Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










MAY DAY 2016

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

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

Union Hall, ILWU Local 10

400 North Point Street

San Francisco, CA 94133

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




North America Premiere of Drone Whistleblower Doc NATIONAL BIRD

Dear Friends and Supporters:

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 1, at 8 PM

The Victoria Theatre, San Francisco

Monday, May 2, at 3 PM

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, San Francisco

Tuesday, May 3, at 4 PM

Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley

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

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

We hope to see you soon!

The Team of National Bird

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

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

Wim Wenders and Errol Morris (Executive Producers)



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

 Sign the petition:





Demonstrate – Demand GM pay $4 billion to Flint

General Motors is Guilty in Flint!

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

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

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

For more info: 313-680-5508




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

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



TAKE ACTION: Mumia is sick

Date & Time: 

Thursday, March 24, 2016 - 18:00



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

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

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

Call, fax and email with the following demands: 

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

Tom Wolf, PA Governor 

Phone  717-787-2500

Fax 717-772-8284                                             

Email governor@pa.gov

John Wetzel, PA Department of Corrections Secretary

Phone:  717-728-2573717 787 2500

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Theresa DelBalso, SCI Mahanoy Prison Superintendent

Phone: 570-773-2158

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

Phone:  717-728-5309 x 5312

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

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

Phone:  800-592-2974 x 5783

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

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

Thank you for keeping Mumia in your heart and mind,

Noelle Hanrahan

Director, Prison Radio


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







This message from:

Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

06 January 2016

Mumia Is Innocent!  Free Mumia!




Imam Jamil (H.Rap Brown) moved

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

Sign the Petition:

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

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

ASAP: The Forgotten Imam Project

P.O. Box 373

Four Oaks, NC 27524


Luqman Abdullah-ibn Al-Sidiq





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


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















  We need people to do the following things

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information: www.Justice4MajorTillery.blogspot.com 

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


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

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

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

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

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the podcast or read the full transcript here


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

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

Chelsea Manning, Guardian OpEd

Feb 8, 2016

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

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

Read the complete op-ed here




When Drone Whistleblowers are Under Attack, 

What Do We Do?


 We honor Stephan, Michael, Brandon and Cian!

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

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


1.  Sign up on this support network:


2.  Sign this petition  NOW:


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

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


Statement of Support for Drone Whistleblowers

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

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

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

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


URGENT: Sign and Share NOW! Drone Whistleblower Protection Petition


Contacting your Government

- White House comment line: 202-456-1111

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

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

- Email your Senators and Representatives:


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

- Contact John Brennan, CIA Director: Go to

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

For more information on the 4 Drone Whistleblowers:



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



Code Pink Women for Peace: eastbaycodepink@gmail.com



Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

Sign the Petition:


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

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

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

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

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

Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,

James Clark
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

News Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



For Immediate Release – Thursday, October 29, 2015 

Solitary Prisoners' Lawyers Slam CDCR for Sleep Deprivation

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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




Sign the Petition:


Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:

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

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

American Federation of Teachers

Campaign for America's Future

Courage Campaign

Daily Kos

Democracy for America


Project Springboard

RH Reality Check


Student Debt Crisis

The Nation

Working Families



Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

Dear Supporters and Friends,

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

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

My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

                          Lorenzo's wife,

                           Tazza Salvatto

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

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

Write: Lorenzo Johnson

            DF 1036

            SCI Mahanoy

            301 Morea Rd.

            Frackville, PA 17932

 Email: Through JPay using the code:

              Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


              Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


              Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

Have a wonderful day!

- The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

Write: Lorenzo Johnson

            DF 1036

            SCI Mahanoy

            301 Morea Rd.

            Frackville, PA 17932

 Email: Through JPay using the code:

              Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


              Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com




Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser



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

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

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

Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had

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


Please send letters to:

Marquette Branch Prison

Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671

1960 US Hwy 41 South

Marquette, MI 49855

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

c/o Dorothy Pinkney

1940 Union St.

Benton Harbor, MI 49022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney

Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,

Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<

Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,

David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice

Sara Flounders – International Action Center


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

Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

Secretary of the Army John McHugh

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

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

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

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

Secretary of the Army John McHugh

101 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0101

The Judge Advocate General

2200 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-2200

Army Clemency and Parole Board

251 18th St, Suite 385

Arlington, VA 22202-3532

Directorate of Inmate Administration

Attn: Boards Branch

U.S. Disciplinary Barracks

1301 N. Warehouse Road

Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304

Suggestions for letters send to DoD officials:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courage to Resist

484 Lake Park Ave. #41

Oakland, CA 94610












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

APRIL 24, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

APRIL 24, 2016


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

And that is her tally from the last year alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



3)  The Mirage of a Return to Manufacturing Greatness


April 26, 2016


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

The battle to save jobs was on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading the main story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Black Agenda Report, April 27, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

APRIL 27, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



6)  Rescuers in Guatemala Search for Survivors After Trash Heap Collapses

APRIL 28, 2016


GUATEMALA CITY — Hundreds of rescuers picked through a Guatemalan garbage dump on Thursday looking for bodies or possible survivors a day after a large slope of trash collapsed, killing at least four people.

The National Civil Police reported that 18 people might still be missing, while Guatemala's national disaster response agency put the figure at five.

Dozens of people seeking loved ones who were unaccounted for gathered at the dump in the capital, Guatemala City.

Marta Juliá Dávila, 21, said her 60-year-old grandfather, Hugo Leonel Pérez Alonzo, worked as a "guajero," or garbage picker, looking for recyclable materials. Mr. Pérez's family had not seen him since before the collapse, and workers reported that he was last spotted sitting in the area where it happened, Ms. Dávila added.

"We are sure he is there because yesterday he left for work and last night he did not return to his home," Ms. Dávila said. "There are a lot of people buried."

Recent rains may have contributed to the slope's collapse.

The authorities said about 1,000 people worked in that area of the dump and had been asked to evacuate after an earlier slide, but some resisted.

About 3,000 tons of garbage from the capital and surrounding areas are handled daily at the dump.



7)  Colorado Weighs Replacing Obama's Health Policy With Universal Coverage

DENVER — For years, voters in this swing state have rejected tax increases and efforts to expand government. But now they are flirting with a radical transformation: whether to abandon President Obama's health care policy and instead create a new, taxpayer-financed public health system that guarantees coverage for everyone.

The estimated $38-billion-a-year proposal, which will go before Colorado voters in November, will test whether people have an appetite for a new system that goes further than the Affordable Care Act. That question is also in play in the Democratic presidential primaries.

The state-level effort, which supporters here call the ColoradoCare plan, would do away with deductibles. It would allow patients to choose doctors and specialists without distinguishing between those "in network" and those "out of network." It would largely be paid for with a tax increase on workers and businesses, and cover everyone in the state. Supporters say most people would end up saving money.

Insurance groups, chambers of commerce and conservatives have already lined up in opposition. They say the plan's details are vague, its size and cost galling. The proposed health system would have a budget bigger than that of Colorado's entire state government. A new 10 percent tax on payroll and incomes to pay for the system would push Colorado's tax rates to some of the highest in the nation.

The proposal's chance of success is dubious. Colorado has a mixed record when it comes to ballot measures, though it has passed some notable ones over the years, including marijuana legalization and the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, an anti-tax, anti-spending constitutional amendment.

But the proposal had enough support to garner 100,000 signatures, which put it on the ballot. It has also worried insurers, and some in the medical community and the business community, enough for them to organize in opposition, even enlisting a Democratic former governor to help in their campaign.

In this season of political discontent, the notion of dismantling the health insurance system has tapped an aquifer of frustration from voters. People say that even after the Affordable Care Act, they still pay too much in premiums, plus thousands in deductibles, and still have to worry about being bankrupted by a disabling car crash or an extended hospital stay.

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"I think insurance is one of the biggest jokes and crooks," said Brandon Barta, 38, of Denver. He said his father, Dixon, who worked at a gas station, never received aggressive enough treatment for his prostate cancer. He died last May at the age of 64.

"He was overlooked," Mr. Barta said.

Mr. Barta said he was intrigued by the idea of a universal health plan that covered maternity care, checkups, emergency room visits and hospital stays, all the way through end-of-life care. Like millions of Americans, he has health insurance tied to his work. His coverage lapsed recently when he switched jobs to start working for a golf entertainment complex, and he is still waiting for his new plan to kick in.

Still, he has questions about how universal coverage would work and how much it would cost taxpayers like him.

The answers: If a majority of voters say yes, the system would start running in 2019, and essentially be a start-up health cooperative bigger than companies like Nike and American Express, according to the Colorado Health Institute, an independent policy group. A 21-person elected board would set the benefits and budgets. The system would be financed by payroll taxes of 3.3 percent for workers and 6.7 percent for employers. It would impose a 10 percent tax on investment income, people who are self-employed and some small-business income.

