Tag: Georgia

The Inalienable Right to be a Bigot takes some hits

Vandiver Elizabeth Glenn, who goes by Vandy Beth, is a transgender woman who was fired from her job editing legislation for the Georgia General Assembly Office of Legislative Council when she informewd her supervisor that she would be transitioning from male to female in 2007.  Legislative Council Sewell Brumby conceded to the court that Vandy Beth’s “intended feminine appearance” was the reason for the termination.

The federal District Court ruled that termination to be a violation of the Constitutions’s Equal Protection guarantee and discriminated againston the basis of her failure to conform to sex stereotypes.  The state appealed the case to the 11th Circuit.

The decision is now in.  Writing for the unanimous panel that included Judge William Pryor (appointed by W) and Judge Phyllis Kravitz (Carter), Judge Rosemary Barkett (Clinton) wrote:

An individual cannot be punished because of his or her perceived gender-nonconformity.  Because these protections are afforded to everyone, they cannot be denied to a transgender individual…A person is defined as transgender precisely because of the perception that his or her behavior transgresses gender stereotypes.

On Protecting The Innocent, Or, Is There A Death Penalty Compromise?

I don’t feel very good about this country this morning, and as so many of us are I’m thinking of how Troy Davis was hustled off this mortal coil by the State of Georgia without a lot of thought of what it means to execute the innocent.

And given the choice, I’d rather see us abandon the death penalty altogether, for reasons that must, at this moment, seem self-evident; that said, it’s my suspicion that a lot of states are not going to be in any hurry to abandon their death penalties anytime soon now that they know the Supreme Court will allow the innocent to be murdered.

So what if there was a way to create a compromise that balanced the absolute need to protect the innocent with the feeling among many Americans that, for some crimes, we absolutely have to impose the death penalty?

Considering the circumstances, it’s not going to be an easy subject, but let’s give it a try, and see what we can do.

Fasting With Troy Davis on 9/21



The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Troy Davis’s request for clemency. It appears that Georgia will kill him by lethal injection at 7 pm ET on September 21, 2011. And it appears that execution cannot be stopped.

From Ben Jeanlous at the NAACP an eloquent, moving request that we fast tomorrow evening and mark the time of Troy Davis’s execution:

An Outrage In Georgia

The Georgia Pardon and Parole Board has DENIED clemency to Troy Davis.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:

The state Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday has denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis after hearing pleas for mercy from Davis’ family and calls for his execution by surviving relatives of a murdered Savannah police officer.

Davis’ case has already taken more unexpected turns than just about any death-penalty case in Georgia history and his innocence claims have attracted international attention. Its resolution was postponed once again when the parole board late Monday announced it would not be making an immediate decision as to whether Davis should live or die.

Davis, 42, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson.

I doubt there are other legal steps that can stop the state from killing Troy Davis.

My heart goes out to Troy Davis and his family, and also to the McPhail family.  They all deserve better.

I Am Troy Davis


On September 21, 2011, the State of Georgia plans to kill Troy Davis by lethal injection.  Again.  This is the fourth time the State of Georgia has scheduled Davis for death.  In 2007 he was spared with less than 24 hours notice.  In September 2008, the hearse was waiting at the door and he was less than two hours away from the gurney.  A month later the execution was halted three days before execution.  And now, the rollercoaster from hope to despair has come to September 21, 2011.

Troy Davis’s conviction stems from the 1989 death of a Savannah police officer, Mark Allen McPhail.  The rollercoaster, for Troy Davis and his family and for the family of the officer, has been lurching back and forth for 22 years.  And with each year, doubt about the conviction has grown as witnesses have recanted and as jurors speak their unresolved doubts.  Lurking in the background is alarming possibility that the wrong man is waiting for the needle and that the real murderer has escaped.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:

With only days before his scheduled execution, an effort to spare convicted killer Troy Davis is gathering thousands in rallies, vigils and other last-minute events from Atlanta to Peru to Berlin.

Citing doubts about his guilt, national leaders of the NAACP and Amnesty International led hundreds in a protest Friday against executing the man a Georgia jury said killed a Savannah police officer in 1989. Amnesty International declared a Global Day of Solidarity for Troy Davis, with 300 events across the United States and the globe, including in New York, Washington D.C., San Diego, Paris and Oslo.

Former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu are among those calling for his execution to be halted. And this week, Davis supporters presented 663,000 petitions to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles asking for his life to be spared.

Troy Davis has one last chance to ask for leniency. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, which has the sole authority in Georgia to commute death sentences, will meet Monday to consider Davis’s case.

That means that this weekend is the last opportunity to sign a petition and to stand with more than 600,000 others for sparing Troy Davis.

The petition is here.

Details about the case are here from 2006 and here from 2008.

An excellent first person view is here (h/t OPOL).


cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

State Killing: Georgia Saves A Prisoner’s Life So It Can Kill Him

As long as there is a death penalty in the United States, as long as the government persists in the barbaric practice of having the state kill those convicted of the most egregious murders, as long as the government continues to kill by lethal injection, there will continue to be egregious, shameful, disgraceful, inhuman, unfathomable executions.

