Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thoughts for the day

It was shortly after that episode that [Justice Charles Evans] Hughes made a statement to me which at the time was shattering but which over the years turned out to be true: "Justice Douglas, you must remember one thing. At the constitutional level where we work, ninety percent of any decision is emotional. The rational part of us supplies the reason for supporting our predilections. Source: William O. Douglas. The Court Years, 1939-1975

All men are equal but only as long as those who have do not have to sacrifice anything to those who have not. Raja Shehadeh, The Sealed Room: Selections from the Diary of a Palestinian Living Under Israeli Occupation

Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?

Martin Luther King, Jr., civil-rights leader (1929-1968) 

Friday, May 29, 2009

American judicial and legal corruption

Here is the complete internet FAQ, or Frequently Asked Questions with Answers, on American judicial and legal corruption - the most hidden and ugly secret about life inside the modern United States.

Information for the many victims of USA legal injustice, and for anyone seeking to understand America's terrifying legal system, and how America really works.

Why American lawyers and judges are destroying families, sending innocent people to prison, and why average working people cannot get justice in American courts.

This FAQ is especially important, because America's major news media are afraid to talk about wrongdoing by lawyers and judges. Here is the truth that the U.S. media knows, but hides from the public.

"This focus on money and power may do wonders in the marketplace, but it creates a tremendous crisis in our society. People who have spent all day learning how to sell themselves and to manipulate others are in no position to form lasting friendships or intimate relationships... Many Americans hunger for a different kind of society -- one based on principles of caring, ethical and spiritual sensitivity, and communal solidarity. Their need for meaning is just as intense as their need for economic security."-- Michael Lerner, journalist

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Other Death Penalty: LWOP The Trouble With Prison May 25,'09 By KENNETH HARTMAN,

Excerpts: People are put in prison because nothing else works. This is the foundational misperception that supports the prison edifice. The truth is far less simple. There are prisoners whose lifetime of dangerous behavior leaves prison as the only choice for society. But these are a tiny minority in the sea of pathetic misfits and perennial losers walking the yards.

Most prisoners are uneducated, riddled with unresolved traumas and ill-treated mental health problems, drug and alcohol addictions, and self-esteem issues that are beyond profound, bordering on the pathological far too often. The vast majority has never received competent health care, mental health care, drug treatment, education or even an opportunity to look at themselves as human. Were any of these far less draconian interventions even tried, before the descent into this wretched cave, no doubt many of my peers would be leading productive lives. Nothing else works is not a statement of fact; it is the declaration of an ideology. This ideology holds that punishment, for the sake of the infliction of pain, is the logical response to all misbehavior. It is also a convenient cover story behind which powerful special interest groups hide.

Prison employees benefit by our failure. This startling fact contains within it a monstrous truth. These well-organized government workers created the victims’ rights movement, a sad shill for the prison-industrial complex. Using the handful of politically active victims of crime to obscure their actual agenda, propositions are passed, laws are changed, and policies that could prevent victimization in the first place are suppressed. Both of these groups, working in tandem with the corporations that supply and construct prisons, pour millions of dollars into the political process to achieve a system guaranteed to fail.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rampant Police Violence
How Many Kicks to the Head Does it Take?
By BEN ROSENFELD; May 18, 2009

Excerpts - Countless people in this country live amid an epidemic of police violence. ...rampant police abuse is creating a widening gulf of mistrust between police and the public they putatively may help explain why someone...would run from police...

On the police side, the failure to prosecute assaultive officers only exposes responsible officers to danger by an incensed public robbed of any reasonable hope for official accountability. John F. Kennedy famously warned: “Those who make peaceful protest impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”

But who could expect responsible local government action when the federal government sets such an atrocious example?

...William Brandeis, a wiser Supreme Court Justice than most, observed: “Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself.” (Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928)).

Unless we are willing to apply consistent legal standards, we will only spin further to the edge of our moral compass, and will find ourselves putting down ever more justifiable rebellions by ever increasing excessive force.

