North Dakota Deploys Armed Forces to Force Dakota Access Pipeline Onto Treaty Land







Please sign this petition urging prison administrations to lift the ban on the SF Bay View newspaper. Help us to expose the unjust censorship of prisoners speaking out against injustice.
Prison administrations in several states have banned prisoners from receiving the SF Bay View National Black Newspaper.The SF Bay View is a grassroots paper that has published articles by and about prisoners for decades, giving them the opportunity to discuss the many injustices they experience.
The bans began in July 2016 in an attempt to silence those preparing for the nationwide prison strike that began on September 9. On that day, thousands of prisoners stopped working in protest of a host of prison injustices, including toxic work conditions, overcrowdedness and extreme deadly heat, and to demand that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution be amended. The 13th Amendment, which purportedly abolished slavery, includes this escape-clause: "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."

Add your name.
Since the strike began, dozens of prisoners have reportedly been placed in solitary confinement and/or transferred to other distant facilities. At the Kinross Correctional Facility in Michigan, guards have forced prisoners to work by attacking them with weapons and tear gas. In Texas prisons, there has been a spate of suicides.
Articles sent from prisons to the SF Bay View reporting these conditions have been continuously intercepted.
Denying access to the SF Bay View violates prisoners' rights to information, education, and communication with their broader communities. It's a violation of freedom of speech and press

Sign the petition by clicking here.

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now. 

-- The RootsAction.org Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.

Un-Ban the Bay View!
13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Voice of Detroit: Prisoners Teargassed, Zip-Tied, Left Out in Rain








Black Children Punished for Anthem Protests

After young 11 and 12-year-boys of the Beaumont Bulls football knelt during the anthem to protest police violence against Black youth, their local executive board canceled their entire football season, suspended the coaching staff, and threatened to arrest their parents if they attended any future games, practices or events.

For these young Black kids, the plight of injustice in America is their own. Instead of supporting the boys and their protests, their executive board and league officials abandoned them. The board has decided to strip these kids of the team that they love to punish them for asking for basic rights and dignities. This is about the board reinforcing that police violence in our communities doesn't matter, that our issues aren't important and that speaking onthem makes you subject to punishment.

These kids are brave for refusing to give in to the executive board and for standing against injustice. We need to support the fight of these children and show them that their protest is heard.

To the Beaumont Bulls Executive Board,

Immediately reinstate the Beaumont Bulls coaching staff, apologize to the boys and their parents, and allow them to finish their season.


We need to support the fight of these children and show them that their protest is heard. 





Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










Come on out for the Leonard Peltier Art Show on Sunday, November 13 from 12 PM – 4:30 PM @ The Saxon Pub, 1320 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX.

Please make a donation online and/or pledge to donate monthly or mail your donation to ILPDC, PO Box 24, Hillsboro, OR 97123

Peltier Flag

Click on Image for Details


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Shout Out to Austin, TX

Come on out for the Leonard Peltier Art Show on Sunday, November 13 from 12 PM – 4:30 PM @ The Saxon Pub, 1320 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX.

Join us for art and music with all proceeds donated to the "Free Leonard Peltier Defense Fund!" Come see original artwork by Leonard Peltier and other art donated by local artists.

Featuring Music From:

Walt Wilkins

Johnny Nicholas

Scott H. Biram

and other guests.

SILENT AUCTION from 12:00 – 5:00 PM

Items include a "Texas Guitar" signed by Willie Nelson and much more.

Hosted By:

Connie Nelson

Karianne Boushee (Leonard's niece)



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!




Letter from a prisoner involved in the current prison strike:

Texas Prison Officials retaliate against me

for protesting prison slavery

By Keith "Malik" Washington

        On October 5, 2016, I was transferred to the Telford Unit from the Coffield Unit. At Coffield, I had become the target of a coordinated effort by the State of Texas to retaliate against me for organizing a campaign that seeks to end prison slavery.
        There are elements and individuals within the Texas Criminal Justice System that don't want to acknowledge the humanity of prisoners. The Slave Plantation mentality is deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of the oppressor and the oppressed.
        Telford, where I am now housed, is the home of a horrible Solitary Confinement control unit. I was sent to this control unit in order to be neutralized.
        Prison officials are also using their new Social Media Ban to punish me when my friends or supporters post any kind of information about me. It is crucially important that you continue to share with the world what is happening to me and to so many other imprisoned Freedom Fighters who are trapped inside Amerikan prisons. This attempt to silence prisoner voices and the voices of our free-world supporters is a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution.
        Journalist Raven Rakia, who resides in New York City, actually traveled to Texas to interview me for an upcoming exposé she is working on. Texas prison officials denied her access to me!! I just cannot describe to you how dangerous this situation is becoming.
        I attempted to place Raven Rakia and other media correspondents and friends on my visiting list. Prison officials denied receiving any updated visitation forms from me!
        Sisters and brothers, I cannot fight these people without your help. I am asking you to call the Telford Unit in New Boston, Texas -- 903-628-3171 -- and demand that I be granted visits from media correspondents, friends, and lawyers. I am requesting that media correspondents and lawyers attempt to visit me and make contact with me so that I can relay to the public how Texas has framed me and isolated me.
        Our struggle begins with amending the 13th amendment: we must abolish Prison Slavery in Amerika!
        Furthermore, we must confront and question law enforcement agencies who attempt to demonize and criminalize #Black Lives Matter! The murdering of Black people by the police must be addressed.
        Prisoner Rights activist Laura Whitehorn said, "Rather than slaughtering black people outright, the prison system carries out genocide through political repression."
        Sisters and brothers, I am taking a risk by communicating these words to you. I am asking you to do something to help me shed light on the nature of the Texas Criminal Justice System.
        Dare to struggle, dare to win! All power to the people!

Keith H. Washington #1487958
Telford Unit
3899 State Hwy 98
New Boston, TX 75570-5669









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)  Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops

          "The industry is winning on both ends — because the same companies make and sell both the genetically modified plants and the poisons. "

          OCT. 29, 2016


          LONDON — The controversy over genetically modified crops has long focused on largely unsubstantiated fears that they are unsafe to eat.

          But an extensive examination by The New York Times indicates that the debate has missed a more basic problem — genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yieldsrou or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides.

          The promise of genetic modification was twofold: By making crops immune to the effects of weedkillers and inherently resistant to many pests, they would grow so robustly that they would become indispensable to feeding the world's growing population, while also requiring fewer applications of sprayed pesticides.

          Twenty years ago, Europe largely rejected genetic modification at the same time the United States and Canada were embracing it. Comparing results on the two continents, using independent data as well as academic and industry research, shows how the technology has fallen short of the promise.

          An analysis by The Times using United Nations data showed that the United States and Canada have gained no discernible advantage in yields — food per acre — when measured against Western Europe, a region with comparably modernized agricultural producers like France and Germany. Also, a recent National Academy of Sciences reportfound that "there was little evidence" that the introduction of genetically modified crops in the United States had led to yield gains beyond those seen in conventional crops.

          At the same time, herbicide use has increased in the United States, even as major crops like corn, soybeans and cotton have been converted to modified varieties. And the United States has fallen behind Europe's biggest producer, France, in reducing the overall use of pesticides, which includes both herbicides and insecticides.

