DA Drops Charges Against 3 In Confederate Monument Case

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By Virginia Bridges and Joe Johnson for The Herald Sun. Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols said Thursday he has dropped charges against some of the dozen people charged with toppling a Confederate monument in downtown Durham in August. Echols said he signed the dismissals against three of the 12 people charged in the Aug. 14 toppling. “There was no actual visual evidence or any type of evidence that they would have participated in the physical toppling or pulling down of the property,” Echols said.

Exposed: Brutal FBI Tactics To Recruit Informants

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By Trevor Aaronson for The Intercept. Florida – A bailiff pushed Jabar Ali Refaie’s wheelchair into a federal courtroom in Tampa, Florida, on September 20. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit and looking weak from not having had the drugs he takes to treat his multiple sclerosis, the 37-year-old Refaie was here for a bond hearing after being indicted on felony charges that allege he sold counterfeit BMW logos and diagnostic software on eBay. Refaie’s case seemed by appearances to be about a lot more than selling shady car parts on the internet. That much was obvious from Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlton C. Gammons’s stiff bond requests — $25,000, a GPS monitoring device, the surrender of his passport, and the removal of all firearms from his residence — as well as the six U.S. Homeland Security agents who packed into the courtroom for Refaie’s hearing.

San Francisco, Oakland Sue Oil Giant Over Climate Change

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By Inside Climate News. San Francisco and Oakland sued five major oil companies in the state courts on Wednesday in the latest attempts to hold fossil fuel producers accountable for the effects of climate change. The parallel lawsuits call for the companies to pay what could become billions of dollars into a fund for the coastal infrastructure necessary to protect property and neighborhoods against sea level rise in the sister cities, which face each other across San Francisco Bay. The moves follow similar lawsuits filed against 37 fossil fuel companies earlier this summer by three other coastal California communities at risk from sea level rise.

Protester: ‘Is This My Last Free Birthday?’

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By Patrick Strickland for Al Jazeera. Washington, DC – When Olivia Alsip travelled to the capital to protest against the inauguration of right-wing US President Donald Trump, she didn’t imagine she would end the day behind bars and later face up to 80 years in prison. Thousands of people journeyed from across the US to Washington, DC, to protest on the first day of Trump’s presidency, January 20. During the swearing-in, Alsip was among the more than 230 protesters arrested when officers from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) blocked off a large area and hauled off nearly everyone. “I am wondering if my 24th birthday next week will be my last as a free person,” she says by telephone from Chicago. “I’ve never in my life had such a painful and stressful experience. There are no words to convey the severity of this.”

Convicted For Protesting Jeff Sessions Is No Laughing Matter

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By Tighe Barry. In the recent past, frivolous charges like these would have been thrown out of court. But, Trump and his cronies in the Justice Department are going out of their way to crackdown on dissent, especially in the form of nonviolent protest. Republican officials are jumping on Trump’s bigoted bandwagon to restrict liberties at the local, state and national level. We see laws being passed in over a dozen states to make protesting a crime, while at the same time, North Dakota has passed a law where running over a protester is not a crime. We see state laws being passed to criminalize campaigns that support Palestinian rights. We see that over 200 people who protested Trump’s inauguration have been prosecuted and charged with ridiculous offenses, such as felony rioting charges. We should see our Justice Department prosecuting real criminals, like those responsible for war, not convicting people for laughing in Congress. Unless we rise up and demand our first amendment right to dissent, then the joke will be on the American people. And that is no laughing matter.

FBI Has Already Gathered Millions Of 'Faceprints' for Facial Recognition

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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).

Journalists & Dissent Under Attack In The United States

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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.

Changing Bail Policy For Misdemeanors Isn't Enough

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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.

Verdict In Montrose 9 Necessity Defense Trial: Guilty!

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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.”

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Officially Charged With Criminal Contempt

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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.

Dejuan Yourse Arrested For Sitting On His Porch

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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.

Even Nixon Let Out More Prisoners Than Obama

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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.

Federal Judge Refers Sheriff Joe Arpaio For Criminal Prosecution

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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.

Ireland Jails Three Top Bankers Over 2008 Meltdown

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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.

Reporter Recounts Arrest, Prison Stay After Baton Rouge Protest

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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.