Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:












A few days after massive immigrant rights protests on May Day, Hugo Mejia and Rodrigo Nunez went to work -- but they never returned to their children and families that day.

Hugo and Rodrigo, beloved fathers, community volunteers and longtime Bay Area residents have been in local ICE detention for the past month. They were forced into detention after they reported for construction work at a hospital. They didn't know the hospital was inside a military base, and when Hugo and Rodrigo gave their information at the gate, the base decided to turn them over to Trump's deportation force.

Can you join immigrant rights groups on Monday, June 5 to demand the feds #FreeHugo and #FreeRodrigo?

Just this week, the Trump administration denied both men a hearing on their request for asylum, and they may get deported without ever having the chance to tell their story to a judge. We need your support right now for Hugo, Rodrigo and their families.


Our community pressure helped #FreeYazmin from detention. Let's show up and do it again. And please help make a contribution to Rodrigo's family who is struggling to make rent without him.

As we fight for the freedom of immigrants to stay and have safe lives in America, we must also fight for the right for our communities to live healthy lives in America. That right is under threat from the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and endanger millions of Americans.


This Saturday, June 3, Bay Resistance and SEIU California are bringing the fight for affordable healthcare to voters in the nearest swing district. RSVP now for a free spot on the bus from San Francisco and Oakland or to let us know if you're meeting us in Modesto by 11am. Box lunch provided. Please RSVP!

You can also join us every other Wednesday evening to defend our healthcare as the Republican bill goes before the Senate.


In Solidarity,

Kate, Kimi, Emily & Kung

Find us at BayResistance.org, on Facebook and on Twitter @SFBayResistance

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Emergency Days of Action 


June 1 - June 10

UNAC has endorsed the Emergency Days of Action to Stop US Intervention in Venezuela that was initiated by the International Action Center, a UNAC affiliated group.  Reactionary forces in Venezuela, supported by the US, are pushing for regime change.  The situation has become critical.  It is important that the US antiwar movement stand with the people of Venezuela against these efforts.  Please join an action in your area or call an action.

See the joint statement by UNAC and the Black Alliance for Peace on Venezuela: http://nepajac.org/venstatement.htm

List of action taking place: http://iacenter.org/4832/venezuela/
Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/ events/1870489586609088/ 
To add an action to the list or your endorsement, please go here:http://iacenter.org/4829/endorse-list-activity-venez-solidarity

To read the full call from the International Action Center in English and Spanish, please go here: http://iacenter.org/4854/ venez-days-of-action/



Juneteenth 2017 (Monday, June 19, 2017)

Land is Power. Land is Liberation. Land is the Commons

On Juneteenth 2017 (Monday, June 19th) Black people across the country will take back land and reclaim space, from vacant lots to empty school buildings. We are taking back land that should be used for the good of the people; land that has historically been denied to Black people. Through these actions we will confront the institutions and individuals that have been built off the extracted wealth of Black people and Black land.



Cuban Documentary "Between Changes"

May 19, 2017 

HAVANA TIMES — "Entre cambios" (Between changes) is a documentary dedicated to a specific generation of Cubans: the one who had to live through the fragile limbo when the Soviet Union collapsed. We concentrated particularly on speaking to those who experienced these changes there, in the places where the events took place.

One of the most recurring testimonies that this documentary provides – and the research we did to carry it out – is that of people who went to COMECON (The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) countries under the sugarcoated notion that there they had a more advanced version of socialism that the Cuban version, and instead it turned out that they would be the witnesses of its downfall.

This is where the irony lies: surely, a lot of things used to be better off there than they were in Cuba, even under the centralized State system that the Kremlin imposed on the majority of the territories under its control, but everything "went downhill" between 1988 and 1991.

In the documentary, we can hear accounts from those who were in countries such as Hungary, and in several Republics of what used to be the USSR. We tried our best for these opinions to be diverse and critical.

There wasn't always enough space for all of the material we had collected for the documentary – and we have faith that the extensive research we did will have the opportunity to be covered in other media platforms, or maybe there will even be sequels to this documentary.

However, we tried to maintain a respectful, friendly and proactive dialogue that prevails throughout the film, in order to anchor the diversity of social coexistence today.

Cuba's "post-Soviet" generation – the one which lived in situ with the geopolitical collapse that led to the Special Period disaster here, to the capitalist reforms in Europe and the "excessive '90s" in Russia and its surroundings, with quite a few localized conflicts where a lot of today's jihadist terrorism was born and awful government administrations who justified well-established authoritarian run countries today – is a very active generation nowadays.

Both inside and outside of our archipelago, it has given rise to artists, intellectuals, engineers, bloggers, doctors, scientists and social activists from all kinds of political movements.

It's no coincidence that it was a generation that experienced a great shock (whether in Eurasia, or here in Cuba, where we also experienced a great time of change – but in a different way). We believe that their experiences – which haven't been published widely in explicit terms, which are what we have tried to collect – can contribute to preventing a lot of the negativity that is taking place in Cuba today.

We have to learn our lessons from history, something which clearly wasn't done in the post-1959 period, when existing critique of the then "USSR" was dismissed in Cuba.

This documentary is the result of a co-production between the independent production company "CreActivo" and the research team "Post Soviet Cuba" which is a member of one of the teams from the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLASCO).






Solidarity Statement from the California Coalition for Women Prisoners


CCWP sent the solidarity statement below expressing support with the hunger strikers at the Northwest County Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma Washington, one of the largest immigration prisons in the country.  People at NWDC, including many women, undertook the hunger strike starting at the beginning of April 2017 to protest the horrendous conditions they are facing.  Although the peak of the hunger strike was a few weeks ago, the strikers set a courageous example of resistance for people in detention centers and prisons around the country. 

Here is a link to a Democracy Now! interview with Maru Villalpando of Northwest Detention Center Resistance (http://www.nwdcresistance.org/) and Alexis Erickson, partner of one of the hunger strikers, Cristian Lopez.

For live updates, visit: 

California Coalition for Women Prisoners Statement

California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) stands in solidarity with the hunger strikers, many of them women, detained by ICE at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), a private prison operated by the GEO group contracted by ICE in Washington state.  We applaud the detainees at NORCOR, a county jail in rural Oregon, who recently won their demands after sustaining six days without meals. 

Since April 10th, those detained in NWDC have refused meals to demand changes to the abhorrent conditions of their detention, including poor quality food, insufficient medical care, little to no access to family visits, legal counsel or legal documents, and lack of timely court proceedings. Hunger strikes are a powerful method of resistance within prisons that require commitment and courage from prisoners and their families. We have seen this historically in California when tens-of-thousands of prisoners refused meals to protest solitary confinement in 2011 and 2013, and also currently in Palestine where over 1,500 prisoners are on hunger strike against the brutal conditions of Israeli prisons. 

As the Trump administration continues to escalate its attacks on Latinx/Chicanx and Arab/Muslim communities, deportations and detentions serve as strategies to control, remove, and erase people—a violence made possible in a context of inflamed xenophobia and increasingly visible and virulent racism. We stand with the families of those detained as well as organizations and collectives on the ground in Washington State struggling to expose the situation inside these facilities as well as confront the escalating strategies of the Trump administration.

CCWP recognizes the common struggle for basic human dignity and against unconstitutional cruel and inhumane treatment that people of color and immigrants face in detention centers, jails, and prisons across the United States. We also sadly recognize from our work with people in women's prisons the retaliatory tactics such as prison transfers and solitary confinement that those who fight oppression face. Similar abuses continue to occur across California at all of its prisons and  detention centers, including the GEO-run women's prison in McFarland, California.. CCWP sends love and solidarity to the hunger strikers in the Northwest. Together we can break down the walls that tear our families and communities apart. ¡ya basta! #Ni1Más #Not1More

    Northwest Detention Center Press Release May 4, 2017

Despite threats and retaliation, hunger strikers continue protest 

ICE ignores demands for improved conditions 

Tacoma, Washington/The Dalles, Oregon—Immigrants held at ICE facilities in two states—the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), run by GEO Group, and NORCOR, a rural public jail—continued their hunger strike today, despite growing weakness from lack of food. The exponential growth of immigration detention has led ICE to contract the function of detaining immigrants out to both private prison companies and to county governments, with both treating immigrants as a source of profit. ICE has been using NORCOR as "overflow" detention space for immigrants held at NWDC, and is regularly transferring people back and forth from the NWDC to NORCOR. People held at NORCOR have limited access to lawyers and to the legal documents they need to fight and win their deportation cases. They are often transferred back to NWDC only for their hearings, then shipped back to NORCOR, where they face terrible conditions. Jessica Campbell of the Rural Organizing Project affirmed, "No one deserves to endure the conditions at NORCOR—neither the immigrants ICE is paying to house there, nor the people of Oregon who end up there as part of criminal processes. It's unsafe for everyone."

The strike began on April 10th, when 750 people at the NWDC began refusing meals. The protest spread to NORCOR this past weekend. Maru Mora Villalpando of NWDC Resistance confirmed, "It's very clear from our contact with people inside the facilities and with family members of those detained that the hunger strike continues in both Oregon and Washington State." She continued, "The question for us is, how will ICE assure that the abuses that these whistle-blowing hunger strikers have brought to light are addressed?"

From the beginning of the protest, instead of using the strike as an opportunity to look into the serious concerns raised by the hunger strikers, ICE and GEO have both denied the strike is occurring and retaliated against strikers. Hunger strikers have been transferred to NORCOR in retaliation for their participation. One person who refused transfer to NORCOR was put in solitary confinement. Just this week, hunger striking women have been threatened with forced feeding—a practice that is recognized under international law to be torture. In an attempt to break their spirit, hunger strikers have been told the strike has been ineffective and that the public is ignoring it.

Hunger striker demands terrible conditions inside detention center be addressed—including the poor quality of the food, the dollar-a-day pay, and the lack of medical care. They also call for more expedited court proceedings and the end of transfers between detention facilities.   Hunger strikers consistently communicate, "We are doing this for our families." Despite their incredibly oppressive conditions, locked away and facing deportation in an immigration prison in the middle of an industrial zone and in a rural county jail, hunger strikers have acted collectively and brought national attention to the terrible conditions they face and to the ongoing crisis of deportations, conditions the U.S. government must address.Latino Advocacy

Maru Mora Villalpando

For live updates, visit: 

News mailing list: News@womenprisoners.org



Labor Studies and Radical History

4444 Geary Blvd., Suite 207, San Francisco, CA 94118




(call 415.387.5700 to be sure the library is open for the hours you are interested in. We close the library sometimes to go on errands or have close early) suggested)

7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed on all major holidays and May Day 

We can arrange, by request, to keep the library open longer during the day or open it on weekends. Just ask.


