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:





Demonstrate – Demand GM pay $4 billion to Flint

General Motors is Guilty in Flint!

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

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

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

For more info: 313-680-5508




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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



TAKE ACTION: Mumia is sick

Date & Time: 

Thursday, March 24, 2016 - 18:00



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

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

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

Call, fax and email with the following demands: 

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

Tom Wolf, PA Governor 

Phone  717-787-2500

Fax 717-772-8284                                             

Email governor@pa.gov

John Wetzel, PA Department of Corrections Secretary

Phone:  717-728-2573717 787 2500

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Theresa DelBalso, SCI Mahanoy Prison Superintendent

Phone: 570-773-2158

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

Phone:  717-728-5309 x 5312

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

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

Phone:  800-592-2974 x 5783

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

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

Thank you for keeping Mumia in your heart and mind,

Noelle Hanrahan

Director, Prison Radio


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







This message from:

Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

06 January 2016

Mumia Is Innocent!  Free Mumia!




Imam Jamil (H.Rap Brown) moved

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

Sign the Petition:

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

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

ASAP: The Forgotten Imam Project

P.O. Box 373

Four Oaks, NC 27524


Luqman Abdullah-ibn Al-Sidiq





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


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















  We need people to do the following things

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information: www.Justice4MajorTillery.blogspot.com 

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


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

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

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

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

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the podcast or read the full transcript here


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

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

Chelsea Manning, Guardian OpEd

Feb 8, 2016

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

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

Read the complete op-ed here




When Drone Whistleblowers are Under Attack, 

What Do We Do?


 We honor Stephan, Michael, Brandon and Cian!

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

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


1.  Sign up on this support network:


2.  Sign this petition  NOW:


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

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


Statement of Support for Drone Whistleblowers

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

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

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

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


URGENT: Sign and Share NOW! Drone Whistleblower Protection Petition


Contacting your Government

- White House comment line: 202-456-1111

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

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

- Email your Senators and Representatives:


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

- Contact John Brennan, CIA Director: Go to

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

For more information on the 4 Drone Whistleblowers:



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



Code Pink Women for Peace: eastbaycodepink@gmail.com



Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

Sign the Petition:


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

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

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

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

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

Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,

James Clark
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

News Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



For Immediate Release – Thursday, October 29, 2015 

Solitary Prisoners' Lawyers Slam CDCR for Sleep Deprivation

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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




Sign the Petition:


Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:

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

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

American Federation of Teachers

Campaign for America's Future

Courage Campaign

Daily Kos

Democracy for America


Project Springboard

RH Reality Check


Student Debt Crisis

The Nation

Working Families



Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

Dear Supporters and Friends,

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

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

My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

                          Lorenzo's wife,

                           Tazza Salvatto

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

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

Write: Lorenzo Johnson

            DF 1036

            SCI Mahanoy

            301 Morea Rd.

            Frackville, PA 17932

 Email: Through JPay using the code:

              Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


              Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


              Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

Have a wonderful day!

- The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

Write: Lorenzo Johnson

            DF 1036

            SCI Mahanoy

            301 Morea Rd.

            Frackville, PA 17932

 Email: Through JPay using the code:

              Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


              Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com




Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser



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

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

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

Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had

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


Please send letters to:

Marquette Branch Prison

Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671

1960 US Hwy 41 South

Marquette, MI 49855

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

c/o Dorothy Pinkney

1940 Union St.

Benton Harbor, MI 49022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney

Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,

Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<

Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,

David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice

Sara Flounders – International Action Center


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

Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

Secretary of the Army John McHugh

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

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

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

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

Secretary of the Army John McHugh

101 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0101

The Judge Advocate General

2200 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-2200

Army Clemency and Parole Board

251 18th St, Suite 385

Arlington, VA 22202-3532

Directorate of Inmate Administration

Attn: Boards Branch

U.S. Disciplinary Barracks

1301 N. Warehouse Road

Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304

Suggestions for letters send to DoD officials:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courage to Resist

484 Lake Park Ave. #41

Oakland, CA 94610












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

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

APRIL 22, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

APRIL 22, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



5)  Housing Bias Outlasts Ruling in a Long Island Village

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



6) Missing Mexican Students Suffered a Night of 'Terror,' Investigators Say

MEXICO CITY — Municipal police officers encircled the bus, detonated tear gas, punctured the tires and forced the college students who were onboard to get off.

"We're going to kill all of you," the officers warned, according to the bus driver. A policeman approached the driver and pointed a pistol at his chest. "You, too," the officer said.

With a military intelligence official looking on and state and federal police officers in the immediate vicinity, witnesses said, the students were put into police vehicles and taken away. They have not been seen since.

They were among the 43 students who vanished in the city of Iguala one night in September 2014 amid violent, chaotic circumstances laid bare by an international panel of investigators who have been examining the matter for more than a year. The reason for the students' abduction remains a mystery.

Despite apparent stonewalling by the Mexican government in recent months, the panel's two reports on the case, the most recent of which was released on Sunday, provide the fullest accounting of the events surrounding the students' disappearance, which also left six other people dead, including three students, and scores wounded.

The reports describe a night of confusion and terror for the students and city residents, and a seemingly clinical, coordinated harvest by Mexican law enforcement officials and other gunmen operating in and around Iguala, in Guerrero, one of Mexico's poorest and most violent states.

The government said 123 people, including 73 municipal police officials, had been detained on organized-crime charges in relation to the night's events, and the Mexican authorities have linked the Iguala police force to a powerful drug gang.

The 43 students were undergraduates at Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos, a teachers college, in Ayotzinapa, with a history of activism.

They were among about 100 students who headed out on the evening of Sept. 26, 2014, with a plan to steal some buses. This was a tradition that students at the school had done for many years: They would take the buses, use them to transport their peers to an event and then return them when they were done. The bus companies and the authorities mostly tolerated it.

The plan for the outing that evening was to secure several buses to carry students to a march in Mexico City several days later to commemorate a student massacre that had occurred in 1968.

Riding in two buses they had commandeered on earlier occasions, they stationed themselves on a main road on the outskirts of Iguala, planning to intercept a few buses.

"All of us were happy, having a blast, relaxed, happy with the drivers, playing," a student later testified, according to the panel's first report. It relied on testimony from survivors, government security officials and other witnesses as well as reports from an interagency government command center.

But the region's security forces were already onto the students' plans. The federal police stepped up patrols near the buses, and the command center linking local, state and federal police forces, as well as the military, kept tabs on the students.

At 8:15 p.m., the students made their first strike, boarding a bus that had stopped in front of a restaurant. The driver knew the drill; bus companies generally instruct drivers that in the event of a student hijacking, they should remain with the buses to ensure their safe return.

