Sensible Cinema

Sponsored by UU Social Justice Council

Long Distance Revolutionary 

Friday, February 17, 6:30pm

Unitarian Universalist Center 

1187 Franklin Street @ Geary Boulevard

For the month of February, which is Afro-American History Month, Sensible Cinema will pay tribute to a living martyr of the Twenty-First Century, Mumia Abu Jamal, rather than featuring  one from past centuries by screening the film Long Distance Revolutionary.  

Unlike any other film about Mumia  Abu Jamal  this definitive documentary directed by Stephen Vittoria  focuses on his dramatic life as a writer, journalist and revolutionary from Pennsylvania's  Death Row.  

Through prison interviews, archival footage and dramatic readings and aided by a chorus of voices, including  Cornel  West, Alice Walker, Angela Davis and others this riveting film explores Mumia's life before, during and after Death Row. (120 MINS.)

As usual, popcorn and other refreshments will also be available.

Free Admission donations appreciated).  For more information please contact:

Melvin Starks (mcs104@hotmail.com) or Larry Danos (415-722-6480)



ANSWER Coalition

palestine.jpgNational March and Rally

Support Palestine in D.C.! Protest AIPAC!

Sunday, March 26 - Gather 12 Noon

March from the White House to the Convention Center

At last year's AIPAC conference, Donald Trump made an outrageous pledge: "We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem ... The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable." Now that he is the president, Trump seems dead set on following through on his promise.

This would be an extreme provocation that tramples on the Palestinian right to self-determination. Every progressive person needs to mobilize to stop this.

In the short time since Trump took the oath of office, the Israeli government has already announced thousands of new illegal settler homes in the Palestinian territories seized in the 1967 war. The Palestinian people need our solidarity now more than ever as they resist these wanton acts of aggression.

From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go!

Just like Trump is encouraging Israel to step up its violation of Palestinian rights, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is cheer leading for Trump's extreme right agenda. On Jan. 28, Netanyahu sent this outrageous tweet:


The fight for justice for Palestine and the fight to stop the Trump Agenda are one in the same! 

Join the National Rally and March on Sunday, March 26

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right To Return Coalition and the ANSWER Coalition will once again spearhead this National Rally to Support Palestine in DC 2017!

This rally will start at the White House with thousands of people from across the nation and around the world, and end up in front of AIPAC's annual convention! AIPAC is the primary organization lobbying to continue the brutal illegal occupation of Palestine for over 68 years.

We must protest to end this outrageous lobby that ultimately supports the oppression and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Please come out and support the Palestinian people in their noble struggle to be free.

End U.S. aid to Israel — End the occupation now!


ANSWER Coalition · United States

This email was sent to karenlee726@gmail.com.

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You can also keep up with ANSWER Coalition on Facebook.



John T. Kaye invited you to Moms Clean Air Force's event

People's Climate March

Saturday, April 29 at 9 AM EDT

Washington, District of Columbia in Washington, District of Columbia





Not Interested

Join us April 29th in Washington, DC to let Trump know that we won't let him destroy the environment on our watch. There is no denying it: Donald Trump's election is a threat to the future of our pla...

John T. Kaye and Dave Schubert are going.




Committee to Stop FBI Repression (stopfbi.net)

Rasmea Defense Committee statement - December 21, 2016

Rasmea retrial set for May 16, 2017

Support the defense now!

This morning, Rasmea Odeh and her defense attorney Michael Deutsch were called into Judge Gershwin Drain's courtroom in Detroit, where the judge and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel were in attendance. The parties all agreed on May 16, 2017, as the new starting date for Rasmea's retrial.

The defense committee will continue to send regular updates regarding any pre-trial hearings or other appearances that Rasmea must make between now and the retrial, as well as requests to participate in regular defense organizing and activities.

In addition, we urge supporters to continue to
call U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade
 at 313-226-9100,

or tweet @USAO_MIE

and demand that she stop wasting taxpayer money, that she stop persecuting a woman who has given so much to U.S. society, and that she #DropTheChargesNow against Rasmea.

Lastly, and in the spirit of the season, please help us win #Justice4Rasmea by making your end-of-year donation to the defense fund! We thank you all for your continued support!

Background info

Statement from Tuesday, December 13

U.S. Attorney extends political attack on Rasmea, brings new indictment against the Palestinian American

Today, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade announced that a grand jury she had empaneled returned a new, superseding indictment against Rasmea Odeh for unlawful procurement of naturalization. This new indictment, just four weeks before her retrial, is a vicious attack by prosecutors desperate after a series of setbacks in their case against the Chicago-based Palestinian American community leader. From the outset, the government has attempted to exclude and discredit evidence of Rasmea's torture at the hands of Israeli authorities, but the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the prosecution, which led to the retrial; and the government's own expert affirmed that Rasmea lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Knowing that it faces the real prospect of losing a retrial before a jury, the U.S. Attorney's office has reframed its case against Rasmea, putting allegations of terrorism front and center. In the first trial in 2014, prosecutors were barred from using the word "terrorism," because Judge Gershwin Drain agreed the word would bias the jury. The new indictment adds two allegations that preclude this protection: first, that the crimes she was forced by torture to confess to are "terrorist activity"; and second, that she failed to report an alleged association with a "Designated Terrorist Organization." Despite the government's claim that this is a simple case of immigration fraud, this new indictment is written to ensure that Rasmea stands before a jury as an accused terrorist.

The Rasmea Defense Committee is urging supporters to call U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade at 313-226-9100, or tweet @USAO_MIE, and demand that she stop wasting taxpayer money, that she stop persecuting a woman who has given so much to U.S. society, and that she #DropTheChargesNow against Rasmea. In addition, the committee is calling on supporters to help win #Justice4Rasmea by donating to the defense and organizing educational events about the case.

"They [the prosecutors] are switching course because they know that a jury will believe Rasmea," says Nesreen Hasan of the Rasmea Defense Committee and its lead organization, the U.S. Palestinian Community Network. "We have always said, from day one, that this is a political case, and that the government is prosecuting Rasmea as part of a broader attack, the criminalization of the Palestine liberation movement. This new indictment is literally the same charge, with the same evidence - immigration forms. Only now, they want to paint Rasmea, and all Palestinians, as terrorists. The real criminals in this case are the Israelis who brutally tortured Rasmea 45 years ago, as well as those in the U.S. government who are trying to put her on trial for surviving the brutality committed against her."

Prosecutors will be disappointed to find that these new allegations fail to erode Rasmea's support. People have mobilized by the hundreds for countless hearings, every day of her 2014 trial, and her appeal earlier this year. "We have people ready to come from across the Midwest to stand with Rasmea in Detroit on January 10, but we are also prepared to adjust those plans to be there whenever we are needed," says Jess Sundin of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, who lives in Minneapolis and has mobilized dozens of Minnesotans and others in support of the defense. "We will redouble our organizing and fundraising work, and make certain Rasmea has the best defense possible."

According to lead defense attorney Michael Deutsch, "We also intend to challenge this indictment as vindictive and politically-motivated."

Visit www.justice4rasmea.org for more information.

### End ###

Copyright © 2016 Committee to Stop FBI Repression, All rights reserved.

Thanks for your ongoing interest in the fight against FBI repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists!

Our mailing address is:

Committee to Stop FBI Repression

PO Box 14183

MinneapolisMN  55414

Add us to your address book





100,000 protest in San Francisco, CA

Pictures From Women's
Marches on Every Continent



Dear Friend,

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) is now in Contempt of Court

On January 3, 2017, Federal District Court Judge Robert Mariani ordered the DOC to treat Mumia with the hepatitis C cure within 21 days.

But on January 7, prison officials formally denied Mumia's grievances asking for the cure. This is after being informed twice by the court that denying treatment is unconstitutional.

John Wetzel, Secretary of the PA DOC, is refusing to implement the January 3rd Federal Court Order requiring the DOC to treat Mumia within 21 days. Their time has run out to provide Mumia with hepatitis C cure!

Mumia is just one of over 6,000 incarcerated people in the PA DOC at risk with active and chronic Hepatitis C. Left untreated, 7-9% of people infected with chronic hep C get liver cancer every year.  

We need your help to force the DOC to stop its cruel and unusual punishment of over 6,000 people in prison with chronic hepatitis C. Click here for a listing of numbers to call today!

Water Crisis in the Prison

Drinking water remains severely contaminated at the prison in which Mumia and 2,500 others are held, SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, PA. Mumia filed a grievance regarding the undrinkable water: read it here.

We are asking you to call the prison now to demand clean drinking water and hepatitis C treatment now! 

Protest Drinking Water Contamination Rally
From 4-6pm on Thursday, Feb 9
Where: Governor's Office- 200 South Broad St, Philadelphia

We're sending our mailing to you, including this brilliant poster by incarcerated artist Kevin Rashid Johnson. Keep an eye out it next week!

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight, we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director

About the recently appealed Court victory:

On January 3rd, a federal court granted Mumia Abu-Jamal's petition for immediate and effective treatment for his Hepatitis-C infection, which has hitherto been denied him. The judge struck down Pennsylvania's protocols as "deliberate indifference to serious medical need."

This is a rare and important win for innocent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal in a court system that has routinely subjected him to the "Mumia exception," i.e., a refusal of justice despite court precedents in his favor. Thousands of Hep-C-infected prisoners throughout Pennsylvania and the US stand to benefit from this decision, provided it is upheld. 

But, it is up to us to make sure that this decision is not over-turned on appeal--something the State of Pennsylvania will most likely seek.

Hundreds demonstrated in both Philadelphia and Oakland on December 9th to demand both this Hep-C treatment for prisoners, and "Free Mumia Now!" In Oakland, the December 9th Free Mumia Coalition rallied in downtown and then marched on the OPD headquarters. The Coalition brought over two dozen groups together to reignite the movement to free Mumia; and now we need your support to expand and build for more actions in this new, and likely very dangerous year for political prisoners. 



Protect Kevin "Rashid" Johnson from Prison Repression!


WHEN: Anytime
WHAT: Protect imprisoned activist-journalist Kevin "Rashid" Johnson
FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1794902884117144/

On December 21, 2016, Kevin "Rashid" Johnson was the victim of an
assault by guards at the Clements Unit where he is currently being held,
just outside Amarillo, Texas. Rashid was sprayed with OC pepper gas
while handcuffed in his cell, and then left in the contaminated cell for
hours with no possibility to shower and no access to fresh air. It was
in fact days before he was supplied with new sheets or clothes (his bed
was covered with the toxic OC residue), and to this day his cell has not
been properly decontaminated.

This assault came on the heels of another serious move against Rashid,
as guards followed up on threats to confiscate all of his property – not
only files required for legal matters, but also art supplies, cups to
drink water out of, and food he had recently purchased from the
commissary. The guards in question were working under the direction of
Captain Patricia Flowers, who had previously told Rashid that she
intended to seize all of his personal belongings as retaliation for his
writings about mistreatment of prisoners, up to and including assaults
and purposeful medical negligence that have led to numerous deaths in
custody. Specifically, Rashid's writings have called attention to the
deaths of Christopher Woolverton, Joseph Comeaux, and Alton Rodgers, and
he has been contacted by lawyers litigating on behalf of the families of
at least two of these men.

As a journalist and activist literally embedded within the bowels of the
world's largest prison system, Rashid relies on his files and notes for
correspondence, legal matters, and his various news reports.
Furthermore, Rashid is a self-taught artist of considerable talent (his
work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and books);
needless to say, the guards were also instructed to seize his art
materials and the drawings he was working on.

(For a more complete description of Rashid's ordeal on and following
December 21, see his recent article "Bound and Gassed: My Reward for
Exposing Abuses and Killings of Texas Prisoners" at

Particularly worrisome, is the fact that the abuse currently directed
against Rashid is almost a carbon-copy of what was directed against
Joseph Comeaux in 2013, who was eventually even denied urgently needed
medical care. Comeaux died shortly thereafter.

