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The Spirit of Columbus – Jesus Christ, Columbus, and the US Constitution October 13, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Genocide, History, Religion, War.
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Roger’s note: Although somewhat abstract and speculative, not to mention Manichean,  I found this article to be quite interesting.  With respect to the notion of freedom/justice, my understanding is that Marx found in Hegel’s idealistic philosophy the highest ideal of freedom and with his look at the actual relations between capital and living human labor in his time of the Industrial Revolution, he brought the idealism down from the sky and into the real world, showing that freedom is the capacity to be the sole owner of your own human creativity.

By (about the author)

OpEdNews Op Eds 10/13/2013 at 08:00:01,
published originally on CounterPunch

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Officially celebrated in the US on the second Monday of October, Columbus first made landfall in the Americas, in what is now the Bahamas, on October 12, 1492. And though, in his eyes, he did stumble onto the shores of a new world, what is more important for the present inquiry is the fact that Columbus immediately imposed the Order of the old world upon the one he invaded. The law of force (articulated in the European legal tradition’s Doctrine of Conquest, which grants invaders legal title to the lands they conquer) was subsequently imposed throughout the Americas and beyond. Though this doctrine was formally abolished by the UN in 1974, insofar as it continues to determine the distribution of the planet’s resources, the right of conquest in many respects continues to  determine the course of our lives. And while it is crucial to remember the atrocities that Columbus and his successors committed throughout the world during the so-called Age of Discovery, it is equally important to recognize the fact that, though its forms may have changed, the underlying Order that Columbus initiated (with all of its violent implications) continues to operate in politics, economics, and law – that is, systemically – throughout the world today.

It is said that events occur in groups of three. With this in mind, it is interesting to consider the fact that Christopher Columbus was born in the year 1451 – in the year of the death of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II, and the ascension of the sultan’s son and heir, Mehmed II. In the following year, 1452, Pope Nicholas V issued his notorious Dum Diversas, the papal decree declaring war against all of the world’s non-Christians. Thirdly, one year later, in 1453, the Ottoman Turks conquered  Constantinople, delivering the terminal blow to the 1500-year-old Eastern Roman Empire.

Among the results of their military triumph in Constantinople, the Ottoman Turks made significant geopolitical inroads into Christian Europe. Importantly, this included wresting control of the invaluable overland trade routes to India, China, and the other lands to the east from the Europeans. The subsequent influx of Byzantine refugees into Christian Italy, with their classical texts in tow, contributed to the flourishing of learning and secularism that marked the Italian Renaissance. And it is likely that this proliferation of classic Greek and Roman texts, many of which treated the sphericity of the world as an ancient and uncontentious theory, contributed to Columbus’ adoption of this topographical notion. Among its other consequences, the Turk’s capture of Constantinople led the banking centers of Europe to shift from the markets of the eastern Mediterranean to the ports of the west, whose sea-routes now allowed traders easier access to the Indies. And it was from just such a port along the Spanish coast that the Christian from the Italian city of Genoa would embark in search of a western sea-route to Asia, spreading – whether willfully or not is unimportant –  Christian and Roman political, economic, and theological institutions (the old world) to the Americas.

While they were to some degree mediated by Christian influences, Roman forms of power and institutions of governance were to take firm root in the so-called new world. As the historian Gordon S. Wood informs us, the founders of the United States themselves consciously modeled not only their political, but also their social projects on Classical Roman forms. Today, few places evince this more strikingly than what is arguably the most politically powerful city in the Americas – a city that, not coincidentally, couples the name of George Washington, that admirer of Roman thought and virtue, with Columbus’. Beyond the classical appearance of Washington, D.C.’s buildings and monuments, the political institutions they house are also heavily indebted to Roman models. To cite probably the most obvious example, the main legislative body of the US, the senate – Latin for council of elders (and etymologically related, incidentally, to the word ‘senile’) – is derived from the Roman institution of the same name.

Regarding governmental, administrative, and economic forms of power persisting from Rome to the present, the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben observes in his treatise on political power, The Kingdom and the Glory, that the constitutional separation of powers schema of the US Constitution, among others modeled on Montesquieu’s tripartite division, can be traced directly to the Christian Trinity and the administrative apparatus of the Church. To be sure, it is not difficult to see the father – god, the creator of law – as an analogue of the legislative branch. Moreover, the son, Jesus, often referred to as the one who judges, may be seen to correspond to the institution of the judiciary. Lastly, the Holy Spirit – defined by the Fourth Lateral Council of 1215 as that “who proceeds” – corresponds to the executive branch. Insofar as the transitive verb ‘to execute’ means to carry out fully, the executive branch of government conforms to this notion of one “who proceeds” quite closely.

Yet while the correspondence between the separation of powers and the Trinity is very close, today’s constitutional schema and the theological and ideological justifications that accompany it can be traced to structures of power that significantly predate the Trinity. Beyond the mixed constitution Aristotle described in his Politics, there is a Hellenic progenitor to the Trinity – itself an echo of paleolithic religious structures – that predates the Trinity by many centuries. And not only does the structure of the Greek Moirai, or Fates, predate the Trinity, it also matches the US Constitution’s separation of power schema with uncanny preciseness.

Like the Trinity and the three branches of government, the Fates (the three daughters of Necessity) are one power that has three distinct aspects. Corresponding to the legislature, Clotho, the spinner, spins the thread of life. Corresponding to the judiciary, Lachesis, the measurer, measures this thread. And Atropos, the cutter, cuts the thread of life. Curiously, in describing his job as “the decider” – which literally means ‘to cut’ – George W. Bush confirms this correspondence between the executive and Atropos.

Among other things, it is important to point out that in Greek myth the Fates were more powerful than all of the gods – even Zeus, who alone was more powerful than all of the other gods combined, could do nothing but adhere to the dictates of the Fates. As such, it seems appropriate that Law should mirror their form. Yet the general rule of the Fates’ supremacy had one exception. Asklepios, the son of the god Apollo, and a powerful healer (who, in addition to other feats, could raise the dead), was through his healing power able to overrule the Fates’ Order – demonstrating that what appeared to be a necessary power was, in fact, not necessary at all. Threatened by his incursion into their monopoly over divine power, the Fates soon determined that Zeus would destroy Asklepios with a bolt of lightning. Shortly after his death, Asklepios was resurrected as a god and raised into the heavens. It does not take a terribly keen eye to see in this a likeness to another son of a god who raised the dead, healed the sick and the lame, was killed for threatening power, and was resurrected as a god himself. In fact, in many respects Asklepios is a prototype of Jesus of Nazareth – at least one aspect of Jesus. For while Jesus is represented as both a healer and a shepherd (the latter role, as Michel Foucault informs us in his elaboration of the notion of pastoral power, is a dominating, oppressive force), Asklepios is only a healer. And just as the healer Asklepios is able to overrule the Fates (as justice, or the spirit of the law, is said to prevail over its dead letter), Jesus (in his role as healer and champion of the poor and oppressed) stands opposed to not only his shepherdly role, but the pastoral, dominating power that manifests in the Trinity and the institution of the Church as well.

