Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:












House committee votes to extend draft to women

By Courage to Resist. May 2, 2016

Sign a petition to abolish the draft

On April 27th, the House Armed Service committee voted to extend the draft to women as well as men.Their vote attached an amendment to a "must-pass" annual military spending authorization bill (HR 4909).

If the bill passes without the amendment being addressed, the President would be given the right to order women to register for the draft.

What should I do now if I don't want to register for the draft — and I don't want anyone else to have to register either?

  • Urge your representative in Congress to remove the amendment to H.R.4909 to extend draft registration to women. 
  • Sign the petition in support of HR 4523, a bill proposed to abolish the Selective Service System

>>Read more here



    HEY, HEY


David Kleinberg's solo theater work on his year
as an army combat correspondent in Vietnam


Just returned from Vietnam where amazingly I was able to perform my solo theater work "Hey, Hey, LBJ." Now six shows at the S.F. International Arts Festival at Fort Mason May 27 through June 6.

"Hey, Hey, LBJ!" charts my year as an army combat correspondent in Vietnam, a powerful work on the nation's most divisive foreign war. I go to Vietnam supporting the war. In the end, I am in Bangkok when the bombs start falling on my buddies back in Vietnam. 

Good reviews (Washington Post, Rolling Stone Magazine) and 8-show run at SF's Marsh Theater last year. More links below, 

New web on my Vietnam show -- www.lbjinvietnam -- my first trip back after 50 years. Thanks for the consideration. 

* "Fantastic . . . powerful . . . moving . . . full house . . . standing ovation . . . must see." - Michael Goldberg, ex-senior writer/associate editor Rolling Stone Magazine

"As polished and moving a piece of theater as the Capital Fringe is likely to see this year (out of 119 shows)." -- Rachel Weiner, Washington Post

* "This show brought me to tears, and I rarely ever cry when seeing a show." -- Marc Gonzalez, Fresno Bee

* "We don't normally review shows in development, but 'Hey, Hey, LBJ' is already as strong as quite a few shows we've seen on larger (Bay Area) stages." -- Doug Konecky, SF Theater Blog

Kleinberg's "lack of bravado, genuine disgust with the absurdity of war, and unabashedly deep love for his comrades carry the day and keep us with him until the end. A powerful story . . ." -- Jim Fitzmorris, New Orleans Advocate

Combat Correspondent - U.S. Army, Cu Chi, Vietnam, bronze star, 1966-67
San Francisco Chronicle - Editor/Writer 34 years; editor Sunday Datebook, 14 years
KTVU/Channel 2 - Casual producer/talent "Segment 2" pieces, 5 years
Stand-up Comedian - 10 years, appeared with Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, Richard Lewis, Sinbad

Important Links to 'Hey, Hey, LBJ!'
​Hey, Hey, LBJ! -- Full Story


LBJ Performed in Vietnam

Upcoming 'Hey, Hey, LBJ!' SF International Arts Schedule  
(Fort Mason, Southside Theater)
Friday May 27   7 pm
Sat May 28       9 pm
Sun May 29      2 pm
Friday June 3    9:30 pm
Sat June 4         6:30 pm
Sunday June 5  4:30 pm


David Kleinberg
(415) 527-7201 (mobile)  



 Tell Mayor de Blasio: Fire ALL Officers Involved in Killing Ramarley! 

 Sign the petition:





Demonstrate – Demand GM pay $4 billion to Flint

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




Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw Kindle Edition

by Kevin Rashid Johnson (Author), Tom Big Warrior (Introduction), Russell Maroon Shoatz(Introduction)




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


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


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.



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



We are concerned about Mumia's deteriorating health, as has been witnessed in recent weeks by his visiting doctor, clergy, counselors, teachers, family and friends.

Evidence of intensifying hepatitis C symptoms and possible development of the diabetes that nearly killed him a year ago calls for immediate and appropriate treatment.

Help Mumia's lawyers prepare to demand access to Mumia's medical records from court!

Call, fax and email with the following demands: 

  • Immediate provision to Mumia of anti-viral treatment to cure his Hepatitis C condition that is, as his doctor testified in court, the persistent cause of worsening skin disease, almost certain liver damage, now extreme weight-gain and hunger, and other diabetic-like conditions.
  • Immediate release of all recent blood test results to Mumia's attorneys.
  • Vigilant monitoring of Mumia for signs of diabetes, especially of his blood sugar level, since a diabetes attack nearly killed Mumia last Spring of 2015.

Tom Wolf, PA Governor 

Phone  717-787-2500

Fax 717-772-8284                                             

Email governor@pa.gov

John Wetzel, PA Department of Corrections Secretary

Phone:  717-728-2573717 787 2500

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Theresa DelBalso, SCI Mahanoy Prison Superintendent

Phone: 570-773-2158

Dr. Paul Noel, Director of Medical Care at the PA Dept of Corrections

Phone:  717-728-5309 x 5312

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Dr. Carl Keldie, Chief Medical Officer of Correct Care Solutions

Phone:  800-592-2974 x 5783

Sign the Petition now to demand Mumia's right to life-saving hepatitis C care.

Help Mumia's lawyers prepare to demand access to Mumia's medical records from court!

Thank you for keeping Mumia in your heart and mind,

Noelle Hanrahan

Director, Prison Radio


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:







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






Major Tillery was denied medical treatment, transferred and put in the hole "because of something prison administrators hate and fear among all things: prisoner unity, prisoner solidarity." -Mumia Abu-Jamal

SCI Frackville prison officials put Major Tillery back in the hole!! This is more retaliation against Tillery who is now fighting to get Hepatitis C treatment. Tillery was able to get word out through another prisoner who told us that several guards in the "AC annex" have been verbally harassing and trying to provoke men with racist comments. The "AC annex" is a cell block that houses both general population and disciplinary prisoners together. We don't have the particulars of what falsified charges they put against Major. His daughter Kamilah Iddeen heard that he got 30 days and should be out of the RHU (restricted housing unit) on March 2.