This is the time to step up and take action to protect Rashid; and the
only protection we can provide, from the outside, is to make sure prison
authorities know that we are watching. Whether you have read his
articles about prison conditions, his political or philosophical
polemics (and whether you agreed with him or not!), or just appreciate
his artwork – even if this is the first you are hearing about Rashid –
we need you to step up and make a few phone calls and send some emails.
When doing so, let officials know you are contacting them about Kevin
Johnson, ID #1859887, and the incident in which he was gassed and his
property confiscated on December 21, 2016. The officials to contact are:

Warden Kevin Foley
Clements Unit
telephone: (806) 381-7080 (you will reach the general switchboard; ask
to speak to the warden's office)

Tell Warden Foley that you have heard of the gas attack on Rashid.
Specific demands you can make:

* That Kevin Johnson's property be returned to him

* That Kevin Johnson's cell be thoroughly decontaminated

* That Captain Patricia Flowers, Lieutenant Crystal Turner, Lieutenant
Arleen Waak, and Corrections Officer Andrew Leonard be sanctioned for
targeting Kevin Johnson for retaliation for his writings

* That measures be taken to ensure that whistleblowers amongst staff and
the prisoner population not be targeted for any reprisals from guards or
other authorities. (This is important because at least one guard and
several prisoners have signed statements asserting that Rashid was left
in his gassed cell for hours, and that his property should not have been

Try to be polite, while expressing how concerned you are for Kevin
Johnson's safety. You will almost certainly be told that because other
people have already called and there is an ongoing investigation – or
else, because you are not a member of his family -- that you cannot be
given any information. Say that you understand, but that you still wish
to have your concerns noted, and that you want the prison to know that
you will be keeping track of what happens to Mr Johnson.

The following other authorities should also be contacted. These bodies
may claim they are unable to directly intervene, however we know that by
creating a situation where they are receiving complaints, they will
eventually contact other authorities who can intervene to see what the
fuss is all about. So it's important to get on their cases too:

TDCJ Ombudsman: ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov

The Inspector General:  512-671-2480

Let these "watchdogs" know you are concerned that Kevin Johnson #1859887
was the victim of a gas attack in Clements Unit on December 21, 2016.
Numerous witnesses have signed statements confirming that he was
handcuffed, in his cell, and not threatening anyone at the time he was
gassed. Furthermore, he was not allowed to shower for hours, and his
cell was never properly decontaminated, so that he was still suffering
the effects of the gas days later. It is also essential to mention that
his property was improperly confiscated, and that he had previously been
threatened with having this happen as retaliation for his writing about
prison conditions. Kevin Johnson's property must be returned!

Finally, complaints should also be directed to the director of the VA
DOC Harold Clarke and the VA DOC's Interstate Compact Supervisor, Terry
Glenn. This is because Rashid is in fact a Virginia prisoner, who has
been exiled from Virginia under something called the Interstate Compact,
which is used by some states as a way to be rid of activist prisoners,
while at the same time separating them from their families and
supporters. Please contact:

VADOC Director, Harold Clarke

Interstate Compact director, Terry Glenn

Let them know that you are phoning about Kevin Johnson, a Virginia
prisoner who has been sent to Texas under the Interstate Compact. His
Texas ID # is 1859887 however his Virginia ID # is 1007485. Inform them
that Mr Johnson has been gassed by guards and has had his property
seized as retaliation for his writing about prison conditions. These are
serious legal and human rights violations, and even though they occurred
in Texas, the Virginia Department of Corrections is responsible as Mr
Johnson is a Virginia prisoner. Despite the fact that they may ask you
who you are, and how you know about this, and for your contact
information, they will likely simply conclude by saying that they will
not be getting back to you. Nonetheless, it is worth urging them to
contact Texas officials about this matter.

It is good to call whenever you are able. However, in order to maximize
our impact, for those who can, we are suggesting that people make their
phone calls on Thursday, January 5.

And at the same time, please take a moment to sign the online petition
to support Rashid, up at the Roots Action website:

Rashid has taken considerable risks in reporting on the abuse he
witnesses at the Clements Unit, just as he has at other prisons. Indeed,
he has continued to report on the violence and medical neglect to which
prisoners are subjected, despite threats from prison staff. If we, as a
movement, are serious about working to resist and eventually abolish the
U.S. prison system, we must do all we can to assist and protect those
like Rashid who take it upon themselves to stand up and speak out. As
Ojore Lutalo once put it, "Any movement that does not support their
political internees ... is a sham movement."


To learn more about Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, the abuses in the Texas
prison system, as well as his work in founding and leading the New
Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter, see his website



As Robert Boyle, Esq. said, "The struggle is far from over: the DOC will no doubt appeal this ruling. But a victory! Thanks Pam Africa and all the Mumia supporters and all of you."

"Everyone has to get on board to keep the pressure on. We have an opportunity here that we have never had before. We are going to do it as a unified community, everyone together." - Pam Africa  

Let me be honest. We fundraise like we breathe. We have to. We are going to win-- with your key help. We've got until midnight tomorrow to raise just $2,021! We're 97% there. Please pitch in today to help us reach $60K!

Tomorrow your phone will ring with a special message from Mumia. In it, he says, "This is indeed a serious time for me, and for us all. It is not easy to take on the state and prevail; however, it is right to do so. With your help, we may be able to prevail. This is Mumia Abu-Jamal, thanking you for supporting Prison Radio."

John, the clock's running out- but it's not too late to chip in and help us reach our goal! You can open the airwaves for prisoners to speak out in this urgent time of massive incarceration.

Will you pitch in with a gift of $103, $35 or even $250 to bring us to our goal by midnight and amplify the voices of prisoners?


Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director




To give by check: 

PO Box 411074

San Francisco, CA


Stock or legacy gifts:

Noelle Hanrahan

(415) 706 - 5222






Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:


















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

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.



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!




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

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        Daily Kos

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        Project Springboard

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        Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

        Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

        Dear Supporters and Friends,

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

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

        My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

                                  Lorenzo's wife,

                                   Tazza Salvatto

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

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

        Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                    DF 1036

                    SCI Mahanoy

                    301 Morea Rd.

                    Frackville, PA 17932

         Email: Through JPay using the code:

                      Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                      Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                      Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

        Have a wonderful day!

        - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

        Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                    DF 1036

                    SCI Mahanoy

                    301 Morea Rd.

                    Frackville, PA 17932

         Email: Through JPay using the code:

                      Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                      Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com












        1)  Labor Leaders' Cheap Deal With Trump

         FEB. 7, 2017


        For progressives, Donald J. Trump's presidency so far has been a little like standing in front of one of those tennis ball machines — and getting hit in the face over and over again. Yet looking back, the blow that still has me most off-kilter didn't come from the new president himself. It came two weeks ago, when several smiling union leaders strolled out of the White House and up to a bank of waiting cameras and declared their firm allegiance to President Trump.

        Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions, reported that Mr. Trump had taken the delegation on a tour of the Oval Office and displayed a level of respect that was "nothing short of incredible." Mr. McGarvey pledged to work hand in glove with the new administration on energy, trade and infrastructure, while one of the other union leaders described the Inaugural Address as "a great moment for working men and women." When Mr. Trump issued executive orders to smooth the way for construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, the same leaders rejoiced.

        A new administration can always count on many organizations to issue pro forma statements expressing a nonpartisan willingness to work with the new leader. Let's be clear: This was not that. This was a new alliance. As Terry O'Sullivan, head of Laborers' International Union of North America, put it on MSNBC: "The president's a builder. We're builders."

        But the edifice that Mr. Trump is building is rigged to collapse on the very people these unions are supposed to defend. His cuts to regulations will make them less safe on the job, and he may well wage war against the National Labor Relations Board, an agency that recently ruled that Mr. Trump violated the rights of the workers in his Las Vegas hotel to unionize and bargain collectively. His proposed cuts to corporate taxes will eviscerate the public services on which they depend, not to mention public sector union jobs. He supports "right to work" legislation that poses an existential threat to unions. His pick for labor secretary, the fast-food magnate Andrew Puzder, has a long record of failing to pay his workers properly, and he has praised the idea of replacing humans with machines.

        And Mr. Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, has ruled in favor of employers far more frequently than workers.

        Indeed, the more cleareyed unions are openly questioning whether their organizations will survive this administration. The Labor Network for Sustainability, in a report, warns this could be "an 'extinction-level event' for organized labor."

        All this is an awful lot of ground to lose in exchange for mostly temporary jobs repairing highways and building oil pipelines.

        And it's worth taking a closer look at the implications of those pipelines, along with the rest of Mr. Trump's climate-change denying agenda. A warming world is a catastrophe for the middle and working classes, even more than for the rich, who have the economic cushions to navigate most crises. It's working and precariously unemployed people who tend to live in homes that are most vulnerable to extreme weather (as we saw during Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy) and whose savings, if they have any, can be entirely wiped out by a disaster.

        It's natural to ask: In times of insecurity, why shouldn't unions worry more about jobs than about the environment? One reason is that responding to the urgency of the climate crisis has the potential to be the most powerful job creation machine since World War II. According to a Rockefeller Foundation-Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisers study, energy-efficient retrofits in United States buildings alone could create "more than 3.3 million cumulative job years of employment." There are millions more jobs to be created in renewable energy, public transit and light rail.

        Moreover, a great many of those jobs would be in the building trades — jobs for carpenters, ironworkers, welders, pipe fitters — whose union leaders have been so cozy with Mr. Trump. These unions could be fighting for sustainable jobs in a green transition as part of a broad-based movement. Instead, they are doing public relations for the mostly temporary jobs Mr. Trump is offering — those building oil pipelines, weapons, prisons and border walls, while expanding the highway system even as public transit faces drastic cuts.

        The good news is that the sectors that have made common cause with Mr. Trump represent less than a quarter of all unionized workers. And many other unions see the enormous potential in a green New Deal.

        "We must make the transition to a clean energy economy now in order to create millions of good jobs, rebuild the American middle class, and avert catastrophe," George Gresham, president of 1199 S.E.I.U., the largest health care union in the nation, said in a statement two days after Mr. Trump's pipeline executive orders.

        Other unionized workers, like New York's Taxi Workers Alliance, showed their opposition to Mr. Trump's travel ban by refusing fares to and from Kennedy Airport during the protests.

        For a long time, these different approaches were papered over under the banner of solidarity. But now some union heads are creating a rift by showing so little solidarity with their fellow union members, particularly immigrants and public sector workers who find themselves under assault by Mr. Trump.

        Today labor leaders face a clear choice. They can join the diverse and growing movement that is confronting Mr. Trump's agenda on every front and attempt to lead America's workers to a clean and safe future.

        Or they can be the fist-pumping construction crew for a Trump dystopia — muscle for a menace.



        2)   Leaks Suggest Trump's Own Team Is Alarmed By His Conduct

        White House leaks are common, but leakers suggesting the president might be unfit for office are not.



        WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump was confused about the dollar: Was it a strong one that's good for the economy? Or a weak one?

        So he made a call ― except not to any of the business leaders Trump brought into his administration or even to an old friend from his days in real estate. Instead, he called his national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, according to two sources familiar with Flynn's accounts of the incident.

        Flynn has a long record in counterintelligence but not in macroeconomics. And he told Trump he didn't know, that it wasn't his area of expertise, that, perhaps, Trump should ask an economist instead.

        Trump was not thrilled with that response ― but that may have been a function of the time of day. Trump had placed the call at 3 a.m., according to one of Flynn's retellings ― although neither the White House nor Flynn's office responded to requests for confirmation about that detail.

        For Americans who based their impression of Trump on the competent and decisive tycoon he portrayed on his "Apprentice" TV reality shows, the portrait from these and many other tidbits emerging from his administration may seem a shock: an impulsive, sometimes petty chief executive more concerned with the adulation of the nation than the details of his own policies ― and quick to assign blame when things do not go his way.

        Unsurprisingly, Trump's volatile behavior has created an environment ripe for leaks from his executive agencies and even within his White House. And while leaks typically involve staffers sabotaging each other to improve their own standing or trying to scuttle policy ideas they find genuinely problematic, Trump's 2-week-old administration has a third category: leaks from White House and agency officials alarmed by the president's conduct.

        "I've been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this," said Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official under President George W. Bush and a member of his National Security Council. "I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy president."

        There is the matter of Trump's briefing materials, for example. The commander in chief doesn't like to read long memos, a White House aide who asked to remain unnamed told The Huffington Post. So preferably they must be no more than a single page. They must have bullet points but not more than nine per page.

        Small things can provide him great joy or generate intense irritation. Trump told The New York Times that he's fascinated with the phone system inside the White House. At the same time, he's registered a complaint about the hand towels aboard Air Force One, the White House aide said, because they are not soft enough.

        He's been particularly obsessed with the performance of his aides on cable television. Past presidents typically didn't make time to watch their press secretary's daily briefings with reporters, but Trump appears to have made it part of his routine. "Saturday Night Live's" weekly skewering of his administration is similarly on his must-watch list ― with his reaction ranging from unamused to seething.

        Information about Trump's personal interactions and the inner workings of his administration has come to HuffPost from individuals in executive agencies and in the White House itself. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs.

