Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
B. ARTICLES IN FULL
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
Socialist Action presents:
Debating the 2016 Presidential Election
Two debates with several parties represented
Special guest Glen Ford, Executive Editor, Black Agenda Report
For Bernie Sanders: Tom Gallagher, Chair SF Progressive Democrats of America; former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives; author, "The Primary Route: How the 99 Percent Take On the Military Industrial Complex"
And Peter Olney (Saturday only), Retired Organizing Director, ILWU; Labor organizer in Massachusetts and California for over 40 years. Activist, Labor for Bernie national network.
For Peace & Freedom Party: Marsha Feinland, Vice Chair, Peace & Freedom Party, four-time P&F candidate for U.S. Senate
For Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein: Laura Wells,Green Party Alameda County; former Green Party candidate for CA governor
For Party for Socialism and Liberation, Gloria La Riva, PSL candidate for president; Organizer ANSWER Coalition
For Socialist Action: Jeff Mackler, former Socialist Action candidate for U.S. Senate; Nat'l Secretary, Socialist Action; Administrative Committee, United National Antiwar Coalition
Oakland: Friday, Feb. 5, 7:00-9:30 pm
390 27th Street (Between Broadway and Telegraph - 10 min. walk from 19th Street/Broadway BART)
San Francisco: Saturday, Feb. 6, 7:00- 9:30 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church
1187 Franklin St. at Geary
Sponsor: Socialist Action Party
Initial co-sponsors: Green Party of Alameda County; Peace and Freedom Party; Bay Area Solidarity
For information or tables at $20 contact: 510-268-9429 or email@example.com
Admission: $20-$10 sliding scale. No one turned away for lack of funds.
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.
UNAC has joined with others in support of the following call to action for Feb. 13 - 21.
Oppose Islamophobia, Racism, Deportations and War
Unity and Solidarity Call to Action
In the name of all humanity we say:
Yes to Unity, Solidarity, Justice and Peace!
NO to hate and fear mongering.
We will join together in a week of coordinated protests, February 13 – 21 across the country. Now is the time to organize in your community, school or place of worship.
Stand with us against hate and persecution in all their manifestations.
The corporate media and some politicians on both sides of the aisle believe their interests can be advanced by scapegoating the poor and those oppressed by racism, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant prejudice, mass deportations, and the exclusion of refugees fleeing endless U.S.-supported wars abroad.
Hate, fear mongering and war are increasingly publicly promoted for heinous ends and especially to divide the victims of the ever-deepening social cutbacks government austerity policies inflict.
We say no to Islamophobia and all forms of religious prejudice. We denounce the endless racist police murders of unarmed members of the nation's Black and poor communities. We reject militarily-sealed borders and mass deportations of Latino people.
We strive for the unity and solidarity of all who cherish human and democratic rights.
Click to Endorse this Call:
For more information:
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) When the Water Turned Brown
FLINT, Mich. — Standing at a microphone in September holding up a baby bottle, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a local pediatrician, said she was deeply worried about the water. The number of Flint children with elevated levels of lead in their blood had risen alarmingly since the city changed its water supply the previous year, her analysis showed.
Within hours of Dr. Hanna-Attisha's news conference, Michigan state officials pushed back — hard. A Department of Health and Human Services official said that the state had not seen similar results and that it was working with a much larger set of data. A Department of Environmental Quality official was quoted as saying the pediatrician's remarks were "unfortunate," described the mood over Flint's water as "near-hysteria" and said, as the authorities had insisted for months, that the water met state and federal standards.Dr. Hanna-Attisha said she went home that night feeling shaky and sick, her heart racing. "When a state with a team of 50 epidemiologists tells you you're wrong," she said, "how can you not second-guess yourself?"
No one now argues with Dr. Hanna-Attisha's findings. Not only has she been proved right, but Gov. Rick Snyder publicly thanked her on Tuesday "for bringing these issues to light."
Nearly a year and a half after the city started using water from the long-polluted Flint River and soon after Dr. Hanna-Attisha's news conference, the authorities reversed course, acknowledging that the number of children with high lead levels in this struggling, industrial city had jumped, and no one should be drinking unfiltered tap water. Residents had been complaining about the strange smells and colors pouring from their taps ever since the switch.
