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 & 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!



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.

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

Thank you for being a part of this work!



Protect Kevin "Rashid" Johnson from Prison Repression!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* That Kevin Johnson's property be returned to him

* That Kevin Johnson's cell be thoroughly decontaminated

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

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

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

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

TDCJ Ombudsman: ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov

The Inspector General:  512-671-2480

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

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

VADOC Director, Harold Clarke

Interstate Compact director, Terry Glenn

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

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

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

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


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











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

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



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)  Cuba: From Machistas Leninistas to Educating Homophobes

        I'm a dialectic dope

        I'm all confused on carnal relations.

        Can a Bolsheviki wikki wakki wikki?

        What's the party line

        We need a party line

        Who's got the party line on love?

        From the American song: "What's The Party Line On Love" *

        * The American Communist song from the 1930s made fun of the politicization of sexual relations. The song, of course, defended the realm of what was to be a private matter. Granted, politicians and religious institutions, of all shades and colors, have tried to legislate what were [or are] proper "carnal relations."  Certainly for a brief time the Bolsheviks in 1922 decriminalized homosexuality. But, generally speaking, neither the communists, the socialists nor the capitalists ever elucidated a Policy on Sexual Matters that would be central to their partisan politics.

        But that has changed. On December 6, 2011 US foreign policy has moved into the realm of defender of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender "rights" for some countries in the world.[1] Then, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, announced the policy to the world noting, "I speak about this subject knowing that my own country's record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many LGBT Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect human rights at home." [2]

        The new internationalist policy promised to open US borders to LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, offer foreign aid to the same people and organizations where the US fosters regime change. The policy also promised to"help ensure the federal Government's swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBT persons ABROAD."

        Thus, another instrument has been added to justify political and military meddling and intervention in the internal affairs of those nations abroad that challenge American power. But the US policy of fostering regime change on sexual matters does not pertain to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and numerous other countries. [3]

        Just a few days after Hillary's announcement the subject of the policies that the Cuban government carried out in the mid-1960s against homosexuality a number of anti-Cuban government publications and organizations began to stress the issue.

        Certainly the history of the Cuban government toward gays should not be a taboo subject. People in the left/right and center certainly have a right to analyze and discuss the issue today.

        Professor Samuel Farber on December 23rd, 2011 published in the Nicaraguan publication Havana Times an article on the "Roots of Homophobia in Cuba during the Revolution." [4] It is not the intent of this brief commentary to discuss the matter of the roots of homophobia in Cuba – something that Farber fails to do. His thesis is simple, "the thrust and dynamism of those policies came primarily from Fidel Castro and the new Cuban Communist leadership." That is to say, homophobia in Cuba lacks a social, economic or cultural history pre-1959. This is hardly the case. Instead we are told to accept that homophobia was the result of the personal attitudes of a handful of people in power. In other words, it was all mere ideology and political reasons of state.

        Assuming that such simple explanation were to be  true, Farber fails to tell his readers that Fidel Castro in an interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada in 2010 stated, that he assumed full responsibility for the wrongheaded policy of earlier years: "I did not judge the matter well then [No lo supimos valorar]. [5]

        Was it popular in 1963 or even 1971 in Cuba to defend an enlightened position on matters related to homosexuality? It was not. But, why not?

        Was the world enlightened about such matters then?  No, it was not. It should be remembered that  until 1973 homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. The professions elsewhere in the hemisphere shared similar attitudes. Homosexuality, at least in the US, it was considered "deviance" until not too far back in history and outlawed in most states. Cuba had inherited a male chauvinist culture due to longstanding attitudes in both Spanish and African cultures.

        Professor Helen Yaffe writes,

        "The first legal challenge to homophobia in Cuba was in 1975 with a Cuban Supreme Court ruling against discrimination at work. In 1979 same sex relationships were decriminalised. In 1988 the offence of committing 'homosexual acts in public places' was removed from the penal code. In the 1990s, they resources to combat homophobia both in institutions and from individuals. Discrimination was condemned in a UJC Congress in 1992 and in 1993 sex education workshops on homosexuality were run throughout Cuba to explain that homophobia is a prejudice." [6 Helen Yaffe. Socialism and Equality in Cuba: the Fight for LGBT Rights,"FRFI (London), August/September 2012, No. 227].

        Yaffee also notes that in 1995, "Cuban drag queens led the annual May Day parade, joined by two gay delegations from the US – where sodomy remains a criminal offence in many states" [7 yaffe, op cit, ]

        Yet, over the past 15 years the changes have been extraordinary on the subject of sexual identity and policy. The Cuban mass media has played a systematic and concerted role in educating the general population. The Cuban Film Institute has been at the vanguard of discussing such matters. For example, as early as 1993 Cuba produced Strawberry and Chocolate denouncing anti-gay ideology and behavior among Communist party members. That was followed by numerous other films such as: Kleines Tropicana (1997), Noches de Constantinopla (2001); Video de Familia (2002) where a young man leaves Cuba because his parents dont accept him;  Casa Vieja (2010); Perfecto amor equivocado (2004)  and el viajero inmóvil (2008).  The theme of transvestism began to be treated in Bailando Cha cha chá (2005), Los dioses rotos (2009) and Chamaco (2010).

        Cuban television, which enters every home on a nightly basis has been slower, but in the last 13 years it began to deal with such important issues as well. And more explicit alternative sexual behaviors have been explored as well, for example, the tv series "The next victim" which shows more explicit male homosexual behavior. A sensation that got Cubans in all walks of life to talk about the subject was "The Dark Side of the Moon" exploring bisexuality. Most recently, the TV series "Under the Same Sun" discloses and confronts sexual taboos.

        Openly gay behavior is not circumscribed to just Havana; indeed one of the most conservative towns in the island , Santa Clara, in central Cuba has become a trend setter with its unique El Mejunje cultural center.

        Homophobia is in clear retreat throughout the island. Openly gay men and women candidates are beginning to be elected to public office. [6] One foreign observer has noted, "It is quite more liberal here than in the United States or Europe."  [7]

        What remains to be addressed is how a male-centered and chauvinist position that Cuban culture, politicians and institutions held for centuries has changed in such relative short period of time (in about 50 years). Now, homophobia is the enemy.

        Granted, the mass media and  important political and social leaders are openly attempting to positively influence the population at large. Yet, the battle for sexual and gender equality is not an easy, nor top down process of change.  The older population still tried to hold on to the sexual and gender roles that they were taught before the Cuban revolution. But this is not government policy; guiding and changing social behavior and traditional cultural perspectives is a long drawn out struggle. And the metrosexual revolution with its ideology, behavior and institutions have made significant inroads as well.  Machismo, manhood and masculinity are no longer expression of a what constitutes a revolutionary person. Indeed, "seremos como el Che" – the sacred icon of revolutionary manhood – has been transformed into revolutionary personhood. [8]

        Is there a Party line on love in Cuba today? Yes. And the headline from the Cuban newspaper Trabajadores (May 8, 2013) simply states where Cuba's policy is on the matter: "Homosexuality is neither chosen nor learned, it is an orientation and a source of pleasure and happiness". [9]

        *The song is also named "I'm a Dialectic Dope" from The Socialist Songbook.

