Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:












House committee votes to extend draft to women

By Courage to Resist. May 2, 2016

Sign a petition to abolish the draft

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

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

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

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

>>Read more here



    HEY, HEY


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LBJ Performed in Vietnam

Upcoming 'Hey, Hey, LBJ!' SF International Arts Schedule  
(Fort Mason, Southside Theater)
Friday May 27   7 pm
Sat May 28       9 pm
Sun May 29      2 pm
Friday June 3    9:30 pm
Sat June 4         6:30 pm
Sunday June 5  4:30 pm


David Kleinberg
(415) 527-7201 (mobile)  





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

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




Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser



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

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

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

Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had

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


Please send letters to:

Marquette Branch Prison

Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671

1960 US Hwy 41 South

Marquette, MI 49855

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

c/o Dorothy Pinkney

1940 Union St.

Benton Harbor, MI 49022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney

Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,

Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<

Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,

David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice

Sara Flounders – International Action Center


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

Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



TAKE ACTION: Mumia is sick

Date & Time: 

Thursday, March 24, 2016 - 18:00



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

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

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

Call, fax and email with the following demands: 

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

Tom Wolf, PA Governor 

Phone  717-787-2500

Fax 717-772-8284                                             

Email governor@pa.gov

John Wetzel, PA Department of Corrections Secretary

Phone:  717-728-2573717 787 2500

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Theresa DelBalso, SCI Mahanoy Prison Superintendent

Phone: 570-773-2158

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

Phone:  717-728-5309 x 5312

Email:  ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

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

Phone:  800-592-2974 x 5783

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

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

Thank you for keeping Mumia in your heart and mind,

Noelle Hanrahan

Director, Prison Radio


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







This message from:

Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

06 January 2016

Mumia Is Innocent!  Free Mumia!




Imam Jamil (H.Rap Brown) moved

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

Sign the Petition:

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

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

ASAP: The Forgotten Imam Project

P.O. Box 373

Four Oaks, NC 27524


Luqman Abdullah-ibn Al-Sidiq






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demand the Department of Corrections:

Stop the Retaliation Against Major Tillery.

Exonerate Major Tillery for the false charges of drug possession.

Remove the false misconduct from Major Tillery's record.

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

Provide decent medical care to Major Tillery and all prisoners!

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

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

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

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

For more information: www.Justice4MajorTillery.blogspot.com 

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

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

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the podcast or read the full transcript here


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

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

Chelsea Manning, Guardian OpEd

Feb 8, 2016

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

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

Read the complete op-ed here




When Drone Whistleblowers are Under Attack, 

What Do We Do?


 We honor Stephan, Michael, Brandon and Cian!

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

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


1.  Sign up on this support network:


2.  Sign this petition  NOW:


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

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


Statement of Support for Drone Whistleblowers

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

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

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

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


URGENT: Sign and Share NOW! Drone Whistleblower Protection Petition


Contacting your Government

- White House comment line: 202-456-1111

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

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

- Email your Senators and Representatives:


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

- Contact John Brennan, CIA Director: Go to

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

For more information on the 4 Drone Whistleblowers:



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



Code Pink Women for Peace: eastbaycodepink@gmail.com



Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

Sign the Petition:


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

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

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

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

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

Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,

James Clark
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




    Sign the Petition:


    Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:

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

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

    American Federation of Teachers

    Campaign for America's Future

    Courage Campaign

    Daily Kos

    Democracy for America


    Project Springboard

    RH Reality Check


    Student Debt Crisis

    The Nation

    Working Families



    Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

    Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

    Dear Supporters and Friends,

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

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

    My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

                              Lorenzo's wife,

                               Tazza Salvatto

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

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

    Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                DF 1036

                SCI Mahanoy

                301 Morea Rd.

                Frackville, PA 17932

     Email: Through JPay using the code:

                  Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                  Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                  Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

    Have a wonderful day!

    - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

    Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                DF 1036

                SCI Mahanoy

                301 Morea Rd.

                Frackville, PA 17932

     Email: Through JPay using the code:

                  Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                  Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com













    1)  Benjamin Netanyahu Seeks Ultranationalists for Coalition in Israel

    MAY 18, 2016


    JERUSALEM — In a sharp turnaround, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought on Wednesday to bring the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party into his governing coalition by offering to name its leader, Avigdor Lieberman, defense minister, according to politicians across Israel's political map.

    An Israeli government official confirmed that Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Lieberman had met and formed negotiating teams with the aim of reaching a coalition deal "in the coming days."

    Just hours before meeting Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Netanyahu seemed to have been closing in on a coalition agreement with Isaac Herzog, the leader of the center-left Zionist Union and the head of the opposition in the Knesset, or Israeli parliament. After days of intense back-room negotiations, Mr. Herzog, whose party advocates accommodation with the Palestinians, had been expected to serve as foreign minister, an appointment that was partly intended to ease international pressure on Israel.

    By contrast, Mr. Lieberman, 57, foreign minister in two previous governments led by Mr. Netanyahu, is known as a blunt-talking, polarizing figure. He demands the death penalty for Palestinians convicted of acts of terrorism; has called in the past for the toppling of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza; and once suggested that Israel could bomb the Aswan Dam in any future military confrontation with Egypt. Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979.

    Benny Begin, a legislator from Mr. Netanyahu's conservative Likud party, told Israel's Channel 2 television that the idea of Mr. Lieberman's serving as defense minister was "delusional." He said, "This step expresses irresponsibility towards the security establishment and towards all the citizens of Israel."

    Mr. Netanyahu has been seeking to stabilize and strengthen his governing coalition, which is dominated by right-wing and religious parties, because it currently holds a majority of only one in the 120-seat Knesset. The addition of Yisrael Beiteinu would give Mr. Netanyahu's coalition 67 seats.

    The Israeli government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the delicate coalition negotiations publicly, asserted that Mr. Lieberman's joining the government could advance prospects for peace with the Palestinians.

