Court and Judicial Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Court and Judicial Corruption News Articles in Media
In the five decades since Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead by an assassin at age 39, his children have worked tirelessly to preserve his legacy. They are unanimous on one key point: James Earl Ray did not kill Martin Luther King. For the King family and others in the civil rights movement, the FBI’s obsession with King in the years leading up to his slaying in Memphis on April 4, 1968 - pervasive surveillance, a malicious disinformation campaign and open denunciations by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover - laid the groundwork for their belief that he was the target of a plot. Until her own death in 2006, Coretta Scott King, who endured the FBI’s campaign to discredit her husband, was open in her belief that a conspiracy led to the assassination. Her family filed a civil suit in 1999 ... and a Memphis jury ruled that the local, state and federal governments were liable for King’s death. “There is abundant evidence,” Coretta King said after the verdict, “of a major, high-level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband.” The jury found the mafia and various government agencies “were deeply involved in the assassination. Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame.” But nothing changed afterward. William Pepper, a New York lawyer and civil rights activist who knew and worked with King ... became convinced of Ray’s innocence and continued to investigate the case even after Ray died. Pepper wrote three books outlining the conspiracy, most recently “The Plot to Kill King” in 2016, which were largely ignored by the media.
Note: Watch an excellent, six-minute clip from Canada's PBS giving powerful evidence based on the excellent work of William Pepper that King was assassinated by factions in government that wanted his movement stopped. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
There are many reasons for women to think twice about reporting sexual assault. But one potential consequence looms especially large: They may also be prosecuted. This month, a retired police lieutenant in Memphis, Tenn., Cody Wilkerson, testified, as part of a lawsuit against the city, not only that police detectives sometimes neglected to investigate cases of sexual assault but also that he overheard the head of investigative services in the city’s police department say, on his first day in charge: “The first thing we need to do is start locking up more victims for false reporting.” It’s an alarming choice of priorities. In 2015 we wrote an article ... about Marie, an 18-year-old who reported being raped. Instead of interviewing her as a victim, [detectives] interrogated her as a suspect. Under pressure, Marie eventually recanted - and was charged with false reporting, punishable by up to a year in jail. More than two years later, the police in Colorado arrested a serial rapist - and discovered a photograph proving he had raped Marie. Cases like hers can be found around the country. In 1997, a legally blind woman reported being raped at knife point in Madison, Wis. That same year, a pregnant 16-year-old reported being raped in New York City. In 2004, a 19-year-old reported being sexually assaulted at gunpoint in Cranberry Township, Pa. In all three instances, the women were charged with lying. In all three instances, their reports turned out to be true. The men who raped them were later identified and convicted.
In the summer of 2012, a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate released a report. [After] looking into the London-based banking group HSBC, [investigators] discovered that ... the bank had laundered billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels, and violated sanctions. No criminal charges were filed, and no executives or employees were prosecuted. Instead, HSBC pledged to clean up its institutional culture, and to pay a fine of nearly two billion dollars: the equivalent of four weeks’ profit for the bank. In the years since the mortgage crisis of 2008 ... corporate executives have essentially been granted immunity. As recently as 2006, when Enron imploded, such titans as Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay were convicted of conspiracy and fraud. Something has changed in the past decade, however, and federal prosecutions of white-collar crime are now at a twenty-year low. As Jesse Eisinger, a reporter for ProPublica, explains in a new book ... a financial crisis has traditionally been followed by a legal crackdown, because a market contraction reveals all the wishful accounting and outright fraud that were hidden when the going was good. After the mortgage crisis, people in Washington and on Wall Street expected prosecutions. Eisinger reels off a list of potential candidates for criminal charges: Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Lehman Brothers, Citigroup, A.I.G., Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley. Although fines were paid ... there were no indictments, no trials, no jail time.
On Page 5 of a credit card contract used by American Express ... is a clause that most customers probably miss. If cardholders have a problem with their account, American Express explains, the company “may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.” Those nine words are at the center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations. By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices. It has become increasingly difficult to apply for a credit card, use a cellphone, get cable or Internet service, or shop online without agreeing to private arbitration. The same applies to getting a job, renting a car or placing a relative in a nursing home. By banning class actions, companies have essentially disabled consumer challenges to ... predatory lending, wage theft and discrimination. “This is among the most profound shifts in our legal history,” William G. Young, a federal judge ... said in an interview. “Ominously, business has a good chance of opting out of the legal system altogether and misbehaving without reproach.” Thousands of cases brought by single plaintiffs over fraud, wrongful death and rape are now being decided behind closed doors. And the rules of arbitration largely favor companies.
A system intended to speed help to vaccine-injured Americans has instead heaped additional suffering on thousands of families. To investigate vaccine court in depth, the AP read hundreds of decisions, conducted more than 100 interviews, and analyzed a database of more than 14,500 cases. Among the AP's findings: * Prominent attorneys have enlisted expert witnesses whose own work has been widely discredited, including one who treated autism with a potent drug used to chemically castrate serial rapists. Some of the most prominent experts set up nonprofits questioning vaccine safety. Many doctors hired by the government to defend vaccine safety in court have ties to the pharmaceutical industry. * The government fights legitimate claims ... worried that if they concede a vaccine caused harm, the public will react by skipping shots. If government doctors had their way ... 1,600 families would not have gotten more than $1.1 billion in cash and future medical care between the court's opening in 1988 and then end of 2012. * Cases are supposed to be resolved within 240 days. Less than 7 percent of 7,876 claims not involving autism met the 240-day target. Most non-autism cases take at least two and a half years. Hundreds have surpassed the decade mark. Several people died before getting any money. "The system is not working," said Richard Topping, a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney who handled vaccine injury claims but resigned after concluding his bosses had no desire to fix the major flaws he saw.
Note: Read the entire article to see how the vaccine court is deeply flawed in may ways. Then read an article showing how the government removed data from it's website which showed an increase in court victories by those claiming harm from vaccines. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine news articles from reliable major media sources. See also the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
The US is the world's largest prison state, imprisoning more of its citizens than any nation on earth, both in absolute numbers and proportionally. It imprisons people for longer periods of time, more mercilessly, and for more trivial transgressions than any nation in the west. This sprawling penal state has been constructed over decades, by both political parties, and it punishes the poor and racial minorities at overwhelmingly disproportionate rates. But not everyone is subjected to that system of penal harshness. It all changes radically when the nation's most powerful actors are caught breaking the law. With few exceptions, they are gifted not merely with leniency, but full-scale immunity from criminal punishment. Thus have the most egregious crimes of the last decade been fully shielded from prosecution when committed by those with the greatest political and economic power: the construction of a worldwide torture regime, spying on Americans' communications without the warrants required by criminal law by government agencies and the telecom industry, an aggressive war launched on false pretenses, and massive, systemic financial fraud in the banking and credit industry that triggered the 2008 financial crisis. This two-tiered justice system was the subject of [the] book, With Liberty and Justice for Some. On Tuesday, not only did the US Justice Department announce that HSBC would not be criminally prosecuted, but outright claimed that the reason is that they are too important, too instrumental to subject them to such disruptions.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
The Supreme Court on [February 22] shielded the nation's vaccine makers from being sued by parents who say their children suffered severe side effects from the drugs. By a 6-2 vote, the court upheld a federal law that offers compensation to these victims but closes the courthouse door to lawsuits. Justice Antonin Scalia said the high court majority agreed with Congress that these side effects were "unavoidable" when a vaccine is given to millions of children. If the drug makers could be sued and forced to pay huge claims for devastating injuries, the vaccine industry could be wiped out, he said. The American Academy of Pediatrics applauded the decision. The ruling was a defeat for the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz, who as a child was given a standard vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. She later suffered a series of seizures and delayed development. Her parents sought compensation for her injuries, but their claim was turned down. They then sued the drug maker in a Pennsylvania court, contending that the vaccine was defectively designed. A judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled they were barred from suing, and the Supreme Court affirmed that judgment.
Note: For powerful evidence that childhood vaccines are much less effective than is generally believed, click here.
Five robed radicals on the Supreme Court have pushed money-infused politics in the wrong direction by overturning a century's worth of campaign spending laws. Voters should prepare for the worst: cash-drenched elections presided over by free-spending corporations. The 5-to-4 ... majority's thinking is based on absolutist vision of free speech and belief that corporations and unions have the same constitutional protections as individuals when it comes to basic rights. This viewpoint is "a rejection of the common sense of the American people," said Justice John Paul Stevens, who read his angry dissent out loud. Corporations "are not themselves members of 'We the People,' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established." It's hard to overstate the legal sweep of the decision. It rejects two recent court rulings, one that barred corporations and unions from dipping into their treasuries to pay for candidate ads and the second that restricted these so-called independent expenditure efforts. The five-member majority didn't just blaze new ground; it torched the court's own past record. In practical terms, the decision amounts to a political earthquake. Big-money issues such as health care, cap-and-trade pollution controls and Wall Street regulations will drive attack ads against politicians who refuse to do the bidding of particular special interests.
Note: To join the over 40,000 who have already signed a petition to stop corporations from have legal personhood status in elections, click here. For more deep insights into the flaws in the US electoral system, click here. To read about the wonderful defender of elections free from corporate influence, Granny D, who recently passed away at the age of 100, click here.
A federal appeals court yesterday backed the president's power to indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil without any criminal charges, holding that such authority is vital during wartime to protect the nation from terrorist attacks. The ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, came in the case of Jose Padilla, a former gang member and U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago in 2002 and a month later designated an "enemy combatant" by President Bush. Padilla has been held without trial in a U.S. naval brig for more than three years, and his case has ignited a fierce battle over the balance between civil liberties and the government's power to fight terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A host of civil liberties groups and former attorney general Janet Reno weighed in on Padilla's behalf, calling his detention illegal and arguing that the president does not have unchecked power to lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely. In its ruling yesterday, the three-judge panel overturned a lower court. Avidan Cover, a senior associate at Human Rights First, said the ruling "really flies in the face of our understanding of what rights American citizens are entitled to." Opponents have warned that if not constrained by the courts, Padilla's detention could lead to the military being allowed to hold anyone who, for example, checks out what the government considers the wrong kind of reading materials from the library.
Note: For many disturbing reports from major media sources on government threats to civil liberties, click here.
A man whose bid to become a police officer was rejected after he scored too high on an intelligence test has lost an appeal in his federal lawsuit against the city. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s decision that the city did not discriminate against Robert Jordan because the same standards were applied to everyone who took the test. “This kind of puts an official face on discrimination in America against people of a certain class,” Jordan said today from his Waterford home. “I maintain you have no more control over your basic intelligence than your eye color or your gender or anything else.” Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, took the exam in 1996 and scored 33 points, the equivalent of an IQ of 125. But New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training. The average score nationally for police officers is 21 to 22, the equivalent of an IQ of 104, or just a little above average. Jordan alleged his rejection from the police force was discrimination. He sued the city, saying his civil rights were violated because he was denied equal protection under the law. But the U.S. District Court found that New London had “shown a rational basis for the policy.” In a ruling dated Aug. 23, the 2nd Circuit agreed. The court said the policy might be unwise but was a rational way to reduce job turnover. Jordan has worked as a prison guard since he took the test.
Crystal Mason, the woman who became the poster child for voter suppression when she was sentenced to five years for casting a ballot in Texas, has gone into federal prison. Mason’s crime was to cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election. An African American woman, she had been encouraged by her mother to do her civic duty and vote. When she turned up to the polling station her name was not on the register, so she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted. She did not read the small print of the form that said that anyone who has been convicted of a felony – as she had, having previously been convicted of tax fraud – was prohibited from voting under Texas law. For casting a vote that was not counted, she will now serve 10 months in the federal system. While locked up it is likely that her final appeals in state court will be exhausted, which means she could be passed at the end of the 10 months directly to state custody for a further five years. Her lawyer, Alison Grinter, said she was dismayed to see Mason ripped from her family. “This is an act of voter intimidation, not the will of a free people.” Grinter added: Texas ... has one of the most strict voter ID laws in the country. Fort Worth ... has been particularly hardline, not only prosecuting Mason but also going after a Hispanic woman, Rosa Ortega, for mistakenly voting as a non-US citizen. Ortega, 37, who had permanent resident status in the US having come to the country as an infant, was sentenced to eight years in prison to be followed by deportation.
The Justice Department was caught in another high-profile travesty last month. On Dec. 20, federal judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in the case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and others after prosecutors were caught withholding massive amounts of evidence undermining federal charges. Bundy, a 71-year old Nevadan rancher, and his sons and supporters were involved in an armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ... stemming from decades of unpaid cattle grazing fees and restrictions. The Bundys have long claimed the feds were on a vendetta against them, and 3,300 pages of documents the Justice Department wrongfully concealed from their lawyers provides smoking guns that buttress their case. A whistleblowing memo by BLM chief investigator Larry Wooten charges that BLM chose "the most intrusive, oppressive, large scale and militaristic trespass cattle (seizure) possible" against Bundy. The feds charged the Bundys with conspiracy in large part because the ranchers summoned militia to defend them after they claimed that FBI snipers had surrounded their ranch. Justice Department lawyers scoffed at this claim in prior trials ... but newly-released documents confirm that snipers were in place prior to the Bundy’s call for help. The feds also belatedly turned over multiple threat assessments which revealed that the Bundys were not violent or dangerous, including an FBI analysis that concluded that BLM was "trying to provoke a conflict" with the Bundys.
When she was a scrawny 11-year-old, Sherry Johnson found out one day that she was about to be married to a 20-year-old member of her church who had raped her. She had become pregnant, she says, and child welfare authorities were investigating - so her family and church officials decided the simplest way to avoid a messy criminal case was to organize a wedding. Today she is ... part of a nationwide movement to end child marriage in America. Meanwhile, children 16 and under are still being married in Florida at a rate of one every few days. In fact, more than 167,000 young people age 17 and under married in 38 states between 2000 and 2010. Among the states with the highest rates of child marriages were Arkansas, Idaho and Kentucky. The number of child marriages has been falling, but every state in America still allows underage girls to marry, typically with the consent of parents, a judge or both. Twenty-seven states do not even set a minimum age by statute. A great majority of the child marriages involve girls and adult men. Such a sexual relationship would often violate statutory rape laws, but marriage sometimes makes it legal. Johnson ... says that her family attended a conservative Pentecostal church and that other girls of a similar age periodically also married. Often, she says, this was to hide rapes by church elders. She says she was raped by both a minister and a parishioner. A judge approved the marriage to end the rape investigation, she says, telling her, “What we want is for you to get married.”
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
The pervasive influence of corporate cash in the democratic process, and the extraordinary lengths to which politicians, lobbyists and even judges go to solicit money, are laid bare in sealed court documents leaked to the Guardian. The John Doe files amount to 1,500 pages of largely unseen material gathered in evidence by prosecutors investigating alleged irregularities in political fundraising. Last year the Wisconsin supreme court ordered that all the documents should be destroyed, though a set survived that has now been obtained by the news organisation. The files open a window on a world that is very rarely glimpsed by the public, in which millions of dollars are secretly donated by major corporations and super-wealthy individuals to third-party groups in an attempt to sway elections. Five Wisconsin prosecutors carried out a deep investigation into what they suspected were criminal campaign-finance violations by the campaign committee of Scott Walker, Wisconsin governor. In 2015, Justice Prosser refused to recuse himself from a case in which the state supreme court sat in judgment over the John Doe investigation, despite the fact that the investigation focused on precisely the same network of lobbying groups and donors that had helped him hang onto his seat. The judge joined a majority of four conservative justices who voted to terminate the investigation and destroy all the documents now leaked to the Guardian.
Like a lot of other Americans, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to know why the Department of Justice hasn’t criminally prosecuted any of the major players responsible for the 2008 financial crisis. On Thursday, Warren released two highly provocative letters demanding some explanations. One is to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, requesting a review of how federal law enforcement managed to whiff on all 11 substantive criminal referrals submitted by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), a panel set up to examine the causes of the 2008 meltdown. The other is to FBI Director James Comey, asking him to release all FBI investigations and deliberations related to those referrals. The FCIC’s criminal referrals ... have never been made public. But Warren’s staff reviewed thousands of other documents released in March ... and found descriptions and records of them. They detail potential violations of securities laws by 14 different financial institutions: most of America’s largest banks. And the FCIC named names, specifying nine top-level executives who should be investigated on criminal charges: CEO Daniel Mudd and CFO Stephen Swad of Fannie Mae; CEO Martin Sullivan and CFO Stephen Bensinger of AIG; CEO Stan O’Neal and CFO Jeffrey Edwards of Merrill Lynch; and CEO Chuck Prince, CFO Gary Crittenden, and Board Chairman Robert Rubin of Citigroup. None of the 14 financial firms listed in the referrals were criminally indicted or brought to trial, Warren writes. Only five of the 14 even paid fines.
Tailyn Wang was two months pregnant when federal police officers broke into her house in Mexico City, ripped off her nightgown and threw her to the ground. They groped her breasts while punching and kicking her in front of her terrified children, before taking her blindfolded to a police base – without an arrest warrant. Wang is one of scores of innocent women illegally arrested and tortured by Mexican security services looking to boost arrest figures to justify the war on drugs, according to damning new research by Amnesty International. Of the 100 women interviewed for the report, 72 said they were sexually abused during or soon after the arrest. Ten of the women were pregnant when arrested; eight subsequently suffered a miscarriage. The vast majority were young, poor, single mothers. Most spend years in prison awaiting trial, without access to adequate healthcare or legal advice. Wang, who has reported the torture to judges, prosecutors, doctors, and the National Commission for Human Rights, was falsely accused by an acquaintance, a local police officer, after he was also tortured. Reports of torture have increased exponentially in Mexico since former President Felipe Calderón first deployed tens of thousands of armed forces on the streets to combat warring drug cartels and organised crime. The navy, which has been deployed in some of the most violent states ... appears to have a particularly serious torture problem. Among the women interviewed by Amnesty, eight out of the ten arrested by the navy were raped.
