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



Protest groups to unite as "The Majority" for massive actions across the country on May 1


Activist groups are uniting as a broader coalition they've dubbed "The Majority," an idea inspired by the Movement for Black Lives — a collective of organizations in the Black Lives Matter movement — organizers first shared with Mic on Thursday.

More than 50 partners representing black, Latino, the indigenous, LGBTQ, refugees, immigrants, laborers and the poor will collaborate from April 4 through May 1, International Worker's Day, when they'll launch massive protests across the country.

The action will "go beyond moments of outrage, beyond narrow concepts of sanctuary, and beyond barriers between communities that have much at stake and so much in common," The Majority states on its BeyondtheMoment.orgwebsite, which officially launches Monday.

"We will strike, rally and resist," the coalition, which includes the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Black Youth Project 100, Color of Change and Mi Gente, among others, wrote on its website.

Leading up to Donald Trump's inauguration, many U.S. activist groups worked in silos on strategies to resist the conservative political agenda that they agree is an existential threat to women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants and the environment. Trump's first 100 days in office had been chocked full of executive orders, budgets and legislative proposals that go directly against what these activists have long been fighting for. 

"Even though the election results showed one thing, the reality is that the majority of us are under attack and this is a moment for us to step into something together," Navina Khanna, director of the Health, Environment, Agriculture, and Labor Food Alliance in Oakland, California, said in a phone interview. HEAL is a part of The Majority. "This is about really learning to see our issues as one, and our struggles as one."

The "Beyond the Moment" initiative kicks off April 4 with "serious political education with our bases," according to the website. In the weeks leading up to the mass mobilizations on May 1, they will hold public teach-ins and workshops nationwide. The desired outcome is a "broad intersectional, cross-sectoral" and influential unity on the left, activists said.

The idea for Beyond the Moment was derived from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Beyond Vietnam" speech, in which he spoke out against racism, materialism and militarism — all broader and more-inclusive themes than his earlier anti-Jim Crow campaigns. The coalition said it chose April 4 as the kickoff for political education because that is date that King delivered the speech in 1967 and the date on which he was assassinated a year later.

Although anti-Trumpism has been a unifying cause — protests in major U.S. cities have occurred almost weekly around the Trump administration's Muslim travel banStanding Rock policies and transgender rights rollback — The Majority said it wants supporters to think beyond this president.

"In the context of a new president using grandiose promises of job creation to mask the fundamentally anti-worker and pro-corporation nature of his policies, it is as important as ever that we put forth a true vision of economic justice, and worker justice, for all people," the coalition website states.



Note to Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Lynne Stewart.. Please forward widely...

Saturday, May 6,  6:30 - 9:30 pm, Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics, 518 Valencia Street, SF (near 16th Street BART), $20 - $10 sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds. Food, music/spoken word, unity and solidarity. 

Sunday, May 7, 6:30 - 10: pm, Humanist Hall, 390  27th Street, Oakland (between Telegraph and Broadway), $20 - $10 sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds. Food, music/spoken word and solidarity. 

Both events are benefits for the Lynne Stewart Organization to pay for vast family expenses.

Lynne's Stewart's lifelong companion, Ralph Poynter, will be joining us on Saturday, May 6 (518 Valencia Street, SF) and Sunday, May 7 (Humanist Hall, Oakland) in a Northern California event, "Honoring our Heroes and Martyrs" to celebrate Lynne's life and to deepen the fight for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Kevin Cooper and other frame-up victims of  racist America's criminal injustice system. For more information, to co-sponsor and help, call 510-268-9428 or email jmackler@lmi.net.

In solidarity,  Jeff Mackler, former West Coast Organizer, Lynne Stewart Defense Committee; Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal


Be in Philadelphia on Monday, April 24th, Mumia's birthday, when a major legal issue will be addressed in the Court of Common Pleas (Pennsylvania State Court) challenging the entire process of conviction that took place during the State Appeals process from 1995 to 1998.  We are simultaneously addressing Mumia's Hep C Condition, the water crisis in Pennsylvania prisons, including Mahanoy where Mumia is housed, and the current major challenge to Mumia's conviction.  These issues affect thousands of other inmates in Pennsylvania.  Collective travel information is being planned and will be disseminated within the next few days.



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



Please call to support Siddique Abdullah Hasan on hunger strike!

Call Director Gary Mohr at 614-387-0588 or email him at drc.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us as well as Northeast Regional Director Todd Ishee, 330-797-6398. 

Demand that the punishments being imposed on Jason Robb and Siddique Abdullah Hasan be reversed and that OSP authorities be severely reprimanded for violating their rights to due process and displaying bias toward them. 

Details and backstory (share this with media contacts, please):

Contact for interviews: 

Staughton and Alice Lynd: salynd@aol.com, 330-652-9635

Prison Strike Leader Moved to Infirmary after Twenty Four Days Refusing Food.

Siddique Abdullah Hasan, a national prisoner leader has been on hunger strike since Monday, February 27th. On Friday, March 24th he was moved to the infirmary, presumably due to failing health. His appeal to the Rules Infraction Board (RIB) was also denied by Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director Gary Mohr.

The administration at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) has been targeting and restricting Hasan's communication access on any pretense they can find or invent since his outspoken support for the nation-wide prisoner strike on September 9th of 2016.

Hasan and another prisoner, Jason Robb began refusing food when the OSP administration put them on a 90 day communication restriction for being interviewed by the Netflix documentary series Captives. Hasan appealed the RIB's decision, arguing that they violated policies regarding timelines, access to witnesses, and prisoners' due process rights. Director Mohr's response to the appeal was a form letter that did not address any of the issues Hasan raised.

Hasan and Robb are on death row and have been held in solitary confinement since the 1993 prison uprising in Lucasville. They believe that the ODRC and the Ohio State prosecutors targeted them after the uprising because of their role in negotiating a peaceful surrender. State officials, in both the Captives documentary and a 2013 documentary called The Shadow of Lucasville, have admitted that some prisoners were given deals to testify against Hasan, Robb and others, and that no one really knows who committed the most serious crimes during the uprising. In court, they argued the opposite to secure death penalty convictions.

The Lucasville Uprising prisoners have been fighting to tell their story for decades, and are currently suing the ODRC over an unconstitutional media blockade, which the Captives documentary crew circumvented by unofficially recording video visits with Hasan and Robb. The current hunger strike is part of an ongoing struggle for equal protection, basic human rights and survival after decades of living under the most restrictive and torturous conditions of confinement at OSP, Ohio's supermax prison.

Supporters are asking people to please call Director Gary Mohr at 614-387-0588 or email him at drc.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us as well as Northeast Regional Director Todd Ishee, 330-797-6398. Demand that the punishments being imposed on Jason Robb and Siddique Abdullah Hasan be reversed and that OSP authorities be severely reprimanded for violating their rights to due process and displaying bias toward them.

For more information on the Lucasville Uprising, the struggles of these prisoners, and the media blockade against them, please visit LucasvilleAmnesty.org.

Hasan's Conduct Report and appeal: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxez-nYn2VrpVTVESENUZENnaVU/view?usp=sharing

Gary Mohr's form letter response: https://drive.google.com/a/lucasvilleamnesty.org/file/d/0B9q-BEqATW6TeHVUUHM1ZVF5bnc/view?usp=sharing

Feb 28th announcement of hunger strike: http://www.lucasvilleamnesty.org/2017/02/uprising-prisoners-censored-respond.html

Info about the lawsuit against media blockade: http://www.lucasvilleamnesty.org/2014/04/aclu-articles-on-lucasville.html

Articles about Hasan's involvement with the September 9th prison strike: http://www.lucasvilleamnesty.org/search/label/strike%20september%209th



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



 A victory: Third Circuit Court of Appeals denies Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections appeal to deny Mumia Hep-C treatment!

Good News.  Today the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied the DOC's motion to "stay" Mariani's order that the DOC provide Mumia the Hep-C treatment pending appeal.  They had filed a motion saying that until the appeal is decided, they need not comply.  The appeals court has now rejected that argument.

This does not mean that the DOC will comply and treat Mumia ASAP. We don't know what they will try next. There has been a motion pending in front of Mariani for almost two months to find the DOC in contempt for failing to comply with his order to treat Mumia. Mumia's lawyers--Bob Boyle and Bret Grote--are consulting to figure out the next step.

Meanwhile this is a indeed a great victory, but Mumia has not been treated yet. Protest, pressure and publicity is needed to get Mumia and other prisoners Hep C treatment.



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)  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.



        2)  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.'"



        3)  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.



        4)  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.