          One measure, contained in data from the United States Geological Survey, shows the stark difference in the use of pesticides. Since genetically modified crops were introduced in the United States two decades ago for crops like corn, cotton and soybeans, the use of toxins that kill insects and fungi has fallen by a third, but the spraying of herbicides, which are used in much higher volumes, has risen by 21 percent.

          By contrast, in France, use of insecticides and fungicides has fallen by a far greater percentage — 65 percent — and herbicide use has decreased as well, by 36 percent.

          Profound differences over genetic engineering have split Americans and Europeans for decades. Although American protesters as far back as 1987 pulled up prototype potato plants, European anger at the idea of fooling with nature has been far more sustained. In the last few years, the March Against Monsanto has drawn thousands of protesters in cities like Paris and Basel, Switzerland, and opposition to G.M. foods is a foundation of the Green political movement. Still, Europeans eat those foods when they buy imports from the United States and elsewhere.

          Fears about the harmful effects of eating G.M. foods have proved to be largely without scientific basis. The potential harm from pesticides, however, has drawn researchers' attention. Pesticides are toxic by design — weaponized versions, like sarin, were developed in Nazi Germany — and have been linked to developmental delays and cancer.

          "These chemicals are largely unknown," said David Bellinger, a professor at the Harvard University School of Public Health, whose research has attributed the loss of nearly 17 million I.Q. points among American children 5 years old and under to one class of insecticides. "We do natural experiments on a population," he said, referring to exposure to chemicals in agriculture, "and wait until it shows up as bad."

          The industry is winning on both ends — because the same companies make and sell both the genetically modified plants and the poisons. Driven by these sales, the combined market capitalizations of Monsanto, the largest seed company, and Syngenta, the Swiss pesticide giant, have grown more than sixfold in the last decade and a half. The two companies are separately involved in merger agreements that would lift their new combined values to more than $100 billion each.

          When presented with the findings, Robert T. Fraley, the chief technology officer at Monsanto, said The Times had cherry-picked its data to reflect poorly on the industry. "Every farmer is a smart businessperson, and a farmer is not going to pay for a technology if they don't think it provides a major benefit," he said. "Biotech tools have clearly driven yield increases enormously."

          Regarding the use of herbicides, in a statement, Monsanto said, "While overall herbicide use may be increasing in some areas where farmers are following best practices to manage emerging weed issues, farmers in other areas with different circumstances may have decreased or maintained their herbicide usage."

          Genetically modified crops can sometimes be effective. Monsanto and others often cite the work of Matin Qaim, a researcher at Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Germany, including a meta-analysis of studies that he helped write finding significant yield gains from genetically modified crops. But in an interview and emails, Dr. Qaim said he saw significant effects mostly from insect-resistant varieties in the developing world, particularly in India.

          "Currently available G.M. crops would not lead to major yield gains in Europe," he said. And regarding herbicide-resistant crops in general: "I don't consider this to be the miracle type of technology that we couldn't live without."

          A Vow to Curb Chemicals

          First came the Flavr Savr tomato in 1994, which was supposed to stay fresh longer. The next year it was a small number of bug-resistant russet potatoes. And by 1996, major genetically modified crops were being planted in the United States.

          Monsanto, the most prominent champion of these new genetic traits, pitched them as a way to curb the use of its pesticides. "We're certainly not encouraging farmers to use more chemicals," a company executive told The Los Angeles Times in 1994. The next year, in a news release, the company said that its new gene for seeds, named Roundup Ready, "can reduce overall herbicide use."

          Originally, the two main types of genetically modified crops were either resistant to herbicides, allowing crops to be sprayed with weedkillers, or resistant to some insects.

          Figures from the United States Department of Agriculture show herbicide use skyrocketing in soybeans, a leading G.M. crop, growing by two and a half times in the last two decades, at a time when planted acreage of the crop grew by less than a third. Use in corn was trending downward even before the introduction of G.M. crops, but then nearly doubled from 2002 to 2010, before leveling off. Weed resistance problems in such crops have pushed overall usage up.

          To some, this outcome was predictable. The whole point of engineering bug-resistant plants "was to reduce insecticide use, and it did," said Joseph Kovach, a retired Ohio State University researcher who studied the environmental risks of pesticides. But the goal of herbicide-resistant seeds was to "sell more product," he said — more herbicide.

          Farmers with crops overcome by weeds, or a particular pest or disease, can understandably be G.M. evangelists. "It's silly bordering on ridiculous to turn our backs on a technology that has so much to offer," said Duane Grant, the chairman of the Amalgamated Sugar Company, a cooperative of more than 750 sugar beet farmers in the Northwest.

          He says crops resistant to Roundup, Monsanto's most popular weedkiller, saved his cooperative.

          But weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup around the world — creating an opening for the industry to sell more seeds and more pesticides. The latest seeds have been engineered for resistance to two weedkillers, with resistance to as many as five planned. That will also make it easier for farmers battling resistant weeds to spray a widening array of poisons sold by the same companies.

          Growing resistance to Roundup is also reviving old, and contentious, chemicals. One is 2,4-D, an ingredient in Agent Orange, the infamous Vietnam War defoliant. Its potential risks have long divided scientists and have alarmed advocacy groups.

          Another is dicamba. In Louisiana, Monsanto is spending nearly $1 billion to begin production of the chemical there. And even though Monsanto's version is not yet approved for use, the company is already selling seeds that are resistant to it — leading to reports that some farmers are damaging neighbors' crops by illegally spraying older versions of the toxin.

          High-Tech Kernels

          Two farmers, 4,000 miles apart, recently showed a visitor their corn seeds. The farmers, Bo Stone and Arnaud Rousseau, are sixth-generation tillers of the land. Both use seeds made by DuPont, the giant chemical company that is merging with Dow Chemical.

          To the naked eye, the seeds looked identical. Inside, the differences are profound.

          In Rowland, N.C., near the South Carolina border, Mr. Stone's seeds brim with genetically modified traits. They contain Roundup Ready, a Monsanto-made trait resistant to Roundup, as well as a gene made by Bayer that makes crops impervious to a second herbicide. A trait called Herculex I was developed by Dow and Pioneer, now part of DuPont, and attacks the guts of insect larvae. So does YieldGard, made by Monsanto.

          Another big difference: the price tag. Mr. Rousseau's seeds cost about $85 for a 50,000-seed bag. Mr. Stone spends roughly $153 for the same amount of biotech seeds.

          For farmers, doing without genetically modified crops is not a simple choice. Genetic traits are not sold à la carte.

          Mr. Stone, 45, has a master's degree in agriculture and listens to Prime Country radio in his Ford pickup. He has a test field where he tries out new seeds, looking for characteristics that he particularly values — like plants that stand well, without support.

          "I'm choosing on yield capabilities and plant characteristics more than I am on G.M.O. traits" like bug and poison resistance, he said, underscoring a crucial point: Yield is still driven by breeding plants to bring out desirable traits, as it has been for thousands of years.

          That said, Mr. Stone values genetic modifications to reduce his insecticide use (though he would welcome help with stink bugs, a troublesome pest for many farmers). And Roundup resistance in pigweed has emerged as a problem.

          "No G.M. trait for us is a silver bullet," he said.

          By contrast, at Mr. Rousseau's farm in Trocy-en-Multien, a village outside Paris, his corn has none of this engineering because the European Union bans most crops like these.

