Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Pig" Can Be Interpreted in So Many Ways

From the San Francisco Bay Guardian:
Carlos Villarreal, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, says District Court Judge William Alsup, who ordered Wolf to jail, "made a big deal that Josh did not have agreement with a confidential source, but his argument turns Josh's video equipment into a de facto government surveillance camera."

Noting that there is a lot of trust between Wolf and protesters at demonstrations — "People aren't afraid to go up to the camera and say, 'Did you check out the pig that's kicking a guy down the street?’” — Villarreal claims that "independent journalists are harder to see and spot than their corporate counterparts."
The story is about Josh Wolf. Find out more about his case here.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Heroes of the New Immigrant Civil Rights Movement

First I should make clear that by calling it a "new civil rights movement" doesn't mean that other civil rights movements are ancient history. No. In fact the movement most often tagged as the "civil rights movement" - during the 50's and 60's in the United States for equality of African Americans - while it undoubtedly won significant victories - has yet to reach many of its goals. The movements for gender equality and gay equality still have an uphill battle, and I could go on.

Also, I'm focusing here on a movement for Latino Immigrant rights that has taken off in 2006, but it isn't to imply anything about other immigrant groups or that Latinos haven't been working and marching for equality for years prior.

With that out of the way, I'm confident that the upswing in activity that has included marches of historic proportions and succeeded in more or less killing proposals in Washington for mass deportations is the beginning of a significant movement for Immigrant Rights that will have a long-lasting impact on the American people and political power. Hopefully it will have a positive impact on the lives of people well beyond America's current borders as well.

With this movement comes its own heroes, akin to Rosa Parks or the students in North Carolina who sat-in at a Woolworth luncheon counter in 1960. These individuals challenge the rules and move the debate beyond what pundits and Washington often consider within the realm of acceptability - sometimes even beyond what other self-appointed leaders of the movement publicly advocate.

Elvira Arellano

By the terms of the debate in Washington, Elvira Arellano is going too far. She entered the U.S. illegally and has been ordered deported, but she is openly defying the law by seeking refuge in a Chicago church with her 7-year-old son Saul, who was born here and is a U.S. citizen. None of the Democrats who mildly support the immigrant rights movement, (or more accurately oppose only the most reactionary of the anti-immigrant bigotry) would suggest that immigrants who were deported once, as Elvira was, and returned illegally, remaining and working with the use of a fake Social Security card, should be allowed to stay. In fact those who re-enter after deportation are often inprisoned before deportation.

Elvira's defiance goes well beyond what the liberals of the movement contemplate - a policy that treats immigrants like human beings and treats borders as having little meaning in the law. She should stay because Chicago is her home. She has lived there for a decade and ought to have as much right to stay as anyone else.

Hector Vega

Co-valedictorian at a San Jose, California high school, Hector Vega has declared publicly that he is an "illegal" immigrant. In his case there is some hope within the current debate as one provision of the so-called DREAM Act includes a path to citizenship for certain students who have been in the country since before they were 16 and for at least 5 years, and then meet a few other requirements. But even this provision is very controversial in the circles of power. Still, it is courageous activists like Hector and those who rally around him who will push such a provision through - not high-paid lobbyists or mainstream civil rights organizations with a "seat at the table" in Washington.

Hector and Elvira are just two of many who resist immigration laws and intimidation by bigots every day in this country, and their numbers will hopefully swell in coming months. Add the hundreds of thousands of supporters, whether immigrants or not, and we have lots of work to do but should continue organizing and uniting to defeat every last backward proposal from the immigrant bashers. We can change the entire debate - there have to be really good reasons to regulate the borders at all - freedom of movement across borders is a fundamental right of every person - no human being is illegal. There just aren't enough ICE agents and "Minutemen" to defeat us.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Don't Execute My Client Because "i &tilde hus, we diseeni no ab &tilde tse of discretion in th i &tilde coult &tilde s denial"


Something's wrong with your browser? No. This is a quote lifted from the mostly incomprehensible and rambling appeal filed by an attorney for Justin Fuller - scheduled to be executed in Texas tonight. Yes, my home state doesn't do much to protect the rights of accused criminals, even if they are to be injected with enough poison to kill them.

Here's a letter from my friend Lily:
MY FRIEND Justin Fuller is scheduled to be executed on August 24.

