Tell Mayor de Blasio: Fire ALL Officers Involved in Killing Ramarley!
Sign the petition:
Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
B. ARTICLES IN FULL
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
Protest Big Pharma!
Public Health, Not Corporate Wealth!
Free Harvoni for Hep C Prisoners! Free Mumia Now!
The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, together with the Oasis Clinic in Oakland, urges you to support this demonstration to protest the outrageous price-gouging of Big Pharma corporations, like Gilead Sciences! Corporations such as Gilead hike-up the cost for essential, life-saving medications such as the cure for the deadly Hepatitis-C disease (HCV), in order to reap huge profits. Prisoners are among the chief victims.
Join us at Gilead Sciences' HQ!
333 Lakeside Drive, Foster City
12 Noon, Friday April 1st
Public transportation is available --
Allow about 90 minutes or more:
Take BART Richmond/Daly City line to Milbrae Station,
transfer to Caltrain Shuttle. Take this shuttle to: 353 Lakeside,
then it's a short walk to Gilead, at 333 Lakeside Dr.
One pill a day for 12 weeks does the trick to cure Hepatitis-C with a 95 percent success rate. But Gilead charges $1,000 per pill, or nearly $100,000 for a full course of treatment!! Gilead Sciences, the "owner" of Harvoni, which is the effective new cure for HCV, did not develop this cure: it bought another company! Now its profit gouging threatens many thousands of lives! Obama Care does not protect against Big Pharma's outrageous price gouging!
Nearly 5.2 million Americans are infected with HCV, according to the Center for Disease Control. And political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is among as many as 700,000 prisoners who are victims.
Prisoners who are infected with Hep-C are among the least likely to receive the newly available cure for the disease, due to both the exaggerated price, and the refusal of prison authorities to provide proper health care for inmates!
Mumia Abu-Jamal was infected in 1981, after he was shot by police and as a prisoner given a tainted blood transfusion. Falsely convicted for killing a cop and sent to death row (he's now serving life without the possibility of parole), Mumia's infection began to show symptoms in 2015, which is typical for this slow-incubating but usually fatal (if untreated) disease. Mass mobilization by supporters is the only reason Mumia got any medical attention at all, and he is still denied the curative Harvoni treatment which can ensure his survival! The PA prison system is now trying to kill Mumia by medical neglect!
In violation of National Institute of Health (NIH) regulations, Gilead canceled its program to supply a certain amount of the drug at low cost. And the New York Times reported that in "a complicated deal to sell hepatitis drugs at a small fraction of their usual cost while imposing tight restrictions intended to protect lucrative markets in the West... for the past year, Gilead has sold the drug to the Egyptian government for about $10 a pill."
Mumia Abu-Jamal, though he nearly died for lack of treatment last year, points out that he is only one of many. He supports the demands for treatment of some 10,000 prisoners in Pennsylvania who suffer from HCV infection.
In a recent federal appeal, lawyers fighting for treatment of Mumia brought out evidence in court of a secret PA Department of Corrections (DOC) protocol which explicitly provides for observation, but NO treatment, for HCV infected prisoners, until they are at death's door (if then)!
WE DEMAND: PUBLIC HEALTH, NOT CORPORATE WEALTH!
NO EXECUTION BY MEDICAL NEGLECT!
FREE TREATMENT FOR HCV-INFECTED PRISONERS & OTHERS NOW!
JAIL DRUG PROFITEERS, FREE MUMIA!
Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610 • www.laboractionmumia.org
Mumia Is Innocent! Free Mumia!
From Akai Gurley to Mario Woods …
Rally for Justice for ALL Victims of Racist Police Brutality
Fri. April 1, 6:30pm
24th and Mission Sts., San Francisco
The following is in response to a national Call to Action (for April 1-11) put out by the Justice for Akai Gurley Family Committee.
Fire SFPD Chief Suhr!
Stop Police Terror!
As racist presidential candidate Donald Trump emboldens white supremacist groups to openly organize and lash out against the most oppressed sectors of society, the police in the United States continue to terrorize and murder Black, Brown, Native, immigrant, and poor and working people who are targeted by the same racist hate groups with impunity.
These acts of racist police terror continue largely unchallenged by the so-called "justice system." The rebellions in Ferguson and Baltimore along with the mass mobilizations in Chicago have forced concessions from those in power to remove police chiefs and prosecutors and make department-wide reforms, proving the struggle to be the determining factor in the outcome of these cases.
In New York, the struggle for justice for Akai Gurley, who was murdered by NYPD, has reached a critical point where killer cop Peter Liang is facing potential jail time. While some reactionaries have mobilized to prevent this conviction, we demand that all killer cops must be held accountable for their crimes.
With the recent sham civil trial surrounding the murder of Alex Nieto in San Francisco that reinforced the right of officers to kill with impunity, it's time to stand up and fight back against the militarized gangs of police that criminalize and terrorize people like Akai Gurley, Alex Nieto, Mario Woods, Amilcar Perez-Lopez and every other person stolen from our communities.
Join the ANSWER Coalition on Friday, April 1 for a rally to demand "From Akai Gurley to Mario Woods, justice for all victims of racist police brutality!"
To endorse or for more info: www.ANSWERsf.org or 415-821-6545
General Motors is Guilty in Flint!
Demand GM, which made $9.7 billion in 2015, immediately contribute $4 billion to rebuild Flint's water infrastructure, housing and schools, and provide quality, lifetime healthcare and services for Flint's youth!
Working people across the U.S. and even many celebrities have made significant contributions to aid the people of Flint, who are experiencing the devastating effects of the Water Lead Poisoning Scandal. One entity, however, has been notably silent: General Motors Corporation. This is despite the fact that it was the actions of GM that are responsible for the financial destruction of Flint, which led to the city being placed under racist Emergency Management with the disastrous consequences that followed.
- GM eliminated 72,000 union auto worker jobs in the Flint from 1970 to the present, driving out half of the population, and turning Flint from one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S. to the poorest. GM moved operations all over the globe seeking low wages and replaced workers with robots in its drive for super-profits.
- When GM became aware of the toxic nature of Flint's water supply in October 2014, it didn't alert the public or call for the end of its use in family water taps. No, it negotiated an exemption for itself to get water from Lake Huron so its parts would not be corroded, the people be damned.
- GM is the single greatest polluter of the toxic Flint River, using it to dump industrial waste for years.
- GM promoted lead-based gasoline for 60 years to make its engines more efficient at the least cost, knowing full well the poisonous effects of lead.
- GM got a bailout from the federal government in 2009 which cost taxpayers $11 billion. The State of Michigan, under governors Granholm and Snyder, gave GM $4 billion in tax credits through 2030, meaning every year GM is profitable it pays ZERO state taxes.
- GM pocketed $9.7 billion in profits in 2015. It's time for GM to pay its debt to the people of Flint.
For more info: 313-680-5508
This farmworker documentary project needs your support
This coming year is going to be a watershed for farm workers.
Wages have been going down, people are living in crowded conditions - sometimes even outside under the trees, in tents and in cars. The communities of indigenous migrants who harvest our food up and down the Pacific Coast have been rising in protest, and last year organized strikes from Baja California to Washington State.
In this crucial year I'm going to travel through the Pacific Coast's indigenous farm worker communities, working with and guided by community activists as we document peoples' lives. We will produce a reality check - the hard work, the bad housing, but also the vibrant culture and the way people organize in response.
I'm writing to ask you to help me.
I need to raise at least $20,000 to make this happen. Beacon Reader has generously offered to help raise the money, and even to match every contribution made on its website, dollar for dollar. But I only have a month, starting today. You can make your donation HERE:
The money will be used in the following ways:
--- It will produce large photographic prints that will travel through urban and rural communities
--- It will produce written narratives by indigenous migrants that will accompany the photographs
--- It will produce an interactive website combining the photographs and voices
--- It will publish the photographs and narratives in mainstream media, and eventually collected as a book.
You can make this photojournalism and deep reporting possible, by making a donation to this crowdfunding campaign. I've been doing this work for over a decade, and your pledge will be carefully used.
Your pledge will have an impact on people's lives.