    The official noted that Mr. Lieberman, who immigrated to Israel from the Soviet Union in the 1970s and lives in a West Bank settlement, had voiced support for a Palestinian state and that a right-wing government would have more credibility with the Israeli public to take difficult steps for peace without fear of compromising Israel's security. He noted that it was Menachem Begin, the former Likud leader (and father of the current legislator) who made peace with Egypt in the 1970s.

    But Mr. Lieberman has been scathing in his criticism of President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. He has called for the ouster of Mr. Abbas and denounced his campaign for upgraded Palestinian status at the United Nations as "diplomatic terrorism." He has also called for reducing Israel's Arab population by transferring Arab areas of Israel to Palestinian control.

    If he becomes defense minister, Mr. Lieberman will replace Moshe Yaalon, a Likud politician and former chief of staff of the Israeli military.

    Mr. Netanyahu's coalition zigzag has left Mr. Herzog's Zionist Union, an alliance of the Labor Party and Tzipi Livni's centrist Hatnua, in turmoil. A leading Labor rival, Shelly Yacimovich, who has been vocal in her opposition to joining the Netanyahu coalition, accused Mr. Herzog of shaming the party by pursuing a deal.

    Mr. Herzog said he had ceased negotiating with Mr. Netanyahu late Tuesday night after reaching a dead end. He added that Ms. Yacimovich, by openly opposing an accord, should be held responsible for Mr. Lieberman's becoming defense minister.

    Finding himself on the defensive, Mr. Herzog held two news conferences on Wednesday. In the second, he rebuffed calls in his party to resign as Labor leader.

    Mr. Lieberman, who was acquitted in a longstanding corruption case in 2013, has been an ally and a fierce critic of Mr. Netanyahu.

    Their parties ran together in the 2013 elections but separately in 2015. Yisrael Beiteinu shrank to six seats in the Knesset from a high of 15 in 2009. At the height of coalition talks a year ago, Mr. Lieberman shocked the political establishment by announcing that he would not join the new government, saying he was choosing principles over ministerial portfolios.

    The change came suddenly on Wednesday when Mr. Lieberman, speaking to reporters at noon, challenged Mr. Netanyahu to make him a serious offer to join the coalition. "The prime minister knows my phone numbers," he said.

    The prime minister and Mr. Lieberman met at 4 p.m.



    2)  French Parliament Votes to Extend State of Emergency

    MAY 19, 2016


    PARIS — The French Parliament approved a new two-month extension of the state of emergency on Thursday that was initially declared in the aftermath of the Nov. 13 attacks in and around Paris.

    The extension will cover two major sporting events taking place this summer in France — the Euro 2016 soccer tournament and the Tour de France cycling race. The events have prompted fear of additional terrorist attacks in a country still on high alert.

    Forty-six lawmakers in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, voted in favor of the new extension, with 20 against it. The Senate, the upper house of Parliament, already approved the extension on May 10.

    Patrick Calvar, the director of France's domestic intelligence agency, told a parliamentary committee on that same day that the Islamic State was "planning new attacks" and that the country could be assaulted by multiple bombings in crowded areas to create panic. France is "clearly the most threatened country," Mr. Calvar said, pointing to threats from the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

    The French authorities are particularly worried about security at the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, which runs from June 10 to July 10, and at the Tour de France, from July 2 to July 24.

    Both are expected to draw large crowds, especially in cities hosting the soccer tournament, which will provide so-called fan zones where hundreds of spectators can gather to watch matches on large screens.

    Speaking earlier on Thursday on RTL radio, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that the tournament would not be canceled, despite the security concerns, and that the fan zones would be adequately protected.

    The state of emergency had already been extended twice, for three-month periods, and was scheduled to end on May 26. The new extension is expected to be the last.

    President François Hollande declared the state of emergency on Nov. 14, 2015, a day after coordinated teams of Islamic State militants killed 130 people and wounded more than 400 at a concert hall and in cafes and restaurants in central Paris, and outside a soccer stadium in St.-Denis, north of the capital.

    parliamentary report published on Tuesday noted that while the state of emergency had proved "very useful" in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, several of its measures "no longer present the same interest today."

    The state of emergency had enabled the authorities to put people under house arrest and to carry out police raids without the prior authorization of a judge. Sixty-nine people are currently under house arrest, the report said, and more than 3,500 raids have been carried out since Nov. 14.

    But the vast majority of those raids were carried out in the first three months of the state of emergency, the report said.

    The government, acknowledging a diminished need for those kinds of raids, left that option out of the new extension. Instead, it will focus on other law-enforcement powers granted by the state of emergency to local authorities. Those include banning demonstrations and forbidding the access and movement of people and vehicles in specific areas at specific times.

    "The terrorist threat remains at a high level," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told lawmakers before the vote on Thursday. "France, like the European Union, represents a target."



    3)  Online School Enriches Affiliated Companies if Not Its Students

    "For every 100 students who graduate on time, 80 do not."

    MAY 18, 2016




    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, an online charter school based here, graduated 2,371 students last spring. At the commencement ceremony, a student speaker triumphantly told her classmates that the group was "the single-largest graduating high school class in the nation."

    What she did not say was this: Despite the huge number of graduates — this year, the school is on track to graduate 2,300 — more students drop out of the Electronic Classroom or fail to finish high school within four years than at any other school in the country, according to federal data. For every 100 students who graduate on time, 80 do not.

    Even as the national on-time graduation rate has hit a record high of 82 percent, publicly funded online schools like the Electronic Classroom have become the new dropout factories.

    These schools take on students with unorthodox needs — like serious medical problems or experiences with bullying — that traditional districts may find difficult to meet. But with no physical classrooms and high pupil-to-teacher ratios, they cannot provide support in person.

    "If you're disconnected or struggling or you haven't done well in school before, it's going to be tough to succeed in this environment," said Robert Balfanz, the director of the Everyone Graduates Center, a nonprofit research and advocacy group in Baltimore.

