- Campaign Finance Reform
- Civil Liberties / Surveillance
- Civil Rights
- Economic Justice
- Government Accountability / Whistleblowers
- Gun Violence Prevention
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Re-Name the Church of the BrethrenAs a historic peace church originating from the 16th century Protestant Reformation, it is high time to embrace a name that acknowledges women, who constitute at least 50 percent of the denomination's population. During the major division of the 1880s the German Baptist Brethren splintered into three groups: the traditionalists such as the Old German Baptist Brethren, progressives led by the Brethren Church, and the conservatives, who adopted the name Church of the Brethren in 1908. By title, none of these groups even recognized the presence of women in their respective communities. The doctrine of the Priesthood of all Believers promotes a non-hierarchical pattern of church life, thus, an inclusive and egalitarian church ought to reflect such values in its name.
No Spy Planes Over Miami-DadeIf the MDPD has its way, whenever you step outside -- on your way to the store, to the beach, or even just into your backyard -- you could be filmed by a plane flying over the county. It’s a radical new surveillance technology that will create an oppressive and stigmatizing environment in the communities that are targeted.
Tell Jamie Raskin: Stop fueling a dangerous new Cold WarConsider the rhetoric from one of the most promising new House members, Democrat Jamie Raskin, at a recent rally near the Washington Monument. Reading from a prepared text, Raskin warmed up by declaring that “Donald Trump is the hoax perpetrated on the Americans by the Russians.” Soon the congressman named such varied countries as Hungary, the Philippines, Syria and Venezuela, and immediately proclaimed: “All the despots, dictators and kleptocrats have found each other, and Vladimir Putin is the ringleader of the unfree world.” He even blamed Vladimir Putin for Brexit. Watch the speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKml53OjzGY Later, asked about factual errors in his speech, Raskin floundered during a filmed interview with The Real News. Watch the interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce0X7_48vGY Read "Dangerous Discourse: When Progressives Sound Like Demagogues," by Norman Solomon: http://rootsaction.org/news-a-views/1535-dangerous-discourse-when-progressives-sound-like-demagogues
California Prisoners Bear the Brunt of Statewide Water ShortageIn the wake of the state’s most severe drought in memory, California Governor Jerry Brown issued mandatory statewide water restrictions that require all public agencies to reduce their water consumption by 25 percent. Officials at the 34 prisons operated by the California Department of Corrections have responded by restricting inmates' showers, ability to flush their cells' toilets, and access to laundry services and clean clothes, according to interviews with inmates. Showers are running only three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) for a total of four hours, providing a little over an hour for hundreds of prisoners to take turns bathing on shower days. Any prisoner caught in the showers for more than 5 minutes, washing clothes while showers are running, bird bathing or flushing the toilets in their assigned cell could face disciplinary action, including 30 days added to their prison sentence (CDC-115 Rules Violation Report). Prison officials have been instructed to shut off water fountains, outdoor showers, and to stop hosing down sidewalks. As a result, California prisoners are denied water-breaks throughout the day and are refused the hygienic practice of washing off sweat after a workout. Women's prisons in particular have struggled with sanitary upkeep since the implementation of CDCR’s water conservation program. Shower and toilet restrictions affect female prisoners on their menstrual cycles most directly. CDCR’s water conservation program began in 2006 with a pilot project to install flush-restricting valves on toilets at nearly one-third of all California adult institutions, resulting in a host of unsanitary conditions ranging from foul odor to overflowing toilets. Water conservation methods have only grown more aggressive within the recent decade and California prisoners have borne the brunt of health and safety hazards associated with aggressive yet inadequate conservation planning. If California is serious about water conservation and water-use reduction in its prisons, state officials should consider developing policies that promote the depopulation of overcrowded state facilities -- starting with releasing disabled people, the elderly and non-violent offenders. Reducing the numbers of people incarcerated unnecessarily could result in significant water savings and help to make the prison environment more adaptable and suitable for rehabilitation. Other methods of reducing water waste, without violating the human rights of the imprisoned, can include updating sinks, toilets, showers, and appliances with advanced water-saving fixtures. Sign this petition to California Governor Jerry Brown asking him to immediately end all water conservation methods that violate the human rights of people in prison. Sources: http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-ff-to-save-water-california-turns-off-prison-showers-20150709-story.html https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/california-prisons-are-restricting-shower-and-toilet-use-to-fight-the-historic-drought-626 http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2010/04/california-prisons-reduce-water-consumption/ http://www.inmate.com/prison-articles/california-prisoners-affected-by-drought.htm
Tell Barbara Lee: Stop spreading Russophobia and fueling a new Cold WarBarbara Lee represents Berkeley and Oakland and nearby areas in Congress (13th CD). She has built a reputation as an advocate for peace and civil liberties. She was the lone vote in Congress against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that has been used to justify US wars/bombing/drone killing since 9/11. Most recently she opposed and spoke out against Trump's cruise missile attack on Syria in April. But lately Representative Lee may be taking a dangerous turn. At a recent town hall Lee hosted Malcolm Nance, MSNBC analyst and former U.S. intelligence agent who is one of the premier neo-McCarthyists and Russia bashers in the country. Nance not only pushed the dubious narrative that Russia “stole the election.” He went into a rant about the Russian people saying “Russia is an intensely conservative nation. They have a serf-slave mentality. They are passionately and intensely insincere…” AND "There is nothing we should do that's friendly to the Russians. They've gone from Communists to Autocrats." This is nothing more than xenophobia and war-mongering. It is part of a campaign by establishment Democrats and the mass media that seeks to: • Deflect blame for Clinton’s defeat from the discredited politics of the corporate Democrats to the Russians. • Push an aggressive stance toward Russia that could lead to a direct military confrontation and possible nuclear war. Many of us are constituents of Barbara Lee and have voted for her in past elections. We urge her to: • Cease and desist from spreading/enabling this warmongering. • Condemn xenophobia whether it is directed against Muslims or Russians. • Reaffirm her support for peace and opposition to all wars of aggression.