The bus driver said he needed to make a pit stop at Iguala's central bus station. At the station, the driver surprised the students and locked them in the bus.

Around 9:15 p.m., the students in the two other buses arrived at the station and freed their classmates. The group commandeered three more buses, leaving behind one that had no driver. The five buses then left for Ayotzinapa, three heading toward Iguala's northern beltway, two toward the southern beltway.

Then the shooting began.

Several police cars pursuing the three northbound buses started firing warning shots into the air. But the threat of violence did not deter the students.

A group of them left the buses and started throwing rocks at a police car that had blocked their path until the car drove away. At another point, a student sneaked up behind a police officer and tried to disarm him. As other police officers came to their colleague's aid, the student ran away, and a police bullet ricocheted and struck him, lightly wounding him.

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As the convoy resumed its northward course through the city, police bullets hit the buses. The students threw themselves flat on the floor but ordered the drivers to keep going.

Near the beltway, however, the police had blocked the road with a vehicle. Several students got off the buses and tried to lift the cruiser out of the roadway, but officers posted on the highway opened fire on the group, forcing the students to seek cover behind the buses. Investigators later counted 30 bullet holes in one of the buses.

As bullets flew and windows shattered, one of the students, Aldo Gutiérrez, was shot in the head. The first call to an emergency dispatch number was received at 9:48 p.m. Police officers shot at students who tried to rush to Mr. Gutiérrez's aid.

Another student was shot in a hand; the bullet sheared off several fingers. He sought shelter behind a truck, where two police officers ran over to him, and kicked and punched him. A third student was struck in an arm by a bullet. Ambulance crews managed to retrieve the three wounded students and take them to a hospital, along with a fourth student who suffered an asthma attack.

"They all felt confusion, terror and helplessness," wrote the panel, five lawyers and human rights experts from around Latin America.

At one point, the police made a group of students who were hiding in the third bus disembark and lie on the ground. About 10:50 p.m., they were taken away in six or seven patrol cars. They are among the 43 students who disappeared.

Meanwhile, the two buses that took the southerly route had also run into trouble. About 9:40 p.m., just as the three-bus convoy was intercepted near the northern beltway, the police cut off one of the southbound buses, shattered its windows with tree branches and shot tear gas inside to flush out the passengers.

The passengers were pulled from the bus and taken away: the rest of the 43 missing students.

Elsewhere in the city, the police had stopped the other southbound bus. The students on board, who had received word by telephone of the other attacks, got off the bus and fled into woods.

In a measure of the violent pandemonium that overcame Iguala that night, another bus and several other civilian vehicles came under attack even though they had nothing to do with the students.

Los Avispones, a soccer team of high schoolers from the city of Chilpancingo, had played a match that night against a local team in Iguala. By 11:15 p.m., the players were aboard their bus and heading home. Their route out of Iguala took them through a state police roadblock where they were rerouted because of the confrontation between the students and the police, witnesses said.

About seven miles outside Iguala, gunmen fired on the bus, killing a soccer player and the driver, and wounding seven other passengers. The attackers also fired at other passing cars, killing a 40-year-old woman who was riding in a taxi.

Witnesses said the gunmen had included police officers, and ballistic tests found that some of the weapons used in the attack belonged to the Iguala municipal police department.

"The most probable hypothesis is that the bus had been confused for one of those carrying the student teachers," the investigators wrote.

Some soccer players, including one who had been wounded in the eye and was bleeding profusely, managed to drive to a nearby army battalion but were offered no help. "They indicated that they couldn't do anything because it wasn't in their jurisdiction," a witness testified.

Elsewhere, on routes leading from Iguala to Ayotzinapa, at least two roadblocks were set up by unidentified gunmen, and one by police officers from the city of Huitzuco. Two civilians were wounded by gunfire at one of the roadblocks.

The expert panel concluded that "the joint action shows a coordinated modus operandi to stop the flight of the buses."

Meanwhile, at the entrance to the northern beltway, students who had survived the police fusillade against the three-bus convoy began to emerge from their hiding places and regroup at the scene around 11 p.m. The police had left by then, and the students sought to record the evidence of the attack while trying to communicate with their classmates in the other buses.

Journalists, as well as some teachers, began to show up, and by midnight an impromptu news conference was taking shape in the middle of the road.

About 12:30 a.m., a white sport utility vehicle and a black car drove by, their occupants taking photos of the gathering. Some were wearing bulletproof vests and hoods. Some witnesses said they also had seen a police car in the area.

Fifteen minutes later, the vehicles returned, and three men jumped out and fired on the news conference from close range. Two young men were killed, and other people, including students and teachers, were wounded.

The survivors fled into the surrounding blocks. A teacher and several students ran to a clinic to find help for the wounded. No doctor was present, but despite their appeals to emergency dispatchers and to military personnel who appeared at the clinic, an ambulance did not arrive for more than an hour.

As late as 3 a.m., the bodies of the two young men still lay in the street, uncovered, in the pouring rain.

By dawn, the situation had calmed down, and the surviving students who had been hiding across the city received word by telephone that it was safe to come out. Over the course of the morning, they gathered at the local offices of the attorney general, where they met with the authorities.

That morning, the authorities also found the body of another student, Julio César Mondragón, who had been at the news conference. He had fled when the shooting began and had become separated from the group.

His facial skin and muscles had been torn away from his head, his skull was fractured in several places, and his internal organs were ruptured. His condition, the investigators wrote, "shows the level of atrocities committed that night."



7) President Obama signs $8.7 billion food stamp cut into law

By Ned Resnikoff

02/07/14 03:40 PMUPDATED  08/25/14 09:29 AM


On Friday, President Obama added his signature to legislation that will cut $8.7 billion in food stamp benefits over the next 10 years, causing 850,000 households to lose an average of $90 per month. The signing of the legislation known as the 2014 Farm Bill occurred at a public event in East Lansing, Mich.

The food stamp cuts are one component of a massive omnibus bill which also includes billions of dollars in crop insurance and various other programs and subsidies involving American agriculture. Before he signed the legislation, President Obama praised it as an example of bipartisan problem-solving that would help create jobs and move the American economy forward

"Congress passed a bipartisan Farm Bill that is going to make a big difference in communities across the country," said the president.

Obama's remarks also focused heavily on economic inequality, which he has previously called "the defining challenge of our time." The Farm Bill, he said, would "give more Americans a shot at opportunity."