Already this month, federal and state investigations have been announced, National Guard troops were distributing thousands of bottles of water and filters, and Mr. Snyder was calling for millions in state dollars to fix a situation he acknowledged was a "catastrophe."
Yet interviews, documents and emails show that as every major decision was made over more than a year, officials at all levels of government acted in ways that contributed to the public health emergency and allowed it to persist for months. The government continued on its harmful course even after lead levels were found to be rising, and after pointed, detailed warnings came from a federal water expert, a Virginia Tech researcher and others.
For more than a year after an emergency manager — appointed by Mr. Snyder to oversee the city — approved a switch from the Detroit system to water from the Flint River to save money, workers assigned to manage the city's water system failed to lower lead risks with a simple solution: adding chemicals to prevent old pipes from corroding and leaching metals like lead. Disagreements and miscommunication between state and local officials about what federal law requires of so-called corrosion control measures further delayed fixing the problem, the documents show.
"This could have been nipped in the bud before last summer," said Daniel Giammar, an environmental engineer at Washington University in St. Louis.
The testing of homes in Flint for lead, too, was insufficient and flawed, some experts say. Officials failed to focus on the many homes with lead service lines that were most likely to be tainted, instead looking at wider problems that would have muted the calls of alarm.
The city authorities also urged, and state regulators allowed, methods of sampling that experts say had been shown to underestimate lead levels. Residents were advised, for example, to run their water before taking samples, a move that tends to flush out concentrations of lead particles that might have accumulated.
And through it all, officials persisted in playing down and dismissing the concerns of Flint residents — one referred to concerned residents groups as "anti-everything" — and authoritatively vouching for the water's purity, even as they themselves were debating whether it was pure.
Three months before Dr. Hanna-Attisha voiced her fears and findings, a regulations manager for the federal Environmental Protection Agency had sent a detailed interim report to the state and federal authorities that included unambiguous warnings like this: "Recent drinking water sample results indicate the presence of high lead results in the drinking water, which is to be expected in a public water system that is not providing corrosion control treatment."
It is unclear how many people have had elevated lead levels in their blood over the last year and a half. The state has identified 233 since April 2014, but Dr. Hanna-Attisha said its numbers likely "grossly underestimate" exposure, partly because testing was generally limited to 1- and 2-year-olds until recently. Lead remains traceable in the blood for only about a month after exposure.
As criticisms have mounted, high-ranking officials have resigned, including Howard Croft, Flint's director of public works; Dan Wyant, the state's Environmental Quality director; and Susan Hedman, the E.P.A. regional director.
Dave Murray, a spokesman for Mr. Snyder, issued a statement on Friday calling the crisis "a failure of government — at the local, state and federal levels." He added that the governor was "committed to fixing the problem and addressing the immediate and long-term needs of the people of Flint."
Dr. Hanna-Attisha also cited the wholesale failure of government. "They had the information," she said. "They just weren't looking closely or believing it."
On April 25, 2014, Flint, whose population had dwindled from more than 195,000 in 1960 to fewer than 100,000 people, switched to using the Flint River as its water supply. The city had drawn water from Detroit's system for decades, but it was expensive, and so Flint joined efforts to create a new, regional system that would draw from Lake Huron.
Costs had become a central concern in a city that has lost thousands of auto industry jobs. Fiscal troubles were so significant that the state sent an emergency manager — with ultimate decision-making power — to oversee a recovery. Until the new pipeline to Lake Huron was constructed, the city would take its water from the Flint River, which it had used as a backup.
City leaders toasted the switch with cups of water. Residents were less sure. For years the Flint River had been a dumping ground — for cars and even bodies. Aware of the doubts, the city's first news release on the switch trumpeted state and local officials' assurances.
Then came the odd colors from the tap — greens and browns — and the offensive smells and tastes. Soon there were reports of rashes and clumps of hair falling out. Parts from a General Motors engine plant here were corroding, so the company stopped using Flint's water.
Tammy Loren, a mother of four who rents a home, was having a hard time believing the answers she got about why her sons' skin had itchy rashes. At various times over the last year and a half, she said, their doctors diagnosed scabies, ringworm and other fungal infections, but prescribed medicines never worked. The family even had the home treated by an exterminator, thinking the problem might be fleas.
