Monday, October 12, 2015




Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:








Support Rasmea Odeh in court Oct. 14 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This is a critical moment in legal process.

Stand with Rasmea and fill the appeals courthouse in Cincinnati! We will organize a support rally in front of the courthouse at 8 AM EDT on Wednesday, October 14, 2015, and then fill the courtroom immediately thereafter, as Rasmea's defense and the prosecution each present their oral arguments to a three-judge panel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015, at 8 a.m. EDT (appeal starts at 9 a.m. EDT)
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit
540 Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse, 100 E. 5th Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Register here to join us in Cincinnati on October 14. Visit and Please email with any questions.

The Rasmea Defense Committee contends that Judge Gershwin Drain did not allow for a full and fair trial, and believes that is why Rasmea was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison and deportation. We are confident that she has solid arguments on appeal, and wrote in late July that the "defense argues conclusively that the government 'never really addresses the basic constitutional deprivations asserted in Ms. Odeh’s opening appellate brief,' and that Rasmea is 'entitled to present her complete defense to the jury,' which can only happen in a new trial."

After the three appellate judges hear oral arguments on October 14, a decision will be made between two and six months later. If the court agrees with the defense and overturns the conviction and the sentencing, the case gets sent back to the prosecution to possibly re-file charges, whereupon the entire trial process begins anew. But this time, evidence of torture, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), etc., would be allowed into the courtroom.

If the court upholds the conviction but disagrees with the sentence, the appellate judges send new sentencing guidelines back to Drain for re-sentencing. In the worst possible scenario, her conviction and sentencing would be upheld, meaning that she would have to serve 18 months in prison and then be deported. If this happens, the defense could ask that all of the 6th Circuit appellate court judges, not just the three panelists, review the case, as a last ditch effort to win the appeal.

We are fundraising, organizing public events, and pitching Rasmea's story to media across the country and the world.

This is a critical moment - support Rasmea Odeh in court!
Register here to join us in Cincinnati on October 14. For more information email with any questions.





California Speaking Tour of David Sheen, Oct. 21-29, 2015

The Bullet, the Ballot, and the Boycott: Racism in Israel Today

Oct. 21-29, 2015, independent Canadian-Israeli journalist and filmmaker David Sheen will present the Bullet, the Ballot & the Boycott at venues in California.  He will cover Israeli incitement to racist violence, the focus of his on-the-ground reporting for the past five years.

David will describe how top Israeli political and religious leaders use dehumanizing discourse to inspire vigilante attacks toward Palestinians, Africans and other non-Jews, especially during the 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip.  It will include material that Sheen presented at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Brussels, as well as new information never before been made public in English.

David's speaking schedule is as follows.  To make arrangements for David to come to your event or to add the name of your organization as a tour endorser, please call 510-236-4250 or write to us at

Wed., Oct. 21
San Jose State University, details to follow
SJSU Students for Justice in Palestine

Thu., Oct. 22
Berkeley, details to follow
Zaytuna University

Sun., Oct. 25
Uptown Body & Fender, 401 26th St., Oakland
ISM-NorCal & JVP-Bay Area
$10 suggested donation

Thu., Oct. 29
The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles
The Markaz & JVP-LA 310.657.5511
ISM Northern California | Supporting Palestinian-led non...
Northern California branch of the Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods...

View on
Tour organizer: ISM Support Group in Northern California





International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity


Featuring Kenia Serrano Puig, President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP)  

Friday November 13, 7:30pm

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts

339 11th Street, Richmond CA 94801-3105

Doors Open 6:30pm

$10-20 Donation at the Door

(nobody turned away for lack of funds)

Students and children free admission

This will be a unique opportunity to hear from the Cuban perspective about the new stage of U.S.-Cuba relations and the role that the U.S. Cuba solidarity movement can play in ending the U.S. blockade.


