Kwame Montsho Ajamu Somburu ¡Presente!

October 13, 1934 - May 3, 2016

By The Editors of Socialist Viewpoint Magazine

We are saddened by the loss of comrade Kwame Somburu. He was a dear friend, revolutionary fighter, and a devoted distributor of Socialist Viewpoint magazine until he became too ill to continue. 

He had an amazing knowledge and memory of history—all of which he learned on his own by reading everything he could get his hands on and, of course, being a participant throughout his life in the struggle for freedom and human emancipation. 

He was an active member of the Socialist Workers Party from 1965 to 1983. From 1983 he became a founding member of Socialist Action, formed by former members of the SWP, who were either expelled or dropped out when the party deviated from the historic teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and James P. Cannon (founding member and leader of the SWP.)

Kwame remained in Socialist Action until 1999. Then, in 2000, after a split in SA, Kwame helped form Socialist Workers Organization, the group that began publishing Socialist Viewpoint magazine. SWO dwindled down to a small core of activists whose numbers were insufficient for the crucial project of party building but continued to promote the building of a revolutionary Marxist working class political party through the pages of Socialist Viewpoint.

Throughout his life, Kwame was part of the Civil Rights movement; the Vietnam Antiwar movement; the Black Liberation movement; the Women's Liberation movement; he worked with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X; he was a supporter of the Cuban Revolution; he fought against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; he was anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian; and that's just to name a few causes he was intimately involved in. 

He was an active fighter for socialism and a promoter of the power of worker's solidarity until his last days.

Saying it like it is 

He was in his best form speaking extemporaneously—debating and street-corner speaking, for which he was arrested many times in New York. 

One of his most memorable debates was the one he and Fred Halstead had with William F. Buckley on his show, Firing Line, in 1968.[1]  

Fred Halstead was the Presidential candidate and Paul Boutelle was the Vice Presidential candidate of the Socialist Workers Party that year. (At that time, until 1979, Kwame went by his given name, Paul Boutelle. And, at the time, if a TV show interviewed a major candidate, they also had to give "equal time" to minority candidates. In 1968, the Socialist Workers Party was on the ballot in 19 states across the U.S. That's how two revolutionary socialist candidates got an hour of prime time on TV.) 

Kwame, the scientific socialist and historian

Kwame ruled the debate throughout with his profound knowledge of history and his quick wit. Buckley didn't stand a chance. Halstead, to his credit, took a back seat to his running mate, who clearly had the upper hand on Buckley.

Towards the end of the show, Kwame was pointing out that Buckley was defending the U.S. knowing that it was built by profiting off of slavery, the slaughter of the Native Americans and its never-ending wars—WWII, Korea, Vietnam, etc.

Buckley was, again, trying to defend U.S. wars when he said, smugly, "I represent a country that went to war to liberate the Negroes a hundred years ago." 

Kwame responded, "I know some people in Mississippi and Alabama that would like to hear that. Why don't you take a trip down there this summer and tell them that they're liberated. In fact I know some in the outskirts of Chicago that would like to hear, too, and Brooklyn—Bedford Stuyvesant…"  

Then Buckley said, "Put it this way, Mr. Boutelle, I'm sure that if I ran for office in Mississippi, I would have more Negroes voting for me than for you…" 

Kwame answered, "I'm sure of one thing, if you went down to Mississippi and told Black people they were free, you would be running, and it wouldn't be for office."

The audience went crazy applauding and cheering Kwame.

"It takes all five fingers to make a fist!"

On April 27, 2014 Ill Box Media presented an ib Video Production of, Kwame Somburu, A Conversation with a Rabble Rouser?[2]

This is a powerful history lesson covering years of U.S. imperialist oppression from the perspective of an active, self-taught, "scientific socialist" who not only knew what he was talking about, but was part of the on-going struggle against it.

Kwame's whole life was devoted to fighting oppression. He was a fighter for socialism and a strong promoter of worker's solidarity. 

In this interview, more than once, he holds up his hand and says, "It takes all five fingers to make a fist!" 

His contribution to all of humanity and to the revolutionary, scientific, socialist-workers movement is incalculable!

We have lost a great human being. 

Rest in Power, Kwame.

[2] Kwame Somburu: A Conversation with a "Rabble Rouser?"




Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:













10th annual Berkeley objector day peace flag raising

flag dayFor International Conscientious Objectors' Day, celebrate the 10th annual Berkeley C.O. and War Resisters' Day with us!

Monday, May 16, 2014, 11:30am

2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, California

Peace Flag raising ceremony, first at Civic Center flagpole at 2180 Milvia Street, corner of Allston Way and then at the flagpole at MLK, Jr. Civic Center Park, 2151 MLK, Jr. Way (between Center Street and Allston Way, across from Old City Hall), Berkeley. With Conscientious Objectors and War Resisters from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Sponsored by City of Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission. Endorsed by War Resisters League-West, BFUU Social Justice Committee and Courage to Resist.

  • David Harris, Co-founder of The Resistancethe movement to Resist the Draft during the Vietnam War
  • Bob Meola, Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, War Resisters League, Courage to Resist
  • Melissa Keith, Chelsea Manning Support Network, Courage to Resist
  • Sing along "Ain't fest" ["I Ain't Marching Anymore," "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around," "Down By the Riverside (Ain't Gonna Study War No More)" with Max Ventura, Hali Hammer, Nancy Schimmel, and Vic Sadot

>>View invite online


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

Activists from 20+ states gather for week-long protest at Creech Air Force Base

By Courage to Resist. April 7, 2016

At Creech Air Force Base, Indian Springs, Nevada, activists from over 20 states joined together for a national mobilization of nonviolent resistance to shut down killer drone operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and everywhere. Throughout the March 27-April 2 protest over 20 people were arrested participating in several different actions.

The event was proudly endorsed by Courage to Resist and sponsored by CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Nevada Desert Experience, Veterans For Peace, Voices for Creative Nonviolence and others, and received media attention from local press, and Democracy Now.

>> Read our complete article here



    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 May 27   7 pm
Sat May 28       9 pm
Sun May 29      2 pm
Friday June 3    9:30 pm
Sat June 4         6:30 pm
Sunday June 5  4:30 pm


David Kleinberg
(415) 527-7201 (mobile)  



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

 Sign the petition:





Demonstrate – Demand GM pay $4 billion to Flint

General Motors is Guilty in Flint!

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

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

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

For more info: 313-680-5508




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

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




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

    RH Reality Check


    Student Debt Crisis

    The Nation

    Working Families



    Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

    Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

    Dear Supporters and Friends,

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

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

    My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

                              Lorenzo's wife,

                               Tazza Salvatto

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

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

    Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                DF 1036

                SCI Mahanoy

                301 Morea Rd.

                Frackville, PA 17932

     Email: Through JPay using the code:

                  Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                  Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                  Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

    Have a wonderful day!

    - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

    Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                DF 1036

                SCI Mahanoy

                301 Morea Rd.

                Frackville, PA 17932

     Email: Through JPay using the code:

                  Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                  Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com













    1)  Can the Homeless and Hungry Steal Food? Maybe, an Italian Court Says

    MAY 3, 2016


    ROME — Stealing food from a supermarket may not be a crime in Italyif you are homeless and hungry, the nation's highest appeals court has ruled.

    In a case that has drawn comparisons to "Les Misérables," the Supreme Court of Cassation threw out the conviction of a homeless man from Ukraine, Roman Ostriakov, who was caught trying to take 4.07 euros — about $4.70 — worth of cheese and sausage from a store in Genoa without paying for it. A trial court sentenced him in February 2015 to six months in jail and a fine of €100.

    "The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the merchandise theft took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of need," and therefore the theft "does not constitute a crime," the appellate court wrote in its decision, which was reported on Monday by the Italian news agency ANSA.

