Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:

Love this guy!





Prison Radio UPDATE:

Please sign this petition:

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


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

Phone: 215-686-8000

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

Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

OPEN the files. Justice Now!



Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?

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

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

A Book Review by Robert Fantina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Journal of Books, July 2017











Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:














U.S. Out Now! 

AFGHANISTAN - Longest War in U.S. History

U.S. Hands Off!

Syria • Palestine • Korea, • Venezuela • Haiti

Saturday, October 7

7- 9:30 pm

Niebyl Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave. Oakland (at 65th Street) 


Cindy Sheehan, Peace and social justice activist and producer/host of Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox

Walter Riley, Haiti Action Committee; Haiti Emergency Relief Fund

Jeff Mackler, UNAC Nat'l Admin. Comm.; author, "Syria: Anatomy of Another U.S. Imperialist War;" Socialist Action

Judy Greenspan, Workers World Party and International Action Center: speaking on Korea

Alan Benjamin, Editor/National Organizer, Socialist Organizer: speaking on Venezuela/Latin Amderica 

Sponsor: United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)

Co-sponsors: Initial list/co-sponsors welcome: Haiti Action Committee • Socialist Organizer • Socialist Action • Workers World Party • Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal • Hands Off Syria Coalition • International Action Center  

Donation requested: No one turned away for lack of funds For information call 510-268-9429





Week of:  7 October 2017

It's time to resist!  TOGETHER!


For decades, determined activists around the world have been resisting occupation, militarism, and foreign bases on their lands.  Their struggles have been courageous and persistant.  Uniting our resistance into a global action for peace and justice will make our voices louder, our power stronger and more radiant. 

This fall, during the first week of October, we invite your organization to plan an anti-militarism action in your community as part of the first annual Global Action Against Military Bases. As we resist together to abolish war and stop the desecration of Mother Earth, we create a world where every human life has equal value and a safe environment in which to live. This is the beginning of an annual effort that will better unite our work and strengthen our connections with each other. Will you join us in this united effort to resist war?


On October 7, 2001, in response to the events on September 11, the United States and Great Britain launched the "Enduring Freedom" mission against Afghanistan. These military forces began their assault on a country already battered by the Soviet invasion and years of a devastating civil war. Following 9/11, a new doctrine of Permanent Global Warfare was established, and its destabilizing impacts have drastically worsened since that fateful day.

We live in an increasingly more volatile world with ever- expanding global wars. Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Libya, Mali, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan are just some of the hot spots. War has become a strategy for global domination. This perpetual state of war is having a devastating impact on our planet, impoverishing communities and forcing massive movements of people fleeing from war and environmental degradation.  

Today, in the Trump era, global warfare is intensifying rapidly. The US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreements accompanies a destructive energy policy that ignores science and eliminates environmental protections, with consequences that will fall heavily on the future of the planet and all who live on it. 

The use of such weapons as the MOAB, "the mother of all bombs," clearly shows the ever more brutal course of the White House. In this framework, the richest and most powerful country, which possesses 95% of the world's foreign military bases, regularly threatens military intervention against other major powers.  This pushes Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and other countries to grotesquely expand their own militaries, leading to worsening global tensions and instability.

It is time to unify all those around the world who oppose war. We must build a network of resistance to US bases, in solidarity with the many years of active resistance movements in Okinawa, South Korea, Italy, the Philippines, Guam, Germany, England, and elsewhere.

On October 7, 2001, the world's richest country began its perpetual military assault and occupation of Afghanistan, one of the world's poorest nations. We propose the week of October 7, 2017 as the first annual GLOBAL ACTION AGAINST MILITARY BASES. We invite all communities to organize solidarity actions and events sometime during the first or second week of October. Each community can independently organize a resistance that meets their own community's needs. We encourage community organizing meetings, debates, public speaking events, vigils, prayer groups, signature gathering, and direct actions. Each community can choose its own methods and locations of resistance: at military bases, embassies, government buildings, schools, libraries, public squares, etc. To make this possible, we need to work together as a united front, giving strength and visibility to every initiative. Together we ARE more powerful.

