Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:














MAY DAY 2016

International Workers Day March and Rally for Economic and Social Justice for All Working People!

Sunday, May 1, 2016, 11:00 A.M.

Union Hall, ILWU Local 10

400 North Point Street

San Francisco, CA 94133

March to Harry Bridges Plaza for a Rally at 1:00 P.M. 




North America Premiere of Drone Whistleblower Doc NATIONAL BIRD

Dear Friends and Supporters:

We are pleased to announce the North American Premiere of our feature documentary National Bird at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and the West Coast Premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival in May. 

National Bird follows the journeys of three whistleblowers who are determined to break the silence around the secret U.S. drone war. Their stories take dramatic turns, leading one of the veterans to Afghanistan where she learns about one of the worst U.S. airstrikes to have impacted civilians. For the first time, the Afghan survivors, men and women, speak openly about what has happened to them. 

National Bird was made by a team of mostly women - in front of the camera and behind.

We would love to share our film with you on the big screen and hope you can make it to one of our screenings. Each will be followed by a Q&A with protagonist Lisa and director Sonia Kennebeck, and on April 16 and 17 also with prominent whistleblower attorney Jesselyn Radack.

Sunday, May 1, at 8 PM

The Victoria Theatre, San Francisco

Monday, May 2, at 3 PM

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, San Francisco

Tuesday, May 3, at 4 PM

Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley

For tickets, please visit the SFIFF website for more information.

And please forward this email, follow, like and promote us on Facebook and Twitter!

We hope to see you soon!

The Team of National Bird

Sonia Kennebeck (Director and Producer), Ines Hofmann Kanna (Producer)

Torsten Lapp (Director of Photography), Maxine Goedicke (Editor), Insa Rudolph (Composer)

Wim Wenders and Errol Morris (Executive Producers)



 Tell Mayor de Blasio: Fire ALL Officers Involved in Killing Ramarley! 

 Sign the petition:






General Motors is Guilty in Flint!

Demand GM, which made $9.7 billion in 2015, immediately contribute $4 billion to rebuild Flint's water infrastructure, housing and schools, and provide quality, lifetime healthcare and services for Flint's youth!

Working people across the U.S. and even many celebrities have made significant contributions to aid the people of Flint, who are experiencing the devastating effects of the Water Lead Poisoning Scandal. One entity, however, has been notably silent: General Motors Corporation. This is despite the fact that it was the actions of GM that are responsible for the financial destruction of Flint, which led to the city being placed under racist Emergency Management with the disastrous consequences that followed.

  • GM eliminated 72,000 union auto worker jobs in the Flint from 1970 to the present, driving out half of the population, and turning Flint from one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S. to the poorest. GM moved operations all over the globe seeking low wages and replaced workers with robots in its drive for super-profits.
  • When GM became aware of the toxic nature of Flint's water supply in October 2014, it didn't alert the public or call for the end of its use in family water taps. No, it negotiated an exemption for itself to get water from Lake Huron so its parts would not be corroded, the people be damned.
  • GM is the single greatest polluter of the toxic Flint River, using it to dump industrial waste for years.
  • GM promoted lead-based gasoline for 60 years to make its engines more efficient at the least cost, knowing full well the poisonous effects of lead.
  • GM got a bailout from the federal government in 2009 which cost taxpayers $11 billion. The State of Michigan, under governors Granholm and Snyder, gave GM $4 billion in tax credits through 2030, meaning every year GM is profitable it pays ZERO state taxes.
  • GM pocketed $9.7 billion in profits in 2015. It's time for GM to pay its debt to the people of Flint.

For more info: 313-680-5508




Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw Kindle Edition

by Kevin Rashid Johnson (Author), Tom Big Warrior (Introduction), Russell Maroon Shoatz(Introduction)




State Seeks to Remove Innocent PA Lifer's Attorney! Free Corey Walker!

The PA Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed legal action to remove Corey Walker's attorney, Rachel Wolkenstein, in November 2014. On Tuesday, February 9, 2016 the evidentiary hearing to terminate Wolkenstein as Corey Walker's pro hac vice lawyer continues before Judge Lawrence Clark of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg, PA.

Walker, assisted by Wolkenstein, filed three sets of legal papers over five months in 2014 with new evidence of Walker's innocence and that the prosecution and police deliberately used false evidence to convict him of murder. Two weeks after Wolkenstein was granted pro hac vice status, the OAG moved against her and Walker.

The OAG claims that Wolkenstein's political views and prior legal representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal and courtroom arrest by the notorious Judge Albert Sabo makes it "intolerable" for her to represent Corey Walker in the courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Over the past fifteen months the OAG has effectively stopped any judicial action on the legal challenges of Corey Walker and his former co-defendant, Lorenzo Johnson against their convictions and sentences to life imprisonment without parole while it proceeds in its attempts to remove Wolkenstein.

This is retaliation against Corey Walker who is innocent and framed. Walker and his attorney won't stop until they thoroughly expose the police corruption and deliberate presentation of false evidence to convict Corey Walker and win his freedom.

This outrageous attack on Corey Walker's fundamental right to his lawyer of choice and challenge his conviction must cease. The evidence of his innocence and deliberate prosecutorial frame up was suppressed for almost twenty years. Corey Walker must be freed!

Read: Jim Crow Justice – The Frame-up Of Corey Walker by Charles Brover

Go to FreeCoreyWalker.org to provide help and get more information.



TAKE ACTION: Mumia is sick

Date & Time: 

Thursday, March 24, 2016 - 18:00



We are concerned about Mumia's deteriorating health, as has been witnessed in recent weeks by his visiting doctor, clergy, counselors, teachers, family and friends.

Evidence of intensifying hepatitis C symptoms and possible development of the diabetes that nearly killed him a year ago calls for immediate and appropriate treatment.

Help Mumia's lawyers prepare to demand access to Mumia's medical records from court!

Call, fax and email with the following demands: 

  • Immediate provision to Mumia of anti-viral treatment to cure his Hepatitis C condition that is, as his doctor testified in court, the persistent cause of worsening skin disease, almost certain liver damage, now extreme weight-gain and hunger, and other diabetic-like conditions.
  • Immediate release of all recent blood test results to Mumia's attorneys.
  • Vigilant monitoring of Mumia for signs of diabetes, especially of his blood sugar level, since a diabetes attack nearly killed Mumia last Spring of 2015.

Tom Wolf, PA Governor 

Phone  717-787-2500

Fax 717-772-8284                                             

Email governor@pa.gov

John Wetzel, PA Department of Corrections Secretary

Phone:  717-728-2573717 787 2500

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Theresa DelBalso, SCI Mahanoy Prison Superintendent

Phone: 570-773-2158

Dr. Paul Noel, Director of Medical Care at the PA Dept of Corrections

Phone:  717-728-5309 x 5312

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Dr. Carl Keldie, Chief Medical Officer of Correct Care Solutions

Phone:  800-592-2974 x 5783

Sign the Petition now to demand Mumia's right to life-saving hepatitis C care.

Help Mumia's lawyers prepare to demand access to Mumia's medical records from court!

Thank you for keeping Mumia in your heart and mind,

Noelle Hanrahan

Director, Prison Radio


The Oasis Clinic in Oakland, CA, which treats patients with Hepatitis-C (HCV), demands an end to the outrageous price-gouging of Big Pharma corporations, like Gilead Sciences, which hike-up the cost for essential, life-saving medications such as the cure for the deadly Hepatitis-C virus, in order to reap huge profits. The Oasis Clinic's demand is:







This message from:

Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610 • www.laboractionmumia.org

06 January 2016

Mumia Is Innocent!  Free Mumia!




Imam Jamil (H.Rap Brown) moved

Some two weeks ago Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown) was moved by bus from USP Canaan in Waymart, PA. to USP Tucson, Arizona.  His mailing address is:  USP Tucson United States Penitentiary P.O. Box Tucson, AZ. 85734  (BOP number 99974555)

Sign the Petition:

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, THE Bureau of Prisons, The Governor of Georgia

We are aware of a review being launched of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted and or deserve a new trail because of flawed forensic evidence and or wrongly reported evidence. It was stated in the Washington Post in April of 2012 that Justice Department Officials had known for years that flawed forensic work led to convictions of innocent people. We seek to have included in the review of such cases that of Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. We understand that all cases reviewed will include the Innocence Project. We look forward to your immediate attention to these overdue wrongs.

ASAP: The Forgotten Imam Project

P.O. Box 373

Four Oaks, NC 27524


Luqman Abdullah-ibn Al-Sidiq





Haneef Bey (Beaumont Gereau),   Abdul Azziz (Warren Ballentine),   Malik Bey (Meral Smith)


While the U.S. today declares that the natural inhabitants of the Virgin Islands have "no fundamental rights," it claims that it fairly tried these men in 1972, then held them in the U.S. federal prison system for 29 years. In 2000, even though the U.S. retired their "sentences,"  it directed the colonial government to hold them nonetheless, indefinitely, and illegally, and this is exactly what it has done for 15-years. 















  We need people to do the following things

      Kenneth Mapp is the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, a former police officer in the states, is directly responsible for the illegal detention of the Virgin Islands 3. All he does not need a court  to order their release, all he  needs to do is to decide that his government will no long violate the law and the Human Rights of its own people. 

Read more at: http://virginislands3.yolasite.com/




Major Tillery was denied medical treatment, transferred and put in the hole "because of something prison administrators hate and fear among all things: prisoner unity, prisoner solidarity." -Mumia Abu-Jamal

SCI Frackville prison officials put Major Tillery back in the hole!! This is more retaliation against Tillery who is now fighting to get Hepatitis C treatment. Tillery was able to get word out through another prisoner who told us that several guards in the "AC annex" have been verbally harassing and trying to provoke men with racist comments. The "AC annex" is a cell block that houses both general population and disciplinary prisoners together. We don't have the particulars of what falsified charges they put against Major. His daughter Kamilah Iddeen heard that he got 30 days and should be out of the RHU (restricted housing unit) on March 2.

Last year Major Tillery stood up for Mumia, telling John Kerestes, the Superintendent at SCI Mahanoy, that Mumia is dying and needs to go to the hospital. Soon afterward, Mumia was rushed to the hospital in deadly diabetic shock. For that warning and refusing to remain silent in the face of medical neglect and mistreatment of all prisoners Major Tillery was put in the hole in another prison and denied medical care for his arthritis, liver problems and hepatitis C.  

Major Tillery didn't stop fighting for medical treatment for himself and other prisoners. On February 11, Major Tillery filed a 40 page, 7-count civil rights lawsuit against the Department of Corrections, the superintendents of SCI Mahanoy and SCI Frackville and other prison guards for retaliation in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Major Tillery demands that the DOC stop its retaliation, remove the false misconduct from his record, provide medical treatment and transfer him out of SCI Frackville to a different prison in eastern Pennsylvania so he remains near his family.

This lawsuit is just part of Major Tillery's fight for medical care and to protect himself and other prisoners who are standing up for justice. He has liver disease and chronic Hepatitis C that the DOC has known about for over a decade. Tillery is filing grievances against the prison and its medical staff to get the new antiviral medicine. This is part of the larger struggle to obtain Hep C treatment for the 10,000 prisoners in Pennsylvania and the estimated 700,000 prisoners nationally who have Hepatitis-C and could be cured.

Major Tillery's daughter, Kamilah Iddeen appeals for our support:

It is so important that my Dad filed this lawsuit– it shows what really goes on inside the prison. Prison officials act as if my father is their property, that his family doesn't exist, that he isn't a man with people who love him. They lied to us every time we called and said he needed treatment. They lied and said he hadn't told them, that he hadn't filed grievances. The DOC plays mind games and punishes prisoners who stand up for themselves and for others. But my Dad won't be broken.

The DOC needs to learn they can't do this to a prisoner and his family. Justice has to be done. Justice has to be served. Please help.

Major Tillery needs your calls to the DOC. He also needs help in covering the costs of the court filing fees, copying and mailing expenses amount of over $500.  Please help. Send money: Go to: www.JPay.com  Code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

Demand the Department of Corrections:
Stop the Retaliation Against Major Tillery.
Exonerate Major Tillery for the false charges of drug possession.
Remove the false misconduct from Major Tillery's record.
Transfer Major Tillery from SCI Frackville to another facility in eastern Pennsylvania near his family.
Provide decent medical care to Major Tillery and all prisoners!

Call and Email:
Brenda Tritt, Supt, SCI Frackville, (570)  874-4516, btritt@pa.gov
John Wetzel, Secty of the PA DOC, (717) 728-4109, ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Send Letters of support to:
Major Tillery AM9786
SCI Frackville
1111 Altamont Blvd.
Frackville, PA 17931

For More Information:
Call/Write: Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com
Nancy Lockhart (843) 412-2035,  thewrongfulconviction@gmail.com
Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com

Contribute: Go to www.JPay.com Code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

For more information: www.Justice4MajorTillery.blogspot.com 

Major Tillery, his daughter, Kamillah and his two granddaughters:


Call prison officials and demand:
--Demand decent medical care for Major Tillery!
--Stop the Retaliation Against Major Tillery. He should be exonerated for the false charges of drug possession and this misconduct removed from his record.
--Transfer Major Tillery from SCI Frackville back to SCI Mahanoy or to another facility in eastern Pennsylvania to remain near his family.

Dept. Of Corrections Secretary
John Wetzel (717) 728-4109
Superintendent SCI Frackville
Brenda Tritt (570) 874-4516

Write to
Major Tillery AM 9786
SCI Frackville
1111 Altamont Blvd.
Frackville, PA 17931

For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot
Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com
Nancy Lockhart (843) 412-2035, thewrongfulconviction@gmail.com
Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com

Contribute: Go to JPay.com; code: Major Tillery AM 9786 PADOC






In her own words:
Listen to Chelsea's story in Amnesty podcast

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning was the subject of Amnesty International's podcast, In Their Own Words, a brand new series featuring the stories of human rights activists around the world.

One of the most trying aspects of Chelsea's imprisonment has been the inability for the public to hear or see her.

"I feel like I've been stored away all this time without a voice," Chelsea has said.

In this episode, Amnesty finally gives Chelsea a voice, employing actress Michelle Hendley to speak Chelsea's words. Through Michelle, we hear Chelsea tell us who she is as a person, what she's been through, and what she's going through now.

"I have to say, I cried a few times listening to this," said Chelsea, after a Support Network volunteer played the podcast for her over the telephone. "Hearing her speak, and tell the story. She sounds like me. It sounds like the way I would tell my story."

