Hurricane Irma Relief and Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign 

-Isaac Saney, CNC National Spokesperson, September 10, 2017 - 

Hurricane Irma menaced and devastated the eastern and northern Caribbean, striking Cuba from September 7-10, resulting in significant and widespread damage. Accompanied by massive flooding, its sweeping destruction encompassed housing, communications, infrastructure, agricultural equipment, crops, and community buildings. 

While, we are confident that the Cuban people will overcome any challenges posed by Hurricane Irma, Cuba will, nevertheless, have to expend considerable resources, both immediate and long term, in order to overcome the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Irma. 

To assist Cuba in its immense efforts of recovery and reconstruction, the Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC) is launching the Hurricane Irma Relief & Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign

Donations to the Hurricane Irma Relief & Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign can be made by mailing cheques made out to the Canadian Network On Cuba to: CNC Hurricane Relief, 56 Riverwood Terrace Bolton, ON L7E 1S4. Please write "CNC Hurricane Irma Relief Fund" on your cheque's memo line.

All donations will be forwarded 100% directly to Cuba. 

In recent years, the CNC has had a series of successful Hurricane Relief Campaigns. The most recent was in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew struck eastern Cuba, devastating Baracoa, Cuba's oldest city.  In 2008, the CNC's most extensive campaign was launched when a series of hurricanes caused damage in excess of $10-billion. The CNC not only raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, but also directly participated in the construction of a new social and cultural centre on La Isla de La Juventud (Isle of Youth).   

In 2017, as Cuba faces this latest challenge, we are confident that Canadians - as they have repeatedly done - will once again demonstrate their friendship and solidarity with Cuba by supporting the island as it recovers from the ravages of Hurricane Irma.

Our experience with regard to Cuba's response to natural disasters is that it knows how to multiply the value of any donations it receives. We feel confident, based on the island's unsurpassed humanitarian work - both within Cuba and in other countries - that it has the skills, the organization and the ethical and moral values to put whatever assistance it receives to the best possible use. 

Even at this difficult time, in the midst of Hurricane Irma's havoc, Cuba's deep internationalist spirit has once again been profoundly demonstrated by the sending of more than 750 Cuban health workers to Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Haiti, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and the Bahamas.

As in past campaigns, we hope that solidarity organizations and individuals will generously support Cuba in its efforts to rebuild after this devastating hurricane.  

Send Donations to: CNC Hurricane Relief, 56 Riverwood Terrace Bolton, ON L7E 1S4. Please make cheques out to the Canadian Network On Cuba and write "CNC Hurricane Irma Relief Fund" on your cheque's memo line.








To: Philadelphia Deputy District Attorney Ronald Eisenberg and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office

Release Mumia Abu-Jamal Case Records


Release all the records and files regarding Mumia Abu-Jamal's legal case!

Why is this important?

A petition filed on behalf of political prisoner and renowned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, seeking a new appeal in his decades-long case, was heard in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas on April 24, 2017. During the session, Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker ordered the Philadelphia District Attorney's office to turn over all records pertaining to Mumia's legal case. 

If released, these records will reveal a grave conflict of interest in Mumia's appeal case, identifying Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille as a biased contributor to the case. Justice Castille, who has in the past denied Mumia's appeals, also played a significant role in Mumia's conviction during his trial on charges of killing a police office. Castille was Assistant DA at the time of Abu-Jamal's trial in 1982. In addition, he was appointed as the Philadelphia District Attorney during Mumia's direct appeal in 1988. 

What else can you do? 

A ruling to implement Judge Leon Tucker's recent order to release Mumia's court documents could be made as soon as May 30, 2017. Please call or e-mail the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office now to pressure them to follow the court's order to release all the records and files regarding Mumia Abu-Jamal's legal case.

Phone: 215-686-8000

E-mail: DA_Central@phila.gov



Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? (City Lights Open Media)

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

A Book Review by Robert Fantina

With the recent acquittal of two more police officers in the deaths of unarmed Black men, the question posed by the title of this book is as relevant as it ever was. Through a series of concise, clear essays, Mumia Abu-Jamal details the racism against Blacks, comparing today's behaviors with the lynchings that were common in the south prior to the decade of the sixties. He points out the obvious: The passage of Civil Rights legislation hasn't changed much; it simply changed the way racism operates.

The ways in which the white establishment has worked to oppress Blacks is astounding. After the Civil War, when slavery was no longer legal, "whites realized that the combination of trumped-up legal charges and forced labor as punishment created both a desirable business proposition and an incredibly effective tool for intimidating rank-and-file emancipated African Americans and doing away with their most effective leaders."

Abu-Jamal states that, today, "where once whites killed and terrorized from beneath a KKK hood, now they now did so openly from behind a little badge." He details the killing of Black men and women in the U.S. with almost complete impunity.

There are two related issues Abu-Jamal discusses. The first is the rampant racism that enables the police to kill unarmed Blacks, as young as 12 years old, for no reason, and the second is the "justice" system that allows them to get away with it.

One shocking crime, amid countless others, occurred in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2012; a police officer was acquitted in the deaths of two, unarmed Blacks, after leaping onto the hood of their car and firing 15 rounds from his semi-automatic rifle into the car's occupants. That is 137 shots, at point blank range, into the bodies of two unarmed people.

If this were an anomaly, it would be barbaric, but it is not: it is common practice for the police to kill unarmed Blacks, and, on the rare occasions that they are charged with a crime, for the judges and juries to acquit them.

In the U.S., Black citizens are disproportionally imprisoned. With for-profit prisons on the rise, this injustice will only increase.

Abu-Jamal relates story after story with the same plot, and only the names are different. An unarmed Black man is stopped by the police for any of a variety of reasons ranging from trivial (broken tail light), to more significant (suspect in a robbery). But too often, the outcome is the same: the Black man is dead and the police officer who killed him, more often than not white, is either not charged, or acquitted after being charged.

The Black Lives Matter movement formed to combat this blatant injustice, but it will be an uphill battle. As Abu-Jamal says, "Police serve the ownership and wealth classes of their societies, not the middling or impoverished people. For the latter, it is quite the reverse." As a result, people of color suffer disproportionately, too often winding up on the wrong side of a gun.

What is to be done? Abu-Jamal refers to the writings of Dr. Huey P. Newton, who calls not for community policing, but for community control of the police. Abu-Jamal argues forcefully for a new movement, "driven by commitment, ethics, intelligence, solidarity, and passions; for without passion, the embers may dim and die."

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? is powerful, disturbing, well-written, and an important book for our day.

Robert Fantina is the author of Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy. His articles on foreign policy, most frequently concerning Israel and Palestine, have appeared in such venues as Counterpunch and WarIsaCrime.org.

New York Journal of Books, July 2017











Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:













September 11-17 
Topple white supremacy! 
Come to Durham Sept. 12
or host local actions

An informal alliance of national, regional and local organizations are pulling together a national call for a coordinated week of actions to topple white supremacy and state repression from Sept. 11-17, in the wake of events in Durham and Charlottesville. 

Tuesday, Sept. 12, will be the first court date for activists who allegedly toppled a Confederate statue in Durham, as well as the one-month anniversary of the righteous resistance to white supremacists in Charlottesville and the murder of anti-fascist protester Heather Heyer there. 

In Durham, Sheriff Mike Andrews has been attempting to intimidate the movement by targeting activists allegedly involved in toppling the statue on Aug. 14, and others involved in protesting at a planned Ku Klux Klan rally on Aug. 18. The activists who have been arrested so far have court dates on Sept. 12 and Oct. 11.

We are asking for folks who can to come to Durham for the 12th as well as organize local actions in their cities to protest monuments of white supremacy (whether they be statues, prisons, police brutality, etc). The vision is to spark hundreds of actions, and find hundreds of new organizers. 

Join us!   Sign on at

and list your action.

National Call to Action to Smash White Supremacy

In the wake of the violent attacks in Charlottesville by organized Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK, with complicity from the police, we are calling for organizations and individuals to join this call to smash white supremacy! 

Take action between Monday, Sept. 11th and Sunday, Sept. 17thfor Charlottesville, for Durham, for your own community such as rallies, marches, direct action, press conferences, teach-ins, etc.

Actions across the country have shown that now, more than ever, is the time to take bold and courageous action. We must act now to counter the rise and emboldening of white supremacists in our communities and in the state. 

Tuesday, Sept. 12th is the one-month anniversary of the the murder of anti-racist protester Heather Heyer. It is also the court date for the courageous young people in Durham, N.C., who pulled down a confederate monument in their city. On September 12th, organizers are mobilizing in defense of these arrestees and the Durham community. Will you join them by coming to Durham and/or planning a solidarity action in your city?

In Durham, Sheriff Mike Andrews has been attempting to intimidate the movement at large by targeting activists allegedly involved in toppling the statue on Aug. 14, and others involved in protesting at a planned Ku Klux Klan rally on Aug. 18. Andrews has been targeted by activists for allowing horrible conditions to continue at the Durham County Jail, where at least five people have died as a result and where, in the most recent outrage, prisoners are only allowed visits from their loved ones via video; and for his department's collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The struggle against white supremacy in all its forms is just! The events in Charlottesville, followed by the action in Durham that toppled the Confederate monument, are part of a growing movement to combat some of the most heinous, racist sections of far right that have been emboldened by Trump. In response, cities across the country have preemptively taken down Confederate monuments — not because these politicians want to "do the right thing," but because they fear rebellion and the strength of a united, multinational movement. 

In spite of this, Trump's bellicose attacks on our movement have continued — including the egregious pardoning of arch-racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio — providing an opening for the witchhunt by the Durham sheriff against anti-racist activists and for attacks from the far right. The days of action from September 11-17, both in Durham and around the country, will continue the march forward to tear down white supremacy.




Week of:  7 October 2017

It's time to resist!  TOGETHER!


For decades, determined activists around the world have been resisting occupation, militarism, and foreign bases on their lands.  Their struggles have been courageous and persistant.  Uniting our resistance into a global action for peace and justice will make our voices louder, our power stronger and more radiant. 

This fall, during the first week of October, we invite your organization to plan an anti-militarism action in your community as part of the first annual Global Action Against Military Bases. As we resist together to abolish war and stop the desecration of Mother Earth, we create a world where every human life has equal value and a safe environment in which to live. This is the beginning of an annual effort that will better unite our work and strengthen our connections with each other. Will you join us in this united effort to resist war?


On October 7, 2001, in response to the events on September 11, the United States and Great Britain launched the "Enduring Freedom" mission against Afghanistan. These military forces began their assault on a country already battered by the Soviet invasion and years of a devastating civil war. Following 9/11, a new doctrine of Permanent Global Warfare was established, and its destabilizing impacts have drastically worsened since that fateful day.

We live in an increasingly more volatile world with ever- expanding global wars. Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Libya, Mali, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan are just some of the hot spots. War has become a strategy for global domination. This perpetual state of war is having a devastating impact on our planet, impoverishing communities and forcing massive movements of people fleeing from war and environmental degradation.  

Today, in the Trump era, global warfare is intensifying rapidly. The US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreements accompanies a destructive energy policy that ignores science and eliminates environmental protections, with consequences that will fall heavily on the future of the planet and all who live on it. 

The use of such weapons as the MOAB, "the mother of all bombs," clearly shows the ever more brutal course of the White House. In this framework, the richest and most powerful country, which possesses 95% of the world's foreign military bases, regularly threatens military intervention against other major powers.  This pushes Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and other countries to grotesquely expand their own militaries, leading to worsening global tensions and instability.

It is time to unify all those around the world who oppose war. We must build a network of resistance to US bases, in solidarity with the many years of active resistance movements in Okinawa, South Korea, Italy, the Philippines, Guam, Germany, England, and elsewhere.

On October 7, 2001, the world's richest country began its perpetual military assault and occupation of Afghanistan, one of the world's poorest nations. We propose the week of October 7, 2017 as the first annual GLOBAL ACTION AGAINST MILITARY BASES. We invite all communities to organize solidarity actions and events sometime during the first or second week of October. Each community can independently organize a resistance that meets their own community's needs. We encourage community organizing meetings, debates, public speaking events, vigils, prayer groups, signature gathering, and direct actions. Each community can choose its own methods and locations of resistance: at military bases, embassies, government buildings, schools, libraries, public squares, etc. To make this possible, we need to work together as a united front, giving strength and visibility to every initiative. Together we ARE more powerful.

As Albert Einstein said: "War cannot be humanized. It can only be abolished." Will you join us?  Let's make this possible, together.

With the deepest respect,

First signatories

NoDalMolin (Vicenza – Italy)

NoMuos (Niscemi – Sicily – Italy)

SF Bay Area CODEPINK (S. Francisco – USA)

World Beyond War (USA)


Hambastagi (Solidarity Party of Afghanistan)

STOP the War Coalition (Phiilippines)

Environmentalists against War (USA)



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.






4 likeSolidarity Statement from the California Coalition for Women Prisoners




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. 





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.

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Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Packed Off to Florida!

Rashid: I'm off to Florida and a new phase of reprisals for publicizing abuses in US prisons

July 14, 2017

Readers are urged to share this story widely and write to Rashid right away; mail equals support, and the more he gets, the safer he'll be: Kevin Johnson, O-158039, RMC, P.O. Box 628, Lake Butler FL 32054

by Kevin 'Rashid' Johnson


Packed off to Florida

Following Texas prison officials planting a weapon in my cell on March 26, 2017, then stealing most of my personal property on April 6, 2017, in an ongoing pattern of retaliation for and attempts to repress my writing and involvement in litigation exposing and challenging abuses in Texas prisons, including their killing prisoners, I was unceremoniously packed off to the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) on June 22, 2017.

