Kwame Montsho Ajamu Somburu ¡Presente!

October 13, 1934 - May 3, 2016

By The Editors of Socialist Viewpoint Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saying it like it is 

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

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

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

Kwame, the scientific socialist and historian

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

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

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

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

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

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

The audience went crazy applauding and cheering Kwame.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have lost a great human being. 

Rest in Power, Kwame.

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




Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:













10th annual Berkeley objector day peace flag raising

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

Monday, May 16, 2014, 11:30am
2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, California

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

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

>>View invite online


House committee votes to extend draft to women

By Courage to Resist. May 2, 2016

Sign a petition to abolish the draft

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

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

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

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

>>Read more here

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

By Courage to Resist. April 7, 2016

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

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

>> Read our complete article here



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

 Sign the petition:





Demonstrate – Demand GM pay $4 billion to Flint

General Motors is Guilty in Flint!

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

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

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

For more info: 313-680-5508




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

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




Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser



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

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

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

Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had

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


Please send letters to:

Marquette Branch Prison

Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671

1960 US Hwy 41 South

Marquette, MI 49855

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

c/o Dorothy Pinkney

1940 Union St.

Benton Harbor, MI 49022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney

Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,

Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<

Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,

David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice

Sara Flounders – International Action Center


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

Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



TAKE ACTION: Mumia is sick

Date & Time: 

Thursday, March 24, 2016 - 18:00



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

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

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

Call, fax and email with the following demands: 

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

Tom Wolf, PA Governor 

Phone  717-787-2500

Fax 717-772-8284                                             

Email governor@pa.gov

John Wetzel, PA Department of Corrections Secretary

Phone:  717-728-2573717 787 2500

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Theresa DelBalso, SCI Mahanoy Prison Superintendent

Phone: 570-773-2158

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

Phone:  717-728-5309 x 5312

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

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

Phone:  800-592-2974 x 5783

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

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

Thank you for keeping Mumia in your heart and mind,

Noelle Hanrahan

Director, Prison Radio


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







This message from:

Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

06 January 2016

Mumia Is Innocent!  Free Mumia!




Imam Jamil (H.Rap Brown) moved

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

Sign the Petition:

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

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

ASAP: The Forgotten Imam Project

P.O. Box 373

Four Oaks, NC 27524


Luqman Abdullah-ibn Al-Sidiq






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demand the Department of Corrections:

Stop the Retaliation Against Major Tillery.

Exonerate Major Tillery for the false charges of drug possession.

Remove the false misconduct from Major Tillery's record.

Transfer Major Tillery from SCI Frackville to another facility in eastern Pennsylvania near his family.

Provide decent medical care to Major Tillery and all prisoners!

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

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

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

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

For more information: www.Justice4MajorTillery.blogspot.com 

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

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

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the podcast or read the full transcript here


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

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

Chelsea Manning, Guardian OpEd

Feb 8, 2016

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

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

Read the complete op-ed here




When Drone Whistleblowers are Under Attack, 

What Do We Do?


 We honor Stephan, Michael, Brandon and Cian!

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

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


1.  Sign up on this support network:


2.  Sign this petition  NOW:


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

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


Statement of Support for Drone Whistleblowers

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

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

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

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


URGENT: Sign and Share NOW! Drone Whistleblower Protection Petition


Contacting your Government

- White House comment line: 202-456-1111

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

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

- Email your Senators and Representatives:


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

- Contact John Brennan, CIA Director: Go to

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

For more information on the 4 Drone Whistleblowers:



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



Code Pink Women for Peace: eastbaycodepink@gmail.com



Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

Sign the Petition:


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

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

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

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

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

Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,

James Clark
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




    Sign the Petition:


    Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:

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

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

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    Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

    Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

    Dear Supporters and Friends,

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

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

    My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

                              Lorenzo's wife,

                               Tazza Salvatto

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

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

    Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                DF 1036

                SCI Mahanoy

                301 Morea Rd.

                Frackville, PA 17932

     Email: Through JPay using the code:

                  Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                  Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                  Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

    Have a wonderful day!

    - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

    Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                DF 1036

                SCI Mahanoy

                301 Morea Rd.

                Frackville, PA 17932

     Email: Through JPay using the code:

                  Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                  Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com













    1)  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.

    Continue reading the main story

    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."



    2)  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.



    3)  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.



    4)  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.



    5)  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.



    6)  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."



    7)  Sick-Out by Teachers Shuts Nearly All Detroit Public Schools

    MAY 2, 2016, 6:09 A.M. E.D.T.


    DETROIT — Nearly all of Detroit's public schools were closed Monday after the teachers union urged members to call out sick following a weekend announcement that the district wouldn't be able to pay its teachers starting this summer.

    District spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said in an email Monday morning that 94 of the district's 97 schools would be closed for the day. About 46,000 students are enrolled in the district's schools.

    The move by the Detroit Federation of Teachers was announced Sunday, a day after Detroit Public Schools' transition manager said the district would have no money to continue paying teachers this summer without further funding from the state.

    "There's a basic agreement in America: When you put in a day's work, you'll receive a day's pay," Detroit Federation of Teachers Interim President Ivy Bailey said in a statement. "DPS is breaking that deal. Teachers want to be in the classroom giving children a chance to learn and reach their potential.

    "Unfortunately, by refusing to guarantee that we will be paid for our work, DPS is effectively locking our members out of the classrooms."

    In March, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law emergency funding that is keeping the district operating through the end of the school year as the state Legislature considers a $720 million restructuring plan that would pay off the district's enormous debt.

    Former bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who was appointed this year to oversee the district, also said Saturday that DPS would be unable to fund summer school or special education programs after June 30.

    On Sunday night, he said in a statement that the union's "choice for a drastic call to action was not necessary" and said that a sickout is "counterproductive and detrimental" to the efforts of those trying to help the school district.

    "I understand the frustration and anger that our teachers feel," Rhodes said. "I am, however, confident that the Legislature will support the request that will guarantee that teachers will receive the pay that is owed to them."

    Teacher strikes are illegal under Michigan law. Sick-outs earlier this year caused tens of thousands of students to miss class.



    8)  Honduras Arrests 4 Men in Killing of Berta Cáceres, Indigenous Activist

    MEXICO CITY — Four men have been arrested in the murder of a Honduran environmental and indigenous rights activist whose killing two months ago prompted international condemnation, the authorities said on Monday.

    The activist, Berta Cáceres, led a decade-long fight to block construction of the Agua Zarca Dam along the Gualcarque River, which is sacred to her Lenca people. Despite numerous threats and the killings of other members of her organization, she was undeterred.

    She was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize last year, but the international acclaim was not enough to protect her. On March 3, gunmen burst into the house where she was staying in La Esperanza, her hometown, in western Honduras, and fatally shot her.

    The suspects were arrested in raids early Monday. Two of them are linked to the Honduran company that is building the dam, Desarrollos Energéticos S.A., or DESA.

    Since the killing, the Honduran government has been under intense pressure to find Ms. Cáceres's killers. The murder occurred as President Juan Orlando Hernández has been trying to project a new image of his country, one of the most violent in the world.

    Alongside the gang and drug violence, a steady drumbeat of assassinations of journalists, lawyers, labor and peasant leaders and environmental activists has come to mark Honduran politics ever since a 2009 coup.

    One of the suspects arrested on Monday, Sergio Rodríguez Orellana, is a manager for social and environmental issues for DESA, the company said in a statement, noting that it was "surprised" by his arrest. "We trust that all employees' actions are within the law," the company said, and denied "any material or intellectual connection" to the murder.

    The company said it had complied with all investigators' requests.

    A second suspect, Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, had worked in the past for a security company hired by the dam project, DESA wrote in response to an email.

