Massachusetts college apologizes after police called on black student eating lunch

Racists can even hide at Smith…


School staff to receive anti-bias training in response to employee calling 911 to report student, who says: ‘All I did was be black’

A Massachusetts college president is apologizing after campus police were called to investigate a black student quietly eating her lunch in a common room.

Smith College president Kathleen McCartney said in a letter Thursday that the college was hiring a “third-party investigator” to review the incident and that every Smith staff member would undergo mandatory anti-bias training.

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‘It is easy to be a terrorist, it’s much harder to pursue peace’

Eight months after she was sent to prison for filming her daughter slap an IDF soldier, Nariman Tamimi speaks about her time behind bars, the case for international pressure on Israel, and the way her family is treated by the Israeli media. ‘They know that Ahed is not a terrorist. If we wanted to be terrorists, we would be the exact opposite of who we are.’

By Oren Ziv

Nariman Tamimi (left), Bassem Tamimi (center), and Ahed Tamimi (right) walk into Nabi Saleh after Nariman and Ahed are released from Israeli prison, July 29, 2018. (Oren Ziv)

Nariman Tamimi (left), Bassem Tamimi (center), and Ahed Tamimi (right) walk into Nabi Saleh after Nariman and Ahed are released from Israeli prison, July 29, 2018. (Oren Ziv)

A day after Ahed and Nariman Tamimi’s release from prison on Sunday, media outlets, friends, and activists continued to flood the family in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Despite a decision not to permit one-on-one interviews, since Tuesday morning reporters from major international media outlets have stood in a giant tent outside the home, waiting to interview Ahed.


The questions have been nearly identical: how was prison? How does it feel to come home? What is your message to the Palestinian people? What are your plans for the future? Yet very few have shown interest in Ahed’s mother, Nariman, who was arrested hours after her daughter, and who also spent eight months in prison. On Sunday the two were released, but not before they were held for hours in a Israel Prison Service facility and then an IDF jeep, where they had their eyes covered until they were finally set free at the entrance to their village. I was the first to interview Nariman following her release.

On the day of their arrest, as Ahed and her cousin Nur confronted the IDF soldiers who entered the Tamimi family’s yard, Nariman decided to turn on the camera and live stream the incident on Facebook. “I began broadcasting so that everyone can see what happened here,” Nariman says as we sit in her yard. Between questions she gets up to welcome the guests who continue to stream in at all hours of the day.

“If you take a regular video, people will say it is staged, that it’s a lie. But when it happens live it is reality,” she adds. When I ask her about the prosecution’s claim that the live stream was meant to urge more people to come confront soldiers, she says that Nabi Saleh is so small that there is “no need for live broadcasts to let people know that the army has invaded the village.”

I first met Nariman in 2009, when the villagers of Nabi Saleh began demonstrating against the takeover of their spring by the settlers of nearby Halamish. Nariman and her husband Bassem were among the organizers of the protests; their children — including Ahed — took part as well, a decision that has led to criticism. “The soldiers invade the houses and streets during the day and night anyway, so at least the children don’t have wait at home in fear,” she told me back then. Nariman, who leads the weekly marches from the village to the spring, is one of the most determined activists I have ever met in the West Bank. Her various arrests (four in total), the incitement against her family, the death of her brother Rushdi — who was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in 2012 — have not hindered her struggle against the occupation.

Nariman Tamimi (right) leads a protest in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, October 19, 2012. (Oren Ziv)

Nariman Tamimi (right) leads a protest in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, October 19, 2012. (Oren Ziv)

“This wasn’t the first time I used Facebook Live,” she says, “but I never thought it would turn into such a big story.” The incident took place on a Friday, but Ahed was only arrested four days later — following pressure by the Israeli Right — by soldiers equipped with cameras. Nariman herself was arrested a few hours later as she arrived at the Sha’ar Binyamin police station. “They arrested Ahed at 3 a.m., I was arrested later that day. I didn’t see a thing on the news and I knew nothing. Our phones were with the police. Only when I came to the court (for her remand extension – O.Z.) and saw many people did I understand that this became a big deal.”

In jail, Nariman was horrified to discover that her family was being described as terrorists by the Israeli media. On Sunday, hours after they were released from prison, the Tamimi family held a press conference during which Ahed said that she would refuse to give interviews to Israeli news outlets, following the hostile coverage toward her family since the arrests. “After the arrests, there was a report on Jana (Ahed’s family member, who many have called ‘the youngest journalist in the world,’ and who reports from the village – O.Z.). The people in the studio called her ‘the second Ahed Tamimi’ and said that we raise terrorists without giving us the right to present our side. So why should I speak to them?” Ahed said during the press conference.