As Albert Einstein said: "War cannot be humanized. It can only be abolished." Will you join us?  Let's make this possible, together.

With the deepest respect,

First signatories

NoDalMolin (Vicenza – Italy)

NoMuos (Niscemi – Sicily – Italy)

SF Bay Area CODEPINK (S. Francisco – USA)

World Beyond War (USA)


Hambastagi (Solidarity Party of Afghanistan)

STOP the War Coalition (Phiilippines)

Environmentalists against War (USA)



CODEPINK Fall Action at Creech:  

Oct. 5 to Oct. 12    (All welcome!)

(Oct. 7 is the 16th Anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan)

SHUT DOWN CREECH: Spring 2018: Apr. 8-14.  (National Mass Mobilization to Resist Killer Drones)

(Thanks to Sandy Turner, from Ukiah, CA, for sharing this link!)

The Pentagon and CIA now have Brett Velicovich, their own drone veteran and CEO of an "online drone retail store" (Dronepire, Inc. and Expert Drones) , to glorify drone killing. Shameful that NPR couldn't ask the very difficult and important questions.  Lots of public education is needed to help people separate fact from fiction!

Would love for someone to do research on this guy!

Please listen to this interview (filled with misinformation), and consider joining us at Creech in the fall and/or spring to be a voice against the slaughter.  

(Dates below).

Life As A 'Drone Warrior'

NPR interview "with Brett Velicovich about his memoir, Drone Warrior, which details his time hunting and killing alleged terrorists using drones in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places."


PS:  We should have a massive letter writing and phone calling to NPR for this totally biased and dangerous misrepresentation!



The Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

A fight Against Racist U.S. Capitalism

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

But will the court allow this evidence to be brought forth? This is now in question!

Will you help?  Get the latest update:

Mumia Is Innocent and Framed!

Free Mumia Now!

Join Us In a Public Meeting:


7 pm, Saturday, October 28

 Niebyl Proctor Marxist Library

6501 Telegraph Ave, Oakland

(near Oakland/Berkeley border on Telegraph)

Featured Speaker: Rachel Wolkenstein

Lawyer for Mumia from the beginning of his case. 

Other speakers, and solidarity with anti-fascist fighters.

Sponsor: Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal







Labor Studies and Radical History

4444 Geary Blvd., Suite 207, San Francisco, CA 94118




(call 415.387.5700 to be sure the library is open for the hours you are interested in. We close the library sometimes to go on errands or have close early) suggested)

7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed on all major holidays and May Day 

We can arrange, by request, to keep the library open longer during the day or open it on weekends. Just ask.


  • Reference Librarian On-site
  • Email and Telephone Reference
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Online Public Access Catalog 
  • Microfilm Reader/Printer
  • DVD and VCR players
  • Photocopier
  • Quiet well-lighted place for study and research 

For an appointment or further information, please email: david [at] holtlaborlibrary.org 





Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director




To give by check: 

PO Box 411074

San Francisco, CA


Stock or legacy gifts:

Noelle Hanrahan

(415) 706 - 5222



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




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

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

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

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

Press Conference Details

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


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


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

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

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




When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression


When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression


Mothers Message to the NY/NJ Activist Community 

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

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

"What We Want, What We Need" 

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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





My Heartfelt "Thank You!"

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Several days ago I received a message from both of our lawyers, Bob Boyle and Bret Grote, informing me that the latest lab tests came in from the Discovery Requests.  

And they told me that the Hepatitis C infection level is at zero and as of today I'm Hepatitis C free. 

This is in part due to some fine lawyering by Bret and Bob who—remember—filed the suit while I was in the throes of a diabetic coma, unconscious and thus unable to file for myself.  