When House Republicans originally argued for a food stamp cut of between $20.5 billion and $39 billion, the White House threatened to veto both of those proposals. During his Friday speech, the president did not say whether he was satisfied with the final $8.7 billion figure, or even mention the cuts at all. Instead, he praised the food stamp program and said that the final Farm Bill preserved much-needed benefits.

"My position has always been that any Farm Bill I sign must include protections for vulnerable Americans, and thanks to the hard work of [Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich] and others, it does just that," he said.

Stabenow, who played a key role in Farm Bill negotiations, fully embraced the cuts in a speech delivered shortly before the president took the stage.

"This is a nutrition bill that makes sure families have a safety net just like farmers do," she said. "The savings in food assistance came solely from addressing fraud and misuse while maintaining the important benefits for families that need temporary help."

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One before the speech, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made much the same point, saying that the $8.7 billion cut "probably makes the program more legitimate than it was."

In fact, the benefits reduction would eliminate the state-level "Heat and Eat" policiescurrently employed in 15 states and Washington, D.C. Left-wing opponents of the Farm Bill, including Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., expect the burden of burden of the cuts to fall disproportionately on the elderly and disabled.

"Poor people are getting screwed by this Republican majority [in the House] and Democrats in my opinion aren't doing enough to push back," he said. "I wish there had been more of a fight from the White House and others."

McGovern also admitted to being "puzzled" by the White House's silence on hunger and food stamp cuts. He predicted that Republicans' success in getting a several billion dollar food stamp cut meant that they would soon try again for even more.

"They know they can't get a $40 billion cut right off the bat, so what they're doing is they're chipping away at it," he said.



8) Tamir Rice's Family to Receive $6 Million From Cleveland

APRIL 25, 2016


CHICAGO — The family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy whose fatal shooting by the Cleveland police in 2014 prompted national outrage, is set to receive $6 million from the city in a settlement announced Monday in federal court records.

The settlement, which would be the latest in a series of seven-figure payouts by major American cities to the families of African-Americans who died at the hands of officers, spares Cleveland the possibility of a federal civil rights trial that could have brought new attention to Tamir's death and to the city's troubled police force. It also allows the city to avoid the possibility of an even larger judgment.

The agreement must still be approved by a probate court. Under the terms of the settlement, Cleveland does not admit wrongdoing.

For the Rice family, which had called for criminal charges against the rookie officer who opened fire almost immediately after encountering Tamir on Nov. 22, 2014, the settlement means a significant payment and an end to civil proceedings. But it does nothing to change the decision by a Cuyahoga County grand jury last year to not indict the officer, Timothy Loehmann. Lawyers for Tamir's estate said Monday that "no amount of money can adequately compensate" the boy's relatives for their grief.

"In a situation like this, there's no such thing as closure or justice," the lawyers, Jonathan S. Abady and Earl S. Ward, said in a statement. "Nothing will bring Tamir back. His unnecessary and premature death leaves a gaping hole for those who knew and loved him that can never be filled."

The Rice settlement provides another example of a city opting to settle for millions of dollars rather than to contest a wrongful-death lawsuit in court.

This month, Chicago aldermen approved paying $4.95 million to the family of a man experiencing a mental health crisis who died after being dragged from his cell in handcuffs and shocked repeatedly with a Taser. They also approved $1.5 million to the estate of an asthmatic man who died after a police foot chase; witnesses said he had been denied access to his inhaler.

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In September, Baltimore agreed to pay $6.4 million to the family of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody. And last year, New York City agreed to pay $5.9 million to the family of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by an officer.

Officials in Cleveland's mayor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Tamir had been carrying a real-looking pellet gun near a recreation center when someone called 911 to report him. The caller cautioned that Tamir was "probably a juvenile" and that the weapon was "probably fake," but those qualifications were not relayed to the responding officers, who were told only of a report of a male with a weapon.

Moments later, as grainy surveillance footage showed, a squad car drove over a curb and through snow-dotted grass before sliding to a halt within feet of Tamir. Officer Loehmann, who said later that he had feared for his lifeand had seen Tamir reaching for his waistband, stepped out of the cruiser and quickly shot the boy.

Tamir's shooting, which happened two days before a grand jury in Missouri declined to charge the Ferguson officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an African-American 18-year-old, also occurred amid a wave of new attention on use of force by the police, and set off protests in Cleveland.

From the outset, activists, the leader of the local police union and Cleveland's mayor agreed that Tamir's death was tragic. But the city was deeply divided on whether Officer Loehmann and his partner, Officer Frank Garmback, who was driving the cruiser, had committed crimes, or had been justified given what they knew at the time.

As the case made national headlines, it was revealed that Officer Loehmann had resigned from another Ohio police department after a "dangerous loss of composure" during weapons training. Many questioned his decision to fire quickly, as well as the tactics of Officer Garmback, who did not shoot but whose fast approach left his partner little time to assess the situation before acting.

Tensions escalated last year when Cleveland filed a response to the lawsuit that seemed to blame Tamir for his death, prompting an apology from the mayor and a revised filing. Then, in February, Cleveland moved to sue the Rice family for $500 to cover Tamir's emergency medical treatment, but quickly reversed course after a public backlash.

The investigation of Tamir's death stretched over 13 months, and was handed from agency to agency, frustrating activists who saw it as a clear-cut case of police misconduct. Finally, in a hastily organized news conference during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, the county prosecutor, Timothy J. McGinty, announced that grand jurors had declined to charge the officers.

By that point, Mr. McGinty had been widely criticized for his approach to the case. In what he said was an effort at transparency, Mr. McGinty released investigative documents on a piecemeal basis before the grand jury's decision, including reports from outside experts he had hired who found the shooting justified. The Rice family called for Mr. McGinty to recuse himself, and hired its own experts, who found the shooting unreasonable.

The Rice case figured prominently in Mr. McGinty's re-election campaign, and last month he lost the Democratic primary.

Tamir's death also brought increased scrutiny to the Cleveland Police Department, which is operating under a consent decree with the Justice Department and has been involved in a series of high-profile incidentsinvolving black people.

Tanisha Anderson, a black woman said to be suffering from mental illness, died in 2014 after being restrained by officers. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, and the case remains under investigation. In another case, Mr. McGinty brought manslaughter charges against a Cleveland officer, Michael Brelo, for his role in the 2012 deaths of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, unarmed African-Americans who had led officers on a long chase. Mr. Brelo was acquitted by a judge but has since been fired for violating department policies during the episode.

In their statement on Monday, the Rice family's lawyers, from the New York firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff and Abady, said, "Tamir's death is not an isolated event."

