Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXVI Number 1, January 2018

  Thursday, January 25, 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. 
  Tuesday, February 13, 7:30-9:00 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, February 18, 6:30 PM. Rights 
Readers Human Rights Book Discussion 
Group. This month we read "Black Dragon 
River: A Journey Down the Amur River 
Between Russian and China" by Dominic 

Hi all

I can't believe it's almost the end of January 2018 
already.  Happy New Year to all.

Rob and I participated in the Women's March 
last year, but not this year. However, Group 22 
members Stevi, Joyce and Paula did, along with 
tons of other people, as you can see from the 
photos Stevi took which are in this newsletter.  
Do you think our Dear Leader has gotten the 
message yet?!

Group 22 members Ted and Laura Brown are 
moving (I think they're already there!) to 
Austin, Texas, to be near family. We will miss 
their presence at our meetings and their great 
house for parties! Good luck in your new 
hometown!  I've heard Austin is nice but have 
only been to Dallas and San Antonio.  My sister 
lived in Dallas when she was teaching at UT 
Southwestern in Dallas. She liked Texas because 
Dallas was cosmopolitan, but the people had 
that southern friendliness and courtesy. 

 Con Carino, Kathy

Next Rights Readers Meeting

Sunday, Feb. 18
 6:30 PM

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd 

Black Dragon River: 
A Journey Down the Amur River Between 
Russian and China

by Dominic Ziegler

Reviewed by Jean Zimmerman, Nov. 22, 2015.
'Black Dragon River' Charts History Along The 

"Here be dragons" warns a widely 
misunderstood inscription, originally in Latin, 
on a 16th century globe. The phrase has become 
a legendary reference to unknown pockets of the 
earth, where who knows what strange beasts 
lurk. But it turns out the globe in question 
probably wasn't warning against immense, fire-
breathing winged creatures, but the Kingdom of 
Dagroian, described by Marco Polo as a place 
where "people feasted upon the dead and 
picked their bones." In other words, human 
beings are quite odd and ferocious enough. We 
need not go looking for mythic beasts.

The phrase comes to mind while plunging into 
the world author Dominic Ziegler explores in 
his thrillingly thorough geohistory, Black Dragon 
River: A Journey Down the Amur River at the 
Borderlands of Empires. No, there are no dragons 
here, unless they are carved on Buddhist 
temples. But that's all right, because the 
indigenous societies Ziegler turns up are 
absorbing on their own. The book is almost as 
sprawling as its title. Here be Genghis Kahn, 
here be Cossacks, here be "Evenki, Nivkh, 
Manchus, Daurians, Nanai, Solons, and Ulchi, to 
name a few; and then there were the Russians, 
the Chinese, the Japanese, and the Koreans."

If that quote from the book's prologue sounds 
like a mouthful, it is because proper nouns are 
the author's metier. A reader will wrestle with 
several capitalized constructs on any given 
page, whether they are place names, the names 
of historical figures, tribal nomenclature, or 
natural history terms coming along at a fast clip. 
Fight against the current and risk drowning. 
Flow with it, as the Amur flows, and there are 
countless enjoyable details to discover. 

Ziegler, the former Tokyo bureau chief and 
Greater China correspondent for the Economist, 
set out to follow the entire course of the Amur. 
He begins on horseback, traversing the 
Mongolian steppe to the Amur's headlands at 
the Onon River, then boards the Trans-Siberian 
Railway through the villages and territories that 
have had such a complex and in many cases 
tortuous past. Black Dragon River presents 
Ziegler as both an amiable traveling companion 
and formidably erudite professor, serving up 
well-spiced anthropology.

The narrative relates the astonishing adventures 
of Genghis Kahn, whose Mongol soldiers in 
1215 laid waste to the city that is now Beijing; 
Ziegler quotes a period source to tell us that the 
corpses of the slaughtered "formed whole 
mountains, and the soil was greasy with human 
fat." Cossacks followed, grabbing one-sixth of 
the world's land for Russia.

Fur drove Russia east along the Amur, in search 
of wolverines, weasels, foxes of red and blue, 
white and black coloring. (The czar demanded 
as a yearly tribute a sable pelt from every able-
bodied male in Siberia.) Ziegler profiles the 
Decembrists, those romantic, upper-class 
revolutionaries who after a failed coup in 1825 
were condemned by Czar Nicholas I to a 
Siberian settlement called Chita. Unlike the 
usual grueling penal colony, the exiles could 
bring their wives and live with their families.

