Daniel McGowan, Put in an Extreme Prison Isolation Unit for Writing Things, Loses Lawsuit Against Bureau of Prisons

Photo courtesy of Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan
A New York environmental activist stuck in an extreme isolation unit for writing letters and publishing articles -- and then re-jailed for writing about being put in that isolation unit in the first place -- has had his lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons dismissed, a development he calls "gross and unjust."

We've written before about Daniel McGowan, a 39-year-old environmental activist from Rockaway Beach, Queens who was once affiliated with the Earth Liberation Front, a group he says he left in the summer of 2001. He spent five and a half years in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, convicted of arson and conspiracy to commit arson, for trying to burn down two Oregon lumber yards in 2001, actions for which the ELF as a group claimed responsibility.

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Daniel McGowan Forbidden From Publishing Articles Without Permission

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Daniel McGowan has been forbidden from publishing anything without the permission of the Bureau of Prisons.
After more than seven years, the stack of dehumanizing and seemingly unconstitutional interactions between Daniel McGowan and the American prison system is now piled so high it is teetering over into a recursive mess of bleak and Kafkaesque absurdity.

Last Monday, McGowan published a piece on the Huffington Post that laid out much of his situation to date. After years in prison for his role in environmentally motivated property destruction that was prosecuted as acts of terrorism, he wrote, he was finishing up the remaining months of his sentence in a halfway house in Brooklyn.

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Bradley Manning Offers to Plead to Lesser Charges in Wikileaks Trial

U.S. Army
Pfc. Bradley Manning pleaded guilty to some charges in military court this morning.
After 1,007 days in jail, Private First Class Bradley Manning, the 25-year-old soldier accused of leaking classified material to Wikileaks, appeared in military court at Fort Meade today to plead guilty to modified versions of some of the more minor charges against him.

Specifically, Manning admitted to leaking State Department cables, video that appears to show the killing of civilians by a helicopter gunship in Iraq, and the secret assessment files of Guantanamo detainees.

But Manning maintained his not-guilty plea to the most significant charges, including "aiding the enemy." He told the court he chose the leaked material because he believed that while it would be embarrassing for the United States government and might provoke policy changes, he "was absolutely sure [they] wouldn't cause harm to the United States"

Manning was allowed to read a 35-page statement to the court, in which he said that nobody from Wikileaks pressured him to leak the materials. In fact, before he turned to Wikileaks, he tried to interest press outlets including the New York Times, Reuters, the Washington Post, and Politico.

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Alan Dershowitz to Brooklyn College: Academic Freedom For Me But Not For Thee

Categories: Free Speech

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It has become a safe assumption that otherwise liberal and open-minded New York politicians will make an exception for Israel. Case in point: 10 members of the New York City Council have declared that they support academic freedom, just not the freedom of public universities to host events that do not toe the party line on the Middle East.

Don't take our word for it, this comes from the Councilmembers themselves. Just look at the letter they sent last week to President Karen L. Gould of Brooklyn College.

But first, a little backstory. When word got out that Brooklyn College's Political Science Department was hosting an event on February 7 with a pair of guest speakers representing the "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions," (B.D.S.), anti-Israel movement, New York's elected representatives flew into their predictable rage. The crusade on the City Council is being led by Assistant Majority Leader Lewis Fidler.

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LGBT Center's Cindi Creager Admits 'Just' Blocking Journalist From Facebook Wall (and Other Things We Learned On a Surprise Visit)

Cindi Creager, the Center's spokeswoman, is no fan of speaking to the press!
As we began to delve into the depressing implosion of the Bronx Pride Center, which closed after former head Lisa Winters was charged with embezzling $338,000, we remembered how easy it is for non-profits lacking proper oversight (gay and straight) to do grave harm to their communities.

So, we decided to step things up with our coverage of the city's main LGBT Center, which doesn't have public board meetings, hasn't answered a questions of ours in a year, and recently blocked people from commenting on their Facebook wall.

Actually, it seems, they only block the Voice from commenting on their Facebook wall, something we had to show up in the office of their communications person, Cindi Creager, to discover. (And let us tell you, the spokeswoman was none to pleased to have to speak to an actual member of press.)

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LGBT Center Shuts Off Facebook Comments to Avoid Questions from the Voice as Bronx Pride Center Closes in Scandal [UPDATED]

via LGBT press page
Glennda Testone: why won't the LGBT Center's leader speak to the press?

