Environmental Lawyer Steven Donziger is Free After 993 Days

Environmental lawyer Steven Donziger, who has just been released from nearly a thousand days of house arrest as part of a legal ordeal that began after he successfully sued Chevron on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorian Amazonian Indigenous people for dumping 16 billion gallons of oil into their ancestral land. In 2011, Ecuador’s Supreme Court ordered Chevron to pay $18 billion in a landmark ruling seen as a major victory for corporate accountability. But Chevron refused to pay or clean up the land. Instead, it launched a legal attack on the ruling, targeting Steven Donziger.

Last year, the judge in the case found Donziger in criminal contempt of court after he refused to turn over his computer and cellphone, sentencing him to six months in prison for contempt of court — a misdemeanor. In an extremely unusual legal twist, the judge had appointed a private law firm with ties to Chevron to prosecute Donziger, after federal prosecutors declined to bring charges. After 45 days in prison, he returned to house arrest — until Monday, when he finished his sentence and was released, after about a thousand days under house arrest. Last night he had a block party in Manhattan celebrating his freedom.

— source democracynow.org | Apr 26, 2022

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First Black woman in U.S. Supreme Court in its more than 230-year history

In a historic vote Thursday, the Senate confirmed federal appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman and first public defender to serve on the high court in its more than 230-year history.

Three Republican senators supported Jackson’s confirmation: Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney. The only Black Republican senator, Tim Scott, cast a “no” vote. The final vote was delayed when Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky remained noticeably absent. He eventually voted from the Senate’s cloakroom because he didn’t meet the Senate dress code of wearing a tie. In fact, he was reportedly wearing a windbreaker. Three other Republican senators also voted “no” from the cloakroom in casual attire: Jim Inhofe, Jerry Moran and Lindsey Graham, who was seen wearing a tie earlier in the day at a press conference but had changed into a polo shirt.

Judge Jackson’s confirmation followed four days of Senate hearings last month, when she described how her parents had faced racial segregation, and said her path was clearer now because of civil rights laws. Republicans used the confirmation hearings to raise issues that are not on the court’s docket, like critical race theory. They also questioned her

— source democracynow.org | Apr 08, 2022

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Burkina Faso’s ex-president Compaore handed life sentence in absentia over Sankara murder

Burkina Faso’s former president Blaise Compaore was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for complicity in the 1987 murder of his predecessor Thomas Sankara in a coup, a military tribunal ruled on Wednesday.

The charismatic Marxist revolutionary Sankara was gunned down in the West African nation’s capital Ouagadougou at the age of 37, four years after he took power in a previous putsch.

Two of Compaore’s former top associates, Hyacinthe Kafando and Gilbert Diendere, were also sentenced to life imprisonment.

All three have previously denied involvement in Sankara’s death along with eleven other defendants accused of involvement in the plot. Three of the eleven were declared innocent

— source reuters.com | Thiam Ndiaga | Apr 6, 2022

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A Long Pause that Explained Racism and Sexism in America

For me, it was the pause. I knew that the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson would produce a lot of insults and smears from Republicans trying to be racist enough for Fox News viewers to get the message but not so racist that The New York Times would have to acknowledge it. Jackson surely knew it too. And despite over 20 hours of questioning over two days, during which Republicans yelled at her and grandstanded and repeatedly insinuated that she was a terrorist and child-sex-trafficker sympathizer in front of her daughters and parents, she never once lost her cool.

But she did take one really long pause. During Tuesday’s opening round of questions, Senator Ted Cruz went into full racist smear mode. Cruz is a former law school classmate and Harvard Law Review colleague of Jackson’s, but as for many, many white boys from that school, the comity and collegiality of a shared alma mater only seems to extend to fellow whites. Jackson is a Black woman, and Cruz’s teeth were out. He was trying to scare white voters by implying that Jackson was a black radical who believes in “critical race theory” and would use her position on the court to put dangerous thoughts in the minds of white children.

Only it was Ted Cruz doing this, so his teeth were crooked, dull, and almost unintentionally comical. Cruz came prepared with posters, like an office manager who never learned

— source thenation.com | Elie Mystal | Mar 24, 2022

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He Sided with Trump in Court While She Backed Coup Attempt

The January 6 committee investigating the deadly attack on the Capitol is reportedly deciding whether to interview Ginni Thomas — the Republican activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — about her efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss. The move comes after a series of Thomas’s texts were made public in which she urges Donald Trump’s then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the weeks following the election to take action to prevent a Biden victory. Justice Thomas is the only justice who dissented in the Supreme Court’s decision a few months ago that led to the release of White House documents around January 6. We speak with Ian Millhiser, senior correspondent at Vox, who calls Ginni Thomas “a cheerleader at the highest level” for the attempt to overturn the election. “When you’re a judge, you can’t sit on a case where your wife has an interest,” says Millhiser. “If Clarence Thomas knew that his wife was potentially implicated in this scandal, I think he should have recused himself from this case.” Millhiser’s latest piece is headlined “Clarence Thomas’s long fight against fair and democratic elections.”