It will be used to help reduce anti-immigrant hysteria, and support indigenous migrant communities as they seek understanding and justice. It will educate people living in cities, concerned about the food they eat, about the lives of the people who put it on the table. People worried about the impact of pesticides on their children might also consider how much greater the impact is on those working in the fields, and on their children who breathe the dust blowing into their schoolyards.
All donations are appreciated and will be acknowledged. But if you donate at least $100, you can get an 8.5x11" print from the series we'll take this year. If you donate more, we'll send you a larger print and books. I'll even come and talk about the project with you. The website explains it all.
There's a short, 90-second video on the website that also shows you the power of combining the voices of community leaders with photographs that document their reality.
Please be as generous as you can, and put me on the road this coming year. You won't regret it.
In the 38th Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards David Bacon won first-place in the photo series category for his August 6, 2014 cover story for the East Bay Express, "Living on the Streets of Oakland," a photo essay that examined the situation of homeless people in the Bay Area's third largest city.
THE REALITY CHECK - David Bacon blog
EN LOS CAMPOS DEL NORTE: Farm worker photographs on the U.S./Mexico border wall
Youtube interview about the show with Alfonso Caraveo (Spanish)
David Bacon radio review of the movie, Cesar Chavez
Interviews with David Bacon about his book, The Right to Stay Home:
Book TV: A presentation of the ideas in The Right to Stay Home at the CUNY Graduate Center
KPFK - Uprisings with Sonali Kohatkar
KPFA - Upfront with Brian Edwards Tiekert
Books by David Bacon
The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration (Beacon Press, 2013)
Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008)
Recipient: C.L.R. James Award, best book of 2007-2008
Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)
The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)
EL DERECHO A QUEDARSE EN CASA (Critica - Planeta de Libros)
HIJOS DE LIBRE COMERCIA (El Viejo Topo)
For more articles and images, see http://dbacon.igc.org
Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw Kindle Edition
State Seeks to Remove Innocent PA Lifer's Attorney! Free Corey Walker!
The PA Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed legal action to remove Corey Walker's attorney, Rachel Wolkenstein, in November 2014. On Tuesday, February 9, 2016 the evidentiary hearing to terminate Wolkenstein as Corey Walker's pro hac vice lawyer continues before Judge Lawrence Clark of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg, PA.
Walker, assisted by Wolkenstein, filed three sets of legal papers over five months in 2014 with new evidence of Walker's innocence and that the prosecution and police deliberately used false evidence to convict him of murder. Two weeks after Wolkenstein was granted pro hac vice status, the OAG moved against her and Walker.
The OAG claims that Wolkenstein's political views and prior legal representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal and courtroom arrest by the notorious Judge Albert Sabo makes it "intolerable" for her to represent Corey Walker in the courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Over the past fifteen months the OAG has effectively stopped any judicial action on the legal challenges of Corey Walker and his former co-defendant, Lorenzo Johnson against their convictions and sentences to life imprisonment without parole while it proceeds in its attempts to remove Wolkenstein.
This is retaliation against Corey Walker who is innocent and framed. Walker and his attorney won't stop until they thoroughly expose the police corruption and deliberate presentation of false evidence to convict Corey Walker and win his freedom.
This outrageous attack on Corey Walker's fundamental right to his lawyer of choice and challenge his conviction must cease. The evidence of his innocence and deliberate prosecutorial frame up was suppressed for almost twenty years. Corey Walker must be freed!
Read: Jim Crow Justice – The Frame-up Of Corey Walker by Charles Brover
Go to FreeCoreyWalker.org to provide help and get more information.
TAKE ACTION: Mumia is sick
Date & Time:
Thursday, March 24, 2016 - 18:00
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!
Imam Jamil (H.Rap Brown) moved
Some two weeks ago Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown) was moved by bus from USP Canaan in Waymart, PA. to USP Tucson, Arizona. His mailing address is: USP Tucson United States Penitentiary P.O. Box Tucson, AZ. 85734 (BOP number 99974555)
Sign the Petition:
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, THE Bureau of Prisons, The Governor of Georgia
We are aware of a review being launched of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted and or deserve a new trail because of flawed forensic evidence and or wrongly reported evidence. It was stated in the Washington Post in April of 2012 that Justice Department Officials had known for years that flawed forensic work led to convictions of innocent people. We seek to have included in the review of such cases that of Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. We understand that all cases reviewed will include the Innocence Project. We look forward to your immediate attention to these overdue wrongs.
ASAP: The Forgotten Imam Project
P.O. Box 373
Four Oaks, NC 27524
Luqman Abdullah-ibn Al-Sidiq
Haneef Bey (Beaumont Gereau), Abdul Azziz (Warren Ballentine), Malik Bey (Meral Smith)
"AMERICA'S PARADISE" HAS BEEN THEIR HELL, 44 YEARS OF POLITICAL IMPRISONMENT, THE PAST 15 OF THEM WITHOUT EVEN THE PRETENSE OF THEM SERVING SENTENCES
While the U.S. today declares that the natural inhabitants of the Virgin Islands have "no fundamental rights," it claims that it fairly tried these men in 1972, then held them in the U.S. federal prison system for 29 years. In 2000, even though the U.S. retired their "sentences," it directed the colonial government to hold them nonetheless, indefinitely, and illegally, and this is exactly what it has done for 15-years.
FOR RAISING THE FACT THEY HAVE BEEN ILLEGALLY HELD FOR THE PAST 15-YEARS BY THE u.s. COLONIAL GOVERNMENT THEY WERE LOCKED DOWN AS "SECURITY RISKS." THIS IS SPITE OF YEARS OF THEM GOING OUTSIDE THE PRISON TO COMMUNITY EVENTS WITHOUT ESCORT AS INVITED QUEST SPEAKERS AND HAD IN FACT, HAD JUST RETURNED FROM ONE. tHIS ACTION TOOK PLACE aT THE VERY TOME THAT THE COURT WAS TO HAVE ACTED ON THEIR HABEAS PETITIONS. oN THE DAY THEY SHOULD HAVE FREED, THEY ARE PUT IN THE WHOLE AND REMAIN THERE TO THIS DAY. tO DATE, IN UTTER VIOLATION OF THE LAW, THE u.s. dISTRICT COURT HAS WITHHELD PROCESS, IN VIOLATION OF THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS AS WELL.
WHO ARE THE VIRGIN ISLAND 3
THE VIRGIN ISLAND 3, FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE "VIRGIN ISLAND 5," HAVE BEEN IMPRISONED FOR 43-YEARS FOR THE KILLING OF SEVEN WHITES AND A MULATTO AT THE FOUNTAIN VALLEY GOLF COURSE IN ST. CROIX IN 1972. EVEN THOUGH THE INCIDENT WAS DESCRIBED AS A "ROBBERY GONE BAD," THE U.S. GOVERNMENT TREATED IT AS THE TIP OF SOME SORT OF "MAU MAU" UPRISING TO FORCE ALL WHITE PEOPLE OUT OF THE ISLES. IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE INCIDENT THE U.S. SENT IN AN ARMY OF RACIST WHITE FBI AGENTS, ALONG WITH 300 MARINES, AND PLACED ALL OF THE ISLES IT CLAIMS TO "OWN" UNDER A STATE OF RACIST MARTIAL LAW. THE ENTIRE BLACK POPULATION WAS SUSPECT, PARTICULARLY YOUNG BLACK MEN, WITH OVER 100 OF THEM BEING ROUNDED UP IN HOUSE TO HOUSE SEARCHES. MOST OF THE YOUNG MEN WERE SUBJECTED TO VARIOUS FORMS OF TORTURE THAT INCLUDED BEATINGS, WATER-BOARDING, ELECTRIC SHOCK, AND BEING HUNG FROM TREES AND BUILDINGS BY THEIR FEET. (for a more detailed account click this link "Maracatu")
WITHIN A WEEK AFTER THE INCIDENT THE FBI SETTLED ON FIVE YOUNG MEN AS THE CULPRITS WITH SCANT EVIDENCE AND "CONFESSIONS" OBTAINED THROUGH TORTURE. THOSE FIVE YOUNG BLACK MEN WHERE ISHMAEL LABEET, RAPHAEL JOSEPH, WARREN BALLENTINE, BEAUMONT GEREU, AND MERAL SMITH. THEY WERE QUICKLY TRIED TOGETHER IN THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT BY A JUDGE WHO USED TO SERVE AS THE ATTORNEY FOR THE ROCKEFELLER FAMILY, WHICH OWNED THE GOLF COURSE. THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE TO CONVICT A ONE, WHICH WAS WHY THE STRATEGY WAS TO TRIE THEM TOGETHER, IN ORDER TO FUDGE THE FACTS. THE GUN USED TO KILL THE PEOPLE WAS AN AUTOMATIC RIFLE REGISTERED TO THE VI POLICE DEPARTMENT, BUT NO POLICE OFFICER WAS EVER MADE SUSPECT. THE ASSAILANTS WERE MASKED THE ENTIRE TIME AND THE INCIDENT OCCURRED IN A MATTER OF MINUTES WITH THE ASSAILANTS ALLEGEDLY DISAPPEARING BACK INTO THE SURROUNDING RAIN FORREST FROM WHICH THEY CAME. HOWEVER, SOME WITNESSES REPORTED THAT THE MEN DROVE OFF IN A CAR AND THAT THE INCIDENT WAS SOME SORT OF "HIT."
