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



John T. Kaye invited you to Moms Clean Air Force's event

People's Climate March

Saturday, April 29 at 9 AM EDT

Washington, District of Columbia in Washington, District of Columbia





Not Interested

Join us April 29th in Washington, DC to let Trump know that we won't let him destroy the environment on our watch. There is no denying it: Donald Trump's election is a threat to the future of our pla...

John T. Kaye and Dave Schubert are going.






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

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

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

Will you stand for peace?

A petition to the organizers of the
April 29 People's Climate March

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your contribution will be greatly appreciated. 

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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



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

         APRIL 1, 2017




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



        2)  Closing Rikers Island Is a Moral Imperative

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

         MARCH 31, 201





        The time has come to close Rikers Island.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

         MARCH 31, 2017




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

         APRIL 1, 2017




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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



        5)  What Was Lenin Thinking?

        LONDON — What was Vladimir Lenin thinking on the long journey to Petrograd's Finland Station in 1917?

        Like everyone else, he had been taken by surprise at the speed with which the February Revolution had succeeded. As he traveled from Zurich across Europe to Russia, on board a sealed train courtesy of Germany's kaiser, he must have reflected that this was an opportunity not to be missed.

        That the weak liberal parties dominated the new government was to be expected. What worried him were the reports he was receiving that his own Bolsheviks were vacillating over the way forward. Theory had bound them, together with most of the left, to the Marxist orthodoxy that, at this stage, the revolution in Russia could be only bourgeois-democratic. Socialism was possible only in advanced economies like Germany, France or even the United States, but not in peasant Russia. (Leon Trotsky and his band of intellectuals were among the few dissenters from that view.)

        Since the course of the revolution was thus preordained, all that socialists could do was offer support to the provisional government as it carried through the revolution's first phase and developed a full-fledged capitalist society. Once this was completed, then they could agitate for a more radical revolution.

        This combination of dogmatism and passivity infuriated Lenin. The February upheaval had forced him to rethink old dogmas. To move forward, he now believed, there had to be a socialist revolution. No other solution was possible. The czarist state had to be destroyed, root and branch. So he said as he stepped off the train in Petrograd: No compromise was possible with a government that continued to prosecute the war or with the parties that supported such a government.

        The Bolshevik slogan that embodied his tactical thinking was "peace, land and bread." As for the revolution, he now argued that the international capitalist chain would break at its weakest link. Winning over the Russian workers and peasants to create a new socialist state would pave the way for an insurrection in Germany and elsewhere. Without this, he argued, it would be difficult to build any meaningful form of socialism in Russia.

        He detailed this new approach in his "April Theses," but had to fight hard to persuade the Bolshevik party. Denounced by some for turning his back on accepted Marxist doctrine, Lenin would quote Mephistopheles from Goethe's "Faust": "Theory, my friend, is gray, but green is the eternal tree of life." An early supporter was the feminist Alexandra Kollontai. She, too, rejected compromise because, she believed, none was possible.

        From February to October, arguably the most open period in Russian history, Lenin won over his party, joined forces with Trotsky and prepared for a new revolution. The provisional government of Alexander Kerensky refused to withdraw from the war. Bolshevik agitators among the troops at the front assailed his vacillations. Large-scale mutinies and desertions followed.

        Within the workers' and soldiers' councils, or soviets, Lenin's strategy began to make sense to large numbers of workers. The Bolsheviks won majorities in the Petrograd and Moscow soviets, and the party was developing rapidly elsewhere. This merger between Lenin's political ideas and a growing class consciousness among workers produced the formula for October.

        Far from being a conspiracy, let alone a coup, the October Revolution was perhaps the most publicly planned uprising in history. Two of Lenin's oldest comrades on the party's central committee remained opposed to an immediate revolution and published the date of the event. While its final details were obviously not advertised beforehand, the takeover was swift and involved minimal violence.

        That all changed with the ensuing civil war, in which the nascent Soviet state's enemies were backed by the czar's former Western allies. Amid the resulting chaos and millions of casualties, the Bolsheviks finally prevailed — but at a terrible political and moral cost, including the virtual extinction of the working class that had originally made the revolution.

        The choice that followed the revolution of October 1917 was thus not between Lenin and liberal democracy. The real choice was to be determined instead by a brutal struggle for power between the Red and White armies, the latter led by czarist generals who made no secret that if they won, both Bolsheviks and Jews would be exterminated. Pogroms carried out by the Whites saw entire Jewish villages wiped out. A majority of Russian Jews fought back, either as members of the Red Army or in their own partisan units. Nor should we forget that a few decades later, it was the Red Army — originally forged in the civil war by Trotsky, Mikhail Tukhachevsky and Mikhail Frunze (the former two killed later by Stalin) — that broke the military might of the Third Reich in the epic battles of Kursk and Stalingrad. By then, Lenin had been dead for almost two decades.

        Weakened by a stroke for the last two years before he died in 1924, Lenin had time to reflect on the achievements of the October Revolution. He was not happy. He saw how the czarist state and its practices, far from being destroyed, had infected Bolshevism. Great-Russian chauvinism was rampant and had to be rooted out, he realized. The level of party culture was lamentable after the human losses of the civil war.

        "Our state apparatus is so deplorable, not to say wretched," he wrote in Pravda. "The most harmful thing would be to rely on the assumption that we know at least something."

        "No," he concluded, "we are ridiculously deficient." The Revolution had to admit its mistakes and renew itself, he believed; otherwise, it would fail. Yet this lesson went unheeded after his death. His writings were largely ignored or deliberately distorted. No subsequent Soviet leader emerged with Lenin's vision.

        "His mind was a remarkable instrument," wrote Winston Churchill, no admirer of Bolshevism. "When its light shone it revealed the whole world, its history, its sorrows, its stupidities, its shams, and above all, its wrongs."

        Of his successors, neither of the notable reformers — Nikita Khrushchev in the 1950s and '60s and Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s — had the capacity to transform the country. The implosion of the Soviet Union owed almost as much to its degraded political culture — and, at times, the ridiculous deficiency of the bureaucratic elite — as it did to the economic stagnation and resource dependency that set in from the 1970s. Obsessed with mimicking the technological advances of the United States, its leaders cut the ground out from beneath their feet. In the revolution's final, sorry chapter, not a few of its bureaucrats rediscovered themselves as millionaires and oligarchs — something Trotsky had predicted from exile in 1936.

        "Politics is a concentrated expression of economics," Lenin once remarked. As capitalism stumbles, its politicians and their oligarchical backers are finding voters deserting their parties in droves. The shift to the right in Western politics is a revolt against the neoliberal coalitions that have governed since the Soviet Union collapsed. Today, however, the politicians cannot blame socialism as they once did — for it does not exist.

        In the national-conservative Russia of its president, Vladimir V. Putin, there are no celebrations this year of either the February Revolution or the October one. "They are not on our calendar," he told an Indian journalist of my acquaintance last year.

        "After their death," Lenin wrote of revolutionaries, "attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the 'consolation' of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter." After his death, against the cries of his widow and sisters, Lenin was mummified, put on public display and treated like a Byzantine saint. He had predicted his own fate.



        6)  At Least 9 Civilians Killed as Coalition Strikes Taliban Arsenal, Officials Say

         APRIL 2, 2017




        KABUL, Afghanistan — Officials in Afghanistan said on Sunday they were investigating claims that at least nine civilians, including six children, had been killed when Afghan and coalition forces blew up a Taliban weapons depot in southern Helmand Province.

        Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand, said troops on a joint military operation in the Malgir area of Gereshk district, just outside the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, had found the cache of munitions late on Saturday.

        "They set up explosives to detonate the cache, and it damaged the house where the civilians were staying," Mr. Zwak said.

        Capt. Bill Salvin, a spokesman for the coalition in Afghanistan, said on Sunday: "We have seen the reports of civilian casualties in southern Helmand last night. We take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and we will convene an inquiry into this allegation."

        Gen. Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, said investigators had been sent to Helmand to investigate the claims.

        The owner of the house that collapsed, Haji Mohammed Sadiq, said it was being used by a family that had been taking care of his farm for him since he moved to Lashkar Gah, to escape the fighting. The concrete building next door housed a clinic before the Taliban moved in, Mr. Sadiq said.

        "Last night, Afghan forces, along with foreign forces, raided the clinic around 11:30 p.m., and arrested some 40 to 50 villagers, and took them to the desert, and only left women and children in the houses," he said. "They put explosives over the clinic and detonated it, and the mud house next to the clinic collapsed."

        Mr. Sadiq said that he rushed to the scene in the morning, but that the police had not initially let any civilians near the collapsed house. When they were finally allowed to do so, he said, they pulled nine bodies from the debris, including two older adults, their daughter-in-law and six grandchildren. One child was unaccounted for, Mr. Sadiq said.

        Of the family, he said, "the only person who survived is the son who had gone to Herat Province for work."