        5)  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.



        6)  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.



        7)  U.S. Investigating Mosul Strikes Said to Have Killed Up to 200 Civilians

         MARCH 24, 2017




        BAGHDAD — The American-led military coalition in Iraq said Friday that it was investigating reports that scores of civilians — perhaps as many as 200, residents said — had been killed in recent American airstrikes in Mosul, the northern Iraqi city at the center of an offensive to drive out the Islamic State.

        If confirmed, the series of airstrikes would rank among the highest civilian death tolls in an American air mission since the United States went to war in Iraq in 2003. And the reports of civilian deaths in Mosul came immediately after two recent incidents in Syria, where the coalition is also battling the Islamic State from the air, in which activists and local residents said dozens of civilians had been killed.

        Taken together, the surge of reported civilian deaths raised questions about whether once-strict rules of engagement meant to minimize civilian casualties were being relaxed under the Trump administration, which has vowed to fight the Islamic State more aggressively.

        American military officials insisted on Friday that the rules of engagement had not changed. They acknowledged, however, that American airstrikes in Syria and Iraq had been heavier in an effort to press the Islamic State on multiple fronts.

        Col. John J. Thomas, a spokesman for the United States Central Command, said that the military was seeking to determine whether the explosion in Mosul might have been prompted by an American or coalition airstrike, or was a bomb or booby trap placed by the Islamic State.

        "It's a complicated question, and we've literally had people working nonstop throughout the night to understand it," Colonel Thomas said in an interview. He said the explosion and the reasons behind it had "gotten attention at the highest level."

        As to who was responsible, he said, "at the moment, the answer is: We don't know."

        Iraqi officers, though, say they know exactly what happened: Maj. Gen. Maan al-Saadi, a commander of the Iraqi special forces, said that the civilian deaths were a result of a coalition airstrike that his men had called in, to take out snipers on the roofs of three houses in a neighborhood called Mosul Jidideh. General Saadi said the special forces were unaware that the houses' basements were filled with civilians.

        "After the bombing we were surprised by the civilian victims," the general said, "and I think it was a trap by ISIS to stop the bombing operations and turn public opinion against us."

        General Saadi said he had demanded that the coalition pause its air campaign to assess what happened and to take stricter measures to prevent more civilian victims. Another Iraqi special forces officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said that there had been a noticeable relaxing of the coalition's rules of engagement since President Trump took office.

        Before, Iraqi officers were highly critical of the Obama administration's rules, saying that many requests for airstrikes were denied because of the risk that civilians would be hurt. Now, the officer said, it has become much easier to call in airstrikes.

        Some American military officials had also chafed at what they viewed as long and onerous White House procedures for approving strikes under the Obama administration. Mr. Trump has indicated that he is more inclined to delegate authority for launching strikes to the Pentagon and commanders in the field.

        This is the second time this week that the military has opened an investigation into civilian deaths reported to have been caused by American airstrikes. On Tuesday, Central Command said it was investigating an American airstrike in Syria on March 16 that officials said killed dozens of Qaeda operatives at a meeting place that activists and local residents maintain was part of a religious complex.

        While Defense Department officials acknowledged that the building was near a mosque, they called it an "Al Qaeda meeting site" in Jina, in Aleppo Province.

        Pentagon officials said that intelligence had indicated that Al Qaeda used the partly constructed community meeting hall as a gathering place and as a place to educate and indoctrinate fighters.

        But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 49 people had been killed in what the group described as a massacre of civilians who were undergoing religious instruction in an assembly hall and dining area for worshipers. The group has produced photos taken at the site after the strike that show a black sign outside a still-standing adjoining structure that identified it as part of the Omar ibn al-Khatab mosque.

        Chris Woods, director of Airwars, a nonprofit group that monitors civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, said that in March alone the number of reported civilian fatalities has shot up to 1,058, from 465 in December, the last full month of the Obama administration.

        "We don't know whether that's a reflection of the increased tempo of the campaign or whether it reflects changes in the rules of engagement," he said. But, he added, the recent spike in numbers "does suggest something has shifted."

        American military officials said that what has shifted is that the Iraqi military, backed by the American-led coalition, is in the middle of its biggest fight so far — the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

        In particular, the campaign for West Mosul has involved block-by-block fighting in an urban environment.

        "There's been no loosening of the rules of engagement," said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. "There are three major offensives going on right now, at the same time," he said, citing the battle for West Mosul; the encirclement of Raqqa, Syria, the Islamic State's de facto capital; and the fight for the Tabqa Dam in Syria.

        Captain Davis said that the investigation was looking into whether Islamic State fighters were responsible for the explosion in Mosul, or if an airstrike set something off.

        "There are other people on the battlefield, too," he said. "It's close quarters."

        American officials said that even the timing of the strike was still in question. Col. Joseph E. Scrocca, a spokesman for the American-led command in Baghdad, said in a statement Friday that the strike under investigation happened between March 17 and Thursday.

        The civilian death toll in Mosul was already widely described as heavy on account of Islamic State snipers and bombs, and intensified urban fighting in which artillery has been used. But there have been numerous reports from witnesses, including rescue workers and residents fleeing the fighting, about bodies being buried under rubble after heavy air bombardment.

        Many of the reports centered on the Mosul Jidideh neighborhood, where residents said airstrikes hit a number of houses in recent days, killing dozens, including many children.

        Capt. Ahmed Nuri, a soldier with Iraq's elite counterterrorism forces, who work closely with the American military and call in airstrikes, said on Thursday that his men, facing heavy sniper fire, helped collect five bodies from the rubble of a destroyed home. He said four of them were brothers — named Ali, Omar, Khalid and Saad — whose bodies were delivered to their grieving mother.

        The mother, Captain Nuri said, identified the fifth dead body as that of an Islamic State sniper who had been firing at advancing Iraqi forces from the roof of their house.

        Local officials have reacted with outrage at the latest civilian deaths, warning that they will make it more difficult to fully take the city, and will alienate civilians still in Mosul, whom the Iraqi government is counting on for assistance.

        "The repeated mistakes will make the mission to liberate Mosul from Daesh harder, and will push civilians still living under Daesh to be uncooperative with the security forces," said Abdulsattar Alhabu, the mayor of Mosul, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

        Mr. Alhabu estimated that at least 200 civilians had been killed in airstrikes in recent days in Mosul.



        8)  Toronto Schools to Cease Field Trips to U.S.

         MARCH 24, 2017





        Toronto schools have stopped planning field trips to the United States, citing concerns that some students may be turned away at the border in the wake of President Trump's latest travel ban and the American immigration authorities' newly implemented "extreme vetting" procedures.

        At the same time, many Canadian universities are seeing a sharp increase in international student applications while foreign applications to many colleges in the United States have declined.

        The field trip decision by the Toronto District School Board, the largest board in the country, was the latest disruption in travel from Canada to the United States as the Trump administration tightens the borders. Canada's Girl Guides and the Greater Essex County District School Board in Windsor, Ontario, earlier suspended trips across the border given the uncertainties surrounding the ban.

        "We don't want to put our students in the position of traveling down to the border with their friends and classmates on a trip and then being told they cannot enter the U.S. for no legitimate reason," said Ryan Bird, a spokesman for the Toronto board.

        He said that 25 trips involving about 900 students would go forward because they were already booked, but that no new trips would be planned for either students or staff members until further notice. The district normally sends dozens of school groups to the United States each year.

        Mr. Bird said that should anyone on the trips already booked be turned away at the border, the trip would be canceled. If the board hears that this is happening repeatedly, or if the executive order is eventually implemented, all booked trips will be canceled for the remainder of the year.

        Mr. Bird noted that the Toronto district, with about 246,000 students in 584 schools, was one of the most diverse in the world, with students from "every corner of the globe, including the six countries referenced in the order."

        Mr. Trump's latest executive order would place a 90-day ban on citizens from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the country unless they have valid visas. The order has been suspended pending court challenges in several states.

        The divergent political climate between the United States of Mr. Trump and the Canada of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is throwing other trends into high relief.

        While many American universities are seeing a drop in applications from international students, international student applications continue to climb at Canadian universities, including in some cases a sharp rise from the United States.

        Applications from the United States to Ryerson University in Toronto are up sharply, rising 82 percent for the 12 months through March from the same period last year. The university has seen a 25 percent increase in international applications over all, said Marisa Modeski, Ryerson's assistant director of student recruitment.

        "With respect to Trump, we see that as a potential influencer for application growth, but there are so many positive influencers that people need to pay attention to," Ms. Modeski said. She cited the cost differential — Canadian universities are less expensive than many American universities, and the Canadian dollar is weaker than the American one.