  • Reference Librarian On-site
  • Email and Telephone Reference
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Online Public Access Catalog 
  • Microfilm Reader/Printer
  • DVD and VCR players
  • Photocopier
  • Quiet well-lighted place for study and research 

For an appointment or further information, please email: david [at] holtlaborlibrary.org 





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



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.




When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression


When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression


Mothers Message to the NY/NJ Activist Community 

In order to effectively combat the existing opportunism, hidden agendas and to better provide ALL genuinely good willed social justice organizations and individuals who work inside of the New York and New Jersey metropolitan areas... with more concrete guidelines; 

The following "10 Point Platform and Justice Wish List" was adopted on Saturday, May 13, 2017    during the "Motherhood: Standing Strong 4 Justice" pre-mothers day gathering which was held     at Hostos Community College - Bronx, New York.......

"What We Want, What We Need" 

May, 2017 - NY/NJ Parents 10 Point Justice Platform and Wish List 

Point #1 - Lawyers and Legal Assistance:  Due to both the overwhelming case loads and impersonal nature of most public defenders, the Mothers believe that their families are receiving limited options, inadequate legal advise and therefore; WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in gaining access to experienced "pro-bono" and/or activist attorneys as well as the free resources provided by non-profit social justice and legal advocacy groups.


Point #2 - First Response Teams: The Mothers felt that when their loved ones were either killed or captured by the police that they were left in the hands of the enemy and without any support, information or direction on how to best move forward and therefore; WE WANT and NEED community activists to help us develop independently community controlled & trained first response teams in every borough or county that can confirm and be on the ground within 24 hours of any future incident.


Point #3 - Security and Support At Court Appearances: The Mothers all feel that because community activist support eventually becomes selective and minimal, that they are disrespected by both the courthouse authorities, mainstream media and therefore;   WE WANT and NEED community activists to collectively promote and make a strong presence felt at all court appearances and; To always provide trained security & legal observers... when the families are traveling to, inside and from the court house.


Point #4 - Emotional/Spiritual Healing and Grief and Loss Counseling: After the protest rallies, demonstrations, justice marches and television cameras are gone the Mothers all feel alone and abandoned and therefore;                                                                             WE WANT and NEED for community activists to refer/help provide the families with clergy, professional therapy & cultural outlets needed in order to gain strength to move forward. 


Point #5 -  Parents Internal Communication Network: The Mothers agreed as actual victims, that they are the very best qualified in regards to providing the needed empathy and trust for an independent hotline & contact resource for all of the parents and families who want to reach out to someone they can mutually trust that is able understand what they are going through and therefore;           WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in providing a Parents Internal Communication Network to reach that objective.


Point #6 -  Community Offices and Meeting Spaces: The Mothers agreed that there is an extreme need for safe office spaces where community members and family victims are able to go to for both confidential crisis intervention and holding organizing meetings and therefore;                                                                                                                                                                                                 WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in securing those safe spaces inside of our own neighborhoods.   


Point #7 - Political Education Classes and Workshop Training: The Mothers agreed in implementing the "each one, teach one"   strategy and therefore;                                                                                                                                                                                         WE WANT and NEEDfor community activists to help us in being trained as educators and organizers in Know Your Rights, Cop Watch, First Response, Emergency Preparedness & Community Control over all areas of public safety & the police in their respective neighborhoods.


Point #8 - Support From Politicians and Elected Officials: The Mothers believe that most political candidates and incumbent elected officials selectively & unfairly represent only those cases which they think to be politically advantageous to their own selfish personal success on election day and therefore;                                                                                                                                WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in either publicly exposing or endorsing these aforementioned political candidates and/or elected officials to their constituents solely based upon the uncompromising principles of serving the people.


Point #9 - Research and Documentation: The Mothers believe that research/case studies, surveys, petitions, historical archives, investigative news reporting and events should be documented and made readily available in order to counter the self-serving  police misinformation promoted by the system and therefore;                                                                                                                          WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us by securing college/university students, law firms, film makers, authors, journalists and professional research firms to find, document & tell the people the truth about police terror & the pipeline to prison.


Point #10 - Grassroots Community Outreach and Information: The Mothers believe that far too much attention is being geared towards TV camera sensationalism with the constant organizing of marches & rallies "downtown"  and therefore; WE WANT and NEED for community activists to provide a fair balance by helping us to build in the schools, projects, churches and inside of the subway trains and stations of our Black, brown and oppressed communities where the majority of the police terror is actually taking place. 



100,000 protest in San Francisco, CA

Pictures From Women's
Marches on Every Continent



My Heartfelt "Thank You!"

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Several days ago I received a message from both of our lawyers, Bob Boyle and Bret Grote, informing me that the latest lab tests came in from the Discovery Requests.  

And they told me that the Hepatitis C infection level is at zero and as of today I'm Hepatitis C free. 

This is in part due to some fine lawyering by Bret and Bob who—remember—filed the suit while I was in the throes of a diabetic coma, unconscious and thus unable to file for myself.  

But it's also due to you, the people.  Brothers and sisters who supported our efforts, who contributed to this fight with money, time, protests and cramming court rooms on our behalf, who sent cards, who prayed, who loved deeply.  

I can't thank you all individually but if you hear my voice or read my words know that I am thanking you, all of you. And I'm thanking you for showing once again the Power of the People. 

This battle ain't over, for the State's cruelest gift is my recent diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver. With your love we shall prevail again.  I thank you all. Our noble Dr.'s Corey Weinstein, who told us what to look for, and Joseph Harris who gave me my first diagnosis and who became the star of the courtroom by making the mysteries of Hep C understandable to all.  An internist working up in Harlem, Dr. Harris found few thrills better than telling his many Hep C patients that they're cured.  

This struggle ain't just for me y'all. 

Because of your efforts thousands of Pennsylvania prisoners now have hope of healing from the ravages of Hepatitis C. [singing] "Let us march on 'til victory is won." So goes the old Negro Spiritual, "The Black National Anthem." 

We are making it a reality. I love you all.

From Prison Nation,

This is Mumia Abu-Jamal

Prison Radio, May 27, 2017


Court order to disclose DA files in Mumia Abu-Jamal's legal case [video]

This 9-minute video gives background on new revelations about conflict of interest -- an appeals judge who had previously been part of the prosecution team -- in upholding the 1982 conviction of journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal on charges of killing a police officer:


A ruling to implement a judge's recent order for "discovery" could be made on May 30.

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!



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











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)




May 20, 2017

Progress in Rev. Pinkney's Appeal!

At last, there is some forward motion in Rev. Pinkney's appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. Last September, Rev. Pinkney's legal team filed an application for leave to appeal his case to the staet supreme court. On Wednesday, the court issued an order granting oral arguments to be made in support of that application.

The court also requested additional briefings on two of the major topics in Rev. Pinkney's appeal. These issues are known as the 404(b) issue and the 168.937 issue. The first issue relates to the misuse of Rev. Pinkney's constitutionally protected political and community activities to influence the verdict, and the second issues relates to the question of whether he was prosecuted under a statute that is actually only a penalty provision, that is, it can't be used to prosecute anyone.

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but this is at least a step in the right direction. Rev. Pinkney's attorney said that most applications for leave to appeal to the supreme court are simply denied. This order indicates that they are interested in hearing more about some of the important issues at stake.

It may be months before the oral arguments are heard, but as soon as they are scheduled, word will go out to pack the courtroom that day!

You can read the order here: http://publicdocs.courts.mi.gov/sct/public/orders/154374_147_01.pdf


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.



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

        Dear Supporters:

        Today marks the 5th Anniversary of when the United States Supreme Court Reinstated my Wrongful Life Sentence. 

        The prosecution in my case turned over NEVER seen before Case Discovery to my legal team. This Case Discovery I speak on was withheld from me and ALL of my prior attorneys for 18½ years. Not only was the prosecution's only witness was labeled a SUSPECT in this same murder I've been wrongfully convicted of, I was also furnished with a written statement from this same witness, for almost two decades I was told this witness never made a written statement. So I had to honor a police summary of this witness. Well, this statement shows my innocence and contradicts what this witness testified to from my preliminary hearing to my trial. To make a long story short, the prosecution in my case let this false testimony go un-correct from the lower court all the way up to the United States Supreme Court who relied on this testimony to Reinstate my conviction when I was a free man. This was done knowingly.

        For the last 21 years, my family and I have been living this nightmare. Thanks to my legal team headed by Michael Wiseman and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, who have been working extremely hard to secure my freedom. The judge who is presiding over my case have seen enough evidence to award me an Evidentiary Hearing on my claims of Prosecution Misconduct (Brady Violations). 

        These hearings will be taking place on July 11, 12, 13 2017 starting at 9am in courtroom No. 8 at the Dauphin County Courthouse, 101 Market Street, 5th Floor, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101.

        Feel free to join me, my family and supporters in my pursuit of my future. For people in the New York Metropolitan area, The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice will be sponsoring a FREE roundtrip bus ride for my family, friends and supporters. 

        There are seats available on the first come basis. So please send an email asap and make your reservation.

        Within the next couple weeks I will be transferred to Dauphin County Prison to await my court dates. I will see you there. I pray that this is the beginning of the end of my 21year nightmare. Thanks for your support and I encourage you to continue. Please continue to support me in any way you can. For those who are in position to financially contribute please do so--It's needed. My freedom is on the horizon.

        Free the Innocent,

        "The Pain Within"

        Lorenzo "Cat" Johnson

        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 websiteand contribute to Lorenzo's campaign for freedom!

        Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                    DF 1036

                    SCI Mahanoy

                    301 Morea Rd.

                    Frackville, PA 17932


                      directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

        - Team Free Lorenzo Johnson











        1)   Recipients Fear Cuts to Food Stamps and Disability Aid in Trump Budget

         MAY 31, 2017




        JACKSON, Miss. — Hoyt Cantrell drove a truck for more than 20 years before seizures — 23 of them since 2009 — cost him his livelihood. His two-bedroom house in the heart of this Southern state capital is partially boarded up, with no running water or electricity, but he cannot afford much better.

        He has tried hard to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance and food stamps. So far, he has failed.

        To President Trump, people like Mr. Cantrell are the exceptions in the expanding world of American poverty. In the view of his administration, access to food stamps is far too easy, and disability is just a matter of finding a friendly judge.

