As court blocks his release, Woodfox fights for freedom

first_imgFreedom was within reach for Louisiana political prisoner Albert Woodfox, the last imprisoned member of the “Angola Three.” But his much-anticipated release didn’t happen. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Nov. 9 that Woodfox must remain in custody and that the state of Louisiana could try him for a third time, despite a federal court’s ruling prohibiting a retrial.Albert WoodfoxThis cruel legal maneuvering shows the entrenched racism and unfairness in the criminal justice system. State officials are hell-bent on stopping Woodfox’s release and on continuing his 43-year imprisonment in solitary confinement.The appeals court overturned a June 8 decision by U.S. District Judge James Brady that had ordered Woodfox’s immediate release and prohibited the state from retrying him for the 1972 killing of a prison guard. Brady had asserted that it would not be a fair trial: Key witnesses had died, there was no physical evidence linking Woodfox to the death, and there was racial discrimination in the jury selection. Woodfox has steadfastly maintained his innocence.This latest decision by the appeals court was not unanimous. One of the three judges, James L. Dennis, strongly agreed with Brady. Excerpts from his dissent, published at the blog site of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, state: “If ever a case justifiably could be considered to present ‘exceptional circumstances’ barring reprosecution, this is that case.“For more than four decades, Albert Woodfox has been solitarily confined to a nine-by-six foot cell for 23 hours a day,” says Dennis, who adds that during the hour Woodfox is allowed outside his cell, he must remain in solitude. “[He] is a model prisoner, now 68 years old, and in frail health, suffering from an onslaught of life-shortening diseases. The State has twice tried and twice failed to obtain a constitutionally valid conviction of Woodfox. For the vast majority of his life, Woodfox has spent nearly every waking hour in a cramped cell in crushing solitude without a valid conviction.”Today, Woodfox is the longest-held U.S. prisoner in solitary confinement, a punishment considered torture by civil liberties and international human rights organizations.‘Angola Three’ fought injustice in prisonWoodfox, Herman Wallace and Robert King became known as the “Angola Three,” all internationally known African-American political prisoners who spent decades in solitary confinement. Workers World has actively supported their fight for freedom and justice.This newspaper said on June 8, 2012, that “Woodfox’s case began 40 years ago, deep in rural, southern Louisiana, when he and two other young Black men, Herman Wallace and Robert King, were silenced for exposing racial segregation, systemic corruption and horrific abuse in the biggest prison in the U.S. at that time, an 18,000-acre former slave plantation called Angola.”Prisoners organized hunger strikes, work stoppages and political education classes, even forming a Black Panther Party chapter. They sought investigations into unconstitutional and inhumane practices. After a prison guard was killed in a 1972 rebellion, officials framed the three activists and threw them into solitary confinement.King was released in 2001. After 41 years in solitary, Wallace was let out on Oct. 1, 2013, but died of cancer three days later. Even as Wallace was dying, prison officials were trying to re-imprison him.The Angola 3 News blog reports that Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the U.S., and that three-fourths of Angola’s more than 5,000 prisoners are African American. Due to harsh sentencing laws, 97 percent will die there. Louisiana officials want the same fate for Woodfox.Albert Woodfox is determined to keep fighting until he gets justice. See the Angola 3 News blog for updates and how to send letters of support to this courageous brother.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