Since its release on Feb 5, the podcast has already been listened to over 10,000 times, passing up Amnesty's first episode voiced by actor Christian Bale by over 4,000 listens. It received attention from Vice's Broadley, BoingBoing, Pink News, Fight for the Future, the ACLU, the Advocate and numerous other online blogs and tweets.

Listen to the podcast or read the full transcript here


 In her latest Guardian OpEd, Chelsea Manning shares about a rare and meaningful friendship she had while in the isolating environment of prison. "At the loneliest time of my life," explains Chelsea, "her friendship meant everything."

Prison keeps us isolated. But sometimes, sisterhood can bring us together

Chelsea Manning, Guardian OpEd

Feb 8, 2016

Prisons function by isolating those of us who are incarcerated from any means of support other than those charged with keeping us imprisoned: first, they physically isolate us from the outside world and those in it who love us; then they work to divide prisoners from one another by inculcating our distrust in one another.

The insecurity that comes from being behind bars with, at best, imperfect oversight makes us all feel responsible only for ourselves. We end up either docile, apathetic and unwilling to engage with each other, or hostile, angry, violent and resentful. When we don't play by the written or unwritten rules – or, sometimes, because we do – we become targets...

Read the complete op-ed here




When Drone Whistleblowers are Under Attack, 

What Do We Do?


 We honor Stephan, Michael, Brandon and Cian!

These four former ex-drone pilots have courageously spoken out publicly against the U.S. drone assassination program.  They have not been charged with any crime, yet the U.S. government is retaliating against these truth-tellers by freezing all of their bank and credit card accounts.  WE MUST BACK THEM UP!

Listen to them here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43z6EMy8T28


1.  Sign up on this support network:


2.  Sign this petition  NOW:


3.  Call and email officials TODAY, listed below and on FB site.

4.  Ask your organization if they would join our network.


Statement of Support for Drone Whistleblowers

(Code Pink Women for Peace: East Bay, Golden Gate, and S.F. Chapters 11.28.15)

Code Pink Women for Peace support the very courageous actions of four former US drone operators, Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland, and Stephan Lewis, who have come under increasing attack for disclosing information about "widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterize the drone program." As truth tellers, they stated in a public letter to President Obama that the killing of innocent civilians has been one of the most "devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world."* These public disclosures come only after repeated attempts to work privately within official channels failed.

Despite the fact that none of the four has been charged with criminal activity, all had their bank accounts and credit cards frozen. This retaliatory response by our government is consistent with the extrajudicial nature of US drone strikes.

We must support these former drone operators who have taken great risks to stop the drone killing. Write or call your US Senators, your US Representatives, President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan demanding that Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland, and Stephan Lewis be applauded, not punished, for revealing the criminal and extrajudicial nature of drone strikes that has led to so many civilian deaths.


URGENT: Sign and Share NOW! Drone Whistleblower Protection Petition


Contacting your Government

- White House comment line: 202-456-1111

- Email President Obama: president@whitehouse.gov and cc info@whitehouse.gov

- White House switchboard: 202-456-1414 for telephone numbers of your Senators and Representatives.

- Email your Senators and Representatives:


-Contact Ashton Carter Secretary of Defense: Go to http://www.defense.gov/About-DoD/Biographies/BiographyView/Article/602689 and select appropriate icon.

- Contact John Brennan, CIA Director: Go to

https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/leadership/john-o-brennan.html and select appropriate icon. 

For more information on the 4 Drone Whistleblowers:



(Must see Democracy Now interview with the 4 drone operators)



Code Pink Women for Peace: eastbaycodepink@gmail.com



Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

Sign the Petition:


Urge Gov. Jerry Brown to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence. Cooper has always maintained his innocence of the 1983 quadruple murder of which he was convicted. In 2009, five federal judges signed a dissenting opinion warning that the State of California "may be about to execute an innocent man." Having exhausted his appeals in the US courts, Kevin Cooper's lawyers have turned to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to seek remedy for what they maintain is his wrongful conviction, and the inadequate trial representation, prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination which have marked the case. Amnesty International opposes all executions, unconditionally.

"The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." - Judge William A. Fletcher, 2009 dissenting opinion on Kevin Cooper's case

Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for more than thirty years.

In 1985, Cooper was convicted of the murder of a family and their house guest in Chino Hills. Sentenced to death, Cooper's trial took place in an atmosphere of racial hatred — for example, an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the N*****!" was hung outside the venue of his preliminary hearing.

Take action to see that Kevin Cooper's death sentence is commuted immediately.

Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

Following his trial, five federal judges said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing."

Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.

Tell California authorities: The death penalty carries the risk of irrevocable error. Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted.

In 2009, Cooper came just eight hours shy of being executed for a crime that he may not have committed. Stand with me today in reminding the state of California that the death penalty is irreversible — Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted immediately.

In solidarity,

James Clark
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

News Updates

  • Death Row Stories
    Kevin Cooper's case will be the subject of a new episode of CNN's "Death Row Stories" airing on Sunday, July 26 at 7 p.m. PDT. The program will be repeated at 10 p.m. PDT. The episode, created by executive producers Robert Redford and Alex Gibney, will explore how Kevin Cooper was framed by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney.Viewers on the east coast can see the program at 10 p.m. EDT and it will be rebroadcast at 1 a.m. EDT on July 27. Viewers in the Central Time zone can see it at 9 p.m. and midnight CDT. Viewers in the Mountain Time zone can see it at 8 p.m. and ll p.m MDT. It will be aired on CNN again during the following week and will also be able to be viewed on CNN's "Death Row Stories" website.

Kevin Cooper: An Innocent Victim of Racist Frame-Up - from the Fact Sheet at: www.freekevincooper.org

Kevin Cooper is an African-American man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 for the gruesome murders of a white family in Chino Hills, California: Doug and Peggy Ryen and their daughter Jessica and their house- guest Christopher Hughes. The Ryens' 8 year old son Josh, also attacked, was left for dead but survived.

Convicted in an atmosphere of racial hatred in San Bernardino County CA, Kevin Cooper remains under a threat of imminent execution in San Quentin.  He has never received a fair hearing on his claim of innocence.  In a dissenting opinion in 2009, five federal judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals signed a 82 page dissenting opinion that begins: "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." 565 F.3d 581.

There is significant evidence that exonerates Mr. Cooper and points toward other suspects:

  The coroner who investigated the Ryen murders concluded that the murders took four minutes at most and that the murder weapons were a hatchet, a long knife, an ice pick and perhaps a second knife. How could a single person, in four or fewer minutes, wield three or four weapons, and inflict over 140 wounds on five people, two of whom were adults (including a 200 pound ex-marine) who had loaded weapons near their bedsides?

  The sole surviving victim of the murders, Josh Ryen, told police and hospital staff within hours of the murders that the culprits were "three white men." Josh Ryen repeated this statement in the days following the crimes. When he twice saw Mr. Cooper's picture on TV as the suspected attacker, Josh Ryen said "that's not the man who did it."

  Josh Ryen's description of the killers was corroborated by two witnesses who were driving near the Ryens' home the night of the murders. They reported seeing three white men in a station wagon matching the description of the Ryens' car speeding away from the direction of the Ryens' home.

  These descriptions were corroborated by testimony of several employees and patrons of a bar close to the Ryens' home, who saw three white men enter the bar around midnight the night of the murders, two of whom were covered in blood, and one of whom was wearing coveralls.

  The identity of the real killers was further corroborated by a woman who, shortly after the murders were discovered, alerted the sheriff's department that her boyfriend, a convicted murderer, left blood-spattered coveralls at her home the night of the murders. She also reported that her boyfriend had been wearing a tan t-shirt matching a tan t-shirt with Doug Ryen's blood on it recovered near the bar. She also reported that her boyfriend owned a hatchet matching the one recovered near the scene of the crime, which she noted was missing in the days following the murders; it never reappeared; further, her sister saw that boyfriend and two other white men in a vehicle that could have been the Ryens' car on the night of the murders.

Lacking a motive to ascribe to Mr. Cooper for the crimes, the prosecution claimed that Mr. Cooper, who had earlier walked away from custody at a minimum security prison, stole the Ryens' car to escape to Mexico. But the Ryens had left the keys in both their cars (which were parked in the driveway), so there was no need to kill them to steal their car. The prosecution also claimed that Mr. Cooper needed money, but money and credit cards were found untouched and in plain sight at the murder scene.

The jury in 1985 deliberated for seven days before finding Mr. Cooper guilty. One juror later said that if there had been one less piece of evidence, the jury would not have voted to convict.

The evidence the prosecution presented at trial tying Mr. Cooper to the crime scene has all been discredited…         (Continue reading this document at: http://www.savekevincooper.org/_new_freekevincooperdotorg/TEST/Scripts/DataLibraries/upload/KC_FactSheet_2014.pdf)

     This message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. July 2015



For Immediate Release – Thursday, October 29, 2015 

Solitary Prisoners' Lawyers Slam CDCR for Sleep Deprivation

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

SAN FRANCISCO – Yesterday, lawyers for prisoners in the class action case Ashker v. Brown submitted a letter condemning Pelican Bay prison guards' "wellness checks," which have widely been viewed as sleep deprivation. The letter was submitted to United States Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas, and calls on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to put an end to the checks.

Last month, prisoners achieved a historic victory in the settlement of Ashker v. Brown where the indefinite long term solitary confinement was effectively ended in California, with Magistrate Judge Vadas currently monitoring implementation of the settlement terms.

The guards at Pelican bay Security Housing Units have been conducting disruptive cell checks every 30 minutes around the clock for three months, causing prisoners widespread sleep disruption. The process is loud and according to prisoners, "the method and noise from the checks is torture."

Attorneys representing Pelican Bay SHU prisoners have just completed extensive interviews with prisoners who demand that "the every 30-minute checks have to be stopped or people are going to get sick or worse." In addition, they report that regular prison programs have been negatively impacted.

"To sleep is a fundamental human right," said Anne Weills, a member of the prisoners' legal team and one of the attorneys who conducted the interviews with prisoners in Pelican Bay. "To take away such a basic human right amounts to severe torture, adding to the already torturous conditions of being in solitary confinement."

Most prisoners report low energy, exhaustion and fatigue. Most state that they have trouble concentrating. They try to read, but they nod off and/or can't remember what they have read. Their writing is much slower ("I can't think to write"), and describe the constant welfare checks as having a negative impact on their mental state.

While this recent attorney survey was specifically focusing on sleep deprivation and its effects, prisoners volunteered information about the negative impact of these frequent checks: yard policy and practice has reduced access to recreation, access to showers has been reduced, programs and meals are being delayed, and property for those newly transferred to Pelican Bay is still being delayed and withheld.

Sleep deprivation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Prisoners and their attorneys are demanding that these checks be halted.


Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org




Sign the Petition:


Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:

Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt. Eighty-six percent of that money is owed to the United States government. This is a crushing burden for more than 40 million Americans and their families.

I urge you to take immediate action to forgive all student debt, public and private.

American Federation of Teachers

Campaign for America's Future

Courage Campaign

Daily Kos

Democracy for America


Project Springboard

RH Reality Check


Student Debt Crisis

The Nation

Working Families



Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

Dear Supporters and Friends,

Show your support for Lorenzo by wearing one of our beautiful new campaign t-shirts! If you donate $20 (or more!) to the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson, we will send you a t-shirt, while supplies last. Make sure to note your size and shipping address in the comment section on PayPal, or to include this information with a check.

Here is a message from Lorenzo's wife, Tazza Salvatto:

My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

Lorenzo Johnson is a son, husband, father and brother. His injustice has been a continued nightmare for our family. Words cant explain our constant pain, I wish it on no one. Not even the people responsible for his injustice. 

This is about an innocent man who has spent 20 years and counting in prison. The sad thing is Lorenzo's prosecution knew he was innocent from day one. These are the same people society relies on to protect us.

Not only have these prosecutors withheld evidence of my husbands innocence by NEVER turning over crucial evidence to his defense prior to trial. Now that Lorenzo's innocence has been revealed, the prosecution refuses to do the right thing. Instead they are "slow walking" his appeal and continuing their malicious prosecution.

When my husband or our family speak out about his injustice, he's labeled by his prosecutor as defaming a career cop and prosecutor. If they are responsible for Lorenzo's wrongful conviction, why keep it a secret??? This type of corruption and bullying of families of innocent prisoners to remain silent will not be tolerated.

Our family is not looking for any form of leniency. Lorenzo is innocent, we want what is owed to him. JUSTICE AND HIS IMMEDIATE FREEDOM!!! 

                          Lorenzo's wife,

                           Tazza Salvatto

Lorenzo is continuing to fight for his freedom with the support of his lead counsel, Michael Wiseman, The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, and the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson.

Thank you all for reading this message and please take the time to visit our website and contribute to Lorenzo's campaign for freedom!

Write: Lorenzo Johnson

            DF 1036

            SCI Mahanoy

            301 Morea Rd.

            Frackville, PA 17932

 Email: Through JPay using the code:

              Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


              Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


              Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

Have a wonderful day!

- The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

Write: Lorenzo Johnson

            DF 1036

            SCI Mahanoy

            301 Morea Rd.

            Frackville, PA 17932

 Email: Through JPay using the code:

              Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


              Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com




Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser



Today is the 406th day that Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan

languishes in prison doing felony time for a misdemeanor crime he did not

commit. Today is also the day that Robert McKay, a spokesperson for the

Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations

representatives about the plight of Rev. Pinkney at a hearing held in

Chicago. The hearing was called in order to shed light upon the

mistreatment of African-Americans in the United States and put it on an

international stage. And yet as the UN representatives and audience heard

of the injustices in the Pinkney case many gasped in disbelief and asked

with frowns on their faces, "how is this possible?" But disbelief quickly

disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had

when they first heard of Flint and we all know what happened in Flint. FREE


Please send letters to:

Marquette Branch Prison

Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671

1960 US Hwy 41 South

Marquette, MI 49855

Please donate at http://bhbanco.org (Donate button) or send checks to BANCO:

c/o Dorothy Pinkney

1940 Union St.

Benton Harbor, MI 49022


On December 15, 2014 the Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan was thrown into prison for 2.5 to 10 years. This 66-year-old leading African American activist was tried and convicted in front of an all-white jury and racist white judge and prosecutor for supposedly altering 5 dates on a recall petition against the mayor of Benton Harbor.

The prosecutor, with the judge's approval, repeatedly told the jury "you don't need evidence to convict Mr. Pinkney." And ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE WAS EVER PRESENTED THAT TIED REV. PINKNEY TO THE 'ALTERED' PETITIONS. Rev. Pinkney was immediately led away in handcuffs and thrown into Jackson Prison.

This is an outrageous charge. It is an outrageous conviction. It is an even more outrageous sentence! It must be appealed.

