"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?

No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.

But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality…

If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn't have to draft me, I'd join tomorrow. But I either have to obey the laws of the land or the laws of Allah. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I'll go to jail. We've been in jail for four hundred years."

- See more at: http://alphahistory.com/vietnamwar/muhammad-ali-refuses-to-fight-1967/#sthash.aPijYzUd.dpuf





Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:












  MDEQ:  Stop Sacrificing our Health for Industry!  

Demand an End to MDEQ Failures

from Flint to Southfield to Detroit

Thursday, June 9

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

MDEQ Offices, Cadillac Place (the old GM Building)

3044 W Grand Blvd Detroit, MI 48202

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is supposed to be working to protect our health. Instead, they're worried about the bottom line for corporations that do not care about environmental quality and continue to pollute our air, land and water and facilitate the privatizing of our public water systems. Our concerns:

  • The poisoning of Flint

  • MDEQ granting a permit for drilling for oil in Southfield

  • MDEQ has stated that they plan to approve a permit for a massive expansion of a hazardous waste facility in Detroit

  • Marathon to apply for a permit to dump more sulfur dioxide into the air in Southwest Detroit when the area was already failing to meet federal air quality standards for sulfur dioxide

We will deliver thousands of signatures to demand that our health become the priority, not bottom line greed. 

Signs provided or bring your own.

Feel free to forward this email to others or to invite people via the Facebook event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1712322909022377/

For more info:  Kathryn@ecocenter.org

p.s.  After the demonstration, you are invited to the Sierra Club event "Asthma is not Normal" Community Health Fair and Presentation at 5:30 p.m.  Details:  https://www.facebook.com/events/137669169974090/






"I Refuse to Support U.S. Armed Drone Policy": Army Chaplain reads resignation letter to Obama

Former Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Chris Antalresigned due to the US drone policy, and shares his moving resignation letter to President Obama on DemocracyNow.

"I resign because I refuse to support U.S. armed drone policy," Antal wrote.

"The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any time, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials. I refuse to support this policy of unaccountable killing."

>>Click here to read more

Support the Clearing Barrel: the only GI coffee house outside the US

By Roots Action, May 31st

It's worth remembering that World War II persists. Over 100,000 U.S. and British bombs remain in German soil and continue to kill. During the last 71 years, the U.S. has never ended the war taxes, left war footing, or ceased empire building. Some 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Germany to this day.

In fact, the United States has made Germany central to its wars today in western Asia and the Middle East, shipping troops via Germany into numerous wars, and bringing the wounded to a U.S. hospital (Landstuhl) in Germany. The United States has also made Ramstein Air Base in Germany central to its drone wars.

As at U.S. bases in the United States and around the world, U.S. troops in Germany often need help with PTSD and moral injury. They need accurate information on their rights, including how to conscientiously object, and including how to legally speak out against atrocities they have witnessed or committed.

Fortunately, they have Meike Capps-Schubert. She is co-founder and current manager of the Clearing Barrel GI-Coffeehouse in Kaiserslautern next to Ramstein. It's believed to be the only GI-coffeehouse outside the United States.

>>Click here to read more

Take PRIDE in Chelsea Manning

Show your support for our heroic WikiLeaks whistle-blower Chelsea Manning in your local 2016 Pride parade and celebration.

Chelsea Manning contingents have already been formed in San FranciscoSeattle, SalinaPhiladelphia, and BostonFind more info on the Pride contingent near you, or register your own upcoming event!

With her legal appeal now underway, Chelsea needs your support more than ever- Join us as we march for Chelsea, whistle-blowers, and government transparency!



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

Judge Robert Mariani of the U.S. District Court has issued an order in Mumia's case, granting Mumia's lawyers Bret Grote and Robert Boyle's motion to supplement the record. 

New medical records documenting Mumia's deteriorated condition from February and March, will be presented June 6th. Judge Mariani has also instructed the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to provide any updates and changes in DOC hep C treatment and policies which affect the plaintiff's treatment.

Calling into Prison Radio, Mumia noted: 

"My friends, my brothers, it ain't over 'til it's over, but there is some motion. It means that we're moving closer to hopefully some real treatment not of my symptoms, but of my disease. I thank you all for being there. And freedom is a constant struggle. I love you all. From what used to be death row, this is Mumia, your brother."

Mumia remains quite ill. While stable, his curable hepatitis C is still active and progressive. The only treatment Mumia has received over the last 14 months to this day is skin ointment and photo therapy. He has not received the medically indicated treatment for hep C, the very condition that put him in the Intensive Care Unit in March 2015. 

Hepatitis C is a progressive disease that attacks Mumia's organs, skin and liver. Unless the court orders the new hepatitis C treatment - one pill a day for 12 weeks, with a 95% cure rate - Mumia's health will remain at serious risk.

Before the court is the preliminary injunction motion, which demands immediate medical care.

The exhaustion of administrative remedy and the procedural hurdles make it extremely difficult for people in prison to actually get their grievances heard through the review process. The Prison Litigation Reform Act was passed specifically to create these very almost insurmountable barriers to access to the courts.

Please read the New Yorker article, Why it is Nearly Impossible for Prisoners to Sue Prisons.

In Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes, one very telling point was when the DOC's Director of Medical Care, Dr. Paul Noel, took the stand. He said that he had never testified before in court! He has worked for the DOC for over a decade.   

That meant that no prisoner had access to adversarial cross examination. Before Mumia's day in court in late December 2015, no prisoner ever had the opportunity to expose the PA DOC's blatant lies. Lies so bold that Dr. Noel disavowed his own signed affidavit, and in court he stated that he "did not sign it and it was false and misleading". The knowingly false and fabricated document was put in the record by Laura Neal, Senior DOC attorney.

Take Action for Mumia

Call prison officials to demand immediate treatment!

