Billboard Liberation Front and Wachovia Bank

Just a few short hours ago, our fiendish friends at Billboard Liberation Front helped Wachovia Bank improve the messaging on a billboard in San Francisco’s Mission District. From the BLF’s press release:

This campaign emphasizes the silver lining in the economic storm front now threatening to swamp our economy as well as our individual fiscal inner tubes.

“The calamitous decline in the value of all investments and the impending total collapse of the dollar will render the true value of the average savings account or investment portfolio roughly equal to a bucket of warm piss,” noted Thomas J. Wurtz, CFO of Wachovia. Dr. John Silvia, Managing Director and Chief Economist noted: “After that golden shower we got from Golden West, we decided to fight fire with fire and start bailing for our clients and stockholders, mixed metaphors notwithstanding.”

Billboard Liberation Front and Wachovia Bank



Leonard Peltier: Obama’s election and a new spirit of hope

November 7, 2008


November 5, 2008
From Leonard Peltier

My Relatives and Friends,
Last night a change in this country took place that not too long
ago many people said would never happen. An African-American was
elected to the White House and by a major landslide, which gives
him a mandate by the public to fulfill his promises. This landslide
indicates the people have placed their hope with this man they call
their president for a change in this country.

HOPE. There have been times if I can even recall what it really
means to have hope that justice is right around the corner. I’ve
been mislead and disappointed so many times that I would soon
see justice and to have it denied upon a technicality in legal
appeals. Or like what happened eight years ago. Everyone placed
their hope and trust with a couple named Bill and Hillary, but we
were betrayed at the last minute. I know that many of my friends,
family and supporters were crushed. I began to feel the weight
and pressure of a lifetime being unjustly imprisoned began to
crowd me into a corner of my cell and then in my mind. But, it
was this thing that has been our battle cry for so many years,
“In the Spirit of Crazy Horse”. I remembered what he stood for and
remained a warrior until his last breath. It is a strength that we
stand upon when we are right. We were right to be in Oglala and we
were right to be prepared to defend ourselves. What wasn’t right is
that a jury never got to hear any of this testimony, and the rest
of the trial was a product of the fabrication and then manipulation
of the FBI. This spirit of Crazy Horse is a spirit of being in total
resistance to the wrongs perpetuated towards your people, community,
family and yourself. Some of us called it outrage, but that is just
merely an emotion without resolving the issue. It is when we make
a conscious choice to try and balance the wrongs in this society
that we are being compelled by this spirit of resistance to stand
in defense of the wronged.

That spirit cannot be conquered, and I refused to submit and give in
when it appeared there may be no hope. It was because of the letters
of support and encouragement from so many people that I continued
on for another eight years. And now people seem to feel there is
a change blowing in the wind and that the election of Obama is a
manifestation of that change.

