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Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 11 October 2017 - The San Bernardino American News

Witness For Justice #862 - It is up to us to stop gun violence

Truly God is good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Psalm 73:1-3

"The worst mass shooting in modern American history."

We’ve heard these words before. We’ve heard them far too often only to have the next mass shooting supersede the former. During the night, people attending an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas unexpectedly found themselves assaulted by gunfire from the 32nd floor of the Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Early reports indicate this violence is the work of a lone, 64-year-old, white gunman equipped with multiple assault weapons. It is too early to know whether we will ever have knowledge of his provocation for this deadly act. It is too early to know what life experiences he may have had, or what propaganda he may have absorbed, that might have moved him from hateful thought to hateful action.

But what we do already know, even if we refuse to admit it, is that this lone gunman was able to execute at least 59 people, and wound over 500 more, because our nation’s absolute refusal to enact responsible gun legislation provides easy access to high-powered assault weapons used to kill human beings.

According to data gathered by the CDC, on average there are 12,000 gun homicides a year in the United States, and for every one person killed with a gun, two more are injured. What we know is that of the guns sold in the U.S. one in five are sold without background checks.

What we also know is that soon the predictable rhetoric exhorting the false notion that guns do not kill people will begin again, and gun lobbyists will line up to offer condolences for lives lost without offering proposals of any comprehensive gun reform to lessen the probability of this type of massacre ever happening again. What we know is we will spend our time analyzing the mental health of the shooter while excusing the moral decay of this nation.

In Psalm 73, the psalmist cries out for relief from oppressors while simultaneously acknowledging the temptation to stray from those things we know to be morally just. In this Psalm we are reminded of the necessity to heed the teaching and the love of the Lord, lest we become adorned with pride and clothed in violence.

My heart weeps for those who are waking this morning to notifications of the deaths and injuries of loved ones needlessly gunned down last night. My heart weeps for a nation that will once again gather to mourn the dead without committing to the deeper work of sensible gun reform. May the groaning pains of this nation lift us up from our praying knees to call on our policymakers to demand legislative changes to gun laws in this country. May we stop wringing our hands in helpless disbelief and satiating our hearts with false narratives of lone gunmen. Because until we do all we can to prevent such mass shootings, no gunman acts alone. From Sandy Hook to Texas to Charleston to Virginia Tech to Pulse to Las Vegas…Lord, hear our cries and compel us to act.

Visit our website for eight actions that you can begin today.



“What a Tragedy It Would Be…!”

To have gone through your whole life and at the end of it, look back, and realize that you spent all your time, money and energy on things that were pointless and had no value or worth. [Mark 8:36]. I tell you, we should all pray as Moses did in [Psalms 90] for God’s help to understand the great value of our limited time and how to make the most of each day. Of all that Moses could have asked, he simply asked, “Lord, teach us to make the most out of everyday... teach us to number our days.” Moses understood that his time here on earth was short; soon it would come to an end. Moses didn’t want to waste his time; he didn’t want to waste his life –So he cried out, “Lord, teach us to number our days... Interestingly, in the New Testament, the apostle Paul says, “So be careful how [you] live, not as fools but as those who are wise…” [Ephesians 5:15-16]. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” [James 4:13-15].

Listen, over and over again, the Bible exhorts us to redeem the time. Like Moses, we have to learn to number our days. We must not waste our time, opportunities, or our life . Don’t be like Belshazzar who in [Daniel 5:1-31] was living for this life. Living to gratify his flesh with absolutely no thought for eternity. Partying, playing, and living for the good times, never realizing that there will come a day when the fun will end. He never stopped and asked this one important question: What will happen when the party’s over? I tell you Belshazzar is an example of a wasted life. He died a sinner’s death and went to Hell. And he is still there today, [Luke 16:19-31]. Things did not have to turn out the way they did for Belshazzar. He knew the truth about God, yet he failed to act on it.

