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!




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: 






Prison Radio UPDATE:

Please sign this petition:

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


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

Phone: 215-686-8000

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

Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

OPEN the files. Justice Now!



Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?

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

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

A Book Review by Robert Fantina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Journal of Books, July 2017











Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










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





Please forward and distribute widely

The Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

A Fight Against Racist U.S. Capitalism

Having finally been properly treated for Hepatitis-C, Mumia is now trying to show that his case was compromised by former Philadelphia District Attorney Ronald Castille, who was a judge of the PA Supreme Court during Mumia's appeals.

Throughout Mumia's appeals, Judge Castille refused to step down or recuse himself from Mumia's appeals, despite his role in prosecuting Mumia. Mumia has won "discovery" of documents that should demonstrate Judge Castille's role in framing him. 

If proven, this could overturn Mumia's negative appeals rulings, and open the case to new examination. But will the court allow this evidence to be brought forth? This is now in question!

This needs to be a mass struggle. Please join us for this effort...

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Invites you to attend:

Public Forums

Rachel Wolkenstein

Lawyer for Mumia from the beginning of his case. 

ALSO: Other speakers, and a special segment: solidarity with anti-fascist fighters.

San Francisco: 6:30 PM, 27th October 2017

Hastings Law School, 198 McAllister St, Room A

Co-sponsors for the SF forum: San Francisco Law  School Chapter,

and UC Hastings Chapter, National Lawyers Guild

Oakland:  7 PM, 28th October 2017

Niebyl Proctor Marxist Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave.


Workers World Party, Justice for Palestinians, Leonard Peltier Support Group, Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, Alameda County Peace and Freedom Party, Taking Aim, Socialist Viewpoint, Bay Area National Lawyers Guild, Mobilization To Free Mumia, Kiilu Nyasha





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!

21st Arab Film Festival Starts Today!

San Francisco Bay Area - October 13-22

Los Angeles - October 27-29

Info, Schedule, Programs, Tickets and More!



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 





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.





Support the Resistance
Donate to Courage to Resist 

oct 2017 pdf newsletter

Thank you again for contributing to Chelsea Manning's freedom, and supporting war resisters like Ryan and Jenna Johnson. Now let's get some justice for Reality Winner!

Support the resistance. Donate to Courage to Resist today.

One year ago, I was asking folks such as yourself to donate, likely for a second or third

time, to Chelsea Manning's defense efforts. At the time, Chelsea continued to languish in the Fort Leavenworth military prison, facing down the remaining 27 years on her sentence for exposing war crimes and the reality of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After seven years of building support for Chelsea, and funding her legal teams, I wouldn't have blamed you for being skeptical that one more donation could lead to her release any time soon.

Yet, following former President Obama's last-minute commutation of Chelsea's sentence, she's again in the headlines. Not as a prisoner, but as a young woman travelling the country advocating for social justice—including being invited and disinvited to teach at Harvard just last week. Wow. Just wow.

Chelsea's trial attorney David Coombsrecently shared with us his insight on what happened:

"Because of our trial strategy, and more importantly because of the efforts outside of the courtroom in positively portraying Manning, the message was that [Chelsea] was not the type of person who deserves 35 years. Ultimately, even though a judge was not convinced of that, a President of the United States was. If not for the efforts of… the Manning Support Network and Courage to Resist, there's no way that a president would spend the political capital to grant a commutation."

In short, Chelsea Manning is free because people like yourself signed petitions, called the White House switchboard, marched in the streets, and gave money to her defense. Thank you!

Today, Courage to Resist is at it again. Again, we need your help.

We've taken up the fight to support whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner. A young woman facing the wrath of Trump's Justice Department for sharing a classified NSA report with the media that allegedly detailed how foreign agents were attempting to undermine the integrity of the 2016 US presidential election. Just out of the Air Force, she's being held without bail and faces 10 years in prison for attempting to alert US citizens to weaknesses in our election systems—and to hold President Trump accountable for addressing them.

This case may become the most substantial First Amendment challenge to the antiquated 100-year-old Espionage Act yet. With the Justice Department now regularly using the Espionage Act against whistleblowers—and not spies as was originally intended—US v. Winner can be expected to set significant legal precedents.

Reality and her team of attorneys are hopeful that they will be able to win her release on bail prior to her March 2018 scheduled trial in Augusta, Georgia.

Not all of our work makes national headlines. One example, that we're just now able to share, is the case of Iraq War resister Ryan Johnson. Ryan had been AWOL from the Army for over 11 years, after resisting deployment to Iraq. He spent much of that time living in Canada and organizing fellow war objectors. For personal reasons, Ryan returned to the United States, and to the US Army to resove his legal situation.

During Ryan's court martial, we agreed with Ryan's decision to downplay his history of activism, in the hopes of getting a shorter prison sentence. In this context, we were not able to raise significant funds for him by way of direct appeals. Regardless, we helped support his wife Jenna while Ryan was jailed at the Miramar Naval Brig near San Diego for much of last year. Recently, upon Ryan's release, we helped the two of them resettle in the Denver area, providing them with over $10,000 beyond what donors contributed directly to their earmarked support fund.

Support the resistance. Donate to Courage to Resist today.

Jeff Paterson

p.s. For up-to-date information about Reality Winner, and to donate to her defense online, visit standwithreality.org. To donate by check to Reality Winner's defense fund, send to Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610, and note "Reality Winner" on the memo line.


484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



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)  U.S. Stood by as Indonesia Killed a Half-Million People, Papers Show

    "In 2015, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico reintroduced a resolution in the Senate calling for Indonesia to face up to its traumatic history. He also held the United States to account for its "military and financial support" there, which included providing lists of possible leftist sympathizers to the Indonesian government and, as one cable released Tuesday showed, pushing to bury foreign news coverage of the killings."

     OCT. 18, 2017




    BANGKOK — It was an anti-Communist blood bath of at least half a million Indonesians. And American officials watched it happen without raising any public objections, at times even applauding the forces behind the killing, according to newly declassified State Department files that show diplomats meticulously documenting the purge in 1965-66.

    In one of the documentsreleased on Tuesday, an American political affairs counselor describes how Indonesian officials dealt with prisons overflowing with suspected members of the Indonesian Communist Party, known by the acronym P.K.I.

    "Many provinces appear to be successfully meeting this problem by executing their P.K.I. prisoners, or by killing them before they are captured," said the cable sent in 1965 from the American Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, to the State Department.

    Another cable describes how clerics from an influential Muslim organization in Indonesia advised their flocks that atheist "P.K.I. members are classified as lowest order of infidel, the shedding of whose blood is comparable to killing a chicken."

    The level of detail in the cables helps fill out a picture, outlined by previous declassifications of documents, relating to how an anti-American leader in Indonesia was deposed by the military amid mass extrajudicial executions.

    "We knew about these things more generally, but it's great to have this information in black and white so it's not just based on oral interviews with victims," said John Roosa, an associate professor of history at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and author of a book on the events of 1965. "The U.S. was following what was happening very closely, and if it weren't for its support, you could argue that the army would never have felt the confidence to take power."

    The Indonesian slaughter took place at a time when Southeast Asia, still emerging from colonialism, was energized by socialist ideology.

    The United States already had boots on the ground in Vietnam. Indonesia, then led by President Sukarno and home to one of the world's largest Communist parties, was seen by Washington as the next domino that could fall.

    When a group of hard-line generals blamed Communist Party operatives for a failed coup attempt in 1965, with China accused as a mastermind, Washington did little to challenge that narrative.

    The United States government largely stayed silent as the death toll mounted at the hands of the Indonesian Army, paramilitaries and religious mobs. The extrajudicial killings spread beyond suspected Communists to target ethnic Chinese, students, union members and anyone who might have personal feuds with the hit men. Tens of thousands of others were thrown into tropical gulags.

    Eventually, President Sukarno, with his anti-American talk and socialist sympathies, was replaced by Suharto, a general who held power for 32 years, instituting a policy he called the New Order to reinvigorate the economy through foreign aid and investment.

    Another of the newly released cables shows how the American Embassy in Jakarta made clear that any aid from the United States was contingent on Sukarno's being removed from power. Upon Suharto's ascension in March 1966, that American aid began to flow.

    In some of the cables, American diplomats exulted in the abrupt political transition, even as they noted the rising body count. One file refers to the political changes as a "fantastic switch."

    The Indonesian military, which still wields considerable power today, has tried to blame the orgy of violence on a public furious with the excesses of the Communist Party, absolving itself of direct culpability.

    But the cables indicate how members of the American foreign service, at least, held the military directly responsible for some of the deaths. One cable alleges that Suharto gave the orders for certain mass executions.

    In 2015, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico reintroduced a resolution in the Senate calling for Indonesia to face up to its traumatic history. He also held the United States to account for its "military and financial support" there, which included providing lists of possible leftist sympathizers to the Indonesian government and, as one cable released Tuesday showed, pushing to bury foreign news coverage of the killings.

    The legacy of the massacre continues to divide Indonesia. For decades, under Suharto's rule, Indonesians dared not call for justice. Even after he was deposed in 1998, there was little effort to set up an Indonesian form of a truth and reconciliation commission.

    But in part after the filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer released a documentary in 2012 called "The Act of Killing," chronicling the life of an unrepentant hit man in the purge, members of Indonesian society began to delve into its history.

    Joko Widodo, the Indonesian president, has talked about the need to address past human rights violations.

    Still, there are limits to how far Indonesia is willing to go. Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, a human rights lawyer, helped convene an international people's tribunal on the killings at The Hague in 2015. (The court had no real authority beyond an airing of testimony, but it held the Indonesian government responsible for crimes against humanity and accused the United States, Britain and Australia of complicity.)

    But in recent months, conservative groups have rekindled anti-Communist sensibilities in Indonesia. Efforts last month to organize screenings of Mr. Oppenheimer's second documentary, "The Look of Silence," were restricted by a military directive. A mob gathered around a building where Ms. Katjasungkana and others were believed to be gathering to talk about the violence.

    "I just hope these new documents will encourage the Indonesian government to be more open and stop the state denial that the military was involved in these atrocities," she said. "Hopefully, America will also admit its involvement."

    Jusuf Wanandi is a Chinese-Indonesian who supported Suharto for decades, even if he grew disillusioned with his strongman-like leadership. Unlike many of Suharto's former acolytes, Mr. Wanandi admits that the events of 1965-66 spiraled out of control.

    Yet even he advised patience.

    "It is impossible to move forward because emotions are still raw," Mr. Wanandi said. "We need some more time."



    2)  Rohingya Refugees Fleeing Myanmar Await Entrance to Squalid Camps

     OCT. 18, 2017




    Nearly two months after Muslim Rohingya began fleeing a military-led campaign of violence in western Myanmar, thousands of refugees continue to mass on the Bangladesh border, seeking the relative safety of squalid, muddy camps.

    An estimated 582,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when the military began a wave of rape, killing and village burning following attacks on security posts by a Rohingya militant group. The United Nations high commissioner for human rights has called the campaign a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

    Drone footage released by the United Nations refugee agency Tuesday shows thousands of Rohingya crowded on embankments just inside Bangladesh, where they gathered while waiting to move to camps that have swollen with refugees in recent weeks.

    Since Sunday, 10,000 to 15,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh at Anjuman Para, Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, said Tuesday. As they waited to enter camps in Bangladesh, gunfire could still be heard from the Myanmar side of the border, he said.

    Myanmar's government has said Rohingya have burned their own villages. But human rights groups say that explanation defies logic.

    An Amnesty International report issued Wednesday said the pattern of burning "is deliberate, organized, widespread, consistent over time and across northern Rakhine State, and targeted at Rohingya homes and other structures."

    The report, which is based on interviews with 120 refugees, said witnesses "indicate that in some instances burnings were clearly orchestrated and planned in advance by the military and local government authorities."

    Refugees continue to surge into Bangladesh one month after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, said the government was prepared to welcome back those who had fled.

    But refugee accounts and surveys of village destruction indicate the military and aligned vigilante groups are still trying to force the Rohingya from the country.

    Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that analysis of satellite photos of 288 burned villages shows that at least 66 and possibly as many as 100 were attacked after Sept. 5, which Aung San Suu Kyi said was the end of the security clearance campaign in Rakhine state.

