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Handcuffs

Angola 2 mark forty years solitary in Louisiana prison for crime they didn't commit

They've spent 23 hours of each day in the last 40 years in a 9ft-by-6ft cell. Now, as human rights groups intensify calls for their release, a documentary provides insight into an isolated life.
Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox

Herman Wallace, left, and Albert Woodfox in Angola prison in Louisiana. Robert King, the third member of the Angola 2, had his conviction overturned and was released in 2001.
Herman Wallace describes the cell in which he has spent 40 years in an audio file here.

"I can make about four steps forward before I touch the door," Herman Wallace says as he describes the cell in which he has lived for the past 40 years. "If I turn an about-face, I'm going to bump into something. I'm used to it, and that's one of the bad things about it."

On Tuesday, Wallace and his friend Albert Woodfox will mark one of the more unusual, and shameful, anniversaries in American penal history. Forty years ago to the day, they were put into solitary confinement in Louisiana's notorious Angola jail. They have been there ever since.

Handcuffs

The Case of the Angola 3: Silenced for trying to expose segregation, corruption, and horrific abuse in the biggest prison in the US.

Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox

Herman Wallace, left, and Albert Woodfox in Angola prison in Louisiana. Robert King, the third member of the Angola 2, had his conviction overturned and was released in 2001.
40 years ago, deep in rural Louisiana, three young black men were silenced for trying to expose continued segregation, systematic corruption, and horrific abuse in the biggest prison in the US, an 18,000 acre former slave plantation called Angola.

Peaceful, non-violent protest in the form of hunger and work strikes organized by inmates caught the attention of Louisiana's elected leaders and local media in the early 1970s. They soon called for investigations into a host of unconstitutional and extraordinarily inhumane practices commonplace in what was then the "bloodiest prison in the South." Eager to put an end to outside scrutiny, prison officials began punishing inmates they saw as troublemakers.

At the height of this unprecedented institutional chaos, Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox, and Robert King were charged with murders they did not commit and thrown into 6x9 foot solitary cells.

Robert was released in 2001, but Herman and Albert remain in solitary, continuing to fight for their freedom.

Video

Film Review: Owned and Operated

Image
© Unknown
Owned & Operated is a new documentary about the struggles we are facing as a global humanity. For the most part, it's a decent film - especially the first hour. The way it incorporates hundreds of different sources to corroborate the overall feelings sweeping the globe is certainly nice and refreshingly unique. And the tone of the film in general is appropriately forceful and motivating. I agree with many of the points made (but certainly not all) and suggest it's viewing with your critical-thinking cap on.

Unfortunately, like most all films of this type today, Owned & Operated overlooks a great opportunity to assert some very key points. Most especially, it expresses nothing about the vital importance of Self-Work as individuals - of coming into an applicable Realization of the Authentic Self - which is tantamount to the discovery of a healthy society. Nor does it discuss the FACT that problems with our governments stem most-principally from an affliction of psychopathy (marked by character traits of insatiable avarice and total lack of empathy) in key players of the ruling elite - not just ordinary greed and corruption.

Attention

Humans Still Eating Humans

Meat Pies
© Daniel Korzeniewski | Shutterstock
The suspects confessed to murdering at least two women, eating parts of their bodies, and using the rest to make meat pies sold in the town of Garanhuns near Sao Paulo.
The recent arrest of three people in Brazil suspected of making empanadas out of human flesh (and then selling them) reminds us that though human cannibalism is rare in the modern world, it still persists.

Brazil, in particular, has been linked to cannibalism in recent years. The Lancet journal reported in 1994 "that eating human remains" was common among 250 people who lived in an Olinda slum. "Poverty and a lack of compliance with laws" were blamed, since the starving individuals were eating human body parts that they found in the Brazilian city's garbage dump.

"Cannibalism is an ethologic behavior widespread among human primates and non-human primates," Isabel Cáceres, a paleoecologist at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, told Discovery News. Cáceres has studied the phenomenon -- going back up to 780,000 years ago in our ancestors.

"Probably, the practice of cannibalism in the genus Homo appears due to lack of resources and competition for territory in critical moments," she added.

