Sunday, May 31, 2015

Senate Votes to Consider House Bill on Surveillance

WASHINGTON — In a rare Sunday night session, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to begin a debate on a bill passed by the House to curtail a national security surveillance program approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But the law that authorized the program was set to expire at midnight in the face of continuing opposition from Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky.
The 77-to-17 vote was a remarkable turnabout — grudgingly approved by the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentucky Republican — just a week after the Senate narrowly turned the bill away at his behest. Mr. McConnell, in a desperate attempt to keep the surveillance program going, encouraged senators to vote for a bill that he still found deficient.

Residential schools findings point to 'cultural genocide,' commission chair says

At least 6,000 aboriginal children died while in the residential school system, says Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Sinclair, who has been tasked with studying the legacy of the residential schools, says that the figure is just an estimate and is likely much higher. Residential schools were established in the 19th century and the last ones closed in 1996.


French Officials Reject Hopi's Attempt To Stop Sale Of Sacred Items

The Hopi Tribe has lost another overseas battle over sacred ceremonial items. French government officials have turned down the Hopi Tribe’s latest request to stop Monday’s sale. It’s the sixth such legal challenge the tribe has lost in the past three years.
The Hopi consider their “katsina friends” to be living spirits. And the Hopi Chairman said to lose one is to lose a loved one.
Attorney Pierre Ciric represents the tribe. He filed this request with a French government agency that has the power to suspend the sale. He said previously they tried to argue in civil court.
"Here it’s an actual government entity that states policy from the French government that says U.S. tribes do not exist legally speaking, so they cannot appear before us," Ciric said.
Ciric called the decision "discriminatory" and "disconcerting." The Hopi, along with the entire Arizona congressional delegation, has called on the U.S. Justice Department to block these sales. Another auction is scheduled for June 10th.

Trauma May Be Woven Into DNA of Native Americans

Trauma is big news these days. Mainstream media is full of stories about the dramatic improvements allowing science to see more clearly how trauma affects our bodies, minds and even our genes. Much of the coverage hails the scientific connection between trauma and illness as a breakthrough for modern medicine. The next breakthrough will be how trauma affects our offspring.

The science of epigenetics, literally “above the gene,” proposes that we pass along more than DNA in our genes; it suggests that our genes can carry memories of trauma experienced by our ancestors and can influence how we react to trauma and stress. The Academy of Pediatrics reports that the way genes work in our bodies determines neuroendocrine structure and is strongly influenced by experience. [Neuroendocrine cells help the nervous and endocrine (hormonal) system work together to produce substances such as adrenaline (the hormone associated with the fight or flight response.] Trauma experienced by earlier generations can influence the structure of our genes, making them more likely to “switch on” negative responses to stress and trauma.



Sainthood for founder of California missions angers Native American groups

Tribal chairwoman Louise Miranda Ramirez of the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation joined members of several Native American groups in a protest on Easter Sunday at the historic Carmel Mission in Northern California, once the headquarters of the mission system founded by Franciscan priest Junipero Serra, who is buried there.

The gathering sought to honor their ancestors buried at the landmark mission and protest plans to canonize Serra, the devout Franciscan priest who converted thousands of previously uncontacted Indians to Catholicism, forcibly stripping them of their kinship ties, culture and languages in the process.

“We lost everything” because of Serra, said Miranda Ramirez, who traces her ancestors directly to the Carmel Mission. “We were not allowed to be with our people. … We lost contact with cousins … We lost the family ties … Our language was gone.”

She is now among hundreds of tribal activists the length of California stepping up opposition to the decision by Pope Francis to canonize the Mallorca-born priest as the centerpiece of his first visit to the United States as pontiff in September.


Native American Tribes Declare Sovereignty, Break Away from State of Maine

Due to Governor Paul LePage launching direct political and environmental attacks against the Penobscot, Micmac and Passamaquoddy tribes of Maine, leaders of those tribes have recalled their representatives from the state legislature and are asserting their sovereignty from the State of Maine. “The Maine Indian Land claims Settlement act has failed and we cannot allow ourselves to continue down the path,” Chief Francis said. “We’re saying it’s a failed social experiment.”

In August of 2011, Governor LePage signed an Executive Order recognizing a “special relationship” between the sovereign State of Maine, and the sovereign tribes within the State. In this order, the Governor instructed all State agencies to include a tribal liaison, whose role would be to facilitate communication and direct policy in all areas of State jurisdiction in such a way as to include the voice and interest of native peoples. The Order instructs that “the State and Tribes should work together as one,” and Tribal interests should be heeded when developing policies and procedures “on matters that significantly or uniquely affect those tribes.”


Rand Paul and Ron Wyden to call for release of redacted 9/11 report

Sens. Rand Paul and Ron Wyden are teaming up to call for the public release of 28 classified pages from a 2002 intelligence report on the 9/11 attacks — pages that have taken on near-totemic significance for many who believe the U.S. government has yet to fully reveal what it knows about the 2001 assault on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Read more:

John Sayles Will Need 13 Young Indian Actors for Film About Carlisle Indian School

John Sayles is known for making affecting, critically acclaimed films, among them Matewan, Eight Men Out, Passion Fish, and Lone Star. He recently announced that his next project will be To Save the Man, a film about the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

The title comes from the dictum of Capt. Richard H. Pratt, the school's founder: "Kill the Indian, save the man."

Pratt will be featured in the film, and played by a well-known actor. Maggie Renzi, Sayles' partner and the film's producer, told Peninsula Daily News that she and Sayles would soon be conducting a nationwide search for 13 young Native actors, ages 14-22, to portray Carlisle students.