In the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, echoing many moderate Democratic leaders here, has said that she wants to keep and improve the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Obama's signature legislative legacy. But her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, who won Colorado's Democratic caucuses last month by nearly 20 points, has advocated abandoning the health law for a "Medicare for all" approach. His proposal is similar to the ColoradoCare plan.

The campaign over the Colorado initiative has had the unusual effect of putting conservative critics in the position of defending Mr. Obama's health plan against an assault from the left. At the same time, it is energizing progressives, who say the Affordable Care Act was a giveaway to the insurance industry that, even with an estimated 20 million people newly insured, has left too many others without coverage.

"No matter how long we hang in there with the Affordable Care Act, we will never cover everybody," said Jeanne Nicholson, a former Democratic state senator and nurse who is a leading supporter of universal care here. "We don't understand why we should compromise and say some people can have bronze coverage, some can have silver and some can have gold. Why can't we all have platinum plus?"

Nathan Wilkes, 42, who lives in the Denver suburbs, said that years of trying to get care for his son, who has hemophilia, had worn his family thin and made him an advocate for universal coverage. He said the family had spent thousands of dollars and destroyed its credit because of insufficient coverage. The Affordable Care Act offered some benefits, he said, but its gaps were still too big and "not sustainable."

Unlike its conservative neighbors, Colorado jumped to get on board with the Affordable Care Act. It set up its own insurance marketplace and expanded Medicaid coverage for poorer residents. But there have been stumbles. People in mountain towns with few providers faced eye-popping premiums for coverage. Colorado's biggest health cooperative, Colorado HealthOP, shut down in October, forcing more than 80,000 people to find new plans.

Colorado's plan would replace many private workplace plans, but it would sit alongside Medicare and federal health coverage for veterans, and private insurers could still sell coverage to people who wanted more.

The Colorado Health Institute, an independent policy group, said the plan's passage would be "the most far-reaching health care reform in any state" since the Affordable Care Act.

"It's replacing a system that I think has become really dysfunctional," said Irene Aguilar, a Democratic state senator and physician who is leading the effort. "The game has been rigged by the for-profit corporations to ensure they win."

Opponents say that it could wreck the state's humming economy and drive away doctors and businesses, and that its costs could spiral out of control.

If it passes, ColoradoCare would become part of the state Constitution, and become virtually impossible to significantly alter without a statewide vote. It would also fall outside the reach of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a 1992 amendment to the Colorado Constitution that put strict limits on spending and new taxes.

"It would be a disastrous economic impact on the state," said Walker Stapleton, Colorado's treasurer and a co-chairman of the opposition campaign. "If you think legalized pot brought a lot of people to Colorado, you should try free health care."

Like many other Republicans here, Mr. Stapleton opposed the Affordable Care Act and continues to criticize how it has been put in place. But to defeat the new initiative, he now finds himself defending the federal health law.

Sean Duffy, a Republican and a spokesman for the opposition campaign, said many of his neighbors in the conservative Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch had eagerly signed the petition to put the question on the November ballot because they saw it as a way to get rid of Obamacare.

Some Democratic officials also oppose the state's universal care effort. They include Gov. John Hickenlooper, who said during his 2014 re-election fight that he was "no big fan of the Affordable Care Act."

Colorado's previous Democratic governor, Bill Ritter, also opposes it.

Michelle Lucero, general counsel at Children's Hospital Colorado, is among the health care officials lining up against the measure. (The hospital itself also opposes it.) She worries that it could threaten research dollars or drive away doctors.

"They're going to choose to go to a state that's not hamstrung by this," she said.



8)  As Russians Struggle to Pay Bills, Debt Collectors Mimic the Mob

APRIL 29, 2016


MOSCOW — They have stripped and sexually abused a woman, severely burned a toddler by firebombing a house and broken a woman's pinkie as a warning. Gang members, bandits, mobsters? Not exactly. These are debt collectors, a peculiarly Russian variety that is flourishing amid the country's economic turmoil.

As a punishing recession stretches into a second year, people struggling to make ends meet are resorting in growing numbers to borrowing at astronomical interest rates that many cannot possibly afford.

With unpaid debts mushrooming, collection has turned into something of a blood sport reminiscent of the shocking gang violence of the 1990s, with threats and violence by debt collectors spreading across the sprawling Russian hinterland largely unrestrained by public authorities.

"As a rule, small sums are involved in these cases, and it is easier to recover them by physical force," said Danila S. Mikhalishchev, a debt collector turned consumer advocate. "It is easier to frighten people than to sue them."

In 2015, the amount of unpaid debt surged by almost 50 percent to $15 billion, or about 13 percent of all personal debt, according to Alexander A. Akhlomov of the United Credit Bureau, a private organization that tracks credit ratings. A borrower making no payments for three months is considered to be in default. Just since March of last year, the number of Russians in that category has leapt to 7.5 million from 6 million, he said.

It is not hard to see why. In 2015, real wages declined 10 percent in the face of a steep drop in the global price of oil, a weak ruble and Western economic sanctions imposed over Russia's military intervention in Ukraine. This March, for the first time since 2008, Russians spent more than half their income on food, beverages and cigarettes, according to government statistics.

To make matters worse, banks have tightened credit, so the growing ranks of Russians living paycheck to paycheck have fewer options. "What changed with the crisis is that banks became much stricter about issuing new loans," Mr. Akhlomov said. "Before, if people did not have the money to pay off a loan, they could go to another bank. That does not work anymore."

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Generally, banks seeking loan payments are not in the business of thrashing their customers physically. The worst abuses are rooted in the so-called microfinance industry, which extends small loans to tide borrowers over until their next paycheck.

Those loans average $125, according to United Credit Bureau statistics. The interest rate is usually 2 percent a day, or 730 percent a year. That adds up fast.

Take Natalya Gorbunova, 38, a house painter in Iskitim, a small city of 60,000 about 2,100 miles east of Moscow. She usually earns some $400 a month but hit a rough patch in September 2014 while her husband, a security guard, was hospitalized with an ulcer.

She borrowed $75 from the small blue and green kiosk of a microfinance company called Instant Money near a bus stop in Iskitim, figuring she could repay it within a month.

She could not, however, and that was when the abusive telephone calls started. Collectors threatened to kill her if she did not pay. Angry, Ms. Gorbunova decided not to repay a kopeck, she said in newspaper and television interviews. She did not go to the police, she said, because "everyone told us that no one would deal with it."

By the time four debt collectors wearing black balaclavas smashed into her small wooden shack on March 30, that debt had bloated to more than $3,600. The men put bags over her head and those of her husband and 17-year-old son, beating and kicking them while demanding repayment.

They pushed Ms. Gorbunova facedown on a couch, stripped off her pajamas and began "poking" her with some kind of wooden object, she said.

"I was shocked, but the only thing I thought about was that I did not want them to hurt my son," she said on a television talk show.

The police called it sexual assault, and an appalled public called it rape. Representatives of the collection industry either accused her of lying or suggested that a few "black collectors" were soiling the entire industry. No one has been arrested, and the credit company denied any involvement.

The grass-roots level of the collection industry is unregulated, thinly separated from organized crime and peopled mainly by cashiered police officers, former secret police agents and prison or security guards. About 40 percent of all unpaid debt ends up in the hands of collection agencies, said Mr. Akhlomov of the United Credit Bureau.

Short of violence, collectors use all manner of psychological pressure. They telephone constantly, sometimes as many as 150 times a day. They hound not just the debtors but their families, friends and business associates, demanding that they help pay.

The police in the southern city of Stavropol opened a case against one collection agency that blocked phone service to the local children's hospital by robocalling every hospital number in pursuit of a debtor.

Collectors spray-paint apartment doors with the word "DOLG," or "DEBT." They ruin locks with super glue and break windows.

They distribute fliers using the pictures and phone numbers of debtors and advertising for sexual services. They threaten death or the loss of a limb. Some debtors have been driven to suicide.

When they call or send text messages, the collectors often use names from Chechnya or the southern Caucasus, whose residents have a reputation for fearsome violence.

"When they call, they use some invented name like Ahmed Islamovich, which immediately exerts psychological pressure on any Russian," said Anton Babin, a 29-year-old psychologist who accuses the collectors of provoking a fatal heart attack in his 55-year-old mother by hounding her.

Children are frequent targets of coercion. Several kindergartens have been evacuated because collectors threatened to blow them up.

Victims are generally poor and uneducated, have little faith in the government and do not know that most courts will wipe out the ballooning interest.

