Planning for Paris 2015
Join the Northern California Climate Mobilization
Join us to plan for a mass march and rally leading up to the Paris COP21* UN climate talks.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
7 pm – 9 pm at the Berkeley Unitarian Church
(Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists)
Connie Barbour Room, 1606 Bonita in Berkeley
(at Cedar and Bonita, between MLK, Jr and Shattuck)
Please join us for our next planning meeting aimed to coordinate a mass march and rally in Oakland from the Lake Merritt Amphitheater to Oakland City Hall on November 21st as a lead up to the Paris UN COP21 climate meeting (Nov 30 – Dec 11). We are a network that has grown and expanded from the groups who organized the Northern California People's Climate Rally in Oakland on September 21, 2014, in solidarity with the People's Climate March in New York. Our point of unity are on the reverse side. We need activists to join our committees: outreach, media/messaging, and logistics. And please reach out to your networks and invite other groups to this meeting to help build for climate action.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website: www.norcalclimatemob.net
*COP21 is the 21st "Conference of the Parties" held by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The conference objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.
Challenging climate catastrophe the Northern California Climate Mobilization demands:
-A global agreement to implement dramatic and rapid reduction in global warming pollution
-Keep fossil fuels in the ground!
-100 percent clean, safe, renewable energy!
-End all fracking, tar sands mining and pipelines, offshore drilling, arctic drilling.
-Stop expansion of the extractive economy. Wind, solar, geothermal power now.
-No coal exports or crude-by-rail bomb trains in Northern California.
These conditions are necessary to create:
● A world united to repair the ravages of climate change
Industrial countries and polluting corporations of the global north need to pay their ecological debt to society and to the global south by providing funding for developing countries and vulnerable communities worldwide to adapt to the impacts of climate change and convert to sustainable economies.
● A world with an economy that works for people and the planet
Billions of dollars for energy efficiency and conservation. We need a just transition to a sustainable, demilitarized economy based on renewable energy, clean transportation, and jobs for all at union wages. Convert water-wasting, polluting factory farms to sustainable organic agriculture. End corporate personhood; end "money equals free speech"; end billionaire purchase of elections.
● A demilitarized world with peace and social justice for everyone; where Black Lives Matter; where good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities belong to all
End all forms of oppression and discrimination. No to environmental racism and pollution of indigenous, low income, and frontline nations and communities. Respect all indigenous lands. No militarized police. No wars. No nuclear weapons or power. A true ecological approach must integrate questions of justice to protect biodiversity, honor all life on earth and lift all people out of poverty.
Starting this September, Rising Tide North America is calling for mass actions to shut down the economic and political systems threatening our survival.
Already, hundreds of thousands are streaming into the streets to fight back against climate chaos, capitalism and white supremacy.
This wave of resistance couldn't be more urgent. To stop climate chaos we need a phenomenal escalation in organizing, participation and tactical courage. We need a profound social transformation to uproot the institutions of capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and white supremacy, the systems that created the climate crisis. And we need to link arms with allies fighting for migrant justice, dignified work and pay, and an end to the criminalization and brutal policing of black and brown bodies.
We need to #FloodTheSystem.
In the lead up to the United Nations climate talks in Paris, in December, we will escalate local and regional resistance against systems that threaten our collective survival. Together, we will open alternative paths to the failing negotiations of political elites.
This is not another protest. It is a call for a massive economic and political intervention. It is a call to build the relationships needed to sustain our struggles for the long haul. To build popular power along the intersections of race, class, gender and ability. To collectively unleash our power and change everything.
The Story So Far
Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of people have flowed into the streets to fight back.
Fast food workers in over a hundred cities went on strike, with thousands arrested demanding $15 an hour and a union. Young people in Ferguson, protesting the murder of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, showed us the power of sustained action as they fought back against state violence for weeks, reinvigorating a national movement for Black liberation. Hundreds of thousands of climate activists marched at the People's Climate March in New York, and the next day Flood Wall Street shut down the heart of New York's financial district.
Across the country, and the world, powerful movements are using nonviolent direct action to to disrupt business as usual and demand lasting systemic change.
These moments show that broad mobilization and disruption are ways that we can transform our society. It is time we move beyond conventional strategies. Its time we connect across movements and #FloodTheSystem.
Rising Tide North America and its allies call on communities, networks, affinity groups and organizations across the continent to join together this Fall to rapidly escalate the pace and scale of the anti-capitalist climate justice movements.
We need to wash away the root causes of climate change -- capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and colonialism. These systems enable the domination of people and Earth. They place gains for the elite before the well being of our communities.
To build the scale of movements necessary to take on this challenge, we need everyone. Using sustained, coordinated direct action we can bring more people into a movement for radical social transformation than ever before.
The upcoming United Nations meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Paris (COP 21) at the end of the year provide us with an opportunity. Framed as climate negotiations they are really about capitalism and the corporate elites. We have an opportunity to focus the debate on capitalism itself as negotiators wedded to and benefiting from the status quo refuse to discuss the systems that drive the crisis. This is a natural moment to preemptively highlight community resistance and radical alternatives in advance of another colossal failure of international leadership. Through our combined action we can turn the failure of these critical talks into a moment in which the systemic nature of the crisis moves to the center and in which our movements begin to connect and collaborate.
In the past, the climate movement has repeatedly tried days of action and one-day marches. While these have built important relationships, they have not created the sustained movement swells we need. To lay the groundwork for exponential movement growth we are asking groups to convene Action Councils, like those forming in the Pacific Northwest, California, Montana, Northeast and elsewhere, with the intention of coming together to organize sustained actions beginning in late Summer, continuing through November and beyond.
With luck, waves of mobilizations breaking across the continent and world will build off each other to create a flood of resistance to fossil fuel extraction, capitalism and colonialism.
