Saturday, December 20, 2014

CONYERS & 76 CONGRESSIONAL COLLEAGUES SEND LETTER TO UN URGING DUE PROCESS FOR HAITIAN CHOLERA VICTIMS



DETROIT - Today, Congressman John Conyers Jr. (MI-13) and 76 Members of Congress sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, urging UN authorities to ensure that victims of the cholera epidemic in Haiti have access to a fair and impartial procedure for adjudication of their claims.
Scientific evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that the UN introduced cholera to Haiti in October 2010 through improper waste disposal on a base located on the banks of a tributary to the Artibonite River.  To date, more than 8,500 Haitians have died from the disease and over 700,000 people have been infected, becoming the largest single-country cholera epidemic in the world.
In July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Haiti and acknowledged the UN’s “moral responsibility” to respond, but no major actions have been taken with regard to the cholera crisis since that time.   
“Haiti’s cholera crisis has been a stain on the world’s conscience,” said Rep. Conyers.  “We are united in working to ensure that the United Nations upholds its obligations to provide a fair process to adjudicate claims by individuals harmed in the course of its operations.” Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

CONYERS & GOODLATTE: WE CANNOT ALLOW FOREIGN DICTATORS TO THREATEN OUR FREEDOMS

John Conyers, Jr.
WASHINGTON – Today,  House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Chairman Bob Goodlatte ( R-Va.) released the following joint statement after the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that North Korea is responsible for the Sony cyber-attack:

“We are deeply concerned that our suspicions were confirmed today by the FBI that North Korea is behind the attack on Sony Pictures and the associated threats of physical harm against U.S. citizens.  We will not allow terrorists or a narcissistic dictator to dictate what products can or cannot be created and distributed in America.  Whether or not we like the plot, production, or tone of The Interview, every American has a stake in ensuring that our collective freedom of speech is not abridged by either our own government or a foreign government.

“The United States must stand firm against this type of aggression against our freedom of speech.  Otherwise, these actions will have a chilling effect on creative works in the future and will embolden North Korea and other copycats to act again to further curtail books, television and cable shows, newspapers, blogs, and web sites.  Our national response to this threat must be clear and unequivocal.  As the committee with jurisdiction over the Justice Department and FBI, we will continue to monitor this investigation and support efforts by the U.S. to thwart these intrusive attacks.”

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CONYERS APPLAUDS PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR SECURING RELEASE OF ALAN GROSS AND INITIATING REESTABLISHMENT OF RELATIONS WITH CUBA

DETROIT – Today, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) issued the following statement after President Obama announced the release of an American prisoner, Alan Gross, from Cuba and that the United States will pursue diplomatic relations with the country:

John Conyers, Jr.
“President Obama has demonstrated real leadership in securing the release of American Alan Gross and initiating the reestablishment of normal diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba.  

“For more than half a century, our country’s policy of isolation toward Cuba has failed to promote democracy or prosperity for the Cuban people.  The policy has separated families, obstructed trade, and undermined US influence in the Western Hemisphere. 

“Today’s announcement from President Obama is a historic step in the right direction.  In moving toward normal diplomatic relations, empowering the Cuban people economically through greater access to remittances and exports, authorizing additional travel, and initiating other steps to reintegrate Cuba into the community of nations, President Obama is laying the groundwork for substantial economic development and progress on human rights.    

“This announcement is also good news for the US economy.  Cuba sits just 90 miles off our coast and has an economy of more than $68 billion.  Yet, up to this point, American firms have been forced to cede business to foreign competitors.  Of particular interest to my hometown of Detroit, the people of Cuba—who must famously rely on American cars made before 1959—may soon be able to buy American cars and automotive parts once again. 
“As a longtime advocate of normalized relations with Cuba, I look forward to working with President Obama to fully implement the policy initiatives announced today.  I commend the President for heeding the wise advice of Pope Francis and other human rights leaders in making today’s compassionate, commonsense decision.  After more than 50 years of failed policy, it’s time that we changed course.”
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John Conyers Jr.: How Congress can address our racial outrage

By John Conyers, Jr.

John Conyers, Jr.
Nearly 50 years ago, the Kerner Commission, which was created in the aftermath of the country’s 1967 riots, warned that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.” And now, six years after the election of our first African American president, we still find ourselves riven by racial distrust and fear. The string of deaths of unarmed blacks by police officers in Cleveland, Phoenix, New York and Ferguson, Mo., challenge not only the strength of our criminal and social justice systems but also the credibility and legitimacy of our political system.

In 1965, when I came to Congress, I joined a legislative body that was still able to work together at times of national crisis. The first major bill I voted on, the Voting Rights Act, was a response to widespread outrage over the police reaction to the “Bloody Sunday” protests, including the beatings in Selma, Ala. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) and his Republican counterpart, Everett Dirksen (Ill.), introduced the bill, and the final legislation enjoyed more support from Republican than Democratic members, an almost unthinkable dynamic today.

Even after the divisive impact of the so-called “Gingrich Revolution” when Congress was truly tested, we were able to rise to the occasion. In 1996, in the midst of a wave of arsons targeting African American houses of worship, then-Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde, a stalwart Republican from Illinois, asked me to work with him on a legislative response. We disagreed on most of the major social issues of the day, from abortion to affirmative action. However, during this crisis we found a way to introduce and pass the Church Arson Prevention Act, which not only gave law enforcement needed prosecutorial tools but also sent a loud and clear signal to the minority community that Congress was willing and able to act.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

CONYERS REMAINS CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC AS DETROIT EMERGES FROM BANKRUPTCY


WASHINGTON -  Today, Rep. John Conyers, Jr.  (MI-13) issued the following the statement concerning the City of Detroit emerging from bankruptcy:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“I believe all stakeholders – citizens, elected officials, organized labor, clergy, and the private sector – need to continue to work collaboratively to help Detroit grow and prosper in the 21st Century.  We know that Detroit’s potential is unlimited, and I look forward to working every day to improve our great City.

