The Prison in Twelve Landscapes at USF Human Rights Film Fest

Saturday, 4:30pm – 6:30pm, 


Presentation Theater

2350 Turk Blvd



More people are imprisoned in the United States at this moment than in any other time or place in history, yet the prison itself has never felt further away or more out of sight.


film has been awarded Best Canadian Documentary and Honorable Mention at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival 2016; Best Documentary and Alliance of Women Film Journalists EDA Award at DOXA Documentary Film Festival 2016.






Solidarity Training: Migra Watch Hotline (Must register)

Sunday, 12Noon – 2:00pm, 


East  Bay Community Space

507 –  55th Street



Please register here: http://bit.ly/2muAGBH
By attending a Solidarity Training you will receive training to volunteer your time to document and monitor ICE officials during raids in real-time. The Solidarity Training will cover:
Overview of ICE raids, tactics and strategies
Operation of Migra Watch hotline
Rights & Risks of legal observers
Accompaniment overview

The goal is to equip you with the tools and information for you to register with ILM as a legal observer and be ready to respond to ICE raid alerts


Migra Watch is a program of the Immigrant Liberation Movement (ILM), which was created by the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, East Bay Immigrant Youth Coalition, Faith in Action Bay Area/PICO California, and Pangea Legal Services in the Fall of 2016. 




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.



Responding to Mental Health Crisis Without the Police: A Community Conversation

When: April 8, 2017 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Where: Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists

1924 Cedar St

Berkeley, CA 94709



What can mental health care and crisis response look like without police involvement? Join the Justice 4 Kayla Moore Coalition and Berkeley Copwatch for a forum to address that question. The forum will feature individuals and organizations who are fighting for, building and living out mental health alternatives to the police. We will also discuss next steps for our campaign to fight for changes in how our communities and the City of Berkeley approach mental health crises.



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.






USLAW supports the April 29th DC People's Climate March ... but ...

The organizers of the multi-issue People's Climate March tell us they're discussing whether and how to include peace in the agenda. 

Please encourage them by adding your name to the petition below, by re-tweeting it, by sharing it on facebook, and by forwarding this email.Thanks!!

Will you stand for peace?
A petition to the organizers of the
April 29 People's Climate March

PeoplesClimate.org website calls for a march on Washington on April 29, 2017, to "unite all our movements" for "communities," "climate," "safety," "health," "the rights of people of color, workers, indigenous people, immigrants, women, LGBTQIA, young people," and a much longer list . . . but not peace

Approximately half of federal discretionary spending is going into wars and war preparation. This institution constitutes our single biggest destroyer of the environment. [One reason peace is an environmental issue - see others below.] 

Will you please add "peace" to the list of things you are marching for?


    1. War is an environmental nightmare that continues to poison people and the planet long after the fighting ends.

    2. The Pentagon is the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world.

    3. The Pentagon is the largest emitter of CO2 gases in the world.

    4. Wars are fought for oil and other energy resources. The U.S. drive for global hegemony is intimately bound up with its aim to control energy resources.

    5. The military consumes 54% of all discretionary spending. War and preparation for war divert financial and human resources needed to meet social needs (including investment in renewable energy and a sustainable energy system).

    6. The manufacture of arms and other military gear adds considerably to the carbon burden of the world.

    7. The military-industrial complex is fully integrated with and dependent upon the fossil fuel energy complex, serving as its enforcer as well as its client.

    8. To successfully address the climate crisis requires creating a sustainable new economy, but that is impossible so long as our economy remains dominated by the military-industrial-security-energy complex.

    9. To achieve a just transition to a new sustainable economy will require the environmental movement see its connection to movements for social justice, economic justice and peace.  The quest for peace is also a social justice struggle.

    The environmental movement must stop avoiding the connection between our militarized foreign policy and the challenge of climate change. 

Your contribution will be greatly appreciated. 

This is a low-volume email list operated by US Labor Against the War

1718 M St, NW #153 | Washington DC 20036 | 202-521-5265 | Contact USLAW



Updates from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Is this email not displaying correctly?

View it in your browser.

Committee to Stop FBI Repression (stopfbi.net)

Rasmea Odeh accepts a plea agreement with no prison time

Rasmea Odeh, the 69-year old Palestinian American community leader who was tortured and sexually assaulted by the Israeli military in 1969, is bringing to a close her battle to win justice from the U.S. legal system.

After living in this country for over 20 years, Rasmea was charged in 2013 with an immigration violation that was always just a pretext for a broader attempt to criminalize the Palestine liberation movement. She has spent the last three and a half years leading a powerful battle to resist this attack, joined by hundreds of supporters for every court appearance, and thousands of supporters across the country and the world. However, the prospects for a fair trial are slimmer than ever. The prosecution team is now under the regime of racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and a new superseding indictment re-frames this as a case about "terrorism" rather than immigration. There is the great likelihood that a jury would be prejudiced by hearing the zionist Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel call Rasmea a "terrorist" and her supporters "mobs and hordes," as he has done many times before. As a Palestinian who has dedicated her life to the cause of liberation, it is impossible for Rasmea to expect a fair trial in U.S. courts.

In 1969, as a college student, Rasmea was arrested by the Israeli police, along with as many as 500 others, and accused of involvement in two bombings. She was horrifically tortured for 25 days (including electric shocks and sexual assault), as was her father in her presence; and then tried before a kangaroo Israeli military court.  This tribunal has military officers, and not civilians, as prosecutors and judges, and convicts over 99% of its Palestinian prisoners. She was found guilty based on a confession coerced through torture, and then given a life sentence. In 1979, she was freed with other Palestinians in a prisoner exchange.

In her 2014 trial in U.S. federal court, where she was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison for allegedly giving false answers to questions on her applications for permanent residency and citizenship, Judge Gershwin Drain prohibited the defense from challenging the legality of the military tribunal or offering proof of her innocence of the bombings. She was also not allowed to put forward that she suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the torture, but she won an appeal and a new trial expressly based on the excluded torture evidence. Its back against the wall, the government then filed a vindictive new superseding indictment that falsely accused Rasmea of being a "terrorist" and a member of a "designated terrorist organization."

Under this current, racist political climate, and facing 18 months or more of imprisonment, as well as the possibility of indefinite detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Rasmea has made the difficult decision to accept a plea agreement. She will plead guilty to Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, lose her U.S. citizenship, and be forced to leave the country, but will exit the U.S. without having to serve any more time in prison or ICE detention, a victory, considering that the government had earlier fought for a sentence of 5-7 years.  Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch and Tukel clearly want to dodge a public and legal defense that puts U.S.-backed Israel on trial for its crimes against Rasmea and its continuing crimes against the Palestinian people as a whole.

Through a massive, organized defense campaign, Rasmea Odeh—a long-time icon of the Palestine liberation movement—is now a name known in every corner of the movement for social justice in the U.S.  From the Movement for Black Lives in Ferguson, Chicago, and beyond, to the call for a global #WomenStrike on International Women's Day, Rasmea has become synonymous with resilience and resistance. This fight not only brought her story to the U.S. and the world, but also pushed forward the cause of the liberation of Palestine. She exposed Israel for what it is – a racist occupier and colonizer – and put its policy of torture and sexual assault on the permanent record in a U.S. court of law.

We had practical victories too. When the first judge assigned to Rasmea's case was exposed as a lifelong supporter of Israel, and it was then found that he had direct financial ties that affirmed this bias, he was forced to remove himself from the case. After the first trial led to a conviction that did not hold up under appeal, Rasmea was taken immediately into custody. Supporters mobilized to demand her release. Within weeks, the movement had helped to post her bond, and Rasmea was back in Chicago, planning her successful appeal and continuing her important community organizing. And Rasmea never once walked into a courthouse alone. Whether by the dozens or the hundreds, at every hearing, every day of trial, from Detroit to Cincinnati, we were with her.

Rasmea's choice today was not easy, but nothing in this journey has been, and our support continues to be critical. Soon, a hearing date will be set for Judge Drain to consider the plea agreement. We will again call for All Out to Detroit and stand beside her on that difficult day.  After that, Rasmea will continue her incredible organizing work wherever she is, and so will we.

As she said to supporters outside the courthouse after the initial verdict, "There is justice in this world, we will find it. We will face injustice and we have to change this world, not just in this country, in all the world in all the places there is no justice, we have to bring the justice together. In spite of everything, we are the stronger people, not the government who is unjust."

The case of Rasmea Odeh presents us all with an example of how to resist. The current political climate is formidable. The Muslim Ban, attacks on Latino immigrants and Black people, the cuts to programs serving women … these and other attacks will call on each of us to be unwavering, like Rasmea; to be consistent like her supporters; and to never run scared or fall silent in the face of injustice.

Rasmea Defense Committee, led by U.S. Palestinian Community Network and Committee to Stop FBI Repression

March 23rd, 2017



Copyright © 2017 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



Former Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera who recently received a commutation of his sentence  from President Obama will be coming to the Bay Area on Wednesday, May 31st.  This will be a memorable event, not to be missed!

Welcome Oscar Lopez Rivera 

  Oscar is Free and Coming to the Bay Area May 31st

           Oscar Lopez Rivera is coming to the Bay Area after 36 years in prison for his struggle in support for independence and sovereignty for Puerto Rican Independence. Help us support Oscar as he continues his work by making a financial commitment as he begins his new life.

            He will be visiting the Bay Area for a unique one time only public appearance on May 31st. For many of us, this is a welcome opportunity to celebrate his release and our shared victory. Let us show our support for Oscar in his new endeavors.

Please make a generous donation now: https://www.gofundme.com/welcomeoscar

Let us show Oscar that the SF Bay Area community supports him as he continues to advocate for sovereignty and independence for Puerto Rico. We look forward to seeing you in May.

