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.

BREAKING NEWS: The Department of Corrections (DOC) told Mumia today that they will provide him with the hepatitis C fast-acting antiviral treatment beginning next week.  In Court the DOC filed a status report today declaring that they were going to treat Mumia. This treatment consists of one pill per day for 12-24 weeks, and has over a 90% cure rate.


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



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




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.



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)  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.



        2)  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.



        3)  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."



        4)  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.



        5)  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."



        6)  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.



        7)  Girls Go Missing, and Washington's Racial Divide Yawns Wider

        By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, MARCH 31, 2017


        WASHINGTON — The black and brown faces stare out from the Metropolitan Police Department's official Twitter feed, each girl under a red banner with block letters declaring "Critical Missing." Their names speak of unseen corners of the nation's capital, a world far removed from lobbyists' power lunches and legislative deal making.

        Osharna Pittman, 13, last seen wearing a burgundy T-shirt, white jeans and a pair of silver Puma tennis shoes. Seyauna Parker, 14, last seen on March 23, her eyes looking downcast and sad. Keyara Edwards, 15, in braids and a smile. Anjel Burl, 16, her red hair tucked into a soft yellow knit cap. Each post contains a simple query: "Seen her?"

        In those faces, Cmdr. Chanel Dickerson saw a reflection of her own childhood here, and of an 11-year-old neighbor whose mother had sold her into prostitution in exchange for drugs. So when Commander Dickerson was promoted to lead the department's Youth and Family Services Division in December, she decided to "get the word out," she said.

        It worked. The hashtag #MissingDCGirls started trending on Twitter, fueled by social media posts from celebrities, including the rapper Ludacris and the actress Viola Davis. A member of the city council declared an "epidemic" of missing girls, and hundreds of angry residents turned out for a town-hall-style meeting, demanding to know what was going on.

        At the Capitol, members of the Congressional Black Caucus asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate. On Wednesday night, dozens of community activists and parents — including the mother of a 12-year-old who said she struggled to get help from the police when her child went missing for a week — gathered outside the African American Civil War Memorial for a Protect Black Kids candlelight vigil.

        In truth, there is no surge in disappearances; reports of missing children here have actually declined over the past year. But in this city of haves and have-nots, the uproar has exposed a part of the capital the rest of America rarely sees and it points to a deeper and more nuanced problem: at-risk youth, disproportionately black and Latino, whose lives and struggles — sometimes involving sex trafficking — are often ignored by public officials and the news media.

        "There is no epidemic in the nation's capital of people being snatched," Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, a Democrat, said in an interview this week, after announcing steps to improve social services and police response, prompted by the public outcry. "But that doesn't mean there aren't children that need our help."

        The police say 2,242 children were reported missing here last year, down from 2,433 in 2015. Commander Dickerson says 99 percent of the children are found, and that many are running away from difficult situations at home. As of Wednesday, there were 18 open cases of missing young people, all of them minorities. Half were girls.

        Nationally, about 35 percent of missing children are black, and roughly another 20 percent are Latino, according to Robert Lowery, vice president for the missing children division of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. In that regard, he said, Washington is not "unique or out of the ordinary."

        But the vigil on Wednesday evening, in a small plaza near a Metro station bustling with commuters, offered a peek into this wealthy city's racial divide. African-Americans, who used to be a majority in Washington, now make up 49 percent of the population. Aisha Jackson, 60, a teacher, held up a handmade sign that said "Find Our Children!" and lamented that gentrification was changing the city, driving the problems of the poor deeper into the background.

        "It pains me that no one cares," she said.

        Elsewhere in the country, the sudden flurry of social media posts have prompted a painful conversation about how law enforcement and the news media treat some of the most vulnerable Americans: young black and Latina girls.

        "The bottom line is there is an anti-blackness, an anti-brownness that exists in every conversation you could ever have about social issues in our society," said Tamika D. Mallory, a civil rights activist in New York who helped organize the Women's March on Washington in January. "And if you allow white media to tell your story, it won't be told."

        That frustration is a major reason the #MissingDCGirls hashtag exploded. Danielle Moodie-Mills, whose Twitter profile describes her as an "equality advocate," shared some images of missing girls in a single post that asked, "Can someone explain to me how 14 black girls go missing in 24 hours in DC and it's not a goddamn news story?!?"

        Her figures were off, but the post was one of several that went viral, prompting outrage among people like Ashley Love, a New Orleans writer and mother of three. "If it would have been a white girl, it's usually blown up," said Ms. Love, who joined in the Twitter tirade. "You would have seen it on CNN; you would have seen the Amber Alerts."

        Here in Washington, Amber Alerts — the national emergency response system used to spread news that a child is missing — have been a big topic of conversation. The system is put into use only when a child is abducted.

        "The Amber Alert criteria needs to change," said Sharece Crawford, a community leader who has been consulting with the police and the mayor. "If the criteria cannot change on a national level, a new system needs to be created for the D.C. government. There should be no reason why you have to go down a checklist if your child is missing."

        She and other advocates accuse the mayor and the police of a "blame the victim" mentality, and complain that they are trying to mollify the public by dismissing the problem as simply an issue of "runaways." Phylicia Henry, director of Courtney's House, a nonprofit here that counsels sex-trafficking survivors, ages 12 to 21, said a large percentage of the missing list were referred to her group by the police.

