Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:












House committee votes to extend draft to women

By Courage to Resist. May 2, 2016

Sign a petition to abolish the draft

On April 27th, the House Armed Service committee voted to extend the draft to women as well as men.Their vote attached an amendment to a "must-pass" annual military spending authorization bill (HR 4909).

If the bill passes without the amendment being addressed, the President would be given the right to order women to register for the draft.

What should I do now if I don't want to register for the draft — and I don't want anyone else to have to register either?

  • Urge your representative in Congress to remove the amendment to H.R.4909 to extend draft registration to women. 
  • Sign the petition in support of HR 4523, a bill proposed to abolish the Selective Service System

>>Read more here





Jewish Voice for Peace-East Bay, South Alameda County Peace & Justice Committee, Ecumenical Peace Institute, Friends of Sabeel North America,
in cooperation with the Free Palestine Movement, International Solidarity Movement-Northern California and al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition
invite you to

North America Nakba Tour

The Exiled Palestinians

Stateless Palestinians from the Camps in Lebanon


Mariam Fathalla interview (9-min. version)


Mariam lFathalla interview (2-min. version)

On May 14, 1948, as Zionist leader David Ben Gurion was proclaiming a Jewish state in Palestine, his troops drove out the inhabitants of the ancient Palestinian town of al-Zeeb. 18-year-old Mariam Fathalla was one of them. She and her young husband fled to Lebanon. By year's end the 4,000-year-old community had been leveled. More than half of all Palestinians were killed or expelled and more than half the cities, towns and villages disappeared, a crime that Palestinians call al-Nakba (the Catastrophe).

datauri-fileNow 86 years old, Mariam has spent the last 68 years in crowded, makeshift refugee camps in Lebanon. She has raised three generations, all waiting to return to Palestine. She has seen five Israeli invasions of Lebanon, as well as the 1976 Tel al-Zaatar camp massacre that killed more than 2000 refugees there.

Mariam wants meet you.  So does Amena Ashkar, the great granddaughter of other Nakba survivors.  They have a different message.  They do not live in Palestine.  They have no citizenship anywhere.  They do not live under Israeli occupation. Israel does not allow them to visit their homes, much less live there.  Amena has never met an Israeli, and Mariam not since 1948. They have a different perspective.

VENUE: St. John's Presbyterian Church

TIME: Friday, June 3, 7:00 p.m.

LOCATION: 2727 College Ave., Berkeley (Berkeley BART)

CONTACT: 510-236-4250, solidarity@ism-norcal.org


-donations to support tour expenses gratefully accepted-




    HEY, HEY


David Kleinberg's solo theater work on his year
as an army combat correspondent in Vietnam


Just returned from Vietnam where amazingly I was able to perform my solo theater work "Hey, Hey, LBJ." Now six shows at the S.F. International Arts Festival at Fort Mason May 27 through June 6.

"Hey, Hey, LBJ!" charts my year as an army combat correspondent in Vietnam, a powerful work on the nation's most divisive foreign war. I go to Vietnam supporting the war. In the end, I am in Bangkok when the bombs start falling on my buddies back in Vietnam. 

Good reviews (Washington Post, Rolling Stone Magazine) and 8-show run at SF's Marsh Theater last year. More links below, 

New web on my Vietnam show -- www.lbjinvietnam -- my first trip back after 50 years. Thanks for the consideration. 

* "Fantastic . . . powerful . . . moving . . . full house . . . standing ovation . . . must see." - Michael Goldberg, ex-senior writer/associate editor Rolling Stone Magazine

"As polished and moving a piece of theater as the Capital Fringe is likely to see this year (out of 119 shows)." -- Rachel Weiner, Washington Post

* "This show brought me to tears, and I rarely ever cry when seeing a show." -- Marc Gonzalez, Fresno Bee

* "We don't normally review shows in development, but 'Hey, Hey, LBJ' is already as strong as quite a few shows we've seen on larger (Bay Area) stages." -- Doug Konecky, SF Theater Blog

Kleinberg's "lack of bravado, genuine disgust with the absurdity of war, and unabashedly deep love for his comrades carry the day and keep us with him until the end. A powerful story . . ." -- Jim Fitzmorris, New Orleans Advocate

Combat Correspondent - U.S. Army, Cu Chi, Vietnam, bronze star, 1966-67
San Francisco Chronicle - Editor/Writer 34 years; editor Sunday Datebook, 14 years
KTVU/Channel 2 - Casual producer/talent "Segment 2" pieces, 5 years
Stand-up Comedian - 10 years, appeared with Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, Richard Lewis, Sinbad

Important Links to 'Hey, Hey, LBJ!'
​Hey, Hey, LBJ! -- Full Story


LBJ Performed in Vietnam

Upcoming 'Hey, Hey, LBJ!' SF International Arts Schedule  
(Fort Mason, Southside Theater)
Friday June 3    9:30 pm
Sat June 4         6:30 pm
Sunday June 5  4:30 pm


David Kleinberg
(415) 527-7201 (mobile)  





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)




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.



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






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 

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

    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




    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

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    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













    1)  Armed With Data, Chicago Police Try to Predict Who May Shoot or Be Shot

    "'We're concerned about this,' said Karen Sheley, the director of the Police Practices Project of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. 'There's a database of citizens built on unknown factors, and there's no way for people to challenge being on the list. How do you get on the list in the first place? We think it's dangerous to single out somebody based on secret police information.' ...The police have been using the list, in part, to choose individuals for visits, known as "custom notifications." Over the past three years, the police, social workers and community leaders have gone to the homes of more than 1,300 people with high numbers on the list. Mr. Johnson, the police superintendent, said officials this year are stepping up those visits, with at least 1,000 more people."

    MAY 23, 2016




    CHICAGO — In this city's urgent push to rein in gun and gang violence, the Police Department is keeping a list. Derived from a computer algorithm that assigns scores based on arrests, shootings, affiliations with gang members and other variables, the list aims to predict who is most likely soon to be shot or to shoot someone. Shaquon Thomas was on it.

    His first arrest came at 13, and others quickly followed, his face maturing in a progression of mug shots. By 18, Mr. Thomas, who was known as the rapper Young Pappy, was wounded in a shooting, the police say. Then last May, Mr. Thomas, 19, was fatally shot in what the police say was a running gang feud. His score was more than 500, putting him near the top of the Chicago Police Department's list.

    "We know we have a lot of violence in Chicago, but we also know there's a small segment that's driving this stuff," Eddie Johnson, the police superintendent, said in a recent interview.

    In a city of 2.7 million people, about 1,400 are responsible for much of the violence, Mr. Johnson said, and all of them are on the department's "Strategic Subject List."

    So far this year, more than 70 percent of the people who have been shot in Chicago were on the list, according to the police, as were more than 80 percent of those arrested for shootings.

    In a broad drug and gang raid carried out last week amid a disturbing uptick this year in shootings and murders, the Police Department said that 117 of the 140 people arrested were on the list. And in one recent report on homicides and shootings over a two-day stretch, nearly everyone involved was on the list. While hundreds of thousands of people qualify as having a score that makes the list, the police have limited their focus to a far smaller group with scores in the mid-200s and above.

    "We are targeting the correct individuals," Mr. Johnson said. "We just need our judicial partners and our state legislators to hold these people accountable."

    Many government agencies and private entities are using data to try to predict outcomes, and local law enforcement organizations are increasingly testing such algorithms to fight crime. The computer model in Chicago, though, is uniquely framed around this city's particular problems: a large number of splintered gangs, an ever younger set of gang members, according to the police, and a rash of gun violence that is connected to acts of retaliation between gangs.

    Supporters of Chicago's list say that it is an essential tool for the police as they race to tamp down the bloodshed here, and that it allows them to focus on a small fraction of people creating chaos in the city rather than unfairly and ineffectively blanketing whole neighborhoods or sides of town. But critics wonder whether there is value in predicting who is likely to shoot or be shot with seemingly little ability to prevent it, and they question the fairness and legality of creating a list of people deemed likely to commit crimes in some future time.

    "We're concerned about this," said Karen Sheley, the director of the Police Practices Project of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. "There's a database of citizens built on unknown factors, and there's no way for people to challenge being on the list. How do you get on the list in the first place? We think it's dangerous to single out somebody based on secret police information."

    Attention to the list comes at a pivotal moment for the city, as it tries to calm residents' worries about mounting violence while it simultaneously tries to rebuild community relations with the police after years of distrust that boiled over with the release of a video six months ago showing a black teenager named Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by a white police officer.

    A few years ago, with grant money from the National Institute of Justice, the Chicago police began creating the Strategic Subject List, and they view it as in keeping with findings by Andrew Papachristos, a sociologist at Yale, who said that the city's homicides are concentrated within a relatively small number of social networks that represent only a fraction of the population in high-crime neighborhoods.

    Miles Wernick, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, created the algorithm. It draws, the police say, on variables tied to a person's past behavior, particularly arrests and convictions, in order to predict who is most likely to become a "party to violence." The police cite proprietary technology as the reason they will not make public exactly what the 10 variables used to create the list are, but that some examples of them include questions like: Have you been shot before? Is your "trend line" for crimes increasing or decreasing? Do you have an arrest for weapons?

    Dr. Wernick says the model intentionally avoids using as variables factors that could discriminate in some way; it excludes considerations like race, gender, ethnicity and geography, he said.

    "The model just makes suggestions," said Jonathan H. Lewin, deputy chief of the Chicago Police Department's technology and records group. "This is not designed to replace the human process. This is just designed to inform it."