With your help supporters need to raise $20,000 for Rev. Pinkney's appeal.

Checks can be made out to BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization). This is the organization founded by Rev. Pinkney.  Mail them to: Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022.

Donations can be accepted on-line at bhbanco.org – press the donate button.

For information on the decade long campaign to destroy Rev. Pinkney go to bhbanco.org and workers.org(search "Pinkney").

We urge your support to the efforts to Free Rev. Pinkney!Ramsey Clark – Former U.S. attorney general,

Cynthia McKinney – Former member of U.S. Congress,

Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney

Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,

Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<

Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,

David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice

Sara Flounders – International Action Center


I am now in Marquette prison over 15 hours from wife and family, sitting in prison for a crime that was never committed. Judge Schrock and Mike Sepic both admitted there was no evidence against me but now I sit in prison facing 30 months. Schrock actually stated that he wanted to make an example out of me. (to scare Benton Harbor residents even more...) ONLY IN AMERICA. I now have an army to help fight Berrien County. When I arrived at Jackson state prison on Dec. 15, I met several hundred people from Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. Some people recognized me. There was an outstanding amount of support given by the prison inmates. When I was transported to Marquette Prison it took 2 days. The prisoners knew who I was. One of the guards looked me up on the internet and said, "who would believe Berrien County is this racist."

Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney

Michigan political prisoner the Rev. Edward Pinkney is a victim of racist injustice. He was sentenced to 30 months to 10 years for supposedly changing the dates on 5 signatures on a petition to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower.

No material or circumstantial evidence was presented at the trial that would implicate Pinkney in the purported5 felonies. Many believe that Pinkney, a Berrien County activist and leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), is being punished by local authorities for opposing the corporate plans of Whirlpool Corp, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

In 2012, Pinkney and BANCO led an "Occupy the PGA [Professional Golfers' Association of America]" demonstration against a world-renowned golf tournament held at the newly created Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The course was carved out of Jean Klock Park, which had been donated to the city of Benton Harbor decades ago.

Berrien County officials were determined to defeat the recall campaign against Mayor Hightower, who opposed a program that would have taxed local corporations in order to create jobs and improve conditions in Benton Harbor, a majority African-American municipality. Like other Michigan cities, it has been devastated by widespread poverty and unemployment.

The Benton Harbor corporate power structure has used similar fraudulent charges to stop past efforts to recall or vote out of office the racist white officials, from mayor, judges, prosecutors in a majority Black city. Rev Pinkney who always quotes scripture, as many Christian ministers do, was even convicted for quoting scripture in a newspaper column. This outrageous conviction was overturned on appeal. We must do this again!

To sign the petition in support of the Rev. Edward Pinkney, log on to: tinyurl.com/ps4lwyn.

Contributions for Rev. Pinkney's defense can be sent to BANCO at Mrs Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Or you can donate on-line at bhbanco.org.





New Action--write letters to DoD officials requesting clemency for Chelsea!

Secretary of the Army John McHugh

President Obama has delegated review of Chelsea Manning's clemency appeal to individuals within the Department of Defense.

Please write them to express your support for heroic WikiLeaks' whistle-blower former US Army intelligence analyst PFC Chelsea Manning's release from military prison.

It is important that each of these authorities realize the wide support that Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning enjoys worldwide. They need to be reminded that millions understand that Manning is a political prisoner, imprisoned for following her conscience. While it is highly unlikely that any of these individuals would independently move to release Manning, a reduction in Manning's outrageous 35-year prison sentence is a possibility at this stage.

Take action TODAY – Write letters supporting Chelsea's clemency petition to the following DoD authorities:

Secretary of the Army John McHugh

101 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0101

The Judge Advocate General

2200 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-2200

Army Clemency and Parole Board

251 18th St, Suite 385

Arlington, VA 22202-3532

Directorate of Inmate Administration

Attn: Boards Branch

U.S. Disciplinary Barracks

1301 N. Warehouse Road

Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304

Suggestions for letters send to DoD officials:

The letter should focus on your support for Chelsea Manning, and especially why you believe justice will be served if Chelsea Manning's sentence is reduced.  The letter should NOT be anti-military as this will be unlikely to help.

A suggested message: "Chelsea Manning has been punished enough for violating military regulations in the course of being true to her conscience.  I urge you to use your authorityto reduce Pvt. Manning's sentence to time served."  Beyond that general message, feel free to personalize the details as to why you believe Chelsea deserves clemency.

Consider composing your letter on personalized letterhead -you can create this yourself (here are templates and some tips for doing that).

A comment on this post will NOT be seen by DoD authorities–please send your letters to the addresses above

This clemency petition is separate from Chelsea Manning's upcoming appeal before the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals next year, where Manning's new attorney Nancy Hollander will have an opportunity to highlight the prosecution's—and the trial judge's—misconduct during last year's trial at Ft. Meade, Maryland.

Help us continue to cover 100% of Chelsea's legal fees at this critical stage!

Courage to Resist

484 Lake Park Ave. #41

Oakland, CA 94610












1)  Chinese Parents Outraged After Illnesses at School Are Tied to Pollution

BEIJING — Chinese families were in an uproar on Monday after a report in the state news media revealed that nearly 500 students at a school in eastern China had developed illnesses, a few as severe as leukemia, possibly because of pollution at a nearby field.

Students and parents at the Changzhou Foreign Languages School had complained since December about pollution in the area, after dozens of children came down with rashes and nosebleeds and a foul stench surrounded the school. But local officials dismissed their concerns, saying that the air, soil and groundwater met national standards.

On Sunday, the government's powerful national broadcaster, China Central Television, aired a scathing report documenting the illnesses and finding that toxins in the soil and water far exceeded national limits.

The publication of the report suggested that China's leaders were taking a more aggressive stance toward chemical companies at a time when public anger over environmental pollution is mounting, especially in the aftermath of a high-profile chemical disaster last year that killed 165 people in the port city of Tianjin.

But the incident also underscored the serious gaps that exist in China's oversight of hazardous materials. While China has made strides in publicizing air and groundwater pollution data in recent years, it still does not provide data on local soil pollution or require companies to publicly list which substances they discharge as waste, a departure from international standards.

Ma Jun, a prominent environmentalist, said the government's efforts to investigate egregious cases of pollution was a promising step. But he said China still had much more to do to rein in the powerful chemical industry.

"It's very important for the central government to weigh in on this case," Mr. Ma said. "I just hope that we won't stop at these individual cases. We need a comprehensive review."

In a statement, Greenpeace said the incident showed that China's management of hazardous chemicals was "dangerously lax."

On social media and in coffee shops on Monday, Chinese people expressed deep concern about the case. On Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, a page related to the case had drawn more than 30 million views by Monday evening.

Some people drew comparisons to the mismanagement that had led to the blasts in Tianjin last year; others said they were planning to press their children's schools to conduct tests of soil and water, just to be safe.

In Beijing, the central government promised an investigation. In a statement, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said it "attached great importance to the matter."

The Changzhou city government said in a statement it had "zero tolerance" for pollution and was taking prompt action.

The case of the Changzhou Foreign Languages School received an unusual amount of attention from the Chinese news media, given tight government controls on what can be reported. Chemical companies, which are major drivers of economic growth and contribute heavily to local government revenues, are often shrouded from criticism.

In a series of investigative reports published over the past few months, Caixin, a well-known magazine, and The Paper, a Chinese news site, took aim at officials at the Changzhou Foreign Languages School, one of the most prestigious schools in the area, and the companies that appeared to have caused the pollution.

The school, which has about 2,400 students, opened a new 153-acre campus last fall near the site of several former pesticide plants, including Jiangsu Changlong Chemicals Company, which is a subsidiary of one of China's largest pesticide makers, Shenzhen Noposion Agrochemicals Company.

The reports by Caixin documented how environmental officials had initially deemed the area near the school unfit for construction. Still, the school went forward with the project and later played down the concerns of parents and students who complained about coughs, headaches and rashes.

The Caixin report also quoted former employees of Jiangsu Changlong Chemicals, who said the company had buried toxic waste at the site before it relocated in 2010. The site contained perilous amounts of heavy metals and chemicals. Groundwater samples showed that the amount of chlorobenzene, which is used to make herbicides and can damage the nervous system, liver and kidneys, exceeded the national standard by more than 94,000 times, according to Chinese news reports.

On Sunday, the case gained national prominence when China Central Television aired a nearly 13-minute report on pollution at the school. Of the 641 students who were examined by doctors, 493 were determined to have illnesses, CCTV reported. The illnesses included dermatitis, bronchitis and white blood cell deficiencies, as well as a few cases of lymphoma and leukemia.

The report quoted parents and students who described contaminated water and a smell in the air like rotten duck eggs.

"The water is strange and tastes a bit sour," a mother of a student at the school said in the report.

"I have leg cramps, pimples, and the skin on my hand is flaky," a 12-year-old student said.

Mr. Ma, the environmentalist, said the fierce public reaction was a sign of increasing awareness among Chinese people about the hazards of environmental pollution, largely because of the growing popularity of social media. He said it would become increasingly difficult for polluters to escape public scrutiny.

"The old days of being sheltered from public hate have passed," he said. "It's time for the industry, especially the chemical industry, to really recognize the fundamental change that is happening."



2)  Civilian Casualties in Afghan War Are Unabated in 2016

KABUL, Afghanistan — With nearly 2,000 civilians killed or wounded and more than 80,000 people displaced this year already, the Afghan conflict continues to affect lives in record numbers, the United Nations said on Sunday.

The report came as fighting raged across several provinces. For a third day, government forces repelled Taliban attacks across several districts of Kunduz and were trying to prevent the insurgents from taking the provincial capital, as they did in the fall.

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan documented 600 civilian deaths and 1,343 wounded in the first three months of 2016, which by most accounts is expected to be a bloody year as the Taliban rejected the latest efforts to bring them to peace talks. While the death toll fell 13 percent from the same period last year, the number of wounded increased 11 percent, the report said, with a high rise among children.

"In the first quarter of 2016, almost one-third of civilian casualties were children," said Danielle Bell, the United Nations human rights director in Afghanistan. "If the fighting persists near schools, playgrounds, homes and clinics, and parties continue to use explosive weapons in those areas — particularly mortars and I.E.D. tactics — these appalling numbers of children killed and maimed will continue."

The report blamed the insurgents for 60 percent of the casualties, and forces on the government side for 19 percent.

Though the Taliban were still at fault more often, the report noted that deaths caused by pro-government forces were up sharply from last year — roughly 70 percent higher over the same period. The deaths caused by government forces, put at 127 over the first three months of this year, were mostly caused by explosive weapons, including mortars, rockets and grenades, the report said.

The United Nations also expressed concern at the increase of civilian casualties in airstrikes by the Afghan government and the United States-led NATO coalition.

The spread of fighting also continues to displace people at record levels, with 81,445 individuals forced from their homes in the first three months of the year, according to figures from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The agency recorded internal displacement caused by violence across 23 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces in the first quarter of 2016. The northeastern province of Baghlan, where Taliban attacks have increased, was at the top of the chart, with 25,000 people displaced. A combined total of more than 20,000 people were displaced in the southern provinces of Oruzgan and Helmand.

In Kunduz, where over 6,000 people have been displaced this year, officials on Sunday reported continued fighting across at least four districts surrounding the provincial capital, Kunduz City. Six dead bodies and 109 people who were wounded, almost all of them civilians, had been taken to Kunduz hospitals in the past two days, said Sayed Mukhtar, the province's director of health.

After initial panic on Friday that the insurgents were at the city gates again, the threat now seemed contained, officials said.

Gen. Qasim Jangalbagh, the province's police chief, said the city's eastern gate had not seen any attacks since the insurgent commander there and six fighters were killed Saturday night.



3)  On Crime Bill and the Clintons, Young Blacks Clash With Parents

Rufus Farmer, 33, was tired of all the ways he saw black men being mistreated by the nation's law enforcement system — from the police officer who once berated him for crossing the street to the mandatory prison sentences that sent so many of his peers away.

So when former President Bill Clinton appeared on April 7 in Philadelphia at a rally for his wife, Hillary, Mr. Farmer protested, carrying a sign denouncing Mr. Clinton's 1994 crime bill, which set lengthy prison sentences and flooded the streets with police officers.

fiery exchange broke out between the activists and the former president as Mr. Clinton forcefully defended the legislation. But it was not just Mr. Clinton who criticized the young protesters. Afterward, some older African-Americans did, too.

"I think it is crazy to protest the crime bill," said Caryl Brock, 53, a social worker from the Bronx, who scolded the protesters on social media. "Should it be amended? Maybe. But a lot of people really wanted it. I really wanted it."

Young and energized African-Americans this election cycle are aggressively challenging longstanding ideas and policies, especially those carried out during the Clinton administration in areas like crime and welfare. But the activism is also laying bare a striking generation gap between younger and older African-Americans, whose experience, views of the former president and notions of how they should push for change diverge dramatically.

The parents and grandparents of today's young black protesters largely waged the battle for civil rights in courtrooms and churches. They carefully chose people who were viewed as upstanding citizens, like Rosa Parks, to be the face of their movement, and dressed in their Sunday best as they sought to gain broader acceptance. Mr. Clinton endeared himself to these generations by campaigning in black churches and appointing more blacks to the cabinet than any previous president had.

But many of today's activists — whose political consciousness has been shaped by the high-profile killings of black people by the police — do not believe that acting respectfully will protect them from being harassed or shot. They aspire not to become a part of the political system, but to upend it.

"You do have older generations of church folk who believe that marching and singing is the best way to bring about change," Mr. Farmer said. "We'll march, too, but we'll do what we need to do to communicate our message, if it happens to be yelling, or blocking an intersection. And we don't care if people — particularly white people — believe it is respectable."

The gulf between young black people and their elders surfaced repeatedly in more than two dozen interviews conducted in the days after Mr. Clinton's clash with the protesters.

To young activists like Mr. Farmer, Mr. Clinton's legacy on crime is paternalistic and damaging. But many older black voters who raised families during the crack epidemic — an era many young people do not remember — remain steadfastly loyal to the Clintons.

Ms. Brock said she had been a social worker in charge of the removal of children from dangerous homes in the South Bronx and Spanish Harlem in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when crack tore a path of destruction through those neighborhoods.

"I saw it all," Ms. Brock said. "Moms would give birth and leave the hospital to get a hit. My car got broken into every week. People were scared to walk down to the bodega, afraid they'd be followed and robbed."

She said she was relieved when the crime bill passed. In addition to providing more money for prisons and the police, the law banned assault weapons and offered funding for drug courts and rehabilitation.

"Because of the crime bill," she said, "anybody that wanted rehabilitation, we could process them and get them a detox bed in a hospital."

