Friday, October 03, 2008


Joe's right in his commentary on the bailout below. We're paying up. You and me and a dog named Sue are paying up for all the crap that has enriched the rich and downgraded the rest of us. We're paying up because so many of us still can't get it through our big thick heads that the system called CAPITALISM is stacked against us and always will be. We're paying up because too many of us Amer-i-can's can't think further ahead then the day after tomorrow. We're paying up because we can always just watch television. We're paying up because they're telling us to. We're paying up because so many of us think every four years we actually have a choice. We're paying up because as Tony Soprano would say "What are ya gonna do?" We're paying up because we still think there is a difference between corporate fat cats, big banks, and criminals. We're paying up because the financier's don't break our legs today, they just take our houses tomorrow. We're paying up because we don't understand that it's the whole corporate-financial-political system that is the real organized crime. We're paying up because we're saps. We're paying up because we're rightly afraid not to. We're paying up because we know what they'll do to us, our jobs, our families, our lives, if we don't. We're paying up because we can't figure out how to have a freakin revolution. We're paying up because it wouldn't be prudent to riot in the streets. We're paying up because it could always be worse. Hell, we're paying up even though it will be worse.

It's really galling isn't it.

The following is from Joe Bageant's
web site. (I'm not responsible for Joe's use of the word "Jap" in the article below, so don't yell at me...yell at Joe)

The Bailout in Plain English
Speaking in the Tongues of Brokers

By Joe Bageant

Any number of cultural historians have noted the American belief that success is a sign of God's favor. And over the past couple of decades he has had a downright love fest with the already-rich. So much so that the richest 400 Americans now have more money stashed away that the combined bottom 150 million Americans. Some $1.6 trillion bucks.

This was accomplished by selling off or shipping out ever available asset, from jobs to seaports, smashing usury and anti-monopoly laws, raiding the public coffers and manipulating the medium of exchange and blackmailing the peasantry regarding common needs such as heath care and energy to keep their asses warm -- to name a few. The ultimate coup was to convince the entire nation that the well being of the rich, meaning the well being of Wall Street, was indeed the common man's well being.

All went well for a while. People went into credit card hock up to their noses in order to provide 26% credit card interest to Wall Street, etc. And when that became untenable, flimsy mortgages were cranked out by the millions ensuring that every American who could hold a crayon could sign to purchase a home. To facilitate this all sorts of shaky 'mortgage instruments' were created -- balloon, (sign here Jeeter, you're gonna flip it in a year and make a hundred K on this house trailer) interest only, and finally negative balance mortgages where you only paid part of the interest and the rest was rolled back into the principal balance. And joy of joys you could refinance a couple of times while the inflated value of these houses was on the way up. Life was good for everybody.

The bill was never gonna come due because, god in his wisdom, had deemed that capitalism would defy the second law of thermodynamics and expand forever. So every time a bank made a mortgage loan of say, $400,000, even though the debtor had never even made a payment yet, the loan was declared a bank asset and another $400,000 was loaned against it. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank yelled whoopee and printed another $800,000 in currency. Of course at some point the country had to run out of customers, so the loans got easier and easier. No matter that debt is not wealth. Wink and call it that and most folks won't even look up from their new big screen high resolution digital TVs.

Problem was that all the jobs to pay for this stuff were stampeding off toward places in China with names containing a lot Xs, Zs and praying for a vowel. It was becoming clear that the entire economy was running on fumes. In fact less than fumes. It was running on the odor of paper. Mountains of the stuff. Bundles of mortgages and very strange securities and derivatives of unknown origin and value. Paper that stated its own worth and signed by some mystic hand no one could quite identify though the blurry signatures looked to read Greenspan, Paulson and Bernanke.

But there was a rub. Things reached the point where there simply was not anything left to defraud the public out of, nothing left to steal from the nation's productive capability, no matter how much paper Jeeter and Maggie signed for that trailer house, no matter how secure Brian and Jennifer out there in Arlington, Virginia and Davis, California thought they were. So the only thing left to do was steal from future generations of Americans and accept an I.O.U. which the government would happily sign on behalf of the people and enforce. By the wildest coincidence, under the Bush administration this I.O.U. happened to tally up to about $700 billion.

Seeing the oncoming train of financial disaster, the financiers just about wet their pants, and screamed "We want it all now! And if we don't get it the 'economy' will lock its brakes and crash. Remember, we control the medium of exchange. Nobody gets a paycheck if we don't. Remember that it's lines of credit from us that backs every working man's and woman's paycheck in the country. So pay the hell up."

