This restaurant owner is a moron; people should boycott Hang Time Bar & Grill in Rowlett, Texas!
Excerpts from the Article:
A Texas woman said she and her husband were told to leave a Texas restaurant because they were wearing masks in an effort to protect their four-month-old son, who has cystic fibrosis. Natalie Wester told TODAY Food she and her husband, Jose Lopez-Guerrero, were out with friends a couple weeks ago and were wearing masks as a “preventative measure” while waiting for food to arrive. Their son was not with them; he was being babysat by her mother.
Wester said the outing was a rare date night for her and her husband, since they are new parents. They went to Hang Time Bar & Grill in Rowlett, Texas, with a couple of friends. While entering the restaurant, Wester and her husband were asked to remove their masks and Wester believed it was so the staff could check their IDs.
“She mentioned something about removing our masks and taking them down, and I just assumed that was because she was speaking with us regarding our IDs, it was related to that,” Wester said, noting that there was a band playing live music which made it difficult to hear. “So we did take the masks down for that, we put them back up and went to our table.”
Wester said, a few minutes later, after ordering some drinks and an appetizer, another staff member approached their table. “Our waitress came down and sat next to me and she said, ‘You know, our manager sent me over here because I’m nicer than he is about the situation, but he feels that this is very political. He does not like the mask. You’re going to need to remove the mask if you want to be in here,'” Wester recalled. “My husband and I had never heard anything like this before, even in Texas.”
“So we explained to the waitress about our son … And she really didn’t even give us an option,” Wester continued. “She said, ‘Well, if this is something that’s going to be an issue, then I’m just going to close your check.'”
Wester said she and her husband “didn’t want to make a scene” or ruin her friends’ night. The other couple, who were not wearing masks, did stay at the bar, but Wester and her husband left. Shortly after getting home, Wester wrote a post about her experience and shared it on a local Facebook page as a review of the establishment. Later, she shared the post on her own Facebook page, where it went viral.
“I in no way intended to slander his business or be rude and aggressive … But I wanted to explain my frustrations, because I do feel like this kind of mentality that the owner has has contributed to the really high numbers of COVID in Texas,” Wester said. “I was just very frustrated, so I made a post.”
For much of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health experts have cautioned against indoor dining, since masks cannot be worn while eating. While it’s considered to be a safe activity for vaccinated people, experts say unvaccinated people should avoid dining out right now, and people in areas with high transmission should remain cautious. Precautions like increasing ventilation or masking when not eating can make indoor dining safer.
The owner of the bar, Thomas Blackmer, did not respond to multiple requests for comment from TODAY. He did acknowledge in a Facebook comment that he wasn’t allowing masks inside his bar. Blackmer has also shared anti-vaccine and anti-mask content on social media.
In an interview with KTVT, a local TV station, Blackmer said that he didn’t “want any masks” in the establishment, which he had put his “money” and “blood, sweat and tears” into. While there aren’t any signs stating Blackmer’s policy in the restaurant, KTVT reported that the establishment’s host asks guests to remove their masks at the door.
“I feel the overall reaction with masks is ridiculous in the United States right now,” Blackmer told KTVT. “So when they put their masks on the other night, they were reminded that they were asked at the front to take it off. They didn’t want to, so we asked them to leave.”
Blackmer told the Washington Post he has dealt with a wave of severe backlash, including his address being shared online, which led to him moving, and vitriol so intense, he temporarily shut down the restaurant’s Facebook page. On his own Facebook page, Blackmer said he was dealing with calls and threats. But he doesn’t regret enforcing the ban, he told the Post.
Wester said that while she and her husband were told that their wearing masks was perceived as political, they believe it’s Blackmer’s response that was politically motivated.
“I know that a lot of people here in Texas have an issue wearing a mask, but to be told that we can’t be in an establishment because we want to put our masks on, we couldn’t believe what we were hearing,” she said.
Wester said, since the post has gone viral, she and her husband have been overwhelmed with the public response. Some people have reached out in support, while others have criticized her and her husband by pointing out that they were already engaging in activity that could put their son at risk by indoor dining. However, Wester told TODAY their family’s doctors had encouraged living life normally, just with some extra precautions.
“They’ve just advised us to be a little extra cautious when we’re going out and use our brains and make decisions as we feel appropriate, and that’s why we left,” Wester said. “They haven’t told us to stay away from (specific activities).”
Wester said the positive response has so far outweighed the negative commentary.
“A lot of people have reached out who have children with cystic fibrosis, a lot of mothers and fathers have been very encouraging and supportive telling us that they support us and that they understand how difficult it can be to have a child with some special needs and to try to manage your relationship and social life and the well-being of your child,” Wester said. “We definitely have some supporters, which has been a nice relief from the tons of hate we’ve been getting.”
