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/



Afrikan Black Coalition just started a petition to the University of California Regents, UC President Napolitano, and UC Chief Investment Officer Bachher stating:

Last year, we pushed the University of California to divest $25 million in private prison shares. We dedicate this victory to the millions of our people languishing in America's mass incarceration regime. But the University of California still has not divested the $425 million in shares from Wells Fargo, one of the largest private prison funders.

Wells Fargo maintains a $900 million credit line to private prisons. If we all truly believe that #BlackLivesMatter from the hood to the academy, we must stand with our family and friends who are currently incarcerated or are at a higher risk of incarceration because of their very Blackness.

Tell the UC to divest effective immediately, all of the $425 million it has currently invested in Wells Fargo!

Sign now →


UC, Divest from Wells Fargo Immediately!

We just started a petition titled "University California (UC) Divestment." Below is the appeal that we will deliver to the University of California next month:

We, the undersigned community members and justice seekers, are excited by the Afrikan Black Coalition's recent victory in getting the University of California to divest $25 million from the private prison corporations Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), The Geo Group, and G4S. The victory was historic because private prisons have exacerbated America's mass incarceration regime, are implicated in gross human rights violations, and should be outlawed.

However, we share the Afrikan Black Coalition's outrage and frustration resulting from the UC system's startling $425 million investment in Wells Fargo, one of the largest financiers of private prisons. According a report from Enlace, Wells Fargo acts as a syndication agent and issuing lender on CCA's $900 million line of credit. As of their latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Wells Fargo owned 998,350 shares in CCA and 462,342 shares in GEO Group, nearly 1.5 million shares total. It bears noting that Wells Fargo is a bank that practiced discriminatory lending and maneuvered people of color (primarily Black and Latino) into subprime mortgages that led to the financial meltdown of 2007-2008; and in response to accusations of racial discrimination in its lending practices, Wells Fargo settled for $175 million in 2012 with pending litigations from several U.S cities about discriminatory practices.

I share the Afrikan Black Coalition's outrage and frustration resulting from the UC system's startling $425 million investment in Wells Fargo, one of the largest financiers of private prisons.

It is for these reasons that we stand in solidarity with the Afrikan Black Coalition in its call for justice for those who are systematically dehumanized by an unforgiving and unfair judicial system that continues to criminalize Black and brown bodies. We acknowledge these cases illustrate the evolution of America's legal institution to uphold race, gender, and class hierarchies. By investing in Wells Fargo Bank, the University of California is actively supporting a legacy of historical emphasis on profit margins at the expense of human beings, and the continued mass criminalization of Black existence. It is an ethical embarrassment and a clear disregard for Black and immigrant lives for the UC to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Wells Fargo as a financier of private prisons. In the age of Black Lives Matter and a reinvigorated Black Freedom Struggle, the UC should NOT be bankrolling the inhuman mass incarceration regime that has gripped America.

I am outraged that Wells Fargo spends almost $1 billion funding modern-day slave plantations. The University of California should not be in business with such an immoral bank!

In Solidarity and Struggle,

Afrikan Black Coalition

Sign now →







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:


Major Tillery filed a civil rights lawsuit pro se against John Wetzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC), SCI Mahanoy Superintendent John Kerestes, SCI Frackville Superintendent Brenda Tritt and 17 other prison officials. The DOC punished and retaliated against Tillery for acts of solidarity with Mumia Abu-Jamal and other prisoners fighting for the fundamental human right of medical care. The lawsuit was filed in the Schuylkill County Court of Common Please on January 5, 2015:

This is a civil rights action brought by Major George Tillery, a 65 year-old African-American man to stop and remedy retaliation against him for his exercise of his First Amendment Rights. Tillery was subjected to numerous retaliatory acts by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and its employees, including medical neglect and medical mistreatment, unjustified cell searches, transfer to another cell block, loss of his prison job and precipitous transfer from SCI Mahanoy to SCI Frackville and then being set-up with a false misconduct and given over four months in disciplinary custody (solitary confinement).

This retaliation was intended to punish and stop Tillery from filing grievances challenging medical neglect and mistreatment of him and other prisoners, including the well-known journalist and former death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. This retaliation was punishment for Tillery continuing to publicly advocate for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and to publicly expose the DOC's neglect and mistreatment of prisoner's medical problems as well as the DOC's retaliation against Tillery; and continuing to file grievances objecting to these retaliatory actions by prison officials.

Throughout his over thirty years in prison serving a sentence of life without parole, Tillery has challenged his conviction and sentence, and unconstitutional restrictions on access to courts, prison conditions including security classification and placement procedures, medical treatment, and housing conditions on behalf of himself and other prisoners.  He was held in solitary confinement in super-max institutions in the federal and Pennsylvania prison systems for over twenty of those years.

Tillery was the lead plaintiff in Tillery v. Owens, a class action lawsuit filed July 23, 1987, challenging the constitutionality of the conditions of confinement at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh ("SCIP") located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It started as a pro se legal action by Tillery. It resulted in an historic legal order requiring remediation of unconstitutional prison conditions including deficient security, fire protection, access to the courts, over-crowded housing, medical care, mental health care and dental services. The DOC was required to make prison renovations costing more than a million dollars. See Tillery v. Owens, 719 F.Supp. 1256 (W.D.Pa.1989).

