Saturday, January 31, 2015

Schools on Native American reservations in state of disrepair

President Obama's 2016 budget is expected to include money to upgrade federally funded schools on Native American reservations. Adriana Diaz visited one of those schools in northern Minnesota and saw how desperately those repairs are needed.


INDIGENOUS with Stacey Thunder: Washington football team and mascot issue

"Indigenous with Stacey Thunder" Episode 1 - The Washington football team and mascot issue and protest held in Minneapolis, MN November 2, 2014.

Stacey Thunder's 'Indigenous' Series Is Here!

For over a decade, journalist Stacey Thunder (Red Lake and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe) has been the host of the PBS news magazine Native Report—and today, she has launched her own online series, Indigenous With Stacey Thunder. The show aims to "educate and entertain viewers, empower Indigenous peoples, and bridge culture gaps," and the premiere episode (below) takes on an issue that touches all these concepts, just in time for the Super Bowl: the controversy over the name and mascot of the NFL's Washington Redskins. Enjoy this first installment in what promises to be a vital series on Native topics, and read on for some personal insight from Thunder herself. Episodes are posted to Stacey Thunder's YouTube Channel



Texas judge rules Lee Harvey Oswald casket belongs to brother

The decaying pine coffin in which Lee Harvey Oswald was buried 51 years ago rightfully belongs to the brother of President John F. Kennedy's presumed assassin, a Texas judge ruled on Friday.
Oswald's body was exhumed in 1981 and his original casket was discarded when he was reburied. Robert Oswald filed a lawsuit to gain ownership of the casket from a funeral home that tried to auction it off.
"Digging someone up and selling a used coffin is weird at best and disgusting at worst," said Robert Oswald's attorney, Gant Grimes.
State District Judge Don Cosby, who heard two days of testimony during a trial in December in Fort Worth, ruled Robert Oswald, 80, has owned the coffin since purchasing it for $300 for his brother's burial in 1963.

Native Communities Feel The Heat Of Climate Change In The Southwest

Hopi officials’ moves to impound Navajo-owned sheep goes beyond a mere tribal dispute over grazing land to reveal how acutely climate change is impacting Native traditions and ways of life in the American Southwest.

PINON, Arizona — Sheep have been an integral part of the lives of generations of Diné, providing food and wool to those living in relative isolation atop the Black Mesa in the remote north-central part of the Navajo Nation in Arizona.

However, the lives and livelihoods of the Forest Lake Chapter of the Navajo Nation were disrupted in October, when reports allege that federal SWAT teams set up roadblocks as helicopters and drones circled above the fields of shepherds while Hopi rangers and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agents impounded more than 300 of the Diné shepherds’ sheep.

The Hopi Tribe Department of Natural Resources conducted its annual livestock inventory in August. Citations were issued to those who had too many sheep, and they were given 60 days to remove any livestock in excess of the permit allowance. Five-day notices were posted, and written notices were issued by the Hopi Resource Enforcement Services to provide those with violations the opportunity to come into compliance voluntarily before the sheep were impounded.

The Hopi said in an Oct. 31 press release the impoundments were being carried out “equally for and between” the Hopi and Navajo. “Despite the misinformation being spread via the social media, there is no threat of violence by the Hopi Tribe against the Navajo and Hopi residents of Hopi Partitioned Lands,” the statement read.

The Hopi also called upon the Navajo to join together in protecting their sacred lands through “the continued and ongoing enforcement of the reasonable grazing regulations. It is in the best interest of all live stock (sic) owners that we work together to preserve the natural resources for the benefit of all.”

...One resident of the Navajo community, who spoke to MintPress on condition of anonymity, said, “The rangers came in the middle of ceremony. They came early in the morning, when people are asleep. They started taking sheep at gunpoint. These families depend on the sheep for food and wool for weaving. It’s how they make their living. Taking them away is destroying elders. They have nowhere else to go.”

The source told MintPress that it’s commonly believed that the Peabody Coal Mine wants to expand operations to mine the entire area, and that’s what’s behind the recent flock removal push.

“Peabody is lighting up most of the state with electricity, but these Navajo shepherds are not given electricity or running water,” the source said.


Super Bowl 2015: Change the Mascot "Take It Away" Ad

On Super Bowl Sunday, 2014: Proud To Be

Watch the commercial the NFL would never air. Get involved by contacting the Washington Professional Football Team and the NFL.

DC Team:

@NFL or

Native American Activists Tell NFL ‘No More’ Stereotypes, Hold Vigil/Protest at Super Bowl

By Nicholet Deschine Parkhurst
Jacqueline Keeler
January 28, 2015

PHOENIX -- Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, a national group of Native parents dedicated to ending the mascotting of Native people and their allies from across the country are calling upon Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner to truly show his commitment to stopping Domestic Violence by Retiring the Use of the Ethnic Slur ‘Redskins’ and Supporting Native Women’s Domestic Violence Programs.

Joined by Native American women’s groups from across the country including the Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, the Montana Native Women’s Coalition and the Native American Women’s Health and Education Resource Center, we will be protesting during the Super Bowl in Phoenix and holding a vigil the night before on Saturday, January 31st to tell the National Football League to recognize that the Washington football team’s continued insistence on using the Redsk*ns as a team name continues to promote an idea that Native people’s bodies are inherently a matter of monetization and objectification.

Historical media stereotypes cannot be divorced from the attacks on Native bodies through the sale of our ancestors’ body parts for real-life bounty—as seen, for instance, in this 1863 newspaper clipping promising the modern equivalent of $3,800 for “every red-skin sent to Purgatory”—and the cutting of body parts of Native men, women and children for keepsakes by U.S. Soldiers (particularly genitalia). And, in turn, this view of Native people as nothing more than body parts used for amusement or profit translates to the perception of Native women as inherently “rapeable.”

"Native American women in the United States experience the highest rates of sexual assault the country. According to the Department of Justice, one in three Native women will experience rape; Native women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault crimes than any other race. Nearly two-thirds of the time, white American men are the perpetrators of these assaults—Native women are the only group to be more likely to be victimized by someone not of their race.”

Some of these issues are related to jurisdictional gaps on reservations, which the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 was meant to address. But others are clearly the result of stereotypes white men in the United States are still taught about Native women, which sexualize them and devalue them.

“We really want to make the connection that this mascot issue and the name issue really is bigger than just simply changing the name, that there are deep connections with how American Indians are perceived and how stereotypes really do harmfully impact American Indians,” said Nicholet Deschine, a doctoral student and member of the Diné and Lakota tribes who has helped organize past protests against the name in Arizona.