Save the date: Wed. May 31, 2017  
                                 Recepcion 5pm
                                 Program 7pm - Place still to be determined 

For more information: freeoscarnow@gmail.com www.facebook.com/WelcomeOscartotheBayArea





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

        The Nation

        Working Families



        Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

        Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

        Dear Supporters and Friends,

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

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

        My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

                                  Lorenzo's wife,

                                   Tazza Salvatto

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

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

        Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                    DF 1036

                    SCI Mahanoy

                    301 Morea Rd.

                    Frackville, PA 17932

         Email: Through JPay using the code:

                      Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                      Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                      Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

        Have a wonderful day!

        - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

        Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                    DF 1036

                    SCI Mahanoy

                    301 Morea Rd.

                    Frackville, PA 17932

         Email: Through JPay using the code:

                      Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                      Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com












        1)  Shed a Tear for the Reefs

         MARCH 18, 2017


        Reports that the Great Barrier Reef is dying come ever more frequently, ever more urgently. There is no mystery about the reason — it's global warming, caused by the fossil fuels we burn. If we stopped heating the oceans, parts of the great reef off Australia's north coast and other spectacular coral reefs around the world could still recover. The alternative is to weep at the loss of one of the most spectacular sights on earth, as the author of the latest report and his students did on examining charts of the damage.

        The death of coral reefs is a tragedy on many levels. There is the sheer beauty of the forests of brightly colored corals and the equally kaleidoscopic fish they harbor, a panorama that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. There's their extraordinary variety and value: Coral reefs are found in shallow waters in only 0.2 percent of the oceans, yet they support a quarter of all marine life and provide protein for millions of people. Finally, there is the role of the coral reefs as the alarm system of the oceans: Highly sensitive to the temperature of water, the reefs can die from an increase of only two or three degrees Fahrenheit. The vast stretches of bleached coral speak to oceans in deep trouble.

        Last year was particularly disastrous for the Great Barrier Reef. The periodic heating of the Pacific Ocean known as El Niño, combined with the continuing warming of the seas from climate change, caused mass bleaching along vast stretches of the 1,400-mile-long reef. In theory, the return of cooler waters could restore them, but that's not what's happening.

        Researchers led by Prof. Terry Hughes of James Cook University in Australia, the lead author of a report on the reef in the current issue of the journal Nature, were surprised at the extent of the damage. "We didn't expect to see this level of destruction to the Great Barrier Reef for another 30 years," he told The Times. In the north, he said, two-thirds of the reefs are dead. And Australian government efforts to curtail dredging and pollution were not helping. "The reefs in dirty water were just as fried as those in pristine water," he said.

        To the scientists, there is no mystery as to what needs to be done. There never was. Decades ago they warned that with global warming, coral reefs would not be able to survive natural temperature spikes, like the one brought on by El Niño. Surveys of the Great Barrier Reef conducted by Professor Hughes from low-flying aircraft showed that extensive patches of reef may be beyond saving. These are the surveys that brought him and his students to tears.

        There is really only one way to save coral reefs, and by extension the oceans and the world, and that is to fight climate change. At this juncture, that means defending the 2015 Paris agreement to limit the increase in global temperatures. The Obama administration played a major role in fashioning the agreement, which 194 countries have signed. Backsliding now would guarantee more bleached reefs, and worse.



        2)  A Texas Woman 'Voted Like a U.S. Citizen.' Only She Wasn't.

         MARCH 18, 2017




        When Rosa Maria Ortega was a teenager, her mother was deported to her native Mexico after being arrested twice.

        As she grew up, Ms. Ortega decided to take a different route. Lacking a high school diploma, she signed up for the Job Corps at age 18 and snagged a position at a state employment office.

        In 2012, she registered to vote, and not only cast ballots in the next two elections but served as a poll worker. Divorced, she raised four children, now teenagers, sometimes working three jobs.

        "When my mom was here, she did everything illegal," Ms. Ortega, 37, said in an interview. "I wasn't going to let that happen to me."

        She may not have a choice. Ms. Ortega, of Grand Prairie, Tex., a suburb between Dallas and Fort Worth, is a permanent resident with a green card, but she is not an American citizen. In a case that made national headlines last month, she was found guilty, fined $5,000 and sentenced to eight years in prison because the ballots she cast in 2012 and 2014 were illegal. While green-card holders have many of the rights of citizens, they cannot vote.

        If the verdict is upheld, she will serve her sentence and, in all likelihood, be deported to Mexico. For green-card holders, a criminal conviction is effectively a ticket for deportation.

        Her punishment may be unprecedented for an offense that often draws a minimal sentence or probation. Ms. Ortega, who has a seventh-grade education and a sometimes shaky grasp on the complexities of her life, has steadfastly insisted that she did not know she was violating the law — that she is being imprisoned and probably deported for the crime of being confused.

        "I thought I was doing something right," Ms. Ortega said. "It wasn't to hurt somebody, or the state, or the government. I even worked for the government.

        "I voted like a U.S. citizen," she said. "The only thing is, I didn't know I couldn't vote."

        The case resonates in a polarized political environment where some are convinced that immigrants threaten to upend the nation's shared values more than they continue its long history of accepting and assimilating outsiders. Ms. Ortega's lawyers say they believe the severity of the sentence stems from the furor over immigration and false claims about voter fraud raised by Donald J. Trump's nationalistic presidential campaign.

        One of Ms. Ortega's lawyers, Domingo Garcia, said the case also raised questions about equality in the justice system. He cited a case three years ago in Fort Worth, in which a 16-year-old boy from a wealthy white family was sentenced to probation for a drunken-driving crash that killed four and seriously injured two. The boy's lawyers argued that he was so spoiled that he did not realize that there were limits on his behavior, the now notorious "affluenza" defense.

        Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican who brought the fraud charges, has applauded Ms. Ortega's sentence, saying that it "shows how serious Texas is about keeping its elections secure."

        Ms. Ortega said she had voted for Mr. Paxton as well as Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama's Republican rival in 2012, after being persuaded by the conservative father of her fiancé, Oscar Sherman.

        The outlines of Ms. Ortega's offense are mostly undisputed. While living in neighboring Dallas County, she registered to vote before the 2012 election, checking a box on the registration form that certified that she was a United States citizen. After voting in 2012 and 2014, she moved to Fort Worth's Tarrant County in 2015, where she registered to vote again — this time, ticking the box that indicated she was not a citizen.

        When her registration was rejected, she called elections officials, telling them that she had voted in Dallas. Told that people who checked the noncitizen box were ineligible to vote, she reapplied, this time indicating that she was a citizen. An elections worker who remembered her earlier comment about voting in Dallas became suspicious, and forwarded the application to the authorities.

        Ms. Ortega was jailed on charges of voting fraud, a felony, and false statements on a registration application, a misdemeanor. State prosecutors argued that her actions and statements showed that she had intended to break the law, although they offered no explanation of why she would have sought to vote illegally.

        A jury of 10 women and two men convicted her of the fraud charges, but the misdemeanor has yet to be adjudicated. After a month in jail, she was released on bail. Her four children have been placed with an ex-husband with whom she has scant contact.

        Ms. Ortega's lawyers are casting her as a scapegoat. The case, they say, was manufactured to prop up Mr. Trump's baseless voter-fraud claims and an anti-fraud law by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature that tightens qualifications for voting. Federal courts have ruled that the latest version of that law discriminates against Latinos and other groups that tend to favor Democratic candidates.

        In the court of public opinion, they have had some success. Ms. Ortega's conviction has drawn an outcry in editorials and from advocacy groups. Supporters contributed several thousand dollars to an online fund-raiser aimed at supporting her family while she was imprisoned.

        Ms. Ortega's fate rests not with the public but with a Texas appeals court. Should her lawyers fail to win a new trial, they have one more option: an appeal to the Fort Worth judge who oversaw her trial and conviction. The judge can reduce Ms. Ortega's eight-year sentence to probation, a decision that would give federal immigration officials legal discretion to rescind her deportation, assuming no other problems crop up.

        But that option may be closing. On Friday, the Tarrant County criminal district attorney, Sharen Wilson, a Republican who has worked with Mr. Paxton's office on Ms. Ortega's prosecution, notified defense lawyers of a meeting on the misdemeanor charge of falsely filing a registration application. A decision to prosecute her on that charge could complicate any effort to avoid her deportation, another of Ms. Ortega's lawyers, Clark Birdsall, said.

        A spokeswoman for Ms. Wilson, Samantha Jordan, declined to comment on Ms. Ortega's case, but said the meeting was a routine status conference.

        By registering and voting, Mr. Birdsall said, Ms. Ortega hoped to give her children a course in citizenship.

        "Her whole act of voting was an example to her kids," he said. "She told them, 'This is what you're going to be doing. You have to have your voice heard.'"

        Ms. Ortega said they had come away with an entirely different lesson.

        Continue reading the main stor



        3)  In Berlin, a Grass-Roots Fight Against Gentrification as Rents Soar

         MARCH 18, 2017




        BERLIN — When visitors want to experience this city's much celebrated "alternative" culture, they often make their way to Heinrichplatz, a graffiti-covered square in the Kreuzberg neighborhood that for decades has been a hub for independent arts, underground night life and radical politics.

        But on a recent Saturday afternoon, the usual clusters of selfie-snapping tourists and cafegoers were met by hundreds of demonstrators carrying signs that read, "We're all staying" or "Say no to crowding out," and protesting rising rents, forced evictions and rampant real estate speculation.

        "Massive crowding is happening to the extent that a lot of people can't pay their rent, or they are having their leases canceled for the slightest triviality," said Sara Walther, one of the organizers, stubbing out a rolled cigarette. "People are finally starting to defend themselves."

        Over the past decade, people have poured into Berlin, attracted by its relative affordability, cultural wealth and anything-goes spirit. But now the city is trying to regulate what has elsewhere proved to be unstoppable: gentrification.

