Objection Overruled: Top Prosecutor Must Testify in Wrongful Conviction Case

For more than two years, Jabbar Collins and his lawyer have pursued a multi-million dollar wrongful conviction lawsuit against New York City. They have unearthed what they claim is damning evidence of misconduct by prosecutors in the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes. They have obtained a sworn affidavit from a man who said he was forced by prosecutors to lie on the stand during Collins’ murder trial. They have named the individual prosecutors to hold them personally accountable.

But their aims have not been limited to establishing possible wrongdoing in the 1995 case that sent Collins to prison for 16 years. Instead, the lawsuit has included an additional, ambitious allegation: that Hynes, over many years, ran a district attorney’s office that overlooked, condoned and even rewarded misconduct by its prosecutors.

It is a bracing assertion. And it is one Hynes, in legal papers filed by the city, had sought to avoid answering in person. Lawyers for the city, arguing on Hynes’ behalf, said it was unnecessary or premature for Hynes to have to submit to questioning about the oversight of the men and women who worked for him. They asked a federal judge in Brooklyn to prevent Collins’ lawyer from taking testimony from him under oath.

On Wednesday, that judge, Federal Magistrate Judge Robert Levy, ruled that Hynes would not be spared. Hynes, based on the judge’s ruling, will have to sit for a deposition with Collins’ lawyer, Joel Rudin, in August. The judge also rejected the city’s bid to keep the deposition sealed. Hynes, who is running for a seventh term, is set to square off in a Democratic primary in September.

Outside the courtroom in Brooklyn, Collins said he was excited about the prospect of questioning Hynes.

“I think it’s finally vindication to really confront him and have him answer under oath why he permitted the horrendous misconduct in my case to occur and why he failed to do anything about it,” Collins said.

Lawyers for the city have rejected the claims that Hynes has been condoning misconduct. And they have portrayed Rudin’s efforts to question him under oath as a stunt to humiliate the district attorney.

“Regrettably, plaintiff’s fierce resistance to deposing other senior officials, together with his apparent proclivity to litigate this case in the press, betrays his motives: To embarrass the District Attorney by ambushing him with pointed questions from 50 separate cases that have been litigated in his office for the past 30 years or more, and then to play ‘gotcha’ when the DA understandably cannot recall specifics or details,” city lawyers said in court papers.

Rudin has alleged in the lawsuit that Hynes’ tacit policy of overlooking misconduct has led to repeated instances in which witnesses were secretly coerced into giving false testimony, exculpatory evidence was withheld, and coverups were mounted when defendants appealed. Rudin has asserted that he has found nearly 60 cases in which some or all of that kind of misconduct took place. In all those instances, Rudin asserts, no prosecutor involved was ever disciplined. Instead, he has claimed in court papers, Hynes has “praised and promoted them, thereby encouraging future constitutional violations to occur.”

Rudin has also argued that the pervasiveness of misconduct in Hynes’ office demonstrates that prosecutors are improperly trained to handle exculpatory evidence when they discover it. In fact, he claims that prosecutors “were permitted and/or encouraged to refrain from making any record of false or inconsistent out-of-court statements of prospective prosecution witnesses.” That way, they’d never have to turn such material over to the defense as the law requires, Rudin has claimed in the lawsuit.

All of this, Rudin has alleged, produced “overall deliberate indifference” to misconduct in Hynes’ office. And that attitude, he has said, helped explain the misconduct that Rudin has alleged against the lead prosecutor in Collins’ murder case decades ago. Rudin has accused that prosecutor, Michael Vecchione, of having engineered false testimony against Collins and then having overseen an effort to deny him access to records that might have freed him from prison. Collins was released after 16 years after he won a rare bid in federal court to have his case re-examined.

Vecchione has denied each and every one of Rudin’s claims, and lawyers for the city have continued to insist that Collins is guilty.

Vecchione was scheduled to be deposed by Rudin on Friday. However, Vecchione, who has been a principal character in CBS’ current series “Brooklyn DA,” had asked to have the deposition postponed because he was busy on a case. Judge Levy, however, ordered that Vecchione be deposed no later than June 24.

At the hearing, the city withdrew its argument that certain emails and other records turned over to Rudin and Collins by Hynes’ office be kept under court seal.

Source Article from http://www.nationofchange.org/objection-overruled-top-prosecutor-must-testify-wrongful-conviction-case-1371568250

Target to Remove GMOs from Major Food Brand

Super store giant, Target, has announced they will be adding a new brand to their shelves—one that is made with natural health in mind. Called Simply Balanced, the brand will be on shelves soon and will phase out genetically modified ingredients by the end of 2014.

According to a press release on the Target official website, the initial roll-out will include a selection of foods that are 40% organic and the majority of them will not contain GMOs. GMOs will be completely absent from the ingredients within the next year and a half.

