Archives for the month of: August, 2010

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In Iran, shackling the Bahai torchbearers

By Roxana Saberi
Saturday, August 28, 2010

For several weeks last year, I shared a cell in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison with Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two leaders of Iran’s minority Bahai faith. I came to see them as my sisters, women whose only crimes were to peacefully practice their religion and resist pressure from their captors to compromise their principles. For this, apparently, they and five male colleagues were sentenced this month to 20 years in prison.

I had heard about Mahvash and Fariba before I met them. Other prisoners spoke of the two middle-aged mothers whose high spirits lifted the morale of fellow inmates.

The Bahai faith, thought to be the largest non-Muslim minority religion in Iran, originated in 19th-century Persia. It is based on the belief that the world will one day attain peace and unity. Iranian authorities consider it a heretical offshoot of Islam.

After I was transferred to their cell, I learned that Mahvash had been incarcerated for one year and Fariba for eight months. Each had spent half her detention in solitary confinement, during which time they were allowed almost no contact with their families and only the Koran to read. Recently the two had been permitted to have a pen. Oh, how they cherished it! But they were allowed to use it only to do Sudoku and crossword puzzles in the conservative newspapers the prison guards occasionally gave them.

Mahvash, Fariba and their five colleagues faced accusations that included spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and, later, “spreading corruption on earth.” All three could have resulted in the death penalty.

The Bahais denied these charges. Far from posing a threat to the Islamic regime, Mahvash and Fariba told me, Iran’s estimated 300,000 Bahais are nonviolent and politically impartial.

Despite the gravity of the accusations against them, Mahvash and Fariba had not once been allowed to see attorneys. Yet my cellmates’ spirits would not be broken, and they boosted mine. They taught me to, as they put it, turn challenges into opportunities — to make the most of difficult situations and to grow from adversity. We kept a daily routine, reading the books we were eventually allowed and discussing them; exercising in our small cell; and praying — they in their way, I in mine. They asked me to teach them English and were eager to learn vocabulary for shopping, cooking and traveling. They would use the new words one day, they told me, when they journeyed abroad. But the two women also said they never wanted to live overseas. They felt it their duty to serve not only Bahais but all Iranians.

Later, when I went on a hunger strike, Mahvash and Fariba washed my clothes by hand after I lost my energy and told me stories to keep my mind off my stomach. Their kindness and love gave me sustenance.

It pained me to leave them behind when I was freed in May 2009. I later heard that Mahvash, Fariba and their colleagues refused to make false confessions, as many political prisoners in Iran are pressured to do.

It was January when the Bahais’ trial began. This month, the same Iranian judge who had sentenced me to eight years in prison on a false charge of spying for the United States sentenced the Bahais to 20 years. The charges they were convicted of have not yet been reported.

Human rights advocates have said the trial was riddled with irregularities. The defendants were eventually allowed to see attorneys but only briefly. The lawyers were given only a few hours to examine the thousands of pages in the prosecution’s files. Early in the trial, state-run TV crews were present at what were supposed to be closed hearings. After the Bahais’ attorneys objected, family members were allowed to attend the hearings, but foreign diplomats were barred, and the only journalists permitted were with state-run media. It appears that no evidence was presented against the defendants.

As their lawyers appeal, Mahvash and Fariba sit in Rajai Shahr prison outside Tehran. Even Evin prison, cellmates told me last year, is preferable to Rajai Shahr. The facility is known for torture, unsanitary conditions and inadequate medical care for inmates, who include murderers, drug addicts and thieves.

While Iranian authorities deny that the regime discriminates against citizens for religious beliefs, the Bahai faith is not recognized under the Iranian constitution. The known persecution of many Bahais includes being fired from jobs and denied access to higher education, as well as cemetery desecration. (The Bahais created their own unofficial university, which Mahvash used to direct; Fariba earned a degree in psychology there.) In addition to the seven leaders, 44 other Bahais are in prisons in Iran, the Baha’i International Community reports.

People of many nations and faiths have called for the release of the Bahai leaders. But many more must speak out — such as by signing letters of support through Web sites such as United4Iran.com. Protests of these harsh sentences can make clear to authorities in Iran and elsewhere that they will be held accountable when they trample on human rights. Mahvash and Fariba occasionally hear news of this support, and it gives them strength to carry on, just as the international outcry against my imprisonment empowered me.

I know that despite what they have been through and what lies ahead, these women feel no hatred in their hearts. When I struggled not to despise my interrogators and the judge, Mahvash and Fariba told me they do not hate anyone, not even their captors.

We believe in love and compassion for humanity, they said, even for those who wrong us. Roxana Saberi, a journalist detained in Iran last year, is the author of “Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran.”

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I just read an article this week about hormones in Monsanto’s food and a friend just sent this:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25th, 2010

Contact: Travis English, AGRA Watch
(206) 335-4405
Brenda Biddle, The Evergreen State College & AGRA Watch
(360) 878-7833
http://www.seattleglobaljustice.org/agra-watch

GATES FOUNDATION INVESTS IN MONSANTO
Both will profit at expense of small-scale African farmers

Seattle, WA – Farmers and civil society organizations around the world
are outraged by the recent discovery of further connections between the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and agribusiness titan Monsanto. Last
week, a financial website published the Gates Foundation’s investment
portfolio, including 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock with an estimated
worth of $23.1 million purchased in the second quarter of 2010 (see the
filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission). This marks a
substantial increase from its previous holdings, valued at just over
$360,000 (see the Foundation’s 2008 990 Form).

