Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:














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.




Mark Your Calendars

Special Berkeley Hearing on Urban Shield:  June 20th, 6pm

Longfellow Middle School (1500 Derby St, Berkeley)

The Berkeley City Council will be voting on the city's participation in UrbanShield.

On Tuesday May 16 more than 200 people turned out to the Berkeley City Council in anticipation of the Council's vote on whether or not to continue Berkeley's participation in Urban Shield. After waiting six hours for the agenda item to be heard and after giving powerful testimony, we were told that the Council once again decided to postpone the vote. The coalition and supporters staged a walkout to show the Council that we won't stand for this kind of manipulation. 


We want to redouble our efforts at the upcoming meeting in showing the Berkeley City Council that they need to stand on the side of the people and not on the side of militarization and oppression.

In the meantime, please call and email the mayor and Council people to urge them to vote No To Urban Shield!

District 1/Linda Miao/(510) 981-7110/  lmaio@cityofberkeley.info /

District 2/Cheryl Davila/ (510) 981-7120cdavila@cityofberkel ey.info

District 3/  Ben Bartlett/ (510) 981-7130/  bbartlett@CityofBerkeley.info

District 4/ Kate Harrison / (510) 981-7140 /  kharrison@ CityofBerkeley.info

District 5 / Sophie Hahn/ 510) 981-7150 / shahn@ CityofBerkeley.info

District 6 / Susan Wengraf / (510) 981-7160 / swengraf@ CityofBerkeley.info

District 7/ Kris Worthington / (510) 981-7170 / kworthington@ CityofBerkeley.info

District 8/  Lori Droste / (510) 981-7180 / ldroste@ CityofBerkeley.info





Jun 8, 2017

Department of Justice:

Drop the changes against Ms. Reality L. Winner, the defense contractor who allegedly shared with the media evidence of attacks against US election systems by foreign agents. This information should not have been classified. Ms. Winner's prosecution appears politically motivated.

Courage to Resist will attempt to keep signers of the Reality Winners petition up-to-date with periodic news and alerts from her family and attorney. You will be able to opt out at any time.



Reality Winner is a 25-year-old Air Force veteran who was arrested in Augusta, Georgia on June 3rd. She allegedly released classified NSA documents to The Intercept, which were the basis for a story about Russian hacking efforts against US election systems leading up to last year's presidential election. Reality is currently in the Lincoln County Jail in Georgia, and faces up to ten years in prison.

Reality Winner—yes, that is her given legal name—did the right thing, and she should be defended.

Reality allegedly leaked information regarding attempted interference in an election, tampering that many believe assisted in Donald Trump's presidential win—despite earning nearly four million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. The documents published by The Interceptonly confirm earlier accounts of US election hacking attempts and, given the current administration's extreme antagonisms against facts, the release of these documents was clearly in the public interest. Like the vast majority of government documents that are hidden from public view, these reports should have been declassified by now anyway.

Now Trump's own Department of Justice has targeted Reality. It's a sinister move, but on the other hand, simply a continuation Obama's unprecedented zeal in prosecuting whistle-blowers. Trump inherited an atrocious War on Leaks, and Reality is the latest victim of that war. Her arrest is a signal to the world, and the four million other Americans with access to classified information: Only sanctioned leaks benefiting the government will be tolerated.

There's a striking hypocrisy to Trump's crackdown. Less than a month ago the President was criticized for carelessly leaking classified information to Russian officials during a White House meeting. We now know this information concerned a bomb that is being developed by ISIS. This is standard operating procedure: lawmakers have no issue leaking classified information if it somehow furthers their interest, but they aggressively prosecute citizens who expose actual wrongdoing.

I believe that Reality Winner's possible actions should be understood within the context of recent heroic whistleblowing. Shortly before leaving office, Barack Obama commuted the remaining sentence of US Army soldier Chelsea Manning, who was facing 27 more years in prison for exposing war crimes and corruption. Edward Snowden, who leaked information about our government's massive spying program, was granted asylum in Russia but faces espionage charges back home. Just like Manning, it seems that Reality was able to see the inner workings of the United States' war machine.

She served in the Air Force from 2013 until early this year, working as a linguist. Like Snowden, she would have had a better view than most as to how our security state works. Up until last week, she was a military defense contractor with the Pluribus International Corporation in the suburbs outside of Augusta, Georgia, and had Top Secret security clearance.

The US government has spent tens of millions of dollars in better auditing capabilities since the disclosures by Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. Those that would rather keep the public in the dark as to what their government is doing with their tax dollars and in their name, have redoubled their efforts to identify whistle-blowers much more quickly. Winner's arrest was facilitated by the government's increased ability to more easily identify the relatively small number of people that recently accessed documents in question as well as the yellow-colored, nearly-invisible micro dots that most color printers today use to include a printer's serial number and time stamp on each printed page. This appears to have contributed to the focus on Reality Winner.

Reality is expected to plead not guilty to charges against her today. We don't know exactly why she allegedly released the NSA documents to the press, but we do have some insight into her views about the world. Her social media accounts show a woman who, like a clear majority of Americans, is critical of Donald Trump. She has also voiced support for Edward Snowden, and opposition to the US fabricating a reason to attack Iran.

According to The Intercept, [Winner's leak] "ratchets up the stakes of the ongoing investigations into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives . . . If collusion can ultimately be demonstrated – a big if at this point – then the assistance on Russia's part went beyond allegedly hacking email to serve a propaganda campaign, and bled into an attack on U.S. election infrastructure itself."

We are talking about a potentially monumental story that might require prosecutions, but Reality Winner shouldn't be the one who ends up in jail. While the details of the story continue to unfold, by all indications she deserves our support, and the release of these documents should be celebrated.



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)  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.



        2)  Trump, Who Pledged to Overhaul Nuclear Arsenal, Now Faces Increased Costs

         JUNE 4, 2017



        WASHINGTON — When President Barack Obama's term ended in January, he left a momentous decision to the Trump administration: whether to continue a 30-year, $1 trillion program to remake America's atomic weapons, as well as its bombers, submarines and land-based missiles.

        Mr. Trump has pledged to overhaul the arsenal, which he has called obsolete. But his challenge is growing: The first official government estimate of the project, prepared by the Congressional Budget Officeand due to be published in the coming weeks, will put the cost at more than $1.2 trillion — 20 percent more than the figure envisioned by the Obama administration.

        The Trump White House's proposed budget calls for big increases in research and development for new weapons, but it does not yet grapple with the ultimate budget-busting cost of producing a new fleet of delivery vehicles. The Obama administration left the hard budgetary choices for the next administration, and it is unclear whether Mr. Trump's administration can stomach the rising cost.

        "This is why there is no real five-year plan for the defense budget," said Representative Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who has asked whether the United States needs all of the 1,550 nuclear weapons it can deploy under a 2010 treaty with Russia. "No one wants to face these numbers."

        The new estimate, which was obtained by The New York Times, offers a hard look at what it would take to remake an aging nuclear weapons complex that is vulnerable to cyberattack. While Mr. Obama once talked about eliminating such weapons over a period of decades, Mr. Trump has a different view. In December, he wrote on Twitter that the United States "must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability."

        The Obama administration program envisioned a nuclear arms buildup unseen since the Reagan administration, with all the resonance of a re-emerging cold war. On the table is the development of a new long-range, nuclear-tipped cruise missile that Mr. Obama's Defense Department embraced but that some leading nuclear strategists consider unnecessary and potentially destabilizing.

        While few question the need for a major update to the nation's nuclear infrastructure — there are B-52 bombers now being maintained or flown by the grandchildren of their original crew members — the United States is facing a bill so large that the Trump administration has yet to fully figure it into its budget projections.

        "It's a staggering estimate," said Andrew C. Weber, an assistant defense secretary in the Obama administration and a former director of the Nuclear Weapons Council, an interagency body that oversees the nation's arsenal.

        Mr. Weber said that when he was in the government, he advised against developing the cruise missile because of the cost and because he believed it could fuel a new arms race.

        At the heart of the debate is the future of America's relationship with Russia. With Mr. Trump fighting accusations that his associates might have colluded with Russian officials during the election, administration officials acknowledge that it is almost impossible to imagine a new round of arms control negotiations that might ease the need for a major buildup. The Russians are still building, and the United States has accused Moscow of violating an intermediate-range missile treaty, forcing Washington to develop a response.

        But also on the table are other revived nuclear weapons, all under the control of the Energy Department, as well as the really big-ticket military items: a stealthy nuclear bomber to replace the B-52 and B-1 bombers, and a fleet of new, silent submarines. Most controversial are plans to overhaul the oldest and most vulnerable part of the American nuclear complex: the Minuteman missiles that are buried in silos across the Midwest and West. The Pentagon conceded last year that the missiles are so antiquated that they are still run on eight-inch floppy computer disks.

        Upgrading the missiles would be among the most expensive parts of a Trump military buildup, and critics say it is time to give them up.

        "There are ways to save money for the country that do not in any way put us at risk," said Tom Z. Collina, director of policy for Ploughshares Fund, an independent organization that favors nuclear arms control, "because many elements of this program are excessive, redundant and dangerous."

        Mr. Collina called the budget office estimate "very credible" and consistent with earlier calculations of the program's cost.

        As Mr. Obama's initiative becomes Mr. Trump's, "there is going to be a backlash coming," particularly among Democrats who had supported the program, said Jon B. Wolfsthal, who oversaw nuclear issues in the Obama White House. He spoke at a May 23 debate on the topic organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

        Other nuclear experts argue that the perils of stopping short of a complete upgrade far outweigh the costs. "This is something that we've got to decide it's time for us to invest, and we've got to get moving," C. Robert Kehler, a retired Air Force general and a former commander of the United States Strategic Command, said at the same event.

        A refurbishment of a warhead carried by American bombers, called the B-61, is nearing production, but most of the programs that the Obama administration put in place remain largely in the development phase. The much larger costs of producing the weapons and delivery systems would not come until 2020 or 2021.

        The steep rise in costs in the coming years will almost certainly force Congress to choose which programs are the most important for the military, Mr. Weber said. "What's clear is you save more money by eliminating programs than by buying fewer of something," he said.

        Critics have questioned the need not only for the nuclear-tipped cruise missile, but also for the development of a set of "interoperable warheads" that could be fired from intercontinental ballistic missiles or from submarine-launched missiles. The effective lifetime of those weapons could be extended without producing the interoperable version, the critics say.

        Others, like William J. Perry, a defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, have urged a wider redesign of the nuclear deterrent. Mr. Perry has called for eliminating one leg of the "nuclear triad," which consists of nuclear delivery systems on land, in the air and under the sea. He has argued that the United States would still be safe and save billions of dollars without the intercontinental missiles.

