March For Science - San Francisco

APRIL 22, 2017

Start: Justin Herman Plaza, 11:00AM
End: Civic Center Plaza

The March for Science - San Francisco celebrates public discovery, understanding, and distribution of scientific knowledge as crucial to the freedom, success, health, and safety of life on this planet. We are a nonpartisan group, marching in support of the following goals: Communication, Funding, Policy, Literacy, and Diversity.


Please register ahead of time to provide us with an estimated headcount for organizating the event.


11:00 AM

Speeches From Bay Area Members

Adam Savage: Inventor & Host of MythBusters

Dr. DJ Patil: Former U.S. Chief Data Scientist

Dr. Jennifer R. Cohen: SMASH Academy Site Director at Level Playing Field Institute

Eric Valor: Founder of SciOpen Research Group

Kathy Setian: Retired Project Manager at EPA

Dr. Leticia Márquez-Magaña: Biologist, Diversity Advocate, and SACNISTA

Dr. Pamela Ronald: Plant Geneticist

MC | Kishore Hari: Director of Bay Area Science Festival

12:30 PM

March Down Market Street

After the rally, we will March down Market Street towards Civic Center Plaza. This will take approximately 60-90 minutes.

3:00-6:00 PM

Science Fair

The Science Fair will be an opportunity for all ages to engage, create, discover, and connect. We'll have keynote speakers, panel discussions, food trucks, bands, an open mic stage, letter-writing zones, and a science-themed photo booth. Activities will be hosted by an inspiring array of partners from across our community, including the 49ers STEAM team, CalAcademy, Planetary Society, and SACNAS.



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)  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.



        2)  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."



        3)  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.



        4)  '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."



        5)  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.



        6)  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."



        7)  America's Toxic Workplace Rules

        "Today's limits 'are driven more by economic and technological feasibility than they are by the risk assessments,'"

         APRIL 10, 2017




        Last month, President Trump's nomination of R. Alexander Acosta to be secretary of labor was approved by a Senate committee, even though the nominee's testimony had left unclear whether he would be more interested in protecting employers' prerogatives than in guarding workers' interests.

        We may soon find out, and here's one test — an issue of worker health that President Barack Obama's Labor Department tried to resolve, without much success: Why does the department's Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration allow workers to be exposed to dangerous chemicals at limits far higher than those set for everyone by the Environmental Protection Agency?

        Mr. Acosta should know that issue. He served on the National Labor Relations Board during George W. Bush's presidency. And OSHA was making slow progress toward equalizing some standards when Mr. Obama's presidency ended.

        The issue of toxic hazards at work went national nearly 20 years ago, when former employees brought more than 200 lawsuits against IBM, accusing it of having concealed knowledge that it was exposing them to carcinogenic chemicals. Ultimately, IBM settled the suits, with the details sealed.

        Perhaps the most striking feature of those suits was that IBM seems to have not violated any OSHA regulations. The real problem was that OSHA's standards, across the board, allowed — and still allow — workers to be exposed to much higher concentrations of chemicals than are permitted in the general environment. For example, its standard for lead allows up to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over eight hours; the E.P.A. ambient air quality standard is 0.15 micrograms.

        Standards for other chemicals are similarly unbalanced — so much so that David Michaels, an epidemiologist who headed OSHA under President Obama, told me in 2015 that because of the current law, the agency's chemical exposure standards were much too weak.

        Today's limits "are driven more by economic and technological feasibility than they are by the risk assessments," he said. "Congress would have to change that."

        OSHA has estimated that chemical exposure kills 50,000 American workers a year and sickens more than 190,000, but Dr. Michaels and other experts say these figures are gross underestimates.

        One explanation for the disparity between OSHA and E.P.A. standards, offered by Amanda Hawes, a California lawyer, is that E.P.A. rules "are supposed to protect the most vulnerable in the population — typically children, fetuses, the elderly and folks with pre-existing health problems." Environmental standards, she added, "more often look at chronic effects."

        Dr. Robert Harrison, an occupational medicine specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, explained that cancer and other chronic diseases are usually not recognized as occupational illnesses. Doctors often don't know when patients have been continually exposed to carcinogens like lead or formaldehyde.