The level of violence horrifies Russians, who believed that the most vicious Al Capone-like excesses of the chaotic 1990s had been left behind given the stern guidance and prosperity of past years under President Vladimir V. Putin. The outcry finally prompted the government to act, albeit haltingly.

Yuri Y. Chaika, Russia's prosecutor general, publicly urged law enforcement agencies to be less lethargic. Out of 21,000 complaints in recent years, only a handful of cases were pursued, he said, calling the legal response a failure given the magnitude of the problem.

This month Parliament began debating a law to ban collection agencies. "They should be handcuffed, so they won't beat anyone, won't rape anyone or won't burn anyone," said Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a populist politician, waving handcuffs as he delivered a Parliament speech that was broadcast nationally.

Critics say that an outright ban would just drive the process underground, and that a regulatory framework is what is really needed.

In the meantime, people are trying to figure out how to defend themselves.

Evgeny O. Sharov, a 26-year-old singing teacher in the southern city of Tolyatti, joined a forum called Stop Collector after he and his relatives were harassed.

"I'm now aware that when a call comes from those collectors, I shouldn't show them that I'm afraid," he said in a telephone interview. "The faster you show them that you're afraid of something, the more dogged they become."



9) A Mockery of Justice for the Poor

APRIL 29, 2016


OVER the past year, everyone from the conservative Right on Crime project to the Black Lives Matter movement has pushed criminal justice reform to the forefront of political debates. Yet politicians at every level of government remain almost completely silent about one of the biggest crises facing criminal justice: the utter collapse of indigent defense.

In the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court held in 1963 that the state or local government had to provide a lawyer to any defendant facing prison time who could not afford his or her own. This was no minor decision. Approximately 80 percent of all state criminal defendants in the United States qualify for a government-provided lawyer.

Yet despite this constitutional guarantee, state and county spending on lawyers for the poor amounts to only $2.3 billion — barely 1 percent of the more than $200 billion governments spend annually on criminal justice.

Worse, since 1995, real spending on indigent defense has fallen, by 2 percent, even as the number of felony cases has risen by approximately 40 percent.

Not surprisingly, public defense finds itself starved of resources while facing impossible caseloads that mock the idea of justice for the poor.

In Fresno, Calif., for instance, public defenders have caseloads that are four times the recommended maximum of around 150. In Minnesota, one public defender followed by a reporter estimated that he had about 12 minutes to devote to each client that day. There is no way these lawyers can manage the cases being thrown at them.

In New Orleans, caseloads are so high that the parish's public defender office has started to refuse to take cases, including murder cases. Public defender offices in other states, including Florida, Missouri, New York and Pennsylvania, have taken similar steps when caseloads have grown too heavy.

To make things worse, 43 states now require indigent defendants to pay at least a portion of their lawyers' fees, even though these defendants are by definition indisputably poor.

The situation in South Dakota highlights the insanity of this. South Dakota charges a defendant $92 an hour for his public defender, owed no matter the outcome of the case. If a public defender spends 10 hours proving that her client is innocent, the defendant still owes the lawyer $920, even though he committed no crime and his arrest was a mistake.

Failure to pay is a crime. Someone who qualifies as indigent may be acquitted, only to be convicted of being too poor to pay for the legal services the Constitution requires the state to provide.

This is not justice.

There is, however, a way out of this, one that the presidential candidates of both parties should embrace, one that should have broad bipartisan appeal. And it is an approach that no one is talking about.

The federal government, which now provides just a few million dollarsper year to prop up local indigent defense services, could make an annual grant of $4 billion to state and local governments for indigent defense. This is a mere 0.3 percent of the federal government's approximately $1.2 trillion discretionary budget. This money would triple spending on indigent defense, especially if the grant was tied to pre-existing spending by local governments so they couldn't just cut their own spending one-for-one with the grant.

For Democrats, this plan would target a major cost of poverty and inequality and, because of the correlation between wealth and race, it would tackle at least some of the racial imbalances that permeate the criminal justice system.

For Republicans, who worry about state overreach and the government's ability to oppress its citizens, meaningful public defense ensures that the poor, too, are able to check the state when it is acting in its most powerful capacity.

Funding indigent defense would also help scale back mass incarceration, a goal both parties share. My research has shown that the primary source of prison growth in the 1990s and 2000s has been prosecutors' filing of felony charges against more and more arrestees, many of whom in the past would have faced misdemeanor charges or no charges at all. Ensuring that prosecutors' opponents are able to do their jobs competently would dampen prosecutorial aggressiveness.

Tellingly, as public defender caseloads have soared amid shrinking budgets, prosecutor caseloads appear to have held relatively steady, as funding and hiring of prosecutors generally rose over roughly the last 20 years. Public defenders find themselves at an increasing disadvantage, surely contributing to our nation's inability to really rein in prison population growth.

If defendants had well-funded, effective representation, our adversarial system would do what it is intended to do. What we have right now, however, simply is not adversarial: relatively well-funded, well-staffed prosecutor offices square off against public defenders whose caseloads defy imagination.

Funding public defense would ensure that poor people's constitutional rights are protected, would advance a commitment to justice shared by liberals and conservatives alike, and would help roll back our staggering prison population.

It is also feasible, cheap by federal standards, and would have powerful, long-lasting effects.



10)  Surge in Palestinian Youths in Prison Tests Israel's Justice System

APRIL 29, 2016


HALHOUL, West Bank — Sharing a cell inside an Israeli prison, the Palestinian girls would toss baskets and play a game they called shuffle ball. There were academic classes in the afternoon, and sometimes an Arab-Israeli prisoner known as Auntie Lina would braid their hair.

In the evenings, Dima al-Wawi, a 12-year-old arrested in February with a knife at the entrance to an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, would sing Palestinian nationalist anthems with Istabraq Noor, 14, who was accused of trying to sneak into a different settlement to attack Jewish residents in October.

"Mom, I didn't even cry once!" Dima boasted upon being released on Sunday after serving about half of her four-and-a-half-month sentence.

"Not even for us?" asked her mother, Sabha, 47.

"Only under the covers," she replied. "At night."

There were a dozen such girls with similar cases in Israeli custody before Dima's release, up from one in September — part of a surge in Palestinian minors incarcerated during a wave of violence that has killed about 30 Israelis in the last seven months. Assaf Liberati, a spokesman for the prison service, said the number of Palestinian prisoners under 18 more than doubled, to 430 from 170 before the stabbings, shootings and vehicular attacks began on Oct. 1. Of them, 103 were 16 or younger, up from 32.

"It's the biggest number that we know," Mr. Liberati said.

The increase reflects a broad Israeli crackdown on young Palestinians who throw stones or otherwise confront soldiers and civilians amid an outbreak of attacks in which nearly half the suspects are teenagers. It has renewed a debate over how Israel's military justice system, which prosecutes Palestinians from the West Bank, differs from the courts that cover Israeli citizens and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, and especially how it handles very young offenders.

"Nobody doubts what she did," Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human rights group B'tselem said of Dima, "but if she was an Israeli child, it would be impossible under Israeli law to sentence a child this young for an actual jail term.

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"They don't see a small girl," Ms. Michaeli added. "They think of them as terrorists."

Israel has enacted some changes since a 2013 Unicef report described abuses in the military court system as "widespread, systematic and institutionalized." The age at which suspects can be prosecuted as adults was raised to 18 from 16; a separate youth court was created; and the amount of time minors can be detained without appearing before a judge was cut from 96 hours to 48 hours for 15-year-olds and 24 hours for those 14 and under.

Palestinian lawyers have had some success persuading judges to send young detainees to homes for troubled youths, a recourse that was offered to Dima but rejected by her parents. At least three have been sent to homes, Dima's lawyers said.

"How could my daughter, who is just 12, go to a place like that?" Ms. Wawi asked in an interview. "It was a hard decision, but we said, 'O.K., put her in jail. At least we know how she will come out.' "

The changes brought Israel's two justice systems more in line with each other, but differences remain, as illustrated by the case of two cousins arrested on April 14 in Jerusalem's Old City.

Mohammad Shadeh, 12, who was found with a meat cleaver and two knives in his school bag — along with a piggy bank containing the equivalent of $11 and a note in misspelled Arabic saying he wanted to kill a soldier — has been jailed since his arrest. Mohammad Ramzi, who is also 12 and lives in East Jerusalem, is under house arrest — an option not available to West Bank residents like his cousin.

Defense for Children International-Palestine, an advocacy group that has tracked the issue for years, said in an April report that most West Bank suspects were still interrogated alone, had faced some form of physical abuse and were not informed of their rights.

