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Civil Rights / Liberties
Prosecutors Prepare Charges Against Final 'Enemy Combatant' in U.S.
By Carrie Johnson and Julie Tate | Washington Post
Federal prosecutors are preparing to charge Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri with providing material support to al-Qaeda terrorists in a groundbreaking move that would put the alleged sleeper agent under the jurisdiction of the U.S. court system, according to sources familiar with the issue.
Indicting Marri in a federal court marks a significant change from the policies of the Bush administration, which had argued that al-Marri should be tried in a military tribunal proceeding and that he could not use American courts to contest his legal status.
This is a fabulous letter from a UC Berkeley prof asking the Chancellor to fire John Yoo. Please write to him and thank him: email@example.com
Click "Read more" to read it.
WASHINGTON, DC – Following markup of the DC House Voting Rights Act (H.R. 157) in the House Judiciary Committee today, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) announced that the House will vote on the legislation next week.
“With today’s markup, Congress is one step closer to bringing representation to the people of this city. And I am happy to report that I, with the help of the three distinguished Members here with me, will bring the DC voting rights bill to the floor of the House next week.
“Next week, we will be voting to keep a promise that is nearly two and a quarter centuries overdue. It was the promise of our founders, a promise put into words by the Father of the Constitution, James Madison, when he wrote that the people of the federal city ‘will have had their voice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them.’
The Bush administration shut off a source of information last fall about abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities that people suing nursing homes consider crucial to their cases.
The change that affects the $144 billion nursing-home industry occurred with no public notice or attention, perhaps because of the array of last-minute rules that President George W. Bush’s appointees rushed out before leaving Washington last month.
“This is pretty stunning,” said Mark Kosieradzki, a plaintiff attorney in Plymouth, Minnesota. “Nobody was told. It was just done.”
Let's Have the Health Insurance Companies Write a Plan to Give Our Money to Health Insurance Companies
What could go wrong? According to the New York Times it's very serious and professional, and “the sense of the room [of lobbyists] seemed to be that Congress should leave details to a group of experts." I feel healthier already.
Protest the New York Post for its racist cartoon!
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 20, 4:45 PM
WHERE: News Corp. Building, 1211 Ave. of the Americas, bet. 47th and 48th Streets
We are United for Peace and JUSTICE.
We who continue to work for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan must make our voices heard against the vicious racism displayed by the New York Post in its recent cartoon. The fight for peace cannot be separated from the fight for justice.
The cartoon printed in Wednesday's New York Post depicts 2 white cops who have just shot a monkey saying "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." On the previous page, there is a picture of President Obama signing the stimulus bill. Given the historic racist imagery depicting black people as monkeys, there is no way to construe this as anything but a revoltingly racist attack on the President.
Washington D.C. (February 19, 2009) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and two other Members of Congress today sent a letter to the CEO of General Motors, Mr. Richard Wagoner, Jr., to propose a different kind of auto industry rescue plan that eliminates the competitive disadvantage of inflated health care costs.
As health care costs continue to spiral out of control, the brunt is borne in large part by employers that provide health care. General Motors and other U.S. automakers have significantly higher health care costs than their international competitors -- as much as $1400 per car. In the letter, Members of Congress point out that the adoption of H.R. 676, the United States National Health Care Act, would level the playing field and stimulate the economy.
*In no uncertain terms Reverend Al Sharpton is taking aim at the NY Post over a cartoon that apparently represents President Barack Obama as a monkey killed by NYPD, because one officer says to other, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
Here's a statement by Rev Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network:
New York, NY (February 18, 2009) -- The cartoon in today's New York Post is troubling at best, given the racist attacks throughout history that have made African-Americans synonymous with monkeys.
Tolan lawyer: City of Bellaire tried to silence our case
By Taylor Timmins | KHOU.com
Lawyers for Robbie Tolan, the man who was shot by Bellaire police in front of his home, struck back at the department and the city in a press conference Wednesday, saying they refused to let their case die.
Attorney David Berg said the City of Bellaire sent the Tolans' legal team what he described as a threatening letter, saying they shouldn’t be talking publicly about the case.
Berg waved the letter in the air as he said his team and the Tolans won’t be silenced.
Berg said he had a message specifically for Bellaire Mayor Cindy Seigel.
