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Mike Alewitz


"That is what I want to urge upon the working class; to become so organized on the economic field that they can take and hold the industries in which they are employed. 

Can you conceive of such a thing? Is it possible? What are the forces that prevent you from doing so? You have all the industries in your own hands at the present time. 

There is this justification for political action, and that is, to control the forces of the capitalists that they use against us; to be in a position to control the power of government so as to make the work of the army ineffective, so as to abolish totally the secret service and the force of detectives. That is the reason that you want the power of government…

…If I didn't think that the general strike was leading on to the great revolution which will emancipate the working class I wouldn't be here. I am with you because I believe that in this little meeting there is a nucleus here that will carry on the work and propagate the seed that will grow into the great revolution that will overthrow the capitalist class."


(February 4, 1869 – May 18, 1928

Mine Worker/ Political Prisoner/ Organizer/ Agitator/ Wobbly/ Socialist



PLEASE SHARE!  (apologies for duplications)

Dear Friends,

Has the Great Uprising of 2017 begun? 

The last two days have been extremely inspiring.  Let's hope it's the beginning of a new era of progressive action!

Please join us on Thursday, February 9th,
as we take the battle to one of
the most controversial
corporations in San Francisco:

In November, Medea Benjamin called on local activists to draw attention to Uber's special relationship with Saudi Arabia. 

FACTS: Saudi Arabia is the only nation in the world that DOES NOT ALLOW women to drive. In recent months, Uber has accepted an unprecedented investment from the Saudi royal family of $3.5 billion. Even more important, 80% of Uber's customers in Saudi Arabia are women riders. 

An online petition set up by Code Pink -- linked below -- accuses Uber of directly profiting from the oppression of Saudi women and calls on its CEO to stand up for the right of women in Saudi Arabia to drive

On FEBRUARY 9TH AT 1PM, we will present this petition (currently at over four thousand signatures) to Uber and we are soooooo hoping you will be able to attend!

In the meantime, can you PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD? 

Sign the petition! 

RSVP for the protest!

Further fascinating info: 

On the tail of Donald Trump's corporate takeover, this action seems perfectly timed. 

Please stand up for Saudi women and help RESIST THE CORPORATE COUP D'ETAT!

Michael Stone 

San Francisco



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.

To stop receiving emails, click here.

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

        Courage Campaign

        Daily Kos

        Democracy for America


        Project Springboard

        RH Reality Check


        Student Debt Crisis

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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)  The Story of Sweet Marie and an Earlier Women's Protest



        1)  The Story of Sweet Marie and an Earlier Women's Protest

        Q. A hundred years before the Women's March on Washington, another women's uprising took place, in which Marie Ganz, known as Sweet Marie, played a leading role. Who was she and where did she get her nickname?

        A. Newspapers of the day said Ms. Ganz, who was arrested in the food riots of 1917, was incendiary and cursed like a sailor. So naturally, cynical reporters called her "Sweet Marie," according to Thai Jones, the curator for American history in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University. In 1925, however, another reporter said that she had received the name "because of an intriguing smile and an engaging personality."

        In 1914, Sweet Marie carried a pistol into the Standard Oil Building in New York and threatened to shoot John D. Rockefeller Jr. Fortunately, Mr. Rockefeller, whom Sweet Marie blamed for brutalizing striking miners in Colorado, was not in.

        "She spent 60 days in jail for it, and it was the main thing on her political résumé, if you can call it that," Dr. Jones said, adding, "She was kind of a street-corner speaker and definitely a rabble-rouser."

        The food riots began on the morning of Feb. 19, 1917, when women who had gone to the food market area in Brownsville, Brooklyn, found that prices, which had already been rising, had gone up again.

        The trouble began at 10 a.m., "when a woman who didn't have enough cash to cover her purchases overturned a pushcart," William Freiburger wrote on a CUNY web page about the episode.

        "As the peddler protested and attempted to chase after her," he continued, "hundreds of women surged in upon the hapless businessman."

        The police contended with a thousand rioters for two hours before order was restored, Mr. Freiburger wrote.

        The next morning, The New York Times said, 400 mothers, many carrying babies, stormed City Hall to demand cheaper food. An official met with Sweet Marie and other protest leaders, promising a meeting with the mayor. The crowd began to disperse. Then Sweet Marie "harangued the crowd in bitter language, and soon everything was confusion." She was taken into custody.

        Outbreaks of violence continued into March, Mr. Freiburger wrote, and protests spread to Philadelphia and Boston.

        In March, Eric Ferrar wroteon the Lo-Down website, the city helped to defuse the crisis by "securing thousands of pounds of low-cost produce," which allowed wholesalers to lower prices.

        Marie Ganz was born in 1891 in Eastern Europe and came to America as a child, according to "Anarchist Women" by Margaret S. Marsh. Her father died in 1899, and she was working full time by age 13.

        Ms. Marsh noted that both the anarchist Emma Goldman and The Times's editorial board, "who agree on nothing else, characterized Ms. Ganz as a reckless and irresponsible young woman who attempted to incite others to violence and cared little for the consequences."

        A Feb. 24, 1925, article titled "Motherhood Has Changed 'Sweet Marie'" said that Ms. Ganz, "now Mrs. Nat Ferber," no longer believed in violence. "I was concerned almost entirely about the poor and the problems with which they had to contend," she said, adding: "More than anything else, perhaps, it is an empty stomach that makes a real radical. This is a fact that should compel vital attention of all parties even today."



        2) The Smothers Brothers: Laughing at Hard Truths


        VIETNAM '67 FEB. 3, 2017


        On Sunday nights at 9, 50 years ago, more than a quarter of American households were watching NBC's "Bonanza." That comfortable and comforting western series was so dominant that CBS felt it had nothing to lose by taking a chance and giving that time slot to two brothers, musical satirists who interrupted songs like "Boil That Cabbage Down" and "Dance, Boatman, Dance" with ridiculous bouts of sibling rivalry.

