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Saturday, 30 April 2011

A Wrongful Conviction In The Makings - Bobby Yates

In the County of Lamar - Paris, Texas, The case of Bobby Yates and at least twenty others handled by Lamar County Attorney Gary Young, are in need of in depth investigations by the United States Department of Justice. Lamar County Attorney Gary Young's thirst for convictions by any means necessary, results in wrongful convictions, excessive sentences, and alarming rates of juveniles tried as adults. In the case of disabled, Bobby Yates (currently age 51), an indictment was secured for Sexual Assault of A Child.

A hunting accident which occurred twenty (20) years ago, resulted in Mr.Yates' lower body being amputated, he also underwent a penectomy (removal of the penis). Penectomy's result in NO sexual desires. On September 22, 2008, Yates was arrested and charged with Sexual Assault of a Child by using his fingers. Bobby Yates is Innocent!

Even though Bobby Yates called 911 for help, the police reports state that the the 16 year old white female called 911. The 911 tapes tell the true story. The tape however does mention that the female was so high on drugs that her speech was slurred. To secure an indictment, a photo of Bobby Yates was taken to make it appear as though he was not handicapped. Yates is confined to a wheelchair with a lower body amputation. His height was omitted and there was no explanation of not having lower limbs. This is yet an additional attempt of Lamar County Attorney to secure a conviction by any means necessary.

Bobby Yates lived in Ridgeview Town homes for 5 years without problems. He had no criminal history. On March 18, 2008 at approx 1:30 or 2 AM, Bobby Yates got a knock on his door that would change his life.

A 16 year old white female and two adult white males, asked Bobby if they could enter into his home while claiming they were locked out of their own homes. Bobby reluctantly allowed them in. Several hours later, Bobby made a 911 call. He told the operator that three people were in his home threatening his life and he was afraid of them and they would not leave. He said one of the three assaulted him by beating him in his face. Bobby can be heard on the 911 call telling the group to get out of his home and telling them not to come near him. The police came and Bobby told them the three had refused to leave and they jerked the phone from him preventing him from using it the first time he tried to call. He attempted to leave out his front door and they grabbed his wheelchair and prevented Yates from leaving. The female claimed Bobby touched her vagina even though the two men were in the same room with her -- the entire time she was in Bobby's home.

Posted by Nancy Lockhart. M.J.

I am white, I am Irish and I am direct in my beliefs,!

I am white, I am Irish and I am direct in my beliefs, if you have a problem with that movement   move the fuck around around !


A.A.A. represents Juvenile defendants, children waived into Adult court rooms and held to an adult standard. this message was sent to us via twitter - "I see your about all kids but your site leans towards black children. Im not saying anything is wrong, it's a red flag for my cause-son" I would like to say clearly we take no one's side but the child's be it black, white.


I wrote to so many org etc justice for juveniles etc, NADA just more phamplets about how their brains are full functioning. GEE. YA THINK!
Direct message sent by LIVEFEED (@LIVEFEED2012) to you (@Advocates4kids) on Apr 30, 8:51 AM.

second thing I learned. No one that is part of a group that is about black causes is going to help my son, Not capitalist whites either
Direct message sent by LIVEFEED (@LIVEFEED2012) to you (@Advocates4kids) on Apr 30, 8:47 AM.

I have learned. No one that is about the black cause is going to help my son, Not to say they don't have good reason to have these causes.
Direct message sent by LIVEFEED (@LIVEFEED2012) to you (@Advocates4kids) on Apr 30, 8:46 AM.

To Graves, garnisheed fee is law's final insult Texas seeking old child support from former inmate's death row years



A lawyer for Anthony Graves declared the attorney general's position "immoral."
GALVESTON — To Anthony Graves, the loss of a $250 speaking fee seemed like the final indignity heaped upon him by the state of Texas.
Graves spent 18 years behind bars, 12 of them on death row, for a crime that prosecutors now say he didn't do.
After he was freed in October, the Texas comptroller's office refused the compensation provided by law for those who are unjustly convicted.
Then the Texas Attorney General's Office began garnisheeing his wages for child support that a judge decided Graves owed even though he was on death row at the time. But when they blocked payment of the $250 fee he earned for a presentation to students at Prairie View A&M University, it was too much.
"If you feel I owe some compensation, fine, I'm not crying about that, but don't go after everything I make," said Graves, 45. "I'm tired of the state kicking me."
The Attorney General's Office is garnisheeing $175 of the $3,000 monthly salary he earns as an investigator for Texas Defenders Service, an organization that represents death penalty defendants.
Graves owes either $5,420 or $5,403, according to the Attorney General's Office, which cited the two child support figures in letters to Graves.
A Washington County judge decided in 2002 that Graves owed back child support from 1998 until 2002, even though he was on death row the entire time, according to Graves' attorney Nicole Casarez.

'Sympathy' from state

Jeff Blackburn, another member of Graves' legal team, said Attorney General Greg Abbott was retaliating for a lawsuit Graves filed to force the state to pay his compensation.
"Abbott is clearly a vindictive guy and he's just ordering this retaliation," Blackburn declared. "It's a completely immoral position, and to me it proves that Greg Abbott is at best a hypocrite and at worst just a cruel monster."
The state comptroller refused to pay Graves the $80,000 for each year of wrongful imprisonment provided by law because the order dismissing the capital murder charges did not contain the words "actual innocence," as the statute requires.
Graves has sued the attorney general, asking for a declaration of actual innocence, but Abbott's office said the law does not allow the attorney general to make such a declaration.
Abbott spokesman Jerry Strickland responded, "While we are deeply offended by the ridiculous and meritless claims lodged by Anthony Graves' counsel, this office has nothing but sympathy for Mr. Graves. His experience is truly troubling and deeply compelling."
Strickland said the system that tagged Graves for child support payments is auto­mated and handles 1.2 million cases. The child support division "regularly files wage withholding orders without any involvement from the executive office," Strickland said. "And that is exactly what happened in this case."
He said the Attorney General's Office is obligated to collect the money that the court has ordered be paid.
Strickland said he couldn't comment on details of the case without permission from the mother of Graves' son, now 27.
Blackburn said he intends to sue the attorney general to have the payments rescinded.

Big crowd, but no check

The loss of the fee that fueled Graves' growing frustration began with an invitation from the political science department at Prairie View A&M University.
Graves, Casarez and an attorney from Texas Defenders spoke to an overflow crowd April 20 about his case. Casarez recalled that students were jammed behind them on the stage and spilled into the hallways.
The university offered Graves a $250 honorarium to compensate him for his travel expenses and time.
On Wednesday, Graves asked Casarez to find out why he hadn't received the payment. She was forwarded an email from a Prairie View professor saying the money had been withheld because Graves owed child support.
"The state of Texas tried to kill me for something I didn't do and now they are trying to get child support out of me," Graves said. He noted that the Attorney General's Office persisted in prosecuting him for four years after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in 2006.
"I feel powerless," he said.
Casarez said that her client has another speaking engagement at the University of Texas that he probably won't be paid for because of the child support.

