This just in!

Good News for Mumia Abu-Jamal

May 1, 2017: News sent today from Rachel Wolkenstein:

Judge Tucker granted discovery to Mumia Abu-Jamal pursuant to his claims brought under Williams v Pennsylvania that he was denied due process because his PA Supreme Court appeals from 1998-2008 were decided by Ronald Castille, who had previously been the District Attorney during Mumia's 1988 appeal from his conviction and death sentence, as well as having been a senior assistant district attorney during Mumia's trial.

The DA is given 30 days—until May 30, 2017—to produce all records and memos regarding Mumia's case, pre-trial, trial, post-trial and direct appeal proceedings between Castille and his staff and any public statement he made about it. Then Mumia has 15 days after receiving this discovery to file amendments to his PCRA petition.

This date of this order is April 28, but it was docketed today, May 1, 2017.

This is a critical and essential step forward!


Dear Friend,

For the first time- a court has ordered the Philadelphia DA to turn over evidence and open their files in Mumia's appeal.   In a complacency shattering blow, the District Attorney's office is finally being held to account.  Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court ordered the DA to produce all of the documents relevant to former PA Supreme Court Justice's role in the case. Castille was first a supervisory ADA during Mumia's trial, then District Attorney, and finally as a judge he sat on Mumia's appeals to the PA Supreme Court. 

This broad discovery order follows just days after the arguments in court by Christina Swarns, Esq. of the NAACP LDF, and Judith Ritter, Esq. of Widner Univ.

During that hearing, Swarns made it clear that the District Attorney's practice of lying to the appellate courts would not be tolerated and had been specifically exposed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the Terrence Williams case, which highlights Ronald Castile's conflict, the Supreme Court in no uncertain terms excoriated the office for failing to disclose crucial evidence.  Evidence the office hid for years.  This is an opportunity to begin to unravel the decades long police and prosecutorial corruption that has plagued Mumia's quest for justice.  

In prison for over thirty six years Mumia Abu-Jamal has maintained his innocence in the death of Philadelphia Police officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9th 1981.  


"The Commonwealth  must  produce  any  and  all  documents  or  records  in  the  possession  or  control  of  the Philadelphia  District  Attorney's  Office   showing   former   District   Attorney   Ronald   Castille's   personal   involvement   in the  above-captioned  case  ... and public statements during and after his tenure as District Attorney of Philadelphia."

It is important to note that the history of the District Attorney's office in delaying and appealing to prevent exposure of prosecutorial misconduct and the resulting justice.  At every turn, there will be attempts to limit Mumia's access to the courts and release.   it is past time for justice in this case.  

Noelle Hanrahan, P.I.

Prison Radio is a 501c3 project of the Redwood Justice Fund. We record and broadcast the voices of prisoners, centering their analyses and experiences in the movements against mass incarceration and state repression. If you support our work, please join us.

www.prisonradio.org   |   info@prisonradio.org   |   415-706-5222

Thank you for being a part of this work! 


Mumia's Birth-Day Celebration Success In SF!

Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal raised over $2,000 to support Mumia and his lawyers at a dinner event to celebrate Mumia's birthday on April 24th. Held at Carole Seligman's house in San Francisco and sponsored by the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, this well-attended event was supposed to raise money for the lawyers who have been fighting to get the DOC to provide Mumia the necessary medication to cure his Hepatitis-C infection, and it was a success.

We raised $2,085 before and during Monday's birthday dinner. Another $125.00 has come in after. $1500.00 was sent to Robert Boyle, the pro-bono lawyer who, with Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center--and with the support of Mumia's friends like you--has succeeded in getting Mumia the treatment he needs. $300 was sent to Mumia's prison commissary fund. That is the monthly maximum from one person. The balance will be sent to Mumia in May.

A Sweet and Sour Victory... 

As of a few weeks ago, Mumia is now receiving the one drug--the only sure cure for Hep-C--which the prison system has been refusing him and thousands of others like him for years. That is a victory, but it came with a down side: the long delay in treatment has now meant that Mumia has cirrhosis of the liver, which can lead to cancer. Still, the drug appears to be working, and the court victory should set a positive precedent for other afflicted prisoners.

...And a New Struggle for Mumia's Freedom!

A hearing has been held, also on April 24th, on Mumia's claim for new rights of appeal under a recent US Supreme Court decision known as Williams v Pennsylvania. This decision bars a former prosecutor in any case from later sitting in judgement in an appeals hearing that deals with the same case. The judge in the Williams case was the same actor--Ronald Castille--who sat in judgement over all of Mumia's appeals before the PA Supreme Court, after participating in Mumia's frame-up conviction in 1982!

Mumia's lawyers argued that the recent Williams v PA decision barring a prosecutor who becomes a judge from participating in rulings on the same defendant he prosecuted previously certainly applies to Mumia's case. The current DA argued that the case didn't apply for reasons of timeliness and jurisdiction--but nothing about the substantive question of judicial impartiality! The judge in the April 24th hearing did not make a decision, but took the question "under advisement."  We don't know how the judge will rule. We must keep up and accelerate all our work for Mumia's freedom!

Attend Memorial Events for Lynne Stewart

The next events for Mumia in the Bay Area are the May 6 and 7 Memorial meetings for Lynne Stewart. Here are the details:


a true peoples' lawyer, who was railroaded to prison

for helping a client, and then denied compassionate

release (for her cancer) for way too long:

SAN FRANCISCO: 7 PM, Sat. May 6, @ 518 Valencia St.

Near 16th St BART, donation requested. 510 268-9429

OAKLAND: Sun. May 7, 7PM@ Humanist Hall, 390 27th St.

between Broadway and Telegraph, donation requested.

510 268-9429

This message from: Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal


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

Honoring our Heroes and Martyrs...

Celebrating the Life of People's Attorney  Lynne Stewart

Renewing the Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal*


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

so Mumia Abu-Jamal via Skype

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

o Boots Riley of The Coup

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

Special remarks from...

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

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

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

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

s Dennis Bernstein, Host, KPFA's Flashpoints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






On International Conscientious Objectors' Day, Celebrate the 11th Annual

11:30 A.M. Monday, May 15, 2017

  • Sponsored by City of Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission
  • Endorsed by War Resisters League-West and Courage to Resist

Peace Flag raising ceremony, first at Civic Center flagpole at 2180 Milvia Street, corner of Allston Way and then at the flagpole at MLK, Jr. Civic Center Park, 2151 MLK, Jr. Way (between Center Street and Allston Way, across from Old City Hall), Berkeley Read more


This evening...

Free showing of the drone documentary "National Bird"
Friday, April 28, 7:45px at the Proxy outdoor movie theater

432 Octavia Blvd., at Hayes Street, San Francisco

This weekend...
Dr. King's Speech on Viet Nam War of April 4, 1967 - Full Reading
Sunday, April 30, 2 pm at Yerba Buena Gardens

Mission Street, between 3rd and 4th Streets

Presented by Veterans for Peace, Chapter 69, San Francisco

website redesign

We've completely redesigned, and relaunched, our website for a great reading experience on either desktop or mobile. 

pdf newsletter


484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



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





MEDIA ADVISORYMedia contact: Morgan McLeod, (202) 628-0871




Washington, D.C.— Despite recent political support for criminal justice reform in most states, the number of people serving life sentences has nearly quintupled since 1984. 

A new report by The Sentencing Project finds a record number of people serving life with parole, life without parole, and virtual life sentences of 50 years or more, equaling one of every seven people behind bars. 

Eight states  Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Utah  have at least one of every five prisoners serving a life or de facto life sentence in prison. 

The Sentencing Project will host an online press conference to discuss its report Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences, on Wednesday, May 3rd at 11:00 a.m. EDT.   

Press Conference Details

WHAT: Online press conference hosted by The Sentencing Project regarding the release of its new report examining life and long-term sentences in the United States. REGISTER HERE to participate. The call-in information and conference link will be sent via email.  


Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. EDT 


  • Ashley Nellis, The Sentencing Project's senior research analyst and author of Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences
  • Evans Ray, whose life without parole sentence was commuted in 2016 by President Obama
  • Steve Zeidman, City University of New York law professor and counsel for Judith Clark—a New York prisoner who received a 75 year to life sentence in 1983

The full report will be available to press on Wednesday morning via email.

Founded in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.




Solidarity with the Jacksonville Five! Donate for bail and defense

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Committee to Stop FBI Repression (stopfbi.net)

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

Please donate to the Jacksonville Five bail and defense fund!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Our mailing address is:

Committee to Stop FBI Repression

PO Box 14183

MinneapolisMN  55414

Add us to your address book



Please call to support Siddique Abdullah Hasan on hunger strike!

