Tuesday, January 24, 2012

News from Guantanamo: ACTION NEEDED!

News from Guantanamo: ACTION NEEDED!

There was a great turnout to hear Bill Goodman and Sarah Mehta on a snowy Friday night in Detroit. 

Members of local group #78, the Detroit Activist Network, and the UDM Law School AI group joined with the ACLU Metro Detroit Branch, the UDM Law School ACLU Student Group, the Carney Latin American Solidarity Archive, the American Constitution Society and friends to learn first hand about the injustices of Guantanamo. 

Bill Goodman spoke about his leadership at the Center for Constitutional Rights which led the legal challenges on behalf of the detainees, as well as his experience protesting at Guantanamo on the Cuban side of the border for the fifth anniversary. 

Sarah Mehta spoke from her experience as one of the human rights observers that was allowed to witness a military commission at Guantanamo. She shared her memories of being shocked and dismayed by a lack of any sense of actual justice at the commission. She told us that the governments "smoking gun" evidence was an hour-long video of another person, who had no link to the defendant, spewing anti-American vitriol. 

Ten Years after the first "enemy-combatant" detainees were brought to Guantanamo, and over three years since President Obama promised to close the detention center, the News from Guantanamo is that we the people are going to have to take action, since so far the government has failed us. Please take a moment to sign this petition to the President: https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions/%21/petition/close-guantanamo-now/6cMPlxQw

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fighting Back Against Indefinite Detention

Reuben Metreger, ACLU of Michigan Metro Detroit Branch Member


It is hard to believe that ten years after the first "enemy combatants" were brought to the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, our civil liberties are still under attack. 

Though President Obama promised to close the detention center on his second day of office, we are still waiting for him to keep his promise. Our search for accountability for those who interrogated detainees through torture seems further away than ever. 

The quest for justice is far from complete, and new challenges seem to appear every day. It is hard not to be outraged at the passage of the National Defense Administration Act (NDAA), which threatens our civil liberties like nothing before, potentially allowing American citizens to be detained indefinitely without even having access to a lawyer or our most basic legal safeguards. 

Fortunately, the ACLU and its members and supporters are prepared to fight for our rights. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero is calling on everyone concerned with this assault on our freedom to sign the pledge to oppose the NDAA. 

Take Action: Sign the Pledge to Fight Worldwide Indefinite Detention
There is hope. I know firsthand how passionate everyday citizens are about these threats to their civil liberties. Last week, activists from across the country marched to the White House, the Department of Justice, and the Supreme Court seeking justice. Here in Detroit, concerned people rallied outside Senator Levin’s office to express our outrage at his support of the NDAA. 

To fight back against bad laws and bad policies, we must first understand them. The ACLU of Michigan is partnering with Amnesty International, the National Lawyers Guild and the University of Detroit Mercy OutLaws to present expert insight on the tribunals at Guantanamo and what they mean to your civil liberties. 

Please join us January 20th to hear the News from Guantanamo and to join with other supports to take action. 

Key News and Documents

► Join Us | RSVP to attend the News From Guantánamo

► Take Action | Urge President Obama to Close Gitmo

► Take Action | How to Call Your Elected Official

► More Info | 10 Years Too Many: Close Gitmo Now
Learn more about issues you care about and take action: become a membersubscribe to our email action alertsfollow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Racist Remark

I just learned that someone wrote the N word on a picture of my hero, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  in the Law School Library. I will not stand silently and let this pass. Too many times have I seen racist remarks like this and the only correct thing to do is to respond. We need to show that racists are not in charge of our school and we need to put whoever did this on the defensive and let them know that they are in a small dangerous minority. 

I would like to issue a joint statement by all who would help stand up to this latest instance of ignorance. I am including some quotes that I hope will help guide us. I am very upset at the moment, and will need some time to think this through, but I would appreciate your help and guidance.

“Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 

 One thing is clear, we must respond.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“One who condones evils is just as guilty as the one who perpetrates it.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I appreciate your thoughts and insights, as well as your help. Whatever it takes, I will devote my time to ending this racist attack.
 In solidarity,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mothers Day Actions from Amnesty International

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

Amnesty International Rallying Supporters Nationwide During May, Urging Congress to Act on Growing Maternal Health Care Crisis as New Figures Show Greater Risks Across Income Groups

Public Invited to Join Mother’s Day Card Campaign as United States Falls Behind 49 Other Countries in Rate of Maternal Deaths

(New York) – As new data show American women  in both low- and middle-income areas face greater risks of dying during pregnancy and childbirth, Amnesty International is rallying supporters this Mother’s Day and throughout May to push Congress to act quickly to improve access to care and standards of maternity care.  In a new one-year update to its groundbreaking study, Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA, Amnesty International reports women living in low-income areas are twice as likely to die in childbirth while those in middle-income areas face a 58 percent higher risk, compared with women in wealthier areas. 