“A lot of the stereotypes promoted by mascots are…the warrior image. The flip-side of that is the ‘Poca-hottie,’ the Savage Squaw, the person who is sexually available to the white man, and that is a big part of the story of America, this idea that there is some Indian princess out there,” [Jacqueline] Keeler said, pointing to images of Washington cheerleaders, who have in the past dressed in their own Native American costumes.

“How white men view us matters,” she added. “These stereotypes that people have are so powerful. They really mislead them about Native people, they cause them to harm Native people. This is why they have to stop.”
(Super Bowl Protesters Will Draw Ties Between ‘Redskins’ Name And Domestic Violence, Think Progress, January 27, 2015)

This is why we are asking Goodell to live up to his promises to tackle Domestic Violence in the NFL and recognize that they mirror what Native people are asking for too. And that this requires the elimination of the mascotting of Native people and the promotion of stereotypes by the NFL that not only marginalize but lead to the victimization of Native women in very real ways.

Our petition to Goodell began just days ago on Saturday, January 24th, 2015 and it already has over 9,000 signatures which has raised funds for Native American women’s organizations across the country. We ask all to sign and contribute and let Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington NFL team that help for Indian Country should not be predicated on the use of outdated stereotypes for profit and harm Native people.

Important hashtags: #StereotypesNoMore / #MMIW / #NoMore.

Saturday, January 31 at 6:00pm
*Vigil in solidarity for missing and murdered Indigenous women
Civic Space Park, Downtown Phoenix AZ

Sunday, February 1 at 10:00am
*March and Rally for #StereotypesNoMore
March route TBA
Civic Space Park, Downtown Phoenix AZ

Supported by:
Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
Montana Native Women's Coalition
Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center
AIM Orange County, AIM Southern California
Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry
Logo credit: Native Women's Society of the Great Plains
Media support, Netroots Nation

Friday, January 30, 2015

Verizon Will Now Let Users Kill Previously Indestructible Tracking Code

Verizon says it will soon offer customers a way to opt out from having their smartphone and tablet browsing tracked via a hidden un-killable tracking identifier.
The decision came after a ProPublica article revealed that an online advertiser, Turn, was exploiting the Verizon identifier to respawn tracking cookies that users had deleted.

Two days after the article appeared, Turn said it would suspend the practice of creating so-called "zombie cookies" that couldn't be deleted. But Verizon couldn't assure users that other companies might not also exploit the number - which was transmitted automatically to any website or app a user visited from a Verizon-enabled device - to build dossiers about people's behavior on their mobile devices.

Verizon subsequently updated its website to note Turn's decision and declared that it would "work with other partners to ensure that their use of [the undeletable tracking number] is consistent with the purposes we intended." Previously, its website had stated: "It is unlikely that sites and ad entities will attempt to build customer profiles."


Colson Task Force: Bloated Federal Prisons in 'Dire Need of Reform'

The federal prison system is in "dire need of reform," former U.S. Representative J. C. Watts, Jr. (R-OK) declared yesterday as the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections that he heads finally got under way in Washington, D.C.

While many states have acted to rein in their growing prison populations, federal prisons have stood out as notable exceptions, with the inmate total ballooning from 25,000 in 1980 to 219,000 in 2013. It's down to 210,736 as of last week, but many of the 121 federal lockups are full or overcrowded.

After many years of discussion, the Colson Task Force, named after the late prison reformer Chuck Colson, met for the first time at the Urban Institute, which is administering it. The nine-member panel was created at the insistence of retired U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), who presided over spending for the Justice Department, where the nearly $7 billion spent on prisons each year has been gobbling up more and more of the Attorney General's budget. That reduces funding available for things like anticrime grants to states and localities, as well as other crime-fighting priorities.

Watts' bipartisan panel is on a fast track by Washington standards, with a report due in a year. His vice chair, former Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV), said that Washington "should follow the example of the states" by coming up with "consensus-driven reform" that he and other task force members hope will reduce the number of federal prisoners while also cutting recidivism.

Both task force members and witnesses yesterday agreed generally that new approaches are needed, such as cutting back on mandatory minimum sentences that have packed federal facilities with drug offenders, and offering more and better services to former inmates---given that up to 95 percent of those now behind bars will get out some day.


C-SPAN: Proposed Changes to Criminal Justice System (VIDEO)


Isaac Fulwood retiring from U.S. Parole Commission; wouldn’t mind a selfie with Obama

There’s one issue, perhaps the only one, that Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on: reducing the population of the nation’s crowded and expensive prisons, partly through reducing sentences for low-level and nonviolent offenders.

One person who would be expected to be at the table for high-level strategizing on the issue is the chairman of the U.S. Parole Commission, former D.C. police chief Isaac Fulwood Jr. But Fulwood, who’s leaving the post this week after nearly six years as chairman, has yet to meet President Obama or have a one-on-one meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder, whose centerpiece initiative has been “smart on crime” prison reform, our colleague Sari Horwitz reports. (Oh, yes: The Parole Commission is part of the Justice Department.)


Note:  Parole in the federal system applies to those convicted prior to 1987.  In addition to offenders who committed federal crimes prior to 1987, there is a second group of offenders eligible for federal parole—those who violated the laws of the District of Columbia.  A third group of offenders eligible for parole are military offenders.  All other offenders are currently ineligible for parole.
The parole process begins at sentencing. Unless the court has specified a minimum time for the offender to serve, or has imposed an "indeterminate" type of sentence, parole eligibility occurs upon completion of one-third of the term. If an offender is serving a life sentence or a term or terms of 30 years or more he or she will become eligible for parole after 10 years.
The law says that the U.S. Parole Commission may grant parole if (a) the inmate has substantially observed the rules of the institution; (b) release would not depreciate the seriousness of the offense or promote disrespect for the law; and (c) release would not jeopardize the public welfare.  This is largely a subjective decision on the part the Commission and one that can be and often is unduly influenced by agencies of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)--the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example.  The Parole Commission, while technically operating under the umbrella of the DOJ, was established by legislation on May 13, 1930, as an independent board (presumably for the sake of justice and fairness, the stated goals of the Commission's mission statement).  In practice, however, nothing could be further from the truth. 
Criminal justice reform is an issue, of course:  perhaps parole should be reinstated, perhaps parole guidelines revised, perhaps the U.S. Parole Commission should follow its current guidelines (and there is proof that it doesn't)? 
At any rate, the current status of parole in the federal system (which can only be changed by the U.S. Congress) and the alleged independence of the Commission may be the reason why the Commission has been excluded from DOJ's (AG Eric Holder's) reform efforts.  Poor Mr. Fulwood.

18-23 March: Antiwar intervention in DC

Coming out of a meeting held in Washington, DC, on January 10, plans are coming together for an antiwar intervention in the U.S. capital.