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

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

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

Contact for interviews:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






100,000 protest in San Francisco, CA

Pictures From Women's
Marches on Every Continent



Dear Friend,

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) is now in Contempt of Court

On January 3, 2017, Federal District Court Judge Robert Mariani ordered the DOC to treat Mumia with the hepatitis C cure within 21 days.

But on January 7, prison officials formally denied Mumia's grievances asking for the cure. This is after being informed twice by the court that denying treatment is unconstitutional.

John Wetzel, Secretary of the PA DOC, is refusing to implement the January 3rd Federal Court Order requiring the DOC to treat Mumia within 21 days. Their time has run out to provide Mumia with hepatitis C cure!

Mumia is just one of over 6,000 incarcerated people in the PA DOC at risk with active and chronic Hepatitis C. Left untreated, 7-9% of people infected with chronic hep C get liver cancer every year.  

We need your help to force the DOC to stop its cruel and unusual punishment of over 6,000 people in prison with chronic hepatitis C. Click here for a listing of numbers to call today!

Water Crisis in the Prison

Drinking water remains severely contaminated at the prison in which Mumia and 2,500 others are held, SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, PA. Mumia filed a grievance regarding the undrinkable water: read it here.

We are asking you to call the prison now to demand clean drinking water and hepatitis C treatment now! 

Protest Drinking Water Contamination Rally
From 4-6pm on Thursday, Feb 9
Where: Governor's Office- 200 South Broad St, Philadelphia

We're sending our mailing to you, including this brilliant poster by incarcerated artist Kevin Rashid Johnson. Keep an eye out it next week!

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight, we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director

About the recently appealed Court victory:

On January 3rd, a federal court granted Mumia Abu-Jamal's petition for immediate and effective treatment for his Hepatitis-C infection, which has hitherto been denied him. The judge struck down Pennsylvania's protocols as "deliberate indifference to serious medical need."

This is a rare and important win for innocent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal in a court system that has routinely subjected him to the "Mumia exception," i.e., a refusal of justice despite court precedents in his favor. Thousands of Hep-C-infected prisoners throughout Pennsylvania and the US stand to benefit from this decision, provided it is upheld. 

But, it is up to us to make sure that this decision is not over-turned on appeal--something the State of Pennsylvania will most likely seek.

Hundreds demonstrated in both Philadelphia and Oakland on December 9th to demand both this Hep-C treatment for prisoners, and "Free Mumia Now!" In Oakland, the December 9th Free Mumia Coalition rallied in downtown and then marched on the OPD headquarters. The Coalition brought over two dozen groups together to reignite the movement to free Mumia; and now we need your support to expand and build for more actions in this new, and likely very dangerous year for political prisoners. 


Protect Kevin "Rashid" Johnson from Prison Repression!


WHEN: Anytime
WHAT: Protect imprisoned activist-journalist Kevin "Rashid" Johnson
FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1794902884117144/

On December 21, 2016, Kevin "Rashid" Johnson was the victim of an
assault by guards at the Clements Unit where he is currently being held,
just outside Amarillo, Texas. Rashid was sprayed with OC pepper gas
while handcuffed in his cell, and then left in the contaminated cell for
hours with no possibility to shower and no access to fresh air. It was
in fact days before he was supplied with new sheets or clothes (his bed
was covered with the toxic OC residue), and to this day his cell has not
been properly decontaminated.

This assault came on the heels of another serious move against Rashid,
as guards followed up on threats to confiscate all of his property – not
only files required for legal matters, but also art supplies, cups to
drink water out of, and food he had recently purchased from the
commissary. The guards in question were working under the direction of
Captain Patricia Flowers, who had previously told Rashid that she
intended to seize all of his personal belongings as retaliation for his
writings about mistreatment of prisoners, up to and including assaults
and purposeful medical negligence that have led to numerous deaths in
custody. Specifically, Rashid's writings have called attention to the
deaths of Christopher Woolverton, Joseph Comeaux, and Alton Rodgers, and
he has been contacted by lawyers litigating on behalf of the families of
at least two of these men.

As a journalist and activist literally embedded within the bowels of the
world's largest prison system, Rashid relies on his files and notes for
correspondence, legal matters, and his various news reports.
Furthermore, Rashid is a self-taught artist of considerable talent (his
work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and books);
needless to say, the guards were also instructed to seize his art
materials and the drawings he was working on.

(For a more complete description of Rashid's ordeal on and following
December 21, see his recent article "Bound and Gassed: My Reward for
Exposing Abuses and Killings of Texas Prisoners" at

Particularly worrisome, is the fact that the abuse currently directed
against Rashid is almost a carbon-copy of what was directed against
Joseph Comeaux in 2013, who was eventually even denied urgently needed
medical care. Comeaux died shortly thereafter.

This is the time to step up and take action to protect Rashid; and the
only protection we can provide, from the outside, is to make sure prison
authorities know that we are watching. Whether you have read his
articles about prison conditions, his political or philosophical
polemics (and whether you agreed with him or not!), or just appreciate
his artwork – even if this is the first you are hearing about Rashid –
we need you to step up and make a few phone calls and send some emails.
When doing so, let officials know you are contacting them about Kevin
Johnson, ID #1859887, and the incident in which he was gassed and his
property confiscated on December 21, 2016. The officials to contact are:

Warden Kevin Foley
Clements Unit
telephone: (806) 381-7080 (you will reach the general switchboard; ask
to speak to the warden's office)

Tell Warden Foley that you have heard of the gas attack on Rashid.
Specific demands you can make:

* That Kevin Johnson's property be returned to him

* That Kevin Johnson's cell be thoroughly decontaminated

* That Captain Patricia Flowers, Lieutenant Crystal Turner, Lieutenant
Arleen Waak, and Corrections Officer Andrew Leonard be sanctioned for
targeting Kevin Johnson for retaliation for his writings

* That measures be taken to ensure that whistleblowers amongst staff and
the prisoner population not be targeted for any reprisals from guards or
other authorities. (This is important because at least one guard and
several prisoners have signed statements asserting that Rashid was left
in his gassed cell for hours, and that his property should not have been

Try to be polite, while expressing how concerned you are for Kevin
Johnson's safety. You will almost certainly be told that because other
people have already called and there is an ongoing investigation – or
else, because you are not a member of his family -- that you cannot be
given any information. Say that you understand, but that you still wish
to have your concerns noted, and that you want the prison to know that
you will be keeping track of what happens to Mr Johnson.

The following other authorities should also be contacted. These bodies
may claim they are unable to directly intervene, however we know that by
creating a situation where they are receiving complaints, they will
eventually contact other authorities who can intervene to see what the
fuss is all about. So it's important to get on their cases too:

TDCJ Ombudsman: ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov

The Inspector General:  512-671-2480

Let these "watchdogs" know you are concerned that Kevin Johnson #1859887
was the victim of a gas attack in Clements Unit on December 21, 2016.
Numerous witnesses have signed statements confirming that he was
handcuffed, in his cell, and not threatening anyone at the time he was
gassed. Furthermore, he was not allowed to shower for hours, and his
cell was never properly decontaminated, so that he was still suffering
the effects of the gas days later. It is also essential to mention that
his property was improperly confiscated, and that he had previously been
threatened with having this happen as retaliation for his writing about
prison conditions. Kevin Johnson's property must be returned!

Finally, complaints should also be directed to the director of the VA
DOC Harold Clarke and the VA DOC's Interstate Compact Supervisor, Terry
Glenn. This is because Rashid is in fact a Virginia prisoner, who has
been exiled from Virginia under something called the Interstate Compact,
which is used by some states as a way to be rid of activist prisoners,
while at the same time separating them from their families and
supporters. Please contact:

VADOC Director, Harold Clarke

Interstate Compact director, Terry Glenn

Let them know that you are phoning about Kevin Johnson, a Virginia
prisoner who has been sent to Texas under the Interstate Compact. His
Texas ID # is 1859887 however his Virginia ID # is 1007485. Inform them
that Mr Johnson has been gassed by guards and has had his property
seized as retaliation for his writing about prison conditions. These are
serious legal and human rights violations, and even though they occurred
in Texas, the Virginia Department of Corrections is responsible as Mr
Johnson is a Virginia prisoner. Despite the fact that they may ask you
who you are, and how you know about this, and for your contact
information, they will likely simply conclude by saying that they will
not be getting back to you. Nonetheless, it is worth urging them to
contact Texas officials about this matter.

It is good to call whenever you are able. However, in order to maximize
our impact, for those who can, we are suggesting that people make their
phone calls on Thursday, January 5.