Amnesty International is inviting the public to get involved in its campaign to save women’s lives by writing special Mother’s Day cards urging Congress to act.  The cards are available at no cost and the organization will collect and distribute them to members of Congress. For details, visit: http://www.amnestyusa.org/mothersday

The urgency to act comes as the United Nations 2011 worldwide rankings for maternal deaths showed the United States slipped to 50th (from 41st), meaning giving birth in the United States is more dangerous than in 49 other countries – including nearly all European countries, Canada and several countries in Asia and the Middle East.

Additionally, the United States was one of just 23 countries worldwide where the rate of maternal deaths increased, while rates declined in 147 countries. Despite improvement, the rate of maternal deaths worldwide remains unacceptably high, an indication that government efforts to reverse the trend must be accelerated, Amnesty International said.  Worldwide a woman dies giving birth every 90 seconds.  At least half of these deaths can be prevented.

“As a country, it is simply immoral to accept the fact that income is such a strong determinant in who lives or dies while giving birth,” said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA.  “This is a human rights scandal. We must do whatever we can to stop women dying needlessly in childbirth.”

Amnesty International’s campaign focuses on passage of the Maternal Health Accountability Act (H.R.894), a bipartisan bill that promises a dramatic step forward to fight serious pregnancy complications and maternal deaths. The bipartisan bill responds to many of the serious concerns raised in Amnesty’s Deadly Delivery report.  A briefing on the bill will take place in Congress on Wednesday, May 11, hosted by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), the lead sponsor of the legislation. From April 29 to May 8, Amnesty International activists across the country will meet with nearly 100 members of Congress seeking support for the legislation.

The Conyers bill would help establish maternal mortality review committees in every state to examine pregnancy-related deaths and identify ways to reduce deaths.  The legislation would also help eliminate disparities in health care, risks and outcomes, and would improve data collection and research in order to reduce the frequency of severe maternal complications.

Among those speaking at the Capitol Hill briefing will be Amnesty International researcher Nan Strauss, co-author of Deadly Delivery, a representative of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Christy Turlington Burns, the supermodel and director of the documentary film No Woman No Cry, which will be broadcast nationally on Saturday, May 7, on the Oprah Winfrey Network.  To raise awareness during the month of advocacy, Amnesty International activists nationwide will host house parties to watch the film (9:30 p.m. ET), which documents Burns’ journey across four continents – to Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and to a prenatal clinic in the United States – to portray the powerful stories of women facing life-threatening risks giving birth

In its one-year update to Deadly Delivery, Amnesty International highlights the disturbing fact that women living in the lowest-income areas of the United States are twice as likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth, based on new analysis by the Maternal Child Health Bureau.
The government for the first time linked maternal death data to census figures on income levels

Amnesty International’s Deadly Delivery report consistently found that low-income women faced substantial barriers to obtaining medical care during pregnancy. These barriers went beyond  the financial burden of care, and included: shortages of medical professionals in their areas, particularly specialists; difficulty finding transportation to doctor’s appointments, obtaining child care, and leaving work for appointments.

States with high rates of poverty (18 percent or more of the population living below the poverty line) had maternal mortality rates 77 percent higher than states with fewer residents living below the poverty line. 

More than 4 million women give birth each year in the United States, and the cost totals $98 billion.  Figures reported by the International Federation of Health Plans showed that the United States spends twice as much as any other country surveyed on the fees charged by maternal health care providers.

With the rate of caesarian sections rising for the 13th consecutive year – to an all-time high of 32.9 percent of all births in 2009 (latest available figures), new analysis shows that states with the highest rates of caesareans had a 21-percent elevated risk of maternal deaths. The World Health Organization recommends that caesarian births account for only 5 to 15 percent of all births.

In its updated report, Amnesty International said that while the sweeping health care reform bill signed into law by President Obama in 2010 begins to address some concerns about access to maternal health care, many “significant gaps and obstacles remain.”

Maternal health is a human right for every woman. Yet the United States lacks a robust government response to this critical problem including the lack of nationally standardized protocols to address the leading causes of death in childbirth – or the inconsistent use of them. In addition, the number of deaths may be significantly understated because there is no federal requirement to report maternal deaths and data collection at the state level is insufficient.

