Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:

Love this guy!





Prison Radio UPDATE:

Please sign this petition:

Release all the records and files regarding Mumia Abu-Jamal's legal case!


A ruling to implement Judge Leon Tucker's recent order to release Mumia's court documents could be made as soon as May 30, 2017. Please call or e-mail the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office now to pressure them to follow the court's order to release all the records and files regarding Mumia Abu-Jamal's legal case.

Phone: 215-686-8000

Judge Orders DA to Produce Complete File for Mumia's Case

Dear Friend,

This just in! Judge Leon Tucker of the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia has ordered the District Attorney of Philadelphia to produce the entire case file for Cook v. the Commonwealth- the case file in Mumia Abu-Jamal's criminal conviction, by September 21st.

The DA's office has to produce the entire file for "in camera" review in Judge Tucker's chambers. This mean Judge Tucker thinks that a thorough review of all the relevant files is in order! Or in other words, what has been produced under court order from the DA'a office has been woefully deficient.

Judge Tucker worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the late 90's, so he knows what is in -and not in- files. Cook v. the Commonwealth comprises at least 31 boxes of material held by the DA. Will they turn over "all information and the complete file" for Mumia's case, as Judge Tucker has ordered?

This in camera review by Judge Tucker himself means that an independent jurist will personally inspect the documents the DA produces. See the order here.  Stay tuned for more information following September 21. This is just one step in a long walk to freedom. It is a step that has never been taken before.

OPEN the files. Justice Now!



Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? (City Lights Open Media)

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

A Book Review by Robert Fantina

With the recent acquittal of two more police officers in the deaths of unarmed Black men, the question posed by the title of this book is as relevant as it ever was. Through a series of concise, clear essays, Mumia Abu-Jamal details the racism against Blacks, comparing today's behaviors with the lynchings that were common in the south prior to the decade of the sixties. He points out the obvious: The passage of Civil Rights legislation hasn't changed much; it simply changed the way racism operates.

The ways in which the white establishment has worked to oppress Blacks is astounding. After the Civil War, when slavery was no longer legal, "whites realized that the combination of trumped-up legal charges and forced labor as punishment created both a desirable business proposition and an incredibly effective tool for intimidating rank-and-file emancipated African Americans and doing away with their most effective leaders."

Abu-Jamal states that, today, "where once whites killed and terrorized from beneath a KKK hood, now they now did so openly from behind a little badge." He details the killing of Black men and women in the U.S. with almost complete impunity.

There are two related issues Abu-Jamal discusses. The first is the rampant racism that enables the police to kill unarmed Blacks, as young as 12 years old, for no reason, and the second is the "justice" system that allows them to get away with it.

One shocking crime, amid countless others, occurred in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2012; a police officer was acquitted in the deaths of two, unarmed Blacks, after leaping onto the hood of their car and firing 15 rounds from his semi-automatic rifle into the car's occupants. That is 137 shots, at point blank range, into the bodies of two unarmed people.

If this were an anomaly, it would be barbaric, but it is not: it is common practice for the police to kill unarmed Blacks, and, on the rare occasions that they are charged with a crime, for the judges and juries to acquit them.

In the U.S., Black citizens are disproportionally imprisoned. With for-profit prisons on the rise, this injustice will only increase.

Abu-Jamal relates story after story with the same plot, and only the names are different. An unarmed Black man is stopped by the police for any of a variety of reasons ranging from trivial (broken tail light), to more significant (suspect in a robbery). But too often, the outcome is the same: the Black man is dead and the police officer who killed him, more often than not white, is either not charged, or acquitted after being charged.

The Black Lives Matter movement formed to combat this blatant injustice, but it will be an uphill battle. As Abu-Jamal says, "Police serve the ownership and wealth classes of their societies, not the middling or impoverished people. For the latter, it is quite the reverse." As a result, people of color suffer disproportionately, too often winding up on the wrong side of a gun.

What is to be done? Abu-Jamal refers to the writings of Dr. Huey P. Newton, who calls not for community policing, but for community control of the police. Abu-Jamal argues forcefully for a new movement, "driven by commitment, ethics, intelligence, solidarity, and passions; for without passion, the embers may dim and die."

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? is powerful, disturbing, well-written, and an important book for our day.

Robert Fantina is the author of Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy. His articles on foreign policy, most frequently concerning Israel and Palestine, have appeared in such venues as Counterpunch and WarIsaCrime.org.

New York Journal of Books, July 2017











Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










From Chelsea Manning to Reality Leigh Winner, Governmental Prosecution of Whistle Blowers
Thursday, October 19th, 7:00 PM, 
3050 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley (Close to the Ashby BART)

Since 2006, Jeff Paterson has served as the project director of Courage to Resist, an organization dedicated to supporting GI resisters. In 1990, then-Marine Corporal Paterson was the first US military serviceperson to publicly speak out against a US war on Iraq. Jeff was the campaign director of the successful effort to free whistle-blower Chelsea Manning.

Jeff is currently working to defend NSA contractor Reality Leigh Winner against an overzealous prosecution by Trump's Department of Justice. Ms. Winner is currently jailed without bail, facing 10 years in prison, for allegedly giving a document vital to the public's understanding of potential Russian interference in US election systems to a news organization. Jeff will report on the background of the case and its current status.

After the program, there will be a discussion of active cases and issues. Free MCLE credit is available to attorneys.

Please call 510-848-4752, X4 for more information.





Please forward and distribute widely

The Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

A Fight Against Racist U.S. Capitalism

Having finally been properly treated for Hepatitis-C, Mumia is now trying to show that his case was compromised by former Philadelphia District Attorney Ronald Castille, who was a judge of the PA Supreme Court during Mumia's appeals.

Throughout Mumia's appeals, Judge Castille refused to step down or recuse himself from Mumia's appeals, despite his role in prosecuting Mumia. Mumia has won "discovery" of documents that should demonstrate Judge Castille's role in framing him. 

If proven, this could overturn Mumia's negative appeals rulings, and open the case to new examination. But will the court allow this evidence to be brought forth? This is now in question!

This needs to be a mass struggle. Please join us for this effort...

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Invites you to attend:

Public Forums

Rachel Wolkenstein

Lawyer for Mumia from the beginning of his case. 

ALSO: Other speakers, and a special segment: solidarity with anti-fascist fighters.

San Francisco: 6:30 PM, 27th October 2017

Hastings Law School, 198 McAllister St, Room A

Co-sponsors for the SF forum: San Francisco Law  School Chapter,

and UC Hastings Chapter, National Lawyers Guild

Oakland:  7 PM, 28th October 2017

Niebyl Proctor Marxist Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave.