    Virtual schools have experienced explosive growth nationwide in recent years, financed mostly by state money. But according to a reportreleased on Tuesday by America's Promise Alliance, a consortium of education advocacy groups, the average graduation rate at online schools is 40 percent.

    Few states have as many students in e-schools as Ohio. Online charter schools here are educating one out of every 26 high school students, yet their graduation rates are worse than those in the state's most impoverished cities, including Cleveland and Youngstown.

    With 17,000 pupils, most in high school, the Electronic Classroom is the largest online school in the state. Students and teachers work from home on computers, communicating by email or on the school's web platform at distances that can be hundreds of miles apart.

    In 2014, the school's graduation rate did not even reach 39 percent. Because of this poor record, as well as concerns about student performance on standardized tests, the school is now under "corrective action" by a state regulator, which is determining its next steps.

    But while some students may not have found success at the school, the Electronic Classroom has richly rewarded private companies affiliated with its founder, William Lager, a software executive.

    When students enroll in the Electronic Classroom or in other online charters, a proportion of the state money allotted for each pupil is redirected from traditional school districts to the cyberschools. At the Electronic Classroom, which Mr. Lager founded in 2000, the money has been used to help enrich for-profit companies that he leads. Those companies provide school services, including instructional materials and public relations.

    For example, in the 2014 fiscal year, the last year for which federal tax filings were available, the school paid the companies associated with Mr. Lager nearly $23 million, or about one-fifth of the nearly $115 million in government funds it took in.

    Critics say the companies associated with Mr. Lager have not delivered much value. "I don't begrudge people making money if they really can build a better mousetrap," said Stephen Dyer, a former Ohio state legislator and the education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio, a Columbus think tank that is sharply critical of online charter schools.

    "It's clear that Mr. Lager has not done a service over all to kids, and certainly not appreciably better than even the most struggling school districts in the state," Mr. Dyer added. "But he's becoming incredibly wealthy doing a very mediocre job for kids."

    Mr. Lager declined requests for an interview. In an emailed statement on Tuesday, he did not respond to questions about his affiliated companies but said the Electronic Classroom's graduation rate did not accurately measure the school's performance.

    In the statement, he said many students arrived at the school already off-track and have trouble making up the course credits in time to graduate.

    "Holding a school accountable for such students is like charging a relief pitcher with a loss when they enter a game three runs behind and wiping out the record of the starting pitcher," his statement said.

    The statement added that the school "should be judged based on an accountability system that successfully controls for the academic effects of demographic factors such as poverty, special needs and mobility."

    In an interview, Rick Teeters, the superintendent of the Electronic Classroom, said many of the students were older than was typical for their grade, while others faced serious life challenges, including pregnancy or poverty.

    Mr. Lager is correct in noting that the student body at the Electronic Classroom is highly mobile; last year more than half the school's students enrolled for less than the full school year. And of those who dropped out of high school, half were forced to withdraw after being reported truant.

    Also, according to state data, 19 percent of the students have disabilities, higher than the state average.

    But the proportion of students who come from low-income families — just under 72 percent — is lower than in Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton. Close to three-quarters of the school's students are white.

    In a self-published book in 2002, "The Kids That ECOT Taught," Mr. Lager wrote that "the dropout rate is the most critical issue facing our public education system but it is only the first of many problems that can be solved by e-learning."

    Through the Electronic Classroom, he wrote, he planned to make public education more efficient and effective.

    He added, "No business could suffer results that any school in Columbus Public delivers and not be driven out of business."

    Peggy Lehner, a Republican state senator who sponsored a charter school reform bill that passed the legislature last fall, said the problem was the school, not the students.

    "When you take on a difficult student, you're basically saying, 'We feel that our model can help this child be successful,' " she said. "And if you can't help them be successful, at some point you have to say your model isn't working, and if your model is not working, perhaps public dollars shouldn't be going to pay for it."

    Some of those public dollars are being paid to IQ Innovations and Altair Learning Management, companies associated with Mr. Lager. Altair has had a contract with the school since 2000, a school spokesman, Neil Clark, said. According to federal filings, it received $4.2 million in 2014. Mr. Lager is the company's chief executive.

    Mr. Clark said Altair provided "a variety of services," including a program of instruction, strategic planning, public relations, financial reporting and budgeting.

    In filings with the Ohio secretary of state, Mr. Lager is listed as a registered agent for IQ Innovations; in campaign finance records, he was listed as the company's chief executive as recently as 2015. IQ Innovations received $18.7 million from the school in 2014.

    Mr. Clark said IQ Innovations had provided the school with grading software and digital curriculum materials since 2008.

    He said that neither Altair nor IQ Innovations was required to go through a competitive bidding process.

    At the school's headquarters, in a former mall set at the back of a parking lot here, attendance clerks sit in a windowless room, tracking how often students log in to the network. Those who do not log in for 30 days are reported as truant.

    Guidance counselors carry caseloads of up to 500 students each, and the schoolwide pupil-teacher ratio is 30 to one.

    For some students, the Electronic Classroom can provide a release valve from the pressures or frustrations of a traditional school. Several students assembled by the school to talk to a reporter said they had experienced bullying or boredom before enrolling.

    "Without the bullying, I was able to focus," said Sydney DeBerry, 20, who left a private school to enroll in the Electronic Classroom, which she graduated from in 2014. "That was a big distraction, not only to my work but to my individuality."

    Students who made it to graduation said self-motivation was crucial. "Contrary to popular opinion, you cannot just log on once a week and get by and still pass your classes," said Dianna Norwood, 19, who graduated last year and is now a student at Ohio State University.

    But other students complained that the school could make it difficult to succeed.

    Alliyah Graham, 19, said she had sought out the Electronic Classroom during her junior year because she felt isolated as one of a few African-American girls at a mostly white public school in a Cincinnati suburb.

