Addicted to War:

And this does not include "…spending $1.25 trillion dollars to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and $566 billion to build the Navy a 308-ship fleet…"    


Dear Comrades, attached is some new art, where Xinachtli really outdid himself some.

Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:

Love this guy!












Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










Dr. Mustafa Barghouti Direct from Palestine

November 6 in Berkeley

The Middle East Children's Alliance Presents

Nobel Peace Prize Nominee


Speaking on

100 Years after the Balfour Declaration:

The Anti-Colonial Struggle in Palestine

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2017 – 7pm

First Congregational Church of Berkeley

2345 Channing Way @ Dana

(near downtown Berkeley BART)

Mustafa Barghouti is General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative & President of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees

Introduced by Professor Khalil Barhoum, Stanford University

$100 ticket includes seats reserved up front

If you want to avoid the service charge, tickets will be available soon directly from MECA; $15 tickets will be at local bookstores soon

Benefit for the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees

Wheelchair Accessible

For info: 510-548-0542, meca@mecaforpeace.org

Cosponsored by KPFA 94.1 FM

Save the Dates
Joining Hands and MECA's Annual Palestinian Crafts Bazaar

Saturday, December 9 and Sunday, December 10 in Berkeley

Join us for another year of supporting Palestinian artisans and cooperatives! We will have beautiful crafts from Palestine, delicious Arabic food, and fun activities! 

Saturday, December 9, 10am-5pm
Sunday, December 10, 11am-3pm

More details coming soon!



Union Time: Film screening and director talk

Thursday, November 9, 2017, 6:00 - 8:00 P.M.

UC Berkeley Labor Center

2521 Channing Way, Berkeley

Union Time: Fighting for Workers' Rights tells the story of one of the greatest union victories of the 21st century—the fight to organize Smithfield Foods' pork processing plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina. From 1993 to 2008, workers struggled against dangerous working conditions, intimidation, and low pay. They were organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, whose "Justice for Smithfield Workers" campaign brought national attention to the plight of the plant workers. The victory led to the formation of UFCW Local 1208 and fair working conditions for 5,000 workers.





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 



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





Campaign to Stop Modern Day Slavery in Colorado, Demanding Equal Rights to the Under Represented


Petitioning Denver FBI & US Department of Justice

Stop Slavery in Colorado

On May 29, 2008 at approximately 10:00 p.m. Omar Gent was driving in his car headed to the gas station; however was pulled over by local police for what was stated to be a "traffic violation". Omar was then arrested on scene and taken to be identified as the suspect of a local robbery. The victim was shown a photo of Omar Gent (which is illegal) and then was taken to the traffic stop where Omar was already handcuffed in the back of the police car and a one-on-one show up was held at a distance of approximately 20-30 feet; the victim  was unable to identify Omar as the suspect during the first show up.  After given a second show up the victim believed he was 90% sure Omar was the suspect.

Coworkers #1 and #2  were not present at the time of the robbery but were used as witnesses to help identify the suspect. Coworker #1 was also taken to the one-on-one show up and was asked to identify Omar as the suspect and he could not as he stated "I have astigmatism" and was not 100% sure Omar was the man.  Coworker #2 positively identified Omar Gent as the suspect because he stated, "there aren't that many black men in Parker Colorado." At the pretrial suppression of ID/photo line up the victim picked three other black men all with different builds and heights; although prior the victim was "90% sure" he had identified the right man. In addition, Coworker #1 stated during the trial that he was angry when he made the ID because he was ready to go home and coworker #2  told him that it was Omar.

Omar's car was illegally searched without consent or warrant. After his arrest and enduring many hours of integration, Omar asked for an attorney, yet all he received were more questions and did not receive the legal representation requested.  During interrogation, the police tried to coerce Omar to confess to the robbery or else they would throw his family out of their home.  Omar maintained his innocence and did not confess to the crime and as a result the police kept their word. Four Colorado Police Officers forcefully entered Omar's home  and began to search his home without a warrant or consent; Omar's family was present and told police that they were not given permission to enter. The police forced Omar's family out of their home into the Colorado winter night. The police took what they wanted during the illegal search of Omar's home. Omar's family filed a complaint against the city because of the illegal search of their home.  In efforts to conceal the police officers' wrongdoing, the presiding Judge sealed the legit complaint. In addition, the video interrogation showing Omar requesting to have legal representation and police threats to throw his family out of their home unless he confessed was deemed inadmissible in court.

Omar has written proof that he requested a preliminary hearing to challenge the charges of probable cause but he was illegally denied the right--without Omar's knowledge and approval the public defender waived his rights to a preliminary hearing.  Omar was then charged with an infamous felony yet never received a grand jury indictment (which is required by Colorado Bill of Rights for felony charges). Due to the fact that Omar was never indicted, he was subsequently denied his sixth Amendment right (to confront and cross examine witnesses). Omar has been fighting his case by seeking justice for the violation of his civil rights. Help us stop illegal imprisonment in Colorado.

  • This petition will be delivered to:
    • Denver FBI & US Department of Justice 

"Please help us by stopping the mass incarceration in Colorado! Basic civil rights are being violated and we need your help to shed light on this issue." 

Sign this petition at: 






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.




stand with reality winner

patriotDoes Reality hate America? Or does the government just hate Reality?Announcing that Reality would be denied bail a second time, judge Brian Epps cited as his justification that Reality Winner "hates America" and "plotted against the government".

This statement is an outrageous slander against a young woman who's spent her entire adult life serving this country, right up to the day she was arrested.

In this way of thinking, to want America to be better is to hate it. To spend your entire adult life working hard and making sacrifices for America is to hate it. To be so outraged by a threat to America that you'd risk your career and your freedom to stop it is to hate it.

And it makes no sense. What does it mean to say that Reality "hates America," and why is it important to the prosecution that the public believes this?

What is this really about?

The real reason is the text of the Espionage Act. The 100-year-old law has been used since its passage as a loophole to deny Americans their rights to a free press, free speech, and whistleblower protections. The Espionage Act doesn't mention "classified information" at all -- the law is intended to punish people who transmit information with an intent to harm the United States or aid its enemies.

The document Reality is charged with releasing contains information about threats to our election integrity, which is still being covered up by the government. Voters and election officials have a right to know about these threats so they can take action to fix them. Having this information in the open is critically important, and the idea that releasing it "harmed America" is so absurd it's barely worth dignifying with a response.

The idea is so absurd that Reality's prosecutors are doing everything they can to avoid having to argue for it, because they would absolutely lose. Instead, they're trying to put Reality's politics on trial.

Read our full article on Reality's unjust prosecution here.

Reality's defense team intends to not only prove her innocence, but to turn the tables on this outrageously unjust prosecution, and put the Espionage Act on trial. We have the chance to permanently end this tactic, and to force the government to honor whistleblower protections, but only if we have the resources for the fight. We're up against the unlimited resources of Trump's justice department, and all we have is each other. Please donate today and help us win.

TAKE ACTION: Reality will be sitting in jail for another 5 months as she awaits trial. We need to let her know we have her back. Can you write her a letter of support? Visit StandWithReality.org for instructions on how to write her and let her know you're thinking of her!

art-bannerNew gallery of Reality's artwork onlineWe recently posted a gallery of Reality's drawing and paintings, including a few she's sent her mom from jail. Check it out here!

STAND WITH REALITY WINNER ~ PATRIOT & ALLEGED WHISTLEBLOWERc/o Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610 ~ 510-488-3559

standwithreality.org ~ facebook.com/standwithreality



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. 













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 TILLERY: Still Rumbling!

October 22—Major Tillery's challenge to his 1985 conviction for a 1976 murder and assault goes to a Pennsylvania Superior Court appeals panel on October 31. Tillery's case is about actual innocence. It highlights Philadelphia's infamous culture of police and prosecutorial misconduct. The only so-called evidence against him was from lying jailhouse informants who were threatened with false murder prosecutions, and plea and bail deals on pending cases. A favorite inducement for jailhouse informants in the early 1980's was "sex for lies." Homicide detectives brought the informants and their girlfriends to police headquarters for private time in interview rooms for sex.

This is Major Tillery's 34th year in prison on a sentence of life without parole. Over twenty of those years were spent in solitary confinement in some of the harshest federal and state "control units."

"Major Tillery, for many years known as the jailhouse lawyer who led the 1990 Tillery v. Owens prisoners' rights civil case, spawned from unconstitutional conditions at the state prison in Pittsburg, is still rumbling these days, this time for his life as well as his freedom."    —Mumia Abu-Jamal, Major: Battling On 2 Fronts, 9/17/17

This past year the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) acknowledged that Major Tillery has hepatitis C, which has progressed to cirrhosis of the liver. The DOC nonetheless refused to provide treatment, ignoring the federal court ruling in Abu-Jamal v. Wetzel that the DOC's hep-C protocols violate the constitutional requirement to provide prisoners adequate medical care. With the help of the Abolitionist Law Center, Major Tillery is now receiving the anti-viral treatment.

Tillery has been doubly punished in prison for his activism in support of fellow prisoners. His 1990 lawsuit, Tillery v. Owens resulted in federal court orders to the PA Department of Corrections to provide medical and mental health treatment and end double-celling. He challenged the extreme conditions of solitary confinement in the NJ State prison in Trenton, Tillery v. Hayman (2007). His advocacy for Mumia Abu-Jamal in February 2015 helped save Mumia's life. Major Tillery filed grievances for himself and other prisoners suffering from painful and debilitating skin rashes. For these acts of solitary with other prisoners, just months after he re-entered general population from a decade in solitary confinement, Tillery was set up with false prison misconduct charges and given four months back in "the hole." Major Tillery filed a federal retaliation lawsuit against the DOC. Recently, Major succeeded in getting a program for elderly prisoners established at SCI Frackville.

For his appeals and continuing investigation, Major Tillery now has the pro bono representation of Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Stephen Patrizio:

"I took on Major Tillery's defense, which exposes prosecutorial misconduct in convicting Major Tillery of a nine-year old murder based solely on the testimony of jailhouse informants. This testimony was recanted in the informants' sworn statements that detail the coercion and favors by homicide detectives and prosecutors to manufacture false trial testimony.

"Now the DA's office wants to uphold the unconstitutional application of 'timeliness' restrictions applied to post-conviction petitions to dismiss Major Tillery's petition, arguing he is too late in uncovering that the DA's office knowingly put a lying witness on the stand."

Major Tillery's appeal is to win his "day in court" on his petition based on his innocence and misconduct by the police and prosecution. At the same time, the investigation continues to further uncover the evidence of this misconduct.

Although Major Tillery has pro bono legal representation there are still substantial costs to appeal and to conduct additional investigation..  Please help with a donation.

How You Can Help

Financial Support—Major Tillery needs funds for a lawyer in his appeal to overturn his conviction.

Go to PayPal

Go to JPay.com;

code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

Or send a check/money order to: Major Tillery or Kamilah Iddeen, U.S. Post Office,

2347 N. 7th St., PO Box 13205, Harrisburg, PA 17110-6501

Have a fund-raising event! Thanks to Dr. Suzanne Ross, International Spokesperson for the International Concerned Family and Friends for Mumia Abu-Jamal for $1000 gifted during her 80th Birthday celebration.

Tell Philadelphia District Attorney:

Free Major Tillery! He is an innocent man, framed by police and and prosecution.

Call: 215-686-8711 or  Email: DA_Central@phila.gov

Write to:

Major Tillery AM 9786, SCI Frackville, 1111 Altamont Blvd., Frackville, PA 17931

For More Information, To read the new appeal, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery

Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com

Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@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) Spain Moves to Take Control Over Catalonia

     OCT. 27, 2017




    BARCELONA, Spain — In a major escalation of Spain's territorial conflict, the Spanish Senate on Friday authorized the government to take direct control of the fractious region of Catalonia, just after Catalan lawmakers declared the region's independence.