        "We simply do not need to rebuild all of the weapons we had during the cold war," Mr. Perry wrote recently in a Ploughshares publication.

        By contrast, Mr. Kehler argued that the triad should be maintained because it posed almost insurmountable problems for any adversary. "In the 21st century, unfortunately, these weapons still exist," he said, "and, in my humble opinion, are going to exist in the world for as far into the future as we can see."



        3)  Climate Science Meets a Stubborn Obstacle: Students

         JUNE 4, 2017




        WELLSTON, Ohio — To Gwen Beatty, a junior at the high school in this proud, struggling, Trump-supporting town, the new science teacher's lessons on climate change seemed explicitly designed to provoke her.

        So she provoked him back.

        When the teacher, James Sutter, ascribed the recent warming of the Earth to heat-trapping gases released by burning fossil fuels like the coal her father had once mined, she asserted that it could be a result of other, natural causes.

        When he described the flooding, droughts and fierce storms that scientists predict within the century if such carbon emissions are not sharply reduced, she challenged him to prove it. "Scientists are wrong all the time," she said with a shrug, echoing those celebrating President Trump's announcement last week that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

        When Mr. Sutter lamented that information about climate change had been removed from the White House website after Mr. Trump's inauguration, she rolled her eyes.

        "It's his website," she said.

        For his part, Mr. Sutter occasionally fell short of his goal of providing Gwen — the most vocal of a raft of student climate skeptics — with calm, evidence-based responses. "Why would I lie to you?" he demanded one morning. "It's not like I'm making a lot of money here."

        She was, he knew, a straight-A student. She would have had no trouble comprehending the evidence, embedded in ancient tree rings, ice, leaves and shells, as well as sophisticated computer models, that atmospheric carbon dioxide is the chief culprit when it comes to warming the world. Or the graph he showed of how sharply it has spiked since the Industrial Revolution, when humans began pumping vast quantities of it into the air.

        Thinking it a useful soothing device, Mr. Sutter assented to Gwen's request that she be allowed to sand the bark off the sections of wood he used to illustrate tree rings during class. When she did so with an energy that, classmates said, increased during discussion points with which she disagreed, he let it go.

        When she insisted that teachers "are supposed to be open to opinions," however, Mr. Sutter held his ground.

        "It's not about opinions," he told her. "It's about the evidence."

        "It's like you can't disagree with a scientist or you're 'denying science,"' she sniffed to her friends.

        Gwen, 17, could not put her finger on why she found Mr. Sutter, whose biology class she had enjoyed, suddenly so insufferable. Mr. Sutter, sensing that his facts and figures were not helping, was at a loss. And the day she grew so agitated by a documentary he was showing that she bolted out of the school left them both shaken.

        "I have a runner," Mr. Sutter called down to the office, switching off the video.

        He had chosen the video, an episode from an Emmy-winning series that featured a Christian climate activist and high production values, as a counterpoint to another of Gwen's objections, that a belief in climate change does not jibe with Christianity.

        "It was just so biased toward saying climate change is real," she said later, trying to explain her flight. "And that all these people that I pretty much am like are wrong and stupid."

        Classroom Culture Wars

        As more of the nation's teachers seek to integrate climate science into the curriculum, many of them are reckoning with students for whom suspicion of the subject is deeply rooted.

        In rural Wellston, a former coal and manufacturing town seeking its next act, rejecting the key findings of climate science can seem like a matter of loyalty to a way of life already under siege. Originally tied, perhaps, to economic self-interest, climate skepticism has itself become a proxy for conservative ideals of hard work, small government and what people here call "self-sustainability."

        Assiduously promoted by fossil fuel interests, that powerful link to a collective worldview largely explains why just 22 percent of Mr. Trump's supporters in a 2016 poll said they believed that human activity is warming the planet, compared with half of all registered voters. And the prevailing outlook among his base may in turn have facilitated the president's move to withdraw from the global agreement to battle rising temperatures.

        "What people 'believe' about global warming doesn't reflect what they know," Dan Kahan, a Yale researcher who studies political polarization, has stressed in talks, papers and blog posts. "It expresses who they are."

        But public-school science classrooms are also proving to be a rare place where views on climate change may shift, research has found. There, in contrast with much of adult life, it can be hard to entirely tune out new information.

        "Adolescents are still heavily influenced by their parents, but they're also figuring themselves out," said Kathryn Stevenson, a researcher at North Carolina State University who studies climate literacy.

        Gwen's father died when she was young, and her mother and uncle, both Trump supporters, doubt climate change as much as she does.

        "If she was in math class and teacher told her two plus two equals four and she argued with him about that, I would say she's wrong," said her uncle, Mark Beatty. "But no one knows if she's wrong."

        As Gwen clashed with her teacher over the notion of human-caused climate change, one of her best friends, Jacynda Patton, was still circling the taboo subject. "I learned some stuff, that's all,'' Jacynda told Gwen, on whom she often relied to supply the $2.40 for school lunch that she could not otherwise afford.

        Hired a year earlier, Mr. Sutter was the first science teacher at Wellston to emphasize climate science. He happened to do so at a time when the mounting evidence of the toll that global warming is likely to take, and the Trump administration's considerable efforts to discredit those findings, are drawing new attention to the classroom from both sides of the nation's culture war.

        Since March, the Heartland Institute, a think tank that rejects the scientific consensus on climate change, has sent tens of thousands of science teachers a book of misinformation titled "Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming," in an effort to influence "the next generation of thought," said Joseph Bast, the group's chief executive.

        The Alliance for Climate Education, which runs assemblies based on the consensus science for high schools across the country, received new funding from a donor who sees teenagers as the best means of reaching and influencing their parents.

        Idaho, however, this year joined several other states that have declined to adopt new science standards that emphasize the role human activities play in climate change.

        At Wellston, where most students live below the poverty line and the needle-strewn bike path that abuts the marching band's practice field is known as "heroin highway," climate change is not regarded as the most pressing issue. And since most Wellston graduates typically do not go on to obtain a four-year college degree, this may be the only chance many of them have to study the impact of global warming.

        But Mr. Sutter's classroom shows how curriculum can sometimes influence culture on a subject that stands to have a more profound impact on today's high schoolers than their parents.

        "I thought it would be an easy A," said Jacynda, 16, an outspoken Trump supporter. "It wasn't."

        God's Gift to Wellston?

        Mr. Sutter, who grew up three hours north of Wellston in the largely Democratic city of Akron, applied for the job at Wellston High straight from a program to recruit science professionals into teaching, a kind of science-focused Teach for America.

        He already had a graduate-level certificate in environmental science from the University of Akron and a private sector job assessing environmental risk for corporations. But a series of personal crises that included his sister's suicide, he said, had compelled him to look for a way to channel his knowledge to more meaningful use.

        The fellowship gave him a degree in science education in exchange for a three-year commitment to teach in a high-needs Ohio school district. Megan Sowers, the principal, had been looking for someone qualified to teach an Advanced Placement course, which could help improve her financially challenged school's poor performance ranking. She hired him on the spot.

        But at a school where most teachers were raised in the same southeastern corner of Appalachian Ohio as their students, Mr. Sutter's credentials themselves could raise hackles.

        "He says, 'I left a higher-paying job to come teach in an area like this,'" Jacynda recalled. "We're like, 'What is that supposed to mean?"'

        "He acts," Gwen said with her patented eye roll, "like he's God's gift to Wellston."

        In truth, he was largely winging it.

        Some 20 states, including a handful of red ones, have recently begun requiring students to learn that human activity is a major cause of climate change, but few, if any, have provided a road map for how to teach it, and most science teachers, according to one recent survey, spend at most two hours on the subject.

        Chagrined to learn that none of his students could recall a school visit by a scientist, Mr. Sutter hosted several graduate students from nearby Ohio University.

        On a field trip to a biology laboratory there, many of his students took their first ride on an escalator. To illustrate why some scientists in the 1970s believed the world was cooling rather than warming ("So why should we believe them now?" students sometimes asked), he brought in a 1968 push-button phone and a 1980s Nintendo game cartridge.

        "Our data and our ability to process it is just so much better now," he said.

        In the A.P. class, Mr. Sutter took an informal poll midway through: In all, 14 of 17 students said their parents thought he was, at best, wasting their time. "My stepdad says they're brainwashing me," one said.

        Jacynda's father, for one, did not raise an eyebrow when his daughter stopped attending Mr. Sutter's class for a period in the early winter. A former coal miner who had endured two years of unemployment before taking a construction job, he declined a request to talk about it.

        "I think it's that it's taken a lot from him," Jacynda said. "He sees it as the environmental people have taken his job."

        And having listened to Mr. Sutter reiterate the overwhelming agreement among scientists regarding humanity's role in global warming in answer to another classmate's questions — "What if we're not the cause of it? What if this is something that's natural?" — Jacynda texted the classmate one night using an expletive to refer to Mr. Sutter's teaching approach.

        But even the staunchest climate-change skeptics could not ignore the dearth of snow days last winter, the cap to a year that turned out to be the warmest Earth has experienced since 1880, according to NASA. The high mark eclipsed the record set just the year before, which had eclipsed the year before that.

        In woods behind the school, where Mr. Sutter had his students scout out a nature trail, he showed them the preponderance of emerald ash borers, an invasive insect that, because of the warm weather, had not experienced the usual die-off that winter. There was flooding, too: Once, more than 5.5 inches of rain fell in 48 hours.

        The field trip to a local stream where the water runs neon orange also made an impression. Mr. Sutter had the class collect water samples: The pH levels were as acidic as "the white vinegar you buy at a grocery store," he told them. And the drainage, they could see, was from the mine.

        It was the realization that she had failed to grasp the damage done to her immediate environment, Jacynda said, that made her begin to pay more attention. She did some reading. She also began thinking that she might enjoy a job working for the Environmental Protection Agency — until she learned that, under Mr. Trump, the agency would undergo huge layoffs.

        "O.K., I'm not going to lie. I did a 180," she said that afternoon in the library with Gwen, casting a guilty look at her friend. "This is happening, and we have to fix it."

        After fleeing Mr. Sutter's classroom that day, Gwen never returned, a pragmatic decision about which he has regrets. "That's one student I feel I failed a little bit," he said.

        As an alternative, Gwen took an online class for environmental science credit, which she does not recall ever mentioning climate change. She and Jacynda had other things to talk about, like planning a bonfire after prom.

