Free Steven Donzinger

Steven R. Donziger is one of the most successful environmental lawyers of our time. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he has been courageously fighting against polluting American oil companies for nearly three decades on behalf of indigenous communities and peasant farmers in Ecuador.

Judge Loretta Preska sentenced him to six months in prison for misdemeanor contempt of court after he had already spent an unheard of 787 days under house arrest in New York. Chevron and dozens of its law firms have been trying to undermine his work as an environmental justice lawyer after a historic $9.5 billion pollution judgement against the company.

After an 8-year trial in Ecuador, the country’s Supreme Court in 2013 found the oil company committed a mass industrial poisoning. Chevron vowed never to pay the judgement and recently threatened the Indigenous peoples with a “lifetime of litigation” unless they drop their claims. As part of a retaliation campaign, Chevron has tried to demonize Steven by using at least 60 law firms, 2,000 lawyers, six public relations firms, and even websites created by them with false narratives to smear his reputation.

Judge Preska denied Steven a jury of his peers, refused to allow him to present a defense, and his lawyers have been prevented from taking discovery related to the flagrant conflicts of interest involving Chevron and Judge Preska. Preska also allowed the private prosecutor to orchestrate a contempt “trial” against him that was financed in large part by Chevron’s law firms.

Isn’t private prosecution without a jury is unconstitutional? Five esteemed jurists from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recently found Steven’s detention to violate international law and ordered the U.S. government to release him.

Stand with Steven and call the following people: Joe Biden: 1-202-456-1111; Merrick Garland Dept. Comment Line: 202-353-1555; Dept. of Justice Main Switchboard: 202-514-2000; A.O.C. Phone Number: 202-225-3965. Tell them to take a stand for Justice, set Steven Donzinger free and drop all charges.

Judith Elia

Santa Maria

The scariest part of Halloween

Little scares me about Halloween or trick-or-treating. Ghosts, zombies, skeletons and witches have nothing on all the milk ingredients in candy and the frightening truth about the dairy industry.

This is the industry that has spent billions convincing humans that drinking the milk of another species is okay.

This is the industry that feeds millions of dairy cows in favor of feeding starving humans.

This is the industry that creates pastures for dairy cows which accounts for a substantial reduction of forestland and other wildlife habitats. Add to this that the digestive system of cows discharges large amounts of methane, and their waste discharges nitrous oxide, both contributors to global warming.

The dairy industry is more frightening than any Halloween nightmare.

But, we’re lucky. Our local supermarkets offer a selection of plant-based milks, cheeses, and ice creams, as well as a colorful display of fresh fruits and veggies. And the dairy industry reporting slumping sales is just the treat we need this holiday season.

Sedrick Mackenzie

Santa Maria

Education is a right, not a privilege

Is our district failing us to be college-bound?

College is a pathway to success. However, only 36% of graduates at SMJUHSD have completed their AG coursework. (AGs are minimal course requirements for applying to a four-year state university).

I'm currently a senior at Santa Maria High School. As a student, I felt no support from school administration in my pursuits for higher education, which is one of the reasons that I began to look for other resources. I was fortunate enough to receive support from my older brother, Jesus, who had a similar experience to mine but was able to share with me resources he wished he knew when he was in high school such as “Future Leaders of America” and “Upward Bound.” These organizations seem to show more interest in helping us improve our knowledge of the education system and become that small percentage in Santa Maria that leave to a 4-year university than the school district itself.

Even with the AG courses that are provided, the district does not provide the resources for students to succeed. For example, when I was in my AG Certified Biology class there was a shortage of books in the class and to make up for this shortage I was stuck with a book in Spanish without consulting whether I was fluent to learn in Spanish.

AGs shouldn’t be only for a privileged few, our high school graduation coursework requirement should be aligned with the AG requirement. Even if a student chooses to not go to college, and AG requirement would provide them with a high-quality education to prepare them for their future career.

If Los Angeles Unified School District and our neighbors in both Oxnard and Santa Barbara high school districts can have their graduation policy aligned with the AG requirement then why not us? We as students are not failing school, our school has failed us.

Jasmin Herrera

Santa Maria


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