        "To say, 'Oh, they're just running away,' is troubling," she said. "The biggest indicator of a young person being sex-trafficked is this revolving door of going home, and leaving home."

        Keyonna Atkinson, 18, and Christian Cooper, 20, both have spent time on the Police Department's "critical missing" list. Today, each has a tiny apartment in an independent-living center on Capitol Hill operated by Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a nonprofit that offers housing and counseling to homeless and at-risk youth.

        Ms. Cooper ran away for a month to her boyfriend's house when she was 15, she said, and was thrown out of her mother's house when she became pregnant at 17. She wound up living with an older man who gave her money and lavish gifts, she said, but was physically abusive.

        Ms. Atkinson, describing herself as "rebellious," clashed repeatedly with her mother and elderly aunt, seeking refuge at a local recreation center. Her family reported her missing almost nightly, she said, triggering a response by the police, which evolved into kind of a routine.

        "They would give me a ride to the house, and as soon as I got there, I would go back to the rec," she said. Ms. Atkinson had depression, she said, but lacked mental health care. She eventually left home and wound up in a homeless shelter, terrified, before landing a coveted spot at the Sasha Bruce center six months ago. She is now going to school for her equivalency diploma.

        "When I turned 18, I cried all day, wondering, did I have the skills that it takes to be an adult?." she said.

        Debby Shore, executive director of Sasha Bruce Youthwork, said the city needed to intervene earlier, before kids went missing.

        "Winding up on that list is a sign that there's family conflict," she said. "Typically these are young people that have chosen out, that blow out of the house because there's been some kind of struggle."

        In response to the public outcry, Mayor Bowser has said she will assign more police officers to find missing children, and establish a task force to determine what social services families might need. She said that she was hoping to make her city a national model, adding that until Commander Dickerson started posting the reports on Twitter, "I didn't recognize the substantial number that we get on a daily basis."



        8)  Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Still Benefiting From Business Empire, Filings Show

         MARCH 31, 2017




        Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, President Trump's daughter and son-in-law, will remain the beneficiaries of a sprawling real estate and investment business still worth as much as $740 million, despite their new government responsibilities, according to ethics filings released by the White House Friday night.

        Ms. Trump will also maintain a stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The hotel, just down the street from the White House, has drawn protests from ethics experts who worry that foreign governments or special interests could stay there in order to curry favor with the administration.

        It is unclear how Ms. Trump would earn income from that stake. Mr. Kushner's financial disclosures said that Ms. Trump earned between $1 million and $5 million from the hotel between January 2016 and March 2017, and put the value of her stake at between $5 million and $25 million.

        The disclosures were part of a broad, Friday-night document release by the White House that exposed the assets of as many as 180 senior officials to public scrutiny. The reports showed the assets and wealth of senior staff members at the time they entered government service.

        Those disclosures included the assets of Gary D. Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs who now leads the National Economic Council, Kellyanne Conway, the pollster and counsel to Mr. Trump and Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist to the president.

        Mr. Bannon disclosed $191,000 in consulting fees he earned from Breitbart News Network, the conservative media organization, $125,333 from Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for the Trump campaign, and $61,539 in salary from the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative nonprofit organization. All three are backed by Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, financiers and major Republican donors.

        Mr. Bannon's most valuable asset was Bannon Strategic Advisors Inc., a privately held consulting firm into which income from his other investments appeared to flow. It was valued at between $5 million and $25 million. He also held bank accounts valued at up to $2.25 million, and rental real estate worth as much as $10.5 million.

        Ms. Conway earned at least $842,614 last year, and perhaps slightly more, the filings show. Her assets are valued at between $11 million and at least $44.2 million.

        Mr. Cohn is far wealthier, with assets valued between $253 million and $611 million, and income last year as high as $77 million. Another White House official, Reed Cordish, who heads up technology initiatives, accumulated assets as a Maryland developer valued as high as $424 million.

        Mr. Trump's administration is considered the most wealthy in American history, with members of his senior staff and cabinet worth an estimated $12 billion, according to a tally by Bloomberg. The Friday filings will add voluminous detail to that top-line figure. The White house chief of staff, Reince Priebus, for example, earned at least $1.18 million — nearly half of which came from the Republican National Committee, which he formerly led. His assets totaled between $604,008 and at least $1.26 million.

        "I think one of the really interesting things that people are going to see today — and I think it's something that should be celebrated — is that the president has brought a lot of people into this administration, and this White House in particular, who have been very blessed and very successful," said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary. The officials "have given up a lot to come into government by setting aside a lot of assets," he said.

        Until January, Mr. Kushner was the chief executive of Kushner Companies, a family-run real estate investment firm with holdings across the country. It is a growing business that has taken part in at least $7 billion of acquisitions over the past decade.

        Late Friday, the White House released details of the plan devised by his advisers to avoid conflicts of interest between Mr. Kushner's government role and the wide-ranging business empire he ran with his father. That business depends on foreign investment from undisclosed sources, as well as billions of dollars in loans from the world's biggest financial services firms.

        Although Mr. Kushner has stepped down from his management positions at the more than 200 entities that operated aspects of the family real estate business, he will remain a beneficiary of a vast majority of the business he ran for the past decade, through a series of trusts that already owned the various real estate companies.