Dr. Paul Noel-Director of Medical Care, DOC
717-728-5309 x 5312

John Wetzel- Secretary of DOC
717+728-2573 x 4109

Dr. Carl Keldie-Chief Medical Officer, Correct Care Solutions
800-592-2974 x 5783

Theresa DelBalso-Superintendent, SCI Mahanoy
570-773-2158 x 8101

    Tom Wolf, PA Governor 

    Phone  717-787-2500

    Fax 717-772-8284                                             

    Email governor@pa.gov

    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

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      Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

      Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

      Dear Supporters and Friends,

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

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

      My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

                                Lorenzo's wife,

                                 Tazza Salvatto

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

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

      Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                  DF 1036

                  SCI Mahanoy

                  301 Morea Rd.

                  Frackville, PA 17932

       Email: Through JPay using the code:

                    Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                    Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                    Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

      Have a wonderful day!

      - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

      Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                  DF 1036

                  SCI Mahanoy

                  301 Morea Rd.

                  Frackville, PA 17932

       Email: Through JPay using the code:

                    Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                    Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com













      1)  Frogs That Escaped Extinction

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

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

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

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

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

      Borneo Rainbow Toad

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

      Variable Harlequin Frog

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

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

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

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

      Long-Limbed Salamander

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

      Seeking One Toad, Finding Another

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



      2)  French Unions Plan to Disrupt Euro 2016 Match Days

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

      MAY 27, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

      — Pics or it didn't happen. 

      Here, watch the video.

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

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

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

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

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



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

      The superrich have stashed millions of works in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

      The emergence of an older homeless population is

      creating daunting challenges for social service agencies

      and governments already struggling to fight poverty.

      MAY 31, 2016





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

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

      The homeless in America are getting old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Settling Into Patterns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      'As Sad as You Can Imagine'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      New Generation on Skid Row

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



      8)  20,000 Iraqi Children Are Trapped by Falluja Battle, U.N. Warns

      JUNE 1, 2016


      As the battle between Iraqi forces and Islamic State fighters intensified outside the city of Falluja, at least 20,000 children were among the civilians believed to be trapped and coming under fire in the city, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

      "Very few families have been able to leave," the United Nations' children's charity, Unicef said in a news release. "According to reports, food and medicine are running out and clean water is in short supply."

      visit to the front lines by The New York Times on Sunday showed heavy and continuous shelling of the city by pro-government forces. Shiite militia commanders said the tempo of the fighting might be slowed before any assault on the city itself to allow more civilians to leave. But the commanders acknowledged that relatively few civilians — around 3,700, according to the United Nations — had been able to escape as the fighting intensified over the last week.

      More than two years ago, Falluja became the first Iraqi city to be captured by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh. In the months afterward, the group blitzed across northern and western Iraq, consolidating power in Sunni Arab areas where hostility toward the Shiite national government had long been boiling over.

      Though it has lost other areas of Anbar Province around Falluja in recent months, the Islamic State has kept a strong hold on the city. Iraqi forces mostly kept it under an effective, but distant, siege, cutting it off from resupply by ISIS. That led to heightened fears about the civilian population and reported shortages of food and medicine in the months before the recent advance on Falluja began.

      "I am desperately worried about what is happening to civilians in Falluja," Lisa Grande, the top United Nations humanitarian official in Iraq, said in an interview this week.

      Any direct assault on Falluja would most likely carry a high death toll. The Islamic State has had years to fortify the city, including the construction of a huge network of tunnels and traps that have been a focus of American airstrikes in recent days. Long before that, the city had been a stronghold of Sunni extremism. And it was the center of particularly deadly battles — for American forces and Iraqi civilians — during fighting to take the city in 2004.

      In its announcement on Wednesday, Unicef expressed concern that children under Islamic State rule were at risk of being forced to fight for the militants.

      "Children who are recruited see their lives and futures jeopardized as they are forced to carry and use arms, fighting in an adult war," the agency said.



      9)  How the Chief Executives' Pay Figures Were Calculated

      JUNE 1, 2016


      Executive pay is difficult to measure and compare — both year to year and company to company — because institutions can choose to reward executives in a wide variety of ways. Some compensation plans involve stock options or grants that vest over many years. Or a plan may be structured to pay out in full only if the company hits certain benchmarks.

      For these and other reasons, an annual compensation study such as this one may be viewed as a snapshot in time, as opposed to a definitive accounting of the precise sums each executive might take home. What is important is that the methodology treats each executive consistently and tries to calculate the entirety of a compensation package.

      To provide a snapshot of the sums that chief executives were paid last year, Sunday Business asked Equilar, an executive compensation data firm, to compile and analyze pay data from corporate filings, using a consistent and precise method.

      The data set includes information for the 200 highest-paid chief executives at American public companies with revenue of at least $1 billion that filed proxy statements by April 30 of this year.

      For each executive, total compensation is calculated as the sum of base salary, discretionary and performance-based cash bonuses, the grant date value of stock and option awards, and other compensation. Other compensation typically includes benefits and perquisites. All data is taken from the summary compensation table provided in each company's proxy statement.

      Whenever grant-date values are not provided for option awards, Equilar calculated the value of stock option grants using the widely accepted Black-Scholes method and the company's own option valuation assumptions.

      Grant-date values represent the estimated value of new stock and option awards. Although companies disclose grant-date values for these awards, there is no guarantee that executives will actually realize these amounts. They may earn more or less, depending on stock price movements.

      Equilar's analysis reports equity awards in the fiscal year when they were granted. In some cases, especially in the financial sector, companies grant equity awards at the beginning of each fiscal year based on performance in the previous fiscal year. Therefore, the equity awards granted in a fiscal year should not necessarily be viewed as indicative of corporate performance in that same year.