Workers World Party, Justice for Palestinians, Leonard Peltier Support Group, Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, Alameda County Peace and Freedom Party, Taking Aim, Socialist Viewpoint, Bay Area National Lawyers Guild, Mobilization To Free Mumia, Kiilu Nyasha



Dr. Mustafa Barghouti Direct from Palestine
November 6 in Berkeley

The Middle East Children's Alliance Presents
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
Speaking on
100 Years after the Balfour Declaration:
The Anti-Colonial Struggle in Palestine
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2017 – 7pm
First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way @ Dana
(near downtown Berkeley BART)
Mustafa Barghouti is General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative & President of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees
Introduced by Professor Khalil Barhoum, Stanford University
$100 ticket includes seats reserved up front
If you want to avoid the service charge, tickets will be available soon directly from MECA; $15 tickets will be at local bookstores soon
Benefit for the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees
Wheelchair Accessible
For info: 510-548-0542, meca@mecaforpeace.org
Cosponsored by KPFA 94.1 FM

Save the Dates
Joining Hands and MECA's Annual Palestinian Crafts Bazaar

Saturday, December 9 and Sunday, December 10 in Berkeley

Join us for another year of supporting Palestinian artisans and cooperatives! We will have beautiful crafts from Palestine, delicious Arabic food, and fun activities! 

Saturday, December 9, 10am-5pm
Sunday, December 10, 11am-3pm

More details coming soon!

21st Arab Film Festival Starts Today!

San Francisco Bay Area - October 13-22
Los Angeles - October 27-29

Info, Schedule, Programs, Tickets and More!



Union Time: Film screening and director talk

Thursday, November 9, 2017, 6:00 - 8:00 P.M.

UC Berkeley Labor Center

2521 Channing Way, Berkeley

Union Time: Fighting for Workers' Rights tells the story of one of the greatest union victories of the 21st century—the fight to organize Smithfield Foods' pork processing plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina. From 1993 to 2008, workers struggled against dangerous working conditions, intimidation, and low pay. They were organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, whose "Justice for Smithfield Workers" campaign brought national attention to the plight of the plant workers. The victory led to the formation of UFCW Local 1208 and fair working conditions for 5,000 workers.





Labor Studies and Radical History

4444 Geary Blvd., Suite 207, San Francisco, CA 94118




(call 415.387.5700 to be sure the library is open for the hours you are interested in. We close the library sometimes to go on errands or have close early) suggested)

7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed on all major holidays and May Day 

We can arrange, by request, to keep the library open longer during the day or open it on weekends. Just ask.


  • Reference Librarian On-site
  • Email and Telephone Reference
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Online Public Access Catalog 
  • Microfilm Reader/Printer
  • DVD and VCR players
  • Photocopier
  • Quiet well-lighted place for study and research 

For an appointment or further information, please email: david [at] holtlaborlibrary.org 





Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director




To give by check: 

PO Box 411074

San Francisco, CA


Stock or legacy gifts:

Noelle Hanrahan

(415) 706 - 5222



MEDIA ADVISORYMedia contact: Morgan McLeod, (202) 628-0871




Washington, D.C.— Despite recent political support for criminal justice reform in most states, the number of people serving life sentences has nearly quintupled since 1984. 

A new report by The Sentencing Project finds a record number of people serving life with parole, life without parole, and virtual life sentences of 50 years or more, equaling one of every seven people behind bars. 

Eight states  Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Utah  have at least one of every five prisoners serving a life or de facto life sentence in prison. 

The Sentencing Project will host an online press conference to discuss its report Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences, on Wednesday, May 3rd at 11:00 a.m. EDT.   

Press Conference Details

WHAT: Online press conference hosted by The Sentencing Project regarding the release of its new report examining life and long-term sentences in the United States. REGISTER HERE to participate. The call-in information and conference link will be sent via email.  


Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. EDT 


  • Ashley Nellis, The Sentencing Project's senior research analyst and author of Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences
  • Evans Ray, whose life without parole sentence was commuted in 2016 by President Obama
  • Steve Zeidman, City University of New York law professor and counsel for Judith Clark—a New York prisoner who received a 75 year to life sentence in 1983

The full report will be available to press on Wednesday morning via email.

Founded in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.





Support the Resistance
Donate to Courage to Resist 

oct 2017 pdf newsletter

Thank you again for contributing to Chelsea Manning's freedom, and supporting war resisters like Ryan and Jenna Johnson. Now let's get some justice for Reality Winner!

Support the resistance. Donate to Courage to Resist today.

One year ago, I was asking folks such as yourself to donate, likely for a second or third

time, to Chelsea Manning's defense efforts. At the time, Chelsea continued to languish in the Fort Leavenworth military prison, facing down the remaining 27 years on her sentence for exposing war crimes and the reality of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After seven years of building support for Chelsea, and funding her legal teams, I wouldn't have blamed you for being skeptical that one more donation could lead to her release any time soon.

Yet, following former President Obama's last-minute commutation of Chelsea's sentence, she's again in the headlines. Not as a prisoner, but as a young woman travelling the country advocating for social justice—including being invited and disinvited to teach at Harvard just last week. Wow. Just wow.

Chelsea's trial attorney David Coombsrecently shared with us his insight on what happened:

"Because of our trial strategy, and more importantly because of the efforts outside of the courtroom in positively portraying Manning, the message was that [Chelsea] was not the type of person who deserves 35 years. Ultimately, even though a judge was not convinced of that, a President of the United States was. If not for the efforts of… the Manning Support Network and Courage to Resist, there's no way that a president would spend the political capital to grant a commutation."

In short, Chelsea Manning is free because people like yourself signed petitions, called the White House switchboard, marched in the streets, and gave money to her defense. Thank you!

Today, Courage to Resist is at it again. Again, we need your help.

We've taken up the fight to support whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner. A young woman facing the wrath of Trump's Justice Department for sharing a classified NSA report with the media that allegedly detailed how foreign agents were attempting to undermine the integrity of the 2016 US presidential election. Just out of the Air Force, she's being held without bail and faces 10 years in prison for attempting to alert US citizens to weaknesses in our election systems—and to hold President Trump accountable for addressing them.

This case may become the most substantial First Amendment challenge to the antiquated 100-year-old Espionage Act yet. With the Justice Department now regularly using the Espionage Act against whistleblowers—and not spies as was originally intended—US v. Winner can be expected to set significant legal precedents.

Reality and her team of attorneys are hopeful that they will be able to win her release on bail prior to her March 2018 scheduled trial in Augusta, Georgia.

Not all of our work makes national headlines. One example, that we're just now able to share, is the case of Iraq War resister Ryan Johnson. Ryan had been AWOL from the Army for over 11 years, after resisting deployment to Iraq. He spent much of that time living in Canada and organizing fellow war objectors. For personal reasons, Ryan returned to the United States, and to the US Army to resove his legal situation.

