Archive for the ‘Justice/Civil Liberties’ Category

The Telecom Astroturf Lobby

Posted on: September 11th, 2013 by Eli Clifton 2 Comments
Verizon building

Verizon building (Flickr/gt8073a).

When the telecommunications industry sought federal rules that would allow it to charge customers more for high bandwidth products such as Hulu or Netflix than for other web services, there was no mystery in its motive: big money. Federal regulators stopped the move on grounds that it would hurt consumers and the industry lashed back with an expected army of lobbyists. It also quietly pursued another strategy that has not previously been reported: the creation of an elaborate illusion of grassroots support for protecting the telecommunications industry’s profits. (more…)

Georgia University Warning About HIV-Positive Man Transmitting HIV Comes Under Fire

Posted on: September 5th, 2013 by Todd Heywood 6 Comments

On a Tuesday in August, Georgia Southern University issued an alarming “health alert” to its students. A “dominant” black man was “intentionally and knowingly” transmitting HIV. School officials warned the press, too. But weeks later, amid denials by state health officials that they authorized or distributed the alert, the school has quietly removed it from its website. A lot of people are demanding to know why it was posted in the first place. (more…)

Michigan Oil Spill Contractors Convicted on Immigration Crimes Linked to Cleanup Work

Posted on: August 26th, 2013 by Todd Heywood 2 Comments
Unidentified members of a crew of Hallmark Industrial Services employees working on the oil spill in 2010. Photo provided to The American Independent by an anonymous source.

Unidentified members of a crew of Hallmark Industrial Services employees working on the oil spill in 2010. Photo provided to The American Independent by an anonymous source.

Two men indicted for their role in exploiting undocumented workers during a 2010 oil spill cleanup have pleaded guilty to multiple immigration crimes. An investigation by The American Independent’s former sister site Michigan Messenger uncovered the exploitation of undocumented workers – mostly from Central America – during the cleanup following a July oil spill in Marshall, Mich. (more…)

Ban on LGBT Discrimination in Jury Service Added to Appropriations Bill

Posted on: July 26th, 2013 by Andy Birkey 1 Comment

A measure to ban discrimination against LGBT jurors was approved by a U.S. Senate committee on Thursday, marking the first time the issue has come to a vote in Congress.

The Jury Access for Capable Citizens and Equality in Service Selection (ACCESS) Act was included in a financial services appropriations bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The American Independent first reported on the issue of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in jury service last year, prompting legislation in both the Senate and the House where the issue has quietly gained bipartisan support.

While it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status in jury service, no protections exist for sexual orientation or gender identity. In some cases, LGBT people have been removed as potential jurors in cases that involve gay rights issues, most recently in San Diego where a gay juror was removed from a panel that would decide the fate of marriage equality protesters.

Only three states ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in jury service; California and Oregon passed legislation several years ago, and Minnesota’s Gov. Mark Dayton signed such a bill into law in May.

Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, as well as Republican Susan Collins of Maine have been advancing the issue in the Senate.

“Jury service is an important public service, and I am pleased that the committee has adopted our language that would prohibit potential jurors from being dismissed for service in federal trials based solely on sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Sen. Collins in a statement on Thursday.

Sen. Whitehouse added, “The justice system only can provide fair trials if juries accurately represent our communities,” said Senator Whitehouse. “I’m glad the Appropriations Committee has advanced this legislation to help ensure that no potential juror is blocked from serving solely based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Amendment to National Defense bill would require feds to review HIV crimes

Posted on: June 13th, 2013 by Todd Heywood 2 Comments

This article has been updated.

A bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would require the Department of Defense to conduct an internal review of policies and prosecutions related to military members living with HIV. (more…)

Michigan Supreme Court upholds partner benefits for unmarried state workers

Posted on: May 6th, 2013 by Todd Heywood 1 Comment

LANSING – State employees in Michigan can continue to receive health benefits for their significant others, even if they’re not married, and even if they’re gay. That’s because the Michigan Supreme Court on Thursday declined to hear an appeal from the attorney general’s office, which has been challenging a local body’s decision to offer health-care benefits to unmarried state employees, saying it violates the state’s anti-gay-marriage statute. According to Attorney General Bill Schuette, the policy treats married and unmarried couples differently. (more…)

Colorado treatment center draws scrutiny for alleged teen solitary policies

Posted on: April 29th, 2013 by Susan Greene 3 Comments

This story was originally published by The Colorado Independent. 

A residential teen treatment center in Pueblo, Colo., is under fire for housing children in prolonged solitary confinement. (more…)

‘He was freaking’: Friend says suspected killer of Colo. Corrections chief flailed from years of isolation

Posted on: March 26th, 2013 by The American Independent 1 Comment

This story was originally published by The Colorado Independent.

DENVER– In the weeks before his death, Evan Ebel, suspected killer of Colorado Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements, had broken ties with white supremacist prison gang 211 Crew and was debilitated by the transition from prolonged isolation to social contact, according to a friend and former fellow inmate. (more…)