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Civil Rights / Liberties


Soldier Marc Hall's Freedom Rap Song Lands Him in Liberty Jail

By Dave Lindorff

In the ironically named Liberty County Jail since December 11 sits Army Specialist and Iraq War veteran Marc Hall, a rap musician who had the audacity to write a song attacking the Pentagon for subjecting him to a so-called stop-loss order after he had finished his Army tour and had returned from a posting in Iraq.

Hall, whose hip-hop alias is Marc Watercus, wrote the song and sent it to the Pentagon as a protest. His commander at Ft. Stewart initially had him arrested after he went to his base commander to protest his stop-loss order. He had planned to leave the service when his contract was up on Feb. 27. The Pentagon then upped the charges, claiming that in sending his song to the Pentagon, he had “communicated a threat” to he military. In the song lyrics, Hall says he will shoot officers if he is stop-lossed.

Drones Over America

Airport Droids Attack Human Gene Pool

Airport Droids Attack Human Gene Pool
By Albert Bates | Culture Change

"If it's something that's going to improve safety, then I don't have any problem with it, I have nothing to hide." - Ashley Houston, 32, as she waited for a plane in Phoenix (Reuters).

If you were against transhumanism before, perhaps you should give it another look. Our bodies are the product of a billion years of nature’s evolutionary processes, but the War on Terror is about to irrevocably corrupt our gene pool, causing untold immune system and other genetic damage to future generations, and possibly rendering the DNA coding that we are based on unacceptably toxic.

We may need to port our intelligence to a machine, or to cyberspace, if “human” intelligence is to survive in today’s toxic environment.

While Homeland Security has installed Backscatter Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) into airports while successfully avoiding an environmental impact statement, and the Justice Department is now fighting FOIA requests for technical specifications (filed by EPIC, Electronic Privacy Information Center), we already know that backscatter radiation may interfere directly with DNA. Although the ionizing radiation is small, the terahertz waves the machines generate do more than show your private parts to the screener. They have been found to “unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.”

Radiation waves occur naturally in the environment, and we’re hit with them all the time. But should we bombard ourselves with them unwillingly every time we want to board a flight? Initially the machines were supposed to be voluntary. Suddenly they are not. Read more.

Looking for Green Shoots in an Economic Desert?

By Dave Lindorff

So much for economic “green shoots.”

The Obama administration and the Federal Reserve, along with the servile corporate media, have been quick to grasp at and trumpet every little suggestion that things might be improving, as they did when the Labor Dept. announced last week that new unemployment claims had dropped to “just” 434,000, from a high of 684,000 in the week ended March 28 or last year.

Or when the Commerce Dept. reported last month that November housing starts had risen by 8.9% compared to the prior month.

Of course, what none of the rosy analysts and politicians mention is that the number of new unemployment claims would be bound to fall even if the economy were getting worse, because so many of the people who are covered by unemployment insurance have been laid off already for months, or even for more than a year already, and so the total pool of those eligible to file claims is much smaller.

The Airport Scanner Scam

The Airport Scanner Scam
By James Ridgeway | Mother Jones

...According to conventional wisdom, the would-be “underwear bomber” could have been stopped by airport security if he’d been put through a full-body scanner, which would have revealed the cache of explosives attached to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s groin....As I documented in my book The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, airport security has always been compromised by corporate interests....

Known by their opponents as "digital strip search" machines, the full-body scanners use one of two technologies—millimeter wave sensors or backscatter x-rays—to see through clothing, producing ghostly images of naked passengers. Yet critics say that these, too, are highly fallible, and are incapable of revealing explosives hidden in body cavities—an age-old method for smuggling contraband. If that’s the case, a terrorist could hide the entire bomb works within his or her body, and breeze through the virtual strip search undetected.

...seems unstoppable. They were mandated today as part of the "enhanced" screening for travelers from selected countries, and hundreds of the machines are already on order, at a cost of about $150,000 apiece....

Which brings us to the money shot. The body scanner is sure to get a go-ahead because of the illustrious personages hawking them. Chief among them is former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff, who now heads the Chertoff Group, which represents one of the leading manufacturers of whole-body-imaging machines, Rapiscan Systems. Read more.

