Saturday, November 28, 2015

Leonard Peltier statement to 11-26-2015 National Day of Mourning read by Bert Waters

Massive NSA Phone Data Collection to Cease

The federal government's collection of bulk data from the telephone calls of virtually every American will stop at midnight Saturday, ending a raging controversy that began with disclosures about the secret program by Edward Snowden.

Beginning Sunday, if the government wants to check on a specific phone number in a potential terrorism case, a request must be made to the relevant telephone company for a check of its own data. The government will no longer retain the information.


CIA Asked to Release Documents Related to Massacre in El Salvador

The wounds of war have still not healed in El Salvador. Twenty-three years after the peace treaty, victims of the armed conflict are still waiting for justice and looking for their missing loved ones.

Two human rights organizations, the University of Washington Center for Human Rights Works (UWCHR) and the UCA Institute for Human Rights (IDHUCA) presented a request to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for access to documents that prove the existence of a massacre committed during the civil war in the Central American country. The request seeks to help achieve justice in the case.

"We know that there are records of these documents because we had access to them. The minimum that they can do is let us access the documents that have already been declassified. This could help the victims get access to justice," explained Angelina Snodgrass from UWCHR in a videoconference last October.


Capping Emissions Is Not Enough: An Interview With the Architect of the Kyoto Protocol

Economist and mathematician Graciela Chichilnisky, the architect of the Kyoto Protocol, discusses the crisis of climate change, Kyoto's significance nearly two decades after it was first signed, and the prospects for an international agreement coming out of the upcoming Paris climate talks.


Oglala Commemoration: Auction reopened

It is that time of year again.  The online auction is now reopened.  These items can be had in time for Christmas.  So take a look at our items listed now.
This auction covers the cost of the 17th annual Oglala Commemoration and it's projects on Pine Ridge.
Please email all bids to
We accept paypal, credit card and US money orders.

Nine Algonquin chiefs, AFNQL oppose ‘Zibi’ condos, resolve to protect sacred area in Ottawa

On November 19, the Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) passed a resolution brought forward by Algonquin chiefs to protect the sacred Akikodjiwan falls site on the Ottawa River (Kichizibi) in downtown Ottawa/Gatineau, Canada’s capital, unceded Algonquin territory.

This is in opposition to Windmill Development Group Ltd's plans, in partnership with Dream Corp, to build a commercial and condominium development named "Zibi" (an Algonquin word meaning "river") on two of the islands at Chaudière Falls and along the Gatineau-side shoreline.

Hydro Ottawa has also recently started development on a new hydroelectric generating facility at the dammed falls.


How to Prosecute Abusive Prosecutors

...The Department of Justice typically wields Section 242 against police and correctional officers accused of physical or sexual violence. But Section 242 applies with equal force to those who prosecute and sentence, the state officials whose deliberate skirting of civil rights can be most devastating.

At least, that’s how it is on paper. The federal government has not in recent memory pursued a judge under Section 242, and it has only rarely enforced this law against prosecutors.

Tighter Lid on Records Threatens to Weaken Government Watchdogs

WASHINGTON — Justice Department watchdogs ran into an unexpected roadblock last year when they began examining the role of federal drug agents in the fatal shootings of unarmed civilians during raids in Honduras.

The Drug Enforcement Administration balked at turning over emails from senior officials tied to the raids, according to the department’s inspector general. It took nearly a year of wrangling before the D.E.A. was willing to turn over all its records in a case that the inspector general said raised “serious questions” about agents’ use of deadly force.

The continuing Honduran inquiry is one of at least 20 investigations across the government that have been slowed, stymied or sometimes closed because of a long-simmering dispute between the Obama administration and its own watchdogs over the shrinking access of inspectors general to confidential records, according to records and interviews.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Leonard Peltier: Day of Mourning

Statement by Leonard Peltier

November 26, 2015 - Day of Mourning


Brothers and Sisters,

It makes my heart happy to know so many of you are keeping this Day of Mourning event going. 

I hear there is going to be a National Geographic movie this month called "Saints and Strangers" about the REAL Thanksgiving.  I want you to know that I believe… I KNOW this has only come about from your continued protest and determination to expose what really happened.  But, damn, huh has it ever taken so long!  :(  Let’s hope this film DOES tell the truth.  I, for one, thank you very much, as this is what it was and is all about—getting the real history told about the genocide that was committed against us as a race of people and against our Nations. If we don't do this, then it can and will happen again until we have all been exterminated.

I'm so proud of you young People out there too, all over the country, standing up for our Nations and taking over because some of us can no longer get out there to stand by your sides—or to stand there with you and shake your hands.

February 6, 2016, will make it 40 straight years in here.  Under the laws I was indicted with, a life term was seven years.  I have served over six life sentences!  As you know, I was sentenced to only two. To Native Peoples this is also not surprising.  In fact, this is something that happens on a regular basis throughout Indian Country. And, as always, this is not acceptable to us.  So we protest, and we protest some more.

Over the last four decades, I have been supported by people of all backgrounds, races, and religions. As we approach the one-year mark on President Obama’s remaining time in office, it is crucial for my survival that everyone who has ever supported my release to please contact my official Committee that works on my behalf, and coordinate and organize with them.

In 2008, when asked about my case, then Senator Obama supposedly said, “Show me the support."  If all of you dedicate some of your time in 2016 to support my bid for clemency, I believe this President has the courage to do the right thing and let me go home. 

Remember, too, that we have brothers and sisters who are themselves wrongfully incarcerated, and I ask that we all coordinate to put an end to these injustices.

I wish I could lie to you and tell you I'm doing O.K., but that would not be fair to you.  Today, I have another call out to the prison clinic.  I guess some of the results must have come back from my last blood work.  I know I'm not feeling very well.  It seems as if there are so many things wrong with me… I don't know what to do or say to you, or even where to start.  Hell, I cannot even sit for any length of time.  When I get up my plexis area hurts so bad, I cannot walk but very slowly and while hanging on to someone for support.  But after a few steps I'm O.K.  So I move right along with the crowd. :)  But those first few steps are awfully painful. I asked for a cushion, but was told they don't have any here—and to make one myself from a blanket. Well, news flash.  I did this and every time I did they took it away.  Yep, for some reason this is illegal. Then I have to deal with the other medical problems. So, yeah, this is my Sundance.  But you know what?  You’re all worth it and I would not hesitate to suffer for any of you again and again.