        Under pressure from a growing grass-roots movement, the city authorities have put into effect a slate of measures, including rent caps, a partial ban on vacation rentals, development-free zones and increased social housing subsidies. The goal is to bridle the bullish housing market and conserve the diverse social and cultural makeup of the city center.

        "The problem of rising rents and lack of living space is one of the most important issues for Berlin," said Petra Rohland, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Urban Development and Housing.

        Not long ago, these problems would have been unthinkable. With the reunification of Germany in 1990, this city was littered with uninhabited buildings and large sections of valuable but disused land along the strip where the Berlin Wall once stood. To spur development, city officials sold off land and more than 110,000 government-owned apartments to foreign investors, while also funding urban renewal campaigns.

        At the same time, a government program to subsidize some apartments was eliminated, meaning that as Berlin became a popular destination in the late 2000s, it was fertile ground for rampant rent hikes.

        Last year, more than 60,000 people arrived here, a pace similar to much larger cities. Prices have soared in fashionable districts like Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, where rents rose in the past decade by more than 80 percent, according to data from the Empirica Institute, which tracks property prices. But incomes in Berlin remain relatively low, with more than half the population qualifying for public housing, meaning that many longtime residents and other low earners are being priced out.

        "People have lived and worked here for a long time, and even if they aren't making much money, they are part of the city," said Malte Voss, a freelance videographer who is part of an embattled tenant collective at Lausitzer 10-11, a brick loft complex that houses artist studios, workshops and left-leaning nongovernmental organizations. "They are the reason Kreuzberg is like it is."

        Late last year, the tenant collective learned that its landlord, Taekker, a Danish development firm, intended to sell the building to private investors who planned a conversion to luxury loft apartments.

        The tenants set up a publicity team and, with informal support from the city, began negotiations with Taekker.

        "More and more tenants are organizing themselves," Wibke Werner, deputy director of the Berlin Tenants' Association, said. "Not since the squatter movement of the '70s and '80s has there been so much momentum."

        Today, the streets of Kreuzberg are peppered with stickers, fliers and graffiti expressing support for grass-roots coalitions. One group, Bizim Kiez, came together in 2015 in defense of a Turkish family-owned grocery store threatened by eviction. The eviction was eventually canceled under heavy public pressure, but last year its owner was forced to give up the store, Bizim Bakkal, because of health problems that he said had stemmed from the fight with the landlord.

        The phrase "Bizim bleibt," or "Bizim stays" became a rallying cry for the wider movement and gave birth to the Bizim Kiez organization, which is fighting to maintain diversity in the neighborhood.

        After tenant outcry, the city also saved at least two apartment blocks in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg from being sold, using a legal tool known as the "right of first refusal," which lets officials intervene if they can find funding for the purchase. In another case, the city recently stepped in and purchased a large disused freight station in the eastern district of Köpenick, which it plans to convert into affordable housing.

        But like the "right of first refusal" rule, which depends on flush state funding, many of the anti-gentrification measures have limitations. The system of rent caps, which forbids landlords to charge more than 10 percent above the district average for a new rental contract, has many exceptions and loopholes. Often, landlords simply ignore it.

        "People are happy if they find an apartment in the city they can afford," said Ms. Werner of the tenants' association. "It's not the first thing they do to enter into a conflict with their landlord."

        More effective are the so-called milieuschutz laws, translated as "social environment protection," meant to prevent landlords from imposing expensive renovations that would effectively price out the current tenants. Today, there are more than 30 milieuschutz zones in Berlin, with more expected, though the protections are not ironclad. These zones prevent landlords from converting rental apartments to condos — unless they promise to sell only to current tenants for a period of seven years.

        "But then it's very probable the landlord will try to kick out the tenants and sell the condos for lots of money," Ms. Werner said. "We think the transition from rental to condos should be forbidden totally."

        Amid so much grass-roots resistance, there are concerns that all of this new regulation will create an undue burden on property owners and frighten away potential investors.

        "These measures lead to a significant restriction of property investment," said Carsten Brückner, chairman of the German homeowners' association Haus & Grund. "Everyone has the right to live everywhere. That this possibility is also dependent on the economic performance of the individual should not surprise us."

        The rent caps and milieuschutz laws, he added, combine to make modernization difficult, if not impossible, leading to "deterioration of the property portfolio."

        Yet there are also concerns that the booming property market is not sustainable. Recent figures released by the German Property Federation show that purchase prices on residential real estate in Berlin grew by 94 percent from 2010 to 2016, while rents increased by only 40 percent. This gap seems to be widening, the report says, "which generally raises concern for a real estate bubble."

        Johannes Novy, a prominent German urbanist, said Berlin's affordability, mixed social makeup and spirit of experimentation "are what made it attractive to begin with." The recent regulation and grass-roots organizing are positive steps, he said, "but many of these measures have come far too late, and at this point it's very difficult to stem the tide."

        What is at stake in the current debate, many say, is the very heart of the city.

        "In a typical capitalist city, gentrification and pricing out is normal," said David Schuster, one of the organizers of the Kreuzberg protest, which ended up drawing more than 1,000 people, far more than expected. "But that's not what we want."

        Manuel Kony, a 28-year-old sales manager watching the demonstration from the side of the street, said balance should be the goal. "I think you have to find an equilibrium, where people can find reasonable rental prices, but the city is still allowed to develop further," he said.

        "Otherwise, you end up with a kind of banlieue situation," he added, referring to the crime-ridden exurban districts that have garnered so many headlines in France. "Do we really want what happened in Paris?"



        4)  Arkansas's Cruel and Unusual Killing Spree

         MARCH 20, 2017





        Arkansas's plan to execute eight men in 11 days next month is a recipe for disaster, one entirely of the state's making.

        Although the state has not put anyone to death since November 2005, it now says that it must execute two people per day on April 17, 20, 24 and 27 because its current supply of midazolam, one of its three execution drugs, will expire at the end of the month.

        This will be the fastest spate of executions in any state in more than 40 years, placing extraordinary pressure on the execution team and increasing the risk of errors. What's more, the state's rationale for the schedule — the expiration date on its supply of midazolam, a common sedative — is faulty, because the drug shouldn't be used in executions in the first place.

        According to 16 pharmacology professors who signed an amicus brief for the Supreme Court, there is "overwhelming scientific consensus" that midazolam is incapable of inducing the "deep, comalike unconsciousness" necessary to ensure a humane and constitutional execution. (We have consulted with lawyers working on a number of the midazolam cases.)

        In several botched executions over the past several years, midazolam did not perform as intended or caused prolonged suffering before finally killing the inmate. When Alabama executed Ronald Smith in December, he struggled for 13 minutes after the execution team administered midazolam. Mr. Smith's chest heaved, and he gasped and coughed and clenched his fist before the second drug paralyzed him.

        After Ohio's execution team gave Dennis McGuire midazolam in January 2014, he struggled and gasped for air. Witnesses said he made snorting and choking sounds until he died, almost 30 minutes later. A federal court blocked the state from continuing to use the drug, finding that midazolam will create "a substantial risk of serious harm."

        Joseph Wood responded similarly during his July 2014 execution in Arizona — except that he gasped and heaved for almost two hours, even though he received 15 times the supposedly lethal dose of midazolam. In response to this episode and to litigation, the Arizona Department of Corrections announced in December that it would never again use midazolam in an execution.

        The execution of Clayton Lockett by Oklahoma in April 2014 was particularly gruesome. A doctor and a paramedic struggled to set two IVs in Mr. Lockett's veins and eventually put one in a vein in his groin. Ten minutes after the doctor injected him with midazolam through that vein, he declared Mr. Lockett unconscious. But the IV became dislodged, and the next two drugs administered went into surrounding tissue instead of his bloodstream.

        Mr. Lockett regained consciousness, which indicated that the midazolam had not kept him insensate to the pain of the subsequent drugs, and began to writhe and yell. It took 40 minutes for him to die.

        Mr. Lockett's execution is a cautionary tale, not only about the failures of midazolam as an execution drug, but also about the perils of performing executions back to back. Oklahoma had planned to execute an inmate named Charles Warner the same day as Mr. Lockett, but canceled the second execution after the disastrous outcome of the first.

        Investigators from the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety subsequently interviewed the execution team and found that several of them commented on "the feeling of extra stress" for all staff created by scheduling two executions on the same day. The state's report recommended that executions not be scheduled within seven calendar days of one another "due to manpower and facility concerns."

        If Arkansas were to heed the warning of Oklahoma's investigators, it would schedule its eight executions over two months. Instead, Arkansas's execution team, which has not performed an execution in over a decade and has never performed an execution with midazolam, faces a daunting and relentless schedule of two executions per day, repeated four times over 11 days. The pressure on the team will be immense, and it will make mistakes more likely in a situation in which there is no margin for error.

        There's no need for Arkansas to act so recklessly. While Gov. Asa Hutchinson has doubted whether the state will be able to get midazolam in the future, the state has not supported the claim that the drug is unavailable. To be sure, some pharmaceutical companies, including some of the manufacturers of midazolam, do not want to be associated with executions and have made their products unavailable for such use. But other states have obtained midazolam for executions. Ohio, for example, twice purchased large quantities of the drug at the end of 2016.

        We have seen this before. For years, states have cited concerns about drug availability to justify extreme secrecy and recklessness in their efforts to get drugs and perform executions. Arkansas is following this playbook to defend rushing through eight executions with a drug that science and experience tell us is wholly inadequate for the task and has already resulted in gruesome executions.

        The fact that Arkansas's supply of midazolam is about to expire does not justify a rushed execution schedule with a dangerous and unreliable drug. The need is nonexistent, and the risk is enormous.



