Steph Curry voices his support for Colin Kaepernick: "He definitely should be in the NFL"

Steph Curry is a Carolina Panthers fan, but before he watched the 49ers struggle against Carolina on Sunday, the Warriors star voiced support for Colin Kaepernick.

Curry posted an Instagram story during the game with the caption, "#FreeKaep.

Kaepernick remains without a team after his national anthem protests of the 2016 season. Kaepernick's replacement in San Francisco, Brian Hoyer, threw for just 105 yards and an interception as the 49ers trailed 23-0 late in the third quarter.

Before the game, Curry spoke to the Charlotte Observer about Kaepernick, offering a vocal support for the NFL quarterback:

"He definitely should be in the NFL. If you've been around the NFL, the top 64 quarterbacks, and he's not one of them? Then I don't know what game I'm watching.

"Obviously his stance and his peaceful protest when he was playing here kind of shook up the world, and I think for the better. But hopefully he gets back in the league – because he deserves to be here and he deserves an opportunity to play. He's in his prime and can make a team better."



Steph Curry voices his support for Colin Kaepernick: 'He definitely should be in the NFL



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.







Prison Radio UPDATE:

Please sign this petition:

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


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

Judge Orders DA to Produce Complete File for Mumia's Case

Dear Friend,

This just in! Judge Leon Tucker of the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia has ordered the District Attorney of Philadelphia to produce the entire case file for Cook v. the Commonwealth- the case file in Mumia Abu-Jamal's criminal conviction, by September 21st.

The DA's office has to produce the entire file for "in camera" review in Judge Tucker's chambers. This mean Judge Tucker thinks that a thorough review of all the relevant files is in order! Or in other words, what has been produced under court order from the DA'a office has been woefully deficient.

Judge Tucker worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the late 90's, so he knows what is in -and not in- files. Cook v. the Commonwealth comprises at least 31 boxes of material held by the DA. Will they turn over "all information and the complete file" for Mumia's case, as Judge Tucker has ordered?

This in camera review by Judge Tucker himself means that an independent jurist will personally inspect the documents the DA produces. See the order here.  Stay tuned for more information following September 21. This is just one step in a long walk to freedom. It is a step that has never been taken before.

OPEN the files. Justice Now!



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:















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!






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.

Prison Radio is a 501c3 project of the Redwood Justice Fund. We record and broadcast the voices of prisoners, centering their analyses and experiences in the movements against mass incarceration and state repression. If you support our work, please join us.

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

Thank you for being a part of this work!



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) 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.



        2)  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.



        4)  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."



        5)  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.



        6)  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."



        7)  This Judge's Excuses for Acquitting Jason Stockley of Murder Are Pathetic

        By Jeremy Stahl, September 15, 2017


        The acquittal on Friday of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder charges in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith was all too familiar. Like in other cases, the local community took to the streets in mass protests soon after a white officer was found not guilty of murdering a black motorist. And like in other cases, it showed how difficult it is to hold police accountable in shooting deaths of black men, no matter what the evidence.

        It was unusual in one big way, though. Because the verdict was decided by a judge after Stockley waived his right to a jury trial, the public got a rare insight into the thinking that goes into letting a cop go free despite stacks of evidence of wrongdoing. In Judge Timothy J. Wilson's 30-page ruling you can see the mental gymnastics that went into acquitting a man who said to his partner of Smith, "we're killing this motherfucker, don't you know," minutes before killing him.

        There are many embarrassing parts of this verdict. Let's start, though, with the particularly shameful portion that seeks to vindicate Stockley for this audio-recorded statement of apparent premeditation. During his own testimony, Stockley stated that he couldn't remember making the "we're killing this motherfucker" remark, but justified it by saying that "during a vehicle pursuit, there are many things that are said." He added that "it's hard for me to elaborate even what the context was, because I don't even know."

        This dissembling answer was apparently enough for the judge to discount this clear statement of intent. Here's what Wilson wrote:

        People say all kinds of things in the heat of the moment or while in stressful situations, and whether Stockley's statement that "we're killing this motherfucker," which can be ambiguous depending on the context, constituted a real threat of action or was a means of releasing tension has to be judged by his subsequent conduct. The court does not believe Stockley's conduct immediately following the end of the pursuit is consistent with the conduct of a person intentionally killing another person unlawfully.

        Stockley's conduct immediately after making that statement was to instruct his partner to ram Smith's vehicle, approach Smith's car, and almost immediately fire five shots into Smith's body, including one that forensic analysts described as a "kill shot" likely fired within six inches of Smith. In his ruling, Wilson characterized this as a long period of time and accepted as fact the defense's argument that all five shots were fired at once (the prosecution argued that a final "kill shot" was fired a bit after the first four):

        It was not until fifteen seconds after Stockley arrived at the driver's side door, that he unholstered his service revolver and fired several shots in succession.

        As damning as it was, Stockley's statement was not the only piece of evidence against him. Prosecutors alleged that he planted a gun that was found in Smith's car. The evidence for this is that his DNA was found on the gun while Smith's was not, he can be seen rifling through a bag in his police vehicle after the shooting, and he was seen returning to search Smith's car before the gun appeared to him. Stockley testified that his partner warned him that Smith—who had twice rammed the police vehicle and clipped Stockley with his car as he fled when the officers first approached him after what they suspected was a drug buy—had a gun. In his ruling, Judge Wilson took this testimony by the defendant as fact:

        Stockley had been warned by [his partner Brian] Bianchi that Smith had a gun.

        One of Stockley's fellow officers at the time who arrived on the scene immediately after the shooting, Elijah Simpson, had testified that he didn't see a gun in the vehicle when he lifted up the airbag and looked in the car. Simpson also testified that it was strange that Stockley was allowed to go back and forth between his own car and the scene of the shooting, and that Stockley was the only officer to remove his gloves during evidence gathering. (This was how Stockley's defense team says the gun was contaminated with his DNA. The prosecution says he removed the gloves on purpose to have that excuse.) This testimony from a fellow officer was not enough for Wilson, because Simpson didn't directly see Stockley actually physically plant the gun:

        There were several officers standing around adjacent to the driver's side of the Buick and not one of them was called to testify that they saw Stockley plant a gun in the Buick.

        Stockley testified that he had actually gone into the bag in his vehicle to get QuikClot wound dressing from the car and administer it to Smith, but decided against it because "it was futile." Simpson testified that no one attempted to help Smith even though "he appeared alive."

        Wilson brushes all this off by saying that no extra gun can be seen on Stockley's person in the blurry cellphone camera footage of the incident that was the main relevant video evidence remaining after one of the officers involved turned off the police vehicle's dashboard camera. From Wilson:

        Stockley was not wearing a jacket; if he had such a gun in his possession it would have been visible on the cell phone video. The gun was too large to fit entirely within any of the pockets on the pants he was wearing, there was no bulge in any pocket indicating a gun within the pocket, and the gun would have been visible if it was tucked into his belt.

        It's inconceivable to Wilson that the gun was not visible in the limited available cellphone footage, or hidden elsewhere on Stockley's person than one of the places he enumerates.

        Finally, Wilson says that he cannot think of a motive Stockley might have had to "kill this motherfucker," even though Smith had just clipped Stockley with his car. (Stockley was carrying a personal AK-47 at the time, a violation of department policies.)

        These are not the only examples of Judge Wilson bending over backward to find validation for Stockley's threatening words and repeated violations of department procedure in this killing of a man who another officer had found appearing to be unarmed. But they are the most egregious.

        If there is one new lesson in this whole tragic episode, it's this little bit of insight into the flawed logic, acceptance of hearsay as fact, and ugly ex post facto justifications that go into exonerating white men in uniform when there's evidence that they have assassinated black motorists.

        Jeremy Stahl is a Slate senior editor. 



        8)  US prisons practice the same slavery and racism celebrated by Confederate monuments

        September 15, 2017

        Assailing slavery and white supremacy today

        By Kevin "Rashid" Johnson


        On Aug. 11, white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, against the removal of the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. In the wake of that rally, which turned deadly when a rally-goer plowed his car into a group of counter-demonstrators, killing one and injuring 19 others, calls across Amerika to remove Confederate monuments have intensified.

        Those monuments – over 1,500 of them – are being assailed because most were erected between the 1890s and 1920s – decades after the Civil War – not to honor the war dead, but rather to celebrate the reassertion of white supremacy across the South and the defeat of Reconstruction.

        The mainstream media has closely covered these events and politicians who have been going on record with token renunciations of America's past practices of white supremacy and slavery. However, both the media and political class have remained totally silent about the systemic practice of both slavery and racism by the U.S. government today as a core feature of its so-called criminal justice system – and the growing protest movement against it.