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.

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)  Inky the Octopus Escapes From a New Zealand Aquarium

It was an audacious nighttime escape.

After busting through an enclosure, the nimble contortionist quietly crossed the floor, slithered through a narrow drain hole about six inches in diameter and jumped into the sea. Then he disappeared.

This was no Houdini, but rather a common New Zealand octopus called Inky, about the size of a soccer ball.

The breakout at the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, which has captured the imagination of New Zealanders and made headlines around the world, apparently began when Inky slipped through a small gap at the top of his tank.

Octopus tracks suggest he then scampered eight feet across the floor and slid down a 164-foot-long drainpipe that dropped him into Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of North Island, according to reports in New Zealand's news media.

The aquarium's keepers noticed the escape when they came to work and discovered that Inky was not in his tank. A less independence-minded octopus, Blotchy, remained behind.

The aquarium's manager, Rob Yarrall, told Radio New Zealand that employees had searched the aquarium's pipes after discovering Inky's trail, to no avail.

The escape happened several months ago, but it only recently came to light. "He managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean, and off he went," Mr. Yarrall said. "Didn't even leave us a message."

Inky's escape surprised few in the world of marine biology, where octopuses are known for their strength, dexterity and intelligence.

Alix Harvey, an aquarist at the Marine Biological Association in England, noted that octopuses, members of a class of marine animals including squid and cuttlefish called Cephalopoda, have shown themselves to be adept at escaping through spaces as small as a coin, constrained only by their beaks, the only inflexible part of their bodies.

Ms. Harvey said that octopuses had also been documented opening jarsand sneaking through tiny holes on boats, and that they could deflect predators by spraying an ink that lingers in the water and acts as a decoy. Some have been seen hauling coconut shells to build underwater shelters.

"Octopuses are fantastic escape artists," she said. "They are programmed to hunt prey at night and have a natural inclination to move around at night."

She continued, "They have a complex brain, have excellent eyesight, and research suggests they have an ability to learn and form mental maps."

Ms. Harvey recalled one wily octopus at a British aquarium that escaped nightly from his tank, slithered to a nearby tank to snack on fish for dinner, and returned home.

Octopuses' intelligence, she said, was partly an evolutionary response to their habitation in complex environments such as coral reefs, in which the animals need to hide from predators and sneak up on their prey.

Inky is not the first octopus to attract the spotlight. In the summer of 2010, Paul, an octopus in Germany, gained worldwide attention when he appeared to correctly pick the winning team in all seven of Germany's games at the World Cup in South Africa — a feat that inspired a song. He has been immortalized in Oberhausen, Germany, with a six-foot plastic replica of him clutching a soccer ball.



2)  Greece Holds Activists as Migrants and Police Clash Anew at Macedonia Border

ATHENS — Clashes erupted at Greece's northern border for the second time in three days on Wednesday, with the Macedonian police firing tear gas on scores of migrants as they protested border closings that have left more than 12,000 stranded in a makeshift refugee camp.

The protests in Idomeni, a town in Greece on the border with Macedonia, came as Greek authorities arrested 14 activists there, saying that they had incited the migrants to storm the razor-wire fence dividing the two countries.

The police accused the activists, from Britain, Germany and other European countries, of encouraging the migrants to protest by telling them that doing so would arouse sympathy among European governments and in that way help reopen borders and let them proceed on what was once the main migrant path to Germany, where most say they want to go.

Around 300 migrants, including women and children, were injured on Sunday when they sought to break through the border fence and the Macedonian police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

Greek television showed a crowd of migrants on Wednesday, their faces covered with scarves, chanting, "Open the border!" as the Greek police moved in to restore calm. Macedonian police officers could be seen sitting on several tanks lined up on their side of the fence.

Less than two months after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece warned that Europe's migration policies risked turning his country into a "warehouse for souls," Athens is struggling to manage the tide of people trapped in Greece since Balkan nations, like Macedonia, closed their borders, trying to avert a chaotic flow of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants into Europe like that of last year.

Since a European Union deal with Turkey to try to stem Europe's migrant crisis went into effect on March 20, migrants who now arrive in Greece from Turkey face deportation. But the migrants, like those in Idomeni, who arrived before that date now find themselves stuck in recession-hit Greece, unable to make their way to their preferred destinations in Northern Europe.

The Greek government is overwhelmed by asylum applications from tens of thousands of migrants who realize they cannot move. Many are biding their time in Greece as they try to figure out what to do if their applications are rejected and they face deportation.

In the meantime, numerous countries have revived border controls 20 years after the so-called Schengen agreement permitted largely passport-free travel among European Union members.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, warned on Tuesday that it might soon authorize member states to extend border controls for up to two years instead of the normal six months, if Greece does not quickly outline how it plans to tighten control of its borders.