        The brothers, Tom and Dick Smothers, had had a successful run of appearances in nightclubs and on television variety shows with subversive takes on folk songs. When "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" made its premiere on Feb. 5, 1967, CBS figured the two men in their late 20s, clean-cut and appealing, might find a niche.


        Tom, left, and Dick Smothers on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." CreditCBS, via Getty Images 

        Two weeks later, the "Comedy Hour" beat "Bonanza" in the ratings. After a few weeks more, the brothers who had seemed so nonthreatening became more daring, making political and topical references and booking musical acts with new, often anthemic songs to sing. Censors in the network's standards and practices office began cutting jokes, comments, even entire skits. The brothers' challenges to President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration and comments on other political issues became sharper. Battles with the network censors became more frequent. The brothers took their dispute to the press and became national symbols of countercultural resistance. A little more than two years after the show's debut, CBS fired Tom and Dick Smothers and canceled their still-successful show.

        But for the new generation coming of age in the late 1960s, "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" represented their view of the world, the only place on American prime-time TV where George Harrison would pop in unannounced to provide moral support for the brothers' righteous struggle. There would be no other show on TV quite like it until "Saturday Night Live" had its premiere, in late night, in 1975.

        Dick Smothers, now 77, says he still encounters fans who say he and his brother were ahead of their time.

        "Not correct at all," Dick said in a telephone interview. "We would have been ineffective if we were ahead of our time. We were on time." But, he added, "the time was right for us, too. It was like a big crane just dropped us down right at the start of the bubbling part of the '60s."

        You wouldn't get a sense of why the program caught on, or think that it would end up causing such a fuss, by looking at Tom and Dick in their matching red blazers on their earliest shows, hosting such guests as Jack Benny, Bette Davis and Jill St. John. But in the days when most homes had only one TV, which the whole family would watch together, the brothers and their writers started out by trying to appeal to multiple generations, then increasingly sought younger viewers.

        "Tom and I had a bachelor pad together before the show started," said Mason Williams, 79, who became the program's head writer. "I remember watching TV with him, and Tom asking why there was nothing on for us and our friends."

        And there were a lot of folks like them. Thanks to the postwar baby boom, 90 million Americans — almost half the population — were under 25 years old. And stodgy network TV — about all there was on TV then — didn't reflect their culture or the turmoil they were experiencing.

        At the beginning of 1967, the State Department announced that 5,008 Americans had been killed in Vietnam in 1966, fueling nationwide protests. Also at the start of that year, Muhammad Ali, perhaps the most prominent athlete in the world, fought induction into the Army on religious grounds and condemned the war. Timothy Leary, Jerry Rubin, the Grateful Dead and others held the Human Be-In in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, where Leary told people to take psychedelic drugs and "turn on, tune in, drop out."

        For the younger audience who looked longingly at the San Francisco scene, the "Comedy Hour" began presenting new bands like Jefferson Airplane and the Electric Prunes and hip comics like George Carlin. The show's sketches and jokes might seem tame now, but they signaled that the program was at the center of the social hurricane.

        Buffalo Springfield appeared in the third episode, singing "For What It's Worth," with its refrain that would make it a counterculture anthem of resistance: "There's something happening here."

        Before the ninth show, the network censors for the first time banned the broadcast of a sketch, written by the guest star Elaine May, which they considered objectionable because it made fun of censors.

        In May 1967, Simon and Garfunkel musically narrated a sketch called "Billy the Kid's Birthday," in which Billy (played by Tom) asks to make love to Belle Starr (played by Janet Leigh) as a birthday gift. The rest of the outlaws insist Billy can't do that on television and shoot him instead — because on TV, murder is acceptable but sex isn't. "Hey, kid, I thought this was supposed to be a comedy show," Belle whispers as he dies in her arms.

        "You can't be funny all of the time," Billy says as his dying words. Simon and Garfunkel musically echo that line, then add in harmony, "Sometimes there's things to say."

        The more topical the Smothers brothers got, the more vehemently the CBS censors resisted. Tom had demanded "creative control" before the series began and was told he would have it, but that phrase never made it into the contract. So the fights between him and the network's department of standards escalated, with Tom pushing against the rules like a rebellious teenager and CBS asserting its authority like a frustrated parent.

        By the fall of 1967, Leigh French began appearing as Goldie O'Keefe, the drugged-out hippie host of segments called "Share a Little Tea With Goldie." Her bits were laced with flower-child lingo, slipping drug references past clueless censors and into American living rooms.

        The show's biggest star was the deadpan, double-talking comedian Pat Paulsen, who did ironic editorials on such topics as gun control and the draft laws. His campaign for the presidency in 1968 was a yearlong running joke. But to get an authentic feel for how a candidate would campaign, the writers hired the consultant Don Bradley, who had worked for the John F. Kennedy campaign in 1960 and ran Pat Brown's successful 1962 bid for the governorship of California. (In both those races, the losing candidate was Richard Nixon.)

        "That was one of my proudest moments, running him for president," said Tom Smothers, who turned 80 on Thursday. "Every time I see an election going up, I say, 'God, I wish Pat Paulsen was here.' "

        Increasingly, "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" was paying attention to politics. After an early sketch lampooned President Johnson (in a silly, but not very funny, segment about his top-secret barbecue sauce), the president complained in a late-night call to the home of the network's chairman, William Paley.

        Paley asked the show's producers to ease up a bit on Johnson but realized he might have to give up something in return, since the series by then was a hit, with more than 30 million weekly viewers. (Last season's top-rated series, by comparison, averaged about 20 million viewers — while the population has increased by 60 percent.)

        The quid pro quo, to which Paley agreed, was to have on the folk singer Pete Seeger, who had been blacklisted from prime time for 17 years. That alone was a bold move, but even more provocatively, Seeger sang a song he had just written called "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy." The tale of a foolish officer recklessly leading his men into a deep river that nearly drowns them, it was a clear allegory for Vietnam and — with lines like "even a tall man'll be over his head" — to the 6-foot-4 Johnson. When Seeger appeared on the series on Sept. 10, 1967, CBS censors cut the song from the final tape. But when Seeger returned in early 1968, he sang it again, and it remained, still shocking in its power.

