Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:











Support the troops who refuse to fight!



Saturday, July 15th Protest and Demand: 

The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

2:00 pm U.N. Plaza in San Francisco, Rally and March

From Refuse Fascism: The Trump/Pence Regime daily escalates its fascist attacks on immigrants and Muslims, on healthcare and the poor, on Black and Brown people, on women and LGBTQ folks, on the media, on the environment, on the right to protest, on the truth. We must say NO! Not just for ourselves, but in the name of humanity. Never underestimate the power of the people rising up together with right on our side.



PT Campaign Organizer - Whistleblower Support

The organizer will lead a grassroots international public education effort in support of an alleged whistleblower facing prison for releasing a document that should not have been classified in the first place.  The campaign organizer will be the "human glue" that ties together the leadership team, campaign staff, advisory committee members, and volunteer organizers and activists from around the world. This "people person" position will require aspects of public relations, marketing, supporter engagement, and fundraising.



484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610

Your support allows us to do this work!



California Alliance for Retired Americans

600 Grand Ave, Rm 410

Oakland CA 94610

510-663-4086,  californiaalliance.org


Please join CARA on August 14 to celebrate Social Security's 82nd birthday, and to re-dedicate ourselves to defend Social Security and preserve, improve, and expand it.  Our confirmed speakers so far are Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works and Norman Solomon, author, columnist and activist. 

Monday, August 14, Noon, in Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza

Broadway and 14th St, 12th St BART Station.

Rally and Two-Block March to Federal Building

More program details to be announced.

Please contact 

Michael Lyon, 415-215-7575, mlyon01@comcast.net, or

Jodi Reid, 415-550-0828,  jreid.cara@gmail.com

CARA is sponsoring events across California in July and August to defend and expand Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, in the face of attacks from Washington.  Our Oakland event will draw people from all around the San Francisco Bay Area.  We are hoping you can publicize this event among your members, and bring them on August 14.   We are attaching a copy of our leaflet and a petition your members can sign and return.  Anyone can sign the petition, it is not official, but will be used to show support for these programs.

Over its 82 years, Social Security has provided income and dignity to hundreds of millions of retirees and people with disabilities, their spouses and children, and to deceased workers' spouses and children.  For two thirds of seniors, it's been over half their income.  Half of women and people with disabilities would be in poverty without Social Security. Almost 10% of children get it.  We will NOT go back to the days of workhouses!

Social Security is the nation's most effective anti-poverty program, yet it is entirely funded by us, we who work for a living, through FICA deductions from our paychecks, and by our employers.  Not a cent comes from the government; in fact our $2.4 Trillion Social Security Trust Fund is invested in loans to help the government run. Those loans must, and will, be repaid to Social Security.  It's our program, our money!  Our past, our future!

Forces for austerity want to destroy or undermine Social Security by increasing the retirement age, decreasing the benefits and cost-of-living increases, and converting Social Security from a unified government program of collectively-guaranteed economic security for everyone, to a hodge-podge of private individual accounts for each recipient, invested in the stock market, and managed by expensive Wall Street money managers.  

Now, the Trump administration wants to eliminate the payroll tax that is the financial foundation of Social Security and cut $64 Billion over ten years from Social Security Disability Insurance, an integral part of Social Security, by reducing future enrollment with work requirements.

Given this adversity, it's important we remember that our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents won Social Security in the mid-1930s, the depths of the Great Depression, when everything looked stacked against us.  Social Security must be preserved, improved, and expanded.  In the 1930s, Roosevelt said "Make me do it!"  We did. We can do it again!




The Mission Statement of our Brothers and Sisters of the Millions for Prisoners March, with whom Amend The 13th cooperates: 

We seek to unite Activists, Advocates, Prisoners, Ex-Prisoners, their Family and Friends, as well as all others committed to the fight to drastically reduce or eliminate prisons and the prison system, and replace them with more humane and effective systems. Our aim is to expose the Prison Industrial Complex for the Human Rights Violation that it truly is. We want to challenge the idea that caging and controlling people keeps communities safe. We believe that for too long our nation has relied upon incarceration as a way to solve broader social problems to its detriment.

On August 19th, 2017 we will March On Washington to bring world attention to the continued slavery and involuntary servitude in America, enabled by the 13th Amendment and to highlight the ever increasing Movement against the Prison Industrial Complex.

The New Abolitionist Movement!

A) We DEMAND the 13th amendment ENSLAVEMENT CLAUSE of the United States Constitution be amended to abolish LEGALIZED slavery in America.

B) We DEMAND a Congressional hearing on the 13th Amendment ENSLAVEMENT CLAUSE being recognized as in violation of international law, the general principles of human rights and its direct links to:

  • Private entities exploiting prison labor
  • Companies overcharging prisoners for goods and services
  • Private entities contracted by states/federal government to build and operate prisons. This would also include immigration detentions
  • Racial disparities in America's prison population and sentencing
  • Policing: the disproportionate (unaccountable) killings by police in the black and brown communities
  • Felony Disenfranchisement laws
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement 34,000 detention quotas
  • Producing the world largest prison population

LOC's (Local Organizing Committees) are being established in cities all throughout the country to bring awareness and promote the March on Washington!

Additional Support is need in the following areas:

– Lawyers – Legal Observer – Lobbyist – Public Relations – Event Planners – Fundraisers

Please contact us if you want to support us in these or other areas:

Email: millionsforprisonersmarch@gmail.com

Tel.: 803-220-4553

Website: www.iamweubuntu.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/groups/MillionsforPrisonersMarch/

Twitter: Twitter.com/milli4prisoners



P.O Box 58201

Raleigh NC 27658​

Update 6-24-2017:

More details here.



CODEPINK Fall Action at Creech:  

Oct. 5 to Oct. 12    (All welcome!)

(Oct. 7 is the 16th Anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan)

SHUT DOWN CREECH: Spring 2018: Apr. 8-14.  (National Mass Mobilization to Resist Killer Drones)

(Thanks to Sandy Turner, from Ukiah, CA, for sharing this link!)

The Pentagon and CIA now have Brett Velicovich, their own drone veteran and CEO of an "online drone retail store" (Dronepire, Inc. and Expert Drones) , to glorify drone killing. Shameful that NPR couldn't ask the very difficult and important questions.  Lots of public education is needed to help people separate fact from fiction!

Would love for someone to do research on this guy!

Please listen to this interview (filled with misinformation), and consider joining us at Creech in the fall and/or spring to be a voice against the slaughter.  

(Dates below).

Life As A 'Drone Warrior'

NPR interview "with Brett Velicovich about his memoir, Drone Warrior, which details his time hunting and killing alleged terrorists using drones in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places."


PS:  We should have a massive letter writing and phone calling to NPR for this totally biased and dangerous misrepresentation!





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

Activist Goes on Hunger Strike Outside the Northwest Detention Center

Maru Mora Villalpando Joins the Tacoma 12 and Adelanto 9 in Calling for an End to Human Rights Abuses in Immigrant Detention

Tacoma, WA - On Monday, June 19th, Maru Mora Villalpando, member of the NWDC Resistance, will begin  a hunger strike to call attention to the plight of up to 1,600 immigrants held in detention suffering human rights abuses at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC). On June 15, 2017, at least a dozen detainees went on hunger strike to call attention to inhumane detention conditions, refusing to eat for multiple days. By June 18, NWDC Resistance organizers received reports that more than 25 hunger strikers are calling on GEO Group to provide edible, nutritious food, on ICE to provide fair and timely hearings, and on civil society to step up and take action for the injustices in our communities. In response, Maru Mora Villalpando is going on hunger strike, and is joined by other members of civil society who are stepping up their solidarity.

