Monday, February 8, 2016

6 Facts That Erase Any Doubt US Officials Know They Are Deporting People to Their Deaths


Jeh Johnson with Joe Biden and Barack Obama. (photo: Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press)
Jeh Johnson with Joe Biden and Barack Obama. (photo: Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press)

6 Facts That Erase Any Doubt US Officials Know They Are Deporting People to Their Deaths
By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, ThinkProgress
07 February 16

   The Obama administration has no plans of stopping its ongoing immigration operations targeting Central American moms and children for deportation proceedings.

    Since the start of the new year, federal immigration agents have detained and arrested 121 women and children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, at least 77 of whom have already been deported back to those countries. Harshly condemned by activists and lawyers, the raids have put the immigrant community as a whole on edge.
Many undocumented immigrants have already gone into hidingafraid of frequenting businesses, attending schools, and going to important events. The raids have sent “shockwaves of violence, of fear and destruction” across immigrant communities, Joanne Lin, the immigration policy advocacy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told ThinkProgress late last month.

   Central American immigrants have reason to be afraid of deportation — since January 2014, at least 83 people were killed after they were deported back to the three Central American countries, which are experiencing an unceasing wave of gang violence and crushing poverty.El Salvador is currently on track to overtake Honduras as the murder capital of the world.

   In spite of the increasing dangers, the U.S. has yet to halt deportations back to Central America. But Obama administration officials have come close to acknowledging the nature of the situation on the ground. Here are just a few examples of U.S. officials suggesting they’re aware that Central America has a refugee crisis:

1. President Obama acknowledged that some Central Americans teens are running from gang violence.

   Ahead of authorizing the immigration raids, President Obama noted during a naturalization ceremony late last year that many immigrants come to the United States “in search of dream” while “others sought shelter from nightmares.” Those people include refugees from all over the word, including “Central American teenagers running from gang violence.”

2. The U.S. increased the number of refugee admissions from Central America.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the country would expand its U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to offer “vulnerable” families and individuals “a safe and legal alternative to the dangerous journey that many are tempted to begin, making them at that instant easy prey for human smugglers who have no interest but their own profits.”
As many as 9,000 people from the three countries may be eligible under the proposed refugee program, according to an administration official who spoke with the New York Times. The United States was already planning to admit 85,000 refugees this fiscal year, but only about 3,000 of those slots were allocated for individuals from Latin American and the Caribbean. In comparison, the U.S. set aside about 10,000 refugee slots for Syrian refugees.

3. The U.S. State Department called El Salvador “one of the most dangerous countries in the world.”

In a congressional document submitted last month, the U.S. Department of State explained that El Salvador has become particularly dangerous thanks to an uptick in gang violence.

“El Salvador is one of the most dangerous countries in the world by measure of homicide rate,” reads the letter obtained by ThinkProgress. “Currently, 13 homicides occur each day in a country of only 6.2 million people and it has the world’s highest homicide rate among youth aged 0-19 at 27 per 100,000 people. Violence among youth has worsened rapidly since May, following the deterioration of a gang truce forged in 2012, driving a surge in migration of unaccompanied children (UCs) to the United States.”

4. The Peace Corps pulled its personnel out of El Salvador.

The same month that the Obama administration authorized the immigration raids, the Peace Corps — an independent agency within the executive branch of the U.S. government —suspended its program in El Salvador, citing the “ongoing security environment” and dangerous conditions in the country.

5. The Department of Homeland Secretary acknowledged we must provide “safe alternatives” for people “fleeing violence and persecution in Central America.”

In response to Democratic senators who criticized the administration’s authorization of deportation raids, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry wrote in a joint letter that the administration was focusing its enforcement resources on the “removal of convicted criminals and threats to public safety.” The letter released late last month and obtained by ThinkProgress insisted that the DHS agency would execute its law enforcement mission by continuing to “send the message that our borders are not open to unlawful migration.” But the letter also acknowledged, “we recognize we must offer safe alternatives to those fleeing violence and persecution in Central America.”

6. DHS Secretary Johnson recognized that some Central Americans can be “regarded as refugees.”

   In a February press release, Johnson doubled down on the raids, saying they “will continue” because the Obama administration will not “dial back our border security efforts.” Still, at the end of the press release, Johnson acknowledged, that “many who seek to flee Central America may be regarded as refugees.”

C 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Baltimore Activist Alert - February 9 - 10, 2016

27] Support migrant farm workers – Feb. 9
28] Hunt for WMDs – Feb. 9
29] Philadelphia Peace Vigil – Feb. 9
30] Protest JHU drone research – Feb. 9
31] Select labor films – Feb. 9
32] ‘A Boy’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration” – Feb. 9
33] Play PRAY FOR THE DEAD – Feb. 9
34] The Right to the City – Feb. 9
35] As Wednesday service at the White Hose – Feb. 10
36] What’s next with Iran? – Feb. 10
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27] – Get over to 4518 14th St. NW, WDC, on Tues., Feb. 9 from 3 to 7:30 PM to hear about the organizing of the migrant farm workers who pick the berries for Sakuma Brothers Berry Farm in Skagit County, Washington, one of the largest berry companies in the U.S. In the summer of 2013, the farm workers at Sakuma went on strike and formed a union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia (United Families for Justice). They continue the fight to end systematic wage theft, racist abuse in the fields and inhumane housing conditions. They want a higher wage, health insurance, and respect on the job. There is a boycott of Sakuma, Driscoll's berries and Haagen-Dazs until the labor dispute is resolved and the workers have a contract recognizing their union. Contact DC IWW at dc.iww.gmb@gmail.com or 202-431-7454.

