Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










American Friends Service Committee presents: 

Can We Destroy Nukes Before They Destroy Us?  Helen Caldicott 

DATE/TIME: Sat, Aug 13, 2:00pm-4:00pm 

LOCATION:  SF Main Public Library; Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco 

COST:      Free 

Dr. Helen Caldicott, M.D. will discuss among critical issues Russian and-American preparations for nuclear war on each other.  "...Thousands of nuclear weapons remain continuously on hair-trigger alert" and any international disturbance could set off a "conflagration and nuclear winter," ending most human life. That is the climax of "The New Nuclear Danger" (one of three Caldicott books that may be available before and after the talk). 

Dr. Caldicott practiced pediatrics in her native Australia and taught in U.S. medical schools. She has devoted the last 45 years to educating the public on nuclear perils by speaking, writing, and organizing.  


Website: http://www.afsc.org/office/san-francisco-ca 

Email:   smcneil@afsc.org 

Phone:   415-350-9305 

Contact: Stephen McNeil 

upj-bayarea is a communication tool for organizing in and around San Francisco, CA, with United for Peace and Justice. This list is for organizing, not general political information sharing nor news reporting. Action items and discussions, related to work that UPJ is considering, are most welcome.



Chelsea Manning Support Network

Chelsea faces charges related to suicice attempt

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Chelsea Manning threatened with indefinite solitary confinement for suicide attempt

Yesterday, (July 28) Chelsea Manning found out she is yet again being threatened with the possibility of indefinite solitary confinement.

In a jarringly callous move, Army officials are charging Chelsea with "offenses" related to her suicide attempt earlier this month.

If convicted, her punishment could be indefinite solitary confinement,reclassification into maximum security, and an additional nine years in medium custody. Her chance of parole may be negated.

Read the charge sheet here, dictated over the phone by Chelsea to a Support Network volunteer.

"It is deeply troubling that Chelsea is now being subjected to an investigation and possible punishment for her attempt to take her life. The government has long been aware of Chelsea's distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary," said ACLU Staff Attorney Chase Strangio. 

"Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain. It is unconscionable and we hope that the investigation is immediately ended and that she is given the health care that she needs to recover." Read more here

Chelsea has already faced indefinite solitary confinement threats last year, for innocuous institutional offenses, such as having an expired tube of toothpaste.

Sign the petition

Our friends at Fight for the Future have created a petition where you can sign on to a letter condemning the US Army's attack on Chelsea.

Write the Secretary of the Army

Pressure the Secretary of the Army to take a personal interest and dismiss these cruel and absurd charges against Chelsea.



WASHINGTON, DC 20310-010

Help us pay for Chelsea's legal representation

This May, Chelsea's appellate team filed a brief beginning her appeal process. Your support is critical, not just to continue fighting these ongoing threats from prison officials, but to help challenge Chelsea's draconian 35-year prison sentence and her unjust Espionage Act conviction.

Thank you to those who have already contributed, and to everyone who continues to support Chelsea during this long and strenuous process.

Chelsea can continue to be a powerful voice for reform, but we need your help to make that happen. Help us support Chelsea in prison, maximize her voice in the media, continue public education, fund her legal appeals team, and build a powerful movement for presidential pardon.

Please donate today!










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 Battles On

    For over 31 years, Major Tillery has been a prisoner of the State.

    Despite that extraordinary fact, he continues his battles, both in the prison for his health, and in the courts for his freedom.

    Several weeks ago, Tillery filed a direct challenge to his criminal conviction, by arguing that a so-called "secret witness" was, in fact, a paid police informant who was given a get-out-of-jail-free card if he testified against Tillery.

    Remember I mentioned, "paid?"

    Well, yes--the witness was 'paid'--but not in dollars. He was paid in sex!

    In the spring of 1984, Robert Mickens was facing decades in prison on rape and robbery charges. After he testified against Tillery, however, his 25-year sentence became 5 years: probation!

    And before he testified he was given an hour and a ½ private visit with his girlfriend--at the Homicide Squad room at the Police Roundhouse. (Another such witness was given another sweetheart deal--lie on Major, and get off!)

    To a prisoner, some things are more important than money. Like sex!

    In a verified document written in April, 2016, Mickens declares that he lied at trial, after being coached by the DAs and detectives on the case.

    He lied to get out of jail--and because he could get with his girl.

    Other men have done more for less.

    Major's 58-page Petition is a time machine back into a practice that was once common in Philadelphia.

    In the 1980s and '90s, the Police Roundhouse had become a whorehouse.

    Major, now facing serious health challenges from his hepatitis C infection, stubborn skin rashes, and dangerous intestinal disorders, is still battling.

    And the fight ain't over.

    [©'16 MAJ  6/29/16]

    Major Tillery Needs Your Help and Support

    Major Tillery is an innocent man. There was no evidence against Major Tillery for the 1976 poolroom shootings that left one man dead and another wounded. The surviving victim gave a statement to homicide detectives naming others—not Tillery or his co-defendant—as the shooters. Major wasn't charged until 1980, he was tried in 1985.

    The only evidence at trial came from these jailhouse informants who were given sexual favors and plea deals for dozens of pending felonies for lying against Major Tillery. Both witnesses now declare their testimony was manufactured by the police and prosecution. Neither witness had personal knowledge of the shooting.

    This is a case of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption that goes to the deepest levels of rot in the Philadelphia criminal injustice system. Major Tillery deserves not just a new trial, but dismissal of the charges against him and his freedom from prison.

    It cost a lot of money for Major Tillery to be able to file his new pro se PCRA petition and continue investigation to get more evidence of the state misconduct. He needs help to get lawyers to make sure this case is not ignored. Please contribute, now.


      Financial Support: Tillery's investigation is ongoing, to get this case filed has been costly and he needs funds for a legal team to fight this to his freedom!

      Go to JPay.com;

      code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

      Tell Philadelphia District Attorney

      Seth Williams:

      Free Major Tillery! He is an innocent man, framed by police and and prosecution.

      Call: 215-686-8711 or

      Write to:

      Major Tillery AM9786

      SCI Frackville

      1111 Altamont Blvd.

      Frackville, PA 17931

        For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot


        Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com



        Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

        Sign the Petition:


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

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

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

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

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

        Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

        In solidarity,

        James Clark
        Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
        Amnesty International USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




          Sign the Petition:


          Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:

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

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

          American Federation of Teachers

          Campaign for America's Future

          Courage Campaign

          Daily Kos

          Democracy for America


          Project Springboard

          RH Reality Check


          Student Debt Crisis

          The Nation

          Working Families



          Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

          Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

          Dear Supporters and Friends,

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

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

          My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

                                    Lorenzo's wife,

                                     Tazza Salvatto

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

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

          Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                      DF 1036

                      SCI Mahanoy

                      301 Morea Rd.

                      Frackville, PA 17932

           Email: Through JPay using the code:

                        Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                        Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                        Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

          Have a wonderful day!

          - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

          Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                      DF 1036

                      SCI Mahanoy

                      301 Morea Rd.

                      Frackville, PA 17932

           Email: Through JPay using the code:

                        Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                        Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com













          1)  Pacific Northwest Weighs Response to Risks Posed by Oil Trains

          JULY 31, 2016




          MOSIER, Ore. — The Chinook salmon that Randy Settler and other Yakama tribal fishermen are pulling from the Columbia River are large and plentiful this summer, part of one of the biggest spawning runs since the 1960s. It is a sign, they say, of the river's revitalization, through pollution regulations and ambitious fish hatchery programs.

          But barely four miles upstream from the fishermen's nets, state workers are still cleaning up after a major oil train derailment in June. About 47,000 gallons of heavy Bakken crude bound from North Dakota spilled when 16 Union Pacific cars accordioned off the tracks. All of it, Oregon environmental officials said, might have gone into the river but for a stroke of luck that carried the oil instead into a water treatment plant a few hundred feet from the riverbank.

          That juxtaposition — the rebounding river coming a hair's breadth from disaster — has resonated across the Pacific Northwest and brought about a day of reckoning. From ballot boxes to the governors' desks in Oregon and Washington, a corner of the nation that seemed poised only a few years ago to become a new energy hub is now gripped by a debate over whether transporting volatile, hazardous crude oil by rail through cities and environmentally delicate areas can ever be made safe enough.

          "Communities around this state have awoken," said Oregon's governor, Kate Brown, a Democrat. Washington's governor, Jay Inslee, who is also a Democrat, said he thinks that all oil transit should be halted until more stringent track inspection rules can be put into place. "Can it be transported into the Pacific Northwest safely?" he said. "That answer now is no."

          The volume of oil being shipped by rail across most of the rest of the nation has plummeted, as low oil prices and more pipeline capacity have reduced the need for trains. The number of rail cars carrying petroleum is down about 40 percent from the peak in 2014, according to the Association of American Railroads.