A series of events will be held just as the ongoing U.S. war in Iraq -- recently restarted in a new form -- passes the 12-year mark since the March 2003 invasion.

Here's the schedule so far:

Wednesday, March 18: Peace gathering and fellowship.

Thursday, March 19th: Lobbying on Capitol Hill, followed by a tour of the war machine: homes and offices of war criminals.

Friday, March 20th: Afternoon and evening teach-in: Ending Current Wars, Ending the Institution of War.
This event will examine ISIS and U.S. warmaking in Western Asia and elsewhere; the damage militarism does to the natural environment, economies, and civil rights; and how the war system can be replaced with a peace system.

Saturday, March 21st: Protest at the White House, followed by march.

This nonviolent intervention was originally proposed by Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox and the Soapbox People's Network. It has been endorsed and will be supported by the ANSWER Coalition, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Baltimore Pledge of ResistanceCODEPINK, the Granny Peace Brigade of New York CityKnowDrones.comMilitary Families Speak Out, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, the Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare, the No Fear CoalitionPopular ResistanceUnited National Antiwar CoalitionVeterans For PeaceVoices for Creative Non-ViolenceWarIsACrime.orgWitness Against TortureWorld Beyond War, and World Can't Wait.

To endorse, volunteer, get involved or learn more, go to:
Contact Dede at
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January 31 Marks Global Day of Action Against Torture

With a lack of media coverage and little response from politicians since the release of the Senate's report on torture, human rights organizations and activists are planning rallies and various other events protesting against the use of torture.

In an effort to stand in solidarity with victims of torture, activist groups and media outlets are among the thousands of people across the world calling for action on Jan. 31. The decentralized day of action is an attempt to bring a greater understanding of the CIA's use of torture and keep the discussion going.

While mainstream media and the government are doing nothing, but trying to forget about the released report, this global day of action is an opportunity to "wake the public to tax-payer funded torture."

Some communities have planned protests and rallies, others have prepared street theater using reenactments of water-boarding and force-feeding to grab the publics attention and change the global conversation.

Help spread the word and follow the day of action using the hashtag #EndTorture on the many social media outlets.

For more information about the Global Day of Action Against Torture or to find an event near you, click here.


Manufacturing Terror: How the FBI Invents Some Plots, and Ignores Others, In the War on Freedom

After Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI was forced to re-prioritize, making counter-terrorism the Bureau’s main focus. More than 1,800 agents, almost a third of the total dealing with criminal cases from organized crime to insurance fraud, were transferred to terrorism and intelligence duties in the aftermath of the attacks. What 9/11 did, among other things, was to create a need for proof, via arrests, that the new State focus on terrorism was showing results.

We’ve all seen the headlines from mainstream media sources after arrests were made and press conferences were given by high level officials announcing another disrupted “terror plot.” Yet, when one investigates these cases, as many journalists and writers in the alternative press have done, we see the score isn't as it all appears – and when compared with similar cases where terror charges were not brought, a disturbing picture emerges.

The Seas of David and the Redefinition of Entrapment

In criminal law, a person is “entrapped” when s/he is induced or persuaded by law enforcement officers, or their agents, to commit a crime that s/he had no previous intent to commit.

Most Americans know there have been some dubious prosecutions in the FBI’s ongoing effort to thwart terror attacks on American soil. Unfortunately, it seems many Americans are too scared to care. The vast majority of these cases have involved Muslim Americans, a group that has never had much power in terms of American politics and less so in the wake of 9/11 and two wars in majority Muslim countries. My purpose isn't to dismiss these cases, but to show the slippery slope they represent: when one group gets targeted successfully, other marginalized groups usually follow.

A story that illustrates this slide is the group the media dubbed the Liberty City 7. Arrested in June 2006, this group, we were told, had taken an oath to Al Qaeda and planned a series of attacks to rival or even surpass 9/11. There were just a few problems with the narrative: five African-American and two Haitian men taken into custody were not Muslims, were facing dire economic circumstances (most were homeless), and the ostensible leader of the group, a colorful character named Narseal Batiste, seemed willing to say just about anything to get money out of the FBI informant who had created the plot out of whole cloth.

...There has also been a strange selectivity when it comes to who gets charged under terror laws. The Southern Poverty Law Center has for years publicized cases of white supremacist and militia groups plotting actions that don’t result in terrorism charges, even though they seem to meet the legal requirements. At the same time, animal rights activists, who have filmed animal abuses or committed some form of property damage, but never harmed people, have been charged with the gravest of offenses: terrorism.

Now let's jump to Houston where, several years ago, heavily redacted documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request showed that at the height of the Occupy movement, in October 2011, a group was planning to target “leaders” of the Occupy Houston encampment using sniper rifles. One might think the FBI could investigate the person or persons planning to assassinate American protesters peacefully exercising their Constitutional rights.


Shedding Light on Three Big Lies About Systemic Pesticides and Bees

Recently, a friend sent me the article "Bee Deaths Reversal: As Evidence Points Away From Neonics As Driver, Pressure Builds To Rethink Ban." The wordy title hinting that systemic pesticides are safe seemed suspect, but because the op-ed was published in Forbes, a reputable publication, I knew many would read it as bona fide truth. I would have too, if I hadn't studied bees and colony collapse disorder for the past eight years. I am the director of a documentary film called Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page. I owe my life to the bees in many respects.

Nowadays, an increasing amount of blatant misinformation is being planted in the media about honeybees and the systemic pesticides that are killing them. Unlike typical pesticides, which are applied topically, systemic pesticides are entrenched in the soil or embedded in the seed so that the poisons are taken up by the plant and transported to all its tissues, including roots, stems, leaves, pollen and nectar.

Just a few days before I saw the Forbes article, I'd spotted another pesticide-friendly article on The Huffington Post: "Bee Experts Dismantle Touted 'Harvard' Neonics-Colony Collapse Disorder Study As 'Activist Science.'" Sure enough, both pieces were written by the same person. Who is this person, and why the sudden interest in disputing the effects of neonicotinoids on declining bee populations?

...Let's set the record straight on some of the broad-stroke inaccuracies that Entine tries to pass off as truth about honeybees and neonics.


Federal fish agency opposes Shasta Dam raise

The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, fishing groups and environmentalists have been fighting a federal plan to raise Shasta Dam for many years, since the 18-1/2 foot proposed dam raise would flood many of the Tribe's remaining sacred sites and further imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Sacramento River.

The Tribe held a war dance at Shasta Dam in September 2004 to oppose the dam raise - and conducted another war dance in September 2014 to oppose the dam expansion and the Brown Water Plan to drain the Delta.