28] – On Tues., Feb. 9 from 3:30 to 5 PM, Christopher Chivers, New York Times, will tackle "ISIS' Hunt for WMDs: Navigating the Nuclear Underworld" at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, WDC 20036. RSVP at http://csis.org/event/isis-hunt-wmds-navigating-nuclear-underworld-cj-chivers. Call Sarah Minot at (202) 741-3878.

29] – Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th St. & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine.  The next vigil is Feb. 9.  Call 215-426-0364.

30] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 33rd & North Charles Sts. join this ongoing vigil on Feb. 9  from 5:30 to 6:30  PM.  Call Max at 410-366-1637.

31] – On Tues., Feb. 9 from 6 to 8 PM at Busboys and Poets, 235 Carroll St. NW, WDC, help decide what films are shown at this year’s DC Labor FilmFest! They’ll screen and discuss trailers for films under consideration, including "Hard Labor", "Sherpa," "Waydowntown" and more. Delicious food and drink will be available for purchase and all participants will receive a LaborFest t-shirt! Go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dc-labor-filmfest-previews-tickets-21261130614.

32] – There is a book talk about “Slugg: A Boy’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration” with author Tony Lewis Jr. at The Potter's House, 1658 Columbia Road NW, WDC, on Tues., Feb. 9 from 7 to 9 PM.  The book is a blueprint for survival and a demonstration of the power of love, sacrifice, and service. The son of a Kingpin and the prince of a close-knit crime family, Tony Lewis Jr.'s life took a dramatic turn after his father's arrest in 1989. Washington D.C. stood as the murder capital of the country and Lewis was cast into the heart of the struggle, from a life of stability and riches to one of chaos and poverty. How does one make it in America, battling the breakdown of families, the plague of premature death and the hopelessness of being reviled, isolated, and forgotten? Lewis' astonishing journey answers these questions and offers, for the first time, a close look at the familial residue of America's historic program of mass incarceration. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/852978711468137/.

33] – Come to the Theater-on-the-run, 3700 S. Four Mile Run Dr., Arlington, VA, on Tues., Feb. 9 at 7:30 PM for the FIRST DRAFT Reading Series which will present a brand new musical--PRAY FOR THE DEAD by Gene Bruskin with music by Gene Bruskin and Tom Smerling.  It is a musical tale of morgues, moguls and mutiny in the best of 'strike play' traditions. Think Sweeney Todd meets Norma Rae in this dark comedy about despairing morgue workers facing collective calamity. PRAY FOR THE DEAD was developed through FIRST DRAFT and will be directed by FD Artistic Associate Richard C. Washer. ENJOY FREE ADMISSION! It's a truism that organizers never really retire and Bruskin proves it. After retiring in 2012 following a 37-year career as a union organizer, he has now written a play. Visit http://www.firstdraft.org/tickets.html.

34] –   On Tues., Feb. 9 at 7:30 PM come to Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201, for The Right to the City: What it Takes to Win. In 2007 a hundred organizers met in L.A. to join forces against displacement and inequality and created the Right to the City Alliance.  Since then, while their members have suffered through a financial crisis, skyrocketing rents, and the push of gentrification they have also built a wider and stronger national movement through the Homes for All Campaign.

Hear Right to the City’s Tony Romano and Gilda Haas talk about what the Right to the City means, how we can win it, and why building this movement requires us all to embrace more creative and horizontal models and methods of organizing. The talk is co-sponsored by the Graduate Studies program at Maryland Institute College of Art. Call 443-602-7585.  Go to http://www.redemmas.org.

35] –Join an Ash Wednesday Prayer Service of Repentance at the White House on Feb. 10 from noon to 1 PM on the north side on Pennsylvania Ave. "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel." (Mk.1:15)

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time for personal and societal repentance, a time for radical conversion, renewal and transformation. Living under the brutal occupation of the Roman Empire, Jesus declared: "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel." (Mk.1:15) Living in the U.S. Empire, which is responsible for so much needless death and suffering in our world, we need to heed Jesus' proclamation now more than ever.

On Ash Wednesday people from the faith-based peace and justice community in the D.C. area will hold a prayer service in front of the White House to call for repentance and conversion of ourselves, our society and our churches to the Gospel way of justice, nonviolence and a reverence for all life and creation. Seeking to eradicate what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism, we call for an end to corporate domination and systemic exploitation and discrimination; debt forgiveness for poor countries, justice for the poor and all immigrants; an end to torture, indefinite detention and the mass incarceration complex; and for the abolition of war and the conversion of our war-based economy to one centered on serving the common good, alleviating poverty and protecting the earth. We commit ourselves to ending all forms of racial hatred and profiling, and demand accountability for those responsible for acts of violence, especially with respect to the killing of so many blacks by white police. 