        The plan laid out on Friday "is not sufficient," said Larry Noble, a former general counsel and chief ethics officer for the Federal Election Commission. "While removing himself from the management of the businesses is an important step, he is still financially benefiting from how the businesses do. This presents potential for a conflict of interest. Given his level in the White House and broad portfolio, it's hard to see how he will recuse himself from everything that may impact his financial interest."

        While the filing discloses Mr. Kushner's personal lenders, it does not provide information on his business partners or lenders to his projects.

        His real estate firm has borrowed money from the likes of Goldman Sachs, the Blackstone Group, Deutsche Bank and the French bank Natixis. It also received loans from Israel's largest bank, Bank Hapoalim, which is the subject of a United States Justice Department investigation into allegations that it helped wealthy Americans evade taxes using undeclared accounts.

        Most recently, his firm's flagship property at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan was the subject of controversy: Around the time his father-in-law received the Republican nomination last spring, Mr. Kushner's firm began conversations with a Chinese company with ties to some of the Communist Party's leading families about a plan to invest billions of dollars in the troubled office tower.

        Mr. Kushner's company and the firm, Anbang Insurance Group, agreed to end the talks on Wednesday after weeks of negative publicity about the deal, criticized as a bailout of the Kushners. The building had already been rescued by a number of prominent firms, including the private equity giant Carlyle Group, and Zara, the Spanish fashion retailer founded and owned by Amancio Ortega, one of the world's wealthiest men.

        Mr. Kushner has divested his stakes in any businesses connected to that property.

        The disclosures do not reveal the names of investors and lenders to ventures that Mr. Kushner is retaining a stake in. For example, the form shows Mr. Kushner is retaining a stake in a limited liability corporation that owns a Trump-branded luxury rental high-rise building in Jersey City worth as much as $5 million. That project was financed with tens of millions of dollars from wealthy Chinese investors through a controversial visa-for-sale program called EB-5.

        However, the filing does not disclose the names of any of those investors — or partners in any of his other projects.

        "We don't know who the business partners are in many of these investments," Mr. Noble said, "and those business partners may also have interests that will be affected by how he advises the government. And that's a concern."

        "He could have foreign business partners who have a real interest in policy, and he may be advising the president on those policies," Mr. Noble added. "This is a dark area where we just don't know what's going on."

        In all, the Kushner company owns more than 20,000 apartments and approximately 14 million square feet of office space.

        Previous disclosures by the United States Office of Government Ethics showed that Mr. Kushner had divested his interests in several entities, mostly partnerships connected to a venture capital firm run by his brother, Joshua, called Thrive Capital, that invests in technology firms like Instagram.

        He also shed his interests in funds run by the private equity giant Blackstone Group — whose chief executive, Stephen A. Schwarzman, is an economic adviser to Mr. Trump — as well as BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager.

        Over all, he has shed his stakes in 58 businesses.

        He is still the sole primary beneficiary of a majority of the trusts that will retain assets, with his children as the secondary beneficiaries.

        Mr. Kushner was required to submit some limited financial information for his wife, Ms. Trump, who will continue to receive payments from the Trump Organization as well as her fashion brand.

        Ms. Trump, who now serves as an assistant to the president, resigned from her leadership roles at both companies. Instead of performance-based payments, Ms. Trump will receive fixed payments from T International Realty, the family's luxury brokerage agency, as well as fixed fees from two entities related to real estate projects, the documents show.

        Ms. Trump had previously rolled her fashion brand into the Ivanka M. Trump Business Trust, which is overseen by her brother-in-law, Josh Kushner, and sister-in-law, Nicole Meyer. The documents released on Friday valued the trust at more than $50 million.

        The brand is largely a licensing operation, meaning that it sells the use of Ms. Trump's name to partners who manufacture her clothes, shoes and other accessories. Since it is privately held, little is known about the company's financials, but The New York Times has previously reportedthat revenues were roughly between $4 million and $6 million in 2013, before the debut of a major partnership.

        The disclosure forms released Friday for less senior White House staff members were not reviewed by the federal Office of Government Ethics. Only the White House Counsel's Office examines their assets to determine if there are potential conflicts, and to decide what steps employees must take to sell assets, resign positions or recuse themselves from decisions.

        Already, a complaint has been filed against at least one White House staff member for taking actions that might benefit his own financial interests. Christopher P. Liddell, an assistant to the president and the director of strategic initiatives, had been the chief financial officer of companies including Microsoft, International Paper and General Motors before taking his White House job. Until recently, he also owned stock in General Motors, according to disclosure forms, among more than 750 other companies.

        But in late January and early February, according to a complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Mr. Liddell participated in meetings that involved several of the companies in which he still owned a total of about $2 million in stock, including International Paper and General Motors. Mr. Liddell, according to disclosures, sold these stock holdings by mid-February.

        "It is Ethics 101 — the most basic thing you are not supposed to do: using your official capacity to benefit your financial interest," said Norman Eisen, who served as a White House ethics lawyer during the Obama administration and now is a co-chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

        The White House did not respond Friday when asked about the complaint.



        9)  Videos of Force-Feeding at Guantánamo Will Stay Secret, Court Rules

         MARCH 31, 2017




        WASHINGTON — The military is allowed to keep secret at least 28 videotapes showing guards at the Guantánamo Bay wartime prison extracting a hunger-striking detainee from his cell and then force-feeding him, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

        After the tapes were made part of the court record in a lawsuit challenging the military's force-feeding procedures, a coalition of 16 news organizations, including The New York Times, petitioned the court to unseal them. Judge Gladys Kessler of Federal District Court in Washington had ruled that the government must disclose them.