Folks, they've got us all by the nuts and nipples. McCain knows that. Obama knows that. In the end, regardless of the so-called dissenters in the House and the Senate, we will pay up. It s election season and the dissent is for show. So it looks like we will get some "concession." For example, we will get shares in these "toxic assets" that are stinking up the joint. The rich need to dump them and dump them fast. In another magnanimous concession, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will raise the insurance on "our savings" to $250,000 (how many readers have 250 K in the bank?). But it will be redeemable in even more inflated currency amid an inflationary environment. And, in case you didn't know, the FDIC has up to ten years to pay up on that insurance. So don't get any ideas about running off to Mexico, to which by the way, we are a net debtor nation.

We will pay. We will pay because the European banks holding all that bad paper we wrote demand that we make good on it so even more of their banks will not fail. We will pay because the Chinese, the Japs and everyone else will cut off the loan tap with which we pay the interest (not the principal) on our exploding super nova of national debt. We will pay because God loves the rich. We will pay because we will not be offered any other choice. We will pay because George Bush worked hard for all those Ds in school and became the first MBA president. We will pay because our media has internalized the capitalist system so thoroughly they can only talk in Wall Speak. We will pay because the only language we have to describe our world is that of our oppressors because we have been taught to think in Wall Speak. We will pay because we hitched our wagon to last stage capitalism and even though the wagon has now two wheels over the cliff and roars forward, we don't know where the brake handle is located. And because we don't know any better or understand any possible resistance to the system because we have been kept like worms in a jar and fed horse shit.

And as we all know, worms do not rise up in revolt.

That takes a backbone.


On August 23, 2007 police and private security guards viciously attacked, maced and arrested two ILWU Local 10 brothers, Jason Ruffin and Aaron Harrison, coming back to work after lunch. When the guards insisted on searching their car, the longshoremen questioned their authority to do so and called the Local 10 business agent. While one was talking on the phone and without provocation, they were assaulted, dragged from the car, handcuffed, jailed and charged with “trespassing” and “obstructing a police officer”.

Their struggle for justice goes on and a rally is planned for October 6 as the trial commences in Woodland, California, Yolo County Courthouse (8th and Court St.)

The picture above is from a rally last year in support of the men.

For an earlier more in depth report in the Oread Daily entitled "HARD WORKING AMERICANS TREATED LIKE TERRORISTS" go to .

The following was taken from Sacramento for Democracy.

Stand Up For ILWU 10 Members Jason Ruffin and Aaron Harrison: Drop The Bogus Charges


On October 6, 2008 in Woodland, California, Yolo County Courthouse (8th and Court St.) two young Local 10 ILWU Black longshoremen, Jason Ruffin and Aaron Harrison, will go on trial. On August 23, 2007, these two unionists were beaten and arrested while calling their union business agent to find out what rights they have on the docks. Although they had already been on the docks prior to lunch the police used the increased repressive (MARSEC) maritime security regulations to assault these union members. They were initially charged with "trespassing" and "resisting arrest" but the "trespassing" charge was dropped. The video shows that they did nothing wrong.

The Sacramento police and Yolo County sheriff's department have a record of racist attacks on African American and Mexican American youth. They recently ordered a court room closed on a murder case to prevent the family and public to attend the hearings.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is defending these youth against unconstitutional police measures. The defense of these unionists is critical not just for them, their families and ILWU but all transport workers and all organized labor and working people. Transportation workers face the brunt of this repressive legislation including the TWIC cards which are now being used to fire workers who have past criminal records and to target port truckers, many of whom are immigrants.

The use of "homeland security" and the bipartisan "war on terror" to attack US workers is not new and not an accident. It is part of the war on the working class and a coordinated effort to repress workers and control the trade union movement. The government violates the constitution daily and wages a criminal war in the Middle East. And now Wall Street crooks go "scot free" while workers in this country are attacked using the rubric of "homeland security".

We condemn this attack and demand that the charges against these ILWU 10 brothers be dropped. All unions and workers should attend the rally that will be held on Monday October 6, 2008. Buses will leave ILWU Local 10 at 6 AM (400 North Point St. by Fisherman's Wharf)

Initiated by Transport Workers Solidarity Committee


Mexico's El Universal newspaper reports several dozen persons, mostly students of different levels of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), protested this morning in front of the premises of the Agency 50 of the Public Ministry in support of their colleagues arrested yesterday during the march commemorating the 1968 massacre of students in Mexico City.

The Attorney General of the Federal District (PGJDF) reported that 24 youths are still detained at the agency 50 of the Public Ministry accused of various crimes.

Many of those arrested were busted by secret police dressed as civilians.

More than 30,000 people turned out on the streets of Mexico City on Thursday to demand justice for student protesters killed by Mexican security forces in a 1968 demonstration. The killings took place a few days before the Mexican capital hosted the 1968 Olympic Games. The number of deaths in the incident is still disputed and no one has ever been jailed for involvement.

Shouting "October 2 is not forgotten," AFP reports protesters set off from the Square of Three Cultures where the massacre took place and from the capital's Chapultepec park to meet for a rally in the main Zocalo square.

