Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
B. ARTICLES IN FULL
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
Mumia Abu-Jamal's Writings, with Angela Davis
Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Letters. Hosted by Angela Davis, Johanna Fernandez and Walter Turner.
When: February 18, 2016, 7:30 PM
Where: First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison, Oakland
KPFA Radio 94.1FM and City Lights Books present:
Thursday, February 18, 7:30 PM
First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison, Oakland
Advance tickets: $12: brownpapertickets.com T: 800-838-3006
or Marcus Books, Pegasus (3 shops), Books Inc/Berkeley, Moe's, Walden Pond Bookstore, Diesel a Bookstore, Mrs. Dalloway's
S.F.- City Lights Bookstore, Modern Times.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is one of the most important public intellectuals of our time… He offers us new ways of thinking about law, democracy and power. He allows us to reflect upon the fact that transformational possibilities often emerge where we least expect them."
Revolutionary love, revolutionary memory and revolutionary analysis are at work on every page written by Mumia Abu-Jamal…His writings are a wake-up call. He is a voice from our prophetic tradition, speaking to us here, now, livingly, urgently. Black man, old-school jazz man, freedom fighter, revolutionary—his presence, his voice, his words are the writing on the wall."
– Cornel West
"When you listen to Mumia Abu-Jamal you hear the echoes of David Walker, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, and the sisters and brothers who kept the faith with struggle, who kept the faith with resistance."
– Manning Marable
Writing on the Wall presents a selection of more than 100 previously unpublished essays spanning the entire period of Mumia Abu-Jamal's incarceration that crystallize his essential perspectives on community, politics, protest, history, social change and movement organizing in the U.S. and internationally. From discussions of Rosa Parks and Trayvon Martin, to Martin Luther King and Edward Snowden, Abu-Jamal articulates lucid, humorous, and often prescient insight into the past, present and future of American politics and society.
This book and this event could not be more timely, relevant and provocative.Presenting Mumia's thoughts and discussing them will be Angela Davis, Johann Fernández, and Walter Turner.
Angela Davis is an American political activist, scholar, and author. She emerged as a prominent progressive activist and a leader in the Communist Party USA. She worked with the Black Panther Party, and was heavily involved in America's Civil Rights Movement, particularly prisoner rights. She founded Critical Reistance.
Johanna Fernández, the editor of Writing on the Wall, is a former Fulbright Scholar to Jordan.Currently Assistant Professor of History at City University of New York, she is the writer and producer of the film Justice on Trial: The Case for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Professor Walter Turner, College of Marin Social Sciences Professor, is also host and producer of the weekly Pacifica Radio program Africa Today, airing Monday evenings on KPFA Radio 94.1FM.
Sunday, March 20: National March
to Support Palestine in D.C.!
On Sunday, March 20, 2016, there will be a major National March on Washington, D.C., to support Palestine and the Palestinian people. Stand with Palestine, say NO to the racist reign of terror and the Apartheid Wall, and say YES to the right of Palestinian refugees to return home.
Buses are being reserved and organized. Transportation centers are being set up in cities up and down the East Coast and in the Midwest. We expect people from every region to descend on Washington, D.C.
The National March and Rally is timed to coincide with the opening of the AIPAC Convention in downtown Washington, D.C. We will gather in front of the White House for a rally at 12 Noon. At 1:00 pm we will march to the D.C. Convention Center, the site of the AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) conference.
Al-Awda, The Palestinian Right to Return Coalition and the ANSWER Coalition are co-sponsoring the National March on March 20 (#SupportPalestineInDC2016). We are expecting hundreds of organizations and individual leaders to endorse this activity and join the effort!
What you can do:
1. Become an endorser of this important national action
2. RSVP online to say you're coming
3. Sign up if you can help bring other people from your area to Washington on March 20
Palestine is calling and the world must answer. International solidarity can make the difference, as it did in bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa. This must be a united effort for justice. We must stand together to reject the efforts by the Israeli state and settlers to abuse, violate and evict the Palestinian people. We say NO to racism and YES to self-determination.
Please join and help bring thousands of people to Washington, D.C., on Sunday, March 20, 2016.
At JP Morgan "Health Care" Conference in SF:
Outrage Against Big Pharma!
Activists Protest "Obscene" Conference
Corporate Big-Wigs Say Protest Is "Abomination"
"This conference that we are picketing ...
is an obscene reflection of the reality of this country today,
that the most important thing is money and profit,
and not human needs!"
- Carole Seligman,
Speaking at the demonstration
It was in their fancy tailored suits and with suspicious eyes that Big Pharma CEO's and investors got interrupted by protestors and speeches such as the above, as they came and went from the (too-big-to-fail) JP Morgan-sponsored conference on "health care" (read: profit care) at the elite Westin St. Francis hotel on Union Square in San Francisco on Monday, the 11th of January 2016.
