Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:

Love this guy!





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:














The Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

A fight Against Racist U.S. Capitalism

Having finally been properly treated for his Hepatitis-C, Mumia is now trying to show that his case was compromised by a prosecutor (Castille) who later sat in judgement over the appeals of his conviction, after being elected to a judgeship on the PA Supreme Court. Mumia has won "discovery" of documents that should show this prosecutor's role in framing Mumia. 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!

Will you help?  Get the latest update:

Mumia Is Innocent and Framed!

Free Mumia Now!

Join Us In a Public Meeting:


7 pm, Saturday, October 28

 Niebyl Proctor Marxist Library

6501 Telegraph Ave, Oakland

(near Oakland/Berkeley border on Telegraph)

Featured Speaker: Rachel Wolkenstein

Lawyer for Mumia from the beginning of his case. 

Other speakers, and solidarity with anti-fascist fighters.

Sponsor: Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal







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 Battles On

For over 31 years, Major Tillery has been a prisoner of the State.

Despite that extraordinary fact, he continues his battles, both in the prison for his health, and in the courts for his freedom.

Several weeks ago, Tillery filed a direct challenge to his criminal conviction, by arguing that a so-called "secret witness" was, in fact, a paid police informant who was given a get-out-of-jail-free card if he testified against Tillery.

Remember I mentioned, "paid?"

Well, yes--the witness was 'paid'--but not in dollars. He was paid in sex!

In the spring of 1984, Robert Mickens was facing decades in prison on rape and robbery charges. After he testified against Tillery, however, his 25-year sentence became 5 years: probation!

And before he testified he was given an hour and a ½ private visit with his girlfriend--at the Homicide Squad room at the Police Roundhouse. (Another such witness was given another sweetheart deal--lie on Major, and get off!)

To a prisoner, some things are more important than money. Like sex!

In a verified document written in April, 2016, Mickens declares that he lied at trial, after being coached by the DAs and detectives on the case.

He lied to get out of jail--and because he could get with his girl.

Other men have done more for less.

Major's 58-page Petition is a time machine back into a practice that was once common in Philadelphia.

In the 1980s and '90s, the Police Roundhouse had become a whorehouse.

Major, now facing serious health challenges from his hepatitis C infection, stubborn skin rashes, and dangerous intestinal disorders, is still battling.

And the fight ain't over.

[©'16 MAJ  6/29/16]

Major Tillery Needs Your Help and Support

Major Tillery is an innocent man. There was no evidence against Major Tillery for the 1976 poolroom shootings that left one man dead and another wounded. The surviving victim gave a statement to homicide detectives naming others—not Tillery or his co-defendant—as the shooters. Major wasn't charged until 1980, he was tried in 1985.

The only evidence at trial came from these jailhouse informants who were given sexual favors and plea deals for dozens of pending felonies for lying against Major Tillery. Both witnesses now declare their testimony was manufactured by the police and prosecution. Neither witness had personal knowledge of the shooting.

This is a case of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption that goes to the deepest levels of rot in the Philadelphia criminal injustice system. Major Tillery deserves not just a new trial, but dismissal of the charges against him and his freedom from prison.

It cost a lot of money for Major Tillery to be able to file his new pro se PCRA petition and continue investigation to get more evidence of the state misconduct. He needs help to get lawyers to make sure this case is not ignored. Please contribute, now.


    Financial Support: Tillery's investigation is ongoing, to get this case filed has been costly and he needs funds for a legal team to fight this to his freedom!

    Go to JPay.com;

    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney

    Seth Williams:

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

    Call: 215-686-8711 or

    Write to:

    Major Tillery AM9786

    SCI Frackville

    1111 Altamont Blvd.

    Frackville, PA 17931

      For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot


      Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com



      Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

      Sign the Petition:


      Urge Gov. Jerry Brown to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence. Cooper has always maintained his innocence of the 1983 quadruple murder of which he was convicted. In 2009, five federal judges signed a dissenting opinion warning that the State of California "may be about to execute an innocent man." Having exhausted his appeals in the US courts, Kevin Cooper's lawyers have turned to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to seek remedy for what they maintain is his wrongful conviction, and the inadequate trial representation, prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination which have marked the case. Amnesty International opposes all executions, unconditionally.

      "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." - Judge William A. Fletcher, 2009 dissenting opinion on Kevin Cooper's case

      Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for more than thirty years.

      In 1985, Cooper was convicted of the murder of a family and their house guest in Chino Hills. Sentenced to death, Cooper's trial took place in an atmosphere of racial hatred — for example, an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the N*****!" was hung outside the venue of his preliminary hearing.

      Take action to see that Kevin Cooper's death sentence is commuted immediately.

      Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

      Following his trial, five federal judges said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing."

      Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.

      Tell California authorities: The death penalty carries the risk of irrevocable error. Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted.

      In 2009, Cooper came just eight hours shy of being executed for a crime that he may not have committed. Stand with me today in reminding the state of California that the death penalty is irreversible — Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted immediately.

      In solidarity,

      James Clark
      Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
      Amnesty International USA

        Kevin Cooper: An Innocent Victim of Racist Frame-Up - from the Fact Sheet at: www.freekevincooper.org

        Kevin Cooper is an African-American man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 for the gruesome murders of a white family in Chino Hills, California: Doug and Peggy Ryen and their daughter Jessica and their house- guest Christopher Hughes. The Ryens' 8 year old son Josh, also attacked, was left for dead but survived.

        Convicted in an atmosphere of racial hatred in San Bernardino County CA, Kevin Cooper remains under a threat of imminent execution in San Quentin.  He has never received a fair hearing on his claim of innocence.  In a dissenting opinion in 2009, five federal judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals signed a 82 page dissenting opinion that begins: "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." 565 F.3d 581.

        There is significant evidence that exonerates Mr. Cooper and points toward other suspects:

          The coroner who investigated the Ryen murders concluded that the murders took four minutes at most and that the murder weapons were a hatchet, a long knife, an ice pick and perhaps a second knife. How could a single person, in four or fewer minutes, wield three or four weapons, and inflict over 140 wounds on five people, two of whom were adults (including a 200 pound ex-marine) who had loaded weapons near their bedsides?

          The sole surviving victim of the murders, Josh Ryen, told police and hospital staff within hours of the murders that the culprits were "three white men." Josh Ryen repeated this statement in the days following the crimes. When he twice saw Mr. Cooper's picture on TV as the suspected attacker, Josh Ryen said "that's not the man who did it."

          Josh Ryen's description of the killers was corroborated by two witnesses who were driving near the Ryens' home the night of the murders. They reported seeing three white men in a station wagon matching the description of the Ryens' car speeding away from the direction of the Ryens' home.