      Percentage change in pay for each executive is calculated by using compensation data from the previous fiscal year. For some executives, particularly recent hires or newly promoted chief executives, their change in pay is listed as "N.A." in our pay table. Their compensation, however, is included in averages and medians for other columns in the table.



      10) Where Did Dogs Come From? There May Be Two Answers.

      JUNE 2, 2016


      Scientists have done well in scouring the DNA of humans to track our origins to the African continent.

      But the ancient origins of an animal that is an honorary member of many human families has remained in doubt: We still don't know where dogs came from.

      A group of scientists who are in the middle of a grand examination of canine fossils and modern DNA proposed Thursday to turn the whole conversation on its head.

      Suppose dogs didn't evolve in one place, they suggested, but two. What if domestication of ancient wolves happened in both Asia and Europe — different wolves, different people?

      Laurent Frantz and Greger Larson of Oxford University and an international team of scientists who are all part of a dog domestication project run out of Oxford, made the new argument in a paper published in the journal Science. They make clear that although they think their explanation best suits the available evidence, more evidence is needed to confirm it.

      Scientists who were not part of the study agreed on the need for more evidence.

      "It's an intriguing hypothesis," Adam Boyko, a canine geneticist at Cornell University, said.

      John Novembre, a geneticist at the University of Chicago, described the idea as "very provocative"

      "It's a hypothesis," was as far as Peter Savolainen, a geneticist at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, would go. Dr. Savolainen has argued strongly, with limited support from other researchers, that dogs originated in East Asia, which, he noted, fits with at least half of the paper's conclusion.

      The notion of a dual origin of dogs is something new for geneticists, but Dr. Larson said archaeologists have long considered the possibility that dogs were domesticated more than once.

      Separate domestications have occurred with other animals. Dr. Larson and Keith Dobney of Liverpool University found that wild boars were domesticated twice, once in China and once in Anatolia, part of modern Turkey.

      For the new study, Dr. Larson and Dr. Frantz obtained DNA sequences from 59 ancient dogs and a complete genome from a 4,800-year-old-dog fossil found at Newgrange, a well-known archaeological site in County Meath, Ireland. They also analyzed other DNA evidence.

      They found a deep split between two groups — modern East Asian dogs and those from the Middle East and Europe.

      They calculated mutation rates based on the known age of the Irish dog and considered archaeological evidence of migrations as well.

      They said the overall picture could be explained two ways — by dogs originating in East Asia and then migrating west, or by dogs originating in Europe and Asia. They said there was a lack of archaeological evidence for an early, steady spread of dogs from an Eastern origin. And, they said, dog fossils from Europe dating to 15,000 years ago predated known migrations.

      So they concluded that dogs most likely originated both in Europe and in Asia. The Asian dogs then migrated with humans to Western Europe and the Middle East.

      Although the new explanation may seem to complicate an already tangled discussion, Dr. Larson says it actually clears up confusion by explaining two competing ideas, the western and eastern origins of dogs.

      Because of the dog domestication project and other current studies of ancient DNA, this is one scientific dispute that may well be solved.

      "It's really an exciting moment," said Dr. Savolainen.

      We may soon know where dogs come from. But not just yet.



      11)  Supreme Court to Hear Two Death Penalty Cases

      JUNE 6, 2016




      WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear two death penalty cases from Texas raising questions about the roles intellectual disability and race may play in capital prosecutions.

      One of them, Moore v. Texas, No. 15-797, concerns Bobby J. Moore, who has been on death row since 1980 for shooting and killing an elderly Houston supermarket clerk, James McCarble, during a robbery. Mr. Moore's case also raises questions about whether Texas uses outdated standards in assessing whether a defendant's intellectual disability was severe enough to bar his execution.

      The second case, Buck v. Stephens, No. 15-8049, concerns the role race may play in capital sentencing. Duane Buck was convicted of the 1995 murders of a former girlfriend and another man. Texas law allows death sentences only if prosecutors can show the defendant poses a future danger to society.

      During the trial's sentencing phase, Mr. Buck's lawyer presented testimony from a psychologist who said that race is one of the factors associated with future dangerousness. In their petition seeking Supreme Court review, Mr. Buck's new lawyers said his trial lawyer had been ineffective and that Mr. Buck's death sentence was infected by racial bias.

      Correction: June 6, 2016 

      An earlier version of this article, based on erroneous information released by the Supreme Court, incorrectly stated that the court had agreed to hear a second issue in the case of Bobby J. Moore, that of whether executing a condemned inmate more than 35 years after he was sentenced to death violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. In Mr. Moore's case, the court will only consider whether Texas uses outdated standards in assessing whether a defendant's intellectual disability was severe enough to bar his execution.



      12) With Connecticut Foundations Crumbling, 'Your Home Is Now Worthless'

      JUNE 7, 2016




      STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. — Sandra Miller was at work in January when her daughter called from their home here on Oakridge Drive with alarming news. The house was making loud noises, as if someone had jumped off the counter and landed with a bang. For seconds afterward, the house shook.

      A while later, it happened again, and again. Over the next several hours, terrifying bangs rattled the house. The next morning, Ms. Miller called Bill Neal, a structural engineer, who delivered the same stunning news to her that he has now told hundreds of homeowners: The concrete foundation was crumbling and, as a result, her house was gradually collapsing.

      Across nearly 20 towns in northeastern Connecticut, a slow-motion disaster is unfolding, as local officials and homeowners wrestle with an extraordinary phenomenon. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of home foundations that have been poured since the 1980s are cracking, with fissures so large you can slip a hand inside.

      "This is such an emotional roller coaster," said Tim Heim, a homeowner who started the group Connecticut Coalition Against Crumbling Basements. "You can't eat, you can't sleep. When you're told your home is now worthless and your biggest investment is now worthless, it's devastating."

