Shut Down Creech! Apr 23-29, 2017

Empire War Status

Support War Resister Pvt. Ryan Johnson

Imprisoned a decade after refusing crimes of his country









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.



Please forward widely…  Honoring Our Heroes & Martyrs: Lynne Stewart & Mumia Abu-Jamal May 6-7

Honoring our Heroes and Martyrs...

Celebrating the Life of People's Attorney  Lynne Stewart

Renewing the Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal*


so Ralph Poynter, lifelong companion of Lynne Stewart; co-founder New Abolitionist Movement; Black community activist 

so Mumia Abu-Jamal via Skype

so Judy Ritter, Professor of law; Co-counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal with NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund 

o Boots Riley of The Coup

so Cat Brooks, SF Bay Area National Lawyers Guild Interim Director; founder, Anti-police Terror Project and Bay Area Black Lives Matter

Special remarks from...

so Steve Bingham, Former President, SF Bay Area National Lawyers Guild,  recipient of the NLG's Champion of Justice Award 

 s Cindy Sheehan, Activist/Author/Host of Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox

so Jeff Mackler, Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal; founder, West Coast Lynne Stewart Defense Committee

so Ralph Schoenman, Former Secretary to Bertrand Russel; Executive Director, Vietnam War Crimes Tribunal; Lynne Stewart defense organizer

s Dennis Bernstein, Host, KPFA's Flashpoints

Greetings from local social justice and prison rights activists  o Kim Serrano/Speak Out Now!;  o Judy Greenspan/Workers World Party and so Carol Seligman/Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

In San Francisco: Saturday, May 6, 7 pm, Eric Quesada Political and Cultural Center, 518 Valencia Street,  (near 16th Street BART)

In Oakland: Sunday, May 7, 7 pm, Humanist Hall, 390 27th St. (between Broadway &  Telegraph)

Sponsors: Lynne Stewart Organization & Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal 

Initial Co-sponsors/endorsers: Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox • Lynne Stewart Defense Committee • Socialist Action • Speak Out Now! • Workers World Party • Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal • United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)  

Donation $20 - $10 sliding scale No one turned away for lack of funds. Benefit for Lynne Stewart Organization

For information about tables at $25 each contact: jmackler@lmi.net  510-268-9429

If you can't make these meetings, to help cover Lynne's family expenses, please send your contribution payable to Lynne Stewart Organization to POB 10328, Oakland, CA 94610

*Based of the 2016 Williams v. Pennsylvania U.S. Supreme Court decision Mumia's legal team is filing in Philadelphia on April 24 a petition for a new trial. The Williams decision held that in death penalty cases a state prosecutor, who is later appointed to a state court cannot rule on a decision that she/he was previously a party to. In Mumia's case, state prosecutor Ron Castille, who later became a PA Supreme Court judge, refused to recuse himself on Mumia's appeal.

s = SF meeting only

o = Oakland meeting only

so = both meetings


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.



Mumia's Hep C Treatment Has Begun!

Joe Piette: 610-931-2615

Join us in Philadelphia on Monday, April 24, 2017 at 8:30AM, at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to assert Mumia's innocence and call for his immediate release.

Center for Criminal Justice

Courtroom 1101

1303 Filbert Street

Philadephia, PA

Signers in solidarity,

International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal


Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

Abolitionist Law Center

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)

Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mundo Obrero/Workers World

Philly REAL Justice

Prison Radio

Sankofa Community Empowerment

Millions for Mumia/International Action Center

Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal/Northern California

Le Collectif Français "Libérons Mumia"

German Network Against the Death Penalty and to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

Amig@s de Mumia de México

Saint-Denis Free Mumia Committee





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





Solidarity with the Jacksonville Five! Donate for bail and defense

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Committee to Stop FBI Repression (stopfbi.net)

Solidarity with the Jacksonville Five!
Donate for bail and defense!

Please donate to the Jacksonville Five bail and defense fund!

Call State Attorney Melissa Nelson at
904-255-2500 and say, "Drop the charges against the Jacksonville Five!"

April 13, 2017 - The Jacksonville Five are a group of anti-war protesters in Florida beaten and arrested by police at a "No War in Syria" rally held on Friday April 7, 2017. A right-wing provocateur appeared with a Trump flag, and then harassed and shoved anti-war activists, while police did nothing to him. Then the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office (JSO) physically attacked the anti-war protesters who did nothing wrong.

The police descended upon Connell Crooms, a deaf African American man, who had been leading chants. The police savagely beat, kicked and tased Crooms until he was unconscious and had to be taken to the hospital. Crooms is a well-known Teamster and a Black Lives Matter leader.

The police also punched Vietnam veteran Willie Wilder in the face and arrested the 74-year-old peace activist. Christina Kittle, the leader of the Jacksonville Coalition for Consent was thrown to the ground and arrested. Transgender activist Toma Beckwith was also tackled and arrested.

As protesters were leaving the park to do jail support, the police arrested union activist and anti-war speaker Dave Schneider, charging him with "felony inciting a riot" for organizing the anti-war protest. Police never arrested the right-wing provocateur. In fact, there are many photos on social media of him posing with JSO police, including Sheriff Mike Williams.

Jacksonville quickly rallied to the defense of the Jacksonville Five. The next day, April 8, over 200 people rallied to demand all charges be dropped. Leaders of the labor, African American, and progressive movements chanted, "Drop the charges!" The mother of Connell Crooms gave a tearful testament to her son's good character and denounced the police attack on her son, "JSO should not be allowed to get away with this type of behavior."

The rally demanded a full independent investigation into the police misconduct of April 7. Protesters are also demanding an independent investigation into a police spying program. Just weeks earlier the Florida Times Union newspaper reported the Sheriff's Office was spying on activists, including the Jacksonville Five, with photos of Dave Schneider, Connell Crooms and Christina Kittle appearing.

Jacksonville Sheriffs are lying and denying, claiming the protesters "incited a riot." Fortunately, dozens of people took video of the police brutality. The social media pages of the provocateur contain ties to white supremacist groups and to Sheriff Mike Williams who denies he knows him, despite their photo together at a Trump rally.

To add insult to injury, the total bail amount issued by the court for all five arrestees came out to over $157,000. They are outrageously charging the people who were beaten and arrested by the police with serious felony charges. We need to mobilize national support and raise enough money to cover this and pay for the defense.

There is a continuing campaign to drop the trumped-up charges and investigate the abuses by the JSO.

Please call the State Attorney for the Florida 4th Circuit, Melissa Nelson at 904-255-2500, and demand she drop the charges against the Jax5.

Please share this link to donate to the Jacksonville Five legal defense fund:


Copyright © 2017 Committee to Stop FBI Repression, All rights reserved.

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

Our mailing address is:

Committee to Stop FBI Repression

PO Box 14183

MinneapolisMN  55414

Add us to your address book



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)  As Tax Day Approaches, Protesters Demand to See Trump's Returns

         APRIL 15, 2017




        PALM BEACH, Fla. — In a Tax Day groundswell of calls for President Trump to release his tax returns, hundreds of protesters marched to Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago getaway on Saturday in Florida, and thousands more gathered in Washington and other cities across the country.

        On a waterfront patch facing Mr. Trump's resort, where he is spending the weekend, demonstrators chanted "Pay! Your! Taxes!" and held signs calling him "Chicken in Chief" — the chicken being a symbol at the rallies of how Mr. Trump was "scared" to follow decades of presidential practice in releasing the returns.

        "This is the closest we have come to making sure he sees us and hears us," said Debbie Wehking, 66, a school principal from Miami. "He needs to show us his tax returns so that we can tell who's influencing his decisions, who he owes money to, who he's doing business with — really so we can figure out whether he needs to be impeached."

        Mr. Trump avoided the protest, taking a more circuitous route in his motorcade as he returned from a morning outing to his golf club in West Palm Beach. But while the president was spared the sight of chanting, sign-waving crowds, the demonstrations were heard around the country, in some cases snaking past properties bearing the Trump name.

        In Washington, several thousand people who had gathered at the foot of the Capitol — many holding replicas of chickens with golden pompadours — marched through the streets, passing the Trump International Hotel near the White House.

        "70% want to see your taxes — that's bigly!" one sign read. It was a reference to the lopsided majorities that polls show want the president to release his returns, as presidents have done for the past 40 years, though they are not required to.

        Another said, "My taxes pay for your golf."

        The White House has said Mr. Trump cannot release his tax returns because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. But the tax returns of presidents and vice presidents are automatically audited every year, a circumstance that has not prevented every other president since Richard M. Nixon from making public at least a portion of his tax records.

        Government transparency groups and Democrats have said that Mr. Trump has a particular duty to make the returns public, given the potential conflicts presented by his vast business holdings and his push to rewrite the tax code. One government ethics group has sued the president, arguing that his hotel profits violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits federal officials from receiving "any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince or foreign state."

        "How can we determine his conflicts of interest or stop him from receiving payments from foreign governments if he won't show us the names of the people and corporations that he is in active partnership with all over the world?" said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, who appeared at the Washington rally.

        Kris Gillespie of New York, who traveled to Washington with his wife and two children to attend the march, said the family made the trip in part to help the couple's 12-year-old son, James, cope with the stress he has felt since Mr. Trump's election.

        "We thought maybe if we bring him to something like this, it could help him process what he's feeling," said Mr. Gillespie, whose wife, Julie Underwood, traveled to Washington for the Women's March the day after Mr. Trump was inaugurated. The tax rally had been billed as among the largest demonstrations since that march, though the crowds on Saturday were far smaller. Another protest, called the March for Science, will be held next weekend.

        The tax protests unfolded a day after the White House announced that it would end the practice of releasing White House visitor logs, reversing a move toward greater transparency begun under President Barack Obama.

        "Why does he want to hide his taxes, that's what I want to know," said Martha Marquez, 53, a graduate school professor who attended the Palm Beach march holding a sign that said "Show Me Yours and I'll Show You Mine." "He promised transparency; remember 'Drain the swamp?'"

        Ms. Wehking, the Miami principal, who traveled in January to Washington for the Women's March, held a sign that read "We Care! Show Us Your Taxes!" It was a reference to remarks by Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, who said in January that Mr. Trump would not release his tax returns because the public was not concerned with them.

        Jim Gnehm, 72, of Jupiter, Fla., said, "He works for us — he represents the country, and there's just no excuse for him breaking the precedent that presidents have followed for the last 40 some-odd years."

        Intermingled among the protesters were a handful of ardent supporters of the president, who came with their own signs praising him and wishing him well.

        "I think he's doing a great job, and I couldn't care less about his tax returns," said Valeria Bianco, 59, a business consultant from Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Fla., who had a sign wishing the first family a happy Easter. "People should stop worrying about what he's hiding and focus on what he's doing now to keep us safe, the brave and valiant message he sent to Assad, the jobs that he's bringing back."

        In Berkeley, Calif., the police arrested at least 13 people at a pro-Trump "Free Speech" rally that devolved into violence as the president's supporters and counterprotesters clashed. The rally had been organized by a group called the Liberty Revival Alliance, and drew support from the Oath Keepers, a far-right group of former and current military members, as well as biker groups.