          "The door is closed," says Mr. Rousseau, 42, who is vice president of one of France's many agricultural unions. His 840-acre farm was a site of World War I carnage in the Battle of the Marne.

          As with Mr. Stone, Mr. Rousseau's yields have been increasing, though they go up and down depending on the year. Farm technology has also been transformative. "My grandfather had horses and cattle for cropping," Mr. Rousseau said. "I've got tractors with motors."

          He wants access to the same technologies as his competitors across the Atlantic, and thinks G.M. crops could save time and money.

          "Seen from Europe, when you speak with American farmers or Canadian farmers, we've got the feeling that it's easier," Mr. Rousseau said. "Maybe it's not right. I don't know, but it's our feeling."

          Feeding the World

          With the world's population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, Monsanto has long held out its products as a way "to help meet the food demands of these added billions," as it said in a 1995 statement. That remains an industry mantra.

          "It's absolutely key that we keep innovating," said Kurt Boudonck, who manages Bayer's sprawling North Carolina greenhouses. "With the current production practices, we are not going to be able to feed that amount of people."

          But a broad yield advantage has not emerged. The Times looked at regional data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, comparing main genetically modified crops in the United States and Canada with varieties grown in Western Europe, a grouping used by the agency that comprises seven nations, including the two largest agricultural producers, France and Germany.

          For rapeseed, a variant of which is used to produce canola oil, The Times compared Western Europe with Canada, the largest producer, over three decades, including a period well before the introduction of genetically modified crops.

          Despite rejecting genetically modified crops, Western Europe maintained a lead over Canada in yields. While that is partly because different varieties are grown in the two regions, the trend lines in the relative yields have not shifted in Canada's favor since the introduction of G.M. crops, the data shows.

          For corn, The Times compared the United States with Western Europe. Over three decades, the trend lines between the two barely deviate. And sugar beets, a major source of sugar, have shown stronger yield growth recently in Western Europe than the United States, despite the dominance of genetically modified varieties over the last decade.

          Jack Heinemann, a professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, did a pioneering 2013 study comparing trans-Atlantic yield trends, using United Nations data. Western Europe, he said, "hasn't been penalized in any way for not making genetic engineering one of its biotechnology choices."

          Biotech executives suggested making narrower comparisons. Dr. Fraley of Monsanto highlighted data comparing yield growth in Nebraska and France, while an official at Bayer suggested Ohio and France. These comparisons can be favorable to the industry, while comparing other individual American states can be unfavorable.

          Michael Owen, a weed scientist at Iowa State University, said that while the industry had long said G.M.O.s would "save the world," they still "haven't found the mythical yield gene."

          Few New Markets

          Battered by falling crop prices and consumer resistance that has made it hard to win over new markets, the agrochemical industry has been swept by buyouts. Bayer recently announced a deal to acquire Monsanto. And the state-owned China National Chemical Corporation has received American regulatory approval to acquire Syngenta, though Syngenta later warned the takeover could be delayed by scrutiny from European authorities.

          The deals are aimed at creating giants even more adept at selling both seeds and chemicals. Already, a new generation of seeds is coming to market or in development. And they have grand titles. There is the Bayer Balance GT Soybean Performance System. Monsanto's Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete corn. Dow's PhytoGen with Enlist and WideStrike 3 Insect Protection.

          In industry jargon, they are "stacked" with many different genetically modified traits. And there are more to come. Monsanto has said that the corn seed of 2025 will have 14 traits and allow farmers to spray five different kinds of herbicide.

          Newer genetically modified crops claim to do many things, such as protecting against crop diseases and making food more nutritious. Some may be effective, some not. To the industry, shifting crucial crops like corn, soybeans, cotton and rapeseed almost entirely to genetically modified varieties in many parts of the world fulfills a genuine need. To critics, it is a marketing opportunity.

          "G.M.O. acceptance is exceptionally low in Europe," said Liam Condon, the head of Bayer's crop science division, in an interview the day the Monsanto deal was announced. He added: "But there are many geographies around the world where the need is much higher and where G.M.O. is accepted. We will go where the market and the customers demand our technology."



          2)   Why Dakota Is the New Keystone

          OCT. 28, 2016





          MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — The Native Americans who have spent the last months in peaceful protest against an oil pipeline along the banks of the Missouri are standing up for tribal rights. They're also standing up for clean water, environmental justice and a working climate. And it's time that everyone else joined in.

          The shocking images of the National Guard destroying tepees and sweat lodges and arresting elders this week remind us that the battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline is part of the longest-running drama in American history — the United States Army versus Native Americans. In the past, it's almost always ended horribly, and nothing we can do now will erase a history of massacres, stolen land and broken treaties. But this time, it can end differently.

          Those heroes on the Standing Rock reservation, sometimes on horseback, have peacefully stood up to police dogs, pepper spray and the bizarre-looking militarized tanks and SWAT teams that are the stuff of modern policing. (Modern and old-fashioned both: The pictures of German shepherds attacking are all too reminiscent of photos from, say, Birmingham, Ala., in 1963.)

          The courage of those protesters managed to move the White House enough that the government called a temporary halt to construction. But the forces that want it finished — Big Oil, and its allies in parts of the labor movement — are strong enough that the respite may be temporary.

          In coming weeks, activists will respond to calls from the leaders at Standing Rock by gathering at the offices of banks funding the pipeline, and at the offices of the Army Corps of Engineers, for protest and civil disobedience. Two dozen big banks have lent money to the pipeline project, even though many of them have also adopted elaborate environmental codes. As for the Corps, that's the agency that helped "expedite" the approval of the pipeline — and must still grant the final few permits.

          The vast movement of people across the country who mobilized to block fossil-fuel projects like the Keystone pipeline and Shell's plans to drill in the Arctic need to gather once more. This time, their message must be broader still.

          There are at least two grounds for demanding a full environmental review of this pipeline, instead of the fast-track approvals it has received so far. The first is the obvious environmental racism of the whole project.

          Originally, the pipeline was supposed to cross the Missouri just north of Bismarck, until people pointed out that a leak there would threaten the drinking water supply for North Dakota's second biggest city. The solution, in keeping with American history, was obvious: make the crossing instead just above the Standing Rock reservation, where the poverty rate is nearly three times the national average. This has been like watching the start of another Flint, Mich., except with a chance to stop it.

          The second is that this is precisely the kind of project that climate science tells us can no longer be tolerated. In midsummer, the Obama administration promised that henceforth there would be a climate test for new projects before they could be approved. That promise was codified in the Democratic platform approved by Hillary Clinton's campaign, which says there will be no federal approval for any project that "significantly exacerbates" global warming.

          The review of the Dakota pipeline must take both cases into account.

          So far, the signs are not good. There has been no word from the White House about how long the current pause will last. Now, the company building the pipeline has pushed the local authorities to remove protesters from land where construction has already desecrated indigenous burial sites, with law enforcement agents using Tasers, batons, mace and "sound cannons."

          From the Clinton campaign, there's been simply an ugly silence, perhaps rooted in an unwillingness to cross major contributors like the Laborers' International Union of North America, which has lashed outagainst the many other, larger unions that opposethe project. But that silence won't make the issue go away: Sioux protesters erected a tepee in her Brooklyn campaign office on Thursday. If Mrs. Clinton is elected on Nov. 8, this will be the new president's first test on environmental and human rights.

