd reportedly chanted, "not your mascots."



10 Ways Human Rights and Democracy Won in 2014

In 2014, we saw a lot of brutality. Unarmed black men and women were killed by police, women were raped on college campuses and in military barracks, foreign nationals were tortured, and young and mentally ill Americans were confined for extended periods in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons.It was a violent year, but no worse than other years. What was different was the emergence of new movements of resistance—and with them new possibilities for change.


New Year’s Eve Protests Set To Shut Down Major Cities Across America

To cap off a year marked by race-based, anti-police demonstrations, a number of activist groups are banding together in an effort to stage significant protests in multiple cities this New Year’s Eve. One New York-based organization is taking the lead by organizing an event in that city scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. at Union Square and continue on to Times Square in time for the New Year countdown.
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has invited nearly 4,000 individuals to attend what it is calling “Rock in the New Year with Resistance to Police Murder” and is encouraging other groups across the U.S. to stage similar protests.

Palestinians Move to Join International Criminal Court, Defying Israeli and U.S. Warnings

JERUSALEM — President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority signed papers Wednesday to join the International Criminal Court, a provocative move that could lead to the prosecution of Israeli officials on charges of war crimes and risks severe sanctions from Washington and Jerusalem.
The defiant step came a day after the defeat of a United Nations Security Council resolution that demanded an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory by 2017. It was billed as part of a strategic shift by the Palestinian leadership to pursue statehood in the international arena after decades of failed American-brokered negotiations with Israel.
“There is aggression practiced against our land and our country, and the Security Council has let us down — where shall we go?” Mr. Abbas said at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, as he signed the Rome Statute, the founding charter of the court, as well as 17 other international treaties and conventions.
“We want to complain to this organization,” he said of the court. “As long as there is no peace, and the world doesn’t prioritize peace in this region, this region will live in constant conflict. The Palestinian cause is the key issue to be settled.”

Inmate Improv

DETROIT — ONE of the members of our improv workshop, a baby-faced man in his 30s, made up a rule: The last person to arrive has to do a cartwheel. A shaggy-haired man with creaky knees manages a groaning little hop, while another wheels like a shot of light. In this fluorescent-lit classroom at the Macomb Correctional Facility in Michigan, it’s the willingness to take a risk that counts.
For three years, my friend Matt Erickson and I have led the improv theater workshop, sponsored by the University of Michigan’s Prison Creative Arts Project, at this medium-security state prison 30 miles outside Detroit. Improv is about freedom, and so there is a built-in challenge — and deep irony — in attempting to practice it in a prison.
On Thursday evenings, Matt and I sign in at the prison and then move through “the bubble” — a white room containing a metal detector, where we show identification, remove our shoes and are patted down by a corrections officer. We hook P.P.D.s — personal protection devices — into our pockets. The beige contraptions have a pin to pull in emergencies. We’ve never needed them, though once, during a game of “freeze,” the P.P.D. fell out of my pocket and went off when it hit the ground. Officers rushed to my aid and then rolled their eyes when I explained what had happened.
For an hour and a half, we guide our participants in games that prompt unscripted collaboration and play. We transport ourselves into a forest, a White Castle, a Transylvanian train. We imagine ourselves as prom queens and C.E.O.s.
I had led prison poetry groups for years, so when I began this workshop, I was less afraid of incarcerated men than I was of improv itself. I’m accustomed to writing and revising stories before sending them out into the world, not making them up — and acting them out — before an audience. I was afraid of looking like a fool. But these men have such an infectious joy in improv that it makes me feel safe.
The inmates often take the lead — hardly typical for prison activities. Wilmot, a 42-year-old man with a warm, shy grin, recruited new members for the group and encouraged cautious ones. “Anything you got going on out there,” he’d say, pointing toward the door, “you leave it.” To break out of our rut of realism, Wilmot invented a game involving dozens of genre cues like “sci-fi” or “Western” on slips of paper. We laughed helplessly while one inmate played a terrible waiter in a “musical,” singing in improvised rhyme, his wire-framed glasses perched snootily on his nose.
The workshop can be transporting, but it’s impossible to forget where we are. Most of our members committed violent crimes. Two were juveniles when they were sentenced to life without parole. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that this is unconstitutional, but Michigan has refused to apply the ruling retroactively. Continuing battles on whether to resentence the state’s 350 juvenile lifers leave them in apprehensive uncertainty. “You can’t hope too much,” one of them said. “Hope’ll kill you.”
In May, Matt and I attended Wilmot’s parole hearing. The board interrogated him about the 1992 crime — armed robbery and assault with intent to murder — that had earned him multiple life sentences. At the hearing, he wept, saying, “This is not the life I was supposed to live.” The attorney general’s representative nudged a box of tissues across the table.
Just after a June performance we staged for inmates and guests, Wilmot was paroled. We absorbed the news with astonishment — joyful, but disoriented at losing a core member of our group. As for Wilmot, he didn’t know what to expect. How do you build a life outside prison after years behind bars?
Since Wilmot was locked up, the Internet came into use. Cellphones. Social media. Wilmot is on a crash course of trial and error. He couldn’t get a job without photo identification. He couldn’t get an ID without his birth certificate, which didn’t survive decades of incarceration. Wilmot’s family drove to state agencies hundreds of miles apart before the problem was sorted out.
Some cities, like Washington, treat re-entry as a municipal service, assisting with identification issues like these, as well as with jobs, mentorship and voting rights. Detroit is not one of them.
In August, I invited Wilmot to join a group of friends at the Detroit Improv Festival. I hadn’t seen him since the July homecoming party at his mother’s house. I was still startled to see him in bluejeans and a button-down shirt, instead of his blue and orange uniform. Wilmot had never seen improv outside of prison. In the theater, we watched scenes ignited by prompts that were familiar from the cinder-block room at Macomb.
But what most captured Wilmot’s imagination was the downtown he hadn’t seen in two decades. “Man,” he exclaimed, as we brought the car to a stop. “A parking garage. Ain’t never seen one of these before. Let’s take a picture!”
No one has a script for Wilmot on where to go from here. He’s grateful to live with his sister, and for his full-time factory job. But he’s lonely. He asks about the workshop. He doesn’t know his way around the city anymore. He’s dependent on rides, so he’s saving, slowly, for a car. “All right, all right,” Wilmot says when I ask how he’s doing. “Just gotta keep moving.”
In other words: He’s improvising.

