Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXIV Number 10, October 2016

  Thursday, October 27, 7:30 PM. Monthly 
Meeting. We meet at the Caltech Y, Tyson 
House, 505 S. Wilson Ave., Pasadena. (This is 
just south of the corner with San Pasqual. 
Signs will be posted.) We will be planning our 
activities for the coming months. Please join 
us! Refreshments provided. 
  Friday-Sunday, October 28-30.  Amnesty 
International USA Western Regional Conference. 
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles - 
Westside (near LAX).
  Tuesday, November 8, 7:30 PM. Letter 
writing meeting at Caltech Athenaeum, corner 
of Hill and California in Pasadena. This 
informal gathering is a great way for 
newcomers to get acquainted with Amnesty.
  Sunday, November 20, 6:30 PM,.  Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion Group. 
This month we read "Mastering the Art of 
Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and 
Longing" by Anya von Bremzen.

Hello everyone,

Happy Halloween! 

The Western Regional Conference is this 
weekend and you may still be able to register at 
the door. Here's the link:
Group 22 will have a display featuring our POC 
Narges Mohammadi. Hope to see you there!

For those of you who live in Pasadena, our 
September Rights Readers selection, "The 
Sympathizer" by Viet Thanh Nguyen is the One 
City, One Story book for this year! 
This novel is the winner of several literary 
awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.


UA for POC                  6
Other UAs                  13
Total                      19
To add your letters to the total contact 

Next Rights Readers meeting: 
Sunday, November 20 
 6:30 PM
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

 Anya von Bremzen

The New York Times Sunday Book Review
Beyond Borscht
'Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking,' by Anya 
von Bremzen
SEPT. 13, 2013

The culinary memoir has lately evolved into a 
genre of its own, what is now known as a 
"foodoir." But Anya von Bremzen is a better 
writer than most of the genre's practitioners, as 
this delectable book, which tells the story of 
postrevolutionary Russia through the prism of 
one family's meals, amply demonstrates.

The author and her mother arrived in 
Philadelphia in the winter of 1974, stateless 
refugees with no warm coats. They were also, 
von Bremzen says, "thoroughly gentrified 
Moscow Jews," abandoned some years earlier 
by the infant Anya's father. But to tell their 
story, von Bremzen goes back to her maternal 
grandparents in the 1920s, interspersing 
historical material with flash-forwards and 
commentary as she works her way to the 
present. When, for example, von Bremzen 
returns to Moscow in 1987, the reader is offered 
a disquisition on Russia's "long-soaked, -
steeped and -saturated history with vodka" - 
or, failing vodka, with politura ("wood 

An award-winning food writer, von Bremzen is 
also the author of "Please to the Table" (1990), a 
cookbook featuring the various cuisines of the 
former Soviet Union. To confect this latest 
volume, she and her mother (now 79) used their 
overheated American kitchen and dining room 
"as a time machine and an incubator of 
memories." Deploying the hallowed 1939 "Book 
of Tasty and Healthy Food," known to Soviet 
citizens simply as "the Book," they recreate old 
dissident get-togethers, preparing a Stalin's 
Deathday Dinner and even brewing their own 

Not surprisingly, there's much that's harrowing 
in "Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking," 
especially the sections dealing with World War 
II. Here von Bremzen moves artfully between 
historical longshots (minefields being cleared 
"by sending troops attacking across them") and 
intimate details, like her schoolgirl mother's 
lunch ration of podushechka, a candy the size of a 
fingernail. More amusingly, the chapter on the 
1950s includes a short essay on living in a 
culture of perpetual shortages: "Your average 
Homo sovieticus spent a third to half of his 
nonworking time queuing for something." A bit 
later, von Bremzen reaches her own birth, in 
1963, a year also remembered for one of the 
worst crop failures in post-Stalin history.

The descriptions of meals are delightful, despite 
the anomaly at the heart of her book: during the 
Soviet period, there was almost nothing decent 
to eat, unless you were a party official. After the 
revolution, she explains with characteristic 
elegance, "in just a bony fistful of years, classical 
Russian food culture vanished." Inevitably, 
therefore, "a story about Soviet food is a 
chronicle of longing." But von Bremzen makes 
the best of her material, conjuring the whiff of 
fermenting sauerkraut in an enameled bucket, 
the sight of sinews and fat glistening in a cheap 
goulash "with an ivory palette" and the sharp 
and creamy taste of the ubiquitous salat Olivier 
in the "kitschy, mayonnaise-happy '70s." The 
gunky Olivier, she writes, "could be a metaphor 
for a Soviet émigré's memory: urban legends 
and totalitarian myths, collective narratives and 
biographical facts, journeys home both real and 
imaginary - all loosely cemented with mayo."