        As they tried on dresses last month, Jacynda mentioned that others in their circle, including the boys they had invited to prom, believed the world was dangerously warming, and that humans were to blame. By the last days of school, most of Mr. Sutter's doubters, in fact, had come to that conclusion.

        "I know," Gwen said, pausing for a moment. "Now help me zip this up."



        4)  Outcry Over EpiPen Prices Hasn't Made Them Lower


        A few weeks ago, after some particularly incompetent parenting on my part (nuts in the dessert, a rushed trip to an emergency room after my child's allergic reaction), I visited the local pharmacy to fill an EpiPen prescription.

        You might recall EpiPen as last year's poster child for out-of-control drug prices. Though this simple medical device contains only about $1 of the drug epinephrine, the company that sells it, Mylan, earned the public's enmity and lawmakers' scrutiny after ratcheting up prices to $609 a box.

        Outraged parents, presidential candidates and even both parties in Congress managed to unite to attack Mylan for the price increases. By August, the company, which sells thousands of drugs and says it fills one in every 13 American prescriptions, was making mea culpas and renewing its promise to "do what's right, not what's easy," as the company's mission statement goes.

        So I was surprised when my pharmacist informed me, months after those floggings and apologies had faded from the headlines, that I would still need to pay $609 for a box of two EpiPens.

        Didn't we solve this problem?

        Not quite. What's more, Mylan is back in the news. On Wednesday, regulators said the company had most likely overcharged Medicaid by $1.27 billion for EpiPens. The same day, a group of pension funds announced that they hoped to unseat much of Mylan's board for "new lows in corporate stewardship," including paying the chairman $97 million in 2016, more than the salaries of the chief executives at Disney, General Electric and Walmart combined.

        Over the last several weeks, I've spoken with 10 former high-ranking executives at Mylan who told me that they weren't surprised EpiPen prices were still high. Nor were many startled by last week's developments.

        Mylan, they said, is an example of a firm that has thrived by learning to absorb, and then ignore, opprobrium. The company has an effective monopoly on a lifesaving product, which has allowed its leaders to see public outrage as a tax they must pay, and then move on.

        Mylan has been called out again and again over the years — by the company's own employees, regulators, patients, politicians and the press — and hasn't changed, even as revenue has skyrocketed, hitting $11 billion last year. The firm is a case study in the limits of what consumer and employee activism, as well as government oversight, can achieve.

        Which means this time, if we're hoping for a different outcome, something more needs to be done.

        To understand Mylan's culture, consider a series of conversations that began inside the company in 2014. A group of midlevel executives was concerned about the soaring price of EpiPens, which had more than doubled in the previous four years; there were rumors that even more aggressive hikes were planned. (Former executives who related this and other anecdotes requested anonymity because they had nondisclosure agreements or feared retaliation. Aspects of their accounts were disputed by Mylan.)

        In meetings, the executives began warning Mylan's top leaders that the price increases seemed like unethical profiteering at the expense of sick children and adults, according to people who participated in the conversations. Over the next 16 months, those internal warnings were repeatedly aired. At one gathering, executives shared their concerns with Mylan's chairman, Robert Coury.

        Mr. Coury replied that he was untroubled. He raised both his middle fingers and explained, using colorful language, that anyone criticizing Mylan, including its employees, ought to go copulate with themselves. Critics in Congress and on Wall Street, he said, should do the same. And regulators at the Food and Drug Administration? They, too, deserved a round of anatomically challenging self-fulfillment.

        When the executives conveyed their anxieties to other leaders, including the chief executive, Heather Bresch, these, too, were brushed off, they told me.

        Those top leaders' responses are a far cry from the message on Mylan's website, which says that "we challenge every member of every team to challenge the status quo," and that "we put people and patients first, trusting that profits will follow."

        But Mylan is a prime example of how easy it is for leaders to say one thing publicly and act differently in private. When we talk about consumer or employee activism, we tend to focus on firms like United Airlines, which quickly apologized and changed its policies after a video emerged of a passenger being dragged off a plane.

        However, in many other cases, outrage is ineffective. Mylan's behavior persists because it is hard, and often tedious, for employees and the public to continue complaining — particularly when bosses disagree, or when some newer outrage appears on our Facebook feed.

        But the costs of going silent are real. Regulators missed an opportunity to reform Mylan in 2012 when the company produced a television commercial showing a mother driving her son to a birthday party and implying that he could eat whatever he wanted, despite his nut allergy, as long as an EpiPen was nearby to counteract a reaction. The commercial also suggested that an EpiPen was a sufficient treatment on its own.

        Mylan knew neither of those was true, according to executives from that period. In fact, Mylan had recently started a major lobbying effort to encourage schools to stock EpiPens by arguing that people with serious food allergies are always at risk, and that EpiPens were a necessary supplement to emergency medical treatment.

        Before the birthday advertisement aired, the ad went through multiple internal review processes. Mylan executives told Ms. Bresch that the commercial was improper. One employee went so far as to send an internal email saying the advertisement would increase the frequency of allergic reactions, according to a person who saw the correspondence.

        Ms. Bresch disagreed. She said it was better to act boldly, according to a former executive who participated in that conversation.

        So the advertisement went on television. And a record number of consumer complaints arrived at the Food and Drug Administration. The agency ordered the commercial pulled after just a few days because it was "false and misleading," "overstates the efficacy of the drug product" and "may result in serious consequences, including death." The agency ordered Mylan to broadcast another ad, this one acknowledging that the "EpiPen cannot prevent an allergic reaction."

        But regulators never investigated why Mylan's internal protocols had allowed the dangerous ad to air. And a year later, Mylan received something akin to a government endorsement. President Barack Obama signed a federal law encouraging schools to stock emergency epinephrine supplies. The White House celebrated it as the "EpiPen Law."

        When I approached Mylan about these and other anecdotes, the company disputed employees' accounts. In a statement, it wrote that "any allegations of disregard for consumers who need these lifesaving drugs, government officials, regulators or any other of our valued stakeholders are patently false and wholly inconsistent with the company's culture, mission and track record of delivering access to medicine."

        Mr. Coury declined to be interviewed, but Ms. Bresch sat down with me last month at Mylan's Manhattan offices. She said that Mylan was "a pretty rare and unconventional company," and that it was focused on delivering low-cost drugs. A broken health care system, she said, is responsible for the inefficiencies and high prices that plague consumers.

        She added that Mylan had responded promptly when the Food and Drug Administration criticized the company's advertisement in 2012, and that the EpiPen had become more expensive because Mylan had invested in public awareness and improving the device.

        "Look at what we've built, and what we deliver day-in and day-out," Ms. Bresch told me, "and at the center of all of that is the patient."

        But it seems hard to reconcile those comments with allegations from employees, regulators and other companies. In December, attorneys general in 20 states accused Mylan and five other firms of conspiring to illegally keep prices high on an antibiotic and a diabetes drug. In October, Mylan returned nearly a half-billion dollars to the federal authorities in an attempt to stem the investigation into overcharging that regulators cited on Wednesday. And in April, one of Mylan's competitors, Sanofi, filed a lawsuit accusing the firm of committing antitrust violations to keep an EpiPen competitor off the market.

        Then there are situations that, at other firms, might have set off firings or corporate soul-searching, but that at Mylan caused neither. In 2007, reporters discovered that Ms. Bresch had not received the M.B.A. degree she claimed on her résumé. In 2012, Mr. Coury was criticized by investors and the media for repeatedly using the company plane to fly his son to music concerts. (And then there was the time, in 2013, when Mr. Coury, at a Goldman Sachs conference, indicated his dislike for hypothetical questions by saying that "if your aunt had balls, she'd be your uncle.")

        In our interview, Ms. Bresch said there was nothing in Mylan's culture she would change. The company also said it had found no evidence of price-fixing or antitrust behavior, that the government overcharges had resulted from an innocent disagreement over regulatory interpretations and that Mylan's compensation policies were appropriate.

        "We are a for-profit business, and we have a commitment to shareholders," Ms. Bresch told me. "But I think if there's any company out there that has demonstrated you can do good and do well, we're one of the few." For instance, Ms. Bresch noted that Mylan had recently released a generic version of EpiPen.

        When I asked my pharmacist for the generic EpiPen, he told me that I would have to wait 90 minutes, until he could get my doctor on the phone to authorize the substitution. Then, he charged me $370 for the generics.

        Mylan points out there are online coupons for EpiPen customers. In fact, the company says that since it came under attack in August, nearly 90 percent of EpiPen buyers have paid less than $100 per box because of insurance, discounts or coupons.

        But for parents in urgent need of an EpiPen, or for patients who are poor, are not internet savvy or have high insurance deductibles — which are increasingly common — those programs can mean little. The most vulnerable often end up paying the highest prices, which is troubling when you consider that 15 million Americans have food allergies.

        But hope springs eternal. With the recent criticisms coming on the heels of last year's controversies, Mylan will have to change, right?

        Perhaps. But only if people stay angry and active. Doctors need to write different prescriptions. Pharmacists need to guide patients to alternatives. Investors should examine further efforts to elect new Mylan board members.

        In the meantime, I still believe — perhaps foolishly — that sustained attention might create change. And so, as long as Mylan flouts the norms of good corporate behavior, it seems worth continuing to scrutinize what the company is doing, and questioning why EpiPens cost so much.



        5)  Trump Protesters Facing Decades in Prison

        A frightening crackdown on free speech is underway across the country.

        By Celisa CalacalLauren Kaori Gurley

        AlterNet, June 1, 2017


        Nearly six months after Donald Trump was sworn into office, more than 200 protesters who gathered in Washington, D.C. to protest his inauguration are facing felony charges that carry sentences of 70 to 80 years.

        According to Al Jazeera, the 212 protesters were arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department and initially charged with felony rioting, a crime that carries a ten-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine. On April 27, prosecutors added additional charges in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia that include urging to riot, conspiracy to riot and destruction of property.  

        The possibility of long-term prison sentences for these protesters could have a chilling effect on participation in future rallies, particularly at a time of heightened levels of anti-Trump activism. While it's unclear whether police departments will respond to large-scale political protests in a similar fashion, a dangerous precedent has been set. These legal actions may also infringe on the demonstrators' First Amendment rights, as they directly target anti-Trump protest movements.

        Olivia Alsip, a 23-year-old from Chicago, told Al Jazeera she never envisioned participating in the anti-Trump protests on inauguration day could leave her facing an 80-year prison sentence: "It seems that innocent until proven guilty is a falsehood—all the way from the prosecution and police to the people who had previously supported me in my activism."