Graves not the first

Convicts often are stuck with enormous child support payments after leaving prison, but the law makes no provision for those who were unjustly convicted, said Michael McCormick, executive director of the American Coalition of Fathers and Children.
"I'm not aware of any state where it says a wrongly convicted individual is relieved of their obligation," McCormick said.
Graves isn't the first in Texas to be found innocent of capital murder and forced to pay child support. The wages of Clarence Brandley, cleared in 1997 of the rape-strangulation of 16-year-old girl in Conroe, were garnisheed to pay $25,640 in child support.
Graves was convicted of the 1992 slayings of a grandmother and five children. Robert Carter, who confessed to the killings, absolved Graves of the crime in his final statement moments before his execution in 2000. He said he lied during his testimony against Graves.
The federal appeals court found that the prosecution withheld statements crucial to the defense and elicited false statements from witnesses during the 1994 trial.

Raising Awareness about Youth Incarceration With Mud Stencils…

I was privileged to speak to a group of first-year art students from the School of the Art Institute a couple of weeks ago. I shared my organization’s view about how art is integral to the struggle for social justice. The students later informed me that as part of their class they were supposed to undertake a community service project. They selected my organization as the beneficiary of their efforts. They decided to create mud stencils to educate the public about the costs of youth incarceration in Illinois. I am really grateful to these young people for their commitment to justice and for sharing their creativity with the public. Below is a description of their experience written by one of the students who sent this to me along with some photographs of the results of their work:

These are the pictures from our mud stenciling. We put them around the Wicker Park area. It was a really interesting process. People stopped to ask us what was going on and after we were done, we saw some people reading them from far away. We even got stopped by the cops about 5 times! We had to explain that what we were doing was legal and for public awareness against youth incarceration. (Some did not seem to agree with us very much). But overall it was a lot of fun and hopefully shed some light and awareness! It was a great intro project into getting involved with the Chicago community and we all look forward to working with [your organization] in the future.

About The Author

prison culture

I have been an anti-violence activist and organizer since my teen years. I recently founded and currently direct a grassroots organization in Chicago dedicated to eradicating youth incarceration. My anti-prison activism is an extension of my work as an anti-violence organizer.

Ramona Africa

A clear and frank discussion by sister Ramona Africa on the tragedy of the MOVE attack by the local and Federal government that essentially exterminated innocent men, women and children.

Free All Political Prisoners!


UNITY- Produced by Arkansas Educational Television Network. This unique prison based intervention and prevention program is being praised by many. Take an hour to see an amazing group of very different people working toward peace. Originally aired on AETN April 28, 2011.

Free Political Prisoner Rev. Joy Powell

Contact Joy Powell

Letters of support to Rev. Joy Powell are strongly encouraged. Let her know that she is not alone in her struggle for justice.
Rev. Joy is often in need of personal items, please contact her first to see what she is in need of. Here is a link to allowable items at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility:
Above items can be sent to:
Rev. Joy Powell #07g0632
Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 1000
Bedford Hills, New York 10507-2499
If you have questions about Joy's situation, you can also contact
Cleveland ABC Political Prisoner Support
The Reverend Joy Powell

Write to Rev. Joy Powell

Reverend Joy Powell 07g0632
Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 1000
Bedford Hills, NY 10507-2499

Reverend Joy Powell… raped, railroaded and bamboozled by the Rochester PD

OCG BLACK HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY 2011 10 pm EDT 04/30 by OCG | Blog Talk Radio

OCG BLACK HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY 2011 10 pm EDT 04/30 by OCG | Blog Talk Radio

Success depends upon previous preparation,

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure. ~ Confucius

Great miracles of freedom

Location: Chennai, India
Result: More than 500 people freed in IJM’s largest rescue operation ever
Today, 522 people are returning to their homes in freedom after being rescued from a brutal brick factory in IJM’s largest operation ever.
Earlier this week, a man reported that his younger brother was being held as a slave in the brick
Breaking News - 522 rescued
CHENNAI, India - Rescued from slavery, 143 families prepare to return to their homes. Read coverage of the operation in the Times of India.
factory. My IJM colleagues and the local government partnered to release him and found not just one man, but hundreds of children, women and men desperate to escape. The team quickly moved into action, initiating the biggest rescue operation in IJM’s history.
Conditions in the factory were brutal: A government medical official saw scars that indicated many of the victims may have been tortured. The laborers were forbidden to leave the factory, and did not have enough food. The owner has been placed under arrest.
But today, these families know great kindness and care, due to the commitment of the government officials who not only ordered their release but even held a special ceremony to celebrate their freedom.
These great miracles of freedom 

Signature - Gary Haugen - White
Gary Haugen
President and CEO
International Justice Mission

by JEFF CAMPBELL / NewsChannel 36
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Investigators have arrested five men for the alleged assault of a 19-year-old openly gay man outside a Rock Hill convenience store on April 9.

Bobby Wilson, Cortezio Douglas, LaJames Mitchell, Darenco Wilmore and Lortarius Duncan have all been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years behind bars.
The victim of the attack, 19-year-old Joshua Esskew, told NewsChannel 36 that he believes he was attacked because of his sexual orientation.

“I believe it was a hate crime. I believe, you know, they do not agree with my lifestyle,” Esskew said just days after the attack.

The attack was captured on surveillance video from the Spot Convenience Store on Cherry Road.

According to the York County Sheriff’s Office, 19-year-old Joshua Esskew got into a verbal altercation with 30-year-old Bobby Wilson. Detectives say Wilson hit Esskew over the head with a 40-ounce beer bottle.

The surveillance video shows several other suspects running toward the fight, joining the attack against Esskew.

Esskew was hospitalized overnight with trauma to the brain, bleeding to his head and mouth, and significant swelling around his right eye.

The 19-year-old was not available to talk with us after the arrests were made. However, we did talk with Esskew’s friend, Da-Neshia Reid, who was there the night of the attack.

“We both are very, very relieved,” Reid said.

Reid told NewsChannel 36 that Esskew is doing better and that he is raising awareness about the attack against him.

The surveillance video from the convenience store shows far more than five people in the vicinity of the fight. Detectives with the York County Sheriff’s Office say their investigation determined that only the five men arrested actually took part in the fight.

The FBI has also joined the investigation. It plans to hand over its case to the Department of Justice to determine whether any hate crimes charges will be filed.

True happiness is !

True happiness is... to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future. ~ Seneca

Drug abuse still a major concern in US

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN - Please release Sara Kruzan from prison now!

 @ Phil Cenedella

Dear Governor Brown
In 1978 you were 3 years into your first term as Governor of the Golden State,......and Sara Kruzan had not yet been born.

Fast forward 16 years...........1994.

You had a radio show that among other topics, focused on the inequity of our criminal justice system and your aim was to CHANGE it.

At that same time Sara, who was now 16 and a human trafficking victim, had been repeatedly raped for five years by men three times her age, sold for sex, beaten and tortured.

Fast Forward 16 years............2011.

You are again the leader of one of the greatest states in our nation.

Sara sits in a prison cell in the state of California.

