Tuesday, April 07, 2015


Sign the Petition:


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

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

American Federation of Teachers
Campaign for America's Future
Courage Campaign
Daily Kos
Democracy for America
Project Springboard
RH Reality Check
Student Debt Crisis
The Nation
Working Families 



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:








Fight for $15


Boosting pay for working moms and dads helps ALL of us – not just the rich. It's time for $15.

BIG NEWS: On April 15, fast food cooks and cashiers will be STRIKING across the country – and thousands and thousands of Americans will be rallying alongside them.

In just two years, the Fight for $15 has grown from a few dozen striking fast food workers in New York City to a historic international movement.

Thousands of people working in a TON of new industries have joined the fight – from home care workers to gas station attendants, Wal-Mart workers to airport employees.

And now I'm asking: Will you join, too?

YES! I believe every working American deserves fair pay and I pledge to show up at the Fight for $15 rally on April 15.

This is your chance to stand with the striking low wage workers fighting for $15 an hour and union rights at MASSIVE national rallies across the country.

Big companies like McDonald's are making billions – while middle class and working Americans struggle to pay our rent and support our families. Frankly, it's wrong.

That's why, in just two weeks, we're standing up for fair pay for all.

Sign up here to join the rallies for $15 an hour on April 15. Together, we can make history.
When we come together, we win. It's that simple.

Dozens of cities and states across the country have raised the minimum wage since this fight began. In fact, more than 9 million workers have higher wages today – thanks to voter action, collective bargaining and direct public pressure on companies like Wal-Mart.

It's time for McDonald's and poverty-pay companies across the country to guarantee good pay for every hard-working employee. Help send the message loud and clear on April 15.

Thanks for joining the fight.
Beth Schaffer
McDonald's Employee, Charleston, SC
Fight for $15



Save the Date - UNAC National Conference, May 8 - 10, 2015

UNAC is the major national antiwar coalition in the U.S. today.  The existence of a United National Antiwar Coalition is vital and we need your financial support to continue our work and to expand.

With U.S. wars today accelerating and expanding globally in various forms – from drone attacks on Yemen and Pakistan, never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, support to neo-fascists in Ukraine, and proliferating Africom forces to threats of war for regime change in Syria – we have an obligation to do whatever is possible to educate the public and to take action to stop the carnage.

The wars abroad are connected to global warming with most wars fought over energy resources with the U.S. war machine as the largest polluter.

At home, we see hugely growing income inequality, a militarized and racist police force, mass incarceration of Blacks and Latinos, and a massive police state apparatus that includes global surveillance and laws to quell dissent.

In spite of the trillions spent by the U.S. corporate war government and its controlled media propaganda machine to keep us in check, the people are fighting back.  We’ve been inspired and strengthened by the hundreds of thousands of new activists taking to the streets of this country to stop police brutality, to build Occupy encampments, to fight for decent wages, to demand full rights for immigrants, to win marriage equality, to end global warming, to demonstrate solidarity with the besieged people of Gaza, and to protest unending U.S. wars.

UNAC has played an active, often leadership role, in all of the antiwar and social justice movements of our time.  While most activists are focused on their particular issues, the most vital role we can play is to connect the issues to their source.  All of the injustices and crimes we protest, stem from the imperialist insatiable drive for expanding profit and control – and the U.S. is the largest imperialist power militarily and economically.  When there should be plenty for all, only the obscenely wealthy benefit while the rest of the 99% struggle just to survive.

Some of our recent major accomplishments:
·       Initiated protest against NATO and 15,000 marched in Chicago in 2012.
·        Called for immediate actions against threats of war and coups directed at Libya, Iran, No. Korea, Africa, Latin America,    Ukraine, and maintaining the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
·        Organized a national tour for Afghan leader Malalai Joya.
·        Sent representatives to international NATO protests and conferences.
·        Serve on the Board of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms to act against Islamophobia , racist attacks on Muslims, and attacks on our civil liberties.
·        Participated in national efforts to organize anti-drone actions.
·        Campaigned to defend victims of government repression who speak out and expose Washington’s crimes, including Rasmea Odeh, Mumia abu Jamal, Lynne Stewart, Chelsea Manning, and the Midwest activists targeted by the FBI.
·        Produced national educational conference calls featuring experts on topics such as U.S. intervention in Africa, the destruction of Libya, the developing wars in Syria, and others.
·        Built an antiwar contingent in the massive New York City Climate Change march and built Climate Change action in other cities around the country.
·        Helped organize protests against Israel’s attack on Gaza
·        Helped organize protests against the murder of Blacks by white police and the militarization of the police forces in the U.S.

UNAC has a history of bringing hundreds of activists together at large national conferences to learn about the issues of the day, to discuss the way forward and to vote on an Action Program for the coming period.

The UNAC conference next May will bring activists from all the movements in motion to cross-fertilize these struggles.  We are particularly dedicated to bringing young activists together to support and learn from each other.  For this, we need your help to offer subsidies to leaders from Ferguson, from the border wars in the southwest, from the Native Americans who are fighting against the pipelines ruining their lands, from the Students for Justice in Palestine, and many others.

Please give generously so that we can continue our work to bring harmony and justice to the peoples of this earth.

You can send a check to UNAC at PO Box 123, Delmar, NY 12054 or click the button below to contribute on-line with your credit or debit card.




Urgent! Please forward widely...

Mumia's Life in Danger!

All Out Saturday, April 11
12 Noon Oakland Federal Bldg.
1301 Clay Street, Oakland  (near downtown Oakland Bart)

No Execution by Medical Default!

Free Mumia Now!

Dear Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal,

You have been receiving our regular updates on Mumia's critical medical condition (See below). Thanks for your efforts to flood the Mahoney Prison Superintendent John Kerestes  with calls (570-773-2158  Ext. 8102). You should continue to do so!

But now is the time to mobilize across the country to unleash the power that has prevented Pennsylvania officials from executing Mumia in the past.

The refusal of prison officials to allow expert medical doctors in the field of diabetes amounts to criminal neglect. Just last week this neglect came close, within minutes,  to ending Mumia's life.

Join us this Saturday in Oakland, 12 Noon at the Federal Bldg., 1301 Clay Street.

In solidarity,

Jeff Mackler and Laura Herrera, Co-coordinators, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia's Faces Grave Medical Situation
Urgent Action Needed Now!

Dear Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal,

Below is the latest information on Mumia's dangerous health situation. The information comes from Johanna Fernandez of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, from the International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and the MOVE Organization.

Please make every effort to call prison officials at SCI Mahoney to demand that Mumia's family and legal team be allowed to bring in doctors expert in the areas where Mumia needs top notch and qualified medical care.

Phone immediately to:

SCI Mahoney
301 Morea Rd. Frackville, PA 17932
Superintendent John Kerestes
570-773-2158  Ext. 8102

In solidarity and act now!

Jeff Mackler, Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

FROM JOHANNA FERNANDEZ (Campaign to Bring Mumia Home and Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal)
All: A lot is happening. Here is a quick synopsis of yesterday's meeting.
We visited Mumia yesterday (Fri April 3) at the prison. After being denied access early that morning, we were called back and told that a group of 5 could visit. Those in attendance during the visit were: Mike Africa, Keith Cook, Johanna Fernandez, Abdul Jon and Rachel Wolkenstein.
The pressure mounted by the movement was tremendous; I, personally, overheard an operator at the prison say in, the background, that the phones were ringing off the hook. Mumia was brought out in a wheel chair to the visiting room, but given his condition, the visit should have taken place in the infirmary. His spirit is strong, but his body is in need of urgent medical attention. He needs to see a diabetes specialist (Endocrinologist) and a dermatologist, chosen by his family and closest supporters. He has not yet been seen by the diabetes specialist and his blood sugar is still fluctuating dangerously. Yesterday, Mumia's blood sugar was at 336. And in spite of this dangerously high count he was given spaghetti for lunch. He hast lost at least 80lbs, he was very weak and had difficulty breathing at the end of our one hour visit. His skin is hard and black everywhere in his body, except his face. He had slurred speech during parts of our visit, was trembling by the end of it, and even though he tried to appear strong for us, he was weak and vulnerable. This was very difficult for us to see, because Mumia has always had a strong constitution, both physically and mentally. When we asked how he was feeling physically, he said that he was very ill on Wed and Thurs and couldn't stay awake or get up on those days. Yet he was transferred back to the prison prematurely at 7pm on Wed. One of the last things he told us was that he believes in the power of the people. He was happy to hear about the out pouring of support. But in the end, Mumia is selfless man. This is why he has become known the Voice of the Voiceless. Unfortunately, his greatest asset -- that he is a fighter for those who suffer under the thumb of those in power, the world over --  is his greatest liability when it comes to his own personal well being. He is NOT his best advocate. It is up to us to play that role on his behalf. He is also too close to the situation and too ill, to fully comprehend the magnitude of the torture-by-medical-neglect inflicted on him by the state.
He needs independent, specialized medical attention, urgently. And this is our major demand.
We need to step up the pressure and oppose the attempt at state execution of Mumia by medical neglect.
Approximately 40 people drove in car caravans to the prison from Philadelphia, New York and DC. We had a press conference outside the prison after the visit. Then we drove to the Department of Corrections and forced a meeting with Susan E. Mcnaughton, the press secretary of the DOC. We promised to return on Monday for a meeting with Secretary of the DOC, John Wetzel.  Our presence was heard both at SCI Mahanoy and at the DOC.
We need volunteers to drive back up to the DOC on Monday.
I leave you with the conviction that if we fight together, we will win this battle and bring Mumia home.
With love,  Johanna

This government has been trying to murder Mumia for 34 years. The power of this movement stopped his execution in 1995 and 1999, and got him off of death row. Now they’re deliberately trying to murder him through medical neglect and intentional torture. This situation is urgent and couldn’t be more serious. Mumia is currently in a wheelchair, two days ago he couldn’t stand up, his speech is slurred, and he can barely hold a bottle of water. This isn’t just medical neglect, this is a continuation of the premeditated murder that was set in place when Mumia was shot in the chest, was rammed headfirst into a steel pole, and was then railroaded through the courts and onto deathrow. Just two months ago Phil Africa died under similar suspicious circumstances. We have absolutely no time to waste.
People must treat this as if Mumia’s death warrant has been signed and the execution date is tomorrow, because that’s their intention. They have absolutely no intention of freeing Mumia, and they have no interest in letting him live a long life in prison continuing to be an example of resistance for the world. They want Mumia dead, and if they can do it by medical neglect they will. The only reason Mumia wasn’t executed in 1995, the only reason he was moved off of death row is because the pressure for justice for Mumia was too strong. The only way Mumia is going to live through this attack on his life is if all people step up and immediately demand healthier diet for Mumia and the ability to have outside medical care. We aren’t asking for anything here that hasn’t been done in Pennsylvania prisons before. There are diets in place for people dealing with health problems and they aren’t even giving him that. Since he was prematurely taken from the hospital and put back in the prison where these problems started his blood sugar levels have been rising because they are only giving him foods like pasta that are dangerous with diabetes.
Their intention with all of these side attacks is to distract people from the main point, which is that Mumia is innocent and shouldn’t have served one day in prison in the first place. The sacrifice that Mumia and the MOVE 9 are making, and that Phil and Merle Africa have already given their lives for, is for the benefit of everyone. People must stand up and reciprocate that commitment, today. If you don’t act today his death warrant could be carried out tomorrow.

Mumia-alerts mailing list



For Immediate Release: March 30, 2015

Attn: News Desk

Prisoners and Advocacy Groups Win Right to a Trial On Constitutionality of the Silencing Act (PA SB508)

This morning, Chief Judge for the federal court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Christopher Conner, will hear the cases Abu-Jamal v. Kane and Prison Legal News v. Kane in a trial that willl determine the constitutionality of PA SB508 "the Silencing Act".  Defendant PA Attorney General Kane will be hard pressed to argue the constitutionality of the Silencing Act, a censorship law targeted at Mumia Abu-Jamal and other currently and formerly incarcerated people.

Defendant Seth Williams was dismissed from the case based on his explicit disavowal of enforcing the act until a court of competent jurisdiction rules on the constitutionality of the statute. His dismissal does not hinder Plaintiffs ability to obtain the relief of invalidating this law, as a favorable ruling on the First Amendment issue against Defendant Kane will achieve the same result. Williams' disavowal of enforcement is a far cry from his political grandstanding in support of this bill's passage in the fall.

The judge has ordered that this trial will include Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction merged with a trial on the merits, meaning that if we win we will be granted a permanent injunction against the statute, and the statue will be invalidated.

“Silencing prisoners is one more way of dehumanizing them,” said Amistad Law Project Policy Director Nikki Grant. “We need the voices of the marginalized to shed light on injustice.”

The trial is set for this morning March 30 in Harrisburg, PA approximately 5 months since former Governor Corbett signed this ill-fated bill into law.

 The Abolitionist Law Center, Amistad Law Project, and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law filed the lawsuit on Nov. 10th to stop enforcement of the law. The law firms represent Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall, Robert L. Holbrook, Donnell Palmer, Anthony Chance, and Human Rights Coalition.

The Silencing Act, also known as 18 P.S. § 11.1304, allows the Attorney General, county District Attorneys, and victims of personal injury crimes to bring a lawsuit in civil court against the person convicted of the personal injury crime to enjoin conduct that “perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim”. The actions that could prompt a lawsuit include “conduct which causes a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.”

“This law is unconstitutional,” said David Shapiro of MacArthur Justice Center. “The facts are on our side and the law is on our side. The Silencing Act targets a huge amount of constitutionally protected speech based on who is speaking.”

After a prerecorded commencement speech by journalist and prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was played for graduates at Goddard College in Vermont, the Pennsylvania legislature passed and outgoing Governor Corbett signed into law the Silencing Act on October 21st, 16 days after the commencement speech.

Abu-Jamal has spent 33 years in prison, 29 of which were in solitary confinement on death row after being convicted at a 1982 trial that Amnesty International said “failed to meet minimum international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings.”

Robert L. Holbrook, who is serving a death by incarceration, life without parole, sentence he received as a child, had this to say about the law: “there are people in prison who will stop writing, stop publishing, stop speaking out because of this law.”

Bret Grote       bretgrote@abolitionistlawcenter.org    412-654-9070
Ashley Henderson ashley@amistadlaw.org          215-310-0424
Noelle Hanrahan info@prisonradio.org         415-706-5222
David Shapiro david.shapiro@law.northwestern.edu        312-503-0711

Amistad Law Project is a West Philadelphia-based public interest law center.
Our mission is to fight for the human rights of all people by providing
legal services to people incarcerated in Pennsylvania’s prisons.
www.amistadlaw.org | @amistadlaw | 267-225-5884

The Abolitionist Law Center is a public interest law firm inspired by the struggle of political and politicized prisoners, and organized for the purpose of abolishing class and race based mass incarceration in the United States.   412-654-9070

Prison Radio has recorded Mumia and other political prisoners for over 25 years, and we are pulling out all the stops to keep these voices on the air.   415-706-5222

Please donate today to amplify prisoners' voices far and wide beyond the bars:
     Support Prison Radio: prisonradio.org/donate
     Defeat SB 508: bit.ly/defendfreespeech

Copyright © Prison Radio
www,prisonradio.org 415-706-5222
Our mailing address is:
Prison Radio PO Box 411074, SF CA 94141


Donate Now
to fight the “gag” law!
go to:


Support Prison Radio

$35 is the yearly membership.

$50 will get you a beautiful tote bag (you can special order a yoga mat bag, just call us).

$100 will get the DVD "Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary"

$300 will bring one essay to the airwaves.

$1000 (or $88.83 per month) will make you a member of our Prison Radio Freedom Circle. Take a moment and Support Prison Radio

Luchando por la justicia y la libertad,

Noelle Hanrahan, Director, Prison Radio


P.O. Box 411074 San Francisco, CA 94141

info@prisonradio.org 415-706-5222



Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

Lorenzo Speaks Concerning Prosecution's Brief:
JANUARY 1, 2015—The prosecutor has run away from (almost) every issue raised in my PCRA by begging the Court to dismiss everything as “untimely”. When they don’t do this, they suggest that me and my lawyers were “defamatory” towards either my former prosecutor Christopher Abruzzo or Detective Kevin Duffin, in our claims they withheld, misused or hid evidence of my Innocence, in order to secure an unjust conviction in this case. If I charged, a year ago, that about a dozen AGs (attorneys general) were involved in circulating porno via their office computers, people would’ve laughed at me, and seen me as crazy.

But, guess what? During 2014, we learned that this was the truth. How can it be defamatory to speak the truth? Notice the OAG (Office of Attorney General), never said the obvious: That AG Abruzzo didn’t inform the Defense about the relationship between his Motive Witness and his head detective (Victoria Doubs and Det. Duffin); that Det. Duffin doesn’t deny Doubs was his god-sister, and that she lived in his family home, or that he assisted her whenever she got into trouble.

Why not? Because it is true. How can you defame someone who defames himself? Mr. Christopher Abruzzo, Esq., when a member of the higher ranks of the OAG, sent and/or received copious amounts of porno to other attorneys general and beyond. What does this say about his sense of judgment? He thought enough about his behavior to resign from his post in the Governor’s Cabinet. If he thought that his behavior was okay, he’d still be sitting in the Governor’s cabinet, right? The OAG cannot honestly oppose anything we’ve argued, but they try by seeking to get the Court to do their dirty work, how? By denying an Evidentiary Hearing to prove every point we’ve claimed.

The prosecution is trying desperately to avoid dealing with the substance of my claims in Com. v. Lorenzo Johnson. So, they slander my Legal Team and blame them for defaming the good AG’s and Cops involved with this case. They try to do what is undeniable, to deny that they hid evidence from the Defense for years. They blamed me for daring to protest the hidden evidence of their malfeasance and other acts to sabotage the defense. They claim that they had an “Open File” policy with my trial counsel. But “Open File” is more than letting an attorney read something in their office. If it’s a search for the truth it must include what is turned over to the attorney, for how do we really know what was shown to her?

They say it is inconceivable that an attorney would read a file, beginning on page nine (9), and not ask for the preceding eight (8) pages. Yet, it is conceivable if trial counsel was ineffective for not demanding the record of the first eight pages. Pages that identify the State’s only witness as a “SUSPECT” in the murder for which her client was charged! How could such an attorney fail to recognize the relevance of such an issue, barring their sheer Ineffectiveness and frankly, Incompetence.

By seeking to avoid an evidentiary hearing, the prosecution seeks to avoid evidence of their wrongdoing being made plain, for all to see. If they believe I’m wrong, why not prove it? They can’t. So they shout I filed my appeal untimely, as if there can ever justly be a rule that precludes an innocent from proving his innocence! Not to mention the fact that the prosecution has failed to even mention the positive finger prints that ay my trial they said none existed. Don’t try to hide it with a lame argument about time. When isn’t there a time for truth? The prosecution should be ashamed of itself for taking this road. It is unworthy of an office that claims to seek justice.

After the trial verdict The Patriot-News (March 18, 1997) reported, “Deputy Attorney General Christopher Abruzzo admitted there were some serious concerns about the strength of the evidence against Johnson and praised the jury for doing a thorough job.” I guess he forgot to mention all of the evidence he left out to show Innocence.

Now, more than ever, Lorenzo Johnson needs your support.
Publicize his case; bring it to your friends, clubs, religious
and social organizations. 




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



Click HERE to view in browser
Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

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

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

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

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

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

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

For information on the decade long campaign to destroy Rev. Pinkney go to bhbanco.org and workers.org(search “Pinkney”).

We urge your support to the efforts to Free Rev. Pinkney!Ramsey Clark – Former U.S. attorney general,
Cynthia McKinney – Former member of U.S. Congress,
Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney
Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,
Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<
Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,
David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice
Sara Flounders – International Action Center


I am now in Marquette prison over 15 hours from wife and family, sitting in prison for a crime that was never committed. Judge Schrock and Mike Sepic both admitted there was no evidence against me but now I sit in prison facing 30 months. Schrock actually stated that he wanted to make an example out of me. (to scare Benton Harbor residents even more...) ONLY IN AMERICA. I now have an army to help fight Berrien County. When I arrived at Jackson state prison on Dec. 15, I met several hundred people from Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. Some people recognized me. There was an outstanding amount of support given by the prison inmates. When I was transported to Marquette Prison it took 2 days. The prisoners knew who I was. One of the guards looked me up on the internet and said, "who would believe Berrien County is this racist."  

New Court Date on 4 Motions for Rev. Pinkney 

TUES, FEB. 24 1pm Berrien County Court 

Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney

Michigan political prisoner the Rev. Edward Pinkney is a victim of racist injustice. He was sentenced to 30 months to 10 years for supposedly changing the dates on 5 signatures on a petition to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower.

No material or circumstantial evidence was presented at the trial that would implicate Pinkney in the purported5 felonies. Many believe that Pinkney, a Berrien County activist and leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), is being punished by local authorities for opposing the corporate plans of Whirlpool Corp, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

In 2012, Pinkney and BANCO led an “Occupy the PGA [Professional Golfers’ Association of America]” demonstration against a world-renowned golf tournament held at the newly created Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The course was carved out of Jean Klock Park, which had been donated to the city of Benton Harbor decades ago.

Berrien County officials were determined to defeat the recall campaign against Mayor Hightower, who opposed a program that would have taxed local corporations in order to create jobs and improve conditions in Benton Harbor, a majority African-American municipality. Like other Michigan cities, it has been devastated by widespread poverty and unemployment. 

The Benton Harbor corporate power structure has used similar fraudulent charges to stop past efforts to recall or vote out of office the racist white officials, from mayor, judges, prosecutors in a majority Black city. Rev Pinkney who always quotes scripture, as many Christian ministers do, was even convicted for quoting scripture in a newspaper column. This outrageous conviction was overturned on appeal. We must do this again!

To sign the petition in support of the Rev. Edward Pinkney, log on to: tinyurl.com/ps4lwyn.

Contributions for Rev. Pinkney’s defense can be sent to BANCO at Mrs Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Or you can donate on-line at bhbanco.org.




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

November 24, 2014 by the Chelsea Manning Support Network

Secretary of the Army John McHugh
President Obama has delegated review of Chelsea Manning’s clemency appeal to individuals within the Department of Defense.
Please write them to express your support for heroic WikiLeaks’ whistle-blower former US Army intelligence analyst PFC Chelsea Manning’s release from military prison.
It is important that each of these authorities realize the wide support that Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning enjoys worldwide. They need to be reminded that millions understand that Manning is a political prisoner, imprisoned for following her conscience. While it is highly unlikely that any of these individuals would independently move to release Manning, a reduction in Manning’s outrageous 35-year prison sentence is a possibility at this stage.
Take action TODAY – Write letters supporting Chelsea’s clemency petition to the following DoD authorities:
Secretary of the Army John McHugh
101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0101
The Judge Advocate General
2200 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-2200
Army Clemency and Parole Board
251 18th St, Suite 385
Arlington, VA 22202-3532
Directorate of Inmate Administration
Attn: Boards Branch
U.S. Disciplinary Barracks
1301 N. Warehouse Road
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304
Suggestions for letters send to DoD officials:
  • The letter should focus on your support for Chelsea Manning, and especially why you believe justice will be served if Chelsea Manning’s sentence is reduced.  The letter should NOT be anti-military as this will be unlikely to help
  • A suggested message: “Chelsea Manning has been punished enough for violating military regulations in the course of being true to her conscience.  I urge you to use your authorityto reduce Pvt. Manning’s sentence to time served.”  Beyond that general message, feel free to personalize the details as to why you believe Chelsea deserves clemency.
  • Consider composing your letter on personalized letterhead -you can create this yourself (here are templates and some tips for doing that).
  • A comment on this post will NOT be seen by DoD authorities–please send your letters to the addresses above
This clemency petition is separate from Chelsea Manning’s upcoming appeal before the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals next year, where Manning’s new attorney Nancy Hollander will have an opportunity to highlight the prosecution’s—and the trial judge’s—misconduct during last year’s trial at Ft. Meade, Maryland.
Help us continue to cover 100% of Chelsea’s legal fees at this critical stage!

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











1) Study Reveals Sad Link Between Poverty And Children's Brain Development



2) Prosecutors Scrutinize Minority Borrowers’ Auto Loans



3) 'Heart Over Hard': Thousands Protest Austerity in Brussels
Demonstrators call for Belgian government to tackle fraud and enact higher taxes on the rich
by Deirdre Fulton
Monday, March 30, 2015

Protesters in Brussels on Sunday. (Photo: Geertje Franssen/Hart boven Hard/Facebook)

For the second day in a row, thousands of demonstrators and trade union activists protested in the streets of Brussels on Monday, calling for an alternative to the Belgian government's austerity measures.

According to the Associated Press, those participating in Monday's rally "braved hail and winds as they demanded the right-wing government change course and make sure the brunt of the austerity is borne by the wealthy."

Calling for higher taxes on the rich, notably on capital gains, and tougher action to tackle fraud, the protesters specifically "targeted measures by the business-friendly government of Prime Minister Charles Michel such as cuts in public sector pay, the extension in working hours and restrictions to social services," AP reports.

Up to 7,000 people were expected to take place in strikes across the country Monday.

TeleSUR reports that the event was organized by the "social NGO Hart boven Hard," which translates to "Heart over Hard."

Monday's demonstration follows one that took place on Sunday, where an estimated 20,000 protesters from various cities rallied against social injustice.

As Press TV reported: "A number of the protesters shouted slogans like, 'Yes, there is an alternative'... They also called for a fair tax system and a better distribution of government spending." 



4) Mumia Abu-Jamal Taken to Hospital in Emergency, Surrounded by Guards; Family & Friends Denied Access
By Democracy Now!
31 March 15

mprisoned journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal has been taken to the Intensive Care Unit of Schuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, after he was removed from prison for a medical emergency without any notification to his family, friends or lawyers.

Abu-Jamal’s longtime friend Johanna Fernández said she only learned he had been transferred when she went to visit him Monday morning at SCI Mahanoy after worrying that he had sounded sick when the two spoke by phone last week.

"Upon arrival I was told I could not see him," Fernández told Democracy Now! "We were told he was in diabetic shock and taken to the hospital."

For the past three months Fernández says Abu-Jamal has complained of suffering from an "extreme eczema outbreak" and described his skin as "akin to that of an elephant’s."

"He tried to access whatever healthcare was available to him and it was woefully inadequate," said Noelle Hanrahan, producer of Prison Radio.

Abu-Jamal’s brother and next of kin, Keith Cook has traveled from North Carolina to Pottsville, but so far has been denied access.

Prison authorities say they refuse to comment on inmate medical conditions or hospitalizations, and a hospital official said he had no information about Abu-Jamal.

Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982 of killing of a Philadelphia police officer, but has long maintained his innocence and is one of the world’s most famous political prisoners.

Supporters say hospital staff has confirmed Abu-Jamal is in the ICU. They think he is being held in a private room that has the curtains drawn and is under armed guard. No updates have been given on his condition. They remain extremely concerned and are asking for people to call authorities and request that his family be allowed to see him.

"Taking prisoners to outside hospitals is not standard operating procedure," Hanrahan noted. "You have to be extraordinarily sick."



5) The Supreme Court’s Death Trap



6) Strikes in Argentina Bring Transportation to Standstill


7) Mumia Abu-Jamal In Critical Condition, Supporters Say He Is Being Tortured By Prison Officials
By April V. Taylor
April 3, 2015

After initially being denied access, the family of prominent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal has finally been able to visit him at Schuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville, Pennsylvania where he was rushed to after losing consciousness. Emails reveal that he was taken to the hospital, “Shackled to the bed, alone, and prevented from knowing that his family is close by he remains in intensive care. Prison officials and hospital officials when not spreading misinformation are denying Mumia’s family access to visits, while also denying the family and his lawyers any information or records about his condition.”

In a Facebook post by longtime friend Johanna Fernandez, Fernandez reports that Abu-Jamal’s wife and brother were each allowed to see him separately for 30 minutes. Fernandez points out that the visits were a result of international pressure from supporters and activists who flooded the phone lines of hospital and prison administration demanding Abu-Jamal’s family be allowed to visit him.

Fernandez also reports that Abu-Jamal’s blood sugar was dangerously high at 779 when he was rushed to the ICU in a state of diabetic shock. Diabetic coma occurs when the blood sugar reaches 800. Abu-Jamal’s blood sugar had reportedly come down to 333 as he recovered slowly.

Abu-Jamal had recently been under the care of prison medical staff for a case of eczema, and despite having “comprehensive” blood tests completed at least three times this year, no one was aware that Abu-Jamal had become diabetic. The lack of awareness by prison staff may have been a result of the fact that Abu-Jamal had been placed in solitary confinement for not being awake during a body count, where one of the first signs of diabetes, lethargy, was not noticed.

Fernandez also states that, “Mumia has been complaining about being ill since January. If he had gotten the proper care he needed originally, he would not be in this situation. This crisis illustrates the problem of health care in American prisons as a basic human rights violation. I am personally concerned because Phil Africa of the MOVE organization was rushed to the hospital not long ago in good health and a few days later he was dead. We need to fight to defend Mumia’s life, and that of all prisoners.”

Family, friends and supporters are demanding a review of his medical condition and treatment by outside doctors. Abu-Jamal was reportedly also being treated for a severe eczema outbreak that left his skin “raw, blistered and bloody,” and also caused his skin to swell and rupture after an adverse reaction to the medication he was given for the eczema outbreak.

Pam Africa, a fellow MOVE supporter, veteran activist and close associate of Abu-Jamal says that she is outraged by Abu-Jamal’s condition and treatment and that, “Prison officials are lying. Mumia is going through torture at the hands of the Department of Corrections through medical neglect. It is clear to people that they want to kill Mumia. They gave him the wrong medication which made his condition worse.”

Africa goes on to reveal, “Inmates on the inside who questioned what was happening have been subjected to direct retaliation by the superintendent. They have been moving concerned inmates out of Mumia’s unit in an effort to both bury and keep this critical information from the public.”

In addition to pointing out the suspicious circumstances around Africa’s death, supporters have also pointed out that Abu-Jamal was hospitalized the day a federal judge was set to hear an appeal against a law inspired by his address to Goddard College students for their commencement ceremony. The state of Pennsylvania ruled to allow victims of crimes to file injunctions against perpetrators who inflict “mental anguish,” in attempt to prevent Abu-Jamal and other political prisoners from being able to speak publicly.



8) Kean University Cancels Common’s Commencement Speech Because of ‘A Song for Assata’
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The rapper Common is not the most racially controversial artist in America.  In fact, some say he’s relatively mild mannered.  But even one old song about Assata Shakur is enough to brew racial tensions in a country that pretends that racism doesn’t exist.  The rapper was set to appear at Kean University to speak, but he’s now been told to go away after writing a song in support of Assata Shakur many years ago.  According to some officials, Shakur is simply a wanted “cop killer” who doesn’t deserve anyone’s support, let alone an artist like Common.
The campus is divided about the decision to push Common off campus.  Also, in recent years, many colleges campuses have become quite restrictive when it comes to freedom of speech, effectively banishing anyone sharing unpopular viewpoints.  It leads us to wonder what future exists for a country when people are not able to express dissent without having their views squashed by those who disagree with them.
Common, who recently said that black people should show a hand in love to white people when it comes to racism, was scheduled to give Kean’s commencement address next month—that was until someone came across his song “A Song for Assata.” On Monday the university announced that Common had been selected, but by Tuesday it had axed him.
Susan Kayne, a university spokeswoman, told The Record that the announcement was made prematurely.
“The students expressed interest in Common because he composed the Oscar-winning song ‘Glory’ with our prior commencement speaker John Legend,” Kayne said. “While we respect his talent, Kean is pursuing other speaker options.”
Apparently New Jersey State Police took issue with Common’s old song because of Shakur’s conviction for killing a New Jersey state trooper.

Chris Burgos, president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, said that having Common speak at the university would be a “slap in the face.”

“What is troubling here is that a state university that is subsidized with state taxpayer funds is once again being questioned on their decision-making at the highest levels,” Burgos said, according to The Record.

One has to wonder how Common feels about this. Maybe he should extend a hand in love to them and talk it out over a cup of Starbucks and #racetogether.



9) Alabama Man Freed After Decades on Death Row



10) Fidel Castro Appears in Public for First Time in 14 Months



11) Private Eyes in the Grocery Aisles


Mansour Samadpour makes his way through the supermarket like a detective working a crime scene, slow, watchful, up one aisle and down the next. A clerk mistakenly assumes that he needs help, but Mr. Samadpour brushes him off. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

He buys organic raspberries that might test positive for pesticides and a fillet of wild-caught fish that might be neither wild nor the species listed on the label. He buys beef and pork ground fresh at the market. He is disappointed that there is no caviar, which might turn out to be something cheaper than sturgeon roe. That’s an easy case to crack.

Civilian shoppers see food when they go to the market. Mr. Samadpour, the chief executive of IEH Laboratories (short for Institute for Environmental Health), sees mystery, if not downright fraud. On this visit, he is shopping for goods he can test at his labs to demonstrate to a reporter that what you see on market shelves may not be what you get.

While he’s out of the office, he receives a call and dispatches a team on a more pressing expedition: They need to buy various products that contain cumin, because a client just found possible evidence of peanuts, a powerful allergen, in a cumin-based spice mix. The client wants a definitive answer before someone gets sick.

Suppliers, manufacturers and markets depend on Mr. Samadpour’s network of labs to test food for inadvertent contamination and deliberate fraud, or to verify if a product is organic or free of genetically modified organisms. Consumers, the last link in the chain, bet their very health on responsible practices along the way.

The annual cost of food-borne illnesses in the United States is $14.1 billion to $16.3 billion, according to a 2013 analysis by the Agriculture Department. The federal government has called for a shift from reaction, which usually means a large recall after people have fallen ill or died, to prevention, to reduce the number of such episodes. Wary customers want their food to be safe and genuine, and food retailers, who rely on a global array of suppliers, are looking for ways to protect their brands.

Food testing sits at the intersection of those desires. Mr. Samadpour, who opened IEH’s first lab in 2001 with six employees, now employs over 1,500 people at 116 labs in the United States and Europe. He refers to his company, one of the largest of its kind in the country, as “a privately financed public health organization.”

The Promise of DNA Tests

The two low-slung wooden buildings that house IEH’s labs at its base in Seattle feel more like a high school chemistry lab than the center of a national food security network; there’s an acrid smell, and the counters are crammed with vials of various shapes and colors, centrifuge machines and lined notebooks full of data entries.

This is where analysts coax DNA out of a tiny sample of whatever is being tested. For lethal threats, like E. coli 0157 in ground beef, the detection process involves a grim recipe of ground beef and a broth infused with nutrients that E. coli likes to eat, put in a warm place to rest for 10 hours — at which point a single E. coli cell, if it exists, will have spawned one million easy-to-detect siblings. For fraud cases, the process is somewhat simpler; lab technicians run a DNA test or chemical analysis to confirm a sample’s identity.

Cheap technology has made this kind of testing possible. “Ten years ago, it would have taken millions of dollars to sequence a genome,” Mr. Samadpour says. “Now it takes $100. We do thousands a year.”

Business is booming — partly because IEH clients consider testing to be a gatekeeper defense in a multitiered food economy without borders. “We’re a lot more concerned about imports,” Mr. Samadpour says, because of “lack of accountability, lack of infrastructure, lack of a culture of food safety.” He says episodes like the 2008 discovery of the toxic chemical melamine in infant formula from China have contributed to a gradual shift in food manufacturers’ attitudes toward imports.

While the lab focuses primarily on safety issues like the cumin-and-peanut inquiry, there are enough fraud calls to support specialties among the lab technicians, like Kirthi Kutumbaka, referred to by his colleagues as “the emperor of fish” for his work on a seafood identification project. Once a fish is filleted, genetic testing is the only way to confirm its identity, making it a popular category for fraud.

IEH’s clients are primarily vendors who supply retailers and manufacturers, and they generally prefer to remain anonymous for fear of indicating to consumers that they have a specific worry about safety.

Costco is one of the retailers that use IEH’s services, and the company doesn’t mind talking about it.

“We have to inspect what we expect,” says Craig Wilson, the company’s vice president for quality assurance and food safety, meaning that products have to live up to their labels, particularly items in Costco’s own Kirkland Signature line.

Costco has a smaller margin of error than most food retailers; the company stocks only about 3,500 so-called S.K.U.s, or stock keeping units, while most retailers offer as many as 150,000. A single misstep is a far greater percentage of the whole. That’s why, in addition to retaining IEH, it operates its own 20-person testing lab.

“We’re not typical,” Mr. Wilson says. “We have one ketchup, one mayonnaise, one can of olives, Kirkland Signature olive oils and a couple of others.” Since 2003, the United States Department of Agriculture has required the testing of beef used for ground beef, resulting in a 40 percent reduction in cases of E. coli traced to beef consumption. Costco, which processes 600,000 to 700,000 pounds of ground beef daily, does extensive micro-sampling of the meat at its California facility, Mr. Wilson says.

The company expects its suppliers to absorb testing costs and gets no resistance, given the size of the resulting orders. Costco sells 157,000 rotisserie chickens a day. As Mr. Wilson put it: “If vendors get a bill for a couple hundred bucks on a $1 million order, who cares? They don’t.”

The sheer volume also enables Costco to demand action when there is a problem. After a 2006 outbreak of E. coli tied to Earthbound Farm’s ready-to-eat bagged spinach, in which three people died and more than 200 became ill, Mr. Wilson, one of Earthbound’s customers, instituted what he calls a “bag and hold” program for all of Costco’s fresh greens suppliers. He required the suppliers to test their produce and not ship it until they had the results of the tests.

Earthbound responded to the outbreak with a “multihurdle program that places as many barriers to food-borne illness as we can,” says Gary Thomas, the company’s senior vice president for integrated supply chain. Earthbound now conducts 200,000 tests annually on its ready-to-eat greens.

Not everyone was as quick to embrace change; some growers were concerned about losing shelf life while they waited for results. Mr. Wilson was unmoved by that argument. “If you can test and verify microbial safety, what do I care if I lose shelf life?” he says.

The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, intended to improve food safety practices, has been mired in missed deadlines, which have been attributed to food-industry concerns about overregulation and to an unrealistic timeline given the scope of the overhaul. The delays led to a lawsuit by the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health, two advocacy groups. The F.D.A. and the Office of Management and Budget now operate under a court-ordered schedule that requires regulations to be issued in late 2015 and 2016.

The F.D.A. currently stops short of requiring produce tests, although it conducts its own “surveillance sampling,” according to Juli Putnam, an agency spokeswoman. The agency sees two drawbacks to mandatory tests: “A negative product test result does not necessarily indicate the absence of a hazard,” Ms. Putnam wrote in an email, because contamination might show up in another part of a field, and conducting more tests would increase the costs that are passed on to the consumer.

The agency is focused instead on defining minimum safety standards for “potential sources of microbiological contamination such as agricultural water, worker health and hygiene and animals in the growing area,” she wrote (though some preventive testing is conducted on sprouts).

Mr. Wilson says he uses government guidelines “as a minimum standard, and I always try to go above and beyond that.”

DNATrek, a newcomer to the field, sees opportunity in another aspect of food safety testing: the need to quickly pinpoint the source of a pathogen outbreak, to avoid delays and unnecessarily broad recalls. Anthony Zografos, the company’s chief executive, says it soon plans to introduce a test called DNATrax, which will be able to identify the source of contaminated produce within an hour, narrowing recall efforts “to a specific field or packer or distributor.” The test relies on tracer DNA that is dissolved in the liquid coating applied to many types of produce after harvest or added to prepared foods; it provides a unique genetic fingerprint.

George Farquar, a chemist and Mr. Zografos’s partner in the company, was looking for ways to trace airborne contaminants as part of a national security project financed by the Defense Department when he realized that the work could be applied to food safety. He and Mr. Zografos licensed the technology from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he was conducting the research, and it will receive royalties from sales of the test. Mr. Zografos says that DNATrax will offer traceability for most types of field produce at a price of about $1 for 1,000 pounds.

Tracking Down Fraud

Food safety is a yes-or-no proposition — either there is a contaminant or there isn’t. Food fraud, a smaller segment of the universe of problem foods, is harder to detect because it can take so many forms. Fish from a country whose imports have been banned might arrive at the market labeled with a different country of origin, honey might be cut with cheaper extenders, and saffron might not even be saffron.

When asked if fake food has ever crossed the threshold at Costco, Mr. Wilson smiles and says, “I’m going to go with ‘no,’ but you’re not going to believe me entirely. Yes, there have been egregious things, and we’ve taken care of them, and that’s that.”

Olive oil is a popular target for fraud because there are several ways to charge more for less. Compliance with United States Department of Agriculture quality standards for extra-virgin olive oil is voluntary. Unless a supplier pays for testing, passes and puts a U.S.D.A.-certified sticker on the bottle, consumers have no way to know whether they got extra-virgin olive oil. Any grade of olive oil can be doctored with cheap filler oils like canola, because they have no flavor. And the country of origin listed on the label isn’t always where the contents are from.

About five years ago, Mr. Wilson decided it was time to send an employee to Tuscany to collect leaves from Tuscan olive trees. Costco now has an index of DNA information on “all the cultivars of Tuscan olive oil, about 16 different ones,” he says. “When they harvest and press, we do our DNA testing.”

A group of undergraduates at the University of California, Davis, has developed the OliView, a biosensor that can detect rancid or adulterated olive oil. They expect to have the device ready for sale, at $60 to $80, in 18 months to two years. “At the supermarket level, we found that a lot of times the oil was just old and rancid,” says Selina Wang, research director at the U.C. Davis Olive Center and one of the students’ advisers, “but there were also samples labeled extra virgin that were actually a little bit of virgin olive oil mixed with refined olive oil.”

Adulterated oil, more common among imports, can stump even food professionals. Ms. Wang says that at the center, they “have seen samples with as much as 70 percent canola oil.”

DNATrek has also developed a test for products where fraud is a temptation — “high-value stuff, truffles, saffron, premium juices, honey, seafood and olive oil,” Mr. Zografos says.

Mr. Samadpour says that in multi-ingredient products, the source of trickery is usually hidden further down the food chain than the name on the package. “It’s not the top people who get involved in economic adulteration,” he says. “It’s someone lower down who sees a way to save a penny here or there. Maybe it’s 2 or 3 cents, but if you sell a million units, that’s $20,000 to $30,000.”

Consumer Vigilance

As with most expanding technologies, there are believers and skeptics. David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology at the 111-year-old United Fresh Produce Association, echoes the position of the Food and Drug Administration: Testing is not a sufficient answer for his members, who include anyone engaged in the fresh produce industry, “from guys who come up with seeds to growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, restaurants and grocery stores, everyone from beginning to end,” from small organic farms to Monsanto.

Their common ground, he says, is a commitment to food safety — but members disagree on how to achieve it, including Mr. Gombas and Mr. Samadpour, who are both microbiologists. “Microbiological testing provides a false sense of security,” Mr. Gombas says. “They can find one dead salmonella cell on a watermelon, but what does that tell you about the rest of the watermelon in the field? Nothing.”

Testing has its place, he says, but as backup for “good practices and environmental monitoring,” which includes things as diverse as employee hygiene and site visits. “I’m a fan of testing,” he says, “if something funny’s going on.” Otherwise, he has taken on the role of contrarian. “People think testing means something. When I say it doesn’t, they smile, nod and keep testing.”

Mr. Samadpour says sampling “can reduce the risk tremendously but can never 100 percent eliminate it,” but he will take a tremendous reduction over a food crisis any day. The government’s “indirect” stance, which mandates safety but does not require testing, allows companies to interpret safe practices on “a spectrum,” he says, “from bare minimum to sophisticated programs,” and he worries about safety at the low end of that range.

He says consumer vigilance is the best defense against the selling of groceries under bare minimum standards.

IEH tested the contents of Mr. Samadpour’s grocery cart:

The organic raspberries showed 0.12 parts per million of spinosyn A, an insecticide with a tolerance limit of 0.035 p.p.m. on organic crops and 0.7 p.p.m on nonorganic berries. Mr. Samadpour assumed that was the result of an errant breeze from a nearby nonorganic field.

The beef and pork were cross-contaminated — each had amounts of the other — a common occurrence, he says, when markets grind first one batch of meat and then the other. These were small amounts as well, but their presence could upset a Muslim or Jewish customer who does not eat pork, or a Hindu who does not eat beef. The fish was what the label said it was.

As for the cumin and the peanuts, the F.D.A. posted a handful of product recalls, all of them involving cumin and peanuts, including Kellogg’s MorningStar Farms chipotle black bean burgers, which Mr. Wilson removed from Costco’s shelves.

The recalls continued for weeks, until the F.D.A. issued a blanket statement “advising people who are highly allergic to peanuts to consider avoiding products that contain ground cumin or cumin powder, because some shipments of these products have tested positive for undeclared peanut protein. People who are highly allergic or sensitive to peanuts may be at risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction.”

Inside the labs, reaction was more world-weary than panicked; this was business as usual.

“Other than the label somebody’s written,” Mr. Farquar says, “you really have no idea where your food’s coming from.”

Mr. Samadpour, having been at this far longer, is more philosophical. “I eat street food when I travel,” he says. “One can’t become a microbe-phobe.”



12) Bronx Teenager Who Fell From Roof While Fleeing the Police Dies



13) Transgender Woman Cites Attacks and Abuse in Men’s Prison



14) McDonald’s Workers, Vowing a Fight, Say Raises Are Too Little for Too Few



15) Boeing and Delta Spend Millions in Fight Over Export-Import Bank’s Existence


16) Food Safety Law’s Funding Is Far Below Estimated Requirement



































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