Stop the War Coalition

Newsletter 07.09.15 

Is dropping more bombs on Syria way to solve refugee crisis?

Refugees welcome here

Refugees Welcome Here

National Day of Action

Saturday 12 September

Assemble 12 Noon

Marble Arch, London

Details »

Organise events where you live

Facebook Event »

David Cameron's attempt to exploit the refugee crisis as a pretext for UK bombing of Syria is staggering in its cynicism and callousness. Especially considering the fact that Isis militants mostly congregate in heavily populated cities, UK bombing of Syria will inevitably lead to massive civilian casualties and many more refugees. The government is already killing people in Syria, despite having lost the parliamentary mandate to do this following the vote in the House of Commons in 2012.

More than any other European country, Britain bears direct culpability for the current refugee crisis. It has, along with the United States, been the chief architect of the current Middle Eastern inferno of increasing hatred and endless war. Most of the refugees are fleeing from countries Britain has invaded or otherwise militarily destabilised in recent years: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Yet Britain is also among the EU countries with the lowest intake of refugees, and it imposes numerous restrictions and obstacles on people seeking refuge, breaking Article 14 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights which states that "everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution". In August 2013 The Migrants' Files project by European Press found that 30,000 refugees and migrants had died in their attempt to reach Europe since 2000.

Our humanity is bound up with the humanity of the refugees from UK wars. Please do everything you can to support this day of solidarity with refugees. If you want any help or further information, please contact the Stop the War national office. Email: office@stopwar.org.uk | Tel: 020 7561 4830

Don't Bomb Syria public meeting

Thursday 10 September, 6.30pm

Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church

235 Shaftsbury Avenue

London WC2H 8EP

Details and free booking »

Speakers include:

Diane Abbott MP

Seamus Milne, journalist

Andrew Murray, UNITE Union chief-of-staff

The experience of almost a decade and a half of "war on terror" has shown that violent UK meddling in other countries creates immense misery and bitterness. It creates conditions for fundamentalism to thrive and it perpetuates the cycle of violence. A number of studies (including those by institutions close to the US government such as Freedom House and event the World Bank) have found that Western military intervention in civil wars tends to greatly exacerbate and prolong these conflicts. Savage US bombing already taking place in Syria (and in Iraq, helped by the British) is argued by many to be helping Isis recruitment. More bombing will only add fuel on the flames of the war in the Middle East, leading to more hatred, more misery, death and destruction.

We must act now to stop this new military campaign, as we successfully prevented the bombing campaign in 2013.

Build pressure against a new war

Lobby your MP now. Use our model letter to write to your MP. It takes two minutes.

Participate in the debate by phoning local radio stations.

The topic of bombing Syria is likely to loom large this week, especially in radio prime time (around 8-9 am and 5-6 pm).

LBC (Leading Britain's Conversation) is a prominent example of a talk radio station (97.3 FM, its telephone number is 0345 60 60 973).

BBC Radio 5 Live (AM: 693 kHz, 909 kHz, 990 kHz ) is another major national talk radio station. Its telephone number is 0500 909693.

For a list of local BBC radio stations, click here.

Campaigning costs money Please make a donation to support our work.

For London Supporters: Protest when Netanyahu visits London

War criminals not wecome here

Protest against Benjamin Netanyahu UK visit

Wednesday 9 September | 11am-1pm

Downing Street, London. More details »

Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is visiting London next week for talks with David Cameron. The petition calling for him to be arrested when he is here has passed 100,000, making it elligible for a possible parliamentary debate.

A protest has been called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, supported by Stop the War, on Wednesday 9 September, 11am, Downing Street. Please join us if you can.

Stop the War Annual National Conference 2015

AGM for members and delegates

19 September | 10am - 5pm

University of London Union

Malet Street | London WC1E 7HY

Full details »

The Stop the War national conference is where we discuss current political issues, how to counter the spread of war and our campaigning priorities. The conference is open to members and group delegates.

Please book early to secure your place »

Not a member? Join Stop the War now to attend and participate.

Jeremy #Corbyn4leader

Jeremy Corbyn is national chair of Stop the War Coalition. We have supported his candidacy for the leadership of the Labour Party because of his anti-war policies, including oppositon to Nato, call for the scrapping of Trident, long-time campaigning against Israeli occupation of Palestinians and much more besides.

Jeremy is the frontrunner in the leadership campaign, but we will not know if he has been successful until 11. 30 this Saturday 12 September, when the result is declared at the QE2 Centre in Westminster.


Why we need your support

Stop the War has no wealthy backers. Since our founding in 2001, our campaigns and small office have been funded entirely by our members, supporters and affiliated organisations. We need your support.

In the words of writer and broadcaster Michael Rosen: Stop the War has been the consistent voice of sanity throughout these last years of war and mass death carried out in our name. We cannot let our leaders go on and on claiming that more invasions and more bombings are 'solutions' and Stop the War gives us a voice to say this.

