Monday, August 3, 2015
If you haven't heard of the Angola 3, you could be forgiven.
The "system" effectively buried these men, and made every attempt to erase them like dissident proles in Orwell's 1984.
The Angola 3 are Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace, and Robert King. "Angola" is the nickname of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, drawn from the name of the former slave plantation upon which it is built. It is America’s largest prison (18,000 acres) and it has a horrifying history.
Incarcerated in 1971 for robbery, the three started a Black Panther Party branch inside Angola and attempted to tell the world about the inhumane conditions of the prison. Then, in 1972, Wallace and Woodfox were convicted of killing a prison guard. Since then the case against them has been completely discredited.
Herman Wallace spent almost 42 years in Angola – nearly all of them in solitary confinement. He was released in 2013 and died three days later of liver cancer.
Robert King (aka Robert King Wilkerson) was released in 2001 – after his conviction for killing a fellow inmate was overturned – having served 31 years, 29 in solitary.
Albert Woodfox, now 68, remains in Angola and it is believed that he has possibly spent more time in solitary confinement than any other prisoner in U.S. history – over 40 years. Woodfox was twice convicted of the murder of the prison guard with both convictions being overturned. Then he was indicted a third time! Woodfox was recently granted his freedom but remains locked up while the court weighs an appeal filed by Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell -- think about that. He is in extremely poor health, suffering from Hepatitis C, diabetes, renal failure and a history hyper-tension.
Incidentally, the cells in which the Angola were/are held in solitary measure just 9 feet by 6 feet.
The Angola 3 represent the epitome of persecution of political prisoners in this country. There is no lawful reason any of these men should have served long terms. And there was no lawful reason they should have been kept in solitary confinement – the fear was that, as activists, they would “infect” the general prison population with notions of just treatment.
Furthermore, their cases have highlighted the savagery of keeping human beings in solitary confinement and, over the years, sympathizers around the world have fought for their release.
Please visit Amnesty International HERE and sign a petition to free Albert Woodfox.
Go HERE to visit the site of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3.
The case of the Angola 3 belies America's claims to being just, respecting dissent, and abhorring torture. It is up to us, the citizenry, to right such wrongs and to hold accountable the real criminals.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Leonard Peltier is a Native American hero whom the American government has kept locked up for almost 40 years, much of it in solitary confinement.
Peltier was jailed for murder after two FBI agents were killed on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975. The case against Peltier was weak at the time and has since been thoroughly discredited -- yet Leonard Peltier remains in prison at age 70 and in failing health.
The FBI was determined to get somebody for the death of its two agents and it didn't care who. Peltier was an outspoken activist for Native American rights and someone who had crossed the FBI's line of vision before. And though the FBI's notorious COINTELPRO program had officially ended in 1971, the Agency's mentality was much the same.
You can read about the flaws in, and dirty tactics of, the prosecution case against Peltier HERE.
This short YouTube video shows one of Peltier's former prison guards speaking on Leonard's behalf and exposing how Peltier has been persecuted.
The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said of Peltier's trial: "Much of the government's behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed."
In 1999, Leonard published a book telling his side of the story -- and quite a bit about himself as a person. I highly recommend Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance. Not only is it a great insider's account of the Pine Ridge incident, our "justice" system, and our horrendous prisons, it is one of the most inspiring books you will ever read. Despite all the tortures of the system, Leonard Peltier has kept his dignity, his optimism, and his belief in the goodness in people.
Free Leonard Peltier!
|An excellent documentary|
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
|How do you like your flesh, medium or well done?|
If we're not already fucked, the point of no return, vis-a-vis climate change/global warming, is frighteningly close.
Already the planet is shaping up for its hottest year on record. And it isn't very comforting to know that the previous hottest was just five years ago. Or that the hottest 17 years on record have all been since 1998.
If you care about the planet, our species, your kids, anything, you might want to start giving the politicians hell about fossil fuels.
Don't get burned,
PS: Political prisoners profiles coming up.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
When you hear the term "political prisoners" you probably think of some South American dictatorship or religion-ripped country in the Middle East.
After doing considerable reading on various civil rights groups, dissidents, and whistleblowers, I'm staggered by how many of these folks -- who have broken no laws of the land -- have been locked up in the United States. I'm talking decades of imprisonment. In some cases, decades in solitary confinement.
We are a torture nation. We have to accept that fact and deal with it and not pat ourselves on the back as some kind of paragon of justice. That is far from the truth.
In my next several blog posts, I am going to look at some of these people. People who deserve our support. People who are rotting away in abhorrent conditions because they stood up to power and tried to do what was right.
I hope you'll take a look at each one and feel as angry and as compelled to act as I do.
Friday, July 17, 2015
We consume way too much.
Look at your weekly trash and recycling. Look at the over-sized living spaces many people have. The titanic cars (how often do you see an SUV the size of a block of apartments with one person in it?) Check out the excessive packaging that groceries and other goods come in. Our ecological footprints are insane.
I believe in recycling, even though I know that a decent chunk of what we recycle just gets dumped in a Third World country and pollutes their backyard, not ours. And I believe in being creative when it comes to recycling.
Over the years I've made do nicely with items of furniture I basically scavenged. Don't laugh... hear me out, compadres. I can't believe what some people put out with their trash! The desk I'm working at right now was procured from a sidewalk one evening. I carried it home (it's small), sanded it, put a couple of coats of varnish on it, and it's been awesome. I've had it 10 years.
I've found all kinds of items this way. I'm not talking about junk: I'm talking about very functional, and often quite aesthetically pleasing, pieces of furniture. Why do people just junk them? Okay, they want to upgrade or whatever. Why not give the stuff to charity. They'll probably even come and pick it up. Or list it in the "Free" section (under "For Sale") on Craigslist? There's some great stuff in there -- check it out.
Anyway, we need to trash our throw-away mentality. The world's population is growing and our natural resources and biosphere are both finite. Be sensible, be generous, be practical.
PS: Hopefully you don't buy bottled water -- the great scam and new polluter of our time. Get a faucet filter or filtered jug and use tap water. In most parts of the U.S. it's good quality and much better treated than bottled water. And get yourself a reusable bottle. Everyone wins.
Friday, July 10, 2015
|Are you okay with this?|
A new 542-page report that shows psychologists helped cover up the use of torture in the Bush II era has just been released.
You can read the full story in the New York Times HERE.
Not that we didn't already know about America's history of torture. But how much evidence do you have to have before high-ranking officials are thrown in prison for a long, long time? Well, clearly the answer is that evidence isn't going to do it. It's shrugged off by the system. Only mass protest and demands will change any of this.
And let's not forget that U.S. torture isn't just confined to the Bush II era.
Let the bastards know that, as a human being of conscience, you will not accept this from your "leaders"!
PS: Here's a good example of how politicians evade the torture issue. Criminals all.