This transfer came as outside protests mounted against the abuses, and Texas officials became more and more entangled in a growing web of their own lies invented in their efforts to cover up and deny their reprisals against me, and also while a contempt investigation was imminent upon a motion I filed in a federal lawsuit brought by relatives of one of the prisoners they'd killed – a killing I'd witnessed and publicized.

Florida, notorious for its own extremely abusive prisons, readily signed on to take up Texas's slack. And being an openly corrupt system unaccustomed to concealing its dirt, FDC officials shot straight from the hip in expressing and carrying on efforts to repress and act out reprisals for my exposing and challenging prison abuses.

The Welcoming Committee

Following a four-hour flight from Texas to Florida, I was driven in a sweltering prison van from an airport just outside Jacksonville, Florida, to the FDC's Reception and Medical Center (RMC) in Lake Butler, Florida. I was forced to leave most all my personal property behind in Texas.

Upon reaching RMC, I was brought from the van, manacled hand and foot into an enclosed vehicle port, where I was met by a mob of white guards of all ranks. I was ordered to stand in a pair of painted yellow footprints on a concrete platform as the guards crowded around me.

I was ordered to stand in a pair of painted yellow footprints on a concrete platform as the guards crowded around me. "This is Florida, and we'll beat your ass! We'll kill you!" said the spokesman.

Their "chosen" spokesman, a tall goofy guard, R. Knight, stepped forward and launched into a speech consisting of threats and insults. He emphasized that I was "not in Virginia or wherever else" I'd been. That "this is Florida, and we'll beat your ass! We'll kill you!" He assured my "Black ass" that my tendency to protest "won't be tolerated here."

He went on and on, like an overseer explaining the plantation's code of decorum and the "place" to a newly arrived Black slave. The analogy is apt. "You will answer us only as 'no sir' and 'yes sir,' 'no ma'am' and 'yes ma'am.' You forget this and we'll kick your fucking teeth out," he barked.

I was then taken through the various stages of being "processed" in: fingerprinted, examined and questioned by medical staff etc. Knight took possession of my property and stole a number of documents and all my writing supplies (five writing tablets, four ink pens, 19 envelopes, stamps), all my hygiene supplies (deodorant, shampoo, two bars of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clippers) and so on.

All these items that I brought with me from Texas were inventoried and logged by Texas officials. Knight logged and inventoried me as receiving from him only my watch, some legal papers, 15 envelopes and my eyeglasses.

Next, I was taken into an office and sat before a Sgt. L. Colon, RMC's "gang (or STG, Security Threat Group) investigator." He proceeded in the same hostile terms. He explained that he knew all about me and his displeasure with my published articles about prison abuses, and he assured that FDC would put an end to it. He admitted his purpose was to put an STG profile on me, refer it to FDC's central office in Tallahassee to be upheld, and I would then be put on STG file, which in turn would be used to stop my writings.

He proceeded to ask about me being a "Black Panther leader" and, using a thoroughly amateur interrogation method, attempted to have me characterize myself and my party as a gang. When his efforts failed, he charged me with being a "bullshitter." I told him only that I am a member of a constitutionally protected, non-violent communist party and whatever false stigma he wanted to try and invent against me and us was typical of fascist governments and we'd address it publicly and in court. Our "interview" was terminated.

Another nurse did my medical history check, remarking that my blood pressure reading was extremely high, 145/103. Although she had all my medications sitting there in front of her, and I told her I had not received my dose that day, she refused to provide them and did nothing.

Upon arriving in Florida, I had not received my hypertension medications since the prior morning. The sweltering heat was aggravating my condition. During the intake process a routine blood pressure check was done and my reading was around 145/103. The nurse who did the reading passed me on to another nurse who did my medical history check, remarking that my reading was extremely high. Although she had all my medications sitting there in front of her, and I told her I had not received my dose that day, she refused to provide them and did nothing.

Barbaric housing

Following completing the intake process, I was walked a substantial distance across the prison yard carrying my bag of property in handcuffs and the sweltering midday heat, dizzy from my elevated blood pressure.

I was led to K-building, the solitary confinement unit, where I was put into a cell, K-3-102, which had no bunk in it and had a commode that had to be flushed by guards from outside the cell – often they would not flush it when it needed to be and I asked them to. The commode had otherwise been obviously left unflushed for long periods, because inside the bowl was and is a thick, yellowed layer of calcium and waste residue and it reeked of fermented urine and feces.

Just before I entered the cell, it was wet-mopped, not to sanitize it, but to cover the entire floor with water that would not, and did not, dry for over a day afterward due to the extreme humidity and lack of air circulation in the cells. There is no air conditioning in the cell blocks and, unlike in Texas, FDC prisoners may not have in-cell fans.

My cell was infested with ants which would find their way into my bed as I slept on the floor. I received numerous bites from them and I believe also roaches that frequently crawled into the cell. At night, in the pitch black cells – and even when the lights were on – mice and huge, two-inch-long cockroaches, along with the "regular" smaller breed of roaches, ran into and explored the cell.

My cell was infested with ants which would find their way into my bed as I slept on the floor. I received numerous bites from them. At night, even when the lights were on, mice and huge, two-inch-long cockroaches, along with the "regular" smaller breed of roaches, ran into and explored the cell.

The K-building lieutenant, Jason Livingston, posted a special note outside my cell door stating I was on a heightened security status, that I and the cell were to be specially searched any time I exited or entered the cell, that I was to be specially restrained and the ranking guards had to accompany me to and from any destination outside the cell. The pretense was that I was an extreme physical threat.

I was denied my hypertension medications until I briefly fell unconscious on the evening of June 24, 2017.

Following sending word out to an attorney and others about my conditions and experiences, who apparently raised complaints on my behalf, I was moved to a "regular" cell, K-1-204, on June 30, 2017, with a bunk and a commode I can flush. I was repeatedly confronted by various guards who've commented that I'm no dangerous person and they don't understand why I've been profiled or treated as though I am.

A week later FDC officials would come clean, exposing on the record their actual motives for my mistreatment, and "special" security status.

Solitary confinement for publicizing abuses

My readers and others will recall when, in January 2017, I was given a disciplinary infraction by Texas officials for a statement I wrote about suffering their abuses that was published online. When confronted about such retaliatory acts by a PBS reporter, Ms. Kamala Kelkar, TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark initially lied, denying that I received any such infractions, until Ms. Kelkar emailed him a copy of the charge I'd received. He then suddenly changed his story, lying yet again to claim the infraction had been overturned, then declined to answer any further questions.[i]

Clark knew enough to deny and try to cover up such acts of retaliation against a prisoner exercising his right to freedom of speech. Florida officials, however, have come right out admitting and exposing such actions.[ii]

On July 6, 2017, I was confronted by RMC classification officer Jeremy Brown, who notified me that I am to be formally reviewed for placement on Close Management I status, which is the FDC's name for solitary confinement. The reason he gave for this review was the exact STG pretext Sgt. L. Colon told me on my first day was going to be created to justify suppressing my writings about prison abuses.

Brown served me written notification stating my CMI review was based upon my alleged "documented leadership in a Security Threat Group that is certified by the Threat Assessment Review Committee in Central Office." Remember, this is the very same illegal basis upon which California prison officials were indefinitely throwing prisoners in solitary confinement which prompted three historic mass prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013 and was abolished upon the settlement of a class action lawsuit against the practice in 2015.

My assignment to solitary confinement is for "documented leadership in a Security Threat Group" … This is the very same illegal basis upon which California prison officials were indefinitely throwing prisoners in solitary confinement which prompted three historic mass prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013 and was abolished upon the settlement of a class action lawsuit against the practice in 2015.

But FDC officials went much further in supporting "comments" to state their true motives for devising to put me in solitary and for my mistreatment up to that point.

As Colon had threatened, an STG label was invented against the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, a party about which Colon admitted he and the FDC had no prior knowledge. The reason the party was designated an STG and gang was because (get this!) I'd written articles while in Oregon and Texas prison systems that were published online about abuses in the prisons which generated concern and perfectly legal protests from the public, which was characterized as my gang following that "caused disruption in the orderly operations" of the prisons.

The notice went on to admit, as I've long contended in my writings, that these writings are the actual reason I've been transferred from state to state – illegal retaliatory transfers – which was characterized as STG activities.

Passing mention was made that I'd received disciplinary infractions while in Oregon and Texas, but no attempt was made to show those infractions bore any connection to my party affiliation. In fact, those who have followed my writings and the series of official reprisals – which is now being admitted by FDC officials – know those infractions were fabricated retaliations, many of which I was prevented from contesting.

So, according to FDC officials, I am a confirmed gang leader because I publicize prison abuses through articles that are posted online and my gang members and followers are members of the public who read my articles and make complaints and inquiries of officials, which acts are characterized as presenting disruptions to prison operations – or in other words throwing a monkey wrench in their business-as-usual abuses.

According to FDC officials, I am a confirmed gang leader because I publicize prison abuses through articles that are posted online and my gang members and followers are members of the public who read my articles and make complaints and inquiries of officials, which acts are characterized as presenting disruptions to prison operations.

For this I am to be thrown into solitary, which means any future posting and publishing of writings by me about prison abuses will be characterized as my continuing to engage in STG or gang activities, and any legal public protests as my gang members threatening prison security.

I didn't make this up, it's all in writing; read it HERE (scroll down to "SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS"). This is where taxpayers' monies are going in financing these ubiquitous gang busting units. And should you protest, you will be labelled a gangster yourself. I won't belabor the point.

Dare to struggle, Dare to win!

All Power to the People!

[i] Kamala Kelkar, "Resistence Builds Against Social Media Ban in Texas Prisons," PBS NewsHour Weekend, Jan. 29, 2017, 5:23 p.m. EST

Send our brother some love and light – and share this urgent story widely. The more people who write to him now, the safer he'll be: Kevin Johnson, O-158039, RMC, 7765 S. Cr. 231, P.O. Box 628, Lake Butler FL 32054.











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














        1)  Handling of Police Killing Spurs Grand Jury Inquiry Into Prosecutor

         SEPT. 1, 2017




        ALBANY — The New York State attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, intends to impanel a grand jury this month to investigate a district attorney in relation to the fatal police shooting in Troy, N.Y., of an unarmed motorist in 2016.

        The investigation concerns Joel Abelove, the district attorney in Rensselaer County, regarding his actions in the death of Edson Thevenin, a 37-year-old man who was shot and killed by the policeduring a traffic stop last April.

        Mr. Thevenin, who was black, was shot after a brief, hectic car chase as the police investigated him for possible drunken driving. The chase ended after a Troy police sergeant, Randall French, was pinned between his cruiser and Mr. Thevenin's vehicle, according to police accounts; the officer then shot at Mr. Thevenin eight times, killing him. Supporters of the sergeant's actions that night have suggested that Mr. Thevenin's car effectively acted as a weapon in the incident.

        Shortly after the episode, Mr. Abelove presented evidence to a grand jury in the case, which declined to bring charges against the sergeant. But Mr. Schneiderman protested that decision and sued Mr. Abelove, saying that the Rensselaer prosecutor had usurped the authority of the state attorney general, violating a 2015 executive order from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that gave Mr. Schneiderman's office the power to investigate police-related shootings of unarmed civilians.

        That order came after a series of cases in the state and nationwide in which police use of force was being questioned, particularly against black men, including the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island.

        The grand jury will be asked to consider both Mr. Abelove's actions in relation to the shooting, as well as the circumstances of the shooting itself, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation. Mr. Schneiderman's office declined to comment on the case.

        Mr. Abelove is the first district attorney to be the subject of a criminal grand jury by Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat.

        Since Mr. Thevenin's death, the case has continued to dog Mr. Abelove, a Republican, and the City of Troy, about 10 miles northeast of Albany. Last September, Mr. Thevenin's widow, Cinthia, filed suit in federal court against Sgt. French and the city. The city has argued that Mr. Thevenin's own carelessness, recklessness and negligence caused his death.

        In February, the governor signed an order specifically permitting the attorney general's investigation of Mr. Thevenin's death. A month later, Mr. Abelove's cellphone was seized by Mr. Schneiderman's office, according to The Times Union of Albany, which also reported the impaneling of the grand jury on Friday.

        John W. Bailey, a lawyer for Mr. Abelove, said the district attorney had requested to speak to the grand jury, which he expected to sit in late September. "We sincerely hope that this is a very careful and thoughtful look at what exactly happened," Mr. Bailey said. "We're hoping that the A.G. is convening a grand jury to look at the entire situation."

        Since the governor's 2015 executive order, Mr. Schneiderman's office has investigated 11 cases in which law enforcement officers have caused the death of an unarmed civilian, according to an August report. As a result, one police officer has been charged, in the 2016 death of Delrawn Small in Brooklyn, and five other cases remain under investigation. Five cases have been closed with no action.



        2) What the Media isn't Telling You About North Korea's Missile Tests

        Here's what the media isn't telling you about North Korea's recent missile tests.

        Last Monday, the DPRK fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan's Hokkaido Island. The missile landed in the waters beyond the island harming neither people nor property.

        The media immediately condemned the test as a "bold and provocative act"  that showed the North's defiance of UN resolutions and "contempt for its neighbors." President Trump sharply criticized the missile test saying:

        "Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table."

        What the media failed to mention was that,  for the last three weeks, Japan, South Korea and the US have been engaged in large-scale joint-military drills on Hokkaido Island and in South Korea. These needlessly provocative war games are designed to simulate an invasion of North Korea and a "decapitation" operation to remove (Re: Kill)  the regime. North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un has asked the US repeatedly to end these military exercises, but the US has stubbornly refused. The US reserves the right to threaten anyone, anytime and anywhere even right on their doorstep. It's part of what makes the US exceptional. Check out this excerpt from an article at Fox News:

        "More than 3,500 American and Japanese troops kicked off a weeks-long joint military exercise Thursday against the backdrop of an increasingly belligerent North Korean regime. The exercise, known as Northern Viper 17, will take place on Hokkaido — Japan's northern-most main island — and will last until Aug. 28….