Each extra-legal kick to the head which does not jar us to our senses becomes one more intolerable exception to democracy. We only get so many exceptions before we simply cease to be.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Appeals court to hear Pinkney defense
By Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire

On June 9, the State Appeals Court of Michigan will hear defense arguments in the case of Rev. Edward Pinkney. Pinkney, who is the leader of the Benton Harbor Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers (BANCO), was convicted by a Berrien County, all-white jury in March 2007 on trumped-up charges related to false allegations of voter fraud.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan has taken Pinkney’s case and was successful in winning his release on bond in December 2008, pending the outcome of the appeal.

Pinkney was convicted of four felony counts and one misdemeanor after heading a successful recall campaign against a City Commissioner.

As a result of the recall, the courts in Berrien County overturned the election results citing irregularities. The first trial against Pinkney ended in a hung jury in 2006. The charges were reinstated leading to Pinkney’s conviction and subsequent house arrest. He was initially sentenced to one year in jail and four years probation by Berrien County Judge Alfred Butzbaugh.

Pinkney was placed on a tether and not allowed to step outside of his home. His phone calls were monitored and he was prohibited from engaging in community or church activities in Berrien County.

When Pinkney published an article in the Chicago-based People’s Tribune newspaper criticizing Judge Butzbaugh’s actions in his case, Berrien County hauled Pinkney into courtroom in December of 2007. He was charged with threatening the life of the trial judge and sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison because in the article he had quoted the Book of Deuteronomy 28:14-22.

Over the next year Pinkney was transferred to over six correctional facilities throughout the state.

A nationwide campaign in his defense drew worldwide attention to the pastor’s plight as a political prisoner. Even though Pinkney was released on appeal bond on December 24, 2008, his conditions of probation are draconian.

Rev. Pinkney’s bond hearing was held in the same Berrien County court system. Under his appeal bond he is denied the right to preach, grant interviews, write articles, address crowds or engage in politics.

Support Builds for Appeals Hearing

In March three friend-of the court briefs were filed in support of overturning the conviction of Rev. Pinkney. A broad-based group of religious organizations, law professors and free speech advocates submitted the legal documents.

“We are thrilled with the overwhelming support from the religious community, constitutional scholars and free speech organizations,” said Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan Legal Director. “The groups persuasively argue for the fundamental American principle that a preacher cannot be thrown in prison for his religious speech even if some find it offensive.”

The religious freedom brief encompasses the views of numerous faith-based organizations.

Another brief was submitted by 18 law professors from various universities including Wayne State Law School, University of Detroit Law School and the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. The brief states that “In this country, under this Constitution, and on this Court’s watch, he must not be imprisoned for speaking his conscience.”

Also the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression argued in its brief that “In finding that Rev. Pinkney’s newspaper editorial violated his conditions of probation, the lower court punished speech at the core of First Amendment protection: public criticism of the judiciary.”

Berrien County and American Apartheid

This southwest Michigan county is a stark representation of racism and national oppression in the United States. Benton Harbor, which is over 90 percent African American, is one of the most underdeveloped cities in the state of Michigan. In neighboring St. Joseph, a nearly all-white city, the standard of living is much higher and it is the seat of the county where the court is located.

Over the last several years a so-called development project, Harbor Shores, has unveiled plans to take control of large sections of Benton Harbor to construct a golf course and residential enclave for the wealthy. These plans, along with astronomical foreclosure and unemployment rates, are forcing many residents of Benton Harbor to leave the area.

According to an article published by Dorothy Pinkney, the wife of the persecuted minister, the presiding trial Judge Butzbaugh has interests in the Harbor Shores development project. The Whirlpool Corporation, which is highly-influential in the region, is major promoter of the Harbor Shores scheme.

“My husband was denied due process and the right under state law to an impartial decision maker because the trial judge, Alfred Butzbaugh, had a financial interest in the development of Harbor Shores. This huge development project is what motivated my husband to seek the recall of the corrupt Benton Harbor City Commissioner Glen Yarbrough,” Dorothy Pinkney wrote.

She continues by pointing out that “The trial court’s financial interest in the Harbor Shores project was not known to my husband until after the trial. The Harbor Shores project which has been primarily pressed by Cornerstone Alliance on behalf of Whirlpool Corporation began in 1998 when the community economic development corporation was formed by John Dewane of the law firm Butzbaugh and Ryan.” (BANCO website, April 2009)

The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI), the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO) and the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) are mobilizing people to attend the appeals hearing for Rev. Pinkney on June 9.