          These descriptions were corroborated by testimony of several employees and patrons of a bar close to the Ryens' home, who saw three white men enter the bar around midnight the night of the murders, two of whom were covered in blood, and one of whom was wearing coveralls.

          The identity of the real killers was further corroborated by a woman who, shortly after the murders were discovered, alerted the sheriff's department that her boyfriend, a convicted murderer, left blood-spattered coveralls at her home the night of the murders. She also reported that her boyfriend had been wearing a tan t-shirt matching a tan t-shirt with Doug Ryen's blood on it recovered near the bar. She also reported that her boyfriend owned a hatchet matching the one recovered near the scene of the crime, which she noted was missing in the days following the murders; it never reappeared; further, her sister saw that boyfriend and two other white men in a vehicle that could have been the Ryens' car on the night of the murders.

        Lacking a motive to ascribe to Mr. Cooper for the crimes, the prosecution claimed that Mr. Cooper, who had earlier walked away from custody at a minimum security prison, stole the Ryens' car to escape to Mexico. But the Ryens had left the keys in both their cars (which were parked in the driveway), so there was no need to kill them to steal their car. The prosecution also claimed that Mr. Cooper needed money, but money and credit cards were found untouched and in plain sight at the murder scene.

        The jury in 1985 deliberated for seven days before finding Mr. Cooper guilty. One juror later said that if there had been one less piece of evidence, the jury would not have voted to convict.

        The evidence the prosecution presented at trial tying Mr. Cooper to the crime scene has all been discredited…         (Continue reading this document at: http://www.savekevincooper.org/_new_freekevincooperdotorg/TEST/Scripts/DataLibraries/upload/KC_FactSheet_2014.pdf)

             This message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. July 2015














        1)   Anti-Abortion Congressman Asked Woman to Have One, Report Says

         OCT. 3, 2017




        Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, a strong and frequent critic of abortion, asked a woman with whom he was having an affair to undergo an abortion, according to a report published on Tuesday by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

        Mr. Murphy, 65, who is married with an adult daughter, confirmed last month that he "became involved in an affair with a personal friend," according to a statement previously provided to The Post-Gazette.

        The woman involved in the extramarital affair, Shannon Edwards, told the newspaper last month that her relationship with Mr. Murphy had ended. She said she had gotten to know Mr. Murphy, a Republican, when she volunteered to work on a mental health bill, which was signed into law late last year.

        In a text message sent to Mr. Murphy on Jan. 25, Ms. Edwards assailed the congressman for hypocrisy. The exchange was included among several documents obtained by The Post-Gazette.

        "And you have zero issue posting your anti-abortion stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options," Ms. Edwards wrote, according to The Post-Gazette. The newspaper said that the text was sent amid what proved to be an "unfounded pregnancy scare."

        According to the newspaper's report, a text message sent in response from Mr. Murphy's phone said: "I get what you say about my March for life messages. I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more. I will."

        A spokeswoman for Mr. Murphy said in an email that his office "has no comment or response to" the Post-Gazette article. Mr. Murphy did not respond to phone messages left by The New York Times. Ms. Edwards also did not return a message left on her voice mail.

        On Tuesday, Mr. Murphy voted for legislation that would make it a crime to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of fetal development, according to The Associated Press. The House of Representatives approved the Republican legislation, according to The A.P.; Mr. Murphy is among its co-sponsorsNews roundups on his website also list Mr. Murphy as "a member of the Congressional Pro Life Caucus."

        Statements and posts on his verified Facebook page mention his anti-abortion stance.

        Facebook post published on Jan. 24 — the day before he received the text message from Ms. Edwards — cast Mr. Murphy as a proud sponsor of a bill that would permanently prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for abortions and prohibit federal medical facilities and health professionals from providing abortion services.

        In a statement released the same day, he said he hoped that "moving forward, we will once again be a nation committed to honoring life from the moment of conception onward and ensuring American taxpayer dollars are never spent to end a life before it even begins."

        Three days later, Mr. Murphy's office issued another statement saying that he was "proud to join in the March for Life" and that "We must, once again, become a nation respectful of all life."



        2)  With Affordable Care Act's Future Cloudy, Costs for Many Seem Sure to Soar

        "Health insurers are aggressively increasing prices next year for individual policies sold under the federal health care law, with some raising premiums by more than 50 percent."

         OCT. 3, 2017




        Health insurers are aggressively increasing prices next year for individual policies sold under the federal health care law, with some raising premiums by more than 50 percent.

        By approving such steep increases for 2018 in recent weeks, regulators in many states appeared to be coaxing companies to hang in there, despite turmoil in the market and continuing uncertainty in Congress about the future of the law, the Affordable Care Act.

        In Georgia, the state insurance commissioner, Ralph T. Hudgens, an outspoken critic of the law, often referred to as Obamacare, said the rates he approved would be up to 57.5 percent higher next year. The state had already lost Anthem, the large insurer that offers for-profit Blue Cross plans in several states, which left many markets in Georgia.

        "Obamacare has become even more unaffordable for Georgia's middle class," Mr. Hudgens said in a statement. "I am disappointed by reports that the latest Obamacare repeal has stalled once again and urge Congress to take action to end this failed health insurance experiment."

        In Florida, the average rate increase will be about 45 percent, according to state regulators. And in New York, where officials said prices would still be below where they were before the law took effect, premiums were expected to increase by an average of about 14 percent. Many states have not made insurers' rate increases public, and experts said the rise in costs for consumers could run from 10 percent to nearly 60 percent.

        There are exceptions. Minnesota, which sought a federal waiver to address the high cost of premiums, said this week that prices for plans sold on the state exchange there would remain stable or drop significantly in 2018.

        Those who qualify for federal subsidies, a group that accounts for about 85 percent of the roughly 10 million people who buy insurance through the marketplaces created under the health law, will largely be shielded from the higher prices.

        Regulators in Florida and New York said that residents of those states who qualified for the most generous subsidies could see lower prices next year, depending on which plan they buy. In some places, the least expensive plans could become free after customers apply their subsidies. (Deficit hawks will probably complain about the higher federal outlays for subsidies.)

        People who earn too much to qualify for financial assistance will feel the brunt of any increases. Because many insurers raised prices most sharply on plans that are attractive to people who receive the most generous subsidies, those unable to get subsidies may have to shop for plans that are not affected or look beyond their state marketplaces for lower-priced options.

        The final prices and policies available for all plans may not be public until Nov. 1, leaving many consumers confused about coverage costs as a shortened period of open enrollment for health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act begins.