        While some of the leaks are based on opposition to his policies – the travel ban on all refugees and on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations, for instance – many appear motivated by a belief that Trump's words, deeds and tweets pose a genuine threat.

        When Trump tweeted about North Korea's missile technology three weeks before he took office, for example, it scrambled then-President Barack Obama's national security apparatus, which saw a risk in provoking an unstable young dictator who possessed nuclear weapons.

        Richard Nephew, a State Department expert on Iran sanctions under Obama, said some of the leaks from the agencies are likely efforts to let the public know that their advice has not been followed, in the event something bad happens down the road. "This, I think, is about making it clear that these folks have tried to do the right thing and there is only so much they can do with a hostile administration," Nephew said.

        Perhaps along those lines, The Associated Press reported the details of a phone call Jan. 27 between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, noting that Trump said Mexico had "bad hombres" and that he might need to send U.S. troops to take care of things. (The White House later said Trump had been joking around.) The Washington Post detailed a Jan. 28 conversation between Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in which Trump angrily denounced an agreement to resettle refugees held by Australia in the United States. 

        The New York Times, meanwhile, painted a portrait of a brooding commander in chief, wandering the White House alone in a bathrobe at night, watching too much cable television and venting his frustrations through angry tweets. 

        "I think it's a cry for help," said Elizabeth Rosenberg, a counterterrorism expert at the Treasury Department under Obama. She said many staffers still working in the national security agencies under Trump see what's happening and are driven by a simple motive: "Incredulity, and the need to share it."

        The White House has denied many of these accounts, including the idea that Trump owns (let alone wears) a bathrobe. Others dispute the premise that Trump staffers undermining his competence is unusual. Ron Kaufman, who worked in George H.W. Bush's White House in the late 1980s and early 1990s, argued that the Trump administration's leaks are par for the course for a young administration. "There's always leaks," Kaufman said. "Every president in history has said the press hates me and there's too many leaks."

        And Republican National Committee member Randy Evans, a veteran of Newt Gingrich's leak-prone House speaker's suite in the 1990s, said he doesn't "get that sense" that Trump's staffers are questioning his fitness for the job. 

        "Not yet, anyway," Evans said. "We're just too early in the process…. I think you see a lot of political jockeying going on and a lot of self-importance going on."

        The idea that Trump is temperamentally ill-suited for the presidency is nothing new. It was the main argument against him during both the GOP primaries a year ago and the general election last summer and fall. At times, Trump seemed to embrace the characterization, wearing it as a badge of honor for his status as an anti-establishment "outsider."

        But what were only hypothetical concerns on the campaign trail are now life-and-death decisions inside the White House – as evidenced by the death of a Navy commando in a botched raid in Yemen on Jan. 29. Trump approved that raid following a dinner meeting that included his top political adviser, former Breitbart News Chairman Stephen Bannon, whose permanent membership in the National Security Council was itself the basis of widespread leaks and warnings from the national security establishment.

        "The intelligence community is desperately looking for a way to get some leverage in altering dangerous policies away from a catastrophic vector," said Rick Wilson, a former Pentagon official familiar with intelligence issues who has become a vocal Trump critic.

        Evans said at some point the White House will have to get serious about harmful leaks if they want to control their message, just as Gingrich's office had to two decades ago. He described the method of intentionally releasing tidbits to various staffers to see what turned up in print. "If the administration gets serious about leaks, they'll do the blue-dye test and find them," Evans said.

        But to Cohen, who now teaches at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, the problem is not the leakers. It's the president. Because Trump has shown no true affection or respect for anyone outside his immediate family, Cohen said, he cannot expect that of his staff. "This is what happens when you have a narcissist as president."



        3)  New Jersey Alters Its Bail System and Upends Legal Landscape

         FEB. 6, 2017




        PATERSON, N.J. — Jamie Contrano squirmed at the defendant's table inside the Passaic County Court House here. She had been charged with possessing four envelopes of heroin, and, having failed to show up for more than a dozen court appearances over the years, she was a perfect candidate for a high bail — and a lengthy jail stay.

        But under an overhaul of New Jersey's bail system, which went into effect Jan. 1, judges are now considering defendants' flight risk and threat to public safety in deciding whether to detain them while they await trial. Otherwise, they are to be released, usually with certain conditions.

        Judge Ernest M. Caposela, who oversees Passaic County, noted that Ms. Contrano, 39, had a job at a carwash and was seeing a doctor specializing in addiction. He decided to let her out. "Will she fall off the wagon?" Judge Caposela said in an interview after the hearing. "She might. But sitting in jail is only going to hurt her. She has a disease, so is that a person I want to keep in jail for five to six weeks?"

        The hearing illustrated the sharply altered legal landscape after voters in 2014 supported amending New Jersey's Constitution to nearly eliminate cash bail, a move that has placed the state in the forefront of a national movement aimed at changing a bail system that critics say discriminates against poor defendants, many of whom are blacks and Latinos. Defendants languishing in jail, unable to come up with modest bails for low-level offenses, often have their lives upended, losing jobs or having children taken away from them.

        New Jersey's changes, which were backed by Gov. Chris Christie, closely mirror those adopted by the federal judicial system and the District of Columbia, which have long shunned monetary bail in criminal proceedings. While a handful of other states like Kentucky and Colorado have pursued bail changes, New Jersey stands apart as having the most far-reaching overhaul.

        Bail is still an option, but the reality is that judges have nearly done away with it. In the 3,382 cases statewide that were processed in the first four weeks of January, judges set bail only three times. An additional 283 defendants were held without bail because they were accused of a serious crime or were a significant flight risk, or both.

        "A year ago, a defendant who appeared in court would have been forced to post bail in a majority of cases," said the state's chief justice, Stuart Rabner. "And one in eight inmates were being held because they couldn't post bail of up to $2,500." That is the typical amount for a minor offense, and bail bond agents would usually seek 10 percent, or $250 in cash. Some defendants cannot afford even that.

        The new approach, perhaps not surprisingly, has provoked protest from the bail bond industry, which says the system is allowing dangerous criminals out on the streets. "The system is just overloaded," said Richard Blender, a lawyer in New Jersey who represents several bail bond agents. "They can't process these defendants fast enough. They are just pushing people out the door. You're talking about child pornography, carjacking and aggravated sexual assault."

        But experts argue that a system relying on bail does not guarantee public safety. "There is nothing that says you can't be a serial killer and a millionaire," said Joseph E. Krakora, the state's public defender.

        E. Rely Vilcica, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Temple University, pointed out that drug dealers often had the means to post high bails and continued plying their trade. "Basically people who have money can buy their freedom," Professor Vilcica said. "So cash bail doesn't address the danger."

        Though not having to hold defendants in jails reduces spending, judicial officials said that cost savings did not motivate the changes to the system. (In some jurisdictions, like a county in North Carolina, jails have closed as pretrial detentions plummet.) Instead, they said, the overhaul was driven by a desire to address one of the ways in which the nation's criminal justice system tends to fall hardest on poor and minority defendants.

        A study by the Drug Policy Alliance in New Jersey, released in 2013, found that 39 percent of inmates were eligible to be released on bail, but that many could not meet amounts as low as $2,500.

        "Large numbers of people were in our jails for weeks or months for low-level offenses," said Roseanne Scotti, the New Jersey state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group. "They are innocent until proven guilty, but their whole lives are derailed. While they are in there, they lose homes and jobs and contact with their families. But if you have money, you can walk."

        The new system assigns defendants scores of one to six, with one being the least risky. They receive a risk assessment within 48 hours of their arrests, though some judges, like Mr. Caposela, are striving to complete assessments within 24 hours.

        Ms. Contrano, who was charged with heroin possession, had the worst score, both because of her 17 failures to appear in previous court cases and because of an outstanding assault charge. "I made a bad judgment call," she said to the judge, referring to her recent arrest. "I'm sorry."

        Judge Caposela said the computer-generated scores did not tell the whole story and were a guide, not a directive. He ordered her to stay out of Paterson, which he said had the "purest and cheapest" heroin on the East Coast; to check in with the court officials; and to report for drug testing. "If I just let the computer make this call, she's out of luck," he said after Ms. Contrano's detention hearing. "There's a lot of careful consideration and contemplation."

        But the hundreds of bail bond agents in New Jersey see the new system differently. As their industry faces collapse, they are rallying the public to bring back cash bail, posting examples of what they call the release of dangerous defendants to a Facebook page, "NJ Bail Reform — Why New Jersey is Less Safe at the Taxpayers Expense."

        They have highlighted cases like burglaries and sexual assaults. In one, a 20-year-old sex offender in Ocean County, Christopher Wilson, was charged with attempted sexual assault after he offered a gaming console to a 12-year-old girl in exchange for sex. He was placed under house arrest with an electronic monitoring bracelet pending trial. The local police chief, Richard J. Buzby Jr., then issued an emotional warning to parents, saying he "could not sleep tonight" if he remained silent.

        Kirk Shaw, whose grandfather started Shaw Bail Bonds Agency in Hackensack in 1969, said the system had driven a stake through a four-generation business that now included his son. "We're basically out of business," he said. "We're expected to monitor the defendants we do have out on bail, but we have no money coming in. This is all I've done since I was 18."

        Judicial officials reject the idea that dangerous criminals are flooding communities. "There is no system that eliminates all risk," Chief Justice Rabner said. "Last year, there was a risk that anyone released on bail could go out and commit a serious crime pending trial. What we are attempting to do is evaluate the level of risk with objective measures."

        Still, he acknowledged: "There will be a crisis one day, where a single defendant will violate conditions and does something that grabs the public's attention. But that's no different than before."

        Daniel Palazzo, a public defender in Passaic County and the lawyer for Ms. Contrano, points to recent cases as examples of how he believes the new system is more effective. A client charged with murder was detained pending trial. Under the old system, Mr. Palazzo said, the defendant, 20, who is accused in a fatal shooting in Paterson in September, could have theoretically posted a $500,000 to $1 million bail to win his release, because judges were obligated to set bail no matter the crime.

        But another client charged with attempted murder was released under certain conditions. Before Jan. 1, the defendant, who is accused of a stabbing, would have faced bail of about $200,000 and most likely would have spent a year and a half in jail awaiting trial. "But there was a viable self-defense argument to be made," Mr. Palazzo said, "because the victim had been the aggressor in the past."

        Some elected officials complain that a bail overhaul amounts to an unfunded mandate for counties, which have had to spend tens of millions of dollars on new sheriffs' officers and prosecutorial investigators to escort defendants to court and to weigh seeking a motion to detain them.

        But judicial reform advocates lauded New Jersey's willingness to pursue a wholesale revision, rather than take baby steps. "It certainly is ambitious to take on a whole state at once," said Cherise Fanno Burdeen, chief executive of the Pretrial Justice Institute, a nonprofit in Maryland. "We are incredibly proud of the seemingly successful arrival at a system that has moved away from money."



        4)  About 20 Rabbis Arrested During Protest Over Trump Travel Ban

         FEB. 6, 2017




        Rabbis affiliated with T'ruah, a liberal Jewish group, were arrested during a demonstration in front of Trump International Hotel and Tower on Monday. CreditAlex Wroblewski for The New York Times 

        About 20 rabbis affiliated with a liberal Jewish group were arrested on Monday night after blocking the street near the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle in Manhattan to protest an executive order that banned travel to the United States from seven majority-Muslim nations.

        Although the hotel has been a site of numerous protests since President Trump's election, few, if any, have involved the arrest of a group of clerics.

        A crowd of about 200 people assembled at 88th Street and Broadway about 7 p.m. and then marched toward the hotel, brandishing signs with messages like "welcome refugees" while hitting drums and tambourines.

        Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the executive director of T'ruah, a rabbinical group that organized the protest, said it was meant to show that many Jews opposed the ban.

        "We remember our history, and we remember that the borders of this country closed to us in 1924 with very catastrophic consequences during the Holocaust," Rabbi Jacobs said. "We know that some of the language that's being used now to stop Muslims from coming in is the same language that was used to stop Jewish refugees from coming."

        When the protesters reached the hotel, about 8 p.m., several members of the group announced that they would take symbolic actions to be arrested. A few moments later, a group of men and women walked onto Central Park West and sat down across the avenue, blocking cars and trucks. A police announcement sounded through a loudspeaker: "If you remain in the roadway and refuse to utilize the sidewalk, you will be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct."

        Soon afterward, police officers approached and led the seated protesters away. As they departed in handcuffs, the rest of the marchers clapped and shouted in approval.