    The court's decision went far beyond what the appeal in the case had sought. Valeria Fazio, the prosecutor at the Genoa court where the trial was held, said in a telephone interview that her office understood that Mr. Ostriakov had stolen only out of need, and had appealed in hopes that the court might set a more lenient sentence.

    But the court decided that he "doesn't have to be punished at all," Ms. Fazio said.

    The court has yet to release its full reasoning in the case, but Gherardo Colombo, a former member of the Supreme Court of Cassation, said it seemed to rely on an Italian legal doctrine: "Ad impossibilia nemo tenetur."

    The term is Latin for "No one is expected to do the impossible."

    Maurizio Bellacosa, a professor of criminal law at Luiss University in Italy who has often argued cases before the Court of Cassation, said that the application of that doctrine in a shoplifting case "has a certain novelty."

    "They rarely apply the 'state of necessity,' " Mr. Bellacosa said, and when they do, it is generally in cases "like a castaway who fights with another shipwreck victim for the last raft he has to save his life."

    When examining thefts by poor people, he said, "usually the court classifies these cases as smaller crimes, but crimes, as poverty is considered avoidable through the social support system."

    In contrast with the American legal system, the decisions of the Court of Cassation do not necessarily create binding precedents for lower courts to follow. But Mr. Bellacosa said the decision in the Ostriakov case "is a new principle, and it might lead to a more frequent application of the state of necessity linked to poverty situations."

    The ruling quickly generated a heated response in Italy.

    "For the supreme judges, the right to survival has prevailed over the right to property," Massimo Gramellini, an editor at La Stampa, a newspaper based in Turin, wrote in an opinion column. "In America that would be blasphemy. And here as well, some conformists will talk about a legitimation of proletarian expropriation."

    In the 1970s, when Italy was rocked by violent leftist groups like the Red Brigades, radicalized youths "plundered supermarkets with impunity in the name of the working class," but they stole "caviar and Champagne," Mr. Gramellini added. "Now, people don't steal to pursue an ideal, but to fill up their stomach."

    Another commentator, Goffredo Buccini, writing approvingly of the decision in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, likened the current situation to the period right after World War II, when the Italian economy was in ruins.

    "As the law is nothing else but the box where our living together takes shape, it was unthinkable that jurisprudence did not take reality into account," Mr. Buccini wrote. He cited statistics from Confcommercio, a trade association, showing that thefts resulting from hunger have been on the rise in recent years.

    Italy has managed only a fitful recovery from the financial crisis that began in 2008. According to the World Bank, gross domestic product per capita is about where it was in 2010, and the International Monetary Fund projects that the economy will grow by a sluggish 1.3 percent this year. In some Italian cities, homelessness has become more prevalent.

    Mr. Colombo, the former member of the Supreme Court of Cassation, said he believed that the decision in the Ostriakov case was correct.

    "Under the Italian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has a legal right to dignity," he said in a telephone interview, emphasizing that he was offering only his own opinion. "If you can't eat because you have absolutely no money, and cannot sustain yourself without taking something you don't own, in this case, the Italian criminal law justifies this theft."

    Mr. Ostriakov, 30, was spotted by another customer when he tried to leave the supermarket with cheese and sausage in his pocket after having only paid for some breadsticks. Mr. Colombo said it was important legally that the theft was nonviolent.

    "It would have been different if he had committed a robbery," he said. "They wouldn't have acquitted him."



    2)   Studying How Poverty Keeps Hurting Young Minds, and What to Do About It

    The human brain begins as a neural tube that develops five weeks after conception. Years later, it is fully formed. On Tuesday, experts in neuroscience, genetics and social work met in Manhattan to talk about what can happen to it along the way, and what emerging research tells us about how children who seem broken can be made whole.

    Officially, the meeting was called Poverty, the Brain and Mental Health. It could have been called This Is Your Brain on Poverty. Or: Don't Give Up on Little Kids.

    For some children, living in poverty is like playing football without a helmet; everyday life causes social concussions. The developing brain gets hammered not by linebackers, but by the stresses often present in homes where people are poor. Brute force is not required to cause physical changes in the brain, emerging science shows.

    "There's no doubt that the field of public health has been slow to embrace much of this research and insight," Dr. Mary T. Bassett, New York City's health commissioner, said. "A lot more work has been committed to helping infants survive early death. Less has been done to truly help them thrive."

    How does stress reshape the brain?

    It sets off the release of a hormone called cortisol, essential to the "fight or flight" response, and critical to a child's healthy development, Dr. Bassett said.

    Some children are exposed to multiple, chronic stresses: neglect, abuse, maternal depression, parental discord, crime and other domestic dysfunctions. In response, cortisol levels rise and stay high, said Margaret Crotty, executive director of the Partnership With Childrenand an organizer of the meeting. One analogy: like revving a car engine too fast, for too long.

    Too much cortisol changes two parts of the brain, Ms. Crotty said: "One is your prefrontal lobe in the front of your brain. That's how you develop executive functions — negotiating with people, telling the difference between good and bad, thinking about the consequences of your actions, your social behaviors in a classroom. Literally, how you behave."

    The other area, she said, is the hippocampus, deeper in the brain, which is central to creating memories of fact. "The things you can declare and verbalize," Ms. Crotty said. "Pretty important to school."

    Her organization provides social services in the city's schools. "You'd be amazed at how many kids are suffering from not having an alarm clock," she said. "In one of our schools, 47 percent of the kids are living in shelters within walking distances of the schools. There was one child who was consistently late and finally just stopped coming to school. We went there; what was happening? Well, the mother's cellphone was stolen, and she couldn't afford to get another one. Who's she going to tell that to?"

    Two decades ago, doctors and researchers in California studied the effects of home lives that included abuse, neglect and dysfunction in childhood on the health of 17,421 adults. It was called the Adverse Childhood Experiences study; the stress factors were called Aces. The more factors children had, the more likely that disease and mental health problems would emerge when they were adults. It is considered a landmark piece of research, and its findings have stood up, Dr. Bassett said.

    Research in the field of epigenetics, the study of how genes and the environment interact, has explained some of the responses that cause trouble, said Dr. Frances Champagne, an associate professor of psychology at Columbia University. Early-life stress turns on genes that overreact to stress.

    At the same time, Dr. Champagne said, "those genes that help us, to buffer us, from the effects of stress are epigenetically silenced."

    She and others said in the meeting, which was held at the American Museum of Natural History, that evidence showed the brain's ability to adapt meant that children and even older people were not doomed by biology and environment. Dr. Bassett said stresses were risk factors, and that city policies like universal prekindergarten were based on research that showed they did not have to define a child's future.

    Outside the home, children can build resilience by forming caring, consistent relationships with adults, Ms. Crotty said. "That's how your cortisol levels drop," she added.

    Renée Wilson-Simmons, director of the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, said a proverb could sum up the wisdom in the research.

    "Work the clay," she said, "while it's soft."



    3)  Israel Responds to Hamas Mortar Fire With Airstrikes in Gaza Strip

    MAY 4, 2016


    JERUSALEM — In response to mortar rounds fired by Hamas toward Israeli defense forces operating outside the Gaza StripIsrael hit five targets in Gaza with airstrikes on Wednesday, a military spokesman said.

    Hamas's military wing complained in a statement that Israeli forces had been excavating enormous areas east of Gaza. Israel has been using the excavations to help search for new warrens of tunnels that Hamas is believed to be digging beneath the border between Gaza and Israel.

    Israeli military commentators said that the mortar fire – a total of six rounds on Wednesday – was clearly intended to discourage Israeli attempts to find the tunnels.

    Although missiles and other weaponry are fired sporadically from Gaza, Israel has seldom named Hamas as the source since a cease-fire in 2014 that ended 50 days of fighting, and other rogue groups operate in the area. In this case, though, Israel said Hamas fired more than five mortar rounds at its defense forces, adding that Israel would continue to guard against "all terrorist threats above and beneath ground."