The hearing will take place in Grand Rapids at the Court of Appeals Building, 350 Ottawa St at 9:00 a.m.

For information on transportation please call MECAWI at 313.680.5508.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

To simplify the events of the past couple days, Judge Wiley of the Berrien County Court, failed to comply with a Michigan Supreme Court order to "articulate the specific reasons" for confining Rev. Pinkney to his home 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. His deadline was Wed. He ignored ACLU and other phone calls. INSTEAD, Wiley faxed the ACLU a "Notice to Appear" scheduling a hearing for Friday, May 22, 4pm. In addition to being the Friday before Memorial Day - yet another vindictive power play by Wiley - May 22 is nine days after the Supreme Court's clear 21-day deadline. To see a kangaroo court in action, this will be it.

Commentary by John Mann:

Berrien County government, particularly the courts, is nothing less than breathtaking in its Jim Crow audacity.

St. Joseph exists as the stronghold of a modern day feudal satrapy with the liege's courts running interference for Upton/Whirlpool plundering. Benton Harbor, at least the portions of it not coveted for Harbor Shores exploitation, is their dumping ground, the City Commission an extension of the boardroom, the newspaper a corporate organ, the law enforcement community largely a vicious occupying army residents are compelled to finance.

The games judges play there, like the extremely petty one highlighted above that Wiley is using to toy with the ACLU, are non-stop. Justice remains nonexistent and the law but a shield for scum to hide behind and use as their very own.

While lion Rev. Edward Pinkney does time, southwest Michigan's prominent Left remains conspicuously unheard and unseen, Kalamazoo's "newspaper" seemingly shuttered already. This, in the face of a naked heist so the privileged few can have a Jack Nicklaus golf course on parkland given to Benton Harbor "in perpetuity."

[For one of the most thorough summations of Rev. Pinkney's story, see, May 15: Appeals court to hear Pinkney defense] Story is now directly above this post.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

International Boycott Of All Whirlpool Products!
13 to run for four Benton Harbor City Commission seats

Wed., May 13,09 HP
BENTON HARBOR - In Benton Harbor, 13 people are running for four seats on the City Commission. [BANCO ENDORSES JUANITA HENRY AND MARCUS MUHAMMAD.]
DEALWATCH: Dealing With The New DOJ May 13, 2009

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- The new emphasis on antitrust enforcement by President Barack Obama's administration is a sharp reversal of the Bush-era free-market philosophy.
...Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney stirred a hornet's nest of sorts by saying "the recent developments in the marketplace should make it clear that we can no longer rely upon the marketplace alone to ensure that competition and consumers will be protected."...However, there's no doubt that some Bush-era deals would have faced much tougher scrutiny if they had arrived in Varney's inbox...The $1.8 billion Maytag-Whirlpool merger in 2005, a combination that resulted in up to 70% market share in large appliances in the U.S., is one case in point....the Bush administration's weak grip on antitrust issues...Antitrust rules are likely to better align with European Union regulations, which would lead to more certainty for those involved in the process, says Janet McDavid, partner at Hogan & Hartson. In Europe, the impact on the customer has always been paramount.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May 11, 2009
Specious Drug Tests Send Thousands to Jail
Pseudoscience and Wrongful Convictions in the War on Drugs


EXCERPT: In a 1983 law review article, Stephen G. Thompson observed that: "Modern criminal justice is premised upon the requirement that a criminal defendant be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before punishment be meted out. The standard of proof is severe; its severity is based upon a collective societal judgment that the risk of error be borne by the state. As fundamental and unquestionable as this principle may seem, it is frequently tested when the interests of society appear urgent, immediate, and identifiable. In these instances, society often creates policies and systems which threaten the presumption of innocence."

As a result of the perceived urgency of the Drug War, certain drug testing is a good example of the use of forensic evidence that in effect routinely deprives suspects and defendants of the presumption of innocence and results in wrongful prosecutions and convictions as well as unwarranted guilty pleas. The reason for this is that the most commonly used drug tests as now employed do not accurately reflect the true or actual identity of the evidentiary substance, i. e., they do not detect. They do not prove the presence of an illegal drug, certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt.