Court: Chinese at Guantanamo Can't Be Freed in U.S.
From Bill Mears | CNN
Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday he will travel to the Guantanamo detention center next week as a "first step" in a process to determine what to do with detainees held there. Holder told reporters after a speech on civil rights that he will make the trip to Cuba on Monday with the Justice Department's point man on counterterrorism, Matt Olsen. Spokesman Dean Boyd termed the trip "the beginning of a review process." Holder told reporters review of the Guantanamo detainees' individual cases has begun and officials are "making progress," but he declined to be more specific.
Justice for Geronimo!
On Feb. 17, 2009, a press conference was held in Washington, D.C., at the National Press Club. It featured Harlyn Geronimo, the great grandson of the legendary Apache warrior--Geronimo. Harlyn, along with 19 other blood descendants of the “defender of the Apache homeland,” have today filed a lawsuit against the federal government. They seek to have Geronimo’s body, now buried at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, returned to the ancient burial grounds of the Apaches.
Co-authored by Linda Milazzo and Georgianne Nienaber
To: The Honorable Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, Washington, DC 20520
To: The Honorable Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations, United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017
Dear Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice,
The humanitarian situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is disintegrating and it is time for the United States to intervene publicly and forcefully. According to report after report from human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), the violence is escalating, and the United Nations does not have enough peacekeeping troops to contain the violence. Already more innocents have died than in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The world cannot say again that it had no idea of the scope of this disaster. Rwanda can no longer be given a free pass because of its suffering during the genocide, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame must be held accountable for the alliance he has formed with Congolese President Joseph Kabila who is turning a blind eye to the crimes committed against innocent Hutu civilians in eastern Congo.
In an urgent communiqué to independent media, the Congolese National Congress for the Defense of the People (French acronym, CNDP), is asking to meet with you precipitously regarding the Rwandan government’s unwarranted detention of CNDP leader, General Laurent Nkunda, and the corresponding increase in massacres of Congolese civilians since his January 22nd arrest. As documented by Human Rights Watch on February 13, 2009:
President Barack Obama's new administration presents a unique chance for Washington to remedy human rights violations committed in its anti-terror efforts, a rights report said Monday.
"The change in US administration provides a unique opportunity for change," the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said in its report, "Assessing Damage, Urging Action."
"In the course of this inquiry, we have been shocked by the extent of the damage done over the past seven years by excessive or abusive counter-terrorism measures in a wide range of countries around the world," said ICJ member Arthur Chaskalson, former chief justice of South Africa.
U.S. "war on terror" eroded rights worldwide: experts
By Laura MacInnis | Yahoo! News
Washington's "war on terror" after the September 11 attacks has eroded human rights worldwide, creating lingering cynicism that the United Nations must now combat, international law experts said on Monday.
Mary Robinson, who was the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights when al Qaeda militants flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001, said the United States caused harm with some of the ways it responded.
"Seven years after 9/11 it is time to take stock and repeal abusive laws and policies," the former Irish president said, warning that harsh U.S. detentions and interrogations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba gave a dangerous signal to other countries that could easily follow suit.
HEALTH INSURANCE: PRIVATE ENTERPRISE VS. GOVERNMENT?
Private Enterprise: 48%
Government - All Problems: 28%
Government - Emergencies: 12%
Don't know: 12%
Private Enterprise: 32% (-16%)
Government - All Problems: 49% (+21%)
Government - Emergencies: 10% (-2%)
Don't know: 9% (-3%)
Is quality and easy to access health care a privilege for the wealthy, or a basic human right?
Listen to Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox as Cindy chats with two Single-Payer Health Care advocates (Dr. Clark Newhall and Donna Smith from Michael Moore's Sicko) in a very informative edition of the Soapbox. Cindy will also give you a way to get on your own Soapbox about this issue.
If you live in the Bay Are you can listen from 2-3PM (PST) at 960AM; or if you live outside the Bay Area, you can live stream at: www.Green960.com.