          But here along the Columbia River gorge, about 60 miles east of Portland, the trains have continued to rumble through Oregon and Washington in numbers near their peak. Even with lower oil prices, railroad industry experts said, crude heading by rail to refineries in the Pacific Northwest has a shorter distance to travel from North Dakota, making the route cost effective.

          In the tense environment since the derailment, the idea that the Northwest is now bearing a disproportionate burden of energy transport risk has accelerated local efforts to stop the trains or make them safer.

          Last month, the City Council in Vancouver, Wash., where one of the biggest oil terminals in the nation is under review, voted to ban any similar proposals from even being considered in the future.

          In Spokane, Wash., a city built by the railroad industry and one through which almost all oil trains pass, voters will decide in November whether to outlaw that transit. The City Council voted to put the proposal on the ballot, mandating a $261 fine for every rail car carrying oil or coal, even though the railroads have said they would file a lawsuit to overturn the statute as a violation of interstate commerce.

          Both of Oregon's United States senators have proposed the legislation, called The Mosier Act, that would require the Department of Transportation to reduce levels of volatile gases in crude oil and give greater teeth and resources to crash investigators.

          Greater transparency in oil shipments is also on the horizon. Railroads have generally refused to divulge specific oil train schedules, citing security concerns, but starting in October, details about every oil train through Washington will have to be shared with state officials, who will then distribute reports to emergency management agencies through a secure system. The information will be shared with the public on a quarterly basis, starting in December.

          Mr. Inslee, who is running for re-election, as is Ms. Brown in Oregon, will have the authority under state law to decide whether the oil terminal in Vancouver will go forward, a question that could reach his desk this fall. He said that he is keeping an open mind and awaiting the recommendation from the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which wrapped up a month of hearings on the terminal this week.

          Some environmental groups are already calling the Vancouver project all but dead, saying that an approval by Mr. Inslee would run counter to the governor's often-expressed convictions about climate change — not to mention the book he wrote on the virtues of renewable energy — and would also mean imposing a project on a city that has said it does not want it. Washington's attorney general, Bob Ferguson, announced his opposition to the terminal on Friday, the last day of the hearings.

          "For the railroads, the politics have turned for the worse," said Clark Williams-Derry of the Sightline Institute, an environmental research and advocacy group in Seattle.

          Railroads and oil companies said they have responded to public concerns and that oil transport can be safe.

          A spokesman for Union Pacific, Aaron Hunt, said in an email that lag bolts — a track-fastening system that failed in Mosier, according to the preliminary federal investigation — are being replaced with more secure rail spikes and that the railroad had enhanced its inspection processes.

          Dan Riley, a spokesman for Tesoro Petroleum, a partner in the Vancouver terminal project, said that the company has been a leader in shifting to newer, more secure tank cars and that the attention since the Mosier accident will only accelerate those safety enhancements. "It's an opportunity to improve the entire system," he said in an interview.

          But railroads have also resisted rules that might have mitigated the Mosier accident and other derailments around the country, said Sarah E. Feinberg, the administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration, specifically outfitting trains with modern braking systems, called electronically controlled pneumatic braking.

          "These trains are basically operating with a braking system from the Civil War era, and we have said to the railroads, 'You must upgrade,'" she said. "And we get a tremendous amount of pushback from the industry: It's too expensive, it's too complicated, it's logistically complicated."

          Tribal fishermen like Mr. Settler, 61, who has been piloting boats on the Columbia River since he was 9, said he fears that for the river, the worst is not over. State officials said recently that oil from the spill had seeped into the groundwater, which connects with the river. In any case, Mr. Settler said, it is clear to him that human failure and inadequate track maintenance, not bad luck, caused the crash.

          "They knew it was a high-risk area," Mr. Settler said on his boat on a recent morning off Mosier's shoreline. "But it didn't stop the trains from coming."



          2)  U.S. Conducts Airstrikes Against ISIS in Libya

          AUG. 1, 2016



          WASHINGTON — The United States escalated its war against the Islamic State in Libya on Monday, conducting airstrikes in the coastal city of Surt as part of a new military campaign against the extremist Sunni terrorist group's stronghold in North Africa.

          President Obama approved the strikes last week after Libya's fragile United Nations-backed unity government asked for help in its fight against the Islamic State, administration officials said.

          The strikes, which American officials have forecast for months, are intended to help break an impasse between Libyan militias and the Islamic State fighters they have cornered in a grinding urban battle in Surt's downtown.

          American officials, who estimate that there are fewer than 1,000 Islamic State fighters in Surt, say that American warplanes could provide a decisive advantage to the attackers and help break the stalemate along the fighting fronts in the southern and western part of the city. But they also say that the Islamic State's modest numbers in Surt belie their determination, if not desperation, and that with escape routes from Surt largely cut off, the Islamic State fighters may fight to the death.

          American warplanes conducted only two airstrikes on Monday, but officials said there would be a steady series of strikes in coming weeks. The Monday strikes, by both drones and manned warplanes, hit a tank and troop supply and transport vehicles, military officials said. Reconnaissance drones, flown in from Italy, were also used in the operation.

          The Obama administration has been negotiating for weeks with the Libyan government on how to use American airstrikes to support the limited capability of Libyan warplanes to hit targets in Surt. The American military brings the ability to strike in a dense urban area more precisely — whether by drones or manned warplanes — and thus reduce civilian casualties.

          Although there have been American Special Operations forces on the ground in Libya for several months, American spotters did not call in the airstrikes, military officials said. Instead the Pentagon used the same model it has with some Syrian rebel groups: Libyan ground forces, who were given rudimentary instruction by American Special Operations trainers on the ground, provided basic identification and targeting information for the warplanes.

          Fayez Serraj, the head of Libya's unity government, said in a televised statement that no American ground forces would be deployed to aid the effort, and that Monday's airstrikes caused "major casualties." But Pentagon officials said they did not know how many Islamic State fighters may have been killed.

          Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in January that the United States planned to take "decisive military action" against the Islamic State in Libya. Since then, United States and British special operations teams have been conducting clandestine reconnaissance missions in Libya to identify militant leaders and map out their networks.

          Separate teams of American Special Operations forces have also been trying to court allies from a patchwork of Libyan militias that remain unreliable, unaccountable, poorly managed and divided by region and tribe.

          In March, American military planners had concluded that airstrikes against up to 40 targets in four different areas of the country would have crippled the group's Libya affiliate, opening the door for Western-backed Libyan militias to fight Islamic State fighters on the ground. That same month, the Pentagon presented the White House with a detailed set of military options for attacking what was then a growing Islamic State threat in Libya, including a range of strikes against training camps, command centers, munitions depots and other militant targets. The plans were centered around Surt.

          But the plan was abandoned because administration officials concluded that the political process in Libya, particularly regarding the talks surrounding the establishment of the government of national accord, was too fragile. Administration officials feared that the strikes would undercut the political process that had produced the government.

          The American intervention poses significant political risks for Mr. Serraj, who is already fending off accusations from Islamist critics that his unity government is little more than a proxy for Western interests.

          Those sensitivities were revived last month after three French Special Forces soldiers died in a helicopter crash near the eastern city of Benghazi. The French government attributed the crash to an accident. A local militia, not aligned with Mr. Serraj, claimed to have shot down the aircraft.

          Jonathan Winer, the American special envoy for Libya, said on his Twitter account that the airstrikes on Monday reinforced "our call for all parties in Libya to work through the GNA" referring to the Government of National Accord, the official title for unity government.

          Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said the legal authorization for the Surt strikes — like the legal authorization for strikes against other militant Islamic groups like the Shabab in East Africa — came from the Authorization for Use of Military Force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks enacted by Congress.

          By linking the Libya action to the authorization for force, the administration will not have to officially notify Congress. That means that the campaign in Libya can continue indefinitely, or until the administration concludes that the airstrikes have accomplished their objective.



          3)  Illegal in Massachusetts: Asking Your Salary in a Job Interview

          AUG. 2, 2016


          In a groundbreaking effort to close the wage gap between men and women, Massachusetts has become the first state to bar employers from asking about applicants' salaries before offering them a job.

          The new law will require hiring managers to state a compensation figure upfront — based on what an applicant's worth is to the company, rather than on what he or she made in a previous position.

          The bipartisan legislation, signed into law on Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, is being pushed as a model for other states, as the issue of men historically outearning women who do the same job has leapt onto the national political scene.

          Nationally, there have been repeated efforts to strengthen equal pay laws — which are already on the books but tend to lack teeth — but none have succeeded so far. Hillary Clinton has tried to make equal pay a signature issue of her campaign, while Donald J. Trump's daughter Ivanka praised her father for his actions on this issue when she spoke at the Republican National Convention.

          By barring companies from asking prospective employees how much they earned at their last jobs, Massachusetts will ensure that the historically lower wages and salaries assigned to women and minorities do not follow them for their entire careers. Companies tend to set salaries for new hires using their previous pay as a base line.