Public Health Not Corporate Wealth!
Called out by the OASIS Clinic, a not-for-profit in Oakland CA that specializes in treating patients with Hepatitis-C, the demonstration was organized in collaboration with the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (LAC) and supported by numerous other groups. Some 70 protestors, including OASIS staff, patients and medical professionals, marched outside the hotel, as the pharmaceutical investors came and went, to demand proper treatment for the 3 million victims of Hep-C in the US, including 700,000 prisoners; and to give the CEOs a warning: we are watching! Profiteering must stop!
As Carole Seligman, speaking for Prison Radio and Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal explained, "We know how to feed people who are starving, and we know how to cure people with hepatitis-C and Aids and many other diseases, but ... this obscene conference (is about) not how to cure people, not how to distribute these life saving drugs, but how to make money! This is obscene... we know how to do it! It does not involve profit-making!"
Gilead Charges 100 Times It's Cost for the Hep-C Cure
The big pharma company Gilead Sciences (based in Foster City, CA) was a chief target of this action. Gilead is the owner and manufacturer (but not the developer--that was a company that Gilead bought) of the new drug, Harvoni, which has a 95 percent cure rate for Hep-C in a 12 (or more) week treatment of one pill per day. This is a vast improvement over the previous treatments for Hep-C, but... Gilead charges the outrageous price of $1,000 per pill for the drug, which costs from $84,000 to nearly $100,000 for a full curative treatment, or more than twice what the developing company's suggested price was. Gilead charges about 100 times the cost of production of the pill!
Demonstrators chanted "Public Health, Not Corporate Wealth" and "Pills cost pennies, greed costs lives!" right outside the heavily-guarded private entrance to this invitation-only conference, on the executives' Noon lunch break. Chants and signs also included: "Gilead's profits are rising, Hep-C patients are dying!" and, with reference to prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, "No Execution By Medical Mistreatment!" and "Jail Drug Profiteers, Jail 'Em All! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!"
The Reaction Inside the Conference,
and the Anger Outside
We thought we had induced some indigestion, and sure enough, we had! We were told by one journalist covering the conference that the demonstration had really shaken them up. Reaction inside the conference was immediate. Of course, we (protestors & patients) weren't allowed in to hear this, but according to the report, "Drug Makers Dismiss Outrage Over High Prices As 'Abomination'," from Stat News (12 January), because of our demonstration...
"(It) wasn't surprising that during a panel discussion here Monday, a Gilead executive was asked how he lives with himself. Gregg Alton, the [Gilead Sciences] executive vice president for corporate and medical affairs, joked that he goes running. Then his tone turned serious as he talked about research, innovation, and the value of life-saving new drugs. 'I sleep quite well,' he concluded."
Anger At Drug Companies is Called ... an "Abomination!"
Even more outrageous was the following from a conference participant: "Public anger at drug companies is 'an abomination'"! The speaker was Ron Cohen, chairman of the big industry group BIO (allegedly "the world's largest biotechnology trade association" https://www.bio.org). All the talk about pharma profiteering is "a perversion of reality," according to Cohen.
Protest is an abomination?! Anger over big pharma profiteering is a perversion of reality?! The truth is millions of Hep-C sufferers are being denied the curative treatment because they cannot afford it, or their health plans refuse to cover it due to its cost; or because they are prisoners--Mumia Abu-Jamal among them--who are denied it because prison administrations refuse to supply it until they are deathly sick! This is an abomination! Health care for all is a right, but not for these greed-driven big corporate executives!
"Eye-Popping" Price Tags:
Big Pharma Price Gouging Runs Amok!
Many drug makers besides Gillead--Pfizer, Ely Lilly, Amgen, Allergan and Vanda Pharmaceuticals, among many others--have raised prices recently, according to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. "And a slew of new drugs have hit the market with eye-popping price tags: cancer drugs at more than $11,000 a month; cholesterol drugs at more than $14,000 a year," according to the Stat News piece. "Then there's Martin Shkreli, the pharma executive who bought up a decades-old drug and hiked the price 5,000 percent, turning himself into a target of nationwide protests before he was arrested last month on securities fraud charges." (http://www.statnews.com/2016/01/12/public-outrage-drug-prices/)
All this comes in addition to the already over-the-top high drug prices in the profit-driven US "health" system, which is more costly than in virtually any other country! As protest coordinator Jack Heyman pointed out, "Shrekli should have been arrested for profiteering. But in capitalist America, profiteering is not illegal." Where is the perversion, if not in this system, in which profit is god, and the rest of us--the working masses--are sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed?!