“Any raising of the dam, even a few feet, will flood some of our last remaining sacred sites on the McCloud River – sites we still use today,” said Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Chief and Spiritual Leader. "We can't be Winnemem any place else but the McCloud River. The dam raise is a form of cultural genocide."

“We pray that the spirit beings hear us and bring all of our helpers, from the high mountain meadows all of the way to the ocean,” she stated before the war dance began. “Our concern is the health of the waterways. We are here at the dam that blocks the salmon on a river that should be full of salmon.”

She described Shasta Dam as “a weapon of mass destruction” against the Winnemem Wintu and said the idea of dams is a “horrible archaic project.”


G.M.O. Labels for Food Proliferate Even as a Battle Over Them Rages

There are few industry debates as heated these days as the one about labeling foods that contain genetically modified ingredients.
And while interest groups and advocates wage war in state legislatures, on ballots and in Congress over what should be disclosed on product labels, products certified as not containing genetically modified organisms are proliferating on grocery shelves without any nationwide mandatory regulations.
Moreover, many manufacturers are nodding to the public debate, adding the phrase “non-G.M.O.” to their packaging without a verification process.

Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change, Poll Finds

WASHINGTON — An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future.
In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science that determined that humans caused global warming.

Young Navajos Stage 200 Mile Journey For Existence

At dawn on January 6, 2015, a group of young Diné (Navajo) women and their supporters gathered at sunrise near the fire department at the base of Dził Na’oodiłii (Huerfano Mountain). From there the group embarked on a 200-mile trek through eastern New Mexico—a tribute to the 150th anniversary of the tragic “Long Walk.”  Throughout this journey they have been raising awareness about the historical and present day challenges faced by Diné people and inspiring hopeful solutions to address these issues.
...The commemorated event occurred in 1864 that Colonel Christopher “Kit” Carson – under the command of General James Carleton – enforced a merciless, scorched earth policy to bring Diné people into submission. During this time nearly 9,000 Diné and 500 Mescalero Apache men, women, children, and elderlies were marched at gunpoint for 300 miles to a small patch of arid land known as Bosque Redondo, New Mexico. Many perished along the way.
During their four-year internment at this reservation “experiment”—known in Diné as Hwééldi or “the place of suffering”—hundreds died due to starvation, illness and physical violence. In 1868, high costs of rations and soldier commissions caused the federal government to disband the experiment and release them back to Diné Tah, the Navajo homeland.
“We are walking to honor the resiliency of our ancestors who 150 years ago were forced to march hundreds of miles in the dead of winter on a genocidal death march,” says Dana Eldridge, one of several female organizers of the walk. “They sacrificed and suffered so much so that we could live within these four sacred mountains. So we’re walking to honor them.”

Canada Casts Global Surveillance Dragnet

Canada’s leading surveillance agency is monitoring millions of Internet users’ file downloads in a dragnet search to identify extremists, according to top-secret documents.
The covert operation, revealed Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, taps into Internet cables and analyzes records of up to 15 million downloads daily from popular websites commonly used to share videos, photographs, music, and other files.
The revelations about the spying initiative, codenamed LEVITATION, are the first from the trove of files provided by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden to show that the Canadian government has launched its own globe-spanning Internet mass surveillance system.
According to the documents, the LEVITATION program can monitor downloads in several countries across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and North America. It is led by the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, Canada’s equivalent of the NSA. (The Canadian agency was formerly known as “CSEC” until a recent name change.)
The latest disclosure sheds light on Canada’s broad existing surveillance capabilities at a time when the country’s government is pushing for a further expansion of security powers following attacks in Ottawa and Quebec last year.

CODEPINK Attempts Citizen's Arrest Of Kissinger

Washington, DC –– On Thursday, January 29, CODEPINK protesters spoke out during Senate Armed Services Committee hearing attempting to perform a citizens’ arrest on Henry Kissinger. Holding handcuffs and large signs that read: KISSINGER: WAR CRIMINAL and ARREST KISSINGER FOR WAR CRIMES, activists read aloud a citizens’ arrest. In response, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Committee, called the human rights activists “lowlife scum” and said it was “the most disgraceful and despicable demonstration he had ever seen.”
“CODEPINK is really proud of our action in the Senate today, speaking out on behalf of the people of Indochina, China, East Timor and peace-loving people everywhere,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, “Henry Kissinger is responsible for the deaths of millions. He’s a murderer, a liar, a crook, and a thug, and should be tried at the Hague.”
“I chose to speak out during the Senate Arms Committee because I’m appalled that the Senate would bring in a war criminal to testify about ‘American leadership’ when the only things Henry Kissinger and Madeline Albright have shown leadership in is wreaking destruction upon other countries and murdering countless innocent civilians,” said 26-year-old CODEPINK National Coordinator Alli McCracken. “Is that the leadership we want to uphold as a nation and use to determine our current and future foreign policies? We need to stop rehashing these tired old war criminals and come up with a new foreign policy based on diplomacy and compassion –– two things Kissinger knows nothing about.”

Obama Gets An Incomplete On NSA Reform

President Barack Obama promised to reform the National Security Agency a year ago this month. Interviews and a report released Thursday show just how slow the going has been.

The new report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board, an independent agency within the executive branch, gave the administration an incomplete at best. Congress, meanwhile, gets a failing grade.

One of the privacy board's signature recommendations last January was to end the controversial NSA program that collects data on who Americans call and when. The privacy board said the program has "limited value" in fighting terrorism -- but Congress failed to pass a reform measure.

The board gave the administration credit for supporting a proposal to leave the call data in phone companies' hands. But it faulted the Obama administration for not taking the more proactive step of "unilaterally ending the telephone records program, which it could do at any time."

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has also called on the administration to take that step. Instead, the Justice Department has kept asking a court to renew approval of its bulk phone data collection program. Supporters say that while the program may not have definitely foiled any terror plots, it does have some value.


A record 125 people were exonerated of crimes in 2014. Here are 6 of their stories.

Cooperation with law enforcement helped increase the number of Americans absolved of previous criminal convictions to 125 in 2014 — a record high since the National Registry of Exonerations began tracking such cases in 1989.

The figure surpassed the previous record of 91 in 2012 and 2013.

The registry's report, released Tuesday, linked the rise in exonerations to special investigative teams that examine convictions based on coerced confessions, false testimony, and other instances of bad evidence. These units were particularly active in Houston and Brooklyn, where 40 people were exonerated for crimes ranging from drug possession to murder.

The first of these special units was founded in 2002, but at least 15 existed in 2014.

