You are hereCivil Rights / Liberties
Civil Rights / Liberties
And of course, we have George W. Bush, a big-government conservative, who curiously wins, as Bovard notes, a 57 percent approval rating from the “small government” Tea Partiers. Yet in parallel with his war on terror, domestic spending increased more than any president since Lyndon Johnson, and he dramatically increased executive power to near tyrannical proportions by illegally using torture, wiretapping, and indefinite detentions without trial.
As Bovard notes, Tea Partiers are right-wing Obama-haters rather than liberty-lovers. And like their icon Sarah Palin, they seem proudly ignorant of history.
In an astute op-ed piece in the Christian Science Monitor, James Bovard points out that the love of liberty by the Tea Party crowd usually takes a backseat to a hatred of President Obama and the Left. After attending a tax day Tea Party event in Rockville, Md., a suburb of the nation’s capital, Bovard reported that the Tea Partiers oppose big government from the Left but not from the Right. Big government from the Right usually involves warfare and its accompanying enhanced police powers at home, which usually severely erode the liberty Tea Partiers claim to stand for. For example, the tea sippers extended their pinkies in a salute to torture, harsh policies toward Iran, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They didn’t seem to mind the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping and vacuuming up of ordinary Americans’ phone calls either, according to Bovard.
Yet of all the causes of big government in human history, warfare is the most important. The nation-state originally came into being because wars had become too expensive for mere kingdoms to handle.
And then the welfare state followed the warfare state. In fact, a militaristic conservative, Otto von Bismarck, created the first modern welfare state in Germany in the latter part of the 19th century.
In American history too, welfare has followed warfare. The roots of the Social Security system were planted with pensions for Civil War veterans. The progressive movement—with its counterproductive regulations on business that hurt the consumers it was trying to help—followed the Spanish-American colonial war. Read more.
In a 74 to 37 vote, House lawmakers narrowly overrode Gov. Mark Sanford's veto of the warrant-less search bill Wednesday.
That means law enforcement will soon be able to search those on probation and parole without a warrant.
Earlier this month, the Senate overrode the veto, meaning the bill can now become law. The bill applies to the bodies and vehicles of those on probation and parole but not their homes.
Velvet Revolution's Stop the Chamber Announces Launch of "Protect Our Elections" Campaign | Press Release | April 30, 2010
Watchdog Groups Applaud The DISCLOSE Act As An Important Step To Mitigate The Corrosive Influence Of Corporations On Our Elections
Yesterday, a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives, led by Charles Schumer and Chris Van Hollen, introduced legislation to mitigate the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which overturned 100 years of precedent by ruling that corporations can spend unlimited funds to influence elections.
The DISCLOSE Act (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections), when passed, will help ensure that the candidates who win American elections are those who receive the most votes from citizens rather than those who receive the most money from Big Business.
“Every American has seen this year that corporations cannot be trusted to serve the best interests of the people, with Wall Street ripoffs, worker deaths, bank failures and massive executive salaries,” said StopTheChamber.com spokesman and attorney Kevin Zeese. “Corporate robber barons, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have said that they will spend more than $100 million to elect Congress Members this year who will do their bidding. This corruption of elections is opposed by the vast majority of Americans. The DISCLOSE Act will require disclosure about corporate advertising, create stand-by-your ad requirements for CEOs, and bar foreign corporations with domestic subsidiaries, federal contractors and TARP recipients from spending their money on elections. This is a much needed first step toward returning honesty to our democracy.”
StopTheChamber.com will be launching a new campaign in the coming days called Protect Our Elections that will not only bring massive grassroots support to pass the DISCLOSE Act, but also to pass a whole host of pending election protection legislation, including anti-caging, anti-purging, provisional ballot counting, anti-deceptive practices, and felon enfranchisement. Passage of these bills will protect millions of existing voters and allow millions of new voters to participate in our elections.
“After more than a decade of assaults on our elections, we are fighting back with demands for transparency, honesty, and fairness,” said Zeese. “We will no longer allow corporations or partisans to run our elections with secret money or secret software that counts the votes. These are direct threats to our democracy that we are confronting, once and for all.”
Dear Election Integrity Colleagues,
You may have been hearing about some of our changes.
- We have reorganized. We are re-energized.
- Our work in the field has continued, with our ongoing projects and with some new ones as well.
- We are poised to undertake additional projects as new elections approach.