If domestic abuse is one of the most underreported crimes, domestic abuse by police officers is virtually an invisible one. It is frighteningly difficult to track or prevent - and it has escaped America’s most recent awakening to the many ways in which some police misuse their considerable powers. It is nearly impossible to calculate the frequency of domestic crimes committed by police - not least because victims are often reluctant to seek help from their abuser’s colleagues. Courts can be perilous to navigate, too, since police intimately understand their workings and often have relationships with prosecutors and judges. Police are also some of the only people who know the confidential locations of shelters. Diane Wetendorf, a domestic violence counselor who wrote a handbook for women whose abusers work in law enforcement, believes they are among the most vulnerable victims in the country. Jonathan Blanks, a Cato Institute researcher who publishes a daily roundup of police misconduct, said that in the thousands of news reports he has compiled, domestic violence is “the most common violent crime for which police officers are arrested.” And yet most of the arrested officers appear to keep their jobs. An ABC 7 investigation this February found that nine of every 10 domestic violence allegations made against Chicago police officers by spouses or children resulted in no disciplinary action.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane is used to going up against criminals, not her own colleagues. But after she helped expose an email scandal in the state government, her career has been in jeopardy. In 2014, Kane’s office released close to 400 pages of emails between state government employees, including some high-ranking state officials, exchanged on the state’s email server that were full of racism, sexism and pornography. The scandal was dubbed Porngate, and Kane said it involved a number of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials. “I couldn’t believe there was violence involved, and I couldn’t believe this wasn’t just some Playboy photos ... 398 pages, much of it hard-core porn,” Kane told “Nightline.” When she exposed the state email scandal ...Pennsylvania’s political good old boys club was furious [with Kane] and came after her. Amid calls for her resignation from Gov. Tom Wolf, the Montgomery County prosecutor charged Kane in August 2015 with perjury, obstruction of justice and criminal conspiracy. The state Supreme Court has suspended her law license over these charges, and she could face jail time. Kane said it’s revenge from those good old boys in the email scandal.
Note: Ms. Kane was found guilty on all charges, which is no surprise considering the good old boys all rallied behind this. Yet the fact the all major media reported her conviction and resignation while not even mentioning that this was retaliation is proof of the sad way our mass media is controlled. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing judicial corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
In April 2012, a Kansas SWAT team raided the home of Robert and Addie Harte, their 7-year-old daughter and their 13-year-old son. The couple, both former CIA analysts, awoke to pounding at the door. The family was then held at gunpoint for more than two hours while the police searched their home. They found no evidence of any criminal activity. The investigation leading to the raid began ... when Robert Harte and his son went to a gardening store to purchase supplies to grow hydroponic tomatoes. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department began [sending] deputies out to sort through the family’s garbage. The deputies repeatedly found “saturated plant material” that they thought could possibly be marijuana. On two occasions, a drug testing field kit inexplicably indicated the presence of THC, the active drug in marijuana. Lab tests would later reveal that the “saturated plant material” was actually loose-leaf tea. Why did the field tests come up positive for pot? These tests come up positive whenever the police need them to. The tests [can] be manipulated to generate positive results. The Hartes wanted to know what happened. They spent more than $25,000 in legal fees just to learn why the sheriff had sent a SWAT team into their home. Once they finally had that information, the Hartes filed a lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge John W. Lungstrum dismissed every one of the Hartes’s claims, [and] ruled that the police were under no obligation to know that drug testing field kits are inaccurate.
Note: A detailed report by forensics expert John Kelly and former FBI chief scientist Dr. Frederick Whitehurst reveals "a drug testing regime of fraudulent forensics used by police, prosecutors, and judges." And recently the FBI was found to have faked an entire branch of forensic science. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
The Metropolitan Police is being investigated over further allegations of corruption in relation to child sex offences dating back to the 1970s, including the claim that evidence gathered against MPs, judges, media entertainers, police, clergy and actors was dropped due to police intervention. The fresh allegations are in addition to the 14 cases being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), revealed earlier this month, dating from the 1970s to the 2000s. The three new investigations relate to allegations about police suppressing evidence, hindering or halting investigations, and covering up offences due to the involvement of members of parliament and police officers. One case addressed the allegation that a child abuse investigation in central London, which gathered evidence against MPs, judges, media entertainers, police, actors, clergy, and others, was dropped. It has been claimed that two months after the file had been submitted to start proceedings against those identified, an officer was called in by a senior Met officer and told to drop the case. The two further allegations relate to a child abuse investigation conducted in the 1980s, with one relating directly to police actions in the case. The IPCC said it was also assessing a further six referrals it had received from the Met relating to similar matters.
Note: Explore powerful evidence from a suppressed Discovery Channel documentary showing that child sexual abuse scandals reach to the highest levels of government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about sexual abuse scandals and government corruption from reliable major media sources.
A federal court filing accuses ... Prince Andrew of having sex in three countries with the self-described “sex slave” of an American financier, Jeffrey Epstein. The lawsuit that mentions these charges [targets] the U.S. Department of Justice. The case [started] in 2005, when Florida police began investigating claims that Epstein was paying underage girls for sex at his West Palm Beach home. Investigators uncovered evidence that more than a dozen girls may have been victimized by Epstein. The Justice Department agreed to a deal with Epstein that required him to plead guilty to two state charges, including a single count of solicitation of minors for prostitution, to register as a sex offender and to serve a short jail sentence. In exchange, the U.S. Attorney agreed to drop any further prosecution. The agreement also said that “the parties anticipate that this agreement will not be made part of any public record,” an unusual condition for such a criminal plea. The [deal] shocked several of the victims. The case has been now been ongoing for six years, with more than 280 filings. In legal filings, Edwards [a Florida trial lawyer] and Cassell [a victims' rights advocate and former federal judge] have questioned [the] pressure on the U.S. Attorney to keep the case from trial, either from Prince Andrew or former President Clinton, who travelled with Epstein on his private plane at the time but has not been accused of wrongdoing. “The elephant in the room is this: How does a guy who sexually abused 40 girls end up doing basically one year in a halfway house,” says Cassell.
Note: This is the second recent child sex scandal connected with UK royalty. Watch powerful evidence in a suppressed Discovery Channel documentary showing that child sexual abuse scandals reach to the highest levels of government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sex abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
The U.S. Supreme Court building proclaims a high ideal: “Equal Justice Under Law.” But inside, an elite cadre of lawyers has emerged [to give] their clients a disproportionate chance to influence the law. A Reuters examination of nine years of cases shows that 66 of the 17,000 lawyers who petitioned the Supreme Court ... were at least six times more likely to be accepted by the court than were all others. About half [of these 66 lawyers] worked for justices past or present, and some socialize with them. Although they account for far less than 1 percent of lawyers who filed appeals to the Supreme Court, these attorneys were involved in 43 percent of the cases the high court chose to decide from 2004 through 2012. The Reuters examination of the Supreme Court’s docket, the most comprehensive ever, suggests ... a decided advantage for corporate America. Some legal experts contend that the reliance on a small cluster of specialists, most working on behalf of businesses, has turned the Supreme Court into an echo chamber – a place where an elite group of jurists embraces an elite group of lawyers who reinforce narrow views of how the law should be construed. Of the 66 most successful lawyers, 51 worked for law firms that primarily represented corporate interests. In cases pitting the interests of customers, employees or other individuals against those of companies, a leading attorney was three times more likely to launch an appeal for business than for an individual, Reuters found.
Note: How interesting that no major media seem to have picked up this revealing story. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption from reliable major media sources.
When Frank Serpico, the most famous police whistleblower of his generation, reflected on years of law-enforcement corruption in the New York Police Department, he assigned substantial blame to a commissioner who failed to hold rank-and-file cops accountable. That's the classic template for police abuse: misbehaving cops are spared punishment by colleagues and bosses who cover for them. There are, of course, police officers who are fired for egregious misbehavior. Yet all over the U.S., police unions help many of those cops to get their jobs back, often via secretive appeals geared to protect labor rights rather than public safety. In practice, too many cops who needlessly kill people, use excessive force, or otherwise abuse their authority are getting reprieves from termination. In Oakland, California ... the San Jose Mercury News reports that "of the last 15 arbitration cases in which officers have appealed punishments, those punishments have been revoked in seven cases and reduced in five others." "In Philadelphia, an inquiry was recently completed on 26 cases where police officers were fired from charges ranging from domestic violence, to retail theft, to excessive force, to on duty intoxication," Adam Ozimek writes in a Forbes article on reforms to policing. "Shockingly, the Police Advisory Committee undertaking the investigation found that so far 19 of these fired officers have been reinstated.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A system Congress established to speed help to Americans harmed by vaccines has instead heaped additional suffering on thousands of families. The system is not working as intended. The AP read hundreds of decisions, conducted more than 100 interviews, and analyzed a database of more than 14,500 cases filed in a special vaccine court. Among the findings: Private attorneys have been paid tens of millions of taxpayer dollars even as they clog the court. The court offers a financial incentive to over-file — unlike typical civil court cases. Prominent attorneys have enlisted expert witnesses whose own work has been widely discredited, including one who treated autism with a potent drug used to chemically castrate serial rapists. Many doctors hired by the government to defend vaccine safety in court have ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Cases are supposed to be resolved within 240 days, with options for another 150 days of extensions. Less than 7 percent of 7,876 claims not involving autism met the 240-day target. Add in autism claims, which were postponed so the court could hear all of them at once, and just 4.5 percent took fewer than 240 days. Hundreds have surpassed the decade mark. Several people died before getting any money.
Note: The secret court that shields big pharma from legal liability for selling harmful vaccines is described in this 2009 Wall Street Journal news article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on vaccines from reliable major media sources showing huge corruption and deception.
New York City is an expensive place to live for just about everyone, including prisoners. The city paid $167,731 to feed, house and guard each inmate last year, according to a study the Independent Budget Office released this week. “It is troubling in both human terms and financial terms,” Doug Turetsky, the chief of staff for the budget office, said on Friday. With 12,287 inmates shuffling through city jails last year, he said, “it is a significant cost to the city.” by nearly any measure, New York City spends more than every other state or city. The Vera Institute of Justice released a study in 2012 that found the aggregate cost of prisons in 2010 in the 40 states that participated was $39 billion. The annual average taxpayer cost in these states was $31,286 per inmate. New York State was the most expensive, with an average cost of $60,000 per prison inmate. The cost of incarcerating people in New York City’s jails is nearly three times as much. 83 percent of the expense per prisoner came from wages, benefits for staff and pension costs. Some 76 percent of the inmates in the city were waiting for their cases to be disposed. The wait times have grown even as the number of felonies committed in the city has declined. Since 2002, the time spent waiting for cases to be disposed of has gone to 95 days, from 76 days, [former city correction and probation commissioner Michael] Jacobson said.
Note: This CNN chart shows that most states spend two to three times as much on their prison inmates than they do on students in school. What does that say about our priorities? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Most modern justice systems focus on a crime, a lawbreaker and a punishment. But a concept called “restorative justice” considers harm done and strives for agreement from all concerned — the victims, the offender and the community — on making amends. And it allows victims, who often feel shut out of the prosecutorial process, a way to be heard and participate. In this country, restorative justice takes a number of forms, but perhaps the most prominent is restorative-justice diversion. There are not many of these programs — a few exist on the margins of the justice system in communities like Baltimore, Minneapolis and Oakland, Calif. — but, according to a University of Pennsylvania study in 2007, they have been effective at reducing recidivism. Typically, a facilitator meets separately with the accused and the victim, and if both are willing to meet face to face without animosity and the offender is deemed willing and able to complete restitution, then the case shifts out of the adversarial legal system and into a parallel restorative-justice process. All parties — the offender, victim, facilitator and law enforcement — come together in a forum sometimes called a restorative-community conference. Each person speaks, one at a time and without interruption, about the crime and its effects, and the participants come to a consensus about how to repair the harm done. The methods are mostly applied in less serious crimes, like property offenses in which the wrong can be clearly righted. The processes are designed to be flexible enough to handle violent crime like assault, but they are rarely used in those situations.
Note: This deeply moving and highly educational piece from the New York Times Magazine about the power of restorative justice is well worth reading in its entirety at the link above.
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials. The procedures endorsed by the majority are forbidden by statute in at least 10 states. According to a supporting brief filed by the American Bar Association, international human rights treaties also ban the procedures. Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the four dissenters, said the strip searches the majority allowed were “a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy” and should be used only when there was good reason to do so. Justice Breyer said that the Fourth Amendment should be understood to bar strip searches of people arrested for minor offenses not involving drugs or violence, unless officials had a reasonable suspicion that they were carrying contraband. People have been subjected to “the humiliation of a visual strip search” after being arrested for driving with a noisy muffler, failing to use a turn signal and riding a bicycle without an audible bell. A nun was strip-searched ... after an arrest for trespassing during an antiwar demonstration. In a study of 23,000 people admitted to a correctional facility in Orange County, N.Y., using that standard, there was at most one instance of contraband detected that would not otherwise have been found.
Note: For an abundance of major media articles showing severe erosion of civil liberties, click here.
The U.S. government is legally justified in killing its own citizens overseas if they are involved in plotting terror attacks against America, Attorney General Eric Holder said [on March 5], offering the Obama administration's most detailed explanation so far of its controversial targeted killing program. The Fifth Amendment provides that no one can be "deprived of life" without due process of law. But that due process, Holder said, doesn't necessarily come from a court. "Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process," the attorney general said. The ACLU called Holder's explanation "a defense of the government’s chillingly broad claimed authority to conduct targeted killings of civilians, including American citizens, far from any battlefield without judicial review or public scrutiny." "Few things are as dangerous to American liberty as the proposition that the government should be able to kill citizens anywhere in the world on the basis of legal standards and evidence that are never submitted to a court, either before or after the fact," said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project. "Anyone willing to trust President Obama with the power to secretly declare an American citizen an enemy of the state and order his extrajudicial killing should ask whether they would be willing to trust the next president with that dangerous power,” she said. The ACLU is suing the Obama administration, seeking to have documents regarding the targeted killing program made public.
Note: Attorney General Holder's claim that US citizens can be killed by the government without judicial process clearly violates the U.S. Bill of Rights. In addition to the Fifth Amendment that states that no person shall be held to answer for a crime "without due process of law," the Sixth Amendment states that "the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial."
Confounding lawyers and legal scholars all over the world, Judge John Walker, first cousin of former President George W. Bush, was one of three judges of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to hear argument [on April 5] in Gallop v. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Myers. The lawsuit was brought by a soldier injured during the attack on the Pentagon and accuses former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers, of conspiring to facilitate the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The attacks killed 3000 Americans, plus many who have died from the toxic clean-up conditions at Ground Zero. Attorney William Veale, acting for April Gallop, learned of the assignment the usual 5 days before the argument, and filed a motion to disqualify Judge Walker. There was no prior decision regarding the motion, and when Veale asked about it in court the motion was denied by Judge Winter. Veale then requested a continuance to seek appellate review of the court's ruling but that was denied as well. Veale, amidst frequent interruptions from the three judges, managed to point out Cheney's direct involvement in tracking and dealing with the airplane that was heading for the Pentagon, as reported to the 9/11 Commission by then Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, a winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Note: For a description of this important court case brought by US soldier April Gallop, who was in the Pentagon where it was struck on 9/11 and whose account was suppressed by the FBI and has been brought to light by, among others, Jesse Ventura on his recent television program on the Pentagon, click here and here.
The Supreme Court closed the courthouse door ... to parents who want to sue drug makers over claims their children developed autism and other serious health problems from vaccines. The ruling was a stinging defeat for families dissatisfied with how they fared before a special no-fault vaccine court. The court voted 6-2 against the parents of a child who sued the drug maker Wyeth in Pennsylvania state court for the health problems they say their daughter, now 19, suffered from a vaccine she received in infancy. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court, said Congress set up a special vaccine court in 1986 to ... create a system that spares the drug companies the costs of defending against parents' lawsuits. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. Nothing in the 1986 law ''remotely suggests that Congress intended such a result,'' Sotomayor wrote, taking issue with Scalia. Scalia's opinion was the latest legal setback for parents who felt they got too little from the vaccine court or failed to collect at all. Such was the case for Robalee and Russell Bruesewitz of Pittsburgh, who filed their lawsuit after the vaccine court rejected their claims for compensation. According to the lawsuit, their daughter, Hannah, was a healthy infant until she received the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine in April 1992. Within hours of getting the DPT shot, the third in a series of five, the baby suffered a series of debilitating seizures.
Note: Vaccines have been strongly promoted for decades, yet the research supporting many vaccines is amazingly weak. For more powerful information questioning the efficacy of vaccines, click here.
As George H. Painter was preparing to retire recently as one of two administrative law judges presiding over investor complaints at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, he issued an extraordinary request: Please don't assign my pending cases to the other judge. [The CFTC oversees trading of the nation's most important commodities, including oil, gold and cotton.] Painter said Judge Bruce Levine ... had a secret agreement with a former Republican chairwoman of the agency to stand in the way of investors filing complaints with the agency. "On Judge Levine's first week on the job, nearly twenty years ago, he came into my office and stated that he had promised Wendy Gramm, then Chairwoman of the Commission, that we would never rule in a complainant's favor," Painter wrote. "A review of his rulings will confirm that he fulfilled his vow. Judge Levine ... forces pro se complainants to run a hostile procedural gauntlet until they lose hope, and either withdraw their complaint or settle for a pittance, regardless of the merits of the case." Levine was the subject of a story 10 years ago in the Wall Street Journal, which said that except in a handful of cases in which defunct firms failed to defend themselves, Levine had never ruled in favor of an investor. Gramm [wife of former senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.)], was head of the CFTC just before president Bill Clinton took office. She has been criticized by Democrats for helping firms such as Goldman Sachs and Enron gain influence over the commodity markets. After leaving the CFTC, she joined Enron's board.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.