Keynote Speaker, Kenia Serrano Puig, President of ICAP

Welcome by Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond City Council Member
Dr. Laura Gomez, recently graduated from the Latin America School of Medicine (ELAM)
Leima Martinez, ICAP North America Division
Walter Turner, KPFA Host of Africa Today 

Musical performance by a local group

ICAP is a social organization founded on December 30, 1960 for the purpose of promoting and explaining to the peoples of the world the relations of solidarity that sparked the Cuban Revolution. ICAP is the vehicle to reach around the globe to people who are in solidarity with Cuba. ICAP is that interface that strengthens the network of solidarity, while representing the Cuban people, and delivering a strong message that solidarity not only benefits Cuba but the peoples of the world who are aspiring to promote the idea that a better world is possible for all.

Initiated by the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity

Co-sponsors: Global Exchange, Richmond-Regla Sister City Association, Berkeley-Palma Soriano Sister City Association.



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

News Updates

  • Death Row Stories
    Kevin Cooper's case will be the subject of a new episode of CNN's "Death Row Stories" airing on Sunday, July 26 at 7 p.m. PDT. The program will be repeated at 10 p.m. PDT. The episode, created by executive producers Robert Redford and Alex Gibney, will explore how Kevin Cooper was framed by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney.Viewers on the east coast can see the program at 10 p.m. EDT and it will be rebroadcast at 1 a.m. EDT on July 27. Viewers in the Central Time zone can see it at 9 p.m. and midnight CDT. Viewers in the Mountain Time zone can see it at 8 p.m. and ll p.m MDT. It will be aired on CNN again during the following week and will also be able to be viewed on CNN's "Death Row Stories" website.
Kevin Cooper: An Innocent Victim of Racist Frame-Up
- from the Fact Sheet at:

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:

     This message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. July 2015



Free Albert Woodfox!

On June 8, 2015 a federal judge granted Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox unconditional release. Albert's conviction had already been overturned three times - most recently in 2013 - yet every time the state has appealed.

Today, Albert is still behind bars after spending four decades in cruel, unjust solitary confinement. He believes that he and fellow prisoners, Herman Wallace and Robert King, were first placed in solitary confinement in retaliation for their activism. All three men were members of the Black Panther Party. Together, they came to be known as the Angola 3.

It is time for the State of Louisiana to stop standing in the way of justice. Call on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to ensure Albert's cruel and unjust confinement is not his legacy. Learn more



Amnesty for all those arrested demanding justice for Freddie Gray!


Amnesty for ALL those arrested
demanding justice for Freddie Gray!

Sign and distribute the petition to drop the charges!
Spread this effort with #Amnesty4Baltimore

"A riot is the language of the unheard"
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

An estimated 300 people have been arrested in Baltimore in the last two weeks. Many have been brutalized, beaten and pepper-sprayed by police in the streets, and held for days in inhumane conditions. Those arrested include journalists, medics and legal observers.

One individual arrested for property destruction of a police vehicle is now facing life in prison and is being held on $500,000 bail. That's $150,000 more than the officer charged with the murder of Freddie Gray.  

The legal system has made it clear that they care more about broken windows than broken necks; more about a CVS than the lives of Baltimore's Black residents.

They showed no hesitation in arresting Baltimore's protesters and rebels, and sending in the National Guard, but took 19 days to put a single one of the killer cops in handcuffs. This was the outrageous double standard that led to the Baltimore Uprising.

 Sign the petition to drop the charges on all who have been arrested.

Petition to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Download PDF of Petition

Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake
City Hall, Room 250,
100 North Holliday St.,
Baltimore, MD 21202

Dear Mayor Rawlings-Blake:

I stand in solidarity with those in Baltimore who are demanding that all charges be dropped against those who rose up against racism, police brutality, oppressive social conditions and delay of justice in the case of Freddie Gray. The whole world now recognizes that were it not for this powerful grassroots movement, in all its forms, there would be no indictment.

It is an outrage that peaceful protesters have been brutalized, beaten and pepper-sprayed by police in the streets, and held for days in inhumane conditions. Those arrested include journalists and legal observers.

Even the youth who are charged with property destruction and looting should be given an amnesty. There is no reason a teenager -- provoked by racists and justifiably angry -- should be facing life in prison for breaking the windows of a police car.