      The scope of the problem is so vast that state officials have begun an investigation, and they recently announced that the crumbling foundations had been traced to a quarry business and a related concrete maker, which have agreed to stop selling their products for residential use. The stone aggregate used in the concrete mixture has high levels of pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide mineral that can react with oxygen and water to cause swelling and cracking. Over the past 30 years, the quarry has provided concrete for as many as 20,000 houses.

      As officials continue their investigation, the cascade of crumbling foundations poses a thicket of legal, emotional and financial issues and has prompted the state to create an official web page dedicated to the problem. Connecticut is also seeking help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

      "It's the psychological toll of the uncertainty," said Jonathan A. Harris, the commissioner of the State Consumer Protection Department.

      Beyond the financial hit, Mr. Harris said, a person's home is "where their kids were born and grandchildren play."

      "There's an intangible side to this that's horrible," he continued.

      Insurers have generally refused to pay for repairs, strictly defining the coverage of collapse by inserting the word "abrupt" in policy language. Repairing the homes requires replacing the entire foundation at costs that typically range from $100,000 to over $200,000. So far, 223 residents have filed formal complaints about crumbling foundations with the department, but officials believe many homeowners may be reluctant to contact the state, fearing problems from their banks and insurers.

      Because the affected swath of the state is home mostly to working- and middle-class families, many face financial ruin since their homes represent the biggest part of their nest egg. Ms. Miller, whose insurance company has provide no financial assistance, rented a nearby condominium after she was told that her family was no longer safe in their home.

      But Ms. Miller said she could not pay both the monthly rent and the mortgage. Paying out of pocket to replace her home's foundation, she said, is well beyond reach. "I don't know too many people that have $170,000 in their wallet," she said. "And that's what it's going to cost to fix my home."

      Mr. Neal, the structural engineer, has inspected hundreds of houses. In nearly all, he found concrete walls with distinctive crack patterns that resemble a road map with lines and fissures snaking in all directions — much different than the vertical cracks typically seen in foundations as they settle.

      After hearing from tearful, angry residents at packed public meetings, state officials stepped in. In October, the state's Insurance Department warned insurers not to cancel policies because of a foundation's condition. Since insurers are denying claims, that warning may not help with the concrete problem, officials say, but it should at least prevent homeowners from losing insurance protection all together.

      Last month, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill that would, among other things, allow homeowners with failing foundations to request a reassessment of their property values and require contractors to record the supplier of concrete for residential foundations. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, signed the bill into law last week.

      Another measure that sought to ease victims' financial losses was less successful. State Senator Tony Guglielmo, a Republican, had proposed a $50 million bond to help homeowners. But Democrats in the State House rejected it, arguing such a measure should wait until the full extent of the problem was better understood.

      "I'm not a big-government guy, by any stretch, but there are some problems where you need government intervention because of the magnitude," Mr. Guglielmo said. "We've had meetings where there were 500 people, and it's been very emotional.''

      After an investigation by the NBC station WVIT, the governor directed the Consumer Protection Department and the attorney general to investigate possible wrongdoing and to determine the scope of the problem and what, if any, assistance was available for homeowners.

      While the state has traced the affected concrete to the quarry business, Becker Construction Company, which operates in Willington, officials have not ruled out other factors. One riddle is the absence of official reports of failing concrete in public or commercial projects that used material from the same quarry, and a concrete maker, the Joseph J. Mottes Company.

      John Patton, a spokesman for both companies, has attributed the crumbling foundations to improper installation, specifically the tendency of some contractors to add water to wet concrete to make it pour faster. That was especially true, he said, during a building boom in the 1980s.

      By law, Mr. Patton noted, inspectors are on site during commercial and public jobs, ensuring that concrete is mixed and installed properly. "We also know that during the time frame in question, other ready mix providers in the area used the same aggregate from the same source," he said.

      Stephan Lackman, a former Mottes employee, said the Becker family, which owns both Mottes and Becker, started using material from the Willington quarry after its gravel supply was depleted during the 1980s. Mr. Patton acknowledged that Mottes first began using aggregate from the quarry in the 1980s, but said the company's original gravel supply was in use until 2014.

      The mineral has been identified as a culprit in disintegrating foundations elsewhere. In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada repeated a pledge to allot $30 million in aid to homeowners in the province of Quebec whose foundations were failing.

      "I saw with my very own eyes the difficult situation in which too many families live because of pyrrhotite," Mr. Trudeau told reporters.

      As officials seek answers in Connecticut, homeowners are looking for someone to hold accountable. A class-action lawsuit filed in February accuses insurers of a "concerted scheme" to deny coverage. And some residents are angry that it has taken the state so long to address the problem.

      Mike Halloran, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said some of his co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances also had cracking foundations. "Ken the plumber," Mr. Halloran, a hospital mechanic, said. "A nurse in the O.R. A guy my wife works out with at the gym has it."

      Mr. Heim, the homeowner who started the coalition, faulted state officials for ignoring warnings from a number of homeowners with the problem in the early 2000s. In 2003, a meeting was held in Hartford among lawmakers, homeowners and representatives of the attorney general's office and Consumer Protection Department. Nothing came of it.

      "They had the power to stop this problem," Mr. Heim said, "and they chose not to."

      It was only after the report by WVIT last summer that politicians at the state level took action, homeowners said.

      Fifteen years ago, Linda J. and Robert Tofolowsky filed a formal complaint with the Consumer Protection Department against Mottes. It detailed the cracks that had formed in the foundation of their home here during the mid-1990s. The couple said several other homeowners had similar problems with concrete supplied by Mottes.

      The couple sued the company in 1995 and lost. But before the resolution of the lawsuit, Mrs. Tofolowsky, in a handwritten note attached to the 2001 complaint, warned of the calamity to come.

      "It has been six years since we filed against J. J. Mottes," she wrote. "But I am not waiting for the court to make a decision, since we have found these seven other homes with failed foundations. I need to let the public know about this company, J. J. Mottes. So that maybe someone else will not lose their biggest investment, their home."