          What's happening along the Missouri is of historic consequence. That message should reverberate not just on the lonely high plains, but in our biggest cities, too. Native Americans have carried the fight, but they deserve backup from everyone with a conscience; other activists should join the protest at bank headquarters, Army Corps offices and other sites of entrenched power.

          The Native Americans are the only people who have inhabited this continent in harmony with nature for centuries. Their traditional wisdom now chimes perfectly with the latest climate science. The only thing missing are the bodies of the rest of us joining in their protest. If we use them wisely, a fresh start is possible.



          3)  Populist Wave Likely to Lift Iceland's Pirate Party

          OCT. 29, 2016


          REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Spain has Podemos. Italy has its Five Star Movement, and Greece its Syriza. Now, the populist insurgency sweeping through Europe is finding a foothold in Iceland, where the Pirate Party, with its pirate flag logo and anarchist leanings, is poised to make big gains in a general election on Saturday.

          Iceland is one of the most prosperous, equitable and accountable democracies in the world, and has recovered strongly from the 2008 financial crisis. Even so, the nation's political elite has been far from immune to public anger. Many voters are willing to risk it all by choosing the Pirate Party, which has spectacularly captured a chunk of the Icelandic electorate despite its niche origins as a hacktivist group.

          "When I think about politics in Iceland, it makes me want to vomit," Sigmundur Knutsson, 62, said in a deli as he ate fermented shark, an Icelandic delicacy. "It's all about corruption among a very small elite," he said. "There is something that is not right. Something smells bad."

          The Pirate Party, best known for its activism over copyright law and the protection of civil liberties, is expected to gain significantly in Saturday's election. It is riding on a wave of anti-establishment fervor spreading across Europe and the United States, upending traditional politics and fracturing mainstream parties.

          For the first time in Iceland's long political history — its Parliament was founded in 930 — a dozen parties were jostling for power over this frozen volcanic landmass. Iceland, which is the size of Kentucky, has an electorate of about 260,000, barely enough people to fill three football stadiums.

          Since its formation four years ago, the Pirate Party had gained three seats in the 63-seat Parliament. At its peak of popularity in April, when public outrage had erupted over millions of financial documents leaked from a boutique Panamanian law firm, the party commanded the support of 40 percent of the electorate, according to opinion polls. The documents, known as the Panama Papers, revealed the vast hidden wealth of politicians, including Iceland's prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who stepped down over accusations of a conflict of interest.

          Although support for the Pirates had since fallen by half, opinion polls conducted by Gallup in the run-up to the election showed that they remained the second most popular group after the mainstream, center-right Independence Party, which was in power when Iceland's economy collapsed in 2008.

          The Pirate Party is unlikely to win an outright majority, but could still gain enough seats to form part of a coalition in the horse-trading that is likely to follow the election.

          About 40 percent of Pirate supporters are under 30, and they were pinning their hopes on a party that has promised to install a more inclusive, transparent government.

          The Pirates have pledged to enhance direct democracy by passing the world's first "crowd-sourced constitution," drafted by Icelandic civilians rather than politicians. Parliament blocked the document in 2013.

          The party also wants to redistribute wealth and increase the government's anticorruption powers. (The country is already the 13thleast corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International, a watchdog group, ahead of the United States.)

          "We want to see trickle-down ethics rather than make-believe trickle-down economics," Birgitta Jonsdottir, 49, the leader of the Pirate Party and a former WikiLeaks activist, said in an interview the day before the election.

          Sporting sharp black bangs that sliced across her pale brow,Ms. Jonsdottir wore a black dress and black Doc Martens embroidered with red roses, fitting her self-description as an anarchist "poetician." (At age 14, she published her first poem, "Black Roses," about a nuclear holocaust.)

          "We need to reboot politics," she said in her parliamentary office, next to a strip club on a narrow street. She worked on a laptop covered with a sticker that read: "National Security Agency Monitored Device."

          Her party has granted citizenship to Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who stole a trove of highly classified documents after he became disillusioned with the agency's reach into the lives of millions of Americans.

          In Iceland, a nation where internet penetration is among the highest in the world but social media is still a relatively new political tool, a strategist who once worked to help elect Senator Bernie Sanders president of the United States was helping push the Pirate Party's message through Facebook and Twitter.

          Winnie Wong, who created the viral political hashtag #FeelTheBern, spent a few months training the Pirates' tiny media team on how to create viral content, and working with party leaders to improve their media presence. (She said her Icelandic was not good enough to create a Nordic equivalent of the Sanders campaign's famous hashtag.)

          "They needed a bit of structure, and we gave them an intensive training on the mechanisms of what it takes to stage a successful insurgent campaign," Ms. Wong said in a coffee shop near Hallgrimskirkja, a silvery Lutheran church shaped like a gigantic rocket ship.

          Soon, videos the party posted on Facebook gathered on average 26,000 views each, she said, equivalent to about 10 percent of Iceland's voting population.

          "We really want them to win," she said, partly so that the next generation of American lawmakers can draw inspiration from Iceland for a better type of government.

          Opponents had criticized the Pirate Party as political lightweights with little experience governing. The party focuses on more abstract, esoteric issues like the crowd-sourced constitution, critics say, when most voters are interested in more pressing topics like rising housing prices, student debt, pensions and the effects of climate change.

          Still, those critics, like Birgir Armannsson, a member of the Independence Party, recognize that the political class shares part of the blame for such strong anti-establishment feeling. His party has been in power since 2013, and it was in the governing coalition in the run-up to the 2008 crisis.

          "People lost confidence in traditional politics, institutions, society," he said in an interview. "People are still shocked. It's kind of like post-traumatic stress."

          In 2008, Iceland's economy collapsed after its banking sector, fresh from deregulation, grew exponentially. In the years before that, Icelanders binged on credit, some becoming billionaires overnight. By 2006, the average Icelander was 300 percent wealthier than three years earlier. Cronyism became rampant.

          When the crisis hit, Icelanders were plunged into debt and banks racked up losses of $100 billion, which amounted to roughly $330,000 for every Icelandic man, woman and child, according to Michael Lewis, the author of "The Big Short."

          Since then, Iceland has rebuilt its economy, thanks in part to booming tourism, becoming something of a model of recovery for crisis-hit countries.

          The investment units of banks have all but disappeared. Former financiers have moved on to new careers in the information technology or gaming sectors, or have gone back to fishing, the country's traditional source of wealth. Iceland has so far sentenced at least 29 senior bankers to prison for their involvement in the crisis. (By contrast, only one executive in the United States has gone to prison. Though major banks associated with the meltdown have paid billions of dollars for their role in the crisis, none of their top executives was held personally accountable.)

          "The economy has been recovering," Mr. Armannsson said, adding that Iceland has low unemployment, low inflation, low inequality and healthy growth.

          "You could say we are well off and our outlook is quite good," he said. "But part of the population is still not satisfied."

          Despite efforts to remedy past mistakes and improve governance, "we are still in a political storm in the aftermath of the financial crisis," Mr. Armannsson said, sounding genuinely puzzled.

          "This is a little bit extraordinary."



          4)  Greek Homeowners Scramble as Repossession Looms: 'It's Like a Horror Movie'

          OCT. 29, 2016


          ATHENS — Even after retiring as an accountant, Michalis Hanis dutifully kept up with the mortgage payments on the small house in a suburb of Athens where he has lived for 23 years. That was until several years ago, when Greece's economic crisis hit.