Ms. Brock's comments underscore a sometimes overlooked reality in today's re-examination of the crime bill: The legislation was broadly embraced by nonwhite voters, more enthusiastically even than by white voters. About 58 percent of nonwhites supported it in 1994, according to a Gallup poll, compared with 49 percent of white voters.

Mr. Clinton has seemed rattled at times as he tries to defend the measure to younger African-Americans in an era in which concerns about mistreatment by the police and mass incarceration have eclipsed the fear of crime in many black communities.

And among these younger voters, the Clintons lack the deep admiration that they enjoy from previous generations of African-Americans. In the Democratic primary contests so far, 92 percent of black voters 65 and older cast ballots for Mrs. Clinton, compared with 45 percent of black voters under age 25, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research.

Some middle-aged and older African-Americans found themselves siding with Mr. Clinton after his confrontation with the protesters in Philadelphia, which was widely broadcast on television and social media. During the exchange, Mr. Clinton said that the legislation targeted gang leaders "who got 13-year-old children hopped up on crack and sent them out the street to murder other African-American children."

He then lectured the activists, who support the Black Lives Matter movement: "You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter."

Roz Rodgers, 55, a community engagement worker from East St. Louis, Ill., said she understood what Mr. Clinton was trying to get across.

"All black lives should always matter — that is what Bill Clinton was saying," Ms. Rodgers said. "It bothered me, the reaction he got."

About the activists, she said: "This younger generation is more vocal. They are not accepting the rules, regulations and expectations that exist."

Today's angry demonstrations over Clinton-era policies make it easy to forget how the former president was hailed two decades ago for taking a stand against gun violence in black communities.

An emotional, unscripted speech Mr. Clinton gave in 1993 about the toll of violence on black youth has been called one the best of his presidency. He delivered it from the pulpit of the church in Memphis where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached his last sermon.

"The other day on the front page of The Washington Post was a story about an 11-year-old child planning her funeral," Mr. Clinton told the congregation that day, 10 months before he signed the crime bill.

"The freedom to die before you're a teenager is not what Martin Luther King lived and died for."

Black churchgoers gave him sustained applause and named him an honorary member of their congregation. A columnist in The Washington Post said the speech "embodied what has always been the promise of Clintonism." "Only Clinton could say it, and only now," read a column in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Willie W. Herenton, the first African-American mayor of Memphis, was in the church that day.

"It's easy for people to lose the connection of where we were in 1994 and where we are today," Mr. Herenton said.

The national murder rate hit a high in the early 1990s, disproportionately affecting African-American neighborhoods in major cities. Today, violent crime is down and mistreatment by the police and excessive incarceration have taken center stage in the minds of many younger voters.

In 2013, nearly one-quarter of black men 18 to 34 reported being treated unfairly by the police in the previous 30 days, according to a Gallup survey. That has stirred anger among some young black people, which has crystallized in resentment of the Clintons in this election cycle.

Charli Cleland, 24, a third-year student at Brooklyn Law School, said he planned to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders, even though his family has always admired the Clintons.

"Growing up, there was always this idea that Bill Clinton was a man for people of color," he said. "Then this political year comes around, and there is so much being exposed as to what they have said in the past and what kind of bills they have approved in the past. I'm realizing that it's actually against everything that I initially thought about the Clintons."

When he watched the exchange in Philadelphia, Mr. Cleland said he viewed Mr. Clinton and his remarks as "paternalistic" and "implicitly racist."

The interviews with the younger voters reveal a pattern: Not only are they distrustful of the Clintons, but they also appear disillusioned with politics and institutions in a way their parents are not. And they are less interested in gaining approval, especially from white people.

"We do not believe that freedom for black Americans will come through politicians," said Erica Mines, an activist in Philadelphia who demonstrated at Mr. Clinton's speech alongside Mr. Farmer. "We can no longer rely on the ballot box for our freedom."

Older generations fought for civil rights "to be accepted into mainstream society," she said. "But younger folks are saying, 'I'm not going to fit into that box anymore, or allow society to tell me what I need to be.'"

Mr. Farmer said his mother, who put her faith in the ballot box, the church pulpit and the Clintons, initially found it hard to understand his brand of activism.

"She just thinks in a way that is popular of a generation. Go in peace. March. Sing a hymn or two. Don't do any fighting. Don't do too much yelling," said Mr. Farmer, a former Marine.

Mr. Farmer and Ms. Mines joined a group called the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice, which believes that only disruptive, direct action can bring about change. On Thursday, members of the group blocked an intersection to push for a $15 minimum wage and other measures. Both he and Ms. Mines were arrested.

Mr. Farmer says his mother's views are changing as she watches his experience.

"I was locked up for about 27 hours," he said. "She was at the precinct when I came out. She gave the police an earful."

And, in perhaps a more surprising shift, after hearing what Mr. Clinton said in Philadelphia, his mother has decided not to vote for Mrs. Clinton for president, Mr. Farmer said.

"She was a Clinton fan," he said. "She would have voted Clinton automatically."

Continue reading the main story*---------*---------*---------*---------*---------*---------*



4)  Overtime Pay: A Lifeline for the Overworked American

"...According to the Economic Policy Institute, it would give 13.5 million more workers a new or stronger right to overtime pay — substantially increasing both middle-class incomes and employment. It's not as high as the $69,000 threshold it would take to return to 1975 levels..."

THIS summer the Department of Labor is expected to introduce new rules to restore overtime pay to millions of Americans — rules that require no congressional approval. From the fearful protests coming from Republican leadership, you'd think the sky was falling. "This mandate on employers will hurt the lowest paid American workers the most, by reducing their opportunities for a promotion or a better job," said Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

In fact, far from the right's end-of-the-world, Chicken-Little economics, restoring time-and-a-half overtime pay would return to American workers a protection they long had, one that made them more secure and productive.

Half a century ago, overtime pay was the norm, with more than 60 percent of salaried employees qualifying. These are largely the sorts of office- and service-sector workers who never enjoyed the protection of union membership. But over the last 40 years the threshold has been allowed to steadily erode, so that only about 8 percent qualify today. If you feel as if you're working longer hours for less money than your parents did, it's probably because you are.

Today, if you're salaried and earn more than $23,600 dollars a year, you don't automatically qualify for overtime: That means every extra hour you work, you work free. Under the new proposed rules, everyone earning a salary of $50,440 a year or less would be eligible to collect time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, it would give 13.5 million more workers a new or stronger right to overtime pay — substantially increasing both middle-class incomes and employment. It's not as high as the $69,000 threshold it would take to return to 1975 levels, after adjusting for inflation, but it's a courageous step in the right direction. It's like a minimum wage hike for the middle class.

Everybody knows Americans are overworked. A 2014 Gallup poll found that salaried Americans now report working an average of 47 hours a week — not the supposedly standard 40 — while 18 percent report working more than 60 hours. And yet overtime pay has become such a rarity that many Americans don't even realize that a majority of salaried workers were once eligible.

In a cruel twist, the longer and harder we work for the same wage, the fewer jobs there are for others, the higher unemployment goes and the more we weaken our own bargaining power. That helps explain why over the last 30 years, corporate profits have doubled from about 6 percent of gross domestic product to about 12 percent, while wages have fallen by almost exactly the same amount. The erosion of overtime and other labor protections is one of the main factors leading to worsening inequality. But a higher threshold would help reverse this trend.

Under the restored salary threshold, employers would have a choice: They could either pay you time-and-a-half for your extra hours worked, or they could hire more workers at the standard rate to fill your previously unpaid hours. The former would grow your paycheck. The latter would increase your leisure time while directly adding more jobs to the economy. Either would be great for workers and great for economic growth.

Lower- and middle-income workers don't stash their earnings in offshore accounts the way high-paid chief executives do — the more the typical worker is paid, the more she spends on goods and services. When workers have more money, businesses have more customers; and when businesses have more customers, they hire more workers.

Whether through an increase in consumer demand or a reduction in unpaid hours, a higher overtime threshold would increase total employment, tightening the labor market and driving up real wages for the first time since the late 1990s.

Senate Republicans have introduced legislation to block the Department of Labor from implementing the new rule, arguing that it would hurt workers and employers. True, some businesses predicated on low wages and abusive scheduling practices may struggle to adapt. But the great thing about capitalism is that where one entrepreneur fails, another quickly figures out how to fill his niche. Adapting to new challenges is what successful businesspeople do.

When it comes to labor standards, Senator Alexander and his Republican colleagues always sing the same old trickle-down tune: If wages go up, jobs must go down. Yet it never turns out to be true. And trickle-down economics looks more like Chicken Little economics with every passing day.



5)  500 Migrants May Have Died in Sinking of Boat in Mediterranean, U.N. Says

The United Nations refugee agency said on Wednesday that 500 people may have died in the choppy waters of the Mediterranean last week, when a large boat packed with migrants from Africa and the Middle East capsized in an unknown location between Libya and Italy.

If confirmed, it would be the worst humanitarian calamity in Europe's migrant crisis since more than 800 people died last April near Libyan shores as they tried to reach Italy.

The agency based its findings on interviews with 41 survivors of the shipwreck, although it was not able to verify the episode independently. The migrants — 23 Somalis, 11 Ethiopians, six Egyptians and a Sudanese — were picked up by a merchant ship near Greece on April 16 after days of drifting at sea. They were transferred to a migrant camp in Kalamata, a city on the Greek mainland.

Their stories helped lift a cloud of confusion about the episode ever since rumors of the sinking emerged over the weekend. But they did not resolve the questions of where the ship went down or what the ultimate death toll may be. No national coast guards have reported finding the boat.

If accurate, however, the testimonies suggest that human smugglers are operating as aggressively as ever on the Mediterranean route even as a recent European Union deal with Turkey has stemmed the flow across the Aegean Sea.

And while there is no indication that Syrians and others who had been trying to reach Greece are now employing different routes, it is clear that Africans and others remain willing to risk everything to flee repression, poverty and war.

A deal that went into effect on March 20 to deport migrants reaching Greece from Turkey has reduced the number of people coming over the Aegean, a perilous voyage that killed around 800 last year. But the policy appears to have prompted smugglers to return to previously abandoned dangerous routes through Libya to Italy — the same path used by the 800 migrants who drowned in an overloaded boat a year ago.

According to the survivors in Kalamata, a similar situation unfolded late last week, although the exact date was not clear, said William Spindler, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Smugglers had arranged for a so-called mother ship to leave the Libyan coast and head toward Italy, loaded with "hundreds of people in terribly overcrowded conditions."

Soon afterward, a second boat about 30 yards long set off from near Tobruk, Libya, with between 100 and 200 people aboard. After several hours, it neared the larger ship, which was waiting somewhere off shore.

The smugglers began unloading migrants from the smaller boat onto the larger ship, the survivors told United Nations workers. As people boarded the big boat, it began to list. Then it capsized, spilling passengers into the sea, where most of them drowned amid a panicked frenzy. The survivors included people who had not yet left the smaller vessel, and a handful who managed to swim to it as the larger ship went down.

"I could see the bigger boat sinking," Liban Qadar Jama, a native of Somaliland, was quoted as telling the Voice of America's Somali Service this week. "We ran with the small boat we were in, as some migrants from the sunk boat desperately swam toward us. We could only save four of them," he told the V.O.A.

In a statement, the refugee agency called for "increased regular pathways for the admission of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe" to "reduce the demand for people-smuggling and dangerous irregular sea journeys."

Reports of the sinking emerged over the weekend on Facebook and social media from Somalia. Somalia's ambassador to Egypt then told BBC Arabic, based on the social media reports, that more than 400 migrants were thought to have drowned.

Yet as the stories began to circulate, no one seemed to be able to confirm what had happened, and conflicting narratives have emerged about whether the mass sinking had occurred at all. Social media posts referred to migrant boats running from Egypt to Italy as being caught up in the disaster, although the United Nations said survivors did not confirm that in their accounts.

The Somali government issued a statement on Monday stating that 200 to 300 Somalis, including numerous teenagers, appeared to have drowned. But the Greek Coast Guard and the Italian and Maltese rescue authorities denied knowledge of the episode.

The International Organization for Migration said on Monday that it could not confirm any news of any deaths or shipwrecks, and the Egyptian Coast Guard and Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, said they had heard the news from the media and had no knowledge of any boats leaving Alexandria recently.

"There is so much pressure. You have a boat rescuing people in Libya, a boat arriving elsewhere and another sinking in Greece," said Muhammad Al Kashef, an Egyptian activist working with refugees and migrants in Alexandria. "It just makes it very hard to document things."

In fact, after nearly 13 hours of calls to Somali activists and community leaders in and out of Egypt, Mr. Kashef said what he was able to ascertain was only that "an unspecified number of people have drowned somewhere near Greece having left from Egypt" Monday morning.

"They told me they received calls from the survivors of Monday's shipwreck in Greece saying their relatives died," he added.

As the rumors spread, European officials rushed to make statements. President Sergio Mattarella of Italy said in Rome on Monday that Europe was looking at "yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean in which, it seems, several hundred people have died."



6)  Flint Water Crisis Yields First Criminal Charges

APRIL 20, 2016


FLINT, Mich. — Three government workers were charged with crimes on Wednesday for their roles in this city's water crisis, accused in part of covering up evidence of lead contamination.

The workers — an employee of Flint and two state workers assigned to monitor water quality in cities — are the first to face criminal charges in connection with the failures that left residents of this city drinking foul and unsafe water for many months.

In announcing the charges, some of which are felonies carrying penalties of as much as five years in prison, Bill Schuette, the Michigan attorney general, answered skeptics in Flint and elsewhere who had openly doubted that anyone would ever be held accountable for the health crisis here.

Emails and other documents have shown a cascading series of failures at every level of government — local, state and federal — and Mr. Schuette, a Republican who is widely seen as a possible candidate for governor in 2018, emphasized that his investigation, begun in January, was far from over.

"These charges are only the beginning," Mr. Schuette said. "There will be more to come — that I can guarantee you."

The charges against the three defendants — Michael Prysby, a district engineer with the State Department of Environmental Quality; Stephen Busch, a district supervisor in the same department; and Michael Glasgow, the city's utilities manager — included tampering with evidence contained in reports on lead levels in city water, and the two state officials were also charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

Mr. Prysby and Mr. Busch were arraigned later on Wednesday, court records show. Lawyers for the three men could not be reached for comment.

Among other things, the workers were accused of distorting the results by directing residents to run their water before it was tested and failing to collect samples from some houses they were required to test. That had the effect of making the levels of lead in the water supply appear far less dangerous than they were, and falsely reassured officials who could have intervened months earlier, as well as residents, that the water was safe.