    The police have been using the list, in part, to choose individuals for visits, known as "custom notifications." Over the past three years, the police, social workers and community leaders have gone to the homes of more than 1,300 people with high numbers on the list. Mr. Johnson, the police superintendent, said officials this year are stepping up those visits, with at least 1,000 more people.

    The message during these visits — with individuals on the list and with their families, girlfriends, mothers — is blunt: That person is on the police department's radar. Social workers who visit offer ways out of gangs, including drug treatment programs, housing and job training.

    "We let you know that we know what's going on," said Christopher Mallette, the executive director of the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy, a leader in the effort. "You know why we're here. We don't want you to get killed."

    Uncertain, for now, is the effectiveness. The RAND Corporation is evaluating the city's list, but results are yet to be published. Mr. Mallette said that 21 percent of the individuals they have succeeded in talking to have sought assistance, and that fewer than 9 percent of the people they talked to have been shot since a home visit. A juvenile who has a high score on the list and who was visited last week as part of a custom notification was shot in the leg and injured on Sunday, the police said. They said he did not answer the door last week when the group went to his home.

    Arthur J. Lurigio, a professor of psychology and criminology at Loyola University Chicago, said there was little evidence to date that the approach is slowing crime, and he questioned whether involving police officers in home visits would really lead people to walk away from gangs. "This is a first step," he said, "but now figuring what to do with that list — that's another thing."

    A police computer dashboard of the Strategic Subject List gives a glimpse of the arc of each person on it. Shaquon Thomas's entry went on and on — 23 arrests, the police say, mostly for misdemeanors, then the shootings.

    "When people think we're profiling or targeting, it's not true," said Mr. Johnson, who was an officer here for decades before being appointed this year to succeed the superintendent in the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald video. "It has nothing to do with your race, your background. It's just all about the contacts you have with law enforcement."

    The police say Shaquon Thomas was scheduled to get a visit — one of the custom notifications — but he died before it could take place.



    2) Statement Opposing US President Barack Obama' Visit to Hiroshima

    Action Committee for the 71st Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th

    14-3-705 Noborimachi, Naka ward, Hiroshima City
    Telephone/Fax: 082-221-7631 Email: 

    We oppose the planned visit of the US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima on May 27th after Ise-Shima Summit.

    The summit is a conference of warmongers and plunderers representing the interest of financial and military big powers of only seven countries called the G7 to discuss how to share and rule the markets and resources and their sphere of influence over the world. The main agenda will be a new Korean war (i.e. nuclear war) to overthrow the North Korean regime. Obama is to play the leading role of this war meeting as the possessor of the world's largest nuclear military force. On his visit to the city of Hiroshima, Obama will be accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose Cabinet passed a new law permitting Japan to engage in war and trampled on the peoples' anti-war voices with the A-bomb victims at the forefront of the struggle.  Further, the Abe administration decided in a recent Cabinet meeting that "both the use and the possession of nuclear weapons is constitutional" (April 1, 2016), reversing the previous interpretation of the Constitution that Japan can never participate in war.  Abe insists that Obama's visit will be a major force for the realization of a world free from nuclear weapons. But these words are utterly deceptive.

    We must not allow Obama to set foot in the Peace Park with his "nuclear football."

    The United States is the world's largest nuclear military power and one that is continuing to wage destruction and slaughter by air raids in the Middle East and continues to use Okinawa island to house its base and prepare for a new war: a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula. And Obama is the commander in chief of the United States Armies.  How can we call this warmonger "a figure of hope for the elimination of nuclear weapons" or a "messenger of peace"? Moreover, Obama intends to come to Hiroshima with his emergency "nuclear football." We must never allow his visit to Hiroshima!

    Obama and the US government have repeatedly refused to apologize for the atomic bombings on Hiroshima. This declaration means that Obama and his government do not allow any attempt to question the legitimacy of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By inviting Obama to Hiroshima, Abe himself has tried to deny the responsibility for Japan's war of aggression just as Obama evades US responsibility for the A-bombs. By denying responsibility for the war, Abe aims to open a way toward a new imperialist war: nuclear war.

    What Obama actually said in his Prague speech is the maintenance of the nuclear monopoly and ability to carry out nuclear war by US.

    "As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary... But we go forward with no illusions. Some countries will break the rules. That's why we need a structure in place that ensures when any nation does, they will face consequences." This is the crux of Obama's Prague speech in April 2009. 

    In fact, the Obama administration has been maintaining and evolving its nuclear forces. Obama plans to spend $1 trillion (more than 100 trillion yen) to modernize nuclear weapons over 30 years. For this reason, 12 subcritical nuclear tests and new types of nuclear tests were carried out between November 2010 and 2014.  In addition, the USA has entirely opposed on many occasions any resolution for banning nuclear weapons. The very person who has strongly supported this outrageous USA policy is Abe, who insists on the need for a nuclear deterrent while advocating Japan as the "only bombed nation" in the world.  Abe's aim is that Japan becomes "a potential nuclear power" by restarting nuclear power plants and developing rocket technology. With the recent Cabinet decision that both the possession and use of nuclear weapons are constitutional, the Abe administration has explicitly revealed its intention for nuclear armament.

      "The USA must monopolize nuclear weapons." "The nation which does not follow the USA's rules should face consequences." This logic to justify nuclear monopoly and nuclear war is totally incompatible with the anti-war will of the workers and people, most of all the survivors of the atom bombs, known as the hibakusha.

    Obama is preparing a new nuclear war all while he is making deceitful propaganda by talking about "a world without nuclear weapons."

    This January, Obama dispatched the strategic nuclear bomber B52 over the Korean Peninsula to counter North Korea's nuclear tests with the aim of demonstrating that the US was ready to actually carry out a nuclear war. Then from March through April, he enforced the largest US-ROK joint military exercises ever on the assumption of a nuclear war. On February 24th, USFK (the United States Forces Korea) commander testified at the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee hearing: "If a collision occurs on the Korean Peninsula, the situation becomes the equal to that of the WWII. The scale of troops and weapons involved is comparable to that of the Korean War or the WWII. There will be a great number of dead and wounded due to its more complicated character."

    The USA military is now thoroughly calculating and intends to execute a plan of a Korean war (nuclear war), one which will exceed the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the orders of Obama, commander in chief.

    In short, by visiting Hiroshima, Obama seeks to deceive the survivors and working people of the world as if he is striving for nuclear disarmament all while he aims to get the approval for his nuclear strikes on North Korea.  There is no room for reconciliation or compromise between Obama and us Hiroshima people who have been fighting against nuclear weapons and war since August 6th, 1945. 

    The unity and international solidarity of the working class people has the power to abolish nuclear arms.

    People say that when Obama comes to Hiroshima and visits the Peace Museum, he will be more serious in working for the abolition of nuclear arms. But this is a groundless illusion. What was the content of the review of US Secretary of State Kerry, who visited the Peace Memorial Museum and "sincerely" viewed the exhibition after the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in April?  He wrote: "War must not be the first means but the last resort."

    That was Kerry's immediate impression of the Peace Museum. And still they Kerry and Obama alike are preaching the need to maintain the war (that is, a nuclear war) as a last resort! The rulers of the United States have enough knowledge about the reality of the nuclear explosion through the findings of the ABCC (Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission) research, including the cases of serious internal exposure, and have long concealed the facts and materials regarding nuclear disaster. That is why they will by no means renounce the nuke as a final weapon.

    War and the nuke are indispensable for the capitalists and the dominant power of the 1% to rule and divide the working people of the 99%: they try to bring antagonism among working people of the world and force them to kill each other for the interests of imperialism. We are witnessing the politics of "killing workers" such as dismissal, irregularization, ultra-low wages and overwork, and the politics of suppressing struggles such as those against war, nuclear arms and power, and military bases. The aggressive war (nuclear war) is the continuation of these politics and it's Obama and Abe who are enforcing these politics.

    We reject the idea to ask Obama and Abe to make efforts for peace or to take countermeasures by means of nuclear weapons like the rulers of North Korea and China. Instead, the working people of the 99% will unite and achieve international solidarity to fight back firmly against the rulers of the 1%. This is the only way to eliminate war and nuclear arms. The primary task we have to do is forming solidarity with the KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions), who is fighting with repeated decisive general strikes against the new Korean war being prepared by the "Korea-USA-Japan military alliance."

    We call upon all citizens to participate in the demonstrations on May 26th-27th against the visit of Obama to Hiroshima, shoulder to shoulder with atomic bomb sufferers who stand fast to their anti-war and anti-nuclear principle in solidarity with fighting labor unions and student councils.

    May 19th, 2016



    3)  House Set to Subject 64,000 Household Chemicals to Regulation

    MAY 24, 2016




    The House is set to pass a bill on Tuesday intended to overhaul the nation's 40-year-old law governing toxic chemicals, a measure that would for the first time subject thousands of household chemicals to regulation. The House vote will send the bill to the Senate, where it is expected to pass this week or early next, moving the measure to President Obama's desk.

    Public health advocates and environmentalists have complained for decades that the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act is outdated and riddled with gaps that leave Americans exposed to harmful chemicals. Under current law, around 64,000 chemicals are not subject to environmental testing or regulation.

    Efforts to tighten the law have stalled for years, in part because of opposition from the chemical industry. The bipartisan authors of the bill say their breakthrough represents a pragmatic, politically viable compromise between better environmental standards and the demands of industry. In particular, Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, worked closely with the American Chemistry Council to come up with language that would win the support of the industry and pass through the generally regulation-averse Republican Congress.