        To start Season 3, Tom Smothers invited Harry Belafonte to sing a medley of calypso songs, whose lyrics were reworked to reflect the chaos inside and outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Belafonte sang his medley in front of projected images of the convention violence and police brutality. Censors cut the whole piece.

        More sketches, and individual lines, were getting cut. One show opened with the program's writers, including the recent hire Steve Martin, playing censors, passing a "Comedy Hour" script from one to another, ripping out bits until almost nothing was left.

        The end came on April 4, 1969, when CBS fired the brothers on grounds of breach of contract after the show had been renewed for a fourth season. The brothers denounced it as a phony excuse to bend to critics, who at that point included President Nixon. They sued and won a settlement of more than $900,000.

        Toward the end, the targets of their humor had grown pricklier. The Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein found that between 1969 and 1971, even after the show was off the air, Nixon campaign funds paid a private investigator to look into the brothers, among other targets.

        "I thought it was kind of a badge of honor," Tom Smothers said.

        Lyndon Johnson, too, had been enraged by the Smotherses' barbs. But when he announced on March 31, 1968, that he would not seek re-election, the dynamic between the president and the brothers shifted substantially.

        Tom Smothers recalled being so stunned by Johnson's TV address that he wrote him a letter, saying that he disagreed with him on the Vietnam War, but was impressed by his other accomplishments and wanted to thank him.

        Johnson responded with a letter that Dick read on the last episode.

        "It is part of the price of leadership of this great and free nation," Johnson wrote, "to be the target of clever satirists. You have given the gift of laughter to our people. May we never grow so somber or self-important that we fail to appreciate the humor in our lives."



        3)  Black Lives, White Lies and Emmett Till

         FEB. 6, 2017


        The history of the American South is littered with lynchings and burnings of black citizens that went unpunished, either because the authorities could not rouse themselves to charge the killers or because all-white juries reflexively exonerated them.

        The case of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago who was kidnapped, mutilated and killed while visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955, stands out in this long bloody history, both for its savagery and because the episode pushed the country to confront, at last, the racial terror that had long defined black Southern life.

        That period comes painfully alive in "The Blood of Emmett Till," a new book by the historian Timothy Tyson in which Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who accused Emmett of assaulting her, says she lied. This admission is a reminder of how black lives were sacrificed to white lies in places like Mississippi. It also raises anew the question of why no one was brought to justice in the most notorious racially motivated murder of the 20th century, despite an extensive investigation by the F.B.I.

        Emmett Till was visiting the hamlet of Money in August 1955 when he encountered Ms. Bryant in a store she owned with her husband. Something during a transaction made her take offense, though what remains unclear. Days later, the killers kidnapped Emmett from his uncle's home, tortured him and shot him in the head. They then tied a heavy cotton gin fan to his neck with barbed wire and dumped him into the Tallahatchie River.


        Carolyn Bryant and her husband, holding their sons, at his murder trial in 1955.CreditEd Clark/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images 

        The history of the American South is littered with lynchings and burnings of black citizens that went unpunished, either because the authorities could not rouse themselves to charge the killers or because all-white juries reflexively exonerated them.

        The case of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago who was kidnapped, mutilated and killed while visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955, stands out in this long bloody history, both for its savagery and because the episode pushed the country to confront, at last, the racial terror that had long defined black Southern life.

        That period comes painfully alive in "The Blood of Emmett Till," a new book by the historian Timothy Tyson in which Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who accused Emmett of assaulting her, says she lied. This admission is a reminder of how black lives were sacrificed to white lies in places like Mississippi. It also raises anew the question of why no one was brought to justice in the most notorious racially motivated murder of the 20th century, despite an extensive investigation by the F.B.I.

        Emmett Till was visiting the hamlet of Money in August 1955 when he encountered Ms. Bryant in a store she owned with her husband. Something during a transaction made her take offense, though what remains unclear. Days later, the killers kidnapped Emmett from his uncle's home, tortured him and shot him in the head. They then tied a heavy cotton gin fan to his neck with barbed wire and dumped him into the Tallahatchie River.

        Under ordinary circumstances, a death like Emmett's would have passed unremarked into history. His mother prevented that by tirelessly publicizing the case — and keeping the coffin open at the funeral so that mourners and newspaper readers all over the world could view the mangled remains of her child.

        Ms. Donham's husband Roy and his half brother J. W. Milam were charged with murder. Documents show that Ms. Bryant told her lawyer at the time that the teenager had "insulted" her. But by the time of the trial, Mr. Tyson writes, Ms. Bryant had become "the mouthpiece of a monstrous lie," claiming that the teenager had grabbed her around the waist while uttering obscenities. The fraudulent testimony was meant to convince the court that Emmett's behavior justified his death.

        Mr. Bryant and Mr. Milam, both now dead, were acquitted, though they later confessed to the murder in an article in Look magazine in 1956. The killing embarrassed the United States before the world and did much to inspire the modern civil rights movement.

        The F.B.I. under J. Edgar Hoover, who ran it until he died in 1972, was more focused on undermining civil rights groups than on enforcing federal law. In 2004, prompted by two documentaries suggesting that people other than Mr. Bryant and Mr. Milam had been involved, the F.B.I. reopened the Till investigation. The case remains unresolved, though Emmett's body was exhumed as part of the investigation. The original coffin is on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where it anchors an exhibition on the freedom struggle.

        Ms. Donham's admission that her testimony was false underscores yet again that killers and collaborators from other racial terror attacks may still be alive — and that the horror of their crimes still weighs heavily on the nation.



        4)  Left-Behind Explosives Taking Deadlier Toll on Afghan Children, U.N. Says

         FEB. 6, 2017


        KABUL, Afghanistan — Months after intense fighting between the Afghan government and the Taliban subsided on the outskirts of Kunduz, Hajji Habib Rahmani's family decided to go ahead with a delayed wedding.