Supreme Court Drops Key Case on Limits of Immunity for Prosecutors

Supreme Court drops key case on limits of immunity for prosecutors
By Warren Richey | CS Monitor

Prosecutors alleged to have framed two innocent men for a murder agreed on a $12 million settlement Monday. A Supreme Court ruling could have clarified the limits of immunity for prosecutors – a legal issue that had even the Obama administration commenting on the case.

Harrington and McGhee are both African-American. They were teens when arrested and accused of murdering a recently retired local police officer who was working as a night security guard at a car dealership....

Harrington added: “I feel I was judged by the color of my skin and not the content of my character, and I’ll always feel that way until I get, you know, the kind of verdict the testimony shows, and that’s innocent.”

Harrington was arrested at age 17. By the time he was released he was 43.

The case presented an important issue in the criminal justice system: To what extent can prosecutors be held responsible for violating the constitutional rights of defendants when they send innocent individuals to prison?

The Obama administration had urged the high court to side with the prosecutors out of concern that a ruling for the innocent defendants might make prosecutors reluctant to aggressively enforce the law.

Attorneys general from 27 states and the District of Columbia filed a friend of the court brief urging the high court to embrace a broad view of immunity for prosecutors. Read more.

DC Court Of Appeals Up Holds Sweeping Detention Policy

DC Court Of Appeals Up Holds Sweeping Detention Policy
By Something The Dog Said | Antimedius

Yesterday the DC Court of Appeals upheld the Bush era assertion of presidential detention policies, even in the face of the Boumediene decision. For those who don’t obsessively follow the law like the Dog Boumediene was the case where the Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo Bay prisoners had to be allowed to challenge their detention under habeas corpus filings.

Originally posted at Squarestate.net

In the matter of Al-Bihani v Obama the three judge panel upheld the ruling of District Judge Richard Leon. The ruling found that only domestic law applied to the presidents detention powers in a time of war. This of course ignores Article 7, paragraph 2 of the Constitution which reads;

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Court of Appeals panel found that this is not an issue when it states:

This premise is mistaken. There is no indication in the AUMF, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-148, div. A, tit. X, 119 Stat. 2739, 2741–43, or the MCA of 2006 or 2009, that Congress intended the international laws of war to act as extra-textual limiting principles for the President’s war powers under the AUMF.
The international laws of war as a whole have not been implemented domestically by Congress and are therefore not a source of authority for U.S. courts.

What the panel is saying there is that even if there is treaty law and the United States has ratified the treaty, if there is no complimentary domestic law that says exactly what the treaty says, then it is open to Congress writing laws that can grant powers, which the treaty denies. This is really a troubling thing to say, as it makes any treaty obligations completely optional if the Congress enacts some law, which directly or indirectly contradicts them. Read more.

Why Is Paul Minor Still Behind Bars?

Why Is Paul Minor Still Behind Bars?
By Brendan DeMelle | Huffington Post

In a recent unanimous decision, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned federal bribery charges against prominent Mississippi trial attorney Paul Minor, offering a ray of hope that Minor will soon be a free man.

Minor has spent the past three years a political prisoner, left to rot in jail after partisan operatives in the Bush administration targeted him for being the top funder of Democratic candidates in Mississippi...

Over the past three years that Minor spent in prison, he endured the loss of his wife Sylvia to brain cancer, a painful ordeal in which he was repeatedly denied release to be by his wife's side by the Bureau of Prisons, a subordinate arm of the DOJ. Paul's right to comfort Sylvia, to say goodbye in her final hours, and even to attend her funeral to deliver the eulogy he wrote about their 40-year marriage together, was stripped by the DOJ. Minor also remained behind bars when his son Paul Jr. was married in October, yet another important family moment this proud father will never get back.

Why was Paul Minor left rotting in jail while Sylvia passed away and Paul Jr. married? And now, with the federal bribery charges tossed out, why is he still behind bars today?

Attorney General Eric Holder had barely gotten his office set up when he ordered the Justice Department to drop charges against former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens based on prosecutorial misconduct, vowing to send a message that misconduct would not be tolerated in President Obama's DOJ.

Yet the American justice system's abhorrent treatment of Paul Minor has often been far more absurd, consistently unjust and shockingly inhumane. So why is Paul Minor continually left to rot in Pensacola federal prison camp? Read more.

Ruth Marcus's Powers of ESP

Quote:

But what to do in cases like that of Padilla, where the evidence is still sketchy but the suspect too dangerous to remain loose?