Mumia's Radio Commentary, "Medications for the Money, Not Patients," 06 January 2016, deals with the outrageous profiteering of Gilead Sciences in its pricing for the Hepatitis-C cure. The commentary was to have been played at the rally, but technical difficulties prevented it. It can be heard on the Prison Radio site, at: http://www.prisonradio.org/media/audio/mumia/medications-money-not-patients-221-mumia-abu-jamal
Our Demonstration Was Fired Up
Speakers, besides Carole Seligman, included Dr Dianne Sylvestre, Executive Director, and Orlando Chavez and Ana Turetsky of the OASIS Clinic; Dick Becker of the ANSWER Coalition, which provided the sound system; Gerald Sanders of the Oscar Grant Committee; Marsha Feinland of the Peace and Freedom Party; and Robin Roth of the Hep-C Task Force of SF. The Single Payer Now group, along with numerous others also supported this demonstration with their signs and banners. Jack Heyman, ILWU longshoreman (retired) and member of both the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, led the demonstration. A video by Labor Video Project can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8i7pCEMScw
Angela Davis' Comment
Former political prisoner Angela Davis, who was on a speaking tour, sent the following message to the demonstration:
"It is more important than ever to join the campaign both to free Mumia and to protest the fact that capitalist profit is ranked as far more important than human health. Mumia 's health situation demands that we take action immediately. As we know, Mumia has Hepatits C – along with 10,000 other prisoners in Pennsylvania and approximately 500,000 all over the U.S. They are not receiving treatment because the pharmaceutical companies producing drugs that are capable of curing Hep C value profit over human health.
Mumia continues to struggle against [the] prison industrial complex and the larger capitalist system. It is up to us to Free Mumia and to eventually abolish the prison industrial complex Free Mumia Free Them all!"
No Execution By Medical Mistreatment!
Mumia Abu-Jamal, the world's best-known political prisoner, like 10,000 prisoners in Pennsylvania (where Mumia is incarcerated for a crime he did not commit), and at least 700,000 other US prisoners, suffers from a debilitating Hepatitis-C infection which is not being properly treated by prison administrations.
The LAC's signs saying "No Execution By Medical Mistreatment," referred to the fact that the Pennsylvania police/prison complex have been trying to kill Mumia since 1981, when they found him, and shot him almost fatally at a crime scene with which he had no involvement! On death row and beyond, the authorities have been trying to kill Mumia. Hugo "Yogi Bear" Pinell, one of the longest serving and most brutally treated political prisoners in the US, was set up and murdered in 2015. This is what they are trying to do to Mumia now, by medical mistreatment, and if that fails, by other means! Mumia must be freed from prison!
Support the Prison Radio Legal Fund for Mumia's Case!
The LAC linked this struggle with the potentially precedent-setting court case of Mumia versus the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (Abu-Jamal v. Kerestes), which seeks injunctive relief for immediate treatment with the new (Harvoni) curative medication for Hepatitis-C. Currently, Mumia is being treated with a bogus heat-lamp therapy for his painful body-wide skin inflammation, while being denied treatment for the hepatitis, which is the cause of this and all his symptoms.
Mumia is the first one to point out that prisoners throughout the US are, like him, not being properly treated for this debilitating and always fatal disease. A victory for Mumia in this suit could extend a precedent throughout the prison system. The lawyers for Mumia in this case are supported through a fund organized by Prison Radio, the organization which publishes Mumia's regular commentaries. We urge you to help! Go to www.prisonradio.org for more information, and to donate.
Mumia Must Be Free!
Like so many other prisoners, Mumia needs to receive the life-saving cure for Hep-C. And, as an innocent political prisoner, framed for a crime he did not commit, he must be free. But like Leonard Peltier and other political prisoners who are targeted by the state at all its levels, from local police through state and national politicians and the Justice Department itself, Mumia needs a mass mobilization and workers' struggle to free him from this unjust incarceration. In 1995 masses mobilized to stop the planned execution of Mumia, and in 1999, Oakland teachers, and West Coast longshore workers set an example by conducting labor actions to free Mumia, which included the shutting down of all West Coast ports! Today, with Mumia's life at stake, labor and the community need to build a mass mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Public Health, Not Corporate Wealth!
No Execution By Medical Mistreatment!
Free and Proper treatment for All Hep-C Prisoners Now!
Jail Drug Profiteers, Not Mumia!
Mumia Is Innocent! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
This message is from:
The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
SUPPORTERS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL,AND FREE QUALITY HEALTH CARE FOR ALL:
The Oasis Clinic in Oakland, CA, which treats patients with Hepatitis-C (HCV), demands an end to the outrageous price-gouging of Big Pharma corporations, like Gilead Sciences, which hike-up the cost for essential, life-saving medications such as the cure for the deadly Hepatitis-C virus, in order to reap huge profits. The Oasis Clinic's demand is:
PUBLIC HEALTH, NOT CORPORATE WEALTH!
PUBLIC HEALTH, NOT CORPORATE WEALTH!