        Amid the festivities, Abdul Basit, one of the children playing behind the house, picked up an unexploded shell, and it blew up. Basit, 14, and his brother Haroon, 8, were killed, and 12 other children between the ages of 7 and 15 were wounded.

        The shell had been "fired from a helicopter during the fighting, and it hadn't exploded," said Mr. Rahmani, the uncle of the two brothers.

        On Monday, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan reported that 2016 had been another year of record civilian casualties in the country, and it expressed particular concern about a 65 percent jump in the number of children killed or injured by explosive remnants as fighting has spread to heavily populated civilian areas.

        The report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or Unama, said that overall civilian casualties had continued their steady increase in recent years. In 2016, 3,498 civilians were killed and 7,920 others wounded — an increase of 3 percent over the previous year, the report said.

        "I am deeply saddened to report yet another year of increase in civilian casualties — another all-time-high figure for the number of civilian casualties," Tadamichi Yamamoto, the United Nations special representative for Unama, said at a news conference on Monday in Kabul, the Afghan capital. "The killing and maiming of Afghan civilians is deeply harrowing and largely preventable."

        According to the report, Unama documented "record numbers of civilian casualties from ground engagements, suicide and complex attacks and explosive remnants of war" in 2016. The report also said casualties caused by aerial operations were the highest since the mission started systematically tracking them in 2009 and had doubled compared with 2015.

        Afghanistan is still having to clear what remains of the hundreds of thousands of decades-old mines and explosive remnants dating as far back as the 1979-89 war with the Soviet Union and the subsequent factional fighting, even as newer explosives take lives on a daily basis.

        Just as the conflict is restricting the movements of demining crews, civilians are being killed and maimed by homemade roadside bombs planted by insurgents, as well as unexploded ordinance left behind by coalition forces around bases they abandoned.

        And now, more children are dying not long after battles in their neighborhoods have ended, as none of the combatants bother to clear explosive remnants afterward as sought by international conventions.

        About 61 percent of the civilian casualties are attributed to what Unama calls "anti-government elements," largely the Taliban. But civilian casualties caused by local affiliates of the Islamic State also increased tenfold compared with 2015, with 899 casualties claimed by Islamic State in 2016.

        Pro-government forces caused 24 percent of the civilian casualties, the report said, significantly higher than in 2015.

        The United Nations mission was especially concerned about an overall 24 percent rise in casualties involving children compared with 2015, with 3,512 such incidents in 2016 causing 923 deaths and leaving 2,589 injured. More than half of the child casualties occurred during ground engagements.

        Afghanistan has successfully carried out one of the world's largest demining efforts over several decades, removing nearly two million items of explosive material, more than 700,000 antipersonnel mines and more than 29,000 antitank mines, according to the United Nations Mine Action Service. The efforts have resulted in a 65 percent reduction in casualties caused by mines and explosive remnants since 2001.

        But in recent years, as the American-led international coalition has closed down bases ahead of its withdrawal from the country, more casualties have been reported from ordnance exploding in areas that had been used as firing ranges and then abandoned by coalition forces.

        From 2009 to 2015, the United Nations recorded 138 casualties resulting from explosive remnant accidents in or around facilities used by the international coalition, and it said that 75 percent of the victims were children.

        A clearance operation to start getting rid of the explosives was introduced in 2014 to clear dozens of these sites.

        The United Nations said many of last year's casualties involving children and unexploded ordnance were caused by new explosive items left behind after recent fighting.

        "My team tracks the location of every one of the detonations, and the trend we have documented was a direct correlation between casualties from exploded ordnance and areas where the heaviest ground fighting happened," said Danielle Bell, director of the human rights unit at Unama. "The majority of casualties resulted from new unexploded ordnance from the current conflict."

        The United Nations is urging the Afghan government to comply with international rules requiring it to clear explosives after a battle. More than 15 years into the war, Afghanistan has only recently signed the convention requiring such clearance, but it has not yet been put into practice.



        5)  A Small Ohio Town Clamors to Curb Aggressive Policing

         FEB. 5, 2017




        YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio — The scene was an all-too-familiar one on the streets of America's cities: a black suspect on the ground, roughed up by white police officers as an angry crowd looked on.

        But Yellow Springs is a tiny, predominantly white village, and the arrest at the annual New Year's street celebration was an awakening to many who live here.

        Dozens of residents criticized the police force on Facebook, accusing officers of carrying an "us versus them" attitude. Hundreds packed a gym for a special Village Council meeting to denounce the episode for, among other things, the psychological damage it had on their children. When the police chief, unused to such fury, offered his resignation, the audience cheered.

        Issa Walker, 28, a Yellow Springs native who is black, wrote the hashtag #WhiteFolksHereAintHavinIt beneath a picture of the meeting he posted to Facebook.

        But in the consensus over the need for less aggressive policing, there were subtle differences in perspective: White residents were complaining largely about the officers' violation of social norms in a laid-back town, while black residents focused on what they saw as a racially biased force that targets them regularly.

        "I don't know if I would call it a coincidence that out of a majority white crowd, a black man would be the one to get tackled to the ground and Tased," Mr. Walker said.

        One challenge, several black residents of Yellow Springs said, is that residents are so extremely liberal-minded that it is hard for them to believe that racism exists here. Village leaders said that complaints about the police had been coming from people of all races and that they were analyzing data to determine whether police stops showed racial bias.

        "I personally don't believe that there was racial profiling or anything in town," said Brian Housh, a councilman who is white and has strongly advocated a police overhaul, citing Black Lives Matter as an influence.

        Yellow Springs, with about 3,500 residents, is a blue speck in the conservative sea of southwest Ohio. Anchored by Antioch College, a liberal arts school with Unitarian roots, the village long has attracted an intellectual, activist populace. This is one of the few places in the region where black people were allowed to own homes in the mid-20th century, but still, Coretta Scott King, who studied music and education at Antioch, could not find a student teaching position in Yellow Springs because she was black.

