boat logo

Zaytouna-Oliva taken in International Waters

Whereabouts of Participants Unknown

This afternoon, the Women's Boat to Gaza was making good progress to the shores and the women were emotional about meeting all the people in Gaza who were waiting for them. Some of the Palestinians had spent the night at the beach to greet them.

At 9:58 (EST) we lost total contact with the Zaytouna-Oliva. The US embassy confirmed that the boat was intercepted. We do not know where our friends are.

It is important to know that this happened in international waters and it is not only illegal but sets a bad precedent in giving a greenlight for other nations to attack civilian ships in international waters. The Zaytouna-Oliva was carrying no material aid. This was by design because Israel, as a premise for their attacks, would claim that weapons and contraband were on board. The owner of Zaytouna-Oliva is Israeli.

Ann Wright is a decorated former US diplomat. On board with her were three parliamentarians, an Olympic athlete and Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire. They were committed to nonviolence as much as they were committed to breaking the blockade. 

Ann has a message for you

Ann deserves our support

Ann has traveled thousands of miles and made a great sacrifice for human rights.  We can help her with a few small efforts:

Contact President Barack Obama    (202) 456-1111

Contact Secretary John Kerry           kerryj@state.gov or  

                                                          (202) 647-4000

Unlike other nations that have women on the boat, we Americans provide military equipment to Israel that may very well have been used against Ann and our international friends.  Please ask Secretary Kerry and President Obama to demand Israel immediately release the women and that they do an investigation on the incident as there are a number of troubling circumstances that are against US and international law. And don't forget to say that the blockade on Gaza must end. 

In solidarity!


 PLEASE Donate to Women's Boat to Gaza through the US campaign fiscal sponsorNonviolence International

 Hit the Donate button and, on the second screen, click Add special instructions to the seller, to designate "Women's Boat to Gaza" . 



Israel begins deporting women who tried to sail to Gaza

By Sheila Samples
October 7, 2016

The Women's Boat reports that "all 13 of the women on the Women's Boat to Gaza are currently in the process of deportation after being captured by the Israeli Navy and detained in a prison at Ashdod." A spokesperson says the deportation is going much faster than in prior flotillas. "We… suspect that the reason for the quick release was because of all the negative media attention Israel has been receiving for its illegal interception." 

Original report, Oct. 6:

Israel has begun deporting the all-female crew of sailors who attempted to land in Gaza. The first two women returned to London on Thursday afternoon, a day after Israeli commandos seized the Women's Boat to Gaza, an activist ship skimming towards the Strip's maritime borders.

Mina Harbalou and Huda Rahmeh, both journalists with Al Jazeera, arrived at Heathrow airport, greeted with bouquets of flowers. Harbalou was draped in a Palestinian flag.

The remaining 11 passengers and captain of the Zaytouna-Olivia are still in Israeli custody, according to an organizer with Women's Boat to Gaza, Wendy Goldsmith who spoke to Mondoweiss from Canada. 

The whereabouts of these women is not clear, Goldsmith said. She was on stand-by for updates expected when the women call from airports once in their home countries. She said that a diplomatic source who was in contact with the women while they were inside an Israeli prison had related their last known location. 

"Our understanding is that they have been moved from prison to various detention holding facilities in the airport, where they will then be deported," Goldsmith said. "They don't actually receive their passports back until they are on the plane. We don't have any information that they are on the plane heading home."

Little has been revealed about the actual Israeli interception of the vessel.

"The information I have is that they were apprehended by two Israeli warships and there were another four or five boats around those. And the Zaytouna was boarded by men and women," she said.  

Israel's military said yesterday in a statement that the takeover was "uneventful" and occurred while the Zaytouna was sailing in international waters.

"All we know is what Israel reported so far, which is that it [the interception of the ship] was not violent, but an illegal apprehending of a boat in international waters is by dentition a violent action," Goldsmith responded. 

The detained passengers have weighed-in in the form of pre-recorded messages prepped for release, in the event of Israel putting an end to their sea journey to Gaza. Notable sailors include Mairead Maguire, the Nobel laureate from Northern Ireland, former U.S. army colonel Ann Wright, and Marama Davidson, a parliamentarian from New Zealand's Green Party.

"If you're seeing this, this means the Israeli occupation forces have kidnapped me in international waters and taken me to Israel," Wright said in her message.

Maguire said: "If you're listening to this then you will know that myself and all of the women who sailed on the women's boat to Gaza have been arrested and are in detention in Israel."

In previous encounters where the Israeli navy stopped ships routed to Gaza, the passengers aboard were later detained inside Israel, some charged with illegal entry and banned from returning.

"We have no clue if there are charges. We know that has been a practice in the past," Goldsmith said.

The Zaytouna-Olivia departed from Barcelona in late September, on course to arrive in Gaza this week. Organizers state the purpose of the month-long trip was generating attention for Israel's nine-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. Since Israel placed Gaza under siege in 2007 following the Islamic group Hamas' takeover, travel in and out has been highly restricted and humanitarian goods and reconstruction materials are limited.

Activists have made a cause out of challenging the blockade by sending at least a dozen convoys, mostly packed with aid, to Gaza's shores since 2008. Often their treks herald endorsements. The Women's Boat a salute from musician/activist Roger Waters, who posted on social media this week, "Pink Floyd reunites to stand with the Women of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla."








Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










The SOA Watch Convergence at the Border

October 6-10, 2016

 Please Share Widely

The SOA Watch Convergence at the Border is just a week away! We hope that you are able to join the October 7-10vigils, protests and workshops, that are taking place at the Eloy Detention Center, in Tucson, and in Nogales, Arizona/ Sonora at the border wall. See the schedule of events below and visit the convergence webpage for detailed information: http://SOAW.org/border 

It is important that we have a strong showing of activists from throughout the U.S. and Mexico in the lead-up to the November elections. We are going to take a stand for justice, and we are going to change the culture of militarism, as we demand a fundamental change in US policies that goes beyond elections. Come out and amplify the demands of the convergence:


  • An end to the destructive U.S. military, economic, and political interventions in the Americas.
  • De-militarization of the borders. We need to build bridges with our neighbors, not walls.
  • The dismantling of the racist and sexist systems that steal from, criminalize, and kill migrants, refugees, natives, gender non-conforming people, communities of color, and others throughout the hemisphere.
  • Respect, dignity, justice and self-determination for all communities, especially the poor and most vulnerable
  • No more profits over people! Private military, prison, oil, mining, and other corporations should not determine our future or that of the earth, the people should.