    A military spokesman told the local news media that the two other suspects are an army major and a retired captain.

    Ms. Cáceres's family said they learned of the arrests from news reports. They questioned whether the investigation would ultimately lead to those who planned and ordered the killing. Ms. Cáceres was not under police protection when she was killed.

    "Because we have been excluded from the investigative process from the start, we have no way to judge whether the arrests are the result of an exhaustive investigation, nor do we know if they included the intellectual authorship at all its levels," according to a statement Monday from Ms. Cáceres's family and the organization she founded, the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras.

    Silvio Carrillo, a nephew of Ms. Cáceres, wrote in an email that officials had told the family last week to expect an arrest soon.

    The family asked for an independent investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, but the Honduran government rejected it.

    "As we have stated since the assassination," Mr. Carrillo wrote, "the Honduran government lacks the veracity and political will to conduct a just, thorough and professional investigation."



    9)  Man Wrongfully Convicted of Murder Awaits His Exoneration, 52 Years Later

    A couple of years ago, Paul Gatling, a retired landscaper in Virginia, happened to see an article in a local newspaper about the Brooklyn district attorney's efforts to identify wrongful convictions.

    Mr. Gatling, then 79, had himself been wrongfully convicted in 1964 of murdering an artist in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. He spent nine years in prison for the crime until, with the help of the Legal Aid Society, his sentence was commuted by Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York's governor at the time. Even with the reduction in his sentence and his eventual parole, Mr. Gatling remained, officially, a convicted murderer.

    Intrigued by the possibility that he might finally be able to clear his name, Mr. Gatling called the lawyer who had handled his commutation and was, some 40 years later, still working for Legal Aid. The lawyer suggested that he write to the district attorney's office to ask if its new Conviction Review Unit would re-examine his case. Mr. Gatling did, and his request began an inquiry that led investigators into a tale of legal malfeasance, one that is to culminate on Monday in Mr. Gatling's formal exoneration.

    "I wanted to be done with all of this," Mr. Gatling, now 81, said in a telephone interview last week. "I was still angry about having to spend that time for something I didn't do."

    Mr. Gatling's exoneration will be the 20th time in the last two years that the Conviction Review Unit has helped to clear defendants found guilty in Brooklyn of crimes they did not commit. Charles J. Hynes began a similar effort as the district attorney in 2011, but when his successor, Ken Thompson took office in 2014, he renamed the unit and put his support squarely behind it. The review unit initially focused on cases connected to one detective, Louis Scarcella, whose alleged misconduct has called into question nearly 50 murder cases. But as news of the unit's work has spread, its reach has widened to include cases like Mr. Gatling's.

    Mr. Gatling's ordeal began on Oct. 15, 1963, when a man armed with a shotgun burst into the home of Lawrence Rothbort, an artist who lived on Bedford Avenue with his wife, Marlene, and their two children, a 6-year-old boy and an infant daughter. According to police reports and, later, testimony at trial, the man demanded money from Mr. Rothbort. When the artist refused, the gunman shot him in the chest.

    During the investigation, suspicion first fell on Mr. Gatling when one of the Rothborts' neighbors, a felon named Grady Reaves, informed the police that he had seen Mr. Gatling in the area just minutes after the shooting. When Mr. Gatling was interviewed by detectives in the 80th Precinct (which was later absorbed by another precinct), he told them that he had been paying his rent at the time — a fact that his landlord eventually confirmed. A few hours into the interview, Mr. Gatling's lawyer called the station house, but the detectives told him that he could not see his client until the questioning was complete, court papers say.

    That same evening, Mr. Gatling, who was 6-foot-1, was placed in a lineup with three notably shorter men. Mrs. Rothbort was called in to identify him, but did not pick him out, even though, court papers say, the detectives directed her to focus on "the tall one."