    The dueling actions set up a potential showdown over the weekend, as Spain careened into its greatest constitutional crisis since it embraced democracy in 1978.

    The Senate voted 214 to 47 to invoke Article 155 of Spain's Constitution, granting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy a package of extraordinary powers to suppress Catalonia's independence drive. The measure will go into effect after it is published in the government register, which is expected to happen Friday night.

    In a speech on Friday before the vote, Mr. Rajoy had said he had "no alternative" because the Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, and his separatist cabinet had pursued an illegal and unilateral path that was "contrary to the normal behavior in any democratic country like ours."

    Undeterred by the government's threat, and after a bitter debate, separatists in the Catalan Parliament passed a resolution to "create a Catalan republic as an independent state." Lawmakers opposed to independence walked out of the chamber in protest before the vote.

    Mr. Puigdemont came close on Thursday to calling early regional elections, but dropped the idea and instead told Catalonia's Parliament that it would make a decision on independence the next day. He leads a fragile separatist coalition that has 72 of the body's 135 seats

    During the debate that preceded the vote, Catalan lawmakers traded accusations and in turn described the occasion as "historic" and "happy," or else "tragic" and a serious violation of Spain's Constitution.

    Addressing the Catalan Parliament in Spanish, Carlos Carrizo, a lawmaker from Ciudadanos, a party that opposes secession, told Mr. Puigdemont and separatist lawmakers that, far from creating a new Catalan republic, "you will go down in history for having fractured Catalonia and for sinking the institutions of Catalonia."

    In front of the assembly, he tore apart a copy of the independence resolution. "Your job is not to promise unrealizable dreams but to improve the daily lives of people," he said.

    Before the independence vote, Marta Rovira, a separatist lawmaker, told the assembly that "today we start on a new path" to build "a better country." She added: "We are creating a country free of repression."

    Catalan lawmakers who voted for independence could face prosecution for sedition, or even rebellion.

    Marta Ribas, a Catalan lawmaker, said that Madrid's use of Article 155 was unjustified, but also argued that "it's a mistake to respond to one outrageous act with another outrageous act." She added: "A declaration of independence won't protect us from the 155, quite the contrary."

    In the streets outside Parliament in Barcelona, not far from a boisterous pro-independence rally, a few Catalans quietly expressed similar frustrations.

    The Oct. 1 referendum did not give the Catalan government the legitimacy to vote to secede, said Federico Escolar, 53, a cafe owner.

    "Most of the people who would have voted no did not participate," Mr. Escolar said while smoking a cigarette outside his cafe. "It was not a proper referendum. It was illegal."

    Walking into a nearby subway station, Christina Juana, a 38-year-old social worker, agreed.

    "Neither Puigdemont nor the Catalan government knows exactly what the Catalan people's opinion is," Ms. Juana said.

    Mr. Puigdemont's government has been flouting Spain's Constitution since early September, when separatist lawmakers voted to hold a binding referendum on independence on Oct. 1 as a key step toward statehood.

    Catalans who went to the polls voted overwhelmingly to approve independence, but the referendum took place without legal guarantees and with most opponents of independence staying away.

    The referendum was marred by clashes between the Spanish national police and Catalan citizens that left hundreds injured, including police officers.

    Before the Catalan Parliament's vote for independence on Friday, large crowds had gathered outside in anticipation of what they hoped would be a historic day for Catalonia.

    Many were draped in flags as they watched the parliamentary debate on two large screens, cheering during speeches by pro-independence lawmakers and hissing those of their opponents. When proceedings hit a lull, the crowds cycled through a series of pro-independence chants.

    "Spanish occupiers!" was one, a reference to the national police officers who tried to stop the Oct. 1 referendum by force. "Leave Catalonia!"

    "I feel very, very happy," said Emili Ara, a 79-year-old retired realtor, who said he had hoped for Catalan independence for most of his life, even in the days when the concept had little widespread appeal.

    "The people living here, both those who voted yes and those who voted no, will be able to see their sons and grandsons enjoy a much better future," he added.

    The optimism of Mr. Ara and his family was not dented by the prospect of the Spanish government's moving to take over administration of the region.

    "We have to declare independence even if we end up with less autonomy than we have now," said Eulalia Ara, Mr. Ara's 39-year-old daughter. "We can't continue in this situation because we are being repressed by the Spanish state."

    And even "if they steal our Parliament and our government," said Jordi Ara, Mr. Ara's 18-year-old grandson, "we will still have our beliefs!"

    Elsewhere in the crowd, separatist protesters saw little problem with declaring independence even though less than 43 percent of voters participated in the referendum.

    "Two months ago, I would have said that 43 percent was not enough," said Ester Romero, 25, a sales manager who had come to the rally after picking up her degree certificate.

    "But after all the oppression, after all the police hitting people during the referendum, it's enough."



    2) Trump's $700 Billion Gift to Wealthy Foreigners

    By Paul Krugman, October 26, 2017


    Why is Donald Trump planning to give away $700 billion — that's billion, with a "b" — to foreigners, no strings attached? You probably didn't know that he's planning to do this. In fact, he himself almost surely has no idea that he's planning to do this. But it would be one clearly predictable consequence of the tax "reform" he and his congressional allies are trying to pass.

    Some features of the Trump tax plan are still up in the air. For example, we don't know exactly how upper-middle-class taxpayers will be punished — will they lose their deduction on state and local taxes, some of their tax breaks on retirement accounts, or something else? But the core of the plan is clearly an enormous cut in taxes on corporate profits, which the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates at $2 trillion over the next decade.

    Now, the administration claims that all of this tax cut will be passed on to workers in the form of higher wages. In fact, it claims that the wage gains from the tax cut will be several times as large as the revenue loss.

    Few independent analysts believe this. In fact, the administration itself doesn't believe it. Recently Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, warned that stocks will crash if Congress doesn't pass tax cuts. But why would stocks crash if all the benefits go to wages rather than profits?

    For what it's worth, the argument goes like this: Cutting corporate taxes would bring foreign capital into the United States, which would raise investment, which would increase productivity, and this productivity would then get reflected in higher wages. If this sounds like a convoluted and uncertain story, with many weak links in the supposed chain of events that ends up helping workers so much, that's because it is.

    There are, in reality, multiple reasons not to believe much of this account, ranging from the fact that a lot of the corporate income we tax represents monopoly profits — which won't be competed away even if foreign money comes flooding in — to the sheer size of the U.S. economy, which can't pull in lots of foreign capital without driving up interest rates worldwide.

    Also, to the extent that the story makes any sense at all, it's a story about the very long run. In the short run, drawing in foreign money by cutting taxes on profits would lead to a stronger dollar, which would slow the pace of foreign investment by making U.S. assets look expensive. So we're talking about a process that would take many years if not decades.

    Oh, and the stronger dollar would also mean much bigger trade deficits — a consequence of tax cuts that Republicans, strange to say, haven't advertised, even though the same thing happened during the Reagan years.

    Realistically, then, the benefits from cutting corporate taxes would overwhelmingly flow into after-tax profits rather than wages, especially in the first few years and probably for a decade or more. And this in turn means that the main beneficiaries would be stockholders, not workers.

    So who are these stockholders, exactly? You can guess part of the answer: We're talking mainly about the very affluent. Even if we count indirect holdings in retirement accounts and mutual funds, the richest 10 percent of U.S. residents account for about 80 percent of American-owned stocks, and the richest 1 percent own about 40 percent. So we're talking, as always when it comes to Republican plans, about tax cuts heavily tilted toward the wealthy.

    But that's not the whole story, either — it gets worse.

    The whole sales pitch for the Trump tax plan rests on the claim that everything is different because we're now part of a global financial market. The truth is that this makes less difference than many imagine.

    But one thing is true: These days there's a lot of cross-border investment. In particular, as Steven M. Rosenthal of the Tax Policy Center notes — in a paper I found revelatory — around 35 percent of U.S. equities are now owned by foreigners, triple the level during the Reagan years.

    What this means is that around 35 percent of a tax cut from an administration that proudly uses the slogan "America first" — $700 billion over the next decade — wouldn't even go to Americans. Instead, it would be a windfall to wealthy foreigners, who would probably gain a lot more from the tax cut than U.S. workers. Oh, and it makes all that talk about allies not paying their "fair share" sound kind of silly, doesn't it?

    And meanwhile, the result would be a huge hole in the budget, which Republicans would try to close at the expense of the poor and middle class. The budget resolution the House and Senate passed over the last week called for cuts of $1 trillion in Medicaid and almost half a trillion in Medicare. The resolution doesn't have the force of law, but it's a pretty clear indication of what's next if the big tax cuts pass.

    Now, it may sound extreme to say that Trump and his allies want to take away health care from millions largely so that they can give wealthy foreigners a $700 billion gift. But however it may sound, it's also the literal truth.



    3)  Battle of Treaty Camp

    No other incident during Standing Rock better illustrates the collaboration between police and private security in suppressing the NoDAPL movement.

    By Alleen BrownWill ParrishAlice Speri

    The Intercept, October 27, 2017


    One year ago today, on October 27, 2016, hundreds of law enforcement officers descended on a small resistance camp that stood directly in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline, forcibly evicting residents and arresting 142 people—more than on any other day in the 11-month-long Standing Rock struggle. Seven people, all Native American, were slapped with rare federal charges, and additional cases stemming from the raid continue to move through the North Dakota legal system.

    Although it was not the most violent confrontation between the pipeline resistance and law enforcement, no other incident better illustrates the collaboration between federal, local, and state police and private security in suppressing the NoDAPL movement, nor would any be as symbolic of the historic proportions of the native-led fight. A year later, two other pipeline fights—against Enbridge Line 3 and Keystone XL—are brewing nearby in South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. As indigenous leaders in those fights stand again on treaty rights against the pipelines, the October 27 standoff and the eviction of Treaty Camp have become a roadmap for both water protectors and law enforcement as they prepare for battles to come.

    The Intercept has obtained hours of police bodycam and aerial footage, as well as photographs, audio recordings, and a large set of incident reports describing police activities during the October 27 raid. That material, selections of which appear below[1], along with interviews with more than a dozen water protectors who were present that day, paints the most detailed picture yet of the most dramatic standoff between indigenous people and U.S. police forces in over four decades.

    Drive north on Highway 1806 through the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, cross the Cannonball River, and you enter unceded treaty territory—land indigenous people never agreed to relinquish.

    Immediately north of the river begins federal land controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where the largest Dakota Access Pipeline resistance camp, known as Oceti Sakowin, was located for seven months beginning in August 2016. Just north of there, the Dakota Access Pipeline now crosses the highway. Energy Transfer Partners bought the property on either side of the road, known as Cannonball Ranch. The legality of its sale to ETP is questionable under a North Dakota law that blocks corporations from buying agricultural land. But North Dakota law aside, native historians say, that land should never have been for sale: It belongs to the Sioux. If the Fort Laramie treaties in 1851 and 1868 had been honored, the site would still be controlled by the Great Sioux Nation.

    For water protectors, the fight against the pipeline was only the latest episode in two centuries of native resistance to U.S. government incursion into the northern Great Plains, part of a lineage that includes the 1876 Battle of Greasy Grass, where indigenous people defeated the U.S. 7th Cavalry in defense of their treaty rights to South Dakota's Black Hills; the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, where as many as 300 Lakota people were killed by U.S. soldiers; and the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, where armed members of the American Indian Movement faced off with federal agents in protest of a corrupt local government and the U.S. government's legacy of broken treaties.

    This latest confrontation was not supposed to involve guns—the water protectors were mostly committed to unarmed opposition—but it did invoke that bloody history.

    Law enforcement planned to evict the Treaty Camp on October 26, but a soupy fog descended on the hills. A small envoy of local, state, and federal officers drove toward the blockade that water protectors had erected on the highway to keep police out.