AFTER A HASTY TRIAL, WHEN THE JURY INFORMED THE JUDGE THAT THEY COULD NOT CONVICT, HE ORDERED THEM HELD FOR NINE DAYS UNTIL THEY CAME BACK WITH GUILTY VERDICTS AGAINST ALL FIVE. WITHIN THE HOUR AFTER GETTING THE GUILTY VERDICTS THE JUDGE HAD ALL FIVE BROUGHT BEFORE HIM AND SENTENCED EACH TO EIGHT CONSECUTIVE LIFE SENTENCES, THEN HAD THEM MARCHED FROM THE COURTHOUSE DOWN TO THE HARBOR IN CHRISTENSTED. IN THE HARBOR WERE A NUMBER OF SEA PLANES THAT THEN FLEW THE FIVE OFF TO FEDERAL PRISONS IN THE UNITED STATES. THE SPEEDY ARREST, TRIAL, CONVICTION, AND IMPRISONMENT WERE INTENDED TO SEND A MESSAGE TO THE NATURAL INHABITANTS AGAINST EVEN CONTEMPLATING OPPOSING U.S. RULE, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME TO ENSURE WHITES THAT ANY BLACK UPRISING WOULD BE DEALT WITH QUICKLY, HARSHLY, AND EFFECTIVELY. THE QUICK ARREST, PROSECUTION, TRIAL, CONVICTIONS, HARSH SENTENCES, AND QUICK EXECUTION AMOUNTED TO A LYNCHING IN ORDER TO TERRORIZE THE NATURAL INHABITANTS. AND THIS IS WHY THESE MEN REMAIN IMPRISONED TO THIS DAY, IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN THAT TERROR MESSAGE.
iN 1983, WHILE BEING TRANSPORTED BACK TO PRISON IN THE STATES AFTER APPEARING BACK IN ST. CROIX FOR A COURT HEARING, , ISHMAEL LABEET HIJACKED THE PLANE AND ESCAPED TO CUBA WHERE HE WAS GIVEN POLITICAL ASYLUM AND LIVES TODAY. IN 1992, RAPHAEL JOSEPH ALONE WAS PARDONED BY THE GOVERNOR FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR, EVEN THOUGH HIS BEHAVIOR WAS NOT ANY BETTER THAN THE OTHER THREE.
IN 2000-01, ALTHOUGH THE U.S. FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS RETIRED THE SENTENCES OF THE REMAINING THREE AND DISCHARGED THEM FROM ITS CUSTODY, IT DID NOT RELEASE THEM FROM DETENTION. INSTEAD OF BEING RELEASED AS REQUIRED BY LAW, THE THREE WERE ILLEGALLY "TRANSFERRED" TO THE CUSTODY OF THE COLONIAL GOVERNMENT, EVEN THOUGH THEY NO LONGER HAD SENTENCES.
FOR THE PAST 15-YEARS THESE MEN HAVE BEEN DETAINED WITHOUT EVEN THE PRETENSE OF A PRISON SENTENCE, HELD BY A GOVERNMENT IMPOSED AND CONTROLLED BY A FOREIGN POWER - THE UNITED STATES. THIS GOES TO PROVE THAT FROM THE VERY OUTSET THEIR IMPRISONMENT WAS POLITICAL AND ILLEGAL, THESE MEN WERE MADE "TERROR SUSPECTS" 30-YEARS BEFORE GOERGE BUSH AND DICK CHENEY MADE THE TERM UP. jUST LIKE MANY OF THE SO-CALLED "TERROR SUSPECTS" AT GUANTANAMO BAY, THIS MEN WERE SWEPT UP IN A WARLIKE U.S. INVASION OF THEIR COUNTRY. AND JUST LIKE WAS DONE TO THE SO-CALLED "TERROR SUSPECTS" AT GUANTANAMO BAY, THESE MEN WERE ALSO SUBJECTED TO "ENHANCED INTERROGATION TECHNIQUES," OR TORTURE. AND JUST LIKE WITH THE SO-CALLED "TERROR SUSPECTS" AT GUANTANAMO BAY THEIR CONTINUED DETENTION IS OUTSIDE OF ALL KNOWN LAW AND MORALITY.
MALIK, HANEEF, AND ABDUL CAN BE REACHED BY MAIL AT THE GOLDEN GROVE PRISON, IF IN FACT THEY ARE STILL THERE AND NOT BEEN SPIRITED OFF TO SOME OTHER "BLACK SITE:"
RURAL ROUTE 1, BOX 9955, KNGSHILL VI OO8500
HOWEVER, PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT THERE IS NO INTENT TO JUST LET THEM TO CONTINUE TO HOLD THEM, WE ARE NOT GOING TO WAIT FOR JUSTICE TO COME FROM A PLACE WERE IT DOES NOT EXIST. WE HAVE WORK TO DO IN THE ISLES RIGHT NOW. YOU CAN HELP, PLEASE FOLLOW THE PEOPLE'S ALERT BELOW. THANK YOU
ON DECEMBER 31, 2015, THE VIRGIN ISLAND 3 WERE LOCKED DOWN FOR PETITIONING THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS, THE SAME COURT IN WHICH THEY WERE "TRIED" 44-YEARS AGO, TO END 15-YEARS OF BEING ILLEGALLY DETAINED BY THE COLONIAL GOVERNMENT OF THE "U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS." INSTEAD OF DUE PROCESS, INSTEAD OF JUSTICE, THEY HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO MORE OPPRESSION AND REPRESSION
INSTEAD OF DUE PROCESS AND JUSTICE, THEY GOT RETRIBUTION
We need people to do the following things
SIGN PETITION TO GOV. KENNETH MAPP
DONATE TO THE GROUND WORK
Kenneth Mapp is the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, a former police officer in the states, is directly responsible for the illegal detention of the Virgin Islands 3. All he does not need a court to order their release, all he needs to do is to decide that his government will no long violate the law and the Human Rights of its own people.
Read more at: http://virginislands3.yolasite.com/
Afrikan Black Coalition just started a petition to the University of California Regents, UC President Napolitano, and UC Chief Investment Officer Bachher stating:
Last year, we pushed the University of California to divest $25 million in private prison shares. We dedicate this victory to the millions of our people languishing in America's mass incarceration regime. But the University of California still has not divested the $425 million in shares from Wells Fargo, one of the largest private prison funders.
Wells Fargo maintains a $900 million credit line to private prisons. If we all truly believe that #BlackLivesMatter from the hood to the academy, we must stand with our family and friends who are currently incarcerated or are at a higher risk of incarceration because of their very Blackness.
Tell the UC to divest effective immediately, all of the $425 million it has currently invested in Wells Fargo!
Sign now →
UC, Divest from Wells Fargo Immediately!
We just started a petition titled "University California (UC) Divestment." Below is the appeal that we will deliver to the University of California next month:
We, the undersigned community members and justice seekers, are excited by the Afrikan Black Coalition's recent victory in getting the University of California to divest $25 million from the private prison corporations Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), The Geo Group, and G4S. The victory was historic because private prisons have exacerbated America's mass incarceration regime, are implicated in gross human rights violations, and should be outlawed.
