Category: Civil Rights

Undercover NYPD officers infiltrated and surveilled Black Live Matters protests in 2014 and 2015 – Salon.com

After a grand jury decided against indicting the officers involved in the death of Eric Garner, undercover New York Police Department officers infiltrated the ensuing protests organized by Black Lives Matter at Grand Central Terminal. Court documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that officers posed as protestors and even gained the confidence of organizers so that they could access the group’s private text messages.

The documents contained emails between undercover officers and other NYPD officials, the Guardian reported, in addition to surveillance photos. The undercover officers apparently had substantial access to the protestors’ plans and whereabouts. In one email, an NYPD official confirmed that an undercover officer had been successfully embedded within a group at the station — the site of numerous protests following Garner’s death.

Tent City, infamous home of inmates who wear pink underwear and major piece of Arpaio’s legacy, is closing

Tent City, Maricopa County’s open-air jail notorious for hosting inmates wearing pink underwear in the blistering summer heat, will shut down, according to Sheriff Paul Penzone.

Penzone made the announcement Tuesday based on the recommendation of an advisory committee that he appointed after taking office in January.

The tents served as a prominent symbol of Penzone’s predecessor, Joe Arpaio, who erected the facility in 1993, his first year in office, and held it up as an inexpensive solution to overcrowded jails. Penzone defeated Arpaio in last year’s general election, ending his 24-year span as sheriff.

At an afternoon press conference Tuesday, Penzone said Tent City has become the preferred location for inmates and a liability for understaffed detention officers. Shuttering the facility will save the county approximately $4.5 million a year, he said.

Trump’s Defence Secretary urged to overturn appointment of ‘ungodly’ lesbian Air Force chief · PinkNews

An extreme conservative group founded by Alabama’s former Chief Justice has attacked the nomination of an “ungodly” lesbian to head the US Air Force Academy.
It was announced last week that Col. Kristin Goodwin, who has a wife and two kids, has been named as commandant of the US Air Force Academy.
Her nomination as Brigadier General and appointment to the role did not attract a wide amount of controversy – but anti-LGBT activists are now demanding Trump’s Defence Secretary James Mattis reverse the decision.
In a letter to Mattis, the Foundation for Moral Law – founded by Alabama’s disgraced Chief Justice Roy Moore – claimed Col. Goodwin should not be allowed to take the role because she “does not set a proper moral example for youth.”

Chris Hedges: A Last Chance for Resistance – Chris Hedges – Truthdig

There are three institutions tasked in a functioning democracy with protecting the truth and keeping national discourse rooted in verifiable fact—the courts, the press and universities. Despots must control these three to prevent them from exposing their lies and restricting their power. Trump has not only attacked the courts but has also begun purges of the judiciary with his mass firing of U.S. attorneys. The Trump White House plans to fill 124 judgeships—including 19 vacancies on federal appeals courts—with corporatist lawyers such as Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch who are endorsed by the reactionary Federalist Society. By the time Trump’s four-year term is up, Federalist Society judges could be in as many as half of the country’s appellate seats.

Trump has continued to attempt to discredit the press. During his rally in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, he told the crowd, “Some of the fake news said I don’t think Donald Trump wants to build the wall. Can you imagine if I said we’re not going to build a wall? Fake news. Fake, fake news. Fake news, folks. A lot of fake.” He went on to say in an apparent reference to the reporters covering the rally, “They’re bad people.”

The attacks on universities, which will be accelerated, are on display in the budget proposal. The Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Education, the Commerce Department, the National Institutes of Health, the Energy Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs all give grants and research money to universities. Colorado State University, for example, gets about 70 percent, or $232 million, of its research budget from federal sources. In February, Trump suggested he might attempt to cut federal funding for universities such as UC Berkeley. His comment was made after a riot at the California school forced the cancellation of a speech there by the far-right ideologue Milo Yiannopoulos, who has called Trump “Daddy.” A university will of course be able to get corporate funding for research if it casts doubt on the importance of climate change or does research that can be used to swell corporate profits or promote other business interests. Scientific study into our ecocide and the dangers from chemicals, toxins and pollutants released by corporations into the atmosphere will be thwarted. And the withering of humanities programs, already suffering in many universities, will worsen.

It will be increasingly difficult to carry out mass protests and civil disobedience. Repression will become steadily more overt and severe. Dissent will be equated with terrorism. We must use the space before it is shut. This is a race against time. The forces of despotism seek to keep us complacent and pacified with the false hope that mechanisms within the system will moderate Trump or remove him through impeachment, or that the looming tyranny will never be actualized. There is an emotional incapacity among any population being herded toward despotism or war to grasp what is happening. The victims cannot believe that the descent into barbarity is real, that the relative security and sanity of the past are about to be obliterated. They fail to see that once rights become privileges, once any segment of a society is excluded from the law, rights can instantly be revoked for everyone.

There is a hierarchy to oppression. It begins with the most vulnerable—undocumented workers, Muslims, poor people of color. It works upward. It is a long row of candles that one by one are extinguished. If we wait to resist, as the poet C.P. Cavafy wrote, the “dark line gets longer” and “the snuffed-out candles proliferate.”

Jeff Sessions is not likely to stop the police war on minorities and the poor

If you have money, or affluence, or fame, your issues get addressed. If you’re poor and nameless—they don’t. There are a great many factors driving violence in places like South Chicago. There’s a lack of jobs, gangs, guns, despair, hopelessness, poverty, as well as police indifference and corruption. Where there’s money, problems get solved—but time and time again the poor pay a price which they can scarcely afford.

Exactly what Sessions or Trump will do to help this problem in any effective way remains unclear. Both of them seem more than willing to fear-monger over the issue, using completely faulty facts and data at the drop of a hat, rather than work to construct any meaningful solutions.

Could your company force you to share genetic information? – CNN.com

(CNN)While Republicans are pushing to drop the requirement of Obamacare that compels Americans to get insurance, another move in a separate bill could compel employees to participate in workplace wellness programs that collect their and their families’ health and genetic data.

The controversial bill is called the Preserving Employee Wellness Program Act, introduced in the House on March 2 by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina.
The bill would allow employers to penalize employees if they don’t join workplace wellness programs that collect this kind of data.

The most intriguing idea in House Republicans’ bill to gut class actions | Reuters

Most of the proposed procedural rule changes in Representative Bob Goodlatte’s “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017,” introduced last week in the House of Representatives, are directly traceable to the business lobby’s anti-class-action talking points. Goodlatte – a Virginia Republican and chair of the House Judiciary Committee – has significantly expanded the changes he proposed last year in a similarly named bill that was approved in the House but died in the Senate. If Congress adopts Goodlatte’s bill in anything like its current form, class actions and MDLs will be a shadow of what we know today.

The bill would limit class certification to class actions in which plaintiffs all “suffered the same type and scope of injury” and would bar certification unless courts can ascertain class membership and assure that only injured plaintiffs recover. Class action lawyers would not be able to sue on behalf of relatives and employees – or any other client with whom they have an ongoing contractual or attorney-client relationship. Class certification decisions would be automatically appealable. Attorneys’ fees in class actions resolved through injunctions would be limited to a percentage of the “value of the equitable relief.”