During this Lent, we are also mindful of the imperative to be people of mercy, as Pope Francis has declared in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. We, therefore, call on the U.S. to embrace a spirit of mercy and repent for the violence, death and suffering that it has inflicted on other countries, most recently in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Libya. We also call on the U.S. to reject the way of revenge and retaliation as a response to conflict and to find ways to make peace with the Islamic State instead of bombing them. We call, too, on the U.S. to halt all arms sales worldwide and to demand an end to Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. And we call for the closure of the nearly 1,000 U.S. military bases worldwide, including new bases being constructed in Jeju Island and Okinawa.

As the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist has now moved the doomsday clock to three minutes to midnight, because climate change and the danger of nuclear war pose an ever-growing threat to civilization and are bringing the world closer to doomsday, we call for urgent action to be taken to end the climate crisis, safeguard the environment and abolish all nuclear weapons. We call, too, for an end to all U.S. military intervention worldwide, for an end to the U.S. militarization of space, and for the elimination of all weapons--from guns to killer drones. Ashes will be blessed and distributed. Contact Art Laffin of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker at artlaffin@hotmail.com.

36] – On Wed., Feb. 10 at 5:15 PM, Joseph Cirincione, Ploughshares Fund, will discuss "What’s Next with Iran? The Future of Its Weapons Program and of Its Relations with the West" at the World Trade Center Baltimore, 401 E. Pratt St. RSVP to the BALTIMORE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS. Members get in free of charge.  A guest of a member pays $10.  The cost for a non-member is $25.

The deal with Iran is truly historic; and questionable as to whether it will be kept, whether it will modify Iran’s foreign policy in any way, whether released funds will abet an expansionist policy pointing toward Iran becoming a regional hegemon, whether it will lead to a long-term U.S.-Iran accommodation and to the United States abandoning its present relationships in the region, and whether it may transform national relationships toward a more cooperative and peaceful order.  These and other elemental questions of politics and policies are lodged within the discussion of the Iran deal.  We are extraordinarily fortunate to be joined by a highly regarded authority who, over the past half dozen years, has been immersed in consideration of the process, policies and theoretical aspects of the extraordinary diplomatic effort.

Mr. Cirincione has served as Vice President for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress and Director for Non-Proliferation and International Security at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  He has been President of Ploughshares Fund since 2008; and teaches at the graduate school of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  Email info@bcfausa.org

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs 

Baltimore Activist Alert - February 7 - 10, 2016

22] Phone for Bernie – Feb. 7 -10
23] Israel no to peace – Feb. 8
24] Justice for Natasha McKenna – Feb. 8
25] Lobby for clean energy – Feb. 9
26] No plastic bags – Feb. 9
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22] – Bernie's starting to close the gap in the national polls after the amazing finish in Iowa. Can you attend a volunteer event for Bernie to help him win? Here are some local events. 

There is Suzanne's phone bank on Sun., Feb. 7ᵗʰ from 5 to 8 PM.  Go to https://go.berniesanders.com/page/event/detail/4227.  Enjoy herbal tea and snacks.  No shoes in the house. Two cats live here. Call and tally voter leanings for the volunteers in early primary states.  Call Suzanne at 410-464-0497.  Her address is 803 E. Lake Ave., Baltimore 21212.

There is Jacob's phone bank on Mon., Feb. 8ᵗʰ from 7 to 9 PM. Call and tally voter leanings for the volunteers in early primary states.  His address is 3108 Remington Ave., Baltimore 21211. Go to https://go.berniesanders.com/page/event/detail/4x4s.

For Bobby's Phonathon, go to https://go.berniesanders.com/page/event/detail/4rvzf. It is on Tues., Feb. 9 from 5 to 7 PM in the North Patterson Park area, 100 Rochester Place, Baltimore 21224.  Call 570-506-3007.

And finally there is another phone banking for Bernie: go to https://go.berniesanders.com/page/event/detail/4xrq.  It is happening on Wed., Feb. 10 from 7 to 10 PM on the Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus, 3300 North Charles St., Baltimore 21218.

Phone bank parties are a fun and important way to help elect Bernie. Remember, you'll need a reliable phone, and a computer or laptop. You can also use a tablet iPad with flash based browser, like Puffin or Photon, or Windows Tablet running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.

23] – Come to the Abramson Family Founders Room, SIS Building, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, WDC, on Mon., Feb. 8 from 11 AM to noon for a discussion of the Palestine/Israel issue.  It is one of the most intractable conflicts in history; failures of peace have been attributed to culture, religion, and nationalism. While these factors are rooted in its history, modern-day dynamics continue to impede the peace agreement. Palestinian Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat will provide insight into the successes and failures of peace negotiations with Israel to explore these issues. The discussion will be approached from a Palestinian perspective and will address the role of the U.S. in addition to restrictions placed on the Palestinian Liberation Organization Delegation to the U.S. Email Society for Peace and Conflict Resolution at spcr@american.edu.  Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/452348454973613/.