The river's waters swarm with life. The Amur is 
home to a hundred-twenty fish specimens, "a 
primal soup, thick with wanton life and death. 
Myriad fish gorge on the tapioca pears of fish 
eggs caught up and down by the current. 
Ospreys and bears scavenge for dying fish in the 
shallows." Ziegler is at his best in such passages, 
when he leaves the dizzying flights of history to 
recount firsthand observations - like ending his 
4,000-mile journey by taking an ancient Soviet 
hydrofoil toward the river's mouth on a freezing 
fall day, trading trinkets with a trio of inebriated 
helicopter pilots.

We might wish to follow in Ziegler's footsteps 
before the land he describes mutates beyond 
recognition. Currently the Russian Far East has 
seen environmental depredations on an 
unprecedented scale. The few remaining 
Siberian tigers, he writes, eat boar, and boar 
typically consume the mast that falls from the 
immense oak trees of the taiga, the deep Siberian 
forest. As an explosion of logging ravages the 
vast wilderness, boars starve and tigers 
disappear; Chinese takeout chopsticks, Ziegler 
tells us, are likely made from fallen Russian 

In this over-examined world, it's nice to know 
there are outer reaches that we can discover 
afresh. "As the long reel of the river's story 
turns," Ziegler writes, "many peoples flicker in 
and out of view as they move along the Amur's 
banks or float upon its waters." The Amur, in 
other words, means life.

Dominic Ziegler is The Economist's Asia editor. 
He was the founding author of "Banyan," The 
Economist's weekly column on Asian affairs. He 
has previously served as the magazine's Tokyo 
bureau chief and as its Greater China 
correspondent. In that role, he opened The 
Economist's first mainland bureau in Beijing in 
1994. He has been with the magazine since 1986.


I'm Marching 1-20-18 -  
Women's March LA 
By Stevi Carroll

Pink clouds filled the Eastern morning sky as I 
pulled out of my garage to go pick up Paula, so 
we could join others on the Gold Line heading 
into LA for the second annual Women's March. 
When we got to the Sierra Madre station, Paula 
commented on how last year the parking 
structure was much more crowded. The 
platform was also less crowded this year, but as 
the train moved from one station to the next, 
seats filled until finally many passengers had to 
stand. The vibe in the train was friendly, 
hopeful, and electric. Walking into the main 
corridor of Union Station, I noticed streams of 
people exiting the MetroLink bays as they 
headed to the Red Line platform and then 
Pershing Square.

The Red Line at Pershing Square exits upward 
via a long staircase. Organizers funneled people 
who needed the escalator to the left and those 
who could take the stairs on the right. I loved 
seeing the mass of humanity flow up the stairs. I 
didn't check what time we arrived, but I'm 
pretty sure we were on the train by 7:30, which 
should have gotten us to Pershing Square by 
around 8:15. The street before the stage was 
already packed when we got there, as were the 
streets that fed into that corner.

Group 22 members Paula and Stevi 

After we pressed our way through the crowd in 
pursuit of photos, we decided to weave our way 
to the end of one of the crowds. I don't think we 
reached an end, but we did get to an area that 
was less tightly packed. Unlike last year, I was 
able to get to City Hall. At neither Pershing 
Square nor City Hall was I able to hear clearly 
what the speakers said, but those who could 
appreciated the ideas they heard.

During the march, a woman who said she is 
from Taiwan talked with me about her 
friends/acquaintances who voted for and still 
support DT. She said what they have in 
common is they are rich. We all, Paula and the 
woman's husband, too, had a great time 'making 
eye contact and small talk.' (thanks Timothy 

A variety of issues were on display: get out and 
vote, gay rights, income inequality, women's 
rights, the environment, trump's shortcomings, 
health care. I think my favorite sign said, 
"Resistance is fertile." The sign's creator 
bordered the saying with artificial flowers.

Women's Rights are Human Rights!
CTA (California Teachers Association). Photos by Stevi.

Diversity ruled the day. Families with tiny 
babies in front packs walked along side old 
people. I saw many families with young 
children. If I were close enough to any of them, 
I'd say, "Start 'em young," and the grown up 
would smile and agree. One woman said, "He 
has to understand." And of course, along with 
the age spread, the entire tapestry woven from 
the multitude of threads that make up the fabric 
of the United States was present.

According to Mayor Eric Garcetti, 600,000 
people attended. The LA Sheriff's Department 
put the number at 300,000. One article I read 
said 500,000 and that LA was the largest event 
throughout the country. 

The devil on my shoulder took glee in the idea 
that because of the partial government 
shutdown, DT couldn't go to Mar-a-Lago for 
golf and fundraising this weekend. He'd have to 
see the people as they marched from the Lincoln 
Memorial to the White House. Of course, he had 
a tweet to make it all about him in a positive 

The day was sunny and bright. Rallying and 
marching with a few hundred thousand of my 
sisters and brothers was joyful and invigorating.