The City of Baltimore should work to rectify the conditions that led to this Uprising, rather than criminalizing those who took action in response to those conditions. Drop the charges now!

[add your name below]




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




Last night Mumia got notice that the final appeal of his PA Department of Corrections grievance was denied. Listen to his reaction here.

This denial comes on top of the magistrate Judge’s proposal to deny Mumia's right to treatment last week.

Remember-- one of the reasons the Judge gave was her claim that Mumia had not "exhausted his administrative remedies" or received a final denial of his request for care. Now he has received that denial.

We know that withholding Mumia’s care is immoral and illegal. We are confident that we will win this battle in court- but we can’t do it alone.

We have 3 days left to raise $2,948 to support Mumia’s legal team in securing his right to hepatitis C treatment!

If you have already joined us, we’re inviting you to ask one friend to match your gift. We need about 50 more freedom fighters to join us to reach our goal— and we want you to make that happen with us!

If you haven’t given yet- now is the time to make a contribution for Mumia. Will you join us?

Health care is a human right- for Mumia, and for all prisoners. Let's prove it.‪ #freemumia #fight4mumia

Reply directly to this email to respond to the campaign owner, Prison Radio . Visit the campaign page to view all comments and updates for this project.

Help spread the word about the campaign!



Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson
Updates from the New "Team Free Lorenzo Johnson":
Thank you all for your relentless effort in the fight against wrongful convictions and your determination to stand behind Lorenzo.

To garner even more support for Lorenzo Johnson, we have been hard at work updating the website and developing an even more formidable and dedicated team. Please take a moment to visit the new site here.

During the month of July, Lorenzo wrote two new articles for The Huffington Post titled "When Prosecutors Deny Justice for the Innocent," and "Hurry Up and Wait for Justice: The Struggle of Innocent Prisoners." In these articles, Lorenzo discusses the flaws in the criminal justice system, which he deems is a "serious problem in this country."

Lastly, Lorenzo has a message to you all.

A Letter from Lorenzo:

July 23, 2015
Dauphin County Prison
Harrisburg, PA

Dear Supporters,

I hope all is well with everyone and your families. As for myself, I'm still on my journey in pursuit of my vindication. Sorry for my website being shut down for a couple of weeks. It was being transferred to a new provider and management. I'm back and will do my best to keep everything up to speed with what's taking place.

I would like to thank ALL of my loyal supporters in the U.S. and in the MANY different counties that have signed on to support my innocence. Thanks for all of the letters, emails, photos, etc. Like I always say, I get energy to carry on and inspiration hearing form you, please stay engaged in my struggle.

As of this moment, nothing has changed, but – the continued delay tactics are constantly being used by my prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General William Stoycos. With the mounting of evidence that supports my innocence and police and prosecution misconduct claims that is steadily piling up, you would think that I would be having a couple of evidentiary hearings on my actual innocence appeal that have been pending since August 5, 2013.

At the time of this writing, I've been moved from SCI-Mahanoy to Dauphin County Prison and locked down for 23 hours and 40 minutes a day. In the 20 minutes I get to come out, I get to take a shower and make a short call. Prosecutor Stoycos had me moved so I can be a witness in his attempt to have my codefendant Corey Walker's attorney removed from representing him. How dare he call into question an attorney who is seeking justice for her client, when prosecutor Stoycos himself violated multiple constitutional rights of mine and Mr. Walker, that led to us being in prison for 20 years and counting.

Prosecutor Stoycos is continuously abusing his power and his endless resources he has at his disposal. He is not tough on crime, he's tough on Innocent Prisoners. Prosecutor Stoycos is doing everything in his power to prevent justice from taking place. I encourage everyone to continue to speak out against my nightmare, invite others to get involved by going to my website and signing my Freedom Petition and whatever else they're willing to do.