For the full schedule of October 7-10 events, visithttp://www.soaw.org/border/wee kend-program/#schedule

Featured speakers and musicians at the bi-national rally and the vigil at the US/Mexico border wall:http://www.soaw.org/border/spe akers-and-musicians/

Workshops on Saturday, October 8 in Nogales, Arizona, USA:http://www.soaw.org/border/wor kshops-in-nogales-arizona/
Workshops on Saturday, October 8 in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico:  http://www.soaw.org/border/wor kshops-3/

People of Color Space Program on Saturday, October 8 in Tucson, Arizona. Registration/RSVP form, to donate, accommodations & transportation, and more information: http://www.soaw.org/border/fre ntex/

Know Your Rights and Realities With Border Patrol and other law enforcement officers:http://www.soaw.org/border/201 6/09/29/know-your-rights-and- realities/

NEW - Information on Camping at Avalon Gardens http://www.soaw.org/border/201 6/10/01/camping-at-avalon-gard ens/

Support the #ConvergenceAtTheBorder with a donationhttp://SOAW.org/donation

See you at the Border!
SOA Watch


______________________________ ___________

Schedule of Events

++ Denotes event in which one does not have to traverse a Border Patrol Checkpoint to attend

Friday, October 7

  • 9:15am Exhibition of Ten Quilts Memorialize Lives Lost by Migrants Crossing the Desert in the Tucson Sector. This event will take place in the Tucson and Catalina Rooms of the University of Arizona's Student Union (1303 E. University Blvd., Tucson, Arizona)++
  • 5pm - 7:30pm - Vigil and rally at the Eloy Immigrant Detention Center, and Opening of the Convergence Weekend, Welcome, and Know Your Rights Information (1705 E Hanna Rd, Eloy , AZ, 85131)++
  • Welcome and Peña Celebration in Nogales, Mexico, 6:00pm-8pm at the Art Museum (Av. Adolfo Lopez Mateos No. 120Nogales 84000, Mexico)
  • 7pm - 11pm - Concert in Tucson, Arizona at Club Congress, a benefit for No More Deaths. For all that are interested, including People of Color Space participants, and those unable to travel past the Border Patrol checkpoint to Nogales (7pm-11pm, Club Congress, 311 E Congress St, Tucson, AZ)++

Saturday, October 8

  • 8:30am - 9:30am Veteran-led march in Nogales (Sonora/Arizona) kick off on the U.S. side: Hotel Americana, 639 N Grand Ave, Nogales, AZ 85621 kick off on the Mexico side: Plaza Ochoa, Nogales, Son., Mexico
  • 9:45am - 11:45am - Rally at the border wall in Nogales, Sonora / Arizona with speakers and musiciansfrom across the Americas featured speakers will include Michael McPherson of Veterans for Peace; Hector Barajas, the founder of Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana, Mexico; Shena Gutierrez, from the Border Patrol Victims Network, Mexico, human rights activist and Green Party vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka; Isabel Garcia from the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, Indigenous Community Defender Nestora Salgado; Maudí Tzy from the Alliance to Break the Silence and End Impunity from Guatemala, SOA Watch Field Organizer Maria Luisa Rosal and Father Roy Bourgeois, SOA Watch founder Live music performances by Pablo Peregrina, Emmas Revolution, Colleen Kattau, Olmeca, the Peace Poets, Natalia Serna La Muna, Son Jarocho musicians, and the SOA Watch Musicians Collective
  • TUCSON - 9 AM - 8 PM - People of Color Space & Youth of Color Space Workshops, Break-Out Groups, and Plenary addressing mutual solidarity, racial and gender justice. For more information on thePOCS workshops, please click hereIf you are planning on attending the 10/8 POC Space in Tucson, please fill out this Registration/RSVP form. (9am-8pmDunbar African American Culture Center, 325 W 2nd St. Tucson, AZ 85705)++
  • Workshops at Hotel Americana (639 N Grand Ave, Nogales, AZ 85621) in Nogales, Arizona (United States), 1:15pm-7:50pm
  • Workshops in Nogales, Sonora (Escuela Primaria Abelardo L. Rodriguez, Fenochio 23, Fundó Legal, Nogales, Mexico), 1:15pm-7:50pm
  • Nosh & Reflection: A lunch gathering for Jewish activists and allies
  • Anniversary Vigil for José Antonio Elena Rodríguez in Nogales, Sonora: starting with a march at 4 pmfrom the Plaza de las Palomas in Nogales, Sonora to the site where Jose Antonio was killed and a 5 pm mass with the Nogales Bishop, inauguration of the installation of a painting of Jose Antonio, followed by a cultural/musical event
  • Interfaith Ceremony at the border wall & candlelight vigil6:30pm-8:00pm
  • Cross-border concert at the Mexico/U.S. border wall8:00pm-10:30pm with Charlie King, Colleen Kattau, the Peace Poets, emma's revolution, Natalia Serna La Muna, Olmeca, Pablo Peregrina, and Son Jarocho

Sunday, October 9

  • 9am - 1:30pm - ¡No Más! No More! & Presentesmusicians, protest, and art at the border wall We will commemorate those whose lives were lost as a result of state violence. Speakers will include Shannon Rivers, a member of the Akimel O'odham tribe; Padre Prisciliano Peraza, coordinator of CCAMYN in Altar, Sonora; Carlotta of People Helping People from Arivaca; Hector Aristizabal, Colombian human rights activist and torture survivor; Mariela Nájera Romero and Uriel Gamaliel Guzmán, Las Patronas; Marleny Reyes Castillo, Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Maria Guadalupe Guereca Betancourt and Araceli; Carlos Garcia, Puente; Frier Tomás González Castillo coordinator of La 72, Hogar Refugio para Personas migrantes y refugiadas, en Tenosique, Tabasco; George Paz Martin, peace and justice and climate activist and educator; and there will be musical performances by Francisco Herrera, Natalia Serna La Muna, Gabino Palomares and others
  • TUCSON - Informal gathering/continuation of work from previous day's POC Space for those that cannot or choose not to travel to Nogales (time & location TBA)++

Monday, October 10

  • Vigil for José Antonio Elena Rodríguez (time & location TBA)
  • 10am Block Party - Indigenous People Day 2016 at the Global Justice Center in Tucson, Arizona (225 E 25th St., Tucson, AZ 85713). Neoglyphix, Barrio Mindz, live art, dancers, and music in Resistance + Respect.++

If you are still around in the morning on Tuesday, October 11, you can join our friends from the Nuclear Resister from7am – 8:30am for a rally at the Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson (Craycroft Road Entrance at Golf Links)

Featured speakers and musicians at the #ConvergenceAtTheBorder:
http://www.soaw.org/border/spe akers-and-musicians/





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

From: Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

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

Dear Comrades and Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slogans being put forward for this event are:

Mumia is Innocent and Framed! Free Mumia, Now!

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,

Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal



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




Electronic Intifada co-founder/director ALI ABUNIMAH!

Tuesday, October 18, 7pm

First Congregational Church of OAKLAND

2501 Harrison Ave. (at 27th)



Turning Point for the Palestine Solidarity Movement: Can Israeli Apartheid Really Be Defeated?


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."


$15 general admission -- also: $10 low income, $25 Supporter, $50 Freedom Fighter, $100 Changemaker


Buy any of these tickets directly from MECA and avoid the service charge: call Sue at 510-548-0542 weekdays, or email Susan@mecaforpeace.org


Buy $15 tickets at these bookstores and avoid a service change: (East Bay) Moe's, Diesel, Walden Pond; (SF) Modern Times.