The former Carlisle facility, in Pennsylvania, is now the U.S. Army War College—a circumstance that prevents Sayles from filming To Save the Man on the original location. He and Renzi have annnounced that they will make their movie in Port Townsend, Washington.


Fatal police shootings in 2015 approaching 400 nationwide least 385 people shot and killed by police nationwide during the first five months of this year, more than two a day, according to a Washington Post analysis. That is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete.

“These shootings are grossly under­reported,” said Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement. “We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information.”


Critics Blast ‘Compromises’ As Patriot Act Barrels Toward Sunset

With the sunset of key spy powers on the near horizon and lawmakers scrambling to save them, privacy and internet freedom groups are dialing up the pressure on Congress to end mass surveillance as we know it. The Senate will return to Washington, D.C. for a rare session on Sunday, on the heels of a week-long Memorial Day recess. With sections of the Patriot Act barreling toward a 12am June 1 expiration, lawmakers are reportedly scrambling to come up with a last-minute deal to save the law after a series of Senate votes on Friday failed to resolve an impasse. The debate over the National Security Agency's (NSA) spy powers has some senators pushing to kill the Patriot Act entirely and others advocating for "clean" re-authorization.


June 6: Picket Governor Cuomo`s NYC Office for Robert Seth Hayes

Picket Governor Cuomo`s NYC Office
Saturday, June 6, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
==> 633 THIRD AVE. btw E. 40th & E. 41st <==
nr. #7, 4, 5, 6, S, D, F & 42nd St. cross town bus 

Robert Seth Hayes is one of the longest held political prisoners in the US, currently in
his 42nd year of incarceration. He is 66 years old and suffers from multiple chronic and concerning medical problems. We waged a medical campaign for him a few months ago regarding rapid and concerning weight loss as well as poorly controlled diabetes. Neither of these concerns has been addressed to date. NYS DOCCS states on its website that denial of adequate medical care is a violation of a person`s eighth amendment constitutional rights, so please help demand that Seth be provided with proper care.

Since we began our campaign, Seth`s medical situation has actually worsened. He has a cough with shortness of breath and a mass in the upper left quadrant of his abdomen which puts pressure on his diaphragm, increasing his difficulty breathing. He has also developed three lumps on his chest. He has not been evaluated or treated for these symptoms.

We must keep the pressure on and be consistent, insistent and persistent to make sure we do not lose yet another of our beloved freedom fighters due to deliberate medical neglect.

On Tuesday, 6/9 and Wednesday, 6/10 please call:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo at (518) 474-8390 x2
Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci,
NYS Department of Corrections at (518) 457-8134

On Thursday, 6/11 and Friday, 6/12, please fax (you can use a free online fax service like if needed):
Governor Cuomo at Fax: (518) 486-4466
Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci at Fax: (518) 457-0076

State who you are calling about and include his prisoner #: Robert Seth Hayes,
#74-A-2280 at Sullivan Correctional Facility;

Say that you are requesting oversight of the medical team at Sullivan and DOCCS Health Services as well as:
1) an MRI of his abdomen to determine what the mass is;
2) an examination of the lumps on his chest;
3) an examination by an endocrinologist for his diabetes;
4) a physician`s order for a diabetic diet.

For more info: • • 917-544-1577

"Crying Earth Rise Up" Now Available on DVD

Prairie Dust Films and Owe Aku are pleased to announce that Crying Earth Rise Up is now available on DVD, BluRay and Digital Download on our website ( We also offer a downloadable screening toolkit, educational resources and teaching guides to help further the conversation.

Please spread the word to individuals, organizations, libraries or universities to help bring the film to new audiences. We are excited to be on the road with Crying Earth Rise Up and to share it with those working on water protection and energy policy issues.

"I think everyone is America needs to watch this documentary and ask why uranium is still mined? Excellent work you've done bringing this issue to a much broader light."-comment from PBS viewer

For more information visit: or

Julian Assange Speaks Of TPP, NSA & His Own Future

So the alternative proposal, which is something that was in the USA FREEDOM Act, which is pretty misnamed—it is a sort of milder version of the USA PATRIOT Act, in some ways. Instead, Verizon and the other—AT&T and other big telcos will hold the information, ready for the National Security Agency. But, you know, it doesn’t make much of a difference if that’s an automated system. It’s just—you know, 80 percent of the National Security Agency is outsourced anyway, in terms of the management of its data. In this case, if it has automatic connections to AT&T and Verizon, there’s no difference in terms of its searching ability. Now, in terms of whether there’s warrants that are used for searches, it is perhaps an aid, because the companies could be made legally liable—that’s up to Congress—for not insisting on a warrant to access that information.

Watch more from our Julian Assange interview: Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5

Department Of Justice Flying Secret Airplane Fleet Over American Cities

When a friend happened to spot a surveillance flight over his neighborhood, it led Sam Richards, an independent journalist, to uncover a fleet of secret airplanes registered to fake corporations apparently created by the Department of Justice. While their purpose remains unknown, Richards has uncovered 100 of the aircraft and traced regular flights over major American cities. Richards, who writes under the nom de plume Sam Renegade, first published his findings on his Twitter account, @MinneapoliSam, before gathering them into a report on Medium. In his report, published on Monday, he outlines how each of the planes is registered to a fake corporation with a three-letter acronym for a name, such as “OBR Leasing,” which doesn’t seem to otherwise exist as a viable business from Internet or public records searches. Richards reveals that dozens of these aircraft, from front corporations like “FVX Research” and “KQM Aviation,” are registered at the same Bristow, Virginia, post office boxes used for planes which are openly registered to the DOJ.