During Ryan's court martial, we agreed with Ryan's decision to downplay his history of activism, in the hopes of getting a shorter prison sentence. In this context, we were not able to raise significant funds for him by way of direct appeals. Regardless, we helped support his wife Jenna while Ryan was jailed at the Miramar Naval Brig near San Diego for much of last year. Recently, upon Ryan's release, we helped the two of them resettle in the Denver area, providing them with over $10,000 beyond what donors contributed directly to their earmarked support fund.

Support the resistance. Donate to Courage to Resist today.

Jeff Paterson

p.s. For up-to-date information about Reality Winner, and to donate to her defense online, visit standwithreality.org. To donate by check to Reality Winner's defense fund, send to Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610, and note "Reality Winner" on the memo line.


484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression


When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression


Mothers Message to the NY/NJ Activist Community 

In order to effectively combat the existing opportunism, hidden agendas and to better provide ALL genuinely good willed social justice organizations and individuals who work inside of the New York and New Jersey metropolitan areas... with more concrete guidelines; 

The following "10 Point Platform and Justice Wish List" was adopted on Saturday, May 13, 2017    during the "Motherhood: Standing Strong 4 Justice" pre-mothers day gathering which was held     at Hostos Community College - Bronx, New York.......

"What We Want, What We Need" 

May, 2017 - NY/NJ Parents 10 Point Justice Platform and Wish List 

Point #1 - Lawyers and Legal Assistance:  Due to both the overwhelming case loads and impersonal nature of most public defenders, the Mothers believe that their families are receiving limited options, inadequate legal advise and therefore; WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in gaining access to experienced "pro-bono" and/or activist attorneys as well as the free resources provided by non-profit social justice and legal advocacy groups.


Point #2 - First Response Teams: The Mothers felt that when their loved ones were either killed or captured by the police that they were left in the hands of the enemy and without any support, information or direction on how to best move forward and therefore; WE WANT and NEED community activists to help us develop independently community controlled & trained first response teams in every borough or county that can confirm and be on the ground within 24 hours of any future incident.


Point #3 - Security and Support At Court Appearances: The Mothers all feel that because community activist support eventually becomes selective and minimal, that they are disrespected by both the courthouse authorities, mainstream media and therefore;   WE WANT and NEED community activists to collectively promote and make a strong presence felt at all court appearances and; To always provide trained security & legal observers... when the families are traveling to, inside and from the court house.


Point #4 - Emotional/Spiritual Healing and Grief and Loss Counseling: After the protest rallies, demonstrations, justice marches and television cameras are gone the Mothers all feel alone and abandoned and therefore;                                                                             WE WANT and NEED for community activists to refer/help provide the families with clergy, professional therapy & cultural outlets needed in order to gain strength to move forward. 


Point #5 -  Parents Internal Communication Network: The Mothers agreed as actual victims, that they are the very best qualified in regards to providing the needed empathy and trust for an independent hotline & contact resource for all of the parents and families who want to reach out to someone they can mutually trust that is able understand what they are going through and therefore;           WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in providing a Parents Internal Communication Network to reach that objective.


Point #6 -  Community Offices and Meeting Spaces: The Mothers agreed that there is an extreme need for safe office spaces where community members and family victims are able to go to for both confidential crisis intervention and holding organizing meetings and therefore;                                                                                                                                                                                                 WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in securing those safe spaces inside of our own neighborhoods.   


Point #7 - Political Education Classes and Workshop Training: The Mothers agreed in implementing the "each one, teach one"   strategy and therefore;                                                                                                                                                                                         WE WANT and NEEDfor community activists to help us in being trained as educators and organizers in Know Your Rights, Cop Watch, First Response, Emergency Preparedness & Community Control over all areas of public safety & the police in their respective neighborhoods.


Point #8 - Support From Politicians and Elected Officials: The Mothers believe that most political candidates and incumbent elected officials selectively & unfairly represent only those cases which they think to be politically advantageous to their own selfish personal success on election day and therefore;                                                                                                                                WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in either publicly exposing or endorsing these aforementioned political candidates and/or elected officials to their constituents solely based upon the uncompromising principles of serving the people.


Point #9 - Research and Documentation: The Mothers believe that research/case studies, surveys, petitions, historical archives, investigative news reporting and events should be documented and made readily available in order to counter the self-serving  police misinformation promoted by the system and therefore;                                                                                                                          WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us by securing college/university students, law firms, film makers, authors, journalists and professional research firms to find, document & tell the people the truth about police terror & the pipeline to prison.


Point #10 - Grassroots Community Outreach and Information: The Mothers believe that far too much attention is being geared towards TV camera sensationalism with the constant organizing of marches & rallies "downtown"  and therefore; WE WANT and NEED for community activists to provide a fair balance by helping us to build in the schools, projects, churches and inside of the subway trains and stations of our Black, brown and oppressed communities where the majority of the police terror is actually taking place. 













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)



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














        1)  U.N. Officials Condemn Arrests of Gays in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia

         OCT. 13, 2017




        GENEVA — United Nations officials on Friday condemned the recent mass arrests of gay and transgender people in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia, saying that the authorities in those countries had violated international law by detaining, mistreating and torturing them.

        The roundups — of about 80 people in Azerbaijan, 50 in Egypt and 50 in Indonesia over the past few weeks — do not appear to be connected, but United Nations officials said they exposed patterns of discrimination and abuse that also damage broad development goals.

        The authorities in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, have detained more than 80 people identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender since mid-September, reportedly subjecting some of them to beatings, electric shocks and forced shaving, Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva.

        The police resorted to other forms of humiliation, including forcing many of those arrested to undergo medical examinations and then releasing the results or details of their medical status to the news media.

        The authorities in Baku said they were acting in response to public demands for a crackdown on prostitution, but lawyers for those detained said that most were not involved in the sex trade and that the charges were a pretext.

        All of those detained in Azerbaijan have been released, but some served short sentences on charges of "hooliganism" and "resisting a police order," Mr. Colville said. He added that "any arrest based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is by definition arbitrary and violates international law."

        Egyptian authorities had arrested more than 50 people in recent weeks on the basis of their assumed sexual orientation or gender identity, some of them entrapped by law enforcement officials on websites and chat rooms, Mr. Colville said.

        Two people were arrested after they waved rainbow flags during a rock concert, he said. The flag waving, at a performance by a Lebanese band with an openly gay singer, was shown on social media sites and provoked criticism as an attempt to disgrace Egypt. The police interrogated the two on charges that included "joining an outlawed group that aims to promote homosexuality."

        Charges against those detained included "habitual debauchery," "inciting indecency and debauchery," and "joining a banned group," Mr. Colville said. Some had been subjected to intrusive vaginal and anal examinations, he said, which have been condemned by the United Nations' anti-torture panel as cruel, inhumane and degrading.