"The problem of police violence, especially in communities of color, is a crisis plaguing our nation," the lawyers, Mr. Abady and Mr. Ward, said in the statement. "It is the sincere hope of the Rice family that Tamir's death will stimulate a movement for genuine change in our society and our nation's policing so that no family ever has to suffer a tragedy such as this again."



9)  U.S. to Increase Military Presence in Syria, Obama Says

APRIL 25, 2016


HANOVER, Germany — The United States will significantly increase the number of military personnel, including Special Forces, in Syria to fight the Islamic State, President Obama said on Monday as he concluded a six-day trip to the Middle East, Britain and Germany.

Mr. Obama, whose comments came in a speech in which he pressed for European unity, said that he would add 250 military personnel to the 50 already on the ground in the hopes of cementing what he said was progress in pushing back the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, from territory that it had held.

"They're not going to be leading the fight on the ground," Mr. Obama said, confirming a recent report in The New York Times, "but they will be essential in providing the training and assisting local forces."

In the 49-minute speech, Mr. Obama urged Europeans to remain united in the face of growing economic and security threats, saying that the dangers of inequality, terrorism, prejudice and injustice would drag down the United States and Europe if countries on both sides of the Atlantic do not continue to work together.

Mr. Obama told an audience of business leaders, politicians and students that Europe must not let itself be pulled apart by those who fear cooperation.

"Dangerous forces do threaten to pull the world backwards, and our progress is not inevitable," Mr. Obama said in one of his final trips to Europe as president. "We are not immune from the forces of change around the world."

Mr. Obama has spent much of his visit to Europe urging the British people to vote to remain in the European Union in a referendum on June 23. He said repeatedly over the past week that leaving the 28-member bloc would undercut Britain's influence and weaken the democratic alliance that binds Europe.

In his speech on Monday, Mr. Obama went further, arguing to members of the predominantly German audience that they, too, must resist the temptation to go it alone in fighting the Islamic State, pushing for economic security and confronting the huge new flows of migrants.

"If we do not solve these problems, you start seeing those who would try to exploit those fears and frustrations and channel them in a destructive way," Mr. Obama said in comments that appeared to refer, at least in part, to Donald J. Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Support for populist and nationalist movements has grown in Europe in recent months, with the most recent example coming on Sunday in Austria, where a member of the far-right Freedom Party finished on top in the first round of voting for the country's largely ceremonial presidency.

Reflecting on the dangers to the political situation, Mr. Obama quoted the Irish poet William Butler Yeats in saying that they lurk where "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate and intensity."

That kind of destructive politics must not take root in Europe, Mr. Obama said, or there would be damaging consequences for the United States and many other nations around the world.

"If a unified, peaceful, liberal, pluralistic free-market Europe begins to doubt itself, begins to question the progress that's been made over the last several decades, then we can't expect the progress that is just now taking hold in many places around the world will continue," he said.

Mr. Obama's warnings against unilateral actions were clearly intended to steer Europe away from nationalist or isolationist stands. But, in fact, his close ally, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, has found herself isolated in the European Union for refusing to meet calls from other countries or from her conservative bloc to put an upper limit on the flow of migrants.

Ms. Merkel put together a deal between Turkey and the European Union in March that gave a veneer of unity to the Continent's very mixed response to arriving refugees and migrants. That deal remains the subject of intense debate in light of Turkey's current crackdown on the news media and on other freedoms.

The accord has succeeded in sharply reducing the migrant flow, but only in tandem with an earlier decision by Austria and Balkan states to close their land borders and shut off the route favored by approximately one million migrants last year.

Mr. Obama also gently chided the Germans and other European nations for not always carrying a fair share of the financial and military burden as part of the NATO alliance.

Those comments echoed remarks the president made recently in The Atlantic, where he referred to some European leaders as "free riders" who relied too heavily on the United States to pay for their military defense and to wage the fight against extremism.

He said he would go to the NATO meetings in Europe this summer and would demand that every nation contribute 2 percent of its gross domestic product to the defense of the Continent.

"We can't deal with these challenges by ourselves," Mr. Obama said.

For much of the speech, the American president lavished praise on Europe, citing what it has achieved. He said that Europeans should not take for granted the democratic societies they have built or the major wars they have avoided in the past several decades.

"Perhaps you need an outsider, somebody who's not a European, to remind you of the magnitude of what you've achieved," he said, adding that the European Union "remains one of the greatest political and economic achievements of modern times."

But he also cautioned that confronting the very real issue of economic inequality would require unity and more cooperation, not the erection of new barriers.

"The answer to reform is not cutting ourselves off from each other," he said.



10)  New Gorilla Survey Supports Fears of Extinction Within Decade

The Grauer's gorilla, the world's largest primate, has been a source of continual worry for conservationists for more than two decades. Longstanding conflict in the deep jungles of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo left experts with no choice but to guess at how that gorilla subspecies may be faring.

Now, with tensions abating somewhat, researchers finally have an updated gorilla head count — one that confirms their fears. According to findings compiled by an international team of conservationists, Grauer's gorilla populations have plummeted 77 percent over the last 20 years, with fewer than 3,800 of the animals remaining.

"We suspected that the Grauer's gorilla had declined because of all the insecurity in the region, but no one had an idea of how much they'd declined by," said Andrew Plumptre, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Albertine Rift Program in Central and Eastern Africa. "It turns out that the rate of collapse pushes this subspecies to the verge of extinction."

Grauer's gorillas — named after Rudolf Grauer, an Austrian explorer and zoologist who first recognized the apes as a separate subspecies — resemble their close relative, the mountain gorilla, save for their longer limbs and shorter hair. Although Grauer's and mountain gorilla populations were once connected, years of isolation have left them genetically distinct enough to warrant separate designations as eastern gorilla subspecies.

In 1994, the Wildlife Conservation Society conducted surveys in and around Kahuzi-Biega National Park, in what was then eastern Zaire. Researchers estimated that 17,000 Grauer's gorillas remained. But the Rwandan genocide that year led to the gorillas' precipitous decline.

An estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed over a three-month period, while hundreds of thousands more fled to neighboring Zaire. Some of those refugees formed militias such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, and the forest served as their stronghold and hide-out.

Instability soon spread, leading to the overthrow of President Mobutu Sese Seko and civil war in the newly formed Democratic Republic of Congo. From 1996 to 2003, that conflict cost the lives of an estimated five million people, and also brought the formation of more armed groups, 69 of which continue to operate in the eastern part of the country.

Bushmeat feeds many of them, and gorillas, which can weigh up to 400 pounds, prove easy and worthwhile targets. To finance their efforts, many armed groups have also set up artisanal mining sites, nearly all illegal.