Well, I better end this before you get bored with me. :)  So, again, thank you—all of you—for being decent loving human beings.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse…



Leonard Peltier

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

No War, No Warming – Build an Economy for People and Planet

November 23, 2015

Despite the ban on Protest in Paris, we will be there to raise our voices against war, racism and pollution profiteering. We stand in solidarity with the countless victims of recent violence in Paris, Beirut, and Mali, as well as their families and loved ones.

The It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm delegation of over 100 frontline leaders from climate impacted communities across the US and Canada, including the Arctic, united under the slogan: No War, No Warming – Build an Economy for People and Planet. We stand against the criminalization of the defenders of Mother Earth and the illegitimate criminalization of protest, in particular during the COP21. Civil society, popular movements, indigenous movements and society in general have the right to raise their voices in dissent, especially when our futures are being negotiated. The voices of Indigenous peoples, youth, women and frontline communities need to provide guidance in these negotiations, now more than ever.

Climate justice seeks to address much more than greenhouse gas emissions, but the root systemic causes of climate change itself. Climate justice is about social and economic justice, and how democratic, peaceful and equitable solutions, not military violence, best serve the interests of humanity. The fossil fuel economy is a driver of this multi-faceted crises facing the world: causing resource wars; polluting our air, water and land; creating illness and death to people and of ecosystems; privatization of nature; economically exploiting Indigenous communities, communities of color and the working poor; forcing mass migrations; and, depriving millions of adequate food, access to water, housing, healthcare and healthy and safe employment.

As part of a global climate justice movement, we oppose the bombing of Syria. Over many decades we have witnessed that Western militarism has only increased the instability of the Middle East and other regions. This militarism abroad has also escalated the military complex at home in the United States, where communities resisting the industries causing climate change, have been heavily policed and targeted by police violence.

Our delegation is made up of grassroots leaders from Indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian and working class white communities.   We know first-hand the violence and repression of state racism that exploits tragic moments like this. We reject rising Islamophobia and racism across Europe and North America, as well as the scapegoating of migrants and refugees. The global community has a human rights responsibility to refugees fleeing violence and fleeing for their lives. The roots of the Syrian crisis are linked to climate change, and those seeking refuge because of drought, repeated bombing, and the lack of humanitarian support from world governments.

We are in solidarity with undocumented peoples, migrants and people of color facing repression, raids, and police brutality in France and Europe. We know that people of color face extreme violence within and because of colonial States. We support our comrades in this time as we know they face even more racism, attacks and nation-State violence. We call for continued support for these communities and their organizing efforts. Understanding that our struggles are inextricably linked through globalization, militarization, and neo-liberalism, stemming from a long history of colonialism.

Taking action on climate is a essential to global stability and peace. Peace also includes the need to have peace with Mother Earth. Our movements are aligned across issues of migration, climate, human rights and rights of Indigenous peoples, Earth jurisprudence, jobs and housing.   We are calling on world leaders, and President Obama in particular, to move toward inclusion over exclusion, renewable clean energy over pollution profiteering, cutting emissions at source over carbon trading and offset regimes, and peace over militarism.

We are inspired by the tenacity and humanity of people around the world, and we will continue to mobilize for Paris and to use our love, creativity and solidarity to make our presence known and felt. The protection of Mother Earth, as we know her, and our collective survival is at stake.

Media Contacts:
Jaron Browne 415-377-2822,
Dallas Goldtooth 708-515-6158,
Preeti Shekar 510-219-4193,

Quick action needed: Save Net Neutrality‏

Net Neutrality is under attack in Congress. Again.
Comcast and their cronies in Congress are taking advantage of the slow week before Thanksgiving to slip a Net Neutrality-killing provision into this year’s omnibus spending bill — the bill Congress *must* pass to avoid another government shutdown.

Tell Congress: Protect Net Neutrality — the open Internet isn’t a bargaining chip.

Because Congress’ and the media’s attention has (appropriately) been elsewhere the last few weeks, they haven’t been hearing nearly as much about Net Neutrality or the open Internet. That’s why we need to take action now to make sure they know that the Internet isn’t a bargaining chip that can be traded away. It’s too important for that.

Hundreds of American Indians to Gather on Alcatraz Island Thursday

ALCATRAZ ISLAND – On Thursday morning, before sunrise, hundreds of American Indians – and non-Native allies – will gather on Alcatraz Island for “The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony.”

Every year since 1975, American Indians have journeyed from the mainland to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay on Thanksgiving Day. Previously the day was called “Un-Thanksgiving Day.”

In modern times, Alcatraz Island has become a symbol to American Indians. It is a symbol of both struggle and hope. The affinity American Indians has with Alcatraz Island goes deep.

For years, the island was home to a federal penitentiary there. Called the “Rock,” the penitentiary’s most famous inmate was notorious gangster Al Capone.

After the prison closed in 1963, American Indians began to petition the federal government to put it into “Indian land.”


Celebrate the Holiday: Pardon Peltier

This year on the holiday celebrating the relations between indigenous peoples and foreign settlers, Native Americans and supporters will rally in front of the White House at 10:00 a.m. demanding clemency and justice for the people of Pine Ridge and Leonard Peltier. It's time, says Native American organizer John Iversen, to pardon Peltier so that we can celebrate in a real spirit of reconciliation.


16 Shots

A first-degree murder prosecution begins in Chicago, where a white police officer is charged in the October 2014 shooting death of a 17-year-old black teenager. The officer was arraigned Tuesday; the judge denied bail. Chicago Sun-Times More: The prosecutor moved up the announcement of the charges to coincide with the release of a grim police video, which shows Laquan McDonald gunned down — and contradicts police statements made at the time of the shooting. Chicago Tribune Related: The defendant, Jason van Dyke, has a history of misconduct complaints. The Washington Post Finally: Protests there overnight remained largely peaceful. NBC News

FBI and DOJ: Will Track Police Shootings

In separate announcements, the FBI and the Department of Justice say they’ll create programs to monitor police-involved shootings at the federal level. Law enforcement agencies are tasked with tallying their own officer-involved shootings, but after the officer-involved death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, it came to light that no government agency maintains a complete database of the national numbers. On Wednesday, FBI Director James B. Comey called it “embarrassing” and “ridiculous” that up until very recently, officials had made no concerted effort to track the sort of violence that has inspired national protests and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.