    The new bill would require the Environmental Protection Agency to begin conducting tests on those 64,000 chemicals, but at a fairly slow pace: It would require the agency to be conducting tests on about 20 chemicals at a time, with a deadline of seven years per chemical. It would also allow the agency's regulations to pre-empt stronger state-level rules.

    But while the chemical lobby has lauded the bill, environmental groups are lukewarm about it at best. "We're not in support of the bill. But we're not formally opposing it," said Andy Igrejas, the campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, which has lobbied on the bill on behalf of about 450 environmental and public health groups.

    "This bill has some real reforms that give E.P.A. authority to go after more chemicals and order more testing," Mr. Igrejas said, "but taking authority away from the states is a real limitation."



    4) U.S. Household Debt Rises to $12.25 Trillion in First Quarter: New York Fed

    MAY 24, 2016, 11:06 A.M. E.D.T.


    WASHINGTON — Total U.S. household debt rose to $12.25 trillion in the first quarter of 2016, due largely to an increase in mortgages, according to a survey released on Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

    That was an increase of $136 billion from the fourth quarter of 2015 and $401 billion more than one year ago, the New York Fed said.

    Mortgage balances also rose to $8.37 trillion, a $198 billion increase from a year ago, the survey showed.

    Student loan debt stood at $1.26 trillion, up $72 billion from a year ago, while auto loan debt increased to $1.07 trillion, a rise of $103 billion over the same period.

    (Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Paul Simao)



    5)  Indonesian Children Face Hazards on Tobacco Farms, Report Says

    MAY 25, 2016


    JAKARTA, Indonesia — Thousands of children working in Indonesia's tobacco industry, one of the world's largest, are being subjected to nicotine poisoning and exposed to pesticides, according to a report released Wednesday that called for establishing traceable supply chains to discourage the use of child labor.

    The reportpublished by Human Rights Watch, based in New York, said that many Indonesian children working on tobacco farms, mostly on the country's main island of Java, suffer from nausea, vomiting, headaches or dizziness, all of which can be signs that nicotine has seeped into the skin.

    The children, who usually work without protective clothing, are also exposed to pesticides, and they face the additional hazards of doing heavy labor in extreme heat using sharp tools, the report from the rights group said.

    "Kids are handling tobacco in their bare hands, and it can soak into the skin," Margaret Wurth, a children's rights researcher for Human Rights Watch and one of the report's authors, said in an interview in Jakarta before its release.

    The report, titled "The Harvest Is in My Blood," calls on domestic and foreign tobacco companies that buy the crop to ban suppliers that employ underage children. Indonesia is trying to put its palm oil industry, the world's largest, under similar scrutiny by ensuring that the oil is sold from sustainable sources that do not contribute to the destruction of rain forests. The government, major palm oil producers and industry associations have signed on to the effort, but it remains a work in progress.

    Most Indonesian tobacco is sold on the open market, making it virtually impossible to determine where it was produced. Indonesia is the world's fifth-largest tobacco producer.

    Agriculture, including small-scale, family-run farms, is the country's largest industry. The International Labor Organization has estimated that more than 1.5 million Indonesian children do agricultural work.

    Children between the ages of 13 and 15 are legally allowed to do "light work" on tobacco plantations during hours when school is not in session. But Human Rights Watch's investigation, which covered planting and harvesting seasons across Java and the island of Lombok in 2014 and 2015, found that children as young as 8 were doing heavy labor, Ms. Wurth said.

    Virtually all of Indonesia's more than 500,000 tobacco farms are family-run operations on 2.5 acres of land or less, according to the report, which said that adult workers as well as children were engaging in risky practices. "There's no meaningful training or health education," Ms. Wurth said.

    She said that most Indonesian children working in tobacco fields do not go to local health clinics when they become ill, making it difficult to determine whether the number who get sick is in the thousands or the tens of thousands. "We also don't know what the long-term health impacts might be," she said.

    Human Rights Watch said it had shared its findings with 13 Indonesian and multinational tobacco companies operating here and that 10 had replied. None of the Indonesian companies gave a detailed response, and two did not respond to repeated inquiries, according to the rights group.



    6)  Whistle-Blower, Beware

    MAY 26, 2016



    SHOULD it be a crime to report a crime? Many top officials in Washington seem to think so, at least in the case of Edward Snowden.

    June 6 will be the third anniversary of The Guardian's publication of top-secret documents provided by Mr. Snowden that showed that the National Security Agency was collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans.

    Outraged by this assault on the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure, Tea Party Republicans and progressive Democrats joined to block reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act's surveillance provisions last year. Only after the N.S.A. was required to obtain warrants to examine such records was reauthorization approved.

    But Mr. Snowden, the whistle-blower who set this reform in motion with his disclosures, is persona non grata in the nation's capital. Democrats and Republicans alike have denounced him as a traitor.

    President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have also been unyielding. Mr. Snowden, now in Russia, deliberately broke the law and should not "be brought home without facing the music," Mrs. Clinton said in a Democratic presidential debate.

    "He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistle-blower," she said. "He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that."

    Thomas Drake would disagree. So would John Crane.

    Their intertwined stories, revealed this week, make clear that Secretary Clinton's and President Obama's faith in whistle-blower protections is unfounded, and cast Mr. Snowden's actions in a different light.

    Mr. Snowden has expressed his debt to Mr. Drake. "If there hadn't been a Thomas Drake," he told Al Jazeera, "there couldn't have been an Edward Snowden."

    Mr. Drake was a senior N.S.A. official who had also complained, 12 years earlier, about warrantless surveillance. As a career military man, he followed the course later advocated by President Obama and Secretary Clinton. Joining others with similar concerns, he went up the chain of command, finally ending up at the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General.

    Things did not go well. In 2007, years after he first raised his concerns, F.B.I. agents raided his house brandishing a search warrant alleging an "unlawful disclosure of classified national defense information." He was forced to resign and was indicted on 10 felony charges arising from an alleged "scheme" to improperly "retain and disclose classified information."

    He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for "exceeding authorized use of a government computer" in exchange for the government's dropping the other charges. The federal judge who oversaw his case blasted prosecutors for putting Mr. Drake through "four years of hell." He now works at an Apple store.

    Mr. Snowden followed the Drake case closely in the news media and drew the obvious conclusion: Going through channels was worse than a dead end.

    Mr. Crane, a former assistant inspector general in the Defense Department who oversaw the whistle-blower program, has now come forward alleging that Mr. Drake was persecuted by the very officials in his office who were supposed to protect him.

    In interviews with me, and in sworn accounts to the government's Office of Special Counsel, Mr. Crane provided a new chapter in the Snowden story.

    Mr. Crane argues that the Defense Department broke the law in Mr. Drake's case. (Mr. Crane resigned in 2013 after he was told he would be dismissed.)

    Assuring whistle-blowers' anonymity is a core provision of federal laws protecting them. This confidentiality is considered essential to shield them from retaliation. Yet somehow, Mr. Crane said, Mr. Drake's name came to the attention of the F.B.I. This struck him as suspicious.

    (Only in certain cases of imminent public danger or lawbreaking can a whistle-blower's identity be disclosed, but there's never been any indication that an exception was invoked. In any case, that danger seems far-fetched.)

    Moreover, he said, parts of the Drake indictment so closely tracked the information that Mr. Drake had provided to the inspector general's office that the confidential material must have been shared with prosecutors.

    In addition, Mr. Crane said he was told by superiors that possibly exculpatory documents relevant to Mr. Drake's prosecution had been destroyed. Mr. Crane suspected wrongdoing.

    He complained to the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency charged with protecting federal employees from reprisal for whistle-blowing. The agency concluded in March that there was a "substantial likelihood" that the alleged record destruction pointed to possible violations of laws or rules and merited investigation.

    The special counsel's office wants to know whether those records were destroyed; if so, why; and whether officials in the inspector general's office provided false or inaccurate information about those records to the Justice Department or the judge in Mr. Drake's case.

    The Justice Department's inspector general has agreed to investigate.

    For Mr. Snowden, the Drake episode confirmed what he suspected all along. He had only two real options: remain silent, or break the law by leaking documents to the press in hopes that would bring scrutiny to the N.S.A.'s surveillance activities.

    Mr. Snowden has admitted he broke the law. But he did so, he explained, because of an overriding public interest: People had a right to know about the warrantless surveillance of them.

    Mr. Snowden has said that he will return to the United States if he can get a fair trial. In his view, that means being allowed to offer a "public interest defense." His lawyers would argue that he had to commit one crime — leaking documents to journalists — to report a greater crime: warrantless surveillance.

    But the law forbids this approach. The Espionage Act does not allow a public interest defense: The accused either leaked documents or he didn't, and if he did, guilty is the only possible verdict.

    If a whistle-blower is willing to take that risk to alert the American people to dangers, the least the law should do is take full account of the whistle-blower's intentions. The Espionage Act should be amended to allow a public interest defense. Let Mr. Snowden come home and face trial. But make it an honest trial.



    7)  U.S. Judge's Striking Move in Felony Drug Case: Probation, Not Prison

    MAY 25, 2016





    A federal judge in Brooklyn, in an extraordinary opinion issued on Wednesday that calls for courts to pay closer attention to how felony convictions affect people's lives, sentenced a woman in a drug case to probation rather than prison, saying the collateral consequences she would face as a felon were punishment enough.

    The judge, Frederic Block of Federal District Court, said such consequences served "no useful function other than to further punish criminal defendants after they have completed their court-imposed sentences."