"I'm here to denounce the most despicable act committed in Mexico," Aarceli Bernal, a 26-year-old student, said.

Protesters in Tlatelolco drew chalk figures on the ground covered with blood stains to remember those killed by the security forces.

Newspaper cuttings of the massacre, showing soldiers standing ready to fire, were plastered on a candle-laden altar in one corner of the square.

Felix Hernandez one of those who helped to organize the march said, "Our struggle still lives to know the truth about what happened that October 2nd."

Melissa Toscano Lazcano writes today in the student newspaper at San Antonio College:

"Dos de Octubre; no se olvida" is a historical motto that still resounds in the hearts of Mexicans familiar with the events of 1968. "Second of October; don't forget."

I'm not referring to the Olympic Games set in Mexico City that same year, but of the military shooting of students and civilians resulting in unknown hundreds of wounded, dead and disappeared individuals during a student meeting at Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Mexico's Tlatelolco."

...This happened around my father's early 20s and he recalls the military tanks driving along the Mexican streets intimidating more than watching over their brother citizens days before the fatal climax."

...One may not be directly affected and not care to acknowledge its significance, but it is an important lesson for anyone who values human dignity."

Amnesty International described what happened that day in downtown Mexico City, just days before the 1968 Olympics. Police, military and unidentified armed men surrounded La Plaza de Las Tres Culturas, Tlatelolco, "The square was full of people demonstrating against police brutality as part of a general student strike that followed the beating of students by the anti-riot police "los granaderos" in July. At about 6pm, they opened fire, from armoured vehicles using heavy weapons and soldiers on foot carrying bayonet rifles. They fired on the square packed with students and on surrounding residential buildings."

Cuauhtemoc Padilla Marroquin, a teacher who was 15 when the massacre took place told the LA Times, "I remember how the tanks rolled over the dead and the injured, how they attacked a number of my friends with bayonets."

Javier Zúñiga, now a special advisor at Amnesty International, then a lecturer at the National School of Agriculture, had brought his wife and two-year-old daughter to what was expected to be a peaceful event that October day. They witnessed the arrival of government troops from a nearby bridge overlooking the square.

"Forty years on from the Tlatelolco massacre, so many disturbing questions remain unanswered," said Javier Zúñiga. "Who ordered the massacre? For how long had it been planned? How many were killed? Who are those whose bodies still have not been identified?

Amnesty yesterday called on the Mexican government to finally conduct a real investigation and take appropriate action.

"President Calderón’s government has been all but silent on this dark chapter in Mexico’s history. We challenge this administration to open all relevant archives and records, establish a new and independent inquiry, and lift the obstacles preventing those responsible for this horrific crime being brought to justice."

Natalia Gonzales Servin, 18, commented aptly during the march,

"When I was little and my mother told me what happened [that night], I couldn't believe it," the student said. "How could it be possible that so many people died and the people did nothing and the media less?

"But as I grew up, I realized that a lot of things happen but people don't act -- it's like they're asleep. 1968 was an awakening."
The following is from Radio France International.

Clashes on '68 massacre anniversary

Protesters clashed with police in Mexico City on Thursday at a commemoration of a student massacre in 1968. Eighteen police officers were injured and 20 people were arrested during the march. Confrontations took place with police as demonstrators demanded justice for those killed in the 1968. When protestors attempted to paint graffiti on a city building wall, police moved in, leading to scuffles.

40th anniversary of the 2 October massacre in which between 44 and 300 student protestors were killed.

The massacre took place ten days before the Mexico Olympic Games of 1968, when security forces opened fire on a crowd of peaceful protestors, then hastily covered up evidence of their actions.

The exact number of victims remains a mystery. Authorities released 44 bodies, but US Central Intelligence Agency reports estimate the number of deaths to be in the hundreds.

Nobody has ever been prosecuted for the massacre.

Political analyst and Mexico specialist Colin Harding was in the country for the first anniversary of the massacre in 1969 and spoke to witnesses.

"People took refuge in the lifts of apartment buildings...the soldiers came along and just sprayed them with bullets,' he told RFI. "It was the most unbelievable event ... Mexicans have never really got over it."

Thursday's protesters set off from the Square of Three Cultures, where the killing took place in 1968, shouting "2 October is not forgotten". Students drew chalk figures covered in blood stains on the ground to represent those killed.

Amnesty International called on Thursday for the government of President Felipe Calderon to establish the truth behind the massacre, saying it was time for the government to assume its responsibility in the matter.

In 2001, President Vicente Fox created the office of the special prosecutor to investigate crimes which took place during Mexico's "dirty war" against left-wing activists, which began in the 1960s and lasted until around 1980.

The Interior Minister at the time of the 1968 massacre was a target of the investigations. Luis Echeverria was in charge of both the federal police and a clandestine military unit at the time of the massacre. He later became President of Mexico.