        The insurance companies have defended the rate increases, saying they were unavoidable under the current circumstances. After the latest Senate effort to repeal the health law collapsed, insurers still have no commitment about whether the government will continue to allocate millions of dollars in critical financing. Some lawmakers have renewed talk of a bipartisan solution to guarantee that the money keeps flowing, but there is no resolution — forcing insurers to set rates without an agreement.

        The Trump administration has sent mixed signals about whether it will enforce key elements of the law like the individual mandate, which encourages healthy people to sign up for insurance or be charged a tax penalty. If insurers cannot spread out the cost of coverage for people with high medical bills over a large enough group, they may be inclined to raise premiums even higher.

        "We're all pricing up for it," said Dr. Martin Hickey, the chief executive of New Mexico Health Connections, one of the few remaining insurance start-ups created by the federal law. New Mexico Health Connections recently expanded an existing partnership with Evolent Health, a public company, which will provide additional capital.

        In New Mexico, the average rate increase for plans sold on the state marketplace is about 30 percent. "Half of that increase is due to the uncertainty in Washington and the inability to lead," said John G. Franchini, the state insurance regulator. The four insurers selling policies in the state marketplace are offering more types of plans.

        After a slow start, many insurers have been making money in the individual market for the past year or so. Premiums have generally risen faster than underlying medical expenses, according to a recent analysis by the research firm Mark Farrah Associates. With rates set to climb much higher next year, insurers could see profits rise significantly too.

        But questions about the insurance market's future make it nearly impossible to come up with accurate projections. Regulators and actuaries said that the higher rates reflected a conservative approach as a cushion against potentially sizable losses.

        "It's very hard for a regulator to deny those rate increases when we can take a look at their bottom line and can tell they can't continue if they can't keep their head above water," said Mike Kreidler, Washington State's insurance commissioner and a supporter of the health law.

        Actuaries said that the higher rates were justified. The insurers "are really struggling," said Kurt Giesa, a partner with Oliver Wyman, a consultant that has worked with regulators to review rates. "They have been working hard to adapt to what they are faced with right now," he said.

        And although they have been raising prices aggressively, "it doesn't mean that insurers couldn't lose money," said Deep Banerjee, an industry analyst for Standard & Poor's who has been following the improved profitability of Blue Cross plans. "The trend has been improving but the market is still fragile," he said.

        The uncertainty over paying insurers for the so-called cost-sharing reductions, which limit out-of-pocket medical costs for people with low incomes, remains problematic. Most state regulators let insurers set prices to cover the cost of the required reductions, but several did not.

        The Trump administration has been paying insurers on a month-to-month basis; a legal challenge over the payments by House Republicans has left the issue in limbo.

        In the states that did not allow insurers to account for a loss of federal funding, the rates would be "inadequate" if that funding went away, said David M. Dillon, a fellow with the Society of Actuaries who has also worked with several state regulators. They "are just hopeful that something can be fixed later on," he said.

        Two insurers pulled out of the markets at the last minute because of the confusion. Medica stopped offering coverage in North Dakota next year because regulators said insurers had to assume the financing would continue; Anthem abandoned the Maine marketplace because the money had not been guaranteed.

        Mr. Kreidler of Washington approved two sets of rates but is only allowing insurers to charge the lower set. If the government stops paying for the subsidies, he said, "It's going to be a real challenge."

        If Congress or the administration decide to keep providing the subsidies, prices will be higher than necessary if insurers raised their rates to make up for a loss of the funding. "We'll see if we can lower those rates with the permission" of the federal agency responsible for overseeing the marketplace, Mr. Franchini of New Mexico said.

        Some insurers think a decision on the cost-sharing money could come too late.

        CareFirst, a Blue Cross insurer, offers plans in Virginia and Maryland. Virginia allowed CareFirst to assume a lack of financing; Maryland regulators prohibited insurers from setting higher rates based on a loss of subsidies.

        "You have this unbelievable contradiction," said Chet Burrell, CareFirst's chief executive. In Maryland, where the company is losing money on individual policies, it could sustain much deeper losses if the federal money stopped coming in.

        "I don't think you can work it out," he said. "The workout is you will have to eat it this year."

        Like other insurance executives, Mr. Burrell worries that the higher prices will eventually discourage too many healthy people from enrolling. In Maryland, he said, only one-third of those buying coverage are eligible for subsidies. Everyone else pays full price. The most popular type of plan could come with premiums of $373 a month to $686 a month for a 40-year-old.

        "Given the size of the rate increases, we think healthier people will continue to opt out of the risk pool," he said, suggesting that would lead to rates being even higher in 2019. "If that occurs, then you're in a death spiral," he said, because as rates climb, more healthy people drop out, sending prices even higher. Mr. Burrell said he was working with regulators in Maryland to potentially create a fund that would help care for patients with the very high medical bills while possibly lowering overall premiums.

        But even insurers in states that have allowed for the loss of funding are not sanguine.

        "I think it's going to be a stumbling in the dark next year because of all the uncertainties," Dr. Hickey of New Mexico Health Connections said. The changing circumstances and inaction by Congress have forced insurers to raise rates and experiment with different plans for those who are not eligible for federal assistance.

        "It's almost like the beginning, again," he said.



        3)  Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Group Opposing Nuclear Weapons

         OCT. 6, 2017




        n a year when threats from nuclear weapons seemed to draw closer, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on Friday to an advocacy group behind the first treaty to prohibit them.

        The group, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a Geneva-based coalition of disarmament activists, was honored for its efforts to advance the negotiations that led to the treaty, which was reached in July at the United Nations.

        "The organization is receiving the award 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," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement.

        The choice amounted to a blunt rejoinder to the world's nine nuclear-armed powers and their allies, which boycotted the negotiations. Some denounced the treaty as a naïve and dangerous diversion.

        It also represented a moment of vindication for the members of the winning organization, known by its acronym ICAN, and for the United Nations diplomats who were responsible for completing the treaty negotiations.

        "This prize is a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth," ICAN said in a statement.

        The United States, which with Russia has the biggest stockpile of nuclear weapons, had said that the treaty would do nothing to alleviate the possibility of nuclear conflict and might even increase it.

        The committee acknowledged the view held by nuclear-armed countries in its statement, noting that "an international legal prohibition will not in itself eliminate a single nuclear weapon, and that so far neither the states that already have nuclear weapons nor their closest allies support the nuclear weapon ban treaty."

        Despite those admonitions, at least 53 member states of the United Nations have signed the treaty since a ceremony to start the ratification process was held at the General Assembly on Sept. 20. Delegates representing two-thirds of the General Assembly's 193 members participated in the treaty negotiations.

