Leid Stories Stories and news that affect us all

December 16, 2014  

“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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December 15, 2014  

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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December 12, 2014  

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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December 11, 2014  

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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December 10, 2014  

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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December 9, 2014  

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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December 8, 2014  

Collector of Bones: For Sharpton Inc., Police Killings Are An Industry

The Big Chill: Obama Tempers Black Outrage Over Racism, Injustice

The spate of police killings has been good for business—if, like the Rev. Al Sharpton, you’re in the business of making your bones by standing on the bones of Black and Latino men cut down by trigger- and chokehold-happy cops.

Al Sharpton Inc.-- the Bloviator in Chief and his “legal team”--is doing excellent business this year, a bumper crop of police killings increasing his net sales, profit margin and market dominance. He’s has a monopoly now; he’s the undisputed King of the Blacks.

Leid Stories discusses the “industry” Sharpton has spawned, and how he makes his bones as a masterful collector of dead men’s bones.

 

The Black Entertainment Network (BET) tonight airs what it proudly touts "an exclusive interview” with President Barack Obama, in which he’ll address “modern civil rights, police relations and justice for all in America,” says a network news release.

What it really is, says Leid Stories, is a shameless White House-directed public-relations campaign to keep a lid on Black outrage over police killings and race-based corruption of the criminal-justice system that have now come to be an international embarrassment.

BET is thrilled about scoring the presidential exclusive. But as Leid Stories observes in a commentary about Obama’s contempt for his political base, BET should note that it’s the first for the Black network, has taken six years, and will focus strictly on what Obama wants to talk about.

 

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December 5, 2014  

What’s Your Verdict? Free Your Mind About the Brown, Garner Cases

Two grand jury decisions, within nine days of each other, have rocked the nation.

On Nov. 24, a grand jury decided that no charges would be brought against Darren Wilson, a former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown. And two days ago, a Staten Island, N.Y., grand jury announced the end of deliberations on the chokehold death of Eric Garner with no indictment against Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who used the banned technique during a violent attempted arrest of Garner on July 17.

Both cases have fueled protests nationwide and internationally, with racism, injustice, human rights abuses and unchecked police power the main targets of protesters’ outrage.

What’s your verdict on the outcome of these two cases? Share your thoughts on “Free Your Mind Friday” on Leid Stories. Call 888-874-4888.

 

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December 4, 2014  

Grand Jury Fury: No Indictment in Eric Garner Chokehold Case

Nine days after a grand jury found no reason to charge former Ferguson (Missouri) cop Darren Wilson with killing 18-year-old Michael Brown, a Staten Island, N.Y., grand jury concluded that Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo should face no charges in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six.

Protesters across the country have issued indictments of their own. They’ve linked the two cases as egregious examples of race-based state crimes and are demanding immediate federal investigations into possible prosecutorial misconduct. Both decisions have triggered an avalanche of criticism, even within the criminal-justice and judicial systems.

Leid Stories listeners had been primed for the outcome. Detailed analysis of how the cases were handled allowed predictions as early as Aug.20 that there would be no indictments.

Our legal expert and guide, “Attorney at War” Alton H. Maddox Jr., who had litigated some of the most controversial cases involving excessive police force in New York City, itemizes a bill of particulars about the Garner grand jury decision.

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December 3, 2014  

Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the legendary minister-congressman who represented Harlem (and, by extension, Black America) from 1945 to 1971, would find America’s leadership in general, and its Black leadership in particular, woefully lacking in what he called “audacious power.” Yet it’s what’s necessary to heal America’s racism-sick society and rid it of the “cancer that is eating out the heart of democracy,” Powell warned.

Ongoing protests and still-simmering tensions over a grand jury’s decision not to indict former police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9 are popular demands for justice. At almost every level, up to and including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama, they instead are offered palliatives.

Leid Stories discusses why, when the people want action, leaders can’t or won’t deliver.

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