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“A Conversation with Dr. Jill Stein” on “I Take LIBERTY With My Coffee”

Liberty Coffee Trans

Dr. Jill Ellen Stein is physician specializing in internal medicine. She also was the nominee of the Green Party for President of the United States in 2012..Dr.Stein was a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in the 2002 and the 2010 gubernatorial elections. Dr. Stein has continued to be a strong voice for a wide array of important issues in our society.  Money in Politics, the TPP, Campaign Donations, Corporate Personhood, Marriage Equality, Prison Industrial Complex and Mass Incarceration, Voting Rights, Ballot Access, Poverty and Police Brutality and Militarization.  The list is long and Dr.Stein has been shining the light on all these issues for a number of years now. Dr. Stein joins me to discuss all these issues and why they are important and offers her solutions. We will have the latest in breaking important news subject and our weeklyEducation Update. So grab a cup of coffee and please join us for this important discussion.

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No More Than One Million Dollars Right Now says Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush

March 25, 2015 (Liberty)

A series of recent reports state that the Jeb Bush Campaign has contacted big donors and requested that they cap their donations at one million dollars.  This move has come as a surprise to Campaign Finance experts and insiders in this post “Citizen United” world and indicates that the amount of funding accumulated by the Bush Campaign has already in the tens of millions.

In the 2014 mid-term elections, more money was donated and spent than ever before.  It was also reported that while there was more money, there was, in fact, fewer donors.  Open Secrets detailed this information this past February showing how there was an 11% decrease in donors, but, the amounts donated increased.  Money-in-Politics

 “Simply put, more money went into the system, but fewer people provided it.”

With the Presidential Election next Campaign Donations seriously increases.  Jeb Bush is headlining a series of fundraisers being put on by The Right to Rise Super Pac, the organization founded by Bush. The notification was sent out in relation to fundraiser schedule indicating that the Bush war chest is already immense and, as veteran GOP Fundraiser Howard Leach, who confirmed the cap of one million dollar donations, recently told the Washington Post, just after co-hosting a fundraiser for Bush in Florida,

“They need substantial funds, but they don’t want the focus to be on money.”

Jeb Bush is essentially averaging one fundraiser per day and his fundraising ability has no potential GOP opponent even coming close. Meanwhile, Jeb Bush has yet to formally declare that he is in fact running for President. It appears the Bush will easily surpass the $12,000,000.00 raised in six months by Romney Super Pac Restore Our Future.  As Leach also told the Washington Post,

“He knows of “numerous” people across the country who have already given $1 million.”

In the coming weeks, Bush is scheduled to headline additional fundraisers in prime locations in Denver; Sea Island, Ga.and Boca Raton, Fla.. Bush will also be co-hosting a breakfast fundraiser in Atlanta’s premier elite Capital City Club with the price set at $25,000 per person.

Money in politics is thriving.

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Ellen Pao Sex Discrimination Case Goes To The Jury

SAN FRANCISCO — The fate of Ellen Pao’s lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers now rests in the hands of 12 jurors, who on Wednesday began deliberating one of the most intensely watched sex discrimination cases in Silicon Valley. The jury is charged with reaching a verdict on Pao’s four claims against… Continue reading Ellen Pao Sex Discrimination Case Goes To The Jury

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Kansas Legislature Passes Abortion Bill That Would Break New Ground

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Legislature on Wednesday became the first in the country to pass a ban on a procedure often used in the second trimester of pregnancy. Abortion foes targeted the technique as a “grotesque” dismemberment of a fetus. The procedure is used in about 8 percent of all abortions in Kansas. The Kansas… Continue reading Kansas Legislature Passes Abortion Bill That Would Break New Ground

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“The Destruction of Public Education” on “I Take LIBERTY With My Coffee”

 

Liberty Coffee The Destruction of Public Education_out

Our Public Education is being destroyed. It’s as simple as that. Common Core, Race to the Top, Charter School Disinformation and Money, Money, Money. In New York, a battle rages that dates back to misappropriation of Public School Funds, Cuomo trying to cut Public Education and give money to charter schools and, of course, Common Core. Created by businessmen and shoved down the throats of parents and teachers with a focus on testing, Common Core is the cherry on top of the continued push to turn Public Education into a business. Joining me today is Teacher/Activist Marla Kilfoyle. Marla, a manager of Badass Teacher Association has been a parent advocate on Long Island in such groups as Parents and Teachers Against Common Core and LI Opt-Out. Marla has been a teacher in the Social Studies Department at Oceanside High School (NY) for 27 years. Also joining us Kenneth Hughes, public school teacher for 28 years who is watching the school where he teaches suffer from the budget shortfalls manipulated over the past decade and is looking more budget cuts direct in the face. These issues in New York and throughout the country are as important as any in our society. So grab a cup of coffee and join us.