        "We have received this news with so much joy," Elayne Whyte Gómez, the Costa Rican ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, who was the chairwoman of the negotiations, said in a telephone interview. "Every year there should be at least one happy event to give us hope, and this was it."

        She said ICAN's work "represented efforts by civil society activists who approached governments around the world and maintained the momentum of the negotiations to keep them going."

        Dr. Ira Helfand, a disarmament activist and board member of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, one of ICAN's founders, called it "a powerful voice reminding us all of the urgent need to ban and eliminate these weapons as the only reliable way to make sure they are not used."

        The prize came as a surprise to Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of ICAN, which has a three-person office in Geneva. She said at a news conference that she had thought at first that the congratulatory phone call from the Nobel committee was fake.

        The treaty will go into effect 90 days after 50 United Nations member states have formally ratified it. As of Friday, three — Guyana, the Vatican and Thailand — had done so.

        Under the agreement, all nuclear weapons use, threat of use, testing, development, production, possession, transfer and stationing in a different country are prohibited.

        For nuclear-armed nations that choose to join, the treaty outlines a process for destroying stockpiles and enforcing the countries' promise to remain free of nuclear weapons.

        "I don't think we have unrealistic expectations that tomorrow nuclear weapons will be gone," Ms. Fihn said. "But I think this is really a moment to be really inspired that it is possible to do something."

        The prize came against the backdrop of the most serious worries about a possible nuclear conflict since the Cold War, punctuated by a bellicose standoff between the United States and North Korea.

        The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has defied United Nations sanctions prohibiting his isolated country's repeated nuclear weapons and missile testing, and he has threatened to strike the American heartland with the "nuclear sword of justice."

        President Trump, who has mocked Mr. Kim by calling him "Little Rocket Man," has said he would have no choice but to "totally destroy" North Korea if the United States or its allies are attacked.

        Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told reporters that the award was not intended to send a message directly to Mr. Trump. "We're not kicking anyone in the legs with this prize," she said. The committee instead intended to give "encouragement to all players in the field" to disarm.

        Ms. Fihn was more direct in her appraisal of the Kim-Trump standoff and the anxieties it has raised. "Nuclear weapons do not bring stability and security" she told reporters. "We can see that right now."

        There was no immediate reaction to the prize from the Trump administration or from North Korea. But in Moscow, Dmitri S. Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, told reporters that "there is no alternative" to nuclear parity to maintain world stability.

        Proponents of the treaty have said that they never expected any nuclear-armed country would sign it right away. But they argued that the treaty's widespread acceptance elsewhere would increase the public pressure and stigma of possessing nuclear weapons.

        The coercive power of such public shaming, treaty supporters said, eventually would lead the holdouts to change their positions and disarm. The same strategy was used by proponents of the treaties that banned chemical and biological weapons, land mines and cluster bombs.

        Nuclear weapons have defied attempts to contain their proliferation since the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, which led to Japan's surrender and the end of World War II.

        The unspeakable destruction wrought by those weapons laid the foundation for the nuclear arms race and the doctrine of deterrence, which holds that mutually assured destruction of nuclear-armed antagonists is the only way to prevent an attack.

        Proponents of that doctrine contend it has basically kept the peace for more than 70 years.

        Besides North Korea, Russia and the United States, the other nuclear-armed states are Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan and Israel.

        The United States had leaned hard on its allies, especially non-nuclear powers, to boycott the treaty talks that began at the United Nations earlier this year. At the time, Nikki R. Haley, the Trump administration's envoy to the United Nations, questioned whether the countries supporting the talks were acting in the interests of their own citizens.

        Russia and China are equally opposed to the efforts to ban nuclear weapons through an international treaty.

        But on this issue, the naysayers are in the clear minority.

        The United States was also isolated in 1997, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a civil society group that pushed to abolish land mines. That prize went to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and its coordinator, Jody Williams.

        The international agreement that her group pushed for, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, known simply as the Mine Ban Treaty, has been signed by more than three-fourths of all countries around the world. The United States, Russia and China remain outliers.

        The mine ban group was among the first to congratulate ICAN on its victory.

        It is unusual for organizations to receive the prize. Others have included the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

        Since 1901, 104 individuals and more than 20 organizations have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

        Who else has won a Nobel this year?

        ■ Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday for discoveries about the molecular mechanisms controlling the body's circadian rhythm.

        ■ Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish received the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for the discovery of ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves.

        ■ Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for developing a new way to construct precise three-dimensional images of biological molecules.

        ■ The English novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, known for his spare, elliptical prose style and his inventive subversion of literary genres, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.

        Who won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize?

        ■ President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia was honored for pursuing a deal to end 52 years of conflict with the leftist rebel group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the longest-running war in the Americas, just five days after Colombians rejected the agreement in a shocking referendum result.

        When will the other Nobels be announced?

        One more will be awarded, next week:

        ■ The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science will be announced on Monday in Sweden. Read about last year's winners, Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom.



        4)  Canada to Pay Millions in Indigenous Lawsuit Over Forced Adoptions

         OCT. 6, 2017




        Marcia Brown Martel, the lead plaintiff in the "Sixties Scoop" class action lawsuit, was repeatedly taken away from her reserve, perhaps 10 times, until 1972, when she was adopted by a non-indigeneous family in Southern Ontario. CreditCarlos Osorio/Toronto Star, via Getty Images

        OTTAWA — The Canadian government said on Friday that it would pay 750 million Canadian dollars to settle lawsuits brought by indigenous people who for decades were taken from their communities and sent to nonnative foster families or adopted by white families.

        Many of the children ended up in the United States, and some even as far away as Europe and New Zealand, under the practice that began in the mid-1960s and continued for about 20 years. It is unclear how many children were affected; estimates range up to 30,000.

        While the settlement does not fully resolve all claims related to the government's adoption program, it is a step in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's ambitious, if not fulfilled, program to right past injustices against indigenous people in Canada.

        "I don't know what people were thinking," said Carolyn Bennett, the minister of crown-indigenous relations, who announced the settlement in Ottawa on Friday morning.

        "I don't know why anybody," she continued, "why settlers or government thought they could do a better job than the village, than the chiefs' responsibility to make sure everybody in the community was well."

        Chief Marcia Brown Martel of the Beaverhouse First Nation near Kirkland Lake, Ontario, the lead plaintiff in a class action that was one of the cases settled on Friday, said she hoped the settlement would lead to further reforms of child welfare systems.

        "I have great hope that because we've reached this plateau, this will never, ever happen in Canada again," Chief Brown Martel said at the announcement.