Two GOP operatives indicted for allegedly routing money from Russian national to support Trump campaign
As it should be. These laws exist for good reasons!
Excerpts from the Article:
A political strategist who was pardoned by the former president after being convicted in a 2012 campaign finance scheme is facing new charges related to an alleged 2016 plot to illegally funnel donations made by a Russian national to support then-candidate Donald Trump’s White House bid.
Jesse Benton, 43, who was previously a top aide to former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and later ran a pro-Trump super PAC, was charged this month, according to a federal indictment in Washington unsealed Monday. Also charged is Roy Douglas “Doug” Wead, 75, a conservative author and former special assistant to President George H.W. Bush.
According to the indictment, in the months before the 2016 presidential election, Benton and Wead solicited a U.S. campaign donation from a Russian national in violation of federal law, then filed false campaign finance reports to make it seem that the donation was from Benton.
Federal disclosures from that period make clear the donation went to support Trump’s election, though the recipient is not named in the indictment. Authorities allege Benton arranged for the Russian national to attend a fundraiser “and get a photograph with” the candidate, “in exchange for a political contribution.”
Benton and Wead “concealed the scheme from the candidate, federal regulators, and the public,” according to the indictment.
The court filing does not name Trump, but details in the indictment match a $25,000 donation that Benton made in the fall of 2016 to a committee that jointly raised money for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, campaign finance records show.
The unnamed Russian national, who is described as a business associate of Wead, wired a total of $100,000 from a bank account in Vienna, Austria, to a political consulting firm owned by Benton, authorities allege.
In return, Benton and Wead allegedly arranged for the Russian national to attend a September fundraiser in Philadelphia. The following month, Benton used his credit card to pay the $25,000 cost of the Russian national’s ticket to the event and told a consultant for the related campaign committees that he had “bought the tickets and gifted them” to Wead and the individual.
Benton then paid off the $25,000 on his card using the funds wired by the individual to his consulting company. He kept the remaining $75,000, the indictment alleges.
Benton did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night. Wead referred questions to his attorneys, Jane Raskin and Jay Sekulow.
“Doug Wead is a respected author and supporter of charitable causes,” Sekulow said in an email Monday night. “He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will continue to respond appropriately in court.”
The $25,000 donation to the Trump Victory committee appears to have been Benton’s only contribution in federal races in the 2016 cycle, other than $5 to a pro-Trump super PAC earmarked for Trump’s campaign committee, according to campaign finance records.
Spokespeople for Trump and the RNC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Separately, Benton and two other Ron Paul aides were convicted in 2016 of an attempt to buy an endorsement for Paul’s 2012 presidential bid. The trio had been charged with concocting a plan to pay an Iowa state senator in exchange for his endorsing the campaign and helping it organize in early states.
Benton had spearheaded the 2014 reelection bid of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) but resigned in August that year after details about the investigation into his role in the Paul campaign plot were revealed.
Benton later worked for the Great America super PAC, which supported Trump, but resigned in 2016 after the charges were filed. Late last year, Trump pardoned Benton, with Rand Paul’s backing.
Benton also came under media scrutiny in the fall of 2016 after being accused of trying to use the Great America super PAC as a conduit for foreign donations. Posing as associates of a would-be Chinese donor, journalists with the Telegraph, a British newspaper, captured Benton in writing and on video claiming he could transfer millions of dollars through his company to the super PAC, in an elaborate bid to obscure the contribution’s foreign origins. The investigation led to a federal complaint against Benton.
Wead is a conservative author who previously served as an adviser to George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. He was also a Republican congressional candidate in Arizona in the early 1990s and earned notoriety in 2005 when he revealed that he had secretly taped the younger Bush over a two-year period. Wead released excerpts of the recordings, which were made legally, and the White House at the time did not deny their authenticity.
Op Ed Submission or Letter to the Editor – Arrests should start – 9/20/21
Expect trouble from these fools in the future!
Arrests need to start. Any state or federal prosecutor with jurisdiction should charge people like House Minority Whip McCarthy who are advising companies and others to disobey valid Congressional requests for information regarding the January insurrection and even suggesting they ignore subpoenas.
Someone needs to step up and say: “It’s time to call a spade a spade. These are not ‘good ole boys rallying their base’, these are good old criminals attempting to obstruct justice, and this nation will not tolerate it!”
I was a prosecutor for five years, and I could get a jury to convict people like McCarthy in about one day!
Ken Abraham, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, former Deputy Attorney General of Delaware, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
50 Years After Attica, Prisoners Are Still Protesting Brutal Conditions. Will America Finally Listen?
This article was sent to me by my dear friend, 91 year old Edna in Georgetown, DE. She was Justice Carey’s secretary in 1973-74 when I was his law clerk, and we have become great friends over the last 15 years. Knowing what I do, she keeps her eyes peeled for articles of interest. 🙂
What one inmate said is too true, rebellion is “their only grievance system.” The grievance system in prisons is a joke.
