June 23, 2022

Julian Assange Is Enduring Unbearable Persecution for Exposing US War Crimes

Ever since U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel formally ordered the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the U.S. last week, press freedom advocates around the world have been mobilizing.

Assange Defense, on whose advisory board I serve, is organizing a national and international campaign to pressure U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and President Joe Biden to drop the extradition request and dismiss the charges against Assange. The stakes could not be higher.

The charges, which include 17 counts under the infamous Espionage Act, could result in 175 years in prison for the journalist who exposed U.S. war crimes.

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June 15, 2022

Torture Memo Lawyer John Yoo Devises Theory for Stealing Presidential Elections

John Yoo has teamed up with Robert Delahunty, his coauthor of some of the infamous torture memos during the George W. Bush administration, to devise a blueprint for the vice president to decide the outcome of presidential elections. This legal theory will be published in a forthcoming 82-page law review article in the Case Western Reserve Law Review.

In their article, the two radical right-wing law professors do not say that former Vice President Mike Pence should have refused to count the Electoral College votes and handed the 2020 election to Donald Trump. That is because no state had submitted competing slates of electors — for example, one slate from a Democratic governor for Joe Biden and another slate from a Republican legislature for Trump. If states had tendered more than one slate of electors, Yoo and Delahunty argue that Pence could have decided which slate to count.

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June 14, 2022

Big Money Defeats Progressive San Francisco Prosecutor Chesa Boudin

By Michael Steven Smith and Marjorie Cohn

Progressive prosecutor Chesa Boudin was elected 2-1/2 years ago by the people of San Francisco to be their district attorney. He promised “radical change to how we envision justice.” Chesa fulfilled his campaign promises by enacting programs and policies that would take on the phenomena of mass incarceration. The United States holds more people in prison (2.3 million) and more people in the criminal legal system (6 million on probation or parole) than any other country in the world.

Chesa enacted the policies he advocated when he ran. He eliminated cash bail which favors the rich and his office exonerated innocent people. He prosecuted white-collar criminals and brutal cops. He tried juveniles as juveniles, not adults. He set up diversion programs inasmuch as two-thirds of the people arrested in San Francisco are either drug addicts or mentally ill or both. He used the money saved to support victims of crimes.

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June 7, 2022

Landmark California Task Force Calls for “Comprehensive Reparations” for Slavery

California is the first state in the U.S. to establish a reparations task force for Black Americans. On June 1, the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans issued a 500-page document that traces the history of white supremacy from slavery to Jim Crow through the present. It calls for “comprehensive reparations” for Black people harmed by a historical system of state-sanctioned oppression.

“Segregation, racial terror, harmful racist neglect, and other atrocities in nearly every sector of civil society have inflicted harms, which cascade over a lifetime and compound over generations,” the report says.

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June 1, 2022

Right-Wing Supreme Court Tacitly Approved the Execution of Innocent People

In a shameful opinion that broke down along ideological lines, the right-wingers on the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 this month that people who receive ineffective assistance of counsel are not entitled to present new evidence to prove their innocence in federal court. After the decision in Shinn v. Ramirez and Jones — which flies in the face of the court’s recent precedents protecting the Sixth Amendment right to counsel — even people who can demonstrate their innocence could be subjected to the inhumane practice of capital punishment.

“The court’s decision will leave many people who were convicted in violation of the Sixth Amendment to face incarceration or even execution without any meaningful chance to vindicate their right to counsel,” Sonia Sotomayor wrote in dissent, adding that “the court hamstrings the federal courts’ authority to safeguard that right” and “reduces to rubble” many Sixth Amendment constitutional rights.

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May 17, 2022

Journalists Accused Israel of Targeting Them 2 Weeks Before Killing of Abu Akleh

Just two weeks before Israeli forces assassinated beloved Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the International Federation of Journalists, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians had submitted a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court accusing Israel of systematically targeting Palestinian journalists.

“The targeting of journalists and media organisations in Palestine violates the right to life and freedom of expression,” said Anthony Bellanger, the general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists.

In a moment when the Israeli government’s propaganda machine is working hard to keep mainstream news organizations mired in reporting on Israeli efforts to raise questions about who shot the bullet that killed Abu Akleh, we must insist on understanding her killing within the broader and ongoing context of Israeli violence against Palestinian journalists.

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May 14, 2022

Trump Judge’s Anti-Mask Ruling Continues to Imperil Travelers as COVID Rises

New COVID-19 infections are once again on the rise across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID deaths in the U.S. have now reached the 1 million mark, a figure widely regarded as an undercount.

The steady increase in COVID cases underscores the perilous wrongheadedness of the recent decision by Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, the federal district court judge in Florida who struck down the national transportation mask mandate on April 18.

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May 6, 2022

Will Demise of “Roe” Be a Death Knell for Contraception, Marriage Rights?

In his explosive draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was leaked to Politico, Justice Samuel Alito overrules Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. CaseyHis draft holds that abortion is no longer a constitutional right and leaves the fate of those who seek abortions to the vagaries of state laws.

“We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion,” Alito writes. “Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

If four other members of the Supreme Court adopt Alito’s draft, many other privacy rights we hold dear will be in jeopardy. They include the rights to contraception and same-sex marriage, among others.

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May 2, 2022

Supreme Court Seems Torn on Whether Biden Can End Trump’s Inhumane Asylum Policy

Shortly after taking office, Joe Biden sought to cancel the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy (formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP). Under the policy, asylum seekers who leave a third country and travel through Mexico to the U.S. border are forced to stay in Mexico while awaiting a court hearing on their asylum petitions. Many of the tens of thousands who have been compelled to wait in Mexico have become victims of kidnapping, sexual assault and torture as they wait in crude encampments.

On April 27, Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Homeland Security Committee that under Trump’s Remain in Mexico program, 1,500 people were murdered, tortured, raped or were victims of other serious crimes.

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April 19, 2022

After Undermining International Criminal Court, US Now Wants It to Charge Russians

Although the United States has tried mightily to undermine the International Criminal Court (ICC) since it became operational in 2002, the U.S. government is now pushing for the ICC to prosecute Russian leaders for war crimes in Ukraine. Apparently, Washington thinks the ICC is reliable enough to try Russians but not to bring U.S. or Israeli officials to justice.

On March 15, the Senate unanimously passed S. Res 546, which “encourages member states to petition the ICC or other appropriate international tribunal to take any appropriate steps to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian Armed Forces.”

When he introduced the resolution, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said, “This is a proper exercise of jurisdiction. This is what the court was created for.” The United States has refused to join the ICC and consistently tries to undercut the court. Yet a unanimous U.S. Senate voted to utilize the ICC in the Ukraine conflict.

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