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New questions in FBI Boston bombing witness killing

Agent Who Killed Tsarnaev Pal During Grilling had Brutal, Corrupt History

 

Almost a year after an FBI agent shot and killed, under suspicious circumstances, a crucial witness in the Boston Marathon bombing case during a botched midnight interrogation in an Orlando apartment, serious questions are being raised about the FBI agent who fired seven shots into Chechen immigrant Ibragim Todashev last May 22.

Two investigations, one by the FBI itself and one by the Florida Attorney General’s office, exonerated the FBI in the shooting death, claiming the agent, never identified, had been acting in self-defense, when Todashev allegedly ran at him with a raised broom handle.

Now, in an excellent piece of investigative journalism, the Boston Globe has uncovered the identity of the agent, 41-year-old Aaron McFarlane, who joined the Bureau in 2008 after retiring on a $52,000 lifetime annual disability pension from a short stint as an officer in the Oakland Police Department.

Aside from the question of why someone who passed through the rigorous training program the FBI runs for its recruits at Quantico, VA would also qualify for a lucrative pension, it turns out that McFarlane also has a pretty checkered past at Oakland’s Police Department -- a police department that has such an extraordinary record of corruption and brutality, that since 2012 it has been operated under the supervision of a federal court “compliance director,” whose job is to see that officers don’t brutalize residents or violate their civil rights.

McFarlane, the Boston Globe reported, did more than that as an Oakland cop. The paper reports that during his four years with the Oakland Police, he was the subject of two police brutality lawsuits and four internal affairs investigations. the paper found also that McFarlane, as a defense witness in a corruption trial, pleaded the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination in refusing to answer questions from the prosecutor in that case, which involved officers .

 Todashev's killer, FBI Agent Aaron McFarlane, here as Oakland cop testifying at a corruption trial, his victim, IbrahFrom left: Todashev's killer, FBI Agent Aaron McFarlane, here as Oakland cop testifying at a corruption trial, his victim, Ibragim Todashev, and the FBI crime scene 'investigation' following the shooting
 

A hallway dispute that could open up a real public debate

Companies Scuffle with the FCC on Net Neutrality

 

As the FCC hurtles towards what seems like an approval this coming Thursday of new proposed rules that would, effectively, allow establishment of a second high-speed, higher-cost Internet, we've caught a glimpse of an interesting and infrequently noted split in the circles of power.

It's a minor scuffle but, if it continues, it could open up debates that would involve genuine free-Internet forces and that would quickly put the need to protect the Internet on the national agenda.

Free Press's Take on the Net Neutrality DebateFree Press's Take on the Net Neutrality Debate
 

More than a hundred companies, led by giants like Google and Amazon, have written a letter asking the FCC to put the breaks on its new proposal package, revealed last month by FCC Chairman (and former industry lobbyist) Tom Wheeler (a former cable industry lobbyist) that would effectively allow access providers (the people who supply your connection -- like Comcast) to establish fast lane Internet service for some content providers (people with websites) and charge them for it.

The package, once approved by the FCC, doesn't become law automatically. It would go to "public review" for a year or so before the Commission takes final action. That review process seldom ends in any but the most cosmetic changes but the recent outcry about the rules draws the kind of publicity that could morph into a public debate. That could get very messy for the FCC and for the big corporations.

The proposal itself, as TCBH reported, is an atrocity: a cynical, destructive maiming of the structure and purpose of the Internet which was, after all, invented to allow democratic and equal communications. The FCC's fast lane proposal rips that to shreds and a coalition of progressive and free Internet organizations has been organizing a relentless campaign against it. They are calling for a rally outside FCC headquarters Thursday to demand that the Commission not pass the new rules.

The companies -- Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, and Yahoo and over a hundred others -- are mouthing rhetoric that sounds like the free Internet movement's slogans but their motivation is very different. This is about the capitalist common denominator: money. Simply put, Comcast wants people like Google to pay it for faster service and people like Google don't want to pay...not just yet anyway.

Look who’s calling voting ‘divisive’ and ‘illegal’

Blood-soaked US Has No Business Opposing Sovereignty Plebiscites

 

The rot at the core of US international affairs, domestic politics and the corporate media is evident in the American approach to the Ukraine crisis.

Just look at the freak-out from all quarters as the people of the eastern part of that country conduct, under conditions of attack and violence fomented by military units sent in by the Kiev putsch government, a peaceful plebiscite asking people to give their view as to whether they want some kind of sovereignty separating them from western Ukraine.

