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Unlock Your Brain! Free Your Mind!

It’s “Free Your Mind Friday” on Leid Stories—an open forum for the exchange of information, opinions and ideas that merit further inquiry, discussion and debate.

More talking TO and WITH, less talking AT, and always with respect, solid reasoning and a good sense of humor.

What will you ask us to think about today? The world awaits you at 888-874-4888.

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Boehner’s Netanyahu Invitation Shows Up Israel Lobby

No Surprise Feds Won’t Indict Ferguson Ex-Cop Who Killed Michael Brown

House Speaker John Boehner announced yesterday that he has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on Iran and the threat of radical Islam on Feb. 11.

Boehner’s power play and breach of diplomatic protocol (President Obama was not informed) signaled a bare-knuckles partisan fight to the finish of Obama’s term. But Janet McMahon, managing editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, says both Boehner and Netanyahu have confirmed the power and influence of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

 

Leaks from the U.S. Department of Justice are indicating an imminent announcement that federal investigators have found no reason to indict Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9 last year, setting off nationwide protests against police brutality and excessive use of force.

Leid Stories revisits its spot-on predictions of no indictments in the case, both at the state and federal levels, and how the outcomes were engineered. 

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“Selma” and The Battle to ‘Diversify’ Hollywood

Courtroom Showdown in Staten Island, N.Y., in Garner-Related Case

The sleeper issue of “diversity” in Hollywood is playing big this year. All 20 actors and actresses nominated in four main Oscar categories—lead actor, lead actress, supporting actor and supporting actress—are white, and it has ignited a firestorm of protest, especially from African Americans in the industry.

Selma, the biopic about Dr. Martin Luther King’s leadership of protests in Alabama—particularly the Selma-to-Montgomery march—that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, was nominated for best picture and best song, but director Ava DuVernay and the film’s main actors were snubbed in their respective categories.

Our guest, Armond White, film critic for the National Review and Out Magazine and author of three books on contemporary pop culture, discusses the big scream about the big screen.

 

“Attorney at War” Alton H. Maddox Jr. returns for Part 2 of his discussion on the Eric Garner case, focusing on his intended showdown in State Supreme Court in Staten Island, N.Y., as legal counsel to Ramsey Orta, who had videotaped the fatal police encounter with Garner, including the chokehold that a medical examiner said caused Garner’s death.

Maddox says he intends to defend Orta on a gun-possession charge, in defiance of an illegal action by the state Legislature more than 25 years ago that “barred” him from the practice of law. 

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U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on Federal, State Housing Segregation Policies

The Police Chokehold: When Is A Lynching Not A Lynching?

The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments tomorrow in the closely watched Inclusive Communities Project v. Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs case, which will decide whether the federal government and states can continue to implement policies that “perpetuate or exacerbate racial segregation in housing,” even without intent.

Richard Rothstein, a research associate with the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute and senior fellow of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law, is our guest. He explains the significance of the case, why a large group of housing scholars, historians and activists have filed a friend-of-the-court brief seeking to end government-subsidized housing segregation, and the formidable legal obstacles that must be overcome in order to score a victory for fairness in housing.

 

Last Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to veto any legislation the City Council passes to make chokeholds illegal. Current NYPD policy banning chokeholds is sufficient, de Blasio said, and training will further reduce its use by police officers. Councilman Rory Lancman, who sponsored a chokehold bill, says he has enough votes to override de Blasio’s veto. Lancman’s legislation, however, will make the use of a chokehold a misdemeanor.

“Attorney at War” Alton H. Maddox Jr. contends that all sides in the legislative facedown—de Blasio, the City Council and the police unions—are skirting the real issue about chokeholds. By legal definition, he argues, chokeholds are a form of lynching and should be dealt as such by the law.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sets An Agenda with Faith, Hope and Clarity

Leid Stories commemorates the 86th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Day Jr. with his prescient analyses of the amalgamated forces of oppression against people of color in the United States and worldwide; his redefinition of the struggle for freedom and equality in America; his relentless pursuit of justice through directed action; his application of the lessons of history; his undiluted pride in being African; and his unshakable faith.

