Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










Let's Re-ignite the Movement to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

From: Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

To: Organizations Concerned with Prisoner Rights, Racism, and Police Terror

Meeting, 6 pm Wed. Oct.12th, The Omni  4799 Shattuck (near 48th and 49th), Oakland

Dear Comrades and Friends,

We write to you in the midst of on-going struggles which unite us all: opposition to rampant police killings of Black men; freedom for political prisoners including former Black Panthers, Oscar Lopez Rivera and Leonard Peltier; opposition to the death penalty, life without parole, solitary confinement; big pharma price-gouging; immigrant deportations; the Standing Rock resistance to the destruction of both native lands and the environment; the Puerto Rican struggle against imperialist oppression; and defense of Palestinians from Zionist terror.  

We are writing to advocate joining together now in a renewed fight for freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. December 9, 2016 will be 35 years since the police tried to execute Mumia on the streets of Philadelphia and then framed him, with the complicity of the prosecution and the court, and sentenced him to death. It took international mass mobilization to prevent his execution. It is taking protest and publicity to keep him alive in prison and to get him treatment for his Hepatitis C. 

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision (Williams v. Pennsylvania) ruled that a prosecutor cannot later sit as judge over the same defendant. This is precedent setting for Mumia who has filed a new legal action based on the fact that Mumia's appeals of his conviction from 1998 on were denied by Justice Ronald Castille who was the Philadelphia District Attorney,—his prosecutor—during his first appeal. If successful, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rulings that upheld his conviction would be overturned. Mumia would be able to re-appeal the issues of his innocence, jury bias, falsified evidence to obtain a new trial, if not outright dismissal of charges.

It is unlikely that this new legal opportunity to win a court battle for Mumia's freedom will be repeated. We began the struggle for Mumia's freedom with the understanding that the fight for Mumia is one that encompasses the fight against capitalist, racist injustice from police street execution to the legal lynching of the death penalty, to frame-up convictions, mass incarceration, and all the horrors of the U.S. prison system. The fight for Mumia is a defense of those who stand in opposition to the policies of U.S. imperialism; it is a case of Black Lives Matter.

Mumia has never succumbed to the state's attempt to silence him. He is a beacon of light and hope for other prisoners across the US, as well as for all victims of imperialist war, racism and the "incarceration nation."

We support all legal actions in Mumia's defense but recognize that there is no justice in the capitalist courts. The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (LAC) focuses on mass and labor actions to free Mumia. Without such action, the new case for Mumia's freedom will—as similar attempts have before—be consigned to the "Mumia exception" judicial waste-bucket. We continue to work to get international labor support for Mumia's freedom and for Hep C treatment. Mumia's struggles, if supported by a mass movement can not only free him, but also help unite struggles of prisoners and other victims of the racist-imperialist-capitalist system throughout the world.

We support a renewed campaign to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. An event is planned for Philadelphia for December 9, 2016 initiated by the Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and the New York Campaign to Bring Mumia Home and a call is in the works.

Slogans being put forward for this event are:

Mumia is Innocent and Framed! Free Mumia, Now!

Abolish the Racist Death Penalty! End Solitary Confinement!  End Life Imprisonment without Parole! Quality Health Care for all Prisoners! Hep C Meds for All!

End Mass Incarceration! Black Lives Matter! No Stop and Frisk!

We ask you to join us in an effort to reignite the struggle to free Mumia, on all fronts.  We will look forward to seeing you for an organizing meeting at the Omni house, 6 pm October 12, 2016 to plan action here in the Bay Area.

Please call Carole 415 483-4428 or Bob at 510 595-7811 for more information.  See you on the 12th of October at the Omni!

In solidarity,

Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal




San Francisco Bay View

I'd like to nip this in the bud. I've been churning out appeals to state after state and prison after prison that rejected the last several Bay Views (different issues for different reasons, though prison strikes seem to scare them the most) and even winning a few, but this is California, and we can't let them get away with this here at home.

Though this rejection applies to only one prison, New Folsom, it's the one that's wired to the capitol -- and the guards' union, CCPOA, is still one of the most powerful lobbies there, not to mention the insatiable budget appetite of CDCr. So New Folsom is a bellwether; other California prisons will follow suit if New Folsom succeeds.

Their objection is to a story headlined "Sept. 9: Strike against prison slavery ..." You can read it here or the way it appears in the print edition here. The major media are calling this Sept. 9 strike the largest prison strike in history. Getting reports from inside is hard and slow, and the strike hasn't been covered as it should, but there's coverage by some mainstream press and by the major alternative outlets. CDCr is telling reporters that no California prisoner participated, but some prisoners say otherwise.

Officials at New Folsom who imagine they can stop word of this revolutionary movement at the California border are delusional. One of the men in a multi-state collaboration (and most of you seeing this know the towering obstacles to prisoner-with-prisoner collaboration) who hatched the idea for a nationwide protest against prison slavery about three years ago is from California; others in the core group are from Alabama, Texas and Ohio.

The recognition that the 13th Amendment permits actual slavery for prisoners is being feverishly discussed in cell blocks across the country, and a demand is growing to strike the "punishment clause" from it. Here's that clause: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." The great minds locked up in California will certainly have a lot to say about this, whether or not they participated in any kind of strike this month.

In Alabama, where three prisoners at Holman Prison, founders of the Free Alabama Movement, are the main organizers of the nationwide strike, they reported yesterday that the guards are coming to them and asking them to use their organizing magic to quell rebellion by those who haven't yet shaken their "criminal mentality" and have been attacking and even killing guards lately. So many guards have quit that those who remain are afraid to enter the dorms, and prisoners are doing count themselves.

But back to California, please put your great mind to ways we can resist these attacks on the Bay View. In August, you'll recall, the FBI released a bulletin blaming the Bay View for what they predicted would be a Black August blood bath for police and prison guards -- a bulletin leaked to and reported by KGO-ABC7. I remain convinced that California guards instigated the bulletin's targeting of the Bay View. But regardless, the FBI prediction was wrong.

The prediction in New Folsom's letter that the September Bay View would "disrupt the order, or breach the security" of New Folsom or any other prison is just as wrong. The prison's decision to censor needs to be appealed, and I'd love help with that. Would it also be effective, do you think, to ask people to call the warden? Any other suggestions?

One suggestion I've been making in appeals to censorship in other parts of the country is for prison officials to sit down with reps chosen by the prisoners and discuss their complaints and demands -- and actually address them. I tell them that California's doing that, and the prison admins and guards haven't suffered -- in fact, their budget is up once again. We could urge New Folsom to set up meetings like that.

Thanks to each and every one of you for caring that the Bay View survives and reaches its subscribers behind the walls, where, according to CDCr, it persuaded 30,000 California prisoners to participate in the 2013 hunger strike. Many of you know that we're currently hanging by a threadbare shoelace financially; if it breaks, CDCr can claim the victory. But if we're able to keep printing the paper, I'll be damned if CDCr gets away with censoring it.

P.S. That's an impressive list of subscribers New Folsom sent (see pages 2-3 of the letter), but it's not complete and I'm curious why they omitted people.

P.P.S. Enjoy one of Michael Russell's censorship masterpieces (attached). Let him remind us that the Bay View's role is not to make change but to encourage and enlighten prisoners and facilitate communication among them so they can organize and make change. We must convince New Folsom and prisons everywhere that change is inevitable and censoring the Bay View will not stop it.

--  Mary Ratcliff SF Bay View (415) 671-0789 www.sfbayview.com



Chelsea Manning Support Network

Chelsea faces charges related to suicice attempt

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Chelsea Manning ends 5 day hunger strike after Army agrees to medical treatment

Chelsea Manning ended her hunger strike today (Sept 13) after the Army finally agreed to treatment for her gender dysphoria.

"This is all that I wanted – for them to let me be me," said Chelsea Manning.

"But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long and why such drastic measures were needed in order to get this help that was recommended."