The commission said Greece had still not made adequate progress in registering thousands of migrants throughout the country. Analysts and European politicians have warned that reinstating border controls could deal a sharp blow to the European Union economy.



3)  In Flint, Rashes Stir Fears of Showering as Scientists Hunt for Culprit

FLINT, Mich. — Two years after Flint switched the source of its water, setting off a citywide health crisis, residents are still dealing with bottled water, filters and the inconvenience of living without safe drinking water. But near the top of the list of daily challenges that residents face is how and where to shower.

Reports of rashes, itchiness and hair loss are widespread, despite assurances from government scientists that they have not found any evidence that the city's lead-tainted water is unsafe for bathing.

The complaints are so persistent — and the anxiety is so high — that Dr. Nicole Lurie, an assistant secretary at the United States Department of Health and Human Services who is coordinating the federal recovery effort here, said she had asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency to work with the state on investigating whether the water quality was contributing to skin problems.

Many residents are convinced that showering in the water is harmful. Some have taken to bathing infrequently, dashing into and out of the shower once a week with their mouths tightly shut. Others wash only with baby wipes — or, if they can, at the homes of friends or relatives outside Flint. Many said they mourned the loss of the long, hot showers of their past.

"You wonder what you're stepping into when you're getting into the shower and just trying to make it as quick as possible," said the Rev. Rigel J. Dawson, pastor of the North Central Church of Christ, where some members have been trying to help others find places outside the city to bathe. "That uncertainty really kind of plays on you after a while; it wears you down."

The city began using the Flint River as its water supply in April 2014 to save money, but it failed to add chemicals to prevent pipe corrosion, causing lead to leach into the water system. The investigation is focused only on rashes that have developed or worsened since Flint switched back to using Detroit water in October, because scientists "can only test the water that's there now," said Dr. Jevon McFadden, a medical epidemiologist for the C.D.C.

While the level of contamination in Flint's water is declining, the lead levels remain dangerous. But federal and state officials have repeatedly said residents cannot get lead poisoning from bathing in lead-laced water unless they ingest it.

Continue reading the main story

The scientists' investigation involves extensively interviewing people with rashes, testing the water in their homes and referring them to local dermatologists, who are seeing them at no charge. Dr. McFadden said the investigation was looking for potential irritants in the water, including more than 20 heavy metals, a range of organic compounds, and byproducts of chlorine and other disinfectants.

So far the investigation has not turned up an obvious culprit, he said, though he added, "We are still very early in the process of pulling together data."

As of Tuesday, investigators had talked to 538 people who complained of rashes or other skin problems. Of those, 388 qualified for the study because they had an active rash that appeared after the city switched back to Detroit water.

Strikingly, more than 80 percent reported changing their bathing habits substantially because of the water crisis, Dr. McFadden said.

"We may not have identified a cause yet," he said, "but we certainly know this is a real challenge for the people of Flint, and we want to do everything we possibly can to try to get to the bottom of it."

Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech professor who helped identify and expose Flint's lead problem, said there might never be a eureka moment connecting the rashes to something in the water. That is because scientific studies proving such a link are practically nonexistent, Dr. Edwards said during a news conference on Tuesday.

"That doesn't mean the water is not causing the rashes somehow," he said. "But we don't have the scientific understanding to prove cause and effect."

Dr. Walter Barkey, who is among four local dermatologists evaluating rashes as part of the investigation, said that about 70 percent of the people they had examined appeared to have eczematous dermatitis, a broad category of rash that may be caused by irritants or allergens.

Some people are genetically predisposed to the condition, Dr. Barkey said, and it is often exacerbated by cold, dry weather and stress, both of which have been in abundance in Flint since the lead contamination was revealed last fall. In general, he said, the spectrum of rashes seen by the volunteer team of dermatologists was similar to what they had seen in patients not exposed to Flint water.

"Add to that people changing their personal bathing habits, and it's a perfect storm for the situation we are in, basically," Dr. Barkey said. "But a lot of these people have a history that correlates with the water. They are definitely mistrustful of everything, and I don't blame them."

Dr. McFadden said the investigators hoped to have some preliminary findings on the rashes by the end of this month.

Dr. Edwards said that while he believed that Flint residents "should have no more concerns about taking a bath or shower at present than anyone in any other city," he would not blame anyone for refusing to believe it.

"Some of those people are probably never going to take a bath or shower again without some level of fear," he said, "given their experience."

Marla Garland said she started to worry about the safety of the water this year when she felt an unpleasant tingly sensation during her weekly showers and itched ferociously afterward. She stopped bathing at home last month and joined a Y.M.C.A. in Flushing, a town bordering Flint, so she could shower in peace.

"It was like fire ants biting me," Ms. Garland, 42, said, describing how she felt after bathing at home. "I scratched so hard I had bruises on my arms and legs."

"Some people still say, 'Are you sure it's not psychosomatic?' " Ms. Garland added, tears welling in her eyes. "When you can't shower and you've got to find somewhere to go and your car's not working and you're thinking, 'I can't sell this house,' it all adds up, and it's very frustrating."