        Video of the protests, which circulated widely on social media, showed repeated skirmishes between Trump supporters and protesters.



        2)  Living by the Girl Scout Law, Even Without a Home

         APRIL 16, 2017





        The girls streamed into what once served as a dining room at a Sleep Inn in Queens, ready to begin their meeting with a roll call.

        One by one came the names: "Jessica. Luz," recited Karina, a fifth grader. "Carmen?"

        The room was small enough that Karina could easily see who was there and who was not. But this was a meeting of Girl Scout Troop 6000, where girls learn to be leaders, and protocol is to be followed.

        Troop 6000 is the first in New York City designated solely for homeless girls. All of the members live at the Sleep Inn, where the city has taken over all 10 floors to accommodate about 100 homeless families.

        In a way, the troop, created in February, is a reflection of the state of homelessness in the city. Within the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, troop numbers are determined by the city's five boroughs, with the 1000s in the Bronx, 2000s in Brooklyn and so on. But the members of Troop 6000 would not necessarily identify Queens as their home, so Girl Scout leaders extended the numerical sequence.

        "We're the O.G.!" one of the girls shouted. The slang, short for original gangster, can take on a nefarious connotation, but in this case simply means being the first of its type, one that commands respect.

        Hailey, Karina's sister and, at 14, the oldest girl present, used more conventional, Girl Scout-like language.

        "We're starting a chain reaction," she said. "Hopefully, in the next couple years, there will be more Girl Scout troops in shelters."

        Troops for homeless girls are rare, but not without precedent. Girl Scouts of the USA does not track such troops nationally, but in the past 30 years, troops have formed in shelters in Atlanta; Broward County, Fla.; and San Pedro, Calif. At one point during the 1990s, a number of untraditional troops were created to reach girls in shelters, migrant worker camps and public housing.

        As Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration grapple with a crisis of homelessness, the city has placed abut 7,500 people in commercial hotels. In February, Mr. de Blasio unveiled a five-year plan to open 90 new shelters and expand 30 current ones to replace hotel rooms and so-called cluster apartments that are both costly and inconvenient, often making it difficult for people to get the services they need to move into permanent housing.

        The city's Department of Homeless Services has been criticized for having a patchwork of shelters and making haphazard placements that frequently saddle children with long commutes to school. The plan is aimed at placing people in the neighborhoods where they lived before becoming homeless so they can remain near community anchors, like churches and schools.

        The new troop is among a number of programs begun by the city to meet the needs of children, who make up nearly 40 percent of the roughly 60,000 people in the city's primary shelter system. Of 287 people housed at the Sleep Inn, 155 are under 18, according to homeless services.

        The troop emerged from unfortunate circumstances, but also from a welcome coincidence and like-minded thinking among the Girl Scouts, the homeless services department and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents that area of Queens.

        "It's just about the most right thing I've ever been a part of," said Mr. Van Bramer, who gave the scouts pins for completing first aid training and discussed government with them last month.

        Mr. Van Bramer, 47, said his own family became homeless in 1970. For two months, it lived in a commercial hotel on the Upper East Side that was used as a shelter.

        He makes a point of visiting shelters, and so do many Girl Scouts troops. When one troop was serving Thanksgiving dinner at a women's shelter in Queens, Mr. Van Bramer mentioned to representatives of the Girl Scouts the idea of forming a troop for homeless girls.

        Soon, there was a meeting of recreation directors of 10 shelters. They thought about offering an opportunity for homeless girls to attend a summer scout camp and tried to work out funding. Then Giselle Burgess stepped in with the idea of a troop.

        Ms. Burgess works as a community engagement specialist for Girl Scouts of Greater New York. She is also homeless.

        A single mother of five children, including Hailey and Karina, Ms. Burgess became homeless in August after their rental home in Flushing was sold to make way for condominiums. Moving in with relatives was not an option — her mother, stepfather and two adult siblings were already squeezed into a two-bedroom apartment.

        Ms. Burgess, 32, earns a decent salary, she said, enough that she does not qualify for food stamps but not enough to easily afford an apartment that can accommodate six people.

        First, homeless services placed the family in Brooklyn. "It was way too far, and all of my resources are in Queens," she said.

        Then the family landed at the Sleep Inn, not ideal with just a room with double beds and no kitchen facilities, but four blocks from her children's school.

        Ms. Burgess immediately became active in the community, and pitched the idea of beginning a troop in the hotel to her bosses who had already been talking to Mr. Van Bramer and homeless services.

        "They said: 'Are you kidding me? Absolutely. Go for it,'" Ms. Burgess said.

        She was worried initially, she said, because the first meeting drew just eight girls, including three of her daughters. Through word of mouth, though, the troop had 20 scouts at the start of the recent meeting.

        By the end of the meeting, Phoenix, 10, became the 21st member of Troop 6000. "Is this the sign-up for Girl Scouts?" Takisha Wilson, 39, her mother, asked as they walked into the room.

        Ms. Wilson said she had seen a flier taped to a wall next to an ice machine. "My daughter always wanted to go. I just couldn't afford it," Ms. Wilson said.

        The Girl Scouts of Greater New York is covering the costs for Troop 6000: a $25 membership fee; a $75 starter kit of patches, pins, workbooks and vests; and the $20 monthly dues. Donations are being accepted.

        Angelo Vargas, 30, rushed into the room with his daughter, 7-year-old Alexa, her pink book bag slung over his back. "She was asking me all day, 'Are we going to make it on time?'" said Mr. Vargas, a single parent who works in maintenance, adding that he was a Boy Scout as a child.

        The meetings and outings, like a trip to the local Girl Scouts headquarters on Wall Street on Thursday, are something to look forward to in a place where a curfew and a restriction on visitors make it difficult to set up play dates and foster friendships.

        With children's needs a priority, Steven Banks, the city commissioner of social services, said he had met with representatives of the Girl Scouts recently to discuss an expansion into other shelters.

        In interviews, the girls of Troop 6000 talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Fashion designer, pediatrician, basketball player, engineer. (The New York Times is using only the girls' first names to protect their privacy.)

        "I'm going to help the homeless," said Silkia, 9, a third grader. "I'm going to get mad money, and I'm going to ask them if they want a shelter."

        Luz, 13, who is originally from the Bronx and attends seventh grade in Brooklyn, chimed in. "Or I could just switch up your idea," she added. "You're going to work and have mad money. Then you're going to build a shelter for the homeless people.

        "And then you're going to give food, give blankets, give pillows, and there you go," she added, opening her arms as in a ta-da moment. "A shelter."

        There was a pause. Then Silkia said, "But I need friends to help me."

        She has 20 and counting.



        3)  Tom Brady Skipping White House Visit Along With 6 Other Patriots

        The Patriots are to visit the White House and meet with President Trump on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate their Super Bowl victory. But at least seven members of the team have said they will not attend, and some of them have explicitly cited politics as their reason.

        The visit, scheduled to start at 1:20 p.m., with a press event at 2:30 p.m., comes the same day that a former Patriot, Aaron Hernandez, hanged himself in prison, where he was serving a life sentence for murder.

        Here's what we know about the ceremony:

        Will Not Attend

        Quarterback Tom Brady, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive end Chris Long, defensive tackle Alan Branch, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, tight end Martellus Bennett and safety Devin McCourty have all said they will not go to the ceremony.

        Brady made the announcement on Wednesday morning, in a statement published by ESPN, saying he had family matters to attend to. He also skipped his team's visit with President Barack Obama at the White House in 2015, citing family issues.

        Blount in a radio interview on "The Rich Eisen Show," said, "I just don't feel welcome in that house."

        Bennett told reporters after the Super Bowl: "It is what it is. "People know how I feel about it. Just follow me on Twitter." The outspoken Bennett had joked that he might move to outer space after Donald J. Trump was elected.

        McCourty, a team captain, told Time magazine: "Basic reason for me is I don't feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices, I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won't."

        Both Bennett and McCourty last fall raised their fists in protest during the national anthem for one game. At the time, athletes in various sports were protesting racial oppression in the country.

        Branch told Sirius XM Radio that he planned to spend time with family. Hightower told ESPN, "Been there, done that," having visited with a championship Alabama team.

        Ties to Trump

        Perhaps no other N.F.L. team has as close an association with Trump as the Patriots.

        Just before the election, Trump claimed that he had the support of Brady and Coach Bill Belichick. Brady, who displayed a "Make America Great Again" cap in his locker during the campaign, never explicitly endorsed Trump, but they have socialized. Trump also cited a supportive letter he had received from Belichick.

        At a rally in New Hampshire just before the election, Trump quoted Brady: "'Donald, I support you, you're my friend and I voted for you." But Brady's wife, Gisele Bündchen, denied they were Trump supporters.

        Disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday showed that the Patriots' owner, Robert K. Kraft, contributed $1 million to Trump's inauguration festivities. The two men are close friends and have appeared side-by-side frequently since Trump took office.

        The History

        Other athletes have skipped the trip over the years, many for personal reasons, but others with politics as the explicit motive.

        Kraft was dismissive of news media interest in the players' not attending this year's ceremony, telling the "Today" show:

        "It's interesting, this is our fifth Super Bowl in the last 16 years, and every time we've had the privilege of going to the White House, a dozen of our players don't go. This is the first time it's gotten any media attention.

        "This is America; we're all free to do whatever's best for us. We're just privileged to be in a position to be going."

        Bruins goalie Tim Thomas declined to visit the Obama White House in 2012, saying in a statement: "I believe the federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties and property of the people." Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk cited his opposition to abortion as the reason for skipping a 2013 visit.

        Presidents for years have invited sports figures to the White House, but the tradition of honoring championships teams there solidified under Ronald Reagan.



        4)  Over 1,000 Palestinian Prisoners in Israel Stage Hunger Strike

        By IAN FISHERAPRIL 17, 2017


        JERUSALEM — More than 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons joined in a hunger strike on Monday, demanding better conditions in an unusually large protest led by Marwan Barghouti, the most prominent prisoner and a figure often seen as a future Palestinian leader.

        Later Monday, there were unconfirmed reports by both Israeli and Palestinian news outlets that Mr. Barghouti had been moved from his usual prison, Hadarim, near Haifa, and placed in solitary confinement at another prison.

        The reports said his offenses were the strike and the act of smuggling out of prison an essay that he wrote, which was published as an Op-Ed article on Sunday in The New York Times.

        The essay asserted that "Israel has established a dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid, that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalizing Palestinian presence and resistance."

        "We will not surrender to it," he wrote.

        Israeli prison officials could not be reached for comment on Monday night.

        It was unclear whether the strike could be sustained to the point of forcing concessions from the Israeli authorities, but experts said it nonetheless had the potential to stir passions among Palestinians.

        Protests erupted on Monday in support of the prisoners in the occupied West Bank and in Gaza, growing in size over the course of the day.

        "Israel is taking it seriously simply because of the possible consequences," said Ghassan Khatib, a professor at Birzeit University and a former Palestinian official. "The issue of prisoners is very emotional."

        The strike also comes at a difficult time for the Palestinian Authority, whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is aging and unpopular; potential rivals are increasingly showing an interest in succeeding him.