Resolution for Palestinian State Fails in United Nations Security Council

A United Nations Security Council draft resolution that set a deadline to establish a sovereign Palestinian state was defeated Tuesday night after it failed to receive the nine votes that are needed for adoption in the 15-member body.
The United States and Australia voted against the measure. France, China and Russia were among the eight countries that voted for it. Britain and four other nations abstained.
The draft resolution, which was introduced by Jordan on behalf of the Palestinians, set a one-year deadline for negotiations with Israel; established targets for Palestinian sovereignty, including a capital in East Jerusalem; and called for the “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli forces” from the West Bank by the end of 2017.
The defeat could potentially lead Palestinian officials to seek recognition in other ways — including by joining the International Criminal Court.

10 Worst Civil Liberties Violations of 2014

While the country has evolved on marriage equality, it often appears to be backtracking on just about every other advance we have made, from the racial and gender progress of the 1960s to the most basic principles of the criminal justice system. Read about the top 10 civil liberties nightmares of 2014 in no particular order.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Return of the debtors' prison? Many still jailed for inability to pay fines

Cities across the country are increasingly turning to what are known as private probation companies to collect unpaid fines. But are indigent people ending up in jail because they can't afford to pay? Since NewsHour Weekend's first story on this issue aired last spring, the Childersburg Municipal Court issued a “standing order” stating that “In no case shall an indigent defendant be incarcerated … based solely on his or her inability to pay fines.” But the practice continues elsewhere in the country. Special correspondent John Carlos Frey takes an in-depth look at what some are calling the return of the debtors' prison.

Guatemalan Genocide Trial Set to Resume Amid Amnesty Battles

On May 10, 2013, a Guatemalan court found former dictator and army general José Efraín Ríos Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. It was an historic decision: the first time a former head of state had been prosecuted successfully in his native country for genocide, and the first time a high-level leader was convicted in Guatemala for the horrendous crimes that took place during that country's 36-year civil war.

I was in the courtroom the day the verdict was emitted, one of a team of international observers monitoring the process. A court of law weighed the evidence, and found that there had been genocide. The victims, members of the Maya Ixil community, rejoiced at the ruling. It was a vindication of their three-decade struggle to have their pain and suffering acknowledged, and those responsible punished.

However, under pressure by economic elites and sectors of the armed forces, the Constitutional Court undid the ruling just ten days later, arguing a legal technicality. It set the trial back a month and thereby invalidated the verdict.

Domestic and international groups appealed to the Constitutional Court to overturn the ruling, arguing that the proper route to challenge the decision was through a normal appeal process, and that the majority opinion was flawed. Two judges wrote dissenting opinions substantiating these and other points. The Constitutional Court held fast to its decision.

A new tribunal was named to oversee the retrial, but claiming that its docket was full, said it would not be able to hear the genocide case until January 2015. In the meantime, the crusading attorney general who was the architect of the genocide case, Claudia Paz y Paz, was forced out of office early, and the presiding trial judge, Yassmín Barrios, has faced legal sanctions and media opprobrium.

With the new year upon us, the genocide trial is slated to begin on January 5. Several obstacles to restarting the trial have been cleared. Most significantly, on December 18, the Constitutional Court unanimously ruled that the decision of a pretrial judge, which argued that the proceedings should return to November 2011, prior to the date of Ríos Montt's indictment, was illegal and should be nullified. That was the same ruling that, on April 18, 2013, dramatically halted the genocide trial in mid-process for the first time. The ruling vindicates the decision of trial court judge Yassmín Barrios, who at the time refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of that decision, deeming it clearly illegal.


Delaware-size gas plume over West illustrates the cost of leaking methane

The methane that leaks from 40,000 gas wells near this desert trading post may be colorless and odorless, but it’s not invisible. It can be seen from space.

Satellites that sweep over energy-rich northern New Mexico can spot the gas as it escapes from drilling rigs, compressors and miles of pipeline snaking across the badlands. In the air it forms a giant plume: a permanent, Delaware-sized methane cloud, so vast that scientists questioned their own data when they first studied it three years ago. “We couldn’t be sure that the signal was real,” said NASA researcher Christian Frankenberg.

The country’s biggest methane “hot spot,” verified by NASA and University of Michigan scientists in October, is only the most dramatic example of what scientists describe as a $2 billion leak problem: the loss of methane from energy production sites across the country. When oil, gas or coal are taken from the ground, a little methane — the main ingredient in natural gas — often escapes along with it, drifting into the atmosphere, where it contributes to the warming of the Earth.


Activists Permanently Shut Down Vermont Yankee Nuke Plant

The Vermont Yankee atomic reactor went permanently off-line on Dec. 29, 2014. Citizen activists have made it happen. The number of licensed U.S. commercial reactors is now under 100 where once it was to be 1,000.

Decades of hard grassroots campaigning by dedicated, non-violent nuclear opponents, working for a Solartopian green-powered economy, forced this reactor’s corporate owner to bring it down.


More States Than Ever Will Raise Their Minimum Wage On New Year's Day

If you're a minimum wage earner and of drinking age, be sure to raise a glass when the ball drops Wednesday night. There's a decent chance you'll be getting a pay raise.