In light of the above it is revealing that, in his oft-quoted diary entry of 1498, Columbus wrote: “let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.” That is, it is the pastoral power of the administrative body of the church – the power of law, of violence, sanctioned by the papal decrees of 1452 and 1493 – that Columbus is referring to and conspiring with, and decidedly not with the healer. Indeed, the enslavement, murder, and other atrocities committed by Columbus over the course of his conquest may be viewed as the very opposite of healing.

This tension between Jesus the healer and Jesus the shepherd/the Trinity (which matches the opposition between Asklepios and the Fates, and between the spirit and the letter of the law) makes another important appearance in the Americas. Three centuries after Columbus’ voyage this same dynamic appears in the US Constitution. As with the Fates, a dominating power is “separated” into three parts – into the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. And just as the Fates are not only opposed, but neutralized, by Asklepios, it is important to recognize that the Constitution’s Power is at once opposed and legitimated by a notion of justice that (in addition to the “general welfare” of the people) is intimately related to the concept of health. To be sure, it is no small coincidence that Asklepios’ daughter – the Greek goddess of healing – was known to the Romans as Salus; and Salus, the Roman goddess of health, in turn pops up in the ancient Roman legal maxim salus populi suprema lex esto. Translated as the health of the people is the supreme law, the maxim has been interpreted to hold that laws and practices that are hostile to the health of the people (however defined) are devoid of legitimacy altogether.

Absorbed into ancient Roman Law as a constitutional metanorm, the maxim spread throughout the legal systems of Europe, and across the globe. And though it has been subjected to diametrical interpretations (for health is often conflated with not only mere strength and power, but with an obsession with purity which leads to oppression and, ironically, dis-ease), and has bolstered the regimes of tyrants, it is vital to note that the maxim has been employed just as frequently in efforts to liberate people from the domination of tyrants. For instance, while common lands were being privatized in England during the enclosure period, the Levellers employed the maxim to justify their efforts to wrest land from dominating powers and distribute land in an egalitarian manner. Though authoritarian thinkers like Thomas Hobbes would use the maxim to justify absolutism and domination, it was the emancipatory, “Asklepian” interpretation of the maxim that would become most influential in the British colonies. It was just this interpretation that the North American colonists repeated in their efforts to legitimize their struggles for liberation from the British Crown. The health of the people is the supreme law, they argued; and because domination by the British Empire (not to mention any other form of domination) is hostile to people’s health, this rule lacks legitimacy and must be dissolved.

While the emancipatory spirit animating the employment of the maxim may have been frustrated by the re-emergence of dominating power (one that manifested in the US Constitution, with its enshrinement of slavery, among other economic institutions), just as the figure of Asklepios would counter the dominating power of the Fates, the maxim salus populi suprema lex esto would continue (in limited ways) to be employed to combat harms perpetrated against the health of the people – condemning noxious  industrial enterprises, for example, and nullifying debts, among other things. Though shrouded in myth, this is not purely happenstance. An important  equivalence exists between actual justice and actual health. In many respects the conditions necessary for health — the freedom from conditions of disease and domination, and the freedom to access all the resources health requires — are indistinct from the concrete conditions of justice. One may even argue that the maxim provides a basis for positive rights to housing, health care, and other elements of health. For if the health of the people is the supreme law, that which is hostile to the health of the people is against the law. As such, conditions that are hostile to health must be corrected – corrected by supplying those conditions necessary for the actual health and well being of the people of the world – such as housing, nutritious food, a healthy environment, etc. This ought to be the top social and economic priority of any society that claims to respect justice. And because we redirect our society to the extent that we reinterpret it, such a reinterpretation of the maxim – among other things – is crucial today.

In a world in which harms are systematically reproduced (from wars, global warming, and the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima, to the more mundane epidemics of poverty, occupational disease, and police brutality), and the political-economy of domination – of which Columbus was as much an effect as a cause – continues to plague the health of the people of the world, it is important to recognize that embedded within the power-structure that Columbus conveyed to the Americas is the germ of its destruction. Implicit in the dominating power of the Fates (law as mere Order) is the liberating power of Asklepios (law as Justice), and the potentially emancipatory constitutional metanorm that the actual health of the people should be the supreme law.

http://hygiecracy.blogspot.com

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and contributor to hygiecracy.blogspot.com. He lives in New York City.

 

 

George Zimmerman, Not Guilty: Blood on the Leaves July 14, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Florida, Race, Racism.
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Roger’s note: add WWB (walking while Black) to DWB (driving while Black) to the list of booby trapped “crimes” that Black Americans face every day.  After being stalked and harassed, young Trayvon Martin is found guilty (posthumously) by a 5/6 White jury  of assaulting Zimmerman to the point where he (young Trayvon, walking home from buying some snacks) “justifiably” had his young life snuffed out  .  Trayvon was not unarmed, according to the Zimmerman defense, the sidewalk was his weapon.  It would be laughable if it were not truly disgusting.  The shameless defense lawyers went to the ridiculous extreme of showing the jury a slab of concrete sidewalk.  Virtually every African American lives in an Alice in Wonderland world of execution first, trial later.  SHAME.

 

 

The not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial came down moments after I left a screening of “Fruitvale Station,” a film about the police-shooting death of Oscar Grant four years ago in Oakland. Much of the audience sat quietly sobbing as the closing credits rolled, moved by the narrative of a young black man, unarmed and senselessly gone. Words were not needed to express a common understanding: to Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, the seventeen-year-old he shot, fit the description; for black America, the circumstances of his death did.

George Zimmerman is congratulated by his lawyers after being found not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin (Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty)

The familiarity dulled the sharp edges of the tragedy. The decision the six jurors reached on Saturday evening will inspire anger, frustration, and despair, but little surprise, and this is the most deeply saddening aspect of the entire affair. From the outset— throughout the forty-four days it took for there to be an arrest, and then in the sixteen months it took to for the case to come to trial—there was a nagging suspicion that it would culminate in disappointment. Call this historical profiling.

The most damning element here is not that George Zimmerman was found not guilty: it’s the bitter knowledge that Trayvon Martin was found guilty. During his cross examination of Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, the defense attorney Mark O’Mara asked if she was avoiding the idea that her son had done something to cause his own death. During closing arguments, the defense informed the jury that Martin was armed because he weaponized a sidewalk and used it to bludgeon Zimmerman. During his post-verdict press conference, O’Mara said that, were his client black, he would never have been charged. At the defense’s table, and in the precincts far beyond it where donors have stepped forward to contribute funds to underwrite their efforts, there is a sense that Zimmerman was the victim.