Benefit for MECA, wheelchair accessible


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




San Francisco Bay View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Chelsea Manning Support Network

Chelsea faces charges related to suicice attempt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Ellsberg, Michael Stipe protest
inhumane charges against Chelsea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please donate today!










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

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




Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser



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

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

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

Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had

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


Please send letters to:

Marquette Branch Prison

Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671

1960 US Hwy 41 South

Marquette, MI 49855

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

c/o Dorothy Pinkney

1940 Union St.

Benton Harbor, MI 49022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney

Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,

Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<

Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,

David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice

Sara Flounders – International Action Center


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

Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



TAKE ACTION: Mumia is sick

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

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

Calling into Prison Radio, Mumia noted: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Action for Mumia

Call prison officials to demand immediate treatment!

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

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

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

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

    Tom Wolf, PA Governor 

    Phone  717-787-2500

    Fax 717-772-8284                                             

    Email governor@pa.gov

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

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

    Thank you for keeping Mumia in your heart and mind,

    Noelle Hanrahan

    Director, Prison Radio


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







    This message from:

    Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

    06 January 2016

    Mumia Is Innocent!  Free Mumia!




    Imam Jamil (H.Rap Brown) moved

    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)  Joakim Noah, Averse to Wars, Skips Knicks Event at West Point

          SEPT. 30, 2016




          Joakim Noah, the Knicks center, said he had skipped a team dinner at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., on Thursday because he is against war.

          According to news reports, Noah said he had "mixed feelings" about being at West Point, where the team was holding its training camp this week. On Thursday, the team attended a dinner with cadets that included remarks from a retired Army colonel.

          "It's hard for me a little bit," Noah said after a practice on Friday, ESPN reported. "I have a lot of respect for the kids who are out here fighting. But it's hard for me to understand why we have to go to war, why kids have to kill kids around the world."

          He added: "At the end of the day, I'm not anti-troops. It's just not comfortable for me to see kids going out to war and coming back having seen what they've seen, having done what they've done."

          The academy issued a statement on Friday that said, "We are disappointed and feel Mr. Noah's choice of West Point to make a statement is inappropriate because of the great sacrifice that has originated from this institution over our nation's history."

          Noah's remarks came against a backdrop of athletes making gestures in protest. In late summer, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers chose not to stand during the national anthem before his N.F.L. games to protest racial injustice, touching off a national debate.

          Noah was not prompted by the actions of other athletes, Alyson Furch, senior director of communications for his management team, BDA Sports Management, said in an interview on Friday night.

          She said that Noah, who joined the Knicks in July on a four-year, $72 million contract, had not intended to be disrespectful or malicious and was "extremely apologetic." He has long spoken out against violence, she said. "If he'd had another second to say what he said, he would probably would have said it a little differently," Furch said.

          Knicks Coach Jeff Hornacek told ESPN that he supported Noah's decision.

          "Oh, absolutely," he said. "Jo's done, in all his stuff that he does against gun violence and all that, he just didn't feel comfortable, so that's plenty fine with us."



          2)  Outrage Over Fish Kill in Vietnam Simmers 6 Months Later

          OCT. 3, 2016


          HONG KONG — Six months after a chemical spill killed tons of fish and devastated fishing communities along Vietnam's central coast, anger over the episode is still raw, posing a challenge for a government that has struggled to address it.

          In the latest sign of this festering outrage, thousands of demonstrators swarmed a steel factory in the central province of Ha Tinh on Sunday, echoing the street protests that erupted in the country's major cities in April when photographs of piled-up fish corpses were widely shared on social media.

          After weeks of silence, officials acknowledged in late June that the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation, the Taiwanese company that owns the steel factory, had caused the deaths by leaking chemicals into the adjacent South China Sea.

          Formosa admitted responsibility and agreed to pay $500 million in damages for what many Vietnamese consider one of the worst environmental disasters in the country's modern history.

          But residents of coastal villages and towns, where fishing drives the economies, have continued to hold boisterous rallies against the government and the company.

          At Sunday's rally, organized by a local Roman Catholic diocese, riot police officers outside the factory clashed with protesters before fleeing the scene, video and photographs circulating on social media show. Some of the protesters later climbed atop the factory's outer wall.

          Demonstrators said in telephone interviews on Monday that they had attended the rally to demand that Formosa close the factory and compensate them for damages. Hundreds of people from Ha Tinh have sued the company in recent weeks, many with assistance from the Catholic Church.

          Online reports about the protest in the state-controlled news media were quickly removed by the Vietnamese authorities, activists said, but the rally was widely discussed on Facebook. Neither the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry nor senior Formosa officials responded to requests for comment on Monday.

          The fish kill, which has primarily affected Ha Tinh and three other central provinces, was not the first environmental problem to incite public outrage in Vietnam. Last year, hundreds of people staged weekly protests in Hanoi, the capital, over a government plan to chop down 6,700 trees from the city's boulevards. The protests, coupled with indignation on social media, prompted city officials to postpone the plan indefinitely.

          But the fish kill has had a broader national impact than the Hanoi tree protests, analysts say, in part because it has damaged the image of the Vietnamese seafood industry and prompted many in the country to reconsider eating what is a staple of their diet.

          In addition, many ordinary Vietnamese see Formosa's Ha Tinh steel factory as a symbol of China's economic influence in their country — a politically delicate topic that Vietnam's one-party government has tried to play down, especially as China raises geopolitical tensions in Southeast Asia by aggressively pursuing its claims to disputed territory in the South China Sea.

          There is no indication of any involvement by Beijing in the project, but some Vietnamese have focused on the presence of mainland Chinese workers there and have blurred the distinction between China and Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims as Chinese territory.

          In May 2014, the factory was the site of violent protests over China's placement of an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea, off the Vietnamese coast. The factory was under construction at the time, and the construction workers were from a state-owned company from the mainland, the China Metallurgical Group, who had been hired to build it. During the same wave of violence, protesters also vandalized factories in southern Vietnam that were owned by companies from South Korea and Taiwan.

          After four of the Chinese workers were killed, the Chinese government evacuated about 3,000 workers from the factory by ship.

          This past June, after months of refusing to say definitively what had caused the fish kill, the Vietnamese government said it had occurred after Formosa leaked phenol, cyanide and iron hydroxide into the sea from its steel plant.

          But officials did not release any detailed scientific evidence to support their conclusion, raising questions about whether other contaminants had been detected but not publicly reported, said Nguyen Duc Hiep, an environmental scientist in Australia and a visiting researcher at Ton Duc Thang University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam."The government tried to hide information and protect Formosa," said Tran Viet Hoa, a fisherman who said his income had fallen more than 70 percent because of the fish kill. "If Formosa remains in Vietnam and doesn't give us our clean environment back, we will continue to protest."