IMMEDIATE AND FREE TREATMENT FOR ALL HCV-INFECTED PRISONERS!
NO EXECUTION BY MEDICAL NEGLECT!
JAIL DRUG PROFITEERS, FREE MUMIA!
This message from:
Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610 • www.laboractionmumia.org
06 January 2016
Mumia Is Innocent! Free Mumia!
URGENT UPDATE: PA JUDGE IMMEDIATELY DISMISSED MAJOR TILLERY'S LAWSUIT AS "FRIVOLOUS." MAJOR WILL FIGHT THIS IN FEDERAL COURT!
MAJOR TILLERY SUES PA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
First Amendment Lawsuit Against Retaliation For Fighting for Medical Treatment For Mumia Abu-Jamal and All Prisoners
Major Tillery, his daughter, Kamillah and his two granddaughters:
When Drone Whistleblowers are Under Attack,
What Do We Do?
STAND UP, FIGHT BACK!
We honor Stephan, Michael, Brandon and Cian!
These four former ex-drone pilots have courageously spoken out publicly against the U.S. drone assassination program. They have not been charged with any crime, yet the U.S. government is retaliating against these truth-tellers by freezing all of their bank and credit card accounts. WE MUST BACK THEM UP!
Listen to them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43z6EMy8T28
PLEASE HELP THEM:
1. Sign up on this support network:
2. Sign this petition NOW:
3. Call and email officials TODAY, listed below and on FB site.
4. Ask your organization if they would join our network.
Statement of Support for Drone Whistleblowers
(Code Pink Women for Peace: East Bay, Golden Gate, and S.F. Chapters 11.28.15)
Code Pink Women for Peace support the very courageous actions of four former US drone operators, Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland, and Stephan Lewis, who have come under increasing attack for disclosing information about "widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterize the drone program." As truth tellers, they stated in a public letter to President Obama that the killing of innocent civilians has been one of the most "devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world."* These public disclosures come only after repeated attempts to work privately within official channels failed.
Despite the fact that none of the four has been charged with criminal activity, all had their bank accounts and credit cards frozen. This retaliatory response by our government is consistent with the extrajudicial nature of US drone strikes.
We must support these former drone operators who have taken great risks to stop the drone killing. Write or call your US Senators, your US Representatives, President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan demanding that Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland, and Stephan Lewis be applauded, not punished, for revealing the criminal and extrajudicial nature of drone strikes that has led to so many civilian deaths.
URGENT: Sign and Share NOW! Drone Whistleblower Protection Petition
Contacting your Government
- White House comment line: 202-456-1111
- Email President Obama: firstname.lastname@example.org and cc email@example.com
- White House switchboard: 202-456-1414 for telephone numbers of your Senators and Representatives.
- Email your Senators and Representatives:
-Contact Ashton Carter Secretary of Defense: Go to http://www.defense.gov/About-DoD/Biographies/BiographyView/Article/602689 and select appropriate icon.
- Contact John Brennan, CIA Director: Go to
https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/leadership/john-o-brennan.html and select appropriate icon.
For more information on the 4 Drone Whistleblowers:
(Must see Democracy Now interview with the 4 drone operators)
Code Pink Women for Peace: firstname.lastname@example.org
Save Ashraf Fayadh
Palestinian poet sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia.
Ashraf Fayadh, Palestinian refugee poet and artist living in Saudi Arabia, has been sentenced to death by a Saudi court, on charges of apostasy or abandoning his faith in Islam. The charges appear to be based on his poetry and writing and also maybe a form of retaliation for posting an online video showing Saudi religious police lashing a man in public.
Fayadh is a Palestinian refugee who was born in Saudi Arabia and has become a leading member of the young Saudi art scene. He was arrested in January 2014, his identity documents confiscated, and held for a lengthy period without charge. He was then sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes; after he appealed; he was re-tried last month and sentenced to death. He did not have legal representation.
Fayadh is being sentenced to death after having been jailed for more than 22 months in the Saudi city of Abha without clear legal charges beyond "insulting the Godly self" and having "ideas that do not suit the Saudi society." These charges are based on the complaint of a reader's interpretation of Fayadh's 2008 poetry collection titled, Instructions Within.
"According to Fayadh's friends, when the police failed to prove that his poetry was atheist propaganda, they began berating him for smoking and having long hair," reported the Guardian. Fayadh said his poetry book, Instructions Within, is "just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee…about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God."
This is not the first time that Saudi authorities have arrested Ashraf Fayadh. The poet was detained before after a Saudi citizen filed a complaint with the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice accusing Fayadh of having "misguided and misguiding thoughts." Fayadh was bailed out of jail at the time, only to get arrested again. According to sources close to Fayadh, the poet has been denied both visitation and legal representation rights.