“The Foundation’s direct investment in Monsanto is problematic on two
primary levels,” said Dr. Phil Bereano, University of Washington
Professor Emeritus and recognized expert on genetic engineering. “First,
Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well-
being of small farmers around the world, as well as an appalling
environmental track record. The strong connections to Monsanto cast
serious doubt on the Foundation’s heavy funding of agricultural
development in Africa and purported goal of alleviating poverty and
hunger among small-scale farmers. Second, this investment represents an
enormous conflict of interests.”

Monsanto has already negatively impacted agriculture in African
countries. For example, in South Africa in 2009, Monsanto’s genetically
modified maize failed to produce kernels and hundreds of farmers were
devastated. According to Mariam Mayet, environmental attorney and
director of the Africa Centre for Biosafety in Johannesburg, some
farmers suffered up to an 80% crop failure. While Monsanto compensated
the large-scale farmers to whom it directly sold the faulty product, it
gave nothing to the small-scale farmers to whom it had handed out free
sachets of seeds. “When the economic power of Gates is coupled with the
irresponsibility of Monsanto, the outlook for African smallholders is
not very promising,” said Mayet. Monsanto’s aggressive patenting
practices have also monopolized control over seed in ways that deny
farmers control over their own harvest, going so far as to sue–and
bankrupt–farmers for “patent infringement.”

News of the Foundation’s recent Monsanto investment has confirmed the
misgivings of many farmers and sustainable agriculture advocates in
Africa, among them the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, who commented, “We
have long suspected that the founders of AGRA–the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation–had a long and more intimate affair with Monsanto.” Indeed,
according to Travis English, researcher with AGRA Watch, “The
Foundation’s ownership of Monsanto stock is emblematic of a deeper, more
long-standing involvement with the corporation, particularly in Africa.”
In 2008, AGRA Watch, a project of the Seattle-based organization
Community Alliance for Global Justice, uncovered many linkages between
the Foundation’s grantees and Monsanto. For example, some grantees (in
particular about 70% of grantees in Kenya) of the Alliance for a Green
Revolution in Africa (AGRA)–considered by the Foundation to be its
“African face”–work directly with Monsanto on agricultural development
projects. Other prominent links include high-level Foundation staff
members who were once senior officials for Monsanto, such as Rob Horsch,
formerly Monsanto Vice President of International Development
Partnerships and current Senior Program Officer of the Gates
Agricultural Development Program.

Transnational corporations like Monsanto have been key collaborators
with the Foundation and AGRA’s grantees in promoting the spread of
industrial agriculture on the continent. This model of production relies
on expensive inputs such as chemical fertilizers, genetically modified
seeds, and herbicides. Though this package represents enticing market
development opportunities for the private sector, many civil society
organizations contend it will lead to further displacement of farmers
from the land, an actual increase in hunger, and migration to already
swollen cities unable to provide employment opportunities. In the words
of a representative from the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, “AGRA is
poison for our farming systems and livelihoods. Under the philanthropic
banner of greening agriculture, AGRA will eventually eat away what
little is left of sustainable small-scale farming in Africa.”

A 2008 report initiated by the World Bank and the UN, the International
Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for
Development (IAASTD), promotes alternative solutions to the problems of
hunger and poverty that emphasize their social and economic roots. The
IAASTD concluded that small-scale agroecological farming is more
suitable for the third world than the industrial agricultural model
favored by Gates and Monsanto. In a summary of the key findings of
IAASTD, the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) emphasizes
the report’s warning that “continued reliance on simplistic
technological fixes–including transgenic crops–will not reduce
persistent hunger and poverty and could exacerbate environmental
problems and worsen social inequity.” Furthermore, PANNA explains, “The
Assessment’s 21 key findings suggest that small-scale agroecological
farming may offer one of the best means to feed the hungry while
protecting the planet.”

The Gates Foundation has been challenged in the past for its
questionable investments; in 2007, the L.A. Times exposed the Foundation
for investing in its own grantees and for its “holdings in many
companies that have failed tests of social responsibility because of
environmental lapses, employment discrimination, disregard for worker
rights, or unethical practices.” The Times chastised the Foundation for
what it called “blind-eye investing,” with at least 41% of its assets
invested in “companies that countered the foundation’s charitable goals
or socially-concerned philosophy.”

Although the Foundation announced it would reassess its practices, it
decided to retain them. As reported by the L.A. Times, chief executive
of the Foundation Patty Stonesifer defended their investments, stating,
“It would be naïve…to think that changing the foundation’s investment
policy could stop the human suffering blamed on the practices of
companies in which it invests billions of dollars.” This decision is in
direct contradiction to the Foundation’s official “Investment
Philosophy”, which, according to its website, “defined areas in which
the endowment will not invest, such as companies whose profit model is
centrally tied to corporate activity that [Bill and Melinda] find
egregious. This is why the endowment does not invest in tobacco stocks.”

