Thursday, May 19, 2016

The myth that fewer people are going to prison

Reformers and policymakers who are concerned about the vast U.S. prison system have called for reducing the number of people behind bars. By that standard, they've made progress over the past several years, as the incarcerated population has declined from its peak in 2009.

Yet even as fewer people are behind bars, the number going to prison nationally changed little during that time — outside of California, where the Supreme Court ordered major reforms to the state's overcrowded system in 2011.

John Pfaff, a legal scholar at Fordham University, pointed out the paradox in a series of tweets on Tuesday. While more people are being sent to prison than in 2010, the total population declined because prisoners are serving shorter terms, partly as a result of lawmakers' efforts to reduce minimum sentences. The reduced sentencing are welcome for convicts and their families, but incarceration is not affecting fewer lives.


Final 2015 Crime Data Shows No ‘Viral Video Effect’

The Brennan Center’s Crime in 2015: A Final Analysis has helped push back on claims by FBI Director James Comey that less aggressive policing caused an increase in homicides. Comey has blamed this alleged new police posture on public scrutiny around videos of police confrontations, a dynamic he’s termed the “viral video effect.”

The New York Times editorialized it’s a “false notion that the country is entering a crime wave,” adding: “That idea was debunked last month in a study by the Brennan Center for Justice of 2015 crime data from the 30 largest cities. The study found that crime had remained the same as in 2014 and that two-thirds of the cities had actually had drops in crime.”

The data was also cited by The Washington Post.

There are year-to-year variations but no nationwide epidemic, and no factor that easily explains localized upticks, according to Ames Grawert who spoke to The Intercept.

Read more from The Guardian and The Washington Times. Read the Brennan Center’s analysis debunking a national crime or murder wave here.

Is It Time to Free Native American Activist Leonard Peltier?

The 71-year-old has lived behind barbed wire and concrete walls for more than half of his life, cemented in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

As he wages a four-decade legal battle in a case clouded with conflicting testimony, political influence and doubt, he also struggles with declining health, including diabetes, a heart condition, multiple jaw surgeries and loss of vision and motor function due to a stroke.

In the first month of 2016, Peltier was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm—a swollen aorta that can amount to a tiny ticking time bomb if left untreated. Sometime during our visit, he turned to me and said, “If you don’t get me out of here, I’m going to die—and it won’t be of old age.”
Unless President Obama grants him clemency, Peltier’s prediction will almost certainly come true.


He Killed Two FBI Agents. Or He Was Framed. After 40 Years, Will Obama Free Leonard Peltier?

Leonard Peltier, a member of the Lakota tribe who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1977, has spent 40 of his 71 years in federal prison. During that time, some have come to view him as an international symbol of the mistreatment of Native Americans by the US criminal justice system; others see him as the murderer of two FBI agents who should continue to pay his debt to society. Recently a group of prominent lawyers—backed by world leaders, civil rights activists, and several members of the US Congress—have renewed efforts to win his freedom by filing a formal appeal for clemency to the Department of Justice and requesting that President Barack Obama intervene on Peltier’s behalf.

In February, Martin Garbus, a well-known New York City trial lawyer and the lead attorney of the group, joined by former US Attorney Cynthia Dunne and attorney Carl S. Nadler, wrote a five-page letter to Obama urging him to grant Peltier clemency. “[T]he time has come for the interests of the law enforcement community to be balanced against principles of fundamental fairness, reconciliation, and healing,” they contended.

They also submitted a 44-page petition for clemency to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney on behalf of Peltier, who suffers from various medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and a heart condition. All of this, the petition notes, impairs “his ability to walk, to see, and to conduct normal life activities…He is ill-equipped to cope with life in the maximum security prisons in which he has been jailed for many years.” The petition includes more than two dozen letters from supporters including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Coretta Scott King, several Native American tribes, and Amnesty International.

Read more:

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Gutting Habeas Corpus: The Inside Story of How Bill Clinton Sacrificed Prisoners’ Rights for Political Gain

...The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 — or AEDPA — was signed by Bill Clinton in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing. While it has been mostly absent from the recent debates over the crime policies of the ’90s, its impact has been no less profound, particularly when it comes to a bedrock constitutional principle: habeas corpus, or the right of people in prison to challenge their detention. For 20 years, AEDPA has shut the courthouse door on prisoners trying to prove they were wrongfully convicted. Americans are mostly unaware of this legacy, even as we know more than ever about wrongful convictions. Barry Scheck, co-founder and head of the Innocence Project, calls AEDPA “a disaster” and “a major roadblock since its passage.” Many would like to see it repealed.


The Other F-word: What we call the imprisoned matters

The other day Margaret Love, a veteran clemency lawyer, scolded The New York Times for this front-page headline: “Virginia Governor Restores Voting Rights to Felons.” She applauded the news — some 200,000 Virginians, most of them African-American, recovered their voting rights under Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order — but she deplored the word “felons.”

“This ugly stigmatizing label has been broadly criticized as counterproductive to reintegration efforts, perpetuating stereotypes about people with a criminal record and encouraging discrimination against them,” she wrote in a blog post. “While the Governor himself was careful with his language, not a single major newspaper reporting on his action could resist including the word in its headline.”


Justice Dept. agency to alter its terminology for released convicts, to ease reentry

The Justice Department is taking a number of steps to reintegrate those released from prisons and jails into society, most notably during the recent National Reentry Week, such as asking states to provide identification to convicts who have served their sentences and creating a council to remove barriers to their assimilation into every day life. Here, Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, who has headed the Office of Justice Programs since 2013, announces in a guest post that her agency will no longer use words such as “felon” or “convict” to refer to released prisoners.


