Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










You are invited to a special public event featuring:

Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3
Finally free after 43 years in solitary confinement!

Wed. Sept. 7, 7pm
2969 Mission St., San Francisco


Albert Woodfox, the last of the prisoners known as the Angola 3 was finally released from prison on his birthday, February 19, 2016, after serving 43 years in solitary confinement, most of those years in the infamous Angola State Prison in Louisiana. He and his comrades Robert King and the late Herman Wallace, were subjected to horrific abuse for decades for organizing a chapter of the Black Panther Party inside Angola. Albert has joined Robert King in speaking across the nation and internationally, calling for an end to solitary confinement and mass incarceration.

Join us in welcoming this heroic fighter for justice to San Francisco!

$5-10 donation (no one turned away for lack of funds)

Wheelchair accessible. Refreshments provided.

More info: 415-821-6545 or www.ANSWERsf.org 



UNACpeace@gmail.com           518-227-6947              www.UNACpeace.org

Join UNAC at the No War 2016 conference in Washington, DC, September 23 - 25, 2015

For more information:  http://worldbeyondwar.org/NoWar2016/

Save the Date.
The next UNAC conference will be held in Richmond, VA from April 21 - 23, 2017

Also, UNAC is a co-sponsor of the Southern Human Rights Organizers' Conference, which will be held in Mississippi from December 9 - 12.  UNAC has been making important inroads in the South for the movement against the wars at home and abroad.  This will be an important conference for the movement as a whole and UNAC will also contribute financially to make it a success.  If you can help with this effort by making a contribution for the conference, please contribute here:https://www.unacpeace.org/donate.html and the money will be used for the SHROC.

UNAC has added a page on political prisoners in the U.S. to our web site.  Please see:https://www.unacpeace.org/political-prisoners.html

UNAC will also be adding a blog to our web site with articles, video and more from our members and friends.  More information will follow soon.

* All reports and articals represent the ideas of the author and not necessarily of UNAC or any of its affiliated groups.

If your organization would like to join the UNAC coalition, please click here: https://www.unacpeace.org/join.html



Don't forget to save dates for Ali Abunimah speaking in Berkeley on Oct. 18, Chivvis Moore's book event on Sept. 27 in Oakland -- and Noura Erakat in Oakland Nov. 17!

Tickets for Ali's event will be available very soon, more info on all these events below.


Book Reading with Bay Area Author/Activist Chivvis Moore
Tuesday, September 27 in Oakland

Please Join Us!

Book Reading with Bay Area Author/Activist CHIVVIS MOORE

& her new memoir:

First Tie Your Camel, Then Trust in God: 

An American Feminist in the Arab World

Tuesday, September 27, 7pm

360 42nd Street, Oakland

FREE -- and we hope you'll buy Chivvis' book, which benefits MECA!

What begins as a trip to meet Hassan Fathy – Egyptian author of the influential Architecture for the Poor – becomes a 16-year odyssey, one that stretches from a year working in a master carpenter's shop in Egypt to 11 years teaching English in Palestine. Offering a portrait of a land and a people not found in headlines or sound bytes, Chivvis' book humanizes the misunderstandings and tragedies that arise when we fail to appreciate the humanity at the core of us all.

"I have been reading your beautiful, sad, and deeply moving story, learning a lot of disturbing history about something I thought I knew about but never saw in such depth. This is an important memoir that…evokes tears and also some laughter, with a great sense of compassion and empathy."

–Alan Rinzler, former editor, Simon & Schuster

"I cried all the way through reading First Tie Your Camel. The tone, the genuine and honest description of reactions and feelings about the experiences, enabled me to truly understand for the first time why, as a Palestinian living in the West Bank, I always feel so upset and physically ill."

– Muna Giacaman, Instructor, Bir Zeit University, West Bank

"Chivvis takes us on a journey that is fascinating, eye-opening, and ultimately heart-breaking – initially as a fresh-eyed newcomer working in a 1970's community in Cairo that most Americans have never seen – to life in occupied Palestine, before and after the 2nd intifada…She leads from the heart, earning hard-won respect from Palestinian neighbors, students, colleagues. Honest, unassuming and vulnerable, she asks the hard questions."

– Penny Rosenwasser, MECA staffer & author, Hope into Practice, Jewish women choosing justice despite our fears

Chivvis Moore lived 16 years in the Arab world, including 11 years in the West Bank. She has earned her living as a journalist, carpenter/general building contractor, editor and teacher.

Wheelchair accessible

Cosponsored by Joining Hands, Jewish Voice for Peace/Bay Area

Electronic Intifada co-founder/director Ali Abunimah
Tuesday, October 18 in Berkeley

Electronic Intifada co-founder/director ALI ABUNIMAH!

Tuesday, October 18, 7pm

First Congregational Church of Berkeley

2345 Channing Way (@ Dana)

Ali Abunimah is a Palestinian-American journalist and author of "The Battle for Justice in Palestine" -- which won the 2014 Palestine Book Award -- and "One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse." He received the 2013 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship and has been an activist on these issues for over 20 years.

Alice Walker calls him "a special voice to champion us, one that is… fierce, wise -- a warrior for justice and peace -- someone whose large heart, one senses, beyond his calm, is constantly on fire."

Tickets available soon!

Benefit for MECA, wheelchair accessible

Cosponsored by KPFA, Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), Jewish Voice for Peace/Bay Area

COMING UP NOVEMBER 17 IN OAKLAND: Palestinian Activist/Scholar/Human Rights Attorney 

NOURA ERAKAT, Back in the Bay!


Rumi's Caravan: Recitation of World Poetry -- benefiting MECA

Saturday, September 10 in Oakland

Copyright (C) 2016 Middle East Children's Alliance All rights reserved.

Middle East Children's Alliance

1101 8th Street

Berkeley CA 94710 United States



Chelsea Manning Support Network

Chelsea faces charges related to suicice attempt

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Chelsea Manning threatened with indefinite solitary confinement for suicide attempt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign the petition

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

Write the Secretary of the Army

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



WASHINGTON, DC 20310-010

Help us pay for Chelsea's legal representation

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

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

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

Please donate today!










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

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




Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser



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

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

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

Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had

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


Please send letters to:

Marquette Branch Prison

Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671

1960 US Hwy 41 South

Marquette, MI 49855

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

c/o Dorothy Pinkney

1940 Union St.

Benton Harbor, MI 49022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney

Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,

Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<

Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,

David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice

Sara Flounders – International Action Center


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

Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



TAKE ACTION: Mumia is sick

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

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

Calling into Prison Radio, Mumia noted: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Action for Mumia

Call prison officials to demand immediate treatment!

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

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

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

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

    Tom Wolf, PA Governor 

    Phone  717-787-2500

    Fax 717-772-8284                                             

    Email governor@pa.gov

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

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

    Thank you for keeping Mumia in your heart and mind,

    Noelle Hanrahan

    Director, Prison Radio


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







    This message from:

    Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

    06 January 2016

    Mumia Is Innocent!  Free Mumia!




    Imam Jamil (H.Rap Brown) moved

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

    Sign the Petition:

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

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

    ASAP: The Forgotten Imam Project

    P.O. Box 373

    Four Oaks, NC 27524


    Luqman Abdullah-ibn Al-Sidiq




    Major Battles On

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

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

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

    Remember I mentioned, "paid?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Other men have done more for less.

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

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

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

    And the fight ain't over.

    [©'16 MAJ  6/29/16]

    Major Tillery Needs Your Help and Support

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

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

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

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


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

      Go to JPay.com;

      code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

      Tell Philadelphia District Attorney

      Seth Williams:

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

      Call: 215-686-8711 or

      Write to:

      Major Tillery AM9786

      SCI Frackville

      1111 Altamont Blvd.

      Frackville, PA 17931

        For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot


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



        Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

        Sign the Petition:


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

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

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

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

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

        Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

        In solidarity,

        James Clark
        Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
        Amnesty International USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




          Sign the Petition:


          Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:

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

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

          American Federation of Teachers

          Campaign for America's Future

          Courage Campaign

          Daily Kos

          Democracy for America


          Project Springboard

          RH Reality Check


          Student Debt Crisis

          The Nation

          Working Families



          Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

          Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

          Dear Supporters and Friends,

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

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

          My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

                                    Lorenzo's wife,

                                     Tazza Salvatto

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

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

          Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                      DF 1036

                      SCI Mahanoy

                      301 Morea Rd.

                      Frackville, PA 17932

           Email: Through JPay using the code:

                        Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                        Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                        Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

          Have a wonderful day!

          - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

          Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                      DF 1036

                      SCI Mahanoy

                      301 Morea Rd.

                      Frackville, PA 17932

           Email: Through JPay using the code:

                        Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                        Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com













          1)  Court Costs Entrap Nonwhite, Poor Juvenile Offenders

          "Fines, fees and restitution mandates are levied on juvenile offenders to varying degrees in every state..."

          AUG. 31, 2016





          JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When Dequan Jackson had his only brush with the law, at 13, he tried to do everything right.

          Charged with battery for barging into a teacher while horsing around in a hallway, he pleaded guilty with the promise that after one year of successful probation, the conviction would be reduced to a misdemeanor.