Double Standards: How Our Lawlessness Strengthens Our Enemies

We have failed to even investigate torturers, yet we have prosecuted and imprisoned millions for lesser offenses. And we allow mass murderers the benefit of constitutional rights that we deny detainees at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. Until policymakers examine and fix these double standards, they will continue to undermine our foreign policy, as well as our domestic criminal justice system.

We now know that the Bush administration's torture policies proved horrendously counterproductive, in more ways than one: they eroded our allies' trust, undermined the ability of our non-state supporters to credibly defend our goodwill, generated bad intelligence in the form of forced—and predictably false—confessions, and undermined the morale of the professional interrogators who resisted their illegal (and idiotic) orders.

Counterterrorism In Shambles; Why?

Counterterrorism In Shambles; Why?
By Ray McGovern and Coleen Rowley

Yesterday, a blogger with the PBS’ NewsHour asked former CIA analyst Ray McGovern to respond to three questions regarding recent events involving the CIA, FBI, and the intelligence community in general.

Two other old intelligence hands were asked the identical questions, queries that are typical of what radio/TV and blogger interviewers usually think to be the right ones. So there is merit in trying to answer them directly, such as they are, and then broadening the response to address some of the core problems confronting U.S. counter-terror strategies.

After drafting his answers, McGovern asked former FBI attorney/special agent Coleen Rowley, a colleague in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to review his responses and add her own comments at the end. The Q & A is below:

Question #1 – What lapses in the American counter terrorism apparatus made the Christmas Day bombing plot possible? Is it inevitable that certain plots will succeed?

The short answer to the second sentence is: Yes, it is inevitable that “certain plots will succeed.” A more helpful answer would address the question as to how we might best minimize their prospects for success. And to do this, sorry to say, there is no getting around the necessity to address the root causes of terrorism or, in the vernacular, “why they hate us.”

If we don’t go beyond self-exculpatory sloganeering in attempting to answer that key question, any “counter terrorism apparatus” is doomed to failure. Honest appraisals can tread on delicate territory, but any intelligence agency worth its salt must be willing/able to address it.

Delicate? Take, for example, what Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the “mastermind” of 9/11, said was his main motive. Here’s what the 9/11 Commission Report wrote on page 147. You will not find it reported in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM):

PDA Restoration of Rights (Events in DC and Richmond) Wednesdat, 1/6/10 in DC; Thursday, 1/7/10 in Richmond VA

Restoration of Rights (Events in DC and Richmond)

Urge DNC Chairman/ VA Governor Tim Kaine to restore voting rights to all Virginia ex-offenders who have completed the terms of their sentences!

Date: Wednesday, January 6th
Time: 5:30 pm
Location: Democratic National Committee Headquarters
430 South Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=406519375297&index=1

Date: Thursday, January 7th
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: Richmond City Hall
900 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA
RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=229167370847&index=1
Special Guest: Clovia Lawrence (Miss Community Clovia, Kiss 105.7 FM)
Speakers to be announced for the Richmond Event

Virginia has 300,000 ex-offenders who have lost their right to vote. There is an urgent matter that Governor Kaine must address before he leaves office on January 16 - voter restoration. Not only are Virginia and Kentucky the only two states in the USA that do not automatically restore the vote to ex-felons, we have recently learned that Governor Kaine has refused to restore the right to vote even to non-violent ex-felons who have completed their sentences and who have submitted completed applications to restore their vote merely because they have had moving violations, not misdemeanors or felonies, within the past 3 to 5 years.

Number of Democrats Thinking of Not Voting in 2010 Up to 45%

Number of Democrats thinking of not voting in 2010 up to 45% | Ian Welsh

How to (not) win elections and motive the base:

the highest percentage of Democrats to date (45%) indicated this week that they are either unlikely to vote, or certain not to vote.

Once more, doing things badly (health care “reform”, an inadequate stimulus, refusing to properly take on the banks) or doing things the base opposed (escalating in Afghanistan) has a price.

In 1994 Clinton lost Congress. He lost it in large part because of NAFTA, failing at health care reform and the the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell fiasco. Democratic base voters stayed home and Republicans were motivated. Doing “moderate” things didn’t make Republicans not vote against Democrats, but it did make Democrats not vote Democrats.