Last year Major Tillery stood up for Mumia, telling John Kerestes, the Superintendent at SCI Mahanoy, that Mumia is dying and needs to go to the hospital. Soon afterward, Mumia was rushed to the hospital in deadly diabetic shock. For that warning and refusing to remain silent in the face of medical neglect and mistreatment of all prisoners Major Tillery was put in the hole in another prison and denied medical care for his arthritis, liver problems and hepatitis C.  

Major Tillery didn't stop fighting for medical treatment for himself and other prisoners. On February 11, Major Tillery filed a 40 page, 7-count civil rights lawsuit against the Department of Corrections, the superintendents of SCI Mahanoy and SCI Frackville and other prison guards for retaliation in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Major Tillery demands that the DOC stop its retaliation, remove the false misconduct from his record, provide medical treatment and transfer him out of SCI Frackville to a different prison in eastern Pennsylvania so he remains near his family.

This lawsuit is just part of Major Tillery's fight for medical care and to protect himself and other prisoners who are standing up for justice. He has liver disease and chronic Hepatitis C that the DOC has known about for over a decade. Tillery is filing grievances against the prison and its medical staff to get the new antiviral medicine. This is part of the larger struggle to obtain Hep C treatment for the 10,000 prisoners in Pennsylvania and the estimated 700,000 prisoners nationally who have Hepatitis-C and could be cured.

Major Tillery's daughter, Kamilah Iddeen appeals for our support:

It is so important that my Dad filed this lawsuit– it shows what really goes on inside the prison. Prison officials act as if my father is their property, that his family doesn't exist, that he isn't a man with people who love him. They lied to us every time we called and said he needed treatment. They lied and said he hadn't told them, that he hadn't filed grievances. The DOC plays mind games and punishes prisoners who stand up for themselves and for others. But my Dad won't be broken.

The DOC needs to learn they can't do this to a prisoner and his family. Justice has to be done. Justice has to be served. Please help.

Major Tillery needs your calls to the DOC. He also needs help in covering the costs of the court filing fees, copying and mailing expenses amount of over $500.  Please help. Send money: Go to: www.JPay.com  Code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

Demand the Department of Corrections:

Stop the Retaliation Against Major Tillery.

Exonerate Major Tillery for the false charges of drug possession.

Remove the false misconduct from Major Tillery's record.

Transfer Major Tillery from SCI Frackville to another facility in eastern Pennsylvania near his family.

Provide decent medical care to Major Tillery and all prisoners!

Call and Email:
Brenda Tritt, Supt, SCI Frackville, (570)  874-4516, btritt@pa.gov
John Wetzel, Secty of the PA DOC, (717) 728-4109, ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Send Letters of support to:
Major Tillery AM9786
SCI Frackville
1111 Altamont Blvd.
Frackville, PA 17931

For More Information:
Call/Write: Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com
Nancy Lockhart (843) 412-2035,  thewrongfulconviction@gmail.com
Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com

Contribute: Go to www.JPay.com Code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

For more information: www.Justice4MajorTillery.blogspot.com 

Write to
Major Tillery AM 9786
SCI Frackville
1111 Altamont Blvd.
Frackville, PA 17931

For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot
Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com
Nancy Lockhart (843) 412-2035, thewrongfulconviction@gmail.com
Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com

Contribute: Go to JPay.com; code: Major Tillery AM 9786 PADOC






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."

Prison keeps us isolated. But sometimes, sisterhood can bring us together

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?


 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


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: president@whitehouse.gov and cc info@whitehouse.gov

- 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: eastbaycodepink@gmail.com



Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

Sign the Petition:


Urge Gov. Jerry Brown to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence. Cooper has always maintained his innocence of the 1983 quadruple murder of which he was convicted. In 2009, five federal judges signed a dissenting opinion warning that the State of California "may be about to execute an innocent man." Having exhausted his appeals in the US courts, Kevin Cooper's lawyers have turned to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to seek remedy for what they maintain is his wrongful conviction, and the inadequate trial representation, prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination which have marked the case. Amnesty International opposes all executions, unconditionally.

"The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." - Judge William A. Fletcher, 2009 dissenting opinion on Kevin Cooper's case

Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for more than thirty years.

In 1985, Cooper was convicted of the murder of a family and their house guest in Chino Hills. Sentenced to death, Cooper's trial took place in an atmosphere of racial hatred — for example, an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the N*****!" was hung outside the venue of his preliminary hearing.

Take action to see that Kevin Cooper's death sentence is commuted immediately.

Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

Following his trial, five federal judges said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing."

Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.

Tell California authorities: The death penalty carries the risk of irrevocable error. Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted.

In 2009, Cooper came just eight hours shy of being executed for a crime that he may not have committed. Stand with me today in reminding the state of California that the death penalty is irreversible — Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted immediately.

In solidarity,

James Clark
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

    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




    Sign the Petition:


    Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:

    Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt. Eighty-six percent of that money is owed to the United States government. This is a crushing burden for more than 40 million Americans and their families.

    I urge you to take immediate action to forgive all student debt, public and private.

    American Federation of Teachers

    Campaign for America's Future

    Courage Campaign

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    Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

    Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

    Dear Supporters and Friends,

    Show your support for Lorenzo by wearing one of our beautiful new campaign t-shirts! If you donate $20 (or more!) to the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson, we will send you a t-shirt, while supplies last. Make sure to note your size and shipping address in the comment section on PayPal, or to include this information with a check.

    Here is a message from Lorenzo's wife, Tazza Salvatto:

    My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

    Lorenzo Johnson is a son, husband, father and brother. His injustice has been a continued nightmare for our family. Words cant explain our constant pain, I wish it on no one. Not even the people responsible for his injustice. 

    This is about an innocent man who has spent 20 years and counting in prison. The sad thing is Lorenzo's prosecution knew he was innocent from day one. These are the same people society relies on to protect us.