More recently, the Foundation has come under fire in its own hometown.
This week, 250 Seattle residents sent postcards expressing their concern
that the Foundation’s approach to agricultural development, rather than
reducing hunger as pledged, would instead “increase farmer debt, enrich
agribusiness corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta, degrade the
environment, and dispossess small farmers.” In addition to demanding
that the Foundation instead fund “socially and ecologically appropriate
practices determined locally by African farmers and scientists” and
support African food sovereignty, they urged the Foundation to cut all
ties to Monsanto and the biotechnology industry.

AGRA Watch, a program of Seattle-based Community Alliance for Global
Justice, supports African initiatives and programs that foster farmers’
self-determination and food sovereignty. AGRA Watch also supports public
engagement in fighting genetic engineering and exploitative agricultural
policies, and demands transparency and accountability on the part of the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AGRA.


GENET-forum

providing background information for the
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

contact:
Hartmut MEYER (Mr)

phone……. +49-531-5168746
fax……… +49-531-5168747
email……. hartmut.meyer(*)genet-info.org
skype……. hartmut_meyer
url……… http://www.genet-info.or

Ana Etchenique
Vicepresidenta
Confederación de Consumidores y Usuarios – CECU
Mayor 45, 2º
28013 Madrid
91 364 13 84
619 955 277
fax 91 366 90 00
ana.e@cecu.es
anaetchenique@yahoo.es
http://www.cecu.es

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SaddledSaddled by Susan Richards
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bumped into this book, and somehow after flipping through the pages and seeing, memoir, alcoholism in family, transformation, I took the book home from the Pasadena Central Library. I am a memoir addict, and the authentic and well written voice calls me. I couldn’t put it down.

those who know me personally will imagine and know my delight in the author’s triumphs and courage, but imagine that this reader, a pug devotee par excellence, gasps when she looks at the back inside cover flap and see Susan Richards with what? A pug, a pug, a wonderful looking, high i’m the center of the universe pug. I feel as if I know this lady. The background of book had aspects of Boston, my home town, and so it goes. I highly recommend this book. I’m off to read her others; have to order them too!

View all my reviews

This newsletter has been ongoing for years, as my friendship with TC. Someone from the outside types it and distributes by email. I thought it insightful and would hope that people keep TC, her mom, Barbara, and the like in their prayers. I regularly correspond with her; i had to get clearance, and when I have xtra $ i send her stuff to pay for school or something, but that’s a private matter.

Here it is:

The T.C. & Mama ´P´ Newsletter – 3rd QTR, 2010

Dear Family of Friends,

The response to our last issue of this newsletter was quite overwhelming. I was very open and apparently, successful in making myself clear in my details about life behind these walls. I understand that it may not be easy for some folks to grasp what it is like for us, so I make every effort to bring forth clearly detailed expressions to paint vivid pictures in your own minds. Life behind the walls here is nothing like those fake prison scenes in daytime soap operas. It is nothing like the movies made in Hollywood. It has its good times of less stress than others, but it also has its moments of fear, anger, victimization, survival, hunger, violence, and extortion. There are bullies around every corner; there are angels with every breath. There is racism, prejudice, and steriotyping. However, there is also a strong sense of sisterhood, womanhood, call it what you want. Sometimes in the air there is the smell of pepper spray and verbal assaults … but sometimes more than not, there is the scent of unity as one subculture in our own little micro world. Like the weather, it varies.

In this issue I will share more details and facts that have no business being buried. I intend to open your eyes a little wider to see what is really happening. Some may feel that in my doing so, I am focusing on the negative. I differ in my opinion I feel that it is important to focus on the negative so that, not only do I know what is striving to suppress me, but I can strategize how to turn it into something positive. One of my favorite quotes is by the philospher, Nietchze. He wrote, „what does not kill us, makes us stronger.“ As you well know, I have lived my life according to that wisdom the best that I can the last 15 years since I broke my silence about the past. As prisoners, well over 3500 women here at CCWF are doing their bet to overcome our pasts … pasts that got us here one way or another.

One woman who made the best of her past, used her scars as lessons to others, and taught me a lot about doing your prison time instead of letting the sentence overtake and control you, is Deborah Peagler – AKA, Tripp. She was a tool and vessel of God‘s choosing, and she did reach me. This issue of the newsletter is being dedicated to the life and memory of Deborah ‚ ´Tripp´ Peagler, our beloved Friend.

Namasté

T.C. & Mama ´P´

Riding A Rainbow

I mentioned Tripp a couple of issues back. She had been brutalized by a guy named Oliver Wilson from the age of fifteen. He did the most horrible things to her, it is a wonder she survived. When two male friends tried to convince Wilson to not hunt Tripp down anymore after she escaped him once more, the altercation turned deadly, resulting in Wilson‘s death. The men were prosecuted and sentenced, as was Tripp, although she wasn‘t party to the homicide. Her case had Battered Woman Syndrome written all over it, yet her Public Defender never addressed it. After 26 years in prison for a murder she did not plan, nor commit, she was released. The governor did not block the Parole Board‘s recommendation because Tripp was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer,a nd expected to not live past three more weeks.