Justin and I have been writing for about eight years and visiting for at least six years. Over the years, we have grown to know one another well. He has been a good friend to me, and I hope I have been to him.

He is a smart, generous and beautiful young man. I’d like to do whatever I can to try to save his life, and I want you all to help me do that.

His case has numerous problems, like most death row cases. The main issues in the case have to do with incompetent or ineffective assistance of counsel.

The two things that stand out in particular are the fact that the prosecution offered Justin a plea before trial and his defense lawyers never told him about it, and that his state habeas lawyer filed a writ for Justin that was actually a writ he had done for a previous client named Henry Dunn. He didn’t even change the name to Justin’s in parts of the writ, and it contained facts that had to do with Henry’s case, not Justin’s.

Justin has admitted his involvement in the crime that landed him on death row, but he has always maintained that he was not the triggerman in the murder. Four people took part in a robbery, including Justin, a man named Samhermundre Wideman and a young woman named Elaine Hays.

Justin claims Wideman was the shooter, a claim substantiated by Hays. She has stated that she believes Wideman was the shooter. She says that after Fuller and Wideman returned to the vehicle, where she had been waiting for the two men, Wideman said, “It felt good to shoot someone.”

The state of Texas denied Justin’s appeal, arguing that the state can still execute “non-triggermen.” The case is at the U.S. Supreme Court right now. So far, all the state and federal courts have denied Justin’s claims.

The Supreme Court will only decide if it will hear his case when it comes back into session. If they do, Justin will get a stay. If they don’t, the case goes back down to the state courts for the 11th-hour appeals. If that happens, Justin’s lawyers will file a claim about lethal injection as well, and there could be a stay based on that.

If Justin’s execution goes forward, he has asked me to be a witness. This means I would travel to Huntsville, Texas, and will have to watch them put my friend to death--something I cannot even imagine.

When I visited him this week, he told me about how he had to ask his parents to begin to make funeral arrangements. This is a healthy man, only 28 years old. It is so sick, I can hardly stand to think about it.

I am asking everyone to please fax, call and e-mail the governor of Texas and the Board of Pardons and Paroles, asking them to stop this execution. If there isn’t a stay, I am asking folks in Austin and Huntsville to participate in a protest against Justin’s execution. Please take the time to contact these people. The phone numbers are listed below, as well as an option to send a fax and an e-mail requesting a stay.
Lily Mae Hughes, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Austin, Texas

E-mails and faxes can be sent directly online from the Democracy in Action Web site. Contact Gov. Rick Perry at 512-463-2000, 512-463-1849 (fax) or at Contact the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles at 512-406-5852, or 512-467-0945 (fax).


As the lethal drugs began to take effect, he looked at his parents watching through a window a few feet away and said, "I love you." The judge, prosecutor, TX Court of Criminal Appeals and Governor Perry deserve much worse.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Morrissey Blasts Bush and Blair

Morrissey was about to perform his new single "In the Future When All's Well," at England's V Festival when he said, "Its basic message is: Blair. No. Bush. No. In the future when all's well." In other words all may be well in a future without the two leaders - it certainly is a mess right now.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Guide to Austin

I've been working on a wiki version of a guide to Austin specifically for the National Lawyers Guild Convention that will be there this October. Check it out here: WIKI GUIDE TO AUSTIN FOR THE NLG CONVENTION.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Stubborn Imperialists Never Learn

A District Court judge recently ruled that Bush's NSA spying program is unconstitutional and the stubborn imperialists immediately began bashing the judge and the decision - but strangely most did not say she was legally incorrect. Take FOX News' wacky John Gibson who says, "I agree that the program might not be strictly legal, though I think it is strictly necessary. Perhaps Congress should amend the law to make it entirely legal. But whether we need it or not is beyond question." He then goes on to point out that there were recent arrests of Arab men buying cell phones which are "untraceable" and that under current law our spies cannot listen in on these phone calls. His bone-chilling conclusion: "In other words, the civil libertarians say the terrorists are constitutionally allowed to conspire to kill us. That cannot be right."