However, we share the Afrikan Black Coalition's outrage and frustration resulting from the UC system's startling $425 million investment in Wells Fargo, one of the largest financiers of private prisons. According a report from Enlace, Wells Fargo acts as a syndication agent and issuing lender on CCA's $900 million line of credit. As of their latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Wells Fargo owned 998,350 shares in CCA and 462,342 shares in GEO Group, nearly 1.5 million shares total. It bears noting that Wells Fargo is a bank that practiced discriminatory lending and maneuvered people of color (primarily Black and Latino) into subprime mortgages that led to the financial meltdown of 2007-2008; and in response to accusations of racial discrimination in its lending practices, Wells Fargo settled for $175 million in 2012 with pending litigations from several U.S cities about discriminatory practices.
I share the Afrikan Black Coalition's outrage and frustration resulting from the UC system's startling $425 million investment in Wells Fargo, one of the largest financiers of private prisons.
It is for these reasons that we stand in solidarity with the Afrikan Black Coalition in its call for justice for those who are systematically dehumanized by an unforgiving and unfair judicial system that continues to criminalize Black and brown bodies. We acknowledge these cases illustrate the evolution of America's legal institution to uphold race, gender, and class hierarchies. By investing in Wells Fargo Bank, the University of California is actively supporting a legacy of historical emphasis on profit margins at the expense of human beings, and the continued mass criminalization of Black existence. It is an ethical embarrassment and a clear disregard for Black and immigrant lives for the UC to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Wells Fargo as a financier of private prisons. In the age of Black Lives Matter and a reinvigorated Black Freedom Struggle, the UC should NOT be bankrolling the inhuman mass incarceration regime that has gripped America.
I am outraged that Wells Fargo spends almost $1 billion funding modern-day slave plantations. The University of California should not be in business with such an immoral bank!
In Solidarity and Struggle,
Afrikan Black Coalition
Sign now →
MAJOR TILLERY BACK IN THE HOLE!!
In her own words:
Listen to Chelsea's story in Amnesty podcast
Whistleblower Chelsea Manning was the subject of Amnesty International's podcast, In Their Own Words, a brand new series featuring the stories of human rights activists around the world.
One of the most trying aspects of Chelsea's imprisonment has been the inability for the public to hear or see her.
"I feel like I've been stored away all this time without a voice," Chelsea has said.
In this episode, Amnesty finally gives Chelsea a voice, employing actress Michelle Hendley to speak Chelsea's words. Through Michelle, we hear Chelsea tell us who she is as a person, what she's been through, and what she's going through now.
"I have to say, I cried a few times listening to this," said Chelsea, after a Support Network volunteer played the podcast for her over the telephone. "Hearing her speak, and tell the story. She sounds like me. It sounds like the way I would tell my story."
Since its release on Feb 5, the podcast has already been listened to over 10,000 times, passing up Amnesty's first episode voiced by actor Christian Bale by over 4,000 listens. It received attention from Vice's Broadley, BoingBoing, Pink News, Fight for the Future, the ACLU, the Advocate and numerous other online blogs and tweets.
Listen to the podcast or read the full transcript here
In her latest Guardian OpEd, Chelsea Manning shares about a rare and meaningful friendship she had while in the isolating environment of prison. "At the loneliest time of my life," explains Chelsea, "her friendship meant everything."
Chelsea Manning, Guardian OpEd
Feb 8, 2016
Prisons function by isolating those of us who are incarcerated from any means of support other than those charged with keeping us imprisoned: first, they physically isolate us from the outside world and those in it who love us; then they work to divide prisoners from one another by inculcating our distrust in one another.
The insecurity that comes from being behind bars with, at best, imperfect oversight makes us all feel responsible only for ourselves. We end up either docile, apathetic and unwilling to engage with each other, or hostile, angry, violent and resentful. When we don't play by the written or unwritten rules – or, sometimes, because we do – we become targets...
Read the complete op-ed here
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
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
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
Today is the 406th day that Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan
languishes in prison doing felony time for a misdemeanor crime he did not
commit. Today is also the day that Robert McKay, a spokesperson for the
Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations
representatives about the plight of Rev. Pinkney at a hearing held in
Chicago. The hearing was called in order to shed light upon the
mistreatment of African-Americans in the United States and put it on an
international stage. And yet as the UN representatives and audience heard
of the injustices in the Pinkney case many gasped in disbelief and asked
with frowns on their faces, "how is this possible?" But disbelief quickly
disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had
when they first heard of Flint and we all know what happened in Flint. FREE
REV. PINKNEY NOW.
Please send letters to:
Marquette Branch Prison
Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671
1960 US Hwy 41 South
Marquette, MI 49855
Please donate at http://bhbanco.org (Donate button) or send checks to BANCO:
c/o Dorothy Pinkney
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
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
The Apple Fight
A joint statement from Access Now, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Apple is engaged in a high-profile battle against a court order demanding it write, sign, and deploy custom computer code to defeat the security on an iPhone. As civil liberties groups committed to the freedom of thought that underpins a democratic society, this fight is our fight. It is the fight of every person who believes in a future where technology does not come at the cost of privacy or individual security and where there are reasonable safeguards on government power.
This is a fight that implicates all technology users. There are already bad actors trying to defeat the security on iPhones, and an FBI-ordered backdoor will only assist their efforts. Once this has been created, malicious hackers will surely increase their attacks on the FBI and Apple, hoping to ferret out clues to this entrance route—and they may well succeed.
The precedent created by this case is disturbing: it creates a new pathway for the government to conscript private companies into building surveillance tools. If Apple can be compelled to create a master key to unlock this iPhone, then little will prevent the government from ordering any company to turn its products into tools of surveillance, compromising the safety, privacy, and security of everyone.
Our organizations are committed to defending the security and human rights of everyday people whose data will be implicated by this shortsighted policy.
We call on the Obama Administration to heed the advice of neutral security experts, engineers, and even his own advisors who have affirmed the dangers inherent in the order issued to Apple. We urge them to reject the calls of those who seek to undermine our security, whether through backdoors into our software, master keys to unlock our digital data, or pressure on companies to downgrade our security.
Over 100,000 people have called for President Obama to stand up for security in our devices through savecrypto.org. It's time for the President to be accountable to them, and to all of us.
In this fraught debate, we must let facts and reason prevail. We cannot compromise on our security or liberty.
—The Electronic Frontier Foundation, March 17, 2016
B. ARTICLES IN FULL
1) Rule to Require Employers to Disclose Use of Anti-Union Consultants
WASHINGTON — The Labor Department on Wednesday released the final version of a rule requiring employers to disclose relationships with the consultants they hire to help persuade workers not to form a union or support a union's collective bargaining position.
The department said the rule, which will be published on Thursday and apply to agreements made after July 1, is necessary because workers are frequently in the dark about who is trying to sway them when they exercise their labor rights.
"In many organizing campaigns, decisions that workers make about whether to choose to stand together are often influenced by paid consultants, or persuaders, who are hired by employers to craft the management message being delivered to workers," Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in a call with reporters. "About 75 percent of employers hire such persuaders, and too often, workers do not know."
The 1959 law on which the regulations are based already required employers to disclose the hiring of such consultants. But the Labor Department argued that previous administrations had allowed an enormous loophole that effectively exempted consultants who coached supervisors on how to influence employees so long as the consultants didn't interact with the employees directly.
The use of consultants has proliferated since the 1970s, and the techniques they deploy to discourage workers from forming unions have become progressively more sophisticated — more akin to modern political campaigns than workplace discussions.
There are consultants "scripting what managers and supervisors say to workers," Mr. Perez said.
The new rule will require employers to disclose in government filings any consultant they hire to develop plans or policies for supervisors involved in attempting to persuade workers, who create materials that will be distributed through the workplace for this reason, and who lead seminars on how to discourage workers from forming unions or bargaining collectively.
In addition to disclosing the hiring of a consultant, the employers will have to disclose the fees involved. The consultants will also have to disclose the relationships and fees in filings of their own.
Opponents of the rule said it was a clear effort by the Labor Department to intervene on behalf of unions. "It is intended to aid organizing by tying one hand behind the back of the employer," said Marshall Babson, counsel at the law firm Seyfarth Shaw and a former National Labor Relations Board member who works with management on labor issues.