Please help sustain our our vital work opposing the UK government war policies.

• Join Stop the War »

• Make a Donation »

Follow Stop the War on Social media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/STWuk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/StoptheWarCoalition

Stop the War Coalition | office@stopwar.org.uk | 020 7561 4830

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 7pm in Berkeley!

Vijay Prashad on Palestine & the Middle East

Wednesday, October 7, 7pm
First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way

(near downtown Berkeley Bart)

Facebook event

Vijay Prashad is a prominent & charismatic scholar and critic of US foreign policy. Two of his 17 books have been named "Books of the Year" by the Village Voice. Currently Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Connecticut, he was previously Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut.

In addition to speaking about his new book, Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War & Occupation, Vijay Prashad will give an overview of ever-changing events in the Middle East – not to be missed


TICKETS: $10, $15, $20 sliding scale – available now through Brown Paper Tickets!

$15 Tickets also available in bookstores

East Bay: Books Inc./Berkeley, Moe's, Diesel, Walden Pond

San Francisco: Modern Times.

You can also get tickets directly from MECA (no service charge!) -- call or email Sue or Nawal weekdays, 510-548-0542, susan@mecaforpeace.org

Vijay Prashad edited Letters to Palestine, tracing the "swelling American recognition of Palestinian suffering, struggle, and hope, in writing that is personal, lyrical, anguished, and inspiring." For example, after the 2014 Gaza assault, polls revealed that a majority of Americans under thirty found Israel's actions unjustified.

Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War & Occupation includes contributions by Mumia Abu Jamal, Naomi Shihab Nye, Robin D.G. Kelley, Teju Cole, Junot Diaz (who wrote the Introduction), Noura Erekat, Huwaida Araf, Remi Kanazi, Sarah Schulman, Nora Barrows-Friedman, Alex Lubin, and more! (Note: these writers will not be speaking at this event.)

Read Vijay Prashad's new piece on the Iran deal here

Check out this recent interview in "Red Pepper" with Vijay Prashad about "Letters to Palestine"

Hear Vijay Prashad on Democracy Now!

Benefit for aid to Palestinian children, cosponsored by KPFA, Arab Resource & Organizing Center, Jewish Voice for Peace/Bay Area, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

Wheelchair accessible. ASL interpreted.

For info www.mecaforpeace.org, 510-548-0542.



Dear Friends,

One year ago, thousands of activists flooded Wall Street in New York, taking mass direct action in the heart of a global financial system that's fueling the climate crisis.

Now, a year later, people across the continent are preparing and organizing for #FloodTheSystem, a sustained campaign of direct action and civil disobedience targeting the political and corporate elites that profit off of climate change.

To kick off #FloodTheSystem, on Monday, September 28, we're going to Flood Wall Street West: San Francisco's financial district. Flood Wall Street West will consist of a tour of shame of some of the worst corporate and political bad actors in downtown San Francisco.

We will take mass direct action to shut down business as usual and emphasize the connections between the climate crisis, capitalism, exploitation and oppression. Here are the details:

What: Flood Wall Street West

When: Monday, September 28, 8 am

Where: Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco, CA

Click here to sign up for more details, and to sign up to attend Flood Wall St. West.

Come dressed in blue. The march organizers will have everything else you need, including chant sheets, banners, signs, props and art.

This is direct action for everybody. While many attendees will risk arrest, everyone can participate safely, whether or not you're willing to go to jail. There will be a legal briefing and nonviolent direct action training before the march to make sure that everyone is prepared to participate.

The march organizers will need lots of extra hands to make this march a success. If you'd like to volunteer to help out before or during the march, RSVP and indicate that you'd like to take on a volunteer role. Click here to sign up.

#FloodTheSystem is timed to coincide with the Paris climate talks. Instead of hoping that yet another round of negotiations will finally yield a solution to the climate crisis, activists across North America will shut down business as usual and demand real, transformative solutions to the climate crisis.

We hope you'll join us to kick off this mass mobilization with Flood Wall Street West. Click here to RSVP.

Thanks for all you do.

For a just and stable climate,

The Flood Wall St. West Welcoming Committee





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.

In solidarity,

James Clark
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

News Updates

  • Death Row Stories
    Kevin 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

Download PDF of Petition 


Amn3.pngMayor 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]




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

Courage Campaign

Daily Kos

Democracy for America


Project Springboard

RH Reality Check


Student Debt Crisis

The Nation

Working Families



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:








Action Alert!

Stand with Major Tillery

Dear Bonnie,

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.

"Major is in the hole, not because of drugs, but because of something prison administrators hate and fear among all things: prisoner unity, prisoner solidarity."

- Mumia Abu-Jamal

1. Call prison officials to demand that Major Tillery be released from solitary confinement!

Superintendent Brenda Tritt, SCI Frackville
(570) 874-4516

Dept. Of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel
(717) 728-4109


  • State that you are calling about Major Tillery #AM9786, to demand he be released from the RHU and placed back in general population.
  • Inform them that you aware that he is in the hole and being denied medication in retaliation for speaking up for another prisoner.

