Archive | January 30th, 2017

From Mumia to Peltier, US Political Prisoners Still Locked Up

NOVANEWS
teleSUR 

Many members of the Black Panthers and New Afrika party remain behind bars, some under dubious circumstances.

In the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning and Oscar Lopez Rivera, teleSUR takes a look at some of the more prominent political prisoners who remain behind bars for their activism and fight for justice.

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal was arrested and charged with killing white police Officer Daniel Faulkner in Philadelphia in December 1981. One year later, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.

In 2011, the United States Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in his case, and he was re-sentenced to life in prison without parole. He and many activists have maintained that he is innocent.

Leonard Peltier

Indigenous activist Leonard Peltier, who was convicted under the dubious murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975, has continually maintained his innocence. In the 40 years since his trial, evidence continues to surface showing that Peltier was in fact convicted under false pretenses

Simon Trinidad

Simon Trinidad joined Colombia’s FARC rebel group in 1987, rising through the ranks to eventually serve as the group’s de facto foreign minister. On a diplomatic visit to Ecuador in 2004, Trinidad was arrested and deported to Colombia, where on trumped up charges he was extradited to the U.S. After two hung juries Trinidad was ultimately convicted of conspiracy charges related to the kidnapping of two Plan Colombia agents and sentenced to 60 years at a supermax prison. Speaking of the sacrifices he’s made for his beliefs Trinidad said, “If I don’t do this, what am I? A traitor. That’s why I put up with pain and suffering to fight for what we lack. That’s why I took up the guerrilla struggle.”

Mutulu Shakur

Mutulu Shakur, a Black Liberation Army and Republic of New Afrika member who was stepfather to the late rap artist Tupac Shakur, was jailed in 1988 on charges of “conspiracy to aid bank expropriation.” Due to his activism, he had previously been placed on the FBI’s illegal COINTELPRO surveillance program, which was also used against Martin Luther King Jr. and other radical Black activists.

“Sonia” aka, Omaira Rojas Cabrera

Born to a Colombian peasant family, Omaira Rojas Cabrera, known by her nom de guerre “Sonia,” joined the FARC rebel group as a teenager and rose to become one of their top female commanders. She was kidnapped by Colombian special forces in 2004, and eventually extradited to the U.S. where she was put on trial over drug charges. She was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to 16 years, a fraction of the 55 to 60 years the prosecutors had asked for. Both she and Simon Trinidad were the subject of prisoner exchange negotiations between the FARC and then Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, launched by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

David Gilbert

David Gilbert is a radical U.S. leftist organizer and member of the Weather Underground Organization, who worked with members of the Black Liberation Army. In 1983, he was convicted and sentenced to 75 years for three counts of felony murder over an attempted bank robbery attempt along with the activists.

Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz

Russell “Maroon” Shoatz was convicted back in 1970 for the first-degree murder of a Philadelphia police officer, in an attack that was conducted at the Philadelphia police station. A former member of the Black Panther Party and “soldier” of the Black Liberation Army, he was held in solitary confinement for 22 years, only being returned to the general prison population in 2014.

Sundiata Acoli

Black Panther Sundiata Acoli was convicted of killing a state trooper during a 1973 shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike. Acoli is one of at least 15 former members of the Black Panther Party who are still in prison.

Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin

Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin was a Black activist who worked with the Black Panthers, and was previously known as H. Rap Brown. He was convicted of shooting two deputies in March 2000 as they approached him with an arrest warrant for offenses including impersonating a police officer. He is serving a life sentence.

Al-Amin and his supporters have long argued that he was framed by a government that has feared him since his days in radical anti-racist politics.

Black Panthers

Ever since its founding in Oakland in 1966 the Black Panthers were ruthlessly persecuted by the FBI and other domestic security forces. From the illegal Cointelpro program to the infamous Panther 21 trial, when 21 members of the Party were tried on 156 charges which were all eventually dropped, the U.S. government set out to destroy the grassroots movement. In addition to the former Panthers listed above, there are 11 Black Panthers who remain in jail on a variety of charges: Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald in California; Ed Poindexter in Nebraska; Joseph Bowen in Pennsylvania; Jalil Muntaqim in New York; Romaine Fitzgerald jailed since 1969; Herman Bell imprisoned in New York since 1971; Veronza Bowers, in prison since 1973; Robert Seth Hayes, jailed since 1973; Zulu Whitmore, in prison in Louisiana since 1977; Maliki Shakur, jailed since 1979; and Kamau Sadiki, imprisoned since 2002.

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Pulling a J. Edgar Hoover on Trump

NOVANEWS
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By Robert Parry 

The decision by the U.S. intelligence community to include in an official report some unverified and salacious accusations against President-elect Donald Trump resembles a tactic out of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s playbook on government-style blackmail: I have some very derogatory information about you that I’d sure hate to see end up in the press.

In this case, as leaders of the U.S. intelligence community were pressing Trump to accept their assessment that the Russian government had tried to bolster Trump’s campaign by stealing and leaking actual emails harmful to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Trump was confronted with this classified “appendix” describing claims about him cavorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room.

Supposedly, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan included the unproven allegations in the report under the rationale that the Russian government might have videotaped Trump’s misbehavior and thus could use it to blackmail him. But the U.S. intelligence community also had reasons to want to threaten Trump who has been critical of its performance and who has expressed doubts about its analysis of the Russian “hacking.”