        In 1967 or 1968, when she was just 4 or 5 years old, Ms. Brown Martel and her sister were placed in foster care by child welfare workers. She was repeatedly taken away from her reserve, perhaps 10 times, until 1972, when she was adopted by a non-indigeneous family in Southern Ontario.

        Commonly known as the Sixties Scoop — because the children were "scooped" from their communities — the adoption program has generally received less attention than the residential school system.

        Under the school program, which began in the 19th century, indigenous children were placed in schools far from their homes with the intention of wiping out indigenous cultures and languages.

        In 2008, the Conservative government in power apologized for the residential program as part of a settlement of a class action that also included paying 1.6 billion Canadian dollars to survivors of the system. The settlement created a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which produced a long list of recommendations, most of which Mr. Trudeau has promised to implement.

        The adoption program first came under severe criticism in a Manitoba government report in 1985. Two years ago, Manitoba became the first province to apologize for its role in the program.

        A class action in Ontario saying that the government failed to fulfill its obligations to indigenous people in the program dragged on for eight years before being decided in the plaintiffs' favor in February.

        If approved by the court, the settlement announced on Friday will resolve that case and some others. The government is still negotiating with plaintiffs in other cases, which unlike the Ontario case also involve provinces and include accusations that the plaintiffs were abused by foster or adoptive families.

        The government is also still working out the amounts for individual settlements and the wording of an official apology. The settlement announced Friday will include 50 million Canadian dollars for a foundation to educate adoptees about their native languages and cultures.

        In an earlier ruling in the case, Justice Edward P. Belobaba of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice called the adoption program "well intentioned but profoundly uninformed" and found that it had a profound effect on the children throughout their lives.

        "There is also no dispute about the fact that great harm was done," he wrote in his February decision. "The 'scooped' children lost contact with their families. They lost their aboriginal language, culture and identity. Neither the children nor their foster or adoptive parents were given information about the children's aboriginal heritage or about the various educational and other benefits that they were entitled to receive. The removed children vanished 'with scarcely a trace.' "

        The program was, in some ways, a successor to the residential school system, which was winding down during the 1960s.

        While the federal government was responsible for the welfare of indigenous children — something that is a provincial obligation when it comes to all other children — it had no cohesive plan for delivering such services. So in 1965, it began giving provinces money to handle the job through their children's aid societies and other organizations.

        Government officials, at least during the planning stages, made efforts to ensure that the new system did not erode indigenous culture and identities — unlike the practices in the earlier residential school program.

        In the adoption program, the provinces were told they had to consult indigenous leaders about how the services should be administered and delivered. In Ontario, Justice Belobaba ruled, that never happened.

        The result was a culture clash.

        Evidence presented during a 2010 hearing in the Ontario case showed that "in aboriginal communities there is no concept of adoption or wardship because all children are regarded as a communal responsibility."

        At the same time, social workers without any training in indigenous life or culture arrived in aboriginal communities and removed children from situations in which, the court found, they were not neglected or in danger. The arrangements were simply different from how life was structured in white Canada.

        The nonnative families the children ended up with ranged widely from abusive to loving and caring. But rarely did they educate the children about their backgrounds. Some children were told by adoptive families that their birth parents were Spanish or Italian.

        The government kept a special registry of the children who were adopted, the court was told, but never contacted the children, leaving it up to their adoptive parents to tell them about payments and rights they were entitled to. It appears that few did.

        While it was not the program's intention, Justice Belobaba wrote that it may have been a more potent method of assimilation than the residential school system.

        "Residential schools incarcerated children for 10 months of the year, but at least the children stayed in an aboriginal peer group; they always knew their First Nation of origin and who their parents were, and they knew that eventually they would be going home," he wrote, adding that not only were adopted children completely isolated from their culture, "Even their birth names were erased, often forever."

        The program ended in Ontario in 1984 when the province changed its child welfare laws to recognize indigenous cultures and to require that if aboriginal children had to be taken from their parents, they should remain in their communities whenever possible.



        5)  Mr. Trump's Attack on Birth Control

        OCT. 6, 2017




        Under the guise of protecting religious freedom and moral sensibilities, the Trump administration is making it harder for women to get access to birth control. On Friday, it rolled back an Obama-era rule requiring most employers to provide their employees with birth control coverage without co-payments. The mandate, established under the Affordable Care Act, has helped millions of women avoid unwanted pregnancy by eliminating out-of-pockets costs for contraception.

        Under new rules, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor will make it easier for employers to deny contraception coverage if they have a "religious or moral objection" to doing so. Further, the departments have made it harder for women who are denied birth control coverage to get no-cost contraception directly from insurance companies, under a process established by the previous administration.

        If that were not bad enough, officials made the changes effective immediately. The administration claimed, absurdly, that the rule had to be issued quickly because the normal process of seeking public comment before acting would be "impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest." It used other specious arguments to justify its decision — asserting, for instance, that coverage of contraception could lead to more "risky sexual behavior" among some teenagers and young women.

        These regulatory rollbacks will almost surely reverse years of progress. The percentage of reproductive-age women who faced out-of-pocket costs for oral contraceptives, for example, fell to less than 4 percent by 2014 from more than 20 percent just two years earlier, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. One study estimates that women are saving about $1.4 billion on the pill. The mandate to cover birth control is also very popular; 68 percent of people say they support it.

        The Obama administration, knowing that right-wing groups would seize on any pretext to limit access to birth control and other reproductive health services, carefully exempted churches, mosques and other houses of worship from the mandate. Later, under pressure from religious nonprofit organizations, officials also created a process that allowed those groups to opt out of paying for birth control coverage. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that closely held for-profit companies could also deny contraceptive coverage to employees on religious grounds, in a case brought by Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts retailer.

        The new Trump rules go much further than the Hobby Lobby ruling by effectively allowing any business, university or other organization to opt out, without having to notify the government that it is doing so. That puts hundreds of thousands of women at risk of losing benefits. Under the system created by the Obama administration, when an employer chose not to pay for birth control, employees were provided coverage directly by insurance companies at no cost to the beneficiary. That system will now become optional for employers.

        The Trump administration says, with no evidence whatsoever, that its new rules will have no effect on "over 99.9 percent of the 165 million women in the United States." It further argues that low-income women will still be able to get subsidized or free contraception through community health programs and government health programs. Left unsaid is that the administration has made no secret of its desire to substantially cut government spending on programs like these. Several public interest groups, like the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Women's Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, say they plan to challenge the Trump rules in court.

        President Trump's assault on the birth control mandate is like his broader attack on the Affordable Care Act, filled with spite, based on falsehoods and fueled by vindictiveness toward his predecessor. And both will hurt millions of people.