Continue reading the main storyAmong other things, the workers were accused of distorting the results by directing residents to run their water before it was tested and failing to collect samples from some houses they were required to test. That had the effect of making the levels of lead in the water supply appear far less dangerous than they were, and falsely reassured officials who could have intervened months earlier, as well as residents, that the water was safe.

The disaster has left Flint residents fearful about the lasting effects of lead on the city's youngest children, distrustful of the promises of the authorities and reliant on filters and bottled water. Some have questioned whether this economically distressed, majority black city of fewer than 100,000 residents will ever get justice. The charges against relatively low-level officials were being viewed as a promising initial step, but by no means a final answer.

"We want the complete story," Karen Weaver, the recently elected mayor of Flint, said after listening to details of the charges from the front row of a news conference with prosecutors and investigators here. "This is the start to that."

Some residents pointedly alluded to Gov. Rick Snyder. Asked whether Mr. Snyder would face charges, Mr. Schuette said, "There's no target, and no one's off the table."

Ellis Stafford, a Flint native and an investigator on the team Mr. Schuette assigned to investigate what happened in Flint, choked up as he addressed the failed water system — and the broken trust in government that has come from it.

"It really hurts," he said. "I have friends, personal close friends. They live here. They look at me and they wonder if there's any truth to this investigation. I hope I gave them some."

He went on to say, "I told one of my friends, 'You might not believe in government or the state, but believe in me.'"

The three men face a total of 13 charges, a mix of felonies and misdemeanors. The state workers have been suspended without pay, Mr. Snyder said late Wednesday. Mr. Glasgow has been placed on administrative leave, Ms. Weaver said.

The charges are linked to the handling of a change in the city's water supply two years ago and to the aftermath of that change, including a failure to add chemicals that reduce corrosion inside pipes. The resulting problems led to Flint residents' exposure to water contaminated with lead and possibly linked to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaire's disease.

David M. Uhlmann, who was chief of the environmental crimes section at the Justice Department from 2000 to 2007, and who is a law professor at the University of Michigan, said such charges were rare.

"It's extremely unusual and maybe unprecedented for state and local officials to be charged with criminal drinking water violations," he said.

Mr. Busch and Mr. Prysby, the state officials, were charged with misconduct in office, a felony, for "willfully and knowingly misleading" the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Genesee County Health Department about dangers posed by the water.

Mr. Prysby was also charged with misconduct in office for authorizing use of the Flint plant, "knowing that the Flint water treatment plant was deficient in its ability to provide clean and safe drinking water." Each of those charges carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Each of the tampering charges is a felony punishable by up to four years and $10,000.

Mr. Prysby and Mr. Busch each face two misdemeanor charges of violating the state's Safe Drinking Water Act by failing to order anticorrosion treatment of the water, and for telling residents to run, or "preflush," their taps before samples were taken for lead testing, creating misleadingly low readings. Each count carries a penalty of up to a year in prison, and a fine of up to $5,000 for each day of violation.

Mr. Glasgow also faces a misdemeanor charge of willful neglect of duty, with a maximum sentence of a year and a $1,000 fine.

At times, Mr. Glasgow has been seen as someone who tried to warn officials about his concerns over the water. Not long before Flint switched to a new water supply in 2014, Mr. Glasgow warned state officials that he believed the city was not fully ready to make the change and suggested, in an email released as part of thousands of emails made public since the crisis began, that "people above" him were pushing to move too quickly.

Mr. Snyder, a Republican who has apologized repeatedly for what happened in Flint but has also indicated that staff members failed for months to tell him about the gravity and dangers of the mounting situation, has faced the most intense criticism of his two terms over the issue, as well as calls for his resignation or recall.

The city had switched to the troubled water system while under the control of an emergency financial manager, appointed by the governor to sort out Flint's fiscal troubles. Last month, a panel appointed by the governor assigned most of the blame to state officials, citing "government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction and environmental injustice."

Mr. Snyder, who announced this week that he would drink Flint water for a month, said at a news conference on Wednesday that the charges were "deeply troubling and extremely serious."

He said he had not yet been interviewed by the attorney general's team, but that his office was cooperating with the investigation. Asked whether he believed he had committed a crime, Mr. Snyder said, "I don't believe so."

Along the streets here on Wednesday, some people questioned why Mr. Snyder was not being held to answer for the state's failings.

"Somebody knew about this at the top," William McCraw, 64, said as he waited at a bus station in Flint. "They need to round them all up, everyone who knew."

They also wondered aloud how criminal charges could now solve their continuing water and health problems. Researchers from Virginia Tech said recently that while Flint's system was "on the path to recovery," it remained a "high-risk zone for lead in water."

Nicole Woycik, a mother who worries about her 6-year-old son's behavioral changes and wonders about long-term effects the water may have on him, described the criminal charges as "a start." But, she added, "The charges will not bring a lot of closure, because we're affected either way."

Asked whether Flint was now beginning to heal, Ms. Weaver, the mayor, said the criminal charges were "part of getting it healed." The other part, she said, would be securing all of the money Flint needs to replace its aged water system.



7)  New Orleans Police Officers Plead Guilty in Shooting of Civilians

NEW ORLEANS — A legal journey that was set off more than a decade ago with the shooting of unarmed citizens by police officers in the desperate days after Hurricane Katrina wound toward a close on Wednesday when five former officers pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy, obstruction of justice and civil rights charges.

The plea agreements drew prison terms from three to 12 years. Those sentences were significantly shorter than those handed down when the men were convicted five years ago in verdicts that were later thrown out.

But the agreements were supported by the families of the victims and brought some degree of conclusion to a nearly 11-year endeavor that in ways presaged the current struggles over police and accountability in places like Baltimore, Cleveland and Ferguson, Mo.

"Today is the first day of the rest of my life," Sherrel Johnson, the mother of 17-year-old James Brisette, one of the two people who were killed in the shootings, told reporters after the hearing. "Someone confessed 'I did it. I did it.' And that did my heart all the good in the world."

The officers — Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius, Officer Anthony Villavaso and Officer Robert Faulcon, as well as a detective, Arthur Kaufman, who was assigned to investigate the shooting — were initially indicted on state charges in 2007. But from there the case would be undergo years of troubles and reversals, eventually becoming drawn into a scandal in the federal prosecutors' office here that took down the local United States attorney.

The Danziger case was one of several federal prosecutions of police officers for killings in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with 18 current and former officers facing charges at one point. These cases did not find an easy path in the courts; the prosecution of another high-profile police shooting, that of Henry Glover, ended mostly in acquittals.

But the cases did prompt the United States Justice Department to examine the city's police force as a whole, and in 2012, the force was brought under a federally mandated consent decree, a court-administered blueprint for an overhaul of the department's practices. That consent decree remains in place.

"Serving as an officer is one of the most complex and difficult jobs in our society," Kenneth A. Polite Jr., the current United States attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, said at a news conference after the hearing. "At the same time, when individuals ignore their oath of office, and instead violate the civil rights of the public they are sworn to serve, they will be held accountable."

The case began on Sept. 4, 2005, in a city still without order and drowning in floodwaters. Two groups of families and friends, all of them black, were crossing the Danziger bridge in search of food and relatives when police officers rushed to the scene in a Budget rental truck. The officers, responding to a distress call, opened fire with shotguns and AK-47s, sending those on the bridge, all of whom were unarmed, diving and running for cover.

Four people were severely injured — one woman lost part of her arm — and two were killed: James Brisette, and Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old developmentally disabled man who took a shotgun blast in the back.

The state indicted seven officers, but that indictment was dismissed for improprieties involving the grand jury. Six were then charged by federal prosecutors in 2010, and the next year five of them went to trial together. (The case of a retired sergeant, Gerard Dugue, was severed from the others. He is still waiting for a new trial after an earlier mistrial.)

At the federal trial of the five officers, defense lawyers emphasized that the men were rushing to the bridge under the belief — mistaken, as it turned out — that a policeman had been shot, and that under the extreme circumstances of the time, they should not be harshly judged. But prosecution witnesses, including other officers at the scene who had pleaded guilty, said officers had fired without warning and immediately after the shootings began to construct what would become an elaborate cover-up.

All of the men were found guilty and faced sentences of six to 65 years. At their sentencing, however, Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt of Federal District Court delivered a lengthy speech condemning the prosecution for its plea deals and its use of problematic witnesses, and deploring the mandatory minimum sentences he was forced to impose.

Two years later, he threw out the convictions, citing a scandal that had been unfolding in the local United States attorney's office, involving senior prosecutors who had anonymously commented under online articles in the local media about cases on trial. Describing his own investigation into the scandal and his frustration with the Justice Department's internal investigation, Judge Engelhardt insisted that the Danziger case be retried.

His disdain for the Justice Department at the 2011 trial that was still on stark display on Wednesday, when the judge said that the Danziger case "might most be remembered by the jiggery-pokery" of the prosecutors.

A panel of appeals court judges upheld Judge Engelhardt's order for a new trial last year. In recent weeks, the lawyers from the Justice Department withdrew, which Judge Engelhardt deemed necessary for the case to move forward.

Under the terms of Wednesday's deal, the four officers involved in the shooting received sentences ranging from seven to 12 years, with credit for time served. The fifth man, Mr. Kaufman, who was accused in the cover-up, got three years.

"This has been a terrible ordeal for our family, our friends and our community," said Lance Madison, who was arrested — under false pretenses — by officers on the bridge just minutes after one of them shot and killed his younger brother Ronald., "I'm thankful that our mother is still with us and is able to see justice being served, and for these officers to finally be held accountable for their crimes. I hope and pray that no other family ever has to go through what we have gone through."



8)  If Police Stairwell Shooting Was Accidental, Circumstances Around It Were Not

As Akai Gurley left his girlfriend's apartment in a Brooklyn housing project one November night two years ago, he tried to take an elevator to the street, but found that it was broken. Had it been working, Mr. Gurley might never have set foot into the stairwell where he died.

It was the kind of freakish detail that pervaded the case of his killer, the former New York City police officer Peter Liang. Not only was the elevator broken, but the lights in the stairwell were out. And Mr. Liang was a rookie, not even a year out of the Police Academy. Moreover, the shot he fired glanced off a wall, caromed randomly and struck Mr. Gurley in the heart.

The accidental nature of the killing was noted by many on Tuesday when Mr. Liang was sentenced to probation in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, avoiding a prison term in one of the most divisive police misconduct cases in recent city history. Paul Shechtman, a lawyer for Mr. Liang, argued in court that there had never been a manslaughter case in New York in which the allegations were less egregious and the conduct less blameworthy. Ruling that the shooting had been unintentional, Justice Danny K. Chun, who presided over the case, went so far as to reduce the jury's verdict from manslaughter — based on recklessness — to the less severe criminally negligent homicide.

But if the killing of Mr. Gurley was a kind of crime of chance, what of the conditions that preceded and permitted it? Would a private building on the Upper East Side have had an elevator persistently out of service as was the case at the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York? Would the stairwell lights in such a building have been broken? Would armed officers — one of them with his gun drawn — have been on patrol inside?

Now that the case has ended, barring an appeal, a larger question has emerged: If the fatal shooting of Mr. Gurley was indeed an accident embedded in a web of troubling circumstance, what can the city do to prevent something similar from happening again?

In past police misconduct cases, measures have been taken. After Abner Louima was attacked by police officers with a broomstick in a Brooklyn station house in 1997 — an act that the police then tried to cover up — his lawyers successfully sued to end the so-called 48-hour rule, which gave officers two full days before they had to speak with investigators. A few years later, after Amadou Diallo was fatally shot outside his Bronx building, the police disbanded the Street Crime Unit, the aggressive plainclothes troop whose officers committed the killing.

In an article published on Wednesday in The Daily News, Ken Thompson, the Brooklyn district attorney whose office prosecuted Mr. Liang, wrote that he embraced "the nation's urgent conversation" about the criminal-justice system that Mr. Gurley's death had helped to spur. The city, Mr. Thompson added, should "strengthen police-community relations" and examine how offenders were "brought into the system" to begin with.

Some police reform advocates had more specific suggestions.

Robert Gangi, director of the Police Reform Organizing Project, said that searches of housing project stairwells, known as vertical patrols, should be ended or restricted absent actual suspicion that a crime was being committed. Mr. Gangi also said that a prison sentence for Mr. Liang would have sent a message that the city "considers these incidents to be serious and unacceptable."

Alex S. Vitale, a professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, said that he would take a literal approach to the "broken windows" theory of policing, a favorite strategy of the police commissioner, William J. Bratton.

"For too long, the department's emphasis has been on making communities safer through zero-tolerance policing," Mr. Vitale said, "but they don't actually fix any broken windows. The physical dynamic in the Pink Houses was a major contributing factor to what happened. And if the city was really focused on making the place better, it wouldn't just criminalize behavior, it would fix elevators and lights, and think of ways to empower people to better manage their environments."

There has been one corrective step in the wake of the Gurley case. After Mr. Liang and his partner, Officer Shaun Landau, testified that they failed to help Mr. Gurley because they had been poorly trained in CPR, the department stripped their academy instructor of her badge. And though it preceded Mr. Liang's indictment, a federal lawsuit filed in Manhattan in 2010 is slowly forcing changes in the way that police officers interact with housing-project residents during the vertical patrols.

But a frustrating truth about the Gurley case is that many of its underlying problems are problems of inequity and race that are difficult to solve with city policy. While the shooting was not a racial crime per se — Mr. Liang did not confront or even see his victim — it was racially inflected, if only because black New Yorkers are much more likely than white ones to live in rundown buildings patrolled by police officers in heightened states of anxiety and fear.

"It's on the government to build trust when there have been constant incidents like this," said Johnetta Elzie, a founder of Campaign Zero, an advocacy group that focuses on ending police violence. "There needs to be accountability, but I don't know what accountability looks like when police are getting probation for killing people. It's a mess — it's definitely a mess."



9)  After He Was Beaten, Rikers Inmate Was Sent to 'the Box'

APRIL 20, 2016


Jahmal Lightfoot's suffering did not end with a brutal beating at the hands of Rikers Island correction officers who wanted to teach him a lesson.

He was falsely accused of going at the officers with a weapon he had stashed in his waistband, and disregarding their orders to drop it, according to Bronx prosecutors. As punishment, he was sent to "the box" — a section of the jail where inmates were confined to their cells for 23 hours a day — for nearly four months.

"So you were placed for 110 days in lockdown for something you didn't do?" Lawrence Piergrossi, a prosecutor, asked Mr. Lightfoot on Wednesday in State Supreme Court in the Bronx.

"Yes," Mr. Lightfoot, 31, replied.