        Actually, the Charlottesville events happened just a week before Aug. 19, the date of the planned mass rally in Washington, D.C., against mass imprisonment. This rally and the growing movement of which it is part are aimed at dismantling not merely symbols of past racism and slavery like Confederate monuments, but the 13th Amendment, which still authorizes slavery today and is directed predominantly against people of color.

        Both the media and political class have remained totally silent about the systemic practice of both slavery and racism by the U.S. government today as a core feature of its so-called criminal justice system – and the growing protest movement against it.

        The public is only just realizing

        But who questions the legitimacy of imprisonment in Amerika? It's supposed to be about removing from society and rehabilitating those who have been duly convicted of crimes, right? Not hardly.

        From the Black Codes enacted across the South immediately after the Civil War to today's drug war and "law and order" agendas, criminal convictions, enabled by the 13th Amendment, have been targeted predominantly and consciously at people of color – New Afrikans/Blacks in particular – to reproduce slavery.

        This systemic racism and injustice has only recently begun to come to public attention. This began in part when the legal insider, past U.S. Supreme Court law clerk and civil rights attorney Michelle Alexander, published her exposé "The New Jim Crow"[i] in 2010, which revealed the methods by which the criminal justice system deliberately targets people of color for mass imprisonment and insulates itself from challenge.

        Then came struggles launched by prisoners themselves against the systemic abuses of U.S. imprisonment, like the three historic hunger strikes led by Califo prisoners in 2011 and 2013, in which 6,000, 12,000, and 30,000 prisoners respectively participated. This effort brought international attention and opposition to the widespread use of the known psychological torture of solitary confinement.

        Further collective acts of resistance followed, drawing more public awareness and support, including two prisoner-initiated work strikes; first in Texas in April 2016, then a nationwide strike in which tens of thousands of prisoners across Amerika participated beginning on Sept. 9, 2016 – a date chosen to commemorate the 1971 Attica prison uprising.

        These work strikes succeeded in exposing the existence of antebellum-style slavery in U.S. prisons, a condition long concealed by the media and prisoncrats, while U.S. officials have long denounced human trafficking and slavery in other countries. Furthermore, the U.S. wrote and ratified Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the end of World War II, which outlaws all forms of slavery. Typical U.S. hypocrisy.

        These exposures and prisoners' resistance struggles engendered the budding outside movement against the abuses and slavery of U.S. mass imprisonment.

        The documentary film "13th" by Ava Duvernay pinpointed the 13th Amendment as the 1865 Constitutional law that modified, but did not abolish, slavery. It only changed slavery from a status based exclusively on race to one imposed upon conviction of crimes. But the passage of the 13th Amendment did not end the racialized character of U.S. slavery. Instead, criminal laws were created and selectively enforced to target Blacks in particular.

        These work strikes succeeded in exposing the existence of antebellum-style slavery in U.S. prisons, a condition long concealed by the media and prisoncrats, while U.S. officials have long denounced human trafficking and slavery in other countries.

        Slaves of the state

        At base, the 13th Amendment served to give the power to own and regulate slavery to the government instead of private persons, which made the condition more deadly for the enslaved than under private ownership. As Karl Marx observed, when slaves can be readily replenished from a relatively inexhaustible human pool, they are typically worked to death.

        This is what the state did with convict slaves who were put to work on chain gangs, prison plantations and, most notoriously, leased out to private plantations and corporations.

        The Southern versus Northern prison model

        Texas led in implementing and expanding the convict slave model, which, like chattel slavery, has relied on retribution and brutality as the only viable method of enforcement. This model, which many Southern states followed, came to be known as the Southern prison model.

        In parallel, a Northern prison model also arose, which had its birth in Pennsylvania's Eastern State Penitentiary. This system, under the influence of Quakers, devised as a "humane" approach to imprisonment the use of solitary confinement to rehabilitate prisoners as penance for their wrongs; hence the name "penitentiary."

        However, the sensory deprivation of the Northern model proved no less inhumane than the Southern model and led to public opposition. Charles Dickens visited the penitentiary and wrote that the system was "cruel and wrong." He observed that, "in its intention … it is kind, humane and meant for reformation," but "I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon its sufferers."

        Dickens concluded, "I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body."[ii]

        In 1890, the Supreme Court found the Northern model's solitary confinement to be unconstitutionally cruel and unusual. In reaching this conclusion, the court found its suffering torturous, that under it:

        "A considerable number of prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others, still, committed suicide; while those who stood the ordeal better were not generally reformed, and in most cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community."[iii]

        Dickens concluded, "I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body."

        Regardless of this ruling, the use of solitary confinement continued, and spread at an unprecedented level during the post-1970s prison boom, which saw the construction of super maximum-security prisons and segregation units across the U.S. Today over 80,000 prisoners in Amerika are held in solitary confinement.

        The Southern prison model, although more openly brutal than the Northern model, has received much less public exposure. The convict leasing system, for example, proved particularly barbaric. While the number of Blacks lynched in the South from 1880 to 1930 are counted by the Tuskegee Institute at 3,220, the number that died during the same period from the abuses of convict leasing were over 30,000.

        The convict leasing system rivaled the German Nazi slave labor camps in cruelty and fatalities. As Robert Perkinson observed of just the Texas system:

        "Recorded mortality rates in excess of 20 percent, in some instances, put U.S. Steel on par with German and Japanese companies that profited from slave labor in World War II. But while those corporations have been held to account, U.S. Steel has escaped unscathed. Although the Wall Street Journal recently probed the company's shameful history, no reparations movement has emerged among former convicts or their descendants."[iv]

        While the number of Blacks lynched in the South from 1880 to 1930 are counted by the Tuskegee Institute at 3,220, the number that died during the same period from the abuses of convict leasing were over 30,000.

        U.S. officials and the media have generally concealed the routine practice of brutality and slavery in Amerikan prisons. When they do talk about U.S. prisons and their functions, they are typically portrayed in idealistic terms drawn from the Northern model as institutions of rehabilitation and humane treatment, rather than as places of horrific abuse, mental retribution and slave labor modeled on the old Southern slave plantations.

        Although aspects of both the Northern and Southern models co-exist in U.S. prisons, the Southern model has come to dominate. Here's Perkinson again:

        "[Texas prisons present] a uniquely harsh model of criminal justice, a regime of state-sanctioned punishment based on roughshod legal proceedings, racial subjugation, corporal punishment and unpaid field labor that has persevered into the 21st Century. Texas's plantations are 'probably the best example of slavery remaining in the country,' reported a national corrections expert in 1978. Twenty years later, when I first started visiting Southern prisons, I reached the same conclusion. Nowhere else in turn-of-the-millennium America could one witness gangs of African American men filling cotton sacks under the watchful eyes of armed whites on horseback. Plantation prisons at Sugar Land, Huntsville and elsewhere have preserved the lifeways of slavery in carceral amber.

        "For most of American history, Texas's implacable punishment traditions relegated it to the margins of penology, a field devoted – in theory if not practice – to the 'moral regeneration … of criminals.' In the late civil rights era, however, as rehabilitation programs faltered, crime rates soared, and a new breed of politician discovered that crime, especially Black crime, galvanized white voters, Texas's Lone Star became a guiding light. State after state began copying elements of what prison experts called the 'Texas control model,' while politicians looked with new fondness on the state's severe sentencing statutes. Once dismissed as a 'disgrace of Christian civilization,' Texas became the template for a more fearful and vengeful society."[v]

        The racial divide

        During the 1800s and early 1900s, when racism was openly practiced, the Northern model concept of "humane" and "rehabilitative" prisons was reserved for white prisoners, while the Southern model of brutal retribution and slavery was for Blacks and Mexicans.

        In my experience, having been imprisoned in the majority white "Northern" prison system of Oregon from 2012-2013, and then in the majority Black and Mexican/Chicano "Southern" Texas and Florida prison systems from 2013 to the present, I've seen these models still applied along the same racialized lines.

        In Oregon, prisoners are not forced to work, although those who do work are paid only pennies per hour. Oregon also emphasizes rehabilitation through a range of privileges and programs, while using particularly severe solitary confinement as discipline and segregation.