    They were greeted by Mekasi Camp Horinek, a member of the Ponca tribe from Oklahoma, whose uncle Carter Camp helped organize the Wounded Knee occupation in 1973. He was joined by several other pipeline opponents.

    The negotiators talked in circles, with Horinek and his companions returning repeatedly to the issue of the Fort Laramie treaties, which law enforcement repeatedly argued was not their jurisdiction.

    "So is this about water and oil, or is this about 140 years?" Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney replied, referring to the Great Sioux War, which ended with the U.S. government's annexation of the sacred Black Hills.

    "Everything. All of that. We've had enough. We've had enough," one of the water protectors said.

    As the conversation broke down, Horinek declared, "Highway 1806 is now a no-surrender line, and that camp is no retreat."

    "That's your final word?" Laney asked.

    "That's the final word," Horinek replied.

    Reflecting on that day nearly a year later, Horinek explained that the experiences of native people 140 years ago are impossible to disentangle from the poverty and environmental contamination seen across Indian Country today.

    To him, the October 27 raid was a visible reminder that the past is present. "I wanted the world to see this militarized force coming in like it's the 1800s with their Gatling guns and their advanced weaponry," he told The Intercept. "I wanted pictures of them slashing those teepees; I wanted pictures of them pulling open those teepees and arresting families."

    In the weeks preceding the founding of the Treaty Camp, direct action had become a daily ritual for residents of the resistance camps nearby. On some mornings, convoys of cars carrying water protectors would weave through the hills toward construction sites or government buildings identified as protest targets. A team of lawyers stood at the ready to assist those who were arrested and detained. But the temperature was dropping below freezing at night. Winter would doubtlessly sap energy from the movement.

    Meanwhile, scouts and drones sent out into the hills were returning with reports that the construction was getting closer to the highway crossing and to the river.

    Water protectors felt a growing sense of urgency.

    Joye Braun came to the NoDAPL movement already a veteran pipeline fighter. She was involved with a Keystone XL opposition camp on South Dakota's Cheyenne River Sioux reservation. After Obama's State Department denied Keystone XL a key permit, putting it to a halt, Braun became the first person to pitch a teepee at the first DAPL resistance camp, called Sacred Stone.

    "The only way you can stop a pipeline when it gets that drastic is to go in front of it," Braun said. "This was our land. This is our land."

    According to treaties signed between the U.S. government and indigenous nations in the 19th century, Cannonball Ranch—the land DAPL eventually purchased—should have never been for sale.

    That's because the pipeline route cuts through land that the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty, intended to buy peace and safe passage for settlers moving through the area, established as belonging to the Sioux. In 1868, the treaty was superseded by a second treaty that established the Great Sioux reservation. But while that treaty created a reservation whose borders were further south, it also determined that the land DAPL bought was "unceded Indian territory"—a designation that holds to this day, despite the beliefs of some U.S. elected officials.

    "Unceded land is land that was never given over or conceded; it's essentially stolen land," Nick Estes, a Lakota historian, told The Intercept. Cannonball Ranch, specifically, was "illegally settled," Estes said, and acquired as private property through squatters' rights.

    Only an act of Congress can abridge a treaty, opening unceded territory for non-native settlement, Estes said—but that never happened with this particular land, the status of which remains disputed. Disputes over unceded land have arisen before—most notably over the Black Hills, which resulted in a 1980 Supreme Court decision that offered a monetary settlement as reparation for the settled land—but no actual land restitution. Indigenous people have refused to take that money.

    "Turning private land back into indigenous land…is near impossible," said Estes. "Private property always trumps indigenous land rights, and that's just how the federal system works."

    "People think…oh, that was back in the 1800s, and that was a long time ago, and those don't have any merit today," said Braun. "That's my land, that's the Lakota and Dakota people of this territory."

    On October 23, Braun moved her teepee to what would become the Treaty Camp. But she never doubted that a police confrontation was imminent. Two days earlier, police had moved their staging area from the Mandan airport, a 40-minute drive from the heart of the protests, to Fort Rice, ten minutes away.

    "I think every night I only got about an hour of sleep because we were constantly under threat of them moving in," Braun said. "There were constant rumors—they're coming, they're coming, they're coming."

    Then, on the morning of October 27, "They came marching in."

    To Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, whose department led the law enforcement response to the pipeline protests, treaty enforcement is the federal government's job. "I understand the treaties and what that's about," he told The Intercept.

    "This was a federal problem from the beginning of it," he said, adding, "We as the county officials can't do anything about it."

    "That's the irony of it," Estes said. "County sheriffs and any law enforcement officials are supposed to uphold federal law and the Constitution, and in the Constitution, it says that the treaties are the supreme law of the land."

    Nonetheless, Kirchmeier would lead some 300 officers to clear the Treaty Camp on October 27.

    It wasn't just local police that would join the operation. In August, North Dakota's Department of Emergency Services activated the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows states to import police from other states. On October 27, 97 out-of-state officers participated in the raid—approximately a third of the force.

    An array of federal agencies was involved, too. Ninety federal law enforcement officials from various agencies had taken part in monitoring the DAPL resistance by October 23, police records show—and 14 of them took part in the October 27 operations, according to police. Meanwhile, the law enforcement Emergency Operations Center in Bismarck, established to respond to the DAPL protests, hosted daily meetings that included intelligence officers from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other agencies.

    Still, after more than two months of DAPL demonstrations, police felt under-resourced, frustrated that the federal government refused to take control of the situation by making a final decision on the pipeline or sending more support.

    This would be one of the largest operations the multi-agency force had carried out. "The biggest concern is that there were several hundred individuals that were camped out on private property, and that could not continue," Sheriff Kirchmeier said.

    Treaty Camp would be defended at two front lines: on Highway 1806, where water protectors set up a barricade directly north of the camp, and on County Road 134, a dirt road that bisects the highway south of Treaty Camp and north of Oceti Sakowin Camp. Water protectors suspected police would use the dirt road to cut off access to the larger camp, where several-hundreds of water protectors had stayed behind.

    Desiree Kane, a Miwok freelance reporter who stayed at the resistance camps from May to December 2016, approached County Road 134 as the standoff with police began. Within hours, barricades were set ablaze in between the water protectors and the police.

    Despite the flames, Kane said, "There was an overwhelming sense of calm." Singers sang prayer songs to the beat of a hand drum. On the hills, horse riders looked down on the gathering. "I think it's portrayed as mayhem, but that's not what I witnessed."

    At Highway 1806, however, arguments had broken out about whether to allow police to extinguish a barricade fire that was sending smoke billowing into the hills. Horinek backed away from his cry of "No surrender; no retreat." Despite objections, he pushed people back, allowing police to inch forward. "I think had we not slowly pulled back that there would have been loss of life on October 27, 2016," he said.

    Soon, law enforcement began deploying pepper spray, Tasers, rubber bullets, sound cannons, and batons against water protectors.

    Frank Archambault, a Standing Rock tribal member and member of a camp security group, found himself pleading with water protectors to avoid provoking police. "We're all the time trying to stop them from throwing stuff, so they don't have an excuse to shoot those people," he said.

    Allison Renville, a member of the Great Sioux Nation from South Dakota, saw historical trauma playing out in the mixed reactions of her fellow water protectors. "A lot of it had to do with fight or flight, a natural response when you're threatened that bad that you're waiting to die," she said.

    "When I went out there, I went out with the mindset of, I'm going out there to protect and stand for what is right, and if that costs me my life, then so be it," said Elih Lizama, an Apache and Mayan pipeline opponent from California, who joined a group of horse riders assigned to patrol the hills that made up the DAPL property. But he didn't equate readiness for death with violence.

    "They brought guns to this fight," Lizama said. "All we have is our prayer."

    At a meeting of DAPL security personnel held the day before the Treaty Camp was raided, a PowerPoint was presented describing a volatile situation "There are outsiders deliberately moving the rioters toward violent action," the PowerPoint said. Under a category labeled "What we know," it noted, "Rioters do possess weapons." Under "What we do not know": "Number and type of weapons in the camp."

    TigerSwan, a firm made up of former military personnel hired by Energy Transfer Partners to manage its sprawling security operation, organized the daily briefings and made sure police knew what was being discussed. Public records show that Mercer County Sheriff Dean Danzeisen and Morton County Sheriff's Deputy Lynn Wanner received the presentations.

    A spokesperson for Morton County said that they only used the information from briefings for "situational awareness." Mercer County did not respond to requests for comment. TigerSwan and Energy Transfer Partners did not respond either.

    In an interview with The Intercept, Kirchmeier insisted that law enforcement kept private security at a distance. "When we did a law enforcement function or we had a law enforcement incident, I did not want the private security anywhere near where the law enforcement was," he said. "Could they stay up on the hilltops and that type of thing? Yes, because it was on Dakota Access property."

    But he admitted that law enforcement and DAPL security did sometimes work together, "depending on the circumstance."

    "Did we talk to private security? Absolutely. We used them as a resource just like many other resources that are out there," he said, listing asset sharing that included police using private security's snow mobiles and ATVs for their operations.

    For example, police were using ATVs owned by DAPL to distribute their own personnel throughout the sweeping plains, including at least one sniper, who crouched in the weeds aiming at Highway 134. A Morton County Sheriff's Department spokesperson told The Intercept, "Because [law enforcement] received numerous threats that protesters had snipers in the hills and people hiding with weapons in the trees, we had to take precautions. Our [law enforcement] was not there to shoot at targets, but rather to observe and protect our officers in the area."

    On the day of the Treaty Camp raid, private security personnel also provided police with extra hands.

    As the line of police moved down Highway 1806, Alyssa Beaulieu, of the Red Lake band of Ojibwe in Minnesota, and a handful of others jumped a fence and started running though the field where pipeline construction was underway. She was quickly surrounded by men in plainclothes.

    "They were trying to herd us," she added, describing how police and security were able to control people's movement, "so I just stood there."

    "It was just a prideful thing. I could have run, I could have gone back to camp," she added. "But I had a moment." She and another protester were tackled to the ground by four men, including two DAPL security guards. Private security assisted police in attaching zip ties around her wrists.

    A spokesperson for the Morton County Sheriff's Department confirmed that the two men (shown in law enforcement video footage in the brown coat and the camouflage bandana) helping handcuff Beaulieu and her companion were DAPL security officers.

    "Security was not arresting—they do not have the authority to do so—they are only helping with detaining the unlawful protesters," the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Intercept. The spokesperson added that it was "not any different than if an intruder was on your private property—you have every right to try to hold them, detain them, as the police arrive to arrest them."

    Deeper in the hills, horse riders were facing off with police and private security in ATVs, in trucks, and even in the air. Lizama had been scouting on horseback in the plains for days, watching the activities of police and private security, "We knew they were dropping people off to spy on people from the hills," he said.

    Where horses couldn't go, water protectors sent drones to conduct reconnaissance. But by the day of the raid, the aircraft had been officially banned. On October 23, the day the first tents went up at Treaty Camp, North Dakota officials submitted a request to the Federal Aviation Administration for a rare "temporary flight restriction" covering the airspace above the pipeline resistance.

    The no-fly zone was in place between October 25 and December 13—allowing "only relief aircraft ops under direction of North Dakota Tactical Operations Center," according to the FAA. But on the day of the raid, DAPL's helicopter continued to fly above, alongside North Dakota Highway Patrol aircraft, officially becoming part of the law enforcement's eviction effort. According to Kirchmeier, a law enforcement officer always accompanied DAPL personnel in the private aircraft.

    From above, police and private security captured footage of the raid and the action in the countryside, some of which would be used later in the prosecution of water protectors.