- We look forward to collaborating with many of you again, and working with many of you we haven’t worked with yet.
- EDA has reorganized. We have a new Executive Director, Jonathan Simon, and new Co-Director Sally Castleman, both co-founders of EDA. Their commitment to this work began more than six years ago. Dan Ashby is no longer with EDA. We thank him for his many contributions to this work.
Several new leaders have joined our efforts, including Ramon Sevilla, a long-time leader in the Latin-American community, and Professor Harold Lecar of UCBerkeley, who has contributed some outstanding analyses of election data.
- EDA’s work in the field has continued. Our leaders continue important work in Arizona, New York, California, Texas and New Hampshire. We have also begun to focus on the electoral situation in Massachusetts, where the recent Special Election for US Senate was beset with anomalies and demonstrably among the most “faith-based” election in US history.
- We are in the midst of planning and undertaking new projects as well. We are also updating our website to be simpler and more user-friendly. Please bear with us through the transition. If any of you would like to work with us, updating the front–page news or other web features, please write to Nancy Tobi at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to work with us in other ways, please contact Marj Creech at email@example.com.
- We are open to hearing about your work and how we may support you or collaborate in any way. There is more than enough work for all of us, but working together, sharing experiences and sharing resources can be to the benefit of all.
We welcome your ideas, comments, support – indeed your input of all kinds. If you wish to comment, please write to Sally at firstname.lastname@example.org. Achieving open and transparent vote-counting is of vital importance to all of us and to the survival of our democracy. The resistance, as we have seen, is astonishing. So must be our effort and our determination.
The EDA National Leadership Team:
Good News! Due to the success of an action taken by hundreds of activists in solidarity with Richmond May Day 2010 through a 24 hour letter writing campaign, with over 350 signatures, targeting Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood (Richmond City Chief of Police) and Mayor Dwight C. Jones (Richmond City Mayor) we were granted a permit allowing the use of the street to march.
The letter was concerning their requirement that organizers be responsible for the hiring of off duty police officers, an infringement on our First Amendment Right to free speech and freedom of assembly. Without all of your diligent solidarity and action including the experience and advising efforts of the Virginia ACLU and Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, we have avoided a potentially dangerous situation. The city has granted two police vehicles at no cost to the organizers as an escort to Richmond May Day Parade 2010.
We still plan to work closely with the ACLU from this point forward to insure that anyone else who wishes to exercise their First Amendment Rights may do so without the deterrent of any government ordinance requiring payment to do so.
Richmond May Day Organizing Committee 2010
BROOKLYN HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS ENERGIZE THE GRANDMOTHERS AGAINST THE WAR VIGIL AT ROCKEFELLER CENTER
By Joan Wile
Don't despair, folks. All our young people are not indifferent to the fact that the United States is still engaged in reprehensible occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. We anti-war grandmothers had heartening proof of this yesterday, April 27, when 20 African-American and Latino Brooklyn high school seniors joined our Grandmothers Against the War vigil at Rockefeller Center.
These teens from the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, every single one college-bound, were led on a field trip to our protest by their outstanding teacher, Stephen Simons, and his co-teacher, Jacques Hoffman. The class is entitled Social Economics -- they had been studying the economics of warfare, and came to us for a little enlightenment and, we hope, inspiration. To say we were knocked out by the fact that such a class is in a high school curriculum is an understatement, and the teachers are to be highly commended.
In our six and a half years conducting the vigil, we had often bemoaned the fact that American youths, unlike those during the Vietnam War, seemed oblivious to a crisis we believe is of the utmost urgency to them. After intermingling with these wonderful young people, however, we feel a little more hopeful.
We are well aware that the draft is largely what drew our youth to the anti-Vietnam war movement in the 60's and 70's. They felt threatened, of course, as well they should have. Without a draft in the current combustible circumstances, however, somehow young people feel immune to the dangers confronting them, not only the potential for their someday having to fight in the military, but the effects the wars have on their lives in very immediate terms. They are largely unaware of the relationship between the huge costs of war and the lack of funds for education, health care, and, so important for their eventual lives after school, jobs.
But, not these kids. Mr. Simons and Mr. Hoffman have educated them well in the economics of war. The underlying emphasis of the class is to consider the old dilemma -- guns or butter. To help them draw conclusions in that regard, they've been made aware of the enormous part of the budget delegated for the wars, and they know the impact of military spending on their own Brooklyn community. They've learned that according to the National Priorities Project, $88,000 of Brooklyn taxpayer money goes to the war in Afghanistan every hour.