John Kelly is a former research scientist, a court certified expert, and first author with Phillip Wearne of Tainting Evidence: Inside the Scandals at the FBI Crime Lab which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Publishers interested in How to Obtain a Pretrial Clearance of Marijuana Charges or an Acquittal or an Exoneration can contact Kelly at:

Friday, May 08, 2009

Masses Stand Up With Rev. Edward Pinkney and the Movement: Remember You Are "Bad"! May '09

by Dr. Lenore J. Daniels

The English learned how to use, and foment, trouble to their purposes, and this policy was know as Divide and Rule.

-James Baldwin

I was born in the congo I walked to the fertile crescent and built the sphinx I designed a pyramid so tough that a star that only glows every one hundred years falls into the center giving divine perfect light I am bad.

-Nikki Giovanni

What does it mean to “normalize” relations with the U.S.? What does “normalize” mean? If Raul Castro is described as being “belligerent” to Barrack Obama, then what does that mean? Who is speaking?

The day came and many of us, scattered across the country, waited. On this day, June 26, 2008, Rev. Edward Pinkney would be coming home.

And then later that day, the news came. I called Dorothy Pinkney.

He was returned to prison!


An activist, fighting against the takeover of the predominately Black community in Benton Harbor, Michigan lead by Whirlpool, Inc and the Harbor Shores Project, Rev. Pinkney knew the results of this land grab would benefit the white community in adjacent St. Joseph.

The U.S. government practices ignorance of the history of Western conquest, and it expects everyone within and without its borders to do the same. For years, Rev. Pinkney and the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO) have fought against racist practices in Benton Harbor. When the movement led to the successful recall of Glenn Yarbrough, a local politician with ties to Whirlpool, city officials, lead by Yarbrough, went to work to frame Rev. Pinkney.

Rev. Pinkney’s strategy to recall Yarbrough focused on mobilizing absentee votes, writes Ted McTaggart, in “The Framing of Reverend Pinkney.” The movement won a victory with 42% of the absentee vote! And Yarbrough’s response was to hold a “behind-the-doors meeting with Whirlpool and County Prosecutor James Cherry.

What comes next? Vote fraud charges against Rev. Pinkney and the movement!

After failing to convict Rev. Pinkney at the first trial, the judicial system in Berrien County called for another trial! Now Rev. Pinkney is facing an all-white jury!

The white solution to the “problem” of the Black voice is to silence it within whiteness!

Rev. Edward Pinkney was sentenced to 3-5 years in prison!

Back in Benton Harbor, the “colored” scoundrels were hurrying to get a piece of the action. Black city Commissioners Rahim Abdullah, Ricky Hill, James Hightower, Eddie Marshall and David Shaw along with Black mayor, Wilce Cooke support the land grab. They keep their jobs, their homes, and their children can attend good private schools and find a seat at an Eastern ivy-league university. They don business suits and talk like Mr. Big Man. The American Dream has come to them!

We have seen a parade of these “colored” scoundrels: Alberto Gonzales, Condi Rice, John Yoo, Colin Powell, Congressman Rangel, and Gov. Richardson among others. In 2004, USA Today! claimed that Bush Jr. was opening the “doors with a diverse cabinet.” The top-tier colored people represent the interests of the capitalism and imperialism. That’s why the doors are open to this multiracial cabal of people who have turned their backs on the people to acquire a share in Imperialist power and profits.

This colored cabal of scoundrels is everywhere corporations are grabbing the land, once again, from Black people.

Take a look at the so-called Green revolution. The current administration of Imperialism is running around screaming about the Green Revolution! The Green Revolution. The Green revolution is coming! Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director at the Oakland Institute stated on WBAI’s Talk Back! that this green revolution is “basically colonization all over again.” In Africa, there’s a land grab by corporations like Monsanto and Morgan Stanley. The World Bank is promoting the selling of African land to these corporations. Food produced on the confiscated land is exported to the Western nation-states and held for the wealthy to distribute on that day when the capitalist economy really collapses once and for all.