“The most damning element here is not that George Zimmerman was found not guilty: it’s the bitter knowledge that Trayvon Martin was found guilty.”

O’Mara’s statement echoed a criticism that began circulating long before Martin and Zimmerman encountered each other. Thousands of black boys die at the hands of other African Americans each year, but the black community, it holds, is concerned only when those deaths are caused by whites. It’s an appealing argument, and widespread, but it’s simplistic and obtuse. It’s a belief most easily held when you’ve not witnessed peace rallies and makeshift memorials, when you’ve turned a blind eye to grassroots organizations like the Interrupters in Chicago, who are working valiantly to stem the tide of violence in that city. It is the thinking of people who’ve never wondered why African Americans disproportionately support strict gun-control legislation. The added quotient of outrage in cases like this one stems not from the belief that a white murderer is somehow worse than a black one but from the knowledge that race determines whether fear, history, and public sentiment offer that killer a usable alibi.

The thousands who gathered last spring in New York, in St. Louis, in Philadelphia, in Miami, and in Washington, D.C., to demand Zimmerman’s arrest shared a narrative and an understanding of the past’s grip on the present. Long before the horrifying images of Martin lying prone and lifeless in the grass ever made their way to Gawker, he’d already begun inspiring references to the line about “blood on the leaves” from Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.” Those crowds were the response of people who understand that history is interred in the shallowest of graves.

Yet the problem is not that this case marks a low point in this country’s racial history—it’s that, after two centuries of common history, we’re still obligated to chart high points and low ones. To be black at times like this is to see current events on a real-time ticker, a Dow Jones average measuring the quality of one’s citizenship. Trayvon Martin’s death is an American tragedy, but it will mainly be understood as an African-American one. That it occurred in a country that elected and reëlected a black President doesn’t diminish the despair this verdict inspires, it intensifies it. The fact that such a thing can happen at a moment of unparalleled political empowerment tells us that events like these are a hard, unchanging element of our landscape.

We can understand the verdict to mean validation for the idea that the actions Zimmerman took that night were those of a reasonable man, that the conclusions he drew were sound, and that a black teen-ager can be considered armed any time he is walking down a paved street. We can take from this trial the knowledge that a grieving family was capable of displaying inestimable reserves of grace. Following the verdict, Sybrina Fulton posted a benediction to Twitter: “Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have. At the end of the day, GOD is still in control.” The Twitter account of Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, features an image of him holding Trayvon as a toddler, a birthday hat perched on the boy’s head. At the trial, they sat through a grim procession of autopsy photos and audio of the gunshot that ended their son’s life. No matter the verdict, their simple pursuit of justice meant amplifying the trauma of their loss by some unknowable exponent.

There’s fear that the verdict will embolden vigilantes, but that need not be the concern: history has already done that. You don’t have to recall specifics of everything that has transpired in Florida over the past two hundred years to recognize this. The details of Rosewood, the black town terrorized and burned to the ground in 1923, and of Groveland and the black men falsely accused of rape and murdered there in 1949, can remain obscure and retain sway over our present concerns. Names—like Claude Neal, lynched in 1934, and Harry and Harriette Moore, N.A.A.C.P. organizers in Mims County, killed by a firebomb in 1951—can be overlooked. What cannot be forgotten, however, is that there were no consequences for those actions.

Perhaps history does not repeat itself exactly, but it is certainly prone to extended paraphrases. Long before the jury announced its decision, many people had seen what the outcome would be, had known that it would be a strange echo of the words Zimmerman uttered that rainy night in central Florida: they always get away.

Jelani Cobb

Jelani Cobb Ph.D. is an American author and educator, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Institute for African American Studies at University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut.

We Stand with Father Roy! November 22, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Latin America, Religion.
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Roger’s note: Father Roy Bourgeois is the founder of SOA Watch, an organization that shines the light on US government support of brutal military repression in most Latin American countries.  It is no surprise that a man who has spent his life dedicated to the struggle for social, political and economic justice in Latin America is also a champion for the rights of women.  Although I have absolutely no respect for the Roman Catholic Church as an institution, I have nothing but praise for the likes of Father Roy and his Maryknoll brothers and sisters who have literally put their lives on the line in Central America.  Unfortunately, it is not surprise either that the RC Church, especially under the previous and current Pope,  is unable to tolerate voices for freedom and equality within its fold.

 

 
With great sadness we letting you know that the Vatican has dismissed Father Roy Bourgeois from the priesthood and from his religious order, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, because of his stands for gender equality in the Catholic Church. Father Roy has served with great courage and commitment for 45 years. He has dedicated his life to serving the poor and oppressed, those whose human rights have been violated by dictators, assassins, torturers, bullies, and racists.

 
Father Roy has lived this mission throughout his life by engaging a deep commitment to solidarity in the pursuit of justice. He has explored the boundaries of solidarity with Latin America, pushing himself and the movement into deeper relationships with those most impacted by U.S. foreign policy. He has spent four years in prison for nonviolent protests against the SOA. While defending human rights in Bolivia he was beaten, and in El Salvador he was detained, barely escaping with his life. But he continued.

 
Later his conscience called him to defend the right of women to participate fully in the Catholic Church, to follow their call to become priests. The Vatican demanded that he recant, but as he said, how can I deny what I believe to be true? I must follow my conscience. And he continued.
Over the decades Father Roy has been consistent in following one single path— that of defending the rights of others, even when this placed his own life and well-being in jeopardy. He has never strayed from this path.

 
Father Roy sees solidarity as a foundation to creating change but also fundamental to being human. The ability to empathize and take seriously the struggles of others is not just an organizing tactic. It is what allows us to be a presence of radical love, struggling to transform a world fraught with injustice. It is no surprise to the SOA Watch community that his commitment to solidarity would also extend to include the concerns of his Church and that Father Roy would feel compelled to act.

 
We support and honor Roy’s decision to follow his conscience. As a movement based in civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance for over 20 years we understand the role of discernment and conscience as sacred. We support the right of individuals to choose to speak truth to power and we stand by them when power chooses to punish rather than listen. As a community committed to justice we support the struggles of people everywhere to change oppressive systems and challenge inequities.

 
To learn more about his journey, please read his statement below and click on the link to his bookletFrom Silence to Solidarity
Please stand with Father Roy at this moment just as he has bravely stood with us and people throughout the Americas and the Caribbean for four decades.

 

To show your support for Father Roy click here to say I stand with Father Roy.