"I think there is a seachange in the thinking related to the fallibility of the criminal justice system,'' University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross, co-founder of the registry, told USA Today. "It turns out that [wrongful conviction] is a much more common problem than everybody realizes.''

Some other findings in the report:
  • Six of the people exonerated in 2014 had been sentenced to death — three in Ohio, two in North Carolina, and one in Louisiana. Each had been imprisoned for 30 years or more.
  • Forty-seven of the 125 defendants exonerated in 2014 had pled guilty.
  • Most exonerations in 2014 — 103 of 125 — were done without DNA evidence.
  • In about 54 percent of cases, the exonerations dropped some convictions but left others on a defendant's record.
  • There were exonerations in 27 states and some federal jurisdictions, including Washington, DC, in 2014.

If Obama Gets His Way, Sharing This Story Will Soon Be a Felony

On Jan. 20, this website published a story titled, "If This Is Your Password, Change It Immediately." The article included a list of the 25 personal passwords — "password" and "abc123" among them — most commonly found in databases of personal account information routinely leaked by hackers. The material came from SplashData, an internet security firm that seeks out vulnerable targets and reports on them to an often endangered public. The list of passwords appeared in various forms on outlets including CBS NewsNPR and the BBC, to name a few.

Later that night, President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address made the case for a new proposal to rewrite and tighten federal cybersecurity laws, so that no "foreign nation" or "hacker" would have the ability to "shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets or invade the privacy of American families. Especially our kids."
Inaction, he said, would leave the country "vulnerable" to attacks like the one launched against Sony Pictures Entertainment. Only by adopting this new language, Obama said, could Congress "continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe."
But the broad laws he proposed would not simply target shadowy foreign hackers. American bloggers and media companies would also be subject to felony cybercrime charges for disseminating hacked material. The statute would apply to normal Internet users too: If you, dear reader, saw the "bad passwords" article and passed it along to a friend over email, or posted the link to Reddit, or retweeted the article, or shared it on Facebook, then you too could face federal prosecution for "willfully" trafficking "in any password or similar information."
Does that sound insane? Surely it does. Is it a real possibility? With Republicans and Democrats both backing the bill, it surely is.

Poll shows giant gap between what public, scientists think

WASHINGTON (AP) — The American public and U.S. scientists are light-years apart on science issues. And 98 percent of surveyed scientists say it's a problem that we don't know what they're talking about.

Scientists are far less worried about genetically modified food, pesticide use and nuclear power than is the general public, according to matching polls of both the general public and the country's largest general science organization. Scientists were more certain that global warming is caused by man, evolution is real, overpopulation is a danger and mandatory vaccination against childhood diseases is needed.

In eight of 13 science-oriented issues, there was a 20-percentage-point or higher gap separating the opinions of the public and members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, according to survey work by the Pew Research Center. The gaps didn't correlate to any liberal-conservative split; the scientists at times take more traditionally conservative views and at times more liberal.

"These are big and notable gaps," said Lee Rainie, director of Pew's internet, science and technology research. He said they are "pretty powerful indicators of the public and the scientific community seeing the world differently."

In the most dramatic split, 88 percent of the scientists surveyed said it is safe to eat genetically modified foods, while only 37 percent of the public say it is safe and 57 percent say it is unsafe. And 68 percent of scientists said it is safe to eat foods grown with pesticides, compared with only 28 percent of the general public.

Ninety-eight percent of scientists say humans evolved over time, compared with 65 percent of the public. The gap wasn't quite as large for vaccines, with 86 percent of the scientists favoring mandatory childhood shots while 68 percent of the public did.

Eighty-seven percent of scientists said global warming is mostly due to human activity, while only half of the public did. The figures for scientists are slightly different than past academic studies because of wording of the question and the fact that AAAS members include many specialties, but they tell the same essential story, said Pew associate director Cary Funk.

What to do about climate change is another issue. Nearly two-thirds of scientists favored building more nuclear power plants, but only 45 percent of the public did. But more of the public favored offshore drilling for oil and fracking than scientists did.

More than four out of five scientists thought the growing world population will be a major problem, but just less than three out of five members of the public did.
Pew polled 2,002 adults in August and did an online survey of 3,748 AAAS members in the fall. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the public and 1.7 percentage points for the scientists.

In 2009, Pew asked only a handful of questions like these to both scientists and the public and the gap hasn't changed much since, Funk said.

"On the whole, as compared to most members of the public, scientists are likely drawing from a larger scientific knowledge base — and thinking more scientifically — about each of these issues," George Mason University communications professor Edward Maibach said in an email. "Therefore, their views appear to be more in line with a completely dispassionate reading of the risks versus the benefits."

Alan Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS, said the gap between the way the public and scientists look at issues is a cause for concern.

"Science is about facts; science is not about values," Leshner said. "Policies are made on facts and values and we want to make sure that the accurate, non-distorted facts are brought in to any kind of discussion."

The trouble is that scientists don't think the public knows the facts. The survey said 84 percent of the scientists said it is a major problem that "the public does not know very much about science" and another 14 percent said it is a minor problem.

And 97 percent of the scientists criticized the educational system. Three-quarters of the scientists said not enough science and math education is a major problem and another 22 percent said it was a minor one.

"It's not about being smart or dumb," Leshner said. "It's about whether, in fact, you understand the source of the fact and what the facts are."


Pew Research Center:
American Association for the Advancement of Science:
Journal Science:


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Will the Obama administration finally bring the CIA's torturers to justice?

The woman who will probably be the nation’s top lawyer opened the door to prosecuting the men and women responsible for the CIA’s torture program on Wednesday. And whether the President who nominated her likes it or not, she should act on it as soon as she’s in office.

President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, in her first Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, admitted that certain actions taken by the CIA constituted torture and were illegal. In an exchange with Senator Patrick Leahy in which he asked her if waterboarding was torture, she responded:
Lynch: “Waterboarding is torture, Senator.”
Leahy: “And thus illegal?”
Lynch: “And thus illegal.”
Given her comments, Lynch should immediately appoint a special prosecutor to seek charges against the CIA for waterboarding three detainees (and likely many more) as soon as she’s confirmed. Since there is no statute of limitations on torture, and the UN Convention Against Torture – ratified by the Senate and signed by President Reagan – requires that the United States prosecute violators, this should be an open and shut case for Lynch.


US Incarceration System Facilitates Breakdown of Society

"It'd be really hard to have a higher recidivism rate than we have in Cook County."

Maybe this is the place to start a brief meditation on changing the world, or at least Chicago . . . known to some of its residents as "Chiraq."

The speaker is Elena Qunitana, executive director of the Adler Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice, which, in partnership with Roosevelt University's Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, recently completed a study on Cook County's dysfunctional juvenile justice system.