24] – Go to the Adult Detention Center, 10520 Judicial Dr., Fairfax, VA on Mon., Feb. 8 at noon to demand justice for Natasha McKenna, who died Feb. 8, 2015 in a Fairfax hospital days after being repeatedly tased while unclothed and restrained by sheriff's deputies at Fairfax Adult Detention Facility. Over the summer, Fairfax County police investigations concluded finding no fault with the six officers directly involved. To date, no officers have been charged or fired for Natasha's death and local government agencies and coalitions continue to call her death an "accident," refusing to #SayHerName instead calling what happened to Natasha "the incident at the ADC."  Demonstrate outside on Monday, February 8. We will be demonstrating for about an hour, with signs calling attention to the lack of justice and reminding our community about Natasha McKenna.

    In the evening, All Saints Episcopal Church Sharon Chapel, 3421 Franconia Rd., Alexandria, is hosting a vigil for justice for Natasha at 7 PM. The church is about a mile from Huntington Metro.  Email SURJnova@gmail.com with your name and cell number if you can give a ride or need a ride.

25] – Come to the Senate Building, Room 1, 11 Bladen St., Annapolis 21401, on Mon., Feb. 8 from 5 to 7:30 PM and join Chesapeake Climate Action Network for its first regional lobby night bringing together Marylanders from across the state. Converge on Annapolis to let you legislators know that THIS is the year to stand up for wind, solar, and good green jobs -- and pass the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Acts.  The event will include training and information sessions before meeting with delegates and legislators so that lobbyists are prepared.  Go to http://org.salsalabs.com/o/423/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=85235.

26] – Last fall, The Story of Stuff Project teamed up with Trash Free Maryland to study plastic pollution in Chesapeake Bay. Trash Free Maryland, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, and Blue Water Baltimore are looking to pass a state law to prevent plastic bag pollution. Plastic bags, though recyclable, are hardly ever recycled. That's because the market for recycled content is way underwater. And as result, plastic bags litter our waters, our streams, and are caught in trees. The price of convenience isn't sustainable and it's not worth destroying our watersheds. Come to a Mardi Gras Rally to kick off a Lenten fast from Plastic Bags and show the Maryland General Assembly our support for the Bag Ban this legislative session on Tues., Feb. 9 from 9 to 11 AM in Lawyers Mall, 101 College Ave., Annapolis 21401. Go to https://act.myngp.com/forms/6955229751223060480?midqs=-3662833871935766528.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs 

Judge rules FBI unlawfully refused to comply with information act requests

Judge rules FBI unlawfully refused to comply with information act requests

Court finds FBI policy is ‘at odds’ with the Foia statute in ruling in favor of plaintiffs who contend government was trying to shield itself from scrutiny 


 The main argument the FBI made was that the documents detail law enforcement techniques and procedures that are not generally known to the public. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sam Thielman in New York

Saturday 30 January 2016 08.49 ESTLast modified on Tuesday 2 February 201615.35 EST

   The FBI unlawfully and systematically obscured and refused to answer legitimate requests for information about how well it was complying with the Freedom of Information Act (Foia), a Washington DC court found last week.

    US district judge Randolph D Moss ruled in favor of Massachusetts Institute of Technology PhD student Ryan Shapiro, finding that the government was flouting Foia, a law intended to guarantee the public access to government records unless they fall into a protected category. Moss found that the FBI’s present policy is “fundamentally at odds with the statute”.

   Shapiro has, with his attorney Jeffrey Light, provided documents obtained using Foia requests in the past.

   The bureau shot down requests for information so regularly and thoroughly – sometimes saying that records were unavailable, sometimes that they didn’t exist, sometimes that it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of records – that Shapiro and his co-plaintiffs asked for more information about the process by which they had been so often refused.

   And those requests for clarifying information were categorically denied on the grounds that any information about the FBI’s reasons for denying previous Foia requests were by their very nature secret.

    Shapiro and his fellow plaintiffs contended that the government often acts in bad faith and was trying to shield itself from scrutiny as broadly as possible. In doing so, they said, it had stretched the law to breaking point by including harmless documents in the broad categories of material it refuses to hand over or discuss.

    “As the plaintiffs correctly observe, dissatisfied Foia requesters are often required to take the government at its word in Foia litigation, where the government has access to the disputed records and knowledge of how a search and response was conducted,” wrote Moss in a 63-page opinion.

   There are at least three categories of records the FBI simply refuses to part with:
  • “Search slips,” which document the efforts of analysts to find files requested.
  •  Case evaluations of the analysts supposedly looking for the records in question, which could detail whether an individual analyst has a history of errors or overapplication of the nine Foia exemptions.
  • Case processing notes, which provide further detail of individual searches.
“The FBI does nearly everything within its power to avoid compliance with the Freedom of Information Act,” Shapiro said. “This results in the outrageous state of affairs in which the leading federal law enforcement agency in the country is in routine and often flagrant violation of federal law.”

   The main argument the FBI made was that the documents detail law enforcement techniques and procedures that are not generally known to the public – an established exemption from Foia. The plaintiffs provided examples of each kind of document obtained by Foia before the FBI adopted its policy of nondisclosure.

