Friday, October 28, 2016

: re: Bundy Brothers Acquitted in Takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: barry levine
Date: Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 12:53 PM
Subject: re: Bundy Brothers Acquitted in Takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge
To: ""

To the Editor:
In principle, the Bundy jury represents us, the sovereign people of the U.S. In practice of course, these are twelve individuals with twelve lives, lived in rural Oregon.
The acquittal of the Bundys is a failure of the prosecutor. The evidence that the Bundys conspired to obstruct a federal employee in performance of his duties is overwhelming and uncontested. A Federal court (albeit in the 2nd circuit) has ruled (U.S. v. Thomas '97) that potential jurors can be removed if there is evidence that they intend to nullify the law. It was that prosecutor's duty as an officer of our Executive to "take care that the Laws be faithfully executed".
That is not, however, the duty of the jurors. The law (consider e.g. 'Dred Scot') is not perfect and is not always just. This jury has spoken, and there is no higher authority that can over-turn their verdict. But such an acquittal establishes no precedent; another prosecutor in another trial may find differently.

Barry Haskell Levine

Clockwise from top left, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Jeff Banta, Kenneth Medenbach, David Lee Fry and Neil Wampler. CreditMultnomah County Sheriff
PORTLAND, Ore. — Armed antigovernment protesters led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy were acquitted Thursday of federal conspiracy and weapons charges stemming from the takeover of a federally owned wildlife sanctuary in Oregon last winter.
The surprise acquittals of all seven defendants in Federal District Court were a blow to government prosecutors, who had argued that the Bundys and five of their followers used force and threats of violence to occupy the reserve. But the jury appeared swayed by the defendants’ contention that they were protesting government overreach and posed no threat to the public.
In a sign of the tension that ran through the trial, Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Marcus R. Mumford, frustrated that the Bundys were not being released, was restrained by four United States marshals after an outburst.
“I knew that what my husband was doing was right, but I was nervous because the judge was controlling the narrative,” said Ryan Bundy’s wife, Angela Bundy, 39, in a telephone interview from the family ranch in Bunkerville, Nev. “But they saw the truth. I am just so grateful they saw it.”
It was not immediately clear how the not-guilty verdicts would affect the government’s strategy in another case stemming from the Oregon occupation, or a trial in Nevada that the Bundy brothers and their father, Cliven Bundy, face for an armed standoff there.
The Oregon occupation, at a remote and frigid reserve in the southeastern part of the state, was rooted in antigovernment fervor and captured the nation’s attention. It had a Wild West quality, with armed men in cowboy hats taking on federal agents in a tussle over public lands and putting out a call for aid, only to see their insurrection fizzle.
In a monthlong trial here, the defendants never denied that they had occupied and held the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters for nearly six weeks, demanding that the federal government surrender the 188,000-acre property to local control. But their lawyers argued that prosecutors did not prove that the group had engaged in an illegal conspiracy that kept federal workers — employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management — from doing their jobs.
Eleven people had already pleaded guilty. One participant, LaVoy Finicum, was killed by the authorities during the standoff.
Ethan D. Knight, an assistant United States attorney, argued that the case was simple: Ammon Bundy had been selective in deciding which laws applied to him and had led an armed seizure of property that did not belong to him.
Mr. Mumford said acquitting Mr. Bundy would be a victory for all Americans. “They’re deceiving you,” Mr. Mumford said, gesturing to the prosecutors. “It’s the government that picks and chooses the rules it’s going to comply with.”
Ammon Bundy, 41, a business owner, testified for three days in his defense. He argued that the takeover was spontaneous and informed by religious belief. But prosecutors, through witnesses and their final arguments, said the group had used the threat of force and violence, crystallized by Mr. Bundy’s call for followers across the nation to come to the refuge with guns.

Supporters Rejoice After Bundy Acquittal

After a jury unexpectedly acquitted Ammon and Ryan Bundy and a group of antigovernment protesters of federal conspiracy and weapons charges, supporters and defendants gathered outside the courthouse.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on Publish DateOctober 27, 2016. Photo by Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian, via Associated Press... Watch in Times Video »
All seven defendants in the case were charged with conspiracy to impede federal employees from discharging their duties, and they also faced federal weapons charges and could have been given long prison sentences. The unanimous acquittals covered all the charges but one, a theft of government property charge against Ryan Bundy for removing cameras mounted at the refuge, with no verdict rendered on it.
In a statement, Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, said she was disappointed.
“The occupation of the Malheur Reserve did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences,” the governor said.
After asking each of the defendants to rise, Judge Anna J. Brown read off the string of not-guilty verdicts. “It has been a long road,” she told the jury afterward.
Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Mr. Mumford, then requested that the Bundy brothers be immediately released. Judge Brown denied the request and said that because of pending charges in Nevada, the brothers would remain in federal custody.
Mr. Mumford became agitated. “He is going to be released,” he said in a raised voice.
Judge Brown rebuked him. “Mr. Mumford, you really need to not yell at me, now or ever again,” she said.
As Mr. Mumford continued his protest, four court officers surrounded him, and in the ensuing scuffle, documents and other items on the defense table were knocked to the floor and Judge Brown ordered the courtroom cleared.
Shawna Cox, the only woman among the defendants, expressed fury at the treatment of Mr. Mumford. “I am happy to be free,” she added.
Outside the courthouse, 75 to 100 people gathered after the verdict. One woman handed out American flags. Supporters of the protesters chanted: “Praise God. Praise God.”
One of the defendants, Neil Wampler, was congratulated by supporters. “On to the next one,” he said, alluding to the charges still pending against his fellow defendants.
Ammon Bundy, of Emmett, Idaho, and his brother Ryan, 43, of Cedar City, Utah, and their father were the poster images of the anger over federal control of vast stretches of Western lands. And the armed protesters — later co-defendants — who joined the brothers in their occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge all had similar longstanding distrust of the government.
Mr. Wampler, of Los Osos, Calif., described himself as a 68-year-old hippie, and Kenneth Mendehbach, of Crescent, Ore., a woodworker by profession, boasted of spending at least two decades protesting federal power. Jeff Banta of Yerington, Nev., was one of the last holdouts at the refuge. At 27, David Lee Fry left a job at his parents’ dental practice in Blanchester, Ohio, to join the protest. Ms. Cox has a history of protesting federal involvement on Western lands and is a friend of the Bundys.
In closing arguments last week, the defense lawyers in the case and Ryan Bundy, who represented himself, passionately argued that the government had not made its case. They argued that the presence of paid government informants at the refuge during the occupation muddied the waters and created reasonable doubt about how the decisions of the defendants were made.
“The government was not here to find the truth,” Robert L. Salisbury, Mr. Banta’s lawyer, told the jury before deliberations began. “This case is about people wanting to be heard, and they’re just frustrated with our government.”