Ten months after her release from prison, Tripp was still enjoying life and reunification with her two daughters and grandchildren. She wrote when she could, and even sent me the most beautiful lighthouse notecards for my birthday in February, knowing my admiration for lighthouses. She seemed to be gaining strength and turning into a miracle before our eyes, when on June 8th, in the early morning hours, our friend and sister in Christ, passed away.

There are some, including mom and myself, who look at the prison and court system with disgust at how she was even sentenced to life in prison. There is anger at the sheer injustice and an echo of sentiment that not only had she gone from Wilson‘s prison to California‘s prison system, but her children were rubbed as well. It just isn‘t fair.

In the same breath, I see the positive. She had the last ten months of her life free with her family. To die in prison is every lifer‘s worst nightmare. But there‘s more …..

Tripp was one of the few founding members to propose and initiate the U-turn program directed at helping youth-at-risk. In her years of service, she reached well over 1000 kids. For each kid she reached, they are like a ripple in the water, and Tripp ultimately reached even more people through each child. You see, for every person that childd comes into contact with, Tripp is vicariously reaching due to her initial contact with that child. There must be thousands feeling the effect of Tripp‘s story and words of encouragement, hope, possible change, and love.

Tripp was on the church choir and through that channel she reached many as well. When I arrived to CCWF in 1992, I was mad at God for allowing us to not only live a lie of pain in a house of secrets, but to allow us to be sentenced to life in prison with open, but invisible wounds. I rebelled by turning my back on God. I went rogue as far as religion went, and I pretty much went from light to dark. Tripp invited my girlfriend Lory, to join the choir. She was fond of Lori and through Lori unknownst to her, Tripp had reached my darkened heart. I sat in the dark of my cell one night all alone in my self-pity and asked God if He could forgive me for my turning away from Him. In His way, He led me to a verse in the New Testament. I read it. It was John 12:35 „He who walks in darkness knows not where he is going. Walk in the light while it is with you.“ I was blown away, as my prayer clearly asked about light and dark. About a week or so later I went to look the verse up again, but „Accidentally“ looked up John 11:35 … „And Jesus wept.“ So did I.

I am not proud of my rebellion against God. I‘m not bragging about it in sharing my confession and testimony. I tell you only to say that the messenger God chose to reach into my hardened heart, was Deborah Peagler. And it‘s not just words when I say I‘m eternally grateful.

I feel badly for Tripp‘s family who were separated from her for so many years. I felt bad for Tripp that she was a prisoner since age fifteen and the system had failed her in so many ways. However, the ones I feel the most sorry for, are the people who never had the honor and privilege of knowing Deborah Peagler.

I wrote Tripp in a letter I believe she received within days of her passing, that I was grateful for her place in my life … in mom‘s life. I told her that we‘ll see her again, where she can find me in a meadow running my fingers through a lion‘s mane. Knowing Tripp, she‘ll be releasing the little kid in herself, riding on a rainbow. I really wish you could have known her. In one way or another, she had made an impact. She always did.

Just The Facts

On May 13th, a state appeals court found Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had „distorted the record“ evidence in justifying his blocking the parole suitability of Joseph Calderon.

Calderon had consistenly accepted responsibility in the death of a security guard in 1993 during a botched rubbery. It wasn‘t part of the plan, but it did happen. Calderon was 23 years old at the time.

Fact … Calderon underwent special therapy for alcoholism and behavioral issues.

Fact … he temporarily joined a prison gang at the onset of his incarceration as expected from peer pressure, but dropped out and risked his own safety by giving a briefing to prisons officials. If you know anything about men‘s prisons and prison gangs, then you know that took a lot of guts. The shower scene in the film „American X“ was not an exaggeration of what happens to a prison gang deserter.

These are the facts, yet Arnold blocked the Parole Board‘s recommendation of parole, saying that Calderon „lacked full insight into his crimes,“ had „only sporadically“ taken part in rehabilitation programs, and he furthermore twisted the truth regarding Calderon‘s prison gang activity. He claimend Calderon was in a gang, as in present tense. This goes to show that either Arnold can‘t read, refuses to read the parole Board‘s report, or quite simply doesn‘t trust the opinion of the panel of commissioners that he himself appointed. It must be hell to have all that power and not know how to properly use it. He has overturned the Parole Board‘s decision nearly 60% in 2008 and more than 70% in 2009.

My question is this: Why have a Parole Board at all if their decisions will not be respected by the governor? And furthermore, why even hold a hearing and file a report if Arnold can simply ignore and distort the facts? It is hard enough to win favor with the Board, only to be shot down by someone in a power suit that never took classes at Law School. When will we ever deal with just the facts?

More Facts About Lifers

· Proposition 89 gave the California Governor power to overturn any Parole suitability finding by the (Governor appointed) Parole Board.

· Proposition 89 told voters that there might be a savings to taxpayers if they passed 89, yet 20 years later the findings by investigative journalist Nancy Mullane found the costs of Prop 89 to be more than 16 billion dollars. Billion, with a „B“.