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The International Peace Information Service, an independent research institute based in Belgium, has documented more than 1,000 of these mines, and the Wildlife Conservation Society has counted at least 240 more within protected areas and proposed protected areas. The mines attract untold numbers of outside workers, who also need to eat.

Although the fighting has ebbed somewhat over the last five years, the region today is by no means secure for people or for animals. Eastern Congo "is just tragic on every level imaginable," said Liz Williamson, a primatologist at the University of Stirling in Scotland. "People there have been living through hell for 20 years."

Those trying to protect the region's flora and fauna are equally at risk. The Wildlife Conservation Society estimates that 170 to 200 park rangers have been killed in eastern Congo since 1996.

"The government has been trying to go into some areas to disarm all these groups, but it's not an easy job," Dr. Plumptre said. "In that large of a chunk of forest, finding people is difficult."

Despite the danger, over the last few years, field teams of local residents, park staff members and scientists have managed to undertake the most comprehensive survey of Grauer's gorillas ever, covering 7,450 miles of their range. Statistical analyses allowed Dr. Plumptre and his colleagues to estimate a total remaining population of fewer than 3,800.

All told, the researchers calculated a 77 percent decline in Grauer's gorilla populations since 1994, although some sites were hit harder than others. In and around Kahuzi-Biega National Park, for example, there has been an 87 percent decline.

Additionally, nearly 80 percent of the total losses took place over just one generation — a rate three times higher than what is normally needed to officially declare an animal on the brink of extinction. Should this trend continue, most Grauer's gorillas will be gone within the next five to 10 years, Dr. Plumptre said.

Grauer's gorillas are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but Dr. Plumptre and his colleagues believe that their situation warrants immediate updating to critically endangered status. Dr. Williamson submitted evidence earlier this month supporting that change, and she expects approval by June.

While killing gorillas is already illegal in the country, declaring the subspecies as critically endangered would probably bring more funding and support for saving it. Protecting the entirety of the gorilla's 7,700-square-mile territory would no doubt prove impossible, but Dr. Plumptre and his colleagues are talking with the government and community leaders about establishing two new protected areas that would encompass 60 percent of the remaining gorillas' habitat.

"I think people felt like this was a lost cause and not much could be done," Dr. Williamson said. "But now W.C.S. is really pushing to get boots on the ground and create these new national parks, which would really make a difference."

Government commitment to saving the gorillas, she added, is essential.

There is some evidence that heightened protection and investment could work. In their surveys, the researchers found that one gorilla population, in the highland sector of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, has increased to an estimated 200 from about 130 in 2000.

That sector receives the most protection in the eastern national parks, and even welcomes tourists. "This shows that if you do invest in a site, you can stop the decline," Dr. Plumptre said.

The researchers also plan to set up microcredit schemes — small loans with minimal interest that are intended to help people living in poverty set up businesses — and employment opportunities for people from local communities who are involved in mining. Additionally, they hope to establish a certification program for legitimate mining sites.

Some Western companies like Motorola, Nokia, BlackBerry, Hewlett-Packard and Intel already work with a group called Solutions for Hopeto acquire conflict-free minerals. Dr. Plumptre imagines updating the conflict-free mineral listing to include a "bushmeat-free" or "conservation-friendly" validation.

"If people started lobbying for gorilla-friendly cellphones and iPads, it would force the government of D.R.C. to take this more seriously," he said.

Radar Nishuli, the director of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, agreed that more engagement from people outside the Democratic Republic of Congo was needed. "All of the world needs to support our efforts to save what's still left of the gorillas and their forest habitat, and to help the Congo get out of this war situation," Dr. Nishuli said.

"I am optimistic that gorillas can still multiply, to the delight of all," he added. "If I wasn't, I would have already given up this fight."



11)  Israel Frees Palestinian Girl, 12, Who Tried to Stab Guard

APRIL 24, 2016


HALHOUL, West Bank — The Israeli prison service on Sunday released the youngest known Palestinian inmate, a 12-year-old girl who had tried to stab a security guard at a Jewish settlement.

The girl, Dima al-Wawi, was freed six weeks before her scheduled release, said Assaf Librati, an Israeli prison service spokesman. Mr. Librati told the Israeli news media earlier that the release was because of her age.

Dima was given a hero's welcome Sunday in Halhoul, her hometown. Large banners welcoming her were draped in front of her home, music blared from loudspeakers, and drivers in a convoy honked.

While eagerly eating her first ice cream cone in months, Dima said she intended to kill the security guard on Feb. 9 but was quickly apprehended. She said she had hoped that she would be killed.

"I was dreaming that I was going to be martyred," she said. She said she had been influenced by other young Palestinians who stabbed or tried to stab Israeli soldiers and civilians. The wave of attacks, now sputtering, began last year.

The surge of very young people trying to commit very violent crimes has posed a challenge for the Israeli military authorities, who for years had vowed to change their system of prosecuting and incarcerating Palestinian minors in the West Bank. It is a far harsher system than the one used for dealing with young Israeli offenders and Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.

After her detention, Dima was interrogated without her parents or a lawyer present. She said she had been yelled at during her interrogation and attended six court sessions with her feet in shackles, causing her to develop a limp. Prison itself, she said, was fine because she was allowed to play with other incarcerated girls.

There were 422 Palestinian minors in Israeli jails in December, according to Defense of Children International-Palestine, which works to help incarcerated Palestinian minors. The group said that figure was the most recent one from Israel's prison service.

About 100 of the minors were under 15, and most were boys, the group reported. By comparison, 195 minors were incarcerated in December 2012, the group said.

Palestinians have killed 28 Israelis and two Americans in stabbings, shootings and attacks with cars since October. Israeli forces killed 204 Palestinians from October to March, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Most of the Palestinians were killed while committing, or trying to commit, an attack.



12)  San Francisco Torn as Some See 'Street Behavior' Worsen

APRIL 24, 2016


SAN FRANCISCO — From her apartment at the foot of the celebrated zigzags of Lombard Street, Judith Calson has twice peered out her window as thieves smashed their way into cars and snatched whatever they could. She has seen foreign tourists cry after cash and passports were stolen. She shudders when she recounts the story of the Thai tourist who was shot because he resisted thieves taking his camera.

And that is her tally from the last year alone.

"I never thought of this area as a high-crime neighborhood," Ms. Calson, a retired photographer, said of this leafy part of the city, where tourists flock to view the steeply sloped, crooked street adorned with flower beds.

San Francisco, America's boom town, is flooded with the cash of well-paid technology workers and record numbers of tourists. At the same time, the city has seen a sharp jump in property crime, up more than 60 percent since 2010, though the actual increase may be higher because many of the crimes go unreported.