        6)  What's a Science Reporter to Do When Sound Evidence Isn't Sound?

        OCT. 6, 2017



        On Tuesday, Michael Mason, my editor on the science desk, shot me an email. Would I consider writing an article about "this sonic 'attack' business"?

        I knew exactly what he was talking about. I had been vaguely puzzled about this business for months.

        Earlier this year, my colleagues at The New York Times started to report on a medical mystery that has turned into an international standoff. American diplomats in Cuba have fallen ill with a variety of perplexing symptoms, including — reportedly — some that might denote mild brain injury. The United States government has claimed foul play and accuses Cuba of, at the very least, not protecting the diplomats.

        No one was publicly saying what caused the symptoms. But again and again, I would see suggestions that the diplomats were being attacked with a sonic weapon. A sound rifle, perhaps.

        When the United States escalated the dispute by expelling 15 Cuban diplomats on Tuesday, Michael decided he wanted to learn more about this strange idea. I decided to try to find something out — not as a political reporter but as a science writer. My article was published on Thursday.

        I have been contributing articles about science to The Times since 2004. For the past four years I've written a weekly column called Matter. I usually base my ideas on scientific research that has matured far enough that it is beginning to get published in peer-reviewed journals. The biggest challenge in writing these is that there's so much data to learn about, to mull and to transform into a narrative that will be compelling to nonexperts.

        I knew that an article on sonic weapons would be very different from the ones I usually write. Consulting with Gardiner Harris, who covers international diplomacy for The Times and has written several articles about this case, I learned there was not even an official medical report.

        I decided to try to draw some boundary lines for all the speculation swirling around the story. Is the idea of a sonic attack plausible, based on what scientists know about sound and the human body?

        I wound up perusing a massive 2009 book called " 'Non-Lethal' Weapons," with a chapter summarizing research on using sound to incapacitate people at a distance.

        But there's less than meets the eye. There's a lot of wild rumor about secret weapons that can make brains explode or make people think there's a voice inside their head. And while medical researchers have studied the effects of sound for decades, they've done so sporadically, leaving us with a very patchy understanding.

        So I hit the phone. I didn't want to talk with just anyone — I looked for people with lots of experience in research that had direct bearing on this question. I started with Timothy Leighton, whose job title at Southampton University is, literally, professor of ultrasonics and underwater acoustics. Better yet, Dr. Leighton has published the only thorough recent scientific review of the effects of environmental ultrasound that I'm aware of.

        When I interviewed Dr. Leighton and others, I made clear I didn't expect them to solve this mystery; I just wanted them to reconcile the question with what we know through science. Everyone I spoke with had been following the news, too, so in each interview we hit the ground running.

        Spoiler alert: The consensus was that it was extremely unlikely the diplomats were the victims of a sonic weapon. It would be necessary to rule out less exotic possibilities before taking that one seriously. The notion has ricocheted like mad around the press, making it possible for readers to assume that it has been generally accepted by experts. But it most certainly has not. I'll be curious to see if articles like mine can put the brakes on the speculation.

        If the United States government ever does release the results of a detailed investigation, I would love to report on the case again. But, as the retired acoustics professor Steven L. Garrett pointed out, the chance to easily prove that a sonic weapon was involved — using a cellphone microphone — is long past. I may never get to write that follow-up.



        7)  A 'Sonic Attack' on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It

        By Carl Zimmer, October 5, 2017


        A scientific enigma lies at the heart of a strange confrontation between the United States and Cuba.

        According to the State Department, nearly two dozen diplomats at the American Embassy in Havana have been stricken with a variety of mysterious medical symptoms, including hearing loss and cognitive difficulties.

        After concluding that staffers were the victims of a stealth attack, the department withdrew nonessential personnel from Havana and issued an advisory urging Americans not to visit. On Tuesday, the Trump administration expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from the United States.

        The State Department has not provided further details about the medical condition of the affected staffers. But government officials have suggested anonymously that the diplomats may have been assaulted with some sort of sonic weapon.

        Experts in acoustics, however, say that's a theory more appropriate to a James Bond movie.

        Sound can cause discomfort and even serious harm, and researchers have explored the idea of sonic weaponry for years. But scientists doubt a hidden ultrasound weapon can explain what happened in Cuba.

        "I'd say it's fairly implausible," said Jurgen Altmann, a physicist at the Technische Universitat Dortmund in Germany and an expert on acoustics.

        For decades, military researchers tried to transform sound into a nonlethal weapon that could stop enemy soldiers in their tracks.

        "Why go in there with batons and guns when you can go in with something simple, like a sound generator?" said Dr. Geoffrey S. F. Ling, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University and the former director of the Biological Technologies Office of the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

        The Pentagon funded development of loudspeakers to deliver long-range blasts of sound. The Navy uses them to ward off pirates, while the Army deploys them at checkpoints. In recent years, police have used so-called long range acoustic devices to break up crowds like those at theprotests in Ferguson, Mo.

        But these weapons work because they are insufferably loud, and if one were used against diplomats in Cuba, there would be no mystery about it. So speculation has swirled around another possibility: a device producing a sound outside the range of human hearing.

        One possibility is infrasound — low-frequency sound that cannot be heard by humans. A report by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in 2002 noted that the military had tried to weaponize infrasound but had not succeeded because it was hard to focus the wavelengths.

        The primary effect of infrasound on humans "appears to be annoyance," the report concluded.

        Ultrasound is the more likely possibility. At frequencies higher than 20,000 hertz, beyond human hearing, ultrasound can damage tissue if produced with enough power.

        Doctors use focused blasts of ultrasound to smash kidney stones. Decades ago, researchers created intensely powerful ultrasound beams in laboratories that can kill a mouse at close range.

        Less powerful ultrasound beams don't cause injuries and have a variety of medical uses, including commonplace medical scans. But there's anecdotal evidence at certain intensities, they can make people very uncomfortable.

        Steven L. Garrett, who taught acoustics at Penn State University before retiring last year, used to demonstrate ultrasound beams to his students. Often he would get nauseous and develop a headache; eventually he took to wearing protective gear.

        "We didn't use them any more unless we not only had earplugs in our ears, but earmuffs over the earplugs," he said.

        Unfortunately, anecdotes like this make up most of what scientists know about the health effects of ultrasound. "The data is very slim," said Timothy Leighton, a professor of ultrasonics and underwater acoustics at Southampton University.

        It's difficult to get people who report symptoms to volunteer for the studies, he said. And while the military, too, has investigated weapons based on sound beyond the audible spectrum, they dropped major research projects in the 1990s.

