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Clerk who helped inmate exonerate himself with DNA evidence fired

RT | August 1, 2013

Thanks to new DNA evidence a Kansas City man was released from prison three decades after a wrongful rape conviction, though the 70-year-old clerk instrumental in his release was fired for insubordination.

Sharon Snyder, who was fired about nine months prior to her retirement after 34 years as a court employee, was let go by a Jackson County Circuit judge in Missouri for offering legal advice to 49-year-old Robert Nelson, convicted in 1984 to 50 years incarceration for a Kansas City rape the year prior.

Nelson maintained his innocence in the case since that conviction, and in August of 2009 filed a motion with the court seeking DNA testing that had not been available at the time of his trial 25 years prior, reports the AP. That motion was denied, evidently due to Nelson’s lack of knowledge of the law to make a proper case.

Two years after that petition Nelson filed another motion seeking DNA testing, but was again denied. Following that second attempt, Snyder gave Nelson’s sister, Sea Dunnell, a copy of a successful motion filed for a different case which had also requested that DNA evidence be tested.

Nelson, who had no legal representation at the time, was able to use that motion as a guide for his own, which he filed successfully in February of 2012. In August a judge sustained the motion and assigned Nelson Laura O’Sullivan, legal director of the Midwest Innocence Project to be his legal representative.

Last month the Kansas City Police Department used DNA evidence to exclude Nelson as a suspect in the 1983 rape case, which resulted in his release on June 12.

Only five days after Nelson’s release Snyder was taken into a judge’s chambers and told that both the prosecutor and attorney “had a problem” with her intervention in the case. Although the documents that Snyder gave Nelson’s sister to file a successful motion with the court would have been available as public record, it was not conceivable that she would have ever been aware of its existence were it not for Snyder’s help.

“The document you chose was, in effect, your recommendation for a Motion for DNA testing that would likely be successful in this Division,” Judge Byrn wrote. “But it was clearly improper and a violation of Canon Seven … which warns against the risk of offering an opinion or suggested course of action.”

Snyder was fired from her job on June 27, told that she had violated court rules by providing assistance to Nelson, and speaking about details of the case to attorneys not involved in the matter.

According to the New York Times, this is not the first time that the Innocence Project has represented an individual who faced obstacles in obtaining exonerating DNA evidence in their case.

Joseph Buffey, who was wrongfully convinced to 70 years in prison for the 2001 rape of an 83-year-old woman, came to the attention of Innocence Project lawyers after he wrote them a letter several years ago.

In the Spring of 2011, a test on the victim’s rape kit showed that Buffey’s DNA was not present at the crime scene. However, once Buffey’s lawyers asked a judge to run those results through a West Virginia database of felons to find a match the prosecutor refused as the lab was not certified by the state.

A second request by Innocence Project to run the test through a certified lab was also refused by the prosecution, stating that “the state does not believe such testing will or can prove the defendant’s innocence after his guilty plea.” The judge ordered that test to go forward despite the objection of prosecutors, who said they suspected multiple men were involved in the rape case, though the victim had said only one individual was involved.

Buffey’s case is similar to Nelson’s in that the obstacles to obtain potentially exonerating DNA evidence are high. In addition to needing the requisite legal knowledge to file a proper motion with the court, a 2009 US Supreme Court ruling stated that a defendant willing to pay for a DNA test at his own expense was not entitled to do so. Chief Justice John G. Roberts said that such an allowance risked “unnecessarily overthrowing the established system of criminal justice.”

Only nine US states currently have laws granting defense lawyers access to a national DNA database, according to ThinkProgress. Meanwhile, in a June decision the Supreme Court ruled that officers be granted access to collect DNA information from suspects under arrest but not yet charged without probable cause.

August 1, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

DFLP: The PA’s talks with Israel violate the national consensus

Palestine Information Center – 01/08/2013

RAMALLAH — The democratic front for the liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said that the participation of the Palestinian authority (PA) in the US-sponsored talks with Israel are a wrong step and violate the national consensus.

