Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










UNACpeace@gmail.com           518-227-6947              www.UNACpeace.org

Join UNAC at the No War 2016 conference in Washington, DC, September 23 - 25, 2015

For more information:  http://worldbeyondwar.org/NoWar2016/

Save the Date.
The next UNAC conference will be held in Richmond, VA from April 21 - 23, 2017

Also, UNAC is a co-sponsor of the Southern Human Rights Organizers' Conference, which will be held in Mississippi from December 9 - 12.  UNAC has been making important inroads in the South for the movement against the wars at home and abroad.  This will be an important conference for the movement as a whole and UNAC will also contribute financially to make it a success.  If you can help with this effort by making a contribution for the conference, please contribute here:https://www.unacpeace.org/donate.html and the money will be used for the SHROC.

UNAC has added a page on political prisoners in the U.S. to our web site.  Please see:https://www.unacpeace.org/political-prisoners.html

UNAC will also be adding a blog to our web site with articles, video and more from our members and friends.  More information will follow soon.

* All reports and articals represent the ideas of the author and not necessarily of UNAC or any of its affiliated groups.

If your organization would like to join the UNAC coalition, please click here: https://www.unacpeace.org/join.html



Don't forget to save dates for Ali Abunimah speaking in Berkeley on Oct. 18, Chivvis Moore's book event on Sept. 27 in Oakland -- and Noura Erakat in Oakland Nov. 17!

Tickets for Ali's event will be available very soon, more info on all these events below.


Book Reading with Bay Area Author/Activist Chivvis Moore
Tuesday, September 27 in Oakland

Please Join Us!

Book Reading with Bay Area Author/Activist CHIVVIS MOORE

& her new memoir:

First Tie Your Camel, Then Trust in God: 

An American Feminist in the Arab World

Tuesday, September 27, 7pm

360 42nd Street, Oakland

FREE -- and we hope you'll buy Chivvis' book, which benefits MECA!

What begins as a trip to meet Hassan Fathy – Egyptian author of the influential Architecture for the Poor – becomes a 16-year odyssey, one that stretches from a year working in a master carpenter's shop in Egypt to 11 years teaching English in Palestine. Offering a portrait of a land and a people not found in headlines or sound bytes, Chivvis' book humanizes the misunderstandings and tragedies that arise when we fail to appreciate the humanity at the core of us all.

"I have been reading your beautiful, sad, and deeply moving story, learning a lot of disturbing history about something I thought I knew about but never saw in such depth. This is an important memoir that…evokes tears and also some laughter, with a great sense of compassion and empathy."

–Alan Rinzler, former editor, Simon & Schuster

"I cried all the way through reading First Tie Your Camel. The tone, the genuine and honest description of reactions and feelings about the experiences, enabled me to truly understand for the first time why, as a Palestinian living in the West Bank, I always feel so upset and physically ill."

– Muna Giacaman, Instructor, Bir Zeit University, West Bank

"Chivvis takes us on a journey that is fascinating, eye-opening, and ultimately heart-breaking – initially as a fresh-eyed newcomer working in a 1970's community in Cairo that most Americans have never seen – to life in occupied Palestine, before and after the 2nd intifada…She leads from the heart, earning hard-won respect from Palestinian neighbors, students, colleagues. Honest, unassuming and vulnerable, she asks the hard questions."

– Penny Rosenwasser, MECA staffer & author, Hope into Practice, Jewish women choosing justice despite our fears

Chivvis Moore lived 16 years in the Arab world, including 11 years in the West Bank. She has earned her living as a journalist, carpenter/general building contractor, editor and teacher.

Wheelchair accessible

Cosponsored by Joining Hands, Jewish Voice for Peace/Bay Area

Electronic Intifada co-founder/director Ali Abunimah
Tuesday, October 18 in Berkeley

Electronic Intifada co-founder/director ALI ABUNIMAH!

Tuesday, October 18, 7pm

First Congregational Church of Berkeley

2345 Channing Way (@ Dana)

Ali Abunimah is a Palestinian-American journalist and author of "The Battle for Justice in Palestine" -- which won the 2014 Palestine Book Award -- and "One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse." He received the 2013 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship and has been an activist on these issues for over 20 years.

Alice Walker calls him "a special voice to champion us, one that is… fierce, wise -- a warrior for justice and peace -- someone whose large heart, one senses, beyond his calm, is constantly on fire."

Tickets available soon!

Benefit for MECA, wheelchair accessible

Cosponsored by KPFA, Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), Jewish Voice for Peace/Bay Area

COMING UP NOVEMBER 17 IN OAKLAND: Palestinian Activist/Scholar/Human Rights Attorney 

NOURA ERAKAT, Back in the Bay!


Rumi's Caravan: Recitation of World Poetry -- benefiting MECA

Saturday, September 10 in Oakland

Copyright (C) 2016 Middle East Children's Alliance All rights reserved.

Middle East Children's Alliance

1101 8th Street

Berkeley CA 94710 United States



Chelsea Manning Support Network

Chelsea faces charges related to suicice attempt

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Chelsea Manning threatened with indefinite solitary confinement for suicide attempt

Yesterday, (July 28) Chelsea Manning found out she is yet again being threatened with the possibility of indefinite solitary confinement.

In a jarringly callous move, Army officials are charging Chelsea with "offenses" related to her suicide attempt earlier this month.

If convicted, her punishment could be indefinite solitary confinement,reclassification into maximum security, and an additional nine years in medium custody. Her chance of parole may be negated.

Read the charge sheet here, dictated over the phone by Chelsea to a Support Network volunteer.

"It is deeply troubling that Chelsea is now being subjected to an investigation and possible punishment for her attempt to take her life. The government has long been aware of Chelsea's distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary," said ACLU Staff Attorney Chase Strangio. 

"Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain. It is unconscionable and we hope that the investigation is immediately ended and that she is given the health care that she needs to recover." Read more here

Chelsea has already faced indefinite solitary confinement threats last year, for innocuous institutional offenses, such as having an expired tube of toothpaste.

Sign the petition

Our friends at Fight for the Future have created a petition where you can sign on to a letter condemning the US Army's attack on Chelsea.

Write the Secretary of the Army

Pressure the Secretary of the Army to take a personal interest and dismiss these cruel and absurd charges against Chelsea.



WASHINGTON, DC 20310-010

Help us pay for Chelsea's legal representation

This May, Chelsea's appellate team filed a brief beginning her appeal process. Your support is critical, not just to continue fighting these ongoing threats from prison officials, but to help challenge Chelsea's draconian 35-year prison sentence and her unjust Espionage Act conviction.

Thank you to those who have already contributed, and to everyone who continues to support Chelsea during this long and strenuous process.

Chelsea can continue to be a powerful voice for reform, but we need your help to make that happen. Help us support Chelsea in prison, maximize her voice in the media, continue public education, fund her legal appeals team, and build a powerful movement for presidential pardon.

Please donate today!










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

Judge Robert Mariani of the U.S. District Court has issued an order in Mumia's case, granting Mumia's lawyers Bret Grote and Robert Boyle's motion to supplement the record. 

New medical records documenting Mumia's deteriorated condition from February and March, will be presented June 6th. Judge Mariani has also instructed the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to provide any updates and changes in DOC hep C treatment and policies which affect the plaintiff's treatment.

Calling into Prison Radio, Mumia noted: 

"My friends, my brothers, it ain't over 'til it's over, but there is some motion. It means that we're moving closer to hopefully some real treatment not of my symptoms, but of my disease. I thank you all for being there. And freedom is a constant struggle. I love you all. From what used to be death row, this is Mumia, your brother."

Mumia remains quite ill. While stable, his curable hepatitis C is still active and progressive. The only treatment Mumia has received over the last 14 months to this day is skin ointment and photo therapy. He has not received the medically indicated treatment for hep C, the very condition that put him in the Intensive Care Unit in March 2015. 

Hepatitis C is a progressive disease that attacks Mumia's organs, skin and liver. Unless the court orders the new hepatitis C treatment - one pill a day for 12 weeks, with a 95% cure rate - Mumia's health will remain at serious risk.

Before the court is the preliminary injunction motion, which demands immediate medical care.

The exhaustion of administrative remedy and the procedural hurdles make it extremely difficult for people in prison to actually get their grievances heard through the review process. The Prison Litigation Reform Act was passed specifically to create these very almost insurmountable barriers to access to the courts.

Please read the New Yorker article, Why it is Nearly Impossible for Prisoners to Sue Prisons.

In Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes, one very telling point was when the DOC's Director of Medical Care, Dr. Paul Noel, took the stand. He said that he had never testified before in court! He has worked for the DOC for over a decade.   

That meant that no prisoner had access to adversarial cross examination. Before Mumia's day in court in late December 2015, no prisoner ever had the opportunity to expose the PA DOC's blatant lies. Lies so bold that Dr. Noel disavowed his own signed affidavit, and in court he stated that he "did not sign it and it was false and misleading". The knowingly false and fabricated document was put in the record by Laura Neal, Senior DOC attorney.

Take Action for Mumia

Call prison officials to demand immediate treatment!

Dr. Paul Noel-Director of Medical Care, DOC
717-728-5309 x 5312

John Wetzel- Secretary of DOC
717+728-2573 x 4109

Dr. Carl Keldie-Chief Medical Officer, Correct Care Solutions
800-592-2974 x 5783

Theresa DelBalso-Superintendent, SCI Mahanoy
570-773-2158 x 8101

    Tom Wolf, PA Governor 

    Phone  717-787-2500

    Fax 717-772-8284                                             

    Email governor@pa.gov

    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 Battles On

    For over 31 years, Major Tillery has been a prisoner of the State.

    Despite that extraordinary fact, he continues his battles, both in the prison for his health, and in the courts for his freedom.

    Several weeks ago, Tillery filed a direct challenge to his criminal conviction, by arguing that a so-called "secret witness" was, in fact, a paid police informant who was given a get-out-of-jail-free card if he testified against Tillery.

    Remember I mentioned, "paid?"

    Well, yes--the witness was 'paid'--but not in dollars. He was paid in sex!

    In the spring of 1984, Robert Mickens was facing decades in prison on rape and robbery charges. After he testified against Tillery, however, his 25-year sentence became 5 years: probation!

    And before he testified he was given an hour and a ½ private visit with his girlfriend--at the Homicide Squad room at the Police Roundhouse. (Another such witness was given another sweetheart deal--lie on Major, and get off!)

    To a prisoner, some things are more important than money. Like sex!

    In a verified document written in April, 2016, Mickens declares that he lied at trial, after being coached by the DAs and detectives on the case.

    He lied to get out of jail--and because he could get with his girl.

    Other men have done more for less.

    Major's 58-page Petition is a time machine back into a practice that was once common in Philadelphia.

    In the 1980s and '90s, the Police Roundhouse had become a whorehouse.

    Major, now facing serious health challenges from his hepatitis C infection, stubborn skin rashes, and dangerous intestinal disorders, is still battling.

    And the fight ain't over.

    [©'16 MAJ  6/29/16]

    Major Tillery Needs Your Help and Support

    Major Tillery is an innocent man. There was no evidence against Major Tillery for the 1976 poolroom shootings that left one man dead and another wounded. The surviving victim gave a statement to homicide detectives naming others—not Tillery or his co-defendant—as the shooters. Major wasn't charged until 1980, he was tried in 1985.

    The only evidence at trial came from these jailhouse informants who were given sexual favors and plea deals for dozens of pending felonies for lying against Major Tillery. Both witnesses now declare their testimony was manufactured by the police and prosecution. Neither witness had personal knowledge of the shooting.