Well, since well before I was born it has been true that if the only piece of evidence police have connecting someone to a mass murder was obtained through an unconstitutional search - that evidence can and must be kept out of the trial. In other words, the constitution sometimes protects killers because if it didn't then it would have little meaning for the rest of us. For every criminal let loose because the police violated his 4th Amendment rights, thousands of law-abiding residents can sit comfortably knowing the police won't kick in their door with no reason. For every terrorist who manages to make a phone call without the government listening in, millions of people calling their friends to talk about private matters, or a potential labor strike, or the details of their company's new advertising campaign, can feel comfortable that the government isn't listening in - remember that's a government that at times may seem relatively harmless to you but depending on who you are or what part of history you look to the situation can be quite different.

Then, I suppose Gibson would say, these terrorists are just going to keep trying to destroy us by using their untraceable phones and hiding their bomb-making materials in their basements (the home being one of the most guarded by the 4th Amendment). First, there are many other ways to catch terrorists, but more importantly what these right-wing pundits can't understand beyond their narrow view of the world is that we will always be at war with terrorists as long as we continue to terrorize the world or support regimes like Israel that do it for us. The true opponents of terrorism will oppose the imperialism of the U.S. and Israel as strongly if not more strongly than the tactics of the far less powerful groups, like Hezbollah or Hamas. We will support absolute preservation of our civil liberties - indeed strengthening of our civil liberties - not just for ourselves but for everyone, anywhere in the world.

On a brighter note, check out this cool picture I took ...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More on Israel and Gay Rights

An instructive piece by Blair Kuntz appeared on Znet. Here's an excerpt:
The Nationality and Entry into Israel law, the same law which denies the rights of Israeli Arab citizens to marry Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, according to Human Rights Watch, has in fact led to a crackdown on gay Palestinians in Israel. Now, no official status is possible, so most gays who do find their way to Israel soon find themselves objects of police protection and are arrested and summarily expelled. Obviously, in contrast to the claims of pro-Israeli defenders, Palestinian gays are no more welcome or protected in Israel than heterosexual Palestinians. Both are seen as demographic threats to the Jewish population, and all of Israel's high-sounding words about protecting gays are revealed as empty rhetoric.

Furthermore, as Israeli defenders decry their Arab neighbors supposed contempt for gays and women, they never acknowledge the role Israel has played in encouraging both Islamic and Christian religious fundamentalists hostile to gay rights. Just as the United States promoted and funded religious fundamentalist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Taliban in Afghanistan, al-Qaida, and the Ayotollah Khomeni in Iran while over the years actively helping to overthrow or de-stabilize secular governments in Iran, Iraq, and Egypt, Israel too has played the role of the sorcerer's apprentice in encouraging Islamic fundamentalism, trying to defeat, as former intelligence director for the Defense Intelligence Agency, states, "Arab nationalism using Muslim zealots [26]". As Charles Freeman, a veteran U.S. diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, states: "Israel started Hamas. It was a project of Shin Bet [the Israeli domestic intelligence agency], which had a feeling that they could use it to hem in the PLO [27] (Dreyfuss, p. 191]."

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Gay Pride Rally in Jerusalem Includes Anti-War Contingent

For more information see Jonas in Palestine.

Thousands Protest in San Francisco For Lebanon and Palestine

Still, it was fewer - far fewer - people than normally come out for the big anti Iraq war protests. There were probably 5,000 people whereas the anniversary of the start of the Iraq war will easily bring out twice that if not more. The reason is, of course, Israel. It is a very sensitive subject among moderate liberals and even on the left. No one wants to seem sympathetic to terrorists or anti-Semitic. Plus elections are coming up in November and many on the left want to see Democrats (who appear to support Israel with even greater unquestioning force than Republicans) win a majority in the House - the policies those Democrats put into place once in power is of a secondary concern, whether such a victory would mean any lasting positive change for the bulk of Americans or people of the world is of a tertiary concern.

Still it does appear that Israel's latest upswing in military terrorism of Arab people was a defeat for hardcore Zionists and their American imperialist allies. While Israel's unequaled military might in the region certainly has had a devastating impact on Hezbollah and the people of Lebanon (Christian and secular Lebanon included), Hezbollah has shown that Israel is not invincible and the obvious disdain for human life by the IDF has made criticizing Israel a much less sensitive matter than it was a few weeks ago.