23-26 May in DC: Citizen mobilization and ways to break through power

Ralph Nader presents conference to secure long-overdue democratic solutions by strategic mobilization of citizen networks

May 23-26, Constitution Hall, Washington, DC

Celebrating the 50th anniversary year of Ralph Nader’s book Unsafe at Any Speed, the Center for Study of Responsive Law announces four days of civic mobilization at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. on May 23, 24, 25 and 26, 2016. 
Unsafe at Any Speed unleashed fresh energies and sparked the creation of numerous advocacy organizations leading to major consumer, environmental and worker safety protections. Register here.
The theme of this citizen mobilization will be elaborating ways to break through power to secure long-overdue democratic solutions made possible by a new muscular civic nexus between local communities and Washington, D.C.
Breaking Through Conference graphic
On these four days, speakers will present innovative ideas and strategies designed to take existing civic groups to higher levels of effectiveness. The participants will be asked to support the creation of several new organizations. One such group will work to open up the commercial media, which use the public airwaves free of charge, to serious content. Another will facilitate action by retired military, national security and diplomatic officials who want to deter unconstitutional and unlawful plunges into wars that lead to calamitous and costly blowbacks.
This “Civic Mobilization” will involve thousands of people at Constitution Hall and around the country and connect long-available knowledge to long-neglected action for the necessities and aspirations of people from all backgrounds. Many of the presentations will feature reforms and redirections for the common good enjoy Left/Right support.
Breaking Through Power: How it’s Done—May 23, 2016 will feature presentations by seventeen citizen advocacy groups. Over decades these activists have produced amazing accomplishments against powerful odds. These civic leaders will demonstrate how, with modest budgets and stamina, they have improved the health, safety and economic well-being of the people and focused public opinion onto decision-makers and opponents. Through greater visibility, broader support and wider emulation, they will present their future missions and show that it can be “easier than we think” to make major changes. For the first time ever, this diverse group of fighters for justice will be assembled together on stage at Constitution Hall and show that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts when fighting for a broader democratic society. The presenters will appraise what levels of citizen organization is necessary to fulfill these broadly-desired missions.
Breaking Through Power: The Media—May 24, 2016, brings together also for the first time a large gathering of authors, documentary filmmakers, reporters, columnists, musicians, poets and editorial cartoonists. All of these presenters have documented or depicted entrenched wrongdoing by the corporate state or “crony capitalism”—the cruel impacts of corporate crimes and abuses, the absence of governmental law enforcement, and the harmful effects of concentrated corporate power.
The speakers all seek wider audiences for their works: more readers, viewers and listeners. Unfortunately the mass media barons prefer to wallow in incessant advertising, hedonistic entertainment, sports and mind-numbing redundancy. The result is what many observers see as the stupefaction of human intelligence. A major purpose of Day Two is the creation of a “Voices” advocacy organization that puts forces in motion to inject serious programming into the over-the-air and cable networks under a revitalized Communications Act of 1934 and generally champion a greater life of the mind on all media.
Breaking Through Power: War—May 25, 2016 is dedicated to enhancing the waging of peace over the waging of war. We will assemble leading scholars having military and national security backgrounds, veterans groups such as Veterans for Peace, and long-time peace advocacy associations, to explain how peace is more powerful than war. The speakers will address the horrorsof war, its huge costs here and abroad to innocents and the weakening blowbacks of Empire amidst a collapse of constitutional and international law. One outcome of this day will be the establishment of a Secretariat comprised of current and former top-level military, national security and diplomatic officials who have spoken truth to reckless power. If organized for quick responses, their credibility, experience and wisdom can resist and prevent the kind of prevaricating pressures and unilateral policies that drove the unlawful destruction of Iraq, Libya and beyond.
Breaking Through Power: Congress—May 26, 2016 will unveil a new Civic Agenda to be advanced by engaged and enraged citizens in each Congressional district. The Civic Agenda includes recognized necessities ignored by Congress for decades. The planks of this Civic Agenda will be presented by nationally-recognized advocates—a veritable brain trust for the well-being of present and future generations. Each speaker will present the substance of each demand, which will be conveyed to their members of Congress via organized “Citizen Summons” in each Congressional District. Revitalizing the people to assert their sovereignty under our Constitution is critical to the kind of government, economy, environment and culture that will fulfill human possibilities and respect posterity.
For More Information visit:

Snowden: Whistleblowing Is Not Just Leaking, It Is An Act Of Resistance

I’VE BEEN WAITING 40 years for someone like you.” Those were the first words Daniel Ellsberg spoke to me when we met last year. Dan and I felt an immediate kinship; we both knew what it meant to risk so much — and to be irrevocably changed — by revealing secret truths. One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency, who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint.


San Francisco Hunger Strikers Enter 9th Day To Protest Police Brutality

A hunger strike protesting police violence and racial injustices against black and brown people has entered its ninth day in San Francisco. Eight men and women—including a Board of Supervisor candidate, two pre-school teachers, local rappers and family members—are camped out on a sidewalk outside the police station in the city’s gentrifying Mission district, which has experienced an exodus of Latino residents and artists in recent years.


Blockade Disrupts Klamath Watershed Salvage Logging

...Demonstrators held banners that read ‘Karuk Land: Karuk Plan,’ recited call and response chants, and testified to the timber sales’ impact on ailing salmon populations. Work was delayed for approximately four hours, according to a news release from the river advocates.

The protesters said the Westside Salvage Logging Project would clear cut more than 5,700 acres on steep slopes above Klamath River tributaries and along 320 miles of roads within Klamath National Forest. Post-fire logging and hauling began in late April, before legal claims brought forth by a lawsuit led by the Karuk Tribe could be considered in court.

“The Forest Service should follow the Karuk Plan on Karuk Land. Traditional knowledge of fire helps everything stay in balance because it’s all intertwined,” said Dania Rose Colegrove of the Klamath Justice Coalition. “When you destroy the forests, you destroy the rivers.”

The protesters said the Westside plan, unlike the Karuk Alternative, calls for clear cut logging on steep slopes right above several of the Klamath River’s most important salmon-bearing streams, at a time when returning salmon numbers are reaching record lows.


Redskins, and Other Troubling Trademarks

The Supreme Court may soon take up two cases in which the government does not want to register trademarks it considers disparaging — for the Washington Redskins football team and an Asian-American band called The Slants. The major federal law on trademarks lets the government deny registration to trademarks that are “immoral, deceptive, or scandalous” or that “disparage.”