Tracey McCloud-Atkins, a dental assistant, lined up at a local church last month to get a coveted handout: a portable shower called a Pump-N-Spray. Members of Servants Without Borders, a charitable group based in Washington, traveled to Flint last month to give out more than 200 of the contraptions, which consist of a foot pedal and a nozzle that attach to a five-gallon jug of water. A spokeswoman for the group said it had received requests for 450 more and would return next month if it could raise enough money to buy them.

"My daughter is 17, and she uses it every day," said Ms. McCloud-Atkins, 54, who said they kept the water jug half full and added a gallon or two of boiled bottled water when they were ready to use it. "She's upset about not being able to take her hot baths. But who knows exactly what's in the water?"

Once a month, Darline Long and her husband, Charles, splurge on a hotel room outside Flint, where they and their daughter, Wendy, 36, who has cerebral palsy, soak in long baths and showers. At home, Ms. Long has been warming huge pots of water on the stove and pouring them over Wendy as she sits in a chair in their bathtub. The family members have all had rough, itchy skin for over a year, she said, which they are treating with hydrocortisone cream. Ms. Long said she was also losing her hair, a problem she is convinced is due to the water.

When they can bathe at a hotel, Ms. Long said, "I feel clean — I feel really, totally free from being afraid of lead water."

For Wendy, who has always loved baths, Ms. Long said, the hotel visits — including one at a Super 8 in neighboring Burton on Saturday — are particularly therapeutic.

"She was laughing and clapping her hands when she got in the water," Ms. Long said. "She slept a whole lot better that night."



4)  Panel Calls for Major Changes at Texas Jail That Held Sandra Bland

HEMPSTEAD, Tex. — A panel reviewing the Texas jail where a 28-year-old black woman, Sandra Bland, was found dead three days after being arrested in July has called for major changes in the treatment and medical screening of inmates.

"Presently, deputies screen arrestees for mental and medical problems, but this is not an accurate or efficient process," said a report by an independent committee charged with investigating practices and policies at the facility, the Waller County jail. "Deputies do not possess the training or expertise to evaluate the medical and mental health needs of inmates."

Lingering questions after Ms. Bland's death, which was ruled a suicide, focused on medical information on a booking form as she was being processed into the jail after a confrontational traffic stop. Ms. Bland responded "yes" on the form when asked whether she had ever attempted suicide, and told jailers that she was taking medication for epilepsy.

Committee members called for new policies requiring medical specialists to conduct medical and mental screening, and said deputies might not be qualified to deal with such issues.

"Often, deputies taking mental health history do not know what to do with this information once it made part of the file," the report said.

The panel also found that suicide prevention measures at the jail were applied "in a less than optimal manner."

The review committee, made up of four lawyers and a former judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, was formed after Ms. Bland was found hanging from a garbage bag in her jail cell.

Ms. Bland, who had recently moved to Texas to accept a job at Prairie View A&M University, was arrested on July 10 after being pulled over for failing to signal a lane change. The encounter turned tense, and the arresting trooper, Brian T. Encinia, eventually ordered her out of her car after she refused to put out a cigarette.

Trooper Encinia was fired by the Texas Department of Public Safety after being indicted on a perjury charge in January. He pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge. The grand jury declined to indict any of Ms. Bland's jailers.

Craig Washington, the committee chairman and a former congressman, told reporters that the panel had focused specifically on conditions in the jail and not on Ms. Bland's death or incarceration. Her name appeared only twice in the 11-page report, both times in reflective, tribute-like references.

"The committee was driven by Sandra Bland's words: 'I am going to Texas to make it better,' " members wrote in a two-sentence passage on cover page. Committee members also stated that, while studying "all areas" of the jail, "we are reminded of Sandra Bland's untimely death as perhaps the impetus for this review."

The panel issued nine recommendations, including building a new jail, buying body cameras, creating a digital booking process and separating jail administration from policing to enable deputies to concentrate on law enforcement.

Committee members, who participated in ride-alongs and were given access to the jail, said they had witnessed Sheriff Department employees insulting and dehumanizing people they encountered. The report called for "zero tolerance against the use of demeaning or derogatory language."

In a related recommendation, the committee called for mandatory psychological evaluations and anger management courses to help deputies cope with stress.

The sheriff, R. Glenn Smith, who participated in the committee's news conference, said he agreed with "about 99 percent" of the findings but suggested that he wanted to take a closer look at the recommendations on jail administration.

Mr. Washington, a lawyer in Houston, said the recommendations should also be broadly applied to other Texas sheriff's offices. "I think this could be a model to others in law enforcement," he said.



5)  Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Leader, Urges Britons to Vote to Stay in E.U.

LONDON — Until now, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party and a longtime critic of the European Union, has said relatively little about the coming referendum on the country's membership in the 28-nation bloc.

But on Thursday, he urged Britons to vote to stay in the union, "warts and all," describing it as a crucial tool against climate change and tax evasion, and saying there was a "strong socialist case" for remaining.

The intervention is significant because Mr. Corbyn, a left-winger, has won the support of many younger people, including students, who tend to vote in fewer numbers than older citizens.