        A few of those arrested in Egypt have been released, but 10 men were sentenced to prison terms of one to six years and others were being held pending trial, he said.

        Egyptian human rights activists, who say the government has arrested more than 300 gay and transgender people since 2013, condemned the arrests as an attempt to distract public attention from social problems.

        The Indonesian police arrested 50 people at a sauna in the capital, Jakarta, a week ago "on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation," Mr. Colville said. Many were released, but four men and one woman were charged under a "law on pornography" that Mr. Colville said had been used to punish people for same-sex relationships.

        He said the authorities in all three countries accused those arrested of being involved in sex work "although in almost all cases the accused have denied such allegations or indicated that they were coerced into confessing involvement."

        Mr. Colville called on the three governments to release anyone detained on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and drop charges based on vaguely worded and discriminatory laws.

        Twelve United Nations agencies called in June for an end to discrimination in health care and the elimination of laws that criminalize gender expression and relationships between consenting adults. They described such measures as violations of basic rights, as a threat to public health and as an obstacle to achieving development goals.



        2)  Texas Inmates Donated Nearly $54,000 for Hurricane Relief

         OCT. 14, 2017




        When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast 12 years ago, inmates in Texas prisons told their wardens that they wanted to help.

        Specifically, they wanted to donate money to hurricane relief funds. So officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice developed a novel system: Inmates, they decided, could give away money saved in their commissary accounts; instead of spending their balances on snacks or sneakers, they would be allowed to give a few dollars to the American Red Cross.

        Inmates ultimately cobbled together about $44,000 to help those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. So when Hurricane Harveyspun into Texas in August, some longtime inmates who remembered the previous efforts insisted that officials restart the program.

        This time, the fund-raising was even more successful.

        In about one month, officials say, 6,663 inmates donated $53,863 for Hurricane Harvey relief — an astonishing sum considering many of the offenders typically have less than $5 in their accounts.

        Some of those who had saved gave more — hundreds of dollars, in some instances, a spokesman for the Criminal Justice Department said.

        "There wasn't a person within the prison system who didn't know a hurricane was going on," the spokesman, Jason Clark, said in a telephone interview on Friday. "Texans are generous people."

        Millions of dollars of reliefhave poured in from celebrities as well as average Americans, moved by the scope and extent of the destruction caused by Harvey.

        And every dollar counts. In early September, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas predicted that the recovery costs might exceed those of Hurricane Katrina, which caused more than $100 billion in damage.

        Texas' prison inmates were not exempt from the hurricane's effects. Officials evacuated five prison units and temporarily moved about 6,000 offenders during the hurricane, Mr. Clark said. And throughout the storm, prison staff members continued suiting up and coming to work despite having lost their homes.

        "These men and women, they have family and friends, too, that were affected," Mr. Clark said of the inmates. "They saw the television reports and saw what was happening."

        "Straight away," he added, they began "asking what they could do."



        3)  Trying to Breathe in the Bay Area

        OCT. 16, 2017




        OAKLAND, Calif. — My neighbors are picking lemons from their tree in gas masks. My husband is overnighting us particulate masks to breathe through because Home Depot and all the Ace Hardware stores nearby are sold out, just like they sold out of every single fan in August, during the heat wave. It's the latest version of California's new normal: Add masks to your emergency kit, don't breathe deeply and try to stay inside.

        When I woke up one morning last week with a nose bleed and a wracking cough, I decided to give in and order that particulate mask, but first I consulted with friends. "Is N95 the same as P95?" Liat asked, as we huddled over my laptop. My nurse friend said to search for N95, but the old bepreparedcalifornia.ca.gov pdf that is circulating uses a "P," and Keally says the one put out by the pre-Pruitt Environmental Protection Agency is better. Seth sends out more links about smaller-size masks to a group of neighborhood parents because the ones we bought don't come in kid sizes.

        It's been seven days now of some of the Bay Area's worst ever air quality, and most of the fires north of us in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties are minimally contained, or not at all. The smog enveloping Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose and other cities is literal and figurative: There has been little clarity about how best to protect ourselves. The consensus seems to be that we're not supposed to exercise, that we should refrain from driving as much as possible and that if we do venture outside we should be wearing the kind of heavy-duty face masks that keep out the smallest particulate matter, these gray ashes that are falling from the sky.

        My friend Iris and I brainstorm about the most airtight public spaces, places like movie theaters or hospitals that can filter air for large numbers of people, so we can gather there. She researches which filters really work for smoke pollution, and texts a group of us to say her living room will have the filter on at all times for anyone who needs to come over.

        So many of my friends work remotely — writers and freelancers who often sit in the Bay Area breeze all day, squinting into their laptops. But the coffee shops and co-working spaces aren't airtight, and today my usual ones are mostly empty. I'm writing this from the public library in East Oakland, because my friend Samantha said if you work from home that's the best place to go right now — most public libraries have central air filtration and are not pulling the smoky air from the outside. Another friend, Jessie, tells me that the library at San Francisco's Civic Center is unusually packed with hipsters.

        We are checking two websites nonstop: one for the fire monitoring and one for air quality. The websites keep crashing, though, I think because they weren't built for this much traffic. But this is the Bay Area, after all — we want the right maps, and we want them fast. "You can't even zoom in on the air quality map," I catch myself complaining.

        There's a gray light over everything all day long. On the last six evenings, we've had what in any other situation you'd call a gorgeous sunset, the bright orange sun a perfect disk framed in gray between the Marin Headlands. But as I step out of my car I look away from it, shielding my face from its apocalyptic light.

        I wonder if this will become our new way of life, if slowly we're just going to get used to avoiding the air. My husband reminds me not to turn on the air conditioner or central fan in our house because it will bring in smoke from outside. I press down every window to make sure it's tight, and cancel a run with my neighbor after work because neither of us wants to even walk the slight uphill climb to the park.

        People I've never thought could relate to this situation write to me on the internet. My friend who used to live in China posts advice on my Facebook wall about how to survive air pollution and when to decide enough is enough, and leave.

        It can feel that way here right now — some of our best-known tourist destinations burned to ashes, regular avalanches on our highways. A friend notes that we can no longer refer to a "fire season" in California because the inferno of fires just seem to blend one into the next. It's enough to make anyone start thinking about Armageddon.

        "Maybe it won't be livable for much longer here," Iris says over tea, "maybe we should start planning to move."

        "But also," Ellie says, "where would we go? It's not like there aren't disasters happening everywhere."

        I walk into a clothing swap one night and a woman there is talking about her aunt who has lost everything: home, clothing, decades of memories. I sit on the couch and nod along. "Yeah," I say, "it's awful up there."

        "Oh," she says, tilting her head toward me, "this is actually in Puerto Rico."



        4) Stranded by Maria, Puerto Ricans Get Creative to Survive

        Three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, people across

        the island, especially those in remote areas, are improvising ways to

        stay alive.