"The water was brown, and it had a disgusting smell," said Ms. Loren, whose sons are now 14, 12, 11 and 10. "It was like dirt coming out."
For months, Ms. Loren said, she conducted her own research on the Internet and asked plaintive questions on community Facebook pages. Her family started drinking bottled water when it could, but Ms. Loren, who receives federal disability payments for her back and other problems and relies on food stamps, said it was not that often.
"There was times when we couldn't afford it," she said. "We just kept drinking out of the tap."
Through it all, the government reassurances were constant, insistent and unequivocal. "It's a quality, safe product," Mayor Dayne Walling told The Flint Journal in June 2014.
At points, the city's water tested positive for E. coli bacteria, which can cause intestinal illness, and residents were advised to boil their water. City officials pumped extra chlorine into the system to address the bacteria issue, which led to elevated levels of total trihalomethanes, or TTHMs, chemical compounds that may cause health problems after long-term exposure.
A state briefing in February last year acknowledged the TTHM level was "not 'nothing' " but also not an imminent "threat to public health."
In July, Flint sent residents a letter saying it was "pleased to report" the "water is safe."
But officials' efforts to soothe residents about other contaminants seemed to overshadow the growing signs of trouble about lead.
By March 2015, with residents turning up at public events bearing bottles of murky water, the City Council voted to "do all things necessary" to reconnect to Detroit's water system. But the state-appointed emergency manager, Gerald Ambrose, said no. He repeated the official mantra: The water meets state and federal standards. And he noted, once more, that Detroit water was among the most costly in the state.
"Water from Detroit is no safer than water from Flint," Mr. Ambrose said.
Corrosion Control Failure
Behind the scenes, though, officials seemed far less sure.
By the end of February, Miguel Del Toral, the E.P.A. regulations manager who had learned of high lead content in one Flint resident's water, was raising a fundamental question with his state and federal colleagues: What was Flint using to treat the river water to avoid corrosion?
"They are required to have O.C.C.T. in place which is why I was asking what they were using," he wrote in an email on Feb. 27, using the initials for "optimal corrosion control treatment."Surely, the assumption was, the city was adding a chemical to the water to coat its aging pipes and prevent corrosion, since controlling corrosion is required by a federal rule governing lead and copper. The water that Flint had drawn for years via Detroit from Lake Huron had been treated with orthophosphate, a common anti-corrosion additive. And Flint River water is naturally even harder and more corrosive, experts say, than the water the city was buying from Detroit.
An official from Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality answered Mr. Del Toral's inquiry the same day: Flint has "an optimized corrosion control program." But less than two months later, the state said it had been wrong. There actually was no treatment in place in Flint to stop corrosion, a timeline of events provided by the state now shows.
The authorities themselves did not agree on what the federal rules meant. Some state officials believed that testing needed to be done over a year before a new plan could be put in place to block corrosion, documents suggest, while other officials thought the treatment with chemicals needed to start the moment Flint began receiving water from the river.
"We made a mistake," Mr. Wyant, then the state's environmental quality director, said in October. Corrosion controls, he said, "should have been required from the beginning."
The lead issues should have been anticipated long before the city switched water supplies, experts said. "I think that's pretty obvious, in going from having a corrosion inhibitor to not having one, you might have expected to have increased corrosion," said Professor Giammar.
By June, Mr. Del Toral wrote in a memo to state and federal colleagues that Flint had essentially stopped providing treatment used to mitigate lead and copper levels in drinking water, which he called a "major concern from a public health standpoint."
E.P.A. officials contend that they pressed Michigan regulators to take more decisive action after Mr. Del Toral's report, but for months federal officials did little to inform the public of those findings or take decisive action. It was not until Thursday that the federal agency issued an emergency order and assumed oversight of lead testing in Flint.
Flaws in Testing
All along, Flint's water was being tested for lead.
Yet when health officials studied tests showing higher levels of lead in children's blood in the summer of 2014, they suggested that the increases were a result of ordinary seasonal fluctuations. Water samples, too, showed rising levels of lead in the first half of 2015 compared with late 2014, and a Flint Journal data analysis concluded that they were at their highest in 20 years.
There was so much lead found in water at the home of LeeAnne Walters that officials shut her water off in April and temporarily installed a garden hose to carry water from a neighbor's house. Still, state officials noted that the city's levels remained within federal and state standards.