        The budget that the president has proposed for the coming fiscal year would expand a work requirement for "able-bodied" adults receiving help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, slicing $192 billion over 10 years. He would also trim $70 billion from Social Security's disability program by tightening access.

        "We need people to go to work," said Mick Mulvaney, the White House's budget director and the proposal's chief architect. "If you're on food stamps, and you're able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you're on disability insurance, and you're not supposed to be — if you're not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work. We need everybody pulling in the same direction."

        Mr. Cantrell, 50, is not surprised that Mr. Trump is trying to make a hard process even harder. "The bigwigs are going to do what they want anyway," Mr. Cantrell said. "I just live day to day on what God gives me. But it's hard to do sometimes."

        To Mr. Mulvaney, the president's proposal is the essence of compassion, a policy shift from Washington to move the poor from dependence to work — and on to true economic success. The population on food stamps has swollen drastically since the Great Recession of 2008, to a peak of almost 48 million in 2013, up from 28 million five years before.

        With the economy improved and employment nearing capacity, the number of people receiving food stamps remains stubbornly high; 44 million people received the benefit in 2016. Social Security Disability Insurance rolls have also been sticky. About 11 million people, including workers, spouses and children, were on disability in 2016, up from nine million in 2008 and six million in 1996.

        Such numbers have convinced supporters of work requirements that far too many people are taking advantage of the system. The federal government already requires some adults without dependents to work for benefits like food stamps and cash assistance. Now, more Americans — including possibly those with children and those who are older than 49 — could be required to work as well.

        "You need to make sure people on the programs taking in these benefits are actually eligible," said John Nothdurft, director of government relations at the Heartland Institute, a conservative research group in Illinois. "So the more we can get rid of waste, fraud and abuse, the better we can help the people who actually do need the assistance."

        But advocates for the poor fear that Mr. Trump's policies underestimate the difficulty of obtaining benefits — and could overestimate the capacity of some beneficiaries to work.

        To most who see her, Shakeitha Perry would fit the definition of "able-bodied adult," despite the $735 in disability and $56 in food stamps that she receives each month. Ms. Perry sometimes volunteers at a center to help other disabled people, has no children to care for at home and displays no obvious physical ailment.

        But for six years of her childhood, Ms. Perry was repeatedly molested and raped by her stepfather. She stopped speaking altogether after she was removed from her home, and when she finally could put together sentences again, she was left terrified of men, suffering through frequent panic attacks and navigating daily doses of medication to cope with bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.

        Now she fears she could be a prime target as Mr. Trump takes a page from the 1990s welfare overhaul, which created work requirements and established time limits for public assistance.

        "I don't think he knows how people like me will have to try to survive because of something he might do," Ms. Perry said of Mr. Trump. "He doesn't know what I have to endure. He doesn't know what the next person has to endure."

        In Knoxville, Tenn., Aaron Gilmore, 30, does not see an easy road to the dole either. One day last week, he had spent the morning doing some paving work as a day laborer, bringing in less than $6 an hour, before stopping for something to eat at a homeless ministry.

        "They call this skid row," he said. "My dad told me, 'Son, you don't want to end up there.' And that's where I ended up. It's just so hard here."

        He knows from food stamps, having grown up on them. "My mother raised me and my sister by herself, my dad was always in prison," he said. "And she worked as many jobs as she could." He was on food stamps himself, recently, but was kicked off by Tennessee's work requirements during a dry spell of finding jobs.

        His mother was also on disability, though it had taken her years to get it, despite a gunshot wound, hepatitis C and a host of other health problems. Though he has worked off and on at low-wage jobs — working in the kitchen at McDonald's, mowing lawns, doing day labor, jobs made difficult with no transportation and no reliable place to sleep — he had applied six times for disability benefits because of mental problems. He was denied all six times.

        "I think disability is as strict as it could be right now," he said. Especially, he said, for people like those in this mission, who rely on caseworkers to help them with the most basic of tasks, "just getting from A to B."

        Despite what looks like swollen rosters, the current social safety net is largely underfunded, said Micah Dutro, a lawyer at Disability Rights Mississippi, a nonprofit that represents disabled clients. Many people who need help are not receiving it.

        Since last January, about 83,000 people receiving food stamps in Mississippi between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents have been required to work, or prove they are looking for work, at least 20 hours a week to receive food stamps, according to Beth Orlansky, advocacy director of the Mississippi Center for Justice, a group focused on issues of racial and economic inequality. The rules originated a decade ago in Washington, but because of its high poverty rates, Mississippi had been allowed a waiver since 2006.

        This year, state officials chose not to apply for an extension of that waiver, and "able-bodied adults" got new rules, Ms. Orlansky said.

        While asking people to work might sound like a good idea "in the abstract," she said, a state like Mississippi — with large pockets of poverty, sprawling rural communities and some of the highest rates of people on disability and food stamps — does not have enough jobs in the right places. Most people receiving food stamps and disability are doing some sort of work, but they need better skills and education to rise above poverty wages.

        "It's easy to pick on people who can't really stand up for themselves and point them out as leeches on the federal government," Ms. Orlansky said. "But it's not helpful to our society."

        Mr. Dutro said he was particularly frustrated with the portrayal of disability as easy to get when in most cases it can take years of appeals and court hearings. It can be doubly hard for people like Ms. Perry, who appear on the surface as high-functioning adults with no physical problems.

        "When I hear people say that it is too easy to get on disability, I wonder what system they are talking about," Mr. Dutro said.

        Melissa Cooper, 57, began receiving disability benefits shortly after a bullet tore through her spine and paralyzed her while she was sitting in a car outside a store in Memphis, Tenn. For 20 years she could not work as she learned to cope with life as a paraplegic and raise three children with the help of family. Then last year, she earned a bachelor's degree in English at the University of Mississippi and got a job helping others who are disabled learn to live independently at the Living Independence for Everyone Center in Jackson.

        Mr. Trump's possible vetting of disabled benefits both scares and disturbs her. Though she can work now, she said it was more complicated than assessing whether someone was physically ready to enter the work force.

        "He cannot put himself in my shoes and know the mental trauma associated with me having lost my mobility or how long it took me to get my head back on straight and to want to live," Ms. Cooper said as she shuffled in her wheelchair and began to cry.

        At the East Tennessee Technology Access Center, a nonprofit organization in Knoxville that helps people with disabilities learn to use technologies, there was only anxiety and gloom about the proposed changes. Not that the disability benefits program was perfect, but that the risks of imperfections in no way justified the risks of withholding help from those who deserve it.

        "I keep thinking of something my grandmother used to say, about throwing the baby out with the bath water," said Joel Simmons, 55, a counselor at the center who seven years ago had his spinal cord transected in a car accident. "It's cutting off your nose to spite your face. Are we going to just have survival of the fittest?"

        Mr. Simmons's condition is easy to see. But there are others who unquestionably need these meager benefits, he said, but whose disabilities are not as immediately clear.

        "Who's going to decide," he said of any plan to restrict access. "You've got a lot of hidden disabilities. Who's going to make these decisions? Donald Trump?"



        2)  The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' at 50: Still Full of Joy and Whimsy

        Leer en español 

         MAY 30, 2017



        A half-century after its release, the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is a relic of a vanished era. Like a Fabergé egg or a Persian miniature, it speaks of an irretrievable past, when time moved differently, craftsmanship involved bygone tools and art was experienced more rarely and with fewer distractions.

        It's an analog heirloom that's still resisting oblivion — perhaps because, even in its moment, it was already contemplating a broader sweep of time. The music on "Sgt. Pepper" reached back far before rock as well as out into an unmapped cosmos, while its words — seesawing between Paul McCartney's affability and John Lennon's tartness — offered compassion for multiple generations.

        We simply can't hear "Sgt. Pepper" now the way it affected listeners on arrival in 1967. Its innovations and quirks have been too widely emulated, its oddities long since absorbed. Sounds that were initially startling — the Indian instruments and phrasing of George Harrison's "Within You Without You," the tape-spliced steam-organ collage of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," the orchestral vastnesses of "A Day in the Life" — have taken on a patina of nostalgia. "Sgt. Pepper" and its many musical progeny have blurred into a broader memory of "psychedelia," a sonic vocabulary (available to current music-makers via sampling) that provides instant, predigested allusions to the 1960s. Meanwhile, the grand lesson of "Sgt. Pepper" — that anything goes in the studio — has long since been taken for granted.

        "Sgt. Pepper" has been analyzed, researched, oral-historied and dissected down to the minute differences between pressings, and because the Beatles industry never misses an anniversary, it has been repeatedly reissued. The 50th-anniversary deluxe version is exhaustive. It has been remixed and once again remastered to give the album a broader soundstage and crisper detail, giving more separation to individual voices and instruments. (For the older blend, it also includes the mono mix from 1967.) The new box rightfully incorporates "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane," the masterpieces recorded alongside "Sgt. Pepper" but released before the album. It also has outtakes, comprehensive reading material, video clips from 1967 and a documentary about making the album. (The anecdotes are now familiar because the film was done for the album's 25th anniversary.)

        "Sgt. Pepper" was not universally adored when it appeared. The New York Times panned it, not entirely incorrectly, as "busy, hip and cluttered." As pop tastes have swung between elaborate musical edifices and back-to-basics reactions, "Sgt. Pepper" has been by turns embraced, reviled and simply ignored.

        But now that rock itself is being shunted toward the fringes of pop, it's a good time to free "Sgt. Pepper" from the burden of either forecasting rock's eclectic future or pointing toward a fussy dead end. It doesn't have to be "the most important rock & roll album ever made," as Rolling Stone declared in 2012, or some wrongheaded counter-revolutionary coup against "real" rock 'n' roll. It's somewhere in between, juxtaposing the profound and the merely clever.

        Although the album as a whole is synergistic, song by song it's a mix of milestones, like "A Day in the Life" and "Within You Without You," with meticulously wrought baubles like "Lovely Rita" and "Good Morning Good Morning." Two of its most remarkable songs, "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane," aren't even on the album. But with 50 years of hindsight, "Sgt. Pepper" remains a joyful, whimsical and revelatory experiment. Even the album's slightest songs are full of musical and verbal twists.

        For people who, like me, heard the album brand-new in 1967, "Sgt. Pepper" remains inseparable from its era. It was released on June 1, the beginning of the Summer of Love. It was a time of prosperity, naïve optimism and giddy discovery, when the first baby boomers were just reaching their 20s and mind-expanding drugs had their most benign reputation.