          He worked 40 hours in a food bank. He met with an anger management counselor. He kept to an 8 p.m. curfew except when returning from football practice or church.

          And he kept out of trouble.

          But Dequan and his mother, who is struggling to raise two sons here on wisps of income, were unable to meet one final condition: payment of $200 in court and public defender fees. For that reason alone, his probation was extended for what turned out to be another 14 months, until they pulled together the money at a time when they had trouble finding quarters for the laundromat.

          Dequan's experience is hardly an isolated one. The ways that fines and fees can entrap low-income people in the adult courts has received enormous attention in the past year or two. But the systematic imposition of costs on juvenile offenders, with equally pernicious effects on the poorest of them, is far less known.

          And for Dequan and his family, it got worse. Duval County, where they live, charges a dollar per day for probation supervision, so that meter kept on ticking. On a recent evening in their sparse apartment, in a rough public housing complex here, his mother, Shenna Jackson, displayed their unpaid bill from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice's Cost of Care Recovery Unit: $868.

          "You feel like you're drowning and you're trying to get some air, but people are just pouring more water into the pool," is how Dequan, now a 16-year-old honor student and star linebacker at Robert E. Lee High School, described his despair over what, for this family, is a crushing financial burden.

          Fines, fees and restitution mandates are levied on juvenile offenders to varying degrees in every state, a new national survey of these practices has found. The effects are greatest on the poor and racial minorities, creating a two-tiered system of justice, according to the report, published by the Juvenile Law Center, a legal aid and advocacy group in Philadelphia.

          In juvenile systems intended to help wayward youths go straight, the study found, these costs are often counterproductive, drawing young people, especially poor minorities, ever deeper into the maze of criminal courts and straining already-fragile families.

          These measures are intended to help recoup public costs, make offenders feel accountable and repay crime victims for losses, but in practice they often do not meet these goals, researchers say. "Asking people to pay what they don't have doesn't help anyone," said Jessica Feierman, an associate director of the law center and the chief author of the report.

          In some places, offenders may be offered a chance to enter an after-school program instead of being formally charged — but only if they can pay a program fee, the report found. So, instead, they miss the chance for help and gain a criminal record.

          If they cannot pay fees, impoverished offenders may, like Dequan, spend extra months and years on probation. In some cases, they may even be incarcerated longer because they cannot pay the daily fee for a GPS ankle bracelet. One 13-year-old in Arkansas who could not pay several hundred dollars in fines for truancy, the report found, spent three months in detention instead.

          In another practice that deepens inequities, about 20 states charge fees to have juvenile records expunged or sealed; in South Carolina, for example, juvenile offenders must pay more than $300.

          A new analysis of juvenile cases in the Pittsburgh area found that unrealistic fines and fees contribute to recidivism and have an unequal effect on nonwhite offenders.

          Nonwhite offenders owed more on average than white offenders at the time their cases were closed, said Alex R. Piquero, a criminologist at the University of Texas at Dallas and an author of the study, which will be published in the journal Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice. Even accounting for the severity of offenses, those who owed the most were more likely to be rearrested.

          Kate Weisburd, the director of the Youth Defender Clinic of the East Bay Community Law Center in Berkeley, Calif., recalled her surprise in 2014, when she discovered that an offender owed more than $4,000, including $29 per night for his stay at a detention center.

          "There's no point in trying to have low-income defendants pay for the justice system," she said. "It's like drawing blood from a stone, and it only pushes them further into debt."

          She praised Alameda County for a recent decision to stop imposing courtroom, probation and other fees.

          Restitution — requiring offenders to compensate their victims for damages — presents a more complicated challenge, experts agree.

          "We want kids to learn from their mistakes, and part of that is making the victim whole," said Brent Pattison, the director of a center for children's rights at the Drake Law School in Des Moines. "But we also have to be realistic," he added.

          Back when Dequan Jackson's mother was unable to pay his court costs, the family was scraping by on meager slices of the father's disability checks. Six months ago, Ms. Jackson finally landed a job, as a cashier at Walmart, but the probation bill still seems beyond reach, she said, because "we are literally living from paycheck to paycheck."

          If the arrears are not paid, they could be converted to a civil liability when Dequan turns 18, a financial cloud that could prevent him from getting credit or worse.

          If his family had been able to hire a private lawyer, Dequan might have been diverted to a community program and never charged in the first place.

          Once charged, the court and probation fees might have been waived on hardship grounds, if the family had received proper advice from overburdened public defenders and probation officers. But bewildering bureaucracies, and a lack of sustained legal help, are common obstacles.

          The courts "don't equip the families with the knowledge they need to navigate the system," said Amy Donofrio, who teaches Dequan and other at-risk boys in a leadership class at Robert E. Lee High School.

          In the end, it took the volunteer help of justice officials who met Dequan through that class for him to obtain this year the promised reduction of his crime to a misdemeanor.

          Dequan dreams of getting a football scholarship to college and has already received strong interest from two schools, he said. But for college and after, it would clearly help to have his record expunged or sealed.

          The family has not yet looked into the procedure. It will cost them $125.



          2)  Lead Tests on New York City Schools' Water May Have Masked Scope of Risk

          AUG. 31, 2016




          When the results of tests for lead in the water at more than 1,500 New York City school buildings were announced in July, officials said that fewer than 1 percent of all the samples taken showed lead concentrations that exceeded Environmental Protection Agencyguidelines. Given other safety measures in place, officials assured parents, the water was safe to drink.

          But a review of how the testing was conducted suggests that the amount of lead in the water that students consume could be greater than the results indicate.

          According to the city, every water outlet in each school was turned on fully for two hours the night before the samples were taken — a practice known as pre-stagnation flushing that cleans most soluble lead and lead particles from pipes and thus reduces lead levels temporarily.

          In February, the E.P.A. recommended against the use of pre-stagnation flushing when sampling water in homes, saying that the step "may potentially lower the lead levels as compared to when it is not practiced."

          Because the E.P.A. does not regulate the testing of water in schools, its guidance on pre-stagnation flushing does not apply directly to New York's procedures. But the agency's voluntary guidelines for schools do not recommend such flushing and generally direct schools to mimic normal consumption patterns when taking samples.

          "The results should be thrown into the garbage, and the city should start over," said Marc Edwards, a civil engineering professor at Virginia Tech who helped uncover dangerously high lead levels in the water in Flint, Mich., touching off scrutiny of drinking water across the country.

          Yanna Lambrinidou, an anthropologist who has worked with Dr. Edwards to expose lead contamination in water in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, and an affiliate faculty member at Virginia Tech's Department of Science and Technology in Society, said in an email that New York City's schools "may have just broken the national record for flawed testing."

          "Flushing is inappropriate any time you want to assess lead concentrations coming out of individual taps," Dr. Lambrinidou wrote in the email. She said that water in schools is often stagnant for long periods of time — after school hours and on weekends, holidays and other breaks — and that the idea is to test it under conditions similar to those in effect when children might drink it. "Unless N.Y.C. schools flush every drinking water tap every evening for 2 hours routinely, their sampling technique is both unreliable and scientifically and morally indefensible," she wrote.

          Dan Kass, a deputy commissioner in the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, defended the process used to test the water. In an interview last week, he said the most important thing when sampling for lead was to have a period of stagnation, and that whether the water was flushed before that period began, and for how long, would not affect the results.

          The purpose of a stagnation period, Mr. Kass said, "is that it essentially acknowledges that there's going to be use of water the day before." He continued, "Whether it's flushing or actual use, it's just use, and that's entirely what's intended by the overall testing protocol."

          Mr. Kass also said the flushing was intended to create a consistent baseline for the tests, regardless of whether the samples were taken on a Monday morning after a building had not been used over the weekend or collected on another day of the week.

          At the city's schools, contractors, after finishing the flushing, left for roughly eight hours and returned around 5 a.m. At each outlet to be tested, a sample was taken of the first water out of the tap, known as the first draw. The water was then run for 30 seconds and another sample — known as the second draw — was taken. A second-draw sample that shows an elevated lead concentration indicates a problem not simply with a fixture but a more sustained source of lead in the plumbing.

          Over all, 510 of the city's 1,520 occupied school buildings had at least one outlet where the first-draw water sample had a lead concentration over 15 parts per billion, the E.P.A.'s "action level" for lead in municipal water systems. And 153 buildings had at least one outlet where the second-draw sample exceeded the cutoff. Eight buildings had at least one outlet where a first- or second-draw sample had a lead concentration over 500 parts per billion.

          Public School 254 in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, which has more than 700 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, was among the schools with the most samples showing elevated lead levels: 13 first-draw samples and five second-draw samples had concentrations over 15 parts per billion. The first-draw sample at one water fountain had a concentration of 712 parts per billion; the second-draw sample had a concentration of 34.8 parts per billion.

          A fountain at Public School 42 on Staten Island, which has roughly 950 students, yielded a first-draw sample with a lead concentration of 2,087 parts per billion, and a second-draw sample with a concentration of 607 parts per billion.