#FloodTheSystem invites the Rising Tide network, the larger climate justice movements, and other non-climate focused groups to create a flood of massive economic and political disruption of the systems that allow the climate and economic crisis to continue to escalate. This is not a simple call to action or day of action, it's a long-term process. We want to organize a series of actions that would:
- Build a more robust anti-capitalist movement that clearly defines climate change as a symptom of capitalism. Specifically, we hope to support and catalyze regional organizing networks and relationships to challenge extreme energy infrastructure and the systems of oppression that enable it.
- Build long term local, regional and continental networks that can continue to coordinate, build connections between movements, and escalate these fights in 2016 and beyond.
- Begin to work closely with other movements through the analysis of where our struggles intersect and through a commitment to anti-oppressive organizing practices.
- Share, implement and gain experience in innovative models of horizontal movement structures and mass democracy in organizing that will serve radical forces for the long haul.
- Create a flood of energy within regions that inspires others to join in with organic, spontaneous actions and organizing. Regional blocks of escalating action are already planned that will lead into, and play off, each other. More emerge everyday.
- Preemptively highlight community resistance and real alternatives to the fossil fuel economy ahead of the inevitable colossal failure by global elites at the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris.
#FloodTheSystem will organize and act according to the following principles.
- Anti-capitalism/colonialism/racism/patriarchy - We see the climate crisis as a symptom of hierarchical social systems based upon domination and exploitation of lands, and predominately people of color. Addressing the crisis at its roots means joining with and supporting those who are fighting for liberation from these and other oppressive systems, and for their replacement with relations based upon equity, mutual aid, and ecological stewardship.
- Grassroots Led, NGOs in Support Role - Non-profits and NGOs often function to co-opt and defuse resistance into reform-based avenues which are amenable to the social systems we are ultimately seeking to dismantle and replace. The priorities of this mobilization should be driven by groups grounded in and accountable to the communities most impacted by white supremacy, capitalism, and settler colonialism, with NGOs in a support role -- not the other way around.
- Community-Based Alternatives - Corporations, nation-states, and multilateral institutions like the United Nations are integral pillars upholding global capitalism and colonialism. We see alternatives to extreme energy and the climate crisis arising out of social struggles which challenge and seek to replace these institutions and their logics. However, we recognize that there may be important defensive struggles within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, such as fighting the expansion of carbon markets or advancing state recognition of Indigenous land rights.
Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence
Sign the Petition:
Urge Gov. Jerry Brown to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence. Cooper has always maintained his innocence of the 1983 quadruple murder of which he was convicted. In 2009, five federal judges signed a dissenting opinion warning that the State of California "may be about to execute an innocent man." Having exhausted his appeals in the US courts, Kevin Cooper's lawyers have turned to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to seek remedy for what they maintain is his wrongful conviction, and the inadequate trial representation, prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination which have marked the case. Amnesty International opposes all executions, unconditionally.
"The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." - Judge William A. Fletcher, 2009 dissenting opinion on Kevin Cooper's case
Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for more than thirty years.
In 1985, Cooper was convicted of the murder of a family and their house guest in Chino Hills. Sentenced to death, Cooper's trial took place in an atmosphere of racial hatred — for example, an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the N*****!" was hung outside the venue of his preliminary hearing.
Take action to see that Kevin Cooper's death sentence is commuted immediately.
Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.
Following his trial, five federal judges said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing."
Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.
Tell California authorities: The death penalty carries the risk of irrevocable error. Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted.
In 2009, Cooper came just eight hours shy of being executed for a crime that he may not have committed. Stand with me today in reminding the state of California that the death penalty is irreversible — Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted immediately.
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
Amnesty International USA
Death Row StoriesKevin Cooper's case will be the subject of a new episode of CNN's "Death Row Stories" airing on Sunday, July 26 at 7 p.m. PDT. The program will be repeated at 10 p.m. PDT. The episode, created by executive producers Robert Redford and Alex Gibney, will explore how Kevin Cooper was framed by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney.Viewers on the east coast can see the program at 10 p.m. EDT and it will be rebroadcast at 1 a.m. EDT on July 27. Viewers in the Central Time zone can see it at 9 p.m. and midnight CDT. Viewers in the Mountain Time zone can see it at 8 p.m. and ll p.m MDT. It will be aired on CNN again during the following week and will also be able to be viewed on CNN's "Death Row Stories" website.
Kevin Cooper: An Innocent Victim of Racist Frame-Up
- from the Fact Sheet at: www.freekevincooper.org
Kevin Cooper is an African-American man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 for the gruesome murders of a white family in Chino Hills, California: Doug and Peggy Ryen and their daughter Jessica and their house- guest Christopher Hughes. The Ryens' 8 year old son Josh, also attacked, was left for dead but survived.
Convicted in an atmosphere of racial hatred in San Bernardino County CA, Kevin Cooper remains under a threat of imminent execution in San Quentin. He has never received a fair hearing on his claim of innocence. In a dissenting opinion in 2009, five federal judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals signed a 82 page dissenting opinion that begins: "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." 565 F.3d 581.
There is significant evidence that exonerates Mr. Cooper and points toward other suspects:
The coroner who investigated the Ryen murders concluded that the murders took four minutes at most and that the murder weapons were a hatchet, a long knife, an ice pick and perhaps a second knife. How could a single person, in four or fewer minutes, wield three or four weapons, and inflict over 140 wounds on five people, two of whom were adults (including a 200 pound ex-marine) who had loaded weapons near their bedsides?
The sole surviving victim of the murders, Josh Ryen, told police and hospital staff within hours of the murders that the culprits were "three white men." Josh Ryen repeated this statement in the days following the crimes. When he twice saw Mr. Cooper's picture on TV as the suspected attacker, Josh Ryen said "that's not the man who did it."