          Another protester, Hoang Kim, said that he had seen more than 4,000 people at the rally and that many were Catholics. He said the protesters could have easily entered the factory compound but chose not to because they wanted only to make a point, not to vandalize property.

          "If there are heavy metals — for example, lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic — then it will stay in the environment for a very long time, and it's very toxic because it can go up the food chain and cause a lot of damage," Professor Hiep said, adding that the three chemicals that were publicly disclosed are not necessarily toxic to fish in the long term.

          "A lot of people suspect the reason the scientific report didn't come out is because there were a lot of heavy metals," he added.

          The state news media has reported that the fish kill resulted in tens of thousands of lost jobs in the affected provinces, and protesters are questioning the government's suggestions that the problem has largely been resolved.

          Nguyen Viet Thanh, a professor of environmental economics at Vietnam National University in Hanoi, said it was difficult to separate the effects of the toxic spill from the impact of overfishing and other problems that have long affected Vietnam's coastal waters.

          But he said a general lack of trust in the government, along with the factory's associations with mainland China and Taiwan, had damaged consumer confidence in the domestic seafood industry and made it difficult for many fishermen on the central coast to make a living.

          Conflicting accounts about the fish kill by several ministries in the weeks after the event only added to the suspicions, said Le Quang Binh, former director of the Hanoi-based Institute for Studies of Society, Economics and Environment. And because so many Vietnamese were debating the issue on social media, he added, they were able to spot inconsistencies and demand more public accountability.

          "In Vietnam, traditionally people avoid politics because it's sensitive," Mr. Binh said. "But now, more people understand that they cannot avoid politics because politics and policy can affect their lives."

          One sign of public engagement with the controversy is the hashtag #IChooseFish that is popular on social media — a mass response to a Formosa spokesman's saying at an April news briefing that the Vietnamese should decide whether to catch fish or "build a modern steel industry." A cartoon that circulated on Facebook in the spring imagined President Obama, who visited Vietnam in May, uttering the phrase "I choose fish" at a dinner with Vietnamese officials.

          Jonathan D. London, a Vietnam expert at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said the intense public interest in the fish kill presented an acute problem for Vietnam's top leaders, who took office in the spring.

          "They're trying to do something that no leaders have had to do in the past," he said, "which is essentially address public outrage that is being freely expressed on a daily basis."



          3)  Death Penalty Loses Majority Support for First Time in 45 Years

          OCT. 3, 2016




          For the first time in almost half a century, support for the death penalty has dipped below 50 percent in the United States.

          Just 49 percent of Americans say they support capital punishment, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted from late August to early September. That represents a seven-point decline in about a year and a half. Support peaked at 80 percent in 1994.

          The death penalty has had majority support among Americans for 45 years. The last time support was as low as it now stands was in 1971. Pew has surveyed Americans on the subject for the past two decades and relies on the polling organization Gallup for older data.

          Despite the large overall decline since the 1990s, attitudes toward executions differ drastically by political affiliation.

          "Much of the decline in support over the past two decades has come among Democrats," wrote Baxter Oliphant, a research associate at Pew.

          Just 34 percent of Democrats support the death penalty today — less than half as many as in 1996, research shows. Support among Republicans declined over that period, too, but remains high: 72 percent back capital punishment today, down from 87 percent two decades ago.

          Independents, for the first time in decades, are about evenly split on the practice.

          Americans are divided on the subject by gender, generation and race. Men are more likely than women to support the death penalty; whites are much more likely than Hispanics or African-Americans to support it, the survey found. Fewer Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 support the death penalty than any other age group today.

          The flagging support for the death penalty aligns with a decline in the number of executions nationwide, which peaked in 1999 when 98 people were put to death, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. There have been 15 executions so far this year, and a few more are scheduled.

          Nine states have suspended capital punishment in the past five years, and 30 still allow it, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Californians will weigh repealing capital punishment when they go to the polls in November.



          4)  Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Founder, Promises Raft of Revelations

          OCT. 4, 2016


          BERLIN — Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, promised on Tuesday to release "significant material" over the next 10 weeks about arms, Google, mass surveillance, oil, the United States election and war.

          Speaking via a video link at a news conference in Berlin to mark a decade since the inception of WikiLeaks, Mr. Assange vowed that his organization would continue to provide a platform for the release of classified documents held by the United States and by other governments and institutions in positions of global power.

          "We hope to be publishing every week for the next 10 weeks, we have on schedule, and it's a very hard schedule, all the U.S. election-related documents to come out before Nov. 8," said Mr. Assange, who made his announcement from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has been living since 2012. "Our upcoming series includes significant material on war, arms, oil, Google, the U.S. elections and myself."

          WikiLeaks used the occasion of its 10th anniversary to trumpet some of its most prominent releases of information, including documents about the United States detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; files about the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan; United States diplomatic cables; and Democratic Party emails that were made public on the eve of the party's convention in Philadelphia.

          The remarks from Mr. Assange disappointed many followers of WikiLeaks in the United States, who had stayed up into the early hours hoping to hear information relevant to the presidential election.

          Although Mr. Assange promised to release such documents before the election on Nov. 8, he said, "If we are going to make a major publication, we don't do it at 3 a.m." in the United States.

          He dismissed speculation that the documents related to the United States election would contain information intended to damage the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. The idea that "we intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I don't like Hillary Clinton, all those are false," Mr. Assange said.

          Mr. Assange laughed when he was asked whether he felt any personal affinity for her Republican rival, Donald J. Trump, saying that he felt "personal affinity for all human beings." He explained that he felt sorry for both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, given that "these are two people who are tormented by their ambitions."

          Mr. Assange had been scheduled to make the announcement from the balcony of the embassy where he has been staying since Ecuador granted him political asylum, but he changed that plan at the last minute because of security reasons. He declined to give further details about those concerns.

          Mr. Assange sought refuge after he was charged with rape in Sweden, an accusation that he has denied, because he feared that if he were sent there, he would then be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges.



          5)  Protesters in Poland Rally Against Proposal for Total Abortion Ban

          WARSAW — Despite pouring rain and a chill in the air, Anna Pietruszka-Drozdz, together with as many as 24,000 other Polish women and men, skipped work on Monday and instead came to Castle Square in Warsaw, dressed in black, to protest a sweeping new anti-abortion bill.

          "A complete and total abortion ban? This is beyond my wildest nightmares," said Ms. Pietruszka-Drozdz, 37, a mother of two. "Women don't have abortions because they are promiscuous and it's convenient. They do it because they need to, and it's often the most traumatic decision ever."

          On Black Monday, as it was called, huge protests against the new legislation swept through 90 Polish cities. The Warsaw mayor's office said 24,000 Poles took to the streets of the capital, waving black flags to draw international attention to the proposed restrictions. On the event's Facebook page, organizers said the protest drew up to 116,000 participants nationwide.

          Poland's existing abortion law is already one of the most restrictive in Europe. Abortion is permitted in only three cases: a severe fetal anomaly, a threat to the mother's health and life, or a pregnancy from rape or sexual abuse.