    "We don't believe those operations did stop," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch. "The narrative pushed by the military and Aung San Suu Kyi on the clearance operations is patently false."

    Refugees told U.N. refugee agency workers at the border this week that they had initially tried to stay, but fled after their villages were burned. They walked for about a week to reach the border.

    About 1 million Rohingya lived in Rakhine State in western Myanmar before the latest exodus. The latest estimates of arrivals to Bangladesh means more than half have fled their homes. Among those who remain in northern Rakhine are Rohingya who are trapped in isolated villages and cannot escape without passing by hostile communities of ethnic Rakhine.

    The Rohingya are members of a predominantly Muslim ethnic group that have long faced discrimination and loss of basic rights in Myanmar, a majority Buddhist nation.

    Rohingya who live near Sittwe, the provincial capital in central Rakhine, are largely interned in camps, with far less ability to flee. Ethnic Rakhine groups have blocked the shipment of aid to the internment camps in central Rakhine, adding to the misery there.

    While those who have made it to Bangladesh are able to escape the violence of Rakhine, they face other dangers. Refugees are crowded into muddy camps where they face a risk of disease in the unsanitary conditions. The World Health Organization said on Oct. 10 that more than 10,000 cases of diarrhea had been reported among refugees in Bangladesh over the previous week, raising concerns about the threat of a deadly cholera outbreak.

    Bangladesh's Ministry of Health has begun a campaign to deliver 900,000 doses of cholera vaccine in the camps, one of the largest ever such efforts.



    3)  Women Denounce Harassment in California's Capital

     OCT. 17, 2017




    LOS ANGELES — The groundswell over sexual harassment that has rocked Hollywood moved into California's capital on Tuesday as more than 140 women — including legislators, senior legislative aides and lobbyists — came forward to denounce what they describe as pervasive sexual misconduct by powerful men in the nation's most influential legislature.

    Women complained of groping, lewd comments and suggestions of trading sexual favors for legislation while doing business in Sacramento. Their grievances, contained in a public letter and detailed in a series of interviews, mark the latest fallout from the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal.

    The women who drafted the letter say they were flooded with anguished responses from women who reported enduring, or witnessing, sexual harassment from male legislators, aides and lobbyists, after they began circulating their statement in recent days.

    The letter comes as the scandal involving Mr. Weinstein had set off a wave of investigations, recriminations and accusations across the nation, including in state capitals in Rhode Island and South Dakota. Women from all walks of life — from actresses to corporate leaders — have used social media to report instances of abuse, often marked #metoo.

    "As women leaders in politics, in a state that postures itself as a leader in justice and equality, you might assume our experience has been different," the letter said. "It has not. Each of us has endured, or witnessed or worked with women who have experienced some form of dehumanizing behavior by men in power in our workplaces."

    "Men have groped and touched us without our consent, made inappropriate comments about our bodies and our abilities," the letter said, adding: "Why didn't we speak out? Sometimes out of fear. Sometimes out of shame. Often these men hold our professional fates in their hands."

    The California legislature has set the national agenda on a variety of issues, including the environment, immigration and taxes. Although the state has produced a number of powerful female politicians, about 80 percent of the legislature is male.

    Cristina Garcia, a Democratic member of the state Assembly who signed the letter, said Tuesday she has been routinely accosted by men who harassed her and made comments about her appearance while she was trying to discuss legislation

    "Multiple people have grabbed my butt and grabbed my breasts," she said. "We're talking about senior lobbyists and lawmakers."

    Ms. Garcia, and the other women who came forward, did not name the lobbyists or lawmakers involved in the encounters. The letter was first published in The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday morning.

    Pamela Lopez, a partner at a Sacramento lobbying firm, said that for years she has dealt with inappropriate suggestions from male officials, but the most disturbing episode came early last year, at a social gathering of lawmakers and lobbyists in a Sacramento bar.

    As Ms. Lopez walked into the restroom, she said, she felt a large body pressing behind her. When she turned around, she saw that a lawmaker had locked the door behind him, had undone his pants and asked her to touch his genitals.

    "He had exposed himself and begun masturbating," she said. "All I was thinking was what do I do, what do I do. And of course, I didn't want to cause a scene."

    "I said, 'No, I am not going to touch you,' " she said. "I was firm and clear but I did not want to make a scene and he continued to masturbate and he kind of moved toward me and said, 'Just put your hand on me.' I said no."

    Karen Skelton, a political strategist and lawyer in Sacramento who signed the letter, said she experienced harassment firsthand when she was hired by a Fortune 500 company six years ago to run a campaign on behalf of a major legislative initiative. Her job included dealing with an elected California official involved with the issue.

    "This guy did things to me like touch my leg under the table at lunch and brush back my hair over my shoulder and sending me texts at 1 in the morning asking where I was," she said, declining to name him. "I felt creeped out. I'm a big girl. I can deal with it. What if I had been 22, someone new to this, who needed to support their family?"

    There has been a long and notorious history of sexual misconduct in state houses and Congress going back over at least the past 50 years. Many state Capitols are famous for being old boys' clubs. Many, including the one in Sacramento, are in relatively isolated parts of the state, away from family, friends and onlookers, in a culture marked by late-night dinners and drinking.

    Albany, the New York capital, has had an outsize reputation for sexual misbehavior, exemplified by an episode in 2012 in which Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, a powerful Brooklyn Democrat, was found to have sexually harassed female staff members. The leader of the State Assembly at the time, Sheldon Silver, was harshly criticized for keeping Mr. Lopez's behavior, and financial settlements to victims, secret, perhaps allowing additional women to be abused. Mr. Lopez resigned in 2013, and the Assembly enacted a series of reforms, including mandatory reporting of any complaint of sexual harassment, an independent investigator and a ban on confidential settlements.

    Christine Pelosi, a signer of the letter who is the leader of the California Democratic Women's Caucus, said that legislators "act differently in Sacramento — which is almost fantasy camp — as opposed to how they act as home.".

    Anthony Rendon, the speaker of the California State Assembly, said he did not think the Assembly ethics committee, which handles charges of sexual misconduct, could launch an investigation based on the letter, because it did not mention any names of offenders. He said the Assembly had created a committee in August to establish new rules aimed at cracking down on sexual harassment or intimidation.

    "The letter shows that sexual harassment is as prevalent in the Capitol as it is anywhere else in society," Mr. Rendon said.

    Samantha Corbin, a lobbyist and former legislative aide who helped organize the drive, said many of the California women who signed the letter had overcome fears of retaliation, emboldened by the women who related their stories about Mr. Weinstein in stories published by The New York Times and The New Yorker.

    She said until now women had routinely engaged on quiet rescue missions to help women caught what she described as predatory situations while working in lawmakers' offices.

    "We give each other tips on how to avoid certain situation – who might exercise predatory behavior," she said.

    "You are talking about power brokers in the largest state in the country," she said.

    Ms. Pelosi, who is the daughter of Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, said it was difficult for many of the women to sign the letter. "I understand the courage of these women – Republicans and Democrats – coming forward. It is very, very, very hard."

    Kevin de Leon, the president of the state Senate, issued a statement saying he applauded "the courage of women working in and around the Capitol who are coming forward and making their voices known."

    Mr. de Leon, who announced this week he was running for the Senate, did not say whether he was aware of these kinds of episodes and did not return a request for comment.

    Scott Wiener, a newly elected member of the state Senate, said he had been struck by the culture he had found since coming to Sacramento. "The kind of sexism and misogynism that is pervasive in our culture is definitely prevalent in Sacramento," Mr. Wiener said.

    New allegations of harassment have emerged in other states in recent days, too. Teresa Tanzi, a Democratic state representative in Rhode Island, said on Tuesday that a male lawmaker who outranked her once told her "that if I want to see my bills advance, there was one thing I could do to make that happen."

    "It was stated very matter of factly that if I would have sex with this person, it would increase the likelihood of my bills passing," Ms. Tanzi said in an interview, although she declined to name the lawmaker or specify when the comment was made.

    And in South Dakota, Angie Buhl O'Donnell, a former state senator, published a Facebook post last week accusing a legislative colleague of sexually harassing her after a 2016 charity dodgeball game in Pierre, the state capital.



    4)  Brooklyn Judge Seeks to Examine Prevalence of Police Lying

     OCT. 17, 2017




    A federal judge in Brooklyn has told the city to prepare for a court hearing regarding the prevalence of lying by New York City police officers and whether the New York Police Department has done too little to discipline officers who testify falsely.

    For years, federal judges in New York City have been issuing rulings in individual criminal cases casting doubt on the credibility of some police testimony. But the opinion issued on Tuesday by Judge Jack B. Weinstein of Federal District Court in Brooklyn may signal a broader judicial inquiry into police perjury.

    In interviews, lawyers and experts on policing in New York were unaware of any recent decisions like Judge Weinstein's.

    In his decision on Tuesday, Judge Weinstein did not make any determination himself about the extent of police lying. But he cited a number of newspaper articles in recent years about accusations of false statements and perjury by the police.

    Moreover, Judge Weinstein suggested that giving a jury the question of whether the department has permitted widespread police perjury could prompt important reforms. "It may indicate the need for more careful tracking of individual police officer's litigation history and a more effective discipline policy to avoid repeated lying by a number of officers," his ruling stated.

    Judge Weinstein's decision came in a routine case, involving a lawsuit brought by a 59-year-old bodega cashier, Hector Cordero, who was arrested on Oct. 24, 2014, and charged with drug dealing on slight evidence. Plainclothes officers from the 83rd Precinct in Bushwick, Brooklyn, claimed to have seen a man walk out of the bodega where Mr. Cordero worked and sell two bags of drugs to a man waiting outside. The dealer then re-entered the bodega, according to the police account. The officers arrested the man they described as the purchaser, but there was some initial difficulty finding the dealer, according to the officers' accounts, which were summarized in the decision.

    Officers who initially went inside the bodega left after being unable to identify the suspect, according to the court decision handed down Tuesday. A little later, however, officers arrest Mr. Cordero, the cashier, and accused him of being the dealer.

    Mr. Cordero, who was a police officer in the Dominican Republic before immigrating to the United States, had no criminal record. A co-worker testified that he could not have been the drug dealer, as he was in the store during the period in question. No drugs were found on him during a strip search that Mr. Cordero said involved him taking off his underwear. Eventually the charges against him were dropped.

    In his lawsuit against the police, Mr. Cordero accused the officers of arresting him because they wanted to make the overtime pay that ensued from an arrest near the end of their shift. In his decision, Judge Weinstein noted that one of the officers involved in arresting Mr. Cordero, Hugo Hugasian, had previously been suspended from the force for 60 days and required to pay $1,203.74 in restitution for claiming overtime pay for hours he did not work. And Judge Weinstein noted that officers were paid at least 22 hours of overtime for the arrests of Mr. Cordero and the other man outside the bodega.

    In the ruling, Judge Weinstein said that after holding a trial on Mr. Cordero's case early next year, he would, if Mr. Cordero proved his case, hold a second proceeding — to examine the prevalence of police lying and whether false arrests were being carried out to generate overtime. That second hearing, Judge Weinstein said, would focus on whether the Police Department has a policy of not taking "reasonable steps to control lying by police officers."

    In a statement, Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesman for the city's Law Department, downplayed the significance of Judge Weinstein's decision. Mr. Paolucci also said that the arrest of Mr. Cordero was "supported by probable cause and that there is no evidence to support any legal claim against the City of New York."

    Gabriel Harvis, a lawyer for Mr. Cordero, said that Judge Weinstein's ruling set the stage for the biggest challenge to unconstitutional policing practices in New York City since a trial in 2013 over the department's overreliance on stop-and-frisk tactics.

    Mr. Harvis said that he intended to call as witnesses high-ranking police officials, though he noted that he also remained open to settlement offers from the city before trial.