        Alsip and the other defendants face the additional strain of having to pay for travel expenses to and from Washington for each of their court hearings before they go to trial. "Most of us don't have a whole lot of money," she said. "Generally we are fighting the rich because we are economically or politically disadvantaged and don't have a lot of capital."

        As political protests and civil disobedience reach their highest levels since the 1960s, 18 states have responded by proposing over 30 bills aimed at suppressing demonstrations by increasing and expanding penalties for protesters. A new law in Missouri prohibits protesters from covering their faces with masks or other disguises. Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and Iowa have introduced bills that call for increased penalties for blocking traffic and demonstrating on private property.

        The American Civil Liberties Union has called these new laws "unconstitutional," vowing to "fight in statehouses against any bill that violates the First Amendment."

        While several defendants have pleaded guilty to shorten their sentences, about 130 of the defendants have joined a "points of unity" agreement pledging to reject any potential plea deals and cooperation with prosecutors. On May 26, 21 defendants filed motions to have their cases dismissed.

        Following the January 20 arrests, lawyers for some of the arrested protesters filed a class action lawsuit against the MPD alleging that law enforcement engaged in excessive use of force and conducted false arrests. The Office of Police Complaints, a D.C. government agency, has called for an independent investigation evaluating the actions of MPD officers that day.

        Celisa Calacal is a junior writing fellow for AlterNet. She is a senior journalism major and legal studies minor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Previously she worked at ThinkProgress and served as an editor for Ithaca College's student newspaper.

        Lauren Kaori Gurley is a freelance writer and master's candidate in Latin American studies and journalism at New York University. Her work has been published in In These Times, the American Prospect and the American Journal of Economics and Sociology.

        AlterNet, June 1, 2017




        6) At $75,560, housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard

        Associated Press, June 4, 2017


        The cost of imprisoning each of California's 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record $75,560 in the next year

        HOW MUCH?

        More than tuition at Harvard University

        That's enough to cover the annual cost of attending Harvard University and still have plenty left over for pizza and beer

        Gov. Jerry Brown's spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes a record $11.4 billion for the corrections department while also predicting that there will be 11,500 fewer inmates in four years because voters in November approved earlier releases for many inmates.


        Cost per prisoner has doubled since 2005

        The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase.

        The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation's highest — and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard.

        Since 2015, California's per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13%. New York is a distant second in overall costs at about $69,000.

        Critics say with fewer inmates, the costs should be falling.

        "Now that we're incarcerating less, we haven't ramped the system back down," said Chris Hoene, executive director of the left-leaning California Budget & Policy Center.

        For example, the corrections department has one employee for every two inmates, compared with one employee for roughly every four inmates in 1994.


        Costs rising even as prison population declines

        California was sued over prison overcrowding, and to comply with a federal court-imposed population cap, the Brown administration now keeps most lower-level offenders in county jails instead of state prisons. Additionally, voters in 2014 reduced penalties for drug and property crimes and last fall approved the earlier releases.

        State Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) said reformers falsely promised a "prison dividend" from savings related to the changes. Instead, there's now an uptick in many crimes and he's worried it will lead to an influx of new inmates that will cost more to house.

        Joan Petersilia, co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, said it was "highly predictable" that per-inmate costs would increase even as the population decreased.

        "We released all the low-risk, kind of low-need, and we kept in the high-risk, high-need," she said.



        7)  Who Is Dangerous,and Who Dies?

        An appalling and racialized standard of "future dangerousness"has been used to condemn defendants. This lawyer fought it.

         JUNE 7, 2017




        The death penalty, like abortion, is one of those hot-button topics that keeps popping up into the public consciousness, a roach motel for meretricious ideas and bad public policy — including racism. I would bet that if it involved putting white people to death for killing black people, it would have been abolished years ago. Still, it persists. Except our society — until recently — has come to believe that overt expressions of racism might not be a good thing. Better to keep a fig leaf over it than to explore its underbelly.

        In 1972, the Supreme Court found in the 5-4 decision of Furman v. Georgia that the death penalty as practiced in this country was unconstitutional under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. But the majority couldn't agree on a rationale for its decision, so instead of one majority opinion, five separate concurrences were produced. While Justices Brennan and Marshall found the death penalty itself to be cruel and unusual punishment, Justices Stewart, White and Douglas focused on its arbitrariness, leaving the door wide open for states to rejigger their statutes and return to executions.

        In 1973, Texas did just that — the sentencing phase of a capital trial was separated from the guilt phase, and the jury was asked to consider "whether there is a probability that the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society [future dangerousness]." In response to the Furman decision, Governor Preston Smith commuted the death sentences of 52 inmates in Texas, clearing out death row entirely. In 1976, consolidating cases from five different states (Georgia, Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Louisiana), the court in Gregg v. Georgia found that the death penalty was not unconstitutional in every case. Executions in Texas, now by lethal injection — Old Sparky, the Texas electric chair, had been retired — started back up in 1982.

        I first became involved with all this while making my film "The Thin Blue Line." I had read about Dr. James Grigson, an expert witness regularly called by the state of Texas. Some referred to him as "Dr. Death" because he would routinely find that the defendant posed a risk of future dangerousness, and thus should be executed. I met with Dr. Grigson in 1985, and on his recommendation I started interviewing Texas death row inmates. Among those Dr. Grigson had testified posed a risk of future dangerousness was Randall Dale Adams, a convicted cop killer — or at least, so it seemed.

        My film was finished, and Mr. Adams was exonerated. I had thought — stupidly, it turned out — that Dr. Grigson had been put out of business. Not so. The "dangerousness" provision of the Texas law remained very much in place. But I forgot about it. I had done my fair share of good — got an innocent man out of prison.

        Then, not long ago, I read about the case of Buck v. Davis, decided by the Supreme Court on Feb. 22. Duane Buck had been convicted of capital murder in 1997. He killed his ex-girlfriend and one of her friends. The details of the crime are appalling, but no less appalling is that Dr. Walter Quijano discussed Mr. Buck's race as a factor in determining his future dangerousness. African-Americans, Dr. Quijano argued, are more likely to commit acts of violence. Though Dr. Quijano opined that Mr. Buck was not a risk of future dangerousness, his testimony about race remained an element for the jury to consider.

        Dr. Quijano has given similar testimony in other death penalty cases since 1991. Prompted by the Supreme Court's decision in Saldaño v. Texas (2000), which vacated the sentence of Victor Hugo Saldaño because Dr. Quijano had testified that Mr. Saldaño's Hispanic ethnicity made him a greater risk of future dangerousness, State Attorney General John Cornyn promised that his office would not object if the other defendants (Mr. Buck among them) sought to overturn their death sentences based on Dr. Quijano's testimony. In Mr. Buck's case, though, they did object, claiming that since it was the defense attorney who put Dr. Quijano on the stand and allowed his testimony into the record without objection, the State of Texas owed the defendant nothing.

        I called Mr. Buck's attorney Christina Swarns, litigation director of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Inc., to discuss the case.


        CHRISTINA SWARNS: Thank you so much for reaching out about the Duane Buck case.

        ERROL MORRIS: It brought alive a lot of feelings that go back so many years. One of the horrors of the "Thin Blue Line" case involved the prediction of future violence. You had a psychiatrist, "the hanging psychiatrist," Dr. James Grigson, who would make predictions of future violence based on a diagnosis of sociopathy. He would testify the defendant is a sociopath and will kill and kill again. I am offended that this law still exists. I believe it came out of the Dallas district attorney's office and was written with Dr. Grigson in mind. Various prosecutors thought: "We have these psychiatrists in our hip pocket. Why not fashion a law which will allow us to make use of this in the courtroom?" And that is exactly what they did, except they overplayed their hand. As a result many of these cases were retried on grounds of improper jury selection and Fifth Amendment violations. And then 25 years later, along comes Duane Buck.

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: Everyone was horrified by the fact that the damaging testimony was introduced by the defense counsel. It explicitly, out loud, links race to dangerousness. This is not implicit bias; this is explicit, first-generation racism. This is the good old stuff. And that's bad, but it's even worse that his own lawyer brings it in.

        ERROL MORRIS: Not ineffective counsel, but counsel actively undermining the case.

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: Predictions of future dangerousness are absurd, and then to be put in a capital punishment box which is already so contaminated by racial bias. The introduction of evidence linking race to dangerousness — like that which was presented in the Duane Buck case — was an inevitable product of future dangerousness in the capital punishment system in Texas. Because the Texas death penalty system was already so contaminated and corrupted by racial bias, the Duane Buck death sentence was a predictable outcome of that mess.

        ERROL MORRIS: And yet you kept losing in the courts.

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: Yes. For me, having litigated it for the last six years, I was astonished every time we lost. Clearly someone is going to correct this thing. It plays on so many of the obvious flaws in the system.

        ERROL MORRIS: Can you tell me about the attempts made "to correct this thing"?

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: When L.D.F. [the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund] first joined the case in 2011, it was in the Supreme Court and it was being conferenced. Buck got an execution date, and Texas Defender Services filed a flurry of litigation bringing the race issue to the attention of the court. The Supreme Court stayed the execution, and we were excited, thinking, "O.K., they're going to take this case." And so we waited, and then the Supreme Court denies it in two decisions, which is unusual. They usually don't explain their decisions, but here we had two decisions, one authored by Justice Alito and joined by — here is the interesting part — Justice Scalia and Justice Breyer.

        ERROL MORRIS: Breyer joined? [Stephen Breyer was part of the liberal minority on the Supreme Court, along with Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He was an unusual partner to Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr.]

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: Yes, it was just completely fascinating. Breyer joins Alito and Scalia and they say: The testimony is what they called "bizarre and objectionable," but this is defense counsel's fault. They say: The prosecutor just exploited an error made by defense counsel, so you've brought the wrong claim. Sotomayor, joined by Kagan, dissents, essentially saying: Are you kidding me? This is terrible. This is racism. It's all over this case.

        ERROL MORRIS: And [Justice Clarence] Thomas, in this instance?

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: He doesn't speak. He says nothing. But obviously, for us, Breyer joining Alito and Scalia was troubling, to be charitable. So we regroup, and we say, "O.K., oh good Lord, what are we going to do now?"


        Dr. Quijano's testimony had been questioned in Buck and other death penalty cases:

        Q. [The prosecutor] asked you about statistical factors in predicting future dangerousness. When we're talking about statistics, are we talking about correlation or causation?

        A. Oh. These statistics are strictly correlation. There's a big distinction, and we must keep that in mind. Correlation simply says that two events happened — coincidentally happened at the same time. It does not mean that one causes the other.