I want you to know that the story of Belshazzar is a story of one tragedy piled on top of another. But, his story does not have to be your story. The ending to your story has yet to be written. Your story does not have to be one of a wasted life, the wrath of God and a wretched death. Your story can have a happy ending. I am asking you to make sure of your relationship with Christ. Christ demands more than just churchgoing, more than just baptism, more than just being good. He demands your total surrender—the surrender of your mind, your heart, your body, every part of you—to the Lordship of Christ. If you have a doubt in your heart that you have totally surrendered to Christ, do it now. Make sure of your salvation. Make certain that you know Christ. Repent of your sins. Confess your sins, acknowledge them and turn from them. Receive Jesus Christ into your heart by faith, making a total commitment to Him, and to Him alone. End your life well, to the glory of God.

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; what shall it be for you and I if we follow suit….[2Peter 2:4-8].

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, [and] that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he [is] thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.[Deuteronomy 30: 19-20]


Faith Leaders Asked to Deliver Non-Violence Messages During 5th Annual Week of Non-Violence, Justice and Opportunities, Oct. 15-23, 2017

2017 marks the 5th Annual Week of Non-Violence, Justice and Opportunities Initiative, October 15-23, 2017, organized by Black Women for Positive Change (BW4PC) and a network of partners. Faith leaders are asked to deliver messages of non-violence during worship services to promote anger management, conflict resolution and non-violence. The Honorary Chair of the Week is Harry Belafonte. Legendary Civil Rights leader and Honorary Co-Chair Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., states, "According to the four Gospels, Jesus of Nazareth was a non-violence soul force athlete. Why has not Christianity followed the one they call Christ? During the 2017 Week of Non-Violence I urge my fellow Ordained Ministers to preach and teach how Jesus calls the earth to a non-violent life where soul force helps us solve our violent human issues."

Diane Powell, Chair of the Pittsburgh Chapter of BW4PC says, "We're not trying to dictate to faith leaders. Rather, we're asking faith leaders to utilize weekly messages as important opportunities to highlight the ills of gun violence, extremism and hatred and how these things threaten to destroy the soul of our country." Marcus Hughes, Chair, of the Millennial Committee said, "We are asking Faith Leaders to lead Prayer Chains with their congregations outside Faith Institutions to ring bells, and pray for peace in our communities. This will be a tangible demonstration of love, peace and unity. We also invite faith leaders to a Intergenerational Rally, Washington, D.C. Saturday, October 21, 2017, 10am - 2 pm." (See attached flyer)

Rabbi Batya Glazer, Director of Social Justice and Interfaith Initiatives, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and Member of BW4PC stated, "Once again we are reminded the weapons are tools of war and God's vision for the world is a vision of peace. It is our responsibility to create a world which reflects this vision, where we can reflect the mission stated in the Book of Psalms, 'Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!' This is the mission of the 2017 Week of Non-Violence, Justice and Opportunities." BW4PC Chaplain Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds said, "I echo the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said, 'We have a choice today. Nonviolent co-existence or violent annihilation within and without our nation. This may be mankind's last chance to choose between chaos and community.' Non-violence is not an option, it is a matter of life and death, the only way to put an end to the steady preaching of eulogies for those who died too soon or too young."

Honorary Co-Chairs are Lucy McBath, Spokeswoman, Moms Demand Action for Gun Violence Prevention; Kemba Smith, Social Justice Advocate; Former Congresswoman Diane Watson (CA); Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Chair, SCLC; Chris Daniel, Project Management Expert; Michelle Bernard, MSNBC Anchor and Travis Winkey, Fashion Industry Executive. Partners are National Black Nurses Association; National Organization of Black Law Enforcement (NOBLE); Next Generation Action Network; Highmark, Inc., Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; United Steelworkers Union; Wednesday Clergy Fellowship; Masjid Muhammad, the Nations Mosque; Holman United Methodist Church, Los Angeles; 100 Fathers Inc.; DC Alliance of Concerned Men; Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington; D.C., DC Cable TV; One Common Unity (partial listing). For more information go to www.