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Throw Back Thursday? No! Racist Thursday!

March 19, 2015 Alaska (TVOI)

Over the years, we have come up with names for our fun. Wednesday is Hump Day. Middle of the week, the bridge from the lousy start of the week that connects us to the end of the week and fun. They call it Stormy Monday. The horrible beginning with its desperate cries for more coffee. Our Rock & Roll stations and its “Two for Tuesday” music schedule. Remember when Donna Summer introduced us toT.G.I.F.? Calling out the end of the work week and the beginning of the fun and weekend.

ArmyThursday. I remember we use to call it “Thirsty Thursday”. Then it became “Throwback Thursday”. Now, according to the soldiers who belong to 2nd Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, we now have “Racist Thursday”!

The Army Times is reporting that Alaska Command has assigned an investigating officer after a complaint was filed alleging a “tradition” at Fort Wainwright where soldiers use racial slurs and names when addressing each other. A clear violation of Army Regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The complaint alleges that soldiers were given a free pass to address each other in this way. The article does not state who authorized this “free pass” but one has to believe it was someone in the Fort Wainwright Command.

This particular unit of the Army has other allegations similar to this in the past. Army PVT. Danny Chen, who belonged to C Company, committed suicide Oct. 3, 2011 while deployed to Afghanistan. Authorities said Chen killed himself because he was hazed over his Chinese ancestry. Specifically

“Chen was called names while in training, then was subjected to hazing after he was deployed to Afghanistan, according to his family. On the day of his death, Chen was forced to crawl about 100 yards across gravel carrying his equipment while his fellow soldiers threw rocks at him, the family said.”

At least eight soldiers were either court-martialed or administratively punished in the case.

Lt. Col. Alan Brown, a spokesman for the command. emphasized that at present this was only an informal investigation and further stated that these allegations were in no way connected to the incident that resulted in Chen’s suicide.

The Army Times further reported:

“The NCO who spoke to Army Times said he filed an equal opportunity complaint against his platoon leader, who allegedly encouraged “Racial Thursdays” as a way to build morale and camaraderie.

“It’s a shame that it’s coming to this, but I’m not even making this up. I’m not making any of this up,” he said. “Somebody needs to be relieved.”

Another soldier in the unit, a junior enlisted who also asked to remain anonymous, verified what the NCO told Army Times.”

The junior soldier said he didn’t expect to encounter incidents like “Racial Thursdays” in the Army.

This is a developing story

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Citizen Journalist Thrown Out of City Council Receives $200,000 Settlement

Scales of Justice

 

March 19, 2015 Forsyth County, GA (Liberty)

In a victory that should be celebrated by journalists and activists alike, Citizen Journalist Nydia Tisdale announced a settlement with the Mayor and the Chief of      Police in Cumming, GA from her Federal lawsuit that was getting ready to go to trial in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Tisdale had filed a    complaint after she was was banned from filming Cumming City Council meeting on April 17, 2012.

  As pointed out on Nydia’s website the following took place:

“On April 17, 2012, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law an updated version of Georgia’s Sunshine Laws to take effect immediately upon signature. Video recording of open-and-public meetings was allowed in the old law and in the new law.

Hours later the same day, Tisdale attempted to video record the Cumming City Council meeting where discussion of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between Forsyth County and the City of Cumming for raw and finished water was taking place. The city holds the permit to withdraw water from Lake Lanier and the county purchases water from the city. The 30-year contract was about to expire.

Tisdale had previously filmed Mayor H. Ford Gravitt and the Cumming City Council across the street at the Forsyth County Administration Building at open-and-public meetings. But, the very first time she set foot inside Cumming City Hall, she was tossed out for carrying her camera into council chambers. 

nydia
Tisdale situated her tripod, mounted her video camera atop and began filming moments before the meeting. The Mayor called the meeting to order and then said, “First of all, a little house cleaning. Uh, Chief Tatum, if you would, remove the camera from — from the auditorium. We don’t allow filming inside of the city hall here unless it’s specific reasons, so if you would remove the camera.”   

“Respectfully, Mayor … I am exercising my right as a citizen to record this meeting,” Tisdale asserted her right to film.

Mayor Gravitt told Tisdale, “It’s not for discussion,” and again ordered Police Chief Casey Tatum to remove the camera.

