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California and the U.S.

Soaring thyroid cancer rates north of NYC may be caused by Indian Point nuke plant emissions

December 16, 2017

The rate of new thyroid cancer cases in the four counties just north of New York City, which was 22 percent below the U.S. rate in the late 1970s, has soared to 53 percent above the U.S. rate. This change may be a result of airborne emissions of radioactive iodine from the two Indian Point nuclear power reactors, at the crossroads of Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties, and operating since the mid-1970s. Large increases occurred for both men and women in each county.

Trump oblivious to Black history: An appeal for civil conversation about the civil rights legacy in Mississippi

December 16, 2017

The backlash against President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the new Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum underscores an issue far more significant than a polarizing president. It was further proof that the wounds from decades upon decades of racial injustice in our nation, and in Mississippi in particular, remain deep. The pain and the sensitivities are ever-present, as is the continued socio-economic oppression that has kept African Americans as second-class citizens.

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Covered California extends enrollment deadline as consumer interest surges

December 14, 2017

In response to a strong surge in demand, Covered California is giving consumers more time to sign up for health coverage that will begin on Jan. 1, 2018. Over the past three days, Covered California has seen more than 38,000 new consumers sign up for coverage, which means that as of Dec. 13 more than 182,000 new consumers have signed up for coverage since open enrollment began.

Michigan Supreme Court hears Pinkney case

December 1, 2017

In early November, Michigan’s court of last resort finally heard the oral arguments in the case of Rev. Edward Pinkney. The 69-year-old activist, free since June of this year after serving a 30-month sentence, is still pursuing the appeal on moral grounds. It’s been a long road, but he may have a receptive audience this time in the Michigan Supreme Court. There have been a large number of irregularities in Berrien County’s prosecution of Rev. Pinkney.

BlackOut for Human Rights kicks off 4th annual #BlackOutBlackFriday nationwide boycott of major retail chains

November 23, 2017

On Friday, Nov. 24, the biggest retail shopping day of the year, also known as “Black Friday,” BlackOut for Human Rights will kick off its fourth annual #BlackOutBlackFriday campaign, urging people nationwide to take part in an economic boycott of major retailers and any corporations that violate human rights standards and/or profit off the pain and suffering of others. Launched in 2014, #BlackOutBlackFriday is a call-to-action encouraging individuals to refrain from shopping to protest social and economic injustice in the U.S. and instead engage in cultural activism.

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Wiping the stain of capital punishment clean

November 20, 2017

Soon the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a case with the potential to end this nation’s abominably long and freakish experimentation with the death penalty. That’s right, drum roll, please. Because, if it grants certiorari in Hidalgo v. Arizona – a case Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe describes as emblematic of “the problems with our [country’s] current capital punishment regimes” – America’s broken and vile “machinery of death” can finally be trashed in the junkyard of our dark, wayward humanity. Implore the Supreme Court to wipe capital punishment’s bloody stain away. Forever.

Healthcare is a human right!

November 9, 2017

Healthcare is a human right! I’ve heard that phrase many times in my 20 years advocating for universal healthcare. Until now, few legislators in Sacramento have spoken those words. On Oct. 23 and 24, however, California Assembly members Jim Wood and Joaquin Arambula, co-chairs of the Assembly’s Select Committee on Healthcare, said, “Healthcare is a human right.” The other Democratic members of the committee, Autumn Burke, David Chiu and Laura Friedman, all agreed.

Reclaiming our land when gentrifiers lurk

November 3, 2017

Gentrification is the process in which neighborhoods where people of color have lived for years become desirable, especially from the viewpoint of the white gentrifier. This process frequently begins, but most often ends in the displacement of long-time residents. It seems contradictory that white hipsters who support progressive movements, liberation and climate justice are the very people who contribute to the elimination of marginalized communities.

FBI says ‘Black Identity Extremists’ are the new terrorist threat

October 13, 2017

In a disturbing report leaked to Foreign Policy, the FBI manufactures threats from so-called “Black Identity Extremists” (BIE): “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence,” the report reads.