Is it a denial of free speech for the government to prohibit registration for such trademarks?


Fort McMurray Blaze, Fast and Unpredictable, Keeps Firefighters at a Distance

OTTAWA — Walls of flame driven by strong, shifting winds raged out of control on Wednesday in and around the evacuated city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, where firefighters were helpless to stop the destruction and where about 88,000 people had fled their homes.
“To date, the fire has resisted all suppression efforts,” Bernie Schmidt, an Alberta forestry official, told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday. “This is a very complex fire, with multiple fronts and explosive conditions.”
Rachel Notley, the premier of the province, said that at least 1,600 buildings had been destroyed. No deaths or serious injuries were reported, but the danger was far from over.
“This is a really dirty fire,” Darby Allen, the regional fire chief for the area, said on the conference call. “There are certainly areas within the city which have not been burned, but this fire will look for them, and it will take them.”
The entire population of Fort McMurray, the main center for Canada’s oil sands region, was ordered to evacuate on Tuesday evening once the fire, which began in woodlands outside the city, had overwhelmed firefighters’ efforts to hold it at bay. Cars and trucks jammed the only route out of the city, Highway 63, which runs north to the oil-sands work camps and south to Edmonton, the nearest sizable city, 270 miles away.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Public Defenders’ Biases May Contribute to Wrongful Convictions

According to the Innocence Project, 69 percent of DNA-based exonerees in the United States are people of color. In many of those cases, racial bias significantly contributed to those exonerees being either targeted as suspects, misidentified or being provided with inadequate counsel—all of which played roles in their wrongful convictions. Law enforcement and prosecutors often take the blame as those within the justice system most often misguided by their own inherent biases, but a piece published in the Marshall Project on Monday highlights how public defenders may harbor inherent biases towards their clients just as often as others within the criminal justice system do, preventing them from providing effective counsel.

According to the Marshall Project, defense attorneys are not immune to the racial and ethnic biases that are most often attributed to police and prosecutors, and these biases may subconsciously compel them to disregard their clients’ innocence claims and encourage guilty pleas.

“[Bias] might manifest in whether the defender believes in the guilt or innocence of the person they’re representing,” says Phoebe Haddon, chancellor of Rutgers University-Camden. “Or their assessment of their fellow counsel, the credibility of witnesses, whether to take a plea bargain.”

If defenders’ bias causes them to doubt their clients’ innocence, it could lead to them spending less time on their client’s cases. Professors Song Richardson and Philip Atiba Goff wrote in a 2013 article for the Yale Law Journal: “[Defenders] may expend more effort on cases in which they believe their client is factually innocent.”


The Agony of Solitary Confinement: It’s Like Being ‘Buried Alive,’ Prisoners Say

Here’s what it’s like to be in solitary confinement in a supermax prison—you are locked into your 8- by-10-foot cell for 23 hours per day, where the lights are on all the time. There are no windows in your cell to let in sunlight. Your only view is the window in the cell door that looks out onto a sterile cellblock.
When you are allowed out for one hour of recreation per day, you must first be strip-searched. Then you are shackled hand and foot and taken by two guards to a small wire cage that is your “exercise” yard. You are not allowed to talk to the guards, or to the other prisoners who may be exercising in the cages next to you. You are then shackled again, and led back to your cell. All meals are served to you through a slot in your cell door. If you’re very lucky, you will be allowed outside twice a week where, shackled to a table in the middle of the cellblock, you will perform menial labor, like wrapping packets of sporks and salt in napkins that will be placed in the prisoners’ meal trays.
Imagine living like this year after year after year.

A new documentary goes inside a supermax prison to discover what it’s like being in solitary confinement—a practice experts now describe as unnecessary and prisoners say is torture. Watch an exclusive clip.


Inmates at multiple Alabama prisons go on strike in protest against system, conditions

Inmates at multiple Alabama prisons are refusing to perform their assigned work duties in what they describe as a coordinated act of civil disobedience.

The strike began Sunday as an attempt to deal a severe enough financial blow to the prison system to force authorities to make a wide range of reforms, according to an advocacy group and an inmate participating in the strike.


Solitary confinement is 'no touch' torture, and it must be abolished

Shortly after arriving at a makeshift military jail, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in May 2010, I was placed into the black hole of solitary confinement for the first time. Within two weeks, I was contemplating suicide.

After a month on suicide watch, I was transferred back to US, to a tiny 6 x 8ft (roughly 2 x 2.5 meter) cell in a place that will haunt me for the rest of my life: the US Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia. I was held there for roughly nine months as a “prevention of injury” prisoner, a designation the Marine Corps and the Navy used to place me in highly restrictive solitary conditions without a psychiatrist’s approval.

For 17 hours a day, I sat directly in front of at least two Marine Corps guards seated behind a one-way mirror. I was not allowed to lay down. I was not allowed to lean my back against the cell wall. I was not allowed to exercise. Sometimes, to keep from going crazy, I would stand up, walk around, or dance, as “dancing” was not considered exercise by the Marine Corps.


Lakota Lead the Fight Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

As the start of 2016 shatters last year's record as the hottest year on record, the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation) once again find themselves on the front lines of the battle against the fossil fuel industry.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have established a Spirit Camp at the mouth of the Cannonball River in North Dakota as a means of bringing attention and awareness to a proposed pipeline and act as an enduring symbol of resistance against its construction.

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is set to cut through several US states, delivering hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil from the Bakken and Three Forks oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.


Resettling the First American ‘Climate Refugees’

In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced grants totaling $1 billion in 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change, by building stronger levees, dams and drainage systems.
One of those grants, $48 million for Isle de Jean Charles, is something new: the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the impacts of climate change. The divisions the effort has exposed and the logistical and moral dilemmas it has presented point up in microcosm the massive problems the world could face in the coming decades as it confronts a new category of displaced people who have become known as climate refugees.
“We’re going to lose all our heritage, all our culture,” lamented Chief Albert Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, the tribe to which most Isle de Jean Charles residents belong. “It’s all going to be history.”