Chelsea was shown a memo today stating she will receive gender-reassignment surgery under the DoD's new policy affecting transgender service members.

If this occurs, Manning will be the first trans prisoner in the US to receive this treatment, setting a precedent that could benefit thousands of transgender inmates.

"This medical care is absolutely vital for Chelsea. It was the government's refusal to provide her with necessary care that led her to attempt suicide earlier this year," said Chase Strangio, Chelsea's attorney at the ACLU, "and it was all the more troubling when she became subject to an investigation and possible punishment in connection with the suicide attempt.

We hope that the government recognizes that charging Chelsea with the crime of being denied essential health care is outrageous and drops those charges." Read more here

Daniel Ellsberg, Michael Stipe protest
inhumane charges against Chelsea

After years of inhumane treatment from the Army, Chelsea Manning attempted to take her life on July 5th, 2016. 

If convicted of these absurd "administrative offenses", Chelsea could face indefinite solitary confinement for the rest of her prison term (30 years).

Daniel Ellsberg: "I stand with Chelsea Manning. I hope you will too."

Michael Stipe: "I support human rights for all people. As an American patriot it is my duty to stand with Chelsea Manning... This is unjustifiable. It is unfair, and it needs to be stopped." Read more and watch the videos

Chelsea will face a disciplinary board later this month, and could very likely be charged for her own suicide attempt. 

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

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          Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

          Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

          Dear Supporters and Friends,

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

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

          My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

                                    Lorenzo's wife,

                                     Tazza Salvatto

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

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

          Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                      DF 1036

                      SCI Mahanoy

                      301 Morea Rd.

                      Frackville, PA 17932

           Email: Through JPay using the code:

                        Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                        Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                        Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

          Have a wonderful day!

          - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

          Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                      DF 1036

                      SCI Mahanoy

                      301 Morea Rd.

                      Frackville, PA 17932

           Email: Through JPay using the code:

                        Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                        Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com













          1)  Keith Scott's Family Sees Videos of His Killing, and Says the Public Should, Too

          SEPT. 22, 2016


          CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The grieving relatives of a man who was killed by the police here watched videos on Thursday of the fatal shooting, a wrenching experience that they said revealed no hint of aggression in him and left the family members convinced that the videos should be made public. But the city's police chief, who had arranged for the private viewing, held fast to his decision not to release the recordings.

          The wife and other relatives of the dead man, Keith L. Scott, watched his killing from two angles, recorded Tuesday by police dashboard and body cameras, and "it was incredibly difficult," a family lawyer, Justin Bamberg, said in a statement.

          He said the family had come away with more questions than answers and a different interpretation from the account offered by the police, who have said that Mr. Scott, 43, was shot after he got out of his car brandishing a gun.

          "When told by police to exit his vehicle, Mr. Scott did so in a very calm, nonaggressive manner," Mr. Bamberg said. "While police did give him several commands, he did not aggressively approach them or raise his hands at members of law enforcement at any time." When an officer opened fire, he added, "Mr. Scott's hands were by his side, and he was slowly walking backwards."

          On Thursday night, hundreds of people gathered at an intersection in central Charlotte, holding signs and chanting, "We want the tapes!" in a peaceful demonstration.

          Mayor Jennifer Roberts ordered a midnight-to-6-a.m. curfew, the first since the unrest began, though the demonstrations were largely peaceful, and the police did not enforce the curfew as it went into effect. The police said that two officers were being treated after protesters sprayed them with a chemical. There were no immediate reports of injuries to civilians.

          On Thursday evening, some protesters marched to the police headquarters and held a moment of silence, fists raised in tribute to a man who was fatally shot during the previous night's protest and to those killed by the police. They marched to the county jail and chanted for the inmates behind the slats. Some inside blinked their lights off and on in apparent solidarity.

          Later, Interstate 277 was briefly shut down as demonstrators moved onto the roadway, and the police fired smoke to try to disperse them.

          Mr. Scott's death touched off violence in Charlotte on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. As hundreds of National Guard troops and State Police officers fanned out across the city on Thursday in an effort to head off further violence, Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police brushed aside demands by activists, community leaders and the news media to make the police video public.

          "We release it when we believe there is a compelling reason," he said.

          Until they viewed the videos on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Scott's relatives had said they were uncertain whether they should be released to the public, according to Mr. Bamberg.

          While the family members differed with the police on some major points about the videos, they seemed to be in agreement with Chief Putney on one aspect. "It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr. Scott is holding in his hands," they said in a statement.

          Earlier in the day, Chief Putney said, "The video does not give me absolute, definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun." He added later that he could not see Mr. Scott's hands. But the chief, speaking at a news conference, said that eyewitness accounts and other evidence suggested that Mr. Scott was holding a pistol at the time he was shot, and that a weapon had been found at the scene.

          Mr. Scott was black — as is the officer who shot him, Brentley Vinson — and his death added to a long list of killings of black men at the hands of law enforcement that had rocked cities and spurred protests around the country, bolstering claims of racial bias in policing.

          On Thursday, a white officer in Tulsa, Okla., was charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting an unarmed black man last week — a case in which startling police video was released within days of the encounter.

          During Wednesday night's demonstrations, a protester was shot in the head in what the police described as a "civilian on civilian" episode. But some protesters accused the police of opening fire. Early Thursday evening, just about the time a crowd was gathering, the police announced that the man had died earlier in the day and that the department had begun a homicide investigation.

          The police identified the victim as Justin Carr, 26, without elaborating further on his death.

          Some black leaders and protesters have called for the public release of the videos from the outset, and those demands have grown louder in the succeeding days.

          "There must be transparency, and the video must be released," said the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, the president of the North Carolina N.A.A.C.P.

          He said the protesters who had taken to the streets here by the hundreds since Mr. Scott's death were "rising up against systems of injustice that protect officers who kill."

          "It's about saying we are against bad police, because bad police make it bad for good police," Mr. Barber said.

          In a day of rapid developments and rolling news conferences, local, state and federal officials called for calm. Protests had escalated the previous night, with some people smashing windows and storefronts, and the police used tear gas to disperse crowds and made 44 arrests. Nine civilians were injured, two officers had minor eye injuries, and three officers had heat exhaustion.

          At 12:30 a.m. Thursday, local officials declared a state of emergency, calling for help from state forces, who deployed during the day in a show of strength throughout the city. Gov. Pat McCrory said he started mobilizing the National Guard early Wednesday in anticipation of that request, but he refused to second-guess Chief Putney and Mayor Roberts for not asking for help sooner.

          The State Bureau of Investigation began an investigation of the case, the governor said, and critics of the police asked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to step in. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said the Justice Department and the F.B.I. were monitoring events and offering help to local officials.

          "I know that the events of recent days are painfully unclear and call out for answers," Ms. Lynch said. "But I also know that the answer will not be found in the violence of recent days."

          Protests began Tuesday night after Officer Vinson shot Mr. Scott while the police were serving a warrant on someone else. Starkly different accounts have emerged about what happened. The police say Mr. Scott was holding a gun before he was shot; friends and family say it was a book. Though the videos do not offer definitive proof on their own, they support the official version of events, Chief Putney said.

          "When taking in the totality of all the other evidence, it supports what we've heard and the version of the truth that we gave about the circumstances that happened that led to the death of Mr. Scott," he said. He added that the department's practice was not to release video to the public, to protect the integrity of investigations.

          Demonstrators and black community leaders said the outrage was not just about what had happened to Mr. Scott, but was fueled by a much broader context. "We need folks to understand there is a direct connection between the rioting and the creation of two separate groups based on class and race for decades," said Justin Perry, an addiction counselor who is black and took part in the protest.

          Members of the Congressional Black Caucus pressed the Justice Department to do more by starting a thorough investigation into recent police shootings that had led to nationwide protests. Lawmakers from the 45-member group marched from the Capitol to the Justice Department to deliver a letter to Ms. Lynch, reinforcing the significance of their concerns.