        The IBM case also illustrates how difficult it is in court to pinpoint chemical exposure as the cause of illness. To show that IBM knew it was risking workers' health, the plaintiffs obtained a company study of employee deaths. An epidemiologist said the data showed abnormally high rates of some cancers. IBM said the data's purpose was intended to determine survivor benefits. The judge refused to admit it. Two years later, an IBM-supported study found an elevated rate of mortality from brain cancer among former employees.

        The American Chemistry Council, a trade association, says safety is a core concern of the industry. "In addition to strictly adhering to OSHA's worker health and safety standards," it said in an email, its members accept recommendations from other organizations. Nevertheless, Ms. Hawes says she has argued enough cases involving birth defects to understand that voluntary standards don't work.

        Dr. Michaels adds that some OSHA standards are so weak they send a false message of safety. In an interview this winter, he said OSHA did eke out some progress last year after a public dialogue among industry, unions and advocates. The agency moved to revoke the most outdated workplace exposure limits in favor of general-duty standards. It also set new limits for beryllium and silica.

        But those measures "don't deal with the bigger issue," Dr. Michaels said. "There are many, many chemicals that either have no permissible exposure limits, or that have out-of-date permissible exposure limits."

        OSHA does encourage companies to comply with limits set by other organizations. And Congress took a first step in June by requiring the E.P.A. to regulate more chemicals and add vulnerable populations, including workers, to health risk assessments. Dr. Michaels said this is the first time "that workers will be treated like other populations."

        Still, he added, "It's only going to be done on a chemical-by-chemical basis, and only for certain uses."

        And that's where Mr. Acosta comes in.

        President Trump has already required agencies to remove two existing regulations for every new one issued. That seems a difficult political climate in which to favor worker safety over employers' convenience. If confirmed, will Mr. Acosta order his OSHA chief to continue the work toward more rigorous environmental protections for laborers and defend standards already in place that protect worker safety?

        The many thousands of workers routinely exposed to toxic chemicals can only hope the answer will be yes.



        8)  California Today: Cancer Worries Over a Common Weedkiller

        By Mike McPhate, April 10, 2017


        It's sprayed on home gardens, Little League Baseball fields and, most heavily, the corn, soybean and other crops of the Central Valley.

        More than 10 million pounds of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, are applied in California each year, according to government figures.

        Now, after a yearlong legal battle, California's environmental health agency has announced that it will list it as a known carcinogen.

        The move would make the agency the first American regulatory body to do so. Yet the science is not settled, researchers say.

        Two years ago, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization deemed glyphosate a probable carcinogen. But other regulators have played down concerns of a cancer risk, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which has said glyphosate poses "low toxicity for humans."

        The mixed science can be attributed in part to the way studies have been designed, said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "There's a lot of controversy around it," he said.

        In court, the manufacturer of Roundup, Monsanto, argued that California had no basis to make the cancer designation and said it would hurt the company financially.

        In January, a judge rejected the lawsuit. Monsanto, based in Missouri, has appealed.

        "We disagree with the court's ruling, and we will continue to fight the decision on the basis of sound science and the law," the chemical giant said in an emailed statement.

        The listing of glyphosate as a carcinogen would represent a warning to consumers, not a ban. Still, environmental leaders say they are counting on the move to tilt debates over its use.

        A pivotal battleground would be in the Central Valley, where spraying of the herbicide is common and agricultural groups defend it as an essential tool in controlling weeds and safeguarding the food supply. (See a map of glyphosate use in California).

        Along the coast, grass-roots groups opposed to glyphosate have already been securing victories.

        Last month, school districts in both Burbank and Glendale agreed to halt their use of glyphosate after demands from parents.

        Kathleen Hallal, a former PTA leader who led another successful effortto eliminate glyphosate use in Irvine, said she expected pressure on officials to intensify.

        "A lot of parents have been awakened to the reality of Roundup being everywhere," she said.



        9)  U.S. Reroutes Warships Toward Korean Peninsula in Show of Force

         APRIL 9, 2017




        WASHINGTON — The commander of American forces in the Pacific has ordered an aircraft carrier and several other warships toward the Korean Peninsula in a show of force by the Trump administration just days after North Korea tested another intermediate-range missile.

        The officer, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the head of the military's Pacific Command, diverted the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and its wing of fighter jets from a planned series of exercises and port calls in Australia, the command said in a statement. The Vinson and three guided-missile destroyers and cruisers steamed out of Singapore on Saturday for their new mission in the Western Pacific.

        Rerouting the naval armada is President Trump's latest escalation in force against a potential adversary. Mr. Trump ordered a cruise missile strike last week against a Syrian military air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government that killed scores of civilians.