        Q. So when we're talking about these statistical factors — that more men re-offend than women, Hispanics offend more than blacks or whites, people from the low socioeconomic groups offend more than people from the higher socioeconomic groups, people who have opiate addiction or alcohol abuse offend more often than those who don't, people who have less education offend more often than those who have — do all those things cause people to offend?

        A. No. They are simply contributing factors. They are not causal factors. One cannot control one's gender or one's color. And obviously there are many, many Hispanics, many whites, many Orientals who don't commit crimes. But the frequence [sic] among those who commit crimes, these are the characteristics. They don't cause each other; they just happen to be coincidental to each other."

        I find Dr. Quijano's attempts to explain his methodology ludicrous. If race is a contributing factor but not a causal factor, is the issue whether race is a causal factor among many, or whether it is a causal factor at all? Or is Dr. Quijano having trouble admitting that he does see race as a contributing causal factor?

        In McCleskey v. Kemp the Supreme Court was asked to consider the statistical evidence of racial discrimination in death sentences reached by one study. The analysis found that defendants accused of killing white victims were 4.3 times more likely to receive the death penalty than defendants accused of killing black victims. The Supreme Court argued that racial discrimination has to be established in individual cases, not in the aggregate. Ironically, the court was perfectly willing to accept weak statistical arguments involving future dangerousness but to reject strong statistical arguments involving race and sentencing.

        Back to Ms. Swarns.


        CHRISTINA SWARNS: We regroup and decide to bring a state postconviction challenge back in Texas. Now it's 2013.

        We lose. We come back into federal court in 2013 and say: The rules have changed. The Supreme Court said we brought the wrong claim in 2011, but now we're bringing the right claim; we're now bringing the ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim that you basically asked for. This claim was brought to a federal district court judge who we thought would be receptive, based on the nature of the claim and the change in the law. Surprise. She denied it outright, without any apparent sympathy to the claim. She called it de minimis.

        ERROL MORRIS: De minimis?

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: Inconsequential. I had personally litigated another case before her, and that was a jury discrimination case on behalf of a Latino, a Mexican-American gentleman on death row in Texas, and she granted relief. I thought from my personal experience that she would be receptive to it, but she was absolutely not. And so we go up to the Fifth Circuit, and the Fifth is equally unreceptive. The panel just completely affirms her decision. We sought rehearing en banc; we asked the full court to review the panel's decision. And of course we were denied again, with a dissent from a couple of justices on the full panel.

        ERROL MORRIS: Things are not going well.

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: No. But we sent it up to the Supreme Court. Our request for Supreme Court review was filed in the spring of last year, and it was conferenced repeatedly.

        To have this delay and delay and delay and delay, it seemed to me that there might be some disagreement between the justices about whether to take the case. But they did. And it was argued in October, and then, of course, in February, we got a favorable decision from the court. It was 6 to 2 in our favor, but the language of the majority is very strong and unequivocal, and we had worried that it might be less clear, but the majority spoke really clearly, in this case about the inappropriateness of this evidence.

        ERROL MORRIS: You were repeatedly questioned by Roberts [Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.].

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: He kept asking me, But aren't you really just saying, isn't this case such an extreme outlier that it's hard to use it as a basis upon which to make a rule? This is so far outside the mainstream that it doesn't offer much guidance with respect to rules in the average case? And so that could have cut both ways. But obviously it ultimately cut not only in favor of granting full relief for Mr. Buck, but also for reaffirming the principle that "we sentence people for what they do, not for who they are."

        ERROL MORRIS: Full relief ––? They overturned the death sentence?

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: Yes, they did essentially. They said there is a Sixth Amendment violation — ineffective assistance of counsel — and we had crossed the procedural hurdles that we needed to get through. And so now it has to be remanded to the federal courts to, with those rulings, grant the writ and send him back to the state to decide whether they're going to seek another death sentence or resentence him otherwise.

        ERROL MORRIS: And what do you think will happen?

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: We don't know, but I can say that a death sentence is inappropriate here. Mr. Buck has been on death row since 1997, 1998, and he has had no disciplinary infractions in that time. So to your point about future dangerousness, the prediction could not have been more wrong. We now know without question that Mr. Buck is not likely to be a danger if he is sentenced to life, because he has been in jail for 20-some-odd years, and has had no disciplinary infractions, which is really unusual for anybody to come up with so few disciplinary infractions under any circumstance. It will be a very hard case for the state to prove future dangerousness if it tried to on a resentencing hearing. He has a perfect record.

        ERROL MORRIS: Would it be a commutation to life if they decided not to retry it?

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: We're just not sure.

        ERROL MORRIS: But the real problem is the Texas statute [coming after Furman v. Georgia] to reinstate the death penalty in Texas. To me the law in itself is an abomination.

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: I cannot disagree. The business of predicting future dangerousness without becoming corrupted by the various factors that are so tied to human functioning is impossible. It's an absurd requirement. As a prerequisite for a death sentence, it's insane.

        ERROL MORRIS: People are celebrating, which they should, your victory in this case, but the underlying problem remains.

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: That's right. I will say that along the way people asked me, were we challenging future dangerousness? And we just didn't. It wasn't raised. We just didn't have the opportunity to do that.

        ERROL MORRIS: Dr. Walter Quijano, the psychologist, has testified in many, many cases?

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: He has. He has been interviewed and holds to the position that there is a correlation between race and violence. He cites John Monahan, a researcher, for this view. But Monahan himself said it was inappropriate for Quijano to have used his research in this way.

        ERROL MORRIS: Well, Dr. Grigson was until the end a very firm believer in his predictions of dangerousness based on sociopathy. I knew him well.

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: I can't imagine what he was like.

        ERROL MORRIS: He was avuncular, charming in his own insidious way. I rather liked him. I found his social views deeply pernicious, but he is the one who introduced me to the death penalty in Texas. I went down to interview him in Dallas, and he insisted that I interview people he had put on death row. That's how I began "The Thin Blue Line."

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: That's amazing.

        ERROL MORRIS: I found an innocent man who came very close to being executed. [Adams's execution was scheduled for May 8, 1979, but Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. ordered a stay only three days before he was to be strapped into the lethal-injection gurney. Ultimately, the court overturned his death sentence, but not his conviction.] I uncovered all of these appalling details 30 years ago and then opened up a newspaper recently and read about Buck. It's as if nothing ever happened. That's both depressing and infuriating. Mitt Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, was told that the death penalty is problematic because it's fallible. You could execute an innocent person, and given our current state of knowledge, there is really no way to bring them back. Once executed, they stay executed.

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: And so what was Romney's reply?

        ERROL MORRIS: He said: Oh, that's simple. We'll just make it infallible. We'll make it foolproof. You said it's fallible. We'll just fix that.

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: If only.

        ERROL MORRIS: If only. But this is an example of how it has never been fixed. And here is the $64,000 question. What are your feelings about Clarence Thomas's decision in this case? Why did he decide as he did?

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: I have no idea. He is inexplicable. I don't really understand him. Putting aside the race politics here — and this is a big aside — we were right on the law. We were just four corners right on here. Put aside race, consider just the case. We met the law. I just don't understand him. He is really offended by the facts of the crime, which is fair, and I get that, because the facts are terrible, but the law is the law —

        ERROL MORRIS: I am interested in the kinds of casuistry that are involved in legal decisions in general, Supreme Court decisions specifically. I do believe the ends are always justifying the means. If you believe that somehow people should be executed, then you do whatever you need to do in order to make that happen. You think like Romney — we'll just make it infallible — but that argument clearly misses the point.

        CHRISTINA SWARNS: Right. It's absurd. Just think about. I can't predict what my kid is going to do tomorrow. It's an insane ask, based on no credible science.


        And so we're back where we started, except things have gotten worse. We have elected a president who invokes future dangerousness with respect to country of national origin (and also religion). In 1977 it was Dr. Grigson and sociopathy; in 1997, Dr. Quijano and race; and now it is Donald Trump and a list of six countries. Think of it as a very thinly disguised form of racism against Muslims.

        Christina Swarns sent me several legal briefs submitted to the Supreme Court in support of Buck, among them, a brief from the National Black Law Students Association. "Whether by a judge, a prosecutor or defense counsel, an appeal to a jury based on racial prejudice poisons our system of justice." And from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: "Mr. Buck was entitled to have his dangerousness assessed on an individualized basis based on his personal attributes. Instead he received a death sentence tainted by 400 years of racial stereotyping."

        Notwithstanding, the concept of dangerousness is alive and well. It took an egregious error to call it into question in Duane Buck's case. But it should have been ruled as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1976 (under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments) and should be seen as unconstitutional today. Admittedly, there is a difference between a court of law and a presidential order involving immigration. But under any circumstance, should public policy be held hostage to racial and religious discrimination?



        8)  Five Killed as Indian Farmers Clash With Police at a Protest

         JUNE 6, 2017



        NEW DELHI — Five people were killed Tuesday at a protest in central India, as the police battled with farmers demanding debt relief.

        The farmers, who believe that the government is intentionally keeping crop prices low to meet the demand of the country's growing cities, clashed with the police in Mandsaur, in Madhya Pradesh, the latest in a series of confrontations in rural areas.

        The authorities blocked some social media sites in an effort to prevent the farmers from further organizing, but demonstration leaders vowed to intensify their actions on Wednesday.

        Shiv Kumar Sharma, one of the protest leaders, said five farmers were killed and six others hurt when the police opened fire on the crowd. "Our demands are very simple: Give us remunerative prices of our products and waive our farm loans," Mr. Sharma said.

        The state's home minister, Bhupendra Singh, told Indian television that officers did not fire on the crowd, but said, "Only after the inquiry can we tell whether those who were killed are farmers or not, and how they were killed."

        Farmers in Madhya Pradesh and neighboring Maharashtra State have been protesting crop prices, in some cases throwing produce and milk into the street. Indian farmers have been steadily increasing their productivity, but their incomes have not kept pace, in part because vegetables prices remain low.

        The newly elected government of Uttar Pradesh, which is led by the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, waived $5 billion worth of farmers' loans and pressed neighboring states to do the same.

        Increased production has caused prices to fall, said Ashok Gulati, an agriculture specialist at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. "Farmers are selling below their cost, whether it is potato, tomato, onion or pulses," Mr. Gulati said. "The government only wakes up when the farmers hit them on the head."

        The authorities are eager to keep prices low to accommodate a growing demand in cities, he said. "It's a typical urban bias in the system," he said. "They want lower prices, inflation targeting, and now the farmers are on the rampage."



        9)  In Court, Diamond Reynolds Recounts Moments Before a Police Shooting

         JUNE 6, 2017




        ST. PAUL — Last summer, only seconds after watching a Minnesota police officer shoot her boyfriend during a traffic stop, Diamond Reynolds pulled out her phone and started recording.

