THIS BLOG is NOW RETIRED

I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.
BLOG POSTS

Monday, August 31, 2009

Holder, Civil Rights and Justice

September 1, 2009

Justice Dept. to Recharge Enforcement of Civil Rights

WASHINGTON — Seven months after taking office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is reshaping the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division by pushing it back into some of the most important areas of American political life, including voting rights, housing, employment, bank lending practices and redistricting after the 2010 census.


As part of this shift, the Obama administration is planning a major revival of high-impact civil rights enforcement against policies, in areas ranging from housing to hiring, where statistics show that minorities fare disproportionately poorly. President George W. Bush’s appointees had discouraged such tactics, preferring to focus on individual cases in which there is evidence of intentional discrimination.


To bolster a unit that has been battered by heavy turnover and a scandal over politically tinged hiring under the Bush administration, the Obama White House has also proposed a hiring spree that would swell the ranks of several hundred civil rights lawyers with more than 50 additional lawyers, a significant increase for a relatively small but powerful division of the government.


The division is “getting back to doing what it has traditionally done,” Mr. Holder said in an interview. “But it’s really only a start. I think the wounds that were inflicted on this division were deep, and it will take some time for them to fully heal.”


Few agencies are more engaged in the nation’s social and cultural debates than the Civil Rights Division, which was founded in 1957 to enforce anti-discrimination laws.


The division has been at the center of a number of controversies over the decades, serving as a proxy for disputes between liberals and conservatives in matters like school busing and affirmative action. When the Nixon administration took office, it sought to delay school desegregation plans reached under former President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Reagan administration dropped the division’s policy of opposing tax-exempt status for racially discriminatory private schools. And former President Bill Clinton withdrew his first nominee to lead the division, Lani Guinier, after her writings about racial quotas were criticized.
But such dust-ups were minor when compared with sweeping changes at the division under the Bush administration, longtime career civil rights lawyers say.


Now the changes that Mr. Holder is pushing through have led some conservatives, still stinging from accusations that the Bush appointees “politicized” the unit, to start throwing the same charge back at President Obama’s team.


The agency’s critics cite the downsizing of a voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party, an investigation into whether an Arizona sheriff’s enforcement of immigration laws has discriminated against Hispanics, and the recent blocking of a new rule requiring Georgia voters to prove their citizenship. (Under the Bush administration, the division had signed off on a similar law requiring Georgia voters to furnish photographic identification, rejecting criticism that legitimate minority voters are disproportionately more likely not to have driver’s licenses or passports.)


Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, rejected such criticism, saying those cases were decided “based on the facts and the law.”



Under the Bush administration, the agency shifted away from its traditional core focus on accusations of racial discrimination, channeling resources into areas like religious discrimination and human trafficking.


Department officials are working to avoid unleashing potential controversies as they rebuild the division’s more traditional efforts on behalf of minorities.


They are not planning to dismantle the new initiatives, rather to hire enough additional lawyers to do everything. The administration’s fiscal year 2010 budget request includes an increase of about $22 million for the division, an 18 percent increase from the 2009 budget. Other changes are already apparent.


The division has filed about 10 “friend of the court” briefs in private discrimination-related lawsuits since Mr. Obama’s inauguration, a practice that had dwindled in the previous administration.


In July, moreover, the division’s acting head, Loretta King, sent a memorandum to every federal agency urging more aggressive enforcement of regulations that forbid recipients of taxpayer money from policies that have a disparate impact on minorities.


The division has also lifted Bush-era rules that some career staff members saw as micromanagement or impediments, like restrictions on internal communications and a ban on front-line career lawyers’ making recommendations on whether to approve proposed changes to election laws.


Other changes from the Bush years may be harder to roll back. The division’s downgrading of the New Black Panther Party charges, which were filed in the final days of the Bush administration, has had rippling consequences. It apparently prompted Senate Republicans to put a hold on President Obama’s nominee to lead the division as assistant attorney general for civil rights, Thomas Perez.


The delay in Mr. Perez’s arrival, in turn, is stalling plans to review section managers installed by the Bush team, including several regarded with suspicion by civil rights advocacy groups. Under federal law, top-level career officials may not be transferred to other positions for the first 120 days after a new agency head is confirmed.


Bush-era changes to the division’s permanent rank may also have lingering effects. From 2003 to 2007, Bush political appointees blocked liberals from career jobs and promotions, which they steered to fellow conservatives, whom one such official privately described as “real Americans,” a department inspector general report found. The practice, which no previous administration had done, violated civil service laws, it said.


As morale plunged among veterans, turnover accelerated. The Obama transition team’s confidential report on the division, obtained by The New York Times, says 236 civil rights lawyers left from 2003 to 2007. (The division has about 350 lawyers.)


Many of their replacements had scant civil rights experience and were graduates of lower-ranked law schools. The transition report says the era of hiring such “inexperienced or poorly qualified” lawyers — who are now themselves protected by civil service laws — has left lasting damage.


“While some of the political hires have performed competently and a number of others have left, the net effect of the politicized hiring process and the brain drain is an attorney work force largely ill-equipped to handle the complex, big-impact litigation that should comprise a significant part” of the division’s docket, the transition report said.


At the end of the Bush administration, the attorney general at the time, Michael B. Mukasey, began to make changes intended to reduce political influence over entry-level career lawyer hiring. The Civil Rights Division is now seeking to expand those changes.


It is developing a new hiring policy under which panels of career employees — not political appointees — would decide both whom to hire and to promote for positions from interns to veteran lawyers. The policy could be completed as early as this month.