    This is a case of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption that goes to the deepest levels of rot in the Philadelphia criminal injustice system. Major Tillery deserves not just a new trial, but dismissal of the charges against him and his freedom from prison.

    It cost a lot of money for Major Tillery to be able to file his new pro se PCRA petition and continue investigation to get more evidence of the state misconduct. He needs help to get lawyers to make sure this case is not ignored. Please contribute, now.


      Financial Support: Tillery's investigation is ongoing, to get this case filed has been costly and he needs funds for a legal team to fight this to his freedom!

      Go to JPay.com;

      code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

      Tell Philadelphia District Attorney

      Seth Williams:

      Free Major Tillery! He is an innocent man, framed by police and and prosecution.

      Call: 215-686-8711 or

      Write to:

      Major Tillery AM9786

      SCI Frackville

      1111 Altamont Blvd.

      Frackville, PA 17931

        For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot


        Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009RachelWolkenstein@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

          Daily Kos

          Democracy for America


          Project Springboard

          RH Reality Check


          Student Debt Crisis

          The Nation

          Working Families



          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)  Racial Violence in Milwaukee Was Decades in the Making, Residents Say

          AUG. 14, 2016




          The burning buildings, smashed police cars and scuffles between police officers and angry protesters on Milwaukee's north side over the weekend might have seemed like a spontaneous eruption.

          But for many in the city's marginalized black community, it was an explosive release decades in the making.

          Milwaukee is one of the United States' most segregated cities, where black men are incarcerated or unemployed at some of the highest rates in the country, and where the difference in poverty between black and white residents is about one and a half times the national average. There are barren lots and worn-down homes all over the predominantly black north side, while mostly white crowds traffic through the restaurants and boutiques downtown, or inhabit the glossy lakefront high rises.

          Add to that the disrespect that many black people say the police show them, and many of Milwaukee's African-American residents are unsurprised by the volatile response after a police officer fatally shot a black man on Saturday — even though, as it turns out, the officer also was black.

          "This isn't just, 'Oh, my gosh, all of a sudden this happened,'" said Sharlen Moore, 39, who lives in Sherman Park, the mostly African-American neighborhood where the shooting and unrest occurred. "It's a series of things that has happened over a period of time. And right now you shake a soda bottle and you open the top and it explodes, and this is what it is."

          Milwaukee, a city of nearly 600,000, joins other embattled parts of the country like Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., where police killings did not so much draw outrage for the deaths alone, but for the systemic problems that have so many black people feeling hopeless.

          In some ways, city officials had been bracing for, if not expecting, a surge of unrest.

          After federal prosecutors declined last year to charge a former Milwaukee police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, the city's police chief, Edward A. Flynn, asked the Justice Department to work with his department to examine its patterns and practices. The review, Chief Flynn has insisted, would show that his department was doing things right and committed to transparency.

          In that shooting from 2014, the victim, Dontre Hamilton, had a history of mental illness and had been sleeping in a park when the officer, Christopher Manney, approached him. Mr. Manney, who was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, said that Mr. Hamilton, 31, had grabbed his baton and hit him, though some witnesses disputed that account.

          Chief Flynn received praise from some black people for firing Mr. Manney, but some criticized the chief because he refused to say that the shooting itself was unjustified.

          "At the end of the day, he's going to support his officers, even when wrong is wrong," Ms. Moore said.

          The authorities are still investigating whether the officer in Saturday's shooting did anything wrong. The police have so far said that two men ran from a car, one of them was armed and when he refused orders to drop his gun, an officer fatally shot him.

          In his two and a half decades as a Milwaukee police officer, Cedric Jackson said he did not feel that supervisors appropriately addressed concerns of wrongdoing within the department. One common practice, he said, was that after catching suspects who ran, officers would rough them up.

          "If they caught you in a backyard or alleyway, they'd want to beat you up," said Mr. Jackson, who is black and retired in 2011.

          His complaints about that custom to colleagues and supervisors were ignored, he said. As was the dismay he expressed about how officers policed communities that were predominantly black. White officers, he said, "really viewed blacks as less than them or animals or not deserving of respect."

          That is how Noble Durrah, 17, said he felt he was treated one day when he was walking home from school with his 4-year-old niece. The police appeared to be chasing someone and they ran through an alley and stopped him. A white officer grabbed him, he said, shoved him down and swore at him as he told him not to move.

          The officer continued his chase and then returned to ask him questions, Mr. Durrah said. "I was like, 'You just pushed me down and was roughing on me, and you expect me to tell you stuff,'" Mr. Durrah recalled.

          Timothy Durrah, 53, Noble's great-uncle, added that "Milwaukee is one of the most prejudiced cities there is."

          That problem, some residents say, began from the time black people started migrating to Milwaukee in large numbers in the second half of the 20th century.

          They settled there as the city's manufacturing economy began to dwindle, when jobs disappeared or moved to the suburbs. Many black people found themselves trapped in substandard living conditions on the north side without stable jobs to help them reach a better life.

          For a time, efforts to tear down the racially discriminatory housing barriers went unheeded, if not ignored. Vel Phillips, the first black woman elected to the City Council, saw her colleagues repeatedly vote against a fair housing ordinance she proposed in the 1960s. As the Council failed to act, riots broke out in July 1967 that led to the deployment of the National Guard. That unrest left at least three dead, 100 injured and 1,740 arrested, according to the Milwaukee County Historical Society.

          While historians do not point to a single inciting event for that riot, it came at a time of growing resentment over housing segregation, poor schools and the construction of highways that wiped out many black businesses and households in Bronzeville, which was the economic heart of black Milwaukee.

          "Unless something is done about the uninhabitable conditions that the black man has to live in, Milwaukee could become a holocaust," the Rev. James E. Groppi, a leading civil rights activist at the time, told the City Council five days before the 1967 riot started, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

          Father Groppi, who died in 1985, eventually would lead 200 straight days of protests, and the city finally passed its fair housing law after Congress passed its landmark federal legislation in 1968.