Clinton may have gone on to win re-election in 1996, but after losing Congress, he did very few truly progressive things and did or signed off on many non-progressive things, like Welfare “reform” and gutting Glass-Steagall (a major reason for the financial crisis.)

Obama stands to repeat. Read more.

American Justice is Blind, But Her Scales are Rigged

By Dave Lindorff

When it comes to justice in America, the scales definitely badly need a visit by an inspector from the Department of Weights and Standards.

Consider the recent decision by Federal Judge Ricardo Urbina tossing out the federal indictment of five Blackwater (Now Xe) mercenaries for the 2007 slaughter of 14 innocent Iraqis in Baghdad.

The judge found that federal prosecutors had improperly used incriminating statements which he said had been “compelled” from the Blackwater personnel under “threat of job loss.”

Court to Cops: Stop Tasing People into Compliance

Court to Cops: Stop Tasing People into Compliance
By David Hambling | Wired

The use of Tasers has become increasingly controversial over the last year, following high-profile cases such as the Tasering of a 10-year-old girl who had refused to take a shower and video of a 72-year-old great-grandmother who was Tasered following a driving offense. Now a federal appeals court in San Francisco has set down new rules for when police officers are allowed to use Tasers. In particular, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Tasers can’t be used simply to force a non-violent person to bend to an officer’s will. The court’s reason was that Taser’s X26 stun gun inflicts more pain than other “non-lethal” options:

The physiological effects, the high levels of pain, and foreseeable risk of physical injury lead us to conclude that the X26 and similar devices are a greater intrusion than other non-lethal methods of force we have confronted.

The ruling followed a case in which an officer Tasered a man named Carl Bryan after pulling him over for driving with an unbuckled seat belt. Bryan was verbally abusive, but obviously unarmed and non-violent....

“It sounds like this court is attempting to raise the bar for non-lethal use of force,” retired Los Angeles Police Department Captain Greg Meyer told the Los Angeles Times. The ruling specifies that the Taser X26 and similar devices should only be used where there is “strong government interest [that] compels the employment of such force.” This rules out any situation in which there are alternative means of dealing with the situation. Some may see the new ruling as a great step forward for human rights. But there are reasons to be a little more cautious. Read more.

Backward, Into Fear

Backward, Into Fear
by Missy Comley Beattie

I know with certainty that Uman Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged with attempting to take down Flight 253, is not responsible for the confiscation of a can of black-eyed peas I was trying to slide past airline security. That rule—the one about liquids—was already in place. Incentive to slip the beans through was derived from information I learned from a prior flight, one taken with my best friend who decided she didn't want to remove her computer from her carryon. Nor did she put her must-haves in clear plastic for public scrutiny. No one said a word as her bag was scanned. In fact, she easily retrieved her luggage, while I grappled with my laptop, trying to balance it and put it back in its case as I struggled to step into my shoes and, finally, reach for my cell phone, jacket, and plastic bag filled with lots of little bottles.

The young Nigerian is, however, the reason my plane (the same trip the peas were seized) was delayed this week. Because when passengers lined up to board, anyone with a bottle of water, cola, or juice, was pulled aside to have their beverages tested for explosives. One woman asked if her water would still be safe to drink after the strange strip of white whatever was magically waved over the open bottle by an agent whose hands were imprisoned in surgical gloves. How styoopid, I thought. But, then, she had a point—those gloves must have been transferring an accumulation of microbes from container to container.

Okay, I've digressed. I really meant to write about the event—you know, the one to scare Americans and highlight the gaping holes in our security. Because there were some missed opportunities. For example, the father of the “terrorist” had alerted authorities that he was concerned about the behavior of his extremist son. That's seriously reliable, like delivering him to a detention center and saying, “Our bad seed wants to blow up a passenger plane over the United States.”

But certain links weren't made by people trained to make sure certain links are always made.

Officials who consistently speak on condition of anonymity now agree with 20/20 hindsight that given all the information they had about Abdulmutallab, he should never have been allowed on that aircraft.

I bet he could have gotten a can of black-eyed peas into Detroit. But I've digressed again.

Where I'm going with all this is to an analysis of Obama's brilliant revelation: “A system failure occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable.”

You see, our Deciders and those we label “the bad guys” have a symbiotic relationship, the basis of which is both real and imagined: real because they are trying to knock each other off and imagined because they rely on propaganda.