What we're doing isn't working, justice-wise, order-wise, sanity-wise. The state of Illinois is bankrupt and yet its jails are full to bursting, at a cost, per occupant, equal to or greater than the cost of luxury suites at its ritziest hotels. And 90 percent of the teenagers who enter the system come back within three years of their release. This is no surprise: The system is a spiral of entrapment, especially for young men of color.


Section 215 of the Patriot Act Expires in June. Is Congress Ready?

You may have heard that the Patriot Act is set to expire soon. That’s not quite the case. The Patriot Act was a large bill, as were the reauthorizations that followed in 2005 and 2006. Not all of it sunsets. But three provisions do expire on June 1st: Section 215, the "Lone Wolf provision," and the "roving wiretap" provision.

All of these sections are concerning, but Section 215 takes the cake. It’s the authority that the NSA, with the FBI’s help, has interpreted to allow the U.S. government to vacuum up the call records of millions of innocent people. It’s also been the focus of most of the NSA reform efforts in Congress over the last year and a half. But if there were ever a time to reform the NSA, it’s now—because a vote for reauthorization, without comprehensive reform of NSA spying, will very clearly be a vote against the Constitution.


Leonard Peltier Interview (VIDEO)

The following aired on "West 57th Street" hosted by Steve Kroft (1992).

Brooklyn D.A. to expand wrongful convictions review

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has announced his intention to explore wrongful conviction claims in felony burglary and other non-homicide cases.

Thompson gave the keynote address at the 2015 New York State Bar Association's Annual Meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Focusing on wrongful convictions and the efforts by his administration to "get it right," Thompson highlighted a few of the recent cases of exoneration in Brooklyn including the respective cases of Jonathan Fleming and Derrick Hamilton. 

But Thompson has declared that his office will expand its review efforts beyond cases involving a homicidal occurrence — he is likely the first district attorney in the country to do so. 


Tell President Obama You Stand Behind his Veto of the Keystone XL!

The U.S. Senate just passed a bill that would force approval of the disastrous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, endangering the American heartland, worsening our dependence on fossil fuels and driving more climate chaos. President Obama has promised to veto this bill. Stand with the President as he delivers on his commitment to stopping this misguided bill.

Send Your Message Here

Church Committee anniversary brings call for review of intelligence agencies

The fortieth anniversary of the Church Committee on Jan. 27 triggered a call for new Congressional hearings on America’s intelligence agencies by seventeen former committee staff members. The United States Senate created the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations which became known as the Church Committee after its chairman, Senator Frank Church. The Church Committee hearings and reports provided the only genuine Congressional oversight of the intelligence apparatus of the United States during the twentieth century but its work was cut short after fourteen reports were issued.

The Church Committee tackled the assassination of President John Kennedy, a myriad of abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency, Watergate misdeeds, and COINTELPRO crimes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. J. Edgar Hoover died in 1972 and did not have to face public disclosure before the committee of the FBI’s massive, clandestine counterintelligence program.

President Gerald Ford tried to derail the Church Committee by establishing his own Rockefeller Commission but Ford’s ploy did not stop determined legislators. The Church Committee’s final report was issued on April 29, 1976 and closed its door on further public inquiry into the government’s dirty secrets. The committee lost momentum for disclosure after the Dec. 25, 1975 murder of CIA agent Richard Welch, whose death some blamed on the committee’s exposes.

Most of the information now known about COINTELPRO comes from two sources, the Freedom of Information Act and the Church Committee. The scope and magnitude of COINTELPRO far exceeded other abuses, such as Watergate, which gained more public attention.

The former Church Committee staff members have now issued a report through the Brennan Center for Justice calling for Congress to conduct a “comprehensive evaluation” of American spying. “Congress needs to demonstrate its ability to check executive branch overreach across the multiple programs and agencies, re-establish democratic controls over intelligence policies and ensure public accountability of intelligence practices,” said the report.

The former committee staff complain about current excesses by the intelligence community and focus their call for a new oversight panel on events since the Church Committee adjourned. However, little has been said in Washington, D.C. about the unfinished business of the original committee, which includes political prisoners convicted in COINTELPRO-tainted state court trials.

A prime example of a state trial manipulated by federal agents is the case of the Omaha Two, Edward Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, formerly David Rice. The men were leaders of a Black Panther affiliate group in Omaha and convicted after a controversial trial for the murder of a policeman. Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division were involved in the case.

The FBI misdeeds in the Omaha Two case included withholding a laboratory report on the identity of an anonymous caller who lured the policeman to his death. The role of ATF is less well documented, however, based on a newspaper photo it appears as though someone within ATF dusted Mondo’s pants with dynamite particles after he surrendered.

If Congress fails to take up the issue of COINTELPRO prisoners, imprisoned for over four decades, and if President Barack Obama continues to ignore the inmates’ plight, then the United Nations will have much to examine later this year when United States compliance with human rights treaties comes under periodic review.


40th Anniversary of Church Committee: Strengthening Intelligence Oversight

January 27, 2015
U.S. intelligence agencies are embroiled in scandal. Secret CIA torture programs and mass surveillance by the NSA are just two examples of the abuse of intelligence authority and the failure of current oversight structures in the last year.
Today, on the 40th anniversary of the formation of the Church Committee, 17 former Church Committee staff members have put forward key recommendations to help Congress bring intelligence activities and oversight in line with the law and with American values.

Read the Foreword

See the Recommendations

Download the Report

View on Scribd



Our Overreaction to Terrorist Attacks Like Paris Is Only Making Things Worse

The Brennan Center’s Michael German talked to Arun Kundnani and Ben Friedman about why framing the violent acts of a handful of marginalized individuals — such as the recent terrorist attacks in Paris — as an existential Muslim threat against western civilianization is not accurate or helpful to our national security.

Arun Kundnani, author of “The Muslims are Coming!” and an adjunct professor at New York University, pointed out that there is a disparity in how governments treat different forms of political violence. Muslims account for only a small percentage of the terrorism in Europe over the last several years. In fact, most politically-motivated violence there is carried out by nationalist and sectarian groups, yet the government and the media don’t treat those threats the same. “Ultimately, it is about race,” Kundnani said.

“A similar phenomenon occurs in the United States,” German said, “where most media outlets covered the distant Paris attacks far more closely than domestic shooting sprees by white supremacist Fraizer Glenn Miller, or anti-government extremists like Curtis Wade Holley, Eric Frein, and Jerad Miller, who assassinated four police officers in separate instances last year.”

