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U.S. HIgh Court Ruling Opens Door to New Appeal by Mumia Abu-Jamal of His 1982 Conviction

Supreme Hypocrisy in Pennsylvania

 

One unintended consequence of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a death penalty case that rebuked actions of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice and prosecutors in Philadelphia for conflict of interest was to possibly open a new avenue for activist-journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal to appeal his own 1982 murder conviction because his appellate proceedings were tainted by alarmingly similar conflict of interest, involving the same appellate jurist who was a former DA.

That ruling by America’s highest court sharply criticized former Chief Justice of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Ronald Castille for his participation in a 2014 death penalty deliberation because that justice had approved seeking that ultimate penalty when he served as the District Attorney of Philadelphia before becoming a state supreme court member.

That U.S. Supreme Court rebuke cited judicial conduct rules in Pennsylvania applicable to judges who had previously worked for a governmental agency like a District Attorney. Those conduct rules urged judges to remove themselves from “a proceeding if [their] impartiality might reasonably be questioned” because of their former position with such a governmental agency.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the recent 5-3 ruling that rebuked Castille, stated that an “unconstitutional potential for bias exists when the same person serves as both accuser and adjudicator in a case.”

Paris Protest For Abu-Jamal. Jacques Lederer (left) and Abu-Jamal Collectif head Jacky Hortaut (right) - LBW PhotoParis Protest For Abu-Jamal. Jacques Lederer (left) and Abu-Jamal Collectif head Jacky Hortaut (right) - LBW Photo
 

Paris protestors for 21 years have held demonstrations monthly to criticize the lack of impartiality by judges in Pennsylvania, particularly judges once employed as prosecutors and/or in law enforcement. Those protestors have also condemned misconduct by prosecutors in Philadelphia like prosecutors unlawfully withholding evidence favorable to defendants.

State Dept. IG Report on Private Server has Clinton Resembling Gen. MacArthur on Luzon

A campaign death march?:

 

Few people thought, back in 1941, that the Japanese military could defeat or pose a serious threat to the US military. Yet, by April 8, 1942, only five months into the war, United States’ forces stationed on Luzon, our Philippine colony, had surrendered to a upstart Asian colonial power, the empire of Japan. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the US commander in the Far East, had fled in ignominous defeat from the colony to Australia a month before. The remaining Filipino and American prisoners of war were left behind and forced in a death march of 65 miles to move to POW camps, where they remained under brutal conditions for the rest of the war. The name “Bataan” has since come to symbolize the depths of depravity following defeat.

Bataan was invoked again by journalists to describe the conditions at the Brooklyn campaign headquarters of then-Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the wake of an improbable and unexpectedly harsh finding by the inspector general (IG) of the State Department. The State Department’s own watchdog found its former boss, Secretary Clinton, to have clearly violated the rules and procedures of her own agency and the legal requirements of the National Freedom of Information Act. Clinton, the IG’s report said, posed “significant security risks” through her decision to use a private email server for professional business while she was secretary of state.

The IG’s report promises to be the centerpiece of the Republican attack on the Democrats in the fall election if Secretary Clinton grabs the party’s presidential nomination.

Like Gen. MacArthur fleeing capture by advancing  Japanese forces in the Philippines, Hillary's campaign, after the IG's report, is waiting for the FBI probe shoe to dropLike Gen. MacArthur fleeing capture by advancing Japanese forces in the Philippines, Hillary's campaign, after the IG's report, is waiting for the FBI probe shoe to drop
 

While her damage-control operation -- a fixture in the Clinton political machine through decades of scandals -- has gone into full gear, and a largely supportive corporate media has predictably tried to play down the import of the IG’s report, there is still a major FBI investigation underway of the same misconduct by former Secretary Clinton, which has included granting immunity from at least one key member of her staff who handled her home communications system -- a staffer who already took the Fifth over the issue at a House hearing. If the FBI were to indict Clinton, her situation would start to resemble General MacArthur’s in the spring of 1942 -- surrounded with no way out but to flee the scene.

Some of Clinton’s mass media friends have attempted, predictably, to link these developments to the continuing assault by what she once called, “ … a vast right wing conspiracy.” The problem with this defense lies in the very nature of the IG process.

Most agencies of the Unites States government have inspector general offices. The IGs operate independently within each agency to investigate waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse of federal resources. IGs have wide investigative latitude. The State Department IG is a direct appointment of the president of the United States, Barack Obama, hardly part of a vast right wing conspiracy. (FBI Director James Comey, while a former Republican-appointed federal prosecutor, was also appointed to his current post in 2013 by Obama.)

Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen's Mental Health Likely to Overshadow Gun Control

Democrats use mental health to avoid taking stand on gun control

 

I could talk about the sanctity of queer nightclubs. Queer nightclubs are to queer civil rights as black southern churches are to black civil rights.

I could point out that Donald Trump’s asinine statements about Muslims and a radicalizing second generation are exactly the kind of ignorant bigotry that spurs these sorts of hate crimes to begin with.

I won’t though, because we all know that this has already been done and will continue to be done until this devastating event’s emotional significance is reduced to meaningless babble on repeat.

However, what has yet to come is the inevitable discussion about the mental state of Omar Mateen and the role that might have played in the shooting. Already, there is foreshadowing of this discussion as journalists report those around him describing him as “bipolar” or “erratic.”

I’m nipping it in the bud. We cannot go down that path. It’s distracting and unproductive because mass shootings are not just about mental health. Of course, mental health plays a role, but guess what plays an even larger role? GUNS.

Liberal and conservative politicians alike focus on mental health as a strategy to avoid discussing the true heart of the gun control debate. 

Let’s Stop Google from Gobbling Up Our Schools

It's happening right under our noses!

 

(The following article was co-written by Dr. Jackie Smith -- of the International Network of Scholar Activsts -- and TCBH writer Alfredo Lopez. It is being published here and in other places.)
 

In October of 2006, Google launched its Apps for Education, with Arizona State University being its first client. Today there are more than 25 million individual users in both K-12 and higher ed institutions, and 74 of the top 100 universities use Google apps for their university communications and software applications.

Victor Alhadeff, CEO of Boost eLearning, a Google for Work and Google for Education partner, cites projected figures exceeding 110 million users by 2020. He notes that the current user base represents only about 4.5% of the potential market, and that there is tremendous potential for growth—mainly in developing countries.

Google’s educational packages include things like the google calendar, Google docs, Google classroom, gmail, and most recently it has added the Chromebook. Chromebooks are low-cost and easy-to-use notebooks that come with support and built-in access to Google Apps. They are offered to schools participating in Google for Education for $149. Google reports that it sold more than 1 million Chromebooks in just the second quarter of 2014. In November of 2014, the New York City School Department of Education adopted Chromebook as part of its approved and supported tools in its 1800 schools.

Schools across the U.S. and around the world are now “going Google,” as the companies marketers like to say.

Google Drive in Our CollegesGoogle Drive in Our Colleges

Why should we worry?

With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Needs to Demand Answers

Key issue not being addressed is secret financial deals

 

When it comes to Hillary Clinton’s State Department email scandal, reporters -- and even her right-wing critics in the Republican Party -- are asking the wrong question.

Sure, doing all her official business on an unprotected, unscrambled private server in her own home and on an unsecured private Blackberry phone device means that any two-bit spy outfit, not to mention sophisticated ones like those of Russia, Iran, Israel or China, could easily hack it and read secret State Department and other agency communications. But really, those entities have ways of getting that kind of secret stuff anyhow.

The real question is what kind of private conversations Clinton, in her role as Secretary of State, was having with powerful people both at home and abroad that may have involved cash donations to the Clinton Foundation and to her and Bill’s personal enrichment or her future campaign for president.

Hillary Clinton is a lawyer, and while she’s slippery, she’s no dummy. She may have played dumb when asked earlier by reporters about her server’s hard drive being wiped clean of data before she turned it over to the FBI, saying, “What, like with a cloth or something? I don’t know how it works at all,” but she surely was involved in the deletion of her private emails -- over 30,000 of which were reportedly erased.

And those erasures were made without any involvement of State Department security or legal officials. The decision, according to Clinton, on which emails were “private communications,” was made by her personal attorney, whose interest, by definition, was her and not the public or even national security for that matter.

As the Washington Post has reported, the Clintons went from being, as Hillary Clinton has said, “dead broke” upon leaving the White House in January 2000, to earning some $230 million by this year -- a staggering sum of money even in a new Gilded Age of obscene wealth. Most of this money has been little more than influence buying by corporations and wealthy people trying to curry favor with a woman who was already Secretary of State, perhaps the second-most powerful position in the US government and whom many expected to become the next president after Obama.

As hard drive erasures and o secrecy obsession make Clinton's email scandal increasingly Nixonian, Sanders needs to stop being polite and start asking hard questions about her motivesAs hard drive erasures and o secrecy obsession make Clinton's email scandal increasingly Nixonian, Sanders needs to stop being polite and start asking hard questions about her motives
 

72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election -- Is There a Lesson Here for Sanders?

Imagine that!

 

A 72-year-old college professor named Alexander van der Bellen, running for president as the candidate of the leftist Austrian Green Party, a fringe party that had never been considered a serious contender in post-war Austrian politics, just won a narrow 50.3/49.7 percent victory over Norbert Hofer, a right-wing candidate of the neo-fascist Freedom Party who had been favored to win.

The run-off, held on Sunday, but not decided until today when some 750,000 mail-in ballots were finally counted, was held after an initial presidential election contest on April 24 in which no candidate won a majority of the vote. In that first contest, voters humiliated the candidates of Austria's two establishment parties, the center-right Austrian People's Party, and the center left Austrian Socialist Party, who came in fourth and fifth with 11% each behind Hofer (35%) and van der Bellen (21%) as well as an independent candidate who won 18.5% of the vote.

In the two-person run-off, most Socialist Party voters, many independents, as well as some People's Party conservatives, apparently voted for van der Bellen, so as to ensure that the Freedom Party's Hofer not become the first European head of state since the fall of Nazi Germany to hail from the far right.

 Austrian President-elect Alexander van der Bellen and presidential candidate Bernie SandersTwo crusty old socialists: Austrian President-elect Alexander van der Bellen and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders
 

For an American looking at this (and I was actually in Vienna for much of last week during the final days of the run-off campaign), there was a distinct sense that I was looking at a possible scenario for the upcoming US general election.

After all, we too have a crusty 70-something socialist, always considered a fringe political figure, running for president and he is proving to be surprisingly popular.

Could the Problem of the 21st Century Be the Gender Line?

An Essay on Urinals and Stalls as the New Battleground

 
The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line.
                                                                        - W.E.B. DuBois
 
While I see his position as one of defending bigotry, I sympathize a bit with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory when he tells NPR, "Most people had never heard of this issue five months ago.”

I was one of those people. Until quite recently -- certainly before Caitlin Jenner and going back to the early 1950s when ex-GI Christine Jorgensen had sex re-assignment surgery -- the term transgender meant a person had submitted to hormone treatment and surgery that involved, for a male, cutting off the penis and surgically creating some approximation of a vagina. A male or female who chose to wear clothing of the opposite gender was known as a transvestite. That semantic understanding seems to have gone the way of negro and colored people. It's now a matter of how one feels inside one's body. Somewhere in time a semantic shift occurred in the minds of enough people that it has now reached the level of law where we see a classic battle between a reform-minded, liberal federal government and that old standby of conservatives and bigots, states' rights.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, N.C. Governor Pat McCrory and US Attorney General Loretta LynchTexas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, N.C. Governor Pat McCrory and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch
 

In North Carolina, a law known as HB2 was passed that limits protections for LGBT people and requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the gender noted by a physician on their birth certificate. That sounds nice and neat -- certainly to the conservative and bigoted mind. But what if one was born with real, physical ambiguity down in the pudendum area? Or what if a cocktail of chemical hormones and life experience led someone to see and feel him- or herself differently than the working stiff did who noted an infant's gender on a birth certificate -- or for that matter, feeling different about oneself than the socially- and politically-correct views of certain southern, God-fearing conservatives? What if Norman Mailer, who is dead, was wrong when he wrote that little anti-feminist gem I read titled Prisoner Of Sex? Of course, many of us loved the strutting pugilistic Uncle Norman, especially when he protested the Vietnam War; but, then, Norman was famous for being a magnificent, often drunken, asshole.

Hysteria Over Zika Spreads Faster than Zika Itself

Zika virus blinding us to public health issues that really matter

 
Zika has been described as extraordinary in so many ways. But the only thing that’s really extraordinary about the whole thing is how incredibly dispassionate I am about it.

At this point, even extraterrestrials have probably heard that the World Health Organization declared the recent spread of the Zika virus an international public health emergency. That sounds pretty scary. It’s only the fourth time that the WHO has ever declared a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern) so it seems like it ought to be a big deal.

However, it’s important to keep things in perspective. As of May 4, there were 1,278 confirmed cases of microcephaly, the birth defect linked to Zika virus infection that causes an abnormally small head and brain. There are approximately 250 suspected neonatal and fetal deaths. In comparison, the last PHEIC was the Ebola virus outbreak of 2014. The current total number of reported cases of Ebola is 28,616 causing 11,310 deaths. Finally, the WHO estimates that the annual run-of-the-mill flu season – not famous epidemics like the Swine Flucauses 250,000 to 500,000 deaths every year around the world.
  
Illuminating GraphIlluminating Graph
I understand how Zika tugs on our heartstrings. Babies are precious, innocent, and full of potential. But I would like to point out that children are also precious and worth protecting and I have yet to see a media blitz or public outcry as passionate for the over 300,000 children who suffer from physical abuse every year in the United States alone.