Thursday, October 27, 2016

re:Peace Without Partners

Peace Without Partners

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: barry levine 
Date: Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 10:22 AM
Subject: re: Peace Without Partners

To the Editor:
     Sometime around the end of the first century c.e, Rabbi Tarfon
said: "It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither
are you free to absolve yourself from it" His words are as apt today
as they were then.  For too long, Israeli governments have been
content to cling to power by blaming Palestinians for intransigence.
The status quo is unsustainable and unacceptable.Those who claim to be
political "leaders" must not be content with finger-pointing and
Barry Haskell Levine

: re: Dark Again After Report on C.I.A. Torture

: re: Dark Again After Report on C.I.A. Torture

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: barry levine 
Date: Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 8:48 AM
Subject: re: Dark Again After Report on C.I.A. Torture
To: "" 

To the Editor:
   It is within president Obama's power to declassify the entire Torture Report, not just the Executive Summary. Indeed, the American People have paid for that report and for the conduct on which it reports. The Summary cannot suffice; if this Congress were to offer such a summary of the U.S. Constitution it might well quote "Congress shall make no Law", redacting away what some of us consider the important bits.
    President Obama has an opportunity here. Now that it is revealed that the C.I.A. had deceived him, he could shed his mistaken pledge to "look forward and not backwards" and put that Torture Report (with small redactions to protect ongoing operations and the innocent) up on the White House website this week. But if he prefers to continue the cover-up of these crimes, he will make them his own.
Barry Haskell Levine

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

: re: Movement in the Eric Garner Case

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: barry levine 
Date: Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 8:02 AM
Subject: re: Movement in the Eric Garner Case
To: ""

To the Editor:

Loretta Lynch enforces Civil Rights
that Eric Holder studied in Law School
Attorney General who proudly fights
instead of sermonizing on the rule
of law but never prosecuting crime
'though murderers skate free on acts of hate
the gears of Justice have engaged this time
the feds must fix the failings of the State
no races left to run; Obama's free
to hoist the scales of Justice high and blind
to give no quarter to Blue bigotry
or ingrained prejudice of any kind
to slay such dragons and allay our fears
Loretta's gonna need eight more hard years

Barry Haskell Levine

Saturday, October 8, 2016

: re: Lewd Donald Trump Tape Is a Breaking Point for Many in the G.O.P.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: barry levine 
Date: Sat, Oct 8, 2016 at 4:49 PM
Subject: re: Lewd Donald Trump Tape Is a Breaking Point for Many in the G.O.P.
To: ""

to the Editor:

Republicans, discovering Trump's crass
no longer can excuse him to their wives
they'll sleep alone if they support this ass
entrusting him with budgets, wars, and lives
read "Lyssistrata"! We've been here before
united, women might achieve effects
but given power, men are prone to war
and won't be reined in 'til deprived of sex
the credibility that Mike Pence lent
to reassure the voters he's okay
can't keep the Christian Right in Donald's tent
they might stay home in droves, election day
the vulgar crap Trumps prone to say and do
could paint both legislative houses blue
Barry Haskell Levine

Thursday, October 6, 2016

: re: Mike Pence’s Galling Amnesia

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: barry levine
Date: Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 6:00 PM
Subject: re: Mike Pence’s Galling Amnesia
To: ""

To the Editor:
Mike Pence has long made clear his disdain for theories, especially the Darwinian theory of evolution. Tuesday, he demonstrated his disdain for facts as well, lying unflinchingly about what his running-mate has indeed said and endorsed. We're left to wonder on what basis he does take the positions he does. If he is not guided by theory or by fact, does he rely only on revelation? Is this public revelation? Or would our vice president be acting on voices in his head no one else hears?
Barry Haskell Levine

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

re: Let’s Get Putin’s Attention

To the Editor:
   in 2016, Russia is a superpower only in military matters. She still has tanks, missiles, submarines, and atomic weapons that could destroy life on Earth. But in any other realm, Russia is a third-rate power; her economy is the size of Brazil's, and relies wholly on exports of arms, natural gas, and oil.  Vladimir Putin is accordingly eager to make all our interactions military interactions. President Obama has deftly, patiently repeatedly demurred to take the bait. Let Putin wade into a Syrian quagmire that he can't win and can't afford.
   As to cyberwar, the U.S. presents far more targets than does Russia, and has far more to lose. Why would we choose to wrestle with that pig?
Barry Haskell Levine