Two armed police officers — Chief Tatum and Deputy Chief Walter “Clyde” Cook — grabbed both of her arms and her tripod with her Sony camcorder attached. “Sir! This is an open and public meeting! I have a right by Georgia law to film this meeting!” protested Tisdale.”

Nydia then decided to make the authorities answer for their actions by filing a Title 42 U.S.C. 1983 Complaint asserting that the defendants violated her Constitutional Protections under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.  On September 30, 2014. in a 41-page decision Judge Story denied Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in part and allowed the case to move forward to the trial calendar.

The defendant’s the Daily Report quote’s Nydia’s Attorney as stating, “fought the litigation vigorously, which led to a significant monetary resolution.”  Depositions were taken and Nydia posted the videotaped testimony on her YouTube channel.  Mediation failed and the trial loomed as Nydia stood her ground.  As a result, she was awarded the $200,000.00 settlement.

Nydia’s attorney, Gerry Weber, speaking to the Daily Report, called the settlement

a tremendous victory for the right of citizens to be a government watchdog. Nydia plays an increasingly non-rare role as a citizen journalist. She has done such tremendous work. This is really not only recognition of her First Amendment rights but also a testament to the importance of her work.”

The case, he said, is also “part of a growing body of case law around citizens’ rights to film both police conduct and government meetings.”

I want to applaud Nydia Tisdale and also thank her for standing up for the unconstitutional actions of government officials, holding them accountable while demanding transparency of a government entity.

The case is called Tisdale v Gravitt Et Al  Civil Action NO. 2:12-CV-00145-RWS U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

 

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Oral Arguments Set for New Jersey Voter Appeal

 

 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (TFC) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit will hear oral arguments Tuesday morning in the appeal of the District Court decision in the case of Balsam v Guadagno concerning voter eligibility in the New Jersey primary elections. US District Court Judge Stanley Chesler had granted a Summary Dismissal with Prejudice at the request of the State of New Jersey this past August.

Voting

In March of 2014 the Independent Voter Project along with Mr. Balsam, six other individuals, and a coalitions of non-profit organizations joined together and filed a Complaint in the U.S. District Court under the Civil Rights’ Statute 42 U.S.C. 1983. In the Complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that their protected rights under the 1st and 14th Amendments were violated by the State of New Jersey’s requirement that voters must be registered as either a Democrat or Republican in order to participate in the Election Primary process for either Party.  The paintiffs’ foundation for the Complaint was based in part that fewer than 8% of all registered voters participated in New Jersey’s last primary election at a cost of $12 million to the taxpayers. This amounted to more than $92 per vote cast. Furthermore, 2.6 million New Jersey voters were not allowed to vote in the primary election unless they joined either the Republican or Democratic Party.

Plaintiffs alleged that, due to the fact that since taxpayer money funded the primaries for two “Private Parties,” participation from any voter cannot be barred. Plaintiffs also argued that both the U.S. and the State of New Jersey Constitutions protected voters from being required to join a political party in order to vote in the primary of either party.  Further, the Plaintiff stated in Paragraph 4 of the Complaint,

“A primary election is often the most important part of the electoral process … By denying over 2.6 million New Jersey voters the right to cast a vote in the primary election, the State has disenfranchised nearly half of its electorate, and thereby, given private political parties and partisan voters a greater and unequal access to the voting franchise. As a result, New Jersey’s elections are not free, not equal, and not constitutional for the reasons demonstrated herein.”

The State of New Jersey filed a Motion to Dismiss, and Judge Chesler agreed with the State, issuing an unpublished opinion in August.  Summary Dismissal of a case is a drastic ruling, as it is usually issued when the Court determines that there is not an issue of fact or subject matter jurisdiction in a case.  Judge Chesler based his dismissal on two premises. First, he stated,

Any attempt to use the Constitution to pry open a state-sanctioned closed primary system is precluded by current Supreme Court doctrine, and Plaintiffs’ federal claims must therefore be dismissed. Specifically, “[t]he Supreme Court has emphasized – with increasing firmness – that the First Amendment Guarantees a political party great leeway in governing its own affairs.

Further, Chesler said, Defendants are correct that the Eleventh Amendment operates to bar Plaintiffs’ state law official capacity claims against Defendant.  The Court is therefore without subject matter jurisdiction to hear those claims.”