    The judge noted that there were nearly 50,000 federal and state statutes and regulations that imposed penalties on felons.

    Those penalties — denial of government benefits, ineligibility for public housing, suspension of student loans, revocation or suspension of driver's licenses — can have devastating effects, he wrote, adding that they may be "particularly disruptive to an ex-convict's efforts at rehabilitation and reintegration into society."

    The issue of collateral consequences has been considered by other courts, but Judge Block's 42-page opinion, with his call for reform, appears to be one of the most detailed examinations yet.

    Judge Block's sentencing opinion was issued in the case of Chevelle Nesbeth, who was arrested last year at Kennedy International Airport after a search of her luggage turned up 600 grams of cocaine, court records show.

    In the opinion, the judge said he considered her crimes to be serious and called her criminal conduct "inexcusable." But he also listed an array of consequences that she would quite likely face as a result of her felony drug convictions, like being ineligible for grants, loans and work assistance for two years, the duration of her college career.

    He noted that the inability to obtain housing and employment stemming from a conviction often results in "further disastrous consequences, such as losing child custody or going homeless," and leads to many ex-convicts' "becoming recidivists and restarting the criminal cycle."

    The judge's ruling does not create a binding legal precedent for other courts, but it is likely to contribute to the national debate about the criminal justice system.

    Gabriel J. Chin, a professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Law, called the opinion "groundbreaking."

    "This is by some distance the most careful and thorough judicial examination" of collateral consequences in sentencing, said Professor Chin, who has written on the subject and whose work the judge cited in the opinion.

    "It's going to generate debate on a critical issue in the criminal justice system — the ability of people convicted of crimes to get on with their lives," he said.

    Ms. Nesbeth had claimed that she was given the suitcases by friends and was unaware they contained drugs. A jury was unpersuaded, convicting her of importation of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, the judge wrote. She faced a sentence of 33 to 41 months under the advisory guidelines.

    But in a hearing on Tuesday, Judge Block sentenced Ms. Nesbeth to one year of probation, to include six months of home confinement and 100 hours of community service, and said he would elaborate on his reasoning in the full opinion.

    Amanda L. David, a federal public defender representing Ms. Nesbeth, said of the ruling, "It's refreshing, really, to see a judge considering the ramifications that a lot of people don't even know about, much less consider, when they think about a person being sentenced." But even with the probationary sentence, Ms. David said, it was disheartening that there "are all these doors that are closed to her based on her conviction."

    The United States attorney's office in Brooklyn declined to comment. But in a memo to the judge before sentencing, the office said the collateral consequences of Ms. Nesbeth's convictions were necessary given her "serious criminal conduct." Such restrictions, the office added, were "meant to promote public safety, by limiting an individual's access to certain jobs or sensitive areas," and "to ensure that government resources are being spent on those who obey the law."

    In the opinion, Judge Block quoted from the work of the legal scholar Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness."

    "Today a criminal freed from prison has scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a freed slave or a black person living 'free' in Mississippi at the height of Jim Crow," she wrote in one section quoted by Judge Block.

    The judge noted that Ms. Nesbeth, who was 20 at the time of her conviction and lived with her mother in New Haven, had been enrolled in college and was also working as a nail technician to help support herself.

    Daniel C. Richman, a former federal prosecutor who teaches criminal law at Columbia, added that "however laudable it is for the judge to highlight this problem, his decision can't solve it, even for this defendant."

    "As the judge himself has made clear," Professor Richman added, "the source of the problem is outside of his control, all these different statutes."

    Indeed, Judge Block, who has served for more than two decades on the federal bench, said that while judges should consider such consequences at sentencing, it was for Congress and state legislatures "to determine whether the plethora of post-sentence punishments imposed upon felons is truly warranted, and to take a hard look at whether they do the country more harm than good."



    8)  Pollution From Canadian Oil Sands Vapor Is Substantial, Study Finds

    MAY 25, 2016



    OTTAWA — The amount of pollution created by vapor from Canada's oil sands, which contributes to climate change, ranks on par with most major cities in North America, according to a new study by the country's environmental regulator that was published on Wednesday.

    While the connection between the oil sands' carbon emissions and climate change is well documented, the study, which was funded by the regulator, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and appeared in Nature, is the first to track the vapor produced in the process and the extent of the pollution that results. It also adds the particularly weighty voice of the Canadian government to the debate.

    In recent months, the government, under the leadership of the new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has reversed course on global climate change. While the country's economy depends heavily on resources like the oil sands, Mr. Trudeau has made climate change a priority on his agenda.

    The study was published just as several major oil sands operations were trying to reopen after being evacuated because of a massive wildfire in the Fort McMurray, Alberta area. Earlier efforts to restart operations were abandoned after the fire swung north and reached the perimeter of Suncor's and Syncrude's large mines and plants. Large fire breaks prevented any damage, however.

    The study takes a close look at what happens to the tarlike bitumen of the oil sands. Vapor from the bitumen is released into the air when it is dug up in open pit mines and later as the oil is separated out.

    Once in the atmosphere and exposed to sunlight, those vapors mix with other chemicals to become particles known as secondary organic aerosols, or S.O.A.s. Those aerosols, which form a major component of smog, are considered a risk to human health.

    John Liggio, a scientist with the air quality research division of Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the rate at which the oil sands created those particles was unexpected.

    "The chemistry tells us this should happen," said Mr. Liggio, who is based in Toronto. "We were surprised by the extent. It's greater than Houston."

    The concentration of oil refineries around Houston makes it a particularly large source of the particles. But Mr. Liggio said the oil sands were rivaled by only the largest metropolitan areas, like Los Angeles, in North America when it came to creating the particles. Vehicle exhaust and electrical generation are the main sources of the particles in cities.

    The paper found that the rate of particle production related to the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico was about the same as that of the oil sands. "But the spill lasted only for a few months; the oil sands has been operated for decades," Mr. Liggio said. He added that the oil sands vapor also converts more easily into polluting particles than fumes from lighter grades of oil.

    Shao-Meng Li, another Environment Canada scientist and co-author of the study, said the S.O.A. particles tended to lower temperatures by reflecting energy back toward the sun. All atmospheric particles, he said, are know to harm cardiovascular and respiratory health.

    "This is all new information for us," said Terry Abel, the director of oil sands at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. "It's one more piece of information about what's happening in the environment in and around these facilities." He said more research would be needed to determine the impact of the particles.

    The study was based on data gathered by specialized instruments on aircraft that flew around the major oil sands sites north of Fort McMurray. The researchers want to focus their future efforts on determining how and where most of the vapor is released. Other scientists are also studying the effects of the particles after they make their inevitable descent back to earth.

    The researchers on the study also want to look at whether oil sands projects that use underground injections of steam to release the bitumen are any better than those that use open-pit mining. While Mr. Liggio said limiting emissions from the plants that process the oils sands after they were dug up might be possible, what could be done with those mines was less clear.

    "You can't build a huge bubble over a huge open pit mine," he said.



    9)  U.S. Sees First Case of Bacteria Resistant to Last-Resort Antibiotic

    "Many drugmakers have been reluctant to spend the money needed to develop new antibiotics, preferring to use their resources on medicines for cancer and rare diseases that command very high prices and lead to much larger profits. "

    MAY 27, 2016, 12:36 P.M. E.D.T


    (Reuters) - U.S. health officials on Thursday reported the first case in the country of a patient with an infection resistant to a last-resort antibiotic, and expressed grave concern that the superbug could pose serious danger for routine infections if it spreads.

    "We risk being in a post-antibiotic world," said Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, referring to the urinary tract infection of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman who had not traveled within the prior five months.

    Frieden, speaking at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, D.C., said the bacteria was resistant to colistin, an antibiotic that is reserved for use against "nightmare bacteria."

    The infection was reported Thursday in a study appearing in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. It said the superbug itself had first been infected with a tiny piece of DNA called a plasmid, which passed along a gene called mcr-1 that confers resistance to colistin.

    "(This) heralds the emergence of truly pan-drug resistant bacteria," said the study, which was conducted by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of mcr-1 in the USA."

    The patient visited a clinic on April 26 with symptoms of a urinary tract infection, according to the study, which did not describe her current condition. Authors of the study could not immediately be reached for comment.

    The study said continued surveillance to determine the true frequency of the gene in the United States is critical.

    "It is dangerous and we would assume it can be spread quickly, even in a hospital environment if it is not well contained," said Dr. Gail Cassell, a microbiologist and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School.

    But she said the potential speed of its spread will not be known until more is learned about how the Pennsylvania patient was infected, and how present the colistin-resistant superbug is in the United States and globally.


    In the United States, antibiotic resistance has been blamed for at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually.

    The mcr-1 gene was found last year in people and pigs in China, raising alarm.

    The potential for the superbug to spread from animals to people is a major concern, Cassell said.

    For now, Cassell said people can best protect themselves from it and from other bacteria resistant to antibiotics by thoroughly washing their hands, washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly and preparing foods appropriately.

    Experts have warned since the 1990s that especially bad superbugs could be on the horizon, but few drugmakers have attempted to develop drugs against them.