    5) Blood and Beauty on a Texas Exotic-Game Ranch

     OCT. 19, 2017




    A giraffe named Buttercup moved closer to Buck Watson, a hunting guide, as he looks on from a vehicle at the Ox Ranch in Uvalde, Tex.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times 'We humans are at a turning point. There is no doubt that we have survived as a species by consuming other living beings. But to hunt animals for fun and profit, that's an entirely different story. We no longer have to hunt to eat. And, we have already begun to grow real meat in a laboratory. It's not impossible to envision a time when eating real animals is no longer necessary. It's a choice that we, as a communal society, could make in an economic system NOT driven by the profit motive—where the well being of each is dependent on the well being of all. Can you/we imagine?' —Bonnie Weinstein, my comment to the New York Times.

    UVALDE, Tex. — On a ranch at the southwestern edge of the Texas Hill Country, a hunting guide spotted her cooling off in the shade: an African reticulated giraffe. Such is the curious state of modern Texas ranching, that a giraffe among the oak and the mesquite is an everyday sort of thing.

    "That's Buttercup," said the guide, Buck Watson, 54.

    In a place of rare creatures, Buttercup is among the rarest; she is off limits to hunters at the Ox Ranch. Not so the African bongo antelope, one of the world's heaviest and most striking spiral-horned antelopes, which roams the same countryside as Buttercup. The price to kill a bongo at the Ox Ranch is $35,000.

    Himalayan tahrs, wild goats with a bushy lion-style mane, are far cheaper. The trophy fee, or kill fee, to shoot one is $7,500. An Arabian oryx is $9,500; a sitatunga antelope, $12,000; and a black wildebeest, $15,000.

    "We don't hunt giraffes," Mr. Watson said. "Buttercup will live out her days here, letting people take pictures of her. She can walk around and graze off the trees as if she was in Africa."

    The Ox Ranch near Uvalde, Tex., is not quite a zoo, and not quite an animal shooting range, but something in between.

    The ranch's hunting guides and managers walk a thin, controversial line between caring for thousands of rare, threatened and endangered animals and helping to execute them. Some see the ranch as a place for sport and conservation. Some see it as a place for slaughter and hypocrisy.

    The Ox Ranch provides a glimpse into the future of the mythic Texas range — equal parts exotic game-hunting retreat, upscale outdoor adventure, and breeding and killing ground for exotic species.

    Ranchers in the nation's top cattle-raising state have been transforming pasture land into something out of an African safari, largely to lure trophy hunters who pay top-dollar kill fees to hunt exotics. Zebra mares forage here near African impala antelopes, and it is easy to forget that downtown San Antonio is only two hours to the east.

    The ranch has about 30 bongo, the African antelopes with a trophy fee of $35,000. Last fall, a hunter shot one. "Taking one paid their feed bill for the entire year, for the rest of them," said Jason Molitor, the chief executive of the Ox Ranch.

    To many animal-protection groups, such management of rare and endangered species — breeding some, preventing some from being hunted, while allowing the killing of others — is not only repulsive, but puts hunting ranches in a legal and ethical gray area.

    "Depending on what facility it is, there's concern when animals are raised solely for profit purposes," said Anna Frostic, a senior attorney with the Humane Society of the United States.

    Hunting advocates disagree and say the breeding and hunting of exotic animals helps ensure species' survival. Exotic-game ranches see themselves not as an enemy of wildlife conservation but as an ally, arguing that they contribute a percentage of their profits to conservation efforts.

    "We love the animals, and that's why we hunt them," Mr. Molitor said. "Most hunters in general are more in line with conservation than the public believes that they are."

    Beyond the financial contributions, hunting ranches and their supporters say the blending of commerce and conservation helps save species from extinction.

    Wildlife experts said there are more blackbuck antelope in Texas than there are in their native India because of the hunting ranches. In addition, Texas ranchers have in the past sent exotic animals, including scimitar-horned oryx, back to their home countries to build up wild populations there.

    "Ranchers can sell these hunts and enjoy the income, while doing good for the species," said John M. Tomecek, a wildlife specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

    Animal-rights activists are outraged by these ranches. They call what goes on there "canned hunting" or "captive hunting.''

    "Hunting has absolutely nothing to do with conservation," said Ashley Byrne, the associate director of campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "What they're doing is trying to put a better spin on a business that they know the average person finds despicable."

    A 2007 report from Texas A&M University called the exotic wildlife industry in America a billion-dollar industry.

    At the Ox Ranch, it shows. The ranch has luxury log cabins, a runway for private planes and a 6,000-square-foot lodge with stone fireplaces and vaulted ceilings. More animals roam its 18,000 acres than roam the Houston Zoo, on a tract of land bigger than the island of Manhattan. The ranch is named for its owner, Brent C. Oxley, 34, the founder of HostGator.com, a web hosting provider that was sold in 2012 for more than $200 million.

    "The owner hopes in a few years that we can break even," Mr. Molitor said.

    Because the industry is largely unregulated, there is no official census of exotic animals in Texas. But ranchers and wildlife experts said that Texas has more exotics than any other state. A survey by the state Parks and Wildlife Department in 1994 put the exotic population at more than 195,000 animals from 87 species, but the industry has grown explosively since then; one estimate by John T. Baccus, a retired Texas State University biologist, puts the current total at roughly 1.3 million.

    The Ox Ranch needs no local, state or federal permit for most of their exotic animals.

    State hunting regulations do not apply to exotics, which can be hunted year-round. The Fish and Wildlife Service allows ranches to hunt and kill certain animals that are federally designated as threatened or endangered species, if the ranches take certain steps, including donating 10 percent of their hunting proceeds to conservation programs.

    The ranches are also issued permits to conduct activities that would otherwise be prohibited under the Endangered Species Act if those activities enhance the survival of the species in the wild. Those federal permits make it legal to hunt Eld's deer and other threatened or endangered species at the Ox Ranch.

    Mr. Molitor said more government oversight was unnecessary and would drive ranchers out of the business. "I ask people, who do you think is going to manage it better, private organizations or the government?" Mr. Molitor said.

    Lawyers for conservation and animal-protection groups say that allowing endangered animals to be hunted undermines the Endangered Species Act, and that the ranches' financial contributions fail to benefit wildlife conservation.

    "We ended up with this sort of pay-to-play idea," said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "It is absolutely absurd that you can go to a canned-hunt facility and kill an endangered or threatened species."

    The creatures are not the only things at the ranch that are exotic. The tanks are, too.

    The ranch offers its guests the opportunity to drive and shoot World War II-era tanks. People fire at bullet-ridden cars from atop an American M4 Sherman tank at a shooting range built to resemble a Nazi-occupied French town.

    "We knew the gun people would come out," said Todd DeGidio, the chief executive of DriveTanks.com, which runs the tank operation. "What surprised us was the demographic of people who've never shot guns before."

    Late one evening, two hunters, Joan Schaan and her 15-year-old son, Daniel, rushed to get ready for a nighttime hunt, adjusting the SWAT-style night-vision goggles on their heads.

    Ms. Schaan is the executive director of a private foundation in Houston. Daniel is a sophomore at St. John's School, a prestigious private school. They were there not for the exotics, but basically for the pests: feral hogs, which cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage annually in Texas.

    "We are here because we both like to hunt, and we like hunting hogs," Ms. Schaan said. "And we love the meat and the sausage from the hogs we harvest."

    Pursuing the hogs, Ms. Schaan and her son go off-roading through the brush in near-total darkness, with a hunting guide behind the wheel. Aided by their night-vision goggles, they passed by the giraffes before rattling up and down the hilly terrain.

    Daniel fired at hogs from the passenger seat with a SIG Sauer 516 rifle, his spent shell casings flying into the back seat. Their guide, Larry Hromadka, told Daniel when he could and could not take a shot.

    No one is allowed to hunt at the ranch without a guide. The guides make sure no one shoots an exotic animal accidentally with a stray bullet, and that no one takes aim at an off-limits creature.

    One of the hogs Daniel shot twitched and appeared to still be alive, until Mr. Hromadka approached with his light and his gun.

    Hundreds of animals shot at the ranch have ended up in the cluttered workrooms and showrooms at Graves Taxidermy in Uvalde.

    Part of the allure of exotic game-hunting is the so-called trophy at the end — the mounted and lifelike head of the animal that the hunter put down. The Ox Ranch is Graves Taxidermy's biggest customer.

    "My main business, of course, is white-tailed deer, but the exotics have kind of taken over," said Browder Graves, the owner.

    He said the animal mounts he makes for people were not so much a trophy on a wall as a symbol of the hunter's memories of the entire experience. He has a mount of a Himalayan tahr he shot in New Zealand that he said he cannot look at without thinking of the time he spent with his son hunting up in the mountains.

    "It's God's creature," he said. "I'm trying to make it look as good as it can."

    Small herds passed by the Jeep being driven by Mr. Watson, the hunting guide. There were white elk and eland, impala and Arabian oryx.

    Then the tour came to an unexpected stop. An Asiatic water buffalo blocked the road, unimpressed by the Jeep. The animal was caked with dried mud, an aging male that lived away from the herd.

    "The Africans call them dugaboys," Mr. Watson said. "They're old lone bulls. They're so big that they don't care."

    The buffalo took his time moving. For a moment, at least, he had all the power.



    6) 'Drug Dealers in Lab Coats'

    "You get 15 people hooked on opioids, and you're a thug who deserves to rot in hell; you get 150,000 people hooked, and you're a marketing genius who deserves a huge bonus."

    By Nicholas Kristof, Oct. 18, 2017


    For decades, America has waged an ineffective war on drug pushers and drug lords, from Bronx street corners to Medellin, Colombia, regarding them as among the most contemptible specimens of humanity.

    One reason our efforts have failed is we ignored the biggest drug pushers of all: American pharmaceutical companies.

    Our policy was: You get 15 people hooked on opioids, and you're a thug who deserves to rot in hell; you get 150,000 people hooked, and you're a marketing genius who deserves a huge bonus.

    Big Pharma should be writhing in embarrassment this week after The Washington Post and "60 Minutes" reported that pharmaceutical lobbyists had manipulated Congress to hamstring the Drug Enforcement Administration. But the abuse goes far beyond that: The industry systematically manipulated the entire country for 25 years, and its executives are responsible for many of the 64,000 deaths of Americans last year from drugs — more than the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam and Iraq wars combined.

    The opioid crisis unfolded because greedy people — Latin drug lords and American pharma executives alike — lost their humanity when they saw the astounding profits that could be made.

    It used to be in America that people became addicted to opioids through illegal drugs. In the 1960s, for example, 80 percent of Americans hooked on opioids began with heroin.

    That has completely changed. Today, 75 percent of people with opioid addictions began with prescription painkillers. The slide starts not on a street corner, but in a doctor's office.

    That's because pharmaceutical companies in the 1990s sought to promote opioid painkillers as new blockbuster drugs. Company executives accused doctors of often undertreating pain (there was something to this, but pharma executives contrived to turn it into a crisis that they could monetize). The companies backed front organizations like the American Pain Foundation, which purported to speak on behalf of suffering patients.

    These front organizations, as well as professionals sometimes funded by the pharmaceutical industry, heralded pain as the "fifth vital sign," along with pulse, temperature, respiratory rate and blood pressure. The opioid promoters hailed opioids as "safe and effective," and they particularly encouraged opioids for returning veterans — one reason so many veterans have suffered addictions.

    Pharma companies spent heavily advertising opioids — $14 million in medical journals in 2011 alone, almost triple what they had spent in 2001 and pitched them for a wide range of chronic pains, such as arthritis and back pain.

    Companies even argued that signs of addiction were a reason to prescribe more opioids. Endo Pharmaceuticals distributed a book suggesting that when a patient showed strange behavior, "the clinician's first response" should be to increase the dose of opioids.

    Several of these examples come from a lawsuit by Ohio against major pharmaceutical companies, including Purdue, Teva, Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson and Janssen. A company affiliated with Purdue pleaded guilty of felony fraud in connection with its marketing of OxyContin, but none of its executives went to prison.

    Drug companies employed roughly the same strategy as street-corner pushers: Get somebody hooked and business will take care of itself. So last year, Americans received 236 million opioid prescriptions — that's about one bottle for every adult.

    A Senate investigation found that one company, Insys Therapeutics, successfully redirected a powerful opioid called Subsys, meant for cancer pain, to patients without cancer. Sarah Fuller, a woman with neck and back pain, was prescribed Subsys by her doctor, who received payments from Insys.

    Fuller died of an overdose of Subsys.