          As part of belt-tightening measures demanded by Greece's creditors, the government cut his pension by 35 percent. Like his country's debts, his debts grew.

          Now he has joined the tens of thousands of Greeks fighting to save their homes as a sudden wave of repossessions has struck this year, prompting mounting protests across Greece.

          "It's like a horror movie," said Mr. Hanis, 63, who takes antidepressants and sleeping pills to cope. "You can never relax. I just want to protect my home."

          The country's creditors have pressed the government to allow the auction of delinquent debtors' properties, collecting billions of euros that could be used to prop up tottering Greek banks.

          Greek banks hold 108 billion euros, or about $119 billion, in bad loans, just under half of all loans given out. Of these, 41 percent are delinquent mortgages.

          The real challenge is to address the problem of bad loans in a way that offers some hope to debtors like Mr. Hanis but does not undermine the banking system.

          That circle may be impossible to square.

          The country has been given three international bailouts worth more than €300 billion over the past six years, but it cannot recover if its banks are foundering.

          Since signing the third bailout package in the summer of 2015, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has less leverage to push back against his creditors. Critics say he has made concession after concession despite pledges to protect homes.

          Government officials have insisted that homes are safe. Giorgos Stathakis, the economy minister, said in a statement that "first homes are already protected as regards debts to banks."

          The authorities, he added, are also "examining further intervention for debts exclusively to the state," meaning debts like unpaid taxes.

          Yet in the spring, the government lifted a ban on the sale of delinquent mortgages and loans to small businesses. In the summer, new laws were passed that allowed banks to initiate foreclosures if debtors are regarded as uncooperative.

          Greeks are furious and feel betrayed. In a campaign reminiscent of citizens' initiatives in Spain a few years ago, Greek homeowners and their supporters have been staging demonstrations against auctions across the country.

          Every Wednesday, when foreclosure auctions are held, protesters gather outside Greek courts, blocking access to legal staff, barging into courtrooms and, on occasion, clashing with the riot police.

          Among those protesting are groups like the left-leaning Repossessions Stop and Den Plirono (I Won't Pay), as well as right-wing groups.

          Stefanos Grigorakis of the United Pan-Popular Front, a nationalist group, joined one recent Wednesday protest outside the Athens county court. He said the government's reassurances were disingenuous.

          "It's deception, so people sit back on their couches," he said. "Greeks have to wake up. They handed over the public wealth," he added, referring to the government's plans for state privatizations. "Now they're coming to take our houses."

          Such protests have blocked dozens of repossessions in recent weeks. Auctions began in September, when Greek lawyers returned to work after a nine-month strike over cuts to their pensions.

          In a speech in Parliament this month, Mr. Tsipras defended his government's efforts to protect homeowners. He said there had been only 500 repossessions this year and none in 2015, when his leftist Syriza party came to power, compared with thousands under previous governments.

          Greek notaries and the association of Greek borrowers said the numbers were higher, though they did not have exact figures.

          The head of the borrowers' association, Vangelis Kritikos, said about 50,000 properties would be up for repossession next year. "People are panicking," he said. "Every day we get about 500 calls."

          After violent clashes in Thessaloniki at a planned foreclosure auction in the first week of October, Greek notaries said they would no longer attend auctions for primary residences and urged the government to pass a law categorically protecting them.

          The deputy finance minister, Tryfon Alexiadis, declared a ban on foreclosures of primary residences with a taxable value of €300,000 or more. Strong words aside, the authorities stopped short of legislation. According to the political opposition and other critics, that was because creditor representatives were in Athens and would have objected.

          Negotiations between Greece and its creditors have several times touched on the huge burden that nonperforming loans have placed on Greek banks, but the issue remains unresolved.

          Unless it can be solved, Greek banks will be unable to pump money back into the economy. They have already been recapitalized three times in three years.

          As is customary, officials of the eurozone countries, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund would not comment publicly while bailout negotiations were underway. Privately though, officials said it was not the first time that the Greek government had ventured a "unilateral action" that it had then revoked.

          All three institutions have pointed to bad loans as a major problem, calling for a crackdown on delinquent debtors, particularly strategic defaulters (who have money but do not pay) and the development of a market where bad loans could be traded.

          Yannis Stournaras, the head of Greece's central bank, also highlighted the issue last month, saying that "tackling the high stock of nonperforming loans is the greatest challenge facing the Greek banking system and the Greek economy."

          Greek bank officials, in talks with foreign envoys, have proposed that auctions be conducted electronically to overcome the problem posed by angry protesters at courthouses.

          In the meantime, Greek homeowners like Mr. Hanis, the retired accountant, remain in limbo. He took out two mortgages, in 2001 and 2012, worth €71,000. Once his pension was cut, he asked for help from banks, which advised him to take out new loans to pay off the old ones.

          "It's like Greece getting more loans from the lenders," he said. "Just more debt to pay the old debt, but what else could I do?"

          Mr. Hanis applied to a government program introduced in 2010, at the peak of the crisis, that aims to reduce monthly payments for people with serious financial problems. The program has since been qualified by so many conditions that inclusion is difficult.

          About 150,000 applications are pending. His hopes now hang on a court case in November.

          Mr. Hanis's lawyer, Dimitris Anastasopoulos, said he had represented "about 1,000 people" during the crisis years, "not including the hundreds of people who walked in here to seek advice."

          A key problem, he said, is that the Greek authorities have focused more on giving homeowners a false sense of security than providing them with information about their options.

          "Successive governments convinced people that they won't lose their homes while they tried to figure out what to do," Mr. Anastasopoulos said. "They issue a law saying, 'We can take your house.' Then, they reassure you that it's protected."

          Many homeowners are desperate, he said, citing a client who recently told him that he had contemplated suicide.

          Mr. Hanis fears a rejection, but said he would continue to fight.

          "I'm going to appeal for a reprieve," he said, "because I just can't make the payments."



          5)  Richer but Not Better Off

          "It has been a long, painful slog out of the Great Recession. More than seven years into a halting recovery, fewer than 60 percent of working-age Americans hold a job — not much more than at the trough of the recession in the spring of 2009. ...Despite last year's gains, the bottom 60 percent of households took a smaller share of the income pie than four decades ago. ...The richest 5 percent of Americans, by contrast, have done much better for themselves — taking in about 22 percent of the nation's income, 6 percentage points more than they did in 1975."

          OCT. 29, 2016





          It has been a long, painful slog out of the Great Recession. More than seven years into a halting recovery, fewer than 60 percent of working-age Americans hold a job — not much more than at the trough of the recession in the spring of 2009.

          So it was hardly surprising that the Census Bureau's report last month of rising family incomes and declining poverty was received as solid proof that the United States has finally pulled through.

          The White House was quick to trumpet that the income of a typical middle-class household had increased at the fastest pace on record last year, while the poverty rate experienced its steepest decline since the 1960s, when Lyndon B. Johnson began his war on poverty.

          On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton mischievously tweeted a comment made by Donald J. Trump in 2004: "It just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans."

          Mark Perry of the conservative American Enterprise Institute argued that the report undercut the woeful conventional wisdom about a shrinking middle class, because the middle class is actually moving up the income ladder, not down. Matthew Yglesias of Vox resorted to Dickens's sunnier side: "We are currently living through the best of times."