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

The spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, Emmanuel Nahshon, said that "the severity of the crimes" and "their often ideologically motivated nature creates a unique set of demands from the criminal-justice system."

"The question is why are so many Palestinian children being dispatched to murder Israelis?" he asked. "The answer is they are being brainwashed by their leaders."

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority said in a recent interview on Israeli television that his government was trying to tamp down the violence, with security forces going into schools to search for weapons. "In one school, we found 70 boys and girls who were carrying knives," Mr. Abbas said, adding that the officers told the students, "'This is a mistake. We do not want you to kill and be killed. We want you to live, and for the other side to live as well. "

But Mr. Abbas's Fatah party was out in force to welcome Dima home as a hero, as was its rival Hamas, which openly encourages violence.

Dima's lawyer, Abir Baker, mainly blamed the Israeli occupation for the attacks, but said that many of the minors involved had other problems, arguing that they need rehabilitation, not punishment.

Take Salwa Taqatqa, one of Dima's prison pals, who is 13 and tried to stab an Israeli with a seven-inch blade on March 23. Her mother, Amna, said Salwa was a troubled tomboy who was repeating fifth grade, was scared of the dark and still wet her bed.

Dima, who turned 12 in November, was hyperactive and having trouble at school, but her mother said that the family rejected a counselor's advice that she see a psychiatrist, worried that neighbors would think she was "crazy."

The girl grew obsessed with the Palestinian attackers she saw on Al Aqsa television, which is run by the militant Islamist group Hamas, memorizing how and when they were killed by Israeli forces. (More than 200 Palestinians have been shot dead since Oct. 1, most during attacks, attempted attacks or suspected attacks.)

On Feb. 9, Dima skipped school, stuffed a knife from the family kitchen under her long school shirt and walked from her home in the village of Halhoul to the nearby Karmi Tzur settlement. She said she stopped at the entrance, hoping a guard would search her so she could stab him from up close. The guard ordered her to sit down.

A resident of the settlement, armed with a pistol, made Dima remove the bulge from her shirt, according to court documents provided by B'tselem, which closely followed the case. She tossed the knife away and was taken to an Israeli police station.

Dima said that several men and women interrogated her before the police called her parents later in the afternoon. During the questioning, she felt her pants begin to fill with blood, and began to panic.

Her father, Ismail, said he was not allowed to see his daughter at the station and was interrogated himself, then taken to the side by an officer and told about the bleeding. Dima's mother said she fretted for days, unsure whether it was caused by some trauma during the arrest, or, as it turned out, the girl's first menstruation.

"Her parents should have been there with her," Ms. Wawi said. "She should have been in the house when that happened, not an Israeli prison."

During six military court hearings, Dima and her parents said, the girl's legs were shackled and she was not allowed to touch her parents. Dima recalled one kind police officer, a woman named Ziva, who "used to roll down my pants and put the shackles above them, so it wouldn't hurt me."

On Feb. 18, she pleaded guilty to attempted manslaughter and was sentenced to four and a half months in prison. She was released early because of "her extremely young age," according to the Israeli prison spokesman.

Ms. Wawi had to apply for permits to enter Israel to visit her daughter, and then communicate with her only through a plastic barrier, using telephones. (In one consequence of her arrest, her father lost his permit to work in Israel.)

Now, the girl has become a local celebrity. She was welcomed home on Sunday with a ceremony at the governor's office in the West Bank city of Tulkarm. At her home in Halhoul, men from Fatah hoisted banners and those from Hamas released balloons in their trademark green, while a convoy of beeping cars, usually reserved for weddings, drove around town waving flags of their preferred party.

On the way, Dima, holding an iPad, flipped through photographs of herself posted on social media sites. When she told a reporter she had gone to the settlement to kill Jews because "I wanted to be a martyr," her mother interjected, noting, "You said you wanted to be an agricultural engineer."

"Mom!" Dima groaned. "I changed my mind!"



11)  A New Generation's Anger Resounds From a Packed Plaza in Paris

APRIL 29, 2016


PARIS — There are denunciations of "speciesism," of multinational corporations, capitalism, G.M.O.s, the police and nuclear power. There are pleas for Julian Assange and African workers. There are drumming, guitar playing, free soup and 20-somethings swigging beer.

A jolly ragged man, unsteady on his feet, takes the microphone to denounce "words, words, words." Another announces, mysteriously, "We've got to be on the side of the dominated!"

This is France's newest political movement, open every night to the public on a main square in Paris, the Place de la République, which has been transformed into a giant outdoor sit-in recalling the demonstrations of May 1968 in multicultural form.

The plaza has been packed with young people every night for nearly a month, venting their anger — at just about everything. The news media here cannot seem to get enough of the movement, which calls itself Nuit Debout — or "Night, Standing Up" — a phrase some in the movement say is inspired by the 16th-century writer Étienne de La Boétie's line, "They are only tall because we are on our knees." Others say it comes from the "Internationale," the hymn of the 19th-century revolutionary left.

But the movement is more than just a freewheeling free-for-all of inchoate frustration.

On Thursday night, the protest at the Place de République took a violent turn as police arrested several dozen demonstrators when they refused to disperse at midnight. Some of the protesters threw blocks of concrete and glass bottles at the police, who responded with tear gas. At other protests across France, 24 police officers were injured, three seriously.

At a moment when disgust with mainstream parties is high, the movement is also being observed warily by the country's politicians, who recall how such citizen protests led to potent political parties in Spain and Italy.

The French movement was born in anger at the government's attempt to overhaul France's ponderous labor code, in hopes of making it easier for employers to hire and provide jobs for just the kinds of young people who have now occupied the square. But the government's proposals also made it easier to fire.

To say that the plan backfired is an understatement. The answer from the younger generation trying to elbow its way into the work force was simple: We don't want what you are offering; we want what our parents have, and then some.

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All through March students and unions took to the streets to demonstrate. The protests spread to the provinces. The government quickly backed down, gutting its own plan.

"Our youth feel neglected by society," Prime Minister Manuel Valls mused carefully in an interview with the newspaper Libération. "Nuit Debout is expressing this, in its own way."

The concessions were quick in coming. Fearful of an unbudging 25 percent youth unemployment and a permanent mobilization in the streets, the government two weeks ago called in student union leaders and agreed to spend upward of 400 million euros (about $450 million) in subsidies, taxes and allowances aimed at helping young people find work.

High school graduates looking for work will now get government help for four months. Temporary work contracts — the bane of new entrants to the job market, since they represent most hires — will be taxed, to encourage more employers to hire people permanently. (The effect so far has been the opposite: Employer associations are infuriated.)

Dissatisfaction with the government, a hit film with a French super-boss as its target that was inspired by the American documentary maker Michael Moore, and the capital's floating cast of permanent protest organizers helped congeal the new movement.

Nuit Debout's organizers say they are not organizers, and the man anointed its "master thinker" in the French news media — Frédéric Lordon, a left-leaning economist at France's National Center for Scientific Research — scoffs at the idea.

"It would be claiming a position of authority, and that's ridiculous," he said in an interview. "They don't need a 'master thinker.' They are producing ideas in every direction. They don't have a leader or a spokesman." Nuit Debout, he added, was practicing "horizontal democracy."

Among the rank and file, that sentiment is shared. Andrea, 27, who was working in the "Logistics" tent at the Place de la République, refused to give her last name — in the style of Nuit Debout's organizers — because she said she did not want to be singled out as a leader.

But she described the evolution of the movement. "After one of the demonstrations, we said, 'Let's not go home,' " she explained.

Starting as a reaction against the labor-code overhaul, the protest organizers pondered the question: "How can we make them scared?" said Andrea, who said she was also on Nuit Debout's "legal team."

Not everyone is pleased, of course.

A luminary of the right-wing opposition, Brice Hortefeux, is furious that Paris's mayor allows the continuing mass protest when France is still under a state of emergency after the terrorist attacks in November. "Night, standing up, government, standing down!" he fumed.

The right-leaning newspaper Le Figaro commented that "it's the calix of humiliation that the prime minister must drink, right down to the dregs." Brussels is already critical of France for failing to stem its public finances; the government ignored Brussels.

The government's grasp, indeed, appears to be slipping. A headline in Le Figaro on Thursday read: "Government paralyzed in the face of Nuit Debout."

Its economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, a former banker despised by France's left for being too pro-capitalist, announced he was forming his own political movement, as his colleagues in the government grumbled about him anonymously in the press.

President François Hollande, facing near-certain defeat in elections next year, told television interviewers that "things are getting better," which only provoked derision in the news media and on the streets.

The president's soothing words were not enough to clear the Place de la République, nor has a sometimes heavy police presence hovering in the background.