Despite Bans Global Climate Marches To See Unprecedented Numbers

On November 28 and 29, hundreds of thousands of people around the world will take to the streets in more than 2000 events in 150 countries to turn up the heat on leaders heading to the Paris Climate Summit. Frontline community representatives, unionists, faith leaders, and families will call on politicians to forge an ambitious new global climate agreement this December that speeds up the just transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy and protects vulnerable people from worsening climate impacts. The people’s call for leadership will be harder and harder to ignore.


The Struggle for Justice on Tribal Lands

...tribal governments now face a grave threat to this kind of partnership and to their very sovereignty. The danger comes from an action brought by the Dollar General Corporation. On Dec. 7, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case regarding alleged sexual assaults by a Dollar General manager against a tribal minor, a 13-year-old who apprenticed in a store on Choctaw tribal lands in Mississippi. While working in partnership with non-Indians remains an important part of what tribal governments do, ensuring the welfare of tribal members is an essential function of their power. This case has the potential to undermine the authority of tribes to do both.

In keeping with the fraught legal and political relationship between Indians and the federal government, this case, Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, is deeply rooted in our shared history. And as its focus has expanded, it is no longer exclusively about the child who was originally at its center. is chilling that the Supreme Court has now agreed to hear Dollar General’s challenge to the sovereignty of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Initially, the minor and his parents — barred from bringing criminal charges through tribal court — secured the molestation suspect’s expulsion from the reservation. No criminal charges were ever filed by the United States attorney’s office. The family then sought compensatory, civil damages within the tribe’s court system. Tribal and lower federal courts all agree that the tribe has the jurisdiction to hear the case. Dollar General, however, does not.

Black Lives Matter Activists Vow Not to Cower After 5 Are Shot

MINNEAPOLIS — As the police arrested three people on Tuesday in connection with the shooting of five people during a Black Lives Matter protest outside a police precinct here, demonstrators returned to the street with renewed vigor, vowing not to cower in fear of what one organizer called “an act of terrorism.”

Tensions remained high as activists urged caution among the peaceful demonstrators who have been protesting after a white Minneapolis police officer fatally shot Jamar Clark, 24, an unarmed black man, on Nov. 15.

The police said that they had arrested a 23-year-old white man, and that two other white men, ages 21 and 26, turned themselves in on Tuesday afternoon. A 32-year-old Hispanic had been detained and questioned but was released when the police determined that he was not involved in the Monday night shooting, they said.

Activists remained critical of the police, saying that officers did not properly respond during the shooting and that they had lost trust in the department.


17 Awarded Medal of Freedom

WASHINGTON — President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday to an eclectic mix of Americans from the sciences, arts, sports, politics and human rights, some of them household names and others who he indicated should be.

...The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor the president can bestow, and Mr. Obama has used his selections over the years to reflect policy priorities, political affiliations and personal hero worship. While the big-name recipients drew a crowd of onlookers, the president seemed just as impressed with those who made a difference without achieving great fame.

...The president also posthumously honored Billy Frank Jr., a lifelong advocate of Indian treaty rights who led so-called fish-ins to preserve salmon resources in Washington State, and Minoru Yasui, who fought a World War II military curfew for Japanese-Americans all the way to the Supreme Court.


Rare White House Accord With Koch Brothers on Sentencing Frays

WASHINGTON — For more than a year, a rare coalition of liberal groups and libertarian-minded conservatives has joined the Obama administration in pushing for the most significant liberalization of America’s criminal justice laws since the beginning of the drug war. That effort has had perhaps no ally more important than Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by a pair of brothers who are well-known conservative billionaires.

Now, as Congress works to turn those goals into legislation, that joint effort is facing its most significant test — over a House bill that Koch Industries says would make the criminal justice system fairer, but that the Justice Department says would make it significantly harder to prosecute corporate polluters, producers of tainted food and other white-collar criminals.

The tension among the unlikely allies emerged over the last week as the House Judiciary Committee, with bipartisan support, approved a package of bills intended to simplify the criminal code and reduce unnecessarily severe sentences.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

With Chicago set to release video of a black youth’s death, a police officer was charged with murder

As this city prepared to make public a video from the fatal shooting of a black 17-year-old by a white Chicago police officer, a state prosecutor charged the officer with first-degree murder on Tuesday.

The charges against Officer Jason Van Dyke come more than a year after the shooting, but only days after a judge ordered Chicago officials to release the video from the shooting, captured by a dashboard camera in a police car. The judge had ruled that the video, described by some who have seen it as graphic and deeply disturbing, must be released by Wednesday.


How the Gun Control Debate Ignores Black Lives

...Mass shootings, unsurprisingly, drive the national debate on gun violence. But as horrific as these massacres are, by most counts they represent less than 1 percent of all gun homicides. America’s high rate of gun murders isn’t caused by events like Sandy Hook or the shootings this fall at a community college in Oregon. It’s fueled by a relentless drumbeat of deaths of black men.

Gun control advocates and politicians frequently cite the statistic that more than 30 Americans are murdered with guns every day. What’s rarely mentioned is that roughly 15 of the 30 are black men.


‘School of Assassins’: Protests Demand Closure of Training Camp

Thousands of activists and dozens of peace groups converged this weekend in Georgia to call for the closure of the School of Americas (SOA or WHINSEC), a controversial training facility for Latin American soldiers, and the nearby Stewart Immigrant Detention Center. Hundreds protested outside SOA's gates in Fort Benning, calling it the "School of Assassins," while others marched through the town of Lumpkin to hold a vigil outside of Stewart's facilities. A handful of protesters were arrested and later released after they crossed onto the grounds of the detention center, where organizers say approximately 1,800 migrants are being held in inhumane conditions as officials prepare to deport them en masse.


Rising Voices: New film depicts the effort to save the Lakota language

Rising Voices / Hótȟaŋiŋpi aims to inform the general audience about the plight of native languages and to inspire younger Lakota to work to save their ancestral tongue, says Wilhelm Maya, executive director of The Language Conservancy, which sponsored the film’s production.

“We wanted to get young people tuned into the identity issues around language preservation,” Maya told Intercontinental Cry.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Remembering The Occupation Of Alcatraz

From November 20, 1969, to June 11, 1971, Native Americans took over and held Alcatraz Island as Indian Land. The Occupation of Alcatraz Island" was led by the Native American group, Indians of All Tribes (IAT). The take-over lasted 14-months and ended when the Indians were forcibly removed by the federal government. Indians of All Tribes claimed the island by citing the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) between the U.S. and the Sioux. The treaty returned to Native peoples all retired, abandoned and out-of use federal lands. When Alcatraz penitentiary closed in 1963, the U.S. declared the island as surplus federal property. So Red Power activists reclaimed it. On March 9, 1964, Richard McKenzie and other Sioux occupied Alcatraz for four hours.