Amnesty international stated, "We condemn these acts of intimidation targeting Ashraf Fayadh as part of a wider campaign inciting hate against writers and using Islam to justify oppression and to crush free speech. We express our solidarity with Fayadh, hoping to increase support for the poet as well as pressure to release him. Our efforts should come together to ensure the proliferation of free speech and personal freedoms. We specifically call on Saudi intellectuals to express solidarity with Fayadh against Takfiris' intimidation practices meant to silence poets, writers, and artists like him. Let the flag of creativity fly free and remain innovative. Remaining silent towards Fayadh's detention is an insult to knowledge, literature, culture, and thought as well as to freedom and human rights."
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network joins the call for the immediate freedom of Ashraf Fayadh. His imprisonment, persecution and death sentence by the Saudi regime reflects the deeply reactionary and far-right role played by the Saudi regime in the region—alongside its close imperial partners in the United States, Canada and Europe—that threatens Palestinian and Arab culture, life, and movements and works to block and suppress any struggle for liberation.
One hundred Arab intellectuals have called for Fayadh's release and so far over 10, 000 people have signed an AI petition to save his life. Please sign and share the petition. https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Amnesty_international_Save_the_palestinian_poet_and_artist_Ashraf_Fayadh/?tUPvwdb
To take further action:
1. Call the Saudi Embassy in your area and demand freedom for Ashraf Fayadh. In the United States, call 202-342-3800. In Canada, call 613-237-4100. Find the embassy in your country here: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/saudi-arabia
2. Protest at the Saudi Embassy in your area for freedom for Ashraf Fayadh. Print signs and materials, and gather outside the Saudi embassy with Palestine rights activists, artists and others to demand his freedom. See the list of Saudi embassies here: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/saudi-arabia
3. Contact your government officials. The Saudi regime is a close partner of the United States, Canadian and various European governments. Demand that your government pressure the Saudi regime to release Fayadh. In Canada, Call the office of the Foreign Minister, Stéphane Dion, at 613-996-5789 and demand Canada pressure Saudi Arabia to release Fayadh, or email: email@example.com. In the U.S., call the White House (202-456-1111) and the U.S. State Department (202-647-9572); demand the U.S. pressure Saudi Arabia to release Fayadh. In the EU, contact your Member of the European Parliament—you can find your MEP here:
Please also write letters, Facebook posts, emails or send Facebook messages to your local politicians, newspapers and friends to publicize this dire case and spread the information about the situation of Ashraf Fayadh.
Information from Amnesty International, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and AVAAZ.
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
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
For Immediate Release – Thursday, October 29, 2015
Solitary Prisoners' Lawyers Slam CDCR for Sleep Deprivation
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
SAN FRANCISCO – Yesterday, lawyers for prisoners in the class action case Ashker v. Brown submitted a letter condemning Pelican Bay prison guards' "wellness checks," which have widely been viewed as sleep deprivation. The letter was submitted to United States Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas, and calls on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to put an end to the checks.
Last month, prisoners achieved a historic victory in the settlement of Ashker v. Brown where the indefinite long term solitary confinement was effectively ended in California, with Magistrate Judge Vadas currently monitoring implementation of the settlement terms.
The guards at Pelican bay Security Housing Units have been conducting disruptive cell checks every 30 minutes around the clock for three months, causing prisoners widespread sleep disruption. The process is loud and according to prisoners, "the method and noise from the checks is torture."
Attorneys representing Pelican Bay SHU prisoners have just completed extensive interviews with prisoners who demand that "the every 30-minute checks have to be stopped or people are going to get sick or worse." In addition, they report that regular prison programs have been negatively impacted.
"To sleep is a fundamental human right," said Anne Weills, a member of the prisoners' legal team and one of the attorneys who conducted the interviews with prisoners in Pelican Bay. "To take away such a basic human right amounts to severe torture, adding to the already torturous conditions of being in solitary confinement."
Most prisoners report low energy, exhaustion and fatigue. Most state that they have trouble concentrating. They try to read, but they nod off and/or can't remember what they have read. Their writing is much slower ("I can't think to write"), and describe the constant welfare checks as having a negative impact on their mental state.
While this recent attorney survey was specifically focusing on sleep deprivation and its effects, prisoners volunteered information about the negative impact of these frequent checks: yard policy and practice has reduced access to recreation, access to showers has been reduced, programs and meals are being delayed, and property for those newly transferred to Pelican Bay is still being delayed and withheld.
Sleep deprivation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Prisoners and their attorneys are demanding that these checks be halted.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
Albert Woodfox, Angola Inmate, Can Be Tried 3rd Time, Court Rules
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
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) Cleveland Is Accused of 'Blatant Dodge' for Not Paying After Verdicts
2) Sixty-Two People Now Have a Greater Net Worth Than Half the World's Population
January 18, 2016
As the world's wealthy and powerful gather this week in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, research has revealed the richest 1 percent of the world's population now own more than the rest of the population combined.