        Polls suggest that Mr. Barghouti, 57, is the most popular choice to replace Mr. Abbas, 82, even though he is serving five life sentences after he was convicted of being a leader of the second intifada and of directing attacks that led to the killings of Israelis.

        Starting Sunday, many of the more than 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons declared that they were on a hunger strike.

        The prisoners' demands include more family visits, an end to solitary confinement, better health care and greater access to education. Qadura Fares, the director of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, a nongovernmental organization, said the prisoners would not end the hunger strike until their demands had been met.

        Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, called the demonstrations a "peaceful expression of opposing occupation." In an interview on Monday with The Times's editorial board, Mr. Mansour also said he had spoken by telephone with Mr. Barghouti's wife.

        "We hope this strike will be a short strike because nobody wants prisoners to have additional suffering," Mr. Mansour quoted her as saying.

        "We hope the Israeli occupying authority will start negotiating with them and make the duration short," Mr. Mansour said. "But, of course, that remains to be seen."

        Although Mr. Barghouti belongs to Mr. Abbas's Fatah party, and most of the strikers are Fatah members, its rival Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, said that it supported the strike and that some of its members would take part.

        Israeli officials said they did not negotiate with prisoners. The Israeli prison service said that hunger strikes were illegal and that participants would be disciplined. "Strikes and protests are illegal activities and will face unwavering penalization," the service said in a statement.

        Rami Nazzal contributed reporting from Ramallah, West Bank, and Rick Gladstone from New York.



        5)  Roma Sickened in U.N. Camps Are Still Waiting for Redress

         APRIL 18, 2017




        A panel of United Nations human rights advisers urged the global organization more than a year ago to publicly apologize and compensate hundreds of ethnic Roma who were poisoned by lead waste in decrepit camps run by its peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. But it is increasingly unclear whether the Roma, also known as Gypsies, will get even an apology.

        A draft statement that would "sincerely apologize" for the poisoning and other problems that the panel attributed to negligence by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, known as Unmik, has been under revision since March, according to people in and outside the United Nations who are knowledgeable about the deliberations.

        Those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were talking about internal United Nations discussions, also said that the precise mechanism and amount of any financial remedy, should there be one, had not been determined.

        The main obstacle, they said, was the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs' objections to any language in the statement that could be construed as acknowledging liability. A copy of the draft statement was obtained by The New York Times.

        "There is a natural process on these issues, especially one as important as this," Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for Secretary General António Guterres, said on Tuesday. "The discussions are still very much ongoing, and the secretary-general expects to make a decision very soon."

        The issues surrounding the lead poisoning, which affected as many as 500 people in three camps that have long since closed, reflect an underlying tension within the United Nations over grievances from civilians victimized by the organization's operations around the world.

        As in the much larger cholera scourge that was traced to infected United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti, the organization's lawyers have tended to resist any acceptance of legal responsibility or mandatory compensation to victims.

        Even when the United Nations acknowledged a role in the Haiti cholera crisis in 2016, after years of denial and assertions of diplomatic immunity from lawsuits, rights advocates said its apology was carefully worded to avoid direct responsibility, and the compensation plan was structured as a voluntary act of good will, not as a requirement.

        Critics of the United Nations say its behavior in both the Haiti cholera and the Roma lead poisoning in Kosovo has undercut its moral authority.

        "The broader point is if you didn't do it for Haiti, and you don't do it for Kosovo, you don't have to do it for anyone," said Philip Alston, a New York University law professor and United Nations special rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights.

        Mr. Alston wrote a scathing appraisal last year of the United Nations behavior during the cholera epidemic, which killed nearly 10,000 Haitians and sickened roughly 800,000. He also faulted its financial remedy, a $400 million voluntary trust fund that has attracted relatively small sums from a few of the organization's 192 member states. 

        A voluntary trust fund is among the possibilities for aiding the Roma, but the amount envisioned is in the $10 million range, people knowledgeable about the process said.

        The delay in redressing the Roma poisoning is the latest in a slowly moving process that began after the human rights panel delivered its opinion in February 2016, when Ban Ki-moon was the secretary general.

        In December, with just a few weeks before their terms ended, Mr. Ban's deputy secretary general, Jan Eliasson, convened a meeting about the panel's findings, according to people knowledgeable about it. Mr. Eliasson did not respond to a request for comment.

        The outcome was the draft apology statement made in the name of the top Unmik official, Zahir Tanin, the secretary general's special representative in Kosovo.

        The Office of Legal Affairs, which did not object to the idea of an apology at the December meeting, apparently changed its view when the draft was circulated a few months later.

        At a higher-level meeting convened in March by Mr. Guterres, the Office of Legal Affairs recommended against the apology language, people knowledgeable about it said.

        The United Nations deliberations over how to deal with the Roma poisoning have frustrated human rights advocates and the victims' lawyers, who have pressed the organization for years to take responsibility.

        "The victims of lead poisoning in Unmik camps in northern Kosovo have waited far too long for a public apology and compensation from the U.N., which was directly responsible for their suffering," Louis Charbonneau, the United Nations director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

        The advisory panel found that Unmik had failed to protect Roma families uprooted from their homes and moved into three camps in the northern part of Mitrovica, Kosovo, after war broke out in 1998 between Serbia and ethnic Albanian separatists. All the camps were within 200 yards of industrial waste from a lead-smelting factory.

        Although the United Nations realized the families were living on toxic land and health specialists urged their relocation, nothing was done to move the residents for years, even as many — especially older people, expectant mothers and children — were sickened by lead-contaminated soil and dust.

        "You could smell the toxicity in the air, smell it in the ground," said Paul Polansky, an American expert on the Roma who alerted United Nations officials in Kosovo to the problem in 1999.

        Mr. Polansky, an activist who helped produce a 2005 documentary about the lead poisoning, "Gypsy Blood," said in a telephone interview that he was not surprised at the United Nations' lack of actions. "I expect them to do absolutely nothing," he said.

        Naim Mehmeti, 50, a scrap-metal collector whose family had lived in one of the camps, Zitkovac, said one of his daughters had died from lead poisoning before she was 5. Another, now 13, has severely impaired vision from lead contamination.

        "Nobody even knew what lead was," Mr. Mehmeti said in a Skype interview from Kosovo. He was not optimistic about the possibility of compensation. "I'm not expecting much, not even an apology, because this is how the institutions work in Kosovo," he said.

        Dianne Post, a lawyer who represents some Roma victims, was also dismissive. Shown a copy of the draft apology statement, she observed that its reference to Kosovo's "unique circumstances" implied that the United Nations regarded the poisoning as an exceptional event.

        "Factually it may be, but legally it is not — witness Haiti," she said. "Of course they want to use 'unique' to avoid setting precedent for such violations."



        6)  U.S. Isn't Saying How Much Damage 'Mother of All Bombs' Did in Afghanistan

         APRIL 18, 2017




        KABUL, Afghanistan — Since the United States dropped the "mother of all bombs" on an Islamic State cave complex in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, American military officials have been circumspect about the bomb's damage, but one voice has been filling the information vacuum in the region: Islamic State radio.

        The reluctance of the United States to discuss casualties and other damage from the 22,000-pound bomb concerns local officials in Nangarhar Province who supported the massive bomb after military officials said ground operations had failed to penetrate the Islamic State stronghold in the mountains of the Achin district.

        "I and other people have this concern — that why American forces are not letting anyone visit the scene of the bombing?" said Zabihullah Zmarai, a member of the council in Nangarhar Province who held a post-bombing news conference to announce his support. "The U.S. authorities should provide an answer to this question."

        Afghan security officials say that clearance operations are taking place around the site, and that Islamic State fighters are engaging Afghan and American forces, who are calling in more airstrikes to target the militants' positions. There are also reports that the American military has kept even Afghan forces from the bombing site.

        One senior Afghan security official in Kabul said on Tuesday that Thursday's bombing killed 96 Islamic State militants, 13 of them major commanders. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the news media, provided the names and basic information about the commanders, most of whom were from the tribal areas across the border in Pakistan, but who also included some Indian citizens and Central Asians. However, the official provided no proof of the deaths or information on how officials reached the number of 96.

        The United States military, despite repeated attempts, did not provide comment.

        The Islamic State's local radio outlet, which was unaffected by the bombing, continues to broadcast into Jalalabad, the urban center in the east. It broadcasts half-hour programs during the day and an evening program that often lasts more than an hour.

        As early as the day after the bombing, it broadcast a call-in program in which voices of men who claimed to be fighters in the area who were not affected by the powerful bomb could be heard between rhyming Islamic chants.

        "The media was expecting that this bomb would have killed all the Islamic State fighters or forced them to flee, but that is not the case," the program's anchor said. "After the big bomb, our warrior, brave youth became a shield in front of them."

        Islamic State radio, known as Voice of the Caliphate, has been reconstituted after it was destroyed last year by a targeted American drone attack. Afghan officials said that the earlier operation was run by five militants from the back of a small truck that switched locations often to avoid being targeted.

        Islamic State affiliates in Afghanistan expanded rapidly in 2015, before repeated Afghan military operations and American airstrikes brought them to a halt. Islamic State fighters are now estimated at about 700, down from 2,000 to 3,000, and their activities are reduced to mainly three districts in Nangarhar.

        The tunnel complex in the Tangi Assadkhel area of Achin prevented military operations from eliminating the group entirely, American military officials have said in justifying the first use of the bomb, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast.

        Naser Kamawal, another Nangarhar provincial council member, said the bomb did not seem to have succeeded in its mission. Afghan forces had not advanced past the areas they had cleared repeatedly long before the bombing.

        "Why the bomb with such a big destruction had such few casualties?" Mr. Kamawal said. "If there was some 90 Islamic State militants, then why were our own Afghan forces not able to eliminate them in a military operation — what was the need for using such a big bomb?"

        It was unclear whether any Afghan or coalition forces have made it to the bombing site five days after the attack. The senior Afghan security official said the day after the bombing that Afghan commandos had done so and, after clearing the site, had handed it over to American military forensic teams.

        Mr. Zmarai, the provincial council member, said local officials in Achin told him that neither Afghan nor American forces had arrived at the site.

        A spokesman for the Afghan commandos, Jawid Salim, agreed. "It is not true that the members of U.S. forensic are at the scene of bombing — no one is there," he said. "We are in the area and we see everything."

        Afghan commando forces advancing the day after the bombing overcame resistance about a mile from the site but continued with operations in other parts of Achin instead of going to the scene, he said, adding that American airstrikes were helping them during follow-up operations.

        Mr. Salim expressed satisfaction that the bomb hit what he called an important target, and he seemed satisfied by the security official's report that more than 90 fighters were killed.

        "They say it destroys everything within two miles, but that could be in plain land — in mountainous areas, the bomb may not have such big destruction," Mr. Salim said, speculating, like so many other officials, in the absence of any concrete information.



        7)  Chemist's Misconduct Is Likely to Void 20,000 Massachusetts Drug Cases

         APRIL 18, 2017




        BOSTON — More than 20,000 drug cases tied to a disgraced former state chemist appear headed for dismissal, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and public defenders said Tuesday as they combed through legal filings from local prosecutors in Massachusetts.