  Moss agreed that even if individual documents were protected by that Foia exemption, the entire categories of document the FBI withholds were emphatically not. “[The FBI] concedes that the vast majority of [the records in question] are not protected at all,” he wrote. “It is only arguing that by withholding all search slips, even those not protected by Foia, it can amass a haystack in which to hide the search slips that are protected (emphasis his).”
“The FBI’s exercise of its statutory authority to exclude documents from Foia’s reach is not the kind of ‘technique’ or ‘procedure’” to which the necessary exemption refers, wrote Moss. 

   Shapiro and Light sued alongside Jeffrey Stein and nonprofit group Truthout, who were represented by Kel McClanahan of co-litigant group National Security Counselors.

   There is little love lost between Shapiro and the government. Shapiro boasts theunusual distinction among graduate students of having his dissertation work challenged in court on the creative grounds that it constitutes a dangerous “mosaic” of individually legal parts that, were it released, could “significantly and irreparably damage national security”, in the words of the FBI.
It’s an argument that Shapiro finds interesting and would very much like to hear in detail, but he can’t. “We can’t even read most of the FBI’s argument to support this contention, because the FBI submitted it in the form of an ex parte, in cameradeclaration,” Shapiro said. “This is essentially a secret letter to the judge from the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s counter-terrorism division.”

   Shapiro may be the single most prolific Foia requester in the history of that law, so when he says the FBI is particularly difficult to work with, it’s because he has worked with many government agencies. “While Foia with some agencies can be akin to a protracted business meeting or an attempt to get telephone customer support from a telecom over a holiday weekend,” he said. “Foia with the FBI is a street fight.”

  “The US attorney’s office is reviewing the ruling and has no further comment on this matter,” Justice Department spokesman Bill Miller said. Miller did not say whether the DoJ would appeal the ruling.

© 2016 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Convicted of Murder - Including 5 on Death Row - Were Exonerated Last Year


Floyd Bledsoe, left, was exonerated last year after spending more than 15 years in prison on a murder charge. (photo: Chris Neal/Topeka Capital-Journal/AP)
Floyd Bledsoe, left, was exonerated last year after spending more than 15 years in prison on a murder charge. (photo: Chris Neal/Topeka Capital-Journal/AP)

Convicted of Murder - Including 5 on Death Row - Were Exonerated Last Year

By Mark Berman, The Washington Post
03 February 16

    There were 149 people exonerated in the United States last year after being wrongly convicted of crimes, a tally that included dozens convicted of murder and an uptick in people who had pleaded guilty or falsely confessed, according to a new report.

   More than a third of the people exonerated were convicted of murder, says a report released Wednesday by the National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Northwestern University School of Law. A copy of this report was reviewed by The Post before publication.

    All of the people exonerated last year were exonerated in more than half of the states in the country and, before being cleared, had served an average of more than 14 years in prison. Five of the people who were exonerated had been sentenced to death.

  The number of people exonerated in 2015 broke a record the organization announced earlier, when it reported that 125 people were exonerated of crimes.

    All told, the National Registry says it has logged 1,733 exonerations in the country since 1989. While exonerations involving DNA may grab more attention, they accounted for a little less than a fifth of last year’s exonerations and about a quarter of all the exonerations the registry has logged.

    The growing frequency with which people have been exonerated of crimes comes amid a push to reform the country’s criminal justice system, an effort that spans political parties and follows years of harsh sentencing and explosive growth in the country’s incarcerated populations. It also means that each exoneration is less of a news event, the authors of the report noted.

    “Not long ago, any exoneration we heard about was major news,” the report stated. “Now it’s a familiar story. We average nearly three exonerations a week, and most get little attention.”

  The report attributes this surge, in part, to more prosecutors working to revisit convictions. (In one noteworthy case from 2014, a Texas man was exonerated through testing he didn’t realize was taking place.) In addition, the report says there are also more exonerations in cases involving false confessions or guilty pleas than there used to be.

  In four of 10 exonerations last year, the people had pleaded guilty, largely in cases involving charges of drug possession. About a third of all exonerations last year involved these drug possession cases.

    A remarkable number of these cases occurred in just one place: Harris County, Tex., home to Houston. More than a quarter of all exonerations last year involved people in Harris County who had pleaded guilty to drug possession, only to be cleared last year.

   The registry’s report described how the Harris County District Attorney’s office had investigated cases after noticing a number of people who pleaded guilty to possessing illegal drugs, only for a crime lab — sometimes months or years later — to reveal that the materials these people had were not drugs after all. Some of the people who wound up pleading guilty likely agreed to plea bargains to avoid long prison terms, the report noted. (Quite a few things can get mistaken for drugs, it turns out.)

   In some cases last year, former inmates who had been exonerated before last year received compensation in 2015. Ricky Jackson, who spent nearly four decades behind bars in Ohio, was awarded more than $1 million by a judge. Two half-brothers in North Carolina had been released in 2014, but they could only be compensated last year after Gov. Pat McCroy (R) completed a lengthy review process and formally pardoned them.

C 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Assange Hails 'Significant Victory' After UN Rules He Has Been Arbitrarily Detained


Friday, February 05, 2016
Assange Hails 'Significant Victory' After UN Rules He Has Been Arbitrarily Detained
WikiLeaks founder has been living under asylum in Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than three years, fearing extradition to U.S.


http://www.commondreams.org/sites/default/files/styles/cd_large/public/headlines/assange.png?itok=jFSp9X9a
Assange appeared at a press conference to respond to the UN's ruling. (Screenshot)

A United Nations working group on Friday declared that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained for more than three years and should be freed and compensated, in a decision the Australian journalist called a "really significant victory."