An Economy for the 1%, a report by anti-poverty NGO Oxfam, said although the number of people living in extreme poverty halved between 1990 and 2010, the average annual income of the poorest 10 percent has risen by less than $3 a year in the past quarter of a century.
An even starker figure was the charity's finding that just 62 people — 53 of them men — own as much wealth as half the world's population. This figure has fallen from 388 five years ago.
The wealth of the poorest half of the world's population — more than 3.6 billion people — has fallen by a trillion dollars (41 percent) since 2010. Meanwhile the value of the richest 62 people has increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76 trillion.
"Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate," the report said.
There has been some criticism of Oxfam's figures, as the charity uses individuals' net worth to make its calculations — assets minus debts. This means that a person living on a few dollars a day who has no debt ends up being classed as wealthier than a person who has a reasonable income but hundreds of thousands of dollars in mortgage and student debt.
But while such anecdotes were eye-catching and made sense on an individual level, "at a macro level they are not relevant, they are not powerful," Deborah Hardoon, a lead author of the report, told VICE News. "They do not affect the trend we are highlighting which is the fact that the vast majority of wealth goes straight to the top."
Having a lot of debt could seriously impact an individual's well-being, Hardoon added. "It's necessary to have a certain degree of security if you're faced with a shock such as a medical bill, or a poor harvest," she said. "if you have zero or negative wealth then your ability and robustness to respond is very poor."
The really major issue was what is being done with all wealth at the top, said Hardoon. "You only have to look at the money in lobbying and financing to know that extreme wealth and extreme influence go hand in hand. The extremely wealthy have power to influence policies, economic systems, and environmental policy that affect all of us."
Oxfam also highlighted the "global spider's web" of tax havens that allows this wealth to stays out of reach of ordinary citizens and governments. Its report pointed out that 9 out of 10 of this year's World Economic Forum corporate partners have a presence in at least one tax haven.
It is estimated that $7.6 trillion of individuals' wealth — a twelfth of the global total — sits offshore, said the report. If tax were paid on the income that wealth generates, an extra $190 billion would be available to governments every year, it said.
The report notes that corporate investment in tax havens almost quadrupled between 2000 and 2014.
"Tax havens are at the heart of a global system that allows large corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying their fair share, depriving governments, rich and poor, of the resources they need to provide vital public services and tackle rising inequality," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America.
"It's a major wake-up call," said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, which represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors. "Inequality is one of the biggest threats to economic well-being and it needs to be addressed."
3) Mario Woods protesters interrupt Mayor Lee's speech during MLK event
January 19, 2016
The voices came from the dark as Mayor Ed Lee stood in the spotlight.
Several members of the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition began to shout over the mayor's speech at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where hundreds had gathered in honor of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We want to make sure that you know that your police chief needs to be fired," protester Sellassie Blackwell shouted.
Many protesters expressed that if King were alive today, the trailblazing civil rights leader would stand with their cause to get justice for Woods and others in the black community they say have been victims of excessive force and police brutality.
In that regard, the coalition has called for the firing of Police Chief Greg Suhr and the criminal prosecution of five police officers who shot and killed Woods, 26, in December. They also want an independent investigation into the fatal shooting.
"It's more than just police officers it's also about affordability," Lee told the crowd before his voice was again drowned out by the coalition. "It's about a city that represents and builds housing for its residents."
But Blackwell and the other Woods supporters, including local rapper Ilyich Sato — known to many as Equipto — told the mayor that King would not approve of his actions. The coalition invited Lee to speak with them and promised to hassle him until he listened to their demands.
"I appreciate you're listening to me," Lee said to protesters as they shouted over him. "May I speak?" Lee then thanked the audience and left the stage to applause.
Outside protesters began to chant, "Fire Chief Suhr," and waited for the mayor to try and exit through a side door. But he never came out.
The coalition wrote a letter to Lee that they planned to hand him. A copy of the note obtained by the San Francisco Examiner read: "How can you continue to support Chief Suhr? If his long and sordid history is not enough, how much more will it take before you fire Chief Suhr?"
With the letter, the coalition attached a list of the scandals in which Suhr has been involved, including the racist text messages sent between officers under his command and the various men who have been killed while Suhr was chief.
The Interfaith Council meeting was but one of several disruptions caused by protesters throughout the holiday Monday. During the early evening, protesters shut down of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.
Third Street in the South of Market neighborhood was closed to traffic while demonstrators, including Officers for Justice, marched down the middle of the road near Mission Street.
"We're outraged about the last ruling of the textgate scandal," said San Francisco police Sgt. Yolanda Williams of Officers For Justice.
At Yerba Buena Gardens, community members showed their support for Pastor Yul Dorn, who was evicted from his home last Thursday after living there for 20 years.