          Under the proposed legislation, written by an organization called Stop Abortion, all abortions would be criminalized. Women, doctors and anyone who assisted with the procedure could face up to five years in prison.

          "This is a barbarian proposal that will move Poland back to medieval times," Barbara Nowacka, the leader of a liberal initiative, Save Women, said in a telephone interview. "The worst thing is that this barbarity finds approval in the eyes of those in power."

          Black Monday was the high point of protests that began two weeks ago. On social media, tens of thousands of Poles have posted pictures of themselves wearing black and staging demonstrations.

          Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski dismissed the protesters, saying, "Let them have their fun."

          "There is no such problem as a threat to women's rights," he said in an interview with a private radio station, RMF-FM. "If someone thinks that there are no greater concerns in Poland at the moment, let them be."

          The protests have won the approval of numerous Polish employers, including restaurant owners, museum and gallery directors, the deans of several universities and mayors of a couple of large cities, all of whom allowed their female workers to take a day off.

          The protest idea was inspired by the story of Icelandic women who paralyzed their country in 1975 by not going to work, and skipping housework and child-rearing tasks, to protest unfair employment practices and wage discrepancies. The women who participated in those protests sent the women in Poland a video message of solidarity, encouraging them to stand up for themselves and telling them in Polish, "Jestesmy z wami" ("we are with you"). On Facebook, Kenyan women also sent a message of solidarity.

          The solidarity protests were also staged in other European cities, including BerlinBrussels, London, Paris and Barcelona, Spain.

          Poland introduced a restrictive abortion law, known as the "abortion compromise" and championed by the Roman Catholic Church, in 1993 after the collapse of Communism.

          The church, which continues to be a powerful influence in this predominantly Catholic country, is often accused of exerting pressure on politicians. It actively supports the proposed legislation, though church leaders have said they oppose punishing women.

          According to official figures, around 1,000 legal abortions are performed in Poland every year. Estimates of the number of illegal terminations vary widely, from 10,000 to 120,000, from anti-abortion and abortion rights groups.

          "The abortion compromise was supposed to curb the number of illegal terminations and increase the number of births in Poland," Ms. Nowacka said. "It has failed miserably on both accounts. We need a new law that actually corresponds with reality."

          Critics of the legislation, which is supported by senior members of the right-wing government, argue that if the bill is passed, doctors will stop performing invasive procedures on pregnant women, even to correct a fetal defect, unless the woman's life is directly threatened. That is the only exception under which doctors could undertake a procedure and avoid prosecution if it ended in a miscarriage.

          Dr. Romuald Debski, the head of gynecology and obstetrics at Bielanski Hospital in Warsaw, said every invasive procedure carries a minor risk of miscarriage.

          "This would be the end of prenatal diagnostics," Dr. Debski said in an interview. "I couldn't do basic prenatal tests, like the amniotic fluid test that allows me to determine whether I'm dealing with certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome. Should the procedure go wrong, I could end up in jail. I won't risk that."

          Tomasz Latos, a member of the governing Law and Justice party and head of the Health Committee in the Polish Sejm, or lower house of Parliament, said viewing the legislation as a threat to prenatal diagnostics was "either an act of ill will or incompetence."

          "No one is saying that this bill will be even passed in the end," he said. "Our senators are preparing a separate bill."

          Katarzyna Plutowska, 44, and Malgorzata Zyra, 39, took a day off from their accounting jobs to join a demonstration held near the Palace of Science and Culture in Warsaw.

          "Due to the protest, our entire office is closed today," Ms. Plutowska said. "You cannot change the world from your couch, you know."



          6)  Protest Started by Colin Kaepernick Spreads to High School Students

          OCT. 3, 2016




          AURORA, Colo. — Vicqari Horton dropped a knee to the grass. The varsity choir piped out "The Star-Spangled Banner." And in the bleachers at a sun-soaked football stadium here on Saturday, parents clenched their teeth in anger or raised their fists in support.

          "You can't continue to slap people in the face and not expect them to stand up," said Mr. Horton, a junior tight end at Aurora Central High School who is black and began kneeling during the national anthem at games in mid-September. "When Kaepernick kneeled, he gave us an outlet. He gave us something to do."

          In the weeks since Colin Kaepernick, a San Francisco 49ers quarterback, took a knee during the national anthem — a protest against racial injustice — he has been discussed by President Obama, has been derided by Donald J. Trump and has helped to intensify an already roiling national debate about race, the police and the definition of patriotism.

          He has also pushed that conversation onto a quintessential American stage: the high school football field.

          Over the weekend, three-quarters of the 44 Aurora Central Trojans football players knelt during "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the team crushed a rival, the Hinkley Thunderbirds, 41-6. A thousand miles away, students at Madison East and Madison West High Schools in Wisconsin dropped to their knees, too.

          So have players at Garfield High School in Seattle; Castlemont High in Oakland, Calif.; Woodrow Wilson High in Camden, N.J.; and Mission High in San Francisco. At Omaha Central High, cheerleaders and band members have joined the protest. And in Beaumont, Tex., so have 11- and 12-year-olds from a youth team called the Beaumont Bulls. They have received a variety of responses: In the case of the Bulls, internet comments included a call for coaches to be lynched and the children to be killed.

          Here in Aurora, a sprawling, highly diverse suburb of Denver, the protest has invigorated a group of young people who have never known a world without viral videos of violence.

          They entered kindergarten about the time Facebook was born; were around the same age as Tamir Rice or Michael Brown, two African-Americans killed by police officers; and now attend one of the worst-performing schools in the state, a high school that is overwhelmingly black and Latino.

          In interviews, several students took issue with critics who told them that they did not understand what they were protesting. "We know what we're doing; we made a conscious decision," said Jalil Grimes, 17, a senior and the team's starting quarterback. "We see police do us wrong. We see our teachers give up on us and expect us to fail. We've always seen this. Once we saw somebody else stand up against it, we just fell in line."

          The idea of kneeling came from several players, including Mr. Horton, who approached their coaches to ask permission to do so. The coaches gave their support, and the school district issued a statement saying it would respect their actions. "Any time young kids can speak their minds, it's always good," said Tony Veasley, 49, a part-time coach for the Trojans who said six of his sons had graduated from Aurora Central.

          On Saturday, though, the stadium was a sea of hearts tied up in internal conflict.

          On the Hinkley side of the bleachers, near a mass of brass instruments and a cluster of exuberant cheerleaders — "Jam with us! Hey, hey!" — Melinda Holt, 60, a white Army veteran, sat with her husband, wearing Thunderbird blue. They were there to watch a grandson play, she said.

          "It's ignorance," Ms. Holt said of the kneelers. "You are dishonoring our flag for the actions of a few. That's like holding every black man or every white man accountable for what somebody else has done. And that's wrong."

          On the other side of the stands, a Hispanic woman named Maria Mitchell — wearing Trojan green beside her daughter Téa — said she felt conflicted over the kneeling players. She spent more than 25 years as a military wife, she said, and believes that standing for the anthem is a way to honor lives lost in war.