    A few nights later, Mrs. Rothbort went back to the station house as Mr. Gatling was again being interviewed. This time, after seeing him facing questions, she told detectives that he was the man who had killed her husband.

    Largely on the basis of this identification, Mr. Gatling's lawyers persuaded him to plead guilty — in the middle of his trial. After all, he faced the possibility of being sent to the electric chair. So Mr. Gatling pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.

    Within a week, however, he had asked the judge to withdraw his plea, but the petition was denied. Over the next few years, there were more petitions, all of them turned down. Finally, in 1973, Malvina Nathanson, a young Legal Aid lawyer, sent a report on Mr. Gatling's case to Governor Rockefeller. The next year, he commuted Mr. Gatling's sentence; he was eventually released on parole.

    Forty years later, when the Conviction Review Unit plunged into the Gatling case, most of the witnesses were dead. Investigators had to dig up case files from the city archives and track down copies of police reports on microfiche at 1 Police Plaza.

    They found that Mr. Gatling had been denied many of the legal protections that defendants take for granted these days — the presence of a lawyer during questioning, for example. Perhaps more important, they also found an alternate theory of the case that the jury never heard.

    It turned out that one of the Rothborts' neighbors had told the police that their marriage was "not a healthy situation" and that the couple often argued — sometimes violently in the middle of the night. Mrs. Rothbort, moreover, told detectives that she was having an affair with a musician who was living as a boarder in their home. When the boarder, Leon Tolbert, was interviewed, he explained to the police that he had recently heard Mrs. Rothbort tell her husband that she would kill him if he ever hit her again.

    Much of this information was not provided to the defense, and that was cause enough for the district attorney's office to request a reversal of Mr. Gatling's conviction. On Monday, he is expected to appear in court for the reversal with, among others, Ms. Nathanson, his lawyer.

    "It's restored my enthusiasm," Ms. Nathanson said last week. She added, struggling for words, "It's been a lot of years."



    10)  Doctor, Warned to Be Silent on Abortions, Files Civil Rights Complaint

    MAY 2, 2016


    A doctor who performs abortions at a hospital in Washington filed a federal civil rights complaint on Monday, charging that the hospital had violated the law by forbidding her, out of concerns for security, to speak publicly in defense of abortion and its role in health care.

    The doctor, Diane J. Horvath-Cosper, 37, an obstetrician and gynecologist, has in recent years emerged as a public advocate, urging abortion providers not to shrink before threats. Last December, her complaint says, officials of the MedStar Washington Hospital Center imposed what she described as a "gag order," but what the officials termed a sensible precaution against anti-abortion violence.

    At odds in the case are sharply conflicting visions of how best to protect abortion providers and patients. The dispute comes at a time when legal restrictions on the procedure are tightening, many clinics are besieged daily by hostile protesters and an extremist fringe has sometimes made murderous attacks.

    Dr. Horvath-Cosper is part of a national movement of physicians and other medical staff members who argue that silence about their work only feeds the drive to stigmatize and restrict abortion. Similar sentiments among some patients have led to a "Shout Your Abortion" campaign on social media.

    "The dialogue is dominated by those who have demonized this totally normal part of health care," Dr. Horvath-Cosper said in an interview.

    "I don't think the way to deal with bullies is to cower and pull back," she said.

    Still, some hospitals and clinics providing abortion services, and many physicians, especially in more conservative and rural regions, think it is safer to try to keep a low profile.

    "Abortion care is so highly stigmatized that providers have felt safer staying in the closet, and many institutions have also wanted their doctors to stay in the closet," said Dr. Nancy L. Stanwood, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Yale School of Medicine.

    "Each individual has to decide how he or she feels," said Dr. Stanwood, who is the chairwoman of Physicians for Reproductive Health, a national advocacy group that includes more than 3,000 doctors and provides media training to those who want to speak out on medical issues. "That is a personal decision based on privacy and risk."