On a positive note, I just enrolled in warehouse management trade and started on July 13th. Unfortunately, you're only allowed to miss a couple of days and Prosecutor Stoycos had me temporarily transferred on July 14th … It's extremely hard on Lifers to get into these trades due to the fact that Lifers are placed at the back of the list of ALL vocational classes. I try to further my education every chance I get, so when I do come home, I will be certified in different work.

The month of the hearing has come and left, without me being brought to the courthouse … I'm one of MANY innocent prisoners who endures this non-stop madness in our pursuit of Justice and Freedom. Now that my webpage is almost caught up to speed, I promise prompt updates and as everyone knows that contacted me directly, I personally reply to those in the states and out of the country. For those who can make a financial contribution, everything counts. Take care and let's continue to fight until we achieve Freedom, Justice, and Equality for all innocent prisoners.

"The Pain Within"

Free the Innocent
Lorenzo "Cat" Johnson

[Note: Lorenzo has since been transferred back to SCI Mahanoy and can be reached at his usual address.]

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

Write: Lorenzo Johnson
            DF 1036
            SCI Mahanoy
            301 Morea Rd.
            Frackville, PA 17932

 Email: Through JPay using the code:
              Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC
              Directly at

Have a wonderful day!
- The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson


Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser

On December 15, 2014 the Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan was thrown into prison for 2.5 to 10 years. This 66-year-old leading African American activist was tried and convicted in front of an all-white jury and racist white judge and prosecutor for supposedly altering 5 dates on a recall petition against the mayor of Benton Harbor.

The prosecutor, with the judge's approval, repeatedly told the jury "you don't need evidence to convict Mr. Pinkney." And ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE WAS EVER PRESENTED THAT TIED REV. PINKNEY TO THE 'ALTERED' PETITIONS. Rev. Pinkney was immediately led away in handcuffs and thrown into Jackson Prison.

This is an outrageous charge. It is an outrageous conviction. It is an even more outrageous sentence! It must be appealed.

With your help supporters need to raise $20,000 for Rev. Pinkney's appeal.

Checks can be made out to BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization). This is the organization founded by Rev. Pinkney.  Mail them to: Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022.

Donations can be accepted on-line at – press the donate button.

For information on the decade long campaign to destroy Rev. Pinkney go to and "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:

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




New Action--write letters to DoD officials requesting clemency for Chelsea!

Secretary of the Army John McHugh

President Obama has delegated review of Chelsea Manning's clemency appeal to individuals within the Department of Defense.

Please write them to express your support for heroic WikiLeaks' whistle-blower former US Army intelligence analyst PFC Chelsea Manning's release from military prison.

It is important that each of these authorities realize the wide support that Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning enjoys worldwide. They need to be reminded that millions understand that Manning is a political prisoner, imprisoned for following her conscience. While it is highly unlikely that any of these individuals would independently move to release Manning, a reduction in Manning's outrageous 35-year prison sentence is a possibility at this stage.

Take action TODAY – Write letters supporting Chelsea's clemency petition to the following DoD authorities:

Secretary of the Army John McHugh

101 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0101

The Judge Advocate General

2200 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-2200

Army Clemency and Parole Board

251 18th St, Suite 385

Arlington, VA 22202-3532

Directorate of Inmate Administration

Attn: Boards Branch

U.S. Disciplinary Barracks

1301 N. Warehouse Road

Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304

Suggestions for letters send to DoD officials:

The letter should focus on your support for Chelsea Manning, and especially why you believe justice will be served if Chelsea Manning's sentence is reduced.  The letter should NOT be anti-military as this will be unlikely to help.

A suggested message: "Chelsea Manning has been punished enough for violating military regulations in the course of being true to her conscience.  I urge you to use your authorityto reduce Pvt. Manning's sentence to time served."  Beyond that general message, feel free to personalize the details as to why you believe Chelsea deserves clemency.

Consider composing your letter on personalized letterhead -you can create this yourself (here are templates and some tips for doing that).

A comment on this post will NOT be seen by DoD authorities–please send your letters to the addresses above

This clemency petition is separate from Chelsea Manning's upcoming appeal before the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals next year, where Manning's new attorney Nancy Hollander will have an opportunity to highlight the prosecution's—and the trial judge's—misconduct during last year's trial at Ft. Meade, Maryland.