        "We are improving our readiness not only in the air, but as a logistical support team," Col. R. Scott Jobe, the 35th Fighter Wing commander, said in a statement. "We are in a prime location for contingency purposes and this exercise will only build upon our readiness in the case a real-world scenario occurs." (US, Japanese troops begin joint military exercise amid North Korea threat", Fox News)

        Monday's missile test (which flew over Hokkaido Island) was conducted just hours after the war games ended. The message was clear: The North is not going to be publicly humiliated and slapped around without responding. Rather than show weakness, the North demonstrated that it was prepared to defend itself against foreign aggression. In other words, the test was NOT a  "bold and provocative act" (as the media stated) but a modest and well thought-out  response by a country that has experienced 64 years of relentless hectoring, sanctions, demonization and saber rattling by Washington. The North responded because the Washington's incitements required a response. End of story.

        And the same is true of the three short-range ballistic missiles  the North tested last week. (two of which apparently fizzled out shortly after launching.)  These tests were a response to the 3 week-long joint-military drills in South Korea which involved  75,000 combat troops  accompanied by hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, landing craft, heavy artillery, a full naval flotilla and flyovers by squadrons of state of the art fighters and strategic bombers.  Was the North supposed to sit on its hands while this menacing display of brute military force took place right under its nose???

        Of course not. Imagine if Russia engaged in a similar operation over the border in Mexico while the Russian fleet conducted "live fire" drills three miles outside of San Francisco Bay. What do you think Trump's reaction would be?

        He'd blow those boats out of the water faster than you could say "Jackie Robinson", right?

        So why the double standard when it comes to North Korea? Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

        North Korea should be applauded for showing that it won't be intimidated by the schoolyard bully. Kim knows that any confrontation with the US will end badly for the North, even so, he hasn't caved in or allowed himself to be pushed around by the blustering, browbeating thugs in the White House. Booyah, Kim.

        By the way, Trump's response to Monday's missile test was barely covered in the mainstream media, and for good reason. Here's what happened two days later:

        On Wednesday,  a US-led flight-group of  F-35B fighters, F-15 fighters and B-1B bombers conducted military operations over a training range east of Seoul. The B-1B's, which are low-altitude nuclear bombers, dropped their dummy-bombs on the site and then returned to their home base. The show of force was intended to send a message to Pyongyang that Washington is unhappy with the North's ballistic missile testing project and is prepared to use nuclear weapons against the North if it fails to heed Washington's diktats.

        So Washington is prepared to nuke the North if they don't straighten up and do as they are told?

        It sure looks that way, but who really knows?  In any event, Kim has no choice but to stand firm. If he shows any sign of weakness, he knows he's going to end up like Saddam and Gaddafi. And that, of course, is what's driving the hyperbolic rhetoric; the North wants to avoid the Gaddafi scenario at all cost. (BTW, the reason Kim has threatened to fire missiles at the waters surrounding Guam is because Guam is the home of Anderson Airforce Base which is the point-of-origin for the B-1B nuclear-capable bombers that have been making threatening flyovers on the Korean Peninsula for some time now. The North feels like it has to respond to that existential threat.

        Wouldn't it help if the media mentioned that fact or does it better serve their agenda to make it look like Kim is barking mad by lashing out against the 'totally innocent' United States, a country that only seeks to preserve the peace wherever it goes?

        Give me a break!

        It is so hard to find anything in the media that doesn't reflect Washington's bias and hostility. Surprisingly, there was  pretty decent article at CBS News last week written by a former Western intelligence officer with decades of experience in Asia. It's the only article I've found that accurately explains what's  really going on beyond the propaganda. Check it out:

        "Prior to President Trump's inauguration, North Korea made it clear it was prepared to give the new U.S. administration time to review the policy and come up with something better than President Obama's.  The only wrinkle was that if the U.S. went full-steam ahead with its annual joint exercises with South Korea (especially if that were accompanied by more talk of "decapitation" and more flights of strategic bombers over the Korean peninsula), the North would react strongly.

        In short, the U.S. did, and the North reacted.

        Behind-the-scenes contacts went up and down, but couldn't get traction.  In April, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un paraded new missiles as a warning, to no effect.  The regime launched the new systems, one after another.  Still, Washington's approach didn't change." (Analysis: Pyongyang's view of the North Korea-U.S. crisis", CBS News)

        Okay, so now we know the truth: The North gave it their best shot and came up snakeeyes, mainly because Washington doesn't want to negotiate, they'd rather twist arms (Russia and China), tighten the embargo and threaten war. That's Trump's solution. Here's more from the same piece:

        "On July 4, after North Korea's first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch, Kim sent a public signal that the North could put the nuclear and missile programs "on the table" if the U.S. changed its approach.

        The U.S. did not, so the North launched another ICBM, very deliberately deeming it a warning to the U.S. that they were to be taken seriously. Still, more B-1 bombers flew over the Peninsula, and the U.N. Security Council passed new sanctions." (CBS News)

        So, the North was ready to do some serious horse-trading, but the US balked. Kim probably heard what a wheeler dealer Trump was and figured they could work something out. But it hasn't happen.  Trump has turned out to be a bigger bust than Obama, which is pretty bad.  He not only refuses to negotiate but he also delivers bellicose threats almost every day. This isn't what the North was expecting. They were expecting a   "non interventionist" leader who might be receptive to a trade-off.

        The current situation has left Kim with no good options. He can either cave in and terminate his missile program altogether or increase the frequency of the tests and hope that they pave the way for negotiations.   Kim chose the latter.

        Did he make a bad choice?


        Is it a rational choice?


        The North is betting that its nuclear weapons programs will be valuable bargaining chits in future negotiations with the United States. The North has no plan to nuke the west coast of the United States.  That's ridiculous! That doesn't accomplish anything. What they want is to preserve their regime,  procure security guarantees from Washington,  lift the embargo,  normalize relations with the South,  extricate the US from the political affairs of the peninsula, and (hopefully) end the irritating and endlessly provocative 64 year US occupation. Yankee go home. Please.

        Bottom line: The North is ready to deal. They want negotiations. They want to end the war. They want to put this whole nightmare behind them and get on with their lives. But Washington won't let them because Washington likes the status quo. Washington wants to be a permanent feature in South Korea so it can encircle Russia and China with lethal missile systems and expand its geopolitical grip bringing the world closer to nuclear Armageddon.

        That's what Washington wants, and that's why the crisis on the peninsula will continue to boil.



        3)  Trump Moves to End DACA and Calls on Congress to Act

         SEPT. 5, 2017



        WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to the Obama-era executive action that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation and called on Congress to replace the policy with legislation before it fully expires on March 5, 2018.

        The government will no longer accept new applications from undocumented immigrants to shield them from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, administration officials announced Tuesday. But officials said about 800,000 current beneficiaries of the program will not be immediately affected by what they called an "orderly wind down" of former President Barack Obama's policy.

        President Trump signaled the move early Tuesday morning in a tweet, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally announced the move to shift the responsibility for the immigration issue to lawmakers.

        "The program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded," Mr. Sessions told reporters, adding that "The policy was implemented unilaterally, to great controversy and legal concern."

        Mr. Sessions called the Obama-era policy an "open-ended circumvention of immigration laws" and an unconstitutional use of executive authority. "The executive branch through DACA deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions," he said.

        "The nation must set and enforce a limit on how many immigrants we accept each year, and that means all cannot be accepted."

        Elaine Duke, the acting Homeland Security secretary, said in a statement that Mr. Trump chose to "wind the program down in an orderly fashion that protects beneficiaries in the near-term while working with Congress to pass legislation."

        The announcement was an effort by Mr. Trump to honor his campaign pledge to end Mr. Obama's immigration policy, while avoiding an immediate termination of protections and work permits for the so-called "dreamers," many of whom have lived in the United States since they were small children.

        "We are people of compassion, and we are people of law, but there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration law," Mr. Sessions said.

        Referring to Mr. Trump's campaign promise to immediately terminate DACA, Mr. Sessions said Tuesday's action was what "the president had promised to do," adding that Mr. Trump "has delivered to the American people."

        But the announcement formally started the clock on revoking legal status from those protected under the five-year-old program.

        Officials said some of the current immigrants already receiving protection under the Obama-era plan will be able to renew their two-year period of legal status until October 5. But the announcement means that if Congress fails to act, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children could face deportation as early as March to countries where many of them have never lived.

        Immigration officials said that they do not intend to actively target the young immigrants as priorities for deportation, though without the program's protection, the immigrants are considered subject to removal from the United States and would no longer be able to work legally.

        Homeland Security officials said no specific guidance would be issued to agents to shield the young undocumented immigrants from deportation. It would be up to Congress to extend such protection, they said.

        Still, the president was conflicted until the end about how to address the plight of dreamers, waffling repeatedly in recent days about how to phase out the program.

        As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind, according to a person familiar with their thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity without authorization to comment on it.

        Mr. Trump's action is certain to be met with condemnation from immigration advocacy groups, who have characterized it as a coldhearted move that would yield no benefit to the nation while endangering nearly a million young people raised in the United States who are seeking to work and pay taxes.

        One such group, United We Dream, tweeted back at Mr. Trump Tuesday morning, urging him not to take action against DACA.

        The president's move is also likely to be greeted with skepticism and frustration by many of his most conservative supporters, who had expected that Mr. Trump would put a permanent end to what they view as an illegal abuse of executive authority by former President Barack Obama to grant amnesty to undocumented immigrants.

        And it is unclear whether the Republican-controlled Congress will be willing to pass legislative protections for the young, undocumented immigrants. Republicans have repeatedly blocked similar legislation from passage for more than a decade.

        Speaker Paul D. Ryan recently suggested that he believes Congress should handle the issue, saying that "this is something that Congress has to fix."

        But more conservative members of Mr. Ryan's caucus are certain to oppose such moves, supported by loud, anti-immigrant hawks who dominate talk radio and conservative news programs.

        Even in the bitter immigration debates of the past decade, children who were illegally brought to the United States at young ages by their parents, and who graduated from high school or sought to enter the military, have held a sympathetic place in the conversation.

        They were branded as Dreamers for their inspiring personal stories and regarded by members of both parties as deserving of a special status. Opinion polls have found the public overwhelmingly supports granting them some form of legal standing that allows them to stay and work in the country where they were raised.

        Mr. Trump, who made his hard-line immigration stance a calling card of his presidential campaign, savaged Mr. Obama for taking executive action in 2012 to protect Dreamers, calling his action unconstitutional and illegal, and vowing to immediately terminate the program if he won the White House.

        But Mr. Obama made a personal appeal to his successor about the program and said it was one of the few initiatives he would speak out to defend after leaving office. And after being sworn in, Mr. Trump began to equivocate, musing aloud about the fate of "these incredible kids," and promising to deal with them with "great heart" even as his core supporters complained that he was betraying an important campaign promise.

        In recent weeks, his dilemma has grown more dramatic, after 10 state attorneys general wrote to Mr. Sessions, threatening to mount a legal challenge to DACA unless the administration phased out the program by Sept. 5. In a recent meeting at the White House, Mr. Sessions informed Mr. Trump he would not defend what he considered an unconstitutional order in court, according to people familiar with the conversation, and numerous officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security made the case to the president that his administration would look foolish if it argued in favor of preserving it.

        In June, the administration ended a similar program Mr. Obama created in 2014 to expand eligibility for DACA and give legal status to as many as five million parents of citizens and legal permanent residents. That order was blocked by a legal challenge by the State of Texas, and the Supreme Court announced last year that it had deadlocked on the case, 4 to 4.

        The attorneys general said if Mr. Trump did not take similar action to terminate DACA, they would amend the Texas lawsuit to include it and work to have a court overturn the program along with the other two.

        As rumors about Mr. Trump's impending move to end DACA ran rampant in recent days, advocacy groups and progressive activists agitated strongly against the decision, warning that it would be particularly divisive in the wake of the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Va., last month.



        4) Houston and a Humanitarian Society

        Our collective response to the Houston tragedy is proof that greed and capitalism aren't the only ways to run society

        By Paul Buchheit

        AlterNet, September 4, 2017


        In the worst moments of the tragedy in Houston, something remarkable about America burst into view, as government, business, military, and especially ordinary citizens put aside thoughts of personal gain and dedicated themselves to the needs of their fellow human beings and their animals.

        People in Texas and around the nation pitched in, through their labors and donations: neighbors and first responders saved lives; the Red Cross and other charitable organizations, including local churches, brought food, supplies and medicine to hurricane victims; many GoFundMe initiatives were set up; the business community (especially furniture man Jim McIngvale) donated their goods and services; government officials remained focused on the people they were elected to represent; and even the military contributed with rescue helicopters. No one seemed to care about the skin color, religion or politics of those in need. 

        The empathy and cooperative spirit—some might call it socialism—that gripped America was delightful to behold. But soon, we return to reality. 

        Capitalism has no incentive to help the poor, the victims of disaster, or even children 

        The New York Times summarized, "The free market often does a terrible job of providing basic services to the poor—see, for instance, the lack of grocery stores and banks in many low-income neighborhoods."