According to Quds Press, an official source from the democratic front stated on Wednesday that the engagement of the PA in these talks violated the requirements that were set by most of the Palestinian factions and national figures.

He said that the political forces in the Palestinian arena had demanded the PA to abide by requirements for its participation in the peace talks with Israel, based on the 1967 borders, and Israel’s commitment to end all settlement activities, respect relevant international resolutions, and release the long-serving prisoners.

The official also belittled the guarantees offered by US secretary of state John Kerry to the PA while Israel insists on refusing the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

The official also called on the executive committee of the Palestinian liberation organization (PLO), which had unanimously opposed the current peace talks with Israel, to urgently convene to work on correcting the Palestinian position and obliging the PA to abide by the national requirements.

August 1, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran Alarmism and the “Time is Running Out” Canard

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | July 31, 2013

The following is the 76th update to my comprehensive, ongoing compendium of constant predictions and prognostications regarding the supposed inevitability and imminence of an alleged Iranian nuclear weapon, hysterical allegations that have been made repeatedly for the past three decades.

Citing the latest hysterical analysis of Iran’s nuclear program by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), David Albright’s Washington D.C.-based propaganda outfit, the Jerusalem Post exclaims that “Iran is expected to achieve a ‘critical capability’ to produce sufficient weapon-grade uranium by mid-2014, without being detected.”

While pretending to advocate merely for a stricter IAEA inspection regime and the limiting of the number of centrifuges Iran is allowed to install and operate, Albright & Co. cry that Iranian progress “is unlikely to be prevented simply by instituting better inspections, whether through increased inspection frequency, remote monitoring, or even implementation of the the Additional Protocol.” The report laments that, if the United States and Israel don’t launch an illegal, unprovoked military assault on Iran “out of fear of facing international opposition,” consequently “Iran could have time to make enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear weapons.”

Thus, the alarmists of ISIS conclude that “IAEA inaction or caution could make an international response all but impossible before Iran has produced enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear weapon.”

Meanwhile, a recent Al Monitor report exposes the agenda dripping from ISIS’ analysis. Earlier this month, IAEA Deputy Director Herman Nackaerts explained to reporter Barbara Slavin that “‘we would know within a week’ whether Iran was diverting uranium from declared sites and seeking to enrich it to weapons grade level.”

Nackaerts, who is also head of the IAEA’s Department of Safeguards, said that “[t]here are two to six IAEA inspectors on the ground in Iran every day…covering 16 Iranian facilities. On average, he said, that means that an inspector visits Iran’s enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow once a week. If there are suspicions about any improper activities, they can go more often, he added.

In order to sufficiently hand-wring about the Iranian program, “ISIS has recommended that inspections should increase to at least twice per week at Iran’s enrichment facilities.”

Evelyn Gordon. Yes, really.

As expected, neoconservative Likudnik warmongers over at Commentary Magazine are licking their lips and using Albright’s nonsense to bolster their calls for mass murder and war crimes. Writing today, contributing blogger Evelyn Gordon calls the ISIS report the “best argument I’ve yet seen for bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities imminently.” Gordon is an American émigré to Israel, former Jerusalem Post reporter and current Visiting Fellow at the extreme right-wing Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

“Time is running out,” Gordon declares, echoing so many uninformed voices before her. In March 2006, NPR‘s national security correspondent Mara Liasson insisted on Fox News that “time is running out. Pretty soon, Iran is going to have the bomb.” By early 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed, “We have time, but not a lot of time.” The following year, a Weekly Standard opinion piece co-authored by Kristol declared, “Time is running out” and called “for Congress to seriously explore an Authorization of Military Force to halt Iran’s nuclear program.” Soon thereafter, Commentary Magazine‘s Jonathan Tobin warned that, without the United States issuing an explicit military threat, “time may soon run out on any chance for the West to stop Iran,” while this past March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eloquently stated that “whatever time is left, there’s not a lot of time.”

