Addicted to War:

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


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

Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:

Love this guy!












Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










The Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

A Fight Against Racist U.S. Capitalism

Mumia is innocent and framed! Free Mumia! Join us!

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.

Oakland:  7 PM, 28th October 2017

Niebyl Proctor Marxist Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave.


Workers World Party, Justice for Palestinians, Leonard Peltier Support Group, Donna Wallach, 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, Freedom Socialist Party, International Bolshevik Tendency, Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality, Revolutionary Workers Group/Speak Out Now, Critical Resistance Oakland, Haiti Action.

To contact, or endorse: Gerald at 510 417-1252 





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 



Prison Radio UPDATE:

Please sign this petition:

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


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

Phone: 215-686-8000

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

Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

OPEN the files. Justice Now!



Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?

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

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

A Book Review by Robert Fantina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Journal of Books, July 2017





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


Petitioning Denver FBI & US Department of Justice

Stop Slavery in Colorado

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign this petition at: 






Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director




To give by check: 

PO Box 411074

San Francisco, CA


Stock or legacy gifts:

Noelle Hanrahan

(415) 706 - 5222



MEDIA ADVISORYMedia contact: Morgan McLeod, (202) 628-0871




Washington, D.C.— Despite recent political support for criminal justice reform in most states, the number of people serving life sentences has nearly quintupled since 1984. 

A new report by The Sentencing Project finds a record number of people serving life with parole, life without parole, and virtual life sentences of 50 years or more, equaling one of every seven people behind bars. 

Eight states  Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Utah  have at least one of every five prisoners serving a life or de facto life sentence in prison. 

The Sentencing Project will host an online press conference to discuss its report Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences, on Wednesday, May 3rd at 11:00 a.m. EDT.   

Press Conference Details

WHAT: Online press conference hosted by The Sentencing Project regarding the release of its new report examining life and long-term sentences in the United States. REGISTER HERE to participate. The call-in information and conference link will be sent via email.  


Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. EDT 


  • Ashley Nellis, The Sentencing Project's senior research analyst and author of Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences
  • Evans Ray, whose life without parole sentence was commuted in 2016 by President Obama
  • Steve Zeidman, City University of New York law professor and counsel for Judith Clark—a New York prisoner who received a 75 year to life sentence in 1983

The full report will be available to press on Wednesday morning via email.

Founded in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.




stand with reality winner

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

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

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

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

What is this really about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

standwithreality.org ~ facebook.com/standwithreality



When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression


When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression


Mothers Message to the NY/NJ Activist Community 

In order to effectively combat the existing opportunism, hidden agendas and to better provide ALL genuinely good willed social justice organizations and individuals who work inside of the New York and New Jersey metropolitan areas... with more concrete guidelines; 

The following "10 Point Platform and Justice Wish List" was adopted on Saturday, May 13, 2017    during the "Motherhood: Standing Strong 4 Justice" pre-mothers day gathering which was held     at Hostos Community College - Bronx, New York.......

"What We Want, What We Need" 

May, 2017 - NY/NJ Parents 10 Point Justice Platform and Wish List 

Point #1 - Lawyers and Legal Assistance:  Due to both the overwhelming case loads and impersonal nature of most public defenders, the Mothers believe that their families are receiving limited options, inadequate legal advise and therefore; WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in gaining access to experienced "pro-bono" and/or activist attorneys as well as the free resources provided by non-profit social justice and legal advocacy groups.


Point #2 - First Response Teams: The Mothers felt that when their loved ones were either killed or captured by the police that they were left in the hands of the enemy and without any support, information or direction on how to best move forward and therefore; WE WANT and NEED community activists to help us develop independently community controlled & trained first response teams in every borough or county that can confirm and be on the ground within 24 hours of any future incident.


Point #3 - Security and Support At Court Appearances: The Mothers all feel that because community activist support eventually becomes selective and minimal, that they are disrespected by both the courthouse authorities, mainstream media and therefore;   WE WANT and NEED community activists to collectively promote and make a strong presence felt at all court appearances and; To always provide trained security & legal observers... when the families are traveling to, inside and from the court house.


