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Cress Welsing: The Definition of Racism White Supremacy

Dr. Blynd: The Definition of Racism

Anon: What is Racism/White Supremacy?

Dr. Bobby Wright: The Psychopathic Racial Personality

The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy)

What is the First Step in Counter Racism?

Genocide: a system of white survival

The Creation of the Negro

The Mysteries of Melanin

'Racism is a behavioral system for survival'

Fear of annihilation drives white racism

Dr. Blynd: The Definition of Caucasian

Where are all the Black Jurors? 

The War Against Black Males: Black on Black Violence Caused by White Supremacy/Racism

Brazen Police Officers and the Forfeiture of Freedom

White Domination, Black Criminality

Fear of a Colored Planet Fuels Racism: Global White Population Shrinking, Less than 10%

Race is Not Real but Racism is

The True Size of Africa

What is a Nigger? 

MLK and Imaginary Freedom: Chains, Plantations, Segregation, No Longer Necessary ['Our Condition is Getting Worse']

Chomsky on "Reserving the Right to Bomb Niggers." 

A Goal of the Media is to Make White Dominance and Control Over Everything Seem Natural

"TV is reversing the evolution of the human brain." Propaganda: How You Are Being Mind Controlled And Don't Know It.

Spike Lee's Mike Tyson and Don King

"Zapsters" - Keeping what real? "Non-white People are Actors. The Most Unrealistic People on the Planet"

Black Power in a White Supremacy System

Neely Fuller Jr.: "If you don't understand racism/white supremacy, everything else that you think you understand will only confuse you"

The Image and the Christian Concept of God as a White Man

'In order for this system to work, We have to feel most free and independent when we are most enslaved, in fact we have to take our enslavement as the ultimate sign of freedom'

Why do White Americans need to criminalize significant segments of the African American population?

Who Told You that you were Black or Latino or Hispanic or Asian? White People Did

Malcolm X: "We Have a Common Enemy"


Deeper than Atlantis

Proxymoronic Republican Congressman says 'poor people don't want health care'

From [HERE] A first-term Republican Congressman answered a journalist’s question about Medicaid expansion by answering that the poor “just don’t want health care.” Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS) told STAT, a national health news publication, “There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”

The research doesn’t support Marshall’s claim that low-income people “morally, spiritually, socially,” don’t want access to preventive medicine.

Research shows that people in Medicaid both have access to and use primary and preventive care at rates similar to people with employer-sponsored insurance. We also know that people with Medicaid are more likely to access health care than those without coverage. A study of Oregon’s Medicaid program showed that people with Medicaid were more likely to have a regular primary care office or clinic and use preventive care. Medicaid also substantially reduced the prevalence of depression. Studies also show that Medicaid helps patients with chronic diseases receive care that prevents their condition from worsening, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s brief on the effectiveness of Medicaid.

Thirty-one states and the district of Columbia have expanded Medicaid. Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has also positively affected low-income people’s financial security, the affordability of health care, and access to care, most research shows.

That doesn’t mean that Medicaid could not improve for people in many states or that there are no longer barriers for low-income people to access health care, however. Gaps in access to health care between low-income and high-income adults were higher in states with limited Medicaid coverage, according to a 2008 study. Low-income people also had better access to preventive services in states with broader Medicaid coverage.

There are also barriers to care outside of Medicaid for low-income people to contend with, such as lack of transportation and the distribution of the health care workforce, according to KFF. Health policy experts say that the current system does not offer specific compensation for health care providers for preventive services and that there is more the Center for Medicare and Medicaid could do to invest in community-based interventions that focus on preventive care.

Marshall’s comment was one of multiple tone-deaf comments about health care access made by House Republicans this week. On Tuesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said that under Trumpcare, Americans would have to make a choice between buying an iPhone and making sure they see a doctor. Since the plan doesn’t have a mandate, and would result in an increase in premiums — one insurance company CEO said they could rise by 30 percent — his comments appear to be directed at low-income Americans, who would suffer most under the plan.


America Ferrera: When Trump Says "America First" He is Not Including Me & My People Democracy Now! 


Inmates Involved in Vaughn Prison Rebellion Denied Medical Treatment


America's Racist Deportation Machine Unleashed


Planet Will Burn Before Corporate Media Covers Climate Change as Existential Threat


Native Americans rally against Dakota Access Pipeline in Washington


ACLU Files Class Action Over SoCal Immigrant Detentions

Courthouse News

San Diego’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class action lawsuit in federal court claiming immigrants being held in local detention centers for months on end are denied their due process rights.

According to the ACLU, the long detentions result from delays in initial immigration hearings.

The civil rights group also claims the Department of Homeland Security violates the Fourth Amendment with its pattern and practice of detaining people without seeking judicial review of probable cause promptly after the arrest.

Bardis Vakili, senior staff attorney with the San Diego ACLU, called the lengthy detentions “medieval polices.”

“Physical liberty is a bedrock right protected by the Constitution,” he said in a statement. “It cannot be taken away with no judicial oversight. This level of disregard for basic constitutional safeguards is reminiscent of our government’s decision to open internment camps during World War II.  It’s an injustice that threatens to leave a similar scar on a new generation of American families.”