        The University of Toronto said it had seen a stunning 80 percent leap in applications from the United States in the 12-month period ending in March, compared with the same period a year earlier.

        Ted Sargent, international vice president at the university, said the quality of the institution and job prospects for its graduates were the top two attractions. But he says students have told him that a third reason is the country's "inclusive environment."

        "A lot of students are attracted by that ethos," he said.

        The University of Toronto's trends are the opposite of those found among 250 American colleges surveyed last month by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

        Among the colleges that responded, 39 percent reported a drop in international applications for the fall, 35 percent reported an increase and 26 percent reported no change in applicant numbers.

        The study did not give comparable figures for the previous year, but international student enrollment in the United States has been steadily growing in recent years, reaching a record one million students for the first time during the 2015-16 academic year.

        Many respondents reported growing concern among prospective students and their families about the harsher climate in the United States for foreigners.

        While the survey reported 26 percent of United States schools surveyed saw a decline in applications from India and 39 percent saw a decline in those from the Middle East, the University of Toronto has seen a 60 percent increase in applications from India and a 54 percent increase from the United Arab Emirates alone.

        McGill University in Montreal said it had a 21 percent increase in undergraduate applicants from the United States, with a 25 percent increase in international undergraduate applicants from everywhere else. That compares with a 13 percent increase in international undergraduate applicants from March 2015 to March 2016.

        "The number of international (specifically overseas) applicants has been growing somewhat over the last few years, although not to the same extent as in 2017," Kathleen Massey, McGill's executive director of enrollment, said in an email.

        She said that Canadian universities, including McGill, had become increasingly active in recruiting overseas, but added that the changing political landscape in the United States, Britain and elsewhere may be playing a part.



        9)  College Is the Goal. The Problem? Getting There.

         MARCH 24, 2017





        TOPEKA, Kan. — She was a blur of motion — leading the school step-dance team, working long hours after school at a beauty products store, mentoring younger students and caring for her siblings. So TaTy'Terria Gary, a senior at Topeka High School, had little time last fall to study for the ACT college admission test.

        She was crushed when she scored below the threshold for admission to some local universities. She saw her dreams of being the first in her family to go to college and becoming a gynecologist turning to dust.

        "I was angry at myself," she said. "I had underestimated the test."

        College is the great leveler of American life, and the great divider, too. College graduates typically earn more money, are more satisfied with their jobs and are less likely to be on public assistance than people with only high school degrees. Students understand this; the aspiration to go to college is now almost universal.

        Getting there, though, is another matter.

        For young people with college-educated parents, the path to higher education may be stressful, but there is a road map. If their standardized test scores are too low, they can pay for a prep course; if their essay is lackluster, they can hire a writing coach. No one will be the wiser. If they can't decide which college is the "best fit," they can visit. When they are tempted to give up, their parents will push them on.

        But for many working-class students, like TaTy and most of her classmates at Topeka High, there is no money for test prep or essay help. The alternatives to higher education — joining the military, working for $13 an hour at the local factory or getting a cheaper, faster trade-school certificate — are alluring. The cost of college may seem formidable.

        At a basic level, many of these students simply lack the knowledge of how to manage the increasingly complex college applications process.

        "They know that everybody goes to college, and they don't know what that means," said Robert D. Putnam, a public policy professor at Harvard, whose book "Our Kids" looks at the widening class divisions in America. "They're going down that path without anybody holding their hands."

        Among the barriers are less quantifiable psychological ones. Students who are not exposed to a college-going culture have trouble even imagining themselves at a university, beyond, perhaps, a community college close to home.

        "You need someone to tell you at the critical moment, 'You can do this,'" said Harold O. Levy, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which gives scholarships to low-income students. 

        For students like TaTy and her classmates, the difference between going to college and not going is often small gestures or luck — placement in a college prep program, a mentor's interest, a parent's encouragement, their own steely perseverance.

        "My mother wants me to go out of state," TaTy said. "She feels like Topeka is not a good place for people who have dreams."

        Over the last few months, TaTy and two of her classmates, Nathan Triggs and Zachary Shaner, grappled with decisions about college and made their way out of childhood, through money worries, broken families and peer pressure, into the next phase of their lives. Each followed a different path, but in combination, they tell a story of students at an average school in the middle of America trying to find a better future.


        College Is a Backup

        A dove hurtles out of the cedar trees, but Nate Triggs, in camouflage vest and cowboy boots, cradles his Mossberg shotgun and lets it fly. The dove is borderline out of range, he said. He would have to be lucky.

        Like the dove, college feels borderline out of reach to Nate too. He gets conflicting signals from home and school about whether it's even a good idea.

        His parents split before he was born. On weekends, he lives on his father's farm outside of Holton, a 45-minute drive from Topeka, where he lives during the week with his mother and goes to Topeka High. There is little doubt of his academic ambition. When he was in seventh grade, he eagerly signed up for a college prep program.

        This school year, the college prep teacher urged the students to expand their horizons, to make lists of "best fit," "stretch" and "safety" colleges and to think of what they would major in. Nate thought maybe he would pursue architecture. He had built a hip roof worthy of Frank Lloyd Wright, though he had never heard of him.

        Or maybe he would study wildlife management. He was upset by the misuse of hunting to garner trophies, not food.

        "I'm just trying to play my options," he said early in his senior year. "I don't know what I want to do yet."

        His school is a Depression-era temple to education, with Gothic arches and a carillon tower. But the college-going culture is far from pervasive.

        More than 60 percent of the 1,800 students are low-income. Only half the senior class of about 400 took the ACT college admission test in the 2015-16 school year, and only 30 students took Advanced Placement tests, a measure of college readiness (though many more took the classes).

        About half of Topeka High's senior class went on to college in 2014, according to the latest state data.

        "All of the counselors firmly believe the philosophy that college is great," a counselor said at senior parent information night, even while pushing trade school programs in phlebotomy and cosmetology. "We want to get your kids there if that's where they want to go. But it's not the only option, and sometimes it's not even the best option."

        At another assembly, a business development group promoted jobs paying $13 to $19 an hour at companies like Hill's Pet Nutrition, Frito-Lay, Goodyear and the chocolate manufacturer Mars Inc.

        Nate's mother, a secretary, fondly remembers high school French and ceramics. She thinks it would be "awesome" for Nate to go to college, but, never having been, she has left the process to him. His father, a handyman who also never got beyond high school, encouraged Nate to make his own decisions.

        His older brother, Ethan, dropped out of high school and has been homeless on and off for two years. His foster grandfather suggested the military as a place to explore his options. Most of his friends in Holton are going to technical school.

        During his senior year, Nate took a construction job to pay for his cellphone and gas. His grades dropped — from B to D in AP government, his favorite class, and from B to F in physics. He never took the ACT.

        "I'm pretty done with high school," he said.

        One night at a Mexican restaurant, a boy from Holton sneered, "Your pants are too short." "I felt like fighting that guy," Nate said. His mother flashed him a warning look. "I didn't say I was going to fight him," Nate said. "I said I felt like fighting him."

        Concerned, the Topeka High principal, Rebecca Morrisey, recommended him for an internship at Westar Energy. He is in heaven, earning union wage as a fleet mechanic after school.

        The internship has concentrated his thinking, for now: trade school, like his Holton friends. "I want to get into what I want to actually do," he said. "College is my, like, Plan B."


        A Guidance Counselor's Help

        When the marching band received dress uniform hats last fall, Zachary Shaner was truant. So he rummaged around the band room and found an old hat that he hoped would work. It didn't. It was the wrong color and it had a broken black feather plume on top.

        That was Zac, the familiar character in many high schools: the brilliant student who does not live up to his potential.

        In elementary school, he was steered into the gifted track by his high IQ, but once in high school, he often chose easy courses to skate through. But he found a vocation in music.

        He plays bass, guitar, piano and saxophone — self-taught — and has progressed from covers of Johnny Cash to composing his own songs, drenched with teenage anomie, and performing at the Boobie Trap, a dive bar.

        Zac was a mostly A student until his junior year, when he took a job bagging groceries at Mike's IGA so he could buy musical equipment. His grades plunged, along with his hopes to go to college to become a sound engineer.

        His home life is hard. His mother, Charla Shaner, has a degree in early childhood education but depends on disability and child support payments to pay the bills. His older brother, Chris, 20, was too depressed to apply to college. Ms. Shaner's ex-husband, retired from the military, lives in another city and communicates with Zac mainly through birthday cards.