2. Write Major a letter of solidarity:

Dear Major Tillery,

We honor your brave act of solidarity on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal. You urged him to seek medical care and challenged the Prison Superintendent to protect his life. You helped save the life of a fellow prisoner and for that act of solidarity they are trying to bury you in the bowels of SCI Frackville under false charges. No matter how hard they try they cannot hide you under the weight of lies and intimidation. The power of the truth must come to light. Thank you Major Tillery for your courageous service. We salute you!


Major George Tillery

AM 9786 

SCI Frackville, 1111 Altamont Blvd, 

Frackville, PA 17931


"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." -Frederick Douglass

Mumia continues to transcend the prison walls, reaching out to us with his profound commentaries. Prison Radio is committed to amplifying Mumia's voice, getting him the medical care he needs to survive, and winning his freedom.

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,

Noelle Hanrahan

Director, Prison Radio

To give by check:

PO Box 411074

San Francisco, CA


Stock or legacy gifts:

Noelle Hanrahan

(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

www,prisonradio.org 415-706-5222

Our mailing address is:

Prison Radio PO Box 411074, SF CA 94141


Donate Now

$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


info@prisonradio.org 415-706-5222


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!

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

Harrisburg, PA

Dear Supporters,

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

            DF 1036

            SCI Mahanoy

            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


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.





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














1) Britain 'Wouldn't Hesitate' to Carry Out More Drone Strikes in Syria, Minister Says

"Undeterred by criticism of a lethal drone strike against terrorism suspects in Syria, the British defense secretary said on Tuesday that his country would not hesitate to carry out similar raids against militants suspected of plotting attacks against Britain and its allies. ...Mr. Cameron said that Britain had conducted an armed drone strike inside Syria for the first time on Aug. 21, killing three people suspected of being Islamic State members, including two British citizens. ...Asked whether Britain had identified more than two or three people suspected of being terrorists, Mr. Fallon replied "yes," but he declined to say whether there was a British "kill list" of drone targets."



2) Doctors' Association Sees Harm in Insurance Mergers



3) Yanis Varoufakis: How Europe Crushed Greece

ATHENS — Since the beginning of Greece's financial crisis in 2010, two prime ministers have been swept from office after they were forced to adopt an unfeasible package of austerity measures in exchange for a bailout from the troika, as the eurozone authorities — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — are known. It pains me to watch the same fate befall a third prime minister, my friend and comrade Alexis Tsipras.

In July, when Mr. Tspiras was forced to capitulate to the troika's latest "program," it spelled the end of our government. It also caused a split in our party, Syriza, between those who reluctantly agreed to implement the program and the rest of us (approximately 40 Syriza members of Parliament, out of a total of 149) who did not. The general election set for Sept. 20 is a result of this crisis.

For my part, having resigned as finance minister over the troika's ruthless, humiliating imposition, I plan to sit this one out. I will not contest my parliamentary seat in a sad election that will not produce a Parliament capable of endorsing a realistic reform agenda for Greece.

Nor can I support the adoption of a troika program that everyone knows is destined to fail. There was a clear consensus, shared not only by myself and Mr. Tsipras, but also by Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, and officials at the International Monetary Fund, that the new bailout deal was not viable.

I will not, however, join those who think that exiting the eurozone, to bring about a major devaluation with a reintroduced drachma, is in itself a program for Greece's recovery.

The cause of this continuing trouble for Greece lies in the eurozone's existential crisis. The pioneers of the single currency, of whom Mr. Schäuble is the last active member, were undecided whether the euro should be modeled on the international gold standard of the interwar period or on a sovereign currency, like the dollar.

The gold standard relied on strict rules that were unenforceable during a crisis. In a severe downturn, these imposed the greatest burden on the worst-hit economies and thus made exit the only alternative to a humanitarian crisis. This is the reason that President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the United States off the gold standard in 1933, expanded the money supply and helped pull America out of the Depression.

A sovereign currency, or state money, demands a different, more flexible set of responses based on political union, as the French government and others have recently proposed. The great questions that Europe must answer are: What kind of political union do we want? And are we prepared to act quickly enough to prevent the fragmentation of the eurozone?

Europe's indecision is a result of a deep rift between Berlin and Paris. Berlin has traditionally backed a rules-based eurozone in which every member state is responsible for its own finances, including bank bailouts, with political union limited to a fiscal overlord's possessing veto power over national budgets that violate the rules. Paris and Rome, cognizant that their deficit position would condemn them to a slow-burning recession under such a rules-based political union, see things differently.

It was in the context of this standoff that Mr. Schäuble felt that accepting an alternative plan for Greece's recovery, in place of the troika's program, would weaken Germany's hand vis-à-vis the French. Thus little Greece was crushed while the elephants tussled.