Battle Lines in G.O.P. Set Stage for Surveillance Vote

WASHINGTON — Since 2011, when Republicans took control of the House, Congress has lurched from one deadline to the next, as Republicans and Democrats have sparred bitterly over funding for the government, the ability to lift the debt ceiling and other policy matters.
But unlike those fights, the Senate’s showdown this weekend over the future of the government’s dragnet of American phone records is not a result of a partisan fracas. It is an ideological battle within the Republican Party, pitting the Senate majority leader against the speaker of the House and, in the Senate, newcomers against long-serving members, and defense hawks against a rising tide of younger, more libertarian-minded members often from Western states.
Senate leaders are expected to try to assemble a compromise surveillance bill on Sunday that can get the required votes to proceed before the authorizing law expires Monday. President Obama and his director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., added more pressure with sharp statements on Friday and Saturday calling for immediate approval of a surveillance bill passed by the House.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Indigenous Leaders Demand France Stop Sale Of Sacred Artifacts

Hopi tribal leaders and Arizona's members of Congress are asking U.S. law enforcement to stop the sale of about a dozen sacred Hopi artifacts at a Paris auction house in June. The Hopi Tribe contends the auction house is illegally selling the spiritual objects, known as Katsina Friends, and is urging U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to help recover them. The items resemble masks and are used during religious ceremonies and dances to invoke ancestral spirits. They are communally owned, rarely displayed and never supposed to leave the reservation. This is the sixth time the French auction house, Estimations Ventes aux Encheres, has sold objects sacred to Native American tribes. It has argued that the items legally belong to collectors, and a Paris court has ruled that such sales are legal.


On Patriot Act Renewal and USA Freedom Act: Glenn Greenwald Talks With ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer

Even in the security-über alles climate that followed 9/11, the Patriot Act was recognized as an extreme and radical expansion of government surveillance powers. That’s why “sunset provisions” were attached to several of its key provisions: meaning they would expire automatically unless Congress renewed them every five years. But in 2005 and then again in 2010, the Bush and Obama administrations demanded their renewal, and Congress overwhelmingly complied with only token opposition from civil libertarians.

That has all changed in the post-Snowden era. The most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act are scheduled to “sunset” on June 1, and there is almost no chance for a straight-up, reform-free authorization. The Obama White House has endorsed the so-called “reform” bill called the USA Freedom Act, which passed the House by an overwhelming majority. Yet the bill fell three votes short in the Senate last week, rendering it very unclear what will happen as the deadline rapidly approaches.


If we make it, the Patriot Act Sunsets 6/1

Congress put expiration dates on the PATRIOT Act for a reason: when emergency powers become permanent, a piece of democracy dies.

Now, the Senate has a choice. They can renew mass spying. Or they can let the NSA’s PATRIOT Act powers expire, by doing the simplest thing ever: nothing.

And unless we make them, they won’t do it. Click here to give them a piece of your mind (again!) with a phone call or email – it matters today more than ever!
Why? Well, in narrow terms, if Congress doesn’t renew section 215 of the PATRIOT Act by 11:59pm on Sunday, the NSA has to stop tracking Americans’ phone calls, or use a weaker legal framework to do so.

And because the NSA’s activities are secret, this win *could* mean much more than we realize. Ending phone metadata collection may be only the tip of the victory iceberg.

Even better, this will be the first major rebuke of the NSA, the first clear step towards curtailing their powers since the Snowden revelations began.

This is a fight of our lives. People hate the Patriot Act — it’s what the NSA has used to violate the Constitution and monitor our private lives day in and day out for the past 14 years. But, after our epic outcry and a showdown last week, we’re on the verge of reaching a milestone that's always seemed out of reach: the Patriot Act is poised to sunset at midnight on June 1st. Now, the NSA's shills are making a final attempt this Sunday at the 11th hour to re-up on the Patriot Act. We need you more than ever to help secure this first historic move away from mass surveillance.

Ross Ulbricht, Creator of Silk Road Website, Is Sentenced to Life in Prison

Ross W. Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, a notorious online marketplace for the sale of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other illegal drugs, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
Mr. Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced by the judge, Katherine B. Forrest, for his role as what prosecutors described as “the kingpin of a worldwide digital drug-trafficking enterprise.”
Mr. Ulbricht had faced a minimum of 20 years in prison on one of the counts for which he was convicted. But in handing down a much longer sentence, Judge Forrest told Mr. Ulbricht that “what you did in connection with Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric.”

Friday, May 29, 2015

Honor Leonard Peltier on 40th Anniversary of Shootout at Oglala

26th June 2015 6pm-8pm
Frank Bramhall Park
Willow Glen,
San Jose, CA
Willow St. & Camino Ramon St.
off of Britton Ave.
next to the baseball diamond
& under the trees
at the picnic benches

Join us as we gather together to honor Leonard Peltier, an Honorable Leader and Native Rights Activist, and commemorate the Lakota people who were murdered on Pine Ridge during the Reign of Terror, on the 40th anniversary of the shootout which led to his wrongful conviction and imprisonment!

Speakers & Performers:
* Black Berets por la Justicia, San Jose, CA - Drumming & Singing
* Izcalli, Host Mexica/Azteca dance group, - Morgan Hill, CA
Edward Morillo,San Juan Bautista Ohlone - Spiritual Adviser
* Roberto Tinoco Duran, Purepecha - performer/artist
* Manuel Ortega, Blackstone clan
* William Underbaggage, Lakota, from Pine Ridge

This is a potluck. Please bring something to share.