As hunger strikers on the inside are discussing ceasing their strike on the inside, Maru will keep the hunger strike continuous by holding space on the outside. A female hunger striker in detention said: "I feel more deteriorated every day, more bad, more worse, because of what we are living through and what we are seeing inside. What we are suffering is horrible, horrible. Here they don't care what conditions we are living in… they don't care about anything." To listen to her story, go to: http://bit.ly/2sIyXzZ

GEO Group's human rights abuses are not a case of "bad apples." Just this week, GEO employees have refused to complete basic maintenance, such as repairing a broken air conditioner when projected temperatures are expected to reach 78 degrees. Likewise, people in detention have noted repeated problems with incorrect medications resulting in hospital visits, suicide attempts, and inadequate access to medical treatment -- even in diagnosed cases of malignant cancers.

There are also 9 asylum seekers on hunger strike at the GEO-owned Adelanto Detention Facility in Southern California. Rather than releasing asylum seekers pending their hearing, they were subjected to further trauma -- pepper spray, beating and solitary confinement. The #Adelanto9 continue on hunger strike to call attention to these blatant human rights abuses, meaning that people inside and outside detention centers are on hunger strike throughout the West Coast.

Call to Action: Hunger strikers and solidarity supporters are holding down a 24-7 encampment outside the Northwest Detention Center. Please join them to show people held in detention that they are not alone, and the state of Washington will no longer tolerate human rights abuses!

For live updates on the #Tacoma12 and solidarity hunger strikes, visithttps://www.facebook.com/ NWDCResistance/.


NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group that emerged to fight deportations in 2014 at the now-infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA. NWDC Resistance is part of the #Not1More campaign and supported people detained who organized hunger strikes asking for a halt to all deportations and better treatment and conditions.

Contact: Maru Mora Villalpando, (206) 251 6658, maru@latinoadvocacy.org

#Tacoma12     #Adelanto9     #Not1More      #NoEstánSolos



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.

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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)



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



        Lorenzo has been moved from SCI Mahanoy to Dauphin County Prison in preparation for his upcoming hearing in Harrisburg. Here is his latest message to supporters.

        22 Years Later: Still Chasing Justice

        07/07/2017 01:58 pm ET

        I've been in prison for more than twenty years for a crime I didn't commit. My nightmare began when I was just 20 years old. I was arrested for an unrelated charge that was eventually dismissed. At that moment, I fell into the hands of a corrupt cop and the kidnapping of my life began. Being in a state—Pennsylvania—that was not my own, and with no family here, I was in over my head.

        Never in a million years did I think I would be sentenced to a Natural Life sentence for a crime I never committed. Let me not leave out, I was in my home state of New York when this crime occurred in Pennsylvania. Being illiterate in education and to the law at that time led to me being easy prey for a wrongful conviction. When I didn't agree to lie about someone else and blame this murder on them, I became the target/scapegoat myself.

        I was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. I was identified by a crack abuser, whom I never seen in my life. This witness stated I didn't commit the murder but that I was present when it happened. I was under the impression that when I go to court, they would see they had the wrong person and free me. This was wishful thinking on my part—it never happened.

        This would lead to the criminal justice system failing me twice, and me being subjected to a grave case of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel. To make a long story short, I was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to Natural Life—or, life without parole—for a crime I was innocent of. Upon entering state prison, I quickly enrolled in school and later earned my GED and began taking college courses. At the same time, I began studying the law. That's when for the first time I understood what was done to me.

        Over the years, a couple of underpaid attorneys were appointed to my case—their representation proved to be of little assistance. I would end up representing myself on state and federal appeals. I wrote between 300-500 Innocence Projects, attorneys and other organizations for assistance. My cries went unheard until a mutual attorney friend named William Costopolous introduced me to an attorney named Michael Wiseman. Upon reviewing my case and believing in my innocence, Mr. Wiseman agreed to represent me.

        Since I already filed my appeal pro se in federal Court, Mr. Wiseman amended my appeal and adopted the issues I raised. A couple years later, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals vacated my sentence on October 4, 2011 on the grounds of "insufficient evidence," which bars a retrial. I was released on January 18, 2012 pending the prosecution's last appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

        I returned home to New York and quickly begun to get my life back together: reuniting with my family, meeting the woman who would become my wife, and working. I started speaking about wrongful convictions at colleges and with exonerees I met when I was released. My freedom lasted a mere 148 days. On May 29, 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated my conviction with a per curiam decision. My legal team was not allowed to file briefs or oral argue my case.

        I had to turn myself back into prison on June 14, 2012. I drove from New York with exoneree Jeffrey Deskovic to a Pennsylvania State Prison to once again fight to prove my innocence.

        A year after my return to prison, my legal team concluded their reinvestigation into my case and came up with a treasure trove of evidence of my innocence, from witnesses who were threatened not to come forth to clear me, to witnesses who were forced to change their original statements to make new ones against me. This led to the filing of my current actual innocence appeal. After 18½ years, the prosecution turned over over 100 missing pages from my case discovery that were never turned over to me or any of my prior attorneys.

        Reading this suppressed case discovery, for the first time we found out that the prosecution's main witness had originally been labeled a suspect in this same case. I was also told for 18½ years that this same witness never made a written statement. So for all these years, a police summary had been believed instead.

        In the missing case discovery, lies a ten-page typed statement from this witness. This statement not only clears me, it shows how the prosecution in my case knowingly allowed false testimony to go uncorrected from my preliminary hearing all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, who relied on this testimony to reinstate my conviction.

        The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Senior Judge in Common Pleas Court has Granted me an evidentiary hearing on these claims. It will take place on July 11, 12, and 13, 2017 at 9:00 A.M., in Courtroom No.8 at the Dauphin County Courthouse, 101 Market Street, 5th Floor, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Hopefully, justice will finally be served.

        Lorenzo Johnson served 16 and a half years of a life-without-parole sentence until 2012, when the Third Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled there was legally insufficient evidence for his conviction. He remained free for four months, after which the US Supreme Court unanimously reinstated the conviction and ordered him back to prison to resume the sentence. With the support of The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, he is continuing to fight for his freedom. Though he does not have internet access himself, you can email his campaign, make a donation, or sign his petition and learn more at:http://www.freelorenzojohnson.org/sign-the-petition.html. He is scheduled for a court hearing in July, 2017 to present evidence of innocence and prosecutorial misconduct.

        Free The Innocent, 

        Lorenzo 'Cat' Johnson

        Lorenzo's evidentiary hearing will begin at 8:30 AM on Tuesday, July 11 at Dauphin County Courthouse, Floor 5, Courtroom 8, and will continue for up to three days. For more information, see the Facebook event page

        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)  'Everybody Went Totally Mad': 2nd Night of Violence in Hamburg

        JULY 8, 2017



        HAMBURG, Germany — Tens of thousands of people swarmed into the streets of Hamburg on Saturday for demonstrations against the Group of 20 summit meeting after two consecutive nights of clashes between the police and protesters.

        Organizers of the main march said that about 76,000 people were taking part, and tens of thousands of police officers were mobilized to keep watch over the demonstrations. Holding signs that said "No G20," the marchers hoped to show that a peaceful protest was possible after violence erupted on Thursday and Friday, when some protesters burned cars and smashed shop windows.

        Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces an election in two months, had hoped the demonstrations would show leaders of other G-20 nations where protests are routinely quashed that a thriving democracy can withstand public criticism and dissent.

        Instead, Ms. Merkel had to condemn the violence and explain why the streets of Hamburg, a wealthy port city, at times looked like a war zone.

        "I have full understanding for peaceful protest, but violent demonstrations are a threat to human life," she said on Friday, after the first night of violence. "It is not acceptable."

        Hours later, 1,500 black-clad anarchists rampaged through the streets of the city's Schanzen district, plundering shops and setting fire to cars and trash cans for several hours, the police said. An elite unit of special forces was called in to quell the violence, but only after extensive damage had been done.

        The police said on Saturday that they had arrested 43 people in connection with the violence on Friday night. Ninety-six others remained in detention, pending an investigation. The police also said that 213 officers had been injured. Activists reported multiple injuries among the protesters, at least two of whom were hospitalized.

        Hamburg has a long history of leftist politics, with occasional clashes between anarchists and the police. But the violence on Friday night rose to a level that shocked some longtime residents.