      13)  Regulators Fear $1 Billion Coal Cleanup Bill

      JUNE 6, 2016


      Regulators are wrangling with bankrupt coal companies to set aside enough money to clean up Appalachia's polluted rivers and mountains so that taxpayers are not stuck with the $1 billion bill.

      The regulators worry that coal companies will use the bankruptcy courts to pay off their debts to banks and hedge funds, while leaving behind some of their environmental cleanup obligations.

      The industry asserts that its cleanup plans — which include turning defunct mines back into countryside — are comprehensive and well funded. But some officials say those plans could prove unrealistic and falter as demand for coal remains weak.

      The latest battle is over Alpha Natural Resources, once a high-flying coal company that borrowed hundreds of millions when the coal market was booming but imploded in the face of competition from cheaper natural gas and tougher environmental regulations.

      West Virginia faces perhaps the greatest fallout from the flood of coal bankruptcies that have hit the courts in the last year because many of its mines are scheduled to close and will require extensive cleanup. The state took the unusual approach of hiring a seasoned bankruptcy lawyer from New York who grew up in West Virginia to represent its Department of Environmental Protection in the Alpha case.

      "The goal is to make sure the coal companies clean up the mess when they leave," said the lawyer, Kevin W. Barrett of Bailey & Glasser, who was named a special assistant attorney general for West Virginia and is taking the lead on the Alpha case.

      Regulators and environmental groups in Appalachia have tangled with coal companies for decades over their mining practices, particularly mountaintop removal mining, which involves removing mountain summits to extract coal.

      Continue reading the main story

      But in the bankruptcy cases, West Virginia has been pressuring the industry's lenders to share more of the responsibility for mine reclamation and water remediation, arguing that they exert great influence, if not outright control in some cases, over the bankrupt mining companies.

      Still, figuring out who holds the industry's debt can involve a cat-and-mouse game. Earlier this year, Alpha denied knowing the identity, or the holdings, of its so-called first-lien lenders, which are in line to be paid before many other creditors, according to a court filing.

      So Mr. Barrett subpoenaed Citicorp, the agent for the first-lien lenders in the case, asking for the names.

      It took Citi more than 30 days to respond to the state's subpoena, the court filing shows. When the list of lenders arrived, it read like a who's who of leading investment firms — including two big hedge funds, Highbridge Capital Management and a unit of Davidson Kempner.

      Mr. Barrett promptly subpoenaed these firms too, asking how their plans to buy Alpha's most valuable assets in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming would help pay to clean up the mines left behind in West Virginia.

      Alpha's current plan on the table would commit at least $209 million for reclamations and water treatment in five states: Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. But Mr. Barrett worries that the cash is insufficient and that any additional contributions depend on future coal sales, which show little sign of recovery.

      "There are a lot of questions whether that will even cover the costs," said Mr. Barrett, a former lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges who grew up hearing the rumble of coal trains through his town in West Virginia.

      Alpha insists it will make good on all its environmental obligations. The company has continued to perform reclamations even as its cash dwindles in bankruptcy. In a court filing, Alpha said it could "achieve a resolution that will assure the states that the debtors perform their reclamation obligations."

      An Alpha spokesman declined to comment beyond the court filings, saying that the reorganization plan was not yet complete. Representatives for Citi and the investment firms also declined to comment.

      Many hedge funds bought the coal industry's debt — which totaled roughly $50 billion in 2014 — at a discount and stand to profit if the value of their bonds increases. Many of these debt holders have liens on the company's operating cash and other assets, often giving them tremendous sway over how the money gets spent.

      In the case of Patriot Coal, another large mining company that declared bankruptcy last year, West Virginia sought to hold its hedge fund lenders directly liable for mine reclamation.

      "The lenders are in the driver's seat," said Shannon Anderson, a staff lawyer at the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a conservation group in Wyoming, where Alpha operates large surface mines.

      In 2011, Alpha borrowed heavily to acquire Massey Energy as that company was reeling from an explosion that killed 29 miners at its Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. When the coal market collapsed, Alpha was squeezed by its debt load and filed for bankruptcy last August.

      While several coal companies have emerged from bankruptcy in recent months and continued to operate, state officials have expressed concerns that those companies could soon end up back in bankruptcy if the coal market does not improve. If that happens, they say, the companies will probably have to liquidate, leaving little money to fund reclamations and clean up polluted water.

      That concern is behind the urgent pleadings of environmentalists and even insurers that the coal companies be required to set aside more cash for environmental issues before they are allowed to emerge from bankruptcy.

      "Bankruptcy courts need to hold strong and not let financial institutions pocket the money and leave a huge part of Appalachia out to dry," said Peter Morgan, a lawyer for the Sierra Club, which has filed legal objections to Alpha's plan.

      The coal industry has a history of shunting its obligations — so much so that Congress has created a specific law aimed at preventing the industry from walking away.

      The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 requires coal companies to purchase bonds — effectively, insurance policies — that can be used to pay for reclamation if the companies are insolvent.

      But in the past, regulators in states like West Virginia and Wyoming had allowed coal companies — particularly the giant mining ones — to "self-bond," which meant that they had only to promise to pay for reclamation work, but not to actually post bonds.

      The company is still negotiating with state regulators over reclamations before a court hearing expected early next month.

      In West Virginia, Alpha's plan is to purchase bonds or offer other collateral to replace most of its $240 million in self-bonds. But about $100 million will remain self-bonded, according to a person briefed on the matter.

      In Wyoming, Alpha officials "anticipate" replacing all of the roughly $400 million in self-bonds with surety bonds or other collateral, according to a court filing last month.

      "It is a step in the right direction,'' Ms. Anderson, the Powder River Basin Resource Council lawyer, said. "But we would like to see more certainty."