We had such a plan. In March, I undertook the task of compiling an alternative program for Greece's recovery, with advice from the economist Jeffrey Sachs and input from a host of experts, including the former American Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and the former British chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont.

Our proposals began with a strategy for debt swaps to reduce the public debt's burden on state finances. This measure would allow for sustainable budget surpluses (net of debt and interest repayments) from 2018 onward. We set a target for those surpluses of no more than 2 percent of national income (the troika program's target is 3.5 percent). With less pressure on the government to depress demand in the economy by cutting public spending, the Greek economy would attract investors of productive capital.As well as making this possible, the debt swaps would also render Greek sovereign debt eligible for the European Central Bank's quantitative easing program. This in turn would speed up Greece's return to the money markets, reducing its reliance on loans from European institutions.

To generate homegrown investment, we proposed a development bank to take over public assets from the state, collateralize them and so create an income stream for reinvestment. We also planned to set up a "bad bank" that would use financial engineering techniques to clear the Greek commercial banks' mountain of nonperforming loans. A series of other reforms, including a new, independent I.R.S.-like tax authority, rounded out our proposals.

The document was ready on May 11. Although I presented it to key European finance ministers, including Mr. Schäuble, as the Greek Finance Ministry's official plan, it never received the endorsement of our own prime minister. The reason? Because the troika made it abundantly clear to Mr. Tsipras that any such document would be seen as a hostile attempt to backtrack from the conditions of the troika's existing program. That program, of course, had made no provision for debt restructuring and therefore demanded cripplingly high budget surpluses.

The fact that few people ever got to hear about the Greek plan is a testament to the eurozone's deep failures of governance. If the "Athens Spring" — when the Greek people courageously rejected the catastrophic austerity conditions of the previous bailouts — has one lesson to teach, it is that Greece will recover only when the European Union makes the transition from "We the states" to "We the European people."

Across the Continent, people are fed up with a monetary union that is inefficient because it is so profoundly undemocratic. This is why the battle for rescuing Greece has now turned into a battle for Europe's integrity, soul, rationality and democracy. I plan to concentrate on helping set up a Pan-European political movement, inspired by the Athens Spring, that will work toward Europe's democratization.

Naturally, this will take years to bear fruit — years that Greece cannot afford. In the meantime, I shall continue to promote our plan for Greece's recovery as a true, viable alternative to the troika's impossible program.

Yanis Varoufakis, a former finance minister of Greece, is an outgoing member of Parliament for Syriza and a professor of economics at the University of Athens.



4) Students in South Africa Protest Slow Pace of Change

"Black South Africans make up less than a quarter of the university's student body, and they account for just 5 percent of members of the faculty."



5) Freddie Gray Settlement Approved by Baltimore Officials



6) How an Area's Union Membership Can Predict Children's Advancement


A minimum wage protest at Columbus Circle in New York City in April. Credit Earl Wilson/The New York Times

It is well established that unions provide benefits to workers — that they raise wages for their members (and even for nonmembers). They can help reduce inequality.

A new study suggests that unions may also help children move up the economic ladder.

Researchers at Harvard, Wellesley and the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, released a paper Wednesday showing that children born to low-income families typically ascend to higher incomes in metropolitan areas where union membership is higher.The size of the effect is small, but there aren't many other factors that are as strongly correlated with mobility. Raj Chetty of Stanford and Nathaniel Hendren of Harvard, who pioneered this method of examining economic mobility, established five factors that are strongly correlated with a low-income child's likelihood of making it into the middle class: the rate of single motherhood in an area, the degree of inequality, the high school dropout rate, the degree of residential segregation, and the amount of social capital, as measured by indicators like voter turnout and participation in community organizations.

Single motherhood is the most strongly correlated factor with mobility. The latest study, which relied on the Chetty/Hendren data, says union membership is roughly as strongly correlated with mobility as the other four factors.

"It's a striking relationship," said Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Obama economic adviser, who is participating in a discussion with some of the study's authors on Wednesday. "It's further grounds for concern about the decline of unionism in the United States."

The authors posit a variety of reasons for why higher rates of unionization tend to coincide with greater mobility, beyond the effect on parents' wages, which would seem to be the most obvious way unionization could matter.

Their most interesting explanation is that unions are effective at pushing the political system to deliver policies — like a higher minimum wage and greater spending on schools and other government programs — that broadly benefit workers. Perhaps not surprisingly, three cities that appear to reflect the union effect — San Francisco, Seattle and New York — are all jurisdictions where the minimum wage is rising substantially (though for New York it is only for workers in fast-food chains.).

The researchers looked at the expected income of people ages 29 to 32 whose parents were at the 25th percentile of income nationally when they were teenagers. They found that a 10-percentage-point increase in the rate of unionization in an area coincided with a rise of an additional 1.3 points on the income distribution as the average child becomes an adult.