        5)  Yemen Withdraws Permission for U.S. Antiterror Ground Missions

         FEB. 7, 2017


        WASHINGTON — Angry at the civilian casualties incurred last month in the first commando raid authorized by President TrumpYemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country, according to American officials.

        Grisly photographs of children apparently killed in the crossfire of a 50-minute firefight during the raid caused outrage in Yemen. A member of the Navy's SEAL Team 6, Chief Petty Officer William Owens, was also killed in the operation.

        While the White House continues to insist that the attack was a "success" — a characterization it repeated on Tuesday — the suspension of commando operations is a setback for Mr. Trump, who has made it clear he plans to take a far more aggressive approach against Islamic militants.

        It also calls into question whether the Pentagon will receive permission from the president for far more autonomy in selecting and executing its counterterrorism missions in Yemen, which it sought, unsuccessfully, from President Barack Obama in the last months of his term.

        Mr. Obama deferred the decision to Mr. Trump, who appeared inclined to grant it: His approval of the Jan. 29 raid came over a dinner four nights earlier with his top national security aides, rather than in the kind of rigorous review in the Situation Room that became fairly routine under President George W. Bush and Mr. Obama.

        The raid, in which just about everything went wrong, was an early test of Mr. Trump's national security decision-making — and his willingness to rely on the assurances of his military advisers. His aides say that even though the decision was made over a dinner, it had been fully vetted, and had the requisite legal approvals.

        Mr. Trump will soon have to make a decision about the more general request by the Pentagon to allow more of such operations in Yemen without detailed, and often time-consuming, White House review. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump will allow that, or how the series of mishaps that marked his first approval of such an operation may have altered his thinking about the human and political risks of similar operations.

        The Pentagon has said that the main objective of the raid was to recover laptop computers, cellphones and other information that could help fill gaps in its understanding of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, whose leaders have tried to carry out at least three attacks on the United States. But it is unclear whether the information the commandos recovered will prove valuable.

        The White House continued its defense of the raid on Tuesday, making no reference to the Yemeni reaction.

        Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, denied reports that the purpose of the attack was to capture or kill any specific Qaeda leader. "The raid that was conducted in Yemen was an intelligence-gathering raid," he said. "That's what it was. It was highly successful. It achieved the purpose it was going to get, save the loss of life that we suffered and the injuries that occurred."

        Neither the White House nor the Yemenis have publicly announced the suspension. Pentagon spokesmen declined to comment, but other military and civilian officials confirmed that Yemen's reaction had been strong.

        It was unclear if Yemen's decision to halt the ground attacks was also influenced by Mr. Trump's inclusion of the country on his list of nations from which he wants to temporarily suspend all immigration, an executive order that is now being challenged in the federal courts.

        According to American civilian and military officials, the Yemeni ban on operations does not extend to military drone attacks, and does not affect the handful of American military advisers who are providing intelligence support to the Yemenis and forces from the United Arab Emirates.

        In 2014, Yemen's government temporarily halted those drones from flying because of botched operations that also killed civilians. But later they quietly resumed, and in recent years they have been increasing in frequency, a sign of the fact that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is considered one of the world's most dangerous terrorist groups.

        The raid stirred immediate outrage among Yemeni government officials, some of whom accused the Trump administration of not fully consulting with them before the mission. Within 24 hours of the assault on a cluster of houses in a tiny village in mountainous central Yemen, the country's foreign minister, Abdul Malik Al Mekhlafi, condemned the raid in a post on his official Twitter account as "extrajudicial killings."

        In an interview with Al Jazeera this week, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, Yemen's ambassador to the United States, said that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi raised concerns about the raid in a meeting with the American ambassador to Yemen in Riyadh on Feb. 2.

        "Yemen's government is a key partner in the war against terrorism," Mr. Mubarak said in the interview, adding that Yemen's cooperation should not come "at the expense of the Yemeni citizens and the country's sovereignty."

        The Pentagon has acknowledged that the raid killed several civilians, including children, and is investigating. The dead include, by the account of relatives, the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Qaeda leader who was killed in a targeted drone strike in 2011.

        In a sign of the contentiousness that public disclosures of the raid have caused, Pentagon officials on Tuesday provided lawmakers on Capitol Hill with a classified briefing on the mission. One participant in that meeting said military officials told them "they got what they wanted," without offering details. But Senator John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said afterward that the raid was a failure.

        American counterterrorism officials have expressed growing fears about their lack of understanding of Qaeda operations in Yemen since the United States was forced to withdraw the last 125 Special Operations advisers from the country in March 2015 after Houthi rebels ousted the government of President Hadi, the Americans' main counterterrorism partner.

        The Pentagon has tried to start rebuilding its counterterrorism operations in Yemen since then. Last May, American Special Operations forces helped Yemeni and Emirati troops evict Qaeda fighters from the port city of Al Mukalla.

        Al Qaeda had used Al Mukalla as a base as the militants stormed through southern Yemen, capitalizing on the power vacuum caused by the country's 14-month civil war and seizing territory, weapons and money.

        The deadly raid last month, launched from an amphibious assault ship off the Yemeni coast, was the first known American-led ground mission in Yemen since December 2014, when members of SEAL Team 6 stormed a village in southern Yemen in an effort to free an American photojournalist held hostage by Al Qaeda. But the raid ended with the kidnappers killing the journalist and a South African held with him.

        The United States conducted 38 drone strikes in Yemen last year, up from 23 in 2014, and has already carried out five strikes so far this year, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Long War Journal.

        In response to the raid, Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen urged followers last weekend to attack the United States and its allies in the country.

        Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of the Qaeda offshoot, likened his fighters to extremists battling American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a speech translated by SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist activities and messaging.

        Specialists in Yemeni culture and politics have cautioned that Al Qaeda would seize on the raid to whip up anti-American feelings and attract more followers.

        "The use of U.S. soldiers, high civilian casualties and disregard for local tribal and political dynamics," the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report released last Thursday, "plays into AQAP's narrative of defending Muslims against the West and could increase anti-U.S. sentiment and with it AQAP's pool of recruits."



        6)  White House Weighs Terrorist Designation for Muslim Brotherhood

         FEB. 7, 2017


        WASHINGTON — President Trump's advisers are debating an order intended to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization, targeting the oldest and perhaps most influential Islamist group in the Middle East.

        A political and social organization with millions of followers, the Brotherhood officially renounced violence decades ago and won elections in Egypt after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Affiliated groups have joined the political systems in places like Tunisia and Turkey, and President Barack Obama long resisted pressure to declare it a terrorist organization.

        But the Brotherhood calls for a society governed by Islamic law, and some of its former members and offshoots — most notably Hamas, the Palestinian group whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel — have been tied to attacks. Some advisers to Mr. Trump have viewed the Brotherhood for years as a radical faction secretly infiltrating the United States to promote Shariah law. They see the order as an opportunity to finally take action against it.

        Officially designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization would roil American relations in the Middle East. The leaders of some American allies — like Egypt, where the military forced the Brotherhood from power in 2013, and the United Arab Emirates — have pressed Mr. Trump to do so to quash internal enemies, but the group remains a pillar of society in parts of the region.

        The proposal to declare it a terrorist organization has been paired with a plan to similarly designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, according to current and former officials briefed on the deliberations. Leaders of the corps and its Quds Force unit have already been put on a government terrorist list, but Republicans have advocated adding the corps itself to send a message to Iran.

        The Iran part of the plan has strong support within the White House, but momentum behind the Muslim Brotherhood proposal seems to have slowed in recent days amid objections from career officials at the State Department and the National Security Council, who argue that there is no legal basis for it and that it could alienate allies in the region. Former officials said that they had been told the order would be signed on Monday, but that it had now been put off at least until next week.

        The delay may reflect a broader desire by the White House to take more time with executive actions after the chaos associated with hastily issued orders, like the temporary ban on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries. But it also underscored the complex dynamics involving the Muslim Brotherhood, whose chapters have only loose relationships across national lines.

        Critics said they feared that Mr. Trump's team wanted to create a legal justification to crack down on Muslim charities, mosques and other groups in the United States. A terrorist designation would freeze assets, block visas and ban financial interactions.

        "This would signal they are more interested in provoking conflict with an imaginary fifth column of Muslims in the U.S. than in preserving our relationships with counterterrorism partners like Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco, or with fighting actual terrorism," said Tom Malinowski, an assistant secretary of state under Mr. Obama.

        The Brotherhood has long been a source of alarm on the right, especially at Breitbart News, whose chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, is now Mr. Trump's chief White House strategist. A 2007 summary for a film Mr. Bannon proposed making on radical Islam in America, obtained by The Washington Post, called the Brotherhood "the foundation of modern terrorism."

        Sebastian Gorka and Katharine Gorka, two Breitbart contributors who have long warned of Muslim extremists in the United States, also joined the new administration. Mr. Gorka is a deputy national security assistant, while Ms. Gorka is working at the Department of Homeland Security.

        Frank Gaffney Jr., founder of the Center for Security Policy, who once asserted that Mr. Obama might secretly be a Muslim, urged Mr. Trump on Breitbart's radio show last week to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. He has argued that the Brotherhood's philosophy mirrors that of groups that are already on the list.

        "The goals of the Muslim Brotherhood," Mr. Gaffney said in a recent interview with The New York Times, are "exactly the same as the Islamic State, exactly the same as the Taliban, exactly the same as, you know, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Nusra Front, on and on, Al Shabab. It's about Islamic supremacism. It's about achieving the end state that is their due."

        Some congressional Republicans reintroduced legislation last month calling on the State Department to designate the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization or explain why it would not. "It's time to call the enemy by its name," Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who sponsored the measure with Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, wrote on Twitter.

        Among those objecting is the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which describes itself as the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the United States. Mr. Gaffney and others have accused it of being a front for the Brotherhood, which the council denies. It said such an order by Mr. Trump would be a brazen attempt to repress Muslims.

        "We believe it is just a smoke screen for a witch hunt targeting the civil rights of American Muslims," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the council. He said that, given what he called false attempts to link Muslim Americans to the Brotherhood, a terrorist designation would "inevitably be used in a political campaign to attack those same groups and individuals, to marginalize the American Muslim community and to demonize Islam."

        It is unclear what form a presidential order would take. Presumably, Mr. Trump could direct Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson to review whether the Brotherhood should be designated. At his confirmation hearing, Mr. Tillerson grouped the Brotherhood and Al Qaeda together as "agents of radical Islam."

        But officials may try to narrow the scope of such an order to avoid affecting Brotherhood affiliates outside Egypt, or they may shelve the order in favor of waiting for legislation from Congress.

        Founded in 1928 in Egypt, the Brotherhood used violence for decades in pursuit of its Islamist goals, but officially renounced it in the 1970s and embraced democracy as its means.

        In recent years, offshoots have joined the political system, including Ennahda, a party that belongs to the governing coalition in Tunisia and has eschewed extremism. Even in Turkey, a NATO ally, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party has long supported the Muslim Brotherhood.

        The Brotherhood's most successful period ended in 2013, when President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt, who had succeeded Mr. Mubarak, alienated other sectors of society and, after protests, was removed by the military. The general who took over, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has cracked down on the Brotherhood and lobbied the United States to designate it as a terrorist organization

        From 2013 through mid-2015, a former American official said, every interaction with Egyptian leaders included pressure on the issue. At one point, a senior Egyptian intelligence official personally brought a dossier to Secretary of State John Kerry, though it had no new information, according to the former American official. The State Department decided the Brotherhood did not meet the legal requirements for the designation because there was no evidence that its leaders had systematically ordered terrorist attacks.

        A similar review released by Britain in 2015 found that the Brotherhood "selectively used violence and sometimes terror in pursuit of their institutional goals," and that it emphasized engagement in English but jihad in Arabic. Its leaders have defended Hamas's attacks on Israel and justified attacks on American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the review said. But it did not recommend that it be designated as a terrorist organization, either.

        In his short time in office, Mr. Trump has already come under pressure from Arab allies eager for such a designation. He had phone conversations with Mr. Sisi; Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi; and King Salman of Saudi Arabia. But he also spoke with Mr. Erdogan on Tuesday.

        A top Arab official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity according to diplomatic protocol, declined to discuss what was said on the calls, but added, "It's safe to assume since U.A.E., Saudi and Egypt have all designated the M.B. as a terrorist organization, that decision would be welcome by those countries and several others in the region."


        7)  Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban, Dealing Trump Another Legal Loss

         FEB. 9, 2017


        WASHINGTON — A federal appeals panel on Thursday unanimously rejected President Trump's bid to reinstate his ban on travel into the United States from seven largely Muslim nations, a sweeping rebuke of the administration's claim that the courts have no role as a check on the president.