        "What happened last night has nothing to do with legitimate criticism," said Massimo Gugliotta, who was surveying a charred pile of rubble in the Schanzen district early Saturday. "Whoever did this was just using the idea of protest as an excuse for violence."

        Major streets in the city were blocked off to allow delegations of leaders to go to and from meetings. But many Hamburg residents, whose lives had been disrupted by the events, said they hoped to show that legitimate protests could be peaceful, and effective.

        One contingent of about 12,000 people, galvanized by the theme "Solidarity Instead of G20," began gathering early Saturday, the police said. Jan van Aken, a lawmaker with the Left Party, organized the demonstration with several other groups, including the Hamburg Refugee Council, local environmentalists and the Communist Party.

        "Join the masses to send a signal against the G20, against the escalation and against meaningless violence," Mr. van Aken said in a Twitter message. "Come out, now more than ever!"

        In another part of the city, church and community leaders joined local politicians from Hamburg's centrist parties to organize a demonstration that proclaimed "Hamburg Shows Attitude." Several hundred people marched with blue, pink and yellow balloons, while others held signs with messages like "Make Global Trade Fair" and "Stop the Violence."

        Among the protesters was Michael Schmidt, 80, a writer, who had traveled to Hamburg from Munich with his son.

        "We are fed up with the system" perpetuated by the Group of 20, Mr. Schmidt said. He denounced "the unquestioning of the capitalist system, the social irresponsibility and ecological irresponsibility" of the member nations. The Group of 20 comprises 19 industrial and emerging-market countries, plus the European Union.

        Residents of the Schanzen district awoke Saturday to the smell of fire and the sight of shattered storefronts. The police said that about 500 protesters had looted a supermarket and then set it on fire as they retreated.

        Videos posted on social media sites showed the smashed glass of a looted electronics store that sold Apple iPhones and other devices. Another showed masked demonstrators in black clothes plundering a grocery store; in yet another, masked protesters could be seen being chased by masked and heavily armed police officers against a backdrop of flames and smoke.

        The authorities said the protesters were armed with homemade incendiary devices and iron bars. Activists said the authorities had turned water cannons against them more than 20 times on Friday.

        As the evening began in the city's St. Pauli section, about 30 protesters blocked roadways near the main train station with cinder blocks and pieces of a fence.

        Dozens of police vans had to turn around because of the blockade, until about 200 riot police and two trucks arrived. The trucks used water cannons to disperse the protesters, who threw rocks at the vehicles.

        Vanessa Lamm, a Schanzen resident who observed the protests in the district until about 2 a.m., said the police had waited to act until demonstrators began throwing stones and destroying property.

        "Everybody went totally mad after that — the police and the people," Ms. Lamm said. "When they started to destroy the shops, the police went in along with the special forces, who were stronger."

        By morning, residents were cleaning up trash and assessing the situation. Piles of charred bicycles and a refrigerator lay on the sidewalk. Dozens of shop windows — even those that had been taped with "No G20" and other slogans — had been reduced to shards.

        Kristin Litzbarski, an employee at the Oma's Apotheke pub, found that her workplace had been spared.

        "We were lucky, but so many other stores, owned by people I know right next to us, were not," she said. "It looks like a war zone. I'm really angry at people for destroying our home. It's O.K. when people demonstrate, but where does all this aggression come from?"



        2)  The Private Equity Firm That Quietly Profits on Top-Selling Drugs

        JULY 8, 2017


        Cashing in on rising drug prices often unleashes an outcry from consumers and politicians.

        But a little-known private equity investor, Royalty Pharma, has built an unusual investment portfolio valued at $15 billion — it buys up the rights to royalties on future drug sales — while largely avoiding public controversy. By its own count, Royalty Pharma owns partial rights to seven of the 30 top-selling drugs in the United States, including giants like Humira, the arthritis treatment that is the single biggest-selling medication in America. And its deals have been getting larger.

        Outrage over outsize drug-price increases has dogged some pharmaceutical companies. Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price on one anti-infection drug by more than 5,000 percent in 2015, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International adopted a strategy of buying up drug companies and increasing prices. Both companies' chief executives have since resigned. Mylan executives have come under fire after Mylan raised prices on its lifesaving EpiPen injector by 400 percent over seven years.

        While Royalty Pharma has benefited by riding the rising tide of drug prices, the drug companies play the largest role in setting prices. George Lloyd, Royalty Pharma's executive vice president and general counsel, said: "Royalty Pharma has no influence over how drugs in which it invests are priced. These prices are set by the marketer of the product, and we play no role in that process."

        To make big money on promising drugs, investors like venture capital firms and biotechnology funds typically place long-shot bets on drugs that are still in the development stage. Royalty Pharma, based in New York, steps in later in the game: It generally buys rights to the royalties on drugs that have already been approved for sale by regulators. It buys them from patent holders, often hospitals or universities, that want to convert their future royalties into cash right now.

        In addition to Humira, Royalty Pharma has partial rights to sales of Remicade, which is No. 4 in overall drug sales in the United States. Other drugs in its portfolio include Lyrica, which treats pain associated with diabetes, shingles and fibromyalgia, and Januvia, which treats diabetes. In all, the firm owns royalty rights to more than 30 drugs, which typically yield 3 percent to 5 percent of the drugs' total sales revenues.

        Royalty Pharma has successfully created "a new segment of the investment management industry," which has helped offset a decline in other types of funds for drug investments, said Andrew Lo, a finance professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, in a 2014 study written with Sourya Naraharisetti of M.I.T. and Duke University.

        The firm as currently structured is largely the creation of its co-founder Pablo Legorreta, 53, a former Wall Street investment banker from a prominent Mexican family who keeps a low profile. Mr. Legorreta declined to be quoted for this article. The firm is run by a small cadre of staff members in Midtown Manhattan, deploying money from outside investors, including university endowments and wealthy individuals. Royalty Pharma's revenues have risen an average of 30 percent annually, from $161 million in 2005 to $2.47 billion in 2016, according to company material.

        Royalty Pharma has also made big payments to a number of scientists at major universities who helped discover the drugs in question, as well as to their institutions, which share in the royalty rights.

        Among the beneficiaries were three researchers at Emory University, who together in 2005 reaped 40 percent of a $525 million sale of the rights to the anti-H.I.V. drug Emtriva.

        Richard Silverman's work at Northwestern University on the nerve-pain drug Lyrica earned him an amount estimated at more than $100 million when he and Northwestern sold some of the rights in 2007 for $700 million. Dr. Silverman shared the proceeds with colleagues and helped finance a $100 million laboratory center on the campus.

        In recent years, Royalty Pharma's deals have grown larger. In 2014, it agreed to pay $3.3 billion to an affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for rights to the drug Kalydeco and other treatments for cystic fibrosis marketed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Last year, Royalty Pharma paid $1.14 billion to the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-owners of the rights to Xtandi, which treats advanced prostate cancer. This year, it agreed to pay up to $2.85 billion to Perrigo for rights to the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri.

        Royalty Pharma had tried in 2013 to acquire rights to Tysabri with an audacious but unsuccessful $8 billion hostile takeover bid for Elan Corporation. Elan, an Irish company whose stock had fallen after an Alzheimer's treatment failed in trials, sold itself to Perrigo a few months after Royalty Pharma dropped its bid.

        While Mr. Legorreta was still a mergers banker at Lazard Frères in the early 1990s, he spotted a 1987 investment by wealthy clients of PaineWebber in rights to a chemotherapy drug. It opened his eyes to the amount of royalties held by potential sellers. He left Lazard in 1996 and, with the former PaineWebber banker Rory Riggs, raised $60 million to start what became Royalty Pharma.

        After assembling a diversified royalty portfolio — including the popular anticancer drug Rituxan, which helped triple the value of early investments — Mr. Legorreta raised $190 million in debt in 2003. As Royalty Pharma's investment fund has grown, the annual revenue growth rate has slowed to a still-heady 17 percent for the past five years.