I hope we each will do our own little part in 
contributing to the kindness, love, and wisdom 
we need to continue in the creation of  'a more 
perfect union.'

By Stevi Carroll

The New York Times Editorial Board

December 31, 2017, in the online edition of The 
New York Times, the editorial board had an 
article titled "Capital Punishment Deserves a 
Quick Death."

After discussing the attempted execution of 
Alva Campbell November 15, 2017, during 
which authorities present could not find a vein 
in either his arms or his legs into which to insert 
the needle for the lethal injection, the NYT's 
editorial board goes on to say,  "The number (of 
executions) should be zero. As the nation enters 
2018, the Supreme Court is considering whether 
to hear at least one case asking it to strike down 
the death penalty, once and for all, for violating 
the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and 
unusual punishments.

Whether the justices take that or another case, 
the facts they face will be the same: The death 
penalty is a savage, racially biased, arbitrary and 
pointless punishment that becomes rarer and 
more geographically isolated with every year. In 
2017 the total number of people sitting on death 
rows across America fell for the 17th straight 
year. In Harris County, Tex., the nation's 
undisputed leader in state-sanctioned killing, 
the year passed without a single execution or 
death sentence - the first time that's happened 
in more than 40 years."

As the article continues,  they say because Texas 
and Arkansas were the states responsible almost 
half of the executions in 2017, we might think 
those are the states with largest number of new 
death sentences during the year. We would be 
wrong. Of the 39 new death sentences handed 
down, one in three of them were from three 
counties in Western states: Riverside in 
California, Clark in Nevada, and Maricopa in 
Arizona. This is particularly troubling to me 
because as we know, California voters passed 
Proposition 66 last November. (To read more 
about where this stands, go to

While we may believe only the most heinous 
crimes merit the death sentence, the article lists a 
variety of influencing conditions: "Mental 
illness, intellectual disability, brain damage, 
childhood abuse or neglect, abysmal lawyers, 
minimal judicial review, a white victim." We 
may have considered these extenuating 
conditions, but what is pointed out is that 
according to a report by the Death Penalty 
Information Center, of the 23 people executed in 
2017, 20 of them had at least one of the above 
factors and eight were younger than 21 when 
they committed their crime.

The article ends with "There's no reason not to 
take the final step. The justices have all the 
information they need right now to bring 
America in line with most of the rest of the 
world and end the death penalty for good."
To read the editorial in full, go to

Donald J Trump, Jefferson Beauregard 
Sessions III, and the Death Penalty

According to a January 9, 2018, article in the 
Washington Post, Donald Trump "has long been 
a staunch backer of capital punishment, issuing 
public pleas for death sentences in prominent 
cases both before and after taking office."  We 
remember his desire to have the Central Park 
Five executed. He took out a full-page ad and 
felt no compunction to reconsider even after 
they'd been found innocent.

While the support for the death penalty wanes 
throughout the United States (and the ability to 
get the lethal injection drugs gets more difficult), 
the Justice Department has announced its 
intention to seek the death sentence in federal 

Three weeks prior to January 9, 2018, Jefferson 
Beauregard Sessions III has made at least two 
decisions regarding cases to be considered for 
the Federal death penalty. These cases along 
with the case against Sayfullo Saipov, the man 
charged with using a rented truck to kill eight 
people on a New York City bike path, 
"suggest that the Justice Department will be 
seeking an increased number of death sentences 
in the months and years ahead, according to 
Sarah Isgur Flores, a department 

During the Obama administration, two federal 
convictions led to the death penalty. That of 
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon 
bombers, and Dylann Roof, the gunman who 
killed nine people in a Charleston, SC, church.

To read the Washington Post article, go to

Recent Exonerations

Thomas Sierra - State: IL - Date of Exoneration: 
In 1997, Thomas Sierra was sentenced to 55 
years in prison for murder in Chicago, Illinois. 
He was exonerated in 2018 after evidence 
showed the lead detective had manipulated 
witnesses to wrongly identify Sierra.

Kirstin Lobato - State: NV - Date of Exoneration: 
In 2002, Kirstin Lobato was sentenced to 40 
years in prison for the murder and mutilation of 
a homeless man in Las Vegas. She was 
exonerated in 2017 by forensic evidence 
showing the murder occurred when Lobato was 
more than 150 miles away.