Recent data from the F.B.I. show that San Francisco has the highest per-capita property crime rate of the nation's top 50 cities. About half the cases here are thefts from vehicles, smash-and-grabs that scatter glittering broken glass onto the sidewalks.

The city, known for a political tradition of empathy for the downtrodden, is now divided over whether to respond with more muscular law enforcement or stick to its forgiving attitudes.

The Chamber of Commerce and the tourist board are calling for harsher measures to improve what is euphemistically called the "condition of the streets," a term that encompasses the intractable homeless problem, public intravenous drug use, the large population of mentally ill people on the streets and aggressive panhandling. The chamber recently released the results of an opinion poll that showed that homelessness and "street behavior" were the primary concerns of residents here.

"We are the wealthiest big city in the wealthiest state in the wealthiest country in the world, and we have this situation on our streets," said Joe D'Alessandro, the chief executive of San Francisco Travel, a tourism organization.

"People believe that everyone has the right to be on the streets. However, I think there is a tolerance limit to bad behavior."

Visitors come to bask in the Mediterranean climate, stroll through the charming streets and marvel at the sweeping views of the bay and the Pacific. But alongside those views are tent encampments on sidewalks and rag-covered homeless people in front of some of the most expensive real estate in America.

The divided opinions on how to handle the problems are evident among members of the Board of Supervisors.

Scott Wiener, a supervisor and an advocate for more aggressive law enforcement, said his constituents were urging him to act. "I can't tell you the number of times where I have received emails from moms saying, 'My kids just asked me why that man has a syringe sticking out of his arm,' " he said.

"San Francisco at times is a consequence-free zone," Mr. Wiener said. "I'm not advocating extreme law and order, but there has to be consequences. Sometimes people might need to spend six months in jail to think about what they did."

In a bitterly contested 6-to-5 vote last year, Mr. Wiener led the passage of a measure adding several hundred officers to the city's police force, the first increase since the 1980s, when the population was over 10 percent smaller.

On the other side is David Campos, a supervisor who opposes the increase in police officers and describes Mr. Wiener's views as "a very knee-jerk kind of punitive approach that is ineffective and inconsistent with the values of San Francisco."

Mr. Campos and many others evoke the charitable spirit of the city's namesake, St. Francis.

"We are not going to criminalize people for being poor," he said. "That criminalization is only going to make it harder for them to get out of poverty."

San Francisco's liberal ethos, Mr. Campos said, was changing as the city focused more on business and the needs of the tech industry.

"I think there has been a shift in the people who have come to San Francisco," Mr. Campos said of the city's new arrivals, a group that is well educated and well heeled. He deplores what he describes as a growing "sink-or-swim" free-market ideology that stands in contrast to the city's traditions.

"I don't know which San Francisco will prevail," he said.

At TLC Glass, a repair shop on the edge of San Francisco's business district, the more prosaic consequences of the rise in car break-ins are on display. Customers regularly file in to repair car windows that have been smashed by thieves.

"Every day we are full," the shop's owner, Louie Chen, said. One customer came in four times in six weeks.

A customer who came to have a broken window fixed, Dan Edmonds-Waters, showed San Franciscan forgiveness. He said he felt sorry for whoever broke a window of his limited-edition BMW twice, stealing his gym bag both times.

"I have a lot of sympathy for folks who are in need in the city," Mr. Edmonds-Waters said. "This has become an extremely expensive city to live in. The divide between those who have and those who don't is ridiculously ginormous."

The people who commit the property crimes come from a variety of backgrounds, said Albie Esparza, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department. "Some are homeless, some are in gangs, some are freelancers up to no good," he said.

People are rarely caught. "The problem with auto break-ins is that they happen so quickly, just a few seconds," Mr. Esparza said. "Before anyone can do anything about it, they are long gone."

Violent crime has increased 18 percent since 2010, but the city has a low murder rate relative to other large American cities.

Police are barred by city ordinance from installing surveillance cameras that are commonly found in other cities, a restriction that even Mr. Wiener said he did not want changed.

Ms. Calson, the retired photographer, said she offered to let the police mount a surveillance camera outside her Lombard Street apartment. The car break-ins happen so quickly that she has not been able photograph the perpetrators.

On Wednesday, another car was broken into below her window. A woman who was dropping off her daughter at a day care center had parked for 10 minutes and returned to find her window smashed and her purse gone.

"It's just insane," Ms. Calson said. "On and on and on it goes."



13)  The Mirage of a Return to Manufacturing Greatness


April 26, 2016


Half a century ago, harvesting California's 2.2 million tons of tomatoes for ketchup required as many as 45,000 workers. In the 1960s, though, scientists and engineers at the University of California, Davis, developed an oblong tomato that lent itself to being machine-picked and an efficient mechanical harvester to do the job in one pass through a field.

The battle to save jobs was on.

How could a publicly funded university invest in research that cut farmworker jobs only to help large-scale growers? That was the question raised in a lawsuit filed by a farmworker advocacy group against U.C. Davis in 1979.

César Chavez's United Farm Workers union made stopping mechanization its No. 1 legislative priority. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter's agriculture secretary, Robert Bergland, declared that the federal government would no longer finance research that could lead to the "replacing of an adequate and willing work force with machines."

These days, the battle to save American jobs has a different flavor. It echoes in Hillary Clinton's promise "to win the global competition for manufacturing jobs and production." It lives in Donald Trump's call to break Nafta and impose a 45 percent tariff against Chinese imports, and in Bernie Sanders's rallying cry against trade agreements.

Its outcome, however, will probably be similar. The freeze on research may have slowed the mechanization of California's harvests, but by the year 2000, only 5,000 harvest workers were employed in California to pick and sort what was by then a 12-million-ton crop of tomatoes.

In America's factories, jobs are inevitably disappearing, too. But despite the political rhetoric, the problem is not mainly globalization. Manufacturing jobs are on the decline in factories around the world.

"The observation is uncontroversial," said Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-winning economist at Columbia University. "Global employment in manufacturing is going down because productivity increases are exceeding increases in demand for manufactured products by a significant amount."

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The consequences of this dynamic are often misunderstood, not least by politicians offering slogans to fix them.

No matter how high the tariffs Mr. Trump wants to raise to encircle the American economy, he will not be able to produce a manufacturing renaissance at home. Neither would changing tax rules to limit corporate flight from the United States, as Mrs. Clinton proposes.

"The likelihood that we will get a manufacturing recovery is close to nil," Professor Stiglitz said. "We are more likely to have a smaller share of a shrinking pie."