    Meanwhile, on Highway 1806, police were breaking up various ceremonies in the midst of the standoff. They separated and arrested a huddle of elders immersed in prayer. Joseph Hock, of the Mackinac tribe from Michigan, was pulled out of a sweat lodge. "I was sort of a little fuzzy-headed by then," he said. "It was like jumping in ice-cold water in the middle of winter, that's what it felt like."

    In the distance, smoke billowed, as a bulldozer was set on fire in an area off 1806 where DAPL stored its equipment. The group blocking County Road 134 had retreated.

    Still, there was defiance in the faces of many, even as it became clear the camp had fallen. "Regardless if we come out of this whole thing heroes or not, we were fighting for our people that day; we were fighting for our land," Renville said. "We felt like we were winning."

    In the hills, three water protectors on horseback put into action a plan formulated by Lizama and his crew in the first days of Treaty Camp: They drove a herd of buffalo from an area ranch toward the frontline. As police moved farther and farther south, the buffalo stampeded in the background. "This is the epitome of Indian Country—what it's like to be here. We're in a modern-day Indian war," Renville said. "When it comes to these attacks on the environment, these treaty laws are the only thing that can save us because they're the supreme law of the land."

    As water protectors retreated, a call came over the radio, "Gunman, gunman, gunman."

    A white truck careened down Highway 1806 toward the big Oceti Sakowin camp, where thousands of DAPL opponents had stayed as the smaller front-line camp was evicted.

    "All of a sudden a guy with a gun comes toward us," said Mike Fasig, a member of the camp security group. Fasig thought of the camp full of women, elders, and children, imagining the melee that would follow if the gunman opened fire near the police line.

    Fasig and another security group member, Israel Hernandez, jumped into their respective vehicles and sped toward the gunman's vehicle.

    The man at the wheel of the white truck was Kyle Thompson, a guard for Leighton security, one of about half-a-dozen private security companies working to guard the pipeline. Although Thompson was ex-military, Leighton mostly hired off-duty cops, including, said company president Kevin Mayberry, officers from the Morton County Sheriff's Department and other local agencies. Morton County told The Intercept that Leighton had requested personnel to watch an equipment yard. "The sheriff made the deputies aware of the job opportunity to serve as private security in their off hours (essentially, a second job—they were paid by Leighton). It was only for 12 days from August 5-17 because once the protest began, the deputies were needed to respond to that activity and worked plenty of overtime with that," said a spokesperson.

    For the water protectors, private security had been a constant presence since August. Scouts like Lizama encountered them dressed in ghillie suits, which are used by the military to disguise soldiers as piles of grass, hiding in the countryside at night. They followed drivers around. Rumors of security infiltrating the camps—later proven to be founded—had circulated for weeks.

    The sudden appearance on October 27 of an armed private security officer was the manifestation of a threat they had always felt was lurking.

    In an interview with The Intercept, Thompson said he drove toward the camp responding to a message that equipment was on fire near Highway 1806.

    He said that as he approached the side road where the burning construction equipment was located, wearing a red bandana to disguise himself as a water protector, he saw a crowd of people. "I got super paranoid and nervous. I was security, and in a sense behind the lines," Thompson said. Sitting next to him was his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

    Mayberry said that his company largely stayed away from protesters and did not deploy disguised guards. "We had no guards doing that, so if he was doing that, or if somebody was doing that, that's on him; that has nothing to do with our company," he said, adding that non-law enforcement were not supposed to be armed. "We didn't even know he had a gun with him," he said.

    Water protectors noticed the unfamiliar truck and asked Thompson who he was. "Brian," he lied.

    But the water protectors didn't miss his rifle.

    "They were like, stop that truck. If they stopped me and got into it, I realize they would have known who I was. I don't know what they would have done," Thompson recalled. So he sped down the road, steering into the ditch to avoid pedestrians. As he drove, people attempted to block his path.

    "The suicide by law enforcement thing popped back into my head," Thompson said later, recalling a warning he said he'd heard in one of the daily security briefings. "These people are almost willing to get run over."

    "If he would have shot those rounds off, the police would have killed us," said Horinek. As was the case with many other water protectors, his thoughts immediately went to Wounded Knee, when a single shot fired as the U.S. 7th Cavalry descended on an encampment of Lakota people sparked a massacre.

    As Thompson's white truck neared the Oceti Sakowin camp, Fasig veered left, ramming Thompson to a halt. Thompson emerged from the vehicle holding his AR-15, finger on the trigger. The crowd screamed at him to put down the gun. He backed into the pond on the side of the road as water protectors, one armed with a knife, surrounded him and attempted to disarm him. Pipeline opponents set his truck on fire.

    While Thompson was eventually disarmed and arrested by officers with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, he was never charged. Instead, it would be Fasig and two others who tried to disarm Thompson who would face felony charges.

    To Fasig, the outcome seemed twisted. "If you have an unknown person wearing a mask with an AR-15 that took the license plates off his truck, and he's going through a ditch and driving around people in an aggressive manner, trying to get close to your schools and your churches—if the citizens in that city take and do everything they can to stop that man, that city would have a parade," he said. "But when it comes to employees of Dakota Access doing anything like that toward Native Americans, we all of a sudden become criminals."

    Many of the 142 people arrested at Treaty Camp that day told The Intercept that they were held on the highway in handcuffs for hours, stripped of their clothes, and had identification numbers written on their arms.

    Eventually, they were loaded onto school buses, some barefoot and in their underwear, and taken to Morton County, where they were packed into dog kennels before being shipped to jails across the state, including some several hours away, without being told where they were going. Upon release, many returned to find that their cars had been impounded and their tents and property dumped on a pile on the ground.

    Hock, who was pulled out of the sweat lodge, said he returned to find his belongings, including a sacred pipe, had been urinated on.

    "They wanted to degrade and humiliate us so that we would turn back and go home," he told The Intercept. "But what they actually did added to the resolve to go ahead and stand up and fight even more."

    The spokesperson for the Morton County Sheriff's Department confirmed that "fenced cubicles" were used on that day but stressed that "all essential services" were provided to those temporarily held in them. She added that "the inmates had the number written on their arms so it couldn't be easily removed," as had happened on previous occasions, and noted that those arrested were only allowed to keep one layer of clothes for safety reasons. "If they didn't want that layer to be their long underwear, they had the option of going to the restroom to remove the underwear and change into their pants," the spokesperson wrote.

    She also confirmed that those arrested were not told where they were being taken to in order to avoid "the potential for the bus being stopped and surrounded on the highway by a mass of people, or a mass of people gathering at the destination attempting to disrupt the process and creating a dangerous situation."

    "The private security company working for the landowner likely knows what was done with property left behind," the spokesperson added, noting that as those arrested were trespassing, the property owners had no obligation to return their belongings. "If there was property urinated upon, it was not done by law enforcement."

    In all, over the course of seven months, 838 people faced charges in at least 427 separate DAPL-related criminal cases in North Dakota, according to the Water Protector Legal Collective, a group of lawyers representing many of those defendants. As of late September, 427 people's cases remained open, 289 were dismissed, 105 resolved through plea deals or other pretrial diversions, and ten resulted in convictions. Two more people were convicted and imprisoned last week—the first to receive a jail sentence in connection to last year's protests.

    The most serious charges involve incidents that took place on October 27.

    Five people accused of helping set the County Road 134 bridge on fire—as well as one person accused of setting a Highway 1806 barricade ablaze—were charged with "commission of a civil disorder" and "using fire to commit a civil disorder," federal charges that carry a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison. And a woman named Red Fawn Fallis faces three federal felony charges—after a gun went off when officers tackled her to the ground on the day of the Treaty Camp raid.  She faces the possibility of life in prison.

    "A lot of people thought that it was over after Standing Rock, and they didn't think how this is years long. We have cases scheduled out through July," said Timothy Cominghay, a member of Freshet—a native collective that's been providing support to those returning to North Dakota for their court dates. "This is just a different type of resistance."

    Months after he drove his truck toward the Oceti Sakowin Camp, Thompson, the private security guard, emerged as an unlikely ally to those facing charges for attempting to disarm him.

    "The water protectors that day, they had a mission to protect their own people," Thompson told Myron Dewey, a water protector and journalist with Digital Smoke Signals, in a Facebook Live interview on July 12. "It was just a miscommunication on both sides, I believe, that made us do what we did."

    Following that interview, a state prosecutor dropped charges against Brennon Nastacio, one of the water protectors that had attempted to disarm Thompson in the water, saying that Thompson's statements had raised "significant doubt as to whether the state could meet its burden of proof with regard to the charge of terrorizing." According to an agreement with the court, Fasig and Hernandez will see their charges dismissed in a year if they pay fines and commit no crimes.

    "I'm ready for this all to be over with. But I also want to help and get the truth out there. The charges people are facing are a little bit extreme for what they did," Thompson told The Intercept. "I feel like I have people who don't like me on both sides now. I feel like a lot of protectors that don't like me. A lot of law enforcement that don't like me."

    Most water protectors and police have doubled down on their resolve—and new pipeline fights have picked up across the country.

    "There is a lot of interest throughout the country on what happened and how we handled it, what we learned, and those type of issues," Sheriff Kirchmeier told The Intercept. "I have been around, went to several other states and talking to emergency managers, to other sheriffs, to those individuals who are interested in it. The main interest is trying to find out a little bit about the background, the history of it, and what we could do, and what we did do for the safety of everybody involved."

    Joye Braun is preparing for the next treaty stand. The newly revived Keystone XL Pipeline would swing just outside the boundary of her Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and awaits a major decision from Nebraska.

    "There won't be another Standing Rock, just like there won't be a Wounded Knee '73," she said. "But we learned a lot of lessons."

    If the Keystone XL Pipeline begins construction, Braun will pitch a teepee at another frontline camp.

    The Intercept, October 27, 2017


    [1] A selection of police bodycam and aerial footage, as well as photographs, audio recordings, and a large set of incident reports describing police activities during the October 27 raid can be found at:




    4) Catalonia's Ousted Leader Calls for Peaceful Defiance

     OCT. 28, 2017




    BARCELONA, Spain — In a defiant message, Catalonia's ousted leader, Carles Puigdemont, called on Saturday for Catalans to unite in peaceful "democratic opposition" after the Spanish central government took control of the restive region — an act Mr. Puigdemont called "premeditated aggression."

    Mr. Puigdemont said in a televised address that "our will is to continue to work to meet our democratic mandates," in an indication that his government may attempt to ignore its dismissal and, in effect, create two competing administrations.

    He spoke a day after Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, fired him and the entire Catalan cabinet and set a date for new regional elections.

    Madrid's hard-line stance was announced shortly after regional lawmakers illegally declared an independent republic, setting up a showdown that escalated the biggest political crisis the country has faced in decades.

    On Saturday, a day after the Spanish Senate voted to give Mr. Rajoy emergency powers under Article 155 of Spain's Constitution to end the secessionism drive, the full force of the national government's actions went into effect. Madrid took control of Catalonia's government, according to a plan published early on Saturday.

    Dozens of other Catalan officials were expected to be fired, but Enric Millo, the current representative of the central government in Catalonia, told Catalunya Radio on Saturday that he expected Madrid to make "the minimum possible" staff changes.

    Mr. Puigdemont, speaking from the Catalan capital, Barcelona, insisted that Mr. Rajoy was removing a democratically elected government.

    "These are decisions contrary to the will expressed by the citizens of our country at the ballot boxes," he said. He added that the central government in Madrid "knows perfectly well that, in a democratic society, it is the Parliaments that choose or remove presidents."

    Madrid also took control of the regional police force and fired the regional police chief, Maj. Josep Lluís Trapero.

    Pere Soler, the ousted director general of the Catalan police force and Major Trapero's boss, sent a letter to his officers, expressing regret over his removal and thanking them for their work.