The Supreme Court on Monday shielded a police officer from being sued for shooting an Arizona woman in her front yard, once again making it harder to bring legal action against officers who use excessive force, even against an innocent person. With two dissents, the high court tossed out a lawsuit by a Tucson woman who was shot four times outside her home because she was seen carrying a large knife. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in dissent the victim did not threaten the police or a friend who was standing nearby. This "decision is not just wrong on the law; it also sends an alarming signal to law enforcement officers and the public," Sotomayor wrote. Since the Civil War, federal law has allowed people to sue government officials, including the police, for violating their constitutional rights. But in recent years, the Supreme Court has erected a shield of immunity for police and said officers may not be sued unless victims can point to a nearly identical shooting that had been deemed unconstitutionally excessive in a previous decision. The justices did not rule on whether officer Andrew Kisela acted reasonably when he used potentially deadly force against Amy Hughes. The court instead ruled [that Kisela] could not be sued because the victim could not cite a similar case. Sotomayor said the majority had revised the facts to favor the officer. "Hughes was nowhere near the officers, had committed no illegal act, was suspected of no crime, and did not raise the knife," she wrote.
Eric Loomis pleaded guilty to attempting to flee an officer, and no contest to operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent. Neither of his crimes mandates prison time. At Mr. Loomis’s sentencing, the judge cited, among other factors, Mr. Loomis’s high risk of recidivism as predicted by a computer program called COMPAS, a risk assessment algorithm used by the state of Wisconsin. The judge denied probation and prescribed an 11-year sentence. No one knows exactly how COMPAS works; its manufacturer refuses to disclose the proprietary algorithm. We only know the final risk assessment score it spits out, which judges may consider at sentencing. Mr. Loomis challenged the use of an algorithm as a violation of his due process rights. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear his case, meaning a majority of justices effectively condoned the algorithm’s use. Shifting the sentencing responsibility [from judges] to a computer does not necessarily eliminate bias; it delegates and often compounds it. Algorithms like COMPAS simply mimic the data with which we train them. An algorithm that accurately reflects our world also necessarily reflects our biases. A ProPublica study found that COMPAS predicts black defendants will have higher risks of recidivism than they actually do, while white defendants are predicted to have lower rates than they actually do.
In the annals of wrongful convictions, there is nothing that comes close in size to the epic drug-lab scandal that is entering its dramatic final act in Massachusetts. About 23,000 people convicted of low-level drug crimes are expected to have their cases wiped away next month en masse, the result of a five-year court fight over the work of a rogue chemist. The prosecutors didn't want the scandal to end like this. They fought for a way to preserve the convictions. The chemist, Annie Dookhan ... worked at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Boston for nearly a decade before her misconduct was exposed in 2012. She admitted to tampering with evidence, forging test results and lying about it. She served three years in prison. [It] is not entirely clear why Dookhan ... felt compelled to change test results on such a massive scale. She was by far the lab's most prolific analyst, a record that impressed her supervisors but also worried her co-workers - a red flag that went overlooked for years. She also maintained friendly relationships with prosecutors, even though her role was to remain objective. Lab scandals have undermined thousands of convictions in eight states in the past decade. Critics say forensic chemists feel a duty to help prosecutors rather than remain neutral. Because of the system's reliance on plea bargains to keep cases moving, defendants often don't have a chance to challenge results from drug labs.
Note: The FBI was found to have faked an entire branch of forensic science. If one chemist's falsified results led to so many unjust criminal convictions, and lab scandals are known to have undermined convictions in eight states, how trustworthy is the science that feeds the extremely profitable mass incarceration industry? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing judicial corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
There was once a time - before the investigations, before the sexual abuse conviction - when rich and famous men loved to hang around with Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire money manager who loved to party. President Trump called Epstein a “terrific guy” back in 2002, saying that “he’s a lot of fun to be with. He likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” Now, Trump is on the witness list in a Florida court battle over how federal prosecutors handled allegations that Epstein, 64, sexually abused more than 40 minor girls, most of them between the ages of 13 and 17. The lawsuit questions why Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, former Miami U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta ... cut a non-prosecution deal with Epstein a decade ago rather than pursuing a federal indictment that Acosta’s staff had advocated. Epstein pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge of felony solicitation of underage girls in 2008 and served a 13-month jail sentence. Epstein’s unusually light punishment - he was facing up to a life sentence had he been convicted on federal charges - has raised questions about how Acosta handled the case. In [a] 2011 letter explaining his decision in the Epstein case, Acosta said he backed off from pressing charges after “a year-long assault on the prosecution and the prosecutors” by “an army of legal superstars” who represented Epstein.
Racial disparities have long been evident in the U.S. criminal justice system, but a new report drilling into statistics on wrongful convictions points up exactly how nefarious the problem is. African Americans are much more likely to be wrongfully convicted of a murder, sexual assault or drug offense than whites. The report, by the National Registry of Exonerations, found that “innocent black people are about seven times more likely to be convicted of murder than innocent white people,” and thus also account for a disproportionate share of the growing number of exonerations. African Americans who were convicted and then exonerated of murder charges also spent four years longer on death row than wrongfully convicted whites (and three years longer for those sentenced to prison). According to the report, African Americans convicted of murder “are about 50% more likely to be innocent than other convicted murderers,” and that such wrongful convictions, even when later corrected, expands the impact of violence on African American communities.
I was 29 and mowing the lawn at my mother’s house in Birmingham, Alabama, on a hot day in July 1985 when I looked up and saw two police officers. I asked the detective 50 times why I was being arrested. Eventually, he told me I was being arrested for a robbery. I told him, “You have the wrong man.” He said, “I don’t care whether you did it or not. You will be convicted.” At the station, it became clear I’d been at work when the robbery occurred. The detective verified this with my supervisor, but then told me they were going to charge me with two counts of first-degree murder from two other robberies. When I met my appointed lawyer, I told him I was innocent. He said, “All of y’all always say you didn’t do something.” I might have seen him three times in the two years I waited for trial. The only evidence linking me to the crime was the testimony of a ballistics expert who said the bullets from the murder weapon could be a match to my mother’s gun. They found me guilty. [In] 1986 I went to death row. Eventually, [in] 2015, the State of Alabama dropped all charges. I was released that same day. When you’ve been locked up for nearly 30 years, nothing is the same. It was like walking out on to another planet at the age of 58. Every night, I go outside and look up at the stars and moon, because for years I could not see either. Now, I am determined to go wherever I am asked to help end the death penalty. I am so thankful that I get to travel with Lifelines and [the Equal Justice Initiative], and share my story.
Two documentary film-makers are facing decades in prison for recording US oil pipeline protests, with serious felony charges that first amendment advocates say are part of a growing number of attacks on freedom of the press. The controversial prosecutions of Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel are moving forward after a judge in North Dakota rejected “riot” charges filed against Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman for her high-profile reporting at the Dakota Access pipeline protests. But authorities in other parts of North Dakota and in Washington state have continued to target other film-makers over their recent reporting on similar demonstrations. Schlosberg, a New York-based film-maker, is facing three felony conspiracy charges for filming protesters on 11 October at a TransCanada Keystone Pipeline site in Pembina County in North Dakota. The 36-year-old ... could face 45 years in prison. In Goodman’s case, a judge forced prosecutors to drop a serious “riot” charge. But prosecutors and sheriff’s officials said they may continue to pursue other charges against the critically acclaimed journalist. In Schlosberg’s charges, North Dakota prosecutors have alleged that she was part of a conspiracy, claiming she traveled with protesters “with the objective of diverting the flow of oil”. “I was surprised at the conspiracy charges. I never thought that would ever happen,” her attorney Robert Woods told the Guardian. “All she was doing was her job of being a journalist and covering the story.”
A bipartisan campaign to reduce mass incarceration has led to enormous declines in new inmates from big cities, cutting America’s prison population for the first time since the 1970s. But large parts of rural and suburban America ... have gone the opposite direction. Prison admissions in counties with fewer than 100,000 people have risen even as crime has fallen. Just a decade ago, people in rural, suburban and urban areas were all about equally likely to go to prison. But now people in small counties are about 50 percent more likely to go to prison than people in populous counties. The stark disparities in how counties punish crime show the limits of recent state and federal changes to reduce the number of inmates. Far from Washington and state capitals, county prosecutors and judges continue to wield great power over who goes to prison and for how long. And many of them have no interest in reducing the prison population. The divide does not appear to be driven by changes in crime, which fell in rural and urban areas at roughly equal rates. Cities have adopted a more lenient approach to drug offenses in particular, diverting many low-level drug offenders to probation or treatment rather than to jail. Those choices have started to reverse - if only modestly - longstanding racial disparities in American prisons, where blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated at drastically higher rates than whites. But rural, mostly white and politically conservative counties have continued to send more drug offenders to prison.
Note: The war on drugs has been called a "trillion-dollar failure," and spending on jails outpaced spending on schools by three times over the last 30 years. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about judicial system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Police officers arrest more than 1.2 million people a year in the United States on charges of illegal drug possession. Field tests ... help them move quickly from suspicion to conviction. But the kits - which cost about $2 each and have changed little since 1973 - are far from reliable. Some tests ... use a single tube of a chemical called cobalt thiocyanate, which turns blue when it is exposed to cocaine. But cobalt thiocyanate also turns blue when it is exposed to more than 80 other compounds, including methadone, certain acne medications and several common household cleaners. Other tests use three tubes, which the officer can break in a specific order to rule out everything but the drug in question - but if the officer breaks the tubes in the wrong order, that, too, can invalidate the results. There are no established error rates for the field tests, in part because their accuracy varies so widely depending on who is using them and how. In Las Vegas, authorities re-examined a sampling of cocaine field tests conducted between 2010 and 2013 and found that 33 percent of them were false positives. By 1978, the Department of Justice had determined that field tests “should not be used for evidential purposes,” and the field tests in use today remain inadmissible at trial in nearly every jurisdiction. But this has proved to be a meaningless prohibition. Most drug cases in the United States are decided well before they reach trial, by the far more informal process of plea bargaining.
Note: Drug test field kits sometimes produce wildly inaccurate results. And recently the FBI was found to have faked an entire branch of forensic science. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing judicial corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
There are more than 20 states in the U.S. where growing small amounts of marijuana is legal. North Carolina isn’t one of them. Those caught cultivating cannabis in the Tar Heel State are usually slapped with a felony, prison time, and anywhere from a $200 to $200,000 fine. Unless, apparently, that person is a police officer. Take the case of Thomas Daniel Gaskins. Police arrested the 33-year-old on June 13 in connection to 11 marijuana plants found in a forest. At the time of his arrest, Gaskins ... worked as a police officer. Local news confirmed the arrest and initially reported that he had been charged both with “manufacturing” and possession of marijuana. But later reports began reflecting that he had only been charged with possession, a misdemeanor. His story is a perfect representation of the war on drugs’ biggest problem - racial bias. Minorities are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for pot than whites. While 11 marijuana plants may not seem like a large offense, it dwarfs many marijuana crimes that minorities are serving life sentences for today. Take the case of Fate Vincent Winslow, who was sentenced to life in prison ... for selling $20 worth of weed to an undercover officer. Winslow was accompanied by a white man in the sale, who - despite receiving $15 of the $20 - was never even arrested. That’s not to say that white men haven’t fallen victim to the drug war, just that they’re far less likely to serve the kind of hard time that minorities are often slapped with.
A cybersecurity taskforce chief turned child pornography collector seems poised to dodge prison. Before agents arrived at his house across from Ballard’s West Woodland Elementary School ... Brian Haller led the Seattle chapter of an FBI/private-sector group tasked with fighting computer crime. Haller had access to a secure FBI online platform and email system, though he is not alleged to have used either to collect child porn. Haller was one of the smaller fish caught in an expansive FBI sting last year. Agents found the law enforcement insider used a “dark web” service – a Tor network site – to collect 600 files capturing the sexual abuse and exploitation of countless children. Usually, Haller’s crimes could carry a five-year prison term. Instead, federal prosecutors have asked that Haller, 40, be spared even jail time when he is sentenced Friday for possession of child pornography. The standard sentencing range for a defendant like Haller is four to five years in federal prison. [Haller] was identified through a wide-ranging, controversial sting operation [that] has prompted charges against more than 130 others, including a Vancouver special education worker and a Fort Lewis soldier.
Note: It was reported in 2012 that two US states appeared to be "running state-protected child trafficking rings, with evidence of cops, judges, lawyers, clergy and government employees covering for each other." Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this topic in the US. For more, see concise summaries of sexual abuse scandal news articles.
An anti-Iranian group calling itself “United Against Nuclear Iran” (UANI) ... is very likely a front for some combination of the Israeli and U.S. intelligence services. When launched, NBC described its mission as waging “economic and psychological warfare” against Iran. The group was founded and is run and guided by a roster of ... neocon extremists such as Joe Lieberman, former Bush Homeland Security adviser (and current CNN “analyst”) Fran Townsend, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and former Mossad Director Meir Dagan. In May 2013, UANI launched a “name and shame” campaign designed to publicly identify — and malign — any individuals or entities enabling trade with Iran. One of the accused was the shipping company of Greek billionaire Victor Restis, who ... sued UANI for defamation in a New York federal court. Then something quite extraordinary happened: In September of last year, the U.S. government, which was not a party, formally intervened in the lawsuit, and demanded that the court ... dismiss the lawsuit against UANI before it could even start, on the ground that allowing the case to proceed would damage national security. Why would such a group like this even possess “state secrets”? It would be illegal to give them such material. The U.S. government provide no clue as to what the supposedly endangered “state secrets” are. As a result of the DOJ’s protection, UANI cannot be sued. This group of neocon extremists now has a license to defame anyone they want.
Eric Garner was not the first American to be choked by the police, and he will not be the last, thanks to legal rules that prevent victims of police violence from asking federal courts to help stop deadly practices. The 1983 case City of Los Angeles v. Lyons vividly illustrates the problem. That case also involved an African-American man choked by the police without provocation. Unlike Mr. Garner, Adolph Lyons survived. He then filed a federal lawsuit, asking the city to compensate him for his injuries. He also asked the court to prevent the Los Angeles Police Department from using chokeholds in the future. The trial court ordered the L.A.P.D. to stop using chokeholds. The Supreme Court overturned this order. The court explained that Mr. Lyons would have needed to prove that he personally was likely to be choked again in order for his lawsuit to be a vehicle for systemic reform. This is the legal standard when a plaintiff asks a federal court for an injunction — or a forward-looking legal order. When the stakes are this deadly, federal courts should step in. If police departments still failed to comply, federal judges could impose penalties. How do we know? Consider school segregation. Local officials had promised change but failed to ensure it. It took decades of close supervision by federal courts to make a dent in the problem. As the courts started to leave this field in more recent years, de facto segregation returned.
Barry Davis stood before a judge and admitted to a horrific crime: aggravated sodomy of a 6-year-old girl. Davis served two years in prison and eight on probation, and his name was to live forever on an ignominious list: Georgia’s sex offender registry. But suddenly last year, all was forgiven. Georgia’s parole board granted Davis an unconditional pardon, recognizing his restored reputation and absolving ... him of his crime. The board did so without notifying Davis’ victim, her family, or the prosecutor and judge who sent him to prison. And now Davis, like at least one other pardoned child molester from Georgia, says he no longer has to comply with the state’s restrictions on sex offenders. Davis’ case underscores the near-absolute autonomy exercised by Georgia’s Board of Pardons and Paroles, a government agency that is not accountable to legislators, judges, or even the governor who appoints its members. The board classifies almost all material in its files as “confidential state secrets.” The board does not meet in public to consider cases. It announces no justification for its decisions. Without oversight or transparency, the board quietly restored the firearms rights of more than 1,400 felons in six years. In Davis’ case, the board apparently relied only on information that Davis himself assembled. So the board didn’t hear about his victim’s years of psychological therapy. And it learned nothing about Davis’ efforts, as late as 2011, to persuade the victim to claim the crime never happened.
Note: Some progress has been made in years since this article was published, but there are still serious problems. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sexual abuse scandals and judicial system corruption.
Leaders at an African summit have voted to give themselves and their allies immunity from prosecution for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide at a new African Court of Justice and Human Rights. The continent ... has two sitting presidents and one ousted president facing charges at the International Criminal Court. Amnesty International called it "a backward step in the fight against impunity and a betrayal of victims of serious violations of human rights." The decision came [on June 27] at an African Union summit vote in Equatorial Guinea from which journalists were excluded, Amnesty International said. News of the vote was imparted obliquely in a statement [on June 30] about the summit outcomes. A paragraph listing legal instruments agreed at the meeting included the "Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights." That amendment bars the court from prosecuting sitting African leaders and vaguely identified "senior officials." Forty-two African and international civil society and rights groups had objected to the amendment, noting in an open letter before the summit that the impunity violates international and domestic laws as well as the constitution of the African Union.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war crimes news articles from reliable major media sources.
A classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known, one that allows it to intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about its targets as well. The certification — approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and included among a set of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — lists 193 countries that would be of valid interest for U.S. intelligence. The certification also permitted the agency to gather intelligence about entities including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The documents underscore the remarkable breadth of potential “foreign intelligence” collection. An affidavit in support of the 2010 foreign-government certification said the NSA believes that foreigners who will be targeted for collection “possess, are expected to receive and/or are likely to communicate foreign intelligence information concerning these foreign powers.” That language could allow for surveillance of academics, journalists and human rights researchers. A Swiss academic who has information on the German government’s position in the run-up to an international trade negotiation, for instance, could be targeted if the government has determined there is a foreign-intelligence need for that information. If a U.S. college professor e-mails the Swiss professor’s e-mail address or phone number to a colleague, the American’s e-mail could be collected as well, under the program’s court-approved rules.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency news articles from reliable major media sources.
In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans. The rulings, some nearly 100 pages long, reveal that the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny. The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, was once mostly focused on approving case-by-case wiretapping orders. But since major changes in legislation and greater judicial oversight of intelligence operations were instituted six years ago, it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate arbiter on surveillance issues and delivering opinions that will most likely shape intelligence practices for years to come. In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures. Unlike the Supreme Court, the FISA court hears from only one side in the case — the government — and its findings are almost never made public.