And at the same time, please take a moment to sign the online petition
to support Rashid, up at the Roots Action website:

Rashid has taken considerable risks in reporting on the abuse he
witnesses at the Clements Unit, just as he has at other prisons. Indeed,
he has continued to report on the violence and medical neglect to which
prisoners are subjected, despite threats from prison staff. If we, as a
movement, are serious about working to resist and eventually abolish the
U.S. prison system, we must do all we can to assist and protect those
like Rashid who take it upon themselves to stand up and speak out. As
Ojore Lutalo once put it, "Any movement that does not support their
political internees ... is a sham movement."


To learn more about Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, the abuses in the Texas
prison system, as well as his work in founding and leading the New
Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter, see his website




Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:


















Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw Kindle Edition

by Kevin Rashid Johnson (Author), Tom Big Warrior (Introduction), Russell Maroon Shoatz(Introduction)




Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser



Today is the 406th day that Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan

languishes in prison doing felony time for a misdemeanor crime he did not

commit. Today is also the day that Robert McKay, a spokesperson for the

Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations

representatives about the plight of Rev. Pinkney at a hearing held in

Chicago. The hearing was called in order to shed light upon the

mistreatment of African-Americans in the United States and put it on an

international stage. And yet as the UN representatives and audience heard

of the injustices in the Pinkney case many gasped in disbelief and asked

with frowns on their faces, "how is this possible?" But disbelief quickly

disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had

when they first heard of Flint and we all know what happened in Flint. FREE


Please send letters to:

Marquette Branch Prison

Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671

1960 US Hwy 41 South

Marquette, MI 49855

Please donate at http://bhbanco.org (Donate button) or send checks to BANCO:

c/o Dorothy Pinkney

1940 Union St.

Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Contributions for Rev. Pinkney's defense can be sent to BANCO at Mrs Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Or you can donate on-line at bhbanco.org.



State Seeks to Remove Innocent PA Lifer's Attorney! Free Corey Walker!

The PA Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed legal action to remove Corey Walker's attorney, Rachel Wolkenstein, in November 2014. On Tuesday, February 9, 2016 the evidentiary hearing to terminate Wolkenstein as Corey Walker's pro hac vice lawyer continues before Judge Lawrence Clark of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg, PA.

Walker, assisted by Wolkenstein, filed three sets of legal papers over five months in 2014 with new evidence of Walker's innocence and that the prosecution and police deliberately used false evidence to convict him of murder. Two weeks after Wolkenstein was granted pro hac vice status, the OAG moved against her and Walker.

The OAG claims that Wolkenstein's political views and prior legal representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal and courtroom arrest by the notorious Judge Albert Sabo makes it "intolerable" for her to represent Corey Walker in the courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Over the past fifteen months the OAG has effectively stopped any judicial action on the legal challenges of Corey Walker and his former co-defendant, Lorenzo Johnson against their convictions and sentences to life imprisonment without parole while it proceeds in its attempts to remove Wolkenstein.

This is retaliation against Corey Walker who is innocent and framed. Walker and his attorney won't stop until they thoroughly expose the police corruption and deliberate presentation of false evidence to convict Corey Walker and win his freedom.

This outrageous attack on Corey Walker's fundamental right to his lawyer of choice and challenge his conviction must cease. The evidence of his innocence and deliberate prosecutorial frame up was suppressed for almost twenty years. Corey Walker must be freed!

Read: Jim Crow Justice – The Frame-up Of Corey Walker by Charles Brover

Go to FreeCoreyWalker.org to provide help and get more information.



Major Battles On

For over 31 years, Major Tillery has been a prisoner of the State.

Despite that extraordinary fact, he continues his battles, both in the prison for his health, and in the courts for his freedom.

Several weeks ago, Tillery filed a direct challenge to his criminal conviction, by arguing that a so-called "secret witness" was, in fact, a paid police informant who was given a get-out-of-jail-free card if he testified against Tillery.

Remember I mentioned, "paid?"

Well, yes--the witness was 'paid'--but not in dollars. He was paid in sex!

In the spring of 1984, Robert Mickens was facing decades in prison on rape and robbery charges. After he testified against Tillery, however, his 25-year sentence became 5 years: probation!

And before he testified he was given an hour and a ½ private visit with his girlfriend--at the Homicide Squad room at the Police Roundhouse. (Another such witness was given another sweetheart deal--lie on Major, and get off!)

To a prisoner, some things are more important than money. Like sex!

In a verified document written in April, 2016, Mickens declares that he lied at trial, after being coached by the DAs and detectives on the case.

He lied to get out of jail--and because he could get with his girl.

Other men have done more for less.

Major's 58-page Petition is a time machine back into a practice that was once common in Philadelphia.

In the 1980s and '90s, the Police Roundhouse had become a whorehouse.

Major, now facing serious health challenges from his hepatitis C infection, stubborn skin rashes, and dangerous intestinal disorders, is still battling.

And the fight ain't over.

[©'16 MAJ  6/29/16]

Major Tillery Needs Your Help and Support

Major Tillery is an innocent man. There was no evidence against Major Tillery for the 1976 poolroom shootings that left one man dead and another wounded. The surviving victim gave a statement to homicide detectives naming others—not Tillery or his co-defendant—as the shooters. Major wasn't charged until 1980, he was tried in 1985.

The only evidence at trial came from these jailhouse informants who were given sexual favors and plea deals for dozens of pending felonies for lying against Major Tillery. Both witnesses now declare their testimony was manufactured by the police and prosecution. Neither witness had personal knowledge of the shooting.

This is a case of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption that goes to the deepest levels of rot in the Philadelphia criminal injustice system. Major Tillery deserves not just a new trial, but dismissal of the charges against him and his freedom from prison.

It cost a lot of money for Major Tillery to be able to file his new pro se PCRA petition and continue investigation to get more evidence of the state misconduct. He needs help to get lawyers to make sure this case is not ignored. Please contribute, now.


    Financial Support: Tillery's investigation is ongoing, to get this case filed has been costly and he needs funds for a legal team to fight this to his freedom!

    Go to JPay.com;

    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney

    Seth Williams:

    Free Major Tillery! He is an innocent man, framed by police and and prosecution.

    Call: 215-686-8711 or

    Write to:

    Major Tillery AM9786

    SCI Frackville

    1111 Altamont Blvd.

    Frackville, PA 17931

      For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot


      Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com



      Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

      Sign the Petition:


      Urge Gov. Jerry Brown to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence. Cooper has always maintained his innocence of the 1983 quadruple murder of which he was convicted. In 2009, five federal judges signed a dissenting opinion warning that the State of California "may be about to execute an innocent man." Having exhausted his appeals in the US courts, Kevin Cooper's lawyers have turned to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to seek remedy for what they maintain is his wrongful conviction, and the inadequate trial representation, prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination which have marked the case. Amnesty International opposes all executions, unconditionally.

      "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." - Judge William A. Fletcher, 2009 dissenting opinion on Kevin Cooper's case

      Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for more than thirty years.

      In 1985, Cooper was convicted of the murder of a family and their house guest in Chino Hills. Sentenced to death, Cooper's trial took place in an atmosphere of racial hatred — for example, an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the N*****!" was hung outside the venue of his preliminary hearing.

      Take action to see that Kevin Cooper's death sentence is commuted immediately.

      Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

      Following his trial, five federal judges said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing."

      Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.

      Tell California authorities: The death penalty carries the risk of irrevocable error. Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted.

      In 2009, Cooper came just eight hours shy of being executed for a crime that he may not have committed. Stand with me today in reminding the state of California that the death penalty is irreversible — Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted immediately.

      In solidarity,

      James Clark
      Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
      Amnesty International USA

        Kevin Cooper: An Innocent Victim of Racist Frame-Up - from the Fact Sheet at: www.freekevincooper.org

        Kevin Cooper is an African-American man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 for the gruesome murders of a white family in Chino Hills, California: Doug and Peggy Ryen and their daughter Jessica and their house- guest Christopher Hughes. The Ryens' 8 year old son Josh, also attacked, was left for dead but survived.

        Convicted in an atmosphere of racial hatred in San Bernardino County CA, Kevin Cooper remains under a threat of imminent execution in San Quentin.  He has never received a fair hearing on his claim of innocence.  In a dissenting opinion in 2009, five federal judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals signed a 82 page dissenting opinion that begins: "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." 565 F.3d 581.

        There is significant evidence that exonerates Mr. Cooper and points toward other suspects:

          The coroner who investigated the Ryen murders concluded that the murders took four minutes at most and that the murder weapons were a hatchet, a long knife, an ice pick and perhaps a second knife. How could a single person, in four or fewer minutes, wield three or four weapons, and inflict over 140 wounds on five people, two of whom were adults (including a 200 pound ex-marine) who had loaded weapons near their bedsides?