          But while many formal discriminatory barriers have fallen, many black residents of Milwaukee today see a persistent racial divide that they say has created an urgency similar to what Father Groppi expressed decades ago.

          "The people have been calm," Dontre Hamilton's brother, Nate, told reporters two years ago after local prosecutors declined to file charges. "The people have not stood up. So when will we stand up?"

          Imbalances in mortgage lending continue to stifle homeownership and devalue predominantly black areas. A study released last month by National Community Reinvestment Coalition found that while black people made up 16 percent of the metro population in 2014, they received only 4 percent of the loans.

          While court-ordered and voluntary desegregation programs had helped to usher in school integration by 1987, those programs have since faded and schools in the metropolitan area are as segregated now as they were in 1965. Nearly three in four black students attend schools where at least 90 percent of the students are not white, according to Marc V. Levine, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Only 15.7 percent of Milwaukee Public School students tested proficient in reading in 2013-14, and 20.3 percent in math.

          And even those people fortunate enough to graduate from these highly segregated schools have a grim outlook. Nearly one out of every eight black men in Milwaukee County has served time behind bars, according to a 2013 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study. The black unemployment rate in Milwaukee County is 20 percent, nearly three times greater than for white people.

          These social ills foster a grim cycle, said Reggie Moore, who is the director of the city's Office of Violence Prevention and is married to Ms. Moore. They create transient communities with a lot of poverty, he said, where residents are less likely to be invested and engaged in what is going on, which allows crime to fester more easily.

          Tackling the root causes of crime would be the most effective way to make the community safer and calm tensions, he said.

          "I think it's a matter of having a dual conversation about what justice needs to look like in this particular situation, but also the broader conversation of what a just community looks like," Mr. Moore said. "What are the systemic issues that need to be addressed around poverty, racism, segregation and inequity to reduce the likelihood of this happening again?"



          2)  Milwaukee Police Make 'Multiple Arrests' in Second Night of Unrest

          AUG. 15, 2016




          The authorities in Milwaukee struggled into Monday to maintain order in part of Wisconsin's largest city, which was gripped by unrest after a police officer killed an armed man on Saturday.

          The city police said early Monday that officers in northwest Milwaukee had made "multiple arrests" and that officials had used an armored vehicle to retrieve a shooting victim.

          Although the police reported a night of unrest — the Police Department's Twitter account also said that officers had been targeted with projectiles that included rocks and bottles — Milwaukee officials did not summon the National Guard, which Gov. Scott Walker activated on Sunday "to aid local law enforcement upon request."

          The second night of disorder heightened concern that Milwaukee, with a glittering lakefront that belies its stark racial and economic divides, might be in the opening days of sustained protests about the practices of the police. It was not immediately clear how local officials would respond to the second night of unruliness, but Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee had suggested on Sunday, the day after angry crowds confronted the police and set fires, that additional violence could provoke a curfew.

          By Monday morning, it was clear that the city's efforts to keep peace, including Mr. Barrett's assertion that the man who had been killed had been armed with a handgun when he was shot, had also faltered. The police chief, Edward A. Flynn, identified the man as Sylville K. Smith, a 23-year-old African-American, and said that the officer who had fired the fatal shot is also black.

          "He happens to be African-American, with several years of experience, and he's a very active officer," Chief Flynn said of the officer. "And we are concerned for his safety."

          The police said the officer, who has not been publicly identified, was 24 years old and had been placed on administrative leave. The state, as required by law, is leading the inquiry into the shooting, which Milwaukee officials said had happened after Mr. Smith and another person fled a traffic stop Saturday afternoon.

          When Mr. Smith did not comply with an order to drop his semiautomatic handgun, Mr. Barrett said, the officer opened fire, striking Mr. Smith in the chest and an arm.

          "This event probably took 20 to 25 seconds," Chief Flynn said. "I mean, there was virtually no time between the officer unhooking his seatbelt, turning on his body camera, getting out of the car and immediately there was a foot chase."

          The police did not release video of the episode, but Chief Flynn said that the officer's recorded actions appeared "credible and legally protected."

          But in some of Milwaukee's predominantly black neighborhoods, the killing was yet another outgrowth of exceedingly aggressive and misguided police tactics in this city of about 600,000. The shooting occurred less than two weeks after a coalition that included the N.A.A.C.P. and the American Civil Liberties Union urged Milwaukee to create a civilian oversight panel in a city with some of the country's highest rates of incarceration or unemployment for black men.

          "This city is the most hypersegregated city in the United States, and if you think you can bring in people to patrol to make our streets safe, you can't," Fred Royal, the president of the Milwaukee branch of the N.A.A.C.P., said this month. "The only way you can do that is deal with the economic disparities."

          The Milwaukee police have been under closer scrutiny for months. In December, after prosecutors did not bring charges against a former Milwaukee officer in the 2014 killing of an unarmed black man, the Justice Department announced that the city would participate in its "collaborative reform process," which will yield nonbinding recommendations that federal officials hope will improve "community-oriented policing practices, transparency, professionalism, accountability and public trust."

          The entire process, which is also playing out in places like North Charleston, S.C., and St. Louis County, Mo., takes years and is distinct from a civil rights inquiry that could monitor changes to eliminate unconstitutional patterns or practices.



          3)  Number of Women in Jail Has Grown Far Faster Than That of Men, Study Says

          AUG. 17, 2016

          "The study found that the number of women held in the nation's 3,200 municipal and county jails for misdemeanor crimes or who are awaiting trial or sentencing had increased significantly — to about 110,000 in 2014 from fewer than 8,000 in 1970.(Over all, the nation's jail population increased to 745,000 in 2014 from 157,000 in 1970.)"