Former-governor Schwarzenegger recently commuted Sara's sentence but did not release her from her prison cell, ........which quite honestly makes no sense to us at all.

As President Abraham Lincoln stated so eloquently:

"If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong."

We the people, hereby request you correct this criminal justice inequity for this one particular case and use it as a catalyst to re-evaluate how our society handles the inequities child victims of human trafficking (slavery) face in America today.

Governor Jerry Brown:

It's 2011, please immediately, without hesitation or conditions, release Sara Kruzan from prison and help us all CHANGE THE WORLD!

phil cenedella
executive director
national association of human trafficking victim advocates


'Show me your papers' politics could suppress black vote By Kristen Clarke

The 2012 election cycle is now underway. Beyond the Donald Trump-feuled debate over candidate qualifications during the past few weeks, one need look only at the troubling and seemingly coordinated strategy now unfolding around the country that seeks to erect new barriers aimed at locking voters out of the polls. Through mandatory photo id requirements, proof of citizenship bills and tighter burdens on ex-felons seeking to register to vote, a number of states are seeking to turn the clock by making it more difficult to register to vote or cast a ballot on Election Day.
Stop the Cuts - Full Funding of Public Education in North Carolina: http://bit.ly/iAAbDk via @addthis

Friday, 29 April 2011

Get On The Bus: 50 Years Of 'Freedom Rides'

May 4, 2011, marks the 50th anniversary of the first Freedom Ride. To commemorate the occasion Fresh Air is replaying interviews with civil rights activist James Farmer Jr., one of the organizers of the 1961 Freedom Ride, and historian Raymond Arsenault. Arsenault's book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice has just been rereleased as a companion volume to the film Freedom Riders, premiering May 16, 2011, on PBS.
In 1961, an integrated group of self-proclaimed "Freedom Riders" challenged segregation by riding together on segregated buses through the deep South. They demanded unrestricted access to the buses — as well as to terminal restaurants and waiting rooms — but pledged nonviolence.
Despite being backed by recent federal rulings declaring it unconstitutional to segregate bus riders, the Freedom Riders met with obstinate resistance, even by hatred and violence — as in Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala., where white supremacists attacked bus depots themselves. Local police often refused to intervene, but still the Freedom Riders kept to their pledge of nonviolence — and their efforts transformed the civil rights movement.
Historian Raymond Arsenault documents their journey in Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, detailing how the first Freedom Rides developed, from the personal level to the legal maneuvering involved. His narrative touches on elements from the jails of Alabama to the Kennedy White House. The book is now out in paperback.
Arsenault is the John Hope Franklin professor of Southern history at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and co-director of the university's Florida Studies program. His previous books include Crucible of Liberty: 200 Years of the Bill of Rights, which he edited.
Via @nprnews: Get On The Bus: 50 Years Of 'Freedom Rides' | http://t.co/Cjv5AlF

The Kissing Case' And The Lives It Shattered by NPR Staff

In 1958, James Hanover Thompson and his friend David Simpson — both African-American, both children — were accused of kissing a girl who was white. They were arrested, and taken to jail. Prosecutors sought a stiff penalty — living in reform school until they were 21.
"The Kissing Case," as it came to be known, drew international media attention to Monroe,N.C., at the time. But since then, it's been largely forgotten. Even the Thompson family rarely talked about it. Recently, James Hanover Thompson sat down with his younger brother, Dwight, and told him what happened.
"We were playing with some friends over in the white neighborhood, chasing spiders and wrestling and stuff like that," James says.
"One of the little kids suggested that one of the little white girls give us a kiss on the jaw," he says. "The little girl gave me a peck on the cheek, and then she kissed David on the cheek. So, we didn't think nothing of it. We were just little kids."
But the little girl mentioned the kiss back home, and her parents were furious; the police set out in search of the boys.
"The police car pulled up, and they said, 'We're taking y'all to jail,'" James says. "I didn't know what was going on. But when we got down to the police station, we understand that they said that we had raped a little white girl."
The two boys — James, 9, and David, 7 — were charged with molestation. And their punishment started immediately.
"They uh... took us down in the bottom of the police station to a cell. And they had us handcuffed — they started beating us," James says. "They was beating us to our body, you know? They didn't beat us to the face, where nobody could see it; they just punched us all in the stomach, and back and legs. We was hollering and screaming. We thought they was gonna kill us."
James says that he and David were held in jail for about six days before they were allowed to see their parents. And soon after, they were sent to reform school, with the possibility that they might be released before they turned 21.
News reports of the case spread far and wide — it became the "Kissing Case" in many headlines. Officials from the NAACP and Eleanor Roosevelt were among those who reportedly asked North Carolina Gov. Luther Hodges to show clemency in the case.
Eventually, the governor pardoned James and David, and they were released after spending three months in detention.
James' sister, Brenda Lee Graham, also spoke about those days with Dwight, who was born in 1961, and grew up not knowing much about the incident.
"Mom was a nervous wreck. She didn't sleep," Brenda tells Dwight. "She would be up walking the floors and praying."
Remembering what life was like for the rest of the family while the authorities were holding James, Brenda says, "I remember that at night, you could see them burning crosses..."
"Right there in the front yard?" Dwight asks.
"Right there in the front yard," Brenda says. "And my mom and them, they would go out in the morning, and sweep bullets off our front porch."
James says that each week during his detention, he was sent to a psychologist. "And he'd tell me, 'They should have castrated y'all.' I mean, it was just something," he says.
Brenda says that when James came back home, "it was like seeing somebody different, that you didn't even know. He never talked about what he went through there. But ever since then, his mind just hadn't been the same."
And, James says, while he and David were pardoned, they never got an apology, either.
"I still feel the hurt and the pain from it," he says. "And nobody never said, 'Hey, look, I'm sorry what happened to y'all. It was wrong.'"
He has spent most of his adult life in and out of prison for robbery.
"I always sit around and I wonder, if this hadn't happened to me, you know, what could I have turned out to be?" James says. "Could I have been a doctor? Could I have went off to some college, or some great school? It just destroyed our life."
Brenda says, "My brother and his friend had to suffer on account of that. And I mean, they suffered. From one kiss. I've thought about that. It all started with a kiss."
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.
Via @nprnews: 'The Kissing Case' And The Lives It Shattered | http://t.co/icrnmgz