But it's also due to you, the people.  Brothers and sisters who supported our efforts, who contributed to this fight with money, time, protests and cramming court rooms on our behalf, who sent cards, who prayed, who loved deeply.  

I can't thank you all individually but if you hear my voice or read my words know that I am thanking you, all of you. And I'm thanking you for showing once again the Power of the People. 

This battle ain't over, for the State's cruelest gift is my recent diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver. With your love we shall prevail again.  I thank you all. Our noble Dr.'s Corey Weinstein, who told us what to look for, and Joseph Harris who gave me my first diagnosis and who became the star of the courtroom by making the mysteries of Hep C understandable to all.  An internist working up in Harlem, Dr. Harris found few thrills better than telling his many Hep C patients that they're cured.  

This struggle ain't just for me y'all. 

Because of your efforts thousands of Pennsylvania prisoners now have hope of healing from the ravages of Hepatitis C. [singing] "Let us march on 'til victory is won." So goes the old Negro Spiritual, "The Black National Anthem." 

We are making it a reality. I love you all.

From Prison Nation,

This is Mumia Abu-Jamal

Prison Radio, May 27, 2017


Court order to disclose DA files in Mumia Abu-Jamal's legal case [video]

This 9-minute video gives background on new revelations about conflict of interest -- an appeals judge who had previously been part of the prosecution team -- in upholding the 1982 conviction of journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal on charges of killing a police officer:


A ruling to implement a judge's recent order for "discovery" could be made on May 30.

Judge Tucker granted discovery to Mumia Abu-Jamal pursuant to his claims brought under Williams v Pennsylvania that he was denied due process because his PA Supreme Court appeals from 1998-2008 were decided by Ronald Castille, who had previously been the District Attorney during Mumia's 1988 appeal from his conviction and death sentence, as well as having been a senior assistant district attorney during Mumia's trial.

The DA is given 30 days—until May 30, 2017—to produce all records and memos regarding Mumia's case, pre-trial, trial, post-trial and direct appeal proceedings between Castille and his staff and any public statement he made about it. Then Mumia has 15 days after receiving this discovery to file amendments to his PCRA petition.

This date of this order is April 28, but it was docketed today, May 1, 2017.

This is a critical and essential step forward!


Dear Friend,

For the first time- a court has ordered the Philadelphia DA to turn over evidence and open their files in Mumia's appeal.   In a complacency shattering blow, the District Attorney's office is finally being held to account.  Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court ordered the DA to produce all of the documents relevant to former PA Supreme Court Justice's role in the case. Castille was first a supervisory ADA during Mumia's trial, then District Attorney, and finally as a judge he sat on Mumia's appeals to the PA Supreme Court. 

This broad discovery order follows just days after the arguments in court by Christina Swarns, Esq. of the NAACP LDF, and Judith Ritter, Esq. of Widner Univ.

During that hearing, Swarns made it clear that the District Attorney's practice of lying to the appellate courts would not be tolerated and had been specifically exposed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the Terrence Williams case, which highlights Ronald Castile's conflict, the Supreme Court in no uncertain terms excoriated the office for failing to disclose crucial evidence.  Evidence the office hid for years.  This is an opportunity to begin to unravel the decades long police and prosecutorial corruption that has plagued Mumia's quest for justice.  

In prison for over thirty six years Mumia Abu-Jamal has maintained his innocence in the death of Philadelphia Police officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9th 1981.  

"The Commonwealth  must  produce  any  and  all  documents  or  records  in  the  possession  or  control  of  the Philadelphia  District  Attorney's  Office   showing   former   District   Attorney   Ronald   Castille's   personal   involvement   in the  above-captioned  case  ... and public statements during and after his tenure as District Attorney of Philadelphia."

It is important to note that the history of the District Attorney's office in delaying and appealing to prevent exposure of prosecutorial misconduct and the resulting justice.  At every turn, there will be attempts to limit Mumia's access to the courts and release.   it is past time for justice in this case.  

