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I spent many years writing letters to support the release of Herman Wallace back in the 80s and 90s when I was very active with Amnesty.

Today, I read the news, Herman Wallace, the innocent man who sat in solitary confinement for the past 15000 days, died as a free man.

I was so happy the other day to hear about his release, I told my kids and my wife that it was like waking up from a bad dream, knowing that Wallace was still in solitary confinement after all these years that I left his case, but then I saw the news on CommonDreams, tears started falling off my eyes in an uncontrolled reaction.

He died as a free man! The bastards who took years of his life only released him days before his death, but the shame of keeping a man in shackles and in a small room, all by himself for 41 years, will stain the history of a country that sends 1000s of troops to far away countries to wage wars to “free” other nations, but fails to free innocent people in their own country from such barbaric punishment.

Rest in peace Herman Wallace, we all miss you, at least you proved them wrong and you died in freedom, you will be in our minds for ever.

 

“I Am Free. I Am Free.” Prisoner Herman Wallace Dies Just Days After Release

– Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Herman Wallace, the “Angola 3” prisoner who was released from jail earlier this week after being held in solitary confinement for 41 years, died early Friday morning after a battle with liver cancer.

Herman Wallace rides in an ambulance taking him away from prison. (Photo: Democracy Now!)Among his last words, according to those in attendance, were: “I am free. I am free.”

71-year-old Wallace, who was wrongfully accused of murdering a prison guard 41 years ago, maintained his innocence for that duration and finally had his case overturned Tuesday.

However, as he lay on his death bed,Wallace was re-indicted by a Louisiana grand jury on Thursday, according to District Attorney Samuel D’Aquilla who filed for the re-indictment.

Wallace died shortly after on Friday morning at 5:30 am Louisiana time.

“He passed away in my home,” saidAshley Wennerstrom, a long-time friend and program director at Tulane’s School of Medicine. “He was surrounded by friends and family and love in his last few days.”

“He completed that mission,” said longtime friend Parnell Herbert. “And he was able to see himself a free man. He passed away peacefully in his sleep.”

Following Wallace’s release from prison earlier in the week, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! wrote of Wallace’s final days:

As he lies dying, Herman Wallace knows that after a lifetime of enduring the torture of solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit, he is now a free man. […]

The Angola 3 were united for the last time Tuesday. The prison rules allowed King and Woodfox to say their final goodbyes to Wallace, not because he was leaving prison, but because he was dying. By sheer coincidence, that was when the judge overturned Wallace’s conviction, and they were the ones who gave Wallace the news. Robert King described their final moments together: “Albert’s last words were, ‘Herman, we love you, and you’re going to get out today.’” King described how Albert Woodfox leaned over, hands and feet shackled, and kissed Herman goodbye on his forehead. […]

Wallace was transferred to an ambulance and driven to the Louisiana State University Hospital in New Orleans. He has dreamed of his release for years, and describes it in “Herman’s House”:

“I got to the front gate, and there’s a whole lot of people out there. … I was dancing my way out. I was doing the jitterbug. … I turn around, and I look, and there are all the brothers in the window waving and throwing the fist sign—it’s rough, man. It’s so real. I can feel it even now.”

Herman Wallace was strapped into an ambulance, not dancing, as he left the prison, hanging on to life by a thread. But he was free, after almost 42 years in solitary confinement, longer than any other prisoner in U.S. history.

“Nothing can undo the authorities’ shocking treatment of (Wallace), which led more than 200,000 people to act on his behalf,” said Amnesty International USA Executive Director Steven Hawkins, in reference to an Amnesty campaign for the release of Wallace and the last co-defendant of the Angola 3 case who remains behind bars, Albert Woodfox. “The state of Louisiana must now prevent further inhuman treatment by removing Wallace’s co-defendant Albert Woodfox from solitary confinement.”

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find this extremely humorous.
How many guys have not lied about their weight etc. when they date a person or even chat online? This is soooo ridiculous that makes me wonder if US is actually so safe that they have absolutely nothing else to go after than lying dudes or gals who are looking for a partner.

And this is from a country who’s leaders lied repeatedly in order to justify their illegal attack against Iraq. None of those guys EVER got in to trouble for trouble, it is FUCKED up isn’t it?
DOJ: Lying on Match.com needs to be a crime | Privacy Inc. – CNET News.