        But the Obama administration appealed, and on Friday, a three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned her ruling.

        The panel held that even if the public has a qualified constitutional right to have access to classified evidence in such a lawsuit — a question about which the judges disagreed — disclosing the videotapes would create national security risks trumping that right.

        The news organizations had argued that it was in the public interest to see how the government was treating the men whom the United States is holding in open-ended detention without trial and force-feeding to keep alive.

        But the government argued that the videos could be used in propaganda to incite violence against Americans and to recruit terrorists. Judge A. Raymond Randolph agreed, writing that "images are more provocative than written or verbal descriptions."

        "Extremists have used Guantánamo Bay imagery in their propaganda and in carrying out attacks on Americans," Judge Randolph wrote. "For example, the Islamic State beheaded American journalists wearing orange jumpsuits commonly associated with Guantánamo Bay detainees."

        The government also argued that if detainees knew that such videotapes had become public, they might act out during force-feeding sessions in hopes that the episodes would also be taped. And, it said, if militants could study the guards' techniques as shown on the videos, they might develop countermeasures.

        By contrast, at the district court level, Judge Kessler had rejected the Obama administration's arguments that the disclosure would jeopardize national security as "unacceptably vague, speculative," lacking specificity or "just plain implausible." But the appellate panel ruled that she had erred.

        The other two judges on the appeals panel were Judge Judith Ann Wilson Rogers, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, and Judge Stephen F. Williams, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan. Judge Randolph was appointed by the first President George Bush.

        The Justice Department declined to comment. David A. Schulz, a lawyer representing the news media coalition, said it had not yet decided whether to appeal.

        "The only thing that all three judges agreed upon is that the government had demonstrated a compelling interest in keeping the videotape evidence secret," he said. "This is troubling given the conclusion of the district judge, after careful review of the actual videotape evidence, that the American public had a right to see what that evidence documented of alleged abuse."

        Jon B. Eisenberg, a lawyer for the former detainee who is depicted in the videotapes, expressed disappointment in the ruling. "It's a loss to the American people that they will never see the shocking images of force-feeding at Guantánamo Bay that a handful of lawyers have seen behind closed doors," Mr. Eisenberg said.

        The fight is residual fallout from a major hunger strike protest that swept the Guantánamo cellblocks in 2013, shortly after President Barack Obama began his second term.

        The detainees were responding in part to rumors that guards had mishandled a Quran while searching cells for contraband, according to detainees' lawyers. The military denied that such improper handling had occurred.

        But both sides had agreed that the underlying cause of the hunger strike was mounting despair that the detainees would ever go home. At that point it had been more than two years since any lower-level detainee had been transferred.

        In response to the mass protest, Mr. Obama revived his dormant push to transfer lower-level detainees. Many of them had been recommended for release years earlier but remained stranded because they came from unstable countries like Yemen.

        But Mr. Obama also endorsed force-feeding to prevent protesting detainees from dying. The procedure involves strapping a detainee into a restraint chair and inserting a tube through his nose, through which a nutritional supplement is poured into his stomach.

        Eventually, most of the hunger strikers resumed eating, but a few hard-core protesters continued to refuse to eat. Among them was Jihad Ahmed Mujstafa Diyab, a Syrian man who was held for about 12 years without trial until his transfer to Uruguay in late 2014.

        Mr. Diyab has had a troubled time resettling in Uruguay, saying he wants to leave it and join his family elsewhere. He disappeared for a period last year, raising alarms; it turned out he had taken a bus to Venezuela, which sent him back to Uruguay. He has also at times carried out a hunger strike in Uruguay to protest being kept there.



        10)  'Penis Seat' Causes Double Takes on Mexico City Subway

        Leer en español 

         MARCH 31, 2017





        A seat in a subway car in Mexico City's metro system caused a stir earlier this year. There were awkward glances. Visible discomfort. Baffled looks. Some laughs. And of course, the inevitable pictures from passenger's camera phones.

        It was meant to be provocative, and it was. A seat was changed to look like the lower half of a male's body, including the penis, part of a campaign by UN Women and the Mexico City government to raise awareness about sexual harassment on subways.

        On the floor beneath the seat, there was a sign reading, "It is annoying to travel this way, but not compared to the sexual violence women suffer in their daily commutes."

        The campaign has now released a video titled "Experimento Asiento" — "an experiment with a seat" — that has had more than 800,000 views on YouTube since March 20. It shows people reacting with a mixture of discomfort and shock throughout. One man even tried to cover the seat with a coat to sit on it. It didn't work. He abandoned the seat, as did others who tried to sit in it during the experiment in January.

        UN Women and the Mexican government collaborated on a second video as well, which has also begun picking up traffic. It is called "Experimento Pantallas" — or "experiment screens."

        That experiment involved installing cameras that would take tight shots of male buttocks and display them on screens for all to see. In the video, a number of men are shown expressing disgust and embarrassment.

        "We wanted to do something different," said a Yeliz Osman, a program coordinator with the Mexican UN Women office. "We wanted to target men because on a global level, the majority of programs talking about sexual violence or sexual harassment always target women and girls. We wanted to change that because we don't think that women are the problem."