        Civilians have continued to bear the brunt of much of the violence from both sides amid the intensifying conflict in Helmand, with many repeatedly displaced by the fighting. According to local residents, in February, American bombings in the Sangin district killed at least 22 civilians. The NATO mission to Afghanistan said it was investigating the deaths.

        The war is expected to escalate further this spring as the portion of Helmand controlled by the Afghan government continues to shrink. According to provincial leaders, the Taliban now hold seven of the 14 districts that make up the province, the country's largest in land area. The Afghan government fully controls only two districts and the provincial capital; the remaining five are contested, with the government generally controlling only the district centers.



        7)  Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Poet Who Stirred a Generation of Soviets, Dies at 83

         APRIL 1, 2017




        Yevgeny Yevtushenko, an internationally acclaimed poet with the charisma of an actor and the instincts of a politician whose defiant verse inspired a generation of young Russians in their fight against Stalinism during the Cold War, died on Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., where he had been teaching for many years. He was 83.

        His death, in a hospital, was confirmed by a close friend, Mikhail Morgulis, with the TASS news agency. It said he had been admitted late Friday in "serious condition," but the cause of death was not specified. His wife, Maria Novikova, and their two sons, Dmitry and Yevgeny, were reportedly with him when he died.

        Mr. Yevtushenko's poems of protest, often declaimed with sweeping gestures to thousands of excited admirers in public squares, sports stadiums and lecture halls, captured the tangled emotions of Russia's young — hope, fear, anger and euphoric anticipation — as the country struggled to free itself from repression during the tense, confused years after Joseph Stalin's death in 1953. In 1961 alone Mr. Yevtushenko gave 250 poetry readings.

        He became, as one writer described him, "a graying lion of Russian letters" in his later years, teaching and lecturing at American universities, including the University of Tulsa, and basking in the admiration of succeeding generations before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

        But it was as a tall, athletic young Siberian with a spirit both hauntingly poetic and fiercely political that he established his name in 20th-century literature. He was the best known of a small group of rebel poets and writers who brought hope to a young generation with poetry that took on totalitarian leaders, ideological zealots and timid bureaucrats. Among the others were Andrei Voznesensky, Robert Rozhdestvensky and Bella Akhmadulina, Mr. Yevtushenko's first wife.

        Mr. Yevtushenko did so working mostly within the system, however, taking care not to join the ranks of outright literary dissidents. By stopping short of the line between defiance and resistance, he enjoyed a measure of official approval that more daring dissidents came to resent.

        While they were subjected to exile or labor camps, Mr. Yevtushenko was given state awards, his books were regularly published, and he was allowed to travel abroad, becoming an international literary superstar.

        Some critics had doubts about his sincerity as a foe of tyranny. Some called him a sellout. A few enemies even suggested that he was merely posing as a protester to serve the security police or the Communist authorities. The exiled poet Joseph Brodsky once said of Mr. Yevtushenko, "He throws stones only in directions that are officially sanctioned and approved."

        Mr. Yevtushenko's defenders bristled at such attacks, pointing out how much he did to oppose the Stalin legacy, his animus fueled by the knowledge that both of his grandfathers had perished in Stalin's purges of the 1930s. He was expelled from his university in 1956 for joining the defense of a banned novel, Vladimir Dudintsev's "Not by Bread Alone." He refused to join in the official campaign against Boris Pasternak, the author of "Doctor Zhivago" and the recipient of the 1958 Nobel Prize in Literature. Mr. Yevtushenko denounced the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968; interceded with the K.G.B. chief, Yuri V. Andropov, on behalf of another Nobel laureate, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; and opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

        Mr. Yevtushenko wrote thousands of poems, including some shallow ones that he dashed off, he admitted, just to mark an occasion. Some critics questioned the literary quality of his work. Some writers resented his flamboyance, sartorial and otherwise, and his success. But his foes as well as his friends agreed that a select few of his poems have entered the annals of Russian literature as masterpieces of insight and conscience.

        Written and read to crowds at critical moments, Yevtushenko poems like "Stalin's Heirs" caught the spirit of a nation at a crossroads. In Russia, writers could be more influential at times than politicians. But they could also be severely rebuffed if they offended, as Pasternak did with his novel "Doctor Zhivago," and as Solzhenitsyn did with "The Gulag Archipelago" and other works.

        Combating Anti-Semitism

        Anti-Semitism lingered in the Kremlin after Stalin's death. In one instance, nervous officials thwarted efforts to raise a monument at Babi Yar, a ravine near Kiev, Ukraine, where thousands of Jews were machine-gunned and buried in a mass grave in 1941 by the invading Germans.

        The reason the Kremlin said it resisted a memorial was that the Germans had shot other people there, too, not only Jews. Mr. Yevtushenko tackled the issue in 1961 in blunt verse that stunned many Russians and earned him acclaim around the world. The poem "Babi Yar," composed after a haunting visit to the ravine, included these lines:

        There are no monuments over Babi Yar.

        But the sheer cliff is like a rough tombstone.

        It horrifies me.

        Today, I am as old

        As the Jewish people.

        It seems to me now,

        That I, too, am a Jew.

        Alluding to the pogroms that erupted at intervals over the centuries, Mr. Yevtushenko went on:

        It seems to me,

        I am a boy in Byelostok.

        Blood is flowing,

        Spreading across the floors.

        The leaders of the tavern mob are raging

        And they stink of vodka and onions.

        Kicked aside by a boot, I lie helpless.

        In vain I plead with the brutes

        As voices roar:

        "Kill the Jews! Save Russia!"

        In a country ruled by Marxist myth, ostensibly free of bigotry, "Babi Yar" touched nerves in the leadership, and it was amended to meet official objections. Even so, it moved audiences. Whenever Mr. Yevtushenko recited the poem at public rallies, it was met with stunned silence and then thunderous ovations. He wrote once that he had received 20,000 letters hailing "Babi Yar." Dmitri Shostakovich composed his Thirteenth Symphony on lines from that and other Yevtushenko poems.

        But Mr. Yevtushenko was not allowed to give a public reading of the poem in Ukraine until the 1980s.

        "Stalin's Heirs," published in 1962, also stirred Russians, appearing at a time when they feared that Stalinist-style repression might return to the country. It was published only after Nikita S. Khrushchev, the semi-liberal party leader who was then involved in a power struggle with conservatives, intervened as he pushed his cultural "thaw." Stalin had been condemned anew the year before as having been a mad tyrant. The poem appeared in Pravda, the Communist Party's official newspaper, and caused a sensation.

        "Stalin's Heirs" opens with a description of Stalin's body being borne in his coffin out of the Red Square mausoleum to a grave near the Kremlin wall.

        Sullenly clenching

        His embalmed fists,

        He peered through a crack,

        Just pretending to be dead.

        He wanted to remember all those

        Who carried him out.

        Mr. Yevtushenko went on:

        I turn to our government with a plea:

        To double,

        And triple the guard at the grave site

        So Stalin does not rise again,

        And with Stalin, the past.

        And later, the main point of the poem:

        We removed


        From the mausoleum.

        But how do we remove Stalin

        From Stalin's heirs?

        By the time democratic changes brought down Soviet Communist rule early in the 1990s, Mr. Yevtushenko had risen in the reform system to become a member of Parliament and secretary of the official Union of Soviet Writers. Along the way he received high honors, was published in the best periodicals and was sent abroad as an envoy of good will. He also endured abuse, jealousy, frustration and censorship. He once joked that Moscow censors were his best readers, the most expert at catching his meanings and nuances.

        Evolution of an Artist

        Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Gangnus was born on July 18, 1933, in Zima Junction, a remote lumber station on the trans-Siberian Railway in the Irkutsk region of Siberia, near Lake Baikal. His father, Aleksandr Rudolfovich Gangnus, was a geologist, as was his mother, Zinaida Ermolaevna Evtushenko, who became a singer. His parents divorced, and the boy took his mother's surname. Yevgeny spent his early childhood with his mother in Moscow. When German troops approached the city in late 1941, the family was evacuated to Zima and stayed there until 1944.

        Yevgeny's father would sometimes take the boy on geology expeditions to wild regions of Kazakhstan and the Altai Mountains and, along the way, recite poetry to him. Yevgeny learned to love nature and literature.

        He was also drawn to sports. At 16 he was selected to join a professional soccer team. But sudden literary success compelled him to abandon that ambition. Soon his poems began appearing in newspapers, popular magazines and literary monthlies. The authorities praised his early poems, which he later called "hack work," and he was admitted to the elite Gorky Literary Institute and to the Soviet Writers' Union.

        But after Stalin's death — Mr. Yevtushenko was almost crushed to death in a funeral stampede in Moscow — his work began to run counter to Soviet Realism, the officially sanctioned artistic style; it reflected instead new thinking about individual responsibility and the state.

        Themes of state repression and fear had recurred in his poetry over the years, but he also began introducing personal matters into it, as he did in his long poem "Zima Junction," about a return to his hometown in 1953. Published in 1956, it was followed by more volumes of poetry that refused to conform to the approved modes of expression. After he praised "Not by Bread Alone," Dudintsev's caustic 1956 novel about Soviet life, Mr. Yevtushenko was expelled from the Literary Institute.