Note: For more on government secrecy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
HSBC Holdings Plc’s $1.9 billion agreement with the U.S. to resolve charges it enabled Latin American drug cartels to launder billions of dollars was approved by a federal judge. U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn, New York, signed off yesterday on a deferred-prosecution agreement. HSBC was accused of failing to monitor more than $670 billion in wire transfers and more than $9.4 billion in purchases of U.S. currency from HSBC Mexico, allowing for money laundering, prosecutors said. The bank also violated U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, Libya, Sudan, Burma and Cuba, according to a criminal information filed in the case. The bank, Europe’s largest, agreed to pay a $1.25 billion forfeiture and $665 million in civil penalties under the settlement, prosecutors announced in December. At a hearing the same month, Gleeson told prosecutors there had been “publicized criticism” of the agreement, which lets the bank and management avoid further criminal proceedings over the charges. Lack of proper controls allowed the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico and the Norte del Valle cartel in Colombia to move more than $881 million through HSBC’s U.S. unit from 2006 to 2010, the government alleged in the case. The bank also cut resources for its anti-money-laundering programs to “cut costs and increase profits,” the government said in court filings. Under a deferred prosecution agreement, the U.S. allows a target to avoid charges.
Note: HSBC was founded to service the international drug trade, and is considered too big to criminally prosecute. Big bank settlements often amount to "cash for secrecy" deals that are ultimately profitable for banks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about financial industry corruption.
A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S. The 16-page memo ... provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens. In March, Attorney General Eric Holder specifically endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans, saying they could be justified if government officials determine the target poses “an imminent threat of violent attack.” But the confidential Justice Department “white paper” introduces a ... “broader concept of imminence” than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland. “The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the memo states. Instead, it says, an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”
Nearly 70 percent of voters think super PACs should be outlawed, and more than half “strongly” do. We can hardly believe that the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch will spend more this year than John McCain’s entire presidential campaign raised in 2008. We can’t stand the constant flood of negative ads on every channel or the ominous anonymity of the interests behind them. The Roberts Court sees all this and refuses to acknowledge that it “give[s] rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Fortunately, if on the question of campaign finance the Supreme Court is immune to the court of public opinion, progressives are fighting through other avenues to transform today’s corrupt system into one that is fair, transparent and participatory. In [the] state of New York, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched a path-breaking investigation of tax-exempt groups that might be fraudulently funneling funds into politics, including a “charitable foundation” affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is partnering with Protect Our Democracy ... to apply the same successful, grass-roots pressure they used in getting same-sex marriage passed to our campaign finance system. They have joined with citizen activists who are looking to New York City’s successful, multiple-match public financing system. A Brennan Center for Justice study showed that this system promoted diversity among candidates and donors and reduced the influence of corporate money.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on problems with US elections, click here.
A retired New York Supreme Court judge has claimed she was manhandled by a policeman after watching him beat a woman at the Zuccotti Park raids. Karen Smith was working as a legal observer when she saw a distressed woman pushed to the ground and beaten by an officer, she said. When she demanded he [stop], the unidentified cop pushed her against a wall and threatened her with arrest. Ms Smith had attended the raids ... to note down the names of people arrested as the Occupy Wall Street camp was cleared. She was wearing a fluorescent green baseball cap bearing the words 'National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer' to show she was not taking part in the protests. Ms Smith, who was also carrying a pad and pen, said the incident happened at around 1.30am on Tuesday at Dey Street and Broadway Street in New York City. Speaking to Democracy Now, she described the scene as ‘a paramilitary operation if there ever was one’. It was ‘what we call a stealth eviction’, she added. Ms Smith explained her son had participated in Occupy Wall Street and she had been ‘very concerned’ about his safety.
Note: We don't normally use the UK's Daily Mail as a reliable source, but as no other major media are reporting this story, we felt it warranted inclusion. The judge gives her own testimony in a video near the bottom of the article.
One week after a U.S. military airstrike killed a 16-year-old American citizen in Yemen, no one in the Obama administration, Pentagon or Congress has taken responsibility for his death, or even publicly acknowledged that it happened. The absence of official accountability for the demise of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a Denver native and the son of [Anwar al-Awlaki], deepens the legal and ethical murkiness of the Obama administration’s campaign to kill alleged enemies of the state outside of traditional war zones. Officials throughout the U.S. government ... have refused to answer questions for the record about how or why Awlaki was killed Oct. 14 in a remote part of Yemen, along with eight other people. The official silence about the death of the American teenager contrasts with the Obama administration’s eagerness to trumpet another airstrike in Yemen two weeks earlier. In that case, armed drones controlled by the CIA killed the teen’s father, Anwar al-Awlaki. [A] U.S. official said the airstrike was launched by the military’s secretive Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC. The younger Awlaki was the third U.S. citizen killed by the U.S. government in Yemen in recent weeks.
Note: For deep background on reasons why the US government may have wanted to eliminate Anwar al-Awlaki and his son, click here.
Is it legal for the federal government to kill a U.S. citizen overseas, someone who has never been charged or convicted of a crime? Civil liberties groups are condemning the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, but many legal scholars say it is justified. No U.S. court has ever weighed in on the question, because judges consider these sorts of issues exclusively matters for the president. Anwar al-Awlaki's father, Nasser, with the help of the ACLU, sued President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and CIA Director Leon Panetta a year ago, when it became clear that the U.S. was targeting the younger al-Awlaki. But U.S. District Judge John Bates threw the case out, ruling that federal courts were in no position to evaluate whether someone was a terrorist whose activities threatened national security and against whom the use of deadly force could be justified. The ACLU lawyer who handled the case, Jameel Jaffer, said Friday that the U.S. program that targeted al-Awlaki was a violation of both U.S. and international law. "The government's authority to use lethal force against its own citizens should be limited to circumstances in which the threat to life is concrete, specific and imminent. It is a mistake to invest the president, any president, with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country," Jaffer said.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the illegal prosecution of the "Global War on Terror", click here.
A Pennsylvania judge was sentenced to 28 years in prison in connection to a bribery scandal that roiled the state's juvenile justice system. Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was convicted of taking $1 million in bribes from developers of juvenile detention centers. The judge then presided over cases that would send juveniles to those same centers. The case came to be known as "kids-for-cash." The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Ciavarella, 61, was tried and convicted of racketeering charges earlier this year. More than a dozen people who said they had been affected by the judge's decision stood outside [the court house in Scranton, PA], awaiting the sentencing. Jeff Pollins was in that crowd. His stepson was convicted by Ciavarella. "These kids are still affected by it. It's like post traumatic stress disorder," Pollins told the Times Leader. "Our life is ruined. It's never going to be the same".
Note: Two crooked judges and a for-profit detention center company used millions of taxpayer dollars to systematically violate the rights of thousands of kids. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
[Introduction] An internal history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation provides gripping new evidence about some of the most notorious Nazi cases of the last three decades. The Justice Department kept the 600-page report secret for the last four years, releasing a heavily redacted version last month to a private research group that sued to force its release. A complete version was obtained by The New York Times. [From the document] In the 1970s, the public was shocked to leam that some Nazi persecutors had emigrated to the United States. There were calls for their expulsion and legislation was passed to facilitate their deportation. OSI was created in 1979 to handle the caseload. The Office of Special Investigations (OSI) is often referred to as the government's "Nazi-hunting" organization. While the cases and projects are individually fascinating, this report was not written simply to recount a series of unrelated but interesting undertakings. It is designed to serve as a teaching and research tool for historians, the media, academics, policy makers and the general public. While one would hope that the Holocaust was such an aberration that its like would never recur, the world has since learned of new and horrific genocidal undertakings. Bosnia, Cambodia, Croatia, Iraq, Rwanda, Serbia and Sudan are among the all too-many countries involved. These societies will inevitably have to confront some of the same issues which faced OSI.
Note: This suppressed report contains clear evidence that top Nazi war criminals were given aliases and allowed to escape prosection by elements both outside and inside of government. For even more powerful evidence from released US government documents that top government leaders felt the need for mind control techniques developed by the Nazi's warranted secretly protecting and eventually working with some of the most heartless of the Nazis, click here.
The invasion of Iraq had no "legal basis in international law", the senior government lawyer Sir Michael Wood has told the Chilcot inquiry. Sir Michael ... was the most senior legal adviser at the Foreign Office at the time of the invasion. "I considered that the use of force against Iraq in March 2003 was contrary to international law," he said in a written statement. "In my opinion, that use of force had not been authorised by the (United Nations) Security Council, and had no other basis in international law." Jack Straw, then the foreign secretary, rejected advice that the war would be unlawful, the inquiry heard. Sir Michael wrote to Mr Straw on January 24, 2003 to express concerns about comments [Straw] made to then-US vice president Dick Cheney. Mr Straw told Mr Cheney that Britain would "prefer" a second resolution but it would be "OK" if they tried and failed to get one "a la Kosovo". Sir Michael commented that this was "completely wrong from a legal point of view". Sir Michael said this was "probably the first and only occasion" that a minister rejected his legal advice in this way.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on the real reasons behind the invasion of Iraq, click here.
With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding. Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy. As a result of Thursday’s ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. The ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission radically reverses well-established law and erodes a wall that has stood for a century between corporations and electoral politics. The founders of this nation warned about the dangers of corporate influence. The real solution lies in getting the court’s ruling overturned.
Note: The crux of the argument used by the Supreme Court is that under US law, corporations are treated as persons and therefore given Constitutional rights meant for people. Should we then give them the right to vote? For many key articles from reliable sources on serious flaws in the electoral process in the US, click here.
A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said ... President Bush is standing by "feverish legal theories" to justify actions which are unconstitutional. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., made the comments on the Senate floor during debate. Whitehouse said that ... he had examined "highly classified secret legal opinions" issued by the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel [OLC]. Whitehouse recounted that, "Sitting in that secure room, as a lawyer, as a former U.S. Attorney, legal counsel to Rhode Island’s Governor, and State Attorney General, I was increasingly dismayed and amazed as I read on." Whitehouse related three OLC legal opinions which he got declassified: "An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order."; ... "The President ... can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority"; [and] "The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations." "Imagine a general counsel to a major U.S. corporation telling his board of directors, 'In this company the counsel’s office is bound by the CEO’s legal determinations,'" Whitehouse said. "The board ought to throw that lawyer out - it’s malpractice, probably even unethical." We are a nation of laws, not of men. This nation was founded in rejection of the royalist principles that ... 'The King can do no wrong'."
Note: To hear the revealing Senate speech on this vital topic by Senator Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, click here. For Whitehouse's comments on this topic on his Senate website, click here.
Federal agents do not need a search warrant to monitor a suspect's computer use and determine the e-mail addresses and Web pages the suspect is contacting, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. In a drug case from San Diego County, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco likened computer surveillance to the "pen register" devices that officers use to pinpoint the phone numbers a suspect dials, without listening to the phone calls themselves. In Friday's ruling, the court said computer users should know that they lose privacy protections with e-mail and Web site addresses when they are communicated to the company whose equipment carries the messages. The search is no more intrusive than officers' examination of a list of phone numbers or the outside of a mailed package, neither of which requires a warrant, Judge Raymond Fisher said in the 3-0 ruling. Defense lawyer Michael Crowley disagreed. His client, Dennis Alba, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted of operating a laboratory in Escondido that manufactured the drug ecstasy. Some of the evidence against Alba came from agents' tracking of his computer use. The court upheld his conviction and sentence. Expert evidence in Alba's case showed that the Web addresses obtained by federal agents included page numbers that allowed the agents to determine what someone read online, Crowley said. The ruling "further erodes our privacy," the attorney said. "The great political marketplace of ideas is the Internet, and the government has unbridled access to it."
Note: So now every email you send and read can be monitored legally. Why didn't this make news headlines?
A federal appeals court rejected a fired FBI contractor's bid to revive her lawsuit against the government. Sibel Edmonds said she was fired from her job as a wiretap translator because she told superiors she suspected that a co-worker was leaking information to targets of an ongoing FBI investigation. The FBI said it fired her because she committed security violations and disrupted the office. The Justice Department's inspector general said Edmonds's allegations about a coworker "raised serious concerns that, if true, could potentially have extremely damaging consequences for the FBI."
Note: This article doesn't even mention 9/11, yet Ms. Edmonds has stated publicly that her testimony would put top government officials behind bars for their role in blocking information which could have stopped the 9/11 attacks. For more eye-opening information, click here and here. Read Ms. Edmond's open letter to the chairman of the 9/11 Commission to find out what key people in government don't want you to know about her testimony. See also her excellent website http://www.justacitizen.com She was also instrumental in forming a National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.
The American criminal justice system relies too heavily on imprisoning people and needs to consider more effective alternatives, according to a study released Wednesday by the American Bar Assn., the nation's largest lawyers' organization. "For more than 20 years, we've gotten tougher on crime," said Dennis W. Archer, a former Detroit mayor and the group's current president. "We can no longer sit by as more and more people — particularly in minority communities — are sent away for longer and longer periods of time while we make it more and more difficult for them to return to society after they serve their time. The system is broken. We need to fix it." Both the number of incarcerated Americans and the cost of locking them up are massive, the report said, and have been escalating significantly in recent years. Between 1974 and 2002, the number of inmates in federal and state prisons rose six-fold. By 2002, 476 out of every 100,000 Americans were imprisoned. In 1982, the states and federal government spent $9 billion on jails and prisons. By 1999, the figure had risen to $49 billion. Based on trends, a black male born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of being imprisoned during his lifetime, while the chances for a Latino male are 1 in 6, and for a white male, 1 in 17. The report contains numerous reform proposals. Among them: the repeal of mandatory minimum sentencing laws; more funding for substance abuse and mental health programs; assistance for prisoners reentering society; [and] task forces to study racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system.
Note: If above link fails, click here. The prison-industrial complex attracts huge profits and strongly supports laws like "three strikes" where third time offenders are automatically imprisoned for life, even for petty crime.
The Supreme Court today gave the Central Intelligence Agency broad discretion to withhold the identities of its sources of intelligence information from public disclosure. The exemption applies regardless of whether the information is shown to have a bearing on national security and regardless of whether the source of the information is a newspaper or magazine in general circulation. The decision, written by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, overturned a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. That court, in ordering the release of the names of researchers who participated in a long-running C.I.A. study of the control of human behavior, had adopted a considerably narrower definition of the ''intelligence sources'' entitled to exemption. The C.I.A. project, code-named MKULTRA, was in existence from 1953 to 1966 and was designed to develop techniques for controlling human behavior. At least 185 private researchers and 80 institutions participated in the research. Officials of two organizations ... filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act in 1977 for the names of the researchers. Last fall Congress partly excluded from the Freedom of Information Act the C.I.A.'s ''operational files,'' which involve intelligence methods and sources.
Note: The official story is that all of the experiments to control human behavior failed. Yet if this is true, why did they spend so much money and so many years on it? And why is it necessary to keep secret who the researchers were? For reliable, verifiable information suggesting not only that the experiments were quite successful, but that they may be ongoing to this day, click here.
A San Francisco Superior Court jury awarded a historic $289 million verdict against the agrochemical conglomerate Monsanto. A California judge is considering taking away that jury award for punitive damages. When we learned that Dewayne “Lee” Johnson had taken Monsanto to court saying he got his terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from on-the-job exposure to Monsanto’s ubiquitous weed killer, Roundup, we were so captured by Johnson’s battle that we traveled to San Francisco to watch the trial. Johnson’s was the first of some 4,000 similar claims headed for courts across America. The judge appeared to be bending over backward to help Monsanto. Johnson’s jury heard evidence that, for four decades, Monsanto maneuvered to conceal Roundup’s carcinogenicity by capturing regulatory agencies, corrupting public officials, bribing scientists, ghostwriting science and engaging in scientific fraud. The jury found that these activities constituted “malice, fraud and oppression” warranting $250 million in punitive damages. We were among the many who applauded. However, California judges have the power to reduce, or even eliminate, a jury award. The jurors would be shocked to know that the product of their weeks of careful consideration ... could be thrown out at the whim of a judge who disagrees with the verdict. If a judge intervenes to alter their verdict, then what, after all, is the point of having jurors?
Note: The EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. A recent independent study published in a scientific journal also found a link between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health.
A California judge has rejected Monsanto’s appeal to overturn a landmark jury verdict which found that its popular herbicide causes cancer. Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a father of three and former school groundskeeper ... won a $289m award over the summer after alleging that his exposure to Roundup weedkiller gave him cancer. Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company, filed an appeal of the verdict, which said the company was responsible for “negligent failure”, knew or should have known that its product was “dangerous”, and had “acted with malice or oppression”. San Francisco superior court judge Suzanne Bolanos ... has ruled to reduce punitive damages from $250m to $39m. The August verdict was a major victory for campaigners who have long fought Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world. Studies have repeatedly linked the glyphosate chemical ... to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a type of blood cancer. Internal Monsanto emails uncovered in the litigation suggested that the corporation has repeatedly worked to stifle critical research over the years while “ghost-writing” scientific reports favorable to glyphosate. Thousands of plaintiffs across the country have made similar legal claims, alleging that glyphosate exposure caused their cancer or resulted in the deaths of their loved ones. Last week, four jury members spoke to the Guardian about the judge questioning their unanimous decision, urging her to allow the verdict to stand.
Note: The EPA continues to use industry-sponsored studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. A recent independent study published in a scientific journal also found a link between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health.
Cedric O’Bannon tried to ignore the sharp pain in his side and continue filming. The independent journalist, who was documenting a white supremacist rally in Sacramento, said he wanted to capture the neo-Nazi violence against counter-protesters with his GoPro camera. But the pain soon became overwhelming. He lifted up his blood-soaked shirt and realized that one of the men carrying a pole with a blade on the end of it had stabbed him in the stomach, puncturing him nearly two inches deep. He limped his way to an ambulance. Police did not treat O’Bannon like a victim. Officers instead monitored his Facebook page and sought to bring six charges against him, including conspiracy, rioting, assault and unlawful assembly. His presence at the protest – along with his use of the black power fist and “social media posts expressing his ideals” – were proof that he had violated the rights of neo-Nazis at the 26 June 2016 protests, police wrote in a report. None of the white supremacists have been charged for stabbing O’Bannon. O’Bannon’s case is the latest example of police in the US targeting leftwing activists, anti-Trump protesters and black Americans for surveillance and prosecution over their demonstrations and online posts. At the same time, critics say, they are failing to hold neo-Nazis responsible for physical violence. Michael German, a former FBI agent, said the Sacramento case was part of a pattern of police in the US siding with far-right groups and targeting their critics.
