Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ex-Redskins greats think it is time to talk name change

NFL players take pride in the teams they played for. Once a Packer, always a Packer. Once a Steeler, always a Steeler.

Darrell Green and Art Monk are no different. They love Washington, but here’s the difference: They think it might be time for the Redskins name to change.

The two Hall of Famers told WTOP radio (via Pro Football Talk) that the team should give this some hard thought. Monk has said the issue should be “seriously considered.”

Green expounded further.

“It deserves and warrants conversation because somebody is saying, ‘Hey, this offends me.’”

Green and Monk run contrary to the opinion of another former Washington great, QB Joe Theismann, who feels the team should keep their name. Owner Daniel Snyder has been outspoken in his desire to keep the Redskins name just the way it is.

So, what will happen now? That remains to be seen.

Source:  http://msn.foxsports.com/lacesout/ex-redskins-greats-think-its-time-to-talk-name-change/

Friday, July 19, 2013

5 Reasons President Obama Should Release Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier was a leading member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), an activist group that was involved in promoting the rights of “traditionalist” Indians during a period of intense conflict in the 1970s. On June 26, 1975, during a confrontation involving AIM members on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota, FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler were shot dead.

Leonard Peltier was convicted of their murders in 1977 and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. Leonard Peltier does not deny that he was present during the incident. However, he has always denied killing the agents as was alleged by the prosecution at his trial. Here are 5 reasons he should be released:

More >> http://blog.amnestyusa.org/americas/5-reasons-president-obama-should-release-leonard-peltier/

Thursday, July 18, 2013

CA prison protesters punished

CA prison protesters punished
Lawyers who represent inmates at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison
say 14 inmates who are leading protests at the prison have been put in solitary confinement and stripped of their legal papers. The punishment is part of an effort to crackdown on protests that have taken place throughout the California prison system since July 8. 2,312 California prisoners are taking part in a hunger strike, and 271 are refusing to go to work and classes. Prisoner authorities have revoked protest leaders’ visiting privileges at the Corcoran state prison.

More from around the web:
– Why solitary confinement is
the cruelest punishment a prisoner can suffer (NY Times).

– California prisoners aren’t the only inmates protesting inhumane conditions.
Mos Def underwent the Guantánamo force-feeding procedure to raise awareness for Gitmo hunger-strikers (Guardian).

More From PolicyMic:
Why the California hunger-strikers deserve your support.

How the California prison guards union subverts democracy.

Nelson Mandela turns 95

Nelson Mandela turns 95
Former South African leader Nelson Mandela will celebrate his 95th birthday today in a Pretoria hospital, while countries around the world celebrate the fourth annual Mandela Day. South African President Jacob Zuma visited Mandela in the hospital, and said he was healthy enough to smile in response a birthday greeting. The government is encouraging South Africans to celebrate Mandela Day by performing 67 minutes of chartable acts, while New York is displaying a large image of Mandela in Times Square. Mandela’s daughter says his health is improving; she hopes he will return home soon.

More from around the web:

How the world is celebrating Mandela Day (One).

Nelson Mandela’s political career, in pictures (Politico).

Amnesty International: Free Leonard Peltier

Amnesty International—Join a worldwide campaign to free Leonard Peltier.  Sign Amnesty International's petition here.  Call the White House at 202-456-1111, too. Urge President Obama to free Leonard Peltier!

Read More

Share this posting freely.  Circulate widely.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Justice for Leonard Peltier statement read to UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

This statement was read to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today, Friday, 12 July 2013

Human Rights Council
Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Sixth session
United Nations, Geneva, 8-12 July 2013
Agenda item 5. Study on access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.
Joint statement submitted by: Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee (LPDOC Regional Chapters European network), Committee in solidarity with Indigenous peoples of the Americas (CSIA-Nitassinan), International Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Incomindios), Abeitskreis Indianer Nordamerikas (AKIN) ; and Arbeitsgruppe Indianer und Menschenrechte (AGIM).  Speaker : Edith PATROUILLEAU.

Mr Chairperson,
Access to justice intersects with human rights in a number of ways. It is itself a fundamental right as set out in Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.”. The right to justice for indigenous peoples and individuals is also protected under international law, such as under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the ILO Convention 169 and the Declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

Nevertheless, the historical and ongoing denial of the rights of indigenous peoples and the growing imbalance and inequality affecting the enjoyment of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights results in indigenous peoples often being the victims of discrimination and racism in the administration of justice.