The recent case was apparently a cruel twist on that strategy. The suspects confessed to murdering at least two women, eating parts of their bodies, and using the rest to make meat pies sold in the town of Garanhuns near Sao Paulo.

One quote from one of the suspects also points to other factors. Fifty-one-year old Jorge Beltrao Negroponte told SBT Television, "I did certain things for purification, to protect people and deliver them to God."

Newspaper

Judge in Breivik Trial Replaced

Image
© Reuters
Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik smiles at his defence lawyer Vibeke Hein Baera in courtroom 250 during the second day of his terrorism and murder trial, in Oslo, on Tuesday.
Oslo - One of the lay judges in the trial against Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has been replaced after it was revealed that he made a comment on the Internet saying the death penalty would be the only appropriate punishment for Mr. Breivik.

As the second day of the trial against Mr. Breivik began presiding judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen said it has come to the knowledge of the court that lay judge Thomas Indrebo had made a comment which may compromise his impartiality.

Ms. Arntzen said Mr. Indrebo had admitted to the comment, which according to reports were made on Facebook, the day after Mr. Breivik's twin attacks which killed 77 people and injured hundreds in government buildings in central Oslo and at a Labor party youth camp on July 22 last year.

Prosecutor Svein Holden and Mr. Breivik's defense lawyer Geir Lippestad agreed that the lay judge should withdraw. The trial will continue after the judge is replaced by the reserve judge who has followed all court proceedings.

Bizarro Earth

Suicides 'by Economic Crisis' Soar in Europe

George Mordaunt of Clonmel, Ireland
© Eoin O’Conaill for The International Herald Tribune
George Mordaunt of Clonmel, Ireland, considered suicide when his car business hit hard times.
On New Year's Eve, Antonio Tamiozzo, 53, hanged himself in the warehouse of his construction business near Vicenza, after several debtors did not pay what they owed him.

Three weeks earlier, Giovanni Schiavon, 59, a contractor, shot himself in the head at the headquarters of his debt-ridden construction company on the outskirts of Padua. As he faced the bleak prospect of ordering Christmas layoffs at his family firm of two generations, he wrote a last message: "Sorry, I cannot take it anymore."

The economic downturn that has shaken Europe for the last three years has also swept away the foundations of once-sturdy lives, leading to an alarming spike in suicide rates. Especially in the most fragile nations like Greece, Ireland and Italy, small-business owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking their own lives in a phenomenon some European newspapers have started calling "suicide by economic crisis."

Many, like Mr. Tamiozzo and Mr. Schiavon, have died in obscurity. Others, like the desperate 77-year-old retiree who shot himself outside the Greek Parliament on April 4, have turned their personal despair into dramatic public expressions of anger at the leaders who have failed to soften the blows of the crisis.

A complete picture of the phenomenon across Europe is elusive, as some countries lag in reporting statistics and coroners are loath to classify deaths as suicides, to protect surviving family members. But it is clear that countries on the front line of the economic crisis are suffering the worst, and that suicides among men have increased the most.

Stormtrooper

Israeli Soldier Clubs Danish Protester With Rifle



Denmark has demanded an explanation from the Israeli government for video footage showing a senior Israeli army officer striking a Danish activist in the face with an M16 rifle, an act which has been sharply criticised by the Israeli prime minister, president and chief of staff.

In the video, Lt Col Shalom Eisner, deputy commander of the Jordan Valley territorial brigade, is clearly seen slamming his rifle into the face of Andreas Ias. There was no obvious reason for the assault in the clip, which was broadcast on Israeli television and posted on YouTube. The soldier was suspended by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) pending an investigation.

The video emerged on the same day as Israel launched a security operation to prevent hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists entering the country en route to the West Bank, claiming they were provocateurs and were planning acts of violence. The assault on the Danish man and the operation to block the entry of Palestinian sympathisers have led to questions about whether Israel's response to activists is excessively heavy-handed and will damage its image.