        [1] The White House, Office of the Press secretary, December 6, 2011. Presidential Memorandum – International initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, gay, Bisexual, and transgender Persons.

        [3] "Barack Obama's Surprising Lack of patience for Russia's Anti-Gay Laws," Forbes, August 9, 2013.

        [6] 11/16/12 – Fox News – Once imprisoned for her sexuality, Cuban transgender woman becomes 1st to hold office.

        [7] 06/09/13 – VOXXI – Cuba's gay and transgendered population in the open.

        [8] Vladia Rubio, "Masculinidades: Los problemas de Machi," Cubasi.cu, August 30, 2012.

        [9] Alina M. Lotti, "La homosexualidad no se elige, no se aprende," Trabajadores (Habana), May 8, 2013.

        Nelson P Valdés is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of New Mexico.

        This article was written in 2013. It is published here for the first time.

        More articles by:

        Nelson P. Valdes is Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico.



        2)  "I Saw Pieces of Bodies": Afghan Civilians Describe Terrorization by US Drones

        Saturday, July 01, 2017 By Alex Edney-Browne, Truthout | News Analysishttp://www.truth-out.org/news/item/41127-i-saw-pieces-of-bodies-afghan-civilians-describe-terrorization-by-us-drones

        The Trump administration's "drone policy," though early to characterize, is shaping up to be even more aggressive than the Obama administration's. There has been a significant increase in the number of drone attacks since Trump assumed office. In March 2017 parts of Yemen and Somalia -- where the United States is not formally at war -- were changed to "areas of active hostilities," making it easier for the US to launch drone attacks.

        Through the Obama years and continuing with Trump, opponents of drone warfare have tended to highlight civilian casualties from drone attacks. They rightly argue that many more civilians are dying than the US government publicly admits. Another frequently raised concern is the secrecy of (and dubious legal basis for) the CIA's drone operations in "non-traditional battlefields" like Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. These are all pressing issues and will continue to serve an important role in ethical debates about drone warfare.

        What is often neglected in these debates, however, is the use of drones by the US Air Force (not the CIA) in countries that the US is known to be active in: Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The Trump administration is deepening its military engagement in these conflicts, and has committed to the deployment of nearly 4,000 soldiers to Afghanistan. This troop surge is going ahead even though a corresponding long-term strategy for the war in Afghanistan is not yet decided. It is important to consider how the use of drones is affecting civilians' lives and livelihoods in these countries, how those effects will manifest in the future, and the long-term implications of this for diplomacy and security.

        More Than Numbers: Afghan Civilians

        "Bongak" and "Bnngina" are the terms used to describe military drones in different regions of Afghanistan: Dari/Pashto onomatopoeias because of the "bnng" sound they make as they hover above. Afghanistan is the world's most drone-bombed country, yet is commonly forgotten about in drone criticism and monitoring efforts. Drone surveillance and attacks began in Afghanistan in 2001, yet the civilian casualty toll has only been monitored since 2015. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the organization conducting this monitoring, reports that accurate figures are almost impossible to obtain because of the insecurity and inaccessibility of attack locations.

        This means there are limitations to relying on civilian casualty figures when discussing the ethics of drone warfare in Afghanistan. More importantly, and this applies to all areas attacked and surveilled by drones, the effects of drones are much more profound and wide-ranging than a focus on casualty numbers invites the public to consider. Casualty figures can even work to dehumanize victims: Quantitative data is not the best tool to convey how it feels to hear drones, to think about being spied on in your home or to fear a possible attack. Despite the obvious challenges, it is important that researchers and journalists attempt to uncover and communicate the emotional and psycho-social harms of drone warfare. The recent documentary National Bird, which interviews Afghan drone victims, is one such example of the brave journalism needed.

        Afghan Victims Detail Psycho-Social Harms

        As a Ph.D. researcher based in Australia, going to Afghanistan to speak with drone victims seemed impossible for myriad reasons, including the rigorous ethics approval and "high-risk travel destination" application my university required. Persistence paid off, however, and I had the (difficult, heart-wrenching, yet moving) experience of meeting with more than 20 Afghans who live in provinces surveilled by drones, were injured in drone attacks or have lost loved ones to drone attacks. It is their stories that I share here, though I have changed their names to protect their privacy.

        Despite researching drone warfare for almost four years, it was still surprising to learn about the extent of the effect on Afghan people's lives and livelihoods. From the psychological distress of living under drone surveillance, to the economic impact of a disability, to the sadness and stress experienced by the family of an injured person, the Bongak/Bnngina has damaged so many aspects of Afghan lives.

        Saifullah, a 39-year-old, was injured in a co-joint helicopter and drone attack on February 21, 2010. The attack -- reported in the media as "Uruzgan helicopter attack," though victims say they also saw the drone launch missiles -- took place in Kijran District, Daikundi Province (not Uruzgan). According to these civilians, Daikundi was (and still is) a safe, government-controlled province of Afghanistan. The attack killed 21 civilians and injured 14. Saifullah's younger brother, a 23-year-old, was killed from metal shrapnel piercing his head. Saifullah needed a below-knee amputation on his left leg and now lives with a prosthetic. The "Uruzgan Attack" is unique for a US air attack in Afghanistan because it received Western media attention (many don't), and the transcript of the drone crew was successfully obtained by the LA Times through a Freedom of Information Act request. It is the only publicly available drone transcript. Media reporting of the event reveals the civilian casualty count. Saifullah's testimony is much more horrifying:

        I heard everybody shouting and crying…. I saw pieces of bodies, even pieces like the size of this cup [points]. I lost my brother. My leg was broken and it was very painful. It is very difficult to see that situation with your own eyes, even for me to say it now. I hope that God does not show that kind of scene to anyone.

        Seven years after that dreadful day, Saifullah is still feeling the impact. He has nightmares that wake him in a sweat, he discontinued his university education because his memory and concentration have since weakened, and he sometimes avoids seeing his nephew because it is too upsetting to be reminded of his dead brother.

        Thankfully drones rarely fly over Daikundi province, so Saifullah only sees and/or hears them once or twice a year when he travels to other provinces. This is a relief, as he finds the sound "very disturbing," and fears there will be "another attack on me or some other innocent civilians."