JURIST Contributing Editor Marjorie Cohn of Thomas Jefferson School of Law says that Arizona's new immigration legislation - requiring law enforcement officers to stop everyone whom they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is an undocumented immigrant and arrest them if they fail to produce their papers - demeans us all by effectively legalizing racial profiling...
The conservative “states’ rights” mantra sweeping our country has led to one of the most egregious wrongs in recent U.S. history. New legislation in Arizona requires law enforcement officers to stop everyone whom they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is an undocumented immigrant and arrest them if they fail to produce their papers. What constitutes “reasonable suspicion”? When asked what an undocumented person looks like, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who signed SB 1070 into law last week, said, “I don’t know what an undocumented person looks like.” The bill does not prohibit police from relying on race or ethnicity in deciding who to stop. It is unlikely that officers will detain Irish or German immigrants to check their documents. This law unconstitutionally criminalizes “walking while brown” in Arizona.
Former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods explained to Brewer that SB 1070 would vest too much discretion in the state police and lead to racial profiling and expensive legal fees for the state. But the governor evidently succumbed to racist pressure as she faces a reelection campaign. Woods said, “[Brewer] really felt that the majority of Arizonans fall on the side of, ‘Let’s solve the problem and not worry about the Constitution.’” The polls Brewer apparently relied on, however, employed questionable methodology and were conducted before heavy media coverage of the controversial legislation. No Democrats and all but one Republican Arizona legislator voted for SB 1070.
Undocumented immigrants in Arizona now face six months in jail and a $500 fine for the first offense – misdemeanor trespass – and an additional $1,000 fine for the second offense, which becomes a felony. Read more.
On April 20, Reuters headlined, "Arizona passes tough illegal immigration law," saying:
State lawmakers "passed a controversial immigration bill on Monday (April 19) requiring police in the state (to) determine if people are in the United States illegally, a measure critics say is open to racial profiling."
Called "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act," the Arizona House and Senate passed it, sending it to Governor Jan Brewer who signed it on April 23 to make it Arizona law.
The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) works for "a just immigration and refugee policy in the United States (for) all immigrants, regardless of immigration status....advocating for their full labor, environmental, civil and human rights."
"We are ALL Arizona," it said before the bill became law. "Stop the Criminalization of Immigrants, End Racial Profiling! Tell AZ Governor to Veto (this) Anti-Immigrant Bill," saying:
"The Arizona State Legislature just passed a law (SB 1070) that legalizes unchecked racial profiling by police of anyone they 'suspect' is undocumented. It would criminalize all undocumented immigrants as 'trespassers' and subject them to misdemeanor or, in some cases, felony charges for a new 'trespass' crime."
In a letter to Governor Brewer urging her veto, NNIIR said:
"If you sign SB 1070 into law, you will make Arizona a police state unprecedented in modern US history.
UW Campus Antiwar Network: Antiwar panel scheduled for Monday at 7:00 at Memorial Union featuring activist Cindy Sheehan cancelled by union staff due to "security concerns" | Wis Politics | Press Release
Note to Attendees: Event attendees are set to meet at the front steps of the Union at 6:45 PM, and from there, the panel will either be held there, in the Union lobby, or in Lakefront on Langdon in the Union.
To Members of the Press:
An antiwar panel sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Havens Center, Campus Antiwar Network, Middle East Interest Group, and the Wisconsin Union Directorate's Society and Politics Committee and scheduled for Monday, April 26 at 7:00 PM in Memorial Union has been cancelled by the Union Building/Event Management Director, Roger Vogts, due to a last-minute expression of "security concerns" that would accompany antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan's visit. Vogts said that he could not contact security over the weekend because, apparently, phones don't work over the weekend.
On top of that, those organizing the event would have to foot the bill for the security, even though Sheehan never requested security to begin with, and even though no organizations involved with this event had enough money to foot the expensive bill this late in the game, either.
The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear, in its Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (505 U.S. 123, 1992) decision, that "Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob" (emphasis mine). Since the Union's Central Reservations presides over a viewpoint-neutral limited public forum at the Union and other facilities, the Union is necessarily bound by the same constitutional demands as the local government in Forsyth County. In other words, it is unconstitutional for any viewpoint-neutral limited public forum to deny any organization their free speech rights on the grounds that they are unable to provide for extra security costs related to the exercise of that free speech.