“We wanted to create a very transparent policy that will stand the test of time and ensure that we hire the best and brightest,” said Mark Kappelhoff, a longtime civil rights lawyer who is the division’s acting principal deputy assistant attorney general.


Some conservatives are skeptical that such a policy will keep politics out of hiring, however. Robert Driscoll, a division political appointee from 2001 to 2003, said career civil rights lawyers are “overwhelmingly left-leaning” and will favor liberals.


“If you are the Obama administration and you allow the career staff to do all the hiring, you will get the same people you would probably get if you did it yourself,” he said. “In some ways, it’s a masterstroke by them.”
Mr. Holder has elsewhere called for social changes with civil rights overtones, like the passage of a federal hate-crimes law, the elimination of the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine and greater financing for indigent defense.


By contrast, he described his Civil Rights Division efforts as more restoration than change. The recent moves, he argued, are a return to its basic approach under presidents of both parties — despite some policy shifts between Republican and Democratic administrations — before the “sea change” and “aberration” of the Bush years.


“Of course there are going to be critics,” Mr. Holder said. But, he argued, “any objective observer” would see the recent approach as consistent with “the historical mission of the division, not straying into some kind of liberal orthodoxy. It really is just a function of enforcing the statutes.”

Just Foreign Policy

via CODEPINK Phoenix:

State Department Recommends Aid Cutoff to Honduras Coup Regime

State Department staff have recommended that Secretary Clinton recognize the existence of a "military coup" in Honduras, which would cut off all non-humanitarian U.S. aid, as required by U.S. law. Call Secretary Clinton at 202-647-5171 during business hours. Deliver this message: "Designate the regime in Honduras as a military coup and cut off all non-humanitarian aid to Honduras until President Zelaya is reinstated." If you don't get through right away, please try again later.
 
Background: State Department Recommends Aid Cutoff to Honduras
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/312

Marcia Powell's Death Officially an Accident

Marcia Powell's Autopsy Report Rules Cage Death in ADC Custody an "Accident"


Marcia Powell, who died in ADC custody May 20



The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office has released the autopsy report and toxicology results for Marcia Powell, the 48-year-old woman who died May 20 after being confined to a human cage at Perryville Prison in Goodyear for some four hours in the blazing Arizona sun.


The conclusion of Medical Examiner Mark Fischione is that the cause of death was due to "complications of hyperthermia due to environmental heat exposure." The manner of death is ruled an "accident." You can read the report for yourself, here.


The external examination revealed blistering and first and second degree "thermal injuries" on her upper body, arms and face. Toxicology showed that she tested positive for several medications, including Benztropine, a medication for Parkinson disease, the antipsychotic medication Haloperidol, and valproic acid, a mood-stabilizing drug used to treat depression and epilepsy.


Donna Hamm, with the advocacy group Middle Ground Prison Reform, said her group was concerned with the findings.


"We are trying to reserve judgment until we see everything, including the DOC investigation," said Hamm, whose organization ultimately took custody of Powell's remains, "but the autopsy does seem to raise the question of how far prison officials can go before something they do is ruled a reckless homicide. I guess the county attorney will make that final decision. We will certainly be interested in how this plays out."


Powell was serving a 27-month stint for prostitution at Perryville, when, according to an Arizona Department of Corrections statement released at the time, she was "placed in an outside, uncovered, chain-linked holding cell at 11 a.m.," on a day temperatures reached a 107 degree high.


"At 2:40 p.m., Powell collapsed," the statement continues. "Powell was taken to West Valley Hospital at 3:12 p.m. She was pronounced dead at 12:42 a.m. Wednesday [May 20]."


ADC honcho Charles Ryan gave the order for Powell's life support to be suspended on the advice of the physicians on duty, according to him. It was later learned that Powell had a guardian, the Office of the Public Fiduciary. Ryan told me following a memorial service for Powell at Encanto Community Church in Phoenix that he did not know Powell had a guardian when he gave the order suspending life support and that ADC had no record of a guardian in its files.


The fiduciary's office undertook an extensive investigation seeking a next of kin to take possession of Powell's remains. Powell's adoptive mother Joanne Buck, 76, of La Quinta, California was located by the fiduciary, but she said she'd had "very little contact" over the years with Powell, most of which was unpleasant. She told the fiduciary that she didn't want to take custody of Powell's remains.


Other leads on the whereabouts of Powell's family did not pan out for the fiduciary. A son turned up having been murdered. A daughter was adopted by family in Tempe, but there was no indication as to where the girl might be.


Another person by the name of Troy Troutman (with the alternative spelling of "Trautman") was listed in one of Powell's mental health files as "next of kin," with no further explanation. In testimony before Commissioner Michael Hintze concerning the matter, a representative for the fiduciary's office speculated that Troutman might be a son, but they could not locate him.


Hamm says that a prisoner who was in with Powell told her that Powell had a son named Troy. The medical examiner's report indicates Powell had several tattoos, one of which was the name "Troy" on her upper right arm. Others were of a flower, a teardrop, and the names "John" and "John C."


Powell's cremains were committed June 28 at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix. Her body may now be laid to rest, so to speak, but the questions concerning her death still resonate.


Why was she left in the 107 degree heat without water for about four hours, if not more? Did the drugs in her system, combined with the extreme heat and sunlight, exacerbate her condition? And why was ADC chief Ryan so quick to pull Powell's plug, when a little more time would have revealed a guardian and some next of kin?