        Its reputation is reflected in the rainbow flags flying along the main street, the fruity incense wafting onto the sidewalk from the local smoke shop and the people perched at sidewalk tables reading titles from a used-book store. While President Trump won the county, Greene, with 60 percent of the vote, Yellow Springs went for Hillary Clinton.

        As 2016 came to a close, hundreds of residents crowded the main drag downtown, as they do every year, to ring in the new year by watching a disco ball lowered to the pavement.

        Usually the police allow them to linger for about 45 minutes before walking through the crowd and asking everyone to call it a night, residents said. But this time, they said, officers began clearing the street just eight minutes into the new year. And they did so by driving their cruisers through the crowd, lights flashing and horns buzzing.

        Tensions quickly rose, and several villagers approached the police vehicles to ask the officers what they were doing. One of those people was David Carlson, 29. The police say a drunken Mr. Carlson, who is black, had been swearing at the officers, threatening them and striking their car. There was no evidence to suggest that Mr. Carlson was being disruptive like that, one of his lawyers, Jon Paul Rion, said. An officer eventually hopped out of his car and slammed Mr. Carlson to the ground. Chaos ensued.

        Mr. Carlson got away, and officers chased him. One tried to use a Taseron him, and a crowd of mostly white residents tried to shield him. One councilwoman, Marianne MacQueen, 72, who is white, was not arrested that night, but the authorities later charged her with two misdemeanors, saying she interfered with an arrest and obstructed official business. Ms. MacQueen said she had been trying to calm the situation.

        The police charged Mr. Carlson with felony obstruction and misdemeanor theft, saying that he took an officer's Taser — an allegation his lawyers denied. What the police saw as a justified arrest, many witnesses considered unnecessary police escalation. But the scene, so shocking to many of the city's white residents, was less jarring to African-American residents, who make up a little more than 13 percent of the population.

        "A majority of the people of color that I talk to are, like, 'Yeah, I experience this everywhere I go,'" said Ayanna Madison, 16, a junior at Yellow Springs High School who is black. "I've heard stories of this countless times, and it's not going to change until it happens to the rich kids, until it happens to the white kids, until it happens to the kids whose families control the power in the town or the city."

        Village leaders in Yellow Springs, which is roughly 81 percent white, said one reason they were so shocked by the New Year's debacle was that they had been taking complaints against the police seriously and had already been working toward making changes.

        Village officials last year withdrew the Police Department from a countywide task force after residents raised concerns that its tactics unfairly targeted black people.

        Leaders have tried various measures to connect officers with the community. At each meeting of the village's Human Relations Commission, for instance, a different officer (there are 11; 10 are white) showed up to introduce him or herself. But those meetings were poorly attended.

        "It's — how do we get them connected in a meaningful way besides these more symbolic kinds of things?" said Karen Wintrow, the president of the Village Council. "I believe that, when I talk to our officers, they do feel a kinship and an affection and a desire to serve this community. I think that they get overwhelmed with some of the negative rhetoric and don't understand it."

        Residents said they used to be able to talk town gossip with their officers, but not anymore, now that most of the officers commute from conservative surrounding towns.

        Three years ago, a sergeant was disciplined after taking a camera from a white woman filming police activity in front of her house. Last year, an officer was fired after two aggressive episodes — he shattered the window of a white woman sitting in a parked car and, days later, forced to the ground and handcuffed a white man who appeared "agitated" while walking down the street.

        Many here said those approaches were unnecessary in a 2.5-square-mile hamlet with a low crime rate.

        Since the New Year's episode, proposals for changing the department have included replacing police officers with social workers, providing subsidies for officers to live in the village, and training officers in crisis intervention, implicit bias and the like. The village has named one of its current officers to serve as interim chief while it searches for a permanent replacement.

        "We are stepping things up," Mr. Housh said. "We're going to be more vigilant and involved."

        There remains ambivalence, however, over the role that race plays in the town's policing.

        Some hoped that what happened on New Year's Day would make issues of race and policing real to those who did not experience them.

        "We didn't have enough skin in the game when it was going down with folks who were more disadvantaged," said Dr. F. Stuart Leeds, who is white. "It's time to see ourselves as a united community and to express regret for minimizing pain and suffering caused by this type of activity in the past."



        6)  California Today: Tackling Los Angeles's Deadly Smog

        "The draft blueprint would adopt some tougher emissions rules. But it also calls for a carrot approach: roughly $15 billion in handouts over the next 15 years to encourage polluters to clean up. Some community leaders have portrayed the incentives — which would surely involve tax increases — as a form of corporate welfare at the expense of low-income families."

        By Mike McPhate, Feb. 6, 2017


        More than 1,300 lives are cut short each year in the Los Angeles area because of air pollution, scientists say.

        Now, after years of work, regulators are getting ready to adopt their most substantial plan in more than a decade to do something about it.

        The proposal is outlined in 5,000-plus pages from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, whose jurisdiction extends across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

        Not surprisingly, it has set off debate, as critics have called the plan too lenient on industry.

        "California has made clear that it intends to be a leader on environmental issues," said Angela Johnson Meszaros, a staff attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental law group. "And here we've got the Los Angeles air agency not doing all that it can."

        All sides recognize that industries under the agency's regulatory power — including refineries, ports and warehouses — must adopt cleaner technologies.

        The agreement breaks down over how to get there.

        The draft blueprint would adopt some tougher emissions rules. But it also calls for a carrot approach: roughly $15 billion in handouts over the next 15 years to encourage polluters to clean up.

        Some community leaders have portrayed the incentives — which would surely involve tax increases — as a form of corporate welfare at the expense of low-income families.

        But supporters of the plan have argued that they are needed to avoid stifling business. Smaller operators, for example, may not be able to afford a new, cleaner truck.

        "Obviously you can't make everybody happy," said Philip M. Fine, deputy executive officer for the air district. "But we think we've developed a sensible, comprehensive and regulatory approach."