Look at it this way: Over the course of the 20th century, farm employment in the United States dropped to 2 percent of the work force from 41 percent, even as output soared. Since 1950, manufacturing's share has shrunk to 8.5 percent of nonfarm jobs, from 24 percent. It still has a ways to go.

The shrinking of manufacturing employment is global. In other words, strategies to restore manufacturing jobs in one country will amount to destroying them in another, in a worldwide zero-sum game.

The loss of such jobs has created plenty of problems in the United States. For the countless workers living in less developed reaches of the world, though, it adds up to a potential disaster.

Japan's long stagnation can be read as a consequence of a decades-long development strategy that left the nation overly dependent on manufacturing. "They are focused on a dead-end business," said Bruce Greenwald, an expert on investment strategy at Columbia Business School. "They are not eliminating hours of work in manufacturing fast enough to keep pace with the reduction in work needed."

The richest countries today started deindustrializing when they were already well off and benefited from fairly skilled and productive work forces that could make the transition into well-paid service jobs, as increasingly affluent consumers devoted less of their incomes to physical goods and more to leisure, advanced health care and other services.

Poorer countries have more limited options. If the demise of manufacturing jobs in the United States forced many workers into low-paid retail jobs and the like, imagine the challenge in a country like India, where factory employment has already topped out, yet income per person is only one twenty-fifth of what it was in the United States at its peak.

"Developing countries are suffering premature deindustrialization," said Dani Rodrik, a leading expert on the international economy who teaches at Harvard's Kennedy School. "Both employment and output deindustrialization is setting in at much lower levels of income."

This is even happening in a manufacturing behemoth like China — which appears to have maxed out the industrial export strategy at a much lower income level than its successful Asian predecessors, like Japan and Taiwan.

For poorer countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the decline of manufacturing as a bountiful source of jobs puts an end to the prime path to riches that the modern world has followed.

Manufacturing, Professor Rodrik points out, has unique advantages. For one thing, it can quickly employ lots of unskilled workers. "Setting up a factory to make toys puts you on a productivity escalator in a way that traditional agriculture and services didn't do," he said.

Moreover, production isn't constrained by a small domestic market: Exports of goods can easily flow around the world, allowing industry room to grow and giving developing countries time to ride up the ladder of income, skills and sophistication.

The natural resources that dominate the exports of many poor countries don't have these features. They employ few workers and offer little added value. They do not encourage acquiring skills, and they expose countries to violent swings in commodity prices.

High-end services such as finance and programming do pay well. But these aren't the service sectors most poor countries build. A majority of service jobs in most poor countries are generally limited to housework, mom and pop retail and the like. Since these sectors offer little productivity growth and are generally isolated from foreign competition, they cannot pull a nation out of poverty.

The first large transition from agriculture to industry in the early 20th century — well lubricated by public spending on world wars — liberated workers from their chains far more effectively than Karl Marx's revolution ever did.

The current transition, from manufacturing to services, is more problematic. In poor countries, Mr. Rodrik says, workers may have to pare back their aspirations of development. Who knows "how will political systems manage?" he asks.

In the United States, the political challenge is no less daunting. Low pay married to high profits in much of the service economy are contributing to a widening income chasm that is rending society in all sorts of ways. Used to the prosperity once delivered by manufacturing, American workers are rebelling against the changing tide.

Note to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump: A grab at the world's manufacturing jobs is the wrong answer. Walls will damage prosperity, not enhance it. Promises to recapture industrial-era greatness ring hollow.

The United States, though, does have options: health care, education and clean energy, just to name a few. They present big economic and political challenges, of course — not least the enormous inefficiency of private American medicine and Republicans' blanket opposition to more public spending.

Yet just as the federal government once provided a critical push to move the economy from its agricultural past into its industrial future, so, too, could it help build a postindustrial tomorrow.



14)  Sanders Prepares to Bow Down to Hillary, But Many of His Supporters Won't

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Black Agenda Report, April 27, 2016

"His underlings are telling the troops that this whole electoral exercise will be worthwhile if they succeed in pushing through a progressive party platform, in Philadelphia."

The 2016 presidential season will only be of historical significance if it leads to a fracturing of the duopoly electoral system in the United States, a "trap within a trap" in which the rich control both parties – one of which is always the overt party of white supremacy. Donald Trump has already succeeded in creating a "market" for a second right-wing party by stripping the GOP's' appeal to its raw, racist, white nationalist essentials – a political nightmare for every corporate public relations department in the nation. Corporate logos will be hidden in brown paper bags at the Republican convention, in Cleveland.

It is difficult to imagine how the Trump rank and file and the party's corporate "establishment" will paper over their irreconcilable differences, rooted in the party's failure to preserve skin privilege and good jobs in a White Man's Country. Just as brazenly, Trump, the rabble rousing billionaire, has violated the most sacred ruling class taboos by rejecting the national security rationale for the hyper-aggressive, ever-expanding, global U.S. military presence. If Trump fails to convincingly recant such heresies, the rulers will deal with him with extreme prejudice.

"Trump has violated the most sacred ruling class taboos by rejecting the national security rationale for the hyper-aggressive, ever-expanding, global U.S. military presence."

Bernie Sanders presents no such threat to Empire. He supports President Obama's illegal drone wars and the 15-year occupation of Afghanistan. Should he somehow be elected president, Sanders would follow Obama's practice of reserving Tuesday's for choosing targets from his "Kill List." To circumvent U.S. and international prohibitions against assassination, Sanders offers the same "self-defense" justification as the Israelis do, when they slaughter Palestinians by the thousands. "There are people out there who want to kill Americans, who want to attack this country, and I think we have a right to defend ourselves," Sanders told Chris Hayes, of MSNBC.

The nominally socialist senator from Vermont claims that he differs from Hillary Clinton on foreign policy because she "is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be." During the New Hampshire debate, Sanders said the ouster of Iraq's Saddam Hussein "destabilized the entire region" and the overthrow and death of Muammar Gaddafi "created a vacuum for ISIS" in Libya. "Yes, we could get rid of Assad tomorrow," Sanders told the crowd, back in February, "but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIS."

"It doesn't bother Sanders a bit that the U.S. presence on sovereign Syrian soil is illegal, an act of war."