"It is absolutely criminal what our system is allowing these spectators and the mayor to do to people, especially to people of color," Dorn said. "We're low hanging fruit. We don't have the money to get high-priced lawyers, they do. And so we basically just have to be displaced."
Monday morning, Sato spoke out loud during another public celebration of King at a San Francisco Labor Council breakfast.
A line of police prevented coalition protesters from entering the Holiday Inn on Van Ness Avenue and Pine Street around 8 a.m., where the event was underway.
But several protesters from the coalition had purchased tickets to the breakfast in advance. Between speakers, Sato hopped up stage and took over the microphone, he said.
Sato's speech prompted an organizer with the Labor Council to invite the rest of the Woods protesters, who were stuck outside the hotel behind a police line, inside the meeting.
"We were outside speaking our demands to police officers who were laughing at us," Yayne Abeba, a member of the coalition, told the crowd at the meeting.
Once inside, the protesters were invited on stage by Rev. Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Methodist Church, who told them, "You have a great cause. Don't go against your own."
"Cecil invited us all up to share our story," said Felicia Jones of SEIU 1021 and the Woods coalition. "It was powerful."
Blackwell read the coalition's demands to the unions and elected officials that filled the audience.
"We came in as the opposition," Blackwell said. "And we ended up leaving as the highlight."
4) The World's Inequality Countdown
Common Dreams, January 19, 2016
Welcome to the world's inequality countdown. In 2010, some 388 people owned as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population. Jump to 2014 and that 388 is down to 85 people. In 2015 the figure was 80 and now today Oxfam has revealed that 62 rich individuals own as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people.
If this deeply alarming inequality clock continues to tick as fast, by 2020, a mere 11 people could have the same wealth as half the world. That's not even a dozen.
This extreme inequality is not a sign of a healthy global economy as all the wealth is being sucked up by those at the dizzying top. Trickle-down economics is a fallacy—this is not just Oxfam's view but that of the World Bank also. The rich can no longer pretend their wealth benefits the rest of us. It doesn't: it harms us. The only thing that's "trickling down" is inequality, and powerlessness.
The consequences of this extreme economic inequality are far reaching. If inequality is not dealt with, we could see more social unrest across the world, a brake on growth and all the work that has been done in the last quarter century on poverty halted—potentially reversed.
Unstable unequal world
What this means to you and me is a more unstable, unequal world with fewer people able to escape poverty. The world's most unequal region is still Latin America, despite income inequality there falling in recent years.
In 2014, the richest ten percent of people in Latin America had amassed 71 percent of the region's wealth. If this trend continues, according to Oxfam's calculations, in only six years the region's richest one percent will have more wealth than the 99 percent.
Meanwhile, inequality in Asia has risen by as much as 18 percent since the mid-1990s. Had this rise not happened, 240 million people across Asia could have escaped poverty.
In Africa, four million children's lives could be saved each year if 30 percent of Africa's wealth was not held in tax havens. This means an estimated $14-billion is lost in tax revenues each year, a sum that could pay for life-saving healthcare for African mothers and children, and employ enough teachers to get every African child into school.
Across the world, Oxfam is seeing devastating impacts on the people we work with. But it doesn't have to be this way. Inequality is not inevitable.
Oxfam has done the analysis and we have some of the solutions. What we need—what the world needs—is more action on dealing with extreme inequality and there has been some progress, but not enough.
In 2015, we saw the Sustainable Development Goals on extreme poverty and inequality enshrined. We also saw G20 governments agreeing on measures to curb tax dodging by multinational companies, but these reforms don't go far enough in ensuring governments receive the taxes they are due. So more does need to happen, especially as tax havens are becoming an ever more common way of doing business.
The leaders of some of these multinational companies will be attending this week's World Economic Forum in Davos. Oxfam has found that nine out of ten WEF corporate partners have a presence in at least one tax haven and it is estimated that tax dodging by multinational corporations across the world costs developing countries at least $100-billion every year. Corporate investment in tax havens almost quadrupled between 2000 and 2014.
Era of tax havens
That's why I am going to Davos to challenge governments, companies and elites to play their part in ending the era of tax havens, which is fuelling economic inequality and preventing hundreds-of-millions of people lifting themselves out of poverty.
And it is also why Oxfam has released "An Economy for the 1%" just before this year's Davos. This research has led to tax havens being at the top of our Inequality To Do list.
Tax may be boring to some, but the figures are eye watering. Roughly $7.6 trillion of individuals' wealth sits offshore. If tax were paid on the incomes this wealth generates, we are looking at an extra $190-billion for governments to spend on services that are essential for a functioning society, such as schools and hospitals.