        The three-judge panel, suggesting that the ban did not advance national security, said the administration had shown "no evidence" that anyone from the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — had committed terrorist acts in the United States.

        The ruling also rejected Mr. Trump's claim that courts are powerless to review a president's national security assessments. Judges have a crucial role to play in a constitutional democracy, the court said.

        "It is beyond question," the decision said, "that the federal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges to executive action."

        The decision was handed down by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. It upheld a ruling last Friday by a federal district judge, James L. Robart, who blocked key parts of the travel ban, allowing thousands of foreigners to enter the country.

        The appeals court acknowledged that Mr. Trump was owed deference on his immigration and national security policies. But it said he was claiming something more — that "national security concerns are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections."

        Within minutes of the ruling, Mr. Trump angrily vowed to fight it, presumably in an appeal to the Supreme Court.

        "SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!" Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

        At the White House, the president told reporters that the ruling was "a political decision" and predicted that his administration would win an appeal "in my opinion, very easily." He said he had not yet conferred with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, on the matter.

        The Supreme Court remains short-handed and could deadlock. A 4-to-4 tie there would leave the appeals court's ruling in place. The administration has moved fast in the case so far, and it is likely to file an emergency application to the Supreme Court in a day or two. The court typically asks for a prompt response from the other side, and it could rule soon after it received one. A decision next week, either to reinstate the ban or to continue to block it, is possible.

        The travel ban, one of the first executive orders Mr. Trump issued after taking office, suspended worldwide refugee entry into the United States. It also barred visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations for up to 90 days to give federal security agencies time to impose stricter vetting processes.

        Immediately after it was issued, the ban spurred chaos at airports and protests nationwide as foreign travelers found themselves stranded at immigration checkpoints by a policy that critics derided as un-American. The State Department said up to 60,000 foreigners' visas were canceled in the days immediately after the ban was imposed.

        The World Relief Corporation, one of the agencies that resettles refugees in the United States, called the ruling "fabulous news" for 275 newcomers who are scheduled to arrive in the next week, many of whom will be reunited with family.

        "We have families that have been separated for years by terror, war and persecution," said Scott Arbeiter, the president of the organization, which will arrange for housing and jobs for the refugees in cities including Seattle; Spokane, Wash.; and Sacramento.

        "Some family members had already been vetted and cleared and were standing with tickets, and were then told they couldn't travel," Mr. Arbeiter said. "So the hope of reunification was crushed, and now they will be admitted."

        Several Democrats said they hoped the appeals court ruling would cow Mr. Trump into rescinding the ban. Representative Karen Bass, Democrat of California, said in a statement that the ban "is rooted in bigotry and, most importantly, it's illegal."

        "We will not stop," Ms. Bass said.

        But some Republicans cast aspersions on the Ninth Circuit's decision and predicted that it would not withstand a challenge in the Supreme Court.

        "Courts ought not second-guess sensitive national security decisions of the president," Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, said in a statement.

        "This misguided ruling is from the Ninth Circuit, the most notoriously left-wing court in America, and the most-reversed court at the Supreme Court," he said. "I'm confident the administration's position will ultimately prevail."

        Trial judges nationwide have blocked aspects of Mr. Trump's executive order, but no other case has yet reached an appeals court. The case in front of Judge Robart, in Seattle, was filed by the states of Washington and Minnesota and is still at an early stage. The appeals court order issued Thursday ruled only on the narrow question of whether to stay a lower court's temporary restraining order blocking the travel ban.

        The appeals court said the government had not justified suspending travel from the seven countries. "The government has pointed to no evidence," the decision said, "that any alien from any of the countries named in the order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States."

        The three members of the panel were Judge Michelle T. Friedland, appointed by President Barack Obama; Judge William C. Canby Jr., appointed by President Jimmy Carter; and Judge Richard R. Clifton, appointed by President George W. Bush.

        They said the states were likely to succeed at the end of the day because Mr. Trump's order appeared to violate the due process rights of lawful permanent residents, people holding visas and refugees.

        The court said the administration's legal position in the case had been a moving target. It noted that Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, had issued "authoritative guidance" several days after the executive order came out, saying it did not apply to lawful permanent residents. But the court said that "we cannot rely" on that statement.

        "The White House counsel is not the president," the decision said, "and he is not known to be in the chain of command for any of the executive departments." It also mentioned "the government's shifting interpretations" of the executive order.

        In its briefs and in the arguments before the panel on Tuesday, the Justice Department's position evolved. As the case progressed, the administration offered a backup plea for at least a partial victory.

        At most, a Justice Department brief said, "previously admitted aliens who are temporarily abroad now or who wish to travel and return to the United States in the future" should be allowed to enter the country despite the ban.

        The appeals court ultimately rejected that request, however, saying that people in the United States without authorization have due process rights, as do citizens with relatives who wish to travel to the United States.

        The court discussed, but did not decide, whether the executive order violated the First Amendment's ban on government establishment of religion by disfavoring Muslims.

        It noted that the states challenging the executive order "have offered evidence of numerous statements by the president about his intent to implement a 'Muslim ban.'" And it said, rejecting another administration argument, that it was free to consider evidence about the motivation behind laws that draw seemingly neutral distinctions.

        But the court said it would defer a decision on the question of religious discrimination.

        "The political branches are far better equipped to make appropriate distinctions," the decision said. "For now, it is enough for us to conclude that the government has failed to establish that it will likely succeed on its due process argument in this appeal."

        The court also acknowledged "the massive attention this case has garnered at even the most preliminary stages."

        "On the one hand, the public has a powerful interest in national security and in the ability of an elected president to enact policies," the decision said. "And on the other, the public also has an interest in free flow of travel, in avoiding separation of families, and in freedom from discrimination."

        "These competing public interests," the court said, "do not justify a stay."

        The court ruling did not affect one part of the executive order: the cap of 50,000 refugees to be admitted in the 2017 fiscal year. That is down from the 110,000 ceiling put in place under President Barack Obama. The order also directed the secretary of state and the secretary of homeland security to prioritize refugee claims made by persecuted members of religious minorities.

        As of Thursday, that means the United States will be allowed to accept only about 16,000 more refugees this fiscal year. Since Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year, 33,929 refugees have been admitted, 5,179 of them Syrians.



        8)  California Farmers Backed Trump, but Now Fear Losing Field Workers

         FEB. 9, 2017


        MERCED, Calif. — Jeff Marchini and others in the Central Valley here bet their farms on the election of Donald J. Trump. His message of reducing regulations and taxes appealed to this Republican stronghold, one of Mr. Trump's strongest bases of support in the state.

        As for his promises about cracking down on illegal immigrants, many assumed Mr. Trump's pledges were mostly just talk. But two weeks into his administration, Mr. Trump has signed executive orders that have upended the country's immigration laws. Now farmers here are deeply alarmed about what the new policies could mean for their workers, most of whom are unauthorized, and the businesses that depend on them.

        "Everything's coming so quickly," Mr. Marchini said. "We're not loading people into buses or deporting them, that's not happening yet." As he looked out over a crew of workers bent over as they rifled through muddy leaves to find purple heads of radicchio, he said that as a businessman, Mr. Trump would know that farmers had invested millions of dollars into produce that is growing right now, and that not being able to pick and sell those crops would represent huge losses for the state economy. "I'm confident that he can grasp the magnitude and the anxiety of what's happening now."

        Mr. Trump's immigration policies could transform California's Central Valley, a stretch of lowlands that extends from Sacramento to Bakersfield. Approximately 70 percent of all farmworkers here are living in the United States illegally, according to researchers at University of California, Davis. The impact could reverberate throughout the valley's precarious economy, where agriculture is by far the largest industry. With 6.5 million people living in the valley, the fields in this state bring in $35 billion a year and provide more of the nation's food than any other state.

        The consequences of a smaller immigrant work force would ripple not just through the orchards and dairies, but also to locally owned businesses, restaurants, schools and even seemingly unrelated industries, like the insurance market.

        Many here feel vindicated by the election, and signs declaring "Vote to make America great again" still dot the highways. But in conversations with nearly a dozen farmers, most of whom voted for Mr. Trump, each acknowledged that they relied on workers who provided false documents. And if the administration were to weed out illegal workers, farmers say their businesses would be crippled. Even Republican lawmakers from the region have supported plans that would give farmworkers a path to citizenship.

        "If you only have legal labor, certain parts of this industry and this region will not exist," said Harold McClarty, a fourth-generation farmer in Kingsburg whose operation grows, packs and ships peaches, plums and grapes throughout the country. "If we sent all these people back, it would be a total disaster."

        Mr. McClarty is not just concerned about his business, but also about his work force, he said. Many of them have worked for him year-round for more than a decade, making at least $11 an hour. After immigration officials audited his employee records a few years ago, he was forced to let go of dozens of employees.

        "These people had been working for us for a long time, and we depended on them."

        Now he worries that a Trump administration could mandate a Homeland Security Department program called E-verify, which was aimed at stopping the use of fraudulent documents. In all but a few states, the program is voluntary and only a small fraction of businesses use it.

        Farmers here have faced a persistent labor shortage for years, in part because of increased policing at the border and the rising prices charged by smugglers who help people sneak across. The once-steady stream of people coming from rural towns in southern Mexico has nearly stopped entirely. The existing field workers are aging, and many of their children find higher-paying jobs outside agriculture.

        Many growers here and across the country are hopeful that the new administration will expand and simplify H-2A visas, which allow them to bring in temporary workers from other countries for agricultural jobs. California farmers have increasingly come to rely on the program in the last few years.

        But Mr. McClarty and others say that legalizing the existing work force should be the first priority. While they support the idea of deporting immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes, they oppose forcing people to leave the country for minor crimes, like driving without a license. Since the election, they have continued to call their congressional representatives and lobbied through trade associations, like the Western Growers Association, whose chief executive is part of Mr. Trump's agricultural advisory board.

        Farmers are also anxiously awaiting the administration's plans to alter longstanding trade agreements. Mr. Trump has said he will pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if he cannot negotiate better terms for the United States. Growers would benefit if Mr. Trump negotiated more favorable terms. But backing out of the agreement entirely could provoke retaliation from Mexico that would hurt California's agricultural industry, which earned $21 billion from trade last year.

        Yet, many of Mr. Trump's supporters say they are counting on him to follow through on his promises. Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said that limiting the use of foreign labor would push more Americans into jobs that had primarily been performed by immigrants.

        "It doesn't matter if it's programming computers or picking in fields," he said, "Any time you're admitting substitutes for American labor you depress wages and working conditions and deter Americans."

        The prospect has business owners in the valley on edge. Patricia Pantoj runs a travel agency in Madera, north of Fresno, where the city's approximately 60,000 residents are predominantly Latino and work in the fields. This year, she said, fewer people than ever before traveled back to their hometowns in Mexico.

        "They didn't want to risk it," she said. "Everyone is scared, even if they have papers."

        A few doors away from the travel agency, Maria Valero said all the customers at her gift shop were undocumented.

        "If they went away, I would be out of business tomorrow," she said.

        Jhovani Segura, an insurance agent in Firebaugh, near the southern end of the valley, said that as much as 80 percent of their new car insurance policies came from undocumented immigrants who, under a new state law, became eligible for driver's licenses in 2015.

        "If there were mass deportations, we would have to cancel half of our policies," he said.

        In Ceres, north of Merced, the public school district is the largest employer by a large number, and many of the jobs were created to support the children of immigrants. Administrators say any crackdown would result in huge job losses and would reduce funding, which is distributed by the state based on need, for all the children in the district.

        Most of the workers in Mr. McClarty's vineyards and orchards have well-established lives in the area.

        Javier Soto, 46, bought a home for his family of five in Reedley, a city of 25,000 that calls itself "the world's fruit basket." He has worked for Mr. McClarty's farm for the last six years and his supervisor knows he is here without papers.

        "It is more scary now that he is really the president and we see what he is doing," Mr. Soto said.

        They are hopeful Mr. Trump will not make good on most of his threats. "Quien más habla, menos hace," they tell each other — the more you talk, the less you do. There are too many of them, they reason, to throw them all out.

        "We're just waiting and praying, hoping that somebody can convince them that we are not hurting anyone by being here," said Isabel Rios, 49, who has been picking grapes for the last two decades. Like most women in the fields, she covers her face with a bandanna to protect against the blaring sun, dust and pesticides. Her two children, 9 and 18, are American-born citizens and she worries what will happen to them if she is sent back to Mexico. "Who will benefit if we are not here?"