Thanks to a raft of state-level laws and ballot measures this year, 20 states will be hiking their minimum wages on New Year's Day -- evidence of a growing nationwide move toward higher mandatory pay despite congressional inertia on the issue.

With a proposal to raise the $7.25 federal minimum wage to $10.10 languishing on Capitol Hill, more and more states are choosing to bypass Congress and raise the wage floor on their own. That trend has even come to red states like Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, where voters approved various minimum wage ballot measures in the November elections.


New Snowden Documents Reveal That the NSA Can’t Hack Everyone

A new wave of U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) document leaks show the agency wasn’t able to spy on everyone thanks to some encryption tools several programs use that successfully thwart digital espionage.

German magazine Der Spiegel reported the NSA couldn’t decipher communications such as emails and online chat messages from a handful of services that use encryption beyond the NSA’s code-cracking abilities, based on documents obtained from former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013. Der Spiegel recently analyzed NSA documents Snowden previously released to news outlets in 2013.

“[U]biquitous encryption on the Internet is a major threat to NSA’s ability to prosecute digital-network intelligence (DNI) traffic or defeat adversary malware,” an NSA employee said in an internal training document from 2012.

Programs that used OTR or off-the-record or end-to-end encryption such as the anonymous network Tor and professional software company Zoho’s email and chat services proved to be major challenges for the NSA. The agency also reported that it couldn’t break into files using TrueCrypt, a recently decommissioned open-source, whole disk-encryption service, along with other encryption tools that kept some messages unreadable.

The NSA was stumped further if users incorporated a variety of security measures, such as using Tor to connect to the internet, CSpace to send online messages and ZRTP to make phone calls. That combination made individuals nearly invisible to the NSA, Der Spiegel reported.

But the leaked documents also revealed which services provide little privacy protections. The NSA labeled the services and files such as “trivial,” “moderate” or “catastrophic” based on how easy they were to decrypt. Hacking into Facebook chats were considered “minor,” Der Spiegel reported, while getting emails through “,” a Moscow internet service provider was a “moderate” task.


The Prison State of America

Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society.


Idle No More Has Raised Canadian Consciousness In 2 Years

As we note the second anniversary of the founding of the Idle No More movement, there can be little doubt that the aboriginal question is by far the most important moral question of Canada’s early 21st century. No other public question in Canada has its historical weight, inertia and complexity.

But what is the aboriginal question for this century? Are we talking about standards of material well-being for aboriginal people? Is it about social status and professional opportunity? Or does the question turn fundamentally on the vindication of specific legal and constitutional rights?

The answer must begin with the brutal premise that the aboriginal people in Canada still live as history’s losers; that is, most of the aboriginal people in Canada are descended most recently from people who in their legal, social, economic, organizational and geopolitical interactions with non-aboriginals — principally European settlers and their own descendants — were over time and for a variety of reasons stripped of territory, prestige, rights and the underpinnings of social and material well-being.

In some cases, they were plainly outmanoeuvred; in others they were tricked; and in others still they were assimilated, killed or sickened by extracontinental diseases. The aggregate effect of these blows was historical defeat for the majority of the First Nations to the white man — a defeat that has mercilessly conditioned the logic of the relationship between First Nations people and what would become Canadian governments and Canadian society.



Police Are Monitoring #BlackLivesMatter Cell Phones

A police officer’s blunder appears to have shed a thin ray of light on one of the Chicago Police Department’s most closely held secrets.
During a Black Friday Boycott march, one of many Ferguson-related demonstrations held that week, a Chicago police officer radioed the city’s “fusion center,” where the city police collaborate with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, among many other agencies.

Enormous Implications Of Facebook Indexing 1 Trillion Of Our Posts

A whole wing of the Internet just got added to our collective conscience, like websites by Google or knowledge by Wikipedia before it.

Yet the news cruised by with analysis focused simply on what Facebook’s new keyword post search does today. Yes, any post by you or any of your friends can now be dug up with a quick search from mobile. But I don’t think people realize how big a deal it is for tomorrow. Facebook just went from data rich to Scrooge-McDuck-swimming-in-a-tower-full-of data rich.

The ramifications for advertising, developers, and Facebook itself are tough to fathom. Our most vivid doppelgänger, our digital echoes can now be tracked. They don’t just say who we were, but where we’re headed, and what we’ll want next.

First, the trillion post index gives us group memory.Each person can only search stories from their friends and surrounding network, but Mark Zuckerberg recently said those all add up to over 1 trillion posts.


The year the world turned on Facebook

By all accounts, 2014 was a pretty ace year for boy genius Mark Zuckerberg and his ongoing takeover of the world.

Facebook celebrated its 10th anniversary in February and its 1.35 billionth user just nine months after that. (Stop here for a minute, because that number is worth considering: 1.35 billion. Billion. Okay, continue. )

Facebook acquired Oculus, makers of a much-touted virtual reality headset, and WhatsApp, the massively popular messaging app. The company launched a steady stream of its own apps, too: Paper, Slingshot, Mentions, Messenger, Rooms. In late July, Facebook released a mobile app to provide free basic Internet service in regions of the world lacking what so many of us take for granted; that’s since rolled out in Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania. And as if we needed further proof that the social network is a global powerhouse, the World Cup broke all-time records for the site: 350 million people posted about the games a total of 3 billion times.

And yet, even as Facebook strides boldly toward world domination, cracks have appeared in its once fresh-faced facade. Teens — the best indicator for Web zeitgeist, obvi — have fled the network for younger, hipper venues. In the past year, users have begun complaining about the insidious reach of algorithms, as well as the site’s every incremental change. A wave of anonymous apps has begun to erode the distinctly Facebookian notion that everything you do online should be tied to your real-life name.

Perhaps most damningly, for the first time since Facebook launched in 2004, someone made a go at an overtly, intentionally anti-Facebook network. Sure, Ello sputtered out in a span of months — but it gave voice to the concerns of a million wary Facebook users, first.