Three immigrants currently detained in the Southern District of California are spearheading the case, which was filed Thursday. The class representatives include an 18-year-old high school senior who is eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program; a mother of two U.S. citizens who has lived in the U.S. for years; and a man who claims to be a U.S. citizen.

The detainees wear color-coded prison uniforms and are confined to a “pod” or “unit” of 60 to 80 other people. They are allowed daily limited “yard” time in a concrete patio enclosed by concrete walls at least 20 feet high, according to the 26-page complaint.

Immigrants detained in the Southern District are held at two detention centers operated by Immigrations and Custom Enforcement: the Otay Detention Facility and the Imperial Regional Detention Facility. On any given day, the two facilities confine about 1,500 immigrants, according to the ACLU.

The ACLU says DHS does not take into proper consideration the immigration court’s ability to commence and process cases promptly. It takes no responsibility for presenting detainees to the court in a timely manner or for the fact that cases involving detained persons must proceed on an expedited docket.

The initial appearance is vital for detainees to get access to information related to their cases, and it is the first time they can request a bond hearing, which, if granted, must be scheduled at the earliest possible date.

The first hearing also gives unrepresented detainees the opportunity to add their names to a list that is handed out to pro bono legal organizations.

In addition, ICE attorneys and immigration judges interact with detainees for the first time at these initial appearances, which can reveal if an immigrant has mental health issues that require special accommodations.

Delaying a detained immigrant’s initial court appearance brings with it the “significant” risk of an erroneous detention, the ACLU claims. Timely hearings would reduce this risk.

The ACLU seeks declaratory, injunctive and habeas corpus relief to prevent immigration authorities from detaining people for an “unreasonable period” while they await a court hearing.


Federal appeals court rules Native American tribe has groundwater rights in CA Reservation


A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Tuesday affirmed [opinion, PDF] a lower court ruling that the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians [official website] has federally established rights to groundwater in the Coachella Valley reservation in California. This litigation proceeded in three phases in the trial court, but the Ninth Circuit panel considered only Phase I on appeal, which raised the issue "whether the Tribe has a federal reserved right to the groundwater underlying its reservation." The lower federal court granted a partial summary judgment motion in favor of the Agua Caliente Tribe stating that the US impliedly reserved appurtenant water sources, including groundwater, when it created the tribe's reservation in the Coachella Valley. The appellate panel agreed, holding that state water rights are preempted by federal reserved rights. In so holding, the panel acknowledged that "there is no controlling federal appellate authority addressing whether the reserved rights doctrine applies to groundwater." The panel also stated that it is irrelevant whether the tribe historically accessed groundwater and rejected any attempts to distinguish between surface water and ground water stating that the doctrine established by the Supreme Court in Winters v. United States [opinion] does not allow for such distinction. The panel also held that the tribe's entitlement to state water does not subrograte or otherwise affect its federally reserved water rights. In reaching this decision, the panel refused to speculate "how much water falls within the scope of the Tribe's federal groundwater right," but stated that "there can be no question that water in some amount was necessarily reserved to support the reservation created."

Contention about Native American rights and tribal sovereignty has long been prevalent within the US, with 562 federally recognized Native American tribes enjoying a degree of autonomy from federal and state governments. On Tuesday a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] against Native American Tribes seeking to stop construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) [fact sheet]. Judge James Boasberg of the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] rejected the arguments of the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Souix [official websites] Tribes that construction of the pipeline would prevent the Tribe from practicing religious ceremonies. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [official website], Victoria Tauli-Corpuz on Friday called [JURIST report] for the US to adopt a consistent approach to indigenous land rights in pipeline projects. The Special Rapporteur was concerned [transcript] about how indigenous peoples were not fully consulted on the DAPL, leaving them with disruptions to their land. Protesters had made camp at the site since early summer and were led in part by the Indigenous Environmental Network [advocacy website] and the Standing Rock Sioux. Conflict between protesters and police has been condemned by both the UN and the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website]. In November the ACLU reported that police at the Standing Rock site in North Dakota used life-threatening weapons [JURIST report] to control protesters. Earlier that month a UN rights group released a statement expressing concerns that the US government is ignoring treaty rights, as well as human rights [JURIST report] of Native Americans and others that are protesting the DAPL. In the face of these events concerning the DAPL, this Agua Caliente ruling is seen as a positive development, and a landmark ruling.


Virginia Senate bill to limit governor’s power to restore voting rights blocked in the House


A House of Delegates committee recently blocked a proposal by Sen. Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, which would have limited the governor’s ability to restore voting rights to persons with a felony conviction. Sen. Norment’s bill, which narrowly passed the Senate, would have allowed the legislature to set criteria for felony offenses that would be eligible for rights restoration. In addition, it would have required individuals to pay all fines and fees associated with their convictions before having their rights restored, and would have imposed a five-year waiting period for people convicted of violent offenses.

Sen. Norment’s proposal came in response to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s attempt to use his executive power to restore voting rights to an estimated 200,000 Virginians en masse last year. Sen. Norment said that his proposal was trying to create a consistent process for restoring voting rights. However, Senate Democrats argued that the legislation was comparable to previous racist attempts during the early 20th century, when the state used felony disenfranchisement laws as an overt way to stop blacks from voting.