        Meanwhile Abdul Qodus, a 45-year-old from Wardak Province, cannot escape being transported back to the day of the attack that killed his brother. The Bnngina (the name given to drones in Wardak) flies over regularly. "All day and all night it is there," he laments. "It is nonstop in our village." This did not seem to be an exaggeration: Abdul had even heard a drone the evening prior to our meeting. "All night I did not sleep more than two hours," he told me. Abdul's brother, a farmer, was killed in 2014. He was working alone -- taking goats up to the mountain -- when he was hit by a drone missile.

        "I heard the drone attack and I got out of the house, because I knew my brother had taken goats to the mountain and I thought maybe he has been attacked, and I ran to the mountain," he added. "The first thing I saw was the pieces of my brother's body."

        Abdul and his family's lives have changed drastically since the death of his brother. They are now scared of taking their animals to the mountain. "This affects our financial situation. Because we don't have much land, we need to use the grass at the mountain. Our lives are connected to our animals."

        Abdul described how the lives of the whole community had been disrupted by drone attacks on the mountain. Before Abdul's brother's death, four other civilians had also been killed on the mountain in a separate drone attack.

        "We are a mountain village," he told me. "We go to the mountain to collect wood for fuel, for fires. We need it for our cooking and to make bread. We collect mushrooms and mountain leeks. We get water from the mountain, too, because there is a spring there. We use it to irrigate our farms."

        Many other rural Afghans echoed that the ill effects of drones were felt not just at the individual and familial level, but also by the wider community. Villagers are worried that the drones' surveillance cameras will mistake their innocent behavior for something nefarious. "When there is a jirga [local meeting] in the village and a drone goes around, we are afraid because we think the meeting will be attacked," Shanaky Gul, a 25-year-old from Wardak Province, said.  Congregations of Afghan civilians have been targeted in the past. A study by Stanford Law School/NYU Legal Clinic, "Living Under Drones," likewise found that civilians in Waziristan, Pakistan, had stopped participating in communal and social activities because they feared gathering in groups.

        Long-Term Strategy?

        It is hard to fathom the long-term effects of drone-induced fear on the psycho-social health of Afghan people and their communities. It is clear, however, that the task of diplomacy and improving security is made more difficult as a result. An overwhelming majority of the Afghan drone victims interviewed voiced unfavorable views about the United States and its allies. How will Afghanistan's next generation of community leaders and politicians, who have grown up living under the buzz of drones, feel towards the nations responsible for operating them? A troop surge will not improve this diplomatic impasse. Ahmad, a 21-year-old elementary school teacher from Wardak Province, put it this way: "We don't want to have relations with the militaries of foreign countries. We don't want it and we don't like them. The ordinary people like you -- we like them and we want to have connections with them."   

        Meanwhile, President Trump has repeatedly declared that he will "destroy radical Islamic terrorism," but has consistently shown that he does not understand the conditions in which terrorism thrives, overlooking the fact that  the Taliban has capitalized on anger caused by drones in its propaganda material and the madrassas (schools) it funds in Eastern Afghanistan.

        The psycho-social toll of drone warfare and its knock-on effects for cross-cultural relations and security are missed by most drone warfare criticism. As I witnessed in Afghanistan, the wide-ranging and long-term negative impact of drone warfare go far beyond the civilian casualty statistics most often cited, affecting the lives of all who live in the areas patrolled by drones.

        "We cannot care as well for our farms as before," Abdul told me. "When we go, we go with fear, we go quickly." 



        3)  Counseled by Industry, Not Staff, E.P.A. Chief Is Off to a Blazing Start

         JULY 1, 2017




        WASHINGTON — In the four months since he took office as the Environmental Protection Agency's administrator, Scott Pruitt has moved to undo, delay or otherwise block more than 30 environmental rules, a regulatory rollback larger in scope than any other over so short a time in the agency's 47-year history, according to experts in environmental law.

        Mr. Pruitt's supporters, including President Trump, have hailed his moves as an uprooting of the administrative state and a clearing of onerous regulations that have stymied American business. Environmental advocates have watched in horror as Mr. Pruitt has worked to disable the authority of the agency charged with protecting the nation's air, water and public health.

        But both sides agree: While much of Mr. Trump's policy agenda is mired in legal and legislative delays, hampered by poor execution and overshadowed by the Russia investigations, the E.P.A. is acting. Mr. Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general who built a career out of suing the agency he now leads, is moving effectively to dismantle the regulations and international agreements that stood as a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's legacy.

        "Just the number of environmental rollbacks in this time frame is astounding," said Richard Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard. "Pruitt has come in with a real mission. He is much more organized, much more focused than the other cabinet-level officials, who have not really taken charge of their agencies. It's very striking how much they've done."

        Since February, Mr. Pruitt has filed a proposal of intent to undo or weaken Mr. Obama's climate change regulations, known as the Clean Power Plan. In late June, he filed a legal plan to repeal an Obama-era rule curbing pollution in the nation's waterways. He delayed a rule that would require fossil fuel companies to rein in leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells. He delayed the date by which companies must comply with a rule to prevent explosions and spills at chemical plants. And he reversed a ban on the use of a pesticide that the E.P.A.'s own scientists have said is linked to damage of children's nervous systems.

        In a sign of both Mr. Pruitt's influence in the White House and the high regard in which Mr. Trump holds him, he will take a leading role in devising the legal path to withdraw from the 194-nation Paris agreement on climate change, a job that would typically fall to lawyers at the State Department.

        And he is doing all this largely without the input of the 15,000 career employees at the agency he heads, according to interviews with over 20 current and former E.P.A. senior career staff members.

        "I have been consistently informed by multiple career people at E.P.A. that Administrator Pruitt is not meeting with them ahead of making decisions like rolling back these major regulations," said James J. Jones, who had worked at the agency since the Reagan administration before retiring in January. Mr. Jones, an expert in chemical and pesticide pollution, was appointed by Mr. Obama as the E.P.A.'s assistant administrator for chemical safety in his final years at the agency.

        Instead, Mr. Pruitt has outsourced crucial work to a network of lawyers, lobbyists and other allies, especially Republican state attorneys general, a network he worked with closely as the head of the Republican Attorneys General Association. Since 2013, the group has collected $4.2 million from fossil fuel-related companies like Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Murray Energy and Southern Company, businesses that also worked closely with Mr. Pruitt in many of the 14 lawsuits he filed against the E.P.A.

        Within the agency, Mr. Pruitt relies on the counsel of a small network of political appointees, including a number of former lobbyists and senior industry officials. For example, he tapped Nancy Beck, previously a policy director for the American Chemistry Council, which lobbies on behalf of companies such as Dow and DuPont, to oversee the E.P.A. office charged with enforcing regulations on hazardous chemicals.

        "It amounts to a corporate takeover of the agency, in its decision- and policy-making functions," said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a government watchdog group.