          When Dolfinette Martin was convicted of shoplifting more than $700 worth of clothes in Louisiana in 2005, she had five children, no money and an addiction to cocaine.

          Seven years later, in 2012, Ms. Martin became one of a growing number of impoverished women released from prisons and jails whose plight has been largely overlooked during continuing efforts to reverse mass incarceration, according to criminal justice experts.

          "That cycle of poverty — not a lot of resources, not a lot of jobs, the lack of education, you kind of give up," said Ms. Martin, 46, who now works as an administrative assistant.

          On Wednesday, the Vera Institute of Justice and a program called the Safety and Justice Challenge released a report that found that the number of women in local jails in the United States was almost 14 times what it was in the 1970s, a far higher growth rate than for men, although there remain far fewer women than men in jails and prisons.

          The study found that the number of women held in the nation's 3,200 municipal and county jails for misdemeanor crimes or who are awaiting trial or sentencing had increased significantly — to about 110,000 in 2014 from fewer than 8,000 in 1970.

          (Over all, the nation's jail population increased to 745,000 in 2014 from 157,000 in 1970.)

          Much of the increase in the number of jailed women occurred in counties with fewer than 250,000 people, according to the study, places where just 1,700 women had been incarcerated in 1970. By 2014, however, that number had surged to 51,600, the report said.

          And even as crime rates declined nationally, the trend toward jailing women in rural counties continued: Incarceration rates for women in sparsely populated counties rose to 140 per 100,000 in 2014 from 79 per 100,000 in 2000, the study found. During the same period, incarceration rates for women in the nation's largest counties decreased to 71 per 100,000 from 76 per 100,000.

          "Once a rarity, women are now held in jails in nearly every county — a stark contrast to 1970, when almost three-quarters of counties held not a single woman in jail," the report said.

          The counties with the highest rates of jailed women are nearly all rural and include Nevada County, Calif.; Floyd County, Ga.; and St. Charles Parish, La. Each has a population of fewer than 100,000 people but a rate of incarceration for women of more than 280 per 100,000, according to the Vera Institute.

          Like Ms. Martin, 46, who was arrested on shoplifting charges 10 times and was held in jails and prisons throughout Louisiana from 1994 to her final arrest in 2005, the study found that a vast majority of the women are poor, African-American or Latino, and have drug or alcohol problems. About 80 percent have children.

          Most have been charged with low-level offenses, including drug or property crimes like shoplifting, but a growing number are in jail for violating parole or probation, for failed drug tests or for missing court-ordered appointments. Others are unable to make bail or pay court-mandated fees and fines, the report said.

          The trend echoes what has occurred in policing over the past two decades, as the police and prosecutors have focused on offenses that might have once been overlooked, even as rates for more serious crimes have declined, according to the Justice Department. The result, critics say, are overcrowded prisons and jails, many of them filled with nonviolent offenders.

          "As the focus on these smaller crimes has increased, women have been swept up into the system to an even greater extent than men," said Elizabeth Swavola, one of the authors of the Vera report.

          The study found that women accounted for 26 percent of total arrests in 2014, compared with 11 percent in 1960.

          And the most common offenses that led to arrests involved drugs.

          Between 1980 and 2009, the arrest rate for drug possession or use doubled for men but tripled for women, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

          The troubles caused by the arrest of a woman responsible for supporting a family can sometimes never be undone, said Laurie R. Garduque, director for justice reform for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which funds the Safety and Justice Challenge, whose mission is to create fairer, more effective local justice systems.

          "It has a cascading effect," she said.

          During an interview, Ms. Martin said that her children — ages 10 to 16 when she was last arrested — had all once excelled in school, but that they had lost their ability to focus during her absences after the shoplifting arrests. None of her five children, who were taken care of by one of Ms. Martin's nieces, graduated from high school, and her eldest two were incarcerated for various periods, she said.

          "I missed a lot of time," said Ms. Martin, who recently received her associate degree in business office technology. "You live with a lot of regret, a lot of guilt — tremendous guilt — when you have kids in the street trying to survive."



          4)  In U.S. Jails, a Constitutional Clash Over Air-Conditioning

          AUG. 15, 2016





          JENNINGS, La. — The air inside the Jefferson Davis Parish jail was hot and musty. Prisoners, often awakened by the morning heat, hoped for cooling rain after nightfall. And ice, one inmate recalled, brought fleeting relief in the cell she called a "sweatbox."

          Even though summer temperatures routinely roar past 100 degrees here, the jail, like scores of other jails and prisons across the country, has no air-conditioning.

          "It's hot," Heidi Bourque, who was locked up this month for theft, said of the jail as she sat in her home, where the glowing red digits of the living room thermostat showed the temperature as a chilling 62. "It's miserable."

          Her complaints are unlikely to move local residents, who approved funding to build a new jail after local leaders promised two years ago that it would not pamper inmates with air-conditioning. But they speak to a broader debate about the threshold for when extreme temperatures become cruel and unusual punishment.

          Continue reading the main story

          Judges from Arizona to Mississippi to Wisconsin have declared over the years that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution forbids incarceration in decidedly hot or cold temperatures. Still, prison reform activists encounter deep resistance in their quest to cool the nation's cellblocks.

          "It's almost impossible for courts to deny the constitutional violation because extreme heat undoubtedly exposes individuals to substantial risk of serious harm," said Mercedes Montagnes, a lawyer for three inmates with health issues who challenged conditions on Louisiana's death row. "Now what we're grappling with is the remedy."

          Officials offer a range of justifications for the absence of air-conditioning and for their reliance on cold showers, plentiful liquids and fans to help prisoners manage in the heat. Some contend that cooling systems are prohibitively expensive to install, particularly in older facilities.

          In places like Louisiana and Texas, sweltering states where elected officials cherish tough-on-crime credentials, it is politically poisonous to be perceived as coddling prisoners. And many officials simply say that temperatures are not anywhere near as dire as prisoners and their lawyers claim.