Josh Ryen's description of the killers was corroborated by two witnesses who were driving near the Ryens' home the night of the murders. They reported seeing three white men in a station wagon matching the description of the Ryens' car speeding away from the direction of the Ryens' home.
These descriptions were corroborated by testimony of several employees and patrons of a bar close to the Ryens' home, who saw three white men enter the bar around midnight the night of the murders, two of whom were covered in blood, and one of whom was wearing coveralls.
The identity of the real killers was further corroborated by a woman who, shortly after the murders were discovered, alerted the sheriff's department that her boyfriend, a convicted murderer, left blood-spattered coveralls at her home the night of the murders. She also reported that her boyfriend had been wearing a tan t-shirt matching a tan t-shirt with Doug Ryen's blood on it recovered near the bar. She also reported that her boyfriend owned a hatchet matching the one recovered near the scene of the crime, which she noted was missing in the days following the murders; it never reappeared; further, her sister saw that boyfriend and two other white men in a vehicle that could have been the Ryens' car on the night of the murders.
Lacking a motive to ascribe to Mr. Cooper for the crimes, the prosecution claimed that Mr. Cooper, who had earlier walked away from custody at a minimum security prison, stole the Ryens' car to escape to Mexico. But the Ryens had left the keys in both their cars (which were parked in the driveway), so there was no need to kill them to steal their car. The prosecution also claimed that Mr. Cooper needed money, but money and credit cards were found untouched and in plain sight at the murder scene.
The jury in 1985 deliberated for seven days before finding Mr. Cooper guilty. One juror later said that if there had been one less piece of evidence, the jury would not have voted to convict.
The evidence the prosecution presented at trial tying Mr. Cooper to the crime scene has all been discredited… (Continue reading this document at: http://www.savekevincooper.org/_new_freekevincooperdotorg/TEST/Scripts/DataLibraries/upload/KC_FactSheet_2014.pdf)
This message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. July 2015
Free Albert Woodfox!
On June 8, 2015 a federal judge granted Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox unconditional release. Albert's conviction had already been overturned three times - most recently in 2013 - yet every time the state has appealed.
Today, Albert is still behind bars after spending four decades in cruel, unjust solitary confinement. He believes that he and fellow prisoners, Herman Wallace and Robert King, were first placed in solitary confinement in retaliation for their activism. All three men were members of the Black Panther Party. Together, they came to be known as the Angola 3.
It is time for the State of Louisiana to stop standing in the way of justice. Call on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to ensure Albert's cruel and unjust confinement is not his legacy. Learn more
Amnesty for all those arrested demanding justice for Freddie Gray!
Amnesty for ALL those arrested
demanding justice for Freddie Gray!
Sign and distribute the petition to drop the charges!
Spread this effort with #Amnesty4Baltimore
"A riot is the language of the unheard"
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
An estimated 300 people have been arrested in Baltimore in the last two weeks. Many have been brutalized, beaten and pepper-sprayed by police in the streets, and held for days in inhumane conditions. Those arrested include journalists, medics and legal observers.
One individual arrested for property destruction of a police vehicle is now facing life in prison and is being held on $500,000 bail. That's $150,000 more than the officer charged with the murder of Freddie Gray.
The legal system has made it clear that they care more about broken windows than broken necks; more about a CVS than the lives of Baltimore's Black residents.
They showed no hesitation in arresting Baltimore's protesters and rebels, and sending in the National Guard, but took 19 days to put a single one of the killer cops in handcuffs. This was the outrageous double standard that led to the Baltimore Uprising.
Sign the petition to drop the charges on all who have been arrested.
Petition to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake
City Hall, Room 250,
100 North Holliday St.,
Baltimore, MD 21202
Dear Mayor Rawlings-Blake:
I stand in solidarity with those in Baltimore who are demanding that all charges be dropped against those who rose up against racism, police brutality, oppressive social conditions and delay of justice in the case of Freddie Gray. The whole world now recognizes that were it not for this powerful grassroots movement, in all its forms, there would be no indictment.
It is an outrage that peaceful protesters have been brutalized, beaten and pepper-sprayed by police in the streets, and held for days in inhumane conditions. Those arrested include journalists and legal observers.
Even the youth who are charged with property destruction and looting should be given an amnesty. There is no reason a teenager -- provoked by racists and justifiably angry -- should be facing life in prison for breaking the windows of a police car.
The City of Baltimore should work to rectify the conditions that led to this Uprising, rather than criminalizing those who took action in response to those conditions. Drop the charges now!
[add your name below]
CANCEL ALL STUDENT DEBT!
Sign the Petition:
Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:
Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt. Eighty-six percent of that money is owed to the United States government. This is a crushing burden for more than 40 million Americans and their families.
I urge you to take immediate action to forgive all student debt, public and private.
American Federation of Teachers
Campaign for America's Future
Democracy for America
RH Reality Check
Student Debt Crisis
Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
B. ARTICLES IN FULL
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
Stand with Major Tillery
Listen to Mumia tell this story. Major Tillery stood up to the prison administration: he confronted them in no uncertain terms, noting that Mumia must get to the hospital in time- before he dies. SCI Mahanory Superintendent Kerestes told Major to mind his own business, to which Major replied 'Mumia is my business'.
Please join us in standing in solidarity with Major Tillery, who has been transferred and put in solitary confinement as punishment for demanding that Mumia receive medical care.
Mumia Abu-Jamal Has Hepatitis C:
Demand Treatment Now!
Mumia Abu-Jamal has Hepatitis C-- and the prison is refusing treatment. We are going back to court to demand critical care, and we can't do it without you. Will you support Mumia getting immediate treatment by giving $250, $100 or even $25 today? Every gift and action makes the difference for Mumia getting the care he needs. Thank you, Noelle.
The time to act is now.
