Rights Groups React To Bradley Manning Verdict

August 1, 2013

On July 30, in a military trial at Fort Mead, Maryland, war crimes whistleblower Bradley Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy (the most serious charge against him) but was found guilty of 19 other charges. While serving as a Private First Class in the U.S. Army, Manning had released hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks which exposed U.S. war crimes and other government misconduct. Doing so led to his court-martial. In response to the verdict, Amnesty International suggested that the U.S. government... Read article

Did Texas Execute Yet Another Innocent Man?

May 23, 2012

A recent study by the Columbia Human Rights Law Review suggests that Carlos DeLuna, who was executed by the state of Texas in 1989 for the murder of Wanda Lopez, was actually innocent. The study concluded that a man named Carlos Hernandez actually committed the murder. In other words, the so-called justice system had convicted the wrong Carlos. According to the report, Hernandez “was well-known to police and prosecutors at the time and had a long history of violent crimes.” In fact, Hernandez was arrested for... Read article

Is Kony 2012 The Right Thing To Do?

March 13, 2012

By now, most people who pay attention to the news are likely aware of the Kony 2012 film and campaign. Launched by the non-profit organization Invisible Children (IC), the campaign shines a light on Joseph Kony, a leader of the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group that has terrorized Uganda since 1986. The LRA kidnapped children from their homes, and turned the girls into sex slaves and the boys into child soldiers. According to Wikipedia, “[a]n estimated 66,000 children became soldiers and two million... Read article

500 U.S. Deaths From Police Tasers

February 20, 2012

On February 13, Johnnie Kamahi Warren died after a police officer used a Taser on him at least twice outside an Alabama bar. The police had been called when Warren became disorderly and combative at the bar. Warren’s death raises the Taser-related death toll in the U.S. to at least 500. Warren was unarmed. And that is not uncommon. In fact, a 2008 report by Amnesty International (AI) examined data on hundreds of deaths related to police Taser use and found that an alarming number of those who died were unarmed. According... Read article

New SCOTUS Decision In Abu-Jamal Case Is Good, But Not Enough

October 13, 2011

The drama continues in the case of America’s most famous living death row prisoner. On October 11, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request from the Philadelphia District Attorney to overturn a federal appeals court decision declaring Mumia Abu-Jamal’s death sentence unconstitutional. Abu-Jamal had been convicted and sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Now, according to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), “Mr. Abu-Jamal will be automatically... Read article

No True Justice For The West Memphis Three

August 22, 2011

On August 19, three men walked out of prison in Arkansas after spending nearly 20 years behind bars for a triple murder that they maintain they did not commit. The crime involved the brutal killing of three eight-year-old boys. Damien Echols had been on death row for the murders. Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin were both serving life sentences. They had been nicknamed the “West Memphis Three”. Their first big break came in 2007, when new forensic evidence showed that the DNA from the crime scene did... Read article

Oil, water, and America’s price priorities

April 19, 2011

As of April 11, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. was $3.79. And I hear people complaining about it all the time. Still, they don’t think twice about spending much more per gallon for bottled water. During a recent visit to a local sandwich shop, I noticed that 20-ounce bottles of Dasani water were selling for $1.75 each. That’s $11.20 per gallon. Those bottles of water were practically flying off the shelf during the busy lunch hour. And I didn’t hear a single customer complain about... Read article

More Torture Unpunished

February 8, 2011

In January, former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison. He had been charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. But he has been accused of some things that are far more disturbing than those charges might suggest. Burge, who is white, allegedly spent decades torturing black murder suspects – shocking, burning, and suffocating them – until they confessed. Kind of like what happens to the brown detainees at Gitmo, but in Chicago instead. While I am pleased to see Burge behind... Read article

Bradley Manning’s pre-trial punishment

December 28, 2010

Private First Class Bradley Manning spent his Christmas this year in a 6-foot by 12-foot prison cell at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia, where he has been held since May. He is in solitary confinement. He is under continuous surveillance, and must respond to cell checks every five minutes. He cannot keep any personal items in his cell. And he is not even allowed to exercise in his small quarters. These conditions, as described by Manning’s attorney, David E. Coombs, seem like harsh and cruel punishment... Read article

Will California execute an innocent man?

December 14, 2010

Kevin Cooper sits on California’s death row at San Quentin. He was convicted of a quadruple murder back in 1983. Cooper has always denied any involvement with the murders. But a lot of prisoners claim they are innocent, whether or not they really are. So let’s take a look at some facts of the case. The sole survivor of the murders, Joshua Ryen, told the police that the murderers were three white men. Cooper is black. And Ryen repeatedly told police that Cooper was not involved in the murders. Several weapons... Read article

The real problem with Obama’s religion

October 10, 2010

At a September town hall meeting in New Mexico, a citizen asked President Obama the question “Why are you a Christian?” Obama replied that he is “a Christian by choice,” noting that his family didn’t regularly attend church. He explained that he became a Christian later in life “because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead — being my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me.” Etc. Some... Read article

Big Brother terrorizes more activists

September 29, 2010

It’s like McCarthyism all over again. On September 24, FBI agents raided the homes of some anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis on suspicion that they were providing material support to terrorism. This follows only a few weeks after it was discovered that Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security had been spying on activist groups in the Keystone State. The Chicago Tribune quotes one of the harassed activists in Minnesota as calling the searches “an outrageous fishing expedition.” Indeed.... Read article

Nine years after 9/11, has al-Qaeda finally won?

September 13, 2010

As America and the world observed the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it occurred to me that perhaps the terrorists have finally won. No, not perhaps. It really seems like they have won. After all, we are no safer today than we were in 2001. In fact, I suspect we’re becoming less and less safe with each day that the tea partiers, the anti-mosque protestors, and that crazy Florida preacher demonstrate their belligerent hatred of Muslims, which is founded on ignorance and right-wing fear mongering. That... Read article

Kevin Keith’s death sentence commuted

September 4, 2010

Good news for all who care about true justice: On September 2, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland commuted Kevin Keith’s death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. As I wrote in a recent column, Keith had been sentenced to die on September 15 for a multiple murder that he might not have committed. New evidence in Keith’s case discredits the eyewitness identification by which he had been convicted. The evidence also identifies an alternative suspect, Rodney Melton, who may have actually committed... Read article

Will Ohio execute an innocent man?

August 31, 2010

Here we go again, this time in Ohio. There, death row inmate Kevin Keith is scheduled to be executed on September 15, despite strong new evidence of his innocence. Keith was convicted in 1994 for a shooting spree that killed three people and wounded three others. Eyewitness testimony was the primary evidence used to convict Keith. Along with the fact that eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable, the new evidence discredits the eyewitness identification in this case. The evidence also identifies an alternative suspect,... Read article

Alleged child soldier on trial at Gitmo

August 17, 2010

Canadian citizen Omar Khadr is now facing trial via a U.S. military commission at Guantanamo Bay. Khadr is accused of throwing a hand grenade which killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in 2002 and injured two others. His is the first trial before a military commission under the Obama administration. The trial began during the week of August 9, but is now on hold for 30 days as the defense attorney recovers from a sudden illness. Khadr was only 15 years old when he was detained and sent to Gitmo, where he was allegedly subjected... Read article

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