    An Israeli military commentator, Roni Daniel, said on Israeli television that the mortar fire did not seem intended to hit the military engineers searching for the tunnels, but only to warn Israel and disrupt the work. The area has been fairly quiet since the 2014 war, and while neither side is eager to set off a new escalation, the exchanges of fire could have unpredictable consequences, Mr. Daniel said.

    Witnesses in Gaza saw one Israeli airstrike hit a tower used by Hamas's military wing. At least two schools were evacuated and Hamas police officers streamed from their stations in Gaza City.

    Hamas claimed that the Israeli excavations had caused unspecified damage to Gazan land.



    4) Detroit Teacher's Strike

    Detroit teachers strike against disaster capitalism

    By Glen Ford

    Black Agenda Report, May 4, 2016


    Detroit's public school teachers stand at the front lines of the resistance to Black urban removal and the privatization of education in the United States. The teachers ended a two-day sick-out on Wednesday, May 4, 2016, after Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes assured their weak-kneed union leadership that the state-run system would honor its "contractual obligation to pay teachers what they have earned." However, this grudging concession to contract law does not signal a retreat from the state's two decades-long campaign to destroy Detroit's public institutions and drain the city of its poor Black majority population. Republican Governor Rick Snyder's plan for the Detroit public schools would create the conditions to complete the privatization of a district that is already second only to New Orleans in charter school enrollment.

    The local union satraps are spineless jellyfish who deposed the elected leadership at the behest of American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, who long ago surrendered to the Obama administration's national charterization juggernaut. President Obama let it be known that he opposed the sick-out. "These kids aren't getting educated, and that's—that is a real problem, and one that the president's deeply concerned about," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. The Obama administration collaborated with state and corporate leaders in the deal to bankrupt Detroit's municipal government, in 2014—an arrangement presided over by Judge Steven Rhodes, before he was named Emergency Manager for the district's schools.

    The sick-outs began in November, led by union reformists under elected president Steve Conn and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) activists. Conn says the actions should be called by their proper name. "This is a strike and we have got to continue to strike to victory, which means defeating Snyder's plan to destroy our schools," said Conn. Teachers strikes are illegal in Michigan.

    The state has been spoon-feeding the district just enough money to avert a total structural collapse, while blaming the Detroit community for the "failure" of the public schools, which are nominally $3.4 billion in debt. However, except for a brief period from 2005 to 2008, an elected school board has not been in charge since the state takeover of 1999, under a Republican governor. Then, in 2009, Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm imposed the first of a succession of emergency managers over the Detroit public schools. Thus, the state—under both Democratic and Republican administrations—should be held responsible for most of the Detroit system's "debt" during the 21st century.

    The whole concept of public school "debt" must be rejected. Public schools are not capitalist enterprises; they do not operate on a for-profit basis (unless they are charters), and are tied to state and federally imposed funding formulas that even elected school boards are helpless to alter, and which serve to reinforce huge disparities between white suburban and Black and brown urban districts.

    Black communities cannot be held responsible for the racist hysteria of white flight, which relentlessly down-sized Detroit and its school population, robbing the system of per-pupil funding while the proportion of neediest students steadily increased and the physical school structures deteriorated—leading to Black flight from the Detroit schools. Nor can these communities be blamed when legislatures dominated by hostile whites facilitate the spread of urban charter school enterprises that they would never tolerate in their own communities.

    The same corporate forces that rejoiced in the ethnic and class cleansing of New Orleans after Katrina, and that have schemed to rid Detroit of as many Black people as possible to pave the way for a "renaissance," are at work in every urban center in the nation. Charter schools are the principal weapon to disenfranchise and destabilize Black communities. The public schools were the first target of the corporate demographic demolition strategy hatched in the 1990s to "rescue" the cities from Black and brown domination, under the guise of "reform." Charter schools are multi-use destructive devices. They serve both to privatize the public education sphere and to disconnect the Black urban polity from issues of community governance and "development." Once local democratic control is removed from schools, the same financial rationale can be deployed against the municipal government. Four years after Detroit's schools were placed under an emergency financial manager (EFM) in 2009, the state imposed an EFM on the city in order to move Detroit into bankruptcy. Mass water cut-offs followed, designed to drive the poor out of town for lack of essential fluids. In EFM-run Flint, the water was poisoned. Charter schools play a key role in urban disaster capitalism, wrecking the community nexus of public education by draining the system of students and resources. They are an infestation of Trojan horses, positioned as "marketplace" alternatives to the public sphere—the antithesis of community control.

    Detroit's public school teachers did not go on sick-out just to collect a check or two. They are mounting a desperate defense against corporate dictatorship and ethnic cleansing of the cities.



    5) Rents in London? If You Have to Ask ...


    MAY 5, 2016


    The cost of living in London is now so high that it takes nine-tenths of an average person's income just to cover the rent for an average apartment, never mind luxuries like, say, food or clothing or taxes.

    And if you fancy living in a fashionable neighborhood like Kensington and Chelsea, think again: Every penny of the $38,960 an average Briton makes in a whole year would be swallowed up by your landlord in just eight months.

    These figures come from a recent report by CBRE, a global real estate advisory firm, which says London's residential rents are the highest in the world: £2,083 (about $3,020) a month for a typical two-bedroom apartment.

    In Kensington and Chelsea, where Diana, Princess of Wales, once lived, and where you can walk to Harrods, the average soars to £3,405.

    Spiraling housing prices and bouts of apartment envy dominate dinner-party talk in London the way aspirational New Yorkers fret about getting their toddlers into the right preschools. And no wonder: If groceries had gone up as much as housing prices have since 1970, a chicken would now cost £55.57 in London, according to Shelter, a housing charity in the city.

    Of course, not every corner of London is as pricey as Kensington and Chelsea. The CBRE report identifies one borough with leafy open spaces, good schools, independent shops and average rents of just £1,007 a month.

    That rare haven of affordability is Bexley, which is not on the radar of status-conscious Londoners because it is way out in the sixth (and most distant) transit-fare zone, an hour by train from the center of the city.



    6)  Wide Arrests in Egypt Signal No-Tolerance Policy on Critics

    MAY 11, 2016, 2:54 A.M. E.D.T


    CAIRO — Hours after marching in a peaceful protest against the government late last month, Yassin Mohammed and his friends were lingering in the area in a district of the Egyptian capital when police descended on them, piled them into a minibus and took them to a police station. There, he said, he was blindfolded, handcuffed and beaten by security agents.

    Now the 21-year-old Mohammed, released on bail, faces trial on charges of breaking a 2013 law that virtually bans any street demonstrations. He knows how heavy the penalty can be. Two years ago, he was sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison for joining protests — and he said he nearly committed suicide in his cell out of despair until a fellow inmate stopped him.

    Mohammed is among those caught up in one of the biggest waves of arrests in the past two years in Egypt, a sweep that signals a fierce zero-tolerance stance by the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi over any sign of unrest.

    The detentions were sparked by demonstrations against el-Sissi's decision last month to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, which galvanized activists who had been largely silenced by previous crackdowns.

    But activists have been startled by the scope of the arrests and how little it takes to bring severe charges, including accusations of seeking to overthrow the government or fomenting terrorism, over demonstrations that gathered only a few hundred people.

    In just the last three weeks, human rights lawyers say nearly 1,300 were detained. Most of them have been released, but 277 have been formally charged and face trial, according to Mohammed Abdel-Aziz, a rights lawyer who has been tracking the arrests and is representing 20 of the detainees.

    In recent speeches, el-Sissi has demanded that all criticism of the handover of the islands stop. He told a visiting U.S. congressional delegation that human rights issues in Egypt should be not approached from a "Western perspective" because of the challenges it faces, including a fight with an Islamic militant insurgency. El-Sissi also increasingly repeats that Egypt faces existential threats from "evil forces" or "evil people" conspiring to push the country into chaos and bloodshed like Syria or Iraq, though he has never explained what these forces are.