States should ensure that specific laws, such as modern anti-terrorist or intelligence measures, are not used in such a way as to violate the human rights of indigenous peoples and, in particular, that they are not used as a means of intimidation in the context of legitimate civil protest or land claims. It is also important to examine all cases relating to imprisoned indigenous human rights defenders in which there is evidence that the trials were politically motivated or procedurally defective.

Mr. Chairperson, let us remind you a clear example of such injustices by citing the case of Leonard Peltier, a worldwide recognized Indigenous Human Rights Defender. As you may remember, this case was examined as an emblematic case at the Expert Seminar on Indigenous Peoples and the Administration of Justice, organized by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, in Madrid, in november 2003.

Leonard Peltier, a Lakota-Anishinabe, member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) is still arbitrarily incarcerated in the United States after 38 years for a crime he did not commit. Mr. Peltier's personal testimony of the case is recorded in the U.N. Commission on Human Rights' document E/CN.4/1997/NGO/80.

In 1977, Mr. Peltier stood trial in the United States where he was denied due process and access to justice in violation of the US Constitution and international human rights standards. The trial judge made rulings that made a proper defense impossible. Furthermore, this same judge consistently refused to hear new evidence supporting Mr. Peltier’s innocence, thus skewing his avenues for redress in a severely unfair manner.

We note that for the last 27 years, the US government has consistently conceded that they cannot prove who is guilty of the crime Mr. Peltier was originally convicted for (see Peltier v. Henman, 997 F.2 at 469). Moreover, the Appellate Court has found that Mr . Peltier might have been acquitted had the FBI not improperly withheld evidence. Yet, a new trial was never granted.

Mr. Peltier is not, and has never been in prison to pay restitution for a crime. Rather, he has been held in prison for vindictive and political reasons. His incarceration and the Reign of terror by the FBI on the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation, from 1972 to 1976, have functioned as an overall method to silence and inhibit indigenous peoples in the U.S. So far, all domestic remedies to bring justice to Mr. Peltier and to the Lakota people who were victims of the Reign of Terror in the 1970s, have been obstructed by US. Prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

As Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Culture of Peace, Mrs. Rigoberta Menchu, so eloquently stated : « all over the world the Peltier case is seen as an example of how the justice system deals with Indigenous people – we have been subjected to an unjust justice.[...] We support this cause as a paradigmatic instance of the need to resolve long-standing injustices suffered by indigenous peoples. […] It is necessary to investigate this case so that the truth can come forward, and so that a healing process for the Indigenous community of North America can begin. We call for this as our commitment to promote the accomplishment of universal justice ».

Special Rapporteur, James Anaya, in his conclusions in his « Report on the situation of indigenous peoples in the United States of America » (document A/HRC/21/47Add.1, 91.), arrived at the same recommendation : « Other measures of reconciliation should include efforts to identify and heal particular sources of open wounds. […] New or renewed consideration should be given to clemency for Leonard Peltier. »

Truth, justice and reconciliation are needed between Indigenous Peoples and States around the world as stated in the EMRIP study on « Access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of Indigenous people ». Freedom for Leonard Peltier, considered by many as the « indigenous peoples' Nelson Mandela » would be an important step in this direction.

To conclude, Mr. Chairperson, we commend the EMRIP study for addressing the theme of justice for Indigenous peoples as it is key to enabling them to fully enjoy the benefits of domestic and international laws. Access to justice is the guarantee to avoid discrimination and racism against Indigenous peoples. It is also a way to affirm the right of self-determination for Indigenous peoples under international law.

We recommend EMRIP add to the study a paragraph refering to the legal protection of indigenous human rights defenders, such as Leonard Peltier and many others. We also invite the EMRIP to include the subject of « Access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous people » as a permanent item on its agenda.
We would also like to recommend that EMRIP consider proposing a mechanism under the Permanent Forum for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to act as third party in the truth and reconciliation commissions related to Indigenous peoples' issues.

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Candlelight Vigils appeal to US President to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier

Vigils in Toronto, Ottawa, and in other cities in Canada and around the world, on the occasion of Independence Day in the United States of America, to ask President Obama to grant Leonard Peltier his long-awaited release from prison in an executive order of clemency.