          "I think very few businesses consciously discriminate, but they need to become aware of it," said State Senator Pat Jehlen, a Democrat and one of the bill's co-sponsors. "These are things that don't just affect one job; it keeps women's wages down over their entire lifetime."

          Federal law already prohibits gender-based pay discrimination, but violations are hard to prove and wage gaps persist in nearly every industry.

          Nationally, women are paid 79 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the United States Census Bureau. A number of factors affect that statistic, including the career fields women choose, but economists consistently find evidence of pay disparities not offset by other variables.

          The Massachusetts law, which will go into effect in July 2018, takes other steps as well to combat pay discrimination. Companies will not be allowed to prohibit workers from telling others how much they are paid, a move that proponents say can increase salary transparency and help employees discover disparities.

          And the law will require equal pay not just for workers whose jobs are alike, but also for those whose work is of "comparable character" or who work in "comparable operations." Workers with more seniority will still be permitted to earn higher pay, but the law effectively broadens the definition of what is equal work.

          Other states have also been stepping up their protections. In May, Maryland passed a law that requires equal pay for "comparable" work, and California last year enacted a law that is one of the nation's strictest, requiring employers to be able to prove that they pay workers of both genders equally for "substantially similar" jobs. It, too, had the backing of important local trade groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce.

          And Massachusetts joins at least 12 other states that already require companies to let employees compare notes about how much they are paid.

          The distinguishing feature in the Massachusetts law is that job seekers will no longer be compelled to disclose their salary or wages at their current or previous jobs — which often leaves applicants with the nagging suspicion that they might have been offered more money if the earlier figure had been higher. People will still be allowed to volunteer their salary information.

          "This is a sea change, and we hope it will be used as a model in other states," said Victoria A. Budson, executive director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and chairwoman of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. The law in her state, she said, "will help every single individual who applies for a job, not just women."

          Efforts to pass a national anti-secrecy law, the Paycheck Fairness Act, have been repeatedly blocked by congressional Republicans. Opponents, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobbying group, say that such laws would increase litigation and unfairly restrict employers' compensation decisions.

          But proponents of equal pay laws say that attitudes are shifting among businesses. In Massachusetts, for instance, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce was an early and enthusiastic backer.

          "That really set the tone," said State Representative Ellen Story, a Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill. "Now it wasn't just members of the women's caucus, it was business leaders, too, asking for this."

          The Massachusetts attorney general will be in charge of enforcing the law, which also gives workers the right to sue companies directly for violations.

          In June, 28 businesses nationwide, including large employers like Gap, Pepsi and American Airlines, signed an Equal Pay Pledge promoted by the White House in which they committed to conducting annual audits of their pay by gender across all job categories.

          "Companies that want to do the right thing are seeing that these new laws really pose no threat," said Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, which tracks the fair pay bills introduced in state legislatures. "It's absolutely started to pick up. These laws are not just passing in completely blue places," she added," they're passing with bipartisan votes."

          Businesses are also beginning to talk more openly about the often uncomfortable things those audits find. PricewaterhouseCoopers published the results of a pay analysis it did of its British staff. It found a 15.1 percent pay disparity between men and women, and changed its promotion practices to bring more women into senior leadership roles. Salesforce, a cloud software company, says it spent $3 million last year to raise the salaries of female employees to match their male counterparts.

          Academic research has illustrated the negative effect pay disparity has not just on individuals, but also on the broader economy. Closing the gender wage gap would lower the poverty rates in every state, according to an analysis by the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

          Just as important, according to advocates of equal pay, are the changing demographics in boardrooms and statehouses.

          Ms. Jehlen, one of the Massachusetts bill's co-sponsors, recalled the first time she testified about equal pay issues before the legislature's labor committee: All the members were men.

          She and others had taken up the cause on behalf of a group of female cafeteria workers who filed a lawsuit in 1991 seeking parity with male janitors, who did comparable work, the cafeteria workers said, but were paid significantly more. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against the women, saying that the state's equal pay law was not clear in its definition of comparable work.

          This week, one of those cafeteria workers attended the ceremony at which Governor Baker signed the new law.

          "For me," Ms. Jehlen said, "that was the most emotionally powerful thing."



          4)  A.N.C. Suffers Major Election Setback in South Africa

          AUG. 5, 2016


          JOHANNESBURG — The African National Congress, the party that helped liberate black South Africans from white-minority rule but that has become mired in corruption, endured its worst election since taking power after the end of apartheid, according to results released on Friday.

          The A.N.C. lost a large black-majority city, Nelson Mandela Bay, for the first time and suffered heavy losses in urban areas, where a growing number of black, middle-class voters turned against the party and the politics of patronage personified by President Jacob Zuma.

          The two most highly contested of the races — in Johannesburg, the commercial capital, and Pretoria, the political capital — were too close to call on Friday afternoon.

          But nationwide, with 95 percent of ballots counted, the A.N.C. garnered 54 percent of the vote — its lowest level in an election since in 1994, when Nelson Mandela became president and the party became South Africa's dominant political force.

          The showing in this week's municipal elections fell well below the threshold of 60 percent that the party's secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, identified in a report in October as "a psychological and political turning point that would be interpreted as an indication of the demise of the movement."

          The main beneficiary was the Democratic Alliance, an organization that was long led by white South Africans and that the A.N.C. had attacked as a Trojan horse for white interests.

          The alliance won Nelson Mandela Bay and was slightly ahead of the A.N.C. in the contest for Pretoria.

          Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president of the A.N.C. and of the nation, said at a news conference on Friday afternoon that the organization would "do an introspective look at ourselves."

          "We are a party that's not going away from the body politic of this country," he said. "Where we have shown areas of weakness, we are going to get better and improve. That's who we are. We learn from our mistakes."

          The A.N.C.'s enduring grip on rural areas dependent on the party's deeply rooted patronage network will most likely ensure its dominance on the national stage for at least another decade, according to experts and even to officials in the opposition.

          But pressure could mount on party leaders to replace Mr. Zuma, whose seven years in office have been marked by a series of scandals, before the end of his second and final term, in 2019.

          The A.N.C.'s national tally was about eight percentage points lower than the 62 percent it received in the most recent local elections, in 2011.

          But in the country's eight largest cities, home to about 40 percent of the population, it suffered double-digit declines in many areas.

          With 73 percent of the votes counted, the A.N.C.'s share of the vote in Johannesburg dropped to 42 percent from 59 percent in 2011.

          Voters in Nelson Mandela Bay — South Africa's fifth-biggest city, whose population is 60 percent black — chose as its new mayor Athol Trollip, a 52-year-old white South African from the Democratic Alliance with a long career in progressive politics.

          For the party, which was traditionally led by white South Africans who opposed apartheid but now has many young black leaders, the election results are the first significant victories outside its stronghold in the western part of the country.

          Whites and South Africans of mixed race make up the party's core supporters in that area, and blacks make up only about one-third of the population.

          The Democratic Alliance retained Cape Town, the nation's second-biggest city, with a landslide victory.

          Under its first black party leader, Mmusi Maimane, since last year, the Democratic Alliance appears to have made inroads even in A.N.C. strongholds, especially among young voters whose image of the A.N.C. has less to do with Nelson Mandela than with Mr. Zuma.

          "I wanted change," said Tebogo Malatjie, an unemployed 22-year-old man who voted for the Democratic Alliance in Soweto on Wednesday morning.

          Mr. Malatjie backed the A.N.C. in national elections in 2014, but he said he felt that the party had done little to improve the stagnant national economy or to help his family, which has been waiting for public housing for nearly 12 years.

          "You cannot vote for the A.N.C. if you want change," he said.



          5)  Black Lives Matter Activists Stage Protests Across Britain

          "So far this year, the police in Britain have shot and killed two people, compared with 564 in the United States."

          AUG. 5, 2016


          LONDON — Black activists, responding to calls for a nationwide protest against racial injustice, staged demonstrations in London and several other cities across Britain on Friday, in their boldest show of support to date for the emerging Black Lives Matter movement here.

          Black Lives Matter U.K. had called for a nationwide "shutdown" to protest an array of injustices, including police brutality; racial disparities in arrests, convictions and sentencing; the treatment of immigrants in detention; inadequate mental health services; and a reported increase in hate crimes since Britain's decision, in a June 23 referendum, to leave the European Union.

          "We are here because we have no choice," Wail Qasim, an activist and journalist who took part in a protest near Heathrow Airport, which serves London, wrote on Twitter. "We are here because fthis is a crisis."

          The Black Lives Matter movement, which emerged in the United States in 2013, has spread to several countries, including BritainCanada and France.

          On Friday morning, activists unfurled a giant banner and lay down on an access road near Heathrow, bringing traffic to a standstill for several hours. The police arrested 10 people.

          Five more people were arrested in Birmingham, Britain's second-most populous city, after blocking traffic leading to the airport. Four activists were arrested in Nottingham, a city of more than 300,000 in the Midlands, after protesters blocked trams and buses by lying down in front of the Theatre Royal.