First Nations Target Trudeau's Climate Plan With Indigenous Climate Action

UNDRIP is an international declaration that is built on a premise of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Or, more plainly, Indigenous rights to not just participate in decision making processes but the right to say "no." This position is in addition to the already existing fiduciary and legal obligation of the federal government to ensure adequate and meaningful consultation occurs with respect to any laws, legislation and land management that may affect our inherent and treaty rights in the country.


Why You Should Care About The Coming Email Privacy Law

You probably think the US government needs a warrant if they want to dig through your old emails, texts, and instant messages, right? Well, you’re wrong! That may change soon with the Email Privacy Act, which was just passed in the House by a vote of 419 to 0. The law that currently governs how police can pry into your digital life is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which was originally passed in 1986.


Indigenous Movement Stops Construction Of Brazilian Mega-Dam

In a historic victory, one of Brazil’s largest indigenous groups has managed to suspend construction of a mega-dam that threatened to submerge their home. The Brazilian indigenous agency FUNAI finally demarcated the territory of the Munduruku people, providing the legal basis to suspend construction of the São Luiz de Tapajós dam. These 700 square miles of land – known as Sawre Muybu – are now legally recognized as the traditional territory of the Munduruku and protected under the Brazilian constitution.


Monday, May 2, 2016

What Can the U.S. Do About Mass Incarceration?

America is a world leader in incarceration. The U.S. locks up more people than any other country, the University of London’s Institute for Criminal Policy Research reports. An estimated 1.6 million individuals were held in state and federal prisons at the end of 2014, while roughly 1 out of every 36 adults fell under correctional supervision, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Democrats and Republicans alike agree that mass incarceration is a problem, and state and federal efforts are underway to enact criminal-justice reform. But enacting effective reform requires an understanding of what caused the problem in the first place.


43 years in solitary: 'There are moments I wish I was back there'

Before walking out of jail a free man in February, Albert Woodfox spent 43 years almost without pause in an isolation cell, becoming the longest standing solitary confinement prisoner in America. He had no view of the sky from inside his 6ft by 9ft concrete box, no human contact, and taking a walk meant pacing from one end of the cell to the other and back again.

A few days ago he found himself on a beach in Galveston, Texas, in the company of a friend. He stood marvelling at all the beachgoers under a cloudless sky, and stared out over the Gulf of Mexico as it stretched far out to the horizon.

“You could hear the tide and the water coming in,” he says. “It was so strange, walking on the beach and all these people and kids running around.”

Of all the terrifying details of Woodfox’s four decades of solitary incarceration – the absence of human touch, the panic attacks and bouts of claustrophobia, the way they chained him even during the one hour a day he was allowed outside the cell – perhaps the most chilling aspect of all is what he says now. Two months after the state of Louisiana set him free on his 69th birthday, he says he sometimes wishes he was back in that cell.


The Life and Death of Daniel Berrigan

Rev. Daniel Berrigan, the renown anti-war activist, award-winning poet, author and Jesuit priest, who inspired religious opposition to the Vietnam war and later the U.S. nuclear weapons industry, died at age 94, just a week shy of his 95th birthday.

He died of natural causes at the Jesuit infirmary at Murray-Weigel Hall in the Bronx. I had visited him just last week. He has long been in declining health.

Dan Berrigan published over fifty books of poetry, essays, journals and scripture commentaries, as well as an award winning play, “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine,” in his remarkable life, but he was most known for burning draft files with homemade napalm along with his brother Philip and eight others on May 17, 1968, in Catonsville, Maryland, igniting widespread national protest against the Vietnam war, including increased opposition from religious communities. He was the first U.S. priest ever arrested in protest of war, at the national mobilization against the Vietnam war at the Pentagon in October, 1967. He was arrested hundreds of times since then in protests against war and nuclear weapons, spent two years of his life in prison, and was repeatedly nominated for the Nobel peace prize.


The Guardians of Mother Earth: The Indigenous U'wa struggle for peace in Colombia

This is first installment of "The Guardians of Mother Earth," an exclusive four-part series examining the Indigenous U'wa struggle for peace in Colombia.

On September 23, 2015, in the Palace of Conventions in Havana, Cuba, his excellency Juan Manuel Santos, the President of the Republic of Colombia, and Commander Timoleon Jimenez, Chief of General Staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, signed an agreement on transitional justice and reparations to the victims of the country's 51 year old civil war, resolving one of the final points in the country's peace negotiations.

“We are adversaries, we come from different sides, but today we move in the same direction,” said President Santos, “this noble direction that all societies can have, is one of peace.”

In a show of unity, the warring parties all wore white-collared shirts without ties, as they sat on opposite sides of the brown mahogany tables encircling an artificially bright-green shrubbery arrangement. Around the room’s perimeter stood a throng of reporters, crowded together behind a red rope line, snapping photos of the historic handshake between the president and the leader of the country's largest guerrilla army. A prolonged war that has killed more than 260,000 people and victimized and displaced seven million more seemed to be drawing to an end.

Among the victims of the conflict are the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia. Of the 102 tribal nations in existence today more than half are at risk of disappearing – forced displacement and mining on indigenous territory during the armed conflict have contributed heavily to the widespread demise.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Expulsion for Telling Truth About Native American Genocide

The fact that genocide was committed against Native Americans is indisputable and should be obvious to anyone who has taken an honest look at history. Unfortunately, there are still some people so deeply attached to American nationalism that they generally accept the philosophy of expansionism and colonialism practiced by conquering Europeans generations ago and carried on as the “Manifest Destiny” by the U.S. government in the 19th century. In many cases, teachers in public schools and government-regulated universities simply pass along the same lies about the founding of America that they were told in school.