The official US State Department position on the balloting in Dohansk and Luhansk is that this voting effort was "illegal" and "an attempt to create further division and disorder."

"The United States will not recognize the results of these illegal referenda," said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.

The White House called the voting “illegitimate” and “illegal.”

The US has not once called the violent coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected government illegitimate or illegal.

Indeed any violence during the voting, which appeared to actually be celebratory, came from Ukrainian troops. Even the Associated Press, which has largely been parroting the US line on separatists in eastern Ukraine, wrote:

“Although the voting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions appeared mostly peaceful, armed men identified as members of the Ukrainian national guard opened fire on a crowd outside a town hall in Krasnoarmeisk, and an official with the region's insurgents said people were killed. It was not clear how many.” (Actually the reporter on this story wrote that he saw the shooting, and witnessed two dead bodies as a result, so AP didn't have to weaken the story's authority by attributing it to "officials with the region's insurgents+ -- the latter an odd term to give to armed people working, clearly has the support of the communities, to defend them from attack by armed, uniformed thugs sent in from the Kiev regime to disrupt and kill people.)

The US corporate media have largely toed the official line, referring to the separatists in eastern Ukraine as violent when they have been in reality surprisingly restrained in the face of overt violence by military forces dispatched by Kiev. And they never mention the balloting in the east without also mentioning that the US believes that Russia is behind that effort, though in fact Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin actually angered and annoyed separatists by calling on them -- unsuccessfully -- to delay their voting plan. (Even that arch cold-warrior and war criminal Henry Kissinger has told CNN that it "makes no sense" to claim Putin is behind the unrest and the separatist movement in western Ukraine.)

But let’s analyze that position calling the voting “illegal.”

America has a bloody history of favoring guns over ballots when it comes to self-determinationAmerica has a bloody history of favoring guns over ballots when it comes to self-determination
 

Bearing the Pain of Affirmative Action

The Shame of Clarence Thomas

 
    Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
    Everybody knows that the captain lied ...
    Everybody knows the deal is rotten
    Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
    For your ribbons and bows

            - Leonard Cohen
 

In honor of our Supreme Court I’ve decided to start this piece with a prayer.

Great Spirit of our imagination, have mercy on us stupid, hypocritical bipeds, especially those exceptional examples in black robes who decide whether an armed police officer can strip-search us in public or whether a one-hundred dollar bill has a conscience. Do all you can, Mighty Great One, to allow at least a little light and compassion into the hidden, dark recesses of their august institution.

Amen.

Now we can get on with this humble, scribbled note from underground.

Considering his appointment history in conjunction with his opinions and voting record concerning affirmative action, if Clarence Thomas had any sense of human decency ... No wait a minute. ... Given the facts of his career, if Clarence Thomas had any honor, a backbone or a pair of independent-minded balls, he'd stop whining about affirmative action and resign.

 Barbara and George Bush; Clarence and Virginia Thomas and Justice Byron WhiteThe scene of the crime: Barbara and George Bush; Clarence and Virginia Thomas and Justice Byron White
 

The Supreme Court’s recent banning of affirmative action in a case from Michigan should remind everyone how really offensive the Thomas appointment was and how it smells worse as time goes by. Thomas notoriously sits among his eight colleagues and does not ask questions, which suggests he lacks the intellectual confidence to swim with the big fish on the court. On top of that, he’s a virtual intellectual drone of Antonin Scalia. According to a recent study on Supreme Court justices and political bias, Thomas is the most conservative justice on the court -- even more so than his master Scalia. In an insightful article called "The Last Confederate Is Clarence Thomas", attorney Charles Pierce describes Thomas' legal philosophy as a bizarre retrograde advocacy of States Rights over the US Constitution reminiscent of pre-Civil War times. Thomas is, he writes, a “staggering political and historical contradiction. He is the last, and the truest, descendant of John C. Calhoun.”

(I realize the use of the word “master” for Justice Scalia may bother some. For example, I can hear Sean Hannity fulminating how it's “racist” to use plantation terminology. The fact is, unlike Hannity and friends, I don't speak in dog whistle language and prefer a French horn.)

The reason Thomas should resign is simple: He consistently argues and votes against affirmative action while he is arguably one of the most flagrant and, certainly, the most controversial, case of affirmative action in American history. Thomas decrying affirmative action is like Macbeth opposing murder.