Noelle Hanrahan, P.I.

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

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

Thank you for being a part of this work!



Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Packed Off to Florida!

Rashid: I'm off to Florida and a new phase of reprisals for publicizing abuses in US prisons

July 14, 2017

Readers are urged to share this story widely and write to Rashid right away; mail equals support, and the more he gets, the safer he'll be: Kevin Johnson, O-158039, RMC, P.O. Box 628, Lake Butler FL 32054

by Kevin 'Rashid' Johnson


Packed off to Florida

Following Texas prison officials planting a weapon in my cell on March 26, 2017, then stealing most of my personal property on April 6, 2017, in an ongoing pattern of retaliation for and attempts to repress my writing and involvement in litigation exposing and challenging abuses in Texas prisons, including their killing prisoners, I was unceremoniously packed off to the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) on June 22, 2017.

This transfer came as outside protests mounted against the abuses, and Texas officials became more and more entangled in a growing web of their own lies invented in their efforts to cover up and deny their reprisals against me, and also while a contempt investigation was imminent upon a motion I filed in a federal lawsuit brought by relatives of one of the prisoners they'd killed – a killing I'd witnessed and publicized.

Florida, notorious for its own extremely abusive prisons, readily signed on to take up Texas's slack. And being an openly corrupt system unaccustomed to concealing its dirt, FDC officials shot straight from the hip in expressing and carrying on efforts to repress and act out reprisals for my exposing and challenging prison abuses.

The Welcoming Committee

Following a four-hour flight from Texas to Florida, I was driven in a sweltering prison van from an airport just outside Jacksonville, Florida, to the FDC's Reception and Medical Center (RMC) in Lake Butler, Florida. I was forced to leave most all my personal property behind in Texas.

Upon reaching RMC, I was brought from the van, manacled hand and foot into an enclosed vehicle port, where I was met by a mob of white guards of all ranks. I was ordered to stand in a pair of painted yellow footprints on a concrete platform as the guards crowded around me.

I was ordered to stand in a pair of painted yellow footprints on a concrete platform as the guards crowded around me. "This is Florida, and we'll beat your ass! We'll kill you!" said the spokesman.

Their "chosen" spokesman, a tall goofy guard, R. Knight, stepped forward and launched into a speech consisting of threats and insults. He emphasized that I was "not in Virginia or wherever else" I'd been. That "this is Florida, and we'll beat your ass! We'll kill you!" He assured my "Black ass" that my tendency to protest "won't be tolerated here."

He went on and on, like an overseer explaining the plantation's code of decorum and the "place" to a newly arrived Black slave. The analogy is apt. "You will answer us only as 'no sir' and 'yes sir,' 'no ma'am' and 'yes ma'am.' You forget this and we'll kick your fucking teeth out," he barked.

I was then taken through the various stages of being "processed" in: fingerprinted, examined and questioned by medical staff etc. Knight took possession of my property and stole a number of documents and all my writing supplies (five writing tablets, four ink pens, 19 envelopes, stamps), all my hygiene supplies (deodorant, shampoo, two bars of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clippers) and so on.

All these items that I brought with me from Texas were inventoried and logged by Texas officials. Knight logged and inventoried me as receiving from him only my watch, some legal papers, 15 envelopes and my eyeglasses.

Next, I was taken into an office and sat before a Sgt. L. Colon, RMC's "gang (or STG, Security Threat Group) investigator." He proceeded in the same hostile terms. He explained that he knew all about me and his displeasure with my published articles about prison abuses, and he assured that FDC would put an end to it. He admitted his purpose was to put an STG profile on me, refer it to FDC's central office in Tallahassee to be upheld, and I would then be put on STG file, which in turn would be used to stop my writings.