But the water tests themselves were flawed, experts say.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which conducted its own investigation, as did researchers at Virginia Tech, the city was not only advising residents to run their water before collecting a sample, but doing other things to "skew the outcome of its tests to produce favorable results." For example, the A.C.L.U. reported in September, the city retested water from homes found to have low lead levels, but not from homes whose initial levels were high.
The city also appeared to be unsure which houses had lead service lines connecting them to its water distribution system, the report said. Federal law requires cities testing for lead in drinking water to focus on homes with the highest risk for contamination, but the report found no evidence Flint had done so.
Dr. Hanna-Attisha said that after she shared her methodology with the state, it replicated her findings. Mr. Snyder then announced that the state would provide filters and test tap water.
Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor who helped identify and expose Flint's lead problem, said the state "had no sense of urgency at all, nor did E.P.A."
Ms. Loren, the mother of four, said her sons' skin remained irritated, and she is worrying obsessively about their lead levels, particularly that of her 11-year-old, who has learning disabilities.
"My trust in everybody is completely gone, out the door," she said. "We've been lied to so much, and these aren't little white lies. These lies are affecting our kids for the rest of their lives, and it breaks my heart."
Abby Goodnough reported from Flint, and Monica Davey and Mitch Smith from Chicago.
2) Gas Leak in Los Angeles Has Residents Looking Warily Toward Flint
3) Protesters in Haiti Demand That President Quit
4) Crumbling, Destitute Schools Threaten Detroit's Recovery
5) Shocking Development Released About The Grand Jury Involving Tamir Riceby Sinclair Grey
Attorneys for the family of Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot by two Cleveland police officers in November 2014, have been joined by local pastors in renewing their call for a special prosecutor in light of revelations about the grand jury decision last week.
Officials revealed on Wednesday that the grand jury declined to indict police Officers Timothy Leehmann and Frand Garmback, after the fatal shooting of the 12-year-old African-American boy, never took a vote on the decision.
The New York Daily News reported that the panel that decided that the two Cleveland Police Officers were justified in using lethal force in the shooting of Rice, who allegedly grabbed a pellet gun from his waist, never actually took a vote.
Following the announcement, at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day prayer event, local members of the United Pastors in Mission and other clergy demanded that state lawmakers appoint a special prosecutor for all future police-involved shootings.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the attorneys for the Rice family have called for a special prosecutor along with a federal probe into the shooting of Tamir at the Cudell Recreation Center.
The revelation about the grand jury no vote was released in documents from the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office last week. It followed the announcement by prosecutor Tim McGinty last month that Leehman and Garmback would not face criminal charges.
McGinty said that Loehmann was justified in shooting Rice, despite the fact that he was a rookie officer under the training of Garmback, because he "had reason to fear for his life." He added that when Rice grabbed the pellet gun, officer Loehmann feared for not only his safety, but that of others.
After release of the video showing that Loehmann fired the fatal shots within seconds of leaving the police vehicle when he and Garmback arrived on the scene, the case has been watched closely by the whole nation.
In a statement released Wednesday night, calling the announcement "yet another example of the disturbing and troubling way the grand jury process has been handled by the local prosecutor," Rice's family attorney, Earl Ward, said the family believed the jury took a vote.
"By 'no indictment,' we understood that to mean that there was a vote," Ward told the Daily News. "If there was no vote, then we've all been bamboozled," added the attorney who has slammed McGinty's handling of the case for months.
"We've always thought that this was some sort of a charade," Ward continued. "If there was no vote, then it just confirms that."
Although it didn't say if or how the grand jury had voted in the case of the shooting of Rice, a statement from Joe Frolik, spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, included a copy of the decision. The statement was an attempt to describe how grand juries function in the office's investigation into civilians who have suffered at the hands of deadly force used by the police.
"The grand jurors have concluded the investigation into the Nov. 22, 2014, death of Tamir Rice and have declined to issue criminal charges," the grand jury decision said.
"This was an investigative grand jury," Frolik told Cleveland Scene. "This was kind of their role. Sometimes, a grand jury, after its investigation, will decide if there are no votes to be taken on charges."