Note: A New York Times article describes how journalists, legal observers and volunteer medics were charged with riot-related crimes for attending a protest. United Nations officials recently said that the US government's treatment of activists was increasingly "incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
The Department of Justice has scrubbed and revised language concerning press freedom and civil rights from its manual for federal prosecutors. In a broad revamping - the first in over 20 years - a subsection titled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial” was taken out. "The purpose of that review is to identify redundant sections and language, areas that required greater clarity, and any content that needed to be added to help department attorneys perform core prosecutorial functions," Ian D. Prior, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, [said]. "Taken in isolation, I’m not sure how much we should read into the language changed in the DOJ manual," Alexandra Ellerbeck, the North America program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told Newsweek. Ellerbeck pointed out, however, that removing the “need for the free press” section is concerning, considering the level of hostility toward journalists. Since President Donald Trump has taken office, he has popularized the term "fake news". The administration has also made repeated threats to go after leakers, Ellerbeck said. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in November there are 27 open leak investigations. In comparison, Sessions noted that during former President Barack Obama's administration, the DOJ investigated "three per year." Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index last week and cited an increasing sense of “hostility” toward the media. The U.S. fell back two places in rankings.
Note: The NSA recently deleted the terms "honesty" and "openness" from its mission statement. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
I traveled from Baltimore to join hundreds of thousands of protesters at counterdemonstrations around Mr. Trump’s swearing-in. Little did I know that I would be swept up into a legal nightmare that demonstrates how prosecutors intimidate and manipulate defendants into giving up their rights. Minutes after I got to downtown Washington on Jan. 20, police officers used pepper spray, “sting-ball” grenades and flailing batons to sweep up an entire city block in a mass-arrest tactic known as “kettling.” Next, prosecutors ... took the highly unusual step of indicting more than 200 of those arrested. Most of the people in the group, which includes journalists, legal observers and volunteer medics, face charges of engaging in a riot, inciting a riot, conspiracy to riot and property damage. In addition to seizing the contents of at least 100 cellphones, prosecutors secured broad warrants for Facebook pages. The government has failed to provide most defendants in the case with evidence of their alleged individual wrongdoing. For example, I was offered a plea deal (to a single misdemeanor charge) on the basis of virtually nothing more than being at the site of the protest. This serves to illustrate a critical problem in the American justice system: Prosecutors have the power to single-handedly destroy lives, and there are few consequences for abuse of that power. At the same time, their main measure of success is the ability to secure convictions, not the degree to which justice is served.
Note: United Nations officials recently said that the US government's treatment of activists was increasingly "incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on judicial system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
An Oregon parent wanted details about school employees getting paid to stay home. College journalists in Kentucky requested documents about the investigations of employees accused of sexual misconduct. Instead, they got something else: sued by the agencies they had asked for public records. Government bodies are increasingly turning the tables on citizens who seek public records that might be embarrassing or legally sensitive. Instead of granting or denying their requests, a growing number of school districts, municipalities and state agencies have filed lawsuits against people making the requests - taxpayers, government watchdogs and journalists who must then pursue the records in court at their own expense. The lawsuits generally ask judges to rule that the records being sought do not have to be divulged, [and] name the requesters as defendants. The recent trend has alarmed freedom-of-information advocates, who say it's becoming a new way for governments to hide information, delay disclosure and intimidate critics. At least two recent cases have succeeded in blocking information while many others have only delayed the release. Even if agencies are ultimately required to make the records public, they typically will not have to pay the other side's legal bills. "You can lose even when you win," said Mike Deshotels, an education watchdog who was sued by the Louisiana Department of Education after filing requests for school district enrollment data last year.
Members of a congressional committee at a public hearing Wednesday blasted former President Barack Obama and his attorney general for allegedly covering up an investigation into the death of a Border Patrol agent killed as a result of a botched government gun-running project known as Operation Fast and Furious. The House Oversight Committee also Wednesday released a scathing, nearly 300-page report that found Holder’s Justice Department tried to hide the facts. Terry died in a gunfight. [His] death exposed Operation Fast and Furious, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation in which the federal government allowed criminals to buy guns in Phoenix-area shops with the intention of tracking them as they were transported into Mexico. But the agency lost track of more than 1,400 of the 2,000 guns they allowed smugglers to buy. Two of those guns were found at the scene of Terry's killing. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, testified Wednesday in front of the committee, accusing DOJ and ATF officials of obstructing the investigation and working to silence ATF agents who informed the Senate of Fast and Furious. One of those silenced ATF agents, John Dodson, testified Wednesday that he remains “in a state of purgatory” since objecting to Fast and Furious and has been the subject of reprisals. Grassley's and Dodson's testimony reinforced findings of the report, which states that the Justice Department knew before Terry’s death that the ATF was “walking” firearms to Mexico and knew the day after the agent’s death that Fast and Furious guns were involved in the shootout -- despite denying these facts.
Note: The Obama administration invoked executive privilege in an unsuccessful attempt to cover this story up. Whistleblower John Dodson published a book on this scandal in 2013. The ATF tried and failed to silence him, then lied about the whole thing. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Jose Charles was dazed, bleeding from his head and surrounded by police. His mother had gone to take one of the 15-year-old’s siblings to the bathroom at a Fourth of July celebration in Greensboro, N.C. - and returned to find an officer’s hand around Jose’s neck. Police charged Jose with four crimes, including attacking an officer. The teenager and his mother say police slammed and choked him without provocation. In a month, the court’s interpretation of the incident could determine Jose’s fate. Body camera footage from several officers who were at the scene of the encounter is sitting ... where almost no one can see it. Standing in the way of clarity and transparency, critics say, is a new North Carolina law that makes it more difficult than ever to view recordings of controversial interactions between police and members of the public. The law requires anyone who wants to see police body camera footage to pay a fee and plead their case to a Superior Court judge. The law gives an inordinate amount of power to prosecutors. Jose Charles’s mom, Tamara Figueroa ... said [her son] suffers from schizoaffective disorder. She said prosecutors have told her that if Jose doesn’t plead guilty to assault, they’ll ask a judge to send him to a [facility] which Figueroa calls “a kiddie jail,” unequipped to treat his mental illness. The video could change public perception and her son’s fate, Figueroa said: She has seen the footage and remains adamant that her son didn’t assault a police officer.
A Florida mother first brought billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s peculiar caprices to the attention of Palm Beach police in 2005. Eventually, federal investigators and prosecutors built a case against Epstein ... that involved 17 witnesses and five other underaged women. But in September 2007, a Florida federal prosecutor named R. Alexander Acosta cut a secret plea deal with Epstein’s lawyers giving him ... an unusually lenient part-time, eight-hours a day county jail sentence, rather than the ten years or more in prison that a less powerful person might have gotten for repeated sex with minors. Acosta also deviated from legal norms when he granted the deal without first notifying the young women who had spoken to investigators about their experiences with the billionaire. Details of the deal were not made public until a federal judge unsealed it as part of a civil lawsuit brought by four women in 2015. Epstein was allowed to plead guilty to a single charge of soliciting prostitution from girls as young as 14. He ultimately served only 13 months in prison. On Wednesday, Acosta ... testified in front of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee as Donald Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Labor. Asked about the Epstein deal, he characterized it as within the bounds of normal prosecutorial behavior. “Acosta is pretending the failure to prosecute was routine,” [a] former prosecutor told Newsweek, asking for anonymity. “But that’s bullshit. What happened here was completely and totally out of the main.”
For a shocking glimpse of what’s been happening in the name of criminal justice in America, look no further than a Justice Department report last week on police behavior in Louisiana. Officers there have routinely arrested hundreds of citizens annually without probable cause, strip-searching them and denying them contact with their family and lawyers for days - all in an unconstitutional attempt to force cooperation with detectives who finally admitted they were operating on a mere “hunch” or “feeling.” This wholesale violation of the Constitution’s protection against unlawful search and seizure ... was standard procedure. The report described as “staggering” the number of people who were “commonly detained for 72 hours or more” with no opportunity to contest their arrest, in what the police euphemistically termed “investigative holds.” The sheriff’s office in Evangeline, with a population of 33,578, initiated over 200 such arrest-and-grilling sessions between 2012 and 2014. In Ville Platte, which has 7,303 residents, the local police department used the practice more than 700 times during the same years. The residents faced demands for information, the report said, “under threat of continued wrongful incarceration,” resulting in what may have been false confessions and improper convictions. “Literally anyone in Evangeline Parish or Ville Platte could be arrested and placed ‘on hold’ at any time,” the report found.
What do you say to someone who spent years on death row for a murder DNA evidence later proved he didn't commit? It's a question that Utah legislators and law students were faced with last week when they met Ray Krone, an Arizona man who was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for a 1991 Phoenix barroom slaying only to be exonerated and freed after years of staring down his potential execution. Krone is the 100th death row inmate freed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 and Utah executed Gary Gilmore. He was in Utah last week, meeting with more than a dozen legislators on Wednesday ahead of another attempt by death-penalty opponents to repeal Utah's law on executions in the upcoming legislative session. Last legislative session, a bill to repeal the death penalty passed the Senate but was blocked in the House. Marina Lowe, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, said stories like Krone's, where the system got it wrong, were missing from the debate last year. "I want the public to see there are actually two sides of the justice system. It's not simply that everyone has done something wrong or they wouldn't have been arrested," Krone said. "To ignore the fact that people are being exonerated and to ignore the fact that our justice system is getting it wrong, to ignore the fact that police and prosecutors can perjure themselves - to ignore that fact puts us all at danger in our justice system if we are caught up in that."
Note: 100 innocent people who would have been executed have been exonerated. How can this happen? Can we trust our judicial system with all of its corruption to sentence people to death? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing judicial system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
US journalist Amy Goodman is facing charges of participating in a "riot" after filming Native American-led protests over an oil pipeline in North Dakota. The Democracy Now! reporter said she would surrender to authorities on Monday in response to the charge. District Judge John Grinsteiner will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to support the riot charge. Ms Goodman filmed the crackdown on protesters by authorities last month. "I wasn't trespassing, I wasn't engaging in a riot, I was doing my job as a journalist by covering a violent attack on Native American protesters," Ms Goodman said. The charge relates to her Democracy Now! coverage of the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline on 3 September. Earlier this month US actress Shailene Woodley was arrested at a construction site for broadcasting the North Dakota protests on Facebook. The video by the Divergent star was viewed more than 2.4 million times on social media within hours of being posted. The Dakota Access oil pipeline project, which will cross four states, has drawn huge protests. Native Americans have halted its construction in North Dakota, saying it will desecrate sacred land and damage the environment.
Note: A judge later rejected the riot charge for Goodman, but the fact that she was even accused speaks volumes. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Activists have no right to force public disclosure of the names of Latin American military leaders trained at a U.S. Army installation formerly known as the School of the Americas, a divided federal appeals court ruled Friday. A federal judge had ruled in 2013 that the government must identify students and instructors at the school at Fort Benning, Ga., whose graduates have included Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega and Salvadoran death squad leader Roberto d’Aubuisson. But in a 2-1 ruling Friday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ... said the information had little public value, and that disclosure would invade the trainees’ privacy. “There are many groups in foreign countries that would seek to harm those who are publicly associated with the United States military,” Judge Sandra Ikuta said in the majority opinion. She also cited assurances by the Defense Department and an oversight board that the school ... is complying with a federal law that requires it to instruct students about human rights. Federal law additionally requires the department to deny enrollment to any member of a military unit that has committed a “gross violation of human rights,” Ikuta said. Dissenting Judge Paul Watford said the majority was taking the government’s word that everything was in order — a “fox-guarding-the-henhouse notion” — despite past revelations of abuses by School of the Americas graduates. He noted that past training materials disclosed by the Pentagon in 1996 included manuals providing “instruction on torturing and executing insurgents.”
Note: The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas, graduated more than 500 human rights abusers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
America has been enmeshed in a wrenching discussion about how the police treat young black men. But this week’s blistering report from the Justice Department on police bias in Baltimore also exposed a different, though related, concern: how the police in that majority-black city treat women, especially victims of sexual assault. In six pages of the 163-page report documenting how Baltimore police officers have systematically violated the rights of African-Americans, the Justice Department also painted a picture of a police culture deeply dismissive of sexual assault victims and hostile toward prostitutes and transgender people. It branded the Baltimore Police Department’s response to sexual assault cases “grossly inadequate.” Baltimore officers sometimes humiliated women who tried to report sexual assault, often failed to gather basic evidence, and disregarded some complaints filed by prostitutes. Some officers blamed victims or discouraged them from identifying their assailants. And the culture seemed to extend to prosecutors, investigators found. In one email exchange, a prosecutor referred to a woman who had reported a sexual assault as a “conniving little whore.” A police officer, using a common text-message expression for laughing heartily, wrote back: “Lmao! I feel the same.” Other “pattern or practice” investigations of police departments - including in New Orleans; Puerto Rico; and Missoula, Mont. - have also identified gender bias.
Eric Holder has long insisted that he tried really hard when he was attorney general to make criminal cases against big banks in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis. [Yet Holder] held his department back [according to] a new, thoroughly-documented report from the House Financial Services Committee. Prosecutors in 2012 wanted to criminally charge the global bank HSBC for facilitating money laundering for Mexican drug lords and terrorist groups. But Holder said no. In September 2012, the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS) formally recommended that HSBC be prosecuted for its numerous financial crimes. From 2006 to 2010, HSBC failed to monitor billions of dollars of U.S. dollar purchases with drug trafficking proceeds in Mexico. It also conducted business going back to the mid-1990s on behalf of customers in Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Burma, while they were under sanctions. Such transactions were banned by U.S. law. AFMLS Chief Jennifer Shasky wanted to seek a guilty plea for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. On November 7, Holder presented HSBC with a “take it or leave it” offer of a deferred prosecution agreement, which would involve a cash settlement and future monitoring of HSBC. No guilty plea was required. HSBC [then] successfully negotiated to have individual executives immunized from prosecution. Lack of desire at the highest levels of the Justice Department was ... the primary reason that no prosecutions took place.
Note: While attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder consistently refused to prosecute Wall Street. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.
At a time of justified concern about arbitrary police stops, the Supreme Court on Monday made such harassment more likely. By a 5-3 vote, the court upheld the search of a drug defendant that grew out of a stop that the state conceded was unlawful. The decision in a Utah case pokes yet another hole in an important principle: that courts may not consider evidence that is the result of an illegal search or seizure – the so-called “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Edward Strieff was stopped by a police officer after he walked out of a house in South Salt Lake City. After Strieff identified himself, the officer ran his name through a database and discovered an outstanding arrest warrant for a traffic violation. The officer then arrested Strieff on that charge and searched him, finding a bag containing methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. The state subsequently admitted that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop Strieff, as required under Supreme Court interpretations of the 4th Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas concluded that it didn’t matter if the officer had no basis on which to stop Strieff; the evidence was admissible anyway. The decision could have far-reaching consequences. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a powerful dissent: “This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants - even if you are doing nothing wrong. If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop.”
The Justice Department is asking local courts across the country to be wary of how they slap poor defendants with fines and fees. In a letter ... to the chief judges and court administrators in all 50 states, Vanita Gupta, the head of the department’s Civil Rights Division, and Lisa Foster, director of the Office for Access to Justice, wrote that illegal enforcement of fines and fees had been receiving increased attention. “Individuals may confront escalating debt; face repeated, unnecessary incarceration for nonpayment despite posing no danger to the community; lose their jobs; and become trapped in cycles of poverty that can be nearly impossible to escape,” Gupta and Foster wrote. “Furthermore, in addition to being unlawful, to the extent that these practices are geared ... toward raising revenue, they can cast doubt on the impartiality of the tribunal and erode trust between local governments and their constituents.” The White House and the department convened a summit on the issue in December. The Justice Department alleged in a recent lawsuit that officers in Ferguson, Mo., were violating citizens’ civil rights in part because their policing tactics were meant to generate revenue. The financial penalties - typically for minor misdemeanors, traffic infractions or violations of city code - disproportionately affect the poor, who cannot afford to pay immediately and are then hit with arrest warrants or additional penalties. Some towns [derive] 40 percent or more of their annual revenue from [these] petty fines and fees.
Note: Along with relying on municipal fines and fees that disproportionately impact the poor, some police departments simply steal from people when times get tough. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and income inequality.
When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died 12 days ago at a West Texas ranch, he was among high-ranking members of an exclusive fraternity for hunters called the International Order of St. Hubertus, an Austrian society that dates back to the 1600s. The names of the 35 other guests at the remote resort [remain] largely unknown. Members of the worldwide, male-only society wear dark-green robes emblazoned with a large cross. Some hold titles, such as Grand Master, Prior and Knight Grand Officer. Cibolo Creek Ranch owner John Poindexter and C. Allen Foster, a prominent Washington lawyer who traveled to the ranch with Scalia by private plane, hold leadership positions within the Order. In 1695, Count Franz Anton von Sporck founded the society in Bohemia, which is in modern-day Czech Republic. The society’s U.S. chapter launched in 1966 at the famous Bohemian Club in San Francisco, which is associated with the all-male Bohemian Grove - one of the most well-known secret societies in the country. In 2010, Poindexter hosted a group of 53 members of the Houston chapter of the International Order of St. Hubertus at the Cibolo Creek Ranch. In a statement after Scalia died, the U.S. Marshals Service said that Scalia had declined a security detail while at the ranch.