        By Caitlin Dickerson, Oct. 16, 2017


        Ramon Torres uses an improvised pulley system to transport supplies over the river at Charco Abajo. Three weeks after Hurricane Maria, damaged infrastructure is hampering the delivery of aid to remote communities. CreditDennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The New York Times


        The winding roads that once paved a lush, tree-lined route from San Juan, the capital, to Utuado now appear post-apocalyptic. Leafless, branchless trees, denuded by Maria's winds, are tangled around one another and spill out into the highway. Rock formations, once covered with vegetation, have been stripped bare. Permanently windblown palm trees look like half-shaven heads. And houses that were once tucked neatly into the hills are now roofless, irreparably damaged wrecks sliding down the sides of them.

        All that remains of the many wooden, one-room houses that once dotted the hills here are tall and narrow 3-sided concrete structures that were built to protect bathroom plumbing, and which are now surrounded by piles of rubble.

        Examples of the creativity of people living in the mountains are on display across the countryside. All day and night, people who live in the mountains cluster along roadways to bathe and do laundry in places where locals have redirected water from higher up that spews out of PVC pipes. They fill empty bottles and buckets, which they use to clean their homes and flush toilets.

        But for some, the situation is more fragile than it is for others.

        More than 100 bridges in Puerto Rico were damaged by Maria and 18 have been closed indefinitely, according to Ivonne Rosario, a spokeswoman for Puerto Rico's transportation department. An unknown number collapsed during the storm, leaving entire communities like Charco Abajo stranded.

        Down a series of dirt roads that are still covered with mangled trees, fallen power lines and fiber-optic cables, Charco Abajo is home to about 120 people, mostly adults who are retired or unemployed, and a few children.

        At 47, Lilia Rivera hobbles at the pace of someone decades older. She speaks in a whisper because her vocal cords are partly paralyzed. And she is hypersensitive to allergens — the slightest whiff of smoke, chemicals or perfume can cause her throat to close.

        Her remote location and health problems, caused by exposure to pesticides, have made her doubly vulnerable to Hurricane Maria's destruction.

        "At the beginning, I was asked if I wanted to leave," she said, sitting with her cane resting in her lap in her light-filled living room on a rural hillside in the Utuado municipality. "But wherever I go, the environment needs to be controlled. That doesn't exist in a shelter."

        Despite having been trapped in their homes for three weeks and subsisting on dwindling reserves of bottled water and ready-to-eat military meals, some residents are surprisingly at ease. On the day they were visited by a reporter, they were quick to point out that other Puerto Ricans were living in worse circumstances, though it was hard to imagine whom they could have been talking about.

        Marilyn Luciano, who has taken on the unofficial role of village secretary, went door-to-door to check on her neighbors. She chatted casually about her son who lives in Florida and was recently married. Ms. Luciano said that the laid-back spirit of people who live in the mountains of Puerto Rico is what is helping them weather the storm. "This is what we do," she said. "It's who we are."

        Even Ms. Rivera and her family were hesitant to complain. She, her husband, three children and one grandchild all live together and were born and raised in Utuado.

        Her husband, Leonardo Medina, a retired distribution worker in the pharmaceutical industry, was busy chopping fallen trees outside their home when they were visited by a reporter. After the family lost power, he connected Ms. Rivera's oxygen tank to a car battery, which is now powering it through an inverter.

        Mr. Medina said that if his wife's health were to begin to deteriorate, he knew that his neighbors would not hesitate to help him carry her across the river. Ms. Rivera chimed in. "We Puerto Ricans are fighters and hard workers," she said, "My life depends on it."



        5)  California Fires Leave Many Homeless Where Housing Was Already Scarce

        OCT. 15, 2017



        SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Nathalie and Michael Internicola had about 15 minutes to grab what they could as the flames roared toward their house, and it wasn't much: Some clothes, passports, their phones. They are grateful to be alive, they said, but as for what comes next and how and where they might rebuild their lives, they don't have a clue.

        "We're staying with friends as long as they will have us; then we don't know," said Ms. Internicola, 51, whose home in Santa Rosa burned to the ground, along with about 60 others in their neighborhood. "We are desperately looking for a house we can rent, but there's just nothing available, because there are so many people displaced."

        Though some of the fires in Northern California, the deadliest on record in the state, had been partly contained by Sunday afternoon, others were still raging. At least 40 people have died, and the count is likely to rise as the search for victims continues.

        But for people like the Internicolas who escaped in time but lost their homes, the journey is just beginning. And the daunting implications of starting over, multiplied by thousands, are rippling through the state. About 100,000 people have been evacuated from fire zones, and some 5,700 houses and buildings have been destroyed.

        Some displaced people likened their path to a gauntlet of fresh blows: real estate prices and rents that were already sky-high before the fires, the complexities of California's housing, zoning and building regulations, and the environmental problems involved in cleaning up home sites made toxic by the ash from the fire.

        Improvisation is the order of the day. Ron Gove called his accountant after his house in Santa Rosa burned down, hoping she would have documents and backup paperwork for his home-based business. She immediately insisted that he move into her guest bedroom, where he has now been staying for a week.

        Some people are staying in motels or bunking with friends. Evelyn Gibson, 73, has moved in with her boyfriend. Some people have gone as far as Oakland or San Francisco, upward of 70 miles from Santa Rosa, in search of a place to sleep and a refuge from the fire's new reality.

        "It reaches to every aspect of this community's life," said Matt Park, a school psychologist who lost his house in Santa Rosa. He said about half the children in his daughter's kindergarten class were now homeless as well.

        For almost everyone, the retelling starts with the frantic minutes, often with flames visible from the front door, as they piled a few possessions, randomly or not, into a vehicle and fled. Some now shake their heads at the things they thought to grab in the chaos and trauma: a basketful of clean folded clothes just out of the dryer, a book taken from a shelf on the way to the door.

        John Page pulled two drawers of family mementos from a bureau and made a cache in his backyard as the wildfire closed in. The trove, he said, was the stuff of deep meaning but little financial value: some old watches and neckties, his children's baby teeth, his brother's military burial flag. He covered the box of mementos with water-drenched bedding and blankets, made a kind of tepee over it out of three wheelbarrows, and then fled for his life.

        The house was completely destroyed, and Mr. Page, 65, is staying in his deceased parents' home for the time being. A few days ago, a deputy sheriff who'd heard his story rang the doorbell with a box in his arms.

        "It was all there," Mr. Page said, choking up. "I couldn't believe it."

        California already had a housing crisis long before the fires started. With strict environmental rules and local politics that can discourage new housing development, the state's pace of new construction has fallen far short of the state's population growth.