          The demonstrations were peaceful but powerful; in several cases, the authorities had to use special equipment to cut through the tubes the protesters had used to link their arms.

          The demonstrations were timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary, on Thursday, of the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old unarmed black man, in the Tottenham section of London. His death touched off riots in poorer sections of the capital, as well as in cities including Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool.

          In January 2014, an inquest jury found that the killing of Mr. Duggan had been justified, finding it more likely than not that he had tossed a firearm from a taxi shortly before he was shot. But in October, a judge granted Mr. Duggan's family the right to appeal those findings.

          The 2011 riots echoed disturbances that shook the Brixton neighborhood of London no fewer than three times — in 19811985 and 1995 — in response to anger at police treatment of black residents.

          The activists have been upset by three recent deaths of black Britons: Mzee Mohammed, 18, who died last month after he was arrested in Liverpool; Sarah Reed, a 32-year-old with a history of mental illness, who died in a jail in North London in January and had previously been the victim of police brutality; and Jermaine Baker, 28, who was fatally shot by the police in North London in December, after he tried to free a convict from a police van.

          "In the U.K., we have exactly the same problems as in America, but in America they're far worse," Kehinde Andrews, an associate professor of sociology and head of the black studies program at Birmingham City University, said in a phone interview. "You're three times more likely to be killed by the police if you're black, but the police don't kill that many people in Britain in general."

          So far this year, the police in Britain have shot and killed two people, compared with 564 in the United States.

          Britain has the largest prison population in Western Europe, and blacks are overrepresented. But even so, the incarceration rate is far lower than in the United States. Gun violence is also relatively rare in Britain; handguns were effectively prohibited after a 1996 massacre at a school in Scotland. Most police officers in the country do not carry guns.

          Because deadly encounters with the police are fairly rare, activists in Britain have tended to focus more on the treatment of black people in custody, like Sean Rigg, a 40-year-old musician who had schizophrenia and who died in a police station in Brixton in 2008; and Kingsley Burrell, a 29-year-old student who died in police custody in Birmingham in 2011.

          Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrated in London last month after the police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.

          When she took office as Britain's prime minister on July 13, Theresa May pledged to fight "burning injustice" and to "make Britain a country that works for everyone," noting that "if you're black, you're treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you're white."

          In her previous position, as home secretary, Ms. May reduced the prevalence of "stop and search" (what Americans call "stop and frisk"), a policing practice that she denounced as ineffective and unjust, saying that people were often subject to scrutiny on no other basis than their skin color.

          But Gus John, a black educator and activist who immigrated to Britain from Grenada as a young man, described Ms. May's speech as "a bit rich," noting that she was in charge of domestic security and policing when Mr. Duggan died.

          "If society tacitly endorses racial injustice, and doesn't see the matter as one that faces the country as a whole but simply as episodes that the black community has got to deal with, it is not just legitimate but necessary to take the struggle to them," Mr. John said, adding that he "absolutely" supported the protests.

          Blacks account for about 3 percent of Britain's population, compared with nearly 13 percent in the United States.

          While people of African origin have lived in Britain for centuries, large-scale black migration began with people from the Caribbean after World War II, followed by an influx from former British colonies in Africa, especially Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.



          6) Must demand that the nuclear-armed states disarm

          By Jacqueline Cabasso, Marylia Kelley and Tom Webb

          Friday, August 5, 2016 • Page A10 • Op-ed



          Many Americans are not aware that about 15,000 nuclear weapons, most orders of magnitude more powerful that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, more than 90 percent held by the U.S. and Russia, continue to pose an intolerable threat to humanity.____

          In August 1945, the United States ushered in the nuclear age with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, incinerating tens of thousands of children, women and men in an instant. By the end of 1945, more than 210,000 people were dead. More than 90 percent of the doctors and nurses in Hiroshima were killed or injured. The survivors, their children and grandchildren continue to suffer physical, psychological and sociological effects of the bombings. Health effects caused by genetic damage to future generations are still unfolding 

          In July 1946, the United States began a series of 67 nuclear test explosions over the Marshall Islands, detonating the equivalent of 1.7 Hiroshima-sized bombs daily for 12 years. The largest, the 15-megaton Bravo shot, turned the sky blood red for hundreds of miles. Birth defects never seen before and other radiation-related health effects continue to plague the Marshallese people 

          In 1951, the U.S. also opened a nuclear testing range on Western Shoshone ancestral land 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, spreading fallout across cities like St. George, Utah, and tracked as far as New York. The U.S. government has linked testing in Nevada to domestic cancers and other health problems 

          Lasting health and genetic effects are not the only nuclear dangers that remain today. Many Americans are not aware that about 15,000 nuclear weapons, most orders of magnitude more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, more than 90 percent held by the U.S. and Russia, continue to pose an intolerable threat to humanity. And the dangers of wars among nuclear-armed nations are growing 

          Nuclear weapons have again taken center stage in confrontations between the U.S., its NATO allies and Russia. Tensions have been intensified -- potentially catastrophically -- by the brandishing of nuclear arms by both sides 

          The conflict in Europe is only one of several potential nuclear flashpoints, with new tensions and arms-racing from the Western Pacific to South Asia. In Syria, the U.S., Russia and France -- three nuclear-armed nations -- are bombing side-by-side and on different sides. An accidental or intentional military incident could send the world spiraling into nuclear confrontation 

          Further, the U.S. plans to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize its nuclear bombs and warheads, the submarines, missiles and bombers needed to deliver them, and the infrastructure to sustain the nuclear enterprise indefinitely.

          At the nearby Livermore Lab, scientists are modifying a new warhead for a new long-range standoff weapon capable of launching a nuclear sneak attack.

          Recognizing these growing dangers, the Republic of the Marshall Islands stepped forward to challenge the nuclear-armed states in the International Court of Justice and U.S. federal court for their failure to disarm as required by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and customary international law.

          Other international initiatives to achieve nuclear weapons abolition are gaining momentum. Locally, a growing number of peace and justice advocates and their allies are opposing new weapons activities in Livermore and globally.

          On Tuesday, the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, people will gather at Livermore Lab to call on the nuclear-armed states to disarm now. Nagasaki A-bomb survivor Nobuaki Hanaoka will share his experience and insights. International lawyer John Burroughs will discuss the Marshall Islands' lawsuits. The 8 a.m. rally will be followed by a procession to the gates and nonviolent direct action.

          Jacqueline Cabasso is executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation in Oakland.

          Marylia Kelley is executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs in Livermore.

          Tom Webb is regional coordinator Pax Christi Northern California.



          7)  Chicago Releases Videos From Police Officers' Killing of 18-Year-Old

          AUG. 5, 2016




          CHICAGO — An agency that investigates Chicago police conduct released dramatic videos on Friday showing two officers firing their guns at a fleeing stolen car in a fast-paced, chaotic clash last week that led to another officer fatally shooting an unarmed 18-year-old black man in the back.

          The videos were taken on July 28 from police body cameras and dashboard cameras, with some of the images jumbled as the officers ran, and the sound punctuated by gunfire and the officers' own shouting and labored breathing. They show two officers firing at least 10 rounds in the span of three or four seconds at a stolen Jaguar after it narrowly missed hitting one of the officers.

          Seconds later, the Jaguar crashed head-on into a police S.U.V. and an occupant of the stolen car, Paul O'Neal, fled on foot. He disappeared from view behind a house as officers gave chase, and then several more shots rang out. Shortly afterward, officers are seen gathering around Mr. O'Neal, handcuffing him as he lay on the ground, and talking to each other about what had just happened.

          What the videos do not show is the fatal shooting itself. The officer who shot Mr. O'Neal was wearing a body camera, but officials have said it was not recording; the Police Department said it was investigating whether the device was not turned on or if it had malfunctioned, and why. The medical examiner's office reported that he was shot in the back.

          After watching the videos with Mr. O'Neal's mother and sister, their lawyer, Michael Oppenheimer, called his death a murder.

          "We just came from watching Chicago police officers execute Paul O'Neal," he told reporters. "It is one of the most horrific things I have seen, aside from being in a movie. These police officers decided to play judge, jury and executioner."

          At a news conference later, Mr. O'Neal's sister, Briana Adams, 22, broke down repeatedly as she tried to talk about a brother she described as "everybody's best friend," who would cajole her out of a bad mood and had plans to go to a trade school. With tears streaming down her face, she said, "We just want answers, the truth, that's it."

          What the videos show is "shocking and disturbing," said Sharon Fairley, the chief administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority, the city agency that investigates reports of misconduct, and that released the videos.

          The city's police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, praised the agency for releasing the video and pledged the department's cooperation in the investigation. "My promise to the people of Chicago is that we will be guided by the facts and, should wrongdoing be discovered, individuals will be held accountable for their actions," he said in a statement.