          Both Chief Putney and Mayor Roberts sought to reassure residents that the city was prepared to avert another night of violence. Ms. Roberts said that the city was safe. "Our transit system is running; our businesses are open; our center city is here to welcome you," she said on Thursday morning.

          Still, several large businesses encouraged employees to stay home after the chaos.

          Wells Fargo told approximately 12,000 employees that they were not expected to report to work in Charlotte's Uptown neighborhood. Those unable to work remotely would be paid regardless, a spokesman said. Ally, the financial services company, closed two offices in Charlotte, affecting 900 employees. Duke Energy asked 500 employees and contractors to work remotely, and Fifth Third Bank asked the same of its employees.



          2)  Jeremy Corbyn Is Re-elected as Leader of Britain's Labour Party

          SEPT. 24, 2016


          LONDON — Jeremy Corbyn strengthened his grip on Britain's opposition Labour Party on Saturday, beating back a challenge to his leadership by members of Parliament with increased support from the party's rank and file.

          The results of the summer-long leadership struggle were announced in Liverpool, in northwestern England, on the eve of the annual Labour Party conference.

          Mr. Corbyn, a 67-year-old hard-left politician, won 61.8 percent of the more than 500,000 votes cast, up from the 59.5 percent he won a year ago, when his victory shocked and divided the party.

          A revolt by Labour members of Parliament, who said they feared that Mr. Corbyn would lead the party to electoral disaster, came to nothing as their favored candidate, Owen Smith, won only 38.2 percent of the vote.

          The result tightened Mr. Corbyn's grip on the party and isolated many of its members of Parliament from a growing membership that is younger and more left-leaning, drawn by Mr. Corbyn's policies to reduce inequality, make Britain non-nuclear and renationalize key areas of the economy, like the railways and energy.

          The party has almost tripled its membership to more than 500,000, making it the largest political party in Western Europe, Mr. Corbyn said. But opinion polls regularly indicate that if an election were held tomorrow, Labour under Mr. Corbyn would suffer a historic defeat in the country as a whole.

          In a victory speech, Mr. Corbyn called for unity, said that more held "the Labour family" together than divided it and vowed that the party would win the next election under his leadership.

          Mr. Corbyn also promised forgiveness to the rebels, noting that many heated things are said in a campaign that are later regretted. "Let's wipe that slate clean from today and get on with the work we have to do as a party together," he said.

          There are concerns among the rebels in Parliament that Mr. Corbyn and his team will move against them. Electoral districts are to undergo boundary changes as the House of Commons shrinks from 650 members to 600, and Mr. Corbyn's opponents fear the leadership team will use those changes to replace them with other candidates. Some of Mr. Corbyn's allies have been pressing for "mandatory reselection" of all candidates in every district before another British election.

          Anticipating his victory before it was announced, Mr. Corbyn had issued a plea for unity. "Whatever the result, whatever the margin, we all have a duty to unite, cherish and build our movement," he said.

          Mr. Corbyn and his allies see Labour as a socialist movement whose purpose is to change society. But most Labour members of Parliament, who regard Mr. Corbyn as a man of the old-fashioned, hard-left fringe, believe the best way to effect change is to win power in elections, which in Britain has meant moving toward the center, not farther to the left.

          They have also criticized Mr. Corbyn for poor organization and weak leadership, and have said Labour is not doing its job as an effective opposition to the governing Conservative Party.

          But after this resounding victory, Mr. Corbyn is highly unlikely to face another challenge before the next general election, which is due in May 2020. Labour members of Parliament who refused to serve in his shadow cabinet, or who resigned from it as part of the revolt, will be under pressure to join it, even if they sharply disagree with his policies.

          Tony Travers, a professor of government at the London School of Economics, said the Labour Party was "like a miserable, unhappy family trying to coexist."

          Labour's home affairs spokesman, Andy Burnham, told BBC radio that while the party's "war of attrition" must stop, Mr. Corbyn must also build more support among the general public, not just among Labour activists.

          "No one gets the right to take Labour down to a devastating defeat," said Mr. Burnham, who is trying to avoid the party's parliamentary problems by running for mayor of Manchester.

          Some Conservatives have urged the new British prime minister, Theresa May, who took over from David Cameron, to change the law to call an election sooner, in order to get her own mandate and take advantage of the divisions in Labour. But she has said there will be no early election.

          The former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband, a centrist narrowly beaten to the party leadership in 2010 by his more left-leaning brother, Ed, wrote in the New Statesman magazine this past week: "We have not been further from power since the 1930s."



          3)  Yielding to Pressure, Charlotte Releases Videos of Keith Scott Shooting

          SEPT. 24, 2016




          CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Under mounting pressure from politicians, community leaders and boisterous protesters who have brought this city's main business district to a near standstill, the Charlotte police chief on Saturday released body and dashboard camera videos of the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a black resident here.

          While they do not show everything that happened at the scene, the two released videos appear to show Mr. Scott exiting a white sport utility vehicle and backing away from it with his hands at his sides. He did not appear to be acting in a threatening or erratic manner, although officers could be heard shouting, "Drop the gun!"

          The police said that they had recovered a loaded gun with Mr. Scott's DNA on it, and that he was wearing an ankle holster. They did not reveal where they had found the gun.

          It appeared from the two angles that he had nothing in his right hand. It was unclear what, if anything, Mr. Scott, who was right-handed, had in his left hand. After Mr. Scott was shot multiple times and fell to the ground, his moans could be heard as officers handcuffed him.

          The police also revealed for the first time that officers had decided to confront Mr. Scott, 43, in the parking lot of his apartment complex on Tuesday because they noticed, as they were preparing to serve a warrant on another person, that he was rolling a marijuana cigarette inside his S.U.V. — and had observed him "hold a gun up," according to a news release. Mr. Scott was parked in a visitor's parking space at his apartment complex, where he often waited for a school bus bringing one of his children home from school.

          Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said that, since Mr. Scott was believed to be in possession of marijuana and a handgun, it raised a safety issue officers felt compelled to confront.

          "What we are releasing are the objective facts," Chief Putney said at a news conference.

          Still, he added that neither the videos, nor other evidence he intended to make public provided a definitive answer to all the questions in the case.

          "I stand behind the truth," Chief Putney said. "People can interpret anything they want based on one piece of evidence, and I can tell you, I suspect they will based on the video footage. But what I say is, you have to put all pieces together."

          At a news conference about an hour after the videos were released, lawyers for the Scott family said his relatives were pleased with that decision, but also said the videos raised more questions than they answered.

          One of the lawyers, Justin Bamberg, said the family stood by its assertion that Mr. Scott was not armed and that he had not acted in a threatening manner.

          "When I look at the dashcam footage, I don't see anything there, in my opinion, that would lead to him losing his life," Mr. Bamberg said.

          Protesters on Saturday were skeptical that marijuana possession, which has been decriminalized in many places, should have led to a fatal encounter. The officer who shot Mr. Scott, Brentley Vinson, was also black, police officials have said.

          Greg Farmer, 25, who has been protesting since Mr. Scott's death, said on Saturday that even if Mr. Scott did have marijuana and a gun, the police should not have killed him.

          "Even if they thought he was smoking weed, why in any world would that warrant him being gunned down?" said Mr. Farmer, who owns a food truck and a handyman business in Charlotte.

          The protesters, who have taken to the streets since Tuesday in large numbers — sometimes peacefully and sometimes not — have made "Release the Tapes" a signature chant and most pointed demand, and have accused Chief Putney of obscuring the details of the shooting.

          And yet, for a number of reasons, it seems likely that the release of the two videos, and the new information about the case, will do little to quell what has become a roiling national debate over whether it was necessary to fatally shoot Mr. Scott, one of a number of African-American men who have died at the hands of police officers in recent months.

          The frustration and anger was evident before Chief Putney had finished his news conference, which protesters were listening to on a loudspeaker at a park in the Uptown area of Charlotte.