        Royalty Pharma's use of low-cost debt financing helped the fund outbid competitors, said Neil Kumar, chief executive of BridgeBio Pharma, a start-up with backing from the private-equity giant K.K.R. that aims to discover and develop drugs for genetic diseases. "Pablo won the arms race for a lower cost of capital," Mr. Kumar said.

        While it is pharmaceutical companies that generally set drug prices, some of the drugs in which Royalty Pharma owns royalty rights have been criticized for their high prices.

        Last year, Democratic lawmakers, led by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, called on the National Institutes of Health to override the patent on Xtandi because the drug was being sold wholesale for $129,000 a year in the United States, triple the price in Japan, Sweden and Canada. Mr. Sanders also criticized the high prices for Humira. The cystic fibrosis drug Kalydeco costs $311,000 a year.

        A March report by Moody's Investors Service noted that Royalty Pharma's portfolio "has benefited from high price increases in the U.S. pharmaceutical market" and could be "adversely affected if the environment for U.S. pricing dramatically changes or if new legislation is passed that targets U.S. drug pricing."

        Royalty Pharma's top three drugs have had average annual price increases of 15.7 percent over the past three years, according to Elsevier's Gold Standard Drug Database. That number is slightly above the average of 14.4 percent for branded drugs tracked by the Truveris drug index.

        Royalty holders who sell to Royalty Pharma are like lottery winners who choose the upfront cash option over future annual payouts. The sellers accept a discount to the cash expected to roll in over the 20-year patent life, in part reflecting the built-in uncertainty of future drug sales, but can use the upfront dollars to diversify their investments or for capital projects.

        Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, for example, used part of its $400 million proceeds from sales in 2004 and 2005 of rights to two drugs used in cancer chemotherapy to build a $500 million research center.

        Eugene Sunshine, former senior vice president for business and finance at Northwestern, said the university took a discount of roughly 10 percent to estimated future sales of Lyrica and hedged its bets by selling only a little over half of its rights initially. Proceeds were used for undergraduate financial aid, graduate fellowships and research.

        In the case of Humira, the top-selling drug that was released in 2003, Royalty Pharma paid $700 million for a royalty interest of less than 3 percent, which helped the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca finance a $1.3 billion purchase in 2006 of the drug developer Cambridge Antibody Technology.

        One reason Mr. Legorreta won the financing arms race was that he kept all his investments in one "evergreen" fund, unlike most private equity firms, which raise new funds every few years, according to bankers and investors.

        "They just kept putting everything in one ever-increasing pool whose growing size and diversification helped lower its borrowing costs," said Lionel Leventhal, who ran similar funds at Paul Capital for 15 years starting in 1999. Mr. Leventhal estimates there are more than 15 competing drug royalty funds that together manage about as much as Royalty Pharma alone.

        Royalty Pharma has financed the growth of its assets by raising more money from investors and from debt. It raised $1.1 billion in equity in 2015, and recently increased its debt level to fund the Perrigo deal by refinancing $3.4 billion in debt with a new $4.5 billion loan, the report by Moody's said. Investors, however, may sometimes face waiting periods of several years to cash in and exit the fund.

        As the deal sizes have grown, so have the risks. While Moody's lauded Royalty Pharma's "strong product portfolio" and "excellent track record," it also warned of its "moderately high" debt level and an approaching revenue "cliff" in the scheduled expiration in 2018 of royalties on "several major products," including Humira, Remicade and the multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera.

        In recent years, Royalty Pharma has diversified its sources of financing. In addition to the recent $4.5 billion loan led by Bank of America, a Royalty Pharma affiliate, BioPharma Credit, raised $762 million in an initial public offering in March on the London Stock Exchange.

        Royalty Pharma has also taken greater risk by occasionally funding late-stage drug trials before they win regulatory approval. It has invested $1 billion for trials for drugs including Soliqua, a new Sanofi diabetes drug approved for sale last year, and possible new uses for Ibrance, a Pfizer drug for advanced breast cancer. And it has invested in Avillion, a company that helps drug companies with testing and regulatory approval.



        3)  Tw0 Asian-American Actors Leave 'Hawaii Five-0' Amid Reports of Unequal Pay

        JULY 6, 2017


        CBS has been on the defensive this week as it deals with a simmering controversy surrounding the departures of two Asian-American actors from its police procedural show "Hawaii Five-0."

        The two stars, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, decided to leave the show after they were unable to agree to terms on new contracts — prompting speculation that they left because they would not be earning as much as their white co-stars.

        On Thursday, for the second time in less than 24 hours, CBS and producers of the show were saying that they did everything they could to keep them. Peter M. Lenkov, an executive producer of "Hawaii Five-0," said that CBS "was extremely generous and proactive in their renegotiation talks."

        "So much so, the actors were getting unprecedented raises, but in the end they chose to move on," he said in a statement.

        A swell of criticism of CBS grew on Wednesday after Mr. Kim wrote in a Facebook post that he had made a "difficult decision" to walk out of negotiations and leave the show after seven seasons.

        Mr. Kim stopped short of saying that unequal pay had been the reason for his departure, but he suggested as much in the post, writing, "The path to equality is rarely easy."

        In a statement shortly afterward, CBS said that both cast members "have been important and valued members" of the show and said that they had been offered hefty raises.

        "We did not want to lose them and tried very hard to keep them with offers for large and significant salary increases," the network said. "While we could not reach an agreement, we part ways with tremendous respect for their talents on screen, as well as their roles as ambassadors for the show off screen, and with hopes to work with them again in the near future."

        A representative for Mr. Kim and Ms. Park declined to comment.

        The departures have some advocacy groups crying foul, citing longstanding difficulties for Asian-American actors, who say they often have trouble finding steady work or commanding salaries equal to those of their white counterparts.

        "Unfortunately, the racial hierarchy established in the original 1968-1980 series remained intact in the 2010 reboot: Two white stars on top, two Asian/Pacific Islander stars on bottom," said Guy Aoki, the founding president of the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans, who also criticized the network for not including more actors of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in the show's cast.

        George Takei, an actor of Japanese descent who has made appearances on both the revived "Hawaii Five-0" and the original series, noted that Hawaii is home to a large Asian-American population and called CBS's inability to get a deal done with the two actors "sad."

        "It's very unfortunate that CBS couldn't recognize their value to the show that's set in Hawaii," he said in a telephone interview.

        Other Asian-American performers said that Mr. Kim and Ms. Park's departures would give visibility to diversity and equal pay issues in Hollywood.

        The "Fresh Off the Boat" actress Constance Wu wrote on Twitter, "Know ur worth, ur value... & don't be afraid to stand up for it." Ally Maki, an actress who stars on TBS's "Wrecked," tweeted, "It's time to stop being silent. This is a great start."

        CBS has faced criticism over a lack of racial diversity in its shows in recent years. In 2016, the network came under fire for promoting a slate of new shows starring white men, including Kevin James in "Kevin Can Wait" and Matt LeBlanc in "Man With a Plan." In October, CBS announced that it was creating a program to increase diversity in its casting.



        4)  23 Arrested and Tear Gas Deployed After a K.K.K. Rally in Virginia

        JULY 8, 2017




        CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied here on Saturday afternoon in a protest meant to assail the city's decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general.

        For about a half-hour, around 50 members of the Klan — some wearing hooded white robes — shouted "white power" at Justice Park as more than 1,000 people protested their presence by hurling insults, water bottles and apple cores.

        By about 4:25 p.m., the Klan members, who said they came from North Carolina, began to leave and return to their cars. It was then when the trouble intensified.

        City officials said a large group of counterprotesters followed the Klan members back to their vehicles and stopped them from leaving. Asked to step aside, the counterprotesters refused, a city spokeswoman said. The police declared an unlawful assembly, and officers began moving the protesters back so the Klan members could leave.

        As the police returned to Justice Park, though, the crowd followed, and "there were a number of incidents, including the use of pepper spray by the crowd," Miriam Dickler, a city spokeswoman, said in a statement.

        At one point, the police again ordered the crowd to disperse, but the protesters remained entrenched. Ms. Dickler said the Virginia State Police then released three canisters of tear gas.

