"During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.

The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units.”

- Matt Apuzzo, “War Gear Flows to Police Departments,” The New York Times

The Lone Pamphleteer Recommends: Subconscious War

A short documentary about media, reality, and war, featuring the words of Aldous Huxley, Neil Postman, John Trudell, Noam Chomsky, and Marshall McLuhan.  Very sobering and well put together.

Jury Nullification: Why Every American Needs to Learn This Taboo Verdictby Kevin Mathews for Truth-out

Did you know that, no matter the evidence, if a jury feels a law is unjust, it is permitted to “nullify” the law rather than finding someone guilty? Basically, jury nullification is a jury’s way of saying, “By the letter of the law, the defendant is guilty, but we also disagree with that law, so we vote to not punish the accused.” Ultimately, the verdict serves as an acquittal.
Haven’t heard of jury nullification? Don’t feel bad; you’re far from alone. If anything, your unfamiliarity is by design. Generally, defense lawyers are not allowed to even mention jury nullification as a possibility during a trial because judges prefer juries to follow the general protocols rather than delivering independent verdicts.
Surprisingly, the Supreme Court has routinely agreed that judges have no obligation to inform juries about jury nullification. Paradoxically, jury nullification is permitted to exist as an option to all juries, yet this option cannot be discussed in most courtrooms.
A few years ago, Julian Heicklen handed out pamphlets to passersby on jury nullification to people outside of a federal courthouse. While the former professor was merely attempting to educate people about how the jury system works, he was charged with jury tampering. The prosecution labeled Heicklen “a significant and important threat to our judicial system,” but the judge ultimately disagreed and dismissed the case. Nonetheless, the fact that this case went to court at all shows how those in the legal system are willing to intimidate those who vocalize this loophole.
Jury nullification is undoubtedly feared because of its ability to upset the system. A jury that considers drug laws to be outrageous can nullify. A jury that is aware of the mass inequality in incarceration rates and believes a defendant was targeted via racial profiling can nullify. A jury that believes a harmless defendant is a victim of the prison industrial complex rather than a perpetrator can nullify. This counter-verdict exists so that citizens can right the wrongs inherent in our supposed “justice” system.
Of course, as the New York Times points out, jury nullification hasn’t always been used to “do good.” Historically, racist southern juries have nullified cases involving hate crimes and overly optimistic juries have nullified instances of police brutality, unwilling to fault police officers. However, if you agree that an informed jury can produce the correct verdict, nullification remains a valuable tool in the pursuit of justice.
Jury nullification would be helpful in a case like the recently publicized trial of Cecily McMillan. After having her breast groped from behind by a police officer, McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist, reflexively elbowed backward and was subsequently charged with assaulting an officer. After the judge suppressed relevant evidence, the jury ultimately felt compelled to render a guilty verdict, but its members were surprised to later learn that that verdict carried a potential seven-year sentence. Nine out of twelve jurors later wrote a letter to the judge urging him not to send McMillan to prison. Had these jurors known about jury nullification, they could have initially said, “Technically guilty, we supposed, but COME ON!” and not left her subject to harsh, unwarranted punishment.
It’s absurd that such an immense power remains a secret to jurors throughout the process. Essentially, it’s a crapshoot as to whether a juror has prior knowledge of the ability to nullify – an unfair fate given what’s at stake.
Whether or not you choose to exercise the option of jury nullification the next time you serve on a jury is up to your own discretion, but all jurors should at least be aware that this option is available to them. Spread the word.

Jury Nullification: Why Every American Needs to Learn This Taboo Verdict
by Kevin Mathews for Truth-out

Did you know that, no matter the evidence, if a jury feels a law is unjust, it is permitted to “nullify” the law rather than finding someone guilty? Basically, jury nullification is a jury’s way of saying, “By the letter of the law, the defendant is guilty, but we also disagree with that law, so we vote to not punish the accused.” Ultimately, the verdict serves as an acquittal.

Haven’t heard of jury nullification? Don’t feel bad; you’re far from alone. If anything, your unfamiliarity is by design. Generally, defense lawyers are not allowed to even mention jury nullification as a possibility during a trial because judges prefer juries to follow the general protocols rather than delivering independent verdicts.

Surprisingly, the Supreme Court has routinely agreed that judges have no obligation to inform juries about jury nullification. Paradoxically, jury nullification is permitted to exist as an option to all juries, yet this option cannot be discussed in most courtrooms.

A few years ago, Julian Heicklen handed out pamphlets to passersby on jury nullification to people outside of a federal courthouse. While the former professor was merely attempting to educate people about how the jury system works, he was charged with jury tampering. The prosecution labeled Heicklen “a significant and important threat to our judicial system,” but the judge ultimately disagreed and dismissed the case. Nonetheless, the fact that this case went to court at all shows how those in the legal system are willing to intimidate those who vocalize this loophole.