Florida House bill would automatically restore voting rights after three years

Sentencing project

Rep. Al Jacquet, D-Lantana, has filed a House bill to amend the state Constitution and automatically restore voting rights to Floridians with felony convictions three years after they have completed their sentence. If passed, the constitutional amendment would be placed on the next general election ballot.

Florida is one of only four states in the nation – along with Virginia, Iowa and Kentucky – to disenfranchise all individuals with felony convictions for life. The only means of regaining voting rights in these states is through action by a governor or pardons board. In Florida, the governor and cabinet meet only four times a year to hear petitions for rights restoration.

A proposed constitutional amendment by Floridians for a Fair Democracy goes further than Rep. Jacquet’s bill, and calls for automatic restoration of voting rights upon full completion of an individual’s sentence. The Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the group’s ballot proposal in March.


Dummy Trump asks U.S. Attorneys to resign after Hannity calls for ‘purge’ of ‘Obama holdovers’


On Friday afternoon, Attorney General Jeff Sessions “abruptly” asked for the resignations of all 46 remaining U.S. Attorneys at the Justice Department appointed during the Obama administration. Career prosecutors will oversee cases until the Trump administration begins nominating new U.S. Attorneys to take their place.

While this action is not unprecedented — Sessions himself was asked to resign as U.S. Attorney in 1993 by the Clinton administration — both George W. Bush and Barack Obama gradually eased prosecutors out of their appointments as they sought replacements, to preserve continuity.

“In January, I met with Vice President Pence and White House Counsel Donald McGahn and asked specifically whether all U.S. attorneys would be fired at once,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in a statement. “Mr. McGahn told me that the transition would be done in an orderly fashion to preserve continuity. Clearly this is not the case. I’m very concerned about the effect of this sudden and unexpected decision on federal law enforcement.”

The Trump administration indicated they would follow suit, but reversed course without warning. In fact, on a Thursday conference call with U.S. Attorneys, Sessions wished them “happy hunting!” with no indication that they would all be asked to resign the next day by midnight.

Trump’s conservative allies have increasingly called for him to rid the government bureaucracy of “enemies” they believe are secretly undermining his administration. In fact, on Sean Hannity’s Thursday evening show, he warned of “deep-state Obama holdovers embedded like barnacles in the federal bureaucracy” saying they are “hell-bent on destroying President Trump.” Hannity said “it’s time for the Trump administration to purge these saboteurs.”

The day before, Hannity pushed the theory that the CIA actually hacked Democrats’ emails during the election and framed Russia for it. Hannity has been giving Trump dozens of fawning interviews for years. He’s a big fan of the president, and Trump returns the favor, talking up and reportedly watching his show regularly.

How Sean Hannity Managed To Interview Trump 41 Times And Never Once Made News

Many U.S. Attorneys nominated by the Obama administration had already resigned, which is usual when the White House changes parties. But acting deputy attorney general Dana Boente called the remaining prosecutors to ask for their resignations. A White House official reportedly said Trump has not accepted the resignation of Boente, also the U.S. Attorney for the Easter District of Virginia; after acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired by Trump in January’s “Monday night massacre” for not complying with enforcing the Muslim ban, Trump made Boente acting Attorney General.

That was the first time a president had fired an attorney general since Richard Nixon. The Trump administration also broke with precedent when it refused to extend the nation’s ambassadors the usual courtesy of staying at their posts a few weeks beyond Inauguration Day.

“The Attorney General has now asked the remaining 46 presidentially appointed U.S. attorneys to tender their resignations in order to ensure a uniform transition,” agency spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement on Friday.

The acting Attorney General stood up for the Constitution. So Trump fired her.

Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the state of New York with jurisdiction over Wall Street and the New York-based Trump organization, has been lauded by leaders on both sides of the aisle. Bharara stayed on the job after Trump won the election because Trump asked him to during a meeting in November. It was not initially clear whether Bharara had tendered his resignation like other U.S. Attorneys, or whether Trump would accept it if offered.

However on Saturday afternoon, CNN reported that sources confirmed Bharara would not resign as requested. A couple hours later, Bharara confirmed in a tweet that he had in fact been fired. [MORE]


[your gov does not serve you] Software results in mistaken arrests, jail time? No fix needed, says judge


A local judge has ruled against the Alameda County Public Defender’s demands to revise, and possibly even halt, usage of a flawed case management software that is in use here and in many other counties nationwide. 

As Ars reported in December 2016, the Alameda County Superior Court switched from a decades-old courtroom management software to a much more modern one on August 1, 2016. Known as Odyssey Court Manager, the new management software is made by Tyler Technologies.

However, since then, the public defender’s office has filed approximately 2,000 motions informing the court that, due to its reportedly imperfect software, many of its clients have been forced to serve unnecessary jail time, be improperly arrested, or even wrongly registered as sex offenders. As recently as this month, the Portland Press Herald reported that courts in Maine had recently hired Tyler amidst similar complaints nationwide.

In a 13-page ruling issued last week, which Ars was only made aware of on Thursday, Judge Morris Jacobson denied the public defender’s office's insistence that the court provide accurate records within 24 hours and accurately mark, by the end of the business day, whether someone should be arrested. If the court was unable to meet those requirements, Public Defender Brendon Woods argued, it should halt its use of Odyssey entirely and return to its old system.