Cut Sentences for Low-Level Drug Crimes

Now that Congress is within sight of passing the most significant federal sentencing reforms in a generation, it’s worth taking a closer look at where the legislation falls short.
The main driver of the federal prison population is, by far, the dramatic increase in the time people spend behind bars — specifically, those convicted of drug offenses, who account for nearly half of the nation’s 199,000 federal inmates. From 1988 to 2012, the average time served for drug crimes more than doubled in length, according to a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts. That increase in the length of drug sentences comes at a great expense: an estimated $1.5 billion each year, based on how much it costs to keep a federal inmate behind bars.

NSA Did Keep Its E-Mail Metadata Program After It 'Ended' In 2011

Though it was revealed by Edward Snowden in June 2013, the National Security Agency's (NSA) infamous secret program to domestically collect Americans’ e-mail metadata in bulk technically ended in December 2011.  Or so we thought. A new document obtained through a lawsuit filed by The New York Times confirms that this program effectively continued under the authority of different government programs with less scrutiny from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

The bulk electronic communications metadata program was initially authorized by the government under the Pen Register and Trap and Trace (PRTT) provision, also known as Section 402 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The Times’ document, a previously-top secret National Security Agency Inspector General (NSA IG) report from January 2007, contains a lot of intelligence jargon but crucially notes: "Other authorities can satisfy certain foreign intelligence requirements that the PRTT program was designed to meet."

While such a theory had been pushed previously by some national security watchers, including Marcy Wheeler, this admission had yet to be officially confirmed. Wheeler argued that not only do the post-PRTT programs achieve the same goal, but she believed they were in fact more expansive than what was previously allowed.

The bulk metadata program, which began in secret under authorization from the FISC in 2004, allowed the NSA to collect all domestic e-mail metadata including to, from, date, and time. When this program was revealed by the Snowden leaks in The Guardian, the government said that the PRTT program had been shut down 18 months earlier for "operational and resource reasons."

It was believed that the FISC imposed a number of restrictions on the PRTT program, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) itself.


Sanders Calls Criminal Justice Reform the 'Civil Rights Issue of the Century'

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders came to Allen University Saturday with very different views of the criminal justice system and what should be done to address its failings. -


Sunday, November 22, 2015

TDIH: President Kennedy Assassinated

On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas. The suspected gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, was arrested. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president of the United States.

US Espionage: Alive And Well In Latin America

Edward Snowden revealed to the world the 21st century spycraft in use against millions of innocent, unknowing people who now think twice about sending a text or an email. Amongst the documents obtained by Snowden were reports and details on surveillance of current and former heads of state, many of them from Latin America. Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff was outraged over revelations of NSA espionage against her government, including wiretaps of her own phone and email. Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was another major target of NSA operations.


Mass surveillance won't make us safer

The world is grieving, and trying to find real solutions to widespread violence. But opportunistic politicians are wasting no time, manipulating our emotions for their own political gain. They're calling for more invasive mass spying and demanding backdoors in encryption, even though experts say backdoors make us more vulnerable to violent attacks. Now is not the time for hasty action, or for passing laws no one has read. That path has failed us. Now is the time for an informed, reasoned response.

Sign the Petition:

Manufacturing Terror: An FBI Informant Seduced Eric McDavid Into a Bomb Plot. Then the Government Lied About It.

...At trial, McDavid’s lawyer, Mark Reichel, argued that the FBI had used Anna to lure McDavid into a terrorism conspiracy through the promise of a sexual relationship once the mission was complete. “That’s inducement,” Reichel told the federal jury. “That’s entrapment.” The jurors weren’t persuaded, however. In 2007, McDavid was convicted of conspiring to use fire or explosives to damage corporate and government property, and he was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison, one of the longest sentences given to an alleged eco-terrorist in the United States. At the time of his conviction, the FBI had built a network of more than 15,000 informants like Anna and the government had classified eco-terrorism as the No. 1 domestic terrorism threat — even though so-called eco-terrorism crimes in the United States were rare and never fatal.

Seven years after his conviction, the government’s deceit was finally revealed. Last November, federal prosecutors admitted they had potentially violated rules of evidence by withholding approximately 2,500 pages of documents from McDavid. Among the belatedly disclosed documents were love letters between Anna and McDavid and evidence that Anna’s handler, Special Agent Ricardo Torres, had quashed the FBI’s request to put Anna through a polygraph test, commonly used by the FBI to ensure informants aren’t lying to agents as they collect evidence. The new documents also revealed which of the letters and emails the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit had reviewed before offering instructions on how to manipulate McDavid and guide him toward a terrorist conspiracy.


Is Congress Ready to Back a New Crime Commission?

Growing Congressional interest in justice reform has improved the prospects for creation of a National Criminal Justice Commission that can spearhead a "top to bottom review" of the justice system, says Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI).

Peters told the American Society of Criminology yesterday that the time was "long overdue" for a national effort similar in scope to the Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice created by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.

At a panel marking the 50th anniversary of the LBJ initiative, Peters was joined by staff members of the original commission for a discussion of the challenges and prospects of a new national effort to muster support for innovation in criminal justice.


The media hyped up a nationwide crime wave. A new report proves it's bunk.

Over the past few months, media outlets have warned about a supposed nationwide crime wave. The New York Times published a front-page story that claimed "murder rates [are] rising sharply in many US cities." CNN, USA Today, and NPR ran similar stories.

A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice pushes back against these claims. Some cities are expected to see a dramatic increase in 2015 compared with 2014 — Baltimore's murder count is projected to go up by 51.7 percent this year. But many cities have seen decreases — Boston, for one, is expected to have a 32.1 percent drop in murders. And the increases in murders don't necessarily translate to overall rises in crime — New York City, for one, can expect a 7.2 percent uptick in murders this year but a 1.6 percent drop in overall crime rates. So the picture is much more mixed than claims of a nationwide trend suggest.


Israeli spy Pollard released

Jonathan Pollard was released from prison after 30 years behind bars for spying for Israel. His lawyers began an immediate court challenge to parole conditions that allow the US government to track his movements.


Removing Peltier Art From Government Building Raises First Amendment Concerns

A letter from the National Coalition Against Censorship argues that the removal of artworks by incarcerated Native American activist Leonard Peltier from a Washington state government building raises serious First Amendment concerns, and it urges the state agency in question to restore the exhibit.