          But the question remains: best for whom? Poorer households did get a bigger raise, proportionally, than the rich did last year. But that looks like a bug, not an enduring feature of the American economy. The data does little to suggest that the American economy has managed to overcome its perhaps most debilitating weakness: inequality.

          Despite last year's gains, the bottom 60 percent of households took a smaller share of the income pie than four decades ago. The bottom 20 percent took in only 3.4 percent of all income — compared with 5.6 percent in the mid-1970s. The richest 5 percent of Americans, by contrast, have done much better for themselves — taking in about 22 percent of the nation's income, 6 percentage points more than they did in 1975.

          America's inequities can be sliced in different ways. For instance, champions of the nuclear family will underscore the report's finding that married couples in which both spouses work saw incomes rise by nearly $4,000 last year — to almost $104,000 at the median, the highest ever.

          The problem is that the two-earner family is not as iconic as it once was, falling as a share of all families over the past two decades. The families that have been growing are those headed by a single woman. Last year their incomes rose sharply — to $34,126. Sure, that was a big jump on 2014. But they were still making less than they were 15 years before.

          How does this count as shared prosperity?

          Fans of the American flavor of capitalism will surely argue that such inequities are irrelevant now that the floor seems to be rising for everybody. But income isn't the only way to measure prosperity; by many other metrics, Americans' well-being remains pretty low. Whether it is life expectancy or infant mortality, incarceration or educational attainment, countless statistics offer a fairly dark picture of the American experience. It is a picture of prosperity that consistently leaves large numbers of Americans behind.

          The United States suffers the highest obesity rate among the 35 industrialized countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In terms of life expectancy at birth, it ranks 10th from the bottom. America's infant mortality rate has dropped by half since 1980. Still, today Turkey and Mexico are the only countries in the O.E.C.D. to report a higher share of dead babies. Infant mortality fell faster in almost every other industrialized country.

          It is worth noting that, if you look only at how much money they make, the citizens of virtually all of these industrialized nations are poorer than Americans.

          Canadians are 19 percent poorer, but Canadian teenagers easily outscore their American peers in tests of math, reading and science. The French take home 33 percent less. But a French baby born today will be expected to live three and a half years more, on average, than an American one. Income per person in Japan is only two-thirds of what it is in the United States. But Japan's infant mortality rate is only one-third of America's.

          Peter Klenow and Charles Jones of Stanford University have tried to account for some of these other dimensions, incorporating consumption, leisure, life expectancy and inequality into one bundle of well-being.

          They found that the United States looks substantially less prosperous than when it is ranked by money alone. Americans may be 50 percent richer than the French. But by the new metric they are only 9 percent better off. Income per person in Britain is only 75 percent what it is in the United States. But using the composite indicator, the British are in fact almost as prosperous as Americans.

          I would argue that even this metric overstates American prosperity. It misses many dimensions of health and the quality of the environment. And, to my mind, it falls way short of accounting for how much damage rampant inequality can inflict on society. Ranked by inequality, the United States surpasses every other advanced nation. The Klenow-Jones approach incorporates it by thinking about how much people would pay to avoid the risk of living in an unequal society, if they might end up on the wrong side of the divide. But inequality could deeply affect well-being in other ways.

          The United States has perhaps the smallest middle class in the industrialized world: In 2013, just 70 percent of non-elderly American households had disposable incomes between one-half and twice the income of the typical household. In Norway it was 87 percent.

          The income of the richest 5 percent of nonelderly American households grew at nearly the fastest pace in the O.E.C.D. between 1985 and 2010. By contrast, the income gains of American households in the middle of the distribution were outpaced by pretty much every other advanced nation.

          This kind of polarization is behind the obesity, the shortened life spans and the dead babies. These are the ills of the Americans left behind.

          It is the losers in America's distribution of prosperity who have the shortest life expectancies. They are also more likely to be obese. The babies of white, college-educated American women survive as well as the babies of women in Europe. It is those born to nonwhite, less educated mothers who die at disproportionately high rates. 

          This is not to knock a good year's worth of income growth. But the prosperity of the United States can hardly be called such when it leaves so many behind. America's rich are richer than the rich almost anywhere else. Its poor are still poorer than the poor of its peers in the developed world. Can we claim prosperity without closing these gaps?



          6)  Clear Evidence Emerges of Outrageous Militarized Police Collaboration With Oil Companies at Standing Rock Against Protectors

          Police departments around the country are sending reinforcements to North Dakota to support mining companies.


          Today's militarized crackdown on water protectors in Cannonball, North Dakota stems from high levels of coordination between the extractive industry, state officials and police departments. It was waged against a frontline camp seeking to block the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which would cross beneath the Standing Rock Sioux reservation's main drinking water source and bisect the community's burial grounds. The attack took place under cover of a media blackout, with reports emerging that police were disrupting cellular phone reception.

          Water protectors have already endured dog attacks, military-style checkpoints, low-flying surveillance planes, invasive strip searches, national guard deployments, and mass arrests. "What's happening today is a travesty on the human rights of Indigenous people," Tom Goldtooth, the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, told AlterNet. "I see this as glaring evidence that the law enforcement of this county and state is more concerned about protecting corporate rights of the extractive industry than tribal nations."

          There is evidence of close coordination between the companies backing the $3.8 billion crude-oil Dakota Access Pipeline and police departments. Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company for Dakota Access LLC, said Tuesday it intends to work with police to forcibly clear a frontlines water protectors' camp. Energy Transfer Partners threatened that "in coordination with local law enforcement and county/state officials, all trespassers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and removed from the land."

          Challenging the company's charges of trespassing, the frontline Sacred Stone Camp says it is taking back "unceded territory affirmed in the 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie as sovereign land under the control of the Oceti Sakowin."

          "We have never ceded this land," Joye Braun, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, said in a press statement. "If DAPL can go through and claim eminent domain on landowners and Native peoples on their own land, then we as sovereign nations can then declare eminent domain on our own aboriginal homeland."

          Today's events indicate that Energy Transfer Partners is not bluffing when it says police are siding with the company. In fact, law enforcement has vocally rallied behind the pipeline, which is backed by Enbridge. "At some point the rule of law has to be enforced," Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. "We could go down there at any time. We're trying not to."

          The companies backing the pipeline already have private security under their employ. Dakota Access LLC confirmed to AlterNet in September that it had hired the notorious multinational security firm G4S during a period that overlapped with the protests, but would not state where its forces were located. Attorneys representing the Standing Rock encampments identified the companies behind the Dakota Access company's brutal dog attacks, captured on video, as private security firm 10-Code Security, LLC and attack dog contractor Frost Kennels.

          But according to Peter Kraska, professor and author of Militarizing The American Criminal Justice System: The Changing Roles of the Armed Forces and Police, the extractive industry also has taxpayer-funded security, in the form of police.

          "We have romantic notions of the relationships between government and the private sector and tend to think the old days of police supporting owners of capital—the railroad companies instead of the workers—are from a bygone era," Kraska told AlterNet. "Situations like these show that corporations and energy interests are exercising a monopoly on violence to continue the fossil fuel industry unabated."

          Steven Salaita, professor and author of the forthcoming book Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine, put it this way: "The current buildup of tremendous force at Standing Rock should be understood as a military invasion of a sovereign nation on behalf of a foreign oil company."