Judge Jacobson noted that while a state law mandates that such court records be kept "forthwith," it does not specify that such records be processed within 24 hours but, rather, within an unspecified "reasonable" time.

As he wrote:

There is no authority to support the Public Defender’s demand that clerks input data related to court proceedings into case management systems used by other criminal justice agencies by the end of the business day or within 24 hours. However, as illustrated below, the court recognizes that clerks working in criminal departments have certain time-sensitive duties as it relates to the reporting and transmission of criminal case information to other criminal justice agencies. Significantly, none of the reporting requirements establish an end of business day or 24 hour deadline for the transmittal of such information.

Although the court recognizes that Odyssey has resulted in unlawful arrests and searches, clerical errors that affect a defendant's Fourth Amendment right to privacy will occur regardless of the case management system used by the court.

On Thursday afternoon, Woods told Ars that as soon as next week, his office would be proceeding on two legal fronts, including an appeal of the March 3 ruling.

"One is challenging the court’s decision, and one is an original writ of mandate, basically where we’re suing the court, and asking for injunctive relief," he said.

On Thursday afternoon, Woods told Ars that as soon as next week, his office would be proceeding on two legal fronts, including an appeal of the March 3 ruling.

"One is challenging the court’s decision, and one is an original writ of mandate, basically where we’re suing the court, and asking for injunctive relief," he said.

Alameda County Court Executive Officer Chad Finke, who oversaw the court’s transition to Odyssey, declined to respond to the specifics of the judge’s ruling but told Ars that instances of people being wrongly arrested "have largely been resolved, or possibly entirely been resolved."


Woods disputed the assessment that the problem had been "resolved" but acknowledged that the situation was improving. "I think [problems] have been reduced, but they are still occurring," he said. "And they are occurring at a higher rate than they did prior to Odyssey. It’s not as bad as it was the first three or four months when it started, but it’s still occurring."

Finke noted that due to budgetary constraints, the county is stuck with this new software, despite its admitted flaws. "I don't think there's been any significant change to the software, but operationally we have figured out ways to deploy our staff and prioritize their work," he said. "We have created a triage model, so that any information pertaining to warrants or incarceration is ultra high priority, and we're now developing backlogs in other places, which is fine—ideally we wouldn't have any backlog in data entry."

The court executive also noted that other counties have been able to alleviate similar problems simply by hiring more staff, but that is not possible for Alameda. "I think if that was an option for us, which it's not, we would explore that," Finke said. "I don't think the software is a great fit for our court."

Public Defender Woods also reiterated his call for Tyler Technologies to help. "I do put some sort of onus on Tyler to help fix it, and not just lip service," he said. "Not just technical support via a phone call, we need to get a bunch of bodies down here to fix it."


Thieves in the Night, House GOP advanced Trumpcare at 4:30 in the morning


House Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace Obamacare took its first step forward in Congress early Thursday morning, as the House Ways and Means Committee advanced the legislation at 4:30 a.m.

After nearly 18 hours of debate during which Democratic lawmakers tried to slow down the process, the committee voted 23–16 in favor of the bill.

Leaders of the Republican Party unveiled their plan to undo Obamacare on Monday evening. Now, they’re trying to fast-track the legislation through Congress despite considerable controversy surrounding the bill — which will leave millions more people uninsured, raise costs for low-income Americans, provide tax giveaways to insurance CEOs, and potentially trigger a death spiral in the individual insurance market.

Two key committees worked through the night after beginning their markups of the bill on Wednesday morning. The Ways and Means Committee was the first to wrap up. Around 8:00 a.m., the Energy and Commerce Committee was still working — almost 24 hours after it started.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) celebrated the early morning advancement of the bill, thanking his colleagues for “their hard work and commitment to delivering on the President’s promise” to provide quality health care to all Americans.

In reality, House Republicans’ proposal breaks almost every health care promise that Trump made on the campaign trail. Rather than providing “great health care for a fraction of the price,” as Trump repeatedly pledged, the plan is projected to strip coverage from millions of Americans and provide far less financial assistance to low-income Americans.

Democrats on the committee criticized their Republicans colleagues for moving on the bill in the middle of the night.

“Here were are at almost 2 o’clock in the morning taking a vote when the American people have gone to sleep,” the leading Democrat on the committee, Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), said. [MORE]


40% of households in Philadelphia can't pay their water bill

Boing Boing

America is in the midst of an "invisible water crisis" as the post-war water infrastructure reaches the end of its duty-cycle and cash-strapped public utilities struggle to find the money to rebuild it. In cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, and Detroit, families increasingly find themselves in water debt, and in Detroit, 50,000 households have had their running water cut off because of delinquency.

The estimated bill for upgrading the end-of-lifed American urban water infrastructure is $1 trillion. Cities that have tried privatization as a means of pushing the bill onto investors have been shocked by the bills: in Atlanta, the private water provider charges $325.52 a month, which only qualifies as "affordable" if your household income tops $87K. 

For people already living in poverty — 40 percent of the population in Detroit — any increase in a water cost will strain a family’s finances, said Randy Block, director of the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network. He and others in the faith community are trying to raise money to help needy residents pay for water. He thinks water should be recognized as a human right in Michigan just as the United Nations General Assembly defined it in 2010. He likened the city shutting off water for delinquent customers to a war on poverty, and he believes similar skirmishes will play out across the country as income inequality grows.