Read:  http://www.nupge.ca/content/5907/candle-light-vigils-appeal-us-president-grant-clemency-leonard-peltier

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Obama, Mandela and Leonard Peltier

Harvey Wasserman

Obama, Mandela and Leonard Peltier
July 3, 2013

Barack Obama has taken his two daughters on a dramatic visit to the Robben Island cell once occupied by Nelson Mandela.

Let's hope he takes them next to the one now occupied by Leonard Peltier.

Mandela was famously held by the apartheid South African government for 27 years. He became a global symbol, then president of his nation.

Mandela was charged, among other things, with attempting to overthrow a government, which he admitted.

For 37 years, Peltier has consistently denied the charges against him, which arose from a native American resistance action at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

His bitterly contested 1977 conviction in the killing of two FBI agents came in Fargo. Peltier has since been held under extremely harsh circumstances in a variety of US prisons. He has been denied a wide range of basic rights, been severely beaten, and can't get much-needed medical care. Now in his late sixties, Leonard's health has dangerously deteriorated.

As an indigenous activist, Peltier has been deemed a political prisoner by Amnesty International and numerous other human rights organizations.

Over the decades, a mountain of evidence has surfaced to back his case. His "trial" was a travesty of injustice. At least one of the judges who once denied his appeals for freedom has reversed his stance.

As president, Bill Clinton was thoroughly briefed on Leonard's case. To his everlasting shame, he pardoned the financier Marc Rich (who has just died) but failed even to insure Leonard a fair trial. The government admits that for "national security" reasons it continues to hide large volumes of evidence from public scrutiny.

Leonard's continued incarceration is a slap at the native community, and all those who believe in due process of law. His presence over the decades has been distinguished by a legendary dignity and grace. Among the many writings and films he's inspired, Peter Matthiessen's IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE remains the mainstay tribute to a remarkably steadfast spirit.

President Obama's silence on Leonard's case casts a long shadow over his visit to Robben Island. Amidst his many tributes to Nelson Mandela, Obama seems to have overlooked---we hope temporarily---that Mandela himself has asked that Peltier be given justice.

So have the Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Parliaments of Europe, Italy and Belgium, the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and many more. Before he passed away three years ago, Judge Gerald W. Heaney of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his previous opinion and joined those asking that Peltier be freed.

Most who support Peltier want his immediate release. Some ask that at very least he finally be granted a fair trial, with all the evidence made public. If the government insists on continuing to hold him in the interim, they ask he at least be moved near his Anishnabe and Dakota/Lakota people.

Leonard Peltier has been in jail so long he has grandchildren and great-grandchildren he has never seen.

Obama has said "the world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island, who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit." He was, he said, "humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield."

It's time for the President to show similar courage in the case of Leonard Peltier.

Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and many others have already demanded no less.

You can write Leonard Peltier directly at #89637-132, USP Coleman 1, US Penitentiary, PO Box 1033, Coleman, FL 33521.

Source:  http://www.freepress.org/columns/display/7/2013/1977

Monday, July 1, 2013

AZ Sen. Jackson first State Department laison to tribes

The Republic | azcentral.comSun
Jun 30, 2013 2:37 PM

Sen. Jack Jackson Jr. is trading in his legislative credentials for a newly created post in the U.S. Department of State.
The second-term state senator is moving to Washington, D.C., to become the first-ever liaison to Native American tribes on environmental issues. It’s a presidential appointment, and one that came looking for him.
Jackson, D-Window Rock, started the year by taking the oath of office for his second term as a state senator. About the same time, a colleague in Washington mentioned the State Department was looking for a Native American to fill a new senior-adviser position that would serve as the go-between for the Obama administration and tribes on environmental and cross-boundary issues.
Nearly six months and a high-level security clearance later, Jackson is ready to step into his new role. He will serve as the point person when the U.S. government issues a presidential permit for an environmental project deemed in the best interest of the country.
His job will be to work with tribal governments, as well as Native Hawaiians, as they sort out how such projects would affect their lands.
Think Keystone pipeline.
Last month, officials from 10 Native American tribes cut off talks with the State Department about the pipeline, saying a department report stating that the tribes had been consulted was wrong. Tribal elders said they expect “nation to nation” talks with the U.S. government and said the meeting in Rapid City, S.D., failed to meet that standard.
It will fall to Jackson to step in and consult with tribes on matters such as this.
“They need to have someone there so tribes don’t walk out on them,” said Jackson, a Navajo and former director of governmental affairs for the National Congress of American Indians.
“As a Native person, I want to ensure the negative impacts on them are as little as possible,” Jackson said of his consultation with Native American tribes.
He is no stranger to Washington: Jackson has 12 years of experience in the U.S. capital, working for the Navajo Nation and later as a legislative analyst for the National Indian Education Association.
When he returned to Arizona, he served one term in the House, 2003-05, then turned to consulting.
Last week, he was clearing out his third-floor Senate office, packing artwork and mementos from his time in the Legislature and fielding questions from a State Department official who was completing a background check on Jackson.
As he moves east, Jackson, 54, won’t be traveling alone: His husband of nearly five years, David Bailey, is going with him. Jackson stunned some of his Senate colleagues when he went public with his marriage in an announcement on the Senate floor last year.
The two were married in California, weeks before voters there approved a ban on same-sex marriage. That ban has since been lifted by court rulings and will stand after the U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to take up a case that challenged a lower-court ruling overturning the marriage ban.
Jackson leaves the Senate after a rocky session that concluded with lawmakers voting to approve Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to expand the state’s Medicaid rolls. In between all the high-volume debates on that issue, Jackson was able to muster support for three measures that will aid his northeastern Arizona district: emergency funding for the troubled Red Mesa school district, money for the Navajo Technical College and a law that will allow tribes to compete for dollars in the state’s aviation fund.
“I was glad I had at least three feathers in my cap, leaving the Legislature,” he said.