    Major Trapero, who is facing possible sedition charges after he was accused of failing to stop protesters last month from encircling national police officers, also wrote to his colleagues. He reminded them that their task was to "guarantee the safety of everybody" in the coming days, should the political crisis spur more unrest.

    As Mr. Puigdemont spoke on Saturday, throngs of Spaniards gathered in central Madrid — many of them waving flags, some wrapped in them — to protest Catalonia's unilateral declaration of independence.

    "We are resisting xenophobia," one man said into a microphone, before shouting, "Long live Catalonia, long live the king, long live Spain."

    The crowd chanted: "Don't lie to us, Catalonia. You are part of Spain."

    Many protesters said that Madrid had to enforce its decision to invoke Article 155. Some said that, if necessary, the army should be sent in, though most said it would not come to that.

    "They need to apply the law," said Chema Martinez, 22, who described himself as a patriot and a Catholic and wore a Spanish flag with the Sacred Heart of Jesus stamped on its center.

    "The army is there to defend Spain," he said. "They should send in the army to Catalonia; that's what needs to be done."

    At one point, the Spanish national anthem began to play, and many who had been quietly listening as they sat on the curb silently stood up.

    Agueda Rivera, 77, tears streaming down her face, said: "I'm crying. I'm crying for my Spain."

    On Friday, Mr. Rajoy announced that new Catalan elections would be held on Dec. 21, the earliest possible date, in an apparent bid to show frustrated Catalans that Madrid wanted to avoid prolonging a constitutional crisis.

    By limiting Madrid's control over Catalonia to 55 days, analysts said, Mr. Rajoy and his allies were hoping to quickly turn the tables on the separatists, who staged an independence referendum on Oct. 1 that had been declared illegal by Spain's government and courts.

    "It's Rajoy's attempt to regain the democratic initiative, but also a surprisingly risky bet that he can really beat the independence movement," said Josep Ramoneda, a political columnist and philosopher.

    "Whether it works will depend on the level of resistance to Madrid in the coming weeks, which perhaps won't be that high given that people are exhausted and need a break."

    Albert Rivera, the national leader of Ciudadanos, the party that has been Mr. Rajoy's main ally in fighting secessionism, told a party conference on Saturday morning, "We will now come out to beat them, but by voting."

    The December elections, he said, were an opportunity for "all the Catalans who have been silenced by nationalism," after opponents of independence mostly boycotted the Oct. 1 referendum.

    "We will now claim the right to vote in freedom," Mr. Rivera added, "to show the world that this is a free and democratic country."

    Vicent Sanchis, the general manager of the Catalan public television station, TV3, said that it remained to be seen how much practical control Mr. Rajoy could exert over Catalan institutions.

    "We live in an uncertain moment," Mr. Sanchis said in his office. "We now have two parallel legitimacies and we still don't know which one controls the Catalan institutions."

    "The key thing now is to discover what pressure the Madrid government will now exert," he added. "In the coming days, we'll find out."

    Jordi Borda, the deputy director of Catalunya Radio, said a crucial test would come on Monday.

    "If the Catalan ministers go to work on Monday and manage to work normally, it will be a strong step towards consolidating what the Catalan Parliament voted on yesterday," Mr. Borda said.

    "If Monday is a normal day," he said, "it will be a victory for the independence movement."

    Spain's attorney general is expected to take legal action against Mr. Puigdemont and other leading separatists on Monday, possibly on grounds of rebellion, which carries a prison sentence of as long as 30 years.

    Joan Queralt, a professor of criminal law at the University of Barcelona, said he expected the attorney general to act forcefully.

    "One thing is what the law says and another is how far the government can act," Professor Queralt said. "I've got the feeling that the attorney general will do whatever he wants, just as happens when governments deal with terrorists."



    5)  Mexico's Record Violence Is a Crisis 20 Years in the Making

    By   OCT. 28, 2017




    MEXICO CITY — The forces driving violence in Mexico, which is now on track for its worst year in decades, were first set in motion 20 years ago by two events that were, at the time, celebrated as triumphs.

    First, Colombia defeated its major drug cartels in the 1990s, driving the center of the drug trade from the country into Mexico.

    Then, in 2000, Mexico transitioned to a multiparty democracy.

    This meant that the drug trade moved to Mexico just as its politics and institutions were in flux, leaving them unable to address a problem they have often made worse.

    Since then, a series of bad breaks, missteps and self-imposed crises have led to an explosion of violence. Last year there were more than 20,000 killings. This year is on track to be worse, exceeding the 2011 record, which was thought to be the drug war's apex.

    "Drug trafficking is not this violent in other countries," Guillermo Valdés, a former leader of CISEN, the civil national security intelligence service, said in an interview in Mexico City.

    "It makes me desperate," he said, shaking his head at his country's missteps, "because this violence, it's increasing."

    Extreme Measures

    In 2006, a new president and a new drug cartel both took extreme actions, the consequences of which are still unfolding.

    The implosion of Colombian cartels set off a fierce competition in Mexico for control of the drug trade. A new cartel, La Familia Michoacána, broke off from a larger group, then cemented its power by deploying extreme, theatrical violence. Though they principally targeted other cartels, the gruesome attacks shocked Mexico.

    That same year, Felipe Calderón won the presidency by a hair. Though monitors approved the vote, his leftist opponent called it illegitimate, and the narrow victory for Mr. Calderón left him without a strong mandate.

    Shortly after taking office, the new president declared war on the cartels and sent in the military.

    Critics say Mr. Calderón sought to legitimize his presidency through the show of force.

    Defenders say he had little alternative. Mexico had been a single-party state and, like most such states, had controlled local officials through patronage and corruption. When that system disappeared, drug cartels filled the vacuum, buying off mayors and judges. Only the military had the firepower and autonomy to take them on.

    This began the drug war that has killed tens of thousands of people. But it also created a subtler set of problems now driving more and broader violence.

    Short-Term Solutions, Long-Term Problems

    Mr. Calderón adopted the so-called kingpin strategy, in which troops captured or killed cartel leaders. This generated headlines, pleased the United States and could be accomplished top-down, with little input from corrupt or weak local law enforcement.

    But this short-term solution to the drug war deepened long-term problems.

    In bypassing mayors and governors because Mexico's pre-democratic practices had left them systemically corrupt and unaccountable, the government further reduced their accountability.

    And in bypassing already weak local police and judges, the government allowed those institutions to atrophy, with money and political attention diverted to military and federal forces instead.

    Reforms, desperately needed to fix outdated practices — 24-hour police shifts, poor evidentiary standards, a rule that forbids most police officers from conducting investigations — drifted.

    As the kingpin strategy fractured the cartels, smaller groups rose in their place.

    Since then, said Alejandro Hope, a security analyst, "there has been a significant change in the way organized crime works in Mexico."

    Drug trafficking required resources and infrastructure that the new groups lacked, leading many to turn to kidnapping, theft and extortion. Predatory crimes spiked.

    Ordinary Mexicans, once bystanders to the conflict, became its targets at a moment when the state had left them vulnerable.

    "In the process of that fragmentation, we didn't do the job of structuring the institutions of the police forces," said Mr. Valdés, who ran the civil national security intelligence service as this was unfolding. "So we have the worst of the worst."

    'The Key Point of Failure'

    The solution to the problem would seem obvious. Strong police and prosecutors, overseen by politicians who are held accountable by voters, could close the vacuum in which gangs and corrupt officials flourish.

    Instead, disorder and violence have risen.

    Joy Langston, a political scientist at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics in Mexico City, traces many of the country's woes to a seemingly minor quirk in its political system.

    All candidates are selected by the party, and officials serve one term before being shuffled off to another post.

    During the one-party era, this was meant to impose accountability, which flowed from party leadership. Oversight institutions, seen as superfluous, never fully developed.

    Democracy, as intended, undercut the party's once all-encompassing power. But the old system built around the assumption of a strong central authority remains in place.

    This has weakened the state while cementing many of its old problems, creating what Ms. Langston called a "nightmare scenario" in which "the institutions of accountability and transparency are extraordinarily weak even after 17 years of democracy."

    For example, voters have little opportunity to kick out bad leaders or reward good ones, giving officials little incentive to push through difficult reforms. And criminal groups are able to fill the pockets of notoriously underpaid policemen and other civil servants — often providing the wrong kind of incentives.

    "At the end of the day, this is all an issue of accountability," Mr. Hope said. "That is the key point of failure in Mexico."

    "Nothing happens if a police officer does not do their work," he added. "Nothing happens if a mayor fails to transform local law enforcement. Nothing happens if a governor fails to invest in prosecutorial services. Nothing happens."

    A Frail State Recedes

    Though recent electoral changes will allow some officials to stand for re-election in 2021, deeper problems are taking root.

    As public outrage over corruption rises, party leaders, seeing their own careers in peril, are becoming more reluctant to risk pushing for change.

    "I cannot think of a single prosecutor or judge who stands out" on fighting corruption, said Paul F. Lagunes, a Columbia University professor who studies corruption.

    "There are people staking their careers on this, but not in the judiciary — in the press," Mr. Lagunes said.

    But, he added, "Mexico is one of the riskiest countries in the world to do journalism."

    The combination of corruption, weak accountability and weak institutions has left the state vulnerable. In poor and rural areas, it has effectively receded. Criminal groups and youth gangs are filling the void, co-opting local officials or simply muscling them out.

    The result may be less dramatic than Mr. Calderón's drug war, in which warring cartels publicly displayed dismembered corpses. But it is just as deadly, playing out in thousands of home invasions, gang killings and stickups gone wrong.

    State and Society Atomize

    This is leading communities to do, at the grass-roots level, what Mr. Calderón did a decade earlier: bypass distrusted institutions, worsening the underlying problem.

    Businesses and middle-class Mexicans are hiring private security in record numbers. But like the Army, hired guards cannot solve crimes or lock up suspects.

    Mark Ungar, a Brooklyn College professor, said this growing practice "relieves a lot of political pressure on the state to improve the police."

    Rural communities, which are more vulnerable, have formed "self-defense" militias to run off gangs and mayors alike.

    Inevitably, the militias are even more corruptible and less accountable than the police they replaced. Nearly all target their onetime sponsors for extortion, robbery and kidnapping. Many are involved in the heroin trade, which is booming as opioid addiction drives up American demand.

    In a disturbing trend, desperate and frightened communities increasingly seek at least the illusion of security by lynching suspected criminals.

    Mr. Ungar said these expressions of vigilantism "represent a disempowerment of the state."

    Paralysis Amid Disaster

    Mexicans seem keenly aware that their government is growing less responsive just as streets are becoming more dangerous. Polls show growing dissatisfaction, particularly over corruption.

    "We have this political class that totally forgets why they are there," said Armando Torjes, a community activist in Guadalupe, a working-class city in the northeast.

    Each election, he said, brings a new official with a new three-year plan. Most, he added, leave office conspicuously wealthier.

    When officials do act, they address superficial issues, adding more patrols or changing police strategy without confronting what he called the country's "social decomposition."

    Mr. Valdés, the former head of the intelligence service, described facing a similar struggle in top levels of government.

    "We wanted to improve the institutions, the judges, the jails, the police," he said. "We spent years trying to convince the political class."

    But he found those institutions — dominated by parties rather than technocrats and subject to the whims of officials who are required by law to cycle out every term — unresponsive, just as Mr. Torjes had.

    "What's happening in Guadalupe is what's happening in all of Mexico," Mr. Torjes said. "There was a political demand for change, but nothing really changed for us."



    6) Who Ordered Killing of Honduran Activist? Evidence of Broad Plot Is Found

     OCT. 28, 2017




    MEXICO CITY — It was just before midnight when two men kicked in the door to Berta Cáceres's house in the small Honduran mountain town of La Esperanza. Moving past the kitchen, one of them opened the door to her bedroom and fired six shots. She died moments later.