“In short,” Gordon concludes, “either military action is taken in the coming months, or a nuclear Iran will be inevitable. There is no more time to waste.”

In truth, it’s time to hit the snooze button.

August 1, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bir Al-Abed Explosion: 130 Kg Voice Message to Hezbollah!

Al-Manar | August 1, 2013

Under the headline “Bir Al-Abed Explosion: A 130 Kg Voice Message to Hezbollah!” Al-Akhbar newspaper published an article in which it highlighted Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with the CIA’s central role in the Southern Suburb of Beirut blast which left only material damage behind.

Nasser Sharara pointed out that “after three weeks on Bir Al-Abed blast, there are still no leaks on the discovered threads, despite the fact that many of these threads could lead to knowing the sides behind it.”

However, he reminded of Lebanese Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri’s remarks that this blast was “the beginning of a security escalation,” which according to what he said were “well-informed sources”, aimed at confusing Hezbollah by putting pressure on its working society in the Gulf and Lebanon, to punish it for participating in the Syrian events.

In this context, the Lebanese daily said new information that it has obtained revealed that the explosives used in the attack weighted at least 130 kg, and they were put in a vertical, not horizontal position, because the aim was only to send a “voice message”.

“The aim… was to send a voice message, as the planning side intended to put the explosive in a far spot inside a parking, and pointed the blowing downwards, yet it magnified the explosives to make a huge explosion echo,” Al-Akhbar reported, adding that “another basic conclusion is that the side which carried out the operation was a professional body, and not just some group or organization…”

In addition to Speaker Berri’s estimation and fear from the security situation in the coming period, Al-Akhbar quoted “well-informed” sources as saying that “there is an international and Arab decision, specifically in Saudi Arabia, to occupy or confuse Hezbollah… and Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan has a major role in that…”

The Lebanese daily pointed to Bandar’s significant role, as he is “America’s strong man, who is assigned internally, to guard the throne transition process from one generation to another, and externally, to lead Saudi Arabia’s security agenda, which is strongly tied to the CIA.”

The paper further revealed that Bandar had visited the United States around 15 days ago and met with important officials and with President Barack Obama.

“Leaked information from the meeting revealed that the latter (Obama) agreed on Saudi’s proposal which states that Riyadh becomes the only Arab side assigned with the Lebanese and Syrian fields, under the condition that Bandar would manage these two files,” it added.

August 1, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The NYT is in Lalaland on Afghanistan

U.S. Soldiers Stuck in Sand in Southern Afghanistan.

Above: U.S. soldiers stuck in sand in Southern Afghanistan. (Photo by U.S. military)
By Michael McGehee | NYTX | August 1, 2013

In Matthew Rosenberg’s recent article “Despite Gains, Leader of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Says Troops Must Stay” (July 29, 2013) he offers New York Times readers this lead paragraph:

Afghan forces are now leading the fight here. They managed an air assault last week, for example, and they may be winning the respect of the Afghan people. But the bottom line for Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. is simple: Afghanistan still needs the United States and will for years to come.

Of course, the phrase “Afghan forces” is Washington-speak for the Northern Alliance, which is a motley group of tribal leaders, and terrorists in their own right.

But the Northern Alliance “may be winning the respect of the Afghan people”?

After nearly twelve years of war and occupation the very people the Northern Alliance claim to be liberating and representing have not given them popular support.

On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks the Washington Post reported that the Taliban “controls more than 90 percent of the country.”

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “Before its ouster by U.S.-led forces in 2001, the Taliban controlled some 90 percent of Afghanistan’s territory.”

After twelve years of war and occupation the Taliban are just as strong as they were from the outset, if not stronger.

Perhaps that is why Rosenberg tells us what “the bottom line” for Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. is: “Afghanistan still needs the United States and will for years to come.”

Not all in the media believe this.

Last month the BBC said “it has become increasingly clear to Nato that it cannot win militarily against the insurgents.”