Mexican courts have blocked attempts to prosecute him for genocide.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


From the "what the hell are they thinking" category comes news that the US government has decided to deny entry visas to two correspondents from Prensa Latina - Ilsa Rodriguez and Tomas Anael Granados - who regularly cover the United Nations.

The State Department declined to comment on the matter.

Journalists and their organizations from around the world have condemned the bizarre action.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today called on the U.S. government to explain its decision.

CPJ says the two married journalists have together accumulated four decades of experience working both in Cuba and overseas in countries like India, Zimbabwe, China, and the U.S., reported Prensa Latina. They were vacationing in Cuba when they learned that their U.S. visas would not be renewed, the agency reported.

A spokeswoman for Prensa Latina in Havana told CPJ that, according to a recent letter from U.S. authorities, the two reporters were denied visas under a clause of the Immigration and Nationality Act that can deny entry to any person or group considered prejudicial to the interests of the United States.

Prensa Latina denounced the action arguing, "The visa denial ... shows the United States' open disdain for journalism and the universal human right of informing and being informed, while not fulfilling its duty as host to the United Nations main headquarters."

The Foreign Press Association in Peru (APEP) and the Chilean College of Journalists on Tuesday expressed their support for the two Prensa Latina correspondents at the United Nations.

APEP president Lucien Chauvin said that, while Washington has the right to decide who it allows into its territory, the U.N. grounds in New York are international territory and therefore outside Washington's jurisdiction.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) called on the office of the UN secretary-general to intercede on behalf of the two journalists.

“This measure is both persecutory and incomprehensible,” RWB said. “Since when could journalists who have been accredited to the United Nations for three years suddenly pose a ‘threat’ to the United States? That is what the US authorities seem to think, to judge by the clause they brandished without further explanation.”

The following is from Prensa Latina.

Peru Journalist Decries US Outrage

Lima, Oct 1 (Prensa Latina) Editor of Peruvian La Primera daily, Cesar Levano, condemned on Wednesday the US denial of entry visas to two Prensa Latina correspondents accredited to the United Nations.

"I join the protest of international journalism against the denial of visas to two Cuban colleagues accredited to the UN," the veteran journalist told Prensa Latina.

He added that Washington's attitude against Ilsa Rodriguez and Anael Granados, who have been unable to return to the United Nations after spending vacations in Cuba, confirms that "the government of George W. Bush is again showing his anti-democratic credentials."

Previously, Chair of Foreign Press in Peru (APEP), US Lucien Chauvin, criticized the US decision, describing it as contradicting the defense of freedom of the press the northern country so much promotes.


Across the nation, blind people are protesting the release of the movie, BLINDNESS. "Blindness" portrays a breakdown in society after a virus starts wiping out everyone’s vision, turning them into savages, who compete for meager resources.

Many blind people charge the movie is deplorable to the blind of the nation and encourages the public to accept negative stereotypes about them.

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) says the portrayal of the blind in the film is "simply inaccurate." The NFB points out blind people are a cross-section of society who happen to share the physical characteristic of being unable to see. The blind are employed in almost every profession imaginable, have homes and families, raise children, do volunteer work in their communities, and generally lead normal, productive lives. To the extent this is not the case, the problem is not blindness itself, but rather the misconceptions and stereotypes that society holds about blindness and blind people.

The NFB which is organizing protests across the country at showings of the film states on it web page:

"The premise in the film Blindness is that everybody but one person becomes blind. The description of society as an increasing number of its members become blind is one of filth, greed, perversion, and vice. The film depicts blind people as incapable of doing everything, including basic tasks like bathing, dressing, and traveling. Blindness becomes a metaphor for all that is bad in human thought and action. Blind people in the movie have every negative human trait and few of the positive ones. The only encouraging element in the release of this film is the almost universal reaction of the critics that the film is a failure."

Marc Maurer, President of the 50,000-member National Federation of the Blind, said of the film in his July 2008 banquet address, "The Urgency of Optimism":

“The capabilities of those who become blind remain essentially the same after they lose vision as they were before they lost it. Although the loss of any major asset (including vision) will bring a measure of sadness to some and despair to a few, it will also stimulate others to assert their will. Blindness can be a devastating loss, but it also has the power to galvanize some to action. The reaction to blindness is not the least bit one-dimensional. Therefore the description is false. . . . The charge that loss of vision creates a personality alteration to a sordid and criminal character is in itself sordid and defamatory to an entire class of human beings.”'

This film will do incalculable harm to the public image of blind people. Society labors under multiple misconceptions about blindness and blind people, and this film promises only to affirm and strengthen these false impressions. The film Blindness will diminish opportunities for blind people to find employment, a distressing reality considering that over 70 percent of blind people are already under-employed or unemployed. The film will also further lower the general public's expectations about the ability of blind people to be fully contributing members of society. Both of these consequences will be devastating to the hopes and aspirations of blind people."