Continue reading

NCAI urges new means of protecting sacred places

Friday, November 7, 2008

NCAI urges new means of protecting sacred places

By Brenda Norrell
U.N. OBSERVER & International Report

PHOENIX – The National Congress of American Indians urged the US Congress to create a statute that would protect Native American sacred places from the onslaught of development, intrusion and desecration and to strengthen existing laws to protect Native Americans’ freedom of religion, in a resolution passed during its 65th annual convention.
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act was enacted into law 30 years ago in 1978 to protect the religious freedom of Native people. However, the Supreme Court ruled 20 years ago that neither the Act, nor the US Constitution, provided for a course of action to truly protect Native Americans right to worship in their traditional manner. The Supreme Court said Congress would need to enact a statute for that purpose. Congress has not done so.
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act states that “it shall be the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiians, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.”
Native Americans say, however, there is no current mechanism to ensure protection of sacred places or religious rights in court. Further, they say there is too little prosecution of violators of sacred places, burial places and cultural items.
Recently, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act failed to protect two sacred places in court, San Francisco Peaks and Snoqualmie Falls. In the case of San Francisco Peaks, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed its earlier decision and ruled that sewage water could be used for snowmaking on the mountain sacred to 13 American Indian Nations. On this sacred mountain, one of Four Sacred Mountains to the Navajo or Dine’, medicine people hold ceremonies and gather healing plants. Hualapai and Hopi spiritual leaders were among those speaking out against the desecration.
NCAI said, “It is time for Congress to enact a right of action for tribes to defend sacred places. Unless tribes can sustain lawsuits, they will not have a seat at federal negotiation tables and agencies and developers will continue to disregard existing consultation requirements. Meaningful consultation and respectful negotiations can obviate the need for litigation. However, if negotiated accords cannot be reached, tribes must be able to protect their holy places in court.”
The NCAI resolution also pointed out that universities are violating Native American graves, in development and museum content.
The NCAI resolution said, “Burial places are also sacred places. At present, there are entities subverting existing laws designed to protect our burial places and our ancestors. These entities include, for example, prominent universities in the University of California system and other federal and federally-assisted educational institutions, museums and agencies.”
Although the resolution does not name the exact institutions, the resolution follows the action of the University of California-Berkeley which recently desecrated an Ohlone burial ground for development, destroying oaks that were hundreds of years old. UC-Berkeley has also been protested for callously storing thousands of Native American remains in a rodent-filled basement. The Smithsonian Institute is among the museums that have long housed thousands of human remains of Indian people, including Native American skulls collected by bounty hunters in racist studies of intelligence.
NCAI’s resolution fails to point out the recent violation of graves and US federal laws in construction of the US/Mexico border wall. On the western portion of Tohono O’odham land in Arizona, the graves of the ancestors of the Tohono O’odham were dug up by Homeland Security’s contractor Boeing, in secret. The remains were removed from O’odham land, before being returned and reburied. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff waived all federal laws to construct the border wall.
Across the United States, Native Americans, including the Paiutes struggling to rebury “Spirit Cave Man,” in Nevada, are engaged in lengthy court battles. The desecration at the University of California-Berkeley, the plight of Spirit Cave Man and the threat to sacred San Francisco Peaks were among hundreds of issues brought to the Longest Walk, as Native Americans walked across America in 2008, from Alcatraz to DC, for the protection of sacred places and Mother Earth.
As liquor bars and helicopter rides threaten sacred Bear Butte, Yankton Sioux are faced with a large scale hog farm in the middle of their community in South Dakota. A new wave of profiteering uranium mining threatens Lakotas and Navajos. With power plants, coal mining and oil and gas drilling increasing, and the Arctic ice melting, Native Americans walked across America for five months to signal the nation and the world of the danger, while offering prayers for protection.
While burial places are desecrated across the nation, Native Americans ask, “How would you like it if your grandmother was in a museum? How would you like it if your grandfather’s grave was dug up and robbed?”
On the national level, NCAI said that Native Americans must be involved in the federal consultation processes and serve on boards that govern land use.
Further, NCAI said the Native American Graves Protection Repatriation Act must be strengthened in several ways. First, NAGPRA’s definition of Native American needs to be clarified and state that “Native American” means “of, or relating to, a tribe, people, or culture that is or was indigenous to any geographic area that is now located within the boundaries of the United States.”
NAGPRA needs increased penalties for violations of burials and burial grounds, human remains and cultural items. NAGPRA needs to be specifically strengthened with tools for improved law enforcement and prosecutions, NCAI said in the resolution.
In related resolutions, NCAI passed resolutions supporting a moratorium on exploration and oil and gas drilling in the Galisteo Basin of New Mexico; supporting protection of the Zuni Salt Lake in New Mexico and supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted Sept. 13, 2007, by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
In its resolution of support, NCAI said, “the declaration by the United Nations supports and reinforces the respect and protection of full self-determination rights by and on behalf of US Tribal Nations as well as the protection of tribal lands and treaties as a matter of international law and policy and is therefore in the vital interests of all US Tribal Nations.”
NCAI resolutions:
Photo: Snoqualmie Falls


Back Home, Palin Finds a New Landscape

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

“Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Many in Alaska said they did not know what to expect from Gov. Sarah Palin, shown Tuesday in a stop at a local coffee shop, now that she was back in the state.

Published: November 8, 2008

ANCHORAGE — Gov. Sarah Palin has returned to Alaska fully recast and amplified.

Adored by many national conservatives, Ms. Palin is a prospect for a presidential run in 2012, supporters say. Caricatured by opponents, she is a candidate for political oblivion, say others.”

Can Barack Obama Undo Bush’s Tangled Legal Legacy?

Can Barack Obama Undo Bush’s Tangled Legal Legacy?

by Marisa Taylor and Michael Doyle

WASHINGTON – When Barack Obama becomes president in January, he’ll confront the controversial legal legacy of the Bush administration.