    Meanwhile, Insys had the best-performing initial public offering in 2013, and revenue tripled in the next two years, the Senate report said. Likewise, the Sackler family, owner of the company that makes OxyContin, joined Forbes's list of richest American families in 2015, with $14 billion.

    It's maddening that the public narrative is still often about an opioid crisis fueled by the personal weakness and irresponsibility of users. No, it's fueled primarily by the greed and irresponsibility of drug lords — including the kind who inhabit executive suites. The Washington Post quoted a former D.E.A. official as referring to pharmaceutical company representatives as "drug dealers in lab coats."

    I was invited the other day to a gala honoring the C.E.O. of one of these pharma companies for his moral leadership. I wanted to throw up. Since 2000, more than 200,000 Americans have died from overdoses of prescription opioids — the consequence of a deliberate strategy to make money by ignoring public welfare.

    Our pattern of opioid addiction points to a tragedy, driven by the greed of some of America's leading companies and business executives, systematically manipulating doctors and patients and killing people on a scale that terrorists could never dream of.

    There's a lot of talk in the Trump administration about lifting regulations to free up the dynamism of corporations. Really? You want to see the consequences of unfettered pharma? Go visit a cemetery.



    7)  Spain Sets Stage to Take Control of Catalonia in Independence Fight

     OCT. 19, 2017




    BARCELONA, Spain — The standoff over Catalonia intensified significantly on Thursday as the Spanish government said it would take emergency measures to halt a secessionist drive after the leader of the restive region said that separatist lawmakers might declare independence.

    The announcement from Madrid came almost immediately after the Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, warned that regional lawmakers were prepared to press ahead with independence if the national government employed emergency powers.

    Facing a second deadline on Thursday to state Catalonia's intentions, Mr. Puigdemont sent a defiant letter to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, blaming him for escalating the conflict by refusing to meet and negotiate "despite all our efforts and our will to dialogue."

    The Spanish government, in turn, announced that it would convene an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday "to defend the general interest of Spaniards, among them the citizens of Catalonia."

    The rapid succession of events moved what was already one of the gravest crises in Spain's relatively young democracy to a far more serious and unpredictable stage.

    The Catalan government has said that 90 percent of voters in an Oct. 1 referendum supported independence. But Mr. Rajoy's government and the courts had declared the vote illegal, and the police officers who were sent to block polling places wounded hundreds in clashes. Only about 40 percent of the Catalan electorate took part, after Madrid advised those who opposed secession to stay away from polling stations.

    Catalonia — which has its own language and culture as well as a long history of resistance to Madrid — is an important engine of the Spanish economy. Independence aspirations have built in recent years over a host of social and economic grievances.

    Those tensions grew as Mr. Rajoy and Catalan leaders talked past one another, turning the kind of dispute that might have been defused years ago into a full-blown constitutional crisis.

    The latest statements from each side now move the dispute to the brink of explosive confrontation, with the prospect that Madrid could take over the running of Catalonia — and provoke new street demonstrations in a region where many are already bridling at what they see as Madrid's heavy hand.

    Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, spokesman for the Spanish government, said at a news conference that Madrid was ready to use "all the means within its reach to restore the legality and constitutional order as soon as possible."

    Yet such steps are fraught with uncertainty in a country that adopted its democratic constitution only in 1978, after the death of its longtime dictator, Gen. Francisco Franco.

    Last week, Mr. Rajoy initiated a request to invoke a broad and forceful tool that has never before been used — Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution — which would allow him to take direct control of Catalonia.

    He said he could resort to such a step if the Catalan leader, Mr. Puigdemont, did not clearly back down from a threat to declare independence.

    In his letter on Thursday, Mr. Puigdemont concluded with a clear threat of a breakup.

    "If the government continues to prevent dialogue and maintains the repression,'' he wrote, "the Parliament of Catalonia could go ahead, if it deems it opportune, and vote the formal declaration of independence."

    The letter was sent shortly before the deadline of 10 a.m. Thursday that Mr. Rajoy had set for Mr. Puigdemont to clarify whether Catalonia had declared independence, a question that arose after Mr. Puigdemont delivered a deeply ambiguous speech last week before Catalonia's regional Parliament.

    In that speech, he appeared to declare independence but then immediately suspended the decision. Separatist lawmakers then signed a declaration of independence, but without first voting on the text, as had been expected.

    Officials in Madrid have repeatedly warned in recent days that Mr. Rajoy would consider anything short of a clear withdrawal of the declaration of independence to be unacceptable blackmail, after what he deemed an unsatisfactory response from Mr. Puigdemont on Monday.

    Article 155 would give Madrid the authority to suspend Mr. Puigdemont and other Catalan lawmakers, and to take charge of the region's autonomous administration, including the Catalan broadcaster and autonomous police force, although Mr. Rajoy has not publicly committed to an emergency intervention.

    It is unclear what Mr. Rajoy will propose to his cabinet on Saturday, but he may try to gradually raise pressure on the fragile coalition of Catalan separatists, rather than risk a forceful intervention that could backfire and galvanize the independence movement. José Luis Ábalos, an official from the main opposition Socialist party, indicated at a news conference on Thursday that the party would support Mr. Rajoy — as long as the prime minister made a limited and short usage of Article 155, and also somehow kept "self-government" in Catalonia.

    Using constitutional powers, Mr. Rajoy could appoint a caretaker administration in Catalonia. Mr. Puigdemont, on the other hand, could face sedition charges and ultimately a long prison sentence for presenting a unilateral declaration of independence that violates Spain's Constitution.

    Politicians in Madrid have recently demanded that Catalonia hold regional elections as soon as possible, but Mr. Puigdemont made no mention of such a vote in his letter on Thursday.

    The separatist leaders of Catalonia are already claiming that Madrid has used disproportionate means to push them out of office, with the help of Spanish police and the courts.

    About 200,000 demonstrators gathered on Tuesday in central Barcelona, according to the local police, to demand the release of two separatist leaders who were sent to prison without bail, pending a trial on sedition charges. In his letter on Thursday, Mr. Puigdemont mentioned the arrest of the two leaders as evidence of Spain's repressive stance.

    The rising uncertainty and the threat of declaring independence have already prompted hundreds of companies to relocate their headquarters outside Catalonia, further straining the unwieldy separatist coalition that holds a majority of the seats in the regional Parliament.

    Hard-line secessionists want an abrupt and unilateral rupture with the central government in Madrid, while conservative and more moderate separatists are increasingly worried about the economic consequences for Catalonia.

    Luis de Guindos, the Spanish economy minister, told Parliament on Thursday that the relocation of Catalan companies was "only an appetizer of what could happen if independence was confirmed — something that the government will not allow."

    Mr. Puigdemont sent his latest letter after an emergency meeting of his conservative party late Wednesday, during which lawmakers gave clear support for not withdrawing the declaration of independence, according to local news reports.

    Still, secessionism has divided Catalonia. Separatist parties won control of the regional Parliament in 2015, but with only 48 percent of the vote.

    Núria Marín, the Socialist mayor of L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, the second-largest city in Catalonia, just southwest of Barcelona, said on Thursday that politicians on both sides should take the blame for plunging Catalonia into a crisis.

    "I believe that with threats on the part of one side or the other, we won't now solve this situation," she said. "We are sadly seeing that companies are leaving while we are sending letters to one another."

    Whatever the government decides on Saturday, the Catalan crisis is set to drag on: Mr. Rajoy would need approval from the Senate before intervening in Catalonia.

    Mr. Rajoy's governing Popular Party has a majority in the Senate, and Podemos, a far-left party, is the only major opposition group that is opposed to using Article 155 in Catalonia. Instead, Podemos has suggested that Spain should hold a nationwide referendum over Catalonia's future statehood.

    Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos, said Thursday morning that "Spain can't appear to be like a banana republic that has problems of democracy." He added, "We don't want to threaten or repress Catalonia, but we want to convince Catalonia that Spain is a collective project that is worth it."



    8)  Californians Will Soon Have Nonbinary as a Gender Option on Birth Certificates

     OCT. 19, 2017




    Californians who don't identify themselves as male or female will soon be able to get a gender-neutral birth certificate.

    Until now, people who wanted to obtain a nonbinary gender designation had to get a physician's affidavit stating that they had undergone treatment for the purpose of gender transition. That's what A. T. Furuya, a 35-year-old advocate for transgender youth at the San Diego LGBT Community Center, had to do to become one of the first people in the country to obtain a legally designated gender that is neither male nor female.

    The court papers resolving that ordeal in February prompted tears. "I was shocked," A. T. said. "I was like, 'Oh my god, this just happened.'"

    The physician letters have become a thing of the past in California. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Monday that simplifies the process, and provides nonbinary and intersex people with the ability to request a new birth certificate with a third, nonbinary category. It is the first state to offer such an option.

    Those who define themselves as nonbinary consider themselves neither male nor female, whereas those who are intersex have atypical sexual anatomy. Both groups have long sought legal documents that represent their identity.

    The California law, S.B. 179, which was written by two Democratic state senators, Toni G. Atkins and Scott D. Wiener, goes into effect starting in 2018.

    Oregon and Washington, D.C., have recently offered residents gender-neutral options on driver's licenses, and the Washington State Department of Health is planning to hold a public hearing this year on the inclusion of a nonbinary option on birth certificates, the public radio station KUOW reported.

    For A. T., having gender-neutral state-issued documentation means no longer being told by doctors or employers that the gender originally indicated on a birth certificate is all that matters.

    "They don't get to decide for you based on what you're assigned at birth," A. T. said. "Someone can go into a new job as nonbinary and have paperwork to back that up and there's no way for the employer to know."

    The legislation has faced some resistance. One conservative group expressed concerns that the new law, which eliminates the need for a physician's letter in support of a gender transition, could lead to identity fraud.

    And the California Family Council said the inclusion of a third gender on state documents would create the need for nonbinary sports teams at public schools, at a great expense.

    In an opinion articlepublished in The San Diego Union-Tribune in July, the group's president, Jonathan Keller, warned that if the law were enacted, "California's nearly 150 public colleges and universities, and all 10,453 public schools would be required to provide not only male and female athletic teams and facilities but nonbinary ones as well," to comply with the Title IX federal civil rights law.

    But legal experts and supporters reject that claim.

    "It's a surprising argument to hear because it's not as if the Department of Education is increasing its enforcement of Title IX as a protector of transgender civil rights," Erin E. Buzuvis, a law professor at Western New England University, said in a phone interview. "The regulations are clearly written with the gender binary in mind."

    Kristine E. Newhall, an assistant professor of kinesiology at SUNY Cortland, agreed.

    The N.C.A.A. doesn't regulate gender identity for the purposes of being on a team, Dr. Newhall said. They use biological markers instead.

    "It's not how you identify in terms of your gender," she said. "You can have that N on your license, and the N.C.A.A. doesn't care about that. They care about whether you're on hormones or not."



    9)  The world has nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons. This year's Nobel Peace Prize honors the quest to abolish all of them.

     October 6, 2017




     An international group dedicated to eliminating nuclear weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, a recognition of efforts to avoid nuclear conflict at a time of pronounced global tensions.

    The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was honored for its work to foster a global ban on the destructive weapons, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said. 

    The scrappy civil-society movement was behind a successful push this summer for a U.N. treaty that prohibits nuclear weapons. It promotes nuclear disarmament around the world.

    The award comes amid rising global alarm about a potential nuclear conflagration. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has hurled threats of nuclear missile strikes against the United States, and President Trump has warned that he could "totally destroy North Korea" if provoked. The barbed exchanges have raised fears among many global leaders of a miscalculation that could end in cataclysmic conflict.

    Separately, Trump plans next week to "decertify" the international agreement that limits Iran's nuclear program, a step that European allies worry could lead to nuclear proliferation.

    "The risk of nuclear war has grown exceptionally in the last few years, and that's why it makes this treaty and us receiving this award so important," Beatrice Fihn, the Swedish executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, said in a telephone interview. "We do not have to accept this [risk]. We do not have to live with the kind of fear that Donald Trump could start a nuclear war that would destroy all of us. We should not base our security on whether or not his finger is on the trigger."