    It took three weeks for the Electronic Classroom to enter her in its system, she said. Then it assigned her to classes she had already passed at her previous school. When she ran into technical problems, she said, "I really just had to wing it."

    Ms. Graham, who hopes to pursue a career in medicine, has also been disappointed by the quality of assignments. She showed a reporter a digital work sheet for a senior English class, in which students were asked to read a passage and then fill in boxes, circles and trapezoids, noting the "main idea," a "picture/drawing," or "questions you have."

    "I feel like I did this kind of work in middle school," Ms. Graham said.

    When she turns in assignments, she said, feedback from teachers is minimal. "Good job!" they write. "Keep going!"

    She hopes to graduate this spring.

    Her cousin, Makyla Woods, 19, moved to Cincinnati from Georgia last year, as a senior, to live with her father. Since Ms. Graham was already enrolled in the Electronic Classroom, Ms. Woods decided to give it a try.

    But she soon moved out from her father's apartment, took a job at McDonald's and stopped doing assignments. "I just got lazy doing work on the computer," she said.



    4) Michigan Corporations to Pay $0 in Taxes This Year, Despite Crises in Flint and Detroit

    Under Michigan's tax code, businesses will "effectively contribute nothing to the state coffers" this year—while Flint residents pay for poison water and lawmakers defund Detroit schools

    Thursday, May 19, 2016byCommon Dreams


    While residents of beleaguered Flint face rate hikes for the city's lead-poisoned water and Detroit sees teachers staging sickouts after lawmakers threatened to withhold their full salaries, the state treasury announced this week that Michigan businesses are to effectively pay nothing in taxes this year.

    In fact, Michigan is projected to give corporations a net refund—even while it faces a budget shortfall of $460 million.

    "Officials are projecting a net loss of $99 million in revenue from the state's principal business taxes," reported Detroit News, as corporations "effectively contribute nothing to the state coffers in 2016."

    This shortfall "should be a wake-up call for Lansing Republicans hell-bent on smothering government with cuts and miserly policy—and it shouldn't be an excuse for lawmakers to withhold necessary help from the (mostly poor, mostly black) City of Flint and Detroit Public Schools," argued the editorial board of the Detroit Free Press.

    The cause of the budget shortfall is a confluence of recent tax code rewrites: automakers and other large companies have continued to take advantage of enormous tax credits enacted after the Great Recession in an attempt to keep jobs in the state, while under Republican Gov. Rick Snyder the state's Corporate Income Tax was rewritten in 2011 to cut business taxes to a flat 6% rate at the same time that it increased personal income taxes and the sales tax. (Policy experts have previously argued that this change not only unfairly burdened individual taxpayers but also failed to instigate the job growth it was intended to.)

    Corporate tax credits will drain $1.03 billion from the state this year, reports Detroit News, while revenue from the Corporate Income Tax is projected to only total $932 million. The state treasury indicated that a 20-percent drop in annual business revenue was to blame for the nearly $1 billion net loss in corporate tax income.

    Meanwhile, personal income taxes are expected to bring in about $9.4 billion, sales tax about $7 billion, and $950 million and $850 million are expected to be collected from the so-called "sin taxes" on alcohol and the state lottery.

    "Fuel taxes and registration fees are also set to increase next year as part of a new road funding plan that critics say does not go far enough to reverse deteriorating conditions," Detroit News writes.

    "It's a real problem when people are footing the entire bill and still not getting good services," Democratic State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. told the local news outlet. 

    "We should be frustrated. We should be angry."

    The Detroit Free Press argues that state lawmakers actually have the means fix the budget shortfall—they just don't want to:

    Here's the final irony: The state's rainy day fund contains sufficient dollars to plug this budget hole. But we're pessimistic.

    Some House Republicans seemingly believe they owe nothing to either Flint's 100,000 residents, or Detroit's 47,000 students. We fear the looming shortfall will provide them political cover to shirk their obligation to those Michiganders.

    But here, political cover is analogous to cowardice. And the kind of craven policy-making that will do real harm to some of the state's most vulnerable citizens. There's no excuse for that.

    Indeed, local news outlet MLive points out that state lawmakers have already indicated that the budget hole may mean that Snyder's proposal to allocate $195 million to help Flint cope with its water crisis is at risk.

    "With big cuts needed," MLive reported, state budget director John Roberts "said everything was on the table."

    "I would say right now from our end everything's on the table. We're going to look at the Flint commitments very seriously," Roberts said.



    5)  San Francisco Forces Out Police Chief After Officer Kills Black Woman

    MAY 19, 2016




    SAN FRANCISCO — Police Chief Gregory P. Suhr was forced out on Thursday after a fatal shooting of a black woman by a police officer, the third killing since December involving the police force, which is under federal investigation because of complaints of racial bias.

    Mayor Edwin M. Lee said he had asked for Chief Suhr's resignation after learning of the shooting.

    "These officer-involved shootings, justified or not, have forced our city to open its eyes to questions of when and how police use lethal force," the mayor said in the statement.

    Chief Suhr had made "meaningful" reforms of the police force, the mayor said, "but it hasn't been fast enough."

    "That's why I have asked Chief Suhr for his resignation," the mayor said. Efforts to contact Chief Suhr by calling and emailing representatives of the Police Department were unsuccessful.

    Disclosures that some police officers sent racist text messages, and the shootings of a black man in December and a Latino man in April, shook the city and led to calls for Chief Suhr's removal. Despite the turmoil, Chief Suhr had retained the support of many influential African-Americans in San Francisco, including a former mayor, Willie L. Brown Jr., and the head of the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., the Rev. Amos C. Brown.

    Amos Brown, who over the past year advised the police chief on rooting out bias in the force, said he regretted Chief Suhr's firing.

    "This is a good, compassionate man who has been scapegoated," he said.

    "He was trying to change the culture of the police force," he said. "I still feel that we were on our way under his leadership to do good things with that department."

    But he also said he was happy the mayor named Deputy Chief Toney Chaplin as interim chief, calling him someone with "character, competency and the chemistry and courage to continue what we have started."

