Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXVI Number 11, November-December 2018

  Tuesday, December 11, 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, December 16, 4:00 PM. Holiday 
Potluck & Rights Readers Human Rights Book 
Discussion Group. This month we read "From a 
Low and Quiet Sea" by Donal Ryan.
  NOTE: This month our book group meeting 
is combined with a holiday potluck and will 
be held at Joyce's house in Montrose. For 
information, email or 
phone 818-249-4056 and leave a voicemail.

Hello all
The holiday season is upon us! Hope you all had 
a wonderful Thanksgiving. Rob, myself and my 
sister Peggy visited with our cousins from my 
father's side in Seattle. It was cold and raining 
off and on but it is really green and pretty. One 
of my cousin's houses is on Puget Sound (sigh). 
We ate too much, did some sightseeing, and 
enjoyed seeing our fellow "orphans" (both my 
parents and theirs have passed away).

On Saturday November 17, we held letter 
writing at a different location - the Dog Haus 
restaurant near Old Town, Pasadena. We wrote 
a whole bunch of letters for Human Rights Day, 
thanks to all who participated and brought 
friends and neighbors. It was fun and their food 
is good, too! I had made several pages of 
address labels to both government officials and 
solidarity for the victims of human rights abuses 
that were featured - there's a lot left over which I 
will bring to the Dec letter writing at the 
Athenaeum. We don't have to report the letter 
count until the end of January, so let's add to it! 
Bring your cards for the solidarity messages and 
your return address labels!

It's been awhile since Group 22 participated in 
the Doo Dah Parade (now in East Pasadena for 
the past several years), but our friend Ann Lau 
has been protesting human rights abuses in 
China in the parade. Group 22's Veronica 
Raymond has been active with Ann Lau's Visual 
Artists Guild and was in Doo Dah this year with 
the group.

There is no Thursday monthly meeting for 
December, so if we don't see you, enjoy the 

Con Carino,

Next Rights Readers Meeting

Sunday, December 16
4:00 PM

Holiday Potluck at private home in Montrose

From a Low and Quiet Sea
by Donal Ryan

Posted by BookerTalk, 28 August 2018

Were it not for the Booker Prize I'm not sure I 
would have ever experienced Donal Ryan's 

He was long listed in 2013 with The Spinning 
Heart, winning The Guardian first book award 
the same year. Narrated by 21 victims of 
Ireland's economic crash; it reveals the impact of 
the collapse of the Celtic Tiger on the inhabitants 
of an unnamed rural town.  In my review I 
described it as "technically adroit ... with pitch 
perfect characterisation."

That same description can be equally applied to 
his latest novel, From a Low and Quiet Sea, which 
is on this year's Booker Prize long list.

I thought it would be hard to beat The Spinning 
Heart but Ryan has done it with From a Low and 
Quiet Sea. 

The cast of characters has been significantly 
trimmed. We're now focused on three men all of 
whom have something missing in their lives: a 
Syrian refugee, a crooked lobbyist and a young 
man dealing with the heartache of a lost love.

Each man is given their own section in the 

Farouk is a doctor who escapes from Syria with 
his wife and daughter in the hope of finding a 
more stable, peaceful life in western Europe. Too 
late, they discover they have been duped and 
instead of being let to safety are left adrift at sea 
in the midst of a storm.  Ryan apparently wrote 
this story after hearing a news report about a 
Syrian doctor who paid what he thought was a 
high-end smuggler to get him out of the 
country.  Though short, this was an engrossing 
story in exquisitely evocative prose

"They speak to each other through tunnels that 
extend from their roots . . . sending their messages 
cell by cell . . . If a tree is starving, its neighbour will 
send it food. No one knows how this can be, but it is . 
. . They know the rule, the only one that's real and 
must be kept. What's the rule? You know. I've told 
you lots of times before. Be kind."

The style and pace change markedly for section 
two which features Lampy, a young man who is 
pining after the girl he loved who dumped him 
when she went off to college. He works in a care 
home, occasionally driving the old inhabitants 
to their medical appointments. He lives with his 
mother and grandfather Dixie - a man who 
loves taking people in the pub down a peg of 
two. Lampy is frequently frustrated by the old 
man yet also loves him, feeling "a strange thrill 
of pride. His grandfather was wicked; when he 
was in form his tongue could slice the world in 

And finally we get to John, a ruthless man 
involved in very shady dealings, who is full of 
remorse for long-ago relationship with a 
younger woman. He tells his own story through 
the medium of the confessional, revealing how 
his family life fell apart when his brother died 
and he became obsessed with a young woman 
he met in a bar.

At first it seems these stories have no 
relationship to each other. It's only in the fourth 
- and final - section that they are drawn 
together in a way that surprised me. To say 
more would be to spoil the experience of this 
book for other readers.

From a Low and Quiet Sea is a brief book but it's 
one that lingers in the mind. Every character has 
a unique voice, from melancholy to matter of 
fact confession but there is also humour  - 
there's a wonderfully funny scene on the bus 
where the old people grumble because the 
vehicle breaks down. It's so good I'm tempted to 
read it again soon which is something that I 
rarely do.

I'm not the only blogger to have enjoyed this 
book. Check out the reviews at A Life in Books 


By Patricia Harty, Editor-in-Chief
October / November 2016

Donal Ryan is one of Ireland's best new writers. 
His first novel, The Spinning Heart, was 
published to great acclaim in 2012. It won the 
Guardian First Book Award, the European 
Union Prize for Literature, and Book of the Year 
at the Irish Book Awards. It was shortlisted for 
the Man Booker Prize, and the Desmond Elliott 

Born, in 1976, outside Nenagh, Co.Tipperary, Ryan is 
a keen observer of human nature - the petty class-
distinctions and small-mindedness of small-town life, 
the loneliness and displacement, disquiet and quiet 
triumphs of a people living in post-Celtic Tiger 
Ireland. Though the downturn in the economy serves 
as a backdrop to much of his fiction, his stories are 
timeless in that they concern the emotions of the 
heart - the core of human nature through the ages.

