By Victoria Collier and Ben-Zion Ptashnik

The fight in Benton Harbor is a war, it’s not a conflict. It’s a war over whether America will have prosperity and democracy, or live in poverty under the heel of open corporate rule. – Rev. Edward Pinkney

As reports escalate of police assaults and murder of unarmed black men for “suspected” crimes, a jury trial certainly sounds like welcome justice.

Not so for many in Michigan, where a 66-year-old black activist, Rev. Edward Pinkney, convicted of felony election fraud by an all-white jury, faces a life sentence, amid accusations of trumped-up charges and no direct evidence of wrongdoing.

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By Heather Digby Parton

After Sen. Mark Udall lost his seat last November a number of Americans, including yours truly, tried to persuade him to release the Torture Report on his own if it looked like the Intelligence Committee was going to lose its nerve. As we all know, the Executive Summary was released yesterday and was as explosive as many of us who’ve been following this story closely have known for a long time that it would be. Many of these details were known, of course, although some of them, like “rectal feedings” are uniquely awful. (Truthfully, some of that had been hinted at before as well.) Still, it’s an official document and that does make a difference.

So Sen. Udall was spared the risk of having to go to the floor to release a classified document that, in this environment, could have easily bought him some very unpleasant legal trouble.  Yes, the Senate speech and debate clause is supposed to protect him. But anyone who counts on such things should have a chat with some of the whistle-blowers and reporters who’ve been harassed and persecuted by the government these last few years. These things are hardly clear-cut.

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These days few things seem to energize and enrage former mayor Rudy Giuliani more than protests over police brutality that lead to the death of unarmed black men. To be sure, the protests seem to disturb the former mayor far more than the actual killing of an unarmed man at the hands of the NYPD. One of the things that might enrage the former mayor more is the United Federation of Teachers about whom, in a desperate search to blame anyone for Garner’s death except the people who actually killed him, Giuliani made the following insane comment:

“He then turned his fire on teachers unions, claiming they are to blame for the problem of poor schools in black neighborhoods.
“Maybe all these left-wing politicians that want to blame police, maybe there’s some blame here that has to go to the teachers union, for refusing to have, for refusing to have schools where teachers are paid for performance, for fighting charter schools, for fighting vouchers, so we can drastically and dramatically improve the education situation. Maybe they should be talking about and holding rallies about the problem of black fathers taking care of the children they fathered,” he said.”

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by Yvonne Ridley

In what is the first ever conviction of its kind anywhere in the world, the former US President and seven key members of his administration wereyesterday (Fri) found guilty of war crimes.

Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.

The trial held in Kuala Lumpur heard harrowing witness accounts from victims of torture who suffered at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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By Robert Parry

There has been much handwringing of late in Official Washington about an editorial shakeup at The New Republic and the possibility that the century-old political magazine’s legacy will somehow be tarnished by its new owner. But the truth about The New Republic is that it has more blood on its hands than almost any other publication around, which is saying something.

In my four decades in national journalism – that’s two-fifths of The New Republic’s life – what I have seen from the magazine is mostly its smug advocacy for U.S. interventionism abroad and snarky putdowns of antiwar skeptics at home. Indeed, you could view The New Republic as the most productive hothouse for cultivating neoconservative dogma — and at least partly responsible for the senseless slaughter associated with that ideology.

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by Andrew Ross

Everyone is talking about student debt, but almost nothing is being done about it. On the federal level, there is no debt relief in sight, as anyone can infer from the annual Congressional ritual in which lawmakers assemble to grandstand over lowering federal interest rates by a fraction. Nothing on Capitol Hill comes closer to the cliché of putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Rising rates of default (half a million more last year) and delinquencies (more than 30 percent of all borrowers) are a sure sign that many student debts cannot, and never will, be repaid.

This arrangement is not only unsustainable, it is immoral. For its casualties, the grisly consequences of this mass default amount to a form of collective punishment. And the overall household student-debt burden is growing particularly for the elderly. More and more of those in their so-called golden years are seeing their Social Security benefits mercilessly garnished, often because they have felt compelled to co-sign student loans for children and grandchildren.

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by Matt Taibbi

Nobody’s willing to say it yet. But after Ferguson, and especially after the Eric Garner case that exploded in New Yorkyesterday after yet another non-indictment following a minority death-in-custody, the police suddenly have a legitimacy problem in this country.

Law-enforcement resources are now distributed so unevenly, and justice is being administered with such brazen inconsistency, that people everywhere are going to start questioning the basic political authority of law enforcement. And they’re mostly going to be right to do it, and when they do, it’s going to create problems that will make the post-Ferguson unrest seem minor.

The Garner case was a perfect symbol of everything that’s wrong with the proactive police tactics that are now baseline policy in most inner cities. Police surrounded the 43-year-old Garner after he broke up a fight. The officers who responded to that call then decided to get in Garner’s face for the preposterous crime of selling “loosies,” i.e. single cigarettes from a pack.

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Congress is poised to give a foreign mining company 2,400 acres of national forest in Arizona that is cherished ancestral homeland to Apache natives. Controversially, the measure is attached to annual legislation that funds the US Defense Department.

This week, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees quietly attached a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would mandate the handover of a large tract of Tonto National Forest to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the Australian-English mining company Rio Tinto, which co-owns with Iran a uranium mine in Africa and which is 10-percent-owned by China.

The “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015” - named after the retiring chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services panels – includes the giveaway of Apache burial, medicinal, and ceremonial grounds currently within the bounds of Tonto. News of the land provision was kept under wraps until late Tuesday, when the billwas finally posted online.

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