    Not only have these prosecutors withheld evidence of my husbands innocence by NEVER turning over crucial evidence to his defense prior to trial. Now that Lorenzo's innocence has been revealed, the prosecution refuses to do the right thing. Instead they are "slow walking" his appeal and continuing their malicious prosecution.

    When my husband or our family speak out about his injustice, he's labeled by his prosecutor as defaming a career cop and prosecutor. If they are responsible for Lorenzo's wrongful conviction, why keep it a secret??? This type of corruption and bullying of families of innocent prisoners to remain silent will not be tolerated.

    Our family is not looking for any form of leniency. Lorenzo is innocent, we want what is owed to him. JUSTICE AND HIS IMMEDIATE FREEDOM!!! 

                              Lorenzo's wife,

                               Tazza Salvatto

    Lorenzo is continuing to fight for his freedom with the support of his lead counsel, Michael Wiseman, The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, and the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson.

    Thank you all for reading this message and please take the time to visit our website and contribute to Lorenzo's campaign for freedom!

    Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                DF 1036

                SCI Mahanoy

                301 Morea Rd.

                Frackville, PA 17932

     Email: Through JPay using the code:

                  Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                  Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                  Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

    Have a wonderful day!

    - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

    Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                DF 1036

                SCI Mahanoy

                301 Morea Rd.

                Frackville, PA 17932

     Email: Through JPay using the code:

                  Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                  Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com













    1)  States Move Toward Treating 17-Year-Old Offenders as Juveniles, Not Adults

    NEW ORLEANS — When Chené Marshall got into a fight in high school, she assumed she might get suspended. Instead, the police arrested her.

    Then a 17-year-old junior with no criminal record, she did not realize that Louisiana was one of the dwindling minority of states where all 17-year-olds are treated as adults by the criminal justice system.

    She was charged with battery, with bail set at $5,000. She was booked and clothed in a jumpsuit at the Orleans Parish Prison, a notoriously violent facility where she bunked along with women of all ages and histories.

    "I had a fight that first night," she recalled of her jailing in 2011. "It's called 'testing your weight,' to see if you're scared or they can own you."

    She spent three nights in the jail before her great-aunt, who had raised her from infancy, could come up with a bondsman's $650 fee and secure her release.

    Seventeen-year-olds cannot vote, buy cigarettes or even adopt a dog from an animal shelter. But as of today, in nine states, including Louisiana, they are automatically handled as adults, rather than as juveniles. In two states, New York and North Carolina, 16-year-olds are as well.

    Now Louisiana and several other states among those nine appear to be on the verge of raising the cutoff to the more standard age of 18 — part of a national "raise the age" movement that has won bipartisan support, a result of concern about high incarceration rates and growing neurological evidence that young people's brains are different from adult brains.

    A bill to phase in the higher age passed the Republican-dominated Louisiana Senate on May 2, has the strong support of Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and now appears to be moving forward in the House.

    A similar measure appears to be on the verge of adoption by the South Carolina Legislature.

    Here in Louisiana, the change could alter the lives of close to 5,000 17-year-olds who are arrested each year, mainly for nonviolent misdemeanors. Under the new law, even if they were given prolonged stays in juvenile facilities, they could receive therapy and a chance for high school degrees rather than criminal records and exposure to hardened criminals.

    To allay concerns that the state's juvenile system, already caught in a severe budget crisis, is not prepared for an influx, the bill would phase in the change, with nonviolent offenders making the switch in 2018, and the rest in 2020, said Josh Perry, executive director of the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights, which provides public defenders for children and has lobbied for the bill.

    As in other states, prosecutors would retain the option to transfer juveniles who commit particularly serious crimes into adult courts.

    In the peak "tough on crime" years of the 1990s, many states acted to send more young offenders to adult courts. But in the last seven years, Illinois and Connecticut increased the age for automatic treatment as adults to 18 from 16, and Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Mississippi raised it to 18 from 17.

    The experience in those states has bolstered the case for change, said Vincent Schiraldi, a senior research fellow in criminal justice at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a former justice official in New York City and Washington, D.C.

    While the declining crime rate makes comparisons difficult, evidence suggests that treating 17-year-old offenders as juveniles may reduce public costs over time, he said, because they are less likely to commit future crimes than youths who are punished as adults. Fears that crime would rise or detention facilities would be overwhelmed have proved incorrect.

    Officials in Connecticut, Illinois and Vermont are even discussing raising the cutoff to 21, though this is more widely disputed. In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed raising the age for adult culpability to 18, but members of the Republican-controlled Senate have expressed concerns about transitional costs as well as public safety.

    In Lafayette, La., Rob Reardon, the director of corrections for the parish, explained why he thought that both the state and the young offenders would be helped by treating 17-year-olds as juveniles.

    "This is an adult jail," he said, "and the outcomes for the young people just have to be terrible."

    On a recent day, the parish jail held eight male and one female 17-year-olds, awaiting adjudication for crimes that ranged from trespassing to murder.

    When they spend a few weeks in his jail, Mr. Reardon said — and for those who cannot make bail, it is often 90 days or more — youths are expelled from school and never graduate.

    The presence of 17-year-olds is also a major resource strain, he said. Inmates generally live in pods of 13 cells with double bunks, or 26 to a pod. According to a federal law (one that has frequently been violated in New Orleans), youths must be kept separate, so one entire pod was occupied by just the eight 17-year-old boys, who were tended 24 hours a day by a guard. The 17-year-old girl was housed alone in a unit with four cells.

    The separation also means that the youngest inmates cannot take part in activities like kitchen work. In the youth pod in Lafayette, guards had brought in coloring books and jigsaw puzzles to give the boys something to do.

    In New Orleans, Ms. Marshall, now 22, was lucky in some ways after her arrest.

    A judge allowed her to enter a diversion program; if she attended an anger management class, stayed drug free and continued in school, the criminal charge would be dropped.