        But Zac had one advantage: the interest of his guidance counselor, Harry M. Peterson Jr., a debonair accordion player in his 70s, with an office full of pennants from places like Kenyon, Rice and Emory.

        Mr. Peterson believed in Zac and urged him to aim high. Zac scored 27, in the 86th percentile, on the ACT without taking a review course. He seemed like a good fit for a small but selective college, like Grinnell or Oberlin, that would value his creative spark and could offer scholarship money.

        Zac had never heard of either. "My spark is intimidated," he said early in his senior year.

        He told everyone he was going to Washburn University, the local public university, because he thought he could get close to a free ride there and live at home. But Mr. Peterson's encouragement sank in.

        Without telling anyone, Zac applied to the University of Kansas just before the Nov. 1 scholarship deadline. He was admitted and automatically awarded $1,000 a year based on his high grade point average and ACT score. Elated, he decided to major in film.

        "As a musician, I've loved some of the soundtracks even more than the films," he said, listing John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, Danny Elfman and James Horner as movie composers he admired.

        In December, he found out that as a high-achieving, poor student from Kansas, he qualified for grants of about $10,900 a year, enough to cover tuition and fees.

        "Wow," Zac said.

        He could double his scholarship to $2,000 a year if he took the ACT again and scored just one point higher.

        But he thought he had done as well as he could.


        When Luck Meets Persistence

        TaTy's mother was 17 when she gave birth to TaTy, an event that dashed her own college aspirations. So she encouraged her daughter to follow a different path. Her guidance had an effect.

        For TaTy's 16th birthday, she asked for a "purity ring," a silver ring symbolizing a pledge that she will abstain from sex before marriage, or until she is ready. She has focused her energies on her schooling and getting into college.

        She and her mother, Tracy, felt that staying in Kansas would hold her back, but she had little idea where to go. She searched for colleges online. Her mother drove her to Ohio State, and she considered Oklahoma Baptist University because she liked the idea of a spiritual element in her education.

        But when she met Jennifer Stark Fry, a private college counselor from Wichita, she began to think more strategically.

        Ms. Fry read about TaTy, Nate and Zac in dispatches I wrote about them last fall and offered to help all three get into college. Only TaTy responded.

        Knowing TaTy wanted to be a doctor, Ms. Fry took her and her mother on a tour of Newman University, a Catholic university in Wichita, Kan., with a strong pre-med program. (And she reminded TaTy to send thank-you notes.)

        The Newman admission officers were impressed by TaTy's 3.7 grade point average, but she had scored an incongruously low 16 on the ACT, and their threshold was 18.

        Newman urged her to take the test again in December.

        The test fee was waived because TaTy was so poor; her mother works at a group home for troubled children, and her father is absent, in and out of jail. But she would have to pay $52.50 for her last-minute registration and a date change. She had 24 hours to come up with the money, and her paycheck was not due for a week.

        She was about to give up when a local real estate broker, Helen Crow, came to the rescue. Her own daughter had gone from Topeka High to Stanford, and she could not stomach the thought of a future derailed for want of so little money.

        In a second lucky break, Sean Bird, a dean at Washburn University who knew TaTy's mother, arranged for her to take practice tests in the university library.

        After two weeks of practice, TaTy raised her score to 18, a huge leap, to the 39th percentile from the 26th.

        Newman accepted her on Jan. 5, her 18th birthday. "Feeling accomplished," she wrote on her Facebook page.

        She received $26,400 in scholarship and grant money off the $37,382 annual cost of tuition, room, board and fees. Though generous, it fit with a common practice of colleges, offering less money than students need.

        She would have to pay for the rest through a combination of loans and work study or cash. For a middle-class family, roughly $40,000 in debt might be a molehill. For TaTy, whose financial aid form listed parental income of less than $20,000 a year, it is a mountain. Still, she is not giving up.

        She said yes to Newman and is looking for more scholarship money.



        10)   Arkansas Struggles to Find Enough People to Watch Executions

         MARCH 25, 2017




        The state of Arkansas, which plans to execute eight inmates over 10 days next month, is struggling to overcome a logistical problem to carry that out: There are not enough people who want to watch them die.

        state law requires that at least six people witness an execution to ensure that the state's death penalty laws are properly followed. But so far, finding that many volunteer witnesses to cover all of the scheduled executions has proved difficult, prompting the director at the Department of Correction to take the extraordinary step of personally seeking volunteers.

        A department spokesman declined to say whom the director, Wendy Kelley, has approached for help, but she has extended invitations at least to members of the Little Rock Rotary Club, according to news reports. Ms. Kelley made the request, which the members initially thought was a joke, after delivering a keynote address on Tuesday.

        "You seem to be a group that does not have felony backgrounds and are over 21," Ms. Kelley told the Rotarians, according to The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "So if you're interested in serving in that area, in this serious role, just call my office."

        Bill Booker, a Rotary Club member, said some people in the audience initially laughed at Ms. Kelley's remarks. "It quickly became obvious that she was not kidding," he told KARK-TV, an NBC affiliate in Little Rock.

        The spokesman for the Department of Correction, Solomon Graves, declined to describe the response Ms. Kelley had received to her requests. "We continue to be confident in our ability to carry out these sentences on the dates set by the governor," Mr. Graves wrote in a text message on Friday.

        Under Arkansas state law, execution witnesses must be at least 21 years old and a resident of the state, cannot have a felony conviction and cannot be related to the death row inmate or a victim in the case.

        Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month scheduled the executions of eight men — four black and four white, and all convicted of murder — from April 17 to 27. Two men will be executed on each of four execution dates.

        The Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington-based group that provides analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment, says on its website that no other state has conducted as many as eight executions in a month since capital punishment resumed in the United States in 1977.

        The dates were placed so closely together because of another logistical issue: Arkansas's supply of midazolam, a sedative used in a three-drug injection method, has an expiration date at the end of April.

        Capital punishment has been suspended in Arkansas since 2005 because of legal challenges and the difficulty in acquiring lethal-injection drugs. The state tried to restart its capital punishment system in 2015 and set dates for that year, but appeals forced the postponement of the executions.

        The state law requires six to 12 "respectable citizens" to be present, and Ms. Kelley told the Rotary Club that the state had also struggled in 2015 to find enough witnesses for the executions before they were suspended.



        11)  What Comes Next for Obamacare? The Case for Medicare for All

        Republicans are in a bind. They've been promising to repeal Obamacare for seven years, and having won control of the White House and Congress, they had to try to deliver. But while their bitter denunciations of the Affordable Care Act may have depressed its approval numbers, they didn't make replacing it any easier.

        On the contrary, the repeal-and-replace bill designed by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan drew withering criticism from the left and the right. Liberals condemned its use of reductions in health coverage for the poor to pay for large tax cuts for the wealthy, while conservatives bemoaned its retention of many subsidies adopted under Obamacare.

        In the end, the repeal effort's biggest hurdle may have been loss aversion, one of the most robust findings in behavioral science. As numerous studies have shown, the pain of losing something you already have is much greater than the pleasure of having gained it in the first place. And the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that Mr. Ryan's American Health Care Act (A.H.C.A.) would have caused more than 14 million people to lose coverage in the first year alone, with total losses rising to 24 million over the next decade. Many Republicans in Congress were nervous about the political firestorm already provoked by the mere prospect of such losses.

        Loss aversion actually threatened the repeal effort on two fronts: voters' fear of losing their coverage, and lawmakers' fear of losing their seats. Like the first fear, the second appeared well grounded. Republican voters wouldn't have been the only ones losing coverage, of course, but early studies suggested that losses would have been concentrated among people who voted for President Trump. The Congressional Budget Office estimated, for example, that the A.H.C.A. would have caused premiums to rise more than sevenfold in 2026 for 64-year-olds making $26,500.

        Now that Republicans have withdrawn Mr. Ryan's bill from consideration, attention shifts to what comes next. In an earlier column, I suggested that Mr. Trump has the political leverage, which President Obama did not, to jettison the traditional Republican approach in favor of a form of the single-payer health care that most other countries use. According to Physicians for a National Health Program, an advocacy group, "Single-payer national health insurance, also known as 'Medicare for all,' is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health care financing, but the delivery of care remains largely in private hands." Christopher Ruddy, a friend and adviser of the president, recently urged him to consider this option.

        Many Republicans who want to diminish government's role in health care view the single-payer approach with disdain. But Mr. Trump often seems to take pleasure in being unpredictable, and since he will offend people no matter which way he turns, he may want to consider why liberals and conservatives in many other countries have embraced the single-payer approach.