          Mr. Oppenheimer charged that the absence of a recording from the officer who shot Mr. O'Neal was intentional, part of a cover-up by the officers, and he called for a special prosecutor to take over the investigation immediately.

          The shooting is another blow to a city already suffering from high crime and mistrust between the police and black residents, and a setback for a department that is trying to shed a reputation for excessive force and secrecy. Still, the release of the video eight days after a shooting marks a striking turn for a department and a watchdog agency that have long been accused of withholding information about police misconduct.

          The three officers who fired their guns were stripped of police authority pending an investigation — an unusually swift response, and harsher than ones the department has taken in the past. Mr. Johnson said the videos indicated the officers may have violated departmental policy.

          Dean C. Angelo, Sr., president of the local police union, called for a careful, impartial review of what occurred. "While there are multiple aspects to consider pertaining to the released videos, it is important to be mindful of how rapidly this event unfolded," he said in a written statement. "While this case remains fluid in nature, it is of critical importance to every Chicagoan to not rush to judgment and to allow the systems in place to play out."

          Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Police Department, said department officials would not specify what the officers might have done wrong because it is the police review agency's job to make such determinations.

          But in 2015, a department policy was revised to restrict circumstances in which officers may fire their guns into a moving car. The new rule bars officers from shooting into a vehicle when the vehicle is the only threat against them; in this case, the officers kept firing after the car had passed them.

          In firing at the car, the officers were also firing in the direction of the police S.U.V. the Jaguar collided with moments later. That raises the possibility that the officers in the S.U.V. thought they were being shot at.

          The officers' own recorded conversations after the shooting hint at how unclear the picture might have been. "Who was that shooting in the alley?" one asks.

          "They shot at us, too, right?" an officer asks.

          At one point, an officer laments, "I'm going to be on the desk for 30 goddamn days now."

          "I shot him," the officer says. Pointing at another officer, he says, "He almost hit him."

          For more than a year, the city refused to make public video of an officer shooting Laquan McDonald, 17, releasing it in November only after being ordered to by a judge. Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Mr. McDonald 16 times, has been charged with murder.

          That video caused an uproar in Chicago and around the country, as Mr. McDonald joined a long list of black people whose deaths at the hands of the police have prompted a national debate about law enforcement and race relations. The angry reaction to his death, and the Chicago Police Department's handling of it, became a political crisis for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, spurred promises of reforms, and prompted the mayor to fire the previous police superintendent, Garry McCarthy.

          The city later adopted a policy that video of police shootings should be made public within 60 days, and even by that standard, the release in the O'Neal case was remarkably quick.

          In a statement, Mr. Emanuel noted a shift. "I support Superintendent Johnson's quick and decisive action over the past eight days, which I believe underscores the fundamental change in how the city handles police shootings," he said. "I know Sharon Fairley is already investigating this case, and I have faith that she will reach a conclusion and issue recommendations with all deliberate speed."

          As video recording has become ubiquitous, it has come to be seen as the ultimate evidence when there are charges of police misconduct. But many cases have shown that the evidence can be murky and subject to differing interpretations, and even when police critics think the evidence is clear, it often does not lead to prosecution of the officers.

          Ms. Fairley, in a statement, urged people to remember that the video is just one among many pieces of evidence "to be gathered and analyzed when conducting a fair and thorough assessment of the conduct of police officers in performing their duties."

          On the evening he was killed, Mr. O'Neal was riding in a Jaguar convertible that had been reported stolen, driving through the city's South Side about 7:30 p.m. It was still daylight. The car was chased by the police through a neighborhood of well-kept houses.

          Two officers in an S.U.V. who joined the chase turned a corner and found themselves headed straight toward the stolen car.

          They fired at the car as it passed and sped away, just before it hit the other S.U.V. They then joined the chase through backyards to the back entrance of a home where Mr. O'Neal, his back soaked in blood beneath a backpack, lay dead or dying.



          8)  Security Force of 85,000 Fills Rio, Unsettling Rights Activists

          AUG. 7, 2016


          RIO DE JANEIRO — If battling pickpockets were an Olympic sport at the current Summer Games, the Brazilian authorities might qualify for a medal.

          In the face of soaring street crime, the state government has deployed a security force of 85,000 in Rio de Janeiro, among them 23,000 soldiers who stand sentinel at busy intersections or cruise the streets in military jeeps, their weapons aimed menacingly at the sidewalk.

          In one of the more intriguing displays, a Brazilian naval ship has been patrolling along the city's famed Ipanema Beach.

          Still, the overwhelming show of force has not exactly vanquished crime. The chief of security for the opening ceremony was mugged at knife point on Friday night as he left Olympic Stadium; a stray bullet landed in the equestrian arena's media tent on Saturday, just missing a New Zealand sports official; and on Saturday night, Portugal's education minister was assaulted as he strolled along Rio's upscale lagoon, the site of the rowing competition.

          In their preparation for the Olympics, Brazilian officials confronted a number of challenges that had spooked some international visitors, including fears over the Zika epidemic, the threat of terrorist attacksand unflattering news media reports that drew attention to the city's polluted waters.

          But it is the recent surge in street crime that has most unnerved city officials and residents, who worry that an embarrassing spike in lawlessness could dent the pride and euphoria that have taken hold here since the Summer Games began last week.

          Despite the most recent episodes, including a bomb scare Saturday near the finish line of a men's cycling race, most visitors and residents say they feel safe. "This must be the safest place in Brazil right now," said Isabela Carvalho, 46, an ice cream vendor, as military police officers sped by on motorcycles, sirens wailing.

          But the show of force has also drawn criticism from human rights activists who fear that overly aggressive policing might lead to abuses, especially in the city's low-income communities, known as favelas.

          Last week, a joint police and military operation in one such neighborhood, Complexo do Alemão, left two people dead.

          Still, many Cariocas, as residents are called, are most concerned with ordinary street crime, which the Brazilian authorities had vowed to address in their successful 2009 bid to host the Games.

          There were nearly 11,000 street robberies in June, an 81 percent increase from the same month last year. Experts say, moreover, that many crimes go unreported by victims who assume the police will make little effort to solve them.

          Budget shortfalls have hampered the authorities as they try to combat violence between drug traffickers and the police that terrorizes many of the city's poorest residents.

          "The tension is palpable," Meg Healy, 24, an American living in Rio, said before the Games got underway. In June, Ms. Healy, an urban planner, was mugged at knife point; four days later, a boy who she says appeared to be no older than 7 tried to grab her bag a few steps from her apartment.

          Other recent crime victims include Fernando Echavarri, a Spanish sailing gold medalist, and Liesl Tesch, an Australian Paralympic sailor, who were mugged at gunpoint. In the days before the Games began, Jamaican athletes staying close to the airport reported gunfire throughout the night.

          Officials have sought to reassure visitors, pointing out that the security force is more than twice the number dispatched during the London Olympics of 2012. They also note that Rio has successfully hosted other large sporting events, including the 2014 World Cup.

          The city's security woes have been exacerbated by a severe budget crunch, which has hampered the government's ability to pay police officers. The sense of crisis was underscored in June, when the state government declared a "financial calamity."

          In recent weeks, police officers who said their salaries had been delayed or only partially paid demonstrated at Rio's international airport, holding up signs for arriving passengers that read, "Welcome to hell."

          Fábio Neira, a civil police commissioner, said the late paychecks had dampened morale. "This creates a huge financial difficulty for us because you have to pay your bills, electricity and rent at the beginning of the month," he said in an interview.

          Although the federal government subsequently provided an $850 million bailout to pay for security costs during the Games, Mr. Neira said the money did not cover overtime worked in May or June.

          Working conditions remain abysmal, he added, noting that some police stations lacked pens, toilet paper or money for gas.

          Although the Brazilian news media tends to focus on brazen street robberies or violence that occurs in the city's wealthier neighborhoods, experts say Rio's poor residents bear the brunt of increased crime.

          Professor Julita Lemgruber, the coordinator of the Center for Studies on Public Security and Citizenship at Candido Mendes University in Rio, said the rise in street crime was partly tied to failed efforts to improve public security in the city's favelas.

          In 2008, the State of Rio de Janeiro began an ambitious initiative, creating Police Pacification Units, which were responsible for combating drug gangs that had been operating with impunity. The program, which also relies on community policing and social work, is cited in Olympic documents as an important factor in addressing the city's longstanding security concerns.

          Atila Roque, the executive director of Amnesty International in Brazil, said the program was riddled with abuse and had exacerbated tensions between the police and residents, some of whom have called for an end to the effort.

          Last year, the police were responsible for 20 percent of the city's homicides, according to Amnesty International, which used data from the state's Public Security Institute. There were 645 police killings last year, compared with 400 in 2013. The number of those who died at the hands of the police between April and June of this year doubled from the same period last year, according to the data.

          Most of the dead were young black men.

