Tuesday, April 29, 2014


No Copyright for Marx Engels Collected Works 

Petition by Ammar Aziz, Lahore, Pakistan 


It is immensely ironic that a private publishIng company is claiming the copyright of the collected works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the philosophers who wrote against the monopoly of capitalism and its origin, private property, all their lives.

Marxists Internet Archieve is an internatioanl, public archieve which gives free access to a wide range of academic and historical writings about Marxism in multiple langauges. Lawrence & Wishart is a private publishing house in Britain which claims to hold the copyright of Marx Engels Collected Works. During the last several years, the Marx Engels Collected Works have been read by the millions of people on the Marxists Internet Archeive (MIA). However, now the private publishing company, Lawrence & Wishart - which loves to position itself as a 'radical company', claiming historical links with the Britain's Communist Party - has directed MIA to delete all texts originating from Marx Engels Collected Works (MECW).

If this happens, MECW would not be accessible on the internet for free, from 30th April, 2014, and that would be a huge loss for the students and political activists who continue to utilize this free academic source.

You cannot privatize their writings -- they are the collective property of the people they wrote for. Privatization of Marx and Engels' writings is like getting a trademark for the words 'socialism' or 'communism'.

Say NO to the copyright law for the founders of scientific socialism. Let's protest against Lawrence & Wishart for this ironic monopoly.

The petition:


To: Lawrence & Wishart, 99a Wallis Road London E9 5LN
Sally Davison, Managing Editor
Lawrence & Wishar

It is a matter of a serious concern for us that you have directed the Marxists Internet Archive to delete all the writings from Marx Engels Collected Works. As an organization which has been affiliated with the Britain's Communist Party in the past and which is known for publishing progressive literature, that's low!

We urgently demand you to take back this nasty, capitalistic decision and let the collected works remain a collective source of knowledge.

No Copyright for Marx Engels Collected Works!

[Your name] 



Native American Shuts Up Anti-immigration demonstrators 





The fall of apartheid in South Africa in 1994 was a watershed victory. It culminated decades of struggle by the Black and Colored South African masses, a struggle supported by millions in the U.S. and around the world. The victory brought to power the Tripartite government of the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

Now, two decades later, the ANC-led Tripartite government represents big business's interests — especially the interests of U.S. and European-based banks and corporations. This has led the government to brutally attack workers who fight back against austerity. Indeed, in 2012, at the Marikana mine, this government massacred 34 striking miners at the behest of the mine owners.

Black poverty has worsened. Inequality has worsened. Trade union officials collaborate with employers against workers, youth, and unemployed. Does this sound familiar? Isn't the situation similar in the US, with union officials not fighting employer and government attacks on workers, like the machinists at Boeing?

But in South Africa, there's an exciting new development: for the first time since the fall of Apartheid, there's a serious challenge to the Tripartite government's rule, and it comes from the largest and most militant union in Africa. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has broken with the COSATU leadership and called for South Africans not to support the ANC in this year's elections. It is currently building a workers' party and united front to lead the struggle against the capitalist onslaught of deregulation, privatization, and strike breaking.

We are privileged to present  Brother Mphumzi Maqungo,  the national treasurer of NUMSA and past chair of NUMSA's autoworker shop steward network, to discuss these developments.

Thursday, May 1st, 7:00 p.m.
ILWU Hall, Henry Schmidt Room
400 N. Point St./Mason, San Francisco

Friday, May 2, 12 Noon at UC Berkeley, McCone Hall (Room  575)
Saturday, May 3rd, 2pm. Black Repertory Theater; 3201 Adeline,
Berkeley (one block south of Ashby BART)

For updates or to get involved in building for these events, contact the May Day Committee in Solidarity with South African Workers
at: twscltransportworkers.org. Reach us directly at  (510)325-8664  or  (415)282-1908



Please hold the date and attend…

A Celebration of Life and Struggle
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Welcome Home Lynne Stewart!
Free all political prisoners! End racist mass incarceration! Abolish the death penalty! Stop police brutality and murder!

Join Lynne Stewart and Pam Africa Sunday, May 4, 6 pm reception; 7pm rally

Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street, between Broadway and Telegraph, Oakland
Donation $10

Initial Bay Area Tour Schedule:
Friday, May 2: San Francisco, Host: National Lawyers Guild, 6 pm 518 Valencia St., SF
Saturday, May 3, Palo Alto, Host: Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, afternoon
Saturday, May 3, San Jose, Host, San Jose Peace and Justice Center & NLG South Bat, evening
Sunday, May 4, Oakland, Host: Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal & Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Monday, May 5: Marin, evening
Tuesday, May 6: Sacramento, evening

Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal & Lynne Stewart Defense Committee

510-268-9429   jmackler@lmi.net
Tour endorsers (initial list): SF Bay Area National Lawyers Guild • Middle East Children’s Alliance • United National Antiwar Coalition • Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal • World Can’t Wait • Freedom Socialist Party • Marin Peace and Justice Center • Peninsula Peace and Justice Center • Sacramento Area Peace Council • WILPF • SF Gray Panthers • Socialist Action • International Action Center • Freedom Archives

— This message sent to you by: The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal --

Lynne Stewart's release from prison was the result of great public support, an international petition campaign, and persistence by her husband. This victory for a political prisoner, as well as the release of political prisoner Marshall Eddie Conway after 44 years in prison; political prisoner Maroon Shoatz's transfer from solitary confinement to general prison population, inspires our efforts to free all political prisoners.

The exoneration of innocent death row prisoner, Glen Ford, just before the state of Louisiana was set to execute him, is another blow to the existence of the racist death penalty. And the massive hunger strikes organized by prisoners, including undocumented detainees, in California, Washington, Texas and Georgia are an example of resistance to prisoners and workers everywhere. 



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:











(Unless otherwise noted)














1) Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?

Just before 4 p.m. on Oct. 10, Steven Wise pulled his rental car in front of a multiacre compound on State Highway 30 near the tiny Adirondack hamlet of Gloversville, N.Y., and considered his next move. For the past 15 minutes, Wise had been slowly driving the perimeter of the property, trying to get a better read on the place. An assortment of transport trailers — for horses and livestock, cars, boats and snowmobiles — cluttered a front lot beside a single-story business office with the sign “Circle L Trailer Sales” set above the door. At the rear of the grounds was a barn-size, aluminum-sided shed, all its doors closed, the few small windows covered in thick plastic.

With each pass, he looked to see if anybody was on the grounds but could find no one. A number of times Wise pulled off the road and called his office to check whether he had the right place. It wasn’t until he finally spotted a distant filigree of deer antlers that he knew for certain. The owner of Circle L Trailer, Wise had read, runs a side enterprise known as Santa’s Hitching Post, which rents out a herd of reindeer for holiday events and TV spots, including commercials for Macy’s and Mercedes-Benz.

After spotting a man tightening bolts on one of the trailer hitches, Wise paused to explain his strategy to me and the documentary filmmaker Chris Hegedus, who had a video camera. “I’m just going to say that I heard their reindeer were on TV,” Wise said. “I happened to be driving by and thought I might be able to see them in person.”

The repairman told Wise that the owner wasn’t on the premises that day. Wise mustered as many reindeer questions as he could, then got to his real agenda.

“So,” he finally asked, doing his best excited-tourist voice. “Do you keep any other animals around here?”

“Yeah,” the man answered, nodding toward the aluminum-sided shed. “In there. Name’s Tommy.”

Inside the shed, the repairman inched open a small door as though to first test the mood within. A rancid milk-musk odor wafted forth and with it the sight of an adult chimpanzee, crouched inside a small steel-mesh cell. Some plastic toys and bits of soiled bedding were strewn behind him. The only visible light emanated from a small portable TV on a stand outside his bars, tuned to what appeared to be a nature show.

“It’s too bad you can’t see him when he’s out in the jungle,” the repairman said, pointing to a passageway nearby, which opened onto an enclosure that housed a playground jungle gym. “At least he gets fresh air out there.”

Tommy’s original owner, we learned, was named Dave Sabo, the one-time proprietor of a troupe of performing circus chimps. The repairman said that Sabo raised Tommy, who appears to be in his 20s, from infancy. Sabo, who had been living for a number of years in a trailer on the grounds of Circle L Trailer, recently died.

“He’s back in there now somewhere,” the repairman said, quickly tracing with his hands what seemed to be the outline of an urn of ashes. “In a room next to Tommy’s.”

On the way back out to the car, Wise paused.

“I’m not going to be able get that image out of my mind,” he said, his voice quavering. “How would you describe that cage? He’s in a dungeon, right? That’s a dungeon.”Seven weeks later, on Dec. 2, Wise, a 63-year-old legal scholar in the field of animal law, strode with his fellow lawyers, Natalie Prosin, the executive director of the Nonhuman Rights Project (Nh.R.P.), and Elizabeth Stein, a New York-based animal-law expert, into the clerk’s office of the Fulton County Courthouse in Johnstown, N.Y., 10 miles from Circle L Trailer Sales, wielding multiple copies of a legal document the likes of which had never been seen in any of the world’s courts, no less conservative Fulton County’s.

Under the partial heading “The Nonhuman Rights Project Inc. on behalf of Tommy,” the legal memo and petition included among their 106 pages a detailed account of the “petitioner’s” solitary confinement “in a small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed”; and a series of nine affidavits gathered from leading primatologists around the world, each one detailing the cognitive capabilities of a being like Tommy, thereby underscoring the physical and psychological ravages he suffers in confinement.

Along with chimps, the Nh.R.P. plans to file similar lawsuits on behalf of other members of the great ape family (bonobos, orangutans and gorillas) as well as dolphins, orcas, belugas, elephants and African gray parrots — all beings with higher-order cognitive abilities. Chimps were chosen as the first clients because of the abundance of research on their cognitive sophistication, and the fact that, at present, there are sanctuaries lined up to take in the plaintiffs should they win their freedom. (There are no such facilities for dolphins or orcas in the United States, and the two preferred sanctuaries for elephants were full.)

“Like humans,” the legal memo reads, “chimpanzees have a concept of their personal past and future . . . they suffer the pain of not being able to fulfill their needs or move around as they wish; [and] they suffer the pain of anticipating never-ending confinement.” What Tommy could never have anticipated, of course, huddled just up the road that morning in his dark, dank cell, was that he was about to make legal history: The first nonhuman primate to ever sue a human captor in an attempt to gain his own freedom.

Animals are hardly strangers to our courts, only to the brand of justice meted out there. In the opening chapters of Wise’s first book, “Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals,” published in 2000, he cites the curious and now largely forgotten history, dating at least back to the Middle Ages, of humans putting animals on trial for their perceived offenses, everything from murderous pigs, to grain-filching rats and insects, to flocks of sparrows disrupting church services with their chirping. Such proceedings — often elaborate, drawn-out courtroom dramas in which the defendants were ostensibly accorded the same legal rights as humans, right down to being appointed the best available lawyers — were essentially allegorical rituals, a means of expunging evil and restoring some sense of order to a random and disorderly world.

Among the most common nonhuman defendants cited by the British historian E. P. Evans in his 1906 book, “The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals,” were pigs. Allowed to freely roam the narrow, winding streets of medieval villages, pigs and sows sometimes maimed and killed infants and young children. The “guilty” party would regularly be brought before a magistrate to be tried and sentenced and then publicly tortured and executed in the town square, often while being hung upside down, because, as Wise explains it in “Rattling the Cage,” “a beast . . . who killed a human reversed the ordained hierarchy. . . . Inversion set the world right again.”

The practice of enlisting animals as unwitting courtroom actors in order to reinforce our own sense of justice is not as outmoded as you might think. As recently as 1906, the year Evans’s book appeared, a father-son criminal team and the attack dog they trained to be their accomplice were prosecuted in Switzerland for robbery and murder. In a trial reported in L'Écho de Paris and The New York Herald, the two men were found guilty and received life in prison. The dog — without whom, the court determined, the crime couldn’t have been committed — was condemned to death.

It has been only in the last 30 years or so that a distinct field of animal law — that is laws and legal theory expressly for and about nonhuman animals — has emerged. When Wise taught his first animal-law class in 1990 at Vermont Law School, he knew of only two others of its kind in the country. Today there are well over a hundred. Yet while animal-welfare laws and endangered-species statutes now abound, the primary thrust of such legislation remains the regulation of our various uses and abuses of animals, including food production, medical research, entertainment and private ownership. The fundamental legal status of nonhumans, however, as things, as property, with no rights of their own, has remained unchanged.

Wise has devoted himself to subverting that hierarchy by moving the animal from the defendant’s table to the plaintiff’s. Not in order to cast cognitively advanced beings like Tommy in a human light, but rather to ask a judge to recognize them as individuals in and of themselves: Beings entitled to something that, without us, no wild animal would ever require — the fundamental right, at least, not to be wrongfully imprisoned.

Tracking down captive backyard chimps as clients is not the sort of career Wise imagined for himself. But then neither was law. A self-described apolitical lead singer in a rock band who thought he would have a career in music, Wise’s increasing involvement in the anti-Vietnam War movement while at the College of William and Mary began to stoke a growing interest in social activism.

Over lunch in Manhattan one afternoon a few weeks after finding Tommy, Wise told me he thought that he was going to be a doctor, but he didn’t get into medical school. He ended up working as a lab technician in Boston, all the while continuing his antiwar activities. “Then one day, I thought to myself, You know, I think I want to be a lawyer,” he said. “I had become really interested in issues of social justice.”

Several years after graduating from Boston University School of Law, he sat down with a copy of Peter Singer’s seminal work, “Animal Liberation,” and got the “jolt” that has directed his passions ever since. “It was a total epiphany,” he recalled. “I just had never thought about what was going on out there with our treatment of animals. First, I became a vegetarian. Then I thought to myself, Well, if I’m interested in social justice, I can’t imagine beings who are being more brutalized than nonhuman animals. People could do whatever they wanted with them and were doing whatever they wanted with them. Nonhuman animals had no rights at all. I couldn’t think of any other place where my participation could do more good. I suddenly realized this is why I became a lawyer.”

He dedicated himself to getting a better sense of the general arc over the course of history of human thinking about animals. From Aristotle’s Great Chain of Being that ranked animals, because they lacked reason, below man; to René Descartes’s view of animals as complex but soulless automatons; to Immanuel Kant’s argument against cruelty to animals, not because of any specific obligation to them but because such cruelty had an adverse effect on human relations; to the assertion by the 19th-century British philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham that the only arbiter of how we treat animals “is not ‘can they reason?’ nor ‘can they talk?’ but ‘can they suffer?’ ” a view that would profoundly influence the work of modern-day animal rights thinkers like Peter Singer.