He proceeded to ask about me being a "Black Panther leader" and, using a thoroughly amateur interrogation method, attempted to have me characterize myself and my party as a gang. When his efforts failed, he charged me with being a "bullshitter." I told him only that I am a member of a constitutionally protected, non-violent communist party and whatever false stigma he wanted to try and invent against me and us was typical of fascist governments and we'd address it publicly and in court. Our "interview" was terminated.

Another nurse did my medical history check, remarking that my blood pressure reading was extremely high, 145/103. Although she had all my medications sitting there in front of her, and I told her I had not received my dose that day, she refused to provide them and did nothing.

Upon arriving in Florida, I had not received my hypertension medications since the prior morning. The sweltering heat was aggravating my condition. During the intake process a routine blood pressure check was done and my reading was around 145/103. The nurse who did the reading passed me on to another nurse who did my medical history check, remarking that my reading was extremely high. Although she had all my medications sitting there in front of her, and I told her I had not received my dose that day, she refused to provide them and did nothing.

Barbaric housing

Following completing the intake process, I was walked a substantial distance across the prison yard carrying my bag of property in handcuffs and the sweltering midday heat, dizzy from my elevated blood pressure.

I was led to K-building, the solitary confinement unit, where I was put into a cell, K-3-102, which had no bunk in it and had a commode that had to be flushed by guards from outside the cell – often they would not flush it when it needed to be and I asked them to. The commode had otherwise been obviously left unflushed for long periods, because inside the bowl was and is a thick, yellowed layer of calcium and waste residue and it reeked of fermented urine and feces.

Just before I entered the cell, it was wet-mopped, not to sanitize it, but to cover the entire floor with water that would not, and did not, dry for over a day afterward due to the extreme humidity and lack of air circulation in the cells. There is no air conditioning in the cell blocks and, unlike in Texas, FDC prisoners may not have in-cell fans.

My cell was infested with ants which would find their way into my bed as I slept on the floor. I received numerous bites from them and I believe also roaches that frequently crawled into the cell. At night, in the pitch black cells – and even when the lights were on – mice and huge, two-inch-long cockroaches, along with the "regular" smaller breed of roaches, ran into and explored the cell.

My cell was infested with ants which would find their way into my bed as I slept on the floor. I received numerous bites from them. At night, even when the lights were on, mice and huge, two-inch-long cockroaches, along with the "regular" smaller breed of roaches, ran into and explored the cell.

The K-building lieutenant, Jason Livingston, posted a special note outside my cell door stating I was on a heightened security status, that I and the cell were to be specially searched any time I exited or entered the cell, that I was to be specially restrained and the ranking guards had to accompany me to and from any destination outside the cell. The pretense was that I was an extreme physical threat.

I was denied my hypertension medications until I briefly fell unconscious on the evening of June 24, 2017.

Following sending word out to an attorney and others about my conditions and experiences, who apparently raised complaints on my behalf, I was moved to a "regular" cell, K-1-204, on June 30, 2017, with a bunk and a commode I can flush. I was repeatedly confronted by various guards who've commented that I'm no dangerous person and they don't understand why I've been profiled or treated as though I am.

A week later FDC officials would come clean, exposing on the record their actual motives for my mistreatment, and "special" security status.

Solitary confinement for publicizing abuses

My readers and others will recall when, in January 2017, I was given a disciplinary infraction by Texas officials for a statement I wrote about suffering their abuses that was published online. When confronted about such retaliatory acts by a PBS reporter, Ms. Kamala Kelkar, TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark initially lied, denying that I received any such infractions, until Ms. Kelkar emailed him a copy of the charge I'd received. He then suddenly changed his story, lying yet again to claim the infraction had been overturned, then declined to answer any further questions.[i]

Clark knew enough to deny and try to cover up such acts of retaliation against a prisoner exercising his right to freedom of speech. Florida officials, however, have come right out admitting and exposing such actions.[ii]

On July 6, 2017, I was confronted by RMC classification officer Jeremy Brown, who notified me that I am to be formally reviewed for placement on Close Management I status, which is the FDC's name for solitary confinement. The reason he gave for this review was the exact STG pretext Sgt. L. Colon told me on my first day was going to be created to justify suppressing my writings about prison abuses.