Mr. Babson argued that the fee disclosure requirement would discourage law firms from providing advice to clients, much of which, he said, involves discouraging them from making unlawful threats or promises to workers during organizing campaigns, or unlawfully interrogating them.
"It's something that tends to chill the seeking of legal advice," he said. "How is that in anyone's interest?"
But Mr. Perez and his aides said that lawyers would only have to make the relevant disclosures if they provide advice about how to discourage the formation of a union or collective bargaining. He said that advice on pure legal matters would remain uncovered by the rule. Moreover, the specific content of lawyers' discussions would be protected by attorney-client privilege and not subject to disclosure.
More broadly, they said, the rule was about restoring a measure of balance between labor and management. Department officials point out that under the original 1959 law, labor unions must disclose spending related to workplace organizing campaigns.
Paul Secunda, a professor of labor law at Marquette University Law School who recently proposed that employers who address workers during organizing campaigns be required to give union organizers a similar opportunity, said that the consultants tend to be extremely effective at creating an environment in which many workers fear for their job if they opt to form a union.
Employees should "understand that the employer is not just speaking generically in their best interest," Mr. Secunda said. "They wouldn't spend so much on persuaders if it wasn't important to keep unions out of the workplace."
2) The Racism at the Heart of Flint's Crisis
An important new report makes clear the principal cause of the water crisis in Flint, Mich.: the state government's blatant disregard for the lives and health of poor and black residents of a distressed city.
The report released Wednesday by a task force appointed last year by Gov. Rick Snyder to study how Flint's drinking water became poisoned by lead makes for chilling reading. While it avoids using the word "racism," it clearly identifies the central role that race and poverty play in this story. "Flint residents, who are majority black or African-American and among the most impoverished of any metropolitan area in the United States, did not enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards as that provided to other communities," the report said.
Mr. Snyder, a Republican, and many Republicans in Congress have tried to deflect and minimize the state's responsibility for the Flint crisis. Mr. Snyder has said the crisis represented a collective failure of local, state and federal governments. And congressional Republicans like Jason Chaffetz of Utah have sought to pin virtually all of the blame on the Environmental Protection Agency, which many of them oppose for ideological reasons.
The task force cut through to the truth and said the agency most at fault was the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which reports to Mr. Snyder. The agency failed to instruct officials in Flint, which was under state control at the time, to treat its water with chemicals that would have prevented lead from leaching from pipes and plumbing fixtures into the drinking water. The agency continuously belittled the concerns of local residents and independent experts, and lied to the E.P.A., telling it that Flint was properly treating the water.
Mr. Snyder's office comes in for harsh criticism for relying on the department's assurances that the water was safe despite mounting evidence that it was in fact poisoning residents. The emergency managers Mr. Snyder appointed to run Flint's city government decided to switch the city's water source to the Flint River from the Detroit water system and later refused requests by residents and the City Council to reverse that decision, because it would cost more money. The E.P.A. made mistakes, too, by not intervening forcefully enough until it issued an emergency order in January, even though some of its employees began raising concerns about Flint's water early last year.
The five-member task force, which includes two doctors, a water expert and two former state lawmakers, made 44 recommendations. It said that Mr. Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature should provide long-term health care to Flint residents who have lead poisoning and replace water lines in Flint and other Michigan cities. It also called for changes to the state emergency manager law to give residents a way to appeal decisions made by those managers.
Mr. Snyder says Michigan is making most of the recommended changes and is reviewing the rest. There is no doubt that many of these reforms will take years to carry out, but it is essential for the governor and the Legislature to demonstrate that they are up to the task. Mr. Snyder did not inspire confidence when he said on Wednesday that he did not know if race was a factor in the Flint disaster, even though the record shows that the concerns of poor and minority residents were dismissed by his administration in ways that would never have happened with rich white communities.
Congress, which has refused to invest sufficiently in the nation's public works and has been antagonistic to environmental protection, must also learn from the crisis. For years, poor and minority communities have suffered disproportionately from environmental degradation. Examples include the poorest neighborhoods of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and the breach of the levees in that city, communities in West Virginia that faced chemical spills and even Washington, D.C., which had its own lead contamination crisis about 10 years ago. Most of these disasters could have been avoided or mitigated by aggressive government action.
3) A Mailman Handcuffed in Brooklyn, Caught on Video
4) Fidel Castro to Obama: We Don't Need Your 'Presents'
HAVANA — Fidel Castro responded Monday to President Barack Obama's historic trip to Cuba with a long, bristling letter recounting the history of U.S. aggression against Cuba, writing that "we don't need the empire to give us any presents."
The 1,500-word letter in state media titled "Brother Obama" was Castro's first response to the president's three-day visit last week, in which the American president said he had come to bury the two countries' history of Cold War hostility. Obama did not meet with the 89-year-old Fidel Castro on the trip but met several times with his 84-year-old brother Raul Castro, the current Cuban president.
Obama's visit was intended to build irreversible momentum behind his opening with Cuba and to convince the Cuban people and the Cuban government that a half-century of U.S. attempts to overthrow the Communist government had ended, allowing Cuban to reform its economy and political system without the threat of U.S. interference.
Fidel Castro writes of Obama: "My modest suggestion is that he reflects and doesn't try to develop theories about Cuban politics."
Castro, who led Cuba for decades before handing power to his brother in 2008, was legendary for his hours-long, all-encompassing speeches. His letter reflects that style, presenting a sharp contrast with Obama's tightly focused speech in Havana. Castro's letter opens with descriptions of environmental abuse under the Spaniards and reviews the historical roles of Cuban independence heroes Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo and Maximo Gomez.
Castro then goes over crucial sections of Obama's speech line by line, engaging in an ex-post-facto dialogue with the American president with pointed critiques of perceived slights and insults, including Obama's failure to give credit to indigenous Cubans and Castro's prohibition of racial segregation after coming to power in 1959.
Quoting Obama's declaration that "it is time, now, for us to leave the past behind," the man who shaped Cuba during the second half of the 20th century writes that "I imagine that any one of us ran the risk of having a heart attack on hearing these words from the President of the United States."
Castro then returns to a review of a half-century of U.S. aggression against Cuba. Those events include the decades-long U.S. trade embargo against the island; the 1961 Bay of Pigs attack and the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner backed by exiles who took refuge in the U.S.
He ends with a dig at the Obama administration's drive to increase business ties with Cuba. The Obama administration says re-establishing economic ties with the U.S. will be a boon for Cuba, whose centrally planned economy has struggled to escape from over-dependence on imports and a chronic shortage of hard currency.
The focus on U.S-Cuba business ties appears to have particularly rankled Castro, who nationalized U.S. companies after coming to power in 1959 and establishing the communist system into which his brother is now introducing gradual market-based reforms.
"No one should pretend that the people of this noble and selfless country will renounce its glory and its rights," Fidel Castro wrote. "We are capable of producing the food and material wealth that we need with with work and intelligence of our people."
5) Schools Nationwide Still Grapple With Lead in Water
'They feel it's almost better not to sample, because you're better off not knowing,' Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech civil engineering professor who has fought for lead safety nationwide, said in an interview....while the utilities test their water, virtually all lead contamination occurs inside schools — in lead pipes, water-cooler coils and linings, and in leaded-metal fountains and taps....The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says children whose blood lead content exceeds five micrograms per deciliter — 50 parts per billion, or less than a millionth of an ounce in a pint — should see a doctor. High blood lead levels can stunt a child's mental development and damage a range of organs. But even smaller amounts can affect children's intellectual development, and the agency says no level of lead is safe....Jersey City taps and fountains went untested until the E.P.A. took samples in 2006, again part of the federal outreach program, and turned up lead concentrations up to 60 times the federal threshold at eight schools. Not until early 2008, after more tests found fresh contamination at six of the schools, did the superintendent at the time, Charles T. Epps Jr., switch those students to bottled water....The district tested all its fountains and taps in mid-2008 and found that water in 27 more schools was as much as 80 times higher than the E.P.A.'s lead threshold. Under pressure from advocates, the district tested selected water sources at 38 buildings in 2010 and found yet more lead. In a 98-year-old school, Nicolaus Copernicus Elementary, 16 of 19 water fountains and coolers were found above permissible levels."