        Part of the appeal of Medicare for all is that single-payer systems reduce financial incentives that generate waste and abuse. Mr. Ryan insisted that by relegating health care to private insurers, competition would lead to lower prices and higher quality. Economic theory tells us that this is a reasonable expectation when certain conditions are met. A crucial one is that buyers must be able to compare the quality of offerings of different sellers. In practice, however, people have little knowledge of the treatment options for the various maladies they might suffer, and policy language describing insurance coverage is notoriously complex and technical. Consumers simply cannot make informed quality comparisons in this industry.

        In contrast, they can easily compare the prices charged by competing insurance companies. This asymmetry induces companies to compete by highlighting the lower prices they're able to offer if they cut costs by degrading the quality of their offerings. For example, it's common for insurance companies to deny payment for procedures that their policies seem to cover. If policy holders complain loudly enough, they may eventually get reimbursed, but the money companies save by not paying others confers a decisive competitive advantage over rivals that don't employ this tactic. Such haggling is uncommon under single-payer systems like Medicare (though it is sometimes employed by private insurers that supplement Medicare).

        Consider, too, the mutually offsetting expenditures on competitive advertising and other promotional efforts of private insurers, which can exceed 15 percent of total revenue. Single-payer plans like Medicare spend nothing on competitive advertising (although here, also, we see such expenditures by supplemental insurers).

        According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, administrative costs in Medicare are only about 2 percent of total operating expenditures, less than one-sixth of the rate estimated for the private insurance industry. This difference does not mean that private insurers are evil. It's a simple consequence of a difference in the relevant economic incentives.

        American health care outlays per capita in 2015 were more than twice the average of those in the 35 advanced countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Yet despite that spending difference, the system in the United States delivers significantly less favorable outcomes on measures like longevity and the incidence of chronic illness.

        But advertising expenses and administrative costs are not the most important reason the United States spends so much more. The main difference is that prices for medical services are so much lower in other countries. In France, for example, a magnetic resonance imaging exam costs $363, on average, compared with $1,121 in the United States; an appendectomy is $4,463 in France, versus $13,851 in America. These differences stem largely from the fact that single payers — which is to say, governments — are typically able to negotiate more favorable terms with service providers.

        In short, Medicare for all could deliver quality care at much lower cost than private insurers do now. People would of course be free to supplement their public coverage with private insurance, as they now do in most other countries with single-payer systems, and as many older Americans do with Medicare.

        As a candidate, Mr. Trump repeatedly promised that everyone in the country would be covered at reasonable cost under an amazing new health plan. But it is now clear that the A.H.C.A. could not have delivered on that promise. The president, who has not always had a close relationship with Mr. Ryan, may consider changing course and working across party lines to develop support for universal access to Medicare.

        Then again, he may fear that move would be seen as a sign of weakness or defeat. But the research findings on loss aversion make one thing clear: Any setback from that change in strategy would pale in comparison to the damage he would have suffered if the A.H.C.A. had actually become law.



        12)  The Tooth Divide: Beauty, Class and the Story of Dentistry

         MARCH 23, 2017



        The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America

        By Mary Otto

        291 pp. The New Press. $26.95.

        Politicians, journalists and researchers have a long-running problem when it comes to talking about class. The definitions we use are myriad and not always overlapping. Is the boundary of the middle class a college degree, a certain level of income? Perhaps a certain type of job: a teacher or a doctor versus a coal miner or factory worker? We might be missing a still more useful — and more personal — indicator, however.

        This is the premise, though not so bluntly stated, of Mary Otto's new book, "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." The dividing line between the classes might be starkest between those who spend thousands of dollars on a gleaming smile and those who suffer and even die from preventable tooth decay.

        If the idea of death from tooth decay is shocking, it might be because we so rarely talk about the condition of our teeth as a serious health issue. Instead, we think of our teeth as the ultimate personal responsibility. We fear the dentist because we fear judgment as well as pain; we are used to the implication that if we have a tooth problem, if our teeth are decaying or crooked or yellow, it is because we have failed, and failed at something so intimate that it means we ourselves are failures.

        Otto's book begins and ends with the story of Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old Maryland boy who died of an infection caused by one decaying tooth, and the system that failed him. In pointing out the flaws in that system, Otto takes us back through the history of dentistry and shows us how the dental profession evolved, separately from the rest of health care, into a mostly private industry that revolves almost entirely around one's ability to pay. In other words, all of the problems with health care in America exist in the dental system, but exponentially more so.

        On the high end of the $110 billion-a-year dental industry, there are veneers for $1,000 each, "gum contouring" and more than $1 billion per year spent on tooth whitening products. A dentist tells Otto that members of his profession "once exclusively focused upon fillings and extractions, are nowadays considered providers of beauty." And thanks to decades of deregulation, allowing medical advertising and then medical credit cards, they are doing well at it — according to a 2010 study, dentists make more per hour than doctors.

        But on the other end of the spectrum, which stretches from a free clinic in Appalachia to the Indian Health Service in remote Alaska to a mobile clinic in Prince George's County, Md., dental providers struggle to see all of those who cannot access regular care. One-third of white children go without dental care, Otto notes; that number is closer to one-half for black and Latino children. Forty-nine million people live in "dental professional shortage areas," and even for those who do have benefits under public programs like Medicaid, which ostensibly covered Deamonte Driver and his siblings, it can be difficult to find a provider. The dentist treating Driver's brother DaShawn, Otto writes, "discontinued treatments because DaShawn squirmed too much in the dental chair." Medicare doesn't cover routine dental services. Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps, the charity that operated the temporary clinic in Appalachia, was begun to reach suffering people in developing countries, but wound up seeing Americans. "We have a very serious social problem that we are trying to solve with private means," a researcher tells Otto.

        Yet in a country where the party in power fights tooth and nail against expanding regular health care benefits, what chance do we have of publicly funded dental care? After Deamonte Driver's death, elected officials battled to add dental benefits to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (Schip), only to see the law vetoed by George W. Bush. Barack Obama signed the Schip expansion in February 2009; newly confirmed Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price voted against it.

        Donald Trump, who has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and who nominated Price, makes a cameo in "Teeth," looming over the Miss U.S.A. pageant as the owner of the Miss Universe Organization, a subtle reminder of which side of the American divide — on teeth as on everything — Trump stands.

        The focus on pageant competitors underlines another divide in the dental profession, one between men and women. Though more women are dentists these days, the job of hygienist grew from men's expectations of women's appropriate work, and it has always, Otto notes, made dentists nervous when hygienists move to be more independent. Plans to put dental hygienists in public schools, for instance, have been squashed by dentists' associations. Yet Otto rarely brings up the role of sexism, leaving the reader to ask the unanswered questions — if the dental industry revolves around beauty, who is consuming most of these beautifying treatments? Those in the service professions, it's reasonable to assume, most of whom are women.

        In addition to the fear of competition from hygienists, Otto details dentistry's fear of socialized medicine and how that fear kept the profession largely privatized — it is likely not an accident that the invention of still rare dental insurance came from a man named Max Schoen, who "earned the distinction of being the first dentist to be called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities." Working with the legendary labor leader "Red" Harry Bridges, Schoen helped the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union set up not just a dental plan but a racially integrated prepaid dental practice to provide the care. It could have laid the groundwork for a radically different dental care system from the one we have now. Instead, the decline of union jobs in America has led to a corresponding decline in dental benefits. Like hygienists, Schoen wanted to focus on prevention and earned the ire of conservative dentists.

        Those conservative dentists used their social clout as medical providers to consolidate their own power over their industry, to control hygienists and rebels like Schoen, yet ultimately they wanted their practices to be treated more like optional services bought on the free market than social goods.

        Otto does not say such things outright. A veteran journalist, she never strays into polemic even when her material screams for it. She has a knack, though, for an illustrative anecdote that underscores her point about inequality, for example that in the 1800s, poor people would sell their teeth to the rich, whose own had rotted away from the consumption of sweets that the poor could not afford. Other times, she raises a fascinating fact — such as the idea that the extraction of wisdom teeth may be unnecessary, but continues to be performed on patients who can pay — only to move on, leaving the reader wanting more.

        The problem of oral health in America is, Otto argues, part of the larger debate about health that is likely to grow larger and nastier in the upcoming months. At the moment, our broader health care system at least tenuously operates on the belief that no one should be denied health care because of ability to pay. But dental care is still associated in our minds with cosmetic practices, with beauty and privilege. It is simultaneously frivolous, a luxury for those who can waste money, and a personal responsibility that one is harshly judged for neglecting. In this context, "Teeth" becomes more than an exploration of a two-tiered system — it is a call for sweeping, radical change.