I hear from inmates and their families all over the country every week; this article is a disgraceful summary of problems in all of our prisons!
Excerpts from the Article:
It happened in January, inside California’s Santa Clara County jails. In April of last year, it happened at the Westville Correctional Facility in Indiana. It happened two separate times this year alone at the St. Louis City Justice Center. American prisoners erupted, many often refusing to go back to their cells until they were heard. As one man who had spent months confined to the notorious facility in Missouri told a journalist, rebellion is “their only grievance system.”
What motivated these protests was a disastrous COVID-19 response that has left prisons and jails utterly ravaged. There has been no way for those on the inside to isolate from, nor to care for, those who are sick from the virus, and their mortality rate is significantly higher than that of the general population. In federal and state prisons, according to the UCLA Law COVID Behind Bars Data Project, there have been 199.6 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 80.9 in the total U.S. population. “They are someone’s family,” the mother of a young man incarcerated in the Indiana prison told a local reporter. They are simply asking, she said, “to have open and honest communication about where the virus is and what is being done.”
That the pandemic remains dire behind bars, or that it has fueled protests there, may raise few eyebrows. But the uncomfortable truth is that there have been hundreds of moments of unrest just like these in recent years, dramatic episodes in which America’s incarcerated people have risked extraordinary punishment just to let the public know how bad conditions really are.
The attention people serving time do manage to attract may be laced with surprise, or skepticism. It isn’t that Americans can’t imagine prisons as hellholes; after all, many have seen movies like The Shawshank Redemption. But it is as if the disproportionately Black and brown people serving time have surrendered not only their freedom but also any claim on sympathy. Those on the outside are quite confident that the incarcerated today are legally protected from the cruel and unusual tortures of the past and, given that, many are remarkably comfortable with the idea that prisons are pretty terrible places of punishment—comfortable forgetting that how a society doles out such discipline is a reflection of its moral capacity.
It is true that extraordinary effort was put into improving conditions inside America’s prisons and jails back in the 1960s and ’70s. Exactly 50 years ago, from Sept. 9 to Sept. 13, 1971, the nation watched riveted as nearly 1,300 men stood together in America’s most dramatic prison uprising, for better conditions at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York. The men were fed on 63¢ a day; were given only one roll of toilet paper a month; endured beatings, racial epithets, and barbaric medical treatment; and suffered the trauma of being thrown into a cell and kept there for days, naked, as punishment. The Attica prison uprising was historic because these men spoke directly to the public, and by doing so, they powerfully underscored to the nation that serving time did not make someone less of a human being.
Now, despite the protections won by their rebellion, and the broader movement for justice of which it was a part, the incarcerated are once again desperately trying to call the public’s attention to the horrific conditions they endure behind the walls. The 50th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising is an occasion that compels making sense of why that is. These are institutions that we fund as taxpayers and send people to as jurors, and those inside of them are not exaggerating how bad the conditions really are. But how could they have deteriorated so markedly over the past five decades, and why have so many cared so little as it was happening?
The answer to these questions can be found by taking a closer look at what happened at Attica and in its aftermath. Even as key demands were won in the prisoner-rights movement that peaked that long-ago September, the horrific way that state officials chose to end the bold and hopeful protest would have an incalculable impact on criminal justice nationwide for decades to come.
We are firm in our resolve, and we demand, as human beings, the dignity and justice that is due to us by our right of birth. We do not know how the present system of brutality and dehumanization and injustice has been allowed to be perpetrated in this day of enlightenment, but we are the living proof of its existence, and we cannot allow it to continue …
When the incarcerated today come together demanding better medical care in the face of COVID-19, they are hoping that laws already passed will be followed and constitutional rights already acknowledged will be honored. The men at Attica believed they also had these rights, but few had yet been secured in either law or policy.
Of the 33 demands that the men at Attica would present to state officials during their four-day uprising, the right to be protected from the cruel and unusual punishment of having their most basic medical needs ignored was one of the most central. For decades, every man at Attica had lived in terror of getting sick. Attica’s doctors were notorious. One physician’s response to a prisoner’s agonized plea for pain medication for a broken hand was infamous: “Write a letter to a different doctor.” As the prisoners expressed it most pointedly in the Attica Manifesto, a document they had sent prison officials two months before the uprising: “The Attica Prison hospital is totally inadequate, understaffed, and prejudiced in the treatment of inmates … There are numerous ‘mistakes’ made many times, improper and erroneous medication is given by untrained personnel.”
Attica’s men succeeded in getting New York’s Commissioner of Corrections Russell Oswald to agree in negotiations to “provide adequate medical care,” as well as to “access to outside doctors and dentists,” and then, in the wake of their rebellion, both houses of the New York State legislature were willing to consider reforms to prison medical care statewide in 1972. Then, in 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling Estelle v. Gamble, which established clearly that “deliberate indifference by prison personnel to a prisoner’s serious illness or injury constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.”