        Shaken but steady, Ms. Reynolds told viewers on Facebook Live all that she had seen. As her camera rolled, she told the police officer, whose gun was still pointed into the car, that her boyfriend had meant no harm and had been trying to cooperate. And she checked on her 4-year-old daughter, who had watched the shooting from her booster seat in the back of the Oldsmobile.

        Within hours, millions had watched her video, and the death of Ms. Reynolds's boyfriend, Philando Castile, was international news.

        This week, the officer, Jeronimo Yanez, is on trial for second-degree manslaughter, and Ms. Reynolds, 27, is back in the spotlight.

        From the witness stand on Tuesday, she recounted the moment last July 6 when Officer Yanez, 29, began shooting, and dabbed away tears as prosecutors played a police dashboard-camera video from the encounter — as well as the video Ms. Reynolds had captured from inside the car.

        "I felt broken, hurt, confused, lost," Ms. Reynolds told the 15 jurors, at least two of whom also wiped their eyes as they watched the videos.

        Ms. Reynolds spent hours on the stand, starting late Monday and continuing through much of Tuesday morning. She said that she had reached for her phone and started recording because she feared Officer Yanez might also hurt her or her daughter, and that she wanted there to be evidence if he did.

        "I know that the people are not protected against the police," Ms. Reynolds said.

        Through dozens of questions from prosecutors and defense lawyers, Ms. Reynolds responded in even, firm tones, often repeating the phrase, "That is correct." Her testimony also offered a fuller portrait of a woman the public had come to know from her video that day.

        Ms. Reynolds said she moved as a girl with her family to Minnesota from Chicago seeking a better life. She attended high school here, but did not receive a diploma, and spent time in homeless shelters before meeting and moving in with Mr. Castile, a longtime cafeteria manager for the St. Paul school district.

        Ms. Reynolds said Mr. Castile embraced her and became "a father figure" to her young daughter, Dae'Anna, now 5. He would read the girl books and make sure she had a healthy breakfast. Jurors saw a photo of Mr. Castile and Dae'Anna celebrating her birthday at the Mall of America.

        "He was a friend to her," Ms. Reynolds said. "He was a role model."

        On the day of the shooting, Ms. Reynolds said Mr. Castile went to work, then got his hair fixed. Separately, Ms. Reynolds took public transit to drop her daughter off at preschool that morning and traveled to her job at a dollar store. Later that day, Ms. Reynolds said she and her sister smoked marijuana, picked up Dae'Anna from preschool and met up with Mr. Castile in the evening to go grocery shopping.

        Earl Gray, a lawyer for Officer Yanez, questioned Ms. Reynolds at length about her marijuana use. Ms. Reynolds said she and Mr. Castile smoked marijuana daily, and had done so for years. She admitted that there was marijuana in the car at the time Officer Yanez pulled them over, but she said they had not been smoking.

        Mr. Gray also pointed out what he said were inconsistent details in Ms. Reynolds's past statements about the case. Ms. Reynolds said she was being honest. Lawyers did not mention felony assault charges Ms. Reynolds is facing in connection with an alleged hammer attack this year. That case is still pending.

        In court on Tuesday, Officer Joseph Kauser, Officer Yanez's partner, testified that he did not see a gun in Mr. Castile's car, did not smell the burned marijuana described by Officer Yanez and was not alarmed by the situation until his colleague started shooting.

        "I did not feel threatened at that point from where I was standing," Officer Kauser said of the moment right before the shooting.

        But Officer Kauser, a college classmate and longtime friend of Officer Yanez, praised his partner's character and said he believed Officer Yanez acted appropriately. Officer Yanez's lawyers have said their client feared for his life and will testify in his own defense.

        Mr. Castile, who had a permit to carry a pistol, told Officer Yanez during the traffic stop that he had a firearm with him. The trial rests largely on whether jurors believe Officer Yanez's claim that Mr. Castile was grabbing for that gun, or whether they believe Ms. Reynolds's statement that her boyfriend was simply reaching for his wallet.



        10)  Ditch Both War Parties: Anti-War Coalition Maps Independent Course to Peace

        A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

        "The Democrats and the Republicans offer nothing but war and misery to all the world's peoples, but we in the belly of the beast have a special responsibility to dismantle this juggernaut of planetary death." https://www.blackagendareport.com/unac_conference_for_peace

        On June 16 through 18, the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) will hold its annual conference, under the theme: "Stop the Wars at Home and Abroad: Building a Movement Against War, Injustice and Repression." For three days, the convention center in Richmond, Virginia, will likely be the sanest building in the nation, the one place where you won't be subjected to a barrage of warmongering fantasies about Russian threats to a non-existent American democracy. Instead, hundreds of activists from a broad range of organizations will be hard at work building alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans who have plunged the world into endless war and condemned most people in the United States to a dismal future of economic insecurity, the worst health care system in the developed world –- and if you're Black, the ever-present threat of sudden death at the hands of police.

        The all-seeing, eternally-listening, omnivorous data-crunching mechanisms of the national security state that was once justified by manufactured fears of Soviet Russians, then exponentially expanded to cage, kill and contain Black revolutionaries, and then vastly reinforced again to criminalize Black people as a group, creating the world's biggest mass incarceration police state; this same repressive machinery that, after 9/ll, tracked and entrapped Muslim Americans like hunted prey, now spies upon the electronic communications of the entire world, mapping, profiling and, when possible, actively manipulating every wired person on the planet, as if the whole of humanity is a security risk to the rulers of the U.S. empire.

        The madness comes full circle, with war fever whipped to a frenzy by constant repetition of baseless, spy agency-supplied and corporate media-magnified lies and outright nonsense, claiming that Russia, the all-purpose villain, has hijacked U.S. elections and is exerting effective control over the racist, rightwing billionaire in the White House. But of course, rich, racist white people have always been in control of the United States, and have always rigged the electoral system to their own benefit.

        A Large Black Presence Expected

        The Democrats and the Republicans offer nothing but war and misery to all the world's peoples, but we in the belly of the beast have a special responsibility to dismantle this juggernaut of planetary death. This year's United National Anti-War Coalition conference, in Richmond, will have the largest Black presence in UNAC's history: more than a third of the speakers will be Black, including several from Black Agenda Report and Ajamu Baraka, who is pulling together the Black Alliance for Peace. The Black Alliance for Peace is already part of the UNAC coalition. As Ajamu Baraka says: "The Democratic Party wants war with Russia, the Trump administration wants war with China, so it's up to the people to demand and struggle for peace against both pro-imperialist parties."

        Black people have historically been the most pro-peace constituency in the United States, so it is logical and righteous that we'll be well-represented in Richmond, on the weekend of June 16.



        11)   Jeremy Corbyn has caused a sensation – he would make a fine prime minister

        By Owen Jones, June 9, 2017


        This is one of the most sensational political upsets of our time. Theresa May – a wretched dishonest excuse of a politician, don't pity her – launched a general election with the sole purpose of crushing opposition in Britain. It was brazen opportunism, a naked power grab: privately, I'm told, her team wanted the precious "bauble" of going down in history as the gravediggers of the British Labour party. Instead, she has destroyed herself. She is toast.

        She has just usurped David Cameron as the "worst ever prime minister on their own terms" (before Cameron, it had been a title held by Lord North since the 18th century). Look at the political capital she had: the phenomenal polling lead, almost the entire support of the British press, the most effective electoral machine on Earth behind her. Her allies presented the Labour opposition as an amusing, eccentric joke that could be squashed like a fly that had already had its wings ripped off. They genuinely believed they could get a 180-seat majority. She will leave No 10 soon, disgraced, entering the history books filed under "hubris".

        But, before a false media narrative is set, let me put down a marker. Yes, the Tory campaign was a shambolic, insulting mess, notable only for its U-turns, a manifesto that swiftly disintegrated, robotically repeated mantras that achieved only ridicule. But don't let media commentators – hostile to Labour's vision – pretend that the May calamity is all down to self-inflicted Tory wounds.

        This was the highest turnout since 1997, perhaps the biggest Labour percentage since the same year – far eclipsing Tony Blair's total in 2005. Young and previous non-voters came out in astonishing numbers, and not because they thought, "Ooh, Theresa May doesn't stick to her promises, does she?" Neither can we reduce this to a remainer revolt. The Lib Dems threw everything at the despondent remainer demographic, with paltry returns. Many Ukip voters flocked to the Labour party.

        No: this was about millions inspired by a radical manifesto that promised to transform Britain, to attack injustices, and challenge the vested interests holding the country back. Don't let them tell you otherwise. People believe the booming well-off should pay more, that we should invest that money in schools, hospitals, houses, police and public services, that all in work should have a genuine living wage, that young people should not be saddled with debt for aspiring to an education, that our utilities should be under the control of the people of this country. For years, many of us have argued that these policies – shunned, reviled even in the political and media elite – had the genuine support of millions. And today that argument was decisively vindicated and settled.

        Don't let them get away with the claim that, "Ah, this election just shows a better Labour leader could have won!" Risible rot. Do we really think that Corbyn's previous challengers to the leadership – and this is nothing personal – would have inspired millions of otherwise politically disengaged and alienated people to come out and vote, and drive Labour to its highest percentage since the famous Blair landslide? If the same old stale, technocratic centrism had been offered, Labour would have faced an absolute drubbing, just like its European sister parties did.

        Labour is now permanently transformed. Its policy programme is unchallengeable. It is now the party's consensus. It cannot and will not be taken away. Those who claimed it could not win the support of millions were simply wrong. No, Labour didn't win, but from where it started, that was never going to happen. That policy programme enabled the party to achieve one of the biggest shifts in support in British history – yes, eclipsing Tony Blair's swing in 1997.

        Social democracy is in crisis across the western world. British Labour is now one of the most successful centre-left parties, many of which have been reduced to pitiful rumps under rightwing leaderships. And indeed, other parties in Europe and the United States should learn lessons from this experience.

        And what of our young? They have suffered disproportionately these past few years: student debt, a housing crisis, a lack of secure jobs, falling wages, cuts to social security – the list goes on. Young voters have been ignored, ridiculed, demonised even. They just don't care about politics, it's said, or they're just too lazy. "Under-30s love Corbyn but they don't care enough to get off their lazy arses to vote for him!" one unnamed Tory MP told the Huffington Post's Owen Bennett. Those young voters did indeed get off their "lazy arses", and they kicked several Tory MPs' arses out of the House of Commons.