          One of the communities hit hard by police violence is Maré, a sprawling favela between Rio's international airport and the affluent neighborhoods of Ipanema and Copacabana. The authorities have long struggled to contain the violence spawned by warring drug traffickers and militia groups. In the months before the World Cup, the army occupied the community for a year.

          Eliana Sousa Silva, who was raised in Maré and is the founder of a local nonprofit group, said police operations there became more frequent as the Olympics approached. Late last month, journalists living in the neighborhood reported three straight days of police operations that involved heavy gunfire.

          "The Olympics, like the World Cup and other mega events in Rio, are always a tense moment for residents of Maré," she said, adding that police operations are often heavy handed. "The government needs to ensure nothing happens, in order to show Rio to the world."

          This year is no different. Some of the soldiers dispatched to the city have been stationed at the entrances to favelas. Others have been arrayed along highways to form so-called security corridors.

          Mr. Roque of Amnesty International said he worried about military personnel operating with impunity.

          "What we're seeing in public security is against the whole principle of the Olympics, the spirit of the Olympics," he said. "Violence should not be a part of the Games."



          9)  Jury Trials Vanish, and Justice Is Served Behind Closed Doors

          AUG. 7, 2016





          The criminal trial ended more than two and a half years ago, but Judge Jesse M. Furman can still vividly recall the case. It stands out, not because of the defendant or the subject matter, but because of its rarity: In his four-plus years on the bench in Federal District Court in Manhattan, it was his only criminal jury trial.

          He is far from alone.

          Judge J. Paul Oetken, in half a decade on that bench, has had four criminal trials, including one that was repeated after a jury deadlocked. For Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who has handled some of the nation's most important terrorism cases, it has been 18 months since his last criminal jury trial.

          "It's a loss," Judge Kaplan said, "because when one thinks of the American system of justice, one thinks of justice being administered by juries of our peers. And to the extent that there's a decline in criminal jury trials, that is happening less frequently."

          The national decline in trials, both criminal and civil, has been noted in law journal articles, bar association studies and judicial opinions. But recently, in the two federal courthouses in Manhattan and a third in White Plains (known collectively as the Southern District of New York), the vanishing of criminal jury trials has never seemed so pronounced.

          The Southern District held only 50 criminal jury trials last year, the lowest since 2004, according to data provided by the court. The pace remains slow this year.

          In 2005, records show, there were more than double the number of trials: 106. And decades ago, legal experts said, the numbers were much higher.

          "It's hugely disappointing," said Judge Jed S. Rakoff, a 20-year veteran of the Manhattan federal bench. "A trial is the one place where the system really gets tested. Everything else is done behind closed doors."

          Legal experts attribute the decline primarily to the advent of the congressional sentencing guidelines and the increased use of mandatory minimum sentences, which transferred power to prosecutors, and discouraged defendants from going to trial, where, if convicted, they might face harsher sentences.

          "This is what jury trials were supposed to be a check against — the potential abuse of the use of prosecutorial power," said Frederick P. Hafetz, a defense lawyer and a former chief of the criminal division of the United States attorney's office in Manhattan, who is researching the issue of declining trials.

          Julia L. Gatto, a federal public defender, recalled the case of Oumar Issa, a Malian arrested in Africa in a 2009 sting operation on charges of narco-terrorism conspiracy, which carried a mandatory minimum 20-year sentence, and conspiring to support a terrorist organization, which had no minimum.

          Although Ms. Gatto and her client believed that elements of the case were weak and that there were strongly mitigating circumstances, Mr. Issa concluded that the risk of going to trial was too high. He pleaded guilty in 2012 to material support, with prosecutors dropping the other charge. He received 57 months in prison. "It was the only thing he could do," Ms. Gatto said. "His hands were tied."

          In 1997, according to federal courts data nationwide, 3,200 of 63,000 federal defendants were convicted in jury trials; in 2015, there were only 1,650 jury convictions, out of 81,000 defendants.

          Former Judge John Gleeson, who in March stepped down from the federal bench in Brooklyn to enter private practice, noted in a 2013 court opinion that 81 percent of federal convictions in 1980 were the product of guilty pleas; in one recent year, the figure was 97 percent.

          Judge Gleeson wrote that because most pleas are negotiated before a prosecutor prepares a case for trial, the "thin presentation" of evidence needed for indictment "is hardly ever subjected to closer scrutiny by prosecutors, defense counsel, judges or juries."

          "The entire system loses an edge," he added, "and I have no doubt that the quality of justice in our courthouses has suffered as a result."

          While the decline in jury trials in federal court has been felt by judges, lawyers and defendants, it has also disrupted the rhythm of the courthouse ecosystem and those who depend on it.

          Young lawyers typically become clerks for Southern District judges to gain valuable trial experience; now, some clerks depart without having worked a single trial.

          Even the court's stenographers, whose incomes depend partially on the number of transcript pages they produce, feel the impact.

          "It's been awful," said Rebecca Forman, who said she transcribed her last criminal jury trial in November 2015. "I didn't send my kids to camp this summer. I didn't have the money."

          New York State Court data also shows a striking decline in felony jury trials. In 1984, there were over 4,000 jury verdicts; in 2015, there were fewer than half of that.

          Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, speaking to a lawyers group in 2012, cited another effect of the decline: fewer Americans serving on juries. "When trials vanish, citizenship also suffers," Mr. Bharara said, according to his prepared remarks.

          Beyond the statistics, though, the decline in trials in the Southern District has become a frequent topic of discussion, even among judges themselves.

          "We'd love to have more trials; most of us enjoy trials," said Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who joined the bench in 1998.

          In April, when Judge Shira A. Scheindlin resigned from the bench after more than two decades, she said the decrease in trials was one consideration for her departure. "Trials are way, way down," she said. "The building's quite dead."

          Judge P. Kevin Castel, who helped to organize the court's 225th anniversary celebration in 2014, recalled taking a friend, Mary Noe, a legal studies professor at St. John's University, to see an exhibit of courtroom illustrations documenting Southern District trial scenes of past decades. But as they reached the end, Professor Noe observed that the sketches of more recent defendants, like Bernard L. Madoff and the would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad showed them pleading guilty.

          "I was like, what happened to the trials?" she recalled.

          Judge Analisa Torres said she had felt the difference ever since joining the federal bench in 2013. Judge Torres, a former state court judge who handled about two dozen criminal trials a year in Manhattan and the Bronx, said she has since had just a few such trials. "It's day and night," she said.

          On the state bench, she said, she spent her entire day in the courtroom but for the lunch hour. "Now, I am in chambers all day long."

          The hallowed jury trial is a right enshrined in the Constitution and immortalized in American culture. But these days, said Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School, "'12 Angry Men' is more a cultural concept than a regular happening."

          To be sure, federal judges are not exactly sitting on their hands. They maintain dockets filled with civil and criminal cases that wend their way through the process — even if most are resolved without a trial.

          As for Judge Furman, he is still waiting for his second criminal jury trial since becoming a judge in 2012. He almost had one earlier this year, but a scheduling conflict with a civil trial meant he had to pass it to another judge.

          Another criminal trial loomed this summer. Then it, too, disappeared from the calendar, as the defendant pleaded guilty.

          It meant he would have more time to get other work done in chambers, Judge Furman recalled, and there was plenty of that to do.

          "But there's a tinge," he added wistfully, "of what might have been, that we thought we had one, but it got away."



          10)  Minorities Suffer From Unequal Pain Treatment

          AUG. 9, 2016





          TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Roslyn Lewis was at work at a dollar store here in Tuscaloosa, pushing a heavy cart of dog food, when something popped in her back: an explosion of pain. At the emergency room the next day, doctors gave her Motrin and sent her home.

          Her employer paid for a nerve block that helped temporarily, numbing her lower back, but she could not afford more injections or physical therapy. A decade later, the pain radiates to her right knee and remains largely unaddressed, so deep and searing that on a recent day she sat stiffly on her couch, her curtains drawn, for hours.

          The experience of African-Americans, like Ms. Lewis, and other minorities illustrates a problem as persistent as it is complex: Minorities tend to receive less treatment for pain than whites, and suffer more disability as a result.

          While an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse has swept across the United States, African-Americans and Hispanics have been affected at much lower rates than whites. Researchers say minority patients use fewer opioids, and they offer a thicket of possible explanations, including a lack of insurance coverage and a greater reluctance among members of minority groups to take opioid painkillers even if they are prescribed. But the researchers have also found evidence of racial bias and stereotyping in recognizing and treating pain among minorities, particularly black patients.

          "We've done a good job documenting that these disparities exist," said Salimah Meghani, a pain researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. "We have not done a good job doing something about them."

          Dr. Meghani's 2012 analysis of 20 years of published research found that blacks were 34 percent less likely than whites to be prescribed opioids for conditions such as backaches, abdominal pain and migraines, and 14 percent less likely to receive opioids for pain from traumatic injuries or surgery.