In 1991, Wise filed an early animal rights lawsuit that both underscored the difficulty of the challenge he would be facing and helped him hone his legal strategy. The case, filed in the United States District Court of Massachusetts against the New England Aquarium, was on behalf of Kama, a 6-year-old dolphin, and several animal rights groups that objected to the aquarium’s transfer of Kama to the Navy for training at the Naval Ocean Systems Center in Hawaii, a violation, the suit claimed, of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The judge immediately dismissed Kama’s part of the suit due to insufficient “standing”: the legal requirement that a plaintiff personally speak to the injury that has been done to him or her by the defendant and then show that such harm can be properly redressed by the court — a requirement that Kama, of course, could never have met.

A nonhuman is, in fact, so invisible in a court of law that the only way such a creature can seek redress is if the human plaintiffs representing that animal can prove that the injury done to it has in some way injured them. After several days of deliberation, the judge ultimately decided that the humans, too, had failed to adequately prove injury and threw out their part of the suit on the basis of standing as well.

“The lawyer for the aquarium was so outraged,” Wise said. “He kept saying, ‘Judge, our own dolphin is suing us!’ And I understand that outrage. He felt: ‘We own this. This is completely ours, and what is ours is now claiming we can’t do something to it?’ But what these cases made me realize is that the issue wasn’t really about standing at all. What lawyers and judges had been calling an ‘animal-standing problem’ was really a ‘not-being-a-legal-person problem.’ We could show the animals had been injured, that the defendants were responsible and that the judge could remedy it. But because animals are not legal persons, they don’t even have the capacity to sue in the first place. They’re totally invisible. I knew if I was going to begin breaking down the wall that divides human and nonhumans, I first had to find a way around this issue of personhood.”

A few years later, while continuing to lecture in animal jurisprudence to law students, Wise revisited the famous case of Somerset v. Stewart. In 1772, the chief justice of the English Court of King’s Bench, Lord Mansfield, issued a writ of habeas corpus — a court order requiring that a prisoner be brought before a judge by his or her captor in order to rule on the legality of that prisoner’s detainment — on behalf of a slave named James Somerset, a being as invisible then to the law as any nonhuman. Mansfield ultimately decided to free Somerset from his Scottish-American owner, Charles Stewart — a landmark decision that would drive one of the first wedges into the wall then dividing black and white human beings from one another.

The Somerset case soon had Wise exploring other habeas corpus cases. He noted that many of them were filed on behalf of those unable to personally appear in court: prisoners, for example, or children, or mentally incapacitated adults. Habeas corpus cases, Wise realized, have the most relaxed standing requirements, precisely because the circumstances necessitate that a proxy like Wise plead the plaintiff’s case.

As Wise started to formulate it further, he saw habeas corpus as a form of redress for the denial of a “legal person’s” right to bodily liberty, not necessarily a “human being’s.” At lunch, he outlined a broad spectrum of cases in which nonhumans have been held to be legal persons, like ships, corporations, partnerships and states. He invoked cases in India in which the holy book of the Sikhs was deemed a legal person, as well as Hindu idols. He spoke of a dispute between the Crown of New Zealand and the Maori tribe in which a river was held to be a legal person.

“A legal person is not synonymous with a human being,” he told me. “A legal person is an entity that the legal system considers important enough so that it is visible and [has] interests” and also “certain kinds of rights. I often ask my students: ‘You tell me, why should a human have fundamental rights?’ There’s not a single person on earth I’ve ever put that question to who can answer that without referring to certain qualities that a human has.”

In his animal-law classes, Wise told me, he has his students consider the actual case of a 4-month-old anencephalic baby — that is, a child born without a complete brain. Her brain stem allows her to breathe and digest, but she has no consciousness or sentience. No feelings or awareness whatsoever. He asks the class why we can’t do anything we want with such a child, even eat her.

“We’re all instantly repelled by that, of course,” Wise said. When he asked his students that question, they “get all tied up in knots and say things like ‘because she has a soul’ or ‘all life is sacred.’ I say: ‘I’m sorry, we’re not talking about any characteristics here. It’s that she has the form of a human being.’ Now I’m not saying that a court or legislature can’t say that just having a human form is in and of itself a sufficient condition for rights. I’m simply saying that it’s irrational. . . . Why is a human individual with no cognitive abilities whatsoever a legal person with rights, while cognitively complex beings such as Tommy, or a dolphin, or an orca are things with no rights at all?”

The other advantage of habeas corpus cases, Wise said he realized, is they allow him to circumvent federal courts, where judges tend to rule in accordance with what they perceive to be the original intentions of pre-existing statutes and laws. State courts, by contrast, where almost all habeas corpus cases are heard, are the home of common law — what Wise often characterizes as a breeding ground of ever-evolving laws where for the past 800 years judges have been making decisions based more on the available evidence and on broader principles like equality and liberty and what is morally right. The common law is the realm in which Wise feels he has the best chance to succeed. “I have to present an argument that a judge can grasp quickly. I have to go bang, bang, bang, detailing the distinct qualities of my clients. We’re definitely asking a judge to make a leap of faith here; what some might see as a quantum leap. My job is to make it seem as small as possible.”

No recent case better underscores the unique nature of Wise’s present endeavor than the one that seemed, at first, to most resemble it. In October 2011, despite Wise’s objections, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of five orcas at SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld Orlando, accusing the theme park of violating the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. The suit was dismissed by Judge Jeffrey Miller of the U.S. District Court for Southern California, who wrote in his ruling that “the only reasonable interpretation of the 13th Amendment’s plain language is that it applies to persons, and not to nonpersons such as orcas.”

Wise was furious over what he considered the grossly premature timing of PETA’s case. After the judge’s decision, Wise called a PETA lawyer to “share his thoughts” with him. Natalie Prosin was on that call too. “She really let me have it afterward,” Wise said. “She said, ‘You acted like you were the professor and he was your student, lecturing him for over 30 minutes on why his case was so bad.’ I said: ‘I know. And frankly 30 minutes wasn’t nearly enough.’ It was idiotic to invoke the Constitution the first time around. You know maybe in 50 years, after you’ve already laid a foundation of courts recognizing that nonhuman animals could be considered legal persons under the common law. That’s precisely why we’re avoiding the federal courts.”

As hasty an overreach as Wise thought PETA’s legal gambit to be, the Nh.R.P.'s has been plodding and precise. As many as 70 volunteers have been working over the past four years on different facets of his legal offensive. Perhaps the most important is the Nh.R.P.'s Science Working Group, which collaborates with Dr. Lori Marino, an Emory University specialist in the cetacean brain and the evolution of animal intelligence. This group is assigned the task of gathering available research and expert testimony on the cognitive abilities of the plaintiffs that the Nh.R.P. plans to represent.

As recently as 10 years ago Wise’s effort would have been laughed out of a courtroom. What has made his efforts viable now, however, is in part the advanced neurological and genetic research, which has shown that animals like chimpanzees, orcas and elephants possess self-awareness, self-determination and a sense of both the past and future. They have their own distinct languages, complex social interactions and tool use. They grieve and empathize and pass knowledge from one generation to the next. The very same attributes, in other words, that we once believed distinguished us from other animals. Wise intends to wield this evidence in mounting the case that his clients are “autonomous beings,” ones who are able, as Wise defines that term, “to freely choose, to self-determine, to make their own decisions without acting from reflex or innate behavior.” He sees these abilities as the minimum sufficient requirement for legal personhood.

Another element of the Nh.R.P.'s strategy is the Legal Working Group, which selects optimal jurisdictions for their lawyers and then finds potential clients there, a reversal of the typical process in which a lawyer has a client and then argues their case in whatever jurisdiction that client happens to live. For the first set of cases, the 20 or so members of the Legal Working Group scoured the records on the habeas corpus rulings of all 50 states and composed memos, each at least 15 pages, before finally settling on New York, where seven privately owned chimps were being held throughout the state.

Wise, Prosin, Stein and Monica Miller, another lawyer, filed habeas corpus petitions on behalf of four of the chimps (the three others died before the Nh.R.P. could do so). The day after Tommy’s case was presented, the lawyers were in Niagara Falls, N.Y., filing on behalf of a chimp there named Kiko. Two days after that, they traveled to Riverhead, N.Y., on Long Island, to file a third suit in the name of Leo and Hercules, two chimps being kept at Stony Brook University for studies on human locomotion.

In addition, the Nh.R.P.'s Sociological Working Group has been collecting whatever information it can on the judges within a prospective jurisdiction, everything from their sex, age and political party to their leisure activities and whether or not they own pets. It’s all by way of getting the best sense of the kind of judge the plaintiffs might be facing.

The hope is that they will get what Wise calls a “substantive-principles judge,” one not as bound by precedent, who makes what he or she believes is a just decision, regardless of what ramifications the decision may have. A judge like Lord Mansfield, who before setting the slave James Somerset free, said, “Fiat justicia, ruat coelumtet” (“Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall”).

“I’m looking for a Lord Mansfield,” Wise told me, “but as I often tell my students, be careful what you wish for. You may get a principles judge, and it turns out that the principles the judge holds are the ones that make him say: ‘You lose. I don’t agree with your principles. I agree with the principle that God created humans, and we all have souls, and we’re special, and nonhuman animals do not and so aren’t.’ And in that case you’ve just shot yourself in the head.”

Of course, a number of people both in the legal world and beyond find the very premise of seeking legal personhood for animals an oxymoron. There are, they assert, already ample protections available under current animal-welfare laws, on both the federal and state levels, without having to go down the practically and philosophically fraught path of extending a human right to a nonhuman.

Richard Epstein, a New York University law professor, is an outspoken critic of Wise and of the notion of extending rights to animals. He bridles at what he sees as the potential practical consequences of such an outcome, a slippery-slope effect that would eventually abolish long-established institutions like the agriculture-and-food-production industry. “[T]here would be nothing left of human society,” Epstein once asserted in a 1999 essay, “The Next Rights Revolution?” “if we treated animals not as property but as independent holders of rights.” He also considers Wise’s legal approach to be “completely misguided.”

“Steven is extremely ingenious,” Epstein told me in his N.Y.U. office in January. “I don’t think he’s a great intellect. He’s a man of tremendous persistence. He just doesn’t think there is any serious argument that can be made on the other side. It’s like watching someone with tunnel vision. . . . My attitude is this: There are two ways to think about it. He thinks of it as rights. I think about it as protection. You can guarantee the things he’s seeking through animal-protection legislation without calling them rights. I mean, you may want to enforce the laws better. I just think the argument of making animals into sort of human beings is what’s crazy.”

But Wise contends that present forms of protection are effectively unenforceable in a case like Tommy’s, primarily because under current animal-welfare laws on both the state and federal levels, it isn’t illegal to keep a chimp in a cage, Tommy’s present owner, Pat Lavery, has said that Tommy’s cage is legal and inspected annually. In those cases in which cages do not meet proper standards, animals are rarely taken from their owners because they’re still considered private property.

Ultimately, Wise is not interested in trying to distinguish between bad and better forms of captivity. What he is trying to provoke is a paradigm shift in how we think of our relationship to animals. “One day we’ll be filing a suit on behalf of SeaWorld orcas,” Wise said, “these amazingly intelligent and social animals who were captured from the ocean and are now being kept in a tiny pool, and yet obviously it’s not illegal. SeaWorld is making tens of millions of dollars a year. No one is suggesting they be charged with cruelty to animals, and nobody has any ideas about how to get those orcas out. It’s the same thing with chimpanzees. So the reason we chose habeas corpus over other causes of action is that it’s the only possible remedy.”

Even some in the animal rights community have criticized Wise for the anthropocentrism of stressing his clients’ similarity to us rather than that basic Benthamic barometer of “can they suffer?” For Wise, though, “can they suffer?” is still the defining arbiter. It’s simply one that has been lent a whole new meaning and level of urgency by something obviously unavailable to a 19th-century British philosopher: the ever-growing body of scientific evidence pushing us into the increasingly discomfiting corner of knowing that, in the end, it isn’t really his clients’ likeness to us but their distinctly different and yet compellingly parallel complexity that now may command not just a philosophical regard but a legal one as well.

At just past 2 p.m. on Dec. 2, Nh.R.P.'s legal team of Wise, Prosin and Stein sat at the plaintiff’s table in the main courtroom of the Montgomery County courthouse in Fonda, N.Y., nervously awaiting the entrance of Justice Joseph M. Sise.

Wise had told me what he could expect from a decision made in a lower court like this one. “At this level,” he said, “it’s not going to be an emotional decision, but a very practical, serious one. The judge is going to want to rule in a way in which he feels reasonably supported by the existing laws. He doesn’t want to look like an idiot. But if he’s willing to hear the case, or even write a decision on it, as long as his rejection goes on the record, we can go to the Court of Appeals. That’s where you can argue with more emotion and where most common law gets made anyway.”

On the drive from Johnstown to the courthouse, Prosin was on her phone, trying to get information on Sise, a justice on the State Supreme Court. “Brother was a judge,” Prosin muttered. “Father a judge. He’s young. Graduated law school 1988. Conservative Republican.” There was, however, little clear indication of whether he might be a Lord Mansfield.

Now in the courtroom, a voice called, “All rise.” Through a sudden opening in the room’s oak paneling, Sise, a tall, lean, dark-haired man in his early 50s, emerged and strode swiftly to his seat at the bench. Wise listened, rapt as Sise spoke the words he had been waiting his entire career to hear in court: “This is in the matter of . . . an application . . . seeking a writ of habeas corpus for a nonhuman.”When Sise asked Wise why Article 70 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules — New York State’s habeas corpus provision — “should be enlarged to include an animal, a chimpanzee,” the typically voluble Wise struggled to speak. You could almost hear the gears of his brain snagging, the various lines of argument that he had been planning and honing over the years for this very moment, getting all bound up now into one hopeless snarl.

“I couldn’t believe I was finally about to argue this case before a judge,” he told me later. “I really got choked up for a moment.”

The hearing took no more than 20 minutes. The justice interrupted often at the start, pre-empting Wise’s attempts at building an argument, knocking him back on his heels with repeated questions about why Article 70 was the only form of redress in this instance.

“Isn’t there a different way,” Sise asked at one point, “for you to petition the court for . . . relief other than attempting to have the Supreme Court . . . enlarge the definition of ‘human-being’ under Article 70 to include an animal?”

“We are most definitely not asking the court to redefine the term ‘human being,’ ” Wise boomed, his heart at last having loosened its grasp on his throat. “We brought a writ of habeas corpus because [it] is aimed at the denial of a legal person’s, not necessarily a human being’s, but a legal person’s right to bodily liberty.”

Wise next began to make his case for why all chimps in New York should be declared legal persons, arguing that they are fully autonomous beings. “Says who?” Sise asked. “And . . . I’m asking the question because that’s beyond your ken and beyond my ken. It’s beyond the ken of the normal fact-finder. You’re stating something that only expert testimony could supply.”

