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Bring Foreign Policy Coverage to MSNBCWith the U.S. engaged in endless wars that are draining so much of our nation’s resources, the American public deserves constant reporting and robust debate on a wide range of foreign policy issues. Unfortunately, MSNBC is not providing that. We are finding that, with the obsessive concentration of MSNBC on Donald Trump and his relationship with Russia, coverage of other critical foreign policy issues has disappeared from MSNBC. A group of us representing peace organizations would like to have a meeting with you or senior members of your network to talk about this. A recent Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) article describes MSNBC’s systematic avoidance of reportage on the gargantuan human tragedy of the war in Yemen, a war that could not be waged without U.S. support. The report also criticizes MSNBC’’s devotion to commentary by “ex-spook and military contractor-funded talking heads.” MSNBC’s suppression of reporting on foreign policy and war is not limited to Yemen but includes the Middle East in general. An example of the suppression of Middle East reporting is the failure of Chris Hayes, or any member of his staff, to respond to registered mail, email, Twitter and phone requests, or an online petition, urging that Medea Benjamin be included among commentators on his show “All In with Chris Hayes.” Ms. Benjamin, co-founder of the citizen action group CODEPINK, has travelled extensively in the Middle East, and is the author of Inside Iran: The Real History of Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection and Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Mr. Hayes runs a podcast that he advertises as covering important issues in depth that he does not have time for on his cable show, but he has covered no foreign policy issue on his podcast since he launched it in May, 2018. Mr. Lack, you have overseen an advertising campaign for MSNBC that has attempted to attract an audience concerned with human rights and civil liberties. Your suppression of thorough and accurate foreign affairs and war reporting is a profound disservice to this audience, which is prone to acting on conscience. U.S. military actions are killing and terrorizing vast numbers of people in the 76 nations in which, according to the Costs of War Project, the U.S. is now conducting some form of military operations. The American public must know about these operations and MSNBC has a responsibility to educate the public. Thank you for your consideration. We can be reached at email@example.com
#SaveChristopherYoungIn 2006, 21-year-old Christopher Young was sentenced to death for the 2004 murder of 55-year-old convenience store owner Hasmukhbhai “Hash” Patel. In his 12 years of incarceration, Chris has transformed himself into a thoughtful, peaceful man with a desire to help others. He has committed his final moments to sharing his story of transformation and asking for clemency from death. You can read/watch his story here: http://lawatthemargins.com/death-row-saved-my-life/ “I’m truly sorry for the crime I committed. There’s nothing I can do to bring back Mr. Hash Patel. If I knew taking my life would do that, I’d volunteer for it without any complaints. But that’s not going to do it. I can teach others to think about their actions. I’m sure I can stop something like this from happening again.” – 32-year-old Christopher Young, June 2018 Young’s attorneys are challenging the conviction itself and seeking a new trial based on what they consider a violation of his rights under the “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment and “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Chris’ lawyers claim that religious discrimination occurred during the jury selection process of his trial, and in 2016 over 500 religious leaders signed a statement saying he deserved a new trial. “Unfortunately, the state court issued a ruling saying it is acceptable to exclude someone from serving as a juror in a death penalty trial merely because of the church that person belongs to,” said David R. Dow, Young’s attorney. “We hope the Supreme Court will agree to review the case and reaffirm that our Constitution and our nation’s commitment to religious liberty means that an individual’s membership in a church does not automatically disqualify that person from acting as a juror.” Sadly, the United States Supreme Court turned down Young’s latest appeal in January 2018. In his final days, he seeks clemency. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has the power to recommend clemency. Together, we must send a strong message to the members of the board and to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (who can accept or reject the board's recommendation) that Chris deserves mercy. Take action today to save Christopher Young’s life. Sign the petition.