“Detroit is the canary in a coal mine,” Block said.

Mark Fancher, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, said unaffordable water has been a “pretty massive problem” in Detroit for 10–15 years. The practical result of shut-offs, he said, is residents relocating. While there are hardship extensions for residents who have fallen behind on their bills but are also suffering from a serious medical condition, according to Fancher, the system could be a lot better: Residents often don’t know about it, or their applications are denied. Other times, they might receive bills for water they didn’t use or not get the bills at all, he said.

“The argument has been made that an affordability plan for the city of Detroit would be a really helpful thing for the struggling utility,” Fancher said. “Because even though people who take advantage of it may not be paying full market rate for water, they’ll be paying more than nothing, which will at least bring in some significant amount of money that right now they’re not getting at all.”

America’s Hidden Water Affordability Crisis [Ciara O’Rourke/Naked Capitalism]


Federal judge rejects request to temporarily stop construction of Dakota Access Pipeline

From [HERE] A federal judge has denied a motion brought by the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes seeking a preliminary injunction against an easement needed to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote in a court filing Tuesday that the tribe had waited too long to raise the religious concerns upon which the motion was based.

"At this point ... the [Army] Corps has granted the permits and easement, and DAPL's construction under Lake Oahe is days from completion," Boasberg wrote. "Rerouting the pipeline around Lake Oahe would be more costly and complicated than it would have been months or years ago, as doing so now requires not simply changing plans but abandoning part of a near-complete project and redoing the construction elsewhere."

The tribes and a number of environmental groups oppose the pipeline under construction by Energy Transfer Partners, in part, because they say it could pose a threat to their drinking water supply. The fight against the pipeline led to a months-long protest camp that drew opponents of the project from around the country.

The Army Corps of Engineers granted an easement clearing the way for the pipeline to run under Lake Oahe on Feb. 7. The motion that sought to block the easement argued "the mere existence of a crude oil pipeline under the waters of Lake Oahe [would] desecrate those waters," leaving them unsuitable for the tribe's religious ceremonies.

Leaders of the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux — the two tribes party to the motion — described the ruling as preliminary and said it did not hurt their larger effort to block construction of the pipeline on land they consider sacred. Two additional challenges to the easement that the tribes' lawyers consider grounds for summary judgement are waiting in the wings, though they will likely not be heard until April.

"Today's ruling does not hurt the strength of our legal arguments challenging the illegal easement approved by the Trump administration," Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said in a statement. "While this preliminary ruling is disappointing, it's not surprising. It is very difficult to get an injunction in a case like this. The bigger legal battle is ahead — we stand strong."

Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline's principle parent company, could not immediately be reached for comment, but a weekly status report filed Monday by the company building the pipeline, Dakota Access, LLC, said it anticipated this portion of the pipeline will be ready to transport oil within the next two weeks.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has issued other challenges to the easement on different grounds.

In February, attorneys for the tribe said in court documents that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had committed to a full environmental impact statement and went back on its commitment after President Donald Trump issued a memorandum directing the Corps to "review and approve in an expedited manner" any approvals, easements or permits needed to complete the pipeline's construction.

They argue that because an environmental impact statement was never completed, the easement is illegal. Further, the tribe says its treaties must be considered before a permit is issued by a government agency.

"The Trump administration's issuance of the easement violates both of these legal requirements. If the pipeline goes into operation before then, it should not affect the legal proceeding," Jan Hasselman, one of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's attorneys, said in a statement. "If the judge rules that the permits are illegal, he can shut the pipeline operation down." 


Pressure Mounts Against Bail System that Holds Poor People in Houston Jail


The CEO, district attorney and sheriff of Harris County, Texas, all agree its bail system needs to be reformed, siding with a federal class action that’s pushing to keep poor people accused of petty crimes out of its jail.

Harris County DA Kim Ogg, a Democrat, took office in January following a campaign in which she promised to focus tax dollars on prosecuting violent criminals instead of low-level offenders, especially marijuana possession cases.

Early this month, she rolled out at a diversion program in which people caught with less than four ounces of marijuana can take a four-hour drug education class to avoid being charged.

She estimates the program will keep 10,000 people annually out of Harris County Jail, which has been plagued in recent years by overcrowding that critics say is partly to blame for the deaths of 55 people in pretrial custody from 2009 to 2015.

The average jail population in January was 9,059 inmates, and an average of 6,920, or 76 percent, were awaiting adjudication of their cases, according to a county report.

Harris County, its sheriff, its 16 criminal court judges and five magistrate judges are facing a federal class action, accusing them of unconstitutionally jailing misdemeanor defendants solely because they can’t pay bail, which the plaintiffs argue violates their Eighth Amendment rights against excessive bail and 14th Amendment equal protection rights.

On Friday, Ogg joined a growing chorus of Harris County and Texas officials, some of whom are defendants in the case, who believe the county’s bail system should be reformed to grant more low-level defendants no-fee bonds, also called personal recognizance bonds.

“Holding unadjudicated misdemeanor offenders in the Harris County Jail solely because they lack the money or other means of posting bail is counterproductive to the goal of seeing that justice is done. We do not want to be complicit in a system that incentivizes presumptively innocent people to plead guilty merely to expedite their release from custody,” Ogg wrote Friday in an amicus brief for case.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett – who is the county’s CEO, not a judicial officer – said at a recent county commissioners meeting, “I don’t think anybody in Harris County should stay in jail just because they can’t afford to pay bail.”