The ability of those in the pro-European Union camp to rally their sympathizers could prove decisive in the referendum, which is scheduled for June 23.

"Many people are still weighing up how they will vote in this referendum," Mr. Corbyn said in a speech delivered in central London on Thursday.

"I appeal to everyone, especially young people who will live longest with the consequences, to make sure you are registered to vote," he added. "And to vote in June. This is about your future."

Mr. Corbyn's speech is welcome news for supporters of the "remain" campaign after a torrid period for the main advocate of their cause, Prime Minister David Cameron. His authority has been dented by the recent Panama Papers scandal, which led to his admission that he had profited from an offshore investment fund run by his father.

Though the Labour Party is overwhelmingly in favor of remaining in the European Union — unlike Mr. Cameron's Conservatives, who are deeply divided on the topic — there had been doubt about whether Mr. Corbyn would be active in the referendum campaign, or choose to stand aloof.

Mr. Corbyn had, however, been under internal pressure from Labour lawmakers — most of whom did not support his election as leader, but who had to accept him because of his overwhelming mandate among rank-and-file party members and supporters.

Mr. Corbyn voted against British membership to the European Union's forerunner, the European Economic Community, in a referendum in 1975.

During more than three decades in Parliament, he has also sided with critics of the European Union in many votes, a fact he referred to in the speech.

"Over the years, I have continued to be critical of many decisions taken by the E.U., and I remain critical of its shortcomings, from its lack of democratic accountability to the institutional pressure to deregulate or privatize public services," he said.

Nevertheless, Mr. Corbyn argued that it was "perfectly possible to be critical and still be convinced we need to remain a member," adding that "the European Union has brought investment, jobs and protection for workers, consumers and the environment, and offers the best chance of meeting the challenges we face in the 21st century."

He continued, "There is a strong socialist case for staying in the European Union, just as there are is also a powerful socialist case for reform and progressive change in Europe."

He also presented the European Union as a vital mechanism for cooperation in the international battle to "protect social and human rights, tackle climate change and clamp down on tax dodgers."

"You cannot build a better world unless you engage with the world, build allies and deliver change," he said. "The E.U., warts and all, has proved itself to be a crucial international framework to do that."

Mr. Corbyn said that if Britain quit the European Union, workers' rights that are currently enshrined in European legislation would be vulnerable to attack. "They'd dump rights on equal pay, working time, annual leave, for agency workers, and on maternity pay as fast as they could get away with it," he said.

Asked about increased migration into Britain, Mr. Corbyn defended the right of workers from other European Union nations to come to the country to live and work — just as Britons can do in other member states. "There is nothing wrong with people migrating to work across the Continent, but there has to be a level playing field on pay and conditions," he said.

Though Mr. Corbyn presented his arguments as heartfelt, some observers said that pressure from his colleagues may have been a factor in the timing and tone of his announcement.

John Mills, a prominent Labour supporter of British withdrawal, known as "Brexit," suggested that Mr. Corbyn had been influenced by the views of the lawmakers with whom he has clashed on many issues.

Mr. Mills told the BBC that there were only so many fronts on which Mr. Corbyn could fight with fellow Labour lawmakers.



6)  U.N. Reports Growing Inequality Among Children in Rich Nations

The wealthiest nations are failing the most disadvantaged of their children, the United Nations reported Wednesday in a study that showed widening disparities even between the middle and lowest household income levels.

The study, published by the United Nations Children's Fund, or Unicef, focused not on the gap between the richest and poorest segments of societies but rather on the widening disparities between children at the bottom and their peers in the middle.

The purpose of the study, Unicef said in releasing the report, was to "highlight how far children are falling behind in the dimensions of income, education, health and life satisfaction."

The study analyzed data from 41 countries of the European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It found that incomes in households below the median had grown more slowly than those above it, "fueling increases in poverty and deprivation among children."

While inequality gaps in child educational achievement narrowed between those in the lowest and middle groups in these countries, the study found that inequalities in health had widened.

In an overall ranking of the countries, Denmark is the leader, with relatively narrow inequality gaps between children at the low end of income distribution and those in the middle. The overall ranking is weakest for Turkey and Israel, which have the widest inequality gaps.

Disparities in child health, derived from a survey of school-age children that measured the frequency of their health complaints, widened in a majority of the countries, the study showed. The smallest gaps between children at the low end of income levels and those in the middle were found in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and the largest were in Turkey and Israel.

The study also showed that Canada, France, Iceland and Sweden had fallen in the overall rankings when compared with their performances in recent years. France and Canada, which had been ranked in the middle of the rankings, now are in the bottom third. Iceland and Sweden, which had been toward the top, now are barely above the bottom third.

In the household income category, two of the wealthiest countries — Japan and the United States — were in the bottom third in terms of the relative income gap, which reflects how far the poorest children have fallen behind those in the middle tier. In the United States, the household income disparity between the poorest children and those in the middle is nearly 59 percent, and in Japan it is slightly higher.