Don't forget to send your "Ask Cindy" questions or Soapbox rants (recorded in MP3 form, or written) to: Cindy@CindySheehansSoapbox.com
If you like what you hear, Our Soapbox is supported by listeners, and you can become a Sustaining Member or give us a one time donation.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm's Brother, Tapped for White House Health Care Policy Advisor Spot
By Lynn Sweet, The Chicago Sun-Times
Washington - While the Obama White House is searching for a replacement for health czar Tom Daschle, policy work on health care reform - a priority for the administration - Is ongoing with one key advisor especially well connected.
The brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a noted bioethicist, is advising the Obama administration on health care reform.
Dr. Emanuel is the Chair of the Department of Bioethics at The Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health and a breast oncologist.
Dr. Emanuel is a special advisor to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget for health policy. He told me he is "working on (the) health care reform effort." He is "detailed" to the OMB spot and is still officially an employee of the NIH.
Ron Paul: What If? ... The American People Learn the Truth!
Statement of Congressman Ron Paul
February 12, 2009
This has been a uniquely bad week for civil libertarians. The Obama Administration appears to be rushing to dispel any notions that Obama will fight for civil liberties or war crimes investigations. After Eric Holder allegedly assured a senator that there would be no war crimes investigation and seemed to defend Bush policies, Harvard Law Dean Elena Kagan, Obama’s Solicitor General nominee, reportedly told a Republican senator that the Administration agreed with Bush that we are “at war” and therefore can hold enemy combatants indefinitely. In the meantime, Obama himself seemed to tie himself in knots when asked about investigating war crimes and leading democrats are again pushing for a symbolic “truth commission.” I discussed these issues in this segment of Countdown this week.
Second Democrat Hits Obama Over Defending Bush's State Secrets Claim
By Elana Schor | TPM | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
The Obama administration recently made the dismaying decision to defend the Bush-era Justice Department's use of the "state secrets" privilege in a lawsuit filed by alleged victims of extraordinary rendition. As TPM alum Greg reported yesterday, Sen. Russ Feingold (WI) was the first Democratic lawmaker to openly criticize the Obama DoJ's decision ... and now we have a second.
by Linda Milazzo
CODEPINK Women For Peace will be traveling to Gaza on March 6th. The purpose of their mission is to provide "humanitarian and emotional support to women and women's organizations and exert pressure on US, Egyptian and Israeli governments to lift the blockade and promote peace and human rights in the region."
In advance of their trip, CODEPINK has created a petition that asks signers to write President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, to request that he meet with the women of Gaza. As an American Jew who opposes Israel's inhumane treatment of Palestinians, I answered CODEPINK's call, signed the petition, and wrote a letter to Mr. Mitchell. The letter that follows is my personal statement to Mr. Mitchell and not the statement of CODEPINK.
Call Congress and the President. Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121. White House: 202-456-1414. If your member is a current co-sponsor, thank your rep. and ask him or her to stand firm for HR 676 and actively seek additional co-sponsors. If your member was a co-sponsor in the last Congress, ask him or her to sign on immediately as a co-sponsor in this Congress. If your member has yet to co-sponsor HR 676, ask him or her to please become a co-sponsor, select one or two talking points here.
During his press conference on Monday evening, President Obama pledged to look forwards rather than backwards when it came to investigating the misdeeds of the Bush administration. It was a carefully crafted answer, designed to neither anger nor encourage individuals either side of this contentious issue. For possible victims of legal and political injustice during the Bush years, however, it wasn't nearly enough.
Don Siegelman, the former Governor of Alabama arrested on trumped up bribery charges allegedly linked to Karl Rove, wrote the Huffington Post on Tuesday to offer his opinion of Obama's answer.
MLK Oratory winner: Gerra Gistand
Gerra Gistand of MacGregor elementary won first place during the 13th Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory. Finalists gave original five-minute speeches on the topic: If Dr. King were alive today, what do you think he would say about current events?
By Dave Lindorff
The similar calls by Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and House Judiciary Chair Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the crimes of the Bush/Cheney administration are potentially a terrible idea, but one that could turn out to be an excellent one, if handled correctly.
It would be a terrible idea if a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was just another 9-11-type body. That commission turned out to be worse than nothing, given that it was manipulated by the Bush administration to be toothless and that it ended up covering up more than it uncovered. Aside from the behind the scenes manipulation, the biggest problem with the 9-11 commission, though, was that is was not linked to any attempt to prosecute official wrong-doing.