        At a meeting last week at Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, he joined with President Xi Jinping of China in warning of the increasing menace posed by North Korea's advancing nuclear weapons program. Asked on Sunday why the Navy ships were being redirected toward the Korean Peninsula, the president's national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, said it was a "prudent" step to take.

        North Korea has been engaged in a pattern of provocative behavior," General McMaster said on "Fox News Sunday." "This is a rogue regime that is now a nuclear-capable regime. The president has asked to be prepared to give him a full range of options to remove that threat to the American people and to our allies and partners in the region."

        The White House said in a statement on Sunday that Mr. Trump had spoken to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan the day before on many issues, including the North Korean nuclear threat.

        Military and intelligence officials said the timing of the ship movements was also intended to anticipate a milestone event coming up on the Korean Peninsula: the anniversary on Saturday of the birth of Kim Il-sung, North Korea's founder and the grandfather of the country's current leader, Kim Jong-un. North Korea has a history of testing missiles and generally taking provocative actions during such events.

        By dispatching the Vinson, the United States is signaling to the North Koreans that even as it focuses on Syria, it has not forgotten about them.

        Administration officials said the strike by 59 cruise missiles on Syria might have strengthened Mr. Trump's hand as he called on the Chinese to put more pressure on North Korea. Although officials noted that North Korea poses different, and in some ways more daunting, challenges than Syria, the parallel of a rogue government that possesses weapons of mass destruction was not lost on the Chinese.

        Mr. Xi told Mr. Trump during their meetings at Mar-a-Lago that he agreed that the threat posed by North Korea had reached a "very serious stage," Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said.

        Speaking on Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Mr. Tillerson expanded on what the rest of the world should take away from the missile strikes in Syria: "The message that any nation can take is if you violate international norms, if you violate international agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point, a response is likely to be undertaken."

        Mr. Tillerson continued: "In terms of North Korea, we have been very clear that our objective is a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. We have no objective to change the regime in North Korea; that is not our objective."

        North Korea, however, has stepped up its provocations. A day before Mr. Trump met with Mr. Xi, Pyongyang tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile. South Korean and American specialists said the missile tested on Wednesday, which the South Korean military said flew a mere 37 miles, was probably a modified version of either the Scud-ER or Pukguksong-2, or perhaps a new missile — even an early version of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

        Analysts have said that as North Korea was developing its first submarine-launched ballistic missile last year, it accumulated technology incrementally, with a series of tests in which projectiles flew only short distances or exploded soon after launching.

        The United States has been conducting an electronic and cyberwarfare campaign aimed at sabotaging Pyongyang's missile tests in their opening seconds. But it was impossible to determine whether that program affected the launch last week.

        Asked how close North Korea was to developing a weapon that could reach the United States, Mr. Tillerson said on ABC: "The assessments are, obviously, somewhat difficult, but clearly, he has made significant advancements in delivery systems. And that is what concerns us the most."

        Mr. Tillerson added: "The sophistication around their rocket launch programs, their sophistication around the type of fueling that they use, and they're working their way towards the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. And these are the kinds of progress that give us the greatest concerns."

        Before the summit meeting last week, Mr. Trump sought to increase pressure on China, saying that it was time for Beijing to rein in its Communist ally. In an interview with The Financial Times published on April 2, he said, "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will." But he did not say how.

        In the meetings between Mr. Xi and Mr. Trump, the Chinese made no new offers about how to deal with Mr. Kim's government, according to an American official.



        10)   Loans 'Designed to Fail': States Say Navient Preyed on Students

         APRIL 9, 2017


        Ashley Hardin dreamed of being a professional photographer — glamorous shoots, perhaps some exotic travel. So in 2006, she enrolled in the Brooks Institute of Photography and borrowed more than $150,000 to pay for what the school described as a pathway into an industry clamoring for its graduates.

        "Brooks was advertised as the most prestigious photography school on the West Coast," Ms. Hardin said. "I wanted to learn from the best of the best."

        Ms. Hardin did not realize that she had taken out high-risk private loans in pursuit of a low-paying career. But her lender, SLM Corporation, better known as Sallie Mae, knew all of that, government lawyers say — and made the loans anyway.