          The sole surviving victim of the murders, Josh Ryen, told police and hospital staff within hours of the murders that the culprits were "three white men." Josh Ryen repeated this statement in the days following the crimes. When he twice saw Mr. Cooper's picture on TV as the suspected attacker, Josh Ryen said "that's not the man who did it."

          Josh Ryen's description of the killers was corroborated by two witnesses who were driving near the Ryens' home the night of the murders. They reported seeing three white men in a station wagon matching the description of the Ryens' car speeding away from the direction of the Ryens' home.

          These descriptions were corroborated by testimony of several employees and patrons of a bar close to the Ryens' home, who saw three white men enter the bar around midnight the night of the murders, two of whom were covered in blood, and one of whom was wearing coveralls.

          The identity of the real killers was further corroborated by a woman who, shortly after the murders were discovered, alerted the sheriff's department that her boyfriend, a convicted murderer, left blood-spattered coveralls at her home the night of the murders. She also reported that her boyfriend had been wearing a tan t-shirt matching a tan t-shirt with Doug Ryen's blood on it recovered near the bar. She also reported that her boyfriend owned a hatchet matching the one recovered near the scene of the crime, which she noted was missing in the days following the murders; it never reappeared; further, her sister saw that boyfriend and two other white men in a vehicle that could have been the Ryens' car on the night of the murders.

        Lacking a motive to ascribe to Mr. Cooper for the crimes, the prosecution claimed that Mr. Cooper, who had earlier walked away from custody at a minimum security prison, stole the Ryens' car to escape to Mexico. But the Ryens had left the keys in both their cars (which were parked in the driveway), so there was no need to kill them to steal their car. The prosecution also claimed that Mr. Cooper needed money, but money and credit cards were found untouched and in plain sight at the murder scene.

        The jury in 1985 deliberated for seven days before finding Mr. Cooper guilty. One juror later said that if there had been one less piece of evidence, the jury would not have voted to convict.

        The evidence the prosecution presented at trial tying Mr. Cooper to the crime scene has all been discredited…         (Continue reading this document at: http://www.savekevincooper.org/_new_freekevincooperdotorg/TEST/Scripts/DataLibraries/upload/KC_FactSheet_2014.pdf)

             This message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. July 2015




        Sign the Petition:


        Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:

        Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt. Eighty-six percent of that money is owed to the United States government. This is a crushing burden for more than 40 million Americans and their families.

        I urge you to take immediate action to forgive all student debt, public and private.

        American Federation of Teachers

        Campaign for America's Future

        Courage Campaign

        Daily Kos

        Democracy for America


        Project Springboard

        RH Reality Check


        Student Debt Crisis

        The Nation

        Working Families



        Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

        Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

        Dear Supporters and Friends,

        Show your support for Lorenzo by wearing one of our beautiful new campaign t-shirts! If you donate $20 (or more!) to the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson, we will send you a t-shirt, while supplies last. Make sure to note your size and shipping address in the comment section on PayPal, or to include this information with a check.

        Here is a message from Lorenzo's wife, Tazza Salvatto:

        My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

        Lorenzo Johnson is a son, husband, father and brother. His injustice has been a continued nightmare for our family. Words cant explain our constant pain, I wish it on no one. Not even the people responsible for his injustice. 

        This is about an innocent man who has spent 20 years and counting in prison. The sad thing is Lorenzo's prosecution knew he was innocent from day one. These are the same people society relies on to protect us.

        Not only have these prosecutors withheld evidence of my husbands innocence by NEVER turning over crucial evidence to his defense prior to trial. Now that Lorenzo's innocence has been revealed, the prosecution refuses to do the right thing. Instead they are "slow walking" his appeal and continuing their malicious prosecution.

        When my husband or our family speak out about his injustice, he's labeled by his prosecutor as defaming a career cop and prosecutor. If they are responsible for Lorenzo's wrongful conviction, why keep it a secret??? This type of corruption and bullying of families of innocent prisoners to remain silent will not be tolerated.

        Our family is not looking for any form of leniency. Lorenzo is innocent, we want what is owed to him. JUSTICE AND HIS IMMEDIATE FREEDOM!!! 

                                  Lorenzo's wife,

                                   Tazza Salvatto

        Lorenzo is continuing to fight for his freedom with the support of his lead counsel, Michael Wiseman, The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, and the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson.

        Thank you all for reading this message and please take the time to visit our website and contribute to Lorenzo's campaign for freedom!

        Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                    DF 1036

                    SCI Mahanoy

                    301 Morea Rd.

                    Frackville, PA 17932

         Email: Through JPay using the code:

                      Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                      Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                      Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

        Have a wonderful day!

        - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

        Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                    DF 1036

                    SCI Mahanoy

                    301 Morea Rd.

                    Frackville, PA 17932

         Email: Through JPay using the code:

                      Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                      Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com












        1)  Trump Targets Undocumented Families, Not Felons, in First 100 Days

        By Ryan Devereaux

        The Intercept, April 28 2017


        Jeff Sessions's first visit to the U.S.-Mexico border as attorney general kicked off with a ride in a Black Hawk helicopter. It began just after sunrise at the Davis-Monthan airbase outside Tucson, Arizona, and ended in Nogales, where he delivered a blistering address in which he vowed to take the "fight" to the criminal elements that have turned border communities into "war zones." The performance was repeated a week later in El Paso, Texas. This time around, Sessions was accompanied by John Kelly, the retired Marine general turned Department of Homeland Security secretary overseeing the nation's top immigration enforcement agencies. "This is ground zero," Sessions said. "This is the front lines and this is where we're making our stand."

        The display was typical of the Trump camp. From the moment he launched his campaign, Trump put a radically reimagined vision of immigration enforcement at the center of his agenda—one that emphasized a wall across the southern border and, at times, the removal of every undocumented immigrant in the country. The justification always had something to do with the tremendous, unprecedented threat emanating from the border and from immigrants. Now that Trump's 100th day in office is nearly here, the nation has had a glimpse of the president's response.

        Like the Sessions-Kelly border tour, the Trump administration's approach to immigration enforcement has leaned heavily on a combination of bellicose language and hardline directives effective at driving intense fear into immigrant communities. Beyond that, advocates and former U.S. immigration officials say, the White House agenda is basically a rehashing of some of the most counterproductive policies of the Obama administration, married to a series of mind-boggling and at times hypocritical proposals that threaten to plunge the already broken immigration system into further disarray, all while undermining public safety in the very areas it seeks to improve.

        "What we've seen from the Trump administration thus far is certainly a continuation of President Obama's hard-edged policies regarding immigration law enforcement, accompanied by a particularly vicious form of rhetoric," César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, a law professor at the University of Denver, told The Intercept. "The bottom line is that there are many similarities with the Obama administration but, to be sure, President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have ratcheted up the severity of immigration law violations and are trying to further entangle the criminal justice system with the immigration law enforcement system."

        Deporter in chief

        At the core of the Trump administration's immigration platform are a series of executive orders the president signed off on during his first week in office. One of those orders resulted in the chaotic implementation of a ban on travelers coming to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries. Two others, focused on domestic immigration enforcement, included sweeping implications for the nation's 11.5 million undocumented immigrants.

        In 2014, after years of bitter fighting in Washington over comprehensive immigration reform, Barack Obama announced that his administration would provide protection from deportation to hundreds-of-thousands of undocumented immigrants living in the country, shifting its enforcement focus to "felons, not families." The White House, by that time, had overseen the deportation of nearly two million people—according to an analysis by the New York Times, two-thirds of those cases involved individuals "who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all." Obama's Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary, Jeh Johnson, operationalized the policy shift in a memo calling on his personnel to exercise prosecutorial discretion in order to prioritize enforcement of immigration laws against individuals who posed a threat to national security, border security, or public safety.

        The memo did not stop the Obama administration from deporting people who lacked criminal records or whose only offense was an immigration violation—a December 2016 analysis by the Marshal Project found roughly 60 percent of the 300,000 people deported after the president's speech fit that description—and advocates would often argue that splitting the immigrant population into two groups created its own set of problems. Still, defenders of the administration's efforts say, it was something. At the very least, Immigration and Customs Enforcement was supposed to be targeting its efforts with an eye toward more dangerous individuals, even if the reality on the ground was much different.

        Under Obama, the U.S. government focused the bulk of its immigration enforcement efforts on the southern border. Unlike its predecessors, the administration adopted a practice of putting unauthorized border crossers through formal removal proceedings, helping to fuel a rise in deportation numbers that led to Obama's "deporter in chief" nickname. While enforcement on the border surged, however, in the interior of the country, immigrants with longstanding roots—people who had been in the U.S. several years, for example, or had citizen children—could generally expect that they would not be targeted for deportation.