From A Kinder Gentler Gitmo:
The more humane conditions at Guantánamo reflect the path the Obama administration has chosen to take on national security -- embracing Bush-era policies with minor substantive changes and a dramatic change in tone. This is Bush with a smile. Unsurprisingly, many of the underlying problems remain. The commissions are still operating without a manual providing guidelines on the new military commissions statute, because the Department of Defense has yet to provide one. Guantánamo Bay has not ceased to be the national-security liability and terrorist recruitment bonanza that had everyone from George W. Bush to Gen. David Petraeus arguing that it should be closed. While torture and inhumane treatment at Guantánamo have been banned by Obama's executive order, the defining injustice of Gitmo -- the indefinite imprisonment of individuals without trial or charge -- remains. Communal living and art classes won't change that.
Jan. 21, 2010, will go down as a dark day in the history of U.S. democracy, and its decline.
On that day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government may not ban corporations from political spending on elections—a decision that profoundly affects government policy, both domestic and international.
The decision heralds even further corporate takeover of the U.S. political system.
To the editors of The New York Times, the ruling “strikes at the heart of democracy” by having “paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.”
The court was split, 5-4, with the four reactionary judges (misleadingly called “conservative”) joined by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. selected a case that could easily have been settled on narrow grounds and maneuvered the court into using it to push through a far-reaching decision that overturns a century of precedents restricting corporate contributions to federal campaigns. Read more.
ScienceDaily (Apr. 20, 2010) — As airport security employees scan luggage for a large variety of banned items, they may miss a deadly box cutter if they find a water bottle first.
According to new research at Duke University, identifying an easy-to-spot prohibited item such as a water bottle may hinder the discovery of other, harder-to-spot items in the same scan.
Missing items in a complex visual search is not a new idea: in the medical field, it has been known since the 1960s that radiologists tend to miss a second abnormality on an X-ray if they've found one already. The concept -- dubbed "satisfaction of search" -- is that radiologists would find the first target, think they were finished, and move on to the next patient's X-ray.
Go Ahead and Kill Americans, But Don't Dare Search the Pockets on the Corpses Unless You've Got a Warrant
As a matter of U.S. law, had the administration wanted merely to listen to Awlaki's cellphone conversations or read his e-mails, it would have needed to check with another branch of government — the judiciary. But to target him for death, the executive branch appears to have acted alone.
It adds up to this: Awlaki's right to privacy exceeds his right to life.
Since when has the fate of an American citizen — his privacy, his liberty, his life — rested solely within the hands of the executive branch of government?
By David Swanson
Franz Kafka's book "The Trial" begins "Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning." There follow many thousands of words describing the ordeal of someone denied the right to know the charges against him, to face his accusers, to be given a fair and speedy trial by a jury of his peers, and so forth. We have read thousands of stories of such "Kafkan" experiences since the advent of the Global War of Terror. But we need a different kind of story now.
Stock deals are rigged for insiders. Big money runs Congress. And we've gone to war based on a series of calculated lies.
Are you willing to accept the fact that our elections are subject to the same type of corruption?
If you are, then Proving Election Fraud by Richard Charnin pulls back the curtain and exposes the pattern of election fraud over the past four decades. It's not a mystery when your look at the numbers and check them against multiple public sources. The information is all there - if the experts care to look.
Charnin is the widely known internet poster using the name TruthIsAll. He was the first to discover the glaring discrepancies in the 2004 election results shortly after the polls closed. His internet posts on the mathematical impossibility of a Bush victory were critical in fueling the doubts about that election and those that followed.
His many posts are the basis for a consistent narrative and argument using a clearly outlined and heavily quantified analysis. The result is a wealth of information about how elections really work and a methodology (the True Vote Model) that allows the interested reader to check the official results of any national or state election.
Charnin's straightforward style fits his subject matter. For example, early on he makes a powerful point, one of many that appear throughout the book:
"Simple mathematics proves that the 1968, 1988, 2004 and 2008 elections were fraudulent. The returning voter mix required for the Final Exit Poll to match the recorded vote was not just implausible -- it was impossible. In each election, more voters from the prior election returned to vote than were alive. The fact that they were returning Nixon, Bush 1 and Bush 2 voters cannot just be a coincidence. The statistical anomaly has no rational explanation other than election fraud." (p.52)
When the official victory margin includes dead voters and excludes uncounted votes, it's more than reasonable to assume election fraud. Read more.