Let's take the example of the average metro area where about 16 percent of workers were unionized, and children whose parents were in the 25th percentile of income earners nationally ended up at the 40.7 percentile on average as adults. A simple application of the author's finding implies that, in a metro area where 26 percent of workers were unionized, the average child from the same place in the income ladder would end up in the 42nd percentile.

The correlation remains statistically significant even when the researchers controlled for a variety of other social and economic variables, like the child poverty rate and median house value.

"I would have thought we could have found things that might have killed off the effects," said Richard B. Freeman, a labor economist at Harvard who was one of the study's authors. "And we basically didn't."

Moreover, the benefits aren't exclusive to low-income children. The researchers also find that a 10-percentage- point increase in the rate of union membership is associated with a 3 percent to 4.5 percent increase in the incomes of all children — regardless of their parents' income. (The differences in the 3 percent and 4.5 percent arise from the number of demographic variables the researchers control for.)

Because there is more upward mobility in areas with greater unionization generally, the researchers concluded that the result was not because the children of union members seized opportunities from other children.

It's important to emphasize that the study does not establish causality — the authors can't prove that unions are driving the improvement in mobility. For that matter, they don't attempt to. The finding establishes only that, in their words, "mobility thrives in areas where unions thrive."

As Scott Winship, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute points out, this is not a minor limitation. It's entirely possible that unobserved features of a given metro area cause both the increase in unionization and the increase in mobility.

Mr. Winship notes, for example, that both unionization and mobility tend to be relatively low in Southern cities like Atlanta and Charlotte. "There may be a regional difference" that explains both, he said.

To help pin down causality, he said, it would be helpful to look at variations across geographically similar areas, like cities that have different rates of unionization and variations in mobility on either side of a state border.

Still, the result is especially telling given a common critique of unions — that they may raise wages for workers in an area, but they lower employment by making marginal workers unaffordable. Even if that's the case, the current study suggests that the benefits of greater unionization are outweighing the costs: Children are doing better on average when unionization for their parents' generation is higher, even if the higher rates of unionization could theoretically lower employment.

If unions were doing more harm than good, we wouldn't expect to see mobility rise as the rate of unionization does. (For what it's worth, Mr. Freeman notes, most studies find that unions have little negative effect on employment.)

An intriguing question is whether there might be something unique about the way unions affect mobility, independent of their effect on inequality or dropout rates. Is it possible that there's a union special sauce? The authors don't grapple with this question directly, but buried deep in the study is a potential clue.

It comes when the authors use a second, more detailed data set to analyze whether parents' union membership tends to increase the wages of their children. (The second data set pairs specific individuals with their parents, rather than relying on metro-area averages, and controls for a variety of demographic characteristics that might also affect wages — like race, ethnicity, marital status and education — so they can isolate the effect of union membership.)

The authors find that children with fathers who belong to a union have significantly higher wages than children who don't. But when it's the mother who belongs to a union, only the wages of daughters rise.

What might be going on here? It's possible that the explanation is sociological: Daughters with a mother who belongs to a union may be more likely to work themselves, which means they're more likely to have higher wages. Or, put differently, union membership is helping to change social norms.

"I like to think it's the role model effect," said Brendan V. Duke, another one of the study's authors at the Center for American Progress, who concedes that the explanation is speculative. (Eunice Han of Wellesley and David Madland of the Center for American Progress were the other authors.)

And that, in turn, suggests something potentially important, though equally speculative, about the effects of unions more broadly: Higher rates of unionization may give rise to certain norms that instill a greater sense of agency in workers.

For example, people who belong to unions are generally aware that they have certain rights in the workplace and are encouraged to speak up if they believe they've been mistreated. It's the kind of norm that could leach out into a broader population — to both union members and their nonunion peers — if unions are sufficiently visible and active, which could in turn help boost economic mobility.

Mr. Freeman believes there may be something to this, but notes that the study did not explicitly pursue this line of inquiry. "I'm thinking of which student might we get to do an undergraduate thesis on this," he said.

Whatever the possible mechanism, the study highlights the potential of policies and institutions that are important both to the individuals directly affected by them and to those affected only indirectly. Union membership can lead to a virtuous cycle, Mr. Summers asserts, improving outcomes for union members who then positively affect their peers, who then positively affect the union members, who then positively affect their peers, and on and on.

"When you work all that out, things that have a small effect at the individual level can have a larger aggregate effect," he said. "Freeman et al have demonstrated that one of those things is the incidence of unionism."



7) Virginia: No Charges for Deputies in Stun-Gun Death



8) California: Deputies Charged in Prisoner's Killing



9) Houston Cops Shoot Unarmed Black Patient in Hospital — and Then Charge Him With Assault

Health care professionals have started a petition condemning the presence of guns in hospitals.

By Katie Halper



Alan Pean is a 26-year-old biology student with no criminal record or history of violence. But on August 27th, he was shot in the chest by an off-duty Houston police officer working as a security guard at the St. Joseph Medical Center. The police are claiming that Alan became combative and that they followed standard operating procedure. It's Alan, they say, who is as fault, and they have charged with two counts of aggravated assault against a public servant. He was arraigned today.