JERSEY CITY — Anxious parents may wonder how a major school system like Newark's could overlook lead in the drinking water of 30 schools and 17,000 students. The answer: It was easy. They had to look only a few miles away, at the century-old classrooms of the schools here, across the Hackensack River.
The Jersey City Public Schools district discovered lead contamination in eight schools' drinking fountains in 2006, and in more schools in 2008, 2010 and 2012. But not until 2013 did officials finally chart a comprehensive attack on lead, which by then had struck all but six schools.
This winter's crisis in Flint, Mich., has cast new attention on lead in water supplies. But problems with lead in school water supplies have dragged on for years — aggravated by ancient buildings and plumbing, prolonged by official neglect and tight budgets, and enabled by a gaping loophole in federal rules that largely exempts schools from responsibility for the purity of their water.
Children are at greatest risk from lead exposure, and school is where they spend much of their early lives. But cash-starved school administrators may see a choice between spending money on teachers or on plumbing as no choice at all.
"They feel it's almost better not to sample, because you're better off not knowing," Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech civil engineering professor who has fought for lead safety nationwide, said in an interview.
The problem is persistent and widespread. Baltimore's public schools switched entirely to bottled water in 2007 because ripping out the lead plumbing would have been impractical. Sebring, Ohio, found elevated lead levels in August after workers had stopped adding an anti-corrosion chemical to the water supply.
The E.P.A.'s 1991 lead rule — the one that requires most public water systems to periodically test for lead and copper — limits the amount of lead in drinking water to no more than 15 parts per billion. The rule is being revised, though, and that limit could soon be lowered. Even though the rule does not apply to most schools, districts that do monitor drinking water generally use it as a guideline.
Tainted water is not the biggest source of lead exposure in humans; on average, the E.P.A. says, it makes up about a fifth of contamination. Pregnant women working in schools are at greatest risk because fetuses are most profoundly affected by contamination. Women face an increased risk of miscarriage, along with potential organ damage and developmental problems in the baby.Schools built before 1986, when an amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act banned lead plumbing, pose the greatest hazard. Fountains may be fed water through lead pipes commonly used in the early 20th century. Older water coolers may have lead linings and components.
But even newer buildings can face a threat. Under industry pressure, Congress defined "lead-free" in the amendment as no more than 8 percent lead. Plumbing hardware like faucets and connectors often contained that much lead until 2013, when the permissible level fell to near zero.
Los Angeles school officials learned of the 8-percent rule the hard way. In the 131 schools built over the last decade, the district installed thousands of water fountains with long-lasting brass fittings to reduce maintenance costs. They later discovered that the leaded brass fittings tainted the water in some fountains beyond the E.P.A.'s lead standard.
The district's $19.8 million lead initiative seeks, in part, to correct that. "The approach we're taking now is to get rid of anything with a brass fitting," Roger Finstad, the district's maintenance and operations director, said.
In New York City, officials have uprooted and replaced all lead pipes leading from water mains into schools, swiftly replaced equipment when tests showed high lead levels, and ordered weekly pipe flushing at any school with a violation. All schools' water is regularly tested. The result? Only 1.3 percent of nearly 90,000 water tests have exceeded the city's lead threshold. The program is "a model for the nation," said Dr. Philip Landrigan, an expert on lead and a professor of preventive medicine and pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
That scorched-earth approach is the surest way to control lead threats, but few school systems have the money or knowledge to pursue it. Many instead follow a whack-a-mole strategy, testing a sample of water sources, then fixing or disabling ones with excessive lead concentrations.
The Los Angeles Unified School District allotted $19.8 million in September to retrofit or remove its 48,000 drinking fountains to erase a small but tenacious lead threat. Ithaca, N.Y., schools switched temporarily to bottled water in January after water tests found elevated lead levels at two schools.
Congress could easily have cracked down on lead in schools. In fact, it once did. The 1988 Lead Contamination Control Act required schools to scrap lead-lined water coolers, test drinking water and remedy any contamination they found. But a federal appeals court struck down part of the law affecting schools in 1996. And while some states have devised their own lead-testing rules, federal lawmakers have yet to revisit the issue.
The only regulation left is a 1991 rule by the federal Environmental Protection Agency requiring periodic tests for lead and copper by most public water systems, whether the supplier is a big utility or a well in a trailer park or campground.
But although schools and day care centers are the main sources of water for children on most weekdays, only the few schools that operate their own wells fall under the rule. The vast majority of schools use treated water from utilities.
And while the utilities test their water, virtually all lead contamination occurs inside schools — in lead pipes, water-cooler coils and linings, and in leaded-metal fountains and taps.
"If you're a mom-and-pop coffee shop in Sparta, New Jersey, and have a private well, you're required to certify every quarter," said Robert Barrett, the chief executive of Aqua Pro-Tech Laboratories, a New Jersey environmental testing laboratory. "But if you're a school, you don't have to do anything."
Mr. Barrett, whose firm tests water in 13 states, said the Newark and Flint revelations prompted reassessments by schools and other institutions that had not scrutinized their plumbing in years, if ever.
"No one was testing," he said. "Now all of a sudden they're all going crazy."
In Newark, where school officials disclosed elevated lead levels earlier this month, Mr. Barrett's firm began testing water systemwide on March 19. Students at the 30 schools now drink bottled water, and the youngest students were offered free blood tests.
There, as in Los Angeles, high lead levels persisted even though workers flush the water pipes every weekday to push out lead that accumulates overnight. Nor did some filters on Newark school fountains reduce contamination sufficiently.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says children whose blood lead content exceeds five micrograms per deciliter — 50 parts per billion, or less than a millionth of an ounce in a pint — should see a doctor. High blood lead levels can stunt a child's mental development and damage a range of organs. But even smaller amounts can affect children's intellectual development, and the agency says no level of lead is safe.
That can be ineffective, because the levels at any fountain or tap can swing wildly as residue breaks loose in lead plumbing. Dr. Edwards, the Virginia Tech specialist, recalled testing a single tap 10 times. Eight tests judged the water perfectly safe. The other two showed "astronomical amounts of lead," he said, "like eating five to 10 paint chips."
"This is like Russian roulette," he said.
So it was in Newark, where the E.P.A. sampled water in 2003 as part of an outreach program on lead, and found contamination in three schools. The district began replacing school water fountains and installing filters on violating water sources, but never got ahead of the problem. From 2012 through 2015, nearly one in eight water samples exceeded the E.P.A.'s 15 parts-per-billion threshold.
"Did we know we had a problem? Yes," said Marion A. Bolden, Newark's superintendent early last decade. " Did we think we had adequately remediated the problem? Yes."
Here in Jersey City, the public schools are classic candidates for a lead problem. Two-thirds are over 80 years old, and a third more than a century old. The system had been under state control since 1989 because of poor management and low test scores; only recently, with Marcia Lyles as the superintendent, did the state agree to return control to local officials.
Jersey City taps and fountains went untested until the E.P.A. took samples in 2006, again part of the federal outreach program, and turned up lead concentrations up to 60 times the federal threshold at eight schools. Not until early 2008, after more tests found fresh contamination at six of the schools, did the superintendent at the time, Charles T. Epps Jr., switch those students to bottled water.
Jersey City's mayor then, Jerramiah Healy, declared the matter closed. "We believe this is a situation that is isolated to the affected schools and to certain water fountains within those schools," T he Jersey Journal newspaper quoted him as saying.
Mr. Healy was wrong. The district tested all its fountains and taps in mid-2008 and found that water in 27 more schools was as much as 80 times higher than the E.P.A.'s lead threshold. Under pressure from advocates, the district tested selected water sources at 38 buildings in 2010 and found yet more lead. In a 98-year-old school, Nicolaus Copernicus Elementary, 16 of 19 water fountains and coolers were found above permissible levels.
That school and some others were switched to bottled water, and fountains and taps were turned off. But that was not the end.
A 2013 retest of all 2,000-plus water sources found yet more contamination, including one fountain whose water tested 853 times the accepted maximum. Among those water sources were 10 in prekindergarten classes where daily tooth brushing was part of the regimen.
"Any fountains in this building, they don't even work," the Nicolaus Copernicus principal, Diane Pistilli, said this week. "Parents were concerned, and rightly so."