DOJ: Lying on Match.com needs to be a crime

by

The U.S. Department of Justice is defending computer hacking laws that make it a crime to use a fake name on Facebook or lie about your weight in an online dating profile at a site like Match.com.

In a statement obtained by CNET that’s scheduled to be delivered tomorrow, the Justice Department argues that it must be able to prosecute violations of Web sites’ often-ignored, always-unintelligible “terms of service” policies.

The law must allow “prosecutions based upon a violation of terms of service or similar contractual agreement with an employer or provider,” Richard Downing, the Justice Department’s deputy computer crime chief, will tell the U.S. Congress tomorrow.

Scaling back that law “would make it difficult or impossible to deter and address serious insider threats through prosecution,” and jeopardize prosecutions involving identity theft, misuse of government databases, and privacy invasions, according to Downing.

The law in question, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, has been used by the Justice Department to prosecute a woman, Lori Drew, who used a fake MySpace account to verbally attack a 13-year old girl who then committed suicide. Because MySpace’s terms of service prohibit impersonation, Drew was convicted of violating the CFAA. Her conviction was later thrown out.

What makes this possible is a section of the CFAA that was never intended to be used that way: a general-purpose prohibition on any computer-based act that “exceeds authorized access.” To the Justice Department, this means that a Web site’s terms of service define what’s “authorized” or not, and ignoring them can turn you into a felon.

On the other hand, because millions of Americans likely violate terms of service agreements every day, you’d have a lot of company.

A letter (PDF) sent to the Senate in August by a left-right coalition including the ACLU, Americans for Tax Reform, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and FreedomWorks warns of precisely that. “If a person assumes a fictitious identity at a party, there is no federal crime,” the letter says. “Yet if they assume that same identity on a social network that prohibits pseudonyms, there may again be a CFAA violation. This is a gross misuse of the law.”

Orin Kerr, a former Justice Department computer crime prosecutor who’s now a professor of law at George Washington University, says the government’s arguments are weak.

Kerr, who is also testifying tomorrow before a House Judiciary subcommittee, told CNET today that:

The Justice Department claims to have an interest in enforcing Terms of Use and computer use policies under the CFAA, but its examples mostly consist of cases in which the conduct described has already been criminalized by statutes other than the CFAA. Further, my proposed statutory fix (see the second proposal in my testimony) would preserve the government’s ability to prosecute the remaining cases DOJ mentions while not raising the civil liberties problems of the current statute.

Kerr’s testimony gives other examples of terms of service violations that would become criminal. Google says you can’t use its services if “you are not of legal age to form a binding contract,” which implies that millions of teenagers would be unindicted criminals. Match.com, meanwhile, says you can’t lie about your age, criminalizing the profile of anyone not a model of probity.

“I do not see any serious argument why such conduct should be criminal,” Kerr says.

The Justice Department disagrees. In fact, as part of a broader push to rewrite cybersecurity laws, the White House has proposed (PDF) broadening, not limiting, CFAA’s reach.

Stewart Baker, an attorney at Steptoe and Johnson who was previously a Homeland Security assistant secretary and general counsel at the National Security Agency, has suggested that the administration’s proposals to expand CFAA are Draconian. Uploading copyrighted YouTube videos twice “becomes a pattern of racketeering,” with even more severe criminal penalties, “at least if Justice gets its way,” Baker wrote.

In a kind of pre-emptive attack against Kerr’s proposed fixes, the Justice Department’s Downing says the CFAA properly criminalizes “improper” online activities.

“Businesses should have confidence that they can allow customers to access certain information on the business’s servers, such as information about their own orders and customer information, but that customers who intentionally exceed those limitations and obtain access to the business’s proprietary information and the information of other customers can be prosecuted,” Downing’s prepared remarks say.

This is a harth braking story from Ghana.
I makes me feel sad, last time I was in Ghana, the airport was full of rich foreigners coming into the country smelling the possibility to make lots of money in a short time. Ghana is changing, not to the better, but to the worst. For some people, the country is becoming more and more prosperous and westernized, but for others, it is getting harder and harder to make a living.
GHANA: The Abandoned Offspring of Oil – IPS ipsnews.net

The Abandoned Offspring of Oil
By Paul Carlucci and Sam Mark Essien


TAKORADI-SEKONDI, Ghana, Sep 23, 2011 (IPS) – Kobina’s legs are dappled with scars. He gets them flitting across the beach in Sekondi, in southwest Ghana, slipping in the soot-black mud and clambering over pirogues slippery with fish guts, only to sell a sachet of water or a freshly peeled orange to fishermen working on the shore.