Microsoft May Soon Replace Internet Explorer With a New Web Browser

Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system will debut with an entirely new web browser code-named Spartan, according to a report citing anonymous sources.

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reports that this new browser is a departure from Internet Explorer, the Microsoft browser whose relevance has waned in recent years.
According to Foley, it will be a “lightweight” browser that looks and feels more like the Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers. But her sources also indicate that Spartan will be offered alongside IE when Windows 10 debuts next year.

With Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome grabbing so much of the desktop market—and Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and Google’s Android browser dominating the mobile market—Internet Explorer is no longer the force it once was. There was a time when it handled about over 90 percent of all web traffic on desktop and laptop machines, but according to research outfit Net Applications, its share has now dropped to 58 percent. On mobile, its share is about 2 percent.

Spartan attempts to address both these markets, according to Foley. Windows 10 is designed to run across a wide range of devices, and according to Foley, the new browser will be available on phones and tablets as well as laptops and desktops. It’s unclear whether Spartan will run on Android, Apple’s iOS, and other operating systems that compete with Windows, but Foley says there’s a chance it will.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: New Year's Eve (Web Exclusive)

UN-Recommended Prosecution of Lawyers Who Cleared US Torture Program Good First Step

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UN-CAT) just completed its review of the United States and found much of concern. In its "Concluding Observations," the panel called for the investigation and prosecution of "persons in positions of command and those who provided legal cover to torture."

The UN-CAT periodically reviews states that have ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT-CID). The United States is one of these states - Ronald Reagan signed the CAT-CID in 1988, and the Senate ratified it in 1994. The CAT-CID, like all ratified treaties, is the supreme law of the land according to the US Constitution.


Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA's War on Internet Security

US and British intelligence agencies undertake every effort imaginable to crack all types of encrypted Internet communication. The cloud, it seems, is full of holes. The good news: New Snowden documents show that some forms of encryption still cause problems for the NSA.


Watch America's Prison System Explode in One Alarming GIF

Thanks to one Twitter user, we now have a clear and troubling illustration of the rate of imprisonment in the United States. Stretching from 1980 to 2013 and sourcing its numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the GIF shows the number of prisoners per 100,000 American residents. Although the incarceration rates differ from state to state, the nationwide trend is clear: America's incarceration rate has skyrocketed, and our prison population has become absurdly bloated.


Kids in Cages

Charles Koch’s views on criminal justice system just may surprise you

Of all the contentious history between Koch Industries and the U.S. government, the Corpus Christi, Texas, case from 1995 is the one that Charles Koch remembers most vividly.

A federal grand jury indicted his company on 97 felonies involving alleged environmental crimes at an oil refinery.

Prosecutors dropped all but one of the charges six years later, after the company spent tens of millions of dollars defending itself.  Ultimately, Koch Petroleum Group agreed to pay a $10 million settlement. “It was a really, really torturous experience,” said Mark Holden, Koch’s chief counsel. “We learned first-hand what happens when anyone gets into the criminal justice system.”

Holden said Charles Koch wondered afterward “how the little guy who doesn’t have Koch’s resources deals with prosecutions like that.”

No one at Koch wants to re-litigate the Corpus Christi case, Holden said. But it prompted Charles Koch to study the justice system – both federal and state – wondering whether it has been over-criminalized with too many laws and too many prosecutions of nonviolent offenders, not only for him but for everybody.

His conclusion: Yes, it has.  More:  

Read more here:

Read more here:

Last Week in Indian Country

A recap of the stories that mattered most in Indian country:

RESPECT FOR THE PEOPLE: The Marysville, Washington, School Board on December 8 unanimously adopted the “Since Time Immemorial” curriculum as core curriculum for all district schools. The district’s K-12 schools will now be required to teach the history, culture, governance and current affairs of indigenous nations in their area.

TRAIL BLAZER: Charisse Arce was recently chosen by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., from a large pool of highly talented and qualified individuals, as the first Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Legal Fellow. Arce of Bristol Bay, will serve a three-year term in the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Arizona.

SOLAR STYMIED: The Moapa Paiute Tribe in Nevada got a monkey wrench for Christmas this year, when the state power commission stymied plans for its second solar project. But the small tribe is undaunted and says it will regroup after the first of the year.

EVERYONE'S ELDER: Actor and public speaker Saginaw Grant will be honored next month with an award by a California nonprofit for his commitment to Native American communities.

KEEP FIGHTING: West Moberly First Nation, whose treaty lands will be flooded when the $8.8-billion Site C dam is completed in a decade, is vowing to step up its ongoing legal battle against the project after it was approved by the province last week.

GEARING UP: The Iroquois Nationals have announced their general manager and coaching staff for the 2015 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championship. Landon Miller will oversee the Iroquois team as its general manager, while Rich Kilgour will serve as the head coach.

A PIECE OF HISTORY: A copy of the Lord’s Prayer in the Cherokee language carried by a Cherokee World War II veteran is now in the possession of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

SISTER ACT: Award-winning Kiowa artists Teri Greeves and Keri Ataumbi have been named the Living Treasures for the 2015 Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival (May 23-24, 2015), which benefits the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) in Santa Fe.

NO DRILLING: Chevron Corp. has canceled its plans to drill for oil in the Beaufort Sea because of plummeting oil prices, according to reports. It is the fourth oil conglomerate to suspend offshore drilling in the Arctic over the past couple of years.

DON'T LEAVE US OUT: The Yakama Nation is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for allegedly excluding the tribe from cleanup input at the Bradford Island Superfund site on the Columbia River. “The Yakama Nation has a key role in cleanup and had numerous meetings with the Corps, but they still fail to meaningfully include the Yakama Nation,” Gerald Lewis, Tribal Councilman, said in a statement.