Grow Your Own The Importance of Urban Agriculture

We've seen corporate America reap the benefits of its own disgrace with our tax dollars and, therefore, at the expense of all of us. Corporate America along with government support just keeps hitting us over the head. It's too much! One sector that's not been the focus of attention lately is corporate agribusiness that should be intensely scrutinized. But we're beginning to see some changes locally that are encouraging. The interest in urban agriculture, in fact, and more attention to food issues in America is a case in point and a counterpoint to corporate agribusiness.

Understanding the history of agriculture in America and the advent of industrialized corporate agribusiness is important to help all of us understand where we are now and what needs to be done. We will touch upon it here, but only briefly. Nevertheless, how corporate agribusiness weaves into our lives at virtually all levels has been insidious. It's time to turn this around.

The United States is an urban country. Recent demographics reveal that 81% of the U.S. population lives in cities or suburbs of cities. One of the realities of this, however, is that many of the folks living in urban areas are former farmers or families of farmers who have been forced off the land in the 20th century - particularly since post-Second World War. This has been the result of an industrialized and increasingly globalized agriculture in America.

Corporate involvement in agriculture has also largely been intensified since post-Second World War. Some refer to it inappropriately as the "green revolution" - it should instead be called the "corporate chemical revolution". It has led to the industrialization even of the basics of the food system and that being seeds. Whoever controls the seeds controls agriculture and farmers have historically been the caretakers of this most important and invaluable resource. Corporate America, the likes of Monsanto and others, have patented and genetically modified many of these precious seeds and by doing so have taken farmers, as much as possible, out of competition and away from being the caretakers of our food system.

When making the above statement about seeds, however, it's important to mention also that many farmers and community groups throughout the world have taken action to counter this trend by saving seeds and therefore protecting our heritage seeds as much as possible. Organic farmers will access this important resource or save the seeds themselves for the next year's crop as farmers have always done historically and that corporate agribusiness has been trying to prevent.

Sadly, the American public has not been vigilant in protecting itself or others throughout the world from corporate agribusiness much less from corporate supported genetically modified seeds. This has been coupled with an increased reliance on chemicals in our food system - even in some of the seeds themselves. Europe, for example, is wisely banning GMO seeds and has for some time. European researchers are now indicating that kidney and liver problems can result from GMO corn from seeds produced by the Monsanto. This will be debated for some time as Monsanto will do whatever it wants to do in twisting the facts to benefit itself - the company has generally had the free ride in America.

The point is, however, the Europeans use the "precautionary" principle for their population. They don't let products possibly considered unsafe into the food system - they will take the necessary precautionary steps before allowing potentially unsafe foods into their countries. Why don't we in America apply the same principle? Why should we let Monsanto experiment on us and others throughout the world?

Americans have essentially handed over their food and well being to corporate agribusiness. We're all vulnerable because of that. We've seen our communities become more obese, with more high blood pressure, cancers and a whole host of problems we are now trying to contend with. "Food Rules" writer Michael Pollan wisely makes the point that when going to the grocery stores people should only buy what's on the periphery of the store because that's were all the fresh and healthy foods are generally located. That's what we need to eat, he says, and not all the junk food from corporate America that have all kinds of additives and sodium and chemicals that have been partly responsible for destroying our health. How can we change this?

The hopeful sign in America is that in the last agriculture census in 2007 we have seen an increase in the number of small farmers in America and an increase in women farmers. We are also seeing an increase in farmers markets and direct marketing (farmer-to-consumer) generally across the country. These are positive signs. This is somewhat countered by the loss of middle range farmers and more consolidation of huge corporate farms as indicated in the 2007 census. Nevertheless, we are witnessing some positive changes in the agriculture landscape in America.