The paintings were on display at the headquarters of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries in Tumwater as part of a celebration of National American Indian Heritage Month. But a group of retired FBI officials strongly objected to the display, given that Peltier is currently serving two life sentences for the 17975 murders of two FBI agents. 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Can Predictive Policing Be Ethical and Effective?

More police departments are trying to predict crime through computer analysis of data, part of the growing trend of using algorithms to analyze human behavior. Advocates say this approach focuses on those most likely to commit crimes, allowing for better relationships between police and residents. But critics say the computer models perpetuate racial profiling and infringe on civil liberties with little accountability, especially when the forecasting models are built by companies that keep their methods secret.

Does predictive policing work? Can it decrease crime without infringing on civil liberties?


Prison Time Surges for Federal Inmates

The dramatic increase in the average amount of time served by federal inmates cost taxpayers an estimated $2.7 billion in 2012 and is largely the result of policy choices made by federal lawmakers during the 1980s and 1990s. During that period, Congress created the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which established guidelines that increased sentence lengths; abolished federal parole, requiring inmates to serve a much larger proportion of their sentences behind bars; and enacted mandatory minimum sentences for a broad variety of offenses, requiring judges to impose penalties set out in statute.

These policies were crafted in response to rising violent and property crime rates and growing concerns about public safety. The best available research, however, indicates that longer prison terms have little or no effect on recidivism and crime rates, and that recent sentence reductions for certain federal offenders have had no measurable impact on public safety.

Sentencing reform bill advances in House

The House Judiciary Committee passed a criminal justice reform bill on Wednesday that would reduce certain mandatory minimum prison sentences to address overcrowding in the federal prison population.

In a voice vote, the committee moved Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) bill — the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 — to the full House for consideration.

The bill reduces mandatory minimum sentences for a second serious drug offense from 20 to 15 years and reduces mandatory sentences for a third drug trafficking offense or violent felony from life in prison to 25 years.

While the bill allows the reduced sentencing reforms to apply retroactively to offenders already serving time, Goodlatte said it does not do so blindly.

“The bill excludes from retroactivity any offender who has a prior conviction for a serious violent felony, for which the offender served 13 months or more in prison,” he said.


4 Decades in solitary is ENOUGH! Free Albert Woodfox.

Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox has spent four decades in solitary confinement for a murder he maintains he did not commit. There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, his conviction has been overturned three times, and a judge has ordered his unconditional release - yet the Louisiana authorities continue to block his release. Decades of isolation in a cell the size of a parking space have taken an appalling toll on Albert’s health. Justice is long overdue.

Take action and tell Louisiana’s Attorney General to stop standing in the way of justice and release Albert now. Read more

Sign Down Now

‘Keep It In The Ground’ Victory: BLM Utah Halts Oil And Gas Lease Sale

SALT LAKE CITY— Elders and climate activists are celebrating today as the Bureau of Land Management made a last-minute decision to halt an oil and gas lease sale owing to a “high level of public interest.” Dozens of citizens were planning to protest the auction on Tuesday morning in Salt Lake City. Instead, they will now celebrate the Bureau’s decision to postpone the auction of 73,000 acres of publicly owned oil and gas in Utah — which harbor an estimated 1.6 – 6.6 million tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution. The planned protest had been led by elders calling on the BLM to act to prevent catastrophic climate change and to ensure a livable future for generations to come.


One Slogan, Many Methods: Black Lives Matter Enters Politics

When the Democratic National Committee recently rejected adding a presidential debate focusing exclusively on issues affecting black people, it got divergent responses from two groups widely associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Campaign Zero, whose agenda centers on ending police violence, quickly embraced the offer for a town hall forum instead and began working to arrange forums for Democratic and Republican candidates. But members of an organization named Black Lives Matter, which first asked for the debates, asserted that only a debate would demonstrate the Democrats’ commitment to their cause.

Black Lives Matter began as a hashtag and grew into a protest slogan — after prominent police killings of blacks over the past year — and became an Internet-driven civil rights movement. The phrase is as much a mantra as a particular organization, with the general public lumping numerous groups under the Black Lives Matter banner, even if they are not officially connected.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Leonard Peltier and Public Displays of Art—The Government Taking Sides on Whose Paintings are Shown Stirs Up First Amendment Problems

Whatever one’s opinion about [Peltier], however, arguably the most consistent thread in First Amendment case law is that the right exists precisely to protect those with whom the government disagrees or finds unfavorable.  From here it looks like the State of Washington has neglected to do just that.

An exhibition in Washington (state) that included art by a number of Native Americans, including Leonard Peltier, has provoked an outcry that may have Constitutional dimensions that went unconsidered.  Peltier is a controversial Native American activist who was convicted of murdering in 1975 two FBI agents, Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams.  His conviction has long been a Rorschach Test for responses to Native American activism and the federal government’s response—Peltier has strenuously insisted he is innocent, and the FBI has adamantly maintained he was properly convicted.  This has now raised its head in the realm of the public display of art, and whether the government may, or should discriminate among artists.  After an outcry about the inclusion of Peltier’s art by a number of current and retired law enforcement officials, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries has announced that it will remove Peltier’s paintings from the display that marked Native American Indian Heritage Month there, and has apologized.  Yet regardless of one’s opinion if Peltier’s guilt or innocence, the government has stepped in a First Amendment quagmire when it made a public forum available for expression and then removed the expressive work of only one person because of who he is.  The First Amendment, after all, acts to protect expression regardless of popularity, indeed, particularly so.  It is hard to argue that his work was removed for any of the reasons that courts generally permit restrictions on speech in the various kinds of public forums.  It remains to be seen whether Peltier will object on those grounds.


2015 Leonard Peltier Holiday Gift Drive

Loretta Lynch Says There's 'No Data' To Support The Ferguson Effect

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the nation’s chief law enforcement official, tells the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday there is no measurable “Ferguson Effect” limiting the willingness of the police to combat crime. Only “anecdotal evidence” of police slowdown, she says, contradicting the FBI and DEA chiefs.


Koch intelligence agency

The political network helmed by Charles and David Koch has quietly built a secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence gathering on its liberal opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life.

The operation, which is little-known even within the Koch network, gathers what Koch insiders refer to as “competitive intelligence” that is used to try to thwart liberal groups and activists, and to identify potential threats to the expansive network.