        In 1967, candy-colored psychedelic pop and rock provided a short-lived but euphoric diversion from conflicts that would almost immediately resurface: the Vietnam War and America's racial tension. "Sgt. Pepper" remains tied to that brief moment of what many boomers remember as innocence and possibility — the feeling captured perfectly in "Getting Better," even as Lennon taunts, "It can't get no worse."

        Yet for the Beatles, that instant of cultural innocence was a strategic artistic opening. By 1967, the Beatles were by no means ingenuous. They had already been through exponentially expanding pop stardom, endless screaming crowds and the fierce American backlash against Lennon's flippant 1966 remark that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now."

        After three years of hectic touring and recording, and of jaw-droppingly rapid development as songwriters amid the tempest, the Beatles decided to get off the road, where they couldn't hear themselves play, and to focus on making studio albums. They took five months — an eternity at the time, now barely a pause for a new wardrobe and sponsorship deal — to record the "Sgt. Pepper" album, "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane." With "Revolver," they had embraced studio surrealism and partly jettisoned love songs, and for its successor they would have more time to think and tinker. Yet they still worked amazingly fast, harnessing the era's primitive technology to pack wild ideas onto four-track tape. Each "Sgt. Pepper" song creates its own sonic realm, far removed from the live Beatles' two guitars, bass and drums.

        They gave themselves a usefully loose concept. They would become Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, setting aside all outside expectations of the Beatles and treating the album as a performance complete with canned audience reaction: a theatrical, distancing device.

        While the Beatles had traveled the world, only "Within You Without You" flaunted the exotic. Mostly, Sgt. Pepper's band was almost provincially British: wandering London in "A Day in the Life," telescoping an entire middle-class English life (complete with prospective grandchildren) above a music-hall bounce in "When I'm 64." Stalwart British brass answered the rowdy distorted guitar in "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"; "She's Leaving Home" is a stately waltz set to a harp and parlor orchestra that might have accompanied high tea. One of the Beatles' paths forward led through an expanded embrace of the past.

        They rejected any generation gap. The album cover set the 1967 Beatles, with their mustaches and shiny mock band uniforms, alongside their suited, mop-topped pop-star wax statues — so recent, yet so distant — and cultural figures like Karlheinz Stockhausen, Sonny Liston and W. C. Fields, a rightful claim to adult significance. But the LP was also packaged with cardboard cutouts — a mustache, military stripes — like something for children. While the Summer of Love nurtured hippie dreams of creating a new world, the Beatles reminded listeners of how entrenched the old one was, and how comforting.

        But at the same time, "Sgt. Pepper" gazed forward in sound and sense. The Beatles and their producer, George Martin, concocted eerie, unforgettable sounds from hand-played instruments and analog tape tricks; "Strawberry Fields," which miraculously interweaves two arrangements of the song in two keys, remains a marvel of internal disorientation. And despite all the vintage references, "Sgt. Pepper" situated its songs in the present: sometimes a rushed, workaday world and sometimes a mind-altered escape. The album's magnificent, sobering finale, "A Day in the Life," understood — and anticipated — the ethical and emotional ambiguities of a world perceived through mass media, even back when the news media was just newspapers, radio and television.

        "Sgt. Pepper" had an immediate, short-lived bandwagon effect, as some late-1960s bands sought to figure out how to make those strange Beatles sounds, and others got more studio time and backup musicians than they needed. Artistic pretensions also notched up. And the pendulum started its long-term swings: progressive rock and corporate rock would be swatted back by punk and disco, hair metal would be blasted by grunge and hip-hop. The studio artifice that "Sgt. Pepper" daringly flaunted has long since become commonplace.

        Yet while "Sgt. Pepper" has been both praised and blamed for raising the technical and conceptual ante on rock, its best aspect was much harder to propagate. That was its impulsiveness, its lighthearted daring, its willingness to try the odd sound and the unexpected idea. Listening to "Sgt. Pepper" now, what comes through most immediately is not the pressure the Beatles put on themselves or the musicianly challenges they surmounted. It's the sheer improbability of the whole enterprise, still guaranteed to raise a smile 50 years on.



        3)  In Police Shootings, Finding Jurors Who Will Say 'Not Guilty'

         MAY 31, 2017



        When two Albuquerque police officers went on trial for murder last fall after the fatal shooting of a mentally ill homeless man, things did not look good for them. Police videos appeared to show the man turning away before officers fired. Their release had been preceded by a long history of police violence and followed by six days of protests. But defense lawyers thought they still had a chance — if they could get the right jury.

        "A jury was going to make that decision," said Sam Bregman, who defended one of the officers. "And picking that jury was the single most important aspect of the entire trial."

        Modern jury selection is a dark art practiced by a cottage industry of consultants who promise to sort antagonists from sympathizers using mock trials, questionnaires, exhaustive reviews of social media profiles and even photographs of prospective jurors' homes.

        The scrutiny is likely to be no less intense as jury selection begins this week in two highly publicized police shootings. One, the death of an unarmed black man during a traffic stop in Cincinnati, has already resulted in one hung jury. The other, in which a man's girlfriend live-streamed the moments after he was fatally wounded in a St. Paul suburb, also during a traffic stop, goes to trial for the first time.

        Choosing a jury has become more difficult as law enforcement violence has become a national issue and the recent profusion of videos of shootings has made prosecutions of officers more common and jurors less inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

        Prosecutors are looking for jurors who are usually more suspicious of law enforcement — liberals, minorities and people with arrest records — while the defense prefers conservatives, whites and the well-off, who tend to be more trusting of police officers. But those assumptions are not foolproof.

        A series of incidents in which videos appeared to contradict police accounts has eroded juries' trust. "A lot of people look at cops and say, 'Well, you probably did it because I've seen it over and over again on television,'" said Thomas P. Baggott, a 71-year-old clinical psychologist in Tucson who almost exclusively assists law enforcement defendants in lawsuits.

        That has given the jury selection process in police shooting trials an unusual twist: Discovering whether a potential juror has seen a video of the shooting is crucial. "Many people who want to be on a jury will deny they have seen the video," Mr. Baggott said. "We have to get them to confess to us."

        For prosecutors, it remains excruciatingly difficult to win a conviction against a police officer — juries must vote unanimously, so it takes only one holdout to derail a guilty verdict.

        Mr. Baggott, who spent 25 years as a Pennsylvania state trooper, was on one side of the jury selection face-off in Albuquerque.

        That battle offers a primer for what is likely to occur in the two forthcoming trials. In one, Ray Tensing, who was a University of Cincinnati campus police officer when he fatally shot Samuel DuBose, 43, during a traffic stop, faces charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. In his first trial, four jurors opposed conviction on either charge.

        Mr. Tensing is white, while Mr. DuBose was black. Last week, the judge ruled that a Confederate flag T-shirt that Mr. Tensing wore on the day of the shooting could not be admitted as evidence.

        In the other case, Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who is Latino, will stand trial for manslaughter after he fatally shot Philando Castile, 32, during a traffic stop. According to prosecutors, Mr. Castile, who was licensed to carry a gun, told the officer that he had a firearm moments before he was shot. Mr. Castile, who was black, was in the car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her young daughter.

        Her Facebook video of the aftermath has been widely seen, but audio and video from the squad car has not been released publicly and is expected to be shown at the trial.

        Video, however, can be far from convincing. In Albuquerque, video of the 2014 shooting of the homeless man, James Boyd, 38, and the hourslong standoff that preceded it had spread through the city, leaving virtually everyone with an opinion about what had happened — and lowering public esteem for the police in general. The case, Albuquerque's first indictment of police officers in a shooting in at least three decades, riveted the city.

        Mr. Baggott offered free jury consultation to the two officers, Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy, after they were indicted on a charge of murder.

        On the opposing side was another firm, National Jury Project, which was hired by the special prosector assigned to the case, Randi McGinn, to advise on jury selection and other issues.

        The two sides had a pool of 1,450 potential jurors, of whom only basics like names and addresses were known. Focusing on the first few hundred on the list, the two sides set about searching the names online and checking Facebook profiles. Mr. Baggott even checked the profiles of their friends: A juror who may not reveal much online, he said, "usually adopts the views and attitudes of people they're friends with."

        George V. Laughrun II, a lawyer from Charlotte, N.C., who defended a white police officer in a 2015 manslaughter trial for the shooting of an unarmed black man, recalled one potential juror in particular. "She had answered every question perfectly," he said.

        But on Facebook, she expressed strong views against the defendant, enabling Mr. Laughrun to get her disqualified.

        Prosecutors in Albuquerque added a sheaf of questions to a 14-page questionnaire, which included what causes potential jurors had contributed to (law enforcement, the homeless and the National Rifle Association were among the choices) and whether they had ever felt threatened by someone with mental illness.

        Mr. Baggott, the defense consultant, took a different tack, dispatching workers to photograph the first 250 jurors' homes and automobiles.

        "I can tell a heck of a lot more about lifestyle and where a juror is going to come down by looking at your house," Mr. Baggott said. "One guy has a white picket fence, a pickup and car in the driveway, a couple of kids' toys on the porch. Everything's orderly, the lawn's mowed. This is going to be a person who pays attention to detail, a person who's reasonable and is hard-working."

        A ramshackle house and beat-up car suggest a less stable and dependable juror, he said. Vehicles offer a bonus: bumper stickers with political and religious messages that shed light on a jurors' leanings.

        Both sides tried to sift out the handful of candidates that might particularly help or hinder their case. Ms. McGinn looked for potential opponents who were also leaders — people in management, or who answered questions confidently or forcefully.

        "If you have a question about that person, that person is more dangerous to you than a follower, because they'll lead the jury in the other direction," she said.

        The defense focused on finding "sleepers" — candidates who hid their true views of the case in a bid to win a seat on the jury — through artful questioning during the selection process. Among those who passed muster, defense lawyers flagged people in jobs that dealt with facts, like engineers who based decisions on calculations, or accountants. "They believed in order," Luis Robles, who represented one of the officers, said in an interview. "Even if they're not leaders, they'd fight for us if they agreed with us."

        The jury, six men and six women, was seated in September, heard 12 days of testimony and deliberated for two days. By mid-October, they were a hung jury: nine favored acquittal, including all six women. Three favored conviction, including the accountant.

        The judge declared a mistrial. Officials elected not to seek a new trial.

        Ms. McGinn said she was disappointed, but unsurprised. "We recognized the impossibility of our task," she said. "It's a huge thing to find 12 people who will convict a police officer. This was the first prosecution here. I expected a 15-minute acquittal."

        Mr. Robles, on the other hand, was disappointed because there was no acquittal — and because the net they used to catch hostile jurors wasn't fine enough. "Soon as the verdict is read, the accountant goes downstairs and holds an impromptu news conference," he said. "I think, 'That's not like an accountant.'"