Another Inmate Overdose: Florence

Inmate Dies At Florence Prison

KPHO.com
POSTED: 11:12 am MST August 31, 2009
UPDATED: 11:32 am MST August 31, 2009



One inmate at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence is dead after a suspected drug overdose, authorities said.According to the official Inmate Death Notification, Douglas Nunn, 33, died Saturday.Before his death, Nunn told staff that he took some pills, the notice said. When he started having seizures, officials took him to Casa Grande Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
His death is under investigation.
Nunn was serving a seven-year, six-month sentence out of Yavapai County for aggravated assault and aggravated driving under the influence.

Worse than Value Options...

Audit calls county's mental care worse

Monitor faults new contractor


by Casey Newton - Jan. 14, 2009 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic



Maricopa County's mental-health system has worsened under its latest service provider and needs a complete overhaul, according to an audit released Tuesday by a court-appointed monitor.



Magellan Health Services won a three-year, $1.5 billion contract in 2007 on the promise that it would improve significantly over its predecessor, ValueOptions. But an annual audit shows the Connecticut-based company has fallen behind its predecessor in serving the county's 19,000 patients who have serious mental illnesses.



"The audit shows a pattern of regression and significant declines in a number of areas," wrote the monitor, Nancy Diggs. "Looking ahead, there is no reason to believe that other already initiated reforms will fare any better."



The system needs dramatic reforms, Diggs said.



The audit found that among patients with the most serious psychotic and mood disorders:


• 83 percent of clients are not having their behavioral-health needs met according to their treatment plans.


• Three in five patients do not have an adequate clinical team.


• Four in five patients do not have a complete assessment of their mental-health needs.



The audit further found that less than half of patients with serious mental illnesses are treated with dignity and respect, as measured by how quickly their phone calls were returned, whether their right to treatment was protected and whether patients were allowed input into their treatment plans.



"They've really gone to hell in a handbasket," Diggs said.



A Magellan spokesman said executives were reviewing the audit Tuesday and were not prepared to comment on specific findings.



Arizona is required by law to provide services for the seriously mentally ill but has a history of inadequate care that stretches back several decades. In 1981, advocates for the mentally ill successfully sued the state in Arnold vs. Sarn, which resulted in the creation of a court monitor to regularly audit the county health-care system.



Lawyers and representatives from the plaintiffs, Magellan and the state expect to have a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court within the next few weeks to discuss their next steps.



A promise of change

When Magellan took over for ValueOptions in 2007, executives said that patients would have a wider choice of providers and that a governing board made up of patients, families and advocates would help ensure a higher standard of care. But, to date, few gains have materialized.



"We continue to be very disappointed in the results," said Dr. Laura Nelson, acting deputy director for the state's Division of Behavioral Health Services.



Nelson cautioned that Magellan is less than halfway through its contract and is still establishing a framework for mental-health care in the county.



"This audit is really only one picture of how the system is functioning," she said. "There are many other monitoring activities that go on here at the division to look at the quality of the services that are being provided. And there are conflicting findings at times. We're trying to better understand why that is."



The assessment took place in October, when 42 auditors reviewed the case histories of 316 randomly selected patients, conducted interviews and examined treatment plans and other documents. Patients came from each of 15 clinics Magellan operates in Maricopa County, and 15 of Magellan's own staff members were among the auditors.



Magellan responds

The state agency was not prepared to discuss whether it might seek to end its contract with Magellan early, Nelson said.



But the Arizona Department of Health Services has the ability to fine Magellan and has done so several times since the provider took over the contract.



In September, the agency fined Magellan $62,250 for failing to coordinate care with patients' primary-care physicians.



Four days later, Magellan named a new chief executive, Richard Clarke, to oversee the contract with Maricopa County.



More recently, the DHS released documents showing that staff at a Glendale mental-health clinic operated by Magellan failed to properly document consent for medication, update patient assessments and develop treatment plans.



The inquiry into the clinic came days after the Dec. 23 murder of two young boys in a southwest Phoenix park. Joe Gallegos, who has been indicted in the slayings, was a Magellan client who was supposed to receive court-ordered treatment.



Magellan spokesman Greg Taylor said the company strives to provide quality care.



"We care profoundly about the people we serve in this program, and we're committed to continuing to demonstrate that (the DHS) made the right decision to transition this program to Magellan," Taylor said. "This will be the first step toward transforming the mental-health system in Maricopa County."



The hearing that will take place in coming weeks will allow representatives from all sides to suggest ways the standard of health care can be improved.



"We need to advise (the DHS) of what we think needs to happen, sit down and see if we can come to some sort of agreement that would alter this current picture," said Anne Ronan, lawyer for the Arnold plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, Diggs said, thousands of patients are not getting adequate care.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Derechos Humanos in Tucson:

from No More Deaths - Phoenix. Talk to them if you've been trained- they need help this month:
------------------
...please read the following press release by Derechos Humanos in Tucson:

183 Remains Recovered in Arizona
Five Weeks Left in the Fiscal Year, the Count Has Already Reached Last Year’s Total

Arizona— The number of human remains recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border since October 1, 2008 has reached 183 three weeks into the month of August. With five weeks left in the fiscal year, the count has already reached the fiscal year total for 2007-08. From the beginning of the fiscal year to the end of July, 162 human remains were recovered—this figure does not reflect any of the 21 remains recovered through August 24th.