7)  In West Bank, Israel Imposes Pop-Up Checkpoints and Road Closings

AWARTA, West Bank — The freshly spray-painted signs in this hamlet outside Nablus are a symbol of the new normal in the West Bank, seven months into a scattershot wave of Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

With the Israeli military having shut down the main road, local teenagers put up signs to coax Palestinian drivers along circuitous routes to Ramallah, the seat of Palestinian government, and Huwara, a neighboring village.

Such pop-up checkpoints and closings lasting several days have disrupted the routines of Palestinian residents, whose ability to move through the occupied territory was already precarious. But the pinpointed strategy targeting mainly individual villages sporadically is a stark departure from the widespread closings and curfews Israelimposed on West Bank cities during the second intifada, making its effect harder for the world — and even people next door — to see and feel.

Palestinian officials and their backers denounce the road closings as collective punishment. They have not, however, gained much traction for protest among their own people, because residents of one village sometimes have no inkling what is happening a few miles away, and Ramallah, the center of West Bank political and civic life, has remained largely immune.

The Israeli military says the closings are aimed only at apprehending suspects and preventing further attacks in a wave that is far less severe, sustained or widespread than previous uprisings. Its calibrated approach has helped contain international condemnation of Israel's crackdown.

"You are seeing Israel operating on lessons learned from the second intifada," said Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst for the International Crisis Group. "Don't do generalized closures. Don't restrict work permits. Do the opposite."

He described the current methods as a "desire to keep everything localized and to minimize the negative effect for the population at large."

Since the surge of stabbings, shootings and vehicular attacks began in October, Palestinians have killed 26 Israelis, a Palestinian bystander and two Americans. The Palestinian Health Ministry counts more than 200 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces during that period, most during attacks or suspected attacks.

In addition to carrying out the closings, Israel has demolished at least 36 homes belonging to the families of Palestinians who perpetrated attacks. It has also delayed the return of some bodies of Palestinian assailants, citing concern about the funerals' fomenting further violence.

At the same time, despite the drumbeat of attacks, Israel has offered carrots as well as sticks, including 30,000 new permits for Palestinians to work in Israel, where day wages of $50 are double what they typically earn in the West Bank, bringing the total number of such permits to 88,000.

Asked about the road closings, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, denied that they were intended as broad punishment for Palestinians, and noted that certain West Bank locations "have been frequent hot spots" for attacks.

"Security measures have been utilized in order to prevent the daily attacks," Colonel Lerner said in an email, "and at the same time facilitated the daily access of tens of thousands of Palestinians to Israel and movement throughout the region."

But Ihab Hamad, a contractor who lives in the West Bank and has worked for years in Israel overseeing Palestinian construction crews, dismissed the recent increase in work permits as a poor salve against the closings. He said he was unable to obtain a permit this month, and suspects that is because he lives in a village near a road where Palestinian youths had recently thrown rocks at Israeli vehicles — a road lately subjected to closing.

"This scramble just took us 45 minutes," Mr. Hamad, 33, complained after completing a circuitous detour through backwater villages and across orchards. "Every time somebody throws a rock, are you going to close a road?"

The road closings come on top of existing checkpoints that have pushed many Palestinian-registered vehicles off a wider, well-paved byway that Israel built and maintains between its West Bank settlements and onto the often shabbier paths that crisscross underneath or run parallel to it.

One recent afternoon on the route from Ramallah to Nablus, Palestinian motorists bypassed a traffic jam caused by Israeli soldiers searching vehicles by driving through a nearby orchard. Further ahead, Palestinian cars were blocked from another road, forcing a detour through a steep, dusty quarry.

At the entrance to Nablus, two soldiers informed drivers that the road into the city would be open only until 5 p.m. — and the exit from the city onto the main road would not open until after 10.

The reason for the new restriction was unclear. Some Palestinians surmised that it was related to a larger checkpoint at a nearby junction that was the site of several attacks. Asked about it later, an Israeli military spokeswoman said the partial closing was to avoid backups while an infrastructure project was underway.

Local teenagers like Mahmoud Hussein tried to help by scrawling back-road directions. "We did the signs ourselves," he said as his buddies excitedly directed traffic through the village of Awarta.

The most continuous closing has been imposed in an always tense area of confrontation in the Old City of Hebron, the scene of multiple attacks targeting Israeli soldiers who guard Jewish settlers living in the area.

Since November, the Israeli military has prevented most Palestinians beyond the few dozen families registered as living in the adjacent area, known as Tel Rumeida, from entering it.

"Not one girl has become engaged, and not one girl has had a wedding," said Mufid al-Sharabati, whose five children include two single, marriage-age daughters. "Our suffering is great."

The Israeli military's efforts to shut down the violence is helped by the West Bank's topography, where Palestinian villages are dotted through rural hills, often interrupted by Jewish settlements. Only a few roads connect the villages, which Mr. Thrall, the International Crisis Group expert, said made it easier to "contain a fire and stop it from spreading."

After a Palestinian who shot and injured two soldiers March 11 was suspected to have fled to the village of Beit Urr al-Tahta, Israeli forces shut down a main road nearby. That effectively cut off seven villages, upturning the lives of their 35,000 residents. The usual 15-minute commute to Ramallah was suddenly a convoluted hourlong wiggle through narrow lanes and farm roads.