          Officials said the city had acted to protect children in the buildings that had samples with lead levels exceeding 15 parts per billion. Where a water outlet yielded a sample with a concentration above the cutoff, the outlet was replaced and the building's custodian was told to flush all outlets in the school every Monday morning and after every holiday. The city said those buildings would be retested within two years.

          Asked about the city's procedure, Monica Lee, the E.P.A. press secretary, said it would not necessarily have yielded misleading samples. It was important, Ms. Lee said, for the conditions of sampling to "represent typical conditions under which water is being consumed." She also said that schools were often tested during the summer, and in that case flushing was "necessary to simulate normal operating conditions when children are drinking the water."

          The tests in New York City were started in March and completed by the end of the school year.

          Young children are particularly at risk from exposure to lead. High levels of lead in the blood can stunt mental development and damage organs, and even low levels can affect intellectual development, ability to pay attention and academic performance, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

          Lead poisoning among children has declined in New York City since 2005, according to a 2015 report by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In 2014, 840 children under 6 were newly identified with blood lead levels of at least 10 micrograms per deciliter — a level the C.D.C. used to use as its "level of concern" — down from 2,705 children in 2005. (The C.D.C. revised its guidelines in 2012, saying that five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood should be of concern.)

          On Monday, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Freddi Goldstein, initially said that while the city believed its testing procedures were sound, "out of an abundance of caution" it would abandon pre-stagnation flushing when it began retesting schools in the fall. A short time later, she rescinded that statement and said the flushing would continue.

          "No child has ever tested positive for lead poisoning as a result of the water in our schools," she said. "Our testing protocols fall well within federal guidelines, and the latest results have made clear that our safeguards are absolutely effective at keeping water in our schools safe."

          The practice of pre-stagnation flushing received increased attention after the water crisis in Flint erupted. At the height of the problems there, the city, following guidelines from Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality, told residents to flush the water in their homes for five minutes before letting it stagnate and then taking a sample. That, experts said, hid the lead problems. In April, two state environmental officials in Michigan were charged with multiple crimesrelated to their roles in the contamination of Flint's water, including violating the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act with the flushing instructions.

          Dr. Edwards and Dr. Lambrinidou said the most extreme example of flushing they had previously heard of was in the Washington, D.C., school system, which in 2007, began flushing water for 45 minutes the night before taking samples. The practice ended after an outcry from parents.



          3)  Imprisoned ex-Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal denied hepatitis C treatment

          Request for life-saving anti-viral medication rejected on technicality Judge finds Pennsylvania protocol for inmates out of line with constitution 

          By Renée Feltz, September 1.2016


          The internationally known imprisoned former Black Panther and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal has had his request for a life-saving hepatitis C treatment denied by a federal judge.

          Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, but maintained his innocence and Amnesty International says he was denied a fair trial. After 30 years on death row, his sentence was overturned on constitutional grounds. He is now serving life without parole, and his supporters have shifted their focus to his access to medical care.

          Abu-Jamal sued the state of Pennsylvania to receive anti-viral medication for hepatitis C after he was hospitalized in critical condition last year. Officials told him he was not sick enough to be eligible for the treatment, which has a 90-95% cure rate but costs $1,000 per dose, and is taken once a day for 12 weeks.

          On Wednesday US district court judge Robert Mariani said Abu-Jamal's lawsuit wrongly targeted the warden and the prison system's medical chief, and should have named the four members of the state's hepatitis C committee instead. Abu-Jamal's lawyers say the committee did not exist at the time the lawsuit was filed.

          One of the members was later added as a defendant: Dr Paul Noel, chief of clinical services for the state's department of corrections. The judge cited his testimony that the state's protocol is designed "to identify those with the most serious liver disease and to treat them first, and then … move down the list to the lower priorities".

          He said prisoners with esophageal varices, or enlarged veins in the throat that have begun to bleed would "move on to immediate treatment, and if they don't have varices, they can wait".

          In court filings, a lawyer for the Pennsylvania's prison system wrote "there simply is not enough money to treat every individual" with chronic hepatitis C and that treating all of them "would cost approximately $600m. Such an expense would effectively cripple the department".

          Even as the judge denied Abu-Jamal's request he still found that the evidence and testimony presented in the case demonstrate that Pennsylvania's hepatitis C protocol for inmates fails to meet constitutional standards. 

          Newly obtained evidence in Abu-Jamal's case revealed that Pennsylvania treats just about five of more than 6,000 prisoners who are infected with hepatitis C. The details will probably be used in an unrelated class action lawsuit filed by other Pennsylvania prisoners seeking similar treatment for the disease.

          Hundreds who have been moved to the prison infirmaries are "dying in isolation, often chained to their beds" says Noelle Hanrahan, a supporter of Abu-Jamal who monitors prison conditions and records his commentaries for Prison Radio.

          According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis C has infected three million people in the United States, including more than 700,000 in prison nationwide. 

          Other states have responded to the health crisis differently. In the last two years New York increased spending on drugs for prisoners infected with the disease by more than 350%. California is also treating prisoners with hepatitis C on a large scale. 

          Judge Mariani wrote that Pennsylvania's "treatment protocol as currently adopted and implemented … prolongs the suffering of those who have been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C". He added that it "allows the progression of the disease to accelerate so that it presents a greater threat" of related liver disease, cancer and death. 

          Abu-Jamal's lawyers called the decision a partial setback.

          "We are frustrated he won't get the treatment that the rest of the judge's opinion makes clear he is entitled to," said Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center. "But the judge's ruling makes clear that if what he considers the proper defendants were in front of him, he was prepared to strike down the protocol and order that my client be treated in accord with proper medical standards."



          4) This Small Indiana County Sends More People to Prison

          than San Francisco and Durham, N.C., Combined. Why?

          By Josh Keller and Adam Pearce

          September 2, 2016


          LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — Donnie Gaddis picked the wrong county to sell 15 oxycodone pills to an undercover officer.

          If Mr. Gaddis had been caught 20 miles to the east, in Cincinnati, he would have received a maximum of six months in prison, court records show. In San Francisco or Brooklyn, he would probably have received drug treatment or probation, lawyers say.

          But Mr. Gaddis lived in Dearborn County, Ind., which sends more people to prison per capita than nearly any other county in the United States. After agreeing to a plea deal, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

          "Years? Holy Toledo — I've settled murders for a lot less than that," said Philip Stephens, a public defender in Cincinnati.

          Dearborn County represents the new boom in American prisons: mostly white, rural and politically conservative.

          A bipartisan campaign to reduce mass incarceration has led to enormous declines in new inmates from big cities, cutting America's prison population for the first time since the 1970s. From 2006 to 2014, annual prison admissions dropped 36 percent in Indianapolis; 37 percent in Brooklyn; 69 percent in Los Angeles County; and 93 percent in San Francisco.

          But large parts of rural and suburban America — overwhelmed by the heroin epidemic and concerned about the safety of diverting people from prison — have gone the opposite direction. Prison admissions in counties with fewer than 100,000 people have risen even as crime has fallen, according to a New York Times analysis, which offers a newly detailed look at the geography of American incarceration.

          Just a decade ago, people in rural, suburban and urban areas were all about equally likely to go to prison. But now people in small counties are about 50 percent more likely to go to prison than people in populous counties.

          The stark disparities in how counties punish crime show the limits of recent state and federal changes to reduce the number of inmates. Far from Washington and state capitals, county prosecutors and judges continue to wield great power over who goes to prison and for how long. And many of them have no interest in reducing the prison population.

          "I am proud of the fact that we send more people to jail than other counties," Aaron Negangard, the elected prosecutor in Dearborn County, said last year. "That's how we keep it safe here."

          He added in an interview: "My constituents are the people who decide whether I keep doing my job. The governor can't make me. The legislature can't make me."

          But many criminal justice experts say that the size of the disparities undercuts the basic promise of equal protection under the law.

          "Letting local prosecutors enforce state laws differently throws all notions of equality under the law out the window," said Peter Wagner, executive director of the Prison Policy Initiative, which advocates reducing incarceration rates. "This data puts governors and legislative leaders on notice that if they want to put criminal justice reforms into effect, they need to look at how prosecutors use and abuse their discretion."

          The analysis is based on previously unpublished data from the Department of Justice on state prisons, which hold the vast majority of American inmates sentenced to a year or more.

          The divide does not appear to be driven by changes in crime, which fell in rural and urban areas at roughly equal rates, according to the F.B.I. Instead, it reflects growing disagreement about how harshly crime should be punished, especially drivers of the criminal justice system like theft, drugs, weapons and drunken driving.

          Cities have adopted a more lenient approach to drug offenses in particular, diverting many low-level drug offenders to probation or treatment rather than to jail.

          Those choices have started to reverse — if only modestly — longstanding racial disparities in American prisons, where blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated at drastically higher rates than whites. The annual number of new black prison inmates fell by about 25 percent from 2006 to 2013, and the number of Hispanic inmates fell by about 30 percent, while the number of new white inmates fell by only about 8 percent, according to the most complete federal data.

          The number of black prisoners is still "shockingly high," said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project. "Nonetheless, these numbers are encouraging. It suggests that this is not necessarily an intractable problem."