    Frieden said the need for new antibiotics is one of the more urgent health problems, as bugs become more and more resistant to current treatments. "The more we look at drug resistance, the more concerned we are," Frieden added. "The medicine cabinet is empty for some patients. It is the end of the road for antibiotics unless we act urgently." Overprescribing of antibiotics by physicians and in hospitals and their extensive use in food livestock have contributed to the crisis. More than half of all hospitalized patients will get an antibiotic at some point during their stay. But studies have shown that 30 percent to 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in hospitals are unnecessary or incorrect, contributing to antibiotic resistance. Many drugmakers have been reluctant to spend the money needed to develop new antibiotics, preferring to use their resources on medicines for cancer and rare diseases that command very high prices and lead to much larger profits. In January, dozens of drugmakers and diagnostic companies, including Pfizer, Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline, signed a declaration calling for new incentives from governments to support investment in development of medicines to fight drug-resistant superbugs.



    10)  Reduction of Nuclear Arsenal Has Slowed Under Obama, Report Finds

    "The new figures, released by the Pentagon, also highlight a trend — that the current administration has reduced the nuclear stockpile less than any other post-Cold War presidency."

    MAY 26, 2016


    A new census of the American nuclear arsenal shows that the Obama administration last year dismantled its smallest number of warheads since taking office.

    The new figures, released by the Pentagon, also highlight a trend — that the current administration has reduced the nuclear stockpile less than any other post-Cold War presidency.

    On Thursday, the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington that strongly supports arms control, issued an analysis of the new figures on its Strategic Security blog. The annual Pentagon release did not appear to be linked to President Obama's visit Friday to Hiroshima, Japan, which was destroyed by an American atomic bomb almost 71 years ago.

    Still, the new figures and private analysis underscored the striking gap between Mr. Obama's soaring vision of a world without nuclear arms, which he laid out during the first months of his presidency, and the tough geopolitical and bureaucratic realities of actually getting rid of those weapons.

    The lack of recent progress in both arms control and warhead dismantlement also seems to coincide with the administration's pushfor sweeping nuclear modernizations that include improved weapons, bombers, missiles and submarines. Those upgrades are estimated to cost up to $1 trillion over the next three decades.

    The new census is an annual public release that the Pentagon has done in recent years detailing how many weapons remain in the nation's nuclear arsenal and how many retired weapons have been disassembled.

    The census, which updates the numbers to include 2015, was posted this month on the Department of Defense's open government website under the heading "Declassification of Formerly Restricted Data." The site noted that the figures were current through Sept. 30, 2015, the end of the government's fiscal year.

    Supporters of Mr. Obama say the slowdowns are understandable given the rising level of hostility and intransigence of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, as well as the inherent difficulties involved in arms control and complex technical projects.

    The new figures show that in 2015 the Obama administration dismantled 109 warheads, the fewest of his presidency and down from a peak of 356 in 2009, his first year in office.

    The slowdown came despite Secretary of State John Kerry's tellingglobal arms controllers in April 2015 that "President Obama has decided that the United States will seek to accelerate the dismantlement of retired nuclear warheads by 20 percent."

    In March, in its annual report to Congress, the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the nation's nuclear arsenal, laid responsibility for the slowdown to "safety reviews, unusually high lightning events, and a worker strike at Pantex," a sprawling dismantlement plant in Texas. Lightning strikes at the plant can set off the high explosives used in destroying nuclear arms.

    On Thursday, Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the federation, questioned the administration's logic. "Although 2015 was unusually low," he wrote on his blog of the annual disassembly figure, "the Obama administration's dismantlement record clearly shows a trendline of fewer and fewer warheads dismantled."

    At the Obama administration's low rate, Mr. Kristensen added, the nation's backlog in nuclear arms dismantlement will persist "at least until 2024."

    On Thursday, the federation's blog also updated a nuclear issue that Mr. Kristensen first raised in 2014 — that Mr. Obama has reduced the size of the nation's nuclear stockpile at a far slower rate than did any of his three immediate predecessors, including George Bush and George W. Bush.

    The new Pentagon census shows that the nation's nuclear arsenal in 2015 stood at 4,571 warheads — down from 5,273 warheads in 2008, the last nuclear census of the administration of George W. Bush.

    The total reduction of 702 warheads, or 13.3 percent, Mr. Kristensennoted, "is no small number," but nonetheless represented "the smallest reduction of the stockpile achieved by any previous post-Cold War administration."

    To be fair, he added, the modest pace is not all Mr. Obama's fault.

    "His vision of significant reductions and putting an end to Cold War thinking has been undercut by opposition ranging from Congress to the Kremlin," Mr. Kristensen wrote. "An entrenched and almost ideologically-opposed Congress has fought his arms reduction vision every step of the way."

    Moscow, he added, has rejected cuts beyond modest ones it agreed to in the New Start treaty, which was signed in 2010 and observed beginning in 2011.

    Mr. Obama's visit to Hiroshima takes place in the shadow of his nuclear weapons legacy, Mr. Kristensen argued. His modest gains upset arms controllers, he wrote, not least because his modernization plans are "anything but modest."



    11)  Frogs That Escaped Extinction

    The Amazon gladiator frog is a fighter. But it could become a ghost. Extinction threatens 40 percent of amphibian species worldwide, and they are vanishing at alarming rates.

    This March, Robin Moore, a photographer and the communications director for the organization Global Wildlife Conservation , traveled to Panama to search for a single photo that would convey the gravity of the global extinction crisis threatening frogs, toads and other amphibians. After eight days of waiting for the right frog, at the right place and the right time, he captured that picture, which he titled, "The Vanishing." Its single long exposure was designed to give the frog a ghostly appearance and communicate that amphibians are disappearing forever around the world.

    Since 1980, more than 200 amphibian species have disappeared from the planet as a result of habitat losskiller fungivirusespollution, and the exacerbation of these threats from climate change. But in recent years some amphibian species that were thought to be lost have in a sense, emerged from the dead, leading scientists to study how they escaped extinction.

    In 2010, Mr. Moore and his colleagues created a Top 10 Most Wanted poster for lost frogs and launched "The Search for Lost Frogs," a campaign that took 100 scientists across 19 countries to find these Lazarus frogs. Its success led to a book, "In Search of Lost Frogs," published in 2014. Since then, the journey has continued and conservationists are working to establish ecotourism and nature reserves to protect the vital habitats where the lost frogs are found.

    These are some of the stories behind Mr. Moore's quest to elevate these big-eyed species to the level of more charismatic species — like the ones "with eyelashes," as he puts it.

    Borneo Rainbow Toad

    After this toad made Mr. Moore's Top 10 Most Wanted list in 2010, it took scientists eight months to find it in Malaysia's rain forest. They only had a scientific illustration of the toad, and didn't even know its color. But two researchers, Indraneil Das and Pui Yong Min, finally found it in 2011 at an elevation nearly 1,000 feet higher than its last sighting in 1914.

    Variable Harlequin Frog

    The poster child of lost frogs is the Variable Harlequin, which was rediscovered in Costa Rica in 2003 after chytrid fungus was thought to have decimated the population. By figuring out what allowed them to survive this plague, the species holds clues for solving the amphibian crisis.

    This frog only lives in two populations within about 100 yards of one another along one stream in a remote private reserve in Costa Rica. Mr. Moore reached out to dozens of herpetologists who could not or would not reveal the frog's ultra specific location.

    "Trying to find someone who could tell me where this was, was like trying to get into Fort Knox," he said.

    When he finally found a guide, there were no signs of the frog and humidity had disabled his camera. He was lucky that it started working again just at the moment he spotted the Variable Harlequin on a rock.

    Long-Limbed Salamander

    The Long-limbed Salamander was rediscovered in an area of a low-lying cloud forest in Guatemala in 2014, 40 years after it had last been seen. To get this shot, Mr. Moore traveled with two biologists, Paul Elias and Jeremy Jackson, retracing their footsteps by using their original 1970s field notes from when they first found the salamanders. Last year, international and local conservation groups established a new amphibian reserve for the rediscovered salamanders.

    Seeking One Toad, Finding Another

    Mr. Moore had no luck finding the Mesopotamia beaked toad (Rhinella rostrata), last seen in 1914 in the Choco forests of Colombia. But in the process, he stumbled upon this potentially new species of beaked toad. In 2010, this toad was named one of Time Magazine's top new species, and its comparison to Monty Burns, Homer's boss on "The Simpsons," brought it much attention.



    12)  French Unions Plan to Disrupt Euro 2016 Match Days

    MAY 27, 2016, 12:51 P.M. E.D.T


    PARIS — The hardline Force Ouvriere union will disrupt heavy goods traffic and public transport in cities where Euro 2016 matches will be held until a controversial labour law is withdrawn, a senior official from its transport division said on Friday.

    "We have decided that each match day in the towns concerned the federation would call strikes," Patrice Clos, who runs the union's transport division, told Reuters after a meeting of delegates.

    "It was decided that as this law touches on the economy of the workers, that we would hit the economy of the Euros ... until it is withdrawn," he said.

    He said sectors concerned included heavy goods traffic, public transport, ambulances and rubbish collectors.

    The month-long tournament begins at the Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris on June 10.

    (Reporting By Emmnauel Jarry; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Andrew Callus)



    13)  French Unions Clamor for Workers' Rights, and Relevance

    "After World War II, one in four French workers was a union member, according to the French national statistics bureau. But union membership has slowly dwindled. Today, less than 8 percent of all French workers are unionized, one of the lowest percentages in Western Europe. Scandinavian countries, by comparison, have union membership above 60 percent..."

    MAY 27, 2016


    PARIS — This week, it was the oil refinery workers who were striking, provoking shortages of gas and long lines at the pump.

    Next week, it will be airport staff members, including traffic controllers, forcing some travelers to consider canceling their plans or taking the train. (I've reserved a rail ticket to Spain in addition to my airplane ticket because I don't want to miss a friend's wedding.)