We need to end the era of tax havens if we are to stop the inequality countdown. For the benefit of all of us, our governments—that are meant to represent our interests—need to shun the vested interests of the richest by stopping the race to the bottom on tax and pulling back the curtains on shady financial dealings.
Winnie Byanyima is the executive director of Oxfam International.
5) Giving Voice to France's Poorest Youth, With Rhymes and Beats
6) Anger in a Palestinian Town Feeds a Cycle of Violence
7) Yemen: Africans Cross Into Chaos
8) Flint water crisis: emails reveal governor Snyder informed of problems a year agoThursday 21 January 2016
Michigan governor Rick Snyder was informed of water quality issues in the city of Flint's supply as early as February 2015, according to emails released to the public on Wednesday, but his administration struck a dismissive tone, saying the problems would eventually "fade in the rearview".
A background memo sent to the governor on 1 February dismissed the pleas of Flint's then mayor Dayne Walling for state assistance, saying that the mayor had "seized on public panic … to ask the state for loan forgiveness and more money for infrastructure improvement".
Flint's water supply was contaminated by lead, poisoning thousands of residents, after the source of the city's drinking water was switched from Detroit to the Flint river in April 2014. Water from the Flint River had for months corroded lead from the inside of water pipes in thousands of households across the city.
The memo, which was among 274 pages of emails related to the city's crisis, also said that it was "clear that folks in Flint are concerned about other aspects of their water – taste, smell and color being among the top complaints", but said that the Safe Drinking Water Act "does not regulate aesthetic values of water". The words "does not" were underlined.
Though the February memo does not specifically mention lead contamination, it does discuss the water quality problems in Flint extensively, including how the city's water had dangerously high levels of a contaminant called total trihalomethanes, which can lead to liver or kidney issues. Exposure wasn't a "top health concern", the memo stated, as it only poses "a public health concern with chronic, long-term exposure".
It also talked about corrosion inside of cast-iron pipes – the same process which led to the lead contamination – which is mentioned as a cause of "the brown water that angry residents were holding up in jugs for media cameras last week". The memo continued: "discoloration is not an indicator of water quality or water safety, but we recognize that nobody likes it."
According to David Murray, a spokesman for Snyder, the 1 February email was part of preparations for a press conference to announce additional state resources to help address concerns about the odour and colour of the water in Flint. Murray added that the governor "did not become aware of the severity of the problem with lead until October 1", and that when he did he responded "aggressively the next day".
The 1 February memo to Snyder concluded: "Another key thing to remember is that once the city connects to the new [water] system in 2016, this issue will fade in the rearview", referring to a planned change to Lake Huron as a source.
But later that month, an EPA employee raised concerns for the first time with the Michigan department of environmental quality about the city's water source, the Flint river, and high levels of lead in water – the beginnings of a crisis Snyder wouldn't publicly acknowledge until several months later.
Soon after the memo was sent to Snyder, researchers and journalists uncovered a fact that is now well-established: as a result of the state's failure to properly apply federal standards in treating the Flint river, thousands of residents have been exposed to lead, a neurotoxin that can produce long-term health effects, particularly in young children.
Even then, the dismissive approach taken toward Flint's water quality was prevalent among key environmental officials. In a 31 August email sent by a state environmental employee to EPA officials, the growing concerns over lead in Flint were severely downplayed as an issue the city was "probably not focusing on".
"[The] city has bigger issues on their agenda right now," the state employee wrote in the email, which was obtained by the Guardian through a public records request, separately from the public release on Wednesday.
On 26 September, Snyder's then chief of staff Dennis Muchmore emailed the governor to say that Flint's water "certainly has occasional less than savory aspects like color", but said that the "anti everything group" had turned to the lead content, and that "of course, some of the Flint people respond by looking for someone to blame".
A local pediatrician eventually uncovered elevated blood lead levels in Flint children after the city started using the Flint river. But officials vehemently disputed the findings until, in October, Snyder said the situation was far graver than he initially understood, and announced a $12m plan to switch Flint back to its previous supply with Detroit.
Snyder, a Republican and former businessman, has said he accepts full responsibility for the crisis, emphasising that point in his state of the state speech on Tuesday.
"We will not stop working for the people of Flint until every person has clean water, every single day, no matter what," the governor said on Tuesday.
In the speech, the governor promised a $28m additional aid package to expedite recovery efforts in Flint and said he would release his emails from 2014 and 2015 on the city – but not 2013, when the decision was made to use the local river.
President Barack Obama, who this week met the newly elected Flint mayor, approved Snyder's request to declare a federal emergency in the city and provide an additional $5m in financial assistance. The governor has also activated the national guard and requested help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"If I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself that my kids' health could be at risk," Obama said in Detroit on Wednesday. "And that's why over the weekend I declared a federal emergency in Flint to send more resources on top of what we've already put on the ground."
9) As Water Problems Grew, Officials Belittled Complaints From Flint
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