        The campaign is called #NoEsDeHombres (a rough translation would be "this isn't manly"), and it is aimed at men, both with the video ads and with newly unveiled print ones that show guys giving lascivious looks with slogans like "this is how your mother gets looked at every day."

        These particular ads came about after UN Women and the Mexican government took open submissions for ideas on a campaign to target a male audience. Around 40 agencies submitted pitches and J. Walter Thompson won. 

        "We need to make clear that this is violent, not flattering, and incentivize men to intervene if they witness it", said Ana Güemez, director of the Mexican UN Women office, during the presentation of the campaign this Thursday.

        According to a national survey done in 2016 by the Mexican Institute of Women, Inmujeres, nine out of 10 women or girls who use public transportation feel unsafe while doing it. A wide-ranging Reuters survey done in 2014 also showed that the Mexico City transport system is the second-most dangerous for women overall out of 15 world capitals. However, Mexico City was squarely in first place for specific questions like "have your been verbally harassed?" or "have you been groped?"

        "In order to generate change, you need to create empathy," Ms. Osman said. "The idea is that men can get a sense of what it is all like. By creating empathy, we hope that this might change their behavior."

        The Mexico City government has begun to take action: It is now possible to file an administrative complaint if you get catcalled (the perpetrator either pays a fine or spends a night in jail), and last year it started handing out rape whistles on the subway so that women could "warn of possible crimes" (a plan that was not without its critics).

        The issue has gained prominence in the past few weeks after a well-known blogger, Tamara de Anda, was publicly criticized for talking about filing a complaint against a taxi driver who accosted her verbally while she was walking down the street. Insults on social media ranged from telling her she wasn't attractive enough to be offended by the driver's catcall to issuing death threats.

        Ms. De Anda was one of several Mexican public figures who participated in the presentation of the #NoEsDeHombres campaign, alongside the wrestler El Hijo del Santo and the actor Alfonso Herrera, familiar to United States audiences from Netflix's show, "Sense8."



        11)  Deadline Up, Families Remain in Lead-Contaminated Housing in Indiana

         APRIL 1, 2017




        INDIANAPOLIS — Dozens of families remained at a lead-contaminated public housing complex in northwest Indiana despite a Friday target date to move them out so the city could tear down the buildings.

        More than 270 families have left the housing development, West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, and officials hope to have the remaining 50 or so families out within a week. But the delay points to several problems with the evacuation effort, like limited rental options in the formerly industrial area, landlords who will not accept government housing vouchers and some residents' resistance to being forced from the city.

        Tara Adams, who lives in West Calumet and is a lifelong resident of East Chicago, said she has been seeking a new home for herself, her 19-year-old son and her 11-year-old daughter since last summer and has had their belongings packed for months. The temporary housing she has been offered is about 25 miles away, in what she worries is a perilous neighborhood across the state line on Chicago's South Side.

        "I for sure don't want to move my 19-year-old son into an area where there's a greater chance for him to get shot," Ms. Adams said. "I don't want to do that."

        Officials began clearing out the 45-year-old complex of three-story apartment buildings last summer after detailed soil testing found some yards with lead levels more than 70 times the federal safety standard.

        The Environmental Protection Agency soon warned parents to keep their children away from the dirt on the site, which was occupied decades ago by a lead-products factory. Just to the south sat the sprawling United States Smelter and Lead Refinery, or U.S.S. Lead, which salvaged lead from old car batteries and scrap metal before it closed in 1985.

        The complex was home to more than 1,000 people, including about 700 children. Tests by the Indiana Department of Health found high lead levels in blood samples from some children. Even at low levels, lead exposure can damage nervous systems and lower I.Q.s, according to experts.

        The Department of Housing and Urban Development reached an agreement in November with advocates representing the residents that gave families a break on rent and until the end of March to find new homes.

        Of those families remaining at the complex, homes in East Chicago have been arranged for about 30, and fewer than 10 families face possible relocations to Chicago, according to HUD officials. Those unhappy with their relocation options have until Monday to file grievances with the local housing authority.

        James Cunningham, HUD's deputy regional administrator in Chicago, said the limited number of rentals available in East Chicago had complicated efforts to find new homes nearby for all the West Calumet residents.

        "The absorption, I think, has gone pretty well given the large number — we had to relocate 332 families," Mr. Cunningham said.

        Final decisions on the relocations rest with city officials, who did not talk with a couple dozen protesters at City Hall last week calling for an extension of the relocation deadline.

        Mayor Anthony Copeland said in a statement to news media that he would never advocate moving residents involuntarily "unless we faced an issue of public safety" and that waiting wasn't an option because of the environmental hazards.

        The plans to move some families across the state line into Illinois could cost people jobs and state Medicaid coverage and force children to change schools late in the school year, said Emily Coffey, a lawyer for the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, which is based in Chicago.

        Ms. Coffey said that the relocation agreement from November was meant to maximize the choice residents had in finding new homes and that local housing officials were making "panicked moves" after letting families live at the polluted complex for decades.

        "If there are emergency relocations, it's going to be pretty unlikely that those families are going to be able to move to healthy communities where they'll have access to good education, good health care and good jobs," she said.

        Ms. Adams still has a sign from the E.P.A. warning against playing in the dirt in the front yard of what has been her family's home for nine years. She said it's "by the grace of God" that blood tests have not found high lead levels in her children.

        But she said she has been looking constantly for a new home in hopes of keeping her daughter in a school she likes and a community her family knows.