Wise quickly cited the affidavits from the world’s leading primatologists. The previously curt and pre-emptive Sise fell silent, leaning in, his head nodding slightly.

“So what is it that you’re asking the court to do in terms of Article 70, make an exception for chimpanzees only?” Sise asked. “You understand the question, right? The legal conundrum the court is in based upon your argument?”

“We are, in a specific, legal way . . . simply asking that you issue the writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Tommy,” Wise began calmly. “We are saying the reason that this court should do that is Tommy, as these experts pointed out, is autonomous. . . . Being a member of the species homosapiens is indeed a sufficient condition for personhood, but there are other sufficient conditions for personhood, as well. . . . Autonomy is an extraordinarily important attribute, and we argue . . . that a being who is autonomous, who can choose, who is self-aware, these, your honor, are essentially us.”

“All right,” Sise said. “What else? Anything else?”

Wise appeared spent. “No, your honor.”

The justice sat back in his chair. “Your impassioned representations to the court are quite impressive,” he said. “The court will not entertain the application, will not recognize a chimpanzee as a human or as a person . . . who can seek a writ of habeas corpus under Article 70. I will be available as the judge for any other lawsuit to right any wrongs that are done to this chimpanzee, because I understand what you’re saying. You make a very strong argument. However, I do not agree with the argument only insofar as Article 70 applies to chimpanzees. Good luck with your venture. I’m sorry I can’t sign the order, but I hope you continue. As an animal lover, I appreciate your work.”

I managed to get hold of Sise on the phone a few weeks later and asked him about his ruling. “I thought they should have an opportunity to make their argument as to why Article 70 should be enlarged to include nonhumans,” Sise said. “Ultimately, I felt that they had the right to make a record so that they could appeal. I thought, Here’s this group of lawyers, living and dying this, they deserve due process, and they deserve to be told just how impressed at least I was by the effort they’re making on behalf of animals.”

I said that I imagined it wasn’t the sort of case that came across his desk very often.

“Obviously not,” he said, laughing. “But in terms of the legal questions before the court, it was very similar to many applications we have: Whether or not a petition has been rightfully filed under an article and whether that article applies. So the legal analysis was not novel, although the facts certainly were.”

The Nh.R.P. ended up losing their other two New York cases as well, with the judges arguing that the petitioners had other remedies they could seek through existing animal-protection laws. But before Justice Ralph A. Boniello III, of the State Supreme Court for the County of Niagara, rendered his decision, Wise was given full leave to air for the record his petition on behalf of Kiko. The justice called the argument “excellent” but concluded that he was “not prepared to make this leap of faith.”

On balance, Wise and his colleagues emerged from their first round of suits ecstatic. They had all they needed to take the cases to the appellate level to keep making their argument.

In February, the Nh.R.P. lawyers were in New York City for a weekend-long meeting to refine their pending appeals for later this year and to decide on the next roster of plaintiffs. In a couple of weeks Wise would be back on the road, reviewing new prospects: mostly chimps and a few circus elephants. For the latter, Wise told me, the California-based animal-protection organization PAWS is willing to provide sanctuary on a case-by-case basis.

Over dinner one night, I asked Wise about the oft-stated position that there are already ample forms of redress for the likes of Tommy. Did he ever feel that gaining legal rights for such creatures is really a symbolic gesture? As Richard Epstein put it in his N.Y.U. office, “He’s just sticking his fingers in your eyes.”

“In whose eyes?” Wise said, smiling. “In the world’s eye? For what purpose? Look, he’s a law professor. He doesn’t practice law. If he does, it isn’t this kind of law. It’s hardly symbolic for the animals.”I reminded Wise at one point that he, the crusader against speciesism and ordained hierarchies, has been accused of erecting a speciesist hierarchy of his own by singling out only certain sufficiently sophisticated animals to represent in court. I asked him, for example, if he would also consider filing a suit on behalf of a captive vervet monkey or a tortoise or a rat.

“I don’t know the answer to the question,” he responded. “The reason I do know the answer for the animals we are currently choosing to represent is we’ve spent years trying to understand what their cognitive capabilities are. But we feel very comfortable in saying that for any nonhuman animal who is autonomous, whatever species they may be, then we will go into court and make the argument that they have a sufficient condition for rights. We’ve never claimed it’s a necessary condition, and as the public debate evolves, people may be making other arguments based on other factors. I mean, how autonomous do you have to be anyway? Look at human beings. We all have rights, and we range from drooling, nonautonomous people to people who are extraordinarily autonomous, like Richard Epstein.”

Wise told me he was well aware of the fact that for creatures like Tommy, a victory in court could only result in transfer to a kinder type of captivity. The larger significance of winning for Wise, however, is the clear message it sends about the wrongfulness of holding captive a chimp or a circus elephant or a SeaWorld orca in the first place.

In a 2001 debate with Peter Singer, Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit — who has debated Wise as well — argued that only facts will lead to according animals rights, not intuitions. “Much is lost,” Posner stated at one point, “when . . . intuition is made a stage in a logical argument.”

And yet in that same debate, Posner stated that the special status we humans accord ourselves is based not on tests or statistics but on “a moral intuition deeper than any reason that could be given for it and impervious to any reason that you or anyone could give against it.” That inherent irrationality at the heart of humanity’s sense of exceptionalism is what most worries Wise.

“It’s those deeply held beliefs that I’m concerned about,” he told me. “The judge who either doesn’t recognize that he’s ruling against us on those grounds, or who does, and decides that way anyway. Our challenge is to lay bare that bias against our facts. I will say: ‘Judge, you know, we’ve been here before. We’ve had people who’ve essentially said, “I’m sorry, but you’re black.” Or “I’m sorry, you’re not a male or a heterosexual.” And this has led us to some very bad places.’ ”

Much like other civil rights movements, the Nh.R.P.'s efforts are designed to be a systematic assault; a continued and repeated airing of the evidence now at hand so that other lawyers and eventually judges and society as a whole can move past what Wise considers the increasingly arbitrary distinction of species as the determinant of who should hold a right.

Wise said he doesn’t expect to win in the first round of suits, and neither does he in the fifth or the 20th. “For me this has been a 25-year plan. All my books and my courses were designed to help me think through this problem. Now I want to spend the rest of my life litigating. If we lose, we keep doing it again and again, until we find a judge who doesn’t feel that the way is closed off. Then our job is to produce the facts that will allow that judge to make that leap of faith. And when it happens, it will be huge. I wouldn’t be spending my life on this otherwise.”

Charles Siebert is a contributing writer and the author, most recently, of “Rough Beasts: The Zanesville Massacre, One Year Later.”



2) Study Finds Less Green in the Congo Rain Forest



3) Albuquerque Police Yet to Find Video of Shooting



4) Kansas: Manning Wins Right to Change Name



5) Seattle Mayor Says Effort to Build Agreement on $15 Minimum Wage Has Faltered



6) Oklahoma: Execution Set for Inmates in Drug Appeal



7) Why the Housing Market Is Still Stalling the Economy
By Neil Irwin


8) How a Gulf Settlement That BP Once Hailed Became Its Target


9) Afghan Panel Claims to Find Secret Prisons



10) Smartphones and the 4th Amendment



11) Egypt Sentences Top Islamist and Over 680 Others to Death



12) U.S. and Philippines Agree to a 10-Year Pact on the Use of Military Bases



13) Forced to Flee Radiation, Fearful Japanese Villagers Are Reluctant to Return


14) Recovery Has Created Far More Low-Wage Jobs Than Better-Paid Ones
"In essence, the poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones."



15) NAACP in Bed with Racist Donald Sterling
Common Dreams 
April 29, 2014
In an excruciating example of bad timing, the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP was scheduled to bestow its Lifetime Achievement Award to Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, at its May 15 banquet. Sterling is now under fire for racist comments caught on a recording that surfaced on the TMZ website. Even President Barack Obama weighed in, condemning Sterling’s remarks as “incredibly offensive.” The NBA is now investigating Sterling’s remarks and could invoke sanctions, including removing him as Clippers’ owner.

Embarrassed by the controversy, the NAACP announced Sunday morning, via Twitter, that is was withdrawing the award, which was to be presented at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles as part of the celebration of the chapter’s 100th anniversary. The NAACP also plans to honor Rev. Al Sharpton and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti—as well as Walmart’s local charity and political operative and a top Fed Ex executive—at the gala event.

Of course, when the NAACP decided to honor Sterling, it could not have predicted that the billionaire would be the center of a controversy about his racist remarks. The entire news media has been focusing on Sterling’s angry comments to his girlfriend, who apparently taped their April 9 phone conversation in which the Clippers owner admonished her for posting photos of her with Black people, including Magic Johnson, the former LA Lakers star and now LA Dodgers co-owner. “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with Black people. Do you have to?” Sterling allegedly said. He also told her: “You can sleep with them. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”

Yes, there’s no way that the NAACP could have known that Sterling would be caught making those comments. But there’s also no way that the NAACP could not have known that Sterling has a long history of racist comments and racial discrimination in his rental properties.

Indeed, the NAACP seems to suffer from amnesia. Almost exactly five years ago, a similar controversy arose when the civil rights group honored Sterling with the same award! At the time, Elgin Baylor, who served as the Clippers general manager from 1986 to 2008, had just filed an age and racial discrimination suit against Sterling. According to Baylor, Sterling had a “Southern plantation” view, preferring to field a team of “poor Black boys from the South … playing for a white coach.”

Despite the controversy, the NAACP proceeded to give Sterling its award, even though the billionaire’s track record of housing discrimination against African Americans, compounded by the brouhaha with Baylor, was already well-known. To justify the 2009 award, the president of the Los Angeles branch told the Los Angeles Times that Sterling “has a unique history of giving to the children of L.A,” revealing that the owner donates anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 tickets a game to youth groups for nearly every Clippers home game.” (Of course, Sterling may simply have wanted to fill the many empty seats at the woeful Clippers’ home games.)

The NAACP’s love affair with Sterling apparently knew no limits. The group had already given Sterling its Presidents Award in 2008, according to Sterling’s own website, which is primarily devoted to a long list of the many honors bestowed on him by various charitable groups to which he’s contributed.

Of course, many nonprofit groups rely on charitable donations from wealthy donors and corporations. Often their philanthropy is altruistic and heartfelt, but sometimes their gifts are self-serving, designed to help a company or a billionaire cleanse a soiled reputation or peddle influence with politicians. Many donors expect to see their names on buildings or to be rewarded with public celebrations of their philanthropy, including receiving awards.

The NAACP-Sterling relationship raises the larger question of whether nonprofit organizations should have any standards for bestowing honors on their donors. When is a donor such a disreputable person or corporation that its donation—and the strings attached to it—soils the reputation and moral standing of the nonprofit group, despite its many good deeds?

In the early 1900s, John D. Rockefeller began his philanthropic foundation to try to divert public attention from his reputation as a vicious robber baron, particularly after his private army killed striking workers, women, and children at the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado. In the 1970s, Tufts University bestowed an honorary degree on Philippines First Lady Imelda Marcos—for “humanitarianism” no less!—in exchange for a multi-million grant from the Marcos Foundation to the university’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, at a time when her husband, the Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was being chastised by human rights groups. Indeed, many corporate tycoons and other disreputable folks engage in philanthropy, attaching all kinds of strings to their charity. They operate under the adage, it is better to give and receive.

So it should be no surprise that Donald Sterling has likes to throw money around to nonprofit charities. What’s troubling is why an organization like the NAACP, dedicated to eliminating racial injustice, should help Sterling whitewash his reputation.

Sterling, who turned 80 on Saturday, is one of the largest property owners and landlords in the Los Angeles area. He owns and manages about 119 apartment buildings with some 5,000 units, according to the U.S. Justice Department, which has sued him for discrimination.

In 2006, the U.S. Justice Department sued Sterling and his wife for excluding Black tenants and favoring Korean tenants in some of their properties. According to the Los Angeles Times, Justice Department lawyers presented evidence that Sterling and his wife made statements “indicating that African Americans and Hispanics were not desirable tenants and that they preferred Korean tenants” occupy buildings they owned in Koreatown. Three years later, the Justice Department and Sterling reached a settlement. Sterling agreed to pay a record $2.7 million. It was, at the time, the largest settlement ever obtained by the U.S. Justice Department in a housing discrimination case involving rental apartments.

Sterling, in fact, has a long history of landlord misdeeds. In 2008, the LA Weekly summarized some of the most egregious examples of Sterling’s grotesque greed:

· 2001: City of Santa Monica sued him, claiming he harassed eight tenants in three rent-controlled buildings by threatening to evict them for having potted plants on balconies. He paid $25,000 in settlements.

· 2002: Sterling sued apparent lover Alexandra Castro for the title to a $1 million Beverly Hills home. Castro said the dwelling was a gift from him to her. The case was settled for undisclosed terms.

· 2003: Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles represented a tenant Sterling tried to evict on Lincoln Boulevard for allegedly tearing down notices in an elevator. Sterling won. The tenant was evicted.

· 2004: Sterling and other landlords won a major appellate case against Santa Monica’s stringent Tenant Harassment Ordinance, which Santa Monica’s city attorney had used to order Sterling and other landlords to stop issuing eviction notices, terming the notices “harassment.”

· 2004: Elisheba Sabi, an elderly widow represented by Los Angeles Legal Aid Foundation, sued Sterling for refusing her Section 8 voucher to rent an apartment.

· 2005: Sterling sued landowner Larry Taylor for allegedly reneging on an unsigned note that agreed to sell Sterling properties worth about $17 million. The “handwritten note” war made it to the California Supreme Court. Taylor won last year.

· 2005: Sterling settled a housing-discrimination lawsuit filed by the Housing Rights Center, which represented more than a dozen tenants. He paid nearly $5 million in legal fees and a probably much larger, but undisclosed, sum to plaintiffs.

In 2006, Sterling paid for a newspaper ad announcing that the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation would develop a “state-of-the-art $50 million dollar” project for “over 91,000 homeless people” in LA’s Skid Row neighborhood. The ad included a photo of a smiling Sterling above the quote: “Please don’t forget the children, they need our help.” At the time, many homeless advocates criticized the plan for being more like a mega-warehouse than a social service agency. But they need not have worried. Although Sterling spent millions of dollars to buy properties in the area, he never carried through on the homeless project. And now that the Skid Row neighborhood has gentrified—pushing many low-income people out of the area, Sterling is sitting on valuable property.

In addition to this track record of civil rights and tenants’ rights violations, as well as blatant indifference to human suffering, Sterling has a shameful reputation as a man who abuses his employees, acknowledges paying for sex with prostitutes, and has had a string of girlfriends who live in expensive homes and drive luxury cars paid for by the real estate mogul.