After the briefing last Friday, Trump and his incoming administration did shift their position, accepting the intelligence community’s assessment that the Russian government hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta. But I’m told Trump saw no evidence that Russia then leaked the material to WikiLeaks and has avoided making that concession.

Still, Trump’s change in tone was noted by the mainstream media and was treated as an admission that he was abandoning his earlier skepticism. In other words, he was finally getting onboard the intelligence community’s Russia-did-it bandwagon. Now, however, we know that Trump simultaneously had been confronted with the possibility that the unproven stories about him engaging in unorthodox sex acts with prostitutes could be released, embarrassing him barely a week before his inauguration.

The classified report, with the explosive appendix, was also given to President Obama and the so-called “Gang of Eight,” bipartisan senior members of Congress responsible for oversight of the intelligence community, which increased chances that the Trump accusations would be leaked to the press, which indeed did happen.

Circulating Rumors

The stories about Russian intelligence supposedly filming Trump in a high-end Moscow hotel with prostitutes have been circulating around Washington for months. I was briefed about them by a Hillary Clinton associate who was clearly hopeful that the accusations would be released before the election and thus further damage Trump’s chances. But the alleged video never seemed to surface and the claims had all the earmarks of a campaign dirty trick.

However, now the tales of illicit frolic have been elevated to another level. They have been inserted into an official U.S. intelligence report, the details of which were leaked first to CNN and then to other mainstream U.S. news media outlets.

Trump has denounced the story as “fake news” and it is certainly true that the juicy details – reportedly assembled by a former British MI-6 spy named Christopher Steele – have yet to check out. But the placement of the rumors in a U.S. government document gave the mainstream media an excuse to publicize the material.

It’s also allowed the media to again trot out the Russian word “compromat” as if the Russians invented the game of assembling derogatory information about someone and then using it to discredit or blackmail the person.

In American history, legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was infamous for using his agency to develop negative information on a political figure and then letting the person know that the FBI had the dirt and certainly would not want it to become public – if only the person would do what the FBI wanted, whether that was to reappoint Hoover to another term or to boost the FBI’s budget or – in the infamous case of civil rights leader Martin Luther King – perhaps to commit suicide.

However, in this case, it is not even known whether the Russians have any dirt on Trump. It could just be rumors concocted in the middle of a hard-fought campaign, first among Republicans battling Trump for the nomination (this opposition research was reportedly initiated by backers of Sen. Marco Rubio in the GOP race) before being picked up by Clinton supporters for use in the general election.

Still, perhaps the more troubling issue is whether the U.S. intelligence community has entered a new phase of politicization in which its leadership feels that it has the responsibility to weed out “unfit” contenders for the presidency. During the general election campaign, a well-placed intelligence source told me that the intelligence community disdained both Clinton and Trump and hoped to discredit both of them with the hope that a more “acceptable” person could move into the White House for the next four years.

Hurting Both Candidates

Though I was skeptical of that information, it did turn out that FBI Director James Comey, one of the top officials in the intelligence community, badly damaged Clinton’s campaign by deeming her handling of her emails as Secretary of State “extremely careless” but deciding not to prosecute her – and then in the last week of the campaign briefly reopening and then re-closing the investigation.

Then, after the election, President Obama’s CIA began leaking allegations that Russian President Vladimir Putin had orchestrated the hacking of Democratic emails and provided them to WikiLeaks to reveal how the DNC undermined Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign and what Clinton had told Wall Street bigwigs in paid speeches that she had sought to keep secret from the American people.

The intelligence community’s assessment set the stage for what could have been a revolt by the Electoral College in which enough Trump delegates could have refused to vote for him to send the election into the House of Representatives, where the states would choose the President from one of the top three vote-getters in the Electoral College. The third-place finisher turned out to be former Secretary of State Colin Powell who got four votes from Clinton delegates in Washington State. But the Electoral College ploy failed when Trump’s delegates proved overwhelmingly faithful to the GOP candidate.

Now, we are seeing what looks like a new phase in this “stop (or damage) Trump” strategy, the inclusion of anti-Trump dirt in an official intelligence report that was then leaked to the major media.

Whether this move was meant to soften up Trump or whether the intelligence community genuinely thought that the accusations might be true and deserved inclusion in a report on alleged Russian interference in U.S. politics or whether it was some combination of the two, we are witnessing a historic moment when the U.S. intelligence community has deployed its extraordinary powers within the domain of U.S. politics. J. Edgar Hoover would be proud.

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STW uk: Break the ban

NOVANEWS

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” Can we have ban on Zionist leaders travel to UK? ” Shoah

Donald Trump’s travel ban on people from Muslim countries is an unprecedented assault on the rights of whole peoples and a deeply racist measure. Theresa May’s failure to condemn it yesterday and her ‘half-hearted’ ?? opposition since is shameful.

Stop the War, along with Stand up to Racism, Muslim Association of Britain, Muslim Engagement and Development and Friends of Al-Aqsa, is calling for a mass protest in central London Saturday 4th of February at ​11am, starting at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square and marching to Downing Street.

We are asking all​ ​our supporters to join the protest and to spread the word. Here are three things you can do to help build this crucial event.

See: www.lalkar.org/

Stopping the war machine: anti-war work in Britain

 

 

 

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