    She finished high school the next year. But now, five years later, she still lives with her great-aunt, Yolanda Wills, in east New Orleans, where a mantel in their home is filled with Ms. Marshall's high school athletic trophies.

    Ms. Wills, a retired school bus driver living on disability, said she was taken aback when the police arrested Ms. Marshall and then was frustrated by what followed.

    "They said that if she goes through the program, they'd clear her record," Ms. Wills said.

    "But it didn't go anywhere," she said.

    What Ms. Wills and Ms. Marshall did not realize was that, while the criminal charge disappeared, the arrest record remained.

    Ms. Marshall said that because of that record, she has repeatedly been turned down for jobs — as a superstore clerk, as a security guard and as a postal worker, among others.

    She learned only recently from a public defender that her arrest record could be expunged — for $500 in fees.

    Ms. Wills does not have the extra cash, and Ms. Marshall has no way to earn it.

    "I can't pay to expunge the record, and I can't get a job to get the money," she said.



    2)  Charges Dropped Against Brooklyn Mail Carrier in Altercation With Police

    MAY 12, 2016





    A judge on Thursday dismissed the charges against a mail carrier who was handcuffed and arrested in March during an altercation with plainclothes police officers in Brooklyn.

    The district attorney's office had been reviewing the circumstances of the arrest — which was recorded on video — and prosecutors decided to recommend that the charges be dismissed.

    The mail carrier, Glen Grays, said he was making his rounds in the Crown Heights neighborhood when he shouted at the driver of a car that almost sideswiped him on President Street. The unmarked car held four plainclothes officers. Mr. Grays said the officers quickly put the car into reverse, got out and handcuffed him, telling him at one point to stop resisting when, it appears, he would not put his arms behind his back so officers could handcuff him.

    Mr. Grays, whose fiancée is a New York City police officer, was eventually taken to the 71st Precinct station house, where he was issued a summons for disorderly conduct and released.

    In a statement released on Thursday, Ken Thompson, the Brooklyn district attorney, said that he had asked Judge Rosemarie Montalbano to dismiss the charges against Mr. Grays "in the interest of justice." Several postal workers appeared at the dismissal hearing in Brooklyn Criminal Court in show of support for Mr. Grays.

    Kenneth E. Ramseur, the lawyer representing Mr. Grays, praised the dismissal of the charges and said he was encouraged that Mr. Thompson had "taken the bull by the horns." Mr. Ramseur added that Mr. Grays did not want the officers involved in the arrest to lose their jobs.

    The case against Mr. Grays, who is black, had drawn the attention of Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and a former police officer. Mr. Adams released the video at a news conference, expressing outrage over the apparent violation of the civil rights of yet another black man by the police. In a statement on Thursday, Mr. Adams thanked the court and Mr. Thompson for "righting a key piece of the wrong that this young man experienced."

    A few days after the episode, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton opened an investigation, citing "strong concerns" about the arrest of Mr. Grays. In early April, the supervisor who oversaw the arrest, Lt. Luis D. Machado, was placed on administrative duty and stripped of his gun and badge. The other officers involved were removed from their assignment with a specialized neighborhood troubleshooting unit and put back on regular patrol.

    Stephen Davis, a spokesman for the Police Department, said on Thursday that Lieutenant Machado would be served with departmental charges and the other officers would face discipline from their commanders.



    3)  New York Police Criticized for Using Restraining Bag in Arrest

    The arrest on a New York City sidewalk was so startling to a bystander that he took a video of it. And when he posted the video online with the label "Police Brutality," some viewers denounced the officers' tactic as disturbing and inhumane.

    The video showed a man lying on the ground, his ankles and legs bound in bright orange tape, both hands secured behind his back. Four to five officers searched the pockets of his pants and jacket. They then lifted him up, dropped him onto a white bag, strapped him in and covered his head. He was carried, wrapped up like a mummy with only his feet poking out, and deposited — alive — against a wall.

    "I've never in my entire life seen anything like this," said the unidentified man videotaping the arrest near a subway stop at 14th Street and Seventh Avenue earlier this year.

    But the scene was not that unusual, and coming amid national scrutiny of the authorities' use of force and protests after episodes like the death of Eric Garner, who was put in a chokehold by an officer and died in police custody on Staten Island, there is no evidence that the officers involved in the arrest in Manhattan violated police policy.

    For onlookers who had never witnessed a live man being strapped into what looked like a body bag, the sight was unsettling. But the bag in the video, stenciled with "NYPD" and "ESU," is known as a mesh restraining device. The bags are used to restrain people judged to be emotionally disturbed.

    Carla Rabinowitz, an advocacy coordinator for Community Access, which helps people with mental illness, has called on the New York Police Department to stop using the ventilated bags. In a letter last month to Deputy Commissioner Susan A. Herman and Deputy Chief Theresa Tobin, she called the use of the bags "dehumanizing" and "dangerous."

    A Police Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Ms. Rabinowitz's letter. Ms. Rabinowitz later said in an email that she had since spoken to the police and that they had defended using the restraint.

    According to a criminal complaint, the man who was strapped into the ventilated bag, Johnell Muhammad, had been suspected of failing to pay the subway fare, and when officers tried to arrest him, he flailed his arms, kicked and spit at them. Mr. Muhammad struck one officer in the head with his elbow; another was injured trying to subdue him, the complaint said.

    Mr. Muhammad had two pipes with crack cocaine residue, the complaint said, and he faces felony assault and other charges.

    Andrew R. Miller, a lawyer for Mr. Muhammad, denounced the officers' actions, calling them "excessive and totally unreasonable."

    "He was the victim of the assault, instead of the other way around," Mr. Miller said.

    The video, which was shot in March, highlighted a daily problem faced by officers responding to people who are out of control because of mental illness or drugs: How to defuse situations with the least amount of force while also protecting themselves, the public and the person being helped?

    In response to questions about the bags, the Police Department said it had used the restraints for 25 years. The department said only "highly trained members" of the Emergency Service Unit were authorized to use them. The person being restrained is assessed while being held and afterward, and is taken by an ambulance to a hospital for medical and psychological evaluation.

