Sunday, 26 April 2015 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Speakout

SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Joy First reports from Mauston, Wisc., that Bonnie Block, a Madison grandmother and long-time peace activist, was found guilty of trespassing in a jury trial in the Juneau County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, and sent to jail.

Sadly, this is not an April Fool's joke. Block, pictured at right, was compelled to either pay $232 or spend 5 days in the Juneau County Jail.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) told the Los Angeles Times that a bipartisan amendment passed by Congress last year prohibiting DOJ from spending any money to undermine state medicalmarijuana laws doesn't prevent it from prosecuting people for medical marijuana or seizing their property. The statement comes as the agency continues to target people who are complying with their state medical marijuana law. This insubordination is occurring despite the fact that members of Congress in both parties were clear that their intent with the amendment was to protect medical marijuana patients and providers from federal prosecution and forfeiture.

"The Justice Department is ignoring the will of the voters, defying Congress, and breaking the law," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance"President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder need to rein in this out-of-control agency."

The US government should not be permitted to classify information simply because it could be used to stir anti-American sentiment abroad, the Brennan Center for Justice and the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued in an amicus brief filed last week.

Allowing the US to classify information based on the argument that our enemies could use it as"anti-American propaganda" contradicts Executive Order 13526, which prohibits the classification of information to conceal misconduct or prevent embarrassment, and would create a limitless basis for future classification, the brief argues.

Washington DC - The religious anti-poverty organization JubileeUSANetwork is calling on international lenders to grant debt relief toVanuatuIn mid-March, Cyclone Pam struck the string of small Pacific islands with winds up to 165 miles per hour. The category 5 storm destroyed or damaged nearly every building inthe capital city and wiped out crops across the country. The United Nations warns that entire islands are facing imminent starvation and its President says the "monster" storm undid the nation's recent economic development. Vanuatuowes approximately $84 million to international lenders, including nearly $10 millionto the World Bank.

"The World Bank and other international lenders can reduce Vanuatu'debt," said Eric LeCompte, JubileeUSANetwork's Executive Director. "Vanuatu's people will need every single dollar they can get to rebuild."

When racial bias occurs it is customary to suggest that such practices are out of the norm or something only done by an individual out of touch with prevailing social values, but racism is part of American social ecology, often as unrecognized as the air we breathe.

That contaminant of racism in our national atmosphere has become more sharply noticeable, however, since the generalized uprising of hurt protest following the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting death of Michael Brown in August last year. We are beginning to see that it all connects, that each incident relates to the others.

An American citizen who was disappeared in Yemen has told his lawyers 'I'm afraid for my life' on a phone call from his prison cell in the basement of a Sana'a military base. The call is the first time Sharif Mobley has spoken to anyone from his legal team in over a year.

On the phone call, broadcast today on MSNBC, Sharif can be heard telling his lawyers "there's fighting at this military base and… Saudi Arabian bombing, it's been bombed every night, and it's very frightening." He goes on to say "I'm afraid for my life."

Wednesday, April 1, all charges against me were dismissed. The 1st Amendment is rising again. The five freedoms - worship, speech, press, assembly and petition - suffer when we're at war. Security trumps freedom. Even Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. But 9/11 was 15 years ago...

I was arrested while speaking on behalf of Black Lives Matter. Five kinds of police stood there watching: Homeland Security, NY state troopers, National Guard, NYPD and police from the transportation authority, whose officers did the hand-cuffing.

This is a dangerous time for Medicare. The bill passed by the House on March 27, by a surprising bipartisan majority of 392-37 - H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 - threatens to end traditional Medicare as a social insurance program that protects seniors in a single large risk pool. The Senate is set to vote on the bill in two weeks.

The timing could not be more ironical. Medicare was passed 50 years ago by overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress - by votes of 302-116 in the House and 70-24 in the Senate.

Politicians in Washington State are attempting to reduce educators to lifeless bits of inaccurate data. House Bill ESSB 5748, which would explicitly link teacher evaluation to standardized test scores, was recently introduced into the Washington State Legislature.  Dr. Wayne Au, the University of Washington Bothell's 2015 Distinguished Teaching award winning professor, joined scores of others in Olympia on Monday, March 30th, to express opposition to this educationally unsound proposal. 

In fact, there were so many there that wanted to use their testimony to "test-defy," that after both sides had presented arguments, there were still 322 more people who wanted to speak against the bill but there wasn't enough time.

On Monday March 30, Dr. Johanna Fernández was scheduled to visit political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal because he sounded sick when they spoke the week before. That is when she discovered he had been transferred from prison to the hospital and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Schukylkill Medical Center Monday morning after losing consciousness due to diabetic shock.

When his family and supporters tried to visit Mumia in hospital, they were denied access. Only after twenty hours of vigil and national and international pressure through a mass phone-in, were Mumia's wife Wadiya and his brother Keith given thirty minutes each to see him. Pam Africa, his emergency medical contact, and his lawyer were denied access.