    "It is like an old dam and the state is worried that allowing one crack to open will unleash a flood. The regime has no solution except suppression," said rights lawyer Gamal Eid.

    Besides charges of violating the protest law, detainees often face other, broad and undefined charges, including spreading propaganda that harms security and hurting or disrupting national unity, security or social peace.

    In recent days, police arrested five members of a satirical street performing group that produces videos on social media mocking el-Sissi. One of them, 19-year-old Ezzedeen Khaled, was detained Saturday and, though a court ordered his release on bail, was charged with inciting protests and posting videos containing foul language and insults directed at state institutions, according to his lawyer, Mahmoud Othman. The remaining four were arrested Monday and have been slapped with an even heavier charge of inciting terror attacks and protests.

    A prominent rights lawyer, Malek Adly, who had filed a legal suit against the decision to hand the islands to the Saudis, was arrested last week and is under investigation for a range of allegations, including attempting to overthrow the government.

    Another rights advocate, Ahmed Abdullah, whose non-governmental group had been advising the family of an Italian student kidnapped, tortured and killed in Egypt earlier this year, was arrested last month and has been charged with a long list of accusations including membership in a terror group and inciting protests.

    On April 25, when activists called for protests against the islands' handover, police appeared to sweep up any young men who they believed intended to join in or were just in the area of planned demonstrations. Abdel-Aziz said that among the 20 defendants he represents are young men who were detained just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time or because anti-government material was found stored on their mobile phones. Others, he told The Associated Press, were picked up from downtown Cairo cafes, a favorite hangout for secular activists.

    Mohammed told the AP he and his two friends were detained well after the day's marches were dispersed. They were still in the area looking for other friends who were missing.

    Mohammad had previously been sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison in two separate cases for involvement in protests. A 15-year sentence handed down in one of the cases was reduced to three years in a retrial. He was then pardoned for that case last September, but his appeal against the remaining two-year sentence in the second case was rejected last month. So he now faces that prison term and a trial on the new arrest.

    "Nothing is really achieved by arresting me and others," he said. "It is the other side that is losing the love of the people when they arrest anyone they see."

    Another of those arrested said he and several friends were detained six hours before the protests were to start on April 25, when they arrived in the area.

    "We parked our car and started to walk looking for a place where we can eat breakfast. Five minutes later we were cordoned off by police and detained," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid further police retaliation. The 26-year-old said he was taken to a riot police base on the city's outskirts where he was interrogated and beaten. He was released on bail and faces charges that include seeking to overthrow the government.

    El-Sissi and government officials have argued that strict measures are necessary at a time when Egypt is battling Islamic militants based in Sinai and trying to repair an economy gutted by years of turmoil since the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Hundreds of policemen and soldiers have been killed by the militants — most recently eight policemen gunned down this week in an attack on the southern outskirts of Cairo.

    Officials and the media also drum up vague fears of threats to the nation. Cairo airport officials often report the seizure of "spy" drones and secret cameras found hidden in the luggage of arriving foreigners, but there's never any further word on the "spies" or the nations behind them. Newspapers often speak of unidentified conspiracies and enemies. Hosts of political TV talk shows nightly engage in conspiracy theories complemented by incitement against government critics.

    "Sadly, there is a significant level of social acceptance for these arrests because of the fear-mongering by el-Sissi and his loyalists in the media," Abdel-Aziz said.

    El-Sissi still appears to enjoy widespread public backing, though it has shown some erosion. The Egypt-based polling agency Baseera, one of the few that conducts polls in the country, said its latest survey in April showed 79 percent approve of el-Sissi's performance, though that was down from 85 percent in November. The poll surveyed 1,541 people above the age of 18 with a margin of error of 3 percent.

    Since leading the army's July 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, el-Sissi has overseen what is possibly Egypt's biggest ever crackdown on opposition. Initially, and most bloodily, the crackdown targeted Islamists, arresting thousands and killing hundreds who protested demanding Morsi's reinstatement. But security forces have also crushed the ranks of secular young activists.

    Middle East analyst Michael W. Hanna of New York's Century Foundation does not see anyone or any group currently in Egypt that is capable of seriously challenging el-Sissi's rule.

    "They are overreacting, of course, no question about it, in ways that are both strange and inappropriate," Hanna said.



    7)  U.S. Has Taken In Less Than a Fifth of Pledged Syrian Refugees

    MAY 10, 2016


    UNITED NATIONS — The Obama administration's effort to step up asylum for Syrian refugees is going so slowly, it may not meet the president's deadline for accepting at least 10,000 by the end of the fiscal year.

    More than seven months since the president pledged to resettle the most vulnerable Syrians, the United States has let in less than a fifth of that number — 1,736 through the end of April, according to government figures.

    That slow pace could undermine the administration's diplomatic push to advance the cause of refugees at a time when other countries are putting up taller barriers to their entry. President Obama and the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, have said they will raise the issue of refugee resettlement at this year's General Assembly session, and Mr. Ban issued a report on Monday calling on world leaders to rally around a new "compact on responsibility-sharing for refugees."

    Advocates for asylum seekers have urged the United States to do more, and have warned that delays in the refugee-vetting process could make it difficult to meet the administration's goal by the end of September, when the current fiscal year ends.

    "The United States cannot lead by example unless the administration meets this year's very modest goal and sets a more meaningful and ambitious goal for next year," said Eleanor Acer, the senior director for refugee protection at Human Rights First, an advocacy group.

    The delays, advocates argue, are a result of inefficiencies in the asylum adjudication system, insufficient staffing to vet would-be refugees and the often lengthy security checks that Syrians are required to undergo as part of their application.

    Anne C. Richard, the assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, said in a statement that the administration remained committed to its promise to take in 10,000 Syrians by the end of September, without cutting back on "robust security screening."

    International law defines a refugee as someone who has fled war or persecution in his or her home country. The United Nations says there are an estimated 19.6 million refugees worldwide. And their plight has drawn urgent attention from the world's most powerful governments as hundreds of thousands of Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and others have made the perilous trip across the Mediterranean in search of sanctuary in Europe.

    During the General Assembly conclave in the fall, Mr. Ban will try to drum up greater enthusiasm for refugee resettlement. His office said he would call on countries to resettle at least a tenth of the world's refugee population.

    Mr. Ban has said he wants countries to renew their commitment to a 1951 refugee convention that requires countries to offer protection to civilians fleeing war and persecution. That convention is widely flouted, including by European countries, whose leaders were once the driving force behind such a push at the end of World War II, when Europeans were the ones seeking refuge.

    Mr. Ban has repeatedly called on world leaders to accept refugees, but his pleas have been met with reluctance and political and diplomatic maneuvers devised to ease the burden on European governments.

    In March, at a refugee resettlement conference, United Nations officials said close to half a million Syrians needed new permanent homes away from the region. But few countries pledged to take them in, prompting a strongly worded rebuke from international aid groups. Instead, the European Union began in April to deport asylum seekers to Turkey, part of a political deal that human rights groups said was fraught with legal problems.

    The report that Mr. Ban issued this week also pressed countries to start negotiating a deal to embrace migrants who are crossing borders for reasons other than war, including "hazards related to climate change." Those discussions, which he said he hoped would start this year, are likely to be even thornier.

    Most of the world's four million Syrian refugees live in countries in the region: Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

    Canada has offered visas to more than 48,000 Syrians, according to the United Nations, and is also allowing private groups to sponsor Syrian families. More than 400,000 Syrians sought asylum in Germany last year, and Brazil has issued nearly 8,500 humanitarian visas to Syrians.

    At the General Assembly debate that is scheduled to begin on Sept. 20, Mr. Obama plans to lead a special session at which world leaders are expected to publicly pledge to take in more refugees.