Jury nullification is undoubtedly feared because of its ability to upset the system. A jury that considers drug laws to be outrageous can nullify. A jury that is aware of the mass inequality in incarceration rates and believes a defendant was targeted via racial profiling can nullify. A jury that believes a harmless defendant is a victim of the prison industrial complex rather than a perpetrator can nullify. This counter-verdict exists so that citizens can right the wrongs inherent in our supposed “justice” system.

Of course, as the New York Times points out, jury nullification hasn’t always been used to “do good.” Historically, racist southern juries have nullified cases involving hate crimes and overly optimistic juries have nullified instances of police brutality, unwilling to fault police officers. However, if you agree that an informed jury can produce the correct verdict, nullification remains a valuable tool in the pursuit of justice.

Jury nullification would be helpful in a case like the recently publicized trial of Cecily McMillan. After having her breast groped from behind by a police officer, McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist, reflexively elbowed backward and was subsequently charged with assaulting an officer. After the judge suppressed relevant evidence, the jury ultimately felt compelled to render a guilty verdict, but its members were surprised to later learn that that verdict carried a potential seven-year sentence. Nine out of twelve jurors later wrote a letter to the judge urging him not to send McMillan to prison. Had these jurors known about jury nullification, they could have initially said, “Technically guilty, we supposed, but COME ON!” and not left her subject to harsh, unwarranted punishment.

It’s absurd that such an immense power remains a secret to jurors throughout the process. Essentially, it’s a crapshoot as to whether a juror has prior knowledge of the ability to nullify – an unfair fate given what’s at stake.

Whether or not you choose to exercise the option of jury nullification the next time you serve on a jury is up to your own discretion, but all jurors should at least be aware that this option is available to them. Spread the word.

The slide above is part of a new trove of documents leaked Friday by the New York Times detailing the tracking and ultimate crackdown of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  The documents don’t provide any startling new information, but they demonstrate once again the way the public-private partnerships— consisting of large corporations, the Pentagon, regional counter-terrorism fusion centers, and local police departments— successfully undermine the basic right of a free citizenry to assemble and articulate dissenting views.
The documents shared on nytimes.com include daily updates from regional fusion centers based on information gathered from social media, “tips on keeping tabs” from the Pentagon, and collections of citizens’ tweets attempting to share information about fusion center involvement in the crackdown on Occupy.
My favorite newly leaked document is a collection of powerpoint slides (of which the image above is one) entitled “OCCUPY and Black Friday” prepared by the International Council of Shopping Centers and distributed to federal and local law enforcement agencies.  The presentation details the mall lobbying group’s concern about protesters’ attitudes towards retail, including the “major move to try to persuade people to ‘buy local’ and support ‘small business Saturday.’”  It also discusses “Specific Known Threats,” including “free, non-commercial street parties.”  Call in the reinforcements!

The slide above is part of a new trove of documents leaked Friday by the New York Times detailing the tracking and ultimate crackdown of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  The documents don’t provide any startling new information, but they demonstrate once again the way the public-private partnerships— consisting of large corporations, the Pentagon, regional counter-terrorism fusion centers, and local police departments— successfully undermine the basic right of a free citizenry to assemble and articulate dissenting views.

The documents shared on nytimes.com include daily updates from regional fusion centers based on information gathered from social media, “tips on keeping tabs” from the Pentagon, and collections of citizens’ tweets attempting to share information about fusion center involvement in the crackdown on Occupy.

My favorite newly leaked document is a collection of powerpoint slides (of which the image above is one) entitled “OCCUPY and Black Friday” prepared by the International Council of Shopping Centers and distributed to federal and local law enforcement agencies.  The presentation details the mall lobbying group’s concern about protesters’ attitudes towards retail, including the “major move to try to persuade people to ‘buy local’ and support ‘small business Saturday.’”  It also discusses “Specific Known Threats,” including “free, non-commercial street parties.”  Call in the reinforcements!

“‘Today we present observational evidence that a large sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet has gone into irreversible retreat,’ [UC Irvine glaciologist] Dr. Rignot said in the NASA news conference. ‘It has passed the point of no return.’”

-Justin GIllis and Kenneth Chang, “Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans from Polar Melt,” The New York Times

If millionaires in the United States formed their own political party, that party would make up just 3 percent of the country, but it would have a majority in the House of Representatives, a filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate, a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court and a man in the White House.”

-Nick Carnes, Talking Points Memo

Only now did I feel that I was beginning to process the true magnitude of the leak. I had been writing for years about the threat posed by unconstrained domestic surveillance; my first book, published in 2006, warned of the lawlessness and radicalism of the NSA. But I had struggled against the great wall of secrecy shielding government spying: How do you document the actions of an agency so completely shrouded in multiple layers of official secrecy? At this moment, the wall had been breached. I had in my possession documents that the government had desperately tried to hide. I had evidence that would indisputably prove all that the government had done to destroy the privacy of Americans and people around the world.”

-Glenn Greenwald, “How I Met Edward Snowden,” TomDispatch.com