Courage To End Total War

Courage to End Total War
By Bruce Gagnon | Organizing Notes

It’s a brilliant strategy if you think about it. Make the public afraid of each other. Every person could be a terrorist - everyone is suspect. There is no better way to defeat an organized anti-war opposition than to make the people terrified of each other.

The corporate oligarchy is now doing under Obama what it could not accomplish under Bush. Total war. The anti-Bush movement in the US and worldwide was gaining too much ground. So the oligarchy let the air out of that balloon. In Bush’s place they put in a magician who has proved very effective at keeping the left off balance and thus unable to pump new life into the reeling anti-war movement.

So now it’s Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Somalia and Yemen. Next could be Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Tom Gjelten did a story called “Afghan War Could Spill Over Into Central Asia” on December 31 that upped the fear meter and brought back the Vietnam-war era worry of the “domino theory”. You must watch the slight of hand...the modus operandi in action again.

Bush, or John McCain for that matter, would have been resisted at every step of this new escalation. But many “progressives” are frozen into place by the handiwork of the magician and a deferential Congress under the control of the other war party. The “execution” of this masterstroke has worked as well as the insides of an expensive Swiss watch.

The oil and military industrial oligarchy have created a situation where the public is so primed for fear by the slavish media that they are ready to strip their constitutional rights down to the bare bone in order to be “protected” by big daddy.

Virginians Rally for Voter Restoration on Thursday, 1/7/10, 6 PM

WHO/WHEN/WHERE: Join fellow citizens from Virginia civil rights and social justice organizations for a rally in downtown Richmond on Thursday, January 7th, 2010 at 900 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219 starting at 6pm.

RSVP at: Rally - Restore Our Vote

WHY: There is an urgent matter that Governor Kaine must address before he leaves office on January 16 - voter restoration. Not only are Virginia and Kentucky the only two states in the USA that do not automatically restore the vote to ex-felons, we have recently learned that Governor Kaine has refused to restore the right to vote even to non-violent ex-felons who have completed their sentences and who have submitted completed applications to restore their vote merely because they have had moving violations, not misdemeanors or felonies, within the past 3 to 5 years.

This policy, finally revealed to Frank Anderson as the reason his application to restore his vote was denied, must be reversed. The right to vote should not be denied because of speeding tickets! Indeed, Governor Kaine has the clear legal authority under the Virginia Constitution to issue a blanket restoration of the right to vote for as many of the 300,000 currently disenfranchised ex-felons as he wants through the issuance of an Executive Order. Please ask him to do so before leaving office by going to the following website: www.restoreourvote.org.

"As part of his attempt to become a full-fledged citizen following his 1999 burglary conviction, Frank Anderson began volunteering for political campaigns.

"Tim Kaine was the first Virginia candidate I ever worked for," said Anderson, 32, who knocked on doors and made phone calls during Kaine's successful run for governor.

Anderson, who is studying public administration at George Mason University, said he also has helped register about 200 voters. But when Anderson applied to have his own voting rights restored, he was rejected in December 2008.

Aware that he would have to wait two years to reapply, he sought an explanation." Read Full Story.

Sarah Rector: The Richest Colored Girl in the World

Sarah Rector: The Richest Colored Girl in the World
By Stacey Patton | Defenders Online

“Oil Made Pickaninny Rich – Oklahoma Girl With $15,000 A Month Gets Many Proposals – Four White Men in Germany Want to Marry the Negro Child That They Might Share Her Fortune.” This headline, which appeared in The Kansas City Star on January 15, 1914, was just the first of many newspaper and magazine headlines during the next decade about Sarah Rector, the richest black child known to the world in that era.

In September, 1913, The Kansas City Star reported: “Millions to a Negro Girl - Sarah Rector, 10-Year Old, Has Income of $300 A Day From Oil,” and The Savannah Tribune ran: “Oil Well Produces Neat Income – Negro Girl’s $112,000 A Year.”

In 1914 and 1915, the Salt Lake Telegram, The Oregonian and American Magazine profiled the “bewildered little ten year-old girl” and told of how she inherited her “big income” but still wore tattered dresses and slept each night in a big armchair beside her six siblings in a two-room prairie house in Muskogee, Oklahoma. By the early 1920s, many newspapers covered the court battles involving white men seeking to become Rector’s guardian to gain control over her estate.