Poor nations in Africa are providing food for Western nation-states, China, Saudia Arabia, and Egypt - the same countries that have, for years, poached the food resources in the waters off the coast of Somalia.

In the meantime, Black farmers are left landless and displaced or in debt. Colonialism once again? Where is the Black leadership? They are acquiescing with a nod and a hand shake as they walk the halls of the World Bank and the IMF. As Mittal explains, this “white man’s solution” for Africa is condoned without consulting the Black people - the farmers themselves. There’s no platform for Black voices to be heard.” The “top down approach” and I would add, Black Big Man approach, silences the Black farmers. Just as the governments and corporations see in this land grab “a big investment opportunity” in Africa and in Black communities in the U.S., as Mittal said, the Black middle class has recognized in this land grab an investment opportunity for their own families and friends. In urban cities in the U.S., Black poor and working class and unemployed have been displaced to provide housing for predominantly white middle and upper classes - with the help of the Black leadership.

This Black class of no conscience complies with the system of oppression, and it’s no different in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Benton Harbor’s Black politicians, civic and religious leadership is now enslaved to the corporate masters while the poor and working class Black community is exploited and displaced.

“They don’t care who they hurt,” Rev. Pinkney said.

This is an issue of international housing and food security for the rich and a crisis of international proportion for Black people - and the discourse of resistance is being taken over to silence the people.

Before his hearing before Judge Dennis Wiley at the Berrien County Court House on June 26th, Rev. Pinkney wrote an article in the Peoples’ Tribune. In the article, he quoted a passage from Deuteronomy 28:14-22. Here’s an excerpt:

Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.

Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.

Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.

In the courtroom, Judge Wiley announced that the passage presented a “threat” to Judge Butzbaugh, the one whose law firm has financial interests in the Harbor Shore Project and who sentenced Rev. Pinkney to prison. Butzbaugh never read the article. But Judge Wiley heard a threat (to government power?) in the Biblical quote!

You have, he said to Rev. Pinkney, “a connection to God.”

Three-ten years in prison!

Instead of going home, Rev. Pinkney was returned to prison!

“I could call God down and have him do something,” Rev. Pinkney told me. Rev. Pinkney recognized in this display of “madness” a method, a justification for returning Rev. Pinkney and the voice of the poor and working class Black community to the “margins” of society.


The anger of enlightened Blacks around the world is real! - because what does it take to “normalize” relations with the U.S. government?

How is President Obama’s fear over of what he’s terms “inciteful” language directed at the U.S. and Israel unconnected to Judge Wiley’s charge that Rev. Pinkney’s quoting the Bible is a threat to the State?

The world wide corporate media will speak of “investment opportunities” from the point of view of the SUBJECT: imperialist nation states and their allies. Others who dare to challenge this perspective will be denounced as “criminal” for violating the Silence.

Rev. Edward Pinkney’s battle is bigger than Berrien County, Michigan, white and Black politicians, civic, and religious leadership. This battle represents a confrontation with the U.S. government’s attempt to deny the Black masses of people their First Amendment rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

(See Faith Ringgold’s painting, Freedom of Speech, 1990)

On June 26, 2008, the prosecutor failed “to file a brief on this case with reference to the Bible quote,” said Rev. Pinkney.

On June 9, 2009, this case will have a hearing on the right to free speech, free expression. In the future, this case will “set the standard,” and it will be “used as case law.” “This hearing is crucial for every single American.” At 9:00am, on June 9, 2009, citizens interested in preserving the first amendment rights of their fellow citizens, should come to the Court of Appeals Building in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 350 Ottawa Street.

May 1st is International Boycott Whirlpool Day!

Take action! Be belligerent! Boycott Whirlpool! Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has been a writer, for over thirty years of commentary, resistance criticism and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist sensibility to the impact of cultural narrative violence and its antithesis, resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication to justice and equality, she has served as a coordinator of student and community resistance projects that encourage the Black Feminist idea of an equalitarian community and facilitator of student-teacher communities behind the walls of academia for the last twenty years. Dr. Daniels holds a PhD in Modern American Literatures, with a specialty in Cultural Theory (race, gender, class narratives) from Loyola University, Chicago.