From expansive executive privilege to hard-line tactics in the war on terrorism, Obama must decide what he’ll undo and what he’ll embrace.

The stakes couldn’t be higher.

On one hand, civil libertarians and other critics of the Bush administration may feel betrayed if Obama doesn’t move aggressively to reverse legal policies that they believe have violated the Constitution and international law.

On the other hand, Obama risks alienating some conservative Americans and some – but by no means all – military and intelligence officials if he seeks to hold officials accountable for those expansive policies.

These are some of the legal issues confronting him:

  • How does he close the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba? He’s pledged to shutter it, but how quickly can he do so when it holds some detainees whom no administration would want to release?
  • Obama has declared coercive interrogation methods such as waterboarding unconstitutional and illegal, but will his Justice Department investigate or prosecute Bush administration officials who ordered or condoned such techniques?
  • Will the new administration press to learn the full extent of the Bush administration’s electronic eavesdropping and data-mining activities, and will it curtail or halt some of them?
  • The Bush administration exerted tight control over the Justice Department by hiring more Republican-leaning political appointees and ousting those who were viewed as disloyal. Will Obama give the department more ideological independence?

Undoing some policies will take time.

With 316 conservative appointments to the federal courts over the last eight years, Obama could attempt to tilt the courts back to the center or even to the left with his nominees. He could alter the Supreme Court’s bent by replacing two or three justices who’ll probably retire soon.

Civil libertarians, who feel emboldened by a Democrat in the White House, tick off a long list of what they think Obama should do as soon as he takes office. Not only should Guantanamo be closed, they say, Obama should revoke the immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated with secret eavesdropping, ban the use of secret prisons by the CIA and investigate and perhaps prosecute administration officials for authorizing controversial interrogation methods.

Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has led many of the challenges to the Bush administration’s terrorism policies, said Obama could take action on most of these fronts “on day one” by issuing executive orders, such as closing Guantanamo.

“Unless he acts quickly, he runs the risk of showing the American people that their hope and optimism may have been misplaced, and reinforcing people’s deep-seated cynicism that it’s politics as usual in D.C.,” he said.

Although Obama is likely to ban waterboarding and other aggressive techniques soon after taking office, prosecuting administration officials not only would be legally challenging because legislation has granted them immunity but also would be seen by Republicans as highly divisive.

Negotiating that minefield may be among the most difficult legal dilemmas Obama faces early in his administration because of pressure from the left and the right.

“There will be hell to pay if people are prosecuted,” said Sanford Levinson, a University of Texas law professor. “But there’ll be hell to pay if they just walk away scot-free.”

He predicted that Obama might sidestep the controversy with the Bush administration’s help. If President Bush issues pre-emptive pardons to prevent prosecutions, the Obama administration should form a bipartisan panel, similar to the Sept. 11 commission, to oversee an inquiry, he said. Once pardoned, officials implicated in the controversy would be required to discuss details of the policies because they’d be unable to assert their Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.

The best person to lead such a commission? Levinson thinks it’s John McCain, who condemned the interrogation techniques when he was running against Obama.

“There would be widespread support if the Obama administration did reach out to someone like McCain,” Levinson said. “More people would regard it as not so much of a Democratic vendetta but as a necessary cleansing of an episode in recent American history that has had phenomenal costs to us around the world.”

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees, predicted that Obama would move to close Guantanamo relatively quickly. She’ll reintroduce legislation to do so early next year.

“The handwriting is on the wall,” Feinstein said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Although Guantanamo isn’t expected to be as thorny as the issues of interrogation techniques, detention without charges and eavesdropping, it may take longer to close than Obama wants because of the question of what to do with high-value terrorists. The Obama administration could end up moving them to prisons scattered across the United States as it sorts out who should remain jailed and where others should be sent.

The Bush Justice Department chose to fight the court-ordered releases of many of the detainees, even those whom the military had cleared. Obama’s attorney general is likely to soften that stance and begin releasing them with court oversight, or perhaps order new legal reviews of all detainees.

Three dozen district-court and 15 appellate court vacancies await. Appellate court decisions set precedents for multiple states. Whoever fills the vacant seat on the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, for instance, will shape the law covering nine Western states.

For this reason, appellate court vacancies can become battlegrounds. On the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which spans five states, including the Carolinas, a vacancy lingers after eight years.