For now, the movement's daily twists and turns are chronicled anxiously on the left and the right as if it were a pop star: "Nuit Debout Thinks About Its Future," was the front-page headline in Libération last weekend.

That followed headlines the movement made when it expelled to jeers and spittle the right-leaning philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, or appeared to have too many bearded leftist teachers and not enough workers, or was not appealing enough to people in the beleaguered suburbs.

While they try to make up their minds or decide their next moves, the participants seem to be having too good a time to leave, just yet.

"It's an agreeable movement. It shows we're still living in a democracy," said Emmanuel Colas, 22, a computer software expert, watching the action recently on the side. "It's what makes me love France. There are loads of people here. It's not going to change things radically. But all these people are showing they love liberty."

On a rare temperate evening the appeal seemed obvious. "They are attempting another way of doing politics," said Florent Chappel, an engineer at the Housing Ministry. "It's stimulating; it's a taking-hold of conscience. A sort of vitality, a will to re-enchant the world."



12)  San Francisco Police Chief Releases Officers' Racist Texts

APRIL 29, 2016


SAN FRANCISCO — Police Chief Gregory P. Suhr on Friday announced that all officers on the San Francisco force would be required to complete anti-bias training as he released nine pages of racist text messages between three officers that further tarnished the image of a department under federal investigation.

"We have nothing to hide," said Chief Suhr. "These are the actions of a few."

But the city's public defender and experts on criminal justice said the texts appeared to reveal a deep culture of bias in the 2,000-member force that contradicts the city's image of tolerance and liberalism.

"These texts evidence a deep culture of racial hatred and animus against blacks, Latinos, gays and even South Asians," Jeff Adachi, the public defender, said in an interview. "It can no longer be said to be an isolated problem."

A number of police departments, including those in Miami and Los Angeles, have had problems with racist messages sent by their officers. Experts in criminal justice have debated how to address bias, both conscious and unconscious.

The text messages released Friday use crude and strongly disparaging language against blacks and other minorities and were discovered as part of an investigation into a rape charge against one of the officers.

They come a year after a scandal involving 14 officers who also exchanged racist messages. An attempt to fire some of the 14 was rejected by a Superior Court judge, who said the statute of limitation had expired. Most of those officers remain on the force. Of the three officers whose messages were released Friday, one has retired and two have resigned.

Some of the messages released Friday had been previously made public by the public defender's office, which is reopening the files on 207 cases that were handled by the three officers who sent the messages.

Mr. Adachi said the messages were highly consequential.

"These are people who have the power to arrest and the power to kill somebody," he said. "If you're thinking, 'This is a wild animal or this is a crazed black man who's going to hurt me,' that's when you might pull the trigger. That's where it becomes scary."

Chief Suhr also announced measures on Friday that would re-evaluate the use of force by officers. Two men wielding knives, an African-American and a Latino, have been fatally shot by the police since December in what critics say was unnecessary use of force.

Among other things, the chief said the department would now require officers to document any time they point their weapons at someone. He also announced measures requiring officers to carry helmets, long batons and gloves in their vehicles "to create time and distance from a person with a weapon short of a firearm."

Eugene O'Donnell, a former New York City police officer who is now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that racist texts in San Francisco were a marker of more complex and multicultural times. Two of the three officers are Asian-Americans.

"The traditional black/white narrative is changing," he said.

Mr. O'Donnell said that firing racist officers is the "easy part" but that changing the mentality of officers is much harder. He is skeptical that lectures on diversity and tolerance are effective.

"Lecturing officers is not going to work," he said. "If you tell the cops, 'Don't tell us what you really think,' that fuels a backlash."

The text messages released Friday had names and dates redacted. But in what appears to be a measure of the seriousness of the problem within the police force, the texts were sent last year, just as the scandal of the 14 officers exchanging racist messages was raging.

One text message released on Friday featured the image of a badly burned turkey and the words "Is that a Ferguson turkey," an apparent reference to the St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown, a black teenager, was killed by a white police officer.

The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday published emails mocking blacks, Latinos and Muslims that were sent by Tom Angel, now the chief of staff for the sheriff of Los Angeles County. The emails were sent when Mr. Angel was an officer in Burbank.

The texting scandal in San Francisco comes as the federal government is conducting an overall review of the Police Department after the fatal shooting in December of an African-American man, Mario Woods.

After video of the shooting was posted online, prompting an outcry, Mayor Edwin M. Lee requested the federal investigation, which is being carried out by the Justice Department.



13)  Iraq Protesters Storm Parliament, Demanding End to Corruption

APRIL 30, 2016


BAGHDAD — Hundreds of protesters stormed Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone on Saturday and entered the Parliament building, waving Iraqi flags, snapping photographs, breaking furniture and demanding an end to corruption. The episode deepened a political crisis that has paralyzed Iraq's government for weeks.

As the chaos unfolded in the afternoon — one lawmaker was attacked, and protesters damaged several vehicles near Parliament — the Baghdad Operations Command announced a state of emergency, deploying additional forces around the capital city. Checkpoints at city entrances were closed, even as the protests remained largely nonviolent.

The scenes of protest, circulated in photos and videos on social media sites, were potent illustrations of the anger that has grown during months of protests by Iraqis demanding that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi carry out measures to end sectarian quotas in politics and fight corruption.

The protesters were mostly supporters of the powerful Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr. Rather than pushing for the ouster of Mr. Abadi, they have largely supported the prime minister as he has sought to make good on promises, still unfulfilled, to improve how the government works.

The ease with which they penetrated the rim of the Green Zone suggested that security forces — and perhaps Mr. Abadi himself, as some hinted — were supportive of the protesters. There were no reports of shots fired, and Mr. Sadr's own militiamen were said to have taken charge of security near Parliament. Later in the evening, security officers fired tear gas and warning shots to prevent more people from entering the enclave.

By nightfall, the protesters were leaving Parliament and gathering in another section of the Green Zone: Celebration Square, an area with a famous statue of giant crossed swords that was once a parade ground for Saddam Hussein. The protesters seemed to be settling in there for the night, and Mr. Abadi said the "security situation in Baghdad is under control."

It will soon become clearer whether the aim of Mr. Sadr and his followers is to nudge politicians who have opposed Mr. Abadi's efforts — their stated goal — or to bring down the government itself.

Just before protesters entered the Green Zone, Mr. Sadr gave a speech from Najaf, in southern Iraq, saying, "I'm waiting for the great popular uprising and the great revolution to stop the march of corrupted officials."

For many protesters, jubilant at having breached the blast walls and razor wire that ring it, the Green Zone was a place they had never been.

One protester inside Parliament, speaking to the Kurdish news channel Rudaw, pointed to chocolates on the desks of lawmakers and said: "People have nothing to eat. The lawmakers are sitting here eating chocolates and mocking our pain."

To Iraqis who have lived through the Hussein reign, the American occupation and the current turmoil, the Green Zone has long symbolized tyranny, occupation and corruption. Above all, it has been a sign of the separation between the people and a ruling elite unresponsive to the aspirations of Iraq's citizens.

The mere presence of protesters in the halls of government adds a new element to Iraq's paralysis as the country struggles to keep up the fight against the Islamic State and faces a collapse in oil prices that has sharply reduced government revenue.

Sajad Jiyad, an adviser to Mr. Abadi, said Saturday that the prime minister was at a military compound inside the Green Zone and was confident that the situation would calm down.

Mr. Abadi, he said, had ordered Special Forces soldiers to seal off the area around Parliament and to organize a peaceful withdrawal of the demonstrators.

The American Embassy in Baghdad said Saturday on Twitter that rumors that Iraqi officials had sought safety in the embassy compound were not true, as were reports that the embassy was evacuating personnel.

The United Nations office in Baghdad said that it was "gravely concerned by today's developments in Baghdad," but that it was still working from its headquarters in the Green Zone.

The United Nations called for all political leaders "to engage in dialogue" and carry out the changes necessary "to draw Iraq out of its political, economic and security crisis."

Parliament was stormed after a session that had been scheduled for Saturday was postponed for lack of a quorum. Mr. Abadi had been expected to introduce several new ministers as part of a promise to overhaul his cabinet and fill it with technocrats instead of politicians beholden to a party or sect.

The political crisis that has gripped Iraq in recent weeks came as the Obama administration announced moves to deepen the American military role in Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State, including deploying more soldiers closer to the front lines to assist Iraqi forces, and introducing Apache helicopters gunships into the fight.

Iraqi forces, backed by American airstrikes, have made progress against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in western Anbar Province in recent months.

American advisers have been pressing the Iraqis to speed up their planning for an offensive to retake Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, which fell to the Islamic State in 2014.