Given his reputation and this history, why would the Los Angeles NAACP honor Sterling for “lifetime achievement”? The answer? For the same reason that the NAACP is scheduled to honor Javier Angulo, Walmart’s director of community affairs, at the same May 15 banquet. Sterling and Walmart are both NAACP benefactors and the civil rights organization has been happy to take these corporation donations.

Anyone who has read the Los Angeles Times over the past decade couldn’t help but notice the hundreds of full-page and half-page ads that Sterling puts in the newspaper to promote his philanthropic endeavors. A self-congratulatory photo of Sterling inevitably adorns these ads, along with photos of the heads of dozens of nonprofit groups in the Los Angeles area who receive Sterling’s largesse. Many of these organizations, in turn, bestow awards on Sterling for his humanitarian gestures. This I’ll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-my-back philanthropy is hardly unusual in America, but Sterling’s blatant self-promotion, designed to cleanse his reputation and burnish his ego, should win an award of its own. In this way, the NAACP is simply another cog in the Sterling PR machine.

The NAACP has an even more incestuous relationship with Walmart, the world’s largest private employer and the world’s most controversial corporation. The Arkansas-based Walmart has a long history of law-breaking, not only in retaliation for employee activism but also in exploiting immigrants, paying women less than men for the same jobs, breaking environmental laws, and bribing Mexican officials, among many other infractions.

The U.S. Department of Labor ordered Walmart to pay $4.8 million in back pay and fines to thousands of employees who were illegally denied overtime. It was also ordered to pay nearly $34 million in back pay to 87,000 employees. Last November, Walmart’s 1.3 million U.S. workers won a big victory when the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the retail giant had broken the law by firing and harassing employees who spoke out—and in some cases went on strike—to protest the company’s poverty pay and abusive labor practices.

Clergy, labor, and community groups have complained that Walmart pays many of its employees poverty-level wages, insists that many employees work part time, and provides few employees with affordable health insurance. The company’s low-paid employees are forced to apply, with direct assistance from Walmart, for publicly funded benefits like food stamps and Medicaid. A report released by the National Employment Law Project uncovered widespread abuse of low-paid temporary laborers who work in warehouses and transport goods to Wal-Mart’s stores.

Human rights groups criticize Wal-Mart for its use of sweatshop labor, in China and elsewhere, to manufacture the clothing and toys it sells. Walmart has recently earned well-deserved negative publicity for its complicity in thwarting safety improvements at Bangladesh sweatshops that make clothes sold in Walmart stores. One of them was the eight-story Rana Plaza factory building near Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, where in April 2013 at least 1,100 workers were killed after the building collapsed–the deadliest garment industry disaster in history.

Walmart is also the largest seller of shotguns and ammunition in the country. For years it was a member and large contributor to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative business lobby group that aggressively supported “Stand Your Ground” laws, the racist “shoot first” law that was implicated in the death of Trayvon Martin, among others. Walmart executive Janet Scott was the co-chair of an ALEC committee that encouraged state legislators to enact these controversial pro-gun laws.

To overcome its terrible reputation, Walmart and its corporate foundation has invested heavily in strategic donations. This influence-peddling strategy includes giving campaign contributions to politicians, hiring well-connected lobbyists to do its bidding, mounting expensive PR and ballot campaigns to win public support, supporting conservative think tanks and lobby organizations such as the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, and buying the support (or at least neutrality) of nonprofit organizations through philanthropy.

The NAACP has been on the receiving end of Walmart’s corporate philanthropy. Across the country, the NAACP has partnered with Walmart on a variety of fronts. Columnist Earl Ofari Hutchison observed that Walmart’s public relations and philanthropic effort “is part of a well-greased, on-going national PR and ad campaign by Wal-Mart to make dependable allies of Black consumers and leaders.”

For more than a decade, Wal-Mart’s single-minded goal has been to open more stores and generate more revenue–especially in urban areas, the company’s next frontier. But it hasn’t been easy. In many cities across the country, local environmental, consumer, labor, small business, religious, women’s rights, and other groups have fought against Walmart’s efforts to expand its low-wage business model.

Nowhere has the battle over Walmart been as intense as in the Los Angeles area. Eager to gain a foothold in the area a decade ago, Wal-Mart proposed building a mega-store in Inglewood, a mostly African-American and Hispanic working-class suburb. In 2004 the company spent about $1 million to mount a ballot initiative that would change the city’s zoning laws to allow Walmart to build its supercenter. Despite being outspent ten-to-one, a local community coalition defeated the ballot measure by a two-to-one margin. That same year, the Los Angeles City Council enacted a big-box law making it difficult for Walmart to open new stores.

Walmart temporarily retreated, but in 2011 it returned to greater Los Angeles with a vengeance, attempting to open a store in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood. It hired three powerful lobbying firms to help the company get the approvals it needed. And it hired the politically connected Javier Angulo–former employee at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials–to coordinate its local philanthropic program.

Under Angulo’s guidance, Wal-Mart donated millions of dollars to dozens of local nonprofits, including the NAACP, the Urban League, Homeboy Industries, California Charter Schools Association, Los Angeles Parents Union, Goodwill, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, Union Rescue Mission, Meals on Wheels, Chrysalis, Children’s Hospital, and the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, as well as several Asian American organizations, including Little Tokyo Service Center, Korean American Coalition, the Center for Asian Americans United for Self-Empowerment, and Chinatown Service Center.

Angulo made sure that whenever Walmart hands over a check to one of these groups, elected officials are there for the photo-op.

Walmart also sought to open a store in Altadena, a heavily African American suburb a few miles from Los Angeles. There, too, under Angulo’s supervision, Walmart donated to the Altadena NAACP as well as other African American organizations. Angulo also led the effort to win community support for the proposed store. The strategy paid off. Despite considerable opposition, especially from locally-owned businesses, many of Altadena’s African American leaders embraced Walmart’s plans. The new store opened in March 2013.

And in yet another display of either bad taste or blatant hypocrisy, the LA NAACP is giving its President Award to Shannon Brown, senior vice president of Fed Ex. Fed Ex is well-known as a union-busting company. Indeed, the Leadership Conference, a major civil rights coalition of which the NAACP is a member, issued a 2007 report entitled “Fed Up with FexEx: How Fed Ex Ground Tramples Workers Rights and Civil Rights,” about the company’s history of anti-union practices.

In 1903, the great historian and sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois wrote The Souls of Black Folk, now considered a classic critique of American racism and its impact on Black Americans, and six years later he was a founder of the NAACP. No doubt Du Bois would be turning in his grave if he knew that the NAACP—with its glorious history of civil rights activism—had sold its soul to Donald Sterling and Walmart.

Peter Dreier is E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and director of the Urban & Environmental Policy program, at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (2012, Nation Books).



April 28, 2014

The U.S. government's funding of right-wing, anti-labor forces in Venezuela is consistent with its long history of intervening in the affairs of Latin American and Caribbean countries. On the one hand, Washington 's aim is to bolster and fortify dependent regimes that support and protect multi-national corporations that inhumanly exploit workers in country after country. On the other hand, U.S. policy is to overtly and covertly spur the building of right-wing opposition groups to overthrow independent governments that seek to alleviate poverty conditions and legislate reforms and basic rights that promote the interest of the great majority of people.

Here is just a small number of examples of many interventions that have made for a very sordid record:

U.S. imposed an embargo of Cuba in 1960, which it has enforced against the Cuban people ever since. In 1961 the U.S. government launched the Bay of Pigs military invasion of Cuba in a failed attempt to overthrow the Cuban government.

U.S. financed and backed coup against elected Guatemala 's President Jacobo Arbenz on June 18-27, 1954, opening a period of bloody dictatorship.

U.S. financed and backed coup against Brazil 's elected President Joao Goulart on April 1, 1964, opening a period of bloody dictatorship. (New documents on this 50th anniversary published in Brazil this past month reveal a more direct U.S. involvement than was previously thought.)

U.S. financed and backed coup against Chile 's elected President Salvador Allende on Sept. 11, 1973, opening a period of bloody dictatorship under Pinochet, which included the arrest of 130,000, the torture of 29,000 and the killing of additional thousands.

U.S. financed and backed coup against Argentina 's elected President Isabel Peron on March 24, 1976, opening a period of bloody dictatorship.

U.S. financed and backed coup against Venezuela's elected President Hugo Chavez on April 11, 2002 -- but this was a failed coup, as millions took to the streets to foil the coup-makers (who had already arrested Chávez) and reinstated Chávez.

U.S. financed and backed coup against Haiti 's elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 28, 2004, opening a period of chaos and occupation by MINUSTAH troops.

U.S. financed and backed coup against Honduras ' elected President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, 2009 -- under Obama's watch, attacking and reversing gains on land reform and other issues that had been made under Zelaya.

It is no wonder that Venezuela is in the cross hairs at this time. Below is a sample resolution we urge unions and community groups to adopt as a demonstration of solidarity.


No U.S. Intervention in Venezuela !

Whereas, the U.S. government, via the federal budget, has been funding political parties in Venezuela opposed to the Bolivarian government of Hugo Chávez and now of Nicolás Maduro to the tune of $90 million since 2000 -- with $5 million alone in the 2014 budget. (Source: The Guardian of London , February 18); and

Whereas, this millions of dollars in funding is being paid for by U.S. taxpayers and should instead be redirected to pay for jobs, infrastructure, education, unemployment compensation, food stamps and other urgently needed social programs at home; and

Whereas, this funding is almost certainly the tip of the iceberg, as numerous credible sources report hundreds of millions of dollars of covert support to the opposition forces in Venezuela over the past 15 years, including funding for the U.S.-backed coup attempt against Chávez on April 11, 2002; and

Whereas, on March 27, 2014, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson made the most threatening declaration to date by a top Obama administration official, stating that as far as Washington is concerned "all options -- including imposing economic sanctions on Venezuela -- are on the table if the Venezuelan government fails to make democratic room for the opposition"; and

Whereas, on February 16, 2014 the Mercosur governments ( Brazil , Argentina , Uruguay , Paraguay , and Venezuela ) released a statement on "the recent violent acts" in Venezuela and derided the "attempts [by the opposition] to destabilize the democratic order." The governments stated "their firm commitment to the full observance of democratic institutions and, in this context, reject[ed] the criminal actions of violent groups that want to spread intolerance and hatred in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as a political tool"; and

Whereas, workers in Venezuela have made important gains under the Bolivarian regime initiated by Hugo Chávez -- gains that are unacceptable to international finance capital -- including national health care and Social Security for all, decent guaranteed pensions for all, strict labor laws to protect workers, and State control/ownership over the nation's resources such as petroleum, iron, aluminum, electricity, and more; and

Whereas, the recent spread of vandalism and chaos by the opposition forces is aimed at destabilizing the government in an attempt to force Venezuela to turn back the clock and undo all the gains made by the workers and people of Venezuela through their struggles; and

Whereas, the Obama administration has never formally recognized the government of Nicolás Maduro, who was elected to office in April 2013 in elections considered legitimate and clean by all foreign observers and all governments the world over, with the exception of the United States; and

Whereas, working people in the United States have no interest in backing Washington 's intervention and threats against the democratically elected government of Venezuela .

Therefore, be it resolved that the [name of labor or community organization] calls on the Obama administration to end all forms of overt and covert operations in Venezuela aimed at subverting the sovereignty of Venezuela, and therefore to end all U.S. funding of opposition political parties in Venezuela. The Venezuelan people should be left alone to determine their own destiny without any outside intervention, especially from Washington ; and

Therefore, be it resolved that the [name of labor or community organization] calls on the Obama administration to formally recognize the legitimately elected government of Nicolás Maduro; and

Therefore, be it finally resolved that a copy of this resolution be sent to other labor and community organizations, as well as to President Barack Obama and designated members of Congress, as may be determined locally.

Issued by the Labor Fightback Network. For more information, please call 973-944-8975 or email conference@laborfightback.org or write Labor Fightback Network, P.O. Box 187 , Flanders , NJ  07836 or visit our website at laborfightback.org. Facebook link : https://www.facebook.com/laborfightback

Donations to help fund the Labor Fightback Network based on its program of solidarity and labor-community unity are necessary for our work to continue and will be much appreciated. Please make checks payable to Labor Fightback Network and mail to the above P.O. Box or you can make a contribution online. Thanks!




17) Donald Sterling’s Willing Enablers
Dave Zirin 
April 27, 2014 - 2:47 PM ET
Michael Jordan as an NBA player, owner and cultural force, has always been proudly apolitical. Most famously, he refused to oppose segregationist Jesse Helms in his home state of North Carolina by saying, “Republicans buy sneakers too.” Yet Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist rant has so upended the NBA apple cart that even Jordan is speaking out.

He said:

“As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views. I’m confident that Adam Silver will make a full investigation and take appropriate action quickly. As a former player, I’m completely outraged. There is no room in the NBA—or anywhere else—for the kind of racism. I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport. In a league where the majority of players are African-American, we cannot & must not tolerate discrimination at any level”

After a period of initial silence, Jordan is now just the latest NBA owner doing the previously unthinkable: speaking out against a fellow member of their exclusive club.

These belated words are welcome, but it is impossible to take any owner seriously that they are “shocked” or “outraged” by Sterling’s surreptitiously recorded statement, because “news” that Donald Sterling is racist qualifies as news only if you’ve been living on a hermetically sealed space station for the last decade. Even Clippers coach Doc Rivers’s comment that when he took the job last year—he didn’t know that Sterling was a bigot but “probably should have”—strains credulity. Sterling, with a great deal of attendant publicity, has been a racist in both word and deed for some time. His statements about African-Americans, Latinos and Asians—not to mention his misogyny—are exceeded only by his much-protested practices as a discriminatory slumlord. (If anyone wants to know this history, you can read this article.)

After Sterling’s latest racist eruption, the NBA is now dealing with a full-on public relations nightmare, and right when Sterling’s team, the Los Angeles Clippers, are real contenders to win an NBA championship. Two stunning developments have been immediately clear in the aftermath. The first is the sheer number of NBA players that have loudly and proudly condemned Sterling’s racism. (It has to be noted that one of first to do so, was the league’s biggest star, LeBron James.) There have also been reports that the LA Clippers even openly discussed boycotting their game on Sunday in protest. Instead they wore plain red warm-up shirts in protest.

The second is just how many people have not only expressed “shock” at Sterling’s words but also have said variations of “I have never heard anything like this from owners in the NBA.” I cannot speak to whether or not this is true. It is certainly possible that Donald Sterling is the only owner who seems to be in a constant state of arousal, fear and rage at what he calls the “beautiful black bodies” of the NBA. But every owner, as well as former commissioner David Stern—whose paternalism was called out by Dwyane Wade during the 2011 NBA lockout—needs to carry the burden of having counted this person as a colleague for so long. And lest we forget, Donald Sterling’s great benefactor, friend and partner was the late Dr. Jerry Buss, the owner of the Lakers, a person who was universally mourned without criticism after he passed away.