          But rural, mostly white and politically conservative counties have continued to send more drug offenders to prison, reflecting the changing geography of addiction. While crack cocaine addiction was centered in cities, opioid and meth addiction are ravaging small communities like those in Dearborn County, where 97 percent of the population is white.

          A collection of small, quiet towns near the Ohio River, Dearborn County does not look like a prison capital. Violent crime is rare. There are few empty storefronts. And local officials, flush with money brought in by a popular local casino, have built a convention center and a high school football field fit for a movie set.

          But the extraordinarily high incarceration rate here — about one in 10 adults is in prison, jail or probation — is driven less by crime and poverty than by a powerful prosecutor, hard-line judges and a growing heroin epidemic.

          Opioid addiction spread early here. Mr. Negangard, the prosecutor, has fought the heroin crisis by aggressively going after drug crimes.

          "If you're not prosecuting, then you're de facto legalizing it," Mr. Negangard said.

          Mr. Negangard has faced few obstacles to getting more convictions. He supervises his own police force, an unusual arrangement that allows him to investigate and prosecute most of the county's serious crime. The police go after even minor drug cases, often offering to dismiss drug possession charges in exchange for information on friends or family members who sell drugs.

          Probation officials are just as strict. Offenders released on probation are tested for drugs frequently, and hundreds of people who violate the terms of their probation have been sent to state prison in the past few years.

          By 2014, Dearborn County sentenced more people to prison than San Francisco or Westchester County, N.Y., which each have at least 13 times as many people.

          "It's government run amok," said Douglas A. Garner, a local criminal defense attorney.

          Lawmakers in Indiana, concerned about the rising cost of incarceration, enacted a law that reduced criminal penalties starting in 2014 — one of at least 40 states to approve measures to reduce incarceration in the past few years. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence, now the Republican vice-presidential nominee.

          But the new rules, which Mr. Negangard fought, have done little to curb incarceration rates in Dearborn County.

          Mr. Negangard said the long sentences here are the envy of police officers in Cincinnati. If a suspect is willing to sell drugs in Dearborn County, the Cincinnati police will help steer the case here, where greater punishment is almost assured, he said.

          One Cincinnati man, Scott Huy, drove from Cincinnati to Dearborn County in 2013, enticed by a heroin deal set up by a police informer. Mr. Huy had already been convicted of drug trafficking twice in Ohio, for which he had served a total of five years in prison.

          After Mr. Huy sold seven grams of heroin to an undercover officer, he was sentenced to 35 years.

          Lawyers here have a term for when defendants like Mr. Huy realize the geographic disparity: "sticker shock."

          Defense lawyers outside Dearborn County respond with disbelief as well.

          "That is so far out of line with the crime itself and any common notion of decency," Jeff Adachi, San Francisco's public defender, said of Mr. Huy's sentence.

          The rural resistance to lighter penalties goes beyond Indiana.

          Prosecutors in New York City have sharply cut incarceration rates in part by diverting drug offenders from prison after state changes encouraged paths to treatment. But in the rest of the state, prosecutors and judges continue to put drug offenders in prison at a steady flow.

          In Texas, a series of changes intended to cut the prison population led to large reductions in new prisoners from Houston and Austin. But the rest of the state has had only modest declines.

          Court systems and jails in many populated areas are overcrowded, putting pressure on judges to offer probation. A federal court ordered California to reduce chronic prison overcrowding in 2009, leading to the largest declines in admissions in the country. Low-level offenders are now released on probation or diverted to local jails.

          At the same time, cities tend to have more resources to fight addiction outside of jail and prison. In Cincinnati, most people who are caught with small quantities of drugs are charged with a crime but are diverted to drug court, where they are placed in an outpatient treatment program, said Mr. Stephens, the public defender. If the offender completes the program, the charge is dismissed.

          "People are trying to work with it here in Cincinnati so it doesn't overwhelm the justice system," Mr. Stephens said.

          In smaller counties, prisons are often the only well-funded response to a range of social ills, including drug abuse and mental illness.

          To handle the expanded caseload, Dearborn County officials spent $11.5 million to double the size of the local jail and approved $11 million more to expand the county courthouse.

          But money for drug treatment is scarce. At least 225 of the 250 inmates in the Dearborn County jail have a drug addiction, estimated Jonathan L. Cleary, a county judge. But drug treatment programs can serve only about 40 of them.

          Mr. Negangard said he wished the county could find more money for drug treatment. But he said about half of all addicts in prison had a criminal mind-set and would keep committing crimes whether they got clean or not.

          "We can't just let the bad guys go," he said.

          This small Indiana county sends more people to prison than San Francisco and Durham, N.C., combined. Why?



          5)  African Elephant Population Dropped 30 Percent in 7 Years

          SEPT. 1, 2016


          The African elephant population is in drastic decline, having shrunk about 30 percent from 2007 to 2014, according to a survey published this week.

          The deterioration is accelerating: Largely because of poaching, the population is dropping 8 percent a year, according to the Great Elephant Census, which was released on Wednesday.

          "The findings of the Great Elephant Census show clearly that poaching is still decimating elephant herds across Africa," Ibrahim Thiaw, the deputy executive director for the United Nations Environment Program, said about the survey. "This practice makes no sense on any level — moral, economic or political."

          Patricia Awori, an official with the African Elephant Coalition, said, "These numbers are shocking for elephants across the continent." She added, "It proves that an urgent, cohesive, Africa-wide approach is required to save them."

          The census results are the culmination of a $7 million undertaking financed by the philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who committed in 2010 to giving away half of his wealth, estimated at $18.6 billion this year, according to Forbes magazine.

          Starting in early 2014, teams of researchers fanned out across Africa in several dozen airplanes covering nearly 290,000 miles in a quest to sample the continent's elephant population. They counted about 352,000 savanna elephants along the way, accounting for 93 percent of all those remaining in the 18 countries surveyed. More than half live in Botswana and Zimbabwe.

          The researchers also counted elephant carcasses, finding an estimated 12 for every 100 living elephants — an unsustainable level — suggesting that the continent's population is in decline. The count was compared with historical data to estimate the change since 2007, a turning point for the elephant population, which had grown over the previous dozen years.

          Poaching is largely to blame for the population's downward spiral, according to the census. In an effort to curb the practice, the United States this summer announced a near-total ban on the commercial trade of African elephant ivory.

          David Banks, the Nature Conservancy's Africa program director, said: "We knew that the situation was bad on the ground, but the results are worse than expected." He added, "Even if poaching is stopped cold right now, it'll take decades for populations to recover."

          In some cases, human encroachment appears to have forced elephants to adapt their behavior. This year, an elephant named Morgan and fitted with a GPS tracking collar surprised the researchers when he entered war-torn Somalia from Kenya and managed to live. They credited his survival to the fact that he moved mostly by night, resting in thick bush during the day.

          "This is extreme behavior adapted to survive the worst-known predator on Earth: man," Iain Douglas-Hamilton, one of the scientists closely monitoring the elephant, told The New York Times in March.

          But Morgan's story is just one hopeful tale. The researchers maintain that elephants can't survive without stronger conservation efforts.

          "Worrying won't save elephants," said Cristián Samper, the president and chief executive of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Enactment of solutions will, and we know the solutions: strong governance, funding for rangers and closing down ivory markets among them."

          To raise awareness, Mr. Allen's Vulcan Productions is releasing two movies this year, a feature documentary on the ivory trade and the true story of a baby elephant born into a rehabilitation program in Botswana.

          "We have been making desperate cries to the world that all is not well for the African elephant across the continent and feel sad that the results vindicate our position," Paul Udoto, a spokesman for Kenya Wildlife Service, said of the census.

          "It's another golden chance for the world to unite and give elephants a new lease on life and save them from the inexorable descent into extinction."



          6)  Tobacco Industry Works to Block Rules on E-Cigarettes

          SEPT. 2, 2016





          WASHINGTON — The e-cigarette and cigar industries have enlisted high-profile lobbyists and influential congressional allies in an attempt to stop the Food and Drug Administration from retroactively examining their products for public health risks or banning them from the market.

          The campaign targets a broad new rule that extends F.D.A. jurisdiction to include cigars, e-cigarettes and pipe and hookah tobacco.

          The bipartisan effort has featured a former senator who did not register as a lobbyist before going to work for the cigar companies and a former Obama administration official, now a private consultant, who is trying to undo his earlier work reviewing the rule. In addition, one member of Congress introduced industry-written legislation without changing a word of it.

          The battle shows how, nearly two decades after the $200 billion settlement between tobacco companies and state attorneys general to compensate the public for health consequences of smoking, the industry still wields extraordinary clout in Washington.

          With its army of more than 75 lobbyists, tobacco-aligned companies have argued that the F.D.A.'s so-called Deeming Rule could hurt public health by forcing a large share of e-cigarette companies out of business.

          "The F.D.A. has blatantly ignored evidence that our products improve people's lives," said Christian Berkey, chief executive of Johnson Creek Enterprises, one of the first companies to sell the e-liquid ingredient used in e-cigarettes and vaping products.