        Mr. Pruitt, 49, sees himself as a champion of states' rights, pressing to diminish the intrusive authority of an overbearing federal agency. Hanging near the fireplace on the wood-paneled walls of his office is a portrait of President James Monroe, who opposed ratifying the Constitution because he said it gave too much power to the federal government.

        Mr. Pruitt pushed that message in his first speech to the agency's staff. "Congress has been very prescriptive in providing, in many instances, a very robust role, an important role of the states," he said. He did not mention public health or climate change.

        Since then, Mr. Pruitt has begun what he calls his "back to basics" agenda for the E.P.A. — one that he has described to multiple people as an effort to rein in the regulatory efforts of the Obama era, which focused on invisible greenhouse gases from tailpipes and smokestacks. Instead, Mr. Pruitt has said, he wants to focus on "tangible" pollution — for example, the Superfund program, which cleans up hazardous waste at old industrial sites.

        "I am making it a priority to ensure contaminated sites get cleaned up," he said. "We will be more hands-on." (His proposed budget for 2018, however, would cut the Superfund program by about 25 percent.)

        Mr. Pruitt made his message explicit in a visit to the Harvey coal mine in Sycamore, Pa., to kick off a "back to basics" promotional tour in April.

        "It's sad that a regulatory body of the government of the United States would declare a war on any part of our economy," he told the miners. "The regulatory assault is over."

        Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas, who worked closely with Mr. Pruitt when he was Oklahoma's attorney general to sue the E.P.A., said he was pleased that Mr. Pruitt's new job hadn't changed him. On March 1, Mr. Paxton met with Mr. Pruitt to request that the agency withdraw a rule requiring energy companies to collect data on emissions of methane from oil and gas wells. Mr. Paxton delivered the letter with the signatures of 11 attorneys general, laying out the case for walking back the rule.

        "I personally handed him the letter, and the next day the rule was personally withdrawn," Mr. Paxton said.

        Meanwhile, the agency's career scientists and legal experts say they have been largely cut out of the process. Senior staff members with decades of experience in environmental law and science said they had been consulted rarely on the agency's major decisions to undo environmental protections.

        It is not unusual for E.P.A. administrators to consult with lobbyists, state officials, and industry and advocacy groups as they develop major policy proposals. But veteran E.P.A. employees say Mr. Pruitt has gone much further in cutting out career staff members.

        "Going back to the Reagan administration, I was never aware of a substantive decision made without input from career staff," said Mr. Jones, the former head of the E.P.A.'s chemical regulation office. "It's hard to imagine that you have all the relevant facts if you're not meeting with the people who have a greater depth of knowledge on these issues than almost anyone in the country."

        Some career E.P.A. employees said they had been consulted, particularly in the writing of legal language to execute Mr. Pruitt's agenda. After Mr. Pruitt drafted his plan to repeal Mr. Obama's rule on pollution in the nation's waterways, he turned to the E.P.A.'s legal office to help ensure the language was bulletproof, said Kevin Minoli, the agency's acting general counsel.

        "As lawyers, it's not our job to choose the ultimate policy decision," said Mr. Minoli, who has served as an E.P.A. lawyer since the end of the Clinton administration. "As lawyers, our job is to help articulate the policy in the most legally defensible way possible."

        But Mr. Pruitt's main source of counsel on industry regulations appears to be the industries he regulates. An excerpt from his calendar for Feb. 21 to March 31, acquired through the Freedom of Information Act by the energy trade publication E & E News, details multiple meetings with chief executives and lobbyists from oil, gas, chemical, agribusiness and other industries regulated by the E.P.A., as well as with Mr. Pruitt's personally appointed political staff — but few meetings with career employees or environmental groups.

        Leaders of at least three major environmental and public health groups — the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy and the American Lung Association — have had meetings with Mr. Pruitt, they said. E.P.A. officials said he had also met with advocacy groups such as the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the March of Dimes, the National Medical Association, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American, and the National Environmental Health Association.

        But the influence of those groups, which have pushed to retain environmental rules, appears to be outweighed by the counsel of industry groups.

        Dow Chemical Company had pushed the E.P.A. to reconsider an Obama-era ban on the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that the E.P.A.'s scientists have concluded causes developmental damage in children. On March 30, Mr. Pruitt reversed the ban.

        On March 13, Mr. Pruitt met with agriculture lobbyists, including Dale Moore, executive director of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has lobbied heavily for the repeal of an Obama-era regulation that could restrict the use of fertilizers near waterways. Last month, Mr. Pruitt filed a draft plan to repeal the Waters of the United States Rule.

        On March 22, he had dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington with 45 members of the board of directors of the American Petroleum Institute, a body composed largely of chief executive officers of the oil and gas industry. At the time, oil and gas companies were pushing the E.P.A. to roll back a set of rules on methane leaks from drilling wells, which the industry estimates could cost it over $170 million.

        On June 13, Mr. Pruitt filed a proposal to delay those regulations by two years, and the agency is expected to rewrite them. In the filing, he noted that the E.P.A. had concluded that a delay of the pollution rules "may have a disproportionate effect on children." But he also said the rules would come at a significant cost to the oil and gas industry.

        "The nice thing is," Mr. Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, said, "now we feel like we're being heard."



        4)  For Millions, Life Without Medicaid Services Is No Option

         JULY 1, 2017




        TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Frances Isbell has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disorder that has left her unable to walk or even roll over in bed. But Ms. Isbell has a personal care assistant through Medicaid, and the help allowed her to go to law school at the University of Alabama here. She will graduate next month.

        She hopes to become a disability rights lawyer — "I'd love to see her on the Supreme Court someday," her aide, Christy Robertson, said, tearing up with emotion as Ms. Isbell prepared to study for the bar exam in her apartment last week — but staying independent will be crucial to her professional future.

        "The point of these programs is to give people options and freedom," said Ms. Isbell, 24, whose family lives a few hours away in Gadsden.

        The care she gets is an optional benefit under federal Medicaid law, which means each state can decide whether to offer it and how much to spend. Optional services that she and millions of other Medicaid beneficiaries receive would be particularly at risk under Republican proposals to scale back Medicaid as part of legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

        Those services include dental care for adults, long-term care for disabled and elderly people living at home, certain therapies that children with disabilities receive in school, prosthetic limbs and even prescription drugs.

        The battle over replacing the Affordable Care Act has focused intensely on the future of Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor and vulnerable created more than 50 years ago as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Much of the debate has centered on Republican proposals to roll back the recent expansion of the program to millions of low-income adults without disabilities.

        But the House and Senate bills would also make profound changes to the very nature of Medicaid, shifting it from an open-ended entitlement to a program with strict federal funding limits.