        In the five-year period ending in 2014, California added 544,000 households, but only 467,000 housing units, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, and the deficit is only expected to grow over the next decade. Napa and Sonoma Counties, where the fires did some of the most extensive damage, are among the furthest behind, building less than half the number of units in recent years that the state reckons were needed to keep up with the population.

        Napa and Sonoma present a kind of worst-of-both-worlds scenario, according to Issi Romem, chief economist at BuildZoom, a San Francisco company that helps homeowners find contractors.

        Those two counties are close enough to San Francisco and Silicon Valley that they have been affected by the heavy demand and soaring prices that have made housing unaffordable for many people in the Bay Area's dense urban job centers, Mr. Romem said. At the same time, they are far enough away from cities that residents are still fiercely protective of their rural atmosphere and ethos, and they often resist development.

        "Rebuilding is going to be tough unless some kind of streamlining is made," he said.

        The question of how to speed up housing construction figured prominently in the state legislature's most recent session. Gov. Jerry Brown signed 15 bills meant to ease the effects of local regulations and raise money for subsidized lower-income housing.

        "It needs to be as easy as possible for people to rebuild," said Scott Wiener, a state senator from San Francisco. "We have a severe housing shortage as it is, and we don't want to make it worse."

        Outside a multiagency assistance center that opened in Santa Rosa this weekend, Tom Gerstel, a disaster support worker, addressed a line of people who had been assembling for more than an hour before the doors opened on Sunday morning. In the center's first day of operation on Saturday, 387 people came through its doors, all of whom had lost their homes and most of whom had also lost the paper trail of their lives: deeds and marriage licenses, tax files and social security cards.

        "Some folks have lost everything, others partial," Mr. Gerstel said to the line of people, some of them wearing masks over their noses and mouths as ash fluttered down from a sunny sky. He told them that they could expect a kind of triage inside, with help in applying for federal aid, and getting a new driver's license, but that the priority was housing: "A safe, secure place to sleep tonight, and food — that's going to be tended to as a priority," he said.

        Some who lost their homes said that the fires had shifted the priorities of their lives, and that possessions and nice houses no longer seemed so important.

        Kathy and Dennis Shanklin lost everything but their dogs and the clothes they were wearing, after they stripped off their pajamas and fled in the middle of the night. They sneaked back through the still-closed roads a few days ago to look at the ashes of their old lives.

        "I started to cry, and then it just felt like, 'It's not worth crying about,'" said Ms. Shanklin, 67, a schoolteacher, describing her feelings as she stood there looking at what had been. "You've just got to put one foot in front of the other," she said.

        Susan Gibson saved her cats and some cat food, a purse and couple of changes of clothes, but lost everything else when her house burned to ash. The psychological shock waves hit when she looked at a rental she hoped to live in for two years or more, the time she thinks it could take to rebuild. The place was lovely, she said, down a winding road in the woods, But she walked away, the caustic memories of fire and flight too fresh and raw. She knew she wouldn't be comfortable there.

        "The escape route was a concern," she said. "On the night of the fire, I sat in stopped traffic — we all did. It took about half an hour to go a quarter-mile, and the fire was bearing down on us. So now I'm conscious of it."

        Many people who lost homes said the outpouring of donations and outreach from friends had changed them, too, in positive ways — in seeing new connections and reasons for hope.

        "Gratitude," said Ms. Shanklin, the schoolteacher, "is a big word in my vocabulary now."



        6)  One Person Believed to Be Missing After Oil Rig Explodes in Louisiana

        OCT. 15, 2017




        One person was believed to be missing after an oil rig storage platform exploded Sunday night on Lake Pontchartrain, just north and west of New Orleans.

        Seven people were taken to hospitals after the explosion, and three of them remained in critical condition Monday morning, Mike Guillot, the director of emergency medical services at East Jefferson General Hospital, said at a news conference. The other four were released.

        Sheriff Joe Lopinto of Jefferson Parish said at the news conference, "We are fairly confident there is an eighth person," adding that search efforts were continuing, and the Coast Guard had contacted the person's family.

        No fatalities had been reported as of Monday morning.

        The blast occurred shortly after 7 p.m. near St. Charles Parish and the city of Kenner. The platform is in unincorporated Jefferson Parish.

        Officials are still investigating the cause of the explosion, but the City of Kenner said on its Facebook page that "authorities on the scene report that cleaning chemicals ignited on the surface of the oil rig platform."

        Social media users posted descriptions of the explosion on Twitter and described a blast that shook houses.

        Ben Zahn, the mayor of Kenner, said it did not appear that any homes on land had been damaged by the blast.

        Around 11 p.m. on Sunday, Fire Chief Dave Tibbetts of Jefferson Parish had said firefighting efforts were continuing. "There's a number of wells in that location, and the oil is transferred at that point," he said of the site of the blast.

        "So our first objective from the firefighting standpoint is we're trying to stop the oil flow if there's any, and at that point we're going to have to cool it and let it burn off."



        7)  California Tells Pet Stores Their Dogs and Cats Must Be Rescues

        OCT. 16, 2017




        In a blow to commercial animal breeders and brokers, California pet stores will soon have to get their puppies, kittens and rabbits from shelters and rescue centers only.

        Individuals can still buy from private breeders. But beginning in January 2019, it will be illegal for stores to do so. Violators will face a fine of $500.

        The bill, A.B. 485, had strong support from several animal welfare organizations, which cheered it as a blow to "puppy mills" and "kitten factories" that mass produce animals for sale, often in inhumane conditions. It was written by two California Assembly members, Patrick O'Donnell and Matt Dababneh, both Democrats, and signed into law on Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

        California is the first state to pass such legislation, though it is following dozens of its own cities and jurisdictions, which have passed similar measures on a smaller scale.

        "Because pet stores are one step removed from the breeding of the animals they sell, store owners rarely know the breeding conditions of their animals," a fact sheet for the legislation said. "In many cases, puppy mills house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care."

        Opponents of the measure argued that the bill painted large "puppy mills" and responsible backyard dog breeders with the same broad brush.

        Mike Bober, the president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, a national advocacy group, called it "well-intentioned but misguided" in a video last month, adding that it would jeopardize hundreds of jobs.

        But the number of for-profit pet stores in California had been dwindling long before this bill was signed, said Boris Jang, who owns the Puppy Store in Santa Ana, Calif.

        He expects the new law will put him out of business.

        Mr. Jang said he once worked with animal brokers but stopped about four years ago after learning that the dogs might be coming from commercial breeders where animals suffered.

        Since then, he said, the Puppy Store has offered a mix of dogs. About half come from shelters or rescue centers; the rest, which are sold for profit, come from small local breeders or people who have a litter they do not know what to do with. He said that if he had to switch entirely to shelter and rescue dogs, he could not afford his lease at MainPlace Mall.

        Still, Mr. Jang said he understood lawmakers' intentions. "Their heart is in the right place, but their thinking is a little shortsighted."