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued its nonbinding opinion on Friday, a day after reports began circulating that the panel was likely to rule in Assange's favor.

"[T]he Working Group recognized that Mr. Assange is entitled to his freedom of movement and to compensation," the decision reads. It continues:

Having concluded that there was a continuous deprivation of liberty, the Working Group also found that the detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr. Assange.

     Assange, who has been living under asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, where he sought refuge after publishing thousands of classified U.S. military and State Department documents, urged authorities to abide by the decision and lift warrants calling for his arrest. He is wanted in Sweden on sexual assault allegations, but has said he fears being extradited to the U.S., where he may face charges over the leaked documents.

  "I miss my family," Assange told reporters on Friday. "We have today a really significant victory that has brought a smile to my face."

   "It’s now the task of Sweden and Britain to implement the verdict," he said.

   But as of Friday, that seemed unlikely. The Swedish Foreign Ministry disagreed with the verdict, saying Assange was "free to leave the embassy at any point. Thus, he is not being deprived of his liberty there due to any decision or action taken by the Swedish authorities."

   The UK Foreign Office made similar comments. "This changes nothing. We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention," the department said, adding that it would "formally contest" the working group's opinion.

   On Twitter, whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that this kind of response "writes a pass for every dictatorship to reject UN rulings. Dangerous precedent for UK/Sweden to set."

   Melinda Taylor, who brought Assange's case to the UN, called the decision "a damning indictment of the manner in which this case has been handled [and] affirms that Mr. Assange is a victim of a significant miscarriage of justice."

She added, "Now finally with today's decision, there's light at the end of the tunnel."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert February 6 – 8, 2016


"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours.
The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center.  Go to www.baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com.  If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.  Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski [at] verizon.net.

1] Books, buttons and stickers
2] Web site for info on federal legislation
3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists  
4] Buy coffee through HoCoFoLa
5] Two friends are looking to buy a house in Baltimore
6] West Chester peace vigil – Feb. 6
7] Take a D.C. Art Walk – Feb. 6
8] State of the Union – Feb. 6
9] Public housing – Feb. 6
10] Racism thrives – Feb. 6
11] "I Shall Not Hate" – Feb. 6
12] Film HANDS UP – Feb. 6
13] Mother Earth Poetry Vibe – Feb. 6
14] ‘Chili Bowl Sunday’ – Feb. 7
15] Equal Justice? – Feb. 7
16] A playdate – Feb. 7
17] Judaism and Human Rights – Feb. 7
18] Biography of Lola Ridge – Feb. 7
19] Pentagon Vigil – Feb. 8
20] Marc Steiner on WEAA – Feb. 8 – Feb. 12
21] Citizen activists appear in court in D.C. – Feb. 8
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1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available.  “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Call Max at 410-323-1607.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/.  Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].  It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed.  It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq.

To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to mobuszewski at Verizon.net.  Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.  

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe.  It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing.  To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to ncnrnotices-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. You will get a confirmation message once subscribed.  If you have problems, please write to the list manager at ncnrnotices-admin@lists.riseup.net.

4] – You can help safeguard human rights and fragile ecosystems through your purchase of HOCOFOLA Café Quetzal. Bags of ground coffee or whole beans can be ordered by mailing in an order form. Also note organic cocoa and sugar are for sale.  For more details and to download the order form, go to http://friendsoflatinamerica.typepad.com/hocofola/2010/02/hocofola-cafe-quetzal-order-form-2010.html. The coffee comes in one-pound bags.

Fill out the form and mail it with a check made out to HOCOFOLA on or before the second week of the month.  Be sure you indicate ground or beans for each type of coffee ordered.  Send it to Francine Sheppard at 5639B, Harpers Farm Rd., Columbia 21044. The coffee will arrive some time the following week and you will be notified where to pick it up. Contact Francine at 410-992-7679 or FrancineMSW@aol.com.

5] – Janice and Max are looking to buy a house in Baltimore.  Let Max know if you have any leads—410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.

6] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to www.ccpeace.org. Email ccpeacemovement@aol.com

7] – Come to the Hirschhorn Museum Sculpture Garden (SE corner), 700 Independence Ave. SW, WDC, on Sat., Feb. 6 from 1 to 2:30 PM for an exhibit curated and coordinated by Carissa Carman, Natalie Campbell and Mat Rappaport.  Media Lounge Saturday Programming extends beyond the conference walls and invites participants to work and walk, learn and feel. These collaborative explorations prompt new relations, open the door for kinship and expand professional camaraderie. DC Live is the first in a planned series of artist walks at CAA conference cities. This year, walks engage with the complex context of Washington, DC as a site for interacting with political history and policy.