"The students are late for school, the teachers are late for school, the employees are late for work," said Ali Al-Shamy, a 60-year-old factory owner.

Mr. Shamy and other residents found the closing especially baffling because the road in question is generally used only by Palestinians, leaving little risk that would-be attackers would use it to hunt Israelis.

"I swear to God, they are just messing with us," grumbled Omar Mousa, a 50-year-old bus driver, who steered his vehicle onto the main road the morning after Israeli forces suddenly lifted their closing of the area.

He pointed to the nearby Route 443, the Israeli-built four-lane highway that hurtles through the West Bank, lined by barriers that largely prevent access from Palestinian communities. "We don't see them," he said.

Continue reading the main sto



8)  Microsoft Sues U.S. Over Orders Barring It From Revealing Surveillance

Big technology companies have usually played a defensive game with government prosecutors in their legal fight over customer information, fighting or bowing to requests for information one case at a time.

But now Microsoft, in a move that could broaden the debate over the balance between customer privacy and law enforcement needs, is going on the offense.

The software giant is suing the Justice Department, challenging its frequent use of secrecy orders that prevent Microsoft from telling people when the government obtains a warrant to read their emails.

In its suit, filed Thursday morning in Federal District Court in Seattle, Microsoft's home turf, the company asserts that the gag order statute in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 — as employed today by federal prosecutors and the courts — is unconstitutional.

The statute, according to Microsoft, violates the Fourth Amendment right of its customers to know if the government searches or seizes their property, and it breaches the company's First Amendment right to speak to its customers.

Microsoft's suit, unlike Apple's fight with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over access to a locked iPhone, is not attached to a single case. Instead, it is intended to challenge the legal process regarding secrecy orders.

The company is also trying to fuel a public debate about the frequent use of secrecy orders in government investigations and, in the process, portray itself as an advocate of its customers' privacy. The suit itself could plod through the courts, with appeals going on for months or even years.

Microsoft is drawing attention to legal issues that have become more acute as tech companies move their customers' personal and business information into so-called cloud-computing systems. The largest such digital storehouses of personal email and documents are operated by big tech companies like Microsoft, Google and Apple.

Seizing information from file drawers or personal computers used to require entering a building to examine paper or a hard drive. Typically, the target of an investigation knew about it.

Not so in the cloud computing era, when investigators can bypass an individual and go straight to the company that hosts that information. And when courts issue secrecy orders, often with no time limit, a target may never know that information was taken.

Microsoft, in its suit, contends that the government has "exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations."

In an interview, Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, said, "People should not lose their rights just because they are storing their information in the cloud."

Microsoft, like Google and Apple, fields thousands of requests a year from federal and state prosecutors for customer information. The companies issue periodic reports with the totals.

But, Mr. Smith said, it was the rising portion of gag orders attached to the information warrants that led to the suit. From September 2014 to March 2016, Microsoft received 5,624 federal demands in the United States for customer information or data. Nearly half — 2,576 — were accompanied by secrecy orders.

Mr. Smith called the growing share of secrecy orders "fairly shocking," suggesting they had become a routine process rather than an exception.

The suit positions Microsoft as a champion of its customers' privacy and draws attention to a legal process many may not be aware of.

"Most people do think of their email as their personal property, wherever it happens to reside," said A. Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami. "But there is a disconnect between behavior and expectations and the statute. And Microsoft is inviting a court to bring the law in line with people's expectations."

Beyond image-burnishing, the suit is a pragmatic attempt to move away from litigating cases one by one, which is costly and time-consuming.

"Microsoft is going on offense, but they're kind of forced into it," Mr. Froomkin said.

Judges grant the secrecy orders. Microsoft sees only the warrant for the information demanded and not the argument made by the prosecutors to justify a gag order. But the Microsoft legal team looked at the high percentage of secrecy orders granted in the year and a half through March of this year, and concluded that prosecutors often relied on a vague standard that there was a "reason to believe" that disclosure might hinder an investigation.

Microsoft, Mr. Smith said, "readily recognizes that nondisclosure orders are appropriate and necessary" when there is a risk of endangering a person's life or that crucial evidence might be destroyed, for example. "What concerns us is the low standard the government has to bear and the absence of a time limit," Mr. Smith added.

About two-thirds of the secrecy orders Microsoft received in the span it audited had no time limits. In the physical world, so-called sneak-and-peek warrants for secret searches are granted to look at documents without notifying a target. But most secrecy orders delay notification for a fixed period of time, typically 30 to 90 days, and detailed evidence is required for any extensions.

Microsoft, Mr. Smith said, has talked to other major tech companies, and others may join with briefs in support of Microsoft.

In addition to challenging the Justice Department and the courts, Microsoft is trying to prod Congress into looking at the issue. In both the House of Representatives and the Senate, legislation has been proposed to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. But Mr. Smith said he saw little prospect of any substantive action in Congress anytime soon.

"We'll keep taking these ideas to the Justice Department, Congress and the courts," Mr. Smith said.



