By Derrick Broze for Activist Post. A House Committee questioned Kimberly Del Greco, Deputy Assistant Director at the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, about why the bureau broke the law by failing to file a privacy impact statement acknowledging the collection of millions of Americans’ faces for the agency’s new biometric identification system. The FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system is made up of fingerprints, iris scans, faceprints, and other facial recognition data. The NGI organizes Americans’ biometric data into a single file that includes personal and biographic data like name, home address, ID number, immigration status, age, race, etc. The Committee reports that nearly half of all adult Americans’ photographs are in the database. The 2013 U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there are over 242 million adults living in the U.S. If the Committee’s numbers are correct, over 121 million adults are in the FBI’s database. Other revelations include that 18 states have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the FBI to share photos with the federal government, including from state departments of motor vehicles (DMV).
By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. When we discussed these specific arrests with Chris Hedges over email his view was “This is just the start.” On our radio show, Hedges described how cowering the media is a key part of silencing dissent. If the media is not there to cover the mistreatment of protesters, then law enforcement will become even more abusive. Reporters Without Borders described the media as “Public Enemy Number One for the Trump administration,” writing it is “alarmed by the new administration’s repeated attacks on the media and blatant disregard for facts in the first three days of Donald Trump’s presidency. . . In the first 72 hours since the 45th President of the United States took his oath of office, his administration has executed a coordinated attack on the media and demonstrated a clear disregard for facts.” Margaux Ewen, Advocacy and Communications Director for RSF North America, said: It is clear that Trump views the media as his number one enemy and is taking every single opportunity to try to weaken their credibility.
By Jarvis DeBerry for The Times-Picayune. If ours is a country where people are presumed innocent until they’re proved guilty, then we shouldn’t demand that criminal suspects dig into their pockets to get out of jail before they are tried. If we are legitimately afraid that some suspects are a threat to the public, then we shouldn’t be comfortable with them getting out before trial no matter how much money they can pay. In March, Loyola law professor Bill Quigley wrote about two Texas church ladies who spent almost a week in jail in New Iberia on the suspicion that they pilfered two hot dogs, milkshakes and an Icee from a convenience store. Even though they drove the 400 miles from Dallas to plead not guilty and present receipts they said proved their innocence, the judge decided that because they were from out of town, he needed to set bail to guarantee their appearance. He expected the women to come up with $1,740 each. They stayed in jail until an attorney in town heard about their plight and paid for their release.
By Resist Spectra. Cortlandt, NY — Four months after conclusion of the trial, today Judge Daniel McCarthy found the “Montrose 9” guilty of disorderly conduct for blocking traf c in Cortlandt Town Court. The “Montrose 9,” local residents and environmental advocates who were arrested for blocking access to a ware yard in Montrose to halt construction of Spectra Energy’s AIM pipeline on November 9, 2015, claimed that their actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm. At the Press Conference after Judge McCarthy’s verdict, Defense Counsel, Martin Stolar, a prominent social justice attorney, said “I am extremely disappointed with respect to the necessity defense, which seems so obviously true. We will take it up on appeal. They (the defendants) are heroes, not criminals.”
By Megan Cassidy for The Republic – With a federal judge’s signature on a proposed order initially submitted by prosecutors Oct. 17, the deal is sealed: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is criminally charged with federal contempt of court. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was officially charged Tuesday with criminal contempt of court when a federal judge affixed her signature, a formality that throws the lawman’s political and personal future into a level of crisis never before seen in his 23 years in office.
By Carla Herreria for Huffington Post. City council members in Greensboro, North Carolina voted this week to strip the law enforcement credentials of a police officer who is accused of violently arresting a man sitting on his porch after body camera footage of the arrest was made public. The council voted unanimously Monday to permanently sanction Officer Travis Cole for using excessive force during the June arrest. The body camera footage shows Cole roughly throwing Dejuan Yourse to the floor of the porch and punching him as Yourse waited for his mom to come home and let him into the house, according to local news WREG. The council pushed for criminal charges against Cole, but the district attorney refused, saying he wouldn’t “rehash the same evidence,” the Greensboro News & Record reported.
By Meagan Day for Timeline. Throughout his tenure, President Obama’s hesitation to use his executive pardon power has left critics scratching their heads. He granted zero clemencies during the first two years of his first term — except for Thanksgiving turkeys, of course — and the numbers have been in the low double digits every year since. But recently Obama picked up the pace, commuting the sentences of 214 federal inmates. All of them were non-violent drug offenders, sending a clear message to the legislative branch. But Obama has released for fewer prisoners than many presidents, including Richard Nixon. Even if Obama grants a slew of commutations here at the end of his presidency, it will hardly make a dent in the number of inmates that have been stuffed into federal prison since the beginning of the tough-on-crime era.
By Debra Cassens Weiss for ABA News -A federal judge on Friday ordered Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio be referred to the U.S. Attorney’s office for criminal prosecution as a result of alleged violation of a court order barring racial profiling. U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow referred for prosecution Arpaio and three others, report the Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times and the New York Times.
