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Killing of Two NYPD Officers Reignites Multiple Firestorms

A lone gunman’s killing of two on-duty NYPD officers in Brooklyn two days ago has reignited multiple firestorms thought to have reached their peak with nationwide protests over police-involved killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.

Investigators said that early Saturday morning, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, shot and critically wounded an ex-girlfriend in her Owings Mills, Md., apartment after an argument, then traveled to New York intending to kill police officers. He found his quarry at about 3 p.m.—partners Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, on special duty in their squad car outside the Tompkins Houses project in Bedford-Stuyvesant—and opened fire on them. Brinsley then ran into a nearby subway station and killed himself with a shot to the head.

The officers’ deaths, which Police Commissioner William Bratton is calling “assassinations,” are having massive impact at many levels and adding even more heat to the already boiling cauldron of debate on policing, especially in communities of color, and the all-too-rare prosecutions of rogue cops.

Our guest, Michael Greys, cofounder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care and cohost of “Community Cop” on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, assesses the fallout from the officers’ deaths.

 

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Yet another week that the propaganda machine was in overdrive, trying to invade your mind. Yet another week that you gave it no victory.

Share your thoughts—and defensive tactics—with likeminded Leid Stories listeners on “Free Your Mind Friday,” the best open forum on the planet. Give us your take on this week’s major news stories and events, or introduce ideas worthy of further discussion and debate.

Your call. 888-874-4888.

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The Big Thaw: Obama Seeks Rapprochment with Cuba, but Foes Aplenty

Benton Harbor: A Lesson About Justice and Why It’s Everybody’s Business

President Obama’s announcement yesterday that the United States and Cuba have agreed to pursue bilateral talks immediately to cease hostilities after 53 years sent stocks soaring, peace and political activists applauding, and diehard opponents of the communist regime to back-room drawing boards to plot their next bipartisan moves.

Seeking to reverse the Cold War, Kennedy-era isolation policy toward Cuba, Obama is making a bold move, arguing that isolation simply has not worked. But in the twilight of his tenure, and now with opposition even within his own battered party, can he pull it off?

Diplomatic scholar, historian, attorney and prolific author Dr. Gerald Horne puts Obama’s stunning announcement in political and historical perspective.

 

It isn’t getting the kind of media attention it deserves, but the controversial prosecution, conviction and sentencing of the Rev. Edward Pinkney—a pastor in Benton Harbor, Michigan, who has been leading a decades-long fight against a corporate takeover of the almost-all-black lakeshore town—is big news. It’s fired up grassroots activists across the nation.

In a poignant statement after Pinkney’s sentencing (Dec. 16 program), an elder-observer of Pinkney’s trial gives a stunning indictment of the criminal-justice system, the evil of capitalism, and explains why justice is everybody’s business.

 

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The Thrill Is Gone, and Haitians Want Clinton and His Initiative Gone, Too

Grassroots Movement Far More Genuine and Effective In Forcing Change

Four years after Bill Clinton swooped into earthquake-devastated Haiti with can-do promises and billions of dollars at his disposal to “build back better,” Haitians rate his leadership and performance as the point man on the internationally backed rebuilding effort an epic fail and want him gone.

They contend that Clinton has become a major player in the corrupt, anti-democratic political and economic system Haitians have been fighting against for decades under various regimes that is central to the oppression and misery of the Haitian people.

Veteran journalist Kim Ives, an editor with Haïti Liberté, a news weekly serving the Haitian diaspora, discusses Haitians’ no-confidence opinion of Clinton and the contentious political backdrop, in Haiti and the United States, against which the routing of the ex-president is unfolding.

 

Ongoing protests against the grand jury decisions in the police-involved killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner are powerful expressions of people-driven leadership that has served notice--on systems of government and establishment-accommodating organizations—that it’s a new day.

Leid Stories in a commentary discusses why this is a significant achievement and why it should be the start of a massive, interdependent—but locally independent, focused and controlled—people-centered network.   

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“They” scored a victory of sorts yesterday. A county judge sentenced the Rev. Edward Pinkney—for decades an undisputed thorn in the side of a political-corporate conspiracy to empty the small, almost-all-black, poverty-stricken town of Benton Harbor, Mich., and hand it over to Whirlpool Corporation—to 2.5 to 10 years on five felony counts of forging signatures on petitions to recall the openly pro-Whirlpool local mayor, James Hightower.

Pinkney’s trial was an all-white affair—including all jurors, the prosecutor and the judge—and not a shred of evidence at trial linked him to altering petitions. Prosecutor Michael Sepic repeatedly advised jurors (without correction from Judge Sterling Shrock) that evidence was not necessary to convict.

Pinkney, 66, was remanded immediately to prison. He is appealing the sentence. He had told Leid Stories on Nov. 5, hours before the jury convicted him, that he was hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. Either way, he said, he’ll fight to the end.

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor in chief of Pan African News Wire and our correspondent on Detroit’s bankruptcy, also has been covering the battle for Benton Harbor and Pinkney’s sham trial. He discusses the minister’s long history of activism and why he was targeted, and the link between Detroit, Benton Harbor and several other cities and towns that account for more than half of the state’s black population under emergency management.  