        Even if another player has succeeded in developing an ultrasonic weapon, researchers said, the laws of physics make it unlikely that the device could harm diplomats from afar.

        "Ultrasound cannot travel a long distance," said Jun Qin, an acoustic engineer at Southern Illinois University. The further the sound goes, the weaker it gets. And, noted Dr. Garrett, humidity in a place like Havana would weaken it still more.

        Moreover, a beam of ultrasound will mostly bounce off the exterior of a building. What little sound got through would be of a lower, less harmful frequency.

        One way to overcome these hurdles would be to use a bigger weapon. But a massive vehicle topped with a giant sound cannon in front of diplomatic houses would probably not go unnoticed.

        "If you're talking about a ray-gun rifle knocking out someone with ultrasound they can't hear at a hundred meters — that's not going to happen," said Dr. Leighton.

        An ultrasound-emitting device planted inside a building, on the other hand, might be close and powerful enough to cause harm to occupants. But even an interior wall would block its waves.

        A smaller emitter placed even more closely, perhaps in someone's pillow, might do the trick, said Dr. Qin. But it's hard to believe such a device could escape attention. In theory, a building could be packed with small emitters; however, experts called it unlikely.

        And while ultrasound can cause many of the symptoms reported, there's no evidence that it can cause mild brain injury.

        "I know of no acoustic effect that can cause concussion symptoms," Dr. Altmann said. "Sound going through the air cannot shake your head."

        For all of these reasons, experts said, ultrasound weapons should not top the list of possible explanations for the hearing loss and headaches and other symptoms said to have been observed in diplomats.

        "I believe those people got something that hurt them," said Dr. Qin. "But it could be something in the environment." The possibilities include toxins, or bacterial or viral infections, that can damage hearing.

        Dr. Leighton said contagious anxiety or another psychogenic contributor couldn't be ruled out. "If you make people anxious that they're under attack from an ultrasonic weapon, those are the symptoms you'll get," he said.

        Sorting through all those possibilities will be difficult now.

        If a mysterious high-tech ultrasound weapon were used, it ought to have been easy to get the evidence while the attack was underway, Dr. Garrett said. Cellphone microphones are often sensitive to ultrasonic sound, he noted, and commonly available iPhone apps could have revealed it.

        Investigators now are left to examine diplomats for telltale physical damage, like damaged eardrums.

        "I think they missed their chance" to find the cause, he said. "It should be a piece of cake."



        8)  As Overdose Deaths Pile Up, a Medical Examiner Quits the Morgue

        OCT. 7, 2017




        CONCORD, N.H. — In the state morgue here, in the industrial maze of a hospital basement, Dr. Thomas A. Andrew was slicing through the lung of a 36-year-old woman when white foam seeped out onto the autopsy table.

        Foam in the lungs is a sign of acute intoxication caused by an opioid. So is a swollen brain, which she also had. But Dr. Andrew, the chief medical examiner of New Hampshire, would not be certain of the cause of death until he could rule out other causes, like a brain aneurysm or foul play, and until after the woman's blood tests had come back.

        With the nation snared in what the government says is the worst drug epidemic in its history, routine autopsies like this one, which take more than two hours, are overtaxing medical examiners everywhere.

        "It's almost as if the Visigoths are at the gates, and the gates are starting to crumble," Dr. Andrew said. "I'm not an alarmist by nature, but this is not overhyped. It has completely overwhelmed us."

        As Dr. Andrew, an energetic man of 60 who, with his close-cropped gray beard, resembles the actor Richard Dreyfuss, has watched the drug toll mount, he is no longer content simply to catalog it. He wants to try, in his own small way, to stop it.

        After laboring here as the chief forensic pathologist for two decades, exploring the mysteries of the dead, he retired last month to explore the mysteries of the soul. In a sharp career turn, he is entering a seminary program to pursue a divinity degree, and ultimately plans to minister to young people to stay away from drugs.

        "After seeing thousands of sudden, unexpected or violent deaths," Dr. Andrew said, "I have found it impossible not to ponder the spiritual dimension of these events for both the deceased and especially those left behind."

        With 64,000 overdose deaths last year nationwide — a staggering 22 percent jump over the previous year — it is little wonder that overdoses, the leading cause of death among Americans under 50, are reducing life expectancy. They are also straining the staffs and resources of morgues, and causing major backlogs.

        This is especially true in New Hampshire, which has more deaths per capita from synthetic opioids like fentanyl than any other state. Last year the overdose death toll here reached nearly 500, almost 10 times the number in 2000.

        Some medical examiners, especially in hard-hit Ohio, have had to store their corpses in cold-storage trailers in their parking lots. In Manatee County, Fla., Dr. Russell Vega, the chief medical examiner, said that when he reaches "overflow" conditions, he relies on a private body transport service to store the bodies elsewhere until his office can catch up.

        In Milwaukee, Dr. Brian L. Peterson, the chief medical examiner, said that apart from the "tsunami" of bodies — his autopsy volume is up 12 percent from last year — the national drug crisis has led to staff burnout, drained budgets and threats to the accreditation of many offices because they have to perform more autopsies than industry standards allow.

        At the same time, severe staff shortages unrelated to the drug crisis are crippling the profession, said Dr. Peterson, who is president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, which oversees accreditation. Few people go into forensic pathology in the first place, he said, largely because of low salaries, and as more forensic pathologists retire, fewer are replenishing the supply.

        The result, Dr. Peterson said, is a national crisis that has already cost at least four offices their accreditation, which can undermine public confidence and lead to court challenges over a medical examiner's findings.

        For Dr. Andrew in New Hampshire, where a backlog of autopsies has put the state at risk of losing accreditation, that prospect is particularly distressing. He spent the first eight of his 20 years here professionalizing the office and earning its accreditation. Despite the caseload, the office has one of the most timely and transparent surveillance and reporting systems in the country.

        A medical examiner's office is considered deficient if an individual pathologist must perform more than 250 autopsies per year. Last year, Dr. Andrew and Dr. Jennie V. Duval, the deputy chief medical examiner, performed 250 each.

        If this year's number exceeds last year's, New Hampshire could be in trouble. Pathologists cannot refuse to do autopsies just because they might risk losing accreditation. Nor would Dr. Andrew rush through them, he said, even if all signs pointed to a drug overdose.

        Since the overdose toll began to climb about six years ago, Dr. Andrew has pleaded for more pathologists. The legislature finally authorized one in July, but until then, his office had only two, the same number as when he started, in 1997.

        Upstairs from the morgue at Concord Hospital, in his cluttered office, Dr. Andrew pointed to a stack by his microscope of more than 80 folders containing glass slides of tissue samples taken during autopsies. Each folder represented an open case.

