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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

New Labour Supports Benefit Attacks and ‘Welfare Reforms’

Catt Reilly outside the Royal Courts of Justice
On 12th February 2013, a student Cat Reilly and a lorry driver Jamieson Wilson successfully took the government to court.  They argued that the benefit sanctions as being implemented were unlawful.  The Court of Appeal agreed.  Highly unusually, the Government immediately passed legislation of a retrospective nature, i.e. makes what wasn’t unlawful lawful.  Because this is like changing time and creates uncertainty as to what the law is, if an offence can suddently not become an offence, or something which is not an offence suddenty becomes a crime.  

Retrospective legislation is therefore very rare and it was only with the co-operation of the spineless Labour leadership under Ed Milliband that it was passed.
 

This raises another, wider problem.  Between all 3 major political parties there is barely a hair difference.  All three support neo-liberalism and the erosion of the NHS and Welfare State.  Indeed it can genuinely said that there is nothing New Labour did that the Tories/Lib. Dems haven’t continued.

Tony Greenstein
Ian Duncan-Smith, who ducked the challenge to try and live on £53 a week
the first Attlee government


Britain needs a new political party that rejects neoliberal policies and improves the lives of ordinary people


Posted: 29 Mar 2013

Clement Attlee, British Prime Minister 1945-51
As the age of austerity bites harder and deeper than many anticipated, it is little wonder that Ken Loach's new film The Spirit of '45,  charting the great post-war social advances, strikes a powerful chord. Yet the promise of opportunity, dignity, health and work, fulfilled by Labour's welfare state after 1945, is not to be one that we can look to today's Labour party for. Yet contemporary Britain – and beyond – is precisely where such policies are needed.
Ken Loach
Austerity is wreaking economic catastrophe on Europe, most recently on the people of Cyprus, but George Osborne is still following the same disastrous policies. Last week's budget came as no surprise: Osborne announced yet more spending cuts and extended the public sector's pay rise cap, amounting to a real terms pay cut. He's digging us even further into an economic hole, as the Office for Budget Responsibility's http://cdn.budgetresponsibility.independent.gov.uk/March-2013-EFO-44734674673453.pdf revised output forecast shows – from a predicted 1.2% growth down to 0.6%. That sounds like further decline, not the promised growth, and ordinary people are paying the price. The virulence of the government's economic attacks knows no bounds: Atos, workfare, council tax, the bedroom tax – punitive policies against the most vulnerable in society.
Catt Reilly outside slave labour employers Poundland
Judged by its own stated goals, government policy isn't working – borrowing will be around £61.5bn higher than planned. Of course the reality is that austerity policies are actually designed to dismantle the welfare state, bring down wages and fully marketise the economy, destroying all the social and economic gains of ordinary people since the second world war. So from the government point of view the policies are working.

Across society, there is an increasing understanding of the government's real agenda and as a result, opposition is mounting and economic alternatives are being discussed. Only last week, the Guardian published a letter from over 60 economists, warning that the worst was yet to come with 80% of the cuts still ahead of us.

Yet while economic alternatives are articulated, where can we turn politically to see these expressed as party policy? Who is on our side, to fight for an alternative? In the past many expected the Labour party to stand for us, and with us, but no longer. Workfare? Last week Labour abstained on the vote  and now the government can work over quarter of a million jobseekers. Bedroom tax? Would a Labour government repeal it?

We need policies that reject Tory cuts, regenerate the economy and improve the lives of ordinary people. We are not getting this from Labour. There is no doubt that some of Labour's past achievements have been remarkable – the welfare state, the NHS; a redistributive economy making unprecedented levels of health and education possible. But such achievements are in the past. Now Labour embraces cuts and privatisation and is dismantling its own great work. Labour has failed us. Nothing shows the contrast more clearly than The Spirit of '45.

Poundland - one of the shops benefiting from free labour
Labour is not alone in its shift rightwards and its embrace of neoliberal economic policies. Its sister parties across Europe have taken the same path over the past two decades. Yet elsewhere in Europe, new parties and coalitions – such as Syriza in Greece or Die Linke in Germany – have begun to fill the left space, offering an alternative political, social and economic vision. The anomaly which leaves Britain without a left political alternative – one defending the welfare state, investing for jobs, homes and education, transforming our economy – has to end. For this reason we are calling on people to join the discussion on forming a new party of the left – you can find out more about our appeal here. The working class cannot remain without political representation, without defence, when all its victories and advances are being destroyed.