The compilation of data from medical examiner reports from Pima, Yuma, and Cochise counties is an attempt to reflect more accurately the human cost of irresponsible U.S. border and immigration policies. The count of 183 includes 121 males, 27 females, and 34 individuals of unknown gender (19% of the total). The number includes 98 individuals of unknown identity, which is approximately 54% of the total recovered. The identification of at least 29 of the unknown individuals is hampered by the fact that only skeletal remains were recovered. The remains of 168 individuals had been recovered at the same time last fiscal year. “While the media has hailed the efforts of the Border Patrol in rescuing migrants, nobody questions the policies that are pushing migrants further and further into the gauntlet of death” says Kat Rodriguez of Derechos Humanos. “How disingenuous is our government to applaud itself for taking measures to rescue people from the danger that it has placed them in? This is precisely why proposals to reform immigration must not agree to more militarization of our borders and communities. Our community security must come before any political gain sought or misinformed media hype.”

‘Unknown gender’ indicates that not enough of a body was recovered to determine gender, and without DNA, which is costly, it is impossible to know even this basic information about the individual, making identification and return to their families even more difficult. This fiscal year, the families of at least 34 individuals will suffer the continued agony of not knowing what has become of their loved one.

The dramatic increase in unknown gender cases is a clear indicator of what happens as border enforcement strategies push migrants out into more and more isolated areas, making rescue and detection less likely and the likelihood of death more certain. This ‘Funnel Effect,’ which has been documented by the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute, has shown that the practice of sealing of traditional crossing points ultimately pushes migration into the deadliest areas. The real extent of this crisis is not known as the numbers of human remains recovered in neighboring states are not available.

“In addition to the staggering number of recovered remains reported, Derechos Humanos has received a record number of reports of missing migrants.” continues Rodriguez. “There are countless cases of individuals who have never been heard from again.

The complete list of recovered remains is available on the Coalición de Derechos Humanos website: http://www.derechoshumanosaz.net. This information is available to anyone who requests it from us and is used by our organization to further raise awareness of the human rights crisis we are facing on our borders.
--
Laura Ilardo
No More Deaths-Phoenix
(602)818-5447
www.my.calendars.net/nomoredeaths

Crazy Horse

from some friends of Leonard Peltier, via Jericho NY:

Friends,

This message is from Ben Carnes, Support Group Coordinator and National Spokesperson

I wish to offer my personal thanks to everyone for your continuous work and dedication. I was at my computer Friday morning when my google alert brought me the first news of the denial, and then I received an email from Wanbli containing the same news. It was like the dam busted, I received several hundred within the first hour and a half from many of you expressing your sense of outrage at the injustice done to Leonard.

One of my friends wrote something to the effect that a new movement was born today. I really want to see this and so does Leonard, I know we can all agree the White House needs to feel it.

So what is it going to take? It is going to take everything we got - 101%! And trust me - this kind of commitment demands sacrifices and you will be challenged for your stand on this principle. When Leonard was convicted, the late Lew Gurwitz stated, "This is a case that is not going to go away!" Lew lived his words traveling and sleeping in his car to create the awareness of this case. When he passed on, his brother Shep took up the cause. There are many of us who have been here supporting Leonard for years.

Last year, we made a commitment to do what we can to bring Leonard home before his birthday next month. We have less than three weeks to really put our hearts into this, and some of us have personal responsibilities and burdens to overcome and it comes down to making some hard decisions. It isn't going to be easy. So as a National Branch Support Group Coordinator, I want to ask everyone if they would consider again forming a branch support group in your area. We have a lot of organizing and networking to do with the clock ticking.

We have to overcome the media turning a blind eye to Leonard’s plight. They are more than happy to spread detrimental news of his parole, as you have noticed recently. Let’s turn this into something positive for us, each of you can write letters to the editor in your local respective paper. Sit down and write a letter expressing your disgust and outrage.

As most everyone has heard, the White House phone lines were shut down today immediately after the news came out. The fact they shut down the lines is proof of how they were overwhelmed. You know that was brought to the presidents’ attention. I hope he leaned back in his chair and looked out the window of the Oval Office, and really thought that day about Leonard Peltier. And how much he obviously means to the people to shut down his hi-tech phone system.

And relatives, we only flinch! We’ve known the system has not treated Peltier fairly in the 33 years of his imprisonment. Imagined what would happened if we shouted? So yes, we need a revitalized and disciplined movement, not only for Peltier or other native prisoners, but also for all of us.

Once, we were a movement of people who traveled around the country to help put out fires of racism, greed and abuse. We have learned a lot from those days of protesting, civil disobedience or conducting roadblocks and occupations of government offices some valuable lessons. We also know that we are now in the day of hi-tech surveillance capabilities and out of control police powers. We don’t need more people going to jail. The government is doing a good job as it is, so be mindful of what you do and say, but always speak from the heart and act with your conscience. Don’t allow oppression to silence your voice of dissent – not now.

When there is a call to action, we can be more effective in organizing in our own communities, you know what resources are available to you there and it is going to take solidarity actions across this country, including developing media contacts, mainstream/alternative, in your locale. That is a good place to start because we will grow in numbers quickly, whereas, if we attempted to travel across country at great expense, then we may cut our participating numbers down dramatically.

Those of us who have been doing the work had to start alone or we might have had help, but we all started somewhere. We had to, just as we have to keep building this up. So for now, go to www.whoisleonardpeltier.info and fill out the application to form a Leonard Peltier Branch Support Group (city or state), and then Monday morning, your first action is to ring the phone off the hooks at the White House, and start recruiting your friends and other organizations to follow this course of action. Do this as often as possible throughout the day, everyday.

We’ve been saying that we wanted to start a prairie fire of outrage to the Oval Office of the White House for Peltier, and now we have cause. Leonard Peltier should not have to spend one more birthday in prison for something the government admits they cannot prove.