— സ്രോതസ്സ് newsclick.in | Tushar Gandhi | 29 Mar 2022

Standing Up for the Constitution by Representing Guantánamo Prisoners

So, Judge Jackson was one of many hundreds of lawyers who joined a project to challenge this remarkable authoritarian experiment in Guantánamo that purported to — that actually held exclusively Muslim prisoners in an island, without any protections of law, where they were subject to persistent torture and arbitrary detention based on the executive say-so. So, to sort of criticize her work in that project is nonsensical to me. She’s operating in the highest traditions of the law. And it’s lawyers in the legal project that exposed so many of the underlying lies in Guantánamo, lies about dangerousness, lies about humane treatment, lies about national security and compliance with law. So, her work should be valorized.

You know, in terms of — you know, Lindsey Graham is, like, living in a post-9/11 fever dream where he continually wants to fight these old battles. The 31% recidivism number is this made-up Soviet-style number designed to mask, again, fundamental lies about Guantánamo. The overwhelming majority have absolutely nothing to do with initiating any fighting,

— source democracynow.org, democracynow.org | |

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Historic SCOTUS Confirmation Hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee began historic confirmation hearings Monday for President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. Once a clerk for Breyer, Judge Jackson now sits on D.C.’s federal appellate court. If confirmed, she would become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court and the first former public defender.

Her parents, her husband, her daughters attended Monday’s hearing, where she was introduced by University of Pennsylvania Carey Law professor Lisa Fairfax and former George W. Bush-appointed U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Griffith. Before she spoke, senators made opening statements. Today and Wednesday, she’s answering questions from the senators.

— source democracynow.org | Mar 22, 2022

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Assange’s Stroke Reveals The Western Version Of The Saudi Bone Saw

Julian Assange suffered a mini-stroke in October during the hearing for the US appeal of a UK court’s ruling on his extradition case.

“The WikiLeaks publisher, 50, who is being held on remand in the maximum-security jail while fighting extradition to America, was left with a drooping right eyelid, memory problems and signs of neurological damage,” The Daily Mail reports. “He believes the mini-stroke was triggered by the stress of the ongoing US court action against him, and an overall decline in his health as he faces his third Christmas behind bars.”

“Assange was examined by a doctor, who found a delayed pupil response when a light was shone into one eye – a sign of potential nerve damage,” the article reads.

“Julian is struggling and I fear this mini-stroke could be the precursor to a more major attack. It compounds our fears about his ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on,” Assange’s fiance Stella Moris told the Daily Mail.

— source caitlinjohnstone.com | Caitlin Johnstone | 12 Dec 2021

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The Execution of Julian Assange

Let us name Julian Assange’s executioners. Joe Biden. Boris Johnson. Scott Morrison. Theresa May. Lenin Moreno. Donald Trump. Barack Obama. Mike Pompeo. Hillary Clinton. Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett and Justice Timothy Victor Holroyde. Crown Prosecutors James Lewis, Clair Dobbin and Joel Smith. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser. Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia Gordon Kromberg. William Burns, the director of the CIA. Ken McCallum, the Director General of the UK Security Service or MI5.

Let us acknowledge that the goal of these executioners, who discussed kidnapping and assassinating Assange, has always been his annihilation. That Assange, who is in precarious physical and psychological health and who suffered a stroke during court video proceedings on October 27, has been condemned to death should not come as a surprise. The ten years he has been detained, seven in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and nearly three in the high security Belmarsh prison, were accompanied with a lack of sunlight and exercise and unrelenting threats, pressure, anxiety and stress. “His eyes were out of sync, his right eyelid would not close, his memory was blurry,” his fiancé Stella Morris said of the stroke.

His steady physical and psychological deterioration has led to hallucinations and depression. He takes antidepressant medication and the antipsychotic quetiapine. He has been observed pacing his cell until he collapses, punching himself in the face and banging his head against the wall. He has spent weeks in the medical wing of Belmarsh. Prison authorities found “half of a razor blade” hidden under his socks. He has repeatedly called the suicide hotline run by the Samaritans because he thought about killing himself “hundreds of times a day.” The executioners have not yet completed their grim work. Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the Haitian independence movement, the only successful slave revolt in human history, was physically destroyed in the same manner, locked by the French in an unheated and cramped prison cell and left to die of exhaustion, malnutrition, apoplexy, pneumonia and probably tuberculosis.

Assange committed empire’s greatest sin. He exposed it as a criminal enterprise. He documented its lies, callous disregard for human life, rampant corruption and innumerable war

— source scheerpost.com | Chris Hedges | Dec 13, 2021

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