        Seeking to determine what went wrong, the lawyers asked investigators to perform some additional spadework. They found that while he held a job at an accounting firm, he also wrote online, under a pen name, about social justice and other issues.

        "We missed it," Mr. Robles said. "Shame on us."



        4)  The Past 50 Years of Israeli Occupation. And the Next

        "The only real fallout from continued occupation are major increases in American financing of it, with Israel now receiving more military assistance from the United States than the rest of the world does combined. ...or American politicians, electoral and campaign finance incentives still dictate a baseline of unconditional support for Israel. The United States has given more than $120 billion to the country since the occupation began, spent tens of billions of dollars backing pro-Israel regimes ruling over anti-Israel populations in Egypt and Jordan, and provided billions more to the Palestinian Authority on condition that it continue preventing attacks and protests against Israeli settlements. And those expenditures do not reckon the cost to American security interests of Arab and Muslim resentment toward the United States for enabling and bankrolling the oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank."

        JERUSALEM — Three months after the 1967 war, Israel's ruling Mapai Party held a discussion on the future of the newly conquered territories. Golda Meir, who would become Israel's leader a year and a half later, asked Prime Minister Levi Eshkol what he planned to do with the more than one million Arabs now living under Israeli rule.

        "I get it," Mr. Eshkol jokingly replied. "You want the dowry, but you don't like the bride!" Mrs. Meir responded, "My soul yearns for the dowry, and to let someone else take the bride."

        On this 50th anniversary of the war, it is clear that over the half-century that followed, Israel managed to fulfill Mrs. Meir's wish, keeping control of the land indefinitely without wedding itself to the inhabitants. This resilient and eminently sustainable arrangement, so often mischaracterized as a state of limbo assumed to be temporary, has stood on three main pillars: American backing, Palestinian weakness and Israeli indifference. Together, the three ensure that for the Israeli government, continuing its occupation is far less costly than the concessions required to end it.

        Each pillar, in turn, draws support from a core myth promoted by leaders in American, Palestinian or Israeli society. For Americans, the myth that the occupation is unsustainable is a crucial element in maintaining and excusing the United States' financial and diplomatic abetting of it. From the halls of the State Department to editorials in major newspapers and the pronouncements of pro-peace organizations like J Street, Americans are told that Israel will have to choose, and very soon, to give Palestinians either citizenship or independence, and choose to either remain a democracy or become an apartheid state.

        Yet none of these groups calls on the United States to force this supposedly imminent choice, no matter how many times Israel demonstrates that it prefers a different, far easier option — continued occupation — with no real consequences. The only real fallout from continued occupation are major increases in American financing of it, with Israel now receiving more military assistance from the United States than the rest of the world does combined. Mistaking finger-wagging for pressure, these groups spend far too much time on phrasing their criticism of settlements and occupation, and far too little asking what can be done about it.

        What supports the fiction that Israel cannot continue subjugating the Palestinians — and therefore that the United States will not be complicit in several more decades of subjugation — is a seemingly endless parade of coming perils, each of which, it is claimed or hoped, will cause Israel to end its occupation in the near future.

        Initially, the threat was of an attack by the Arab states. But that soon crumbled: Israel made a separate peace with the strongest one, Egypt; the Arabs proved incapable of defending even sovereign Lebanon from Israeli invasion; and in recent years, many Arab states have failed to uphold even their longstanding boycott of Israel.

        Then there was the demographic threat of a Palestinian majority arising between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. But official Israeli and Palestinian population statistics indicate that Jews have been a minority in the territory Israel controls for several years now, and with no repercussions: A majority of the world's nations still speak of undemocratic rule by a Jewish minority as a hypothetical future, not an unacceptable present.

        Later came the threat of renewed Palestinian violence. But Israel, with the strongest army in the region, has repeatedly demonstrated that it can endure and outlast whatever bursts of resistance the divided and exhausted Palestinians can muster.

        The next threats, too, came up empty. The rise of nominally pro-Palestinian powers like India and China has, to date, had no negative effect on Israel, which has strengthened ties with both countries. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, though noisy on some American campuses, has yet to make a dent in Israel's economy or its citizens' self-reported level of life satisfaction, among the highest in the world.

        Advocacy among some Palestinian intellectuals and their allies for enfranchisement in a single state, the so-called one-state solution, has not been endorsed by a single Palestinian faction and is a long way from drawing majority support in the West Bank and Gaza. If the proposal ever gathered momentum, Israel could easily counter it by withdrawing from the West Bank, as it did from Gaza in 2005.

        The latest, though surely not the last, in this list of threats is the prospect of political changes within America and its Jewish community. Israel has become a more partisan issue, and polls show a majority of Democrats in favor of some economic sanctions or other action against Israeli settlements. Among American Jews, a growing rate of intermarriage with gentiles is lessening attachment to Israel, and Jewish organizations are increasingly divided over support for the country. Despite such vexation, mainly among liberal Jews, surveys over nearly four decades have shown overall American backing for Israel over the Palestinians only increasing, and none of the hand-wringing has translated into changes in American policy.

        For American politicians, electoral and campaign finance incentives still dictate a baseline of unconditional support for Israel. The United States has given more than $120 billion to the country since the occupation began, spent tens of billions of dollars backing pro-Israel regimes ruling over anti-Israel populations in Egypt and Jordan, and provided billions more to the Palestinian Authority on condition that it continue preventing attacks and protests against Israeli settlements. And those expenditures do not reckon the cost to American security interests of Arab and Muslim resentment toward the United States for enabling and bankrolling the oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

        For the most part, the Palestinians themselves have done much to support the status quo. The myth upheld by leaders of the Palestinian government is that cooperating with Israel's occupation — which, in fact, makes the occupation less costly, more invisible to Israelis and easier to sustain — will somehow bring it to an end. This will happen, the theory goes, either because Palestinian good behavior will generate pressure from the contented Israeli public or because Israel, once deprived of excuses, will be forced by the United States and the international community to grant Palestinians their independence.

        This is the myth underlying the continued support of the Oslo arrangements long after they were set to expire in 1999. It was also the basis for the two-year plan of former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to build the institutions of a Palestinian state, and for the 12 years of quiescence and close security cooperation with Israel under President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.

        A counterpart to this myth, propounded by Israeli officials and regurgitated by American policy makers, is that Israel will not make concessions if pressured but will do so if it is warmly embraced. The historical record demonstrates the opposite.

        Severe pressure from the United States, including the threat of economic sanctions, forced Israel to evacuate Sinai and Gaza after the 1956 Suez crisis. It also compelled Israel to commit to a partial Sinai pullout in 1975. It made Israel acquiesce to the principle of its withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war, including the West Bank, in the 1978 Camp David accords. And it obliged Israel to reverse its incursions into southern Lebanon in 1977 and 1978.

        By the same token, it was Palestinian pressure, including mass demonstrations and violence, that precipitated every Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territory. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who agreed to the first Israeli pullouts from parts of the West Bank and Gaza, made his initial proposals for Palestinian self-government in 1989, when he was the defense minister attempting to quash the first intifada. Even Yitzhak Shamir, then the prime minister and a vehement opponent of ceding territory to the Arabs, put forward an autonomy plan for Palestinians later that year.

        As the intifada developed into an increasingly militarized conflict in 1993, and Israel sealed off the occupied territories in March that year, Israeli negotiators held secret meetings with Palestinians near Oslo. There, they asked for an end to the intifada and soon agreed to evacuate the military government and establish Palestinian self-rule. In 1996, the clashes and riots known as the tunnel uprising led directly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's promise to negotiate a withdrawal from most of Hebron, which Israel formally committed to do several months later.

        During the second intifada, rocket attacks from Gaza increased sevenfold in the year before Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced Israel would evacuate. (According to Israel's talking point, the army pulled out and got rockets; in fact, it was already getting rockets beforeit pulled out.) Shortly after the Gaza disengagement and the close of the intifada, a plurality of Israelis voted for the Kadima Party, led by the acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who ran on a platform of withdrawing from the roughly 91 percent of the West Bank that lies east of the separation barrier.

        As bloodshed diminished, though, Israel's sense of urgency about the Palestinian problem dissipated. No serious proposals for unilateral withdrawal were made again until the level of violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem escalated in late 2015.

        Finally, for Israel, the most pervasive myth is that there is no Palestinian partner for peace. Palestinians are irredeemably rejectionist, runs this argument; they will not give up on their impossible goals and have never made real compromises, in spite of every generous Israeli proposal. The truth is that the history of the Palestinian national movement is one long series of military defeats and ideological concessions. Each of those slowly moved the Palestine Liberation Organization from rejection of any Israeli presence to acceptance and recognition of Israel on the pre-1967 lines, compromising 78 percent of historic Palestine. For years, the international community bullied and cajoled the P.L.O. to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, the remaining 22 percent.

        When the P.L.O. finally did so, in 1988, the rug was pulled out from under it. Palestinians woke up to find that 22 percent of the homeland had been redefined as their new maximalist demand. Shimon Peres was among the few Israeli leaders to recognize the magnitude of the Palestinians' concession. He called it Israel's "greatest achievement."

        In the last quarter-century of intermittent American-led negotiations, the powerlessness of the Palestinians has led to still further concessions. The P.L.O. has accepted that Israel would annex settlement blocs, consented to give up large parts of East Jerusalem, acknowledged that any agreement on the return of Palestinian refugees will satisfy Israel's demographic concerns and agreed to various limitations on the military capabilities and sovereignty of a future state of Palestine.

        During that time, Palestinians were never presented with what Israel offered every neighboring country: full withdrawal from occupied territory. Egypt obtained sovereignty over the last inch of sand in Sinai. Jordan established peace based on the former international boundary, recovering 147 square miles. Syria received a 1998 proposal from Prime Minister Netanyahu (on which he subsequently backtracked) for a total evacuation from the Golan Heights. And Lebanon achieved a withdrawal to the United Nations-defined border without granting Israel recognition, peace or even a cease-fire agreement.

        The Palestinians, though, remain too weak, politically and militarily, to secure such an offer, and the United States and the international community won't apply the pressure necessary to force Israel to make one. Instead, the United States and its allies pay lip service to the need to end the occupation, but do nothing to steer Israel from its preferred option of perpetuating it: enjoying the dowry, denying the bride.