Until they signed their respective plea bargains in March, Ahed and Nariman’s trials were held at Ofer Military Court in the West Bank. In the meantime, they were held at the security wing for women at Hasharon Prison. As part of the plea bargain, Nariman was convicted of incitement. “Every single thing I publish on social media can be considered incitement,” she says, “they printed out a copy of my Facebook profile picture after I changed it to a photo of Rushdi.”

Since their release, Ahed and Nariman have been speaking out about the situation of Palestinian women in Israeli prisons. “The occupation treats men and women the same in prison. There is a head count in the morning, and at 10:30 we are allowed to walk around the ward for an hour. After that we are put back in our rooms until 2:30 when we are allowed to walk around until five,” Nariman tells me. Her room was built to hold four, although at times up to six women were living in her room, forcing some to sleep on mattresses on the floor. “The room was very small. We cooked together on an electric stove, and every two or three weeks we would have a large dinner for all the women.”

Ahed Tamimi, Bassem Tamimi, and Nariman Tamimi give a short statement to media outlets and supporters after the release of Ahed and Nariman from Israeli prison, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, July 29, 2018. (Oren Ziv/

Ahed Tamimi, Bassem Tamimi, and Nariman Tamimi give a short statement to media outlets and supporters after the release of Ahed and Nariman from Israeli prison, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, July 29, 2018. (Oren Ziv/

In prison, Nariman took advantage of her time and studied alongside Ahed for the Palestinian matriculation exam. Now, after their release and with a matriculation certificate in hand, Nariman intends to study at university. “In prison they tried to close our classroom,” she says, “but the prisoners’ spokeswoman told those in charge that we will continue to study no matter what.” The issue reached the warden, who permitted the women to continue studying.

Nariman is well aware of her family’s image in the Israeli mainstream, yet she insists on passing on a message to the public on the other side of the wall. “I say to everyone, use your head and search for the truth. You’ll be able to find it. They know that Ahed is not a terrorist. If we wanted to be terrorists, we would be the exact opposite of who we are. It is easy to be a terrorist or a murderer, it is much harder to pursue peace,” she says emphatically, “if I were a terrorist, I wouldn’t be able to talk to you, but I consider you my friend and my brother.”

She then turns to the international community, to whom she wants to send a different message: “The international community must do for the Palestinian struggle what it did for the Israelis and the Jews after the Holocaust when they were given a state that wasn’t theirs. Now it is time to return the land to the people to whom it belongs. You (the international community – O.Z.) brought these people here and created the hostility between us. Now you must put an end to it. Just like in South Africa when there was first international pressure followed by a solution. We need international pressure.”

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Pope Francis Formally Changes Catholic Church Stance on Death Penalty, Calling It “Inadmissible”

Pope Francis (pictured) has formally changed the official Catholic Church teaching on the death penalty, calling capital punishment “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and deeming it “inadmissible” in all cases. The Vatican’s August 2, 2018 announcement that it had revised its Catechism—the Church’s official compilation of teachings on a wide range of issues—to unambiguously oppose capital punishment also committed the Church to work “with determination” to abolish the death penalty worldwide. Prior to the revision, the Catechism used softer language on the death penalty, allowing it “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor,” while noting that “the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.’” In a letter to Bishops accompanying the change, Pope Francis wrote, “This conclusion is reached taking into account the new understanding of penal sanctions applied by the modern State, which should be oriented above all to the rehabilitation and social reintegration of the criminal. Finally, given that modern society possesses more efficient detention systems, the death penalty becomes unnecessary as protection for the life of innocent people.” His letter places the new stance in the context of the Church’s broader teachings on the dignity of human life, and previous statements by Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis on the need to end capital punishment. Vatican observers said there is no mistaking the political intent of the new revision. The letter to the bishops said the new doctrine sought to “give energy” to efforts working “for the elimination of the death penalty where it is still in effect.” Vatican expert and author John Thavis called Pope Francis’s action “the next logical step” in the evolution of formal Catholic opposition to the death penalty. “I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” Thavis said. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church.” The new catechism also poses a direct challenge to Catholic politicians like Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has sought to bring capital punishment back in his nation, and U.S. governors such as Greg Abbott and Pete Ricketts of Texas and Nebraska, who have made support for the death penalty a cornerstone of their policies. “There is no doubt the pope wants politicians to pay attention to this,” said John Gehring, the Catholic program director at the advocacy group Faith in Public Life. “He is not just speaking internally. The pope wants to elevate this as a definitive pro-life issue.”