Ken Loach, Kate Hudson and Gilbert Achcar

Labour 'pressed MPs to abstain on welfare vote'

MPs put under 'significant pressure' by party leaders to abstain on crucial vote, says outgoing parliamentary private secretary

Shiv Malik and Hugh Mui, guardian.co.uk, Sunday 24 March 2013

The bill, which seeks to overturn a court appeal ruling on the Poundland case, is expected to be passed into law this week.

Labour's frontbench team put "significant pressure" on MPs to abstain during a crucial vote on emergency retrospective welfare legislation, a recently resigned parliamentary private secretary has told the Guardian.

Ian Mearns MP said he voted against the government's jobseekers (back-to-work schemes) bill on Tuesday because he thought the unemployed were already suffering enough from "Kafkaesque" benefit sanction decisions made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The fast-tracked bill, which seeks to overturn the outcome of a court appeal ruling on the Poundland case, is expected to be passed into law early this week.

It will ensure that the DWP no longer has to pay £130m in benefit sanction rebates to 250,000 jobseekers by retrospectively making lawful regulations deemed unlawful by three senior judges since February.

Mearns said that after passing through the Commons' no lobby he sent a text to his former boss, the shadow secretary for international development, Ivan Lewis, and the party's chief whip, Rosie Winterton, saying he had resigned.

"I was under no illusions that I would be sacked if I voted against the party wishes. So immediately on having gone through the no lobby and having voted against the government bill, I then texted both the chief whip and the shadow secretary of state for international development … to say, with a heavy heart, I resign."

"Among 43 or 44 Labour MPs who voted [against the bill], I was the one who had the PPS position. But I know a significant amount of pressure was brought to bear on other colleagues in similar positions.

"There were an awful lot of people who were clearly unhappy … well over half of the parliamentary Labour party were clearly uncomfortable with the position that was taken by the leadership,"
Mearns said.

The Gateshead MP said that during last Monday's weekly meeting of the parliamentary Labour party "there wasn't a single person in the room who spoke in agreement with the position being put forward by the leadership team".

His description of the meeting was confirmed by other MPs who did not want to be named.

Mearns said the rebellion by over 40 Labour MPs included a former chief whip, Nick Brown, former housing minister John Healey and a former junior minister, Derek Twigg.

"These people aren't the usual suspects. I think the frontbench had their reasons [for wanting everyone to abstain from voting] but I must admit, I still don't completely understand why we were put into that position in the first instance."

One Labour source said the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, had not wanted to lose fiscal credibility on the eve of the budget by being seen to be favouring a £130m payout to benefit claimants.

Mearns criticised his own shadow frontbench for misunderstanding the nature of the benefit sanctions regime.

"It just seems to me that our frontbench stance is that everybody who's been guilty of some sort of [benefit] infringement and had a sanction against them since 2011 is someone swinging the lead or taking a political stance," he said.

"Gosh, I really do wish there were that many thousands of people who were willing to take a political stance and lose benefits for the sake of putting a marker down against workfare … I just don't think that's the case at all."

Mearns spoke as disgruntled Labour MPs prepared to vent more rage at Monday's planned meeting of the parliamentary Labour party. Many who obeyed the order to abstain anticipate an angry reaction from union backers and activists in their constituencies. "There is a lot of anger still because we were forced to do something that we knew was wrong," he said.

Ed Miliband is not expected to attend the meeting but a source said Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary and target of much ire, is likely to be, adding: "The feeling is that left to his own devices we would consistently be voting with the Tories. We urgently need to develop a distinctively Labour approach on welfare and not just keep following the Tories."

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Criticism of Israel – wrong. Support for child abuse – right.

Yeshiva University Attacked by Zionist Right for Honouring Jimmy Carter

As readers of this blog will know, child sexual abuse is not only rife within the Jewish Orthodox community, but it is a terrible sin for the child or their parents to report it to the secular authorities.

One particularly repulsive creature, Rabbi Mannis Friedman, is on record as saying that being abused is a useful experience for children and that they will benefit from it.  As the article below demonstrates, plain ol’ ordinary racism is no bar to an award but criticism of Israel is a ‘chilul hashem’ – a terrible crime against god.  Comparing women to monkeys and calling Black people ‘schvartzes’ (nigger) is no bar to an award however.

Yeshiva Alumni Angry Over Award for Jimmy Carter — Not Hershel Schachter

Stance on Israel Draws Heat, Not Sex Abuse Controversy

Former President Jimmy Carter has irked Yeshiva alumni with his criticism of Israel. But an honor for Rabbi Hershel Schachter, who used a racial slur to describe blacks, hasn’t drawn nearly the same controversy.