Update: Turns out others can comment on the Center's Facebook wall -- they've "just" blocked a journalist, to keep any questions from being asked!

Something very strange is happening on 13th Street at the LGBT Center. As a scourge is affecting LGBT organizations -- the Bronx Pride Center shut down yesterday, amid charges its director, Lisa Winters embezzled $338,000 -- the city's main LGBT Center refuses to speak to the press.

As we wrote in last week's Voice feature "Does 'Gay Inc.' Believe in Free Speech?" the Center clamped down a year ago and refused to allow any discussion of the Israel/Palestine situation. This flies in the face of decades of queer people being able to discuss the important issues of the day on a variety of gay-specific and non-specific topics.

But just as disturbingly to us (for obviously personal reasons) is that the Center refuses to speak to the Voice about anything, or to answer any questions from press as far as we can tell. This could be because of critical things we've said about Executive Director Glennda Testone and her leadership (or lack thereof) over free speech at the Center.

But the Center does get a huge amount of public money (about $2.75 million a year, according to the most recent publicly available tax filings), and Testone is paid a little more than Governor Andrew Cuomo (we'll have more about this in the coming days), so we think it's entirely appropriate she and her paid, full-time spokeswoman would take questions from the press (or at least from the Voice, the first paper to cover Stonewall and a major publication in the neighborhood where the Center resides). The Center has refused to speak to us for a year, but as the Bronx burns with its Pride Center shuttering due to financial matters involving its leader, it's imperative that the partially publicly funded LGBT Center answer questions.

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Will GLAAD Condemn Dan Savage for His "House Faggots" Tweet?

In this week's feature in the Voice Pride Issue "Does 'Gay Inc.' Believe in Free Speech?" we take a long look at GLAAD, the self-described "PR firm for the LGBT community."

Since the story was published Tuesday afternoon, a few events have happened as if on cue (one nationally, the others on a much smaller scale involving us personally) which made us wonder how GLAAD would deal with satire today.

The most recent and famous incident was when Dan Savage tweeted this yesterday, in reference to the gay Republican group GOProud endorsing Mitt Romney:

What, we immediately had to think, will GLAAD have to say about this?

It's not just that GLAAD has a 25 year history of policing what the media should and shouldn't say, but that they've left little room for even the satirical use of the word faggot itself.

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On the Eve of May Day, a Raft of Suits Against the NYPD Over Treatment of Protesters

Journalists, protesters, and their lawyers announcing a federal suit against the NYPD this morning.
There are fewer than 24 hours to go before Occupy Wall Street activists, unions, and immigrant groups launch a day-long series of protests that may well constitute some of the largest demonstrations in the city's recent history.

All indications are that the police are getting ready too: large groups of officers were seen drilling in riot gear on Randall's Island on Thursday, and sources have told the Voice's Graham Rayman that officers assigned to police the May Day protests have been ordered to bring "hats and bats."

Mayor Bloomberg had little to say when the Voice asked him about police tactics yesterday, but a swarm of new lawsuits is explicitly challenging the way the NYPD handles protesters.

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Gay Center Now Bans All Talk on Israel/Palestine

Reversing field once again, the LGBT Center has now banned all discussion of the explosive issue of Israel and Palestine on its premises.

The most recent flip-flop (a reversal of its previous reversal) came a week after a new group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid was allowed to meet at the Center to discuss plans to march in various Gay Pride parades this month. Predictably, gay pornographer and ardent Zionist Michael Lucas was not pleased, telling Gay City News that "this group has had their first and last meeting in the Center. If someone fucks with Israel, I fuck them back. And I usually win." He was right.

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Gay Center, in Reversal, to Allow Meeting Tonight on 'Israeli Apartheid' Protest Planning

​It looks like free political debate at the LGBT Center has won the day — for now.

A new group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, had applied to rent space for a planning meeting in the Center. The group is made up of many of the same people who were in Siege Busters Working Group, who were kicked out of the Center for planning a "Party to End [Israeli] Apartheid" and permanently banned from ever meeting there again when pro-Zionist porn impresario Michael Lucas complained.

The new group told the Voice earlier this week that they'd attempted to make a reservation at the Center, but did not believe it was going to be accepted, and they were planning to show up anyway to meet in the lobby if necessary. But as of yesterday, the Center granted the request, and they'll be meeting at 6:30 tonight. On the agenda will be the planning of marches against Israel's occupation of Palestine. The marches would be in the upcoming Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn Pride parades.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com / @steven_thrasher