        Trump's executive orders have undone all that. Including not just convicted criminals, but anyone suspected of having "committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense," immigrants with prior orders for removal, and several other categories, the administration's view of who constitutes a priority for deportation is so broad that it makes nearly every undocumented immigrant in the country a target. Trump's orders called for a potential expansion of expedited removal, a process that allows individuals to be swiftly deported without seeing a judge, and the creation of new immigrant detention centers along the border. The orders also mandated an enormous surge in the hiring of immigration officers and agents, and used the threat of cuts to federal funding as a means to push local law enforcement agencies into deputizing officers as de facto immigration agents.

        In February, Kelly signed off on two implementation memos, drafted by a pair of former Sessions aides with no input from career DHS officials, directing his personnel on how to implement the president's directives. In a budget proposal released the following month, the administration requested $4.5 billion for immigration-related initiatives, including an initial $2.6 billion to begin Trump's border wall expansion and $314 million to hire 500 new Border Patrol agents and 1,000 new ICE staffers—intended as a first step in the push to 15,000 new hires for the agencies total. The funds are contingent on congressional approval and Democrats have vowed to resist the administration's immigration agenda.

        The White House also requested $1.5 billion to support the expansion of the nation's immigrant detention system. An internal DHS report on the implementation of Trump's executive orders, obtained by the Washington Post, revealed that ICE has so far identified 27 facilities that could house more than 21,000 additional immigrant detainees. The New York Times, meanwhile, reported that the administration is considering rolling back standards intended to ensure the well-being of detained immigrants in order to quickly fill those beds.

        Among the many U.S. immigration enforcement officials who attended this year's 11th annual border security expo in San Antonio, Texas, the most closely watched component of Trump's directives appeared to be his call for the hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and 10,000 new ICE agents. During a panel, Benjamin Hoffman, the Border Patrol's chief of strategic planning and analysis, said the proposed hiring surge presented unique challenges for his agency. Border Patrol currently employs roughly 19,500 agents, Hoffman explained, but is mandated to employ more than 21,000.

        "We have not hit that yet and haven't for a while," Hoffman said. "There's a real concern that a lot of the 10,000 agents that ICE is going to hire will be coming from the ranks of the U.S. Border Patrol. I don't blame them…but that makes it difficult."

        Huge post-9/11 hiring surges within the Border Patrol have fueled corruption and soaring rates of excessive force and misconduct complaints lodged against agents. Asked to increase its ranks once again, Border Patrol leadership is now considering relaxing some of its rules surrounding polygraphs for would-be agents who come from law enforcement or military backgrounds—a proposal that has raised concerns among critics, given the agency's recent history. Senior Border Patrol officials have maintained that they will prioritize quality over quantity as they move forward in the hiring process.

        In a decision that appears to reflect the administration's prioritization of deportations, Daniel H. Ragsdale, deputy director of ICE, told attendees at the Texas expo that the vast majority of personnel hired for his agency—"about 8,500"—would be devoted to its Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) wing, while the remaining 1,500 would be directed to ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) program, which investigates transnational criminal organizations, money laundering, and a host of other issues in addition to immigration violations.

        That breakdown should raise concerns, said John Sandweg, formerly the acting director of ICE from 2013 to 2014, especially if claims by Sessions and others in the administration about a desire to tackle transnational organized crime are to be taken seriously. "They're talking about the gangs and MS-13," Sandweg told The Intercept. "HSI guys are federal special agents who go undercover and infiltrate the gangs, get up on wires, work with U.S. attorneys offices to bring prohibited possession charges or gun charges or whatever charges they can against them and put them in prison and/or deport them."

        "ERO, on the other hand, lacks that training, lacks the skills, and lacks the legal authorities," Sandweg went on. "They can't do wiretaps. They can't bring cases for prosecution. They don't do undercover operations. That's not what their skill set is. So to say we're going to plus up 85 to 15 percent on the ERO side, and then you throw this rhetoric out there about MS-13, it's just, it's hypocritical."

        The fate of ICE's powerful investigative wing under the Trump administration could have important implications, Sandweg added. "Are you going to see them forcing ICE-HSI to start abandoning the criminal enforcement work and the national security work?" he asked. "HSI has the second largest number of agents on the Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) across the country. Are you going to see them downsize their participation on JTTFs just so they can see them upsize the number of people they're arresting for deportation?"

        During the Bush years, HSI played a key role in supporting highly controversial worksite raids targeting undocumented immigrants and their employers. The practice was rolled back under Obama, though it wasn't ended, as HSI increasingly turned its focus to national security, organized crime, and financial crime investigations (during that time, HSI also became involved in gang investigations that have drawn their own share of criticism).

        HSI has participated in a number of enforcement actions under Trump, including at worksites, though the rate of the operations has not approached that of the Bush years. Whether that will continue to be the case remains to be seen. As a senator, Sessions was a vocal critic of ICE's turn away from worksite enforcement, suggesting the attorney general might support seeing his counterparts at DHS ramp such operations back up.

        Asked during a panel at the Texas conference if his agency would be diving back into the worksite enforcement business, Peter T. Edge, HSI's associate director, said, "We don't conduct worksite enforcement raids and as far as worksite enforcement as an investigative area, it's one of the areas that we enforce and we fully expect to be given clear and more concise direction on what type of worksite enforcement efforts we'll be conducting in the future."

        Families, not felons

        With Trump's orders in place, attorneys around the country have reported a drop in undocumented immigrants reporting crimes and showing up to court appearances, a shift advocates have attributed to ICE agents increasing arrests at courthouses. Viral videos and stories of mothers and fathers who have spent years living in the U.S., in some cases attending regular check-ins with ICE officials, being arrested and deported have compounded an intense fear coursing through immigrant communities. Meanwhile, on the border, apprehensions have dropped to levels not seen in decades, a development the administration's top officials have pointed to as a sign of their effectiveness in office.

        Discussing the president's orders at the Texas expo, Kate Christensen Mills, a former assistant director for congressional relations at ICE, now with the Monument Policy Group, said the public should expect to see more individuals with longstanding community ties arrested under the Trump administration. Because those individuals have spent years in the U.S., they will be more likely to fight their cases, Mills said, and as a result will spend more time locked up and fighting their deportation, all of which will cost taxpayers more money.

        "If you're going to have a decrease in people coming across the border, obviously ICE is going to have an increase in interior enforcement," Mills explained. "Some of these people are going to have to be put in detention. Some of them are going to have ties to the community. So processing them through the Department of Justice and the immigration courts is going to take a little bit longer because they are going to have lived here for a long time."

        Natalie Asher, ICE's acting assistant director for field operations at ERO, conceded that with her agency's ramped-up operations in the interior, arrests of noncitizens who "have more at stake" become more likely, and that those arrests can lead to longer stays in detention. "We continue to prioritize, but the volume that's coming at us is far larger than what we can really address on a regular basis," Asher said.

        In accordance with Trump's executive orders, ICE is actively recruiting local law enforcement agencies to sign up for a program that deputizes officers to act as immigration officials in the investigation, detention, or apprehension of undocumented individuals. The program, known as 287(g), has long been criticized by advocacy organizations and law enforcement professionals, who argue that such agreements foster fear of local authorities in immigrant communities. ICE is pressing on with the collaborations nonetheless. In the DHS progress report obtained by the Washington Post, officials said they had identified more than 50 jurisdictions interested in applying for the program.

        "By the end of this year, the hope is that we will have 63 online to sort of serve as force multipliers," Asher said of the effort.

        Asher insisted that ICE agents continue to "exercise prosecutorial discretion as we come upon individuals who may be amenable to removal proceedings and who may be amenable to detention." In practice, Asher said, prosecutorial discretion is "like anything in old cop work. You have two seats in the car, two beds at the jail, you've got five individuals in front of you. You look to take the worst of the worst. That's the same thing that we do as well."

        Whether ICE is taking the "worst of the worst" has been called into serious question. This month, the Washington Post reported that arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have more than doubled under the Trump administration. The paper described the push as "the clearest sign yet that President Trump has ditched his predecessor's protective stance toward most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States."

        While the numbers provided important insights into ICE's arrests thus far, some pertinent facts about the data were perhaps less than clear. Indeed, the "noncriminal" ICE arrests seen during the first three months of the Trump administration are more than double those reported over the same period in 2016—in fact, the numbers from this year are more than those from 2016 and 2015 combined. However, the number of noncriminal arrests over the first three months of 2017 is lower than the number of noncriminal arrests during the same period in 2014. During that three-month period, which was before the Obama-era prioritization memo was issued, ICE arrested 7,483 non-criminals and 21,745 criminals, compared to 5,441 non-criminals and 15,921 criminals under Trump.