Pass the Equality Act to Protect LGBTQ Americans from DiscriminationWhile the groundbreaking Marriage Equality Act expanded marital protections for LGBTQ people in 2015, there is still much to be done to ensure non-discrimination protections and equal treatment under the law. Federal law and the majority of states lack explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people at work, at school, and elsewhere, leaving them vulnerable to discrimination. In other words, a person can be fired from their job, evicted from their home, denied access to housing, credit, loans, hotel services, and even jury duty on the strict basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other key federal non-discrimination laws to provide clear, explicit federal protection against discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, credit, federally funded programs (including education), and federal jury service. The bill would provide clear, explicit federal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the following six areas: ● Employment: The Equality Act would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and in the workplace. ● Federally funded programs and activities: Any program that receives federal funds would be prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This provision would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination by institutions that receive federal funds – including schools, hospitals, domestic violence shelters, and police departments. ● Housing: The Equality Act provides explicit protections for LGBTQ people against housing discrimination. ● Public Spaces and Services: LGBTQ people would be protected from discrimination in “public accommodations,” including stores, restaurants, hotels, transportation, and healthcare services. ● Banks and Credit: The Equality Act would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in credit, financing, and lending. ● Federal Jury Service: The Equality Act would explicitly prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in selecting federal juries. All LGBTQ Americans deserve a fair chance to live, love and provide for their families without the burden of legalized discrimination. This bill will help ensure that no one is fired, evicted from their home, or denied basic services because of who they are or whom they love. Urge your members of Congress to support this critical piece of legislation. H.R. 2282, The Equality Act https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2282?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22Equality+Act%22%5D%7D&r=1 Human Rights Campaign: Why the Equality Act? https://www.hrc.org/resources/why-the-equality-act
Support OperationPUSHJanuary 15 marked the beginning of a month-long work stoppage organized by prisoners throughout the Florida Department of Corrections demanding an immediate end to unpaid labor and inhumane working conditions at their facilities. The strike, announced in late December, aims to force corrections officials to pay prison laborers monetary compensation for their work as opposed to “the current slave arrangement,” in which they are paid in time deducted from their sentences. In written statements to news media, the strikers have also demanded increased access to parole, cheaper and more reasonable prices for basic food and hygiene items, voting rights for former felons, and an end to prison-guard brutality. The organized strike began on Martin Luther King Jr. Day — and is named #OperationPUSH, after civil rights leader Jesse Jackson’s 1970s-1990s campaign to improve economic conditions for African Americans. Almost a third of Florida inmates are black, compared with fewer than 17% in the general population. Florida has the nation’s third-largest prison system in the United States, with 97,000 inmates. Prison work inside Florida correctional facilities consists of doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, maintaining the facilities, and even growing food for the inmate population. Before the strike began, one organizer wrote that “[the strike’s] goal is to make the Governor realize that it will cost the state of Florida millions of dollars daily to contract outside companies to come and cook, clean, and handle the maintenance, [which] will cause a total breakdown." Outside of the prison, incarcerated laborers work in “community work squads,” providing free labor to state offices such as the Department of Transportation, the Division of Forestry, and the Department of Environmental Protection. According report by the FDOC, “community work squads” worked over 3.15 million hours in 2017 alone and saved the state more than $38 million in payroll expenses, including flooding and debris cleanup work after Hurricane Irma. Ironically, these same incarcerated workers are barred from employment at the state-level upon release, due to their criminal records. Another incarcerated organizer wrote that Florida prisoners “want to create an environment where someone can do their time, be rehabilitated, and enter into society with some type of hope…that would be helpful for society instead of creating a revolving door where you lock people up and just set them up for failure so that they keep coming back.” In fear of retaliation, these organizers have asked to remain anonymous. One week into the month-long work stoppage, internal sources have reported the participation of strikers in at least eight different Florida facilities in the FDOC. Internal sources have reported that many of these strikers have been placed into solitary confinement by correctional officials. In solidarity with prisoners, marches and protests have been organized throughout the state, and more than 135 civil rights and activist groups, including local chapters of the NAACP and the Florida Women's March, have voiced their support for #OperationPUSH. At a speech at Florida State University, civil rights leader Angela Davis said there is "no better way to keep the legacy of Dr. King alive than by supporting the prisoners' strike." Will you sign the petition to support #OperationPUSH and to demand an immediate end to unpaid labor and inhumane work conditions in Florida prisons? Sources: Movement Against Prison Slavery Ramps Up With OperationPUSH in Florida https://shadowproof.com/2018/01/11/operation-push-movement-against-prison-slavery-florida/ Florida Prisoners Set to Strike January 15th Against Prison Slavery https://itsgoingdown.org/florida-prisoners-set-strike-january-15th-prison-slavery/ Striking Florida Prisoners Thrown in Solitary Confinement, Activists Say http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/striking-operationpush-florida-prisioners-placed-in-solitary-activists-say-10006900
Protect Bethesda African CemeteryThis community built the main thoroughfares in the county. It manufactured building materials and provided the manpower building the bunker under the White House. By around the 1850s free Africans owned property in Bethesda but were confined to a small area by covenants preventing them and Jews from living elsewhere. A community once thrived there. That history has been erased, but needs to be preserved. A museum could provide the archive for that history as well as serve as the vehicle for conveying the story to future generations. Washington Post death notices, County plat and plot maps, oral histories, aerial photos and other historic materials substantiate the existence and location of the cemetery. No documentation of bodies being disinterred has ever been produced. Currently there is a Sector Plan that seeks to place a parking garage and housing units on top of what is now a parking lot that was placed on top of the African Cemetery (allegedly at least in part to prevent erosion from exposing the remains). History of the enslavement of Africans is American history. More importantly, the triumph of Africans against enslavement in a living museum and memorial will be an ongoing testament to these people, their heritage and their legacy.