        But as the 1950s grew to a close, he had published seven volumes of poetry and was allowed to read his work abroad. In the next few years he became familiar to literary circles in Eastern and Western Europe, the United States, Cuba, East Africa and Australia. Indeed, a virtual cult began to develop around him after Time magazine put his portrait, as an "angry young man," on its cover in April 1962 and printed a laudatory article about him as a leading spirit in a changing, liberalizing Russia.

        For his part, Mr. Yevtushenko stressed that American writers had been important in his literary development.

        Later that year, he exchanged words with Khrushchev at a Moscow exhibit of contemporary art. Khrushchev, who had simple tastes and was facing serious political challenges, flew into a rage against abstractionism and made threats of coercion. A neo-Stalinist crackdown on modern art, literature and music was felt soon after the confrontation.

        Mr. Yevtushenko kept a loyal following, writing about nearly everything of importance at home and abroad. He paid tribute to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after they were assassinated. He honored Allison Krause, one of the students shot to death at Kent State University during a Vietnam War protest. He chided John Steinbeck for not protesting the war in Vietnam. In the poem "Russian Tanks in Prague," he criticized the Soviet-bloc invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. (It was circulated only hand to hand, going unpublished until 1990.)

        In the mid-1980s, Mr. Yevtushenko championed the glasnost campaign of "openness" waged by the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. In a speech to the Writers' Union, Mr. Yevtushenko assailed privilege, censorship and the distortion of history. He was a member of the first freely elected Supreme Soviet, the country's standing Parliament.

        He went on to publicly defy the hard-line conservative plotters of an attempt to seize power in 1991. The coup attempt, which temporarily deposed Mr. Gorbachev, sent a shock wave across Russia and around the world. Mr. Yevtushenko was later given a medal as a "Defender of Free Russia." The upheaval became the backdrop for "Don't Die Before You're Dead," one of two novels he wrote.

        Pain and Joy

        Mr. Yevtushenko did not write only about political and social issues. He composed verses on love, nature, art, travel and the various pains and joys of life. In 1956, for example, while married to Bella Akhmadulina, he wrote "My Beloved Will Come":

        My beloved will come

        And wrap me in her arms.

        She will notice the changes

        And understand my fears.

        Through the black downpour, from night's gloom,

        Forgetting in haste to shut the taxi door,

        She will run up the decrepit stairway

        Flushed with joy and longing.

        She will enter soaking wet

        Without knocking.

        She will take my head in her hands,

        And her blue fur coat will slip

        Happily from the chair onto the floor.

        Mr. Yevtushenko had four marriages. He married Galina Semenova after he and Ms. Akhmadulina divorced. (Ms. Akhmadulina died in 2010.) His third wife, Jan Butler, was an English translator of his poetry. His widow, Ms. Novikova, whom he married in 1986, has taught Russian at a preparatory school near the University of Tulsa. Besides Alexander and Dmitry, he had three other sons, Yevgeny, Pyotr and Anton. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.

        Mr. Yevtushenko kept homes in Russia and in the United States and, besides the University of Tulsa, taught at the the City University of New York and New York University (where one student remembered him dressed in silver suits "stalking back and forth across the front of the lecture hall" as he read his poems in "booming Russian"). He traveled widely, reading his poetry, lecturing, teaching and giving speeches to overflow crowds at universities.

        Through it all, Mr. Yevtushenko regarded himself as a patriot. In "Don't Die Before You're Dead," he summed up his ambivalent feelings of triumph, nostalgia and remorse as a survivor of the defunct Soviet system. In a poem on the final page, "Goodbye, Our Red Flag," he wrote:

        I didn't take the czars' Winter Palace.

        I didn't storm Hitler's Reichstag.

        I am not what you call a "Commie."

        But I caress the Red Flag

        and cry.

        Poetry made him famous, but Mr. Yevtushenko preferred in his later years to describe himself as a "poet, writer and filmmaker." Besides the two novels, he published dozens of volumes of poetry, which have been translated into dozens of languages. He acted or appeared as himself in several films, directed two others, wrote essays and compiled three volumes of his photographs.

        He preferred Oklahoma to New York. "In some provincial cities you can find the real soul of a country," he told The New York Times in 2003. "I like the craziness of New York, but New York is really not America. It's all humanity in one drop. Tulsa is very American." He called Tulsa "the bellybutton of world culture."

        There he enjoyed watching younger generations coming into their own. "Someone is near," he said to one class in dramatic tones. "I feel it. Someone always has to be the leader of a generation. Someone has to be born. Why not one of you?"

        He had shown the same fervor a decade earlier, in July 1993, when the Concert Hall of the Rossiya Hotel in Moscow was the setting for a celebration of his 60th birthday and, by extension, a testimonial to the defiant poets and writers of the 1960s who had broken through the iron grip of Stalinism.

        "Today you, one of the initiators of the Sixties movement, turn 60," President Boris N. Yeltsin wrote in a congratulatory letter to Mr. Yevtushenko. "Your innate, multifaceted talent arose brightly in the now-distant years of the 'thaw.' The civic consciousness of young poets then played a huge role in the spiritual liberation and awakening of the people of Russia."

        A gray-haired woman agreed, telling a reporter: "He was a symbol for us then. Later he was attacked for not being exiled or sent to the camps, for making a career of protest. But not many of us had the courage to stand up to the regime, and he did. You can't blame him that he survived."

        Mr. Yevtushenko, still the crowd-pleaser in a brown silk suit, closed the evening by reading a poem called "Sixties Generation":

        "We were a fad for some, some we offended with our fame. But we set you free, you envious insulters. Let them hiss, that we are without talent, Sold out and hypocrites, It makes no difference. We are legendary, Spat upon, but immortal!"



        8)  Colin Kaepernick Saw This Coming


        March 30, 2017


        In pop culture years, 2012 was ages ago. But try to remember. That was the year quarterback Alex Smith suffered a concussion in the first half of the Niners game against the Rams in Week 10, and a backup QB named Colin Kaepernick had to fill in. The game ended in a tie, the NFL's first in four years. The next week Kaepernick started, and led the team to victory. And even after Smith was declared healthy, Kaepernick continued to start—and to win. A "quarterback controversy" brewed, but coach Harbaugh went with the guy "with the hot hand," as they say. 

        With that, a star was born. A second-year, backup QB led the Niners all the way to Super Bowl XLVII, and even though the Ravens came out on top, all people could talk about was Kap. His spread in the ESPN Body Issue made women swoon all around the nation. He signed endorsement deals with Jaguar, Nike, Beats, and Electronic Arts. Feature stories were written about his tattoos, his pet tortoise named Sammy, his being a biracial kid adopted by white parents. 

        You remember how he would kiss his biceps after scoring a touchdown? "Kaepernicking," we called it. "Tebowing" was the thing until Kap became a bigger story, and then suddenly Kaepernicking got so popular that he filed to trademark the term. You probably Kaepernicked back then, just a few years ago. Ah, the glory days.

        Now, Colin Kaepernick is unemployed and might remain that way. Now the media is calling him "an ungrateful, entitled idiot." And league execs are reportedly calling him a "traitor."

        Because in the NFL, it is OK:

        But in the NFL, it is not OK:

        • for players to advocate for same-sex marriage rights.
        • for a player to engage in silent protest, as Kaepernick has learned.

        In the fall of 2015, Kaepernick's Instagram went from glossy pics of him living the high life—hobnobbing it at GQ partiesposing with sports cars—to political memes and controversial moments in black history. Quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X began to appear often. If you followed @kaepernick7 for any length of time, you would already know he was thinking deeply about civil rights and social justice. You would know he found parallels between the struggles of those leaders and the issues people of color still face. But it would be a year before he would make the fateful decision that (potentially) ended his career. 

        I think that after a while—after Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Terrence Crutcher, the list goes on— Kaepernick felt moved to go beyond social media and actually do something. He weighed his options, and his convictions were heavier than the millions he stood to lose. This is a man who managed to keep a 4.0 GPA while earning All-State nominations in three sports; that is to say, a very intelligent and aware individual. He knew he was placing himself at risk, because this is a country that historically has valued black production, so long as it is detached from black humanity. It's why so-called fans expect players to just shut their mouths and play the game, as though signing a contract reduces them from people to chattel, belonging to teams and armchair analysts alike.

        Yet he protested anyway.

        Kaepernick was fully aware that history is not on the side of athletes who take a stand. When Muhammad Ali, at the height of his career, said he was a "conscientious objector" and refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War, he was arrested, his title was immediately stripped, and his boxing license was revoked. When NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand during the National Anthem on the grounds of his religion, he was shuffled out of the league, losing out on millions and enduring death threats. His home was burned to the ground. After Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised the Black Power salute on the podium in the 1968 Olympics, they were expelled from the Games. You have to imagine Kaepernick took all this into account. Yet, when he was asked why he did not stand during the National Anthem, he did not tiptoe, like Tom Brady did when asked about the Make America Great Again paraphernalia he intentionally placed in his locker. Kaepernick, on the other hand, gave a simple and direct answer: 

        I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.