Kangaroo court convicts Occupy protester

DA Cyrus Vance Jr., Prosecutor for the Rich

 

Breaking News!: Nine Jurors in McMillan Case Send Letter to Trial Judge Asking Him Not to Send Her to Jail!

In a surprise development, nine of the 12 jurors who on Monday voted unanimously to convict Cecily McMillan of felony assault of a police officer for elbowing him in the eye as he grabbed her to arrest her during a clearing of Zuccotti Park near Wall Street have written a letter to the trial judge, Ronald Zwiebel. In it they petition him not to sentence her to jail time.

The letter was first reported by the US edition of the British Guardian newspaper, which has done a far better job of reporting on this ugly case than any of the city's three daily newspapers, which have devoted little time or space to it.

The Guardian had reported earlier on the day jurors were released from duty after rendering their verdict, that they had all rushed out to read about the case. Several said they were dismayed to learn about details that had been withheld from them by the trial judge at the request of the obsessed prosecutor -- details such as the history of brutality by the officer who had grabbed McMillan from behind by the breast, causing her to throw up an elbow in defense, hitting his eye, or a brutal act by the same cop later after he had arrested her Also barred during the trial were details about the general violence used by the NYPD in clearing the group, of which Mcmillan was a part, from the Zuccotti Park public space, leaving jurors to think her incident was the only violence that took place that evening.

In its earlier report, the Guardian had quoted jurors as saying they were also shocked and upset to learn, after having voted to convict her, that she faced up to seven years in jail. They said they assumed she would be given some punishment like probation. Instead, they witnessed her being led out of the courtroom in shackels to be held on Rikers Island until her sentencing hearing several weeks later, with no bail set during the interim -- a stark contrast from the way high-profile convicted business executives get treated while awaiting sentencing, or during their months of appeals.

It will be instructive to see how the judge responds -- if at all -- to the call by a large majority of the jurors in the case for no jail time for McMillan, as well as to see, if he does respond, how hard DA Vance and his prosecutor in the case object to any leniency in sentencing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

Cecily McMillan and her lead attorney Martin Stolar in a photo taken during her trialCecily McMillan and her lead attorney Martin Stolar in a photo taken during her trial

Two and a half years after the Occupy Wall Street movement took the country by storm, injecting topics like income inequality and class war into the realm of permissible national political discourse for the first time since the 1930s, the nation’s legal machinery of repression has come down like a proverbial ton of bricks on the movement just as nationally coordinated police repression crushed its physical manifestation in late 2011.

The Case of the Dead Brazilian Torturer Gets Murkier

 

They haven't killed him yet.

Paulo Malhaes, the confessed Brazilian torturer whose death I recently reported on this site may not have been murdered after all. At least that’s what police investigating the case have been loudly proclaiming for the past week.

The former Army officer who had been an active agent of repression during Brazil’s military dictatorship in the nineteen seventies was found dead in his home on April 25th. It was immediately and widely assumed that Malhaes had been assassinated by former comrades disturbed by his recent testimony before the Brazilian Truth Commission. But the police in Nova Iguacu, a commuter city on the periphery of Rio de Janeiro, are saying that Malhaes died of a heart attack while being restrained during a routine house robbery gone wrong.

Retired Colonel Paulo Malhaes testifying last month and his recent funeralRetired Colonel Paulo Malhaes testifying last month and his recent funeral
 

Based on what’s being reported in Brazil and via international wire services, however, the line of inquiry being pursued by the police is so rife with contradictory evidence and unanswered questions that the case is already showing all the earmarks of a cover up, if not a full blown conspiracy. At this point it’s still impossible to distinguish hearsay from fact, but the story goes something like this, beginning with a few scant details on the victim’s background:

While on active duty in an intelligence unit more than three decades ago, Paulo Malhaes was in command of what the Brazilian Army dubbed its House of Death located in a mountain town near Rio. It was where high profile militants involved in armed resistance were taken to be interrogated. Most never left alive, Malhaes has testified, and their bodies were partially dismembered, then dumped in a local river. “They paid a high price for playing cops and robbers with the Army,” Malhaes once gloated to reporters of the Brazilian daily, O Globo. During his testimony Malhaes said he did not repent his acts, and would do it all over again. The former colonel did refuse, however, to provide the names of those with whom he served, which may have not been enough to save him.