          "For the first 20 years of my life, I lived in a house with no air-conditioning," said Jim Willett, the director of the Texas Prison Museum and a former warden at the state's death house. "I just have a hard time sympathizing with anybody over air-conditioning."

          The Louisiana Department of Corrections declined to comment, citing the lawsuit by Ms. Montagnes's clients, who said that they had at times chosen to sleep "on the hard floor, in spite of the risk of bites from fire ants, because the floor is slightly cooler than their beds."

          A spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which is facing an array of lawsuits over the issue of jail temperatures, including a class-action case, said in a statement that "the well-being of staff and offenders is a top priority for the agency and we remain committed to making sure that both are safe during the extreme heat."

          The spokesman, Jason Clark, said that 30 of his agency's 109 facilities are fully air-conditioned, but he asserted that retrofitting all the department's other prisons would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

          The disputes surrounding the climate of modern incarceration can be partly traced to 1981, when the Supreme Court concluded that "the Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons." About 35 years later, states, counties and cities are interpreting the court's words in their own ways.

          In Texas, state regulations require that temperatures in county jails "shall be reasonably maintained between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit in all occupied areas." But that standard does not apply to state prisons.

          In Louisiana, the placement of a city or parish border can dictate the relative comfort of a night in a local lockup. Pretrial inmates here in Jefferson Davis Parish, a rural area of about 31,000 people where the heat index on a recent afternoon hit 106 degrees, spend their days and nights in the small jail on the third floor of the courthouse. There are fans, but no air-conditioning.

          "We don't want to make it real comfortable for them because we don't want them to want to come back," Christopher Ivey, the chief sheriff's deputy, said in his climate-controlled office two floors beneath the jail. "We try to get it and keep it at a level that it's comfortable enough that they can survive."

          Mr. Ivey, who said no parish inmate had suffered a heat-related illness since the sheriff took office in 2012, said he believed the jail's temperature never exceeded 80 degrees. But a jailer who dropped by Mr. Ivey's office suggested that temperatures regularly reached the mid-90s.

          "You don't leave there not moist," Mr. Ivey acknowledged. Parish officials, who have not faced a court challenge about jail temperatures, did not agree to requests for a tour of the facility or interviews with current inmates.

          But after her release, Ms. Bourque, 25, described an environment where inmates found little relief.

          "It's hot as hell," she said. "The church ladies come over there, and I told her that. And she was like, 'No, I believe hell is hotter.' And I was like, 'It's just an expression. It's hot as hell.'"

          Inmates, lawyers and doctors described similar conditions inside other jails across the South, and some said that temperatures endangered the lives of prisoners with health problems.

          "Once these buildings heat up in the summertime, they never really do ever cool back down again," Keith M. Cole, a plaintiff in the Texas class-action case, said at the Navasota prison where he is serving a life sentence for murder and is being treated for heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. "Air-conditioning to me wouldn't be a comfort. It's a necessity — it's a medical necessity."

          Mr. Cole, 62, said that he understood public skepticism of air-conditioning for prisoners, and that he might have even embraced such an opinion before he was sentenced in 1995. But in an interview, he said, "This isn't about comfort. This is about life or death."

          Dressed in the plain white uniform of a Texas inmate, he spoke for nearly an hour in the prison's air-conditioned visitation center. "This is beautiful," he said. "This is paradise right here. You couldn't ask for anything better than this."

          The state said that adding air-conditioning at Mr. Cole's prison would cost of more than $22 million, with about $478,000 in annual operating costs.

          Many of the pending cases could take years to resolve. A federal judge in Baton Rouge, La., ruled in Ms. Montagnes's favor in 2013, but lawyers for the state and the prisoners are still haggling over fixes after an appeals court's ruling. One proposed solution, detailed in a court filing this month, is what officials described as a "Cajun cooler," which both sides said "essentially consists of a combination of an ice chest, a fan and a duct that emits cool air."

          And as the court battles continue, both sides question why the issue has become such a protracted, expensive battle.

          "In the South, almost everybody has air-conditioning," said Jeffrey S. Edwards, a lawyer for Mr. Cole. "This isn't a luxury anymore. Almost everyone has it, except for these inmates."

          In Jefferson Davis Parish and elsewhere, plenty of people wonder why climate control is even before the courts. Prisoners are serving punishments and do not merit, as people here repeatedly put it, "a country club jail." (Such worries are common: The Florida Department of Corrections felt compelled to list "prisons are air-conditioned" at the beginning on a list of "misconceptions.")

          But since the May 2014 vote here, law enforcement and civic leaders in Jefferson Davis Parish received what they regarded as dispiriting news: Some electronic features of the new jail will need to be kept cool to remain operational.

          So the prisoners will get air-conditioning, after all.



          5)  Navajo Nation Sues E.P.A. in Poisoning of a Colorado River

          AUG. 16, 2016




          DENVER — The Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Environmental Protection Agency and several corporations, saying that poisoned water that flowed from a punctured Colorado mine last year disrupted hundreds of lives near a critical watershed.

          The disaster, the federal suit says, has heightened economic and spiritual pain in a region hamstrung by poverty and drought. The tribe is seeking to hold the agency and corporations accountable, be made whole for at least $2 million spent on testing and alternative water sources and be compensated for lost revenue and psychological damages.

          "We cannot just sit back and let the E.P.A. do what they've been doing, just doling us pennies," said the president of the Navajo Nation, Russell Begaye, in a telephone interview. "This river is the main river that gives life to the whole region, not just those who live around the river, but the entire nation. This is our lifeblood. It is sacred to us."

          A spokeswoman for the E.P.A., Nancy Grantham, said the agency could not comment on active legal issues. Representatives from the mining companies and the E.P.A. contractors declined to comment or did not return messages.