          But her children are of mixed ethnicity — black and Hispanic. "And if you're not a person of color, you don't understand any of it," she said. "To wake up every day and not know whether your kids are coming home or not, just because of their color, is ridiculous."

          "Unless we walk in their shoes and feel what they feel on an everyday basis, we have no room to judge," she continued. "We can choose to support, or not support and be blind."

          The protests come at a turbulent time for Aurora Central, a school of 2,172 students that is 67 percent Hispanic and 16 percent black. More than 40 percent of students are learning English as a second language, nearly 70 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and officials have announced a drastic academic overhaul intended to stave off a school shutdown.

          Fights are a problem, and last year's football game against Hinkley ended in a clash among students that forced the police to intervene.

          Christian Wells, 17, an offensive and defensive lineman, ended that night in police custody, after officers confused him with someone else, he said. This year at the Hinkley game, he chose to go down on one knee.

          "I've seen police brutality up close and personal," he said. "To family members. To friends. To myself personally. It's like, if nothing else will stop it, maybe silently protesting will do something."

          On Saturday, the Trojans finished the game in a cascade of cheers, bouncing out of the stadium and onto a yellow team bus. In the parking lot, a 13-year-old Trojan fan, Damian Chavez, called the decision to kneel a "sign of respect for every black person in the country."

          A few hundred feet away, inside the empty stadium, the 81-year-old press box manager, Bob Blair, dressed in cowboy boots and Wrangler slacks, looked out onto the field.

          "They've never been anywhere to see what the rest of the world hasn't got and what we have: It's called freedom," Mr. Blair said. "We don't agree with it, but we can't stop it."



          7)  In Video, Sacramento Police Appear to Try to Hit Man With Their Car Before He's Fatally Shot

          OCT. 4, 2016


          The Sacramento County district attorney is investigating the fatal police shooting of a homeless black man who was hit 14 times in an encounter that was captured on dashboard cameras, leading to calls by his family for a federal investigation and for murder charges to be filed against the two officers.

          A lawyer for the family of the man, Joseph Mann, who was in his early 50s, said he had asked the Justice Department to investigate the episode in July, in which the white officers appeared in the video to be trying to run him over with their patrol car.

          "I see it as murder," John L. Burris, a lawyer for the family of Mr. Mann, said on Monday. "They treated this person like he was a worthless human being."

          The officers were investigating reports on July 11 of an "armed man who was acting erratically" when they encountered Mr. Mann, according to a police statement. Police dashboard video footage shows them chasing Mr. Mann with their patrol car as he fled on foot.

          "I am going to hit him," one officer is heard saying. "Go for it," another says. A voice then appears to say he was not going to "force it."

          When the patrol car stopped, the officers ran after Mr. Mann and fired over a dozen times, according to the footage. He was later declared dead at a hospital.

          The video was one of three dashboard clips that the Police Department released on Sept. 20 after the shooting. But the case gained new attention after audio of the officers' remarks were highlighted by The Sacramento News and Review and by The Sacramento Bee last week.

          The shooting has raised questions about the department's tactics and the officers' response to someone who appeared to be behaving erratically. Mr. Mann's family has described him as being mentally ill.

          On Monday, Mr. Burris said he had sent a letter urging the Justice Department to investigate the Police Department and the officers' use of a car "as a deadly weapon." He wants the district attorney's office to charge the officers, John Tennis and Randy Lozoya, with murder, and said that with the release of the audio information from the dashboard camera, he had updated a federal lawsuit filed more than a month ago that alleged the excessive use of force.

          Shelly Orio, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said in an email on Monday that the office was investigating the shooting.

          In his letter, Mr. Burris wrote that Officer Tennis had a "long history of disturbing behavior," referring to an episode in 1997 in which a black man, Albert Thiel, 35, died after the officer placed him in a chokehold.

          A Sacramento Police Department spokesman, Officer Matthew McPhail, when asked in a telephone interview on Monday whether the two officers had previous discipline issues, said he did not have records immediately available.

          He said the two officers, who had more than 25 years on the force, had been taken off patrols and placed on modified duty. Citing the civil suit, he referred further questions to the city attorney, James Sanchez, who did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment on Monday.

          In a statement on July 11, the Police Department said witnesses had reported a man with a knife, and one said the suspect had a firearm in his waistband. When officers arrived, they tried to "de-escalate" the situation, the statement said.

          Mr. Mann threw an object at one of the police vehicles following him, the authorities said. Officers shouted at him through the patrol car's loudspeaker to "get on the ground," put his hands in the air, stop walking and drop the knife.

          "Sir, we don't want to hurt you; drop the knife," an officer can be heard saying in one of the dashboard videos.

          The police statement said that Mr. Mann was "reaching for his waistband as if he was trying to retrieve a weapon" and that he charged at a police vehicle with a knife held above his head. After the officers chased him, he "turned back towards them, armed with a knife," and they opened fire, the police said.

          Police Chief Sam Somers Jr. said at a news conference on Sept. 20 that the officers had fired 18 shots, 14 of which struck Mr. Mann, according to The Associated Press.

          A cellphone video posted on Mr. Burris's YouTube channel shows Mr. Mann performing what looked like martial arts moves in the street as officers asked him to drop the knife. The lawyer said that the officers "had a right to respond," but that Mr. Mann's "odd maneuvers" reflected a person who was having mental and emotional problems.

          "That is the kind of assessment the officers should have made," he said.



          8)  When It Comes to Tax Avoidance, Donald Trump's Just a Small Fry

          Not paying taxes "makes me smart," Donald J. Trump said last week. His surrogates called him "a genius" for his recently revealed tax avoidance strategies.

          Well, if they are right, the executives running corporate America are absolute virtuosos.

          An exhaustive study being released on Tuesday by a group of researchers shows in detail how Fortune 500 companies have managed to shelter trillions of dollars in profits offshore from being taxed. Mr. Trump's efforts pale by comparison. Worse, the companies have managed to hide many of their tax havens completely, in many cases reporting different numbers to different government agencies to obfuscate exactly how they've avoided Uncle Sam.

          And, yes, it is all legal.

          The immediate response from many readers may be ire for the companies avoiding taxes — or for Mr. Trump. But that's not the goal of this particular column. In this case, that kind of thinking may even be counterproductive.

          Instead, the study — which notes that 58 Fortune 500 companies would owe $212 billion in additional federal taxes, "equal to the entire state budgets of California, Virginia and Indiana combined," if they were taxed properly — should be a five-alarm call to voters and lawmakers to finally fix the tax system. If all the attention on Mr. Trump's tax bill (or lack of one) isn't enough to inspire a complete rewrite of the tax code, this study may be.

          The authors of the report, which include the U.S. PIRG Education Fundand Citizens for Tax Justice, combed through the filings of the Fortune 500 for 2015 and found an astonishing 73 percent "maintained subsidiaries in offshore tax havens."