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Speakout

SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Joy First reports from Mauston, Wisc., that Bonnie Block, a Madison grandmother and long-time peace activist, was found guilty of trespassing in a jury trial in the Juneau County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, and sent to jail.

Sadly, this is not an April Fool's joke. Block, pictured at right, was compelled to either pay $232 or spend 5 days in the Juneau County Jail.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) told the Los Angeles Times that a bipartisan amendment passed by Congress last year prohibiting DOJ from spending any money to undermine state medicalmarijuana laws doesn't prevent it from prosecuting people for medical marijuana or seizing their property. The statement comes as the agency continues to target people who are complying with their state medical marijuana law. This insubordination is occurring despite the fact that members of Congress in both parties were clear that their intent with the amendment was to protect medical marijuana patients and providers from federal prosecution and forfeiture.

"The Justice Department is ignoring the will of the voters, defying Congress, and breaking the law," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance"President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder need to rein in this out-of-control agency."

The US government should not be permitted to classify information simply because it could be used to stir anti-American sentiment abroad, the Brennan Center for Justice and the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued in an amicus brief filed last week.

Allowing the US to classify information based on the argument that our enemies could use it as"anti-American propaganda" contradicts Executive Order 13526, which prohibits the classification of information to conceal misconduct or prevent embarrassment, and would create a limitless basis for future classification, the brief argues.

Washington DC - The religious anti-poverty organization JubileeUSANetwork is calling on international lenders to grant debt relief toVanuatuIn mid-March, Cyclone Pam struck the string of small Pacific islands with winds up to 165 miles per hour. The category 5 storm destroyed or damaged nearly every building inthe capital city and wiped out crops across the country. The United Nations warns that entire islands are facing imminent starvation and its President says the "monster" storm undid the nation's recent economic development. Vanuatuowes approximately $84 million to international lenders, including nearly $10 millionto the World Bank.

"The World Bank and other international lenders can reduce Vanuatu'debt," said Eric LeCompte, JubileeUSANetwork's Executive Director. "Vanuatu's people will need every single dollar they can get to rebuild."

When racial bias occurs it is customary to suggest that such practices are out of the norm or something only done by an individual out of touch with prevailing social values, but racism is part of American social ecology, often as unrecognized as the air we breathe.

That contaminant of racism in our national atmosphere has become more sharply noticeable, however, since the generalized uprising of hurt protest following the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting death of Michael Brown in August last year. We are beginning to see that it all connects, that each incident relates to the others.

An American citizen who was disappeared in Yemen has told his lawyers 'I'm afraid for my life' on a phone call from his prison cell in the basement of a Sana'a military base. The call is the first time Sharif Mobley has spoken to anyone from his legal team in over a year.

On the phone call, broadcast today on MSNBC, Sharif can be heard telling his lawyers "there's fighting at this military base and… Saudi Arabian bombing, it's been bombed every night, and it's very frightening." He goes on to say "I'm afraid for my life."

Wednesday, April 1, all charges against me were dismissed. The 1st Amendment is rising again. The five freedoms - worship, speech, press, assembly and petition - suffer when we're at war. Security trumps freedom. Even Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. But 9/11 was 15 years ago...

I was arrested while speaking on behalf of Black Lives Matter. Five kinds of police stood there watching: Homeland Security, NY state troopers, National Guard, NYPD and police from the transportation authority, whose officers did the hand-cuffing.

This is a dangerous time for Medicare. The bill passed by the House on March 27, by a surprising bipartisan majority of 392-37 - H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 - threatens to end traditional Medicare as a social insurance program that protects seniors in a single large risk pool. The Senate is set to vote on the bill in two weeks.

The timing could not be more ironical. Medicare was passed 50 years ago by overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress - by votes of 302-116 in the House and 70-24 in the Senate.

Politicians in Washington State are attempting to reduce educators to lifeless bits of inaccurate data. House Bill ESSB 5748, which would explicitly link teacher evaluation to standardized test scores, was recently introduced into the Washington State Legislature.  Dr. Wayne Au, the University of Washington Bothell's 2015 Distinguished Teaching award winning professor, joined scores of others in Olympia on Monday, March 30th, to express opposition to this educationally unsound proposal. 

In fact, there were so many there that wanted to use their testimony to "test-defy," that after both sides had presented arguments, there were still 322 more people who wanted to speak against the bill but there wasn't enough time.

On Monday March 30, Dr. Johanna Fernández was scheduled to visit political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal because he sounded sick when they spoke the week before. That is when she discovered he had been transferred from prison to the hospital and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Schukylkill Medical Center Monday morning after losing consciousness due to diabetic shock.

When his family and supporters tried to visit Mumia in hospital, they were denied access. Only after twenty hours of vigil and national and international pressure through a mass phone-in, were Mumia's wife Wadiya and his brother Keith given thirty minutes each to see him. Pam Africa, his emergency medical contact, and his lawyer were denied access.