        Those changes would have far bigger consequences over time, affecting many more of the roughly 74 million Americans on Medicaid. The threat to optional services may be especially acute in states, like Alabama, that already spend far less than the national average on Medicaid and are averse to raising more revenue through taxes.

        "In a poor state like Alabama, you are starting off with a baseline that's already low," said James A. Tucker, director of the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, which provides legal services to people with disabilities here. "There's a fundamental antipathy to spending the public purse on health care services for poor people, and that would only get worse if the resources become capped and more limited."

        The drain on Medicaid funding would worsen over time under the bill that Senate Republicans are working to pass, with the new funding limits starting in 2021 and having the biggest impact more than a decade from now. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that Medicaid spending would be 26 percent lower under the Senate plan than it would be under current law in 2026 — and 35 percent lower in 2036. The office predicted that states would be forced to "eliminate optional services, restrict eligibility for enrollment or adopt some combination of those approaches."

        Under the Senate plan, states would receive a fixed annual amount for each Medicaid beneficiary, with each category of beneficiaries, like children and the disabled, getting a different base amount based on recent costs. The amount would increase every year by a formula that is expected to grow more slowly than average medical costs after 2025. Disabled children would not be subject to the spending caps.

        Avalere Health, a consulting firm, estimated in a report that federal spending on individual state Medicaid programs could decline between 6 percent and 26 percent under the Republican plan by 2026. The biggest drops would be in states that expanded Medicaid, but the cuts would compound more sharply for every state in later years.

        Conservatives say Medicaid spending, which consumes a major and growing portion of the federal and states' budgets, needs to be reined in. The current system of unlimited federal matching funds, they say, has encouraged states to milk as much as they can, sometimes wastefully; capping funding, their argument goes, would make Medicaid more efficient and ensure it can continue to help the most vulnerable Americans, including people with disabilities.

        "The fiscal sustainability of Medicaid is essential to making sure that those who depend on the program can know it will be there for them in the future," Avik Roy, a conservative health care analyst, wrote last week in Forbes.

        Alabama's two Republican senators, Richard Shelby and Rodney Strange, have expressed quiet support for the Senate bill, although Mr. Strange has said he wants to make sure that "the most vulnerable in my state" are protected. Gov. Kay Ivey, also a Republican, has said she wants to see a final version of the bill before weighing in.

        For decades, the only type of long-term care that disabled Medicaid beneficiaries could receive was in nursing homes. But starting in the early 1980s, Medicaid began providing the option of "home and community-based services," allowing people with disabilities to stay in their homes with paid help. States now spend slightly more for these services than for nursing home care, which is a mandatory benefit under Medicaid.

        Nationally, almost three million people received Medicaid long-term care services at home or in their community in 2013, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. About 13,000 people were getting these services in Alabama in 2015, according to the state.

        Medicaid pays for only 25 hours a week of help for Ms. Isbell. It is not enough; she received an additional 25 hours of help through a Department of Education program during her three years in law school.

        "It's still significantly less than I would get in other states," she said this past week eating a lunch of leftover spaghetti in her apartment in Tuscaloosa with the help of her aide.

        She knows disabled people who choose to get catheters, she said, rather than do "pee math"— figuring out how soon they will need to use the bathroom and whether an aide will be there to help.

        "People are struggling so much to get by with the hours they have as it is," she said. "But the way this bill was written, you have to just make a general prediction that these services will be cut."

        Relief for Family

        Eric Harkins will never be able to have a job. With cerebral palsy, intellectual disability and a seizure disorder, he cannot speak or move other than scooting across the floor on his knees and elbows. But Medicaid has allowed his sister, Kimberlee, to pursue a career as a vocational rehabilitation counselor instead of caring for him full time. It pays for aides to care for Mr. Harkins for 125 hours a week, an amount that was increased after his mother had a debilitating heart attack and underwent surgery several times over the last few years.

        "He requires help with every aspect of daily living," Ms. Harkins said, stroking her brother's arm as he watched a cartoon in their living room one recent afternoon in Vestavia Hills, outside Birmingham. "If our caregivers went away tomorrow, I'd have to quit my job and take care of Eric."

        Mr. Harkins, 33, likes playing with toys meant for toddlers, watching shows on his iPad and going on outings to Target and restaurants, though it usually takes his sister and an aide to get him there. Because he can be physically aggressive, a day program is out of the question, Ms. Harkins said. But his mother, Judy Harkins, said that if he was placed in a nursing home, "he would die, and it would kill me, too."

        An Independent Life

        Every weekday, Medicaid allows Matthew Foster to spend a few hours pursuing one cherished activity after the next: working out at the gym, taking an art class, shopping for groceries, visiting his elderly aunt. The program pays for an aide to spend 20 hours a week with Mr. Foster, 34, who has Down syndrome and cannot read well or drive.

        Mr. Foster spent eight years on a Medicaid waiting list to get the coverage. Before he got it, help came from his mother, Susan Ellis, and his two younger siblings, who have since moved away. His father, Michael Foster, worked six days a week as a coal miner, though he retired recently. Both parents are 67 and have health problems of their own, although Ms. Ellis still works for a nonprofit disability rights group.

        Mr. Foster lives in what used to be their garage in a modest split-level home in Vestavia Hills. His living quarters has its own entrance. Since he was 17, he has worked on weekends at Chuck E. Cheese's, dressing in costume and entertaining children at birthday parties. His father drives him back and forth now, but in the future he may rely on Medicaid for help getting to work.

        "My hope is that when Mike and I aren't around anymore, he will be able to maintain his life the way he lives it now," Ms. Ellis said. "That means living in the community he's grown up in."

        As she spoke, Mr. Foster emerged in workout clothes, smiling toward his personal care assistant, Amancia Carrera, who was waiting to take him for their regular Monday sandwich at Subway — "It's the best time for us to really talk, with eye contact," Ms. Carrera said — and the gym.

        "She's an active person, and I'm real active, too," Mr. Foster said of Ms. Carrera, who also works with him on basic math and reading and helps him with housekeeping, meals and bills. "I like having Amancia in my life."



        5)   For Child Survivors of London Fire, a Belated Eid Celebration

         JULY 2, 2017




        LONDON — Few things are more quintessentially British than a funfair for children. And nothing conveys the British slogan "Keep Calm and Carry On" like staging one for children rendered homeless after an epic inferno that killed at least 80 people.

        The local mosque near Grenfell Tower, the 24-story West London apartment building that was destroyed by fire on June 14, held a delayed Eid al-Fitr celebration on Saturday for survivors and their neighbors — and most of all, their children.

        It featured a bouncy castle, face-painting tables, a playpen full of colorful balls, helium balloons on long strings, all funfair staples. Copious free food included chicken biryani and samosas, but also cookies and chocolate cupcakes. There was an old-fashioned popcorn popper and a vat to spin pink cotton candy — candy floss, Brits call it. Even the sun made an unscheduled appearance.