We are also seeing an increase in urban agriculture in America. With it jobs are being created along with healthy, fresh affordable produce all of which are now beginning to become available in communities throughout the country. Even Tom Vilsack, Obama's Secretary of Agriculture, has created an urban garden right on the property of the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington DC. The First Lady Michelle Obama has also initiated a garden on the White House grounds. The trend is a positive one.

Why urban agriculture? Because, we as Americans need to re-claim our food sovereignty. It's as simple as that and as profound as that. Plus, most of us are now living in cities. If that's where we are, we need to be growing our own food and feeding our own families and communities. Existing farmers in rural areas should be doing the same. Most are generally growing for corporate America with their major commodity production such as corn, soy, cotton or cattle. Some are engaged in diverse and healthy vegetable production but we need more of them. Rural farmers too need to be growing food for their families and communities as most have generally done historically. So farmers, whether in rural or in urban America, can be growing organic and healthy foods and all of us can be part of that solution by supporting them and encouraging this and/or in growing produce ourselves.

In addition to the above, and to summarize, urban agriculture can play a critical role in reversing many of the negative aspects of industrial agriculture. Urban farming enhances the health of metropolitan residents, creates "green" jobs, produces affordable locally grown organic fruits and vegetables; teaches people to grow their own foods; re-connects people to their food and the land; and strengthens the environment through reduced fossil fuel dependence.

It seems that turning away from relying on corporate America to generate wealth and well-being is perhaps one of the most valid positions we can take right now. We can do this by strengthening our locally owned and controlled economies, keeping wealth in our own communities and even and especially by growing our own food.


Heather Gray is the producer of "Just Peace" on WRFG-Atlanta 89.3 FM covering local, regional, national and international news as well as having worked in agriculture in Southeast United States for more than 20 years. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


K. Rashid Nuri is an organic urban farmer and agricultural educator in Atlanta, Georgia and is founder of the Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture, Georgia. He brings forty years of experience to this work. Rashid has lived and worked in over 30 countries around the world. He has managed public, private and community-based food and agriculture businesses. Rashid served four years as a Senior USDA Executive in the Clinton administration. He is a graduate of Harvard College, where he studied Political Science, and has a M.S. in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Massachusetts. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


This now edited article first appeared on Counterpunch.


Jemele Hill Suspended after Tweets About Cowboys Owner

ESPN has suspended one of its hosts, Jemele Hill, after she posted a series of tweets pertaining to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said players who demonstrate during the national anthem will be benched.

“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said. “Understand? We will not … if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”

Hill criticized Jones for putting some of his players in an uncomfortable spot and called on fans to take action.

ESPN posted a statement on Twitter, which referred to Hill’s previous tweets about President Donald Trump, calling the posts “impulsive.”

“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines. She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet. In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”

Vice President Mike Pence left Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers when the latter team knelt during the national anthem.

In a statement Monday, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said the players’ actions are not disrespecting the flag.

“Last week both the Commissioner and the Chair of the NFL Management Council John Mara were clear when they assured our union leaders, in the presence of other owners, that they would respect the Constitutional rights of our members without retribution,” he said. “I look forward to the day when everyone in Management can unite and truly embrace and article what that Flag stands for: ‘Liberty and Justice for All’ instead of some of them just talking about standing. We look forward to continuing our talks with them on this very issue.”

A look at his own remarks.

Last month Hill called Trump a white supremacist on Twitter. Her words caught the attention of the White House: Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Hill’s tweets “a fireable offense” at a subsequent press briefing.

Hill later said she regretted that her comments “painted ESPN in an unfair light.” But she stood by her remarks as her personal beliefs.

Trump on Tuesday attacked Hill on Twitter.

Some responded with criticism, both for the nature of his tweet and the fact that he perhaps has more important things he could devote his Twitter fingers to.

According to a new set of guidelines issued by ESPN earlier this year, “commentary related to political or social issues, candidates or office holders is appropriate on ESPN platforms.”