        In recent months, the student loan giant Navient, which was spun off from Sallie Mae in 2014 and retained nearly all of the company's loan portfolio, has come under fire for aggressive and sloppy loan collection practices, which led to a set of government lawsuits filed in January. But those accusations have overshadowed broader claims, detailed in two state lawsuits filed by the attorneys general in Illinois and Washington, that Sallie Mae engaged in predatory lending, extending billions of dollars in private loans to students like Ms. Hardin that never should have been made in the first place.

        "These loans were designed to fail," said Shannon Smith, chief of the consumer protection division at the Washington State attorney general's office.

        New details unsealed last month in the state lawsuits against Navient shed light on how Sallie Mae used private subprime loans — some of which it expected to default at rates as high as 92 percent — as a tool to build its business relationships with colleges and universities across the country. From the outset, the lender knew that many borrowers would be unable to repay, government lawyers say, but it still made the loans, ensnaring students in debt traps that have dogged them for more than a decade.

        While these risky loans were a bad deal for students, they were a boon for Sallie Mae. The private loans were — as Sallie Mae itself put it — a "baited hook" that the lender used to reel in more federally guaranteed loans, according to an internal strategy memo cited in the Illinois lawsuit.

        The attorneys general in Illinois and Washington — backed by a coalition of those in 27 other states, who participated in a three-year investigation of student lending abuses — want those private loans forgiven.

        In a pair of cases that could affect hundreds of thousands of borrowers, they have sued Navient. The lawsuits cover private subprime loans made from 2000 to 2009.

        These cases have parallels to the mortgage crisis that helped drive the American economy into recession, both in scope — borrowers in the United States owe $1.4 trillion on student loans — and in the details of the misdeeds claimed. Working together, the lenders and colleges were preying on a vital part of the American dream, the government lawyers say: the belief that higher education can help lift people toward a prosperous future.

        That was Ms. Hardin's goal. Today, she is a 33-year-old waitress in Seattle who still owes $150,000 in student loans and pays $1,395 a month, more than her monthly rent, to Navient. If the attorneys general succeed, a chunk of her debt could be erased.

        Navient, which is based in Wilmington, Del., has denied any wrongdoing and is fighting the lawsuits. It does not originate any loans itself, but when it split off from Sallie Mae, it kept most of Sallie Mae's existing loans. It collects payments from some 12 million people — about one in four student loan borrowers.

        "We have a proven track record of helping millions of Americans access and achieve the benefits of higher education," said Patricia Nash Christel, a Navient spokeswoman.

        Sallie Mae said in a statement that Navient "has accepted responsibility for all costs, expenses, losses and remediation arising from this matter."

        'Lose a Little More'

        Perhaps more than any other company, Sallie Mae is synonymous in America with student loans — and, in the years after the lending boom, crushing student debt.

        It got its start more than 30 years ago as a government-sponsored enterprise, collecting payments on loans that were backed by a federal guarantee. By the mid-2000s, Sallie Mae had become a for-profit, publicly traded company no longer tied to the government, although it still made most of its money by originating federally guaranteed student loans.

        But the company also had a sideline in private loans. Those came with higher interest rates and fewer protections for borrowers than the federal loans. And if the borrowers stopped paying, Sallie Mae was stuck with the loss.

        Private loans were often profitable for the company, but a portion of them — the riskiest part of Sallie Mae's portfolio — were not. The company made subprime loans to students who would not otherwise qualify, including borrowers with poor credit who took out loans to attend schools with high dropout rates.

        Those subprime loans were a bargaining chip, the government lawyers said, a tool Sallie Mae used to build relationships with schools so that the company could make more federal loans to their students. The federal loans were the real prize, because they came with a built-in safety net: If a borrower defaulted, the government would step in and reimburse the lender for most of its losses.

        Sallie Mae could afford to absorb the losses from its private loan business as, essentially, a marketing cost of snagging more lucrative loans. In a 2007 internal note, quoted in Illinois's lawsuit, Sallie Mae described its strategy of using subprime loans to "win school deals and secure F.F.E.L.P. and standard private volume," a reference to the Federal Family Education Loan program that generated most of the company's profits.

        Defaults on one set of subprime loan products were between 50 and 92 percent every year from 2000 to 2007, according to Illinois's lawsuit. Students did not know about the risk, the state said in its lawsuit, but "this fact was no secret to Sallie Mae."

        Those defaults did not discourage Sallie Mae, the lawsuits show. From 2000 to 2006, Sallie Mae increased the number of borrowers with one kind of troubled loan to 43,000 from 165, an increase of some 26,000 percent.

        Sallie Mae was not the only one with an incentive. The schools themselves often had a reason to push private loans.

        Under Education Department rules, no more than 90 percent of a school's tuition payments can come from federal funding. That means at least 10 percent must come from private sources. At for-profit schools, which rely heavily on federal lending, private loans — even ones to borrowers likely to default — were crucial for staying under the threshold.

        Some schools made deals with Sallie Mae to subsidize its losses, regulatory filings show. The owner of the Brooks Institute of Photography, Career Education Corporation, once one of the largest for-profit chains in the country, had a typical arrangement: From 2002 to 2006, it agreed to repay 20 percent of Sallie Mae's losses. In 2007, it increased its subsidy to 25 percent.

        Early on, Career Education treated loan losses as a routine business expense. On an earnings call in August 2006 — the same month that Ms. Hardin began her studies — an analyst suggested that the company should "be willing to lose a little more money on some of these students to get them in the door," according to a transcript of the call.

        The company's chief financial officer replied, "That's absolutely our intent."

        But the next year, the tide turned. Government investigations revealed that financial aid officers had been accepting kickbacks, junkets and even stock options in return for steering students to certain lenders. A regulatory crackdown followed, just as the economy plunged into recession.

        As defaults piled up and heads rolled — Sallie Mae's chief executive stepped down — Sallie Mae abandoned its riskiest practices. In early 2008, the company ended its subprime lending and told at least seven major operators of for-profit schools, including Career Education, that it would stop making private loans to many of their students.

        In 2014, Sallie Mae and Navient broke apart, and Navient retained the troubled loans the company had originated years earlier.

        But for the students, containing the damage was not so easy.

        Lenders can hound students for payments on their debt, or sell it to a collection firm, long after they have written the loan off as soured debt. And because student loans cannot typically be wiped away through bankruptcy, many borrowers have no choice but to continue chipping away at their balance, no matter how dire their financial situation.

        Ms. Christel, Navient's spokeswoman, defended the company's lending practices as typical for the time.

        "Hindsight is always 20/20," she said. "We have called for tools to improve upfront borrowing decisions, and we also support bankruptcy reform that would allow struggling borrowers the option to discharge federal and private student loans in bankruptcy after a good-faith effort to repay."

        Career Education did not respond to requests for comment.

        Decades of Debt

        The school that Tom Panzica, 42, attended shut down nine years ago, but he is still carrying $6,000 in debt for a degree that turned out to be useless. Every month, he sends $100 to Navient.

        Mr. Panzica, a firefighter in Chicago, enrolled in Medical Careers Institute to learn sonography. But the school offered no clinical training — and it neglected to tell its students that without that training, they would not be allowed to take the industry's licensing exam.

        After Mr. Panzica graduated, he discovered that he had none of the qualifications needed to land a job.

        Medical Careers closed in 2008, and a group of students sued, accusing it of making false claims. The case was settled. Mr. Panzica received around $3,000, less than half of what he had borrowed from Sallie Mae to pay his tuition.

        Several students, including Mr. Panzica, then sued Sallie Mae, arguing that it was unfair to expect repayment on a loan made for fraudulent goods. The case went to arbitration, where the students lost.

        Students in California also lost a lawsuit against Sallie Mae. They had sought the dismissal of loans they took out to attend California Culinary Academy, a Le Cordon Bleu affiliate also owned by Career Education, which paid $42 million to settle a class-action claim that it inflated graduation and job-placement rates. (When Career Education shut down its Le Cordon Bleu culinary schools in 2015, the food-world celebrity Alton Brown posted his approval on Twitter, calling the chain "a culinary puppy mill.")

        A judge tossed out the case, and an appeals court panel upheld the decision. One of the panel's three judges dissented, writing that the complaint plausibly suggested that Sallie Mae "knew what C.C.A. was up to."

        For Adam Wolf, the lawyer who represented the students, the decision still rankles. "Sallie Mae facilitated the fraud," Mr. Wolf said.

        Arbitration clauses, buried in the fine print of loan contracts, have largely thwarted students' legal challenges. But the attorneys general are not bound by those clauses. Their cases may be the only avenue left for borrowers to get relief, said Edward X. Clinton Jr., the lawyer who represented Mr. Panzica.

        Borrowers who take out federal loans to attend schools that misled them can apply to have their loans forgiven, but private loans lack that protection.