    In a country where the fight to protect land rights provokes violent retaliation, the murder in March 2016 of another environmental defender might simply have receded into a grim tally of regrettable losses.

    But Ms. Cáceres, 44, had won international acclaim for leading her indigenous Lenca community against a dam planned on their land. Her prominence transformed her killing into an emblematic crime — and turned the investigation that followed into a challenge to the entrenched impunity of the powerful in Honduras.

    Now, 20 months after the killing, a team of five international lawyers has warned that the people who ordered it may never face justice.

    The evidence, the lawyers said, points to a plot against Ms. Cáceres that was months in the making and reached up to senior executives of Desarrollos Energéticos, known as Desa, the Honduran company holding the dam concession.

    "The existing proof is conclusive regarding the participation of numerous state agents, high-ranking executives and employees of Desa in the planning, execution and cover-up of the assassination," the lawyers wrote.

    Desa has repeatedly denied any involvement in Ms. Cáceres' death or any connection to "acts of violence and intimidation."

    Eight suspects are in custody, including Sergio Rodríguez Orellana, the social and environment manager for the company, and Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, a retired Honduran Army lieutenant who was Desa's director of security until mid-2015.

    "What the public ministry has yet to do is indict the people who hired Bustillo to plan the operation," said Miguel Ángel Urbina Martínez, one of the lawyers reviewing the case at the request of Ms. Cáceres's family. The lawyers' report, which The New York Times has obtained, will be released Tuesday.

    The government's investigation, by an elite unit in the Honduran attorney general's office, remains open, although the lawyers' group said there was no sign that it had progressed beyond the eight suspects.

    Two American advisers, a retired homicide detective and a former federal prosecutor, have been working with Honduran authorities since the first days of the inquiry, part of an effort by the United States Embassy to push the government of President Juan Orlando Hernández to solve high-profile criminal cases.

    Many of those cases involve powerful groups that critics say operate beyond the law. "The great challenge for Honduras is to dismantle these parallel forces," said Mr. Urbina, a criminal justice expert from Guatemala and an adviser on judicial reform.

    To prepare the report, Mr. Urbina's group examined some 40,000 pages of text messages, which were retrieved by Honduran government investigators from three cellphones, one seized at Desa's offices and two used by Mr. Rodríguez and Mr. Bustillo.

    The messages, according to the report, show that the two men remained in frequent contact with three high-ranking Desa executives as they tracked the movements of Ms. Cáceres and other members of her organization, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, known as Copinh.

    The conversations reveal, the lawyers said, that the orders to threaten Copinh and sabotage its protests came from Desa executives who were exercising control over security forces in the area, issuing instructions and paying for police units' food, lodging and radio equipment.

    "There was this criminal structure comprised of company executives and employees, state agents and criminal gangs that used violence, threats and intimidation," said Roxanna Altholz, the associate director of the Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the lawyers' group.

    The other members of the legal team are a former war crimes prosecutor, Dan Saxon, and two Colombian prosecutors who have tried human rights cases, Jorge E. Molano Rodríguez and Liliana María Uribe Tirado. They have been working on the case for a year, traveling to Honduras to conduct interviews and review case material.

    "The existing proof is conclusive regarding the participation of numerous state agents, high-ranking executives and employees of Desa in the planning, execution and cover-up of the assassination," the lawyers wrote.

    Desa has repeatedly denied any involvement in Ms. Cáceres' death or any connection to "acts of violence and intimidation."

    Eight suspects are in custody, including Sergio Rodríguez Orellana, the social and environment manager for the company, and Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, a retired Honduran Army lieutenant who was Desa's director of security until mid-2015.

    "What the public ministry has yet to do is indict the people who hired Bustillo to plan the operation," said Miguel Ángel Urbina Martínez, one of the lawyers reviewing the case at the request of Ms. Cáceres's family. The lawyers' report, which The New York Times has obtained, will be released Tuesday.

    The government's investigation, by an elite unit in the Honduran attorney general's office, remains open, although the lawyers' group said there was no sign that it had progressed beyond the eight suspects.

    Two American advisers, a retired homicide detective and a former federal prosecutor, have been working with Honduran authorities since the first days of the inquiry, part of an effort by the United States Embassy to push the government of President Juan Orlando Hernández to solve high-profile criminal cases.

    Many of those cases involve powerful groups that critics say operate beyond the law. "The great challenge for Honduras is to dismantle these parallel forces," said Mr. Urbina, a criminal justice expert from Guatemala and an adviser on judicial reform.

    To prepare the report, Mr. Urbina's group examined some 40,000 pages of text messages, which were retrieved by Honduran government investigators from three cellphones, one seized at Desa's offices and two used by Mr. Rodríguez and Mr. Bustillo.

    The messages, according to the report, show that the two men remained in frequent contact with three high-ranking Desa executives as they tracked the movements of Ms. Cáceres and other members of her organization, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, known as Copinh.

    The conversations reveal, the lawyers said, that the orders to threaten Copinh and sabotage its protests came from Desa executives who were exercising control over security forces in the area, issuing instructions and paying for police units' food, lodging and radio equipment.

    "There was this criminal structure comprised of company executives and employees, state agents and criminal gangs that used violence, threats and intimidation," said Roxanna Altholz, the associate director of the Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the lawyers' group.

    The other members of the legal team are a former war crimes prosecutor, Dan Saxon, and two Colombian prosecutors who have tried human rights cases, Jorge E. Molano Rodríguez and Liliana María Uribe Tirado. They have been working on the case for a year, traveling to Honduras to conduct interviews and review case material.

    The lawyers were chosen by Bertha Zúñiga, Ms. Cáceres's daughter, with recommendations from the Center for Justice and International Law, a Latin American human rights organization.

    The text messages were handed over to Ms. Cáceres's family this May on the orders of a judge after Honduran prosecutors canceled four appointments to share their findings.

    The question, Ms. Altholz said, was why the prosecutor's office, which seized the phones in April and May last year, had failed to act on "the quality and the amount of information" that "it has had in its possession for the last year and a half."

    A spokesman for the attorney general's office said he could not comment immediately.

    For Ms. Cáceres's daughter, the content of the messages only reinforces the sense that Desa's executives felt untouchable. "They were so confident of impunity that they talked openly," Ms. Zúñiga said.

    The company has come to the defense of its employee, Mr. Rodríguez, the environmental manager. He is "a family man, honest and hard-working, who is unjustly deprived of his freedom," Desa's dam division, Agua Zarca Hydroelectric, said in an unsigned email. The company "completely trusts in the innocence of Mr. Rodríguez."

    Desa obtained a concession to build a dam on the Gualcarque River in western Honduras in 2009. By law the company was required to consult with the Lenca community, but Copinh opposed the project from the beginning, arguing that the dam would jeopardize the community's water resources and livelihood.

    From the start, Desa was an odd creation, said Juan Jiménez Mayor, the head of an anti-corruption commission backed by the Organization of American States. It had only $1,200 in equity when it won the dam concession, along with operating permits, water rights and a contract to sell power to the state electricity company.

    In 2011, members of the Atala family, one of the most influential in Honduras, injected millions of dollars into the company and joined the board. Mr. Jiménez' commission has begun to investigate Desa's contracts, a move that drew an angry response from Honduran business groups.

    Copinh fought the dam on several fronts. It filed legal challenges, led community meetings and brought a case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which ordered the Honduran government to provide protective measures for Ms. Cáceres. She had been receiving death threats and knew they were serious. Four members of Copinh were killed in 2013 and 2014.

    In 2015, she won the Goldman Environmental Prize, which is awarded to grass-roots environmental leaders. But it was not enough to protect her.

    In November 2015, according to the lawyers' report, the former security chief Mr. Bustillo met with a high-ranking Desa executive. In January, he visited La Esperanza and later obtained a gun through Mariano Díaz Chávez, a former Honduran special forces officer who is accused of organizing the hit squad that assassinated Ms. Cáceres.

    An attempt to kill Ms. Cáceres was planned for early February but called off, the lawyers said. "Mission aborted today," Mr. Bustillo wrote to a Desa executive. "Yesterday, we couldn't."

    The report did not name the Desa executives because they have not been charged by Honduran authorities.

    Mr. Bustillo returned to La Esperanza for several days at the end of February and arranged to meet with the same executive on March 2. Early on March 3, after Ms. Cáceres was killed, Mr. Bustillo called him again.

    After the killing, Mr. Rodríguez, the environment manager, forwarded details of the crime scene report that police had provided to one of the company's executives.

    "Sergio, relax," another executive wrote through WhatsApp, a few days later. "Everything will come out O.K. you'll see. Don't panic and pass that on to other people."



    7)  Will Congress Ever Limit the Forever-Expanding 9/11 War?

     OCT. 28, 2017




    WASHINGTON — A Navy SEAL, killed alongside civilians in a January raid on a village in Yemen. Another SEAL, killed while accompanying Somali forces on a May raid. And now four Army soldiers, dead in an ambush this month in Niger.

    These American combat deaths — along with those of about 10 service members killed this year in Afghanistan and Iraq — underscore how a law passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has been stretched to permit open-ended warfare against Islamist militant groups scattered across the Muslim world.

    The law, commonly called the A.U.M.F., on its face provided congressional authorization to use military force only against nations, groups or individuals responsible for the attacks. But while the specific enemy lawmakers were thinking about in September 2001 was the original Al Qaeda and its Taliban host in Afghanistan, three presidents of both parties have since invoked the 9/11 war authority to justify battle against Islamist militants in many other places.

    On Monday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as lawmakers renew a debate over whether they should update and replace that law, revitalizing Congress's constitutionally assigned role of making fundamental decisions about going to war.

    But even as the Trump administration moves to ease some Obama-era constraints on counterterrorism operations, political obstacles to reaching a consensus on new parameters for a war authorization law look more daunting than ever.

    Previous efforts collapsed under disagreements between lawmakers opposed to restricting the executive branch's interpretation of its current wartime powers and those unwilling to vote for a new blank check for a forever war. Among the disputes: whether a replacement should have an expiration date, constrain the use of ground forces, limit the war's geographic scope and permit the government to start attacking other militant groups merely associated with the major enemies it would name.

    Adding to the political headwinds, two of the Republican lawmakers most interested in drafting a new war authorization law are lame ducks and estranged from the White House: Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has proposed a new war authorization bill with Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia. Both Republican senators, who have announced that they will not seek re-election, have publicly denounced Mr. Trump in recent weeks as dangerously unfit to be the commander in chief.

    But as the 9/11 war enters its 17th year, questions about the scope and limits of presidential war-making powers are taking on new urgency.

    Mr. Trump is giving the Pentagon and the C.I.A. broader latitude to pursue counterterrorism drone strikes and commando raids away from traditional battlefields. Two government officials said Mr. Trump had recently signed his new rules for such kill-or-capture counterterrorism operations, without major changes to an interagency agreement first described last month by The New York Times.

    Under the Obama-era rules, there was individualized high-level vetting of proposed strikes, and targets had to pose a specific threat, as individuals, to Americans. Under the new Trump rules, the administration will instead approve a "persistent campaign of direct action" for various countries where Islamist militants are operating, without higher-level review of particular strikes, and targets may include any suspected member of a group deemed covered by the 9/11 war authorization.

    And while the Trump administration decided to keep an Obama-era requirement of "near certainty" that no civilians would be killed, it reduced the required level of confidence that the intended target was present in a strike zone from "near certainty" to "reasonable certainty," one official said — further lowering constraints on attacks.

    Moreover, NBC News reported this past week that the Trump administration was exploring arming the surveillance drones that now fly over Niger and Mali in search of suspected Islamist militants. The new rules could also permit the Pentagon to carry out offensive ground combat operations in North and West Africa, escalating deployments that key lawmakers seem to have been only dimly aware of before the deaths of the four soldiers this month.