A subsequent list of guidelines suggests that such commentary pertains to sports whenever possible and to “avoid personal attacks and inflammatory rhetoric.”

“Personal attacks” and “inflammatory rhetoric” are subjective terms, Patrick Stiegman shared in an interview with ESPN analyzing the guidelines. Stiegman is ESPN’s vice president of global digital content. He also serves as chairman of the company’s internal Editorial Board.

“There is always a layer of subjectivity in such areas,” Stiegman said. “Editors and producers will work with those offering opinions on these topics to ensure the dialogue and debate is thoughtful, respectful and as fair as possible.”

While not appearing to discipline Hill publicly after the Trump tweets, according to an exclusive from ThinkProgress, ESPN did try to keep Hill off the air after the incident. Several sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the outlet that Michael Smith, Hill’s SportsCenter co-host, refused to do the show without Hill, and the network could not find replacement hosts in time for the broadcast.

Some of the sources said that ESPN was ideally seeking Black hosts to do the show, but others said the network asked multiple people if they were available, including white anchors. Apparently not able to find a replacement, ESPN asked Hill to come back to do the show, and she and Smith appeared on air.

ThinkProgress also reported that ESPN denies that account of the day’s events.

“Yesterday was a hard and unusual day, with a number of people interpreting the day without a full picture that happened,” Rob King, SportsCenter SVP of news and information, shared with the outlet. “In the end, ultimately, Michael and Jemele appearing on the show last night and doing the show the way they did is the outcome we always desired.”

ESPN reported to ThinkProgress and other media outlets that they “never asked” anyone to fill in for Hill or Smith.


ACLU Filing Lawusuit Challenging Trump Administration Contraceptive Coverage Rule

NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a lawsuit today against the Trump Administration challenging interim final rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies that would allow nearly all employers (except publicly traded companies) to deny their employees insurance coverage for contraception if the employer has a religious or moral objection.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of members of the ACLU and Service Employee International Union-United Health Care Workers West (SEIU-UHW) who are at risk of losing their contraception coverage because of where they work or where they go to school.

Kate Rochat is an ACLU member who is a law student at the University of Notre Dame and who stands to lose her access to contraceptive health care because of the rule. “No woman should ever be denied health care because her employer or university’s religious views are prioritized over her serious medical needs,” said Rochat.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU argues that the interim rules violate the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution by authorizing and promoting religiously motivated and other discrimination against women seeking reproductive health care. The ACLU is joined by co-counsel Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP as well as the ACLUs of Northern California, Southern California, and San Diego in bringing forward the lawsuit.

The Trump Administration is forcing women to pay for their boss’s religious beliefs,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri. “We’re filing this lawsuit because the federal government cannot authorize discrimination against women in the name of religion or otherwise.”

Dave Regan, the President of SEIU-UHW, said, “With the stroke of a pen, the Trump administration has shamelessly attempted to rip away the rights of untold numbers of women to receive essential healthcare, under the warped facade of ‘religious freedom.’ Apparently, ‘religious freedom’ to this administration is the freedom to allow bosses to make medical decisions for and discriminate against female employees. Women in the workplace need compassionate care, not doors slammed in their faces by their employers.”

This press release is online at :


Medicare Open Enrollment Season Is Here

When you shop for a new car, you don’t just buy the first one you see, do you?

Probably not. You usually shop around, looking for the best deal you can get on a vehicle that fits your driving needs as well as your pocketbook.

Well, it’s the time of year when you should think about shopping around for a Medicare health or drug plan.

Medicare’s open enrollment period begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7, 2017.

If you have Original Medicare, meaning that you can choose any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare, you don’t need to think about open enrollment.

But if you have a Medicare Advantage (Part C) health plan, or a Medicare (Part D) prescription drug plan, you may want to see whether there’s another plan on the market that would be a better match for you, at a lower price.

If you’re enrolled in a plan and you’re happy with it, you don’t need to do anything.