In a joint statement aimed at prodding the Ohio Legislature into doing something about McGinty and also to appoint a special prosecutor for all future police shootings, the clergy members wrote in a joint statement: "As a result, many in our ranks have completely lost confidence in Mr. McGinty and feel that he has failed us all."
6) With Parole Ruling, Supreme Court Says 'All Children Possess Capacity for Change'
'Bold' decision may chart the way for overhaul of criminal justice system, human rights advocate says
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that people sentenced to life in prison as juveniles should be given the chance to argue for their release—a decision that could chart a "bold new direction" toward justice system reform, a leading human rights group said.
The U.S. is the only country that still sentences minors to life in prison without parole.
In a 6-3 vote Monday, the court said its 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama, which abolished mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles, applies retroactively. That means people still in prison for crimes committed as children will now have the chance to receive new sentencing or an opportunity to argue for their release, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.
The ruling stems from the case of Montgomery v. Louisiana. The plaintiff, Henry Montgomery, was convicted of shooting dead a sheriff's deputy in Baton Rouge in 1963 and sentenced to life in prison at 17 years old; now, at 69, Montgomery is arguing that his rehabilitation in prison should make him eligible for parole, an appeal that was recently rejected by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Monday's decision overturns the state's ruling. In delivering the verdict, Kennedy also echoed an argument long espoused by human rights advocates—that children and minors should never be sentenced to life in prison.
Extending parole eligibility to those who were sentenced as juveniles "would neither impose an onerous burden on the States nor disturb the finality of state convictions," he wrote (pdf). "And it would afford someone like Montgomery, who submits that he has evolved from a troubled, misguided youth to a model member of the prison community, the opportunity to demonstrate the truth of Miller's central intuition—that children who commit even heinous crimes are capable of change."
Since the 2012 decision, most states agreed to review old cases of children sentenced to life in prison. Seven, including Louisiana, refused, arguing that the ruling was not retroactive. Monday's decision sends Montgomery's case back to lower courts.
Amnesty International USA praised the ruling but cautioned that it only constitutes a step toward reform.
"While every other country in the world rejects the punishment of life without parole for children, the U.S. remains the only country that locks up kids and throws away the key," said Jasmine Heiss, Amnesty senior campaigner.
As the Sentencing Project explains (pdf):
"This decision represents an opportunity for the United States to chart a bold new direction toward reform in juvenile justice, and for the U.S. criminal justice system as a whole," Heiss said. "This ruling comes as the United States is grappling with the very real human rights crisis of mass incarceration. It should not stop here."
Most states, not only those affected by Miller, still allow juveniles to be sentenced to life without a chance of parole as long as the sentence is imposed through individual review rather than as a result of a mandatory statute.
Jody Kent Lavy, director and national coordinator at the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, also said, "People told as children that they would leave prison only in a pine box now will have an opportunity to demonstrate that they have changed and are ready to re-enter society. All children possess the capacity for change, and this ruling affirms that when and where a youth committed a crime should not determine whether he or she should die in prison."
Daniel Macallair, executive director of Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice, told the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange that the decision was "the right thing to do."
"The rest of the world has recognized the idea that it's not a good idea to sentence children to die in prison without any hope of release," Macallair said.
Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito dissented.
7) Paying For Poisoned WaterFlint residents were told that their children could be taken away if they don't pay for the city's poison water
TheFreeThoughtProject.com, January 24, 2016
However, the city's government continues to charge people for the poison water and then threatening to foreclose their home or take their children if they refuse to pay. Michigan law states that parents are neglectful if they do not have running water in their home, and if they chose not to pay for water they can't drink anyway, then they could be guilty of child endangerment. Activists in Flint say that some residents have already received similar threats from the government if they refuse to pay their bills.
Flint residents have recently filed two class action lawsuits calling for all water bills since April of 2014 to be considered null and void because of the fact that the water was poisonous.
"We are seeking for the court to declare that all the bills that have been issued for usage of water invalid because the water has not been fit for its intended purpose," said Trachelle Young, one of the attorneys bringing the lawsuit said in court.
"Essentially, the residents have been getting billed for water that they cannot use. Because of that, we do not feel that is a fair way to treat the residents," Young added.