          Around 4:30 p.m., a protester announced to some cheers that there had been an update about the release of the police videos.

          But that cautious optimism turned to anger about 10 minutes later as protesters learned the police would not be releasing all of the video footage. Chief Putney said that while the information being released constituted "the most complete puzzle that we can without trying the case out in public," he said that some unreleased videos showed only people driving to the scene. He also said that more footage would be released upon completion of an independent inquiry being conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation "and there has been a definitive decision on the part of the prosecutor."

          The mood among the protesters fell.

          "Everybody take a deep breath. So basically Chief Putney is saying that they are not releasing the full videos of Keith L. Scott," Tamika Lewis, 27, one of the protest organizers, said as many others booed and shook their heads. "Our demand clearly states to release the full video, the names and the reports that are related to the shooting. This is a slap in the face. He's like, 'Oh, I'm going to give them a little bit of what they want, and then they're going to go away.' No. We will occupy the streets of Charlotte until they release the full videos."

          The chief, as well as other officials in North Carolina, had previously resisted demands to release the footage because they said it could undercut the investigation by the state, which is reviewing the shooting at the request of Mr. Scott's family.

          But by Saturday afternoon, word had begun to spread through Charlotte that the chief had agreed to release the footage. During a news conference at a West Charlotte police station, as rifle-bearing members of the National Guard stood outside, the chief insisted that his decision had not been influenced by political pressure, nor by the release on Friday of a video recorded by Mr. Scott's wife.

          The chief said he believed that disclosing some of the state's evidence would not "taint" the state's inquiry.

          "The footage itself will not create, in anyone's mind, absolute certainty as to what this case represents, and what the outcome should be," he said. "The footage only supports all of the other information — physical evidence, the statements from witnesses and officers and all of the other information, scientific and physical — that create an entire picture."

          The matter of whether the police should disclose its footage had been fiercely debated for days here. The authorities repeatedly pledged transparency, but warned that a premature release of any evidence could compromise the case. But protesters marched through the streets of Charlotte and demanded the videos' release.

          The debate even reached the presidential campaign on Friday, when Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, said the city should distribute its footage "without delay."

          Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, a former Charlotte mayor who had expressed reservations as recently as Friday about releasing any evidence, said he supported Chief Putney's decision announced on Saturday. He said he was convinced the "release will have no material impact on the independent investigation since most of the known witnesses have been interviewed."

          The anger and suspicion in Charlotte have been fueled in part by memories of the September 2013 police slaying of Jonathan Ferrell, a 24-year-old black man who was shot 10 times by a white officer in a Charlotte subdivision. Mr. Ferrell had been in a car wreck, and had walked to a nearby home and knocked on the door. A white woman, fearing Mr. Ferrell was a robber, called 911. One officer, upon arrival, immediately aimed a Taser at Mr. Ferrell. Another officer, Randall Kerrick, fired his gun, believing that Mr. Ferrell was trying to take the gun away.

          Mr. Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter, but the case ended in a hung jury and a mistrial in August 2015. Prosecutors decided not to retry Officer Kerrick, and the case was dismissed.

          At Saturday's news conference held by the Scott family's lawyers, one of them, Charles G. Monnett III, said he was surprised that North Carolina was again talking about the killing of a black man by the police.

          "Quite frankly, I'm shocked that less than two years after the conclusion of the Jonathan Ferrell case, that we are standing back before you again to talk about whether the shooting of another a black man was justified," he said. "We shouldn't be here. We've got to learn. We've got to change our police approach. One of the things that really disturbs me about what I see on the video is the failure of the police to use all of the resources that they had at their disposal to avoid killing Keith."

          After Chief Putney's news conference, the department released a detailed report of the police's version of events. It said that Mr. Scott got out of his S.U.V. "with the gun" and "backed away from the vehicle while continuing to ignore officers' repeated loud verbal commands to drop the gun."

          The release said that Officer Vinson perceived Mr. Scott's "actions and movements as an imminent physical threat to himself and other officers" before he fired.

          Later, the release said, homicide detectives interviewed "multiple" civilian witnesses who said Mr. Scott had ignored repeated commands to drop the gun. A lab analysis of a gun recovered at the scene, the release said, revealed the presence of Mr. Scott's DNA and fingerprints on the weapon.

          The dispute about the footage reached its climax one week before North Carolina was scheduled to restrict access to police recordings. A state law signed by Mr. McCrory that has long been scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1 will prohibit police recordings from being deemed public records. A court order will be required to release any footage, and judges will be allowed to consider whether "release is necessary to advance a compelling public interest," as well as whether publication "would create a serious threat to the fair, impartial and orderly administration of justice."

          William Barber II, the president of the North Carolina chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., said in an interview on Saturday that the release of the two videos was not sufficient. He called for the full release of all police videos of the incident, and demanded a federal investigation.

          He noted that neither he nor anyone else in the public was in possession of all of the facts in the case. But he also said that neither the possession of marijuana nor the possession of a gun should warrant "a death sentence."



          4)  Too Poor for Proper Plumbing: A Reality in 500,000 U.S. Homes

          SEPT. 26, 2016



          TYLER, Ala. — The hard clay soil in this rural Southern county has twice cursed Dorothy Rudolph. It is good for growing cotton and cucumbers, the crops she worked as a child and hated. And it is bad for burying things — in particular, septic tanks.

          So Ms. Rudolph, 64, did what many people around here do. She ran a plastic pipe from her toilet under her yard and into the woods behind her house. Paying to put in a septic tank would cost around $6,000 — a little more than half of her family's annual income.

          "It was a whole lot of money," she said. "It still is."

          Here in Lowndes County, part of a strip of mostly poor, majority-black counties that cuts through the rural center of Alabama, less than half of the population is on a municipal sewer line. While that is not a hardship for more affluent communities — about one in five American homes are not on city sewer lines — the legacy of rural poverty has left its imprint here: Many people have failing septic tanks and are too poor to fix them. Others, like Ms. Rudolph, have nothing at all.

          That is not so uncommon. Nearly half a million households in the United States lack the basic dignity of hot and cold running water, a bathtub or shower, or a working flush toilet, according to the Census Bureau. The absence has implications for public health in the very population that is the most vulnerable.

          Crumbling infrastructure has been a theme of this country's reinvigorated public conversation about race — for instance, a botched fix for old pipes in Flint, Mich., that contaminated the city's drinking water with lead. But in poor, rural places like Lowndes County, there has never been much infrastructure to begin with.

          "We didn't have anything — no running water, no inside bathrooms," said John Jackson, a former mayor of White Hall, a town of about 800 in Lowndes that is more than 90 percent black and did not have running water until the early 1980s. "Those were things we were struggling for."

          There is no formal count of residents without proper plumbing in Lowndes, but Kevin White, an environmental engineering professor at the University of South Alabama, said that a survey that he did in a neighboring county years ago found that about 35 percent of homes had septic systems that were failing, with raw sewage on the ground. Another 15 percent had nothing.

          "The bottom line is, I can't afford a septic system," said Cheryl Ball, a former cook who had a heart attack several years ago and receives disability payments. She lives in a grassy field on which only three of seven homes have septic tanks. Most banks now require proof that a home has proper sewage disposal before lending, but Ms. Ball paid cash for her mobile home — $4,000.

          This area, known as the Black Belt (so called more for its soil, than its demographics), is haunted by its history of white violence toward African-Americans and a deep, biting poverty. Lowndes is one of the poorest counties in the country, and its rural population, whose trailers and small houses dot the lush green landscape, often cannot afford the thousands of dollars it costs to put in a tank. Municipalities, with low tax bases, cannot afford extensive sewer lines.

          Ms. Rudolph, a retired seamstress, and her husband, a carpenter, live in a tiny, white clapboard house that he built after he, his parents and his siblings fled their home on land owned by a white man who forbade the family to vote. She remembers, as a young girl in the 1950s, not having electricity. They obtained running water in the early 1990s, she said, and used an outhouse until the mid-1990s.