· The CDCR (prison system) did their own study and found that from the mid to late 1940‘s the murder recidivism rate is 2%. A more recent research study indicated that as of 2007, convicted murderers re-offend less than any other offender group, at 3,7%. The next lowers group is more that 20%.

· Prior to Prop 89, the Board routinely paroled nearly 200 lifers a year.

· Governor‘s campaign finances are heavily supported by Victim Rights groups, which in turn are funded by the prison guard‘s union. Why? Because keeping lifers in prison is in their best interest. We help manage the prison, making it easy on staff.

· One in five prisoners is a lifer.

· California‘s prison system is at almost 200% capacity with get this …. 170 thousand prisoners!

· Statistically, only about 1% of all lifers who face the Parole Boad ever get a recommendation and governor‘s blessing. One percent.

· Statuatory code is for the governor to appoint a composition of cross-section representation from the community to the Parole Board. This would be psychologists, retired judges and the like. Arnold, same as Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, has appointed law enforcement personnel and those who are part of Victim‘s Right‘s groups. The current Parole Board is 100% law enforcement.

· The Penal Code requires that a release date be set once the base term has been served.

· The current suitability rate for lifers is 5%.

· The governor‘s „power to review Parole decisions“ has never been used to review a Parole Board denial, but only to review a positive finding and find an excuse to reverse it.

· The recidivism rate in California for older lifers is less than one percent, so why not let my mother go?

Louise and Helen‘s stories

Louise is 70 years old and was locked away for 32 years on a 7 years-to-life sentence. While the Parole Board kept finding her suitable for parole, the governor continued to reverse their decision. Had he system evaluated Louise as to the written regulations, she‘d have been freed in 1984.

Louise worked on her addiction issues while incarcerated. It was her addiction that led to her convicted crime in the first place. She earned vocational certification and had a pretty imprressive C-file. She was a model inmate, yet she had to file a Writ against the Parole Board to seek her freedom. She was blessed with pro beno legal representation. I‘m glad to report that she gained her freedom, although it was nearly three decades later than what the legal code regulates it to have been.

Helen wasn‘t as fortunate. Sadly, Helen was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, although two vital facts were clear: She had no knowledge of any crime being planned, nor was anyone hurt, let alone murdered. Her mistake was trusting her son to not put her in harm‘s way. She unknowingly had transported money for him. Guess what it was for?

Helen‘s kidneys were failing her the last several years of her life, requiring dialysis treatments 2x a week. It too two officers to escort her off of prison grounds all shackled up to an outside community center to complete the dialysis.

Helen served her base term sentence and sought parole, but the Parole Board denied her relase even though legally, they should have. She couldn‘t walk 30 yards without having to stop, sit on her walker seat, and catch her breath. How did she pose any threat to society? They further impacted the indignant insult of a denial by stating, „she didn‘t have firm employment plans.“ Yes, they actually expect you to gain firm employment regardless of your health if you are a lifer seeking parole. I should add, Helen was 85 years old. She gave up all hope and died in prison last year.

It cost about one million dollars a year to keep Helen in prison, due to her health complications. In Louise‘s case, I actually have a breakdown for her incarceration. In her case, the average cost for an inmate incarcerated from 1985-1996 was $49K a year. It was $138K a year for every year after 1996. Being that they held her for 26 years beyond her legal earliest possible release date, taxpayers spent 2.6 million dollars to keep Louise incarcerated after they‘d already forked out over $340K for her originally determined sentence. Taxpayers forked out over six million for Helen to remain illegallly incarcerated.

So, when anyone asks me why I have zero faith in the Parole Board or governor‘s review, it is a lot easier to just share some of the stories of other lifers who should have been released, but weren‘t. Our legal system is crippled. Our prison system is hell bent to keeping lifers in custody for job security (Parole Board) and to help maintain the prisons with structure and balance. We are quite literally political prisoners. Nothing more, nothing less. I told you not just Louise and Helen‘s stories, but ours as well. There are four ways out of prison: escape, parole, the courts, and death. I only see one of those alternatives as actually reasonable. It will take a judge to release us. We don‘t want to end up like Helen. So if you question why I don‘t trust the Parole Board, read this piece again.

Medical Receiver

The court appointed receiver over all 33 California state prisons has made some waves that Arnold‘s administration is none too happy with. The receiver oversees all areas of the 33 medical departments. If he says they need to do this or change that, it gets done. The problem is that modification costs money … money the state doesn‘t have.

The receiver was originally appointed in 2006 to improve the dysfunctional medical system. There has been much success, beginning with replacing MTA‘s with RN‘s. An MTA is a cop with the title of Medical Technician‘s Assistant. At best, they handed out hot meds and bandages, and took your vital signs. They couldn‘t perform CPR if your life depended on it, nor did half of them care to. They couldn‘t tell an asthma attack from a heart attack, so they were the first thing to go, thank God, literally.