    "I didn't know there was a thousand troops in Niger," Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently told NBC's "Meet the Press." Mr. Graham opposes rewriting the 9/11 war authorization law but wanted more information about what the government is doing with it, saying: "This is an endless war without boundaries, no limitation on time and geography. You got to tell us more."

    The questions about Mr. Trump's interpretation of his war powers range beyond conventional counterterrorism operations.

    For example, Mr. Trump has suggested that he may abandon diplomatic efforts to curb North Korea's testing of nuclear bombs and longer-range missiles and order an attack. But he and his administration have said nothing suggesting that they would seek prior authorization from Congress and the United Nations Security Council.

    On April 6, Mr. Trump ordered airstrikes against Syrian government forces as punishment for using chemical weapons, without going to Congress or the United Nations for permission. His administration refused to answer questions about why it thought he had lawful authority to carry out such an act of war unilaterally, especially as a matter of international law, leaving it unclear whether it had first considered potential legal constraints.

    A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit recently revealed that Mr. Trump's legal team did draft and internally circulate a seven-page, unsigned memo analyzing a legal basis for potential military action against Syria. While the memo is undated, Justice Department lawyers said it was probably produced on April 6, the day of the strikes.

    But the administration is keeping the memo's contents secret, so it is not clear what, if anything, it says about international law. The United Nations Charter, a treaty ratified by the United States, forbids attacking another sovereign country without Security Council permission or a self-defense claim.

    It is also not clear whether the memo's analysis of domestic law claimed constitutional power for Mr. Trump to lawfully attack Syria merely because he decided that it would be in the national interest — as a set of leaked administration talking points maintained — or whether it invoked the 9/11 war authorization law as purported congressional sanction.

    But in June, after the United States military shot down a Syrian government fighter jet — prompting Russia to threaten to shoot down any American aircraft that flew west of the Euphrates River — the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., asserted that the executive branch's legal authority to attack the Syrian jet came from the 9/11 war authorization law.

    General Dunford's rationale was that the American presence in Syria stemmed from its fight against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State under that law, and that the jet had been menacing a rebel militia the United States was supporting. Several lawmakers and witnesses at Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in June on whether to replace the 9/11 war authorization law criticized his claim as stretching the 2001 law too far.

    The existence of the April 6 memo came to light via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Protect Democracy, a government watchdog group founded by former Obama administration lawyers. On Thursday, the group filed a new lawsuit for documents that could similarly reveal whether the Trump administration has developed any analysis about a legal basis for a potential pre-emptive attack on North Korea.

    Protect Democracy's executive director, Ian Bassin, said the Senate should ask the top Trump administration witnesses on Monday to explain their understanding of Mr. Trump's powers to unilaterally start or expand wars beyond those linked to the much-stretched 9/11 war authorization law.

    "Senator Corker may be worried about the lack of adult day care in the White House, but the framers actually assigned those duties to Congress," Mr. Bassin said, invoking the chairman's rejoinder to Mr. Trump's insults on Twitter earlier this month. "With a commander in chief unilaterally launching missiles at Syria and threatening nuclear war against North Korea, Corker needs to focus on more than an Islamic State A.U.M.F. He needs to put safety bumpers around the president."



    8)  Indictment Issued in Case of 18-Year-Old Who Said 2 Officers Raped Her

     OCT. 27, 2017




    A Brooklyn grand jury has handed up an indictment in the case of an 18-year-old woman who said she was raped by two New York City police officers after they took her into custody and searched her for drugs, a person familiar with the case said on Friday.

    At least one of the detectives has been charged by the grand jury, which has been hearing evidence since the alleged assault on Sept. 15, said the person familiar with the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the charges have not been formally announced.

    Both detectives, Edward Martins and Richard Hall, were suspended without pay on Friday, a sanction usually reserved for officers who have been charged with crimes, police officials said. They had been stripped of their guns and badges and placed on "modified duty" soon after the allegations emerged.

    But the specific charges are not expected to become public until at least early next week when the indictment is likely to be unsealed.

    A lawyer for the woman said she was handcuffed during the ordeal and went immediately to her mother after the officers released her without charging her with any crime, officials said. Her mother took her to Maimonides Medical Center in the Borough Park neighborhood, where she was treated. The incident spawned both the grand jury hearings and a police internal affairs investigation.

    The Brooklyn district attorney's office declined to comment on whether the detectives had been charged.

    Mark A. Bederow, the lawyer for Detective Martins, said, "We are going to vigorously contest these charges in a court of law, rather than the court of public opinion."

    Mr. Bederow declined further comment, including on when or whether his client might be asked to surrender to the police.

    John Arlia, a lawyer for Detective Hall, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The indictment was first reported by the New York Post on Friday.

    The detectives' supervisor, Sgt. John Espey, was placed on modified duty after the allegations came to light. He has not been accused of being present for any encounter between the detectives and the 18-year-old woman.

    Michael David, the young woman's lawyer, said that the on-duty detectives had kidnapped his client off the street and attacked her while she was handcuffed. "I don't think a gang rape has ever been reported in the history of the N.Y.P.D," Mr. David said.

    Mr. David said the young woman was weary from waiting weeks for some sort of action by prosecutors. "She was getting more frustrated by the day, this has been going on for six weeks already, and it just seemed she was crying for help," Mr. David said.

    "She's crying, she's depressed," Mr. David said, adding that this crime has put a strain on her relationship with her parents, who have been supportive. "She spends almost the whole day in her room."

    Detectives Hall and Martins were assigned to the Brooklyn South Narcotics unit, which, about a decade ago, came under scrutiny for corruption. Hundreds of criminal cases in Brooklyn were dismissed after prosecutors and internal police investigators uncovered a scandal in which members of the Brooklyn South Narcotics unit were seizing drugs to bribe alleged criminals.

    More recently, the department's efforts to sweep away the scourge of drugs have led instead to scores of low-level arrests, often of street addicts in need of treatment. Such enforcement is a friction against a countervailing priority for the police: to decriminalize addiction and offer treatment rather than arrest as a way to tackle an ongoing opioids crisis that has led to increasing numbers of fatal overdoses in New York.

    The details of the alleged rape case have emerged in fragments and the picture remains incomplete. Mr. David said the attack occurred around 8 p.m. on a muggy Friday night. He added that the detectives were in plainclothes, in an unmarked police van, when they stopped the woman and two male friends in a car in Calvert Vaux Park in the Coney Island area of Brooklyn.

    Mr. David said the detectives initially searched the occupants of the car for drugs and then demanded that the woman lift her shirt.

    "They said, `We want to make sure there is nothing under there, so show it,'" Mr. David said, recounting his client's account. "She was petrified, so she showed it. She said, `See, I'm not hiding anything.'"

    But the officers ordered the woman out of the car, handcuffed her and placed her into the back seat of their black Dodge van, Mr. Davis said. She was told she would be driven to the 60th Precinct station house, about a mile and a half from the park. Instead, the lawyer said, the detectives drove the woman to a parking lot of a nearby Chipotle restaurant, where they raped her.

    After 40 minutes, he said, the detectives took the handcuffs off the woman and released her from the van, not far from the precinct station house.



    9)  Insect Armageddon

     OCT. 29, 2017




    There is alarming new evidence that insect populations worldwide are in rapid decline. As Prof. Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex, a co-author of a new insect study, put it, we are "on course for ecological Armageddon" because "if we lose the insects, then everything is going to collapse."

    The study, which tracked flying insects collected in nature preserves across Germany, found that in just 25 years, the total biomass of these insects declined by an astonishing 76 percent. The reasons for the decline are not entirely clear — and only flying insects were collected, so the fate of crawling insects, for example, is not known — but the scientists suspect two main culprits: the use of pesticides and a lack of habitat in surrounding farmland.

    This isn't the first study to indicate that insects are in trouble. The Zoological Society of London warned five years ago that many insect populations worldwide were declining, and a 2014 study published in Science magazine documented a steep drop in insect and other invertebrate life worldwide, warning that such "declines will cascade onto ecosystem functioning and human well-being."

    The disappearance of creepy, crawly, buzzing insects doesn't elicit the kind of emotional response that, say, global warming's threat to polar bears does. Many may be quick to say, "Good riddance!" But we cannot survive in a world without insects, as they are critical for pollinating our food and are themselves a food source for many fish, birds and reptiles. Insects are also nature's scavengers and soil aerators.

    There are proven steps that could be taken now to help stem this decline. Buffer zones of wildflowers and native plants around single-crop fields can help, as can agricultural practices that respect biodiversity and reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides. Our planet's rapidly disappearing forests, wetlands and grasslands need to be preserved and restored wherever possible. More research is also needed to better understand why, where and what insects are disappearing and how they can be saved. But one thing is already clear: The fate of the world's insects is inseparable from our own.



    10) Puerto Rico Cancels Whitefish Energy Contract to Rebuild Power Lines

     OCT. 29, 2017



    Facing withering criticism from members of Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the governor of Puerto Rico moved on Sunday to cancel a $300 million contract awarded to a small Montana company to rebuild part of the island's battered power grid.

    While government officials in Washington and San Juan have argued over how a company from Whitefish, Mont., with connections to the secretary of the interior but only two full-time employees secured an emergency contract that requires the work of thousands of people, the majority of Puerto Rico is still without electricity, nearly six weeks after Hurricane Maria knocked down thousands of poles and lines.

    Some stores, medical centers, restaurants and a fortunate few private residences are running on generators, but most of the island's 3.4 million people are plunged into darkness after sunset.

    The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, known as Prepa, is generating just 30 percent of its normal output, the Puerto Rican government said. The power grid is in such bad shape that the power authority does not know exactly how many of its customers are without power. The authority has estimated that repairs will cost at least $1 billion.

    Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló announced on Sunday that he had asked the power authority's board — which he appoints — to cancel the contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings, two days after FEMA issued a strongly worded statement criticizing the deal. FEMA said it had "significant concerns" and warned that it might refuse to cover the costs of the contract if it was found to be improper.

    Mr. Rosselló said he had asked for a federal investigation of the contract award process, and for the power authority to appoint a trustee to review contract bidding. He stressed that no wrongdoing had been discovered, but he said that the contract had become a "distraction" and that attention had to be refocused on restoring service.

    "I am making this determination because it is in the best interest of the people of Puerto Rico," Mr. Rosselló said at a news conference.

    The contract had been attracting intense scrutiny in Washington. The House Committee on Natural Resources, which oversees Puerto Rican affairs, sent a letter on Thursday to the power authority demanding all records connected to the contract. That same day, the inspector general's office at the Department of Homeland Security said it was investigating. Mr. Rosselló also ordered an audit of the contract, and the board that Congress created to oversee Puerto Rico's financial affairs asked a federal court to appoint a new manager to supervise the utility.

    The chief executive of the power authority, Ricardo Ramos, defended the contract, which he awarded. But he said on Sunday that he understood the governor's decision to cancel it because negative publicity and politics on the mainland had made the situation untenable.

    Mr. Ramos said Whitefish had recently requested security protection because people had started throwing rocks and bottles at the company's crews on the island, in the belief that the contract had been awarded corruptly.

    "If you are in your house without power, and there's a sense that the energy authority gave away $300 million to a company that either had or did not have experience, the reaction is not positive, and we're seeing that," Mr. Ramos said.

    Democrats on the mainland and opposition politicians in Puerto Rico questioned the deal and were alarmed to see that the company's chief executive, Andy Techmanski, came from the same small town in Montana as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. In an interview shortly after securing the contract, Mr. Techmanski told a local news station that he had been in touch with Mr. Zinke for "more resources." Mr. Zinke's son worked for Whitefish last summer.

    Both the Department of the Interior and Mr. Techmanski denied any impropriety in connection with the contract.

    When the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, raised questions about the contract, the company fired back on Twitter, suggesting that it could withdraw its crews from her city. The company later apologized.