          F.D.A. officials acknowledge that e-cigarettes, made out of tobacco-derived nicotine, are potentially less harmful than cigarettes. But they insist they must examine whether the electronic cigarettes or the liquid nicotine juices might contain toxic chemicals like diethylene glycol, an ingredient also used in antifreeze, or candy-like flavors contributing to the surge in the numbers of teenagers using e-cigarettes. They also want to examine the safety of the e-cig devices themselves after reports of battery-related burns.

          "In the absence of science-based regulation of all tobacco products, the marketplace has been the wild wild West," said Mitch Zeller, the director of the F.D.A.'s Center for Tobacco Products, which is in charge of enforcing the new rule. "Companies were free to introduce any product they wanted, make any claim they wanted, and that is how we wound up with a 900 percent increase in high schoolers using e-cigarettes and as well as all these reports of exploding e-cigarette batteries and products that have caused burns and fires and disfigurement."

          The lobbying effort has been led by the Altria Group, the nation's largest tobacco company, which has a growing e-cigarette unit. Documents obtained by The New York Times show that Altria last year distributed draft legislation on Capitol Hill that would eliminate the new requirement that most e-cigarettes already on sale in the United States be evaluated retroactively to determine if they are "appropriate for the protection of public health."

          The proposal was endorsed by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which has its own e-cigarette unit, as well as the National Tobacco Company, a major seller of loose tobacco, and trade associations representing the cigar industry and convenience stories, the documents show.

          Altria delivered its proposal, entitled "F.D.A. Deeming Clarification Act of 2015," to Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma in April 2015, the documents show, even before the F.D.A. rule became final.

          Just two weeks later, Mr. Cole introduced the bill — with the title and 245-word text pulled verbatim from the industry's draft.

          "Yes, we have shared our views with many policy makers, including Congressman Cole's office," David Sutton, a spokesman for Altria, said in a written statement, after being presented with a copy of its "legislative language" draft and Mr. Cole's resulting bill, which has 71 co-sponsors and is still pending in the House.

          Separately, former Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, spent part of her first year after losing re-election pressing officials from the White House, State Department and F.D.A. on behalf of the cigar industry — even though records show she had not registered as a lobbyist as required by federal law, which Ms. Landrieu said was an oversight.

          "This is my fault," she said. "I'm calling my lawyer now to get it corrected."

          The electronic vapor industry — representing smaller companies that sell e-cigarettes that can be refilled with vapor juice — also have a lobbying contingent, buttressed by a highly motivated community of consumers and vape shops.

          Mr. Cole, and Representative Sanford D. Bishop Jr., Democrat of Georgia, who co-sponsored one of the tobacco-related measures originally drafted by Altria, said that the rule would bankrupt small businesses and curb the availability of e-cigarette options, which some use as a way to quit smoking.

          "I don't like regulating in the rearview mirror," Mr. Cole said in an interview.

          Mr. Bishop and Mr. Cole are also two of the top House recipients of tobacco industry campaign donations, with Mr. Bishop receiving $13,000 from Altria this election cycle and a total of at least $60,000 from the industry since 2004.

          Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said it was embarrassing that more than 70 lawmakers had signed on as co-sponsors of legislation that lobbyists from Altria and other industry groups originally wrote.

          Continue reading the main story

          "For Congress to consider going backward in how we regulate the public health hazard is simply mind-boggling," she said. "It wasn't that long ago that tobacco companies were telling the public that cigarettes were not addictive and denying clear evidence that they caused cancer."

          Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, who helped negotiate the 1998 tobacco settlement, said: "It is worse than spoiled kids who don't get their way. It is bullies that don't get their way and who are holding public health hostage."

          Industry executives and their allies on Capitol Hill dismiss such criticism, noting that they support provisions intended to prevent youths from buying and using e-cigarettes or cigars.

          "The argument that it would make it more accessible to children is fallacious," Mr. Bishop said.

          The cigar industry lobbying pitch has gained the most traction in Congress.

          Arguing that premium cigars are more of a recreational product with fewer health risks than cigarettes, the industry has been separately pushing members of Congress to enact legislation that would broadly exempt "premium cigars" from the new F.D.A. oversight. A bill to do so — also written in part by industry lobbyists — was introduced by Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida. It has 20 co-sponsors, while an identical bill in the House has another 165 co-sponsors.

          The industry lobbyists, in addition to Ms. Landrieu, include Paul DiNino, a former finance director of the Democratic National Committee and onetime senior aide to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader. Mr. DiNino is assigned to enlist prominent Senate Democrats. Mr. Reid, records show, contacted the White House on the industry's behalf, with his spokeswoman explaining that cigar-oriented events are important to Las Vegas.

          To target the House, the cigar industry hired former Representative James T. Walsh, Republican of New York, a former House Appropriations Committee member, who has implored lawmakers and their staffs to back the exemption for cigars.

          Mr. Walsh and his lobbying partners from the firm K & L Gates drafted language that was inserted into a House Appropriations bill approved by the full committee in April that defines an exemption for a premium cigar and that would prohibit the F.D.A. from spending money in the 2017 fiscal year on enforcement provisions.

          "My fingers are crossed," Mr. Walsh said, about the prospects for getting the exemption.

          Another critical assist came from Andrew Perraut, who until 2014 served as a desk officer at the Office of Management and Budget division that reviews major federal regulations, including the F.D.A.'s tobacco rule. White House records show that he helped represent the Obama administration at more than a dozen meetings with outside parties, mostly pressing the government to ease the rule, before he was hired by a cigar-industry trade organization and by NJoy, a manufacturer of e-cigarettes.

          Within less than a year, records show, Mr. Perraut was back at the Office of Management and Budget on the other side of the table.

          Because Mr. Perraut was not a senior official and the regulation affects numerous industry players, federal revolving door rules did not apply, an agency spokeswoman said. Mr. Perraut said he was simply trying to help stop a "train wreck" that will be caused by the F.D.A. overreach.

          Richard W. Painter, who served as the White House chief ethics lawyer during the George W. Bush administration, said Mr. Perraut's quick turnabout violated the spirit of President Obama's ethics pledge, intended to prevent former aides from lobbying the executive branch.

          "Even if it is not prohibited, it is just not appropriate," he said.

          Interest groups attempting to shape the debate also have financial patrons with a clear stake in the outcome.

          Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group, and National Center for Public Policy Research, a pro-free market think tank, have come out against the F.D.A. rules, even as they receive funding from the e-cigarette and tobacco industry, including Altria and R.J. Reynolds, records show.

          Jeff Stier, a scholar at the National Center for Public Policy Research, and Grover Norquist, from Americans for Tax Reform, both said they opposed the F.D.A. rule as bad policy.

          The American Lung Association, which has spoken out in defense of the rule, accepts contributions from pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, which sell smoking-cessation products that could lose sales if e-cigarettes continue to gain market share, Mr. Stier added.

          Erika Sward, an association lobbyist, while acknowledging the money her nonprofit group has received from companies that sell smoking-cessation treatments, said the criticism of her group is a diversionary tactic.

          "For so many years the focus in fighting tobacco wars has been on the cigarette industry," she said. "With historic declines in cigarettes use, which is wonderful, what we are seeing is surge in use in other tobacco products. And their push on Capitol Hill reflects this new clout."



          7)  Why No Punishment for Financial Executives? Fannie Mae Is Case Study

          Few executives have faced the punishment of prison and fines for misdeeds stemming from the financial crisis. The Securities and Exchange Commission's recent decision to throw in the towel in its civil case against Daniel H. Mudd, the chief executive of Fannie Mae in the go-go years immediately preceding the crisis, helps explain why.

          Law enforcement officials have often protested that it is not easy to win cases against senior executives at financial firms, who are often far away from low-level wrongdoers on the organizational chart, and whose work product is usually filtered through compliance officers, risk managers and lawyers.

          Maybe so. The outcome of the Mudd case certainly looks like a loss. Last week, Mr. Mudd settled the case, which has been pending since 2011, for $100,000 – which Fannie Mae will pay. That is small change, given the $24 million he earned from Fannie Mae from 2006 to 2008.

          Five years of litigation in pursuit of $100,000 does not bespeak a particularly efficient allocation of law enforcement resources.

          Mr. Mudd and Fannie settled cheaply because of a feature of financial crisis enforcement cases. Although the headline allegations of malfeasance can look straightforward, wading through the proof has been, for the government, much harder.

          This dynamic might look surprising. The government should be happy to tell a simple story to a jury unlikely to be interested in accounting nuances. It leaves the defendant with the job of trying to win by raising the complications.

          And the basic business case against Mr. Mudd is easy to grasp. Fannie Mae was a publicly traded company, and so he and his subordinates owed the shareholders candid and comprehensive disclosures about the businesses the firm was in, and the risks it was taking.

          During the period that he was chief executive, the company expanded its subprime and Alt-A, or low disclosure, mortgage businesses. The value of those businesses collapsed in 2008, as did the housing market more generally. Fannie required a government takeover and, ultimately, an injection of $187 billion into the firm and its peer, Freddie Mac.

          Could Fannie's officers really have been accurately disclosing the risks the firm was taking shortly before its sudden collapse? It is here where the case got complicated.