    Unions are also calling for unlimited strikes in the train and Paris Métro transport sector, and June 14 will be a nationwide day of strikes. One newspaper, Le Parisien, has taken to periodically publishing a roundup listing the next day's strikes to alert Paris-area readers what to expect and how to alter their routines.

    It may seem that the French are constantly on strike, or dealing with one. Yet overlooked in all the chanting, banner waving and tire burning is that the strike in France today is often a carefully choreographed dance between labor, government and the public and it is just the latest chapter in a 132-year tradition, dating from the founding of the country's first trade unions in 1884.

    Today, the unions can still turn out a mass protest that brings both their members and supporters into the streets, giving a sense of strength. But at least some of it is illusory; rarely do strikes shut down the country entirely — rather, they inconvenience it.

    Although unions retain a special significance here, especially to left-leaning political parties, their heyday in France has passed, labor experts say and union leaders, in their more candid moments, concede.

    Workers nearly everywhere are facing an onslaught of global pressures that seem only to gather with each passing decade. Those in France are no exception. The government's proposed new labor law — which is the focus of most of the strikes — is an attempt to grapple with some of those forces by loosening worker protections in the hopes of spurring hiring and economic growth.

    The law is now poised for debate before the Senate in mid-June, after the government forced it through the National Assembly this month, bypassing a vote with a rarely used executive power.

    It is hardly surprising when right-leaning governments, which generally tend to be antagonistic toward unions, push through legislation that unions oppose, but this is a Socialist government, which the unions supported at the ballot box and expected would protect their interests.

    The sense of betrayal stings, and that is part of the current round of protests against the government's new labor law. Opinion surveys show that while the public is not consistently enthusiastic about the strikes, it does not support the government's backing of the new measure, either.

    Yet the unions are divided as they fight to retain not only their workers' benefits, but also the relevance of the unions themselves.

    The union fighting hardest, the General Confederation of Labor, known as the C.G.T., represents many workers in the transportation and energy fields and still has enough power to make life deeply inconvenient across the country.

    But whether it could bring the country to a true halt is far less clear.

    "The more a union is weak, the more it tends to resort to protesting to be heard," said Guy Groux, a sociologist specializing in trade unionism at Sciences Po, a political science institute in Paris.

    After World War II, one in four French workers was a union member, according to the French national statistics bureau. But union membership has slowly dwindled.

    Today, less than 8 percent of all French workers are unionized, one of the lowest percentages in Western Europe. Scandinavian countries, by comparison, have union membership above 60 percent, according to the Office of Economic Cooperation and Development.

    The decline in France is partly explained by the fact that, unlike other European nations, joining a union in France does not necessarily give a worker more benefits. Rather, the agreements negotiated by a union apply to all employees regardless of union membership.

    Equally important, however, are the divisions among union members today, with some unions willing to accept the government's new labor measure and the C.G.T., one of the country's oldest, standing firm against it and railing against what it sees as a sellout by the government.

    A former head of the C.G.T., Louis Viannet, denounced the government for perpetrating an "aggression that is antisocial, anti-democratic, and I would say also anti-republican," an insult in France where to be a republican implies a loyalty almost to the concept of France.

    It is a government that has become a "a spokesman for management," he said.

    François Hollande, the president, is hardly right leaning, but he has moved his party right in order to fight an economic stagnation that has hardly budged over his last four years in office.

    He has promised to bring down the unemployment rate, which is over 10 percent. The labor law is his last-gasp attempt to do so before national elections next April. The unemployment rate has decreased slightly over the past two months, which had not happened since 2011, but Mr. Hollande's assertion that "ça va mieux" — "things are going better" — has been met with skepticism.

    Faced with censure from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund for not doing enough to stimulate the French economy, Mr. Hollande has tried to thread the needle between his left-wing supporters and those who are more moderate. He has tried to preserve many worker protections — France still has among the most generous terms for workers in Europe — but to modify them enough to entice businesses to create jobs.

    His problem is that the hard left will brook no modifications in the social contract as it stands.

    Mr. Groux, the sociologist, noted that it takes many fewer strikers to set fire to tires dragged in front of the entrances of refineries than it would to mount street protests, making the union's strength look more impressive than it may in fact be.

    On Friday, there were just 200 union members burning tires and debris blocking an oil depot in Donges, in northwestern France, and the police dispersed them peacefully by midafternoon.

    At the same time, however, at a Total refinery, workers voted to go on strike until the government withdrew the proposed labor law.

    The number of strikers blocking roads, however, is small because many within unions are conflicted about whether to strike. The differences among the unions make the strikes less able to fully immobilize the country than simply to inconvenience it.

    In fact, that is part of what makes strikes in France tolerable, if still a headache. It is rare that everything actually stops.

    Even union members concede that their greatest hope is not to lose ground — at least not yet. "For a while now most of the fights are defensive ones," said Mr. Viannet, the former head of the C.G.T.

    "That's typically the case with the labor law at the moment," he said. "The fact that we are forced to fight defensively isn't stimulating for the development of unionism, but we have to do it. The only battles that you are sure to lose are the ones you don't fight."



    14)  Korean Words, Straight From the Elephant's Mouth

    What in the World offers you glimpses of what our journalists are observing around the globe. Let us know what you think: whatintheworld@nytimes.com

    There's an elephant at a zoo outside Seoul that speaks Korean.

    — You mean, it understands some Korean commands, the way a dog can be trained to understand "sit" or "stay"? 

    No, I mean it can actually say Korean words out loud.

    — Pics or it didn't happen. 

    Here, watch the video.

    To be fair, the elephant, a 26-year-old Asian male named Koshik, doesn't really speak Korean, any more than a parrot can speak Korean (or English or Klingon). But parrots are supposed to, well, parrot — and elephants are not. And Koshik knows how to say at least five Korean words, which are about five more than I do.

    The really amazing part is how he does it. Koshik places his trunk inside his mouth and uses it to modulate the tone and pitch of the sounds his voice makes, a bit like a person putting his fingers in his mouth to whistle. In this way, Koshik is able to emulate human speech "in such detail that Korean native speakers can readily understand and transcribe the imitations," according to the journal Current Biology.

    What's in his vocabulary? Things he hears all the time from his keepers: the Korean words for hello, sit down, lie down, good and no.

    Lest you think this is just another circus trick that any Jumbo, Dumbo or Babar could pull off, the team of international scientists who wrote the journal article say Koshik's skills represent "a wholly novel method of vocal production and formant control in this or any other species."

    Like many innovations, Koshik's may have been born of sad necessity. Researchers say he started to imitate his keepers' sounds only after he was separated from other elephants at the age of 5 — and that his desire to speak like a human arose from sheer loneliness.



    15) One of the World's Greatest Art Collections Hides Behind This Fence

    The superrich have stashed millions of works in

    tax-free storage. So what does that mean for the art?

    The drab free port zone near the Geneva city center, a compound of blocky gray and vanilla warehouses surrounded by train tracks, roads and a barbed-wire fence, looks like the kind of place where beauty goes to die. But within its walls, crated or sealed cheek by jowl in cramped storage vaults, are more than a million of some of the most exquisite artworks ever made.

    Treasures from the glory days of ancient Rome. Museum-quality paintings by old masters. An estimated 1,000 works by Picasso.

    As the price of art has skyrocketed, perhaps nothing illustrates the art-as-bullion approach to contemporary collecting habits more than the proliferation of warehouses like this one, where masterpieces are increasingly being tucked away by owners more interested in seeing them appreciate than hanging on walls.

    With their controlled climates, confidential record keeping and enormous potential for tax savings, free ports have become the parking lot of choice for high-net-worth buyers looking to round out investment portfolios with art.

    "For some collectors, art is being treated as a capital asset in their portfolio," said Evan Beard, who advises clients on art and finance at U.S. Trust. "They are becoming more financially savvy, and free ports have become a pillar of all of this."

    The trend is prompting concerns about the use of these storage spaces for illegal activities. It is also causing worries within the art world about the effect such wholesale storage has on art itself. "Treating art as a commodity and just hiding it in storage is something that to me is not really moral," said Eli Broad, a major contemporary art collector who last year opened his own Los Angeles museum.

    Free ports originated in the 19th century for the temporary storage of goods like grain, tea and industrial goods. In the last few decades, however, a handful of them — including Geneva's — have increasingly come to operate as storage lockers for the superrich. Located in tax-friendly countries and cities, free ports offer savings and security that collectors and dealers find almost irresistible. (Someone who buys a $50 million painting at auction in New York, for example, is staring at a $4.4 million sales tax bill. Ship it to a free port, and the bill disappears, at least until you decide to bring it back to New York.)

    At least four major free ports in Switzerland specialize in storing art and other luxury goods like wine and jewelry, and there are four more — most newly minted — around the world: Singapore (2010); Monaco (2012); Luxembourg (2014); and Newark, Del., (2015).

    Concerned by the rapid growth of these private storage spaces and worried that they could become havens for contraband and money laundering, Swiss officials initiated an audit in 2012, the results of which were published two years ago. The results revealed a huge increase in the value of goods stored in some warehouses since 2007, led by an increase in high-value goods like art. Though the audit did not specifically measure the increase in stored artworks, it estimated that there were more than 1.2 million pieces of art in the Geneva Free Port alone, some of which had not left the buildings in decades.

    Many masterpieces have long lived outside of public view, buried in the basements of museums or tucked away in the private villas of the rich.

    But the free ports are drawing more criticism and concern, namely: Are they bad for art? Does the boxing up of millions of valuable works pervert the very essence of what art is supposed to do?