    ICAN recognizes that nuclear weapons will not disappear any time soon. But Fihn said a ban is still a realistic long-term goal, similar to the way an international taboo was created around the use of chemical weapons.

    "Keeping nuclear weapons legal isn't going to help things," she said.

    The decade-old Geneva-based coalition, which was modeled on international efforts to ban land mines, has branches in more than 100 countries.

    The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was approved by two-thirds of U.N. members in July, but it has not attracted support from any of the world's nine nuclear powers, which together possess nearly 15,000 atomic weapons. The United States and others boycotted the U.N. discussions that led to the treaty.

    Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said at the timethat "we have to be realistic" about the nuclear threat of rogue nations such as North Korea, and she warned that the ban could actually increase the risk of nuclear war, not reduce it.

    Nuclear powers around the world repeated their opposition to efforts to ban the weapons following the Nobel announcement Friday.

    "The Nuclear Ban Treaty does not move us closer to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. "In fact, it risks undermining the progress we have made over the years in disarmament and non-proliferation." 

    The White House and leaders of other nuclear powers have instead endorsed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which limits but does not ban the powerful weapons. Russia and the United States hold the world's largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

    Signatories to the prohibition treaty would be banned from developing, testing and possessing nuclear weapons, as well as threatening to use them. The treaty will go into effect once 50 nations ratify it. Guyana, Thailand and the Vatican were the first three to do so.

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee recognized ICAN for "its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons," chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen of Norway said as she announced the prize in Oslo. 

    "There is a popular belief among people all over the world that the world has become more dangerous, and that there is a tendency where we experience that the threats of nuclear conflict have come closer," Reiss-

    Andersen said. The group has been successful in "engaging people in the world who are scared of the fact that they are supposed to be protected by atomic weapons," she said.

    Asked whether the award was intended as a pushback to Trump's martial messages, Reiss-Andersen said that "we're not kicking anybody's leg with this prize. We are giving great encouragement."

    The Nobel committee said it chose to honor ICAN because of the group's concrete success in pushing the treaty forward. The idea of a nuclear-free world is broader, and an aging group of U.S. hawks gave it a prominent kick-start.

    Former secretaries of state George P. Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former defense secretary William J. Perry and former senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), a ­bipartisan quartet with deep ­national security credentials, made headlines in 2007 when they endorsed ridding the world of nuclear weapons. Their ideas helped launch the anti-nuclear Global Zero movement.

    Anti-nuclear campaigners say they recognize the challenge of persuading nuclear powers to agree to give up their weapons.  

    But the advocates believe that the treaty creates an international norm that will eventually pressure nuclear-armed countries into compliance, even if they never formally sign on, said Rebecca Johnson, executive director of Britain's Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy.

    "Nuclear weapons became a tool for weak leaders to take shortcuts instead of providing their own people with safety, ­security and food," said Johnson, a founding co-chairwoman of ICAN. "We have to take that value away in order to pull down numbers to zero."

    She said that nuclear tensions between Washington and North Korea represent a setback to world peace.

    "That has to be done with diplomacy and politics, and definitely not nuclear saber-rattling between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un," she said. "They are very dangerous leaders that think they are exercising nuclear deterrence but in their irrationality are actually risking nuclear war."

    Indeed, world peace seems especially fragile now. North Korea in recent months has embarked on a series of ambitious tests of nuclear-weapons technology and has threatened to strike the mainland United States. 

    Meanwhile, Trump is poised next week to decertify the deal limiting Iran's nuclear program. Under the 2015 accord, Iran pledged that "under no circumstances" would it "ever seek, ­develop or acquire any nuclear weapons" and said its aim was only to make progress on "an exclusively peaceful" nuclear energy program.

    Separately, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has come under fire for failing to stop or condemn the ethnic cleansing of her nation's Rohingya Muslim minority in recent months.

    William Branigin in Washington contributed to this report.



    10)  In St. Louis, Protests Over Police Violence Disrupt Economy, and Win Attention

     OCT. 20, 2017



    ST. LOUIS — Chris Sommers, who runs a chain of successful pizza restaurants here, has long supported both sides in the fierce standoff between police officers and black residents playing out in this city.

    He donated to civil rights groups after the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., which is just 10 miles away. He also backed officers, giving them discounts at his pizzerias and supporting the mayoral candidate endorsed by the police union.

    But Mr. Sommers chose sides about a month ago.

    After protesters peacefully marched past one of his restaurants one night, Mr. Sommers said riot-ready police officers came through the empty street. He said they indiscriminately fired pellets, shot tear gas as his patrons dined on the sidewalk and chased after him when he cursed at them to stop. It was an inexplicable and unnecessary show of force in his view.

    "I was an outspoken critic already of the criminalization of being black," said Mr. Sommers, who is white. "It wasn't as personal until the police tried to wreak havoc on me and my business. Unfortunately, it took that for me to get as angry as I need to be."

    Mr. Sommers, a prominent civic benefactor who owns Pi Pizzeria, assailed the police on social media. He ended discounts for officers and joined a chorus of activists calling on Mayor Lyda Krewson to replace the police chief.

    In the weeks since, a small but spirited group has taken to the streets of St. Louis and surrounding communities almost every night to protest police violence, inspired by the acquittal last month of Jason Stockley, a white former police officer, in the fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black.

    Although the demonstrations have not drawn the crowds or national media attention of those in nearby Ferguson and other cities, the outrage of Mr. Sommers reflects the surprising impact they have had.

    While regional leaders say they are confident the area can thrive economically amid the demonstrations, protest leaders have gotten their attention. The protesters have largely won the public relations battle against the police — who have made some embarrassing missteps in their handling of the demonstrations — and have seized the media narrative, with the local press reporting on their complaints against particular officers and police tactics.

    With a focus on disrupting the city's economy, the protests have forced the city to pay more than $3 million in police overtime and have led to lost revenue after a couple of major concerts were canceled. Demonstrations — or even just the fear of them — have prompted grocery stores and malls to temporarily close. And some wonder whether the unrest will harm the region's bid to lure the new Amazon headquarters.

    Since the protests started, Ms. Krewson, who came to the mayor's job this year lacking a reputation as a racial justice advocate, has vowed to work quickly to enact police reforms and address racial inequities. She has publicly criticized Lawrence O'Toole, the interim police chief she selected, and questioned the tactics his officers employed during the protests, calling for an independent investigation into allegations of brutality — a call that Chief O'Toole joined.

    Joe Reagan, the president of the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce who is white, published an opinion piece in a local African-American newspaper urging swift police reforms to help the region's economic health, and voiced support for an investigation.

    "I think people are nervous about irreparable harm to the civic identity," said the Rev. Starsky Wilson, a co-chairman of the commission created in the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting.

    If nothing else, said Mr. Wilson, who is black, the persistent protests should alert cities nationwide that people will not be satisfied by endless commissions and policy proposals that do not result in action.

    "They'll be back if you don't take seriously their concerns," he said.

    Still, demonstrators are not declaring victory.

    For as much as they have gotten Ms. Krewson's attention, she has not heeded one of their loudest demands — to immediately replace Chief O'Toole, who is white, with a chief they believe would work better with the community.

    Many of the changes they are asking for — more robust civilian oversight, a more diverse department, bridging racial inequalities — are fixes that will take time. And many familiar racial divisions remain: At a recent St. Louis County Council meeting over police pay raises, the pro-police crowd was largely white, applauding those who spoke in favor of officers but remaining silent when others advocated reforms.

    "We haven't seen any real, tangible, systemic change at all, from how the police are allowed to police us to how they're allowed to engage with us during protests," said Dhoruba Shakur, a 27-year-old black man, as he marched alongside a group of about 50 protesters on a recent evening with an AR-15 rifle slung over his shoulder. "But we're not done."

    There have been protests nearly every day since the verdict in the Stockley case on Sept. 15. The core group organizing the demonstrations cut their teeth in Ferguson and say they have adjusted their strategy based on their experiences there.

    They focus on protests that cause economic disruption, often targeting white neighborhoods.

    "We are bringing it to the doors of people who do not have to live this life and just giving that little bit of uncomfortableness," said LaShell Eikerenkoetter, a protest leader who is black. "Now you understand what we as black folks feel and why we are out here."

    The demonstrations employ an element of surprise to throw off the police. They have attracted a diverse crowd and word is spread by live-streaming demonstrations online.

    "Ferguson, we were driven off passion, anger. We were just flat out mad," said Bruce Franks Jr., a state representative who is black, and who began his activism in Ferguson. "Now we're mad, we're still passionate, we're still angry. But we concentrate heavily on strategy now."

    The demonstrations have made some people afraid to come to the city because they fear that there is chaos and that police officers are afraid to do their jobs, said Brad Waldrop, a real estate developer who is white. Mr. Waldrop is skeptical that the attempt by protesters to apply economic pressure will lead to broad reforms, because of all the municipalities and counties in the region that operate independently.

    Some of the activists' biggest victories have come at the expense of the police.

    Officers have made more than 300 arrests, some of them questionable. They have swept up an undercover officer, an Air Force lieutenant, a reporter for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and people who were not protesting. The newspaper published accounts of people who said the police struck or pepper-sprayed them after they had been taken to the ground.

    The police took on more criticism when video captured some officers stealing a protest chant: "Whose streets? Our streets." Chief O'Toole only made things worse when he later declared that the police had "owned tonight." And many were outraged at a photo that showed a suburban police officer with his hand around the throat of an elderly black woman during a demonstration in a shopping mall.

    The episodes have eroded trust in a force already struggling to improve community relations in a city trying to rein in its high murder rate, residents said.

    "The Police Department has taken a black eye," said Heather Taylor, a police sergeant here who is president of the Ethical Society of Police, the union representing black officers. "I think we've earned it."

    Ms. Krewson, who is white, made the unusual step of publicly criticizing her chief, calling his remarks inflammatory. She requested that the Justice Department investigate allegations of officer misconduct in their response.

    "I hear them louder," Ms. Krewson said of the protesters. "I understand them better because we're living this day-to-day."



    11)  Abortion Ideologues Subvert a Woman's Rights

     OCT. 20, 2017




    Jane Doe is a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant detained in Texas who is 15 weeks pregnant and is seeking an abortion. The Constitution grants her that right, but the Trump administration is determined to subvert it as part of its war on women's reproductive rights.

    Late Friday, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that the teenager must be allowed to have an abortion, but it gave the federal government until Oct. 31 to find her a sponsor so that the government itself does not have to arrange for the procedure. The ruling came hours after the court heard the case, in which the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement said that if it released her to see a doctor it would "facilitate" an abortion, an action it said would contradict its interest in "promoting child birth and fetal life." The government argued that barring an abortion doesn't place an "undue burden" on her rights because she can always go home to get one — to a Central American country that criminalizes abortion and to parents who are abusive.

    This argument is as weak as it is ideologically brazen.

    It doesn't seem to matter to the government that adult women in detention by law have access to abortion, or that this teenager has followed Texas law and obtained a waiver from a state court allowing her to get an abortion without her parents' consent. And while the Office of Refugee Resettlement refuses to let employees at the shelter where she is being held take her to get an abortion, it ordered them to bring her to a "crisis pregnancy center" with the goal of talking her out of the procedure.

    Friday's ruling lets the government continue to shirk the law until it finds a sponsor. The American Civil Liberties Union was weighing an appeal, potentially to the Supreme Court. Not only the federal government is obstructing Jane Doe's path; Texas lawmakers have created a hostile environment for reproductive rights. The Supreme Court last year struck down one of the harshest of those laws, but Texas still requires women seeking abortions to first undergo mandatory counseling and an ultrasound, both of which the teenager has done. And the state still bans almost all abortions after 20 weeks, leaving her with about a month before she passes the point at which she will be forced to give birth.

    That appears to be the government's goal, and as time passes, E. Scott Lloyd, the anti-abortion crusader who heads the refugee office, comes closer to meeting it. In a court filing, the A.C.L.U. said Mr. Lloyd had in the past flown to an immigrant detention center to persuade another unaccompanied minor to carry her pregnancy to term. This time he wants the courts to enforce his will.

    To all who wondered why religious conservatives struck a Faustian bargain with a morally compromised candidate, this case provides one answer. Anti-abortion advocates, from Vice President Mike Pence on down, find President Trump useful for converting their beliefs into policy.