Yet in 2021, and not just as a result of COVID-19, the incarcerated across the country still somehow find themselves much sicker than they need to be, dying unnecessarily painful as well as early deaths. According to journalist Keri Blakinger’s investigation for the Marshall Project, correctional systems often hire people to provide care who have few if any qualifications, or even licenses that have been restricted or suspended. And because they can’t afford the usurious co-pays many prison systems now require, many prisoners who are ill can’t even see the doctor to begin with.
Much of prison health care is now privatized, aimed at profits. This means not just billing practices totally unsuited to a prison population, but also the denial of lifesaving procedures. That medical abuses related to privatization are a regular occurrence behind bars is corroborated by the physicians themselves, according to the ACLU. As one Arizona doctor who was expected to provide care for more than 5,000 people revealed, not only were her requests for consults with a specialist always denied, because “it costs too much money,” but she also regularly ran out of prisoners’ medications.
It is this sort of nightmarish medical care that cost John Kleutsch his life last summer in a Washington State prison. Kleutsch was recovering from outpatient abdominal surgery when a nurse asked to transfer him to a hospital, but the prison’s medical director refused. After “multiple days of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, no exams, no written notes and no plan of care,” the Seattle Times reported, Kleutsch was finally transferred to the ER, where he died of acute pancreatitis, gastrointestinal perforation and septic shock.
Abysmal medical care wasn’t the only reason Attica’s prisoners stood together. They also regularly experienced abuse at the hands of guards who had total control over them, and this too became a top issue they hoped officials would remedy 50 years ago. And the prisoners made an important mark on history. Their uprising was a real wake-up call to corrections professionals across the country who, thereafter, began insisting on many more hours of guard training. In New York State, specifically, the Department of Corrections began to hold training sessions devoted to “attitudes in supervision,” as well as “prejudice” and “minority cultures.”
Today, however, in states like New Mexico, it would be hard to convince those trying to serve their sentences that they have a right to decent medical care or to be protected from abusive guards. Not only is a crippling and easily treatable bone disease called osteomyelitis now at “epidemic levels” there, but according to legal documents, when those suffering this painful condition complain that they are being denied the care they need, they risk severe retaliation and solitary confinement from officers.
One of the very cruelest punishments that officers regularly mete out to children in prisons today is to lock them in isolation. When guards threw 15-year-old Ian Manuel into a solitary cell in 1992, it was, according to his memoir, for infractions as insignificant as “having a magazine that had another prisoner’s name on the mailing label.” He found refuge in his own mind, writing it was “the only place I could play basketball with my brother or video games with my friends and eat my mother’s warm cherry pie on the porch. It was the only place I could simply be a kid.”
In 1971, Attica’s men were acutely aware of the importance of stopping this form of punishment. Their demand that prison officials stop placing human beings in segregation—in solitary confinement—had been articulated in writing well before they were pushed to protest. But no matter how hard these men pushed during the September uprising, this was one of the demands on which they simply could not get Commissioner Oswald to budge. He would not agree to end solitary, nor would he consider their position that anyone sentenced to isolation must at least have due process.
Since 1971, the capricious and excessive use of solitary confinement has only intensified in America’s prisons. Over the past decade, the limited data that outsiders have been able to get out of correctional institutions revealed that between 60,000 and 90,000 Americans were in a solitary confinement cell—but the actual number was likely higher. Whether in segregation for “administrative,” “disciplinary” or “protective” reasons, to be in complete isolation for 22 to 24 hours a day, for days, months and years on end is unequivocally understood to be a form of torture, by the U.N., Amnesty International and numerous medical bodies.
In some places, isolation is used simply as a means of dealing with overcrowding. In Tennessee, for example, county administrators send people awaiting trial to the state prison because local jails are too crowded, under that state’s so-called safekeeping law. Even though these people have not even been convicted of a crime, they are then held in solitary until their trial dates.
As one man, William Blake, wrote of his 25 years in solitary confinement in the state of New York, “If I try to imagine what kind of death, even a slow one, would be worse than 25 years in the box—and I have tried to imagine it—I can come up with nothing.”
Countless infractions could land a man at Attica in solitary, but one of the quickest was to refuse to work. The labor they were forced into could be grueling, it paid mere pennies per hour, it had no meaningful health or safety protections, and Black and brown prisoners’ jobs were far worse and lower paid than those of white prisoners.
Fury over the injustice of this led Attica’s men to launch a sit-down strike for better wages in July 1970, and the issue stayed with them. And, although they were unable to secure an end to segregation, they did get New York’s Commissioner Oswald in fact to agree to “recommend the application of the New York State minimum-wage law standards to all work done by inmates.”