By Paul Berger
Published April 14, 2013

Yeshiva Demonstration Against Jimmy Carter Honor Fizzles at Cardozo

Outraged Y.U. Alumni Hope To Block Jimmy Carter From Cardozo Peace Honor

Yeshiva University finds itself immersed this spring in a tale of two honorees. One, a former president of the United States, is accused of anti-Israel bias. The other, a leading Y.U. rabbi, is accused of racism and a disregard for victims of child sex abuse.

Hershel Schachter, the Y.U. rabbi in question, has also been criticized in years past for suggesting that the prime minister of Israel be shot if he compromises with the Palestinians on Jerusalem, and for appearing to compare women to monkeys.
The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan. Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
But while an event organized by Y.U.’s rabbinic school to honor Schachter in May has aroused little opposition, the decision by a student-run journal at Y.U.’s law school to honor former president Jimmy Carter on April 10 sparked swift, furious and widespread criticism.

Indeed, the angry reaction to Carter’s appearance seemed to dwarf even the recent outrage over allegations that Y.U. failed to deal adequately with suspected physical, emotional and sexual abuse of teenage students at its Manhattan high school throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

The reason for the difference is simple, according to Samuel Heilman, a sociologist of American Jewry, at Queens College. “The Carter problem [exists because of] a very powerful, right-wing, pro-Israel stance within Yeshiva University,” Heilman said. “Whereas opposition to what Schachter said comes more from the liberal side of the spectrum, which is not as well represented at Yeshiva University [just] as it is not well represented these days in Orthodoxy.”

Schachter sparked controversy in March when excerpts of a talk he had delivered a month earlier in London appeared online.

In the talk, Schachter made a series of controversial statements. Among them, he claimed that state prisons were dangerous for Jews because they could be locked up “with a shvartze, in a cell with a Muslim, a black Muslim who wants to kill all the Jews.” He also suggested that instead of immediately contacting police regarding an allegation of child sex abuse, the allegation should first be taken before a committee of psychologists trained in Torah to ensure that the child is not lying.

Schachter’s comments could not have come at a worse time for Y.U. The school hired an international law firm last December to conduct an investigation following allegations, published in the Forward, that two former employees of Y.U.’s high school, Rabbi George Finkelstein and Rabbi Macy Gordon, had abused students. Some students said that they or their parents warned Y.U. of the abuse, but their pleas were ignored. Finkelstein and Gordon deny the allegations.

Y.U.’s chancellor, Rabbi Norman Lamm, told the Forward that during his tenure as president of Y.U., from 1976 to 2003, staff who were believed to have had “improper sexual activity” with students were quietly forced out and law enforcement authorities were not informed.

Following the disclosure of Schachter’s comments on child sexual abuse, Y.U. initially distanced itself from the remarks. After being contacted by the Anti-Defamation League, Y.U. condemned Schachter’s use of the word “shvartze” as “inappropriate” and “offensive.”

Nevertheless, Y.U. has continued with its plans to fete Schachter as “guest of honor” at its annual Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary dinner, which will be held this year at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, on May 1.

An article posted to Y.U.’s website about the event lauds Schachter as a “renowned posek,” or a decisor on Jewish law, and cites his “distinguished association and career” with Y.U. since 1967.
So far, only one RIETS alum has publicly protested Y.U. honoring Schachter. In a letter posted online March 21, Barry Dolinger of Congregation Beth Sholom, in Providence, R.I., stated that Lamm’s and Schachter’s behavior, as well as Y.U.’s inaction, “have caused unbelievable chilul Hashem [desecration of God]…causing many of the faithful to give up or shun observance, Rabbis, God, and causing less observant Jews and non-Jews to view our people as backwards, self-serving, or inauthentic.” Because of this, Dolinger said, he would boycott the RIETS dinner.

In an interview, Dolinger told the Forward that he feared that negative stories emanating from Y.U. contributed to people becoming cynical about Modern Orthodoxy or leaving the movement altogether. “I don’t think that, with all due respect, the leadership understands that this is killing us,” he said. Dolinger added that dozens of people had contacted him to offer their support.
Still, no one posted a public comment underneath Dolinger’s letter. And the Forward is aware of no other rabbi who has complained publicly about the event.

Psychotherapist Stacey Klein found herself in a similar situation when she launched an online petition January 14, calling on Y.U. to commit to making public its forthcoming report into abuse allegations. Klein, a Y.U. alum, said that many people were too scared of appearing to “break with Y.U.” to sign the petition. Three months on, only 260 people have signed.

Gary Emmanuel did not have time to compose a petition against the April 10 presentation of Carter’s award. He only found out on April 3 — and confirmed a couple of days later — that Cardozo’s Journal of Conflict Resolution planned to honor Carter with its International Advocate for Peace Award.