By Conor Humphries and Mark Heinrich for Reuters. Three senior Irish bankers were jailed on Friday for up to three-and-a-half years for conspiring to defraud investors in the most prominent prosecution arising from the 2008 banking crisis that crippled the country’s economy. The trio will be among the first senior bankers globally to be jailed for their role in the collapse of a bank during the crisis. The lack of convictions until now has angered Irish taxpayers, who had to stump up 64 billion euros – almost 40 percent of annual economic output – after a property collapse forced the biggest state bank rescue in the euro zone. The crash thrust Ireland into a three-year sovereign bailout in 2010 and the finance ministry said last month that it could take another 15 years to recover the funds pumped into the banks still operating.
By Karen Savage for Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — For a few seconds on July 10, the ear-splitting police noisemaker — referred to as an LRAD — and the chants demanding justice for Alton Sterling awkwardly paused at exactly the same moment. I closed my eyes in relief. As if on cue, a lone cicada cried out from the tree above, the insect’s call piercing the air, but not the tension. With my eyes closed and the cicada’s solo still echoing through the sweltering heat of a Sunday afternoon in Baton Rouge, I saw neat bungalows, crape myrtles and longleaf pine trees. I imagined a crawfish boil, kids on bikes, grandmothers with church hats. But when I opened my eyes, we were still surrounded on three sides by an army of militarized police. Officers still gripped automatic weapons, still wore gas masks and bulletproof vests, still held tear gas cylinders ready to be fired.
By Raymond Bonner for Pro Publica. In 2009, Abu Zubaydah’s lawyers interviewed their client and prepared a handwritten, first-person account of the torture their client suffered at the hands of the U.S. government. The document, quoted above, recounts the terrifying experience of a man repeatedly waterboarded in the mistaken belief that he was al-Qaida’s No. 3 official. It was filed in federal court as part of his lawsuit seeking release from Guantanamo, and like nearly all the documents in the case, was sealed at the government’s request. Now, seven years later, Zubaydah’s statement, which he signed under oath, has been released, and it provides the most detailed, personal description yet made public of his “enhanced interrogation” at a Central Intelligence Agency “black site” in Thailand.
By Popular Resistance. Washington, DC – A delegation of three women are currently visiting the United States as representatives of a coalition of social justice and labor organizations called the Corean Alliance for Independent Reunification and Democracy (CAIRD) on a peace expedition. They are educating activists in the US about the serious situation in the Republic of Korea for social justice activists. The government of President Park Geun-hye is using the National Security Law in an extreme way to ban protests and arrest activists. For example, simply speaking positively about North Korea is a crime punishable with seven years in prison. Activists who participated in peaceful demonstrations last year are currently in jail or are facing imprisonment. They are considered to be prisoners of conscience by CAIRD members. One activist in particular, Kim Hye-young, needs support from people in the US.
By Katherine Paul for Organic Consumers Association. Monsanto may not be the largest company in the world. Or the worst. But the St. Louis, Mo. biotech giant has become the poster child for all that’s wrong with our industrial food and farming system. In a rare exception, Monsanto was recently ordered to pay $46.5 million to compensate victims of its PCB poisoning. Sometimes the companysettles out of court, to avoid having to admit to any “wrongdoing.” But for the most part, thanks to the multinational’s powerful influence over U.S. politicians, Monsanto has been able to poison with impunity. It’s time for the citizens of the world to fight back. On October 15-16, in The Hague, Netherlands—the International City of Peace and Justice—a panel of distinguished international judges will hear testimony from witnesses, represented by legitimate lawyers, who have been harmed by Monsanto.
By Baynard Woods for The Guardian. Feb. 27, 2016, Baltimore, MD – For the more than 240 days since Keith Davis was shot in the face by Baltimore police, he has nursed his wounds from a jail cell, facing a barrage of charges on allegations that he robbed an unlicensed cab driver and fled. Davis was the first police-involved shooting since the death of Freddie Gray in police custody set off citywide protests in April. And while Gray became a household name as representative of the more than 1,000 people who are killed by police each year, activists have held up Davis as an example of how Gray and others like him might have been treated by the law enforcement system if they had lived. On Thursday, a jury found Davis not guilty on all the charges but one.
By Movimiento Mesoamericano Contra El Modelo Extractivo Minero. Early this morning, March 3, 2016, armed individuals forcibly entered and assassinated Honduran activist Berta Cáceres, founder of COPINH, in her home in La Esperanza, department of Intibucá in southwestern Honduras. Our friend and colleague Gustavo Castro Soto was injured during the attack. Gustavo is Mexican and a member of the organization Otros Mundos Chiapas/Friends of the Earth-Mexico, the Mexican Network of Mining-Affected Peoples and the Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model (M4). Gustavo survived the attack and has become a key actor in the investigation into the murder of our friend Berta. Berta and Gustavo are two people known for their role in international social and environmental struggles