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who replaced his predecessor Ron Hickman as a defendant in the lawsuit when he took office in January, and will testify in the case, stated in an affidavit, “I believe that the current operation of the money bail system, including the sheriff’s active participation in that system, violates the United States Constitution.”

Texas State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, who has held that office since 1983 and chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said in a joint letter also signed by Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis in February, “It is our position that the Harris County bail system blatantly violates the rights and freedoms protected under the U.S. Constitution by creating one system of justice for the wealthy and an unjust one for the poor.”

Harris County Criminal Judge Darrell Jordan, an African-American and former defense attorney, is also a defendant in the class action. The county assigned him his own defense attorney for the federal lawsuit due to his practice of not using the bail schedule approved by the county’s criminal judges that sets bail fees based on the charges.

“Judge Jordan believes the current bail bond system is broken and needs reform,” he wrote Monday in a response to the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, asking that he be excluded from any injunction.

Harris County is implementing reforms, but doesn’t believe its current bail system is unconstitutional. The county asked U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal to stay the case until after July 1 when it plans to implement a risk assessment tool to rate defendants on their eligibility for no-fee bonds without pretrial services having to interview them.

Rosenthal denied the stay motion, unwilling to put off the claims of the plaintiffs, who argue that every day hundreds of people are held in Harris County Jail only because they are poor. They say a preliminary injunction would prevent arrestees from getting booked into jail, possibly losing their jobs or pleading guilty to crimes they didn’t commit to be released sooner than if they had asked for a jury trial.

About 8.5 percent of misdemeanor arrestees were granted no-fee bonds when the class action was filed in May 2016, and that has increased to about 12 percent now, according to the county.

The county’s latest, and perhaps most substantial, reform measure was introduced last week, when its commissioners approved a pilot program for public defenders to advise misdemeanor defendants at probable cause hearings overseen by magistrates.

The program is set to launch July 1, the same day as the new risk-assessment tool.

Defendants currently do not get representation at the probable cause hearings and are often told not to talk by the magistrates to avoid incriminating themselves.

“This is a huge step for Harris County to have that public defender at the initial bail hearing and have access to the same information that the prosecutor has, this will put Harris County at the forefront of a nationwide trend. Harris County will be, along with El Paso County, one of only two in Texas that provide this service,” Harris County managing attorney Melissa Spinks told Judge Rosenthal on Monday, the first day of a preliminary injunction hearing.

“It has taken time but we’re very close to achieving what we believe is the gold standard in pretrial procedures,” Spinks said, adding that the county is increasing its use of “early presentments” at city jails and outlying county lockups, so misdemeanor defendants can bond out there before they are transported to the Harris County Jail in downtown Houston.

About three months after lead plaintiff Maranda ODonnell filed the class action, the county’s 16 criminal judges changed the “County Rules of Court” to make no-fee bonds “favored” for 12 misdemeanor charges, including public intoxication, prostitution and possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Harris County also recently hired two more magistrate hearing officers and revamped its pretrial-services form to collect more financial data about misdemeanor defendants earlier in the post-arrest process.

But ODonnell claims in court filings that the judges’ customs are too ingrained and that even after the August policy change, they continued to force magistrates to set predetermined bond amounts for people arrested on those 12 charges.

Changes can’t come soon enough for Harris County taxpayers, who will pick up the more than $1.2 million – and growing – tab that the county has paid private attorneys to fight the lawsuit.

One of ODonnell’s attorneys, Neal Manne with Susman Godfrey in Houston, told Rosenthal at Monday’s hearing that he’s concerned how the county’s new risk-assessment tool will be used because it already uses a similar tool that ranks people as more at risk of not appearing for future court hearings if they are poor.

Another named plaintiff, Robert Ryan Ford, could not pay his $5,000 preset bail after his arrest in May for misdemeanor theft. He pleaded guilty at his arraignment five days later, was sentenced to time served and released.

Manne said Ford is a good example of how the current risk-assessment tool works against poor people.

Manne, in a dark suit and red tie, his gray hair perfectly parted, said pretrial-services staff gave Ford a score of seven, meaning he’s high risk, with one being low risk, even though Ford had no prior failures to appear, despite an extensive criminal history.

“Ford had no prior failures to appear but he had a risk assessment score of seven because he’s indigent, he doesn’t have a landline phone and he lived in someone else’s home and he doesn’t own his own car. Oh and because he’s male you get a point against you for being male,” Manne said.

“That makes sense to me,” Rosenthal said, drawing laughs from some of the 40 spectators in the gallery of her 11th floor courtroom in the Bob Casey Federal Courthouse in downtown Houston, a wood-paneled room topped by skylights and lined with large portraits of her colleagues.

Rosenthal, a George H.W. Bush appointee, is chief judge of the Southern District of Texas.

She peppered attorneys with questions throughout a five-hour hearing on Monday, her highly developed legal mind on display with probing, rambling inquiries that sounded like she was reading from a law book, pushing the 20 attorneys before her to give her an idea of what kind of injunction she could tailor narrowly enough not to overstep her authority.