          The lawsuit stems from an August 2015 episode in which contractors hired by the E.P.A. to assess a shuttered gold mine — the Gold King in southwest Colorado — accidentally broke the mine's seal, causing about three million gallons of chemical-laced orange sludge to flow into the Animas River south of the mine and then into the San Juan.

          An image of three kayakers on the Animas River became a neon media sensation, drawing attention to a problem that continues to plague the West: The region has thousands of old, acid-filled mines, some leaching into waterways, others that could burst at any time. The mines have filled with poison from water and air entering earth cavities, mixing with sulfurous minerals.

          50 MILES

          Gold King Mine
















          The E.P.A. took responsibility for the accident and has spent $29 million to address cleanup and compensate communities, including the Navajo Nation. But people along the spill's path have continued to feel its effects. The sludge coursed through Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The E.P.A. is considering whether to declare the area around the Gold King a Superfund site.

          The Navajo reservation, a vast region of red rocks that sits south of the mine, was hit particularly hard by the spill because leaders told people not to use water from the San Juan River for weeks after the E.P.A. said it was safe. Mr. Begaye, the Navajo president, said he was wary of the claim that the stream was healthy enough for agricultural and other use.

          Irrigation lines were cut off. Corn, melons, hay and wheat never made it to market. The spill, the president said, delivered a psychological lashing in a drought-stricken place where water is gold, many live in poverty and the San Juan River holds financial and spiritual power.

          The lawsuit names several defendants: the E.P.A.; two contractors called Environmental Restoration and Harrison Western; four mining companies called Gold King Mines Corporation, Sunnyside Gold Corporation, Kinross in Canada and Kinross USA; and 10 unnamed individuals.

          It alleges that mismanagement of the mine, which had been closed for years but never cleaned up, caused it to swell with toxic water and eventually burst. The suit says that 880,000 pounds of metals spilled out when the Gold King burst, and that "roughly 80 to 90 percent" remains embedded in the river upstream, ready to flush into the Navajo Nation during rains and storms.

          Near the Gold King in Colorado, toxic water continues to flow out of the mine at a rate of 570 gallons a minute. A nearby water treatment plant put in place by the E.P.A. removes 95 percent of contaminants.

          The agency says that the water below the mine and the treatment facility has generally returned to prespill conditions, and local governments have instructed residents to resume recreational and agricultural activities on the Animas and San Juan Rivers.

          The suit is the latest to come out of the mine blowout. Earlier this year, New Mexico sued the E.P.A. and the State of Colorado over the accident. And the E.P.A.'s Office of the Inspector General has opened a criminal investigation into the spill.



          6)  New York City to Pay $4.1 Million to Family of Akai Gurley

          AUG. 16, 2016





          New York City has agreed to pay more than $4 million to the family of Akai Gurley, the unarmed man killed in a Brooklyn housing project in 2014 by a police officer on patrol, according to a lawyer for Mr. Gurley's family.

          The city will pay the bulk of the settlement, $4.1 million, said Scott Rynecki, who represents Mr. Gurley's domestic partner, Kimberly Ballinger, and their 4-year-old daughter, Akaila Gurley. The New York City Housing Authority will pay an additional $400,000, and the officer, Peter Liang, will pay $25,000, Mr. Rynecki said.

          The settlement, reported by The Daily News, was finalized on Monday afternoon by Justice Dawn M. Jimenez-Salta of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, after two months of negotiations. Efforts to reach a lawyer for Mr. Liang and the city's Law Department late Monday were unsuccessful.

          Mr. Gurley was killed on Nov. 20, 2014, by a ricocheting bullet fired by Mr. Liang, who was on a night patrol in a dark stairwell in the Louis H. Pink Houses in the East New York neighborhood.

          Mr. Liang was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and the Police Department fired him. But in April, Justice Danny K. Chun of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn reduced the charge to criminally negligent homicide, describing the shooting as essentially an accident. He sentenced Mr. Liang to five years of probation and 800 hours of community service.

          The case frustrated many in the Asian-American community who felt that Mr. Liang, who is Chinese-American, was used as a scapegoat during a national debate about the policing of black communities. And many African-Americans protested the shooting, citing concerns with tactics used by officers in housing projects and drawing parallels to other fatal shootings of unarmed black men.

          At the sentencing, Mr. Liang apologized to Mr. Gurley's loved ones. "The shot was accidental," he said. "My life has forever changed."

          The $4.1 million will be paid out in structured settlements to Akaila, starting when she turns 18 years old, though Ms. Ballinger may petition the court to receive a small portion, perhaps in the form of a monthly stipend, Mr. Rynecki said. A college fund will also be established for Akaila.

          "She looks forward to raising Akaila to be a productive member of society and someone Akai will be proud of," Mr. Rynecki said.



          7)  U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

          AUG. 17, 2016





          For the first time since a cholera epidemic believed to be imported by United Nations peacekeepers began killing thousands of Haitians nearly six years ago, the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged that the United Nations played a role in the initial outbreak and that a "significant new set of U.N. actions" will be needed to respond to the crisis.

          The deputy spokesman for the secretary general, Farhan Haq, said in an email this week that "over the past year, the U.N. has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera." He added that a "new response will be presented publicly within the next two months, once it has been fully elaborated, agreed with the Haitian authorities and discussed with member states."

          The statement comes on the heels of a confidential report sent to Mr. Ban by a longtime United Nations adviser on Aug. 8. Written by Philip Alston, a New York University law professor who serves as one of a few dozen experts, known as special rapporteurs, who advise the organization on human rights issues, the draft language stated plainly that the epidemic "would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations."

          The secretary general's acknowledgment, by contrast, stopped short of saying that the United Nations specifically caused the epidemic. Nor does it indicate a change in the organization's legal position that it is absolutely immune from legal actions, including a federal lawsuit brought in the United States on behalf of cholera victims seeking billions in damages stemming from the Haiti crisis.