In his press conference, new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was asked by ESPN writer J.A. Adande about why, given his racist history, Sterling had never been sanctioned. Silver, in his best impression of Mark McGwire said, “I am not here to talk about the past.” But an NBA ownership structure that would tolerate a man like Donald Sterling for so long is, frankly, intolerable. Clearly owners—and maybe we should stop calling them “owners” given Sterling’s most recent, Romneyesque released comments—are now throwing him under their Humvee limos and driving back and forth because he’s become bad for business. Expect in the days ahead for Silver and the NBA owners to sanction Sterling or even pressure him to sell the franchise. But unless they look in the mirror and account for their years of enabling this man, it’s not enough.

One NBA player, whom I will not name, got in touch with me and just said, “I don’t doubt he’s racist, [but] I’m astounded (not shocked) that the league hasn’t taken action before. What concerns me is that the league is clearly only concerned with him possibly being a racist because he got caught, not because he is… Racism is being allowed as long as our customers and employees don’t find out.” This is the perception, and that perception is reality. Silver needs to own his league’s past and condemn it in the harshest possible terms. He needs to organize the owners to finally get Sterling out of this club, and then figure out a way to deal with the noxious fumes that remain. Maybe make the Clippers property of the city of Los Angeles so the club can actually be a force for good, particularly for those residents of the city who have been so damaged by Sterling’s existence both inside and outside the Staples Center.

[Dave Zirin is the author of the forthcoming book “Brazil’s Dance with the Devil” (Haymarket) Receive his column every week by emailing dave@edgeofsports.com. Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com.]

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18) Senate Drops Bid to Report on Drone Use



19) Snowden Retained Expert in Espionage Act Defense



20) Twelve Deportation Protesters Arrested at White House



21) Disparate Forces Align Over Affordable Rents




























The fall of apartheid in South Africa in 1994 was a watershed victory. It culminated decades of struggle by the Black and Colored South African masses, a struggle supported by millions in the U.S. and around the world. The victory brought to power the Tripartite government of the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

Now, two decades later, the ANC-led Tripartite government represents big business's interests — especially the interests of U.S. and European-based banks and corporations. This has led the government to brutally attack workers who fight back against austerity. Indeed, in 2012, at the Marikana mine, this government massacred 34 striking miners at the behest of the mine owners.

Black poverty has worsened. Inequality has worsened. Trade union officials collaborate with employers against workers, youth, and unemployed. Does this sound familiar? Isn't the situation similar in the US, with union officials not fighting employer and government attacks on workers, like the machinists at Boeing?

But in South Africa, there's an exciting new development: for the first time since the fall of Apartheid, there's a serious challenge to the Tripartite government's rule, and it comes from the largest and most militant union in Africa. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has broken with the COSATU leadership and called for South Africans not to support the ANC in this year's elections. It is currently building a workers' party and united front to lead the struggle against the capitalist onslaught of deregulation, privatization, and strike breaking.

We are privileged to present  Brother Mphumzi Maqungo,  the national treasurer of NUMSA and past chair of NUMSA's autoworker shop steward network, to discuss these developments.

Thursday, May 1st, 7:00 p.m.
ILWU Hall, Henry Schmidt Room
400 N. Point St./Mason, San Francisco

Friday, May 2, 12 Noon at UC Berkeley, McCone Hall (Room  575)
Saturday, May 3rd, 2pm. Black Repertory Theater; 3201 Adeline,
Berkeley (one block south of Ashby BART)

For updates or to get involved in building for these events, contact the May Day Committee in Solidarity with South African Workers
at: twscltransportworkers.org. Reach us directly at  (510)325-8664  or  (415)282-1908



Please hold the date and attend…

A Celebration of Life and Struggle
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Welcome Home Lynne Stewart!
Free all political prisoners! End racist mass incarceration! Abolish the death penalty! Stop police brutality and murder!

Join Lynne Stewart and Pam Africa Sunday, May 4, 6 pm reception; 7pm rally

Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street, between Broadway and Telegraph, Oakland
Donation $10

Initial Bay Area Tour Schedule:
Friday, May 2: San Francisco, Host: National Lawyers Guild, 6 pm 518 Valencia St., SF
Saturday, May 3, Palo Alto, Host: Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, afternoon
Saturday, May 3, San Jose, Host, San Jose Peace and Justice Center & NLG South Bat, evening
Sunday, May 4, Oakland, Host: Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal & Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Monday, May 5: Marin, evening
Tuesday, May 6: Sacramento, evening

Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal & Lynne Stewart Defense Committee

510-268-9429   jmackler@lmi.net
Tour endorsers (initial list): SF Bay Area National Lawyers Guild • Middle East Children’s Alliance • United National Antiwar Coalition • Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal • World Can’t Wait • Freedom Socialist Party • Marin Peace and Justice Center • Peninsula Peace and Justice Center • Sacramento Area Peace Council • WILPF • SF Gray Panthers • Socialist Action • International Action Center • Freedom Archives

— This message sent to you by: The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal --

Lynne Stewart's release from prison was the result of great public support, an international petition campaign, and persistence by her husband. This victory for a political prisoner, as well as the release of political prisoner Marshall Eddie Conway after 44 years in prison; political prisoner Maroon Shoatz's transfer from solitary confinement to general prison population, inspires our efforts to free all political prisoners.

The exoneration of innocent death row prisoner, Glen Ford, just before the state of Louisiana was set to execute him, is another blow to the existence of the racist death penalty. And the massive hunger strikes organized by prisoners, including undocumented detainees, in California, Washington, Texas and Georgia are an example of resistance to prisoners and workers everywhere. 













Next Tuesday marks the end of the first year in office for South Korea's President Park, Geun-hye.

On that day, South Korea's trade union confederation (the KCTU) will be holding a nationwide "people's strike" together with broader social movements including organisations of peasants, the urban poor, small shop keepers, students, and youth.

They'll be marching under the slogan "After one year under Park's Government, we cannot stand it anymore!"

Human and trade union rights have been attacked and democracy in the country has been undermined since Park came to power.

Organising strikes in President Park's Korea is increasingly dangerous.  Harsh repression is becoming the norm.  Unions are under attack.

The Korean Teachers Union has been de-registered and the Korean Government Employees Union refused registration. Union buildings have been raided. There are eleven trade union leaders behind bars at the moment, some of them still awaiting trial, some already convicted.  Four have just been bailed for trial later.

In solidarity with the 15 union leaders in prison or on bail, and with the KCTU, the global trade union movement is calling for the release of all imprisoned trade unionists.

That's why the International Trade Union Confederation has launched this new campaign on LabourStart:


It will take you less than one minute to show your support for our brothers and sisters on the front lines in the fight for democracy in Korea.

Once you've signed the campaign, please don't stop there -- spread the word in your union and workplace.

I know that we can count on your support.

Thank you!

Eric Lee

P.S. There's been a major show of support for Canadian workers on strike since September 2013 at Crown Holdings. The Toronto and York Region Labour Council has voted to boycott Carnival, whose CEO is board member of Crown.  Have you supported this campaign yet?  Please do so and spread the word.
Copyright © 2014 LabourStart, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
Unit 168, Lee Valley Technopark
Ashley Road, Tottenham
London, England N17 3LN
United Kingdom





Because of a determined people’s movement, Lynne is finally home with her family. But she has urgent medical needs and costs. Lynne’s Stage 4 breast cancer spread a year ago to both lungs, back, bones and lymph nodes. Now 74, she has lost weight and has trouble breathing; doctors estimate her lifespan at 12 months. Lynne will soon begin treatment requiring her to pay deductibles and co-payments. To boost the odds, she’ll use a special diet, vitamins, and other healing methods – some costly and none covered by insurance.
Lynne’s spirit is indomitable – help her fight to survive!

“I fought lions, I fought tigers, and I’m not going to let cancer get me,” Stewart said.

Lynne has always come to the aid of those who needed her. Now it’s our turn to stand by Lynne.


On line at:


Or by USPS to:

Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
  1070 Dean Street?
  Brooklyn, New York 11216



Tell Maj. Gen. Buchanan why Chelsea
deserves to be free!

PVT Chelsea Manning has served nearly four years in prison, yet she’s showing a remarkable spirit of persistence. She is unjustly imprisoned, but not defeated. With plans to enroll in a prelaw/political science university program, and a legal name change underway, she continues planning for her future and working to fulfill her dreams. She is determined to make the best of her situation. However, we know she could contribute more to the world if she was free.
Please write a letter to Convening Authority Major General Buchanan today urging him to reduce Chelsea’s sentence!
We began collecting letters to include in PVT Manning’s clemency packet last fall. We expected that the military would finalize her record of trial last December, and that she could then submit her application to Maj. Gen. Buchanan by the end of 2013. Just like so many times before, however, the military’s process has slowed Chelsea’s ability to defend her rights. Defense attorney David Coombs now estimates that it will be at least another month before the clemency application can be submitted.
Want to make sure decision-makers know why you believe Chelsea deserves to go free? If you haven’t done so yet, please write a short letter to Maj. Gen. Buchanan. Hundreds of people have already submitted letters for us to use, including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and award-winning author Alice Walker.
As Alice Walker wrote:
Private Manning was the one soldier willing to speak out against what he thought was wrong. When others silently followed orders, Manning could not. Pvt. Manning is a humanist, meaning he sees humanity before nationality, and values human life above all else. When he released documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, he wanted the American people, and the world, to judge for themselves if the U.S. military was properly valuing human life in Iraq and Afghanistan. As taxpayers who fund that military, we deserve that opportunity.
Learn now how you can write a letter to be included in Chelsea Manning’s official application for clemency!
Please share this information to friends and community leaders, urging them to add their voice to this important effort before it's too late.

Help us continue to cover 100%
of Pvt. Manning's legal fees!
Donate today.

484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610





Only an Innocent Man Would Voluntarily Return
to Prison to Fight Against his Life Sentence
and For Exoneration —
That Courageous Man is Lorenzo Johnson.

The PA Attorney General’s Office Agrees to Investigate New Facts and Witnesses —
  Send Your Message Now to PA AG
Kathleen Kane: Dismiss the Charges!
Free Lorenzo Johnson!

On January 29, 2014 Lorenzo Johnson’s attorney, Michael Wiseman, met with representatives of PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane to discuss the new evidence of Lorenzo Johnson’s innocence contained in legal filings now pending in the Pennsylvania courts. This includes affidavits confirming Johnson’s presence in New York City at the time of the Harrisburg murder and the identity of the actual killers, as well as police and prosecutorial misconduct.

Attorney Wiseman said Kane’s office promised to investigate these new facts in order to assess whether they merit the relief that Lorenzo Johnson seeks in his PCRA petition.

Speaking to AP reporter Mary Claire Dale on February 11, 2014 Wiseman said, “We believe the witnesses we presented to them are credible, and give a coherent version of the events. I take them at their word, that they’re going to do a straightforward, honest review.”  Kane spokesman Joe Peters confirmed the meeting to AP “but said the office won’t comment on the new evidence until the court filing,” (referring to the March 31, 2014 date for the AG’s response to Johnson’s October 2013 court filing).

It is the Office of the PA Attorney General that is responsible for the false prosecution of Lorenzo Johnson from trial through appeals. And just a few months ago, the Attorney General’s office opposed a federal petition based on this new evidence saying there was no prima facie claim for relief. This resulted in the denial of Lorenzo Johnson’s Motion to File a Second Writ of Habeas Corpus in the federal court.

On December 18, 2013 a press conference called by the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson protested these actions of the PA Attorney General and delivered petitions demanding dismissal of the charges and immediate freedom for Lorenzo. Tazza, Lorenzo’s wife, declared, “1,000 signatures means we are not in this alone…I won't stop until he’s home. There is nothing and no one that can stop me from fighting for what’s right.”

This is Lorenzo Johnson’s second fight for his innocence and freedom. In January 2012, after 16 years of court battles to prove his innocence, a federal appeals court held his sentence was based on insufficient evidence – a judicial acquittal. Lorenzo was freed from prison. But after a petition filed by the PA Attorney General the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated Lorenzo Johnson’s conviction and he was re-incarcerated to continue serving a life sentence without parole for a murder he did not commit.

This innocent man drove himself back to prison in June 2012—after less than five months of freedom—leaving his new wife and family, construction job and advocacy on behalf of others wrongfully convicted. The reason Lorenzo Johnson voluntarily returned to prison? Because he is innocent and fighting for full vindication.

In the words of Lorenzo Johnson, “A second is too long to be in prison when you are Innocent, so eighteen years … is Intolerable.”

Add your voices and demand again: Dismiss the charges against Lorenzo Johnson. Free Lorenzo NOW!



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

 Email: Lorenzo Johnson through JPAY.com code:
              Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC




End Drone Killing, Drone Surveillance and Global 

United National Antiwar Coalition Call for Spring Days of
 Action 2014

Today we issue an international call for Spring Days of Action—2014, a coordinated campaign in April and May to end drone killings, drone surveillance and global militarization.

The campaign will focus on drone bases, drone research facilities and test sites and drone manufacturers.

The campaign will provide information on:

1. The suffering of tens-of-thousands of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza who are under drone attack, documenting the killing, the wounding and the devastating impact of constant drone surveillance on community life.

2. How attack and surveillance drones have become a key element in a massive wave of surveillance, clandestine military attacks and militarization generated by the United States to protect a global system of manufacture and oil and mineral exploitation that is creating unemployment and poverty, accelerating the waste of nonrenewable resources and contributing to environmental destruction and global warming.

In addition to cases in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, we will examine President Obama’s “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific, where the United States has already sold and deployed drones in the vanguard of a shift of 60 percent of its military forces to try to control China and to enforce the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership. We will show, among other things, how this surge of “pivot” forces, greatly enabled by drones, and supported by the U.S. military-industrial complex, will hit every American community with even deeper cuts in the already fragile social programs on which people rely for survival. In short, we will connect drones and militarization with “austerity” in America.

3. How drone attacks have effectively destroyed international and domestic legal protection of the rights to life, privacy, freedom of assembly and free speech and have opened the way for new levels of surveillance and repression around the world, and how, in the United States, increasing drone surveillance, added to surveillance by the National Security Agency and police, provides a new weapon to repress black, Hispanic, immigrant and low-income communities and to intimidate Americans who are increasingly unsettled by lack of jobs, economic inequality, corporate control of politics and the prospect of endless war.