Missing Mexican Students Suffered a Night of ‘Terror,’ Investigators Say

Municipal police officers encircled the bus, detonated tear gas, punctured the tires and forced the college students who were onboard to get off.
“We’re going to kill all of you,” the officers warned, according to the bus driver. A policeman approached the driver and pointed a pistol at his chest. “You, too,” the officer said.
With a military intelligence official looking on and state and federal police officers in the immediate vicinity, witnesses said, the students were put into police vehicles and taken away. They have not been seen since.
They were among the 43 students who vanished in the city of Iguala one night in September 2014 amid violent, chaotic circumstances laid bare by an international panel of investigators who have been examining the matter for more than a year. The reason for the students’ abduction remains a mystery.

Feds deciding if coal-export project violates tribal rights

For centuries, Lummi tribal fishermen have harvested, dug up clams and fished for salmon in the tidelands and waters of northwest Washington state.

Now, the tribe says a proposed $700 million project to build the nation’s largest coal-export terminal threatens that way of life. The tribe last year asked federal regulators to deny permits for project, saying it would interfere with the tribe’s treaty-reserved fishing rights.

The Gateway Pacific Terminal, a venture between SSA Marine and Cloud Peak Energy, would handle up to 54 million metric tons of dry bulk commodities, mostly coal, at a deep water port at Cherry Point. Coal would be shipped by train from Montana and Wyoming for export to Asia.

If the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency overseeing the permitting process, finds that the proposed terminal would disrupt the tribe’s rights to fish in its traditional areas, it won’t issue permits. A decision is expected this week.


Read more here:

Without a tribe: Fighting to stay Native American

Puerto Rican Independence movement is under a new wave of repression

The Puerto Rican Independence movement is under a new wave of repression. In the past 3 days 3 leading independence advocates have been detained by the FBI in Puerto Rico.
On Wednesday Orlando Gonzalez Claudio, a former political prisoner who in 1985 was arrested for his participation in the 1983 expropriation of 7 million from Wells Fargo carried out by the Macheteros was detained by the FBI and forced to submit to DNA testing.
On Thursday Norberto Cintron Fiallo, Chairman of the Coordinadora Cariben-a y Latinoamericana of Puerto Rico and federal grand jury resister was detained and forced to submit to DNA testing
On Friday Juan Segarra Palmer was also detained for the same purpose. Segarra Palmer is also a former political prisoner as a result of the Wells Fargo expropriation.
A federal judge has issued 16 warrants to force Pro independence fighters to submit to testing.
None have been notified prior and the names on the remaining warrants are unknown. The 3 detained so far have been stopped while on the road with heavy FBI presence.  The 3 are known totally committed to the Liberation of Puerto Rico and known not to be vulnerable to intimidation and for this reason it is widely understood that the tactics used by the FBI are aimed at attempting to intimidate people in Puerto Rico to not support Puerto Rican Independence. 
It is evident that a US government operation is once again at play in Puerto Rico.
It is widely believed that the investigation under witch these acts are being carried out is of a clandestine military operation carried out in Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico over 30 years ago which left 2 Navy men dead and 10 wounded.
So why is this investigation being carried out now????

It’s “National Reentry Week

It’s “National Reentry Week,” the federal government’s push to reduce recidivism rates for those being released from federal and state confinement. Start by making it easier for ex-offenders to obtain state IDs, says Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in a letter sent to the nation’s governors. Associated Press Related: “What I told the Attorney General about my criminal record.” Talk Poverty More: Details on the new individualized reentry plan for each federal inmate who will one day be released back into society. U.S. Department of Justice

Mass incarceration just isn’t worth the money

Mass incarceration just isn’t worth the money, concludes a new White House report focused on the economics of criminal justice. Raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour could prevent approximately 500,000 crimes annually, contends the Council of Economic Advisors, while investing $10 billion on police forces (instead of on locking up inmates) could reduce crime by 16 percent. The Washington Post Related: Conservatives come to the White House, preaching the need for a “cost-benefit” analysis to reduce prison populations. MarketWatch More: Watch video of the event.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Native Lives Matter goes beyond police brutality

Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other ethnic group in the U.S., but the national dialogue about racial bias and criminal justice reform continues to exclude them. The absence of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians from conversations about police brutality and social inequality exemplifies the United States’ complicity to the continued marginalization and neglect of Native communities.

Not only do Native Americans need to be included in the debate over police violence against minority populations, but their inclusion must also expand beyond such discussions to other social issues. Native men and women, for instance, are overrepresented in the prison system and as victims of sexual violence. Yet black and Latino males have become the faces of mass incarceration. Native students are suspended and referred to law enforcement and even expelled from schools at disproportionate rates. And Indian reservations have disproportionately high rates of poverty and unemployment.

Most Americans are unaware that a Native Lives Matter campaign even exists. Established in 2014, it speaks to the historical and contemporary oppression of indigenous people in the United States. With the national spotlight on police and criminal justice reform, the Native Lives Matter movement has an opportunity to highlight numerous issues affecting Native Americans.


Murders and crimes against Indians fly under the radar

When the family of Loren “Low” Two Eagle came into the offices of Native Sun News asking for help in solving the death of their relative, not a single person from federal, state, or tribal law enforcement contacted the family in response to the article published in NSN.

No flag-flown marches from the American Indian Movement. No demanding rallies from the Native Lives Matter group. No strongly-worded editorials from the Last Real Indians publication. No cyber-bullying from the United Urban Warrior Society. Nothing.

In fact, it was a lone relative on horseback who found Loren’s body floating in a small lake several days after he went missing in an area previously searched.

Three months later and the Two Eagle family have not even received an autopsy report. This lack of response does not allow for closure for the family of Loren Two Eagle. They officially don’t know his cause of death.


Race and justice in Oklahoma: Natives struggle to overcome disparity

After family members of several Native Americans with mental illness asked authorities for help, their relatives were killed by law enforcement. The scenario has played out in Custer County and elsewhere in western Oklahoma at least three times in recent years. This is the third in a three-part series exploring the case of Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, an 18-year-old member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, shot by sheriff's deputies after his father called 911. See also parts one and two.


British Parliament Tells NFL It Is ‘Unacceptable’ To Bring ‘New Racial Slurs’ To Britain

The Washington NFL team is scheduled to play in London this fall, and two members of the British Parliament aren’t happy about it.