Read more:

Striking Port Truck Drivers Dig In Against Wage Theft

As Capital & Main reported yesterday, drivers with one of the larger trucking companies serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach went on strike just before dawn Monday. They struck XPO Logistics, a major international freight transportation company, while at the same time other drivers picketed Pacific 9 Transportation as they entered the 15th week of a strike against that company. These drivers are on the front lines of a critical fight impacting the future of work in the United States. “Misclassification,” a condition in which companies wrongly treat their workers as “independent contractors” rather than as employees, is a growing problem that is receiving increasing attention.


TPP Protest: U.S. Trade Rep Accused of Betraying People’s Interests

Three days of protests against a trade agreement recently negotiated among twelve Pacific-rim nations kicked off early Monday morning at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington, DC. Protesters restricted access to the building as the business day began, using banners as blockades, and obstructed traffic in the area. Department of Homeland Security officers allowed them access and there were no arrests. Opponents of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) call it a bad trade deal and a sell-out of American workers, consumers, and small businesses.


Mass Surveillance Isn’t the Answer to Fighting Terrorism

It’s a wretched yet predictable ritual after each new terrorist attack: Certain politicians and government officials waste no time exploiting the tragedy for their own ends. The remarks on Monday by John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took that to a new and disgraceful low.

Speaking less than three days after coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris killed 129 and injured hundreds more, Mr. Brennan complained about “a lot of hand-wringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists.”

What he calls “hand-wringing” was the sustained national outrage following the 2013 revelations by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, that the agency was using provisions of the Patriot Act to secretly collect information on millions of Americans’ phone records. In June, President Obama signed the USA Freedom Act, which ends bulk collection of domestic phone data by the government (but not the collection of other data, like emails and the content of Americans’ international phone calls) and requires the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to make its most significant rulings available to the public.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Aging in Prison: Reducing Elder Incarceration and Promoting Public Safety

Freedom for Leonard Peltier Rallies Set Outside the White House for Thanksgiving Weekend

WASHINGTON — The Alliance for Freedom for Leonard Peltier will be sponsoring a gathering rally and prayer circle at the White House beginning November 26th at 10 a.m. to call upon President Obama to grant executive clemency to Peltier. There will be a spiritual encampment and elders council taking place at Greenbelt Park in Maryland beginning November 25th.

Peltier has been unjustly incarcerated for almost 40 years. Organizers of the event are calling for an Interfaith gathering of people of all walks of life to unify in support of Peltier’s freedom.  Those attending are encouraged to bring drums, signs, and banners, to uplift all causes for human rights, peace and justice, and the environment. This event is nonviolence, no drugs, no alcohol. Welcome Everyone!

Daily rallies and vigils outside the White House, including ceremonies, music, fasting, and speakers will be held. People of all nations stand in solidarity for Freedom for Leonard Peltier!

On Thursday November 26, 2015, there will be sunrise ceremony at Greenbelt Park. A prayer circle will then be held at 10 am at the White House for Leonard Peltier in Solidarity with the ceremonies simultaneously taking place on Alcatraz.

On Friday November 27, 2015, there will be a prayer meeting outside the White House at 10 a.m. followed by a walk to the Canadian Embassy and a prayer circle there for the missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada.

Interested parties can email: and for more informatton.


4 Tips From Edward Snowden To Keep Your Private Data Private

If there’s one person that knows how to dodge electronic detection, it’s Edward Snowden. The ex-NSA contractor remains one of the most controversial figures in American privacy policy — and a prolific commentator on cybersecurity issues. Snowden eluded U.S. officials, fleeing the country in 2013 after leaking information on the NSA’s warrantless collection of individuals’ phone metadata to the press. Now living Russia, he has repeatedly lobbed criticisms at the U.S. intelligence community for its approach to individual privacy.

Speaking to The Intercept’s Micah Lee, the journalist with whom he worked to create an encrypted channel to funnel information on the NSA’s surveillance practices, Snowden has a few tips for the average Joe looking to secure his or her information on the Internet.


Beyond Keystone: Why Climate Movement Must Keep Heat On

The key passage — the forward-looking passage — of President Obama’s speech last week rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline came right at the end, after he rehashed all the arguments about jobs and gas prices that had been litigated endlessly over the last few years. “Ultimately,” he said, “if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.” This is a remarkable evolution for the president. He came into office with “Drill Baby Drill” ringing in his ears from the 2008 Republican convention, and baby did he drill.


Federal appeals court judge speaks out on police militarization, redemption for convicts, false confessions, criminal justice reform

As part of its push for criminal justice reform, the Charles Koch Institute (yes, that Charles Koch) has just posted a series of interviews with Alex Kozinski, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Kozinski is often tagged as a conservative, but he has become one of the loudest, most eloquent and most consistent critics of the criminal justice system on the federal bench, both in his opinions and in his writing outside of court.

There was a time when Kozinksi was touted as a possible Supreme Court nominee. That seems unlikely now, for a number of reasons. But it’s a shame. He and Sonia Sotomayor would make for a formidable alliance on these issues.


The Real World Indigenous Games in Brazil

The World Indigenous Games was arguably the most hotly anticipated international event in 2015. And for good reason: It’s not every day that 2000 Indigenous men and women come together from all corners of the globe.

However, there was a side to the Games that most of us never got to see amidst the media’s constant promotion of friendly cultural exchanges, festivities and games peppered with reviews of indigenous fashion trends that have lasted thousands of years. Only occasional seconds of protests and banners reading "PEC 215 NÃO!" would fly across our screens to little affect. Very few would come to realize that Brazil enacted major anti-indigenous legislation  while the world was busy looking stage left.

Behind the cameras, a groundswell of networks and organizations came together to issue the Palmas Manifesto condemning the opportunistic approval of PEC 215, a law that government officials repeatedly promised to send to history’s trash bin.


Exploiting Emotions About Paris to Blame Snowden, Distract from Actual Culprits Who Empowered ISIS

Whistleblowers are always accused of helping America’s enemies (top Nixon aides accused Daniel Ellsberg of being a Soviet spy and causing the deaths of Americans with his leak); it’s just the tactical playbook that’s automatically used. So it’s of course unsurprising that ever since Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing enabled newspapers around the world to report on secretly implemented programs of mass surveillance, he has been accused by “officials” and their various media allies of Helping The Terrorists™.

