Friday, February 24, 2012

  • Death of Hunger-Striking California Prisoner Sparks New Outrage over Inmates’ Suffering

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    Questions are mounting over the state of California’s prison system following the death of a hunger-striking inmate protesting conditions behind bars. Christian Gomez, 27, died at Corcoran State Prison, just six days after he and about 30 fellow prisoners began refusing food. Gomez was one of thousands of California inmates who have staged hunger strikes in 12 prisons since July after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California prison overcrowding was causing "needless suffering and death" and ordered the state to reduce its number of prisoners. We speak with Gomez’s sister Yajaira Lopez and to attorney Carol Strickland of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. "When he did get [to Corcoran State Prison], he did explain to us that he was participating in a hunger strike," Lopez says. "They were fighting for just fair treatment." [includes rush transcript]

  • Occupy the SEC: Former Wall Street Workers Defend Volcker Rule Against Banks’ Anti-Regulatory Push

    Occusec

    The latest offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy the SEC, has submitted a 325-page comment to the Securities and Exchange Commission that calls on regulators to resist the financial industry’s lobbying efforts to water down the Volcker Rule, a section in the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, that aims to prevent large banks from making certain kinds of risky, speculative investments. The group is made up of former Wall Street professionals who once worked at many of the largest financial firms in the industry. We’re joined by Alexis Goldstein, who worked as a computer programmer for seven years at Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. She left Wall Street in 2010 and joined the Occupy Wall Street movement soon after the encampment began. "Banks shouldn’t behave like a hedge fund," Goldstein says. "Hedge funds are there to make money and take risky bets, and their clients tend to be these really wealthy clients. And the Volcker Rule sort of says, 'Well, wait a minute. These big banks that enjoy all this government support shouldn't be in that business." [includes rush transcript]

  • "Occupy Baby": Occupy Wall Street Organizer Beka Economopoulos Gives Birth in Back of Cab

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    An Occupy Wall Street organizer in Brooklyn gave birth to a baby Tuesday night in a scene caught on videotape by her husband, another Occupy Wall Street activist. Beka Economopoulos and Jason Jones were preparing to host an Occupy video meeting at their home in Brooklyn when Economopoulos began having contractions. They soon jumped into a taxi, but only made it two blocks before Economopoulos gave birth in the backseat. The cab driver got out of his car and waved orange flags, directing traffic until two ambulances and six police cars arrived at the scene. Jones videotaped what happened next and posted it on YouTube under the channel name "Occupy Baby." [includes rush transcript]

  • Supreme Court to Decide Whether U.S. Corporations Can Be Sued for Abuses Overseas

    Nigeria

    The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday on whether U.S.-based corporations can be sued in U.S. courts for human rights abuses committed overseas. The case involves nine Nigerian activists, including Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed for protesting Royal Dutch Shell. We’re joined by Marco Simons, legal director of EarthRights International, which filed a "friend of the court" legal brief in this case and has been a pioneer in using the Alien Tort Statute to sue corporations for human rights abuses in Burma, Nigeria, Colombia and other nations. Some legal analysts are comparing the case to the landmark campaign finance ruling in Citizens United, which found that corporations have broad rights under the First Amendment and can directly fund political campaigns. "This case is really about whether a corporation that participates in serious human rights abuses, such as crimes against humanity or genocide or state-sponsored torture, can profit from those abuses and shield those profits from the victims when the victims come to take them to court," Marco says. [includes rush transcript]

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