          So their white toilet with a fuzzy green cover was a marker of progress. A plastic pipe carries its contents outside and empties into a wooded area not far from the house. There is no visible pooling of sewage, but there are other problems.

          "The smell gets so bad," said Ms. Rudolph, sitting on her porch guarding her chicken coop against a marauding fox. When it rains, she wages war with her toilet. One recent downpour brought its contents gurgling up to the rim.

          "I was sitting there looking at it and got me a plunger," she said. "It took me some plunging to get it clear. I was scared it was going to come back and go on the floor. Horrible."

          She added, "There's nothing we can do."

          The problem is prickly for the state. Parrish Pugh, an official with the Alabama Department of Public Health, agrees that money plays a part.

          "That's where the rubber hits the road," he said.

          But Alabama law forbids the use of "insanitary sewage collection," and the responsibility for that rests squarely with the homeowner," Mr. Pugh said. Resisting is not only illegal, but could have health consequences: Raw sewage can taint drinking water and cause health problems.

          "'My parents had a pipe that ran into the woods, and that's good enough for me,'" Mr. Pugh said, explaining a common argument. "But we didn't know as much about disease back then. People are more educated nowadays. They are more concerned."

          The state health department begs, cajoles, and eventually cites people who have problems and do not fix them. In the early 2000s, the authorities even tried arresting people. That prompted a public outcry and the practice soon stopped, but one person spent a weekend in jail and others were left with criminal records.

          The department cited about 700 people in the 12 months that ended in March, often because someone complained.

          The clay soil makes the problem worse.

          "Rural wastewater is usually managed with a septic tank and a drain field, which slowly infiltrates the wastewater into the ground," Professor White said. "Well, it won't go into the ground here. Period."

          This area, known as the Black Belt (so called more for its soil, than its demographics), is haunted by its history of white violence toward African-Americans and a deep, biting poverty. Lowndes is one of the poorest counties in the country, and its rural population, whose trailers and small houses dot the lush green landscape, often cannot afford the thousands of dollars it costs to put in a tank. Municipalities, with low tax bases, cannot afford extensive sewer lines.

          Ms. Rudolph, a retired seamstress, and her husband, a carpenter, live in a tiny, white clapboard house that he built after he, his parents and his siblings fled their home on land owned by a white man who forbade the family to vote. She remembers, as a young girl in the 1950s, not having electricity. They obtained running water in the early 1990s, she said, and used an outhouse until the mid-1990s.

          So their white toilet with a fuzzy green cover was a marker of progress. A plastic pipe carries its contents outside and empties into a wooded area not far from the house. There is no visible pooling of sewage, but there are other problems.

          "The smell gets so bad," said Ms. Rudolph, sitting on her porch guarding her chicken coop against a marauding fox. When it rains, she wages war with her toilet. One recent downpour brought its contents gurgling up to the rim.

          "I was sitting there looking at it and got me a plunger," she said. "It took me some plunging to get it clear. I was scared it was going to come back and go on the floor. Horrible."

          She added, "There's nothing we can do."

          The problem is prickly for the state. Parrish Pugh, an official with the Alabama Department of Public Health, agrees that money plays a part.

          "That's where the rubber hits the road," he said.

          But Alabama law forbids the use of "insanitary sewage collection," and the responsibility for that rests squarely with the homeowner," Mr. Pugh said. Resisting is not only illegal, but could have health consequences: Raw sewage can taint drinking water and cause health problems.

          "'My parents had a pipe that ran into the woods, and that's good enough for me,'" Mr. Pugh said, explaining a common argument. "But we didn't know as much about disease back then. People are more educated nowadays. They are more concerned."

          The state health department begs, cajoles, and eventually cites people who have problems and do not fix them. In the early 2000s, the authorities even tried arresting people. That prompted a public outcry and the practice soon stopped, but one person spent a weekend in jail and others were left with criminal records.

          The department cited about 700 people in the 12 months that ended in March, often because someone complained.

          The clay soil makes the problem worse.

          "Rural wastewater is usually managed with a septic tank and a drain field, which slowly infiltrates the wastewater into the ground," Professor White said. "Well, it won't go into the ground here. Period."


          John Jackson, former mayor of White Hall, Ala., said that until the early 1980s, "we didn't have anything — no running water, no inside bathrooms." CreditBryan Meltz for The New York Times 

          He added: "There are some options that may be available, but it's going to cost thousands of dollars, and most people here can't afford it. The answer, quite frankly, is not out there yet."

          Experts and advocates have tried to find one. Grants from the state and federal governments to study the problem have come and gone, as have academics wielding surveys. There was even talk of self-composting toilets.

          "It's like we're going in circles," said Perman Hardy, a cook in Tyler who even did a urinalysis for a study of health effects. For years, her sewage backed up every time it rained. In December, she spent all the money she had saved for Christmas presents on a new septic tank.

          Some change is happening. The town of White Hall recently received funding to connect about 50 homes to sewer lines, the first in its history. Town officials are thrilled: City sewer lines are critical to attract businesses that would bring jobs. But the pace is glacial.

          Eli Seaborn, 73, a White Hall councilman, said progress would be slow, like the pace of civil rights gains, where legal discrimination is gone but lingers in other forms. Similar patience is required for sewage, he added.

          "Time is going to be the only thing that solves this problem," he said. "It took more than 50 years for it to happen. But hopefully, it won't take more than 50 years to fix it."



          5)  A Virtual Visit to a Relative in Jail

          SEPT. 29, 2016





          Chicago — "Are you tired of taking the time to drive to the jail and wait in long lines for your visit?" asks the website of Securus, a private company that manages phones in jails and prisons throughout the United States. "Visit your loved one from the comfort of your home using a computer."

          Computer-based video visitation, a service that Securus provides for a fee, can indeed be a helpful option: It allows people in jail or prison to see loved ones who can't visit in person for whatever reason — the long distance, disability, illness, a busy schedule or responsibilities at home. However, what Securus doesn't advertise is that, in many cases, you're not allowed to visit any other way.

          In county jails, when video visitation is introduced, in-person visitation is typically banned. (Securus's contracts with jails have sometimes mandated this ban, though recently the company announced that its contracts would no longer include the requirement.) Jails are embracing the practice, in part because video visitation is less time-consuming and requires fewer staff members than in-person visits. More than 13 percent of local jails in the United States now use video visitation, and at most of those jails, in-person visits have been abolished, according to research by the Prison Policy Initiative.

          When my sister began serving a sentence at the Lake County jail outside Chicago in July, I experienced this practice firsthand. When she first called me from the jail, I planned to drive over immediately to see her. My sister had been incarcerated before, and I'd always relied on regular visits to help show my love and support. But I discovered that in-person visits were not allowed. All "visits" were to be conducted via video, through Securus's system.

          My options were to schedule a video visit at the facility (sitting in a booth alone) or at home. I scheduled an at-home visit, paying $5 for the privilege. Many jails charge more, but even $5, at regular intervals, can be a burden to families of incarcerated people, who are often poor. A report from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights found that one-third of families of incarcerated people went into debt to cover the cost of phone calls and visits, a burden that fell heaviest on women of color.

          Moreover, at Lake County and a number of other jails that allow visits only by video, visits must be booked 24 hours ahead of time, which can be an impediment for families struggling to juggle busy schedules with the obligations that come with having an adult (often the primary wage earner) missing from a household.

          In my attempt to visit with my sister by video, my visitation privileges were initially denied because of a blurry ID photo: Securus requires that you take a picture of your ID card with your webcam, an endeavor that's harder than it sounds. This delayed me by a couple of days.

          Eventually, I was able to schedule a visitation. The day before, I spent an hour researching and downloading the necessary system requirements for my computer. For people with an older or otherwise incompatible computer or less knowledge of technology — not an unlikely scenario, given the demographics of families of incarcerated people — those requirements could prevent a visit.