 


November 20, 2012
STATEMENT BY FATHER ROY BOURGEOIS ABOUT HIS DISMISSAL FROM MARYKNOLL

 
I have been a Catholic priest in the Maryknoll community for 40 years. As a young man I joined Maryknoll because of its work for justice and equality in the world. To be expelled from Maryknoll and the priesthood for believing that women are also called to be priests is very difficult and painful.

 
The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender equality in the Catholic Church. The demand for gender equality is rooted in justice and dignity and will not go away.

 
As Catholics, we profess that God created men and women of equal worth and dignity. As priests, we profess that the call to the priesthood comes from God, only God. Who are we, as men, to say that our call from God is authentic, but God’s call to women is not? The exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice against women, our Church and our loving God who calls both men and women to be priests.

 
When there is an injustice, silence is the voice of complicity. My conscience compelled me to break my silence and address the sin of sexism in my Church. My only regret is that it took me so long to confront the issue of male power and domination in the Catholic Church.

 
I have explained my position on the ordination of women, and how I came to it, in my booklet, My Journey from Silence to Solidarity. Please go to: www.roybourgeoisjourney.org.

 
In Solidarity,

Lawyer: Treatment of Bradley Manning ‘Should Shock the Conscience’ of the Court July 20, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Constitution, Criminal Justice.
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3 comments

Published on Thursday, July 19, 2012 by Common Dreams

 

- Common Dreams staff

The mistreatment Bradley Manning experienced at the US Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia “should shock the conscience of this court,” Manning’s lawyer said Thursday at a pre-trial hearing.

(photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images) 24-year-old Manning, who faces 22 charges, was held in solitary confinement from July 2010 to April 2011.

David Coombs, Manning’s lawyer, said Manning’s treatment was “unlawful,” and that the blanket he had there was basically “a large piece of sand paper.”

On Thursday the judge also denied a request from the defense to have United Nations torture investigator Juan Mendez testify, saying it was irrelevant as Mendez had not visited Manning at Quantico. Mendez had, in fact, attempted to but was refused an unmonitored visit. In a 14-month investigation into the Manning, Mendez accused the U.S. government of harsh treatment of Bradley Manning that may amount to torture

 

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  • philiphoko 12 comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    A brave soldier of freedom, tortured by the ghouls of war.

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  • Chris Randolph 11 comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    Obama’s prisoner we should remember. One word from the White House, not needing any congressional input, would automatically improve his treatment.

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  • philiphoko 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Obama is the Ghoul in Chief. His breath is rot, his words, polished vomit, his vision, shifting curtains of blood.

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  • julea bacall 9 comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    I voted for Obama and I really want to know what’s up with him on this. Will he give us a statement? This cannot happen in this country and us turn a blind eye. The killing of Journalists by Americans cannot happen without our outcry. The killing of Pat Tillman by his own troop cannot happen without Outcry. Pres. Obama….Whats up???

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  • nwcitizen 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    If I recall correctly, Obama has already delcared Bradley Manning guilty. This was before any charges were brought.

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  • RedRavenSounds 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Look what they did to the guys who protested Vietnam – They were accused of mutiny!! They were held at the Presidio in San Francisco.
    Watch ‘Sir no Sir” If you threaten the 1% – They bring hell down on your head – Bradley will be remembered some day as the hero he is, just like the guys held at the Presidio are recognized as the heroes they are.

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  • Alfred_Germany 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Until Obama’s zionist masters are brought to trial, don’t expect anything to get any better. Zionist crimes agains the American People go back a way’s, for example:
    remember the USS Liberty and the many US soldiers who died on it by Israeli air attack in June 1967! It was done to hide Israel’s attack plans on the neighboring countries who had no soldiers in position to attack Israel!

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  • G_Orez 4 comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    Not only did Obama declare Bradley Manning “guilty,” also he was asked about the treatment he was receiving before he was transferred from Quantico:

    President Obama tells us that he’s asked the Pentagon whether the conditions of confinement of Bradley Manning,
    the soldier charged with leaking state secrets, “are appropriate and
    are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comm…

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  • rwe2late 2 comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    G_Orez
    there’s more:

    After State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley criticized Manning’s conditions of confinement, the White House forced him to resign. Crowley had said the restrictions were “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.”
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/i…

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  • G_Orez 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    I remember that as well.

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  • 4:20 Express 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Oblahblah already made a statement over a year ago. He declared Bradley Manning guilty.

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  • ArtBrennan 2 comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    I’m a veteran and retired superior court judge from NH. Manning’s pre-trial imprisonment and torture are aimed at getting him to plead guilty to lesser charges. So far, he has managed to withstand his abusers and force this thing to the show trial that it is bound to be. No doubt, in the interest of “national security” (which has nothing to do with the security of the people of the US and everything to do with the military industrial complex), the evidence that would help Manning and enlighten the rest of us will be excluded by the court. Only if we have a judge with the integrity and courage of Judge William Byrne, who freed Daniel Ellsberg, will justice be done for Manning and the people of the US and the world. We should all do our best to be there for this young Manning and show the world and Manning where we stand!

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  • Mercury Whisper 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Absolutely Correct ArtBrennan..America really must get calmly to common ground on this one.. everyone cannot be a movie star !! At least theymust control their individual egos and get the job done UNITE WITH CALM LOVING STRENGTH .This is the force that changes the status quo.Not the screaming.!

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  • mapczar 2 comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    No it would not shock me. Some of our servicemen are nothing more than thugs in uniform that follow orders and act in a predictable way. As military service turns more and more to the political right you will see more and more behavior that would shock ordinary Americans, such as Manning. He made an oath to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and he meant it as few are prepared to do. In the service to your country, you might be placed in a position to sacrifice your life but you may also be asked to sacrifice less — such as a career or your freedom. Bradley Manning knows what I am talking about. Giving your life may be an act of physical courage. His sacrifice was one of moral courage which I believe is much more rare in today’s military or among our elected officials. We need more Bradley Mannings, especially in high places.

    You have my life-long salute sir.Full disclosure: former LCDR, USN

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  • 4:20 Express 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Under the Uniform Military Code of Justice, and the Geneva Convention, a soldier is required to report acts of war crimes.

    Bradley Manning was doing his duty as a soldier and should be given a medal and a promotion, not drumhead justice.

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  • NR16020 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Sickening.
    It is for actions such as these that I hate the U.S. military.
    We could slash their budget by half and still be the strongest in the world, while having hundreds of billions of dollars more to spend on the good things, such as infrastructure and helping the less fortunate and therefore making America a MUCH better place.
    Why are such a high percentage of American citizens so cowardly that they think if we slash the military budget by half, we would not be safe??
    Those who don’t want to substantially cut the military budget and foreign bases are a bunch of cowards and bullies.