          While he was chief executive, Mr. Mudd said that subprime mortgages accounted for about 2 percent or less of the mortgages Fannie Mae was insuring. The commission's case largely rested on the fact that this percentage did not include the insurer's longstanding programs for low-credit score borrowers, Expanded Approval and MyCommunityMortgage.

          The theory about the Alt-A loan disclosures was also not that Fannie had not disclosed that it was in the business. It classified a number of its loans as Alt-A, and told investors as much. But it did not disclose that it had instructed lenders not to classify certain other loans as Alt-A, even though they were also supported by low documentation.

          That does not sound great, but it is not as if Mr. Mudd was hiding the fact that Fannie was getting into subprime and Alt-A mortgages.

          Moreover, Fannie did tell investors about its credit metrics for its entire book of business, which included all of the mortgages it insured: prime, subprime and other.

          None of Fannie's regulators indicated that they disagreed with the way that Fannie described its loan exposure. Indeed, Mr. Mudd claimed that, long after he left, Fannie was still disclosing its exposures the way it did when he was chief executive.

          So Mr. Mudd had a no-harm, no-foul defense.

          Moreover, securities fraud requires not just that the disclosures be inaccurate, but also that there is also some intent to mislead. That is why the government likes to quote cynical or boorish emails from financial executives in its complaints and news releases. But it did not find any of this sort of "smoking gun" awareness in the executive's records.

          As a general matter, the government's handling of the financial crisis suggests that it has changed its approach from one visiting pain on individuals to one satisfied with corporate fines, often extracted through settlements paired with so-called deferred-prosecution agreements, or their civil equivalent, which are commitments by the companies that settle to change their internal practices in a way that limits the potential for future lawbreaking.

          The government has largely shied away from trying to draw blood against the senior executives who presided over the institutions that crashed during the financial crisis. The problems and outcome of the Mudd case exemplify some of the reasons for the change.



          8)  When Police Unions Impede Justice

          SEPT. 3, 2016





          Across the country, municipal governments have signed contracts with police unions including provisions that shield officers from punishment for brutal behavior as well as from legitimate complaints by the citizens they are supposed to serve.

          That may soon change, as public outrage over police killings of civilians is ratcheting up pressure on elected officials to radically revise police contracts that make it almost impossible to bring officers to justice.

          The most striking case in point is Chicago, which has been roiled by a police scandal stemming from a cover-up in the case of a 17-year-old named Laquan McDonald, who was executed by a police officer nearly two years ago.

          The Police Department first claimed that Mr. McDonald was brandishing a knife and moving toward officers when he was killed. A video — probably available to the city within hours of the shooting but not made public until last November, more than a year later — showed that Mr. McDonald was moving away from the cops when they shot him 16 times, and that the police were obviously lying.

          But it was not until last month that the city's inspector general recommended firing several officers, some of whom have since retired, for making false statements.

          That recommendation was passed on to the police superintendent, Eddie Johnson. Mr. Johnson, who lacks the power to fire the officers outright, has filed administrative charges against five officers with an agency known as the Chicago Police Board, whose members are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council.

          It is incredible that this is the first official disciplinary action taken against the officers, 22 months after the killing. And even if the board votes to dismiss the officers, they will be able to challenge their dismissals in court.

          As a task force appointed by Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, noted in April, "The collective bargaining agreements between the police unions and the city have essentially turned the code of silence into official policy."

          This absurdly slow process is a direct outgrowth of collective bargaining agreements that actually encourage officers to lie. The agreements bar investigators from questioning officers within the first 24 hours after a shooting, giving them time to coordinate their accounts. They micromanage investigations, limiting what interrogators can do. Beyond that, if an officer lies during an investigation, he or she cannot be charged with making a false statement unless the investigator presents the officer with a new set of allegations that specifically address the lie.

          The labor agreements also discourage citizens from lodging misconduct complaints. Among other things, they prohibit most anonymous complaints, a problem in a city like Chicago, where the department has a history of brutality and even torture — and where citizens are understandably fearful of reprisal.

          As in other cities, officers in Chicago can challenge disciplinary findings in proceedings overseen by arbitrators, who frequently have a vested interest in pleasing the police unions so they can keep their jobs. One earlier review of arbitration cases found that disciplinary sanctions were "routinely cut in half by arbitrators." The system makes it difficult for citizens to get a full explanation of how their complaints are handled.

          Justice Department investigations in other cities — including Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo. — have uncovered poor police oversight systems. To restore public confidence in the law, elected officials around the country will have to stop reflexively truckling to police unions and demand contracts that actually reflect the public interest.



          9)  Response of Philippines President to Fatal Blast Raises Fears

          SEPT. 3, 2016


          MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of a "state of lawlessness" in the Philippines after a blast that left at least 14 deadraised fears on Saturday that it could lead to a curtailment of basic freedoms.

          The declaration of a state of lawlessness would allow the military to carry out some police operations, including patrolling urban areas, conducting searches, enforcing curfews and setting up checkpoints, Mr. Duterte said.

          A presidential spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said Saturday that the declaration was "limited" and allowed for the use of troops only to deal with security threats and to "suppress" violence.

          Mr. Abella emphasized that the president was not declaring martial law, which he could do only in response to an "invasion or rebellion, and when the public safety requires it."

          He called for unity and told the public to "complain less and do more" in the wake of the explosion in Davao, on the southern island of Mindanao, on Friday.

          Mr. Duterte's announcement was viewed with concern by some lawmakers and human rights groups, who had already expressed alarm over a violent war on crime and drugs initiated by Mr. Duterte. Nearly 1,800 people were killed by the police and vigilante groups in the weeks after his inauguration in June.

          The human rights group Amnesty International said Saturday that while it recognized government's duty to protect civilians, Friday's attack "must not be met by government action that itself disregards human life."

          "Resort to unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests or other human rights violations will only play to the hands of those who seek an ever-widening cycle of violence and abuse," said Champa Patel, Amnesty's senior researcher in the region.

          The extremist group Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the blast, according to The Associated Press, but Mr. Duterte said investigators were also looking at other possible suspects, including drug syndicates singled out in his recent crackdown.

          A military spokesman, Col. Edgar Arevalo, said that the country's armed forces had been placed on red alert and that all leaves had been canceled.

          Colonel Arevalo said provincial military commanders would work with their police counterparts and regional officials to set up local "peace and order councils."

          To "tackle this affront to our democracy," he said, the military was asking "our people to bear with us as we dutifully, but courteously, conduct our checkpoints and increase our presence in some areas."

          The explosion, which also wounded more than 60 people, appeared to have been caused by a bomb set off at a market near a hotel frequented by the president. Mr. Duterte was Davao's mayor for nearly two decades before becoming president.

          Mr. Duterte was in Davao at the time of the blast. Presidential aides said they suspected that Abu Sayyaf militants were retaliating for an intensified military offensive against the group. In the past week, the military sent thousands of troops to hunt for the extremists on the island of Jolo, in the southern province of Sulu, where members of Abu Sayyaf are believed to be holding hostages.

          Responding to the president's remarks after the explosion, the Senate minority leader, Ralph G. Recto, urged Mr. Duterte to "explain and elaborate in writing" his reasons for placing the "whole country under a state of lawlessness" and clarify the scope of his order.

          Franklin M. Drilon, the president pro tempore of the Senate, advised the president to be "prudent," saying such a declaration would affect the business climate.

          Mr. Abella, the president's spokesman, contended that the declaration was covered under the 1987 Constitution, which he said gave the president the authority to call out the military and police to "suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion." But Senator Risa Hontiveros said it raised "deep concerns" and might increase public fears in ways that could be used by the Abu Sayyaf, or others.

          "I worry that the president might play to the script of the perpetrators of the violence," Ms. Hontiveros said.



          10)  Oklahoma Orders Shutdown of Wells After Record-Tying Earthquake

          SEPT. 3, 2016




          Oklahoma officials on Saturday ordered oil and gas operators to shut down three dozen wastewater disposal wells following a 5.6-magnitude earthquake that tied a record as the strongest in state history.

          The quake, centered near Pawnee, rattled the state just after 8 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, tying a record set in 2011 for the strongest such tremor in Oklahoma history, according to the National Weather Service.

          Local officials reported moderate to severe damage and at least one nonlife-threatening injury.

          "We are finding a lot of rural houses north, northwest of Pawnee that are seeing extensive damage," Sheriff Mike Waters of Pawnee County said on Saturday.

          Pawnee County Emergency Management posted photos on Facebook just before noon of a pile of rubble, noting that three buildings had moderate damage, while several others had minor damage.

          Rocks and bricks fell from some businesses in town, and items fell off grocery store shelves, Sheriff Waters added.

          Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for Pawnee County. She said on Twitter that crews inspecting bridges for damage found few in need of repair.

          The United States Geological Survey recorded later earthquakes of magnitudes 3.6, 3.4 and 2.9. The first quake was felt as far away as Chicago and Austin, Tex.

          Thousands of earthquakes have hit Oklahoma in recent years. Most have been imperceptible, but the number that can be felt — generally of magnitude 3.0 and higher — has risen significantly. Only three earthquakes of that size or stronger were recorded in 2009. Last year, the state had 907 such quakes. So far this year, there have been more than 400.