    Mr. Chaplin, a 26-year-veteran of the police force, is black. Chief Suhr is white.

    The shooting on Thursday occurred in Bayview, the neighborhood where Mario Woods, a black man armed with a knife, was fatally shot by the police in December.

    The Associated Press said a sergeant shot and killed a 27-year-old woman on Thursday as the sergeant and another officer were trying to pull her out of a stolen car she had crashed into a parked truck.

    San Francisco's public defender, Jeff Adachi, said he was "deeply disturbed" by the shooting and repeated a call for the California attorney general's office to open a civil rights investigation into the San Francisco Police Department.

    "It is unacceptable for police encounters with unarmed citizens to end in bullet wounds and body bags," Mr. Adachi said in a statement.

    Chief Suhr's departure, which comes days after he pledged not to resign, is the latest in a series of exits of big-city police chiefs who have come under intense pressure during the past year after public anger over the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police officers.

    Last July, Baltimore's police commissioner, Anthony W. Batts, was fired when parts of the city erupted in rioting after video emerged of officers arresting an African-American man who later died of an injury sustained in police custody.

    In Chicago, Garry F. McCarthy, the police superintendent, was dismissed in December after police video was released to the public showing an officer shooting a black teenager 16 times.

    Chief Suhr, 57, survived calls for his own resignation last year after mobile phone video showed police officers fatally shooting Mr. Woods, 26. The police said Mr. Woods had been armed with a knife and had refused to follow police orders. Officers fired at Mr. Woods 15 times, and Chief Suhr defended the shooting, angering many African-American residents.

    After that shooting and the discovery that a number of police officers had been sending racist and homophobic text messages to one another, demonstrators called for Chief Suhr's removal. In response to the scandal, he announced that all officers on the 2,000-member force would be required to complete anti-bias training, and he said the department would take steps to curb the use of force.

    Residents of the city's shrinking African-American community said the police had racially profiled them for years, arresting blacks for petty crimes like loitering and smoking marijuana that were ignored in white neighborhoods.

    As protests continued, Mr. Lee asked the Justice Department to investigate the force, and a federal inquiry was announced in January. Other cities have made similar requests in the past, including Washington and Philadelphia, when their police departments came under criticism.



    6)  I Quit,' Handcuffed Man Says in Video of Fatal Encounter With Georgia Police

    WASHINGTON — As Chase Sherman was returning home with his parents and fiancée from his brother's wedding in November, he began to hallucinate. Apparently reacting to synthetic marijuana he had taken days earlier, he bit his girlfriend and tried to jump out of the back seat of the car as the family drove through Georgia toward Florida.

    About an hour outside Atlanta, at mile marker 55 on Interstate 85, his fiancée pulled over the car and his mother called the police, hoping they would help calm Mr. Sherman, 32. Less than a half-hour later, Mr. Sherman, who worked at a family-owned parasailing business on the Gulf Coast, was dead.

    He was stunned numerous times with Taser guns carried by two sheriff's deputies, while handcuffed in the back seat of a rental car.

    Like other recent episodes involving the police, this one was captured on video, in this case by body cameras worn by the sheriff's deputies as they tried to subdue Mr. Sherman. Prosecutors in Coweta County, Ga., where the intervention took place, declined to release the video from the two cameras, despite requests from Mr. Sherman's family and the news media.

    The video, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, is similar to ones that recorded fatal incidents involving law enforcement officers in ChicagoNorth Charleston, S.C.; and Staten Island. Each one depicts in stark terms a response from officers that resulted in a death. In this instance, there are no racial overtones — both the Sherman parents and the deputy sheriffs are white.

    The footage from Georgia shows the sheriff's deputies struggling to subdue Mr. Sherman as he tried to get out of the car, stunning him repeatedly with their Taser guns while he was handcuffed, and reacting frantically after realizing he was dead.

    Mr. Sherman's death was a homicide due to "an altercation with law enforcement with several trigger pulls of an electronic control device," his death certificate, issued in Georgia, says. The certificate said that he had been shoved to the floor of the car and that his torso was compressed "by the body weight of another individual."

    "How can they do this when they know someone is having a breakdown?" said L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer for the Sherman family. "Once they started shocking him, how can someone comply when they're being electrocuted over and over again?"

    Kevin and Mary Ann Sherman, Chase Sherman's parents, said they were not sure what had caused their son's odd behavior. They said they first became concerned when he began acting erratically while they were in the Dominican Republic for the wedding. Chase told his mother that he had taken synthetic marijuana the day before they traveled there.

    "He was scared when we were down there," Ms. Sherman said. "He said he heard different bad things were happening in different countries. He would see a couple of things that weren't there. He thought people were watching him, and he didn't want to go anywhere without his mom and dad or brother."

    But his parents said that he had seemed fine on the flight back to Atlanta, where they were to change planes and continue their journey home to Destin, Fla. Then, as they waited at the Atlanta airport, Mr. Sherman grew agitated. The family decided it would be better to drive the rest of the way, so they rented a car.

    Not long into the drive, Mr. Sherman began trying to jump out of the car.

    "I couldn't keep him in the car — he didn't know where he was and was disoriented," Kevin Sherman said. "I couldn't keep him in the car by myself, so we needed to call for medical assistance."

    A body camera worn by one of the deputies started recording while en route to assist the Shermans. By the time he reached their car, parked on the shoulder of the highway, another deputy was already grappling with Mr. Sherman, who was handcuffed, in the car's back seat. On the video, Mr. Sherman seems alternately calm and desperate to get out of the car.

    To try to stop him, one of the deputies took out a Taser gun and pointed it at him, telling him to stop moving. Mr. Sherman grabbed the Taser gun, and a fight for it ensued.

    With Mr. Sherman's mother and fiancée, Patti Galloway, watching from the front of the car, the deputy shot him several times with the Taser, and the second deputy punched him in the head.