President Maurer concluded his reflections on the film when he said, "The description in Blindness is wrong–completely, unutterably, irretrievably, immeasurably wrong. That such falsity should be regarded as good art is revolting and amazing."'

The NFB began planning the protests after seven staffers, including Christopher Danielsen, a spokesman for the organization, attended a screening of the movie in Baltimore last week. The group included three sighted employees.

"Everybody was offended," Danielsen told the AP.

Protests are planned in at least 21 states. This will be the largest protest in the 68-year history of the NFB, which has 50,000 members and works to improve blind people's lives through advocacy, education and other ways.

Miramax, the studio responsible for the movie, released a statement that read, in part, "We are saddened to learn that the National Federation of the Blind plans to protest the film `Blindness.'"

If you look around the web you'll find many bloggers attacking the NFB's position. They say the NFB is taking "political correctness" to another extreme. How many times have we heard this rap?

The blog Justice for All has a good answer to this charge.

"Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but not his or her own facts. If an artist were to create a painting called “Elephant,” but the picture in fact represented a giraffe, a camel, or a creature from the artist’s own imagination, then any art critic–or any layman–would point out that the picture does not, in fact, represent an elephant. The person pointing out the inconsistency would not be accused of “political correctness” or a “difference of opinion” with the artist, but would be recognized as having good common sense. The portrait of blind people in this movie is simply wrong; artistic license does not permit a writer or a filmmaker to make false assertions about an entire group of people. The stereotyping of blind people is just as inappropriate as the stereotyping of African-Americans, women, Hispanics, or any other group of individuals who share common characteristics."

The following is from Wired News.

Dystopian Thriller Blindness Sparks Protests

A group of blind activists are outraged by a dystopian film depicting an unexplained epidemic that renders humankind sightless.

The protesters claim the film Blindness -- which features blind people attacking each other and trading sex for food -- is offensive and reinforces negative stereotypes about the blind.

"The movie portrays blind people as monsters, and I believe it to be a lie," Maurer, president of the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind told the Associated Press. "Blindness doesn't turn decent people into monsters."

Maurer plans to lead his organization and allies in demonstrations during the film's opening night on Friday. Boycotters will hand out fliers and carry signs.

Blindness is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name about the collapse of society.

Director Fernando Meirelles (City of God) spoke out during Cannes when the film premiered, saying the film is a metaphor for blindness to the human condition -- such as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and global crises.

A few months earlier, Ben Stiller's R-rated Hollywood parody Tropic Thunder sparked a similar reaction among advocates for the disabled over the repeated use of the word "retard" in the film -- a response that may have been a bit more expected, considering the joke was more explicit in its nature.


Finance workers wearing bowler hats and pig masks demonstrated outside the British Conservative Party conference today protesting about donations the Tories have reportedly received from hedge fund managers.

The union Unite which organized the protest and has 180,000 members working in financial services, has complained of a "deafening silence" from the Conservatives over how to tackle the current economic crisis.

Unity says the Tories are cashing in on the credit crunch.

The row has been sparked by disclosures that a number of Tory donors have been involved in short-selling banks which have either had to be taken over or nationalised by the government.

Unite Joint general secretary Derek Simpson said today: "This exposes the Tories for what they really are. They are funding their party and maybe even their election campaign on the misery of thousands of British families, who could lose their homes and jobs because of the spivs and speculators.

"Thousands of staff at banks like HBOS and LloydsTSB fear for their jobs but the Tories seem more interested in taking money from the culprits of the credit crunch than helping the victims.

The GMB - Britain's General Union meanwhile demanded that the Financial Services Authority, the regulator, launch an inquiry into the Tory donors who are connected to the short selling of bank shares.

Paul Kenny, the GMB's general secretary, said: "GMB is aware that there is a major inquiry under way in the US to establish if rules were broken during the recent meltdown in the financial sector. GMB would like the FSA to establish what meetings these donors had with Tory politicians and what they discussed at the meetings.

"Did these meetings influence the recent Tory defence of short trading which brought down the Bank of Scotland?"

The following is from the BBC.

Bank staff protest at conference

Bank workers from across the West Midlands have protested outside the Conservative Party Conference.

The protesters, backed by the union Unite, claimed that financiers caused the economic downturn and were the same people who funded the Tory party.

Gerard Coyne, the regional secretary of Unite, said people were worried about losing their jobs.

The protesters gathered outside the ICC in Birmingham on the last day of the conference.

The protest followed Tuesday's announcement that US finance firm GE Money would close its Wolverhampton office with the loss of about 100 jobs.

Market 'rumours'

Of the 2.5m workers across the Midlands, about 425,000 people work in the finance sector.

Mr Coyne said: "We're not at the end of this yet and in these circumstances it's really hard to predict the number of job losses.