But Medicare health and drug plans – run by private insurers approved by Medicare – can change from year to year. A plan can raise its monthly premium or drop a medicine that you need.

So it makes good sense to review your coverage each year. Make sure your plan still is a good fit for you in terms of cost, coverage, and quality.

If it isn’t, look for another plan.

During open enrollment, you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage health plan or Part D prescription drug plan, or switch from one plan to another. Your new coverage will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

How do you shop for a new plan?

One way is the “Medicare & You” handbook, mailed each fall to every Medicare household in the country. This booklet lists all the Medicare health and drug plans available where you live, along with basic information such as premiums, deductibles, and contacts.

There’s also the Medicare Plan Finder, at

Look for a green button that says, “Find health & drug plans.” Click on that, plug in your zip code, and you’ll see all of the Medicare Advantage and Part D plans available in your area. You can compare them based on benefits, premiums, co-pays, and estimated out-of-pocket costs. Contact information for the plans is listed.

If you don’t have access to a computer, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Our customer service representatives can help you with questions about Medicare health and drug plans. The call is free.

Another terrific resource is the State Health Insurance and Counseling Program.

SHIP is an independent, nonprofit organization that provides free, personalized counseling to people with Medicare. You can make an appointment to speak with a SHIP counselor in-person or over the phone.

SHIP counselors are well-trained volunteers who often are enrolled in Medicare themselves, so they know the issues. They can help you sort through different health and drug plans and help find one that’s right for you.

To contact your local SHIP office, go to

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan as of Jan. 1, 2018 but you’re not satisfied with it, you have a 45-day window to dis-enroll. Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 14, 2018, you can drop your plan and return to Original Medicare. You can also sign up for a Part D drug plan during that time.


Having trouble paying for your Part D plan? You may be eligible for the Extra Help program, which helps cover your premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Medicare beneficiaries typically save about $4,000 annually with Extra Help.

For more information on Extra Help, go to

Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).


HIV Criminalization Laws Disproportionately Affect Marginalized Communities

LOS ANGELES – New research from the Williams Institute found that HIV criminalization laws in California were enforced inequitably and lacked consideration for modern medical advances related to HIV.

Women and people of color bear the heaviest burden of HIV criminal laws in California. Also, the state’s HIV-specific criminal laws do not take into account modern medicine, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the use of antiretroviral therapy treatment as prevention (TasP), which may inadvertently work against best public health practices.

The Williams Institute reports are the first to analyze California Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) data on the criminal history of all individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system under the state’s four HIV-specific criminal laws.

The vast majority of HIV-specific criminal incidents involve sex work. Until recently, if a person with a known HIV-positive status was arrested for solicitation, an act of agreeing to engage in sex acts in exchange for something of value, he or she could be charged with a felony under California’s HIV criminal laws. With the passage of a SB 239, the felony charge has been repealed.

Our studies show that certain marginalized communities are bearing more weight of the penal code than others. What’s more, these HIV criminal laws, which were originally intended to control the spread of HIV by prosecuting individuals who expose others, don’t require proof of transmission, or even exposure in most cases. So they’re not doing what they set out to do,” said Amira Hasenbush, lead author and Jim Kepner Law and Policy Fellow at the Williams Institute. “With SB 239, California’s criminal law treats HIV like any other communicable disease.”

Key findings from each study include:

HIV Criminalization in California: Penal Implications for People Living with HIV/AIDS

The vast majority of HIV-specific criminal incidents (95 percent) involved sex work.

Women made up 43 percent of those who came into contact with the criminal justice system based on their HIV-positive status, but were only 13 percent of the people living with HIV during the time period reviewed.

Black people and Latino/as made up two-thirds (67 percent) of those who came into contact with the system related to these offenses, but made up only half (51 percent) of the people living with HIV.

Across all HIV-related crimes, white men were significantly more likely to be released and not charged (60 percent) than expected. Black men (36 percent), Black women (43 percent) and white women (39 percent) were significantly less likely to be released and not charged.