          My preparation did me no good. I signed on at the required time … and waited. The minutes ticked by as a box telling me my "inmate" hadn't yet arrived hovered on my screen (although my sister later confirmed she'd been present). After 10 minutes, I called Securus's tech support. There are no extensions with video visitation; after the half-hour slot you've paid for has passed, your connection is cut. I sat on the phone with a helpless tech person, crying. I knew my sister would be devastated. I was worried she'd think I hadn't shown up.

          After a half-hour, the box disappeared. My visit was over. Despite several follow-up calls to tech support and emails to Securus, I never found out why it hadn't worked.

          The second time I tried a video visit, I succeeded in connecting. I was relieved when my sister's face popped up on my screen. But our video conversation was glitchy: Her face was dim and her words were delayed and didn't sync with the movements of her mouth. For much of the visit I saw only half her head, and neither of us could look each other in the eye, no matter how much I fiddled with my setup.

          These problems weren't unique to my experience: Technological issues are a common complaint with such visits. When the camera flickered off at the half-hour mark, I felt our conversation had hardly begun.

          The practical benefits of face-to-face visits for people in jail are well established: They help them maintain a connection to the outside world and prepare them for life after release, reducing recidivism. But more fundamentally, incarcerated people are human beings, and denying them personal contact with those they love is yet another indignity of the prison system.

          Even the best visitation policies can't make up for the broken bonds and fragmented communities that incarceration produces. Even the longest, most well-accommodated in-person visit can't substitute for living in the world. But at least we can allow people in jail to see their loved ones face to face.



          6)  Haitian Men Cut Off From Families as U.S. Hardens Visa Rules

          SEPT. 29, 2016


          MEXICO CITY — A sudden shift in American immigration policy has divided scores of Haitian families trying to enter the United States from Mexico, immigrants and advocates say.

          The policy change, announced last week, has separated wives from husbands and children from their fathers, stranding the men in Mexico after their families were allowed to cross into the United States.

          "I'm hoping God makes miracles," said Sandra Alexandre, who was allowed into the United States last week ahead of her boyfriend and gave birth three days later. The new policy went into effect right before the child's father could cross.

          The family separations appear to be an unintended consequence of the Obama administration's effort to tighten the border against the arrival of thousands of Haitians streaming north from Brazil, mostly to seek employment in the United States.

          Until the change, the United States had been allowing Haitians without visas to enter under a temporary humanitarian parole, a special concession owing to the social, economic and political troubles facing Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. But last Thursday, amid a surge in Haitians from Brazil, the Obama administration announced that it was resuming the deportation of Haitians who presented themselves at border crossings without immigration documentation.

          The policy change effectively shut the door on newly arriving undocumented Haitians, including men whose partners and children had already been admitted.

          Immigrant advocates in San Diego said they had identified more than 50 families in that city alone who had been separated by the policy change, and they have appealed to Homeland Security officials to help reunite the families in the United States.

          "The bottom line is that this was not a well-conceived policy," said Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego, a group that has been helping Haitians who have arrived from Brazil in recent months. "It seemed to have come down from one day to the next without a clear understanding of what was going on and what kind of impact it would have."

          The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately reply to written questions about the effect of the policy change.

          Amid the surge, the American border authorities had been using an appointment system to process arriving Haitians. They had been giving priority to women and children, who received earlier dates rather than being forced to spend weeks in the overcrowded shelters. Men, no matter if they were traveling with their partners and children, usually had to wait for later appointments.

          Ms. Alexandre, 24, arrived in the border city of Mexicali with her boyfriend, Volcy Dieumercy, 29, on Sept. 20 after a 10-week trip from Curitiba, Brazil. She was pregnant and nearing her due date.

          Because of her pregnancy, Mexican officials, who have been scheduling the migrants' appointments with American border officials, granted Ms. Alexandre an appointment for last Thursday, but they denied the couple's request that Mr. Dieumercy be processed on the same day, the couple said. Instead, he was given an appointment for Sept. 30, forcing him to wait in Mexicali.

          Ms. Alexandre entered under a three-year humanitarian parole, and she made her way to a migrant shelter in San Diego. She soon learned that Mr. Dieumercy had been barred from entering under the new policy.

          On Sunday, she went into labor and was admitted to the hospital. A volunteer working with Alliance San Diego called Mr. Dieumercy so the couple could speak. The volunteer remained in touch with Mr. Dieumercy throughout the birth using WhatsApp, updating him on Ms. Alexandre's progress.

          The couple had intended to travel together to Orlando, Fla., and live with Mr. Dieumercy's relatives. Ms. Alexandre said she had no idea what she would do if Mr. Dieumercy was not allowed into the country.

          "I haven't thought that far ahead," she said from the hospital earlier this week before being discharged. "Right now, I'm only thinking positively."

          Mr. Dieumercy is equally uncertain. He knows that if he tries to cross at an official American port of entry, he will probably be deported.

          "I need my family," he said in a text message from Mexicali. "I can't wait any longer. I'm very sad."

          Among the families that have been divided since the policy took effect, more than a dozen include pregnant women separated from their partners, Ms. Guerrero said. There are even cases of mothers' being separated from their teenage sons, she said.

          Sinskya Cetoute, a Haitian immigrant, said that she, her husband and their 4-year-old daughter had gone to the San Ysidro border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego last Friday, a day after the new policy went into effect. Immigration officials quickly separated them, with Ms. Cetoute, 33, and her daughter taken in one direction and her husband in another.

          Ms. Cetoute and her daughter were allowed into the United States on humanitarian parole, with permission to stay for three years, but she has not heard from her husband since she last saw him. "We don't know what we're going to do," she said. "I can't live without the father of my daughter."

          In announcing the policy change last week, American immigration officials said they hoped it would discourage Haitians from making the grueling trek to the United States border. But shelter administrators and migrant advocates along the route report that many Haitians continue to move north through the Americas, undeterred by news of the full resumption of deportations in the United States.

          Marcelo Pisani, the International Organization for Migration's regional director for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, said that migrants from outside the region were arriving at the Panama-Costa Rica border at an average rate of 90 to 110 per day. He said "a significant percentage" were Haitians.

          Mr. Pisani said it was "very probable" that with the humanitarian door closed, more Haitians arriving at the United States' southern border would seek asylum.

          In Tijuana, which has received thousands of Haitian migrants this year, a steady stream of Haitians are still arriving each day. Many of them, though aware of the policy change, are presenting themselves at the border only to be put immediately into fast-track deportation proceedings, advocates said.

          "They believe that the United States will not turn their back on them," Ms. Guerrero said. "They believe that the United States understands what the situation is in Haiti, and they believe that the United States would never send them back."



          7)  In Battle for Soul of Britain's Labour Party, a Leftist Group Is Winning

          SEPT. 28, 2016



          LIVERPOOL, England — Jackie Walker, a prominent left-wing activist, was in full flow. "We're part of the biggest political moment in the last 50 years!" she cried. "The seeds we are sowing, who knows what fruit they will bring?"

          The packed audience in a former Congregational chapel turned arts center here cheered with the fervor of a religious gathering, reflecting a kind of reverence for the man they had shown up to support: Jeremy Corbyn, the hard-left leader of Britain's Labour Party. At the party conference in Liverpool just minutes away, he had defeated what his supporters called a "coup attempt" by more centrist Labour members of Parliament.

          Many Labour legislators fear that Mr. Corbyn, 67, is dragging the party so far from the political and ideological mainstream that he will lead it to another devastating political defeat at the hands of the Conservative Party in the next general election, which is not due until 2020 but is possible earlier.

          Despite Labour's significant growth in grass-roots members, some fear successive defeats. Janan Ganesh, a Financial Times columnist, wrote that "there is a reasonable chance, and it becomes stronger by the day, that Gordon Brown will turn out to have been the last Labour prime minister." (Mr. Brown left office in 2010.)