          Other studies have found that pharmacies in poor but largely white neighborhoods were 54 times as likely than those in poor minority neighborhoods to have adequate supplies of opioids, and that white children with appendicitis were almost three times as likely as black children to receive opioids in the emergency room. Black children were more likely to receive less potent, nonnarcotic medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, even after adjusting for pain level and other factors. And new research published this week found that blacks have significantly lower odds than whites of receiving opioids when they visit an emergency room for "nondefinitive" back or abdominal pain.

          Adam Hirsh, a pain researcher at Indiana University, said he had often heard what might be called a silver-lining argument: that even if blacks have been unequally treated for pain, they have largely been spared from opioid addiction. That argument does not sit well with him.

          "We may agree that opioids can be harmful and that fewer of them may be a good thing," Dr. Hirsh said. "But we should not ignore that black and white patients are getting treated differently."

          He and other researchers say the reasons may include false stereotypes, such as the assumption that blacks are more likely to abuse drugs, as well as a tendency for doctors to empathize less with patients whose race is different from their own — perhaps subconsciously — and to underestimate the severity of their pain. Only about 4 percent of the country's practicing physicians are black.

          Ms. Lewis, 50, ended up at a health center in Tuscaloosa, Whatley Health Services, which has clinics in six counties — some predominantly black, others heavily white. Deborah Tucker, Whatley's chief executive, said the clinics' white rural patients were the most likely to ask for and abuse opioids.

          "I'm not sure how to explain it," she said.

          Of course, minorities do get prescriptions for opioids, and some become addicted. Overdose deaths involving opioids are increasing across races and ethnicities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But in 2014, 71 out of every million white Americans died of overdoses involving prescription opioids, compared with 33 out of every million blacks.

          Doctors in Alabama prescribe opioid painkillers at a higher rate than their counterparts in any other state, according to the C.D.C. Nobody tracks how those prescriptions are allocated by race. But payment datafrom Medicare, the government program that covers people 65 and older as well as some with disabilities, shows that in all but one of Alabama's majority-black counties, the rate of opioid prescribing is below the state average. Four of the five Alabama counties with the lowest rates of opioid prescribing for Medicare patients are at least two-thirds black, according to census data.

          Dr. Gerold Sibanda, a primary care doctor in rural Greensboro, Ala., said he viewed unequal treatment of pain in black patients as a real problem.

          "l meet patients who are changing doctors because 'I'm still in pain,'" said Dr. Sibanda, who works for Whatley Health Services. "And when I ask, sometimes they haven't been tried on what you would think would be traditional medications — nonnarcotic, even — for whatever their pain is."

          Whatley also provides care to inmates at the Tuscaloosa County Jail, and is caught up in a lawsuit filed in May by the family of a black inmate who died of a perforated ulcer, according to the suit, after his complaints of severe pain were ignored for days. Dr. Sibanda is not implicated in the lawsuit.

          Several patients, including Ms. Lewis, said they thought that doctors had mistreated them, but that it had happened because they were poor or uninsured, not because they were black.

          "I don't think it's prejudice," said Rita Evans, 57, a black former factory worker in Winfield, Ala., with a bulging disc in her back and a pinched nerve in her neck. "I think it's the money."

          Ms. Evans, who often sleeps sitting up to keep immobilizing neck painat bay, said her doctor had prescribed muscle relaxants and a nonnarcotic drug for her nerve pain. She said that she knew plenty of people who got opioids from pain clinics, but that with no income or insurance, she could not get in the door. Instead, she said, "you talk yourself through it or pray on it."

          Dr. Carmen R. Green, an anesthesiologist, pain medicine specialist and University of Michigan professor who has studied treatment disparities for years, said that "the role of race is more important, although race and class often interact."

          One study, in 2004, found that workers' compensation programs spent less to treat blacks with lower back injuries, and that the treatment periods for blacks were shorter, regardless of income level.

          "Our data pretty clearly say it's a race issue," said Raymond Tait, a pain researcher at St. Louis University in Missouri and co-author of the 2004 study. "Our take on this was that during active treatment, we believe negative stereotypes impact clinical decision-making."

          Gwendolyn Jones, a former grocery store manager in Birmingham, Ala., said she had to wait two years for back surgery, and two more to see a pain management specialist, after being injured on the job in 2008. She does not attribute the delay to racial bias, she said, but believes it led to a worse outcome.

          Her disc surgery in 2010 did not work, she said, and the drugs her pain specialist has prescribed, including methadone and hydrocodone, do not help much, either.

          "If they had gone ahead and done the surgery right away," said Ms. Jones, 49, who is black, "then I may have been able to go back to work."

          Ms. Lewis, the former dollar store employee, said the best balm for her pain had been 10 weeks of group cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to help people change how they think about pain. The therapy was part of a study of low-income patients led by Beverly E. Thorn, a University of Alabama psychology professor, to see how the therapy relieved pain compared with only medical treatment. The participants were patients at Whatley, a partner in the study, and about 70 percent were black.

          According to Dr. Thorn's preliminary findings, the group that received cognitive behavioral therapy had significantly less pain and fewer depressive symptoms afterward than a control group that got medical treatment.

          "It's about triggering your brain to go to something else, other than the pain," Ms. Lewis said.

          But the study ended last year, and Ms. Lewis's pain remains so bad that she often relies on a cane borrowed from her aunt, dragging her right leg behind her. She recently learned that she qualified for Medicaidbecause she had no steady income and was caring for a teenage son. With insurance, she was finally able to start physical therapy last month.

          "I feel proud of myself that I finally got something to go for," she said, "instead of complaining and complaining about the pain, not being able to do something about it."



          11)  Justice Department to Release Blistering Report of Racial Bias by Baltimore Police

          AUG. 9, 2016

          "Dayvon Love, 29, a founder of the Baltimore advocacy group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, said that changes would come only when civilians have a say in whether officers should face punishment."




          The Justice Department has found that the Baltimore Police Department for years has hounded black residents who make up most of the city's population, systematically stopping, searching and arresting them, often with little provocation or rationale.

          In a blistering report, coming more than a year after Baltimore erupted into riots over the police-involved death of a 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray, the Justice Department is sharply critical of policies that encouraged police officers to charge black residents with minor crimes. A copy of the report was obtained by The New York Times.

          The critique is the latest example of the Obama administration's aggressive push for police reforms in cities where young African-American men have died at the hands of law enforcement.

          The findings, to be released Wednesday, are the first formal step toward the Justice Department's reaching a settlement with Baltimore — known as a "consent decree" — in which police practices would be overhauled under the oversight of a federal judge. The department started the inquiry at the invitation of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

          To show how officers disproportionately stopped black pedestrians, the report cited the example of a black man in his mid-50s who was stopped 30 times in less than four years. None of the stops led to a citation or criminal charge. Black residents, the report said, accounted for 95 percent of the 410 individuals stopped at least 10 times in the five and a half years of data reviewed.

          The most pronounced racial disparities were in arrests for the most discretionary offenses: For example, 91 percent of those arrested solely for "failure to obey" or "trespassing" were African-American, even though the city is 63 percent black, the report found.

          In one telling anecdote from the report, a shift commander provided officers with boilerplate language on how to write up trespassing arrest reports of people found near housing projects. The template contained an automatic description of the arrestee: "A BLACK MALE."

          "The supervisor's template thus presumes that individuals arrested for trespassing will be African-American," the report stated, describing the sort of detentions the language was intended to facilitate as "facially unconstitutional."

          The report indicated that the frequency of arrests without probable cause was reflected in the fact that booking supervisors and prosecutors had declined to file charges, after arrests by their own officers, more than 11,000 times since 2010.

          Two weeks ago, Maryland prosecutors dropped charges against the last of six officers charged in the April 2015 death of Mr. Gray, who sustained a fatal spinal cord injury while in custody. With that, Baltimore joined a growing list of cities where police-involved deaths sparked outrage, and even riots, yet no one was held accountable in court.

          While no consent decree has been reached, the report states that the city and the Justice Department have agreed in principle to identify "categories of reforms the parties agree must be taken to remedy the violations of the Constitution and federal law described in this report."

          "I don't think at this point, it's about justice for Freddie Gray anymore," said Ray Kelly, a director of the No Boundaries Coalition, a West Baltimore group that provided its own report on police abuses to the Justice Department. "Now it's about justice for our community, for our people."

          City Councilman Brandon Scott, vice chairman of the council committee that oversees the department, said the next fight could be over how to pay for the police overhaul.

          Baltimore is among nearly two dozen cities that the Obama administration has investigated after they were accused of widespread unconstitutional policing. Using its broad latitude to enforce civil rights laws, the Justice Department has demanded wholesale change in how cities conduct policing. In several cities, including Seattle; Cleveland; and Ferguson, Mo., those investigations began in the aftermath of a high-profile death that sparked protests and in some cases riots.

          Police chiefs, prosecutors and experts say the investigations have forced cities to address longstanding, entrenched issues far beyond the targeted cities.