        5)  In Maine, Portland Tries a New Tactic With Panhandlers: Hiring Them

         MARCH 21, 2017




        The complaints poured into City Hall in Portland, the scenic city in Maine with cobblestone streets and waterfront parks. Panhandlers were taking over sidewalks, clogging busy intersections and scaring off tourists.

        City officials responded in the same manner as their counterparts across the country — with force. Starting in 2013, they outlawed begging on street medians, saying it was a public safety issue. After a federal court struck down that law, Portland bulldozed a strip in the middle of a road that had proved popular with beggars.

        Despite the aggressive approach, panhandlers did not disappear.

        So starting in April, Portland plans to try a new tactic. The city will hire a few panhandlers a day, pay them $10.68 an hour, the city's minimum wage, and assign them to clean parks and public spaces.

        The Portland city manager, Jon Jennings, said it was time to think of another solution and believes this one will help everyone. He hopes to eventually be able to convert some of the jobs into full-time work with the city, he said, and Portland's parks will be more beautiful.

        "It's so they don't feel the need to stand on a corner and ask for money, and they can move on to a life of productivity," Mr. Jennings, who joined the city in 2015, said in an interview. "We are a city that really embraces people who, of no fault of their own, fall on hard times."

        The plan is more than a just stark reversal for Portland, the harbor city of 66,000 people about 100 miles north of Boston that is Maine's economic hub. It is a small but significant shift from the disciplinary approach used by cities nationwide in dealing with panhandlers and homeless people.

        Other cities have tried different tactics. Los Angeles and Dallas have cleaned out campsites to force homeless people farther away from central business districts. Panhandlers in Raleigh, N.C., can only legally ask for money if they have city-issued permits. Honolulu has made it illegal to sit in some areas. Bossier City in Louisiana has imposed stricter laws on panhandling. Last month in Juneau, the capital of Alaska, city leaders made it illegal to sleep outside in parts of downtown.

        Several courts, including the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which struck down Portland's law against begging on median strips in 2015, have increasingly taken an unfavorable view of panhandling ordinances, saying they infringe on people's First Amendment rights.

        "These laws are still on the rise," said Maria Foscarinis, the founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty in Washington. "We have begun chipping away at the trend, and there is an increasing realization among some cities that this is not a good approach."

        Portland is following several other cities. A year and a half ago, Albuquerque implemented a jobs programs that pays $9 an hour. Since then, more than 1,750 jobs have been handed out and over 60 tons of litter have been removed, according to the city. In Chicag, panhandlers receive $55 a day to pick up trash.

        Starting in the morning in Portland, a few dozen panhandlers gather at busy street corners in the city and outside the picturesque storefronts downtown. Not everyone who begs is homeless, but at night between 400 and 500 people sleep at one of the five shelters in Portland, said Mark Swann, the executive director of Preble Street, which operates two of the centers and a soup kitchen.

        Mr. Swann said that some residents in Portland have complained loudly to City Hall in recent years about panhandlers and homeless people, falsely suggesting that generous social services and waterfront views are a magnet for them. "The vast majority of them are sleeping on a thin rubber mat 10 inches apart from a stranger," he said.

        Mr. Swann added: "We are barely keeping people alive. That's what we are really doing."

        The jobs program in Portland will work similar to the one in Alburquerque. A city worker will drive a van to hot spots for panhandlers and offer jobs until five people accept. Participants will be served breakfast, receive on-the-job training and get paid only after completing six hours of work.

        It will initially operate two days a week from April to November during a trial run. The city is looking for outside funding to pay for it. One funding possibility is through the federal government's $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which President Trump has proposed eliminating.

        There is plenty of work to go around, Mr. Jennings said. Portland is trying to upgrade its 721 acres of parkland, nearly as large as Central Park but has limited staff members, including only one horticulturist.

        "We are always looking for extremely talented people in the city," he said.



        6)  Wyclef Jean Is Briefly Detained and Handcuffed in Los Angeles

         MARCH 21, 2017




        Wyclef Jean, the hip-hop artist, said he was handcuffed and briefly detained by deputies in Los Angeles on Tuesday after they mistook him for a suspect in a robbery near the studio where he had been working.

        In a short video message on Twitter early in the morning, the musician was shown standing in the dark next to a patrol car with his hands behind his back. It was unclear who was shooting video.

        "L.A., right now, coming from the studio," Mr. Jean said. "Y'all see the police have handcuffs on me. They just took off my Haitian bandanna. That's what's going on right now with Wyclef in L.A. right now. The L.A.P.D. have me in cuffs for absolutely nothing."

        Sgt. C. Duncan, an officer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood, confirmed that Mr. Jean had been briefly detained. The episode started just after 1 a.m. Pacific time, when deputies were investigating a report that a man and a woman had been robbed at gunpoint and beaten at a Sunset Boulevard intersection.

        Sgt. Duncan said in a telephone interview that the suspect was described as a black man with a dark hoodie who fled in a gold or tan Toyota. At about 1:25 a.m., deputies pulled over a vehicle matching that description driven by a woman with a male passenger. When the man, who later turned out to be Mr. Jean, was seen wearing a red bandana, the victims, contacted by radio, said that the suspect had also been wearing one, Sgt. Duncan said.

        Mr. Jean and the woman were told to get out of the car, and Mr. Jean was handcuffed and detained, Sgt. Duncan said. They were released when the victims said there was no female in the getaway car, and the three deputies and the sergeant at the location with Mr. Jean were also informed that the real suspect had been arrested elsewhere.

        Sgt. Duncan said the entire episode — from when Mr. Jean was pulled over until he was allowed to leave — lasted six minutes. Mr. Jean was given a business card and told that he could go to the sheriff's station and speak to officials there about what had happened.

        Mr. Jean's first tweet was posted at 4 a.m. Eastern, and was followed by a series of them describing what happened.

        Around 9 a.m., he summed up, "I was asked by the police to put my hands up. Then I was told do not move. I was instantly hand cuffed before being asked to identify myself."

        Asked to respond to Mr. Jean's remarks that he had identified himself, Sgt. Duncan said: "Just because someone tells me their name I have to verify it through legal means."

        The woman in the vehicle with Mr. Jean identified herself as Mr. Jean's manager, he said.

        Mr. Jean's descriptions about what happened to him were circulated on Twitter, with some remarking that it was an example of how quickly black men are treated as suspects in their encounters with law enforcement officers.

        A native of Haiti who grew up in New Jersey, Mr. Jean sold millions of albums in the 1990s as a member of the Fugees, the Grammy-winning hip-hop and R&B group that included Lauryn Hill and Mr. Jean's cousin, Prakazrel Michel, known as Pras. As the Fugees dissolved, Mr. Jean began a prolific solo career, and he has also worked as a producer. Mr. Jean, 47, has also had a high profile outside of the music industry. He made an aborted bid for the presidency of Haiti after the earthquake there in 2010.



        7)  Is America's Military Big Enough?



        President Trump has proposed a $54 billion increase in defense spending, which he said would be "one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history."

        Past administrations have increased military spending, but typically to fulfill a specific mission. Jimmy Carter expanded operations in the Persian Gulf. Ronald Reagan pursued an arms race with the Soviet Union, and George W. Bush waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

        Mr. Trump has not articulated a new mission that would require a military spending increase. This has left analysts wondering what goals he has in mind. Erin M. Simpson, a national security consultant, called Mr. Trump's plans "a budget in search of a strategy."

        The United States has higher military spending than any other country partly because its foreign policy goals are more ambitious: defending its borders, upholding international order and promoting American interests abroad.

        "Our current strategy is based around us being a superpower in Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific," said Todd Harrison, the director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "We've sized our military to be able to fight more than one conflict at a time in those regions."

        Some of Mr. Trump's statements have suggested a reduced footprint for the United States military.

        He criticized America's role as a global military stabilizer. Last month, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, he said the United States had "defended the borders of other nations while leaving our own borders wide open."

        He also called for defusing tensions with Russia, the United States' chief military competitor.

        But Mr. Trump has also taken positions that point to a more aggressive military posture.

        He has advocated challenging China and Iran more directly.

        He wrote on Twitter that America must "greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability."

        These statements have left analysts unsure about the role Mr. Trump wants the United States military to play in the world.

        The following is a closer look at Mr. Trump's proposed upgrades to four crucial aspects of the military — troops, air power, naval power and nuclear weapons — and what his new spending might achieve.

        1 Troops

        The United States has approximately 1.3 million active-duty troops, with another 865,000 in reserve, one of the largest fighting forces of any country.

        The United States also has a global presence unlike any other nation, with about 200,000 active troops deployed in more than 170 countries.

        Many are stationed in allied nations in Europe and northeastern Asia. Mr. Trump has criticized these alliances, saying the United States does too much to defend its allies. It seems unlikely, then, that Mr. Trump intends his spending increase to bolster those deployments.

        "The general concept of readiness often happens without a conversation about what the forces are for," said Benjamin H. Friedman, a research fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington. "They don't know exactly what they want to do, except that they want a bigger military."

        Mr. Trump wants to increase the number of active-duty military personnel in the Army and Marine Corps by about 70,000 — a rise of about 11 percent over the current total of 660,000.

        The United States increased troop levels in the early 2000s for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but has scaled down as it has withdrawn from those conflicts. Mr. Trump has been critical of those missions, suggesting that he does not plan to ramp up operations in either conflict.

        Gordon Adams, a former senior White House national security budget officer, said, "Unless you decide you're going to war — and going to war soon — nobody keeps a large military."

        2 Air Power

        The United States has around 2,200 fighter jets, including about 1,400 operated by the Air Force. Mr. Trump wants to add at least 100 more fighter aircraft to the Air Force.

        Analysts informally categorize fighter aircraft by "generations" as a way to compare capabilities. While there is some variation among analysts on how planes are classified, there is a broad consensus that American aircraft are more advanced than those of other nations.