He was testifying for a third day in the criminal trial of nine current and former correction officers who have been charged in what prosecutors have described as an orchestrated beating of Mr. Lightfoot and attempted cover-up in July 2012. A tenth officer, who has medical problems, will be tried separately.

The most serious charge against the officers is attempted gang assault in the first degree, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. Other charges include attempted assault, tampering with physical evidence, falsifying business records and official misconduct.

Prosecutors argue that Mr. Lightfoot was unarmed and did nothing to provoke being beaten in a small cell by five members of an elite correction squad. Instead, prosecutors said the beating was ordered byEliseo Perez Jr., an assistant chief for security, and Gerald Vaughn, a correction captain, after Mr. Perez reportedly decided that Mr. Lightfoot "thinks he's tough."

Defense lawyers countered that Mr. Lightfoot was restrained by officers who were simply doing their job. As cross-examination of Mr. Lightfoot began on Wednesday, Raymond Aab, a lawyer for Mr. Perez, picked through Mr. Lightfoot's earlier testimony in a bid to undermine his credibility.

Mr. Aab suggested that Mr. Lightfoot hoped to benefit financially from a pending lawsuit against New York City. "This is what this case is about, to make a lot of money," Mr. Aab said.

Mr. Lightfoot testified that he was incarcerated in 2010 for robbery after stealing a woman's pocketbook. He acknowledged in court that he had been involved with the Bloods gang from 1999 to 2005, and had been arrested for possession of marijuana and crack cocaine, criminal trespass and other minor offenses.

At Rikers, he continued to get into trouble, racking up five infractions in 22 months, including being caught with a weapon that he fashioned out of a battery. Mr. Lightfoot said there were people in the jail that he knew from his days on the street. "Just in case I ran into them, I could protect myself," he said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Lightfoot insisted that he did not have a weapon the night he was beaten, and prosecutors pointed out that he had been strip searched and had passed through two metal detectors.

At an internal disciplinary hearing shortly after the beating, Mr. Lightfoot said he had been shown a picture of a crude, U-shaped piece of metal that was said to be his weapon. He was told he was being charged with assault on staff, and refusal of a direct order. He was found guilty and sentenced to time in the box.

Mr. Lightfoot, who sustained fractures to both of his eye sockets in the beating, testified earlier that he suffered for months afterward. His eyes hurt and his vision was blurry when he tried to read, and he got headaches and spit up blood, he said. He was released from state prison on parole in 2014 and is unemployed.

Mr. Perez retired in 2013, and Mr. Vaughn in 2014. The seven others on trial — Officers Harmon Frierson, Dwayne Maynard, Tobias Parker, Jose Parra, Jeffrey Richard, Alfred Rivera and David Rodriguez — were suspended in June 2013, but recently returned to work on modified duty with no contact with inmates.



10)  What Comes After Capitalism? Upcoming Teach-Ins Can Show a Way Forward

Thursday, 21 April 2016 00:00 By Gar Alperovitz and Ben Manski, Truthout http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/35726-what-comes-after-capitalism-upcoming-teach-ins-can-show-a-way-forward

An extraordinary process of change is about to explode this month on campuses and in communities across the United States. Thousands of Americans are coming together in dozens of locations to take on the question of what kind of system should replace capitalism. The process is called the Next System Teach-Ins.

Teach-ins to address the fundamental question of how to move beyond capitalism will be taking place on campuses as well as in community centers and correctional facilities -- most between Earth Day (April 22) and May Day (May 1), following kickoff events this month at the New School and the City University of New York (CUNY) system in New York City; and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The largest teach-in is planned for the University of California, Santa Barbara, between April 26 and 28. Major sessions from that campus will be live-streamed into classrooms, house parties and workplaces across the world.

The idea that capitalism as a system may be coming to an end, that something new must ultimately be created, is no longer restricted to groups on the political left. Survey after survey has found millions of Americans embracing ideas far different from business as usual. A January 2016 poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers, even in a state like Iowa, found that 43 percent described themselves as "socialist" -- a higher percentage than those who self-identified as "capitalist." Eighty-four percent of Democratic voters under the age of 30 voted for the self-described "democratic socialist" candidate Bernie Sanders, and one-third of all Sanders supporters have told pollsters they will vote for the Green Party's Jill Stein in the general election if Sanders is not the Democratic Party nominee.

Nor is the understanding that the current system is not the be-all and end-all of history restricted to progressives in general. Long before anti-capitalism found mass expression in the Sanders campaign, four years ago, in 2012, Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum -- the annual gathering of corporate and financial leaders in Davos, Switzerland -- declared: "Capitalism in its current form no longer fits the world around us."

And three years ago, the Academy of Management, an august body of 29,000 business school professors and corporate advisers, met for their annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. The theme: "Capitalism in Question." Some of the questions: What kind of economic system would a "better world" be built upon? "Would it be a capitalist one? If so, what kind of capitalism? If not, what are the alternatives?" Economist Thomas Piketty's book on the inequality and instability endemic to capitalism was number one on both Amazon and the New York Times hardcover nonfiction list.

But what kind of system might one day transcend the traditional 20th-century models of corporate capitalism on the one hand, and state socialism on the other? And what can those who insist that the next system produce democracy, justice, equality, ecological sustainability and a culture of community do to build understanding of the kind of political and economic system and society that we want and need?

What can we do to move forward in a positive way? How do we engage the question, both practically and theoretically? How do we move beyond abstract rhetoric? These questions at the heart of the teach-ins matter to all of us, but they are particularly urgent to those born after the 1960s.

We've seen that urgency expressed repeatedly over the past five years, first with the immigrant rights mobilizations, then in the Wisconsin Uprising and Occupy Wall Street, next with the climate justice movement and Black Lives Matter, and today with the powerful generational justice politics expressed in the support for Bernie Sanders among millennials and Generation X. Generational politics are increasingly class politics.

Teach-ins as a strategy for helping catalyze serious change have been part and parcel of progressive change for more than five decades. Beginning in the mid-1960s with the teach-ins on the war in Vietnam and continuing on through the 1970s and 1980s with the use of teach-ins by the environmental, women's, anti-apartheid and anti-nuclear movements, into the 1990s and 2000s with the Democracy Teach-Ins and Tent State Universities, and most recently with Occupy and Black Lives Matter, activists have periodically revived the tradition of campus teach-ins.

Teach-ins transform college and university campuses into political fora in which students, faculty and community members take collective responsibility for matters of local, national and global import. They usually involve large-scale gatherings combined with smaller, more intensive workshops. One thing that makes a teach-in different from a conference or an academic seminar is the teach-in's focus on producing knowledge for use by participants as members of an organized, politicized campus community.

Another is the use of a "wall-to-wall" organizing approach in which every member of the community is challenged to engage in discussion and debate on the question at hand. The major waves of teach-ins of the past 50 years have gone beyond the committed choir to inspire large numbers of people to expand their sense of the necessary and the possible.

Each teach-in wave produced something powerful and new. The teach-ins on the Vietnam War greatly expanded the reach of the antiwar movement and deepened the questioning of long-held assumptions about the role of the United States in the world system. Earth Day 1970 helped launch the modern environmental movement. The teach-ins of the women's liberation and out-of-apartheid movements transformed lives and built and expanded those movements throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.

The Democracy Teach-Ins of the 1990s cohered, radicalized and mobilized the student anti-corporate and anti-sweatshop movements that fed into the 1999 shutdown of the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle. The national wave of teach-ins on the Wisconsin Uprising churned movements across the country in the months prior to Occupy Wall Street, which in turn inspired its own teach-ins around the world. Similarly, Black Lives Matter inspired campus teach-ins, which then fed into mobilizing for the first National Blackout Day of boycott and protest.

Though colleges and universities are hardly the only places where the challenge is intensely felt, they are critical arenas for this debate. They have been in crisis since the 1990s. And the problems confronting students and would-be students, as well as faculty and staff, are worsening most places one turns. The University of Wisconsin system has eviscerated faculty tenure, and prominent professors are fleeing the state. Chicago State University -- an institution that disproportionately serves low-income students and students of color -- has closed its doors for lack of state funding. Faculty and graduate student unions have been compelled to authorize strikes in the California State University and CUNY systems. And everywhere the burden of student debt, combined with precarious labor markets, has produced two generations of Americans indentured to the failings of modern capitalism.

All of this is the result of over 30 years of deep cuts in public funding for public higher education (as a proportion of overall costs), huge increases in student tuition and student debt to make up for those cuts, and the concurrent and related corporatization of university research and services. This past year's campus mobilizations -- from the Million Student March, to the mass protests in support of Black students at the University of Missouri, to the new campaign by the United States Student Association for free higher education and student debt forgiveness -- show an understanding that the crisis in higher education is part of the broader systemic crisis.

The good news is that the Next System Teach-Ins are only beginning and are only one part of the important work of many hands in preparing the way for a new society. From the New Economy Coalition to the US Solidarity Economy Network to the upcoming 2017 Democracy Convention to the Black Liberation Collective, the constitutional reform efforts of Move to Amend and more, a movement for economic and political democracy is underway in the United States.

We've seen state socialism and know it's not a workable alternative. We've experienced corporate capitalism; it has proven itself inequitable, unstable and ultimately unsustainable. Over the coming decades, and especially when the next crash comes, will we be ready to offer a clear, workable and compelling vision of how to reorganize society?

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.


Ben Manski is president of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution and works with the Next System Project as its director of special initiatives. Manski initiated and coordinated the first waves of Democracy Teach-Ins in the late 1990s.


Gar Alperovitz is cochair of the Next System Project and cofounder of the Democracy Collaborative. Alperovitz was deeply involved in the teach-ins on the Vietnam War.



11)  U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High

"American Indians had the sharpest rise of all racial and ethnic groups, with rates rising by 89 percent for women and 38 percent for men. White middle-aged women had an increase of 80 percent."

APRIL 22, 2016


WASHINGTON — Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s.

The suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent over the period of the study, while it rose by 43 percent for men in that age range, the sharpest increase for males of any age. The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the study on Friday.

The increases were so widespread that they lifted the nation's suicide rate to 13 per 100,000 people, the highest since 1986. The rate rose by 2 percent a year starting in 2006, double the annual rise in the earlier period of the study. In all, 42,773 people died from suicide in 2014, compared with 29,199 in 1999.

"It's really stunning to see such a large increase in suicide rates affecting virtually every age group," said Katherine Hempstead, senior adviser for health care at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who has identified a link between suicides in middle age and rising rates of distress about jobs and personal finances.

Researchers also found an alarming increase among girls 10 to 14, whose suicide rate, while still very low, had tripled. The number of girls who killed themselves rose to 150 in 2014 from 50 in 1999. "This one certainly jumped out," said Sally Curtin, a statistician at the center and an author of the report.

American Indians had the sharpest rise of all racial and ethnic groups, with rates rising by 89 percent for women and 38 percent for men. White middle-aged women had an increase of 80 percent.

The rate declined for just one racial group: black men. And it declined for only one age group: men and women over 75.

The data analysis provided fresh evidence of suffering among white Americans. Recent research has highlighted the plight of less educated whites, showing surges in deaths from drug overdoses, suicides, liver disease and alcohol poisoning, particularly among those with a high school education or less. The new report did not break down suicide rates by education, but researchers who reviewed the analysis said the patterns in age and race were consistent with that recent research and painted a picture of desperation for many in American society.

"This is part of the larger emerging pattern of evidence of the links between poverty, hopelessness and health," said Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard and the author of "Our Kids," an investigation of new class divisions in America.

The rise in suicide rates has happened slowly over many years. Federal health researchers said they chose 1999 as the start of the period they studied because it was a low point in the national suicide rate and they wanted to cover the full period of its recent sustained rise.

The federal health agency's last major report on suicide, released in 2013, noted a sharp increase in suicide among 35- to 64-year-olds. But the rates have risen even more since then — up by 7 percent for the entire population since 2010, the end of the last study period — and federal researchers said they issued the new report to draw attention to the issue.

Policy makers say efforts to prevent suicide across the country are spotty. While some hospitals and health systems screen for suicidal thinking and operate good treatment programs, many do not.

"We have more and more effective treatments, but we have to figure out how to bake them into health care systems so they are used more automatically," said Dr. Jane Pearson, chairwoman of the National Institute of Mental Health's Suicide Research Consortium, which oversees the National Institutes of Health funding for suicide prevention research. "We've got bits and pieces, but we haven't really put them all together yet."

She noted that while N.I.H. funding for suicide prevention projects had been relatively flat — rising to $25 million in 2016 from $22 million in 2012 — it was a small fraction of funding for research of mental illnesses, including mood disorders like depression.

The new federal analysis noted that the methods of suicide were changing. About one in four suicides in 2014 involved suffocation, which includes hanging and strangulation, compared with fewer than one in five in 1999. Suffocation deaths are harder to prevent because nearly anyone has access to the means, Ms. Hempstead said. Death from guns fell for both men and women. Guns went from being involved in 37 percent of female suicides to 31 percent, and from 62 percent to 55 percent for men.

The question of what has driven the increases is unresolved, leaving experts to muse on the reasons.

Julie Phillips, a professor of sociology at Rutgers who has studied suicide among middle-aged Americans, said social changes could be raising the risks. Marriage rates have declined, particularly among less educated Americans, while divorce rates have risen, leading to increased social isolation, she said. She calculated that in 2005, unmarried middle-aged men were 3.5 times more likely than married men to die from suicide, and their female counterparts were as much as 2.8 times more likely to kill themselves. The divorce rate has doubled for middle-aged and older adults since the 1990s, she said.

Disappointed expectations of social and economic well-being among less educated white men from the baby-boom generation may also be playing a role, she said. They grew up in an era that valued "masculinity and self-reliance" — characteristics that could get in the way of asking for help.

"It appears this group isn't seeking help but rather turning to self-destructive means of dealing with their despair," Professor Phillips said.

Another possible explanation: an economy that has eaten away at the prospects of families on the lower rungs of the income ladder.

Dr. Alex Crosby, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he had studied the association between economic downturns and suicide going back to the 1920s and found that suicide was highest when the economy was weak. One of the highest rates in the country's modern history, he said, was in 1932, during the Great Depression, when the rate was 22.1 per 100,000, about 70 percent higher than in 2014.

"There was a consistent pattern," he said, which held for all ages between 25 and 64. "When the economy got worse, suicides went up, and when it got better, they went down."

But other experts pointed out that the unemployment rate had been declining in the latter period of the study, and questioned how important the economy was to suicide.