    At the health department, Teresa Manning, a former analyst with the conservative Family Research Council who opposes abortion and most forms of contraception, is deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, in charge of the Title X program. The program provides family planning funding for four million poor or uninsured Americans. Charmaine Yoest, former president for Americans United for Life, is the department's assistant secretary of public affairs. Matthew Bowman, who worked for Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian anti-abortion legal advocacy group, is now a lawyer at the department, and a reported architect of new Obamacare rules making it easier for some companies to claim religious or moral exemptions to requirements that they cover the cost of birth control. Katy Talento, an abortion foe who wrote an article beginning, "Is chemical birth control causing miscarriages of already-conceived children? What about breaking your uterus for good?" is now a health policy adviser on the White House Domestic Policy Council.

    Nationally and globally, through restrictions on foreign aid, women's reproductive rights are endangered by administration officials warping policy to their beliefs, regardless of the law. Now they don't even bother to hide their intent.



    12)  High School Students Explain Why They Protest Anthems and Pledges

    Colin Kaepernick's decision to sit or take a knee during the national anthem exploded into a national conversation about race. Here, high school students tell us why they sit or kneel during the national anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance — or why they stand and participate. 

    Oct. 21, 2017


    In August, 2016, the National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting, and then kneeling, during the national anthem before games as a protest against racist treatment of black people in the United States. His gestures created a new front in the national conversation about race, policing and patriotism. 

    His action spread beyond the N.F.L., to soccer fields and basketball courts, and into high schools across the country. In recent weeks, as more players in the N.F.L. have locked arms, taken a knee or raised their fists during the national anthem, some students have again taken similar actions. 

    We asked high school students to tell us why they sit or kneel during the national anthem or Pledge of Allegiance, or why they stand and recite the words. Here is what they had to say. 

    Naylah Williams, 17

    New York

    Knelt during football games this year

    My first reaction to seeing Colin Kaepernick kneeling was: Why did he do this? And what does it mean to him? I Googled it, I looked on social media, I talked to my parents. One thing my mom said to me is that I wouldn't be thinking about this so much if it didn't mean a lot to me. It was bothering me that I was thinking about not kneeling because it's one of those things where I can't sit back and watch everything happen and not say something about it.

    In school, we learn about America and why things are the way they are. To take a step back and look at how things are, you can see that something doesn't add up. The America we learn about in school is about justice and the fundamental rights that this country is built on, including that everyone has the same rights. That's not happening. People from different races have fought for different rights, and people are not giving them those rights. 

    There was one football player that approached a few other cheerleaders and me. He told me this is what they wanted to do and why they wanted to do it. I wanted to make sure they weren't doing it just to follow what N.F.L. players did. I wanted people to see that there is social injustice, racial inequality and police brutality. I didn't want people to use that as an excuse to make a name for themselves. I wanted them to kneel because they felt in their heart that was the right thing to do. 

    I was definitely nervous. It's not easy standing up for something that could cause so much controversy, but when you know it's right, it makes it easier.Some people were supportive. This one lady came up to me and said I was so inspirational and that she wanted a picture with me. Another lady dropped off flowers for me at school. 

    There was a lot of hate that went around. Some of the football players received death threats and people saying it was disrespectful to kneel. It went around a lot more than we anticipated. So many other people were posting it. It was getting hundreds of thousands of likes, so a lot of people had a lot to say. The football players were scared. I was scared. We didn't expect it to get so big, and we didn't know how to handle it. 

    The second game I knelt at, there were people in the parking lot with a Confederate flag. It was nauseating. Not many people show up to the games. Going out to the stands and seeing all these people show up, I realized this is bigger than I thought it was going to be. I feel that with time, people will understand. Changing someone's view on something isn't easy to do.

    I'm happy with it. I'm proud of myself for standing up for something I believe in, even if other people don't. The people who know why I did it, I want them to know they're not alone. It's a lot scarier to do something by yourself than when you have people doing it with you.

    Trenton Faulkner, 18


    Always stands for the national anthem

    I really choose to stand to show respect to everyone who is in service, who is on duty at the moment. They give so much and they get so little. The national anthem, the pledge, it's all showing respect to people doing their duty overseas in order for us to have the freedom to protest. 

    My dad and my brother both served in the army, and I'm trying to go into the Navy SEALs. People coming back from the war and facing personal issues, this probably makes them feel so low.

    I know it's a right whether or not to stand or sit, but overall it's showing respect to people who are fighting for us. We hardly ever give them anything back. These football players get paid millions of dollars a day to sit on a bench. People who are fighting wars get paid $26,000 a year

    I think the kids kneeling in high schools are following a trend. There are only a few who will actually dedicate their time to this subject. All the kids like to follow the trends. They probably don't really reason with what they're doing. They feel like it's cool to follow along. 

    It's an O.K. thing to recognize an issue with race. Some people complain they're not getting paid as much as someone else or that they're getting treated wrong because of their race. Maybe the right place to really protest would be D.C. Doing a peaceful march and doing speeches in Washington would be the most beneficial plan for them. 

    Jahmire Cassanova, 17

    New York

    Knelt during games this year and last year

    At our homecoming in October, one other person in my grade, a person in the grade above me, and I decided to kneel for the national anthem. That was the only time we had the anthem before the game. We all identify as black males. It was a bit interesting that we were the only ones who did it. 

    A couple of days earlier we had been talking about kneeling for the anthem. It was a natural conversation we were having in response to all the things going on with Colin Kaepernick. Growing up as a black male, and not adhering to stereotypes of what a black male in the U.S. could be, I've always been very sensitive to acts that lack equity in the population of black males. 

    My parents always had conversations about how I should conduct myself based on real-life violence that occurs and based on stereotypes. Would I come home late? Would I take the subway? It has always been an uneasy thing for me to handle, especially when I was younger. It's a discomfiting feeling to always have to present yourself a certain way, especially when you know the type of person you are and the goals you're setting for yourself. As I got older, I realized how you are doesn't matter as much as it should because other individuals can't tell those things just by looking at you. 

    When I knelt, on the one hand I felt connected to people who protest against racial inequality and discrimination, but at the same time I felt a disconnect from a number of people in the community at Horace Mann. Not because they weren't kneeling but because I was, and I wasn't sure if they shared the same sentiments I do about racial discrimination. 

    Ellie Vahey, 16


    Knelt during soccer games

    A teammate approached me about the idea to take a knee in order to show solidarity with victims in our country of violence and oppression, specifically minorities. We obviously don't have the platform that professional athletes to. We knew this wouldn't solve the problem, but we thought it would be a good way to evoke conversation and get people in our community to confront what has been going on in the news.

    The first time, there were eight of us. It's been that number consistently. We've done it at three games. 

    We wrote an email to the athletic director in our school on behalf of three of us who had interest. We weren't asking for permission since it's a constitutional right, but we wanted to keep everybody on the same page. 

    Since our team is almost all white, some people felt that taking a knee wasn't the best way to solve the problem or to protest. When you see someone white taking a knee, it can be almost like, "Oh, they don't have anything to complain about. Why are they taking a knee?" 

    But the message we wanted to send is solidarity with minorities who face violence at the hands of police officers in our countryBecause of my race and how I was born, I was born into a position of privilege. I felt like I have a moral obligation to do something and not be silent. There are situations where you can't be a bystander. It's important to make a gesture and raise your voice, even if that voice is a small one. 

    In America one of the most beautiful things is we have the right to express our opinions how we want to. If people are feeling obligated to stand for the national anthem, I think that's a very big red flag. Because America is not the land of the free for everyone in our country, I think that people should have the right to see America both for its accomplishments but also for its flaws. For a coach to tell a player not to take a knee, that goes against everything our country stands for and the rights that the brave men and women that serve this country fight for. 

    Emma Cowen, 17

    New York

    Has not stood for the Pledge of Allegiance in school consistently for two years

    It was about two years ago that I stopped saying it every day. I'm a senior in high school. In 10th grade, I wouldn't say it, but I would stand up. Now as my own silent protest, I sit during the Pledge of Allegiance. 

    I have no connection to religion whatsoever. The fact that they added the "under God" part to the Pledge of Allegiance doesn't represent me, and it doesn't represent others who do not have religious affiliations. 

    I definitely support the reasons that Colin Kaepernick keeps referring to. The tension between the police and African-Americans is not being resolved in a way that is benefiting the African-American community. The police system is not being altered in a way that will make it not inherently racist and allow it to protect every individual regardless of color. What I'm upset by is a coach saying, "I will bench someone who takes a knee." That's an injustice because you can't exercise your freedom of speech by doing a silent, personal protest.

    There are things you can do besides saying the pledge to show that you support this country even if it might not support you. My mom is a public-school teacher. For her, it's helping others get a public-school education. For me, it's standing up for the rights that the country has promised to protect — I went to the Women's March in Washington, D.C. 

    Caroline Slack, 17


    Stands for the Pledge of Allegiance but shows her opinion in other ways

    I saw the news when Colin Kaepernick kneeled. But nothing ever really came up at my high school physically for a while. Most of the time the protests happen during the Pledge of Allegiance. For example, after the presidential election a lot of people I knew were considering staying seated during the Pledge of Allegiance. If you are sitting, they know what you're standing for or against.

    I stand because I have family who is in the military, and I have a lot of reasons why I would stand for the flag. But, I don't put my hand over my heart because while I do stand for the United States, I know that there are there are issues that need to be addressed. Issues that I will not personally face because I am a white girl in the South in a middle-class family. So when taking my hand off my heart, it's my way of acknowledging that there's something happening. But it's a kind of a quieter way of showing my opinion.

    I don't want to be someone who stands by and watches it. I want to be active. It's hard to be active just standing or sitting. I think that when I get into college I'll be able to be more public about my beliefs and my opinionsBut for now leaving my hand off my heart kind of shows that there is something wrong with what's happening.

    A.J. Cabrera


    Took a knee alongside her dance team at a football game

    Before the national anthem, my whole dance team took a knee, as well as the football team and the cheerleading team. And my own superintendent came up and gave a speech about microaggressions and racial hatred among our communities and in this country. He wanted to make it clear that bigotry wasn't tolerated at the school. And he wanted to make it clear that we were all in it together. 

    The kneeling was something that we talked about during the week. With my team, we had to make it clear that it wasn't just a trend, we weren't doing it just because the cheerleading squad was doing it or because the football players were. But because we actually wanted to take a stand for what we believed in.

    I took a knee because I feel that to stand for the flag is to agree that it is a symbol of freedom and justice. For me, to stand for the anthem and to put my hand on my heart feels a bit ironic considering the fact that we are not living an American dream. There are so many things wrong that we still need to fix and address.

    I think that while racism is erased from the laws, women have rights and the laws prohibit racial bigotry, that doesn't mean it is not abundant in society. You can still see very clear examples of this when you read the news. For example, if you look at the Las Vegas shooter, who was white, most of the headlines I see describe the shooter as the "least expected to do this," or "he was a humble man," or "he was a nice neighbor." But shooters of other races immediately get the label of what they are, these people are terrorists, these people are murderers. While this man, who caused one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, is given a humane perspective.

    When I was taking a knee and I saw everyone else joining us in the action of taking a knee, I just felt really powerful and united with everyone at my school. I felt really proud of my community and how we had all come together.



    13)  Spain Will Remove Catalan Leader, Prime Minister Announces

     OCT. 21, 2017



    MADRID — In a first for Spain, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced on Saturday that he would remove the separatist government of the independence-minded region of Catalonia and initiate a process of direct rule from Madrid.

    The announcement, made after an emergency cabinet meeting, was an unexpectedly forceful attempt to stop a yearslong drive for secession in Catalonia, which staged a highly controversial independence referendum on Oct. 1, even after it was declared illegal by the Spanish government and courts.

    Mr. Rajoy took the bold steps with broad support from Spain's main political opposition, and will almost certainly receive the required approval next week from the Spanish Senate, where his own conservative party holds a majority.

    But the moves were immediately condemned by Catalan leaders and thrust Spain into uncharted waters, as the prime minister tried to put down the gravest constitutional crisis his country has faced since embracing democracy after the death of its dictator Gen. Francisco Franco in 1975.