Point #4 - Emotional/Spiritual Healing and Grief and Loss Counseling: After the protest rallies, demonstrations, justice marches and television cameras are gone the Mothers all feel alone and abandoned and therefore;                                                                             WE WANT and NEED for community activists to refer/help provide the families with clergy, professional therapy & cultural outlets needed in order to gain strength to move forward. 


Point #5 -  Parents Internal Communication Network: The Mothers agreed as actual victims, that they are the very best qualified in regards to providing the needed empathy and trust for an independent hotline & contact resource for all of the parents and families who want to reach out to someone they can mutually trust that is able understand what they are going through and therefore;           WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in providing a Parents Internal Communication Network to reach that objective.


Point #6 -  Community Offices and Meeting Spaces: The Mothers agreed that there is an extreme need for safe office spaces where community members and family victims are able to go to for both confidential crisis intervention and holding organizing meetings and therefore;                                                                                                                                                                                                 WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in securing those safe spaces inside of our own neighborhoods.   


Point #7 - Political Education Classes and Workshop Training: The Mothers agreed in implementing the "each one, teach one"   strategy and therefore;                                                                                                                                                                                         WE WANT and NEEDfor community activists to help us in being trained as educators and organizers in Know Your Rights, Cop Watch, First Response, Emergency Preparedness & Community Control over all areas of public safety & the police in their respective neighborhoods.


Point #8 - Support From Politicians and Elected Officials: The Mothers believe that most political candidates and incumbent elected officials selectively & unfairly represent only those cases which they think to be politically advantageous to their own selfish personal success on election day and therefore;                                                                                                                                WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in either publicly exposing or endorsing these aforementioned political candidates and/or elected officials to their constituents solely based upon the uncompromising principles of serving the people.


Point #9 - Research and Documentation: The Mothers believe that research/case studies, surveys, petitions, historical archives, investigative news reporting and events should be documented and made readily available in order to counter the self-serving  police misinformation promoted by the system and therefore;                                                                                                                          WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us by securing college/university students, law firms, film makers, authors, journalists and professional research firms to find, document & tell the people the truth about police terror & the pipeline to prison.


Point #10 - Grassroots Community Outreach and Information: The Mothers believe that far too much attention is being geared towards TV camera sensationalism with the constant organizing of marches & rallies "downtown"  and therefore; WE WANT and NEED for community activists to provide a fair balance by helping us to build in the schools, projects, churches and inside of the subway trains and stations of our Black, brown and oppressed communities where the majority of the police terror is actually taking place. 













Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw Kindle Edition

by Kevin Rashid Johnson (Author), Tom Big Warrior (Introduction), Russell Maroon Shoatz(Introduction)



MAJOR TILLERY: Still Rumbling!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How You Can Help

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

Go to PayPal

Go to JPay.com;

code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

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

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

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

Tell Philadelphia District Attorney:

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

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

Write to:

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

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

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

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




Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

Sign the Petition:


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

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

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

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

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

Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,

James Clark

Senior Death Penalty Campaigner

Amnesty International USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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














    1)  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.



    2)  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.



    3)  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.



    4)  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."



    5)  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."



    6)  Famous Athletes Have Always Led the Way



    7)  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.



    8) Undocumented Teenager Obtains Abortion After Court Victory

     OCT. 25, 2017



    HOUSTON — A pregnant undocumented teenager in federal custody whose attempt to have an abortion set off a monthlong legal battle with the Trump administration terminated her pregnancy on Wednesday morning. She underwent the procedure a day after a court ruling forcedfederal officials to allow it.

    The teenager, who is 17 and is identified in court documents as Jane Doe, tried to illegally cross the border in Texas in early September and was apprehended. Her pregnancy was discovered during a physical exam, and since then she had been fighting in court to have an abortion.

    In a statement released by her lawyers and her court-appointed guardian, Jane Doe, who had been nearly 16 weeks pregnant, wrote of coming to the United States with dreams of one day becoming a nurse, and of not being ready to be a parent.

    "My lawyers have told me that people around the country have been calling and writing to show support for me," Jane Doe wrote in her statement. "I am touched by this show of love from people I may never know and from a country I am just beginning to know — to all of you, thank you. This is my life, my decision. I want a better future. I want justice."

