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Civil Rights / Liberties
*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.
How can we guarantee healthcare for all?
What can you do to help?
Healthcare in case of injury: you're on your own, for now
Donna Smith, California Nurses Association, seen in Michael Moore's "Sicko"
Steve Cobble, Progressive Democrats of America
Dr. Susan Miller, Physicians for a National Health Program
Larry Rousseau, Public Service Alliance of Canada
Lynn Hassman, American Medical Students Association, UVA
Dr. Wm. Ferguson Reid, Virginia Coalition for Guaranteed Health Care
Virginia Coalition for Guaranteed Health Care
California Nurses Association
Progressive Democrats of America
Physicians for a National Health Program
American Medical Students Association, UVA
Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice
FOR MORE INFO. OR TO VOLUNTEER:
We need volunteers to distribute flyers and to help on the night of the event. We need a videographer to tape the event.
FORWARD THIS ANNOUNCEMENT FAR AND WIDE.
By Laura Bonham
As an ardent advocate of single-payer healthcare for many years, I am more than a little frustrated by Washington insiders — beholden to healthcare corporations — telling the American people that passing single-payer healthcare reform, specifically HR. 676, the United States National Health Care Act, can't happen. The fact is they are standing in the way of it happening.
They cite specious reasons like we're an entrepreneurial nation and need a uniquely American solution, or we can't afford it, or single-payer won't work in the U.S. Well it works quite well in the form of Medicare, an incredibly popular and uniquely American program. In a nutshell, HR 676 basically improves and expands Medicare to cover everybody.
They say it can't happen because Americans don't want it. Polling indicates otherwise; a January 30, CBS poll shows significant support:
Now we need to get someone appointed who's open to offending the health insurance companies.
OPEN LETTER TO TOM DASCHLE - AND A PETITION TO SIGN IF READERS AGREE!
By Mimi Kennedy, Chair, Progressive Democrats of America
Mr. Daschle, you are now exactly the wrong man for health care reform.
It is clear you will work for a solution that is a political compromise - and now, any compromise you might attain will be lethally vulnerable. From all sides, your compromise will be attacked as the work of a man unwilling to pay his fair share of burdens he willfully imposes on others, of a man who's not even cognizant of his actions when he ducks those burdens.
Obama supporters held house parties on healthcare in December, and nobody has seen the results, the decisions as to what sort of actions were most favored. Let's ask:
Dr. Jeanne Lambrew
Office of Health Care Reform
By fax to 202 690 7203
By email to Jeanne.email@example.com
US Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs
Friends Committee on National Legislation, coordinator
U S C B L e - a c t i o n : write to Obama
j a n u a r y 2 0 0 9
"Our global community must continually keep challenging itself about the way it behaves. Political leaders must show they are prepared to listen and respond to the voices of victims, of civil society, and of ordinary people."
-British Foreign Minister David Miliband at Oslo cluster bomb treaty signing, December 2008
As 94 nations gathered in Oslo in December to sign the treaty banning cluster bombs, foreign leaders echoed the optimism of the Obama campaign, reflecting their joy in joining survivors and civil society activists to sign the most significant humanitarian law treaty of the past decade. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said, "Yes, we can! We can, and the U.S. can sign this treaty, Russia can, and China can."
By David Swanson
While a Democratic polling firm has just found, as pollsters always do, dramatic public support for public health coverage, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill appear divided, as they have always been, over whether to take a comprehensive approach to health care.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on C-Span on Sunday that incrementalism would suit him better "than to go out and just bite something you can't chew." Clyburn said he opposes any comprehensive approach in 2009. Meanwhile House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) made a long speech about healthcare at a conference in D.C. on Thursday in which he said "I am committed to helping bring comprehensive reform to the floor of the 111th Congress."
Those of us who prefer justice to arbitrary and unaccountable detention without charge or trial were delighted when, last week, Barack Obama fulfilled a long-stated promise and issued a presidential order stating that Guantánamo will be closed “as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order,” and establishing an immediate review of the cases of the remaining 242 prisoners to work out whether they can be released.
He lived 42 of his 48 years in the United States, and had the words “Raised American” tattooed on his shoulder. But Guido R. Newbrough was born German, and he died in November as an immigration detainee of a Virginia jail, his heart devastated by an overwhelming bacterial infection. His family and fellow detainees say the infection went untreated, despite his mounting pleas for medical care in the 10 days before his death. Instead, after his calls for help grew insistent, detainees said, guards at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Va., threw him to the floor, dragged him away as he cried out in pain, and locked him in an isolation cell. Read the rest in the New York Times. Here's a group working to change things that has been raising this and related matters for months.