Five months after being rushed to the hospital, new medical tests show that Mumia has active Hepatitis C. But prison officials are refusing to treat him for it.
With your help, that changes- today.
Mumia Abu-Jamal remains weak, ill, and in the prison infirmary.
Five months after being admitted to the hospital with lethal blood sugar levels and in renal failure, he continues to have a debilitating skin rashes, open wounds and swelling across his lower extremities. Because of our relentless demands for medical testing and treatment, we finally know the likely cause of his severe ailments: Hepatitis C.
But what is news to us is not news to his jailers. Prison officials have known that Mumia was Hep. C positive since 2012-- and have done nothing.
Even now that prison doctors know that Mumia's Hep. C is active -from testing they performed solely because we demanded it- they are refusing to provide treatment.
Today, we are going back to court to demand justice for our brother.
Mumia's legal team (Bret Grote of Abolitionist Law Center and Robert Boyle of New York) is filing an amended lawsuit today, 'Abu-Jamal v. Kerestes', to include medical neglect and demand immediate treatment.
Meanwhile, Prison Radio is working tirelessly to make sure Mumia's legal and medical team have the necessary resources to get Mumia the critical care he needs.
And we can't do it without you.
We need your help today to ensure that the prison treats Mumia's Hepatitis C now!
The world came together for Mumia when he fell unconscious five months ago. Because of our international outcry for justice and the critical steps we took, Mumia is alive today.
Now, we need your help to get Mumia a treatment plan. Can you fight for Mumia's right to medical care by giving $100, $25 or $250 today?
Your donation will:
File an amended lawsuit 'Abu-Jamal v. Kerestes' to include medical neglect
Get Mumia a full Hepatitis C work up and treatment plan
Grant Mumia's consulting physicians access to directly examine Mumia
Fuel a public campaign to bring Mumia back to health
Support the demand for treatment of Hepatitis C for all Pennsylvania prisoners
Please join us in demanding immediate medical treatment by giving $25, $100 or even $1,000 now. Every gift and action matters.
I Demand Treatment NOW!
Luchando por la justicia y la libertad,
Director, Prison Radio
To give by check:
PO Box 411074
San Francisco, CA
Stock or legacy gifts:
(415) 706 - 5222
Prison Radio has recorded Mumia and other political prisoners for over 25 years, and we are pulling out all the stops to keep these voices on the air.
Please donate today to amplify prisoners' voices far and wide beyond the bars:
Support Prison Radio: prisonradio.org/donate
Defeat SB 508: bit.ly/defendfreespeech
Copyright © Prison Radio
Our mailing address is:
Prison Radio PO Box 411074, SF CA 94141
$35 is the yearly membership.
$50 will get you a beautiful tote bag (you can special order a yoga mat bag, just call us).
$100 will get the DVD "Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary"
$300 will bring one essay to the airwaves.
$1000 (or $88.83 per month) will make you a member of our Prison Radio Freedom Circle. Take a moment and Support Prison Radio
Luchando por la justicia y la libertad,
Noelle Hanrahan, Director, Prison Radio
P.O. Box 411074 San Francisco, CA 94141
The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Mobilizes Support Internationally:
No Execution by Medical Neglect!
International Unions Demand Decent Medical Treatment for Mumia Abu-Jamal
June 2, 2015
Mumia Abu-Jamal was recently sent back to prison after having been hospitalized for the second time. There are some reports that his health is improving. He said to Suzanne Ross of the International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal that "if there had not been an international outcry about the lack of appropriate treatment, in fact AGAINST the 'treatment' that was bringing him so close to death, he was sure he would not be alive today".
In some good news, he was also told by the prison doctor that his biopsy results came back negative.
However, neither Mumia nor his wife, lawyers or consulting doctors have been seen the actual medical reports detailing his condition. The Department of Corrections refuses to hand over his medical records, claiming that they don't have to hand them over because there is litigation to have them released! Denying Mumia and his family his medical records is an outrage!
We would like to inform you about some recent actions taken by unions around the world on behalf of Mumia.
- Unite, the largest union in the UK, representing over 1.4 million members, wrote letters to Governor Tom Wolf, Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel and Legal Counsel Theron Perez protesting Mumia's treatment.
- The International Dockworkers Council, representing 90,000 dockworkers from affiliated unions around the world, wrote an appeal to the labor movement calling for action on behalf of Mumia.
- The Inlandboatmen's Union of the Pacific sent a protest letter to Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel.
We hope that you will continue to take action on behalf of Mumia. Please call and email Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel and demand the following:
1) Mumia Abu-Jamal is an innocent man! He should be freed immediatel
2) Confirm what Mumia's medical condition is. Release his medical records to his family and lawyers!
3) Allow Mumia to be given medical treatment from a doctor of his choice. His doctor should be allowed to conduct an on-site medical examination, to communicate by phone with Mumia, and to communicate freely with prison medical staff.
4) Allow Mumia daily visits from his family, friends and lawyers!
5) Conduct an independent investigation of healthcare treatment inside the Pennsylvania prison system!DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, SECRETARY JOHN WETZEL 717 728 4109
Wetzel's secretary: email@example.com
We are also attaching a sample union resolution for you to use as a template. Please consider submitting it to your union and asking them to take action on behalf of Mumia. We would also be happy to work with you and make a presentation to your union or community group about his condition.
The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jam
Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson
Updates from the New "Team Free Lorenzo Johnson":
Thank you all for your relentless effort in the fight against wrongful convictions and your determination to stand behind Lorenzo.
To garner even more support for Lorenzo Johnson, we have been hard at work updating the website and developing an even more formidable and dedicated team. Please take a moment to visit the new site here.
During the month of July, Lorenzo wrote two new articles for The Huffington Post titled "When Prosecutors Deny Justice for the Innocent," and "Hurry Up and Wait for Justice: The Struggle of Innocent Prisoners." In these articles, Lorenzo discusses the flaws in the criminal justice system, which he deems is a "serious problem in this country."