Despite these protections, thanks to the Constitution’s 13th Amendment, unpaid prison labor is still legal today. In fact, in 2021, every barrier to the use of prison labor that had been in place in 1971 has been eliminated, and there are more than a million more people behind bars available to work for little to no money than there were back then. This has not gone unnoticed. Be it for a private company seeking cheaper labor costs or a governor looking to break collective bargaining agreements, prison labor has became increasingly attractive over time.
In Wisconsin, former governor Scott Walker brought in prisoners to do landscaping, painting and snow-shoveling jobs that used to be done by unionized workers. In small towns like Iola, Kans., incarcerated women are working for the Russell Stovers candy factory. The Florida Times-Union reports that prisoners in the state labor in unbearable heat, “running weed-eaters and busting up sidewalks,” without sufficient breaks or food. Corrections officers are the foremen, and they motivate with threats of discipline. Working on the road crew earns the incarcerated no money. These same people must still pay for most essentials in prison, and many have children on the outside whom they must still feed. Prison labor also means fewer paid jobs for those on the outside. Over a five-year period, the income not going to either the families of unpaid prisoners or the folks who would have been doing those jobs if free labor weren’t available totaled “around $147.5 million,” the report continued. Add in “actual wages and benefits,” and the sum is “likely double or triple that estimate.”
It turns out that it is no accident that the full possibilities of the Attica moment were not realized, that Americans are largely unaware of what the costs of it have been for the people inside our nation’s prisons, and that this nation grew so hard-hearted when it came to how people in prison were being treated over the past five decades. This was the outcome intended by state officials 50 years ago.
As those nearly 1,300 men at Attica invited reporters to show the public what prisons really were like, as they brought in observers to oversee negotiations with prison officials, and as they gave passionate speeches about the conditions they had so long endured, Americans across the country found themselves deeply moved. Few liked the fact that these men had taken hostages to ensure that state officials would bargain with them, but they appreciated that Attica’s men released those who had needed medical care and took care to protect the rest.
As the days wore on, as more media from around the country descended on the prison, optimism ran high. Crucially, these men’s struggle was not taking place in a vacuum. It resonated with other efforts to expand civil and human rights, from Montgomery to Cicero and Selma to Stockton. And by the night of Sept. 12, to widespread astonishment, Attica’s men and Commissioner Oswald had managed to come to an agreement on 28 of the 33 demands. A peaceful end was in sight. Lives depended upon Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s making it work.
During the long days and nights that they had been negotiating, outside the prison waited more than 600 New York state troopers, itching to retake Attica with guns blazing. And they would get their wish. On the fifth morning, against the advice of every one of the observers as well as the pleas of his own state employees being held hostage, and with the men inside just waking up, Rockefeller ordered the armed retaking of Attica.
Within 15 minutes, 128 men were shot and 39 lay dead or dying—prisoners and hostages alike. As one traumatized National Guardsman put it, the troopers’ assault left in its wake “more blood, more gunshot wounds and more injuries that day than most people see in a typical day in combat. Certainly, in Vietnam.”
And then, stunningly, state officials stepped outside the prison and blamed this carnage on Attica’s prisoners themselves. The ostensibly peaceful protest was really about murdering guards in cold blood, the officials told the assembled press. The prisoners had slit the throats of corrections officers, officials said, and one guard had even been castrated. This lie went out in headlines and on front pages from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times to small-town papers across America. Those who had been rooting for the men in Attica found themselves recoiling in horror. People began questioning not just prisoner rights, but the broader prisoner reform and civil rights movements. When word began circulating of troopers and guards mercilessly torturing the naked and wounded prisoners within minutes of gaining control of the facility, the information was impossible to corroborate.
The way state officials would then cover up what had happened at Attica, and their decision to prosecute 62 prisoners for “riot-related” offenses, would, over time, do incalculable damage to the substantial national public sympathy for prisoners’ rights. Of course, the movement was not crushed immediately. Because broader support for delivering on America’s promises of equality still existed, a great many of the things the men had fought for at Attica would be implemented. This explains how the incarcerated could still get victories like the Estelle v. Gamble ruling.
Ultimately, however, for the American public writ large, pummeled not just by mistruths about Attica but also about protester “violence” across the country in this period, there was no coming back. When Governor Rockefeller chose to end the Attica uprising the way he did, he wanted to show the nation he was as tough on crime as the rest of the Republican Party. To do so, he had to lie that these prisoners hadn’t really wanted better conditions, that they were just violent thugs.
The price of believing him was high. The anti-prisoner fire that state officials lit on the last day of Attica would, over the next five decades, engulf the nation, even as the prison population jumped by almost 800%—numbers unlike any seen in U.S. history.