        So don't think for one second Kaepernick is waiting for the phone to ring. He is not spending free agency wondering why all the teams in need of a QB haven't dialed him up. That's because he is busy doing what he can to offer solutions to real-world problems, work the government has failed to do. He helped raise awareness of the famine in Somalia, and assisted efforts to charter a plane to deliver tons of food and water. He created a Know Your Rights camp, to inform citizens how to handle interactions with police. He made a Million Dollar Pledge, in which he promised to donate $1 million plus all the proceeds from his 2016 jersey sales to organizations working in oppressed communities. His goal is to donate $100,000 for 10 months, and in January the funds went to nonprofits that focus on climate change, legal advocacy for reproductive rights, human rights for immigrants and refugees, and programs for veterans transitioning to civilian life. If humanitarian work is a distraction, it's one any team should be happy to have.

        "I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed," Kaepernick said when the news first broke. "If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right."

         In pop culture years, 2012 was ages ago. Long enough to forget about Kaepernick's pet tortoise, or the Bible verses he has tattooed on his arms. Long enough to go from golden boy to pariah. And maybe, just maybe, long enough for the term Kaepernicking to become a synonym for doing the right thing, despite the cost.



        9)  When Martin Luther King Came Out Against Vietnam

        "I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government."

        By David J. Garrow, April 4, 2017


        Fifty years ago today — and one year to the day before his assassination — the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the most politically charged speech of his life at Riverside Church in Upper Manhattan. It was a blistering attack on the government's conduct of the Vietnam War that, among other things, compared American tactics to those of the Nazis during World War II.

        The speech drew widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum, including from this newspaper. Other civil rights leaders, who supported the war and sought to retain President Lyndon B. Johnson as a political ally, distanced themselves from Dr. King.

        Dr. King's Riverside Church address exemplified how, throughout his final 18 months of life, he repeatedly rejected the sunny optimism of his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech and instead mourned how that dream had "turned into a nightmare." But the speech also highlighted how for Dr. King, civil rights was never a discrete problem in American society, and that racism went hand in hand with the fellow evils of poverty and militarism that kept the country from living up to its ideals. Beyond signaling his growing radicalism, the Riverside speech reflected Dr. King's increasing political courage — and shows why, half a century later, he remains a pivotal figure in American history.

        As early as the first months of 1965, even before Johnson had begun his troop buildup in Vietnam, Dr. King was calling for a negotiated settlement to the conflict, telling journalists, "I'm much more than a civil-rights leader." But his criticism of the government's refusal to halt widespread aerial bombing and pursue peace talks attracted little public comment until that fall, when Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut, a close ally of Johnson, attacked Dr. King and cited an obscure 1799 criminal statute, the Logan Act, that prohibited private citizens from interacting with foreign governments.

        Dr. King was privately distraught over the war and Dodd's response. The F.B.I.'s wiretapping of his closest advisers overheard him telling them "how immoral this is. I think someone should outline how wrong we are." But he reluctantly agreed that he should "withdraw temporarily" from denouncing the war. "Sometimes the public is not ready to digest the truth," he said.

        Dr. King remained relatively mute about the war through most of 1966, but by year's end he was expressing private disgust at how increased military spending had torn a gaping budget hole in Johnson's Great Society domestic programs. "Everything we're talking about really boils down to the fact that we have this war on our hands," Dr. King said in yet another wiretapped phone call.

        Finally, in early 1967, he had had enough. One day Dr. King pushed aside a plate of food while paging through a magazine whose photographs depicted the burn wounds suffered by Vietnamese children who had been struck by napalm. The images were unforgettable, he said. "I came to the conclusion that I could no longer remain silent about an issue that was destroying the soul of our nation."

        Even at the time, antiwar opposition remained politically marginal, and Dr. King's advisers were upset over his desire to participate in a forthcoming mid-April New York protest. In late February, Dr. King joined four antiwar senators — including a Republican, Mark Hatfield of Oregon — at a Los Angeles forum, and a month later he participated in an antiwar march in Chicago.

        Both events received modest press coverage, and in their wake Dr. King told Stanley Levison, long his closest adviser: "I can no longer be cautious about this matter. I feel so deep in my heart that we are so wrong in this country and the time has come for a real prophecy and I'm willing to go that road."

        Levison and others arranged for a respectable antiwar group, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, to schedule an appearance at Riverside Church, a bastion of establishment liberalism. For Dr. King, the speech couldn't come soon enough. Three days prior he told a reporter, "We are merely marking time in the civil rights movement if we do not take a stand against the war."

        At Riverside, Dr. King told the 3,000-person overflow crowd that "my conscience leaves me no other choice" than to "break the betrayal of my own silences" over the past two years. Following the widespread urban riots that had marked the summer of 1966, "I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government."

        Dr. King acknowledged how his sense of prophetic obligation had been strengthened by his receipt of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, which represented "a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for 'the brotherhood of man' " — a calling "that takes me beyond national allegiances." Dr. King emphasized that he counted himself among those who are "bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism."

        Dr. King then turned his full wrath against the war. He insisted that "we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam" and that "we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam." He alleged that the United States tested its latest weapons on Vietnamese peasants "just as the Germans tested out new medicines and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe," and he decried "the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets" in South Vietnam.

        He recommended that all young men confronting the military draft declare themselves conscientious objectors, and he called for the United States to halt all bombing and announce a unilateral cease-fire while preparing to "make what reparations we can for the damage we have done."

        But the war wasn't just a mistake; it was "a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit." Civil rights, inequality and American policy in Southeast Asia were all of a larger piece. When "profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered." He concluded by calling for "a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation."

        The Riverside crowd gave Dr. King a standing ovation, but editorial denunciations were swift and harsh. The Washington Post criticized his "sheer inventions of unsupported fantasy" and lamented how "many who have listened to him with respect will never again accord him the same confidence."

        The New York Times called Dr. King's remarks both "facile" and "slander." It said the moral issues in Vietnam "are less clear-cut than he suggests" and warned that "to divert the energies of the civil rights movement to the Vietnam issue is both wasteful and self-defeating," given how the movement needed to confront what the paper called "the intractability of slum mores and habits."

        Even some of the black press lined up against him: The Pittsburgh Courier warned that Dr. King was "tragically misleading" African-Americans on issues that were "too complex for simple debate."

        Dr. King was unmoved. He told Levison that "I was politically unwise but morally wise. I think I have a role to play which may be unpopular," for "I really feel that someone of influence has to say that the United States is wrong, and everybody is afraid to say it."

        Dr. King was indeed ahead of his time, but not for long. A year later, antiwar sentiment pushed Johnson out of his re-election bid, and today we remember opposition to the war as a widespread phenomenon, so much so that Dr. King's Riverside Church speech is often overlooked as just one more statement against an unpopular conflict.

        But it would be a mistake to read Dr. King's speech as merely an antiwar statement. It reflected his widening worldview that chronic domestic poverty and military adventurism overseas infected the wealthiest nation on earth just as indelibly as did deep-rooted racism. It went to the heart of the multilayered social and political conflicts of the 1960s — and, like all great rhetoric, continues to speak to us today.

        David J. Garrow is the author of "Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference" and the forthcoming "Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama."



        10)  U.S. Women's Soccer Team and U.S. Soccer Ratify New Labor Agreement

         APRIL 5, 2017



        The United States women's national team and U.S. Soccer have ratified a new five-year collective bargaining agreement, ending more than a year of sometimes caustic disagreements about equal pay that had pitted the federation against some of the most high-profile female athletes in the world.

        The deal, which was ratified by the players on Tuesday night in Dallas and by U.S. Soccer's board in a conference call, includes a sizable increase in base pay and improved match bonuses for the women's team, changes that could see some players double their incomes to between $200,000 and $300,000 in a given year — and even more in a World Cup year.

        The agreement also includes sought-after changes to noneconomic issues like travel, accommodations and working conditions. The union also won control of some licensing and marketing rights from the federation, another potential source of revenue for the players.

        U.S. Soccer and the union, the U.S. Women's National Team Players Association, announced the agreement, which runs through 2021, in a joint statement on Wednesday morning. The length of the deal ensures that it will not become an issue for the team during their next major competitions, the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

        While the women's players can claim significant gains in the new agreement, the deal does not guarantee the equal pay with the men's national team that the players had made the cornerstone of their campaign for the last year. For the union, that reality was balanced by gains made elsewhere in the deal that the players and their lawyers feel will pay off in future negotiations.

        "We tried to completely change the methodology for how to define our value, and we made progress in that regard, and it changes the equation for the future," said Becca Roux, the union's executive director.