    Russia, a major supporter of the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, has not resettled a single Syrian refugee, according to the United Nations.

    Mr. Obama's announcement last September that the United States would take in at least 10,000 Syrians in the current fiscal year was part of his effort to resettle more refugees generally, from an average of about 70,000 a year to 85,000 a year over the next three years.

    The United Nations high commissioner for refugees has identified nearly 39,000 Syrians to be resettled to the United States. Agency officials said the refugees included widows with children and torture victims, along with Syrians who have relatives living in the United States already. Many have faced delays.

    In a scathing report, Ms. Acer's group cited the example of a Syrian baby in need of heart surgery, who died in Jordan before his family's resettlement papers were approved.

    Some members of Congress have sought to halt refugee admissions from Syria, and two Republican governors — Chris Christie of New Jersey and Sam Brownback of Kansas — have said they will not let the federal government send Syrians to be resettled in their states.

    A State Department spokeswoman said in an email on Monday that the administration had expanded staffing in Jordan to vet refugee applications and also resumed interviews in Lebanon, which had been discontinued over security concerns.

    "We expect arrivals of Syrian refugees to increase steadily throughout the year and have increased the number of staff involved in processing Syrian cases to help us meet the 10,000 target," said Ms. Richard, the assistant secretary of state.



    8)  Palestinian Teenager Is Convicted of Attempted Murder in Stabbing Attack

    JERUSALEM — An Israeli court on Tuesday convicted a Palestinianteenager of two counts of attempted murder for his role in a stabbing attack that critically injured an Israeli teenager and wounded an Israeli man in a Jewish area of East Jerusalem in October.

    The stabbings, which were part of a wave of violence that began that month but has subsided somewhat, shocked Israelis because of the ages of those involved: The teenager, Ahmad Manasra, and the victim, Naor Ben-Ezra, who lived in adjacent districts of East Jerusalem, were both 13 at the time.

    Ahmad had come with his cousin, Hassan Manasra, then 15, to Pisgat Zeev from the nearby Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina. The police released security footage showing them running through the streets of Pisgat Zeev, chasing residents and armed with knives. Both areas are in a part of the city that Israel conquered from Jordan in the 1967 war and annexed in a move that was never internationally recognized.

    Hassan, who was also seen on video running at the police with a knife, was fatally shot by officers. Ahmad was run over by a vehicle while fleeing, and was treated in an Israeli hospital.

    Leah Tsemel, an Israeli lawyer who represented Ahmad Manasra and who is known for her advocacy for Palestinians, described the conviction as "surprising, unbalanced and problematic." She said it was the cousin, Hassan, who carried out the stabbings, and that the court was holding Ahmad responsible for his dead cousin's crimes.

    "The court saw them as partners," Ms. Tsemel said in a phone interview, saying an appeal was certain. The conviction came on the eve of Israel's Remembrance Day for its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. Sentencing was scheduled for July.

    Yuval Kedar, a state prosecutor, said after the hearing: "The fact that the accused is a minor does not alter the danger involved in these acts." He added, "The prosecution will continue to take strong legal action against perpetrators of terrorist acts of all ages, and will demand to impose a severe punishment on the accused, in accordance with the law."

    The case gained notoriety after Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said mistakenly that Ahmad Manasra — who had been seen in a video bleeding from the head and being struck by passers-by after he was run over — had been executed in cold blood.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials seized on that misstatement, saying it reflected what they called a pattern of cynical dishonesty and incitement to violence among the Palestinian leadership and its official news media. The Israeli hospital released images of the boy recovering and being spoon-fed in his bed.

    About a month after the Pisgat Zeev stabbings, video clips were leaked from the interrogation of Ahmad Manasra showing him crying and pounding his head in frustration as an Israeli interrogator shouted questions at him in Arabic. The clips were broadcast on Palestinian television and distributed widely on social media, further fueling Palestinian outrage.

    Another pair of Palestinian cousins, 12 and 14, are accused of carrying out a copycat attack in November, stabbing and wounding an Israeli guard on a train in East Jerusalem. Their relatives said they had seen the video clips of Ahmad's interrogation the night before.

    There has been a sharp rise in Palestinian minors incarcerated by Israelduring the wave of violence in recent months. About 30 Israelis, two Americans and a Palestinian bystander have been killed in a series of stabbings, shootings and vehicular attacks that began on Oct. 1.

    On Tuesday, a group of five women in their 70s and 80s were attacked by two Palestinian youths as they walked on a path near a wooded area known as the Peace Forest between East and West Jerusalem, according to the police. Two of the women were stabbed and were taken to a hospital, where they were in moderate condition.

    The Israeli authorities say that 37 percent of the Palestinians who perpetrated or attempted attacks from Oct. 1 to Feb. 10 were 16 to 20 years old, and that 10 percent were 15 or younger.

    Israeli forces have killed more than 200 Palestinians since October, according to the Palestinian authorities. Most of the Palestinians were killed while committing, or trying to commit, an attack.



    9)  It's a Tough Job Market for the Young Without College Degrees

    For seniors graduating from the University of Michigan this month, employers have been lining up since the fall to offer interviews and boast of their companies' benefits. Recruiters would ask when their competitors were coming, said Geni Harclerode, the university's assistant director of employer development, and then they'd say: "Well, we want to come the week before."

    "This has been one of our largest seasons of hiring," she said. "The job market has been very good."

    The outlook for many high school graduates is more challenging, as Vynny Brown can attest. Now 20, he graduated two years ago from Waller High School in Texas, and has been working for nearly a year at Pappasito's Cantina in Houston, part of a chain of Tex-Mex restaurants. He earns $7.25 an hour filling takeout orders or $2.13 an hour plus tips as a server, which rarely adds up to more than the minimum, he said. He would like to apply to be a manager, but those jobs require some college experience.

    "That is something I don't have," said Mr. Brown, who says he cannot afford to go to college now. "It's the biggest struggle I've had."

    Most young workers have the same problem as Mr. Brown. Only 10 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds have a college or advanced degree, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute, although many more of them will eventually graduate.

    And for young high school graduates, the unemployment rate is disturbingly high: 17.8 percent. Add in those who are underemployed, either because they would like a full-time job but can only find part-time work, or they are so discouraged that they've given up actively searching, and the share jumps to more than 33 percent.

    Younger workers have always had a tougher time finding a job than their older, more experienced counterparts. Even so, the economic recovery has progressed more slowly for young high school graduates than for those coming out of college.

    "It's improved since the recession, but it's still pretty poor," said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, who noted the average hourly wage for high school graduates had declined since 2000 despite increases in the minimum wage in some places.

    Ms. Gould is part of a growing chorus of economists, employers and educators who argue more effort needs to be put into improving job prospects for people without college degrees.

    "Without question we have failed to pay attention to and invest in opportunities for young people who are not on a path to go to four years of college," said Chauncy Lennon, the head of work force initiatives at JPMorgan Chase, which has started a $75 million program to design and deliver career-focused education in high schools and community colleges.

    For high school students, a four-year college education is frequently held out as the only viable option, precisely because job opportunities and wages are so much better upon graduation. But many who sign up never finish. "The most common reason they fail to complete is that they need to start earning a living to support their families," Mr. Lennon said.

    Vocational, career and technical high schools have often been stigmatized as a last resort for underachievers. At the same time, educators and administrators in some places have been criticized for steering minority students toward them in lieu of academic programs.

    The initiative sponsored by Chase is aimed at repairing that reputation. Although some traditional middle-skills opportunities for construction and clerical workers are shrinking, Mr. Lennon said, others are growing. In health care, for instance, radiology and phlebotomy technicians are needed; in advanced manufacturing and aviation, mechanical maintenance workers are in demand.

    He added that vocational schools should no longer be thought of as dead ends, since they can serve as steppingstones to associate degrees at community colleges or to enrollment at four-year institutions.