HIV Criminalization against Immigrants in California

From 1988 to June 2014, 800 people have come into contact with the California criminal system related to their HIV-positive status. Among those individuals, 121 (15 percent) were foreign born.

Thirty-six people, or 30 percent, of these foreign-born individuals, had some form of a criminal immigration proceeding in their histories. Of those individuals, nine (25 percent) had those proceedings initiated immediately after an HIV-specific incident.

While U.S. born people who came in contact with the California criminal system were divided fairly evenly between men and women, immigrants were overwhelmingly men: 88% of foreign born individuals in the group were men. Criminal records do not record gender identity separately from sex assigned at birth, so the number of transgender individuals is unknown.

HIV Criminalization in California: Evaluation of Transmission Risk

From 1988 to June 2014, 379 criminal incidents resulted in HIV-specific felony convictions or sentence enhancements.

Of those incidents, 100 percent required no proof of actual transmission of HIV and 98 percent did not require intent to transmit HIV.

93 percent involved no specific allegation of conduct that is likely to have transmitted the virus.

Current HIV criminal laws in California do not address the medical advances that antiretroviral medications and pre-exposure prophylaxis have made in reducing the risk of HIV transmission and extending the quantity and quality of life for people living with HIV.

HIV Criminalization and Sex Work in California

Between 2005 and 2013, women made up half of the population of California, but accounted for two-thirds of prostitution arrests.

Over that time period, women made up 12 percent of the people in California living with HIV, but accounted for 37 percent of those arrested for felony solicitation while HIV-positive.

Between 2005 and 2013, Black women made up 4 percent of all HIV-positive women in California, but accounted for an average 22 percent of the arrests for felony solicitation while HIV-positive. Of all the HIV-positive people living in California, Black women were the most overrepresented group for felony solicitation while HIV-positive.

These reports were made possible by funding from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the David Bohnett Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the California HIV/AIDS Research Program, California HIV/AIDS Policy Research Center, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, and the support of the California Women’s Law Center.


My Story: Founder of Sisters Network Shares “It Takes More Than A Mammogram” To Fight Breast Cancer

Most women believe that if they get their annual mammogram, they are being proactive with their breast health, but it doesn’t stop there. Karen E. Jackson, breast cancer survivor and founder and CEO of Sisters Network shares the keys to fighting against breast cancer and why knowledge is power. Check out her inspiring story…

BDO: How did you discover that you had breast cancer and what was your initial thought process after your diagnosis?

Karen: I became aware of my family history with breast cancer. I’ve always been a proactive person about my personal health so I started getting my mammogram since I was 35. At that time in the 80s, that was unheard of because they were telling women not to get mammograms at an early age, but I wanted to be proactive and I wanted to find out. I was very blessed that I was persistent in getting my mammogram, my intuition and listening to my body. I felt as though something was wrong with my breast. It was nothing to see but it was a feeling I had in my breast.

I was persistent in getting the doctor to tell me what other kind of tests were available because I didn’t know what else to ask for. They recommended the ultrasound and that was how I was able to find out that I had a cancer in my right breast for many years and that it was 3.5 centimeters. It wasn’t detected by the mammogram, so I’m one of those women who would have fallen through the cracks because I was only getting a mammogram. Actually it’s not enough for any woman. A mammogram only gives you 85% of what’s going on in your body. Don’t you want 100%?

BDO: What was your thought process after you found the cancer?

Karen: My mindset was that I was told I only had five years to live after being diagnosed. I was of the mindset that I was happy that I was persistent in getting the test, but I was concerned that five years was such a short time. I proactively changed my diet, I did exercise more—not that I never did, I just did it more. But more importantly, I felt as though that even if one doctor tells you one diagnosis, that’s not 100% and I had faith that I was not going to die from breast cancer. So I continued to have healthy habits, I never smoked and I didn’t think drink at any extent. I just tried to improve on the health things that I did know. I learned that there is no definitive thing that we can do that’s being recommended. You just have to have a healthy body to survive your cancer. It doesn’t stop you from getting it. But you can do better with your diagnosis if your body is in general good health.