          The heavy-handed response does not stem from local coordination alone. The Morton County Sheriff's Department said in a press statement released Sunday that, "Due to escalated unlawful tactics by individuals protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Morton County has requested additional law enforcement assistance from other states. The state of North Dakota made an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request to states for assistance on October 7th."

          Remarkably, the EMAC program is supposed to be used to allow "states to send personnel, equipment, and commodities to help disaster relief efforts in other states."

          According to the Morton County Sheriff's Department, "Several states have responded and have arrived or will be arriving to support Morton County. States that are currently assisting Morton County are: Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Indiana and Nebraska." AlterNet could not immediately reach Morton County for comment.

          In Minneapolis, news that local law enforcement officers were being sent to Standing Rock sparked protests on Wednesday. The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office confirmed that, "At the request of the State of North Dakota, and as approved by the State of Minnesota, on Sunday, Minnesota Sheriff's Deputies from the Hennepin, Anoka, and Washington Counties' Sheriff's Offices were deployed to assist in Morton County, North Dakota."

          Those counties cover the bulk of the Twin Cities area, where local police been accused of placing protesters in danger, through a far-reaching culture of incitement against the Black Lives Matter movement. In one incident, St. Paul police officer Jeff Rothecker was forced to resign in February after he was caught encouraging drivers to run over Black Lives Matter protesters slated to gather for a Martin Luther King Day mobilization. Lt. Bob Kroll, the head of the Minneapolis Police Officer's Federation who has ties to a white-power-linked biker gang, has repeatedly referred to protesters as "terrorists."

          As police departments around the country send reinforcements to North Dakota, the appeals of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe for federal protection from law enforcement violence appear to have had no effect. In a letter sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch earlier this week, the water protectors asked the Department of Justice to intervene.

          "To many people, the military tactics being used in North Dakota are reminiscent of the tactics used against protesters during the civil rights movement some 50 years ago," the letter states. "But to us, there is an additional collective memory that comes to mind. This country has a long and sad history of using military force against indigenous people—including the Sioux Nation."



          7)  It takes a special arrogance to say the poverty in I, Daniel Blake is unrealistic

          By Dawn Foster


          For those who have worked in housing, homelessness and advocacy, Ken Loach's latest film, I, Daniel Blake will seem more documentary than fiction.

          The two protagonists are both subject to arbitrary and damaging periods of extreme poverty after their benefits are stopped. Daniel – a 61-year old joiner recovering from a heart attack and rejected for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) – is hit by the bedroom tax after the death of his wife, while Katie, a young single mother with two children, is evicted after complaining about the black mould in her flat that hospitalises her son. After a year in a hostel in London, she is shunted far from her family to Newcastle and after getting the wrong bus during their first days in the city, is sanctioned for turning up slightly late to a benefits appointment. 

          Neither of these tales is unusual given the intense focus on lowering the number of people on Jobseekers Allowance and ESA, and both sanctions, and the ludicrous telephone assessment for ESA that Daniel undergoes, are arbitrary measures focused not on helping individuals but on cutting expenditure while hitting targets.

          But critics from a certain political bent have found it unpalatable. If the film causes discomfort, perhaps your political system should be the target of your ire rather than a director and the screen representation of thousands of near identical stories across the country. Sanctions are meted out constantly for ludicrous reasons; people are evicted from appalling housing simply for requesting basic repairs; families in hostels are moved far from home with no support; and many people have died shortly after being declared fit for work. It takes a special arrogance for people who have never sat in a foodbank or been near a job centre to proclaim that these cases are unrealistic.

          Poverty and, by extension, the benefits system, together work to instil shame and isolation in those subjected to such miseries. Political and media narratives reinforce the idea of people in need as architects of their own misfortune and to blame for the fact that they've fallen through the cracks. But there simply aren't enough houses and jobs available to end homelessness and reach full employment overnight. Rather than admit this, and work to ensure that there is a safety net for people who are sick, homeless and unemployed, lives are instead treated as a problem on a balance sheet.

          If you sanction enough claimants, withdraw employment support allowance, and shift people from temporary accommodation in the cities where they've always lived to towns far away, the issue is deemed solved. That people are left reliant on foodbanks, living without electricity and forced to sell furniture simply to feed their children because they've been sanctioned is ignored. Instead, the fact that someone who once claimed Jobseekers Allowance or ESA has been sanctioned is offered as proof not of a dysfunctional system arbitrarily aiming to meet targets, but of the claim that those left with no support were gaming the system and not entitled to support in the first place.

          I, Daniel Blake is an uncomfortable film for anyone to watch, but more so if you are intent on disregarding the experiences it presents. If you believe that too many people would rather claim benefits than work, being forced to confront the human fallout of the system doesn't sit comfortably with you. Facts can be inconvenient in that way: the film is meticulously researched and each scene has played out in countless lives around the country. I report regularly on poverty, and have visited many houses where the residents are embarrassed to admit they can't offer you a cup of tea as there's nothing in the meter – and many people who visit foodbanks are dizzy with hunger. I watched this film with a friend, who works in the housing benefit department of a London council, and he remarked that he'd seen it all before.

          People who disregard Loach's film as unrealistic proselytising might do well to spend some time actually asking the people affected about their experiences of the labyrinthine housing and benefits system. But more than that, they should consider why they're so threatened by the stories presented in I, Daniel Blake. The characters are people who are rarely represented in the media and often scapegoated and dehumanised. 

          Loach presents his characters as complex but utterly failed by the system that nominally helps them, stuck in sub-standard homes with no money to pay basic utility bills, beaten down by shame and punished for fighting for basic rights. These are the people who are ignored for political expediency – that Loach has shone a light on the human cost of austerity has rattled the government's defenders, but could forge more empathy and understanding among more reasonable viewers.



          8)  My South African University Is on Fire

          By Nicky Falkof

          October 30, 2016


          JOHANNESBURG — The university where I work is in crisis. Campuses across South Africa are on fire — in some cases literally — as students protesting impossibly high fees lock horns with reckless police officers. Students run a gantlet of rubber bullets, water cannons, stun grenades and tear gas just to make it to the library. Attendance has been sparse, with students, lecturers and other employees staying home in fear. Some universities have turned to overzealous police officers and the infamous private security industry in a bid to bring campuses under control.

          Meanwhile protesters have become ever more attached to the uncompromising politics of shutdown, insisting that universities must stay closed until their demands are met. According to the police, 567 people have been arrested in connection with student protests this year. At least 16 of the country's 26 universities have been closed or seriously disrupted by protests this month. Damage to campuses is estimated at more than $40 million.

          The answer to the question of how we arrived at this dark place is not simple, and begins alongside the project of post-apartheid South Africa itself.

          For more than 20 years the state has been asking universities to recruit more black students to redress the inequities caused by apartheid South Africa's racist restriction of quality education to whites. In one of the most unequal countries in the world, a university education can be an important impetus for class mobility, with a degree often helping to lift future generations out of poverty.

          But these pressures have not come with enough funding for public institutions. Recent research estimates that state funding for universities amounts to around 0.75 percent of gross domestic product, lower than in many countries with comparable economies. Faced with financial shortfalls, universities pushed the burden of payment back onto students, so that fees have risen steadily, locking many deserving young people — most of them black — out of higher education altogether.

          While the comfortable, largely white middle classes criticize a "culture of entitlement," student fees now make up a higher portion of university budgets than they did during my undergraduate studies in the 1990s. The state loan program, intended to help the most impoverished students, saddles them with crippling debt. Those who are granted loans find that the amount they have been given isn't enough to cover tuition and room and board.