          Maybe it is to be expected. Companies and individuals complain bitterly that taxes are too high and the rules too complicated, but many corporations and the wealthiest members of our society have found ways to make the tax code work for them.

          If all the Fortune 500 companies paid taxes on their sheltered profits, the researchers tallied, the government would receive a whopping $717.8 billion windfall. To put that number in context, the 2015 federal budget deficit was $438 billion. However, fixing our corporate tax system alone isn't the answer to reducing our red ink; it might only be a drop in the bucket given that our total federal debt is nearing $20 trillion.

          The researchers reported that Apple holds $214.9 billion offshore and would owe $65.4 billion in taxes if that money came back to the United States; Nike holds $10.7 billion offshore and would owe $3.6 billion in United States taxes; Goldman Sachs holds $28.6 billion offshore, and the report says the company "reports having 987 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens, 537 of which are in the Cayman Islands despite not operating a single legitimate office in that country, according to its own website."

          Rather than moralize about whether it is patriotic to pay taxes — which seems to be a rather polarizing question these days — let's focus on understanding exactly how companies keep money offshore and find an appealing way to bring back that money to help spur our economy and create jobs for those without them and higher incomes for those who do.

          It is worth noting that Apple's recent $14.5 billion tax bill levied by the European Union, which contended that Ireland undertaxed the company, is a good example of money kept offshore to benefit from lower rates. Perhaps it is a twist of irony, but given the European Union's efforts to collect — which Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, called "total political crap" — one question that has emerged is whether United States companies may be more inclined to bring money back home rather than risk shifting tax rules in Europe (think Brexit, for example) and elsewhere.

          Perhaps not surprisingly, it's hard to figure out exact numbers for money stored abroad because there is so little transparency in how offshore profits are reported. So, the first element of making a better tax system is simply creating a more transparent way to report offshore profits so policy makers aren't in an information vacuum.

          Here's just one example of the problem: The Securities and Exchange Commission "only requires that companies report all 'significant' subsidiaries, based on multiple measures of a subsidiary's share of the company's total assets. By only requiring significant rather than all subsidiaries, this allows companies to get away with not disclosing many of their offshore subsidiaries and creates the potential for gaming because avoiding disclosure simply requires splitting a significant subsidiary into several smaller subsidiaries," the report says.

          It also points out that "the penalties for not disclosing subsidiaries are so light" that it is very likely that companies choose to muddle the numbers and consider the potential for being fined simply the cost of doing business.

          The challenge of transparency is exemplified by this finding: "27 companies reported 16,389 total subsidiaries and 2,836 tax haven subsidiaries to the Federal Reserve, while only reporting 2,279 total subsidiaries and only 410 tax haven subsidiaries to the S.E.C."

          How is that possible?

          It isn't because these companies are lying to the S.E.C. (at least, not that we know about). It is because the S.E.C. has been so vague about the definitions of a subsidiary that it's almost laughable. All agencies should require the same definitions; the Federal Reserve, for example, is much tougher.

          Once we have the actual information, we need to figure out what to do with it. No doubt, companies in the United States — and frankly any business that benefits from our markets — should pay some form of taxes. (Having said that, there are some economists who argue that corporate taxes should be very little or nothing at all — assuming that individuals and shareholders then pay more.)

          Citizens for Tax Justice advocates a litany of rules to end the deferral of foreign income, stop tax inversions and remove loopholes like inconsistent guidelines that allow companies to tell "one country that a subsidiary is a corporation while telling another country the same entity is a partnership or some other form."

          These are laudable goals. How we resolve the disgraceful patchwork of tax rules and loopholes remains an open question. Democrats want policies that create more revenue, and Republicans want policies that create less revenue in the immediate term (they want lower tax rates and suggest that such rates would spur the economy and therefore ultimately create more revenue).

          Whatever the ultimate resolution, whoever ends up being the next president has the chance to be considered a true "genius" if he or she tackles the issue in a meaningful and sensible way.



          9)  A Bill of Rights for Housecleaners

          OCT. 7, 2016





          Chicago — For eight years, I worked as a housecleaner for a millionaire who lived in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. I took the bus across town three times a week, often to work in an empty house because my employer was frequently away, traveling for business.

          That also meant I got paid only when I saw him — in lump sums, often months apart. At first, I didn't mind this setup, but soon, months would pass. By the end of 2008, my employer owed me $10,000 — and had stopped returning my calls.

          I was frantic. It wasn't just that these were wages for weeks and weeks of work I'd already done, but I had bills to pay and my son's tuition at a special high school.

          I went over to my employer's place one day, hoping to confront him, and finally found him home. I asked when I'd get paid what I was owed. He didn't answer, but instead offered a one-off payment of $1,000 to settle the debt. When I refused that, he told me to leave and, obviously assuming I was undocumented, threatened to have me deported. (In fact, I had legal status as a permanent resident on grounds of political asylum.)

          It wasn't the first time I'd been treated like this. I'd been a housekeeper for more than a decade, after coming to Chicago from Guatemala in 1989 to escape the civil war. In general, the work wasn't bad, though it was hard on my joints as I got older. I often felt I was learning new things, and I always took pride in maintaining clean and tidy homes for people.

          But I soon found out how some employers tried to take advantage of an immigrant with the broken English I spoke at the time. One woman wanted to pay me $60 for two full days of work — after we'd previously agreed on a higher amount. Another employer liked to leave pornographic magazines lying around after I started working for him.

          In any regular workplace, this type of behavior wouldn't be tolerated. But for domestic workers like me, who do their jobs in the privacy of people's homes, there isn't much we can do. If we say something, we get fired.

          Which is why the Gold Coast millionaire probably thought I would just go away. But he was wrong. I took him to court.

          When I filed my wage theft lawsuit, I was shocked to learn how few rights I had under Illinois law. There are about two million domestic workers in the United States — people like me, who clean homes or care for children and seniors. Many of us are minority or immigrant women, and many work for less than minimum wage — either because domestic work is not covered by the federal labor laws or because domestic workers are also excluded from state protections and benefits.

          Fighting my lawsuit gradually turned me into an activist, and I began to speak out about my case. The more I did, the more I met other domestic workers who told me their stories; many had suffered worse mistreatment than I had. Taking inspiration from efforts in other states like California and New York to pass laws that protect the rights of domestic workers, we began campaigning for similar legislation in Illinois.

          It took awhile, but we won. In August, Illinois became the seventh state to adopt a law to protect our rights, joining Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Hawaii and Connecticut.

          Under the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, more than 35,000 housecleaners, nannies and home care workers in Illinois are fully covered by labor and human rights laws for the first time in the state's history. Whether you're paid in cash, or are undocumented, as a domestic worker you are now guaranteed a state minimum wage, protection from discrimination and sexual harassment, a meal break in every shift and a day of rest each week.

          The day of my final court date, my employer met me outside the courtroom and tried to make a final settlement. He raised his offer to $1,500. I said no, out of dignity for myself and for my work. Fortunately, I was vindicated because, a few minutes later, the judge ruled in my favor. But it had taken five long, grinding years to get justice. No one should have to go through that.