According to the Houston Police Department's statement,

Officers Ortega and Law were working extra jobs as security at St. Joseph Medical Center at the above address when they were summoned to the eighth floor to help nurses subdue a combative patient.  Once the officers arrived, the patient continued to refuse to comply with the nurses and officers' demands.  The patient suddenly physically assaulted Officer Ortega, striking him in the head, causing a laceration.  At that time, Officer Law deployed his conducted energy device, which had no apparent effect on the suspect who continued to assault the officers.  Officer Ortega, fearing for his and his partner's safety, then discharged his duty weapon, striking the suspect one time.

But the family and medical professionals are disturbed by the handling of Alan's case and what looks like a failure on many levels. Alan had driven himself to the hospital the night of August 26, during an acute mental health crisis. When he got there, he crashed his car and was treated for those injuries. But the mental health issues, which were what brought Alan to the hospital in the first place, were ignored, according to the Pean family. Alan's father, himself a physician, begged the hospital to get his son a psychiatric evaluation given that Alan had suffered a similar episode in 2009. But the hospital decided he was ready to be discharged, clearing him a mere minutes before the shooting. How did he go from being cleared to leave to so combative that only a bullet could protect two officers?

Medical neglect followed by the use of excessive force led to what could have very easily been a fatal shooting. Health care professionals have started a petition condemning the presence of guns in hospitals and the criminalization of patients and mental health patients in particular. It reads

Personally, we stand in outrage for every time he is referred to as "combative" without sub-clause or context, we stand in outrage for every time he is called a "suspect" instead of a patient, we stand in outrage for every time he, one empty-handed, help-seeking man, is painted as a threat to two officers, able bodied and armed, in a hospital.

Professionally, we have been trained in truth seeking and healing. As doctors and medical students, as nurses and care partners, we are trained in how to safely restrain and tranquilize patients, no matter how aggressive, or irritable, or anxious, or threatening they may be. Never is it appropriate or warranted for a patient to be tazed, never is it appropriate for a patient to be struck, never, never, never is it appropriate for a patient seeking care, to have their life threatened in our arms.

Personally and professionally, we are shaken by the reality of this epidemic of police brutality, in which no one– no son of a doctor, no college student, no tender-hearted soul of color remains immune. We stand with shaken hearts and rooted conviction, to speak our collective outrage for Alan Christopher Pean, our gentle friend, a 26 year old who was inexcusably shot in the chest by a police officer, while seeking care as a patient."

Alan's family is focusing on making sure this never happens again. Alan's attitude is particularly inspiring and generous. He wrote on his Facebook page,

The anguish caused by trying to understand why (according to the hospital) this had to happen to me has only started. Is it because I look a bit different that I had to be shot without a second thought about my life or my personhood? I try not to think that's the case, but I seem to find myself at that conclusion as I delve deeper into my case, as well as those similar to mine. I pray with all my heart that people change, and I have faith that we can for the better. I love myself, and I love humanity, but I don't believe that humanity or American society willfully wants things to be this way…

So I will fight until I know every person seeking medical help will have his or her right to pursue a better life protected. Keep guns out of places of healing. Help stop this madness, and let's make our society a better place. Where love and understanding falters, confusion and hate breeds.

Alan's older brother, Christian, a 27-year old in his last year of year medical student at New York's Mt Sinai School of Medicine, is concerned about Alan's suffering and at the same time determined to protect others from a similar neglect and abuse. I spoke to him today after his brother was arraigned and he said,

This entire ordeal has been an absolute nightmare for Alan and our family. We're trying to trust the system and hope that truth prevails, though the reality is that the system has failed us miserably at every conceivable juncture in this matter thus far. Our main focus is just making sure Alan doesn't go to prison right now. From my perspective and my father's perspective as healthcare professionals, the entire thing still has us completely beside ourselves.

However, at this time, all we can do is hope that Alan's supporters continue to send love and compassion his way, and that we have more answers to how this could have happened, and how it can be considered appropriate in anyone's eyes. We are of the belief that this should never happen to anyone again.




10) Virginia Sheriff Releases Video of Effort to Subdue Inmate Who Died



11) Police Officers Charged in Freddie Gray's Death to Be Tried in Baltimore




12) With Jeremy Corbyn Elected as New Leader, Britain's Labour Party Takes a Hard Left Turn


LONDON - Britain's opposition Labour Party on Saturday took a remarkable leftward turn, electing as its leader Jeremy Corbyn, a longtime socialist committed to nationalizing key industries, scrapping Britain's nuclear missile system and reversing the centrist policies of previous leaders such as Tony Blair.

The result of the contest, announced on Saturday morning in London, gave stewardship of the Labour party to the hard left for the first time in more than three decades, a development seen here as one of the most surprising upsets in modern British politics.