          The situation erupted last year into the #FeesMustFall movement, which spread from my university to campuses across the country. The movement made a national call for accessible higher education that resulted in the cancellation of university fee increases for 2016. The #FeesMustFall movement also pushed for what students are calling the "decolonization" of Eurocentric institutions and curriculums, as well as protections for janitors and other poorly paid workers on campuses.

          But the achievements of 2015 were not enough to create long-term change. The announcement earlier this year by Blade Nzimande, the minister of education, that universities could set their 2017 fee increases up to a maximum of 8 percent, led to a fresh round of protests, this time with demonstrators demanding free education for all. Protesters have become angrier and more militant, and university officials more intransigent. The movement is fractured and the response to it is hardening daily. Students are determined to close universities, whatever the consequences; in many cases, administrators are determined to keep them open, whatever the consequences. It's a tragic standoff.

          For the post-apartheid "born free" generation, those born after 1990, when white-minority rule began to crumble, it's nothing short of shocking to witness clashes between young black protesters wielding stones and black police officers pointing rifles and wearing body armor. Students who live in dormitories report being harassed both by law enforcement agents and by protesters determined to stop classes. Reports and images of police brutality, racial profiling and sexual harassment by private security guards abound on social media.

          Studying is almost impossible, and my campus resembles a burned-out war zone when staff members return tentatively to their offices on Monday mornings. Trust between students and university officials has been destroyed. Statements and positions by professors are scrutinized from both sides. Students who aren't involved in the protests feel like collateral damage, let down both by student leaders and by university administrators who have a duty to care for them.

          Absent from all this anxious volatility is the state itself, locked in its own internal crises, with longstanding allegations of corruption at the highest levels, an economy in decline and a disgraced president clinging to power as calls to remove him from office mount even within his own party, the ruling African National Congress.

          Despite the extent of the damage and the risk to the 2016 academic year, with disruptions in areas of vital national interest like the placement of new medical students at public hospitals, we have yet to see Mr. Nzimande, not to mention President Jacob Zuma, appear on a university campus. The A.N.C. seems content to let universities burn and young people be brutalized, rather than step in with a coherent plan for increasing access to higher education.

          While some professors sit firmly on one or another end of the political spectrum, many of us who work at these institutions feel caught in an impossible bind. We believe strongly that quality education must be accessible to all, but we also want to do our jobs, which means teaching those who are desperate to learn and graduate. It's difficult not to feel that universities, held hostage by the student movement in the fight for free education, are being hung out to dry by a political inner circle that's more concerned with protecting a plundering president than with the economic and social stability that higher education can bring.

          The public university offers little benefit to society if only the wealthy have access to it. But institutions are precious and fragile things. Without negotiation and compromise their futures are uncertain. It remains to be seen whether the state, the students and university administrators have the collective will to save them, and with them the starry-eyed dream of a better South Africa for all.



          9)  Why Your Facebook Friends Are Checking In to Standing Rock

          OCT. 31, 2016




          If you're seeing a wave of Facebook friends suddenly checking in to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Cannon Ball, N.D., online, it's probably not because they've decided to travel to the site of tenseprotests between the police and activists against the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

          Supporters of the protesters appear to be falsely checking in out of solidarity online — in hopes of confusing law enforcement officials they believe are trying to track protesters who are actually at the reservation.

          What's going on at Standing Rock? 

          Protests have been boiling over in a long standoff with the police over the fate of an oil pipeline under construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. On Friday, the police said they arrested more than 142 people and used beanbags and pepper spray to disperse the crowds.

          Company officials say the pipeline will be a safer way to transfer oil 1,170 miles from North Dakota to Illinois. But activists say the construction of the pipeline will harm sacred cultural lands and local water supplies. Activists call themselves Water Protectors and are busy raising money online that is intended to help them operate an encampment near the protest area.

          Who started the Facebook protest?

          It's not clear. But activist pages, including Stand Against Dakota Access Pipeline — No DAPL, have shared some version of a message that is all over Facebook: "The Morton County Sheriff's Department has been using Facebook check-ins to find out who is at Standing Rock in order to target them in attempts to disrupt the prayer camps. Water Protectors are calling on EVERYONE to check in at SR to overwhelm and confuse them."

          Is the check-in movement distracting law enforcement? 

          No, according to the authorities.

          "The Morton County Sheriff's Department is not and does not follow Facebook check-ins for the protest camp or any location. This claim/rumor is absolutely false," the department wrote on its Facebook page on Monday.

          It's not unheard-of, however, for the police to rely on social media to locate and track the movements of suspects, but it looks like this particular movement was started without an understanding of how the authorities would gather data — or if they were doing this at all.

          Are there precedents for this? 

          Checking in to protests has been a favorite pastime of online observers who can't be where the protest is but want to spread the word.

          Perhaps the most notable example is the so-called Twitter Revolution during protests of Iran's 2009 presidential elections. People changed their Twitter avatars to a green overlay and switched their locations to Tehran in hopes of confusing law enforcement officials trying to track down activists and bloggers.

          These efforts don't always work to organize on-the-ground protests, but that's beside the point. With very little effort, online activists can use social media to bring more publicity to a cause, the latest example being the Standing Rock check-ins you may be seeing on your Facebook feed.



          10)  Obama Says Alternate Routes Are Being Reviewed for Dakota Pipeline

          NOV. 2, 2016




          President Obama, in his first remarks on the standoff over an oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, called on both sides to show restraint, and revealed that the Army Corps of Engineers was considering an alternative route for the project.

          In an interview with NowThis news published late on Tuesday, Mr. Obama said: "We are monitoring this closely. I think as a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans.

          "I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline."

          Protesters have been gathering since April outside Cannon Ball, N.D., a town in the south-central part of the state near the South Dakota border, to rally against the pipeline.

          Energy Transfer Partners, which has been working to finish construction on the 1,170-mile, $3.7 billion pipeline, contends it would be a safer way to transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois. But Native American tribes say it threatens the local water supply, sacred land and tribal burial ground.

          The number of protesters has grown to several hundred, many drawn from across the country. Last week, the standoff boiled over as officers in riot gear tried to force crowds from protest camps near Cannon Ball. In the monthslong unrest, more than 400 people have been arrested, some accused of engaging in riots and conspiracy to endanger by fire and explosion.

          The two sides have also accused each other of violent tactics, with law enforcement officials accusing the protesters of attacking contractors working on the pipeline. Activists have said that the police have marked them with numbers and held them in "dog kennels."

          But the Morton County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that the enclosures were "temporary holding cells" made out of chain link fence.

          The Army Corps of Engineers was expected to review a crucial stretch of the proposed path for the pipeline, through Army Corps land and under the Missouri River.

          Mr. Obama said in the interview on Tuesday, "We are going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans."

          Asked to comment on law enforcement tactics, including the use of rubber bullets, Mr. Obama said: "It is a challenging situation. I think that my general rule when I talk to governors and state and local officials, whenever they are dealing with protests — including, for example during the Black Lives Matter protests — there is an obligation for protesters to be peaceful, and there is an obligation for authorities to show restraint.

          "I want to make sure that as everybody is exercising their constitutional rights to be heard that both sides are refraining from situations that might result in people being hurt," he added.






























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