        After the bill easily passed in California's Senate and Assembly last month, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals praised the state for taking action where federal regulators had fallen short.

        "By cutting off the puppy mill pipeline that moves cruelly bred animals from across the country into California pet stores, A.B. 485 will also help prevent California consumers from being duped into purchases that contribute to unconscionable animal 'production' and suffering," the organization said in a statement.

        But Ben Ashel, a pet store owner in Agoura Hills, Calif., said the new law might have unintended effects by motivating more consumers to order dogs online or find sneakier ways to acquire the breeds they want.

        His store, Puppy Heaven, specializes in matching owners with tiny dogs — teacup Yorkies and toy Maltipoos — and has a celebrity clientele. He said he was not sure what he would do once the law comes into effect.

        "It takes the freedom of choice from people who want to get a puppy. They don't want to get someone else's unwanted dog or something of that nature," he said, adding that some people need breeds that work well with children or accommodate allergies and other health issues.

        "They just want to start fresh with a puppy, and this law makes it very, very difficult."



        8)  The Moral Case for Draft Resistance



        On Monday, Oct. 16, 1967, Americans gathered by the thousands in cities and on campuses all over the country for the first "Stop the Draft" week. On the steps of federal buildings, city halls and university buildings, hundreds of young men protested the Vietnam War by turning in their draft cards — a national act of civil disobedience.

        In Boston, draft resisters assembled in the historic Arlington Street Church and turned in their cards in what seemed like a sacramental rite. They moved solemnly up the aisle, some in tears, and deposited their draft cards in offering plates. Others burned their cards in the flame of a candle held by a candlestick once owned by the abolitionist preacher William Ellery Channing.

        Reflecting on the moment when he turned in his draft card, James Oestereich, a seminarian in Boston, said, "It's hard" to confront one's government during wartime. "We know how to pay our taxes … but we don't know how to oppose our government in a way that's responsible and that will be listened to."

        In the national memory of the Vietnam War, anyone who violated draft laws is typically seen as selfish, cowardly and unpatriotic. It was one thing for civil rights activists to confront the government by breaking the law; by 1967, many of them were regarded as among the nation's finest citizens. But if a citizen defied the draft laws to take a similar stand, few saw it as the resisters did: as a desperate appeal to the nation's highest ideals.

        Certainly, President Lyndon Johnson did not understand. When draft resisters showed up in Washington on Oct. 20 with nearly 1,000 draft cards collected from all over the country and turned them in at the Justice Department, he was furious. Johnson raged privately about whomever "the dumb sonofabitch was who would let somebody leave a bunch of draft cards in front of the Justice Department and then let them just walk away," and ordered the attorney general, the F.B.I. and the Selective Service to investigate.

        If the president had been better briefed, he would have known that the week's theme of moving "from protest to resistance" came in large part from the expectation that thousands of draft-age men would deliberately defy draft laws. And he knew enough about the draft that he should have seen these protests coming.

        By 1967, it made sense for protesters to target the Selective Service System. Nearly everyone agreed that the draft did not operate fairly. Since the 1950s, the government faced a fundamental problem administering a peacetime system of conscription: The baby boom produced too many draft-age men. Even during the Vietnam War, the military enlisted or drafted fewer than 11 million draft-age men out of a pool of nearly 27 million. Under the direction of Gen. Lewis Hershey, the Selective Service fashioned a system of deferments and exemptions that local draft boards awarded to registrants for pursuing certain activities outside the military, such as going to college or medical, dental or divinity school; serving in the reserves; or working for a defense contractor.

        By 1966, as draft calls increased dramatically, the system of deferments came under intense criticism. In response, President Johnson appointed a commission that confirmed the inequities of the system. In effect, the draft turned the Vietnam War into a "working-class war," as the historian Christian Appy has labeled it, with disproportionate numbers of the poor and working-class sent to Vietnam while everyone else seemed to go off to college.

        Meanwhile, revelations from a 1965 Selective Service training kit exposed the draft not only as unfair, but as a vast social engineering project. In the so-called "channeling memo," first published in New Left Notes in January 1967, General Hershey wrote to draft board officials that the process of delivering a few thousand men to induction centers "is not much of an administrative challenge," Rather, General Hershey declared, "it is in dealing with the other millions of registrants that the System is heavily occupied, developing more effective human beings in the national interest." Too bad no one told the American public that the real point of the draft was to develop "more effective human beings."

        Yet, through the use of "channeling" — of wielding the threat of induction to push young men into activities the Selective Service saw as advancing the "national interest" — the draft produced a "psychology of granting wide choice under pressure." This, General Hershey claimed, was "the American or indirect way of achieving what is done by direction in foreign countries where choice is not permitted."

        The channeling memo exposed a coercive draft system that took a generation of men and threw them into an arena to compete with one another, in a competition few of them would have chosen for themselves. Getting a deferment meant survival. For the men who became draft resisters and for their supporters, the realization that they were compelled to play an undemocratic game that privileged some Americans over others only reinforced their sense that the United States had strayed from its most cherished values.

        They did not take their decision to resist the draft lightly. As children of the Second World War generation, they had thought of their country as a leader of nations: The United States had defeated fascism abroad, prosecuted Nazi war criminals and brought the United Nations to New York.

        As they came of age, however, they saw Lyndon Johnson escalate the war in Vietnam almost unilaterally, killing hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians and tens of thousands of Americans. Instead of being a model nation, the United States now faced international condemnation, even from allies, over its use of overwhelming military power. After years of signing petitions, writing to their congressmen and turning out for large-scale demonstrations, to no avail, draft resisters now upped the ante.

        A loose coalition of "Resistance" organizers planned the national draft card turn-in. They were inspired by the civil rights movement, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement (during which one of its leaders, Mario Savio, described having to "put your bodies upon the gears, and upon the wheels, and upon the levers" in order to stop the operation of an odious "machine") and the precedent of resisters such as Muhammad Ali. By risking indictment, they thought that they could put the Johnson administration — and the war itself — on trial in court proceedings all over the country.

        Tens of thousands of Americans supported draft resisters by signing their names to complicity statements. The most prominent of these, "The Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority," was written by intellectuals and first published in The New York Review of Books and The New Republic. The "Call" emphasized documented incidents of American war crimes in Vietnam, and called on Americans to support draft resisters, whom signers saw as "courageous and justified."

        Few were radicals. Boston draft resisters, for example, were mostly middle to upper -middle class, the children of Democrats who presumably voted for Johnson in 1964. Most important, 82 percent of them held deferments that protected them from being drafted. By breaking the law, they willfully made themselves vulnerable to prosecution and to being called for induction. These were hardly the acts of cowards.