        And then there's the media onslaught. Even by the standards of our so-called free press – a stinking sewer at the best of times – its campaign against Corbyn and the Labour party was utterly nauseating. Smears of terrorism, extremism, you name it. They believed they could simply brainwash millions of Britons. But people in this country are cleverer than the press barons think, and millions rejected their bile.

        But a note about Corbyn, and the leadership, too. I owe Corbyn, John McDonnell, Seumas Milne, his policy chief Andrew Fisher, and others, an unreserved, and heartfelt apology. I campaigned passionately for Corbyn the first time he stood, and I voted for him twice. A few weeks ago, a senior Labour MP denounced me as one of the chief gravediggers of the Labour party, and journalists have suggested I should be knighted by the Tory party for my efforts.

        But I came to believe that, yes, indeed Labour was heading for a terrible defeat that would crush all the things I believed in. That's what all the polling, byelections and the local elections seemed to say. I thought people had made their minds up about Corbyn, however unfairly, and their opinion just wouldn't shift. I wasn't a bit wrong, or slightly wrong, or mostly wrong, but totally wrong. Having one foot in the Labour movement and one in the mainstream media undoubtedly left me more susceptible to their groupthink. Never again. Corbyn stays and – if indeed the Tories are thrown into crisis as Brexit approaches – he has an undoubted chance of becoming prime minister, and a fine prime minister he would make too.

        Now that I've said I'm wrong – perhaps one of the sweetest things I've had to write – so the rest of the mainstream commentariat, including in this newspaper, must confess they were wrong, too. They were wrong to vilify Corbyn supporters – from the day he stood – as delusional cultists. They were wrong to suggest Corbyn couldn't mobilise young people and previous non-voters. They were wrong to suggest he couldn't make inroads in Scotland. They were wrong to suggest a radical left programme was an automatic recipe for electoral catastrophe. No, Labour hasn't formed a government. But it is far closer than it has been for a very long time. The prospect of a socialist government that can build an economy run in the interests of working people – not the cartel of vested interests who have plunged us into repeated crisis – well, that may have been a prospect many of us thought would never happen in our lifetime. It is now much closer than it has ever been. So yes – to quote a much-ridiculed Jeremy Corbyntweet: the real fight starts now.



        12)  States Lead the Fight Against Trump's Birth Control Rollback

         JUNE 9, 2017




        WASHINGTON — Not long after President Trump took the oath of office, a busload of women's health advocates made the first of a series of 860-mile round trips from Las Vegas to the Nevada capital, Carson City. Their mission: to push state legislators to expand insurance coverage for contraception.

        It worked. On Saturday, Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, a Republican, signed a measure requiring insurers to cover 12 months of birth control at a time, with no co-payment.

        Nevada is not the only state where birth control is suddenly on the legislative agenda. With the future of the Affordable Care Act — former President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation — in doubt and the Trump administration planning to roll back the act's mandate that employers cover contraceptives, the battle over birth control is shifting to the states.

        Currently, 28 states have some type of "contraceptive equity" law, aimed at making birth control cheaper and more accessible. Many of those measures — including one in Nevada — were adopted in the late 1990s. The issue has gained urgency with Mr. Trump's election.

        "We are on the cusp of seeing another push, a more aggressive push at the state level to protect affordable access to contraception, just like we saw in the late '90s when women realized Viagra was getting coverage and birth control wasn't," said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, a New York nonprofit that advocates for reproductive rights.

        "The feds can set a floor," Ms. Miller said. "States can decide to do better."

        Several states are expanding access by requiring insurers to cover a year's supply of contraceptives at a time, as opposed to the customary three months. In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, last month signed a bill that would do just that, and Colorado's Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, signed a similar bill this week.

        Lawmakers in Massachusetts and New York are also considering "contraceptive equity bills." In New York, Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general, has proposed far-reaching legislation that would cover all forms of birth control, including vasectomies, without co-pays and at no cost to the patient. (Obamacare does not require insurers to cover vasectomies.) The bill has passed the New York Assembly, but awaits action in the state senate.

        Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat, called for similar legislation last year, but said in an interview that Mr. Trump's election increased his sense of urgency.

        "We were anticipating this attack would come," he said.

        More than 55 million women now have access to free birth control under the Affordable Care Act, according to a study conducted by the Obama administration. But the Trump administration has drafted a far-reaching rule, leaked last week, that would greatly expand the number of employers and insurers that could qualify for exemptions from the birth control mandate by claiming a moral or a religious objection.

        For religious conservatives and anti-abortion advocates — many of whom oppose the contraceptive coverage mandate because it includes drugs that they say can induce abortion — the proposed rule was a welcome shift. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, in a statement issued on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the draft "encouraging news."

        But hundreds of thousands of women, many of them poor, could lose access to no-cost birth control if the rule goes into effect. For women like Tacy Geesaman, a 34-year-old mother of two in Las Vegas, who took one of the lobbying bus trips to Carson City, and is contemplating a run for public office, the Trump administration's draft rule is a call to action.

        "I feel like religion should be a nonissue in protecting women's rights to have affordable birth control,'' Ms. Geesaman said. "Women's rights are on the line.''

        The Affordable Care Act, which passed in 2010, did not explicitly call for insurers to provide birth control free of charge; it called for "preventive services," like mammograms, to be offered without co-pays.

        But the Obama administration interpreted "preventive services" as including birth control; insurers are now required to cover 18 birth control methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including birth control pills, implantable devices and so-called morning after contraceptives, at no cost to the patient.

        A series of lawsuits filed over the last five years by priests, nuns, charitable organizations, hospitals, advocacy groups and others helped chip away at the contraceptive coverage requirement. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that family-owned businesses could not be forced to pay for coverage that included contraception if doing so violated the business owners' religious beliefs.

        That same year, California became the first state to pass birth control legislation codifying Obamacare's requirements, which provided a blueprint for other states to do so.

        Since then, Illinois, Vermont and Maryland have adopted their own contraceptive equity laws. Maryland's is among the most expansive; beginning in 2018, all forms of birth control — including vasectomies and Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill — will be free for those with insurance.

        "The thought of losing the federal protections was in the back of our minds," said Delegate Ariana B. Kelly, who sponsored the Maryland measure. It passed the Democratic-controlled legislature with bipartisan support, and was signed into law last year by Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, who boasted that Maryland would have "the most comprehensive coverage for contraception in the country."

        Women's health advocates credit Obamacare's birth control provisions with helping to reduce rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion, especially among poor women.

        In an interview earlier this year, Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood, said that shortly after Mr. Trump was elected, the organization had experienced a "huge surge in demand" for intrauterine devices and other birth control implants, covered without co-pays under the Affordable Care Act.

        "Prior to the A.C.A., those methods were not accessible; they were very expensive due to deductibles and co-pays," Dr. McDonald-Mosley said.

        As reproductive rights advocates seek to enshrine the federal mandate in state law, they have in some cases run into opposition from the insurance industry as well as religious conservatives.

        Lora M. Pellegrini, president of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, an industry trade group, said the bill pending in that state's legislature "was cloaked as protecting coverage that was part of the Affordable Care Act," but instead "covers everything under the sun." Her group is fighting the measure, arguing that it will raise premiums.

        In Nevada, existing law allowed employers to exclude birth control pills and devices if they opposed treatment on religious grounds. But an early version of the measure Governor Sandoval signed removed the religious exemption, and also mandated coverage of the drug mifepristone, known as RU-486, which can induce abortion when combined with another medication.

        That drew opposition from anti-abortion advocates, as well as some Republicans like State Senator Joseph Hardy, who complained that the bills as originally written would create "an unfettered right to have an abortion." Mr. Hardy said the legislature considered four separate birth control measures, and spent so much time debating the issue that one of his colleagues complained of "contraceptive fatigue bills."

        Eventually, the religious exemption was restored, and the language regarding RU-486 was stripped out — a compromise that allowed both sides to claim victory.

        "We kind of saw the writing on the wall, with Trump," said Caroline Mello Roberson, the Nevada state director for Naral Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group that organized the lobbying effort. "The message we want to send is that women are here to fight back, and states are leading the resistance."



        13)  What Turned the British Election? Maybe the Youth Vote

         JUNE 9, 2017




        LONDON — As Britain took stock on Friday of the stunning results of a snap election that wiped out the parliamentary majority of Prime Minister Theresa May and her governing Conservative Party, one narrative bubbled up to the surface: The youth had spoken.

        The election results were fueled partly by a higher turnout rate among young British voters who had long been angry at the results of the referendum last year to leave the European Union, known as Brexit. That vote, overwhelmingly supported by older Britons, was seen by many younger people as a threat to their jobs, their ability to study abroad and their desire to travel freely across the bloc's borders.

        In other words, the vote by young Britons on Thursday had a whiff of payback.

        "I was so angry about Brexit that I buried my head in a pillow and screamed," said Louise Traynor, 24, a waitress in the southwestern district of Battersea in London, who had never voted before Thursday.

        Shaking her head in frustration, Ms. Traynor said she had been angry at herself because she hadn't bothered to vote the first time around. "I was stupid enough to think that the country had some sense," she said.

        The Brexit referendum, Ms. Traynor said, could lead to closed borders, which threatened to tear her long-term Spanish boyfriend away from her, and her away from the group of European friends she had made while working at a tapas restaurant.

        On Friday morning, she said, much of the anxiety she had felt about her future was replaced with excitement when she realized that her vote for the opposition Labour Party had denied the prime minister a mandate.

        Jeremy Corbyn's Labour gained 31 seats, while Mrs. May's party lost 12 seats and its overall majority — leaving a hung Parliament, one in which neither side has enough lawmakers for control. In a statement on Friday, Mrs. May grimly announced that she would form a minority government with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.

        Ms. Traynor said that Mr. Corbyn's campaign had "injected energy" into what otherwise seemed like a stale election that would bring more "doom."

        "Does Theresa May care that I've been on minimum wage for three years and I'm still paying my student debt?" she asked. "No, she doesn't. All she cares about is Brexit and getting her deal."

        Owen Jones, an author and Labour campaigner, wrote in The Guardianon Friday that young voters had been "ignored, ridiculed and demonized, even. They just don't care about politics, it's said, or they're just too lazy."

        He added, "Our young have suffered disproportionately these past few years: student debt, a housing crisis, a lack of secure jobs, falling wages, cuts to social security."

        Many young Britons felt compelled to vote after the Brexit decision, because of austerity budgets and what they saw as the establishment's tendency to serve the interests of the rich. This year saw a spike in young people registering to vote — more than one million people under 25 applied.