        In other words, the Trump administration appears to be moving enforcement back to a pre-2014 prioritization memo framework, in which immigrants with clean criminal records are fair game for enforcement.

        To draw deeper conclusions about of ICE's enforcement actions so far would require more data, and experts say that has become an increasing challenge under the Trump administration. For years, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University has used Freedom of Information Act requests and court records to provide a public accounting of ICE's enforcement activity. In a recent report, published last week, the TRAC team reported that the filing of so-called notices to appear—the paperwork that initiates proceedings in immigration court—have shown no increase under Trump, while the number of individuals held in detention as their cases are processed has shot up significantly.

        When asked if the fact that notices to appear have not gone up means that the White House is not overseeing an immigration crackdown, Susan Long, director of the TRAC program, told The Intercept that the picture is more complex. "It's only a piece," Long said. "The major reason it's only a piece is because of ICE's intransigence and lack of transparency."

        Under the Trump administration, Long explained, ICE has stopped turning over enforcement data that it released under previous administrations, including case-by-case information regarding arrests. As a result, number crunchers at her office can only provide a partial picture of immigration enforcement nationwide. Critically, Long said, ICE no longer provides information on the individuals targeted with so-called detainers, a tool ICE uses to request the arrest or detention of immigrants from local law enforcement. "That's a key thing that they've started withholding," Long explained. "We used to get the entire criminal history of each person they targeted with a detainer—so the most serious criminal convictions, when they were charged, when they were convicted, their sentence that was meted out, and any other charges in their whole history and the status of those charges."

        According to Long, ICE's justifications for withholding the data have been "all over the map," including claiming that past disclosures were merely voluntary and that the data in question does not exist. As a result of ICE's position, Long argued, the public is lacking critical information needed to accurately assess Trump's immigration enforcement practices. "They're really central issues as to what they're doing to enforce the law," she said.

        Sandweg, the former acting director at ICE, said that based on the information that has emerged, it appears ICE has set its sights on individuals with prior orders for removal from the country—a population that as of February included 12,370 people currently in government custody and 960,483 individuals who were not. That segment of the noncitizen population is made up "primarily of people who have very sympathetic cases, people that ICE never felt compelled to go out and find because they generally were not criminals, they had family members," Sandweg said.

        The Obama administration's 2014 decision not to prioritize removal of these individuals, imperfect as it may have been in practice, went beyond humanitarian concerns, Sandweg explained—there are actual resource constraints on ICE that require enforcement to be targeted. "During my time at ICE, the priorities, just focusing on public safety nexus, border, convicted criminals, or people arrested for serious offenses…that population alone is more than the current ICE can handle," Sandweg said. "It's more than the system can handle. It's way more than the immigration courts can handle. So it's not like you're being soft on enforcement or dialing back on enforcement, it's just that you're targeting the enforcement."

        "With the same resources and the same backlog in the immigration courts and the same number of officers, they've now started going after this other population, which is this noncriminal, final order population, these very sympathetic cases you read about," he added. "When they spend their time on those cases though, it means some criminal is getting out of jail free."

        Given what he's seen so far, Sandweg believes the Trump administration is playing a dangerous numbers game. "The way it's being operationalized, it seems very clear to me, is that they're trying to drive up their numbers, the numbers of total people being deported, as high as possible," he said. "Despite the rhetoric about saying 'we're going to focus on criminals,' the actions they're taking really say they're really focused on driving up numbers because they're focused on this population with final orders."

        Margo Schlanger, a University of Michigan law professor who served as chief of civil rights and civil liberties at DHS from 2010 to 2011, said it will take time before the impact of the Trump administration's enforcement practices to show up in deportation numbers. As she pointed out, the administration has yet to expand its use of expedited removal nationwide, as the president's executive orders indicated it might. Still, she argued, a number of the administration's efforts so far could make the nation's already struggling immigration system even worse.

        During his appearance in Arizona earlier this month, Sessions called on prosecutors across the country to increase enforcement of several crimes directly relevant to immigrant communities, including statutes surrounding the harboring of undocumented individuals and the falsification of documents. It's an effort that has been tried before, and one that contributed directly to a build-up in immigrant detention and the massive backlog of cases in the immigration courts today—for several years now, immigration crimes have been the most frequently prosecuted offense on the federal docket.

        As a fix, Sessions has vowed to streamline the hiring process for immigration judges, with an aim of filling 125 positions in the next two years. That's easier said than done, Schlanger said.

        "You can't just on-board immigration judges," she pointed out. And even if the administration does add more judges, she added, the quality of the cases those judges hear matters, because just as ICE's resources are limited, so too are the DOJ's.

        "DOJ has a choice about where it's going to spend its prosecutorial resources, and it could spend it on chump change immigration violations or it can spend it on things that actually achieve something worthwhile," Schlanger said. If the administration falls into a habit of making "easy" arrests in order to drive up numbers—targeting people who voluntarily check in at ICE offices or show up at courts, rather than tracking down dangerous individuals—it could end up doing more damage than good, she argued.

        "If you're trying to deport the most people, you actually trade numbers against public safety," Schlanger explained. "The more people you deport, the less public safety you buy, because you've got a certain amount of resources and it's super easy to arrest law-abiding homebodies." In other words, she said, "By doing more you accomplish less."

        "I wouldn't say we're there yet," she added. "But the ship looks like it's turning."

        The Intercept, April 28 2017




        2)  Trump's 'Very Friendly' Talk With Duterte Stuns Aides and Critics Alike

         APRIL 30, 2017



        WASHINGTON — When President Trump called President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines on Saturday, White House officials saw it as part of a routine diplomatic outreach to Southeast Asian leaders. Mr. Trump, characteristically, had his own ideas.

        During their "very friendly conversation," the administration said in a late-night statement, Mr. Trump invited Mr. Duterte, an authoritarian leader accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, to visit him at the White House.

        Now, the administration is bracing for an avalanche of criticism from human rights groups. Two senior officials said they expected the State Department and the National Security Council, both of which were caught off guard by the invitation, to raise objections internally.

        The White House disclosed the news on a day when Mr. Trump fired up his supporters at a campaign-style rally in Harrisburg, Pa. The timing of the announcement — after a speech that was a grievance-filled jeremiad— encapsulated this president after 100 days in office: still ready to say and do things that leave people, even on his staff, slack-jawed.

        "By essentially endorsing Duterte's murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings," said John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch. "Although the traits of his personality likely make it impossible, Trump should be ashamed of himself."

        Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Twitter, "We are watching in real time as the American human rights bully pulpit disintegrates into ash."

        Administration officials said the call to Mr. Duterte was one of several to Southeast Asian leaders that the White House arranged after picking up signs that the leaders felt neglected because of Mr. Trump's intense focus on China, Japan and tensions over North Korea. On Sunday, Mr. Trump spoke to the prime ministers of Singapore and Thailand; both got White House invitations.

        Mr. Duterte's toxic reputation had already given pause to some in the White House. The Philippines is set to host a summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in November, and officials said there had been a brief debate about whether Mr. Trump should attend.

        It is not even clear, given the accusations of human rights abuses against him, that Mr. Duterte would be granted a visa to the United States were he not a head of state, according to human rights advocates.

        Still, Mr. Trump's affinity for Mr. Duterte, and other strongmen as well, is firmly established. Both presidents are populist insurgent leaders with a penchant for making inflammatory statements. Both ran for office calling for a wholesale crackdown on Islamist militancy and the drug trade. And both display impatience with the courts.

        After Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Duterte called to congratulate him. Later, the Philippine leader issued a statement saying that the president-elect had wished him well in his antidrug campaign, which has resulted in the deaths of several thousand people suspected of using or selling narcotics, as well as others who may have had no involvement with drugs.

        Mr. Trump's cultivation of Mr. Duterte has a strategic rationale, officials said. Mr. Duterte has pivoted away from the United States, a longtime treaty ally, and toward China. The alienation deepened after he referred to President Barack Obama as a "son of a whore" when he was asked how he would react if Mr. Obama raised human rights concerns with him.

        In October, Mr. Duterte called for a "separation" between the Philippines and the United States. "America has lost now," he told an audience of business executives in Beijing. "I've realigned myself in your ideological flow." He later threatened to rip up an agreement that allows American troops to visit the Philippines.

        Administration officials said Mr. Trump wanted to mend the alliance with the Philippines as a bulwark against China's expansionism in the South China Sea. The Philippines has clashed with China over disputed reefs and shoals in the waterway, which the two countries share.

        Mr. Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, drew a connection between a visit by Mr. Duterte and the tensions with North Korea. Building solidarity throughout Asia, he said on ABC's "This Week," is needed to pressure North Korea on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

        Experts said that argument was tenuous, however, noting that it was more important to corral a country like Malaysia, where North Koreans hold meetings to buy or sell weapons-related technology.