We will discuss how the United States government and corporations conspire secretly to monitor U.S. citizens and particularly how the Administration is accelerating drone surveillance operations and surveillance inside the United States with the same disregard for transparency and law that it applies to other countries, all with the cooperation of the Congress.

The campaign will encourage activists around the world to win passage of local laws that prohibit weaponized drones and drone surveillance from being used in their communities as well as seeking national laws to bar the use of weaponized drones and drone surveillance.

The campaign will draw attention to the call for a ban on weaponized drones by RootsAction.org that has generated a petition with over 80,000 signers:


And to efforts by the Granny Peace Brigade (New York City), KnowDrones.org and others to achieve an international ban on both weaponized drones and drone surveillance.

The campaign will also urge participation in the World Beyond War movement.
The following individuals and organizations endorse this Call: 
Lyn Adamson, Co-chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace; Dennis Apel, Guadalupe Catholic Worker, California; Judy Bello, Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones & End the Wars; Medea Benjamin, Code Pink; Leah Bolger, Former National President, Veterans for Peace; Canadian Voice of Women for Peace; Sung-Hee Choi, Gangjeong Village International Team, Jeju, Korea; Chelsea C. Faria, Graduate student, Yale Divinity School; Promoting Enduring Peace; Sandy Fessler, Rochester (NY) Against War; Joy First; Bruce K. Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space; Holly Gwinn Graham, Singer/songwriter, Olympia, WA; Regina Hagen, Darmstaedter Friedensforum, Germany; Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence; Malachy Kilbride; Marilyn Levin and Joe Lombardo, Co-Coordinators, United National Antiwar Coalition; Tamara Lorincz, Halifax Peace Coalition, Canada; Nick Mottern, KnowDrones.org; Agneta Norberg, Swedish Peace Council; Pepperwolf, Director, Women Against Military Madness; Lindis Percy, Coordinator, Campaign for the Accountability of American; Bases CAAB UK; Mathias Quackenbush, San Francisco, CA; Lisa Savage, Code Pink, State of Maine; Janice Sevre-Duszynska; Wolfgang Schlupp-Hauck, Friedenswerkstatt Mutlangen, Germany; Cindy Sheehan; Lucia Wilkes Smith, Convener, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM),  Ground; Military Drones Committee; David Soumis, Veterans for Peace; No Drones Wisconsin; Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait; David Swanson, WarisACrime.org; Brian Terrell, Voices for Creative Nonviolence; United National Antiwar Coalition; Veterans for Peace; Dave Webb, Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK); Curt Wechsler, Fire John Paki Wieland, Northampton (MA) Committee to Stop War(s); Loring Wirbel, Citizens for Peace in Space (Colorado Springs, CO); Women Against Military Madness; Ann Wright, Retired U.S. Army colonel and former diplomat; Leila Zand, Fellowship of Reconciliation.
United National Antiwar Coalition
P.O. Box 123
Delmar, NY 12054



Sireen Khudairy Appeal Update.

Sireen Khudairy was arrested again at 4am on Tuesday 7th January 2014. According to reports she has been taken to Huwwara military point. When the Israeli army took her from her home they didn't show any papers to her or the person she was with.

This follows eight months of harassment of this 24-year-old Palestinian woman who is a teacher, activist and supporter of the non-violent action against the Israeli occupation. She was previously imprisoned from May to July 2013, and has been subjected to frequent harassment ever since. See further details at:


Please help by contacting your Embassies urgently to demand her release and spread her appeal widely. Follow updates on:


Please contact us to let us know any action you take. We will pass this information on to her family. Thanks for your solidarity and support.  

Steven Katsineris, January 2014


U.S. Court of Appeals Rules Against Lorenzo Johnson’s
New Legal Challenge to His Frame-up Conviction!
Demand the PA Attorney General Dismiss the Charges!
Free Lorenzo Johnson, Now!

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied Lorenzo Johnson’s motion to file a Second Habeas Corpus Petition. The order contained the outrageous declaration that Johnson hadn’t made a “prima facie case” that he had new evidence of his innocence. This not only puts a legal obstacle in Johnson’s path as his fight for freedom makes its way (again) through the state and federal courts—but it undermines the newly filed Pennsylvania state appeal that is pending in the Court of Common Pleas.

Stripped of  “legalese,” the court’s October 15, 2013 order says Johnson’s new evidence was not brought into court soon enough—although it was the prosecution and police who withheld evidence and coerced witnesses into lying or not coming forward with the truth! This, despite over fifteen years and rounds of legal battles to uncover the evidence of government misconduct. This is a set-back for Lorenzo Johnson’s renewed fight for his freedom, but Johnson is even more determined as his PA state court appeal continues.

Increased public support and protest is needed. The fight for Lorenzo Johnson’s freedom is not only a fight for this courageous man and family. The fight for Lorenzo Johnson is also a fight for all the innocent others who have been framed and are sitting in the slow death of prison. The PA Attorney General is directly pursuing the charges against Lorenzo, despite the evidence of his innocence and the corruption of the police. Free Lorenzo Johnson, Now!

—Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq.
   October 25, 2013

For more on the federal court and PA state court legal filings.
Hear Mumia’s latest commentary, “Cat Cries”
Go to: www.FreeLorenzoJohnson.org for more information, to sign the petition, and how to help.


Call and write Ft Leavenworth today and tell them to honor Manning's wishes around her name and gender:

Call: (913) 758-3600

Write to:
Col. Sioban Ledwith, Commander
U.S. Detention Barracks
1301 N Warehouse Rd
Ft. Leavenworth KS 66027

Private Manning has been an icon both for the government transparency movement and LGBTQ activists because of her fearlessness and acts of conscience. Now, as she begins serving her sentence, Chelsea has asked for help with legal appeals, family visits, education, and support for undergoing gender transition. The latter is a decision she’s made following years of experiencing gender dysphoria and examining her options. At a difficult time in her life, she joined the military out of hope–the hope that she could use her service to save lives, and also the hope that it would help to suppress her feelings of gender dysphoria. But after serving time in Iraq, Private Manning realized what mattered to her most was the truth, personal as well as political, even when it proved challenging.

Now she wants the Fort Leavenworth military prison to allow her access to hormone replacement therapy which she has offered to pay for herself, as she pursues the process to have her name legally changed to ‘Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.’

To encourage the prison to honor her transgender identity, we’re calling on progressive supporters and allies to contact Fort Leavenworth officials demanding they acknowledge her requested name change immediately. Currently, prison officials are not required to respect Chelsea’s identity, and can even refuse to deliver mail addressed to the name ‘Chelsea Manning.’ However, it’s within prison administrators’ power to begin using the name ‘Chelsea Manning’ now, in advance of the legal name change which will most likely be approved sometime next year. It’s also up to these officials to approve Private Manning’s request for hormone therapy.
Call: (913) 758-3600

Write to:
Col. Sioban Ledwith, Commander
U.S. Detention Barracks
1301 N Warehouse Rd
Ft. Leavenworth KS 66027

Tell them: “Transgender rights are human rights! Respect Private Manning’s identity by acknowledging the name ‘Chelsea Manning’ whenever possible, including in mail addressed to her, and by allowing her access to appropriate medical treatment for gender dysphoria, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT).”

While openly transgender individuals are allowed to serve in many other militaries around the world, the US military continues to deny their existence. Now, by speaking up for Chelsea’s right to treatment, you can support one brave whistleblower in her personal struggle, and help set an important benchmark for the rights of transgender individuals everywhere. (Remember that letters written with focus and a respectful tone are more likely to be effective.) Feel free to copy this sample letter.

Earlier this year, the Private Manning Support Network won the title of most “absolutely fabulous overall contingent” at the San Francisco Pride Parade, the largest celebration of its kind for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) people nationwide. Over one thousand people marched for Private Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning in that parade, to show LGBTQ community pride for the Iraq War’s most well-known whistleblower.

Help us continue to cover 100%
of Pvt. Manning's legal fees!
Donate today.

484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610






Posted on August 25, 2013

Cartoon by Anthonty Mata for CCSF Guardsman

We are working to ensure that the ACCJC’s authority is not renewed by the Department of Education this December when they are up for their 5-year renewal. Our campaign made it possible for over 50 Third Party Comments to be sent to the DOE re: the ACCJC. Our next step in this campaign is to send a delegation from CCSF to Washington, D.C. to give oral comments at the hearing on December 12th. We expect to have an array of forces aligned on the other side who have much more money and resources than we do.
So please support this effort to get ACCJC authority revoked!

Save CCSF members have been meeting with Attorney Dan Siegel since last May to explore legal avenues to fight the ACCJC. After much consideration, and consultation with AFT 2121’s attorney as well as the SF City Attorney’s office, Dan has come up with a legal strategy that is complimentary to what is already being pursued. In fact, AFT 2121’s attorney is encouraging us to go forward.
The total costs of pursuing this (depositions, etc.) will be substantially more than $15,000. However, Dan is willing to do it for a fixed fee of $15,000. He will not expect a retainer, i.e. payment in advance, but we should start payments ASAP. If we win the ACCJC will have to pay our costs.

Checks can be made out to Save CCSF Coalition with “legal” in the memo line and sent to:
Save CCSF Coalition
2132 Prince St.
Berkeley, CA 94705
Or you may donate online:  http://www.gofundme.com/4841ns



16 Years in Solitary Confinement Is Like a "Living Tomb"

American Civil Liberties Union petition to end long-term solitary confinement:
California Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard: We stand with the prisoners on hunger strike. We urge you to comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 recommendations regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement.

In California, hundreds of prisoners have been held in solitary for more than a decade – some for infractions as trivial as reading Machiavelli's "The Prince."

Gabriel Reyes describes the pain of being isolated for at least 22 hours a day for the last 16 years:

“Unless you have lived it, you cannot imagine what it feels like to be by yourself, between four cold walls, with little concept of time…. It is a living tomb …’ I have not been allowed physical contact with any of my loved ones since 1995…I feel helpless and hopeless. In short, I am being psychologically tortured.”

That’s why over 30,000 prisoners in California began a hunger strike – the biggest the state has ever seen. They’re refusing food to protest prisoners being held for decades in solitary and to push for other changes to improve their basic conditions.

California Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard has tried to dismiss the strikers and refuses to negotiate, but the media pressure is building through the strike. If tens of thousands of us take action, we can help keep this issue in the spotlight so that Secretary Beard can’t ignore the inhumane treatment of prisoners.

Sign the petition urging Corrections Secretary Beard to end the use of long-term solitary confinement.

Solitary is such an extreme form of punishment that a United Nations torture rapporteur called for an international ban on the practice except in rare occasions. Here’s why:

The majority of the 80,000 people held in solitary in this country are severely mentally ill or because of a minor infraction (it’s a myth that it’s only for violent prisoners)
Even for people with stable mental health, solitary causes severe psychological reactions, often leading people to attempt suicide
It jeopardizes public safety because prisoners held in solitary have a harder time reintegrating into society.

And to add insult to injury, the hunger strikers are now facing retaliation – their lawyers are being restricted from visiting and the strikers are being punished. But the media continues to write about the hunger strike and we can help keep the pressure on Secretary Beard by signing this petition.

Sign the petition urging Corrections Secretary Beard to end the use of long-term solitary confinement.

Our criminal justice system should keep communities safe and treat people fairly. The use of solitary confinement undermines both of these goals – but little by little, we can help put a stop to such cruelty.

Thank you,
Anthony for the ACLU Action team
P.S. The hunger strikers have developed five core demands to address their basic conditions, the main one being an end to long-term solitary confinement. They are:

-End group punishment – prisoners say that officials often punish groups to address individual rule violations

-Abolish the debriefing policy, which is often demanded in return for better food or release from solitary

-End long-term solitary confinement

-Provide adequate and nutritious food

-Expand or provide constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates

“Solitary - and anger - in California's prisons.” Los Angeles Times July 13, 2013
“Pelican Bay Prison Hunger-Strikers' Stories: Gabriel Reyes.” TruthOut July 9, 2013
“Solitary confinement should be banned in most cases, UN expert says.” UN News October 18, 2011
"Stop Solitary - Two Pager" ACLU.org


What you Didn't know about NYPD's Stop and Frisk program !


Egypt: The Next President -- a little Egyptian boy speaks his remarkable mind!


Wealth Inequality in America

[This is a must see to believe video...bw]




Read the transcription of hero Bradley Manning's 35-page statement explaining why he leaked "state secrets" to WikiLeaks.

March 1, 2013


The statement was read by Pfc. Bradley Manning at a providence inquiry for his formal plea of guilty to one specification as charged and nine specifications for lesser included offenses. He pled not guilty to 12 other specifications. This rush transcript was taken by journalist Alexa O'Brien at Thursday's pretrial hearing and first appeared on Salon.com.




You Have the Right to Remain Silent: NLG Guide to Law Enforcement Encounters

Posted 1 day ago on July 27, 2012, 10:28 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

Occupy Wall Street is a nonviolent movement for social and economic justice, but in recent days disturbing reports have emerged of Occupy-affiliated activists being targeted by US law enforcement, including agents from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. To help ensure Occupiers and allied activists know their rights when encountering law enforcement, we are publishing in full the National Lawyers Guild's booklet: You Have the Right to Remain Silent. The NLG provides invaluable support to the Occupy movement and other activists – please click here to support the NLG.

We strongly encourage all Occupiers to read and share the information provided below. We also recommend you enter the NLG's national hotline number (888-654-3265) into your cellphone (if you have one) and keep a copy handy. This information is not a substitute for legal advice. You should contact the NLG or a criminal defense attorney immediately if you have been visited by the FBI or other law enforcement officials. You should also alert your relatives, friends, co-workers and others so that they will be prepared if they are contacted as well.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Law Enforcement Encounters

What Rights Do I Have?

Whether or not you're a citizen, you have rights under the United States Constitution. The Fifth Amendment gives every person the right to remain silent: not to answer questions asked by a police officer or government agent. The Fourth Amendment restricts the government's power to enter and search your home or workplace, although there are many exceptions and new laws have expanded the government's power to conduct surveillance. The First Amendment protects your right to speak freely and to advocate for social change. However, if you are a non-citizen, the Department of Homeland Security may target you based on your political activities.

Standing Up For Free Speech

The government's crusade against politically-active individuals is intended to disrupt and suppress the exercise of time-honored free speech activities, such as boycotts, protests, grassroots organizing and solidarity work. Remember that you have the right to stand up to the intimidation tactics of FBI agents and other law enforcement officials who, with political motives, are targeting organizing and free speech activities. Informed resistance to these tactics and steadfast defense of your and others' rights can bring positive results. Each person who takes a courageous stand makes future resistance to government oppression easier for all. The National Lawyers Guild has a long tradition of standing up to government repression. The organization itself was labeled a "subversive" group during the McCarthy Era and was subject to FBI surveillance and infiltration for many years. Guild attorneys have defended FBI-targeted members of the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, and the Puerto Rican independence movement. The NLG exposed FBI surveillance, infiltration and disruption tactics that were detailed during the 1975-76 COINTELPRO hearings. In 1989 the NLG prevailed in a lawsuit on behalf of several activist organizations, including the Guild, that forced the FBI to expose the extent to which it had been spying on activist movements. Under the settlement, the FBI turned over roughly 400,000 pages of its files on the Guild, which are now available at the Tamiment Library at New York University.