          Many seismologists say the quakes are caused by high-pressure injection of wastewater from oil and gas wells, both conventional and hydraulically fractured, or fracked. As wastewater under pressure migrates into rock formations, it alters stresses along old faults, allowing them to slip.

          The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which oversees oil and gas activity, announced that it had ordered the shutdown of wastewater wells across about 500 square miles in the area hit by the quake. About three dozen wells are affected, and will have to shut down in as little as a week, Ms. Fallin said on Twitter.

          The United States Geological Survey said in a statement that oil and gas activity had set off many earthquakes in the state, but that it could not yet say the practice caused Saturday's quake.

          "Without studying the specifics of the wastewater injection and oil and gas production in this area, the U.S.G.S. cannot currently conclude whether or not this particular earthquake was caused by industrial-related, human activities," it said.

          Oklahoma has thousands of wastewater disposal wells. Since mid-2015, the state has ordered operators of some to reduce the volume of wastewater injected, in the hope of reducing earthquakes.

          The earthquake on Saturday was the largest in the state since a 5.6-magnitude quake struck near Prague, about 60 miles south of Pawnee, in November 2011. That quake injured two people and damaged more than a dozen homes and a college building.



          11)  New York City Will Change Lead Testing Methods at Its Schools

          SEPT. 2, 2016





          New York City said on Friday that it would adjust its procedure of testing for lead in the water supply of schools, after experts said the city's methods could lower the levels found.

          Between March and June, the city tested the water in all 1,520 occupied school buildings. The night before taking samples, the contractors who conducted the testing arrived at the buildings and let the water run from all outlets for two hours, a practice known as pre-stagnation flushing. An investigation by The New York Times uncovered the practice, which cleans pipes of soluble lead and lead particles, and thus can result in samples with lower than normal lead levels.

          The Environmental Protection Agency's voluntary guidelines for testingwater in schools do not mention pre-stagnation flushing, and the agency has recommended against it when testing water in people's homes.

          In July, the city said that less than 1 percent of samples tested had lead concentrations that exceeded the agency's "action level" of 15 parts per billion.

          But Marc Edwards, a civil engineering professor at Virginia Tech, said that a long period of flushing would have skewed the results significantly and that the city should throw out the test results and start over. 

          City officials initially defended their methods, saying the pre-stagnation flushing did not affect the accuracy of the test results. They said the flushing protocol was developed for testing during the summer, when many school buildings are empty, to mimic normal water use, and then extended to all tests.

          On Friday, the city changed course — partly. A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Freddi Goldstein, said that in the future the city would try to conduct as many tests as possible while school was in session, and on mornings other than Mondays, and that for these tests it would abandon the pre-stagnation flushing step. But she said the city would continue doing the pre-stagnation flushing when it was necessary to collect samples on Monday mornings or over school holidays.

          Ms. Goldstein said that starting in October, the city would retest every building that had at least one water sample that exceeded 15 parts per billion of lead (there were 510 of them). The city will also begin retesting the buildings that did not have any samples over that threshold.

          In buildings where one or more sample exceeded the E.P.A.'s action level, the city has removed those outlets and also instructed its staff to flush all of the outlets in the building briefly every Monday morning. It has said that those steps will protect children from consuming water with high levels of lead.



          12)  22 Migrant Women Held in Pennsylvania Start a Hunger Strike to Protest Detention

          SEPT. 2, 2016




          Margarita Alberto cannot forget the tantrum her 6-year-old son threw several months ago. One afternoon he started shouting that he wanted to leave the Pennsylvania immigration detention center for families, where they have been held since Oct. 28, 2015, "He said, 'It's your fault that we're here, your fault!'" Ms. Alberto said.

          And then, she recalled, he tightened the lanyard holding his ID card around his neck, threatening to choke himself if they didn't get out.

          Ms. Alberto and her son, migrants from El Salvador seeking asylum in the United States, are still detained, along with 65 other women and children at the Berks County Residential Center in Leesport, Pa., about 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

          "The truth is, I'm in limbo," Ms. Alberto said in Spanish through a translator during a telephone interview last week from the center. "I don't know if I'll be released here or if they'll return me to my country, which is what I don't want."

          She is one of 28 women who were denied asylum and who have filed a federal lawsuit seeking new hearings because, they said, their original "credible fear" hearings were conducted improperly. An appeals court rejected their claim on Monday.

          On Wednesday Ms. Alberto and 21 other women who call themselves "Madres Berks," or "Berks Mothers," restarted a hunger strike they had conducted for 16 days in August. Their action drew renewed attention to the Obama administration's policy toward migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who have crossed the United States border in order to flee extreme violence.

          As a response to an enormous influx of Central Americans in 2014, the Department of Homeland Security began putting mothers and children who crossed the border in detention, hoping that it would discourage others from coming to the United States. But under pressure from advocates, and prompted by a federal court ruling in August 2015, the agency changed course, moving to curtail the prolonged detention of most families seeking asylum.

          The family detention center in Berks County is one of three in the United States; the other two are larger and in Texas.

          Jeh Johnson, the Homeland Security secretary, said last month that a committee would conduct an internal review of the privately run family detention centers by November. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said that the Berks center, run by the county, would be evaluated in a separate review.

          When Mr. Johnson said last month that the average length of stay at a family detention center was 20 days, that upset the women in Berks and prompted their hunger strike.

          "I have been here for 320 days," Amparo Osorio, 26, who came from Honduras and has a 2-year-old son, said on Tuesday. Like all the women detained at Berks who spoke in telephone interviews conducted in Spanish, she asked not to be identified by her complete name, for fear of retaliation by staff members.

          "What we want is for our voices to be heard," Ms. Osorio said.

          Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, sent a letter on Aug. 24 to Mr. Johnson about the prolonged detentions and the conditions at Berks.

          "The families detained there have in many cases escaped unspeakable horrors in their countries of origin and are seeking asylum and a better life, " Mr. Casey wrote. "We can do better than the treatment they are receiving."

          Bridget Cambria, one of three local lawyers who represents the detainees, said there are limited services available to the families at Berks. Children, who range in age from 2 to 16, are divided into two classrooms, but are not allowed to attend an outside school. (The government said it provides five full-time teachers.) The families have access to outdoor recreation, but are prohibited from going outside a wooden fence. They can use the internet, but social media is not allowed. The detainees must clean the center themselves — for which they get paid $1 a day.

          The mothers say the monotony is hardest on their children. "We wake up and we see the same walls, the same ceiling, and we think to ourselves, 'When will this end?'" said Estefani, 16, the oldest child at Berks. She and her sister and their mother, Maria Leiva, who came from El Salvador, had been in detention for 373 days as of Friday.

          About a third of the women are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit brought in March by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Department of Homeland Security. The suit contested the legality of their initial asylum interviews. A district court in Philadelphia said that it did not have jurisdiction in the case.

          But on Monday, a federal appeals court went even further. It ruled that the women, because they had been apprehended hours after having "surreptitiously" crossed the border, had no right to sue. That, said several legal scholars this week, violated habeas corpus, the basic constitutional right to challenge the legality of imprisonment or detention.

          Only suspended in times of rebellion or invasion, that right has been extended to slaves and, more recently, to noncitizen "enemy combatants" held at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba.

          "It was exactly designed to protect outsiders," said Eric M. Freedman, a professor at Hofstra Law School who specializes in constitutional law.

          "If this decision is left intact, it's going to be the first time in the history of this country in which noncitizens who enter the United States and are on U.S. soil, are not going to have the opportunity in habeas corpus to challenge their removal orders," said Lee Gelernt, the lead lawyer arguing the case for the ACLU.

          The women are appealing the decision.

          They say their acts of civil disobedience — protests and hunger strikes — have provoked tensions with Berks and immigration officials. Thomas Decker, an immigration field officer, met with the women in August and warned them to suspend the hunger strike because they could become too weakened to take care of their children; he said they could be sent to an "adult jail" without their children, three mothers said.

          "We told him, 'Why would he do that?'" Ms. Leiva, 41, said. "We weren't criminals or delinquents."

          Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for the immigration agency, said in a statement: "I.C.E. fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference. I.C.E. does not retaliate in any way against hunger strikers. I.C.E. explains the negative health effects of not eating to our residents. For their health and safety, I.C.E. closely monitors the food and water intake of those identified as being on a hunger strike."

          The women question why they cannot be released and wear ankle bracelets with tracking devices while waiting for their asylum cases to proceed.

          Some women who are part of the lawsuit have already been released. Mr. Walls said, adding that "many factors can contribute to the length of a resident's stay, including but not limited to the current disposition of their immigration cases."

          But Ms. Alberto's lawyers say the government is retaliating against her for speaking to the media. Last week, the government requested her emergency transfer to a more secure center in Karnes City, Tex., because of her "disruptive" presence at Berks. Her lawyers argued against the move in an appeal filed Wednesday, offering consistently positive conduct reports by the staff as evidence.

          Dr. Alan Shapiro, the senior medical director of pediatric programs of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, has made several visits to Berks to examine the children. In court documents filed last week, he said another move to a detention center would be harmful to Ms. Alberto's 6-year-old son; he diagnosed the child with chronic Post-traumatic stress disorder, from witnessing violence in El Salvador, the trip across the border and his prolonged detention.