    Lawyers and advocates for the girl accused federal officials of preventing her from having an abortion and of taking extraordinary steps to persuade her and other undocumented pregnant minors to have their babies.

    On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in Washington sided with the girl, sending the case back to a lower court, which immediately ordered the Trump administration to allow the girl to obtain an abortion "promptly and without delay."

    The girl remains in custody at a federally funded shelter in Brownsville, at the tip of South Texas.

    The Justice Department did not immediately comment on her abortion. But Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, who had led a group of Republican attorneys general in a brief supporting the government's position, said in a statement, "Today's loss of innocent human life is tragic."



    9)  The quiet crisis among African Americans: Pregnancy and childbirth are killing women at inexplicable rates

    By ANN M. SIMMONS, OCTOBER 26, 2017


    Three weeks after Cassaundra Lynn Perkins gave birth to premature twins, she returned to the hospital, feeling unwell. She phoned her mother from her hospital bed at 3:30 in the morning.

    "I'm just not feeling good," she said.

    Surely it was just another bout of the mysterious illness her daughter had been suffering from for most of her pregnancy, Cheryl Givens-Perkins thought as she rushed over to San Antonio's North Central Baptist Hospital.

    When Givens-Perkins walked into the room, her 21-year-old daughter looked exhausted. She begged her mother to comb her hair.

    "I need to get ready," she said. "Please get my hair in order."

    "She may have known she was dying," Givens-Perkins said.

    Every year, around 700 women in the United States die as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications. As many as 60,000 expectant mothers suffer problems that come close to costing them their lives.

    America is one of the most developed nations in the world. Average life expectancy has been generally increasing over at least the last five decades, and deaths from illnesses that were once widely fatal, including polio, small pox, tuberculosis and AIDS, are sharply falling.

    Yet when it comes to the natural process of childbearing, women in the U.S. die in much higher numbers than those in most developed nations, where maternal deaths are generally declining.

    A woman in the U.S., where the maternal death ratio more than doubled between 1987 and 2013, is more likely to die as a result of pregnancy-related causes than in 31 industrialized countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, aside from Mexico.

    There are various theories why — persistent poverty, large numbers of women without adequate health insurance, risk factors related to stress and discrimination. All come together here in Texas, with a twist that has become one of America's most confounding public health problems: African American women are dying of pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes here at stunningly high rates.

    The maternal death rate in Texas after 2010 reached "levels not seen in other U.S. states," according to a report compiled for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, based on figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

    Black women in Texas are dying at the highest rates of all. A 2016 joint report by Texas' Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force and Department of State Health Services found that black mothers accounted for 11.4% of Texas births in 2011 and 2012, but 28.8% of pregnancy-related deaths.

    "This is a crisis," said Marsha Jones, executive director of the Afiya Center, a Dallas-based nonprofit that has taken on the issue. In May, the center published its first report: "We Can't Watch Black Women Die."

    Perkins, who already had a 2-year-old, worked at Great Clips salon and hoped to one day open her own salon. Her pregnancy with twins in 2014 was challenging.

    "She was sick to where she could not keep anything down," Givens-Perkins said.

    Doctors said it was an infection. Then six months into her pregnancy, Perkins' liver started to fail, and doctors decided to induce labor.

    The babies arrived on Aug. 13, 2014, each weighing about 2 pounds. They were rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit.

    Perkins was discharged from the hospital after three or four daysBut something seemed wrong, her mother recalled: "She was never 100%."

    Doctors and researchers are struggling to make sense of the rise in maternal mortality in Texas.

    "There isn't a single thing that explains it," said Lisa Hollier, an obstetrician-gynecologist who heads the state-appointed Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force. "There are so many different factors."

    The task force compared the health of a group of women who died during pregnancy, childbirth or in the immediate aftermath to those who survived in 2011 and 2012.

    Cardiac events, drug overdoses and disorders associated with hypertension were the leading causes of those maternal deaths, the task force found.

    Nationally, problems such as obesity, diabetes, caesarean births and delayed prenatal care are among the risk factors commonly seen, Hollier said. Such factors are particularly prevalent among black women.

    "So we have a population of women that is less healthy when they are entering pregnancy," Hollier said.

    Black women also had the highest rate of being hospitalized for hemorrhaging and blood transfusions, which are commonly seen in maternal deaths in Texas.