        On the day in May the election was called, 57,987 people under 25 registered to vote — more than any other age group, according to the BBC. About 246,480 young people registered to vote on the last day in May that they were eligible, a significant increase from the 137,400 who did so on the cutoff date in 2015, The Telegraph reported.

        The turnout in constituencies with younger voters rose significantly, appearing to benefit Labour. The turnout for 18- to 24-year-olds was 66.4 percent, according to Sky News data. Other reports put it as high as 72 percent. In the 2015 general election, the rate for voters of the same age range was 43 percent, according to Ipsod, a marketing and opinion research company.

        Shona Macdonald, 52, a poll clerk in Nottingham, north of London, told The Times that "It was incredible to see so many students voting. The youth vote galvanized by Jeremy Corbyn was real."

        There were doubts that younger voters would cast their ballots for Mr. Corbyn, who had toured the country, attracting crowds of all ages. His campaign was even compared to Bernie Sanders's American presidential race. In a Twitter post on Friday, Mr. Sanders congratulated Mr. Corbyn for "running a very effective campaign."

        The payoff was evident in Battersea, where Labour seized the Conservative seat.

        "Representatives from the Labour Party knocked on our doors and gathered us in groups, asking us about our problems and talking to us about solutions," said Jessie Cox, a 21-year-old student. "They gave us a reason to vote."

        Jennifer Hudson, a senior lecturer in politics at University College London, said the effectiveness of Mr. Corbyn's campaign could be seen in a picture of him with young supporters, cheek to cheek.

        "I thought: 'We will never see Theresa May like that with her supporters,'" Ms. Hudson said. "He has managed to create a human connection with his voters."

        Even when members of Mr. Corbyn's own party declared him unfit to lead, he continued to focus on young voters, including sitting for an interview with some of the country's top grime music stars that kick-started the grass-roots campaign group "Grime4Corbyn," which encouraged young people to register to vote.

        Analysts say that the part of Labour's manifesto that most resonated with Britain's youth was its promise to abolish university tuition fees. But Malia Bouattia, the president of the National Union of Students, said the student vote was also about issues like cuts to the National Health Service.

        On Friday, the mood in Battersea was celebratory, though Labour did not win an overt victory. Many youths said they had attended election parties until the early hours of the morning and had skipped work.

        "We may still be far from the final result that we wanted, but this feels like progress, and hopefully, it gives out a message to the pompous Tories that they can't make bad decisions on our behalf," said Luke Rossi, 25, a musician who had voted for the first time.

        In Battersea Park, students ages 19 to 21 were debating possible political outcomes of the election aftermath. All said they hoped Mrs. May would be removed as leader of her party.

        "She's an embarrassment to the country," said Fiona Barry, 20, a student at Queen Mary University in London. "England deserves so much better than that."

        That sentiment was not shared by all younger voters. "I like some of Corbyn's policies, but he's just not fit to be prime minister," Aaron Neil, 23, of Dalston in east London, said before the election. "We need a strong leader and party to get us through Brexit negotiations and make sure the economy doesn't collapse."

        For now, Mrs. May still leads, but precariously. The election results hammered the pound — it sank as much as 2 percent against the dollar — and plunged the country into uncertainty days before Brexit talks were to begin.

        In her statement on Friday, Mrs. May vowed, "I will now form a government, a government that can provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country."

        She has also apologized to her party's ministers who lost their seats.



        14)  Trump Gives Mattis Authority to Send More Troops to Afghanistan

        JUNE 13, 2017



        WASHINGTON — President Trump has given Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to determine troop levels in Afghanistan, three administration officials said Tuesday, opening the door for sending more American forces to a war that the Pentagon chief acknowledged the United States was "not winning."

        Mr. Mattis is believed to favor sending several thousand more American troops to strengthen the effort to advise Afghan forces as they push back against gains made by the Taliban, the Islamic State and other militant groups. But officials said he had not yet decided how many more forces to send to Afghanistan, or when to deploy them.

        One United States official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing internal deliberations, said that Mr. Trump decided on Tuesday morning to grant Mr. Mattis the authority. It was the latest in a series of moves by the White House to give the Pentagon and its military commanders more latitude to deploy forces and carry out operations.

        Mr. Mattis alluded somewhat cryptically to the decision when he testified on Tuesday morning to the Senate Armed Services Committee. During his appearance, the defense secretary promised Congress that the Trump administration would develop a new strategy for Afghanistan by mid-July to turn around the war.

        That timetable led to a feisty exchange with Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and the committee's chairman, who complained that the Pentagon had yet to present a plan to regain momentum in a conflict that has been going on for more than 15 years.

        "We're now six months into this administration," Mr. McCain said. "We still haven't got a strategy for Afghanistan. It makes it hard for us to support you when we don't have a strategy."

        Mr. Mattis sought to ease his concerns by hinting that some troops might be sent as an interim step before the administration's new strategy is finalized. "There are actions being taken to make certain that we don't pay a price for the delay," Mr. Mattis said.

        Mr. Trump has already given his Pentagon chief similar authority for Iraq and Syria.

        Mr. Trump's approach makes a sharp break from former President Barack Obama, who tightly controlled decisions on military troops, a practice that some critics complained smacked of micromanaging. The president has relaxed the rules for counterterrorism operations in Somalia and Yemen and was quick to approve the military's plan to fire sea-launched cruise missiles at an airfield that President Bashar al-Assad's forces used to mount a chemical weapons attack in Syria.

        Proponents say that delegating the authority to the Pentagon will enable it to carry out campaigns against the United States' adversaries without interruptions and will allow it to respond more quickly to changes on the battlefield. The risk, critics say, is the president may become too detached from developments on the battlefield and may use this approach to distance himself from a decision that could be politically unpopular.

        There is no debate that the war is Afghanistan is not going well. Gen. John W. Nicholson, the commander of the American-led international force in Afghanistan, told Congress in February that the United States and its NATO allies were facing a "stalemate."

        Mr. Mattis offered a similarly sober assessment. "The Taliban had a good year last year, and they're trying to have a good one this year," he said. "Right now, I believe the enemy is surging."

        The main question before the administration is how to reverse the trends on the battlefield.

        The military's advice from the field has long been clear. In his February testimony, General Nicholson said he needed a "few thousand" troops.

        The Pentagon later developed options to send 3,000 to 5,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, including hundreds of Special Operations forces. The reinforcements would be augmented by troop contributions by NATO nations, which American officials have begun to solicit.

        An estimated 9,800 American troops are deployed to Afghanistan, most of them assigned to an international force of about 13,000 troops that are training and advising the Afghan military. About 2,000 of the American troops are assigned to fight Al Qaeda and other militant groups.

        But Mr. Trump had long expressed skepticism about sending more troops, and the issue has never been easy for an administration that trumpets an "America first" strategy. While Mr. Trump has vowed to defeat terrorist groups, sending more American forces to Afghanistan could cost billions of dollars, and there is no guarantee of producing a clear win.

        Even as Mr. Trump has granted Mr. Mattis the authority to set troop levels, the administration's broader strategy review has yet to be completed. Officials said the Afghan review has been broadened to include the policy toward neighboring Pakistan, particularly the question of how to prevent that country from being a haven for the Taliban and militants involved in the Afghan conflict.

        That in turn has led to a discussion within the administration about what steps might be taken to mitigate Pakistan's decades-long anxieties over India. The result is that the Afghan review has turned into a larger review of American policy toward Southwest Asia.

        Mr. Mattis did not discuss the details of the review with the senators on Tuesday, but he vowed to reverse the slide.

        "We are not winning in Afghanistan right now, and we will correct this as soon as possible," he said. "It's going to require a change in our approach from the last several years."

        Alluding to the troop reinforcement plan that has been under discussion, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States and allies could help reduce the substantial number of casualties that Afghan forces have sustained by "more effectively advising them, both in planning operations and delivering combined arms."

        One argument that proponents have made for sending more troops is that it would enable the United States to advise Afghan units closer to the battlefield.

        Asked what it would mean to win in Afghanistan, Mr. Mattis provided a definition that might have been produced by the Obama administration.

        The idea, he said, would be to drive down the violence to a level that could be managed by Afghan government forces with the help of American and allied troops in training their Afghan counterparts, providing intelligence and delivering what Mr. Mattis called "high-end capability," an apparent allusion to air power and possibly Special Operations forces.

        The result, he said, would be an "era of frequent skirmishing," but not a situation in which the Afghan government no longer faced a mortal threat.

        The main purpose of the hearing was to review the Trump administration's $603 billion military spending request, which represents a 3 percent increase over Mr. Obama's last defense plan.

        Mr. McCain and other hawkish lawmakers have described the request as far too little to carry out the military buildup Mr. Trump has advertised, a point that Mr. Mattis and General Dunford uncomfortably acknowledged.

        The Pentagon officials asserted that the current spending request would help the military improve the readiness of its existing forces while 3 to 5 percent growth would be needed during the 2019 to 2023 budget years to expand the size of the military and buy new weapons.



        15)  Michigan Official Is Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in Flint Water Crisis

        JUNE 14, 2017



        FLINT, Mich. — The head of Michigan's Health Department has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Flint's tainted water crisis, court documents filed on Tuesday showed.

        The criminal charge against Nick Lyon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is the one most directly linked to the deaths of residents in the three-year-old water contamination case. The water has been tied to the lead poisoning of children in Flint and the deaths of 12 people from Legionnaires' disease.

        "Defendant Lyon's acts and failure to act resulted in the death of at least one person," the charging document said.

        The document also said: "Defendant Lyon exhibited gross negligence when he failed to alert the public about the deadly outbreak and by taking steps to suppress information illustrating obvious and apparent harms that were likely to result in serious injury. Defendant Lyon willfully disregarded the deadly nature of the Legionnaires' Disease outbreak."

        Mr. Lyon was also charged with misconduct in office. If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, he could face 15 years in prison.

        Before Tuesday's charges, 13 people had been charged in the crisis, but the charges had included accusations of misconduct in office and conspiracy to commit false pretenses, and appeared less directly tied to deaths than the one against Mr. Lyon.

        Over past months, three Flint officials, including a former director of the city's Public Works Department and a former utilities director for the department, were charged. And 10 state officials — including two state-appointed emergency managers assigned to oversee Flint, a state epidemiologist and the former leader of the state municipal drinking water office — faced charges.























        Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com
        Reply via web post Reply to sender Reply to group Start a New Topic Messages in this topic (1)

        Have you tried the highest rated email app?
        With 4.5 stars in iTunes, the Yahoo Mail app is the highest rated email app on the market. What are you waiting for? Now you can access all your inboxes (Gmail, Outlook, AOL and more) in one place. Never delete an email again with 1000GB of free cloud storage.