    It would be the first time that the central government in Madrid has stripped the autonomy of one of its 17 regions, and the first time that a leader has invoked Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution — a broad tool intended to protect the "general interests" of the nation.

    Mr. Rajoy said the Catalan government had never offered real dialogue with the central government in Madrid but had instead tried to impose its secessionist project on Catalan citizens and the rest of the country in violation of Spain's Constitution.

    He said his government was putting an end to "a unilateral process, contrary to the law and searching for confrontation" because "no government of any democratic country can accept that the law be violated, ignored and changed."

    Mr. Rajoy said he planned to remove the Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, and the rest of his separatist administration from office.

    The central government was also poised to take charge of Catalonia's autonomous police force.

    Mr. Rajoy did not ask to dissolve the Catalan Parliament, but instead said that the president of the assembly would not be allowed to take any initiative judged to be contrary to Spain's constitution for a period of 30 days, including trying to propose another leader to replace Mr. Puigdemont.

    Mr. Rajoy said that his goal was to arrange new Catalan elections within six months, so as to lift the measures taken under Article 155 as soon as possible.

    However, it's unclear how such elections would be organized or whether they would significantly change Catalonia's political landscape, let alone help to resolve the territorial conflict.

    In fact, the steps announced by Mr. Rajoy run a serious risk of further inflaming an already volatile atmosphere in Catalonia, where tens of thousands braved Spanish national police wielding truncheons to vote for independence during the barred Oct. 1 referendum.

    Mr. Puigdemont was expected to lead a mass demonstration in Barcelona, the region's capital, on Saturday afternoon, before giving his official response to Mr. Rajoy's decision.

    Several Catalan separatist politicians, however, reacted immediately to Mr. Rajoy's announcement, warning that it would escalate rather than resolve the conflict.

    Josep Lluís Cleries, a Catalan senator, told reporters on Saturday that Mr. Rajoy's decision showed that "the Spain of today is not democratic because what he has said is a return to the year 1975," referring to Franco's death. Mr. Rajoy, he added, was suspending not autonomy in Catalonia but democracy.

    Oriol Junqueras, the region's deputy leader, said in a tweet that it was "facing totalitarianism" and called on citizens to join the Barcelona protest on Saturday.

    Significantly, Iñigo Urkullu, the leader of the Basque region, which also has a long history of separatism, described the measures as "disproportionate and extreme," writing on Twitter that they would "dynamite the bridges" to any dialogue.

    Faced with Madrid's decision to remove him from office, Mr. Puigdemont could try to pre-empt Mr. Rajoy's intervention and instead ask Catalan lawmakers to vote on a declaration of independence in coming days — as he had threatened to do earlier this month.

    Mr. Puigdemont could also then try to convene Catalan elections, on his own terms, to form what he could describe as the first Parliament of a new Catalan republic.

    Should Mr. Puigdemont resist Mr. Rajoy's plans, Spain's judiciary could separately step in more forcefully and order that he and other separatists be arrested on charges of sedition or ultimately even rebellion for declaring independence.

    Rebellion carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years. Earlier this week, a judge from Spain's national court ordered prison without bail for two separatist leaders, pending a sedition trial.

    Using Article 155 "was neither our desire nor our intention," Mr. Rajoy said on Saturday, but had become the only way to return Catalonia to legality, normality and maintain a Spanish economic recovery "which is now under clear danger because of the capricious and unilateral decisions" of the Catalan separatist government.

    Mr. Rajoy highlighted the decision of over 1,000 Catalan companies this month to relocate their legal headquarters outside the region, in response to the uncertainty generated by the possibility of a breakup with Madrid.

    Mr. Rajoy received strong backing from politicians from the main opposition parties, with the notable exception of Podemos, the far-left party that wants to use a referendum to convince Catalan voters to remain within Spain.

    "We're shocked by the suspension of democracy in Catalonia," Pablo Echenique, a senior official from Podemos, said in a televised news conference on Saturday, after Mr. Rajoy's announcement.



    14)  Memoir of Growing Up Fat Forces France to Look in the Mirror

     OCT. 21, 2017




    PARIS — When a fledgling alternative press published Gabrielle Deydier's plaintive memoir of growing up fat in France, there was little expectation that the book would attract much notice. Frenchwomen are among the thinnest in Europe, high fashion is big business, and obesity isn't often discussed.

    "To be fat in France is to be a loser," Ms. Deydier said.

    So no one, least of all Ms. Deydier, expected "On Ne Naît Pas Grosse" ("One Is Not Born Fat") to become a media sensation.

    Using her life as a case in point, bolstered by scientific studies, Ms. Deydier exposes in 150 pages the many ways the obese in France face censure, as well as frequent insensitivity from the medical profession. Soon, the 330-pound author was being interviewed by a broad range of news outlets.

    The coverage provoked a public reaction, and a variety of comments, including empathy and offers of support for those who are overweight, but also statements denigrating them. Some people complained Ms. Deydier was trying to normalize obesity.

    "To be close to someone obese in a train or a plane haunts me," Mathieu B. wrote in a comment on Le Monde's website. "It's like being close to someone who smells bad. One has a very bad journey, that's a fact."

    In short, Ms. Deydier had touched a nerve. Her small publisher, which ran a limited first printing, has ordered a second.

    "A book like this had not been done," said Clara Tellier Savary, Ms. Deydier's publisher at Éditions Goutte d'Or. "For an obese person to be aware of all the issues and step back is very rare."

    Unlike in the United States, where TV regularly features programs urging viewers to take a positive view of their bodies and where a plus-size clothing industry is booming, celebrating one's girth is almost unheard-of in France.

    Yet more and more French people are obese. A report published last year by Inserm, the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, found that 16 percent of the adult population was obese, up from about 12 percent eight years ago.

    That is still low compared with the United States, where 36.5 percent of the adult population was clinically obese in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (International standards define being obese as having a body mass index of 30 or higher, and overweight as a B.M.I. of 25 to 29.)

    Activists trying to increase public awareness about the problems the obese face, and demanding that the French Health Ministry disseminate more information about treatment options, are only beginning to get a hearing, said Anne-Sophie Joly, president of an umbrella association of groups representing obese people.

    "Society is very harsh with women," Ms. Joly said. "Women face the most demands: She must be beautiful, but not too much; she must be thin, but not too thin; she must be intelligent, but not too much because you mustn't put the man in the shadows."

    Ms. Deydier, a native of the southern city of Nîmes, studied literature as well as a bit of politics and philosophy in Montpellier and has worked in journalism. In her book, she describes with sometimes caustic candor the daily humiliations of "grossophobie," or fat-phobia, in France.

    France is one of few countries prohibiting job discrimination based on physical appearance, in a 2001 law, but the measure appears to be more often ignored than observed.

    Jean-François Amadieu, a sociologist at the Sorbonne in Paris who tracks public perceptions of obesity, said that obese men were three times less likely to be offered job interviews, and obese women six times less likely. (It is customary in France for job applicants to include photographs with their résumés.)

    Ms. Deydier recalled applying for a job at McDonald's as a university student, when she weighed around 200 pounds. The manager "didn't want customers to see me working there," she said, "because he didn't want them to think they would look like me if they came often."

    Later, during a trial period working with autistic children, a senior teacher told her, "You are the seventh handicapped person in the class," Ms. Deydier recalled. She was told that she made the children feel doubly like misfits because they were saddled with an obese teacher. At the end of her six-month trial period, her bosses suggested that she look elsewhere for a job.

    "I was ashamed to bring a complaint," Ms. Deydier said about filing a discrimination suit, adding that people had told her that she would never win one anyway, given her weight.

    One indicator of French views on obesity is the rising rate of extreme treatments like bariatric surgery, in which part of the stomach or intestine is removed or bypassed. The number of such operations has doubled in France in the past six years, to 50,000 annually.

    Ms. Deydier, who has tried dieting repeatedly and lost weight only to regain it, said she had considered having the operation but had been disturbed by the idea of choosing "to amputate a functioning part of my body."

    Of the possible complications, she added, the most upsetting was the risk of social isolation: It can be difficult to share a meal after such surgery, which leaves people needing five small meals a day instead of the traditional three.

    Yet for many, the desire to be svelte prevails over health risks or discomfort.

    "In France, people are much more invested in ideas about physical appearance" than in other places, said Mr. Amadieu, the sociologist. "Norms have changed from the 1960s and 1970s; they have become thinner and thinner."

    Ms. Deydier describes her reluctance to take trains or buses because of frequent derision from fellow passengers, the discomfort of being out of breath even after walking a short distance and the sense of having her eating habits watched hawkishly.

    Over a cup of coffee far from the high-fashion redoubts of the Avenue Montaigne, Ms. Deydier described walking into a bakery in her neighborhood in Paris late one morning and, having missed breakfast, ordering two croissants.

    Before she even had time to put away her change, she recalled, the woman behind her in line said to the attendant, "One will be enough for me, thank you."

    "She spoke as if I couldn't hear her," Ms. Deydier said, "but I was standing right there."

    Sociologists link such censure to a strong emphasis on appearance, to attachment to rules and to fears that order will dissolve if conventions are flouted.

    Abigail Saguy, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has studied attitudes toward appearance in the United States and France, said that obesity is seen in France as a sign of being out of control.

    "Even if you're not heavy, you can receive criticism if you are eating in a way that is perceived as out of control, such as not at meal times," she said, citing a book whose French author described with horror seeing Americans eating alone, or at any time of day.

    "France is a very rules-based society," Ms. Saguy said. "There are rules about eating in France, about mealtimes, and you need to follow the rules."



    15)  Still Waiting for FEMA in Texas and Florida After Hurricanes

     OCT. 22, 2017



    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts's house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    It is a Halloween reminder that, for many, getting help to recover from Hurricane Harvey remains a long, uncertain journey.

    "It's very frustrating," said Ms. Roberts, 44, who put together the display after waiting three weeks for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to send someone to look at her flood-damaged home in southwest Houston. "I think it's beautiful how much we've all come together, and that's wonderful, but I think there's a lot of mess-ups, too."

    Outside the White House this month, President Trump boasted about the federal relief efforts. "In Texas and in Florida, we get an A-plus," he said. FEMA officials say that they are successfully dealing with enormous challenges posed by an onslaught of closely spaced disasters, unlike anything the agency has seen in years. But on the ground, flooded residents and local officials have a far more critical view.

    According to interviews with dozens of storm victims, one of the busiest hurricane seasons in years has overwhelmed federal disaster officials. As a result, the government's response in the two biggest affected states — Texas and Florida — has been scattershot: effective in dealing with immediate needs, but unreliable and at times inadequate in handling the aftermath, as thousands of people face unusually long delays in getting basic disaster assistance.

    FEMA has taken weeks to inspect damaged homes and apartments, delaying flood victims' attempts to rebuild their lives and properties. People who call the agency's help line at 1-800-621-FEMA have waited on hold for two, three or four hours before they even speak to a FEMA representative.

    Nearly two months after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, and six weeks after Hurricane Irma hit Florida on September 10, residents are still waiting for FEMA payments, still fuming after the agency denied their applications for assistance and still trying to resolve glitches and disputes that have slowed and complicated their ability to receive federal aid.

    Brian and Monica Smith, whose home in the northern Houston suburb of Kingwood had two feet of water inside after Harvey, said they had received more help from their church, their neighbors and their relatives than from FEMA. A $500 payment from FEMA to help them with their immediate needs was delayed by three weeks. And they waited 34 days for the agency to inspect the damage to their home, pushing back their repairs.

    "You feel abandoned," Mr. Smith, 42, said. "You feel like it came and went, and everybody's focused on the storm in Florida and now in Puerto Rico.''

    Ron and Rita Perreault, a retired couple whose South Florida mobile home was damaged by the flooded Imperial River, call FEMA twice a day to check on the status of their application and inspection. Mrs. Perreault said she had spent so many hours on the phone on hold that she learned, as other callers have, to put the phone on speaker and go about her day.

    "I thought I was going to get brain cancer," Mrs. Perreault said. "They give you the runaround."