        "We're all overjoyed today at having what is, we think, the largest dismissal of criminal cases as a result of one case in the history of the United States of America," said Carl Williams, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of Massachusetts, which has pressed for the dismissal of tainted cases.

        It was the latest development in the yearslong story of Annie Dookhan, a chemist whose co-workers called her Superwoman because she worked so fast. But she was found to have mishandled drug samples, forged signatures and returned positive results on drugs she never bothered to test, and in 2013, she pleaded guilty to 27 counts, including obstruction of justice, perjury and tampering with evidence.

        By then, the damage was done. Prosecutors and defenders around the state had already begun the imposing task of figuring out which convictions had been tainted by the failings. Early estimates rose above 40,000. Hundreds of people were released from prison.

        In January, the state's highest court ordered district attorneys to produce the lists of people they believe they could reprosecute, were a new trial permitted, and those whose cases they will dismiss. Those decisions were due on Tuesday.

        On Tuesday afternoon, lawyers combed through spreadsheets inside an ornate courthouse here, and counted 21,587 likely dismissals. They had estimated that prosecutors would not vacate the convictions of 500 to 700 people.

        "From numbers that we're initially getting, about 95 percent of these tainted drug convictions will be dismissed," Mr. Williams said. "And that is a victory for regular people, for people who've been tarnished by these drug convictions."

        On Tuesday, lawyers for the A.C.L.U. and the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the agency that provides public defenders in Massachusetts, said the "Dookhan defendants," as they are called, would receive mailings informing them of the status of their cases.

        "In many respects, the damage has been done. Jobs have been lost, people have been unable to get jobs, housing has been lost, some people have been deported," said Anthony J. Benedetti, the organization's chief public counsel.

        In Suffolk County, which includes Boston, more than 7,800 cases were expected to be dismissed.

        "These are not wrongful convictions," said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the county's district attorney, Daniel F. Conley. "They are cases that could be appealed on procedural grounds."

        Ms. Dookhan was sentenced to serve three to five years in prison and was granted parole last year. A message left for Nicholas A. Gordon, the lawyer who represented Ms. Dookhan in her legal case, was not immediately answered.

        The scandal led drug labs around the country to re-examine their protocols, said Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., the director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School, which has some clients who are affected by the scandal.

        Mr. Sullivan, who described the wave of dismissals as "wholly unprecedented," said, "There will be literally tens of thousands of people whose lives will change."



        8)  Another Long Delay for Rape Custody Bill in Maryland

         APRIL 19, 2017




        To supporters of a Maryland bill to help rape victims, the idea seemed like a no-brainer: Women impregnated by their attackers should not have to fight custody battles to raise their children or, as often happens, put them up for adoption.

        The proposal had the support of lawmakers in both parties and people on both sides of the abortion debate. Bills had passed unanimously in both the State Senate and the House of Delegates. The governor was on board. But on the last day of the annual three-month session last week, the legislation died at the stroke of midnight.

        Now, unless Maryland lawmakers bring up the bill in a special session, which seems unlikely, the state will remain one of a handful without such a law.

        It came down to six legislators who handled last-minute negotiations on April 10. Critics were quick to note that all of the negotiators were men.

        "It's bad optics," said Kathleen Dumais, a Democratic member of the House of Delegates who sponsored the House bill. "I think it's insensitive. But I'm not sure that's the reason that it failed."

        What happened?

        Ms. Dumais said the failure was mainly a testament to the complications that can plague policy-making in the part-time legislature. But she wondered if some legislators were content to let the clock's hands deliver the fatal blow.

        Ms. Dumais said her bill was motivated by a few "horrible" custody fights and would have affected no more than 10 cases per year.

        "In general there's this sort of perception that it would be misused," she said, "that women would lie and say they'd been raped in order to avoid letting a father have access or custody."

        The proposal had support from state legislators on both sides of the aisle and, in a rare feat, was backed by both the Maryland Catholic Conference and Planned Parenthood of Maryland. Anti-abortion groups thought the legislation would make it easier for women to choose adoption, while other groups said it would protect rape victims.

        The goal was to give rape victims a way to deny custody to fathers in civil court, because the vast majority of rapes do not result in criminal convictions. The disagreements came down to how best to protect the rights of men not convicted of crimes.

        Senator Bobby A. Zirkin, a Democrat who is chairman of the Senate's judicial proceedings committee, noted that both bills proposed using private family courts — not criminal courts — to deny parental rights to those accused of rape. "This would be the first time I'd be aware of where we'd be proving a crime in a civil procedure," he said. "That should be walked into carefully."

        He said the Senate's version ensured that any statements made in civil court could not be used in a criminal trial, in order to prevent self-incrimination.

        Lisae C. Jordan, executive director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which has spent years advocating for this law, said there was no reason the negotiations had to wait until hours before the deadline. "I don't buy it."

        She also said the objections were overblown, adding that the House bill had more protections than any such bill in the country. For example, it required "clear and convincing" evidence against a parent accused of rape, a higher standard than many other civil cases.

        But supporters eventually gave in on most issues in order to pass something — anything — before time was up, said David Moon, a House Democrat who co-sponsored Ms. Dumais's bill.

        That resulted in an informal agreement among negotiators, but no time to redraft the legislation — in print — so that it could be put to a final vote and sent to Gov. Larry Hogan.

        Mr. Moon said he ran down to the clerks' offices just minutes before midnight. "I went down to the amendment office at 11:55 and said, 'Hey guys, where is this paperwork?' They said, 'You've got to throw in the towel. It's not happening.'"

        What's next?

        Mr. Moon said he wished that the conference had convened earlier and that women had been involved in the negotiations. Now that the bill has failed, he added, "we're going to have an unacceptable situation where rapists can continue to have leverage over rape survivors in Maryland."

        One member of the six-man conference, Joseph F. Vallario Jr., a Democrat who is chairman of the House's judiciary committee, was too busy to attend the actual meeting. But he, along with Senator Zirkin, was responsible for appointing its participants, and he stood by his decision not to name Ms. Dumais.

        "We try to avoid putting a sponsor on a committee," he said. "They don't go with an open mind to settle the matter." (Ms. Dumais said that sponsors of bills, herself included, had participated in such conferences in the past.)

        Mr. Zirkin agreed, in hindsight, that more women should have been involved.

        The bill was one of scores to die on the last day. "There are a ton of bills, and it's still kind of archaic in terms of how it works," he said. "Things that should be able to be done electronically very quickly still are not."

        He added he considered the bill a priority and would bring it up again if the legislature convened for a special session this year.

        Ms. Dumais is skeptical such a session will be called, but she is optimistic about the prospects for 2018. "It's a strong bill, and there's no need for amendment."

        Continue reading the main story



        9)  Retired Miners Lament Trump's Silence on Imperiled Health Plan

        UNIONTOWN, Pa. — Donald J. Trump made coal miners a central metaphor of his presidential campaign, promising to "put our miners back to work" and look after their interests in a way that the Obama administration did not.

        Now, three months into his presidency, comes a test of that promise.

        Unless Congress intervenes by late April, government-funded health benefits will abruptly lapse for more than 20,000 retired miners, concentrated in Trump states that include Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Many of the miners have serious health problems arising from their years in the mines.

        In mining areas like Uniontown, Pa., and surrounding Fayette and Greene Counties, which Mr. Trump carried 2 to 1, it is an upsetting and potentially costly prospect. "It's just a terrible, terrible feeling," said one of the retirees, David VanSickle, who spent four decades at work in the mines. "I think about that 25 times a day."

        The president has offered no public comment on the issue, even as he has rolled back regulations on mine operators, an omission that has not escaped the notice of Mr. VanSickle and other retired miners.

        "To me, that was kind of a promise he did make to us," Mr. VanSickle said about Mr. Trump, whom he supported last fall. "He promised to help miners, not just mining companies."

        Responsibility for the retirees' health plans has increasingly shifted to the federal government in recent years, as struggling coal companies have shed their liabilities in bankruptcy court. Congress voted last fall to finance benefits for a large group of retirees for several months, but House and Senate Republican leaders have yet to agree on a longer-term solution.

        The benefits can easily mean the difference between a middle-class retirement and economic hardship, since many retired miners are too young to qualify for Medicare. Others have chronic or debilitating health problems that would require expensive supplemental coverage — currently provided by the retiree plan — even with the Medicare benefit.

        Norm Skinner worked for more than 20 years as a miner in eastern Ohio and had triple bypass surgery in 2010. Without the retiree health plan, he said, the surgery "would have broke me," even with Medicare picking up much of the bill.

        Uniontown, which lies about 30 miles east of two large mines that once employed well over 1,000 miners but are down to roughly 600 after one ceased production in 2015, hints at both middle-class affluence and postindustrial angst.

        Around the corner from Ptak's, a formidable-looking formal wear store on Main Street, are a handful of dilapidated storefronts and a vast, empty commercial space that advertises "mental health counseling" and "motivational speaking" for veterans. The space has the appearance of a renovation that was never completed and, to the naked eye, could pass for a sign of either revival or decline, like much of Uniontown itself.

        Mr. VanSickle, who lost parts of two fingers on the job, said his doctor advised him to retire two years ago, at 59, because he suffers from black lung, a condition associated with long-term exposure to coal dust.

        He manages the illness by attaching himself to a breathing machine that essentially props open the airway to his lungs while he sleeps. "My oxygen content would drop so low without it," he said, fitting tubes into his nose from the bedroom of his comfortable home in Uniontown.

        Last fall, Mr. VanSickle priced out a private insurance plan that would provide roughly comparable benefits for him and his wife, who takes about a dozen separate medications to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The estimates came in at $1,500 to $1,800 per month.

        "I always wanted to be a person who would leave a little legacy for my children," he said. "If I lose these benefits and my pension, there will not be enough for me, let alone for my children."

        (Mr. VanSickle and his wife could be eligible for thousands of dollars in subsidies if they purchased insurance under the Affordable Care Act, said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation. But such a plan would most likely be more limited, and Mr. Trump still maintains that he wants to undo the program.)

        The miners typically regard their health care with a sense of moral entitlement, having frequently passed up higher pay during contract talks in order to top off their benefits.

        John Leach, 67, worked in four different mines over 23 years as a miner in western Kentucky. As a result, he said, "I got four of those speeches: 'If you work here, you work your 20 years, you are guaranteed insurance for yourself and your family for the rest of your life.'"

        Since he retired in 2001, that insurance, along with Medicaid and Medicare, has kept him and his wife, Rhonda, 60, afloat. The couple care for two adult children with severe physical and mental disabilities. In 2015, the health plan paid out over $50,000 for Rhonda's hip-replacement surgery.

        "I don't know if you've ever gone through a serious test at the doctor's office," Ms. Leach said by phone. "You wait and wait and don't hear anything and the pressure starts building up: Am I going to live or am I going to die? That's exactly what this is like: living and dying."

        Many retired miners who supported Mr. Trump understood that his promise to revive employment in their industry was a long shot in the face of cheap natural gas — "a couple of jobs" might come of it, Mr. VanSickle said.

        But they believed their wish was a modest one. The price tag for their benefits averages a little under $200 million per year over the next 10 years, which can be partly offset through interest that accrues in a federal fund for reclaiming abandoned mines. Because no new miners would become eligible for the health benefits awarded to this group, the cost would eventually dwindle to zero.

