Tag Archives | Human Rights

ACLU Uncovers Illegal Debtors’ Prisons Across Ohio

debtors' prison

Despite being blatantly unconstitutional, citizens are commonly being jailed for their inability to pay tickets and fines, wreaking havoc on people’s lives (and costing the state far greater sums than the unpaid tickets), ACLU Ohio reveals:

The resurgence of contemporary debtors’ prisons sits squarely at this intersection of poverty and criminal justice. In towns across the state, thousands of people face the looming specter of incarceration every day, simply because they are poor.

For Ohio’s poor and working poor, an unaffordable traffic ticket or fine is just the beginning of a protracted process that may involve contempt charges, mounting fees, arrest warrants, and even jail time. The stark reality is that, in 2013, Ohioans are being repeatedly jailed simply for being too poor to pay fines.

The U.S. Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code all prohibit debtors’ prisons. The law requires that, before jailing anyone for unpaid fines, courts must determine whether an individual is too poor to pay.

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Attorney General Eric Holder Says Drone Killings On U.S. Soil Are ‘Hypothetically’ Doable

Will lethal drone strikes someday come home? Business Insider reports:

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter Tuesday that Obama administration believes it could “hypothetically” carry out drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil, but “has no intention of doing so.” The letter was sent to Republican Senator Rand Paul in response to his question about the constitutionality of drone strikes on U.S. soil.

But what is truly alarming about Holder’s letter is not his position, but his vague, almost supercilious, dismissal of the drone question itself:

The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront. It is possible to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution…for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.

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More Than 50 Countries Collaborated With CIA On Extraordinary Rendition Torture Program

Torturing: it brought the United States together with Iran, Syria, Libya, and Zimbabwe. Wired reports:

A new report from the Open Society Foundation details the CIA’s effort to outsource torture since 9/11. Known as “extraordinary rendition,” the practice concerns taking detainees to and from U.S. custody without a legal process and handing detainees over to countries that practiced torture.

The report found that 136 people went through the post-9/11 extraordinary rendition, and 54 countries were complicit in it. Some were official U.S. adversaries, like Iran and Syria, brought together with the CIA by the shared interest of combating terrorism.

The most famous case involves Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen snatched in 2002 by the U.S. at JFK Airport before the CIA sent him to Syria under the mistaken impression he was a terrorist. In Syrian custody, Arar was “imprisoned for more than ten months in a tiny grave-like cell, beaten with cables, and threatened with electric shocks by the Syrian government.”

The full 54 countries that aided in post-9/11 renditions: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

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U.S. Congress Mulls Creation Of Drone Court To Authorize Killings

Who lives and who dies? The drone court will decide. Via Reuters:

During a fresh round of debate this week over President Barack Obama’s claim that he can unilaterally order lethal strikes by unmanned aircraft against U.S. citizens, some lawmakers proposed a middle ground: a special federal “drone court” that would approve suspected militants for targeting. The idea is being actively considered, however, according to a White House official.

At Thursday’s confirmation hearing for CIA director nominee John Brennan, senators discussed establishing a secret court or tribunal to rule on the validity of cases that U.S. intelligence agencies draw up for killing suspected militants using drones.

Senator Angus King, a Maine independent, said during the hearing that he envisioned a scenario in which executive branch officials would go before a drone court “in a confidential and top-secret way, make the case that this American citizen is an enemy combatant.”

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May I Recommend a Documentary: ‘The Wobblies’

via chycho If you want to hear some of the coolest stories that you’ve ever heard from some of the funniest elders that you’ve ever seen then “The Wobblies” is for you. There is so much goodness in this documentary that it’ll put a smile on your face. The subject matter is the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, formed in 1905, it’s considered to be one of the most important labor movements in the history of the United States...
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Report: Thousands Of Irish Women Were Enslaved In Catholic Laundries Which Ended In 1996

They were being punished for being orphans or single mothers, for committing petty crimes, or being perceived as rebellious in some way. Via ABC News:

Ireland’s government oversaw workhouses run by Catholic nuns that once held thousands of women and teenage girls in unpaid labor and usually against their will, a fact-finding report concluded Tuesday, establishing state involvement in the country’s infamous Magdalene Laundries for the first time.

Opposition leaders demanded that Prime Minister Enda Kenny offer an official apology for the state’s failure to enforce labor laws and human rights standards in the 10 Magdalene Laundries, and to pledge to establish a taxpayer-funded compensation program for survivors. The report found that 10,012 women were committed to the workhouses from 1922 to the closure of the last two laundries in 1996.

The government since 2002 has paid more than $1.3 billion to more than 13,000 people who suffered abuse in other Catholic-run workhouses and orphanages but explicitly excluded former Magdalene residents, contending these were privately run institutions with negligible state involvement.

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Internet Connection Is Civil Right, German Court Rules

In the near future, in certain regions of the world, denying someone internet will be considered a barbaric, criminal act. Computer World UK reports:

Internet access is crucial to everyday life and the loss of connectivity is deserving of financial compensation, the German Federal Court of Justice has ruled. Because having an internet connection is so significant for a large part of the German population, a customer whose service provider failed to provide connectivity between December 2008 and February 2009 is entitled to compensation.

The plaintiff was erroneously disconnected and demanded that the unnamed telecommunications company pay for costs that incurred in switching to a new provider. The plaintiff also demanded compensation of €50 per day for the period his was unable to use his DSL service.

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Desperate Letter Describing Chinese Forced Labor Camp Found Inside Halloween Decorations Kit

Imagine if we understood where everything we have came from. Via Oregonian:

The letter came in a box of Halloween decorations purchased at Kmart, a $29.99 graveyard kit. On a Sunday afternoon in October, Julia Keith intended to decorate her home for her daughter’s fifth birthday, days before Halloween. She ripped open the box and threw aside the cellophane. That’s when Keith found it. Scribbled onto paper and folded into eighths, the letter was tucked between two Styrofoam headstones.

“Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.”

“People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month).”

“People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment).

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Letter from North County Jail

Picture: Dylan Oliphant (CC)

From Divided Core:

A writer friend of mine is serving some time in a Northern California jail and wrote an insightful letter which sheds some light on his experience behind bars.   With his permission, I’ve transcribed his letter to share with others.  For those who are interested, here’s what he wrote:

Dear Aaron,

Thank you for the reading material – the books made it in, but the pornographic magazines, I am told, did not get past screening and were confiscated by the guards (I suspect they’ll be making paper mache of those pages forthwith).  Good show though; The Thought Gang will suffice for now.

Here at the North County Detention Facility there is an extensive library for the inmates in our compound: Building 101, which houses around 200 people.  We share a large “day-room” with tables, games, and televisions.  There are ten dorms that sleep roughly twelve people each, and we are generally free to move from our bunks to and from the day-room, or into the sunny courtyard as we please.  “The Farm,” as some here call it, is summer camp compared to where I was confined three days ago.

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The Scandalous History Of Infant Formula

Jill Krasny gives an overview of the history of Infant Formula, its corporate marketing to third world parents, and the tragic consequences. Every parent should know corporations may not necessarily be primarily concerned with consumers’ health and well-being.

via Business Insider:

Outrage started in the 1970s, when Nestle was accused of getting third world mothers hooked on formula, which is less healthy and more expensive than breast milk.

The allegations led to hearings in the Senate and the World Health Organization, resulting in a new set of marketing rules.

Yet infant formula remains a $11.5-billion-and-growing market…

Read more at Business Insider.

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