Ben Friedman, research fellow in defense and homeland security studies at the Cato Institute, added that inflating the threat of terrorism makes it easier for intelligence officials to obtain new resources and authorities. “It’s unfortunate that the same people who are receiving the funds from taxpayers for national security are the same ones telling us about the threat,” Friedman said.

Watch the interviews here.

True or False, the Power of Confessions is Great

Over the next several months, defense lawyers for Pedro Hernandez will seek to undercut the central evidence against him: his videotaped confession to having killed 6-year-old Etan Patz.

They will depict the confession as inaccurate when set against the known facts of the infamous 1979 missing child case. They will portray Hernandez, a onetime bodega clerk in the Manhattan neighborhood where Patz lived, as mentally ill. They will paint the detectives who gained the confession as manipulative and coercive.
It's a daunting assignment, but here's what may well be scaring the lawyers the most: They could succeed in every aspect of their attack on the reliability of the confession and still not win an acquittal.

Such is the power of confessions, true or false, for American juries. A nascent body of scholarship, driven in part by an escalating number of wrongful convictions in cases with false confessions, has begun to document just how persuasive confessions can be.


Locked Up In Louisiana: Inside America’s Bloodiest Prison. Penitentiary celebrates its hellish past in a museum

The Louisiana State Penitentiary boasts such pleasant nicknames as “Alcatraz of the South” and “The Bloodiest Prison in America,” but when pulled up on Google maps, it has a 4.4 star rating. “Was the loveliest place on earth. Loved it!” one reviewer writes. “[S]uch a fun time!” another gushes.

These, of course, are not written by inmates from inside the prison’s infamous walls, but by visitors to the Angola Museum, a low white building that draws travelers down miles of back roads north from Baton Rouge and dumps them off at an unlikely attraction: the looming gates of the country’s largest maximum security facility.


Sweden's Remarkable Prison System Has Done What the U.S. Won't Even Consider

The darkest manifestation of American exceptionalism may be its prison system.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world: It has only 5% of the world's population, but one-quarter of its prisoners. U.S. prisons are dangerously overcrowded, house 10 times as many mentally ill individuals as state hospitals, keep people locked up for unfathomably long periods of time, are plagued by inmate abuse and hold a far greater percentage of the country's black population than South Africa did under apartheid. Nearly two-thirds of the inmates released every year return to prison; crippling discrimination in employment and housing encumbers the ones who manage to function. This is all to say that if you are convicted of an imprisonable crime in the U.S., you generally get shown little mercy.

After decades of bipartisan consensus on criminal justice policy, there are some signs that the federal government thinks that the highly punitive system of mass incarceration seems to have gotten out of hand, and some states are making gestures toward making prisons less crowded. But in order to understand how best to fix these problems, one must look beyond policy tweaks and consider the underlying moral philosophy that explains why a society sends people to prison in the manner that they do. In the U.S., that philosophy is one of inflicting punishment and pain.

In Nordic countries like Sweden, which have far lower incarceration and crime rates, prison is about rehabilitation. And it works far more effectively.


Another Kind of Isolation: BOP tightens the rules at secretive “Communication Management Units”

In 2006 and 2008, the Bureau of Prisons quietly created new restrictive units for terrorists or other inmates they feared might coordinate crimes from behind bars. The Communication Management Units (CMUs) were designed to more tightly monitor and restrict inmates’ communication with the outside world. The units, at Terre Haute, Indiana and Marion, Illinois, operated largely in secret, without any formal policies or procedures in place — until last week.

On January 22, the Bureau of Prisons finalized rules that had been nearly five years in the making regarding who can be sent to the CMUs and how the facilities should operate. But prisoner advocates claim the new rules impose even stricter limits on contact without providing a legitimate way for inmates to appeal being placed under such restrictions.

“What this rule does is codify the harsh communication restrictions in place,” said Alexis Agathocleous, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights and lead counsel in a federal lawsuit over the units. “What [it] doesn’t do is correct numerous procedural violations. When you draw your designation criteria so broadly and you don’t have robust processes for prisoners to protest, you create a situation that’s ripe for abuse.”


Marissa Alexander Released From Prison

Supporters of Marissa Alexander in Jacksonville, across the US, and all around the world are overjoyed that Alexander has been released from jail after serving 3 years behind bars for defending her life.  In 2010, Alexander, a black mother of three from Jacksonville, Florida, was forced to defend her life from a life-threatening attack by her estranged husband by firing a single warning shot that caused no injuries.  State Prosecutor Angela Corey prosecuted Alexander, pursuing a 60 year mandatory minimum sentence.  On November 24, 2014, Alexander accepted a plea deal that included time served of nearly 3 years in prison, 65 additional days in the Duval County jail, and 2 years of probation while under home detention.  Today marks the end of her time behind bars.

How Nebraskans are winning the fight against Keystone XL

Art Tanderup is a farmer and retired schoolteacher. He and his wife, Helen, live in Antelope County, Neb., just outside the town of Neligh along the eastern Sandhills and over the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies water to over 80 percent of High Plains residents — around 2.3 million people. A few years ago, a representative from TransCanada told the Tanderups that the Keystone XL pipeline would run directly through their property, offering — as they had other landowners in the region — money to sign an “easement,” or legal right of way for the company to build on their farm. After researching the pipeline and the tar sands, Art became involved with Bold Nebraska, which has been a leading voice in the fight against the pipeline since its founding in 2010. Since that time, Art has been active in the movement against the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska and at the national level, working with the Cowboy Indian Alliance and advocating against the pipeline in Washington, D.C. Last fall, Tanderup Farms hosted Willie Nelson, Neil Young and thousands from around the country for the “Harvest of Hope” concert, a benefit for Bold Nebraska, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Cowboy Indian Alliance.


CIA Whistleblower Faces 100 Years in Prison for Talking to NY Times Reporter

A former CIA case officer has been convicted for telling a New York Times reporter details concerning a reckless CIA operation that potentially sped up Iran’s nuclear advancement. Although the case against the CIA whistleblower was largely circumstantial and lacking evidence, former case officer Jeffrey Sterling faces a maximum sentence of 100 years in prison for speaking to New York Times reporter James Risen. Under threat of arrest, Risen tenaciously refused to reveal his sources to the government.


What the U.S. spends on imprisonment vs. education, in one startling GIF

Hardly a day goes by without a member of the media or policy world pronouncing that America's education system is in dire straits.

There are constant laments over how poorly the U.S. fares by international standards, its failure to produce literate students and its unsightly levels of racial segregation. There's a massive debate over how to overcome these problems, but there's no doubt that at least one factor would help: more money.

But where would the money come from? America's broken and bloated prison system might be a good start.

Keeping someone alive in prison is expensive — much more so than educating them.


Why Are IQ Scores Still Being Used To Determine Who Is Fit To Be Executed?