        Last year, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, appeared reluctant to expedite a vote on a permanent fix despite bipartisan support, and despite representing a state where several thousand retirees are affected.

        One reason for his lack of enthusiasm may have been the hundreds of thousands of dollars the union spent opposing him in his most recent re-election campaign.

        Earlier this year, Mr. McConnell appeared to develop a sense of urgency, however, introducing legislation to pay for a once-and-for-all extension of the health benefits. (A McConnell spokesman noted that he had supported a one-year extension late last year.)

        Some time after that, the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, let it be known that he could abide no more than 20 months, after which the benefits would either lapse or have to be extended again.

        "It perfectly lined up with the 2018 election," said Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, the Senate's leading proponent of a permanent resolution. Mr. Manchin speculated that Republicans favored another short-term reprieve so that his Republican opponent next year, who could be one of the House Republicans from his state, could claim credit for yet another extension.

        A spokeswoman for the House Appropriations Committee said all 2017 funding bills were still being negotiated.

        According to Mr. Manchin, Mr. Trump has told him privately that he supports his efforts, and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, even reshared on Twitter one of Mr. Manchin's social media pronouncements to that effect.

        A White House spokeswoman declined to comment.

        In the last few days, the House Republican leadership has suggested that it, too, might support a permanent fix, according to Phil Smith, the chief lobbyist for the miners union, but only if it can settle on a revenue source to offset the full cost. "It leaves the door wide open to 'Well, we couldn't find one,'" Mr. Smith said.

        Many miners in their early 60s are postponing retirement, unsure if their savings will suffice absent the health insurance they have long expected.

        Tony Brnusak, 62, who has worked for nearly 40 years in the Cumberland mine, said he would probably be retiring, if not for the uncertainty around his benefits.

        "My wife works and she'll be retiring next year, but she won't have the medical when she retires, she won't have a pension," he said. "We're counting on mine."

        He serves as president of the local mine workers union and estimates that at least 50 to 60 more workers at Cumberland, out of just under 600, are in a similar position.

        Although he agrees with Mr. Trump on some key issues, not least climate change, he can't conceal his disappointment that the health care issue has lingered for so long.

        "I thought he was really going to help people," Mr. Brnusak said, referring to Mr. Trump. "He's helped the rich man, the coal operators. But nothing for us so far."



        10) Mother of All Bombs

        A journey to the Afghan village where

        President Trump dropped the biggest bomb.

        By ALI M. LATIFI APRIL 20, 2017



        ACHIN, AFGHANISTAN — I spent the evening of April 13 with a cousin and two aunts in the upscale Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in Kabul, Afghanistan. My aunts mostly talked about their relaxed, liberal early youth in the 1960s among the Kabul elite. As we waited in the driveway for our car, my cousin told me about an explosion in Nangarhar, the eastern province of Afghanistan, where our family comes from. We scrolled through our phones. As we drove out, it became clear it wasn't the beginning of the Taliban's so-called Spring Offensive.

        Around 8 p.m. Afghan time, the United States had dropped a 21,600-pound, $16 million bomb on Asadkhel, a tiny village nestled between two forested hills, to attack a decades-old tunnel system that was being used by fighters claiming allegiance to the Iraq- and Syria-based Islamic State.

        Afghanistan has been at war for almost four decades now. Our people lived through the Soviet occupation and the war the mujahedeen fought against the Soviets with the support of the United States; freedom from the Soviet occupation was stained by a brutal civil war between mujahedeen factions (warlords had ruled large parts of the country and exacted a terrible human cost).

        The Taliban rule followed. We watched them being bombed into submission and escape after Sept. 11, celebrated a few years of relative calm, and saw the Taliban return to strength and wage a long, bloody insurgency that continues to this day. We watched the world tire of our forever war and forget us.

        Throughout the years of war, we had come to make lists of many firsts in Afghanistan — horrors, military victories, defeats, weapons used, atrocities committed, improbable lives saved. The explosion of the "mother of all bombs" on April 13 was a striking addition to the list of "firsts."

        Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump barely mentioned Afghanistan during the long presidential campaign. Yet President Trump had chosen to use the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the world on a remote Afghan village.

        Afghanistan was simply a convenient landscape for the reality star turned president to unleash a startling, theatrical display of his might. A strange sense of unease enveloped me, despite the years of war and despite being a journalist, as I watched my country being featured as the dehumanized landscape where the biggest non-nuclear bomb had been exploded. "What gives them the right to use this type of weapon on us, or anywhere?" I asked my cousin.

        I watched Nangarhar being highlighted on maps of Afghanistan as if it wasn't home to more than 1.5 million people, as if everything human had instantly been eradicated by the sheer mention of this alpha and omega of military weaponry. News reports described Achin, the district closest to the bombed village, as nothing more than an area populated by Islamic State fighters.

        The bomb had become "babao," the monster that Afghan children were warned was lurking around the corner. It had swallowed up the people, the life from Achin. The civilians who had suffered three years of brutality under the Islamic State ceased to exist. They were inconsequential; what mattered were the terrorists, their caves and the great, big, scary bomb.

        I went to bed that night sad with the knowledge that my homeland was still simply a staging ground for foreign nations to project their power. On Friday morning I woke up to find Kabul had chosen to stay quiet and not protest the decision to explode "Madar-e Bamb-Ha," the Dari translation for "mother of all bombs" Afghans began using.

        I set out for Nangarhar. Leaving Kabul can be a dangerous affair. If you travel south of the city, every mile on the road is living with the prospect of an encounter with the Taliban, the possibility of a tire rolling over a lethal roadside bomb.

        I was, fortunately, driving east to Jalalabad, one of the largest Afghan cities. I drove for three hours through tunnels carved into the mountainside, past streams flowing beside forested mountains, and arrived in Jalalabad in the afternoon. The bombing site was two hours away. The city did not betray any anxiety. Rickshaws whizzed from roundabout to roundabout; kebab stands on sidewalks did brisk business; men and women filled the bazaars, shopping before the Friday prayer.

        Some Afghan officials from Jalalabad took a group of journalists to Achin district, about 40 miles south. We drove through Bati Kot and Shinwar, two districts in between, where the Islamic State had established a significant presence in 2014. Thousands of residents had fled and sought refuge in Jalalabad and Kabul, among other places. Most of them were yet to return, but people carried on with their lives in village bazaars.

        We passed an unfinished luxury-housing complex named for Amanullah Khan, the beloved former king of Afghanistan. We passed the site of a proposed university. As we approached Achin, white and purple poppy plants popped up in the green grass fields.

        A few miles before Asadkhel, the bombed village, the road turned into a mountainous stretch of rock, dirt and gravel. A market of about 200 stores lay abandoned; the stores had been destroyed in weekslong military operations against the Islamic State fighters. Crumbling foundations, caved-in roofs and some tattered pieces of cloth were all that remained.

        Not far from the ruined market, I met two boys: 11-year-old Safiullah and 13-year-old Wajed. They described the explosion as "very loud" but insisted that it did not scare them. Safiullah held on to his unruly goat that he was walking home. "I am used to it," he said. "I have heard so many bombings."

        Wajed, who had come to bring water to the police, agreed. They said they were glad that the Islamic State fighters were gone. Safiullah had interacted a little with Islamic State fighters as he took his goat for grazing. They told him, "Don't grow poppy and don't shave your beard."

        We finally reached a hilltop overlooking a green valley besides Asadkhel. A small cluster of mud houses stood along the hill. Every now and then a child would pass by. We saw no adults.

        Two hills obstructed view of the bombed area. American helicopters flew overhead. Three hours passed but we weren't allowed to proceed further. Officials spoke cheerfully of resounding success and precision of the operation.

        Yet every time we sought permission to visit the bombed area, they found excuses to keep us away: "The operation is ongoing!" "There are still Daesh" — Islamic State — "fighters on the loose!" "There are land mines!" and finally, "The area is being cleared!" "No civilians were hurt!"

        We weren't allowed anywhere near the bombed village. We were simply told that about 94 Islamic State fighters had been killed.

        In the end, "Madar-e Bamb-Ha" became the star of a grotesque reality television show. We know how much it weighs, what it costs, its impact, its model number and its code name. We know nothing about the people it killed except they are supposed to be nameless, faceless, cave-dwelling Islamic State fighters. It was a loud blast, followed by a loud silence. It is yet another bomb to fall on Afghan soil, and the future of my homeland remains as uncertain as ever.

        Ali M. Latifi is a writer based in Kabul, Afghanistan.



        10)  Torn From Their Families for No Good Reason

        Anyone wanting vivid examples of the unjust consequences of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly's hard-line immigration policy need look no further than Maribel Trujillo-Diaz, a mother of four children living near Cincinnati, who is her family's main breadwinner and who has no criminal record. Or Juan Manuel Montes, a 23-year-old Californian who came to the United States when he was 9 and had been shielded from deportation under President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

        Neither fits the profile of a "criminal alien" or threat to the homeland. On the contrary. Ms. Trujillo had applied unsuccessfully for asylum and had been ordered deported to Mexico. But Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials sensibly saw no good reason to remove her, and allowed her to remain and care for her children — who are 3, 10, 12 and 14, and are American citizens — as long as she checked in regularly with them. That she did, faithfully, until she kept her appointment under the new administration, which showed no compassion. Now she is gone.

        There are conflicting accounts between Mr. Montes's lawyers and Homeland Security about whether his permission to stay under DACA was voided after he crossed into Mexico and tried to get back in. But there is no disputing he is a "Dreamer" — brought here illegally as a child, through no fault of his own, and by no means part of the cohort of alien predators feverishly evoked by Mr. Kelly.

        Americans need to recognize and reject this great conflation of unauthorized immigrants with criminals.

        Mr. Kelly spoke of lurid violence and existential threats while dismissing as inevitably false any accounts of enforcement overreach. Don't believe, he said, any "partial and oftentimes inaccurate media reporting on some alleged incident at an airport, in a courthouse, or at a border crossing." Those "alleged" events that Mr. Kelly scoffs at are doing real harm to immigrant families around the country.

        This is not reasonable, it's not smart and it does not keep the homeland safe. The reckless deportations of harmless immigrants like Ms. Trujillo and Mr. Montes are spreading fear far and wide, and dismaying those who recognize their senseless cruelty, like John Kasich, Republican governor of Ohio, who said, "We have enough broken families in the country."



        11)  Fearmongering at Homeland Security

        APRIL 21, 2017


        The United States is as vulnerable to an attack today as it was the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Information in the press about national security is misleading or flat-out wrong, offering a false sense of security. The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security perform heroic work day and night for a largely ungrateful nation. If members of Congress are unhappy with the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigration, they should pass new laws or "shut up."

        Those were the main takeaways from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly's first extensive remarks about how he intends to lead a vast bureaucracy on the front lines of immigration enforcement, passenger screening and cybersecurity.

        "Make no mistake," he said Tuesday during a speech at George Washington University. "We are in fact a nation under attack."