Lastly, Lorenzo has a message to you all.
A Letter from Lorenzo:
July 23, 2015
Dauphin County Prison
I hope all is well with everyone and your families. As for myself, I'm still on my journey in pursuit of my vindication. Sorry for my website being shut down for a couple of weeks. It was being transferred to a new provider and management. I'm back and will do my best to keep everything up to speed with what's taking place.
I would like to thank ALL of my loyal supporters in the U.S. and in the MANY different counties that have signed on to support my innocence. Thanks for all of the letters, emails, photos, etc. Like I always say, I get energy to carry on and inspiration hearing form you, please stay engaged in my struggle.
As of this moment, nothing has changed, but – the continued delay tactics are constantly being used by my prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General William Stoycos. With the mounting of evidence that supports my innocence and police and prosecution misconduct claims that is steadily piling up, you would think that I would be having a couple of evidentiary hearings on my actual innocence appeal that have been pending since August 5, 2013.
At the time of this writing, I've been moved from SCI-Mahanoy to Dauphin County Prison and locked down for 23 hours and 40 minutes a day. In the 20 minutes I get to come out, I get to take a shower and make a short call. Prosecutor Stoycos had me moved so I can be a witness in his attempt to have my codefendant Corey Walker's attorney removed from representing him. How dare he call into question an attorney who is seeking justice for her client, when prosecutor Stoycos himself violated multiple constitutional rights of mine and Mr. Walker, that led to us being in prison for 20 years and counting.
Prosecutor Stoycos is continuously abusing his power and his endless resources he has at his disposal. He is not tough on crime, he's tough on Innocent Prisoners. Prosecutor Stoycos is doing everything in his power to prevent justice from taking place. I encourage everyone to continue to speak out against my nightmare, invite others to get involved by going to my website and signing my Freedom Petition and whatever else they're willing to do.
On a positive note, I just enrolled in warehouse management trade and started on July 13th. Unfortunately, you're only allowed to miss a couple of days and Prosecutor Stoycos had me temporarily transferred on July 14th … It's extremely hard on Lifers to get into these trades due to the fact that Lifers are placed at the back of the list of ALL vocational classes. I try to further my education every chance I get, so when I do come home, I will be certified in different work.
The month of the hearing has come and left, without me being brought to the courthouse … I'm one of MANY innocent prisoners who endures this non-stop madness in our pursuit of Justice and Freedom. Now that my webpage is almost caught up to speed, I promise prompt updates and as everyone knows that contacted me directly, I personally reply to those in the states and out of the country. For those who can make a financial contribution, everything counts. Take care and let's continue to fight until we achieve Freedom, Justice, and Equality for all innocent prisoners.
"The Pain Within"
Free the Innocent
Lorenzo "Cat" Johnson
[Note: Lorenzo has since been transferred back to SCI Mahanoy and can be reached at his usual address.]
Thank you all for reading this message and please take the time to visit the new website and contribute to Lorenzo's campaign for freedom!
Write: Lorenzo Johnson
301 Morea Rd.
Frackville, PA 17932
Email: Through JPay using the code:
Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC
Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com
Have a wonderful day!
- The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson
Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!
Click HERE to view in browser
On December 15, 2014 the Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan was thrown into prison for 2.5 to 10 years. This 66-year-old leading African American activist was tried and convicted in front of an all-white jury and racist white judge and prosecutor for supposedly altering 5 dates on a recall petition against the mayor of Benton Harbor.
The prosecutor, with the judge's approval, repeatedly told the jury "you don't need evidence to convict Mr. Pinkney." And ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE WAS EVER PRESENTED THAT TIED REV. PINKNEY TO THE 'ALTERED' PETITIONS. Rev. Pinkney was immediately led away in handcuffs and thrown into Jackson Prison.
This is an outrageous charge. It is an outrageous conviction. It is an even more outrageous sentence! It must be appealed.
With your help supporters need to raise $20,000 for Rev. Pinkney's appeal.
Checks can be made out to BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization). This is the organization founded by Rev. Pinkney. Mail them to: Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022.
Donations can be accepted on-line at bhbanco.org – press the donate button.
For information on the decade long campaign to destroy Rev. Pinkney go to bhbanco.org and workers.org(search "Pinkney").
We urge your support to the efforts to Free Rev. Pinkney!Ramsey Clark – Former U.S. attorney general,
Cynthia McKinney – Former member of U.S. Congress,
Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney
Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,
Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<
Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,
David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice
Sara Flounders – International Action Center
MESSAGE FROM REV. PINKNEY
I am now in Marquette prison over 15 hours from wife and family, sitting in prison for a crime that was never committed. Judge Schrock and Mike Sepic both admitted there was no evidence against me but now I sit in prison facing 30 months. Schrock actually stated that he wanted to make an example out of me. (to scare Benton Harbor residents even more...) ONLY IN AMERICA. I now have an army to help fight Berrien County. When I arrived at Jackson state prison on Dec. 15, I met several hundred people from Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. Some people recognized me. There was an outstanding amount of support given by the prison inmates. When I was transported to Marquette Prison it took 2 days. The prisoners knew who I was. One of the guards looked me up on the internet and said, "who would believe Berrien County is this racist."
Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney
Michigan political prisoner the Rev. Edward Pinkney is a victim of racist injustice. He was sentenced to 30 months to 10 years for supposedly changing the dates on 5 signatures on a petition to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower.
No material or circumstantial evidence was presented at the trial that would implicate Pinkney in the purported5 felonies. Many believe that Pinkney, a Berrien County activist and leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), is being punished by local authorities for opposing the corporate plans of Whirlpool Corp, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
In 2012, Pinkney and BANCO led an "Occupy the PGA [Professional Golfers' Association of America]" demonstration against a world-renowned golf tournament held at the newly created Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The course was carved out of Jean Klock Park, which had been donated to the city of Benton Harbor decades ago.