Westchester County residents who were arrested at West Point in 2004 for protesting the Iraq War are today filing an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit seeking to overturn a jury verdict in July 2009 that supported the Garrison Commander and Facilities Manager who expelled them from Hollender Center, had them arrested and then barred them from West Point for five years.
The appeal challenges US District Judge Stephen Robinson's March 31,2010 rejection of an appeal by the protesters to either overturn the verdict or order a new trial.
Diversity dead-end: Inclusiveness without accountability
By Robert Jensen
After a recent talk on racism and other illegitimate hierarchies at a diversity conference in Dallas, I received a letter from one of the people who had attended that asked “why you feel it necessary to perpetuate and even exacerbate the divisiveness of language when addressing a group of people assembled to learn how to live better together and be more accepting of differences?” He suggested that by being so sharply critical, I was part of the problem not the solution.
Calls for diversity and inclusiveness from people with privilege (such as a white man with a professional job living in the United States) are meaningful only when we are willing to address the systems and structures of power in which inequality and discrimination are rooted. But because such a critique strikes many people as too radical, crafting a response to those who want to avoid that analysis is crucial to the struggle for progressive social change. Below is my letter to him.
Dear ____: Thanks for the note and the challenge to my presentation. It’s clear we disagree, and getting clearer about where we differ is important.
First, I disagree with your suggestion that we should not assess blame for existing patterns of racial inequality and injustice, though I would substitute the word “accountability” for “blame.” I can’t imagine how we could move forward on any question of injustice without holding those responsible for the injustice accountable, which means holding ourselves accountable. This reflects a basic moral principle -- those who inflict injuries, or turn away when they see others inflicting injuries, must be accountable for their behavior.
To recognize the injustice, as you do, but then demand that we ignore the patterns at the root of the injustice in order to reach a state of inclusiveness is counterproductive. That simply allows people in positions of power and privilege to escape accountability, which inevitably places the political and psychological burdens on those with less power and privilege. That’s simply not fair.
Supreme Court Overturns Law Banning Depictions of Animal Cruelty
Justices Vote 8 to 1 in Dogfighting Video Case, Call Law 'Substantially Overbroad'
By Ariane de Vogue | ABC News
The Supreme Court today invalidated a federal law that had criminalized the sale of certain depictions of animal cruelty, including violent dogfighting videos.
An 8-1 majority on the Court said that the law was "substantially overbroad, and therefore invalid under the First Amendment," affirming the right of free speech in the face of some government-imposed restrictions.
The government had argued that showing animals being mutilated, tortured or killed was so explicit that it should be banned. But today Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said "We disagree."
"The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs," Roberts said. Read more.
Dorothy Height was born on the same day as my father (March 24). I'm not sure if that means anything, but it sure feels significant to me. Like my father, Height has had a dramatic influence on how I see the world, and what it means to have courage. She was accepted to Barnard College (the sister school for Columbia University), but not allowed to attend the school because they'd already accepted their two black students for the year. When my goddaughter takes it for granted that she attends Barnard today, I remind her of the struggles of Dorothy Height.
Barnard eventually apologized to Height for not admitting her to the university, but some apologies come entirely too late. By the age of 68, Dorothy had reached retirement age: too old to attend Barnard, but still young and restless in her tireless quest for social justice. Her journey for justice would continue another 30 years after the 1980 apology by the university. This reminds us that it's never too late for us to start changing the world, and the best time to start that process is now.
Representing the beauty of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc, Height served as president of the organization for over a decade. She also advised kings and queens in America, standing next to Dr. Martin Luther King in addition to Eleanor Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson. She reminded Eisenhower that black kids should be allowed to attend the same schools as whites, and helped President Johnson understand that black women deserve to serve at the highest levels of government. Read more.
Hundreds of times in the next two weeks, the filing says, the program did its job each time it was turned on: A tiny camera atop the laptop snapped a photo, software inside copied the laptop screen image, and a locating device recorded the Internet address - something that could help district technicians pinpoint where the machine was.
The system was designed to take a new picture every 15 minutes until it was turned off.
The system that Lower Merion school officials used to track lost and stolen laptops wound up secretly capturing thousands of images, including photographs of students in their homes, Web sites they visited, and excerpts of their online chats, says a new motion filed in a suit against the district.