      14)  Stakes Rise for Prosecutors Trying Officer in Freddie Gray Case for Murder

      JUNE 8, 2016



      BALTIMORE — After two prosecutions without a conviction since the fatal arrest of Freddie Gray, opening arguments are set to begin Thursday in the trial of Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the only officer charged with murder in connection with the death and the driver of the police wagon in which Mr. Gray suffered the spinal injury that killed him.

      The combination of the two unsuccessful prosecutions and the murder charge has raised the stakes substantially in the trial of the third of six officers charged in the death of Mr. Gray, 25, a black man whose death spurred riots, looting and arson.

      "These are the most serious charges," said Warren S. Alperstein, a defense lawyer here who has represented police officers and has been closely following the cases but is not directly involved in them. "This is, arguably, the make-or-break case for the state. It would be a devastating blow if the state was unable to secure a conviction."

      The trial comes as prosecutors aim to shift the narrative away from the mistrial of one officer involved in the case and, just over two weeks ago, another one's acquittal on all charges.

      But legal experts say it will be exceedingly difficult for prosecutors to secure a conviction for murder. Some activists in Baltimore say their faith in the judicial process is already worn.

      "The average person doesn't really expect anything," said Dayvon Love, the director of public policy for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, an advocacy organization. "They expect the officers to get acquitted. They don't expect any accountability."

      In addition to the failed prosecutions, the trials have left lingering questions about how Mr. Gray ended up with a functionally severed spine, critics say.

      "The world wants to know what happened to Freddie Gray," said Darlene Cain, a nurse's assistant whose own son was shot and killed by a Baltimore police officer in 2008, and who has advocated greater accountability from officers who use force. "How did a young person, healthy, talking and standing at one moment, and then at the next time, he's not living?"

      Officer Goodson, 47, a 17-year Baltimore police veteran who, like Mr. Gray, is black, faces seven charges in total, including three charges of manslaughter, and a charge of second-degree depraved heart murder — a rare charge for a police officer, even as scrutiny of law enforcement grows.

      "We're seeing a huge increase in trials for officers for any criminal offense, but I've never seen a murder trial for an officer without video or eyewitness testimony," said Geoffrey P. Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina who has focused on the use of force by the police.

      He added, "It's been an uphill battle in the other two trials, and this is going to be the toughest."

      The case will be decided not by a jury, but by Judge Barry G. Williams, the same judge who acquitted another officer, Edward M. Nero, late last month. Judge Williams, once an attorney in the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, is also black, and he won accolades from members of the legal community — including Billy Murphy, the lawyer for Mr. Gray's family — for not bowing to public pressure in deciding Officer Nero's case. But he has been accused in some quarters of making a narrow ruling that did not reckon with the larger questions of the case.

      Officer Goodson's side of the story has never been officially told; he is the only charged officer who did not give a statement to police investigators. Court filings have hinted that the prosecution may suggest Mr. Gray was taken for a so-called rough ride, with Officer Goodson intentionally driving the van in a dangerous fashion. They have indicated plans to call a witness who can discuss the practice. But legal observers say it is not yet clear what, if any, evidence they have to prove that is what happened on April 12, 2015, when Mr. Gray was arrested.

      "The open question with regard to the Goodson trial is, will we hear more about the practice of giving rough rides?" said David Jaros, a professor of law at the University of Baltimore, who said that the existence of such a theory could explain why prosecutors chose to charge Officer Goodson with murder.

      "Absent a rough ride," Mr. Jaros said, "it is much harder to understand the prosecution's decision to pursue that particular charge, which requires a wanton and reckless disregard for human life that is so significant that it is akin to intentional murder."

      What is known is that Officer Goodson responded to the arrest of Mr. Gray on a bright morning last April. Mr. Gray had fled, apparently unprompted, from police officers in the downtrodden neighborhood of Sandtown, in West Baltimore. Mr. Gray was eventually placed — in handcuffs and leg shackles but no seatbelt — in Officer Goodson's transport wagon, which made several stops in the neighborhood before arriving at the Western District police station.

      There, Mr. Gray was found unresponsive. He died of a spinal injury a week later.

      Protests here grew so violent that Gov. Larry Hogan called in the National Guard. With armored trucks still rolling through the city, the state's top prosecutor, Marilyn J. Mosby, announced charges against six police officers — three black, three white.

      Late last month, Officer Nero was acquitted on charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct connected to his role in Mr. Gray's arrest. And in December, a jury failed to reach a verdict in the case of Officer William G. Porter, who faced charges including manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

      Prosecutors eventually secured an unusual ruling from the state's highest court — a procedure that caused delays in all of the trials — to let Officer Porter testify against Officer Goodson while his own retrial is pending.

      "Officer Porter's testimony will be crucial," said Douglas Colbert, a professor of law at the University of Maryland, who has been supportive of the prosecution, adding, "He minimally suggested going to the hospital."

      Regardless of the role of a rough ride, the case may turn on what prosecutors can show about Officer Goodson's state of mind while he drove Mr. Gray through West Baltimore. They are expected to argue that he had custody of Mr. Gray, and was responsible to keep him safe by using the seatbelt and obtaining medical help when he needed it — and knew he could be putting Mr. Gray in danger by not doing so.

      Defense lawyers are expected to paint Officer Goodson as a veteran with a clean record who acted in line with accepted departmental practice when he did not buckle Mr. Gray in.

      "There's an irony that the officer's best defense is really an indictment of how people are generally treated in the system," Mr. Jaros said.



      15) Toxic Fish in Vietnam Idle a Local Industry and Challenge the State

      JUNE 8, 2016


      NHAN TRACH, Vietnam — Since a devastating fish kill blighted the waters along 120 miles of coastline in central Vietnam, hundreds of people are believed to have fallen ill from eating poisoned fish. Here in the fishing village of Nhan Trach, the squid that sustain the local economy have virtually disappeared. And a fishing ban has left hundreds of traps sitting unused on the beach and dozens of small fishing boats idle.