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  • minitrue 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Sadly, show trials are nothing new. In the CCCP, people were often tortured to the point of confessing to anything they were accused of. Then they were allowed to “confess” to their crimes in show trials, implicating anyone they were told to, with the promise that if they didn’t, the torture chambers awaited them.

    I don’t think Bradley has the chance of a snowball in a blast furnace, unless they cook up a deal to use him to get Julian.

    Next, it will be Room 101.

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  • Shantiananda 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Mr. Manning: A very brave, patriotic and honorable soldier, being made an example, by an evil, cowardly, kangaroo government court, to discourage any other brave, patriotic and honorable soldiers from following in his footsteps.

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  • karl 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Yes the Nazis like to torture people.

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  • michiganwoman1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    US torture.

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  • Elizabeth H 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    That latest decision from the judge doesn’t bode well, but I’m miserably not surprised. Every veteran I’ve ever talked to about this case knows Manning doesn’t stand a chance, and unfortunately some have no sympathy. They think he should have waited till he got out to do any leaking. One laughed at the level of information. He’d been privy to Top Security info, and was amazed at the tame stuff that Manning leaked. Well, let’s push that idea further, my man. What have you got? Any possibility you could do something with it? Ahhh, he wasn’t the type to do any such thing as to save some of that info and get himself martyred.

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  • Scott_ffolliott 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    “But it will be transformed. All the present systems will be transformed. People are not fools. I remember your President Lincoln saying that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
    Their common sense, their instinct for decency and justice, will bring them together. Don’t scoff! It has happened before. It can happen again, on a much larger scale. And when it does, the rulers of society, with all their wealth, with all their armies, will be helpless to prevent it. Their servants will refuse to serve, their soldiers will disobey orders.”

    from Howard Zinn’s play Marx in Soho

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  • DoileWrague 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Hey, he’s guilty right? Didn’t the “Commander In Chief” say so? Obama could order him killed tomorrow!. He could order him tied to a big goddam stake out in the middle of a field and damn-well drone-hit!, So Manning better shut up and take what’s coming to him! Obama’s being kind, generous and lenient toward Manning and he’s not even grateful!

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  • Eyepublius 5 comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    I doubt that Bradley Manning was “tortured” or even came close to torture. I am sure he was on a very close suicide watch.

    Torture: that was left up the those in the previous “torture kept us safe” team (read: Bush-Cheney-Yoo-Addington-Gonzales-Rice-Rumsfeld-Bybee, and a few others).

    — Dan Francis (Watertown, NY – near Fort Drum) and former Marine Corps interrogator (1stLt., USMC (Ret.)

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  • Elizabeth H 2 comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    Are you kidding? You are kidding, right? They were using classic no-touch torture techniques on him. Drugging him (on “antidepressants” they said vaguely, many of which now are combined with neuroleptics, just like they gave the dissidents of yore in the USSR). Solitary. Waking him constantly “to see if he was OK”). Making him strip naked and stand to attention for all to see. Calling it suicide watch even though the prison psych experts reported that he wasn’t suicidal.

    I guess you’re one of those “no blood, no blame” types, or you’d better get better at your irony act, because it’s not coming through with any force, and many on these threads couldn’t see irony even if it were fashioned by Mark Twain.

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  • BackStory 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    You should see what they do to a normal regular person in the military if they are on ‘profile’ as a suicide watch. It’s called LOS (line of sight). You are placed somewhere where someone can watch you at any time, this could be in a really noisy game room (so you can’t sleep) or at a lone desk in a lone room with nothing to look at or read and no place to rest (so you can’t sleep) or in a janitor’s closet in a dilapidated building at the unused end of a military base with an armed guard standing outside (I guess so the can shoot you if you decide to try to kill yourself). THIS is what the call suicide prevention in the military. If you ain’t useful, you are as good as dead to the MIC. It’s all collateral damage and you know how much we care about that.

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  • Chris Herz 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    No country ever hold political prisoners. Always there are some other “charges” used to cover the panic of corrupt authorities at having their crimes outed. And torture . . The mere idea is impossible in the USSA.

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  • 4:20 Express 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    You obviously don’t understand psychological torture. As I understand, Bradley Manning was keot confined in a cell, naked, under a bright light, for 23 hours a day. At “night” he was awoken every 20 mins or so to be asked if he was ok.

    If you don’t think experiencing those conditions, for 11 months nonstop, is torture, I’d suggest you give it a try.

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  • Caleb Abell 3 comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    It’s always heartwarming to see a Judge … a man who has dedicated his life to justice … stand up for what’s right and demonstrate his personal honor and integrity in what is probably the most important case he will ever try.

    All those in the legal profession no doubt respect him for the jurist and man he is. His parents, wife and children should be proud of him. I’m sure he is just a reflection of the men and women of quality and honor who sit on the bench across this proud land.

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  • G_Orez 2 comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    Army Col. Denise Lind,
    presiding over a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade, agreed with
    prosecutors that the extent of any damage is irrelevant to the 22
    charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning.
    http://www.newstimes.com/news/…

     

    This particular man is a she… 

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  • Caleb Abell 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    “This particular man is a she…”

    My error. Too bad, I hoped the female professionals would improve the profession. I was naive.

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  • bsidegumbo 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Come join Courage to Resist and Bradley Manning Support Committee to protest Obama at Fox Theater this coming Monday, July 23rd at 3 PM. It’s right near 19th St. BART Station.

    “They hide the truth from the American people, protect corporate criminals and punish the truth tellers. And will continue their assault on demopcracy here and around the world until the American people stop them.”

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  • Mercury Whisper 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Is it not about time for citizens to arrest these satanic people whom think they have a right to treat people any way they like ?who really are these people? the President was voted by the people for the people!! all that progresive rhetoric Ha! to really enslave a nation? it is the most shameful constant invasion on the collective soul of humanity..Get smart now OWS its surely time to retaliate ..the Law is manipulated to suit those disgusting people whom you voted in to lead you to a happier expression and born human right dignity and freedom to love ..grow and have education .. health care across the board not enslave you to fear and mistreatment ..That has you yelling on the streets.you are the power!! Bradley is the unfortunate soul to show you just how twisted your government,police force and military relly are.Bradley will be free..tou could always storm the Pentegon? The White House? after all . :)

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  • gloria quinones 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    Obama: The New Manchurian Candidate???

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  • HenryWallace2012 1 comment collapsed CollapseExpand

    The West invented torture! It started in Western Europe. Secret trials in ancient Germany were of the type that people had no right to confront accusers and would always be found guilty and executed often in the most brutal manner. A little history.