Brown served me written notification stating my CMI review was based upon my alleged "documented leadership in a Security Threat Group that is certified by the Threat Assessment Review Committee in Central Office." Remember, this is the very same illegal basis upon which California prison officials were indefinitely throwing prisoners in solitary confinement which prompted three historic mass prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013 and was abolished upon the settlement of a class action lawsuit against the practice in 2015.

My assignment to solitary confinement is for "documented leadership in a Security Threat Group" … This is the very same illegal basis upon which California prison officials were indefinitely throwing prisoners in solitary confinement which prompted three historic mass prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013 and was abolished upon the settlement of a class action lawsuit against the practice in 2015.

But FDC officials went much further in supporting "comments" to state their true motives for devising to put me in solitary and for my mistreatment up to that point.

As Colon had threatened, an STG label was invented against the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, a party about which Colon admitted he and the FDC had no prior knowledge. The reason the party was designated an STG and gang was because (get this!) I'd written articles while in Oregon and Texas prison systems that were published online about abuses in the prisons which generated concern and perfectly legal protests from the public, which was characterized as my gang following that "caused disruption in the orderly operations" of the prisons.

The notice went on to admit, as I've long contended in my writings, that these writings are the actual reason I've been transferred from state to state – illegal retaliatory transfers – which was characterized as STG activities.

Passing mention was made that I'd received disciplinary infractions while in Oregon and Texas, but no attempt was made to show those infractions bore any connection to my party affiliation. In fact, those who have followed my writings and the series of official reprisals – which is now being admitted by FDC officials – know those infractions were fabricated retaliations, many of which I was prevented from contesting.

So, according to FDC officials, I am a confirmed gang leader because I publicize prison abuses through articles that are posted online and my gang members and followers are members of the public who read my articles and make complaints and inquiries of officials, which acts are characterized as presenting disruptions to prison operations – or in other words throwing a monkey wrench in their business-as-usual abuses.

According to FDC officials, I am a confirmed gang leader because I publicize prison abuses through articles that are posted online and my gang members and followers are members of the public who read my articles and make complaints and inquiries of officials, which acts are characterized as presenting disruptions to prison operations.

For this I am to be thrown into solitary, which means any future posting and publishing of writings by me about prison abuses will be characterized as my continuing to engage in STG or gang activities, and any legal public protests as my gang members threatening prison security.

I didn't make this up, it's all in writing; read it HERE (scroll down to "SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS"). This is where taxpayers' monies are going in financing these ubiquitous gang busting units. And should you protest, you will be labelled a gangster yourself. I won't belabor the point.

Dare to struggle, Dare to win!

All Power to the People!

[i] Kamala Kelkar, "Resistence Builds Against Social Media Ban in Texas Prisons," PBS NewsHour Weekend, Jan. 29, 2017, 5:23 p.m. EST

Send our brother some love and light – and share this urgent story widely. The more people who write to him now, the safer he'll be: Kevin Johnson, O-158039, RMC, 7765 S. Cr. 231, P.O. Box 628, Lake Butler FL 32054.











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

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



Major Battles On

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

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

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

Remember I mentioned, "paid?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other men have done more for less.

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

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

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

And the fight ain't over.