As Europe continues to feel the aftershocks of the financial crisis of 2008, voters have been increasingly attracted to the political extremes, with support growing both for socialist parties on the left and nationalist ones on the right. The Labour leadership result could now shift the main opposition party in Britain closer to the types of positions taken by other leftist parties that have become prominent across Europe, including Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain.

Mr. Corbyn, 66, has been a lawmaker for more than three decades but never served in government, preferring to campaign, often for unfashionable causes, and frequently rebelling against the party line.

He only made it into the contest at the last minute, gaining the 35 nominations he needed from fellow lawmakers, thanks to the support of some colleagues who did not support him but thought he should take part.

Yet his program, which includes nationalizing energy and rail companies, printing money to boost the economy and scrapping Britain's Trident nuclear missile system, has struck a chord with many activists and new, often young supporters.

Crucially, he took advantage of a rule change that allowed candidates to recruit sympathizers who, for a small fee, could sign up as registered supporters of the Labour Party and gain a vote in the contest.

Much like Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who has ignited liberal passions in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in the United States, Mr. Corbyn is promising radical approaches to longstanding problems.

As Labour leader, Mr. Corbyn will be some way from power, but his views could influence policy, particularly on foreign affairs. Mr. Cameron, for example, wants to know the position of the new Labour leader before asking Parliament to authorize military strikes in Syria. Two years ago, Mr. Cameron lost a vote on the issue, and Mr. Corbyn was a staunch opponent.

Then there is a looming referendum on whether Britain should stay in the European Union, due by the end of 2017, in which Labour's role will be important. Though Mr. Corbyn has not said he wants Britain to leave the bloc, he has said he voted against British membership of the bloc's forerunner in a plebiscite in 1975.

And in Washington there may be unease over the main British opposition party's being led by a fierce critic of American foreign policy — one who, without endorsing their actions, has described Hamas and Hezbollah as "friends."

Hardly anyone contemplated such an outcome after the party's previous leader, Ed Miliband, led Labour to defeat in May's general election, on a platform already seen as being to the left of Mr. Blair. After that electoral rebuff, most expected the right of the party to reclaim the leadership. Instead the Blairites tried frantically to derail Mr. Corbyn, a vegetarian teetotaler based in North London who made a career of rebelling against the party line and until now had little public profile outside of party activists.

Steven Fielding, professor of political history at Nottingham University, said Mr. Corbyn's rise had "taken everyone by surprise," yet even opponents concede that his campaign has energized a cohort of enthusiastic, and often young, supporters.

Such people, Mr. Corbyn said at a rally in London this week, had been "written off as being a nonpolitical generation, when in reality they were a political generation that politics had written off."

Although Britain's economy is growing fast, Mr. Corbyn's message has struck a chord with workers and families still feeling the aftershocks of Europe's financial crisis of 2008.

For many, prospects remain poor, wages low and employment insecure. Soaring housing prices in the south have left many locked out of the real estate market. Bankers remain the target of simmering resentment.

Still, chance played a big part in Mr. Corbyn's rise, not least because he had to be persuaded to run as the left's leadership candidate, a position traditionally akin to that of a sacrificial lamb.

To stand, Mr. Corbyn needed 35 nominations from Labour lawmakers, and he scraped enough together only when several of those who did not support him decided he ought to be on the ballot to broaden the debate within the party. But, once there, he exploited a change of rules for the election of Labour leader, which had been devised to bolster the power of individual party members and curtail the influence of trade unions.

For just three British pounds, about $4.60, anyone can become a "registered supporter" and take part in what has become something like an American-style primary. The party, which had around 187,000 members before the May general election, has gained more than 105,000 since, plus an additional 112,000 "registered supporters." When those affiliated to the party, mainly through unions, are added, more than half a million people have a vote. The voting has been underway for several weeks.

This system is now engulfed in controversy amid claims of organized efforts by hard-left supporters to register Corbyn voters and allegations that Conservative supporters have signed up to vote for Mr. Corbyn, calculating that this will sabotage Labour's chances in the next election. Having won a five-year term in May, Mr. Cameron does not have to call another election until 2020.

Perhaps most of all, Mr. Corbyn's success reflects Labour's internal failure to confront the toxic legacy of the war in Iraq, which Mr. Blair joined President George W. Bush in starting, and of the economic policies that many link to the financial crash.

Mr. Corbyn's opponents — Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall — were all associated to varying degrees with a Mr. Blair's centrist vision, yet none seem to have the charisma he possessed in 1994 when he won the party leadership.

After a televised debate among the current four contenders, the Daily Telegraph commentator Dan Hodges declared Ms. Cooper the best performer, but lampooned her tendency to lapse into the type of robotic politician-style of speaking that has repelled many voters.