But as the United States has sought to keep the focus on the war against the Islamic State, Iraq's dysfunctional politics — with Shiite and Sunni Arabs and Kurds struggling to manage the country's affairs — has overshadowed the war.

In recent weeks, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. all rushed to Baghdad to show support for Mr. Abadi and try to refocus attention on the war against the Islamic State.

On Tuesday, Mr. Abadi gained approval for some of the new ministers, but only after a revolt from opposition lawmakers who had called for his ouster and tossed water bottles at him.

Mr. Abadi, a Shiite, rose to the office of prime minister in 2014, just after the Islamic State seized control of the city of Mosul.

He replaced Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, another Shiite. The United States and others blamed Mr. Maliki's sectarian policies for marginalizing the minority Sunnis and allowing the rise of ISIS.

Last summer, during a heat wave, protests erupted in response to electricity shortages and quickly grew into widespread demonstrations against corruption and patronage.

They were backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is the country's most powerful cleric, and Mr. Abadi responded by announcing an ambitious package of measures to fight corruption, trim government and install technocrats in important positions.

But he has failed to carry out his promises, as politicians dependent on patronage and government perquisites stand in his way. Chief among his opponents has been Mr. Maliki, the former prime minister, who many say is working behind the scenes to undermine Mr. Abadi in an attempt to return to power.

This year, Mr. Sadr entered the fray, ostensibly to lend his support and that of his millions of Shiite followers to Mr. Abadi's efforts to push through changes in his government. But many analysts say Mr. Sadr, who in recent years has curtailed his political activities, is trying to reinsert himself into Iraq's political mix.

In his speech on Saturday, Mr. Sadr said, "The main political blocs in this country want a partisan government of sectarian quotas so they can keep their gains and keep stealing."

Mr. Sadr, who controls dozens of seats in Parliament, said he would boycott the government, seeming to suggest that he will allow the crisis, at least for the time being, to play out in the streets.



14)  Inquiry Into Missing Mexican Students Ends on Note of Frustration

APRIL 30, 2016


MEXICO CITY — It has been a tumultuous final week for the five foreign legal and human rights experts who have spent more than a year examining the case of 43 missing college students.

It began last Sunday when the independent panel issued its second voluminous report on the case, which raised further questions about the government's handling of the matter and challenged the authorities' conclusions. What followed were a series of dueling news conferences by the panelists and by government officials, each accusing the other of playing with the truth and bringing the relationship between the government and the experts to a low ebb.

But by Friday, with the panel's mandate about to end and the experts preparing to leave the country, the tone had shifted again. "Now that we leave, it seems like everybody likes us," said Francisco Cox, a Chilean lawyer and panel member. "They express gratefulness."

He added, perhaps mindful of the frustrations accompanying the panel's work in recent months, "We have to see if that's real."

Many in Mexico question the sincerity of the government's gratitude, and they fear that with the panel's departure, the country is losing its best chance of finding out the truth about the students' disappearance.

The 43 students, undergraduates from a teachers college in Ayotzinapa, in the violent Pacific coast state of Guerrero, disappeared one night in September 2014 amid violent confrontations with Mexican security forces in the city of Iguala. The remains of only one student have been found.

The Mexican government, under pressure from the students' relatives, invited the foreign experts to examine the case. The panel — five lawyers and human rights experts from Chile, Colombia, Guatemala and Spain — began its work in March 2015.

The relationship between the panel and the government, which started well, became more complicated and tense in September when the investigators issued their first report, which found significant problemswith the government's investigation.

But the relationship took a bitter turn last week.

The dispute focused on the events that unfolded on Oct. 28 and 29, 2014, along the banks of the San Juan River near the town of Cocula. The government has maintained that the students were murdered and incinerated by a drug gang and that their remains were dumped in the river. But the foreign experts have said the available evidence does not support those conclusions.

In the panel's second report and in an accompanying news conference last Sunday, the experts questioned the propriety of a visit by investigators to the riverbank in October 2014, saying they apparently violated international investigative protocols.

The experts screened video clips at the news conference showing Tomás Zerón, the chief of criminal investigations for Mexico's attorney general, accompanying a detained suspect to the scene on Oct. 28, 2014. The videos showed an investigator handling a bone fragment that was discarded after officials determined it was from a bird.

The videos also showed plastic bags that resembled one recovered from the river the next day by investigators and contained incinerated bones, including one that provided the only known DNA link to one of the missing students.

Yet none of that day's investigative activities were recorded in the case file, the foreign panelists said, suggesting, at best, poor detective work and, at worst, the manipulation or planting of evidence.

The news conference seemed to be the experts' parting shot before their mandate expired on Saturday. And it might well have been had Mr. Zerón not held his own news conference on Wednesday night to say his riverside visit was legal and transparent, conducted in view of journalists and representatives of the United Nations human rights office. He did not explain, however, why the visit had not been recorded in the case file.

The angered experts responded with another news conference, on Thursday morning. They called Mr. Zerón's assertions "a distortion of reality" and said his actions on Oct. 28 violated "minimum international standards." They also said no United Nations representatives had accompanied Mr. Zerón to the riverbank that day.

The week looked as if it might get even stormier, but by Thursday evening the attorney general's office had issued a statement saying it had opened an internal affairs inquiry into the actions of the government investigators.

On Friday, the expert panel formally presented its second report to Mexico's attorney general, Arely Gómez González.

Ms. Gómez told the panel that the case was still open and that "she would take into consideration each and every one" of the panel's recommendations, Mr. Cox said.

Even though the experts will be gone by the end of the weekend, Mr. Cox added, they will keep an eye on the investigation.

"We're going to call it as we see it," he said.



15)  Daniel J. Berrigan, Defiant Priest Who Preached Pacifism, Dies at 94

"The United States was tearing itself apart over civil rights and the war in Southeast Asia when Father Berrigan emerged in the 1960s as an intellectual star of the Roman Catholic 'new left,' articulating a view that racism and poverty, militarism and capitalist greed were interconnected pieces of the same big problem: an unjust society."

APRIL 30, 2016


The Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan, a Jesuit priest and poet whose defiant protests helped shape the tactics of opposition to the Vietnam War and landed him in prison, died on Saturday in the Bronx. He was 94.

His death, at Murray-Weigel Hall, the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University, was confirmed by the Rev. James Martin, editor at large at America magazine, a national Catholic magazine published by the Jesuits.

The United States was tearing itself apart over civil rights and the war in Southeast Asia when Father Berrigan emerged in the 1960s as an intellectual star of the Roman Catholic "new left," articulating a view that racism and poverty, militarism and capitalist greed were interconnected pieces of the same big problem: an unjust society.

It was an essentially religious position, based on a stringent reading of the Scriptures that some called pure and others radical. But it would have explosive political consequences as Father Berrigan; his brother Philip, a Josephite priest; and their allies took their case to the streets with rising disregard for the law or their personal fortunes.

A defining point was the burning of Selective Service draft records in Catonsville, Md., and the subsequent trial of the so-called Catonsville Nine, a sequence of events that inspired an escalation of protests across the country; there were marches, sit-ins, the public burning of draft cards and other acts of civil disobedience.

The catalyzing episode occurred on May 17, 1968, six weeks after the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the outbreak of new riots in dozens of cities. Nine Catholic activists, led by Daniel and Philip Berrigan, entered a Knights of Columbus building in Catonsville and went up to the second floor, where the local draft board had offices. In front of astonished clerks, they seized hundreds of draft records, carried them down to the parking lot and set them on fire with homemade napalm.

Some reporters had been told of the raid in advance. They were given a statement that said in part, "We destroy these draft records not only because they exploit our young men but because they represent misplaced power concentrated in the ruling class of America." It added, "We confront the Catholic Church, other Christian bodies and the synagogues of America with their silence and cowardice in the face of our country's crimes."

In a year sick with images of destruction, from the Tet offensive in Vietnam to the murder of Dr. King, a scene was recorded that had been contrived to shock people to attention, and did so. When the police came, the trespassers were praying in the parking lot, led by two middle-aged men in clerical collars: the big, craggy Philip, a decorated hero of World War II, and the ascetic Daniel, waiting peacefully to be led into the van.

Protests and Arrests

In the years to come, well into his 80s, Daniel Berrigan was arrested time and again, for greater or lesser offenses: in 1980, for taking part in the Plowshares raid on a General Electric missile plant in King of Prussia, Pa., where the Berrigan brothers and others rained hammer blows on missile warheads; in 2006, for blocking the entrance to the Intrepid naval museum in Manhattan.

"The day after I'm embalmed," he said in 2001, on his 80th birthday, "that's when I'll give it up."