        At a public meeting last Friday, the air agency's board was supposed to vote on a final version of the plan.

        Hundreds of people showed up, filling overflow rooms. Testimony included stories of the personal toll that asthma is taking on young Californians. Business leaders warned of job losses if the plan were amended to add new rules.

        In the end, the board postponed the vote, citing the unexpected absence of a member. They'll try again next month.



        7)  Subway Riders Scrub Anti-Semitic Graffiti, as 'Decent Human Beings'

         FEB. 5, 2017




        Returning home on Saturday night after a dinner in Manhattan with some longtime friends, Gregory Locke boarded a No. 1 subway train and was confronted with an ugly sight.

        The car's windows and posters were covered in anti-Semitic graffiti, according to accounts from Mr. Locke and another passenger in the car, Jared Nied. Messages like "Jews belong in the oven" and "destroy Israel, Heil Hitler," had been written over subway maps, as shown by photographs taken on the train. Swastikas were drawn in black marker on the doors and windows.

        Mr. Locke, 27, a New York lawyer, said in a phone interview that his first reaction was shock, "especially once I realized how many instances of graffiti were on the train car."

        "But the shock quickly subsides and turns into a sort of a realistic horror," he said. "You realize it's appalling but it's also not surprising at the same time."

        Neither man reported the graffiti to the police, and neither the New York Police Department nor the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had a record of any report.

        Mr. Nied, 36, was returning home from his work as a sous-chef around 7 p.m. and boarded the train at 42nd Street. He said in a phone interview that his reaction to the graffiti, which he noticed immediately, must have been written on his face, and he soon attracted the attention of another commuter.

        "There was a lady sitting across from me under the map, and she said, 'Oh that's absolutely horrible,'" he said. "'Do you think there's any way we can erase it?'"

        Mr. Nied had many times used a Sharpie when he had meant to use a dry-erase marker, and he knew from experience that alcohol would work to erase the graffiti.

        "A light bulb went on, and I just asked, 'Does anyone have hand sanitizer?'" he said.

        Mr. Nied and several other commuters began to wipe away the graffiti, their actions captured in photographs taken by Mr. Locke, who wrote on Facebook about his experience. By late Sunday afternoon, more than 518,000 people had reacted to the post on Facebook, and the post had been shared more than 354,000 times.

        "I've never seen so many people simultaneously reach into their bags and pockets looking for tissues and Purell," Mr. Locke wrote. "Within about two minutes, all the Nazi symbolism was gone."

        Mr. Nied said that the episode had lasted less than five minutes and that the passengers were able to erase the graffiti before the train reached 96th Street. He returned a bottle of hand sanitizer to one of the riders, apologizing for having used most of it.

        "We sat down and glanced around at each other and settled back into the commute," he said.

        Both men said they understood that there might be skepticism about their accounts.

        "I understand the criticism, but unfortunately, I don't have an answer for it," Mr. Locke said. "I would probably be suspicious, too, if I didn't take the pictures."

        Detective Ahmed Nasser of the New York Police Department said that while the episode had not been reported on Saturday, other reports of anti-Semitic graffiti had been logged recently: A recycling container downtown was reportedly defaced with the words "Jews are a virus" in black ink in January, and swastikas were found etched on a northbound F train this month.

        A separate episode, in which a passenger on a B train saw that a swastika on an American flag had been transformed into a message of love, drew a comment from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday.

        On Saturday night, Mr. Nied sent a text to his wife, Jacquline, and to a friend with a photograph of the graffiti, but he did not consider the prospect that someone else might have taken photos. He said it had not even crossed his mind until more than an hour later, when his wife looked at her phone.

        "She said, 'Dude, you're going viral,'" he recalled.

        He added: "It was a very New York moment in that we all came together, we all teamed up, and then we settled back down. I don't think any of those people really spoke, truth be told. Everyone kind of just did their jobs of being decent human beings."



        8)  35 Women and One Man's Freedom

        Ana López, center, at a rally in Times Square for Oscar López Rivera, a Puerto Rican nationalist whose sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama. CreditDavid Gonzalez/The New York Times 

        Walking past the Iron Men, Hulks and Minions that beckoned to her in Times Square, Ana López stopped when she encountered Lady Liberty, whose green robes fluttered as she balanced herself on stilts. Ms. López asked the living statue to pose with a cardboard cutout she carried to commemorate the moment. The cutout, a life-size photo of a silver-haired man, declared "Oscar is free!" — referring to Oscar López Rivera, the long-imprisoned Puerto Rican nationalist whose 70-year sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in the final days of his administration.

        "The Statue of Liberty represents freedom," said Ms. López, a professor of Latin American and Caribbean studies at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. "That's why France gave the statue to us, to show respect for independence and freedom. Yet Puerto Rico is maintained as a U.S. colony. Oscar's not completely free until May 17, but he has become a symbol of freedom."

        Ms. López was among 35 women who had gathered in Times Square on the last Sunday of January for their monthly rally for Mr. López Rivera, a leader of the F.A.L.N., the Puerto Rican independence group that was responsible for about 100 bombings in the 1970s and 1980s. While not specifically linked to any of the six deaths caused by those violent acts, he was convicted of seditious conspiracy and transporting firearms and explosives, and was sentenced in 1981 to 55 years in prison. An attempted escape from federal prison tacked 15 years onto his sentence.

        He had rejected a previous offer of clemency, from President Bill Clinton in 1999, saying other Puerto Rican political prisoners had to be freed as well. Seeing himself as a political prisoner, he also refused to renounce violence.

        Though considered an unrepentant terrorist by some — especially the relatives and friends of those killed or injured in the bombings — Mr. López Rivera had become a figure whose release was supported by members of Congress, politicians in New York and Puerto Rico, and several Nobel laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. At the age of 74, they argued, he had spent enough time behind bars.