Voting 1

Judge Chesler never addressed the merits of the taxpayer funding issue and the Plaintiffs appealed the decision.  In their appeal the Plaintiffs ask the following questions:

  • Are the State of New Jersey’s non-presidential primary elections an integral stage of the election process in New Jersey?
  • Does every voter have a fundamental right to vote in all integral stages of an election?
  • Do appellants state a claim under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when the state creates two classes of voters: (i) registered voters who ‘qualify’ to vote in primary elections by virtue of joining the Democratic or Republican political parties; and, (ii) registered voters who are not ‘qualified’ to vote in primary elections because they have not joined the Republican or Democratic parties?
  • Do appellants state a claim under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when the state requires voters to join the Republican or Democratic parties as a condition to gaining access to an integral stage of the state’s election process?
  • Did the lower court err by relying on precedent related to a political party’s right to control their candidate nomination proceedings, rather than precedent related to rights of individual voters to participate in the election process?

This case has far-reaching implications in New Jersey and nationally as we cycle through to the next election process.  Clearly, if all New Jersey voters must join a party to participate in the Primary Elections, continued voter apathy and low turnouts should be expected as voters continue to feel disenfranchised.

This is a developing story.

 

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“28 Years As A Police Officer” a conversation on “I Take LIBERTY With My Coffee”

 

Liberty Banner (black)

The discussion about Police in our society has changed. The Militarization of our local police departments, daily reports of police brutality, lack of transparency and police policy that undermines Constitutional Protections, With so much negative happening and being reported the larger “positives” are forgotten. Like our society, the majority of people who join the Police do so for the right reasons. Serve and protect. A life of sacrifice and peril. A life of good works. With this in mind, I introduce you to Stefan Komar of the NYPD. A person who understands history, activism and the good fight. The son of a hero member of the Polish Underground during World War II. A man who loves his work and his community and the law. Mr. Komar will not be speaking on behalf of the NYPD in any way, but for himself. Please join us for a frank discussion about his choices, observations. good works and beliefs during his 28-year career. Have a cup of coffee with a real Police Officer.

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The Mass Incarceration of America: How Did We Let This Happen? (Part 1)

 

Robert Rodrigo
March 9, 2014

(ANTIMEDIA) In the last couple of days I’ve come across a number of new stories that started me to revisit the issue of incarceration in this country. It is common, for example, to see a headline every few days on how the United States, with only 5% of the world’s population, houses 25% of the world’s incarcerated. From time to time, we hear about prison overpopulation, the privatization of our prisons, creating prisons for profit, and the drug war with its valiant battle to end prohibition of marijuana for medical and recreational use. Occasionally, we’ll hear about the random prison break, or an  inmate strike or riots and sometimes mainstream media even reports about the enforcement of a court order fixing problems within a certain confinement facility. Overall though, society ignores our prison system day in and day out; right after all the commotion has passed. You learn about the crime, follow the trial (or plea bargain), and anticipate the sentence. Once all that is done, we don’t pay attention to what’s next. Why would we? After all, the system worked; we are now safe, lock up those criminals and throw away the key.

It really should not be any surprise. We do live in a surveillance state after all. There is presently a law in the books that allows for indefinite detention of anyone, anywhere, under the jurisdiction of the United States. We have just revealed that we torture people under the guise of national security. We have become tolerant to less due process and other unconstitutional behavior by an obviously expanding police state in this country. I happened to be watching an episode of Law and Order SVU earlier this evening and was reminded of how Hollywood expands on the police state narrative daily. It reminded me of all those times I’ve heard the words “Patriot Act,”  “Guantánamo Bay,” and “Gitmo” on the highly successful show, NCIS.

The question I can’t seem to answer is: “How did we let this happen?” How do we go about our lives and ignore the travesty of the prison industrial complex in this country? When did we disregard justice so easily? When did we throw freedom to the wind? I decided to find out.
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There are several factors that are the foundation for the growth in prison population.  I will discuss some of these factors one at a time. The first important factor up for discussion was a fundamental change in sentencing policy.  It transitioned from an indeterminate, rehabilitation-based system to the punitive, determinate sentencing system we currently have in most jurisdictions.

It is widely known that President Johnson, reacting to a growing “concern” that the sentencing system in place at that time was not working, called for a reform on the Federal Criminal Code.  On March 9, 1966 , he stated to Congress, in part:

I propose a three-stage national strategy. The first stage is an agenda for immediate action. These are the legislative steps we already know are needed–steps that should be taken without hesitation or delay. The second stage is development of a comprehensive agenda of direct steps based on experiment and assessment for the future. The third stage is a still broader agenda, an attack not only against crime directly, but against the roots from which it springs. These three stages involve varying resources and commitments. But we must proceed on each of them with equal force-and we must do so now.

US_incarceration_timeline2This became known at President Johnson’s “National Strategy on Crime.”