Help us continue to cover 100% of Chelsea's legal fees at this critical stage!

Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave. #41
Oakland, CA 94610











1) Teamsters’ Pension Fund Warns 400,000 of Cuts



2) Palestinian Protests Turn Up Intensity and Draw a Diverse Crowd



3) Death Toll in Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital May Rise, Group Says
"He said that when President Obama called the international president of Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Joanne Liu, on Wednesday to apologize for the airstrike, she asked him to support an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission. The commission, founded in 1991 but never activated, would need permission from the United States and Afghanistan to conduct an investigation."



4) Walter Scott Family Reaches a $6.5 Million Settlement for South Carolina Police Shooting Case



5) Flint Will Return to Using Detroit’s Water After Findings of Lead in Local Supply



6) Gun Deaths Are Mostly Suicides



7) A Student Loan System Stacked Against the Borrower

“It feels like I’m being set up to fail.”

That’s how Patrick Wittwer, 31, described his experience trying to repay his roughly $50,000 in student loans. Between misdirected payments by one of the companies servicing his loan and the abusive collection tactics he encountered when he fell behind, Mr. Wittwer said the repayment process simply seemed stacked against him.

A 2008 graduate of Temple University with a degree in media arts, Mr. Wittwer is not alone in his experience. Consumer advocates say student-loan servicers often make an already heavy debt load even more burdensome for borrowers.

A report issued late last month by the Consumer Financial Protection Board supports this view. Even though the economy and labor market have improved, student loan borrowers are experiencing high distress levels compared with borrowers with other types of consumer debt, the government report found. More than one in four student loan borrowers are delinquent or in default on their obligations.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, we learned repeatedly about dubious practices among mortgage servicing companies that made it harder for homeowners trying to repay or renegotiate their loans. Now, similar horror stories are emerging about the companies servicing student loans.

Some 41 million Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. The median debt burden among borrowers was $20,000 in 2014, up from $13,000 in 2007.

Companies servicing these loans manage borrowers’ accounts, process their payments and enroll them in alternative repayment plans, including those based on a fixed share of the borrowers’ income. Among the biggest companies are Navient, Great Lakes and Discover Bank.

The Education Department has contracts with 11 loan servicers. But with no federal standards governing these activities, student-loan servicers have great leeway in their practices. Making matters worse, borrowers are not allowed to choose their servicers, so if they encounter problems, they cannot take their business elsewhere.

“Good loan servicing is expensive,” Maura Dundon, senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, said in a recent interview. “It requires reaching out and talking to people, and servicers don’t do it because they don’t get compensated for that. This is the fault of servicers, but it’s also the fault of the Department of Education for not writing this into their contracts.”

Denise Horn, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, said the agency continues to strengthen the federal direct loan program “to ensure all students and families receive the highest quality support from their federal loan servicers.” She added: “Everyone needs to do more to protect student loan borrowers — including servicers — and we’ll continue to take steps to strengthen the program and enhance oversight.”

A recent questionnaire by Young Invincibles, a nonprofit advocacy group that focuses on improving financial literacy among young adults, points to some of the weaknesses in student loan servicing.

One common borrower complaint among the roughly 1,200 people who responded to the survey was that servicers simply fail to follow instructions. Borrowers hoping to reduce both the cost and the length of their repayment period, for example, often ask servicers to steer payments toward higher-cost loans first. In a number of cases, recipients said, the companies ignored these requests.

“For servicers to ignore or do the opposite thing that a borrower would request is indicative of something very negative going on in the industry,” said Jennifer Wang, policy director at Young Invincibles.

Improper levying of late fees was another practice cited by those shouldering student loans. So were losing paperwork and making repeated requests for documentation.

Perhaps the biggest problem cited by borrowers and their advocates was the failure of student loan servicers to advise their customers of the full array of repayment plans available to them. In many cases, this means borrowers do not know they are eligible for loan relief and do not receive it.