"Each position she adopts," Mr. Hodges wrote, "is carefully calculated to place herself in a position of perfect equilibrium between two other competing positions. 'Tea or coffee, Yvette?' 'Well, I love tea. But I think it would be a serious mistake to ignore the importance of coffee.' "

Mr. Fielding sees Mr. Corbyn's success as a "sign of alienation from the system as it exists," adding that his three opponents are viewed by many within the party as "Tory-lite," a reference to Mr. Cameron's Conservatives.

The view among many supporters, Mr. Fielding added, was that "voting for Jeremy Corbyn might not work, but at least it is something that we believe in — and maybe it will work."

That chimes with the experience of the former Labour minister Chris Mullin, when he explained his reservations about Mr. Corbyn to party supporters.

"Gently I pointed out," Mr. Mullin wrote in The Guardian, "that a party led by Corbyn, saintly and decent man that he is, was likely to be unelectable. Which only met with the riposte that since the other three candidates appear to be unelectable too, why not go for the real thing?"

Yet the real thing would take Labour further to the left than at any time since 1983, which history suggests would be a high risk.

In that year, Mr. Corbyn and Mr. Blair entered Parliament, but Labour went down to a crushing defeat, and its manifesto was called "the longest suicide note in history."




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15) Ex-Officer Seeks Bond in Shooting Death of Walter Scott


CHARLESTON, S.C. — Saying that he hoped to spend time with his young son, a former police officer asked a judge on Friday to release him on bond while he awaits trial in the shooting death of an unarmed black man after a traffic stop in April.

The former North Charleston officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, told Judge Clifton Newman that he "was not a flight risk" and would follow any bail requirements set by the court.

Bound in chains and wearing a purple-gray jumpsuit, Mr. Slager appeared haggard as he spoke in court for the first time since he was arrested in April in the death of Walter L. Scott, 50. Mr. Slager shuffled to the stand and said he hoped to see his family — particularly his son, who is to be baptized soon.Judge Newman said he would rule "as expeditiously as possible" on the bond request. The trial is expected sometime next year. Mr. Slager's bond hearing had been put off, his lawyers said, because of delays in collecting information needed to make the defense's arguments.

A video of the shooting taken by a bystander appeared to show Mr. Slager firing at Mr. Scott as he tried to run away in what started as a traffic stop over a broken taillight. The episode strained racial tensions in this port city and came at a time of intense scrutiny of the treatment of African-Americans by law enforcement officials.

During an earlier hearing on Thursday, Scarlett A. Wilson, the South Carolina prosecutor overseeing the case, squared off against Andy Savage, a Charleston lawyer known for representing clients in prominent cases, including the families of victims of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church slayings in June.

Mr. Savage argued that Mr. Slager's bond request was warranted because he was a supportive husband and father who had no criminal record and had earned exemplary performance reviews from his superiors.

The hearing produced the defense's first attempt to lay some of the blame for the killing on Mr. Scott. Mr. Savage argued that Mr. Scott had traces of cocaine in his bloodstream and that he and Mr. Slager had been involved in "a violent physical confrontation" moments before the shooting, fighting over Mr. Slager's Taser. He said Mr. Slager, who had already fired the Taser at Mr. Scott, feared for his life.

Mr. Savage argued that the traffic stop occurred because Mr. Slager was trying to fill a quota system that mandated North Charleston officers pull over a minimum of three drivers a day for minor offenses such as noisy mufflers, loud radios or faulty brake lights. "That's the policy that Michael Slager was following as he drove west on Remount Road and saw a Mercedes without a tiny little brake light in the rear," Mr. Savage said.

Ms. Wilson vigorously disputed the defense's characterization of Mr. Scott, saying only a trace amount of cocaine was found in his system. In addition, she said, Mr. Slager's lightly skinned knees, lightly bloodied middle finger and clean uniform gave no indication of a perilous struggle.

The prosecutor noted inconsistencies in Mr. Slager's testimony and asserted that the blurry footage at the start of the video showed not a violent attack but Mr. Slager grabbing Mr. Scott's arm, the Taser falling to the ground and Mr. Scott turning to flee before being gunned down.

"Should he have fled from Officer Slager?" Ms. Wilson asked. "No, he shouldn't have. But that doesn't mean that Mr. Slager should have then become a firing squad and executed Mr. Scott."

Mr. Scott's mother, Judy, fought back tears as she described his devotion to family that included caring for a father who is blind and on dialysis.

"I'm truly hurt, and I pray for Slager and his family," Ms. Scott said, "because of the love of Christ on the inside cannot hate. I don't know what you would call that. To gun down a human being like you did. Nothing that's done will ever bring him back."

Outside the county courthouse, James Johnson, the Charleston president of the National Action Network, the civil rights organization started by the Rev. Al Sharpton, said that none of Mr. Savage's arguments overshadowed the fact that Mr. Slager fired on Mr. Scott as he ran away.

"If Charleston County Court allows him to be out on bond, then every murder suspect whose bond was denied should be granted a new hearing," Mr. Johnson said, adding that his and other civil rights organizations will call for nonviolent rallies should bail be granted.




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