When the Soviet Union implodes, von Bremzen 
is tucking into wild duck with a fiery sauce in 
the rebellious Georgian subrepublic of 
Abkhazia. The 21st-?century chapter, 
excruciatingly titled "Putin on the Ritz," is brief, 
and she rounds off the book with a collection of 
recipes, one per decade. In homage, I made her 
version of kulebiaka (fish, rice and mushrooms in 
pastry). As she says, "the sour cream in the yeast 
dough . . . adds a lovely tang to the buttery 
casing." Priyatnogo appetita.

 (Sara Wheeler is the author of "O My America!: Six 
Women and Their Second Acts in a New World.")

Anya von Bremzen is a two-time James Beard 
Award-winning culinary writer. She was born in 
1963 in Soviet Russia, and her works include The 
New Spanish Table, The Greatest Dishes: Around the 
World in 80 Recipes, and Please to the Table: The 
Russian Cookbook (coauthored by John 
Welchman). Mastering the Art of Soviet 
Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing from 
2013 is a culinary autobiography and compact 
Soviet history in one, its title obviously ironic.

Security with Human Rights
By Robert Adams

Fighting the Demonization of Ordinary 
American Muslims - Like Me
By Ali Albassam, Security with Human Rights 
July 16, 2016 	

Newt Gingrich recently proposed that American 
Muslims be tested and questioned on their 
religious beliefs-and face deportation.
Gingrich told Fox News:

 "The first step is you have to ask them the questions. 
The second step is you have to monitor what they're 
doing on the Internet. The third step is, let me be 
very clear, you have to monitor the mosques."

Gingrich's comments are the latest in this trend: 
After horrific terrorism attacks, pundits take to 
cable news to offer discriminatory, anti-Muslim 
proposals and rhetoric.

For me, it hits home. I was twelve years old 
when the 9/11 attacks, a crime against 
humanity, occurred. A wave of discrimination 
followed-for me, and for many other American 

In my eyes, I was as American as anyone else 
my age. I celebrated the Fourth of July with my 
family, played high school sports and shared 
many of the same interests as my peers.

But after 9/11, I was frequently bullied in school 
and harassed in public, especially when I was 
with a relative who wore a headscarf. These 
changes made me paranoid, and I struggled 
with an identity crisis. Seemingly overnight, I 
went from being a regular American, to public 
enemy number one-by virtue of my faith.

I kept telling myself that things would get 
easier, that the feeling of being "othered" would 
eventually fade away, and that my faith would 
no longer be defined by the heinous actions of a 

Unfortunately, the political and social climate 
for American Muslims has only worsened over 
time. Anti-Muslim discrimination is now 
mainstream and heavily ingrained within U.S. 
culture. We see it on TV news and Hollywood 
movies that continuously depict Muslims as 

Violence against American Muslims and 
mosques continues to be reported in the 
aftermath of attacks in the U.S. and Western 
Europe. Most frighteningly, it's not just rhetoric 
- we're seeing proposals to change U.S. law and 
law enforcement practices to target law-abiding 
American Muslims.

Gingrich joined other public figures in 
suggesting widespread monitoring of 
mosques-without suspicion of a crime. In fact, 
the NYPD has in the past done so-designating 
entire mosques as "terrorism enterprises" in 
order to justify the use of invasive surveillance 

These policies demonize Muslim Americans and 
falsely portray the entire community as 
complicit in terrorism. In actuality, according to 
one study, two out of every five disrupted 
terrorism attacks between 2001 and 2011 were 
based on information provided by Muslim 
community members.

Another example is a Senate hearing on 
"Radical Islam" held a few weeks ago, as a 
response to the mass shooting in Orlando. As a 
volunteer for Amnesty International USA in 
Washington, D.C., I felt compelled to attend.