        It is we the taxpayers who support the children, elderly and disabled who make up the great majority of the recipients of life-sustaining programs. The business world has little incentive to safeguard the population against pollution and industrial poisons, or to maintain infrastructure in the inner cities and rural townships, or to make sure everyone has the opportunity for a living-wage job. And except for brief surges of generosity after cataclysmic events, big corporations have little incentive to provide for the long-term well-being of people struck down by catastrophe. Large corporations also avoid many of the taxes needed to fund federal disaster programs. 

        Perhaps worst of all, there is little capitalist motivation to secure the lives of children. Righteous conservatives rally behind the unborn, but say little about the excessive deaths of children being born in the U.S. Our infant mortality rate is among the highest in the developed world.

        The disregard for the lives of children reflects a disdain for poor women in America: their children are more likely to die than poor mothers in other countries. 

        How capitalism kills 

        Drugs and depression: As the pharmaceutical industry keeps pushing opioids, Americans are suffering "deaths of despair" from drugs, alcohol and suicide. One out of every six Americans has taken a psychiatric drug such as an antidepressant or sedative in the past year. About 75 percent of heroin addicts used prescription opioids before turning to heroin, which is killing people at a rate three times greater than just seven years ago.

        Americans are also dying from alcoholism at a record rate. Suicide is at its highest level in 30 years.

        Job stress 

        The suicide rate is also clearly linked to unemployment and deteriorating work conditions, especially since the 2008 recession. 

        Dirty air and water 

        By one estimate, fossil fuels kill more people around the world every year than wars, murders and traffic accidents combined. Up to 4.5 million deaths each year are linked to our carbon-intensive economy. 

        Killing the public trust 

        The public response to the devastation in Houston shows the perseverance and efficiency of people working together for a common purpose. The same should be encouraged in public education, health care and affordable housing.

        Instead, we have profit-seekers promoting forms of "school choice" that eliminate the poorest and neediest students, while draining money from the public system, even as state governments continue to cut school funding. We have a privatized healthcare system that spends more and performs more poorly than most other developed countries. We have hardly any places in the U.S. where a working-class family can afford housing, and yet the federal housing budget is targeted for a cutback. 

        In capitalist America, we even face the absurdity of proposed budget cuts for FEMA and National Flood Insurance, both of immeasurable importance after Hurricane Harvey, and inevitably to the victims of future natural disasters. 

        Despite the overwhelmingly caring and cooperative response to the Houston tragedy, we face the continuing absurdity of a winner-take-all capitalist system trying to convince us that the words "public" and "social" are somehow un-American. That is twisted thinking. America at its best is a community of people working together without visions of dollar signs in their eyes. 

        Paul Buchheit is the author of Disposable Americans (2017). He is an advocate for social and economic justice. His essays, videos, and poems can be found at YouDeserveFacts.org.

        AlterNet, September 4, 2017




        5) Capitalism, the State and the Drowning of America

        —Counter Punch, September 8, 2017


        As Hurricane Harvey lashed Texas, Naomi Klein wasted no time in diagnosing the "real root causes" behind the disaster, indicting "climate pollution, systemic racism, underfunding of social services, and overfunding of police." A day after her essay appeared, George Monbiot argued that no one wants to ask the tough questions about the coastal flooding spawned during Hurricane Harvey because to do so would be to challenge capitalism—a system wedded to "perpetual growth on a finite planet"—and call into question the very foundations of "the entire political and economic system."

        Of the two choices, I vote for Monbiot's interpretation. Nearly forty years ago, the historian Donald Worster in his classic study of one of the worst natural disasters in world history, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, wrote that capitalism, which he understood as an economic culture founded on maximizing imperatives and a determination to treat nature as a form of capital, "has been the decisive factor in this nation's use of nature."

        Care must be taken not to imagine capitalism as a timeless phenomenon. Capitalism has a history and that history is important if we are to properly diagnose what happened recently in Texas and is about to happen as Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida. What we need to understand is how capitalism has managed to reproduce itself since the Great Depression, but in a way that has put enormous numbers of people and tremendous amounts of property in harm's way along the stretch from Texas to New England.

        The production of risk began during the era of what is sometimes called regulated capitalism between the 1930s and the early 1970s. This form of capitalism with a "human face" involved state intervention to ensure a modicum of economic freedom but it also led the federal government to undertake sweeping efforts to control nature. The motives may well have seemed pure. But the efforts to control the natural world, though they worked in the near term, are beginning to seem inadequate to the new world we currently inhabit. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built reservoirs to control floods in Houston just as it built other water-control structures during the same period in New Orleans and South Florida. These sweeping water-control exploits laid the groundwork for massive real estate development in the post–World War II era.

        All along the coast from Texas to New York and beyond developers plowed under wetlands to make way for more building and more impervious ground cover. But the development at the expense of marsh and water could never have happened on the scale it did without the help of the American state. Ruinous flooding of Houston in 1929 and 1935 compelled the Corps of Engineers to build the Addicks and Barker Dams. The dams combined with a massive network of channels—extending today to over 2,000 miles—to carry water off the land, and allowed Houston, which has famously eschewed zoning, to boom during the postwar era.

        The same story unfolded in South Florida. A 1947 hurricane caused the worst coastal flooding in a generation and precipitated federal intervention in the form of the Central and Southern Florida Project. Again, the Corps of Engineers set to work transforming the land. Eventually a system of canals that if laid end to end would extend all the way from New York City to Las Vegas crisscrossed the southern part of the peninsula. Life for the more than five million people who live in between Orlando and Florida Bay would be unimaginable without this unparalleled exercise in the control of nature.

        It is not simply that developers bulldozed wetlands with reckless abandon in the postwar period. The American state paved the way for that development by underwriting private accumulation.

        Concrete was the capitalist state's favored medium. But as the floods mounted in the 1960s, it turned to non-structural approaches meant to keep the sea at bay. The most famous program along these lines was the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) established in 1968, a liberal reform that grew out of the Great Society. The idea was that the federal government would oversee a subsidized insurance program for homeowners and in return state and local municipalities would impose regulations to keep people and property out of harm's way.

        At the same time that the U.S. government launched the NFIP, a Keynesian crisis that would extend over the course of the next decade-and-a-half began to unfold. Declining corporate profits were brought on by rising wages, mounting class conflict, escalating competition from Japan and western Europe, and increased consumer and environmental regulation. The profit squeeze combined with stagflation and widespread fiscal problems to produce major economic dislocation.

        A new form of capitalism began to slowly emerge as business responded to the crisis. Major institutional change occurred in the global economy, in the relationship between capital and labor, and most important for our concerns here, in the state's role in economic life. In the early 1970s the Business Roundtable was established as a corporate lobbying group. Among its tasks was to undermine various forms of consumer and environmental regulation.

        This was the context for the assault on the liberal flood insurance program. By the 1990s, under the Clinton Administration, the pretense of regulating land use on the local level was all but dismissed in favor of a policy that simply encouraged localities to do the right thing to ensure the safety of people and property. It is not an accident that one of the worst-hit developments in Houston—southern Kingwood—was built in the last years of the twentieth century and the aughts right in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's designated 100-year floodplain.

        Nor is there anything the least bit natural in how cities in the postwar United States have functioned as profitable sites for capital accumulation. Developers have been able to derive profits from capitalist urbanization in coastal locations because of what was effectively a giant subsidy by the American state.

        Flirtation with disaster is, in a sense, the essence of neoliberal capitalism, a hyperactive form of this exploitative economic order that seems to know no limits. Some might find comfort in the words of Alexander Cockburn: "A capitalism that thrives best on the abnormal, on disasters, is by definition in decline."

        Others, myself included, worry that the current organization of this market economy to benefit the interests of capitalists, with its blind, utopian faith in the price mechanism, is likely to head in precisely the direction that the economic historian Karl Polanyi predicted in 1944. An institutional arrangement organized around a "self-adjusting market," he warned, "could not exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society; it would have physically destroyed man and transformed his surroundings into a wilderness."

        Ted Steinberg teaches history at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America.



        6)  Activists disrupt entry of Israeli weapons to London arms fair

        Asa Winstanley Activism and BDS Beat 6 September 2017



        Protesters attempted to stop Israeli weapons entering a massive arms fair in London on Monday.

        Activists are this week protesting the event as it sets up shop. The conference showcases the arms industries of countries all over the world, including notorious human rights abusers like Saudi Arabiaand Israel.

        The Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition, or DSEI – which advertises itself as "the world leading" arms industry fair – opens for business next week.

        Amnesty International and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have both called for the event to be scrapped.

        On Monday, activists carrying Palestinian flags and banners delayed the entry of trucks into the ExCel Centre, where the event is held.

        "Illegal and immoral"

        The Campaign Against the Arms Trade, or CAAT, reported that some activist even boarded one of the trucks, attempting to stop it proceeding.

        According to CAAT, the truck was carrying a military vehicle know as a SandCatmade by the Israeli company Plasan.

        The group said police arrested eight people on Monday. The activists were released later in the day but it is not clear if they will be prosecuted.

        Protester Sarah Wilkinson told The Electronic Intifada that she had been supporting Palestine for nearly 40 years. She said the British government should "stop supporting Israel" and its "illegal and immoral" actions. "It's our duty to be there to protest for Palestine," she said.

        On Tuesday, disruptions continued, with some activists suspending themselves from a bridge, intending to block a road leading to the arms fair.

        CAAT said that 15 more protesters were arrested on Tuesday.

        "Shut it down"

        Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade said of the the arms fair that it was "time to shut it down for good."

        The London fair "will bring many of the world's most appalling regimes together with the biggest arms companies," Smith added. "Right now UK fighter jets and bombs are playing a central role in the destruction of Yemen; what will be the next atrocity they are used in?"

        According to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, past DSEI events have attracted military delegations from abusive regimes including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Bahrain.

        Like other Israeli arms firms, Plasan advertises its weapons as "field proven" – in other words they have been tested on Palestinians.

        The firm is based in Sasa, a kibbutz established on the land of a destroyed Palestinian village in the Galilee.

        In 1948, Zionist militias attacked the village, forcing out the population in an orgy of destruction that killed dozens.

        According to right-wing Israeli historian Benny Morris, the Israeli forces committed "atrocities" against the civilian population.

        Kibbutz Sasa – named after the Palestinian village it erased – was established in 1949 as a Jews-only colony by the supposedly "socialist" Hashomer Hatzair Zionist movement.



        7)  Review Board Recommends Stiffest Punishment for Officer in Garner Case

         SEPT. 8, 2017



        A New York City agency that investigates police misconduct has found that the officer who put his arm around the neck of Eric Garner before his death did use a chokehold and restricted Mr. Garner's breathing, a person familiar with the case said on Friday.

        The findings, reported earlier Friday by Rolling Stone, represent an oversight body's first formal attempt to seek discipline for the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, in the three years since Mr. Garner died as a result of the violent arrest on a Staten Island sidewalk. But the disciplinary process will now enter another standstill because the Police Department says it will not hold an administrative trial on the allegations until the United States Department of Justice decides whether the officers involved in the case violated Mr. Garner's civil rights.

        The city agency, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, recommended the stiffest punishment against Officer Pantaleo: departmental charges that could lead to suspension or dismissal. Officer Pantaleo was notified of the recommendation last week. The person familiar with the case requested anonymity to speak about confidential disciplinary matters.

        Mr. Garner, 43, was standing outside a beauty supply shop in July 2014 when Officer Pantaleo and his partner, Justin Damico, confronted Mr. Garner and accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes. A cellphone camera held by a friend of Mr. Garner recorded Officer Pantaleo using a chokehold, a tactic prohibited by the Police Department, to subdue him.

        Mr. Garner's final words — "I can't breathe" — would soon be repeated by protesters around the country. The death of Mr. Garner, who was black, and the role of Officer Pantaleo, who is white, became part of a national outcry over the deaths of unarmed black men during confrontations with the police.

        The city medical examiner found that Mr. Garner died from a chokehold and the compression of his chest by police officers. A state grand jury on Staten Island decided not to bring charges in December 2014.

        Officer Pantaleo's lawyer, Stuart London, said he would not comment on the allegations until the Department of Justice completed its civil rights investigation. He said review board investigators did not ask to interview Officer Pantaleo.

        The review board also declined to comment. Citing a state civil rights law, New York City has recently argued that the disciplinary records of officers should be kept secret. A review board employee was forced to resign this year after releasing Officer Pantaleo's earlier disciplinary history.

        Mr. Garner's widow, Esaw Snipes, said someone in her family recently received a letter from the review board telling them of the findings. Ms. Snipes said the investigation should have been completed much sooner. Ultimately, she said, it was most important to her family that Officer Pantaleo face criminal charges. Mr. Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, who had not been informed of the review board's findings, said the Police Department should fire Officer Pantaleo and he should serve prison time.

        It was not clear what the review board had determined, if anything, about the actions of other officers or sergeants involved in Mr. Garner's arrest. Witnesses said supervisors struggled to gain control at the scene.

        Despite taking three years, the review board's findings effectively reiterated what the police commissioner at the time, William J. Bratton, said of Officer Pantaleo's actions shortly after Mr. Garner's death: "As defined in the department's patrol guide, this would appear to have been a chokehold."

        But the review board's findings only begin what could be a second, yearslong process of bringing the case before a Police Department administrative judge. Such proceedings can often take a protracted amount of time. In another high-profile case, an officer who tackled the retired tennis player James Blake in Manhattan has not gone to trial, almost two years after the review board found that the officer had used excessive force.

        Those delays are part of the reason police reform advocates say the victims of police brutality have lost trust in the city's process for adjudicating complaints against officers. Those advocates have also urged the Police Department to move forward with its disciplinary process against Officer Pantaleo before the federal investigation is finished, citing an earlier case in which the department took action against an officer while a criminal inquiry continued.

