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by Desmond Tutu
For 27 years, I knew Nelson Mandela by reputation only. I had seen him once, in the early 1950s, when he came to my teacher-training college to judge a debating contest. The next time I saw him was in 1990.
When he came out of prison, many people feared he would turn out to have feet of clay. The idea that he might live up to his reputation seemed too good to be true. A whisper went around that some in the ANC said he was a lot more useful in jail than outside.
by John Nichols
Florida Congressman Trey Radel, who has wisely determined that he does not want to become an American version of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, says he will take a leave of absence from the US House of Representatives to address his penchant for cocaine.
“I’m struggling with this disease, but I know that I can overcome it,” explains the conservative Republican.
Fair enough. The congressman wants to finally deal with an addiction problem he says he’s struggled with “on and off for years.” And there is every reason to wish him well as he does so.
But it would be good for Radel and his colleagues to note that he has identified his challenge as a disease, not a bad habit.
by David Cole
Achieving justice for racial discrimination has long been fraught with obstacles. During the civil rights era, it was Southern governors and school boards who blatantly obstructed court orders to desegregate schools. In more recent years, the burdens have been erected not by Southern politicians, but by the courts themselves. The Supreme Court has made it virtually impossible to prove race discrimination short of compelling evidence that specific individuals were intentionally targeted because of their race; proof that government policies or practices—up to and including the death penalty—have widespread discriminatory effects on African-Americans is not enough. And by striking down a core part of the Voting Rights Act last term, the Supreme Court has decided that states and localities that had discriminatory voting practices in the past no longer need to have changes to their voting laws vetted to ensure they don’t continue to discriminate.
As I write this blog, Canada is at war with the Mi'kmaw Nation -- again -- this time in Elsipogtog (Big Cove First Nation) in New Brunswick. The Mi'kmaw have spoken out against hydro-fracking on their territory for many months now. They have tried to get the attention of governments to no avail. Now the Mi'kmaware in a battle of drums and feathers versus tanks and assault rifles -- not the rosy picture painted by Canada to the international community.
There are many candidates, but comparing Obamacare to the Fugitive Slave Act takes the prize
by Steven Lubet
Republicans in the House of Representatives have shut down the United States government – and are threatening to throw the nation into default – as part of their ongoing strategy to defund Obamacare. But is the Affordable Care Act, which went into effect today, really the sort of dreadful legislation that warrants such potentially economy-shattering measures? Most Americans don’t think so, but extreme rightwingers, in a continuing effort to justify their risky tactics, have compared Obamacare to the worst depredations in the history of government.
by Bill Quigley
While Colorado and Washington have de-criminalized recreational use of marijuana and twenty states allow use for medical purposes, a Louisiana man was sentenced to twenty years in prison in New Orleans criminal court for possessing 15 grams, .529 of an ounce, of marijuana.
Corey Ladd, 27, had prior drug convictions and was sentenced September 4, 2013 as a “multiple offender to 20 years hard labor at the Department of Corrections.”
Marijuana use still remains a ticket to jail in most of the country and prohibition is enforced in a highly racially discriminatory manner. A recent report of the ACLU, “The War on Marijuana in Black and White,” documents millions of arrests for marijuana and shows the “staggeringly disproportionate impact on African Americans.”
by Marijuana Policy Project
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marijuana arrests continued at near record levels in 2012, and the vast majority of them were for simple possession. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, an estimated 749,824 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana, more than 87% of which were for possession. This is a slight decrease from 2011. Marijuana arrests accounted for nearly half of all drug arrests last year.
The report also noted that 59.9% of rapes, 53.2% of all violent crimes, and 81% of property crimes reported in 2012 were unsolved or did not result in arrest.
These results show that one person is arrested for marijuana possession every 48 seconds on average in the United States. A Pew Research Poll released in April reported that a majority of Americans think marijuana should be taxed and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.
Darrell Cannon, survivor of police torture, wrongful conviction, and 24 years in prison spoke to large crowds at the Independent Media Center and University YMCA today. Mr. Cannon was tortured by Chicago police in 1983 and then again though nine years of solitary confinement in Tamms prison. He fought continuously for his innocence, finally succeeding in 2008. His civil suit against the City of Chicago is still pending.
Mr. Cannon shared the horrific details of his torture, pausing to tap his cheek for strength and comfort. He was captured by three Chicago police detectives who cracked his front teeth with the barrel of a shotgun - they shoved it in his mouth and pretended to fire. They hung him by handcuffs, wrenching his shoulders. After each of these events he refused to confess to the murder they accused him of. Then they shocked his genitals with a taser electroshock stun gun. He finally confessed. It was this forced confession, without proof or witnesses, that was used to put him away for life.