    Texas has the largest number of uninsured people in the U.S., and there have been substantial cuts to women's health programs that offer family planning and other routine services to low-income women, including screening for diabetes, hypertension and cervical cancer, which if left untreated could play a role in maternal deaths. Many of the dozens of clinics shuttered in recent years due to slashed state funding also offered prenatal care.

    "In an ideal world, a woman would have the opportunity to have a visit with a physician before she becomes pregnant to identify any potential risk factors before she gets pregnant," said Hollier. "Then a woman would enter prenatal in her first trimester. Unfortunately, African American women are the least likely to have that first trimester of prenatal care."

    Texas public health officials say they are concerned about the state's high maternal mortality rate but they don't believe cuts to women's health clinics are to blame, noting that the decrease in funding did not take effect until after the increase in maternal mortality had been reported.

    "There's not any evidence that suggests a link," said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the State Health Services Department. "The timing doesn't really match up to demonstrate that there's any connection."

    Manda Hall, associate commissioner for community health improvement at the agency, said several initiatives are underway to address the maternal mortality crisis. They include a program that encourages women planning to become pregnant to make wholesome lifestyle choices and another targeting historically black academic institutions that offers training focused on preconception health, the importance of fathers, health disparities and reproductive life planning.

    Researchers say such programs might have an effect, but given that low-income white women fare better than black women, the causes may run deeper.

    "Just being a black woman in America comes with its own level of stress," said Jones, the Afiya Center executive director.

    Some studies have shown that chronic stress triggered by racism and discrimination can lead to health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and these in turn can lead to preterm births, low birth weights and life-threatening complications.

    2009 study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine by researchers from USC and Harvard examined the differences in the self-reported racism experiences of U.S.-born and foreign-born black pregnant women, and found that "chronic exposure to racial prejudice and discrimination could ... contribute to physiological wear and tear, thereby increasing health risk."

    African American women also say that healthcare professionals are often dismissive of their concerns if they are poor, have health problems or already have several children, said Deneen Robinson, a researcher and program director for the Afiya Center.

    "We go into facilities and they speak condescendingly to us," Jones said. "They rush us through the process. They downplay when we talk about what oursymptoms are."

    In Perkins' case, her mother recalls that health providers seemed to disapprove when her daughter got pregnant with the twins and was feeling sick.

    "Oh, you're pregnant again," was the reaction of the first doctor they consulted, Perkins recalled. "They think that we're all just trying to get on the system and get what we can get."

    Shawn Thierry, a Democrat who represents Houston's 146th District in the Texas House of Representatives, says this is a common experience for African American women.

    "We know there are instances where [African American mothers] are not given the proper level of attention and care because of assumptions that doctors and hospitals are making about them," she said. "The bias — we see it on all sides."

    Thierry has introduced legislation that would require an investigation into whether socioeconomic and educational backgrounds play a role when African American mothers die during pregnancy and childbirth.

    A little more than four years ago, Thierry almost died giving birth to her daughter after a routine epidural triggered a violent reaction. She felt excruciating pain, her heart began to race, and she was "fighting for every breath," she said. Doctors performed an emergency C-section. Unlike many poor and minority women, she says, she had good health insurance that allowed her to remain in the hospital several days after giving birth.

    As for Perkins, who died three days after being readmitted to the hospital, doctors told her mother that an infection had killed her daughter. A preliminary autopsy report cited an accumulation of fluid in Perkins' abdominal cavity and around her lungs and heart. It also said placental tissue had been retained in her uterus.

    Givens-Perkins was plagued with questions. Was that what proved fatal? Did it have anything to do with the illness she suffered during her pregnancy? Why was her daughter most often seen during her pregnancy by low-level medical practitioners, even when she was so frequently sick?

    (Hospital officials declined to comment for this article, citing patient privacy laws.)

    Baby Camille came home in time for Christmas 2014, almost four months after her birth. Her brother Catreyal was released the following month after several surgeries and near-death episodes.

    He remains physically and mentally impaired. While his sister is running and trying to form words, he can't walk or talk. Givens-Perkins is left to start another generation of child-rearing, this one much harder than the first.