    The deputies then told the two women to get out of the car, and Ms. Sherman pointed her finger at the two men, pleading with them not to stun her son.

    Mr. Sherman was stunned again, and then he appeared to wrestle away control of the Taser despite still being handcuffed.

    Moments later, an emergency medical technician had arrived at the scene, and he tried to help subdue Mr. Sherman.

    "O.K. I'm dead, I'm dead," Mr. Sherman said as he was shoved to the ground and wedged between the front and back seats. "I quit, I quit," he can be heard saying.

    He could be heard making calls of anguish.

    "I got all the weight of the world on him now," the medical technician can be heard saying as he pushed down on Mr. Sherman's body.

    Mr. Sherman was shocked again.

    Suddenly realizing that Mr. Sherman was not breathing, the deputy sheriffs and the medical technician pulled him out of the car and began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation while his parents and Ms. Galloway watched. The lawyer, Mr. Stewart, said, "There was no way for him to resist."

    "For four minutes and 10 seconds after he said 'I quit,' they still tased him and kept him on the ground," he added. "That's torture, and they killed him."

    Mr. Sherman's death was initially investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which made the evidence it collected available to the district attorney of Coweta County, Peter J. Skandalakis.

    Mr. Stewart said the prosecutor's office told him this week that the deputies had not been suspended and were still working.



    7)  'America Was Never Great' Hat Leads to Death Threats

    A Staten Island woman who supports Senator Bernie Sanders said she received death threats after photos of her wearing a cap with the message "America Was Never Great" were posted widely on social media.

    The woman, Krystal Lake, 22, said Thursday that she had ordered the custom-made hat online with the phrase, a play on the slogan "Make America Great Again," popularized by the campaign of Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

    Ms. Lake said she had gotten tired of hearing Mr. Trump's slogan from his supporters and thought America "was never great." She said that Mr. Trump's slogan did not make room for bigger aspirations beyond the past and that he was dismissive of groups that did not fit his ideal demographic.

    Ms. Lake said the hat arrived on Saturday, and she wore it the next day to work at the Home Depot on Forest Avenue on Staten Island.

    She surmised that a photo of her wearing the hat had been taken by a customer. But she did not specifically see anyone snap a picture and heard no complaints from customers, co-workers or managers, describing Sunday as "just a regular day."

    That sense of normalcy was shattered on Wednesday, however. At first, she said, she was unaware of how much attention she was getting. But in short order, Ms. Lake said, she was bombarded with negative comments, including death threats, on social media.

    "They were actually threatening to kill me over a hat," she said on Thursday. "I couldn't believe it. I was calling my best friend and I was like, 'How is this happening? It's just a hat.' "

    Ms. Lake said she did not take the threats seriously, attributing them to Internet trolls.

    "I think I'm hitting them with their own medicine," she said of Trump supporters. "My whole thing was, I like being different."

    The angry reactions caught the attention of news agencies, including The Staten Island Advance. A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign did not respond to an email on Thursday night.

    Some people even called Home Depot to complain, she said. So many calls came in that workers stopped answering the phone. Ms. Lake said that she called in sick on Thursday and that a manager had contacted her to ask about her well-being.

    But, she said, she expected to be fired from her job, which she has held for nearly two years.

    In a statement, a Home Depot spokesman, Stephen Holmes, did not directly address Ms. Lake's job status but said that the company did not allow employees to wear political buttons, caps or T-shirts, regardless of the party affiliation or candidate. He said any employee's refusal to follow company policies could lead to termination.

    Mr. Holmes said that the company respected "the personal opinions and beliefs held by our associates and our customers," but that the store was not an appropriate place for workers "to promote or display personal opinions, beliefs, political and religious affiliations or any type of proselytizing."

    Ms. Lake said she did hear from others who spoke in her defense.

    She said she was set to graduate in two weeks with a degree in media studies from the College of Staten Island and wanted to pursue a career in music, radio, social media or journalism. She has already started looking for jobs in those fields.

    As for the custom-made cap, Ms. Lake said she had ordered only one but planned to buy many more.



    8)  Unemployed Detroit Residents Are Trapped by a Digital Divide

    MAY 22, 2016




    DETROIT — In downtown Detroit, start-ups and luxury retailers are opening up and new office buildings are being built as the city works to recover from its deep economic problems.

    Six miles to the north, in the neighborhood of Hope Village, residents like Eric Hill are trying to participate in that progress but are running into hurdles. His difficulties were apparent on a recent Tuesday when he crowded into the public library to use the computers to look for a new job. With no Internet service at home or on his mobile phone, Mr. Hill had few options to search work listings or file online job applications after losing his stocking job at a pharmacy five months ago.

    "Once I leave, I worry that I'm missing an email, an opportunity," Mr. Hill, 42, said while using a library computer for a free one-hour session online. He cannot afford broadband, he added; his money goes to rent, food and transportation.

    As one of the country's most troubled cities tries to get back on its feet, a lack of Internet connectivity is keeping large segments of its population from even getting a fighting chance.

    Detroit has the worst rate of Internet access of any big American city, with four in 10 of its 689,000 residents lacking broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission. While difficulties connecting to the Internet are well known in rural areas, Detroit is becoming a case study in how the digital divide in an urban setting can make or break a recovery.

    The deficiency of Internet access in Detroit is particularly glaring given that broadband is now considered as basic as having electricity and water. Last year, the F.C.C. defined high-speed Internet as a public utility and made connecting all American homes to the web a priority. Yet many Detroit residents cannot pay for the service or a computer to go online, or for mobile data plans, which enable 24-hour Internet access anywhere over smartphones.

    "I was in pain visiting Detroit, seeing how so many pockets aren't part of the opportunity of broadband and are falling behind," said Mignon L. Clyburn, an F.C.C. commissioner who visited the city last October.