TRAGIC: A Native man who participated in an anti-police brutality march and rally in Rapid City, South Dakota, was shot and killed by police a day later, according to reports. Rapid City Police identified the victim as Allen Locke, 30, of Rapid City.

FISTS OF FURY: Despite being the women's International Boxing Association (IBA) middleweight champion, Kali Reis is hardly a household name. But she's hoping the popularity of women's boxing increases so she can at least start making some decent money from her bouts. Reis, a 28-year-old who has Cherokee, Nipmuc and Seaconke Wampanoag ancestry, captured her title in Bermuda.


Medicine man's alleged sexual abuse haunts reservation

A man of healing, a saga of suffering

Allegations of child sex abuse are complicated by a legal maze in Indian country

He was a world-famous medicine man, a traditional healer and spiritual leader. Followers would travel long distances to this tiny hamlet on the Great Plains to be in his presence and pray in the darkness with him in a sacred sweat lodge.

But Charles Chipps Sr., a medicine man on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, had a dark secret, federal prosecutors say.

For years, they allege, Chipps sexually abused and raped girls, including some of his own daughters and granddaughters; many of the alleged victims were younger than 12 and several were as young as 5. A girl from Colorado whose aunt brought her to meet Chipps for spiritual guidance committed suicide after revealing the abuse she allegedly suffered.

The sexual abuse of children has long been regarded as a rampant if largely unspoken problem on Native American reservations, in part a legacy of a boarding school system that was designed to assimilate students and subjected them to widespread sexual, emotional and physical abuse, according to Native leaders and prosecutors. But Chipps’s case, as described in court testimony, is among the most shocking — entailing allegations that a respected elder sexually abused at least six girls.

It is also an illustration of the ways in which the federal, state and tribal legal maze that governs Indian country can complicate the pursuit of justice and, in Chipps’s case, allowed him to go free for three years after he was first jailed.

Child sexual abuse on the reservations is at the root of the many problems that follow for Indian children — depression, alcohol and drug abuse, juvenile detention and suicide, according to Indian country experts. The challenge of getting victims to speak out — common in child sexual assault cases anywhere — is exacerbated by the close-knit nature of the remote communities where they live.


Finally wanted: Police to chase thousands of fugitives

PHILADELPHIA — Five years after he ran from charges that he assaulted a sleeping college student on an overnight flight from Los Angeles, Yamin Ren is finally a wanted man.

For years, authorities said they would not spend the time or money to pursue Ren — who lived in California — as long as he stayed out of their state. For years, he remained free.

Now, after a USA TODAY investigation, authorities here and across the USA have promised to bring Ren and thousands of other fugitives back to face justice regardless of where they are found.

The newspaper found this year that more than 330,000 accused felons — including some wanted in rapes and murders — can escape the charges against them merely by crossing a state border because police and prosecutors secretly decided in advance not to go that far to retrieve them. In the months that followed, officials from Florida to Pennsylvania reversed those decisions by the thousands, informing the FBI that they intend to retrieve fugitives from anyplace in the USA.


Kids and Jails, a Bad Combination

There are few bright spots in America’s four-decade-long incarceration boom, but one enduring success — amid all the wasted money and ruined lives — has been the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, the landmark law passed by Congress in 1974.
The essence of the act is a set of protections for young people caught up in a criminal justice system built for grown-ups. In the past, juvenile offenders were routinely locked up with adults, exposing them to physical and sexual abuse and making them more likely to break the law again when they got out. The act, built on an awareness that young people are different, offers federal dollars to states that house juvenile inmates in their own facilities or, where that is not possible, keep them strictly separated from the adults. It also bars the counterproductive practice of throwing children in jail for “status offenses” like skipping school, running away or violating a curfew — behavior for which no adult would be punished.
The results speak for themselves. Even as the nation’s prison population has skyrocketed eightfold since 1970, to 2.4 million, the number of juveniles involved in the justice system has dropped by 30 percent since 2002.

On Tribal Lands, Oil and Trouble

In North Dakota, a Tale of Oil, Corruption and Death

FORT BERTHOLD INDIAN RESERVATION, N.D. — Tex G. Hall, the three-term tribal chairman on this remote, once impoverished reservation, was the very picture of confidence as he strode to the lectern at his third Annual Bakken Oil and Gas Expo and gazed out over a stuffed, backlit mountain lion.
Tall and imposing beneath his black cowboy hat, he faced an audience of political and industry leaders lured from far and wide to the “Texpo,” as some here called it. It was late April at the 4 Bears Casino, and the outsiders endorsed his strong advocacy for oil development and the way he framed it as mutually beneficial for the industry and the reservation: “sovereignty by the barrel.”
“M.H.A. Nation is No. 1 for tribal oil produced on American soil in the United States right now currently today,” Mr. Hall proudly declared, referring to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.

But, in a hall decorated with rigs and tepees, a dice throw from the slot machines, Mr. Hall’s self-assurance belied the fact that his grip on power was slipping. After six years of dizzyingly rapid oil development, anxiety about the environmental and social costs of the boom, as well as about tribal mismanagement and oil-related corruption, had burst to the surface.
By that point, there were two murder cases — one person dead in Spokane, Wash., the other missing but presumed dead in North Dakota — tied to oil business on the reservation. And Mr. Hall, a once-seemingly untouchable leader, was under investigation by his tribal council because of his connections to an Oregon man who would later be charged with murder for hire in the two deaths.

Net neutrality to dominate D.C.’s tech agenda

For the White House, a major win on net neutrality might come at a cost — scuttling everything else on Washington’s tech and telecom agenda next year.

The Federal Communications Commission is racing to write rules that require Internet service providers to treat all Web traffic equally, and many expect the agency will follow President Barack Obama’s call to treat broadband service like a utility. Telecom giants and Republican lawmakers say that will create burdensome new regulation — and the issue has already incited a lobbying frenzy, raised the specter of lawsuits and ignited new partisan fires on Capitol Hill.