More than once, the motion asserts, the camera on Robbins' school-issued laptop took photos of Robbins as he slept in his bed. Each time, it fired the images off to network servers at the school district.
Back at district offices, the Robbins motion says, employees with access to the images marveled at the tracking software. It was like a window into "a little LMSD soap opera," a staffer is quoted as saying in an e-mail to Carol Cafiero, the administrator running the program.
"I know, I love it," she is quoted as having replied. Read more.
Treatment of New York Detainee Is ”Legalised Torture”
By William Fisher | Faxts
For the past almost three years, a U.S. citizen, Syed Fahad Hashmi, has been held in isolation in a federal detention centre in New York City.
Hashmi is under 24-hour video and audio surveillance, even when he uses the toilet. He eats all his meals in his small cell. He is not allowed to communicate with other prisoners. He is a Muslim but is not allowed to participate in group prayer.
The month-old newspapers he receives have whole sections cut out of them by the government. Contact with the media is forbidden. For one hour every other week, one member of his family can ”visit” through a heavy screen. No touching or hugging is allowed or possible.
Sometimes the government takes away his family visits as punishment. In 2008, he lost his visits for three months and has not had family visits since December. Sometimes the government does not allow his family to see him when they arrive at the prison because the FBI translator is not there.
Hashmi's trial is finally scheduled for Apr. 28,...
Did his lawyer put up a robust defense against the imposition of the special administrative measures (SAMs)?
A: Yes, his defence has challenged the SAMs on multiple occasions, including introducing medical and scholarly evidence of the damage that prolonged solitary confinement has on a person....
These SAMs are legalised torture. The levels of isolation and sensory deprivation are dehumanising. They go against international standards and have been shown in medical and scholarly research to have a severe impact on a person's mental health and stability. And they severely impact the ability of a person to participate effectively in his or her own defence.
Fighting Bob La Follette, the great Senator from Wisconsin and the founder of this magazine, warned throughout his career about the looming threat posed by corporate power. When he ran for President in 1924, he said: “Democracy cannot live side by side with the control of government by private monopoly. We must choose, on the one hand, between representative government, with its guarantee of peace, liberty, and economic freedom and prosperity for all the people, and on the other, war, tyranny, and the impoverishment of the many for the enrichment of the favored few.”
ON FEBRUARY 16, ABOUT 200 people gathered on the steps of the Wisconsin state capitol. “It’s fitting that we stand out in the cold,” said Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “That’s where the Supreme Court has left us.”
He was referring to the court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which granted corporations the right to spend unlimited funds on so-called independent expenditures to influence the outcome of elections. The crowd heartily agreed with McCabe. Signs said: “No Corporate Takeover of Elections,” “Free Speech, Not Fee Speech,” “Money Is Not Speech, Corporations Are Not Persons.” And a chant went up: “Overrule the Court.”
Ben Manski, executive director of the Liberty Tree Foundation, drew the crowd in with a historical analogy. Read more.
Trial for Arrest at Vigil against Torture
By Joy First | Madison, WI | April 13, 2010
In June of 2009, my friend Malachy and I participated with about 200 others in a 24-hour vigil with Torture Abolition Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC). The vigil took place in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House and included many survivors of torture from all over the world. In the opening ceremony we brought candles to the stage for each country that is involved in torture. I was saddened to learn that almost every country in the world engages in torture. We listened to the stories of survivors of torture and it was heartbreaking to hear what people are capable of doing to other human beings. Our government is involved and complicit in these crimes against humanity.
The vigil began on Saturday morning. In the early afternoon, the survivors of torture led the group of 200 across the street to the White House sidewalk carrying signs calling on the President to bring an end to torture.
After processing in front of the White House, most of the people at the vigil returned to Lafayette Park. However, I was moved by my conscience and felt I must remain on the White House sidewalk with a small group holding a sign reading, “Stop Torture Now”. We were standing in the so-called “picture postcard zone”. This is an area on the sidewalk directly in front of the White House that is maybe 30 feet wide by 15 feet deep, an area where we, as citizens of this country have the most immediate access in getting our message to the President. But we are prevented from that access through U.S. Park regulations that determine this to be a “picture postcard zone” – meaning a place that we must keep open to tourists so that they presumably have an opportunity to get a good clear photograph of the White House. In essence, this regulation suggests that giving tourists the opportunity for a photo of the White House trumps our First Amendment right to peaceable assembly, freedom of speech, and our freedom to petition our government for a redress of grievances. We believe that delivering a message to the President that we must end the egregious crime of torture must outweigh the ability of tourists to obtain a picture postcard shot of the White House and so we remained on the sidewalk.