The gap in suicide rates for men and women has narrowed because women's rates are increasing faster than men's. But men still kill themselves at a rate 3.6 times that of women. Though suicide rates for older adults fell over the period of the study, men over 75 still have the highest suicide rate of any age group — 38.8 per 100,000 in 2014, compared with just four per 100,000 for their female counterparts.



12)  Investigators Say Mexico Has Thwarted Efforts to Solve Students' Disappearance

APRIL 22, 2016


MEXICO CITY — An international panel of experts brought to Mexicoto investigate the haunting disappearance of 43 students that ignited a global outcry say they cannot solve the case because of a sustained campaign of harassment, stonewalling and intimidation against them.

The investigators say they have endured carefully orchestrated attacks in the Mexican news media, a refusal by the government to turn over documents or grant interviews with essential figures, and even a retaliatory criminal investigation into one of the officials who appointed them.

For some, the inevitable conclusion is that the government simply does not want the experts to solve the case.

"The conditions to conduct our work don't exist," said Claudia Paz y Paz, a panel member who earned international recognition for prosecuting a former Guatemalan dictator on charges of genocide. "And in Mexico, the proof is that the government opposed the extension of our mandate, isn't it?"

The pressure on the investigators — described by four of the five panel members in interviews with The New York Times — undermines promises by the Mexican government to cooperate fully and uncover what happened to the students, one of the worst human rights abuses in the country's recent memory.

Hundreds of thousands flooded the streets to protest the disappearances, sending President Enrique Peña Nieto's approval ratings plummeting and contradicting his effort to depict Mexico as a progressive nation ready to assume its place on the world stage. Instead, the case exposed the impunity tearing at the seams of the rule of law.

The international investigators say that their job is far from complete. But they will leave Mexico in the coming days nonetheless — pushed out, they say, by a government many suspect of covering up what actually happened on the night in September 2014 when the 43 college students were abducted by the police and never seen or heard from again.

By contrast, the Mexican government says that it has fully cooperated with the experts, completing the vast majority of their information requests, while it is still processing the rest.

For the families of the missing, young men training to be teachers in the impoverished stretches of rural Mexico, the experts' departure is devastating. All along, they have refused to believe the government's version of events — that their children, who were in the city of Iguala as part of a protest, were kidnapped by local police officers working for powerful criminal gangs, then killed and incinerated in the garbage dump of a nearby town. In its version of the story, the government never gave a clear motive for the attack.

But for many Mexicans, the case represents something far greater than 43 people: It is a window onto the tens of thousands of others who have also disappeared during the nation's decade-long drug war, and the anguish visited on their families. Caught between cartel violence and a government either unwilling or unable to help, they are victims twice.

The arrival of the international experts inspired hope and a shot at closure, if only vicariously, for those who suffer their losses quietly on the margins of Mexican society. In an exceptional gesture, Mexico was granting foreigners permission to conduct a true investigation. Now their departure is a bitter one.

"This is something that will probably haunt us for a long time," said Francisco Cox, a Chilean human rights lawyer and another member of the group of experts. "But it didn't make sense to stay here, because in a certain way it's giving legitimacy to something deep inside you know isn't right."

Though the group's final report will be issued on Sunday morning, the case is far from solved. The remains of only one of the 43 has been found and identified; the rest are all still missing.

Another question is how high the collusion between the drug gangs and the government goes. Although the government's own investigation focused on the complicity of the local authorities, the expert panel uncovered evidence that state and federal officials and even military personnel were present on the night of the students' disappearance.

"It was clear in the government's investigation and the official account that there was an intention to keep this case at a municipal level, in terms of responsibility," said Carlos Beristain, another expert in the investigation. "But we revealed the presence of state and federal agents at the crime scenes, and furthermore that their participation implied responsibility."

The government insists that the parting of ways with the international experts is amicable, and has thanked them in public for their work. The experts were not forced out, according to the government. They ran out of time.

The government says it has played no part in a smear campaign. There is a free press in Mexico, and the government cannot prevent certain outlets from writing what they want, it says.

In written responses to questions, Eber Betanzos, the deputy attorney general for human rights, said that his office has worked closely with the experts. "The Mexican state recognizes their work, their efforts and the attention to the victims," he said.

But when asked to issue a joint statement denouncing the media campaign against the experts, the government more than once declined to do so.

When the experts arrived in Mexico, in March of last year, they received a warm welcome from the government. At first, the experts said, there was a willingness to share documents and respond to requests for information, and a collegiality that seemed to match the government's public posture.

That abruptly changed in September, when the experts published a report that contradicted the government's version of events, referred to by the former attorney general as the "historic truth." The government's investigation said that the students were killed and then burned in a garbage dump in the town of Cocula. Neither this panel of experts nor another international team of forensics experts also working on the investigation have found any physical evidence at the dump site corroborating a fire of such dimensions.

"After our report, it was pretty clear the relationship had changed," Mr. Cox said. "They still thought that we would sustain their version of what had happened."

Routine requests from the government took months, the experts said. Suggestions for ways to streamline the investigation were ignored. A media smear campaign began, assaulting individuals in the group, including accusations that they misspent money and had made statements supportive of terrorist acts in the past.

For the investigators, the message was clear. "There are sectors within the government that don't want certain things to be questioned and therefore there is an attempt to reinforce the 'historical truth,' without taking into account the new elements we have uncovered," Mr. Beristain said. "These sectors within the government looked at us as a threat and this hardened their view towards us, which actually reinforces the impunity that stops things from changing in this country."

The media attacks largely focused on Ms. Paz and another female lawyer, Ángela Buitrago, who earned broad recognition for prosecuting government and military malfeasance in Colombia. In addition to little known outlets, some national newspapers, like El Financiero and Milenio, took part as well.

In one instance in January, Ms. Buitrago was waiting in line at the Mexico City airport when she noticed a story on the front page of a local newspaper — about her. It began with a characterization of Ms. Buitrago as someone known to "fabricate testimony and pressure alleged witnesses in order to imprison military figures and politicians." It also quoted a person she had prosecuted as saying that any investigation in her hands would lack all credibility.

"It was unimaginable," she said. "The purpose of all this was just to delegitimize the investigation, and to discredit and distract us."

Ms. Paz, too, said she became a target. Pro-government organizations claimed that she had protected violent leftists and violated Guatemala's peace accords by trying former military officers.

Though the government has repeatedly denied playing a role in the media campaign, it wields an inordinate amount of control over the news media here. The state spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year in advertising, making it a highly influential voice in the market.

"We couldn't go out on the streets every day and read all the newspaper headlines insulting us," Ms. Paz said.

Perhaps the most direct example of government pressure came in the form of a criminal inquiry opened into Emilio Álvarez Icaza, the executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the international body that appointed the experts.

The inquiry was opened after a pro-government activist filed a complaint against Mr. Icaza, claiming fraudulent use of the money for the experts, funds that had been furnished on agreement by the Mexican government.

For weeks, the government sustained its investigation, claiming it had a responsibility to follow up on every complaint. But human rights experts in the region said the action sent a message, warning those agitating against the government's narrative. Eventually, the government dropped the case, but not before it sent a chill.

"It is interesting that they would choose to investigate this patently baseless claim when there are thousands of families who are desperately seeking their loved ones without any assistance from the attorney general," said James L. Cavallaro, the president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. "That is profoundly disturbing."



13)  Wary of Big Business, Germans Protest Trade Deal as Obama Visits

HANOVER, Germany — When it comes to the United States, Germans often veer between admiration and scorn. Rarely was that more clear than in the contrasting ways that two groups prepared to greet President Obama this weekend here in this comfortable German city, site of the world's largest industrial fair.

Undeterred by the scandal caused by Volkswagen's lies about emissionsfrom its diesel vehicles in the United States, Germany's export-driven businesses showed off their wares in eager anticipation of the fair's opening on Sunday and the first visit by a sitting American president. He is scheduled to help open the fair.

Mr. Obama kindled good will himself with an unusually glowing appraisal of Chancellor Angela Merkel, telling Germany's best-selling newspaper, Bild, that he was proud to call her a friend. In particular, he lauded Ms. Merkel's "real political and moral leadership" in welcoming about a million refugees last year.

None of that impressed the tens of thousands of protesters who gathered in Hanover's Opera Square on Saturday. Their goal, as proclaimed in hundreds of banners and chants, is to topple a proposed trans-Atlantic trade deal between Europe and the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Germany depends on exports for its wealth and the United States for its security. Yet many Germans do not see the free trade agreement as a good thing.

Monica Orth, 54, a therapist for teenagers, is one of many here who see the proposed deal as a plot by big businesses — often American — to lower consumer standards, bypass national justice systems and generally undermine Europe's way of life.

"I don't want Monsanto and Bayer to determine which seeds I eat," said Ms. Orth, a slight but determined woman from Bonn. As two friends nodded in agreement, she added, "Democracy is a really valuable thing, and I don't want big business to take that from me."

At least a dozen other protesters who were interviewed echoed her words. All accused corporations like Monsanto — the American biotechnology corporation reviled by some for using genetically modified seeds that it says help battle disease — or the German pharmaceutical company Bayer of trying to force upon them products they do not want.

In a way, these Germans should be a source of American pride, fierce believers in the democratic creed the Western Allies spread after Nazism collapsed.

But popular sentiment in Germany often turns against America, admired for its liberty and technical prowess but also mistrusted by many for its commercial and military dominance.

"Anti-Americanism plays a certain role" in the opposition to the trade accord, said Christian Bluth, a researcher at Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German research institute that recently commissioned a poll suggesting even stronger rejection of the deal than the latest survey by ZDF, a public-service television broadcaster, which found in mid-February that at least half of Germans rejected the proposed trade agreement.

"What I personally find very difficult to understand is why Germans are so full of fears about trade and the future, at a time when they have it good and unemployment is relatively low," Mr. Bluth said in an interview.

Anton Hofreiter, a leader of the Greens party who observed Saturday's protest, said anti-American beliefs were not the guiding force of the campaign against the trade pact. Yet he noted that demonstrators were wary that Mr. Obama had come to Europe in part to cut a quick trade deal.

Michael Froman, the United States trade representative, may have stirred those concerns when he told Handelsblatt, the German business daily, on Friday: "We have a unique chance if both sides can show the political will to seal the deal. If we don't manage it now, fears will arise that the deal will never go through."

Although negotiations for the trans-Atlantic pact are underway and will resume on Monday, the presidential election in the United States may make an agreement impossible in Washington this year. France and Germany face elections in 2017 that are also likely to freeze the chances for a deal.

When asked why they so feared a pact likely to enhance Germany's trade prospects, or why they distrusted American regulators, who after all uncovered the Volkswagen scandal when European regulators did not, protesters insisted that they would be deceived, describing the trade talks as secretive.

Even a special room created in Berlin to allow legislators to view negotiating documents has not helped. Opposition lawmakers said that strict security in the room only increased their lack of trust in the talks.

As a leading commentator, Nico Fried, noted in the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday, "It sometimes seems easier to get the conflicting parties in Syria to agree on peace than for the friendly trans-Atlantic partners to produce a trade agreement."

Mr. Obama's reception at the industrial fair is likely to be more polite. On Saturday afternoon, Volkswagen, Siemens and other successful German companies showed off their latest contributions to what is known here as Industrialization 4.0 — the race to apply and keep up with the digital transformation of industries.

For someone like Peter Weckesser, the chief operating officer of a Siemens subsidiary, there is "huge potential" in doing business with the United States, particularly as it tries to reinvigorate its industrial sectors and seeks the kind of modern production design and management that Siemens is promoting.

With or without a trade deal, Mr. Weckesser and other businessmen noted, the industrialized world has become more intertwined, and America offers both a large market and lessons from its enviable technological advances.

Ms. Merkel, a trained physicist who grew up in communist East Germany, is a keen proponent of technical progress.

That is likely to make her visit to the fair with Mr. Obama a highlight. The chancellor, in office since 2005, is now Mr. Obama's longest-serving ally.

But forging deals and dealing with challenges like Syria, Ukraine, a resurgent Russia and climate change appears to be more complicated in the 21st century than it was in the decades of the German-American friendship that followed World War II.

Even so, a hint of that less-complicated era hung over Saturday's trade protest. While the crowd chanted against big business, and workers toiled overtime to prepare the fair site just a few miles away, a large banner advertised the evening show at the opera house.

No weighty German opera here; instead, it was a performance of the 1961 Broadway musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."



14) Chernobyl's Silent Exclusion Zone (Except for the Logging)

PRIPYAT, Ukraine — The road through the forest, abandoned, is at times barely discernible, covered with the debris of fallen tree limbs, vines, leaves and moss pushing up through cracks in the crumbling asphalt.

The moss is best avoided, says our guide, Artur N. Kalmykov, a young Ukrainian who has made a hobby of coming here to the exclusion zone surrounding the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, set aside in perpetuity after the catastrophe in 1986. It can be radioactive, having carried buried radiation to the surface as it grew.

Above all, he says, watch out for windblown dust, which could well be laced with deadly plutonium.

Despite the dangers — which are actually minimal these days, except when the wind is howling — and the risk of arrest, Mr. Kalmykov is at home here. "In Kiev my head is full," he said. "Here I can relax. I could hang out in Kiev. But this is more interesting."

What Mr. Kalmykov and fellow unofficial explorers of the Chernobyl zone, members of a peculiar subculture who are in their 20s and call themselves "the stalkers," have found is more interesting still: vast tracts of clear-cutting in the ostensibly protected forest.

Mr. Kalmykov, a computer programmer who discovered the clear-cut areas while exploring the zone on his weekends, took his findings to Stop Corruption, one of the civil society groups that popped up in Ukraine after the Maidan revolution two years ago, events supposed to usher in a new era of clean government in Ukraine.

And yet on Ukraine's dirtiest patch of land, Stop Corruption says, based on the stalkers' evidence, the under-the-table dealings of the bureaucrats who manage the area are flourishing as always. Distracted by the 30th anniversary of the catastrophe on April 26 and the general turmoil in Ukraine, the group says, the Exclusion Zone Management Agency has turned a blind eye to the Chernobyl logging.

The Zone of Alienation, as it is also known, is a rough circle with an 18-mile radius, fenced off with barbed wire. Access is strictly controlled, so that delegations and guided tours typically travel a few fixed routes. Outside those areas frequented by tourists, Stop Corruption said, under the guise of salvage logging of trees killed in wildfires, healthy pines are being felled in great numbers for sale in Ukraine and Romania, from where the timber may be resold throughout Europe.

"We thought these incidents were isolated and unimportant, but when we started to investigate, it turned out the problem was gigantic and systemic," said Vadim V. Vnukov, the group's head lawyer.

Lumber from Chernobyl, while not exactly glowing in the dark, would pose risks to anybody living in a house made from it, Mr. Vnukov said.