Ryan himself, faced down numerous rejections 
before Sarah Davis-Goff, an intern at Lilliput Press, 
uncovered his The Spinning Heart manuscript in a 
slush pile. (Davis-Goff went on to start her own 
publishing company). Following the success of The 
Spinning Heart, Ryan's The Thing About December 
(written before The Spinning Heart) was published in 
2013, also to wide acclaim.

Ryan holds a degree in law from the University of 
Limerick, where he is now a writer in residence. He 
lives with his wife, Anne Marie, and their two 
children in Castletroy on the outskirts of Limerick 
City. His new book, All We Shall Know, was released 
by Penguin, Random House in September.

By Stevi Carroll

George Will

George Will is no soft-hearted lefty. In a 
September 28, 2018, opinion piece in The 
Washington Post, he discusses his reasoning for 
the abolition of the death penalty. The case he 
uses is that of Vernon Madison. Mr Madison did 
indeed murder a police officer in 1985. Since 
adolescence, he suffered from mental illness and 
since he's been incarcerated, his condition has 
deteriorated with a variety of physical problems 
including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dead 
brain tissue, and urinary incontinence. The state 
of Alabama wants to execute Mr Vernon.

Bryan A. Stevenson, head of the Equal Justice 
Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, has argued 
his case. Mr Stevenson has pointed out that Mr 
Madison is unable to remember 'numerous 
events' over the past 30 years, including his 
murder of the police officer.

In his opinion piece, Mr Will argues that 
retribution and deterrence are not adequate 
reasons to continue the use of the death penalty. 
He believes that our standards of decency have 
evolved over the decades. Mr Will comes from a 
conservative perspective and ends his piece with 
"Conservatives have their own standards, 
including this one: The state - government - 
already is altogether too full of itself, and 
investing it with the power to inflict death on 
anyone exacerbates its sense of majesty and 
delusions of adequacy."

To read Mr Will's op-ed, go to

LA Times Editorial Board Weighs in on the 
Death Penalty in California 

In an editorial November 23, 2018, the editorial 
board of the LA Times calls for Governor Jerry 
Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom to 
work together to put their beliefs about the 
death penalty into action and law. Both men are 
opposed to the death penalty and while 
Governor Brown chose to remain neutral 
regarding Proposition 66 in the 2016 election, 
Governor-elect Newsom was an opponent of the 
death penalty then and in 2012 when the death 
penalty was also on the California ballot.

In November, two inmates on San Quentin's 
death row died by suicide. Since California 
reinstated the death penalty more than 40 years 
ago, 27 inmates have died by suicide while 
another 79 have died from old age or illness. 
Thirteen inmates have been executed in that 

Since money is always an issue, it is worth 
mentioning that in these years maintaining 
death row has cost California taxpayers more 
than $5 billion and according to one report the 
state would save around $170 million a year if 
those sentences converted to life without the 
possibility of parole.

One number we may want to remember is 164. 
That is the number of condemned prisoners who 
have been found to have been wrongfully 
convicted. This number includes five in 

While fewer juries are imposing death 
sentences, we will watch what happens as 
Governor Brown leaves office and Governor-
elect Newsom assumes his responsibilities as 
governor of California.

To read the entire editorial, go to

Petition to Governor Brown

Death Penalty Focus has an online petition that 
asks Governor Jerry Brown to remove as many 
people as possible from death row before he 
leaves office. If you'd like to read the petition 
and perhaps sign it, go to

Edmund Zagorski  and the Electric Chair

You will notice under 'Executions' that we had a 
recent one via the electric chair. To read more on 
this case, go to

Tony Brown - State: FL - Date of Exoneration: 
In 2010, Tony Brown was sentenced to life in 
prison for the murder and attempted murder of 
two men in Miami.  His charges were dismissed 
in October 2018 after a new witness came 
forward and said that Brown was not the 

Darrell Siggers - State: MI - Date of Exoneration: 
In 1984, Darrell Siggers was sentenced to life in 
prison for murder in Detroit, Michigan. He was 
exonerated in 2018 by evidence that he was not 
the gunman and that the police fabricated 
ballistics evidence.

Mubarez Ahmed - State: MI - Date of 
Exoneration: 10/26/2018
Mubarez Ahmed was convicted in 2002 of two 
counts of murder in Detroit, Michigan. His 
charges were dismissed in 2018 after the sole 
eyewitness to the shootings recanted her trial 
testimony that Ahmed was the shooter, and it 
was revealed that a police officer had used false 
information to create probable cause for 
Ahmed's arrest.

Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin - State: FL - Date of 
Exoneration: 11/5/2018
In 2006, Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin was 
sentenced to death for murdering two women in 
Altamonte Springs, Florida. He was exonerated 
in 2018 by DNA tests and admissions by the real 

Stay of Execution
28	Sedrick Clayton	TN	 
Stay granted on November 1, 2018 to provide 
Clayton the opportunity to pursue state post-
conviction challenges that are available to all 
Tennessee criminal defendants.

29	Rodney Berget		SD
	Lethal Injection - 1-drug (Undisclosed, 
likely  Pentobarbital) 	 
Years from sentencing to execution: seven

1	Edmund Zagorski	TN
Years from sentencing to execution: 34

14	Roberto Moreno Ramos~	TX
	Lethal Injection - 1-drug (Undisclosed, 
likely  Pentobarbital) 	 
Years from sentencing to execution: 25

~ foreign national

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.