    One of the most significant problems FEMA has had in Texas and Florida is the backlog in getting damaged properties inspected. Contract inspectors paid by the agency must first inspect and verify the damage in order for residents to be approved for thousands of dollars in aid. FEMA does not have enough inspectors to reduce the backlog, and the average wait for an inspection is 45 days in Texas and about a month in Florida, agency officials said.

    The officials, including Brock Long, the FEMA administrator, acknowledged the long waits for both inspections and phone assistance. They said they were in the process of hiring hundreds of people in the next few weeks, including additional contract inspectors. They attribute the delays to "staffing challenges" after three major hurricanes in quick succession struck the Gulf Coast and the Southeast, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, as well as the devastating wildfires in California.

    "Resources are stretched, particularly when it comes to inspections," Mr. Long said. "Obviously it's frustrating."

    The wait times for the help line and inspections far exceed those during past disasters.

    People who called FEMA in the immediate aftermath of Katrina waited an average of 10 minutes before speaking with a representative, and weeks later that wait dropped to five minutes, according to a 2006 report by the inspector general's office for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA. In addition, the report stated, the agency has historically tried to complete the entire inspection-and-approval process within ten days after an application is filed. After Hurricane Rita in 2005, many home inspections were completed less than two weeks after homeowners applied.

    But given the extraordinary impact of three major storms, many experts say FEMA's relief efforts deserve high marks."I think they have done a terrific job," said Paul M. Rosen, who worked in the Obama administration as the former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security. "You just have to tune out the political noise and let them do their jobs."

    In 2005, FEMA became the face of the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina, and the agency's poor handling of the disaster in New Orleans led to the resignation of Michael D. Brown, the director at the time. FEMA has since improved its image, and former federal officials praised its response in recent weeks to a staggering string of hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters. Over all, about 8,200 people in FEMA's nearly 10,000-person work force are deployed in the field, responding to more than 20 natural disasters around the country.

    "The whole response-and-recovery industry is maxed out," said Michael Coen, the former chief of staff at FEMA in the Obama administration.

    The Trump administration has been publicly criticized for its response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. While the problems there with power, gas and water are far worse than those in the continental United States, FEMA's response to Harvey and Irma has also quietly frustrated flood victims on the mainland, from low-income neighborhoods to trailer parks to wooded suburban enclaves. Some have turned to their elected officials to complain and ask for help navigating the multiagency disaster bureaucracy, including FEMA's federal insurance arm, which manages the National Flood Insurance Program.

    In Kingwood, Tom and Lisa Slagle asked Senator Ted Cruz's office for help after a $25,000 flood-insurance payment they were counting on was delayed for more than a month. "This has been more a disaster, trying to deal with insurance, than it was when our house flooded," said Ms. Slagle, 49, a retired Houston firefighter.

    In South Florida, officials in Collier County, which includes Naples, are waiting for FEMA R.V.'s known as travel trailers, which flooded residents can use as temporary housing. Only 15 of the trailers have been approved by FEMA statewide since Wednesday. "It's a process, a long, arduous process," said William L. McDaniel Jr., a Collier County commissioner. "But it can't come quick enough."

    In East Texas, a FEMA mobile disaster center was scheduled to assist flooded residents one day last month in a courthouse parking lot in the town of Orange. "FEMA didn't show up that day," said Stephen Brint Carlton, a Republican who is the county judge and the top elected official in Orange County. "They don't show up and we have a bunch of elderly people sitting out in a parking lot, and no one's there to help them."

    Harvey sent about two feet of water into Jesse Altamirano's home in northeast Houston near Greens Bayou. On a recent afternoon, as a contractor repaired the walls, he pulled out his phone and scrolled through his call history. One call Mr. Altamirano made to FEMA, on Oct. 6 at 10:27 a.m., lasted 4 hours 54 minutes 20 seconds. For all but about 10 minutes of that time, he said, he was on hold, trying to get the agency to extend his hotel stay. But a FEMA representative eventually told him it was too early to complete his extension. He was told to call back in two days.

    Asked how much time he has spent on hold with FEMA since Harvey wrecked his home, Mr. Altamirano replied: "I've called them probably like eight, nine times. I'm thinking a good 16 hours maybe."

    In some ways, hard-hit areas in Texas and Florida have made progress since Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. In Texas alone, nearly 7.5 million cubic yards of debris has been collected and more than 120,000 people have visited FEMA's disaster recovery centers. The agency has supplied money, housing and other resources to residents as well as local governments. In Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, FEMA has provided about $2 billion in individual assistance to residents.

    Yet in other ways, the rebuilding seems to have only just started. Three shelters remain open in Texas, and Florida closed its last one on Saturday. As part of a FEMA program, 61,135 people in Texas are staying in hotels. Some residents are living in their moldy, half-repaired or even condemned homes and apartments. Other residents remain uprooted. Shirlene Hryhorchuk, a high-school teacher in the East Texas town of Deweyville, sleeps several nights each week on a cot in her home-economics classroom while her house undergoes repairs.

    In the days after Irma tore through Florida, Ernestino Leon, 48, met and shook hands with Gov. Rick Scott when the governor toured the emergency shelter where he was staying. Mr. Leon works in golf-course maintenance and came to the United States 30 years ago from Oaxaca, one of Mexico's poorest states. His house in the Gulf Coast town of Bonita Springs is a torn-out shell surrounded by piles of debris and the few chairs he and his wife Lucia could salvage.

    "He asked me if I liked this country and I say yes," Mr. Leon said of Mr. Scott. "That's why I'm here. I pay taxes. I'm a U.S. citizen. He told me not to worry and said that help would be on the way."

    Mr. Leon is still waiting for much of that help. Five weeks after asking FEMA for assistance, the Leons were in limbo. They moved out of a shelter on Saturday and into a hotel, while waiting for the agency to provide $10,000 to repair their home, a process tied up by a delayed home inspection. "This won't be enough," Mr. Leon said of the still-awaited money.

    In Houston, Tim Wainright, 47, filed with FEMA on Aug. 28 after floodwaters damaged two bedrooms, but more than 50 days later, he and his wife are still waiting for an inspection.

    "My hope is that they're busy with people that really, really need their assistance," Mr. Wainright said. "By now our walls are painted. All our drywall is back in place. If they came by, they wouldn't have anything to inspect."

    Some residents are angry after being turned down by FEMA for assistance, often for reasons that they dispute. Of the 2.9 million applications for individual assistance the agency has received after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, FEMA has denied 23 percent of them — 678,160 — with the majority of those denials in Florida, where 432,000 applications out of 1.8 million have been rejected after Irma.

    FEMA officials say the number of denials in Florida is high because the agency determined that many homes were not significantly damaged by the storm.

    Jason Brunemann's application for FEMA assistance was rejected because the agency concluded that he had adequate insurance. But his homeowners' insurance does not cover flood damage, Mr. Brunemann said, and his flood-insurance claim remains in limbo. The rebuilding of his small house on the banks of the Imperial River in Bonita Springs has stalled, and he is recovering from a pre-Irma motorcycle accident in which he broke his hand and a bone in his neck. He plans to appeal his denial.

    "A lot of people are appealing, but I don't think I'll get anything at all," said Mr. Brunemann, 35, an air-conditioning installer who has been living in his truck and his gutted house. "I'm not optimistic."



    16)  Famous Athletes Have Always Led the Way



    17)  Black Lives Matter Is Democracy in Action

     OCT. 21, 2017




    CHICAGO — Why has this generation of black activists failed to produce a Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or a Malcolm X — a charismatic, messiah-like figure who can lead a major movement?

    The answer is a choice, not a deficiency. The suggestion that the organizations that have emerged from the Black Lives Matter protests are somehow lacking because they have rejected the old style of leadership misses what makes this movement most powerful: its cultivation of skilled local organizers who take up many issues beyond police violence.

    This is radical democracy in action. The Movement for Black Lives, a coalition that includes the Black Lives Matter Global Network and other groups, coalesced in response to high-profile police shootings of black people from 2014 to 2016. It is reinvigorating the 21st-century racial-justice movement, and by extension the anti-racist left, by offering a better model for social movements.

    The idea behind that model is that when people on the ground make decisions, articulate problems and come up with answers, the results are more likely to meet real needs. And that's more sustainable in the long run: People are better prepared to carry out solutions they themselves created, instead of ones handed down by national leaders unfamiliar with realities in local communities. Such local work allows people to take ownership of the political struggles that affect their lives.

    Ella Baker, a N.A.A.C.P. field secretary, executive of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and midwife of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, once said, "Strong people don't need strong leaders." Today's black organizers have taken that message to heart.

    Ms. Baker considered the top-down, male-centered, charismatic model of leadership a political dead end. It disempowered ordinary people, especially women and low-income and working-class people, because it told them that they need a savior. If that person is assassinated or co-opted, the movement founders.

    At the same time, local leadership is not a magic solution, since local leaders can also be dominant, hierarchical and self-aggrandizing. Group-centered leadership practices, where even celebrities in the movement are responsible to the will of rank-and-file members, help to keep organizations honest.

    The lead organizers of the Movement for Black Lives have been influenced by 40 years of work by black feminist and L.G.B.T. scholars and activists. Their writings and practice emphasize collective models of leadership instead of hierarchical ones, center on society's most marginalized people and focus on how multiple systems of oppression intersect and reinforce one another.

    This year, the Movement for Black Lives, with support from a team of strategists called Blackbird, coordinated three major days of action: two to commemorate Dr. King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech and a day of national protests against symbols of white supremacy after the racist attacks in Charlottesville, Va. In each case, national coordinators kept a low profile, offering support while encouraging local groups to set their own agendas.

    Critics argue that the Movement for Black Lives needs to tighten control of its messaging, discipline its local affiliates and shore up its "brand." It's too bad they can't see the momentum happening at the grass-roots level. To paraphrase Ms. Baker, leaders who teach following as the only way of fighting weaken the movement in the long run.

    Local organizers are not passive followers. They are leading creative campaigns in major cities. For example, the Black Youth Project 100, along with other local groups, is working to overturn the New York City Housing Authority's "permanent exclusion" policy, under which people convicted of a crime can be barred from living in or visiting public housing.

    Seshat Mack, a student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a leader of the Black Youth Project 100's New York chapter, explained to me that the campaign, called Housing Over Monitoring and Eviction, has relied heavily on local leadership — in particular, black New Yorkers who live in public housing.

    In Chicago, one of the most segregated cities in the country, an "expanded sanctuary" campaign has brought together black people and Latino immigrants to demand an end to punitive practices like the city's gang database. Activists have argued that the criteria for inclusion is vague and that people often don't know they're on the list. A lead organizer in that campaign, Maxx Boykin, underscores the importance of "building trust between people and organizations," which can happen only on the local level.

    The fight to end cash bail was bolstered by Mama's Bail Out Day, a campaign that is the brainchild of the Atlanta organizer Mary Hooks, a director of Southerners on New Ground, a queer social-justice organization. The organizers raised over $1 million to bail out more than 100 low-income black women on Mother's Day this year. The Movement for Black Lives umbrella group oversaw the effort by pulling in local bail-reform groups.

    One of the most intense efforts within the Movement for Black Lives has been to develop an electoral strategy that can be applied locally. Recently, activists started a project to lay the groundwork for creating local black political power. According to Kayla Reed, a St. Louis organizer who helped develop the project, the goal is to transfer the clarity and radical vision brought to the protest lines to electoral campaigns. The organizers of the project are drawing lessons from the successful progressive mayoral campaigns of Chokwe Lumumba in Jackson, Miss., and Randall Woodfin in Birmingham, Ala., as well as the narrow defeat of Tishaura O. Jones in St. Louis.

    Despite progress on many fronts, there is still work to do. The movement does need an easier way for people to get involved and more transparent collective decision-making, as well as space for broader ideological and policy debates.

    The Movement for Black Lives is distinctive because it defers to the local wisdom of its members and affiliates, rather than trying to dictate from above. In fact, the local organizers have insisted upon it. This democratic inflection will pay off if they persevere. Brick by brick, relationship by relationship, decision by decision, the edifices of resistance are being built. The national organizations are the mortar between the bricks. That fortified space will be a necessary training ground and refuge for the political battles that lay ahead, as white supremacists inside and outside of our government seek to undermine racial and economic justice.

















































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