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11.18 How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet

11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]

11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]

11.16 Scotland was first Industrialized Country to Run wholly on Wind in October

11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

11.12  This Land is Your Land:  The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

News Media Matters

11.19 The Biggest Threat to Free Speech No One Is Talking About

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]

11.19 Michael Bloomberg: Why I’m Giving $1.8 Billion for College Financial Aid

11.19 Trump’s Diminishing Power and Rising Rage

11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder

11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]

11.19 SNL explains Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s HQ2 strategy: trolling President Trump [2:55 SNL video]

11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]

11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]

11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]

11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]

11.17 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare

11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]

11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]

11.17 Trump Is Starting to Panic

Justice Matters
High Crimes?

11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]

11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]

11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]

11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]

International & Futurism

11.18 New Evidence Emerges of Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica’s Role in Brexit

11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]

11.17 Saudi crown prince's 'fit' delays UN resolution on war in Yemen

11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]

11.17 CIA finds Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi killing – report

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  Give Me No Liberty, Give Me Death: Innocence is No Defense
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COMMENTARY:

Give Me No Liberty, Give Me Death: Innocence is No Defense

by Chris Floyd
First published in Empire Burlesque earlier today, 20 August 2009
"I offered up my innocence
I got repaid with scorn"

-- Bob Dylan
The right of the powerful and the privileged to cow the rabble with the ever-present threat of execution by an implacable state obviously takes precedence over milksoppy considerations like "justice."

Scott Horton at Harper's points out two recent cases that underline a central tenet of perhaps the the most powerful and pervasive factions in America's judicial history: the "movement conservatives" who largely congregate in the Federalist Society, and whose god and high priest is the radical extremist and torture apologist, Antonin Scalia. And what is that central tenet? That the need of the state to put its citizens to death outweighs and overrules the actual innocence of wrongfully convicted individuals.

The first cast Horton considers is "the appeal of Troy Davis, a Georgia athletics coach tried and convicted of the murder of an off-duty policeman working as a security guard at a Burger King. Following the conviction in 1991, seven of the witnesses who testified against Davis recanted, several of them fingering the last major witness to appear against Davis as the actual killer." Several lower courts, packed with "movement conservatives" rejected the pleas for considering the new evidence for innocence. But this week, the Supreme Court sent the case back to Georgia with orders to hear the damn case already and look at the evidence.

But this commonsense application of hundreds of years of Anglo-American jurisprudence sent Scalia into one of his patented hissy fits. In a stinging dissent, he wrote:

This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable.

As Horton notes:

In other words, Scalia’s Constitution does not guarantee a man who has been convicted and sentenced to death – but who is actually innocent – a review of his case.

Of course not. The right of the powerful and the privileged to cow the rabble with the ever-present threat of execution by an implacable state obviously takes precedence over milksoppy considerations like "justice." In fact, if the state is shown to have the power to execute demonstrably innocent people, that's all the better; the very irrationality of such an approach makes people even more cowed, more uncertain -- and thus less likely to upset the gilded applecart of their betters.

But the little godling is by no means alone in his bloodthirsty philosophy. Horton then cites the case of Sharon Keller, the top criminal judge in Texas, now on trial for refusing to accept paperwork for a stay of execution request, despite a Supreme Court ruling that day which called the convicted man's punishment into question. Her reason for refusal? The defense lawyers, who had encounted a computer breakdown, asked to submit their request after 5 p.m. Keller's answer? "We close at five." The man was killed.

As Horton notes, Keller too has been explicit in her belief that the state's judicial machinery of death is more important than innocence. He cites the NY Times:

In 1998, Judge Keller wrote the opinion rejecting a new trial for Roy Criner, a mentally retarded man convicted of rape and murder, even though DNA tests after his trial showed that it was not his semen in the victim. “We can’t give new trials to everyone who establishes, after conviction, that they might be innocent,” she later told the television news program “Frontline.” “We would have no finality in the criminal justice system, and finality is important.”

It certainly is. The power of the state rests ultimately on the finality of death, and its ability to impose it -- on its own citizens, and on the citizens of the world, whenever and whereever the dictates of domination and privilege require.

*       *       *

P.S. Of course, it's not surprising that movement avatar Scalia scorns the interminable workings of legal processes that gum up the power of the state. For Scalia believes that the state derives its power from God; it is His scourge and minister, and not some namby-pamby democratic assemblage of free citizens. As I noted in the Moscow Times yea these many years ago now:

Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the ludicrous and illegal ruling that appointed Bush to the presidency, declared in the theological journal First Things that the state derives its moral authority from God, not the "consent of the governed," as the Declaration of Independence would have it.

Rejecting that old reveler in licentiousness, Thomas Jefferson, Scalia proclaims that government "is the 'minister of God' with powers to 'revenge,' to 'execute wrath,' including even wrath by the sword." He rails against the "tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government" and "foster civil disobedience." Approvingly, he cites the Apostle Paul: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." (Unless, of course, the Dominators need a "regime change" somewhere. Then the "powers that be" suddenly lose their divine ordination.)

A judge who believes that the state exists to "execute God's wrath by the sword," eh? Scalia would obviously be more at home with the jurisprudents over in Qom than in the heathenish precincts of a secular republic.

P.S.S. But as I noted here a while back, we should not scorn Scalia entirely. For in his public defense of torture last year -- in which he relied heavily on the venerable legal authority of Jack Bauer and "24" -- he actually provided us with an elegant mechanism for prosecuting Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Gonzalez and the whole gang for their crimes, without any messy "constitutional crisis" or the need for special prosecutors or any other extraordinary measure. I'm still waiting for some legal group - or even a local prosecutor -- to pick up the ball Scalia inadvertantly left on the ground and run with it.


Chris Floyd at his deskChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.



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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on August 20, 2009.

 



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