    Issac Cordoso, who is graduating from Medford Vocational Technical High School in Massachusetts in June, already has a job lined up as an electrical apprentice, earning $12 an hour.

    "I went into vocational school with my heart set on the automotive program, but I fell in love with electrical and saw a bigger future for myself," Mr. Cordoso, 17, said.

    He is also applying for a coveted spot as an apprentice with the local electrical union, where the starting pay is $18.25 an hour. As an apprentice, he could work while training to become a journeyman, a position with an hourly wage of $28. Most of Mr. Cordoso's classmates also have jobs waiting for them, he said.

    Stefanie A. DeLuca, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, is the co-author of a study of low-income African-American millennials in Baltimore titled, "Coming of Age in the Other America." She agrees there is a pressing need for more targeted, streamlined vocational programs in high schools and at community colleges.

    "They're looking for jobs," Dr. DeLuca said of the youths she interviewed. "They want a quick launch."

    Still, low wages combined with rising housing costs make it tough to get ahead. "They're juggling a job at Potbelly and a security job and working 60 hours a week and it's still not enough," she said.

    Despite the improving job market, what particularly troubled Martha Ross, a researcher at the Brookings Institution in Washington, were the 3.2 million disadvantaged youths between 16 and 24 who were not in school and did not have a job.

    "The size of that population was bigger than I expected," said Ms. Ross, who is the co-author of a paper on youth employment across the country. Although metropolitan areas can vary widely, the report found, in some communities, young blacks and Latinos are three to five times more likely than whites to fall into this group.

    If things are tough for high school graduates, for those without a high school diploma, the job hunt can be grim. Adam McKinley, 18, said he dropped out of his high school in Baltimore last year because he needed to work full time. He worked briefly at Dunkin' Donuts and has searched for jobs at coffee bars and restaurants, hotels and warehouses. Because many of the applications were online, Mr. McKinley said he did not know why he never heard back.

    "It's extremely frustrating," he said. "You have no idea what's going on."



    10)  The Imperialist Roots of Our Modern Crises

    LONDON — The calendar is filling with moments marking Britain's role in molding events that changed the world.

    On July 1, the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme will inspire memories of one of the bloodiest contests of World War I, which pitted French and British forces against German adversaries. A few days later, on July 6, after many delays, an official inquiry into Britain's role in the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 is set to finally produce its voluminous report.

    What binds the two is the ambiguous legacy of power projected onto foreign fields. World War I fueled an urge to build new orders as old empires collapsed. Borders were redrawn, countries carved up. The seeds that were sowed as Western powers like Britain faded after the world wars, have contributed to some of the most persistent problems and dangerous phenomena of the present. The Iraq inquiry is likely to shine a light on a weakened Britain's uncomfortable role in trying to fix some of the mistakes that were born less than a century after the Somme.

    Frail nations shaped by the victors of World War I have faced challenges of their own — the Arab Spring convulsed North Africa and the Middle East, and Iraq and Syria descended into turmoil, helping give rise to the Islamic State.

    Frontiers redrawn after World War I could not contain the populations within them. The claimed right of imperial-minded Westerners to expand their presence and influence has been reversed.

    "We have entered the age of migration," Mark Leonard, the director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, wrote recently. "If all the people who live outside the country of their birth united to form their own — a republic of the rootless — it would be the fifth-largest country in the world with a population of more than 240 million," Mr. Leonard pointed out.

    That, in turn, has redefined the balance of geopolitical advantage. A million Chinese settlers in sub-Saharan Africa have recast economies and alliances there. Remittances by India's 20-million-strong diaspora account for a significant 4 percent of the country's gross domestic product, Mr. Leonard said. Turkey's geographic position as a land bridge, once a bulwark against the Soviet Union in the Cold War, now enables its leaders to use the Syrian refugee crisis as a high-stakes diplomatic lever to pursue its ambitions in Western Europe.

    For many in the West, migration is a narrow, not-in-my-backyard issue, often depicted as a zero-sum competition for access to national largess that many Europeans fear will be jeopardized by an influx of outsiders — from other European countries and beyond.

    Almost reflexively, the contest assumes an ominous ethnic profile. Consider, for instance, Donald J. Trump's pledge to bar Muslims from the United States.

    In some part, the anniversary of the Somme commemorates Britain's role in the power plays of the past. The country's role in the power plays of the present and future are at issue in another significant date that is just around the corner. On June 23, voters in Britain will decide in a referendum whether to leave the European Union.

    Increasingly, that closely fought debate is linked to Britain's ability to control migration across its borders — and to the interlinked question of whether the country would be more secure if it pulled out of the 28-nation bloc.

    The imponderables reach far beyond Britain's frontiers. According to the United Nations, there are about 244 million migrants who live and work in countries where they were not born. Moreover, wars and upheaval, the organization says, have created roughly 20 million refugees and left 40 million displaced in their own countries.

    "Xenophobic and racist responses to refugees and migrants seem to be reaching new levels of stridency, frequency and public acceptance," Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations said this week. The wave of refugees and the rise of mass migration are usually seen as modern phenomena. But as the Battle of the Somme anniversary will soon recall, they have deep roots.



    11)  States Move Toward Treating 17-Year-Old Offenders as Juveniles, Not Adults

    NEW ORLEANS — When Chené Marshall got into a fight in high school, she assumed she might get suspended. Instead, the police arrested her.

    Then a 17-year-old junior with no criminal record, she did not realize that Louisiana was one of the dwindling minority of states where all 17-year-olds are treated as adults by the criminal justice system.

    She was charged with battery, with bail set at $5,000. She was booked and clothed in a jumpsuit at the Orleans Parish Prison, a notoriously violent facility where she bunked along with women of all ages and histories.

    "I had a fight that first night," she recalled of her jailing in 2011. "It's called 'testing your weight,' to see if you're scared or they can own you."

    She spent three nights in the jail before her great-aunt, who had raised her from infancy, could come up with a bondsman's $650 fee and secure her release.

    Seventeen-year-olds cannot vote, buy cigarettes or even adopt a dog from an animal shelter. But as of today, in nine states, including Louisiana, they are automatically handled as adults, rather than as juveniles. In two states, New York and North Carolina, 16-year-olds are as well.

    Now Louisiana and several other states among those nine appear to be on the verge of raising the cutoff to the more standard age of 18 — part of a national "raise the age" movement that has won bipartisan support, a result of concern about high incarceration rates and growing neurological evidence that young people's brains are different from adult brains.

    A bill to phase in the higher age passed the Republican-dominated Louisiana Senate on May 2, has the strong support of Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and now appears to be moving forward in the House.

    A similar measure appears to be on the verge of adoption by the South Carolina Legislature.

    Here in Louisiana, the change could alter the lives of close to 5,000 17-year-olds who are arrested each year, mainly for nonviolent misdemeanors. Under the new law, even if they were given prolonged stays in juvenile facilities, they could receive therapy and a chance for high school degrees rather than criminal records and exposure to hardened criminals.

    To allay concerns that the state's juvenile system, already caught in a severe budget crisis, is not prepared for an influx, the bill would phase in the change, with nonviolent offenders making the switch in 2018, and the rest in 2020, said Josh Perry, executive director of the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights, which provides public defenders for children and has lobbied for the bill.

    As in other states, prosecutors would retain the option to transfer juveniles who commit particularly serious crimes into adult courts.

    In the peak "tough on crime" years of the 1990s, many states acted to send more young offenders to adult courts. But in the last seven years, Illinois and Connecticut increased the age for automatic treatment as adults to 18 from 16, and Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Mississippi raised it to 18 from 17.

    The experience in those states has bolstered the case for change, said Vincent Schiraldi, a senior research fellow in criminal justice at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a former justice official in New York City and Washington, D.C.