A Freedom Ride Organizer On Nonviolent Resistance

May 4, 2011, marks the 50th anniversary of the first Freedom Ride. To commemorate the occasion Fresh Air is replaying interviews with civil rights activist James Farmer Jr., one of the organizers of the 1961 Freedom Ride, and historian Raymond Arsenault. Arsenault's book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice has just been rereleased as a companion volume to the film Freedom Riders, premiering May 16, 2011, on PBS.
The late James Farmer Jr. was one of the architects of the civil rights movement in America. In 1942, Farmer co-led what he believed was the first coed civil rights sit-in in American history at a Chicago restaurant that refused to serve African-Americans.
The same year, Farmer co-founded CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, which was one of the first civil rights groups to apply Gandhi's principles of nonviolent resistance.
"At that time, I was a pacifist — a conscientious objector from World War II — and as a pacifist, I was concerned with finding nonviolent solutions to violent conflict situations domestically," he told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1985. "But my primary interest was, of course, race. And therefore, I was driven to study Gandhi, an architect of the technique which he called satyagraha, meaning soul force. We have come to call it nonviolent direct action, or nonviolent resistance."
Farmer's nonviolent demonstrations were answered by attacks by white mobs and arrests of CORE members during the Freedom Rides in the early '60s.
CORE's early groups of Freedom Riders rode buses through the Southern states, to see to it that the Supreme Court decision banning segregation in bus terminals was actually being enforced. The resulting drama focused national attention on the violence of Southern racism.
"By the time the buses reached Montgomery, [Ala.], one of the buses had been burned to the ground," he said. "Freedom Riders had been brutally beaten. Jim Peck, a white Freedom Rider from New York was left for dead, lying in a pool of his own blood, and he had 56 stitches taken in his head."
As the South desegregated, Farmer's emphasis shifted to fighting economic and political discrimination and other problems faced by black communities.
Farmer became the national director of CORE from 1961-1966. He also belonged to the Big Six, a national coalition of top civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, John Lewis and Whitney Young.
Farmer attempted to work for social change from inside the government after accepting the position of assistant secretary of health, education and welfare under President Nixon. But he left in frustration after one year and went back to consulting, where he continued to work on issues like education and political discrimination. In 1985, he published his autobiography, Lay Bare the Heart. The same year, he spoke to Gross about his time in CORE.
Via @nprnews: A Freedom Ride Organizer On Nonviolent Resistance | http://t.co/rmJly8j

Commentary: Is Slavery Back in Effect?

With so many Black men being incarcerated, are we seeing a new form of slavery?

Recently, a friend sent me a link to an article that contained some disturbing information about African-American males. According to the article, there are more Black men under some form of correctional supervision (incarceration or probation) now than were enslaved prior to the Civil War.
My first reaction was that this couldn’t be accurate—not after all of the many struggles we’ve waged to make this country better, not just for African-Americans, but for all people. Slavery and segregation are relics of the past. We even have a Black president, for Pete’s sake. There is no way we could have backslid like this. I refused to believe it. But the historian in me knew better than relying on a gut reaction, so I did some investigation. Well, I was wrong. Not only is Jim Crow alive and well, it is likely living in an area near you.
According to legal scholar Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking best-selling book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, this disturbing fact is true, despite reports that violent crime is steadily decreasing. The mass incarceration of Black males is largely due to the tough drug laws implemented during the Reagan-Bush era. Under these laws, more poor people of color than whites were locked away on non-violent drug offenses. These laws were enacted in order to appeal to the largely white Southern voting base that makes up a significant portion of the Republican voting constituency. As a result of these discriminatory laws, nearly half of young Black males have been branded felons for life.
As felons, they are given permanent underclass status that prevents them from voting, gaining access to public housing and some forms of federal assistance that could help them get back on their feet and become productive members of society. Thus, the likelihood of these felons returning to prison becomes extremely high. All of this bodes well for the burgeoning prison industrial complex that profits off locking people up, but it has devastating effects on African-Americans. Add this to the fact that the 13th amendment of the Constitution outlawed any type of involuntary servitude except when the State is punishing an individual for a crime and the implications of this mass incarceration are outright frightening.
There’s an old saying that goes "the more things change, the more they remain the same." As an ardent student of history for the past 30 years or more, I have seen historical patterns that emulate some sort of eerie time warp. It’s high time we did something to break free from the chains of this pattern.

(Photo:  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT/Landov)

Shackled no more: Justice for Juana

the Nashville, TN Sheriff's office has been found guilty of violating the Constitutional rights of Juana Villegas, a pregnant immigrant woman who was inhumanely shackled during labor and denied proper treatment after a traffic stop, of which she was later cleared.

Back in 2008, through documentary and our interactive experience, Homeland Guantanamos, we put a face to Juana Villegas's story.  Because of an agreement between local police and federal immigration authorities, called 287g, she was picked up, detained and shackled during labor.  She was not allowed to use a breast pump to nurse her newborn child.  Villegas said, "The nurse brought me a breast pump... she asked permission for me to take it to jail... again the sheriff said, no."
Watch our first interview with Juana below:

Villegas's case sheds light on the grave injustices in our broken immigration system.  As we continue to tell these stories, in the hope of similar successes, we ask that you play our new Facebook game, America 2049, which weaves human rights issues into each week of game play. Next week, the game explores the struggles of Latino immigrants.
This ruling against the Nashville Sheriff's office is a historic step.  We will continue to tell stories, invite conversation, and inspire action that will help America move even further in the right direction.

The One

A Wrongful Conviction In The Makings


In the County of Lamar - Paris, Texas, The case of Bobby Yates and at least twenty others handled by Lamar County Attorney Gary Young, are in need of in depth investigations by the United States Department of Justice. Lamar County Attorney Gary Young's thirst for convictions by any means necessary, results in wrongful convictions, excessive sentences, and alarming rates of juveniles tried as adults. In the case of disabled, Bobby Yates (currently age 51), an indictment was secured for Sexual Assault of A Child.

A hunting accident which occurred twenty (20) years ago, resulted in  Mr.Yates' lower body being amputated, he also underwent a penectomy (removal of the penis). Penectomy's result in NO sexual desires.  On September 22, 2008, Yates was arrested and charged with Sexual Assault of a Child by using his fingers. Bobby Yates is Innocent! 

Even though Bobby Yates called 911 for help, the police reports state that the the 16 year old white female called 911. The 911 tapes tell the true story. The tape however does mention that the female was so high on drugs that her speech was slurred. To secure an indictment, a photo of Bobby Yates was taken to make it appear as though he was not handicapped. Yates is confined to a wheelchair with a lower body amputation. His height was omitted and there was no explanation of not having lower limbs. This is yet an additional attempt of Lamar County Attorney to secure a conviction by any means necessary.

 Bobby Yates lived in Ridgeview Town homes for 5 years without problems.  He had no criminal history. On March 18, 2008 at approx 1:30 or 2 AM, Bobby Yates got a knock on his door that would change his life.

A 16 year old white female and two adult white males, asked Bobby if they could enter into his home while claiming they were locked out of their own homes. Bobby reluctantly allowed them in. Several hours later, Bobby made a 911 call. He told the operator that three people were in his home threatening his life and he was afraid of them and they would not leave. He said one of the three assaulted him by beating him in his face. Bobby can be heard on the 911 call telling the group to get out of his home and telling them not to come near him. The police came and Bobby told them the three had refused to leave and they jerked the phone from him preventing him from using it the first time he tried to call. He attempted to leave out his front door and they grabbed his wheelchair and prevented Yates from leaving. The female claimed Bobby touched her vagina even though the two men were in the same room with her -- the entire time she was in Bobby’s home.