        To Ms. Hardin, that is deeply frustrating. After eight years of payments, her balance has dropped by only $1,000.

        "I've cried on the phone several times," Ms. Hardin said of her regular fights with Navient.

        When her husband, a chef, saw that Washington's attorney general had sued Navient, he asked Ms. Hardin what she would do if the case somehow led to her loans being wiped away.

        Again, she teared up. Since graduating, she has never had any spare cash to travel, or save or plan any further than the next month's loan bill.

        "We want to open a sandwich shop," Ms. Hardin said. "The money could be going toward that."



        11)  Syria Airstrikes Instantly Added Nearly $5 Billion to Missile-Makers' Stock Value

        Jen Wieczner, Apr 07, 2017


        Raytheon stock surged Friday morning, after 59 of the company's Tomahawk missiles were used to strike Syria in Donald Trump's first major military operation as President.

        Trump ordered the airstrike on the Syrian government Thursday night in retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians earlier this week that killed as many as 100 people. The U.S. blamed the attack on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

        The Tomahawk missile used in the strike is made by Raytheon (RTN, +0.02%), whose stock opened 2.5% higher Friday, adding more than $1 billion to the defense contractor's market capitalization.

        The shares of other missile and weapons manufacturers, including Boeing (BA, +0.08%)Lockheed Martin (LMT, -0.08%)Northrop Grumman(NOC, -0.12%) and General Dynamics (GD, -0.06%), each rose as much as 1%, collectively gaining nearly $5 billion in market value as soon as they began trading, even as the broader market fell.

        (All major U.S. stock market indexes dropped slightly in morning trading after the release of the weakest monthly jobs report in almost a year, which increased doubts about the strength of the American economy.)

        The technology and equipment of the defense companies, which all have lucrative contracts with the U.S. government, was likely also used in Trump's airstrikes on Syria. Lockheed Martin, for example, makes the Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System, one part of a three-pronged system needed to launch the missile; the product calculates the trajectory from a ship to the target. General Dynamics also makes technology used to fire Tomahawk missiles.

        Boeing, meanwhile, makes other types of cruise missiles.

        Defense contractor stocks have risen in the months since Trump was elected, spurred by his promises of a "historic" increase in U.S. military spending. The budget Trump proposed last month includes an additional $52 billion for the Department of Defense. Boeing stock has gained nearly 21% since the election, while General Dynamics stock is up 14% over the same period. (The S&P 500 has risen roughly 11% since election day.)



        12)  Trump's Company Settles Lawsuit With a Second Celebrity Chef

        APRIL 10, 2017




        The Trump Organization announced on Monday, for the second time in four days, that it had settled a lawsuit with a celebrity chef who had backed out of plans to build a restaurant in its luxury hotel in Washington.

        The chefs — Geoffrey Zakarian, whose settlement was announced Monday, and José Andrés, whose announcement came Friday — had both abandoned plans to set up shop in the Trump International Hotel, in Washington's Old Post Office building, shortly after President Trump began his campaign in 2015. In response, Mr. Trump sued both.

        In backing off his plans to open a restaurant in the hotel, Mr. Zakarian, who noted that more than half his team was Hispanic, said in a written statement that Mr. Trump's comments about some Mexican immigrants' being rapists and drug dealers "do not in any way align with my personal core values." Mr. Andrés had said earlier that Mr. Trump's comments made "it impossible for my company and I to move forward."

        Mr. Andrés, who was born in Spain, became an American citizen in 2013. Mr. Zakarian, who was born in the United States, has Armenian and Polish ancestry.

        The two settlement announcements were made in joint statements among the parties and included no details of the conditions.

        "After an intense, two-year legal battle, we are pleased we were able to amicably resolve our differences and wish Geoffrey continued success," Donald Trump Jr., one of two trustees with broad legal authority over President Trump's assets, said in the Monday statement.

        Mr. Zakarian "also acknowledged his satisfaction with the resolution," according to the statement. Both he and Donald Trump Jr. plugged their own projects.

        The New York real estate developer Louis Ceruzzi, who had backed Mr. Zakarian's restaurant, said he was glad "to put this matter behind us."

        In the Friday statement, Mr. Andrés said he was "excited" about the prospect of working with the Trump Organization on programs to benefit the community.

        "I am pleased that we were able to resolve our differences and move forward cooperatively, as friends," he said.












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