        "The crowd immediately dispersed," she said.

        Over the course of the day, Ms. Dickler said that at least 23 people had been arrested, and that at least three people had been taken to a hospital — two for "heat-related issues" and one for an "alcohol-related issue."

        In an email, Ms. Dickler said she could not "speak to the affiliations" of those who were arrested.

        The rally, and the response to it, put the city on edge, and upset some residents who had hoped the event would end without any problems.

        "We were just standing there, peaceful, on the sidewalk," said Candice Maupin, a city resident and one of the counterprotesters. "We heard this boom, and then this green smoke, and our eyes started burning."

        City officials and church leaders had asked residents to stay away from the rally. Concerts and other events were planned to encourage residents to spend the day elsewhere.

        "It's become a game," said Bob Fenwick, a city councilman.

        Indeed, Charlottesville has become a flash point in a debate about how cities across the South should reconcile themselves with their past and, specifically, with the Civil War.

        The Charlottesville City Council voted narrowly in April to sell the statue of Lee. But in May, a circuit court judge in the city issued a six-month injunction to halt the removal of the statue after a collection of individuals and groups — including the Virginia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans — filed a lawsuit against the city.

        Demonstrators led by Richard B. Spencer, a noted white supremacist, marched here in May to protest the city's plan to remove the statue. Mr. Spencer posted pictures and videos from the gathering that showed demonstrators holding Confederate battle flags and a banner proclaiming, "We will not be replaced."

        "People should be able to respect our heritage," said Amanda Barker, who identified herself on Saturday as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. She added that she was underwhelmed by the number of people who had turned out to oppose the rally.

        Counterprotesters, who chanted "go home," "black lives matter" and a variety of profanity-laced insults, said it was important for them to confront the Klan because simply ignoring white-supremacist viewpoints could allow such views to proliferate.

        Ms. Dickler, the city spokeswoman, said another rally by white nationalists has been planned for Aug. 12.



        5)  Ladders Came Up Short, and Cost Lives, in London Blaze, Firefighters Say

        JULY 8, 2017




        LONDON — More lives could have been saved in the Grenfell Tower blaze in London that killed at least 80 people, firefighters say, but a lack of equipment, particularly fire engines with ladders high enough to reach the top floors of the 24-story building, impeded the rescue effort.

        "We just think it's almost criminal that an international city like London, the 13th-richest in the world, and our highest ladder only goes up 30 meters, where some third world countries have 90-meter ladders," said Lucy Masoud, a London firefighter and an official with the Fire Brigades Union.

        The London Fire Brigade's 30-meter ladder (about 100 feet) reached only to the building's 10th floor, and was not called to the scene until nearly half an hour after other units when the blaze broke out in June, Ms. Masoud said on Saturday.

        The delay in sending a high-ladder truck to the Grenfell fire meant that firefighters could not get above the flames racing up the building in order to pour water down on them. Firefighters rescued 65 people from the blaze, but at least 80 more people died. The delay was reported by the BBC program "Newsnight" late Friday night.

        Not sending a high ladder was standard procedure for the first response to a fire in a tower block, according to a spokeswoman for the London Fire Brigade. She said that firefighters responding to a high-rise blaze usually focused on rescues from within the building, and that the initial firefighting plan was an internal attack on the flames.

        The delay in calling a fire engine with a high ladder, known as an aerial or aerial appliance in Britain, occurred because the blaze had been reported as having originated from a refrigerator on the fourth floor of the building, and firefighters who responded to that apartment thought they had the fire under control. They were unaware that flames were climbing the exterior cladding of the building, which many experts have said was not fireproof.

        The "Newsnight" program said it had obtained an "incident mobilization list," apparently an internal London Fire Brigade document, showing that a 100-foot aerial unit was not called out until 1:19 a.m. on June 14 — 25 minutes after the first fire trucks were dispatched at 12:54 a.m. — and the ladder truck did not arrive until 1:32 a.m.

        London's firefighters do not have the tallest aerial fire engines in Britain, and had to get one from suburban Surrey County. At a reported 217 feet high, that firetruck's ladders reached just below the top of Grenfell Tower. But it did not arrive until several hours after the fire had started. (In other countries, high-ladder trucks reach more than 300 feet.)

        Firefighters were angry about that and other failings, which they believed contributed to the Grenfell disaster, said Ms. Masoud, the treasurer of the firefighters' union. She also blamed firefighting budget cutbacks of 130 million pounds in recent years for the lack of adequate equipment.

        "We have absolutely always said that the resources we have in London are not as serious as they could be," she said. Firefighters have long been asking for more and higher ladder trucks, which she said could have been a "game changer" at Grenfell.

        "Undoubtedly, we'd have been able to save more lives," Ms. Masoud said. "We've been arguing this for years."

        The firefighters' union said that since 2010, 11,000 front-line firefighters' jobs had been eliminated — almost a fifth of the entire work force — and in a recent letter to Parliament, it asked that the union be included in the investigation of what went wrong at Grenfell.

        "Cuts have stripped the fire-and-rescue service of vital assets including fire stations, pumps and the high rise aerial appliances that are essential for resilience at large scale, protracted incidents," the Fire Brigades Union said in the letter.

        Matt Wrack, the union's general secretary, called the Grenfell fire "a really big turning point" in fire-safety awareness.

        "The best tribute we can make to the people who have lost their lives is to make sure it doesn't happen again," Mr. Wrack said, speaking in a video posted on the union's website. "We've had years of deregulation, local authority building control deregulation, cutting back fire-safety departments, allowing developers to almost do whatever they want."

        He added that in the West London area, home to Grenfell Tower, "we've seen a 50 percent reduction in fire cover."

        Mr. Wrack, in a telephone interview, said he welcomed the fire brigade's plans to have high ladder trucks standing by routinely at future high rise fires, even if they were not always needed.

        "If they can be there in 10 minutes rather than half an hour, that is worth doing," he said. The bigger problem, though, was cost cutting across the board in fire protection services, he said. "A firefighter who was heavily involved in management levels of the incident told me that a quicker response from fire stations now closed, and fire engines now eliminated, would have enabled them to get people out at earlier stages."

        Dany Cotton, the London Fire Brigade commissioner, has said that London previously had fewer high-ladder trucks because of the difficulty in maneuvering large vehicles on the city's often-narrow streets, but that newer models were more maneuverable and the city had been in the process of upgrading its fleet.

        The spokeswoman confirmed that the London Fire Brigade had changed its procedures on June 22 so that a high-ladder truck would be among the first vehicles sent to a high-rise fire. In the future, instead of four fire engines being sent immediately, six will be sent, including one aerial appliance.

        The interim change, she said, "was in direct response to the government's action to address concerns of cladding on buildings." Prime Minister Theresa May's government on June 27 ordered a national inquiry after 100 percent of cladding on 95 buildings tested across Britain failed fire-safety tests.

        Many survivors of the Grenfell blaze have been critical that the fire brigade did not deploy more high-tech equipment at the site of its worst blaze since World War II.

        "Why didn't they use a helicopter to spray water at the flame?" asked Yassin Adam, 44, who escaped from the fourth floor with his wife, daughter and pregnant sister.

        "They tried to focus on the lower floors, but what about the higher floors?" said Abu Bakr, whose relative Hassan Ibrahim lost his wife and two daughters from the 23rd floor. "Why didn't they call the fire plane?"



        6) Where Women's Empowerment Means Deadlifting 300 Pounds

        "The playlist was more Beyoncé than Black Sabbath at the Lift for Planned Parenthood, the first female and nonbinary powerlifting competition organized by the Women's Strength Coalition, a new weight lifting group that combines feats of strength and political activism."

        There is nothing quite like watching a five-foot-tall woman in rhinestones deadlift more than twice her body weight and then celebrate with a high kick. While spectators cheered her on, an announcer shouted, "She smashed the patriarchy with that lift!"