Sponsored by:Silicon Valley Leonard Peltier Support Group
for more info contact Donna Wallach
(h) 408-557-8824 (cell) 408-569-6608 email:

Inside NSA, Officials Privately Criticize “Collect It All” Surveillance

AS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS struggle to agree on which surveillance programs to re-authorize before the Patriot Act expires, they might consider the unusual advice of an intelligence analyst at the National Security Agency who warned about the danger of collecting too much data. Imagine, the analyst wrote in a leaked document, that you are standing in a shopping aisle trying to decide between jam, jelly or fruit spread, which size, sugar-free or not, generic or Smucker’s. It can be paralyzing.

“We in the agency are at risk of a similar, collective paralysis in the face of a dizzying array of choices every single day,” the analyst wrote in 2011. “’Analysis paralysis’ isn’t only a cute rhyme. It’s the term for what happens when you spend so much time analyzing a situation that you ultimately stymie any outcome …. It’s what happens in SIGINT [signals intelligence] when we have access to endless possibilities, but we struggle to prioritize, narrow, and exploit the best ones.”

The document is one of about a dozen in which NSA intelligence experts express concerns usually heard from the agency’s critics: that the U.S. government’s “collect it all” strategy can undermine the effort to fight terrorism. The documents, provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, appear to contradict years of statements from senior officials who have claimed that pervasive surveillance of global communications helps the government identify terrorists before they strike or quickly find them after an attack.


Initiative Aims to End U.S. Supreme Court Justices’ Life Tenure

Come to Terms, a new initiative launched Wednesday by the watchdog organization Fix the Court, aims to replace the system of lifetime tenure for justices of the U.S. Supreme Court with a single, fixed term of 18 years. “The current system of lifetime appointments and sporadic retirements is broken and a far cry from its original intent,” said Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, in a press release. “Lifetime appointments were supposed to shield Supreme Court justices from the influence of partisan politics. Instead, under Chief Justice John Roberts, we have a court with the most 5-4 decisions in our nation’s history.” The initiative claims the proposal is supported by “two-thirds of American primary voters across party lines, as well as by a broad coalition of constitutional scholars and legal experts.” Come to Terms is gathering signatures for a petition calling on the next justice appointed to the court to pledge not to serve longer than 18 years.

U.S. Removes Cuba From Terrorism List

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday removed Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, a crucial step in normalizing ties between Washington and Havana and the latest progress in President Obama’s push to thaw relations between the United States and the island nation.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry rescinded Cuba’s designation as a terrorism sponsor at the end of a 45-day congressional notification period, which began on April 14 when Mr. Obama announced his intention to remove Cuba from the list.
The move “reflects our assessment that Cuba meets the statutory criteria for rescission,” Jeff Rathke, the State Department spokesman, said in a statement.
“While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions,” Mr. Rathke said, “these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation.”

How America’s Death Penalty Ends

The decision Wednesday by the state of Nebraska to abolish the death penalty suggests that what seemed unimaginable as recently as a decade ago—namely that the United States would join most of the rest of the world in abolishing capital punishment—now seems well within the horizon of possibility.
The surprise move by the Nebraska legislature—overriding a gubernatorial veto with a bipartisan and sweeping 30-to-19 vote—galvanized and focused public’s attention on America’s death penalty for the second time in just a month. On May 17, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death. That headline though, as dramatic as it was, tells us little about the future of capital punishment in the United States; Tsarnaev’s case reminds us that even in liberal Massachusetts jurors can be persuaded that death is an appropriate punishment for an unusually gruesome crime and a particularly unsympathetic defendant whose guilt was never in doubt. Yet it should not distract us from a clear headed appraisal of the present condition and likely future of America’s death penalty.
Nebraska’s decision, though, represents a true milestone on the road to abolition of the death penalty—a sweeping reversal of the 1990s tough-on-crime era that saw governors almost bragging about the number of death warrants they signed. The factors that led to abolition in staunchly conservative Nebraska are the very same factors now finding receptive audiences across the country: Put simply, conversation about capital punishment today is less about those we seek to punish and more about the damage the death penalty does to some our nation’s most cherished values, to our beliefs in due process and equal treatment and to our commitment to insuring that no innocent person pays with his life for a crime he did not commit.

Read more:

The dozen Dems who'll decide Obama's trade deal

Scan the ranks of House Democrats and you’d be hard-pressed to find a lawmaker more loyal to President Barack Obama than Jim Clyburn — during the 2008 presidential primary the South Carolinian even incurred the wrath of Bill Clinton over his perceived support for the then-junior senator from Illinois.

Yet as the biggest legislative battle of the president’s final years in office unfolds in Congress — whether to give him the authority to clinch the largest free trade agreement in history — Clyburn is refusing so far to get Obama’s back. The No. 3 House Democrat is remaining neutral on trade promotion authority, despite being summoned with other black Democrats to the Oval Office recently to hear directly from the president.

Read more:

Let Patriot Act Provisions Expire

Barring a last-minute compromise, congressional authorization for the program the government uses to sweep up Americans’ phone records in bulk will lapse on Sunday. That would be perfectly fine.
The looming expiration of a handful of provisions of the Patriot Act, which gave federal authorities vast surveillance powers, has stirred a long-overdue debate over the proper balance between investigative tactics in national security cases and civil liberties. That debate should be allowed to continue, with the goal of reaching a compromise that ensures that surveillance programs are subject to substantive judicial oversight and that Americans have a clear understanding of the data the government is allowed to collect.