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Wounded Knee Massacre 1890

Protest Poster
Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded to many of the cavalrymen who fought at Wounded Knee. Despite the current view that the battle was a massacre of innocents, the Medals still stand. Some native American and other groups and individuals continue to lobby Congress to rescind these "Medals of dis-Honor."

The armed resistance was over. The remaining Sioux were forced into reservation life at gunpoint. Many Sioux sought spiritual guidance. Thus began a religious awakening among the tribes of North America.

Arrival of the "Ghost Dance"

Called the "Ghost Dance" by the white soldiers who observed the new practice, it spread rapidly across the continent. Instead of bringing the answer to their prayers, however, the "Ghost Dance" movement resulted in yet another human travesty.

It all began in 1888 with a Paiute holy man called Wovoka. During a total eclipse of the sun, Wovoka received a message from the Creator. Soon an Indian messiah would come and the world would be free of the white man. The Indians could return to their lands and the buffalo would once again roam the Great Plains.

Wovoka even knew that all this would happen in the spring of 1891. He and his followers meditated, had visions, chanted, and performed what became known as the Ghost Dance. Soon the movement began to spread. Before long, the Ghost Dance had adherents in tribes throughout the South and West.

Although Wovoka preached nonviolence, whites feared that the movement would spark a great Indian rebellion. Ghost Dance followers seemed more defiant than other Native Americans, and the rituals seemed to work its participants into a frenzy. All this was disconcerting to the soldiers and settlers throughout the South and West. Tragedy struck when the Ghost Dance movement reached the Lakota Sioux.

Local residents of South Dakota demanded that the Sioux end the ritual of the Ghost Dance. When they were ignored, the United States Army was called for assistance. Fearing aggression, a group of 300 Sioux did leave the reservation. Army regulars believed them to be a hostile force preparing for attack. When the two sides came into contact, the Sioux reluctantly agreed to be transported to Wounded Knee Creek on Pine Ridge Reservation.

A Final Tragedy

On the morning of December 29, 1890, the army demanded the surrender of all Sioux weapons. Amid the tension, a shot rang out, possibly from a deaf brave who misunderstood his chief's orders to surrender.

The Seventh Cavalry — the reconstructed regiment lost by George Armstrong Custer — opened fire on the Sioux. The local chief, Big Foot, was shot in cold blood as he recuperated from pneumonia in his tent. Others were cut down as they tried to run away. When the smoke cleared almost all of the 300 men, women, and children were dead. Some died instantly, others froze to death in the snow.

This massacre marked the last showdown between Native Americans and the United States Army. It was nearly 400 years after Christopher Columbus first contacted the first Americans. The 1890 United States census declared the frontier officially closed.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dick Gregory Fights Ignorance, Arrogance & Dan Snyder

The satirist and activist was in the metro for the national rally protesting the name of the DC-area NFL team when it was here to play the Vikings in November. If you’re not comfortable seeing the words “white folks,” “black folks” and references to the N-bomb, this interview with the man whose autobiography title is the N-word is not for you. It’s also not for blacks who expect Gregory to go easy on them, especially on the subject of how American Indians have been treated.

Gregory has an insouciance that suggests that he’s not impressed by much. However, one accolade has resonated with him. “I’m stunned there is a book out by National Geographic that lists 1,001 people who made America and I’m listed. I said, ‘Wow.’ ”

He could have said much more about National Geographic’s writing that Gregory “rose from the ghetto to become a nationally successful comic in the 1960s, who delivered biting satire targeted against racial prejudice. His comedy added a new dimension to the civil rights movement, raising the consciousness of black as well as white Americans. By the 1980s Gregory had left the comic stage and become an entrepreneur in the field of nutrition.”

Our interview took place in the lobby of St. Paul’s Crowne Plaza with protesters and public milling around. Clyde Bellecourt, leader and co-founder of the American Indian Movement; David Glass, president of the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, both White Earth members, and others created a human perimeter to keep Gregory’s fans from interrupting my interview.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Five Reasons Why 2014 was a Game Changer in Palestine

In terms of losses in human lives, 2014 has been a horrific year for Palestinians, when an Israeli war against the Gaza Strip killed and wounded thousands. While some aspects of the conflict are stagnating between a corrupt, ineffectual Palestinian Authority (PA), and the criminality of Israeli wars and occupation, it would also be fair to argue that 2014 was also a game changer to some degree—and it is not all bad news. And here are five reasons why.


Negotiations Underway to Free Puerto Rico's Oscar Lopez Rivera

The Puerto Rican independence activist could be liberated after spending 32 years in jail for political reasons.
The United States government could free Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera, as announced by a relative on Wednesday (24 December).

Negotiations to free the Puerto Rican are being held between the U.S. government and Uruguay, after Uruguayan president Jose Mujica requested U.S. president Barack Obama to free him.

The Puerto Rican governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said yesterday that his government is also urging the White House to free the political activist.

Marcia Rivera, a prominent academic relative of Lopez who lives in Uruguay, announced through her Facebook account that the liberation of the activist could come very soon.



Who's most likely to be killed by police?

(CNN) -- As the country continues to debate police accountability and the all-too-routine killing of unarmed black men by white law enforcement, it's imperative to understand that this issue is not just about black people and white people.

In fact, despite the available statistical evidence, most people don't know that Native Americans are most likely to be killed by police, compared with other racial groups. Native Americans make up about 0.8% of the population, yet account for 1.9% of police killings.
When Native Americans are shot and killed by law enforcement, there's rarely much news coverage of those incidents. There are no outcries from any community other than our own.
There are no white or black faces rallying around us, marching with us, protesting with us over this injustice. Why? Because we are a forgotten people.
Take Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, an 18-year-old Cheyenne and Arapaho youth, who died on December 21, 2013, after being shot seven times by two sheriff's deputies in Oklahoma.