   Walk and learn from voices engaged in the struggle for statehood about an issue significant for anyone interested in the project of democracy. Whose experience of an issue is most authentic, holds authority? Who is outside and who is in – who speaks for whom?  Walk guides representing national, civic, and local perspectives on the struggle for DC statehood will explore this issue in a 3-part walk. Project partners leading the walk include DC Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown and Anise Jenkins, Executive Director, Stand Up! for Democracy in DC (Free DC). Starting at Yoko Ono’s participatory work Wish Tree for Washington DC at the Hirschhorn Museum, strike out across the National Mall, in view of the U.S. Capitol, site of power exercised over DC’s governance for 2+ centuries. Hearing from voices engaged with DC statehood for and against, our walk will include spots on what would be the federal District boundary should New Columbia become a state; the John A. Wilson Building, locus of the DC municipal struggle for autonomy; and Freedom Plaza, where DC citizenry has gathered many times in resistance and protest for causes of justice.

8] – Enjoy a discussion on “The State of the Union” following a performance of “Sweat” at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW, WDC, on Sat., Feb. 6 at 2 PM.  AFL-CIO Deputy Chief of Staff Thea Lee and Washington Teachers Union Local 6 president Elizabeth Davis will lead a conversation about the current issues facing America’s unions. The discussion – which starts at 4:30 PM -- is free and open to the public; union members can save 20% on tickets to "Sweat" by calling Carmen Samuel at 202-488-4380. Visit http://tickets.arenastage.org/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=20668.

9] – Go the Ambassador Baptist Church, 1412 Minnesota Ave. SE, WDC, on Sat., Feb. 6 from 2 to 4 PM and join Empower DC for an update on the growing movement to save DC public housing. The meeting will be focusing on how to win money for repairing public housing in the DC budget for 2017, as well as sharing updates on Barry Farm. This is a great follow up to the Annual Meeting and a chance for people to plug into the work ahead.  RSVP to Parisa at parisa@empowerdc.org.

10] – Racism thrives on silence. How can we have productive, honest conversations with our children and students about race so that the next generation is prepared to recognize and challenge racism? Join Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Northern Virginia for a panel discussion on how to talk to children about race at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, 2709 Hunter Mill Rd., Oakton, VA on Sat., Feb. 6 from 3:30 to 5:30 PM. Parents, teachers, and anyone else who wants to be able to engage kids in these conversations is welcome to attend.  Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/talking-to-kids-about-race-tickets-20437065814.

11] – "I Shall Not Hate" Benefit and Panel Discussion for New Story Leadership is happening at the Atlas Theater,1333 H St. NE, WDC on Sat., Feb. 6 from 6:45 to 10:15 PM.  The Benefit Performance includes a reception before the performance where you will have the chance to meet the NSL community and special guests. Following the performance will be a special panel discussion featuring the creative minds behind the performance, New Story Leadership alumni, and members of the Mosaic Theatre! Go to https://newstoryleadership.givezooks.com/events/i-shall-not-hate.  Email Info@NewStoryLeadership.org.

12] –   Come to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, 10309 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring on Sat., Feb. 6 from 7 to 9 PM as the UUCSS Racial Justice Task Force is excited to present the original documentary “Hands Up” which captures the spirit of the #BlackLivesMatter movement as it transcends state boundaries and touches the hearts of millions of Americans.  The film documents the stories of clergy and activists who are igniting a passion for justice and peace. Local filmmaker Zinhle Essamuah will participate in a discussion of the film afterwards.  Go to https://uucss.givezooks.com/events/hands-up-documentary-screening.

13] –   On Sat., Feb. 6 at 7:30 PM come to Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201, for the Mother Earth Poetry Vibe.  A convergence of factors, ranging from the observance of Black History Month to the challenging history being made all around us—and that we are a part of—call us once again to poetry/spoken word!  Come together in an open mic of justice, conscious thought, spirituality, real life—whatever advances the village!  In the tradition of Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth magazine, come drop some progressive “fiyah” or contribute just with your presence and energy!  By the way: it’s a non-erotic poetry, non-“love jones” type of venue.  Leave the misogyny, homophobia and other unnecessary ish outside!) Go to www.facebook.com/analysisthepoet. Call 443-602-7585.  Go to http://www.redemmas.org.

14] – Gather at the corner of East Centre St. and Fallsway, Baltimore on Sun., Feb. 7 from 10 AM to 1 PM for Muslimat Al-Nisaa’s annual ‘Chili Bowl Sunday’ to serve hot bowls of chili to those homeless on the streets and also pass out cold weather clothing and toiletries to those in need. Being mindful THAT OUR HOMELESS HAVE NO SPECIFIC ADDRESS, we meet at a site easily accessible to those whom are homeless near the Fallsway Ave. bridge underpass. Sign up to bring a pot of chili or to volunteer to serve.  Contact Ammar Hanif, Associate Director of Community Outreach, at (443) 612-5224. Go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/chili-bowl-sunday-a-day-to-feed-clothe-our-homeless-neighbors-tickets-21067112300?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&utm-source=cp&utm-term=listing.

15] – Usually, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 306 W. Franklin St., Suite 102, Baltimore 21201-4661, meets on Sundays, and generally there is a speaker and discussion from 10:30 AM to noon. On Feb. 7, the topic is “Equal Justice Discussion: Fixing a Broken System.” Todd Oppenheim, public defender, will lead a discussion on the many problems with the justice system along with possible solutions. He will cover the bail system, rulings on issues of stops and seizures of citizens by the police, and the proliferation of the war on drugs within our courts. The focus of the talk will be on an insider’s perspective of everyday occurrences in the courts that often get lost with general public. 