[©'16 MAJ  6/29/16]

Major Tillery Needs Your Help and Support

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

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

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

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


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

    Go to JPay.com;

    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney

    Seth Williams:

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

    Call: 215-686-8711 or

    Write to:

    Major Tillery AM9786

    SCI Frackville

    1111 Altamont Blvd.

    Frackville, PA 17931

      For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot


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



      Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

      Sign the Petition:


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

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

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

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

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

      Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

      In solidarity,

      James Clark
      Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
      Amnesty International USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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














        1)  Marijuana Arrests Continue

        More arrests for marijuana than for violent crime last year

        By Phillip Smith


        Despite spreading marijuana legalization and a growing desire for new directions in drug policy, the war on drugs continues unabated. According to the FBI's latest Uniform Crime Report, released Monday, overall drug arrests actually increased last year to 1.57 million, a jump of 5.63 percent over 2015. The increase includes marijuana arrests, which jumped by more than 75,000 last year compared to 2015, an increase of 12 percent.

        That comes out to three drug arrests every minute, day in and day out, throughout 2016. It's also more than three times the number of people arrested for violent crimes. Drug offenses are the single largest category of crimes for which people were arrested last year, more than burglaries, DUIs or any other criminal offense. 

        Unlike previous years, this year's Uniform Crime Report did not immediately make available data on specific offenses, such as drug possession or drug sales, nor did it break arrests down by type of drug, but the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) obtained marijuana arrest data by contacting the FBI. It reported some 653,000 people arrested on marijuana charges last year, although the FBI did not provide data on how many were simple possession charges. 

        While that figure marks a decline from historic highs a decade ago—pot arrests peaked at nearly 800,000 in 2007—the sharp jump in pot arrests last year demands explanation, especially as it comes after a decade of near continuous declining numbers.

        "Arresting and citing nearly half-a-million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty," said MPP communications director Morgan Fox. "Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition, and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested."

        Despite the lack of specific offense data, 2016 is unlikely to turn out markedly different from previous years when it comes to the mix of drug arrests. Past years typically had simple drug possession offenses accounting for 85-90 percent of all drug arrests and small-time marijuana possession arrests accounting for around 40 percent. 

        That means of the more than 1.5 million drug arrests last year, probably 1.3 million or so of them were not drug kingpins, major dealers, gangbangers, or cartel operatives. Instead, they were people who got caught with small amounts of drugs for personal use. 

        "Criminalizing drug use has devastated families across the U.S., particularly in communities of color, and for no good reason," said Maria McFarland Sánchez Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Far from helping people who are struggling with addiction, the threat of arrest often keeps them from accessing health services and increases the risk of overdose or other harms." 

        Perpetuating the war on drugs leads not only to the criminalization of millions, but also perpetuates racially biased outcomes and heightens racial tensions in the U.S. Black people make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population and use drugs at similar rates to other ethnic groups, but they constitute 29 percent of all drug arrests and 35 percent of state drug war prisoners. 

        And it has a huge negative impact on immigrants, fueling mass detentions and deportations. Non-citizens, including legal permanent residents—some of whom have been here for decades and have U.S. citizen family members—face deportation for even possessing any drug (except first-time possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana.) Between 2007 and 2012, more than a quarter million people were deported for drug offenses, including more than 100,000 deported for simple drug possession. 

        In 2016, the Obama administration set the tone on drug policy and criminal justice matters, yet the number of arrests still went up. Now, with the "tough on crime" Trump administration, these disappointing numbers may be as good as it gets for the next few years. 

        Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.



        2)  After the Tsunami, Japan's Sea Creatures Crossed an Ocean

        "this mass migration was the result of not just the huge natural disaster, but changes in human behavior. Such large numbers of marine animals were able to cross the Pacific because they rode on debris — made of materials like plastic and fiberglass — that proved durable enough to drift thousands of miles."

         SEPT. 28, 2017




        John Chapman inspected a derelict vessel from Japan that had washed ashore on Long Beach, Wash. Hundreds of species from Japanese coastal waters were carried across the Pacific on floating debris generated by the 2011 tsunami. CreditRuss Lewis

        TOKYO — The towering tsunami that devastated Japan six years ago also unleashed a very different sort of threat onto the distant coastline of North America: a massive invasion of marine life from across the Pacific Ocean.