        While Mr. Trump has focused on the overall number of aircraft, this is an imperfect metric for either air power or cost.

        The military already has plans to spend an estimated $400 billion on new F-35 fighter jets, a fifth-generation plane. But Mr. Trump has not provided any details on which programs he would expand.

        Because different warplanes serve different roles at different costs, it is difficult to know what problem Mr. Trump is trying to address by adding 100 fighter aircraft.

        3 Naval Power

        The United States Navy has 275 surface ships and submarines. Mr. Trump wants to increase that number to 350, including two new aircraft carriers.

        The new carriers would add to America's already overwhelming advantage: More than half of the world's 18 active aircraft carriers are in the United States Navy.

        In early March, Mr. Trump said that the United States Navy was the smallest it had been since World War I.

        Most analysts reject this comparison. Technological advances mean that individual ships are far more powerful and versatile than they were a century ago, allowing a single ship to fulfill capabilities that would have once required several ships.

        Mr. Trump has not specified new missions that would require additional carriers, which could take years and billions of dollars to build.

        Expanding the fleet size could come at significant cost. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that building a fleet of around 350 ships could cost about 60 percent more per year than average historical shipbuilding budgets, with a completion date of 2046.

        But a larger fleet could help reduce pressure on the Navy, according to Brian Slattery, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "They've had to push those deployments longer and longer because the Navy needs to be in all the same places in the world, and there are fewer ships to do it," he said.

        Others argue that the Navy's resources are stretched because they have too many deployments and that a more modest strategy around the world would alleviate the strain. "To the extent that they are not in great shape, it's because they have too many missions," Mr. Friedman said.

        4 Nuclear Weapons

        After Mr. Trump tweeted his pledge to expand America's nuclear capability, he told the talk-show host Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC: "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."

        He has not specified whether he hopes to build more warheads or develop new weapons systems for delivering them.

        The United States and Russia possess the vast majority of the world's nuclear warheads, although both have reduced their arsenals under a series of treaties.

        4 Nuclear Weapons

        After Mr. Trump tweeted his pledge to expand America's nuclear capability, he told the talk-show host Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC: "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."

        He has not specified whether he hopes to build more warheads or develop new weapons systems for delivering them.

        The United States and Russia possess the vast majority of the world's nuclear warheads, although both have reduced their arsenals under a series of treaties.

        While Mr. Trump has said that he wants to defeat the Islamic State, he has not explained how increasing the size of the military would accomplish that.

        Mr. Trump's focus on big-ticket items is mainly "useful in more conventional military campaigns," said Michael C. Horowitz, a University of Pennsylvania professor who studies military leadership. "The kind of investments you would make if you were primarily focused on counterinsurgency campaigns are very different."

        Mr. Trump's announcements appear to emphasize optics as much as strategy, Mr. Horowitz said. "To the extent that tangible pieces of military equipment symbolize strength, those are things that I think the administration is interested in investing in."

        Tactical aircraft include fighter, attack and dual-role aircraft.



        8)  Art Supply Sales Jumped in January, Thanks to Protest Signs, Report Says

        MARCH 22, 2017




        Political activism can be measured in several ways: by the number of signatories on a petition, demonstrators at a protest or donations to an organization.

        Or, in some cases, the sale of art supplies.

        The week before the Women's March on Jan. 21 in cities across the United States, protesters who were making signs helped fuel increased sales of poster boards by 33 percent and foam boards by 42 percent compared with the same week last year, the consumer research group NPD reported recently. Poster and foam board sales from Jan. 15 to 21 totaled $4.1 million.

        More than 6.5 million poster boards were sold in January, with nearly one-third sold during the week of the march. Sales of easel pads and flip charts grew by 28 percent, Leen Nsouli, an office supplies industry analyst at NPD, said in a blog post.

        Sales of the materials used to make the messages on the posters also increased that week: Specialty markers were up by 24 percent; permanent markers, 12 percent; glue, 27 percent; and scissors, 6 percent.

        Sales of fabric paint the week before the march were at least three times higher compared with the other weeks in January, Ms. Nsouli wrote. A combined $6 million was spent from Jan. 15-21 on an array of art supplies, NPD said.

        Courtney Weber of Washington had a combination sign-making/birthday party in her honor on Jan. 18 that about 25 people attended. Posters, paints and markers were everywhere, but getting the supplies was not easy.

        "We were calling around for posters, and everyone was sold out for a five-mile radius," she said, adding that she saw numerous signs at the march made from pieces of cardboard boxes.

        Brendan Orsinger, an organizer for Showing Up For Racial Justice DC, said his members had such a difficult time finding art supplies that they went to hotels and got discarded bedsheets and pillowcases to serve as canvases for their messages.

        Gillian Hanna, a shift manager at the Paper Source in Washington, said pink glitter wrapping paper was a big seller. Customers used it to cut out letters or for backgrounds for their signs, she said.

        At Blick Art Materials on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, Ian Parsons, a sales associate, said there was "a huge influx of people" in January who were not the college students the store customarily sees.

        "They were people who lived in the area, in SoHo, who wanted to get in on the protests," he said.

        Alan Lewis of Astoria, Queens, said his family spent about $30 on markers, poster board and related supplies at a local drugstore. His wife, Alison Gozzi-Lewis, his aunt and sisters-in-law helped prepare the signs, including one that said, "Nap time is over. #staywoke."

        They made about six signs and brought some blank ones. He said inspiration struck as they were on the Metro in Washington.

        Mr. Lewis scrawled on one of the blank ones, "If you want a baby for president Grace 2020," a reference to his daughter, who is almost 2, who went to the march.

        He said the signs are in the trunk of his car, ready for the next protest.



        9)  The Truth About New York City's Elite High Schools

        "The test has many quirks that experts have said make it inappropriate for use as a sole criterion for admission. For example, the material on the test is not taught in the city's middle school classrooms; so it's not as if students are being assessed on what they have learned in school over the years. It's all about what they learn in test prep programs. This is pure arbitrariness."

        MARCH 22, 2017





        This month, a select group of eighth graders in New York City found out that they were being offered a spot at some of the nation's best high schools, the eight "specialized" city public high schools that include Stuyvesant High School, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx Science. About 28,000 students took the multiple-choice test required for admission, and 5,078 did well enough to secure a place.

        This system, while it might seem meritocratic, in fact leads to a shocking inequity. Even though black and Latino students make up nearly 70 percent of public high school students in the city, they routinely represent only 10 percent of those offered admission to the specialized high schools. This year the city offered admission to only 524 black and Latino students.

        The numbers are even lower at some of the most desired schools, such as Stuyvesant, which has space for nearly 1,000 freshmen and offered admission to only 13 black students. And while some of the specialized schools do have a high percentage of Asian-American students, many low-income students from lesser-represented ethnic communities are also left out.

        The problem, which has grown worse in recent years, has to do with the way students are selected for these schools. The sole criterion is a student's score on the multiple-choice admissions test.

        The traditional hallmarks of a great student — consistently excellent grades, critical analysis skills, leadership and even performance on other state-mandated tests — are all irrelevant under the admissions policy. The test has many quirks that experts have said make it inappropriate for use as a sole criterion for admission. For example, the material on the test is not taught in the city's middle school classrooms; so it's not as if students are being assessed on what they have learned in school over the years. It's all about what they learn in test prep programs. This is pure arbitrariness.

        The flawed admissions policy, and the discriminatory results it yields, are the subject of a pending civil rights complaint my former colleagues at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and I filed with the United States Department of Education on behalf of a coalition of organizations representing black, Latino and Asian students.

        In any other context, this kind of approach would be widely condemned — imagine if a test to determine who could become a firefighter had little relation to the actual job and produced similar results. In fact, such hiring policies have been struck down by federal courts nationwide, including in New York City.

        Why is this happening in the largest and most diverse school district in the country? Part of this phenomenon has to do with a powerful narrative that has been woven — not about the test, but about the merit of black and Latino students.

        To be fair, many are concerned about the results and want to help more black and Latino students succeed. But their common starting point is trying to determine why more of those students do not score higher on the test. However well intentioned, they are asking the wrong question.

        By legitimizing test-only admissions, many well-intentioned people are (perhaps inadvertently) laying blame on the students who are hurt by the policy, implicitly suggesting that they do not work hard, that they need to improve and better demonstrate their academic merit, that the poor admissions results are a byproduct of poverty and failing middle schools and that there are simply not enough qualified black and Latino students to justify more than a handful of admission offers.

        The resulting narrative of inferiority has had a paralyzing effect on policy.

        While running for mayor, Bill de Blasio criticized the admissions policy and called for change. Many current and former staff members in his administration have denounced it as well. And a number of reportshave provided a road map for change. But so far his administration has merely adopted predictable and feckless interventions that not only have been proven ineffective by the latest admissions numbers but also insult the intelligence and dignity of black and Latino students: expansion of test prep courses, outreach to encourage more black and Latino students to take the test, expansion of prekindergarten, making slight changes to the test and administering it on a more convenient day in certain middle schools.

        If the administration is truly committed to admitting black and Latino students who deserve to be in specialized high schools, it must find the courage to disrupt the status quo and ask the harder questions. For example, why not ask how the schools could do a better job — not of expanding or improving the applicant pool, but of recognizing the talent we know exists among black and Latino students? What if the school district (still under significant mayoral control) and the State Legislature (which mandates a test-only policy for three of the schools) started from scratch to create an admissions process that rewards those who do well in middle school? What if school officials and the public actually believed there are many talented black and Latino students who can succeed in an elite setting? What if they were willing to create a process that recognized their merit?

        These are the big questions. Asking these types of questions will help to shift the false, prevailing narrative that only a few black and Latino students are good enough for the city's best high schools. It will help New Yorkers get to some real solutions and a fairer process — not only for those students, but for everyone.