        Still, the equal pay debate, a powerful wedge issue pressed hard by the union's leadership early in the negotiations, hung over the talks from the start. It resulted in a lawsuit against the players' union by the federation to enforce the old collective bargaining agreement but also a federal wage-discrimination complaint signed by five top players that will continue even with the new C.B.A. now complete.

        Those legal fights were only the most public salvos in what the women's players had come to view as a yearslong fight for respect and equal treatment amid their considerable successes as regular World Cup contenders and Olympic gold medalists. After the United States won the Women's World Cup in 2015 in what became the richest year in the team's history, a group of players fueled by simmering resentments — artificial-turf fields, coach-class travel, unequal per-diem payments from the men's team — demanded that their union fight to win the richer contracts they felt they had earned.

        The cause of equal pay seemed a successful strategy; it put U.S. Soccer in the awkward position of defending what was effectively unequal pay for the same work, and it received wide news media coverage as well as the support of athletes and celebrities and even Hillary Clinton, who tweeted her support during the 2016 presidential campaign. But the tactic also proved divisive, forcing fans of the national teams to take sides in an increasingly nasty fight, and hurting feelings inside the close-knit world of U.S. Soccer, especially after some women's players — riding high after their World Cup title — denigrated the record of the men's team while pushing their cause.

        With the union's negotiatiors and U.S. Soccer barely on speaking terms late last year, and the team's old C.B.A. days from expiring, the women's players fired their lawyer and restructured the union's leadership. The goal was to change the tone of the talks and, with the players more involved in the process, to pivot toward a solution that veteran voices on the team soon came to call "equitable and fair" pay — a subtle but important shift.

        U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, in a telephone interview on Wednesday morning, said the change in leadership, and in tone, quickly opened the door to the discussions that produced a deal. "I think we realized in relatively short order there was a path to getting a deal done," he said.

        In addition to improved (but not necessarily equal) pay, the players began to press for changes that they saw as vital to the long-term growth of the women's game. Those changes, they argued in detailed slide presentations during increasingly frequent negotiating sessions, would improve the game outside the narrow ecosystem of the national team, but also establish a structure to support both their careers and those of the next generation of American women.

        As a result, the new agreement includes commitments from U.S. Soccer for its continued support of the domestic professional league, the N.W.S.L., as well as requirements that the federation improve standards in the league in everything from stadiums to facilities to — through sizable increases in camp and roster bonuses for players not under contract with U.S. Soccer — money that can go to players in the league's rank and file who exist on the periphery of the more established national team pool. The agreement also reinforces the national team players' commitment to the N.W.S.L. through their league salaries, while at the same time establishing a mechanism for them to pursue opportunities abroad, as players like Carli Lloyd and Crystal Dunn (in England) and Alex Morgan (in France) have done in recent months.

        The final breakthroughs came last weekend in Dallas, when as many as 16 players in Texas for a pair of exhibition matches took part in two days of marathon discussions with Gulati and other U.S. Soccer representatives. The looming start of the N.W.S.L. season might have provided another needed nudge; most of the national team plays in the league, with their salaries covered by U.S. Soccer through their annual contracts with the federation.

        "I am incredibly proud of this team and the commitment we have shown through this entire process," midfielder Megan Rapinoe, a member of the union's C.B.A. committee, said in a statement provided by the union. "While I think there is still much progress to be made for us and for women more broadly, I think the W.N.T.P.A. should be very proud of this deal and feel empowered moving forward."



        11)  Outdoor Jail, a Vestige of Joe Arpaio's Tenure, Is Closing

         APRIL 4, 2017




        PHOENIX — Tent City, the outdoor jail that stood as the last remaining symbol of Joe Arpaio's long, turbulent tenure as sheriff of Maricopa County, will close in the coming weeks, Mr. Arpaio's successor, Sheriff Paul Penzone, said on Tuesday.

        "Starting today, the circus ends, and the tents come down," Sheriff Penzone said.

        The jail, where inmates wore striped jumpsuits and pink underwear and slept in 70 surplus Korean War tents, became an effective and telegenic publicity tool for Mr. Arpaio. His unforgiving tough-on-crime stance and his pursuit of illegal immigrants propelled him to re-election five times, but also thrust him into lawsuits and controversy.

        The facility opened in 1993 under the pretense that it would save money while turning the desert's broiling summer into an element of punishment. In the end, it did neither, Sheriff Penzone said. Tent City never held more than 1,700 prisoners, and in recent years, it housed no more than 800. But the cost of operating the jail did not change significantly as its population declined; the same number of guards were needed to patrol its seven-acre campus.

        Inmates said they liked being outdoors, despite the heat, the meatless meals served twice a day, the pink underwear and the spectacle that they became under Mr. Arpaio, who rarely turned down a reporter's request to visit the jail. Guards were the ones who suffered, Sheriff Penzone said, having to wear bulletproof vests and work long hours outside in the heat and the rain.

        "There is no empirical evidence that shows that this facility in any way deters crime," Sheriff Penzone said. The "misperception," he said, "is no longer a story."

        A neon sign that Mr. Arpaio ordered installed high above the jail flashed "Vacancy," at once a statement of fact and, during his tenure, a perverse taunt.

        Mr. Arpaio's name was not mentioned Tuesday, but it was clear that the closing was intended to topple another piece of his legacy. Mr. Penzone and Grant Woods, chairman of the committee assembled to study the jail's effectiveness, repeatedly spoke of the false premise that sustained the county's commitment to Tent City — it cost $8.5 million a year to operate — and the stain that it brought to the state's image.

        "The days of Arizona being a place where people are humiliated or abused or ridiculed for the self-aggrandizing of others are over," said Mr. Woods, a former attorney general for Arizona. "We're moving on."

        In an interview, Mr. Arpaio dismissed Sheriff Penzone's criticism and said Tent City was "going to go down in history as one of the greatest incarceration programs in our country."

        President Trump "has been cracking down on illegal immigrants, and more and more people will be coming into our jails, so we'll see them crowded again," he said. Then he offered a suggestion: "I hope Trump will put the tents on the border for all the illegals that are caught there."

        In September, while Mr. Arpaio was still sheriff, county supervisors floated the idea of shutting down the tents to help offset some of the $50 million in legal fees for his defense on a yearslong racial profiling case. He refused, offering instead to save money by forgoing raises for his deputies and guards.

        Only convicted criminals are currently serving time in the tents, for crimes that do not warrant sentences of more than a year: drug possession, domestic violence, car theft. The pink underwear and socks they wear were a point of pride for Mr. Arpaio, who said that if the underwear was pink, no man would want to steal it. (The jail holds women, too.)

        The jail served two meatless meals a day; inmates referred to the food as slop and were required to eat while watching the Food Channel in the cafeteria, in the only brick-and-mortar building in the complex. Mr. Arpaio once called it a "concentration camp."

        On Monday, Mr. Penzone said Tent City "goes against everything I stand for."

        He convened a citizens' group during his first weeks in office, and its recommendation to close Tent City was unanimous. Mr. Woods said that during its investigation, the group's most surprising finding was that inmates wanted to keep the jail open, asserting that it was better to stay outdoors than to be confined to a six-foot-by-eight-foot cell, he said.

        "What does that tell you?" Mr. Woods said. "It tells you that this negative energy that we've gotten since 1993, that we're so tough on prisoners in Maricopa County, this is how we treat them, that it was false."

        Sheriff Penzone said Tent City would close in 45 to 60 days, saving the county about $4.5 million a year. Prisoners will be sent to other jails in the county.



        12)  Antarctic Ice Reveals Earth's Accelerating Plant Growth

        By Carl Zimmer, April 5, 2017


        For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out what all the carbon dioxide we've been putting into the atmosphere has been doing to plants. It turns out that the best place to find an answer is where no plants can survive: the icy wastes of Antarctica.

        As ice forms in Antarctica, it traps air bubbles. For thousands of years, they have preserved samples of the atmosphere. The levels of one chemical in that mix reveal the global growth of plants at any point in that history.

        "It's the whole Earth — it's every plant," said J. Elliott Campbell of the University of California, Merced.

        Analyzing the ice, Dr. Campbell and his colleagues have discovered that in the past century, plants have been growing at a rate far faster than at any other time in the past 54,000 years. Writing in the journal Nature, they report that plants are converting 31 percent more carbon dioxide into organic matter than they were before the Industrial Revolution.

        The increase is due to the carbon dioxide that humans are putting into the atmosphere, which fertilizes the plants, Dr. Campbell said. The carbon in the extra plant growth amounts to a staggering 28 billion tons each year. For a sense of scale, that's three times the carbon stored in all the crops harvested across the planet every year.

        "It's tempting to think of photosynthesis at the scale of the entire planet as too large to be influenced by human actions," said Christopher B. Field, the director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, who was not involved in the study. "But the story here is clear. This study is a real tour de force."

        Starting in the Industrial Revolution, humans began to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a prodigious rate. Since 1850, the concentration of the gas has increased over 40 percent.