Wolf

Five Ways The Very Rich Have "Earned" (Stolen) Their Money

US money
© Flickr by IronRodArt
The wealthiest Americans believe they've earned their money through hard work and innovation, and that they're the most productive members of society. For the most part they're wrong. As the facts below will show, they're not nearly as productive as middle-class workers. Yet they've taken almost all the new income over the past 30 years.

Any one of these five reasons should reinforce the belief that the rich should be paying a LOT more in taxes.

1. They've Taken All the Middle Class Wage Increases

In 1980 the richest 1% of America took one of every fifteen post-tax income dollars. Now, according to IRS figures, they take THREE of every fifteen post-tax income dollars (doc). They've tripled their cut of America's income pie. That's a trillion extra dollars a year.

For every dollar the richest 1% earned in 1980, they've added three more dollars. The poorest 90% have added ONE CENT.

Yet the average American factory worker, according to Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, produces $180,000 worth of goods a year, more than three times what he or she produced in 1978, in inflation-adjusted dollars.

So workers have TRIPLED their productivity over 30 years while the richest 1% have TRIPLED their share of income. Worker pay remained flat as the top 10% took almost all the productivity gains since 1980.

Briefcase

Zimmerman's Lawyer Asks to Have Judge Removed from Case

George Zimmerman
© The Associated Press/Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Pool
George Zimmerman, center, is directed by a Seminole County Deputy and his attorney Mark O'Mara during a court hearing Thursday April 12, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmerman's defense team formally requested Monday that the Florida judge assigned to their client's case be removed after she revealed her husband works with a CNN legal analyst.

Mark O'Mara's office filed paperwork Monday asking that Seminole Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler not preside over second-degree murder proceedings involving Zimmerman, according to Seminole County Court spokeswoman Michelle Kennedy.

The motion to "disqualify" the trial judge "will be ruled on in the appropriate manner," Kennedy said Monday.

Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood-watch volunteer, fatally shot teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, a killing he has said was in self-defense. Since then, the case has stirred civil rights activists nationwide and drawn intense publicity.

Recksiedler is assigned to the Zimmerman case. But on Friday, she said she would entertain motions to disqualify her from the trial after discovering that her husband works with Mark NeJame, an attorney whom Zimmerman approached about representing him and has since widely commented on the case in the media. NeJame also is a CNN contributor who has been asked to provide analysis on this case.

Comment: Please read the Sott Focus: Hysterization Via Racism in the Trayvon Martin Case for a better understanding of the dynamics at play in the Trayvon Martin case.


Sherlock

Briton Killed after Threat to Expose Chinese Leader's Wife

Image
© Reuters/China.org.cn/Handout
British businessman Neil Heywood poses for a photograph at a gallery in Beijing, in this handout picture dated April 12, 2011.
Chongqing, China - The British businessman whose murder has sparked political upheaval in China was poisoned after he threatened to expose a plan by a Chinese leader's wife to move money abroad, two sources with knowledge of the police investigation said.

It was the first time a specific motive has been revealed for Neil Heywood's murder last November, a death which ended Chinese leader Bo Xilai's hopes of emerging as a top central leader and threw off balance the Communist Party's looming leadership succession.

Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, asked Heywood late last year to move a large sum of money abroad, and she became outraged when he demanded a larger cut of the money than she had expected due to the size of the transaction, the sources said.

She accused him of being greedy and hatched a plan to kill him after he said he could expose her dealings, one of the sources said, summarizing the police case. Both sources have spoken to investigators in Chongqing, the southwestern Chinese city where Heywood was killed and where Bo had cast himself as a crime-fighting Communist Party leader.

Gu is in police custody on suspicion of committing or arranging Heywood's murder, though no details of the motive or the crime itself have been publicly released, other than a general comment from Chinese state media that he was killed after a financial dispute.

The sources have close ties to Chinese police and said they were given details of the investigation.

They said Heywood - formerly a close friend of Gu and who had been helping her with her overseas financial dealings - was killed after he threatened to expose what she was doing.

"Heywood told her that if she thought he was being too greedy, then he didn't need to become involved and wouldn't take a penny of the money, but he also said he could also expose it," the first source said.