Offer your prayers to the Creator to give you guidance, then join this international movement for our brother and lets bring him home.

Email completed application: bencarnes@eaglecouncil.com & wanbli@gvtc.com.

We've got some work to do now.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and Leonard Peltier,
Ben Carnes


--
Free All Political Prisoners!
nycjericho@gmail.comwww.jerichony.org

Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project

Another take on the G20 resistance, via the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition:

Sept. 24: Mass March on the G-20 

Summit: The People’s Uprising!

Capitalism isn’t in crisis, capitalism IS the crisis…

For a present and future worth living we must act…

For a world based on dignity, love, compassion and sustainability we must work to build it…

Against all systems and relations of injustice, exploitation and oppression we endlessly and uncompromisingly rebel…

Meet: 2:30pm at Arsenal Park (40th Street & Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville)

We invite you to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Sept. 24 for a global justice convergence coinciding with, and occurring alongside, resistance to the G-20 summit descending on our city that same week.

For four days, thousands of people from all walks of life will be active participants in actions and dialogues that go beyond the G-20 summit to the heart of what matters: why is the world the way it is and what can we do about it? The summit offers a strategic opportunity to answer these questions and demonstrate our ongoing resistance to the existing social order.

During this convergence there will be community gatherings, labor marches, climate justice actions, events to connect global injustice to local institutions, and dozens of other activities. This is a gathering of those disaffected who are far from demoralized. A coming together of those who refuse to be crushed by this system’s violence and exclusion, who desire something more than to live their lives and observe the world around them through a pane of glass.

On Thursday, September 24, the G-20 summit officially begins and we will hold a mass march to their walled off meeting site downtown. This march will not be state-sanctioned; it is unpermitted and intended to allow people the space and freedom to oppose the G- 20 how they see fit. The rest is up to you! There will be different contingents focusing on workers, students and climate issues, alongside other feeder marches, bands, and hundreds engaged in a collective effort to disrupt the summit. The summit is much more than a meeting; it is the creation of a spectacle, legitimizing the ability of the few to wield power in the minds of the population and that is far more important to contest than an event that could conceivably occur as a giant conference call.

This march is the main event on Thursday, something that has been acknowledged by other sectors mobilizing against the summit. Some of our comrades have had experiences with going to protests in which 150 or 300 people, mostly wearing black, attempt to disrupt an event and are attacked by police only to find themselves isolated and without support in the broader community. We can't stress enough that this is not what's going to go down in Pittsburgh. We believe it is time for our movements to once again realize our power and to start thinking and planning with that strength in mind. We’re not going to settle for ducking behind others’ events. We’ve got numbers and we don’t need that kind of cover. Not to mention, if you live in the Steel City, you’re familiar with the overlap, the same faces at both liberal and radical events. Planning a march at the same time would only serve to decrease our numbers on both fronts. And ultimately, we aim to show solidarity based on respect for a political diversity within this struggle. We’ll be living and working alongside other Pittsburgh communities of resistance long after the pepper spray has cleared the air and the out-of-towners have headed home. We want to respect the stated goals of our neighbors, to protest the destructive, undemocratic policies of the G-20 and demonstrate that a better world is possible. Diversity of tactics works best when the space is available for that diversity to actually occur.

At its heart, this mass march springs from an understanding that our miseries and the myriad of injustices we see and experience are all consequences of the way in which society is structured. Profit is extracted from others’ labor and to achieve a maximization of profit necessitates a division of people along socially constructed lines, that decision-making and privilege are hierarchically arranged, that competition and the desire for total control necessitate ever expanding apparatuses of oppression and fear.

This is therefore not simply an “appeal” to the political process for universal health care, for an end to attacks on workers’ rights to organize, for an end to occupations of others’ lands, for clean water, for accessible education for all, for sustainability to forestall ecological collapse, or for a break with corporate power. It rejects both a singular focus on single issue organizing and the false notion that our world vision is about bringing together a bunch of complaints about the way things are. This march is our statement that our solutions must be as systemic as the problems we face, that our future lies in a “movement of movements” that work synergistically with one another to produce victories based on the interconnected nature of solutions. And so we don’t come to ask, beg or negotiate, we come to find strength in one another to work towards a society in which the injustices and indignities with which we struggle every day can finally be addressed.

In solidarity,
Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project

Web: http://www.resistg20.org
Convergence Center: 4374 Murray Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15217 (at the corner of Murray and Hazelwood in Greenfield).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

East Valley Fusion Center


Nathan Gonzalez - Aug. 28, 2009 09:06 AM
The Arizona Republic
 
At first glance, the three people huddled around a computer inside the East Valley Fusion Center seem unremarkable, but they are a part of growing trend in regional law enforcement .