BDO: How did you stay encouraged when you were fighting against breast cancer?

Karen: Well first and foremost, prayer is very powerful. Along with prayer, I feel as though your knowledge of the disease helps to strengthen you to fight because it gives you that control and that direction. Without knowledge you don’t have any sense of where you’re going with this disease. The sisterhood of surrounding yourself with positive people and that’s what I felt Sisters Network would do for myself and for others.BDO: What role did your support system or your sisterhood play in your healing process?

Karen: When I was diagnosed, I wanted to join a national organization because I felt as though there was more power in numbers and information sharing across the country would be a powerful tool. I wanted to be a part of a movement of survivors because that’s what I needed. I feel as though Sisters Network is the tool that’s used within our community to make women knowledgeable about where they’re going and give them the support but I was fortunate enough to have my husband, my daughter and friend to help me initially. I needed much more. I needed that sisterhood.

BDO: Do you see more organizations promoting sisterhood now?

Karen: I see local groups still forming, but there is no other national organization. In the future I’d like to see the individual groups that are forming in the different cities to come together collectively under a Sisters Network banner or under another banner because there is power in numbers. We’ll never be able to fight a good fight for our community without having the power of numbers. So I see collaboration between the different groups in the different communities coming together.

BDO: What are some of the success stories of Sisters Network?

Karen: We are able to impact young people which is something I’ve always wanted to do. We just started our Teens for Pink, and we’re starting to impact the lives of young girls between the ages of 12 and 16 with a breast health message that breast cancer is not a death sentence. We’re replacing fear with hope and information. They’re teen ambassadors who go back to their families and talk to their mothers, their grandmothers, their sisters and explain what breast health is about, what mammograms can do and they share this information. It gives them the power of bringing something impactful for their own families and it also gives them an opportunity to let their mothers, aunts and grandmothers to know that Sisters Network provides free mammograms and ultrasounds so it saves lives. BDO: Are you cancer-free today?

Karen: I am cancer-free and I’m also knowledgeable that as you age you’re more susceptible to cancer, so I’m just as vigilant as I’ve always been when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my left breast. I was able to find it at its earliest stage because I was intuitive and did my testing. I found it before it got to be a problem.

BDO: What’s the biggest lesson you learned about yourself?

Karen: I feel as though I’m an example to those who started with nothing can turn out to be something very powerful for yourself and for your community. We have to choose to continue the fight against breast cancer until there’s a cure so the fight is not over until cancer is over.


NAACP Calls Out FBI's Latest Report on "Black Extremists" as Déjà Vu

Baltimore, MD- According to a journalistic investigation by the news outlet Foreign Policy (FP) the FBI's counter-terroism division has identified a new threat-black identity extremists (BIE). The FBI's assessment is that BIE's "perception of police brutality against African Americans have spurred retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement". In response to this report the interim NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson has released the following statement:

"In a time when white supremacists are marching down city streets with loaded weapons and tiki torches- organizing rallies of terror around the country - it comes as a great shock that the FBI would decide to target black identity groups protesting police brutality and their right to exist free of harm as a threat.

"Sadly, this report comes as no surprise from an organization that has a history of targeting black civil rights groups and leaders, including wiretapping Martin Luther King Jr. and others fighting for civil rights in the 1960s.

"We do have a real threat in the United States and it's the rise of right-wing extremists, white nationalists and white supremacists, who have been emboldened by this administration. In light of this report, the NAACP is resolved to double down on our efforts to advance the rights of black Americans and people of color across this country. We remain steadfast and immovable in our fight for justice and equality - and we are not afraid."

About the NAACP

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP's work and our Economic Opportunity "Game Changer" issue by visiting

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