Selling Off Apache Holy Land

ABOUT an hour east of Phoenix, near a mining town called Superior, men, women and children of the San Carlos Apache tribe have been camped out at a place called Oak Flat for more than three months, protesting the latest assault on their culture.
Three hundred people, mostly Apache, marched 44 miles from tribal headquarters to begin this occupation on Feb. 9. The campground lies at the core of an ancient Apache holy place, where coming-of-age ceremonies, especially for girls, have been performed for many generations, along with traditional acorn gathering. It belongs to the public, under the multiple-use mandate of the Forest Service, and has had special protections since 1955, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower decreed the area closed to mining — which, like cattle grazing, is otherwise common in national forests — because of its cultural and natural value. President Richard M. Nixon’s Interior Department in 1971 renewed this ban.
Despite these protections, in December 2014, Congress promised to hand the title for Oak Flat over to a private, Australian-British mining concern. A fine-print rider trading away the Indian holy land was added at the last minute to the must-pass military spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Act. By doing this, Congress has handed over a sacred Native American site to a foreign-owned company for what may be the first time in our nation’s history.
The Apache are occupying Oak Flat to protest this action — to them, a sacrilegious and craven sell-off of a place “where Apaches go to pray,” in the words of the San Carlos Apache tribal chairman, Terry Rambler. The site will doubtless be destroyed for any purpose other than mining; Resolution Copper Mining will hollow out a vast chamber that, when it caves in, will leave a two-mile-wide, 1,000-foot-deep pit. The company itself has likened the result of its planned mining at Oak Flat to that of a nearby meteor crater.

Saturday: March for Oscar Lopez Rivera (NYC)

Saturday, May 30, NYC
West Harlem – El Barrio

Now age 72, Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera has served more than 30 years in prison, convicted of seditious conspiracy for his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico, though he was not accused or convicted of causing harm or taking a life.  Serving a sentence of 70 years, he is among the longest held political prisoners in the history of Puerto Rico and in the world.

Route & Rally: Assemble at 11:00 am 125th & Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.  March east to Lexington, then south to 106th & Lexington St. rally site.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

‘Whitey’ Bulger’s cash set to go to victims

Federal prosecutors are poised to distribute nearly $822,000 that was seized from James “Whitey” Bulger to the families of 20 murder victims and three men who were extorted by the gangster, according to authorities.

A judge approved the preliminary forfeiture order two years ago after sentencing Bulger to life in prison for participating in 11 murders while running a sprawling South Boston-based criminal enterprise. But the process stalled when the widow of one of Bulger’s victims launched an unsuccessful legal challenge seeking a larger share of the assets.

“Now that the court of appeals has dismissed a challenge to the forfeiture we have been moving forward in our efforts to provide these funds to the victims and have been working with them directly over the past several weeks,” said Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.


When expert testimony isn't: Tainted evidence wreaks havoc in courts, lives (+video)

Across the country, the criminal justice system is grappling with the fallout from decades of faulty analysis in criminal cases that may have resulted in thousands of wrongful convictions.


Out of Prison, Out of Luck: When the test of innocence is withheld

Why do prosecutors in 14 states still insist that DNA testing to prove innocence ought to be limited only to those who are still incarcerated? TMP’s Christie Thompson looks at a class of people, ex-offenders who seek full exoneration, who run up against what experts call “an awful contradiction” in the law.


Julian Assange: Despite Congressional Standoff, NSA Has Secret Authority to Continue Spying Unabated

The Obama administration’s authority to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk will likely expire next week after senators from both parties rejected attempts to extend it. First, the Republican-led Senate rejected a House-passed measure to curb bulk spying by keeping the records with phone companies instead of the government. The Senate then rejected a bid by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to extend the current bulk spying program for two months. The Senate adjourned and will reconvene May 31, the day before the program expires. In an exclusive interview from his place of refuge inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange weighs in on the NSA standoff.

Watch more from our Julian Assange interview: Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5


NSA director wants ‘maritime’ law for internet

International partners should embrace a sort of “Law of the Sea” for the internet, the head of the United States National Security Agency now says, in order to keep the web open and safe from bad actors, state-sponsored or otherwise.

Speaking at a cyberwar conference in Estonia on Wednesday, NSA Director Mike Rogers told attendees that continuing management of an "open, reliable and safe" internet may be best achieved if global stakeholders look towards other areas, where widespread cooperation is required to keep operations afloat.


Oscar Lopez Rivera: Will Obama Pardon This Political Prisoner?

Oscar López Rivera, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and respected community activist, is now one of the longest-held political prisoners in the world.

In 1981, López Rivera was convicted in the United States, in truly Orwellian fashion, of the thought crime of "seditious conspiracy," despite never having been accused of causing harm to anyone, let alone taking a life. Having been deemed dangerous by the US government, López Rivera was imprisoned. His release date, without a presidential pardon, will be 2027, when he is 84 years old. May 29, 2015, is the 34th anniversary of his arrest.


Killing the Colorado: The Truth Behind Colorado's Manmade Water Crisis

Why do you think there is a water crisis in the West? Lack of rain? Climate change? Really bad luck? What if we told you that the recent dryness isn't the sole cause of this unfolding disaster? What if we told you that we're to blame? And that this crisis is manmade — built over the last century with bad policy, arcane laws and willful ignorance to environmental red flags (ahem: climate change)?