          That was why the day that Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the domestic workers bill into law meant so much to me. Housecleaners and care workers will no longer have to live in the shadows, enduring abusive situations, in Illinois.

          Employers will know that our work deserves respect, dignity and protection. And workers will know that the law is on our side.

          My job now is to see that every state in the country adopts a bill of rights like Illinois'.



          10)  Toll Rises by Hour in Haiti Amid Ruin Left by Hurricane Matthew

          OCT. 7, 2016


          LES CAYES, Haiti — A hospital now a shambles, its floors swamped with garbage and water, absent electricity. People living in the streets, camped in front of their broken homes. Buildings smashed into splinters. Farm fields flattened, portending a hard year ahead.

          "For me, Roche-à-Bateau is not a place to live anymore," said Warens Jeanty, 26, a tourism operator surveying the beach towns and picturesque port hamlets that dot Haiti's coast. "People have nowhere to stay."

          As Haiti picks through the detritus left by Hurricane Matthew, more bodies are turning up every hour. Some estimates said that more than 800 people had died in the storm, more than double what the government has reported, though it acknowledged that the toll was unknown. In one part of the country's southern peninsula, nearly 30,000 homes were destroyed and 150 lives lost, officials said.

          And a full accounting of damage has not even started.

          "I had never seen anything like this," said Marie Yolene Gateau, a retired New York City guidance counselor who lives in Leogane, Haiti, a town that was largely flattened in the 2010 earthquake. Now the storm has wiped out most of the region's sugar crop, bananas and mangoes, she said. "The hurricane was attacking the trees. I watched thinking, 'When is it going to stop?' "

          Passage to many areas remained blocked, thwarting efforts to assess the destruction and to help survivors. A single remote village reported 82 dead on Friday, while others said they were waiting to account for dozens of missing people. The government, which requires visual proof to count a death in its toll, could hardly keep up with the accounts of loss stitched together from hospitals.

          "We're still far from having a full picture of the extent of the damage," said Marc Vincent, a Unicef representative in Haiti. "We are hoping for the best, but bracing for the worst."

          It is a state that Haiti has grown accustomed to.

          The country was getting ready for elections this Sunday, the product of nearly a year of wrangling and recriminations. But after a long period of political uncertainty and delay, even nature would not let Haiti hold the vote.

          Now the hurricane has presented yet another hurdle to a nation still grappling with the devastation of the 2010 earthquake and a cholera epidemic inadvertently introduced to the country by United Nations peacekeepers.

          Etienne Navuson, 27, waited out the hurricane this week in his concrete home as the wind lashed his village on the southwestern peninsula. When he awoke, almost everything had vanished: cattle, crops, fields and homes.

          "Had the rain fallen more than it did — had it gone for just one more hour — we would have lost even more," Mr. Navuson said.

          At least 90 percent of the village was destroyed, he said. Residents are searching for food and water buried in the rubble.

          "Those who find something are fortunate," he said. Seven more family members have taken refuge in Mr. Navuson's home after losing their own to the storm. The tiny home is now packed with people sleeping on plastic sheets for bedding.

          "There will be food shortages in the days to come," Mr. Navuson said.

          Msgr. Pierre-André Pierre, the head of the Catholic University of Notre Dame of Haiti, encountered chaos when he reached the coastal town of Jérémie. Trees were gone, leaving an empty field. Someone had discarded a body in front of a Catholic bishop's house, not knowing where else to dispose of it.

          "They were in a state of shock on what had happened in that place," Monsignor Pierre said. "People were running in the streets."

          The monsignor said he then took a flight to the southern part of the peninsula where he passed over the town of Roche-à-Bateau, where little was left.

          "That town did not exist," he said.

          Jeff Barnes, a Haitian-American pilot, was making relief flights on Friday. Many of the towns around Jérémie remained cut off from the rest of Haiti. In some neighborhoods, 80 to 90 percent of homes had been severely damaged or destroyed.

          Swaths of trees had been reduced to stumps, he said. Large teams of young people had taken to the streets with machetes and chain saws, trying to clear roads blocked by fallen trees, some several feet in diameter.

          "Almost everyone is living under the sky now, sleeping under the stars," he said. "Doors are gone, people don't have a place to live."

          Observers said that the hurricane and the lack of a coordinated response recalled the troubles the country faced during the 2010 earthquake.

          "It is during natural disasters such as this the frailty and near-absence of Haiti's state becomes most visible," said Michael Deibert, the author of two books on Haiti. "As the country slides downhill, the political elites squabble in the capital and the international community fails to come up with an effective way of engaging with Haiti's most vulnerable."

          Others agreed.

          "Haiti has been in the path of the storm just way too often," said Robert E. Maguire, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University. "It isn't because of anything the Haitian people are doing. It's natural disasters exacerbated because of the way people have managed the country."

          Policies that ordered or permitted the stripping of trees have left barren and scorched landscapes susceptible to mudslides. Poor development has left the country defenseless to hurricanes, without sea walls or other hard defenses to soften the blow.

          The nation's politics, meanwhile, often brew their own type of disaster, leaving the country bereft of clearly elected leaders.

          The interim government is still assessing the damage. Haiti's Civil Protection Force maintained on Friday that fewer than 300 people had died, but Reuters had tallied that nearly 900 lives were lost.

          In many areas, schools, police stations and other buildings that would typically serve as voting stations are in tatters. The hope of most is that the government will reschedule the elections for this year.

          "We will have another disaster here if these elections aren't held this year," said Pierre Esperance, the executive director of the National Human Rights Defense Network. "The interim government doesn't really have the power or legitimacy to control the country."

          For many, looking for food or still searching for loved ones, the elections were the last thing on their minds. On Friday, the Charmant Hotel in Jérémie had left a message on its website, saying its owners had not been in touch since the storm.

          "We do know that Bette and Edwin were taking precautions for their guests, staff and family prior to the hurricane," said the message, left by staff members.

          Valery Numa, a well-known radio host in Port-au-Prince, ran three businesses — a hotel, a radio station and a Haitian Creole restaurant — in the town of Camp Perrin. All three were destroyed in the hurricane. But Mr. Numba has put an ambitious date, Nov. 1, for opening his three operations again.

          "Any businessman who loses everything is going to be in distress," he said, adding that he found himself lucky that none of his family members had died.

          The aftermath of the storm also brought scenes of hope as survivors appeared. As the hurricane subsided, a team from St.-Boniface Hospital in southwestern Haiti went out to clear a route through debris. Looking up through the lessening rain, one of the workers saw the figure of a pregnant woman.

          Her name was Julienne Cadet. She had been walking for at least half a mile. She was bleeding, in active labor.

          The team quickly gathered around Ms. Cadet, helped her across a raging stream and drove her to the hospital. After an emergency cesarean section, she delivered two healthy boys: Jonas and Jean-atan.


























































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