“I can’t order judges to reach specific outcomes in specific cases in which they are clearly operating as judges,” Rosenthal said, peering over her large red-framed glasses.

She asked Spinks for hard numbers on the number of people who the county denies bail to because they believe they are a risk to the community, noting that the Texas Constitution bans preventive detention of any misdemeanor arrestee.

Harris County argues in court filings there’s no constitutional right to affordable bail and paying a bond increases the likelihood a defendant will show up for future court hearings, arguments echoed by bail bondsmen who have filed their own brief in the case.

But Manne said he plans to call a witness to refute that claim: Truman Morrison, a judge from Washington D.C., where for the last 22 years there’s been a law that money bail can’t be set in an amount that a misdemeanor defendant can’t pay.

“Our point isn’t that Harris County should work like D.C. Our point is there are systems that don’t use money bail,” Manne said. “Judge Morrison will tell you it’s 99 percent of arrestees are released without financial conditions in D.C., but not withstanding that the failure to appear rate is extremely low. That’s because they do tailored things to try to get people back to court, text reminders, phone reminders, simple things that are more effective than money bail.”

The preliminary injunction hearing will continue Tuesday and Wednesday.


White Migrants are "Undocumented" but Brown or Black Migrants are illegal

From [IrishTimes] When are immigrants illegal and when are they undocumented? Answer: they are undocumented when they are Irish and illegal otherwise.

This is a crude generalisation. But if we take speeches in the Dáil and Seanad as a sample of official discourse, “illegal Irish” has been used 120 times and “undocumented Irish” 491 times – more than four times as often.

Journalists tend to call anyone in Ireland without the proper papers an “illegal immigrant” while an Irish person in exactly the same situation in the United States is “undocumented”. Most of this is unconscious – but then racial prejudice usually is. And in the current climate we must honestly acknowledge that there is a tacit appeal to racial prejudice in the way we talk about this whole subject – and in the way the Taoiseach may well talk about it when he meets Donald Trump in the White House for St Patrick’s Day.

This use of language has always mattered because it exposes a double standard. The 50,000 or so “undocumented Irish” in the US are human beings. They have lives and families and friends. They phone home and our hearts lift at the sound of their voices. They work hard. They contribute to the economy and society. So what if they entered the US on a tourist visa or a student exchange and just forgot to leave? What harm are they doing anybody? They are Us. But all those other millions of shadow people? They are Them. At best, they are anonymous, interchangeable figures, seen out of the corner of the eye as they pick up leaves in a suburban garden, push trollies down hotel corridors, or gather our dirty dishes in diners. At worst, they are “bad hombres”.


This hypocrisy has long been at work in Ireland: the same politicians who weep for the plight of the “undocumented Irish” in the US like to talk tough about “illegal immigrants” violating the sanctity of our own borders. But it also operates in the US. It was best exemplified during the primary elections last year, when the egregious Bill O’Reilly of Fox News questioned Ted Cruz, then still very much in the running, about the plans he and Trump were putting forward to round up and deport “illegal immigrants”.

The hard case O’Reilly chose to put Cruz on the spot was not a fictional María Contreras or Fareed Zakaria. It was an imagined Tommy O’Malley: “So Tommy O’Malley from Co Cork in Ireland is over here and he overstays his visa and he has got a couple of kids and he has settled into Long Island, and you, President Cruz, are going to send the Feds to his house, take him out and put him on a plane back to Ireland?”

This exchange was telling: deporting Tommy O’Malley back to Cork is obviously much more troubling than deporting María Contreras back to Cancun. And why should that be? Let’s not kid ourselves, we all know the answer: Tommy is “white” and María isn’t.

Irish politicians have always done their share of dog-whistling: the undocumented Irish deserve special treatment because, well, we share a lot of “culture” and “history”. Nobody mentioned race because nobody had to. But we have to mention it now because it is no longer a subtle and silent presence. The dog whistle has been replaced on the political soundtrack by brazen, blaring trumpets. Undocumented migration is being racialised and criminalised. Trump has been relentless in associating it with brown people (Mexicans and Muslims) and with violent criminality. And the key architects and enablers of this policy are Irish-Americans: Trump’s advisers Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway (née Fitzgerald), spokesman Sean Spicer and homeland security secretary John Kelly.

Toxic duality

How can these products of mass migration justify to themselves a campaign of terror against migrant communities? By holding in their heads a toxic duality: white Irish migrants good; brown Mexican or Muslim migrants bad. Or, as the euphemisms go, undocumented Tommy O’Malley okay; illegal María Contreras a threat to our way of life.

As a nation, as human beings, as a society with pretensions to civilised standards, we have to decide: are we playing this game or not? We love ambiguities and we’re very good at exploiting them, but there’s no room for ambiguity anymore.

Enda Kenny has repeatedly said he’s going to the White House on St Patrick’s Day to “stand up for the undocumented Irish” and insist they be given the right to full US citizenship. So is he going to tell Bannon and Conway and Spicer and Kelly to lay off our people because the Irish are also their people: good white Americans? Or is he going to “stand up for the undocumented Irish” by standing up for all of those who share the Irish experience of having to overcome poverty and prejudice in order to make decent lives for our children?