Last week it was the Virginia execution of Teresa Lewis, a woman with a 72 IQ who was not the shooter in the double murder that led to her execution on Thursday.  The two male gunmen each received life in prison.  Little, whose guilt was never in doubt, pleaded guilty, waived her right to a jury trial on punishment, and to her then attorney’s surprise, was sentenced to death by a judge without a jury.  The judge said she was the “head of the serpent.”  I wrote that if this execution was justice, justice was an ass.

And now Georgia plans on executing Brandon Rhode on Monday.

Antiwar.com’s quarterly fundraiser begins today!

Originally from Antiwar.com:

They say it better than I can.

McPocalypse Now

I belong to the generation that had school drills for the Big One.  Many of us can remember the look of terror in the eyes of our parents as we sat around the TV watching President Kennedy announce the “quarantine” of Cuba on October 7, 1962.

Will the world’s families once again feel that horrible terror?

(cross-posted on dKos)

Uh oh..Saakashvili-o’s!

Folks, it seems as if everyone’s favorite Georgian President is spoiling for a Round 2 with Moscow.

Despite the presence of Russian troops on Georgian soil, President Mikhail Saakashvili said the West would help his country regain control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the separatist regions of Georgia recognized as independent nations by Moscow last month.

“Our territorial integrity will be restored, I am more convinced of this than ever,” Saakashvili said in a televised appearance. “This will not be an easy process, but now this is a process between an irate Russia and the rest of the world.”

“Our goal is the return of our territory and the peaceful unification of Georgia,” he said.

– excerpt from “Georgian president vows to reclaim 2 provinces “, AP, 2008

You know, I felt bad about what happened in Georgia.  Tbilisi’s top man should have known better than to try and call Moscow’s bluff.  Washington should have also known better than to egg on Saakashvilli.  Nobody ended up a winner in this, well maybe Gazprom, but who knows I’ll defer to Jerome a Paris on that.  

Obama’s Cheney

Original article, by Justin Raimondo and sub-headed “Is there a curse on the office of the Vice President?”, via antiwar.com:

The office of the Vice President has surely undergone a transformation in recent years: from Dan Quayle to Dick Cheney is a long way to travel. The role of the VP, with Cheney acting as the eminence grise of the Bush regime – and, some would say, the real President – has been amplified to the nth degree, and it looks like the administration of Barack Obama is going to continue this ominous tradition.

Imperialism’s unstable world order

Original Article, sub-headed After seven days of bloody war in the Caucasus and growing tension between the US and Russia, John Rees asks what is it about the new world order that has made it so prone to warfare?, via socialistworker.org.uk:

There is one fundamental thing that is common to capitalism in every age that makes it a uniquely violent system. It is not a marginal or accidental part of the system but something that is part of the very definition of capitalist society. That thing is competition.

Uh-oh!  Competition being bashed…must restrain from shouting ‘USA, USA, USA.’  After all, isn’t our competitive spirit what made us greater than everybody else?  Isn’t competition what makes our ‘free market’ system of capitalism work so well?

Must Read: Georgia and McCain’s dirty hands

Crossposted at DailyKos

I diaried and commented in several places yesterday about a group called the International Republican Institute (IRI) and McCain’s involvement as chairman of their board.  A days worth of research has provided me with further compelling clarity that contrary to his public image as an outsider, McCain has for years been the ultimate Washington insider, directly linked through his involvement in the IRI with possible election fraud and several possible coups including the most recent installation of President Shaakasvili in Georgia.  If you were wondering where his claim of foreign policy experience comes from besides his stint as a prisoner of war, look no further.  Unfortunately for him (and for us), he can’t claim this experience without igniting a huge controversy.  The man’s hands are dirty and this latest situation with Georgia raises many questions.

From Wikipedia:

Founded in 1983, the International Republican Institute (IRI) is an organization, funded by United States government, that conducts international political programs, sometimes labeled ‘democratization programs’.[1]

Initially known as the National Republican Institute for International Affairs, the IRI’s stated mission is to expand what it interprets as freedom throughout the world. Its activities include teaching and assisting with political party and candidate development, good governance practices, civil society development, civic education, women’s and youth leadership development, electoral reform and election monitoring, and political expression in closed societies.

The IRI operates as a political organization abroad, providing training and assistance to political parties. As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, it plays no part in domestic U.S. politics. However, the majority of its board, staff and consultants are drawn from the Republican Party.[3] According to the National Relations Center website, the IRI’s leadership “spans the center right, far right, and neoconservative factions of the Republican Party. Most of its staff and board have links to right-wing think tanks, foundations, and policy institutes, while many also represent major financial, oil, and defense corporations.”

The IRI is accused of training some of the leaders of the 2004 coup d’etat in Haiti, as well as funding opposition groups in the country in a destabilization campaign in the months leading up the removal of democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide by a coalition of Canada, the US and France. Aristide was replaced with an unelected government which has been in power since that time.