    In a statement on Friday, FEMA said it had not confirmed whether prices listed in the contract between Whitefish and the power authority were reasonable. Mr. Ramos said the prices were in line with what other companies had requested.

    In an interview on Thursday, Mr. Ramos said he had not heard of Whitefish before September. "We checked them out on the internet," he said. "There was a list of projects that they had done in the past, including with the Department of Energy. They showed a lot of experience in using helicopters to build transmission lines. On paper, they did have the experience necessary."

    Mr. Ramos had earlier said that Whitefish got the deal over competitors like PowerSecure because it did not ask for a large payment up front. Other companies, wary of Prepa's bankruptcy, had demanded hefty sums, he said.

    Mr. Ramos said on Sunday that the contract was being canceled because attention had shifted from managing a humanitarian crisis to "managing reputations." "That's risky," he said. "I want to clarify that the cancellation of this contract does not mean there was anything outside the law, or out of the ordinary."

    He said the power authority had already paid Whitefish or been billed about $20.8 million for work done so far, and would have to reimburse the company for the cost of returning helicopters, trucks and other equipment from Puerto Rico to the United States. He said that work that was already in progress would be completed by Whitefish.

    Mr. Ramos said he would send a letter to the electric company board asking for a resolution formally ending the contract, and that the board would meet Monday or Tuesday to address the matter. The cancellation would take effect 30 days after a resolution is adopted.

    Whitefish said in a statement on Sunday that it was "very disappointed" at the cancellation. "The decision will only delay what the people of Puerto Rico want and deserve — to have the power restored quickly in the same manner their fellow citizens on the mainland experience after a natural disaster," the statement said. "We will certainly finish any work that Prepa wants us to complete, and stand by our commitments, knowing that we made an important contribution to the restoration of the power grid since our arrival on the island on Oct. 2."

    The company said it had already finished work on two major transmission lines, significantly speeding up the restoration of power to the city of Manatí and to parts of San Juan.

    In interviews this month, Mr. Techmanski said he had flown to Puerto Rico before the contract was signed with Prepa on a "leap of faith," and that his company's ability to mobilize quickly was vital to winning the contract.

    Asked this month how such a small company could manage such a big job, Mr. Ramos of Prepa said, "Every company is small at some point in time."

    Criticism was also targeted at the Army Corps of Engineers, which was given responsibility by the Trump administration for restoring power in Puerto Rico and had no involvement in the Whitefish deal. Governor Rosselló said he was led to believe that the Corps would restore power throughout the island within 40 days, but that it has just seven engineering crews on the island.

    "Everyone has their role here, and the Corps of Engineers, honestly, has not played its role," Mr. Rosselló said. "The Corps contracted two companies, and those companies are in the process of subcontracting. This does not have the sense of urgency that it should have."

    Mr. Rosselló said the governors of New York and Florida had now agreed to send utility crews to Puerto Rico. Such mutual aid arrangements are common after emergencies, and are usually invoked immediately. But the power authority has said it did not seek that kind of aid after the hurricane because having the Army Corps of Engineers do the restoration work would have spared it from paying anything.

    José E. Sánchez, the head of the Corps's energy restoration task force, defended its work in a statement. "We understand the frustration by the governor of Puerto Rico, and realize the importance of restoring power as quickly as possible," Mr. Sánchez said. "We continue to expedite the delivery of crews, material and equipment to the island in support of this urgent effort. We will not be satisfied until the people of Puerto Rico have safe and reliable power."



    11) Nearly one third of Glenn Dyer prisoners wrap up hunger strike

    Advocates and supporters plan to bring the issues raised by the hunger strike to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors' Public Protection meeting on November 9.

    By Lucas Guilkey  October 27, 2017

    Last week, 125 prisoners at the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in downtown Oakland—over 30 percent of the prisoners housed there—participated in a five-day hunger strike to protest what they say are abusive conditions of isolation and poor healthcare in Alameda County jails.

    "I am on hunger strike, as well as many many others here at Glenn Dyer Detention Facility," reads a letter sent from the jail dated October 17, the third day of the hunger strike, and signed "Prisoners United," a group formed for purposes of the hunger strike.

    "We are locked in our cells all day," the letter states, saying that "out of cell time" is insufficient and "boils down to [the assigned housing deputies'] decision, which are mostly arbitrary and capricious." The letter also outlines grievances alleging inadequate access to courts and attorneys, telephone calls, a variety of healthy food and recreation time, which are all required under California's minimum standards codes for local detention centers.

    The same day, over 30 supporters rallied outside of the Alameda County administrative building, where the county supervisors' offices are located, to draw attention to the striking prisoners. "They are mothers and fathers in there, our parents, our siblings, our children," said Yolanda Triana, who used to work as a reserve deputy at Santa Rita Jail in the 1970s before quitting and becoming an advocate for reform. "They are human. Give them basic dignity."

    "We're out here, to make sure [the sheriff and county supervisors] know that we're paying attention and we're listening," said Marlene Sanchez, associate director of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), an Oakland organization that that works with young people affected by the criminal justice system.

    Speakers drew attention to both detention facilities run by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department—Glenn Dyer and Santa Rita Jail, in Dublin. They stressed the five allegations that are being made by prisoners, who are calling for an end to the use of indefinite solitary confinement, subjective practices for addressing grievances, and overuse of lockdown, which is when prisoners are confined to their cell when there is a disturbance in the facility. The prisoners also say that they are being provided with insufficient food and unsanitary clothing.

    "I [know] a young man in Santa Rita who has been there for five years, and has been in isolation for four, and that is unacceptable," said Sheri Costa, the director of AL Costa Community Development Center, an East Bay organization dedicated to helping families with detained and incarcerated loved ones.  She has been doing this work for 18 years.  "We have people that are only getting out of cell twice a month," she said.

    After rallying, advocates marched two blocks down the street to the sheriff's offices, where they delivered a letter listing the five demands to Internal Affairs Captain Emmanuel Christy.

    Twenty percent of prisoners in Glenn Dyer—or 83 people—are held in "administrative segregation," in which prisoners are held alone, in cells separate from general population, for a minimum of 23 hours per day, according to the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.  That number is 243 at Santa Rita, or 12 percent of the prisoners currently held there.

    Last week's strike comes four years after 30,000 California prisoners participated in a massive statewide hunger strikeprotesting indefinite solitary confinement.  At that time, California prisons held over 3,000 prisoners indefinitely—sometimes for decades—in concrete cells called the Security Housing Unit (SHU), where prisoners were confined for a minimum of 22.5 hours per day.

    That strike turned into a class action lawsuit, Ashker v Brown, after the Center for Constitutional Rights took over the case in 2012 from Todd Ashker, a long-term California SHU prisoner who had initially filed the suit against the state in 2009. The 2015 settlement ended the use of indefinite SHU terms in California state prisons and limited SHU confinement to a maximum of ten years. Throughout the lawsuit, California Department of Corrections officials maintained that the SHU was not solitary confinement because prisoners had access to a larger cell with a partial opening to the sky for 90 minutes per day.

    While there is no strict definition of solitary confinement in California law, Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture from 2010 to 2016,has defined solitary confinement as "any regime where an inmate is held in isolation from others, except guards, for at least 22 hours a day."  More than 15 days of solitary confinement, he believes, is prolonged isolation and should be banned by governments.

    Alameda County Sheriff's department officials say that the county doesn't practice solitary confinement in its jails. This is because prisoners are able to have verbal communication with nearby prisoners, and because they have access to a telephone, shower, laundry, television, and exercise when they are out of their cell for one hour per day, said Public Information Officer Sergeant Ray Kelly.

    Kelly said that administrative segregation is used for prisoners who are high-profile, have mental health issues, are highly assaultive, or are at risk in when in spaces with other prisoners.  A system of checks and balances is employed when deciding to keep someone in administrative segregation, he said, but there are no maximum time limits on how long someone can be kept there.

    Responding to the prisoners' other complaints, Kelly said that the jails' food is "not a home cooked good meal" but that "it will sustain you and keep you healthy." Referring to both the food and clothing offered, Kelly said, "We go above state and federal law." He states that inmates are able to submit grievances to officers in the Grievance Unit and that the jails are accredited by the American Correctional Association and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement.

    "We're kind of surprised," Kelly said of the hunger strike, speaking last week as it began its third day. "We obviously have to monitor [the hunger strike] and respect their right to protest," he added.

    The advocates supporting the striking prisoners disagree with Kelly's assertions that solitary confinement doesn't exist in Alameda County jails. Based on her communications with prisoners and their families, Costa said she believes the conditions Kelly described are not being practiced on at least one floor of Glenn Dyer.  Sanchez said she believes that "they are using solitary confinement for everything," including to try to break up the hunger strike organizing.

    In addition to 23 hours-per-day isolation, the advocates also allege that prisoners are not getting sufficient healthcare. Costa's nephew, Mario Martinez, died in Santa Rita in July, 2015. His family is currently suing Corizon, the healthcare provider in the jails at the time, and Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern for wrongful death.  The suit alleges medical negligence regarding untreated nasal growths that, combined with Martinez's asthma, made it very hard for him to breathe.

    Sanchez, who has been in touch with prisoners and their family members, has been filing grievances and incident reports on behalf of those incarcerated at Glenn Dyer. She recently filed an incident report with the sheriff's office alleging that a prisoner in Glenn Dyer had been denied access to water for three days. "To deny a human being water is inhumane treatment," she wrote. He was allegedly denied medical care, she added, after being bitten by a spider, and it "wasn't until he could not walk and was about to undergo cardiac arrest" that he was "rushed to the hospital," she wrote.

    Kelly declined to comment on these allegations.

    Currently, the sheriff, along with Corizon and the county, is facing litigation in two other suits alleging wrongful deaths at Santa Rita: those on behalf of Bryan Steicher, who died in June, 2014, and Gary Oldham, who died in March 3rd,2015, according to lawsuits. Steicher's suit is brought by his mother and daughter, who allege that he died after multiple requests for his sleep apnea machine were denied.  Oldham's suit is brought by his mother, who alleges that he was found hanging from a bedsheet after his jailers failed to follow proper protocols for monitoring a mentally disabled prisoner who was potentially suicidal.

    In all three suits, the sheriff denies the allegations, according to legal documents.

    In a legal filing for the case of Mario Martinez, the defendants' lawyers, Nancy E. Hudgins and Matthew M. Grigg, "admit that the decedent was a Santa Rita inmate, and that the jail is in Alameda County and is operated via the County's sheriff's office," but refute all allegations that Martinez was untreated or treated negligently.

    In a legal filing for the case of Bryan Steicher, the defendants' lawyers, Hudgins and Grigg, deny that Steicher made repeated requests for his sleep apnea machine and all other allegations.

    In a legal filing for the case of Gary Oldham, the defendants' lawyer, Timothy Murphy, writes that his client will  "admit that [deputy sheriffs] discovered decedent hanging in his cell by a sheet" but denied that defendants "failed to engage in adequate welfare checks or supervision."

    Kelly did not comment on the suits, referring questions to Alameda County Counsel Donna Ziegler. Ziegler said she was familiar with the case of Mario Martinez but not the other two, and could not offer comment at this time.

    Monthly reports—which were obtained by Costa through a public records request as part of the family's research into Martinez's death—written by Calvin Benton, a doctor and medical consultant to Alameda County jails, show that at least 24 people died in Alameda County jails between the beginning of 2013 and the end of 2015.  The causes of death are not stated in these reports, which are monthly medical "quality assurance reports" Benton delivers to the Alameda County Sheriff's office.

    Last week's Glenn Dyer hunger strike was followed this week by a similar one in Santa Clara County jails, which themselves were a continuation of strikes from 2016.

    Advocates and supporters plan to bring the issues raised by the hunger strike to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors' Public Protection meeting on November 9.





















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