The receiver has since proposed the construction of a 10.000 bad medical facility at the cost of six billion dollars. Arnold choked on his spit, because he‘s already sitting on a projected $20 billion deficit through June 2011. The receiver modified his proposal to house 3,400 inmates at a mere 1.9 billion dollars. Arnold decided to try to get rid of the receiver, but in April the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federally appointed receiver can continue to improve medical for the 33 prisons.

It should be noted that the court pointed out in it‘s decision that, „The receivership was imposed only after the state admitted its inability to comply with consent orders intended to remedy the constitutional violation in its prisons.“ At least the Feds are looking out for us. Now, if only they‘d take over the entire prison system, including the Parole Board.

Q & A With T.C.

Q. Can you plant a garden at CCWF for fresh fruits & vegetables?

A. No. The prison wouldn‘t allow it, fearing we‘d bury contraband in the process to retrieve as needed. Also, there would be a lot of fighting over bully territory and theft by non-growers.

Q. What is going on with your college plans? Any changes?

A. No. The turmoil between staff runs off a top us, and the vice-principal has seen to it that the classroom we had been using, will once again become a staff breakroom. Even if we had a volunteer doctorate student to proctor for us, they would need to be here M-F 800-1500 hours. If they agreed to that, there‘d be no classroom availability, staff would see to that.

Q. Will Melissa Huckaby go to CCWF now that she‘s sentenced?

A. Yes, it could happen. There are three women‘s prisons! CCWF and VSP in Chowchilla, and CIW in Frontera (Southern Cal). The woman guilty in the death of the little cantu girl in Tracy, CA will be housed at any of these three, but most likely at VSP, and in Protective Custody at first.

Q. Where can I find that song by Meatloaf that you shared in the last newsletter?

A. Not sure of original release, but I have it on Meatloaf‘s „Best of Meatloaf“ double cassette set.

Q. Does CCWF do anything special for 4th of July?

A. The first thingI‘ll do, is salute the American flag I have hanging over our cell door. I do that everyday. The prison has a BBQ every year with a hot dog, hamburger, beans, cofn, watermelon, salad, fruit crisp, and usually iced drink. There will be inmate sponsored games on the yard. The only fireworks we see are on TV. This year they elimanated hot dogs and melon.

Q. Can your mom get Omega-3 oil there at CCWF?

A. At our cost, yes. It is good for lowering the cholesterol, and I believe it is heart healthy to the blood pressure as well. They used to RX it to her, but then there‘s the budget cuts to contend with. In June I had decided to begin campagning for the quarterly box vendors to offer it with their other supplement options, but they beat me to it.

Q. You mention the almond orchards out of your window. Do you get lots of almonds to eat?

A. No, not at all. The entire area surrounding the prison is almond orchards. They are harvested by inmate labor, which is hard work in this valley‘s scorching heat for 12 cents an hour. The almonds are sold for profit by PIA FARM. I‘ve elected to order raw untreated almonds in our quarterly box. No salt, no sugar, no coating. Good for the heart!

Q. Did the box vendors grant your request for better water immersion heaters (stingers) and Vegan Friendly Foods?

A. No. The stingers are still that worthless NORPRO brand. Union Supply says they forwarded my letter to their marketing dept. They didn‘t offer the Vegan friendly foods yet, but did grant my request for more diabetic friendly foods that are sugar-free to watch glucose levels. You win some, you need to pester for more. My mission continues, I never learned how to quit once I advocate for something.

A Few Corrections

In the previos newsletter, a type in a particular had a few of you scratching your heads. Mom had her hysterectomy in the free world in 1976, over thirty years ago. No, it was not here at CCWF in 1996.

The website to find the petition to help save the dolphins from slaughter in Japan is SaveJapanDolphins.com. The typo read SAFE instead of SAVE. Sorry about that.

Anna has to contend with my carpal tunnel penmanship in transferring my written words into the newsletter format. So, whenever there is a typo, it‘s most likely on me. With English being her second language, she does a pretty darn good job in helping make this newsletter. As a matter of fact, it wouldn‘t be possible without her.

Medication Cutbacks

There has been a notification flyer posted that effective the end of this year, many of the prescriptions we receive will be eliminated. Those medications are selective items such as cough drops, cold and flu items, digestive aids, and all vitamin supplements. We will be expected to purchase these items on canteen (except not all are available due to shelf space), or in our quarterly boxes. So, what is the indigent inmate expected to do? In a word: suffer.

Mom and I both have GERD (acid reflux disease) thanks to two decades of prison food. We take generic brand of Prilosec on a daily basis. That is on the hit list! We cannot find relief throughTums … not good enough. If the CMO refuses to fill an RX for Prilosec, I will file a 602. We are property of the State. Take care of us or let us go! That‘s my motto.

The canteen sells Motrin, but not Aspirin. Motrin will kill your kidneys, and mom‘s are already in trouble. Aspirin is iffy as to being on the hit list.

The entire purpose is to save money, but at the risk of making our health worse. This decision has ironically came down from Clark Kelso, the current Medical Receiver who is supposed to be on our side! He‘s trying to cut over $800 million in the medical budget to pacify Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he‘s cutting medications and outside specialists, I have to wonder just who‘s best interests he‘s interested in. I‘m not feeling too confident that it is ours anymore.