The two Custer County deputies alleged that Goodblanket had a knife during an incident at his parents' home in the city of Clinton. Custer County Sheriff's spokesman Bruce Peoples said Goodblanket threw a knife at the deputies and then attacked with another knife. They tried a Taser on him, which had no effect.
But Goodblanket's girlfriend, Naomi Barron, who was present when he was killed, said in a statement that Goodblanket had no weapons when the two white deputies opened fire. "He [had] his arms up and his hands were free ... he had no weapons," she said.
Goodblanket was diagnosed in ninth grade with Oppositional Defiant Disorder -- a malady affecting 20% of boys. His mother, Melissa, said he experienced an episode when he thought that his girlfriend was breaking up with him that fateful night.
The attorney for the Goodblanket family, Ray Wall, said the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has refused to release the police report regarding the incident. "Withholding an official police report ... I think that's a violation of the Freedom of Information Act," Wall told me when I reached out to him.
Goodblanket's mother, Melissa, said she can't comprehend why mainstream media does not report on the killings of unarmed Native Americans, and why the killing of her son has failed to spark a national response. "Our 18-year-old son was murdered -- [shot] seven times, once in the back of the head," she said. "This [incident] in itself should initiate an outrage among those who value life."
But the outrage isn't to be found -- at least not outside of Native American communities.
What's hard to believe is that the two white deputies both received the Medal of Honor and one received the Purple Heart by his department months after Goodblanket's death. On the Custer County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, a post said the awards were in "recognition of their performance above and beyond the call of duty while disregarding their own personal safety and exhibiting exceptional courage in a life threatening situation, stemming from a domestic call they responded to in December of 2013 ..."
It is notable that medals were given to the two white deputies in a county named for the infamous murderer and Indian fighter George Armstrong Custer no less.
Imagine if Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo received commendations associated with the killing of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. There would be protests dwarfing any that have occurred to date. But giving out medals after the killing of a Native American? That doesn't seem to bother anyone but Native Americans.
History provides various unjust examples. Just think of the 20 U.S. cavalrymen who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor after they indiscriminately murdered an estimated 300 Lakota -- 200 of whom were women and children -- during the Wounded Knee Massacre on December 29, 1890. Those medals have yet to be rescinded.
Could it be that Hollywood and pop culture have made dead Indians and the killing of the "savages" too commonplace for people to flinch? Many old Western movies from Hollywood didn't portray Native Americans in a positive light. Contemporary designers such as Ralph Lauren continue to sell clothes with images of dead Indians emblazoned on them. We've all seem them -- it's the image of a skull donning a feather headdress.
There's another incident recently that outraged the Native American community. On October 4 in Pierre, South Dakota, four officers surrounded an irate 70-pound Sicangu Lakota girl and tased her after concern that she would harm herself with a knife. Though this outrageous incident was covered by CNN and other networks, the killing of Goodblanket and many other Native Americans who've died at the hands of law enforcement remains unspoken.
Is the message here that geography matters in cases of injustice and oppression? Had Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket been killed in a major city rather than in Clinton, Oklahoma, would the country have rallied in protest to his brutal death?
After a grand jury in Staten Island, New York, failed to indict Pantaleo, the white police officer who killed Garner, an unarmed black man, the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite immediately grew in popularity. Utilizing the hashtag, users compared instances of white people receiving little or no punishments for crimes they had committed, whereas African-Americans were dealt harshly disproportionate sentences for theirs. Yet some people want to claim that we've grown much as a nation. Really?
On the day when white law enforcement officers are indicted for the killing of unarmed black men, and on the day when white men stop receiving medals associated with the killing of Native Americans, then I will say we've grown as a nation, but only a little. We will still have a long way to go.

Plea Bargaining and the Innocent

It is perhaps helpful to think of sentencing in terms of the classical Greek word for “injustice.” The literal translation is “out of balance.” Doing justice is an act of restoring balance. Human nature discourages venturing into this area without a template that allows one to fill in the blanks — and so to follow the rote responses of bureaucracy. But putting the thumb of convenience on the scales of justice is precisely what causes the innocent to plead guilty. It is the inevitable result of a laconic adherence to a thoughtless and passionless process. And we all can do something more about it.


Mysterious Case of Prisoner 212

Researchers and reporters had long counted the total number of prisoners who cycled through Guantanamo at 779, but the Senate intelligence committee’s report on CIA torture revealed that there was one more previously unknown detainee. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, also known as prisoner 212, was held at a secret black site at Guantanamo Bay, according to the report, bringing the total number of detainees to 780.

That al-Libi was held by the CIA is long established.  After all, al-Libi’s name is notorious as the source of bad information used by the Bush administration to tie Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda to support the US invasion of Iraq — information he provided while being tortured in Egyptian custody, and later recanted.

More than a single digit change in the tally, al-Libi’s hitherto unknown presence at Guantanamo underscores how much remains unknown about the total number of detainees and their fates. The Senate report includes a list of 119 men– a rare official disclosure of the individuals held and in many cases tortured by the CIA. Only a fraction of those had previously been acknowledged as CIA detainees, though journalists and human rights groups had pieced together the population of prisoners from disclosures about Guantanamo, leaked documents, and court proceedings.

The Senate list fills the holes in a few cases, like al-Libi’s.

The black sites in the Senate report are identified by color code names, but journalists and human rights groups quickly identified them. As the Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg first noted, the report confirms that al-Libi was at one of Guantanamo’s black sites—“Maroon” and “Indigo” in the report. Al-Libi was secreted away from Guantanamo in 2004 along with four other so-called high value detainees, before the Supreme Court determined that prisoners at the naval base had the right to challenge their detention.