        Review board lawyers typically prosecute those cases in which they recommend the most serious discipline. But the police commissioner, James P. O'Neill, can take back jurisdiction and instead have department lawyers handle some of those cases, including cases in which there is a related criminal investigation. Commissioner O'Neill has the final say on any discipline.

        The Police Department has disregarded the review board's recommendations in chokehold cases in the past. A 2015 report by the Inspector General for the Police Department, part of the city Department of Investigation, found that police lawyers frequently softened the review board's recommended punishments and kept chokehold cases from going to trial, and that the police commissioner generally opted for less severe penalties.



        8)  At Google, Employee-Led Effort Finds Men Are Paid More Than Women

         SEPT. 8, 2017



        SAN FRANCISCO — Female employees are paid less than male staff members at most job levels within Google, and the pay disparity extends as women climb the corporate ladder, according to data compiled by employees that provide a snapshot of salary information at the internet giant.

        A spreadsheet, obtained by The New York Times, contains salary and bonus information for 2017 that was shared by about 1,200 United States Google employees, or about 2 percent of the company's global work force.

        While Google said the data painted an incomplete picture of how people are paid, the salary details shared by employees are likely to heighten concerns over gender disparities in Silicon Valley.

        Even as America's technology giants continue to grow in wealth and influence, most have shown little progress in leveling the playing field for women, who are underrepresented in key engineering and leadership roles and are paid less than men. These gender imbalances are reflected in long-term studies of large companies around the world by the McKinsey Global Institute.

        The scrutiny has been especially intense at Google. Long regarded as one of the world's best workplaces because of its perks and generous compensation, the company is under examination by the Labor Department and has faced criticism from investors and some of its own employees over differences in how women and men are paid.

        "Silicon Valley has established itself as the boys' club of the West, just like how Wall Street has established itself as the boys' club of the East," said Natasha Lamb, director of equity research and shareholder engagement at Arjuna Capital, a wealth management firm that takes activist positions on issues such as gender pay.

        At a shareholder meeting for Alphabet, Google's parent company, earlier this year, Arjuna Capital put forward a proposal for the company to disclose what women make compared with their male peers. Arjuna had successfully persuaded seven of nine technology companies, including Apple, Amazon.com and Microsoft, to disclose that data. Alphabet's directors urged shareholders to vote against the measure, and it failed.

        The self-reported Google salary spreadsheet was started in 2015 by a former employee who wanted to help co-workers negotiate better salaries. That employees were keeping track of this information became public knowledge soon after, but the spreadsheet's details remained private.

        The salary information in the spreadsheet cannot be viewed as an exact portrait of what people make at the company, because some employees may have erred when they put in their information. At some job levels, only a handful of employees volunteered to share their salary information, so a few salaries can skew the data. Even though it's not a random sample of staff members, the information is tracked closely throughout the company.

        The spreadsheet covers levels one through six of Google's job hierarchy, from entry-level data center workers at level one to managers and experienced engineers at level six. It does not include company executives and top-level engineers, who receive a wider range of salaries.

        At five of the six job levels, women are paid less than men. At level three, the entry level for technical positions, women make 4 percent less than men at $124,000 in salary and bonus. But it widens to 6 percent by the time employees reach midcareer status, around level five, with women earning, on average, $11,000 less than men.

        Google said the spreadsheet's information does not take into account a number of factors, like where employees are based, whether they are in higher-paying technical positions, and job performance.

        Based upon its own analysis from January, Google said female employees make 99.7 cents for every dollar a man makes, accounting for factors like location, tenure, job role, level and performance.

        Google said its analysis includes salary, bonus and equity compensation for 95 percent of employees between levels one and nine — three levels beyond what was reflected in the data shared with The Times — while excluding vice presidents and above. Google did not provide a breakdown of how it arrived at that calculation.

        Eileen Naughton, Google's vice president of people operations, said the gender pay disparity reflected in the internal spreadsheet is "not a representative sample" for other, more complex reasons. For example, a person in a nontechnical role may be at the same job level as an engineer, but will be paid significantly less because "there is a premium paid in all markets for highly technical talent."

        In its annual diversity report, Google said only 20 percent of its higher-paid technical positions are filled by women, and women make up 31 percent of the company's overall work force.

        The percentage of women in technical positions is lower than the overall percentage of female employees, with more women in sales, marketing, human resources or legal. Those roles, according to Ms. Naughton, do not have the same entry-level or midcareer salaries as technical positions.

        Other factors include geography and job performance. A position at Google's main office in Mountain View, Calif. — where the cost of living is high — may pay a lot more than a Google employee of a similar rank hired in a cheaper market. In addition, job performance significantly governs a person's pay over time — another factor not reflected in the spreadsheet.

        Google said it tries to exclude gender when determining salaries. Human resources analysts who determine what salary a person is offered when he or she joins Google do not know the candidate's gender. Similarly, when an employee's salary is up for annual review, the company takes into account the person's job performance, location and competitive salaries — but the analysts are not informed of the person's gender.

        "There's a meme around tech companies and Silicon Valley, around issues having to do with gender equity in tech," Ms. Naughton said. "I do believe Google, because of its size and perhaps our size or our prominence in people's everyday lives, I think we're in the spotlight. It feels a little unfair."

        What Google pays men versus women is at the heart of a dispute with the Department of Labor. The company is fighting over how much data it needs to hand over as part of a routine audit of its pay practices. Google is a federal contractor because it sells advertising to the government.

        In April, a Labor Department official said in a hearing that it needed more data because "we found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire work force." The Labor Department hasn't charged Google with any wrongdoing.

        Google said it has already shared a lot of data and documents and that the Labor Department is overreaching by asking for employees' private information. An administrative law judge ruled in July that Google had to disclose some data but not as much as the Labor Department had wanted.

        Google is also confronting broader questions about how women at the company are regarded after software engineer published a memoarguing that Google's efforts to reach equal representation of women in technology and leadership roles were unfair and not good for business.

        James Damore, 28, the engineer who wrote the memo, said the shortage of women in engineering and leadership positions stemmed from what he called "personality differences" between men and women — like a woman having lower stress tolerance. Google fired Mr. Damore last month for "advancing harmful gender stereotypes."

        James Finberg, a civil rights lawyer and partner at Altshuler Berzon L.L.P., said he expected to bring a class-action lawsuit against Google for "substantial gender disparities" later this month. Mr. Finberg said more than 90 current and former female employees have come forward to be plaintiffs.

        He said that these women spoke about experiencing discrimination by being slotted into positions at a level below a man with similar qualifications and that women are not promoted with the same frequency as men. He said that some of the gender stereotypes cited in the memo are widespread and that they kept women out of higher-paying engineering jobs.

        "It is an atmosphere filled with stereotypes, that the comments espoused in the memo were not isolated incidents," Mr. Finberg said. "They are more of the norm than the anomaly."



        9)  Frustrated Survivors of Grenfell Fire Ask, 'When Will We Get Our Lives Back?'

        "'They say they will listen to our needs, take us into consideration, give us what we want. But each week we come back from these meetings with nothing,' said Rachel Layton, whose mother lived in Grenfell Tower and survived the fire and whose sister is still missing. 'If all the residents had been rich this would have been sorted by now.'"

         SEPT. 9, 2017




        LONDON — It has been almost three months since the inferno that tore through Grenfell Tower, a public housing complex, killing at least 80 people and leaving hundreds more homeless. Yet, in that time, only 24 households out of 158 have been placed in permanent housing.

        The survivors' frustration at the slow pace, building through meeting after inconclusive meeting of the local governing council, boiled over late last month. Traumatized by the loss of family members and neighbors, they told the officials at a meeting they were looking for help rebuilding their lives but finding little or none.

        "Where is the support," one man shouted, pointing his finger at the leader of the local council. "When will we get our lives back?"

        The outrage grew, finally becoming so fierce that the councilors just fell silent, staring at their feet.

        Last week, government officials committed around $90 million to finding and buying properties to meet the needs of survivors, but said the whole allocation process could take up to a year.

        Meanwhile, hundreds of survivors remain in limbo in 49 hotels scattered across London, and tempers already roused by smoldering class resentments have grown short.

        "They say they will listen to our needs, take us into consideration, give us what we want. But each week we come back from these meetings with nothing," said Rachel Layton, whose mother lived in Grenfell Tower and survived the fire and whose sister is still missing. "If all the residents had been rich this would have been sorted by now."

        In another recent meeting with council representatives, a chair was flung to the floor, dozens of people stormed out and one woman started hyperventilating in what she said was the start of a panic attack.

        Why, many fumed, was the local governing body, the 50-member council representing the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea — one of the wealthiest in the country — unable to to provide even a firm time frame for when they would be rehoused?

        The responsible authorities, whether with the local council or the national government, say they are doing everything they can, working at a pace set by the individual families, trying to identify all their needs so that they can be assigned top quality housing that matches their needs.

        Many Grenfell families have turned down housing offers because the properties are either too far from their local community or because they are too traumatized to go back to go living in a high-rise building.

        Some survivors are still so distraught by the deaths of their loved ones that they have not been able to submit their preferences for a new home.

        Elizabeth Campbell, the council leader — who in past meetings had been called on to resign, after providing what residents said were unsatisfactory or incomplete answers to their questions and concerns — explained that housing was being allocated through a priority system that put survivors who lost family members first.

        "All of them have seen houses now and have had the opportunity to go in and say, 'This is what I want, this is what I don't want,'" Ms. Campbell explained at the meeting last month. "The next in the order of priority are those who have got disabilities, whether they are mental or physical. The next will be families with children."

        The initial emergency response to the fire was handled so poorly by the council that the national government had to take over in an effort to contain an outpouring of public outrage.

        Much of the anger was directed against the inequality in a borough that encompasses some of the wealthiest and the poorest sections of the city. That economic disparity was brought into sharp focus after it became clear that cheap flammable cladding and insulation had been used on the exterior of the building as a cost-saving measure during a recent renovation.

        Many residents who have attended the council meetings week after week have called the one year time frame to house all the families unacceptable and have started to look for properties on their own.

        Other survivors and community members are angry at how much money the council is spending on hotels. So far, the Kensington and Chelsea Council has spent more than $5 million on hotel expenses.

        "It's such a waste of money for a community that really needs help," said Ms. Layton's husband, Adam, a local resident and social housing activist. "There are so many risky towers like Grenfell that need urgent attention. The whole social housing system could use that money."

        The council has offered residents temporary accommodations in the area, but most survivors have said that they would rather not move twice and are choosing to stay in the hotels, said a spokesman for the Grenfell Response Team, a group of local and regional government representatives.

        Asma Kazmi flinched on a recent evening here as she walked out of the community center meeting and came face to face with the charred remains of the Grenfell tower. The reality stung: She was homeless.

        Turning her back to the building, she described her final moments in her apartment on June 14, when she was mixing batter and rolling pastries with her three children as they prepared for the pre-dawn Ramadan meal.

        Then her neighbor's fridge exploded, sparking the ferocious blaze that ripped through the 24-story building, filling the corridors and apartments with thick black smoke and trapping dozens of people inside.

        "The kitchen was the heart of our household, and that's what I miss the most," Ms. Kazmi, 38, said as she walked away from the devastated building. "Now, I don't even own a spoon. We lost everything, every single thing that we built."

        Since the fire, Ms. Kazmi, her husband and children have been living in a double room at a four-star hotel on a busy street in northwest London. The room is made up of two double beds, a single bed, a desk, television, mini-fridge, kettle and a large bathroom. In the corner of the room was a large pile of donations, including clothes, pots, pans and toiletries.

        "What do I do with all this stuff? " Ms. Kazmi asked on a recent evening. "I don't have a kitchen, I can't cook. Every day we eat junk outside," she said. "I don't want my children to get used to this. I don't want to dress my children in other people's clothes. I don't want to do my washing in the sink. I just want my home and dignity back."

        On Thursday members of the council took survivor families on a tour of the latest properties they had acquired in the North Kensington area. The apartments were bright and spacious, with high ceilings and a modern finish. But one of the greatest challenges, according to one councilor, is finding enough good quality properties in proximity to one another.

        "We are dealing with a very closely knit community, and they do not want to be split up, especially now in the aftermath of this trauma," the councilor said. "They want to be close to their schools, friends, community centers — and that's tough when there are so many people."

        This explanation rubs some former Grenfell residents the wrong way. At a recent council meeting, one shouted at the councilors, saying there were plenty of properties close together listed at local real estate agents. "Just cough up the money and do it privately," he said.

        The council says it is doing all that and more, searching for properties with local agents as well as developers, landlords and housing associations.

        Back in her hotel room, Ms. Kazmi had put her children to bed. She asked me to whisper so I didn't wake them, and joked that we could go and speak in the bathroom, the only other room in her new "house."

        "For the first month they cried every night and couldn't sleep," she explained. "They are children, they don't understand what is going on. All they want to do is go home."

        Ms. Kazmi's husband, Ceramah, said his eldest daughter, 10, had started to come to terms with what had happened, but his sons, 8 and 5, ask every day when they are going to go home.

        "Yesterday, for the first time, I told them the truth. I said, 'We're not. We will find a new home.' I think only Alihan, my older son, understood. He hasn't spoken to me since."



        10)  President Trump's War on Science

         SEPT. 9, 2017




        The news was hard to digest until one realized it was part of a much larger and increasingly disturbing pattern in the Trump administration. On Aug. 18, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine received an order from the Interior Department that it stop work on what seemed a useful and overdue study of the health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining.

        The $1 million study had been requested by two West Virginia health agencies following multiple studies suggesting increased rates of birth defectscancer and other health problems among people living near big surface coal-mining operations in Appalachia. The order to shut it down came just hours before the scientists were scheduled to meet with affected residents of Kentucky.