It was not for lack of other things to do. In his long career of writing and teaching at Fordham and other universities, Father Berrigan published a torrent of essays and broadsides and, on average, a book a year, almost to the time of his death.

Among the more than 50 books were 15 volumes of poetry — the first of which, "Time Without Number," won the prestigious Lamont Poetry Prize, given by the Academy of American Poets, in 1957 — as well as autobiography, social criticism, commentaries on the Old Testament prophets and indictments of the established order, both secular and ecclesiastic.

While he was known for his wry wit, there was a darkness in much of what Father Berrigan wrote and said, the burden of which was that one had to keep trying to do the right thing regardless of the near certainty that it would make no difference. In the withering of the pacifist movement and the country's general support for the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, he saw proof that it was folly to expect lasting results.

"This is the worst time of my long life," he said in an interview with The Nation in 2008. "I have never had such meager expectations of the system."

What made it bearable, he wrote elsewhere, was a disciplined, implicitly difficult belief in God as the key to sanity and survival.

Many books by and about Father Berrigan remain in print, and a collection of his work over half a century, "Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings," was published in 2009.

He also had a way of popping up in the wider culture: as the "radical priest" in Paul Simon's song "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"; as inspiration for the character Father Corrigan in Colum McCann's 2009 novel, "Let the Great World Spin." He even had a small movie role, appearing as a Jesuit priest in "The Mission" in 1989.

But his place in the public imagination was pretty much fixed at the time of the Catonsville raid, as the impish-looking half of the Berrigan brothers — traitors and anarchists in the minds of a great many Americans, exemplars to those who formed what some called the ultra-resistance.

Continue reading the main story

After a trial that served as a platform for their antiwar message, the Berrigans were convicted of destroying government property and sentenced to three years each in the federal prison in Danbury, Conn. Having exhausted their appeals, they were to begin serving their terms on April 10, 1970.

Instead, they raised the stakes by going underground. The men who had been on the cover of Time were now on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most-wanted list. As Daniel explained in a letter to the French magazine Africasia, he was not buying the "mythology" fostered by American liberals that there was a "moral necessity of joining illegal action to legal consequences." In any case, both brothers were tracked down and sent to prison.

Philip Berrigan had been the main force behind Catonsville, but it was mostly Daniel who mined the incident and its aftermath for literary meaning — a process already underway when the F.B.I. caught up with him on Block Island, off the Rhode Island coast, on Aug. 11, 1970. There was "The Trial of the Catonsville Nine," a one-act play in free verse drawn directly from the court transcripts, and "Prison Poems," written during his incarceration in Danbury.

In "My Father," he wrote:

I sit here in the prison ward

nervously dickering with my ulcer

a half-tamed animal

raising hell in its living space

But in 500 lines the poem talks as well about the politics of resistance, memories of childhood terror and, most of all, the overbearing weight of his dead father:

I wonder if I ever loved him

if he ever loved us

if he ever loved me.

The father was Thomas William Berrigan, a man full of words and grievances who got by as a railroad engineer, labor union officer and farmer. He married Frida Fromhart and had six sons with her. Daniel, the fourth, was born on May 9, 1921, in Virginia, Minn.

When he was a young boy, the family moved to a farm near Syracuse to be close to his father's family.

In his autobiography, "To Dwell in Peace," Daniel Berrigan described his father as "an incendiary without a cause," a subscriber to Catholic liberal periodicals and the frustrated writer of poems of no distinction.

"Early on," he wrote, "we grew inured, as the price of survival, to violence as a norm of existence. I remember, my eyes open to the lives of neighbors, my astonishment at seeing that wives and husbands were not natural enemies."

Battles With the Church

Born with weak ankles, Daniel could not walk until he was 4. His frailty spared him the heavy lifting demanded of his brothers; instead he helped his mother around the house. Thus he seemed to absorb not only his father's sense of life's unfairness but also an intimate knowledge of how a man's rage can play out in the victimization of women.

At an early age, he wrote, he believed that the church condoned his father's treatment of his mother. Yet he wanted to be a priest. After high school he earned a bachelor's degree in 1946 from St. Andrew-on-Hudson, a Jesuit seminary in Hyde Park, N.Y., and a master's from Woodstock College in Baltimore in 1952. He was ordained that year.

Sent for a year of study and ministerial work in France, he met some worker-priests who gave him "a practical vision of the Church as she should be," he wrote. Afterward he spent three years at the Jesuits' Brooklyn Preparatory School, teaching theology and French, while absorbing the poetry of Robert Frost, E. E. Cummings and the 19th-century Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins. His own early work often combined elements of nature with religious symbols.

But he was not to become a pastoral poet or live the retiring life he had imagined. His ideas were simply turning too hot, sometimes even for friends and mentors like Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, and the Trappist intellectual Thomas Merton.

At Le Moyne College in Syracuse, where he was a popular professor of New Testament studies from 1957 to 1963, Father Berrigan formed friendships with his students that other faculty members disapproved of, inculcating in them his ideas about pacifism and civil rights. (One student, David Miller, became the first draft-card burner to be convicted under a 1965 law.)

Father Berrigan was effectively exiled in 1965, after angering the hawkish Cardinal Francis Spellman in New York. Besides Father Berrigan's work in organizing antiwar groups like the interdenominational Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, there was the matter of the death of Roger La Porte, a young man with whom Father Berrigan said he was slightly acquainted. To protest American involvement in Southeast Asia, Mr. La Porte set himself on fire outside the United Nations building in November 1965.

Soon, according to Father Berrigan, "the most atrocious rumors were linking his death to his friendship with me." He spoke at a service for Mr. La Porte, and soon thereafter the Jesuits, widely believed to have been pressured by Cardinal Spellman, sent him on a "fact-finding" mission among poor workers in South America. An outcry from Catholic liberals brought him back after only three months, enough time for him to have been radicalized even further by the facts he had found.

For the Jesuits, Father Berrigan was both a magnet to bright young seminarians and a troublemaker who could not be kept in any one faculty job too long.

At onetime or another he held faculty positions or ran programs at Union Seminary, Loyola University New Orleans, Columbia, Cornell and Yale. Eventually he settled into a long tenure at Fordham, the Jesuit university in the Bronx, where for a time he had the title of poet in residence.

Father Berrigan was released from the Danbury penitentiary in 1972; the Jesuits, alarmed at his failing health, managed to get him out early. He then resumed his travels.

After visiting the Middle East, he bluntly accused Israel of "militarism" and the "domestic repressions" of Palestinians. His remarks angered many American Jews. "Let us call this by its right name," wrote Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, himself a contentious figure among religious scholars: "old-fashioned theological anti-Semitism."

Nor was Father Berrigan universally admired by Catholics. Many faulted him for not singling out repressive Communist states in his diatribes against the world order, and later for not lending his voice to the outcry over sexual abuse by priests. There was also a sense that his notoriety was a distraction from the religious work that needed to be done.

Not the least of his long-running battles was with the church hierarchy. He was scathing about the shift to conservatism under Pope John Paul II and the "company men" he appointed to high positions.

Much of Father Berrigan's later work was concentrated on helping AIDS patients in New York City. In 2012, he appeared in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan to support the Occupy Wall Street protest.

He also devoted himself to writing biblical studies. He felt a special affinity for the Hebrew prophets, especially Jeremiah, who was chosen by God to warn of impending disaster and commanded to keep at it, even though no one would listen for 40 years.

A brother, Jerry, died in July at age 95, and another brother, Philip, died in 2002 at age 79.

Father Berrigan seemed to reach a poet's awareness of his place in the scheme of things, and that of his brother Philip, who left the priesthood for a married life of service to the poor and spent a total of 11 years in prison for disturbing the peace in one way or another before his death from cancer in 2002. While they both still lived, Daniel Berrigan wrote:

My brother and I stand like the fences

of abandoned farms, changed times

too loosely webbed against

deicide homicide

A really powerful blow

would bring us down like scarecrows.

Nature, knowing this, finding us mildly useful

indulging also

her backhanded love of freakishness

allows us to stand.



16)  A Potent Side Effect to the Flint Water Crisis: Mental Health Problems

APRIL 30, 2016


FLINT, Mich. — Health care workers are scrambling to help the people here cope with what many fear will be chronic consequences of the city's water contamination crisis: profound stress, worry, depression and guilt.

Uncertainty about their own health and the health of their children, the open-ended nature of the crisis, and raw anger over government's role in both causing the lead contamination and trying to remedy it, are all taking their toll on Flint's residents.