        Texas, however, compels all its prisoners, except those with medical or mental health exemptions, to work without any pay. Many work on chain gangs or antebellum-style plantations where they plow, plant, tend and harvest a wide variety of crops, including cotton, using no tools except dull, primitive hand-held hoes. Extreme physical abuse by guards is the norm, so much so that the Texas federal courts have found a long-standing "culture of sadistic violence that … pervade[s] the Texas prison system" stemming from "the seeming inability of correctional officers to 'keep their hands off prisoners.'"[vi]

        This abusive culture is then supplemented by a severe system of solitary confinement that the courts characterized as "virtual incubators of psychoses – seeding illness in otherwise healthy inmates and exacerbating illness in those already suffering from mental infirmities."[vii]

        Florida, a notorious Texas wannabe, also forces its prisoners to work, most without any pay. Physical abuse, especially frequent violent killings of prisoners by guards, is probably worse than in Texas. In only two months of confinement in Florida's prison system, I have talked to scores of prisoners, most of whom have been confined in the Florida Department of Corruption (FDC) for a decade or more, who have witnessed guards murder at least one prisoner, usually by group beatings and/or staged suicides – in effect, lynchings.[viii]

        I have also had ranking FDC guards and even mental health staff boast, or admit knowledge of such killings. In fact, I was confronted on my first day in the FDC by a mob of guards making death threats against me.

        FDC also imposes a particularly severe system of solitary confinement in its disciplinary and segregation (or "close management") units, where prisoners are compelled to remain absolutely silent inside their cells under threat of disciplinary infractions: strip cells – being left in a completely empty cell for a minimum of 72 hours with nothing but a pair of boxers – and physical assault with gas up to a cell raid by an armored team of guards.

        In my brief FDC confinement in solitary, I have witnessed all of these measures – except cell raids – used against prisoners repeatedly, simply for talking. I have been threatened with them numerous times for talking also.

        It has been long recognized that extreme abuse is the only way prisoners can be compelled to remain absolutely silent. The experiment was tried in New York prisons in the 1800s, as in Pennsylvania. Although the two Northern systems differed in certain respects, New York's was more extreme, and unworkable, in attempting to enforce absolute silence.

        "Whatever their differences, the New York and Pennsylvania systems proved foundational not only as blueprints of penitential discipline, but for the failures they produced. With their strict prohibitions undermined by congregate temptations, New York's prisons were especially prone to disorder. Silence, managers discovered, could only be maintained by force. Whipping is 'very frequent, and the least fault is punished with its application,' noted Beaumont and Tocqueville."[ix]

        In this context, the extreme abuse and killings of Florida prisoners by guards is inevitable.

        Modern slavery nothing new

        Today's U.S. mass imprisonment is no more legitimate than, and is just as scandalous as, the old trans-Atlantic slave trade and in many respects they are analogous.

        The old system saw millions of Afrikans hunted, kidnapped and transported in the holds of ships to be enslaved in the Americas – a process which caused Afrika to suffer, just as with Black communities today under mass incarceration, massive depopulation and social destabilization.

        Police operate much like the slave catchers. The judges, prosecutors and court appointed "defense" attorneys operate as the slave auctioneers and traders who keep the inexhaustible supply of human bodies cycling into Amerika's slave camps. The jails and sheriffs operate as the slaveholders who confine the slaves until they are "sold."

        Once "sold" into prison, the guards and administrators are the overseers. As for who the "owners" are, the U.S. Supreme Court made this clear in its 1871 ruling of Ruffin v. Commonwealth, where it held that prisoners are "slaves of the state." As said, this is the only change that the 13th Amendment made to slavery – the state instead of private persons became the owner and regulator of slaves.

        All that is required today to "sell" one into slavery is the technical "conviction" of a crime – a process that is as vile and arbitrary as are the conditions under which prisoners are held.

        Today's U.S. mass imprisonment is no more legitimate than, and is just as scandalous as, the old trans-Atlantic slave trade and in many respects they are analogous.

        In a 2016 article in Prison Legal News magazine, Chris Hedges exposed the downright corrupt method by which the vast majority of U.S. prisoners are "convicted" of crimes. Rather than being tried and convicted by a jury of one's peers as the Constitution assures every person charged with a serious crime, 97 percent of federal convictions and 95 percent of state felony convictions are produced by the accused being coerced and threatened by court-appointed defense attorneys, working in collaboration with prosecutors and judges, into pleading guilty – a process euphemistically called "plea bargains," "plea negotiations" etc.

        In most cases, the prosecutors lack sufficient evidence – or any evidence at all – to convict the accused. But because the accused can't afford to hire an attorney who will genuinely fight for them as the laws require, millions are cycled into U.S. prisons and reduced to slavery.

        Abolish slavery

        At every level and stage, the U.S. criminal (in)justice system is illegitimate and but a continuation of the long train of evils that Amerika was founded and built on: Native genocide, land theft, slavery, racism, systemic poverty, a campaign of continental conquest – all the same aspirations and methods of the German Nazis for which they are universally reviled. But only because unlike Amerika – from whom the Third Reich drew its inspiration – the Nazis failed.

        Like the monuments on display across Amerika, such as those of Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest, who regained his fortune after the Civil War using convict labor, slavery today in the 13th Amendment must be dismantled and relegated to the museums where their full and true histories should be taught.

        Although the call to amend the 13th Amendment has only just begun to resonate with those in society, this has been a founding proposal of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party. In 2006, we wrote:

        "The mostly Black, Hispanic and Native American prison populations [in Amerika] are ground down by cruel and unusual punishment while being denied a political voice and basic human rights and dignity and are subjected to exploitation by the multinational corporations as a cheap labor force. This has nothing to do with rehabilitation. You can't teach citizenship through slavery!

        "To put an end to this cruelest of oppressions and violation of the inalienable rights of the people, we call for the immediate amendment of the 13th Amendment to end slavery for all and the extension of universal suffrage to all, including prisoners. We declare all elections not based upon full universal suffrage to be invalid and powers not derived from the consent of the governed to be usurpations."[x] [10]

        Many prisoners embraced this call and it is now being taken up by the general public, who are slowly awakening to the reality that slavery and its targeting people of color and the poor is still in wide practice in Amerika.

        It is as evil an institution today as it was 152 years ago, when it was portrayed as having been abolished, but wasn't. Instead, it was enshrined in the 13th Amendment and continued as a hidden practice behind walls of concrete, steel and razor wire, where the public could not see.

        We must build and continue the struggle until this "peculiar institution" has been completely demolished.

        Dare to Struggle! Dare to Win!

        All Power to the People!

        Send our brother some love and light: Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, 158039, FSP, P.O. Box 800, Raiford FL 32083.

        [i] Michelle Alexander, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration and the Age of Color Blindness" (N.Y.: The New Press, 2010/2013)

        [ii] Charles Dickens, "American Notes" (Greenwich Connecticut: Fawcett, 1961) pp. 112-13

        [iii] Ex Parte Medley, 134 US 160, 168 (1890)

        [iv] Robert Perkinson, "Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire" (New York: Metropolitan, 2010)

        [v] Ibid.

        [vi] Ruiz v. Johnson, 154 F. Supp. 2d 975, 987-88 (S.D. Tex. 2001)

        [vii] Ibid. at p. 984

        [viii] The FDC has been repeatedly featured in the media concerning questionable prisoner deaths and in 2014 was cited for a record number of deaths. See, for example, Greg Allen, "Record Number of Inmate Deaths Has Florida Prisons on the Defensive," All Things Considered (National Public Radio, March 18, 2015, 5:56 PM ET).

        [ix] Op cit, note 4, quoting Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville, "On the Penitentiary System in the United States and Its Application in France," trans. Francis Lieber (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blachard, 1833), p. 73

        [x] Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, "A Modest Proposal for the Abolition of Slavery in the 21st Century" (2002), Rashidmod.com



        9)  Digging In for Next Decade, U.S. Expands Kabul Security Zone

        "Along with an increase in troops to a reported 15,000, from around 11,000 at the moment, the Trump administration's new strategy for Afghanistan is likely to keep the military in place well into the 2020s, even by the most conservative estimates."

        SEPT. 16, 2017




        KABUL, Afghanistan — Soon, American Embassy employees in Kabul will no longer need to take a Chinook helicopter ride to cross the street to a military base less than 100 yards outside the present Green Zone security district.

        Instead, the boundaries of the Green Zone will be redrawn to include that base, known as the Kabul City Compound, formerly the headquarters for American Special Operations forces in the capital. The zone is separated from the rest of the city by a network of police, military and private security checkpoints.

        The expansion is part of a huge public works project that over the next two years will reshape the center of this city of five million to bring nearly all Western embassies, major government ministries, and NATO and American military headquarters within the protected area.

        After 16 years of American presence in Kabul, it is a stark acknowledgment that even the city's central districts have become too difficult to defend from Taliban bombings.

        But the capital project is also clearly taking place to protect another long-term American investment: Along with an increase in troops to a reported 15,000, from around 11,000 at the moment, the Trump administration's new strategy for Afghanistan is likely to keep the military in place well into the 2020s, even by the most conservative estimates.

        No one wants to say when any final pullout will take place, because the emphasis now is on a conditions-based withdrawal — presumably meaning after the Afghan government can handle the war alone. But President Trump has kept secret the details of those conditions, and how they are defined.