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Bradley Manning Lawyer: US Trying to Prevent Fair Trial for Soldier June 24, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice.
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Published on Sunday, June 24, 2012 by Common Dreams

 

In a motion ahead of Monday’s pre-trial hearing, civilian lawyer says prosecutors are still denying defense access to documents

- Common Dreams staff

Bradley Manning’s lawyer charges that the US government is deliberately attempting to prevent Bradley Manning from receiving a fair trial, according to The Guardian on Sunday.

Bradley Manning’s lawyers say the prosecution team is keeping important documents from them. (Cliff Owen/AP)

David Coombs, Manning’s civilian lawyer, has made his strongest accusations yet about the conduct of the military prosecutors. In motions filed with the military court ahead of a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, on Monday, he goes so far as to accuse the government in essence of lying to the court.

Coombs charges the prosecutors with making “an outright misrepresentation” to the court over evidence the defense has been trying for months to gain access to through disclosure.

* * *

The Guardian reports:

[...] The dispute relates to an investigation by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, Oncix, into the damage caused by the WikiLeaks disclosures of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.

Reports by the Associated Press, Reuters and other news outlets have suggested that official inquiries into the impact of WikiLeaks concluded that the leaks caused some “pockets” of short-term damage around the world, but that generally its impact had been embarrassing rather than harmful.

Such a finding could prove invaluable to the defence in fighting some of the charges facing Manning or, should he be found guilty, reducing his sentence.

Yet Coombs says the army prosecutors have consistently kept him, and the court, in the dark, thwarting his legal rights to see the evidence.

“It was abundantly clear that Oncix had some form of inquiry into the harm from the leaks – but the government switched definitions around arbitrarily so as to avoid disclosing this discovery to the defence.”

On 21 March, the prosecutors told the court that “Oncix has not produced any interim or final damage assessment” into WikiLeaks.

Coombs alleges that this statement was inaccurate – and the government knew it to be inaccurate at the time it made it.

“The defense submits [this] was an outright misrepresentation,” he writes.

On 20 April, the government told the court that “Oncix does not have any forensic results or investigative files”. Yet a week before that, the prosecutors had handed to the defence documents that clearly showed Oncix had begun to investigate WikiLeaks almost 18 months previously.

“Oncix was collecting information from various agencies in late 2010 to assess what damage, if any, was occasioned by the leaks. So how could it be that Oncix neither had an investigation nor a damage assessment?” Coombs writes.

The alleged efforts by the US government to avoid fulfilling its obligations to hand over evidence, Coombs says, has had the effect of rendering it impossible for the defence to prepare for the trial which is scheduled to begin in September.

Without access to the information, they cannot identify witnesses, develop questions for those witnesses, prepare a cross-examination strategy and so on.

“There is no way that the defense can adequately prepare its case,” Coombs complains.

Most damningly, he alleges that is precisely the army’s intention. “The government should not be able to circumvent its discovery obligations for two years, then dump discovery on the defense last-minute, and expect that there will be a fair battle,” he says.

“Indeed, the defense believes that this was the intention of the government – to defeat its adversary by adopting untenable litigation positions designed to frustrate discovery.”

Manning will make his fourth court appearance at Fort Meade on Monday. If convicted of the 22 counts, which include “aiding the enemy”, he could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in military custody.

# # #

johndwyeran hour ago

Justice left the earth a long while ago and hasn’t been seen (except in her heavenly constellation) since. Moreover, unless Mr. Manning is gifted with a backbone substantially stronger than his former Commander in Chief as well as with an unassailable intellect, what has already been done to him will render him a babbling non-person.

I will forever revere him for taking a principled stand for Truth against the whole world. Julian Assange, likewise, is a man deserving of the highest esteem from fearless believers in the humaneness of humankind. All we need to stop the bombs is to know who, what, where, when and why. People the world over, all 7 billion of us, are basically good. We need to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in order to act upon that goodness.

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johndwyeran hour ago

Justice left the earth a long while ago and hasn’t been seen (except in her heavenly constellation) since. Moreover, unless Mr. Manning is gifted with a backbone substantially stronger than his former Commander in Chief as well as with an unassailable intellect, what has already been done to him will render him a babbling non-person.

I will forever revere him for taking a principled stand for Truth against the whole world. Julian Assange, likewise, is a man deserving of the highest esteem from fearless believers in the humaneness of humankind. All we need to stop the bombs is to know who, what, where, when and why. People the world over, all 7 billion of us, are basically good. We need to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in order to act upon that goodness.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers Brings Farmworker Movement to the Streets August 7, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture, Florida, Immigration, Labor.
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Published on Saturday, August 6, 2011 by In These Times

  by Michelle Chen

The hot summer has brought in a bumper crop of food activism from coast to coast. For the past few weeks, a group of Florida farm workers has embarked on a marketing coup that challenges the country’s food business giants by educating consumers about exploitation in the tomato industry.

(Image: Coalition of Immokalee Workers) The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has made a name for itself by using creative consumer-driven campaigns to promote fairer wages and working conditions for tomato harvesters, a workforce fueled by Latino migrant laborers. Though corporate resistance has been formidable, the group has scored a series of victories over the past few years over the likes of Taco Bell, Burger King and Subway. Partnering with consumer groups and fair-food activists, the CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food seeks to educate people about the brutal labor that goes into each tomato.

Farmworkers’ backbreaking toil will be spotlighted on some of the trendiest sidewalks in Manhattan on Friday, with rallies at Trader Joe’s stores in the Village and Chelsea. The actions follow a similar campaign on the West Coast in which protesters in San Francisco and Berkeley wielded paper-bag picket signs and marched through the Mission District calling on drivers to “Honk for Farm Worker Justice.” The CIW now counts a number of religious leaders and gourmet food activist Barry Estabrook among its allies.

The Coalition says its multi-pronged struggle involves “all the elements of our country’s food industry,” from the folks hauling baskets all the way up to the florescent-lit supermarket aisle. Most importantly, the organization banks on the political leverage of consumers to push stores and suppliers to abide by ethical standards. With an active membership of several thousand, the workers themselves participate as well through organizing and educating people on “humanizing our farm labor system.”

The workers’ key demand, an additional penny per pound of tomatoes picked, seems a tiny cost for consumers and producers to absorb, given the workers’ long hours, arduous working conditions and their vulnerability to maltreatment and even slave labor. The pennies do add up for laborers, potentially boosting yearly earnings by several thousand dollars. (Typical wages amount to less than $12,000 annually, according to the Coalition, and after years of virtually stagnant wages, “a worker today must pick more than 2.25 tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage in a typical 10-hour workday.”)

CIW’s summer Truth Tour demonstrations, which focus on big-name grocers, have been decried by the right-wing blogosphere as a “Prototypical Example of Alinsky Tactics and Smug Self-Immortalization.” Translation: an effective protest action.