          Dr. Shapiro also confirmed that during his evaluation, the boy again simulated choking himself with his ID card lanyard — a "clear sign of stress and anxiety," he said.

          The adverse psychological effects of detention on children have been subject to several reports from Human Rights First, an advocacy group, including one in 2015 on conditions at Berks.

          The immigration agency was not able to immediately grant a request for a New York Times reporter to observe the center and to interview the residents on site.

          There is yet another complicating matter: The center is operating without a license. In February, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services revoked the county's license because it applied only to serving children — not their mothers as well. The county appealed and has been allowed to operate while the matter is pending. The next hearing is scheduled for November.



          13)  'This Is Not My Child': JetBlue Flew 2 Boys to Wrong Cities, Mother Says

          SEPT. 2, 2016





          It is any parent's nightmare.

          Maribel Martinez of New York had arranged for her 5-year-old son, Andy, to fly home unaccompanied on JetBlue from the Dominican Republic on Aug. 17. But when she went to pick him up at Kennedy International Airport, she got the shock of her life.

          Airline employees presented her with a boy who was clutching Andy's passport and luggage. But he was not her child.

          "Is this your son?" Ms. Martinez said she was asked, according to news reports on Thursday.

          She replied, "No, this is not my child."

          Ms. Martinez, 38, told The Daily News, which initially reported the situation: "I thought he was kidnapped. I thought I would never see him again."

          The airline eventually found her son in Boston. JetBlue said it had put Andy on the wrong plane in a mix-up with another child who had also flown out of the Dominican Republic. "It was a total three hours before she found out he was O.K. and wasn't kidnapped," Ms. Martinez's lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said in an interview on Friday.

          Ms. Martinez said at a news conference that she had been on vacation with Andy in the Dominican Republic in July, but had to return to New York before he did. Her relatives took him to the airport in Santiago for his return flight.

          It was unclear what happened to the other boy. Joseph Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates J.F.K., said two uniformed officers stayed with him and airline personnel near the boarding gate until the child was put on a flight to Boston.

          In an emailed statement on Friday, JetBlue said that two unaccompanied children of the same age had been booked from Cibao International Airport in Santiago on separate planes: Flight 924 to Boston and Flight 436 to New York. But each child boarded a flight to the wrong destination, the airline said.

          "Upon learning of the error, our teams in J.F.K. and Boston immediately took steps to assist the children in reaching their correct destinations," the statement said. "While the children were always under the care and supervision of JetBlue crew members, we realize this situation was distressing for the families."

          The airline added, "We are also reviewing the incident with our leadership and Santiago airport team to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future."

          JetBlue declined to make an official available to answer questions on Friday. But the airline said it had refunded the tickets and offered each family a credit toward future JetBlue flights. Ms. Martinez was given $475 for the cost of the ticket and $2,100 for future travel, according to news reports.

          The Transportation Department, which oversees consumer protection issues, said that it had no regulations for travel by unaccompanied minors, but that it was up to the airlines to devise their own policies.

          Special procedures apply to children ages 5 to 11 who are flying alone, but they vary from airline to airline, the department said.

          JetBlue said children at least 5 but under 14 could travel alone on its planes, but only on nonstop flights, and for a $100 fee.

          Caitlin Harvey, a department spokeswoman, said the family might be able to pursue a civil action. "While we receive anecdotal reports about these types of incidents, we do not keep statistics on them," she said in an email on Friday.

          Mr. Rubenstein said that he wanted an independent government agency to investigate before he decided on any litigation, and that he had sent the Federal Aviation Administration a letter asking them to look into the matter.

          "Any parent can understand the terrifying fear a mother goes through knowing that her child is missing," he told The News.



          14)  How Spy Tech Firms Let Governments See Everything on a Smartphone

          SEPT. 2, 2016



          SAN FRANCISCO — Want to invisibly spy on 10 iPhone owners without their knowledge? Gather their every keystroke, sound, message and location? That will cost you $650,000, plus a $500,000 setup fee with an Israeli outfit called the NSO Group. You can spy on more people if you would like — just check out the company's price list.

          The NSO Group is one of a number of companies that sell surveillance tools that can capture all the activity on a smartphone, like a user's location and personal contacts. These tools can even turn the phone into a secret recording device.

          Since its founding six years ago, the NSO Group has kept a low profile. But last month, security researchers caught its spyware trying to gain access to the iPhone of a human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates. They also discovered a second target, a Mexican journalist who wrote about corruption in the Mexican government.

          Now, internal NSO Group emails, contracts and commercial proposals obtained by The New York Times offer insight into how companies in this secretive digital surveillance industry operate. The emails and documents were provided by two people who have had dealings with the NSO Group but would not be named for fear of reprisals.

          The company is one of dozens of digital spying outfits that track everything a target does on a smartphone. They aggressively market their services to governments and law enforcement agencies around the world. The industry argues that this spying is necessary to track terrorists, kidnappers and drug lords. The NSO Group's corporate mission statement is "Make the world a safe place."

          Ten people familiar with the company's sales, who refused to be identified, said that the NSO Group has a strict internal vetting process to determine who it will sell to. An ethics committee made up of employees and external counsel vets potential customers based on human rights rankings set by the World Bank and other global bodies. And to date, these people all said, NSO has yet to be denied an export license.

          But critics note that the company's spyware has also been used to track journalists and human rights activists.

          "There's no check on this," said Bill Marczak, a senior fellow at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. "Once NSO's systems are sold, governments can essentially use them however they want. NSO can say they're trying to make the world a safer place, but they are also making the world a more surveilled place."

          The NSO Group's capabilities are in higher demand now that companies like Apple, Facebook and Google are using stronger encryption to protect data in their systems, in the process making it harder for government agencies to track suspects.

          The NSO Group's spyware finds ways around encryption by baiting targets to click unwittingly on texts containing malicious links or by exploiting previously undiscovered software flaws. It was taking advantage of three such flaws in Apple software — since fixed — when it was discovered by researchers last month.

          The cyberarms industry typified by the NSO Group operates in a legal gray area, and it is often left to the companies to decide how far they are willing to dig into a target's personal life and what governments they will do business with. Israel has strict export controls for digital weaponry, but the country has never barred the sale of NSO Group technology.

          Since it is privately held, not much is known about the NSO Group's finances, but its business is clearly growing. Two years ago, the NSO Group sold a controlling stake in its business to Francisco Partners, a private equity firm based in San Francisco, for $120 million. Nearly a year later, Francisco Partners was exploring a sale of the company for 10 times that amount, according to two people approached by the firm but forbidden to speak about the discussions.

          The company's internal documents detail pitches to countries throughout Europe and multimillion-dollar contracts with Mexico, which paid the NSO Group more than $15 million for three projects over three years, according to internal NSO Group emails dated in 2013.

          "Our intelligence systems are subject to Mexico's relevant legislation and have legal authorization," Ricardo Alday, a spokesman for the Mexican embassy in Washington, said in an emailed statement. "They are not used against journalists or activists. All contracts with the federal government are done in accordance with the law."

          Zamir Dahbash, an NSO Group spokesman, said that the sale of its spyware was restricted to authorized governments and that it was used solely for criminal and terrorist investigations. He declined to comment on whether the company would cease selling to the U.A.E. and Mexico after last week's disclosures.

          For the last six years, the NSO Group's main product, a tracking system called Pegasus, has been used by a growing number of government agencies to target a range of smartphones — including iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerry and Symbian systems — without leaving a trace.

          Among the Pegasus system's capabilities, NSO Group contracts assert, are the abilities to extract text messages, contact lists, calendar records, emails, instant messages and GPS locations. One capability that the NSO Group calls "room tap" can gather sounds in and around the room, using the phone's own microphone.

          Pegasus can use the camera to take snapshots or screen grabs. It can deny the phone access to certain websites and applications, and it can grab search histories or anything viewed with the phone's web browser. And all of the data can be sent back to the agency's server in real time.

          In its commercial proposals, the NSO Group asserts that its tracking software and hardware can install itself in any number of ways, including "over the air stealth installation," tailored text messages and emails, through public Wi-Fi hot spots rigged to secretly install NSO Group software, or the old-fashioned way, by spies in person.

          Much like a traditional software company, the NSO Group prices its surveillance tools by the number of targets, starting with a flat $500,000 installation fee. To spy on 10 iPhone users, NSO charges government agencies $650,000; $650,000 for 10 Android users; $500,000 for five BlackBerry users; or $300,000 for five Symbian users — on top of the setup fee, according to one commercial proposal.

          You can pay for more targets. One hundred additional targets will cost $800,000, 50 extra targets cost $500,000, 20 extra will cost $250,000 and 10 extra costs $150,000, according to an NSO Group commercial proposal. There is an annual system maintenance fee of 17 percent of the total price every year thereafter.

          What that gets you, NSO Group documents say, is "unlimited access to a target's mobile devices." In short, the company says: You can "remotely and covertly collect information about your target's relationships, location, phone calls, plans and activities — whenever and wherever they are."

          And, its proposal adds, "It leaves no traces whatsoever."










































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