        5)  Philly Cops' Habit of Fondling Black Men Sparks Greatest Protest of All Time

        By Michael Harriot, May 31, 2017


        In what may be the greatest protest ever, two Philadelphia police precincts received pairs of underwear from a local activist group Tuesday morning. However, the gifts were not meant to inspire thoughts of romance or affection. Instead, the packages were an ingenious protest designed to highlight a disturbing, but little-known, fact about law-enforcement officers in the Philly area:

        For years, Philadelphia police officers have been illegally stopping black men and searching their underwear.

        According to NBC Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif and other protesters delivered the underpants to Philadelphia's police headquarters after they read a May 25 article in the Philadelphia Daily News detailing the Philadelphia Police Department's troubling twist on "stop and frisk."

        The May 25 story tells of Nafiys Walters, who was pulled over by two white police officers for running a red light as he was going to pick up a suit to wear to his graduation from Cheney University the next day.

        "They were rough. They … threw me on the ground. It was like damn near being raped. They did what they wanted with me," Walters recalled. Police searched Walters' underwear, and reports show that they found marijuana on him, which he denies.

        Walters spent the night in jail and missed all but 10 minutes of his graduation. The charges against him were later dropped, but the police reports did not indicate that the officers had searched Walters' underwear. Of course, people will say that this could all have been avoided if Walters had not run a red light, endangering the lives of others in Philly's heavy traffic, but Walters also denies that the light was red when he went through the intersection.

        In addition, Nafiys Walters was riding a bicycle.

        The same thing happened to Monte Singleton, a used-car salesman who was stopped by police after he dropped his daughter off at her grandmother's home. The police searched his car without permission, throwing his 6-year-old daughter's clothes on the sidewalk. But the worst part of the illegal search was when the officer patted Singleton down over his clothes, then felt inside his underwear without asking for consent.

        "They're out here, basically, going around sexually harassing people. They're doing what they want," said Singleton, who filed a complaint after repeated underwear searches.

        "Certain officers try to be sneaky about it, but then you got some officers who just don't care … who sees them doing it," he added.

        Philadelphia's police brass, as well as the police union, say they have never heard of underwear searches happening, and the department does not keep a record of underwear searches.

        Shaka Johnson, a Philadelphia attorney and former Atlanta police officer, believes that this would not happen in predominantly white areas. "They're not going into boys' drawers and behinds in Manayunk [an upscale business area] when people are coming out of bars," he said. "You can't take this conduct to certain zip codes. This whole notion of playing with young black boys' genitalia seems to be a method of policing, albeit not sanctioned by written policy."

        Johnson also says that the "stop and fondle" policy continues in part because police officers take advantage of the fragile masculinity among black men."It's not a popular sentiment to say, 'I could not keep another man from going into my underwear or into my drawers,'" he said.

        The Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union has filed an analysis in federal court that shows 77 percent of the people stopped and frisked in the last half of 2016 by Philadelphia police were black or Latino, even though they make up half the city's population. On May 23, the ACLU supplemented that analysis with data that shows the patterns cannot be explained by neighborhood crime rates or illegal activity. The ACLU reports supplement a 2011 consent decree that ordered Philadelphia police to change its practices.

        According to the Philadelphia Police Department's policy, neither strip searches nor body-cavity searches can be made solely for traffic violations or investigatory stops. According to the Philadelphia Daily News:

        Strip searches—the removal or rearrangement of clothing to permit the visual inspection of someone's undergarments and private areas—may only be conducted in a police or medical building or other secure facility after a suspect has been arrested, the arresting officer has reasonable suspicion that the individual has a weapon or contraband and the highest-ranking district or unit supervisor authorizes the search in writing, the policy states.

        Body cavity searches—the actual entering or touching of a person's private areas to search for weapons, evidence or contraband—can only be conducted in a medical facility by a licensed physician after an individual has been arrested and a warrant outlines the probable cause for the search, the policy states.



        6)  Even LeBron James Can't Escape This Toxic Wave of Racist Hatred

        By Dave Zirin, June 1, 2017


        LeBron James, arguably the most famous athlete in the country, just saw the word "n——r" scrawled across the gate of his Los Angeles home. Soon after this news broke, word came of a noose found at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Incidentally, James has contributed financial support to the museum.

        These acts came less than two weeks after the racist killing of Lt. Richard Collins III on the UMD campus by an "alt-reich" sewer-dweller, the murders of two white "good Samaritans" in Portland who were attempting to intervene as a neo-Nazi was harassing two young women of color, one wearing a hijab, and torch-wielding rallies against the removal of Confederate monuments.

        It also happened after the author of From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, had to cancel a major eventat Town Hall Seattle because of a series of death threats.

        It's all part of an ongoing state of terror, division, and violence that has emerged under the Trump administration. Other than a single tweet about Portland, the administration has had nothing to say about this barbarism.

        As the United States goes about puking up the worst aspects of its past, it's tragically fitting that an athlete like LeBron James would be targeted. From the dawn of organized sports, Black athletes have driven racists into fits of fury. They represent excellence in a field that has long been promoted as the ultimate meritocracy. While many of us watch a player like LeBron James with awe and even gratitude, racists seethe with resentment.

        The living embodiment of their own inferiorities, black athletes puncture the imaginations of white supremacists. In 1908, the first black heavyweight champion boxer, Jack Johnson, heard the call for a "great white hope" to restore the "natural order" of racial hierarchy. The New York World wrote that Johnson's world heavyweight title "must come as a shock to every devoted believer in the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race."

        Then there was Bill Russell. The Celtic great won 11 championships in 13 years for the Boston faithful, but that didn't stop someone from breaking into his home and defecating on his floor. When boxer Floyd Patterson attempted to move into a white neighborhood he was rebuffed. Hall of Fame basketball player Lenny Wilkens's dog was poisoned by his neighbors. They wanted his family out of their white community.

        And today, Baltimore Orioles player Adam Jones has to hear racial invective from the Red Sox fans in Fenway Park. To add insult to injury, he was then harangued by Internet trolls and established sportswriters alike.

        Yet while the black athlete is a target for the maelstrom of hate being regurgitated by this White House and its shock troops, they are also critical to its resistance if they are willing to step up and speak about what is happening. LeBron James did precisely that at a recent press conference:

        It just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America. Hate, in America, especially for an African-American, is living every day. Even though it's concealed most of the time—people will hide their faces and will say things about you and then when they see you they smile in your face—it's alive every single day. And I think back to Emmett Till's mom, actually. It's kind of one of the first things I thought of. And the reason that she had an open casket is because she wanted to show the world what her son went through as far as the hate crime, and being black in America. No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough. And we've got a long way to go for us as a society, and for us as African-Americans, until we feel equal in America.

        As Colin Kaepernick said, "there's a lot of racism disguised as patriotism in this country." Maybe that's why he can't get a contract from the NFL executives underwriting the Trump agenda. Kaepernick spoke a difficult truth to power. We will need more of that, if we are going to keep this hate at bay. Lives depend upon it.



        7)  The General Running Duterte's Antidrug War


        DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Gen. Ronald dela Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police, knows the value of a public display of remorse. He has been forced to apologize more than once.

        He was wrong, he acknowledged before the Philippine Senate as TV cameras rolled, to have trusted undisciplined policemen who killed a small-town mayor suspected of dealing drugs, as the mayor lay defenseless on a jail-cell floor.

        "I cannot blame the public if they're losing their trust and confidence in their police," he told the Senate panel, accepting a tissue from the mayor's son to wipe away his tears.

        He also admitted error in not having ousted all corrupt officers, after some used the guise of an antidrug operation to kidnap a Korean businessman for ransom, and then killed the man inside Camp Crame, the police headquarters where General dela Rosa lives and works.

        General dela Rosa has not commented on his most recent apparent misstatement, on Friday, after an attack on the country's biggest casino-hotel resort. Hours after he asserted that his officers had the crisis under control, offering reassurances of safety and a return to normalcy, dozens of bodies were found inside the complex, Resorts World Manila.

        Despite the general's promises to make the country safer, there are conflicting signs of whether Filipinos feel that way. A recent survey suggested they are satisfied with the violent crackdown on drugs inaugurated by President Rodrigo Duterte, but that they do not feel more secure.

        Still, General dela Rosa, 55, says he is certain that he is right in carrying out the president's antidrug campaign. As the head of the national police force, General dela Rosa, who built his career as a front-line soldier, is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the undertaking, which has left thousands of Filipinos dead, many of them executed on the streets.

        Mr. Duterte, elected to the presidency on the promise of ridding the country of drugs and crime, has publicly urged citizens to kill drug addicts, offered immunity to police officers for actions during the antidrug campaign and said of the country's drug users, "I'd be happy to slaughter them."

        General dela Rosa nevertheless professes surprise at criticism from Western governments, United Nations agencies, the European Unionand the International Criminal Court. All have condemned the antidrug campaign and threatened punitive actions should the human rights violations continue.

        In April, a Filipino lawyer filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court requesting indictments against General dela Rosa, as well as Mr. Duterte and other administration officials, for crimes against humanity.

        "I did not expect it," General dela Rosa said of the backlash against the slaughter.

        Senator Antonio Trillanes, a leading opponent of the Duterte administration, described General dela Rosa as Mr. Duterte's foot soldier, "operationalizing the thoughts and intentions of President Duterte."

        Under General dela Rosa's command, the police have killed more than 2,600 people in antidrug operations, police statistics show. At least 1,400 more people have been killed by unknown assailants in relation to drugs, and 3,800 more are awaiting investigation.

        General dela Rosa forged his friendship with Mr. Duterte over three decades. They met in 1986, when General dela Rosa graduated from the Philippine Military Academy and Mr. Duterte was appointed vice mayor of Davao City, then a provincial backwater with rampant crime and bloody rebellions by communists and Muslim separatists. By 1989, Mr. Duterte, who was already cultivating an image as a tough-talking mayor who valued bravery and ferocity, was the godfather at General dela Rosa's wedding.

        Like Mr. Duterte, General dela Rosa is a native of the province of Davao. He was raised in rural poverty — his father drove a motorcycle pedicab and his mother was a fish vendor — and made his way up the chain of command by earning a reputation as a soldier who never backed down from a fight.

        "That's how I became Bato," he said, referring to his nickname, which means "Rock." "Wherever there was trouble, I was there."

        He rose through command positions, becoming the chief of police of Davao in 2010. In that capacity he developed Oplan Tokhang, a prototype for the nationwide antidrug campaign.

        "The people here consider me their local hero," General dela Rosa said. When he goes out in public, people pull out their phones to take selfies with fists to their chests, in a gesture of support for the general.

        When Mr. Duterte became president, it was no surprise he tapped General dela Rosa to become the chief of the Philippine National Police.