Today, even many of the most tough-on-crime voters have come to recognize that handling so many social and economic problems via the criminal-justice system has cost this nation dearly. And with that recognition has come the very real possibility of criminal-justice reform. But for at least a decade now, attention has been devoted almost solely to the drivers and consequences of this explosion in America’s prison population, not to the places where mass incarceration is experienced firsthand. And even though the criminal-justice reform movement has managed to move mountains on critically important issues ranging from sentencing reform to drug laws, when it comes to reducing the number of people still in prison in this nation, the needle has barely moved.
But just as 1971 was a moment of possibility, so might 2021 be one as well. When the men at Attica stood up for their rights, it was at a time when others on the outside were doing the same. The moment was ripe for change. And so it is again. Americans today, from jails in St. Louis and prisons in Indiana, to cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis, have begun imagining, indeed demanding, a more just and equal future. In states like New York, thanks to this sort of vision, combined with effort from both the inside and outside, long-term solitary confinement will finally be abolished.
If this nation hopes, this time, to achieve a justice system that is, in fact, just, it must remain ever vigilant for any echo of the lies told at Attica. Had Americans really seen these men’s fates, their lives, their opinions, their expertise and their place in the nation as truly equal to their own, that massacre, the torture, those lies and the criminal-justice crisis that we now live with simply could not have happened. They would not have allowed it.
But that would have been a different world—one in which Americans back then understood that people serving time were what they remain today: our brothers, our mothers, our children. They are us.
Justice – prison – is headed his way!
Excerpts from the Article:
Police in Madrid on Thursday arrested a former Venezuelan spymaster wanted on U.S. narcoterrorism charges, capturing him in a hideout apartment nearly two years after he defied a Spanish extradition order and disappeared.
Gen. Hugo Carvajal, who for over a decade was late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’s eyes and ears in the Venezuelan military, was arrested in the small apartment in which he had been holed up. “He lived totally enclosed, never going outside or getting close to the window, always protected by people he trusted,” Spain’s police said in a statement on social media in which they posted a short video the moment heavily-armed officers put handcuffs on Carvajal.
Spain’s leftist government last year approved Carvajal’s extradition to the U.S., where he faces federal charges for allegedly working with guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to “flood” the U.S. with cocaine.
It’s not clear when Carvajal could be sent to the U.S. But his extradition may be slowed down by an asylum request he previously submitted to Spanish authorities.
First indicted in 2011, he narrowly escaped extradition when he was arrested in Aruba in 2014 while serving as Venezuela’s consul general to the Dutch Caribbean island. President Nicolás Maduro’s government successfully applied pressure on Aruba, which sits just miles off Venezuela’s coast, to release Carvajal and when it did he received a hero’s welcome upon his return to Caracas.
But he was never a confidant of Maduro and in the complicated internal politics of Venezuela’s ruling socialist party was relegated to a minor role as a backbench parliamentarian.
While on the run, both from the DEA and Maduro, Carvajal traveled to the Spanish capital from the Dominican Republic under a disguised identity. He was greeted at Madrid’s airport by two Spanish intelligence officials, the AP has previously reported.
The case against Carvajal in New York centers on a DC-9 jet from Caracas that landed in southern Mexico in 2006 with 5.6 tons of cocaine packed into 128 suitcases. Carvajal said that judicial probes in Venezuela and Mexico never linked him to the incident and that the alleged plane owner backs his alibi.
But he faces incriminating evidence from phone records, drug ledgers and the testimony of at least 10 witnesses, according to an affidavit from a DEA special agent. Those witnesses include members and associates of the “Cartel of the Suns,” former high-ranking Venezuelan officials, according to the affidavit.
The U.S. indictment also repeats an accusation that Carvajal provided Colombian rebels with weapons and protection inside Venezuela.
This lawsuit is right on point, and before any reasonable Supreme Court would result in the Texas law being shot down!
Excerpts from the Article:
The Biden Justice Department sued the state of Texas on Thursday over its new six-week abortion ban, saying the state law is unconstitutional.
Announcing the lawsuit at a news conference in Washington, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Texas law’s “unprecedented” design seeks “to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights by thwarting judicial review for as long as possible. “The act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent” Garland said.
The Texas law was designed specifically with the goal of making it more difficult for clinics to obtain federal court orders blocking enforcement of the law. Instead of creating criminal penalties for abortions conducted after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the Texas Legislature has tasked private citizens with enforcing the law by bringing private litigation against clinics — and anyone else who assists a woman in obtaining an abortion after six weeks.
Garland said, warning that Texas’ approach could become a model for other states as well as other kinds of attack on other constitutional rights.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Austin, alleged that the Texas law is unconstitutional because it conflicts with “the statutory and constitutional responsibilities of the federal government.”
“The United States has the authority and responsibility to ensure that Texas cannot evade its obligations under the Constitution and deprive individuals of their constitutional rights by adopting a statutory scheme designed specifically to evade traditional mechanisms of federal judicial review,” the lawsuit states.