        10)   Americans Ate 19% Less Beef From '05 to '14, Report Says

        MARCH 21, 2017


        The last decade or so has brought ample evidence that Americans are gradually changing their diets, driven by health concerns and other factors.

        But a new study points to one change that is starker than many have thought: Americans cut their beef consumption by 19 percent — nearly one-fifth — in the years from 2005 to 2014, according to research released on Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

        The environmental group found that consumption of chicken and pork fell as well, though less drastically, as Americans ate more cheese, butter and leafy greens.

        The council is hailing the plummeting popularity of beef as a victory in the fight against climate change, because greenhouse gases are produced when cattle are raised. The group estimates that the resulting reduction in pollution would equal the emissions of 39 million cars, or about one-sixth of the number of cars registered in the United States in 2015. (Some of those environmental benefits, the group says, were erased by increased consumption of other foods that also create emissions.)

        The research, which is based on data from the Agriculture Department and calculations using the same methodology as the Environmental Protection Agency, found that changes in the overall American diet reduced emissions by the equivalent of pollution from 57 million cars — despite population growth of about 9 percent.

        "Whether we realize it or not, Americans have been fighting greenhouse gas emissions with their forks," said Sujatha Bergen, a policy specialist in the Natural Resources Defense Council's food and agriculture program.

        The council did not ask Americans why they were eating differently. But Ms. Bergen said that greater attention to how food affected health and well-being — rather than awareness of the environmental impact — was probably driving the decline in beef consumption.

        Asked what prompted them to eat less beef, 37 percent of consumers surveyed cited its price as the No. 1 reason in research published in January by Mintel, a consumer research firm. Thirty-five percent of the respondents said they were eating more protein from other sources, like chicken or tofu. But more than a quarter ascribed the change to their concern about cholesterol and saturated fats.

        The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a trade group for beef producers, said the main reason for beef's decline was a reduced supply of meat, because of increased exports: The United States was a net exporter of beef from 2010 to 2013.

        Another reason was increased competition from other meats like chicken and pork, the group said. Droughts during the period covered by the defense council report also cut into the beef supply, said Daren Williams, a spokesman for the organization. Facing higher feed prices, ranchers cut their production, and the price of beef rose.

        It takes two years on average for a cow to reach slaughter size, which explains why the nation's cattle stock is just now showing recovery, the association said. The industry group predicts a recovery in beef consumption, as does the Agriculture Department.

        The beef association said it was "fallacious" to draw a link between beef consumption and automobile emissions. Sara Place, the group's senior director of sustainable beef production research, said consumers could do more to reduce carbon emissions by throwing away less food, particularly fruits and vegetables, than by eating less beef.

        The beef industry has reduced its carbon footprint, Dr. Place said, with improvements in cattle genetics and production methods. One-third fewer cows were needed in 2015 to produce the same amount of beef produced in 1975, she said.

        "Our cattle numbers have gone down over a 40-year period, reducing carbon emissions and our carbon footprint," she said.

        Consumption of all meats, taken together, has been falling from a peak in 2007, according to the Agriculture Department. Per capita consumption of beef topped out in 1976, but it remained America's favorite meat until the mid-1990s, when it was surpassed by chicken.

        The new report shows declines in other food, like orange juice and frozen potatoes, that have notable carbon footprints.

        But of all the foods Americans eat, beef has by far the biggest footprint. The feeds given to cattle are grown with petroleum-based fertilizers, and the animals' digestive systems produce methane, a pollutant 25 percent more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. The manure, which is spread on fields or collected in large tanks, also emits greenhouse gases, said Ms. Bergen of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

        A drop in orange juice consumption generated the second-largest reduction in greenhouse gases linked to a food, eliminating the equivalent of some 63 million megatons of carbon dioxide from the environment — or roughly 10 percent of the reduction attributable to eating less beef.



        11)  Death on a Prison Bus: Extradition Companies' Safety Improvements Lag

        MARCH 23, 2017




        More than 20 prisoners were shackled and packed tightly on a privately operated bus as it zigzagged from Wisconsin to Georgia this month. The men and women were being extradited to faraway jurisdictions where they had open arrest warrants or pending criminal cases, and some had been traveling for more than 10 days as the bus picked up and dropped off prisoners.

        Bathroom stops were infrequent, several prisoners said, so the passengers urinated in bottles and defecated on the floor. The heat failed, and they huddled together for warmth as temperatures dropped to freezing. The conditions were so deplorable that at one point, they all scribbled down their contact information on a fast-food wrapper, hoping to reconnect later to sue the owner of the bus, Prisoner Transportation Services, the nation's largest for-profit extradition company.

        But shortly after Kevin Eli added his name to the list, near Columbus, Ga., he was dead.

        Mr. Eli, 29, was being transported from Virginia to Florida to face a nine-year-old charge of stealing a pearl necklace during a burglary. His death on March 7 was at least the fifth on a P.T.S. vehicle in five years. Eight months earlier, Loretta Lynch, then the attorney general, had told a congressional committee that her office would investigate for-profit extradition companies after reporting by the Marshall Project and The New York Times revealed a pattern of deaths and abuse in the industry.

        Since 2000, another two dozen people have been killed or seriously injured in more than 50 crashes on private vehicles operated by these businesses, while at least 60 prisoners have escaped and 14 others have alleged sexual assault on board.

        State correction departments and countless local law enforcement agencies hire extradition companies to retrieve fugitives and suspects. Vans or buses travel long, circuitous routes, sometimes for weeks, with little sleep for guards or prisoners. Because they cross so many jurisdictions, oversight falls into a gray zone. Companies are governed by a 2000 federal law known as Jeanna's Act, which set broad standards for the treatment of prisoners but has been enforced only once.

        Seven prisoners on the bus, all interviewed independently, said Mr. Eli's troubles started when he got into an altercation with another prisoner on board. As punishment, the guards, who were employees of P.T.S. and its subsidiaries, U.S. Prisoner Transport and U.S. Corrections, cuffed his wrists behind his back.

        Then, as he began to complain of chest pain and repeatedly said, "I can't breathe," they put him in a segregation cage, prisoners said.

        Mr. Eli, of Queens, pleaded with the guards to call 911 for 20 minutes to half an hour, prisoners said. But the guards accused him of faking his distress and said the bus must keep moving toward its next destination, the other prisoners said.

        "I watched that man beg for his life," said Ronald Snavley, 47, whose extradition from Indiana to Florida to face a drunken-driving charge took two weeks, including a stop at a jail that serves as a hub for P.T.S. Other prisoners said they had screamed for help as Mr. Eli eventually fell unconscious and made groaning sounds, his eyes fixated and his skin discolored. A guard tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him by performing CPR, they said.

        A lawyer representing P.T.S., Alex Little, said in an emailed statement that the company had opened an internal investigation into Mr. Eli's death. "P.T.S. is continuing to cooperate with the applicable authorities," he said. "As a result of the pending investigations and ongoing autopsy, P.T.S. cannot make any further comment at this time." Mr. Little declined to answer questions about the alleged conditions on the bus.

        In November, P.T.S. officials said they had begun to make a number of safety improvements, including more frequent breaks for drivers, new cameras and seatbelts in vehicles, and increased medical oversight by employees. "We trained them on how to be more aware of inmates in distress," said Joel Brasfield, the company's president. He said he would not tolerate inhumane conditions.

        Yet the passengers who witnessed Mr. Eli's crisis described a ride as filthy and dangerous as ever.

        Prisoners were not able to brush their teeth or shower for the entire journey, they said, and the bathroom on board was unusable. Women menstruating had to make tampons out of McDonald's wrappers, in front of the male prisoners, and urinate in plastic bottles with the tops cut off. Wires could be seen dangling out of at least one camera, and no one had seatbelts. Shackled, they banged around as the bus careened along at high speeds, sometimes crossing the median and knocking into road signs.

        Theresa Wigley, who has diabetes, was being transported from Wisconsin to Florida to face a charge of improperly using a company credit card. She said that during her two-week journey, she was given her medication intermittently and fed only fast food; she vomited repeatedly.

        "We all knew that what we were going through was an unacceptable, inhumane thing that should not be happening in the United States of America," Ms. Wigley, 54, said, explaining why the prisoners had shared their phone numbers and social media identities on the scrap of hamburger wrapper and entrusted the list to Tyisha Anthony, a prisoner who said she was planning a career in the law.

        Before climbing aboard the bus, Mr. Eli had served six months at the Rappahannock Regional Jail in Stafford, Va., for violating his probation on a 2012 shoplifting conviction. The Broward County, Fla., sheriff's office then hired U.S. Corrections to bring him to Florida at a price of $981 for the 991 miles of transport, an invoice shows.

        Mr. Eli died of unknown causes after 11 days in transit, as the bus passed through Fort Benning, a military base on the Alabama-Georgia border.

        Christopher Grey, a spokesman for the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command, said the military police had responded to an emergency call at about 10 p.m. He said C.I.D. did not suspect foul play. Mr. Grey and an Army spokesman declined to answer further questions, citing an ongoing investigation.

        The prisoners said they had been relieved to see police cars pulling up to the bus at Fort Benning and had assumed they would be interviewed. But they said they were not questioned, and shortly after Mr. Eli's lifeless form was taken off the vehicle, they were driven to a jail in a neighboring county. They stayed there for 12 hours, officials at that jail confirmed, before continuing the journey.

        Mr. Eli's family members said they were notified of his death on March 10.

        His mother, Tina, sobbing throughout an interview, said the family had paid several thousand dollars to have his body shipped back to the New York area. She said she had not been told who, if anyone, would investigate her son's death.

        She described her son as a playful and generous man who, as a child, had dreamed of becoming a police officer. He had called her last month to ask for his favorite meal — strudel and stuffed cabbage — when he finally made it home.

        "My baby is dead!" she cried. "So what do I have now? I have nothing!"