        That befitted what was a determinedly upbeat occasion. "These kids need something normal, just a chance to relax and have fun," said Abdurahman Sayed, the executive director of the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, which also houses the mosque.

        Still, officials thought long and hard about whether to hold the event so soon, Mr. Sayed said. He was a little worried that the parents would stay away, only two weeks after the tragedy, with local and national governments still being battered nearly daily by public furyrevelations about lapses that made the tower vulnerable to fire and serial resignations of public officials. But the decision proved popular, and fairgoers of all ages filled the center and the blocked-off street outside.

        With most of the Grenfell Tower survivors rehoused, for now, in hotel rooms, it was a welcome chance to take their children out somewhere and also see their friends and neighbors, Mr. Sayed said. "It'll be good for the parents too."

        Ahmed Palekar, who had many friends in the tower, came to watch. "This is our way of talking about something else other than the fire," he said. "But behind each smile is a troubled recent past."

        Amina al-Wahadi attended with her children and her sister — who escaped from a lower floor of the tower with her husband and two children. The sisters then watched as the flames engulfed the 21st floor, where their brother and his family lived; all five perished. The sisters were angry about how they had been treated by the authorities — "lie after lie after lie," as Ms. Wahadi put it.

        But this day was for the children, who dived into the Bouncy Castle, or inflatable bouncer; played at sword-fighting with modeling balloons (as twisting balloons are known here); or had their faces painstakingly painted by volunteers, mostly schoolteachers, with several children lined up before each of them waiting their turns patiently. Spider-Man, predictably, was a big hit.

        "We can't begin to understand what they've gone through," said Farita Latif, one of the face painters. "I just lost my friend in the tower and I was crying for a week. Imagine losing a family?"

        Another of the teachers was doing henna tattoos, popular with adult women in hijab, as well as schoolgirls in Western dress. "I met a girl today," the teacher said. "I did her henna. She lost five of her friends. She was in year 7." That is equivalent to American sixth grade.

        Most schools are still in session in England. At one local nursery, 11 Grenfell children are absent; at an elementary school, five are, parents said. They are probably among the missing, now presumed dead. In many cases, no parents have called to report absences, probably because they are missing or dead too.

        The Al Manaar Mosque caters to a variety of Muslims originally from many different countries. That was the case too with the mostly Muslim population of Grenfell Tower. Among the adults attending the Eid funfair, their appearance reflected their Islamic diversity, from full hijab and long chin beards, to modern Western dress, and everything between. The youngsters, though, could mostly have come from any public playground in the country.

        For many Muslims, Eid celebrations, held June 25 to 27 this year, include giving presents to children. That did not happen for the Grenfell Tower families; for their children, it was like a canceled Christmas. The center has since been inundated with gifts for children, and several rooms on its top floor look like part of a chaotically well-stocked toy store. There was enough for all of the children to get something, but the young survivors of the fire were ushered by volunteers in maroon vests into a "special room," where the nicest toys had been gathered.

        Counselors were on hand as well. On a table was a pile of "Easy Read" brochures from the National Health Service in West London, titled "Supporting Children After a Traumatic Event." Among the recommendations: "Keep to your normal daily activities as much as you can."

        Out in the street, two young boys took up positions on a circular mat for sumo wrestling. They had donned padded fat suits that rendered both of them harmless as they belly-knocked one another down, to great laughter all around.

        There was also a science exhibition on one sidewalk table. A girl who looked 11 or 12 was learning about non-Newtonian fluids. She squeezed a handful of cornstarch — cornflour, it is called here — mixed with water into a squishy ball in the palm of her hand.

        "It's like slime," she said, referring to another type of non-Newtonian fluid. She spoke with wonder, but softly. On her inner left wrist was a small henna tattoo that read "14.06.17," a silent reference to that day in June.



        6)  Ex-SF Navy shipyard workers allege fraud in radiation cleanup

        By J.K. Dineen

        Published 9:06 pm, Thursday, June 29, 2017


        The cleanup of radioactive contamination at the Hunters Point Shipyard was marred by widespread fraud, faked soil samples, and a high-pressure culture where speed was valued over accuracy and safety, according to four former site workers.

        On Thursday, the four whistle-blowers, including a radiation safety officer who reported directly to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, gathered with environmentalists to describe the problems with the cleanup, which has cost the federal government $600 million. In the background, construction crews were at work redeveloping the property, where 1,200 units of housing, millions of square feet of commercial space and hundreds of acres of parks are planned.

        David Anton, an attorney for the workers, said the Navy and the Environmental Protection Agency — as well as the district attorney and state attorney general — should immediately launch investigations into the cleanup, a process that should include interviews with former workers and the retesting of the soil at the site. Also, the nonprofit Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice filed a petition with the NRC to revoke the license of contractor Tetra Tech, which oversaw the cleanup at the Superfund site.

        "Talk to the workers who were involved in the fraud. Find out what fraud was taking place, and then test and sample based on reality," Anton said. "The Navy has fought at virtually every step a real look at contamination at Hunters Point."

        Questions over the accuracy of the soil tests emerged in October 2012, when the Navy discovered that some results were inconsistent with results from previous samples collected in the same areas. While the dirt in question was identified as having been collected from beneath a lab used to conduct radiation tests on animals, an internal investigation found that in at least 386 cases it had been pulled from areas already given a clean bill for radiological contamination.

        On Thursday, the former workers said soil samples from areas known to be highly contaminated were switched with dirt gathered from the foundation of an old movie theater, where there were minimal toxic chemicals. Anton alleges that at least 2,500 samples were faked. 

        Robert McClain, a radiation technician who worked at the site in 2005, said Tetra Tech management ordered him to increase the speed of a conveyor-belt system he operated — even though the soil carried by the belt could not be properly tested for contaminants at the faster speed.

        "Management was production-driven," he said. "They wanted to run it faster so they could get the soil moved. I was told by Tetra Tech officials that I didn't know what I was doing. I have 25 years experience in the nuclear power business."

        In a statement, Tetra Tech spokesman Charlie MacPherson said the company "emphatically denies the allegations made by individuals at today's news conference that Tetra Tech engaged in a cover-up of fraud on the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard."

        FivePoint Holdings, the company developing the property, said its "utmost concern is the safety of our residents and employees. We are confident in the oversight process of the Environmental Protection Agency and other local and state agencies to insure when we take title of a parcel it is up to the standard consistent with the designated uses."



        7)  Jaywalking While Black

         JULY 3, 2017




        Late last month, in Jacksonville, Fla., Devonte Shipman, who is black, walked across the street. A white sheriff's officer saw him, and about 20 minutes later, Mr. Shipman had been served a $62 fine for jaywalking and a $136 fine for "failing to provide I.D." The sheriff's officer even threatened to arrest Mr. Shipman, saying, "In the state of Florida, you have to have an I.D. card on you identifying who you are, or I can detain you for seven hours until I figure out who you are."