Berrien County officials were determined to defeat the recall campaign against Mayor Hightower, who opposed a program that would have taxed local corporations in order to create jobs and improve conditions in Benton Harbor, a majority African-American municipality. Like other Michigan cities, it has been devastated by widespread poverty and unemployment.
The Benton Harbor corporate power structure has used similar fraudulent charges to stop past efforts to recall or vote out of office the racist white officials, from mayor, judges, prosecutors in a majority Black city. Rev Pinkney who always quotes scripture, as many Christian ministers do, was even convicted for quoting scripture in a newspaper column. This outrageous conviction was overturned on appeal. We must do this again!
To sign the petition in support of the Rev. Edward Pinkney, log on to: tinyurl.com/ps4lwyn.
Contributions for Rev. Pinkney's defense can be sent to BANCO at Mrs Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Or you can donate on-line at bhbanco.org.
COURAGE TO RESIST
New Action--write letters to DoD officials requesting clemency for Chelsea!
Secretary of the Army John McHugh
President Obama has delegated review of Chelsea Manning's clemency appeal to individuals within the Department of Defense.
Please write them to express your support for heroic WikiLeaks' whistle-blower former US Army intelligence analyst PFC Chelsea Manning's release from military prison.
It is important that each of these authorities realize the wide support that Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning enjoys worldwide. They need to be reminded that millions understand that Manning is a political prisoner, imprisoned for following her conscience. While it is highly unlikely that any of these individuals would independently move to release Manning, a reduction in Manning's outrageous 35-year prison sentence is a possibility at this stage.
Take action TODAY – Write letters supporting Chelsea's clemency petition to the following DoD authorities:
Secretary of the Army John McHugh
101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0101
The Judge Advocate General
2200 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-2200
Army Clemency and Parole Board
251 18th St, Suite 385
Arlington, VA 22202-3532
Directorate of Inmate Administration
Attn: Boards Branch
U.S. Disciplinary Barracks
1301 N. Warehouse Road
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304
Suggestions for letters send to DoD officials:
The letter should focus on your support for Chelsea Manning, and especially why you believe justice will be served if Chelsea Manning's sentence is reduced. The letter should NOT be anti-military as this will be unlikely to help.
A suggested message: "Chelsea Manning has been punished enough for violating military regulations in the course of being true to her conscience. I urge you to use your authorityto reduce Pvt. Manning's sentence to time served." Beyond that general message, feel free to personalize the details as to why you believe Chelsea deserves clemency.
Consider composing your letter on personalized letterhead -you can create this yourself (here are templates and some tips for doing that).
A comment on this post will NOT be seen by DoD authorities–please send your letters to the addresses above
This clemency petition is separate from Chelsea Manning's upcoming appeal before the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals next year, where Manning's new attorney Nancy Hollander will have an opportunity to highlight the prosecution's—and the trial judge's—misconduct during last year's trial at Ft. Meade, Maryland.
Help us continue to cover 100% of Chelsea's legal fees at this critical stage!
Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave. #41
Oakland, CA 94610
B. ARTICLES IN FULL
1) Israel Launches 2nd Round of Airstrikes in Syria
2) Migrant Influx Prompts Macedonia, Britain and France to Increase Security
3) Seventeen Transgender Killings Contrast With Growing Visibility
4) Request for Grand Jury Records in Eric Garner Case Is Rejected
5)Dinner and Deception
Serving elaborate meals to the
super-rich left me feeling empty.
IT'S 4:25 p.m. I make my way through the kitchen, past the prep cooks, up to the locker room on the second floor. Getting dressed takes 10 minutes. That leaves 20 to get "family meal" before the porters break everything down. At 4:55, I'm ready. Lineup is in five minutes — "live at five." I double-check my uniform, an expensive-looking suit issued by the restaurant, before I join the rest of the wait staff downstairs.
Lineup is our final meeting before service. The managers report on menu changes and our ranking on the world's top restaurants list. Sometimes they test us. "Where did Chef get his first Michelin star?" "What kind of stone is the floor made of?" But tonight we just taste the new wine. A classic Burgundy: red fruit, rose petal, underripe cherry; med-high acid, soft tannins. It'll pair well with the pork.
The dining room has four "stations," each with six or seven tables overseen by a four-person service team — captain, sommelier, server and assistant server. As a captain, I'm in charge of my team. It took me eight months to get promoted to this job; some captains waited for years.
Six food runners also roam the floor, along with three managers. Two expediters — the "expos" — stay in the kitchen to decide when food leaves and where it goes. At most other three-Michelin-star restaurants in New York City, the system is much the same.
Doors open at 5:30. Tonight, the book says 152 covers. About 120 used to be normal, but the owners are opening a new place next month and need cash. So tonight it's 152. The service director calls this an "opportunity for more guests to experience the restaurant." But this is spin, and everyone knows it. Thirty-two more covers means we need to turn eight more tables, two more in my section, which means I'll be taking a cab home at 3 a.m., not 2.
My team is good. Not perfect, good. The sommelier knows his wine, but on busy nights gets buried fast. I can rely on my server. My assistant server is great. Every captain knows that an assistant server can make or break you. "Crumb, clear, water" — that's all an assistant server technically does, but a good one keeps things moving in your section.
First table gets seated at 5:31. I print and scan the chit, a digital dossier we keep on every guest, new or old. Who are these people? V.I.P.? ("Soigné" is the preferred term.) It's the first seating, so I know they're not, but I check anyway. Have they been here before? Do they have a water preference? Food allergies? Likes? Dislikes? Spend big on wine?