The Brown Commission was now formed, named after California Governor Edmund G. Brown, the Commission’s Chairman. The commission consisted of three Presidential Appointees, three member of the Senate, three members of the House and three Federal Judges.

The Brown Commission’s report released five years later amplified the growing concern relative to the disparity in sentencing. Civil Rights Advocates assailed the “unequal” treatment of poor persons and minorities when sentenced to crime analogous to persons who had money, private representation, and, who were white.  Lack of fairness was the rallying cry from the left.  Legislation with bipartisan support was introduced in 1973.  Senator McClellan’s effort would be joined two years later by Senator Kennedy.  It was at this time, we first heard the call for a sentencing commission. The idea was to create a “fair” system of sentencing.  Removing any discretion from the sentencing judge, it was widely believed, would reign in the unequal treatment of minorities and the poor.  What is of note here is that Kennedy’s work was based largely on the writings of Federal Judge Marvin Frankel who authored Criminal Sentences: Law without Order. In it, Franker criticized the sentencing discretion of judges as well as the federal parole system. Even though sentencing reform would still be a decade away, the call for “fairness” and determinate sentencing grew.

The following decade saw various attempts at reform.  Subcommittees in both houses of Congress picked and poked at sentencing reform and then the call for punishment was added to the “fairness” discussion.  While Senators Kennedy and McClellan worked on reform, the Parole Board started working on its own internal review of policy. In 1976, Congress codified the Parole Commission guidelines for parole decisions. The beginning of the end of “discretion.”

The United States prison population was starting to grow. Now, I suppose some people would say we had become better at policing crime. Certainly we had already started to create many laws that both, punished more criminal actions with incarceration, as well as making those sentences longer. In 1976, the US Supreme Court told us that executing prisoners was now legal. Then in 1980, the Mental Health Systems act was signed into law, essentially, providing funding for community mental health programs in the face of the deinstitutionalization of mental health hospitals.

Also, significant in 1980, our first 24-hour, seven-day-a-week television news show aired in the United States on CNN.

With this as a backdrop , and the hostage crisis in Iran happening, along came Ronald Reagan.

One of the legacies of the Reagan presidency was the expansion of our prison population and a change from reformation to punishment as a criminal justice policy. One of the first things President Reagan requested from Congress was the repeal of that same mental health systems act. Reagan also decreased funding for mental health by 25%; this was just the beginning. With the call for a “fair” system of justice, Reagan added the “punishment aspect” to the call for reform and this message created the necessary bipartisan push  to “reform” the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Meanwhile, connected to this punishment call by Reagan and his administration, was the call for privatization including prisons.  Behavioral Systems won a contract to house INS detainees in 1983. The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) commenced operation of its first contract facility in 1984, opening a 350-bed INS detention center in Houston, Texas. The first contract to operate a state prison for adult prisoners was won in 1985 by U.S. Corrections Corporation. The firm opened a minimum-security 200-bed facility in St. Mary, Kentucky. By 1988, some 28 states were said to allow private operation of non-secure or minimum security correctional facilities — from halfway houses and juvenile group homes to detention centers for undocumented immigrants and prisons.

Business was good.  More people were being sent to prison and corporations were making money by housing those prisoners.  The natural result was lobbying dollars started walking the hallways of Congress resulting in legislation and regulation that ensured prisoner growth and the wealth of private prison.  Naturally, Wall Street took notice as the private prison industry was loved by growth investors of the next ten years peaking in 1997. when CCA alone was worth $3.5 billion at its apex trading of $45.00 per share.

The federal prison population, mainly due to the war on drugs and the abolition of parole, was growing at a rate that saw a boom in federal prisons being built, as well as Congress directing the Bureau of Prisons to find private beds to house some prisoners.  Meanwhile the private prison industry was falling apart. Mired in human rights violations, lawsuits, prisoner escapes, riots and violence, the “bottom line” disappeared and turned in to taxpayer funded bailouts and fixes increasing the overall cost of incarceration and straining many state budgets.

None of this stopped the mass incarceration of prisoners though.  Georgia prisons constructed bunk beds three beds high. Prisoners in the Los Angeles County Jail system stayed in transit up to three days at a time, due to no bed space. Inmates slept on the roof of the LA County Jail due to the extreme overcrowding; all the floor space inside the building was already taken up. With two million people in jail, countless more on probation, and parole where those systems still existed, someone must be making some money, right?

The how and why our prison industry has grown to be the largest in the world is of paramount importance in our society today.  We must repair what we have allowed to be broken for all these years and we must do so now. Stay tuned to Anti-Media for Part 2 of this in-depth analysis of the incarceration system in the United States.