"The first thing I noticed when I got to Flint, quite honestly, was the level of fear and anxiety and distress," said Dr. Nicole Lurie, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services who has been coordinating the federal recovery effort here since January. On Wednesday, President Obama will pay his first visit to the city since the lead contamination was revealed.

A team of behavioral health specialists from the United States Public Health Service began addressing the mental health problem in February by providing "psychological first aid" training for people interested in helping others cope with the water emergency.

Genesee Health System, a local mental health agency, also created the Flint Community Resilience Group, whose members are focusing on the long-term psychological consequences of the water crisis and how to address them.

With a $500,000 emergency grant from the state, the group is offering free crisis counseling at churches and the public library, and has held two community meetings on stress management. Social workers and social work students from around the state are helping with the counseling on a volunteer basis.

But the need probably extends far beyond the 400 people who have been helped since the counseling started in February.

Diane Breckenridge, Genesee Health's liaison to local hospitals, said she had seen "people come into the hospitals directly related to breakdowns, nervous breakdowns, if you will."

"Most of it's been depression or suicidal ideation directly linked to what's going on with their children," she added. "They just feel like they can't even let their children take a bath."

Children, too, are traumatized, said Dexter Clarke, a supervisor at Genesee Health, not least because they constantly hear frightening things on television about the lead crisis, including breathless advertisements by personal injury lawyers seeking clients.

"I teach a fifth-grade class of little girls every Wednesday, and they're from Flint," Ms. Breckenridge said, "and I just get all kinds of questions because they're terrified."

A bill in the United States House of Representatives would provide $5 million for mental health needs in Flint as part of a broader aid package, but has not gotten traction. A separate aid package in the Senate appears to have more momentum, but does not include money for mental health.

The state, meanwhile, is planning to send mobile crisis teams into Flint neighborhoods and to provide help to local pediatricians through a child psychiatric teleprogram.

Michigan's earlier decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act will help more low-income residents get psychological help, although officials at Genesee Health System worry about not having enough licensed social workers to meet the eventual demand. About 15,000 additional children and pregnant women here will be eligible for Medicaid, possibly starting this month, under a temporary program that government and local officials are rushing to put together.

One challenge is convincing people to seek mental health care. The Rev. Rigel J. Dawson, pastor of the North Central Church of Christ and a member of the Flint Community Resilience Group, said his focus was on persuading religious-minded residents of the majority-black city to pursue psychological help if they need it.

"There's a history, especially in the African-American church, of 'I'm strong enough spiritually to deal with it,'" Mr. Dawson said. "You see the signs of stress and what it's doing to the community, but we're conditioned to put on our church face and act like it's O.K."

Danis Russell, the chief executive of Genesee Health System, said that while the potential for stigma had kept many here from seeking mental health services in the past, the water crisis might make them more willing.

"Now there's an acceptable reason," he said. "People may say: 'This isn't my fault. Somebody did this to us and everybody's getting help, so I should, too.'"

Continue reading the main story

Still, Mr. Russell added, "What the demand will look like going forward, I don't think anyone knows."

Five Flint residents recently shared their accounts of the psychological impact of the crisis:

'If you go to sleep, it feels like it's all going to go away.'

Janice Berryman spends solitary days in a home scattered with pink pillows and angel figurines, following every twist of Flint's water crisis on television and trying to keep her anger at bay.

Her tap water was found to have extremely high lead levels as recently as February, she said. Family members have stopped visiting, including a niece in Arkansas whose twin toddlers Ms. Berryman, 71, is aching to meet. Sometimes her loneliness brings her to tears, she said.

For a while she found it helped to attend protests, and she even took a bus to Lansing in January to march outside the Capitol during Gov. Rick Snyder's State of the State address. But with heart disease, diabetes and other ailments, "I just said, 'I've got to back down.'"

She began sleeping a lot — too much, her relatives told her.

"If you go to sleep, it feels like it's all going to go away," she said. "But it don't."

Her doctor has persuaded her to try the crisis counseling at the public library.

"He said, 'I think you need to, Jan, just to get your feelings out,'" she said. "But if I don't feel it's working? Adios. If they try to start pushing pills on me, I'll be gone. I don't need a bunch of pills to drug me up."

Two of Ms. Berryman's siblings died young, experiences that she said had forced her to learn endurance.

"I think that's why I handle this a little better than others," she said. "No matter what your anger level is, God sees you through."

'I poisoned other people's children.'

Bob and Johanna Atwood Brown thought they were doing everything right.

When reports of lead in the water supply surfaced last summer, they installed a filter on their faucet, which removes lead up to 150 parts per billion. They used bottled water for drinking, but relied on their filtered tap water for cooking, coffee or to make their 10-year-old son and his friends Kool-Aid on hot summer days.

But when they had their water tested in January, they learned that it contained lead at 200 parts per billion — more than their filter was designed to handle, and far more than the federal safety threshold of 15 parts per billion.

Ms. Brown said she was haunted by thoughts of her son and his friends drinking the lemonade and Kool-Aid she had made them.

"The guilt is unreal," she said. "I poisoned other people's children."

Mr. Brown said he felt as if he had failed as a father and protector of his family.

"You beat yourself up," he said. "Why didn't we do something earlier? Why didn't we test earlier?"

Their son received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder before the water crisis, and the Browns said they feared that the lead could exacerbate those problems — or produce others.

He "has special needs as it is, so it's hard to tell if there's a behavioral component," Ms. Brown said. "Things are not clear."

She added: "Are we going to get cancer from this? I'm terrified."

As an outlet, Ms. Brown has started a blog and uses Facebook. She was already seeing a therapist, she said, but now the stress and guilt associated with her home's water contamination dominate her sessions.

Mr. Brown said he did not talk about it much, but as the associate director in Flint for Michigan State University's Center for Economic and Community Development, he finds it therapeutic to share his story when he speaks at events and meetings.

"It never leaves you," Mr. Brown said. "At some point you just want to jump up and down and yell and scream, and then you just try to move forward. Because what are you going to say?"

'Did my kids deserve this?'

Too often now, Nicole Lewis cannot sleep.

"I'm up until midnight some nights because I can't shut down," she said. "Just thinking about my life in general — like really, did I deserve this? Did my kids deserve this?"

Ms. Lewis, a 29-year-old accountant and single mother of two boys, said she had also been experiencing chest pains. When they come, she lies down and drinks bottled water.

"Yet I've been told that this bottled water could have lead, too," she said, voicing a common concern here.

To help her nerves, she recently installed a home water filtration system, paying $42.50 a month for the service on her main water supply line. She also bought a blender to make her sons smoothies with lead-leaching vegetables, like spinach and kale.

But still her mind races, especially late at night. Her 7-year-old was just found to have attention deficit disorder, she said. Her 2-year-old is already showing athletic promise, but she wonders whether lead exposure will affect his ability to play sports.

She also worries that living in Flint will brand her as damaged goods if she ever tries to find a job elsewhere.

"When they see my résumé will they say, 'Oh wait, she's from Flint — she might be a huge liability for us'?" she said.

She has no time for a therapist, she said, but regularly talks to her mother in Houston.

"I just vent a lot of stuff out to her," she said. "She's a listening ear."

'This thing will never be over.'

As if there were not enough putting Maelores Collins on edge, her dog will not stop barking. She suspects Flint's water is to blame.

"I think he's hallucinating," she said as Wally, a Yorkshire terrier, yapped from a cage near the back door. "We need to get him tested."

The barking adds to a sense of disorder that has agitated Ms. Collins, 48, for months. She is tired of the water bottles cluttering her house, and of eating only microwaved food because she fears cooking with even filtered tap water. Small kindnesses, like her sister bringing over potpies from Kentucky Fried Chicken, keep her going.

Ms. Collins blames the water for a problem that deeply troubles her: Her hair has broken off over the past six months.

Her self-prescribed therapy consists of cruising the aisles of Walmart or playing bid whist, a card game, with friends. A few months ago, her doctor also prescribed Xanax, a tranquilizer, which she takes "to get up" in the morning, she said.

"I'm depressed, I'm angry, my anxiety is running high," said Ms. Collins, a former construction worker who has asthma and is on permanent disability.

Worse off, she said, is her 12-year-old grandson, who refuses to drink even bottled water and will eat only off paper plates. The family jumped several hurdles to secure a psychiatric appointment for him in early May.

"He's freaking out — he's like, 'We're all going to die from the water,'" Ms. Collins said. "I said, 'You're young, you ain't going nowhere.' But I can't convince this boy."

Ms. Collins called the situation "crazy."

"Lose your hair, your family tripping about different things, your kids leaving water bottles all over the house," she said.

She laughed sharply. Wally continued his frantic barking, and she cast a withering glance his way.

"This thing," she said, "will never be over."









































































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