        The Interior Department said the project was put on hold as a result of an agencywide budgetary review of grants and projects costing more than $100,000.

        This was not persuasive to anyone who had been paying attention. From Day 1, the White House and its lackeys in certain federal agencies have been waging what amounts to a war on science, appointing people with few scientific credentials to key positions, defunding programs that could lead to a cleaner and safer environment and a healthier population, and, most ominously, censoring scientific inquiry that could inform the public and government policy.

        Even allowing for justifiable budgetary reasons, in nearly every case the principal motive seemed the same: to serve commercial interests whose profitability could be affected by health and safety rules.

        The coal mining industry is a conspicuous example. The practice of blowing the tops off mountains to get at underlying coal seams has been attacked for years by public health and environmental interests and by many of the families whose livelihoods depend on coal. But Mr. Trump and his department heads have made a very big deal of saving jobs in a declining industry that is already under severe pressure from market forces, including competition from cheaper natural gas. An unfavorable health study would inject unwelcome reality into Mr. Trump's rosy promises of a job boom fueled by "clean, beautiful coal."

        This is a president who has never shown much fidelity to facts, unless they are his own alternative ones. Yet if there is any unifying theme beyond that to the administration's war on science, apart from its devotion to big industry and its reflexively antiregulatory mind-set, it is horror of the words "climate change."

        This starts with Mr. Trump, who has called global warming a hoax and pulled the United States from the Paris agreement on climate change. Among his first presidential acts, he instructed Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, to deep-six President Obama's Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, and ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to roll back Obama-era rules reducing the venting from natural gas wells of methane, another powerful greenhouse gas.

        Mr. Trump has been properly sympathetic to the victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but the fact that there is almost certainly a connection between a warming earth and increasingly destructive natural events seems not to have occurred to him or his fellow deniers. Mr. Pruitt and his colleagues have enthusiastically jumped to the task of rescinding regulations that might address the problem, meanwhile presiding over a no less ominous development: a governmentwide purge of people, particularly scientists, whose research and conclusions about the human contribution to climate change do not support the administration's agenda.

        Mr. Pruitt, for instance, is replacing dozens of members on the E.P.A.'s scientific advisory boards; in March, he dismissed at least five scientists from the agency's 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, to be replaced, according to a spokesman, with advisers "who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community." Last month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dissolved its 15-member climate science advisory committee, a panel set up to help translate the findings of the National Climate Assessment into concrete guidance for businesses, governments and the public.

        In June, Mr. Pruitt told a coal industry lobbying group that he was preparing to convene a "red team" of researchers to challenge the notion, broadly accepted among climate scientists, that carbon dioxide and other emissions from fossil fuels are the primary drivers of climate change.

        Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric science at Texas A&M University, called the red team plan a "dumb idea" that's like "a red team-blue team exercise about whether gravity exists." Rick Perry, the energy secretary, former Texas governor and climate skeptic, endorsed the idea as — get this — a way to "get the politicians out of the room." Given his and Mr. Pruitt's ideological and historical financial ties to the fossil fuel industry, it is hard to think of a more cynical use of public money.

          Even the official vocabulary of global warming has changed, as if the problem can be made to evaporate by describing it in more benign terms. At the Department of Agriculture, staff members are encouraged to use words like "weather extremes" in lieu of "climate change," and "build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency" instead of "reduce greenhouse gases." The Department of Energy has scrubbed the words "clean energy" and "new energy" from its websites, and has cut links to clean or renewable energy initiatives and programs, according to the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative, which monitors federal websites.

        At the E.P.A., a former Trump campaign assistant named John Konkus aims to eliminate the "double C-word," meaning "climate change," from the agency's research grant solicitations, and he views every application for research money through a similar lens. The E.P.A. is even considering editing out climate change-related exhibits in a museum depicting the agency's history.

        The bias against science finds reinforcement in Mr. Trump's budget and the people he has chosen for important scientific jobs. Mr. Trump's 2018 federal budget proposal would cut nondefense research and development money across the government.

        The president has proposed cutting nearly $6 billion from the National Institutes of Health, the nation's single largest funder of biomedical research. The National Science Foundation, a government agency that funds a variety of scientific and engineering research projects, would be trimmed by about 11 percent. Plant and animal-related science at the Agriculture Department, data analysis at the Census Bureau and earth science at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration would all suffer.

        It is amazing but true, given the present circumstances, that the Trump budget would eliminate $250 million for NOAA's coastal research programs that prepare communities for rising seas and worsening storms. The E.P.A.'s Global Change program would be likewise eliminated. This makes the budget director, Mick Mulvaney, delirious with joy. He complains of "crazy things" the Obama administration did to study climate, and boasts: "Do a lot of the E.P.A. reductions aim at reducing the focus on climate science? Yes."

        As to key appointments, denial and mediocrity abound. Last week, Mr. Trump nominated David Zatezalo, a former coal company chief executive who has repeatedly clashed with federal mine safety regulators, as assistant secretary of labor for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. He nominated Jim Bridenstine, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma with no science or space background, as NASA administrator. Sam Clovis, Mr. Trump's nomination to be the Agriculture Department's chief scientist, is not a scientist: He's a former talk-radio host and incendiary blogger who has labeled climate research "junk science."

        From the beginning, Mr. Trump, Mr. Pruitt, Mr. Zinke and Mr. Perry — to name the Big Four on environmental and energy issues — have been promising a new day to just about anyone discomfited by a half-century of bipartisan environmental law, whether it be the developers and farmers who feel threatened by efforts to enforce the Clean Water Act, oil and gas drillers seeking leases they do not need on federal land, chemical companies seeking relaxation from rules governing dangerous pesticides, automakers asked to improve fuel efficiency or utilities required to make further investments in technology to reduce ground-level pollutants.

        "The future ain't what it used to be at the E.P.A.," Mr. Pruitt is fond of saying of his agency. These words could also apply to just about every other cabinet department and regulatory body in this administration. What his words really mean is that the future isn't going to be nearly as promising for ordinary Americans as it should be.



        10)  The South Doesn't Own Slavery

         SEPT. 11, 2017




        The violent furor that erupted this summer over the removal of Confederate monuments in several cities was a stark reminder that Americans remain trapped in the residue of slavery and racial violence. In confronting this difficult truth, our attention is naturally drawn to the South. And rightfully so: The South was the hotbed of race-based labor and sexual exploitation before and after the Civil War, and the caldron of a white supremacist ideology that sought to draw an inviolable line between whiteness and blackness, purity and contagion, precious lives and throwaway lives. As the author of three histories on slavery and race in the South, I agree that removing Confederate iconography from cities like New Orleans, Baltimore and Charlottesville, Va., is necessary and urgent.

        However, in our national discourse on slavery's legacy and racism's persistent grip, we have overlooked a crucial fact: Our history of human bondage and white supremacy is not restricted to the South.

        By turning the South into an island of historical injustice separate from the rest of the United States, we misunderstand the longstanding nationwide collusion that has produced white supremacist organizers in Fargo, N.D., and a president from New York City who thinks further research is needed to determine the aims of the Ku Klux Klan. Historians of the United States are continually unearthing an ugly truth: American slavery had no bounds. It penetrated every corner of this country, materially, economically and ideologically, and the unjust campaign to preserve it is embedded in our built environments, North and South, East and West. Detroit is a surprising case in point.

        Detroit's legacy is one of a "free" city, a final stop on the Underground Railroad before Canada, known by the code word "Midnight." Yet its early history is mired in a slave past. Near the start of the Revolutionary War, William and Alexander Macomb, Scots-Irish traders from New York, illegally purchased Grosse Isle from the Potawatomi people. William Macomb was the largest slaveholder in Detroit in the late 1700s. He owned at least 26 black men, women and children. He kept slaves on his Detroit River islands, which included Belle Isle (the current city park) and Grosse Isle, and right in the heart of the city, not far from where the International Underground Railroad Memorial now rises above the river view. When Macomb died, his wife, Sarah, and their sons inherited the family fortune, later becoming — along with other Detroit slaveholding families — among the first trustees of the University of Michigan.

        The Macomb surname and those of numerous Detroit slave sellers, slaveholders and indigenous-land thieves cover the region's map. Men who committed crimes against humanity in their fur trade shops and private homes, on their farms, islands and Great Lakes trading vessels, are memorialized throughout the metropolis, on street signs, school buildings, town halls and county seats. The Detroit journalist Bill McGraw began a catalog of these names in his 2012 article "Slavery Is Detroit's Big, Bad Secret" — Macomb, Campau, Beaubien, McDougall, Abbott, Brush, Cass, Hamtramck, Gouin, Meldrum, Dequindre, Beaufait, Groesbeck, Livernois, Rivard. And that's just a start.

        Belle Isle, for instance, was named for Isabelle Cass, a daughter of Lewis Cass, a Detroit politician and governor of Michigan in the early 1800s. Lewis Cass, a supporter of slavery, negotiated the sale of a woman he had enslaved named Sally to a member of the Macomb family in 1818, according to his biographer, Willard Carl Klunder. The Cass family name is attached to a county in Michigan as well as one of Detroit's best public schools, Cass Tech. Detroiters and visitors alike speak and elevate the names of these slaveholders whenever they trace their fingers across a map or walk the streets in search of the nearest Starbucks.

        Detroit is just one example of the hidden historical maps that silently shape our sense of place and community. Place names, submerged below our immediate awareness, may make us feel that slavery and racial oppression have faded into the backdrops of cities, and our history. Yet they do their cultural and political work.

        The embedded racism of our streetscapes and landscapes is made perhaps more dangerous because we cannot see it upon a first glance. In Detroit and across the country, slaveholder names plastered about commemorate a social order in which elite white people exerted inexorable power over black and indigenous bodies and lives. Places named after slaveholders who sold people, raped people, chained people, beat people and orchestrated sexual pairings to further their financial ends slip off our tongues without pause or forethought. Yet these memory maps make up what the University of Michigan historian Matthew Countryman has called "moral maps" of the places that we inhabit together.

        It is our duty to confront our ugly history in whole cloth. Confederate monuments in the South, in all of their artistic barbarity and weighty symbolism, are but one kind of commemoration of slavery and white power among many that shape our everyday environments, influence our collective identities and silently signal what our national culture validates. While the past does not change, our interpretations of it as we gain new evidence and insight can and should. Collectively determining what we valorize in the public square is the responsibility of the people who live in these stained places now. We can and must recover them.



        11) Cuba took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma — and may have spared Florida from worse damage

        BY Kate Linthicum, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017


        Nieves Martinez Burgaleta, 87, was found floating in the flooded streets outside her home in Havana.

        Alberto Flores Garcia, 77, was crushed to death by a utility pole uprooted by hurricane winds.

        Yolendis Castillo Martinez, 27, died when a balcony damaged by the storm collapsed onto the bus she was riding in.

        Hurricane Irma killed at least 10 people during the 72 hours that it battered Cuba, damaging nearly every region of the island nation and leaving parts of Havana's picturesque historic district still underwater Monday, authorities said.

        Its collision with Cuba and other Caribbean islands sapped some of its energy, possibly saving Florida from worse damage. By the time Irma made landfall on Marco Island, on the Florida peninsula, its winds had dropped from 185 mph to 130 mph. While still a massive storm — it was about 400 miles wide — Irma ended up causing less than the catastrophic damage that many had feared.

        Cuba, however, was not so lucky.

        The storm first hit there at 9 p.m. Friday, slamming the island's northern coast and becoming the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in Cuba in more than 80 years. Irma did not leave the country until Sunday afternoon.

        Given the storm's immense girth, few parts of the island were spared. Even Havana, hundreds of miles from where the hurricane first struck, suffered severe flooding and wind damage, with waves up to 30 feet lashing the seaside boardwalk known as the Malecon.

        Parts of Havana's colorful historic district were still flooded with chest-high water Monday, according to the state newspaper Granma. It called the flooding "perhaps the most severe" to affect Havana's coastline and said low-lying parts of the city were under 5 feet of water. Videos showed kitchen appliances bobbing down streets that had become rivers and residents using mattresses as boats.

        The hurricane also flooded coastal areas from Baracoa, a city near the island's eastern tip still recovering from last year's Hurricane Matthew, to Matanzas in the west. Strong waves were still striking the northern coastline Monday, but were expected to subside, Cuba's weather service said.

        Despite washed-out roads and roofless homes, there was a sense that the storm's destruction could have been much worse.

        Government officials credited the early evacuation of about 1 million people with saving lives.

        The country developed a sophisticated hurricane response system in the wake of Hurricane Flora, a 1963 storm that killed 1,750 people in Cuba. The system includes standing evacuation plans for every household and frequent drills. When a big storm like Irma approaches, people whose homes are at risk are evacuated to shelters, while others move in with friends or neighbors who live in safer structures.

        The National Civil Defense Council said five people were killed when their homes collapsed: two brothers who died in Havana when a ceiling caved in and three men who failed to follow evacuation orders and died in their homes in the cities of Ciego de Avila, Camaguey and Matanzas.

        Ramon Pardo Guerra, chief of the National Civil Defense Council, told the state newspaper that the damage to Cuban banana, rice and sugar cane farms was "incalculable," though another official said that nearly 1,200 square miles of sugar cane fields were destroyed.

        In a public address later published in Granma, Cuban President Raul Castro said the storm also severely damaged the nation's electrical system as well as key tourist destinations, including Varadero, a beach resort popular with foreigners.

        Castro said the government would work to make sure those areas were repaired before the busy winter season to protect the tourism industry, which has become an important part of the Communist island's economy.