Eventually five of us were arrested on the sidewalk on Saturday afternoon. As you can imagine, the five us did not take up much space and did not keep the tourists, in an area that is 30x15 feet, from taking pictures of the White House. In fact people could freely move about until the police cordoned off the area with crime scene tape before they arrested us.
By David Swanson
Congressman Dennis Kucinich said on Friday that he is working with Congressman Jim McGovern, a member of the Rules Committee, who has drafted a letter asking that the upcoming war supplemental be a clean vote not muddied by the inclusion of unrelated measures, such as aid to Haiti. I asked Kucinich if that request for a clean vote included a commitment by McGovern not to propose his own amendments, and Kucinich clearly did not know or did not want to speak for his colleague, but he expressed his own support for McGovern's exit timetable proposal. Kucinich said he expected the vote on $33 billion to escalate the war in Afghanistan to come up in the next two weeks.
Video: Victory for Single Payers: Charges Dropped Against Doctors Paris and Flowers On April 14, 2010, in Eastside District Court, in Baltimore, MD., criminal charges against Single Payer champions, Dr. Carol A. Paris and Margaret Flowers, were dropped by the prosecutor. Attorney Kevin Zeese explained what happened inside the court room. Then, Doctors Paris and Flowers shared their feelings about the outcome of the case. Background: On Jan. 29, 2010, Doctors Paris and Flowers were arrested outside a hotel, at the inner harbor, where President Barack Obama was slated to give a speech. They were on a sidewalk holding a banner. The doctors had a letter that they wanted to give to the President and/or one of his aides, re: "Medicare for All". They were arrested for trespassing and for refusing to obey a police order. Check it out here. For information on Single Payer, go to these websites: PNHP, Prosperity Agenda US and Health Care NOW.
Threats, Violence Against Congress Show Urgent Need for King Records Act
by Thom Hartmann and Lamar Waldron | Common Dreams
Sunday, April 4, 2010 marks the forty-second anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. The recent spate of violence and threats directed at members of Congress evoke all too well the tumult of the 1960s. Seeing a hero of the Civil Rights movement like Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) facing an angry gauntlet of protestors--some using the N-word--as he left the Capitol brought back memories of similar scenes from the 1960s, when Rep. Lewis worked with Martin Luther King.
The resurgence in violent acts and rhetoric was building even before the surge that accompanied passage of healthcare reform. This not only includes white supremacist shootings of several police officers over the past year, but arrests in ten different states for serious plots to assassinate Obama, most by white supremacists.
Some of the large corporations and mainstream politicians stoking the anger at President Obama may not realize how quickly such an atmosphere of hate can get beyond their control. For them, it's just a matter of money and power, by making sure populist anger that should be directed at them is instead diverted to President Obama and others.
It's been said that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. But thanks to Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Representative John Lewis, and others, Americans have a rare chance to finally bring the hidden history of Martin Luther King's assassination to light.
The Boston Globe reported that Sen. Kerry is getting ready to introduce a Martin Luther King Records Act, which would finally preserve and declassify all the records about Dr. King's assassination. The Globe said that Rep. John Lewis would introduce the new King Records Act in the House. Continue reading article.
Note: Click "Read more" for a comment about this legislation's importance, and how to help.
The 'Obama Doctrine': Kill, Don't Detain
George Bush left a big problem in the shape of Guantánamo. The solution? Don't capture bad guys, assassinate by drone
From Institute for Public Accuracy
Solicitor General Elena Kagan is widely reported to be a leading contender for the Supreme Court position being vacated by John Paul Stevens.
FRANCIS BOYLE, Professor of law at the University of Illinois and author of "Tackling America's Toughest Questions," said today: "As dean of the Harvard Law School, Kagan hired Bush's outgoing director of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, as a law professor. Goldsmith is regarded by myself and many others in the field as a war criminal. He wrote some of the memos that attempted to make violations of the Geneva Conventions appear legal. Kagan actually bragged about 'how proud' she was to have hired Goldsmith after one of his criminal Department of Justice memoranda was written up in the Washington Post.