Richard Burkhart - State: MT - Date of 
Exoneration: 12/29/2017
In 2002, Richard Burkhart was sentenced to life 
in prison for a murder in Great Falls, Montana. 
He was exonerated in 2017 after the key witness 
who testified against him recanted and evidence 
of the real killer was discovered.

Gabriel Solache and Arturo DeLeon-Reyes - 
State: IL - Date of Exoneration: 12/21/2017
In 2000, Gabriel Solache was sentenced to death 
and Arturo DeLeon-Reyes was sentenced to life 
without parole after falsely confessing to the 
murders of a husband and wife and the 
abduction of their two children. Both were 
exonerated in December 2017 based on evidence 
that police physically abused them into 
confessing during an interrogation lasting more 
than 40 hours.

John Velez  - State: IL - Date of Exoneration: 
In 2002, John Velez was sentenced to 55 years in 
prison for murder in Chicago, Illinois. He was 
exonerated in 2017 after the main eyewitness 
against him recanted and the prosecution 
conceded that improper evidence had been 
introduced at his trial.

Nevest Coleman and Darryl Fulton - State: IL - 
Date of Exoneration: 12/1/2017
In 1997, Nevest Coleman and Darryl Fulton 
were sentenced to life in prison without parole 
after falsely confessing to murder and rape in 
Chicago, Illinois. They were exonerated in 2017 
by DNA tests that pointed to a serial rapist as 
the real perpetrator.

Cory Epps - State: NY - Date of Exoneration: 
In 1998, Cory Epps was sentenced to 25 years to 
life in prison for fatally shooting a woman 
during a road rage incident in Buffalo, New 
York. He was exonerated in 2017 based on 
evidence that another man committed the crime.

Craig Coley - State: CA - Date of Exoneration: 
In 1980, Craig Coley was sentenced to life in 
prison without parole for the murders of his 
girlfriend and her four-year-old son in Simi 
Valley, California. He was exonerated by DNA 
testing in 2017 after police re-opened the case.


Stays of Execution
2	Sheldon Hannibal	PA	Stay 
granted by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern 
District of Pennsylvania on November 9, 2017 to 
provide Hannibal the opportunity to pursue 
federal habeas corpus challenges to his 
conviction and sentence that are available to all 
criminal defendants.

3	John David Stumpf	OH
	Rescheduled for November 14, 2018 by 
Gov. John Kasich on May 1, 2017.**
3	William Montgomery	OH
	Rescheduled for April 11, 2018 by Gov. 
John Kasich on September 1, 2017.^

13	Warren K Henness	OH
	Rescheduled for March 14, 2018 by Gov. 
John Kasich on May 1, 2017.**

13	Robert Van Hook	OH
	Rescheduled for July 18, 2018 by Gov. 
John Kasich on September 1, 2017.^

** On May 1, 2017, Ohio's Governor Kasich issued 
another statement revising the schedule for nine 
upcoming executions. This revised schedule was in 
response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth 
Circuit's order setting a briefing schedule for the 
Court's en banc rehearing of the state's appeal of a 
federal magistrate judge's order issuing a preliminary 
injunction barring Ohio from carrying out 3-drug 
executions using midazolam or any execution using a 
paralytic agent or potassium chloride.

^ On September 1, 2017, Ohio's Governor Kasich 
issued a statement and an updated execution 
schedule, which changed the execution dates for 19 
of 26 condemned prisoners who had scheduled 
dates between September 2017 and September 2020. 
The execution schedule for these 26 prisoners now 
extends through April 2022. 

Recent Executions

No executions since November 8, 2017 

By Joyce Wolf

Group 22's Write For Rights event at Dog Haus 
Biergarten on Saturday, Dec. 9, resulted in 181 
letters and cards for Amnesty's 10 featured cases 
in 2017, plus another 5 letters for our group's 
adopted prisoner of conscience in Iran, Narges 
Mohammadi. Sixteen people attended:  Stevi, 
Paul, Candy, Laura, Ted, Kathy, Robert, Elena, 
Kai, Larry, Noor, Paula, me, and special visitors 
Mhairi, Jose, Nona. Thank you all!

This was the second time we held our annual 
W4R event at the Dog Haus, and we felt the 
outdoor patio with the long tables was a very 
pleasant place for letter writing. We're grateful 
to Trevor for making the original suggestion in 
2016 and to Stevi for making arrangements with 
Dog Haus managers for our events.

When our event concluded, the Donations for 
Postage can contained $70. At the book 
discussion party on Dec. 10, we received 
donations of 76 USA Forever stamps and $30 
cash. Many thanks to all who contributed.

UAs                        27
POC                         4
Total                      31

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.