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2013 December

Monthly Archives: December 2013

Judge orders Lynne Stewart’s release

“This morning, the government, meaning the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of the Bureau of Prisons, filed a motion before federal Judge John Koeltl, requesting that Lynne Stewart be re-sentenced to time served,” said Bob Boyle, one of Stewart’s lawyers. Boyle says he fully expects Stewart to be released in the next few days and return to New York City, where she will live with her son.

New Year’s message from Muammar Al Qaddafi

In 1989, the following message was released to the Christian world in the form of an open letter by the revolutionary Muslim leader and martyr Muammar Qaddafi. Qaddafi is one of the few Muslim leaders who truly understood the revolutionary doctrine of Tawheed, recognizing the oneness of God and God’s creation. In this New Year’s message, Qaddafi invites all believers to enter into reflection and dialogue to solve the crisis confronting humanity.

The killing of Andy Lopez: a manifestation of a corrupt and soulless system

Because of Andy Lopez’ killing, the main focus of many people I know is on youth executions at the hands of law enforcement. I see this in terms of a broader context, i.e. the long-range agendas of the right-wing Republican Party. The week-to-week shooting deaths of our Black, Brown and other youth by so-called law enforcement must be studied in the context of the systemic all-over picture. Clearly, there is a pattern and a plan there, if one would just look closely.

Women in solitary confinement: ‘The isolation degenerates us into madness’

A mass prisoner hunger strike rocked California’s prison system this past summer, drawing international attention to the extensive use of solitary confinement in the United States. Nearly all of the attention, however, has focused on solitary confinement in men’s prisons; much less is known about the conditions and experiences inside women’s prisons.

Nelson Mandela, Cuba and the Terror List

In a statement at the White House, President Obama paid tribute to Nelson Mandela who died Dec. 5 at age 95. As the world focuses on the historic handshake between President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro, we look back at the pivotal role Cuba played in ending apartheid and why Castro was one of only five world leaders invited to speak at Nelson Mandela’s Dec. 10 memorial in Johannesburg.

The Screening Room

The Screening Room, a new local startup TV show, features up-and-coming filmmakers with interviews about their films, the filmmaking journey and future outlook. We were honored to have the lovely Sheila V. Harris as our host in a recent episode of The Screening Room. She interviewed two local filmmakers, Karen Ruiz, a native San Franciscan, and Rock Hemlock, originally from Dallas, Texas.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Resource politics behind the UN Force Intervention Brigade

Earlier this week, in the northeasternmost province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, which borders Central African Republic, South Sudan and Uganda, the U.N.’s special combat intervention brigade, which includes South African troops, used South African helicopter gunships to fire on the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) militia.

Hot spots: Radioactive San Francisco

On Nov. 13 the San Francisco Chronicle ran a lead story written by the S.F.-based Center for Investigative Reporting. The story was about the radioactive contamination of Treasure Island, a former U.S. Navy base in the middle of the Bay. This story is important in and of itself but also because it once again unearths the region’s role in the birth of the atomic age and also highlights the radioactive legacy that continues to haunt us.

A closer look at ‘crime’

I do not accept the common usage of the term “crime.” Why? Crime is not solely the violation of legal codes. It encompasses behavior that violates human rights. But beyond the legal understandings, crime shatters relationships, both social – including political and economic – and interpersonal. Instead of correcting the problems it is intended to relieve, the justice system itself in many ways has become a monstrous crime against humanity.

The other side of the divide

It is obvious that dark-skinned African American women have endured a myriad of struggles and pain based on their complexion. What about the other side of the racial hue? The real life story of the light-skinned African American woman has largely been mute in American society. It is rare that you hear or see accounts of how light-skinned women view themselves or their position in American society.

The City of Big Shoulders: Chicago stands up to Big Tobacco in a big...

The city of Chicago made history when it passed tobacco control legislation in mid-December that will regulate where menthol and other flavored tobacco products can be sold. Their bold ordinance will create a flavored tobacco buffer zone and prohibit the sale of menthol and other flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of Chicago schools.

Gov. Brown’s plans to reduce prison overcrowding ignore early release

Gov. Brown’s reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of his appeal was to announce that he would reduce the state prison overcrowding by 1) leasing county jail space in local areas, 2) obtain contracts with private prison operators and 3) send prisoners in California prisons to out-of-state facilities. These three approaches, he said, will allow the CDCR to avoid early release for the nearly 10,000 inmates.

Exchange a word for a life

“Hi! How are you?” has become a cliche and has lost its importance concerning others. We say it in passing as we are rushing to a destination and expect the response to be “I’m fine, thank you.” But what if the response is something other than “I’m fine.” Would we be prepared to stop what we are doing to talk to that person? We forget the power that each one of us has to make a difference in this world.

Exoneration only the first step in making amends to the Scottsboro Boys

The state of Alabama may be a step closer to exonerating all of the Scottsboro Boys. But as state lawmakers prepare to introduce legislation to clear the youths’ names, Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen warned that it’s also “incredibly important” to ensure today’s criminal trials are free from discrimination that can lead to such injustices today.

Richmond’s Neighborhood Stabilization Plan moves forward against realtor opposition

At its last meeting of 2013, by a vote of 4-2, the Richmond City Council moved further along on its plans to stabilize our neighborhoods by restructuring the mortgages of underwater homeowners. Under the plan, mortgages would be reduced to a reasonable level that reflects their current value, which will give underwater homeowners some equity in the home and mortgage payments they can pay.

Our own political action committee can expand the prisoners’ rights movement

I was pleased to read about the current talk of creating a political action committee (PAC) for prisoners. There was a time when I despised the whole oppressor political apparatus, but I was lucky enough to have comrades who explained that there is nothing wrong with being involved in local politics because these are the ways that we can transform our communities at the current stage in our struggle.

To all the homies on lock and solitary

California has my full support on all their endeavors, a great accomplishment you all rode and continue to ride against CDC. Maybe one day the sleeping giants of Georgia will follow suit. The West was won by the last ones standing. Your fight is all our fight. I say everybody on lock should join this one by any strategic method possible. You all stay up!

You got to surrenda?

This poem is dedicated to those individuals who are currently and previously have been victims of this nation’s torture chambers, otherwise known to the rest of society as solitary confinement (called the SHU in California) – also to the ones who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice for change. Your decision to give your life for this noble cause has NOT been in vain. To the rest of us still standing for something, continue to fall for nothing.

In memory of Cookie Suttle (January 1925-November 2013)

Elsie “Cookie” Suttle was born on Jan. 3, 1925, in Weatherford, Oklahoma, the last of four sisters. She was a beautician for over 30 years. For over 60 years, she was a devout member of First AME Zion Church in San Francisco and more recently a member of Kyles Temple AME Zion Church in Vallejo. Her beautiful white hair was her trademark.

Samantha Power’s latest crusade: Central African Republic

Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, spoke yesterday in Bangui, the capital of the war torn Central African Republic, on the border of the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo this week. Power announced that the U.S. will spend $100 million to support the French military intervention now underway in the Central African Republic, where 1,000 people were killed on one day, Dec. 6, in the country’s capital city.