Empire State Realty Trust: Stop Price Gouging NYC's WBAI Pacifica Radio and Profiteering off 9/11/01My son, police officer John W. Perry, was killed on 9/11/2001 while attempting to save a woman’s life when the South Tower collapsed on him and countless others that horrific day. The pain and impact of 9/11 were felt by local businesses and people throughout the New York City area. One of those impacts was that your property, the Empire State Building, became one of the few places for local TV and Radio to transmit from since all antennas on the Twin Towers were destroyed. One of those stations, Pacifica's WBAI, has been part of the fabric of our great city for decades and now is on the verge of shutting down because you continue to price gouge and take advantage of the station by repeatedly jacking up the monthly lease payments. You took advantage of this when WBAI's antenna tower lease was renewed in 2005 by making the license fees under the lease increase by more than four times the rate of inflation. That is unconscionable. WBAI management went to Empire State Realty Trust three years ago, asking that you accept the market rate for antenna tower leases because WBAI could not afford the large annual increase in payments in the lease, but never got an answer. This station has always been one of the feelings of pride of our city and beyond - providing a platform for our local elected officials and NYC’s best and brightest. For decades, WBAI has fearlessly served the public with independent news, music, and public affairs that other stations won't let you hear. My son did not risk his life for you and Empire State Realty Trust to profit off of it. It is not the New York Way. Sincerely, Patricia J. Perry, Seaford, New York
Close the Disgraceful California Rehabilitation Center in Riverside CountySign this petition to ask California Governor Jerry Brown to shut down California Rehabilitation Center at Norco in Riverside County. A recent report from the California State Department of Public Health revealed shocking conditions at CRC-Norco, a medium-security state prison. This prison houses an astonishing 3,400 prisoners in unsafe and unsanitary conditions that include broken floor tiles, rat and cockroach infestations, and standing pools of water. With a population capacity of 2,491 people, the facility is both overcrowded and structurally neglected. "CRC-Norco is dilapidated and unsafe…. We have known for years that this prison is in terrible shape," said California State Senator Loni Hancock. In 2012, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation publicly acknowledged the unsafe conditions at CRC-Norco and set forth a plan to close the facility by June 2016. One year later, however, prison administrators suspended the deadline, stating that a federal court order to ease crowding in California’s already overcrowded prisons mandated the CDCR to keep the facility open until further notice. That decision was reaffirmed in January 2016 when Governor Brown released the CDCR budget proposal for the 2016-17 cycle, which reflected an extended continuation of operations at CRC-Norco. It is unconscionable for Governor Brown and prison officials at the CDCR to continue to house incarcerated people at a facility that is publicly known to be infested with vermin and structurally unsafe. Keeping the prison open and operating creates a host of health and safety hazards for both the inmates and employees. In addition, it reflects an extraordinary disregard for the human rights of the 3,400 people who are forced to live at the overcrowded, decaying facility. CRC-Norco should be shut down immediately.
Impeach Trump and Republican agendaTrump will not release his tax returns. Trump refuses to divest himself of his vast business interests. That creates obvious conflicts of interest, especially when it come to overseas matters. That is forbidden under Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution and is grounds for impeachment. Trump should not be allowed to enrich himself and his family through sweetheart deals. Need I say more?