The three - officers with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Tempe and Scottsdale police - are combing over layers of maps and spreadsheets of crime information seeking patterns of Valley crime.
The computers inside the East Valley Gang and Criminal Information Fusion Center provide the detectives access to crime data and police reports from nine member agencies.
And since coming online Sept. 1, 2007, Mesa Police Sgt. Lance Heivilin said the capabilities of the center and its ability to search and manipulate various crime data have only grown.
"Our first year we were involved in about 200 cases," Heivilin said. "In 2008, it was 800 investigations. This year we passed our 2008 numbers in July."
That means they have already analyzed nearly 1,000 cases to find connections between crimes that occur throughout the Southeast Valley and hopefully lead to quicker arrests.
The center is comprised of six police agencies, including Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Scottsdale and Tempe. Also involved in the center are the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Arizona Department of Corrections/Parole and the Maricopa County Probation office.
Each police agency staffs one detective at the center, which is housed Mesa police headquarters in a room with several desktop computers, flat-panel TVs and a touch-screen smart board that can connect different agencies for live briefings throughout the Valley.
The center provides partnering agencies with bi-weekly crime reports, along with various crime bulletins and real-time suspect or location information for in-progress incidents.
From inside the center, law enforcement officials search scores of police reports kept in databases at other agencies.
Should police officials find a link among crimes - for example if a string of robberies in Mesa is tied to those in Tempe and Phoenix -center staffers can put detectives working those cases in other agencies in contact with each other.
"Our job is to be that communication point," Heivilin said. "We don't take over the investigation, we bring everyone together."
The center was integral in a case involving several thousands of dollars of commercial thefts on the Salt River Community. The investigation eventually led to an arrest of a suspect in Maine.
In another case, Chandler police were notified of a serial robber they tracked to California. Detectives later received an arrest warrant and brought the fugitive back to face charges.
The center is always looking for various technological software upgrades that allow greater capabilities to search crime records, Heivilin said. One such program, COPLINK, a police report search engine, links Mesa and Gilbert police to Orange County, Calif.
 
"It's been effective as an intelligence resource," said Sgt. Mark Marino, a Gilbert police spokesman. "It opens doors for all agencies that previously weren't as accessible."
Participating in the program has offered Gilbert detectives speedier access to crime information and allows agencies additional opportunities to collaborate on related cases, Marino said.
The idea for the center came from former Mesa Police Chief George Gascón, and Heivilin said it has become more efficient as it continues to link with other regional centers.
"I really believe this is a national model for what can be done on the local level," Heivilin said.
While the center passes its two-year mark in operation, Mesa interim police chief Vicki Myers said she's pleased with how quickly it has become a useful tool for agencies throughout the Valley.
"I see the possibilities of the Fusion Center and the potential that's there for it to grow and become bigger," she said. "Different agencies (nationwide) come in to look at and learn from our Fusion Center and what it's done for us."
"I'm a big believer in regionalization" policing, Myers said.

"More Time, Less Crime"

We cannot let this man win election to a higher office...

Report: County crime rate down 18% in past 5 years
Amy B Wang - Aug. 13, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic


Crime rates in Maricopa County have seen a significant decrease over the past five years, according to a report released Wednesday by the County Attorney's Office.

The overall crime rate per 100,000 people in the county decreased 18 percent from 2004 to 2008. During the same period, the violent-crime rate dropped 8 percent and the property-crime rate fell by 21 percent.

The decline occurred even though the county's population grew by nearly 11 percent over that time.

The trend isn't new. FBI statistics from June show major cities in the metro area saw a drop in violent-crime rates for three consecutive years. Large cities across the United States also are experiencing drops in crime.

County Attorney Andrew Thomas linked the decrease to greater collaboration among law-enforcement agencies and toughened prosecution policies.From 2004 to 2008, the number of criminals in Maricopa County sent to the Department of Corrections increased 29.3 percent.

"The lesson is obvious," Thomas said. "More time, less crime."

Thomas also attributed the lower crime rates to a 30 percent decrease in illegal immigration over the same period, citing recent figures by the Center for Immigration Studies.

Thomas did not offer specific evidence showing the illegal-immigrant population decrease is linked to the decrease in crime.

James Holmes, a spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department, hesitated to link the decrease in crime rates with a decline in illegal immigration.

"You can't put a finger on that," Holmes said. "You can't say that one is a cause of the other."

Friday, August 28, 2009

287g Protest: Shut It down.


Letter to Obama Urges End to 287(g), Signed by 521 Organizations
By Stephen Lemons in Feathered Bastard
Phoenix New Times
Wednesday, Aug. 26 2009 @ 8:54PM



A just-released letter to President Barack Obama endorsed by a diverse group of 521 civil rights, legal and cultural organizations -- including the ACLU, the ADL, MALDEF, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Episcopal Church -- calls on the president to "immediately terminate the 287(g) program operated by the Department of Homeland Security."

Signed by Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, the missive denounces the controversial program, which turns beat cops into immigration agents. It notes that "local law enforcement agencies that have been granted 287(g) powers are using the program to target communities of color, including disproportionate numbers of Latinos in particular places, for arrest." And it claims that "racial profiling and other civil rights abuses" by 287(g)-empowered authorities have "compromised public safety, while doing nothing to solve the immigration crisis."

The letter finds DHS director Janet Napolitano's recent announcement expanding the program to be "deeply alarming," and cites a March 2009 GAO report criticizing "program mismanagement and insufficient oversight." It offers as one example of the program's failure the Department of Justice's ongoing investigation into the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for civil rights abuses.

Currently, Sheriff Joe Arpaio can boast of having over 160 287(g)-trained officers, the largest such force in the nation. And he uses them however he sees fit, employing them for the sort of immigration worksite raids no longer commonly used by DHS.

Obama's own concerns about racial profiling, expressed shortly after the incident involving the arrest of his friend, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, are used against him in the letter.

"We applaud your recent remarks acknowledging that, `there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately,'" reads the correspondence, which has already been delivered to the White House. "However, DHS's continued use of the 287(g) program exacerbates exactly this type of racial profiling."

I commented on the same high-level hypocrisy in a blog post following the president's comments on the Gates case in July.

Asked why she and these other organizations were acting now, Hincapie explained that the letter was, in part, a response to last week's White House immigration summit, where both Napolitano and Obama reaffirmed the administration's commitment to the spread of the 287(g) program.