AB2232

Assembly Bill 2232 is before the Assembly Public Safety Committee. This is a move to raise our medical co-pay from the current five dollar fee, to ten dollars. Yes, even in prison, we have to pay for our medical care, even if half of our conditions are due to the prison lifestyle.

If I have six dollars on my acccount, they will take five just to see the doctor. In the near future that visit may not even gain a much needed RX. If I have no money, they‘ll place a hold on my account and require that I pay that debt before I can buy a bar of soap or tube of toothpaste.

So, if I have no money and I see that doctor, who will not be allowed to prescribe meds I may need, why see the doctor at all? If I pay the co-pay but have nothing left to pay for my meds if available on canteen, why see the doctor at all? I think the goal here is to discourage us from requesting to see the doctor. Cut our available meds and double the co-pay fee, which many cannot afford. This may permit the CDCR to cut staff positions to save money. Yes, I think that‘s their plan.

What Is Considered Indigent Status?

If you have one dollar or less, you‘re indigent. If you have one dollar and one cent or more, you‘re rich.

If you qualify for indigent status, you‘ll receive one bag of hygine product a month: shampoo, hair grease, flossers, toothpaste, horrible toothbrush and vaseline tube. You‘ll also receive 20 stamped envelopes.

If you don‘t qualify because you have over one dollar and a penny, good luck, you‘ll need it. Shampoo on canteen is one-eighthy. You can‘t even afford two bars of the cheapest soap! Indigent status used to be $5 or less, but the budget decided to affect the inmate population in a harsher way. You cannot buy your hygiene for the month for even $5, let alone one buck! What a joke.

If you‘re wondering what an indigent inmate does to survive, they either get a hustle in here, or those with more, help those with less. They system counts on that. It saves them money.

Late Breaking News!

The filmmaker Yoav Potash completed the documentary on Deborah Peagler‘s life story. It is called „Crime After Crime“, and is due to be released next year.

I‘m glad to report that Debbie was able to view the film at a February 4th premier screening.

For more on the film, visit the website FreeDebbie.org and there may be links to the film.

How Much Does A Guard Make?

A lot! A whole lot!

An officier with seniority is set at $50 an hour, but due to a recent budget crisis pay cut of 15%, they began to make $35. Talk about a difference in comfort! Many of the officiers who got the cut are considering retirement, in which they‘ll receive 90% of their salary, plus full benefits.

On average, a guard makes over $15K in overtime pay a year! Prison is a money making industry. However, their union fought the 15% pay cut and left Sacramento no alternative –they got cut down to minimum wage. On 7/16/10, Arnold reversed that decision.

Help Us, Help To Free Molly Kilgore ….. Please?

In the earlier stories I shared of Helen & Louise, I imagine you found it upsetting.. If so, Molly Kilgore‘s plight should be equally upsetting, however it is not too late to help her gain a second chance. After all, wouldn‘t we all want one?

Molly Kilgore was sentenced in 1979 at the age of twenty, to 7 years-to-life. I was in the ninth grade that year. The average person would assume that by 1985 at her earliest possible release date, she‘d have been paroled. That is not the case. Since 1985, she has had 14 Parole Suitability Hearings, having been found suitable by a court of law in 2005 and finally once by the Parole Board in December 2010. As mentioned before, Proposition 89 grants the governor the power to reverse the Parole Board‘s suitability finding, and that‘s just what Schwarzenegger did recently.

Molly has served 31 years on a 7-years-to-life sentence. She is 51 years old and still fighting for her freedom 27 years past her legal matrix release date. The Board gave her hope for a real New Year when they found her suitable on December 30, 2009. She had hope for a new life ….. a second chance. Arnold however, with absolutely no training in the law, burst her bubble in June 2010 by not agreeing with the findings of his hand picked Parole Board.

There are various excuses that the Board and governor tend to use to deny parole. The most common one is the heinow act of the crime. While the law reads that they are to judge us according to our prison record, they still get away with putting us on trial every single time we appear before them. Again, I will state the obvious: We cannot change our pasts or our crimes. We can only change ourselves to become better people that can fit within the norms of a collective society. In her 2009 hearing, they finally didn‘t hold an inquisition in the death of her victim. They judged her on her records she clearly had been rehabilitated.

Do you want to know why Arnold denied Molly parole? It is the very same obstacle most lifers can‘t hurdle. She didn‘t have employment plans arranged in writing and confirmed for the Board. May I remind you that this is not easy in a stable economy, let alone this one we are facing now? Most employers require a job interview, and well, you‘re supposed to go to them for that, not them coming to prison to do it. They also need to know when you can start, but you won‘t know that answer until you are actually released. Unless you have family or a friend in a position to hold a job open for you indefinitely, this is a catch-22. Employers won‘t grant you a job unless you will be released, and the Board & Governor require you to have a job before you can be released. It‘s almost impossible.