I announce my presence on the greet: a flourish, a hand gesture, a pressing of the palms, anything to signal that everyone at the table needs to pay attention, that I'll be dictating the pace of the experience tonight, not the other way around. "Good evening." Big smile. "Do you still prefer sparkling water? Or would you like something else this time?" The assistant server stands by the credenza next to the Champagne bucket, waiting. A slight wiggle of my fingers behind my back means bubbles; a slashing motion, still; a twist of the fist, ice water. Like magic, he appears with the correct selection. "May I take a moment to explain the menu?"
Captains compete for the briefest menu spiel possible. The key is to eliminate unnecessary choices; most people just want to be told what to do. At 5:35 I'm back at the table for the order. I memorize every guest's selection; writing things down would suggest a "transactional" relationship, something I want to avoid. Each guest should feel special. A minute later I dictate the orders to the server, who transcribes and then places them while I stay on the floor.
In an ideal service, the captain never leaves the floor. After that, it's all about table maintenance until I drop the check with some complimentary cognac in three or five hours, depending on whether they go four-course or tasting. I'll do this 13 more times tonight.
Marx might have called this kind of work "estranged labor," but the phrase isn't quite right. My experience working in fine dining was marked by hard, repetitive and often meaningless work. But it wasn't completely "estranging," not at first. To the contrary, I found that hard, repetitive work, however "estranged" in some abstract or theoretical sense, could be incredibly affirming. Executing the same tasks with machine-like precision over and over and over again, like one of Adam Smith's nail-cutters, offered a special kind of enjoyment. There was no reflection, no question about what my job required of me, and I could indulge, for hours, in the straightforward immediacy of action.
Next to a doorway leading into the dining room, a sign in the kitchen summed up the job in the form of a commandment: "Make it nice." Make it nice means you hold yourself accountable to every detail. It means everything in the restaurant must appear perfect — the position of the candle votives, the part in your hair. Everything matters.
Most of us internalized this mantra quickly. One of my first assignments as a food-runner was to polish glassware. I worked in a small alcove, connected to the dishwasher. Glass racks came out, I wiped away any watermarks or smudges, and then, just as I finished one rack, another appeared. This went on for hours, like some kind of Sisyphean fable revised for the hospitality industry. By hour two my fingers hurt and my back ached. But I couldn't stop. The racks kept coming. Slowing down never occurred to me. There wasn't time. I needed to make it nice. I wanted to make it nice.
I moved up the ranks quicker than most. Each promotion required a new but reassuringly mechanical set of skills. When setting food on a table, I learned to obey the maxim "raise right, lower left." My movements had to be perfectly synchronized with the other food-runners, our arms dropping together like weighted levers. To replace a tablecloth, I would smooth it out with an antique iron, reset the table with glassware, silver and charger plates, making sure the labels on each were squared-off and facing the guest, all in under three minutes. Another server suggested that I hum the theme to "The Bourne Identity" under my breath to stay motivated. I did, and he was right. It worked.
Duck came out on a special cart called a guéridon. Captains did the carving tableside. Slicing off the left breast was easy, but to get the right side required a little finesse. You couldn't turn the bird around, which felt natural to do, because the cavity could never face the guest. Chef decided this would be "unappealing." So you had to switch hands, carving ambidextrously. Regardless of your abilities wielding a knife with either hand, both breasts needed to be on the plate in less than a minute, before the kitchen sent out the sides. If you took longer you'd be caught finishing the job while some runner hovered awkwardly next to you with a tray full of saucepans and tweezers.
Acting out your role during service could be fun. You could play guessing games like "hooker or daughter." Or the "adjective game," where you competed to successfully sell a wine with the least helpful descriptors possible. "Haunted" was a good one. You learned to read people. I still remember the Chinese businessman at Table 43. He had two companions that night: a pair of young women whose skin looked oddly synthetic. Right away he ordered a bottle of 1990 Krug — a thousand dollars, like that.
"May I take a moment to explain the menu?"
"We want the tasting menu," he said.
The two women stared at their phones, indifferent to our exchange. They clearly weren't planning to eat anything.
"Sir, the tasting menu is a five-hour experience." I looked at him, then at the two women. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather spend some of your evening elsewhere?"He opted for four courses.
You experience a special rush when your job is to project an aura of warmth and hospitality while maintaining an almost clinical emotional distance. It's the thrill of the con. This pleasure in deception was suggested by another metaphor popular with upper management: lipstick on a pig. The key to fine dining, I was told by one manager, was to ensure that the guest never noticed the pig, only the lipstick. Guests wanted to believe the make-believe; they wanted to believe everything was perfect. But the moment someone noticed a minor imperfection — a smudge on the butter, a fingerprint on the fork — other imperfections would suddenly become noticeable, threatening the illusion we all worked to maintain.
In a playground for the superrich, I was an overpaid chaperone wearing a bespoke suit. Gluttony was common. So was sex; more than once we had to interrupt coitus in the restroom. Once a woman asked to leave her baby at the coat check. When the maître d' explained that dinner lasted at least three hours, she stared back at him, unfazed. "Yes, I know." Grown men wearing Zegna and Ferragamo would sit at the bar chanting, "We are the 1 percent!"
The nightly grotesquerie was almost exciting. But something happened after spending too many nights delivering four- or five-figure checks on silver trays. Estrangement did set in. I imagine pick-up artists experience something similar. You learn what people want from you, and, for a while, you get a high making all the right gestures: the perfectly timed joke, the wry smile. But, deep down, you feel nothing. Until something forces you back to reality again.
WHEN the guest falls, I'm standing at a credenza near the bar. It's lunch. The dining room is full. I don't see him go down, but he makes a loud, gasping sound before he hits the floor. We all know him. He's a regular. He's been to the restaurant maybe 150 times and always orders the same thing: double vodka on the rocks to start; first course lobster; second course duck; no dessert. Usually he comes with his wife, who freely complains about his diet. He tips well, and, like most regulars, he is generally considered to be a jerk. But now, as he's lying there, his skin turning a kind of grayish-white, it is impossible to feel anything for the man who has just had a stroke in the middle of our dining room except pity.