        "What's very frustrating is people making it seem like we're not looking, or we're not searching, or we're just doing nothing," Ms. Adams said. "I've never wanted to be in this situation, so since day one I've been trying to find somewhere to live."



        12)  Closing Rikers Island Is a Moral Imperative

        "...the cost of jailing someone in New York City has ballooned to nearly $250,000 a year, roughly the cost of a four-year Ivy League degree..."

         MARCH 31, 201





        The time has come to close Rikers Island.

        New York City's sprawling main jail, located on an island in the East River, is a stain on our great city's reputation. It leaves its mark on everyone it touches: the correction officers working back-to-back shifts under dangerous conditions, the inmates waiting for their day in court in an inhumane and violent environment, the family members forced to travel long distances to see their loved ones and the taxpayers who spend billions of dollars to keep the whole dysfunctional apparatus running.

        These problems will not be fixed with a fresh coat of paint, new trainings or even a major facilities overhaul. They run far too deep.

        Since the 1930s, Rikers has served as a de facto penal colony, isolating inmates and officers alike from the outside world, to the detriment of all. It is a world unto itself, where the values that govern the rest of New York — civility and decency among them — do not apply.

        To be fair, there is much within our criminal justice system to celebrate. The past 30 years have seen dramatic reductions in crime and incarceration in New York City. Today, the city's entire jail population is under 10,000, about half of what it was in the 1990s. Through innovative policing strategies, the expansion of alternatives to incarceration and myriad other progressive efforts, the city has demonstrated that less jail does not mean more crime.

        Even as we celebrate those achievements, we must acknowledge our jails have become costlier and more dangerous. Indeed, the cost of jailing someone in New York City has ballooned to nearly $250,000 a year, roughly the cost of a four-year Ivy League degree, while stabbings and slashings have quadrupled in the last decade.

        Some of the most moving testimony heard during meetings or hearings of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform — created by Ms. Mark-Viverito and led by Mr. Lippman — came from family members recalling visits to children or partners. One parent called Rikers "Torture Island," referring to the treatment of her son and of herself. A one-hour visit with a loved one is really a daylong ordeal, given the island's inaccessibility.

        This inconvenience might be worth suffering if Rikers were effective at rehabilitating inmates and making our city safer. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. There is ample evidence that spending even 48 hours in jail increases the likelihood of future justice system involvement.

        Rebuilding Rikers is not the answer. The island's isolation and inaccessibility are at the root of the systematic problems — denying people their right to a speedy trial, completely disconnecting inmates from family and their community, keeping the facility out of public sight and scrutiny, fostering a bunker mentality among staff. Furthermore, the "culture of violence" the United States Department of Justice found on Rikers Island is indelibly linked to that location. These issues cannot be fixed on the island. Sending everyone arrested in New York City to one remote island is a 19th-century solution to a 21st-century problem. It's a broken model.

        We now have a realistic alternative. With the help of research from the Center for Court Innovation and the Vera Institute of Justice, the commission has identified a series of evidence-based criminal justice reforms to safely reduce the city's jail population to 5,000 inmates within 10 years, largely by cutting unnecessary delays in criminal case processing and ending the practice of warehousing defendants at Rikers while they await trial for low-level, nonviolent crimes.

        Shrinking the population would allow the city to create borough-based jail facilities, a far more humane, effective and efficient alternative to the mass incarceration model, according to research from the Institute for State and Local Governance. The commission recommends closing Rikers and locating borough facilities near courthouses and civic centers — not in residential neighborhoods — and distributing the inmate population equitably across the boroughs. This model can work: The Brooklyn House of Detention reopened in Downtown Brooklyn in 2012, and it has done nothing to deter the housing and retail boom there.

        By closing the huge jail complex on Rikers Island, New York would be able to repurpose the island in a way that benefits all New Yorkers. The island could become a valuable asset, rather than a money pit, by housing infrastructure like power-generation or garbage-disposal facilities that New York will need for generations to come. Doing so will free up desperately needed space in our neighborhoods.

        Let's not kid ourselves: Building new jails in New York City will be a difficult challenge. The main obstacle is not financial — creating a new state-of-the-art jail system will ultimately save the city millions of dollars.

        The main obstacle is political. We need to motivate our elected officials and the general public. We need to articulate a simple truth: We are better than this. Rikers Island is an affront to the civic values of New York City. Reforming our jail system and closing Rikers Island is not simply good public policy — it is a moral imperative.

        At its best, New York City has always been a place where people fight for fairness. As we strive to make New York a more just and humane city, we must close Rikers Island and end once and for all the despair and damage it causes.



        13)  Opinion: After a Historic March, What's Next for Women?

        MARCH 31, 2017




        Last week, we were treated to a news photo that will live in infamy: two dozen white male Republican congressmen (and zero women) around a White House conference table talking about dumping maternity and newborn care as part of their replacement for the Obama health care law.

        It instantly went viral: "A rare look inside the GOP's women's health caucus," tweeted Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington State.

        Seven days later, the infamy was compounded when Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie in the Senate that would allow states to defund Planned Parenthood.

        Since the heyday of the women's movement of the 1960s and '70s, American women have assumed they were on a rocket to a future of assured gender equality. But even as individual women continued to break records and barriers in recent years, the engine began to stall.

        Pay inequity festers. The rolling scandals at Uber remind us that the frat clubs of Silicon Valley are often rife with sexual harassment.