Still, I was a bit surprised just by how quickly and blatantly — how shamelessly — some of them jumped to exploit the emotions prompted by the carnage in France to blame Snowden: doing so literally as the bodies still lay on the streets of Paris. At first, the tawdry exploiters were the likes of crazed ex-intelligence officials (former CIA chief James Woolsey, who once said Snowden “should be hanged by his neck until he is dead” and now has deep ties to private NSA contractors, along with Iran–obsessed Robert Baer); former Bush/Cheney apparatchiks (ex-White House spokesperson and current Fox personality Dana Perino); right-wing polemicists fired from BuzzFeed for plagiarism; and obscure Fox News comedians (Perino’s co-host). So it was worth ignoring save for the occasional Twitter retort.

But now we’ve entered the inevitable “U.S. Officials Say” stage of the “reporting” on the Paris attack — i.e., journalists mindlessly and uncritically repeat whatever U.S. officials whisper in their ear about what happened. So now credible news sites are regurgitating the claim that the Paris Terrorists were enabled by Snowden leaks — based on no evidence or specific proof of any kind, needless to say, but just the unverified, obviously self-serving assertions of government officials. But much of the U.S. media loves to repeat rather than scrutinize what government officials tell them to say. So now this accusation has become widespread and is thus worth examining with just some of the actual evidence.


After Paris Attacks, C.I.A. Director Rekindles Debate Over Surveillance

WASHINGTON — A diabolical range of recent attacks claimed by the Islamic State — a Russian airliner blown up in Egypt, a double suicide bombing in Beirut and Friday’s ghastly assaults on Paris — has rekindled a debate over the proper limits of government surveillance in an age of terrorist mayhem.

On Monday, in unusually raw language, John Brennan, the C.I.A. director, denounced what he called “hand-wringing” over intrusive government spying and said leaks about intelligence programs had made it harder to identify the “murderous sociopaths” of the Islamic State.

Mr. Brennan appeared to be speaking mainly of the disclosures since 2013 of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of phone and Internet communications by Edward J. Snowden, which prompted sharp criticism, lawsuits and new restrictions on electronic spying in the United States and in Europe.

In the wake of the 129 deaths in Paris, Mr. Brennan and some other officials sounded eager to reopen a clamorous argument over surveillance in which critics of the spy agencies had seemed to hold an advantage in recent years.


Latest Hate Crime Statistics Available

Of the 5,479 hate crime incidents reported in 2013, 5,462 were single-bias incidents, as detailed in the chart above.

According to the FBI’s latest report, law enforcement agencies reported 5,479 hate crime incidents involving 6,418 offenses to our Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program in 2014. And these crimes—which often have a devastating impact on the communities where they occur—left 6,727 victims in their wake.

The latest figures are down from 2013, when 5,928 criminal incidents involving 6,933 offenses were reported.

Hate Crime Statistics, 2014 provides information about the offenses, victims, and offenders. Among some of the highlights:
  • Of the 5,462 single-bias incidents reported in 2014, 47 percent were racially motivated. Other motivators included sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, and gender. (See above chart.)
  • Of the 6,418 reported hate crime offenses, 63.1 percent were crimes against persons and 36.1 percent were crimes against property. The remaining offenses were crimes against society, like illegal drug activity or prostitution.
  • The majority of the 4,048 reported crimes against persons involved intimidation (43.1 percent) and simple assault (37.4 percent).
  • Most of the 2,317 hate crimes against property were acts of destruction, damage, and vandalism (73.1 percent).
  • Individuals were overwhelmingly the most common victim of a single-bias hate crime, accounting for 82.4 percent of the reported 6,418 offenses. The remaining victim types were businesses, financial institutions, religious organizations, government, and society or the public.
  • Also during 2014, law enforcement agencies reported 5,192 known offenders in 5,479 bias-motivated incidents. (In the UCR Program, “known offender” does not imply that the suspect’s identity is known, only that some aspect of the suspect was identified by a victim or witness—such as race, ethnicity, or age.)
And while 15,494 law enforcement agencies contributed to UCR’s Hate Crime Statistics report in 2014, only 1,666 agencies reported hate crimes within their jurisdiction (the remaining agencies reported zero hate crimes).

To enhance the accuracy of hate crime reporting, representatives from the UCR Program participated in five hate crime training sessions provided jointly by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI. Since April 2015, DOJ and the FBI provided the training sessions to law enforcement agencies and community groups in several different areas of the county. UCR personnel also worked with states to ensure proper data submission and met with police agencies to provide training and discuss crime reporting issues.

In addition to releasing annual Hate Crime Statistics reports, which give the nation a clearer picture of the overall crime problem, the FBI also investigates incidents of hate crimes—as a matter of fact, it’s the number one priority within our civil rights program. We investigate hate crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction, assist state and local authorities during their own investigations, and in some cases—with the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division—monitor developing situations to determine if federal action is appropriate.

The 2016 release of the Hate Crimes Statistics report, which will contain 2015 data, will feature even more information—expanded bias types in the religion category and the added bias type of anti-Arab under the race/ethnicity/ancestry category. The collection of both types of data began in January 2015.

- Press release
- Hate Crime Statistics, 2014- Related FBI, This Week podcast
- More on the FBI’s hate crime program

The Pass System

In the wake of the Northwest Resistance of 1885, three Canadian officials put forward a proposal for a system of segregation – whites from First Nations - to the Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. His response was that “…it is in the highest degree desirable to adopt it.”. He then signed an internal order that became an unofficial policy of Indian Affairs. Henceforth, a pass to get off reserve would only be issued at the pleasure of the local Indian Agent, a man who controlled every aspect of First Nations lives, holding judicial powers. The Government of Canada knew the pass system had no basis in law, but the system nonetheless lasted over six decades.

Premièring at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) and playing the Yellowknife International Film Festival (YKFF), This 51 minute documentary tells first-hand stories of the pass system's affect on First Nations families. They were cut off from their children in residential schools, other relatives, and dispossessed of the ability to freely hunt, fish and trade, resulting in devastating and lasting financial impacts, with obvious human consequences. This film seeks to document the living, but little-known history of the pass system told by the people whose families lived through it.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

FBI Interferes with Exhibit of Work by the Renowned Native American Artist Leonard Peltier

TUMBWATER, WASHINGTON—An art exhibit commemorating National Native American Month at the state Department of Labor and Industries building, in Tumbwater, Washington, is being dismantled in response to complaints received from law enforcers.

“This is overt government censorship and it’s unconstitutional,” said Peter Clark, co-director of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee.

“Former agents of the FBI, joined by State police officers, have imposed their personal views on the citizens of the State of Washington. It’s ironic that in celebration of Native American Month, the government is suppressing freedom of expression by a Native American. But everyone should be alarmed by this occurrence. Once you allow the censorship of an artist by government, you give it the power to censor everyone.”