        In New York, Ms. López belongs to a group — 35 Women for Oscar — that has held monthly rallies throughout New York since 2014, when it called itself 33 Women for Oscar. The number refers not just to the size of the group, but also to the length of time Mr. López Rivera has served.

        The women held events throughout the city, collecting signatures on petitions and handing out literature, keeping the issue in the public eye, and inspiring similar groups in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere. An online petition urging clemency garnered more than 100,000 supporters and was submitted to the White House late last year.

        "In New York, the role the women played was major," said Angelo Falcón of the National Institute for Latino Policy. "They were the public face of the movement to free him."

        The New York group was patterned after one in Puerto Rico that had been pushing for Mr. López Rivera's release, eventually gaining support that cut across party lines on the island. Some of that group's leaders visited New York, where the cause moved Melissa Montero Padilla to follow their example, getting 33 local women to come to the first rally, on March 30, 2014, in East Harlem. They chanted and handed out fliers, and, at later rallies, Mr. López Rivera sometimes called in from prison.

        Ms. Montero Padilla knows some people do not approve of Mr. López Rivera and his role in the F.A.L.N., but she said his actions had to be seen in the context of Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States, from early efforts to "Americanize" its people to today's debt crisis and brain drain.

        Though considered an unrepentant terrorist by some — especially the relatives and friends of those killed or injured in the bombings — Mr. López Rivera had become a figure whose release was supported by members of Congress, politicians in New York and Puerto Rico, and several Nobel laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. At the age of 74, they argued, he had spent enough time behind bars.

        In New York, Ms. López belongs to a group — 35 Women for Oscar — that has held monthly rallies throughout New York since 2014, when it called itself 33 Women for Oscar. The number refers not just to the size of the group, but also to the length of time Mr. López Rivera has served.

        The women held events throughout the city, collecting signatures on petitions and handing out literature, keeping the issue in the public eye, and inspiring similar groups in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere. An online petition urging clemency garnered more than 100,000 supporters and was submitted to the White House late last year.


        The group 35 Women for Oscar has held monthly rallies for Mr. López Rivera. It drew women from various professions and parts of the city. CreditDavid Gonzalez/The New York Times 

        "In New York, the role the women played was major," said Angelo Falcón of the National Institute for Latino Policy. "They were the public face of the movement to free him."

        The New York group was patterned after one in Puerto Rico that had been pushing for Mr. López Rivera's release, eventually gaining support that cut across party lines on the island. Some of that group's leaders visited New York, where the cause moved Melissa Montero Padilla to follow their example, getting 33 local women to come to the first rally, on March 30, 2014, in East Harlem. They chanted and handed out fliers, and, at later rallies, Mr. López Rivera sometimes called in from prison.

        Ms. Montero Padilla knows some people do not approve of Mr. López Rivera and his role in the F.A.L.N., but she said his actions had to be seen in the context of Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States, from early efforts to "Americanize" its people to today's debt crisis and brain drain.

        "You have to look at more than 100 years of history to understand why these groups formed," she said. "After the nationalist groups in Puerto Rico were imprisoned in the '50s, the movement changed," she added. "In the '60s, '70s and '80s these clandestine groups formed, like they did in other parts of the world, using militant tactics."

        The group attracted women from different parts of the city, as well as different professions. They felt that as women, they brought a different sensibility.

        "This was us as mothers, elders, law students and social workers standing up," said Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, a human rights lawyer and one of the group's coordinators. "There is a real different dynamic when women do it.

        "Speaking for myself," she continued, "when women organize there is a different energy that is more about righteous indignation and morality. We are the ones in society charged with the care of our society in our families. When we say it is unacceptable to see one of our brothers in this condition, we bring moral outrage but not virulent anger."

        The most recent Times Square rally was celebratory because it was the first since the announcement that Mr. López Rivera would be released in May. The women said they would continue their monthly rallies until then.

        "Our commitment is we are doing this until he returns to Puerto Rico," Ms. Bannan said. "Until he is actually home. We don't want anything to happen that would delay or impede his release. Until he is home, we will be here."



        9)  A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months

        FEB. 7, 2017

        A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica's fourth-largest ice shelf has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by the length of about five football fields each day.


        The crack in Larsen C now reaches over 100 miles in length, and some parts of it are as wide as two miles. The tip of the rift is currently only about 20 miles from reaching the other end of the ice shelf.

        Once the crack reaches all the way across the ice shelf, the break will create one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, according to Project Midas, a research team that has been monitoring the rift since 2014. Because of the amount of stress the crack is placing on the remaining 20 miles of the shelf, the team expects the break soon.

        "The iceberg is likely to break free within the next few months," said Adrian J. Luckman of Swansea University in Wales, who is a lead researcher for Project Midas. "The rift tip has moved from one region of likely softer ice to another, which explains its step-wise progress."

        The time-lapse image below shows the rift gradually widening from late 2014 to January of this year.

        Ice shelves, which form through runoff from glaciers, float in water and provide structural support to the glaciers that rest on land. When an ice shelf collapses, the glaciers behind it can accelerate toward the ocean. Higher temperatures in the region are also helping to further the ice shelf's retreat.

        If the ice shelf breaks at the crack, Larsen C will be at its smallest size ever recorded.

        That would also leave the ice front much closer to the ice shelf's compressive arch, a line that scientists say is critical for structural support. If the front retreats past that line, scientists say, the northernmost part of the shelf could collapse within months. It could also significantly change the landscape of the Antarctic peninsula.

        "At that point in time, the glaciers will react," Eric J. Rignot, a glaciologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said. "If the ice shelf breaks apart, it will remove a buttressing force on the glaciers that flow into it. The glaciers will feel less resistance to flow, effectively removing a cork in front of them."

        The crack reaches all the way
        to the bottom of the ice shelf.

        The crack in Larsen C is a third of a mile deep, down to the floor of the ice shelf.

        Scientists fear that two crucial anchor
        points will be lost as the shelf retreats.

        According to Dr. Rignot, the stability of the whole ice shelf is threatened.