His leftish boosters clung to these utterances as proof that Sanders was, deep down, a peaceable kind of guy, in sharp contrast to "Queen of Chaos" Clinton. Tuesday, however, as he was losing four of five primaries, Sanders showed that he is no less a warlord than Barack Obama – who, like Sanders, based his "peace candidate" appeal on his 2002 opposition to the Iraq invasion. Obama announced he was sending 250 more U.S. Special Forces troops into Syria, supposedly to fight ISIS and to arm and train more of those elusive, damn-near-extinct "moderate" rebels. It doesn't bother Sanders a bit that the U.S. presence on sovereign Syrian soil is illegal, an act of war, as is U.S. funding and training of fighters attempting "regime change."

"Here's the bottom line," said Sanders. "ISIS has got to be destroyed, and the way that ISIS must be destroyed is not through American troops fighting on the ground." U.S. Special Forces have already been engaged in combat operations in Syria, as Sanders should know. Nevertheless, he plowed on:

"I think what the president is talking about is having American troops training Muslim troops, helping to supply the military equipment they need, and I do support that effort. We need a broad coalition of Muslim troops on the ground. We have had some success in the last year or so putting ISIS on the defensive, we've got to continue that effort."

What Sanders is saying is that he would continue Obama's policy of regime change, despite the "unintended consequences" and its clear illegality. He is no more "progressive" than Obama on foreign policy, and just as dishonest – a true Democrat.

"Sanders opposes 'regime change' except when it is perpetrated by a Democratic administration."

The same day, Sanders sidestepped Joe Scarborough's attempts to get him to agree that Hillary Clinton is a "hawk" on foreign policy. "I don't want to characterize her, but I think our views on foreign policy are different," Sanders told the MSNBC host. "I think my views are a lot closer to President Obama's than they are to Hillary Clinton's.... I believe it must be Muslim troops on the ground who do the fighting with the support of the United States. I will do everything that I can to prevent our troops from getting involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East."

A distinction without a difference, as they say. Sanders opposes "regime change" except when it is perpetrated by a Democratic administration. He really doesn't mind U.S. "boots on the ground" in other people's countries, as long as they are arming and training people of native religions and races to kill others of their kind, and U.S. casualties are kept to a minimum.

Sanders is an imperialist pig. Although his self-image is that of a Scandinavian social democrat, Sanders is more like a French "socialist" who supports the maintenance of a safety net for his own people, but reserves the right to routinely commit mass murder in the former colonies in order to preserve the French "way of life" and "values."

With the mathematics of the presidential primary race now undeniable, Sanders is preparing his supporters to scale back their dreams of social transformation – which, for some of them, includes a genuine retreat from Empire as well as a new domestic deal. His underlings are telling the troops that this whole electoral exercise will be worthwhile if they succeed in pushing through a progressive party platform, in Philadelphia. Then it will be time to unite with Hillary, the plutocrats' candidate, in the battle against the dreaded Trumpster.

"Sanders is preparing his supporters to scale back their dreams of social transformation."

Bernie Sanders is peddling the sucker's line, that the Democratic Party can be transformed from the inside. However, the actual experience of the campaign, as witnessed by millions of young, newly energized citizens, is proving exactly the opposite; that this corporate-crafted Democratic mechanism and its interlocking Republican counterpart are tools of the oligarchy, designed to manufacture consent to corporate rule and corral and crush dissent.

When Sanders consummates his "sheep dog" assignment, he will deflate to his original state: a small-town Democratic Party operative. Most of his supporters will acquiesce to Hillary's nomination – just as most people everywhere acquiesce to everything most of the time. But, a significant proportion, numbering in the millions, and including the half of young African Americans that have rejected the Black Misleadership Class's slavish allegiance to the Democratic Party hierarchy, will not.  And, although Hillary Clinton will surely win victory in November with her "big tent" Democratic Party – flush with white suburbanites who, only yesterday, were Republicans – it will be a Party that is even more hostile to Blacks and progressives than before Donald Trump plunged the duopoly into crisis.

Millions of people, especially young folks, will be looking for an alternative to the Democrats and the Republicans – or to electoral politics, entirely. It's up to the Left to give it to them.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



15)  Naz Shah, British Lawmaker, Suspended Over Anti-Israel Posts

APRIL 27, 2016


LONDON — In the face of mounting criticism over inaction on episodes of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn reversed himself on Wednesday and suspended a party lawmaker for endorsing anti-Israel posts on social media before she became a member of Parliament.

The legislator, Naseem Shah, 42, also known as "Naz," was elected last year in Bradford West, unseating George Galloway, a sharp critic of Israel who has himself been accused of anti-Semitism.

Ms. Shah emerged from a tough childhood in Bradford that included a forced marriage, and has been considered a rising star in the Labour Party. As the scandal built, she resigned on Tuesday as parliamentary private secretary to John McDonnell, the party's spokesman on the economy.

Mr. Corbyn has been accused of not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism from Labour's far left. He met earlier on Wednesday with Ms. Shah, who he said had issued a "full apology" for comments that "caused upset and hurt to the Jewish community."

But another Labour legislator, Lisa Nandy, called on the party to suspend Ms. Shah pending an investigation. "There is a real problem for the Labour Party if we don't look like we are taking these things seriously," she told the BBC. "But this is not just about the impact on the Labour Party, there is also the question here about what is the right thing to do."

In Parliament later in the day, Prime Minister David Cameron said it was "extraordinary" that Ms. Shah was still a full member of Labour's parliamentary party and also urged suspension. "Anti-Semitism is effectively racism and we should call it out and fight it whenever we see it," he said.

Labour said later that a suspension was agreed upon mutually by Mr. Corbyn and Ms. Shah while the party's national executive committee investigates.

In 2014, before being elected, Ms. Shah endorsed a Facebook post displaying a graphic that showed Israel's outline superimposed on a map of the United States. The map was under the headline, "Solution for Israel-Palestine conflict — relocate Israel into United States," with the comment, "Problem solved."

The post suggested the United States had "plenty of land" to accommodate Israel as a 51st state, allowing Palestinians to "get their life and their land back." It said Israelis would be welcome and safe in America, while the "transportation cost" would be less than three years' worth of Washington's support for Israeli defense spending.

Ms. Shah added a note suggesting the plan might "save them some pocket money."

The post was uncovered by the Guido Fawkes website, which also highlighted another post in which Ms. Shah compared Israeli policies to those of Hitler.

In a statement, Ms. Shah said: "I made these posts at the height of the Gaza conflict in 2014, when emotions were running high around the Middle East conflict. But that is no excuse for the offense I have given, for which I unreservedly apologize."

She set out a more detailed apology in an article for Jewish News. "The language I used was wrong," she wrote. "It is hurtful. What's important is the impact these posts have had on other people. I understand that referring to Israel and Hitler as I did is deeply offensive to Jewish people for which I apologize."








































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