    From Jan. 1 through April 20 of this year, the bag was used 122 times, the police said, or about once a day. During that same period, the department said, it received more than 44,000 emergency calls about emotionally disturbed people.

    Robert J. Louden, a retired chief hostage negotiator with the Police Department and a professor emeritus of criminal justice and homeland security at Georgian Court University in New Jersey, called the restraints an "imperfect solution to very difficult situations."

    "There are no great options," he said.

    Over the years, the department has experimented with plastic shields, netting and Tasers to deal with emotionally disturbed people, Mr. Louden said. It re-evaluated its approaches starting in 1984, after an officer shot and killed Eleanor Bumpers, an emotionally disturbed woman in the Bronx who was attacking another officer with a kitchen knife.

    Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said in an email that irrational people could kick, punch, grab, spit on, bite or head-butt officers, for whom the choices were "try to go slow, talk to the person who is acting out, and appear humane and measured, or act with deliberation and speed."

    Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said: "You look for what is the most humane thing to do in these kinds of situations. When someone does not want to be brought to a hospital, they are not going to be easy to handle."

    Gene DeSantis, chief executive of DeSantis Gunhide, a manufacturer of the bags, said his company had sold fewer than 500 to police departments across the country.

    Ms. Rabinowitz, of Community Access, said she learned about them only recently. "Use of such restraint traumatizes a person in emotional distress and exacerbates the condition and experience of the crisis for the individual," she said in an email. "It is a dehumanizing tactic, and promotes stigma against people with mental health issues."

    In an interview, she credited the Police Department with doing a good job in crisis intervention team training, which seeks to de-escalate confrontations between officers and people with mental illness.

    But she said she worried about using the restraints on veterans who are mentally ill and might associate them with bags used in wars to transport the dead.

    "If people in the mental health community find out that their fate is to be put in a body bag, they will fight even harder to not get into a body bag," she said.



    4)  Pfizer Blocks the Use of Its Drugs in Executions

    The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced on Friday that it had imposed sweeping controls on the distribution of its products to ensure that none are used in lethal injections, a step that closes off the last remaining open-market source of drugs used in executions.

    More than 20 American and European drug companies have already adopted such restrictions, citing either moral or business reasons. Nonetheless, the decision from one of the world's leading pharmaceutical manufacturers is seen as a milestone.

    "With Pfizer's announcement, all F.D.A.-approved manufacturers of any potential execution drug have now blocked their sale for this purpose," said Maya Foa, who tracks drug companies for Reprieve, a London-based human rights advocacy group. "Executing states must now go underground if they want to get hold of medicines for use in lethal injection."

    The obstacles to lethal injection have grown in the last five years as manufacturers, seeking to avoid association with executions, have barred the sale of their products to corrections agencies. Experiments with new drugs, a series of botched executions and covert efforts to obtain lethal chemicals have mired many states in court challenges.

    The mounting difficulty in obtaining lethal drugs has already caused states to furtively scramble for supplies.

    Some states have used straw buyers or tried to import drugs from abroad that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, only to see them seized by federal agents. Some have covertly bought supplies from loosely regulated compounding pharmacies while others, including Arizona, Oklahoma and Ohio, have delayed executions for months or longer because of drug shortages or legal issues tied to injection procedures.

    A few states have adopted the electric chair, firing squad or gas chamber as an alternative if lethal drugs are not available. Since Utah chooses to have a death penalty, "we have to have a means of carrying it out," said State Representative Paul Ray as he argued last year for authorization of the firing squad.

    Lawyers for condemned inmates have challenged the efforts of corrections officials to conceal how the drugs are obtained, saying this makes it impossible to know if they meet quality standards or might cause undue suffering.

    "States are shrouding in secrecy aspects of what should be the most transparent government activity," said Ty Alper, associate director of the death penalty clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

    Before Missouri put a prisoner to death on Wednesday, for example, it refused to say in court whether the lethal barbiturate it used, pentobarbital, was produced by a compounding pharmacy or a licensed manufacturer. Akorn, the only approved company making that drug, has tried to prevent its use in executions.

    Pfizer's decision follows its acquisition last year of Hospira, a company that has made seven drugs used in executions including barbiturates, sedatives and agents that can cause paralysis or heart failure. Hospira had long tried to prevent diversion of its products to state prisons but had not succeeded; its products were used in a prolonged, apparently agonizing execution in Ohio in 2014, and are stockpiled by Arkansas, according to documents obtained by reporters.

    Because these drugs are also distributed for normal medical use, there is no way to determine what share of the agents used in recent executions were produced by Hospira, or more recently, Pfizer.

    Campaigns against the death penalty, and Europe's strong prohibitions on the export of execution drugs, have raised the stakes for pharmaceutical companies. But many, including Pfizer, say medical principles and business concerns have guided their policies.

    "Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve," the company said in Friday's statement, and "strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment."

    Pfizer said it would restrict the sale to selected wholesalers of seven products that could be used in executions. The distributors must certify that they will not resell the drugs to corrections departments and will be closely monitored.

    David B. Muhlhausen, an expert on criminal justice at the Heritage Foundation, accused Pfizer and other drug companies of "caving in to special interest groups." He said that while the companies have a right to choose how their products are used, their efforts to curb sales for executions "are not actually in the public interest" because research shows, he believes, that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on crime.

    Pressure on the drug companies has not only come from human rights groups. Trustees of the New York State pension fund, which is a major shareholder in Pfizer and many other producers, have used the threat of shareholder resolutions to push two other companies to impose controls and praised Pfizer for its new policy.

    "A company in the business of healing people is putting its reputation at risk when it supplies drugs for executions," Thomas P. DiNapoli, the state comptroller, said in an email. "The company is also risking association with botched executions, which opens it to legal and financial damage."