Emmanuel, along with many other alumni, fumed when he heard that Carter, a harsh critic of Israeli policies on the occupied West Bank, was being honored at a Y.U.-affiliated institution.

Emmanuel launched a new group, the Coalition of Concerned Cardozo Alumni, and a simple website, Shame on Cardozo, on April 6. Within three days, galvanized by media attention — including in the Forward — more than 5,000 people had visited the site, including about 1,300 people who took an online poll about whether Carter should be honored (87% were against).

Emmanuel said that over just a few days, dozens of irate alumni copied him on emails to Y.U. administrators, vowing that they would cease contributing to the institution.

One alum threatened to stage an act of civil disobedience by physically blocking Carter from entering Cardozo. Political commentator Alan Dershowitz weighed in, telling Haaretz that Carter “never met a terrorist he didn’t like” and that he was “unworthy” of the award. The National Council of Young Israel demanded that Y.U. rescind its invitation to Carter.

On April 8, Y.U. President Richard Joel was forced to issue a statement distancing the institution from the award, which he stressed was given by a “student-run” publication. Joel underscored that he strongly disagreed with “many of President Carter’s statements and actions” in regard to the Middle East.

Rabbi Yosef Blau, who has been a spiritual adviser at RIETS for almost 40 years, said it had not gone unnoticed that Carter’s award appeared to have generated “more concern” than the issues of alleged abuse at Y.U. itself and Schachter’s recent controversial remarks. Blau pointed out that Cardozo is a professional graduate school, wholly secular in nature, though affiliated with Y.U. Its alumni, he said, have very different concerns than those who graduate from RIETS and from Yeshiva College, the university’s undergraduate school. Indeed, anti-Carter activist Emmanuel, who graduated from Cardozo’s Masters of Laws program, said he was unaware of the child sex abuse controversy at Y.U. and of the firestorm over Schachter’s comments.

But Emmanuel said that comparing the two issues is unfair.

The primary reason his campaign attracted so much attention so quickly, Emmanuel explained, is that he is heavily involved in Israel advocacy and has good contacts for quickly disseminating information to the correct people.

“I don’t think you’re giving enough credit to who we know and how we get this out,” Emmanuel said. “This wasn’t a fluke.”
Contact Paul Berger at berger@ forward.com or on Twitter, @pdberger.

Read more:

After Uproar, No One Shows To Protest Jimmy Carter At Yeshiva University

by Aryeh Younger Apr 10, 2013 6:40 PM EDT

All the hype about the decision by students at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law to honor Jimmy Carter ended with a whimper today, not a bang. Carter received the International Advocate for Peace, bestowed by a student-run journal, without any of the hoopla one might expect from the controversy generated by the announcement that he would receive the honor. As the award ceremony commenced, not a single protester could be found. The event, which had supposedly caused uproar in the Jewish world, proved to be nothing more than angry online rhetoric from Cardozo’s pool of hawkish pro-Israel alumni.

As I waited outside of the Cardozo building, several reporters, mostly from Jewish newspapers, commiserated. Cardozo alumni had declared their willingness to stop Carter from entering the building. “Mr. Carter ain’t going to get anywhere,” one of the alumni blustered, according to the Forward. But bluster was all it was: Carter entered and left the building without incident. "Anti-Carter protestors are a no-show at Cardozo award scene. Not even one," tweeted Haaretz's Chemi Shalev from the scene. "Other than a few pro-Carterites and one foul- mouthed anti-Semite, all quiet as students file into Cardozo hall for Carter ceremony."

Carter's honor received growing media attention this past week, even rising to stories in two major national newspapers today. The New York Times reported that tensions ran high "because Cardozo is a part of Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish institution where support for the state of Israel runs high. And among supporters of Israel, there are few figures more controversial than Mr. Carter, who has repeatedly criticized Israeli policy toward Palestinians and described their circumstances as apartheid."

None of the hawkish Yeshiva supporter apparently believed that it was worthwhile to actually show up. The plans to protest fell apart just before Carter arrived for the ceremony. Michael Osborne, a pro-Israel advocate and sophomore at Yeshiva’s Sy Syms School of Business, tried organizing a rally against the ceremony. “Unfortunately, the event was in the middle of the day, and students couldn’t leave class to protest,” he said. Osborne claims to have been in contact with Cardozo alumni who “simply didn’t come through in the end.”

Ben Winter, a senior at Yeshiva College, claims that YU’s students are ultimately unwilling to physically volunteer themselves for pro-Israel causes. “While many students at YU feel strongly about their Zionism, few have the courage to publicly express their opinions,” he said.