(Edward Pentin, Pope Francis Changes Catechism to Say Death Penalty ‘Inadmissible’, National Catholic Register, August 2, 2018; Elisabetta Povoledo and Laurie Goodstein, Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All CasesNew York Times, August 2, 2018; Chico Harlan, Pope Francis changes Catholic Church teaching to say death penalty is ‘inadmissible’, Washington Post, August 2, 2018; Nicole Winfield, Pope seeks to abolish death penalty, changes church teaching, Associated Press, August 2, 2018.) See Religion.

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Orcas Are Dying, But There Is a Way to Save Them

Orcas Are Dying, But There Is a Way to Save Them

An orca calf’s death has brought renewed attention to the perilous situation for the whale species living in Washington state’s Puget Sound.

The Puget Sound orcas live in three pods named J, K, and L. Members of L pod, Admiralty Inlet, Oct. 10, 2009.

The Puget Sound orcas live in three pods named J, K, and L. Members of L pod, Admiralty Inlet, Oct. 10, 2009.

Tatiana Ivkovich / Shutterstock

Orcas in the Salish Sea, which spans Puget Sound and the waters around the islands and shores of Washington state and British Columbia, Canada, are struggling for their lives. Over the past few decades, their numbers have shrunk to a perilous 75 today. Most recently, the endangered species has caught national attention after a distraught mother orca was spotted carrying her dead calf across hundreds of miles, in an act of mourning.

Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman, who has been working to protect these orcas, for more than a decade, explains how safeguarding salmon—the orcas’ main food source—is essential to avoid extinction of the whales.

Why are these orcas so special?

One of the wonderful parts of working for Earthjustice is that you learn about the science as well as the law. One thing that really stuck with me is that orcas are one of the few species that are matrilineal. The mothers, the grandmothers and the granddaughters all stay together.

They’re also one of the few species that has post-reproductive females. (So do humans and elephants.) Scientists have tried to figure out what role post-reproductive females play in terms of evolution and survival. For most species, the reproduction function, the rearing the young, is the role females play in the population’s survival. But for the orcas, it’s also passing down knowledge.

Why is their population declining?  

The home range of these orcas is further south than many others, so they are more accessible to people than other orcas. The Salish Sea’s orcas were the ones targeted for live capture for the Sea Worlds, which decimated their population in the 1960s and 1970s. About a third of them were captured or were killed.

The live capture practice ended when one of our clients, former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, was on a boat with his wife and they found themselves in the middle of a live capture. They could hear the babies wailing as their mothers were captured and vice versa. That was a very pivotal moment. Munro, who was then a member of the state legislature, soon after became the lead proponent of a law banning live capture in Washington state waters.

The second decline occurred in the 1980s. There weren’t enough orcas of reproductive age because so many of them had been taken during the live capture.

The third decline is when Earthjustice got involved. In the 1990s there was a 20 percent decline, and the population was down to 78 individuals. This time, the orcas were declining because there wasn’t enough food (salmon) —and the food that did exist was often toxic. The situation had become a crisis, and it became clear that the orcas needed the protections of the Endangered Species Act.

How did we go about getting them protected?

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in 2002 when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) refused to protect the orcas under the act. Everyone agreed that their numbers were far too law, placing the orcas at risk of extinction. They desperately needed protection for their prey. There was no dispute about that. But the agency decided this population of orcas wasn’t a separate population eligible for the law’s protection. NOAA said the orcas are one worldwide species and that there were enough other orcas elsewhere in the world.

Orca L87 breaches at sunset with Whidbey Island and Mt. Baker in the background, Oct. 15, 2010.

Orca L87 breaches at sunset with Whidbey Island and Mt. Baker in the background, Oct. 15, 2010.
Susan Berta / Orca Network

The problem is that the scientists universally disagreed with that assessment. There are technically three subspecies (which means they’re likely separate enough to be considered separate species) of orcas. One eats marine mammals. They tend to be bigger and travel over much wider ranges in smaller hunting groups. Another “offshore” type, which we know comparably little about, that ply the open ocean hunting sharks and other fish in large groups.  Then there are the fish-eating resident orcas, like our orcas in the Salish Sea. They’re different genetically, they’re different in terms of their body sizes and types, in what they eat, their language, and their behaviors—all of the kinds of measures that scientists use to determine whether a population is a separate species. Back in 1758, Carl Linnaeus, who was the father of taxonomy, classified orcas as one species. NOAA tried to lock them in that designation for all time.

We went to court.  The judge reviewed this evidence and determined that the agency’s refusal to list orcas violated the Endangered Species Act, which requires that decisions be made on the best science. Instead, the agency was relying on science that its scientific reviewers found to be outdated, inaccurate and superseded by current knowledge. The orcas were finally listed as endangered in 2005.

How does our work to protect salmon also protect orcas?