When the U.S., who has an extreme advantage over the Taliban militarily, can make no major advancements in twelve years and the  government still does not have “the respect of the Afghan people” it is hard to believe that “the problem” is that “most Americans no longer seem to believe that the United States needs the war in Afghanistan.”

Of course it does not help that from the beginning the Afghan people have opposed the war.

In October 2001, just as millions of Afghans were braving American bombardment, a thousand tribal leaders trekked to Peshawar, Pakistan where they meet to discuss their future. Peshawar was a popular place for the Mujahadeen to meet, and so the timing and place of this meeting proved to be historically significant.

USA Today covered the meeting in an article which said, “Some came over the mountains from Afghanistan on donkeys, some by sport-utility vehicle from plush villas in Pakistan. Some hobbled in, having lost a leg during two decades of unending war.” Hope for “a post-Taliban government” was running high, though it was stressed that, “Getting Afghanistan’s fractious groups to form a broad-based, post-Taliban government won’t be easy.” The only forces who did not show up were those that were aligning with the U.S.: the Northern Alliance and Zahir Shah, the exiled king. Yet:

Speakers at the conference sounded nearly identical themes. All opposed the US bombing campaign against Afghanistan, saying it was doing more to hurt ordinary Afghans than to unseat the Taliban leadership or to damage bin Laden’s al-Qa’eda terrorist network. Nearly all said they want to see a broad-based government replace the Taliban. A few said there is a place for moderate members of the Taliban in a new regime.

Ignoring the conference, the U.S. carried out a massive bombing campaign, right at the beginning of winter (which put millions of Afghans in critical danger). At the time it was reported that, “International aid organization officials say, however, that around 5 million Afghans are in danger of starvation because the nation’s borders are sealed and food supplies are diminishing by the day — meaning that only a tiny percentage of the hungry are receiving the U.S. food.”

In fact, even months after the war and the Taliban was toppled, U.S. authorities were admitting they did not know who was behind the terror attacks that was argued to be the legal and moral basis for the war and occupation of Afghanistan. FBI Director Robert Mueller told the press in June 2002 that, “I think we’re confident that [bin Laden] was one of the key figures,” and that, “We think the masterminds of it were in Afghanistan.” U.S. authorities only “think” they know who was involved or behind the attacks eight months after they began bombing the country and subjecting an already impoverished people to more hardships.

Naturally, all of this is ignored by Rosenberg. But to make matters worse, we read that for General Dunford, Al Qaeda is “the reason the United States came to Afghanistan .”

Here Rosenberg fails to mention how the Taliban made numerous offers to the U.S. to turnover bin Laden. While some requests asked for proof of his involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks—a reasonable thing to ask for in all extradition requests—some offered to turn him over to a third party if the U.S. would stop the bombing. The Bush administration rejected the offers (see here and here).

Then there is the fact that the U.S. is responsible for sending bin Laden, and thus Al Qaeda, to Afghanistan. Former CIA agent, Milt Bearden wrote in the New York Times back in August of 1999 that, “Washington should open a serious dialogue with the Taliban, who are as eager to rid themselves of their bin Laden problem as we are to bring him to justice,” and that:

After all, Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan because we insisted that the Sudanese expel him from the Horn of Africa in 1996. Had he stayed in the Sudan, it can be argued that he, like the terrorist Carlos the Jackal, would by now have been quietly spirited away and be sitting in jail.

And here is another bombshell that the New York Times has yet to cover: according to The Christian Science Monitor, “The US military has been ignoring warnings that its spending in Afghanistan is funding Al Qaeda and the Taliban.”

What are NYT readers to make of a situation in which no gains have been made in twelve years of war, in which the Afghan people don’t “respect” us or our allies, where even the BBC says it is hopeless, and where our own spending is going to the very groups we claim to be fighting? That’s right: they cannot make anything of the situation because apparently that is not “all the news fit to print.”

August 1, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment