Human Rights & Individual Liberties
November 24th – The New York Times – From Plains to Both Coasts, Fury Boils Over
Thousands took the streets in Ferguson, Mo last night, to protest the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. Marches and demonstrations took place all over the country, from New York to Los Angeles, with several arrests being reported in Oakland, Ca.
Following the decision, Michael Brown’s family said in a statement: “while we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.”
In Washington, Representative Marcia Fudge, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus called the Grand Jury’s decision “a miscarriage of justice.” She said “it is a slap in the face to Americans nationwide who continue to hope and believe that justice will prevail.”
November 24th – BBC News – Tamir Rice: US Police Kill Boy, 12, Carrying Replica Gun
A 12-year-old boy carrying a replica gun was shot dead by police yesterday in Cleveland, Oh. Cleveland deputy police chief said young Tamir Rice was shot twice, after pulling what turned out being an “airsoft” replica gun from the waistband of his trousers. A recording of the 911 call made by the man who reported the accident reveals that the latter suspected the gun to be fake.
Rice’s father says the police should have used a stun gun.“Why not Tase him?” he was quoted as asking by Cleveland.com.“(They) shot him twice, not once, and at the end of the day you all don’t shoot for the legs, you shoot for the upper body,” he added.
November 22nd – The New Yorker – The Immigrants Excluded by Obama’s New Plan
Last Thursday, Barack Obama announced a plan to allow, under certain conditions, undocumented immigrants to legally stay in the U.S. Those who have lived the country for more than 5 years, that have children who are legal American citizens or illegal residents, will be granted the right to “stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation”, Obama said. Candidates must also accept to register, pass a criminal background check and be willing to pay their fair share of taxes, the President explained.
However, some immigrant activists consider the plan leaves aside a vast array of people : “What about those who have lived in the U.S. for decades but don’t have children, including many gay and lesbian immigrants? What about young recent immigrants who fled violence at home?”…
Activists also highlight that “the measures singled out in the speech were only one part of a broader plan that also includes new priorities for deportation and stronger border security”. Last year, the number of deportations from the U.S. reached a record high, of more than four hundred and thirty thousand, the New Yorker reports.
November 21st, The Guardian, America’s longest-serving prisoner in solitary has conviction quashed
Former Black Panther Albert Woodfox was freed earlier last week, after spending 42 years in solitary confinement. Back in 1972, he was convicted for the murder a guard in Angola prison, in Louisiana, where he was serving time for armed robbery. Woodfox has always claimed his innocence, insisting that “he and his Angola Three fellows were victims of a political vendetta because of their then membership in the Black Panther party”, the Guardian reports.
The US Court of Appeal for the 5th Circuit ruled for “a racial bias”, explaining the man had been held in a 6x8ft cell, enduring psychological impact of isolation exacerbated by chronic claustrophobia, for all but three years since he was put in “closed cell restriction”.
An opinion piece published in the New York Times last week explains “a United Nations expert has said that more than 15 days may amount to torture. When it is imposed for more than 40 years, it is barbaric beyond measure”.
Environment and Sustainable Development
November 18th, Democracy Now, Senate Votes No on Keystone XL Oil Pipeline; Watch Naomi Klein Discuss the Controversial Project
Last Tuesday, the Senate narrowly missed a 60-vote threshold required to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. the 14 Democrats and 45 Republicans supporters fell just one vote short of the minimum to pass.
Climate activist and author Naomi Klein discussed the pipeline proposal on Democracy Now. “Keystone is a pipeline that is intimately linked to plans by the oil and gas industry to dramatically expand production in the Alberta tar sands”, she warned before adding that the project will have “tremendous local impacts to indigenous people living in that region, violating their treaty rights”.