During my commute to the Senate building, I 
became overwhelmed with anxiety, afraid that I 
would somehow feel betrayed by my own 
government. But upon arrival, my anxieties 
quickly diffused. I noticed a long line of diverse 
attendees that wrapped around the building. 
Many showed up to protest the hearing and 
found creative ways to get their message across. 
Code Pink's posters read, "Islamophobia is un-
American", and activists handed out 
"Islamophoben" pills to "cure irrational fear of 

A handful of those who participated in the 
hearing conveyed a similar message.
Senator Coons (Del.) and Senator Durbin  (Ill.) 
spoke out against anti-Muslim bigotry during 
the hearing.  "We can and must defeat terrorism 
without sacrificing our constitutional 
principles," Coons said.

 "And to sacrifice these principles and blame 
over a billion Muslims ... only serves to divide 
Americans, to alienate the Muslim world and 
legitimate the murderous groups."
"We are being called upon like many 
generations have in the past, to respond to a 
legitimate fear of terrorism in a way that is 
consistent with our American values and when 
we lapse into this notion that we are going to 
condemn a faith I think we've gone too far, "

Michael German, a fellow at the Brennan Center 
for Justice and a former undercover FBI agent of 
16 years, testified that using terms like "radical 
Islam" actually "puts us on a path to perpetual 
war with predictable consequences to civil 
liberties, human rights and the rule of law." He 
added, "[this language] only serves to stoke 
public fear, xenophobia and anti-Muslim 

Amnesty International USA, in this statement 
for the record, said that for U.S. law enforcement 
to single out American Muslims would be 
blatant religious discrimination, and fly in the 
face of U.S. commitments to support religious 
freedom at home and around the world:

 "The U.S. should not join the dubious company of 
governments and armed groups that single out 
religious minorities for discriminatory treatment-
including on the grounds of security. Examples 
include China, where Zhang Kai, a lawyer 
supporting churches resisting the removal of crosses, 
was placed under "residential surveillance" and 
accused of endangering national security in August 
2015 ; and Iran, where in 2013 an Iranian-American 
Christian pastor was sentenced to eight years' 
imprisonment for "forming house churches with 
intent to harm national security."

The U.S. government must not respond to 
terrorism by betraying the very values it was 
founded on. By ensuring that American 
Muslims are treated with dignity and without 
discrimination in civic and political life, the U.S. 
can set an example of an effective counter 
terrorism strategy that doesn't abandon its core 

Death Penalty News
by Stevi Carroll


Saturday, October 1, Trevor and I hawked the 
YES on 62 message to folks who were at the 
farmers market for their fresh fruits and veggies. 
We had a great time and had some wonderful 
conversations. One of my favorites was with a 
woman who said, "I'm voting for this, and I'm 
the mother of a murder victim. Two wrongs don't 
make a right."

Candy, Trevor, and I hit the asphalt of the 
Pasadena farmers market Saturday, October 22 
to spread the YES message some more. Lots of 
people said they'd already voted, and others 
said they were registered and aware of the 
propositions.  Many others expressed interest in 
learning about Prop 62 and said they thought 
they would vote yes on it.  We also filled them 
in on Prop 66 and our suggestion to vote no on 
66.  One man, Paul, early in the day said, "That's 
ridiculous" to Prop 66.  As the day wore on, this 
sentiment was expressed in a variety of forms.


Trevor explains Yes on 62 (and in the background we can 
see our 'Make America Great Again' friends there to 
register voters).

Candy with brochures at the ready

We are going to table again on November 5, so if 
you'd like to spend some time in the fresh air 
and make new friends, please let us know.

 If you are a person who likes to talk with 
strangers on the phone, you can phone bank for 
the Yes on 62 campaign.  You can participate 
remotely from the comfort of your own home - 
you just need a computer with internet access 
and a phone.  The remaining days are Tuesday, 
November 1 and Thursday, November 3 from 6-
9 PM PT. To sign up, go to

The campaign can still use some cash, so to 
donate, go to

Anthony Ray Hinton

What's it like to spend almost 30 years on death, 
be exonerated, and return to freedom?  Anthony 
Ray Hinton knows.  Like so many people who 
end up this nation's death row, Mr. Hinton had 
a court appointed lawyer.  Also like so many 
people on death row, he'd seen his lawyer only 
three times in the two years before his trial.  And 
when he told his lawyer he was innocent, his 
lawyer replied, "All of y'all always say you 
didn't do something." 