Those opposing the installation of the artwork were not offended by the content, which reflects Native American culture, but the artist. Leonard Peltier, who maintains his innocence, was convicted in connection with the 1975 shooting deaths of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota.

“We are certain that had Peltier gone to trial with his co-defendants, who were acquitted on grounds of self defense; had he been allowed to present all of the evidence in his defense; had a racist juror exposed during trial not been allowed to remain on the panel; and had critical ballistics evidence reflecting his innocence not been withheld, Leonard Peltier would be a free man today.”

Appellate courts have repeatedly acknowledged evidence of government misconduct in the Peltier case—including knowingly presenting false statements to a Canadian court to extradite Mr. Peltier to the United States, and forcing witnesses to lie at trial. The federal prosecutor has twice admitted that the government “can’t prove who shot those agents”.

According to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals “the FBI used improper tactics in securing Peltier’s extradition from Canada and in otherwise investigating and trying the Peltier case.” The court concluded that the government withheld evidence from the defense favorable to Peltier “which cast a strong doubt on the government’s case,” and that had this other evidence been brought forth “there is a possibility that a jury would have acquitted Leonard Peltier”.

As late as November 2003, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that “…Much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and its prosecution of Leonard Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed.”

Imprisoned for nearly 40 years, Peltier—71 years old and in declining health—has been designated a political prisoner by Amnesty International. Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, 55 Members of Congress and others—including a judge who sat as a member of the court in two of his appeals—have all called for Peltier’s immediate release.


Call to Action


Honorable Jay Inslee
Officer of the Governor
P.O. Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002


Joel Sacks, Director
P.O. Box 44000
Olympia, WA 98504-4000

Also Leave a comment:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Third Anniversary of Idle No More

November 12th was three-year anniversary of the start of Idle No More.
Follow Idle No More. Join the movement:

Is The Paris Climate Conference Designed To Fail?

From the end of this month through early December, much of the world’s attention will be focused on Paris, the site of the upcoming round of UN climate negotiations. This is the twenty-first time diplomats and heads of state will gather under the umbrella of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a document first put forward at the landmark 1992 “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro – the same global conference where the elder George Bush told the world that the “American way of life is not negotiable.”


Tribal Protesters Block Corporate Takeover of Public Water

After spending the last year dodging public outcry and numerous lawsuits for continuing to pump water from drought stricken California, Nestle has set its sights on neighboring Oregon as a new source of public water to be converted into privatized profits and shareholder earnings. But before they could start building their new proposed Arrowhead bottling plant, Gov. Kate Brown sent a letter to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife requesting that the agency withdraw its application for a water rights transfer that would have enabled Nestle to begin operations in Cascade Locks, Oregon.


'The Attacks Will Be Spectacular'

An exclusive look at how the Bush administration ignored this warning from the CIA three months before 9/11, along with others that were far more detailed than previously revealed," by Chris Whipple, executive producer of "The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs," airing Nov. 28 at 9 p.m. on Showtime, narrated by Homeland's Mandy Patinkin.


2-min. preview clip

California death penalty: legal obstacle to executions removed

The “most liberal” federal appeals court in the country Thursday restored capital punishment as an option for nearly 750 death row inmates, by overturning a trial judge’s ruling that had declared the state’s system unconstitutional. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not rule on the merits of the “arbitrary” delays in executing prisoners; rather, the court held that this substantive argument was precluded from consideration by procedural rules.


An Invitation to End the Death Penalty

The death penalty in the United States will end.  
In the scholarly community, the debate is over. The proof that capital punishment doesn’t work is as conclusive as the evidence that human activities have caused global warming. After 50 years of research, we know that capital punishment either doesn’t deter or deters very little, and then only if practiced with such regularity that it virtually guarantees errors. We know that since 1973, 156 people have been sentenced to die and subsequently exonerated. We know that whether a murderer is executed is largely the product of the victim’s race and geographic bad luck. We know that the penalty is expensive to implement and, if one is serious about preventing mistakes, cruelly slow.

For these reasons, among others, the international community has largely rejected capital punishment. Of the 193 United Nations members, 137 have abolished the death penalty either by law or practice. In 2013, only 22 countries conducted an execution. Only eight conducted 10 or more: China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and the United States. It’s simply impossible to imagine the United States remaining on this list for much longer.

The question is how much longer.


‘A Conversation With Police on Race’

A conversation with the police about race leads to some trite comments and also some candid, street-level assessments of their power.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Police Are Sweeping Up Tweets and Friending You on Facebook, Whether You Know It or Not

...In 2015, on the front lines of predictive policing, officers are now using an algorithm to scrub up the world's social media posts, map them out and use them to predict where crime is most likely to occur. And a new class of tech startups aims to take the wide world of public social media posts and turn them into a living map that will direct police toward crime before it even happens.
Pre-crime maps help police predict crime as if it were the weather. Every day, police precincts in major metropolitan cities generate maps that show them where certain types of crime are likely occur in various "hot spots" around the city.
Some of these mapping systems rely on historical crime data and won't go anywhere near social media. Larry Samuels, CEO of popular predictive crime mapping tool PredPol, told Mic that using social media is a line he's unwilling to cross. It's a veritable Pandora's box, he said, introducing chaotic variables that haven't been empirically proven enough to justify using it.
"Philosophically, the people who run this company have very strong beliefs about not crossing that line, and about constitutionality — being what we are and nothing more," Samuels told Mic.
But newer systems like Hitachi's Visualization Predictive Crime Analytics include social media data like public tweets. Hitachi's system takes a look at geotagged tweets to find terms in common and link them to increased crime.
So if there's known gang activity in an area, the algorithm sweeps through public tweets to find terms, vernacular, and "off-topic" words to give more weight to a hotspot. But using a pattern of speech as a pretext for enhanced policing is a algorithmic way to group people by common characteristics, casting guilt by style of speech or even association.
"You have public functions being conducted by private companies without public oversight or transparency, with vast implications for constitutional rights."
Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice public policy institute, told Mic, "Even if it is all 'gang-related,' what does it mean to feed in information that says, 'We know that Person A is a member of a gang, and they exchange tweets with person B?' Are we going to put Person B under surveillance or keep an eye on them?" To her, the question is, "To what extent is there oversight of how that circle of surveillance grows?"
Using social media to decide who is or isn't a criminal opens up the door for prejudicial police profiling.