        "Not all are drug cases," he said. "But all are swept up in the backlog."

        He pulled out a logbook going back to 1997, when his handwritten entries began charting the earliest stages of what would become the drug epidemic.

        "There's a blunt impact, a drowning, one drug overdose," he said, scanning an early page. A few years on, he found seven overdoses on a single page. A more recent page: 12 overdoses. Most were caused by fentanyl, which by now has so thoroughly replaced heroin as the biggest killer on the streets here that the state no longer talks of a heroin epidemic but a fentanyl one.

        The logbook also revealed that drug users in their 20s and 30s are increasingly dying of heart-valve infections, known as endocarditis. The ages are young for such infections; in these cases, they result from dirty needles.

        "We have seen more endocarditis in the last two years than we have in the previous 15 combined," Dr. Andrew said.

        The arrival in May in New Hampshire of carfentanil — the elephant tranquilizer that is 10,000 times as potent as morphine — has also ratcheted up pressure on his office.

        So far this year, New Hampshire has had 41 suspected carfentanil deaths, 11 of them confirmed, far more than most states.

        "It makes me feel like my hair is on fire, and I don't even have hair," Dr. Andrew said of the threat of increasingly potent drugs. "We're already so far behind the eight-ball here, if we have an influx of carfentanil in this state, heaven help us."

        Back in the morgue, Dr. Andrew said he had learned to cope in this job, and its full immersion in death, by compartmentalizing what he sees and "locking it away."

        Every day, he said, a pathologist faces the fleeting nature of mortality. The people on his examining table could have lived a lot longer "but for a few millimeters of cholesterol in the wrong blood vessel, a second of inattention by the driver of a car or the lethal potency of a drug obtained on the street."

        And after a while, he said, one is bound to ask, "What's all this about?"

        His plan is to become an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church, with two goals: to serve as a chaplain for the Boy Scouts of America, and to join the Appalachian Trail Chaplaincy of the United Methodist Church so he can minister to troubled hikers, at least on the 161 miles of the storied trail that cross New Hampshire and its White Mountains.

        Dr. Andrew said he developed an appreciation for the essence of life by seeing its fragility. Most of the nearly 5,800 people he has examined on his stainless steel autopsy table, he said, "woke the day they died oblivious to the fact that it would be their last on earth."

        Examining cadavers, he said, as he removed the three pairs of gloves (two made of latex, one of Kevlar) that protect him during autopsies from blood-borne diseases, "is profound, profound work." But, he said, it has only affirmed for him the view of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who called the human condition "nasty, brutish and short."

        For him, there is comfort in the concept of an afterlife.

        "I'm very, very hopeful for what comes after this, because this —" he said, gesturing toward the woman he had just autopsied — "is pretty awful."



        9)  White Nationalists Reappear in Charlottesville in Torch-Lit Protest

        OCT. 8, 2017




        The prominent white supremacist Richard B. Spencer was a featured speaker at a rally on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va., where demonstrators reprised their chant of "You will not replace us!" and asserted that the South would "rise again."

        The gathering, which occurred eight weeks after a "Unite the Right" rally resulted in the death of a 32-year-old woman, was considerably smaller than the one in August, instead resembling a group of protesters who descended on the park in May.

        The Charlottesville Police Department said in a statement that Saturday's rally began around 7:40 p.m., included 40 to 50 people and lasted no more than 10 minutes.

        "No disorders occurred during this rally," the police said. Mr. Spencer then boarded a bus, which was followed by police officers "to ensure that the group was leaving the city," according to the statement.

        It added, "Our department is conferring with city leadership and the Commonwealth Attorney's Office to determine what legal action may be taken in response to this event."

        On Twitter, Mayor Mike Signer of Charlottesville urged the demonstrators to "Go home!"

        "Another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards," Mr. Signer tweeted on Saturday night. "You're not welcome here!"

        His comments drew fire from supporters of the protesters on Twitter. On Sunday morning, Mr. Signer wrote that "if you want to see the alt-right in action, check out my feed," adding, "But brace yourself, it's ugly."

        video posted by Mr. Spencer showed dozens of people — mostly men in white collared shirts — marching with lit torches through downtown Charlottesville toward Emancipation Park, where a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee remained under a tarp while it awaits removal.

        The video also showed that the demonstrators chanted and listened to brief speeches before leaving the park.

        "We got in and out, there were no injuries, no major confrontations," Mr. Spencer said in another video posted on Twitter. "We came in peace tonight. It was a great success, and we're going to do it again."

        Mr. Spencer also sent one seemingly sarcastic tweet to Mr. Signer, saying, "It was great to be back" and inviting him to "catch up next time we're in town."

        The governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, said on Twitter that officials were "monitoring this situation" and would "oppose these racists and their message of hate."

        Charlottesville has become a popular place for members of the alt-right, a fringe movement that embraces white nationalism and a range of racist positions, to gather because of controversy surrounding the Lee statue. In addition to the white nationalist rallies, members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in Charlottesville in July to protest the statue's removal.

        The City Council voted narrowly in April to remove the statue of Lee. But in May, a Circuit Court judge issued a six-month injunction to halt its removal after a collection of individuals and groups — including the Virginia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans — filed a lawsuit against the city.



        10)  Anthony Bourdain Talks Tough About Food Waste

        OCT. 6, 2017




        Anthony Bourdain does not walk through the world with the political certainty of a chef like Tom Colicchio or the activism of a chef like José Andrés, who is in Puerto Rico cooking hot meals for survivors of Hurricane Maria.

        But in an onstage interview with me on Thursday night as part of The New York Times's series of Times Talks, he made it clear that he intended to become a general in the fight against food waste. And his chief tactics, he said, will be shame and public humiliation.

        "Do not underestimate the value of shame," he said.

        Mr. Bourdain's targets are inefficient home cooks, people who rely solely on restaurant food, those who don't compost and grocery stores.

        "Go to any major chain supermarket and think about that tower of perfectly stacked, impeccable oranges or tomatoes, and understand that the supermarket by design has already figured and costed-out the fact — the immutable fact — that they will throw 30 percent in the garbage just so it will look cool," he said. "This is horrifying."

        Joining him was the chef Danny Bowien, who stars with Mr. Bourdain in their new film, "Wasted: The Story of Food Waste," which had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last spring. The movie will be released at select theaters and on-demand services on Oct. 13.

        In other news of specific interest to fans of Mr. Bowien's cooking, he announced that he'll soon open a new branch of Mission Chinese Food in Bushwick, Brooklyn. He opened his first Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco seven years ago, and followed with another in Manhattan.




















































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

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