    Yes, say many in the art world. "Works of art are created to be viewed," said the director of the Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez, who described free ports as the greatest museums no one can see.

    Some see even higher stakes for contemporary works, as they can be whisked off, their paint hardly dry, before ever entering the public's consciousness. Storage puts the art "intellectually almost in a coma," said Joanne Heyler, the director of the Broad Museum.

    Not everyone agrees, pointing out that there is plenty of art in the world for people to see and that much art was created as private property. "Paintings are not a public good," said David Nash, a New York gallery owner.

    Even so, some collectors whose businesses have come to depend on free port storage are a bit sheepish. "It is a shame," Helly Nahmad, a London dealer whose family is said to store 4,500 works in the Geneva Free Port, told The Art Newspaper in 2011. "It is like a composer making a piece of music, and no one listens to it."

    So just what works are locked away? Because most art is tucked into storage spaces quietly, it is difficult to know what is where at any given moment.

    But assorted legal disputes, investigations and periodic exhibitions featuring stored works have provided glimpses of specific pieces lost from view.

    There are the rare Etruscan sarcophagi discovered in Geneva by the Italian police two years ago, found among 45 crates of looted antiquities, some still wrapped in Italian newspapers from the 1970s.

    And the $2 billion collection of the Russian billionaire Dmitry M. Rybolovlev, which includes a Rothko, a van Gogh, a Renoir, Klimt's "Water Serpents II," El Greco's "Saint Sebastian," Picasso's "Les Noces de Pierrette" and Leonardo da Vinci's "Christ as Salvator Mundi."

    (Mr. Rybolovlev is suing his former art adviser, a major free port operator in Geneva, and has since shifted his collection from Geneva to storage in Cyprus, according to court papers filed last year.)

    Some 19 works by Pierre Bonnard, a master of Post-Impressionism, are owned by the Wildenstein family, one of the great art-dealing families of the 20th century, according to the former lawyer for the widow of the patriarch, Daniel Wildenstein.

    And there is a portrait of Picasso's second wife, Jacqueline, by the artist, along with 78 of his other works, shipped by his stepdaughter, Catherine Hutin, to the Geneva Free Port in 2012, according to legal papers.

    "If Jacqueline was alive and knew that her paintings were in the free ports, she would just be devastated," said Pepita Dupont, author of a book about Jacqueline Picasso.

    Despite enhanced Swiss efforts to track inventory and ownership, the free ports there remain an opaque preserve (though more transparent these days than counterparts in places like Singapore), filled with objects whose ownership can be confoundingly convoluted.

    Case in point: $28 million worth of works by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Joan Miró and others now stored in the Geneva Free Port. Equalia, a company registered by Mossack Fonseca (the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers controversy about how the wealthy conceal their riches), stored the works on behalf of a diamond broker, Erez Daleyot, in 2009. Once in storage, the art was used as collateral for debts Mr. Daleyot owed to a Belgian bank, according to court papers. Now a man named Leon Templesman, president of a New York diamond manufacturing company, Lazare Kaplan International, is trying to seize the art as part of a dispute with Mr. Daleyot and the bank.

    Mr. Templesman said the free port's embrace of confidentiality made such seizures more complicated. The bank, KBC, said it had kept the art in the free port "out of precaution" and that it could not comment further on a matter involving one of its clients.

    David Hiler, president of the Geneva Free Port, said that as a result of the audit, the Swiss were working to address concerns about lack of transparency. Come September, he said, all storage contracts will require that clients allow additional inspections of any archaeological artifacts they want stored there.

    Collectors and dealers choose to store art in the free ports for more pedestrian reasons than tax avoidance. Some simply have no more room in their homes, said Georgina Hepburne Scott, who advises collectors. And in a free port, their property is protected in climate-controlled environments, often under video surveillance and behind fire-resistant walls.

    "When it is brought to light, the work is preserved; it's not been hanging above a smoky fireplace," she said.

    Some warehouses also have viewing rooms where collectors can review their art and show it to potential buyers. This year, after voters in Geneva rejected a plan to expand the major art museum, a Swiss lawyer, Christophe Germann, wrote a newspaper column advocating wholesale sharing, arguing that free ports be forced to open their doors to let people see public displays of the private collections, a worthy trade-off for the tax benefits collectors receive.

    For many living artists, meanwhile, the fact that their work might be stored away in a climate-controlled bunker has become part of the reality of doing business.

    "Ideally, I would like my work to be on display rather than in storage," said Julia Wachtel, a contemporary artist who knows that some of her collectors occasionally store art.

    At their worst, Ms. Wachtel said, free ports represent a financial system in which investors have no connection to the art they buy. But she also recognizes that storage warehouses allow responsible collectors to manage their works and their limited wall space.

    "People buying art is what keeps artists alive," she said.

    And at the end of the day, dealers say that most artworks eventually surface.

    "Even if it stays there for the lifetime of the collector," said a New York dealer, Ezra Chowaiki, "it's not going to be there forever. It will come out."



    16)  Number of Displaced Afghans Has More Than Doubled Since 2013

    KABUL, Afghanistan — The number of Afghans internally displaced by the 15-year conflict in their country has more than doubled since the beginning of 2013, with an average of 1,000 people a day forced from their homes this year alone, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

    A sign that the war continues to affect civilians in large numbers came even as Amnesty sought to draw attention to their desperate situation. The Taliban attacked passenger buses in the northern province of Kunduz early Tuesday morning, killing at least 10 passengers and abducting dozens, local officials said.

    The Amnesty report, released at a news conference in Kabul, the capital, said that many of the 1.2 million displaced Afghans were living in miserable conditions in camps, lacking adequate water, food and health facilities.

    While their number, which stood at about 500,000 at the end of 2012, has more than doubled since then, resources allocated to dealing with the situation have reached the lowest point since 2009, the report said.

    In 2015, it said, the United Nations allocated $292 million for its humanitarian response to displaced Afghans.

    "While the world's attention seems to have moved on from Afghanistan, we risk forgetting the plight of those left behind by the conflict," said Champa Patel, South Asia director at Amnesty International.

    "Even after fleeing their homes to seek safety," she said, "increasing numbers of Afghans are languishing in appalling conditions in their own country and fighting for their survival with no end in sight."

    The violence on Tuesday in Kunduz Province, whose capital briefly fell to the Taliban in the fall, came after weeks of concern about the insurgents' disruption of the main highway in the north. They have attacked convoys on the highway in Kunduz and in the neighboring province of Baghlan.

    The number of passengers killed and abducted on Tuesday was unclear, with officials providing different figures.

    The deputy police commander for Kunduz, Masoom Khan Hashemi, said the Taliban had abducted about 175 passengers from two buses and a van that were traveling to Takhar and Badakhshan Provinces.

    The attackers killed 10 of the passengers, of whom nine bodies were retrieved by the police, Mr. Hashemi said. They held 18 others and freed the rest.

    "When we were opening our shops early in the morning, they were slowly freeing some of the passengers, among them women and children," said Khial Mohammad, a shopkeeper in the nearby area of Shna Tapa.

    Mr. Hashemi said the passengers were "not soldiers, government contractors or related to the government," but local elders and family members who came to retrieve bodies at the main Kunduz hospital said that at least some of those killed were members of the Afghan police or local government militias who were traveling home.

    The Taliban's main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement that the insurgents had detained 26 members of the Afghan Army and police who were traveling in civilian clothes, and had let go other passengers from three vehicles they had stopped. Six of the detainees were killed as they were trying to flee, the statement said.



    17)  Old and on the Street: The Graying of America's Homeless

    The emergence of an older homeless population is
    creating daunting challenges for social service agencies
    and governments already struggling to fight poverty.

    MAY 31, 2016





    LOS ANGELES — They lean unsteadily on canes and walkers, or roll along the sidewalks of Skid Row here in beat-up wheelchairs, past soiled sleeping bags, swaying tents and piles of garbage. They wander the streets in tattered winter coats, even in the warmth of spring. They worry about the illnesses of age and how they will approach death without the help of children who long ago drifted from their lives.

    "It's hard when you get older," said Ken Sylvas, 65, who has struggled with alcoholism and has not worked since he was fired in 2001 from a meatpacking job. "I'm in this wheelchair. I had a seizure and was in a convalescent home for two months. I just ride the bus back and forth all night."

    The homeless in America are getting old.

    There were 306,000 people over 50 living on the streets in 2014, the most recent data available, a 20 percent jump since 2007, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They now make up 31 percent of the nation's homeless population.

    The demographic shift is mirrored by a noticeable but not as sharp increase among homeless people ages 18 to 30, many who entered the job market during the Great Recession. They make up 24 percent of the homeless population. Like the baby boomers, these young people came of age during an economic downturn, confronting a tight housing and job market. Many of them are former foster children or runaways, or were victims of abuse at home.

    But it is the emergence of an older homeless population that is creating daunting challenges for social service agencies and governments already struggling with this crisis of poverty. "Baby boomers have health and vulnerability issues that are hard to tend to while living in the streets," said Alice Callaghan, an Episcopal priest who has spent 35 years working with the homeless in Los Angeles.

    Many older homeless people have been on the streets for almost a generation, analysts say, a legacy of the recessions of the late 1970s and early 1980s, federal housing cutbacks and an epidemic of crack cocaine. They bring with them a complicated history that may include a journey from prison to mental health clinic to rehabilitation center and back to the sidewalks.