Stop Transport of Highly Radioactive Liquids from Chalk River, Canada, to Savannah River Site, SCThe federal government has secretly been working on a plan to transport highly radioactive liquid from Chalk River, Ontario, Canada, to the Savannah River Site in Aiken, SC -- a distance of over 1,100 miles. A series of 250 truckloads are planned by the Department of Energy (DOE). Interstates 95 and 85 are two of the probable main routes. Based on published data of the US Environmental Protection Agency, a few ounces of this liquid could destroy a whole city water supply. These liquid shipments are unnecessary. The radioactive waste can be down-blended on-site, making it into a solid. This has been done for years at Chalk River. Records from the past are very clear about this liquid and how it should be managed. The report "Detailed Statement on the Environmental Considerations By the Division of Material Licensing, US Atomic Energy Commission" (December 14, 1970) -- which has within it Allied General's application for the Barnwell Nuclear Fuel Plant (Docket No. 50-332) -- describes the waste generated at that facility, and describes how to manage the waste. I knew of this report because of the successful legal challenge to this facility in the 1970s in which I participated. Here is the outline of the criteria needed: * Ensure absolute confinement of HLLW by multiple barriers (HLLW - "high level liquid waste") * Ensure cooling to remove self-generating fission product heat by redundant cooling systems * Provide adequate space in storage tank... * Control corrosion by appropriate design and operating measures * Control non-condensable gases and airborne particulates, including radiolytic hydrogen H2 * Store in form to facilitate future solidification A majority of these are not possible during transport. In addition, when this is repeated 250 times, just a small error, human or equipment, could be disastrous. And errors are to be expected. For example, in the first shipment (and only so far), they had a hot spot in the transport container, and at the Savannah River Site had to turn it around to face the wall, supposedly so as not to expose the workers. Mary Olson of Nuclear Information Resource Service, one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against these shipments, explains that "even without any leakage of the contents, people will be exposed to penetrating gamma radiation and damaging neutron radiation just by sitting in traffic beside one of these transport trucks. And because the liquid contains weapons-grade uranium, there is an ever-present possibility of a spontaneous chain reaction giving off a powerful blast of life-threatening neutrons in all directions -- a so-called 'criticality' accident." Despite the lawsuit, despite all the letters, despite email, despite petitions, from thousands of concerned citizens, the DOE claims the impact is "insignificant." Although the law requires it, the DOE has not done an Environmental Impact Statement. There has been a limited amount of news coverage; therefore, many people who would be affected by an accident do not know that this is happening. This needs to be stopped. Please ask the Governor to keep these shipments out of the state. Ruth Thomas Environmentalists, Inc.
Was Darren Rainey Tortured and Killed by Prison Guards at Dade Correctional Institution in Florida?On June 23, 2012, Darren Rainey, a mentally ill black man serving a two-year prison sentence for drug possession, was killed by four prison guards at Dade Correctional Institution in Florida. The Florida correctional officers kept Darren Rainey locked in a shower for two consecutive hours with the water turned up to a scalding 160 degrees — even though Florida state law mandates 120 degrees as the highest available temperature allowed. According to the assigned medical examiner, when Mr. Rainey was removed from the shower, his skin was falling off of his body. Darren Rainey entered the shower around 7:30 p.m. on June 23, 2012 and was pronounced dead around 10:00pm later that night. One prisoner said he heard Rainey screaming, begging to be let out. Another stated that he helped clean up chunks of Rainey's skin from the shower the following morning. Multiple inmates have revealed that the shower was used against them too, as a torture device. Last week, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle's office revealed that, after a five-year legal dispute, no charges will be filed against the four prison guards who allegedly tortured and killed Darren Rainey. In addition, the four accused guards will be allowed to keep their jobs as Florida correctional officers. Prosecutors concluded that Rainey's death was an "accident,” stating that he died from a combination of factors, including health complications of his mental disorder, heart disease that had gone undiagnosed, and what they described as "confinement in a shower." According to prosecutors, the medical examiner's report played a key role in their decision not to press charges against the four prison guards. The Miami-Dade prosecutor's office maintained that the DCI medical examiner report reveals no burns on Darren Rainey after discovering him in the shower, and that any