    While the declining crime rate makes comparisons difficult, evidence suggests that treating 17-year-old offenders as juveniles may reduce public costs over time, he said, because they are less likely to commit future crimes than youths who are punished as adults. Fears that crime would rise or detention facilities would be overwhelmed have proved incorrect.

    Officials in Connecticut, Illinois and Vermont are even discussing raising the cutoff to 21, though this is more widely disputed. In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed raising the age for adult culpability to 18, but members of the Republican-controlled Senate have expressed concerns about transitional costs as well as public safety.

    In Lafayette, La., Rob Reardon, the director of corrections for the parish, explained why he thought that both the state and the young offenders would be helped by treating 17-year-olds as juveniles.

    "This is an adult jail," he said, "and the outcomes for the young people just have to be terrible."

    On a recent day, the parish jail held eight male and one female 17-year-olds, awaiting adjudication for crimes that ranged from trespassing to murder.

    When they spend a few weeks in his jail, Mr. Reardon said — and for those who cannot make bail, it is often 90 days or more — youths are expelled from school and never graduate.

    The presence of 17-year-olds is also a major resource strain, he said. Inmates generally live in pods of 13 cells with double bunks, or 26 to a pod. According to a federal law (one that has frequently been violated in New Orleans), youths must be kept separate, so one entire pod was occupied by just the eight 17-year-old boys, who were tended 24 hours a day by a guard. The 17-year-old girl was housed alone in a unit with four cells.

    The separation also means that the youngest inmates cannot take part in activities like kitchen work. In the youth pod in Lafayette, guards had brought in coloring books and jigsaw puzzles to give the boys something to do.

    In New Orleans, Ms. Marshall, now 22, was lucky in some ways after her arrest.

    A judge allowed her to enter a diversion program; if she attended an anger management class, stayed drug free and continued in school, the criminal charge would be dropped.

    She finished high school the next year. But now, five years later, she still lives with her great-aunt, Yolanda Wills, in east New Orleans, where a mantel in their home is filled with Ms. Marshall's high school athletic trophies.

    Ms. Wills, a retired school bus driver living on disability, said she was taken aback when the police arrested Ms. Marshall and then was frustrated by what followed.

    "They said that if she goes through the program, they'd clear her record," Ms. Wills said.

    "But it didn't go anywhere," she said.

    What Ms. Wills and Ms. Marshall did not realize was that, while the criminal charge disappeared, the arrest record remained.

    Ms. Marshall said that because of that record, she has repeatedly been turned down for jobs — as a superstore clerk, as a security guard and as a postal worker, among others.

    She learned only recently from a public defender that her arrest record could be expunged — for $500 in fees.

    Ms. Wills does not have the extra cash, and Ms. Marshall has no way to earn it.

    "I can't pay to expunge the record, and I can't get a job to get the money," she said.



    12)  Charges Dropped Against Brooklyn Mail Carrier in Altercation With Police

    MAY 12, 2016





    A judge on Thursday dismissed the charges against a mail carrier who was handcuffed and arrested in March during an altercation with plainclothes police officers in Brooklyn.

    The district attorney's office had been reviewing the circumstances of the arrest — which was recorded on video — and prosecutors decided to recommend that the charges be dismissed.

    The mail carrier, Glen Grays, said he was making his rounds in the Crown Heights neighborhood when he shouted at the driver of a car that almost sideswiped him on President Street. The unmarked car held four plainclothes officers. Mr. Grays said the officers quickly put the car into reverse, got out and handcuffed him, telling him at one point to stop resisting when, it appears, he would not put his arms behind his back so officers could handcuff him.

    Mr. Grays, whose fiancée is a New York City police officer, was eventually taken to the 71st Precinct station house, where he was issued a summons for disorderly conduct and released.

    In a statement released on Thursday, Ken Thompson, the Brooklyn district attorney, said that he had asked Judge Rosemarie Montalbano to dismiss the charges against Mr. Grays "in the interest of justice." Several postal workers appeared at the dismissal hearing in Brooklyn Criminal Court in show of support for Mr. Grays.

    Kenneth E. Ramseur, the lawyer representing Mr. Grays, praised the dismissal of the charges and said he was encouraged that Mr. Thompson had "taken the bull by the horns." Mr. Ramseur added that Mr. Grays did not want the officers involved in the arrest to lose their jobs.

    The case against Mr. Grays, who is black, had drawn the attention of Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and a former police officer. Mr. Adams released the video at a news conference, expressing outrage over the apparent violation of the civil rights of yet another black man by the police. In a statement on Thursday, Mr. Adams thanked the court and Mr. Thompson for "righting a key piece of the wrong that this young man experienced."

    A few days after the episode, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton opened an investigation, citing "strong concerns" about the arrest of Mr. Grays. In early April, the supervisor who oversaw the arrest, Lt. Luis D. Machado, was placed on administrative duty and stripped of his gun and badge. The other officers involved were removed from their assignment with a specialized neighborhood troubleshooting unit and put back on regular patrol.

    Stephen Davis, a spokesman for the Police Department, said on Thursday that Lieutenant Machado would be served with departmental charges and the other officers would face discipline from their commanders.



    13)  New York Police Criticized for Using Restraining Bag in Arrest

    The arrest on a New York City sidewalk was so startling to a bystander that he took a video of it. And when he posted the video online with the label "Police Brutality," some viewers denounced the officers' tactic as disturbing and inhumane.

    The video showed a man lying on the ground, his ankles and legs bound in bright orange tape, both hands secured behind his back. Four to five officers searched the pockets of his pants and jacket. They then lifted him up, dropped him onto a white bag, strapped him in and covered his head. He was carried, wrapped up like a mummy with only his feet poking out, and deposited — alive — against a wall.

    "I've never in my entire life seen anything like this," said the unidentified man videotaping the arrest near a subway stop at 14th Street and Seventh Avenue earlier this year.

    But the scene was not that unusual, and coming amid national scrutiny of the authorities' use of force and protests after episodes like the death of Eric Garner, who was put in a chokehold by an officer and died in police custody on Staten Island, there is no evidence that the officers involved in the arrest in Manhattan violated police policy.

    For onlookers who had never witnessed a live man being strapped into what looked like a body bag, the sight was unsettling. But the bag in the video, stenciled with "NYPD" and "ESU," is known as a mesh restraining device. The bags are used to restrain people judged to be emotionally disturbed.

    Carla Rabinowitz, an advocacy coordinator for Community Access, which helps people with mental illness, has called on the New York Police Department to stop using the ventilated bags. In a letter last month to Deputy Commissioner Susan A. Herman and Deputy Chief Theresa Tobin, she called the use of the bags "dehumanizing" and "dangerous."

    A Police Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Ms. Rabinowitz's letter. Ms. Rabinowitz later said in an email that she had since spoken to the police and that they had defended using the restraint.

    According to a criminal complaint, the man who was strapped into the ventilated bag, Johnell Muhammad, had been suspected of failing to pay the subway fare, and when officers tried to arrest him, he flailed his arms, kicked and spit at them. Mr. Muhammad struck one officer in the head with his elbow; another was injured trying to subdue him, the complaint said.

    Mr. Muhammad had two pipes with crack cocaine residue, the complaint said, and he faces felony assault and other charges.

    Andrew R. Miller, a lawyer for Mr. Muhammad, denounced the officers' actions, calling them "excessive and totally unreasonable."

    "He was the victim of the assault, instead of the other way around," Mr. Miller said.

    The video, which was shot in March, highlighted a daily problem faced by officers responding to people who are out of control because of mental illness or drugs: How to defuse situations with the least amount of force while also protecting themselves, the public and the person being helped?

    In response to questions about the bags, the Police Department said it had used the restraints for 25 years. The department said only "highly trained members" of the Emergency Service Unit were authorized to use them. The person being restrained is assessed while being held and afterward, and is taken by an ambulance to a hospital for medical and psychological evaluation.