          "Chiefs are constantly looking at these reports, not just to learn lessons and best practices from each other, but also what pitfalls we can avoid," said Scott Thomson, the police chief in Camden, N.J., who is also the president of the Police Executive Research Forum.

          But court-ordered reform can take years, which does little to ease the frustration of activists who say that police officers too often go unpunished for deadly encounters with unarmed people.

          Dayvon Love, 29, a founder of the Baltimore advocacy group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, said that changes would come only when civilians have a say in whether officers should face punishment. Mr. Love described frustrating meetings with Justice Department officials — including Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.

          "I was very skeptical and not really that enthused about meeting with them," Mr. Love said. At one point, he said, he asked Ms. Lynch what she could do to change state law and give civilians more power over the police. "She said what I figured she'd say, which is that from her position as attorney general, she can't really do anything about it."

          The Supreme Court has given police officers wide latitude in how they can use deadly force, which makes prosecuting them difficult, even in the killing of unarmed people. For the Justice Department to charge an officer with a federal crime, the bar is even higher. Prosecutors must show that the officer willfully violated someone's civil rights.

          State and federal investigators cleared the officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson and those who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland. Federal prosecutors are still debating whether to bring charges in the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island. Local prosecutors did not.

          In Baltimore, black residents have been complaining for years of systematic abuse by the department. When the city's top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, failed to get any convictions in Mr. Gray's death, many in the city's poorest African-American neighborhoods were not surprised.

          After the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, Congress gave the Justice Department the power to investigate police departments for patterns of civil rights violations. The Obama administration has used that authority more aggressively than any other. Prosecutors are enforcing consent decrees on police departments in 14 cities.

          "We tend to confront systemic problems only when forced to by seemingly extraordinary events," Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department's top civil rights prosecutor, said last year.

          In Seattle, the investigation followed an officer's shooting of a Native American woodcarver in 2010. The shooting was ruled unjustified, but prosecutors said they could not meet the legal standard to file charges. The federal authorities, however, found a pattern of excessive force and ordered the Police Department to provide better training and oversight. In recent years, the Justice Department has held Seattle up as an example of how cities can best respond to scathing investigations.

          In other cities, the changes are just beginning. After months of arguing and delay, officials in Ferguson accepted a settlement in March that will force the city to change its policies on when officers can use stun guns, shoot at cars and stop pedestrians. Officials in Cleveland agreed in Mayto follow strict new standards governing how and when its officers can use force.

          The report is sure to fuel a broader debate on aggressive policing practices, as it blames much of Baltimore's woes on so-called "zero-tolerance" policies adopted in the late 1990s. They were aimed at anyone on the streets whom officers viewed as suspect, making heavy use of stop-and-frisk and other confrontation techniques.

          But the approach, the report found, "led to repeated violations of the constitutional and statutory rights, further eroding the community's trust in the police."

          While Baltimore officials have sought to curb the most extreme zero-tolerance policies, the legacy of the strategy continues to vex the department.

          One example the report cited was a police sergeant who recently posted on Facebook that the "solution to the murder rate is easy: flex cuffs and a line at" the central booking office, made up of people arrested on charges of loitering.



          12)  Woman Is Accidentally Killed by Police Officer Playing 'Bad Guy' at Training Academy in Florida

          AUG. 10, 2016




          A woman was accidentally shot and killed in Punta Gorda, Fla., by a police officer in a role-play exercise at a citizens training academy meant to help members of the community understand law enforcement tactics, the authorities said on Tuesday.

          Chief Thomas P. Lewis of the Punta Gorda Police Department said at a news conference late Tuesday that the woman, Mary Knowlton, 73, had been killed in a "horrible accident" at the training session hosted by the department earlier that day.

          The chief did not name the officer or address why he used live rounds in the training session.

          Ms. Knowlton was one of about 35 residents who had attended the session. She and another participant were randomly selected to participate in "shoot/don't shoot" scenarios, a role-play exercise intended to teach people how to make decisions when confronted with lethal force, Chief Lewis said.

          Ms. Knowlton was shot during the first scenario, the police said. The authorities did not say where she was shot or how many times, but Sue Paquin, a local photographer who was covering the event, told The News-Press in Fort Myers that the officer had fired several shots at Ms. Knowlton.

          According to a post by The Charlotte Sun on Facebook, the officer had been playing a "bad guy" in the scenario when he shot Ms. Knowlton.

          Ms. Knowlton was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, where she was pronounced dead.

          Chief Lewis said the officer who shot Ms. Knowlton has been placed on administrative leave and that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would conduct an investigation into the shooting.

          According to a Facebook pagebelonging to Ms. Knowlton, she was originally from Minnesota and had worked as a librarian.

          Shocked residents of Punta Gorda, a harbor town of about 16,000 people near Fort Myers, reacted to the shooting on Facebook. On Wednesday, a debate about whether the officer should have been armed was brewing on the Police Department's page.

          "An accident, really, so that makes it OK?" one observer noted. "Live rounds used in a citizens training exercise."

          The department had operated the scenarios as part of its training program for about two years without incident, Lt. Katie R. Heck, a public information officer, said in an email.



          13)   Legislators Take Aim at New Jersey Student Loan Program's Tough Tactics

          AUG. 8, 2016




          Almost a dozen people with harrowing experiences with New Jersey's controversial student loan program testified on Monday before state lawmakers, detailing its aggressive collection tactics and onerous terms that some said had ruined them financially.

          "Hesaa destroyed my family," Tracey Timony, referring to the state's Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, said at a hearing before the Higher Education and Legislative Oversight Committees of the New Jersey State Senate.

          Ms. Timony had co-signed on her daughter's loans totaling $140,000. After her daughter defaulted, Ms. Timony was sued by one of the agency's collection firms and has since declared bankruptcy to get more manageable monthly payments.

          The hearing was prompted by an investigation published last month by ProPublica and The New York Times into the agency, which runs the largest state-based student loan program in the country, with nearly $2 billion in outstanding loans.

          The agency charges higher interest rates than similar federal programs, the investigation found, and has strikingly broad collection powers. If borrowers fall behind on payments, the agency can garnish wages, seize tax refunds and revoke professional licenses, all without getting a court judgment.

          State legislators, who on Monday pushed forward two measures that would give a break to borrowers in the program, said they were troubled by the agency's tactics.

          "We need to end this program, start over from scratch and find ways of providing assistance for students so that they can get an education without it bankrupting them," said Senator Robert M. Gordon, a Democrat from northern New Jersey and the chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee.

          The agency's executive director, Gabrielle Charette, declined to testify at the hearing. Instead, she sent a letter to legislators, explaining that because the agency is currently conducting an internal review, it would be "premature" to testify on the concerns of borrowers and legislators. Ms. Charette added that the agency would brief the State Senate in the future.

          "We're disappointed that the agency didn't show up," Stephen M. Sweeney, a Democrat and president of the State Senate, said before the hearing.

          An executive from the agency had previously dismissed reporting from ProPublica and The Times as "one-sided," calling the investigation a "biased op-ed."

          As ProPublica and The Times have detailed, repayment of the state loans cannot be adjusted based on income, and borrowers — alongside their co-signers — are given few breaks, even when facing disability or death.

          A college graduate who defaulted on his loans after he learned he had cancer and lost his job was sued by the agency for more than $250,000. A mother who co-signed on her son's loans is continuing to pay off his debt, even after he was murdered.

          Several speakers at the hearing demanded the agency provide better assistance programs for struggling borrowers, specifically a rehabilitation program to help bring defaulted loans current.

          "The design of any responsible student loan program must address the needs of the most vulnerable borrowers," argued David McMillin, a lawyer with Legal Services of New Jersey, a nonprofit organization that provides free legal assistance to low-income state residents.

          Over the past five years, the agency has sued an increasing number of borrowers. In 2010, the agency filed fewer than 100 lawsuits against borrowers and their co-signers; last year, the number of suits rose to over 1,600.

          New Jersey's loan program is financed through tax-exempt bonds, which require the agency to keep losses to a minimum.

          "Were Hesaa not to utilize the tools provided by the Legislature, we would not be fulfilling our statutory requirements or our fiduciary duties to our bondholders," Marcia Karrow, the agency's chief of staff, said in response to previous questions from ProPublica and The Times.

          After the hearing, the Higher Education Committee passed a measure that would forgive the loans of deceased borrowers, sending the bill to the Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

          Under the proposed law, parents or guardians who co-sign loans for their children would no longer be held responsible for the loans if their children die. After the death of a borrower, a parent or guardian would have 120 days to provide the agency with a death certificate to get the loan forgiven.

          Legislators also proposed on Monday another measure that would require the agency to obtain a court order before seizing wages, rescinding tax refunds or suspending professional licenses of delinquent borrowers.

          "It will help the agency not just automatically destroy lives," said State Senator Sandra B. Cunningham, a Democrat from Jersey City, who is the chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee. "If it goes through the court system, there will have to be checks and balances with it that they don't have now."













































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