        There were a few problems with this. First and foremost, failing to carry identification while walking is not a crime, even under Florida law. Florida Statute 322.15 clearly states that one needs to be carrying a license while driving — not while walking. Second, "jaywalking" is not a crime in Florida; it's a noncriminal infraction. In the video Mr. Shipman took of the incident, another person clearly jaywalks behind him. And yet Mr. Shipman was stopped, and fined nearly $200 for two "crimes" that don't exist.

        A week before this incident, Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who shot Philando Castile in July 2016, was acquitted of second-degree manslaughter. Castile, a licensed gun owner, was shot after being stopped for a broken taillight and informing Officer Yanez that he had a gun (as he was legally permitted to) and reaching for his driver's license as directed. In effect, Castile was murdered for following directions.

        Americans, in general, respect the concept of "the law" and those who enforce it. And yet the law and the people tasked with enforcing it do not always reciprocate. In some cases, Americans can jaywalk or even blow marijuana smoke at a police officer, and receive no punishment whatsoever. In other cases, Americans like Mr. Shipman are stopped for violating laws that do not exist. And in still other cases, Americans like Philando Castile, who had been stopped more than 40 times in 13 years for minuscule law violations, are killed because they follow a police officer's instructions. Frequently, these Americans are black.

        African-Americans are disproportionately arrested for jaywalking and other small-scale offenses nationwide. Sacramento police issued more than 200 tickets for jaywalkinglast year in the neighborhoods of North Sacramento and Del Paso Heights. While just 15 percent of residents of that area are African-American, black residents made up around 50 percent of those ticketed. In Urbana, Ill., the disparity was even more stark: From 2007 to 2011, 91 percent of those ticketed for jaywalking were black, in an area where just 16 percent of residents are African-American.

        The Department of Justice found that while African-Americans made up 67 percent of the population of Ferguson, Mo., between 2011 and 2013, they received 95 percent of "manner of walking in roadway" charges and 92 percent of "disturbing the peace" charges. In Minneapolis, the A.C.L.U. discovered that African-Americans were more than eight times more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses, like loitering or driving without proof of insurance, than white residents.

        The response to these incidents by other Americans — frequently, but not always, white Americans — is often "well, don't break the law!" But it's not about breaking the law, it's about the enforcement of the law. For millions of Americans, laws can be safely ignored. Jaywalking is sometimes the easiest way to cross a road without sidewalks or where the crosswalk is far away. Speeding, though unsafe, happens when you're late for work. And sometimes you forget to signal when driving into the grocery store parking lot. But for other Americans — black Americans — any of these simple decisions can result in arrest, fines or even death.

        If some people can ignore a law, and others can't, that law is not being enforced fairly. And if some people can flout law enforcement and survive, and others obey it and die, law enforcement is not doing its job properly. The Constitution guarantees all Americans equal protection under the law. But clearly, it does not guarantee all Americans equal protection from the law.

        Mr. Shipman knew that, which is why he recorded his interactions with the sheriff's officer and maintained an almost impossible level of politeness throughout. He knew, as I do, as most black people do, that when one is dealing with the police, one must be as meek and mild as possible. I did not know until I went to college that other people, often white people, never had to learn that lesson. I had friends in college who bragged about drunkenly screaming obscenities at police officers and suffering no consequences as a result. I marveled at them. Imagine being able to do that, I remember thinking. Imagine being able to do that and live.



        8)  The Deadly Results of a D.E.A.-Backed Raid in Honduras

        Leer en español 

         JULY 2, 2017




        WASHINGTON — It was a dark, moonless night. A small passenger boat had nearly reached the end of its six-hour journey upriver when helicopters appeared overhead and another boat came into view. Shots were fired, hitting several passengers. As terrified men, women and children leapt into the water, they were fired on again by a machine-gunner perched in a helicopter. Four people were killed, two of them women, another a 14-year-old boy. Several more were injured.

        It could have been another tragic scene of carnage from Syria, South Sudan or some other war-torn place. But this grisly incident occurred in the otherwise peaceful Miskito indigenous community of Ahuas, Honduras, during a May 2012 counternarcotics mission involving agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, a United States-vetted Honduran police unit and machine-gun-equipped State Department helicopters.

        The D.E.A. and Honduran police said that the passenger boat carried drug traffickers who fired first. Local residents told a different story, of a water taxi carrying unarmed travelers with no links to drug trafficking.

        Weeks later we traveled to Ahuas and worked with local human rights defenders to piece together the boat passengers' accounts. A grieving mother described how her teenage son was shot dead before her eyes. A nurse told us about her deceased pregnant sister and her struggle to care for her orphaned niece and nephew.

        The testimonies we compiled indicated that the passengers were on the river for legitimate reasons. Multiple eyewitness accounts suggested D.E.A. agents played a leadership role in the operation.

        Back in Washington, D.E.A. and State Department press officers insisted that the operation had been "Honduran led" and counternarcotics agents had fired in self-defense.

        Five years later, United States officials' version of events has been wholly refuted by a government review examining the Ahuas shootings and two other "deadly fire incidents" in Honduras.

        The 424-page review, released in May by the inspectors general of the Departments of State and Justice, offers a startling glimpse into the tightly sealed world of United States security assistance in Central America.

        The review found no credible evidence showing that the boat passengers opened fire. The D.E.A.'s "witness testimony" suggesting otherwise was completely unreliable, as officials knew.

        The United States-vetted Honduran police unit wasn't "highly trained and vetted," as officials claimed, and D.E.A. agents "maintained substantial control" over the mission. A Honduran helicopter door-gunner opened fire only after United States agents ordered him to do so.

        Further, the review found that officials from the D.E.A. and State Department knowingly misled Congress and continued to cite alleged evidence supporting their claims after they were aware that this evidence was compromised. They also refused to cooperate with State Department investigators trying to establish the facts around the Ahuas shootings.

        The review, while shedding devastating light on the wrongdoing of United States law enforcement agents and government officials, also leaves some big questions unanswered.

        First, do the review's findings reflect broader patterns of behavior in United States institutions focused on the war on drugs abroad?

        Though the units involved in the Ahuas mission have been dissolved, many of the egregious actions documented in the review implicate senior and midlevel American officials. For example, the Department of State's current assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs pushed back hard against D.E.A. cooperation with investigators and discussed putting the investigation "back into the box."

        Second, how effective is the heavy-handed, militarized approach to security and counternarcotics that the United States supports in the region?