        "I am his most trusted senior officer," General dela Rosa said, in an interview. "I know deep in my heart."

        His marching orders, he said, were to replicate nationally what he had done in Davao. "So we can let the whole Philippines feel what it's like to live in Davao, the same governance, the same law enforcement practices," General dela Rosa said.

        Those practices have been severely criticized by rights advocates, though residents of Davao largely defend them. Davao City is a featureless provincial capital of low buildings, strip malls, humble eateries and fruit stands. Human rights groups estimate that there were 1,400 extrajudicial killings in Davao during Mr. Duterte's tenure.

        What came to be called the Davao Death Squad is reported — by witnesses, former members and human rights organizations — to have killed suspected criminals, often from the back of a motorcycle.

        These critics say the Davao police looked the other way while the death squads operated with impunity, adding that in the 30 years that Mr. Duterte ruled Davao, no killer was ever successfully prosecuted.

        General dela Rosa says he cannot confirm the existence of an organized Davao Death Squad, and dismissed as urban legends stories by confessed former death squad members, and even Mr. Duterte himself, of criminals thrown from helicopters or fed to crocodiles. He has not been named by witnesses as a member.

        While complaints of police misconduct and accusations of police involvement in vigilante killings have become the norm lately in Manila's slums, General dela Rosa says he addresses these accusations by entertaining any case filed against the police.

        General dela Rosa also says he is trying to rein in the explosive murder rate. "We are trying our best to investigate all these killings," he said.

        Ten months into his tenure, however, General dela Rosa is still speculating that the murders by motorcycle-riding gunmen are drug dealers killing each other. As with Davao, few of the killers are caught, and without solid evidence to support General dela Rosa's assertion, people in the slums most targeted by the alleged vigilante killings have said, in dozens of interviews and conversations, that the police are involved.

        Phelim Kine, of Human Rights Watch, which published a report this March on police abuses, said Mr. Duterte and General dela Rosa, "are unwilling or unable to grapple with this problem of extrajudicial killings by members of the police and death squads associated with them."

        Senator Trillanes says General dela Rosa's alleged failures to control the police ranks are part of the larger goal. "I believe that is deliberate because they unleashed these death squads within the ranks of the P.N.P. and he's not stopping them because that is the order," Mr. Trillanes said.

        General dela Rosa has for the most part defended the actions of his men. "My policemen don't engage in any kind of nonsense," he toldlocal media last month, after inspecting a windowless cell hiddenbehind a bookshelf at one of Manila's police stations that held 12 people without charges, amid accusations that the police were trying to extort money from the captives' families.

        General dela Rosa himself remains defiant in the face of international condemnation and the threat of possible indictment by the International Criminal Court. "I am working for the Filipino people," he said. "The Filipino people are happy with what we are doing."



        8)  U.S. Begins Arming Syrian Kurds for Final Assault on Raqqa

         MAY 31, 2017



        WASHINGTON — The United States has started arming Syrian Kurds with heavy machine guns, antitank weapons and other arms, a critical step in preparing a pivotal part of the force that will carry out the final assault on the Islamic State's de facto capital of Raqqa, Pentagon officials said.

        The weapons deliveries follow the Trump administration's decision earlier in May to arm the American-backed Kurdish militias over the objections of Turkey, an important NATO ally that considers the Kurdish fighters to be terrorists.

        "The U.S.-led coalition has begun issuing arms and equipment to Kurdish elements of the S.D.F.," Col. Ryan S. Dillon, a military spokesman in Baghdad, said in an email on Tuesday, using the abbreviation for the Syrian Democratic Forces, a combination of mostly Syrian Kurdish and Arab militias.

        Colonel Dillon said the equipment provided included "small arms, ammunition, heavy machine guns" and antitank weapons to use against "heavily armored vehicle-borne I.E.D.s," or improvised explosive devices. NBC News first reported that the arms shipments had begun.

        American military commanders have long argued that arming the People's Protection Units, or Y.P.G., a Kurdish militia fighting alongside Syrian Arab forces against the Islamic State, is the fastest way to seize Raqqa.

        But Turkey has strongly objected to such a move, raising fears of a backlash that could prompt the Turks to curtail their cooperation with Washington in the struggle against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Turkish officials have issued veiled threats that they would shut down allied operations at Incirlik Air Base, the major air hub for American and allied warplanes in the battle.

        Turkey's National Security Council said on Wednesday that the Trump administration's decision to arm the Kurdish militia in Syria was "not befitting of an alliance."

        Equipment provided to the Kurds, which is being drawn from stockpiles in the region, will be limited in quantity and by mission, and will be doled out incrementally as objectives are reached, Colonel Dillon said.

        American military officials have insisted for months that the weapons are needed to help the lightly armed Kurdish and Arab fighters cope with urban warfare in Raqqa against Islamic State militants who have been building fortifications for months and are equipped with car bombs and even some tanks they captured from the Syrian Army.

        Thousands of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters have pushed to within about two miles of the city, where American military officials and humanitarian groups are bracing for a bloody, monthslong battle — similar to the fight Iraqi forces have carried out in Mosul, another Islamic State stronghold. In preparation for the assault, American and allied warplanes have intensified airstrikes against militant forces in and around Raqqa in recent weeks.

        At the same time, the Kurdish and Arab militias, which American Special Operations forces are advising, have been tightening a rough cordon around most of the city, capturing dozens of small towns and villages as they go. The fighters have surrounded Raqqa from the north, the west and the east. The extremists still have an exit from the south, even though the American-led coalition destroyed two southern bridges over the Euphrates River.

        To address Turkish concerns that the arms might be used against them after the fight for Raqqa is over, the supply of weapons and ammunition will be limited to what the Kurds and Arab fighters need to carry out specific operations, American officials said.

        "Wherever possible, our advisers will monitor the use of the weapons and supplies we give the Kurdish elements of the S.D.F., ensuring use only against ISIS," Colonel Dillon said. "Any alleged misuse or diversion of U.S. support will be taken seriously and lead to the possible curtailment of support, if verified."

        The United States has long worked with the Y.P.G. under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces. The American military has always emphasized that those forces include Arab fighters, who make up nearly half of the total force and most of the fighters near Raqqa. But the Y.P.G. is generally considered to have the most experienced and battle-hardened fighters.

        The Turkish government has long insisted that the Kurdish militia is closely linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, a separatist group. That group is listed by Turkey, the United States and Europe as a terrorist organization.

        Some Syria analysts said on Wednesday that the militias would need to include more of the local Sunni Arab tribes to maintain the fighting force's potency after the battle for Raqqa, if they aim to vanquish pockets of remaining Islamic State resistance in the region.

        "Arming the Kurdish elements of the S.D.F. will make them more militarily effective against ISIS in Raqqa," said Andrew J. Tabler, an expert on Syria at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. But, he added, referring to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, "if they don't expand to include more of the Sunni Arab tribes of the Euphrates River valley, who make up the majority there, the S.D.F. will have a hard time holding that area because of the Kurdish-Arab split, leaving that area vulnerable for an Assad regime comeback."



        9)  Trump Considers Rolling Back Obama's Opening With Cuba

        Leer en español 

         MAY 31, 2017


        WASHINGTON — President Trump is considering reversing major pieces of the Obama administration's opening with Cuba and reinstating limits on travel and commerce, citing human rights abuses by the Castro government as justification for a more punitive approach.

        Mr. Trump wants to announce the changes in Miami as early as June and deliver on a campaign promise that remains a cherished demand for the politically conservative Cuban-American exile community, according to aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But he has not made a final decision on the steps he will take because of internal disagreements within his administration over how far to go in unwinding one of President Barack Obama's most significant foreign policy achievements.

        Clamping down on engagement with Cuba would be a high-profile way for Mr. Trump to showcase a stark break with his predecessor and to fulfill a pledge, delivered during a speech in Miami in September, to a crucial constituency that disproportionately supported him. It would also enable the president to reward the loyalty of Cuban-American lawmakers who have been agitating for a harder line on Cuba, including Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republicans of Florida.

        But as the White House has sought to formulate a series of steps for Mr. Trump to announce, a split has emerged over rolling back a policy that many senior officials privately agree has been an improvement on the Cold War dynamic that shaped relations with Cuba in the past. In addition to the revival of diplomatic relations for the first time in a half-century and liberalized rules for trade, travel and commerce, the new approach has paved the way for cooperation in intelligence-sharing, drug interdiction, scientific research and a host of other areas.

        "A lot of the bureaucracy has been resisting a complete rollback" of Mr. Obama's policy, said Christopher Sabatini, a Latin America specialist and executive director of Global Americans, a research organization. "Trump is the 'Art of the Deal' guy, and there's no deal to be had here if they reverse the entire policy."

        The dilemma is a familiar one for the president, who built his campaign and political persona around bold, contrarian policy pronouncements like building a wall on the southern border, instituting a Muslim ban and canceling the Paris climate accord, only to see his hopes for quick and simple action scuttled by thorny questions of law and policy, and resistance from the business community.

        "I am confident the president will keep his commitment on Cuba policy by making changes that are targeted and strategic and which advance the Cuban people's aspirations for economic and political liberty," said Mr. Rubio, who has met with and talked to Mr. Trump and his top aides several times on the matter.

        As the White House labored in March to corral Republican votes for an unpopular health care overhaul measure, Mr. Diaz-Balart asked for assurances from Mr. Trump that he would hold to the hard line on Cuba he laid out in his campaign. The Florida Republican supported the measure and has played an influential role in shaping the new Cuba policy.

        "It is my duty to advocate for the issues that are important to my constituents, and I will not apologize for using every available avenue to effectively resolve them," Mr. Diaz-Balart said in a statement.

        Among the measures the Trump administration is considering are proposals pressed by Mr. Rubio and Mr. Diaz-Balart to block transactions between American companies and firms that have ties to the Cuban military. Such a restriction could have far-reaching consequences for existing deals, such as the one struck by Starwood Hotels and Resorts last year to manage hotels in Cuba — one of which is owned by the military conglomerate Gaviota — and effectively freeze future ones, since the military in Cuba has a hand in virtually every element of the economy.

        "This is a return to the old playbook of creating ambiguity and uncertainty so that nobody knows what is permissible and what isn't, and it would add another level of legal exposure to doing business in Cuba," said Robert L. Muse, a Washington lawyer who specializes in American law regarding Cuba. "It would add one more obstacle to the obstacle course, which is already pretty complex."

        Mr. Trump, according to people close to the discussions, is also considering tightening restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba that were eased last year on the eve of Mr. Obama's historic trip to Havana. The new policy allows Americans who are making educational or cultural trips to Cuba to initiate their own travel there without special permission from the United States government and without a licensed tour company.