Pope Francis will meet more than 100 men and women from a dangerously overcrowded prison population. Some 80% of those inmates at that prison, [Philadelphia's] Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF), have not yet been convicted of the crime with which they were charged. Most of them are behind bars because they have not paid or cannot afford to pay bail while awaiting trial. Francis has visited prisons in multiple countries. This particular prison ... presents an extreme microcosm of two of the most pressing national prison problems: pretrial detention and overcrowding. The prison system – particularly in holding those who cannot afford to pay bail – targets the very people Pope Francis has shown the most concern for: the poor. With 2.2 million people incarcerated mostly in state prisons and jails like Philadelphia’s, the US now ... spends about $80bn on prisons. At any given time, between 400,000 to 500,000 of those people [are] held in pretrial or midtrial detention, sometimes for weeks, months and even years, usually because they cannot afford to pay bail. The Justice Department estimates that two-thirds of those inmates are non-dangerous defendants.
The Obama administration has ruled that inspectors general have to get permission from the agency they’re monitoring for access to wiretaps, grand jury and credit information, a decision that immediately was denounced by watchdogs and lawmakers. The Justice Department’s inspector general said the 58-page ruling ... will undermine his ability to do his job rooting out fraud and corruption. “Without such access, our office’s ability to conduct its work will be significantly impaired,” Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said in a statement. His disapproval was followed by a bipartisan condemnation from four congressional leaders whose committees have oversight over DOJ. [In] 2010 ... the FBI started restricting the DOJ inspector general’s access to documents whose confidentiality is protected by law, including grand jury testimony and wiretaps. The IG’s review of the controversial Fast and Furious case, the failed sting operation that lost track of more than 1,000 government-issued guns, one of which was used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent, was delayed. Other investigations have lagged, Horowitz testified before Congress last February, complaining that the FBI has failed to turn over key records in several whistleblower cases. “Imagine if we had a DOJ (inspector general) during Watergate looking at the FBI’s conduct and the Attorney General had this opinion to deny or delay access to this kind of information,” said Brian Miller, the former inspector general at the General Services Administration.
Note: Last year, President Obama invoked executive privilege in an attempt to cover up the Fast and Furious scandal. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
(senior federal district judge) Jed A. Rakoff’s essay in The New York Review of Books ... tries to explain why innocent people so often plead guilty. At least 20,000 people have pled guilty to and gone to jail for felonies they did not commit — if you very conservatively take criminologists’ lowest estimates, and cut them in half. Rakoff identifies three ways the criminal justice system obstructs its own “truth seeking mechanism,” a trial by jury: 1. By embracing the increasingly popular plea bargain. 97 percent of federal trials were resolved last year through plea bargain. Plea bargains ... are weighted largely in favor of the prosecutor. The notion that a plea bargain is a contractual mediation between two relatively equal parties, Rakoff argues, “is a total myth”. 2. Through mandatory minimum sentences. The combination of mandatory sentences and prosecutorial discretion forces the defendant [to] run the risk of losing the case and serve the maximum sentence or take a reduced charge, at a reduced sentence, even when innocent. 3. Via the unfettered rise of prosecutorial power. Prosecutors have far more power ... than any other party involved in the criminal justice system. The one mechanism that could check their power is the jury trial, which is becoming “virtually extinct” in federal court, Rakoff writes. One possible solution to all these problems — aside from repealing mandatory minimum sentences and generally reducing the severity of sentences — is greater judicial oversight.
Jim Risen is gruff. Attorney General Eric Holder wants to force Risen to testify and reveal the identity of his confidential source on a story he had in his 2006 book concerning a bungled C.I.A. operation during the Clinton administration in which agents might have inadvertently helped Iran develop its nuclear weapon program. The tale made the C.I.A. look silly, which may have been more of a sore point than a threat to national security. But Bush officials, no doubt still smarting from Risen’s revelation of their illegal wiretapping, zeroed in on a disillusioned former C.I.A. agent named Jeffrey Sterling as the source of the Iran story. The subpoena forcing Risen’s testimony expired in 2009, and to the surprise of just about everybody, the constitutional law professor’s administration renewed it — kicking off its strange and awful aggression against reporters and whistle-blowers. Why don’t they back off Risen? How can [Obama] use the Espionage Act to throw reporters and whistle-blowers in jail even as he defends the intelligence operatives who “tortured some folks,” and coddles his C.I.A. chief, John Brennan, who spied on the Senate and then lied to the senators he spied on about it? “It’s hypocritical,” Risen said. “A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.” Risen points to recent stories about the administration pressing an unprecedented initiative known as the Insider Threat Program.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government secrecy news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Supreme Court has been quietly revising its decisions years after they were issued, altering the law of the land without public notice. The revisions include “truly substantive changes in factual statements and legal reasoning,” said Richard J. Lazarus, a law professor at Harvard and the author of a new study examining the phenomenon. The court’s secretive editing process has led judges and law professors astray, causing them to rely on passages that were later scrubbed from the official record. The widening public access to online versions of the court’s decisions, some of which do not reflect the final wording, has made the longstanding problem more pronounced. Unannounced changes have not reversed decisions outright, but they have withdrawn conclusions on significant points of law. The larger point, said Jeffrey L. Fisher, a law professor at Stanford, is that Supreme Court decisions are parsed by judges and scholars with exceptional care. “In Supreme Court opinions, every word matters,” he said. “When they’re changing the wording of opinions, they’re basically rewriting the law.” The court does warn readers that early versions of its decisions, available at the courthouse and on the court’s website, are works in progress. A small-print notice says that “this opinion is subject to formal revision before publication,” and it asks readers to notify the court of “any typographical or other formal errors.” But ... the court almost never notes when a change has been made, much less specifies what it was. And many changes do not seem merely typographical or formal.
The [New York] Times published an article [on April 17] about an Arab citizen of Israel – a 23-year-old journalist and Palestinian rights advocate – who was detained by Israeli authorities last weekend. The man, Majd Kayyal, was not allowed a lawyer until Wednesday night, and he was interrogated for five days on suspicion that he was being recruited by a “hostile organization” after he visited Lebanon. He was released on Thursday but ordered to be kept under house arrest. The Times article mentions a court-imposed gag order that was lifted on [April 17]. What it doesn’t mention is that The Times, too, is subject to such gag orders. According to its bureau chief in Jerusalem, Jodi Rudoren, that is true. The Times is “indeed, bound by gag orders,” Ms. Rudoren said. She said that the situation is analogous to abiding by traffic rules or any other laws of the land, and that two of her predecessors in the bureau chief position affirmed to her this week that The Times has been subject to gag orders in the past. The Times’s newsroom lawyer, David McCraw, [said] that he was consulted by Times journalists this week as they considered publishing an article about Mr. Kayyal’s arrest. Although the situation is somewhat murky, he said, “the general understanding among legal counsel in other countries is that local law would apply to foreign media.” “I’ve never seen us actually challenge it,” Mr. McCraw said. Meanwhile, an online publication called The Electronic Intifada published a number of articles about Mr. Kayyal’s detention over the past several days. The author of those articles, Ali Abunimah, said in an email that “readers have a right to know when [the New York Times] is complying with government-imposed censorship.”
Note: For more on mainstream media cover-ups, see the deeply revealing reports available here.
In 2009, when Robert H Richard IV, an unemployed heir to the DuPont family fortune, pled guilty to fourth-degree rape of his three-year-old daughter, a judge spared him a justifiable sentence – indeed, only put Richard on probation – because she figured this 1-percenter would "not fare well" in a prison setting. Richard’s ex-wife filed a new lawsuit accusing him of also sexually abusing their son. Since then, the original verdict has been fueling some angry speculation ... that the defendant's wealth and status may have played a role in his lenient sentencing. Inequality defines our criminal justice system just as it defines our society. It always has and it always will until we do something about it. America incarcerates more people than any other country on the planet, with over 2m currently in prison and more than 7m under some form of correctional supervision. More than 60% are racial and ethnic minorities, and the vast majority are poor. There is an abundance of evidence ... that both conscious and unconscious bias permeate every aspect of the criminal justice system, from arrests to sentencing and beyond. Unsurprisingly, this bias works in favor of wealthy (and white) defendants, while poor minorities routinely suffer. In August of last year the Sentencing Project, a non-profit devoted to criminal justice reform, released a comprehensive report on bias in the system. This is the sentence you need to remember: "The United States in effect operates two distinct criminal justice systems: one for wealthy people and another for poor people and minorities."
Note: For more on systemic injustice within the US prison/industrial complex, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A top judge campaigned to support a paedophile group that tried to legalise sex with children, a newspaper claims. The Mail on Sunday said Lord Justice Fulford was a founder member of a campaign to defend the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE). The judge told the BBC he had "no memory" of this, but had in the 1970s been involved with a civil liberties group to which PIE was affiliated. He said he had never supported PIE and child abuse was "wholly wrong". The Daily Mail has run a series of articles questioning the links between PIE and civil liberties group the National Council for Civil Liberties during the 1970s and early 1980s. PIE had called for greater tolerance and paedophile "rights" and campaigned for a lowering of the age of consent to 10. Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, her husband and fellow Labour MP Jack Dromey and former Labour health secretary Patricia Hewitt were all prominent figures in the NCCL, which granted PIE affiliate status in 1975. Ms Hewitt has apologised for having "got it wrong", while Mr Dromey has accused the Daily Mail of "dirty, gutter journalism". Ms Harman has said she "regrets" the links between the two groups but she has "nothing to apologise for". The Mail on Sunday said its investigation had found that Lord Justice Fulford, a member of the Privy Council, was a founder member of a campaign set up to defend PIE against criminal charges.
Note: If you are ready to see how investigations into a massive child sex abuse ring have led to the highest levels of government, watch the suppressed Discovery Channel documentary "Conspiracy of Silence," available here. For more on sexual abuse scandals, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Should wealthy litigants be able to rent state judges and courthouses to decide cases in private and keep the results secret? The answer should be an easy no, but if the judges of Delaware’s Chancery Court persuade the United States Supreme Court to take their case and reverse lower federal court rulings outlawing that practice, corporations will, in Delaware, be able to do just that. The state has long been a magnet for corporate litigation because of its welcoming tax structures and the court’s business expertise. Yet the State Legislature became concerned that Delaware was losing its “pre-eminence” in corporate litigation to a growing market in private dispute resolution. To compete, Delaware passed a law in 2009 offering new privileges to well-heeled businesses. If litigants had at least $1 million at stake and were willing to pay $12,000 in filing fees and $6,000 a day thereafter, they could use Delaware’s chancery judges and courtrooms for what was called an “arbitration” that produced enforceable legal judgments. Instead of open proceedings, filings would not be docketed, the courtroom would be closed to the public and the outcome would be secret. The Delaware Supreme Court could review judgments, but that court has not indicated whether appeals would also be confidential. A group called the Coalition for Open Government, including news and civic organizations, objected that Delaware’s legislation was unconstitutional. In 2012, a federal judge agreed that the law violated the public’s right of access to civil proceedings under the First Amendment.
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A federal judge in Newark has thrown out a lawsuit against the New York Police Department for spying on New Jersey Muslims, saying if anyone was at fault, it was the Associated Press for telling people about it. In his ruling ... U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini simultaneously demonstrated the willingness of the judiciary to give law enforcement alarming latitude in the name of fighting terror, greenlighted the targeting of Muslims based solely on their religious beliefs, and blamed the media for upsetting people by telling them what their government was doing. The NYPD’s clandestine spying on daily life in Muslim communities in the region — with no probable cause, and nothing to show for it — was exposed in a Pulitzer-Prize winning series of stories by the AP. The stories described infiltration and surveillance of at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools, and two Muslim student associations in New Jersey alone. In a cursory, 10-page ruling issued before even hearing oral arguments, Martini essentially said that what the targets didn’t know didn’t hurt them: "None of the Plaintiffs’ injuries arose until after the Associated Press released unredacted, confidential NYPD documents and articles expressing its own interpretation of those documents. Nowhere in the Complaint do Plaintiffs allege that they suffered harm prior to the unauthorized release of the documents by the Associated Press. This confirms that Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries flow from the Associated Press’s unauthorized disclosure of the documents. The harms are not “fairly traceable” to any act of surveillance."
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A secret court order that authorised a massive trawl by the National Security Agency of Americans' email and internet data was published for the first time on [November 18], among a trove of documents that also revealed a judge's concern that the NSA "continuously" and "systematically" violated the limits placed on the program. Another later court order found that what it called "systemic overcollection" had taken place. In a heavily redacted opinion Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the former presiding judge of the FISA court, placed legal weight on the methods of surveillance employed by the NSA, which had never before collected the internet data of “an enormous volume of communications”. The methods, known as pen registers and trap-and-trace devices, record the incoming and outgoing routing information of communications. Kollar-Kotelly ruled that acquiring the metadata, and not the content, of email and internet usage in bulk was harmonious with the “purpose” of Congress and prior court rulings – even though no surveillance statute ever authorized it and top officials at the Justice Department and the FBI threatened to resign in 2004 over what they considered its dubious legality. The type of data collected under the program included information on the "to", "from" and "bcc" lines of an email rather than the content. Metadata, wrote Kollar-Kotelly, enjoyed no protection under the fourth amendment to the US constitution, a precedent established by the Supreme Court in 1979 in a single case on which the NSA relies currently.
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
[The] military criminal justice system ... frequently grants impunity to [sex] offenders and punishes victims -- the outcome of a fiercely guarded power of commanders who wield broad discretion over the handling of sex crimes in their ranks. From the accounts of sexual assault survivors in every branch of the military, a stark panorama emerges: Many victims were drugged or forced to drink and were raped, attacked as they slept, beaten unconscious and coerced into sex by their superiors. They were strongly discouraged from disclosing the crimes, or forced to report assaults to commanders who are closely connected to the accused. Few suspects face criminal punishment. Of 3,374 reports of sexual assault last year involving 2,900 accused offenders, only 302 went to courts-martial and 238 were convicted, the Defense Department says. Meanwhile, 286 offenders received nonjudicial or administrative punishment or discharges, allowing them to dodge a criminal mark on their record. In 70 cases, suspects slated for possible courts-martial were allowed to quit their jobs to avoid charges. Prison sentences are rare. Only 177 perpetrators were sentenced to confinement. But the most jarring statistic: about half of all convicted sex offenders were not automatically expelled from the armed services. For all the public outrage sparked by sexual abuses at the Navy Tailhook convention in 1991, the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1996 and the Air Force Academy in 2003, the military criminal justice system has failed to stem an epidemic of sexual assaults, reaching an estimated 26,000 last year.
The Supreme Court usually isn't friendly toward questionable patents, but it came down overwhelmingly on the side of agribusiness giant Monsanto [on April 22] in a case that's bound to resonate throughout the biotechnology industry. The court ruled unanimously that an Indiana farmer violated Monsanto's patent on genetically modified soybeans when he culled some from a grain elevator and used them to replant his own crop in future years. "If simple copying were a protected use, a patent would plummet in value after the first sale of the first item containing the invention," Justice Elena Kagan ruled in a short 10-page opinion. Who it helps: Inventors and entrepreneurs who have patents on products that can be self-replicated, from computer software to cell lines. Who it hurts: Consumers paying high prices. The Center for Food Safety released a report in February that showed three corporations control much of the global commercial seed market. It found that from 1995-2011, the average cost to plant 1 acre of soybeans rose 325%. Center for Food Safety executive director Andrew Kimbrell called the ruling a setback for farmers. "The court chose to protect Monsanto over farmers," he said. "The court's ruling is contrary to logic and to agronomics, because it improperly attributes seeds' reproduction to farmers, rather than nature."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
Even people used to the closeness of the US administration and food giants like Monsanto have been shocked by the latest demonstration of the GM industry's political muscle. Little-noticed in Europe or outside the US, President Barack Obama last week signed off what has become widely known as "the Monsanto Protection Act", technically the Farmer Assurance Provision rider in HR 933: Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2013. According to an array of food and consumer groups, organic farmers, civil liberty and trade unions and others, this hijacks the constitution, sets a legal precedent and puts Monsanto and other biotech companies above the federal courts. It means, they say, that not even the US government can now stop the sale, planting, harvest or distribution of any GM seed, even if it is linked to illness or environmental problems. The backlash has been furious. A Food Democracy Now petition has attracted 250,000 names. The only good news, say the opponents, is that because the "Monsanto Protection Act" was part of the much wider spending bill, it will formally expire in September. The bad news however is that the precedent has been set and it is unlikely that the world's largest seed company and the main driver of the divisive GM technology will ever agree to give up its new legal protection. The company, in effect, now rules.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the harm caused by GMOs, click here.
Should anyone, or any corporation, control a product of life? The journey of a 75-year-old Indiana farmer to the [Supreme Court] began rather uneventfully. Vernon Hugh Bowman purchased an undifferentiated mix of soybean seeds from a grain elevator, planted the seeds and then saved seed from the resulting harvest to replant another crop. Finding that Bowman's crops were largely the progeny of its genetically engineered proprietary soybean seed, Monsanto sued the farmer for patent infringement. The case [Bowman vs. Monsanto Co.] is a remarkable reflection on recent fundamental changes in farming. In the 200-plus years since the founding of this country, and for millenniums before that, seeds have been part of the public domain — available for farmers to exchange, save, modify through plant breeding and replant. Through this process, farmers developed a diverse array of plants that could thrive in various geographies, soils, climates and ecosystems. But today this history of seeds is seemingly forgotten in light of a patent system that, since the mid-1980s, has allowed corporations to own products of life. Although Monsanto and other agrochemical companies assert that they need the current patent system to invent better seeds, the counterargument is that splicing an already existing gene or other DNA into a plant and thereby transferring a new trait to that plant is not a novel invention. A soybean, for example, has more than 46,000 genes. Properties of these genes are the product of centuries of plant breeding and should not, many argue, become the product of a corporation. Instead, these genes should remain in the public domain.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the destructive impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), click here.
A former judge has been sentenced to more than 26 years in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to gain power and control politics in an eastern Kentucky county. U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves said 67-year-old former Clay County Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle headed the conspiracy and therefore got the longest sentence so far. Maricle and seven others were convicted in March 2010 of multiple charges, including racketeering, money laundering and voter fraud. Prosecutors say more than 8,000 people were paid $50 each for their votes in one election and 150 votes were stolen by changing voting machines.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on electoral fraud, click here.