This is a moment of truth about what it means to be Irish in the world. We either wink at a racism that affords most of us the privilege of a white skin. Or we honour the struggles of so many millions of Irish immigrants to be accepted as equal human beings.


NY is the most unionized state


New York's union ranks dropped by nearly 5 percent between 2015 and 2016, but the state remained the nation's leader in unionized workers.


The drop of about 96,000 union workers in New York erased a 58,000 increase in union employees made between 2014 and 2015, according to records released last week by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Still, New York's unionized workforce has remained fairly steady over the past decade -- giving the state by far the largest percentage of union members of any state and bucking national declines in union membership.


Union members accounted for 23.6 percent of wage and salaried workers in New York in 2016. Nationwide, the average was 10.6 percent.


So overall, New York had 1.9 million union members last year, second only to California with 2.6 million.


"We take great pride in continuing to lead the country in union membership, as well as a long and storied history of providing a strong voice for working men and women throughout our state," Mario Cilento, president of the New York AFL-CIO, the umbrella organization for the state's unions, said in a statement.


The decline in union membership across the nation has been stark. There were 14.6 million union workers nationally last year, down from 17.7 million in 1983, when 20 percent of the nation's workforce was unionized.


In New York, union membership hit a 10-year high in 2007 when 25.2 percent of the workforce belonged to a union. The lowest level of the past decade was in 2012, when 23.2 percent were in a union.


The power of the unions in New York is found in policy and lobbying in Albany. About half of the union workers are in state and local governments; 93 percent of the state workforce is unionized.


The 600,000-member teachers' union, the New York State United Teachers, is among the top lobbying groups each year as the Capitol, as is SEIU 1199, the health-care workers union.


Last year, SEIU helped lead a charge to increase the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour in downstate by 2021, which was backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature.


Unions also were successful last year in getting a 12-week paid-family leave law.


This year, unions are aligned with Cuomo to keep higher taxes on millionaires -- a measure set to expire at year's end.


"Union membership continues to be the best way for working men and women to get ahead; particularly at a time when our economy is so out of balance," Cilento said.


E.J. McMahon, president of the fiscally conservative Empire Center, contended the state's unions have "a huge and very costly impact on public policy."


He said public salaries and benefits are "basically the tail that wags the public-sector dog. The other half are employed largely in either construction or in healthcare, both of which are heavily dependent on government subsidies."


After New York, the largest union membership rates were in Hawaii at 19.9 percent and Alaska at 18.5 percent.


Nine states had union membership rates below 5 percent last year -- with the lowest, 1.6 percent, in South Carolina, the federal data showed.



With Crime Rate Declining Racist Suspect Police Departments with their own DNA databases stir debate


Dozens of police departments around the U.S. are amassing their own DNA databases to track criminals, a move critics say is a way around regulations governing state and national databases that restrict who can provide genetic samples and how long that information is held.

The local agencies create the rules for their databases, in some cases allowing samples to be taken from children or from people never arrested for a crime. Police chiefs say having their own collections helps them solve cases faster because they can avoid the backlogs that plague state and federal repositories.

Frederick Harran, the public safety director in Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania, was an early adopter of a local database. Since it was created in 2010, he said robberies and burglaries have been gone down due to arrests made because of the DNA collection.

Harran said the Pennsylvania state lab takes up to 18 months to process DNA taken from a burglary scene but with the local database authorities go through a private lab and get results within a month. He said he uses money from assets seized from criminals to pay for the private lab work.

"If they are burglarizing and we don't get them identified in 18 to 24 months, they have two years to keep committing crimes," he said.

DNA is found in cells and provides a genetic blueprint unique to each person. Blood, saliva, semen, hair, and skin are among the biological clues a criminal might leave at a crime scene and investigators need only a few cells to create a profile.

Some police departments collect samples from people who are never arrested or convicted of crimes, though in all such cases the person is supposed to voluntarily comply and not be coerced or threatened.

State and federal authorities typically require a conviction, arrest or warrant before a sample is entered into their collections.

"The local databases have very, very little regulations and very few limits, and the law just hasn't caught up to them," said Jason Kreig, a law professor at the University of Arizona who has studied the issue. "Everything with the local DNA databases is skirting the spirit of the regulations." [MORE]


Supreme Court rules juror's racial bias may call for a new trial


The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-3 Monday in Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado [SCOTUSblog materials] that a juror's racial bias creates an exception to the no-impeachment rule that limits the second-guessing of jury verdicts. The rule is designed to protect a jury's verdict from being questioned later due to comments expressed during jury voting. Miguel Peña-Rodriguez was convicted of harassment and unlawful sexual contact against two teenage sisters, but it was later revealed that a juror made racially biased statements during deliberation. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority:

where a juror makes a clear statement that indicates he or she relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defendant, the Sixth Amendment [text] requires that the no-impeachment rule give way in order to permit the trial court to consider the evidence of the juror's statement and any resulting denial of the jury trial guarantee.

Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting opinion stating the jury deliberation is too important to be loomed over. He arguedthat although the instance of racial bias can cause great damage to the justice system, it is not so great of an issue to overcome the importance of confidentiality regarding jury decisions. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, in a separate dissent, that this rule "cannot be squared with the original understanding of the Sixth or Fourteenth Amendments. The Constitution does not require such a rule. Neither should we."