He is a child: just 10 years old. But he earns a living selling food to locals.

Comfort Essuman keeps him company, roaming the area selling porridge and deep-fried sugar bread. Two years older than Kobina, she is less shy and more confident. Whereas Kobina will not offer his last name, Comfort readily pronounces hers.

“My mum says I should keep selling and that I will go to school later,” she says, adding that she has not been to school since grade three. “I sell not less than two Ghanaian cedi (just over one dollar) a day and send the proceeds to my mother.” She lives with her aunt, while her mother is in Central Region, one of the West African country’s 10 regions.

Kids like Comfort and Kobina are all over this Western Region metropolis. They are the skinny and scuffed cherubs of Takoradi’s heralded oil era, a newborn epoch that residents say is bringing more trials than triumphs.

Takoradi and Sekondi are the twin capitals of Ghana’s Western Region with a population of about 335,000. Once just sleepy fishing hollows, they were galvanised late last year when the region started producing oil from the offshore Jubilee field. The Ministry of Energy predicts 250,000 barrels per day by the end of the year, with a quarter century total of one billion barrels. And other finds from nearby fields are expected to come online in 2014.

Local chiefs are demanding 10 percent of the expected one billion dollars in annual government revenue from the oil. To kick-start infrastructure, the normally sluggish federal government passed a three billion dollar loan approval through parliament, earmarking 1.8 billion dollars for infrastructure development in Western Region.

Lured by news of oil-driven prosperity, newcomers arrive in droves, each expecting an employment boom that is yet to come. In the meantime, rent goes up. The cost of food increases. Traffic builds. And social malaise multiplies. It is a hydra-headed problem and many of its victims are children, says Deborah Daisy Kwabia, metropolis director for the Regional Department of Social Welfare.

“A lot of people are streaming into Takoradi-Sekondi in pursuit of greener pastures, whereby it doesn’t exist,” she adds. “It’s voluminous. It’s even increasing.”

For children, marginalisation takes two forms. The first is child labour, which can impact girls and boys differently. Older men may train boys to run drugs or steal from shoppers in Takoradi’s crowded Market Circle. Girls, meanwhile, might cook or wash dishes in ramshackle eateries called chop bars. Or they might move into someone’s house and become a maidservant.

The second is prostitution.

“Because of oil, now they have turned to prostitution,” says Comfort Osei Gerning, a foster mother with Mercy Foundation, a local children’s group. “The girls have turned to prostitution, and we have some boys who have turned to (having sex with men).”

The Zenith Hotel is the seat of downtown Takoradi’s nightlife. It is a bright red building next to a taxi station, and food hawkers crowd its corners late into the evening. Inside, men sip alcohol in a gloomy courtyard while prostitutes cruise the tables.

“Those ones aged 12 to 15, they are a different group,” Gerning says. “They are called the Thousand Girls. They charge cheap because they are kids.”

The name is a reference to Ghana’s old devalued currency. Ten Ghanaian cedi (six dollars) used to be 1,000 Ghanaian cedi. And it is what the girls charge. Apart from the Zenith, child prostitutes are said to haunt the Harbour View bar and the beaches of both Takoradi and Sekondi.

“Before you get to them, you have to pass through some grown-ups,” Gerning says. “They will collect the money from you and show you the place. It is someone’s business.”

This happens despite the existence of Ghana’s 1998 Children’s Act. Its clauses rail against child exploitation.

The act mandates the metropolis’ Social Services Sub-Committee to enforce its labour provisions. No one under 18 is allowed to do hazardous work, like going out to sea. No one under 15 is permitted to do manual labour. And light work is not allowed for anyone under 13. The committee can conduct investigations and recommend police action.

John Davis, representative for the metropolitan electoral area of West Anajy, has been the head of the committee for three months. Though he is aware of both child prostitution and labour in the metropolis, he says there have been no investigations under his tenure, and he is not aware of any conducted by the previous committee.

Davis is not able to offer any statistics at all, though he says assembly members were asked a month ago to gather information in their constituencies.