A federal appeals court ... dismissed a lawsuit [on September 8] accusing a Bay Area aviation-planning company of arranging CIA flights of [captives] to overseas dungeons. The ruling is a victory for both President George W. Bush's administration, which directed the rendition program and acknowledged its existence, and the Obama administration, which ... argued that it was too sensitive to be litigated in court. The American Civil Liberties Union said it would appeal to the Supreme Court. The high court has refused to review two rulings by other appeals courts dismissing suits against the government by men who said they were abducted by the CIA and flown to foreign torture chambers. "Not a single victim of the Bush administration's torture program has had his day in court," ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner said. Jeppesen, a Boeing Co. subsidiary, was described in a 2007 Council of Europe report as the CIA's aviation services provider. In a court declaration in the current suit, a company employee quoted a director as telling staff members in 2006 that Jeppesen handled the CIA's "torture flights." Dissenting Judge Michael Hawkins said the courts should decide legal disputes rather than "permitting the executive to police its own errors." He also said the court should have kept the case alive and required the government to show why specific evidence should remain secret.
Bush administration officials came up with all kinds of ridiculously offensive rationalizations for torturing prisoners. Itâ€™s not torture if you donâ€™t mean it to be. Itâ€™s not torture if you donâ€™t nearly kill the victim. Itâ€™s not torture if the president says itâ€™s not torture. It was deeply distressing to watch the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sink to that standard in April when it dismissed a civil case brought by four former GuantĂˇnamo detainees never charged with any offense. The court said former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the senior military officers charged in the complaint could not be held responsible for violating the plaintiffsâ€™ rights because at the time of their detention ... it was not â€śclearly establishedâ€ť that torture was illegal. The Supreme Court could have corrected that outlandish reading of the Constitution, legal precedent, and domestic and international statutes and treaties. Instead, last month, the justices abdicated their legal and moral duty and declined to review the case. The justices surely understood that their failure to accept the case would further undermine the rule of law. In effect, the Supreme Court has granted the government immunity for subjecting people in its custody to terrible mistreatment. It has deprived victims of a remedy and Americans of government accountability, while further damaging the countryâ€™s standing in the world.
Note: For many reliable reports on the torture used by governments pursuing the "war on terror", click here.
The last time the government embarked on a major vaccine campaign against a new swine flu, thousands filed claims contending they suffered side effects from the shots. This time, the government has already taken steps to head that off. Vaccine makers and federal officials will be immune from lawsuits that result from any new swine flu vaccine, under a document signed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, government health officials said Friday. Since the 1980s, the government has protected vaccine makers against lawsuits over the use of childhood vaccines. The document signed by Sebelius last month grants immunity to those making a swine flu vaccine, under the provisions of a 2006 law for public health emergencies. It allows for a compensation fund, if needed. The government takes such steps to encourage drug companies to make vaccines, and it's worked. Federal officials have contracted with five manufacturers to make a swine flu vaccine. The last time the government faced a new swine flu virus was in 1976. Federal officials vaccinated 40 million Americans during a national campaign. A pandemic never materialized, but thousands who got the shots filed injury claims, saying they suffered a paralyzing condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome or other side effects.
Note: Note for a powerfully revealing CBS report on blatant fear mongering and profiteering from the 1976 swine flue scare, click here. For many revealing reports on corruption in the medical/governmental complex, click here.
In issuing a deliberately narrow ruling yesterday in a controversial case involving whales and the U.S. Navy, the Supreme Court strongly indicated that it intends to defer to the military in future disputes pitting national security against environmental concerns. The justices voted 6 to 3 to lift restrictions on the Navy's use of sonar off the Southern California coast, backing the military in a longstanding battle over whether anti-submarine training harms marine mammals. Environmentalists say the exercises disrupt habitats and leave the mammals with permanent hearing loss and decompression sickness. But the Navy argued that the training missions are essential to detecting a new generation of "quiet" submarines deployed by China, North Korea and other potential adversaries. "We do not discount the importance of plaintiffs' ecological, scientific, and recreational interests in marine mammals," Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in the first decision of the court's current term. "Those interests, however, are plainly outweighed by the Navy's need to conduct realistic training exercises to ensure that it is able to neutralize the threat posed by enemy submarines." Although the majority tailored its decision on narrow legal grounds and indicated that future environmental disputes will be decided on a case-by-case basis, the court made sweeping statements of deference to military judgments. Roberts unquestioningly accepted the assertion of top Navy officers that the exercises "are of utmost importance to the Navy and the Nation," writing that "the proper determination of where the public interest lies does not strike us as a close question."
A medical examiner must change her autopsy findings to delete any reference that stun guns contributed to the deaths of three people involved in confrontations with law enforcement officers, a judge ruled. [The] decision was a victory for Taser International Inc., which had challenged rulings by Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler, including a case in which five sheriff's deputies are charged in the death a jail inmate who was restrained by the wrists and ankles and hit with pepper spray and a stun gun. Kohler ruled that the 2006 death of Mark McCullaugh Jr., 28, was a homicide and that he died from asphyxiation due to the "combined effects of chemical, mechanical and electrical restraint." Visiting Judge Ted Schneiderman said in his ruling that there was no expert evidence to indicate that Taser devices impaired McCullaugh's respiration. "More likely, the death was due to a fatal cardiac arrhythmia brought on by severe heart disease," the judge wrote. Schneiderman ordered Kohler to rule McCullaugh's death undetermined and to delete any references to homicide. The judge also said references to stun guns contributing to the deaths of two other men must be deleted from autopsy findings. Steve Tuttle, vice president of communications for Taser International, said the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company is pleased with Schneiderman's ruling. John Manley, a Summit County prosecutor who represented Kohler, said the judge's order went too far. The county is considering an appeal, he said. "Taser is quite a force to be reckoned with and does everything to protect their golden egg, which is the Model X26," Manley said.
Note: This AP article was not picked up by any major or even local media other than this Phoenix, AZ talk radio station. Considering the lack of reporting on Taser International's stunning 69 victories before its first loss in the courts, do you think there might be some bias in the news coverage?
An elementary-school teacher who was dismissed after telling her class on the eve of the Iraq war that "I honk for peace" lost [her] U.S. Supreme Court appeal. The justices ... denied a hearing to Deborah Mayer, who had appealed lower-court decisions upholding an Indiana school district's refusal to renew her contract in June 2003. The most-recent ruling, by a federal appeals court in Chicago, said teachers in public schools have no constitutional right to express personal opinions in the classroom. A teacher's speech is "the commodity she sells to an employer in exchange for her salary," the [court] said in January. "The Constitution does not enable teachers to present personal views to captive audiences against the instructions of elected officials." The appellate ruling is ... one of a series of recent decisions taking a narrow view of free speech for teachers, other government employees and students. Mayer, who now teaches sixth grade in Florida, was distraught. "I don't know why anybody would want to be a teacher if you can be fired for saying four little words," she said Monday. "I'm supposed to teach the Constitution to my students. I'm supposed to tell them that the Constitution guarantees free speech. How am I going to justify that?" She said her class of fourth- through sixth-graders was discussing an article in the children's edition of Time magazine, part of the school-approved curriculum, on protests against U.S. preparations for an invasion of Iraq in January 2003. When a student asked her whether she took part in demonstrations, Mayer said, she replied that she blew her horn whenever she saw a "Honk for Peace" sign, and that peaceful solutions should be sought before going to war. After a parent complained, the principal ordered Mayer never to discuss the war or her political views in class.
Note: To read further reliable reports of threats to our civil liberties, click here.
Not all stops are created equal. Sometimes the police pull people over for traffic-safety reasons – for speeding or running a red light, for example. More nefariously, recent reports ... have shown that police departments ... have used traffic enforcement to generate fines to fund local government. But [another] kind of stop – an investigatory or pretext stop – uses the traffic laws to uncover more serious crime. Such stops (and subsequent searches) exploded in popularity in the 1990s. Pretext stops are responsible for most of the racial disparity in traffic stops in the US. Political scientist Charles Epp found that when the police are actually enforcing traffic safety laws, they tend to do so without regard to race. But when they are carrying out investigatory or pretext stops, they are much more likely to stop black and other minority drivers: black people are about two-and-a-half times more likely to be pulled over for pretext stops. The damage from a pretext stop – of a driver, a pedestrian, a loiterer – doesn’t end with the stop itself. The pretext-stop regime ... propels disparities in the rest of the criminal justice system. By ... 2000, we had been steadily, incrementally, building the punitive criminal justice system we still live with today. Most of the pieces – the aggressive prosecutions and policing, longer sentences, prison-building, collateral consequences of convictions such as losing the right to vote or the chance to live in public housing – had been put in place. The years since [have] been primarily dedicated to maintaining ... that basic architecture.
Pope Francis has changed Catholic Church teaching to fully reject the death penalty, the Vatican announced Thursday, saying it would work to abolish capital punishment worldwide. The revision to several sentences of the catechism, the compendium of Catholic beliefs, has the potential to recast debates around the world on how to handle those accused of the most heinous crimes. The church’s updated teaching describes capital punishment as “inadmissible” and an attack on the “dignity of the person.” Previously, the church allowed for the death penalty in very rare cases, only as a means of “defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” Francis has for years been a vocal critic of the death penalty, calling it an “inhuman measure.” The Argentine pontiff has pointed to the church’s stance on the death penalty as evidence of how the Vatican can evolve: The church for centuries permitted executions, but in 1997, John Paul II dramatically narrowed the standards for when the punishment was permissible. Francis’s latest move places the issue toward the forefront of his own efforts to overhaul and modernize the Roman Catholic Church’s approach to social justice. The full political significance of the new teaching stands to emerge slowly, as priests and bishops speak more clearly about the death penalty to planet’s 1.2 billion Catholics. Because the practice has already been abolished in most countries with large Catholic populations ... the United States is among the places where the shift could have the greatest consequence.
Note: In 2014, a major study found that about 300 wrongfully-convicted people had been executed in the US between 1973 and 2004. from reliable major media sources. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
As has happened before in Florida, "stand your ground" is being appropriately scrutinized in the aftermath of the shocking shooting death of Markeis McGlockton, an unarmed black man who was gunned down for trying to protect his family - including his young children - in a dispute over a handicapped parking space. The local sheriff concluded that shooter Michael Drejka pulled the trigger because he was in fear, and therefore stand your ground applied. According to this inexplicable interpretation of the law, Drejka needed to defend himself from a man who ... was backing away from the confrontation. Florida’s stand your ground law emerged as an outgrowth of the traditional “castle doctrine,” which allowed individuals to defend their home (or “castle”) with whatever force was necessary. Somehow, that concept has been warped into a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card that is essentially a license to kill. Five members of Congress, including three U.S. senators, have called for the Department of Justice to investigate why stand-your-ground immunity was extended to a man carrying a concealed weapon who angrily approached a car ... and created a confrontation. Had McGlockton been the one to pull out a gun, there is no way stand your ground would have been extended to him, a man of color. The Journal of the American Medical Association has reported a significant increase in unlawful homicides since stand your ground was enacted in Florida in 2005.
Note: Watch the disturbing video of the incident at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
I was captured when I was in my 20s and brought to Guantanamo Bay in 2004, after more than two years in secret prisons. I have been imprisoned here without charges since then. I am now 43. Thirteen years ago, your country brought me here because of accusations about who I was. Confessions were beaten out of me in those secret prisons. I tried, but I am no longer trying to fight against those accusations from the past. What I am asking today is, how long is my punishment going to continue? Your president says there will be no more transfers from here. Am I going to die here? If I have committed crimes against the law, charge me. In 15 years, I have never been charged, and the worst things the government has said about me were extracted by force. The judge in my habeas case decided years ago that I had been subjected to physical and psychological abuse during my interrogations, and statements the government has wanted to use against me are not reliable. Even if I were cleared, it would not matter. There are men here who have been cleared for years who are sitting in prison next to me. Detainees here, all Muslim, have never had rights equal to other human beings. Even when we first won the right to challenge our detention, in the end, it became meaningless. It is hard for me to ... believe that laws will not be bent again to allow the government to win. But this week, I am joining a group of detainees here, all of us who have been held without charges for years, to try again to ask the courts for protection.
Note: The above was written by Sharqawi Al Hajj, a Yemeni citizen detained at Guantanamo Bay. For more along these lines, see the "10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture". For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
A couple in the town of Mesquite, [Texas] have spent the past several years trying to learn how and why their son died after being arrested by local police. [Kathy Dyer was told that her son] Graham had been out of his mind on LSD and had bitten one of the officers while they were taking him into custody, [and that] he’d seriously injured himself inside the police cruiser as they drove to the jail. After the funeral, his parents noticed items in the hospital records that didn’t match the police account the night he was arrested. So they asked police department for records. They were denied. Under state law, police agencies aren’t required to turn over records from investigations that don’t result in a conviction. Because Graham is dead, there would be no conviction. Graham’s parents did finally get ... videos [of the arrest]. They showed clear discrepancies between how her son died and how local police claim he died. He was Tasered repeatedly, including in the testicles, and put in a restraint chair. Even after Graham showed signs of distress, police waited more than two hours to call an ambulance. Before they had obtained the video, the Dyers had filed a complaint in federal court. It was quickly dismissed for being too vague. After the videos, a federal ... judge allowed the lawsuit to go forward. This problem isn’t limited to Texas. Law enforcement agencies know that federal courts require specificity in these types of lawsuits. So there’s a strong incentive to be as stingy with information as possible.
Tennie White, who was prosecuted by a joint team made up of attorneys from the Environmental Protection Agency and the environmental crimes division of the Justice Department, had spent her professional life exposing contamination. She was ... particularly vocal about protecting poor African-American communities. Before she was charged and prosecuted, White had spent much of her time volunteering for [the Coalition of Communities for Environmental Justice], an organization she had co-founded to help these Mississippians contend with pollution. She traveled throughout the state ... talking about environmental issues in black communities. So in 2012, when White was charged with fraud by the EPA, the organization she so often criticized, and the charges involved a company she had helped a community challenge, [those] who had been working closely with her felt they knew exactly what had happened. “She was framed,” said [White's former colleague Rev. Steve] Jamison. “It was that simple.” I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the EPA for all communications relating to the investigation of Tennie White in April 2016. The agency is supposed to resolve such requests within 20 business days, but I did not receive all the documents I requested. Nor did the EPA respond to my repeated requests to address the specifics of White’s case - and why her sentence for a crime of no environmental consequence was more severe than penalties for many others who caused serious harm.
Note: Despite its mandate to protect human health and the environment, the EPA has a long history of keeping the existence of toxic waste sites secret and preventing employees from talking with congressional investigators, reporters and the agency's own inspector general. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and health.
Most complaints of child sexual abuse in Malaysia do not lead to successful prosecutions. According to classified data Malaysian police compiled and shared with Reuters, 12,987 cases of child sexual abuse were reported to police between January 2012 and July of this year. Charges were filed in 2,189 cases, resulting in just 140 convictions. No details were disclosed in the cases where there were convictions. Child rights advocates have long pushed the government to publicly disclose data on child sexual abuse to increase awareness so action can be taken to address what they call a growing problem. A veil was lifted in June when a British court handed Richard Huckle 22 life sentences for abusing up to 200 babies and children, mostly in Malaysia, and sharing images of his crimes on the dark web. Child sexual abuse data ... is protected under Malaysia’s Official Secrets Act. The government provides data on child abuse only at the request of a member of parliament. In 17 years of operation, PS the Children, Malaysia’s biggest NGO dealing with child abuse, has seen zero convictions on the cases it has handled, its founder Madeleine Yong told Reuters. Malaysia does not have a law specifically prohibiting child pornography and defines rape narrowly as penile penetration. Australian detectives who investigate paedophiles in the region believe Malaysia has become one of Southeast Asia’s biggest centres for the transmission of child pornography on the Internet.
Note: Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this topic in the US. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
692 felony convictions in California ... were thrown out between 1989 and 2012 based on errors or misconduct by police, prosecutors, defense lawyers or judges, according to a new study by researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania. The report ... didn’t include misdemeanor cases, which amount to about 80 percent of all prosecutions, or juvenile cases. And it also excluded the costs of jailing people who were later released without charges, which may amount to $70 million a year, the report said. The study examined only records from California and ... looked at cases in which felony convictions were overturned and the defendants were later cleared. More than half the cases involved prosecutors’ wrongful withholding of evidence. One example was that of former Black Panther Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt. Pratt was convicted in 1972 of murdering schoolteacher Carolyn Olson [in 1968] and was sentenced to life in prison, based in part on [witness] testimony. He was freed in 1999 after a judge found that prosecutors had withheld evidence that the witness was an informant for the FBI, which was then trying to discredit Pratt as part of its Cointelpro campaign. The authors questioned long-standing laws that shield prosecutors from lawsuits by criminal defendants. They said they knew of no other profession that received immunity for “intentional wrongdoing that gravely injures another.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Law Department again has been sanctioned for withholding records involving a fatal police shooting, marking the eighth time in recent years a federal judge has formally punished the city [of Chicago] for failing to turn over potential evidence in a police misconduct lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Joan Gottschall on Tuesday ruled that the city acted in "bad faith" when it ignored a court order and made little effort to provide documents to the lawyer for the family of 20-year-old Divonte Young, who was shot and killed by an officer in 2012. In a sharply worded 24-page order, the judge criticized the city for its approach to discovery, the legal process that allows the two sides in a lawsuit to uncover relevant facts. "The City's cavalier attitude toward the discovery process ... warrant findings of willfulness, fault and bad faith," Gottschall wrote. In imposing her punishment, Gottschall ... stripped the city of legal protections that would have allowed its lawyers to withhold some documents from the Young family's lawyer. A Tribune investigation last year that analyzed nearly 450 cases alleging police misconduct since Emanuel took office found that a federal judge had to order the city to turn over potential evidence in nearly 1 of every 5 cases. The issue came to a head in January 2016, when a federal judge sanctioned one city lawyer for intentionally concealing evidence and ... took the rare step of tossing out a jury verdict in favor of the city and ordering a new trial.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
There were dozens of witnesses when a gunfight broke out on a street corner in Buffalo on Aug. 10, 1991. Torriano Jackson, 17, was killed. Valentino Dixon, then 21, was at the scene. Hours later, he was arrested. And in 1992, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to almost 40 years to life in prison. For years, Mr. Dixon fought that conviction from behind bars, insisting on his innocence. No physical evidence had ever connected him to the murder, and another man had confessed to it more than once. His murder conviction was vacated on Wednesday, and Mr. Dixon, 48, walked free. As he struggled to get his conviction overturned, Mr. Dixon got help from ... Martin Tankleff, who was imprisoned for 17 years after being wrongly convicted of murdering his parents. In prison, [Dixon] liked to draw detailed landscapes in colored pencil. Golf courses were a frequent subject. That caught the interest of journalists at Golf Digest, and the magazine profiled Mr. Dixon. In 2017, a new district attorney, John Flynn, took office in Erie County. And in 2018, a course called the Prison Reform Project was offered for the first time at Georgetown University ... with Mr. Tankleff [serving] as an adjunct professor. Three students chose Mr. Dixon’s case and gathered evidence. Their work helped Donald M. Thompson, a lawyer for Mr. Dixon, make his case to the district attorney’s office. Mr. Flynn, the district attorney, said the newly discovered evidence from various witnesses attesting to Mr. Dixon’s innocence was deemed credible.