        Mr. Marchini, the radicchio farmer, said he felt similarly after seeing generations of workers on his family farm send their children to college and join the middle class. Mr. Marchini's family has farmed in the valley for four generations and he grew up working side by side with Mexican immigrants.

        He said that no feasible increase in wages or change in conditions would be enough to draw native-born Americans back into the fields.

        It was the other conservatives, Mr. Marchini said, who were out of touch about how to deal with foreign workers. "If you find a way to get in here," he said, "there's a need for what you do."



        9) U.S. General Seeks 'a Few Thousand' More Troops in Afghanistan

         FEB. 9, 2017


        WASHINGTON — The commander of the American-led international military force in Afghanistan, warning that the United States and its NATO allies are facing a "stalemate," told Congress on Thursday that he needed a few thousand additional troops to more effectively train and advise Afghan soldiers.

        "We have a shortfall of a few thousand," Gen. John W. Nicholson said in a sober assessment of America's longest war to the Senate Armed Services Committee .

        The international force that is helping the Afghans currently has 13,300 troops, 8,400 of whom are American.

        Afghan forces have taken heavy casualties over the last year as they have sought to hold off the Taliban and prevent them from capturing provincial capitals.

        General Nicholson repeated previous assessments that the sanctuary Taliban fighters and militant groups enjoy in Pakistan remains a major obstacle. "It is very difficult to succeed on the battlefield when your enemy enjoys external support and safe haven," said the commander, who added that the United States needed to do a "a holistic review" of its policy toward Pakistan.

        The issue of safe havens in Pakistan also was discussed Thursday when the new defense secretary, Jim Mattis, spoke by telephone with Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan's chief of army staff. In the conversation, "Gen. Bajwa reiterated Pakistan's commitment to counter all militant groups operating in its territory," according to a Pentagon statement.

        In his Senate testimony, General Nicholson also complained that Russia was trying to "legitimize" the Taliban by creating the "false narrative" that the militant organization has been fighting the Islamic State and that Afghan forces have not. Russia's goal, he asserted, was "to undermine the United States and NATO" in Afghanistan, expressing a far more skeptical view of the Kremlin's intentions than President Trump.

        On the positive side, he said, the area in which Islamic State fighters operate in Afghanistan had been greatly reduced.

        General Nicholson's argument amounted to an implicit criticism of the approach taken by former President Barack Obama, who imposed a series of rigid troop ceilings and significantly reduced the number of American forces in Afghanistan — though not by as much as he had initially projected.

        But the broader question is what course President Trump might chart on Afghanistan. Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Armed Services Committee, said that for too long the United States strategy had been "not to lose," and urged that a plan be devised to break the stalemate.

        General Nicholson said the administration was working on one. Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump's national security adviser, served as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan. Mr. Mattis, Mr. Trump's defense secretary, oversaw the military effort there when he served as the head of Central Command.

        Mr. Trump has said little about Afghanistan, although on Thursday he held his second call since his election with Ashraf Ghani, the nation's president.

        "The two leaders spoke about the counterterrorism efforts, threat levels in Afghanistan, the capabilities of Afghan forces, as well as the risks of terrorism in the region and the countries that support terrorism," said Nader Nadery, Mr. Ghani's adviser on strategic affairs.

        Mr. Nadery said troop levels were not a focus of the call. But Afghan officials say Mr. Ghani and Mr. Trump spoke about the possibility of increasing troop levels if a military assessment showed the need for it during their first conversation, in early December.

        The war in Afghanistan is a topic the president has rarely discussed. "Hardly a word was mentioned by Trump about Afghanistan during the campaign, yet it remains one of the U.S.'s largest security expenditures," said Daniel Feldman, who served as the senior envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan during the Obama administration.

        Mr. Feldman said that a broad assessment was needed of the terrorist threat, the role of international partners and how to pursue reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But he said there was no indication that the new administration had begun such a review.

        Explaining the need for more troops, General Nicholson indicated that there were sufficient Special Operations forces to carry out counterterrorism missions. The shortfall, he said, was in those training and advising the Afghans.

        Currently, advisers are mainly working with Afghans at the command level of army corps. But more advisers, he said, would enable the American-led coalition to advise at lower levels in the chain of command, most likely at the level of Afghan brigades.

        The use of military advisers is generally more effective if it is not limited to advising foreign armies in their military headquarters, but extends to units in the field. The Obama administration's decision last summer to give American commanders more flexibility to provide air support for Afghan forces fighting the Taliban also increased the need for advisers below the level of Afghan army corps, General Nicholson said.

        He said that the thousands of additional advisers he was seeking could come from allied armies and did not all need to be American. But there appears to be little appetite among NATO nations to send more troops to Afghanistan.

        Assessing the Afghans' military performance, General Nicholson said Afghan forces had suffered high casualties because of poor leadership and the excessive use of checkpoints. But he underscored that he was encouraged by the leadership within the country's special forces and increasingly in its budding air force.



        10)  She Showed Up Yearly to Meet Immigration Agents. Now They've Deported Her.

        Leer en español 

         FEB. 8, 2017




        PHOENIX — For eight years, Guadalupe García de Rayos had checked in at the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office here, a requirement since she was caught using a fake Social Security number during a raid in 2008 at a water park where she worked.

        Every year since then, she has walked in and out of the meetings after a brief review of her case and some questions.

        But not this year.

        On Wednesday, immigration agents arrested Ms. Rayos, 35. Despite efforts by her family and others who tried to block, legally and physically, her removal from the United States, she was deported Thursday to Nogales, Mexico, the same city where she crossed into the United States 21 years ago.

        Immigration agents "said she's a threat, but my wife isn't a threat," her husband said in an interview.

        As one of the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, Ms. Rayos was always a candidate for deportation, but as a matter of practicality, the Obama administration had focused its finite resources on removing the most serious criminals. The government even won a deportation order against Ms. Rayos in 2013, but had not carried it out, instead merely requiring her to check in periodically.

        That all changed under President Trump, who ran on a pledge of being tougher on illegal immigration. Among the 18 executive orders that he has issued since taking office on Jan. 20 is one stipulating that undocumented immigrants convicted of any criminal offense — and even those who have not been charged but are believed to have committed "acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense" — have become a priority for deportation.

        Immigrants' rights advocates say the new order could easily apply to a majority of unauthorized immigrants in the United States.

        "We're living in a new era now, an era of war on immigrants," Ms. Rayos's lawyer, Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, said Wednesday after leaving the building here that houses the federal immigration agency, known by its acronym, ICE.

        But groups supporting Mr. Trump's moves on illegal immigration say that the deportations were long overdue, and would stop unauthorized immigrants from taking jobs from citizens, even if it meant that painful deportations would be taking place more often.

        "It's easy to put a human face on this one woman," said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, adding that he was not opining on the merits of Ms. Rayos's case.

        "We can't precisely pinpoint who the person or people are who might not have gotten a job taken by a person or people here illegally," he said. "The general principle was we hold the people who violate the laws responsible for the consequences that accrue to other people."

        In a statement Thursday, Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe, a spokeswoman for ICE, noted Ms. Rayos's previous felony conviction and deportation order.

        Ms. Rayos's "immigration case underwent review at multiple levels of the immigration court system, including the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the judges held she did not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.," Ms. O'Keefe said. "ICE will continue to focus on identifying and removing individuals with felony convictions who have final orders of removal issued by the nation's immigration courts."

        Lawyers from two of the nation's leading civil rights' groups said Ms. Rayos might be the first unauthorized immigrant to be arrested during a scheduled meeting with immigration officials since Mr. Trump took office.

        Ms. Rayos was 14 when she left Acambaro, a city in an impoverished corner of the Mexican state of Guanajuato, and sneaked across the border into Nogales, Ariz., a three-hour drive from Phoenix. She married — her husband is also undocumented, and thus did not want his name published — and gave birth to a boy and a girl, who are now in their teens.

        Ms. Rayos was working at Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix, when Maricopa County sheriff's deputies swooped in on Dec. 16, 2008, arresting her and several other employees on charges of suspicion of identity theft and using forged documents to obtain employment. The raid was one of the first ordered by Joe Arpaio, who was sheriff at the time, under an Arizona law authorizing sanctions against employers who knowingly hired undocumented immigrants.

        She spent three months in a county jail, followed by three months in immigration detention, she told a reporter. In 2013, an immigration court ordered that she be sent back to Mexico, but her case had been on hold since the federal authorities — under the Obama administration — decided not to act on the deportation order.

        Her son, Angel, still remembers the evening of her arrest — the knock on the door, the flashlight on the darkened living room, the sight of handcuffs on his mother's wrists.

        "I was in second grade," he said. "I never forgot that night, and I've lived in fear of losing my mother every night since then."

        Ms. Rayos was afraid to go to her appointment on Wednesday, knowing what might happen. Carlos Garcia, executive director of Puente, an immigrants' rights group, told her she could skip it and go into hiding or seek refuge at a church in North Phoenix, joining two other unauthorized immigrants facing deportation who have lived there for months.

        She decided to face the odds. Before her appointment, Ms. Rayos and her family attended Mass. Later, she stopped for a moment, clasped her hands and bowed her head, as if she were reciting a silent prayer.

        "I have faith in God," Ms. Rayos said, pinching her forehead and trying not to cry.

        She walked toward the gates that surround the ICE building, followed by Mr. Garcia and a small army of Puente volunteers, the same group that staged numerous protests against Mr. Arpaio at the height of his pursuit of unauthorized immigrants.

        The volunteers chanted, "No estás sola," Spanish for "you are not alone."

        When it became clear that Ms. Rayos would not walk out of the building, the protesters were ready. As a van carrying Ms. Rayos left the ICE building Wednesday, they surrounded it, chanting, "Liberation, not deportation." Her daughter, Jacqueline, joined in, holding a sign that read, "Not one more deportation." One man, Manuel Saldana, tied himself to one of the van's front wheels and said, "I'm going to stay here as long as it takes."

        Soon, police officers in helmets had surrounded Mr. Saldana. They cut off the ties holding him to the tire and rounded up at least six others who were blocking the front and back of the van, arresting them all. The driver quickly put the van in reverse and rolled back inside the building.

        Ms. Rayos was one of several detainees inside the van. Later, a vehicle was seen leaving the building under police escort, and her husband said he suspected she might have been inside.

        On Thursday, Ms. Rayos's husband and children received a call from her, telling them she was in Nogales, Mexico, just south of the Arizona border.

        His daughter had stayed with protesters until long past midnight. By sunrise, she was back home, packing her mother's suitcase — her toothpaste, her brush, her favorite pants and shirts.

        "Nobody should have to pack her mother's bag," she said, her lips quivering, tears filling her eyes. "It isn't fair."



        11)  Addiction Treatment Grew Under Health Law. Now What?

        FEB. 10, 2017




        MANCHESTER, N.H. — Chad Diaz began using heroin when he was 12. Now 36 and newly covered by Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, he is on Suboxone, a substitute opioid that eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and he is slowly pulling himself together.

        "This is the best my life has gone in many, many years," Mr. Diaz, a big man wearing camouflage, said as he sat in a community health center here.

        If Congress and President Trump succeed in dismantling the Affordable Care Act, he will have no insurance to pay for his medication or counseling, and he fears he will slide back to heroin.

        "If this gets taken from me, it's right back to Square 1," he said. "And that's not a good place. I'm scary when I'm using. I don't care who I hurt."

        As the debate over the fate of the health law intensifies, proponents have focused on the lifesaving care it has brought to people with cancer, diabetes and other physical illnesses. But the law has also had a profound, though perhaps less heralded, effect on mental health and addiction treatment, vastly expanding access to those services by designating them as "essential benefits" that must be covered through the A.C.A. marketplaces and expanded Medicaid.

        The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning research group, calculates that 2.8 million people with substance use disorders, including 220,000 with opioid disorders, have coverage under the A.C.A. As the opioid epidemic continues to devastate communities nationwide, public health officials say the law has begun to make a critical difference in their ability to treat and rehabilitate people.

        "Of all the illnesses, this is one where we've seen very dramatic changes and where we stand to lose the most ground if we lose the A.C.A.," said Linda Rosenberg, president and chief executive of the National Council for Behavioral Health, adding that treatment programs have begun to be integrated into primary care clinics and health care systems nationwide.

        During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump pledged to rid the country of Obamacare but also to address the opioid epidemic and expand access to drug treatment. Many of the states hardest hit by opioids — including Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky — voted for Mr. Trump, but some Republican governors have expressed concern about what might happen to people being treated for addiction if their party repeals or scales back the health law.