“We have not given any resources to do it,” he admits. “No resources in terms of vehicles or whatever.”

Instead, the committee will focus on an “education campaign”, speaking about the issue on the radio and elsewhere in public.

A lack of resources characterises much of government’s efforts in upholding the Children’s Act.

Kwaku Agyemang Duah, head of Community Care programmes with the Regional Department of Social Welfare, says the department has about 30 officers at its disposal. It needs a minimum of 80.

They also need a shelter for kids with no homes. The nearest one is four hours away in Accra, the country’s capital. And even if there was a shelter, they would need funds for feeding children as well as general maintenance.

“We present a budget every year,” he says, “but what comes out of it is a different story.”

Duah points to his office as a microcosm of the department’s financial straits. The floor looks like a warehouse. He has a desk and a filing cabinet and some rickety chairs. He has no computer and no office phone. The regional director’s office next door is only marginally better.

“I see it as a problem in developing countries,” says Peter Twineboa-Kodua, the regional director at the department. “We have not gone so far to look at the development of the individual as a human resource. Other (government) agencies on the financial side, they get everything they want. You can see their target. But child health, you cannot see the target.”

Unencumbered by bureaucracy, the Mercy Foundation has been able to make strides in addressing the problem. In the days before oil, when child labour was more a result of parents migrating to Ivory Coast to work in those fishing communities, they ran a school that involved 400 at risk children. It was funded by a World Bank grant that ran dry in 2004.

Smaller donations make other projects possible, however. Children have been re-integrated into the government schooling system. Those who were too de-institutionalised were taught vocations.

Obama Silent As US Murders Troy Davis | Common Dreams

Obama Silent As US Murders Troy Davis

Obama deflected calls for him to get involved

by Greg Bluestein

JACKSON, Ga. — Georgia executed Troy Davis on Wednesday night for the murder of an off-duty police officer, a crime he denied committing right to the end as supporters around the world mourned and declared that an innocent man was put to death.

A woman holds a protest sign outside President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago, on September 16, 2011, calling for action to stop the execution of Troy Davis. Defiant to the end, he told relatives of Mark MacPhail that his 1989 slaying was not his fault. “I did not have a gun,” he insisted.

“For those about to take my life,” he told prison officials, “may God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls.”

Davis was declared dead at 11:08. The lethal injection began about 15 minutes earlier, after the Supreme Court rejected an 11th-hour request for a stay.

The court did not comment on its order, which came about four hours after it received the request and more than three hours after the planned execution time.

Though Davis’ attorneys said seven of nine key witnesses against him disputed all or parts of their testimony, state and federal judges repeatedly ruled against granting him a new trial. As the court losses piled up Wednesday, his offer to take a polygraph test was rejected and the pardons board refused to give him one more hearing.

Davis’ supporters staged vigils in the U.S. and Europe, declaring “I am Troy Davis” on signs, T-shirts and the Internet. Some tried increasingly frenzied measures, urging prison workers to stay home and even posting a judge’s phone number online, hoping people will press him to put a stop to the lethal injection. President Barack Obama deflected calls for him to get involved.

“They say death row; we say hell no!” protesters shouted outside the Jackson prison where Davis was to be executed. In Washington, a crowd outside the Supreme Court yelled the same chant.

As many as 700 demonstrators gathered outside the prison as a few dozen riot police stood watch, but the crowd thinned as the night wore on and the outcome became clear. The scene turned eerily quiet as word of the high court’s decision spread, with demonstrators hugging, crying, praying, holding candles and gathering around Davis’ family.

Laura Moye of Amnesty International said the execution would be “the best argument for abolishing the death penalty.”

“The state of Georgia is about to demonstrate why government can’t be trusted with the power over life and death,” she said.

About 10 counterdemonstrators also were outside the prison, showing support for the death penalty and the family of Mark MacPhail, the man Davis was convicted of killing in 1989. MacPhail’s son and brother attended the execution.

“He had all the chances in the world,” his mother, Anneliese MacPhail, said of Davis in a telephone interview. “It has got to come to an end.”

At a Paris rally, many of the roughly 150 demonstrators carried signs emblazoned with Davis’ face. “Everyone who looks a little bit at the case knows that there is too much doubt to execute him,” Nicolas Krameyer of Amnesty International said at the protest.