        Given the secrecy surrounding many security programs, it is nearly impossible to evaluate their effectiveness. Hundreds of millions of United States taxpayer dollars have been channeled to the region through the opaque Central America Regional Security Initiative; little is known regarding the final destination and impact of these funds. Now security aid to Central America is likely to become even more militarized and less transparent, with the current administration seeking to shift funding and responsibilities from the State Department to the Pentagon.

        And while there's scant evidence that the current approach has stemmed the flow of drugs or reduced violence and other drivers of Central American migration to the United States, there is little doubt that it has contributed to tremendous human suffering.

        ProPublica investigation has just revealed that a 2011 D.E.A. operation triggered dozens of killings in Allende, Mexico, after sensitive information about a drug cartel was shared with a notoriously leaky United States-vetted Mexican police unit. The D.E.A. itself has yet to investigate the incident.

        More broadly, increased United States security spending in Central America has been accompanied by further militarization and reports of security forces' involvement in organized crime and appalling human rights abuses. This is particularly true in Honduras, where even the country's minister of security is accused of being involved in drug trafficking and United States-trained military officials were recently implicated in the murder of the renowned environmental activist Berta Cáceres. Dozens of United States legislators have called for suspension of all security aid to Honduras.

        It is time for Congress and the American public to take a closer look at security assistance and reconsider the policies driving the costly United States "war on drugs" in the region. The questions raised by the inspectors general's review are a good starting point. Congress should conduct its own thorough review of the effectiveness of United States security programs in Latin America as well as the system of United States-vetted units. Legislators should also demand more detailed information about regional security initiative and other opaque programs and require that metrics measuring the impact of these programs be made public.

        Finally, Congress should consider further investigations of the D.E.A. and State Department cover-up around the May 2012 shootings and ensure that accountability mechanisms are in place to prevent officials from dodging scrutiny. The survivors and families of the deceased should receive reparations. And sanctions should be considered against those who tried to keep Congress and the public in the dark about what really happened that night in Ahuas.



        9)  Chris Christie Hits a Closed State Beach, and Kicks Up a Fury

         JULY 3, 2017




        Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey provoked widespread ridicule as pictures emerged of him and his family sunning themselves on an empty beach that had been closed during the holiday weekend because of a state government shutdown.

        Mr. Christie was shown in aerial photographs relaxing in a beach chair on Sunday at the governor's official retreat in Island Beach State Park. The pictures were taken by The Star-Ledger of New Jersey.

        Mr. Christie gave a ho-hum response when questioned by reporters Saturday about going to the beachside retreat at such a politically sensitive time, as a budget standoff forced the shutdown of the state government.

        "That's just the way it goes," Mr. Christie said. "Run for governor, and you can have a residence."

        His outing came as the state park police were turning away families who arrived at the beach's main gate hoping to spend the day by the ocean.

        The pictures of the governor lounging in the sand with his wife, Mary Pat, and other family members prompted a torrent of criticism and mockery on social media.

        For some, Mr. Christie's defense of the visit called to mind other choice moments from the brash governor's years in office, like when he told a law student to "shut up" in 2012 when being questioned about the merging of two units of the state university system.

        Even a Twitter account that satirizes the Chinese government's propaganda efforts got into the act.

        After leaving the beach, Mr. Christie held a news conference in Trenton, where he was asked whether he had gotten some sun that day.

        "I didn't," he said, according to The Star-Ledger. "I didn't get any sun today."

        But his spokesman, Brian Murray, recalibrated after being told of the existence of the photos, saying, "The governor was on the beach briefly."

        "He did not get any sun," Mr. Murray added, according to The Star-Ledger. "He had a baseball hat on."

        One person called the pictures "grotesque."

        Another engaged in a creative use of Photoshop, placing the beachgoing governor in the White House.

        Mr. Christie made a failed run for president in 2016, and his support in his home state has dropped precipitously ever since. One poll found that just 26 percent of voters viewed him favorably in April 2016, shortly after he ended his campaign. He is set to end an eight-year tenure as governor in January.



        9)  Tens of thousands join pro-Labour, anti-Tory, anti-austerity march through London streets

        July 5, 2017

        by Ann Garrison


        Supporters of the British Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn marched through London streets on Saturday, from the BBC headquarters to the Parliament Building at Westminster. KPFA's Ann Garrison filed this report.

        KPFA/Ann Garrison: The London-based Independent reports that tens of thousands joined the "Not One More Day" march against the Conservative Tory government and its austerity policies. They carried signs that read "Tories Out," "No to Islamophobia, No to War," "Cut War Not Welfare" and "Austerity is the New Terror."

        Jeremy Corbyn addressed the crowd upon their arrival outside Parliament.

        Jeremy Corbyn: What this election campaign, this anti-austerity movement, this current mood in British politics has done is unleashed the ideas and the imagination, unleashed that day-to-day conversation on every street corner, every café and every pub of how differently this country could be run. The Tories are in retreat.

        Austerity is in retreat. The economic arguments of austerity are in retreat. It's those of social justice, of unity, of people coming together to oppose racism and all those that would divide us that are the ones that are moving forward.

        KPFA: Some marchers held signs that said "Austerity Kills, Justice for Grenfell" and a large contingent marched behind a banner reading "Justice for Grenfell," meaning justice for the victims of the horrific Grenfell Tower public housing fire that killed mostly Black and Brown people, including refugees from the war ravaged Middle East.

        The fire occurred because of cost cutting on the cosmetic cladding, which was not fire retardant, applied to the outside of the building. The government has asked residents of other public housing towers with the same cladding to move out until the danger can be mitigated. Jeremy Corbyn spoke to the Grenfell at the rally:

        Jeremy Corbyn: And so, in the public inquiry that's now going to be called, I've written to the prime minister yesterday to say we want it quick and urgent in the case of Grenfell Tower, and we want a longer, much longer, more detailed inquiry into housing conditions and stock all over the country. So surely if ever there was a wake-up call for what happens in modern Britain, it's got to be that disaster at Grenfell Tower and the loss of life that went with it.

        KPFA: Some believe that Conservative Party leader Theresa May's minority government could fall before the end of the year, despite her deal with the Democratic Unionist Party whose main issue is keeping Northern Ireland within the U.K. and thereby preventing the reunification of Ireland. Whether a new election is held this year or later, Jeremy Corbyn promised to throw himself into the next campaign.

        Corbyn: So we've identified 73 constituencies in England, Wales and Scotland that we can win, and you know what? I'm going to go to every single one of them. We're going to take the campaign to the Tories because we are utterly determined that the message will get out there, the message of hope.

        KPFA: And that was Labour Party leader Jerremy Corbyn speaking at a pro-Labour, anti-Tory, anti-austerity march in London today.

        In Berkeley, for Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison.

        Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening NewsKPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.



        11)  '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?"



        12)  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.



        13)  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.



        14)  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.



        15)  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?"



        16) 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."








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

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