        Of course it is necessary to take seriously threats from extremist groups and criminals, and take measures against them. But they do not justify Mr. Kelly's incendiary message to his work force. The tone he sets can only encourage abusive behavior among his officers further down the chain of command against immigrants, and also lead to the curtailment of Americans' civil liberties and privacy.

        Mr. Kelly said that Americans have grown complacent because their government has done such a good job of keeping them safe. The reality, he warned, is quite different: "We are under attack from terrorism both within and outside of our borders. These men and women are without conscience, and they operate without rules. They despise the United States, because we are a nation of rights, of laws and of freedoms. They have a single mission, and that is our destruction."

        That apocalyptic talk turns the Islamophobia and immigrant scapegoating that turbocharged the Trump campaign into marching orders for federal law enforcement agents and bureaucrats. It ignores that the United States has spent billions of dollars over the past 15 years greatly enhancing its intelligence collection capabilities and that it has put in place far more stringent mechanisms to screen visa applicants and visitors.

        Disregarding these gains, Mr. Kelly and other top administration officials stand to make the country less safe with talk of a war on unauthorized immigrants, which is driving segments of immigrant communities underground, making them fearful of any encounters with law enforcement. The bashing of Muslims, meanwhile, is music to the ears of extremist, violent organizations that have used the notion that America is at war with Islam as a recruiting tool.

        Mr. Kelly's prepared remarks also telegraphed more drastic measures to come. He said a new restriction on carrying laptops and tablets onto some flights from Muslim-majority countries "will likely expand," citing, vaguely, "the sophisticated threats aviation faces." America's cyberdefenses can no longer rely on "muskets," but instead need "heavy artillery."

        Mr. Kelly dismissed critics who have lamented his stated willingness to separate immigrant mothers and children caught entering the country, claiming that this unfathomably cruel threat would be, and indeed already has been, a useful disincentive for would-be migrants.

        Among the more jarring parts of Mr. Kelly's speech was his message to lawmakers. Citing the low morale of employees he described as "political pawns" in the nation's contentious immigration debate, Mr. Kelly said members of Congress should have "the courage and the skill to change those laws," or "shut up and support the men and women on the front lines" of immigration enforcement.

        Mr. Kelly's choice of words reflects the dismal state of public discourse in American politics. That brusqueness encourages lawmakers to respond in kind, which can only make policy making more fraught and partisan. But even more alarming is his unrestrained fearmongering. If Americans take his discourse at face value, they will be living in a paranoid society willing to trade fundamental freedoms and principles for a sense of security.



        12)  Arkansas Puts Ledell Lee to Death, in Its First Execution Since 2005

        APRIL 21, 2017




        VARNER, Ark. — The State of Arkansas, dismissing criticism that it intended to rush too many prisoners to their deaths too quickly, on Thursday night carried out its first execution in more than a decade. Using a lethal injection drug that has been the subject of sharp constitutional debate, the state plans to execute three more men by the end of the month, before its supply of the chemical expires.

        Ledell Lee, who was condemned to death for the murder of Debra Reese more than 20 years ago in a Little Rock suburb, died at 11:56 p.m. Central time at the Cummins Unit, a prison in southeast Arkansas, after the reprieves he had won in federal and state courts were overturned. He received injections of three drugs: midazolam, to render him unconscious; vecuronium bromide, to halt his breathing; and potassium chloride, to stop his heart.

        State officials administered the lethal injection at 11:44 p.m., after Mr. Lee, who requested holy communion as his last meal, wordlessly declined to make a final statement. Sean Murphy, a reporter for The Associated Press who witnessed the execution, said Mr. Lee was not visibly uncomfortable as he was put to death. The prisoner, Mr. Murphy said, was not responsive when the authorities performed consciousness checks.

        An evening of appeals kept Mr. Lee, 51, alive as his death warrant neared its midnight expiration. The United States Supreme Court, as well as a federal appeals court in St. Louis, issued temporary stays of execution while they considered his legal arguments. In Little Rock, the Arkansas capital, Gov. Asa Hutchinson monitored developments at the State Capitol.

        At one point on Thursday night, the Supreme Court nearly halted Mr. Lee's execution, but decided, 5 to 4, to allow the state to proceed with its plan, which had called for eight prisoners to be put to death over less than two weeks. The court's majority — which included the newest justice, Neil M. Gorsuch — did not explain its decision, but in a dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer complained about how the state had established its execution schedule because of the approaching expiration date of Arkansas's stock of midazolam.

        "In my view, that factor, when considered as a determining factor separating those who live from those who die, is close to random," Justice Breyer wrote. "I have previously noted the arbitrariness with which executions are carried out in this country. The cases now before us reinforce that point."

        Through his lawyers, who raised concerns about his intellectual capacity and the personal conduct and conflicts of some people who were involved in his trial, Mr. Lee maintained his innocence, and a state judge's ruling threatened to block the state from using one of its execution drugs.

        But the courts ultimately allowed his death sentence to be carried out, making him the first prisoner in Arkansas to be executed since 2005. He had been sentenced to death in 1995 after a jury found that he had murdered Ms. Reese with a tire thumper in Jacksonville. In a 1997 ruling that upheld the conviction, the Arkansas Supreme Court said Mr. Lee had struck Ms. Reese 36 times with the small bat-shaped tool, which her husband had given her for protection.

        The Arkansas Parole Board said this month that Mr. Lee's plea for executive clemency was "without merit," and this week, the courts repeatedly rebuffed arguments to, at the least, delay his execution.

        "Arkansas's decision to rush through the execution of Mr. Lee just because its supply of lethal drugs are expiring at the end of the month denied him the opportunity to conduct DNA testing that could have proven his innocence," Nina Morrison, one of Mr. Lee's lawyers, said in a statement. "While reasonable people can disagree on whether death is an appropriate form of punishment, no one should be executed when there is a possibility that person is innocent."

        As Mr. Lee's lawyers spent Thursday urging the courts to spare his life, the cascade of legal developments did not affect the stay of execution that another inmate, Stacey E. Johnson, received on Wednesday evening, about 24 hours before he was scheduled to be put to death.

        Mr. Johnson has also claimed innocence, and the State Supreme Court's decision will allow for new forensic testing of some evidence. He was convicted of the 1993 rape and murder of Carol Heath, whose two children, according to the state, "were left alone overnight with their mother's lifeless body."

        Some of the most pitched legal clashes surrounding Arkansas's planned executions centered on the state's execution drugs, including midazolam, a common sedative that has been used in executions in the United States since 2013.

        The drug was conceived decades ago as an alternative to Valium, and it grew in popularity to become one of the world's essential drugs, a pharmaceutical staple for procedures like colonoscopies. But as states struggled to obtain drugs for executions, they began to turn to midazolam, which has also been known as Versed, as a way to render prisoners unconscious before infusions of other drugs that cause excruciating suffering.

        Most executions involving midazolam have gone as planned. But a handful — in Alabama, Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma — were criticized as botched, and some opponents argued that the drug had not sedated prisoners enough to allow them to die painless deaths. In 2015, the United States Supreme Court upheld the use of midazolam as an execution drug, but its future has remained a subject of deep dispute that has bounced among the nation's trial and appellate courts.

        Arkansas was merely the latest stage for a debate that has centered on the Eighth Amendment's protections against cruel and unusual punishment. A Federal District Court judge in Little Rock moved on Saturday to block the Arkansas executions because of her concerns about midazolam. That decision was later overturned.

        But the state also faced resistance in the courts because of how it purchased the second of its lethal injection drugs, vecuronium bromide. The nation's largest pharmaceutical distributor, McKesson Corporation, accused the state of deceiving it as part of an end-run around restrictions on the sales of drugs that can be used in lethal injections.

        According to the company, the Arkansas Department of Correction did not disclose its intent for the drug, which the state had struggled to purchase elsewhere. The inadvertent sale, the company said, was improper, and it demanded that Arkansas return the drug.

        Judge Alice Gray of Circuit Court in Little Rock issued an order blocking the state from using the drug, effectively staying the executions. The state, which denied wrongdoing, appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday.

        "No valid legal theory supports McKesson's argument that a person who purchases a product must use that product in a certain way as dictated by the seller after the completion of the transaction, or must return the product on demand by the seller after the completion of the transaction," lawyers for the state wrote in their appeal.

        The State Supreme Court agreed with the attorney general's office on Thursday evening and lifted Judge Gray's order, allowing prison officials to use the drug it bought from McKesson last summer.

        Mr. Lee's execution prompted immediate criticism.

        "Today is a shameful day for Arkansas, which is callously rushing the judicial process by treating human beings as though they have a sell-by date," Amnesty International said in a statement. "While other states have increasingly come to the conclusion that the capital punishment system is beyond repair, Arkansas is running in the opposite direction from progress. This assembly line of executions must stop, and this cruel and inhuman punishment should be ended once and for all."

        But Arkansas officials cast the execution as a milestone.

        "Tonight, the lawful sentence of a jury which has been upheld by the courts through decades of challenges has been carried out," the Arkansas attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, said in a statement. "The family of the late Debra Reese, who was brutally murdered with a tire thumper after being targeted because she was home alone, has waited more than 24 years to see justice done. I pray this lawful execution helps bring closure for the Reese family."

        Speaking at the prison, Mr. Hutchinson's spokesman, J. R. Davis, said, "It's a moment of reflection, but at the end of the night, the right thing was done."



        13)  I.R.S. Enlists Debt Collectors to Recover Overdue Taxes

        "The provision was buried in a $305 billion highway funding bill. The agency hired four companies — CBE Group, ConServe, Performant and Pioneer Credit Recovery — and started giving them cases this month. ...The companies will work on commission, earning up to 25 percent of the delinquent debt they collect."

        APRIL 20, 2017


        The Internal Revenue Service is about to start using four private debt-collection companies to chase down overdue payments from hundreds of thousands of people who owe money to the federal government, a job it has handled in house for years.

        Unlike I.R.S. agents, who are not usually allowed to call delinquent taxpayers by telephone, the outside debt-collection agencies will have free rein to do so. Consumer watchdogs are fearful that some of the nation's most vulnerable taxpayers will be harassed and that criminals will take advantage of the system by phoning people and impersonating I.R.S. collectors.

        Additionally, one of the four companies that the I.R.S. has hired, Pioneer Credit Recovery, a subsidiary of Navient, was effectively firedtwo years ago by the Education Department from its contract to collect delinquent debt for misleading borrowers about their loans at what the department called "unacceptably high rates."

        Proponents of the plan, who include Democrats and Republicans, point out that the debtors are shirking their tax obligations and that collecting from them will add to the Treasury's coffers. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the new debt-collection program had the potential to gain a net $2.4 billion over the next 10 years.

        "Collecting tax debt that's due and not in dispute is a matter of fairness to the many taxpayers who pay what they owe," said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. "It's been clear for a long time that the I.R.S. isn't collecting the debt that these contractors will focus on."

        Twice before, in 1996 and 2006, the I.R.S. has tried to farm out some of its collection duties. Both times, the programs were shut down and deemed failures. The most recent attempt cost millions more than it took in. It also generated thousands of complaints, including one oft-repeated horror story about an older couple who received more than 150 phone calls in less than a month.