        Reversing it, or intensifying enforcement to require travelers to show evidence that their trips are legal, would probably slow the recent influx of American tourism to Cuba to a trickle, leaving airlines that have started direct flights there with fewer customers to serve.

        And the president is weighing an increase in funding for the United States Agency for International Development for programs that promote democracy in Cuba, initiatives that the Castro government has long condemned as covert efforts to overthrow it.

        The changes are far more limited than those sought by Cuba hard-liners, who have pressed Mr. Trump to reimpose all the sanctions lifted by the Obama administration and cut off diplomatic relations unless Cuba, a military dictatorship, quickly schedules democratic elections, institutes an independent judiciary and shows progress on settling American financial claims and returning American fugitives to the United States.

        Forged in secret by Mr. Obama's top aides along with senior officials in the government of President Raúl Castro of Cuba during more than a year of clandestine talks, the official thaw between the United States and Cuba began with a surprise announcement in December 2014 and was then followed by a series of diplomatic and regulatory changes designed to be difficult to unravel.

        At a high-level meeting on the policy changes led by the National Security Council in May, officials from a wide array of agencies said they supported continuing the aspects of the policy that pertained to their departments, people familiar with the discussion said, as Mr. Trump's legislative affairs operation, which tracks the president's private commitments to lawmakers, made the case for changes.

        Without a consensus, an announcement that had initially been anticipated on May 20, Cuban Independence Day, never materialized. A White House official said on Wednesday that Mr. Trump has yet to receive any recommendations for how to move forward, and while he would like to announce his new policy in June, there is no guarantee that he will do so, and no milestone date driving the process.

        In seeking to justify his changes on human rights grounds, Mr. Trump would be taking an approach far different from the one he has applied to other parts of the world, where he and his advisers have viewed human rights considerations as an impediment to trade and partnerships that create jobs in the United States.

        "Given their complete lack of concern for human rights around the world, it would be a tragic irony if the Trump administration uses that to justify policies that harm the Cuban people and restrict the freedom of Americans to travel and do business where they please," said Benjamin Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser to Mr. Obama who negotiated the 2014 announcement. "It's clear that the Cuban and American people want to move forward, and nothing can change that reality."



        10)  Cuts to AIDS Treatment Programs Could Cost a Million Lives

         MAY 23, 2017



        WASHINGTON — At least one million people will die in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, researchers and advocates said on Tuesday, if funding cuts proposed by the Trump administration to global public health programs are enacted.

        The United States currently spends more than $6 billion annually on programs that buy antiretroviral drugs for about 11.5 million people worldwide who are infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. The Trump administration has proposed slashing those programs by at least $1.1 billion — nearly a fifth of their current funding, said Jen Kates, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

        "These are lifesaving interventions, and these levels of reductions will significantly curtail service delivery," Ms. Kates said.

        In a briefing for reporters, Hari Sastry, director of the State Department's Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources, said that everyone now receiving drug treatments under the programs would be allowed to continue, even if the funding cuts were approved.

        "We will currently maintain those patients on the treatment," Mr. Sastry said. He did not explain how that would happen if funding dropped by roughly 20 percent, but the programs have wide bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, where they may be shielded from the proposed cuts.

        Much of the success of anti-AIDS efforts in Africa has come from a guarantee in many countries that people who test positive for H.I.V. can immediately receive treatment.

        With a huge share of Africa's population reaching sexual maturity in the next four years, the virus could again imperil much of the continent if fewer people are treated, said Brian Honermann, deputy director at amfAR, a foundation that invests in AIDS research.

        AIDS treatment not only keeps people alive but prevents them from spreading the virus to others, Mr. Honermann noted. "If you cut the funding by this much, I think there's a real risk we will backslide, and a whole lot more people will become infected," he said.

        Much of the United States government's funding for AIDS treatment and research is funneled through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or Pepfar, which was established in 2004 by President George W. Bush in an effort to save Africa from an epidemic that threatened to kill much of the population of entire countries, like Botswana and Namibia.

        President Barack Obama expanded Pepfar, and combined with the Global Fund and other international efforts, the spending is widely credited with arresting the AIDS epidemic. About 37 million people worldwide are infected with H.I.V., including nearly two million children. About one million people died of AIDS in 2015, and two million were newly infected that year.

        Pepfar funds anti-AIDS activities in more than 60 countries. But in the briefing on Tuesday, Mr. Sastry said the Trump administration planned to ensure that the United States was "focusing our efforts in the 12 high-burden countries to achieve epidemic control."

        He did not name those 12 countries, but in past years, the program focused much of its work on a dozen African countries, as well as Haiti, Vietnam and Guyana.

        The Trump administration has also proposed eliminating $524 million in funding for contraceptives and other family planning efforts that mostly benefit women in developing nations.

        Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a statement posted on her Facebook page that the proposed family planning cuts "would lead to more unintended pregnancies, more maternal deaths."

        "This budget threatens to trap millions more families in a cycle of poverty," she said.

        It is unclear how many lives could be lost as a direct result of the budget cuts, but the Global Fund estimates that every $100 million invested saves about 133,000 lives. An amfAR calculation found a similar effect, suggesting that the administration's proposed cuts to AIDS programs alone could cost more than one million lives and orphan more than 300,000 children.

        "All of these programs have multiplier effects beyond just those immediately served by them," said J. Stephen Morrison, who directs global health work at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "For the first time ever, after 15 years of steady growth, we're going to see a radical regression that will have huge effects."



        11)  Walmart Is Accused of Punishing Workers for Sick Days

        "Workers' advocates have expressed skepticism about the retailer's commitment to improving the lives of its more than one million employees. Around the same time that Walmart lifted wages, it cutmerit raises and introduced a training program that could keep hourly pay at $9 an hour for up to 18 months."

        JUNE 1, 2017


        A report released Thursday by a workers' advocacy group says Walmart, the nation's largest private employer, routinely refuses to accept doctors' notes, penalizes workers who need to take care of a sick family member and otherwise punishes employees for lawful absences.

        The report, based on a survey of more than 1,000 employees, accuses Walmart of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, among other worker-protection laws. The group argued in a lawsuit filed last month, and in an earlier complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, that Walmart discriminated against pregnant workers.

        "Walmart should fully comply with the law so that no one is illegally punished for a disability-related absence or for taking care of themselves or a loved one with a serious medical condition," said Dina Bakst, a founder and president of A Better Balance, the advocacy group that prepared the report.

        Walmart said that it had not reviewed the report but disputed the group's conclusions, and said that the company's attendance policies helped make sure that there were enough employees to help customers while protecting workers from regularly covering others' duties.

        "We understand that associates may have to miss work on occasion, and we have processes in place to assist them," Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for Walmart, said. The company reviews each employee's circumstances individually, he said, "in compliance with company policy and the law."

        Katie Orzehowski says her miscarriage last fall almost cost her a job.

        A cashier at the Walmart in North Huntingdon, Pa., Ms. Orzehowski said she tried to use doctors' notes and hospitalization records to excuse her missed shifts, to no avail. Worried that another absence would get her fired, she went back to work.

        "I still had a lot of bleeding going on, and that's embarrassing," Ms. Orzehowski, 26, said.

        Her account is one of dozens included in the report, which clashes with the company's recent efforts to project a more worker-friendly image.

        Walmart has long been known for its penny-pinching attention to detail and its opposition to organized labor. But in the past couple of years, the company has announced that it would raise its minimum wage to $10 an hour and has pledged to invest heavily in training and paying workers.

        Workers' advocates have expressed skepticism about the retailer's commitment to improving the lives of its more than one million employees. Around the same time that Walmart lifted wages, it cutmerit raises and introduced a training program that could keep hourly pay at $9 an hour for up to 18 months.

        In November, A Better Balance filed a complaint with the employment commission on behalf of Arleja Stevens, a Walmart employee who said she was fired after missing too many shifts because of complications from her pregnancy.

        In that filing, the group accused Walmart of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The employment commission is investigating the accusation, Ms. Bakst said.

        Mr. Hargrove said the company disagreed with Ms. Stevens's claims.

        A Better Balance also participated in a separate lawsuit last month alleging that Walmart discriminated against pregnant employees

        The company has disputed the claims of the two women at the center of the suit.

        A Better Balance wrote the survey questions used for Thursday's report. The questions asked employees whether they believed that Walmart had a problem of regularly punishing people for absences relating to an illness or disability, and about how the company treated absences. The group worked with the labor group OUR Walmart, which promoted the survey to workers who listed Walmart as their employer on Facebook, according to Andrea Dehlendorf, a director of OUR Walmart.

        "Although this system is supposed to be 'neutral' and punish all absences equally, along the lines of a 'three-strikes-and-you're-out' policy, in reality, such a system is brutally unfair," the report says of Walmart's absence-control policy. "It punishes workers for things they cannot control and disproportionately harms the most vulnerable workers."

        Walmart assigns disciplinary points for unexcused absences and other infractions. Nine points in a six-month period can result in an employee's being fired, according to a copy of the company's absence policy reviewed by The New York Times. New employees may be fired for accruing four points in their first six months.

        While Walmart has written guidelines for how managers and supervisors should respond to employees who need help because of medical issues, those policies are not always followed, according to the report.

        "They just straight up tell you, 'We don't accept excuses,'" said Ms. Orzehowski, who still works for the company.

        In a follow-up email, Mr. Hargrove said that the company did "not have any information that would support that Ms. Orzehowski advised us of a medical reason for her absences."

        "If that were the case, she could have used those medical records to apply for a leave or accommodation," he said.

        The Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers. In 2008, the definition of a disabled worker was expanded, to include temporary medical conditions like complications relating to a pregnancy.

        The Family and Medical Leave Act protects eligible workers — those who have been employed for 12 months at a company with 50 or more employees — who need to take time off to care for themselves or a family member.

        Under the A.D.A., employers must work with employees to determine if workers are eligible for such accommodations. Dismissing doctors' notes or otherwise refusing to consider the reason for a worker's absence could potentially be "skirting the analysis" in which employers are required to engage, according to Michelle Caiola, the director of litigation for Disability Rights Advocates, a nonprofit group, and a former senior trial lawyer for the E.E.O.C., which enforces federal worker protections.

        "A company as big as Walmart, it's surprising that they don't have the appropriate training for the personnel that would be overseeing these sorts of leaves," Ms. Caiola said.

        Mr. Hargrove said that the company had worked with "countless" employees to successfully authorize their absences from work.



















































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