          But if the mood of the Labour conference itself the last few days was resigned in the face of Mr. Corbyn's re-election on Saturday as party leader, the atmosphere at this parallel conference, held by the hard-left group Ms. Walker helps run, Momentum, verged on ecstasy.

          In the battle for Labour's direction, Momentum is winning. Seen by critics as a softer successor to the Trotskyist Militant movement, which Labour banned from the party as too extreme in the 1980s, Momentum has flowered into a powerful organizing vehicle for Mr. Corbyn. It has helped him register and mobilize passionate supporters intent on substituting unapologetic socialism for politics as usual.

          "People are fed up with a so-called free market system that has produced grotesque inequality, stagnating living standards for the many, calamitous foreign wars without end and a political stitch-up," Mr. Corbyn said on Wednesday in remarks to the party conference.

          In many ways, Momentum's success is the culmination of the backlash on the left to the centrism of Labour under Tony Blair in the 1990s and the first years of this century. Its detractors view Momentum as naïve at best and dangerous at worst. Its supporters feel they are building a movement less concerned about the next election cycle than with bringing true socialism to Britain. Either way, the group has solidified Mr. Corbyn's hold on the party's leadership.

          "We're heading in the right direction, which is the left direction," said Emine Ibrahim, a member of the Haringey Council in London. Grass-roots membership in the local Labour Party has gone up to 5,500 now from 1,300 before Mr. Corbyn's election last year, she said, mirroring a tripling of national membership.

          Daniel Cooper, 26, joined the Labour Party in 2009. Then, he said, "I realized that it wasn't for me, left and joined the Communist Party, then under Jeremy Corbyn came back to support Labour."

          "I feel this is the natural time and moment," he said, when asked about his support for Momentum. "The financial crisis is deeper than it was in the 1930s, and we need radical revolutionary ideas to overcome the problems of capitalism."

          Momentum has helped Mr. Corbyn take over the party from inside, intimidating and isolating center-left members. Mr. Corbyn and the movement appeal to an electorate that is angry about inequality, globalization and unemployment, and is seeking clearer, simpler choices. While Mr. Corbyn is trying to address them from the left, those same issues are motivating supporters of populist candidates on the right, including Donald J. Trump in the United States and Marine Le Pen of the National Front in France.

          "Momentum has remarkable energy," said Mark Wickham-Jones, a professor of political science at the University of Bristol. "But it is clearly energy that is coming from many directions, and it is going to be hard to channel it."

          As the Labour Party moves to the left and grows, to become one of the largest in Western Europe, it also seems to slip further from power in a country that has historically disliked extremes.

          Mr. Wickham-Jones said Labour faced an "existential crisis," having lost its traditional Scottish heartland to the left-leaning Scottish National Party and under challenge from the right in working-class districts by the populist U.K. Independence Party.

          There is now a clear split between grass-roots party members, he said, and its more pragmatic lawmakers. Of the current 230 Labour members of the House of Commons, 172 voted against Mr. Corbyn in a no-confidence vote in June.

          In his remarks on Wednesday, Mr. Corbyn seemed to underscore his apparent lack of interest in vote chasing. At a time when limiting immigration is Britain's most prominent political issue — it was widely seen as the driving force in the nation's vote to leave the European Union — Mr. Corbyn pointedly did not promise to impose limits. Instead, he vowed to give extra resources to regions where population increases put pressure on public services and said he would crack down on exploitation of migrant labor to help protect the pay of workers.

          The British news media largely interpreted these views as naïve, while senior Labour legislators were already weighing methods of curbing immigration to appeal to disenchanted Labour voters who favored leaving the European Union.

          This kind of conventional political analysis holds little water among the members of Momentum, who believe that with enough rallies, speeches and street campaigning they can win Britain over to their version of socialism.

          "People see in Jeremy Corbyn the chance to change things, the belief that things can be different," said Ian Hodson, the head of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.

          Many of their own party's elected members of Parliament are regarded by newly empowered leftists as closet Conservatives, traitors and worse. "The M.P.s should be the servants of the party members, not the masters," said Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union.

          The Momentum supporters have a hero in John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor of the Exchequer and a close Corbyn ally, who persuaded him to fight on against the leadership challenge. Mr. McDonnell grew up poor here in Liverpool and is considered an enforcer, channeling the enthusiasm and passion of the new Labour members and of Momentum.

          Mr. McDonnell won huge cheers for telling the conference: "In this party you no longer have to whisper it. It's called socialism." He began his remarks to Momentum by lifting his fist and saying, "Thanks a lot, comrades," praising their passion and support for Mr. Corbyn.

          But for Steven Fielding, a political scientist at Nottingham University, "it's difficult to overstate how utterly irrelevant are the speeches and policy debates at this Labour conference."

          "It's political science fiction," he said.

          The novelist Will Self summed up the dilemma of a party caught between old socialist dreams and the revolutionary dreams of the youth of 1968. In the modern digital world "with its free flows of capital and most critically labor," he said, "there's really no place for a political party with an 1887 heart and a 1968 head."



          8)  American Airstrike Killed Afghan Civilians, U.N. Says

          SEPT. 29, 2016


          KABUL, Afghanistan — The United Nations mission in Afghanistan on Thursday condemned an American airstrike it said had killed at least 15 civilians in eastern Afghanistan, a day after American and Afghan officials said they had targeted a gathering of Islamic State affiliates.

          Information about the strike, which occurred early on Wednesday morning in the Islamic State stronghold of Achin district, in Nangarhar Province, has been contradictory, with the remoteness of the area making reports hard to verify.

          Groups of fighters claiming allegiance to the Islamic State have been gaining ground in small pockets of eastern Afghanistan since 2015, drawing attention from Afghan and coalition operations. Although the extent of the militants' contact with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria remains unclear, they have nevertheless caused havoc in the area with brutal methods.

          From the onset of Wednesday's strike, which the United Nations statement said was carried out by a remotely piloted drone, local elders said the victims were civilians. But even as a United States military spokesman said the military was investigating reports of civilian casualties, Afghan officials late into Wednesday night insisted the victims of the strike were members of the Islamic State.

          A delegation sent by the governor of Nangarhar Province returned with its findings late on Wednesday, saying 18 of those killed were Islamic State fighters, including a major commander and judge. There were five civilian casualties, the delegation said in a statement. It did not detail how many were dead and how many were wounded.

          The United Nations, although acknowledging government reports that Islamic State fighters were among the victims, said most of those killed were civilians.

          "The civilians had gathered in a village to celebrate the return of a tribal elder from the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and were reportedly sleeping in a guesthouse of the elder when the airstrike occurred," the United Nations statement said. "Civilian victims of the strike included students and a teacher, as well as members of families considered to be pro-government."

          Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, a spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, said American officials were aware of the United Nations statement but stood by the insistence that the military had been targeting Islamic State militants.

          He added: "We continue to work with Afghan authorities to determine if there is cause for additional investigation."



          9)  Ex-Marine Describes Violent Hazing and the Lies That Covered It Up

          SEPT. 29, 2016




          PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — In Marine Corps boot camp, Thomas Weaver learned to endure punches, kicks and choking by drill instructors in the Third Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island, S.C. When one instructor repeatedly bashed his head against a doorway, he kept quiet and acted as if it were no big deal. But what he eventually could not take was the lying that covered up the abuse.

          "We were taught the Marines is all about honor and honesty, and my superiors were constantly telling us all to lie about what was happening," Mr. Weaver, 21, said in a recent interview at his parents' home in rural northern Florida. "I had been really proud to join the Marines, but I was not proud of what we were doing."

          A Marine Corps investigation prompted in part by Mr. Weaver's information has uncovered widespread abuse by drill instructors in the so-called Thumping Third. In a lengthy interview, Mr. Weaver — a top-notch recruit who has since been kicked out of the military, ending his career — provided new details of how he said hazing infected all levels of drill instructors and instructors carefully concealed their abuse and threatened to give recruits "stitches" if anyone told.