        Even so, Congress passed a law in 2015 ordering the I.R.S. to once again outsource some of its delinquent debt. The provision was buried in a $305 billion highway funding bill. The agency hired four companies — CBE Group, ConServe, Performant and Pioneer Credit Recovery — and started giving them cases this month.

        The companies will work on commission, earning up to 25 percent of the delinquent debt they collect.

        The I.R.S. is owed some $138 billion in severely overdue payments on 14 million accounts, according to agency data, and that huge sum drives lawmakers crazy. Enlisting the private sector's expertise to solve the problem is an idea that comes up again and again.

        High-profile lawmakers on both sides of the aisle backed the latest debt-collection plan. In addition to Mr. Grassley, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has been a proponent of using private collectors for years. Three of the four companies that won the latest I.R.S. contracts are based in the two senators' states.

        Mr. Schumer held a news conference in October to announce the 300 new jobs Pioneer planned to add in upstate New York as a result of the I.R.S. contract. The jobs "will help inject new life into the regional economy," he said.

        Proponents of this kind of outsourcing say that the benefits go beyond jobs. During his confirmation hearing, Steven T. Mnuchin, President Trump's Treasury secretary, said that employing for-profit collectors to pursue money owed to the government "seems like a very obvious thing to do."

        But Nina E. Olson, whose job at the Internal Revenue Service is to be an advocate on behalf of taxpayers, strongly disagrees.

        Outsourcing the collection of federal tax debt is "a bad idea," she wrotein a letter to Congress. "It disproportionately impacts low-income and other vulnerable taxpayers, and despite two attempts at making it work, the program has lost money both times, undermining the sole rationale for its existence."

        In years past, Ms. Olson said, the outside collectors employed by the government used psychological tricks that may have coerced some debtors into payments they could not afford.

        According to a study by the I.R.S.'s Taxpayer Advocate Service, which Ms. Olson runs, the last time the agency used outside collectors — from 2006 to 2009 — the companies collected a net amount of around $86 million while pursuing $1.6 billion in debt.

        After the remaining debt was returned to the I.R.S. for renewed collection attempts, agents brought in another $139 million — 62 percent more than their private counterparts.

        With the administrative cost of running the program factored in, the I.R.S. lost $4.4 million, an agency analysis found.

        John A. Koskinen, the commissioner of the I.R.S., said the new program takes a "streamlined" approach, with significantly lower overhead than the last attempt. The plan is to turn 140,000 accounts over to the four companies this year, all with a balance of $50,000 or less.

        "We will do everything we can to make sure this program is effective," Mr. Koskinen said at a congressional hearing this month. "Because if it works, that would be fine. If it doesn't work, I don't want anyone saying, well, we actually sandbagged it some way or the other."

        Both the I.R.S. and the debt collectors say they will be mindful of taxpayers' rights. Pioneer will "comply with debt collection rules and consumer protections," the company said in a statement posted on its website. (The other three collectors did not respond to requests for comment.)

        That has done little to assuage consumer advocates' concerns about the potential for abuse. More than two dozen groups sent a letter to Mr. Koskinen last year urging the agency to adopt additional safeguards, such as excluding debtors whose incomes are less than 250 percent of the poverty level.

        Ms. Olson warned that the program appeared "to place a bull's-eye on the backs of low-income taxpayers."

        The I.R.S. does not try to collect from those who make only enough to afford basic living expenses. Some 1.8 million taxpayers have debts that the agency deems uncollectable because of economic hardship.

        But there are no legal protections to keep those taxpayers out of the private collection program. Ms. Olson's office analyzed 360,000 delinquent accounts that could be turned over for private collection; among those who filed recent tax returns, more than a third had income of less than $20,000.

        "You don't want to be going after folks like that," said Chi Chi Wu, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center. "If you turn the screws on them to the point where they can't afford their rent, that's not good for anyone."

        In February, the I.R.S. put out its annual list of the biggest tax frauds. Phone calls from criminals posing as I.R.S. agents were the top problem. "During filing season, the I.R.S. generally sees a surge in scam phone calls that threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things," the report said.

        At the time, the commissioner, Mr. Koskinen, was quoted in a news release saying: "If you're surprised to get a call from the I.R.S., it almost certainly isn't the real I.R.S. We generally initially contact taxpayers by mail." Now that private companies are authorized to call taxpayers on behalf of the agency, that advice may no longer hold.

        "This is like putting out barrels of honey for scammers," said David C. Vladeck, a professor at Georgetown Law School and the former director of the Federal Trade Commission's consumer protection bureau.

        He also is among the people alarmed by the agency's selection of Pioneer, a unit of Navient, a debt-collection giant that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued in January. The bureau accused Navient of failing at nearly every stage of the student loan collection process.

        "What is the I.R.S. thinking?" Mr. Vladeck said. "There's a very dark cloud hanging over Pioneer. The idea that the I.R.S. would engage it nonetheless to be its agent in debt collection is just stunning."

        The I.R.S. declined to comment on its selection of Pioneer, which along with CBE was one of the three outside companies the agency used in 2006.

        The consumer agency's lawsuit asserts that Pioneer misled troubled borrowers about the benefits of resuming payments on lapsed accounts. Navient is fighting the lawsuit and has denied any wrongdoing.

        The I.R.S. says that delinquent taxpayers whose accounts are turned over to the private collection agencies will have already received many letters by mail from the agency, urging them to pay and warning them that the debt would be turned over to a third party for collection.



        14)  Immigration Inquiry Draws Protest at Tom Cat Bakery

        APRIL 21, 2017





        The protest over a Department of Homeland Security investigation that began in December and threatened the jobs of several immigrant workers at Tom Cat Bakery in Long Island City, Queens, was meant to begin at 6 a.m. on Friday.

        But at 3 a.m., a few protesters arrived at the factory and chained themselves to the bakery's trucks, disrupting morning deliveries. Four people were arrested, the police said.

        By 7, more than 100 people had gathered in the rain, carrying signs that read "No Human Is Illegal" and "Rise and Resist." Members of a marching band, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, played as a group of 100 people marched back and forth along 10th Street, chanting in both Spanish and English.

        Others in the food business around New York joined in the demonstrators' call for "A Day Without Bread." Eli and Max Sussman, brothers who run the Brooklyn restaurant Samesa, posted signs drawing attention to the protest, and to the rights of immigrant workers. On Friday, they donated 50 cents from the sale of every item that includes pita bread to a fund set up for workers. And at the register, they collected additional money.

        Yemeni bodega owners in Bay Ridge and other parts of southern Brooklyn put up posters in solidarity and in some cases refused to sell any bread on Friday. Many of the bodega owners who shut their stores in February, to protest President Trump's travel ban, feel that the most vulnerable and weakest are being targeted, said Rabyaah Althaibani, a Yemeni-American activist.

        Tom Cat Bakery, which employs about 180 workers in Long Island City, opened in 1987 and was acquired last July by Yamazaki Baking Company, one of Japan's largest bread producers; it supplies breads to many New York restaurants and stores.

        Last month, the company advised workers that it was being investigated by federal immigration officials.

        Henry Rivera, an employee for 11 years, said he and 30 other workers were each called into a private meeting with a manager and told that they could lose their jobs if they didn't produce paperwork by this Friday showing they could work legally in the United States.

        "A lot went through my head," said Mr. Rivera, 29, a father of two and an immigrant from Honduras, who spoke in Spanish. "Like, how will I pay my rent, and my bills."

        Brandworkers, a nonprofit group that is an advocate for food-manufacturing workers, began organizing protests with Tom Cat employees.

        Rachael Yong Yow, a spokeswoman for the New York field office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency of the Homeland Security Department, would neither confirm nor deny that federal officials were investigating the bakery. The agency can fine any employer that knowingly hires unauthorized workers up to $21,916 per employee.

        William Wachtel, a spokesman for Tom Cat, said in a phone interview on Friday that the company first learned it was undergoing a routine audit in December, and later sought to help and retain all its employees, advising 31 people with inadequate documentation to seek immigration counsel, and offering to assist with payments for lawyers. At least nine employees were able to produce the necessary paperwork, Mr. Wachtel said, and will remain with the company.

        Keith Bleier, Tom Cat's chief executive, said in a statement that the past few weeks had been a challenge for the bakery, and he praised his work force. "As you may know, your union, Local 53, stepped in and worked with us to ensure that the terms under which the affected employees are being released are consistent with the high value Tom Cat places on its family of workers," he wrote.

        In an interview outside the factory, Oscar Ramirez, who worked at Tom Cat for 12 years, and is losing his job, said he did not feel scared or intimidated. "We've all done the best we can all these years," he said, "and we demand justice and respect."

        Despite the protest, by 7:30, the unmistakable smell of baking bread was in the air on 10th Street. "Work is getting done today, just at a really slow pace," said Jay Rosario, 26, a Tom Cat employee who stepped out for a smoking break.

        Mr. Rosario was born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn, the son of Puerto Rican and Dominican parents. He started working the transfer belt at Tom Cat about three months ago, managing dough production.

        "They trained me," he said of his protesting colleagues. "I have this job because of them. But also, isn't 20 years long enough to get all your papers?"

        Mr. Rosario was not sure how his co-workers might obtain the proper papers, and wondered why a manager had not sat everyone down and explained what was going on.

        "Either way, it's unfair," he said.



        15)  Scientists, Feeling Under Siege, March Against Trump Policies

        APRIL 22, 2017




        WASHINGTON — Thousands of scientists and their supporters, feeling increasingly threatened by the policies of President Trump, gathered Saturday in Washington under rainy skies for what they called the March for Science, abandoning a tradition of keeping the sciences out of politics and calling on the public to stand up for scientific enterprise.

        As the marchers trekked shoulder-to-shoulder toward the Capitol, the street echoed with their calls: "Save the E.P.A." and "Save the N.I.H." as well as their chants celebrating science, "Who run the world? Nerds," and "If you like beer, thank yeast and scientists!" Some carried signs that showed rising oceans and polar bears in peril and faces of famous scientists like Mae Jamison, Rosalind Franklin and Marie Curie, and others touted a checklist of the diseases Americans no longer get thanks to vaccines.

        Although drizzle may have washed away the words on some signs, they aimed to deliver the message that science needs the public's support.

        "Science is a very human thing," said Ashlea Morgan, a doctoral student in neurobiology at Columbia University. "The march is allowing the public to know that this is what science is, and it's letting our legislators know that science is vitally important."

        The demonstration in Washington — which started with teach-ins and a rally that packed the National Mall — was echoed by protests in hundreds of cities across the United States and around the world, including marches in Europe and Asia.

        The March for Science evolved from a social media campaign into an effort to get people onto the streets.

        Its organizers were motivated by Mr. Trump, who as a presidential candidate disparaged climate change as a hoax and cast suspicions on the safety of vaccines.

        Their resolve deepened, they said, when the president appointed cabinet members who seemed hostile to the sciences. He also proposed a budget with severe cuts for agencies like the National Institutes of Health — which would lose 18 percent of their funding in his blueprint — and the Environmental Protection Agency, which faces a 31 percent budget cut and the elimination of a quarter of the agency's 15,000 employees.