          But it represents a significant shift after more than five years of high-level denial of any involvement or responsibility of the United Nations in the outbreak, which has killed at least 10,000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands. Cholera victims suffer from dehydration caused by severe diarrhea or vomiting.

          Special rapporteurs' reports are technically independent guidance, which the United Nations can accept or reject. United Nations officials have until the end of this week to respond to the report, which will then go through revisions, but the statement suggests a new receptivity to its criticism.

          In the 19-page report, obtained from an official who had access to it, Mr. Alston took issue with the United Nations' public handling of the outbreak, which was first documented in mid-October 2010, shortly after people living along the Meille River began dying from the disease.

          The first victims lived near a base housing 454 United Nations peacekeepers freshly arrived from Nepal, where a cholera outbreak was underway, and waste from the base often leaked into the river. Numerous scientists have since argued that the base was the only plausible source of the outbreak — whose real death toll, one study found, could be much higher than the official numbers state — but United Nations officials have consistently insisted that its origins remain up for debate.

          Mr. Alston wrote that the United Nations' Haiti cholera policy "is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically self-defeating." He added, "It is also entirely unnecessary." The organization's continuing denial and refusal to make reparations to the victims, he argued, "upholds a double standard according to which the U.N. insists that member states respect human rights, while rejecting any such responsibility for itself."

          He said, "It provides highly combustible fuel for those who claim that U.N. peacekeeping operations trample on the rights of those being protected, and it undermines both the U.N.'s overall credibility and the integrity of the Office of the Secretary-General."

          Mr. Alston went beyond criticizing the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to blame the entire United Nations system. "As the magnitude of the disaster became known, key international officials carefully avoided acknowledging that the outbreak had resulted from discharges from the camp," he noted.

          His most severe criticism was reserved for the organization's Office of Legal Affairs, whose advice, he wrote, "has been permitted to override all of the other considerations that militate so powerfully in favor of seeking a constructive and just solution." Its interpretations, he said, have "trumped the rule of law."

          Mr. Alston also argued in his report that, as The New York Times has reported, the United Nations' cholera eradication program has failed. Infection rates have been rising every year in Haiti since 2014, as the organization struggles to raise the $2.27 billion it says is needed to eradicate the disease from member states. No major water or sanitation projects have been completed in Haiti; two pilot wastewater processing plants built there in the wake of the epidemic quickly closed because of a lack of donor funds.

          In a separate internal report released days ago after being withheld for nearly a year, United Nations auditors said a quarter of the sites run by the peacekeepers with the organization's Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or Minustah, that they had visited were still discharging their waste into public canals as late as 2014, four years after the epidemic began.

          "Victims are living in fear because the disease is still out there," Mario Joseph, a prominent Haitian human rights lawyer representing cholera victims, told demonstrators in Port-au-Prince last month. He added, "If the Nepalese contingent returns to defecate in the water again, they will get the disease again, only worse."

          In 2011, when families of 5,000 Haitian cholera victims petitioned the United Nations for redress, its Office of Legal Affairs simply declared their claims "not receivable." (Mr. Alston called that argument "wholly unconvincing in legal terms.")

          Those families and others then sued the United Nations, including Mr. Ban and the former Minustah chief Edmond Mulet, in federal court in New York. (In November, Mr. Ban promoted Mr. Mulet to be his chief of staff.) The United Nations refused to appear in court, claiming diplomatic immunity under its charter, leaving Justice Department lawyers to defend it instead. That case is now pending a decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

          The redress demanded by families of the 10,000 people killed and 800,000 affected would reach $40 billion, Mr. Alston wrote — and that figure does not take into account "those certain to die and be infected in the years ahead."

          "Since this is almost five times the total annual budget for peacekeeping worldwide, it is a figure that is understandably seen as prohibitive and unrealistic," he said. Still, he argued: "The figure of $40 billion should stand as a warning of the consequences that could follow if national courts become convinced that the abdication policy is not just unconscionable but also legally unjustified. The best way to avoid that happening is for the United Nations to offer an appropriate remedy."

          Mr. Alston, who declined to comment for this article, will present the final report at the opening of the General Assembly in September, when presidents, prime ministers and monarchs from nearly every country gather at United Nations headquarters in New York.

          Mr. Haq said the secretary general's office "wanted to take this opportunity to welcome this vital report," which he added "will be a valuable contribution to the U.N. as we work towards a significant new set of U.N. actions."



          8)  Seven Chicago Officers Face Firing Over Laquan McDonald Cover-Up

          AUG. 18, 2016




          CHICAGO — Chicago's police superintendent called for the firing of seven officers for their response to a colleague's fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014, a case that incited widespread protests here and led to accusations of a cover-up.

          The decision by Superintendent Eddie Johnson, announced Thursday morning by a Police Department spokesman, comes nearly two years after Officer Jason Van Dyke fired 16 shots at Mr. McDonald, who was 17 and African-American.

          The seven officers were accused of making false reports.

          Officer Van Dyke, the only officer who fired his gun that night, has been charged with murder and is awaiting trial. His account of the shooting, which was corroborated by other officers at the scene, was contradicted by dashboard camera video of the shooting that was released in November under public pressure. Though the teenager had a knife, he seemed to be veering away from the police when Officer Van Dyke shot him, and the gunfire continued after Mr. McDonald collapsed to the ground.

          Superintendent Johnson stripped the police status of the seven officers he recommended firing. But he cannot terminate them unilaterally. The officers, who were not named, will have a chance to contest the action before the city's Police Board, whose members are appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

          The city's inspector general recommended firing eight officers, said Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman. The department "respectfully disagrees" with the recommendation to fire the eighth officer, Mr. Guglielmi said in an email, "and feels that there is insufficient evidence to prove those respective allegations."

          Two other officers mentioned by the inspector general have since retired, Mr. Guglielmi said. The inspector general's report has not been published.

          A spokesman for Mr. Emanuel and the president of the local police union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.















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