He is lying on the polished terrazzo floor, flat on his back. People are staring, not quite sure what to do, their thoughts clearly teetering between concern and that other more ugly thought — I waited three weeks for this reservation and this is ruining my experience. Everything leading up to this moment has been so carefully orchestrated: the timing of the courses, the neat folds of each napkin, the levels of every water glass. But not this. The normally composed servers are visibly shaken. How can anyone sanely elaborate on the virtues of left-bank Bordeaux next to a body?
Impossible, I think, so I turn to my manager and ask: "What should I do?" I assume somebody has called an ambulance. The manager has just finished hurrying to push a Champagne cart in front of the possibly dead man on the floor, a lame attempt to hide him from nearby diners. Nothing in the service manual can tell him how to answer my question. This isn't planned; the moment demands real empathy, real human understanding, and not the counterfeit variety he and I earn our living with.
"I'm going to go turn the music up," he says. "Just keep going."
So I do. I keep going, pouring wine, giving spiels on food and dropping handwritten checks until the paramedics arrive 10 minutes later. The manager comps the bill for those people seated near "the accident." No one else seems to mind.
The guest, I learned a few days later, survived. But he never returned to the restaurant. Neither did I, after I left a few months later to go to graduate school. In the end, "making it nice" for 80 hours a week left me feeling empty and tired. As the regular's wife used to say when he ordered his usual lunch, "eating like that is bad for you."
Edward Frame is a graduate student at the New School for Social Research.
If you are or have been a restaurant employee, share a behind-the-scenes story that you think would surprise customers, in the comments with this essay or on the Times Opinion Facebook page. Describe the establishment and your role — but no naming names! We may highlight your response in a follow-up to this piece.
6) One Year After War, People of Gaza Still Sit Among the Ruins
7) Migrants Rush Across Border in Macedonia
8) Judge Increases Pressure on U.S. to Release Migrant Families
9) Gaza, Gulag on the Mediterranean
10) History of Defiance Preceded Palestinian's 2-Month Hunger Strike
11) Book club's removal from Napa Wine train triggers social media firestorrm
By Debora Villalon
August 24, 2015
NAPA, Calif. (KTVU) -- A wine country outing turned sour in a big way for a book club booted off the Napa Wine Train, a group told they were too noisy and disruptive.
The eleven women, all but one African American, say race played a role, and their story has inspired the twitter hashtag "LaughingWhileBlack."
The popular tourist attraction offers dining and wine-tasting on an eighteen mile route through the Napa Valley.
It is being hit with runaway negative reaction on social media since the incident Saturday afternoon.
"We made it y'all, look at us, we're ready to get on the wine train, " exudes group member Lisa Renee Johnson, in a cell phone video that shows the group before boarding the train.
Even before it left the station, she says, the women were being shushed.
"I told the people, 'well there's eleven of us, so when we laugh, all at the same time, it's going to be loud, I don't think there's anything we can do about that!'"
They bought their tickets months ago, and made clear they were coming as a group, to discuss their latest book.
The seats they were given were scattered in the car, making conversation more difficult.
"Noise is going to come along with that," admitted Johnson, "and laughter, because it's fun! It's wine and not just a glass of wine, it's free-flowing wine."
Johnson says they hadn't had one sip before a manager was telling them to be quieter, because she could see other passengers were irritated, and one was complaining.
"Why didn't they just move that party to a different car?," wondered book club member Linda Carlson to KTVU, "rather than make all of us get off the train."
Their excursion ended, barely halfway through, when the women were taken off the train in St. Helena.
One of them, recovering from recent knee surgery, struggled to disembark. All were surprised to see several police officers waiting.
"When we get off the train, the police are just standing there," described 85 year old member Katherine Neal, "and they're looking at us like, these are the unruly people?"
The women were also mortified that they had to walk through the train, past all the passengers, to get off.
"Why do we have to be paraded through the train, all six cars?" challenged club member Sandra Jamerson.
"It was very humiliating, very degrading," observed member Dininne Neal, " and it made my mom cry, which made me cry."
For its part, Wine Train spokeswoman Kira Devitt responded, in a writen statement, that it is standard policy to remove guests who are disruptive,and that they do so about once a month.
The statement reads, in part, "We do not enjoy asking guests to depart early, but we take these issues seriously to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all of our guests."
But the women insist that fellow passenger they had just met, and posed for pictures with, were shocked they were being ejected.
They add, even their servers and bartender were apologetic, and said previous groups had been much more rambunctious.
"Our servers didn't feel we were loud and obnoxious," insisted book club member Debbie Reynolds, "they felt we were just laughing."
"We didn't do anything wrong," declared leader Lisa Johnson, "and we still feel this is about race, we were singled out."
The incident might have ended with refunds and a ride back to their cars, except that it has taken hold on social media, and been widely shared.
Some commenters are convinced the women would have been welcomed and accomodated differently, if they had been white.
"We were treated like we didn't belong there, and we paid our money just like everyone else," insisted Johnson, "if they cannot accomodate groups, they should not take our money as a group."
The women were also outraged by a defensive post on the Wine Train Facebook page, accusing the group of "verbal and physical abuse."
The author is not identified, and the company post has since been deleted.
As management reviews the incident, the women are demanding an apology, plus training or policy changes, so that one noise standard applies to all.
In the meantime, they acknowledge the entire experience hurts.
"I was not leaving my house today because I just needed to regroup," shared book club member Georgia Lewis, "and I need to get rid of that feeling we all had, it was awful. "
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13) As Vulture Populations Wane, Perils to Ecosystems Circle Overhead
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