Recent estimates have indicated that it could take up to 15 years and over $60 million to fix the problem, and the residents will be essentially forced to live there until the problem is solved. Despite the fact that the issue is obviously the government's responsibility, they have made it illegal for people to sell their homes because of the fact that they are known to carry contaminated water. Meanwhile, residents are still left to purchase bottled water on their own, in addition to paying their water bill.
Although this problem is finally getting national media attention in Flint, they aren't the only city with contaminated water supplies. In fact, a recent report published by the Guardian showed that public water supplies across the country were experiencing similar issues.
This crisis highlights the many dangers of allowing the government to maintain a monopoly on the water supply and calls attention to the fact that decentralized solutions to water distribution should be a goal that we start working towards.
8) Deforestation Threatens Pygmies, Study Finds
9) Two Abortion Foes Behind Planned Parenthood Videos Are Indicted
10) Supreme Court Upholds Efforts on Managing Electricity Use Through Pricing
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that federal regulators may encourage electricity users like schools, hospitals and shopping centers to reduce consumption at peak times in exchange for price breaks. The regulatory approach, known as "demand response," lowers costs for consumers and lessens the risk of system failures that can cause blackouts.
"That practice arose because wholesale market operators can sometimes — say, on a muggy August day — offer electricity both more cheaply and more reliably by paying users to dial down their consumption than by paying power plants to ramp up their production," Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the majority in the 6-to-2 decision.
Environmental groups welcomed the ruling. "Demand response programs make energy cheaper, ensure the reliability of the grid, and protect our air and water from fossil fuel pollution," Casey Roberts, a lawyer with the Sierra Club, said in a statement.Demand response cuts into the profits of companies that own power plants, which lose money when price spikes are avoided. Business groups and their supporters said the majority had ignored legal principles that should have constrained the regulator, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
"The Supreme Court sends a clear message by ruling in favor of FERC's power demand rule: Energy politics are a game that ignores both the rule of law and states' constitutional authority," Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian group, said in a statement.
The main legal question in the case was whether the commission had overstepped its authority. It oversees wholesale transactions under the Federal Power Act, but the states regulate retail transactions.
Trade groups representing utilities and power suppliers challenged the demand-response regulation, saying it operated at the retail level and so was beyond the reach of federal power.
Justice Kagan rejected that argument, saying that the regulation affected retail sales only incidentally.
"It is a fact of economic life that the wholesale and retail markets in electricity, as in every other known product, are not hermetically sealed from each other," she wrote. "To the contrary, transactions that occur on the wholesale market have natural consequences at the retail level. And so too, of necessity, will FERC's regulation of those wholesale matters."
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined the majority opinion.
Justice Kagan rejected a second argument from the challengers: that even if the commission had the authority to issue the regulation, it had acted arbitrarily in adopting it.
"The commission, not this or any other court, regulates electricity rates," she wrote. "The disputed question here involves both technical understanding and policy judgment. The commission addressed that issue seriously and carefully, providing reasons in support of its position and responding to the principal alternative advanced."
"It is not our job to render that judgment, on which reasonable minds can differ," Justice Kagan went on. "Our important but limited role is to ensure that the commission engaged in reasoned decision-making — that it weighed competing views, selected a compensation formula with adequate support in the record, and intelligibly explained the reasons for making that choice."
Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, dissented. He said that Justice Kagan's analysis had things backward.
"While the majority would find every sale of electric energy to be within FERC's authority to regulate unless the transaction is demonstrably a retail sale," Justice Scalia wrote, "the statute actually excludes from FERC's jurisdiction all sales of electric energy except those that are demonstrably sales at wholesale." That meant, he said, that the commission had exceeded its statutory authority.
When the case was argued in October, Justice Scalia said he had conflicting impulses.
"I like deregulated markets," he said. "But the problem is, do you have the authority to do it?"
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. recused himself from the case, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission v. Electric Power Supply Association, No. 14-840, presumably because of a financial conflict.
Monday's ruling overturned a 2014 decision from a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
"Because FERC's rule entails direct regulation of the retail market — a matter exclusively within state control — it exceeds the commission's authority," Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote for the majority.
In dissent, Judge Harry T. Edwards said that the governing statute was ambiguous and that the commission's understanding of the scope of its authority deserved deference.
Neither side adopted that ground on Monday. Both Justice Kagan and Justice Scalia said the statute was clear rather than ambiguous. But they disagreed about what it clearly said.
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