Bobby Yates Was Forced To Move

Bobby Yates Was Forced To Move
Nigger Move and KKK

Bobby Yates

Bobby Yates
Nigger Move and KKK Written Outside

Bobby Yates Former Home

Bobby Yates Former Home
Bobby was forced out of this home

Protesters Demand Resignation of Woman Who Sent Racist Obama Email by: Robin Marty

It's been nearly two weeks since Orange County Republican Central Committee member Marilyn Davenport sent an email out to colleagues and friends that showed the President of the United State photoshopped onto the body of a chimp, and although Davenport has apologized for possibly offending people, she has refused to resign from her role in the party.

Now the calls for her to step down are growing louder, with local chapters of the NAACP, Islamic Hope, and the Coalition for Justice and Peace all holding protests against the woman -- at her own house.

These outside groups aren't the only ones calling for Davenport's resignation, either.  In fact, her own Chairman is also urging her to step aside amidst the controversy:

Scott Baugh, Chairman of the Orange County Republican Central Committee, has asked Davenport to resign her position.
Davenport has been adamant in the press that she will not resign.
On Sunday, Baugh said, "I saw the e-mail and I thought it was despicable."
He told the O.C. Weekly which broke the story, "Anybody who crosses a line this bright has no business being an elected official representing other people, holding herself out as a person of trust to make decisions on behalf of the party." He said he received the Davenport email and quickly sent a reply telling her it was "dripping with racism and is in very poor taste."
He said he thought the Orange County Republican's ethics committee should take up the matter but admitted a recall or firing isn't feasible because of costs and committee policy constraints.
Davenport has stated repeatedly that she will not consider resigning from her leadership role within the local GOP, regardless of the controversy.

Read more: politics, racism, tea party

Charged For Crimes Against Fetus -- What About The Woman? by: Robin Marty

One of the most disturbing trends in the battle over reproductive rights is the growing attempts to establish fetuses and even fertilized eggs as having more rights than the women who carry them.  From Personhood amendments to feticide bills, the moment a sperm and egg meet, regardless of even implantation, is seen by many in the anti-choice movement to have greater importance than the pregnant woman.

Personhood amendments have a tendency to be shut down as overzealous overreaching on the part of anti-abortion extremists.  But other events occur that set the same precedent, and are much less noticed and sometimes even championed as a protection of women.

Women have already been shown in the legal system to have less value than the potential children they are carrying when you see cases regarding "criminalized miscarriage," such as the one in Utah where a young woman is being tried for having someone beat her until she lost her baby.  Then there is the pregnant woman who is in jail for attempted suicide, who survived but the baby she was carrying did not.

But a new case in Ohio is even more disturbing.  A man who forced his pregnant girlfriend by gunpoint to go to an abortion clinic may be sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempted murder.

No, not of the girlfriend.  Of the fetus.

The Washington Post reports:

Dominic Holt-Reid pulled a gun Oct. 6 on girlfriend Yolanda Burgess, who was three months pregnant, and forced her to drive to an abortion clinic, police said. Burgess, who was 26 at the time, did not go through with the procedure but instead passed a note to a clinic employee, who called police.
Prosecutors had brought their case against Holt-Reid using the state's 1996 law that says a person can be found guilty of murder for causing the unlawful termination of a pregnancy.
Holt-Reid, 28, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $40,000 fine. A presentencing investigation was ordered, and the next hearing was scheduled for June 9.

The Ohio fetal homicide law and statues like it in other states have typically been used to win convictions in car crashes in which a pregnant woman died and in cases involving attacks on expectant mothers. Legal experts have said they were unfamiliar with such a law being cited in a case similar to Holt-Reid's.
I would think that most people would agree that forcing someone to go anywhere by gunpoint is a pretty serious crime.  Making someone do something against her will, especially a physical procedure, with the threat of taking her life is she does not do it, is horrible.

So why is he being charged with attempted murder of the fetus instead, and why does that come with a larger punishment than what it is that he actually did -- abduction at gunpoint and attempted assault?

Because Ohio has an extremely anti-choice legislature, one that is trying to pass a multitude of different abortion restrictions which would set up numerous abortions after various gestational ages as illegal.  By using a man threatening his pregnant girlfriend at gunpoint, this case can also set a standard for charging a doctor with an "unlawful termination of a pregnancy."

If Ohio actually does manage to pass something like the Heartbeat Bill, expect any doctor who performs an abortion after the 18 days post conception point to also be charged with "unlawful termination" with a sentence of 20 years.