      "We are so angry," said Pham Thi Phi, 65, who operates a fishing boat in Nhan Trach with her husband and three grown sons. "If we knew who put the poison in the ocean, we would like to kill them. We really need to have an answer from the government on whether the ocean is totally clean and the fish are safe to eat."

      While the immediate cause appears to have been toxic waste from a nearby steel mill, fury over the episode has exploded into a national issue, posing the biggest challenge to the authoritarian government since a spate of anti-Chinese riots in 2014. Protesters demanding government action have marched in major cities and coastal communities over the past six weeks, escalating what had been a regional environmental dispute into a test of government accountability and transparency.

      But two months after the fish started washing up on beaches here, the government has yet to announce the cause of the disaster or identify the toxin that killed marine life and poisoned coastal residents.

      The government's failure to respond and its previous support for the Taiwan-owned steel plant at the heart of the crisis have fueled widespread suspicion of corruption, cover-up and the hidden influence of foreign interests at the expense of Vietnamese livelihoods, a potent mix that challenges the legitimacy of Communist Party rule.

      "Quite simply, in Vietnam, human life is less important than the political life of the government and government institutions," said Nguyen Thi Bich Nga, an activist in Ho Chi Minh City. "In this way, we can explain all that is unusual in this country."

      The government has said little about the marine die-off while cracking down on the protests, which have been called every Sunday since May 1, when thousands of people took to the streets of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and five additional cities. More than 500 people have been arrested, and demonstrators have been beaten by the police.

      "The response by the government has been one of ineptitude," said Carlyle Thayer, a Vietnam analyst at the Australian Defense Force Academy. He said the fish kill was the most serious environmental issue to confront the government in several years and reflected poorly on the government of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who took office in April.

      Last month, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the government to avoid excessive use of force, citing "increasing levels of violence" against the protesters.

      But the protests have continued.

      On Sunday, more than 1,000 people turned out in a coastal district of Nghe An Province, north of the steel plant, to demonstrate. Many wore T-shirts bearing a fish skeleton. Some carried signs reading, "Fish need clean water, citizens need transparency."

      "It seems the government tries to cover up for the culprit," the Rev. Anthony Nam, a Catholic priest and protest leader in Nghe An, said by telephone. "We will protest until the government says what caused the spill."

      In Nhan Trach, about 40 miles south of the steel factory, the dead and dying fish first appeared in early April, floating in the surf and washing up on the beach. Initially, it seemed like a windfall, and many people here ate and sold them. The fish kept coming, tons of them, day after day for more than a month, residents said.

      "Some of the fish were dead; some were dying," said Ho Huu Sia, 67, who buys and dries fish for a living. "We ate the fish that were still alive. We ate the fish for two weeks."

      His daughter, Ho Thi Dao, 32, said she became ill, experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and dizziness. She went to the local clinic and received intravenous fluids. She said she met others there who also suffered poisoning.

      "I ate the fish and got poisoned," she said. "Many people got sick like me."

      Belatedly, the government announced that aquatic life had been poisoned along the coastline of four provinces. The authorities warned people not to eat fish and ordered a halt to fishing.

      As compensation, officials distributed bags of rice and gave fishermen 50,000 dong, or about $2.20.

      "We are just sitting with tears running down our cheeks looking out at the ocean," said Ms. Phi, who has been fishing from Nhan Trach all her life. "What can we do with 50,000 dong?"

      Coastal residents and journalists quickly identified the culprit as the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel plant, which opened in December.

      According to news reports, the fish kill happened after the factory washed unspecified cleaning chemicals through its wastewater pipeline. A company representative seemed to confirm the suspicions in April when he said it would not be surprising if the factory's wastewater harmed marine life.

      "You have to decide whether to catch fish and shrimp or to build a modern steel industry," he told reporters. "Even if you are the prime minister, you cannot choose both."

      His comments incited a flurry of criticism on social media and spawned a popular hashtag, #ichoosefish, which has become a protest slogan.

      The company later insisted that it met Vietnam's environmental standards and said that the spokesman had been fired.

      Company officials did not respond to requests for comment.

      The government has been just as reticent.

      At first, the government suggested a toxic algae bloom was responsible. In mid-May, Pham Cong Tac, deputy science and technology minister, told Vietnamese news outlets that the ministry had a "convincing scientific basis" to explain the fish deaths, but he did not disclose what it was.

      Last week, Mai Tien Dung, minister and head of the government office, said that the authorities had identified the cause but indicated that officials could not tell the public because an investigation was continuing.

      "The work of identifying the cause of the dead fish is also related to identifying the culprit," he told reporters. "This not only needs scientific evidence but also complete evidence of a legal violation, especially of environmental law."

      The lack of information has only fueled the protesters' anger.

      Villagers say the authorities collected water samples immediately after the episode, and foreign experts say test results should have been known within days.

      Nguyen Hoang Anh, a university professor in Hanoi, said the government should have immediately revealed the toxin, especially to the poisoning victims and their doctors.

      "It's not fair," she said. "It's not ethical. It's a crime." She said the cover-up had the potential to make the fish kill Vietnam's Chernobyl, the 1986 nuclear disaster that contributed to the unraveling of the Soviet Union.

      That is what the government most fears, analysts say, and it is why it acts quickly and at times brutally to suppress protests before they ignite a popular uprising.

      But critics say the government has another motive for wanting to bury the controversy.

      The government has supported the steel plant, giving the company a sweetheart deal, including tax incentives and a bargain price for the property, to build on the coast.

      The company, a subsidiary of the Formosa Plastics Group, paid $4.3 million for a 70-year lease on 8,150 oceanfront acres, according to Vietnamese news reports. That is about $530 an acre.