        Since plants depend on carbon dioxide to grow, scientists have long wondered if that extra gas might fertilize them. The question has been hard to answer with much certainty.

        For one thing, a plant relies on more than just carbon dioxide. It also needs water, nitrogen and other compounds. Even with a perfect balance of nutrients, plants may grow at different rates depending on the temperature.

        To get some real-world measurements of plant growth, some scientists have built enclosures so that they can determine the precise amounts of carbon dioxide as well as the growth of plants. They can even run experiments by flooding the enclosures with extra carbon dioxide.

        Trees and other plants in these enclosures have indeed grown faster with more carbon dioxide. But it's been hard to extend these results to the planet as a whole. Scientists found that plants responded differently to carbon dioxide in different parts of the world. The logistical challenge of these experiments has mostly limited them to Europe and the United States, leaving huge swaths of forests in the tropics and the far north little studied.

        More recently, scientists have turned to satellites to get clues to what plants have been doing. They have measured how green the land is, and from that data they have estimated the area covered by leaves.

        But this method has its shortcomings, too. Satellites cannot see leaves hiding under clouds, for example. And the size of leaves serves as only a rough guide to a plant's growth. If a plant builds bigger roots, that growth will be hidden underground.

        In the mid-2000s, atmospheric scientists discovered a powerful new way to measure plant growth: by studying an unimaginably rare molecule called carbonyl sulfide.

        Carbonyl sulfide — a molecule made of a carbon atom, a sulfur atom and an oxygen atom — is present only in a few hundred parts per trillion in the atmosphere. That is about a million times lower than the concentration of carbon dioxide. Decaying organic matter in the ocean produces carbonyl sulfide, a gas that then floats into the atmosphere.

        Plants draw in carbonyl sulfide along with carbon dioxide. As soon as it enters their tissues, they destroy it. As a result, the level of carbonyl sulfide in the air drops as plants grow.

        "You can see it in real time," said Max Berkelhammer, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "In the morning when the sun rises, they start to pull it out."

        This discovery led scientists to go to Antarctica. The air that reaches the South Pole is so well mixed that its carbonyl sulfide level reflects the worldwide growth of plants.

        As ice forms in Antarctica, it captures bubbles of air, creating a historical record of the atmosphere reaching back thousands of years. Last year, Dr. Campbell and his colleagues analyzed carbonyl sulfide records from the past 54,000 years.

        Over the course of several thousand years at the end of the ice age, the gas dropped significantly. Dr. Campbell said the decline reflected the retreat of the glaciers. As new land was uncovered, plants sprang up and began destroying carbonyl sulfide.

        It's more challenging to interpret the more recent record in the ice. Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have added extra carbonyl sulfide through textile manufacturing and other activities. This infusion of carbonyl sulfide has raised levels of the gas in the ice over the past century.

        But Dr. Campbell and his colleagues found that it hasn't increased very much. As we have been adding carbonyl sulfide to the atmosphere, plants have been pulling it out. In fact, the scientists found, they have been pulling it out at a staggering rate.

        "The pace of change in photosynthesis is unprecedented in the 54,000-year record," Dr. Campbell said. While photosynthesis increased at the end of the ice age, he said, the current rate is 136 times as fast.

        With all that extra carbon dioxide going into plants, there has been less in the air to contribute to global warming. The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, but it might be even hotter if not for the greening of the Earth.

        Dr. Berkelhammer, who was not involved in the new study, said the research would serve as a benchmark for climate projections. "It means we can build more accurate models," he said.

        To test out climate models, researchers often go back to the historical record and see how well they can replay it. Now they can see if their models project plants growing at the rate observed by Dr. Campbell and his colleagues.

        It is still an open question what plants will do in years to come if carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise.

        More carbon dioxide might spur even more growth. But many climate models project that plants will suffer as temperatures rise and rainfall patterns shift. Despite the extra carbon dioxide, worldwide plant growth may fall, and plants will no longer help to buffer the impact of global warming.

        "I've been referring to this as a carbon bubble," Dr. Campbell said. "You see ecosystems storing more carbon for the next 50 years, but at some point you hit a breaking point."



        13)  Trump's War Whoop: a Gulf of Tonkin Moment?

        By Mike Whitney

        Counter Punch, April 6, 2017


        An attack on an ammunition dump that contained chemical weapons has touched off a massive propaganda blitz aimed at drawing the United States deeper into Syria's six yearlong war. The incident, which took place in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, killed an estimated 72 people and left several hundred others severely ill. According to Russia Today (RT):

        "The warehouse (that was bombed) was used to both produce and store shells containing toxic gas…The shells were delivered to Iraq and repeatedly used there… Both Iraq and international organizations have confirmed the use of such weapons by militants." (RT)

        Reports in the western media have dismissed the RT account as "nonsense" and placed the blame squarely on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Leading the charge once again is the New York Times chief propagandist Michael R. Gordon who, readers may recall, co-authored fake news stories with Judith Miller about Saddam's elusive Weapons of Mass Destruction. Here's a sample of Gordon's work from a piece he wrote (with Miller) in 2002. It helps to put Tuesday's incident into perspective:

        "More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today. In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium. American officials said…." (New York Times)

        Gordon's article helped pave the way for invasion of Iraq, the killing of hundreds-of-thousands of Iraqis and the destruction of one of the world's oldest civilizations. Now he's moved on to Syria. Here's a blurb from his latest piece titled "Worst Chemical Attack in Years in Syria; U.S. Blames Assad:"

        "The United States blamed the Syrian government and its patrons, Russia and Iran, on Tuesday for one of the deadliest chemical weapons attacks in years in Syria, one that killed dozens of people in Idlib Province, including children, and sickened scores more.

        "A senior State Department official said the attack appeared to be a war crime and called on Russia and Iran to restrain the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria from carrying out further chemical strikes.

        "Britain, France and Turkey joined Washington in condemning the attack, which they also attributed to Mr. Assad's government. The United Nations Security Council was scheduled to be briefed on the attack on Wednesday." (New York Times)

        Does that sound like a justification for war? Gordon seems to think so.

        And Gordon is not alone either. He is joined by the entire western media and their bloodthirsty colleagues on Capital Hill. Now it appears that President Donald Trump—who promised an end to Washington's regime change wars—has joined their ranks. Here's the statement Trump issued on Tuesday shortly after the attack:

        "Today's chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world. These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a "red line" against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack." President Donald J. Trump, Office of the Press Secretary, April 4, 2017

        Repeat: "These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime …cannot be ignored by the civilized world."

        Is Trump planning to lead the U.S. into a war with Syria?

        Compare "President Trump's" comments this week to "Candidate Trump's" comments in December 2016:

        "We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past…We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments….Our goal is stability not chaos, because we want to rebuild our country (the United States)…In our dealings with other countries, we will seek shared interests wherever possible and pursue a new era of peace, understanding, and good will."

        Quite a difference, eh? Now check out these blurbs on Trump's Twitter account in 2013 when Citizen Trump was trying to persuade Obama that he should "stay the hell out" of the Syrian conflict.

        From the Real Donald J. Trump—"We should stay the hell out of Syria, the 'rebels' are just as bad as the current regime. WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS? ZERO" 5:33 P.M.— June 15, 2013

        Donald J. Trump—"President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your 'powder' for another (and more important) day!" 6:21 A.M.—September 7, 2013

        Donald J. Trump—"What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval." 11:14 A.M.—August 29, 2013

        The difference between Citizen Trump and President Trump could not be starker. Citizen Trump was nearly a pacifist while President Trump has deployed more Marines and Special Forces to Iraq and Syria, 2,000 more U.S. combat troops to Kuwait (in anticipation of a broader conflict) and stepped up U.S. operations in Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan and beyond. Even more troubling is the fact that he has loaded his foreign policy team with right-wing militarists like James "Mad Dog" Mattis (who leveled the Iraqi city of Falluja in a vicious fit of rage.) and Lieutenant General HR McMaster, who was recently denounced by a retired senior U.S. Military Police officer, Arnaldo Claudio, as a war criminal for "human rights abuses of detainees in Tal Afar, during the Iraq war." (See: "U.S. Army Investigator Accuses National Security Adviser McMaster of War Crimes in Iraq," The Libertarian Institute)

        What's so disturbing about the appointments of Mattis and McMaster is that Trump has apparently relinquished control over foreign policy and handed it over to his generals whose political orientation is at the far right-end of the spectrum. Check out this clip from an article at Antiwar.com by Jason Ditz:

        "Trump Expands Pentagon's War Authority—Trump Giving Commanders Increasing Autonomy to Conduct Operations

        "While most of the talk about the Pentagon's proposals for various wars to President Trump has focused on requests for more troops in more countries, a much less publicized effort has also been getting rubber stamped, one giving commanders in those wars increasing autonomy on operations….

        "While President Trump is eager to make such moves early on to show that he is 'listening to the generals,' granting so much autonomy to the military to fight its own wars without political oversight is risky business….as it further distances America's direct foreign interventions from politicians, and by extension from the voters, turning the details of major military operations into little more than bureaucratic details for career military brass.