"There is a clear health risk here," he said. "We ran into a system worked out over the decades, and under any government, this system of corruption was preserved."

Today, scientists say, the average radiation level in the zone is about a quarter as harmful to human health as it was in the immediate aftermath of the explosion and fire. A typical reading in the zone is about 100 microsieverts, or comparable to the exposure that an airplane passenger might receive on a trans-Atlantic flight.

But harmful risks lurk. Placed near the moss, for example, a Geiger counter hummed like an electric shaver.

"It's not as dangerous as it seems," Mr. Kalmykov said with a shrug. "Some people are just radiophobic."

In an interview in his offices in Kiev, Vitalii V. Petruk, the head of the Exclusion Zone Management Agency, denied that any illegal logging had taken place since he assumed the job in September. But since the revolution, he is the fifth director of the zone, which like the rest of Ukraine has been in a state of flux.

Loggers fell burned trees after forest fires, to avoid pest outbreaks, and cut firebreaks and routes for electrical wires, he said. Since 2004, it has been legal in Ukraine to sell timber from the zone if it passes radiological controls.

Mr. Petruk is an unabashed advocate of increased commercial activity in the zone, including logging.

"How do we turn our shame into our advantage?" he said. His answer is "Zone of Change," a proposal by his agency for increased logging to feed a chip-fueled steam power plant at the site that he noted would reduce dependence on Russian natural gas.

Into this landscape recently, one careful step after another, Mr. Kalmykov pushed deeper into a thicket of vines and fallen branches.

(To show reporters sites where he suspected illegal logging activity, Mr. Kalmykov and all in his party obtained permits to visit the zone, in contrast to his usual practice of slipping in to explore surreptitiously.)

At an abandoned house on the roadside, with the rhythmic chirp of a Geiger counter in the background and moldy children's clothes lying about, an eerie sense arose of a sneak preview of the end of the world.

The concept of the exclusion zone, an important experiment for the nuclear industry, was to limit, through isolation, the lethality of an accident at the nuclear plant. (Fewer than 200 people stayed here after the evacuation of more than 100,000.) Radioactive elements degrade at predictable intervals, called half-lives, that can vary enormously. Particles left in the soil while their half-lives tick past harm nobody; the average particle half-life at Chernobyl is about 30 years.

But logging in a postapocalyptic forest would pose a number of health concerns. Trees, like moss, absorb radiation from the subsoil. Also, clear-cutting churns up soil, stirring radioactive dust and accelerating erosion.

At one point along the road, the forest opens to a clear-cut area of several acres, sliced into healthy pine groves, though near a burned patch. "Look, they didn't touch the dead trees," Mr. Kalmykov said, pointing to the still standing, blackened pines.

"During the change in government, nobody was paying attention, and people didn't miss this moment" to make some money, he said of the loggers. "Everybody knows. The necessary people get the necessary money."

A logger, his sweaty face flecked with dust and sawdust, said he simply cut the trees marked by his bosses at the exclusion zone administration. "I don't decide," said the man, who declined to give his name. "They say we don't need the burned logs."

Asked if he worried about radiation, he said he did not, as by now the radiation had settled deep into the soil.

"We stamp it down so it does not come out," he said, patting the ground with his boot. "Want to buy some wood?"



15)  Housing Bias Outlasts Ruling in a Long Island Village

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — Mary Crosson, a housing activist, remembers moving to Long Island from Bayside, Queens, in the 1990s and being struck by the sharp divisions that seemed to keep blacks and whites apart.

"I come from South Carolina, so I understand discrimination," said Mrs. Crosson, 68, who is black and lives in the village of Hempstead, where nearly half the residents are African-American. "In Queens, it was more of a mixed neighborhood. I came out here and I felt like I went back to the South all over again."

federal appeals court found last month that such segregation was not an accident. The court ruled that Hempstead's next-door neighbor, Garden City, a wealthy village where 1.2 percent of the residents were black in 2010, had violated federal antidiscrimination law by rezoning land specifically to block multifamily housing — and the potential for minorities to move in.

"Something was amiss here," a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit wrote in its decision. "Garden City's abrupt shift in zoning in the face of vocal opposition to changing the character of Garden City represented acquiescence to race-based animus."

The ruling, which affirmed a 2013 decision by a Federal District Court judge, is a pivotal development in the long struggle to dismantle housing segregation as the federal government, courts and advocacy groups shift the battle beyond cities to white suburban enclaves that have deliberately erected barriers to integration.

The more aggressive posture reflects a growing impatience with the persistence of segregation a half-century after the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, and an effort to apply more pressure on communities to finally open themselves up to black and Latino residents.

"It's another signal that the tide is turning in terms of fair housing," said Prof. Robert M. Silverman, of the School of Architecture and Planning at the State University of New York at Buffalo, who has written extensively on the subject of housing segregation. "There's a historic pattern of segregation that those places have experienced."

Continue reading the main story

In the case of Garden City, however, the legal victory may have come too late. The litigation dragged on for so long that a courthouse is now planned for the land at the center of the case, and local officials, advocates said, claim there are few other parcels on which to build.

The judges who ruled in the Garden City case raised the possibility that discrimination went beyond one community, directing the district court to determine whether officials in Nassau County, which includes Garden City and Hempstead, had deliberately steered affordable housing to low-income areas with largely minority populations.

Experts on fair housing say discrimination cases are flaring where the need for more affordable housing is greatest: cities where housing costs are high and their suburbs. In recent years, legal challenges have been raised in Westchester County, N.Y.; Marin County, Calif.; and the city of Dallas, among other places.

The litigation in Nassau County is entering its next phase as a new rule issued by the Obama administration takes effect, requiring communities that receive federal housing aid to detail how they plan to reduce racial inequality in housing. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has given local governments data and mapping tools to help them address segregation.

Bryan Greene, the agency's general deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said the requirement would help prevent what happened in Westchester, where some of the country's most affluent communities sit next to hardscrabble towns and where, a judge found, officials had failed to consider race when they certified that the county had taken steps to promote fair housing.

Westchester, which entered a sweeping desegregation agreement with the federal government in 2009, helped "illustrate to many people nationwide that communities were getting millions and millions of dollars in block grant funding" without evaluating the problem of racial segregation, Mr. Greene said.

In the case of Garden City, local officials had not received federal housing money, but the Fair Housing Act applies to all housing transactions and policies, even when federal money is not involved.

The lawsuit that led to the appeals court ruling last month was filed against the village and Nassau County in 2005. It accused the village of discrimination by catering to residents who had protested the board of trustees' initial embrace of a zoning classification that would have allowed multifamily housing on a 25-acre parcel that the county owned and planned to sell to a private developer.

While the classification did not specifically refer to affordable housing, the appeals court said, residents who opposed the move raised the specter of such housing being built and urged the trustees to "play it safe" by allowing only townhouses or single-family homes on the property. The trustees did just that.

Using what the appeals court called code words, residents said that multifamily housing would change the "flavor" and "character" of the village and would lead to "four or 10 people in an apartment," and demanded a guarantee that the housing be "upscale."

"The tenor of the discussion at public hearings," the judges wrote, and a flier that circulated in the village, "shows that citizen opposition, though not overtly race-based, was directed at a potential influx of poor, minority residents."

Garden City officials have yet to decide whether to appeal. The trustees said in a statement that the village had already begun to apply remedies ordered by the district court judge, Arthur D. Spatt, adopting a fair-housing resolution and appointing a fair-housing compliance officer.

Judge Spatt also ordered Garden City to require that 10 percent of new residential developments with five units or more be set aside for residents with household incomes of 80 percent or less of Long Island's median income.

Advocates doubt the village will create such housing anytime soon. "They've been saying to us the whole time that they don't have enough land to build anything," said Diane Goins, chairwoman of the Long Island chapter of New York Communities for Change, a plaintiff in the case.

Nonetheless, Ms. Goins, who lives in Hempstead, called the ruling historic. "Having grown up in African-American communities on Long Island, I always knew that we were locked into certain places," she explained. "You could visit Garden City, but you could not stay."

The lawyers for the plaintiffs said Garden City and Nassau County were not unusual. "There are many violations going on all across the country, but unless someone catches them, it's of no moment," one of the lawyers, Frederick K. Brewington, said.

The broader implications of the case, and the appeals court's question about whether Nassau had engaged in racial steering, could be far-reaching. Nassau "is one of the most segregated counties in the country," said Stanley J. Brown, another lawyer for the plaintiffs.

In Westchester, the events that eventually produced a desegregation agreement started with a challenge by an advocacy group, the Anti-Discrimination Center, which accused the county of lying when it claimed to have followed fair-housing requirements while applying for federal housing money.

A federal judge agreed, ruling that the county had "utterly failed" to meet its obligations. The county said it would build 750 units of affordable housing in 31 overwhelmingly white communities. The units — intended for working, middle-class families — were to be aggressively marketed to nonwhite residents.

In the case of Garden City, however, the legal victory may have come too late. The litigation dragged on for so long that a courthouse is now planned for the land at the center of the case, and local officials, advocates said, claim there are few other parcels on which to build.

From left, Mary Crosson, Diane Goins and Atlanta Georgia Cockrell at the headquarters of the Long Island chapter of New York Communities for Change. CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times 

The judges who ruled in the Garden City case raised the possibility that discrimination went beyond one community, directing the district court to determine whether officials in Nassau County, which includes Garden City and Hempstead, had deliberately steered affordable housing to low-income areas with largely minority populations.

Experts on fair housing say discrimination cases are flaring where the need for more affordable housing is greatest: cities where housing costs are high and their suburbs. In recent years, legal challenges have been raised in Westchester County, N.Y.; Marin County, Calif.; and the city of Dallas, among other places.

The litigation in Nassau County is entering its next phase as a new rule issued by the Obama administration takes effect, requiring communities that receive federal housing aid to detail how they plan to reduce racial inequality in housing. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has given local governments data and mapping tools to help them address segregation.

Bryan Greene, the agency's general deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said the requirement would help prevent what happened in Westchester, where some of the country's most affluent communities sit next to hardscrabble towns and where, a judge found, officials had failed to consider race when they certified that the county had taken steps to promote fair housing.

Westchester, which entered a sweeping desegregation agreement with the federal government in 2009, helped "illustrate to many people nationwide that communities were getting millions and millions of dollars in block grant funding" without evaluating the problem of racial segregation, Mr. Greene said.

In the case of Garden City, local officials had not received federal housing money, but the Fair Housing Act applies to all housing transactions and policies, even when federal money is not involved.

The lawsuit that led to the appeals court ruling last month was filed against the village and Nassau County in 2005. It accused the village of discrimination by catering to residents who had protested the board of trustees' initial embrace of a zoning classification that would have allowed multifamily housing on a 25-acre parcel that the county owned and planned to sell to a private developer.

While the classification did not specifically refer to affordable housing, the appeals court said, residents who opposed the move raised the specter of such housing being built and urged the trustees to "play it safe" by allowing only townhouses or single-family homes on the property. The trustees did just that.

Using what the appeals court called code words, residents said that multifamily housing would change the "flavor" and "character" of the village and would lead to "four or 10 people in an apartment," and demanded a guarantee that the housing be "upscale.

"The tenor of the discussion at public hearings," the judges wrote, and a flier that circulated in the village, "shows that citizen opposition, though not overtly race-based, was directed at a potential influx of poor, minority residents."

Garden City officials have yet to decide whether to appeal. The trustees said in a statement that the village had already begun to apply remedies ordered by the district court judge, Arthur D. Spatt, adopting a fair-housing resolution and appointing a fair-housing compliance officer.

Judge Spatt also ordered Garden City to require that 10 percent of new residential developments with five units or more be set aside for residents with household incomes of 80 percent or less of Long Island's median income.

Advocates doubt the village will create such housing anytime soon. "They've been saying to us the whole time that they don't have enough land to build anything," said Diane Goins, chairwoman of the Long Island chapter of New York Communities for Change, a plaintiff in the case.

Nonetheless, Ms. Goins, who lives in Hempstead, called the ruling historic. "Having grown up in African-American communities on Long Island, I always knew that we were locked into certain places," she explained. "You could visit Garden City, but you could not stay."

The lawyers for the plaintiffs said Garden City and Nassau County were not unusual. "There are many violations going on all across the country, but unless someone catches them, it's of no moment," one of the lawyers, Frederick K. Brewington, said.

The broader implications of the case, and the appeals court's question about whether Nassau had engaged in racial steering, could be far-reaching. Nassau "is one of the most segregated counties in the country," said Stanley J. Brown, another lawyer for the plaintiffs.

In Westchester, the events that eventually produced a desegregation agreement started with a challenge by an advocacy group, the Anti-Discrimination Center, which accused the county of lying when it claimed to have followed fair-housing requirements while applying for federal housing money.

A federal judge agreed, ruling that the county had "utterly failed" to meet its obligations. The county said it would build 750 units of affordable housing in 31 overwhelmingly white communities. The units — intended for working, middle-class families — were to be aggressively marketed to nonwhite residents.

In Garden City, 2.6 percent of residents were black and Hispanic in 2000. "Something was amiss here," judges with the appeals court wrote in their decision. CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times 

At the end of 2015, according to county officials, financing was in place for 649 units, 588 of which had building permits or certificates of occupancy.

But a thornier element of the Westchester settlement required the county to "use all available means as appropriate" to promote nondiscriminatory housing. That included pressing local governments to change zoning rules that discouraged the construction of apartments.

The federal housing agency has repeatedly accused Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, of moving too slowly on the issue. He, in turn, has accused the agency of trying to expand the agreement's scope.

In a recent opinion article in a local newspaper, Mr. Astorino, a Republican, said the housing agency was trying to "assault local zoning."

The Nassau and Westchester cases have their roots in a much older housing-discrimination battle near New York: a seminal case in Mount Laurel, N.J.

The Mount Laurel case began in the 1960s when a group of African-Americans found themselves priced out of the township, a Philadelphia suburb. They sued in 1971, after local officials blocked an affordable-housing project.

The case reached New Jersey's highest court, which in two key rulings limited the use of exclusionary zoning to prevent the construction of affordable housing.

More important, the ruling, known as the Mount Laurel doctrine, asserted that all municipalities had an obligation to provide a "fair share" of affordable housing. Since the mid-1980s, a total of more than 65,000 units have been built across New Jersey's 21 counties.

Professor Silverman of SUNY Buffalo said continued litigation of fair-housing cases highlighted both the intractable nature of the problem and the robust enforcement now unfolding nationally.

"The fact that discrimination has been sustained over time, despite a series of different court challenges, has kept the issue salient," he said. "People see the inequalities."




























































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