Michael Wines reported from Jersey City, and Patrick McGeehan and John Schwartz from New York. Kate Taylor contributed reporting from New York, and Tyler Alicea from Ithaca, N.Y. Alain Delaquérière and Doris Burke contributed research.
6) Unions Win Fee Victory as Supreme Court Ties 4-4
WASHINGTON — A case that seemed poised to deal a major blow to public unions ended in a 4-4 tie on Tuesday at the Supreme Court, effectively delivering a big victory to the unions.
When the case was argued in January, the court's conservative majority seemed ready to say that forcing public workers to support unions they had declined to join violates the First Amendment.
But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February changed the balance of power in the case, which was brought by California public schoolteachers who chose not to join unions and objected to paying for the unions' collective bargaining activities on their behalf.
A ruling in the teachers' favor would have affected millions of government workers and weakened public-sector unions, which stood to lose fees from both workers who objected to the positions the unions take and those who simply chose not to join while benefiting from the unions' efforts on their behalf.
Under California law, public employees who choose not to join unions must pay a "fair share service fee," also known as an "agency fee," typically equivalent to members' dues. The fees, the law says, are meant to pay for collective bargaining activities, including "the cost of lobbying activities." More than 20 states have similar laws.
Government workers who are not members of unions have long been able to obtain refunds for the political activities of unions like campaign spending. The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915, asked whether such workers must continue to pay for any union activities, including negotiating for better wages and benefits. A majority of the justices seemed inclined to say no.
Relying on a 1977 Supreme Court precedent, the appeals court in the case upheld the requirement that the objecting teachers pay fees. Tuesday's announcement, saying only that "the judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court," affirmed that ruling and set no new precedent.
7) Drilling Is Making Oklahoma as Quake Prone as California
"In an assessment released by the United States Geological Survey, experts said the chance of a destructive temblor in the next year is as great in parts of north-central Oklahoma and southern Kansas — where oil-and-gas operations have set off man-made quakes for about five years — as it is in the shakiest parts of quake-prone California....About seven million people live in the areas at risk of a human-induced earthquake, most of them in Oklahoma and Texas.
Over the last 15 years, those states have experienced an explosion in oil and gas production, which releases huge amounts of toxic wastewater. That wastewater is disposed of by re-injecting it into the ground, into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface, increasing the pressure on existing subterranean faults, and causing them to slip and produce tremors."
Californians have lived with the risk of a damaging earthquake for centuries. Now Oklahomans, and some Kansans, face the same threat, federal seismologists said on Monday.
In an assessment released by the United States Geological Survey, experts said the chance of a destructive temblor in the next year is as great in parts of north-central Oklahoma and southern Kansas — where oil-and-gas operations have set off man-made quakes for about five years — as it is in the shakiest parts of quake-prone California.
The warning came in the agency's map of earthquake risks, a document that for the first time included the prospects for human-caused quakes.
"By including human-induced events, our assessment of earthquake hazards has significantly increased in parts of the U.S.," Mark Petersen, the chief of the agency's Natural Seismic Hazard Mapping Project, said in a news release.
Four other states where waste disposal has led to human-induced quakes — Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas — face considerably smaller risks of damaging tremors, the agency said. About seven million people live in the areas at risk of a human-induced earthquake, most of them in Oklahoma and Texas.
Over the last 15 years, those states have experienced an explosion in oil and gas production, which releases huge amounts of toxic wastewater. That wastewater is disposed of by re-injecting it into the ground, into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface, increasing the pressure on existing subterranean faults, and causing them to slip and produce tremors.
Along with the economic boom from oil and gas exploration, Oklahoma has experienced a rising number of earthquakes. In an average year, Oklahoma has historically had fewer than two quakes of magnitude 3 or greater — roughly the level at which a tremor can be felt. Kansas has had even fewer such shocks. But last year, Oklahoma recorded 907 quakes at magnitude 3 and above, and Kansas registered 54.
Oklahoma now ranks behind only Alaska in earthquake frequency, followed by California.
Three of the quakes this year, measured at magnitudes of 4.7, 4.8 and 5.1, were among the largest in Oklahoma's history.
Including Oklahoma and southern Kansas on the map reinforces what the Geological Survey's scientists have said for some time: The huge number of small, human-caused quakes in the two states may have set the stage for a larger, more destructive one.
The area of greatest risk, the agency stated, is a swath of rural land along the Oklahoma-Kansas border that has been repeatedly rocked by tremors. Because the area is thinly populated, damage has so far has been limited.
The assessment said that in that area, there is a 5 to 12 percent chance of a level six earthquake on the Mercalli index of intensity, which rates the potential for damage. Level six indicates a strong earthquake that is widely felt, but that does not cause much damage. Level seven can cause moderate damage in ordinary buildings and considerable damage in lesser ones.
But the area of risk also extends through the central part of the state toward Oklahoma City, where the rate of quakes has recently dropped. Experts estimated the one-year risk there at between 5 and 10 percent.
Twenty other sites in the eastern and central United States have also experienced human-induced quakes, the agency said, but the threat of larger quakes in these areas is small, the agency said.
The Geological Survey emphasized that earthquake prediction was an uncertain science, and that some studies suggested that the maximum magnitude of human-induced quakes was less than that of natural ones.
Much of the region's boom in oil and gas production comes from wells that employ hydraulic fracturing of shale deep in the earth, a process commonly called fracking. But the scientists said those wells likely are responsible for only a tiny share of quakes; fracking-related earthquakes typically are too small to be felt.
In both Oklahoma and Kansas, some of the tremors over the last five years have rivaled the largest in their histories.
This year, Oklahoma has recorded more than 160 quakes with a magnitude of 3 or more. But the pace appears to have slowed after the state's oil and gas regulator, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, effectively imposed steep reductions in underground waste disposal in February and March.
Earthquake scientists have nevertheless warned that the risk of a larger quake does not necessarily drop in lock step with a decline in smaller ones. The forces that have been loosed underground, they say, can take years to sort themselves out.
The Geological Survey report also said the chances of a damaging natural earthquake had risen in some parts of the United States. Scientists noted an increase in the number of small tremors along the New Madrid fault, near Memphis, which in the early 1800s was the site of one of the nation's largest earthquakes. The increase in tremors there has slightly raised the prospects of a larger quake, the scientists said.
8) Donald Blankenship Prosecutors Urge Jail in Mine Safety Case
A federal prosecutor has urged a judge in West Virginia to sentence Donald L. Blankenship, who was chief executive of Massey Energy Company when 29 workers were killed in a mine explosion, to the maximum of a year in jail for conspiring to violate safety standards.
Lawyers for Mr. Blankenship, whom a jury convicted of a misdemeanor charge in December, asked Judge Irene C. Berger of Federal District Court in Charleston to impose a far less severe punishment of a fine and probation.
Mr. Blankenship was not tried on any charges that accused him of direct responsibility for the 2010 deaths at Upper Big Branch mine, which investigators said exploded because of improper ventilation that allowed gases to accumulate. Yet to many critics, Mr. Blankenship's conviction offers the greatest opportunity for justice after the accident, the deadliest in American mining in four decades.
Judge Berger has scheduled sentencing for April 6, and the memos that lawyers submitted late Monday are expected to shape her decision. Although the Justice Department said that federal guidelines suggested a prison term of 15 to 21 months, the law under which Mr. Blankenship was convicted does not allow Judge Berger to sentence him to more than a year.
"Given the magnitude of defendant's crime, a sentence shorter than the maximum could only be interpreted as a declaration that mine safety laws are not to be taken seriously," Steven R. Ruby, an assistant United States attorney, wrote in his sentencing recommendation. He said existing law "offers no adequate punishment" for Mr. Blankenship's conduct.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that Mr. Blankenship's seemingly unwavering focus on Massey's financial performance stimulated a corporate culture in which safety was less a priority than profits. Mr. Blankenship's leadership style and demands, they said, effectively encouraged lower-ranking employees to cut corners and accept breaches of safety rules.