One wonders how the media will react to the next pro-Israel uproar at Yeshiva University. Judging from the disappointment that myself and the others journalists felt at the anti-climax, I highly doubt it will
.
Aryeh Younger is the current editor-in-chief of The Beacon, an online publication for and by the younger Modern Orthodox Jewish community. He has studied at Israel’s Yeshivat Har Etzion and New York’s Yeshiva University. His writing appears regularly in the Jerusalem Post and other publications.
For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com.

Cyber War Over Facebook Page "I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists" in Israel

Israel Pays a  Host of Bloggers to Defend It



More at The Real News



Monday, 22 April 2013

Major Victory for anti-Fascists in Brighton Again

The Fascists' Idea of a 'Family Day Out'

No doubt lynching is also part of a 'family day out' for March for England.  These were the people that our 'diversity' Police were protecting when they spent £1 protecting 50 boneheads
The poster says it all

March for England allegedly began as a ‘family fun day’ out.  Today it was quite clear that it has become nothing more than an English Defence League group.  Not a woman or child went anywhere near the overweight thugs, racists, drunks and fascists who participated in celebrating St. George’s Day, who was Greek not British anyway!

The real face of Brighton

As can be seen from the photographs, the fascist idea of a day-out at the seaside differs markedly from anyone else.
Another example of all the fund of a 'family day out' for the EDL
The day itself began with a victory.  The Police wouldn’t countenance a march through Brighton from the railway station after last year’s debacle in which they got less than half way before being diverted down side streets.  Fascists are no longer able to march at whim through town and had to be content with shouting at the piers.
without the heavy protection of the Police, the EDL would have been lynched

Anti-fascists also have lessons to learn in terms of combating roving bands of fascists looking for the vulnerable to beat up.
50 fascists set off on their mobile kettle.  No-one could hear or see them (apart from the seagulls who used them as a convenient toilet)
But what amazed me, on the seafront, where I confined myself to taking pictures because I am convalescing, was how every single comment from ordinary passers-by was hostile to the fascists, such as one elderly women remarking to her friend that you can’t blame a whole people (Muslims) for the actions of one individual.  The EDL are a dying force and I counted between 50 and 60 on the march at the maximum.  For this Sussex Police, who are always complaining of lack of resources, spent close to £1 million to impose a march that no one wants on the town.

A new tactic - the Police are now physically sealing off roads using metal plate.  This was done right up to West Street and must have cost a fortune.  It seems that the Police will spare no effort to protect the fascists

Credit is due in particular to the anarchists who played a major part in the counter-organisation whilst realising that not everyone is able or willing to engage in physical confrontation.  The idea of big, fluorescent posters proclaiming things like ‘Racism not wanted here’ worked wonderfully.
EDL attack a lone anti-fascist.  We trust that now the Police have clear evidence they will be making arrests and prosecuting!

As it is the EDL held a short march between the piers inside what was effect a mobile police kettle.  As people shouted at them, ‘no one can hear you anyway’ and that was true.  All you could see is them gesticulating.  It is alleged that a bottle was thrown at them.  This blog, of course, doesn’t condone wanton violence but I’m glad to report that the bottle is making a full recovery though the skull it hit is beyond repair.

Instead of bringing contingents down from Surrey, the Met, City of London Police, Hampshire and no doubt elsewhere, the Police should tell the EDL if they want to mach then that’s fine, but don’t expect us to protect you.  But then, at the end of the day, the fascists' message is one that large numbers of Police share.

To those who say we should ignore them, that is always the best way to help fascism grow.  19 people were arrested, we don’t know how many will be charged and if they are all anti-fascists but it is essential that people ensure that the cost of any fines is carried by the movement and not individuals.

The Argus estimated there were over 1,000 counter-demonstrators compared to 150 fascists.  My estimate, including EDL not on the march, is 70 fascists maximum and between one and a half and two thousand anti-fascists, many of whom were locals who joined on the spot.

Surprise, surprise.  The Zionists who make such as fuss about 'anti-Semitism' every Saturday outside  Sodastream were nowhere to be seen!  Fighting fascism isn't part of opposing anti-Semitism.
It's easy to be brave behind a police kettle

Tony Greenstein



  

two police spies
 

the fat one has difficulty with his camera
 

On the left and right are 2 suspected EDL supporters
These three characters were part of a roaming band of EDL supporters

a moronic EDL member pleads with the police to be let through to join his mates (in vain)

Another EDLer


The EDL march gets underway late as usual
 
a few photos of the master race
the one on the right shows his fear of what would happen if the Police weren't there.  Not the traditional role of fascism.
Spot a Nazi 1
spot a nazi 2
One of the saner members of the EDL - raging at being caged in
A sea of police and anti-fascists.  The EDL aren't even visible
You do sometimes wonder whether the fascists really do conform to their own racial theories - with fascist numbskulls at the bottom of the ladder
The other side of the new street metal sealers
Celebrating in the way they know best - behind the appropriately named  'bar rogue'!
 