Considerable speculation in the legal community has centered on potential female appointees to the Supreme Court, where Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the only woman. One potential candidate is Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic woman to serve on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Another is Harvard Law School’s Dean Elena Kagan, who like Obama was on the University of Chicago Law School faculty.

Noncourt appointments, too, can shape the law in important ways.

Whomever Obama appoints as attorney general and in other top positions in the Justice Department could move in new directions on hot-button issues such as gun control and immigration. And after pledging to tackle the financial crisis and concerns about global warming, Obama might dedicate more resources to prosecuting white-collar and environmental crimes.

Paul Charlton, one of the nine U.S. attorneys whom the Bush administration ousted, predicted that an Obama administration would take a different approach to the death penalty. Charlton clashed with Bush appointees who pushed prosecutors to seek the death penalty in a wide array of cases, including drug trafficking. “I expect there will be a more judicious use of the death penalty,” he said.

However, Bush administration critics who hope an Obama White House will be the antidote to what they see as excessive executive power may be disappointed.

Gene Healy, a Cato Institute vice president and the author of the book “The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power,” said expanding presidential power was a bipartisan reflex.

“People tend to think more positively about having robust executive authority when they’re the ones who are actually wielding the authority,” he said.

Obama, however, is unlikely to be aggressive as Bush. “He’ll probably seek congressional approval, and that may be more effective at growing executive power than the unilateral, go-it-alone approach,” Healy said.


Bush Administration Once Again Attempts To Block Release Of Prisoner Abuse Photos

Bush Administration Once Again Attempts To Block Release Of Prisoner Abuse Photos
Photos Depict Abuse At Facilities In Afghanistan And Iraq


NEW YORK, Nov. 7, 2008 – The Bush administration petitioned a full appeals court late Thursday to reconsider a decision ordering the Defense Department to release photographs showing detainee abuse by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In September, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered the government to release the photos as part of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking information on the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas.

“This petition is a transparent attempt to delay accountability for the widespread abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody abroad by keeping the public in the dark,” said Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU. “These photographs demonstrate that the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody abroad was not aberrational and not confined to Abu Ghraib, but the result of policies adopted by the highest-ranking officials in the administration. The immediate release of these photos is critical to bringing an end to the Bush administration’s torture policies and for preventing prisoner abuse in the future.”

Since the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in 2003, the government has refused to disclose these images by attempting to radically expand the exemptions allowed under the FOIA for withholding records. The government claimed that the public disclosure of such evidence would generate outrage and would violate U.S. obligations towards detainees under the Geneva Conventions.

However, the appeals court rejected the government’s attempt to use the FOIA as “an all-purpose damper on global controversy” and recognized the “significant public interest in the disclosure of these photographs” in light of government misconduct. The court also recognized that releasing the photographs is likely to prevent “further abuse of prisoners.”

To date, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit. They are available online at:

Many of these documents are also compiled and analyzed in “Administration of Torture,” a book by ACLU attorneys Jameel Jaffer and Singh. More information is available online at:

In addition to Jaffer and Singh, attorneys on the case are Alexander Abdo and Judy Rabinovitz of the national ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lawrence S. Lustberg and Jenny-Brooke Condon of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.



Join The Caravan To Support The Struggle For Survival

Join The Caravan To Support The Struggle For Survival On The Front Lines Of Resistance at Big Mountain, Black Mesa, AZ.
November 22-29, 2008

A caravan of work crews will be converging from across the country to support residents of the Big Mountain regions of Black Mesa who, on behalf of their peoples, their sacred ancestral lands, and future generations, continue to carry out their staunch resistance to the efforts of the US Government, which is acting in the interests of the Peabody Coal Company to devastate whole communities & ecosystems, and greatly de-stabilize our planet’s climate for the profit of an elite few.

By assisting with direct, on-land projects with the Sovereign communities of Big Mountain, Black Mesa you are helping families resist an illegal occupation and to stay on their lands, who serve as the very blockade to coal mining! More than 14,000 Dine’ people have been forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands due to spin created by the U.S government & Peabody Coal, under the guise of the so-called “Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute”. With the guidance of Black Mesa residents, the aim of this caravan is to honor the elders and to bring support to their communities before the approaching cold winter months.
Read more for a list of projects, needs, and for further details.