    Some are more recent arrivals and have been forced — at a time of life when some people their age are debating whether to retire to Arizona or to Florida — to learn the ways of homelessness after losing jobs in the latest economic downturn. And there are some on a fixed income who cannot afford the rent in places like Los Angeles, which has a vacancy rate of less than 3 percent.

    Horace Allong, 60, said he could not afford a one-room apartment and lives in a tent on Crocker Street. Mr. Allong, who divorced his wife and left New Orleans for Los Angeles two years ago, said he lost his wallet and all of his identification two weeks after he arrived and has not been able to find a job.

    "It's the first time I've been on the streets, so I'm learning," he said. "There's nothing like Skid Row. Skid Row is another world."

    The problems with homelessness are hardly uniform across the country. The national homeless population declined by 2 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Renewal. Some communities — including Phoenix and Las Vegas — have declared outright victory in eliminating homelessness among veterans, a top goal of the White House.

    But homelessness is rising in big cities where gentrification is on the march and housing costs are rising, like Los Angeles, New York, Honolulu and San Francisco. Los Angeles reported a 5.7 percent increase in its homeless population last year, the second year in a row it had recorded a jump. More than 20 percent of the nation's homeless lived in California last year, according to the housing agency.

    Across Southern California, the homeless live in tent encampments clustered on corners from Venice to the San Fernando Valley, and in communities sprouting under highway overpasses or in the dry bed of the Los Angeles River. Their sleeping bags and piles of belongings line sidewalks on Santa Monica Boulevard.

    Along with these visible signs of homelessness come complaints about aggressive panhandling, public urination and disorderly conduct, as well as a rise in drug dealing and petty crimes.

    "There is a sense out there that some communities are seeing a new visible homeless problem that they have not seen in many years," said Dennis P. Culhane, a professor of social policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Beleaguered officials in Los Angeles, Seattle and Hawaii have declared states of emergency, rolling out measures to combat homelessness and pledging to increase spending on low-cost housing. Honolulu has imposed a prohibition on sitting or lying on sidewalks in the neighborhood of Waikiki. San Francisco has cleared out some encampments, only for them to sprout up in other parts of the city. Seattle has tried to create designated tent camps that are overseen by social service agencies.

    Settling Into Patterns

    The aging of the homeless population is on display in cities large and small, but perhaps in no place more than here on Skid Row, a grid of blocks just southeast of the vibrant economic center of downtown Los Angeles, where many of the nation's poor have long flocked, drawn by a year-round temperate climate and a cluster of missions and clinics.

    Outside the Hippie Kitchen, which feeds the homeless of Skid Row three mornings a week, the line stretched half a block up Sixth Street on a recent day, a graying gathering of men and women waiting for a breakfast of beans and salad. Garland Balancad, 55, scooping food from his plate, said he had more to worry about than his next meal, where to hide his shopping cart or which sidewalk to lay his sleeping bag on after dark.

    "I'm getting old," Mr. Balancad said, lifting himself to his feet with a cane. "I don't want to go into one of these shelters. I don't want to get some disease."

    Kin Crawford, 59, said he had fallen out of the job market long ago as he battled alcohol and drug addiction. "Right now, I'm sleeping in someone's garage," he said. "My biggest challenge out here? Access to a bathroom. It's really crazy. That and finding a place to keep your stuff."

    This is a fluid population, defying precise count or categorization. Some might enjoy a stretch of stability, holding down a job for a while or finding a spare bed with a friend. But more than anything, these are men and women who, as they enter old age, have settled into patterns they seem unwilling, or unable, to break.

    "We are seeing people who have been on the street year after year after year," said Jerry Jones, the director of public policy at the Inner City Law Center in Los Angeles.

    Mr. Sylvas said the lines at the Hippie Kitchen were growing longer, and there were more tents on the sidewalks. "It's getting worse," he said. "You can see it. A lot more old ones."

    'As Sad as You Can Imagine'

    Sylvia Welker is 70, but she maneuvers her electric wheelchair around the obstacles of her world — the lurches in the buckling sidewalks, the sharp curb drop on Crocker Street, the piles of clothes on the pavement, the tourists rushing through Skid Row on the way to the Arts District — with confidence and precision.

    For Ms. Welker, who has been divorced and on her own since 1981, this is the latest stop in a tumultuous journey. She lived in Lancaster, in California's high desert, until she was evicted about five years ago, unable to pay the rent. She tried to sleep on the streets, shivering on the sidewalks at night, until she finally pleaded for a room in the home of a daughter. "I told my daughter I'm not going to make it because of my handicap," she said, referring to her right leg, which she said she almost lost after she was hit by a car.

    Her daughter put her up for a few years, but Ms. Welker said she eventually left, ending up on Skid Row a year ago. She said she had since lost touch with all three of her children. "They don't even know how to reach me," she said. "They are probably going nuts. I didn't want to interfere with their lives."

    Home for Ms. Welker is now a room at a center for the homeless on San Pedro Street, but she has been told, she said, that her program is about to end. She has no idea what she will do next. "I don't know how much longer I'll be there," she said.

    "Skid Row is sad," Ms. Welker said. "It is as sad as you can imagine. You literally have to live here to see how sad it is."

    Ms. Welker, chatty with a wide smile and white flowing hair that falls over her shoulders, has her routines. She knows the staggered schedules of the soup kitchens. Her bad leg and wheelchair usually entitle her to a spot at the front of the line, and she brings a plastic baggie to collect extra food to pass on to friends on the streets, or to eat when she returns to her room.

    She passes the days riding her wheelchair, waiting for the battery to run down so she can return to her room and charge it up for the next day.

    "You have to wait until it goes down to two or three dots," she said, flicking her finger at the battery indicator. "So I just ride up and down the street and say 'hi' to everybody. And when my chair goes down enough, I go back in. I have to charge my chair. And I have to elevate my leg, otherwise I could end up losing it."

    The challenges faced by people like Ms. Welker have forced advocates for the homeless and government agencies to reconsider what kinds of services they need: It is not just a meal, a roof and rehabilitation anymore.

    "The programs for baby boomers are designed to address longstanding programs — mental health, substance abuse," said Benjamin Henwood, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. "But they are not designed to address the problems of aging, and that is a big problem for homeless treatment in the years ahead."

    So the older residents of Skid Row make do, and in the process, tax public services. There is the emergency room at Los Angeles County-U.S.C. Medical Center, or the ambulance from Firehouse No. 9 on Skid Row, which brings a crew of medics who are by now well versed on the characters and medical ailments outside the station house.

    Homeless veterans of all ages receive housing vouchers, and federally subsidized low-income housing projects give preference to the elderly. But few of the older homeless people have worked the time required to qualify for Social Security, much less put aside money for a 401(k) or employee retirement plan.

    That leaves them to turn to Supplemental Security Income, or S.S.I., a program set up to help poor older people and the disabled that typically pays around $733 a month. But S.S.I. is for people 65 and over, and Social Security does not start until age 62.

    By then it might be too late. Experts say the average life span for a homeless person living on the street is 64 years.

    "We are dealing with the same issues with a 50-year-old that a housed person would have in their 70s, in terms of physical and mental health," said Anne Miskey, the executive director of the Downtown Women's Center, which provides services for 3,000 homeless women a year in Los Angeles. "It is extremely difficult. And women are affected more than men."

    Many manage as best they can, living outside and maneuvering around the drug dealing, random stabbings and shootings, and crackdowns by the police.

    Brenda Gardenshire, 66, who lives in a trim blue tent on a sidewalk she sweeps every morning, said she had learned not to venture out after dark in search of a bathroom, instead using a jar she keeps in her tent.

    "You've got a lot of things out here wrong — everybody doing drugs and alcohol, friends and not friends," she said. Still, Ms. Gardenshire said she liked her life on the street, saying it was better, at least, than living in a shelter. Her only complaint was how people kept treating her as if she were frail.

    "Everyone is like, 'You O.K.?'" she said. "What do you mean, 'Am I O.K.?' Or, 'You want to sit down?' Why do I want to sit down?"

    New Generation on Skid Row

    It is not the older homeless people whom Ms. Welker worries about as she surveys Skid Row from the perch of her wheelchair. It is the younger ones, who are slowly changing the makeup of this world.

    "I'm 70; I've done my thing," she said. "The younger people, they are losing the best years of their lives. This is not a place to be."

    "You see things you wouldn't believe," Ms. Welker said. "Someone could be getting killed, someone could be getting knifed. And life goes on. Charities are still handing out coffee and soup."

    There were 235,000 homeless Americans between 18 and 30 in 2014, making up 24 percent of the nation's homeless population. That was up from 226,000 in 2007, when the age group made up 20 percent of the total homeless population, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    Some of them can be seen on Skid Row. But here in Los Angeles, these younger homeless people have staked out their own spaces to live — on the beaches of Venice, on the garbage-scattered scraps of dirt by the Hollywood Freeway.

    Some were bustling on a recent morning through the cramped hallways of My Friend's Place, a two-story ramshackle storefront right up against the edge of the freeway, its entrance hidden off an alley. It is a former recording studio that was turned 18 years ago into a center for homeless youth; nearly 1,500 people between the ages of 18 to 24 came here last year.

    That morning, they were a blur of people in T-shirts, tattered jeans and sweatshirts, stopping by for a shower, a meal, job training — including circus schooling on the ropes and hoops in the Cirque du Monde room — or an undisturbed nap on an overstuffed chair in the main room. The center shuts its door at night.

    "We are getting sandwiched by real old folks and real young folks," said Heather Carmichael, the executive director of My Friend's Place. "It's horrific."






































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