She was one of a group of Creek freedman children who were given land allotments by the U.S. government as part of the Treaty of 1866.

Sarah Rector was born in 1902, near Taft in Indian Territory, the northeastern part of present-day Oklahoma. Though she was “colored,” she was not an African-American child and had no concept of what it meant to be an American citizen. Rector was a descendant of slaves who had been owned by Creek Indians before the Civil War. Read more.

The Israel/Gaza Face-Off In Los Angeles

by Linda Milazzo

Monday night, in remembrance of the one-year anniversary of Israel's Operation Cast Lead that killed 1,400 Gazans, and in solidarity with the 1,400 international peace pilgrims converging in Egypt from 42 countries for the planned Gaza Freedom March, Los Angelenos gathered in front of the Israeli Consulate for a solemn candlelight vigil.
IMG_2818
Photo by Mike Chickey

Voting Machine Maker Faces Federal Hearings

Voting machine maker faces federal hearings
Kanawha commissioner also asks AG to investigate
By Paul J. Nyden | WV Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The company that makes the electronic voting machines used in many states, including West Virginia, will be the focus of congressional hearings next month.

Fourteen states and the U.S. Department of Justice have opened investigations into whether Election Systems & Software owns too much of the voting machine market nationally.

On Sept. 1, Omaha, Neb.-based ES&S bought Diebold Inc.'s voting machine business, giving ES&S 70 percent of the national market.
States with their own investigations into the growing ES&S monopoly are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to hold the congressional hearings.

"What will happen tomorrow and over the next few years to the cost of maintaining and improving the machines, especially when the company has almost a total monopoly?" asked Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, a longtime critic of ES&S.

ES&S officials did not return telephone messages last week.

During the 2008 elections, ES&S voting machines generated controversies in several West Virginia counties, including Kanawha County. Read more.

Have Americans Traded Freedom For Security?

Have Americans Traded Freedom For Security?
According to polls, Americans support torture and don't mind that their government spies on them without obtaining warrants from a court.
By Paul Craig Roberts | CounterPunch

Obama's dwindling band of true believers has taken heart that their man has finally delivered on one of his many promises -- the closing of the Guantanamo prison. But the prison is not being closed. It is being moved to Illinois, if the Republicans permit.

In truth, Obama has handed his supporters another defeat. Closing Guantanamo meant ceasing to hold people in violation of our legal principles of habeas corpus and due process and ceasing to torture them in violation of U.S. and international laws.

All Obama would be doing would be moving 100 people, against whom the U.S. government is unable to bring a case, from the prison in Guantanamo to a prison in Thomson, Illinois.

Are the residents of Thomson despondent that the US government has chosen their town as the site on which to continue its blatant violation of U.S. legal principles? No, the residents are happy. It means jobs.

The hapless prisoners had a better chance of obtaining release from Guantanamo. Now the prisoners are up against two U.S. senators, a U.S. representative, a mayor, and a state governor who have a vested interest in the prisoners' permanent detention in order to protect the new prison jobs in the hamlet devastated by unemployment. Read more.

Christmas in Cairo: The Grassroots Comes To Gaza's Aid

By Medea Benjamim

One year ago, the brutal Israeli 22-day invasion of the Gaza Strip shocked the world, leaving some 1,400 people dead, thousands more wounded, as well as hospitals, schools, prisons, UN facilities, factories, agricultural processing plants and some 20,000 homes damaged or destroyed.

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the invasion, the plight of the
people of Gaza continues unabated:

- Despite pledges of money for reconstruction, Israel refuses to allow
in the machinery necessary to clear the rubble or the materials needed to rebuild--banning cement, gravel, wood, pipes, glass, steel bars, aluminum and tar. Many who were made homeless during the bombing are still living in tents amidst the onset of another cold winter. Desperate, some are reverting to the ancient techniques of building homes made of mud.

Protesting Priest Guilty, Free, Defiant

Protesting priest guilty, free, defiant
By Sharon Dunn | Tribune

In the end, a jury had no choice but to convict.

The Rev. Carl Kabat, 76, was photographed at the N-8 missile silo in northeast Weld County. Two-foot bolt cutters were found on the ground. There was a hole in the fence surrounding the facility, and he was waiting inside for his eventual arrest.