The Board was completely satisfied with Molly‘s many resources for houseing, community support and outreach. They were impressed by the support of both custody & civilian staff at the prison, her vocational skills, accomplishments in the Educational Department, and her ability to adapt and work in unison where ever the prison officials placed her. She‘s been write-up free since 1989, yet they did manage to throw that in her face (although she‘s maintained disciplinary-free for nineteen years!) Do you have any idea how hard that is to do in a place like this? She has an exemplary C-file of progress and achievement reports. Molly has proven that change is possible. Although the prison has continued to cut educational, shelf-help, and just about every rehabilitation option and resource we need, Molly Kilgore has persevered. Even with less, she‘s done more.

I‘m asking that you do three things. First, write a letter in support of her release, using many things I already mentioned in this piece to support your request of consideration. Second, send a copy directly to Molly and one to her counselor listed at end of this piece. And third, visit a petition web site set-up for Molly in support of her release. As of mid-July, there were 69 signatures on her petition.

If each of you signs that petition, we can almost double that! E-mail this newsletter to others who may be interested, and let‘s get more people aware of the politics of prison and parole policy.

Molly Kilgore is one of the women at CCWF that is deserving of a second chance. Society could benefit from her release. So far, it has cost California over two million dollars to keep Molly incarcerated past her legal release date. When is enough ……. enough?

Mail letter to:

Molly Kilgore Central CA Women‘s Facility

W14177 514-05-3L Attn. CCI BRADFORD

P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1501

Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Web site: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Free-Molly_Kilgore-31-years-is-enough

From The Heart

„Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.“ – proverbs 19:20

When I came to prison I had a chip on my shoulder. I was mad at everything, especially the legal system. I had to deal with anger issues, my past, and really poor judgement. There are a lot of younger lifers coming in here and it‘s the older lifers who try to exercise a service that advise the Proverb above. We reach some, we lose some to peer mentality, but in the end we simply do our part to keep things less hectic and help the youngsters get started on the road ahead. It is what others did for us, and we keep the cycle going. I‘m not so angry anymore. I needed counsel, correction and instruction.

So I say from the heart to you: Thank you for your part in the long process. It‘s been a journey; a learning experience. And it still is.

Namasté

T.C. & Mama ´P´

T.C. Paulinkonis Barbara Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-4L

P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Girl in TranslationGirl in Translation by Jean Kwok
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Dear One and All in my world.

the recent sentencing of seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders in Iran, impels me to place on my personal blog a request that anyone and everyone who is able or willing to write to the repreentative of their congressional district and to their senators about the unjust sentences of 20 years. We seek humanity’s assistance.

Background information and updates about this situation are available at http://iran.bahai.us and http://news.bahai.org. We, the Baha’is in my area (San Gabriel Valley, California, USA) are enlisting the support of our friends and co-workers, as well as other faith communities and civic organizations, to take whatever actions within their power to shine a spotlight on the Irananian government’s behavior. We respectfully suggest that one should never underestimate the effect their words can have in making the Iranian authorities aware they cannot violate basic standards of international human rights unseen by a watchful world.

For thos who can support this cause, please know that it will bring solace and comfort to the hearts of the long-suffering Iranian Baha’is.

You can find who your senators and congressional representatives are by visiting http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.

Below is a suggested example of a letter to write to an official. Gratitude to all who care and let us hope some day the oneness of humankind will be a reality and suffering of all the peoples will be a thing of the past.

Dear Senator ___?___/Representative___?___,

The Baha’is of Iran have been subject to religious persecution and
execution for the past thirty years at the hands of the Islamic
Republic regime of Iran. Recently the Islamic Republic court
sentenced seven innocent former Baha’i leaders to twenty years of
imprisonment each – a total of 140 years. These seven innocent
Baha’is have already been in prison for over two years awaiting trial.

The flagrantly unjust sentence has provoked vehement protest from
governments throughout the world – including Australia, Canada,
France, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S.A. Most
recently, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a
statement condemning the sentence and reaffirming that the American
government has not forgotten the beleaguered Baha’is of Iran. The
following is a link to Clinton’s recent statement:
http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/08/145953.htm

I urge you to take whatever actions are within your power to shine a
spotlight on the Iranian government’s gravely unjust behavior. Your
words and actions will have a powerful effect in making the Iranian
authorities aware that they cannot violate basic standards of
international human rights concealed from a watchful world.

Background information and updates about the situation are available
at http://iran.bahai.us and http://news.bahai.org.

Your words of support will bring comfort and solace to the hearts of
the long-suffering Iranian Bahá’ís, the American Baha’i community and
human rights advocates all over the world who keep watch with these
innocent prisoners.

Sincerely,
___?___

Little BeeLittle Bee by Chris Cleave
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel as if an ocean roared through my being, and I’ll never be the same. Outstanding novel, incredible writing. A must

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CaucasiaCaucasia by Danzy Senna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Danzy Senna is an incredible writer; her prose is very tight and descriptive involved with motion, either external or internal. The subject matter is profound, and I heard her read a week or so ago at the California Pacific Modern Art Museum – they have a reader’s series. She was a Stanford undergradute and a UCIrvine MFA student; their program is excellent, and her craft is top notch and her subject race, so profoundly handled, all dimensions were fabulous. I also read her other book Where Did You Sleep Last night; very good; as I said, her writing is incredible. This is a must read from my point of view. Boy, do I wish her well!

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