        A spokesman for the Justice Department wrote in an email that the agency takes seriously all allegations of prisoner abuse and neglect and is committed to enforcing the law.

        Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida, who questioned Ms. Lynch last summer as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said Monday that he planned to renew his inquiry by writing to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and calling for a subcommittee hearing on the deaths and abuses aboard private extradition vans.

        "What's so appalling is that there's more care shown to furniture being delivered across state lines in this country than there is to humans," he said.



        12)  Records Leak in Eric Garner Case Renews Debate on Police Discipline

        MARCH 22, 2017




        Soon after Eric Garner died in an encounter with police officers on Staten Island in July 2014, New York City began fighting to shield the disciplinary records of the officer whose chokehold led to the death. In the past, the city had allowed the release of some details on officer discipline.

        Concerned that a lack of basic information about the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, was keeping Mr. Garner's family in the dark about whether more could have been done to prevent his death, the Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit in early 2015 seeking the records under the state's Freedom of Information Law.

        That summer, a state judge in Manhattan ordered the release of a summary of misconduct findings against Officer Pantaleo. The city appealed the case, and the dispute has since lingered unresolved.

        On Tuesday, perhaps circumventing any legal outcome, the liberal news site ThinkProgress published what it said were Officer Pantaleo's disciplinary records. The documents, whose authenticity the city has not denied, came from the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the agency charged with investigating accusations of police wrongdoing.

        Information revealed in the records provided fodder to both supporters and critics of Officer Pantaleo. He accumulated more misconduct allegations than the average among the 36,000-member Police Department, the documents show, but not so many that the young officer could be fairly branded a cowboy or rogue, police experts said. They also noted that Officer Pantaleo usually worked in a plainclothes unit that focused on violent street crime — the kind of policing that can be a magnet for complaints.

        In the cases where the review board found that he had abused his authority, though, the Police Department sent him back out on the street with minimal punishment.

        With some questions about Officer Pantaleo's past seemingly addressed by the leaked documents, the conversation has shifted to broader questions about policing and transparency, as city officials continue to argue that state law bars them from disclosing information about officer misconduct. Last summer, the Police Department cited the law when it reversed its decades-old practice of regularly posting information in precinct houses and at its headquarters about the disciplining of officers.

        Despite the revelations in Officer Pantaleo's published records, Cynthia Conti-Cook, a staff lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, said it was still unclear how vigorously the department had responded to what she said were warning signs about Officer Pantaleo that dated from before his confrontation with Mr. Garner.

        "If this information was universally accessible, we wouldn't need to speculate," Ms. Conti-Cook said. "We could compare officers' substantiated C.C.R.B. complaints according to their precinct, rank and activity. But because the city insists on keeping this secret, we are left in the dark."

        The published records showed that Officer Pantaleo had amassed several complaints of improper conduct in the years before he confronted Mr. Garner, whose death unleashed widespread anger across the country about police conduct in black communities.

        The Civilian Complaint Review Board found enough evidence to substantiate four claims that Officer Pantaleo had abused his authority, according to the records published by ThinkProgress. The only disciplinary action Officer Pantaleo ever faced from the Police Department was additional training and the loss of two vacation days, the records show.

        A board official on Tuesday confirmed that the eight case numbers in the file published online, encompassing 18 allegations from 2009 to 2014, were real and that all but one of the cases had been closed. But the official, Jerika Richardson, would not say if the documents were authentic or if the cases had involved Officer Pantaleo.

        At a news conference on Wednesday on a separate topic, Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said the disclosure of the records was improper and illegal.

        Officer Pantaleo is among 738 current New York police officers who have amassed at least two complaints in which an allegation was substantiated, according to city data also cited by ThinkProgress. Ninety percent of officers currently on the force have never received a complaint with a substantiated allegation, the data show. Police reform advocates say this reflects the high bar for allegations to be found credible.

        Officer Pantaleo, who had been on the force for eight years when Mr. Garner, 43, died on July 17, 2014, remains on desk duty. The Justice Department has been conducting a civil rights inquiry into the death.

        Mr. Garner's final words — "I can't breathe," spoken 11 times — became a rallying cry for demonstrators protesting the police killings of unarmed men in cities across the country. The demonstrations gained steam after a grand jury convened by the Staten Island district attorney's office found in December 2014 that Officer Pantaleo had not committed a crime.

        Two of the substantiated allegations in the leaked documents stem from a 2012 street stop that resulted in disciplinary action against Officer Pantaleo. Information about those allegations was confirmed last year by the Police Department and reported by DNAinfo.

        Another set of allegations against Officer Pantaleo that were found to be credible involved a vehicle stop and search in 2011.

        Eric Sanders, a lawyer and former city police officer, cautioned that a list of civilian complaints offered only a limited window into an officer's behavior and shortcomings, without an understanding of the circumstances of each allegation, including the kinds of crimes committed in the neighborhoods where the complaints were made.

        Mr. Sanders added that the number of complaints against Officer Pantaleo was relatively modest. "This is lightweight compared to some of the stuff I've seen," he said.

        As commissioner, Mr. O'Neill makes the final decision on how officers will be disciplined after receiving recommendations from either the review board or an administrative judge within the Police Department. But critics have pointed out that police commissioners have sometimes imposed softer penalties than recommended.

        "As I've been going through the cases, I haven't strayed too far," Mr. O'Neill told reporters on Wednesday. "There have been a couple of times, a couple of instances, where I take a look at what the police officer does, and based on my 35 years as a police officer, sometimes the penalty goes up, and sometimes the penalty goes down."

        Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is running for re-election this year, has been questioned about his commitment to police reform and has called for changing the state law that officials say bars the release of police disciplinary records. At the same time, the city's Law Department is still seeking to reverse the court ruling that sided with the Legal Aid Society in its efforts to obtain Officer Pantaleo's records.

        The New York Civil Liberties Union is fighting a separate case in state court seeking decisions from internal police trials against officers, which the city argues should also be kept secret.

        "It's time for the city to come clean on police misconduct," said Christopher T. Dunn, the associate legal director for the civil liberties group.

        Tina Luongo, who leads the criminal practice at the Legal Aid Society, said that for victims of police abuse, the revelations about Officer's Pantaleo's disciplinary history only reinforced that the department's disciplinary system was toothless.

        Even as Mr. de Blasio has emphasized the need to improve police-community relations, Ms. Luongo said, his administration has fought to shield basic information about the city's treatment of officers: who is charged, who is disciplined, who is terminated — and who is not.

        "We're not getting this information, because they don't want people to know and understand the level of aggression and infractions that many of the officers have," she said. Officer Pantaleo's disciplinary record, she added, exposed "the whole culture of, 'We don't really discipline, we suggest training, maybe you lose a vacation day or two but even if we suspend you, you get overtime.'"



        13)  Donald Trump May Be the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Colin Kaepernick

        by Dave Zirin


        Donald Trump wants to end Meals on Wheels and has an alleged Nazi on his staff. Colin Kaepernick just gave $50,000 to Meals on Wheels and has consistently stood against racism. Donald Trump has an approval rating that dipped as low as 37 percent last week. Colin Kaepernick at one point last year had the best-selling jersey in the NFL. Donald Trump has inspired followers to vandalize churches. Colin Kaepernick has inspired young people to think and act politically for the first time in their lives. Donald Trump was part of a chorus of people threatening Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 season. Colin Kaepernick responded with his best statistical season since 2012.

        And now Donald Trump is bragging about his ability to keep Colin Kaepernick unemployed, saying at a recent rallythat "NFL owners don't wanna pick him up because they don't wanna get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Can you believe that? The people of Kentucky…like when people actually stand for the American flag."

        But Trump isn't hurting Kaepernick. As David Roth put it at Vice Sports, "If Kaepernick is unemployable in the NFL, it's because he represents the broader contemporary social movement for social justice, not because he is an unreliable pocket passer or whatever. It's because people like the ones Trump is pandering to above understand him as a symbol of things they hate."

        If anything, Trump may have done Kaepernick one hell of a favor. By boasting about his ability to strike fear into the hearts of NFL owners—many of whom gave small fortunes to his campaign—he may have revealed evidence of "collusion" or what is known as "tortious interference," or "the intentional interference with contractual relations." Trump could have inadvertently handed Colin Kaepernick a lawsuit on a silver platter—or put a tremendous pressure on the NFL to find one owner willing to bring Kaepernick into training camp.

        I contacted Georgetown University Law Center professor David Goodfriend, an attorney and chairman of the Sports Fans Coalition, about the legal implications of what Trump so proudly proclaimed. He said, "Presidential privilege can protect President Trump only so far. Was he acting in his personal capacity to undermine an ongoing contractual negotiation or an existing contract involving a professional athlete? Was he acting in coordination with an NFL team owner? If so, I can think of several attorneys who would be happy to represent Mr. Kaepernick as a plaintiff."

        That part about "coordination with a team owner" sounds particularly dicey when we consider Trump's close friendship with New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who was a guest on Air Force One the day before Trump's speech. Then there is Trump mega-donor and Jets owner Woody Johnson, who is being named ambassador to the United Kingdom. The list of NFL-owner entanglements with this president goes on. Trump—who is engaged in his own war against "leakers"—may have "leaked" evidence of collusion.

        This unforced error also fits a pattern of a White House team so incompetent, so eager to score points on cable news, and so absent of impulse control, that they can't help but get in their own way. Their incompetence has been the saving grace of this administration so far. It also might be the saving grace of Colin Kaepernick's career as an NFL quarterback.



        14)  5 Bodies Found Off Libya Amid Fears That 200 Migrants May Have Drowned

        MARCH 23, 2017



        The bodies of five people were found near two capsized dinghies off the coast of Libya on Thursday, and the aid organization that recovered the bodies said it feared that more than 200 migrants may have drowned.