Kabat had breached nuclear missile facilities like these for the past two decades, and had 17 convictions behind him in his quest to do his small part to rid the earth of nuclear weapons, which the Catholic Church has deemed a crime against humanity.

But the members of the jury had to look beyond the message. After one hour of deliberations, they convicted him of the two misdemeanor criminal mischief and trespassing charges.

“We understand what he was standing for,” said jury member Ben Salgado, 56, of Windsor, after the verdict. “We just wish he would have chosen a different forum.”

As the jury was dismissed, Kabat applauded them, some walking out with tears in their eyes. One said as she left the courthouse: “It was very emotional.”

The St. Louis priest was immediately sentenced to the time he'd already served behind bars — 137 days — though deputy district attorney David Skarka asked for the maximum of one year for each of the misdemeanors to be served back to back. The county already had shelled out roughly $7,950 to keep him in jail for almost five months, based on a cost of about $58 per day per inmate. Had he been sentenced to Skarka's request, the county would have paid $26,000 more to keep him for a remaining 456 days. Read more.

A Letter to Her Excellency, Madame Suzanne Mubarak

by Jodie Evans

The Egyptian government announced Monday that the border between Gaza and Egypt will be closed, just in time for 1,346 men, women, and children from 42 countries -- the Gaza Freedom March -- to arrive in Cairo. It's too late to turn back now. We will proceed, and are asking Egypt to permit the march to go on.

This has happened with each delegation we have taken but with the right pressure we have succeeded in crossing the border each time. Our first attempt was made possible thanks to First Lady Suzanne Mubarak. For International Women's Day we were taking in thousands of pink baskets of aid for the women in Gaza. As we made our way to the border we passed truck after truck brimming with rotting material aid that the Egyptians had not allowed into Gaza. But our outreach to Madame Mubarak proved fruitful: we were met by the Egyptian Red Crescent (which she chairs) and we proceeded into Gaza with no problems.

The "Omaha Two:" Victimized by COINTELPRO Injustice

The "Omaha Two:" Victimized by COINTELPRO Injustice
By Stephen Lendman

After a two week April 1971 trial and four days of deliberation, an 11 white/one black member jury convicted Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice) and Edward Poindexter for the bombing murder of police officer Larry Minard on August 17, 1970. Both men denied involvement, and ever since consistently maintained their innocence, insisting they were framed. Supporters agree, including Amnesty International that declared them political prisoners, and no wonder.

They were Omaha chapter National Committee to Combat Fascism (NCCF) leaders, an off-shoot of the Black Panther Party, targeted (as later revealed) by secret FBI/police Domino task force/COINTELPRO tactics, following J. Edgar Hoover's orders to infiltrate, disrupt, sabotage, and destroy their activism for ethnic justice, racial emancipation, and real economic, social, and political equality across gender and color lines.

COINTELPRO is the acronym for the FBI's secretive/mostly illegal counterintelligence program to neutralize political dissidents, including communists; anti-war, human and civil rights activists; the American Indian Movement; and Black Panther Party among others.

In their book "Agents of Repression," Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall wrote:

"the term came to signify the whole context of clandestine (typically illegal) political repression activities (including) a massive surveillance (program via) wiretaps, surreptitious entries and burglaries, electronic devices, live 'tails' and....bogus mail" to induce paranoia and "foster 'splits' within or between organizations."

Other tactics included:

  • "black propaganda" through leaflets or other publications "designed to discredit organizations and foster internal tensions;"
  • "disinformation or 'gray propaganda' " for the same purpose;
  • "bad-jacketing" to "creat(e) suspicion - through the spread of rumors, manufacture of evidence, etc. - that bona fide organizational members, (usually leaders were) FBI/police informants," to turn some against others violently;
  • "assassinations (of) selected political leaders," including Fred Hampton and Mark Clark on December 4, 1969 by Chicago police while they slept; and
  • "harassment arrests (on bogus) charges."

Individuals and organizations were targeted for their activism, not crimes that were blamed on innocent victims like the "Omaha Two."

In November 1968, a J. Edgar Hoover memorandum ordered his agents "to exploit all avenues of creating....dissension within the ranks of the BPP (using) imaginative hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP." From 1968 - 1971, they were vicious, including against Mondo we Langa and Edward Poindexter, targeted by the Bureau to be neutralized.