        Women in the military are beleaguered by so-called revenge porn and sexual assault.

        The United States still ranks with Swaziland, Lesotho and Papua New Guinea as the last countries on earth, "advanced" or not, that don't mandate paid maternity leave.

        In corporations, it's turned out that the trouble isn't the glass ceiling; it's the sticky floor.

        Male chief executives of Fortune 500 companies brag at Davos, Switzerland, about their healthy pipeline of women headed for the C-suite. (But the boast is undermined by statistics that show a paltry 4 percent of Fortune 500 companies have women in the top job.)

        And a woman who commanded nearly three million more votes than her opponent did not become president.

        Women who took steady, linear progress for granted are experiencing an unfamiliar and unsettling sensation — a wary, scary feeling of real and present danger. Meanwhile, it's dawning on millennials who thought a tweet was the same as a vote that activism means showing up. Hillary Clinton's ultimate loss in the Electoral College is motivating women in a way her campaign never really did.

        It was a hopping-mad Pantsuit Nation granny in Hawaii who first planted the idea on Facebook of a Women's March on Day 2 of Donald J. Trump's presidency. In sheer numbers of participants — up to four million in at least 500 marches across the country — it turned out to be the largest day of protest in American history.

        It was good-humored, confident and marked by determination, not anger, and utterly nonviolent: not a single arrest. In short, it was a triumph of organization and mobilization.

        In its wake, women are packing local forums offering information on how to run for office. Millennials are assertively organizing support groups and protests on behalf of immigrants and refugees. The new energy has edge — and it suggests that the resistance to the young administration's signature policies is going to be led and (as it were) manned largely by women.

        The greatest gift that President Trump may end up bestowing on the women of America could be to purge trivial umbrage from feminist discourse and force renewed energy on big priorities.

        There has been too much focus on mildly offensive asides by male professors, on clueless comments by chief executives. Annoying as those things are, they don't compare to a federal budget proposal that slashes support for victims of domestic violence.

        The marches in January and the activism since have demonstrated the breadth of women's concerns. They encompass criminal justice reform, immigrant protection, L.G.B.T. rights and gross economic inequality, as well as equal pay and reproductive rights.

        Tamika Mallory, one of the four energetic young women who headed the Women's March, is a leading voice for African-American involvement in the feminist resurgence. Exasperated over the years by white women's lack of recognition of the deeper inequity in black women's lives, she said that the January protest was an education for her in working with others.

        "My work is mainly on criminal justice reform and police accountability, and I had to, for a moment, focus on climate justice and social justice and economic justice. It was a way for us to build power by bringing everyone together. We all come from different experiences, but we all feel and bleed the same, which is why this movement is growing in the way it is."

        And it would be more powerful still if the new buzzword of intersectional feminism — which advocates greater racial, economic and religious inclusiveness in the women's movement — could intersect across the political and cultural aisle.

        Cutting after-school programs for kids is calamitous to working mothers, but it isn't just a women's issue. It's a family issue and an education issue. Defunding Planned Parenthood means millions of hard-pressed women will be denied cancer screenings as well as birth control. "The average woman in America spends five years trying to get pregnant and 30 years trying not to," Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's president, told me wryly. "This is a bread-and-butter economic issue."

        Eight years ago, I started the Women in the World Summit at a small Midtown Manhattan theater to give voice to a rising global women's movement that hadn't gotten much attention in the United States.

        I was inspired by the female firebrands I'd met through my service on the board of Vital Voices, a Washington-based NGO that mentors emerging women leaders from developing countries. I was stunned by the courage of resourceful women from Pakistan, Guatemala, India and sub-Saharan Africa.

        They had risked their lives in repressive cultures to act against child marriage, honor killings, genital mutilation and systemic domestic violence, and to advocate for basic freedoms American women (and men, of course) take for granted, such as the right to get an education or own property or win child custody in a divorce.

        There was Chouchou Namegabe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who defied death threats and kept broadcasting rape testimonials on her radio show, breaking the taboo of silence. There was tiny, fearless Sunitha Krishnan, beaten up by corrupt Hyderabad cops for rescuing little girls and their mothers trafficked in brothels. There was Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian force of nature who, in 2003, united Christian and Muslim women in a protest movement that helped topple the brutal dictator Charles Taylor. There was nothing "micro" about the aggressions these women confronted.

        Perhaps the most moving moment in a Women in the World Summit was in 2015 when Robi Damelin, an Israeli peace activist whose son was killed by a Palestinian sniper, took the hand of Bushra Awad, a Palestinian woman whose son was shot dead by an Israeli soldier. "The tears on the pillow are the same color," Ms. Damelin said.

        The women we have brought to our stage to tell their stories are living proof that feminism is a movement of basic rights for all human beings. Yet they understand that women bring something different to the debate, the table and the street. Their gender is their glory. They don't just lean in. They rise up.

        They make us in the audience examine our own lucky discontents and ask ourselves: What can do for a cause bigger than myself?

        It is a question many women in America are asking anew.



        14)  U.S.-Led Coalition Counts 229 Civilian Deaths Before Mosul Strike

        APRIL 1, 2017




        WASHINGTON — Facing mounting pressure over civilian casualties in American airstrikes, the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria said on Saturday that it was likely that at least 229 civilians had been unintentionally killed by its operations since they began in August 2014.