        "There was something of the flying trapeze in these maneuvers now," Norman Mailer reported when the draft cards were returned to the Justice Department. The commitment to an uncertain future that might involve a prison sentence was like a "moral leap which the acrobat must know when he flies off into space," he wrote. "One has to have faith in one's ability to react with grace en route, one has," he concluded, "to believe in some kind of grace."

        Neither President Johnson nor General Hershey saw any grace in draft resistance. Hershey responded enthusiastically to the president's order to act on draft resistance by instructing draft boards to reclassify and call for induction anyone who turned in their draft cards — actions that the Supreme Court later ruled (in the case of James Oestereich, among others) unconstitutional.

        And although draft resisters expected to be arrested and prosecuted, Attorney General Ramsey Clark surprised them by indicting only a handful of ringleaders, including the famed pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock. (The convictions in that trial were overturned on appeal.)

        The draft resisters' mass civil disobedience strategy did not work out the way they planned; they did not get the chance to put the war on trial in hundreds of federal court proceedings all over the nation. But Johnson administration papers show that the president did not grant General William Westmoreland's request for 206,000 additional troops in part because so many administration officials predicted more draft resistance, on an unprecedented scale.

        Fifty years later, it is worth remembering the place of draft resisters in the American tradition of dissent. By escalating protest against the war and risking their own freedom they kept alive a vital form of citizenship.



        9)  Cleanup From California Fires Poses Environmental and Health Risks

        OCT. 16, 2017



        SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Dr. Karen Relucio has heard reports of people digging into the ashes of their burned homes in recent days without gloves, wearing only shorts and T-shirts, looking for sentimental items that might have survived California's horrific wildfires. And as the chief public health officer in Napa County, one of the hardest-hit places, she has used her office as a bully pulpit to urge them to stop, immediately.

        "Just think of all the hazardous materials in your house," she said in an interview. "Your chemicals, your pesticides, propane, gasoline, plastic and paint — it all burns down into the ash. It concentrates in the ash, and it's toxic," said Dr. Relucio, who declared a public emergency over the hazardous waste from the fires, as have at least two other counties.

        California's fires are far from out. They have killed at least 41 people and burned about 5,700 structures and over 213,000 acres since they exploded in force on Oct. 8 and 9 — record totals for a state that is used to wildfires. Thousands of firefighters are still at work fighting blazes and tens of thousands of people remain under mandatory evacuation from their homes, though fire officials have expressed cautious optimism about bringing the fires into containment.

        But even as the smell of smoke still wafts through this area north of San Francisco, public health officials and environmental cleanup experts are starting to think about the next chapter of the disaster: the huge amount of debris and ash that will be left behind.

        In whole neighborhoods here, a thick layer of ash paints the landscape a ghastly white. Wind can whip the ash into the air; rain, when it comes, could wash it into watersheds and streams or onto nearby properties that were not ravaged by fire.

        And the process of cleaning it all up, which has not even begun, is very likely to bring its own thorny set of issues, in the costs, timetables and liability questions — all compounded by scale, in the thousands of properties that must be repaired and restored.

        "In modern times this has got be an unprecedented event, and a major hazard for the public and for property owners," said Dr. Alan Lockwood, a retired neurologist who has written widely about public health. He said an apt comparison might be the environmental cleanup after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, as debris and dust swirled through Lower Manhattan.

        As could well happen too in California, Dr. Lockwood said, the health and environmental effects were felt long after the attack, in the chemicals or pollutants workers and responders at the site, and the public at large, may been exposed to as the cleanup went on.

        Household building materials are obviously different from the components of a concrete tower. But they pose risks too. Treated wood in a house's frame, for instance, put there to prevent bacteria growth, can contain copper, chromium and arsenic. Consumer electronics contain metals like lead, mercury and cadmium. Older homes might have asbestos shingles. Even galvanized nails are a concern because when they melt they release zinc. All are potentially harmful.

        "It's a completely complex mixed bag of different stuff that's there," said Geoffrey S. Plumlee, associate director for environmental health with the United States Geological Survey.

        Dr. Plumlee led a study after several Southern California wildfires in 2007 that found that ash from burned-out residential areas contained elevated levels of arsenic, antimony and metals including lead, copper and chromium. In most cases the levels were above federal Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for soil remediation.

        After a fire in Slave Lake, Alberta, in 2011 that destroyed about 400 homes, the city landfill was found to be leaching toxins after fire debris was deposited there.

        In California, the road ahead to cleanup and the safe return to properties will probably not be smooth or fast, public health officials and cleanup experts said. The sheer number of communities affected and properties destroyed creates a greater challenge than any the state has faced in recent history.

        Local and state agencies, focused on active fires, have not yet sorted out who will take the leadership roles. Even determining how severely lands are affected and the estimated costs of remediation lay ahead in the weeks and months to come.

        At a packed public meeting in the basketball gym at Santa Rosa High School on Saturday, some residents said they worried that the cleanup could go on for years and asked state officials if they could proceed on their own.

        The answer they got was a qualified yes. An approved contractor can be hired, if one is available. Otherwise the cleanup should be free in most cases, residents were told, paid for with taxpayer money or private insurance if a homeowner has a debris-removal clause in the insurance policy on the house.

        But state and federal officials said on Monday that many of the details of how this cleanup would work remained unsettled. That is partly because the focus has been on response to the fires and the fatalities, and the 40,000 people still evacuated from their homes, but also because of the complex mix of properties affected on both public and private lands.

        "There are more questions than answers," said David Passey, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He said, for example, that FEMA, the federal government's lead disaster response agency, typically concentrated on public property, not private, unless individual counties declare the private properties a public health and safety risk. Counties and cities can also take the lead on cleanup, he said, and that too has not been fully sorted out.

        "We don't know yet which of those solutions, or mixture of those solutions, the cities and counties will choose," Mr. Passey said.

        Mark Oldfield, a spokesman for the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, which administers state-managed waste handling and recycling programs, said a typical situation for cleanup would include a kind of triage, with the most hazardous materials as a site handled first, typically by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. That agency would evaluate and remove hazardous debris, which can range from asbestos siding or pipe insulation to paints, batteries, flammable liquids and electronic waste like computers and monitors.

        After that, contractors under CalRecycle's auspices could focus on remaining debris removal for recycling (metals and concrete) or disposal (ash and contaminated soil), Mr. Oldfield said. Then the land could be prepared for potential rebuilding. But, he added, "With fires still active in many areas, there is not yet a timetable for cleanup efforts to begin."

        Dr. Relucio, Napa County's public health director, said that in the meantime, people who go back to their properties should protect their eyes, lungs and skin, with long sleeves and pants, boots, glasses, and a good quality N95-rated mask available in most hardware stores.

        Dr. Lockwood said a secondary caution for anyone entering a burned site is human idiosyncrasy, in the things people store in garages, use in their hobbies or just never got around to throwing away.

        "One never knows what people have stashed in their homes," he said.














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