Orcas need to eat a lot of salmon to survive.  Their favorite food is chinook or king salmon, the fattest of the salmon species.  But many king salmon populations are also on the endangered species list.  We are working across the west coast to restore salmon populations by restoring habitat, removing barriers, and keeping water in salmon rivers, including in the Skagit River, the Klamath River, and the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.

Take Action! Tell Governor Inslee in Washington state to protect the orcas by saving the salmon that are the whales’ main food source.

Scientists say one of the best things we can do to increase salmon abundance for orcas is to take out four failing, outdated and costly dams on the lower Snake River that limit salmon migration and reduce the number of salmon available to orcas during critical winter months when they leave Puget Sound in search of food. Removing these dams, even though they are far from the Salish Sea, would open up hundreds of miles of free-flowing waterways, restoring safe passage to and from the imperiled wild salmon’s spawning habitat in central Idaho, boosting salmon production and affording more prey for the orcas. We’ve been fighting for two decades to take down these dams and restore these abundant salmon runs.  In 2016, we were joined by more than a quarter million people who registered comments calling for the dams to come down.

How else is Earthjustice protecting orcas?

We’re working to reduce toxic contamination of their food supply. Orcas are at the top of the food chain, so they get toxic contamination through their prey. After one of the orcas passed away, our client Ralph Munro wanted to bury the orca on his farm. He was told he would need a toxic waste permit to do so because there was so much contamination in the blubber.

Earthjustice has been identifying the key sources of toxic contamination, either to the orcas themselves or to their prey. The number one source of new toxic pollution is stormwater runoff. We’ve been working for many years now to try to force better management of that runoff, particularly in urban areas. We won a case that says that low impact development like using green roofs and rain barrels is the best technology and the best means of avoiding toxic runoff. That’s a nationwide precedent.

We’ve also had successes in challenging flood plain development, which eliminates a lot of habitat for salmon and therefore the prey of orcas. And we’ve worked to minimize toxic runoff from highways.

We’re working on bans for pesticides and other chemicals like flame retardants that are persistent and bioaccumulative and to limit the use of toxic pesticides along salmon streams. As with so many toxic chemicals, flame retardants and nerve gas pesticides are harmful to both people and orcas.  In fact, late last year, NOAA found that chlorpyrifos is likely to jeopardize the survival and recovery of Puget Sound chinook and by extension, of the orcas who feed on the chinook.

One of the biggest threats to the orcas would be a catastrophic oil spill and yet Canada is poised to increase dramatically the shipments of tar sands through the Salish Sea.  We represent several Salish Sea Tribes in opposing the Transmountain pipeline and seeking navigational safeguards, equivalent to the rules of the road, to reduce oil spill risks. 

Any final thoughts?

The situation has become urgent.  We are redoubling our efforts and looking for ways to reduce vessel noise that interrupts feeding and to rebuild other Chinook salmon runs.  When the three pods return here in the summer, they do a ritual where they line up by pod and welcome each other. That is when the scientists do the annual census.  While this ritual has brought joy to so many over the years, we now await the count in fear that another whale has not made it back.   We are committed to doing everything we can to avoid another act of excruciating grieving like what we have witnessed this year.

(Editor’s note: This piece was adapted from a podcast interview with Patti Goldman in 2011.)

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Roma Holocaust Memorial Day: Auschwitz survivor Mano Höllenreiner recalls Nazi ‘Gypsy Camp’

Italy and Poland are busy reviving anti-Roma policies. That’s what fascists do…


4,000 Sinti and Roma were murdered from August 2-3, 1944, in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Ten-year-old Mano Höllenreiner and his family barely escaped death — but not unspeakable horrors. Andrea Grunau reports from Bavaria.

Another Gift for a Putin Buddy

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he is considering lifting the sanctions altogether because they are punishing the “hardworking people of Rusal.” But Mr. Mnuchin has it backward. If he was truly concerned about Rusal’s 61,000 employees, he would not relent until the company fully washed its hands of Mr. Deripaska and the corrupt regime the aluminum giant serves.

Behind Mr. Deripaska’s estimated fortune of as much as $5.3 billion, there stands a great crime. During the “aluminum wars” of the 1990s, when that economic sector was consolidating in the chaotic privatization that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, the young metals trader was suspected of ties to gangsters as he seized control of huge Siberian smelters. According to testimony by a gang member in Stuttgart, Germany, part of Mr. Deripaska’s value to the group were his links to Russia’s security services. While his rivals were killed off or fled Russia, Mr. Deripaska somehow emerged as the director general of Why is the Treasury Department easing the pressure of sanctions on one of Russia’s most notorious billionaire oligarchs?