        Mr. Trump has a commercial connection to the Philippines: His name is stamped on a $150 million, 57-floor tower in Manila, a licensing deal that netted his company millions of dollars. Mr. Duterte appointed the chairman of the company developing the tower, Jose E. B. Antonio, as an envoy to Washington for trade, investment and economic affairs.

        Certainly, the two leaders have similar agendas. Mr. Duterte is battling Islamist extremists who have terrorized the southern islands of the Philippine archipelago. He once declared that if he were presented with a terrorism suspect, "give me salt and vinegar and I'll eat his liver."

        They are also in tune on the need for a crackdown on drugs, even if Mr. Trump is not advocating Mr. Duterte's brutal methods. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has revived the language of the "war on drugs," which the Obama administration shunned as part of its policy to reduce lengthy prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

        Mr. Trump has drawn the line with one autocrat: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whose chemical weapons strike on his own people prompted the American president to order a Tomahawk missile strikeon a Syrian airfield.

        But Mr. Trump's affinity for strongmen is instinctive and longstanding. He recently called to congratulate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on his victory in a much-disputed referendum expanding his powers, which some critics painted as a death knell for Turkish democracy.

        At his rally in Harrisburg, Mr. Trump went after many of the targets he vilified during the campaign: the news media, Democrats, immigrants. But he reversed course on one — China — and the reason may be that he met recently with China's president, Xi Jinping, in Palm Beach, Fla.

        At home, Mr. Xi is cracking down on dissent and consolidating his power. But Mr. Trump has enlisted Mr. Xi to pressure China's neighbor, North Korea, and is giving him the benefit of the doubt. "I honestly believe he's trying very hard," Mr. Trump told the crowd. "He's a good man."

        Mr. Trump credited his relationship with Egypt's president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as a factor in obtaining the release of an Egyptian-American aid worker, Aya Hijazi, who had been detained there. Mr. Trump played host at the White House to Mr. Sisi, who had not been granted an invitation since he seized power in a military coup nearly four years ago.

        Then there is, of course, Mr. Trump's vow during the campaign to pursue a warmer relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. That effort has faltered somewhat because of persistent questions about links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

        Even Mr. Trump's prime antagonist — the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un — has earned a surprisingly generous assessment from the president in recent days. Speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation," Mr. Trump expressed admiration that Mr. Kim had been able to keep a grip on power.

        "A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else," Mr. Trump said. "And he was able to do it. So, obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie."



        3)  Shaming Children So Parents Will Pay the School Lunch Bill

        "On the first day of seventh grade last fall, Caitlin Dolan lined up for lunch at her school in Canonsburg, Pa. But when the cashier discovered she had an unpaid food bill from last year, the tray of pizza, cucumber slices, an apple and chocolate milk was thrown in the trash."

        [See my NYT comment at:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/30/well/family/lunch-shaming-children-parents-school-bills.html?comments#permid=22332539 ]

         APRIL 30, 2017




        On the first day of seventh grade last fall, Caitlin Dolan lined up for lunch at her school in Canonsburg, Pa. But when the cashier discovered she had an unpaid food bill from last year, the tray of pizza, cucumber slices, an apple and chocolate milk was thrown in the trash.

        "I was so embarrassed," said Caitlin, who said other students had stared. "It's really weird being denied food in front of everyone. They all talk about you."

        Caitlin's mother, Merinda Durila, said that her daughter qualified for free lunch, but that a paperwork mix-up had created an outstanding balance. Ms. Durila said her child had come home in tears after being humiliated in front of her friends.

        Holding children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills — by throwing away their food, providing a less desirable alternative lunch or branding them with markers — is often referred to as "lunch shaming."

        The practice is widespread — a 2014 report from the Department of Agriculture found that nearly half of all districts used some form of shaming to compel parents to pay bills. (About 45 percent withheld the hot meal and gave a cold sandwich, while 3 percent denied food entirely.)

        A Pennsylvania cafeteria worker posted on Facebook that she had quit after being forced to take lunch from a child with an unpaid bill. In Alabama, a child was stamped on the arm with "I Need Lunch Money." On one day, a Utah elementary school threw away the lunches of about 40 students with unpaid food bills.

        Hazel Compton, 12, remembers being given a sandwich of white bread with a slice of cheese instead of the hot lunch served to other children at her Albuquerque elementary school. (A school district spokeswoman said the sandwich met federal requirements.)

        "They would use the sandwich like a threat," Hazel recalled. "Like, 'If you don't want it, your parents have to pay.'"

        Oliver Jane, 15, said that when she had meal debt at Shawnee Heights High School in Tecumseh, Kan., she was told to return her tray of hot food and was given a cold sandwich instead.

        "If you didn't eat the lunch, they were just going to throw it away," she said. "It seems unfair to me to expect a bunch of kids to be responsible for putting money in their lunch accounts when they don't even handle their own funds."

        Marty Stessman, superintendent of the Shawnee Heights Unified School District, said that younger children were allowed to take a limited number of meals despite debt, but that high school students were not.

        "Notices are sent home automatically when they go below $5, so it shouldn't be a surprise," Dr. Stessman said. "They should know before they get to the cashier."

        The problem of meal debt is not new, but the issue has received more attention recently because the Department of Agriculture, which oversees school lunch programs, imposed a July 1 deadline for states to establish policies on how to treat children who cannot pay for food.

        "It has been a longstanding issue in schools, one that's gone on for decades," said Kevin W. Concannon, who was the department's under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services in the Obama administration.

        After a 2010 overhaul of school nutrition standards, the department heard from schools and advocacy groups about the burden of lunch debt and the shaming practices that often result. Last summer, the Agriculture Department concluded that meal debt should be managed locally, but required states to formalize their debt policies.

        "We're not telling schools what to put in their policy, but we do want them to think about the issue," said Tina Namian, who oversees the school meals policy branch.

        The department does not prohibit practices that stigmatize children with meal debt, but offers a list of "preferred alternatives," such as working out payment plans and allowing children with unpaid balances to eat the regular hot meal.

        In March, New Mexico passed a law that directs schools to work with parents to pay debts and ends practices like cold sandwich substitutes that may embarrass children.

        "Our biggest hope for this bill is that no student will have to contemplate what meal they are going to get," said Monica Armenta, a spokeswoman for Albuquerque Public Schools, where Hazel Compton was given a cheese sandwich.

        Minnesota and the San Francisco Unified School District, among others, also have adopted anti-shaming policies. Recently, the Houston Independent School District notified its food service department that children with debt should be served the regular hot meal.

        "This is fundamentally a right-versus-wrong decision," said Brian Busby, the chief operating officer for Houston schools. "If a kid needs a meal, he's going to eat."

        But feeding hungry children whose families have meal debt does not solve the problem for schools, which still must grapple with paying the bill. In 2016, the School Nutrition Association published a review of almost 1,000 school lunch programs, finding that nearly 75 percent of districts had unpaid meal debt.

        One solution is the federal free meal program. But not every struggling family meets the income requirements, and those that do may have language barriers or fears over immigration status, or fail to file the paperwork.

        An Agriculture Department guidance document suggests that districts reach out to the community for help, for example through "random acts of kindness" funding and school fund-raisers. Such efforts around the country have begun to help some districts solve the problem.

        In 2014, when a theater technician, Kenny Thompson, was mentoring fourth graders in the Houston-area district of Spring Branch, he saw a cafeteria worker refuse to serve a child the hot meal of chicken, potatoes, fruit and milk.

        "The lunch lady says: 'I'm sorry, I told you yesterday you couldn't have this today. You need to tell your parents to pay their bill.' And then she turns around and gives him two slices of bread with cold cheese," Mr. Thompson said.

        He knew the child's mother was in the hospital, and he stepped in to pay the bill.

        Later, Mr. Thompson started Feed the Future Forward, which has hosted crawfish boils and charity golf tournaments to raise money for lunch debt. It has wiped out more than $30,000 in food bills and is planning an additional $23,000 in donations. The giving comes with a catch: Schools must promise they will not give alternative meals to children with unpaid bills. Spring Branch, where Mr. Thompson first witnessed the practice, has taken the pledge.

        Rob Solomon, chief executive of GoFundMe, said it had about 30 active campaigns to raise money for meal debt. Camille Billing, a teacher in Hamilton, N.J., recently started a GoFundMe page. In Galveston, Tex., a retired teacher, Donna Woods-Stellman, paid off the city's meal debt after raising $1,000.

        A YouCaring page has raised more than $6,000 for students at impoverished high schools in Virginia. In West Palm Beach, Fla., two high school juniors started School Lunch Fairy to help erase lunch debts.