King transmits all this and more in his speeches today, with vivid instructions to us all about the work still to be done to bring to fruition a just and democratic society.

Mainstream media will play its predictable role, projecting King as a “dreamer.” King’s blistering polemics, however, informed the thrust of the civil-rights movement, which awakened society, and African Americans especially, to their inherent power.

King was a beacon, shining a strong light to bring us to safe harbor. Why, then, does it seem that we remain at anchor in a churning sea?

 

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You’ve made it through another week relatively unscathed. Hopefully, so did your brain. Poor thing probably was in overdrive all week, trying to decipher the avalanche of “news” from everywhere.

Now, tell us how you foiled the plan to confuse us all. Share your clarity about this week’s major news issues and events—or anything else worth talking about, for that matter.

Call 888-874-4888 and show us how you freed your mind!

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As Haitians observed on Monday the fifth anniversary of the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 200,000 and all but destroyed the nation’s capital, they were experiencing aftershocks, though of a political kind.

Haiti’s parliament is dissolved, and its president, Michel Martelly, is now ruling by decree. A newly installed prime minister, Evans Paul, has taken office without a vote, either by the people or the disbanded parliament. Protests demanding Martelly’s ouster and free and fair elections are increasing in frequency and intensity.

Veteran journalist Kim Ives, an editor with Haïti Liberté, a news weekly serving the Haitian diaspora, has just returned from Haiti. He files a comprehensive report on Haiti’s political earthquake. 

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Media Madness: All the News That Fits, They Think

Way too many media outlets are having a ball playing with our minds, providing a steady diet of “coverage” of “major” issues and events that don’t tell us what we need to know, or that tell us what we don’t need to know, or that simply make no sense.

Leid Stories discusses the media’s role in shaping our minds and attitudes and, ultimately, our actions.

Listeners offer their own views.

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How Badges Get Shielded: Reports Confirm Systemic Problems in NYPD  

All within the past three days, New Yorkers have been given official proof of systemic problems within the New York Police Department and the wide berth given to rogue cops.

A 45-page report released yesterday by Philip K. Eure, the recently appointed inspector general of the New York Police Department, found several cases in which the chokehold, officially banned by the department, was used as officers’ first response to verbal resistance to arrest. Officers who used the chokehold—implicated in the death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2014—seldom were disciplined.

Two days earlier, Comptroller Scott Stringer announced that the city will pay $17 million to settle a wrongful-conviction claim brought by three men, half brothers, who spent a cumulative 60 years in prison (one of them died in prison) based on flawed evidence at trial from a detective whose investigations of at least 70 other cases that yielded convictions currently are being reviewed.

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More than 40 world leaders and dignitaries headed a march in Paris yesterday in solidarity with national mourning for 17 people killed in terrorist attacks last week. (President Barack Obama, who did not attend, was heavily criticized by U.S. media for his absence; Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed the media’s barbs as “quibbling.”)

World reaction to the three-day spate of killings by three alleged al-Qaeda-linked terrorists (whose main target was Charlie Hebdo, a popular satirical magazine that recently ran a cartoon lampooning the Prophet Muhammad) is in stark contrast to the massacre of more than 2,000 people in a single attack by the terrorist group Boko Haram in a town called Baga in Borno State, Nigeria.

Dr. Chika Onyeani, publisher and editor in chief of The African Sun Times, discusses the situation in Nigeria in the aftermath of the attack, and the dichotomy in world reaction to these separate, though related, events.

The new year brings with it a new fighting spirit in beleaguered Detroit, says activist Elena Herrada, a member of the Detroit School Board and member of Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management.

Herrada provides an overview of where the battle lines are being drawn, even though, she says, grassroots organizations still in the fight have been whittled down to just a few.

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