    Less than a decade ago, lethal injection was generally portrayed as a simple, humane way to put condemned prisoners to death. Virtually all executions used the same three-drug combination: sodium thiopental, a barbiturate, to render the inmate unconscious, followed by a paralytic and a heart-stopping drug.

    In 2009, technical production problems, not the efforts of death-penalty opponents, forced the only federally approved factory that made sodium thiopental to close. That, plus more stringent export controls in Europe, set off a cascade of events that have bedeviled state corrections agencies ever since.

    Many states have experimented with new drug combinations, sometimes with disastrous results, such as the prolonged execution of Joseph R. Wood III in Arizona in 2014, using the sedative midazolam. The state's executions are delayed as court challenges continue.

    Under a new glaring spotlight, deficiencies in execution procedures and medical management have also been exposed. After winning a Supreme Court case last year for the right to execute Richard E. Glossip and others using midazolam, Oklahoma had to impose a stay only hours before Mr. Glossip's scheduled execution in September. Officials discovered they had obtained the wrong drug, and imposed a moratorium as a grand jury conducts an investigation.

    A majority of the 32 states with the death penalty have imposed secrecy around their drug sources, saying that suppliers would face severe reprisals or even violence from death penalty opponents. In a court hearing this week, a Texas official argued that disclosing the identity of its pentobarbital source "creates a substantial threat of physical harm."

    But others, noting the evidence that states are making covert drug purchases, see a different motive. "The secrecy is not designed to protect the manufacturers, it is designed to keep the manufacturers in the dark about misuse of their products," said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a research group in Washington.

    Georgia, Missouri and Texas have obtained pentobarbital from compounding pharmacies, which operate without normal F.D.A. oversight and are intended to help patients meet needs for otherwise unavailable medications.

    But other states say they have been unable to find such suppliers.

    Texas, too, is apparently hedging its bets. Last fall, shipments of sodium thiopental, ordered by Texas and Arizona from an unapproved source in India, were seized in airports by federal officials.

    For a host of legal and political reasons as well as the scarcity of injection drugs, the number of executions has declined, to just 28 in 2015, compared with a recent peak of 98 in 1999, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.



    5)  A Plan to Flood San Francisco With News on Homelessness

    MAY 15, 2016



    SAN FRANCISCO — As the editor in chief of The San Francisco Chronicle, Audrey Cooper has overseen countless stories on homelessness. But the issue became personal three years ago when she was pushing her 6-month-old child in a stroller through the city's business district. A homeless couple in a tent on the sidewalk were having sex, tent flaps open, as their pit bull stood guard.

    Ms. Cooper expressed her outrage loudly and in colorful language.

    "I probably shouldn't have started yelling at them," she said in an interview in her fishbowl office in the heart of the Chronicle's newsroom. "They let their dog loose."

    San Francisco residents have over decades become inured to encounters with the city's homeless population, the clumps of humanity sleeping on sidewalks under coats and makeshift blankets, or drug addicts shooting up in full view of pedestrians. There are also the tension-filled but common scenes of mentally ill men and women stumbling down streets, arguing with imaginary enemies or harassing passers-by.

    One particularly vocal group of residents, San Francisco's journalists, say they feel a sense of urgency in addressing the problem. They are banding together in an exasperated, but as yet vaguely defined, attempt to spur the city into action.

    Next month, media organizations in the Bay Area are planning to put aside their rivalries and competitive instincts for a day of coordinated coverage on the homeless crisis in the city. The Chronicle, which is leading the effort, is dispensing with traditional news article formats and will put forward possible solutions to the seemingly intractable plight of around 6,000 people without shelter.

    Representatives from Bay Area television and radio stations, The Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, Mother Jones and online publications, among others, met last month to figure out a plan to share resources and content. They agreed to publish their reports on homelessness on June 29.

    "We are all frustrated," said Jon Steinberg, the editor in chief of San Francisco magazine, which is also taking part. "We are all fed up. We feel there is not enough movement and accountability on the issue."

    "We want the full force of the Fourth Estate to bear down on this problem," he added.

    Thirty news organizations have confirmed their participation. KQED, a public television and radio station, is also taking a lead role in the campaign.

    The premise of the effort is to create a "wave" of coverage that will force politicians to come up with solutions, Ms. Cooper said.

    "You will not be able to log onto Facebook, turn on the radio, watch TV, read a newspaper, log onto Twitter without seeing a story about the causes and solutions to homelessness," she said.

    At a time of tight budgets, collaboration has become increasingly common in the news business. This year's Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism was won by a combined team from The Tampa Bay Times and The Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida. Still, the San Francisco collaboration stands out for the number of organizations involved and, in the case of The Chronicle, the emphasis on proposing solutions.

    Ms. Cooper said The Chronicle will run a week of coverage, including four articles that she described as something akin to a science project: putting forth a hypothesized solution and investigating it. The first proposal is that the city build a mental health center large enough to treat the mentally ill on the streets. The article will explore the cost and the feasibility of institutionalizing people.

    "We need to be a hell of a lot more creative about how we solve this problem," Ms. Cooper said. "And we are probably going to have to break some dishes to do it." The paper's articles and photographs will be offered free to all participants. The paper will also run a front-page editorial with its conclusions on what solutions should be pursued.

    Advocacy is a longstanding taboo in American journalism, making reporters and editors wary of discussing solutions to the problems they highlight in their coverage. One rationale for this is that journalists who advocate causes might be selective in their reporting or biased in their coverage.

    In a city known for its liberal traditions, the question of whether San Francisco's journalists are crossing into activism has not come up, at least not in the initial meeting of news organizations last month.

    "It was sort of shocking that there was no dissension," said Holly Kernan, the executive editor for news at KQED, the public broadcaster that hosted the meeting. "On the contrary, the conversation was, 'Let's do way more.'"

    Ms. Kernan said her station plans "blanket" coverage on June 29, but will not propose solutions. "I see what we are doing as pure journalism," Ms. Kernan said.