        While the efforts are laudable, "they should be a last resort," said Abby J. Leibman, president and chief executive of Mazon, a Jewish anti-hunger organization.

        Others argue that school meals should be offered free to all children, regardless of income, as is the case in Sweden and Brazil.

        "We need to provide school meals on the same basis on which we provide school transportation and textbooks," said Janet Poppendieck, a senior fellow at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and author of "Free for All: Fixing School Food in America."

        Some cities, including Boston, Chicago and Detroit, offer free meals to all students under the Community Eligibility Provision, a federal regulation that allows schools and districts in high-poverty areas to do so regardless of individual need. In New York City, a pilot free lunch program is under review. Most schools in the United States, however, do not qualify for the provision, and only about half of those that do take advantage of it.

        As a result, districts struggling with unpaid lunch bills, which can run into the millions in large urban areas, often resort to shaming tactics to push parents to pay.

        Crystal Jarek, a retired teacher in Lee County, Fla., said she remembered the staff taking debt notices to class. "The cafeteria staff would come in at noon, wearing their hairnets, and hand out letters," she said. "All the kids would turn around to see who was getting one."

        During the 2015-16 school year, Lee County began offering free meals for all students at 76 of its schools, including the one where Ms. Jarek taught.

        Kerry Krepps, a retiree in Kansas City, Mo., has seen the lasting effects of lunch shaming. Her adult son refuses to eat peanut butter because it reminds him of middle school in western Minneapolis, when students with debt were sent to a table to make peanut butter sandwiches.

        "The humiliation has persisted for 20 years," she said. "It shows how lasting these experiences can be."



        4)  From France to Indonesia, Marking May Day With Protests

        By The New York Times, May 1, 2017


        It began as a pagan commemoration of the transition to summer from spring, replete with maypole dancing. For many Christians, it kicks off a month devoted to the veneration of the Virgin Mary. But for most of the world these days, May 1 is best known as International Workers' Day, a general occasion for political protest. (A notable exception is the United States, where Labor Day is celebrated in September.) Here is how Monday unfolded around the world.


        Continue reading the main story


        Turkish police arrested a protester in Istanbul on Monday. CreditYasin Akgul/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 

        More than 70 people were detained as they tried to march to Taksim Square in central Istanbul to demand better pay and working conditions, defying a ban on May Day events. The country has moved in a sharply authoritarian direction under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He successfully campaigned to expand the powers of the presidency with a referendum amending the Constitution last month.

        South Korea

        Continue reading the main story


        Union members hoisted symbolic umbrellas in Seoul, South Korea. CreditLee Jin-Man/Associated Press 

        Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions marched in Seoul holding red umbrellas, which symbolize the right of workers to form labor unions. Among their demands: that companies stop using temporary employees. The trend of circumventing traditional labor protections by classifying workers as independent contractors or as freelance labor is a major theme of the protests.


        Continue reading the main story


        In Athens, union members demonstrated against austerity measures. CreditAris Messinis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 

        Members of the Communist Party-affiliated All-Workers Militant Front held a 24-hour nationwide strike and protests against looming spending cuts that were demanded by the country's creditors in return for a third government bailout. Nearly a decade after the start of the global financial crisis, Greece continues to grapple with a debt burden that many economists view as unsustainable.


        Continue reading the main storyIndonesia

        Continue reading the main story


        Workers tried to remove razor wire blocking them from marching toward the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia. CreditDita Alangkara/Associated Press 

        Thousands of workers marched toward the presidential palace in Jakarta to demand that the government raise minimum wages, limit outsourcing, provide free health care and improve working conditions. Indonesia, the world's fourth most-populous nation, is trying to build a robust middle class.


        Continue reading the main story


        Protesters in Lyon, France. CreditJeff Pachoud/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 

        Protesters marched in traditional May Day rallies across the country. France will hold a presidential runoff election on Sunday, and the two candidates — Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, and Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist and former economy minister — campaigned vigorously on Monday. One clash was violent: Several officers were hurt as masked youngsters throwing firebombs fought with the police, who used tear gas.


        Continue reading the main story


        A parade celebrating International Workers' Day in Nairobi. CreditSayyid Abdul Azim/Associated Press 

        Workers marched in Nairobi on Monday. As in much of the developing world, they are becoming a potent political force, with former agricultural laborers moving to sprawling cities for jobs in manufacturing and in service industries.



        5)  On May Day, Protesters Are Expected to Take to the Streets

         MAY 1, 2017




        President Trump has proclaimed Monday to be "Loyalty Day," a time for Americans to reaffirm their commitment to "individual liberties, to limited government and to the inherent dignity of every human being" with Pledge of Allegiance ceremonies and a display of American flags.

        Monday, however, is also expected to be a major day of protest for those who oppose the administration and its policies on issues such as women's rights, worker's pay, health care and immigration.

        Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of cities that include Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; New York; Raleigh, N.C.; and Scranton, Pa. Corporations including Google and Facebook are giving workers the opportunity to march without fear of retribution. Labor and immigrants' rights activists have called for a general strike to boycott Mr. Trump's policies.

        There is a long tradition of protest around the world on May Day, known in most other countries as International Workers' Day. But the last time any May Day swelled streets across the country with large numbers was in 2006, when more than a million people in hundreds of cities took part in a "Day Without Immigrants" to protest federal legislation that would have made it a felony to live in the country without legal status.

        Then, the marchers sought immigration overhaul. The demands this time around are more basic: To many would-be marchers, even a return to the status quo before Mr. Trump was elected would feel something like a win.

        "Trump has pitted the U.S. working class against migrant workers and refugees, and so we must strive to create bridges, not bans or walls, to connect our struggles together," representatives of the International Migrants Alliance wrote in its call to assemble on May 1, describing Mr. Trump as "a brazenly fascist, racist and anti-immigrant president."

        In New York, a day of demonstrations will culminate in an evening rally at Foley Square. In Los Angeles, groups marching for gay rights, immigrants, workers and women will gather at MacArthur Park. Racial justice activists are also expected to turn out across the country.

        The administration has called for government buildings to display American flags and for schools to honor the occasion with recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance.

        President Barack Obama also proclaimed May 1 as Loyalty Day, and previous presidents have chosen days other than May 1.



        6)  Venezuela: Maduro calls for popular constituent assembly to remake constitution

        Green Left Weekly, May 2, 2017


        Speaking to tens of thousands of supporters gathered to commemorate International Workers Day on May 1, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced he would call a constituent assembly, effectively remaking the country's constitution.

        "Today, on May 1, I announce that I will use my presidential privileges as constitutional head of state in accordance with article 347, to convene the original constituent power so that the working class and the people can call a national constituent assembly," President Maduro said.

        The Venezuelan leader invoked article 347 of the Bolivarian Constitution, which allows for the convening of a national constituent assembly with the purpose of "transforming the state".

        "I call a constituent assembly that will be profoundly communal, from the working class, from the people," he added.

        The surprise announcement comes on the heels of weeks of violent protests called by opposition parties. The violence has cost the lives of more than two dozen people and wounding more than 400 others, while causing significant damage to public infrastructure and buildings including hospitals and schools. Small businesses have also been looted.

        Venezuela's current 1999, or Bolivarian, constitution, was the outcome of last president Hugo Chavez's election promise to rewrite the country's Magna Carta with the participation of Venezuelan society. The constitution is widely regarded as one of the most progressive in the world, not only enshrining broad social rights to the population, but also creating space for the population to directly intervene in political decision making beyond elections.

        According to the constitution, the constituent assembly would be comprised of 500 members, directly elected by Venezuelans. Additionally, a number candidates for these positions would be put forward by sectoral organizations, including student groups, unions, campesino organizations as well as private sector interests.

        The Venezuelan leader emphasised that this step would be an important measure to overcome the current political conflicts in the country.

        "I don't want a civil war," Maduro concluded. "Do you want dialogue? Constituent power! Do you want peace? Constituent power!"

        Nonetheless, opposition leader Henrique Capriles opposed the move, calling it a "coup".

        "We alert the democratic governments of the world, international public opinion, Maduro consolidates a coup d'etat and deepens the serious crisis!" Capriles tweeted following President Maduro's announcement.

        According to constitutional expert Hernan Escarra, while the constituent process is underway, the country's current political institutions would continue operating.

        On April 27, Venezuela announced it would begin the process of withdrawing from the Oorganization of American States, after repeated attempts by Almagro to sanction the South American country under the organization's so-called "Democratic Charter."

        Almagro has also been chided by Venezuelan officials and diplomats from other Latin American and Caribbean countries for his open support to Venezuela's opposition groups and leaders, including his unprecedented step in calling for general elections in Venezuela ahead of the 2018 date.


































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