“It is disturbing that the bankruptcy court established a very dangerous precedent last year by holding that pensions and retiree benefits can be diminished in bankruptcy, notwithstanding the clear statement in the Michigan constitution.  We should not subvert the very principle that made Detroit great – respect for workers’ rights.  Putting the pensions of our police officers, firefighters, and other municipal workers on the chopping block repudiated not only the State law, but our City’s working class history and heritage.  Although in the end a compromise was achieved to resolve this case, I fear that the precedent could be used in other cases to the disadvantage of hard working public employees.  That is why I have introduced legislation, the “Protecting Employees and Retirees in Municipal Bankruptcies Act of 2014” (H.R. 5133), to respond to this problem.

“With the resignation of emergency manager Kevin Orr, Detroit will be returning day-to-day control to its duly elected leaders, although subject to continued state oversight.  Non-elected emergency managers should not run Detroit, nor any other city or political subdivision as it is anti-democratic and inconsistent with our principles as a city, state, nation.

“Now that the City has emerged from bankruptcy, Congress and the Judiciary Committee should hold hearings concerning the largest municipal bankruptcy in history and consider the ramifications for other financially troubled cities in the future.”
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CONYERS: GOVERNMENT SPENDING DEAL IS A GIVEAWAY TO WALL STREET AND AN AFFRONT TO DEMOCRACY


WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) released the following statement in advance of the vote on the temporary government funding spending bill – also known as the “CRomnibus” - a combined Continuing Resolution and Omnibus spending package:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“America urgently needs investments in job-creation, rising wages, infrastructure upgrades, education, healthcare, and environmental protection.  Sadly, the government funding bill—known as the ‘CRomnibus’ —disinvests from these priorities while rolling back essential financial protections, weakening campaign finance laws, and flouting the will of voters. If this bill stands as it is now, I have no alternative but to oppose it.  

“The ‘CRomnibus’ includes a provision that allows Wall Street banks to engage in some of the same high-risk conduct that caused the 2008 financial crisis.  The Republicans’ refusal, under the bill, to fund the Department of Homeland Security will set the stage for another government shutdown while undermining the President’s efforts to set priorities for immigration enforcement.  Another last-minute provision added by the GOP would intensify the corrupting influence of big money in politics by increasing tenfold the limit on an individual’s maximum contribution to a national political party. 

“The ‘CRomnibus’ is about enriching Wall Street cronies, not prudently funding the government.  It is simply unbelievable that six years after taxpayers were forced to bailout Wall Street, this measure makes F.D.I.C. bailouts automatic.

“If Congressional Republicans wish to pass legislation to undo financial reform and flood politics with big money, they should have the courage to debate these measures in the light of day.  Instead, they have opted to surreptitiously insert them in the annual spending bill just as the nation approaches a government shutdown deadline.  I urge my colleagues to defeat the ‘CRomnibus’ and pass a funding measure that upholds Americans’ real priorities and respects the democratic process.”  
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SENIOR HOUSE JUDICIARY DEMOCRATS OUTRAGED BY TORTURE REPORT, CALL FOR HEARINGS



WASHINGTON - Today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a redacted summary of its 6,000-page report on the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency.  The report concludes that the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques in the years following the attacks of September 11, 2001 did not effectively assist the agency in acquiring intelligence or in gaining cooperation from detainees.  The report also shows that the CIA worked to undermine oversight of its Detention and Interrogation Program, actively misleading the Congress, the Department of Justice, and the White House.  In reaction to the report, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr., Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) released the following joint statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“We are outraged by the actions described in this report.  In the name of the United States, the CIA directed the torture of detainees in our custody, twisted the law to justify its torture program, and engaged in a prolonged campaign to frustrate congressional oversight and accountability of any sort. 

“This report clears up any remaining ambiguity about the differences between torture and so-called ‘enhanced interrogation.’  As federal law defines the term, and as the Office of Legal Counsel within the Department of Justice have interpreted that statute since January 22, 2009, the CIA engaged in ‘torture.’

“Torture is ineffective.  Torture does not yield actionable intelligence.  Torture is a crime under federal law and international convention.  Torture is an affront to American values that date back to George Washington’s command of the Continental Army.  Torture is wrong.  In their zeal to protect the country, the officials responsible for the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program betrayed the principles at our country’s core.

“There has already been some suggestion that it is wrong to release this report at this time, given our exposure in the world.  There will never be a convenient moment for the government to confront the sins of its past.  We are fortunate, indeed, to be citizens of a democracy that is able and willing to engage in the hard work of acknowledging these actions, and to take the steps necessary to ensure that it never happens again.

“But let us be clear: if there is backlash over this report, at home or overseas, the fault lies, not with the decision to discuss torture, but with the decision to torture in the first place.

“Because this report outlines government policy that violates both criminal law and constitutional values, we urge Chairman Goodlatte to hold hearings in the Judiciary Committee on the CIA’s torture program as soon as the new Congress convenes.  These hearings should be held in public, to the extent possible.  An open discussion of these policies is long past due.

“We continue to be reflect on the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who in 1963 reminded us:

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.  Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.”
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