When innocence is pink

Wrongly convicted women fight for recognition, support, remedies

Why the Creator of 'The Wire' Turned the Camera to New Orleans

By Vince Beiser , The Progressive


David Simon is piloting his road-worn Volkswagen Passat through the streets of New Orleans, his mind on the city. As we roll from one filming location to another of his HBO show Treme, he points out landmarks: the Industrial Canal that burst its banks during Hurricane Katrina; the Lower Ninth Ward that was drowned as a result; the former site of a studio where some of the city's most important musicians cut their first records.
"We want the show to be about New Orleans," he says. "It's about what New Orleans means, about why it matters."
Simon is best known as the creator of The Wire, HBO's sprawling but intricately intertwined saga of crime, justice, politics, and the press in a terminally decaying Baltimore. In person, he's garrulous and aggressively intelligent, sociable without exactly being friendly. He has rounded features and an ursine frame clad in sneakers, jeans, a Kangol cap, and a hoodie that seems barely adequate protection from the damp, biting wind on this December day.
At each set, he slaps backs and checks in with the actors, writers, and crew, making sure that what is being filmed is as close to real as he can make it. For a scene set in an office of the Road Home federal aid program for Katrina victims, he wants to make sure the building they're using really is a Road Home office. At a murder scene, he looks to see whether there are bullet casings on the ground. And at a shot including a trumpet solo by legendary local jazzman Kermit Ruffins, Simon swaps a quick man-hug with the actor he's hired for the part: Kermit Ruffins.
After thirteen years as a crime reporter at the Baltimore Sun, Simon abandoned the sinking ship of newspaper journalism in the mid-1990s to write for Homicide, the NBC series based on his nonfiction book about Baltimore cops. In 2000, he adapted another book he authored into The Corner, an HBO miniseries focusing on the dealers, addicts, and civilians enmeshed in the drug market of a West Baltimore street. That netted Simon three Emmy awards, and was the seed from which The Wire's five-season run grew. Though The Wire never drew a huge audience, critics drooled over its multifaceted structure and nuanced portrayal of the lives of those cast off, forgotten, and fucked over by the post-industrial American economy, from petty drug dealers to inner city schoolteachers to laid-off dock workers.
Treme, the second season of which premieres April 24, is in some ways a similar meditation on post-Katrina New Orleans. But Treme is not another cop show. Even though police, drugs, and prisons figure into Treme's several braided and branching storylines, the show's central concern is a unique segment of New Orleans's working class: musicians, and what they mean for the city. Over the course of a working afternoon and a gumbo and po' boy dinner, Simon explains why.
Q:You've said Treme is not The Wire set in New Orleans. But it is a similar kind of animal. It's a many-sided, many-charactered, novelistic examination of a badly damaged American city. Is there a common theme between them?
David Simon: Well, in terms of governance or institutions, the New Orleans of Treme may be as problematic as the Baltimore of The Wire. Even more so, because 80 percent of it went under water a short time before. So, it's clearly the same backdrop. But it's saying something different using that backdrop.
This show, if we do it right, is an argument for the city. For the idea of American urbanity, for the melting pot, for the idea that our future can't be separated from the fact that we are all going to be increasingly compacted into urban areas, though we're different in race and culture and religion. And what we make of that will determine the American future.
I listened during the last election cycle to the rhetoric about small town values and where the real Americans live. I thought to myself, "I've never heard such bullshit in my life." Rural America's not coming back. That idea was lost with the Industrial Revolution. And yet with more than 80 percent of Americans living in metropolitan areas, there are still demagogues who want to run down the idea of multiculturalism, of urbanity, being the only future we have. We either live or die based on how we live in cities, and our society is either going to be great or not based on how we perform as creatures of the city.
Q: You wrote once that The Wire was "ruminations on the end of empire. What it's like for a society to no longer have the will to pull itself, as a whole, as a single entity, forward. That's a recipe for the disenfranchisement of significant portions of the country." That sounds like it could apply just as easily to New Orleans as to Baltimore.
Simon: Yeah, it can. One thing we're trying to show is the lack of political and social will to help New Orleans. People here felt alone after the storm. Entirely alone. Alienated not just from Washington or the rest of the country but the rest of the state. We have no sense of the collective anymore in America. The response to Katrina was proof positive of that.
But what brought this city back has been culture: an unyielding unwillingness to part with the living tradition that is life in New Orleans. One crawfish etouffe, one saxophone solo at a time, the city is coming back. Before the storm, 77 percent of the people who lived here were born here. In the transient state that is modern America, that's a remarkable statistic. It speaks to the fact that people who are from here can't imagine living their life anywhere else. There's so many reasons not to be here. The crime is rampant. The police department is as dysfunctional as any in the country. The school system's among the worst in America. The infrastructure. . . . Have you seen these potholes?
Q: They're very impressive.
Simon: This is what happens when you have no tax base. Corruption is endemic. Yet, people came home and they continue to come home. This city comes back because it's New Orleans.
The rest of America, with some small exceptions, has been bulldozed and rebuilt and then bulldozed and rebuilt again. Our places have become interchangeable. Here, everything from the architecture to the way in which people eat, the way in which they talk, the way in which they do business, the way in which they dance, the manner in which everything is set to a parade beat, they're all from here. There's no place like it.
What city has given the world more in terms of American culture than New Orleans? There is none. Not New York. Not L.A. Not Chicago. Not any- where, in the sense that African American music has gone around the world twenty times over, and it's continuing to evolve. It is our greatest cultural export.
Q: Greatest in what sense?
Simon: In an empirical sense. What else would you compare to it?
Q: Movies and TV.
Simon: That's not ours. The Germans invented that.
Q: Maybe they invented film, but Hollywood movies are one of the most ubiquitous cultural products in the world.
Simon: Listen, we didn't create the culture of film. We certainly market it better than anyone in the world, but film could have happened anywhere. It's not distinctly American, as witnessed by the fact that there are film communities throughout the world that tell stories to their own cultural liking. Blue jeans have gone around the world. But that's a product. We market blue jeans better, just as we market film better. But you can't tell me that if America didn't exist, the culture of movies wouldn't exist. It's not a distinctly American art form.
But African American music can't happen in Germany or in Italy or in Mumbai. If America disappeared off the face of the Earth today, the greatest single cultural loss would be blues, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, rock-and-roll. If you go into a bar or a shebeen or a tavern anywhere in the world, Timbuktu, London, Ouagadougou, Johannesburg, anywhere you go, if they have a jukebox there will be American music. This is the cradle of it. This is where it happened, Congo Square, the Trem neighborhood. The marriage of the West African pentatonic scale and rhythm to European arrangement and instrumentation happened in eight square blocks of this city and was nurtured in this city and is still nurtured in this city as a living tradition. That represents, without a doubt, the greatest truly American cultural contribution.
Q: Another theme that crops up a lot in Treme is authenticity--who belongs here, who doesn't, who's really from New Orleans, who isn't. What are you trying to say with all that?
Simon: It's a form of patriotism. That is the patriot- ism that was once reserved for the nation-state. Where immigrant families would compete against other immigrant families over who had been here the longest and who was the most invested. That was when the identification with the American ideal and the American collective seemed not only utterly desirable but essential. Because America, in turn, was identifying with the collective, with every class. It wasn't as if the rich weren't going to get richer; it wasn't as if the poor didn't have a harder life. But everybody, certainly from the time of the New Deal, believed in the ideal that we were all in this together. Or at least enough people believed it that we bought into that notion that the poor and the middle class and the rich were all invested in the same collective outcome. Nobody was going to get there on their own.
It was a time before gated communities. It was a time before charter schools. It was a time before cap- ital had won a complete victory over labor. Before globalization. When you believed your tomorrow might be better than your today, even if it was only going to be marginally better, or even if it was your kids that were going to have it better. If you were invested, and if you got up, dragged your ass to work every day, there was going to be a place for you. When that held, patriotism couldn't be made to seem naive. Belief in the nation-state was plausible.
In the wake of Katrina, what you're witnessing and what we are very careful to depict is a form of patriot- ism. An insistence on belonging in this nation-state-- New Orleans. People from here will often say, "I'm not from the United States, I'm from New Orleans."
Q: How does working as a writer of fictional TV narratives compare to that of being a journalist?
Simon: More people pay attention to fiction and to narrative than pay attention to journalism. That's quite sad. More people pay attention to television than to prose. That's equally sad, if not more so. I wrote a book (The Corner) that was a very deliberate critique of the drug war. Because it was made into a miniseries, I may have sold a couple hundred thou- sand of them so far in a country of 300 million.
By comparison, over time, with DVD sales and re-watch and whatever, maybe ten million people have seen the television version of The Corner. Maybe twenty million people have seen The Wire.
Nobody reads anymore in America. Reading has become the least effective delivery system for narrative. That's sad because prose is the means by which you can deliver very complicated, nuanced explanations of problems and possible solutions.
A TV show can't hold people and institutions to account like good journalism can. But if I can make you care about a character, I may make you think a little longer about certain dynamics that might cause you to reconsider your own political inertia or your own political myopia. You might be more willing to accept a critique of the prevailing political and social systems. Or not. Because a lot of times The Wire was entertaining just because it was entertaining, and people watched it and they got no political message whatsoever. Or it reaffirmed their belief that "they're in the ghetto because they deserve it."
The best I can hope for is that I might provoke a water cooler argument between you and somebody else. But it is not journalism. It doesn't have the rigor of journalism. It doesn't have the proof positive that facts provide. So it can be readily dismissed as mere propaganda. But I can certainly reach more people.
Q: You're a guy who wants to make a difference. You want to have an impact . . .
Simon: I'm a socialist. I'm not a Marxist, but I am a socialist. You hear these sons of bitches invoke social- ism to suggest that we shouldn't have an actuarial group of 300 million people and keep all of us a little more healthy by sharing. It's a thoughtless triumph of ignorance.
Both parties fear telling the truth. The collapse of all democratic integrity over taxes is near complete. I'm making a lot of money. I should be paying a lot more taxes. I'm not paying taxes at a rate that is even close to what people were paying under Eisenhower. Do people think America wasn't ascendant and wasn't an upwardly mobile society under Eisenhower in the '50s? Nobody was looking at the country then and thinking to themselves, "We're taxing ourselves into oblivion." Yet there isn't a politician with balls enough to tell that truth because the whole system has been muddied by the rich. It's been purchased.
But the thing about Treme or even The Wire is that at no point can the characters say the kind of shit that I'm saying to you because no characters would. You've got to love your characters for who they are. Antoine Batiste, he's a musician. He's thinking about where the next gig is, and pussy. And not necessarily in that order.
Vince Beiser is a Miller-McCune contributing editor based in Los Angeles.
© 2011 The Progressive All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/150747/