        John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, where the Medicaid expansion has covered 700,000 people, has been particularly outspoken about its success in his state. "Thank God we expanded Medicaid because that Medicaid money is helping to rehab people," Mr. Kasich said during a bill signing in January.

        There is still a long way to go. Waiting lists for treatment persist, and many people still lack access, particularly in the 19 states that have opted not to expand Medicaid. Nationwide, 78 people die every day from opioid overdoses, according to the surgeon general, and the number is still rising. And paradoxically, even as the number of opioid prescriptions in the United States has finally started falling, expanded health coverage has probably made it easier for some people to obtain the drugs.

        "There's no doubt in my mind that improving access to health care during an era in which opioids are being overprescribed would lead to more addiction," said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing and an addiction specialist.

        While 23 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder, the surgeon general said in a report last year that only one in 10 was receiving treatment as of 2014, the first year people got coverage through the health law. "Now what we're doing is playing catch-up," said Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy during the last two years of the Obama administration.

        In the past, a third of private insurance plans sold on the individual market did not cover addiction treatment, according to federal health officials, and those that did imposed strict limits. Medicaid covered little besides inpatient detox. Now, more health care providers are offering and getting reimbursed for outpatient counseling and medications like Suboxone and Vivitrol, which have been shown to reduce the potential for relapse.

        The health law encourages primary care doctors to incorporate addiction treatment into their practices. It provided grants to several hundred community health centers around the country, many in rural areas, to begin or expand mental health and medication-assisted treatment, which combines counseling and drugs like Suboxone.

        This is a big improvement from the days when treatment typically was offered through scattered, poorly funded stand-alone clinics that did not necessarily provide evidence-based treatment and had long waiting lists, said Richard Frank, a professor of health economics at Harvard Medical School.

        "The whole system is being pushed more toward looking like modern health care," said Dr. Frank, who worked at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration.

        The 21st Century Cures Act, which Congress passed in December with strong bipartisan support, could build on the progress by providing $1 billion nationwide over the next two years to expand drug treatment around the country, with an emphasis on medication-assisted treatment. The federal government will soon begin distributing the money to states, which will allot it to treatment programs, particularly in high-need areas. But if people lose their insurance, Dr. Frank said, they may well lose access to these new options.

        In Kentucky about 11,000 people were receiving addiction treatment through Medicaid by mid-2016, up sharply from 1,500 people in early 2014, according to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, a health policy research group. In West Virginia, Ms. Rosenberg of the National Council for Behavioral Health said, her group's member organizations — nonprofit providers of mental health and addiction treatment — are now treating 30,000 people a year, up from 9,000 before the health law.

        Here in New Hampshire — which Mr. Trump won resoundingly in the Republican primary and lost by a hair in November — more than 10,000 people have received addiction treatment after gaining coverage through the Medicaid expansion, said Michele Merritt, senior vice president and policy director at New Futures, a nonprofit advocacy group. Small treatment centers throughout the state that had never been able to bill insurance before have started doing so, she said, allowing them to hire more counselors and accept more patients.

        "We're just beginning to implement these exchanges in a way that people know about them," said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, referring to the exchanges created under the health law. Getting rid of them, she said, "makes no sense."

        Others note that even with more treatment options, the number of deaths in places like New Hampshire continues to rise. The state ranks first nationwide in per capita overdose deaths from fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is now killing more people here than heroin. Republicans here have also criticized state health officials for not tracking how many Medicaid enrollees who receive addiction treatment end up relapsing.

        In Pennsylvania, where 124,000 people have received addiction treatment under the Medicaid expansion, health officials were disturbed by early data showing that two-thirds of those who went to detox got no other treatment services. So Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, is designating 45 "Centers of Excellence" — primary care clinics where people can also get addiction and mental health treatment, with frequent follow-up and a team of providers closely tracking their progress.

        The new model is in use here at the Manchester Community Health Center, where Mr. Diaz receives treatment. The center had offered minimal services for substance abuse before the health law.

        Now, three years later, it has undergone substantial changes. More than 40 percent of its patients had been uninsured; today, only 20 percent are. The center used to have one building, a staff of 55 and 7,500 patients; today, it has clinics in four locations, a staff of 230 and more than 16,000 patients, about 800 of whom have substance abuse issues.

        It has two providers who are licensed to prescribe medication-assisted treatment, which it is expanding to 60 patients, including pregnant women, the center's priority. "The number may sound low as far as how many we're treating," said Julie Hazell-Felch, director of behavioral health at the center. "But it's a multitude of services they're receiving and they're in here weekly," she said, seeing nurses, a behavioral health clinician and a medical provider, and giving urine samples and receiving their medications.

        If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, the center stands to lose more than $6 million in funding, mostly Medicaid revenue, about a third of its $18 million annual budget.

        "We would not be able to keep all four sites open," said Kris McCracken, president and chief executive of the health center.

        She added: "There are only two avenues to go: You either prevent and treat, or you street. That's what will happen. People will end up back on the street."



        12)  Mexican Government Rejects Findings of Misconduct in Missing Students Case

        FEB. 10, 2017


        MEXICO CITY — The final version of an internal review by the Mexican government into the conduct of investigators searching for 43 missing students has rejected an earlier report that found that the officials' mishandling of suspects and evidence broke the law.

        The original review described such serious wrongdoing, beginning with the illegal arrest of key suspects, that it threatened the foundations of the government's legal case. The new review, led by a different official, wiped clean the most damning of those violations, leaving the government's version of the case intact.

        The investigators' actions amounted only to technical violations, according to the new report, which was prepared by the inspector general of the attorney general's office and given to the students' families on Thursday.

        The final report is "a clear example that they are covering up and diluting" investigators' responsibilities, said Mario Patrón, director of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center in Mexico City and the families' legal representative.

        "We feel the government's priority is no longer finding the truth about what happened to the students, but is much more concerned with hiding the reasons behind a historical cover-up," Mr. Patrón added.

        The students' disappearance has shaken the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto, becoming emblematic of Mexico's inability to provide security to its citizens and its failure to confront the corruption that riddles law enforcement.

        Outside experts have repeatedly raised questions about the government's handling of the investigation in the weeks after the students vanished in September 2014, prompting the internal review.

        The first version was completed in August but was never approved by the attorney general. It was obtained by The New York Times in December.

        The students' families were quick to condemn what they said was an attempt to whitewash the internal investigation.

        "The problem is that the evidence was tampered with and the entire investigation has been manipulated and now they are denying the right to truth of 43 families," said Mario González, the father of one of the missing students.

        Mexican prosecutors have contended that the students were dragged off buses by local police officers and handed over to a drug gang, which killed them and burned their bodies at a garbage dump. Gang members were ordered to scoop the ashes into plastic bags and throw the bags into a river.

        But the government account rests largely on confessions from people suspected of being drug hit men swept up in a dragnet around the southern city of Iguala, where the students, who attended a rural teachers' college, disappeared.

        Last year, a group of experts with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission cast doubt on much of the evidence underpinning the government's version.

        The five experts uncovered detailed evidence showing that 17 key suspects were tortured and that commanders at the local army battalion and the federal police were aware of the police attacks on the students but stood by. The experts' group discarded the theory that such an intense fire could have taken place in the garbage dump.

        Finally, they discovered that the lead investigator, Tomás Zerón de Lucio, had taken one of the suspects, Agustín García Reyes, to the bank of the San Juan River on Oct. 28, 2014, without recording the visit in the case file.

        A bone found at the riverbank the following day was identified as belonging to one of the students, raising suspicions among the families that the evidence was planted.

        Mr. Zerón's unrecorded visit led to the internal review by the attorney general's inspector general. Although the families were told they would see the review on Aug. 18, it was withheld at the last minute and never released. The inspector general, César Alejandro Chávez Flores, abruptly resigned four weeks later. The attorney general at the time, Arely Gómez, resigned in October to become the federal comptroller.

        That first review painted a sweeping picture of dysfunction, the first time that the government itself had acknowledged the errors in its investigation.

        Six key suspects were picked up over the course of a day and spontaneously confessed in identical wording to being members of the local drug gang Guerreros Unidos. Their subsequent arrests, based on those statements, were arbitrary and illegal, the first review found.

        Mr. Zerón also took Mr. García Reyes to the riverbank without a defense lawyer, and then left the crime scene unguarded overnight, the review found. Dates were muddled, documents missing.

        The review concluded that Mr. Zerón's misconduct, along with the actions of prosecutors and forensic technicians in the days before and after the riverbank visit, violated the victims' right to justice. It called for further investigation to determine if the misconduct warranted criminal penalties.

        But the final report read very differently.

        It maintained that the arrests of the six suspects were legal and contended that Mr. Zerón's riverbank visit was only an administrative infraction.

        The inspector general who replaced Mr. Chávez Flores, Adriana Campos López, told the victims' parents that investigators were in a hurry to solve the case, spurring Mr. Zerón's visit to the riverbank. Mr. Zerón has defended his actions as legitimate police work.

        The final review, which refers his administrative sanction to the federal comptroller's office, takes the same position.

        But the families were unwilling to accept such reasoning.

        "The new inspector general gave us a resolution that basically makes fun of the 43 students' families," said Mr. González, the father of one of the students.



        13)  A Rare Survivor of a Philippine Drug Raid Takes the Police to Court

        FEB. 10, 2017


        MANILA — The drug raid ended like so many others in the Philippines, with all the suspects shot by the police.

        But one of them, Efren Morillo, a 28-year-old fruit and vegetable vendor, did not die.

        As the only known survivor of a so-called buy-bust operation, Mr. Morillo has provided a chilling first-person account that challenges the government's assertion that the thousands of suspects killed in President Rodrigo Duterte's antidrug campaign were killed by the police in self-defense. And his testimony lies at the heart of the first court case to challenge that campaign.

        According to his sworn affidavit, none of the five suspects were drug users and none were armed.

        The police took two of them, including Mr. Morillo, inside a house, handcuffed, Mr. Morillo said. Three others were lined up at a clearing near a ravine, ordered to kneel, their hands tied behind their backs.

        There was begging and crying as the police shot each man at close range, Mr. Morillo said.

        "Thoroughly frightened that I might be shot again, I closed my eyes and played dead," he said. As he lay on the floor bleeding, he said, he overheard the police officers talking about planting guns and drugs because they had found none there.

        When the police officers left the house, he took a chance and fled.

        On Friday, an appeals court ruled on a petition filed by Mr. Morillo and the families of the four other victims, issuing a protection order keeping the police away from them, ordering the officers involved to be transferred to another station and ordering the police to disclose any evidence against the suspects that led to the drug raid.

        While the plaintiffs' lawyers said the ruling would have no direct bearing on the broader antidrug effort or set a precedent for other cases, activists said it undermined the program's credibility and could result in more cases challenging it.

        "It encourages other victims or families of victims who are similarly situated to use the legal process and start filing cases," said Arpee Santiago, a lawyer at the Ateneo Human Rights Center in Manila, adding that the case was also an opportunity "to test the strength and integrity" of Philippine courts.

        Mr. Santiago said the ruling sends "a clear message that not everyone will take this sitting down."

        The Philippine National Police has not commented publicly on the case, and a spokesman did not return calls seeking comment on Friday. The police officers involved were under instructions not to talk to the news media.

        The case comes as the antidrug program has been temporarily suspended after two police officers on the drug force were accused of killing a Korean businessman in a botched kidnapping.

        Mr. Duterte has promised that it will resume. Since he began the campaign when he took office last June, at least 3,600 people have been killed and possibly thousands more.

        If the police operation last August was unusual in having a survivor, it was typical in many respects, including the poverty of the victims.

        It took place at the ramshackle home of the Daa family, three generations crammed together in a patchwork of plastic and plywood perched on a slope overlooking the country's largest open dump.

        The four men who were killed were all garbage collectors and scavengers who eked out a living from the city's trash.

        According to interviews with several members of their families, they ate food that they found in the dump, washing partly eaten meat and then refrying it. They collected metal to sell for scrap.

        Maria Belen Daa, 61, the mother of one of the victims, sometimes worked as a maid and a laundrywoman.

        On a hot Sunday afternoon, five plainclothes police officers and two women walked up a snaking footpath through tall grass strewn with garbage and animal feces to the Daa home. Mr. Morillo was playing pool with Marcelo Daa and another friend in a shack on one side of the yard. The other two men were resting on hammocks in back.

        The police said the women had pointed out Mr. Daa and his friends as drug dealers, but in their official report they said it was a "chance encounter" by policemen on patrol. In media interviews before they were instructed not to speak about the case, the officers said they had caught the men holding a drug session.