Please contribute to Our Indiegogo Campaign to Raise Funds to Support Investigative Reporting on the TCBH! Site

We need this fund-raiser to go viral, so send out the word!

 

We know from site-monitoring stats that ThisCantBeHappening.net has developed a devoted regular following of several tens of thousands of daily readers who visit our site regularly to get news and opinions they can't find elsewhere. On that basis, we a few months ago kicked of a fund-raiser on Indiegogo aimed at raising $50,000 to support our work -- specifically to fund the hard-hitting reporting we do here to get out the truth that the rest of the media ignore, cover-up, or misreport.

So far, the result has been dismal -- just a few hundred dollars! Not only are people not ponying up and giving what they can (even $5 would be great if it came in from many readers).

Even more disappointingly, our readers aren't even making the effort to help the fundraiser go viral by going to the Indiegogo site and using the links there to help make it go viral on Facebook and Twitter.

That's a disaster, and we need to urge you, our readers, to do better. If you can spare even a few bucks, please make a contribution to the fundraiser. If you can't, then at least promote it on the Indiegogo site so someone else will contribute!

Look, we shouldn't have to explain this, but here's how it works: We in the TCBH! collective don't get paid for our work. We do this out of a sense of journalistic and political commitment, but because we all have families and have to make a living, we do it in our spare time, which limits what we can accomplish. If you value our work and value this site, we need you to make some kind of cash contribution, and we need you to promote our fund-raiser to everyone you know. If that happens, we should be able to raise enough money that we will be able to devote real time to the project, and not just spare moments.

So please. help this fund-raiser to take off!

Thank you from all of us here at TCBH!:

Linn Washington, John Grant, Dave Lindorff, Gary Lindorff, Jess Guh, Alfredo Lopez, Lori Spencer and the late Charles M. YoungThe TCBH! Collective: Linn Washington, John Grant, Dave Lindorff, Gary Lindorff, Jess Guh, Alfredo Lopez, Lori Spencer and the late but ever-present Charles M. Young

Free College for All Worked in the US for 100 Years Until Elite Took It Away

Bernie's right on free tuition -- we had it once

 

Editors' Note: In the increasingly tight and bitter contest for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, candidate Bernie Sanders has gained critical and enthusiastic support from young people in part because of his stirring call for free public college education -- no surprise given that student college debt has passed the $1.3-trillion mark. Critics, including Sanders’ opponent Hillary Clinton, say he is proposing an unaffordable fantasy, though his plan sensibly calls for funding the idea with a tax on speculative stock and bond trading. In reality though, Sanders’ idea of free college (which is offered in most of Europe) is hardly a new idea in the US. Indeed, it’s the way things used to be here as recently as the 1960s -- a point voters in upcoming primaries like the ones to be held in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware next Tuesday should bear in mind. Robert M. Nelson (CCNY ’66), a Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, recalls in the following article, free college was actually taken away by the country’s ruling elite not that long ago. As Nelson writes:
 

In 1837, a remarkable politician, Horace Mann, became Massachusetts’ Secretary of Education. He argued successfully that universal, public, nonsectarian education in culturally diverse common schools was imperative for our new nation. Mann’s idea spread like wildfire. The free common school concept was adopted in every state in the union.

After the Civil War, the free tuition principle was expanded to include higher education. It worked brilliantly for a century for millions of Americans, including me. 

A Pathway for Immigrant and Working Class Children

In 1966 I finished college. I joined my sister as the first generation of our family to cross the divide. My father was an immigrant; my mother was the daughter of immigrants. The family had little wealth to show despite their life of hard work.  

How could low-paid immigrant families and ordinary dirt-poor working-class families send their kids to college? It was simple. I graduated from the City College of New York. My sister graduated from Brooklyn College. Both schools were tuition-free. It's easy to forget in today's America where the "free market" is the national religion that it's the way things still were a just half a century ago. 

CCNY was founded as the Free Academy of the City of New York in 1847. Its mission was to provide the sons of immigrants and the poor with access to college education. In 1870, Hunter College was founded for New York’s young women. In 1930, Brooklyn College became New York’s third tuition-free college.

CCNY students at a 1968 protest against tuition charges at New York's oldest public, and once free, universityCCNY students at a 1968 protest against tuition charges at New York's oldest public, and once free, university
 

For more than a century the taxpayers of New York provided free higher education to all who qualified. Graduates of that system include a child of immigrants from Jamaica, Secretary of State Colin Powell (CCNY ’58), the daughter of an immigrant from Austria, Sen. Barbara Boxer (Brooklyn College ’62), and former NASA Administrator Dan Goldin, (CCNY ’62).

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