How a Human Rights Nightmare Can Happen in Our Country on Our Watch -- and Go Virtually Undiscussed

 By Michelle Alexander
If we fail to commit ourselves to ending mass incarceration, future generations will judge us harshly.
So much about our racial reality today is little more than a mirage. The promised land of racial equality wavers, quivers just out of our reach in the barren desert of our new, "colorblind" political landscape. It looks so good from a distance: Barack Obama, our nation's first black president, standing in the Rose Garden behind a podium looking handsome, dignified, and in charge. Flip the channel and there's Michelle Obama, a brown-skinned woman, digging a garden in the backyard of the White House -- not as a servant or a maid -- but as the first lady, schooling the nation on better health and the need to be good stewards of our planet. Flip the channel again and there's the whole Obama family exiting Air Force One, waving to the crowd, descending the flight of stairs -- a gorgeous black family living in the White House, ruling America, cheered by the world.

Drive a few blocks from the White House and you find the Other America. You find you're still in the desert, dying of thirst, wondering what wrong turn was made, and how you managed to miss the promised land, though you reached for it with all your might. A vast new racial undercaste now exists in America, though their plight is rarely mentioned on the evening news. Obama won't mention it; the Tea Party won't mention it; media pundits would rather talk about anything else. The members of the undercaste are largely invisible to those of us who have jobs, live in decent neighborhoods, and zoom around on freeways, passing by the virtual and literal prisons in which they live.

But here are the facts. There are more African American adults under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. In major urban areas, like Chicago -- Obama's hometown -- the majority of working-age African American men have criminal records are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their lives. Millions of people in the United States, primarily poor people of color, are denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement: the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, and the right to be free from discrimination in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits. They have been branded "criminals" and "felons" and now find themselves relegated to a permanent, second-class status for the rest of their lives. They live in a parallel social universe, the Other America.
We, as a nation, are in deep denial about how this came to pass. On the rare occasions when the existence of "them" -- the others, the ghetto dwellers, those locked up and locked out -- is publicly acknowledged, standard excuses are trotted out for their condition. We're told black culture, bad schools, poverty, and broken homes are to blame. Almost no one admits: We declared war. We declared a war on them. We declared a war on the most vulnerable people in our society and then blamed them for the wreckage.

And yet that is precisely what we did. We declared a war known as the War on Drugs. The war has driven the quintupling of our prison population in a few short decades. The vast majority of the startling increase in incarceration in America is traceable to the arrest and imprisonment of poor people of color for non-violent, drug-related offenses. Families have been torn apart, young lives shattered, as parents grieve the loss of loved ones to the system, often hiding their grief under a cloak of shame. Politicians claim that the enemy in this war in is a thing -- "drugs" -- not a group of people, but the facts prove otherwise.

African Americans have been admitted to prison on drug charges at a rate up to 57 times higher than whites. In some states, 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison have been African American. The rate of Latino imprisonment has been staggering as well. Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers are white, three-fourths of all people imprisoned for drug offenses have been black and Latino.

Studies have consistently shown that people of all colors use and sell drugs at remarkably similar rates, yet this war has been waged almost exclusively in poor, ghetto communities. For those who are tempted to imagine that the goal of the war has been to root out violent offenders or drug kingpins, think again. Federal funding flows to those state and local law enforcement agencies that boost dramatically the sheer volume of drug arrests; it's a numbers game. Agencies don't get rewarded for bringing down drug bosses or arresting violent offenders. They're rewarded in cash for arresting people en masse. Ghetto communities are swept for the "low hanging fruit" -- which generally means young people hanging out the street corner, walking to school or the subway, or driving around with their friends. They're stopped and searched for any reason or no reason at all. In 2005, for example, 4 out of 5 drug arrests were for possession; only one of five for sales. And in the 1990's -- the period of the most drastic expansion of the drug war -- nearly 80 percent of the increase in drug arrests were for marijuana possession, a drug less harmful than alcohol and tobacco and at least as prevalent in middle class white communities and on college campuses, as it is in poor communities of color.

The drug war, though, has been waged almost exclusively in poor, ghetto communities. It is here, in the poverty-stricken, racially segregated ghettos, where the War on Poverty has been abandoned and factory jobs have disappeared, that the drug war has been waged with the greatest ferocity. SWAT teams are deployed here; buy-bust operations are concentrated here; drug raids of schools and housing projects occur here; stop-and-frisk operations are conducted on the streets. If the tactics of the drug war were employed in middle class white neighborhoods or college campuses there would be public outrage; the war would end overnight. But here in the ghetto, the stops, searches, sweeps, and mass arrests are treated like an accepted fact of life, like the separate water fountains of an earlier era. By the millions, people are arrested, marched into courtrooms in shackles, and when released, they're stripped of their right to vote and their right to serve on juries. Discrimination against them is officially legal. Barred from public housing and denied even food stamps, millions find they are deemed unworthy of the nation's care or concern. Jobless, hungry, without shelter, and riddled with shame, they're trapped in the desert wasteland. The majority of those released from prison return within months of their release, unable to make it on the outside. The racial mirage wavers in the distance, mockingly.

It is impossible to imagine anything like this happening if the enemy in the drug war were white. Economist Glenn Loury made this observation in his book The Anatomy of Racial Inequality. He noted that it is nearly impossible to imagine anything remotely similar to mass incarceration happening to young white men. Can we envision a system that would enforce drug laws almost exclusively against young white men and largely ignore drug crime among young black men? Can we imagine large majorities of young white men being rounded up for minor drug offenses, placed under the control of the criminal justice system, labeled felons, and then subjected to a lifetime of discrimination, scorn and exclusion? Can we imagine this happening while most black men landed decent jobs or trotted off to college? No, we cannot. If such a thing occurred, it would occasion a most profound reflection about what had gone wrong, not with them, but us -- all of us. It would never be dismissed with the thought that white men were simply reaping what they have sown. The large-scale criminalization of white men would disturb us to the core.