    From Jan. 1 through April 20 of this year, the bag was used 122 times, the police said, or about once a day. During that same period, the department said, it received more than 44,000 emergency calls about emotionally disturbed people.

    Robert J. Louden, a retired chief hostage negotiator with the Police Department and a professor emeritus of criminal justice and homeland security at Georgian Court University in New Jersey, called the restraints an "imperfect solution to very difficult situations."

    "There are no great options," he said.

    Over the years, the department has experimented with plastic shields, netting and Tasers to deal with emotionally disturbed people, Mr. Louden said. It re-evaluated its approaches starting in 1984, after an officer shot and killed Eleanor Bumpers, an emotionally disturbed woman in the Bronx who was attacking another officer with a kitchen knife.

    Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said in an email that irrational people could kick, punch, grab, spit on, bite or head-butt officers, for whom the choices were "try to go slow, talk to the person who is acting out, and appear humane and measured, or act with deliberation and speed."

    Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said: "You look for what is the most humane thing to do in these kinds of situations. When someone does not want to be brought to a hospital, they are not going to be easy to handle."

    Gene DeSantis, chief executive of DeSantis Gunhide, a manufacturer of the bags, said his company had sold fewer than 500 to police departments across the country.

    Ms. Rabinowitz, of Community Access, said she learned about them only recently. "Use of such restraint traumatizes a person in emotional distress and exacerbates the condition and experience of the crisis for the individual," she said in an email. "It is a dehumanizing tactic, and promotes stigma against people with mental health issues."

    In an interview, she credited the Police Department with doing a good job in crisis intervention team training, which seeks to de-escalate confrontations between officers and people with mental illness.

    But she said she worried about using the restraints on veterans who are mentally ill and might associate them with bags used in wars to transport the dead.

    "If people in the mental health community find out that their fate is to be put in a body bag, they will fight even harder to not get into a body bag," she said.



    14)  Pfizer Blocks the Use of Its Drugs in Executions

    The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced on Friday that it had imposed sweeping controls on the distribution of its products to ensure that none are used in lethal injections, a step that closes off the last remaining open-market source of drugs used in executions.

    More than 20 American and European drug companies have already adopted such restrictions, citing either moral or business reasons. Nonetheless, the decision from one of the world's leading pharmaceutical manufacturers is seen as a milestone.

    "With Pfizer's announcement, all F.D.A.-approved manufacturers of any potential execution drug have now blocked their sale for this purpose," said Maya Foa, who tracks drug companies for Reprieve, a London-based human rights advocacy group. "Executing states must now go underground if they want to get hold of medicines for use in lethal injection."

    The obstacles to lethal injection have grown in the last five years as manufacturers, seeking to avoid association with executions, have barred the sale of their products to corrections agencies. Experiments with new drugs, a series of botched executions and covert efforts to obtain lethal chemicals have mired many states in court challenges.

    The mounting difficulty in obtaining lethal drugs has already caused states to furtively scramble for supplies.

    Some states have used straw buyers or tried to import drugs from abroad that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, only to see them seized by federal agents. Some have covertly bought supplies from loosely regulated compounding pharmacies while others, including Arizona, Oklahoma and Ohio, have delayed executions for months or longer because of drug shortages or legal issues tied to injection procedures.

    A few states have adopted the electric chair, firing squad or gas chamber as an alternative if lethal drugs are not available. Since Utah chooses to have a death penalty, "we have to have a means of carrying it out," said State Representative Paul Ray as he argued last year for authorization of the firing squad.

    Lawyers for condemned inmates have challenged the efforts of corrections officials to conceal how the drugs are obtained, saying this makes it impossible to know if they meet quality standards or might cause undue suffering.

    "States are shrouding in secrecy aspects of what should be the most transparent government activity," said Ty Alper, associate director of the death penalty clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

    Before Missouri put a prisoner to death on Wednesday, for example, it refused to say in court whether the lethal barbiturate it used, pentobarbital, was produced by a compounding pharmacy or a licensed manufacturer. Akorn, the only approved company making that drug, has tried to prevent its use in executions.

    Pfizer's decision follows its acquisition last year of Hospira, a company that has made seven drugs used in executions including barbiturates, sedatives and agents that can cause paralysis or heart failure. Hospira had long tried to prevent diversion of its products to state prisons but had not succeeded; its products were used in a prolonged, apparently agonizing execution in Ohio in 2014, and are stockpiled by Arkansas, according to documents obtained by reporters.

    Because these drugs are also distributed for normal medical use, there is no way to determine what share of the agents used in recent executions were produced by Hospira, or more recently, Pfizer.

    Campaigns against the death penalty, and Europe's strong prohibitions on the export of execution drugs, have raised the stakes for pharmaceutical companies. But many, including Pfizer, say medical principles and business concerns have guided their policies.

    "Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve," the company said in Friday's statement, and "strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment."

    Pfizer said it would restrict the sale to selected wholesalers of seven products that could be used in executions. The distributors must certify that they will not resell the drugs to corrections departments and will be closely monitored.

    David B. Muhlhausen, an expert on criminal justice at the Heritage Foundation, accused Pfizer and other drug companies of "caving in to special interest groups." He said that while the companies have a right to choose how their products are used, their efforts to curb sales for executions "are not actually in the public interest" because research shows, he believes, that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on crime.

    Pressure on the drug companies has not only come from human rights groups. Trustees of the New York State pension fund, which is a major shareholder in Pfizer and many other producers, have used the threat of shareholder resolutions to push two other companies to impose controls and praised Pfizer for its new policy.

    "A company in the business of healing people is putting its reputation at risk when it supplies drugs for executions," Thomas P. DiNapoli, the state comptroller, said in an email. "The company is also risking association with botched executions, which opens it to legal and financial damage."

    Less than a decade ago, lethal injection was generally portrayed as a simple, humane way to put condemned prisoners to death. Virtually all executions used the same three-drug combination: sodium thiopental, a barbiturate, to render the inmate unconscious, followed by a paralytic and a heart-stopping drug.

    In 2009, technical production problems, not the efforts of death-penalty opponents, forced the only federally approved factory that made sodium thiopental to close. That, plus more stringent export controls in Europe, set off a cascade of events that have bedeviled state corrections agencies ever since.

    Many states have experimented with new drug combinations, sometimes with disastrous results, such as the prolonged execution of Joseph R. Wood III in Arizona in 2014, using the sedative midazolam. The state's executions are delayed as court challenges continue.

    Under a new glaring spotlight, deficiencies in execution procedures and medical management have also been exposed. After winning a Supreme Court case last year for the right to execute Richard E. Glossip and others using midazolam, Oklahoma had to impose a stay only hours before Mr. Glossip's scheduled execution in September. Officials discovered they had obtained the wrong drug, and imposed a moratorium as a grand jury conducts an investigation.

    A majority of the 32 states with the death penalty have imposed secrecy around their drug sources, saying that suppliers would face severe reprisals or even violence from death penalty opponents. In a court hearing this week, a Texas official argued that disclosing the identity of its pentobarbital source "creates a substantial threat of physical harm."

    But others, noting the evidence that states are making covert drug purchases, see a different motive. "The secrecy is not designed to protect the manufacturers, it is designed to keep the manufacturers in the dark about misuse of their products," said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a research group in Washington.

    Georgia, Missouri and Texas have obtained pentobarbital from compounding pharmacies, which operate without normal F.D.A. oversight and are intended to help patients meet needs for otherwise unavailable medications.

    But other states say they have been unable to find such suppliers.

    Texas, too, is apparently hedging its bets. Last fall, shipments of sodium thiopental, ordered by Texas and Arizona from an unapproved source in India, were seized in airports by federal officials.

    For a host of legal and political reasons as well as the scarcity of injection drugs, the number of executions has declined, to just 28 in 2015, compared with a recent peak of 98 in 1999, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.





































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