JPL’s Role in Making ‘The Martian’ a Reality

first_img Community News Name (required)  Mail (required) (not be published)  Website  Pasadena Will Allow Vaccinated People to Go Without Masks in Most Settings Starting on Tuesday Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. Free.Get all the latest Pasadena news, more than 10 fresh stories daily, 7 days a week at 7 a.m. Top of the News Make a comment EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT | FOOD & DRINK | THE ARTS | REAL ESTATE | HOME & GARDEN | WELLNESS | SOCIAL SCENE | GETAWAYS | PARENTS & KIDS Subscribe Science and Technology JPL’s Role in Making ‘The Martian’ a Reality From STAFF REPORTS Published on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 | 11:03 am Home of the Week: Unique Pasadena Home Located on Madeline Drive, Pasadena Pasadena’s ‘626 Day’ Aims to Celebrate City, Boost Local Economy center_img First Heatwave Expected Next Week HerbeautyBaby Boom: The Stars Are Getting Busy In QuarantineHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeauty12 Female Fashion Trends That Guys Can’t StandHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyInstall These Measures To Keep Your Household Safe From Covid19HerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyThese Fashion Tips Are Making Tall Girls The Talk Of The TownHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyPretty Or Not: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About BeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyHerbeautyHe Is Totally In Love With You If He Does These 7 ThingsHerbeautyHerbeauty More Cool Stuff faithfernandez More » ShareTweetShare on Google+Pin on PinterestSend with WhatsApp,Virtual Schools PasadenaHomes Solve Community/Gov/Pub SafetyCitizen Service CenterPASADENA EVENTS & ACTIVITIES CALENDARClick here for Movie Showtimes Business News Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * People and technology from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory aid fictional astronaut Mark Watney during his epic survival story in “The Martian.” Image credit: 20th Century FoxWhen fictional astronaut Mark Watney becomes stranded alone on the Red Planet in the novel and film “The Martian,” people and technology from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, play important roles in his castaway adventure. Acclaimed for its attention to scientific and technical detail, “The Martian” is steeped in decades of real-life Mars exploration that JPL has led for NASA.For more details about how NASA is focused on our journey to Mars, visit: are mild spoilers in the next section — if you haven’t read or seen “The Martian,” you might want to skip to the following section.)Supporting ‘The Martian’Perhaps most crucial to the story of “The Martian,” JPL designed, built and operated the Mars Pathfinder lander and its Sojourner rover, which landed on Mars in 1997 and operated for about three months. The hardy Pathfinder probe figures prominently into Watney’s ability to communicate with Earth and survive his long ordeal. One of the technical details “The Martian” gets right is that, just as in the story, the real Pathfinder had a reprogrammable computer that an astronaut could, in principle, plug into and control.The story also captures the famous can-do attitude of JPL engineers, who dive headlong into the challenge of helping communicate with the stranded astronaut and later, launching supplies to help keep him alive. And JPL’s celebrated ingenuity is on display in the navigator who comes up with the solution for how to bring the entire Ares crew home. Since the beginning of the Space Age, JPL has been the world leader in deep space navigation — from being first to conduct gravity assists around other planets to today’s daredevil flybys of Saturn and its moons by Cassini.Fictional JPL director Bruce Ng is a major supporting character in the story, and like the real JPL directors past and present, comes from a technical background. (The current real-life JPL director tends to dress a bit more formally, but has been known to sport a Hawaiian shirt from time to time.) However, while the heads of NASA, JPL and the agency’s Mars program are portrayed in the story as working through tough challenges on their own, their real-life counterparts rely on teams of scientists and engineers to help provide innovative solutions.In creating the film version of “The Martian,” producers turned to JPL for technical drawings and photos of Pathfinder, in order to accurately portray the historic spacecraft in the movie. The production team also visited JPL for research that would help them create a future version of the laboratory on film, down to the well-known informality of its culture. And cast member Jessica Chastain, who played Mars mission commander Melissa Lewis, visited JPL as part of preparation for her role.Paving the Way for the Real MartiansJPL is NASA’s leading center for robotic exploration of the solar system, and has provided a variety of orbiters, landers and rovers to help reveal the true nature of Mars. Similar to its efforts prior to the Apollo landings on the moon, NASA has been sending robotic spacecraft to Mars, in part, to better characterize the environment human astronauts might face when visiting the Red Planet. Thus, as NASA studies Mars to understand its potential habitability for simple forms of life — now and in the ancient past — its fleet of Mars missions is also paving the way for human journeys.Some of these robotic missions have found signs of water in the Martian subsurface that potentially could be exploited by astronauts for life support and growing plants for food, as well as making rocket fuel. NASA’s Curiosity rover has a detector, called RAD, which was designed to observe the radiation environment on the cruise to Mars and after the rover landed. These data are vital to understanding how astronauts need to be protected when they make the journey to Mars. And NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, with its powerful imaging camera, has mapped the planet at high resolution, allowing us to see Mars on a human scale as we plan for trips by astronauts.Looking forward, JPL is developing the technological capabilities to land payloads on the Martian surface larger than the one-ton Curiosity rover. These technologies include the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project, which is testing a mammoth parachute and a giant inflatable decelerator. LDSD is an important step toward landing payloads to support human missions, which will need a variety of massive provisions, including habitats packed with food and water, pressurized rovers, and rockets for returning to orbit from the Martian surface.JPL is also advancing precision landing technologies needed to place an autonomous Mars Ascent Vehicle, as featured in “The Martian,” in a desired location, years before the arrival of a human crew. The self-controlled landing of the Curiosity rover in 2012 was a major milestone on the path to this capability.And in addition to spacecraft missions to Mars, JPL manages NASA’s Deep Space Network — the vital communications link with spacecraft across the solar system, including those on Mars. The Network would also be used to keep in touch with future astronauts on deep-space voyages between Earth and Mars.Dare Mighty ThingsEarly in the film version of “The Martian,” as he works out how to survive on Mars, Watney mentions the founders of JPL, noting that they were daring students from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech still staffs and manages JPL for NASA. In recent years, the laboratory has adopted a quote from President Teddy Roosevelt — “Dare Mighty Things” — as its unofficial motto. That boldness lives on as JPL helps support NASA’s real-life journey to Mars.JPL manages NASA’s Mars program, along with the agency’s Mars Science Laboratory and its Curiosity rover, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the LDSD project. 4 recommended0 commentsShareShareTweetSharePin it Community Newslast_img read more