        "These have been difficult days for our people, who in a few hours' time have seen what was constructed with great effort hit by a devastating hurricane," Castro said.

        "This is not a time to mourn," Castro said, "but to construct again that which the winds of Irma attempted to destroy."

        Humans weren't the only victims.

        The news site Diario de Cuba reported that hundreds of flamingos died on Cayo Coco island.

        Six dolphins fared better.

        Typically housed in an aquarium on the island of Cayo Guillermo, the dolphins were airlifted by helicopter ahead of the hurricane to a salt-water pool in the south of the country and survived the storm.



        12)  Justice Kennedy's Order Temporarily Leaves in Place Trump Travel Ban on Refugees

         SEPT. 11, 2017




        WASHINGTON — Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on Monday issued a temporary order allowing the Trump administration to exclude most refugees from entering the United States while the Supreme Court considers challenges to its revised travel ban.

        The so-called administrative stay will probably be in place for only a short time, and the court is likely to issue a more considered ruling in a matter of days.

        Had the Supreme Court not acted, an appeals court ruling lifting the ban on refugees would have gone into effect on Tuesday.

        The Supreme Court has now interceded three times to fine-tune the scope of Mr. Trump's revised ban while it considers broader issues about its lawfulness. Issued in January and revised in March, the ban caused chaos at airports nationwide and gave rise to a global outcry, prompting a cascade of litigation as well.

        Two federal appeals courts blocked central parts of the ban. One said it violated the Constitution because it discriminated based on religion, the other said that it exceeded the president's statutory authority to control immigration.

        In June, the Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals from those rulings and temporarily reinstated part of the ban — but only for people without "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States." The court did not specify who qualified as a close relative, though it did say spouses and mothers-in-law "clearly" counted.

        The Trump administration interpreted the Supreme Court's decision to mean excluding most refugees. It also said that only some relatives of American residents — parents, children, spouses, siblings, parents-in-law, sons- and daughters-in-law and people engaged to be married — could enter. The administration barred other relatives, including grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins.

        In June, the Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals from those rulings and temporarily reinstated part of the ban — but only for people without "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States." The court did not specify who qualified as a close relative, though it did say spouses and mothers-in-law "clearly" counted.

        The Trump administration interpreted the Supreme Court's decision to mean excluding most refugees. It also said that only some relatives of American residents — parents, children, spouses, siblings, parents-in-law, sons- and daughters-in-law and people engaged to be married — could enter. The administration barred other relatives, including grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins.

        In July, Judge Derrick K. Watson of the Federal District Court in Honolulu disagreed with the administration's interpretation of the Supreme Court's ruling as to both refugees and relatives.

        The administration had said it was entitled to exclude refugees whom resettlement agencies had planned to help move to the United States. Judge Watson disagreed, writing that the Supreme Court had meant to allow such people to enter the country.

        "An assurance from a United States refugee resettlement agency, in fact, meets each of the Supreme Court's touchstones," he wrote. "It is formal, it is a documented contract, it is binding, it triggers responsibilities and obligations, including compensation, it is issued specific to an individual refugee only when that refugee has been approved for entry by the Department of Homeland Security."

        Judge Watson also said the administration's approach to relatives was too narrow.

        "Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents," Judge Watson wrote. "Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The government's definition excludes them. That simply cannot be."

        Bypassing the Ninth Circuit, the administration asked the Supreme Court to intervene. On July 19, the justices declined, sending the case back to the appeals court.

        In its brief, unsigned order, the Supreme Court provisionally let stand Judge Watson's ruling as to relatives. But it blocked his decision "with respect to refugees covered by a formal assurance" until the "resolution of the government's appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit."

        On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled against the administration on both points. On Monday, in its latest emergency application to the Supreme Court, the administration challenged only the part of the ruling concerning refugees.

        The Department of Justice argued that agreements between the government and resettlement agencies do not give rise to the "bona fide relationship" the Supreme Court said were required to allow entry while the travel ban litigation moved forward.




        BY DAVID DAYEN, SEPTEMBER 15, 2017


        WHEN AMAZON PURCHASED Whole Foods last month, it didn't just get the retail locations. It picked up Whole Foods' baggage as well. Among the bigger issues inherited by Amazon appears to be a four-month investigation from the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere that challenges Whole Foods' core selling point of healthy and humane food.

        The group accused Pitman Family Farms, the maker of Mary's Free Range Chicken and a supplier to Whole Foods in six Western states, of breaking its promises of free-range environments for its birds.

        Direct Action Everywhere, whose mission is to create animal welfare-friendly cities and outlaw some of the practices of factory farming, visited a dozen Pitman farms and never once saw a chicken roaming outside. The group reported that it found no indications of outdoor living, such as feathers or fecal matter. Twenty-four hour surveillance cameras attached to six separate locations revealed no outdoor birds either, the activists said. Instead, chickens were packed shoulder-to-shoulder inside dusty sheds with degraded air quality, forced to challenge one another for access to food and water.

        Video of Direct Action Everywhere's findings showed scattered fighting among the chickens, and smaller birds with injuries, including one with its eye pecked out. They also alleged evidence of "debeaking," a procedure involving severing the tip of a chicken's beak with a laser to prevent pecking.

        "We saw things that even shocked us," Dr. Wayne Hsiung, co-founder of the group, told The Intercept in an interview. Hsiung characterized the overcrowding as the worst he's ever seen at a poultry farm, with investigators nearly unable to walk through the flocks without stepping on birds.

        The investigation took place from January to May at roughly a dozen Pitman farm locations in California's San Joaquin Valley. Hsiung alleged no meaningful difference between the farms, and reported no evidence of free-range activity. "We couldn't find a single bird outside," he said.

        PITMAN FAMILY FARMSclaims to be certified by the Global Animal Partnership program, a non-profit animal welfare organization. Whole Foods funded GAP, and two of its staffers are Whole Foods employees.

        GAP rates farms with a "five step" scale. Most of Pitman's facilities – including the ones visited by Direct Action Everywhere – carry a three rating, meaning that birds have space to move around; an outdoor free-range area with shade and at least 25 percent vegetative cover; farmers don't use growth hormones or antibiotics in feed; and birds do not undergo physical alterations like debeaking. Videos on the Pitman website showcase its one "Step 5" farm, according to the GAP ratings, where birds live permanently on pasture. Direct Action Everywhere claims the conditions at the farms it visited were markedly different.

        While activists confirmed that Pitman used "slow-growing" Rhode Island Red chickens, which aren't bred to grow very big quickly and have fewer health problems, the conditions alleged at the farm actually prolong the birds' suffering, according to Hsiung. "Cage-free, slow-growing, it's not better or worse, just different," he said. "These animals have to endure a longer life in miserable conditions."

        Because the farms are so massive, with tens of thousands of animals sometimes supervised by a single employee, activists found it easy to access the sheds. "You just walk in. They even have unlocked doors," said Hsiung.

        Direct Action Everywhere claimed that it's now impossible to secure undercover employment at these sites, previously a common technique employed by animal rights activists. When the activists get reports of mistreatment, they feel a moral and legal necessity to step in, citing law journal reviews on the subject. "When we know a company is lying, we open up the doors," he said.

        Pitman Family Farms sells poultry through high-end markets like Whole Foods in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii, and employs a workforce of around 500 employees at over 80 different sites. Product quality and animal welfare is a hallmark of the Mary's Free Range Chicken brand.

        Pitman Farms' David Rubenstein told The Intercept late Thursday night, "At Pitman Farms, we raise chickens for many different customers. The barn in question houses chickens that are not part of the slow growth, or free range programs." He added that "the farm shown in the video is not GAP certified." The chickens in the video were being housed to "help protect them from outside disease, and will be soon transferred to another barn, where eggs will be harvested," Rubenstein said. 

        Pitman Farms' website does not describe any products aside from free-range chicken, nor does it say they use non-GAP farms or sell eggs. The brand is built around animal welfare; in promotional videos, members of the Pitman family speak of animal welfare across their farming enterprise. "All of the chickens we raise, we call them 'free-range,'" said Rick Pitman in one video. Nowhere in Pitman Farms' promotional material is any mention made of farms that don't comply with humane standards. Direct Action Everywhere claims that they visited a dozen Pitman farms with no appreciable difference in the conditions. Rubenstein, however, insisted, "Without a doubt, the Mary's branded packages claiming 'free-range' and sold at Whole Foods were grown on farms certified, and audited, by the Global Animal Partnership."

        WITHIN HOURS OF Direct Action Everywhere releasing their report, Whole Foods' Twitter feed responded to complaints with the exactsame language: "We don't source chicken from the facility in this video; we only source chicken from Pitman farms that are GAP certified for animal welfare." A Whole Foods spokesperson made the same assertion to The Intercept: The chickens in the video are not from a GAP certified facility, nor are they processed where Whole Foods' GAP-rated chickens are handled.

        The Pitman website indicates that all their farms are GAP-rated, so it's unclear how there could be an unrated farm from which Whole Foods doesn't acquire chickens. Hsiung expressed skepticism at Whole Foods' response to the controversy. "We have reached out to Whole Foods to show them investigations," he said. "Time and time again they make the same robotic denial." Hsiung also alleged that Whole Foods tweeted their denials before they could reasonably have checked in with Pitman to investigate.

        Consumers have shown growing interest in more humanely raised food, including free-range chickens. But there is no recognized federal definition of "free-range" or "pasture-raised" goods in food labeling. The Food Safety Inspection Service allows these terms to be placed on poultry if agribusinesses "provide a brief description of the birds' housing conditions." While the claims are supposed to be evaluated, there is virtually no on-site confirmation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture often relies on third-party verifications like GAP, including for Mary's Free Range Chicken.

        "The industry is in bed with the government," said Hsiung. "I'm a former securities lawyer. It's similar to the financial industry. The USDA's mission statement is to promote agriculture. You can't promote the industry and guard against the industry's abuses. It's like trying to be a lawyer for both sides of a litigation."

        This is Direct Action Everywhere's second investigation alleging a Whole Foods supplier claiming inaccurate "free-range" standards. Revelationsagainst Diestel Turkey Ranch in 2015 led to a California lawsuit for false advertising. The case is still pending.

        Amazon has faced negative headlines for problems with working conditions at its warehouses. By buying a grocery, they face a whole new set of risks from suppliers, which could damage its reputation as a high-end provider.

        Update: Sept. 15, 2017, 9:52 a.m.This piece was updated to include Pitman Family Farms' denial that the farms surveyed by Direct Action Everywhere provided products labeled as "free-range" to Whole Foods.



        14)  C.I.A. Wants Authority to Conduct Drone Strikes in Afghanistan for the First Time

        SEPT. 15, 2017



        WASHINGTON — The C.I.A. is pushing for expanded powers to carry out covert drone strikes in Afghanistan and other active war zones, a proposal that the White House appears to favor despite the misgivings of some at the Pentagon, according to current and former intelligence and military officials.

        If approved by President Trump, it would mark the first time the C.I.A. has had such powers in Afghanistan, expanding beyond its existing authority to carry out covert strikes against Al Qaeda and other terrorist targets across the border in Pakistan.

        The changes are being weighed as part of a broader push inside the Trump White House to loosen Obama-era restraints on how the C.I.A. and the military fight Islamist militants around the world. The Obama administration imposed the restrictions in part to limit civilian casualties, and the proposed shift has raised concerns among critics that the Trump administration would open the way for broader — and riskier — C.I.A. strikes in such countries as Libya, Somalia and Yemen, where the United States is fighting the Islamic State, Al Qaeda or both.

        Until now, the Pentagon has had the lead role for conducting airstrikes — with drones or other aircraft — against militants in Afghanistan and other conflict zones, such as Somalia and Libya and, to some extent, Yemen. The military publicly acknowledges its strikes, unlike the C.I.A., which for roughly a decade has carried out its own campaign of covert drone strikes in Pakistan that were not acknowledged by either country, a condition that Pakistan's government has long insisted on.

        But the C.I.A.'s director, Mike Pompeo, has made a forceful case to Mr. Trump in recent weeks that the Obama-era arrangement needlessly limited the United States' ability to conduct counterterrorism operations, according to the current and former officials, who would not be named discussing internal debates about sensitive information. He has publicly suggested that Mr. Trump favors granting the C.I.A. greater authorities to go after militants, though he has been vague about specifics, nearly all of which are classified.

        Continue reading the main story

        "When we've asked for more authorities, we've been given it. When we ask for more resources, we get it," Mr. Pompeo said this week on Fox News.

        He said that the agency was hunting "every day" for Al Qaeda's leaders, most of whom are believed to be sheltering in the remote mountains that straddle the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

        "If I were them, I'd count my days," Pompeo said.

        From the outset of his tenure at the C.I.A., Mr. Pompeo, a West Point graduate and former Army officer, has made clear that he favors pushing the agency to take on a more direct role in fighting militants. Afghanistan, the most active war zone in which the United States is fighting, makes sense as the place to start: In the past three years, the number of military drone strikes there has climbed, from 304 in 2015, to 376 last year, to 362 through the first eight months of this year.

        The C.I.A., in comparison, has had little to do across the border in Pakistan, where there were three drone strikes last year and have been four so far this year, according to the Long War Journal published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

        "This is bureaucratic politics 101," said Christine Wormuth, a former top Pentagon official. "The C.I.A. has very significant capabilities, and it wants to go use them."

        Spokesmen for the C.I.A. and Defense Department declined to comment on the pending proposal, which involves delicate internal deliberations.

        Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has not resisted the C.I.A. proposal, administration officials said, but other Pentagon officials question the expansion of C.I.A. authorities in Afghanistan or elsewhere, asking what the agency can do that the military cannot. Some Pentagon officials also fear that American troops on the ground in Afghanistan could end up bearing the burden of any C.I.A. strikes that accidentally kill civilians, because the agency will not publicly acknowledge those attacks.