Davis’ execution has been stopped three times since 2007, but on Wednesday the 42-year-old ran out of legal options.

As his last hours ticked away, an upbeat and prayerful Davis turned down an offer for a special last meal as he met with friends, family and supporters.

“Troy Davis has impacted the world,” his sister Martina Correia said at a news conference. “They say, `I am Troy Davis,’ in languages he can’t speak.”

His attorney Stephen Marsh said Davis would have spent part of Wednesday taking a polygraph test if pardons officials had taken his offer seriously.

“He doesn’t want to spend three hours away from his family on what could be the last day of his life if it won’t make any difference,” Marsh said.

Amnesty International says nearly 1 million people have signed a petition on Davis’ behalf. His supporters include former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, a former FBI director, the NAACP, several conservative figures and many celebrities, including hip-hop star Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.

“I’m trying to bring the word to the young people: There is too much doubt,” rapper Big Boi, of the Atlanta-based group Outkast, said at a church near the prison.

The U.S. Supreme Court gave Davis an unusual opportunity to prove his innocence in a lower court last year, though the high court itself did not hear the merits of the case.

He was convicted in 1991 of killing MacPhail, who was working as a security guard at the time. MacPhail rushed to the aid of a homeless man who prosecutors said Davis was bashing with a handgun after asking him for a beer. Prosecutors said Davis had a smirk on his face as he shot the officer to death in a Burger King parking lot in Savannah.

No gun was ever found, but prosecutors say shell casings were linked to an earlier shooting for which Davis was convicted.

Witnesses placed Davis at the crime scene and identified him as the shooter, but several of them have recanted their accounts and some jurors have said they’ve changed their minds about his guilt. Others have claimed a man who was with Davis that night has told people he actually shot the officer.

“Such incredibly flawed eyewitness testimony should never be the basis for an execution,” Marsh said. “To execute someone under these circumstances would be unconscionable.”

State and federal courts, however, have repeatedly upheld Davis’ conviction. One federal judge dismissed the evidence advanced by Davis’ lawyers as “largely smoke and mirrors.”

“He has had ample time to prove his innocence,” said MacPhail’s widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris. “And he is not innocent.”

The last motion filed by Davis’ attorneys in Butts County Court challenged testimony from two witnesses and disputed testimony from the expert who linked the shell casings to the earlier shooting involving Davis. Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson and the Georgia Supreme Court rejected the appeal, and prosecutors said the filing was just a delay tactic.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which helped lead the charge to stop the execution, said it considered asking Obama to intervene, even though he cannot grant Davis clemency for a state conviction.

Press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement saying that although Obama “has worked to ensure accuracy and fairness in the criminal justice system,” it was not appropriate for him “to weigh in on specific cases like this one, which is a state prosecution.”

Dozens of protesters outside the White House called on the president to step in, and about 12 were arrested for disobeying police orders.

Davis was not the only U.S. inmate put to death Wednesday evening. In Texas, white supremacist gang member Lawrence Russell Brewer was put to death for the 1998 dragging death of a black man, James Byrd Jr., one of the most notorious hate crime murders in recent U.S. history.

Davis’ best chance may have come last year, in a hearing ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the first time in 50 years that justices had considered a request to grant a new trial for a death row inmate.

The high court set a tough standard for Davis to exonerate himself, ruling that his attorneys must “clearly establish” Davis’ innocence – a higher bar to meet than prosecutors having to prove guilt. After the hearing judge ruled in prosecutors’ favor, the justices didn’t take up the case.

The execution drew widespread criticism in Europe, where politicians and activists made last-minute pleas for a stay.

Spencer Lawton, the district attorney who secured Davis’ conviction in 1991, said he was embarrassed for the judicial system – not because of the execution, but because it took so long to carry out.

“What we have had is a manufactured appearance of doubt which has taken on the quality of legitimate doubt itself. And all of it is exquisitely unfair,” said Lawton, who retired as Chatham County’s head prosecutor in 2008. “The good news is we live in a civilized society where questions like this are decided based on fact in open and transparent courts of law, and not on street corners.”

Associated Press reporters Russ Bynum in Savannah, Kate Brumback and Marina Hutchinson in Jackson, Eric Tucker and Erica Werner in Washington and Sohrab Monemi in Paris contributed to this report.