Malhaes had retired from the military sometime in the early eighties. He settled in the rural zone surrounding Nova Iguacu on a property next to a local police official, who, it has been revealed, also served under Malhaes in the House of Death. The police official raised horses. One article from O Globo claims that Malhaes “imposed his violent brand of law on the region” by riding the dirt roads of his neighborhood on horseback hunting for drug traffickers. When he saw them he would take out his gun and begin to shoot. It was also reported that Malhaes grew close to a local chief of organized crime involved in the numbers racket, and that he stayed in touch with some of the interrogators who had been his subordinates in the army’s torture unit.

Killing of leaders was being planned

Exposing the Federal Government's Plan to Crush the Occupy Movement (Part I)

  Listen to Dave Lindorff explain on Santa Barbara radio KCSB's Radio Occupy program how the federal government, in collusion with state and local police, and possibly with private bank and oil company security firms, planned to use "suppressed sniper fire" to assassinate the leaders of Occupy Houston, and perhaps also the leaders of other Occupy Movement actions around the country.

Drawing on classified FBI and Homeland Security documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice through the Freedom of Information Act, Lindorff tells Radio Occupy host Kathy Swift how the Homeland Security Department under the Obama administration coordinated the national crackdown that crushed the Occupy Movement, and how it nearly led to a campaign of assassination against this peaceful movement that in 2011 swept the nation. He also notes that the FBI, so quick to boast about the 40-plus alleged "terror" plots it has disrupted since 9-11, has never made a prosecution or arrest in this Houston terror plot to kill Occupy leaders, about which its Houston office wrote in a memo to FBI national headquarters.

To listen to part I of this interview, got to Radio Occupy. (Part II will be available next week on this site.)

Portion of a page from the Craft International website showing sniper training for local policePortion of a page from the Craft International website showing sniper training programs for local police

New Poem:

Shanghai Smog

 

There is a man reporting on how bad the smog is in China.
He is saying,
“See, right there,
at the end of this street that you don’t see
is the second tallest building in China.”
I squint. . . I don’t see anything!
“In fact”, he’s saying,
“the smog is so bad,
I’m actually standing right here in front of this camera,
so you wouldn’t have seen the building anyway,
but you can’t even see me!”
This guy is good!

The latest 'ThisCantBeHappening!' Show on PRN.fm

An Interview with Charles M. Young

 

Journalist Charles M. Young talks with Dave Lindorff, host of PRN.fm's new program 'This Can't Be Happening!" about the Occupy Wall Street Movement, New York's last mayor, Michael Bloomberg, the NYPD vs. the LAPD, music & politics, getting groined by Hunter Thompson and interviewing Noam Chomsky.

You can hear the podcast of Wednesday evening's show by clicking on the image below:

Hear Dave Lindorff on 'This Can't Be Happening!' every Wednesday at 5 pm Eastern Time on PRN.fm or on the web at www.PRN.fmHear Dave Lindorff on 'This Can't Be Happening!' every Wednesday at 5 pm Eastern Time on PRN.fm or on the web at www.PRN.fm

Poem:

A Party for the American People

 

This poem is based on two assumptions:

1) A party is good for the American People.

2) There actually are “American People”.

So, let’s have a party and invite the American People!
Let’s have a theme.
We’ll get everything we need from the party store!
There will be a DJ, and a huge cake.
And zombies serving finger food.

(The American People get zombies.)

There will be lots of young beautiful educated people
From other countries
Walking around nodding and smiling.

(The American People get foreigners.)

There will be a dog there so the American People
Can have something to distract them
From trying to be too clever.
happy bday

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This is the video tape of Davis in Lahore police custody


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Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

Live Stream of the Occupation of Wall Street! The Revolution will be filmed after all! (Courtesy of Globalrevolution)
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Fightin' Cock FlyerFightin' Cock Flyer

Listen as Chuck, John, Dave and Linn Join Prairie Radical Mike Caddell of the Fightin' Cock Flyer on Radio Free Kansas

Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.

Donate $50 to ThisCantBeHappening.net and get a free signed copy, postage paid, of Dave's classic tome The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin's Press, 2006). Just click on the cover image to go to the Paypal payment page, make your payment, and send a note to Dave calling his attention to the payment, and giving your mail address and the name you want the inscription addressed to.

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by Dr. Radut