The campaign puts Trader Joe’s hip, liberal brand in a bind: the company complained publicly in May that while it was willing to comply with CIW’s demands in general, specific provisions of the draft agreement were “overreaching” and “improper.” CIW responded with lengthy point-by-point rebuttals and declared, ‘It seems that the longer Trader Joe’s resists the Fair Food movement, the more its leadership — from the CEO to the public relations department — is determined to tarnish the company’s reputation as an ethical, progressive grocer.”

The organizing model evokes interesting historical comparisons with another wave of farm labor activist in the 1960s and 1970s led by United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez, which pioneered union organizing in agriculture. Yet the UFW has lost political salience over the years, as working conditions have deteriorated.

The younger, nimbler CIW is not a union, but in many ways neither needs nor desires the conventional union structure. The fluid, precarious nature of migrant labor is a barrier to movement building, yet at the same time, the tomato industry’s severe consolidation across the supply chain provide fertile ground for focused, visible campaigns that mobilize consumers and workers in tandem.

Last fall, Kari Lydersen reported that faced with pressure from consumers and workers, some of Florida’s big growers had finally agreed to the penny-per-pound wage subsidy. Soon after, the Coalition clinched a groundbreaking deal with the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, which bound major growers to a contract that includes “a strict code of conduct, a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process.” The agreement, estimated to cover more than 90 percent of Florida’s tomato industry, helps close a crucial gap in the chain, since retailers and restaurants agreeing to the penny raise could guarantee that the benefit would trickle down to workers.

The enforcement mechanism within the binding agreement is designed to keep growers and suppliers in check, using an outside nonprofit group to monitor compliance, so that, at least in theory, any grower that violates the code won’t be able to sell to retailers also bound to the agreement. CIW organizer Lucas Benitez told Naples Daily News that employers have to answer to both their buyers and their workers:

With this agreement, we will be working with growers to identify and eliminate abuses through a cooperative complaint investigation and resolution system, with real consequences for violations, including zero tolerance for forced labor.

In the absence of strong government regulation, the Coalition’s strategy aims not just to force employers to obey labor laws but also strive for decent working standards overall, in order to turn Florida’s tomato industry from a bastion of poverty into, in Benitez’s words, “a model of social accountability for the 21st century.”

Whether such industrial change can be wrought by a motley alliance of some of the country’s poorest workers, the biggest food brands, and the savviest customers, has yet to be seen. But if a bunch of migrant farm workers can get Manhattan hipsters to think seriously about who picked their salad this summer, they’re on the road to victory.

© 2011 In These Times

Four Decades of Cruelty and Inhumanity to U.S. Political Prisoners June 26, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Race, Racism.
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Published on Sunday, June 26, 2011 by Black Agenda Report

A Black Agenda Radio commentary

  by  Glen Ford

For almost 40 years, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace have been in solitary confinement at Louisiana’s infamous Angola State Prison, in what is thought to be the longest period of enforced solitude in America’s vast prison gulag. Amnesty International says their treatment is “cruel and inhumane and a violation of the US’s obligations under international law.” Woodfox is now 64 years old, and Wallace is 69. They are two of the original Angola 3, convicted of the murder of a prison guard in 1972. The other member of the trio, Robert King, was released after 29 years in solitary confinement after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

Under the conditions of solitary confinement, Woodfox and Wallace are restricted to their tiny cells for 23 hours a day. Three times a week, for an hour, they are allowed to exercise in an outdoor cage, if weather permits. For 40 years, they have not been allowed access to work or to education. And there has been no legitimate review of their cases in all that time.

There was never any physical evidence of the men’s guilt, only the very questionable testimony of other inmates, one of whom was bribed by officials and another of whom retracted his testimony. Woodfox and Wallace and King have been subjected to the greatest cruelties Louisiana has to offer because they became political prisoners after entering Angola, when they formed a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party. One prison official says flatly, that “there’s been no rehabilitation” from “practicing Black Pantherism.” In other words, the prison considers their politics to be their crime.

Albert Woodfox’s conviction has twice been overturned by lower courts on the basis of racial discrimination, prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense and suppression of evidence. But the U.S. Court of Appeals decided that Woodfox’s fate was Louisiana’s business. Amnesty International demands only that the two elderly prisoners be released from solitary. Woodfox and Wallace, it should be pointed out, became political prisoners after initially being incarcerated for criminal offenses.

There are scores of U.S. political prisoners that have languished behind bars for three or four decades. The National Conference of Black Lawyers has been pressing for their outright release, especially those who were wrongfully imprisoned due to the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation, which sought to “neutralize” and destroy radical political activists and organizations – most notably the Black Panther Party. In the cases of those targeted by COINTELPRO, it was the federal government’s lawlessness that led to a lifetime in prison. Therefore, the U.S. government is obligated to free them. But the United States continues to deny that there is such a thing as a political prisoner within its borders. The Obama administration is always eager to claim that other countries are abusing their political prisoners. It also says it wants to play an active role in the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. But that will require the U.S. to answer charges that it imprisons people for political reasons, holds them under cruel and inhuman conditions, and that racism pervades its criminal justice system.

© 2011 Black Agenda Report

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Glen Ford

Back Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Clarence Thomas Decided Three Cases Where AEI Filed a Brief After AEI Gave Him a $15,000 Gift June 21, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice.
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Tuesday 21 June 2011
by: Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress                 | Report

In 2001, a conservative, corporate-aligned think tank called the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) gave Justice Clarence Thomas the gift of a $15,000 bust of Abraham Lincoln. At the ceremony presenting Thomas with this very expensive gift, AEI president Christopher DeMuth explained that the bust was “cast in 1914 by the great neo-classical sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman.”

AEI, however, is not simply in the business of giving luxurious gifts to Supreme Court justices — it is also in the business of litigating before the United States Supreme Court. ThinkProgress uncovered three briefs that AEI filed in Thomas’ Court after Thomas received their $15,000 gift. Thomas recused from none of these three cases, and he either voted in favor of the result AEI favored or took a stance that was even further to the right in each case:

  • Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1: AEI filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decisionupholding a local school district’s desegregation plan. Thomas joined the majority opinion reversing the lower court’s decision, and he filed a lengthy concurrence defending that result.
  • Whitman v. American Trucking Association: AEI joined a brief asking the Supreme Court to allow the EPA to consider the costs of implementing new air quality standards before it issued them. Thomas’ concurring opinion went much further than AEI asked him to go, suggesting that the law authorizing EPA to issue these standards is unconstitutional.

Although there is no evidence that AEI gave Thomas the $15,000 gift specifically to buy his vote in a particular case, Thomas’ decision to sit on cases where his benefactor has a demonstrated interest creates a very serious appearance of impropriety. No one would trust a judge to hear their case if they learned that someone on the other side of the case had given that judge a rare and expensive gift.