“We were shocked to learn the derivation of the term ‘R*dskin,’ pertaining as it does to the historic abuse of Native Americans,” Ruth Smeeth and Ian Austin wrote in a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN. “The exportation of this racial slur to the UK this autumn, when the Washington team is due to play, directly contravenes the values that many in Britain have worked so hard to instill.”

The two members of the British Labor Party want the league to change the team’s name or, “at the minimum, send a different team to our country to represent the sport, one that does not promote a racial slur.”


Apple Goes to Court, and F.B.I. Presses Congress to Settle iPhone Privacy Fight

SAN FRANCISCO — The legal wrangling over a federal court order requiring Apple to help law enforcement break into an iPhone intensified Thursday, with the company filing its formal response and asking the court to drop its demand.

Other technology companies — Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo — also moved to throw their weight behind Apple in court. The companies said they planned to file one or more briefs backing Apple next week in federal court in California.

The flurry of legal activity by the companies came as the F.B.I. also escalated the matter, calling on Congress to settle the question of when law enforcement should get access to citizens’ private data. Apple earlier this week had also asked for Congress to step in.


Obama Administration Set to Expand Sharing of Data That N.S.A. Intercepts

ASHINGTON — The Obama administration is on the verge of permitting the National Security Agency to share more of the private communications it intercepts with other American intelligence agencies without first applying any privacy protections to them, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.

The change would relax longstanding restrictions on access to the contents of the phone calls and email the security agency vacuums up around the world, including bulk collection of satellite transmissions, communications between foreigners as they cross network switches in the United States, and messages acquired overseas or provided by allies.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lawmakers In Congress Introduce Bill To Create Special Commission On Encryption

As Apple and the FBI battle in a high-stakes court case over privacy and the reach of law enforcement, two members of Congress say it’s urgent to fast-track … a year-long discussion on encryption.       


Albert Woodfox and the Case Against Solitary Confinement

On Friday, February 19th, Albert Woodfox turned sixty-nine and walked out of a Louisiana prison, celebrating his first birthday as a free man in more than forty-five years. He had spent nearly all of the previous four and a half decades in solitary confinement. As far as we know, no one in the United States has been held in isolation for so long.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Send a post card to the White House for Leonard Peltier

Send a postcard to the White House. Urge President Obama to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier! It’s easy. Select the card you wish to send. Then provide your name and address. The ILPDC will do the rest.


50 Years Later Black Panther Political Prisoners Still Fight For Freedom

It's early on the Monday morning, post-snowmaggedon 2016, and I have an unexpected 10 minutes to spare. I know I should close my eyes, center myself for the day ahead, but instead I FaceTime Baba Sekou Odinga. I don't really have anything to say. Mostly I just pick on him, tell bad jokes, make faces, sing off-key. "Why you do that to that man," the homie Everton who has been navigating me through the storm all weekend, asks, laughing.


U.S. Marshals secretly tracked 6,000 cell phones using “stingray” technology

WASHINGTON — Federal marshals have secretly used powerful cellphone surveillance tools to hunt nearly 6,000 suspects throughout the United States, according to newly-disclosed records in which the agency inadvertently identified itself as the nation’s most prolific known user of phone-tracking devices.


Apple Faces U.S. Demand to Unlock 9 More iPhones

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is demanding Apple’s help in unlocking at least nine iPhones nationwide in addition to the phone used by one of the San Bernardino, Calif., attackers.

The disclosure appears to buttress the company’s concerns that the dispute could pose a threat to encryption safeguards that goes well beyond the single California case.

Apple is fighting the government’s demands in at least seven of the other nine cases, Marc J. Zwillinger, a lawyer for the company, said in a letter unsealed in federal court on Tuesday.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Feb. 27 National Student Day of Action: Demand Obama Grant Clemency to Leonard Peltier!

Call for National Student Day of Action: Demand Obama Grant Clemency to Leonard Peltier! 

On February 27, 2016, students across the country are calling for a National Day of Action to demand that Obama grant clemency to Leonard Peltier. Peltier is an American Indian Movement (AIM) activist and 40 year political prisoner of the United States government. We uphold that Peltier has been wrongfully charged with the killing of two FBI agents and is unjustly incarcerated.

For resources, ideas and event locations announced to date:

Does prolonged isolation constitute “cruel and unusual punishment”?

A federal judge in Pennsylvania earlier this month ordered a jury trial for an inmate, a former Black Panther, who spent 30 years in isolated detention. He is challenging the punishment as “cruel and unusual,” and if the case actually goes to trial (instead of being settled, as similar cases have been), it could profoundly impact the national legal debate over solitary confinement.


The first day of the rest of his life: Albert Woodfox

The first thing that Albert Woodfox did after being released from a Louisiana prison on Friday was try to visit his mother’s grave. The cemetery was closed. So he went back the next day. We interviewed George Kendall, one of a team of attorneys who worked for years to gain the release of the final incarcerated member of the Angola 3. Kendall says his client never lost hope, even during his 42 years of solitary confinement. The Marshall Project Related: “I would not let them drive me insane,” Woodfox says on the day after his release. The Guardian Related: The deal was in the best interests of justice, say Louisiana prosecutors. The Advocate

Hundreds in ABQ march against hate and fascism

...In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the 51st Anniversary of Malcolm X’s death was a day used to unite against hate and its main proponent in the electoral arena, Donald Trump. Immigrants, women’s rights groups, Indigenous coalitions, faith communities, socialists, progressives, and community activists joined together in a united front against hate. A message was sent loud and clear: The people will not stand for racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-immigrant bigotry, police brutality and imperialism abroad.

Nearly 45 organizations including the Albuquerque Teachers Union, Southwest Organizing Project, Santa Feans for Justice in Palestine, Albuquerque People for Bernie Sanders, Jewish Voice for Peace, Stop the War Machine, and the ANSWER Coalition, and over five hundred people joined in the March and Rally to Unite against Hate. This event drew people from all sectors of the working class, and people from small children to elders in the movement joined each other in speaking and standing out against all forms of bigotry.