        While traveling by motorcade to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday, Mr. Trump passed dozens of demonstrators from the march holding signs, including one that said, "Stop denying the earth is dying," according to a pool report. Later, the White House released a statement from Mr. Trump for Earth Day that did not mention the March for Science by name, but appeared directed at its participants. Calling science critical to economic growth and environmental protection, he said, "My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks."

        "As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate," he added.

        Organizers said they hoped the day's demonstrations result in sustained, coordinated action aimed at persuading elected officials to adopt policies consistent with the scientific consensus on climate change, vaccines and other issues.

        "This has been a living laboratory as scientists and science institutions are willing to take a step outside their comfort zone, outside of the labs and into the public spheres," said Beka Economopoulos, a founder of the pop-up Natural History Museum and an organizer of the march.

        Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician who helped expose lead poisoningin Flint, Mich., and who spoke in Washington, called the protest the beginning of a movement to ensure that governments do not dismiss or deny science.

        "If we want to prevent future Flints, we need to embrace what we've learned and how far we've come in terms of science and technology," Dr. Hanna-Attisha said in an interview.

        What began as a movement by scientists for scientists has drawn in many science enthusiasts, young and old.

        William Harrison, 9, from Washington, held up a waterlogged cardboard sign he drew with markers of a shark pleading with humanity to save him from global warming. He said science is important because without it, "we basically will not exist."

        On the West Coast, Penelope DeVries, 69, carried a sign at the march in San Francisco that said, "Love your mother," with a blue and green Earth, the paint still wet from when she made it on her kitchen floor.

        "I have three grandchildren, and I want them to have a beautiful life like I have," she said.

        She was one of thousands of upbeat demonstrators who marched through the city's downtown under mild weather.

        A volunteer at that march, Bryan Dunyak, 28, was motivated to help improve science outreach and improve public understanding of science.

        "The vast majority of people will never have the chance to ask a scientist, 'Why do you do what you do?'" said Dr. Dunyak, who is a postdoctoral researcher in neurodegenerative disease at the University of California, San Francisco.

        Fearing that Mr. Trump may undermine public support for the sciences, many scientists at the marches said they believed now was the appropriate moment to express themselves politically.

        "I can't think of a time where scientists felt the enterprise of science was being threatened in the way scientists feel now," Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of science at Harvard University, said in an interview this week.

        Dr. Oreskes said the closest parallel to Saturday's protests were the demonstrations for nuclear disarmament in the 1950s and '60s. But scientists were then marching against the use of science to build weapons of mass destruction.

        Thousands converged on the Boston Common in a cold rain, and children danced to a brass band. Students from Harvard and M.I.T. marched over the bridge from Cambridge, and a contingent from Boston University chanted, "What do we want? Science! When do we want it? After peer review!"

        In a city and state where many work in hospitals and biomedical firms, Mr. Trump's proposals to cut the National Institutes of Health's budget were on the minds of many marchers there.

        Dr. George Q. Daley, the dean of Harvard Medical School, said in a speech that the proposed cuts would have a "cataclysmic effect" on the economy in Massachusetts.

        "This is a shortsighted decision that will set the biomedical enterprise on a path toward devastation," Dr. Daley said.

        Julian Arthur, a product scientist who works on antibody production, agreed.

        "I feel that science funding should not be up to the whims of a frugal government," he said.

        In New York, demonstrators stretched for 10 blocks along Central Park West, wedged between the park and a line of buildings on a gray and dreary day.

        Underlining the connection in the minds of many marchers between the science march, Earth Day and global warming, one participant, Christine Negra, 49, a chemist who works as a consultant on climate change issues, said she would attend next week's People's Climate March, too.

        "In the U.S., we're lagging in our recognition about how important climate change is," she said. "These public events are meant to shake people out of their daily lives so that people see how urgent the problem really is."

        Many messages at the New York rally took on a political hue. One demonstrator carried a sign with a diagram. "Before you dismiss science, Mr. President," it said, "here is the molecular formula for hair spray." Another said, "Fund science, not walls." And along the marching route, some were heard chanting, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go," as they passed the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle.

        For many marchers, especially those in the sciences who were demonstrating for the first time, political settings can be a source of discomfort. And critics of the march who are in the sciences expressed concern that such displays could be damaging.

        "I worry the march would drive the wedge deeper," said Robert S. Young, a coastal geologist at Western Carolina University who wrote a New York Times Op-Ed article in January expressing misgivings about the march.

        Although Dr. Young planned to support friends at a satellite demonstration, he said it would be easy for conservatives to say the march was really about supporting liberal policies.

        "Going to a march is easy," he said. "Spending the next couple of years reinventing how we communicate with red-state America, that's hard."

        In energy-rich Oklahoma, the home state of Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. chief who repeatedly sued the agency when he was the state's attorney general, a crowd estimated at more than 2,000 by law enforcement officials chanted "science is real."

        The demonstrators gathered on a stone plaza before the State Capitol, which is fenced and scaffolded for renovation. They marched on a route that took them around a park that includes two restored oil derricks that once pumped oil from a source beneath the Capitol.

        Many at the Oklahoma City march seemed motivated by local issues. Lisa Pitts, a teacher, said she was marching because of concerns about the state's education budget and to support science education.

        "We are not a poor state," she said. "We should not be 50th in everything."

        But concerns about the country's direction under Mr. Trump were present there, too.

        "I don't want to go back to having dirty air and water," said Rene Roy, who formerly worked for the state's environmental regulator and was concerned about Mr. Pruitt's plans for the E.P.A.

        Back in Washington, Denis Hayes, who was the principal organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970, said concerns like Mr. Roy's were an important source of motivation for the science march, which was coordinated with the Earth Day Network.

        "You have a clear enemy," he said. "You've got a president who along with his vice president, his cabinet and his party leadership in both houses of Congress have a strong anti-environmental agenda. He's basically trying to roll back everything that we've tried to do in the last half-century."



        16)  In Jail, Pads and Tampons as Bargaining Chips

        APRIL 20, 2017





        When Tara Oldfield-Parker, 24, was arrested on charges of shoplifting, she had just gotten her period. She asked the officers in charge of her holding cell in a police station in Queens for a sanitary pad.

        Sure, they said. But they would need to call an ambulance to get one.

        After about an hour and a half, they produced a sterile gauze pad, apparently obtained from an ambulance. It was the kind of rectangular gauze used to bandage an arm, with no adhesive.

        It might seem strange that a place where female suspects are held would not have something as basic as a sanitary pad. Ms. Oldfield-Parker's story reflects the way menstruation can be treated in New York's jails: as an inconvenience, almost a surprise, to be met, at times, with an improvised response. Simple supplies like pads and tampons can become bargaining chips, used to maintain control by correction officers, or traded among incarcerated women, according to former inmates and advocates on the issue.

        Each level of incarceration in New York has a different policy (or no policy) related to menstruation. Ms. Oldfield-Parker's cell had no supplies. But in the state's prisons and jails, these women and advocates say, inconsistent access to tampons and pads has less to do with stock and more to do with power. The facilities have enough supplies, but they are not available equally to all the women who need them.

        At the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island, where about 600 women usually are imprisoned, pads and tampons are distributed weekly. It's up to officers to determine how the pads reach the women: Some leave them out in a bucket or box; others hand them out to individual women who ask.

        "Some women have reported no issues at all; they ask and get what they need," said Kelsey De Avila, a jail services social worker with Brooklyn Defender Services who spends about three days a week on Rikers. "Others have to beg for it."

        Since the distribution is left up to individual officers, there is an easy opportunity for mishandling.

        BettyAnn Whaley, 56, who was released from Rikers last June and now lives in the North Bronx, said pads were accessible "seven out of 10 times," though they were a flimsy version of what you might buy at a store. Tampons were harder to get.

        "They were only given to certain housing units," Ms. Whaley said in an interview after her release. And even then, she added, "they were only dispensed to certain individuals — you had to be sort of chummy-chummy in order to receive them."

        Others agreed that it isn't an issue of supply. Chandra Bozelko, a writer and advocate who was incarcerated at a state prison in Connecticut, said menstrual supplies were indeed used as tools of control. Officers sometimes tried to teach women a lesson by limiting access, affecting self-esteem as well as basic hygiene.

        "It turns you on yourself," Ms. Bozelko said. "You start to hate your body."

        In both state and city facilities in New York, women recalled humiliating experiences related to getting what they needed.

        Christine, 24, who requested that her surname not be used because she is incarcerated upstate, said she would never forget what happened to her at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum-security women's prison in Westchester County that serves as a reception center for newcomers. She was going to be transferred to another prison, so her father came to visit her. She had her period and had not been given any pads. After the visit, she was strip-searched as blood ran down her legs. The female correction officer was cruel, she said.

        "She was telling me how disgusting I was, 'It's disgusting,'" she recalled. "I was so embarrassed."

        When asked about the episode, a spokesman for the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which oversees New York's state prisons, wrote that the agency was "continuously reviewing its policies to best meet female inmates' personal hygiene needs." The spokesman added that under departmental policy, "female inmates are provided sanitary napkins on an as-needed basis."

        Ms. Whaley recalled an episode at Rikers when a correction officer threw a bag of tampons into the air and watched as inmates dived to the ground to retrieve them, because they didn't know when they would next be able to get tampons.

        The city's Correction Department, which manages Rikers, looked into the matter after being questioned about it, but said there was no way for it to confirm that it had occurred. The department said that with an average of 500 grievances filed a year at the Singer Center, none in the past three years had been related to menstrual hygiene.

        Lacking menstrual supplies can also disrupt an incarcerated woman's rehabilitation. Andrea Nieves, a Brooklyn public defender, testified last year before a New York City Council committee looking into the availability of feminine hygiene products in jails that a client at Rikers asked her social worker not to visit while the client was menstruating, afraid that she would bleed through her uniform and be ashamed.

        Name-brand tampons are available at the jail commissary for about $4 a box, though some women can't afford them. At Rikers, women said tampons were valuable enough that they could be traded for a bag of chips or a pack of coffee.

        This sense of scarcity was echoed at other facilities: Frances McMurry, who had been incarcerated at Taconic Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison in Bedford Hills, N.Y., through last September, said sanitary products were "a higher currency than sugar, coffee and cigarettes."

        Last June, the Council passed a law requiring city jails to provide free feminine hygiene products to inmates. It's not clear that the law made a difference. It does not include an enforcement mechanism and does not apply to state prisons, where a 2015 report by the nonprofit Correctional Association of New York found that more than half of survey respondents (514 of 957) said the monthly supply of menstrual pads did not meet their needs.

        Ms. Bozelko, who is an adviser for a book about the politics of periods, mentioned two ways in which prisons and jails could improve. First, require officers to put the pads or tampons in a public place, as some already do at Rikers, so that women do not need to ask for them. Some may be wasted, but Ms. Bozelko said that was the price of making sure women have what they need. And, second, individual officers need to be held accountable if they do not supply the products.

        Ms. Bozelko said she was often asked about a scene from the Netflix series "Orange Is the New Black," in which the protagonist wears shower shoes made out of sanitary napkins. Though she recalled that some incarcerated women used pads for other purposes, Ms. Bozelko said she could not understand it.

        "I'd rather get foot fungus than waste those things," she said. "I had to go to war for each one of them."
















































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