    Detroit's unemployment rate declined to 11 percent in February from 13 percent last year and from 19 percent that same month in 2013, according to Michigan's labor statistics office. But in neighborhoods like the 100 blocks that make up Hope Village, unemployment is more than double the city average, hovering around 40 percent in 2013, according to the most recent data from the Census Bureau.

    Those areas of Detroit are being left out for many reasons, including low education rates, poor transportation and fewer entry-level jobs. But the lack of Internet access, city officials and economists say, is also a crucial — and underappreciated — factor. The consequences appear in the daily grind of finding connectivity, with people unable to apply for jobs online, research new opportunities, connect with health insurance, get college financial aid or do homework.

    "It's like fighting without a sword," said Deborah Fisher, director of the Hope Village Initiative, a nonprofit effort to improve social services in the neighborhood. "Broadband access is a challenge and a major factor in economic opportunity and employment here."

    Julie Rice, a Hope Village resident for the last seven years, has found having limited web access a major obstacle in her search for full-time employment after losing her retail management job more than two years ago. With a part-time gig at a furniture store paying $10.88 an hour, Ms. Rice cannot afford a service to connect to the web, which can cost more than $70 a month.

    So Ms. Rice has made Hope Village's public library, Parkman, her career center. She regularly comes on the five days the library is open to search retail openings, arrange interviews and take employment tests. The library typically extends her time online over the one-hour session limit. Even so, during a recent online exam for a store manager job at Ann Taylor, she ran out of time and got locked out of the test.

    Ms. Rice, 57, is also applying for a small-business grant to open a retail gallery. But the process has taken several months because she has to wait until library hours to watch informational videos, work on the online application and sign up for networking events. She could do some tasks on her old Samsung Galaxy smartphone, but she said it was too difficult to file applications on a small screen.

    "I've come to believe Internet is a human right," she said. "It's clearly a huge disadvantage if you don't have it."

    Every day it becomes harder to find opportunities in Detroit without using the web.

    Applications for Detroit's summer jobs program for youth and young adults are taken only online. Most listings on Michigan's biggest private and public jobs site require email, uploads of résumés and online tests. College financial aid, unemployment benefits and public food assistance programs have shifted to online systems as fewer government offices offer in-person or phone services.

    "All basic research for jobs and the forms we use to apply for jobs is online," said Jed Howbert, the executive director for jobs and economic development in Detroit's mayoral office. "Lack of broadband access is one of several obstacles to employment that we are systematically trying to take down."

    In Hope Village, half of the 5,700 residents live in poverty. Many are not getting basic digital literacy skills or access to educational resources for entry-level jobs, much less the growing number of jobs that require more tech skills and vocational certificates.

    That skills gap risks leaving some people even further behind. Sean Pearson, a Hope Village resident, has been looking for new work for months that is better than his job filling produce boxes for $8.50 an hour. But many of those jobs require knowledge of database software, online fulfillment and sales systems, and payroll applications, with which he has little experience.

    And more than a dozen times, he has gone to stores and asked to fill out paper applications, only to be told to apply online.

    "I can't come tomorrow so I'll start searching again in a couple days," said Mr. Pearson, 31, during a recent one-hour computer session at the library.

    Efforts are underway by nonprofits and the city to bring free Wi-Fi to neighborhoods. One nonprofit, Focus: HOPE, had a federal grant that brought free wireless Internet to Hope Village until the money dried up recently.

    At least one small free network continues on the neighborhood's outskirts. And the nonprofit Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation now regularly sends out a recreational vehicle equipped with Wi-Fi and computers to neighborhoods, including Hope Village.

    Another effort by the Detroit Community Technology Project has helped bring free wireless hot spots to seven neighborhoods and is trying to reach more places. But being able to get online is only the first hurdle. People require training on how to use technology, and they need computers or other devices.

    "You can't just provide access and say you're done," said Diana J. Nucera, director of the community technology project.

    Hope Village will have to wait for more free hot spots. With so many areas in need of broadband service, there is not enough funding for the neighborhood to get them.



    9)  Police Officer Is Acquitted of All Charges in Freddie Gray Case

    "'If you're going to go back and charge every police officer whose arrest was determined to be illegal with assault, or every search that's deemed to be absent probable cause, you're going to indict the entire police force,' said Warren Brown, a defense lawyer who has been watching the case."

    MAY 23, 2016



    BALTIMORE — A police officer was acquitted of all charges on Monday in the arrest of Freddie Gray, a black man who later died of injuries sustained in police custody. The verdict is likely to renew debate over whether anyone will be held responsible for Mr. Gray's death.

    The officer, Edward M. Nero, sat with a straight back and stared forward as Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams, who was the sole decider in the case, read his decision in the noiseless cavern of Courtroom 234.

    Officer Nero, who was implicated not in the death of Mr. Gray but in the opening moments of his arrest, was found not guilty of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct and of reckless endangerment.

    "The verdict on each count," said Judge Williams, concluding his reading after about 30 minutes, "is not guilty."

    Officer Nero stood and hugged his lawyers as supporters pressed forward to congratulate him. He wiped away tears and, at one point, embraced Officer Garrett E. Miller, who is also charged in connection with the arrest of Mr. Gray.

    The verdict, the first in any of the six officers implicated, comes a little more than a year after Mr. Gray died in April 2015 of a functionally severed spinal cord that he sustained while in police custody. The first trial, against Officer William G. Porter, ended with a mistrial in December. His death embroiled parts of Baltimore, which has a history of tension between the police and its residents, in violent protest and became an inexorable piece of the nation's wrenching discussion of the use of force by officers, particularly against minorities.

    While the criminal case has been resolved, the internal police investigation of Officer Nero, who remains on administrative leave, will not be resolved until after the trials of the other officers involved, the Police Department said in a statement.

    Many demonstrators felt vindicated when the city's top prosecutor, Marilyn J. Mosby, announced charges against the officers involved in the encounter with Mr. Gray on a sunny April morning in the city's blighted Sandtown neighborhood. But the legal process has turned slowly.