"It could be in the number of tens of thousands."

He added: "The state of the market is such that any rumour about the future, particularly of a banking institution or financial institution, can absolutely run rife."

Monday, September 29, 2008


Try and imagine spending more than three decades in solitary confinement in some lousy Louisiana prison. That's been the fate of Albert Woodfox (and fellow inmate Herman Wallace) who have been imprisoned since 1972 for the murder of prison guard Brent Miller.

The true reason is that they tried to organize a chapter of the Black Panther Party in the prison (
see earlier article).

Now, finally, in response to a federal judge's decision overturning the conviction of Woodfox, one of the two 'Angola 3' members who remain in prison, lawyers for the men called on the State Attorney General's office to drop any further charges and release the men immediately.

'Both the magistrate judge and the district court judge have now found that Woodfox's conviction was invalid and had to be reversed. Woodfox has demonstrated the deep flaws in the state's investigation and prosecution of the case against him, and has presented evidence of his innocence. If the State of Louisiana appeals, it will bear the burden of showing the court of appeals that both of the two judges were incorrect. As the facts and the law are so clearly on the side of Mr. Woodfox, we are confident that the State cannot carry that burden. No further legal delay should deprive Albert of even one more day of his life,' said Chris Aberle, one of Woodfox's lawyers.

'The state has already stolen nearly four decades of Albert Woodfox's life. The injustice in this case is unfathomable. How can Louisiana continue to imprison a 61 year old man after a federal judge has ruled that he shouldn't have been convicted in the first place? Albert must be released,' said Nick Trenticosta, co-counsel in the case.

The State though doesn't intend to release him, not yet anyway.

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said Friday he will make every effort to keep Albert Woodfox in prison for the 1972 murder of a prison guard.

This despite the fact that virtually everyone involved in the case including close relatives of the murdered guard agree that State's case against Woodfox (and the other two men) was clearly a fabrication.

"This is not a public servant who is trying to pursue justice," Trenticosta said of Caldwell. "This is a public servant who is trying once again to railroad an innocent man."

The third member of the Angola 3, Robert King, was released in 2001 after a judge overturned his conviction. King had spent 29 years in solitary confinement for a separate crime.

Meanwhile, the Nebraska Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in the case of another former Black Panther who claims he wasn't given a fair trial when convicted in the 1970 bombing death of an Omaha Police officer.

Edward Poindexter and fellow Black Panther David Rice were convicted in Douglas County District Court for the death of Omaha officer Larry Minard. Authorities claimed the pair lured police to a house with a 911 call, then detonated a homemade bomb that killed Minard.

Both men were sentenced to life in prison, but have long proclaimed their innocence.

The bomb that killed Larry Minard was planted by 15 year-old Duane Peak who confessed to the crime but was only sentenced to 33 months of juvenile detention in exchange for his testimony that Poindexter and Langa put him up to the crime and assisted with assembly of the bomb. Peak, in turn, testified that the dynamite was supplied by 23 year-old Raleigh House, a suspected COINTELPRO informant, who only spent one night in jail and was never formally charged for his role in the crime.

Supporters say the imprisoned Panthers were merely victims of the FBI's notorious COINTELPRO program.

In fact evidence makes clear that at the time, the two leaders of Omaha's Black Panther chapter, called the Nebraska Committee to Combat Fascism, were targets of the clandestine operation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Years after their conviction when some COINTELPRO files became available as a result of several Freedom of Information requests it was "discovered" that even before the murdered policeman was buried, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had given the order to withhold evidence about the unknown caller who lured Minard to his death. Hoover wanted a case made against Poindexter and Langa regardless of what the crime laboratory reported.

Hoovers orders were recorded by FBI Crime Laboratory chief Ivan Willard Conrad. Michael Richardson writes:

"The Omaha FBI Special-Agent-in-Charge sent a memo to Conrad recommending an informal, unwritten lab report on the tape recording of the fatal call. The Omaha Police wanted to identify the caller through vocal analysis of the tape but did not want to release results of the forensic examination to lawyers for Poindexter and Langa. Conrad spoke with Hoover after getting the unusual request to withhold evidence."

The FBI Crime Lab chief scrawled on his copy of the Omaha memo that Hoover approved of the request to not prepare a formal laboratory report on the crucial tape recording. "Dir advised telephonically & said OK to do." Conrad then initialed and dated the memo entry just two days after the bombing."

Omaha Asst. Chief of Police Glen W. Gates later had another memo sent to Hoover by way of the Omaha FBI office asking that no use of the tape be made because it might be "prejudicial to the police murder trial" of Poindexter and Langa. Peak claimed he made the call and placed the bomb under orders from Poindexter, however, the voice on the tape was not that of a 15 year-old but rather an older man thus leaving an unidentified accomplice on the loose and a gaping hole in the prosecution's case against the two Panther leaders."