        13)  After Barring Girls for Leggings, United Airlines Defends Decision

         MARCH 26, 2017


        United Airlines barred two teenage girls from boarding a flight on Sunday morning and required a child to change into a dress after a gate agent decided the leggings they were wearing were inappropriate. That set off waves of anger on social media, with users criticizing what they called an intrusive, sexist policy, but the airline maintained its support for the gate agent's decision.

        The girls, who were about to board a flight to Minneapolis, were turned away at the gate at Denver International Airport, the company said on Sunday. United doubled down on that decision, defending it in a series of tweets on Sunday.

        The incident was first reported on Twitter by Shannon Watts, a passenger at the airport who was waiting to board a flight to Mexico. In a telephone interview from Mexico on Sunday afternoon, Ms. Watts said she noticed two visibly upset teenage girls leaving the gate next to hers. Both were wearing leggings.

        Ms. Watts went over to the neighboring gate and saw a "frantic" family with two young girls, one of whom was also wearing leggings, engaged in a tense exchange with a gate agent who told them, "I don't make the rules, I just enforce them."

        Ms. Watts said the girl's mother told her the two teenagers had just been turned away because the gate agent said their pants were not appropriate travel attire. The woman had a dress in her carry-on bag that the child was able to pull on over her pants, and the family boarded the flight.

        "The girl pulled a dress on," Ms. Watts said. "But please keep in mind that the dad had on shorts that did not hit his knee — they stopped maybe two or three inches above his knee — and there was no issue with that."

        Ms. Watts judged that the two girls who were barred from boarding were in their "young teens" and the girl who changed into a dress was 10 or 11.

        Ms. Watts described the situation in a series of tweets before her flight to Mexico took off. By the time she landed her tweets had been shared widely, often accompanied by sharp criticism directed at the airline.

        Jonathan Guerin, a spokesman for United, confirmed that two teenage girls were told they could not board a flight from Denver to Minneapolis because their leggings violated the company's dress code policy for "pass travelers," a company benefit that allows United employees and their dependents to travel for free on a standby basis.

        Mr. Guerin said pass travelers are "representing" the company and as such are not allowed to wear Lycra and spandex leggings, tattered or ripped jeans, midriff shirts, flip-flops or any article of clothing that shows their undergarments.

        "It's not that we want our standby travelers to come in wearing a suit and tie or that sort of thing," he said. "We want people to be comfortable when they travel as long as it's neat and in good taste for that environment."

        He said both teenage girls stayed behind in Denver, "made an adjustment" to their outfits and waited for the next flight to Minneapolis. Mr. Guerin did not know if they had successfully boarded or not, and also had no information about the girl Ms. Watts said she saw change into a dress at the gate.

        The company largely confirmed Ms. Watts's account earlier in the day in a response to her on Twitter that did little to mollify the concerns of its critics.

        In a series of dozens of tweets, the company said the incident was not simply the result of an overzealous gate agent. Instead, it said United Airlines reserved the right to deny service to anyone its employees deemed to be inappropriately dressed. It also referred to the dress code applied to pass travelers.

        "In our Contract of Carriage, Rule 21, we do have the right to refuse transport for passengers who are barefoot or not properly clothed," the company tweeted. It added, "There is a dress code for pass travelers as they are representing UA when they fly."

        Few critics appeared to be satisfied by that explanation, which also did little to de-escalate a perilous public relations situation for the company. United was the target of scores of angry and mocking tweets on Sunday, including from social media-savvy celebrities like the model Chrissy Teigen and the actor LeVar Burton.

        By Sunday afternoon, the company's Twitter account was engaged in a tense back and forth with the Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Arquette, who posted dozens of angry tweets about the situation.

        Employees running United's Twitter account spent the day walking a public relations tightrope: explaining to angry social media users why the company was not wrong to bar the young women from boarding, while reassuring potential customers that they would not also be barred if they showed up in leggings.

        People like to be comfortable when they fly, Ms. Watts said, and leggings and yoga pants have become standard casual attire for women.

        "I'm pretty sure yoga pants are a thing," Ms. Watts said. "They're part of modern America. They're a staple, a go-to clothing item."

        Mr. Guerin said the company was aware of the criticism leveled at its social media team, but said they were "working as hard as they can."

        "We could have stopped to immediately ask the right questions," he said. "We are always engaging with our customers as quickly as possible. Now we are going back. All day we've been going back since that earlier tweet. Now we're going back and telling people what is actually going on."



        14)  Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in D.C. Set for August 

        Organizer Krystal Roundtree says this is a call to end legalized slavery in the United States

        March 27, 2017


        EDDIE CONWAY: Welcome to The Real News. I'm Eddie Conway coming to you from Baltimore. Thanks for joining me again for rather than the bars. 

        This is part two of a segment and we are going to look at the national prison strike that was organized in the national prison and march ... being organized. And joining me is Krystal Rountree, one of the organizers.

        Krystal, thanks for joining me. The last thing segment we talked about your organization and what you were doing. Now I need to know what is it that you all plan to do networking through the country for this March in Washington, D.C. Kind of explain it to me, what the march is about and who's involved?

        KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: Absolutely. The Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington will be taking place August 19th of this year. We're so excited. August is just around the corner from now. This has been something that has been in the works for over a year and a half at this point. This was the idea directly from the prisoners themselves. 

        The idea is to address issues that the prison class face. Specifically, as it relates to prison slavery, allowed by the 13th amendment of the U.S. constitution. 

        You know, the goals of the march, we have two demands specifically. The first demand is that the exception clause be removed from the 13th amendment. The second demand of ours is to demand a congressional hearing take place to recognize that, as it stands, this is currently a human rights violation. So, we're working with legislators, lobbyists, etcetera, to take this where it needs to go so we can be successful. 

        It is important to note that this is not just a march, we have goals, tangible goals, that we are trying to accomplish. We're trying to change the Constitution and, as you can imagine, this is a huge, humongous undertaking. This is a people- powered grassroots movement. And so it really has required of the people to get involved, to do their part to support this. And I'm proud to say that this is growing. It is turning into a national movement at this point. It's long overdue. 

        And as I mentioned before in your first segment, this is not a new issue. But it is something in 2017 there's absolutely no reason why slavery is still legal in this country for certain classes of people, particularly the prison class. 

        EDDIE CONWAY: Well, tell me, Krystal, what other organizations is helping you? I know you have the support of IAMWE, which is your organization. Who else is involved? Who's helping you?

        KRYSTALROUNTREE: At this point, there are over 50 organizations that have joined our solidarity list. Feel free to check out our website iamWE ...com. That entire list is listed there on our website, and that list continues to grow. 

        Some of the people that have been involved right from the start, for instance, would be George Jackson University. We also have the support of the Black Lives Matter Charleston Chapter involved in this. We have the support of the U.S. Criminal Rights Network involved with this. And the list goes on, and it does continue to grow. We've actually been amazed by the organizations, the groups, and the individuals that have come out in support of this. 

        I think something about this march is that this specific issue is something that we all can rally around. We can all agree on this call. And so, our allies are a diverse collective of individuals from all races, from all backgrounds, united in this cause to end legal slavery here in this country. 

        EDDIE CONWAY: Okay well, where in Washington, D.C. are you going to be and what time? The date is the 19th obviously, but what time are you going to be there? And exactly where are you going to be?

        KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: We will be hosting this demonstration on the National Mall. It is slated to begin at 12 noon through 5PM. In addition to the march taking place in Washington D.C., there are several solidarity demonstrations that will be taking place throughout the country and, we hope, internationally as well. 

        August the 19th we want the entire world to know, regardless of where you ware, that this is a day that we collectively stand up for the prisoners and address the human rights violations that are taking place in this country and, now, internationally.

        EDDIE CONWAY: Okay. Well, is it possible that maybe in a week or two I could talk to somebody that's working with you that could kind of explain the details of the 13th Amendment, and what's actually involved in trying to get that exclusionary clause removed? 

        KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: Absolutely. You know, my hat is off to all of the abolitionists, to all of the individuals and we have some really great and knowledgeable people involved here in this movement. And so, it would be wonderful if we could highlight some of those individuals to give a deeper understanding into the 13th Amendment, and what it is, specifically, that we are fighting for, and why.

        EDDIE CONWAY: I guess one final question is the Free Alabama movement, which played a key role in that national strike last year. Are they involved, engaged, working with you?

        KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, there is an inside component and there is an outside component to this movement. And, as I mentioned in the beginning, it was originated by the prisoners and so we have a collective of prisoners, including the Free Alabama Movement, that are organizing and in solidarity with this event. Some of those groups include Free Alabama, The Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, the Free Ohio Movement, Unheard Voices, Amend the 13th. 

        And so, we're at a point in history, as we call it, this is the evolution of the prison resistance movement. This is the new face here where we are working together the inside forces with the outside forces to really make this happen. And so, I'm super excited to be a part of this. I'm humbled by the opportunity to represent the prisoners in this fashion. And, again, this is a march with a goal, and a mission, and a purpose. A majority of the work will actually take place after the march. 

        So, I just wanted to share that with you.

        EDDIE CONWAY: Okay. All right well, I'm going to try to follow this. And I'm certainly going to get back in touch with you and see if we can have somebody that can explain the details of the 13th Amendment issue, and why it needs to be changed. But if something comes up before then can you kind of keep me posted and we can look at it?

        KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: Absolutely. We'll keep you posted and with this movement things are changing often, and new people are coming along often, and new faces are coming along often, and so things do change rapidly. But I will certainly keep you and the folks at The Real News informed of what's going on with the Millions for Prisoners Civil Rights March.

        EDDIE CONWAY: Okay. Thanks for joining me. 

        KRYSTAL ROUNTREE: Thank you so much.

        EDDIE CONWAY: And thank you for joining The Real News.



        15)  An Alabama Prison's Unrelenting Descent Into Violence

         MARCH 28, 2017




        SPRINGVILLE, Ala. — The door opened and there stood a man with knives in both hands. Michael McGregor recognized him immediately. Since Mr. McGregor had arrived at the prison the day before, the man had twice propositioned him for sex and asked if he wanted to buy a knife.

        Mr. McGregor, 52, with a long but mostly nonviolent record — some bad checks, a stolen car, a couple of two-decade-old minor robberies — had been unnerved enough to request a move to a different part of the prison. No, he was told. Not right now.

        He returned to his cell, shut the door behind him and tried to sleep.

        Now here was the man beside him. The door locks at this prison, he later learned, were all but useless. The man, he would also learn, had been convicted of jail rape before.

        "You know what time it is," the man said.

        Attacks, like the one on Mr. McGregor, which left him "pouring blood like a water hose," have happened with grim regularity at St. Clair Correctional Facility, one of six maximum-security prisons in Alabama. In recent years, even by the standards of one of the nation's most dysfunctional prison systems, St. Clair stood out for its violence.

        "The frequency of assaults resulting in life-threatening injuries is quite simply among the highest I have observed in my 43-year career in corrections," Steve J. Martin, who has examined hundreds of prisons nationwide as a corrections expert, wrote in a 2016 report prepared for a lawsuit over conditions at St. Clair. The prison reflected "a total breakdown of the necessary basic structures that are required to operate a prison safely," he added in an interview.

        In October, the Justice Department announced an investigation into all of the male prisons in Alabama, an extraordinarily broad inquiry, focusing on reports of rampant violence and sexual abuse at the hands of both inmates and staff members. The prisons here are operating at around 172 percent of capacity. This is actually a significant improvement after sentencing reforms, but it has been offset by a sharp plunge in the number of corrections officers.

        "We're already the most overcrowded," Jeff Dunn, the Alabama corrections commissioner, said at a recent legislative committee hearing. "It won't be long until we're the most understaffed and most violent."

        As legislators in Montgomery wrangle over ideas to fix the prisons — the current one being a much-disputed and ever-shifting plan to build several "large-scale" prisons to replace most of the old ones — the degeneration of St. Clair looms in the background.

        A lawsuit on behalf of inmates, including Mr. McGregor, by the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative argues that the bloodshed at St. Clair is due in part to overcrowding, understaffing and shoddy facilities, but also, and perhaps primarily, to failures of leadership and "a culture that tolerated violence." In interviews, more than a dozen current and former officers and inmates echoed this sentiment.

        "Until you address that," said David Wise, a former St. Clair warden, speaking of the system's failure to understand the inmate population and manage prisons accordingly, "you can go down to the Legislature and talk about spending a billion dollars all day long, and you're not going to fix a damn thing. You're going to have a facility that'll be tore up in 20 months."

        A campus of low-slung brick buildings surrounded by a lethal electric fence, St. Clair opened here in the Appalachian foothills in 1983, a consequence of judicial pressure. Denouncing the "rampant violence and jungle atmosphere" of Alabama prisons, a federal judge ordered relief of overcrowding at a time when the state prison population was less than a quarter of what it is now.

        A cadre of new officers, many of them exiles from the shuttering steel mills, came in with what Mr. Wise, who started his career as an officer at St. Clair, called a "cut-off ax handle mentality" about how to treat prisoners. Within two years, the men inside revolted, seizing guns, beating five officers and holding 22 others hostage. The memory of the siege lingered, Mr. Wise said, though until recent years, the prison had been kept more or less under control.

        That control was disintegrating by the time Douglas Simon, who was imprisoned for violating rules on work-release for a drug conviction, arrived at St. Clair in late 2015.

        "A sergeant, he came up in there and they had busted his head open with a brick," Mr. Simon, 30, recalled of his first hours inside.

        The prison he found seemed virtually ungoverned. Corrections officers disappeared from cellblocks for long periods. Those who were present were often disregarded. With officers absent or ignored, vulnerable inmates, including those who were wounded and bleeding, often pleaded in vain for help, several inmates said. Violence — robberies in dark tunnels, assaults in crowded dormitories, stabbings in cramped cells — was virtually unavoidable. "Like Devil's Island," one current inmate said.

        Mr. Simon had not been there a month when a man began stabbing him in the face and neck in the middle of the night. He recalled being told afterward by an officer that the man had just been released from the segregation unit: the isolation cells reserved for punishment but increasingly seen as safe havens.

        "When we let him out of lockup, he said he was going to stab someone to get back in," Mr. Simon said he was told. "But they didn't think he was really going to do it."

        Locks have been broken at St. Clair since the 1985 riot and are easily "tricked," or opened with prison ID cards. Like the other state prisons, St. Clair has been severely overcrowded for many years, as Alabama has long spent less on inmates than almost any other state. Health care across the system has been "grossly inadequate," a lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center contended. The suit claimed that staff members had given razor blades to suicidal prisoners, and that ill inmates had been placed under "do not resuscitate" orders without their consent.

        But former inmates and officers at St. Clair say the downward spiral began in earnest in 2010, when Mr. Wise, who had become the warden, was moved out. During his tenure, politicians visited and spoke, religious volunteers were constantly on site, inmates taught anti-violence classes, and rewards such as meals from outside were given. "These are human beings you're dealing with, not potted plants," Mr. Wise said.

        Or as one retired St. Clair corrections officer, Jacky Mashburn, put it: "Idle hands is the workshop of the devil."

        Not everyone in the Corrections Department — including the new warden, Carter Davenport — appeared to favor this approach. After he arrived, cutbacks began — of chapel nights, programs, rewards, volunteer visits. The staff steadily began withdrawing from the population, officers and inmates said. Prisoners were left to themselves.

        "Under Wise, bed changes were granted when problems arose," one longtime inmate still in St. Clair said, echoing accounts in affidavits. After the warden left, the inmate said, "if you had a problem, it was, 'Get a knife.'"

        Estimates of how many men in St. Clair are armed run from well over half to just about everyone. Small knives — "pistols" or "shooters" — can be worth as little as a pack of cigarettes, though some are made out of fan blades, said Abdullah Mumin, who left St. Clair in 2013. "We're talking about, like, a machete," he said.

        But a knife is an asset, not a guarantee of safety. Gangs offer more reliable protection. And then there is segregation.

        For many, the sweltering, solitary misery of a segregation cell, day in and day out in a concrete box, became preferable to the violence of the general population. It was particularly sought out by men widely known to be targets: those rumored to be snitches or in debt on the contraband market. But there were only 216 segregation cells in a prison with, at the time, 1,200 men.

        When there was no room, according to interviews and affidavits, inmates in fear of general population ended up sleeping in office waiting areas or even in an outdoor cage in the dead of winter. And yet, as made clear by a murder in 2013, even segregation was no certain sanctuary. Some of those there for protection, including rape victims, refused to leave their cells at all, even to take showers.

        The limited capacity of segregation made consistent discipline almost impossible. But that did not mean that punishment stopped altogether. The Equal Justice Initiative lawsuit contains abundant accounts of beatings at the hands of officers on what was described as arbitrary grounds, resulting in stitches and broken bones, and in some cases involving inmates who were shackled. Mr. Davenport, prison officials acknowledge, reported himself for hitting a man who was handcuffed.

