Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman will not be released from prison


By The Associated Press 
on December 18, 2014 at 9:15 AM, updated December 18, 2014 at 9:36 AM

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — A judge has denied former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s request to get out of prison while he continues to appeal his 2006 bribery conviction.

U.S. District Judge Clay Land of Georgia said while Siegelman raised “significant issues that deserve serious consideration,” he believes the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is unlikely to grant the former governor a new trial or a significantly reduced sentence.

Siegelman, 68, has been serving a six and one-half-year sentence at a Louisiana prison camp.

The former Democratic governor is arguing his 2006 trial was tainted by the involvement of a prosecutor with ties to GOP politics. His lawyers also say the trial judge made legal mistakes when sentencing Siegelman.

Land noted that the 11th Circuit already rejected similar arguments from Siegelman’s co-defendant, Richard Scrushy.! s/index.ssf/2014/12/former_gov_don_siegelman_will_1.html#incart_river

*For immediate release*
December 17, 2014
Press contact: Sarah Sloan
Interviews available:
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Exec. Director
and Carl Messineo, Legal Director


NYC police seek the right to engage
in mass arrests of protesters without warning


Mayor De Blasio goes back on his word
Eric Garner protests and other free speech activities in jeopardy

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit just granted the City of New York an in banc hearing, where City attorneys will try once again to overturn a significant victory upholding fundamental First Amendment rights for protesters.

The De Blasio administration is asking the federal Circuit Court for the authority to engage in the mass arrest of protesters when they take to the streets peacefully, just as they have been doing recently against police brutality. This request for the legal authority to engage in wholesale mass sweeps of demonstrators would allow the police to do so without any notice or warning to them that they are even allegedly in violation of any law. In the Occupy Wall Street case at issue the NYPD trapped and mass arrested 700 people after police commanders led and escorted them onto the Brooklyn Bridge.

“This is the most significant and most defining legal case on protesters’ rights in the last 40 years, since the mass arrests of May Day 1970,” said Carl Messineo, PCJF Legal Director. “Mayor De Blasio seeks the authority to arrest today’s protesters in the same manner Mayor Bloomberg falsely arrested Occupy Wall Street protesters by the hundreds.”

“The City of New York has waged a major legal battle and expended enormous resources in this fight against the constitutional rights of Occupy Wall Street protesters who were illegally arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2011,” said PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard. “This case was not just about vindicating the rights of those who were arrested, but ensuring that people can demonstrate peacefully without suddenly being arrested and taken to jail.”

The PCJF argued in front of the Court of Appeals that the U.S. District Court’s initial ruling, by Judge Jed Rakoff, was proper, and given the video evidence, it is clear that high-ranking police officials led and escorted the marchers across the roadway of the bridge and, having done so, could not lawfully conduct the arrest without giving notice or warning to the protesters. The Second Circuit initially upheld this ruling on Aug. 21, 2014.

Before he was elected Mayor, acting as the city’s Public Advocate, Bill De Blasio called Occupy Wall Street a “heartfelt movement that’s speaking to what people are feeling all over this country.” Instead of supporting Michael Bloomberg’s crackdown on that movement, De Blasio called for the City to “make clear that we’re gonna respect their First Amendment rights and let this play out.”

Now as mayor, De Blasio has gone back on his word. He had an opportunity to reverse the damaging legacy of his predecessor, but has instead adopted and defended Mayor Bloomberg’s and Commissioner Kelly’s position.


Press contact: Sarah Sloan;
Interviews available: Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Exec. Director and Carl Messineo, Legal Director
Partnership for Civil Justice Fund – Media

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.


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.


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.”


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.


flag cop

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.


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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