"It comes on the heels of a statement made by President Obama last week at this meeting held at the White House," explained Hincapie. "I was present at that meeting, and President Obama and Secretary Napolitano both reiterated that although they were well aware of the criticism of the 287(g) program, that the administration was still committed to its expansion."

Hincapie stated that Napolitano's previous announcement back on July 10 regarding 287(g)'s expansion "really hit a nerve" in the immigrant rights and civil rights communities. Napolitano's declaration came after congressional hearings into 287(g) in April, as well as the release of independent studies criticizing the program, and concerns by law enforcement over 287(g)'s impact.

"There was just so much more hope for change with the Obama administration," said Hincapie of the near universal disappointment on the left concerning the administration's 287(g) stance.

The coalition signing off on the letter mixes both familiar groups with those less familiar, everything from the National Council of La Raza, the National Day Labor Organizing Network, the National Black Police Association, People for the American Way, the Colombian American Cultural Society, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Gray Panthers (no kidding), the Ruckus Society (a lefty direct-action organization), the Young Democratic Socialists, and the pro-immigrant Irish Apostolate USA.

(You can see a full list of the groups involved and the letter itself, here. I'm guessing far right talk-radio wing-nuts like Glenn Beck will have a field day with this roster of liberal orgs. I can already smell that one coming.)

Local groups such as Salvador Reza's Puente, the Arizona Advocacy Network, CODEPINK Arizona, Respect/Respeto and others are also listed as supporting the letter. In fact, Reza tells me that tomorrow at 11 a.m., he and other demonstrators will be delivering a copy of the letter to the Phoenix ICE office at 2035 N Central Ave., one of several actions across the country Thursday dropping off the correspondence to ICE offices and police HQs.

Still, Reza wasn't looking for any sudden change of heart from the Obama administration on 287(g).
"The letter represents serious organizations," said Reza. "the Obama administration has to at least listen to it. But I'm not hopeful they're going to change anything immediately...Knowing Napolitano, I know she's not going to back down. She's just going to keep going on. A letter is not as strong as 521 demonstrations around the country."

Sadly, Obama and Napolitano will not relinquish their vicious, inhumane "interior enforcement" policy against immigrants until the pressure on them to ditch the program intensifies to an unbearable threshold. This letter, at least, is a start in that direction.

Sheriff's Command Association not Under His Command?


Thursday, August 27, 2009, 4:06pm MST  |  
Modified: Friday, August 28, 2009, 2:55pm
Phoenix Business Journal - by Mike Sunnucks
 
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is investigating a campaign group that supports Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, but won’t disclose details of that inquiry.
The AG’s office is looking into contributions and financial activities involving the Sheriff’s Command Association, a political group headed by Joel Fox, a captain in the sheriff’s office. Fox was fined $450 by the Maricopa County Elections Department and ordered by a Superior Court judge to disclose the names of SCA donors, who include developer Steve Ellman and Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold Inc. Vice Chairman B.M. Rankin.
Arpaio said he is not involved in SCA, which backed his reelection last year and ran ads against opponent Dan Saban.
Arpaio’s critics have asked the Attorney General’s Office to look at whether SCA violated state election laws, including those governing contributions from businesses.
“The SCA matter is under review by our office. I’m not in a position to comment further,” said Anne Hilby, spokeswoman for state Attorney General Terry Goddard.
The Phoenix New Times, a frequent critic of the sheriff, reported Wednesday the AG’s office was issuing search warrants involving SCA. Hilby declined comment on possible warrants and whether a grand jury was being convened or pondered.
Arpaio has had his own investigations into Goddard’s handling of state inquiries into former state Treasurer David Petersen.
Ellman is the CEO of the Ellman Cos., which owns Westgate City Center development in Glendale, and former owner of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team. Phoenix-based Freeport McMoran is a huge copper mining firm.

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

More Budget Updates!