    "That first year was a year from pure hell," Givens-Perkins said. "I didn't know what to do. I was calling people. Do they still boil bottles? I was sure a lot had changed. It was 20 years since I had had a baby. I had to relearn how to do this."



    10)  Nurses returning from Puerto Rico accuse the federal government of leaving people to die

    "We cannot be silent while millions of people continue to endure these conditions."


    The nation's largest nurses union condemned the federal government's emergency response in Puerto Rico on Thursday for "delaying necessary humanitarian aide to its own citizens and leaving them to die."

    The stinging criticism came from members of the nonprofit National Nurses United, speaking on Capitol Hill with Democratic members of Congress after a two-week humanitarian mission to Puerto Rico. About 50 volunteer nurses visited two dozen towns in urban and rural areas, and described the desperation of Puerto Ricans — even five weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island — as worse than anything they had witnessed on other humanitarian missions, including the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans and the earthquake in Haiti.

    The official death toll from the storm so far is 51, though Vox's own reporting suggests the actual number of deaths could be in the hundreds.

    The nurses described doctors performing surgery in hospitals with light from their cellphones, children screaming from hunger, elderly residents suffering from severe dehydration, and black mold spreading throughout entire communities. 

    "We cannot be silent while millions of people continue to endure these conditions," said Bonnie Castillo, associate executive director of National Nurses United.

    She said some nurses arrived in towns that never got food or water supplies, or any other help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Some communities the nurses visited that did get supplies were not getting enough.

    It's hard to get information about overall relief efforts in Puerto Rico, as some towns remain completely cut off from internet and phone service. Right now, about 75 percent of the island doesn't have electricity and 25 percent doesn't have running water. (Vox's reporting suggests that far fewer people have access to drinking water than statistics show.)

    FEMA has acknowledged that its mission in Puerto Rico is the most "logistically complex response in FEMA history," while also pointing out how much it has accomplished in such a difficult environment. The agency has deployed more than 16,000 federal workers to the island, flown supplies to stranded communities more than 700 times, and delivered more than 10 million liters of bottled water. The agency has also approved more than $114 million in individual assistance to cover the cost of temporary housing and other basic needs. It has also approved $2.3 million in disaster assistance loans for small businesses.

    But Olivia Lynch, a California nurse who just returned from the Puerto Rico mission, said FEMA's efforts in Puerto Rico are "completely inadequate."

    Part of the problem is how FEMA requires Puerto Ricans to apply for disaster aid. Lynch said FEMA workers were asking residents to give them copies of utility bills and bank routing numbers. Then the agency promised to follow up via email or text. But most people don't have electricity or phone service, and their homes and documents may be destroyed.

    The nurses union said it had put out a report about its findings in Puerto Rico but the FEMA administrator in Puerto Rico has yet to return the union's calls to discuss them. 

    Here is what most concerned them from their experience on the ground:

    • People standing in line for hours in the sun for food and water, with federal workers giving them paperwork instead of distributing supplies
    • Residents living in soaked homes without roofs, where dangerous black mold is spreading and leading to respiratory problems
    • Rural towns that have never gotten food and water supplies, and yet have no running water and no electricity
    • An outbreak of leptospirosis, a dangerous bacterial disease that has already claimed lives; as of Thursday, four deaths have been attributed to this outbreak
    • Multiple communities without clean water that are at risk of the outbreak of water-borne illness epidemics

    Kathy Kennedy, a nurse who once worked on the military medical ship USNS Comfort, said she couldn't believe there were still empty hospital beds aboard the ship, which is docked near San Juan. She said hospitals on the island can barely take care of their patients and need more help. 

    The nurses and members of Congress asked Republican leaders to increase disaster aid to Puerto Rico, and to prioritize and spend more money on repairing the power grid.

    "Our people are being left to suffer, and the nurses hope that our elected officials work to change this before people die," Kennedy said.



    11) Spain Moves to Take Control Over Catalonia

     OCT. 27, 2017




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

    By Paul Krugman, October 26, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



    13)  Battle of Treaty Camp

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

    By Alleen BrownWill ParrishAlice Speri

    The Intercept, October 27, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Water protectors felt a growing sense of urgency.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But the water protectors didn't miss his rifle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Intercept, October 27, 2017


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






































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