        In February, the last month covered by the report and the first full month of the Trump administration, four such civilians were killed, the coalition said. The assessment, issued monthly, therefore does not include the March 17 strike against a building in Mosul in which scores if not hundreds of civilians were killed, according to Iraqi witnesses. That strike is under investigation.

        The coalition's overall count is far less than estimates by some human rights groups. Airwars, a nongovernment organization that monitors reports of civilian casualties in international airstrikes, has asserted that at least 2,831 civilians are likely to have been killed as of March 28 by the coalition's air attacks since August 2014.

        The worries about civilian casualties have grown as Iraqi forces push to take western Mosul from the Islamic State with the help of American and allied air power, rockets and artillery. President Trump has vowed to step up the fight against the militants, though the basic strategy in Mosul was set by American commanders during the Obama administration.

        "We take the issue of civilian casualties seriously, every day, not just when it makes news," said Col. John J. Thomas, the spokesman for the United States Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East. Colonel Thomas added that the command, in an effort to be "fully transparent," was sharing information on unresolved cases and was even describing episodes that military personnel had reported up the chain of command but had not received public attention.

        Chris Woods, the director of Airwars, asserted that while the Central Command had been working to improve its casualty counts, it was still lagging behind. "Certainly, both Centcom and the coalition have put a lot of effort into improving their casualty monitoring process, and we have been in extensive dialogue with them," Mr. Woods said in a telephone interview from London.

        "But despite these improved resources, both Centcom and the coalition appear unable to keep up with the number of allegations," Mr. Woods added. "Given the intensity of operations in Mosul and around Raqqa, that gap continues to grow." Raqqa, in Syria, is the Islamic State's self-declared capital.


        Iraqis bathed in a sulfur pond not far from the southern outskirts of Mosul on Saturday. Iraqi forces are pushing to take western Mosul from the Islamic State. CreditAhmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 

        WASHINGTON — Facing mounting pressure over civilian casualties in American airstrikes, the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria said on Saturday that it was likely that at least 229 civilians had been unintentionally killed by its operations since they began in August 2014.

        In February, the last month covered by the report and the first full month of the Trump administration, four such civilians were killed, the coalition said. The assessment, issued monthly, therefore does not include the March 17 strike against a building in Mosul in which scores if not hundreds of civilians were killed, according to Iraqi witnesses. That strike is under investigation.

        The coalition's overall count is far less than estimates by some human rights groups. Airwars, a nongovernment organization that monitors reports of civilian casualties in international airstrikes, has asserted that at least 2,831 civilians are likely to have been killed as of March 28 by the coalition's air attacks since August 2014.

        The worries about civilian casualties have grown as Iraqi forces push to take western Mosul from the Islamic State with the help of American and allied air power, rockets and artillery. President Trump has vowed to step up the fight against the militants, though the basic strategy in Mosul was set by American commanders during the Obama administration.

        "We take the issue of civilian casualties seriously, every day, not just when it makes news," said Col. John J. Thomas, the spokesman for the United States Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East. Colonel Thomas added that the command, in an effort to be "fully transparent," was sharing information on unresolved cases and was even describing episodes that military personnel had reported up the chain of command but had not received public attention.

        Chris Woods, the director of Airwars, asserted that while the Central Command had been working to improve its casualty counts, it was still lagging behind. "Certainly, both Centcom and the coalition have put a lot of effort into improving their casualty monitoring process, and we have been in extensive dialogue with them," Mr. Woods said in a telephone interview from London.

        "But despite these improved resources, both Centcom and the coalition appear unable to keep up with the number of allegations," Mr. Woods added. "Given the intensity of operations in Mosul and around Raqqa, that gap continues to grow." Raqqa, in Syria, is the Islamic State's self-declared capital.

        In western Mosul, hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped, and airstrikes are an essential part of the operation. The Iraqi military has suffered enormous casualties — 284 Iraqi troops were killed in the first 37 days of the offensive to take western Mosul — and it depends on American firepower to advance. American military officials also allege that Islamic State fighters have herded Iraqi residents into buildings, calculating that escalating civilian casualties would prompt American commanders to slow the pace of airstrikes.

        But critics say that the firepower that is being applied is so extensive that civilians are being put in danger. During a recent week in Mosul, the United States-led coalition carried out attacks with 700 bombs and rockets and 400 more strikes with satellite-guided Himars missiles, according to military officials.

        With the United States unwilling to play a major ground combat role in Iraq and Syria, air power has become increasingly important. Between August 2014 and February 2017, the American-led coalition carried out 18,645 strikes. According to data made public on Saturday by the American-led command that is directing the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, there were 37 reports of possible civilian casualties related to the operation to evict the Islamic State from the eastern half of Mosul, which began in mid-October. But 12 of these were deemed upon investigation to be "noncredible," sometimes because no coalition strikes had been carried out in the area.

        In five cases, the command found that the reports of civilian casualties were "credible." In a Feb. 16 strike on a site that the military said was being used to make or hide an Islamic State car bomb, two civilians were killed when they entered the target area after the munition was released.

        Forty-three cases of possible civilian casualties are still being assessed, including an April 2015 strike near Mosul. That case was reopened after new information was received.

        In the March 17 strike in Mosul, which led to the building collapse, American officials have acknowledged that the United States had a role, but said that the munition used should not have been powerful enough to bring down a building. They are examining whether the American strike might have set off a larger blast from explosives set by militants.
















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