From Doug Kilgore at the AEA:
August 24-28, 2009
This Week's Issue:
Bipartisan Budget Negotiations Continue
On Tuesday the legislature ended the special session when they adjourned, sine die, allowing the governor ten days to act on the 8 remaining budget bills they sent her. The Republican budget package on her desk is almost identical to the one she called "fatally flawed" when she vetoed it and initiated the special session on July 1. This package was sent to the governor when the House and Senate Republican leadership failed to gain enough Republican votes for a sales tax referral as requested by the governor. View a summary of the flawed budget package.  
One week ago the governor sat down for the first time with the Republican and Democratic leaders of both the House and Senate to discuss the budget crisis. Since then five party negotiation sessions have occurred twice on Tuesday and once yesterday afternoon. Another negotiations session is scheduled for Tuesday, September 1.
The governor has until September 5 at midnight to act on the budget bills on her desk. If the bipartisan negotiations are successful before that time, her actions could facilitate what the parties have agreed to and another special session could be called to pass any budget measures that would be needed to produce a bipartisan budget. The governor can veto all or a portion of the package or sign all or a portion of the package at any time. She also has the option of allowing the budget package to go into law without her signature by doing nothing prior to the deadline.
At the present time' the Democrats have made a proposal that reportedly restores some of the funding cuts to public education and other vital state services and balances those restorations with the $250 million that will become available due to the expiration of the school equalization property tax. According to reports, the Democrats have not ruled out support for a sales tax referral but have conditioned that support on the need to protect low wage earners and collect the 1-cent tax for three full years.
House Minority Leader David Lujan, who is representing the House Democrats in the negotiations, commented on the choice the Democrats are presenting to the Republicans stating, "Do they want to provide tax cuts for corporations or do they want to provide a revenue source so we can fund schools and improve programs for the future?"
The Republican legislative leaders have stuck to the exact same budget position they have had since June 30, insisting on a repeal of the statewide equalization tax, cuts to public education and vital services that the governor has called "devastating," and a one cent sales tax referral for two years followed by a third year with a half cent sales tax. The budget package sitting on the governor's desk represents their "proposal" in these discussions, but the package does not include some key components that the governor has stated are imperative for a budget agreement.
The governor has not tipped her hand about what she will do with the budget bills on her desk. She has commented on the Democratic proposals that have been presented stating, "I'm very pleased that they have given us a blueprint." A temporary, three-year one-cent sales tax is her priority issue. Her original budget proposal proposed a phase out of the school equalization tax that would begin in future years when the economy and state revenues have recovered. She has criticized the cuts to education and other services in the current Republican budget on her desk when she originally vetoed them in July.
What You Can Do Take Action Now
AEA continues to organize with other citizens through the March4Schools movement and calls on the governor to veto the flawed budget and continue bipartisan negotiations. The movement needs to continue to grow in order to ensure the voices of citizens are heard.
Follow these three steps to keep the pressure on the governor to veto the budget and continue to work on a bipartisan budget solution.
  1. Spread the word by forwarding this audio message to everyone on your email list.
  2. Ask all your friends to sign up for the March4Schools movement.
  3. Call the governor yourself, if you haven't done so already.
  4. Make a sign for your car and post it.
The best way to enroll others in the cause is to send them to www.march4schools.com.
Blog - These Cuts Are Real!
Hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to public education became real in January of 2009. More are being considered for FY2010. Legislative budgets have an impact on children in our classrooms. Share your story and read others' stories about the impact of education cuts.

Contact Us  
Please contact Doug Kilgore, Government Relations Organizational Consultant,doug.kilgore@arizonaea.org for questions and comments
.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse

"Sun Dance Chief Fasts at White House For Leonard Peltier: seeks meeting with President Obama"

As a result of Peltier’s recent parole denial, Ben Carnes, Choctaw Nation, and a Sun Dance Chief, states he will go to Washington, D.C. to stand and fast in front of the White House between September 5th – 12th, in hopes of securing a meeting with President Obama.

Earlier this year, the LP-DOC sent a letter to President Obama to discuss the case of Leonard Peltier, but the reply from the White House declined to invite members of the committee for a meeting.

Leonard Peltier has been an international cause celeb based upon critical questions surrounding his conviction in 1977 in the deaths of two FBI agents. Amnesty International has designated Peltier as a political prisoner and a U.S. prosecutor has admitted in court during an appeal hearing that he did not know who killed the agents and cannot prove who did. A federal judge who heard this statement was unable to afford any relief wrote a letter to Sen. Inouye to ask the president to grant clemency.

Carnes is a recipient of the 1987 Oklahoma Human Rights Award for his stand against forced hair cutting of Native prisoners. He has been asked to speak before congressional committees and has served with numerous human rights, interfaith and Native organizations. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of Peltier for over 28 years, and first became a national spokesperson in 1991. He is also national support group coordinator and advisory board member for the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee.

“The basis of Peltier’s denial by the parole commission is one of hypocrisy. It is also beyond belief that the chair of the US Parole Commission, Issac Fullwood, who is lectures on ethics in law enforcement, would turn a blind eye to the FBI’s abuse of the investigative process. And Ms. Patricia Cushwa, commission member, and Chair of the Maryland parole commission recently supported a pardon for a man who had been executed, because there were questions about the case.” said Carnes. He said that there are questions about Peltier case that remains unanswered, and with this denial, the parole commission have made Peltiers life sentence a sentence of death as he won’t be eligible for parole for 15 years when he is 79 years old. Peltier will observe his next birthday on September 12 when he will turn 65. He has already served 33 years in prison.

Supporters are calling for a world wide 24 vigils on September 11th – 12th to begin at 8:45 AM

We call upon all supporters to organize solidarity events and actions in conjunction with Ben's solitary prayer fast in DC on September 12th.

If you can begin a 24 hour vigil on September 11 beginning at 8:45 AM and set up some means of a public address for the 12th to broadcast a live statement from Ben as he concludes his fast. This could very well be an important time in the history of the struggle to bring justice to free Peltier, and in the federal government's relations' with the Native people of this land.

Everyone is asked to work locally, we know not everyone can be in DC at that time, but your work in your area is vitally important.

"The president has made some promises to the First Nations people during his campaign," Carnes said, "and since the election we have been saying it starts with Leonard Peltier. He needs to prove to us he means this!

Otherwise, it is just another in a long running series of broken promises, treaties and broken lives. We will not accept this anymore!"

Leonard Peltier has long reached International celebrity status, based upon critical questions surrounding his conviction in 1977 in the deaths of two FBI agents. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for the 6th time, and has had the support of world political/spiritual leaders from around the world, including 55 members of Congress who has joined in the call for justice.

For more information, go to www.whoisleonardpeltier.info, the official website of the LP-DOC.

Information for contribution can be made through this site to help the committee and the action taking place in Washington, DC. You can also order litho’s of Peltier’s art or other products to help support the cause of Leonard Peltier.

This is not the time to be quiet, it is time to act – and right now.



CONTACT THE WHITE HOUSE:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Contact President Obama via EMAIL

The website is not the only way to reach the president.

You can also call or write to the President :

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461
Comments: 202-456-6213