        "Until he says what the conditions are, all that means is we'll be there as long as we want, for whatever reason we want," said Barnett Rubin, a longtime Afghanistan expert who advised the Obama administration. "And they don't have to lie to do that, because the conditions will never be good enough to say we're absolutely not needed."

        In practical terms, it means that the American military mission will continue for many more years, despite its unpopularity with the American public. Many military strategists, in America and Afghanistan, have already penciled in plans well into the '20s, and certainly past any Trump re-election campaign.

        At the NATO summit meeting in Warsaw last year, the allies, including the United States, agreed to fund the development of the Afghan security forces until the end of what was termed "the transition decade," meaning from 2014, when Afghan forces began to take charge of their own security, until 2024.

        "I would guess the U.S. has to plan on being inside Afghanistan for a decade or more in order for there to be any type of resolution," said Bill Roggio, editor of Long War Journal. "It's definitely past his first term in office, no two ways about it."

        The Green Zone expansion is aimed at making it possible for America and its NATO allies to remain in the capital without facing the risks that have in the past year made Kabul the most dangerous place in Afghanistan, with more people killed there than anywhere else in the country — mostly from suicide bombers.

        Kabul's security area had long been a Green Zone-lite compared with its fortresslike predecessor in Baghdad, where there are massive blast walls and a total separation from the general population, enforced by biometric entry passes.

        In Kabul, thousands of Afghans still commute to jobs and even schools inside the zone, with only light searches for most of them, mindful of the resentment stirred by the Soviets' heavily militarized central zone during their Afghan occupation. And the Green Zone in Baghdad has, its critics maintain, created an out-of-touch ruling class and Western community, and provided a magnet for protests while just moving enormous bombings elsewhere, further stoking popular discontent with leaders and foreigners.

        The Kabul Green Zone expansion, which will significantly restrict access, was prompted, according to both Afghan and American military officials, by a huge suicide bomb planted in a sewage truck that exploded at a gate of the current Green Zone on May 31, destroying most of the German Embassy and killing more than 150 people. The loss of life could have been far worse, but Germany had evacuated its embassy a week before the bombing, apparently tipped off by intelligence sources.

        The military recently appointed an American brigadier general to take charge of greatly expanding and fortifying the Green Zone. In the first stage of the project, expected to take from six months to a year, an expanded Green Zone will be created — covering about 1.86 square miles, up from 0.71 square miles — closing off streets within it to all but official traffic.

        Because that will also cut two major arteries through the city, in an area where traffic congestion is already rage-inducing for Afghan drivers, the plans call for building a ring road on the northern side of the Wazir Akbar Khan hill to carry traffic around the new Green Zone.

        In a final stage, a still bigger Blue Zone will be established, encompassing most of the city center, where severe restrictions on movement — especially by trucks — will be put in place. Already, height restriction barriers have been built over roads throughout Kabul to block trucks. Eventually, all trucks seeking to enter Kabul will be routed through a single portal, where they will be X-rayed and searched.

        The process of turning Kabul into a fortress started before Mr. Trump took office, of course — security measures were tightened and an obtrusive network of blast walls was established in some places years before President Barack Obama left office.

        Some of the plans for long-term American assistance in Afghanistan were already in place, too, and have been enhanced. An ambitious $6.5 billion program to build a serious Afghan Air Force is scheduled to take until 2023. In Brussels last October, the United States and other donor nations agreed to continue $15 billion in development funding for the country through 2020.

        Unlike Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump has suggested that American forces would remain in Afghanistan until victory.

        But even his own generals have conceded that a complete military victory in Afghanistan is not possible. The only solution most see is to persuade the Taliban to sit down to peace talks — something they have refused to do as long as American soldiers remain in the country. And with the insurgents gaining ground steadily in the past two years, the Taliban have even less incentive to negotiate.

        "It seems America is not yet ready to end the longest war in its history," said the Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, after Mr. Trump announced his new policy. "As Trump stated, 'Americans are weary of the long war in Afghanistan.' We shall cast further worry into them and force American officials to accept realities."

        The Afghan ambassador to Washington, Hamdullah Mohib, said that talking about how much longer Americans may stay in Afghanistan obscures how different the years to come will be from the first 16 years.

        "I think a lot of the discussions when people talk about American presence in Afghanistan, the memory comes of when they were actively involved in combat and bodies were coming back to the United States. That is no longer the case," Mr. Mohib said. "The majority of those soldiers are helping us improve our logistics, organizational capabilities, putting systems in place. While yes, there is an element of counterterrorism operations, it's largely airstrikes supporting the Afghan special forces."

        Despite the long-term scenario most military planners have embraced, there are still some dates that could disrupt the calendar. Next year, the country will hold elections for a new Parliament — three years late — but there are concerns that preparations for the elections will not be completed in time.

        An even greater concern is the following year, 2019, when presidential elections are due. The last presidential election, in 2014, was a fiasco, and amid accusations of fraud and vote-rigging, the outcome ended up in an American-negotiated deal to form a shaky coalition government.

        The United States may be willing to look past another tainted election, though the last one nearly devolved into factional conflict. Europe and the NATO allies, however, may be another matter; they have repeatedly insisted on clean and credible elections as a condition for continued support.

        "This may be our last golden opportunity," said Haroun Mir, an Afghan political analyst. "If we cannot solve our problems by 2019, if we move to an ethnic conflict, this may spread to the Afghan security forces, and that would undermine the entire U.S. effort in Afghanistan." He doubts the United States would stay if that happened.

        For now, though, the Americans and their allies seem ready to dig in.

        The Taliban have been fond of quoting an old Afghan saying: "You have the watches, we have the time."

        After Mr. Trump announced his new strategy, the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, used a televised speech to turn that expression on its head: "The Taliban should go buy a watch," he said, because time was now on the government's side.



        10)   The Forgotten Victims of Agent Orange

        By Viet Thanh Nguyen and Richard Hughes, September 15, 2017


        Phan Thanh Hung Duc, 20, lies immobile and silent, his midsection covered haphazardly by a white shirt with an ornate Cambodian temple design. His mouth is agape and his chest thrusts upward, his hands and feet locked in gnarled deformity. He appears to be frozen in agony. He is one of the thousands of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.

        Pham Thi Phuong Khanh, 21, is another such patient. She quietly pulls a towel over her face as a visitor to the Peace Village ward in Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, starts to take a picture of her enlarged, hydrocephalic head. Like Mr. Hung Duc, Ms. Khanh is believed to be a victim of Operation Ranch Hand, the United States military's effort during the Vietnam War to deprive the enemy of cover and food by spraying defoliants.

        Perhaps Ms. Khanh does not want strangers to stare at her. Perhaps she feels ashamed. But if she does feel shame, why is it that those who should do not?

        Over the years, there have been both American and Vietnamese plaintiffs in Agent Orange court cases in the United States. Possibly the only one that could be considered a victory for the plaintiffs was an out-of-court settlement of $180 million in the 1980s for about 50,000 American veterans. Many more never benefited from the case because their illnesses did not show up for years.

        These American veterans have fought for decades to get medical treatment and compensation for birth defects and ailments presumed to be Agent Orange-related diseases. Records from Agent Orange lawsuits indicate that both the military and the chemical companies involved were well aware, early on, of the dangers of dioxin, so much so that our government terminated the program three years before the war's end.

        Our government has acknowledged some of its responsibility to its veterans. In 2010, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki added three Agent Orange-related diseases to the V.A.'s compensation list, and Congress allocated $13.3 billion to cover the costs. An enterprising Senate aide slipped in $12 million for Agent Orange relief in Vietnam, only a small portion of which was for health. These disparities in funding are unconscionable, as is the American government's illogical refusal to acknowledge that Agent Orange has caused the same damage to the Vietnamese as it has to Americans.

        Pham Van Truc is another Vietnamese victim of Agent Orange. With his crippled, birdlike limbs and patches of scaly skin, he had as his only blessing, it seemed, exceptionally devoted parents who cared for him, night and day, all 20 years of his life and who were devastated when he died in March. His mother, Nguyen Thi May, 66, had pleaded for a solution to just one of Mr. Truc's afflictions, such as testicles that had not descended or the attendant pain unrelieved by ineffective medicines.

        In regards to cases like this, our government's one concession to responsibility for the ravages of Agent Orange is environmental remediation. Over $100 million has been allocated to clean up the Da Nang airport, one of 28 "hot spots" for defoliant contamination in Vietnam.

        By contrast, only $20 million has been allocated for victims.

        The most common American bureaucratic excuse for this disparity is that a definitive connection between Agent Orange and the illnesses has not yet been made. But the evidence is overwhelming: Vietnamese soldiers, from both sides, with perfectly healthy children before going to fight, came home and sired offspring with deformities and horrific illnesses; villages repeatedly sprayed have exceptionally high birth-deformity rates; and our own Department of Veterans Affairs now lists 14 illnesses presumed to be related to Agent Orange.

        The reason for official American reluctance is not lack of scientific evidence. The problem is the distance between American policy makers and the Vietnamese people. Vietnamese victims are too far removed from the American public, and too reminiscent of an unpopular war. Agent Orange victims are also among the most visually disturbing consequences of the Vietnam War. Few who look at photographer Philip Jones Griffiths's powerful book of photographs "Agent Orange: 'Collateral Damage' in Vietnam" have the stomach to do so twice. It is easier to keep one's distance, to not look at all.

        The reason for American reluctance to look or act is not even about money, as one might suspect. A solution for the Vietnamese would cost what one congressional aide wryly referred to as "decimal dust," or, by one estimate, $35 million a year for 10 years. Given a Vietnamese Red Cross estimate of three million victims, the amount of aid is approximately $12 a year per victim and a decade of help — merely one-fifth the time that has elapsed since Operation Ranch Hand reached its apex in 1967. Such funding would provide prostheses, wheelchairs and orthopedic surgery; speech therapy and rehabilitation; basic feeding, bathing and sleeping equipment; an enhanced case management system and medical staff training; and stipends to families providing full-time care.

        That $350 million is an inconsequential amount compared to what it cost to produce, transport and deploy the herbicides in the first place. But the legacy of Agent Orange is not about science or economics. It's about human decency. Americans created Agent Orange here in a laboratory, shipped it overseas and dumped it with abandon, where it continues to shatter thousands of people's lives. Denying the reality of the need can only take an unacceptable toll here in the United States.



        11)  The day that destroyed the working class and sowed the seeds of Trump

        By Salena Zico, September 16, 2017


        CAMPBELL, OHIO — Forty years ago, on Sept. 19, thousands of men walked into the Campbell Works of Youngstown Sheet and Tube along the Mahoning River before the early shift.

        Like every fall morning, they were armed with lunch pails and hard hats; the only worry on their minds was the upcoming Pittsburgh Steelers game on "Monday Night Football." The only arguing you heard was whether quarterback Terry Bradshaw had fully recovered from the dramatic hit he took from a Cleveland Browns player the season before.

        It was just before 7 a.m., and the fog that had settled over the river was beginning to lift. As the sun began to streak through mist, the men made their way into the labyrinth of buildings where they worked.

        In the next hour their lives would change forever.

        From then on, this date in 1977 would be known as Black Monday in the Steel Valley, which stretches from Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio eastward toward Pittsburgh. It is the date when Youngstown Sheet and Tube abruptly furloughed 5,000 workers all in one day.

        The bleeding never stopped.

        Within the next 18 months, US Steel announced that the nation's largest steel producer was also shutting down 16 plants across the nation including their Ohio Works in Youngstown, a move that eliminated an additional 4,000 workers here. That announcement came one day before Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. said they were cutting thousands of jobs at their facilities in the Mahoning Valley, too.

        Within a decade 40,000 jobs were gone. Within that same decade, 50,000 people had left the region, and by the next decade that number was up to 100,000. Today the 22 miles of booming steel mills and the support industries that once lined the Mahoning River have mostly disappeared — either blown up, dismantled or reclaimed by nature.

        If a bomb had hit this region, the scar would be no less severe on its landscape.

        "The domino effect of Black Monday went on forever," said Gary Steinbeck of nearby Warren, Ohio. Steinbeck was working up the river that day from the rolling plant at H.K. Porter, which also later went out of business. "The word spread quickly. Back then there weren't any cellphones or social media. Good news travels fast, bad news travels at the speed of light. We knew within the hour the guys down the river were hurting, we knew within a day families were hurting, we knew within a week the whole region was suffering," he said.

        "Those numbers only reflect the jobs that were lost in the plant; the ripple effect was equally devastating. Grocery stores, pizza shops, gas stations, restaurants, department stores, car dealerships, barber shops all saw their business plummet and they started closing," said Steinbeck.

        Steinbeck was only 25 on Black Monday — but he said he knew then that the blow to his hometown would not be felt the same way in Washington.

        News reports from the days and weeks following Black Monday showed that the White House, larger business community and economic experts were detached from the potency of what was happening here. They thought the overall economic impact was exaggerated, that it would not be the calamity Steinbeck and everyone else in Youngstown knew it would be.

        "No one never calculated the cultural tragedy as part of the equation either," Steinbeck said. "They didn't just dismantle the old mills, they dismantled the societal fabric of what made Youngstown, Youngstown."

        The Manhattan radical

        At first the Mahoning Valley did not give up hope, none of them did. In fact they did something remarkable: The entire community fought back by forming a local initiative that consisted of faith leaders, local politicians and even a couple of radical activists, most notably Staughton Lynd, a formidable figure in the '60s social justice movement.

        "The response in this community took the country and the community members themselves by surprise," said Lynd from his basement in his Niles, Ohio, home in Trumbull County.

        On the night of Black Monday, Lynd remembers an emergency meeting was called by the Central Labor Union and a plan was endorsed to send petitions to President Jimmy Carter encouraging him to stop steel imports and put an ease on regulations that were hurting the industry. At the time, newer plants in China and Japan, which had better technological capabilities, were outstripping American production.

        "By Friday over 100,000 signatures had been collected and chartered buses went to Washington to deliver them to the president," said Lynd.

        Three hundred men, local elected officials and faith leaders all traveled on five buses to the White House. The mood on the drive was somber, and the late Sen. John Glenn stood on the US Capitol steps, along with other elected officials, as the men waved signs that read "Save the Steel Industry."

        Carter never even bothered to send out an aide to receive the petitions when they arrived. Amazingly, the president who was a well-known supporter of the working class never even acknowledged them.

        Lynd is flanked by hundreds of labor movement and anti-war buttons on the wall behind him. At 87 he is trim, soft-spoken and humble. As if in reflection of his Quaker upbringing, his home is modest, and so is he. He really doesn't look the part of a '60s radical.

        Lynd came to Youngstown unconventionally. The son of noted sociologists, he grew up on Manhattan's Upper West Side, attended Harvard and taught at Yale, but his path here was never through an elite bubble. He was considered a radical peaceful protestor who traveled to North Vietnam with the activist Tom Hayden at the peak of the war to object to it, lived in communes after he was asked to leave the Army and made a difference during the fight for civil rights in Mississippi by coordinating an alternative education system for blacks called the Freedom Schools.

        Despite his academic pedigree, his radical outlook placed him in Chicago right out of law school with a wife, who he'd met at Harvard, three small children and no job.

        "We met some steel workers from Youngstown, Ohio, who were like people I'd never met in my life. They were active in the American Civil Liberties Union. They opposed race prejudice, which was a very serious thing in that industry both on the shop floor and in the community at a time. My wife, Alice, and I felt that we were probably never going to meet people like this again in our lives. Why not move there, try to be helpful?" he explains.

        Lynd, the Manhattan-born academic from Harvard, immediately became part of the fabric in the working class community as a labor lawyer.

        "I can remember it as if it were yesterday, the phones in the office were ringing before we even got in the door," he said of Black Monday.

        By the next day, the community had put together quite an effort with the so-called Ecumenical Coalition, which was local churches and six local unions. "Not much help from the national union," Lynd said.

        In the end, after years of fighting everything, they tried but failed, said Lynd. "All of these things we did just came together — not in a victory, but we gave them a hell of a fight. The history of Youngstown cannot be told without saying we gave them one hell of a fight."

        Youngstown sure died hard 

        Scant remainders of the Campbell Works of Youngstown Sheet and Tube still stand. Where 20,000 men once worked at its peak, now just 19 employees grind out a living in the vast cavernous buildings along the river.

        The old Campbell works is now Casey Industrial, and Paul Ulam manages the crew. To step inside the old rolling mill is to step back in time; almost everything is still intact. The machines are still standing, so are the men's lockers, the cranes are still overhead and old wooden block floors are still lining the vast footage of the buildings.

        "We have the original lathes. A lot of these machines were all original," Ulam said. The 57-year-old lives right over the state line in New Castle, Pa. He applied to work here at the mill right after high school.

        "I came down here for my interview on September 19, 1977. The guy at the guards desk told me to 'go home kid, it's all over,' " he said.

        It was only in 2001 that Ulam was hired to work at Casey Industrial. His 19 men rebuild motors for the cranes that cling to the roofs of steel mills like giant praying mantises across the country.

        "We do it for customers who still use them," said Ulam who supervises for the operation.

        Outside, the only thing you hear is the long-long-short-long whistle of a CXS train as it approaches a cross signal — all of the other tracks that crisscross the compound are so overgrown with weeds the rails are nearly buried.

        The visual is haunting, the silence eerie. If you grew up around here you still expect to see the dozens of smoke stacks fill the skyline with plumes of white, you still expect to catch the scent of sulfur, you still expect to hear the roar of men and machines working or catch sight of the sparks made by the welders or the orange glow of molten iron.

        The events of Black Monday forever changed not only the Steel Valley, but her people and eventually American culture and politics. Just last year the reverberations were felt in the presidential election when many hard-core Democrats from this area broke from their party to vote for Donald Trump, a Republican who promised to bring jobs back to the Heartland.

        Even today, after the election, the Washington establishment still hasn't processed or properly dissected its effects. Economic experts predicted that the service industry would be the employment of the future. Steel workers were retrained to fill jobs in that sector, which was expected to sustain the middle class in the same way that manufacturing did.

        It did not. According to a study done by the Midwest Center for Research the average salary of a steel worker in the late 1970s was $24,772.80. Today, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor statistics, the medium household income in the Mahoning Valley is $24,133.

        There was also a push for Americans to be more mobile. Lose your job in Youngstown? Fine, move to Raleigh or Texas. No one calculated that the tight-knit people of Youngstown didn't want to leave their town.

        They liked Youngstown. To Washington and New York that seemed odd.

        "At its very heart were the tight knit communities and neighborhoods that made up the Mahoning Valley. For generations families lived within blocks of each other. I am the grandson and son of steel workers, I took so much pride in everything I did at my job," said Steinbeck.

        "We all did. We had decent homes, maybe had two cars, we went on vacation to Lake Geneva or Lake Erie, as we made more money we bought boats, we went fishing and we traveled more broadly. We gave back to America's economic engine what it gave us — a dignified way of life and investment for the future," he said.

        That way of life has been dismantled, he said. "People fell out of the unemployment statistics, they lost political power, they lost their juice," he said.

        Today the regional chamber lists the largest employers in the Mahoning Valley as the Catholic Diocese, the GM plant in Lordstown, local government agencies, regional hospitals and Youngstown State University. An estimated 64,321 people live in Youngstown, nearly 100,000 less than in the late 1960s.

        Even so, "Youngstown's decline is not a story of the decline of the people. They never gave up, even when they gave up. Not in their heart," Steinbeck said.

        For a man who has spent 40 years of his life trying to bring jobs back, Steinbeck has only one wish: "That young people understand what happened here, so the same mistakes do not happen again to their kids, or their kids' kids."

        For a man who has spent 40 years of his life fighting for social justice, Lynd, too, only has one wish: that it be noted in history that Youngstown didn't take this lying down.

        "A steel worker named John Barbero once told me, 'Youngstown sure died hard.' It should be noted he said it with pride," said Lynd.



        12)  Where Tourism Thrives in Mexico, Bloodshed and Poverty Are Blocks Away

        "But in an interview with El Universal newspaper, Mr. de la Madrid also said the nation needed to do a better job redistributing tourism profits throughout society. 'The enemy of Mexico is poverty and inequality,' he said."

        SEPT. 16, 2017




        LOS CABOS, Mexico — In recruiting foot soldiers, the drug gang did not have to look hard to find 18-year-old Edwin Alberto López Rojas. He, in fact, had been looking for them.

        He admired the traffickers' lifestyle and power. And the money he stood to make promised admission to the ranks of the international elite who cavorted in the luxury resorts mere blocks — yet a universe away — from the poor neighborhoods where he grew up in Los Cabos, a tourism mecca at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula.

        On July 28, he told relatives, the Jalisco New Generation criminal organization gave him a car, cash and some drugs to push. Eight days later he was dead, shot by an unidentified assailant on the street.

        His death is among hundreds that have bloodied this once-peaceful area — homicide cases are up more than threefold this year compared with last, a surge that has stunned residents, bedeviled officials and alarmed leaders in the booming tourism industry. A similar wave of violence has also jolted the state of Quintana Roo on the Caribbean coast, which is home to tourism hot spots like Cancún, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

        The sharp rise in killings prompted the United States State Department last month to heighten its travel warnings for Quintana Roo and the state of Baja California Sur, home to Los Cabos.

        The bloodshed here has not targeted tourists and has mostly occurred out of their view, in the poorer quarters of San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, the main towns in the municipality of Los Cabos. Much of it stems from a battle among criminal groups for control of trafficking routes in the Baja California Peninsula and for dominance of local criminal enterprises, particularly the drug trade servicing tourists.

        But the violence, community leaders and social workers say, is also a symptom of the grave problems that afflict the region's underclass, reflecting longstanding government neglect. While the authorities have for decades thrown their weight behind the development of the tourism sector, many of the needs of the poor and working class have languished, they say.

        Los Cabos, they say, risks following the same path as Acapulco, the Pacific Coast city that was once a major vacation destination but has been devastated by drug violence.

        "If they continue covering up the problems, things aren't going to get better," said Silvia Lupián Durán, the president of the Citizens' Council for Security and Criminal Justice in Baja California Sur, a community group. "It's a breeding ground for worse things."

        There is much at stake. Last year, Los Cabos had more than 2.1 million visitors, 75 percent of them international travelers and the majority of those from the United States, said Rodrigo Esponda, the managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board. The average cost of a hotel room is around $300 per night.

        For most of its modern history, the region was sleepy and isolated, accessible only by boat or private plane. But with the completion of the Transpeninsular Highway in the 1970s and the expansion of the local airport, development exploded — and with it came a rise in migration as Mexicans poured in to work in construction and as chambermaids, bellhops, cooks, waiters, bartenders and landscapers.

        In 1990, the municipality's population was about 44,000. By 2015, it had climbed to about 288,000, with many people working in jobs that directly or indirectly supported tourism.

        "There was no sane planning for where all the working people were going to live," said Ramón Ojeda Mestre, the president of the Center for Integral Studies of Innovation and Territory, a consultancy in Cabo San Lucas.

        Most of those working-class migrants have settled in gritty neighborhoods carved out of desert scrubland that stretches north from the narrow coastal strip where the hotels, golf courses, nightclubs and marinas are concentrated.

        In many of these neighborhoods, the best homes are simple one- or two-room cinder-block structures with corrugated metal roofs. The worst, often in illegal settlements called "invasions," are assembled from scrap building materials and tarps, tree branches, sticks and even cardboard. By the municipality's estimates, about 25,000 people live in such settlements.

        Overcrowding is common, and public services are spotty or nonexistent.

        Most of the neighborhoods have no sewer systems, and many homes are not hooked up to the municipal water supply. Even those that are connected often find their pipes empty: Demand has far outpaced supply, forcing the rationing of municipal water delivery and compelling residents to buy water at inflated prices from tanker trucks that ply the unpaved roads.

        "There's a first world, and there's a fifth world," said Homero González, a political organizer, during a recent visit to the Caribe neighborhood, a settlement in Cabo San Lucas. Roving packs of dogs wandered among piles of rubble, drifts of trash and the husks of stripped cars within a few miles of the manicured grounds of the resorts where many residents work.

        As living standards go in these communities, Maria Salazar isn't doing so badly. She lives with her four children and her boyfriend in a one-room, cement-block house in the Real Unidad neighborhood in Cabo San Lucas. She is a community leader and peddles homemade flavored ices and candy to help make ends meet; her boyfriend brings in $14 a day as a freelance construction worker. They don't have plumbing of any sort, though after years of pirating electricity, they were finally connected to the regional grid.

        "I heard a lot about 'the change,' 'the change,'" she scoffed, referring to the last round of regional elections in 2015. "And now we're seeing the change: all these massacres."

        Municipal officials blame past administrations. In an interview, Álvaro Javier Ramírez, the director of planning and urban development, acknowledged that over the years the authorities had put a disproportionate emphasis on supporting the tourism sector.

        "Historically, cash is king," Mr. Ramírez said. He added, referring to previous municipal governments: "They ignored the needs of the working-class neighborhoods. The shortfalls are many."

        The inequalities gnaw at the working-class population, though any inclination to lobby the authorities to fix the problems is undermined by a sense that the system is rigged. This is the fertile environment of discontent in which criminal gangs have seeded their operations, recruiting members, buying allegiances and cultivating markets, community leaders say.

        "If the young people don't have anything to work toward, they will look for other options," said a close relative of Edwin López, the murdered teenager, requesting anonymity for fear of retribution by public officials and the drug gangs. "We need a government here that worries more for the urban population than for the tourist zone."

        In the first seven months of this year, the government opened 232 homicide investigations in Baja California Sur, most of them in Los Cabos, and some involving multiple victims. During the same period last year, there were 65 homicide investigations. In a nation that has seen homicides surge to record levels this year, Baja California Sur now has the fifth highest rate among Mexico's 32 states.

        The jump in killings in Los Cabos — accompanied by a rise in other crimes — has pitched residents into a state of fear they say they have never felt before.

        No neighborhood, it appears, has been hit as hard as El Zacatal, in San José del Cabo, where homicides have become depressingly familiar.

        A recent drive through the area with Concepción Gárate, a hairdresser and longtime resident, became a guided tour of bloodshed. She pointed out the convenience store where four people were killed, the house that was strafed by gunmen, another house where gunmen murdered a family.

        "A barber was cutting hair there," she said, pointing to a barbershop. "They killed him while he was cutting hair!" The tour continued: two dead in front of a school, three in a taqueria, three others in a tire repair shop, one in a carpenter's workshop.

        "El Zacatal is hell," Ms. Gárate said.

        Leaders of the tourism industry and public officials have tried to forestall damage to the area's appeal to visitors, particularly after the State Department advisory, pointing out that tourists have not been the target of the homicides.

        But from time to time the violence has interrupted vacation idylls. In August, gunmen stormed a beach near a resort where rooms can go for thousands of dollars a night, killing three people in what the authorities said was score-settling between rival criminal groups.

        The federal government has deployed hundreds of marines and federal police officers to the municipality to confront the violence, and the national tourism secretary, Enrique de la Madrid, has announced a plan to create a special police force to help patrol tourism destinations, including Los Cabos, though the plan remains on the drawing board.

        But in an interview with El Universal newspaper, Mr. de la Madrid also said the nation needed to do a better job redistributing tourism profits throughout society. "The enemy of Mexico is poverty and inequality," he said.

        The precariousness of lives in Los Cabos's poor sections was starkly illustrated this month when Tropical Storm Lidia lashed the area, flooding neighborhoods, destroying scores of poorly built homes and killing at least six people.

        The killings seemed to stop for a bit after the storm, but the peace was momentary. Days later, a 22-year-old man was shot and killed in San José del Cabo, steps from an elementary school. The drumbeat of murder continued.



        13) Rare White Giraffes Cause a Stir in Kenya

        By SEPTEMBER 16, 2017


        A villager in Kenya was herding animals one day recently when he came upon a head-turning sight. A ghostly creature with a mighty long neck was grazing off in the distance.

        Upon closer inspection, the vision was revealed to be a female reticulated giraffe — tall, majestic and preternaturally white — and she was accompanied by a smaller apparition: a pale baby giraffe.

        The sightings in June, in Garissa County near the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy, sent the villager scurrying off to tell rangers, the founder of the Hirola Conservation Program said on Thursday. The news has been ricocheting across continents and making headlines ever since.

        Conservationists who hurried to the site managed to capture what is believed to be the first known video footage of white giraffes, said Abdullahi H. Ali, who founded Hirola and has been working to conserve the critically endangered hirola antelope in the eastern part of the country.

        "We spent almost 20 minutes with the beautiful animals and had the pleasure of getting close-up photos and video of the duo," he said by email. "To our surprise, one normal color reticulated giraffe also was among the mother and calf. You can actually compare the difference."

        Hirola said on its website: "They were so close and extremely calm and seemed not disturbed by our presence. The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards in front of us while signaling the baby giraffe to hide behind the bushes."

        The white giraffes displayed the characteristics of a genetic condition known as leucism, which inhibits pigmentation in skin cells, Dr. Ali said. The condition occurs across the animal kingdom. Birds, lions, fish, peacocks, penguins, eagles, hippos, moose and snakes have all displayed the trait.

        Leucism is not albinism, however: Animals with albinism produce no melanin throughout their entire bodies. Animals with leucism may have darker pigment in their soft tissue, and their eyes retain a normal color. The eyes of animals with albinism are usually red.

        The baby giraffe, Hirola said, was not totally white, but its tinges of color seemed to be "fading away, leaving the baby white as it approaches adulthood."

        It was unclear if, under the hot African sun, the giraffes' skin was vulnerable to damage, Dr. Ali said. The rangers did not get close enough to examine the mother and baby, but he added: "I think they will be O.K. They seemed to be in excellent shape."

        The communities in the area were "excited" about the rare sightings of leucistic giraffes, Dr. Ali said, and they were banding together to protect them.

        Giraffes, which can grow to 20 feet and are the world's tallest land mammals, have been declared "vulnerable" to extinction because of poaching and a loss of habitat, according to the Red List of Threatened Species published in 2016 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

        The giraffe population had declined by 40 percent over the past three decades and stood at about 97,600 at the time the findings were released. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the animals are extinct in at least seven countries in Africa and can live up to 25 years in the wild. But more than half of all giraffe calves die before they're six months old because they're often the targets of predators like lions, hyenas, wild dogs and crocodiles.

        Dr. Ali said his team would like to follow and monitor the white giraffes seen in Kenya to document their life spans.



        14)  This Season, Western Wildfires Are Close By and Running Free

        SEPT. 16, 2017




        TROUTDALE, Ore. — Some fires suddenly exploded in size. One in Montana doubled in 24 hours, charring 78 square miles overnight — an area bigger than Brooklyn. Already burning fires started new ones, shooting embers like artillery barrages, including one that apparently jumped several miles across the Columbia River into Washington from Oregon, breaching a natural firebreak that long seemed impregnable.

        Extreme fire behavior — difficult to predict and dangerous to fight — has been the watchword of the 2017 season across the West. More large, uncontrolled wildfires were burning in 10 Western states in early September than at any comparable time since 2006.

        And those fires have leaned in, menacing more lives and property, by their size and their proximity, than in any recent season. Two firefighters died in Montana, and dozens of buildings and homes have been destroyed in California. About 150 hikers had to be rescued in Oregon when a fire encircled them. Evacuation orders — residents told to be ready to flee at a moment's notice — reached to within 15 miles of downtown Portland. One of the largest fires ever recorded in Los Angeles County roared down from a canyon near Burbank, leapt a highway and forced hundreds of residents, from Burbank into Los Angeles itself, from their homes.

        For Jerry and Cheri Brown, the disturbing and surprising contours of the season hit home this month when they stepped outside their motor home, which was parked on the banks of the Columbia River, where they were volunteering as hosts at a campground about an hour east of Portland.

        It was raining fire, or close to it, they said. Small sticks and pine cones, smoking and still too hot to touch, were landing around them, whirled there by winds blasting from the Eagle Creek fire just to the east near Multnomah Falls, a place that has not seen a major wildfire in living memory.

        Then, as they looked toward the Cascade Range slopes that rise steeply from the river, they saw the fire surge toward them through the Douglas fir, cedar and hemlock.

        "I looked at her and she said, 'Go now,' " said Mr. Brown, 74, a retired truck assembly worker, describing the scramble of their escape. "Scariest thing I've ever seen," Ms. Brown added, standing alongside her husband in an evacuation camp across the river in Washington.

        From California to Utah and Montana, thousands of others have also been forced to flee, and evacuation orders were still in place late last week for 23 active fires in four states, with nearly 21,000 firefighters in the field across the region.

        Still, at least so far, the year is not a record, with 8.3 million acres burned as of mid-September. More than 10 million acres burned in 2015, the worst fire season in decades. But much of that land, as in previous years, was far from population centers, in remote areas of Alaska or western rangelands.

        In stark contrast, this year's fires are licking at people's back doors or, in some cases, consuming the doors altogether. While some of that is because the fires are closer to major cities, there is another factor.

        "As the West becomes more and more populated, we're seeing more and more homes being built in these areas; the baby boomers retire and they're building these homes all over, in natural parts of the landscape," said Jessica Gardetto, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Land Management. "We're going to see more summers like this."

        Closer proximity to fire also means more bad air, as well as danger. Winds sent choking smoke from the fires into urban areas from Denver to Southern California. Seattle and Boise, Idaho, have already had more days of "unhealthy" air this year, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency — many of those in the last few weeks — than in any year since 2007. Visiting college football coaches have worried about how the smoke might affect the performances of their players.

        Changes in forest management have also fanned the flames, specialists say. Many areas of the West — where timber cutting has declined and even the thinning of trees for fire safety is sometimes contested by conservation groups — are choked with younger smaller trees that can burn readily, patches of thick undergrowth or blighted areas where insects or disease have left dead trees standing in place.

        "There's just a lot of stuff to burn," said Janean Creighton, an associate professor of forest ecosystems and society at Oregon State University.

        The devastation at places like the Columbia Gorge here in Oregon, which is a treasured hiking spot for Pacific Northwest residents, has also created a deeper emotional impact, Professor Creighton said, especially coming as the nation has been slammed with hurricane disasters in Texas and Florida.