But there is no cease fire yet, and the arrogance of the Israeli state (note that there are many Jewish Israelis who criticize their government and the current terrorizing of Lebanon) might mean continuing violence in Lebanon beyond Monday morning.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

George Galloway Speaks the Truth on SKY News

As always he brilliantly takes on the lies of the corporate media and the imperialist/Zionist global spin masters.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Privilege Doesn't Stop for War

From the NY Times:
Israel’s nonprofit and volunteer organizations, working with private corporations, have taken the lead in assessing the needs of northern residents and pitching in. Some have focused on distributing food, others on providing trauma counseling and care for the elderly or organizing overnight trips to give people in the shelters some relief from the stress of living under fire.

Some volunteers have even taught yoga classes or given acupuncture treatments to those in bomb shelters, while others work to install air-conditioners to soothe the sweltering conditions underground.
Meanwhile in Lebanon ...
Will Lamont Stump for Hillary? What About Cynthia McKinney?

The liberal blog-o-sphere is giddy over millionaire businessman Ned Lamont's victory over middle-right Democrat Joe Lieberman. But it seems that the Democrats took a step forward and a step backward, because while the darling of the pro-Democrat-anti-war contingent won in Connecticut, a great anti-war woman of color lost in Georgia.

It was a decent victory for the liberal wing within the Democratic party for Lamont to win. A small victory for everyone opposed to the war in Iraq sick of listening to Hillary Clinton's opposition to Bush's war minus any support for an actual pullout of troops. Although note that Lamont's position isn't super-fantastic - there is this from his website:
Ned supports proposals by Congressman Murtha and Lawrence Korb for phasing out of America’s front-line involvement in Iraq.

“Our troops are making their country proud with their service,” said Ned. “But this war is not making us any safer. It’s time for US troops to move to the background and let the Iraqi people step forward and take responsibility for their own destiny.”
The big fear is that this single victory could further wed the anti-war left to the Democrats at a time when it is critical for the anti-war left to be fiercely independent and fight for their issues over any political party. It may depend, in part, on what the blog-o-liberals decide when the choice is between someone like a Dianne Feinstein versus a Green Party candidate - or maybe a Green Party run with a chance to make a dent against a presidential bid by Hillary. It may also depend on what Lamont does if he makes it into the Senate after all. Will he stump for Hillary Clinton if she gets the Democratic nomination for president? How will the anti-war left react to this?

Then there is Cynthia McKinney's loss. She is described by many as an "embarassment." And while once or twice she may have gone out on a limb - claming publicly that Bush may have had prior knowledge of 9-11 was probably unwise, even if you think it is within the realm of possibility - she has not said or done anything anywhere near as controversial as, say, former Senator Jessie Helms or Texas Congressman Tom DeLay. Yet the media, and many mainstream Democrats, treat her as if she is as controversial if not more so than either of those nutcases. She is an outspoken, African-American, woman and that is enough to make anyone an embarassment to the upstate New York-San Francisco Pac Heights-Aspen-liberal Democrats.

Here is what McKinney had to say about the war in Iraq: "This is an immoral and illegal war and we need to bring our troops home now." Compare that to what her victorious Democratic opponent says on his website:
When should we leave?

* As soon as is possible, sensible, and ethical.
* To set a hard date for a pullout would be imprudent and risk further endangering our troops.
* To leave a devastated country in civil war would be immoral.
* When our military experts advise that Iraq is a more stable and viable state, we should begin to disengage and bring our men and women home as quickly as possible.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Don't Deport Them. Lock Them Up. It's Better for the Economy.

Of course I don't think we should be deporting anybody, but after reading this story you have to wonder if some of those calling for stricter enforcement along the border really just want to create circumstances that boost the criminal justice industries.
Willacy County Judge Simon Salinas cheered the 500-bed lockup cited by Bush, a "fast-track" project opened Tuesday by Management and Training Corp. that will grow next month to 2,000 beds.

"You talk about economic development, this is it," he said, noting the county's initial cut is $2.25 a day, per occupied bed.

Salinas predicted annual county income from the facility eventually would hit $10 million. The finished $64.8 million facility will feature 10 pod-like domes, built on concrete floors and made of synthetic fabric, each with 200 beds.

It is intended as a deportation center for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which since July has added 1,500 jail beds nationwide, for a total of 22,800.
What will the county do when/if immigration becomes less of a problem in the future?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

In California Gays, Marines Most Likely to Smoke

Reports the SF Chronicle. No wonder the English call them "fags." O.K. that was stupid, but seriously I wonder what the rate is for gay marines.