9)  Student Sues Police Over Baton Encounter in Brooklyn High School

An 18-year-old Brooklyn high school student has sued the New York Police Department after he was struck with a baton at least twice by an officer in an episode captured on a cellphone video.

In the lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, the student, Yordy Aragonez, claims that the officer used unreasonable force when breaking up a fight at Progress High School in the East Williamsburg section on Dec. 21, 2015. The suit was reported by NY1.

The police said that officers responded that day to reports of several large fights at the school.

Mr. Aragonez claims in his suit that he was pulled into a fight because he and his cousin were defending themselves after being "aggressively confronted and set upon by a group of male students." Then, the suit says, Mr. Aragonez was grabbed by the officer and pushed into a room where a class was in session.

A video taken by a student and broadcast by NY1 showed the officer, named in the suit as Kareem Phillips, yelling at Mr. Aragonez, knocking him to the ground and into a desk and hitting him with the baton.

"As officers attempted to break up the altercation, an officer used a baton," the Police Department said in a statement on Saturday. "As a matter of practice, the incident is under review by the Internal Affairs Bureau."

Mr. Aragonez was not immediately available for comment on Saturday, but in an interview with NY1, he said he had not resisted. "He was just hitting me," he said. "I wasn't even trying to get up or nothing."

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the union that represents New York police officers, said it was not clear whether the officer could have handled the episode differently.

"A snippet of video of a chaotic situation never tells the entire story," Patrick J. Lynch, the association's president, said in a statement on Saturday. "There is an investigation underway, and until all the facts are gathered, we must all withhold judgment."



10)  U.S. Comes Up Short on Corporate Transparency

"Attention has focused on Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada, which aggressively market tax advantages for offshore companies. But in fact, full disclosure of ownership is not required in any of the 50 states."

PARIS — Journalists have done their job, again, with another enormous leak of documents outing a global list of rich and powerful people who hid their wealth in offshore companies.

This time, prompted by the Panama Papers, several European governments have followed up with new measures intended to rip away the veil of secrecy that is costing them billions of dollars in tax revenues.

"Populist outrage doesn't by itself collect a single extra pound or dollar in tax or put a single criminal in jail," said George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain, at a news conference on Thursday in Washington.

To that end, the biggest economies in the European Union — Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — announced a plan to automatically share information about the true, or "beneficial," owners of shell companies and overseas trusts.

This is good news for the global campaign to expose the ill-gotten gains of the corrupt and the secretly held wealth of tax evaders who benefit from a system that rewards anonymity.

But there is one major player that is coming up short, and that is the United States, which in 2015 ranked third, behind Switzerland and Hong Kong, in a financial secrecy index published by the Tax Justice Network, a nonprofit organization based in Washington.

The Obama administration has recently taken steps to require banks to check the identities of clients setting up companies and to track the ownership of expensive real estate.

Resistance to greater corporate transparency is still strong at the state level, however, where companies and corporations are registered.

Attention has focused on Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada, which aggressively market tax advantages for offshore companies. But in fact, full disclosure of ownership is not required in any of the 50 states.

This has created an enormous black hole not only for tax inspectors but also for law enforcement officials who "can't follow the money," said Tom Cardamone, managing director of Global Financial Integrity, a research and advocacy group based in Washington. "What we have in place is compete secrecy, and it is secrecy that is the problem," he said.

A bipartisan bill to make the states require disclosure of ownership is now before Congress, but it has stalled.

Opposition comes from the American Bar Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a less-known but powerful lobby, the National Association of Secretaries of State. That final group fears a loss of revenue for state budgets if more transparency is required, said Robert Palmer, campaign director at Global Witness, an anticorruption organization.

"Passing legislation in the U.S. is challenging," he said.

Failure to respond to the worldwide clamor for financial accountability looks hypocritical from afar, considering the United States' aggressive extraterritorial pursuit of foreign companies that violate its Foreign Corrupt Practices law and its demands that foreign banks provide information about accounts held by American citizens.

"Though the U.S. has been a pioneer in defending itself from foreign secrecy jurisdictions it provides little information in return to other countries, making it a formidable, harmful and irresponsible secrecy jurisdiction," according to a Tax Justice Network report.

Though legislation in the United States has faltered, other countries began moving ahead with the creation of registries of corporate beneficial owners even before the Panama Papers came to light. Such a registry will be available to the public in Britain on June 30, while national registries required by the European Union will be ready by 2017, although access to their information will be more restricted.

Pressure is now growing on Britain to force its overseas territories — like the British Virgin Islands, which is home, on paper, to more than half of the companies revealed by the Panama leak — to follow suit, a subject sure to dominate an anticorruption summit meeting in London next month.

Transparency advocates hope similar pressure will build in the United States to shine a light on what Mr. Osborne called "those hiding spaces, those dark corners of the global financial system" right in its own backyard.

As Mr. Palmer says, "I don't think we should have to rely on journalists."



11)  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."



12)  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.



13)  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."

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14)  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.



15)  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."



16)  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.



17)  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."



18)  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."



19)  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.
























Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com
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