Such relief includes repayment plans for federal loans based on a borrower’s income and family size, or debt forgiveness programs for borrowers who work in public service. Military service members also have a right to a lower interest rate while they are on active duty.

But many eligible borrowers don’t hear about these options, advocates say. An August report from the Government Accountability Office estimated that 51 percent of student loan borrowers nationwide are eligible for income-based repayment plans, but only 15 percent are enrolled.

Rather than offer one of these programs, servicers often suggest loan forbearance, in which the borrower stops making payments temporarily. But because interest keeps piling up on the loan during the forbearance period, this is an expensive alternative. And some private student loan servicers charge a $150 fee to put an account into forbearance.

Servicers say the complexity of federal student loan arrangements creates problems both for their workers who must try to explain these deals and for borrowers who need to understand them.

But servicers receive $600 million a year for their work, and explaining loan terms is surely one of the jobs they are being paid to perform. “For a servicer to see a student loan borrower struggle and not help them get into the right repayment plan is a huge customer service failure,” Ms. Wang said.

It is also a taxpayer risk, given that such practices raise a borrower’s potential to default.

Mr. Wittwer, who lives in Philadelphia, said he had encountered difficulties with some of his loan payments even though he arranged for them to be deducted automatically from his bank account last year.

“After six or seven months, I get a late notice for my federal loans and I go in to my bank and double-check that the loan was being paid,” he said. “My loans had been transferred to another office, but the original office had kept collecting it.”

It took about a month to fix the problem, Mr. Wittwer said. “You have to be hypervigilant about it because student loans are constantly being sold and moved.”

Ms. Dundon of the Center for Responsible Lending said that the Education Department had fixed some of the problems in its servicing contracts but that financial incentives were still misaligned in certain areas. For example, service companies receive more money if the loans they oversee are being paid off, and less if borrowers stop paying. While this system encourages servicers to keep borrowers current — a good thing — it discourages them from working with borrowers who fall behind.

Mr. Wittwer said he is currently paying $756 a month on his student loans, the minimum amount. He acknowledged that he did not understand the consequences of the sky-high interest rates on his loans when he took them on. But his credit score is rising and he has a job.

The Consumer Financial Protection Board is talking about rules to standardize student loan servicing practices. In the meantime, its enforcement unit has student loan servicing companies under the microscope. It brought a case against Discover Bank last summer, saying it inflated the amounts it said borrowers owed on their loans.

Discover Bank paid $18.5 million without admitting or denying wrongdoing.

Repaying a student loan is challenging enough without servicers adding to the burden with incompetence or dubious practices. Borrowers and taxpayers deserve better.



8) Israeli Soldiers Kill 6 Palestinians in Gaza as West Bank Unrest Grows



9) Big Tobacco’s Staunch Friend in Washington: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
"...the chamber has spent more than $1.1 billion on lobbying, and last year, it had 168 lobbyists working on its behalf, many on its own staff, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. ...For tobacco companies, Mr. Donohue’s chamber has provided cover for those afraid of attracting headlines for fighting their own battles. Mr. Donohue once told Washington Monthly magazine that he wanted to give the chamber’s members 'all the deniability they need.'"



10) For Alabama’s Poor, the Budget Cuts Trickle Down, Limiting Access to Driver’s Licenses



11) Arkansas: Judge Delays Executions



12) Two Outside Reviews Say Cleveland Officer Acted Reasonably in Shooting Tamir Rice, 12



13) Israeli Retaliatory Strike in Gaza Kills Woman and Child, Palestinian Officials Say



14) Refugees, Stuck in Grinding U.S. Process, Wait and Hope



15) Million Man March, 20 Years On
By Charles M. Blow



16) Relatives of Black Man Shot by Off-Duty Officer in Texas Question Police Actions



17) Two Reviews of Tamir Rice Shooting in Cleveland Are Seen as Shielding Police


18) Income Inequality Grows With Age and Shapes Later Years














Posted by:

Reply via web post Reply to sender Reply to group Start a New Topic Messages in this topic (1)