    The trial of Officer Nero, 30, shifted the focus from the injuries that killed Mr. Gray, which was a crucial point in Officer Porter's trial, to the opening moments of his arrest. It was never going to be the highest-profile prosecution in the case related to Mr. Gray; that will be Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the driver of the police wagon in which Mr. Gray is believed to have broken his neck. But, in a city that is already the subject of a federal civil rights investigation into whether officers use excessive force and discriminatory policing, Officer Nero's trial renewed questions about when an officer can stop a private citizen and what an officer is allowed to do.

    "I would say the trial has engendered a wider conversation about how police operate in poor communities, particularly poor communities of color that raises critical issues about society," said David Jaros, a law professor at the University of Baltimore.

    During the weeklong proceeding, prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed that the officers had the right to stop Mr. Gray, who had fled them in a high-crime area for no apparent reason. But prosecutors said Officers Nero and Miller exceeded their authority by handcuffing, moving and searching Mr. Gray without first questioning and frisking him, as the law requires. Any physical contact they made with him while doing so, prosecutors argued, amounted to second-degree assault. Officer Nero was also charged with misconduct related to those actions.

    "That's what happens in the city all the time. People get jacked up in the city all the time," Janice Bledsoe, a deputy state's attorney, said during her closing argument on Thursday.

    "That's a separate issue," answered Judge Williams, who repeatedly pressed prosecutors on whether they believed that every arrest made without probable cause amounted to a crime.

    A lawyer for Officer Nero, Marc Zayon, said that the apprehension of Mr. Gray was legal, and that, even if it wasn't: "Wrong or right isn't the standard. The standard is, were they so wrong that it was unreasonable?" Mr. Zayon said.

    Defense lawyers had watched the procedures play out with awe, since it is usually they, not the prosecution, who raise issues of illegal search and seizure in court. What is more, they said, illegal stops rarely result in criminal charges.

    "If you're going to go back and charge every police officer whose arrest was determined to be illegal with assault, or every search that's deemed to be absent probable cause, you're going to indict the entire police force," said Warren Brown, a defense lawyer who has been watching the case.

    Officer Nero was also charged with reckless endangerment and another count of misconduct for not restraining Mr. Gray with a seatbelt when he and other officers placed him in a transport wagon.

    "When you have custody of someone, you have a duty to keep them safe," Michael Schatzow, the chief deputy state's attorney, told Judge Williams.

    Mr. Zayon said it was the responsibility of the van driver, not Officer Nero, to secure Mr. Gray with a seatbelt, and that his client had not knowingly violated police procedure or the law.

    "This is an officer with two years on the force," Mr. Zayon said. "He was a baby, still learning with regard to a lot of this."



    10)  Greek Lawmakers Narrowly Approve Austerity Legislation

    MAY 22, 2016


    ATHENS — After days of heated debate, Greek lawmakers voted narrowly on Sunday to approve a fresh set of financial measures aimed at ensuring that eurozone finance ministers will decide this week to unlock billions of euros in badly needed rescue loans from the country's third bailout.

    The legislation passed 153 to 145, with all of the government coalition members in Parliament voting in favor. It includes a one percentage point increase in the highest rate of sales tax to 24 percent, higher taxes on coffee, alcohol, fuel and other goods and new rules liberalizing the market for nonperforming bank loans. There is also a measure creating a privatization fund to sell off state assets and utilities, including public transport companies, the post office and the state power corporation.

    The legislation also introduces a so-called contingency mechanism that would cut state spending if Greece misses budget targets set by its creditors for the next three years.

    Addressing Parliament before the vote, Prime Minister Alexis Tsiprassaid he had "negotiated hard to secure the chance for the country to stand on its own two feet." He later added: "Today, European leaders get the message that Greece is keeping its promises. Now, it's their turn to do the same."

    Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the leader of the main opposition party, the conservative New Democracy, accused the leftist-led governing coalition — which first came to power on a pledge to reverse austerity before signing a third bailout — of "organized political fraud." Mr. Mitsotakis, whose party is leading in opinion polls, said the new taxes would "annihilate everyone" and accused the government of "plebifying the middle class."

    Outside the Parliament building, protesters gathered to express their exasperation at yet another round of austerity measures. The ones approved on Sunday came on top of pension cuts and increases to income tax adopted earlier this month.

    The vote came two days before eurozone finance ministers are to meet in Brussels to sign off on rescue loans for Greece and decide what kind of debt relief to offer.

    Greece and its European creditors have been locked in talks on how to reduce the country's debt burden, which the International Monetary Fund is insisting on before it joins Greece's third international bailout. The bailout agreement, signed last summer, is worth 86 billion euros, or $96.5 billion. It follows two bailouts worth a total of 240 billion euros that Greece's eurozone partners and the I.M.F. granted in 2010 and 2012 in exchange for a barrage of measures that have slashed the economy by a quarter and pushed the unemployment rate to 25 percent.

    Last week, the I.M.F. said that Greece would need a lengthy period free from debt repayments to put its finances on a stable footing. But eurozone nations, led by Germany, are reluctant to offer debt relief to Greece, fearing the political impact of obliging the taxpayers bailing out Greece to bear an even bigger burden for the country's past profligacy.

    Unless the I.M.F. and eurozone officials find a compromise — or agree to further postpone a decision on the I.M.F.'s participation in the third bailout — a new crisis is likely.

    Greece needs fresh bailout loans to pay down some 3.6 billion euros of debt maturing in July. And the prospect of new upheaval in Greece is of particular concern as Europe faces other potentially destabilizing challenges, including a migrant crisis — with Greece a major transit country for thousands of desperate people — and a crucial vote in June on Britain's continued membership in the European Union.



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

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

    MAY 23, 2016



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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


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



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


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

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



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


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

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

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



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


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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

    May 19th, 2016



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

    MAY 24, 2016




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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

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

    (Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Paul Simao)

































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