 

The real face of Brighton as an estimated 1,500 pack the Old Steine
The reaction of ordinary townsmen and women to the fascist filth
Local Green MP Carolyn Lucas shows her support for the anti-fascists.  Tory Mike Weatherly, personally responsible for the freezing to death of 2 homeless persons who were threatened with arrest if they broke in to a building to sleep, had nothing to say about the EDL and merely congratulated the Police
looking worried, as well they might

Saturday, 20 April 2013

DICK GREGORY TO FAST UNTIL IMPRISONED ATTORNEY LYNNE STEWART IS FREED

The US State is Murdering a Lawyer for Defending a Client in the name of ‘terrorism’

Dick Gregory issued a declaration today, on the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., that “I shall refuse all solid food until Lynne Stewart is freed and receives medical treatment in the care of her family and with physicians of her choice without which she will die.
Dick Gregory
The 73-year-old Stewart, a renowned criminal defense attorney, is suffering from Stage 4 cancer. Gregory, known for his social activism as much as his for comedic wit and political commentary, has taken this step to reinforce the worldwide petition in support of Stewart’s application for compassionate release. Over 6,000 people, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Pete Seeger, have signed to date with the numbers growing by the minute.
Lynn Gregory addressing supporters
As a criminal defense lawyer for over 30 years, Lynne Stewart defended the poor, the disadvantaged and those targeted by the police and the State. Such has been her reputation that judges assigned her routinely to act for defendants whom no attorney was willing to represent. One of these was the blind Egyptian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who Stewart represented with co-counsels former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Abdeen Jabara.

In 2002, Lynne Stewart was targeted by then-President George Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft for providing a vigorous defense of her client. She was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist activity after she exercised both her and her client’s first amendment rights by presenting a press release to a Reuters journalist.

In 2006, while the Department of Justice demanded a 30-year sentence, Judge John Koetl, handed down a 28-month sentence noting: “By providing a criminal defense to the poor, the disadvantaged and unpopular over three decades, it is no exaggeration to say that Ms. Stewart performed a public service not only to her clients but to the nation.”

That sentence, however, was not to stand as the Second Circuit Appellate Court, withdrew Lynne Stewart’s bail — even though her case is still before the courts — and remanded the case back to Judge Koetl with the harsh demand that he revisit his sentence and issue a severely enhanced one. On July 15, 2010, Judge Koeltl increased Stewart’s sentence from 28 months to 10 years imprisonment. This has become a virtual death sentence for Lynne Stewart.

As Gregory so eloquently states:  “The reason for the prosecution and persecution of Lynne Stewart is evident to us all. It was designed to intimidate the entire legal community so that few would dare to defend political clients whom the State demonizes and none would provide a vigorous defense. It also was designed to narrow the meaning of our cherished first amendment right to free speech, which the people of this country struggled to have added to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights.”

DECLARATION BY DICK GREGORY — APRIL 4, 2013

I hereby declare on this day commemorating the life and sacrifice of my friend and brother in struggle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that in the spirit of his moral legacy, I demand the immediate release from prison of the legendary lawyer Lynne Stewart, who devoted her entire professional life to the poor, the oppressed and those targeted by the police and a vindictive State.

I further declare that from this day forth, I shall refuse all solid food until Lynne Stewart is freed and receives medical treatment in the care of her family and with physicians of her choice without which she will die.

There is no time to lose as cancer, which had been in remission, has metastasized since her imprisonment. It has spread to her lymph nodes, her shoulder and appears in her bones and in her lungs.

A criminal defense attorney in New York for over 30 years, Lynne Stewart’s unwavering dedication as a selfless advocate was acknowledged by the community as well as judges, prosecutors and the entire legal profession. Such has been her reputation as a fearless lawyer, ready to challenge those in power, that judges assigned her routinely to act for defendants whom no attorney was willing to represent.

In 2002, Lynne Stewart was targeted by then-President George Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft for providing a vigorous defense of her client, the blind Egyptian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. She was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist activity after she exercised both her and her client’s first amendment rights by presenting a press release to a Reuters journalist. She did nothing more than other attorneys, such as her co-counsel former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, have done on behalf of their clients.