Killing the Colorado is a multi-part series from ProPublica and Matter that investigates this manmade water crisis in the West. Watch this video. It's part of the story.

Whistleblower Kiriakou Joins Activists To Write To Political Prisoners

On Wednesday, CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou joined activists at Code Pink’s brightly painted “Pink House” in northeast Washington, D.C., to write letters to imprisoned activists, dissenters, and people who are sometimes viewed as political prisoners. “The first one I wrote to Chelsea Manning and the second one I’m writing to is James Williams,” said Katie, 19, an intern for the anti-war group Code Pink, who helped organize the gathering. Williams is a federal inmate, who Kiriakou maintains has mental health problems and is having a difficult time in prison. Prisoners’ names and addresses, such as Jeremy Hammond, Mutulu Shakur and Oscar Lopez Rivera, were printed onto a list and spread out on a coffee table. Nalini, another 19-year-old intern for Code Pink, sat on a pink sofa, mulling over whom to write to.


June 3rd Call-In Day To Derail Fast Track

Ways & Means Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) is pushing to bring his awful Fast Track legislation for a vote in the House very soon. June 3rd will be a national call in day to derail fast track. Please share this email with organizations you are involved with so they can be part of the day of action. Organizations can sign up to participate in the fast track call-in day here. On June 3rd we will send messages to people urging them to call their representatives, i.e. Please call your representative now at 888-804-8311 and urge them to vote NO on Fast Track. People can also call through our coalition website Representative Ryan’s Fast Track bill has already passed in the Senate, and if approved by the House, would allow secretive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be rushed through Congress, circumventing ordinary review, amendment and debate procedures. We can win. We can stop fast track for rigged corporate deals but to do so we must mobilize everyone we know and work with. We need to create a wall of phone calls into Congress to show them the breadth and depth of opposition to fast track for crony capitalist trade. We need to let them know voters will ensure elected officials who go against the people on this issue will pay a political price with the end of their careers.


How San Francisco Is Helping Give Ex-Offenders A Better Shot

San Francisco is helping former offenders adjust to life after prison by turning a single-room-occupancy hotel into free housing.

In a program spearheaded by the San Francisco Superior Court and the city's Adult Probation Department, the Drake Hotel in the city's Tenderloin neighborhood has been revamped as temporary housing for recently released low-level offenders and individuals who are on probation for more serious offenses. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the program is designed to serve people who are homeless and have drug or alcohol dependencies. Residents will be paired with case managers to help them with their addictions.

Advocates of the program say it will give a population at risk of recidivism a better chance at rebuilding their lives after leaving prison.

"You can’t let someone out of jail, give them $5 and say, 'Good luck,'" Krista Gaeta of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which manages supportive housing for about 1,500 individuals in the neighborhood, told the Chronicle. "The better plan is to do things like this so they can go out and get permanent housing, find work and not commit the crimes that got them in trouble in the first place."


The years since I was jailed for releasing the 'war diaries' have been a rollercoaster

"Today marks five years since I was ordered into military confinement while deployed to Iraq in 2010. I find it difficult to believe, at times, just how long I have been in prison. Throughout this time, there have been so many ups and downs -- it often feels like a physical and emotional roller coaster."


F.C.C. Chief Seeks Broadband Plan to Aid the Poor

For 30 years, the federal government has helped millions of low-income Americans pay their phone bills, saying that telephone service is critical to summoning medical help, seeking work and, ultimately, climbing out of poverty. Now, the nation’s top communications regulator will propose offering those same people subsidized access to broadband Internet.
On Thursday, that regulator, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, will circulate a plan to his fellow commissioners suggesting sweeping changes to a $1.7 billion subsidy program charged with ensuring that all Americans have affordable access to advanced telecommunications services, according to senior agency officials.

Your library card, your business

What does your library card have to do with fighting terrorism? According to section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, even your library records can be spied on. The Patriot Act is a government spying law passed in 2001 that lets law enforcement wiretap and search in secret.
Key provisions of the government’s spying power expire on June 1 – unless Congress acts to reauthorize it or replace it with the watered-down “USA Freedom Act.”
Urge your members of Congress to vote NO on the Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act has set a dangerous precedent that civil liberties don't matter during wartime. And in the 14th year of the "war on terror," it's always wartime.
Security does not have to come at the expense of civil liberties. Call your representative and both of your senators and urge them to vote NO on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 877-429-0678, then ask for your member of Congress by name. (You can find your members of Congress at
Here are some talking points to help you make your call:
  • My name is ______ and I'm from [city, state].
  • Please vote NO on reauthorizing the Patriot Act, and please do NOT replace it with the USA Freedom Act. The Patriot Act sacrifices our civil liberties and should simply expire on June 1.
  • Thank you.
The Patriot Act is one more piece of the "war on terror" that needs to end. Congress should let it expire on June 1.

Diane Randall
Executive Secretary

President Obama's Human and Moral Challenge: Oscar López Rivera

[Last] week, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus sent a letter to President Obama, with a copy to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking him to immediately commute the sentence of political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, a decorated Vietnam War veteran.

No other prisoner for reason of conscience, in no other region, has served 34 years in prison. Not even Nelson Mandela, who suffered prison for 27 years (seven less than Oscar), and whose cell president Obama visited with amazement and absorption, as if his decision to continue the imprisonment of Oscar López didn’t weigh on his conscience; Oscar who, the same as Mandela, was accused of “seditious conspiracy,” and who did not kill or harm anyone.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Reject Patriot Act Renewal‏

We need to stop the bulk collection of the private information of the millions of innocent American citizens, and we are getting traction.