Basically the IRI functions as a covert arm of the US State Dept, taking on missions that would probably otherwise have been performed by the CIA.  It receives all of its funding from the US.  They are self described “shadow advisors”:

IRI are shadow advisors: The International Republican Institute’s (IRI) efforts have led many political parties to establish their own strategic party plans, party activities, and party ideologies as well as independently run training centers and campaign academies for regional party members. Some of them also developed local chapters and held party elections to outline the specific roles and responsibilities of its leaders.

Public Opinion Polling

A critical component of developing a party plan is the ability to accurately gauge the political sentiment within the electorate. Political parties may themselves conduct many forms of research needed to formulate a party plan, such as demographic research and opposition research. However, in order to accurately assess opinions of the electorate, it is necessary to incorporate the use of public opinion polls into the party plan and message development process.

IRI is conducting a series of public opinion surveys to track the opinions of the electorate. When each poll is completed, IRI meets with the political party leaders to share the results. IRI’s goal is that through consultations on polling data and analyses, Georgian political parties will learn how to use the information from such a poll to conduct more effective political campaigns. In addition, IRI shares its polling analyses with the government of Georgia to assist it in managing expectations and identifying important areas of policy reform.

(from http://www.iri.org/eurasia/geo… )

Not just policy advisors, they are also set up as election watchdogs, covering many countries including Afghanistan and Georgia.  In their function as election overseers they have been involved in both push pulling and what may be election fraud:

IRI has actively supported administration objectives in the war on terror, with programs in 10 countries in the Greater Middle East region. In particular, the institute has been accused repeatedly of using potentially misleading polling data to push the Bush agenda, both at home and abroad. Reported Raw Story (June 9, 2006): “During the Afghan presidential election of October 2004, IRI’s pre-election poll showed Hamid Karzai with a strong lead, and its exit poll, released immediately after the vote and well before the ballots were counted, also gave him over 50% of the vote.  The British Helsinki Human Rights Group subsequently suggested that these polls might have helped head off scrutiny of an election that had initially been met with well-founded suspicions of fraud. IRI’s polls also serve to influence public opinion in the United States. A year ago, MediaMatters pointed out that the Washington Post had cited an IRI poll showing that ‘60% of Iraqis believed the country is headed in the right direction’ without indicating the partisan nature of its source. In September 2004, President Bush had cited a similar IRI poll at a press conference, saying, ‘I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better than here in America. It’s pretty darn strong. I mean, the people see a better future.

(from http://rightweb.irc-online.org…

In addition, using YOUR money, they act as a lobbyist and fundraising group for McCain:

… an examination of his leadership of the Republican institute – one of the least-chronicled aspects of his political life – reveals an organization in many ways at odds with the political outsider image that has become a touchstone of the McCain campaign for president.

Certainly the institute’s mission is in keeping with Mr. McCain’s full-throated support for exporting American democratic values. Yet the institute is also something of a revolving door for lobbyists and out-of-power Republicans that offers big donors a way of helping both the party and the institute’s chairman, who is the second sitting member of Congress – and now candidate for president – ever to head one of the democracy groups.

Operating without the sort of limits placed on campaign fund-raising, the institute under Mr. McCain has solicited millions of dollars for its operations from some 560 defense contractors, lobbying firms, oil companies and other corporations, many with issues before Senate committees Mr. McCain was on.

(from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07… )

As chair of the board, one can assume that McCain has either overseen or been directly involved with all of the IRI’s activities.  Other people on the board include Randy Scheunemann, one of McCain’s campaign advisors (who not coincidentally has well-known lobbyist ties to Georgia) and Alison B. Fortier, VP for Lockheed Martin Missile Defense Programs.  And, sending up a red flag for Chuck Hagel, he is also on the board of IRI. (Cross your fingers that Obama decides not to choose him as VP.  That would be a very BAD sign.)

One board member in particular deserves a closer look: Lorne Craner.  This is a man so well-connected with Georgian politics that he actually spoke at a former Georgian PM’s funeral.  In addition to functioning as president of the IRI, he also sits on the board of directors of the Millineum Challenge Corporation, which recently supplied Georgia with $295 million in funding.  

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an independent agency in the Executive branch organized as a government corporation. MCC’s mission is to provide foreign development assistance to low income countries that qualify for grants designed to reduce poverty and improve economic growth. MCC’s authorizing legislation is codified at 22 U.S.C. §§ 7701, et seq.


The grant for Georgia has the stated purpose of strengthening their infrastructure, with funds earmarked specifically for “rehabilitating the North-South Gas pipeline” and providing “long-term risk capital and technical assistance to SMEs, primarily in the regions outside of Tbilisi, and will identify legal and policy reforms needed to improve the investment environment.” (from http://www.mca.gov/countries/g… )

This last revelation re the oilpipeline coupled with possible election fraud in Georgia leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.  I will leave it up to you to speculate what McCain’s ultimate involvement may be.  Frankly the whole thing stinks.

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