    Aaron Pero, news director of KRON-TV, a Bay Area television news station, said he planned to have a report on homelessness each day for a week, possibly profiles of homeless people.

    "I wasn't going to try to figure out how to solve the homeless problem," Mr. Pero said. "My vision was to send a number of reporters out and to find a profile that we could do every single day."

    Mr. Pero said it was "really awesome that all these media outlets are coming together."

    "I don't think it's been done anywhere else," he added.

    Only one local outlet, KCBS, a news radio station, declined to participate.

    "It's not because of any lack of interest in the homeless or any perception that the story is unimportant to our listeners," Jack Swanson, the director of news and programming at KCBS, said in an email. "Like many media outlets in the Bay Area we cover the homeless situation in our communities and will continue to cover it, on a regular basis."

    (A New York Times reporter also attended the meeting. While The Times is not participating in the coordinated coverage, it has and will continue to cover homelessness as a major issue in the city.)

    Proponents of solutions-oriented journalism are applauding the initiative.

    Andrew Donohue, a senior editor at the Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit organization that partners with other media on reporting projects, said the single-minded, muckraking focus of some journalism has made the public more cynical. "There's outrage fatigue," Mr. Donohue said. "You can very easily leave people feeling helpless, which can then lead to being disengaged."

    Courtney Martin, a founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization that advocates journalism that covers solutions to social problems, said she was thrilled to hear of the San Francisco project.

    "This is the kind of thing that is music to our ears," Ms. Martin said. "We have this bias in the media to think that our only job is the watchdog role."

    A journalist's job, she said, "is not to pick a winner."

    "Your job is to investigate solutions," she said. "People want to read about how to fix broken systems."



    6)  Hiring Hurdle: Finding Workers Who Can Pass a Drug Test

    MAY 17, 2016


    SAVANNAH, Ga. — A few years back, the heavy-equipment manufacturer JCB held a job fair in the glass foyer of its sprawling headquarters near here, but when a throng of prospective employees learned the next step would be drug testing, an alarming thing happened: About half of them left.

    That story still circulates within the business community of this historic port city. But the problem has gotten worse.

    All over the country, employers say they see a disturbing downside of tighter labor markets as they try to rebuild from the worst recession since the Depression: They are struggling to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test.

    That hurdle partly stems from the growing ubiquity of drug testing, at corporations with big human resources departments, in industries like trucking where testing is mandated by federal law for safety reasons, and increasingly at smaller companies.

    But data suggest employers' difficulties also reflect an increase in the use of drugs, especially marijuana — employers' main gripe — and also heroin and other opioid drugs much in the news.

    Ray Gaster, the owner of lumber yards on both sides of the Georgia-South Carolina border, recently joined friends at a retreat in Alabama to swap business talk. The big topic? Drug tests.

    "They were complaining about trying to find drivers, or finding people, who are drug-free and can do some of the jobs that they have," Mr. Gaster said. He shared their concern.

    Drug use in the work force "is not a new problem. Back in the '80s, it was pretty bad, and we brought it down," said Calvina L. Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation. But, she added, "we've seen it edging back up some," and increasingly, both employers and industry associations "have expressed exasperation."

    Data on the scope of the problem is sketchy because figures on job applicants who test positive for drugs miss the many people who simply skip tests they cannot pass.

    Nonetheless, in its most recent report, Quest Diagnostics, which has compiled employer-testing data since 1988, documented an increase for a second consecutive year in the percentage of Americans who tested positive for illicit drugs — to 4.7 percent in 2014 from 4.3 percent in 2013. And 2013 was the first year in a decade to show an increase.

    John Sambdman, who employs about 100 people in Atlanta at Samson Trailways, which provides transportation for schools, events, tour groups and the military, must test job applicants and, randomly, employees. Many job seekers "just don't bother to show up at the drug-testing place," he complained. Just on Thursday, Mr. Sambdman said, an applicant failed a drug test.

    In August, Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia promised to develop a program to help because so many business owners tell him "the No. 1 reason they can't hire enough workers is they can't find enough people to pass a drug test."

    That program is still under discussion. When job seekers contact Georgia's Department of Labor, which provides some recruitment services to employers, the state would like to begin testing them for drugs; individuals who test positive could receive drug counseling and ultimately job placement assistance, Mark Butler, the state labor commissioner, said in an interview.

    "Obviously, it's not an easy process, and it would be costly," Mr. Butler said. "But you've got to think: What is the reverse of that?" People needed to fill jobs are turned away, and, he added, "it's pretty much a national issue."

    In Indiana, Mark Dobson, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County, said that when he went to national conferences, the topic was "such a common thread of conversation – whether it's in an area like ours that's really enjoying very low unemployment levels or even areas with more moderate employment bases."

    In Colorado, "to find a roofer or a painter that can pass a drug test is unheard-of," said Jesse Russow, owner of Avalanche Roofing & Exteriors, in Colorado Springs. That was true even before Colorado, like a few other states, made recreational use of marijuana legal.

    In a sector where employers like himself tend to rely on Latino workers, Mr. Russow tried to diversify three years ago by recruiting white workers, vetting about 80 people. But, he said, "As soon as I say 'criminal background check,' 'drug test,' they're out the door."

    While employers' predicament is worsened by a smaller hiring pool, the drug problem for those that require testing is not as bad as it once was. "If we go back to 1988, the combined U.S. work force positivity was 13.6 percent when drug testing was new," said Dr. Barry Sample, Quest's director of science and technology.

    But two consecutive years of increases are worrisome, he said.

    A much broader data trove, the federal government's annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reported in September that one in 10 Americans ages 12 and older reported in 2014 that they had used illicit drugs within the last month — the largest share since 2001.

    Taken together, Mr. Sample said, his data and the government's indicate higher drug use among those who work for employers without a drug-testing program than workers who are tested, though use by the latter increased as well in 2013 and 2014.