Source:  http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20130627jack-jackson-state-department.html?nclick_check=1

Supreme Court sends message on voting rights

Supreme Court sends message on voting rights
By Mark Trahant

The Supreme Court’s ruling last week on voting rights sends a simple and clear message: And now you do what they told ya.

The court basically said that modern states wouldn’t use their power to keep minorities -- including American Indians and Alaska Natives -- from voting. “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the 5-to-4 majority.

And now you do what they told ya.

So in North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, Montana, and Alaska, and in many other states where access to voting is limited, where polling booths are located far from reservation communities, or where “early voting” hours are made purposely unequal or unfair, well, the court said, in Shelby County (the Alabama county that sued to end the Voting Rights Act) “voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity.”

And now you do what they told ya.

But of course that parity is not found in Indian Country. The last election was a success, however, American Indians and Alaska Natives still have the lowest registration rates of any racial or ethnic group. A study by Demos a couple of years ago pegged that number at 5 to 14 percent lower than the general population. I suspect the numbers are not much better two years later because Indian Country is growing so fast; nearly 200,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives are eligible to vote since the last election.

And now you do what they told ya.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, says the court’s majority is wrong because “the ‘blight of racial discrimination in voting’ continued to ‘infec[t] the electoral process in parts of our country.’ Early attempts to cope with this vile infection resembled battling the Hydra. Whenever one form of voting discrimination was identified and prohibited, others sprang up in its place.”

And now you do what they told ya.

A case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is the practical 21st century application of these voting rights issues. Montana law provides for early voting and late registration. However “tribal members live a great distance from the late registration and in-person absentee voting places in county seats,” according to appellants’ brief. And the counties have largely said no, even when the cost has been covered or the administrative burden reduced. “Counties take the position that there is no violation of the Voting Rights Act, no harm, and that they have no authority or obligation to ever open any satellite offices.”

And now you do what they told ya, now you’re under control.

The Supreme Court has said this is a new country, one that’s no longer divided by voting tests or low registration, “yet the Voting Rights Act continues to treat it as if it were.” So Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was struck down and immediately states set out to prove that the Court was in error by enacting sweeping provisions that limit voter participation. Only two hours after the court’s ruling Texas announced the state’s voter ID law would take effect and new restrictive districts would begin. Not long after Mississippi and South Carolina joined the chorus. States with large American Indian or Alaska Native populations will not be far behind.

But there is a weakness in the court’s ruling: The more that those in power try to use cheap tricks -- voter ID laws or limited ballot access -- the more people who will demand to vote. The court has basically set out the challenge: The only way to strip those from power who would limit your right to vote, is to vote. The only way to end austerity is to win the election. The only way to invest in a better future for young people is to show up in record numbers. Vote because “they” say you can’t.

Or as Rage Against the Machine once shouted: F%$# YOU, I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!!

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He lives in Fort Hall, Idaho, and is a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Join the discussion about austerity. A new Facebook page has been set up at: www.facebook.com/IndianCountryAusterity.

Source:  http://www.indianz.com/News/2013/010290.asp