    According to the legal complaint, hospital officials told Dr. Horvath-Cosper that they were worried about security after a self-described anti-abortion "warrior" attacked a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs in November, killing three people and wounding nine.

    In ordering Dr. Horvath-Cosper to end her advocacy, the medical director of the hospital, Dr. Gregory J. Argyros, said he did "not want to put a Kmart blue-light special on the fact that we provide abortions at MedStar," according to the complaint.

    Since then, hospital officials have ordered Dr. Horvath-Cosper to turn down several requests for interviews or articles or risk losing her job, she said in the complaint, which was filed with the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services.

    If the civil rights office finds that Dr. Horvath-Cosper's rights were violated, it can order the hospital to take corrective action or risk losing its federal funding.

    The hospital on Monday afternoon did not directly respond to the allegations, saying in a brief, emailed statement, "MedStar Washington Hospital Center is committed to providing family planning services for our community, and we do so in a respectful, private and safe environment."

    "We look forward to cooperating fully with the Office for Civil Rights," said the statement, which was issued by Donna L. Arbogast, the hospital's vice president for public affairs and marketing.

    Dr. Horvath-Cosper's legal case rests on a little-known aspect of the Church Amendment, which was adopted in 1973 after Roe v. Wade established abortion rights nationwide earlier that year. The bill is best known for offering protections to medical staff members who object to participating in abortions on religious or moral grounds.

    But the legislative history and final wording of the amendment show it was intended to be two-sided, said Gretchen Borchelt, the vice president for reproductive rights and health at the National Women's Law Center and a co-counsel in Dr. Horvath-Cosper's complaint.

    The law states that no entity receiving federal money may discriminate against any doctor "because of his religious beliefs or moral convictions respecting sterilization procedures or abortions." That means that doctors are protected from punishment for supporting abortion, just as they are protected if they oppose it and refuse to participate, according to the complaint.

    "If she can't speak out about abortion the way other doctors at the hospital do about what they work on, she is being treated differently and that is discrimination," Ms. Borchelt said.

    Dr. Horvath-Cosper finished her medical residency in obstetrics and gynecology in Minnesota in 2010, and eventually decided, she said, that she wanted to focus on abortion and contraception, and to train more doctors in this subspecialty.

    "There will always be someone to do C-sections at 3 in the morning," she said. "But there might not always be someone to perform abortions."

    She came to MedStar in 2014 on a two-year Family Planning Fellowship, which is offered by a national foundation that subsidizes doctors' salaries at selected hospitals as they pursue advanced training in reproductive medicine, including the development of teaching and speaking skills.

    Dr. Horvath-Cosper created a buzz last November when she wrote an article in The Washington Post that described what it was like to live in fear because of her profession.

    The Colorado shootings occurred on Nov. 27. On Dec. 4, she was called to meet with Dr. Argyros and other hospital officials who said she should stop her public advocacy and clear any media requests with the public affairs office.

    Since then, Dr. Horvath-Cosper said, she has forwarded several requests to be interviewed or write articles and in each case has been turned down.

    Her lawyer, Debra S. Katz, of the Washington firm Katz, Marshall & Banks, who is also co-counsel in the complaint, said she tried to negotiate an agreement with the hospital that would allow Dr. Horvath-Cosper to write about abortion without mentioning where she worked.

    Hospital officials responded that if she wished to speak about abortion, she should relinquish her fellowship and leave.

    Dr. Horvath-Cosper said that the MedStar center in Washington, while seeking to silence her, had not carried out many of the physical security measures at the clinic that are recommended by professional groups like the National Abortion Federation.



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

    MAY 3, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The ruling quickly generated a heated response in Italy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

    How does stress reshape the brain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

    MAY 4, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



    14) Detroit Teacher's Strike

    Detroit teachers strike against disaster capitalism

    By Glen Ford

    Black Agenda Report, May 4, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


    MAY 5, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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























































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