        "These major changes are happening in almost complete silence, as while there have been mentions of the Pentagon seeking these new authorities, always as an afterthought to getting more troops, there is little to no interest in debating the question." (antiwar.com)

        Think about that for a minute: The world's most lethal killing machine is now in the hands of career militarists who are trained to win wars not seek political solutions. How can this not lead to a dramatic escalation? Trump thinks that by abdicating his responsibility as Commander in Chief he is showing his support for his generals, but what he's really doing is revealing his feeble grasp of how the system works. His approach can only lead to more needless carnage, that much is certain.

        So what happens now, and how does all this fit with Tuesday's chemical attack in Syria?

        The western media and the political class have already decided that the incident is going to be used for two purposes:

        1.     Discredit Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

        2.     Create a justification for increasing U.S. military involvement.

        The fact that Assad and Putin have already denied that Syria used chemical weapons ("We deny completely the use of any chemical or toxic material in Khan Sheikhoun town today and the army has not used nor will use in any place or time, neither in past or in future," the army said in a statement, as quoted by Reuters) is not going to make any difference at all. The pretext has already been established and the Pentagon's strategy may soon be launched.

        At the very least, we can expect a more forceful attempt to seize and occupy the eastern quadrant of the country, establish military bases, impose a no-fly zone, and boost the number U.S. combat troops in the theater. There's also a good chance that the U.S. will engage the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) at Deir Ezzor in their effort to clear and capture east Syria.

        The prospects of a conflagration between the United States and Russia are increasing by the day.

        God help us all.



        14)  'Don't Open the Door': How Fear of an Immigration Raid Gripped a City

        APRIL 6, 2017




        BROCKTON, Mass. — For days, it was the only topic of conversation. Immigration agents were said to be planning a raid. They could come any minute.

        In this fraying, blue-collar city, where a quarter of the 95,000 residents are foreign born, word whipped across social media. Children were kept home from school. Families sorted through plans for what to do in case one among them was swept up.

        Waves of panic have become familiar since Donald J. Trump, who has promised wide-scale deportations of illegal immigrants, became president. Federal agents have made scores of publicized arrests around the nation.

        As communities wrestle with the administration's new policy, they face another challenge, too: distinguishing between verifiable reports of arrests and empty rumors driven by fear.

        In New York, there was talk of raids on trains headed to the Bronx and in Queens, and of checkpoints on Long Island — all later deemed false. In Kansas City, unsubstantiated word of roundups outside churches kept some people from going to Mass.

        "Any smidgen of information just spreads like wildfire," said Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group based in Washington.

        This is the story of one such report, and how it spread, hour by hour. It is based on interviews with local activists, officials and residents, many of whom refused to be identified because they or their family members are not here legally or they fear retribution.

        What was certain: a conversation overheard in a restaurant was quickly amplified and eventually sent much of this community into full-scale panic.

        What no one knew for sure was whether it was true.

        Noon, Monday, March 27

        A woman from Guatemala who works in a Brockton restaurant overhears customers say that Immigration and Customs Enforcementagents are planning a raid Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Isabel Lopez, a community organizer who works in Brockton and knows the woman.

        8 p.m. Monday

        The restaurant worker, who is also an advocate for immigrants, attends a community meeting at the United Methodist Church and talks about what she heard. The group discusses getting the information out via Facebook and text messages.

        11 p.m. Monday

        A longtime local resident originally from Puerto Rico who had attended the meeting at the church posts on Facebook in Spanish: "Dear Friends. If you have nothing to do in the streets, don't come out, as ICE will be having presence in Brockton on Wed." She has since deleted the post.

        4:30 a.m. Tuesday

        Word has started spreading. A naturalized Brazilian immigrant is on her way to work when she sees her mother, who is just home from an overnight shift at a Brockton bakery.

        "She was like, you know, everybody at work is going crazy, because they're saying ICE is coming," the woman says.

        During the day, reports of a possible raid flood her social media feeds. "Even people on Snapchat were talking about it," she says, recalling one of the messages: "'Guys, be careful. ICE is out in Brockton.'"

        6:44 a.m. Tuesday

        Michelle DuBois, a Democratic state representative from Brockton, posts to Facebook: "ICE raid in Brockton on 3/28 and 29th."

        She adds: "I got the following information from my friend in the Latin community: 'I have a message for the immigrant community of Brockton. Please be careful on Wednesday 29. ICE will be in Brockton on that day.'"

        In an interview later, Ms. DuBois said she had heard about the expected raid from multiple people and saw the Spanish-language Facebook post before posting her own warning.

        8:30 a.m. Tuesday

        Ms. Lopez, the community organizer, sends a text to members of the clergy saying she has heard the rumor that ICE would be in Brockton. She urges the immigrant community's Rapid Response team, watchdogs who alert one another when they see arrests or other activities that cause them concern, to be vigilant.

        9 a.m. Tuesday

        Carlha Toussaint, an organizer with the Coalition for Social Justice in Brockton, starts receiving phone calls from worried immigrants. She sets in motion a "Know Your Rights" campaign, with field workers making phone calls. They also go to public housing developments to drop off small red laminated cards that list immigrants' rights, such as not having to open their doors to agents unless they have warrants.

        About 10:45 a.m. Tuesday

        While testifying before a Congressional subcommittee on immigration, Thomas Hodgson, the sheriff of Bristol County, Mass., says that if sanctuary cities harbor undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes, their elected officials should be arrested. He also informs the panel that Ms. DuBois has sent an "all-alert message out on Facebook" telling everyone that ICE was coming and to stay out of sight. The sheriff calls Ms. DuBois's warning of the raid "outrageous."

        Ms. DuBois's post and the reaction to it go viral, with many commenters attacking her. Her Facebook page fills with comments like "lock her up!!!!" The Boston Herald and The Brockton Enterprise pick up the story. Both say the warning is based on rumor, not fact.

        11:39 a.m. Tuesday

        Shawn Neudauer, the public affairs officer for ICE in New England, receives the first of several calls from news organizations asking about the reports. In an interview later, he said there had been no "operational activity as was suggested" in Brockton. ICE, he said, does not conduct indiscriminate raids or sweeps, but rather, "targeted enforcement" in which agents look for specific people but may also arrest other undocumented people they encounter.

        "Routine immigration enforcement," he adds, "happens every day."

        Noon Tuesday

        By now, fear is saturating the neighborhoods and prompting many immigrants to stay out of public view.

        A 31-year-old mental health counselor from Haiti says her cousin calls to tell her to stay inside because ICE is coming. "I was terrified," she says. She keeps her daughter, 4, home from school and leaves only to pick up her husband from work.

        2:33 p.m. Tuesday

        Ms. DuBois updates her Facebook post, saying she has been inundated with "ugly and threatening posts." She does not back down from the reports of raids — although she now calls them "rumors" — saying people in Brockton and elsewhere are "terrified." But she insists her post was to help ICE, not to undermine it, because it would allow ICE to change the date of the raid. Her critics say she is absurdly trying to have it both ways.

        3:18 p.m. Tuesday

        The Brazilian Times, based in Somerville, Mass., publishes an article about the possible raid that is quickly shared among Brazilians in Brockton.

        3:40 p.m. Tuesday

        An undocumented Mexican immigrant living in Brockton checks her Facebook messages, where a friend has alerted her about a possible raid.

        She and her husband review the plans recommended at a training session. Among the guidelines: "Don't open the door, say nothing."

        4:30 p.m. Tuesday

        The rumors create a dilemma for educators: How can they acknowledge the real fears of students without stoking the frenzy? The district's 25 schools teach 17,446 students from 51 nations, with sizable populations from Cape Verde, Ecuador, Haiti and West Africa.

        An email from the school superintendent, Kathleen A. Smith, is sent to the principals after school is dismissed, encouraging them to watch for students who appear concerned.

        Wednesday morning

        School officials report that attendance appears to be down.

        "In one kindergarten classroom, 5 out of 12 kids were out," says Michele Morgan Bolton, the district spokeswoman. Another first-grade class is missing 8 of its 22 students, and a second-grade class is missing 7 of 25 students.

        Thursday morning

        Sheriff Hodgson, who has drawn cheers and jeers from around the country, appears on Fox and calls for Ms. DuBois's resignation. Ms. DuBois begins to use the controversy to raise money. "We have seen the alt-right's national attack campaign against Michelle and we need to help her fight back," says her fund-raising appeal.

        Thursday afternoon

        Mr. Neudauer, the ICE spokesman, announces five arrests the previous day in Lawrence, Mass., 60 miles to the north and far from the frenzy of speculation.

        All week, residents share word of possible sightings of ICE agents in Brockton, but Mr. Neudauer says there have been no immigration raids or arrests here.

        Thursday evening

        Ms. DuBois tells The Brockton Enterprise that she did the right thing in alerting her constituents. In an interview later with The New York Times, she says it is "hard for me to say" whether a raid occurred and says her Facebook post could hardly have added to the anxiety that already permeates this immigrant city.