    Testing dates to the Reagan administration. The 1988 Drug-Free Workplace Act required most employers with federal contracts or grants to test workers. In 1991, Congress responded to a deadly 1987 train crash in which two operators tested positive for marijuana by requiring testing for all "safety sensitive" jobs regulated by the Transportation Department. Those laws became the model for other employers. Some states give businesses a break on workers' compensation insurance if they are certified as drug-free.

    Here at the main yard of Gaster Lumber and Hardware, faded certificates and signs ("Drugs Don't Work Here") attest to its certification as a drug-free workplace since 1994.

    Mr. Gaster's human resources director, Chuck Keller, said that status reduced workers' compensation payments for its nearly 50 employees by 7.5 percent in Georgia and 5 percent in South Carolina. The savings, about $4,000 this year, offset costs of about $2,500 for laboratory and on-site testing and related requirements.

    "We're always short of drivers," Mr. Gaster said, "and drug testing is part of it."

    Terry Donaldson, 53, who was tested when he started 20 years ago, supports the policy: "If they want to have a good job, the drugs got to go."

    So it was for some of his new co-workers.

    Britt Sikes, 38 and a single father to three young girls, lost his teeth to methamphetamine and used marijuana since he was 8 — until three weeks before taking the test for his $13-an-hour job as a Gaster door installer.

    "I'm a recovering drug addict myself, and to raise my girls, I had to learn to leave it alone," Mr. Sikes said.

    Kevin Canty, 55, said that in his experience, "most people can't pass the drug test because they don't want to pass a drug test."

    "They want the job," he added, but "they still want to be in that lifestyle. And they have to choose."

    One of the newest hires, Frederick Brown, 34, said, "I come from a society where drugs is common – marijuana, weed, it's common," and people who cannot pass a drug test seek work at McDonald's. Most restaurants do not test.

    "I asked for this job," Mr. Brown said, calling it a blessing. "I already knew what I had to do — you know what I'm saying?"



    7)  Is Your Food 'Natural'? F.D.A. to Weigh In



    8)  CEOs Get 335 Times What Average Worker Makes: Unions

    MAY 17, 2016, 11:00 A.M. E.D.T.


    BOSTON — Chief executive officers of S&P 500 companies on average made 335 times more money than the average rank-and-file worker last year, down from a multiple of 373 in 2014, according to a union study released on Tuesday.

    The figures released annually by the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. federation of labor unions, are likely to gain attention. Pay disparities, which have persisted despite a steady American economy that has reduced the joblessness rate to around 5 percent and raised wages somewhat, have fueled political debate.

    The average production and non-supervisory worker made around $36,900 last year, up from roughly $36,000 in 2014, according to a statement from the AFL-CIO.

    Meanwhile the average CEO of an S&P 500 company made $12.4 million last year, down from $13.5 million in 2014. An AFL-CIO spokeswoman said the lower average CEO compensation figure reflected how for many the present value of future pension benefits declined.

    Union leaders said the figures showed how pay decisions do not favor the average worker. "The income inequality that exists in this country is a disgrace," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement. "We must stop Wall Street CEOs from continuing to profit on the backs of working people."

    The high levels of executive pay have drawn criticism from both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump in the current U.S. presidential campaign.

    Nonetheless, top shareholders have overwhelmingly supported management on executive compensation decisions, according to the advisory "say on pay" votes most public companies hold annually.

    Starting in 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will require public companies to disclose the ratio of the pay of their CEO to the median compensation of their employees.

    (Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)



    9)  Paying for Years Lost Behind Bars

    MAY 18, 2016



    Glenn Ford served 30 years in Louisiana prisons — nearly all on death row — for a murder he did not commit. He was freed in 2014 but died in 2015 from lung cancer that had gone untreated while he was behind bars.

    Louisiana law provides for up to $330,000 in compensation to people who have been wrongfully imprisoned, but state courts have repeatedly denied Mr. Ford, and now his estate, even that inadequate amount. They say he could not prove he was innocent of a robbery that was connected to the murder for which he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death, even though he was never charged with that robbery.

    A Louisiana lawmaker introduced a bill last month that would make it easier for people in Mr. Ford's situation to recover money from the state, but it died in a House committee. The state's recalcitrance in this case is reprehensible. Shortly before Mr. Ford's death, even the prosecutor who sent Mr. Ford to prison apologized for his mistakes in a letter to the editor of The Shreveport Times.

    At least Louisiana has a compensation statute. Twenty states have no such laws, which means people who spent years or decades wrongfully imprisoned have to bring lawsuits if they want the government to pay for the wrong done to them. Very often, those suits fail because they require proof of official misconduct.

    But even where compensation laws exist, they can be badly flawed. Most states, like Louisiana, place the burden on people who were wrongly convicted to prove their innocence before any payment is made. Several states offer embarrassingly small payouts, like New Hampshire, which gives a flat sum of $20,000 no matter how long a person spent behind bars. Others have laws riddled with unreasonable restrictions, like in Florida, where compensation is denied to anyone who has ever been convicted of a felony.

    Some refuse to pay anyone who pleaded guilty or who confessed to a crime he or she did not commit, despite evidence that many innocent people do both. Over all, nearly one-third of the 341 defendants around the country who have been exonerated with DNA evidence have received no compensation.

    Finally, most compensation statutes fail to provide those coming out of prison with crucial social services like education, health care, job training and housing. As a result, far too many people end up like Glenn Ford, released directly to the streets, with no money and no prospects.

    By the low standards of compensation laws, Texas has perhaps the best. It gives exonerees a lump-sum payout of $80,000 for every year spent behind bars, an additional annuity in the same amount, and funds to help people reintegrate into society. While that is more money than other states offer, it's still a pittance compared with the loss of years or decades of one's life. And Texas also bars anyone who takes the payment from filing a civil suit later.

    A better compensation law would allow bigger payments, which might deter prosecutorial misconduct that leads to wrongful convictions, and also permit lawsuits for the immeasurable damage done.



























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