Months before they were arrested, FBI agents and Omaha police harassed them with tactics like frequent traffic stops, verbal abuse, and more. We Langa was called before a grand jury, and the Greater Omaha Community Action Agency fired him. Poindexter was victimized by bogus newspaper letters and an anonymous phone campaign. For the two men, it was just the beginning of a long nightmare, ongoing after 40 years.

Background on the "Omaha Two"

Rob Kall Radio Show Podcast: Cindy Sheehan, Talking About Protest and The Joy of Getting Arrested

Rob Kall Radio Show Podcast: Cindy Sheehan, talking about protest and The Joy of Getting Arrested
By Rob Kall | Op Ed News

As part of a continuing series of discussions, I had a great conversation with Cindy Sheehan about getting arrested -- the joy, nobility and logistics.

Getting arrested as a protester engaging in civil disobedience is often described by those who have been through the experience as a joyful experience. I've been interviewing protesters to get their perspective and to learn their attitudes and strategies for engaging in the process. Tonight, I'll be talking to Cindy Sheehan.

Last week I spoke to Daniel Ellsberg, partly about getting arrested as a noble, honorable, joyful experience. I'll be talking with Cindy about it tonight. Looks like I'm going to write a book about it. And yes, that does mean I WILL be getting arrested. I'm starting to look forward to it. First, I'll be getting great advice from experts-- that I'll share in the book. You see, I believe we face times when the congress is out of control, unresponsive, non-accountable and protest-- civil disobedience-- could be the only way to change that situation. To help make it happen in a big way, we need a much bigger conversation about civil disobedience, about getting arrested, why it is a noble, honorable thing, a heroic, and perhaps necessary thing we need to do for our children, our future, for humanity. Because we are at war with corporations and the wealthy and as far as they're concerned, they've already won.

Here's the link to the interview. It will be available until Jan. 22.
Recording Download Link

Obama Year One: Betrayal and Failure (Part II)

Obama Year One: Betrayal and Failure (Part II)
Read Part I here.
By Stephen Lendman | Blog

Part II concludes an account of Obama's betrayal, not promised change.
Obamacare Plans to Ration Healthcare and Enrich Big Providers

After House passage in November, the Senate is now about to pass a stealth scheme to ration care and enrich insurers, the drug cartel, and large hospital chains, the way Washington always works.

It plans market-based solutions, featuring cost-containing measures, mostly affecting working Americans, the poor, elderly, and chronically ill to make a dysfunctional system worse, under the guise of reform, the most dangerous and deceptive word in the language to take cover from when announced.

Besides enriching providers, Obamacare will force millions to pay more, get less, with millions still uninsured and left out. Employers will be able to opt out of providing coverage, but since insurance for most will be mandated, those without it will have to buy it or face hundreds of dollars in penalties, whether or not they can afford it. Even with a public option, looking less likely, insurers will get to skim off the cream, charge what they wish, profit handsomely at low risk, and leave Washington stuck with ones industry doesn't want. For providers, it's a win-win under any version being considered.

Most disturbing are planned Medicare cuts, around $400 - $570 billion, depending on which numbers are most accurate, and these are for starters, a foot in the door if enacted, toward the long-term aim ending Medicare, then Medicaid and Social Security because, at $106 trillion in unfunded liabilities, budget constraints can't sustain them.

The Congressional Budget Office's June 2009 "Long-Term Budget Outlook" suggests a nation in decline, eventual hyperinflation, possible bankruptcy because of a greater national debt than during the Great Depression and near-surpassing WW II. The administration's solution - end entitlements over 100 million Americans rely on, but it still may be too little, too late given an overstretched budget, a weakening dollar, and foreign investors looking for safer returns on their capital, so are less willing to fund Washington's excesses.

In Obama's America, the least advantaged will carry the load, not privileged elites, but don't expect congressional opposition to stop him or news reports to explain it.

Obama's Permanent War Agenda

Speaking Events

January 10 and 11:
Events in Washington DC to present a petition telling president elect to end wars:
https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12501

January 20-21 Occupy the Inauguration
 
January 29 David Swanson speaking in Arlington, Va.
 
February David Swanson debating a war supporter in Boston, Mass.
 
April 21-23 UNAC's annual conference in Richmond, Va.

April 29 possible multi-issue protest in DC.

Find Events Here.

 

 

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