deformed skin was a result of skin "slippage" from being in the shower for too long. When that same medical examiner's report was reviewed by investigators at HuffingtonPost, however, it was discovered that Britney Wilson, a licensed practical nurse at DCI, examined Rainey’s body approximately 10 minutes after he was found, and noted “1st degree burns to 90% of his body.” An additional medical examination conducted by Lt. Alexander Lopez, a firefighter and paramedic with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, reported that Darren Rainey was found “with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on approximately 30 percent of his body." This obvious cover-up is not just an attack on the neglected prisoner community — it is a blatant disregard for the families and communities of anyone who is black, poor, disabled, elderly, and/or lacking health-care and incarcerated. We should all be disturbed, not only by the horrific death of Darren Rainey, but by the failure of the state of Florida to protect him and hold those who are responsible accountable for their actions. The four accused correctional officers are: Sgt. John Fan Fan, Officer Cornelius Thompson, Officer Ronald Clarke, Officer Edwina Williams. Harold Hempstead, former prisoner at FCI, first reported Rainey's death and was a key witness in Darren Rainey's case. http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article140015793.html Hot Water Temperature Laws: Anti-Scald Regulations (Florida) http://inspectapedia.com/plumbing/Hot_Water_Temperature_Laws.php#FL The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Report on Darren Rainey’s death. https://cbsmiami.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/darrenraineyincustodydeathcloseoutmemo.pdf Investigation of evidence conducted by HuffingtonPost http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/darren-rainey-inmate-death-dade-correctional-institution_us_58d94c9fe4b03692bea82e1b?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Officials%20Ruled%20Inmates%20Boiling%20Death%20An%20Accident%20But%20Documents%20Show%20They%20Omitted%20Key%20Details&utm_content=Officials%20Ruled%20Inmates%20Boiling%20Death%20An%20Accident%20But%20Documents%20Show%20They%20Omitted%20Key%20Details+CID_8215adfc57846c1e7159b4870e1301a9&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Read%20More&ncid=newsltushpmgnews Other Sources: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/special-reports/florida-prisons/article56108525.html
Keep the pressure on! Demand Mumia & all affected prisoners get the hep C cureThe Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has shown a blatant disregard for both judicial authority and the thousands of PA prisoners affected by hepatitis C. In January 2017, Pennsylvania Judge Robert Mariani ordered the Department of Corrections to provide Mumia Abu-Jamal with hepatitis C treatment. Mumia has an active, chronic hepatitis C infection, and is at serious risk of experiencing medical complications. The debilitating symptoms of an active hepatitis C infection include extreme skin irritation, limb numbness, vision problems, and swollen feet. Mumia’s organs are extremely vulnerable due to the infection. Despite Judge Mariani’s order, the Pennsylvania DOC has not provided Mumia Abu-Jamal with the hepatitis C treatment. Mumia's lawyers have filed a motion for contempt against the Department of Corrections. The PA-DOC and their private health care provider, Correct Care Solutions, have retaliated by filing an opposition motion to the contempt motion with the 3rd Circuit. Throughout this petty battle over court orders, Mumia's life and the lives of over 6,000 hep C+ prisoners have been disregarded. It is imperative that Mumia, and all other prisoners who need it, get the hepatitis C treatment they need.
Ban Solitary Confinement for Youth Prisoners in State CustodyThousands of adolescent youth, ages 11 to 18, are being held in solitary confinement in jails and state prisons across the U.S. These youth spend 22 or more hours each day alone, often in a small 8-by-8-feet cell, completely isolated both physically and socially, often for weeks, months, or even years at a time. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, as many as 10,000 youth prisoners are held in isolation in juvenile jails nationwide. For youth being held in isolation in adult facilities, there is no official count. The ACLU reports that solitary confinement can "cause serious psychological, physical, and developmental harm, resulting in persistent mental health problems, or suicide." Since youth are still developing, the physical and neurological effects are even more detrimental. These risks are magnified for children with disabilities or histories of trauma and abuse. On Jan 26, 2016, President Obama announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system. He said that the practice is often overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences on young people. Although Obama’s ban affected close to 8,000 youth in federal prisons, it had absolutely no impact on those in solitary confinement in state and county facilities. It is up to us to pressure Congress and state prison systems to follow suit!