      To clear the site for construction, the government relocated nine communities with more than 14,000 people. In 2012, the prime minister at the time, Nguyen Tan Dung, attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the project, which includes a seaport and a power plant.

      "Some important people in the government made a corrupt deal to put the factory there, and it is therefore partly responsible for the spill," Huynh Ngoc Chenh, former editor of the Thanh Nien newspaper and a prominent blogger, said in an online interview. "So it can't easily blame Formosa or take responsibility. So it is saying nothing and cracking down on protests."

      Two years ago, while the factory was under construction, it became a prime target of the riots over China's placement of an oil rig in waters off Vietnam in the South China Sea. More than 200 factories owned by Chinese and other foreign companies were looted and set ablaze around the country.

      But the worst rioting occurred at Formosa, where four people were killed. The company is based in Taiwan, but thousands of imported laborers from mainland China were building the factory. Protesters stopped buses, pulled off Chinese passengers and beat them.

      The authorities have been more careful not to let the current protests get out of hand. But even if they can be quelled, the economic costs have continued to mount.

      On a recent morning, more than a dozen fish traders gathered at a drink shop across from the beach here. A few played board games, and others joined in a spirited game of cards. There was nothing to do but kill time, one said.

      Around the corner, Phan Dinh Son, 49, sat at a table in his all-too-quiet open-air shop. He used to sell hundreds of blocks of ice a day. Now he sells about 20, he said. A separate business buying and trading shellfish has been suspended because no one wants to eat local fish.

      "The fish market is empty," he said. "I would hope the government and the party would come up with a solution and give a clear answer so we can do our business."



      16)  On Eve of Graduation, University of Chicago Protester Faces Expulsion

      JUNE 8, 2016




      On an afternoon in May, 34 protesters breached the locked doors of the administration building at the University of Chicago and dashed upstairs to the fifth-floor lobby of the president's office. Sprawling on chairs and on the floor, equipped with food and chant sheets, they settled in for a long sit-in. The protesters, who were mostly students, demanded, among other things, a "living wage" for campus workers, more accountability from the campus police and disinvestment from fossil fuels.

      It was part of a school year of student demonstrations across the country, often tolerated or even celebrated by members of the faculty or administrators. But this one was different: Days later, the student body president, Tyler Kissinger, who had allowed the protesters into the building, was threatened with expulsion the day before graduation.

      "My parents are concerned because they don't know if they should be coming to observe my graduation or not, or if I should be spending the few dollars to buy my cap and gown," said Mr. Kissinger, 21, who is from Lewisville, N.C., and is a first-generation college student. "I don't know if I'm actually going to use it. Why would I waste the money?"

      Administrators at other universities have been more accommodating in this year of unrest. Harvard Law School abolished its slavery-linked crest after protests, including a sit-in; Yale discontinued the use of the term "master" for heads of its student residences after protests; thepresident of the University of Missouri resigned after protests by the football team.

      A spokesman for the University of Chicago, Jeremy Manier, said that because of student confidentiality rules, he could not disclose information about disciplinary action. But he defended the university's record on free speech generally.

      "Freedom of expression and dissent are fundamental values of the University of Chicago," Mr. Manier said in an email. "The university's policies do not prevent students from engaging in protest, and the university does not discipline students for speaking out on any issue."

      Mr. Kissinger said he had been formally charged with "premeditated and dishonest behavior to gain entry to Levi Hall, creating an unsafe situation." He is to appear before a disciplinary committee on Friday, about 24 hours before he was expecting to join his classmates for graduation.

      Mr. Kissinger and his fellow demonstrators note that the University of Chicago has been roundly praised by free-speech organizations. "I think it's scary for a lot of people," Mr. Kissinger said. "If they are cracking down on people who are protesting, I don't understand what the university means by free expression."

      The University of Chicago's reaction is consistent with the tough line it took during the last period of major upheaval on college campuses, the demonstrations of the 1960s. In 1967, the university suspended 58 students for taking over the administration building in a protest against the draft, though most of the suspensions were not carried out, according to an account on the University of Chicago library website.

      In March 1969, the university expelled 42 students, suspended 81 students and put three students on probation for a two-week occupation of the administration building in support of a sociology professor they thought was being denied reappointment because of her leftist views and because she was one of a minority of women on the faculty.

      The sit-in this spring, on May 19, was conceived after university administrators refused invitations from a community organizing group, the IIRON Student Network, soon to be renamed Student Action of Metropolitan Chicago, to attend a public meeting to discuss its demands. Among other things, the group wanted the university to institute a $15 an hour minimum wage for campus workers, and to provide more access to the records of the university police force, which it has accused of racial profiling in the surrounding neighborhood. The university said it already posts information from field interviews and traffic stops.

      On the day of the sit-in, Mr. Kissinger got past security by saying he was on official business as student body president. He hid in a bathroom for a few minutes, he recalled, then used his backpack to prop open a door so everyone else could get in.

      The protest ended an hour later when a university official told the protesters they could be arrested and students possibly expelled.

      Four days later, at a meeting of the student government, the university provost, Eric D. Isaacs, was confronted with students and campus workers pressing the demands.

      Mr. Kissinger was later called to a meeting with the dean of students, Michele Rasmussen, who criticized him, he said, for letting the student assembly get out of hand and for allowing campus workers to attend. After that meeting, he received the summons to a disciplinary hearing.

      Mr. Kissinger, whose mother is a food service worker at Wake Forest University, said he let the protesters into the building because he thinks that the university should be an open place, run in a collaborative way. "I think students, faculty and staff should have uninhibited access to administrators on their campuses, administrators who are making decisions about their lives," he said. "So I kind of reject the premise that an administration building should be locked and cordoned off."

      "I think that is ultimately what this is at its core about — competing visions of how universities should work," he said.




















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