        Laura Lanuza, a spokeswoman for the organization, Proactiva Open Arms, said in a telephone interview that a search was underway for another migrant vessel believed to have run into trouble in the same part of the Mediterranean.

        While it was not clear how many people were aboard the capsized dinghies, she said that boats of that type often get overloaded with 120 to 140 migrants hoping to reach southern Europe.

        "We fear the worst," Ms. Lanuza said.

        The discovery and the search come amid signs that the number of African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean increased over the winter compared with a year ago — with tragic consequences.

        Since the start of this year, 559 people have died or disappeared while crossing the Mediterranean, according to the latest data from the International Organization for Migration.

        In 2016, 5,098 migrants died or disappeared while undertaking the journey, according to the International Organization for Migration, but the number of attempted crossings normally picks up significantly after the winter, once the weather and conditions at sea improve.

        Since the start of the year, Proactiva Open Arms said that it alone had rescued about 2,000 migrants lost at sea. "Everything suggests that the flux has risen this winter," Ms. Lanuza said.

        The five corpses were found on Thursday morning about 13 miles off Sabratha, one of the ports along the Libyan coast from where human traffickers are believed to put migrants aboard overcrowded and flimsy dinghies.

        Based in Catalonia, Proactiva is one of the private groups that have recently been involved in efforts to prevent African migrants from drowning on the Mediterranean crossing.

        Its founder, Oscar Camps, has also been one of the strongest critics of the response of the European Union and its member states to the migration crisis.

        "The sea is like a carpet that governments are now lifting to brush underneath their dirt," he said in an interview last fall.

        Alongside Proactiva Open Arms, which is using a fishing boat converted into a rescue vessel, Ms. Lanuza said that another rescue boat operated by Jugend Rettet, a German aid organization, was also searching the area.

        The two boats are sailing in international waters with the support of the Italian coast guard, which earlier on Thursday confirmed the recovery of the five corpses, according to Reuters.



        15)  U.S., in Reversal, Issues Permit for Keystone Oil Pipeline

        MARCH 24, 201




        HOUSTON — The Trump administration announced on Friday that it would issue a permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a long-disputed project that would link oil producers in Canada and North Dakota with refiners and export terminals on the Gulf Coast.

        The announcement, by the State Department, reversed the position of the Obama administration. It followed a 60-day review that was set in motion as one of the first acts of President Trump's tenure.

        The pipeline has been the focus of a long fight between environmentalists and the project's advocates, who say it would further the goals of energy independence and economic growth. When President Barack Obama rejected the project in late 2015, he said it would undermine American leadership in curbing reliance on carbon fuels.

        The announcement on Friday said the State Department "considered a range of factors, including, but not limited to, foreign policy; energy security; environmental, cultural and economic impacts; and compliance with applicable law and policy."

        The new secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, formerly the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, had recused himself from the decision. The announcement said the permit was signed by the under secretary of state for political affairs, Thomas A. Shannon Jr.

        The pipeline still faces hurdles before it can be built. It needs the approval of the Nebraska Public Service Commission and local landowners who are concerned about their water and land rights. Protests are likely since the project has become an important symbol for the environmental movement, with the Canadian oil sands among the most carbon-intensive oil supplies. Mining the oil sands requires vast amounts of energy for extraction and processing.

        In addition, interest among many oil companies in the oil sands is waning amid sluggish oil prices. Extraction from the oil sands, situated in the sub-Arctic boreal forest, is expensive. Statoil and Total, two European energy giants, have abandoned their production projects. In recent weeks, Royal Dutch Shell agreed to sell most of its oil sands assets for $8.5 billion. And Exxon Mobil wrote down 3.5 billion barrels of reserves, conceding the oil sands were not economically attractive enough to develop for the next few years at least.

        Nevertheless, Canadian production continues to grow as projects that were conceived when prices were higher begin to operate. And the Keystone effort is central to the future of TransCanada, the pipeline builder and a major force in the Canadian oil patch.

        The United States Chamber of Commerce and other business groups applauded the administration's action. Jack Gerard, the president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, the primary industry lobbying arm, said the decision was "welcome news" and was "critical to creating American jobs, growing the economy and making our nation more energy secure.''

        Opponents say the pipeline is unnecessary at a time when American oil production is soaring and future demand has been put in question by increasingly efficient cars, electric cars and growing concerns over climate change.

        "The Keystone pipeline would be a straw running through the heart of America to transport the dirtiest oil in the world to the thirstiest foreign markets," said Senator Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.

        Originally planned to open in 2012, the Keystone XL would transport up to 830,000 barrels a day of Canadian and North Dakota crude to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with existing pipelines to deliver the sludgy oil to refineries in Texas and Louisiana for processing. Most of the refined product would probably be exported, or it might enable domestic producers to export more oil produced in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

        When the project was in the planning stages, the United States was highly dependent on oil from the Middle East. But in recent years, domestic production has nearly doubled, and the United States now exports increasing amounts of oil and natural gas. Oil prices have been slashed in half over the last three years, although many analysts predict that petroleum prices will rebound in the next decade, when the pipeline would begin to operate.

        For Canada, and especially Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the pipeline represents a mixed blessing. Mr. Trudeau publicly supports the pipeline as a tool to give Canada's economy a boost, but an increase in oil sands production could undercut his commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as promised in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

        Protests helped sway the Obama administration to reject the project, and environmentalists have been further emboldened by demonstrations last year in North Dakota, mostly by Native American groups, that have delayed another project, the Dakota Access Pipeline.

        Environmental groups are already promising to aid local groups in blocking the Keystone pipeline's construction. "We'll use every tool in the kit to stop this dangerous tar sands oil pipeline project," said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

        The project would provide for thousands of construction jobs, and it has attracted the support of several labor unions.

        President Trump has made infrastructure building a centerpiece of his efforts to spur economic growth. At the beginning of his term, he instructed the Commerce Department to establish a plan requiring that new pipelines be constructed with American-made materials like steel. But the White House has since suggested that the Keystone project would not be subjected to those rules because it is not a new project.



        16)  C.I.A. Developed Tools to Spy on Mac Computers, WikiLeaks Disclosure Shows

        MARCH 23, 2017




        SAN FRANCISCO — The C.I.A. developed tools to spy on Mac computers by injecting software into the chips that control the computers' fundamental operations, according to the latest cache of classified government documents published on Thursday by WikiLeaks.

        Apple said in a statement Thursday evening that its preliminary assessment of the leaked information indicated that the Mac vulnerabilities described in the disclosure were previously fixed in all Macs launched after 2013.

        However, the documents also indicated that the Central Intelligence Agency was developing a new version of one tool last year to work with current software.

        The leaked documents were the second batch recently released by WikiLeaks, which said it obtained a hoard of information on the agency's cyberweapons programs from a former government worker or contractor. The first group of documents, published March 7, suggested that the C.I.A. had found ways to hack Apple iPhones and Android smartphones, Microsoft Windows computers, Cisco routers and Samsung smart televisions.

        Since the initial release of the C.I.A. documents, which the agency has not confirmed are authentic, major technology companies have been scrambling to assess whether the security holes exploited by the C.I.A. still exist and to patch them if they do.

        All of the surveillance tools that have been disclosed were designed to be installed on individual phones or computers. But the effects could be much wider. Cisco Systems, for example, warned customers this week that many of its popular routers, the backbone of computer networks, could be hacked using the C.I.A.'s techniques.

        Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has offered to share the precise software code used by the C.I.A.'s cyberweapons with the affected companies. But major tech companies have been reluctant to directly engage with him for fear of violating American laws governing the receipt of classified information.

        At a news conference Thursday, Mr. Assange criticized the government policies that restricted such communications but said that Apple had nonetheless been willing to work with representatives of his anti-secrecy organization.

        Google and Microsoft, he said, had simply pointed WikiLeaks to its existing channels for anyone to report a security flaw.

        In its statement, Apple denied negotiating with WikiLeaks. "We have given them instructions to submit any information they wish through our normal process under our standard terms," the company said. "Thus far, we have not received any information from them that isn't in the public domain. We are tireless defenders of our users' security and privacy, but we do not condone theft or coordinate with those that threaten to harm our users."

        The spy software described in the latest documents was designed to be injected into a Mac's firmware, a type of software preloaded in the computer's chips. It would then act as a "listening post," broadcasting the user's activities to the C.I.A. whenever the machine was connected to the internet.

        A similar tool called NightSkies was developed in 2009 to spy on iPhones, the documents said, with the agency figuring out how to install it undetected before a new phone was turned on for the first time. (Apple said that flaw affected only the iPhone 3G and was fixed in all later models.)

        Although most of the tools targeted outdated versions of the Apple devices' software, the C.I.A.'s general approach raises new security concerns for the industry, said Eric Ahlm, who studies cybersecurity at Gartner, a research firm. By rewriting the most basic software of a computer or a phone, tools that operate at the chip level can hide their existence and avoid being wiped out by routine software updates.

        Under an agreement struck during the Obama administration, intelligence agencies were supposed to share their knowledge of most security vulnerabilities with tech companies so they could be fixed. The C.I.A. documents suggest that some key vulnerabilities were kept secret for the government's use.

        The C.I.A. declined to comment Thursday, pointing reporters to its earlier statement about the leaks, in which it defended its use of "innovative, cutting-edge" techniques to protect the country from foreign threats and criticized WikiLeaks for sharing information that could help the country's enemies.




















































        Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com
        Reply via web post Reply to sender Reply to group Start a New Topic Messages in this topic (1)

        Have you tried the highest rated email app?
        With 4.5 stars in iTunes, the Yahoo Mail app is the highest rated email app on the market. What are you waiting for? Now you can access all your inboxes (Gmail, Outlook, AOL and more) in one place. Never delete an email again with 1000GB of free cloud storage.