What if FBI Agents or Police Contact Me?

What if an agent or police officer comes to the door?

Do not invite the agents or police into your home. Do not answer any questions. Tell the agent that you do not wish to talk with him or her. You can state that your lawyer will contact them on your behalf. You can do this by stepping outside and pulling the door behind you so that the interior of your home or office is not visible, getting their contact information or business cards and then returning inside. They should cease questioning after this. If the agent or officer gives a reason for contacting you, take notes and give the information to your attorney. Anything you say, no matter how seemingly harmless or insignificant, may be used against you or others in the future. Lying to or misleading a federal agent is a crime. The more you speak, the more opportunity for federal law enforcement to find something you said (even if not intentionally) false and assert that you lied to a federal officer.

Do I have to answer questions?

You have the constitutional right to remain silent. It is not a crime to refuse to answer questions. You do not have to talk to anyone, even if you have been arrested or are in jail. You should affirmatively and unambiguously state that you wish to remain silent and that you wish to consult an attorney. Once you make the request to speak to a lawyer, do not say anything else. The Supreme Court recently ruled that answering law enforcement questions may be taken as a waiver of your right to remain silent, so it is important that you assert your rights and maintain them. Only a judge can order you to answer questions. There is one exception: some states have "stop and identify" statutes which require you to provide identity information or your name if you have been detained on reasonable suspicion that you may have committed a crime. A lawyer in your state can advise you of the status of these requirements where you reside.

Do I have to give my name?

As above, in some states you can be detained or arrested for merely refusing to give your name. And in any state, police do not always follow the law, and refusing to give your name may make them suspicious or more hostile and lead to your arrest, even without just cause, so use your judgment. Giving a false name could in some circumstances be a crime.

Do I need a lawyer?

You have the right to talk to a lawyer before you decide whether to answer questions from law enforcement. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer if you are considering answering any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer present during any interview. The lawyer's job is to protect your rights. Once you tell the agent that you want to talk to a lawyer, he or she should stop trying to question you and should make any further contact through your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, you can still tell the officer you want to speak to one before answering questions. Remember to get the name, agency and telephone number of any investigator who visits you, and give that information to your lawyer. The government does not have to provide you with a free lawyer unless you are charged with a crime, but the NLG or another organization may be able to help you find a lawyer for free or at a reduced rate.

If I refuse to answer questions or say I want a lawyer, won't it seem like I have something to hide?

Anything you say to law enforcement can be used against you and others. You can never tell how a seemingly harmless bit of information might be used or manipulated to hurt you or someone else. That is why the right not to talk is a fundamental right under the Constitution. Keep in mind that although law enforcement agents are allowed to lie to you, lying to a government agent is a crime. Remaining silent is not. The safest things to say are "I am going to remain silent," "I want to speak to my lawyer," and "I do not consent to a search." It is a common practice for law enforcement agents to try to get you to waive your rights by telling you that if you have nothing to hide you would talk or that talking would "just clear things up." The fact is, if they are questioning you, they are looking to incriminate you or someone you may know, or they are engaged in political intelligence gathering. You should feel comfortable standing firm in protection and defense of your rights and refusing to answer questions.

Can agents search my home or office?

You do not have to let police or agents into your home or office unless they have and produce a valid search warrant. A search warrant is a written court order that allows the police to conduct a specified search. Interfering with a warrantless search probably will not stop it and you might get arrested. But you should say "I do not consent to a search," and call a criminal defense lawyer or the NLG. You should be aware that a roommate or guest can legally consent to a search of your house if the police believe that person has the authority to give consent, and your employer can consent to a search of your workspace without your permission.

What if agents have a search warrant?

If you are present when agents come for the search, you can ask to see the warrant. The warrant must specify in detail the places to be searched and the people or things to be taken away. Tell the agents you do not consent to the search so that they cannot go beyond what the warrant authorizes. Ask if you are allowed to watch the search; if you are allowed to, you should. Take notes, including names, badge numbers, what agency each officer is from, where they searched and what they took. If others are present, have them act as witnesses to watch carefully what is happening. If the agents ask you to give them documents, your computer, or anything else, look to see if the item is listed in the warrant. If it is not, do not consent to them taking it without talking to a lawyer. You do not have to answer questions. Talk to a lawyer first. (Note: If agents present an arrest warrant, they may only perform a cursory visual search of the premises to see if the person named in the arrest warrant is present.)

Do I have to answer questions if I have been arrested?

No. If you are arrested, you do not have to answer any questions. You should affirmatively and unambiguously state that you wish to assert your right to remain silent. Ask for a lawyer right away. Do not say anything else. Repeat to every officer who tries to talk to or question you that you wish to remain silent and that you wish to speak to a lawyer. You should always talk to a lawyer before you decide to answer any questions.

What if I speak to government agents anyway?

Even if you have already answered some questions, you can refuse to answer other questions until you have a lawyer. If you find yourself talking, stop. Assert that you wish to remain silent and that you wish to speak to a lawyer.

What if the police stop me on the street?

Ask if you are free to go. If the answer is yes, consider just walking away. If the police say you are not under arrest, but are not free to go, then you are being detained. The police can pat down the outside of your clothing if they have reason to suspect you might be armed and dangerous. If they search any more than this, say clearly, "I do not consent to a search." They may keep searching anyway. If this happens, do not resist because you can be charged with assault or resisting arrest. You do not have to answer any questions. You do not have to open bags or any closed container. Tell the officers you do not consent to a search of your bags or other property.

What if police or agents stop me in my car?

Keep your hands where the police can see them. If you are driving a vehicle, you must show your license, registration and, in some states, proof of insurance. You do not have to consent to a search. But the police may have legal grounds to search your car anyway. Clearly state that you do not consent. Officers may separate passengers and drivers from each other to question them, but no one has to answer any questions.

What if I am treated badly by the police or the FBI?

Write down the officer's badge number, name or other identifying information. You have a right to ask the officer for this information. Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers. If you are injured, seek medical attention and take pictures of the injuries as soon as you can. Call a lawyer as soon as possible.

What if the police or FBI threaten me with a grand jury subpoena if I don't answer their questions?

A grand jury subpoena is a written order for you to go to court and testify about information you may have. It is common for the FBI to threaten you with a subpoena to get you to talk to them. If they are going to subpoena you, they will do so anyway. You should not volunteer to speak just because you are threatened with a subpoena. You should consult a lawyer.

What if I receive a grand jury subpoena?

Grand jury proceedings are not the same as testifying at an open court trial. You are not allowed to have a lawyer present (although one may wait in the hallway and you may ask to consult with him or her after each question) and you may be asked to answer questions about your activities and associations. Because of the witness's limited rights in this situation, the government has frequently used grand jury subpoenas to gather information about activists and political organizations. It is common for the FBI to threaten activists with a subpoena in order to elicit information about their political views and activities and those of their associates. There are legal grounds for stopping ("quashing") subpoenas, and receiving one does not necessarily mean that you are suspected of a crime. If you do receive a subpoena, call the NLG National Hotline at 888-NLG-ECOL (888-654-3265) or call a criminal defense attorney immediately.

The government regularly uses grand jury subpoena power to investigate and seek evidence related to politically-active individuals and social movements. This practice is aimed at prosecuting activists and, through intimidation and disruption, discouraging continued activism.

Federal grand jury subpoenas are served in person. If you receive one, it is critically important that you retain the services of an attorney, preferably one who understands your goals and, if applicable, understands the nature of your political work, and has experience with these issues. Most lawyers are trained to provide the best legal defense for their client, often at the expense of others. Beware lawyers who summarily advise you to cooperate with grand juries, testify against friends, or cut off contact with your friends and political activists. Cooperation usually leads to others being subpoenaed and investigated. You also run the risk of being charged with perjury, a felony, should you omit any pertinent information or should there be inconsistencies in your testimony.

Frequently prosecutors will offer "use immunity," meaning that the prosecutor is prohibited from using your testimony or any leads from it to bring charges against you. If a subsequent prosecution is brought, the prosecutor bears the burden of proving that all of its evidence was obtained independent of the immunized testimony. You should be aware, however, that they will use anything you say to manipulate associates into sharing more information about you by suggesting that you have betrayed confidences.

In front of a grand jury you can "take the Fifth" (exercise your right to remain silent). However, the prosecutor may impose immunity on you, which strips you of Fifth Amendment protection and subjects you to the possibility of being cited for contempt and jailed if you refuse to answer further. In front of a grand jury you have no Sixth Amendment right to counsel, although you can consult with a lawyer outside the grand jury room after each question.

What if I don't cooperate with the grand jury?

If you receive a grand jury subpoena and elect to not cooperate, you may be held in civil contempt. There is a chance that you may be jailed or imprisoned for the length of the grand jury in an effort to coerce you to cooperate. Regular grand juries sit for a basic term of 18 months, which can be extended up to a total of 24 months. It is lawful to hold you in order to coerce your cooperation, but unlawful to hold you as a means of punishment. In rare instances you may face criminal contempt charges.

What If I Am Not a Citizen and the DHS Contacts Me?

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is now part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has been renamed and reorganized into: 1. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS); 2. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP); and 3. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). All three bureaus will be referred to as DHS for the purposes of this pamphlet.

? Assert your rights. If you do not demand your rights or if you sign papers waiving your rights, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may deport you before you see a lawyer or an immigration judge. Never sign anything without reading, understanding and knowing the consequences of signing it.

? Talk to a lawyer. If possible, carry with you the name and telephone number of an immigration lawyer who will take your calls. The immigration laws are hard to understand and there have been many recent changes. DHS will not explain your options to you. As soon as you encounter a DHS agent, call your attorney. If you can't do it right away, keep trying. Always talk to an immigration lawyer before leaving the U.S. Even some legal permanent residents can be barred from returning.

Based on today's laws, regulations and DHS guidelines, non-citizens usually have the following rights, no matter what their immigration status. This information may change, so it is important to contact a lawyer. The following rights apply to non-citizens who are inside the U.S. Non-citizens at the border who are trying to enter the U.S. do not have all the same rights.

Do I have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any DHS questions or signing any DHS papers?

Yes. You have the right to call a lawyer or your family if you are detained, and you have the right to be visited by a lawyer in detention. You have the right to have your attorney with you at any hearing before an immigration judge. You do not have the right to a government-appointed attorney for immigration proceedings, but if you have been arrested, immigration officials must show you a list of free or low cost legal service providers.

Should I carry my green card or other immigration papers with me?

If you have documents authorizing you to stay in the U.S., you must carry them with you. Presenting false or expired papers to DHS may lead to deportation or criminal prosecution. An unexpired green card, I-94, Employment Authorization Card, Border Crossing Card or other papers that prove you are in legal status will satisfy this requirement. If you do not carry these papers with you, you could be charged with a crime. Always keep a copy of your immigration papers with a trusted family member or friend who can fax them to you, if need be. Check with your immigration lawyer about your specific case.

Am I required to talk to government officers about my immigration history?

If you are undocumented, out of status, a legal permanent resident (green card holder), or a citizen, you do not have to answer any questions about your immigration history. (You may want to consider giving your name; see above for more information about this.) If you are not in any of these categories, and you are being questioned by a DHS or FBI agent, then you may create problems with your immigration status if you refuse to provide information requested by the agent. If you have a lawyer, you can tell the agent that your lawyer will answer questions on your behalf. If answering questions could lead the agent to information that connects you with criminal activity, you should consider refusing to talk to the agent at all.

If I am arrested for immigration violations, do I have the right to a hearing before an immigration judge to defend myself against deportation charges?

Yes. In most cases only an immigration judge can order you deported. But if you waive your rights or take "voluntary departure," agreeing to leave the country, you could be deported without a hearing. If you have criminal convictions, were arrested at the border, came to the U.S. through the visa waiver program or have been ordered deported in the past, you could be deported without a hearing. Contact a lawyer immediately to see if there is any relief for you.

Can I call my consulate if I am arrested?

Yes. Non-citizens arrested in the U.S. have the right to call their consulate or to have the police tell the consulate of your arrest. The police must let your consulate visit or speak with you if consular officials decide to do so. Your consulate might help you find a lawyer or offer other help. You also have the right to refuse help from your consulate.

What happens if I give up my right to a hearing or leave the U.S. before the hearing is over?

You could lose your eligibility for certain immigration benefits, and you could be barred from returning to the U.S. for a number of years. You should always talk to an immigration lawyer before you decide to give up your right to a hearing.

What should I do if I want to contact DHS?

Always talk to a lawyer before contacting DHS, even on the phone. Many DHS officers view "enforcement" as their primary job and will not explain all of your options to you.

What Are My Rights at Airports?

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is illegal for law enforcement to perform any stops, searches, detentions or removals based solely on your race, national origin, religion, sex or ethnicity.

If I am entering the U.S. with valid travel papers can a U.S. customs agent stop and search me?

Yes. Customs agents have the right to stop, detain and search every person and item.

Can my bags or I be searched after going through metal detectors with no problem or after security sees that my bags do not contain a weapon?

Yes. Even if the initial screen of your bags reveals nothing suspicious, the screeners have the authority to conduct a further search of you or your bags.

If I am on an airplane, can an airline employee interrogate me or ask me to get off the plane?

The pilot of an airplane has the right to refuse to fly a passenger if he or she believes the passenger is a threat to the safety of the flight. The pilot's decision must be reasonable and based on observations of you, not stereotypes.

What If I Am Under 18?

Do I have to answer questions?

No. Minors too have the right to remain silent. You cannot be arrested for refusing to talk to the police, probation officers, or school officials, except in some states you may have to give your name if you have been detained.

What if I am detained?

If you are detained at a community detention facility or Juvenile Hall, you normally must be released to a parent or guardian. If charges are filed against you, in most states you are entitled to counsel (just like an adult) at no cost.

Do I have the right to express political views at school?

Public school students generally have a First Amendment right to politically organize at school by passing out leaflets, holding meetings, etc., as long as those activities are not disruptive and do not violate legitimate school rules. You may not be singled out based on your politics, ethnicity or religion.

Can my backpack or locker be searched?

School officials can search students' backpacks and lockers without a warrant if they reasonably suspect that you are involved in criminal activity or carrying drugs or weapons. Do not consent to the police or school officials searching your property, but do not physically resist or you may face criminal charges.


This booklet is not a substitute for legal advice. You should contact an attorney if you have been visited by the FBI or other law enforcement officials. You should also alert your relatives, friends, co-workers and others so that they will be prepared if they are contacted as well.

NLG National Hotline for Activists Contacted by the FBI





Free Mumia NOW!


Write to Mumia:

Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335

SCI Mahanoy

301 Morea Road

Frackville, PA 17932

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Rachel Wolkenstein

August 21, 2011 (917) 689-4009








"A Child's View from Gaza: Palestinian Children's Art and the Fight Against

Censorship" book




Justice for Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace: Decades of isolation in Louisiana

state prisons must end

Take Action -- Sign Petition Here:









Write to Bradley


View the new 90 second "I am Bradley Manning" video:

I am Bradley Manning


Courage to Resist

484 Lake Park Ave. #41

Oakland, CA 94610



"A Fort Leavenworth mailing address has been released for Bradley Manning:

Bradley Manning 89289

830 Sabalu Road

Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027

The receptionist at the military barracks confirmed that if someone sends

Bradley Manning a letter to that address, it will be delivered to him."


This is also a Facebook event



Courage to Resist needs your support

Please donate today:


"Soldiers sworn oath is to defend and support the Constitution. Bradley Manning

has been defending and supporting our Constitution." --Dan Ellsberg, Pentagon

Papers whistle-blower

Jeff Paterson

Project Director, Courage to Resist

First US military service member to refuse to fight in Iraq

Please donate today.


P.S. I'm asking that you consider a contribution of $50 or more, or possibly

becoming a sustainer at $15 a month. Of course, now is also a perfect time to

make a end of year tax-deductible donation. Thanks again for your support!

Please click here to forward this to a friend who might also be interested in

supporting GI resisters.




The Battle Is Still On To


The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610





Reasonable doubts about executing Kevin Cooper

Chronicle Editorial

Monday, December 13, 2010


Death penalty -- Kevin Cooper is Innocent! Help save his life from San Quentin's

death row!




- From Amnesty International USA

17 December 2010

Click here to take action online:



To learn about recent Urgent Action successes and updates, go to


For a print-friendly version of this Urgent Action (PDF):




Short Video About Al-Awda's Work

The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's

work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown

on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l

Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected

over the past nine years.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTiAkbB5uC0&eurl

Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, depends on your financial

support to carry out its work.

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to


and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!











[Some of these videos are embeded on the BAUAW website:

http://bauaw.blogspot.com/ or bauaw.org ...bw]






Checkpoint - Jasiri X 


Published on Jan 28, 2014
"Checkpoint" is based on the oppression and discrimination Jasiri X witnessed firsthand during his recent trip to Palestine and Israel "Checkpoint" is produced by Agent of Change, and directed by Haute Muslim. Download "Checkpoint" at https://jasirix.bandcamp.com/track/ch....

Follow Jasiri X at https://twitter.com/jasiri_x

Journal of the hard times tales from the dark side
Evidence of the settlements on my hard drive
Man I swear my heart died at the end of that car ride
When I saw that checkpoint welcome to apartheid
Soldiers wear military green at the checkpoint
Automatic guns that's machine at the checkpoint
Tavors not m16s at the checkpoint
Fingers on the trigger you'll get leaned at the checkpoint
Little children grown adults or teens at the checkpoint
All ya papers better be clean at the checkpoint
You gotta but your finger on the screen at the checkpoint
And pray that red light turns green at the check point

If Martin Luther King had a dream of the checkpoint
He wake with loud screams from the scenes at the checkpoint
It's Malcolm X by any means at the check point
Imagine if you daily routine was the checkpoint

Separation walls that's surrounding the checkpoint
On top is barbwire like a crown on the checkpoint
Better have ya permits if your found at the checkpoint
Gunmen on the tower aiming down at the checkpoint
The idea is to keep you in fear of the checkpoint
You enter through the cage in the rear of the checkpoint
It feels like prison on a tier at the check point
I'd rather be anywhere but here at this checkpoint
Nelson Mandela wasn't blind to the check point
He stood for free Palestine not a check point
Support BDS don't give a dime to the checkpoint
This is international crime at the checkpoint
Arabs get treated like dogs at the checkpoint
Cause discrimination is the law at the checkpoint
Criminalized without a cause at the checkpoint
I'm just telling you what I saw at the checkpoint
Soldiers got bad attitudes at the checkpoint
Condescending and real rude at the checkpoint
Don't look em in they eyes when they move at the checkpoint
They might strip a man or woman nude at the checkpoint
Soldiers might blow you out of ya shoes at the checkpoint
Gas you up and then light the fuse at the checkpoint
Everyday you stand to be accused at the checkpoint
Each time your life you could lose at the checkpoint

If Martin Luther King had a dream of the checkpoint
He wake with loud screams from the scenes at the checkpoint
It's Malcolm X by any means at the check point
Imagine if you daily routine was the checkpoint

At the airport in Tel Aviv is a checkpoint
They pulled over our taxi at the checkpoint
Passport visa ID at the checkpoint
Soldiers going all through my things at the checkpoint
Said I was high risk security at the checkpoint
Because of the oppression I see at the checkpoint
Occupation in the 3rd degree at the checkpoint
All a nigga wanna do is leave fuck a checkpoint



Exceptional art from the streets of Oakland:

Oakland Street Dancing





On Gun Control, Martin Luther King, the Deacons of Defense and the history of Black Liberation



Fukushima Never Again


"Fukushima, Never Again" tells the story of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns in north east Japan in March of 2011 and exposes the cover-up by Tepco and the Japanese government.

This is the first film that interviews the Mothers Of Fukushima, nuclear power experts and trade unionists who are fighting for justice and the protection of the children and the people of Japan and the world. The residents and citizens were forced to buy their own geiger counters and radiation dosimeters in order to test their communities to find out if they were in danger.

The government said contaminated soil in children's school grounds was safe and then

when the people found out it was contaminated and removed the top soil, the government and TEPCO refused to remove it from the school grounds.

It also relays how the nuclear energy program for "peaceful atoms" was brought to Japan under the auspices of the US military occupation and also the criminal cover-up of the safety dangers of the plant by TEPCO and GE management which built the plant in Fukushima. It also interviews Kei Sugaoka, the GE nulcear plant inspector from the bay area who exposed cover-ups in the safety at the Fukushima plant and was retaliated against by GE. This documentary allows the voices of the people and workers to speak out about the reality of the disaster and what this means not only for the people of Japan but the people of the world as the US government and nuclear industry continue to push for more new plants and government subsidies. This film breaks

the information blockade story line of the corporate media in Japan, the US and around the world that Fukushima is over.

Production Of Labor Video Project

P.O. Box 720027

San Francisco, CA 94172



For information on obtaining the video go to:




1000 year of war through the world



Anatomy of a Massacre - Afganistan


Afghans accuse multiple soldiers of pre-meditated murder

To see more go to http://www.youtube.com/user/journeymanpictures

Follow us on Facebook (http://goo.gl/YRw42) or Twitter


The recent massacre of 17 civilians by a rogue US soldier has been shrouded in

mystery. But through unprecedented access to those involved, this report

confronts the accusations that Bales didn't act alone.

"They came into my room and they killed my family". Stories like this are common

amongst the survivors in Aklozai and Najiban. As are the shocking accusations

that Sergeant Bales was not acting alone. Even President Karzai has announced

"one man can not do that". Chief investigator, General Karimi, is suspicious

that despite being fully armed, Bales freely left his base without raising

alarm. "How come he leaves at night and nobody is aware? Every time we have

weapon accountability and personal accountability." These are just a few of the

questions the American army and government are yet to answer. One thing however

is very clear, the massacre has unleashed a wave of grief and outrage which

means relations in Kandahar will be tense for years to come: "If I could lay my

hands on those infidels, I would rip them apart with my bare hands."

A Film By SBS

Distributed By Journeyman Pictures

April 2012


Photo of George Zimmerman, in 2005 photo, left, and in a more recent photo.



SPD Security Cams.wmv



Kids being put on buses and transported from school to "alternate locations" in

Terror Drills



Private prisons,

a recession resistant investment opportunity



Attack Dogs used on a High School Walkout in MD, Four Students Charged With

"Thought Crimes"



Common forms of misconduct by Law Enforcement Officials and Prosecutors



Organizing and Instigating: OCCUPY - Ronnie Goodman



Rep News 12: Yes We Kony



The New Black by The Mavrix - Official Music Video



Japan One Year Later



The CIA's Heart Attack Gun




The Invisible American Workforce



Labor Beat: NATO vs The 1st Amendment


For more detailed information, send us a request at mail@laborbeat.org.


The Battle of Oakland

by brandon jourdan plus



Officers Pulled Off Street After Tape of Beating Surfaces


February 1, 2012, 10:56 am




This is excellent! Michelle Alexander pulls no punches!

Michelle Alexander, Author of The New Jim Crow, speaks about the political


behind the War on Drugs and its connection to the mass incarceration of Black

and Brown people in the United States.


If you think Bill Clinton was "the first black President" you need to watch this

video and see how much damage his administration caused for the black community

as a result of his get tough attitude on crime that appealed to white swing


This speech took place at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem on January 12,





I received the following reply from the White House November 18, 2011 regarding

the Bradley Manning petition I signed:

"Why We Can't Comment on Bradley Manning

"Thank you for signing the petition 'Free PFC Bradley Manning, the accused

WikiLeaks whistleblower.' We appreciate your participation in the We the People

platform on WhiteHouse.gov.

The We the People Terms of Participation explain that 'the White House may

decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or

similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or

agencies, federal courts, or state and local government.' The military justice

system is charged with enforcing the Uniform Code of

Military Justice. Accordingly, the White House declines to comment on the

specific case raised in this petition...

That's funny! I guess Obama didn't get this memo. Here's what Obama said about



"He broke the law!" says Obama about Bradley Manning who has yet to even be

charged, let alone, gone to trial and found guilty. How horrendous is it for the

President to declare someone guilty before going to trial or being charged with

a crime! Justice in the U.S.A.!

Obama on FREE BRADLEY MANNING protest... San Francisco, CA. April 21, 2011-

Presidential remarks on interrupt/interaction/performance art happening at

fundraiser. Logan Price queries Barack after org. FRESH JUICE PARTY political



Release Bradley Manning

Almost Gone (The Ballad Of Bradley Manning)

Written by Graham Nash and James Raymond (son of David Crosby)



Julian Assange: Why the world needs WikiLeaks



School police increasingly arresting American students?




Nuclear Detonation Timeline "1945-1998"

The 2053 nuclear tests and explosions that took place between 1945 and 1998 are

plotted visually and audibly on a world map.



We Are the 99 Percent

We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to

choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are

suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay

and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1

percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.

Brought to you by the people who occupy wall street. Why will YOU occupy?






We Are The People Who Will Save Our Schools




In honor of the 75th Anniversary of the 44-Day Flint Michigan sit-down strike at

GM that began December 30, 1936:

According to Michael Moore, (Although he has done some good things, this clip

isn't one of them) in this clip from his film, "Capitalism a Love Story," it was

Roosevelt who saved the day!):

"After a bloody battle one evening, the Governor of Michigan, with the support

of the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, sent in the National

Guard. But the guns and the soldiers weren't used on the workers; they were

pointed at the police and the hired goons warning them to leave these workers

alone. For Mr. Roosevelt believed that the men inside had a right to a redress

of their grievances." -Michael Moore's 'Capitalism: A Love Story'

- Flint Sit-Down Strike http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8x1_q9wg58

But those cannons were not aimed at the goons and cops! They were aimed straight

at the factory filled with strikers! Watch what REALLY happened and how the

strike was really won!

'With babies & banners' -- 75 years since the 44-day Flint sit-down strike




HALLELUJAH CORPORATIONS (revised edition).mov






ILWU Local 10 Longshore Workers Speak-Out At Oakland Port Shutdown


Uploaded by laborvideo on Dec 13, 2011

ILWU Local 10 longshore workers speak out during a blockade of the Port of

Oakland called for by Occupy Oakland. Anthony Levieges and Clarence Thomas rank

and file members of the union. The action took place on December 12, 2011 and

the interview took place at Pier 30 on the Oakland docks.

For more information on the ILWU Local 21 Longview EGT struggle go to


For further info on the action and the press conferernce go to:


Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org


UC Davis Police Violence Adds Fuel to Fire

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

19 November 11



UC Davis Protestors Pepper Sprayed




Police pepper spraying and arresting students at UC Davis



UC Davis Chancellor Katehi walks to her car


Occupy Seattle - 84 Year Old Woman Dorli Rainey Pepper Sprayed






Shot by police with rubber bullet at Occupy Oakland



Copwatch@Occupy Oakland: Beware of Police Infiltrators and Provocateurs



Occupy Oakland 11-2 Strike: Police Tear Gas, Black Bloc, War in the Streets



Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest

were actually undercover Quebec police officers:

POLICE STATE Criminal Cops EXPOSED As Agent Provocateurs @ SPP Protest



Quebec police admit going undercover at montebello protests


G20: Epic Undercover Police Fail




Occupy Oakland Protest


Cops make mass arrests at occupy Oakland


Raw Video: Protesters Clash With Oakland Police


Occupy Oakland - Flashbangs USED on protesters OPD LIES


KTVU TV Video of Police violence


Marine Vet wounded, tear gas & flash-bang grenades thrown in downtown



Tear Gas billowing through 14th & Broadway in Downtown Oakland


Arrests at Occupy Atlanta -- This is what a police state looks like



Labor Beat: Hey You Billionaire, Pay Your Fair Share



Voices of Occupy Boston 2011 - Kwame Somburu (Paul Boutelle) Part I


Voices of Occupy Boston 2011 - Kwame Somburu (Paul Boutelle) Part II



#Occupy Wall Street In Washington Square: Mohammed Ezzeldin, former occupier of

Egypt's Tahrir Square Speaks at Washington Square!



#OccupyTheHood, Occupy Wall Street

By adele pham



Live arrest at brooklyn bridge #occupywallstreet by We are Change







One World One Revolution -- MUST SEE VIDEO -- Powerful and beautiful...bw


"When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty." Thomas Jefferson


Japan: angry Fukushima citizens confront government (video)

Posted by Xeni Jardin on Monday, Jul 25th at 11:36am



Labor Beat: Labor Stands with Subpoenaed Activists Against FBI Raids and Grand

Jury Investigation of antiwar and social justice activists.

"If trouble is not at your door. It's on it's way, or it just left."

"Investigate the Billionaires...Full investigation into Wall Street..." Jesse

Sharkey, Vice

President, Chicago Teachers Union



Coal Ash: One Valley's Tale




To unsubscribe go to: bauaw2003-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com


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