        The playlist was more Beyoncé than Black Sabbath at the Lift for Planned Parenthood, the first female and nonbinary powerlifting competition organized by the Women's Strength Coalition, a new weight lifting group that combines feats of strength and political activism. The event, which took place on April 23 at the Brooklyn Athletic Club in Williamsburg, had 35 participants and about 150 spectators.

        Many lifters replaced the traditional singlet with whatever outfit made them feel most comfortable. Children zipped through the crowd on scooters. One woman triumphantly hoisted her giggling son into the air after a nearly 300-pound dead lift.

        Shannon Wagner, 31, the founder of the coalition, describes her relationship with powerlifting, a sport where competitors deadlift, squat and bench-press as much weight as possible, as a "revelatory experience." After years of battling eating disorders, she stumbled across the sport in 2014 and taught herself to lift. "Once I realized what it was like to focus on getting strong versus getting thin," she said, "it really helped heal me."

        Ms. Wagner, who became a strength and conditioning specialist, said she decided to share this knowledge with others on a larger scale while participating in the Women's March on Washington in January. As she walked, she brainstormed about what more she could do to work through her feelings of powerlessness after the presidential election. And then it dawned on her: It was finally time to start the organization she had been thinking about for a while, one that would embolden women and make them stronger, literally.

        "Protesting didn't feel like enough," Ms. Wagner said. "I wanted action rather than reaction. I wanted to create a powerlifting charity that could really help women."

        Two months after creating the coalition, Ms. Wagner organized its first official fund-raising event in Williamsburg: the Lift for Planned Parenthood. She was shocked at the response. Registration sold out in six days, and the event was flooded with first-time competitors vowing to raise a dollar for every pound lifted. Volunteers lined up to help. In the end, Ms. Wagner was able to donate nearly $15,000 to the national nonprofit.

        One of the first-time competitors, Sayeeda Chowdhury, 22, had only recently started to lift weights. "Being a Muslim woman," she said, "the election cycle was one of the worst things, and dealing with that while going through medical school at Mount Sinai was just another level of tension and trauma."

        Ms. Chowdhury said she had been in desperate need of a confidence boost when a friend offered to train her in powerlifting and mentioned the Women's Strength Coalition. Ms. Chowdhury signed up immediately. And she progressed rapidly.

        "I'm a 5-foot-1-inch woman who wears a hijab," she said. "It's not the easiest place to be in the gym. It's a testosterone-filled room with everyone benching really heavy weights."

        "After a while," she added, "I learned to take up my own space and I started lifting more than they were."

        While wearing a vibrant red hijab at the Lift for Planned Parenthood, Ms. Chowdhury skillfully completed all of her lifts. "Lifting gives you that confidence to take over a room," she said. "I have a narrative, I have a voice I have a unique story to tell and I'm not as afraid to tell it anymore."

        Last month, the coalition held an event called Pull for Pride at the Murder of Crows Barbell Club in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, with sister events in Minneapolis, Washington and San Francisco. The four dead-lift-only competitions raised over $30,000 for vulnerable lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. "There were no judgments and plenty of high fives and rainbow flags," said Katie Zanin, 28, a participant in the Brooklyn competition.

        The next event, an Adult Field Day on Sept. 10 at McCarren Park in Brooklyn, will raise money for Rise Youth Athletics, a nonprofit that provides fitness instruction to children.

        Lifting, Ms. Wagner said, "takes a certain amount of tenacity and perseverance to add weight to the bar and to fight for each pound."

        "These women know what it's like to try and to try and they're not afraid of failure," she added. "That perseverance translates over into other areas of life."

        Lara Hogan, 31, an engineering director at Etsy, has spent her whole career "in rooms full of dudes." But when she started powerlifting a year and a half ago, it shifted how she felt at work. "There's something about feeling physically strong in an intimidating room or a room where you're unsure," she said.

        A few weeks before competing, Ms. Hogan was in a challenging executive meeting. "I felt out of my league," she recalled. At one point a heavy whiteboard needed lifting onto a stage. A man at the meeting who she said trained in CrossFit was singled out to help, but he couldn't lift the board on his own. He asked Ms. Hogan to assist him. The two of them moved it.

        "That changed the whole dynamic of the room," said Ms. Hogan, who added that it changed her experience of the meeting as well. "Because I felt physically strong, I was able to power through it. I was able to look and feel like a leader. I was actually able to act that way too."



        7)  Spyware Sold to Mexican Government Targeted International Officials

        Leer en español 
        JULY 10, 2017

        MEXICO CITY — A team of international investigators brought to Mexico to unravel one of the nation's gravest human rights atrocities was targeted with sophisticated surveillance technology sold to the Mexican government to spy on criminals and terrorists.

        The spying took place during what the investigators call a broad campaign of harassment and interference that prevented them from solving the haunting case of 43 students who disappeared after clashing with the police nearly three years ago.

        Appointed by an international commission that polices human rights in the Americas, the investigators say they were quickly met with stonewalling by the Mexican government, a refusal to turn over documents or grant vital interviews, and even a retaliatory criminal investigation.

        Now, forensic evidence shows that the international investigators were being targeted by advanced surveillance technology as well.

        The main contact person for the group of investigators received text messages laced with spyware known as Pegasus, a cyberweapon that the government of Mexico spent tens of millions of dollars to acquire, according to an independent analysis. The coordinator's phone was used by nearly all members of the group, often serving as a nexus of communication among the investigators, their sources, the international commission that appointed them and the Mexican government.

        Beyond that, the investigators say they received identical text messages on their own phones, too, luring them to click on links that secretly unlock a target's smartphone and turn it into a powerful surveillance device. Calls, emails, text messages, calendars and contacts can all be monitored that way. Encrypted messages become worthless. Even the microphone and camera on a smartphone can be used against its owner.

        The effort to spy on international officials adds to a sweeping espionage offensive in Mexico, where some of the country's most prominent journalists, human rights lawyers and anticorruption activists have been the targets of the same surveillance technology. But the new evidence shows that the spying campaign went beyond the nation's domestic critics.

        It also swept up international officials who had been granted a status akin to diplomatic immunity as well as unprecedented access to investigate a case that has come to define the nation's broken rule of law — and the legacy of its president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

        Surveillance under Mexican law can be conducted only with the authorization of a federal judge, and only if the government can show cause to do so. But the kind of diplomatic immunity the investigators received meant that it was extremely unlikely that a federal judge would have been allowed to sign off on such a warrant, the investigators said.

        "You are not just hacking anyone's phone, you are hacking the phone of someone who has been granted immunity," said Francisco Cox, one of the investigators and a prominent Chilean lawyer. "They couldn't even search my bags in the airport."

        "If this can happen to an independent body that has immunity and that is invited by the government, it is a bit scary to think of what could happen to a common citizen in Mexico," he said.

        Since 2011, Mexico has purchased at least $80 million worth of the spyware, which is sold exclusively to governments, and only on the condition that it be used against terrorists and criminals. But an investigation by The New York Times and forensic cyberanalysts in recent weeks determined that the software had been used against some of the country's most influential academics, lawyers, journalists and their family members, including a teenage boy.

        The government has denied responsibility for the espionage, adding that there is no ironclad proof because the spyware does not leave behind the hacker's individual fingerprints. It has promised a thorough investigation, vowing to call on specialists from the United Nations and the F.B.I. for help. One of the surveillance targets, the forensic analysis showed, was a United States lawyer representing victims of sexual assault by the Mexican police.

        But the United States ambassador to Mexico, Roberta S. Jacobson, said the United States was not involved in the investigation. Opposition lawmakers and international officials are now calling for an independent inquiry into the spying scandal, declaring Mexico unfit to investigate itself.

        "This case just on its face — and presuming the veracity of the allegations — is serious enough to warrant the creation of an international commission," said James L. Cavallaro, a commissioner on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which appointed the group of experts. "The commission shares the concerns of others: How can the government be trusted to investigate its own alleged violation of citizen rights given its track record in this matter?"

        Another commissioner, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, backed the idea of an independent inquiry. "This investigation should find both the material and intellectual authors of the alleged spying," she said.