        One senior Defense Department official said that the United States would gain little from having the C.I.A. carry out drone strikes alongside the military, and that it raised the question of whether it was an appropriate use of covert action.

        A former senior administration official familiar with Mr. Pompeo's position said that he views a division of labor with the Defense Department as an abrogation of the C.I.A.'s authorities.

        Mr. Pompeo's argument seems to be carrying the day with Mr. Trump, who has struck a bellicose tone in seeking to confront extremist groups in Afghanistan, including Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Haqqani network, a faction of the Taliban.

        In Mr. Trump's speech last month outlining his policy for South Asia, including Afghanistan, the president promised that he would loosen restrictions on American soldiers to enable them to hunt down terrorists, whom he labeled "thugs and criminals and predators, and — that's right — losers."

        "The killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms," the president said. "Retribution will be fast and powerful."

        Mr. Pompeo may have a potentially important ally: Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the top commander in Afghanistan, who reportedly favors any approach to train more firepower on the array of foes of Afghan security forces and the 11,000 or so American troops advising and assisting them.

        Mr. Trump has already authorized Mr. Mattis to deploy more troops to Afghanistan. Some 4,000 reinforcements will allow American officers to more closely advise Afghan brigades, train more Afghan Special Operations forces and call in American firepower.

        Among the chief targets for the C.I.A. in Afghanistan would be the Haqqani network, whose leader is now the No. 2 in the Taliban and runs its military operations. The Haqqanis have been responsible for many of the deadliest attacks on Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, in the war and are known for running a virtual factory in Pakistan that has steadily supplied suicide bombers since 2005.

        Despite their objections, Defense Department officials say they are now somewhat resigned to the outcome and are working out arrangements with the C.I.A. to ensure that United States forces, including Special Operations advisers, are not accidentally targeted, officials said.

        When John O. Brennan, a former top White House counterterrorism adviser, became C.I.A. director in late 2013, he announced an intention to ratchet back the paramilitary operations that have transformed the agency since the Sept. 11 attacks.

        Mr. Brennan's goal, he said during his confirmation hearings, was to refocus the agency on the traditional work of intelligence collection and espionage that had sometimes been neglected. During those hearings, Mr. Brennan obliquely criticized the performance of American spy agencies in providing intelligence and analysis of the Arab revolutions that began in 2009, and said the C.I.A. needed to cede some of its paramilitary role to the Pentagon.

        In a speech in May 2013 in which he sought to redefine American policy toward terrorism, President Barack Obama expanded on that theme, announcing new procedures for drone operations, which White House officials said would gradually become the responsibility of the Pentagon.

        But critics contended that effort, too, proved slow-going, and that Mr. Brennan did not push forcefully for moving all drone operations away from the C.I.A.

        Now, with Mr. Pompeo in charge, the agency appears to be aggressively renewing its paramilitary role, and pushing limits on other forms of covert operations outside conflict zones, including in countries where no fighting is underway, such as Iran. A veteran C.I.A. officer viewed as the architect of the drone program was put in charge of the agency's Iran operations this year.

        It is drone strikes, though, that remain the most visible aspect of the C.I.A.'s clandestine fight against militants, and often carry the greatest risk of harming bystanders.

        "One of the things we learned early on in Afghanistan and Iraq was the importance of being as transparent as possible in discussing our military operations," said Luke Hartig, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council during the Obama administration.

        "Why we took the specific action, who all was killed or injured in the operation, what we were going to do if we had inadvertently killed civilians or damaged property," he continued. "I don't know what the Trump administration is specifically considering in Afghanistan, but if their new plans for the war decrease any of that transparency, that would be a big strategic and moral mistake."



        15)  Chelsea Manning's Harvard Fellowship Withdrawn After Criticism

        SEPT. 14, 2017



        Facing harsh criticism, a Harvard dean said early Friday morning that he was revoking his invitation to Chelsea Manning, a former United States soldier convicted of leaking classified information, to be a visiting fellow at the university.

        The sudden turnabout by the Harvard Kennedy School came after a day of intense backlash over the university's announcement on Wednesday that Ms. Manning would become a visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics this school year. Douglas W. Elmendorf, the dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, said that while the university encourages a diversity of opinions and does not shy from controversy, naming Ms. Manning a fellow was a mistake for which he accepted responsibility.

        "I see more clearly now that many people view a visiting fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations," Mr. Elmendorf wrote in a letter posted on the Harvard Kennedy School website early Friday morning. "I apologize to her and to the many concerned people from whom I have heard today for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation."

        Ms. Manning was among a group, including Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary, named on Wednesday as visiting fellows at the Kennedy School. Fellows travel to Harvard to meet with students and discuss politics and other topics.

        Mr. Elmendorf said the university had extended the fellowship to Ms. Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for providing classified information to WikiLeaks, because she fit the Kennedy School's tradition of asking influential people to address students.

        While the school is revoking the title of visiting fellow for Ms. Manning, she is still invited to spend a day at the school and speak at a forum, the dean said.

        Ms. Manning commented on the development in a set of early morning tweets, writing that she was "honored" to be disinvited and that the institution was chilling "marginalized voices under C.I.A. pressure."

        In another tweet, she contrasted herself with former Trump staffers like Mr. Spicer and Corey Lewandowski, the president's former campaign manager, who was also named a visiting fellow.

        Chase Strangio, a lawyer for Ms. Manning, wrote in a statement that the decision to withdraw the invitation "in the middle of the night without coherent explanation is disgraceful even for Harvard" and also accused the school of being beholden to the C.I.A.

        The decision by the Kennedy School followed forceful denunciations by a former top official at the C.I.A. and the current director at the agency.

        Michael J. Morell, a deputy director at the intelligence agency under President Barack Obama, resigned as a fellow on Thursday, calling the invitation to Ms. Manning "wholly inappropriate." He said it "honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information."

        "It is my right, indeed my duty, to argue that the school's decision is wholly inappropriate and to protest it by resigning from the Kennedy School," Mr. Morell wrote to Mr. Elmendorf. The letter was obtained and reported on by CBS News, where Mr. Morell is a national security contributor.

        Mr. Morell did not respond to an email Thursday night, and the Kennedy School did not respond to a request for comment.

        Later on Thursday, the director of the C.I.A., Mike Pompeo, withdrew from a Harvard forum he was scheduled to participate in that night, citing Ms. Manning's fellowship as the reason.

        "Ms. Manning betrayed her country," Mr. Pompeo, who graduated from Harvard Law School, wrote in a letter to a Kennedy School official, adding that he commended Mr. Morell's decision to resign.

        He added, "It has everything to do with her identity as a traitor to the United States of America and my loyalty to the officers of the C.I.A."

        Ms. Manning was convicted in 2010 for giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables and military reports from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Obama commuted her sentence in January as one of his final acts as president, and she was released in May.

        Since 2013, Mr. Morell had served as a nonresident senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, which is also part of the Kennedy School. In his letter, Mr. Morell said he worried that Ms. Manning's actions would "encourage others to leak classified information as well."

        "I have an obligation to my conscience," he wrote.



        16)  White Officer Acquitted in Fatal Shooting of Black Driver Near Ferguson

        "At the trial in August, prosecutors described Mr. Stockley as an out-of-control officer who chased Mr. Smith for three miles at speeds of more than 80 miles an hour, shot him without provocation and then planted a .38-caliber revolver in Mr. Smith's car. The shooting was premeditated, prosecutors argued, pointing to a recording device inside the police car that had captured Mr. Stockley saying to his partner, not long before the shooting: 'Going to kill this,' person, he said using an expletive, 'don't you know it.'"

        SEPT. 15, 2017




        ST. LOUIS — A white former police officer who fatally shot a 24-year-old black man after a high-speed chase in 2011 was acquitted of first-degree murder on Friday by a Missouri judge.

        The verdict in the case against the former St. Louis officer, Jason Stockley, in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith had been tensely awaited. Concerns that the outcome might set off violent protests and memories of unrest over a different police shooting in Ferguson, only a few miles away, were evident: barricades were erected near courthouses, police officers were assigned longer shifts, and Gov. Eric Greitens placed the Missouri National Guard on standby.

        Within minutes after the verdict was made public, protesters had gathered outside the courthouse and pledged large-scale demonstrations.

        Adding to a crescendo of tension over the case was how drawn out it has been. The shooting took place in 2011, although Jennifer Joyce, then the city's top prosecutor, brought the case nearly five years later, in 2016, citing new, unspecified evidence. And the trial itself ended in early August, but the judge in the bench trial, Timothy Wilson, of the St. Louis Circuit, waited close to a month to announce his decision.

        Mr. Stockley's acquittal is the latest example of a police officer facing criminal charges in a shooting but the case ending without a conviction. In recent months, officers were acquitted in jury trials in OklahomaMinnesota and Wisconsin. And in Ohio, prosecutors dropped a murder case against a former University of Cincinnati officer after juries twice failed to reach a verdict.

        Kimberly Gardner, the elected prosecutor for St. Louis, said in a statement after Friday's verdict that it was "extremely difficult to prevail in court" in such cases, but that she believed "we offered sufficient evidence that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jason Stockley intended to kill Mr. Smith."

        "Of course, I'm disappointed with the court's decision," Ms. Gardner said.

        At the trial in August, prosecutors described Mr. Stockley as an out-of-control officer who chased Mr. Smith for three miles at speeds of more than 80 miles an hour, shot him without provocation and then planted a .38-caliber revolver in Mr. Smith's car. The shooting was premeditated, prosecutors argued, pointing to a recording device inside the police car that had captured Mr. Stockley saying to his partner, not long before the shooting: "Going to kill this," person, he said using an expletive, "don't you know it."

        The defense argued that Mr. Stockley acted reasonably in fatally shooting a suspect in a drug deal that the officer had tried to stop before the car chase took place. Defense lawyers have said that the officer believed Mr. Smith was armed, and was reaching for a gun — the weapon that was found in his car after the shooting. Mr. Smith was shot five times.

        The encounter, in December 2011, began when Officer Stockley and his partner, Brian Bianchi, driving a police S.U.V., believed that Mr. Smith was involved in a drug deal in a Church's Chicken parking lot and attempted to approach him, police said.

        As he moved toward Mr. Smith's car, Mr. Stockley carried his own AK-47, an unauthorized weapon, as well as his service gun. According to department policy, officers are forbidden from carrying personal weapons.

        Officer Stockley and Officer Bianchi said that they saw Mr. Smith holding a handgun. As Mr. Smith sped away in his Buick, Mr. Stockley fired seven shots with his service weapon.

        The second, fatal confrontation occurred not far away, a short time later.

        In his verdict, delivered in a 30-page written order, Judge Wilson said he was "simply not firmly convinced of defendant's guilt."

        "This court, in conscience, cannot say that the state has proven every element of murder beyond a reasonable doubt or that the state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant did not act in self-defense," Judge Wilson wrote.

        Mr. Stockley, who is in his mid-30s, resigned from the St. Louis police department in 2013. Before joining the police force, he served in the Army and did a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq.

        The killing resulted in a wrongful-death settlement of $900,000, brought on behalf of Mr. Smith's young daughter.

        The case has been closely watched in St. Louis and city leaders, while preparing for unrest in reaction to the verdict, have pleaded for calm.

        Mayor Lyda Krewson, who took office in April, has urged St. Louis residents to remain peaceful. After the verdict, she said in a statement that she was "appalled at what happened to Anthony Lamar Smith" and "sobered by this outcome."

        "I encourage St. Louisans to show each other compassion, to recognize that we all have different experiences and backgrounds and that we all come to this with real feelings and experiences," Ms. Krewson said.

        Mr. Greitens, the governor, and Mr. Smith's fiancée, Christina Wilson, spoke together in St. Louis on Thursday night and asked that any protests after the verdict remain nonviolent. The St. Louis police department said that on Friday, they would require officers to begin working 12-hour shifts to prepare for possible protests and unrest.

        "If you feel like you want to speak out, speak how you feel and whatever comes to you — just do it in a peaceful way," Ms. Wilson said. "We're not going to do violence as the answer."

        Mr. Greitens, a first-term Republican who has criticized his predecessor's handling of the unrest in Ferguson, said he was inspired by Ms. Wilson and that he hoped demonstrators would honor her request. He also met with members of Missouri's Legislative Black Caucus to discuss the case.

        Three years ago, the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer in Ferguson, set off waves of protest over police conduct and the treatment of black residents and led to a Justice Department investigation that found Ferguson had engaged in constitutional violations and needed to overhaul its criminal justice system. Mr. Wilson was not charged. Protests that followed the shooting in August of 2014 and a grand jury decision not to indict Mr. Wilson later that year grew tense, and, at times, violent. Buildings were set on fire and some businesses looted.

        Tensions have remained high in the years since. On the first anniversary of Mr. Brown's death, police officers shot and wounded an armed man at the scene of a large protest in Ferguson. And in St. Louis, protesters marched after the fatal 2015 police shooting of an 18-year-old man and, just last month, the fatal shooting of a transgender woman by city officers.

        On Thursday night, Mr. Greitens urged calm in this case.

        "One life has been lost in this case, and we don't need more bloodshed," Mr. Greitens said. "We need peace, we need love, we need understanding and we need compassion for one another."

        Mr. Greitens, who earlier on Thursday had placed the Missouri National Guard on standby, did not take questions from reporters.

        "Whatever the verdict is," Mr. Greitens said, "we will protect every single person's right to peacefully protest. And whatever the verdict is, we will also protect people's lives, their homes and our communities."





























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