        The police officers drew their guns and shouted, "Don't move!" Mr. Morillo said.

        According to the police report, Mr. Morillo and his friends pulled guns, shouting, "You will not get us alive!" before shooting at the police. The officers said they responded by shooting the suspects. No police officers were wounded.

        According to Mr. Morillo, the men raised their hands and were handcuffed and frisked while the police searched the house. He and his friends had no weapons, he said.

        "Visibly annoyed with us" after finding nothing more than a toy gun, the police took two of the men inside and three outside.

        "Then the policemen shot the victims, one by one, execution style," according to the court petition.

        Then the officers helped themselves to bottles of soft drinks and crackers from a small shop owned by the Daa family, Ms. Daa said.

        "What they did was shameful," she said. "We only use torn tarps for walls. We have rusted tin roofing. How can we have money from drugs as they alleged? How can they say that my son sold drugs?"

        Her son Marcelo, 31, a wiry man with bleached blond hair, had three children, ages 4 to 14. He was not perfect, Ms. Daa said, but he never smoked, drank alcohol or used drugs. Instead, he gave money to family and friends in need whenever he earned extra from scavenging.

        Nor did he own a gun, she said, which costs more than what anyone in this poverty-stricken part of town earns in a year, a place where many residents have learned to live with just a meal a day to survive.

        "That is why my heart aches," she said. "Just because we are poor, they think they can step on us."

        Mr. Morillo, who was shot in the chest, eventually made it to a hospital and recovered. He was charged with assaulting a police officer and is out on bail. Through a lawyer, he declined to be interviewed.

        He is lying low, the lawyer, Rommel Bagares, said, and was under the protection of the Commission on Human Rights, which has questioned the killings under the Duterte administration.

        Mr. Bagares said this was the first such case because other victims had been afraid to challenge the police.

        "We have a survivor," he said. "And he is willing to bear witness to the murders."

        He said the next step was to file murder charges against the police officers. "If the pieces of evidence we have are properly appreciated, we will get indictments," he said.

        There may be other cases as well. Since he filed the case, Mr. Bagares said, he has received queries from other victims. A coalition of seven law firms has been set up to collaborate on them.

        After countless deaths, he said, "there has to be a legal challenge to the madness."

        The families of the victims welcomed the court ruling even as they doubted its effect.

        "Nobody knows whether this would stop this mission to kill poor people or small-time drug addicts," Ms. Daa said. "There are still frequent reports of killings in poor communities here. It's hard to cage a beast once it has tasted blood."



        14)  Illegal Voting Gets Texas Woman 8 Years in Prison, and Certain Deportation

        FEB. 10, 2017




        Despite repeated statements by Republican political leaders that American elections are rife with illegal voting, credible reports of fraud have been hard to find and convictions rarer still.

        That may help explain the unusually heavy penalty imposed on Rosa Maria Ortega, 37, a permanent resident and a mother of four who lives outside Dallas. On Thursday, a Fort Worth judge sentenced her to eight years in prison — and almost certainly deportation later — after she voted illegally in elections in 2012 and 2014.

        The sentence for Ms. Ortega, who was brought to this country by her mother as an infant, "shows how serious Texas is about keeping its elections secure," Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, said in a statement. Her lawyer called it an egregious overreaction, made to score political points, against someone who wrongly believed she was eligible to vote.

        "She has a sixth-grade education. She didn't know she wasn't legal," said Ms. Ortega's lawyer, Clark Birdsall, who once oversaw voter fraud prosecutions in neighboring Dallas County. "She can own property; she can serve in the military; she can get a job; she can pay taxes. But she can't vote, and she didn't know that."

        The punishment was strikingly harsh for an offense that usually merits far less jail time, if any. A second fraudulent ballot case in metropolitan Fort Worth ended in 2015 with probation.

        Ms. Ortega insisted in court that she had been unaware that she was ineligible to vote and was confused by registration forms and explanations by election officials.

        Prosecutors for Mr. Paxton and Tarrant County said that she had lied and that the same forms and conversations proved it. A jury convicted her Wednesday of two felony charges.

        Mr. Birdsall said Mr. Paxton's office had been prepared to dismiss all charges against Ms. Ortega if she agreed to testify on voting procedures before the Texas Legislature. But the Tarrant County criminal district attorney, Sharen Wilson, vetoed that deal, he said, insisting on a trial that would showcase her office's efforts to crack down on election fraud.

        Both the attorney general's office and the county prosecutor declined to comment on the specifics of Mr. Birdsall's statement, citing privacy rules for plea-bargain negotiations. A spokeswoman for Ms. Wilson, Sam Jordan, said any negotiations were only "discussions," a description Mr. Birdsall disputed.

        Ms. Ortega's conviction looks to be an early volley in a reinvigorated partisan war over voting rights — a war led in Texas by Mr. Paxton, who has crusaded against voter fraud. (Coincidentally, he faces legal issues of his own: state securities fraud charges and a federal lawsuit stemming from efforts to recruit investors for a technology company; he has denied wrongdoing.)

        Last year, federal courts curbed or nullified Republican-backed laws making it harder to vote, saying they reduced turnout by Democratic-leaning minorities, deliberately or otherwise.

        Texas's strict voter-ID law was among them. A federal appeals court ruled last year that the law hurt Latinos and African-Americans, who were less likely to have the IDs. It later ordered state officials to change their public education campaign on new ID rules.

        With President Trump's election, a new Justice Department and a new conservative nominee to the Supreme Court, Republicans have renewed their push for strict voting requirements in the name of combating fraud. Experts widely dismiss the fraud claims as unfounded. In unguarded moments, a number of Republican politicians have acknowledged as much.

        Ms. Ortega's case is unusual not just for its harshness but for its circumstances. Many fraud convictions that draw prison sentences — and some that do not — involve clear efforts to influence election results. Texas prosecutors won prison sentences for four men who moved into a hotel in 2010 to claim residency so they could sway a local election. A woman in Brownsville, Tex., was placed on five years' probation for casting five absentee ballots under different names in elections in 2012.

        Lawyers offered no clear motive for Ms. Ortega's decision to cast ballots beyond her desire to participate in elections.

        Ms. Ortega, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, came to Texas with her mother when she was an infant. More than a decade later, the family was scattered after the mother was arrested and deported. Two brothers born in Dallas automatically gained citizenship; Ms. Ortega became a permanent resident and gained a green card, her brother Tony Ortega, 35, said in an interview.

        As a Dallas County resident, she registered to vote and later cast ballots in elections in 2012 and 2014, her lawyer, Mr. Birdsall, said. While that was illegal, there was no attempt to break the law, he maintained: Some government forms allow applicants to declare that they are permanent residents, but the voting registration form asks only whether an applicant is a citizen.

        Lacking the permanent resident option, he said, she ticked the "citizen" box. When the county later mailed her a registration card, he said, she believed she "was good to go."

        Ms. Ortega moved to neighboring Tarrant County and again registered, but this time checked a box affirming that she was not a citizen. When her application was rejected in March 2015, the trial showed, she called election officials and told them that she had previously voted in Dallas County without difficulty.

        Told that she could not vote unless she was a citizen, she asked for another application, and returned it with a check in the box affirming citizenship. That raised questions, and law enforcement officials arrested her on fraud charges.

        Jonathan White, an assistant attorney general who helped prosecute the Ortega case with Tarrant County officials, said the evidence of fraud was unambiguous. "She told the elections office she was a citizen," he said. "She told everyone else she wasn't," including a recorded statement to prosecutors in which she said she was a citizen of Mexico.

        Mr. Birdsall said the arrest and prosecution are punishing a woman for her own confusion over whether residency and citizenship confer the same rights.

        "She wasn't trying to topple the country," he said. "She was trying to make more serious decisions about our country than the 50 percent of the people who didn't bother to vote in the last election."

        "This country is so inflamed by this Donald Trump nonsense that they've turned her into a whipping boy," he said.

        Ms. Ortega is now in a Fort Worth jail awaiting transfer to a state prison. Her four children, ages 13 to 16, are being cared for by siblings and her fiancé, Oscar Sherman, 27, a trucker who said her arrest had scotched their plans to marry. The children's fate is unclear. Mr. Sherman lacks legal custody; her siblings are still debating their options.

        Ms. Ortega's future is bleak. The federal government frowns on giving green cards to felons. "She'll do eight years in a Texas prison," Mr. Birdsall said. "And then she'll be deported, and wake up blinking and scratching in a country she doesn't know."

        Far-right websites have seized on Ms. Ortega's conviction as proof that Mr. Trump is right about rampant fraud and efforts by Democrats to steal the November election.

        There is, however, at least one flaw in that story: Ms. Ortega was a registered Republican.

        "She voted for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in the 2012 election. In 2014 she voted for our current attorney general, Ken Paxton," Mr. Birdsall said. "And guess what? He's the one responsible for prosecuting her."



        15)  Chicago Officer Who Shot Teenager and Bystander Will Not Be Charged

        FEB. 10, 2017




        CHICAGO — A police officer here who fatally shot an innocent bystander and a 19-year-old wielding a baseball bat will not face state charges, prosecutors announced on Friday.

        The decision brought an end to a case that raised questions about training and the use of force by Chicago police, and one that came at the height of public outcry about other police shootings here.

        The Cook County state's attorney's office said it found insufficient evidence to prove that Robert Rialmo, the police officer, was not legally justified in the shooting in the early-morning hours of Dec. 26, 2015, at a home on this city's West Side.

        Officer Rialmo was responding to 911 calls from the home when he shot and killed Quintonio LeGrier, a college student, as well as a neighbor, Bettie Jones, who had merely answered the front door for the police.

        In a memo, prosecutors said that Mr. LeGrier had moved toward Officer Rialmo with an aluminum baseball bat over his head in a threatening manner, and that a bat, under Illinois law, may be considered a deadly weapon.

        If Officer Rialmo was legally justified in firing at Mr. LeGrier, the prosecutors said, he also could not be held criminally liable for the death of Ms. Jones, even though she was a bystander.

        The shooting occurred at the height of scrutiny over police conduct in this city, not long after the Justice Department announced it would investigate police practices here, and after Chicago officials had been ordered to release video in the shooting of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a white police officer.

        The deaths of Ms. Jones and Mr. LeGrier had rekindled anger among activists, and had called attention to the way the police respond to situations involving people in mental or emotional distress.

        Mr. LeGrier had experienced emotional problems in the months before his death, family members said, and had himself placed three 911 calls to the police that night, reporting, at points, that someone was trying to kill him.

        Family members of the dead expressed outrage on Friday at the decision. Basileios J. Foutrisa lawyer for the LeGrier family, called the decision "more of the same," with one law enforcement agency protecting another.

        "He called for help — to get shot?" Janet Cooksey, Mr. LeGrier's mother, said at a news conference. "I don't understand that. I have no words for that. And yet this cop is not going to jail? He's still on the force? I don't understand the society that we live in today."

        Latisha Jones, a daughter of Ms. Jones's, said that her mother was "an innocent woman and she did no wrong," and recalled sharing Christmas dinner with her hours before her death.

        "He took a great woman from us that we can never get back," Latisha Jones said. "The only thing we have is memories and pictures on T-shirts."

        Both families have filed civil lawsuits in the case.

        "Bettie Jones was at her home, she was in her house," said Larry R. Rogers Jr., a lawyer for the Jones family. "She was doing everything right that day."

        Officer Rialmo is on administrative duty at the Police Department, officials said, as an investigation continues into whether he violated department procedures.

        But Joel A. Brodsky, a lawyer for Officer Rialmo, said that prosecutors made "the right decision," that his client had faced "a life-threatening attack" and that he expected him to eventually return to patrol.

        "He had no choice but to discharge his weapon in order to save his life and potentially that of his partner, and that's what he did," Mr. Brodsky said. "He feels horrible about having to do that. And what compounds it is the tragedy that an innocent person was killed."

        After the shooting, Officer Rialmo sued Mr. LeGrier's estate, claiming emotional trauma for Ms. Jones's death, and then sued the city for what he claimed was inadequate training.

        The charging decision was issued by Eric Sussman, an assistant prosecutor, rather than Kim Foxx, the Cook County state's attorney, who was elected last fall to replace a longtime incumbent who was heavily criticized for her handling of police conduct cases.

        Ms. Foxx previously worked for a law firm that represents the estate of Ms. Jones, her office said, so she played no role in reviewing Officer Rialmo's case or in the final decision not to bring charges.
























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