March Against Police Murder, San Francisco to Sacramento, starts Oct. 6

October 6, 2017

After maintaining a vigil outside the San Francisco Hall of Justice for 52 weeks demanding that the murderers of our children be arrested, charged, tried and convicted, we are marching to Sacramento and will be passing through your city. We are looking for churches where we may gather. Dear faith leaders, if this cause is on your heart and you are interested in your church being open so we may gather, inform and invite others to join in the march to stop the execution of our children, we will be grateful. – Archbishop Franzo King, 415-871-9676

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It’s not mass incarceration, but slavery

October 2, 2017

Speech delivered at the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March Aug. 19, 2017, in Washington, D.C.: Let me tell you what’s going on here today. This is the largest gathering of slavery abolitionists in the history of the United States, happening right here today. In 16 cities across America, they are marching in unison with us and in solidarity with us, and they’re not doing it to end mass incarceration. They’re doing it to end what? (Slavery!) Slavery.

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California Legislature approves juvenile justice bills to update Miranda rights, allow parole for youthful offenders

October 2, 2017

Just weeks after the artist and musician Common held a free concert outside the State Capitol for 25,000 people and met with legislators to push for common sense justice reform, the California Legislature approved two long-overdue juvenile justice bills.
Senate Bills 394 and 395 are part of the #EquityAndJustice package of bills jointly authored by Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, to promote prevention and rehabilitation and maintain family cohesion.

DACA: The latest from the un-Obama

September 30, 2017

If there is one unifying principle emerging from the disaster known as the Trump Regime, it is the president’s singular mission to erase the executive presence of his predecessor, Barack Obama. This may be seen most recently in Trump’s bumbling undoing of Obama’s executive order known as DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, done to further endear him to his so-called “base,” white nationalists who love to hear about the suffering of nonwhite Others.

Black contractors and workers protest exclusion from project funded with $123 million tax dollars

September 29, 2017

Open letter to Seefried Industrial Properties, Inc., Executive Chairman Ferdinand Seefried: The purpose of the American Center for Economic Equality (ACEE) and the Black Contractors Group’s (BCG) is to be the voice of legitimate Black and minority contractors. We represent construction workers who have been denied contracts and jobs on construction projects. Legitimate Black and minority contractors are entitled to an equal opportunity.

For the NFL, it was ‘Choose your side Sunday’

September 25, 2017

The 1960s and 1970s saw a hurricane of political athletes: legends like Muhammad Ali, John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Curt Flood and Billie Jean King. But nothing, literally nothing, in the history of sports and politics can compare to what happened on Sunday. Expressions of dissent broke out in every single NFL game during the playing of the National Anthem. Some players kneeled, some sat, some raised fists and some linked arms. But all of them were standing in opposition to Donald Trump. Announcers and commentators discussed their actions sympathetically. The booing one might expect from fans was sparse.

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U.S. budget priorities and healthcare

September 24, 2017

My column last month reported on the vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to support HR 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. The vote was 344 Yes and 81 No. Seventy-nine percent of our elected representatives in the House voted for “nearly $30 billion more for core Pentagon operations than President Trump requested,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle, July 15, 2017.

David Duke campaign contributor Vaughn Miller threatens lawsuit

September 23, 2017

In the face of incontrovertible documentation revealing him to be a campaign contributor to KKK fascist David Duke, wealthy Dallas real estate mogul Vaughn Miller is threatening a lawsuit after being outed as a donor to Duke’s failed 2016 Senate campaign. According to Wikipedia, David Ernest Duke (born July 1, 1950) is an American white nationalist, politician, anti-semitic conspiracy theorist, Holocaust denier, convicted felon and former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

No more fire fighting slave labor

September 22, 2017

As our tortured climate pounds the East with water and leaves much of California tinder dry, Southern California fire season seems to grow worse by the year. And in our growing need for firefighters, California continues the abusive practice of using pennies-an-hour prison labor to fight these fires. About 4,000 California prisoners fight fires for $1 an hour. This is abuse, simply. I want to organize with people everywhere to end all prison slave labor, and to close California private prisons.

An open letter to Black America: Rally ‘round Colin Kaepernick

September 20, 2017

My premise is a simple one: Why are we not rallying around Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco football player and quarterback? Colin Kaepernick has earned our love, our trust and support. Colin Kaepernick did what we all should be doing. Colin Kaepernick deserves better. If we do not give it to him, he will not get it. Colin Kaepernick is worthy of emulation. Colin Kaepernick made a supreme sacrifice.

People helping people survive Harvey: Dispatches from Beaumont and Houston

September 16, 2017

I spoke to Jonathan Chartian this morning. Released from prison Dec. 14, 2016, he is confined to his home when not at work, his job suspended since Hurricane Harvey. He is really concerned about the excessive show of police and military presence, which is not protecting the rights of citizens, rather complicating an already volatile situation between Black and Brown people and law enforcement.

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