Disappearing those detainees gave the CIA leeway to continue secret interrogations outside the view of any court system. Al-Libi ultimately ended up in prison in Libya, where he died in 2009.

The Senate report doesn’t cover everyone caught up in the CIA’s net. The Open Society Foundations, for example, published a report last year detailing 136 cases of individuals suspected to have been detained or rendered by the CIA. The Senate report misses some high-profile cases, however, because it didn’t include rendition — when the CIA handed prisoners over to third countries for interrogation or imprisonment. (As the Intercept’s Peter Maass noted last week, it also doesn’t touch on detainee abuse by the military.)

Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, was detained in 2002 and shipped to Jordan and then Syria and tortured before being released in 2003. The Canadian government ultimately apologized and compensated him for its role in his rendition, but the Supreme Court allowed his case against the U.S. government to be dismissed.

Saami al-Saadi, a Libyan opposition member, was detained in Hong Kong in 2004 and forced onto a plane by British and American agents to return to Libyan custody along with his wife and four young children. Saadi was tortured there, and the family ultimately settled a claim against the British government for more than two million pounds. (In fact, the report redacts evidence of British involvement in the CIA program entirely; British intelligence agencies met with the Senate investigators repeatedly and asked to be scrubbed from the public version.)

The post-CIA fates of the detainees who are named in the Senate report vary. Twenty-nine of them remain in Guantanamo. Seven have been transferred from Gitmo to imprisonment in other countries or released. Several men were held at Bagram, the U.S. prison in Afghanistan, and have since been released or handed over to the Afghan government.

Some were rendered to other countries: prisoners handed over to Libya, Syria, and Egypt emerged during the uprisings in those countries.

Several of the men on the Senate list were reportedly killed by drone strikes, including Abu Yahya Al Libi, who escaped from Bagram and then was killed in Pakistan in 2012, or Hassan Ghul, who was tracked down by the NSA from an email sent by his wife. One man, Ahmed Ghailani, was brought to the United States for trial and now sits in a Supermax prison in Colorado.

According to the Intercept’s research, there are still 50 former CIA prisoners named by Senate investigators whose fates are unknown, and who have not, to our knowledge, spoken to the media or human rights groups. If you have any information about the names listed here, email the authors at or, or communicate with us anonymously via SecureDrop.


Selma's Truthful MLK: A Radical Despised by the Establishment

As Selma opens in a number of cities this week and expands to nationwide release in a couple of weeks, the country is given a chance to assess the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. Doing so is particularly relevant right now, in light of boisterous protests against police brutality that have been going on since the summer.

Selma has won nearly unanimous praise from film critics – it is currently perched at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with dozens of reviews in – partly for its unflinching look at King as a true radical who upset not just a fringe of racists in the South, but the entire political establishment. Writing in Time Magazine, nonprofit leader Salamishah Tillet praises the film for reclaiming “Hollywood's sanitized versions” of Dr. King as simply part of a “simple story of American racial progress.”

In the conventional wisdom, King was a beloved figure who worked with national politicians to defeat a fringe group of Southern racists; Selma upends this narrative by showing King facing off not only with Alabama governor George Wallace but also the Democratic president Lyndon Baines Johnson and his FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. King, and all those who stood alongside him in the demonstrations in the South, are shown not as conciliators looking to simply make racial harmony through dialogue, but as both agitators and lawbreakers – in the most righteous ways.

Selma's portrayal has irked some, like Marke Updegrove, the director of the LBJ presidential library. He writes that the film engages in a “mischaracterization” of the King-LBJ relationship, and that “LBJ and MLK were close partners in reform.”
The truth is that MLK's movement created even greater hostility among the political class than the film portrays.


Biggest stories of 2014 didn't need traditional news outlets

Gaza, Ferguson, a casino elevator in New Jersey — this was the year that raw images and social media, not gatekeepers, drove the national conversation.

From photos posted on Twitter to bits of raw video shot on smartphones and surveillance cameras, media reached a tipping point this year in which the most important parts of the biggest stories came to us not in prepackaged formats of network and cable newscasts, front pages or even home pages, but in grainy, shocking bits and pieces of data. They often seemed to arrive out of nowhere to rip through our culture, leaving us agitated, polarized and often confused.


Friday, December 26, 2014

How the Pentagon Papers Came to Be Published by the Beacon Press, as Told by Daniel Ellsberg and Others

In 1972 Beacon Press lost a Supreme Court case brought against it by the U.S. government for publishing the first full edition of the Pentagon Papers. It is now well known how The New York Times first published excerpts of the top-secret documents in June 1971, but less well known is how the Beacon Press, a small nonprofit publisher affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association, came to publish the complete 7,000 pages that exposed the true history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Their publication led the Beacon Press into a spiral of two-and-a-half years of harassment, intimidation, near bankruptcy and the possibility of criminal prosecution. This is a story that has rarely been told in its entirety. In 2007, Amy Goodman moderated an event at the Unitarian Universalist conference in Portland, Oregon, commemorating the publication of the Pentagon Papers and its relevance today. Today, we hear the story from three men at the center of the storm: former Pentagon and RAND Corporation analyst, famed whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times; former Alaskan senator and presidential candidate Mike Gravel, who tells the dramatic story of how he entered the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record and got them to the Beacon Press; finally, Robert West, the former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. We begin with Ellsberg, who Henry Kissinger once described as "the world’s most dangerous man."

Outfoxed • Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism

13 Things That We Re-Learned About the Prison Industrial Complex in 2014

As was true last year, there are many developments that didn’t make the list including the report by the National Research Council that analyzed the exponential growth of U.S. incarceration, the announcement that New York City will end punitive solitary confinement for juveniles, the continued criminalization of motherhood (especially black mothers), the ongoing criminalization of LGBTQ people, multiple botched executions, the indictment of Christopher Epps, Mississippi’s corrections commissioner for corruption, and more.