Additional events in the month of action include:

Tuesday, May 3, Houston: panel discussion and poetry reading highlighting the maternal health care crisis in Texas (where rates are worse than the national average) and Harris County (where rates are worse than the state average).
Wednesday, May 4, Chicago: panel discussion and health fair in Englewood, a community in which women are more than 2.5 times more likely to receive no prenatal care than the city average, according to recent Chicago public health department statistics."
Saturday, May 7, Detroit: Day of action at the Eastern Market. Please join us as we sign mother's day card that will make a difference! For more information: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=209506252401438

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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For more information, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The governor of Illinois has signed a bill that repeals the death penalty from Illinois’ law! He also commuted the death sentences of all 15 prisoners on death row in the state. This is a tremendous moment for human rights and another step forward for abolition! Please help us maximize this moment by doing 2 things:

1) Send the governor and bill sponsors a thank you note by clicking on this simple action:
2) Please write a letter to the editor (LTE) to your local newspaper. This is a great opportunity to advance the national momentum and to bolster efforts in the remaining DP states. AIUSA's LTE writing guide: http://tinyurl.com/dayxgq


· Governor Quinn’s signing of this bill and commuting of the remaining death sentences shows great leadership and support for human rights.
· No state has tried harder to fix their death penalty than Illinois, but after 10 years it was finally realized that the death penalty cannot be fixed.
· The danger of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated, and the families of victims will always face years of being dragged through a cruel and grueling   process.
· The death penalty will also always cost more than alternatives.
· My state should learn from Illinois’ experience and not spend any more time using or trying to fix a death penalty system that cannot be fixed.
· We do not need the death penalty and we should follow Illinois’ lead and eliminate it.
Talking Points for non-death penalty states:
· Other states should learn from Illinois’ experience and not spend any more time using or trying to fix a death penalty system that cannot be fixed.
· I am proud that my state is on the right side of history and has abandoned this cruel and archaic practice.

AIUSA’s LTE writing guide:   http://tinyurl.com/dayxgq

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Halfway to making the DREAM Act a reality!

Imagine passing the DREAM Act so close to the anniversary of ((°J°))'s death.

In case you did not hear, the House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act last night. Please channel the happiness and positive energy that you are feeling tonight into action tomorrow. Today we had over 40,000 calls in support of the DREAM and although it passed, it was a close margin. We are going to need at least 60 Senators to vote yes tomorrow in the Senate.

Please continue to call the Senate targets at 1-866-587-3023. If that number is busy or no one answers then call the switchboard (202)224-3121. If both numbers are busy please call the targets offices directly:

Stabenow (MI)

Conrad (ND) 

McCaskill (MO) 

Webb (VA) 

Warner (VA) 

Landrieu (LA) 

Pryor (AR) 

Tester (MT) 

Hagan (NC) 

Murkowski (AK)

Hutchison (TX) 

Brownback (KS)

Kirk (IL) 

Bennett (UT)

Voinovich (OH)

Snowe (ME)

Collins (ME)

Lemieux (FL) 

Lugar (IN) 

Bunning (KY) 

Dorgan (ND) 

Thank you for all that you do!

Reuben Metreger
Amnesty International Volunteer State Legislative Coordinator (Michigan)

Are you on Facebook? Please join Amnesty International in Michigan!


is a global movement of 2.8 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights.  Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.  We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion and are funded mainly by our membership and public donations.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CALLS ON CONGRESS TO PASS DREAM ACT DURING LAME-DUCK SESSION ---- ‘The Country is Shooting Itself in the Foot,’ Asserts Human Rights Organization
    (Washington D.C.) -- Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today urged the U.S. Congress to pass The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act during the lame-duck session, calling its passage critical to upholding the human rights of undocumented youth who have lived in the United States most of their lives and have a proven track record as conscientious students and members of society. 
    In recent weeks, both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have publicly committed to bringing the DREAM Act up for a vote. The White House also issued a statement declaring, "The President and [Congressional Hispanic Caucus] leaders believe that, before adjourning, Congress should approve the DREAM Act." But many legislators refuse to vote in favor unless there is a significant increase in funding for border enforcement. 
    “It is unconscionable that this landmark legislation has not become law in the nine years since it was first introduced,” said Larry Cox, executive director for AIUSA. “While working toward their dreams, thousands of promising young people live in fear of detention and deportation. Most will be excluded from college education because they are denied in-state tuition and scholarships. Not only is the United States trampling their rights by not providing the opportunity to pursue college, the country is shooting itself in the foot as it prevents accomplished young men and women from providing considerable contributions to the country they call home.” 
    The DREAM Act would provide conditional legal status to immigrant students if they finish high school and attend college or join the military for two years. It would also allow immigrant students access to higher education by returning to states the authority to determine who qualifies for in-state tuition. Students who complete all requirements will have the opportunity to permanently legalize their immigration status. 
    “Until this congressional session, the DREAM Act was a widely supported bipartisan piece of legislation because lawmakers recognized that children should not be punished for the decisions of their parents,” said Sarnata Reynolds, AIUSA’s advocacy and policy director, Refugee and Migrant Rights. “The bill passed the Senate with the support of Republicans and Democrats four times over the last nine years. The United States has long been a champion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the right to education, yet the country is undermining this right." 
    Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. 
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