This, they say, is in an effort to align with the “increasing demand for healthy food products at a great price.” The Simply Balanced brand will also exclude other harmful ingredients while striving to provide consumers with a natural and affordable store-brand option.

The Simply Balanced collection is crafted to be free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, and avoids high fructose corn syrup. The collection never uses trans fats, is mindful about the amount of sodium in each product, and forty percent of the products are organic – giving guests more of the simple, recognizable ingredients they know and want – and a food label they can understand.

As a wellness brand built on purity and simplicity, Simply Balanced products exclude 105 common food additive ingredients, and the vast majority of the items within the collection are made without GMOs. As part of Target’s commitment to wellness, the Simply Balanced collection will eliminate all GMOs by the end of 2014.  

In all, there will be nearly 250 products carrying the brand name, ranging in price from $1 for water to $14.99 for seafood products. Snacks, pasta, drinks, dairy, cereal, and frozen seafood will all be included in the lineup.

This brand is replacing two subsets of the current store-brand Archer Farms: Archer Farms Simply Balanced and Archer Farms Organic. The store will begin rolling out the new products this month.

As consumers continue to voice their opinions with the almighty dollar, corporations have no choice but to respond accordingly. Continue supporting businesses that provide organic, local, and GMO-free products and urge local stores to carry more of these options.

Source Article from http://www.nationofchange.org/target-remove-gmos-major-food-brand-1371568029

Congressman Calls for New Birther Investigation, Questions ‘The President’s Validity’

Another Republican is accusing President Obama of secretly being a Kenyan man who forged his birth certificate in order to get elected President of the United States. This time the theorist is Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), chairman of the House Homeland Security Oversight Subcommittee.

Duncan appeared on the radio program TruNews with Rick Wiles on Friday where the host asked the South Carolina congressman whether the House would go after Obama’s “phony identification papers.” Duncan initially demurred, but then agreed with Wiles that Obama could be lying about his birth certificate, calling for Congress to “revisit” the issue of “the president’s validity.”

WILES: While you guys are rounding up and deporting the illegal immigrants, any chance the House may actually pursue Barack Obama’s phony identification papers? That’s the original scandal, congressman.

DUNCAN: People should have voted against him in November. I’m afraid that that wouldn’t get to the Supreme Court where it ought to get.

WILES: But if we know they’re lying about all these other things, why not go back and say, “well maybe the first scandal was a lie, too?”

DUNCAN: There you go. I’m all with you. Let’s go back and revisit some of these things because Americans have questions about not only the IRS scandal but also about the president’s validity.

Watch it:

Other prominent Republican birthers include Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), and Reps. Steve King (R-IA), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Mike Coffman (R-CO), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).

At this point, the birther conspiracy is so thoroughly debunked that Republicans could accuse Obama of secretly being a Snorlax and it would be no less credible than accusing him of being a modern-day Manchurian candidate.

In his three years in Congress, Duncan has developed a reputation for controversial statements. He has invoked other conspiracy theories peddled on websites like the Drudge Report, falsely claimed that he didn’t vote to extend big oil subsidies, and warned that background checks will lead to Rwandan-like genocide in the United States.

Source Article from http://www.nationofchange.org/congressman-calls-new-birther-investigation-questions-president-s-validity-1371567485

Clive Palmer’s nickel firm drops Townsville basketball sponsorship


June 19, 2013 15:15:46

The Townsville Fire basketball team says it is urgently seeking a major sponsor after losing the support of Clive Palmer’s business, Queensland Nickel.

The north Queensland side placed second in the competition last season.

The team says Queensland Nickel indicated it was happy with the Fire’s performance, but has been forced to cut sponsorship due to internal circumstances.


First posted

June 19, 2013 15:04:03

Source Article from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-19/clive-palmers-nickel-firm-drops-basketball-sponsorship/4766066

Millions spent as revival of Muja power station stalls


June 19, 2013 15:02:17

The State Opposition is calling on the government to explain why it has spent $250 million on a failed attempt to revive the mothballed Muja power station.

In 2009, the government announced the private sector would pay to refurbish the ageing coal-fired station, by December 2011.

Four years on, the facility still is not fully operational and Labor says it is taxpayers, not the private sector, who now face a $250 million bill.

The Opposition Leader Mark McGowan says the government has serious questions to answer.

“We need to get to the bottom of how what was supposed to be a free development for the taxpayers put in place by the private sector, now looks like costing taxpayers $250 million without an operational power station as a consequence,” he said.

“How can that massive waste of money have taken place?”

The Energy Minister Mike Nahan has conceded the original plan was for the private sector to foot the bill as part of a joint venture with state-owned corporation Verve Energy.

But, he says the private company involved was unable to cover ballooning project costs and the venture is not working.