        Top officials from the nation's main opposition party have come forward to say that they, too, have been targeted, raising the pressure on the government. The head of the National Action Party, Ricardo Anaya, says his party is pushing for a congressional committee to conduct its own inquiry and will also formally demand an international investigation into the spying.

        "The grand tragedy of Mexico is impunity. Horrible things occur, and nothing happens," he said. "This time, we will not let that happen."

        The disappearance of the students in September 2014 ignited an enormous outcry in Mexico. Hundreds of thousands poured into the streets to protest a case that, to many, represented all that afflicts Mexico, a nation where about 30,000 people have disappeared and more than 100,000 have been killed in the decade-long churn of the drug war.

        The anger also focused on Mr. Peña Nieto, whose determination to change the narrative of his country from one of desperate violence to economic promise was suddenly, and permanently, upended. The outrage has been matched only by the disbelief that, almost three years later, nearly all of the 43 students are still missing. The remains of one have been discovered. Fragments of another may also have been identified. The rest of the students, whether dead or alive, have not been found.

        Many Mexicans believed that their best chance of finding out what really happened to the students lay with the international investigators, who were appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a regional body based in Washington that monitors countries and can refer cases to court. But the investigators said the government essentially obstructed their inquiry and then cast them out by refusing to extend their mandate — evidence, they said, that the government simply did not want the case solved.

        Still, it is hard to prove who ordered the spying. Even the manufacturer of the spyware, an Israeli cyberarms manufacturer called the NSO Group, says it cannot determine who, precisely, is behind specific hacking attempts using its technology.

        But the company says that it sells its surveillance tools only to governments, and that stringent safeguards prevent them from being used by anyone outside of the government agencies that purchase the technology.

        Moreover, once a person's phone is targeted, researchers can verify that the spyware has been deployed by examining the text message to determine whether it points to a server running NSO's technology. They have confirmed at least 19 cases in Mexico involving human rights lawyers, anticorruption activists, journalists and, now, international officials.

        "Citizen Lab and our partners are finding people targeted with NSO spyware almost wherever we look in Mexico," said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, which has worked with the digital rights group R3D in Mexico to identify the spyware on the phones of targeted activists and officials.

        "I have never seen anything that matches the scale and scope of this case," he said of the surveillance campaign in Mexico.

        Hacking attempts disguised as text messages appeared on the cellphone of the executive secretary for the investigators, the point person for all contacts with the group, on March 1 and 4, 2016, the forensic analysis found. Around the same time, lawyers for Centro Prodh, a human rights group looking into the mass disappearance of the students, were also being targeted by the software.

        "The Mexican government implored the commission to create this expert group, and then when their investigation did not ratify the official version, things changed," said Mr. Cavallaro, who was the president of the Inter-American Commission at the time of the hacking attempts. "If it's true that the government spied or tried to spy on our experts, that would be an outrage of historic proportions."

        The investigators sent a private letter to the Inter-American Commission late last month, detailing their suspicions after The Times published an article about the hacking campaign. They said some of their phones had also been subject to suspicious messages.

        One message, sent to one of the investigators in March, was from someone posing as a close friend whose father had died. A link was attached with the details of the funeral. When the link was opened, the website of a well-known funeral home in Mexico popped up. A similar message, with the same link, was also sent last year to an academic trying to impose a sugar tax in Mexico. In that case, the message was confirmed as Pegasus.

        During the hacking attempts on the investigators, the group was in the throes of a crisis. The investigators had just complained publicly of being harassed, and they were less than two months from publishing their final report, which rejected the government's version of what happened to the students.

        The mystery began on Sept. 26, 2014, when about 100 students from a teachers' college in the town of Ayotzinapa struck out to commandeer some buses. As they had in years past, the students planned to take the buses to Mexico City to attend a commemorative march and then return them, a tradition both the bus companies and the authorities typically tolerated.

        But that night soon turned into an ominous chapter in Mexico's modern history. The police fired mercilessly on the students and the buses transporting them, leaving six dead and scores wounded. The police emptied two buses of students, detained them and whisked them away in patrol cars.

        The government maintains that local police officers, along with the drug gang they worked for, kidnapped the students, killed them and incinerated their bodies in a nearby dump.

        The government version, however, never offered a clear motive for the attack on the students, and Mexicans pushed for an international inquiry. Eventually, the government agreed, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights appointed a five-member team of prominent prosecutors and rights activists from across the Spanish-speaking world.

        When the investigators arrived in Mexico, after months of local protests over the disappearances, it was an exceptional moment: a reclusive government opening itself up to external scrutiny.

        But within a few months, the relationship between the government and the investigators began to sour. In its first report, the investigators contradicted a central tenet of the government's version, saying it could find no evidence of a fire big enough to burn 43 bodies, nor any remnants or bone fragments that matched those of the missing.

        The acrimony came quickly. Pro-government newspapers began attacking the group, and the Mexican government opened a criminal investigation against the executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission, based on unsubstantiated claims about the misuse of funds.

        "We always worked in good faith, and we went with open eyes and an open mind, only going where the facts led us," said Mr. Cox, one of the investigators. "Our purpose was to contribute to the rule of law in Mexico."



        8)  Long After Protests, Students Shun the University of Missouri

        JULY 9, 2017




        COLUMBIA, Mo. — In the fall of 2015, a grassy quadrangle at the center of the University of Missouri became known nationwide as the command center of an escalating protest.

        Students complaining of official inaction in the face of racial bigotry joined forces with a graduate student on a hunger strike. Within weeks, with the aid of the football team, they had forced the university system president and the campus chancellor to resign.

        It was a moment of triumph for the protesting students. But it has been a disaster for the university.

        Freshman enrollment at the Columbia campus, the system's flagship, has fallen by more than 35 percent in the two years since.

        The university administration acknowledges that the main reason is a backlash from the events of 2015, as the campus has been shunned by students and families put off by, depending on their viewpoint, a culture of racism or one where protesters run amok.

        Before the protests, the university, fondly known as Mizzou, was experiencing steady growth and building new dormitories. Now, with budget cuts due to lost tuition and a decline in state funding, the university is temporarily closing seven dormitories and cutting more than 400 positions, including those of some nontenured faculty members, through layoffs and by leaving open jobs unfilled.

        Few areas have been spared: The library is even begging for books.

        "The general consensus was that it was because of the aftermath of what happened in November 2015," said Mun Choi, the new system president, referring to the climax of the demonstrations. "There were students from both in state and out of state that just did not apply, or those who did apply but decided not to attend."

        The protests inspired movements at other colleges. Since then fights over overt and subconscious racial slights, as well as battles over free speech, have broken out at Middlebury College in Vermont, the University of California, Berkeley, and The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. Missouri's experience shows how a conflict, if not deftly handled, can stain a college's reputation long after the conflict has died down.

        Students of all races have shunned Missouri, but the drop in freshman enrollment last fall was strikingly higher among blacks, at 42 percent, than among whites, at 21 percent. (A racial breakdown was not yet available for this fall's freshman class.)

        Black students were already a small minority. They made up 10 percent of the freshman class in 2012, a proportion that fell to just 6 percent last fall.

        Whitney Matewe, a black student from McKinney, Tex., who will be a senior in the fall, said that after the protests, her parents asked if she wanted to transfer, but she decided to stay because she is in Missouri's prestigious journalism school.

        But, she said, she understands why black students might not apply to a campus where they are all but invisible. A friend's boyfriend obliviously told her she looked like Aunt Jemima, and she was dismayed that her friend did not object.

        "Being 'the other' in every classroom and every situation is exhausting," she said.

        By sheer numbers, the drop in white students has caused the greatest damage, since they make up a majority of those on campus.

        Tyler Morris, a white student from St. Louis, said he was afraid of being stereotyped as a bigot if he went to Missouri. So he decided to go to Missouri Valley College, "just down the road" in Marshall.

        "The discrimination wasn't against white people, but I didn't want to be that person who I guess was stereotyped because I was white," he said.