...The rally turned into a march with over 500 people filling the streets of downtown Albuquerque with chants including “Hey hey ho ho, Racism has got to go,” “Can you hear us loud and clear, Immigrants are welcome here” and “Dump Trump, Dump Trump.” During the march a moment of silence was held in front of the Federal Courthouse in honor of AIM leader and political prisoner Leonard Peltier. After the moment of silence there was a speech given by Nick Estes of The Red Nation Coalition that addressed the violence, mass incarceration, environmental degradation, and political repression faced by Indigenous People.


Don't Break Our Phones

Did you watch Good Morning America today?

Rallies opposing an FBI “backdoor” to the iPhone were a featured story!

We’re always working to help make complicated tech policy issues understandable for the general public, but this is one of the biggest and most successful things we’ve ever done.

This week, millions of people will hear for the first time how important the security of our phones is to the security of systems we depend on every day—like our bank accounts, hospitals, and airports. They’ll hear about encryption, and how it keeps them safe. This debate is about so much more than privacy, and we’re helping educate the public about the real risks of giving the FBI a backdoor.

There are rallies at 5:30pm TODAY in nearly 50 cities, and there will be tons of media there. We need as many people as possible to show up! Click here to find a protest near you.


Will you fight for Leonard Peltier?

i'm fighting for leonard peltier, WILL YOU? call President Obama @ (202) 456-1111.

The Supreme Court and Police Searches

Should incriminating evidence be used against a defendant if it was discovered in the course of an illegal police stop?

That was the question before the Supreme Court on Monday, the first day of oral arguments since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The court has been weakening the Fourth Amendment’s defense against illegal searches for years. Monday’s case gives the justices an opportunity to restore some of its power.

The case, Utah v. Strieff, started in 2006, when the Salt Lake City police got an anonymous tip reporting drug activity at a house. An officer monitored the house for several days and became suspicious at the number of people he saw entering and leaving. When one of those people, Edward Strieff, left to walk to a nearby convenience store, the officer stopped him and asked for his identification.

A routine check revealed that Mr. Strieff had an outstanding “small traffic warrant.” The officer arrested him based on that earlier warrant, searched him and found a bag of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in his pockets.


The Plan to Shut Down Gitmo

The Obama administration this week will begin the task of trying to persuade Congress to support its plan to shut down the prison in Guantánamo Bay before the president leaves office in January.

Republican lawmakers all too often have been reflexive and thoughtless in their opposition to closing Guantánamo, one of the most shameful chapters in America’s recent history. Closing the prison by the end of the year is feasible. It would make the United States safer, help restore America’s standing as a champion of human rights and save taxpayers millions of dollars.

In recent weeks, the Pentagon and the State Department have made considerable progress toward the goal of further reducing the number of inmates at Guantánamo, which stands at 91. Of those inmates, the government expects to resettle 35 in other countries by this summer.


Seas Are Rising at Fastest Rate in Last 28 Centuries

The worsening of tidal flooding in American coastal communities is largely a consequence of greenhouse gases from human activity, and the problem will grow far worse in coming decades, scientists reported Monday.

Those emissions, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, are causing the ocean to rise at the fastest rate since at least the founding of ancient Rome, the scientists said. They added that in the absence of human emissions, the ocean surface would be rising less rapidly and might even be falling.

The increasingly routine tidal flooding is making life miserable in places like Miami Beach; Charleston, S.C.; and Norfolk, Va., even on sunny days.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Send Leonard Peltier home!

New York, Feb. 6 — African-American, Puerto Rican, Palestinian and other organizations joined with the attorneys for Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier at a meeting at the Martin Luther King Labor Center here this evening to raise funds for his defense on the 40th anniversary of his imprisonment.


Feb. 27: Students mobilize for clemency for Leonard Peltier, Omaha, NE

Students are organizing this action in Omaha, Nebraska! 27 February Students' National Day of Action for Leonard Peltier!

Free Leonard Peltier 2016 NYC (Part 1 & 2)

International Day of Solidarity with Leonard Peltier

INGLEWOOD - In a day-long event, members of the Southern California chapter of the American Indian Movement, along with other members of the Native community and social justice activists, called for clemency for AIM activist Leonard Peltier, imprisoned since 1977 on trumped-up charges. The day featured speeches from well-known figures from the movement in defense of indigenous rights, musical and poetic performances, drums, and prayer.


Oglala Sioux Tribe’s VP Tom Poor Bear Denied Entry to See Leonard Peltier; Tribal ID Not Good Enough

COLEMAN, FLORIDA — After traveling a long distance, Oglala Sioux Tribe Vice President Tom Poor Bear was denied access UPS Coleman I where he went to visit Leonard Peltier, who is incarcerated at Coleman.

Poor Bear was told by the prison guard at the receptionist desk that she could not accept his valid tribal photo identification. Vice President Poor Bear recalls that on a previous visit with Leonard Peltier at the same facility nearly two years ago, the very same guard accepted the same identification and allowed VP Poor Bear to enter the prison.


'Free Leonard Peltier' campaign comes to Belfast – 40 years in prison

THE CAMPAIGN to highlight the fact that American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier has now spent 40 years in prison was brought to Belfast this month.

’40 Years Is Enough’ Bring Peltier Home with International Day of Solidarity

Leonard Peltier supporters gathered in New York, California, Oregon, Paris, Barcelona, Belfast, Brussels and Berlin on Saturday February 6, 2016, for an International Day of Solidarity. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, home to the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, an overflow multi-generational crowd congregated at the First Unitarian Church to commemorate with prayer, discussion, music, dance and drumming the 40th anniversary of Peltier's incarceration in the U.S. federal prison system. “Twice as many people as last year,” according to Peter Clark, co-director of the Defense Committee, “More than any Peltier event in Albuquerque in recent memory.”

Panelists included Diné elder Lenny Foster, Peltier's long-time spiritual adviser who has visited the political prisoner every year since 1985, conducted sweat lodges in the prison system “before it was chic to do so;” singer, domestic violence activist and former Miss Navajo, Radmilla Cody, who related some of her own experiences of incarceration; and John Torres Nez, president of the Indigenous Fine Arts Market (IFAM), who exhibited Leonard's artworks this past August in Santa Fe. They all conveyed variations on a straightforward message—“40 years is enough, it's time to bring him home.”