So the critical questions become: What disturbs us? What upsets us? What seems anomalous? What is contrary to expectation? Or more to the point: Whom do we care about?

An answer to the last question may be found by considering the drastically different manner that we, as a nation, responded to drunk driving in the mid-1980s, as compared to crack cocaine. During the 1980s, at the same time the "crack epidemic" was making headlines, a broad-based grassroots movement was under way to address the widespread and sometimes fatal problem of drunk driving. Unlike the drug war, which was initiated by political elites long before ordinary people identified drug crime as an issue of extraordinary concern, the movement to crack down on drunk drivers was a bottom-up movement, led most notably by mothers whose families were shattered by deaths caused by drunk driving.

Media coverage of the movement peaked in 1988, when a drunk driver traveling the wrong way on Interstate 71 in Kentucky caused a head-on collision with a school bus. Twenty-seven people died and dozens more were injured in the ensuing fire. The tragic accident, known as the Carrollton bus disaster, was one of the worst in U.S. history. In the aftermath, several parents of the victims became actively involved in Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and one became its national president. Throughout the 1980s, drunk driving was a regular topic in the media, and the term "designated driver" became part of the American lexicon.

At the close of the decade, dunk drivers were responsible for approximately 22,000 deaths annually, while overall alcohol-related deaths were close to 100,000 a year. By contrast, during the same time period, there were no prevalence statistics at all on crack, much less crack-related deaths. In fact, the number of deaths related to all illegal drugs combined was tiny compared to the number of deaths caused by drunk drivers. The total of all drug-related deaths due to AIDS, drug overdose, or the violence associated with the illegal drug trade, was estimated at 21,000 annually -- less than the number of deaths directly caused by drunk drivers, and a small fraction of the number of alcohol-related deaths that occur every year.

In response to growing concern -- fueled by advocacy groups such as MADD and by the media coverage of drunk-driving fatalities -- most states adopted tougher laws to punish drunk driving. Numerous states now have some type of mandatory sentencing for this offense -- typically two days in jail for a first offense and two to ten days for a second offense. New laws governing crack cocaine were passed at the same time as legislatures were "getting tough" on drunk drivers. But notice the contrast: While drunk driving results in a few days in prison, possession of a tiny amount of crack carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison. In fact, some people are serving life sentences for minor drug offenses. In Harmelin v. Michigan, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a sentence of life imprisonment for a defendant with no prior convictions who tried to sell 23 ounces of crack cocaine. The Court concluded that life imprisonment was not "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment, despite the fact that no other developed country in the world imposes life imprisonment for a first time drug offense.

The vastly different sentences afforded drunk drivers and drug offenders speaks volumes regarding who is viewed as disposable -- someone to be purged from the body politic -- and who is not. Drunk drivers are predominately white and male. White men comprised 78 percent of the arrests for drunk driving when new mandatory minimums for the offense were being adopted. They are generally charged with misdemeanors and typically receive sentences involving fines, license suspension, and community service. Although drunk driving carriers are far greater risk of violent death than the use or sale of illegal drugs, the societal response to drunk drivers has generally emphasized keeping the person functional and in society, while attempting to respond to the dangerous behavior through treatment and counseling. People charged with drug offenses, though, are disproportionately poor people of color. They are typically charged with felonies and sentenced to prison. If and when they're released, they become members of the undercaste, no longer locked up, but locked out -- for the rest of their lives.

This is not a problem begging merely for policy reform. Much more is required of us. If we fail, as a nation, to awaken to the basic humanity of all those cycling in and out of prison today, and if we fail to commit ourselves to ending mass incarceration, future generations will judge us harshly. A human rights nightmare is occurring on our watch.

We must do more than bring water to those stranded in the desert. We must act with courage and tell the truth about what is happening in the Other America. In the words of Cornell West, "justice is what love looks like in public." If we aim to show love, we must be willing to work for justice.
 How a Human Rights Nightmare Can Happen in Our Country on Our Watch -- and Go Virtually Undiscusse.. http://bit.ly/kg7GKH

Thursday, 28 April 2011


Homeless Mom Arrested For Enrolling Son In School

A homeless mother faces up to 20 years in prison for enrolling her son in a public school in a wealthy neighborhood. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss.

Vote for The Young Turks in the Webbys in News/Politics Series. Go now, voting closes April 28! http://bit.ly/hnif5g

Stop Sex Trafficking Where It Starts

How can we stop sex trafficking where it starts? Pat Trueman, CEO of Morality in Media and Founder of PornHarms.com, joins Tony Perkins, President of FRC, to talk about what leads to Sex Trafficking, and how we can take steps to confront the problem at its origin.

to view the entire webcast
go to

the butterfly's tale ~

the butterfly's tale;
Swarms of butterflys were once widespread across our countrysides, but now you will be lucky to see one or two...
The decline is due to Industrial agriculture, the loss of 97% England's natural grasslands and wildflower meadows, the increase of motorways and urban development plus climate change which brings new predators and diseases..
Butterflys are essential eco system pollinators benefiting both agriculture and medical science for its plant derived medecines, as well as being sensitive indicators of environmental change.

The last species extinct in Britain, the Large Blue (Maculinea Arion)(d.1979) was re-established in the 1980's by Professor Thomas, who stated "What is bad for butterflys is bad for all species -- including our own''.
( http://www.butterflyworldproject.com/ )
Other Species recently extinct in the UK; Mazarine Blue (d.1904) Black-Veined White (d.1925) & Large Tortoiseshell(d.1970's). Currently 1/3 of only 435 species in Europe are under threat...
Around the world the Large Copper of Ireland, Giant Swallowtail of Jamaica, Atewa of Ghana, American Silverspot and Apollo of the Alps have also become extinct.
In The USA the Monarch butterfly now faces drastic reductions following destruction of their milkweed seeding plant by biotech agricultural chemicals.

On a brighter note, in 2008 Sir David Attenborough the BBC's Natural history broadcaster launched a £25m conservation project to reverse this disaster. Butterfly World, has 250 species flying in its dome, and also hosts extensive gardens and meadows to attract native British species.
( http://www.butterflyworldproject.com/ )

To save the butterfly, plant suitable nectar producing plants, the best are the Buddlea, Ice-plant, Lavender, Michaelmas Daisy and Marjoram.
Caterpillars also need feeding so plant Holly and Ivy in sunny positions where they can grow tall and flower, & keep the Stinging Nettles as these are home for the Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflys.

Original Poem the butterfly's tale c. Celestial Elf 2011.
( http://celestialelfdanceoflife.blogspot.com/2011/04/butterflys-tale.html )

Bright Blessings ~

As the Lepidopterist, Yayoo Qunhua.
As Butterflies, Brooke Baran, FreeSky Republic, Korey Meadowbrook, Nifredil Infinity,
Butterfly People Freesky Republic, Sienna Panthar, Mnenom Hydraconis, xxxJohnxxx Sitko, Minxy Kimono,
Butterfly Avatars co Abraminations//'People'wings co Cortex Draper, Black Skin co Zoryana Magic,