        College counselors said that Missouri might have a hard time recovering from protests because its reputation was largely regional. "Why would a student from New Jersey go to the University of Missouri instead of Rutgers or Penn State?" said Steven Roy Goodman, an independent college admissions counselor in Washington.

        Even in-state students for whom Mizzou is a family tradition are choosing to go elsewhere, including public universities in neighboring states, like Illinois and Arkansas, which offer preferential tuition or scholarships to Missouri students.

        Aly Zuhler's mother and cousins went to Missouri, and her mother would have liked for her to go there as well, she said. But Ms. Zuhler, who is Jewish and grew up in suburban St. Louis, said she could not stomach going to a place where blacks and Jews might feel unwelcome.

        When she heard that a swastika had been smeared in feces on a dormitory bathroom at Missouri, she decided not to apply. She enrolled instead at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., where she will be a sophomore this coming year. "Looking for colleges is intimidating just by itself," she said. "Adding anti-Semitism on top of that was just too much."

        A plant sciences professor, Craig Roberts, said that Missouri was suffering not because it was more racist than other places, but because the rage that had been repressed on other campuses burst into the open.

        "It was sparked at Mizzou by Ferguson," Mr. Roberts said.

        Ferguson, Mo., of course, is where the killing of an unarmed young black man, Michael Brown, by a police officer in 2014 became a national symbol of tension between the police and minority communities. Ferguson, just a two-hour drive away, was still a fresh memory in September 2015, when Payton Head, the student association president, posted on Facebook that people riding in the back of a pickup truck had continuously screamed racial slurs at him.

        The post went viral and the outcry escalated through what has become known in the protest world as "intersectionality," grievances that gain potency by being bundled together. There were demonstrations against racism, and to support Planned Parenthood, which was under attack by state lawmakers.

        Days later a drunken white student jumped onstage during a rehearsal by an African-American group and used a racial slur.

        This was followed by the failure of the university president, Timothy M. Wolfe, to get out of his car to speak with demonstrators during the homecoming parade in October, drawing accusations of indifference. Then the swastika appeared.

        A movement, Concerned Student 1950, commemorating the year the first black student was admitted to the university, grew out of the protests and set up a tent city. On Nov. 2, a graduate student, Jonathan Butler, began a hunger strike, spurred by the complaints of racial animosity and official inaction, as well as a cut in graduate student health care funding.

        Over the weekend of Nov. 7, the football team, led by its black players, said it would not practice or play unless Mr. Wolfe resigned. It was the last straw. On Nov. 9, Mr. Wolfe resigned as system president, and the chancellor of the Columbia campus, R. Bowen Loftin, also announced he was stepping down. Mr. Butler ended his hunger strike.

        As the protests continued to boil, demonstrators tried to block the news media from the encampment, and Melissa Click, a communications professor, called for "some muscle" to oust a student taking a video of the confrontation.

        In the minds of many, her outburst and the resignations became symbols of a hair-trigger protest culture lacking any adult control.

        The university received a barrage of emails from alumni and families, some of which were published by National Review and Heat Street, a conservative news site.

        In one, the parents of a junior wrote that while they did not underestimate the extent of bigotry in the world, "the way to effect change is NOT by resorting to the type of mob rule that's become apparent over the past few days."

        The university, they added, had shown a "complete lack of leadership," and their two younger children had "all but eliminated Mizzou from their college list."

        The email was forwarded to Ellen de Graffenreid, vice chancellor for marketing and communications, with a brief note saying, "I'm sure you already know this but you have a P.R. nightmare on your hands." Ms. de Graffenreid, in turn, forwarded it to other administrators with a note saying, "This is pretty representative of the middle of the road people we are losing."

        While freshman enrollment has plummeted, students already at Missouri have not transferred out in large numbers — a sign, administrators said, that the protests looked worse from the outside. Christian Basi, a spokesman, said the university was formulating a marketing campaign to correct what he called "misperceptions" about the extent of the unrest.

        Missouri also has appointed a chief diversity officer; promised to double the percentage of minority faculty members by 2020 and recruit more minority postdoctoral fellows; and is requiring diversity training for faculty and staff members and incoming students.

        The tent city has been restored to a well-manicured emerald field of grass, but all around campus, signs of the university's suffering are evident.

        The library is asking for donations to buy 400 books that it wants, including a $5,250 copy of "Complete and Truly Outstanding Works by Homer."

        To soften the financial blow, some vacant dorm rooms — spartan suites of two rooms of two single beds, sharing a bathroom and with no TV, are being rented for $120 a night for events like homecoming, the fall family visit and the football game against Auburn University, a Southern rival.

        For the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, Columbia is lucky to be one of the prime viewing locations where the sun will be completely obscured by the moon. As of early July, 35 rooms were still available for the event.

        Some faculty members are still hoping that the situation can be turned around.

        "I think we squandered a rare opportunity that we had to be a local, regional, national, global leader in terms of showing how a university can deal with its problems, including related to race relations," Berkley Hudson, a journalism professor, said.

        The protests could have been turned into an asset — a chance to celebrate diversity. "We still can," he said.



        9)  As Republicans Hide From Voters, Sanders Rallies Trumpcare Resistance

        Sanders spoke in two deeply red states—Kentucky and West Virginia—on Sunday in an effort to emphasize the dangers posed by the GOP healthcare plan

        By Jake Johnson

        As the congressional recess—usually a time for lawmakers to interact with their constituents—is set to end on Monday, many Republicans are working extremely hard to avoid voters angry about the Senate GOP's historically unpopular and potentially deadly Trumpcare plan.

        House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) expressed what the New York Times has characterized as a common sentiment among his colleagues late last week, when he announced that he would not hold any open town halls because he doesn't want protesters to yell at him. Ryan has also repeatedly refused to take questions from reporters.

        Since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced his decision to delay the vote on Trumpcare until after the July 4 recess, opposition to the bill has only grown more intense. As Common Dreams reported, a coalition of progressive groups last week organized sit-ins geared toward keeping healthcare in the public spotlight as reports indicate that the bill could hit the floor for a vote as early as mid-July.

        Even in states that voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in November, the bill is strongly disliked. According to an analysis by MIT Assistant Professor Chris Warshaw, Trumpcare is "the most unpopular legislation in three decades."

        Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) spoke in two deeply red states—Kentucky and West Virginia—on Sunday in an effort to emphasize the devastating consequences the Republicans' plan would have on the poor, the elderly, those with preexisting conditions, and those struggling with opioid addiction.

        Ahead of the planned "Care Not Cuts" rallies, Sanders released a statement singling out McConnell in particular, who he argued is attempting to ram through legislation that would severely harm his own state.

        "Unbelievably, at a time when Kentucky has made significant progress in healthcare, the Republican bill being proposed in the Senate by Kentucky's own Senator Mitch McConnell would throw over 230,000 people in Kentucky off of health insurance," Sanders said.

        He continued:

        [Trumpcare] would also decimate the Medicaid program in the state which provides insurance for more than 2 million people, including 40 percent of all children. 

        Further, at a time when Kentucky is struggling with an opioid addiction epidemic, there is no question that if McConnell's legislation were to be passed, thousands of Kentuckians would no longer be able to receive the treatment they desperately need.

        Since the Senate's plan was finally unveiled after weeks of secrecy, Sanders and Democratic lawmakers have denounced the legislation as a tax cut for the wealthy disguised as a healthcare plan.

        "Frankly," Sanders recently said, "this is what oligarchy is all about."

        In his speech in Morgantown, West Virginia, Sanders said:

        We are gathered here today to make one simple point. And what we are saying, as clearly as we can, is that we will not allow 22 million Americans to be thrown off of the health insurance they currently have in order to give over $500 billion in tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent of this country, and to profitable drug companies and to other large health care corporations. Plain and simple, this so-called "health care" bill is nothing more than a massive transfer of wealth from working families to the very rich. While there are massive cuts to Medicaid, while seniors will pay far more in premiums, while Planned Parenthood will be defunded—the 400 highest—income taxpayers, most of whom are billionaires, will get about $33 billion in tax cuts.



























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