        "Nothing that a fifth-generation American can write," she says, "is going to incite any more fear than is already in the hearts of all these people."



        15)  U.S.-Led Force Reduces Attacks on ISIS in Syria After Airstrike

        APRIL 8, 2017




        WASHINGTON — The American-led task force that is battling the Islamic State has sharply reduced airstrikes against the militants in Syria as commanders assess whether Syrian government forces or their Russian allies plan to respond to the United States' cruise missile strike on a Syrian airfield this past week, American officials said.

        The precautionary move, revealed in statistics made public by the command on Saturday, was taken as Russian officials have threatened to suspend the communication line the American and Russian militaries use to notify each other about air operations in Syria.

        So far, the Russian military does not appear to have taken any threatening actions, such as directing its battlefield radar or air defense systems to confront the Americans, or carrying out aggressive actions in the skies, United States officials said.

        But officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning said the commanders needed time to determine whether the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and the Russian military would treat the American cruise missile strike as a one-time operation that they would not respond to militarily. As a precaution, the Pentagon is flying patrols in Syrian skies with F-22 jets, the Air Force's most advanced air-to-air fighter.

        If it becomes clear that the Syrians and Russians will not follow their sharp criticism of the operation with significant military action, the pace of American airstrikes against Islamic State forces in Syria can be quickly increased.

        Over the last two years, American and allied warplanes striking Islamic State targets in Syria have had to fly among formidable Syrian and Russian-supplied air defenses. While there have been a few close calls between Russian and American jets, some of them unintentional, the American-led air campaign has for the most part proceeded without interference from Russian or Syrian fighters or air defenses.

        Publicly, American officials had little to say about the reduction in strikes against the militants. "We are using resources as appropriate to the commander's priorities and as the situation dictates," a military official said.

        On Friday in Syria, the day the United States fired 59 cruise missiles around 3:40 a.m. local time against Al Shayrat airfield, the American-led coalition carried out just seven airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, according to the command. All the airstrikes were near Tabqah, where Syrian fighters and American advisers are trying to take the town and a nearby dam, a move that would cut off the western approaches to Raqqa, the Islamic State's self-styled capital.

        By contrast, on Tuesday the American-led command carried out twice as many strikes in Syria against the Islamic State, and against a broader array of targets. On March 27, the command conducted 19 strikes in Syria against Islamic State militants.

        In the Raqqa mission, United States Special Operations forces assisting Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters in their encirclement of the city, in eastern Syria, have also taken unspecified precautions against possible retaliatory attacks, military officials said. The United States struck the airfield in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government.

        American officials have said that the purpose of the airfield attack was to dissuade Mr. Assad from using chemical weapons again and that it was not intended to be part of a broader military effort to undermine the Syrian leader's hold on power.

        As long as Mr. Assad refrains from using chemical weapons again, the officials have said, the United States does not plan to carry out further attacks on his forces.

        Some American and other Western counterterrorism officials have said the missile strike could nonetheless make the fight against the Islamic State in Syria more difficult.

        "It seems clear that the strikes will complicate our efforts to pursue our counter-ISIS campaign in Syria," said Matthew Olsen, a former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. "In particular, the ability to carry out U.S. airstrikes in Syria in support of the coalition against ISIS requires some degree of cooperation with Russia, which is now in serious jeopardy."

        Other security experts said that much depended on the Trump administration's next steps, and how the Assad government and its Russian patrons responded.

        "U.S. aircraft operating over Al-Tabqah are already ostensibly in range of the Russian S-400 system at the Humaymin Air Base, and we might see Russia deploy more air defense assets to Syria," Jeremy Binnie, the Middle East editor of Jane's Defense Weekly, said in an email. "But if the U.S. makes no moves to threaten Assad's position, then they may well accept the punishment and move on."

        William McCants, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of "The ISIS Apocalypse," offered a similar assessment.

        If the strikes are limited to what took place this past week, "then they don't change much," Mr. McCants said. "They won't help jihadists propagandize against the U.S., because the missiles targeted the hated Assad regime. Russia wasn't doing much against ISIS, so Russian anger at the strikes won't affect the coalition effort against the group."

        But Mr. McCants added: "If the United States continues to degrade Assad's air force, it will be a boon to all the rebel groups, including the non-ISIS jihadists who have been targeted by the regime. They will begin to recapture some of the territory they have lost."

        Russia sent warplanes to Syria in 2015 in a successful effort to help Mr. Assad maintain his hold on power and expand the territory under his control. The Russians began their first airstrikes in late September of that year.

        American officials have frequently complained that most of the Russian airstrikes have been directed not against the Islamic State but against rebels fighting Mr. Assad's forces, including the moderate opposition that has been trained and equipped covertly by the C.I.A.



        16)  Three Brooklyn Clinics, 6.3 Million Oxycodone Pills and 13 Indictments

        APRIL 7, 2017




        Officials in New York arrested 12 people on Friday in what was described as a conspiracy involving three Brooklyn medical clinics that helped flood the streets with prescription painkillers while defrauding Medicare and Medicaid out of millions of dollars.

        After announcing the arrests — a 13th person, a former state assemblyman from Brooklyn, was also indicted in the case — prosecutors described the scope of the conspiracy, saying it put 6.3 million oxycodone pills on New York's black market and generated more than $24 million for the three clinics.

        Noting that the abuse of drugs like the painkiller oxycodone had helped fuel a national opioid epidemic, officials said the case combined a drug conspiracy and Medicaid fraud, in which the clinics also billed the government for expensive but unneeded tests.

        "I have to say I've never really seen anything like it," Bridget G. Brennan, New York City's special narcotics prosecutor, said at a news conference on Friday.

        Those charged in two indictments announced on Friday included three doctors, Michael Taitt, Paul McClung and Lazar Feygin, who was described as the "chief architect" of the scheme; medical office managers Pavel Krasnou, Vyacheslav Maksakov, Rachel Smolitsky and Konstantin Zeva; physician assistants Juan Cabezas, Marie Nazaire and Abdus Sattar; a nurse practitioner, Marjorie Louis-Jacques; and a physical therapist, Reynat Glaz. The former assemblyman, Alec Brook-Krasny, was out of the country, officials said.

        The yearslong investigation that led to the charges began when federal agents and narcotics investigators found a group of "doctor shoppers," people seeking prescription pills even though they did not need them for medical reasons.

        Officials said they learned in the course of the inquiry that two Brooklyn clinics owned by Dr. Feygin — Parkville Medical Health, in the Kensington neighborhood, and LF Medical Services of NY, in Clinton Hill — were selling large numbers of prescriptions for oxycodone.

        The investigators said Dr. Feygin began hiring medical staff members in 2012 in order to prescribe the oxycodone.

        Some of the employees, including Dr. McClung and Mr. Cabezas, started another practice in 2013 and began engaging in similar criminal activity, the officials said.

        Dr. Feygin and members of the staff at his two clinics prescribed more than 3.7 million pills from 2012 to 2017, and received more than $16 million in reimbursements from Medicaid and Medicare, officials said; the third clinic was responsible for 2.6 million pills, and was reimbursed more than $8 million.

        The investigation was conducted in part by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Investigation Department and special narcotics prosecutor's office, the State Department of Health, and the Brooklyn district attorney's office.

        Mr. Brook-Krasny helped direct unnecessary laboratory testing of urine samples through his affiliation with Quality Laboratory Services in Sheepshead Bay, officials said. (His LinkedIn page describes him as the company's chief operating officer.) He also arranged to alter test results with conditions like the presence of alcohol that would have made opioids difficult to prescribe.

        Frank V. Carone, Mr. Brook-Krasny's lawyer, said that his client would turn himself in when he returned from a family trip and that he was "simply a third-party service provider and nothing more."

        "My client understands the seriousness of the charges, and of course opioid abuse, but as for the allegations that he is somehow culpable is an incredible injustice," Mr. Carone wrote in an email.

        As he was led into a Manhattan courthouse at the head of a line of suspects, Dr. Feygin denied that he or his co-defendants had ever fed anyone's addiction.

        "We're not treating addicts; we're treating very, very sick people," he said. "We're primary-care physicians."

        Judge Neil Ross of Manhattan Criminal Court ordered Dr. Feygin held without bail. Prosecutors noted that he had an apartment in Russia.

        Arthur Gershfeld, a lawyer for Mr. Krasnou and Dr. McClung, said the large number of pills prescribed was proof of a great number of patients served, not of wrongdoing.

        Dr. Feygin, a native of Belarus who moved to the United States more than 25 years ago, was featured in a 2013 New York Times video about style in Brighton Beach, a Russian-American enclave in Brooklyn. He talked about his personal shopper and pointed out his Ferragamo shoes.

        "This style in Russia was almost impossible," he says in the video. "I didn't have enough money. I worked, and I still work very, very hard to have an opportunity to spend enough money to be stylish."
























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