When he was arrested in 1985, he told the 
arresting officers that he did not have a gun and 
that his mother did. The State's expert ballistics 
witness said the bullets that killed someone in a 
robbery matched his mother's gun. But even 
before the trial when he told the detective 
interviewing him that he was the wrong man, he 
was told, "I don't care whether you did it or not. 
You will be convicted."  

In 1995 after seeing Bryan Stevenson on TV, Mr 
Hinton contacted him and the Equal Justice 
Initiative.  A new ballistics expert examined the 
bullets and said they didn't match.  The attorney 
general of Alabama refused to re-examine the 
case, a one-hour investment of time, because he 
said he it would be a "waste of taxpayers' 
money", so Mr. Hinton spent 16 more years on 
death row.

While Mr. Hinton was on death row, his cell 
was 30 feet from the death chamber.  During his 
years there, he watched 54 men walk to their 
executions, during which he could smell their 
burning flesh.  Also during this time, 22 men 
committed suicide.

Upon his release, he bought himself a king-size 
bed because while he was in prison, he'd 
dreamed of being able to sleep stretched out 
rather than curled up.  He also goes outside to 
see the stars at night.

To read an interview that 60 Minutes did with 
Mr. Hinton, go to


For months now, we've seen stays of execution 
for inmates on the Ohio death row.  The 
problem is not that the State does not want to 
execute, but rather that it's not had the lethal 
cocktail to do the deed.  Ohio now may be able 
to get the needles ready because the State 
intends to use  a three-drug cocktail that is very 
similar to the one used in Oklahoma.  The drugs 
are midazolam, rocutonium bromide, and 
potassium chloride, all of which are FDA 
approved and do not come from a 
compounding pharmacy.  While finding 
companies that will sell their products to be 
used in State-sponsored deaths has been 
problematic, officials in Ohio have said they 
have found a new (unnamed) source for the 
drugs from a large manufacturer.  While the 
FDA approves drugs, it does not approve the 
ways in which corrections departments choose 
to use them.

Recent Exonerations

Mark Maxon - State: IL
Date of Exoneration: 9/27/2016
In 1994, Mark Maxson was convicted of the rape 
and murder of a 6-year-old boy in Chicago and 
sentenced to life in prison. He was exonerated in 
2016 when  DNA on the victim's clothing was 
linked to a convicted murderer who confessed 
to the crimes.

Nelson Ortiz, Jose Caro, and Nelson Ruiz 
 - State: PR
Date of Exoneration: 9/27/2016
In 1994, Nelson Ortiz, Jose Caro and Nelson 
Ruiz were convicted of murder, rape, 
kidnapping, robbery, and illegal use of a 
weapon in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. They were 
exonerated after the prosecution's two chief 
witnesses recanted and DNA tests excluded 
them as the perpetrators.

Stays of Execution

19	Robert Van Hook		OH	^^
19	Terry Darnell Edwards	TX (Date 
		changed to January 26, 2017)

2	Ramiro Gonzales		TX	
(The execution date was removed from the 
Texas Department of Corrections schedule 
without comment.)
16	Jeffery Wogenstahl		OH	^^

^^ (All 2016 Ohio executions granted a reprieve 
because new execution drugs could not be obtained)


5	Barney Ronald Fuller, Jr* 	TX
	Lethal injection   1-drug (Pentobarbital)

19	Gregory Paul Lawler		GA
	Lethal injection   1-drug (Pentobarbital)

* volunteer - an inmate who waived ordinary appeals 
that remained at the time of his or her execution

Documentary: 13TH

If you access to Netflix (or have a friend who 
does), you might consider watching 13TH.  
 "The title of Ava DuVernay's extraordinary and 
galvanizing documentary 13TH refers to the 13th 
Amendment to the Constitution, which reads 
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a 
punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been 
duly convicted, shall exist within the United States." The 
progression from that second qualifying clause to the 
horrors of mass criminalization and the sprawling 
American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay 
with bracing lucidity. " 
You can watch the trailer at

Amnesty International Group 22
The Caltech Y
Mail Code C1-128
Pasadena, CA 91125

Amnesty International's mission is to undertake research and action focused on 
preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, 
freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the 
context of its work to promote all human rights.