The Justice Department is seeking a declaratory judgment declaring the Texas abortion ban invalid, as well as a “preliminary and permanent injunction against the State of Texas — including all of its officers, employees, and agents, including private parties” who would enforce the abortion ban.
Dozens of lawyers spent the past week working on the best way to try to challenge the law directly. They determined using the federal programs that would be disrupted by the ban presented the best way to establish standing and to try to preempt the law.
Thursday, Garland said the Texas law infringed upon the activities of Labor Department, Defense Department and other federal agencies. Specifically, DOJ said in the lawsuit, the Texas law “exposes federal personnel and grantees to liability for carrying out their federal obligations to provide access to abortion-related services to persons” in the federal government’s care.
The DOJ also argued in the filing that the government has the right to bring the suit against the state because the the US may “vindicate its interest” when a state law “flagrantly infringes the constitutional rights of the public at large.”
The “United States therefore may sue a State to vindicate the rights of individuals when a state infringes on rights protected by the Constitution.” It also cited the so-called “Take Care” Clause of the Constitution, which says that the President has the duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
Reproductive rights group that have already brought their own federal court challenge to the Texas law, only to see that lawsuit stalled by the procedural difficulties the ban presents, cheered the Biden administration’s actions. Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, called the new lawsuit, “welcome news,” and Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, deemed the DOJ’s involvement a “gamechanger.”
Earlier, Texas Right to Life, the anti-abortion group that led the charge in getting the Texas law passed, scoffed at the news that the Department was taking action. Its Vice President Elizabeth Graham said Biden was a “puppet of the radical abortion agenda, and his DOJ will quickly find that they do not have jurisdiction to stop the Texas Heartbeat Act.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office pledged to defend the law and called the DOJ lawsuit a distraction for the White House.
Garland on Monday had also pledged to protect abortion clinics in Texas by enforcing a federal law that prohibits making threats against patients seeking reproductive health services and obstructing clinic entrances.
Prosecutors never should have even brought this to trial; the search warrant was so bad (overly broad) that this was sure to happen!
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware’s Supreme Court has overturned the convictions of a Wilmington street gang member for murder and other crimes because police conducted an unconstitutional search of his cell phone data.
Diamonte Taylor, 23, was sentenced last year to life in prison plus 11 years after being convicted in April 2018 of murder, assault, reckless endangering, aggravated menacing, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and illegal gang participation.
In a ruling Wednesday, the justices overturned Taylor’s convictions. They said the trial judge should have granted a defense motion to suppress all evidence from the search of his cell phones because the search warrant was unconstitutionally broad.
“The Taylor search warrant allowed investigators to conduct an unconstitutional rummaging through all of the contents of Taylor’s smartphones to find whatever they decided might be of interest to their investigation,” Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr. wrote in the court’s opinion.
The warrant allowed investigators to search for “any/all data” that might be “pertinent” to the investigation of various gang-related crimes.
“The free-ranging search for anything ‘pertinent to the investigation’ undermines the essential protections of the Fourth Amendment — that a neutral magistrate approve in advance, based on probable cause, the places to be searched and the parameters of the search,” Seitz wrote. “Although the record is not entirely clear, investigators apparently extracted almost all data from Taylor’s smartphones from an eleven-year time span, and then searched without restriction for evidence of criminal conduct.”
Taylor and a fellow member of the Shoot to Kill gang, Zaahir Smith, were indicted after a series of violent gang-related crimes in May 2016, including the murder of 15-year-old Brandon Wingo. Wingo, an associate of a rival gang called Only My Brothers, was gunned down while walking home from Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington.
Smith was sentenced to 21 years in prison after pleading guilty to robbery, attempted robbery, assault, conspiracy, gang participation and gun charges.
According to court records, authorities used the search warrant to retrieve more than 17,000 data files from one of Taylor’s cell phones.
At trial, prosecuted offered 95 pages from the 4,645-page extraction report of Taylor’s cell phone into evidence. The information introduced included photos of Taylor with the gun linked to Wingo’s murder, text messages, connections to social media posts, and statements by Taylor in which he implied he had killed Wingo. Prosecutors also relied heavily on the testimony of a third gang member who reached a plea deal and agreed to testify against Taylor in return for leniency.
Prosecutors acknowledged on appeal that the search warrant was not as specific as it could have been, but argued that any error in admitting the evidence that was seized from Taylor’s cell phone was harmless because other evidence of his guilt, including Facebook posts, witness testimony and ballistics reports, was “overwhelming.”
The Supreme Court disagreed, noting that Taylor was acquitted on all charges stemming from incidents that were not included in the cell phone extraction report and which involved the armed robbery of two men two weeks before Wingo was killed.