        Mr. Davenport was a "carry-a-big-stick type of guy," said a former officer who recently quit but did not want to be identified because he was looking for work. "But we didn't have the numbers in staffing to do that. And that's when the inmates started figuring out they outnumber the officers."

        The morning after he finished an 11-year sentence for robbery, Antonio Cheatham sat in a quiet apartment talking of his time at St. Clair. He dissected the contraband market — the marijuana, painkillers and cellphones thrown over unwatched fences or brought in by employees. It was big business, run on prepaid debit cards and enforced by violence: a beating for a late payment, worse for more serious debt. As staffing numbers continued to drop, and with nothing else for the men to do, it began to flourish.

        "As long as you didn't jump on the other side of that gate, they didn't care," Mr. Cheatham, 31, said, recalling a 250-man dorm where some inmates put up a sign — "No Officers Beyond This Point" — that, over a nightmarish few weeks, was generally heeded.

        In March 2015, Mr. Davenport, under whose tenure six inmates were killed and reported assaults more than quadrupled, was transferred. He eventually became the warden at one of the state's other maximum-security prisons, where he was stabbed during a riot in 2016. Now in retirement, he referred questions to the Corrections Department.

        One morning in April 2015, almost 30 years to the day after the 1985 riot, a large group of inmates with knives ambushed a lieutenant. According to several people at the prison at the time, including officers, the lieutenant was Ronald Carter, who appears often in the Equal Justice Initiative lawsuit, accused of choking a man into unconsciousness and slamming another man's head against the wall. On this occasion, an inmate had been roughed up after resisting attempts by officers to take his illicit cellphone, said those familiar with the encounter. Word spread around the prison that Lt. Carter had been involved. A spokesman for the Corrections Department declined to confirm this account.

        It was a jolt, even by the standards of St. Clair. Mr. Cheatham recalled hearing from other men inside: "Maybe we can take this camp. What they going to do, lock us up? Where they don't have any rooms? And what if I get transferred? That's a win-win."

        Staffing levels continued to fall, along with the morale of officers who remained. Twelve-hour and 16-hour days became mandatory. The number of officers on duty at any one time dwindled to perilous levels — this when an officer had been stabbed in the head and killed at another Alabama prison with dangerously low staffing levels.

        In the fiscal year ending in September 2016, there were 249 reported assaults at St. Clair, a more than tenfold increase from the same point six years earlier. The number of corrections officers was down by nearly half over that same period.

        Since the summer, officers from other prisons have been brought to St. Clair to work overtime shifts, an emergency response team has patrolled almost daily, and several hundred inmates have been transferred to other prisons, resulting in a population at capacity rather than far above it. A $3.5 million plan is underway to replace the locks. Though the bloody headlines continue unrelentingly elsewhere in the system, inmates and staff at St. Clair say, warily, that recent months have been quieter.

        Mr. Dunn, the corrections commissioner, points to this as support for his conviction that the root problems at St. Clair and in the Alabama prison system lie in the numbers. "I still believe that the fundamental, systemic problem is a combination of lack of staff and overcrowding," he said.

        He described the recent efforts at improving St. Clair as only a temporary fix, "robbing Peter to pay Paul." The construction of modern prisons, he said, is the important first step to making changes that will last, allowing for safer facilities and more rehabilitative programming. But the plan, still making its way through the Legislature, has met with deep skepticism, objections that it costs too much, worries from small towns dependent on prisons for jobs and arguments that it does not address the fundamental problems. And then there are those, like Mack Waldrop, for whom any of it is too late.

        In June 2014, Mr. Waldrop learned, through a call from a St. Clair inmate with an illicit cellphone, that his son Jodey had been stabbed in his cell. Mr. Waldrop said the warden later called just to tell him his son's body was at the morgue. Jodey Waldrop would be one of three men killed in the prison that year.

        "I wish God could give you every answer," Mr. Waldrop said, when asked what could fix the prisons in Alabama. "Because I'd like to know."



        16)  Texas Used Wrong Standard in Death Penalty Cases, Justices Rule

         MARCH 28, 2017




        WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday continued a trendtoward limiting capital punishment, rejecting Texas' approach to deciding which intellectually disabled people must be spared the death penalty.

        Writing for the majority in the 5-to-3 decision, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Texas had failed to keep up with current medical consensus, relied too heavily on I.Q. scores and took account of factors rooted in stereotypes.

        "Texas cannot satisfactorily explain why it applies current medical standards for diagnosing intellectual disability in other contexts, yet clings to superseded standards when an individual's life is at stake," Justice Ginsburg wrote. She was joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

        The case was the latest in a series of decisions refining the court's 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, which barred the execution of the intellectually disabled as a violation of the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Atkins decision gave states substantial discretion to decide just who was, in the language of the day, "mentally retarded."

        But the decision did set out a general framework. It said a finding of intellectual disability required proof of three things: "subaverage intellectual functioning," meaning low I.Q. scores; a lack of fundamental social and practical skills; and the presence of both conditions before age 18. The court said I.Q. scores under "approximately 70" typically indicated disability.

        The case before the court on Tuesday concerned Bobby J. Moore, who has been on death row since 1980 for fatally shooting a 72-year-old Houston supermarket clerk, James McCarble, during a robbery.

        Justice Ginsburg wrote that Mr. Moore's I.Q. was in the range of 69 to 79, meaning that other factors had to be considered. In dissent, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that only two I.Q. scores had been found reliable, of 78 and 74.

        "The court's ruling on intellectual functioning turns solely on the fact that Moore's I.Q. range was 69 to 79 rather than 70 to 80," Chief Justice Roberts wrote.

        The reliable scores were enough, he said, to decide the case and to allow Mr. Moore's execution.

        Justice Ginsburg said the courts have more work to do when I.Q. scores are close to the line. For instance, she wrote, Mr. Moore had reached his teenage years without having learned the most fundamental things.

        "At 13," she wrote, "Moore lacked basic understanding of the days of the week, the months of the year, and the seasons; he could scarcely tell time or comprehend the standards of measure or the basic principle that subtraction is the reverse of addition."

        A state judge, considering that evidence and relying on current medical standards on intellectual disability, concluded that executing Mr. Moore would violate the Eighth Amendment.

        But the Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas's highest court for criminal matters, reversed that ruling, saying the judge had made a mistake in "employing the definition of intellectual disability presently used."

        Under medical standards from 1992, Mr. Moore was not intellectually disabled, the appeals court said. The court added that the young Bobby Moore "had demonstrated adaptive strengths" by living on the street, mowing lawns, playing pool and committing crimes. He had, for instance, worn a wig during the robbery and tried to hide his shotgun in two plastic bags, which prosecutors said was evidence of forethought and planning.

        Justice Ginsburg said the appeals court had given too much weight to those aspects of Mr. Moore's behavior and not enough to his intellectual deficits.

        The appeals court had relied on a set of seven factors to help determine intellectual disability drawn from one of its earlier decisions. (One example: "Can the person hide facts or lie effectively?") Justice Ginsburg rejected the factors, noting that they were used almost nowhere else and that Texas itself did not use them in determining intellectual disability in other contexts.

        On this point, Chief Justice Roberts agreed, saying "those factors are an unacceptable method of enforcing the guarantee of Atkins."

        The case, Moore v. Texas, No. 15-797, had attracted some attention for one aspect of Texas's approach, which was partly drawn from a comparison to the fictional character of Lennie Small, the dim, hulking farmhand in John Steinbeck's novella "Of Mice and Men."

        In 2004, in the decision that set out the standards Texas uses, Judge Cathy Cochran of the Court of Criminal Appeals wrote that Lennie should be a legal touchstone. "Most Texas citizens might agree that Steinbeck's Lennie should, by virtue of his lack of reasoning ability and adaptive skills, be exempt" from the death penalty, she wrote.

        When Mr. Moore's case was argued in November, Justice Sotomayor said he was at least as intellectually disabled as Lennie. "The state had no problem in saying that Lennie, even though he could work, earn a living, plan his trying to hide the death of the rabbit he killed, that he could do all of those things, and yet he was not just mildly, but severely disabled," she said.

        The opinions rendered Tuesday' did not mention Lennie.

        In his dissent, Chief Roberts said the majority had not adequately considered "the practices among the states."

        "The court instead crafts a constitutional holding based solely on what it deems to be medical consensus about intellectual disability," the chief justice wrote. "But clinicians, not judges, should determine clinical standards; and judges, not clinicians, should determine the content of the Eighth Amendment."

        Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined the chief justice's dissent.
































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