Release Mumia Abu-Jamal Case RecordsA petition filed on behalf of political prisoner and renowned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, seeking a new appeal in his decades-long case, was heard in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas on April 24, 2017. During the session, Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker ordered the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office to turn over all records pertaining to Mumia’s legal case. If released, these records will reveal a grave conflict of interest in Mumia’s appeal case, identifying Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille as a biased contributor to the case. Justice Castille, who has in the past denied Mumia’s appeals, also played a significant role in Mumia’s conviction during his trial on charges of killing a police office. Castille was Assistant DA at the time of Abu-Jamal’s trial in 1982. In addition, he was appointed as the Philadelphia District Attorney during Mumia’s direct appeal in 1988. A new nine-minute video gives background on new revelations of conflict of interest regarding Mumia’s appeal case: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17Tp5NlllLU What else can you do? A ruling to implement Judge Leon Tucker's recent order to release Mumia’s court documents could be made as soon as May 30, 2017. Please call or e-mail the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office now to pressure them to follow the court’s order to release all the records and files regarding Mumia Abu-Jamal’s legal case. Phone: 215-686-8000 E-mail: DA_Central@phila.gov
No Package Restrictions for NYS Prisoners!Visitation packages are a crucial part of subsistence in the prisons. New York State’s prison system that houses over 60,000 men, women, and children, all of whom are under fed, under nourished, and are not able to meet hygiene needs without purchasing products. Packages brought in by visitors allow prisoners to sustain themselves while they suffer the “slow death” of the prison system. They receive books, hygiene products, stationery, religious objects, underwear, shoes, shirts and blouses (which allow inmates to regulate their body temperature). All of these objects are crucial for survival for inmates. The proposal to revise the package directive 4911 by adding 4911A to restrict packages to a small selection of prison vendors will severely restrict what prisoners can have (which is already extremely restrictive) and raise costs for family members who already have an extra burden to bear taking care of their loved ones in and out of prison. Currently, visitation packages can be purchased from bulk stores, which allow families to keep costs down. We can be assured that packages purchased through vendors will be more expensive. In addition to increasing costs for families who are already financially struggling, this directive will put even more money into the hands of the prison industry, which is already a multi-million dollar a year industry that thrives of other people’s immiseration. Meanwhile, prisoners are working for slave wages, making 10-16 cents an hour, and are completely reliant on outside support to supplement their starvation diets served in prison. Furthermore, the justification for restricting packages is that visitors are allegedly smuggling drugs through packages. However, as investigations show, it is often corrections officers who smuggle drugs, and who are the ones allowing in tainted packages. Instead of monitoring the COs--there are currently no cameras in the package room--DOCCS is instead punishing prisoners and their families. In addition, suicide in prison is often a result of alienation, deprivation, and lack of stimulation, which will all increase with a new package restriction. The only things that this directive will be taking out of the prisons if it is implemented are prisoners’ human dignity, will, and incentive for good behavior. We are asking that the new directive, 4911A, be repealed immediately, before the NYS prison system wastes time and money on vendor contracts, and before the lives of 60,000 inmates and their families are changed for the worse. Written by families and friends of inmates from the Women’s Facilities of NYS, presented by Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
Airline Passenger SafetyMinimum seat spacing will allow for faster egress in emergency situations. It will also allow passengers more room for movement during flights decreasing the possibility of blood clots. Preventing over crowded flights will help alleviate stress and tension between passengers and reduce the incidents of violence that are becoming all to common on domestic air flights.
Petition for a moratorium regarding joint US/South Korea war exercisesNorth Korea views these joint war exercises as highly provocative, & they often cite them as a compelling reason why they feel they need to arm themselves & make threatening gestures. Technically the US & South Korea are still at war with North Korea. An armistice was signed but no peace treaty. Although most Americans don't even know this, the North Koreans are highly aware of this fact, & it greatly informs their their hostile rhetoric & actions. Offering North Korea a war exercises moratorium would be a 'carrot' for which the US & South Korea would expect some visible reduction in the hostile threats & actions coming from the North. Not only would this offer cost zero dollars, it would save the big dollars it costs to implement these war exercises.
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