Olympia, WA: National Day of Action. 24 Feb. 2016

National Student Day of Action for Leonard Peltier, Olympia, WA: We are organizing a rally in Red Square at Evergreen as a part of the National Student Day of Action followed by a letter writing and call in party. It will be on Wednesday February 24th from 12:30 to 2:30 (one hour for the rally, one hour for letter writing).

CENSORED NEWS: PARIS: Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier to be Ho...

CENSORED NEWS: PARIS: Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier to be Ho...: New! Poster in French for March 6, 2016 event in Paris. PARIS: Leonard Peltier receiving Frantz Fanon Revolutionary Thinking Award ...

CENSORED NEWS: Bad Bear's Photos 'Reno AIM Rally for Leonard Pelt...

CENSORED NEWS: Bad Bear's Photos 'Reno AIM Rally for Leonard Pelt...: . . Photos today in Reno by Carl 'Bad Bear' Sampson Western Shoshone AIM Rally for Leonard...

Call for National Student Day of Action: Demand Obama Grant Clemency to Leonard Peltier!

For Immediate Release

Press Release National Contacts:

Hope Alvarado, University of New Mexico 505-319-7394

Mitchell Harry University of Nebraska-Omaha 209-271-4557

Call for National Student Day of Action: Demand Obama Grant Clemency to Leonard Peltier!

On February 27, 2016, students across the country are calling for a National Day of Action to demand that Obama grant clemency to Leonard Peltier. Peltier is an American Indian Movement (AIM) activist and 40 year political prisoner of the United States government.

We uphold that Peltier has been wrongfully charged with the killing of two FBI agents and is unjustly incarcerated. February 27 is an historic date for the American Indian  Movement (AIM) movement. On this day in 1973 activists began a second occupation of Wounded Knee for 71 days. This was to protest the  failure of the United States to fulfill treaty obligations and the corruption of the Oglala tribal government. February 27th is now known as Wounded Knee Liberation Day.

This is the last year of Obama’s presidency, and what many activists believe to be the last chance for Peltier to be granted clemency. We call on all progressive student organizations nationally and internationally to join us by taking action to demand Peltier’s freedom!

As soon as I heard about it I started organizing. Leonard deserves to come home, he’s an almost forgot hero and champion for native peoples. He did so much for so many without asking for anything return, so I believe it’s our turn to do for him, to educate this generation, stand up as one voice and demand they let an innocent man come home.
Mitchell Harry, Omaha, Nebraska, Nebraska-Omaha Intertribal Student Association

Leonard Peltier is a hero of the people who are fought for the liberation of the First Nations people against the settler colonial US state. RSCC honors the contributions Peltier and the American Indian Movement made to the struggle for all oppressed people for liberation. We demand the complete and unconditional liberation of Peltier and all political prisoners from US prison, and call all student groups throughout the country to join the fight to see Peltier free this year.
Persi Lacan, NYC, Lehman College,  Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee New York City

Upon the 40th anniversary of his imprisonment by the U.S. government, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) demands clemency for Leonard Peltier. Peltier is a 71 year old Chippewa-Lakota activist who was involved in the American Indian Movement (AIM), currently held in a maximum penitentiary for fighting for indigenous rights and self-determination. The fight to free Peltier is an important part of the larger struggle for freedom for all political prisoners, and genuine self-determination for indigenous people of the U.S.!
Danya Zituni, University of South Florida, Students for a Democratic Society  

I am participating in the national day of action for peltier because I believe that it is wrong ethically, morally and spiritually to imprison a man, who is suffering physically, mentally & emotionally. The health problems he has should he taken care of. This man has done so much good for our native peoples.
Hope Alvarado, University of New Mexico, Kiva Club

“The students of Fort Lewis College are participating in the National Student Day of Action: Demand Clemency Now for Leonard Peltier because a nation that holds political prisoners is NOT a “land of the free”. Native People have seen their rights as human beings trampled on by the United States of America ever since its inception. From land theft, to massacres, to boarding schools, to sterilization, and more – an endless parade of violations of the most basic human rights. The Leonard Peltier case, it’s manufactured evidence, and the lies by representatives of the Federal government are just one more example. It all must stop. The “land of the free” must be free for all, or it is nothing but a lie.” 
Ken Walker, Fort Lewis College, Sociology Club

I will participate in the Leonard Peltier day of action in order to uphold the national liberation movements, and political prisoners, as SDS’ national line dictates. Political repression has a particular character in relation to those from US internal colonies. Thus, an imprisoned Indigenous man parallels the position of Indigenous nations today, and to struggle for the freedom of Leonard Peltier is a necessary struggle in the fight for the liberation of Indigenous nations in general!
Elizabeth A’ya University of South Florida, Students for a Democratic Society

“I’m participating in the day of action because Leonard Peltier and the American Indian Movement as a whole are examples of legitimate resistance against an unjust set of realities. AIM itself was created out of the need to address the rampant unemployment, poverty, racism, and police harassment which confronted Native Americans. This day of action, and much more afterward, are needed not just because a man fighting against the actually violent United States government has been locked up for a “crime” which two other people were acquitted for, but also because those meager conditions of existence are still forced upon Native American peoples.”
Mark Einstadt, Delaware County Community College, Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee Philadelphia

List of participating and endorsing organizations:

*The International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee has both endorsed and supported the organizing of this call*
Kiva Club – UNM
Red Student Faction – UNM
Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee
New York City Students For Justice in Palestine
Revolutionary Alliance of Trans People Against Capitalism
UNM Students for Justice in Palestine
Mecha de UNM
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Al-Awda New York: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
NYC Free Peltier
Lifee Organization
Wood Stock Earth Blog
Students Organizing Actions for Peace – UNM
Fort Lewis College: Sociology Club
New Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
Diné Relief Initiative