“It is collapsing yes, it hasn’t proven to work out and when we make the final decision I will make a full public comment on the history, costing and problems with the joint venture,” he said.


Source Article from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-19/revival-of-muja-power-station-stalls/4766064

Legionnaires’ probe looks at past case

Townsville soldiers cautioned over sexist Facebook posts

Townsville soldiers cautioned over sexist Facebook posts

An entire Australian Army brigade has been warned over its use of social media as the Australian Defence Force continues its investigation into two Facebook pages that demean women. Read more

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Ex-WA premier faces insider trading trial

Townsville soldiers cautioned over sexist Facebook posts

Townsville soldiers cautioned over sexist Facebook posts

An entire Australian Army brigade has been warned over its use of social media as the Australian Defence Force continues its investigation into two Facebook pages that demean women. Read more

Source Article from http://sbs.feedsportal.com/c/34692/f/637524/s/2d7a9fc3/l/0L0Ssbs0N0Bau0Cnews0Carticle0C17799930CEx0EWA0Epremier0Efaces0Einsider0Etrading0Etrial/story01.htm

Socceroos celebrate with fans in Sydney

The triumphant Socceroos have celebrated booking a place in next year’s World Cup in Brazil with hundreds of fans in Sydney on Wednesday.

Peter Allen’s famous tune I Go to Rio rang through the crowd as the players were feted at a public reception outside Customs House in Circular Quay.

The 1-0 win over Iraq in front of over 80,000 fans at ANZ Stadium the previous night was enough to book Australia a ticket to next year’s showpiece.

Less than 24 hours after Josh Kennedy’s goal in the dying minutes secured Australia their third successive World Cup berth, the striker admitted he had yet to take in the magnitude of his match-winning header.

“It’s starting to sink in,” he said with a beaming smile.

“The game was positioned perfectly for me, coming on with 10 minutes to go.

“I didn’t get much sleep last night, but hopefully spending a few days with friends and family will start to make it feel real.”

Striker Tim Cahill, who was controversially taken off for Kennedy with 13 minutes remaining, thanked the crowd and stayed on to sign hundreds of autographs.

“It’s just fantastic, and we want to say thank you to everyone who came at such short notice, it means a lot,” said Cahill.

Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop expressed the enormity of the achievement.

“This is the thing that other countries want to be part of,” he said.

“This is important for Australian football. This is important for Australian sport. This is important for our nation.

“There are 200 countries that aspire to make the World Cup but only 32 get there.”

Even coach Holger Osieck, whose gutsy decision to take off Cahill proved a masterstroke, was all smiles.

“I’m very happy for you guys,” he told the fans.

“You’re great supporters and we’ll make you proud for sure.”

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Michelle de Kretser wins Miles Franklin

Townsville soldiers cautioned over sexist Facebook posts

Townsville soldiers cautioned over sexist Facebook posts

An entire Australian Army brigade has been warned over its use of social media as the Australian Defence Force continues its investigation into two Facebook pages that demean women. Read more

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New refugees numbers rising: UNHCR

Almost 650,000 refugees fled Syria’s civil war in 2012 – the largest exodus of people in a year since the Kosovo war.

And without a resolution to the conflict soon, that number could double by the end of the year, UN High Commissioner for Refugees regional representative Richard Towle says.

New figures from the UNHCR show an extra 7.6 million people were displaced globally in 2012, including 1.1 million new refugees, mainly due to conflicts or persecution.

By the end of 2012, there were 45.2 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, of which 15.4 million were refugees.

Mr Towle says Syria’s civil war forced 647,000 to seek refuge in neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Jordan.

That’s the highest number of new arrivals in a single year since 1999, at the height of Balkans crisis.

“Unless some serious peace resolution takes place in the next coming month, we could see a doubling of that figure by the end of the year,” Mr Towle told AAP.

Of the 88,600 refugees resettled in 2012, Australia took 5,900 while the United States, which resettled the most refugees by far, accepted 66,300.

An average of 23,000 people were forced to leave their homes and seek protection every day in 2012.

But most of those people turned to developing countries, who hosted over 80 per cent of the world’s refugees.

Pakistan was host to the largest number of refugees worldwide, with 1.6 million people, followed by Iran, who hosted more than 850,000 refugees.

“It’s difficult for them to look after their own community let alone help out millions of people over their borders and yet they do it,” Mr Towle said.

He said it was paradoxical that the issue of asylum seekers was so hotly debated in Australia, considering the relatively low number of boat arrivals.

Source Article from http://sbs.feedsportal.com/c/34692/f/637524/s/2d7a9025/l/0L0Ssbs0N0Bau0Cnews0Carticle0C17798890CNew0Erefugees0Enumbers0Erising0EUNHCR/story01.htm