Note: Read the Golf Digest profile featuring Mr. Dixon's artwork which brought much-needed attention to his wrongful incarceration. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A UK-based charity has warned that British tourists and expats in Dubai and across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) should not report incidents of rape after a woman who was allegedly gang raped was arrested and charged with “extramarital sex”. Detained in Dubai, an organisation that assists people who have become victims of injustice in the UAE, has warned against reporting rape or other crimes in the country because of the “manipulation when it comes to criminal accusations” and the “racist” preconceptions held against Western tourists. Radha Stirling, founder of the charity, said that following the recent case – as well as a number of other shocking incidents in recent years where rape victims have been detained in the UAE – she advises British tourists not to report crime. The latest case involves the arrest of a 25-year-old woman who was on holiday in Dubai in October when she was allegedly attacked by two British men, who allegedly befriended her and lured her to their hotel room before pinning her down and raping her while recording it on a phone. When the woman reported the rape at a police station, she was arrested for breaking Emirati laws against extramarital sex, while her attackers have since flown home to the UK. Her passport has reportedly been confiscated and she is prohibited from leaving the country. The prescribed punishments for extramarital sex in the UAE include imprisonment, deportation, floggings and stoning.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
Hundreds of activists gathered to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline on Thursday. Police with tanks and riot gear surrounded them and began making mass arrests. One officer on the loudspeaker warned the demonstrators not to shoot “bows and arrows”. For some Native American activists, the officer’s comment was the latest sign that a highly militarized police force has little understanding of indigenous culture. The notion that the criminal justice system is biased against Native American protesters came into sharp view hours later, when a jury in Portland, Oregon, issued a verdict of not guilty for white militia leaders who staged an armed occupation of federal land to protest government policies. The fact that protesters with guns were acquitted on the same day police arrested 141 “water protectors”, who have often relied on indigenous songs and prayers to convey their message, sparked a firestorm on social media. At the Standing Rock camps in North Dakota, where the fight against the $3.8bn oil pipeline is escalating ... Native Americans said the Oregon verdict was an infuriating and painful reminder that the law treats them differently – and that the odds are stacked against them in their ... battle to save their land. The ultra-conservative activists who seized the Malheur refuge were fighting against environmental restrictions aimed at protecting ... public lands. In North Dakota, the Native American-led movement is grounded in the idea that the land is sacred and must be preserved.
Note: For more on this under-reported movement, see this Los Angeles Times article and this article in the UK's Guardian. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Anguish over the abduction and death of girls as young as eight at the hands of a convicted sex offender, Marc Dutroux, together with persistent allegations of official cover-ups, has been revived by an announcement that [Jacques Langlois], the chief investigating magistrate in the case, wants to reopen medical evidence of sexual assault on the children. And, in further disclosures ... a book by [Marc Verwilghen], the highly respected chairman of a parliamentary inquiry into the case, claims that his commission's findings were muzzled by political and judicial leaders to prevent details emerging of complicity in the crimes. In August 1996, [the children's] bodies were found buried in Mr Dutroux's back garden in Charleroi. They had disappeared 14 months before, and had apparently starved to death, locked in a cell in Mr Dutroux's basement. The bodies of two teenage girls were also found buried in the garden, with that of Bernard Weinstein, an associate with whom he had fallen out. Two other teenage girls were found alive in the basement cell after the police, who had previously searched the property three times without noticing it, finally broke into the house. Although there is plenty of evidence that Mr Dutroux kidnapped the children ... Mr Langlois now apparently wants to establish whether he [or anyone else] also sexually assaulted them. One of the rescued girls, Sabine Dardenne, 12, who was locked up in the cell for three months, told police of being taken to a 'beautiful white house' by Mr Dutroux and being sexually assaulted.
Note: Explore more excellent research proving a major cover-up of this case. Read a highly revealing essay on several cases of pedophilia rings involving top politicians. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
This is a tale of two defendants and two systems of justice. Suspected of colluding with the Russian government, the former campaign manager for Donald Trump, [Paul Manafort, was] indicted on a dozen charges involving conspiracy, money laundering, bank fraud, and lying to federal investigators. Manafort avoided jail by posting $10 million in bond, though he was confined to his luxury condo in Alexandria, Virginia. Reality Winner, an Air Force veteran and former contractor for the National Security Agency ... was accused of leaking an NSA document that showed how Russians tried to hack American voting systems in 2016. Her case is related to Manafort’s in this sense: While Manafort is suspected of aiding the Russian effort, Winner is accused of warning Americans about it. Even though she has been indicted on just one count of leaking classified information and faces far less prison time than Manafort, the judge in her case ... denied her bail. Winner spent the holidays at the Lincolnton jail, which is smaller in its entirety than Manafort’s Hampton’s estate. The U.S. government rarely acts kindly toward the leakers it chooses to prosecute - unless they happen to be popular figures like David Petraeus, the former general and CIA director who shared with his girlfriend several notebooks filled with top-secret information; he was allowed to plead guilty to just a misdemeanor charge. Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions proudly announced that the DOJ was investigating three times as many leaks as in the Obama era.
Note: The NSA document Winner is accused of leaking revealed high-level interference in a US election. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the intelligence community and in the judicial system.
The USS Cole case judge Wednesday found the Marine general in charge of war court defense teams guilty of contempt for refusing to follow the judge’s orders and sentenced him to 21 days confinement and to pay a $1,000 fine. Air Force Col. Vance Spath also declared “null and void” a decision by Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, 50, to release three civilian defense attorneys from the capital terror case. The lawyers resigned last month over ... something so secretive at the terror prison that the public cannot know. Wednesday evening ... Judge Spath issued another order: Directing the three lawyers - Rick Kammen, Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears - to litigate Friday in the death-penalty case against Abd al Rahim al Nashiri remotely from the Washington D.C., area by video feed to Guantánamo. The judge’s dizzying pace of events ... came as the colonel sought to force the civilian, Pentagon-paid attorneys back on the case. Spath, who has declared they had no good cause to quit, had ordered Kammen, Eliades and Spears to come to Guantánamo on Sunday with other war court staff for a pretrial hearing. They refused. Kammen, a veteran capital defense attorney who had represented Nashiri for a decade, said Spath’s order to travel was an “illegal” effort to have three U.S. citizens “provide unethical legal services to keep the façade of justice that is the military commissions running.” Nashiri is accused of orchestrating al Qaida’s Oct. 12, 2000 suicide bombing of the U.S. warship off Yemen. No trial date has been set.
Note: Nashiri was reportedly tortured by the CIA. Read the 10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
In North Carolina, a person cannot withdraw consent for sex once intercourse is taking place. Because of a 1979 state supreme court ruling that has never been overturned, continuing to have sex with someone who consented then backed out isn’t considered to be rape. The North Carolina law is an example of how the US legal system has not always kept pace with evolving ideas about rape, sex and consent. Just last year, an Oklahoma court ruled that the state’s forcible sodomy statute did not criminalize oral sex with a victim who is completely unconscious. The toughest charge available to prosecutors was unwanted touching. But the North Carolina law appears to be unique. And it has shocked even those who are used to dealing with such legalistic vagaries. “It’s absurd,” said John Wilkinson, a former prosecutor and an adviser to AEquitas, a group which helps law enforcement pursue cases of sexual violence. “I don’t think you could find anyone today to agree with this notion that you cannot withdraw consent. People have the right to control their own bodies. If sex is painful, or for whatever reason, they have the right to change their mind.” The ruling has devastated victims and frustrated prosecutors in North Carolina for years. State senator Jeff Jackson ... has introduced legislation to amend the law. “North Carolina is the only state in the country where no doesn’t really mean no,” he said in a statement. “We have a clear ethical obligation to fix this obvious defect in our rape law.”
Note: A local North Carolina newspaper, the Fayetteville Observer, drew widespread attention to this bizarre law by reporting on a case of sexual abuse involving US military personnel. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of news articles on judicial system corruption and sexual abuse scandals.
Officials seized Trump protesters’ cell phones, cracked their passwords, and are now attempting to use the contents to convict them of conspiracy to riot at the presidential inauguration. Prosecutors have indicted over 200 people on felony riot charges for protests in Washington, D.C. on January 20. Some defendants face up to 75 years in prison. Evidence against the defendants has been scant from the moment of their arrest. As demonstrators, journalists, and observers marched through the city, D.C. police officers channelled hundreds of people into a narrow, blockaded corner, where they carried out mass arrests. Some of those people ... are now suing for wrongful arrest. Police also seized more than 100 cell phones. All of the ... phones were locked. But a July 21 court document shows that investigators were successful in opening the locked phones. Prosecutors moved to use a wealth of information from the phones as evidence, including the phones’ “call detail records,” “SMS or MMS messages,” “contact logs/email logs,” “chats or other messaging applications,” “website search history and website history,” and “images or videos.” One of the more than 200 defendants has pleaded guilty to riot charges after being named extensively in a superseding indictment. But the case against most defendants is less clear; in the superseding indictment, prosecutors accuse hundreds defendants of conspiracy to riot, based on “overt acts” as banal as chanting anti-capitalist slogans or wearing dark clothing.
Note: In May, United Nations officials said that the US treatment of activists was increasingly "incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Law enforcement officials announced last spring that they were pursuing fraud investigations against the world’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil. “Fossil fuel companies ... deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change,” [Attorney General Maura] Healey said at the time. Now those words are being used against Healey, in a lawsuit filed by ExxonMobil. In a stunning offense-is-the-best-defense legal strategy, the company is ... saying the Massachusetts Democrat’s investigation violates their free speech and other constitutional rights. In its legal battle to shut down her investigation, ExxonMobil has demanded that she testify about her efforts and provide documents from her office. Healey contends the corporate response is unprecedented: Not only is [ExxonMobil] refusing to comply, it is demanding an investigation of the investigating agency. “They took the tack of trying to shut down this investigation by suing us,” she said. When Healey issued subpoenas seeking ExxonMobil’s documents on climate change dating to the 1970s, she was “abusing the power of government to silence a speaker she disfavors,” lawyers for ExxonMobil wrote in their June lawsuit against her, alleging a violation of the company’s rights. And they criticized the stories that prompted the investigation: Reports published in 2015 ... suggested ExxonMobil had encouraged climate change confusion for years, despite its own research documenting the risks.
The U.S. government can monitor journalists under a foreign intelligence law that allows invasive spying and operates outside the traditional court system, according to newly released documents. Targeting members of the press under the law, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, requires approval from the Justice Department’s highest-ranking officials. Prior to the release of these documents, little was known about the use of FISA court orders against journalists. Previous attention had been focused on the use of National Security Letters against members of the press; the letters are administrative orders with which the FBI can obtain certain ... records without a judge’s oversight. FISA court orders can authorize much more invasive searches and collection, including the content of communications, and do so through hearings conducted in secret and outside the sort of ... judicial process that allows journalists and other targets of regular criminal warrants to eventually challenge their validity. The rules apply to media entities or journalists who are thought to be agents of a foreign government, or ... possess foreign intelligence information. “There’s a lack of clarity on the circumstances when the government might consider a journalist an agent of a foreign power,” said [Knight Institute staff attorney Ramya] Krishnan. “Think about WikiLeaks; the government has said they are an intelligence operation.”
Note: In its latest instruction manual for federal prosecutors, the US Justice Department removed a subsection titled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial”. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on judicial system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
However people feel about immigration, judges and lawmakers nationwide have long acknowledged that the employment of unauthorized workers is a reality of the American economy. Some 8 million immigrants work with false or no papers nationwide. They're more likely to be hurt or killed on the job than other workers. Nearly all 50 states, including Florida, have given these workers the right to receive workers' comp. But in 2003, Florida's lawmakers [made] it a crime to file a workers' comp claim using false identification. Since then, insurers have avoided paying for injured immigrant workers' lost wages and medical care by repeatedly turning them in to the state. In a challenging twist of logic, immigrants can be charged with workers' comp fraud even if they've never been injured or filed a claim, because legislators also made it illegal to use a fake ID to get a job. In many cases, the state's insurance fraud unit has conducted unusual sweeps of worksites, arresting a dozen employees. To assess the impact of Florida's law on undocumented workers, ProPublica and NPR analyzed 14 years of state insurance fraud data. We found nearly 800 cases statewide in which employees were arrested under the law. Insurers have used the law to deny workers benefits after a litany of serious workplace injuries. Flagged by insurers or their private detectives, state fraud investigators have arrested injured workers at doctor's appointments and at depositions in their workers' comp cases. Some were taken into custody with their arms still in slings.
Opposition parties in Honduras have attacked the failure of the US to denounce the controversial declaration of President Juan Orlando Hernández as winner of a widely disputed election. International observers with the Organization of American States say the vote was so discredited that it was impossible to declare a valid result. But the US State Department noted that an election court had ratified the result of the November 26 election. Honduras' Supreme Electoral Tribunal said Hernández won the election with 42.9% of the votes, edging his main challenger, Salvador Nasralla, who was declared second with 41.24%. The opposition accuses Hernandez of stuffing the court with supporters who helped him change the constitution to allow him to seek a second term. Hundreds of angry opposition supporters protested in the streets of the capital Tegucigalpa Monday following the announcement of the court's decision. The US has a large military base in Honduras, which has led to accusations that both the current and previous US administrations are turning a blind eye to political violence and corruption in the country. The Organization of American States raised a string of concerns about the election, [and] referred to "deliberate human intrusions in the computer system, intentional elimination of digital traces," and "pouches of votes open or lacking votes." The administration of Hernández has also been dogged by allegations of corruption and drug trafficking.
Note: Honduras was one of only eight countries which backed Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. In 2017, leaked court documents raised concerns that the 2016 murder of an Honduran activist was "an extrajudicial killing planned by military intelligence specialists linked to the country’s US–trained special forces". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a high-profile challenge to the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of internet communications. The ruling ... increases the chances that the Supreme Court may someday scrutinize whether the N.S.A.’s so-called upstream system for internet surveillance complies with Fourth Amendment privacy rights. The ruling reversed a Federal District Court judge’s decision to throw out the case. The district judge had ruled that the plaintiffs - including the Wikimedia Foundation - lacked standing to sue because they could not prove that their messages had been intercepted. Because of how the internet works, surveillance of communications crossing network switches is different from traditional circuit-based phone wiretapping. While the government can target a specific phone call without touching anyone else’s communications, it cannot simply intercept a surveillance target’s email. Instead ... to find such emails it is necessary first to systematically copy data packets crossing a network switch and sift them in search of components from any messages involving a target. Documents provided by [Edward] Snowden and declassified by the government have shown that this system works through equipment installed at the facilities of companies, like AT&T, that [connect] the American internet to the rest of the world. Privacy advocates contend that the initial copying and searching of all those data packets ... violates Fourth Amendment protections against government search and seizure.
Thanks to a disagreement between the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), more than 2,000 guns were purchased in the past 15 years by people the FBI said should not have had them, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General. This new report, which uncovered a loophole through which some of those deemed unfit to own firearms by the FBI can purchase them, puts a new scrutiny on the current laws, and how they're enforced. The FBI is responsible for running background checks on those purchasing guns. If the agency finds those buyers unfit, the responsibility to retrieve them falls on the ATF. But the two federal agencies disagree on who qualifies as a “fugitive from justice,” a label that prohibits prospective buyers from acquiring firearms, USA Today reports. While the FBI has considered anyone with an outstanding warrant to fall under the category, the ATF argues that prospective gun owners should be allowed to purchase firearms in the state where they have a warrant, but not in other states. The FBI sought to clarify the discrepancy by bringing the issue before the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. There, the agencies received “informal advice.” When the FBI requested a more formal ruling two years later, the counsel failed to render a decision, allowing the issue to persist some six years later. The report called for clarification on the “fugitive of justice” discrepancy to ensure proper enforcement of the law.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
An Amish family in Pennsylvania must connect to its local municipal sewer system, even though it would require the use of an electric pump, which goes against the family's religious beliefs. A Jan. 5 opinion by a divided Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court finally ended the five-year legal battle. The court agreed with a lower court ruling that ordered the Yoder family to connect to the municipal sewer system. The Yoder family argued that use of electricity violates its religious convictions. The family has used an outhouse - an "old-fashioned privy" - that did not require running water or electricity. But Sugar Grove Township requires residents with properties that abut the sewer system to connect to it at the owners' cost. The ruling addressed whether the Yoders could connect to the system without use of an electric pump. The court ruled that that using an electric pump was the "least intrusive means" of connecting to the sewer system. In a dissenting opinion, Judge Patricia McCullough expressed concern with the ruling, saying there were other ways of disposing of sewage in a sanitary way that would not infringe upon the Yoder family's religious rights. That's a concern shared by Sara Rose, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. "They didn't consider the other ways that the government could have achieved its ends," she said. She also said the decision unduly put the burden on the Yoders.
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