Just before the weekend, thanks to your continued pressure, the Senate rejected an extension of the deceptively named and much abused Patriot Act. Please continue speaking out because they are going to try against to push this outrage through again on May 31st.

Here's the action page:

No Patriot Act Extension

Please submit the action page above. And after you do, feel free to request one of our beautiful 4 color "Don't Spy On US" bumper stickers. You can have one for no charge, not even shipping, just by submitting the form on the return from the action page. Or you can get one directly from this link.

Don't Spy On US bumper stickers:

Nebraska Votes To Repeal Death Penalty

The days of the death penalty in Nebraska are ending.

Lawmakers repealed the death penalty on Wednesday with a 30-19 vote that overrode the veto Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts signed on Tuesday. One week earlier, lawmakers voted 32-15 to pass LB 268, which would replace the death penalty with life without parole as the state's highest penalty.

The number of death penalty states in the U.S. stands at 31 following Nebraska's repeal.


Here's the Bizarre Weapon Cops Will Be Using to Prevent Another Ferguson

When citizens hit the streets of Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, to protest the deaths of Freddie Gray and Michael Brown, two young black men who died at the hands of law enforcement, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to control the crowds. Now they have a new non-lethal tool: stink bombs, also known as malodorants. 

The weapon of choice in this case is called Skunk, and Defense One reports that a company called Mistral has been providing it to police departments feeling nervous about civil unrest.

How it works: Skunk is a yellow liquid made from baking soda, yeast and amino acids. The smell has been described as garbage, human waste, dirty socks, rotting meat and an open sewer. Mistral reps claim the smell can be removed from your body only with a "special soap."
There are a number of ways police can stink-bomb a protest or gathering. In 2008, the military drafted plans for an artillery shell that would explode in the air and carpet whole acres of land with a cluster of small, parachuting stink bombs. Skunk is much less sophisticated: Police can simply load it onto a truck and spray it as a mist from a hose.
Police tactics are growing more brutal: An increasing number of departments around the country have been arming themselves like the military as protest movements and civil unrest make local law enforcement officials nervous.

EPA Announces New Rule To Clarify Protections For U.S. Waters

WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army announced a new rule on Wednesday clarifying what types of water bodies the government can protect from pollution.

The Clean Water Rule is intended to add some clarity to two Supreme Court decisions, from 2001 and 2006, that produced confusion over what waters the EPA can regulate under the Clean Water Act, the federal law governing the regulation of water pollution in the United States.

The new measure says the federal government has jurisdiction over tributaries that show physical features of flowing water as well as water that is within a certain proximity to rivers, lake and tributaries.



Holy Crop: How Federal Dollars Are Financing the Water Crisis in the West

In a new multimedia collaboration with Matter, "Killing the Colorado," we'll explore how the river that sustains 40 million Americans is dying -- and man, not nature, is to blame.

Today's story, the first installment in a five-part series, focuses on the government's damaging choice to back cotton in the desert.

Cyberattack Exposes I.R.S. Tax Returns

WASHINGTON — Criminals used stolen data to gain access to past tax returns of more than 100,000 people through an application on the Internal Revenue Service’s website, the agency said on Tuesday.
Using Social Security numbers, birth dates, street addresses and other personal information obtained elsewhere, the criminals completed a multistep authentication process and requested the tax returns and other filings, the I.R.S. said. Information from those forms was used to file fraudulent returns, the I.R.S. said, and the agency sent nearly $50 million in refunds before it detected the scheme.
“We’re confident that these are not amateurs,” John Koskinen, the I.R.S. commissioner, said. “These actually are organized crime syndicates that not only we but everybody in the financial industry are dealing with.”
The agency has opened an investigation into the breach and has temporarily shut down the Get Transcript application, which was used to gain access to the information. Old tax returns are sometimes needed to apply for college loans or mortgages, and taxpayers can still request the records by mail.

Broadband at the Center of Charter-Time Warner Cable Deal

When Charter Communications announced a pair of deals on Tuesday to acquire Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks for a total of $67.1 billion, it put the focus squarely on the cable industry’s future: broadband.
Executives said the acquisitions would create a stronger national player that would offer faster services meant for watching online video and playing games, as well as new out-of-home wireless Internet options.
They even raised the possibility of introducing a national streaming television service that would not require a traditional cable subscription.
“It is not just the small screens or the large screens in the house, it is the mobile screens and more,” Thomas M. Rutledge, Charter’s chief executive, said in an interview.
“I am not sure how the services will evolve, whether they will be sold in a big pack, a little pack or individually,” he added. “As a true pure play, we are open to all of that.”

Obama Warns Senators on Lapse in Surveillance

WASHINGTON — With time running out, President Obama on Tuesday urged the Senate to pass legislation to renew surveillance programs that are scheduled to expire next weekend or risk endangering the American people.
“The problem we have now is that those authorities run out at midnight on Sunday,” Mr. Obama told reporters as he hosted NATO’s secretary general at the White House. “So I strongly urge the Senate to work through this recess and make sure that they identify a way to get this done.”
The president’s plea, though, fell on absent ears. With Congress on recess this week, the chances of the Senate’s passing the legislation before the Sunday night deadline are problematic at best even with senators called back for a rare Sunday session. And so the White House faces the prospect that its legal authority to carry out some of these programs will vanish at least for a few days until the political gridlock in the Senate is resolved.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to Lock Up Fewer People

“If we are going to end mass incarceration, we need to recognize that the excessively long sentences we impose for most violent crimes are not necessary, cost-effective or just.” David Cole and Marc Mauer say it’s not enough to ease up on low-level, nonviolent offenders.