        "You have these two anchors on the side of Larsen C that play a critical role in holding the ice shelf where it is," he said. "If the shelf is getting thinner, it will be more breakable and it will lose contact with the ice rises."

        Ice rises are islands that are overriden by the ice shelf, allowing them to shoulder more support of the shelf. Scientists have yet to determine the extent of thinning around the Bawden and Gipps ice rises, though Dr. Rignot noted that the Bawden ice rise was a much more vulnerable anchor.

        "We're not even sure how it's hanging on there," he said. "But if you take away Bawden, the whole shelf will feel it."

        The collapse of the Larsen C ice
        shelf may not sharply affect global
        sea level rise, but the collapse of
        other vulnerable ice shelves will.

        The Larsen A and B ice shelves disintegrated in 1995 and 2002, though both were drastically smaller than Larsen C. Neither contributed significantly to global sea level rise, however, because they were already floating above water, and the glaciers behind them did not contain a substantial volume of ice.

        According to Dr. Rignot, the collapse of Larsen C would add only a tiny amount of water to the global sea level. Of greater concern to scientists is how the collapse of ice shelves can affect the glaciers that flow behind them, because the melting of those glaciers can cause much higher levels of ocean rise. Scientists see the impending Larsen C collapse as a warning that much larger amounts of ice in West Antarctica could be vulnerable.



        10)  Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary; Pence Breaks Tie

        FEB. 7, 2017




        WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos on Tuesday as education secretary, approving the embattled nominee only with the help of a historic tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence.

        The 51-to-50 vote elevates Ms. DeVos — a wealthy donor from Michigan who has devoted much of her life to expanding educational choice through charter schools and vouchers, but has limited experience with the public school system — to be steward of the nation's schools.

        51 votes will ensure confirmation

        Two Republicans voted against Ms. DeVos's confirmation, a sign that some members of President Trump's party are willing to go against him, possibly foreshadowing difficulty on some of the president's more contentious legislative priorities.

        It was the first time that a vice president has been summoned to the Capitol to break a tie on a cabinet nomination, according to the Senate historian.

        The two Republicans who voted against the nominee, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, announced their opposition to her last week. In back-to-back floor speeches, the lawmakers said Ms. DeVos was unqualified because of a lack of familiarity with public schools and with laws meant to protect students, despite her passion for helping them.

        Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski said they had also been influenced by the thousands of messages they had received urging them to reject the nomination.

        Despite clamorous objections to Ms. DeVos from teachers' unions and even some charter organizations that typically oppose them, opponents nonetheless fell shy of defeating her nomination. Most Republicans described her as committed and determined to put what is best for children above all else.

        Ms. DeVos has focused on expanding parental choice in education and embracing charter schools, but also on vouchers that can allow students to use taxpayer dollars to pay tuition at private, religious and for-profit schools.



        11)  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.



        12)  First Amendment Support Climbing Among High School Students

        FEB. 7, 2017




        High school students protesting outside the Supreme Court building in Washington.CreditSusan Walsh/Associated Press 

        Support among American high school students for the First Amendment is stronger today than it has been in the last 12 years, according to the latest in a series of large nationwide surveys of the nation's rising voters.

        Some 91 percent of high school students say they believe that individuals should be allowed to express unpopular opinions, according to a Knight Foundation survey of nearly 12,000 students conducted last year. The survey is the sixth in a series, the first of which was carried out in 2004, when 83 percent supported such rights.

        "What we've seen since 2004 is a slow but steady increase in support," said Kenneth Dautrich, the study's lead author and the president of the Stats Group, a statistical and data services firm.

        Here's a look at some of the top findings.

        Support, but with limits

        High school students may broadly back the First Amendment, but not without limits: Their support is tempered depending on the kind of speech and where it's delivered.

        "While support for the First Amendment as a general concept has never been higher, the devil's in the details," said Jonathan Sotsky, director of strategy and assessment for the Knight Foundation.

        Ninety-one percent of the students may support the right to express unpopular opinions in general, but only half as many — 45 percent — support that right when the speech in question is offensive to others and made in public. Bullying speech enjoys slightly less backing, and students are even less supportive of either kind of speech when it's delivered on social media.

        High School Students Support Free Speech, With Limits 

        Share who support the right to express various forms of speech. 

        Unpopular opinions
        Offensive speech, in public
        Offensive speech, on social media
        Bullying speech, in public
        Bullying speech, on social media

        Students trust individuals over institutions

        Many students find little sacred in professional reporting: More than half put as much or more trust in photos, videos and accounts shared by individuals online than in traditional news sources. The 726 teachers surveyed, however, were far more skeptical of the online postings.

        Students may have faith in firsthand accounts shared online, but they are still generally wary of the news they see there. Eighty-two percent said they had "some" or "a lot" of trust in the information found in newspapers, compared with 77 percent for television news and 70 percent for news websites. Just 49 percent reported similar levels of trust in news shared on social media.

        Trust in New — and Old — Sources of Information 

        How do photos, videos and accounts individuals share online compare to traditional news? 

        Much more trustworthy
        Somewhat more
        Somewhat less
        Much less

        Students get their news on mobile devices

        The survey results suggest that high school students and adults differ greatly in how they consume news.

        Students are almost twice as likely as adults to "often" use mobile devices for news and nearly three times as likely to report "often" getting news from social media. Adults are much more likely to report "often" getting news from local TV and newspapers.

        News Consumption Habits 

        Share of each population that reports "often" using a medium as a source of news. 

        Mobile devices
        Social media
        Local TV
        Printed newspapers

        They are less concerned with privacy

        Students are far less concerned about their privacy on the internet than adults, according to the survey. But that is changing: In 2016, 76 percent were somewhat or very concerned about privacy online, compared with 70 percent two years earlier.

        Concern for Information Privacy Online 

        Students, 2016
        Students, 2014
        Very concerned
        Somewhat concerned
        Not too concerned
        Not concerned at all



        13)  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."



        14)  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.













































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