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Prisoner Rights Advocates: Torture in U.S. Prisons Pervasive, Condoned

Departmental Hearing for Chokehold Cop A Shadow Legal System That Must End

The Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s scathing report on torture of alleged terror suspects the U.S. government had detained after the 9-11 attacks has generated equally vehement criticisms and denials of its findings. No matter which side of the fence key players in this sordid, still-unfolding debacle are on, however, they nonetheless seem to be in unanimous agreement that torture of prisoners in U.S. custody has only now come to their attention. 

Bonnie Kerness, director of the Newark, N.J.-based Prison Watch, a project of the American Friends Service Committee, tells Leid Stories that torture not only is pervasive—and, in some cases, routine—throughout the U.S. prison system, for decades it has been condoned. Prison Watch has produced several reports documenting torture in U.S. prisons and jails.

 

Daniel Pantaleo—the NYPD officer seen in a cell phone video using a banned chokehold maneuver on Eric Garner in a violent attempted arrest that claimed Garner’s life—is taking a break from desk duty to talk to NYPD investigators. A Staten Island grand jury on Dec. 3 found no reason to indict Pantaleo in connection with Garner’s death, and there are no indications that the case will be re-presented to a second grand jury.

Leid Stories contends that departmental hearings are a shadow judicial system that illegally assigns to the police commissioner and the police department power and authority in criminal matters that properly belong to elected officials of the city government and courts of law. Departmental hearings, which focus on administrative procedures, are no substitutes for public trials.

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The system is confused—except when it comes to wanting to own  your mind.

All week long it’s been after you, trying to crowd your brain with useless information, misinformation and disinformation. But you’ve withstood the onslaught, good soldier; you know well how to read between the lies.

Share your decoding and deciphering skills with others on Leid Stories’ “Free Your Mind Friday.” Let’s hear your astute analysis of the issues and events that shaped the week.

Call 888-874-4888.

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Feinstein’s Torture Report: An Ode to Morality, Values and Transparency

No License to Kill: Lawyers Group Wants Darren Wilson’s License Shot

A 525-page Senate Intelligence Committee report charging the CIA with torturing suspects detained after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States continues to draw fire from current and ex-agency officials and political critics. The report, they say, is one-sided, dismisses the effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in obtaining information that helped to save lives, increases the likelihood of more terrorist attacks against the United States and Americans abroad, and ultimately is a Democrat-driven political hit against the Bush administration and Republicans generally.

Committee chair Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) defends the report as a painstakingly researched, impartial investigation that, while disheartening in its findings, was motivated by the people’s right to know, and is in keeping with “American values, morals… and rule of law.”

Leid Stories discusses ironies and contradictions of Feinstein’s dedication to transparency.

 

The National Bar Association—the nation's oldest and largest national network of predominantly African American attorneys and judges—has filed a complaint with Missouri’s Department of Public Safety seeking to ban Darren Wilson, the former officer with the Ferguson Police Department who killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9, from employment with any police department or as a peace officer anywhere in the state.

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The Senate Report on Bush-Era CIA Torture Programs: What it Means to Obama’s Lame-Duck Presidency, and Its Link to State-Condoned Terrorism in the U.S.

Five and a half years in the making, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s treatment of terrorist suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks was made public yesterday, although as a declassified 525-page summary of 6,700 pages.

A scathing indictment of Bush-era CIA policies and practices that, it said, sanctioned the use of torture and other illegal interrogation methods to extract information from detainees with suspected links to the al-Qaeda terrorist network, the report immediately set off a firestorm of criticisms and accusations by Republicans who say that both its timing and content are a political hit. Are they right?

How will the report affect President Obama’s last two years in office, which promises to be a bruising marathon of partisan warfare? And what is the link between the Senate report and the current uproar across the United States over what many view as torture of the homegrown kind—entire communities living in fear of the police?

Our guest, diplomatic scholar, historian, attorney and prolific author Dr. Gerald Horne, shines his customary penetrating light on these questions. Horne is the John J. and Rebecca Moores chair of history and African American studies at the University of Houston.

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Collector of Bones: For Sharpton Inc., Police Killings Are An Industry (Part 2)

Leid Stories completes yesterday’s commentary on how police killings have become a macabre industry for the Rev. Al Sharpton and his handpicked group of associates.

“Justice,” the clarion call they regularly sound, is a distant second to their personal and professional interests and agendas; instead, they mine the value of these cases for their own benefit—from plum political connections and lucrative media contracts to getting (via media coverage) a  competitive edge against other lawyers in high-profile police-brutality cases that will yield multimillion-dollar settlements.

Sharpton, tutored by the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the fine art of running with the foxes while hunting with the hounds, is to stage a “March for Justice” in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. It is his latest purely symbolic engagement with “the system” and major public-relations effort to affirm himself as a modern-day Martin Luther King Jr. and undisputed King of the Blacks.  

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