On Monday, Mr. Ruby said that Mr. Blankenship had "made a conscious, coldblooded decision to gamble with the lives of the men and women who worked for him." The prosecutor asked, "Which is worse: a poor, uneducated young man who sells drugs because he sees no other opportunity, or a multimillionaire executive, at the pinnacle of his power, who decides to subject his workers to a daily game of Russian roulette?"
Defense lawyers said at trial that Mr. Blankenship had been committed to safety and argued that his demands for greater results hardly amounted to criminal behavior. On Monday, they repeated many of those assertions in their filing, which included more than 100 letters of support for Mr. Blankenship.
"The court cannot and should not conclude that the jury accepted the government's broad arguments about the nature of the offense and Mr. Blankenship's role in it," they wrote.
Mr. Blankenship, who intends to appeal his conviction, was acquitted of three felony charges that together carried the possibility of 30 years in prison. Although Mr. Blankenship's lawyers did not call any witnesses, they used an aggressive cross-examination strategy to undercut crucial components of the government's case and told jurors that safety violations in an operation as sprawling as Massey's were inevitable.
"The fact that other mines received more violations than U.B.B. is not an argument that violations should be excused," the defense wrote, using an acronym for the Upper Big Branch mine. "However, it rebuts and mitigates the government's version of the offense — that the number of regulatory citations itself proved widespread lawlessness and a conspiracy of great breadth — and the government's unsubstantiated theories that less production and more miners would have reduced safety violations."
The lawyers said Mr. Blankenship set high standards. But they also labored to portray him as committed to safety and to the well-being of West Virginia. "The defense never contested that Don Blankenship could be blunt and a hard taskmaster," they wrote, "but the truth is that he cares deeply about his family, his community, and the people who worked for him."
Judge Berger, whose father was a coal miner, has the authority to fine Mr. Blankenship up to $250,000. She may also order restitution, but that sum will probably not be set next week.
9) Brother Obama
The kings of Spain brought us the conquistadores and masters, whose footprints remained in the circular land grants assigned to those searching for gold in the sands of rivers, an abusive and shameful form of exploitation, traces of which can be noted from the air in many places around the country.
Tourism today, in large part, consists of viewing the delights of our landscapes and tasting exquisite delicacies from our seas, and is always shared with the private capital of large foreign corporations, whose earnings, if they don't reach billions of dollars, are not worthy of any attention whatsoever.
Since I find myself obliged to mention the issue, I must add—principally for the youth—that few people are aware of the importance of such a condition, in this singular moment of human history. I would not say that time has been lost, but I do not hesitate to affirm that we are not adequately informed, not you, nor us, of the knowledge and conscience that we must have to confront the realities which challenge us. The first to be taken into consideration is that our lives are but a fraction of a historical second, which must also be devoted in part to the vital necessities of every human being. One of the characteristics of this condition is the tendency to overvalue its role, in contrast, on the other hand, with the extraordinary number of persons who embody the loftiest dreams.
Nevertheless, no one is good or bad entirely on their own. None of us is designed for the role we must assume in a revolutionary society, although Cubans had the privilege of José Martí's example. I even ask myself if he needed to die, or not, in Dos Ríos, when he said, "For me, it's time," and charged the Spanish forces entrenched in a solid line of firepower. He did not want to return to the United States, and there was no one who could make him. Someone ripped some pages from his diary. Who bears this treacherous responsibility, undoubtedly the work of an unscrupulous conspirator? Differences between the leaders were well known, but never indiscipline. "Whoever attempts to appropriate Cuba will reap only the dust of its soil drenched in blood, if he does not perish in the struggle," stated the glorious Black leader Antonio Maceo. Máximo Gómez is likewise recognized as the most disciplined and discreet military chief in our history.
Looking at it from another angle, how can we not admire the indignation of Bonifacio Byrne when, from a distant boat returning him to Cuba, he saw another flag alongside that of the single star and declared, "My flag is that which has never been mercenary..." immediately adding one of the most beautiful phrases I have ever heard, "If it is torn to shreds, it will be my flag one day…our dead raising their arms will still be able to defend it!" Nor will I forget the blistering words of Camilo Cienfuegos that night, when, just some tens-of-meters away, bazookas and machine guns of U.S. origin in the hands of counterrevolutionaries were pointed toward that terrace on which we stood.
Obama was born in August of 1961, as he himself explained. More than half-a-century has transpired since that time.
Let us see, however, how our illustrious guest thinks today:
"I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people," followed by a deluge of concepts entirely novel for the majority of us.
"We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans," the U.S. President continued, "Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave-owners."
The native populations don't exist at all in Obama's mind. Nor does he say that the Revolution swept away racial discrimination, or that pensions and salaries for all Cubans were decreed by it before Mr. Barrack Obama was ten years old. The hateful, racist bourgeois custom of hiring strongmen to expel Black citizens from recreational centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution—that which would go down in history for the battle against apartheid that liberated Angola, putting an end to the presence of nuclear weapons on a continent of more than a billion inhabitants. This was not the objective of our solidarity, but rather to help the peoples of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and others under the fascist colonial domination of Portugal.
In 1961, just one year and three months after the triumph of the Revolution, a mercenary force with armored artillery and infantry, backed by aircraft, trained and accompanied by U.S. warships and aircraft carriers, attacked our country by surprise. Nothing can justify that perfidious attack which cost our country hundreds of losses, including deaths and injuries
As for the pro-Yankee assault brigade, no evidence exists anywhere that it was possible to evacuate a single mercenary. Yankee combat planes were presented before the United Nations as the equipment of a Cuban uprising.
The military experience and power of this country is very well known. In Africa, they likewise believed that revolutionary Cuba would be easily taken out of the fight. The invasion via southern Angola by racist South African motorized brigades got close to Luanda, the capital in the eastern part of the country. There a struggle began which went on for no less than 15 years. I wouldn't even talk about this, if I didn't have the elemental duty to respond to Obama's speech in Havana's Alicia Alonso Grand Theater.
Nor will I attempt to give details, only emphasize that an honorable chapter in the struggle for human liberation was written there. In a certain way, I hoped Obama's behavior would be correct. His humble origin and natural intelligence were evident. Mandela was imprisoned for life and had become a giant in the struggle for human dignity. One day, a copy of a book narrating part of Mandela's life reached my hands, and—surprise!—the prologue was by Barack Obama. I rapidly skimmed the pages. The miniscule size of Mandela's handwriting noting facts was incredible. Knowing men such as him was worthwhile.
Regarding the episode in South Africa I must point out another experience. I was really interested in learning more about how the South Africans had acquired nuclear weapons. I only had very precise information that there were no more than ten or 12 bombs. A reliable source was the professor and researcher Piero Gleijeses, who had written the text "Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976," an excellent piece. I knew he was the most reliable source on what had happened and I told him so; he responded that he had not spoken more about the matter as in the text he had responded to questions from compañero Jorge Risquet, who had been Cuban ambassador and collaborator in Angola, a very good friend of his. I located Risquet; already undertaking other important tasks he was finishing a course, which would last several weeks longer. That task coincided with a fairly recent visit by Piero to our country; I had warned him that Risquet was getting on and his health was not great. A few days later what I had feared occurred. Risquet deteriorated and died. When Piero arrived there was nothing to do except make promises, but I had already received information related to the weapons and the assistance that racist South Africa had received from Reagan and Israel.
I do not know what Obama would have to say about this story now. I am unaware as to what he did or did not know, although it is very unlikely that he knew absolutely nothing. My modest suggestion is that he gives it thought and does not attempt now to elaborate theories on Cuban policy.
There is an important issue:
Obama made a speech in which he uses the most sweetened words to express: "It is time, now, to forget the past, leave the past behind, let us look to the future together, a future of hope. And it won't be easy, there will be challenges and we must give it time; but my stay here gives me more hope in what we can do together as friends, as family, as neighbors, together."
I suppose all of us were at risk of a heart attack upon hearing these words from the President of the United States. After a ruthless blockade that has lasted almost 60 years, and what about those who have died in the mercenary attacks on Cuban ships and ports, an airliner full of passengers blown up in midair, mercenary invasions, multiple acts of violence and coercion?
Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country will renounce the glory, the rights, or the spiritual wealth they have gained with the development of education, science and culture.
I also warn that we are capable of producing the food and material riches we need with the efforts and intelligence of our people. We do not need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, as this is our commitment to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.
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