The Targeted Assassination of Osama Bin Laden May 10, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, War on Terror.
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                                                                                        NUREMBERG WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL
 
 
Published on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

When he announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed by a Navy Seal team in Pakistan, President Barack Obama said, “Justice has been done.” Mr. Obama misused the word, “justice” when he made that statement. He should have said, “Retaliation has been accomplished.” A former professor of constitutional law should know the difference between those two concepts. The word “justice” implies an act of applying or upholding the law.

Targeted assassinations violate well-established principles of international law. Also called political assassinations, they are extrajudicial executions. These are unlawful and deliberate killings carried out by order of, or with the acquiescence of, a government, outside any judicial framework.

Extrajudicial executions are unlawful, even in armed conflict. In a 1998 report, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions noted that “extrajudicial executions can never be justified under any circumstances, not even in time of war.” The U.N. General Assembly and Human Rights Commission, as well as Amnesty International, have all condemned extrajudicial executions.

In spite of its illegality, the Obama administration frequently uses targeted assassinations to accomplish its goals. Five days after executing Osama bin Laden, Mr. Obama tried to bring “justice” to U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who has not been charged with any crime in the United States. The unmanned drone attack in Yemen missed al-Awlaki and killed two people “believed to be al Qaeda militants,” according to a CBS/AP bulletin.

Two days before the Yemen attack, U.S. drones killed 15 people in Pakistan and wounded four. Since the March 17 drone attack that killed 44 people, also in Pakistan, there have been four drone strikes. In 2010, American drones carried out 111 strikes. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says that 957 civilians were killed in 2010.

The United States disavowed the use of extrajudicial killings under President Gerald Ford. After the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence disclosed in 1975 that the CIA had been involved in several murders or attempted murders of foreign leaders, President Ford issued an executive order banning assassinations. Every succeeding president until George W. Bush renewed that order. However, the Clinton administration targeted Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, but narrowly missed him.

In July 2001, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel denounced Israel’s policy of targeted killings, or “preemptive operations.” He said “the United States government is very clearly on the record as against targeted assassinations. They are extrajudicial killings, and we do not support that.”

Yet after September 11, 2001, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer invited the killing of Saddam Hussein: “The cost of one bullet, if the Iraqi people take it on themselves, is substantially less” than the cost of war. Shortly thereafter, Bush issued a secret directive, which authorized the CIA to target suspected terrorists for assassination when it would be impractical to capture them and when large-scale civilian casualties could be avoided.

In November 2002, Bush reportedly authorized the CIA to assassinate a suspected Al Qaeda leader in Yemen. He and five traveling companions were killed in the hit, which Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz described as a “very successful tactical operation.”

After the Holocaust, Winston Churchill wanted to execute the Nazi leaders without trials. But the U.S. government opposed the extrajudicial executions of Nazi officials who had committed genocide against millions of people. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, who served as chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, told President Harry Truman: “We could execute or otherwise punish [the Nazi leaders] without a hearing. But undiscriminating executions or punishments without definite findings of guilt, fairly arrived at, would … not set easily on the American conscience or be remembered by children with pride.”

Osama bin Laden and the “suspected militants” targeted in drone attacks should have been arrested and tried in U.S. courts or an international tribunal. Obama cannot serve as judge, jury and executioner. These assassinations are not only illegal; they create a dangerous precedent, which could be used to justify the targeted killings of U.S. leaders.

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Marjorie Cohn

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of LGang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (with Kathleen Gilberd).  Her anthology, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse, is now available. Her articles are archived at www.marjoriecohn.comaw and past President of the National Lawyers Guild, is the deputy secretary general for external communications of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists..  She is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush

What’s at Stake for Women in Wal-Mart v. Dukes March 29, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Labor, Women.
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(Roger’s note: here is how justice works in the banana republic known as the United States of America.  Aided in part by a supreme court justice with a conflict of interst that should have foreced him to recuse himself, George W. Bush steals two presidential elections and goes on to appoint right wing ideologues to the Court.  This is the Court that will decide on the question of equal justice for women in the WalMart case discussed below.”)

Thursday 24 March 2011

by: Fatima Goss Graves  |  New Deal 2.0 | News Analysis

What's at Stake for Women in Wal-Mart v. Dukes
(Photo: code poet)

No matter how available wage data is sliced and diced, a single truth remains: a wage gap exists between male and female workers. On average, full-time female workers make 23 percent less than male full-time workers. And for women of color, the gap in wages is even larger. African American women and Hispanic women working full-time make far less, on average — 62 percent and 53 percent respectively — compared to white, non-Hispanic men.

There is a gap in wages in every part of the country, with women in Wyoming and Louisiana making just 66 percent of male earnings. Even in the District of Columbia, where the wage gap is the smallest, women make 88 percent of male earnings. And although the Department of Labor has documented a gap in wages in every field, sales occupations are particularly behind the times. Women working full-time in sales occupations earned only 64 percent of their male counterparts’ earnings in 2010 — the highest of any occupation. In fact, the last time the overall wage gap was so large was 1981, when women across all occupations earned just 64.4 percent of men’s earnings.

This gap in wages is not merely the result of women’s “choices” in career or family, as study after study has demonstrated. Even when researchers have controlled for demographic differences between male and female employees, such as worker qualifications, experience, occupation type, and industry, a persistent gap in wages remains. To name results from just a few recent studies, the gap in wages between male and female physicians has only increased over the past decade, even after controlling for medical specialty, hours and practice type. And women with MBAs were paid less than men in their first post-MBA job and experienced less salary growth thereafter. These and many more studies, together with the countless pay discrimination cases filed around the country, show that pay disparities remain an entrenched problem.

Set against the backdrop of widespread disparities in pay, there is a tremendous amount at stake in the pay and promotions discrimination class action that will be argued in the Supreme Court on March 29th. In Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the Supreme Court will determine whether a nationwide class of women workers challenging alleged sex discrimination by Wal-Mart in pay and promotions can proceed. According to the plaintiffs’ evidence, women at Wal-Mart on average earned $5,000 less than men, even though women tended to have higher performance ratings and more seniority. Women also were less likely to be promoted to store manager positions and had to wait significantly longer for promotions than men. The Court’s decision will also effectively determine whether workers can continue to challenge company-wide discrimination by larger employers.

Title VII was intended to eradicate precisely the type of pernicious discrimination that is alleged in this case. Indeed, a company-wide class challenge is the only effective way to remedy company-wide discriminatory practices. With the average wage gap at 77 percent, women and their families are watching closely to see whether the Court’s holding will continue to allow the class action vehicle to be a critical tool for employees to challenge pay discrimination. In this economy, the stakes could not be higher.

Fatima Goss Graves is Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women’s Law Center. 

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