Today, nearly everyone acknowledges that our criminal justice system needs fixing, and politicians across the spectrum call for reducing prison sentences for low-level drug crimes and other nonviolent offenses. But this consensus glosses over the real challenges to ending mass incarceration. Even if we released everyone imprisoned for drugs tomorrow, the United States would still have 1.7 million people behind bars, and an incarceration rate four times that of many Western European nations.
Mass incarceration can be ended. But that won’t happen unless we confront the true scale of the problem.
...We could cut sentences for violent crimes by half in most instances without significantly undermining deterrence or increasing the threat of repeat offending. Studies have found that longer sentences do not have appreciably greater deterrent effects; many serious crimes are committed by people under the influence of alcohol or drugs, who are not necessarily thinking of the consequences of their actions, and certainly are not affected by the difference between a 15-year and a 30-year sentence.
For the same conduct, we impose sentences on average twice as long as those the British impose, four times longer than the Dutch, and five to 10 times longer than the French. One of every nine people in prison in the United States is serving a life sentence. And some states have also radically restricted parole at the back end. As a result, many inmates are held long past the time they might pose any threat to public safety.

American Indian students in Utah face harsh discipline

Research finds they are referred to law enforcement and arrested more than any other group.

The study, conducted by researchers at the university’s S.J. Quinney College of Law Public Policy Clinic, found that Native American students in Utah are disciplined far more harshly than their peers. They’re almost eight times more likely to be referred to law enforcement and six times more likely to be arrested than white students, far out of proportion to the size of the population.

The result is a phenomenon known in education circles as the “school-to-prison pipeline,” whereby zero tolerance disciplinary policies that disproportionately target minority students funnel them out of school and into juvenile justice programs.

“A lot of these policies have the best intentions,” Vanessa Walsh, the report’s primary author, said. “We have to keep our schools safe. But it's having consequences that I don't think anyone anticipated.”


Charging Inmates Perpetuates Mass Incarceration

As the costs of mass incarceration proliferate, so do the means by which local officials charge inmates and those accused of crimes. A new report chronicles the economics of court fines and penalties that perpetuate cycles of crime, punishment, and imprisonment.

At least a few localities in nearly every state in the country impose "pay-to-stay" fees on prisoners for everything from medical costs, to food, to clothes. These fees are difficult for the often indigent prisoners and their families to pay, and can make successful reentry into society near impossible for some.

Download the PDF

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Read the Introduction


The Attica Turkey Shoot: Malcolm Bell, former special state prosecutor and whistleblower, on getting away with murder

Few people read the 46 pages released last week from a long-secret report about the conduct of the criminal investigation into the 1971 Attica prison uprising more closely than Malcolm Bell, the former special state prosecutor whose allegations of a cover-up sparked the inquiry. Bell’s job was to investigate crimes committed during the retaking of the prison. But in late 1974 he quit, saying his efforts to win indictments against state troopers and others had been stymied. In response, the newly elected governor, Hugh Carey, appointed a special investigator to examine Bell’s charges.
Essentially it was an investigation of an investigation, a seemingly hopeless bureaucratic tangle. But it was one fraught with political peril and at the center of a searing public debate about the nation’s bloodiest prison riot. The death toll from the four-day, September 1971 rebellion totaled 43, including 39 slain by police bullets during the retaking of the prison. Ten of those killed that day were state employees who had been held hostage; the rest were people in prison, who had armed themselves with knives, spears, and clubs, but no guns. The man who ordered the controversial assault was former Governor Nelson Rockefeller whose nomination to become Vice President of the United States under Gerald Ford was pending before the U.S. Senate at the time of the Attica probe.

Twin Cities Tar Sands Resistance March, June 6th

Indigenous Environmental Network invites you to join with our relatives from Tar Sands and pipeline impacted communities to say no to the extreme energy projects that harm our lands, peoples and ways of life!

On June 6, thousands will gather in the Twin Cities for the Tar Sands Resistance March — the largest anti-tar sands event ever in the region.

Let's march together as Indigenous communities to fight for Mother Earth and our future.

Bring your drums, bring your signs, bring your relatives!

10am-Water Ceremony
Lambert Landing, corner of Shepard Rd and N Sibley St
Noon-March from Lambert Landing to the State Capitol Lawn

2pm-Rally & Performances at Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard

For more information:

Or email local contact Sammie (

Need a ride from Northern MN? Sign up here ASAP!

May 28 Community Protest Art Event link!

Bad Cops: Get Ready for your Close Up! • BRAVE NEW FILMS & Blue Scholars (Oskar Barnack MUSIC VIDEO)

We just released a new short film about police brutality with a call for us all to do our civil duty and film the police. Some lawmakers are still pushing to criminalize the recording of police activity in public - and because we know we need more, not less, police accountability, we made this short film to share online!

In 12 states, it is illegal to record audio of police without permission and these states and others are now pushing for further laws criminalizing recording outright.

Filming the police is a right. And it is the only thing bringing the severe injustice of current policing tactics to light.

We reached 16 million people with our film Racism is Real because of supporters like you sharing it online. This movement needs you to be part of the change. Share this video today so we can reach another 16 million people who will help take action. 

Fight back. Pick up a camera for justice. Film the police!

Robert Greenwald, President

Brave New Films · 10510 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232, United States