Todd Oppenheim became a criminal defense attorney in 2013 at the Office of the Public Defender (OPD). Ever since, he has been a diligent, outspoken, and effective advocate for the indigent people of Baltimore. As a public defender, he has fought hard to defend his clients in a system that is stacked against them. Call 410-581-2322 or email ask@bmorethical.org.

16] – Go to the Petworth Library, 4200 Kansas Ave, NW, WDC, on Sun., Feb. 7 from 1:30 to 3:30 PM and join families in the community, MomsRising.org, and Jews United for Justice for a FREE, fun and powerful playdate with arts & crafts, face painting, snacks, games, and a chance to raise voices of all ages for paid family leave in DC! It's heartbreaking and ridiculous: Far too many people who work and live in DC can't earn a single day of paid family or medical leave. This means workers can't take the time to give the care ones loved ones need after the birth, fostering, or adoption of a new baby or child, or when a family member is aging or has a serious illness. And even if your family is just you right now, so many wouldn't be able to recover from serious illnesses without putting your finances in danger. See https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1gkjQ11pHk7x-oMteLaVrE_DcNtwSrxejadB7iMi7piM/viewform?edit_requested=true.

17] – Rabbi Charles M. Feinberg, executive director, Interfaith Action for Human Rights, will address Judaism and Human Rights on Sun., Feb. 7 at 3 PM at the Meeting House, 5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia.  Rabbi Feinberg will share a few Jewish texts as a basis for defending the dignity of every human being.  He will speak about Prison Reform Issues, especially the abuse of solitary confinement in Maryland Prisons. He will bring a returning citizen who can give first hand testimony about the deleterious effects of solitary.  Rabbi Feinberg will also share IAHR's work on combating hate directed toward the American Muslim community.  Confirm your attendance with Robin at 410-730-6044 or robin@columbiajewish.org.

18] – On Sun., Feb. 7 at 7:30 PM come to Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201, as Terese Svoboda presents "Anything That Burns You," the first full-length biography of Lola Ridge, a trailblazer for women, poetry, and human rights far ahead of her time. The author takes the reader on a fascinating journey from Ridge's childhood as an Irish immigrant in the mining towns of New Zealand to her years as a budding poet and artist in Sydney, Australia, and then to San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. By the 1920s, she was at the center of Modernism, and good friends with William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore, while promoting the careers of Hart Crane and Jean Toomer and editing Others and Broom, in addition to writing brilliant socially incisive poems. Considered one of the most popular poets of her day, Ridge later fell out of critical favor due to her impassioned verse that looked at the major social woes of society, infused with a radical belief in freedom gleaned from her mentors Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger. Certain to revive the legacy of a singular artistic figure–– as unforgettable as Virginia Woolf or Frida Kahlo–– this lively portrait gives a who's who of all the key players in the arts, literature, and radical politics of the time, in which Lola Ridge stood front and center. Call 443-602-7585.  Go to http://www.redemmas.org.

19] -- There is a weekly Pentagon Peace Vigil from 7 to 8 AM on Mondays, since 1987, outside the Pentagon Metro stop.  The next vigil is Mon., Feb. 8, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  Email artlaffin@hotmail.com or call 202-882-9649.  The vigil will be outside the Pentagon's south Metro entrance and in the designated "protest zone" behind bicycle fences across from the entrance to the Metro.  By Metro, take Yellow Line and get out at the "Pentagon" stop. Do not go to the Pentagon City stop! Go up south escalators and turn left and walk across to protest area. By car from D.C. area, take 395 South and get off at Exit 8A-Pentagon South Parking. Take slight right onto S. Rotary Rd. at end of ramp and right on S. Fern St. Then take left onto Army Navy Dr. You can "pay to park" on Army Navy Dr.,  and there is meter parking one block on right on Eads St. Payment for both of these spots begin at 8 AM.  No cameras are allowed on Pentagon grounds. Restrooms are located inside Marriott Residence Inn on corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Dr. 

20] – The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday through Friday fr6m 10 AM to noon on WEAA 88.9 FM, The Voice of the Community, or online at www.weaa.org.   The call-in number is 410-319-8888, and comments can also be sent by email to steinershow@gmail.com. All shows are also available as podcasts at www.steinershow.org.

21] –  On Mon., Feb. 8 at 10 AM in Room 220 of the D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave. NW, lawyer Mark Goldstone, and members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance Eve Tetaz, Malachy Kilbride and Max Obuszewski will appear before Judge Wendell Gardner, Jr.  We along with ten others were arrested on January 12 at the U. S. Capitol urging President Obama to give a Real State of the union.  We three and six other defendants are facing two charges – trespass and failure to obey.  The government inexplicably dropped the charges against four of the citizen activists.

This hearing will be held to discuss several legal issues, including the stay-away orders from the Capitol imposed by the arraignment judge.  Presumably a date for a motions hearing will be determined and possibly a trial date.  Most important, however, will be the judge’s decision on how to arraign the other six defendants. Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski@verizon.net.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs