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Prison Activist Gassed in Clements Unit Prison, Texas Law Enforcement Is Violently Out of ControlOn Wednesday, December 21, 2016, a prisoner at the Texas Clements Unit, Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, was gassed in his cell while handcuffed from behind. A letter written by Mr. Johnson to a supporter, dated December 22, 2016, reported that his gassing was “all retaliation for my involvement in exposing the foul abuses here." Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is a well-known scholar and prison activist who has dedicated his efforts to exposing the civil and environmental injustices behind bars. His most recent letter also reads: “I'm in a gas-covered cell now. The law requires that they decontaminate a prisoner and his cell anytime they spray gas on him/her. They refused in my case. My sheets and bedding are covered in bright orange gas, underwear too, as is the cell wall." According to the supporter who received Rashid’s letter, she could smell the toxic gas as soon as she opened the envelope. The vicious treatment of Mr. Johnson is part of a clear pattern. There is evidently a culture among prison staff that encourages such sadistic behavior. What they have done and continue to do -- both to Mr. Johnson and to thousands of other victims -- constitutes a clear violation of basic human rights. A signed statement from prison guard Britta Townsend corroborates that Mr. Johnson was confined to a gassed cell that was not decontaminated and forced to sleep with sheets covered with the bright orange gas. According to Mr. Johnson, Ms. Townsend now fears that she will be targeted by her peers and higher ranking officers.
Unsafe Drinking/Bathing Water in Pennsylvania PrisonsAt SCI-Mahanoy, prisoners are allowed only three small cups of clean water throughout to day to drink with meals. This is about one-eighth of the daily water intake recommended by health professionals. This water crisis is a hazard to the health and safety of all Pennsylvania prisoners. It is particularly dangerous for those prisoners living with already existing, untreated health problems. More than 6,000 prisoners in the state have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, yet have been refused treatment by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Please call: John Wetzel Department of Corrections Secretary 717-728-4109 Tom Wolfe Governor of Pennsylvania 717-787-2500 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) 800-438-2474 Talking Points • There are reports of visibly brown, smelly water that is undrinkable at SCI-Mahanoy and SCI-Frackville. • This water crisis is a hazard to the health and safety of all PA prisoners. Requests • IMMEDIATELY investigate these reports. • Give all prisoners a daily supply of bottled water immediately for drinking. • Give prisoners access to clean water for showering and personal use.
DNC: Encourage Clinton to step down so Sanders can defeat TrumpDonald Trump appears more and more likely to win the U.S. Presidential election in November if Clinton continues to be the Democratic nominee. A President Trump would threaten the future of our planet. He does not comprehend the dangers of climate change, nuclear war or economic injustice, and his rhetoric on race and religion is already stirring up civil unrest. Yet he continues to improve in the polls and is raising significant amounts of money from his solid base of grassroots supporters. He is a serious contender and we dismiss him and his supporters at our own peril. Hillary Clinton, while obviously the more experienced and competent candidate, is not well-positioned to defeat Trump. The American people are not enthusiastic about Clinton and have given her record-high “untrustworthy” numbers in opinion polls. They worry that she is not being honest about her health. She continues to be the subject of various investigations and email leaks, which are at a minimum an embarrassment to her campaign, and which have the potential to lead to criminal charges. Clinton also continues to use bad judgment on the campaign trail, where she is alienating large numbers of the voters she desperately needs in order to win. Many decent Americans are so tired of establishment politicians that they are thinking about voting for Trump simply to show their level of anger and frustration. They seem quite willing to vote “against their own interests” if it means that they will also hurt those at the top. It is not clear whether these people are admitting their support for Trump to pollsters, which means that Trump could already be further ahead than the polls indicate. We need to remember what happened recently in the UK during the Brexit vote. Our only hope for defeating Donald Trump in November is to bring back Bernie Sanders as the Democratic Party nominee. Sanders is seen by the public as an outsider and a fighter (qualities people admire in Donald Trump) but he is also seen as someone of unquestionable integrity. Sanders has extremely high favorabilities overall, and particularly among all the demographics where Hillary Clinton is weak: millennials, independents, and white working-class men. Sanders can beat Trump easily. He polled very strongly against Donald Trump in July, and since that time his popularity in the country has only increased, to the point where he is even more popular than Michelle Obama. In order for Bernie Sanders to return to the campaign and defeat Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has to voluntarily drop out of the race. We urge her and beg her to do so, for the good of her country and the planet. Our very survival as a species could depend on this selfless and noble act from her. In addition, in order to defeat Trump convincingly, the Democratic Party would have to replace Clinton with their strongest candidate against Trump, Bernie Sanders. Bernie won 23 states and 13 million votes during the Democratic primary, and has proven that he has great appeal among Independents and that he can mobilize strong grassroots funding and draw huge crowds. We urge the DNC not to replace Clinton with another establishment candidate who also might lose to Trump. We urge the DNC to give the Democratic nomination to Bernie Sanders, and work with Sanders to pick a VP candidate (for example, Joe Biden) who would satisfy centrist and establishment elements within the party. In November, America needs to reject Donald Trump soundly at the polls, so that there is no question of a rigged election. Americans need to be motivated to turn out to vote, and to vote for as many down-ballot Democrats and progressives as possible. America needs to step up and take an active leadership role on issues such as renewable energy and climate change, economic justice, healthcare, education, fair trade, diplomacy and immigration. With cooperation and support from Hillary Clinton and the DNC, we can place Bernie Sanders at the top of the Democratic ticket and achieve all these goals. We can do this, and we MUST. Our future, our children and our grandchildren are depending on it. Thank you for your consideration.
Replace US Two-Party Election System With Ranked VotingPractically speaking, the US is stuck in a two-party system of Republicans and Democrats. This system frequently results in having two candidates who both have very low levels of overall public support. Currently, supporters of non-mainstream political parties (e.g. Green, Independent, Libertarian) can't realistically vote for their own candidates because they are sabotaging the final election by taking votes away from either the Republican or the Democratic candidates. For example, a liberal Green party supporter would assist the conservative cause by removing a vote for a Democratic liberal candidate. They would actually increase their chance of getting their last-choice candidate by voting for their first-choice candidate. The same is true in reverse for a conservative voter. Being able to vote for only two candidates artificially polarizes many issues, reduces the possibility of introducing innovative ideas, and encourages both candidates to move towards centrist, status quo policies. Regardless of whether you are a Bernie supporter, right-wing evangelical, environmentalist, etc, you should be supporting a shift to a ranked voting system that lets you vote based on your beliefs, not based on fear of getting the worse of two candidates you don't want. Ranked-voting is used successfully by many other countries including Australia and is much more democratic than the current US system. If we had a ranked-voting system in the US during the 2016 elections it is less likely that Trump would have come out as the top republican candidate, and Bernie would realistically have been able to run as third-party candidate and stand a real chance of winning. In short, moving the US to a ranked-voting system will give us a foundation for more representative and innovative government in future elections.
Summer Heat Serves Texas Prisoners an Early Death SentenceIn the recent summer months, an unreleased number of heat-related deaths have taken place throughout Texas state prisons. With internal temperatures reportedly reaching up to 140 degrees on some days and only 30 of the 109 Texas state prisons having facility-wide air-conditioning, a number of incarcerated men and women have died by means of heat stroke, asthma attacks, extreme dehydration, and various other heat-related illnesses. “Prisoners look upon the summer months in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) with dread and trepidation. For one is acutely aware that one may not survive another summer. Many do not.” -- Benny Hernandez, Price Daniel Unit, Dallas, Texas The Texas Department of Criminal Justice houses more than 146,000 inmates and is currently in the middle of a lawsuit over what many prisoners and prison activists have described as "deadly heat" in its facilities. Instead of making plans to install central-air systems inside of the prisons, TDCJ officials have taken steps to minimize costs and accountability by placing fans in common areas and increasing ice distribution throughout the day. “Prison guards are suffering also. They too are exposed to the deadly extreme heat, which causes tension and conflict between guards and inmates.” -- Keith “Malik” Washington, H. H. Coffield Unit, Tennessee Colony, Texas At the Wallace Pack Unit in Navasota, Texas, prisoners have to choose between drinking water contaminated with dangerous levels of arsenic or becoming dehydrated because of the extreme summer heat. Despite widespread knowledge of the cancer-causing pollutants, prison officials have continued to encourage inmates to drink at least two gallons a day. Those who are aware of the dangerous water situation try their best to drink bottled water only, when available at commissary. “It routinely feels as if one’s sitting in a convection oven being slowly cooked alive.” -- Benny Hernandez, Price Daniel Unit, Dallas, Texas This attitude of reckless indifference exhibited by prison authorities and Texas officials is a violation of basic human rights as well as the 8th constitutional amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Sign this petition demanding that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice immediately enforce the guidelines of the Texas Prisoners’ Civil Rights Manual by implementing air-conditioning systems throughout all housing units in Texas state prisons and enforcing maximum temperature guidelines. Deadly Heat in U.S. Prisons is Killing Inmates and Spawning Lawsuits: https://theintercept.com/2016/08/24/deadly-heat-in-u-s-prisons-is-killing-inmates-and-spawning-lawsuits/
Prisoners in Namibia Need Water -- And You Can HelpContinuous efforts to cut back on water waste has turned into a political battle over water access in Namibia's Windhoek Central Prison, located near the center of the sub-Saharan desert. In late 2015, experts discovered multiple underground pipe-leaks throughout the prison's water system. About 70% of the water traveling through the prison each day is wasted due to these pipe-leaks. The Windhoek city government is traditionally responsible for paying for water services at the prison. Since the discovery of the underground pipe-leaks, the Windhoek city government has repeatedly asked the Namibian Correctional Service to fix the pipes at Windhoek Central Prison. Namibian prison officials, however, claim that there are no funds to do so. The city government has since limited the amount of water routed to Windhoek Central Prison, and on one occasion, completely shut off the prison's water supply until forced by the municipal court to turn it back on. Still, no resolution or plan of action has been made by city or prison officials. In reality, the only people physically affected by this petty political battle are the 3,500 Namibian prisoners who are in constant fear of waking up to no water. You can help them by signing this petition.
Reform the Olympics to be true to its authentic past!This would be congruent with the historic past when Greek city states would cease war making to gather for athletic competitions. It would empower the current Olympic Committee Members to incentivise justice and peace for governments of the world to be able to participate in Olympic Competition. Truly ruling bodies (the International Olympic Committee) MUST use their rule making authority to promote the betterment of their constituencies, as did the track and field governing body regarding anti-doping enforcement.