Taylor was convicted, however, of crimes for which prosecutors had introduced evidence from the cell phone extraction report. That evidence include text messages in which Taylor insinuated that he had shot Wingo and another man, and photos showing Taylor wearing a hat matching one visible in the security camera footage of some of the incidents.
“We cannot conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury’s verdict would have been the same without illegally seized smartphone evidence,” Seitz wrote.
The unvaccinated and the mask protestors endanger America. = This Letter was PUBLISHED on p A 30 of The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware’s largest paper, on 9/5/21.
This Letter was PUBLISHED on p A 30 of The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware’s largest paper, on 9/5/21.
The unvaccinated and the mask protestors endanger America.
I fail to understand how so many Americans can be so reckless.
Are they uninformed, or are they transfixed by the QAnon crappola and misinformation which is so omnipresent?
Either way, the unvaccinated and the mask protestors are endangering everyone they encounter. One can be a carrier of the deadly virus, whether or not one has symptoms.
COVID-19 is not a political issue. It is a public health emergency.
Everyone should have the decency to protect his or her neighbor from serious illness or death.
— Ken Abraham, Dover
And PUBLISHED in its entirety in the Delaware State News of 9/8/21 on p A4!…
The unvaccinated and mask protesters endanger lives
I fail to understand how so many Americans can be so reckless!
Are they uninformed or are they transfixed by the QAnon crapola and misinformation, which is so omnipresent?
Either way, those unvaccinated and the mask protesters are endangering everyone they encounter. One can be a carrier of the deadly virus, whether or not one has symptoms.
COVID-19 is not a political issue; it is a health care emergency.
Everyone should at least have the decency to protect his/her neighbor from serious illness or death!
Former prosecutor and founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE Dover
For every such article you can be sure there have been hundreds of similar incidents which were not reported! READ Culture of Cover Up! = http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/culture-cover-prison-abuse/
Excerpts from the Article:
A former nurse at a Delaware correctional facility has been found guilty of two misdemeanor charges in connection with an investigation into the death of an inmate.
Erin Clark-Penland, who worked at the Sussex Correctional Institution, was convicted this week of falsifying business records and providing a false statement to law enforcement after a one-day trial, the News Journal reported.
The Delaware Department of Justice took up the case after an investigation into the death of Tiffany Reeves found discrepancies in Clark-Penland’s statements to law enforcement. The probe found no foul play in the death of the 37-year-old mother of three, which drew national attention.
According to a news release from the state Department of Justice, Clark-Penland told investigators she had seen Reeves the night before Reeves was found dead and entered that claim in medical logs. Video surveillance and witness testimony showed that was untrue, the news release said.
Clark-Penland worked at the facility through a state contract with Connections Community Support Programs, which recently agreed to pay more than $15.3 million to settle federal lawsuits alleging health care fraud and violations of the Controlled Substances Act.
Clark-Penland, who has not yet been sentenced, faces up to two years in prison.
Seven US Capitol Police officers sue former President Trump, Stop the Steal organizers over January 6 riot
And may they win a huge verdict against him!
Excerpts from the Article:
Seven US Capitol Police officers are suing former President Donald Trump, Stop the Steal rally organizers and members of far-right extremist groups, accusing them of spreading lies, using White supremacist sentiments to attempt to overthrow the 2020 election, and ultimately bearing responsibility for the riot that injured more than 140 officers on January 6.
“Plaintiffs and their fellow law enforcement officers risked their lives to defend the Capitol from a violent, mass attack — an attack provoked, aided, and joined by Defendants in an unlawful effort to use force, intimidation, and threats to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 Presidential election,” says the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in US District Court for the District of Columbia.
“Because of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Plaintiffs were violently assaulted, spat on, tear-gassed, bear-sprayed, subjected to racial slurs and epithets, and put in fear for their lives,” the lawsuit says. “Plaintiffs’ injuries, which Defendants caused, persist to this day.”
The new lawsuit is the latest in a string of legal actions against the former President designed to hold him liable for the deadly US Capitol insurrection.
The 71-page lawsuit also alleges the defendants spread false claims of election fraud and “incited violence against members of Congress and the law enforcement officers whose job it was to protect them.”
Among the defendants are alleged members of the far-right extremist groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, who are now facing criminal charges for their alleged roles in the riot.
Last month, police officers who defended the Capitol on January 6 testified during a hearing before the House select committee investigating the events of that day. Their accounts made clear that they are still dealing with physical and mental trauma from the attack.
Earlier this year, two US Capitol Police officers sued Trump for inciting the crowd and said they suffered physical and emotional damages because he allegedly “inflamed, encouraged, incited (and) directed” the mob that stormed the Capitol. Democratic lawmakers, including former House impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, have also sued Trump and his associates over the attack.
Thursday’s lawsuit comes a few days after the US Capitol Police’s Office of Professional Responsibility determined the USCP officer who shot and killed pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt on January 6 will not face any disciplinary action.