The reason for the prosecution and persecution of Lynne Stewart is evident to us all. It was designed to intimidate the entire legal community so that few would dare to defend political clients whom the State demonizes and none would provide a vigorous defense. It also was designed to narrow the meaning of our cherished first amendment right to free speech, which the people of this country struggled to have added to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights.

The prosecution and imprisonment of Lynne Stewart is an ominous threat to the freedom, rights and dignity of each and every American. It is the agenda of a police state.

I ask you to join with me to demand freedom for Lynne Stewart. An international campaign has been launched with a petition that supports her application for compassionate release. Under the 1984 Sentencing Act, the Bureau of Prisons can file a motion with the Court to reduce sentences “for extraordinary and compelling reasons.” Life threatening illness is foremost among these and Lynne Stewart meets every rational and humane criterion for compassionate release.

Join with me, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pete Seeger and 6,000 other people of conscience throughout the world who have signed this petition to compel the Warden of the Federal Medical Center, Carswell and the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to act. Act now. There is no time to lose.

The petition (below) can be found online at the Justice for Lynne Stewart website: or at

PETITION TO FREE LYNNE STEWART: SAVE HER LIFE – RELEASE HER NOW!

Lynne Stewart has devoted her life to the oppressed – a constant advocate for the countless many deprived in the United States of their freedom and their rights.

Unjustly charged and convicted for the “crime” of providing her client with a fearless defense, the prosecution of Lynne Stewart is an assault upon the basic freedoms of us all.
After years of post-conviction freedom, her bail was revoked arbitrarily and her imprisonment ordered, precluding surgery she had scheduled in a major New York hospital.

The sinister meaning of the relentless persecution of Lynne Stewart is unmistakably clear. Given her age and precarious health, the ten-year sentence she is serving is a virtual death sentence.

Since her imprisonment in the Federal Prison in Carswell, Texas her urgent need for surgery was delayed 18 months – so long, that the operating physician pronounced the condition as “the worst he had seen.”

Now, breast cancer, which had been in remission prior to her imprisonment, has reached Stage Four. It has appeared in her lymph nodes, on her shoulder, in her bones and her lungs.

Her daughter, a physician, has sounded the alarm: “Under the best of circumstances, Lynne would be in a battle of the most serious consequences with dangerous odds. With cancer and cancer treatment, the complications can be as debilitating and as dangerous as the cancer itself.”

In her current setting, where trips to physicians involve attempting to walk with 10 pounds of shackles on her wrists and ankles, with connecting chains, Lynne Stewart has lacked ready access to physicians and specialists under conditions compatible with medical success.

It can take weeks to see a medical provider in prison conditions. It can take weeks to report physical changes and learn the results of treatment; and when held in the hospital, Lynne has been shackled wrist and ankle to the bed.

This medieval “shackling” has little to do with any appropriate prison control. She is obviously not an escape risk.

We demand abolition of this practice for all prisoners, let alone those facing surgery and the urgent necessity of care and recovery.

It amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of human rights.

There is immediate remedy available for Lynne Stewart. Under the 1984 Sentencing Act, after a prisoner request, the Bureau of Prisons can file a motion with the Court to reduce sentences “for extraordinary and compelling reasons.” Life threatening illness is foremost among these and Lynne Stewart meets every rational and humane criterion for compassionate release.

To misconstrue the gravamen of this compassionate release by conditioning such upon being at death’s door – released, if at all, solely to die – is a cruel mockery converting a prison sentence, wholly undeserved, into a death sentence.

The New York Times, in an editorial (2/12), has excoriated the Bureau of Prisons for their restrictive crippling of this program. In a 20-year period, the Bureau released a scant 492 persons – an average of 24 a year out of a population that exceeds 220,000.

We cry out against the bureaucratic murder of Lynne Stewart.

We demand Lynne Stewart’s immediate release to receive urgent medical care in a supportive environment indispensable to the prospect of her survival and call upon the Bureau of Prisons to act immediately.

If Lynne’s original sentence of 28 months had not been unreasonably, punitively increased to 10 years, she would be home now — where her medical care would be by her choice and where those who love her best would care for her. Her isolation from this loving care would end.

Prevent this cruelty to Lynne Stewart whose lifelong commitment to justice is now a struggle for her life.

Free Lynne Stewart Now!

Ralph Poynter and Family

The Global Campaign to Save the Life of Lynne Stewart Gathers Steam:  6,000 and counting! Individuals are reaching out to their friends, family and colleagues. Organizations are reaching out to their members. People throughout the world are joining together in the effort to free Lynne Stewart.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu sent this Cri de Coeur: “It is devastating, totally unbelievable. Is this in a democracy, the only superpower? I am sad. I will sign. Praying God’s blessings on yr efforts.”
 Desmond Tutu

Pete Seeger declared: “Lynn Stewart should be outa jail!” on a postcard signed “old Pete Seeger” accompanied by a drawing of his banjo.