          The continuing inquiry has so far led to the removal of three leaders. The corps has said 20 Marines face possible criminal charges.

          One drill instructor tumbled a Muslim recruit in a hot clothes dryer, according to a report from the investigation. The same instructor hazed another Muslim recruit repeatedly shortly before the recruit leapt to his death from the barracks, the report found.

          The Marines declined to comment on Mr. Weaver's accusations, and certain aspects were impossible to corroborate. Another Marine in the battalion confirmed most details of his account, but asked to remain unnamed, saying he feared being singled out for retribution.

          "We were all scared, terrified," Mr. Weaver said. "I wrote a lot of letters home about what was going on, but I tore them all up because I was afraid the drill instructors would read them."

          Hazing in Marine Corps boot camp has popped up persistently over the years, even as the leadership has added more safeguards.

          The stubborn problem reveals an underlying struggle in the Marine Corps over its identity. Most officers are pushing for an inclusive and orderly force, with more women and minorities, and strict regulations to protect against abuse. But in the ranks, a widespread belief holds that the corps, which prides itself on making some of the toughest war fighters in the world, needs harsh training and must push back to preserve traditions against the creep of politically correct mediocrity.

          "It's like, they are so focused on trying to make real Marines that they don't see how they are hurting a lot of good recruits," said Mr. Weaver, who has begun telling his story publicly.

          Mr. Weaver graduated from boot camp in July 2015, near the top of his class. He was meritoriously promoted ahead of others and planned to make a military career. But what he saw at boot camp gnawed at him until he could no longer sleep, he said, and he was too depressed to attend his next level of training. He was hospitalized in September on suicide watch. In November, he told his commander he was too depressed to train, and the Marine Corps moved to formally discipline him.

          That month, Mr. Weaver's father, Troy Weaver, contacted the commander to explain that he thought his son's depression was a result of hazing in boot camp. His son then gave a detailed written account to his superiors about what he had seen at Parris Island, and the inquiry was opened.

          In December, Mr. Weaver was kicked out of the Marine Corps for not training and given an other-than-honorable discharge used to punish bad troops. He is trying to upgrade his discharge, but the system is slow and appeals are often unsuccessful.

          In a statement, the Marine Corps said that Mr. Weaver's depression did not qualify for a medical discharge and that an other-than-honorable discharge is proper when troops refuse to train.

          Despite the common image of boot camp as a place where barking sergeants in broad-brimmed hats have nearly free rein to harass recruits, strict rules control what instructors can do. They cannot swear at recruits, hit them, kick them or even touch them unless it is to provide guidance during training that regulations call "corrective action."

          Regulations also limit what the Marines call "incentive training": extra push-ups, crunches and other exercise as punishment. There are limits, for example, on how often and for how long such exercises can be ordered, and rules require that they be performed on a padded athletic mat.

          Mr. Weaver, a varsity track runner and captain of his high school soccer team who arrived at Parris Island ready to face grueling physical tests, said he soon found that drill instructors treated the rules with tongue-in-cheek contempt.

          A few days into training, while being issued equipment, he said, he watched an instructor grab a recruit by the neck after a minor mistake and slam him to the ground, where he held him by the throat while swearing at him.

          After choking the recruit, the instructor stood up, looked at the rest of the group and asked them whether he was hurting the recruit or "making a corrective action," Mr. Weaver said.

          "We all said 'You were making a corrective action, sir,' " Mr. Weaver said. "We were all too scared to say anything else."

          "Every drill instructor played that card," he added. "They would hit someone or choke someone, then made us say it was O.K. when they knew it wasn't."

          Instructors forced recruits to hold stress positions on concrete until elbows and knuckles bled, he said. They often ordered recruits to form a human wall to hide punishment from view or took recruits alone into the bathroom.

          Instructors singled out minority recruits they disliked for extra hazing, Mr. Weaver said, including two immigrants, a man with what Mr. Weaver called a "feminine voice" and a Muslim from Brooklyn whom instructors called "the terrorist." Twice, Mr. Weaver said, the Muslim recruit was sent for medical attention after long bouts of extra training.

          "They would just push them, try to make them fail," Mr. Weaver said.

          That recruit, who is still in the Marines, declined to comment.

          Instructors hid hazing from officers, Mr. Weaver said, and officers did little to police it. Most of the abuse, he said, happened in the barracks, known in the Marine Corps as squad bays, where officers rarely ventured and where instructors said "real Marines are made." There, Mr. Weaver said, instructors piled dozens of recruits in a small boiler room and walked on them. He also said the instructors covered the squad bay in laundry soap and ordered the recruits to push the tallest recruit along the concrete as "a human scrub brush."

          "They were always telling us, 'What happens in the squad bay stays in the squad bay,' " Mr. Weaver said.

          Recruits were warned not to report the abuse, he said, and instructors repeated a motto used in street gangs and prisons, "Snitches get stitches."

          Junior and senior instructors covered for one another, he said.

          Violence was a common response to slight missteps, Mr. Weaver said. He said he saw his senior drill instructor and another instructor take one recruit into the woods after the recruit accidentally struck one of the instructors during a training exercise, and beat him bloody.

          Mr. Weaver said he was grabbed by the shirt by a third instructor after inadvertently bumping into him, and that instructor slammed his head repeatedly against the doorway until other recruits pulled him away.

          Mr. Weaver said that he reported the assault to his senior drill instructor, but that his instructor responded by saying that Mr. Weaver did not appear to be injured and should stay out of the instructors' way.

          Mr. Weaver also provided new details about the night in July last year when the Muslim recruit was forced into a dryer.

          Late that night, he said, four or five drill instructors from another platoon came into the squad bay smelling of alcohol and screamed at recruits to lie face down on the floor. Mr. Weaver said he watched them repeatedly slap a recruit, hard enough that the blow could be heard through the barracks.

          Later, Mr. Weaver said, the group returned. He watched from his bunk as they took the Muslim recruit into the laundry room.

          "We heard screaming, doors being slammed, loud noises," Mr. Weaver said. "I was scared, I didn't know what they were doing to him."

          Afterward, Mr. Weaver said, the recruit was clearly shaken. Mr. Weaver tried to comfort him when, he said, one of his drill instructors came in and told the Muslim recruit not to report what had happened.

          Mr. Weaver graduated from basic training in July and shipped off to Naval Air Station Pensacola, in Florida. But the abuse he had seen in boot camp caught up with him, he said. Bad dreams kept him from sleeping; he lost motivation to train. A lifelong runner, he lacked the energy to go for a jog on the beach, he said.

          "Everyone was so proud of me, but I just saw the Marines as one big lie that I was now a part of," he said.

          After he was hospitalized for being suicidal in September, he was put on medication and began seeing a base psychologist.

          In November Mr. Weaver told his commander he was not well enough to train. The psychologist treating him wrote two letters to his commander, Maj. Jenny A. Colegate, recommending a general discharge for medical reasons.

          But Major Colegate, who in a previous assignment had trained recruits at Parris Island, ordered Mr. Weaver to return to duty. When he refused, citing the psychologist's advice, the Marines discharged him for a "pattern of misconduct."

          Maj. Clark Carpenter, a Marine Corps spokesman, said that Major Colegate was not available for comment but that the discharge was technically correct because Mr. Weaver had refused to train. He added, though, that not all information had been included in the recommendation for a discharge that went for final approval, and that it was likely that if it had been included, Mr. Weaver would not have received the punitive discharge

          For months Mr. Weaver has been doing odd jobs in his neighborhood. The other-than-honorable discharge on his record has become a badge of shame and makes it hard to find work, he said.

          He said he feels as if his future was taken from him.

          "All I ever wanted to be was a Marine, and I was a good Marine," he said. "But now I'm being punished for a bunch of stupid stuff that isn't supposed to happen."






























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