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled that prisoners suffering from “mental retardation” — a now outdated term — could not face the death penalty in the 2002 case Atkins v. Virginia, debates about whether a felon qualifies for execution have often revolved around a single number: an IQ score. On Tuesday, Georgia prisoner Warren Hill was executed for the 1990 beating death of a fellow inmate. His attorneys argued unsuccessfully that his IQ of 70 disqualified him for the punishment. This evening, Texas is set to execute Robert Ladd for beating a woman to death with a hammer in 1996. His attorney has pointed out that Ladd’s IQ of 67 would disqualify him from execution in most other states.

Last May, the Supreme Court built on the Atkins decision by ruling that Florida could not exclusively use a simple IQ cut-off when it determined who was fit for execution. “An IQ score is an approxi­mation, not a final and infallible assessment of intellectual functioning,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, demanding a more holistic approach by medical professionals. “Intellectual disability is a condition, not a number.”

But how did IQ numbers become so central in death penalty cases in the first place? And why, even after the Supreme Court challenged their usefulness, are we still hearing about them?


TPP: the worst trade deal you've never heard of‏

The TPP is the largest—and worst—trade deal you’ve never heard of, having been devised in secret by representatives of some of the world’s largest corporations. It’s so big and has the potential to do so much damage, it’s been likened to “NAFTA on steroids.”

Tribes ask Obama to deny Keystone XL permit

RAPID CITY –– The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association on Jan. 14 urged U.S. President Barack Obama to veto any legislation in favor of TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and to reject the Canadian company’s application for a Presidential Permit to build the line across the binational border.

The company wants to add another 1,179 miles to its pipeline system in the United States, connecting the tar-sands mines of Alberta Province to refineries and export terminals on the Gulf of Mexico, by running through 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty Territory in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Association Chairman John Yellowbird Steele, President of Oglala Sioux Tribe, sent an official letter to Obama expressing tribal concerns about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline’s impact on ancestral homelands.

He warned of the impacts the pipeline could have on sacred sites, cultural resources, natural resources and water rights protected by treaty and other agreements.


Castro demands Guantanamo Bay in return for US-Cuba diplomatic deal

Cuba has demanded the US hand back the Guantanamo Bay military base before relations with Washington are normalised.

In a speech, President Raul Castro also called for the lifting of the US trade embargo and Cuba's removal from a terror list.

Last month the two countries announced a thaw in relations, agreeing to restore diplomatic ties. They were severed in 1961.

High-level talks were held last week.

A Congressional delegation arrived in Havana to begin negotiations aimed at reopening embassies in the two countries' capitals.

Meanwhile, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro appeared to signal his approval for the political rapprochement.


57 Charges of Child Abuse and Assault to be Leveled Against Drunken Hockey Fans Who Sprayed Native Youth with Beer

Breaking News
RAPID CITY— Some 57 charges of child abuse and assault reportedly will be filed against the drunken hockey fans who subjected 57 American Indian students to racially-charged taunts the included spraying the students with beer and lacing them with racial slurs, according to unnamed sources.

This news comes on the heels of a meeting held this afternoon, Wednesday, January 28, 2015, in Rapid City, South Dakota with a group of parents of the students, school officials, Oglala Sioux Tribal officials, law enforcement, the general manager of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center and city officials from Rapid City.

A busload of parents took the one hour and half bus ride and arrived to meet with the Rapid City officials to discuss the incident and to seek justice for their children. Some are calling on the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring hate crime charges against the perpetrators.

The meeting was held one day after the Rapid City Police Department opened a formal investigation into the incident that occured last Saturday night at a Rapid City Rush hockey game.

The names of the perpetrators who assaulted the young tribal students have not been released to the media at press time.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

State to pay $40K to anti-drilling group over terror listing

— The state of Pennsylvania agreed to pay about $40,000 to an anti-gas drilling group that was erroneously characterized in security bulletins as a potential terror threat.

The settlement terms between the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition were released Friday. The Associated Press obtained the document through an open-records request.

The gas drilling coalition's lawsuit said the bulletins characterized the group as a possible threat to infrastructure without evidence. A private contractor, the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, produced the reports under a one-year, $103,000 contract.

Then-Gov. Ed Rendell later apologized for the monitoring of peaceful citizens' groups, and his homeland security director resigned. The institute's contract was not renewed.
The state did not admit liability under the Jan. 15 settlement, but it agreed to destroy all copies of the so-called Pennsylvania Intelligence Bulletins. The watchdog group agreed it wouldn't make disparaging remarks about the state agency or its officials.

The security bulletins were issued several times a week and sent to hundreds of people, most of them in law enforcement and private industry. State police have said the bulletins included information taken out of context, some of the analysis was biased and their internal analysis concluded there was no threat to public safety.

The director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency cleared the coalition of wrongdoing in a letter dated Dec. 18 and released by the group's lawyer this week.

The company and its co-director, Mike Perelman, were earlier dismissed as defendants in the coalition's lawsuit, but coalition attorney Paul Rossi has said he is appealing.  Source:  

Read more here:

Hockey fans hurl beer and racial slurs, chasing dozens of Native American kids from game

A group of Native American students said that they were forced to leave a hockey game in South Dakota over the weekend after men in a skybox poured beer on them and targeted them with racial slurs.

In a Facebook post, Justin Poor Bear explained that his child was one of the 57 American Horse School students who he accompanied to the Rush hockey game in Rapid City on Saturday night. Poor Bear said that men in a skybox at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center poured beer down onto the students, who were sitting in a rented suite.

“They were getting drunk and around the third quarter they were talking crap to our kids and throwing down beer on some of them, including our staff and students … telling our students to go back to the rez,” Poor Bear wrote.
Eventually school staff decided to leave the game early for the safety of the students.
“The harassment they received in there [SIC] young lives, something they should have never went thru tonight, it’s child abuse, they went thru racism tonight,” Poor Bear observed.


Scotland Just Announced An Indefinite Ban On Fracking

The Scottish government has announced that it will place a temporary ban on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, the Guardian reported Wednesday.

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing reportedly told the country’s parliament that the ban would allow for time for the government to conduct a public health assessment on the process. The decision and rationale closely resembles that of former New York Governor David Paterson, who in 2008 imposed a moratorium on fracking in the state pending a full-scale public health study. That moratorium lasted six years, and ended with current Gov. Andrew Cuomo banning the practice.

Fracking is a technique used by drilling companies to make oil and gas flow more easily out of the ground. It involves blasting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand, and chemicals underground to crack, or “fracture,” underground shale rock, thereby releasing oil and gas to flow back to the surface.