Your outpouring of support has lifted Lynne’s spirits as she undergoes the ravaging effects of chemotherapy. On March 20, she sent this message to each and every one of you from her seven-person cell in the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, Texas:

“I want you, individually, to know how gratified and happy it makes me to have your support. It is uplifting, to say the least, and after a lifetime of organizing it proves once again that the People can rise.
“The acknowledgement of the life-political, and solutions brought about by group unity and support, is important to all of us. Equally, so is the courage to sign on to a demand for a person whom the Government has branded with the ‘T’ word — Terrorist. Understanding that the attack on me is a subterfuge for an attack on all lawyers who advocate without fear of Government displeasure, with intellectual honesty guided by their knowledge and their client’s desire for his or her case, I hope our effort can be a crack in the American bastion. Thank you.” — Lynne

Lynne Stewart devoted over 30 years of her life to helping others as a criminal defense lawyer. She defended the poor, the disadvantaged and those targeted by the police and the State. Such had been her reputation as a fearless lawyer, ready to challenge those in power, that judges assigned her routinely to act for defendants whom no attorney was willing to represent.

Now Lynne Stewart needs our urgent help or she may die in prison. Our determination can compel the Bureau of Prisons to file the motion for compassionate release that will free Lynne Stewart.

Check out the Justice for Lynne Stewart website  to view the signatories (up to 03/31/13), comments from signers, the postcard from Pete Seeger, and much more.

Remind your friends to sign the petition and to disseminate it to others. Ask each person to get five people to sign, and each of those five to ask five people of their own. In five stages, you will have reached another 3,000 people! Sign the petition at:

Let the struggle spread far and wide!

Lynne's letter to Archbishop Desmond Tutu in response to his support:

03/26/13 9:40 am

My dear honorable Desmond Tutu:

I hardly know how to address you for while we have never met face to face we are bonded as only those who fight for the rights and justice of humanity can be. As my husband and I are activists of many years and struggles, we can claim this lovely unity with you harking back to Nelson Mandela at Robbin Island, the original ANC and before. While I know you are still engaged in helping South Africa reach the highest level of the expectations of freedom, I am most pleased and amazed that you have taken the time to support my efforts against the US prison system.
 

I have now been in jail as a political prisoner since 2009, but only recently been diagnosed with fatal cancer. The "mechanism" in the US law that allows "compassionate release" is so infrequently utilized that the New York Times did an editorial criticizing the system.  Anytime the key to the jailhouse is placed in the hands of uncaring bureaucrats, freedom is at stake. Having been informed that their "rule" is that one must have death in the room--a prognosis of a year or less, to be considered, once again forces me to don my armor and do battle---not just for me but for all the millions of prisoners who do not receive the consideration that they deserve.  It is a fight to demand that each person is treated with individual care and attention. 
It is with great joy that I see you joining me and this renews my hope and belief that the worldwide network of good caring people exists and can be made manifest.  

Thanks

Lynne Stewart

Letter from Dick Gregory to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Director and to the Warden of the Federal Medical Center, Carswell

 

 March 13, 2013

Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First St., NW
Washington, DC 20534

Dear Director Samuels,

I am writing urgently to ask you to make an immediate request of the Bureau of Prisons to file a motion with Judge Koetl for compassionate release of Lynne Stewart 53504-054.

Judge Koetl acknowledged on the record that Lynne Stewart has devoted her life to representing the poor, disadvantaged and oppressed, declaring: “Ms. Stewart has performed a public service not only to her clients but to the nation.”

Lynne Stewart's humanity has provided a moral compass for all of us who have fought for justice. It is only fitting that the humanity that she has manifested to so many should be extended to her. 

Now her breast cancer, in remission when she was sent to prison, despite the fact that her legal rights were not exhausted, is in Stage Four, having metastasized to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs.

Her physicians have made clear that to surmount her grave illness and to cope with the collateral impact of treatment, it is imperative for Lynne Stewart to have the emotional support essential to survival in daily conjunction with that coordinated treatment from her medical team impossible in her prison setting.

In compliance with the1984 Sentencing Act, I call upon you to urge upon the Court the immediate release of Lynne Stewart.

We, too, will be judged for generations to come by our adherence to legal standards rooted in compassion and decency.

I am attaching the international petition setting forth the reasons for her compassionate release that I endorse in the strongest terms.

Yours sincerely,

Dick Gregory

Prison hinders Lynne Stewart’s cancer care