Conrad followed Hoover's orders and kept quiet about the tape recording. The defense was never provided the tape at trial and the jurors that convicted Poindexter and Langa never got to hear the voice of the actual killer. Peak received a deal from prosecutors and got off with several years of juvenile detention while the two activists were sentenced to life in prison."

Angela Davis, noted University of California professor and political prisoner advocate, told a crowd of 300 justice, civil rights and peace advocates in Omaha recently that the 'Omaha Two' were victims of "repressive authorities" and should be released from prison. She told the crowd, hosted by Nebraskans for Justice, that "the revolution didn't come" and that activists ensnared by COINTELPRO remain imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.

"Our memories aren't as strong as those of the repressive authorities who still hold captive people of that era who fought to end racism, overthrow capitalism and to build a better world for all of us."

We should be ashamed of that fact.

The following is from OP-ED

'Angola 3' Black Panther conviction reversed after 35 years of solitary confinement turns attention to 'Omaha' Two' case
by Michael Richardson

U.S. District Court Judge James J. Brady in Baton Rouge, Louisiana has ordered the state to either free or retry Albert Woodfox after almost three dozen years in solitary confinement. Woodfox, tried with two other co-defendants, was convicted for the 1972 murder of prison guard Brent Miller at Angola Prison where Woodfox was serving a sentence for armed robbery.

After a controversial trial and even more disputed second trial in 1998 when he was retried following appeal of his first conviction, Woodfox may see freedom from the infamous prison where he has been held in virtual isolation over three decades.

Woodfox had been active in a prison chapter of the Black Panthers in racially-charged Angola Prison, a vast plantation-style penitentiary in rural Louisiana. Following conviction for the stabbing murder of Miller a life sentence was imposed and Angola officials decided that for security reasons Woodfox and fellow Panther Herman Wallace would be held in solitary confinement. The 6' by 9' isolation cells would become home, night and day, for thirty-five years.

Magistrate Docia L. Dalby has described the punishment meted out to the two Panthers as, "durations so far beyond the pale that this court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence."

Judge Brady, after a careful review of the trial record and recommendation of Magistrate Judge Christine Noland, determined that Woodfox had not received a fair trial; that his attorney failed to adequately represent him; and that the state's chief witness, Hezekiah Brown, had gotten a reduced sentence for naming Woodfox. Further, exculpatory information about the physical evidence in the case, bloodstains, was withheld from the jury.

While Woodfox waits for a prosecutor's decision on his future, another Black Panther in the Nebraska State Penitentiary, Ed Poindexter, waits for a ruling from the Nebraska Supreme Court on his request for a new trial. Poindexter and fellow Panther activist Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice) were convicted in April 1971 for the bombing murder of Omaha police officer Larry Minard.

Unlike Woodfox, who was an inmate at the time of his alleged crime, Poindexter and Langa were free and officers in the Nebraska Committee to Combat Fascism and were Omaha's most vocal police critics. On August 17, 1970, police were lured to a vacant house investigating a report of a woman screaming when a bomb killed Minard and injured seven other police officers. Within two days of the bombing, J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who had targeted the Black Panthers for dirty tricks, ordered Ivan Willard Conrad, director of the FBI national crime laboratory to withhold information that was not favorable to the prosecution of Poindexter and Langa for Minard's murder.

Hoover was at war with the Black Panthers and secretly directed a clandestine "no holds barred" operation code-named COINTELPRO to put the group out of existence. Using illegal tactics, FBI agents engaged in a nationwide campaign that encouraged violence, planted evidence, withheld evidence, obtained false arrests, and a host of other measures that would later be denounced by the U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations commonly known as the Church Committee.

At question in the Minard killing was the identify of the unknown caller who made the emergency call to police headquarters. Hidden for years behind a secrecy stamp, Omaha Asst. Chief of Police Glen W. Gates, in a confidential COINTELPRO memo to Hoover, asked the FBI to abandon the search for the killer who made the call because it might "prejudice the police murder trial" against Poindexter and Langa.

Ultimately a 15 year-old, Duane Peak, confessed to the crime and claimed he made the phone call and that Poindexter and Langa put him up to the murder. Peak's story falls apart if someone else made the deadly call. The tape recording, which was withheld from the jury that convicted the two Panther leaders, did not sound like Peak but rather captured the voice of an older man.

The tape was destroyed by local authorities after the trial only to have a duplicate recording emerge years later. The duplicate tape was subjected to modern vocal analysis in 2006 and expert Tom Owens has testified the voice on the tape is not that of Peak, thus leaving an unidentified accomplice on the loose.

Poindexter is seeking a new trial over the withheld evidence and the Nebraska Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case this week. No date has been set for a decision. Poindexter and Langa are serving life sentences at the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Both men deny any involvement in the crime.