        "People that might not necessarily think about the fire season that much are really getting hit with the reality," Professor Creighton said. The damage, she added, "is much more social this year than ecological, if that makes sense."

        Shifting patterns in Western climate and weather also caught forecasters off guard.

        Early models of the fire season said that last winter's big mountain snows, which lasted deep into summer in higher elevations, would probably keep many places damp. But then a severe heat wave settled in over a vast area from Montana to Northern California and across the Pacific Northwest, and some places went more than 100 days with no measurable rainfall. Most of Montana is suffering an extended drought. The heat and drought dried out grasses and shoots that had been nourished by the winter snows, turning them into tinder.

        "The long-range weather models that we had through the spring and toward summer, they were just flat-out wrong," said Bryan Henry, a meteorologist at the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates wildfire response. What forecasters predicted, based on experience, "was completely the opposite of what actually happened."

        In places like Garfield County, in Montana's northeast corner, people were on their own as fires roared through, before government agencies could arrive.

        Mary Brown, who runs about 1,400 cattle in Garfield, said neighbors gathered on her ranch as the fire approached, and managed to save her home and barn by surrounding the buildings with pickup trucks saddled with water tanks, generators and hoses.

        The youngest to help was 12, she said. They sprayed the grass as the fire roared around them. "People literally put themselves in harm's way to save the ranches," said her brother-in-law, Colter Brown.

        Oregon has also been at the bull's-eye of the season's fury, with nearly a third of large active fires in the nation burning here as of late last week.

        That one of the biggest of those fires, in the Columbia Gorge near Multnomah Falls west of Portland, is believed to have been caused by humans — the result of teenagers playing with fireworks, fire officials said — has made the hurt worse for many people. Heat, drought, wind and a changing climate prepared the scene, but carelessness pushed the button. Multnomah Falls is one of the most visited tourist spots in the Pacific Northwest.

        "It's kind of like a family member has died," said Maggie Rose, who lives in Troutdale with her husband, Don.

        The fate and future of the extensive trail system through the Columbia Gorge — the Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico also passes through the fire zone — is uncertain for now. Erosion from rain and snowmelt is now the risk there, with the great threat looming not so much from fire, but from the winter and spring to come, with little undergrowth to hold the soil in place.

        "It'll be a long road back," said Steve Kruger, the executive director of Trailkeepers of Oregon, a hiking and trail advocacy group.

        But the wave of disasters unfolding around the nation and the world in recent weeks also put the Western fires in context for many people. The loss of life has been relatively low, and so has the devastation to cities and towns. Other places in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean are suffering more from hurricane damage, or in Mexico from the strong earthquake off the Pacific Coast.

        Jeanette Denmark, 58, who lives in Boring, Ore., southeast of Portland, has family members in Houston and near Orlando, and she held her breath as the various disasters unfolded. But the fires missed Boring, she said, and her family members elsewhere were also fine.

        "We got lucky," she said, as she smoked a cigarette on the street, a break from her job in Troutdale.



        15)  Protests Flare in St. Louis for Second Night After Ex-Officer's Acquittal

        "Protesters also converged on West County Center, a suburban mall about 20 miles from St. Louis and chanted, 'You can't stop revolution' and 'No justice, no profits.'"

        SEPT. 16, 2017




        ST. LOUIS — On edge after a night of protests that led to dozens of arrests and a broken window at the mayor's home, this city faced more demonstrations on Saturday after the acquittal of a white former police officer who shot and killed a black driver.

        Tensions here have seemed especially high, in part because the region has been at the center of the nation's debate over police treatment of black people. St. Louis is about 10 miles south of Ferguson, where unrest erupted three years ago after another police shooting.

        City and state law enforcement officials repeatedly struck a note of warning on Saturday, promising that they would not tolerate violence during the protests.

        Just after 9 p.m., a two-hour march that had meandered through University City, a St. Louis suburb, came to a peaceful end. However, about two hours later, when the police ordered a group to disperse, some people in the group would not let the officers make it to their vehicles safely and several individuals began throwing bricks and water bottles filled with paint thinner and gasoline, the police said in a statement.

        Several officers had minor injuries, at least five police vehicles and about 23 businesses were vandalized, and 10 people were arrested, the police said.

        At a news conference earlier Saturday night, Lawrence O'Toole, the city's acting police chief, said that most of the demonstrations had been peaceful and that officers were committed to allowing peaceful protesters to speak out

        Saturday morning, about 200 people had gathered in a park in University City to march. Joan Bray, 72, a former state lawmaker who was in the crowd, said she was distressed "that the verdict was so inevitable," adding, "It's so sided to the police."

        Protesters also converged on West County Center, a suburban mall about 20 miles from St. Louis and chanted, "You can't stop revolution" and "No justice, no profits."

        A few stores closed their security gates but reopened after the demonstrators had passed. Police officers stood indoors nearby.

        The demonstrations continued at various retail sites in the afternoon. Protesters marched through the Chesterfield Mall, another suburban shopping center west of St. Louis, and then to the Taste of St. Louis, an outdoor exhibition for local restaurants.

        Mike Kociela, the producer of the Taste of St. Louis, welcomed the marchers. Some protesters were allowed to take the microphone at the bandstand.

        "We love you. Whether you love us back is irrelevant," Cori Bush, 41, an African-American activist from the suburb of Florissant, told the mostly white patrons. "We are not trying to take anyone hostage. We are here to let you know that black lives matter."

        The band U2 canceled a concert scheduled for Saturday night at the Dome at America's Center in St. Louis because the city's police department could not provide enough officers for security, a statement on the band's website said.

        "We cannot in good conscience risk our fans' safety by proceeding with tonight's concert," said the statement with Live Nation, the concert promotion company.

        Other local events were also canceled or postponed. PeaceFest, which was planned for the campus of Harris-Stowe State University on Saturday, was postponed until Oct. 28, and the university said its campus would be closed until Monday. The St. Louis Symphony canceled a performance scheduled for Saturday, as did the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. A Sunday evening concert by the pop singer Ed Sheeran was also canceled.

        Josh Hawley, the attorney general of Missouri, said in a statement that he expected the authorities to prosecute those who engaged in violence.

        The St. Louis Police Department lauded its officers on Twitter for showing "great restraint" and said "agitators" had damaged property during the protests on Friday.

        After a group called Resist STL posted a video by a television station of police officers pushing an older woman and then stepping over her after she fell, the department tweeted on Saturday that she had "failed to obey officers' orders" and was charged with "interfering."

        At a news conference on Saturday, Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri praised the police and warned: "Everybody should be out there making good choices. If you riot, we're going to cuff you. If you assault a law enforcement officer, we're going to arrest you."

        He added: "Vandalism is not protest. Vandalism is a crime."

        Members of the National Guard were on standby on Friday night and Saturday, Mr. Greitens said.

        Late on Friday, officers gave orders for the crowd to disperse, and used tear gas and pepper balls, the police said, after demonstrators threw bricks and bottles at them.

        Some protesters pelted a police bus with rocks, the police said. Thirty-three people were arrested Friday on charges including failure to disperse and interfering.

        The authorities said that 11 law enforcement officers from several departments had been injured; none of the injuries were life-threatening.

        About 1,000 protesters marched through the streets to the home of Ms. Krewson, where at least one window was shattered after something was thrown at it.

        Within minutes, the police ordered protesters to disperse, and a long line of officers in riot gear arrived and marched toward the crowd, pushing protesters away.

        This region had been bracing for weeks for the outcome of the trial, in which Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis officer, had been charged with murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a driver he chased after believing to have observed a drug deal, according to defense lawyers.

        Prosecutors, who had waited five years to charge Mr. Stockley in the 2011 shooting, described Mr. Stockley in court as an out-of-control officer who chased Mr. Smith for three miles at speeds of more than 80 miles per hour, shot him for no reason and then planted a .38-caliber revolver in Mr. Smith's car.

        Prosecutors pointed to Mr. Stockley's remark to his partner, captured on a recording device inside the police car during the chase, as evidence of premeditation: "Going to kill this" person, Mr. Stockley had said, using an expletive, "don't you know it."

        But Mr. Stockley's defense lawyers said the officer had 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 case, a bench trial, ended almost a month ago, but Timothy Wilson, a judge with the St. Louis Circuit, issued his verdict on Friday. Judge Wilson said he was "simply not firmly convinced of defendant's guilt."

        The judge also voiced doubts, in his 30-page ruling, that a gun had been planted on Mr. Smith, writing "that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly."

        After the verdict was announced, the St. Louis branch of the N.A.A.C.P. called for the Department of Justice to review the case, The Associated Press reported. But a Department of Justice spokeswoman said the department had looked at the case in 2012 and 2016 and decided not to prosecute.















































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