The Hawaii chapter of the NAACP and several other civil rights groups including the Japanese American Citizens League of Hawaii and the Hawaii Women's Political Caucus marched in Waikiki yesterday to protest the continued employment of the state's top tourism executive.

The Honolulu Star Bulletin reports several dozen protesters, representing a variety of ethnicities, waved signs calling for the removal of Rex Johnson as head of the Hawaii Tourism Authority for forwarding pornographic, racist and sexist e-mails from his government laptop.

The issue ignited again this month when racist and sexist jokes denigrating African-Americans, Hispanics and women which had been found in the recovered files from Johnson's state e-mail account were made public. One e-mail called Sen. Barack Obama a "coon" and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a "beaver."

"Today, we are protesting to urge the Hawaii Tourism Authority to either fire Rex Johnson as the CEO and president, or to urge him to step aside or resign," said Alphonso Braggs, president of the Hawaii NAACP chapter, at the start of the march.

"The reason we are doing this is because Rex Johnson, as CEO and president, on paid time, sent out racist, sexist and pornographic material from his computer. It does not matter that he simply forwarded them. It was over a period of time. It wasn't a singular incident."

The protesters also made it clear that they consider the HTA board's refusal to suspend Johnson inexcusable.

In late August, the HTA board voted unanimously to retain Johnson, but it cut Johnson's $240,000 annual salary by $40,000 and reduced his four-year contract to one year.

In August, when the Board refused to fire their CEO, following an audit which revealed Johnson's inappropriate use of the state computer, HTA Board Chairman Kelvin Bloom tried to explain the boards meager action, “He has apologized to the board for his misuse of his state laptop and we have accepted his apology but sternly warned that any future infractions will be treated more severely. The board also issued a verbal and written reprimand to Rex.”

The board of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has now decided to hold a special meeting on Oct. 2 in order to reexamine its decision in light of new information. HTA board members say they hadn't seen Johnson's actual e-mails prior to making their decision.

As does almost everyone caught making racist, sexist and other outrageous comments old Rex apologized and said the emails really didn't represent what he thinks. "As I've said before, first and foremost, I again want to apologize to the people of Hawaii," Johnson said yesterday. "Forwarding offensive e-mails was a lack of judgment on my part and a terrible mistake. While it is not a reflection of my character or beliefs, I understand the seriousness of my actions. I am truly sorry for offending anyone as this was not my intent."

Are you as sick of these kind of apologies as me? How could someone making or forwarding or whatever such sentiments later claim, "uh, that's not me?"

Give me a break.

Protester Kathryn Xian, who is with Girl Fest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing violence against females through education and art, said the HTA board's decision not to fire Johnson sends a message to the public that racism and sexism are acceptable.

Daphne Barbee-Wooten, a civil rights attorney who participated in the march told KHON News, “It's unacceptable to have Rex Johnson still be the CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority with the type of e-mails that he read from his friends and forwarded it onto others."

During the protest, more than 300 persons signed a petition calling for Johnson's ouster.

Waikiki resident William Smith was one of those who signed.

"Johnson is supposed to be bringing tourism to Hawaii — not racism," said Smith.

The following is from KITV (Hawaii).

Tourism President Accused Of Sending Graphic, Racist E-Mails

WAIKIKI, Hawaii -- Protesters marched in Waikiki on Saturday to demand that Hawaii Tourism Authority President Rex Johnson leave his post.

Johnson is suspected of forwarding pornographic, racist and sexist e-mails on his state computer.
The Hawaii Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other activists met by the zoo to make signs and prepare for the protest.

"The goal today is to convey to the public the sense of urgency about Rex Johnson either being fired or him resigning," said Alphonso Braggs of the Hawaii Chapter of the NAACP.

"In the long run, he has given the state a bad name. It is as simple as that," said Gwen Johnson of the Hawaii Women's Political Caucus.

The group walked through Waikiki from the zoo to the far end of Kalakaua. Many tourists, not familiar with the issue, seemed baffled.

"No, I am sorry," said Tommy White, a tourist from Georgia who said he didn't know about the situation. "Rex Johnson? What does he do?"

Some locals worried about protesters' impact on Hawaii's already suffering tourism economy.

"I don't think they should be down here," said Kalihi resident Tim Garry. "Business is already hurting down here and they need positive reinforcement not negative."

Johnson has been president of the HTA for six years. He is being accused of using his state computer to forward e-mails his friends sent containing pornographic, sexist and racist jokes.

On Aug. 21, the HTA cut Johnson's salary 17 percent from $240,000 to $200,000 and limited his contract to a year. But since then, the HTA has found some of the jokes Johnson forwarded on his state computer were not only pornographic but also sexist and racist.

Kelvin Bloom, the head of the HTA, said the board takes the issue seriously and that a meeting has been scheduled Thursday to determine how to proceed.