        Hundreds of species from the coastal waters of Japan — mostly invertebrates like mussels, sea anemones and crabs — were carried across the Pacific on huge amounts of floating debris generated by the disaster, according to a study published Thursday in Science. Less than a year and a half after the enormous earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, left more than 18,000 dead or missing in Japan, the first pieces of wreckage began washing up on the shores of Canada and the United States.

        To the surprise of scientists, the debris was covered with sea creatures that had survived crossings that in some cases had taken years.

        The study's authors say it is too early to tell how many of these tiny invaders have gained a foothold in North American waters, where they could challenge or even displace native species. While such "rafting" of animals across oceans happened in the past, the authors say the Japanese tsunami is unprecedented because of the sheer number of organisms that it sent across the world's largest ocean.

        And this points to one of the main findings of the study: that this mass migration was the result of not just the huge natural disaster, but changes in human behavior. Such large numbers of marine animals were able to cross the Pacific because they rode on debris — made of materials like plastic and fiberglass — that proved durable enough to drift thousands of miles.

        These synthetics, the use of which has taken off around the world, can stay afloat for years or even decades. The debris that was dragged out to sea by the 2011 tsunami formed an unsinkable flotilla capable of transporting a large population of organisms across the world's largest ocean.

        "We have created a new ecological process, the process of mega-rafting," said Steven L. Chown, a professor of biology at Monash University in Australia, who was not involved in the report, but wrote a commentary that also appeared in Science. "The development of materials that can float for ages, and the rising levels of seas due to climate change, make the possibility of these events larger and larger."

        This flotsam ranged in size from coolers and motorcycle helmets to entire fishing boats and even larger objects, teeming with living sea animals that were native to the coastal waters of Japan, but foreign to North America.

        The larger the object, the more animals it carried. One of the first pieces of tsunami debris that appeared was a 180-ton floating dock that washed ashore in Oregon in June 2012. It was carrying a diverse mini-ecosystem of more than 120 different species.

        This was our first heads up, that this was the vanguard of what might be coming from Japan," said one of the report's co-authors, James T. Carlton, a professor emeritus of marine sciences at Williams College. "After that, we got a steady stream of reports of boats, buoys and other debris, all with Japanese markings, and all carrying an amazing cross section of Japanese sea life."

        Dr. Carlton called it remarkable that such a wide range of species — which also included barnacles, worms and tiny filter-feeders called bryozoans — could survive the journey across the northern Pacific. In many cases, these passages took years, longer than the life spans of the individual organisms. The authors concluded that not only did these creatures adapt to an open ocean where food was scarcer than in rich coastal waters, they were also able to reproduce, in some cases for at least three generations, before reaching the North American coast.

        "We found that hundreds of species could survive for multiple generations at sea," said Dr. Carlton, who is a former director of William's Maritime Studies Program in Mystic Seaport, Conn. "They could do this so long as their rafts did not dissolve or sink."

        To conduct the study, the authors relied on more than 200 volunteers, including state park rangers and beachcombers, to find and examine some 634 pieces of debris that washed ashore from 2012 to earlier this year. While there was concern in the early days that some debris might have been contaminated from the nuclear accident at Fukushima that was caused by the tsunami, Dr. Carlton said such worries quickly eased after tests showed no traces of radioactive contamination.

        The washed up objects were found to carry 289 invasive species from the western Pacific. While most were invertebrates, a few vertebrates survived the journey, including a small number of emaciated fish that were trapped inside the water-filled hulls of half-sunken fishing boats.

        All told, thousands of pieces of debris from Japan washed up on North American coasts from Sitka, Alaska, to Monterey, Calif., and as far afield as Hawaii. Since the authors and volunteers were only able to inspect a fraction of these objects, Dr. Carlton said he believes hundreds more species likely made the crossing.

        It is unclear how many of these will actually gain a foothold in North America. It takes years for an invasive species to establish a viable population, and these may be hard to spot on so long a stretch of coastline. Most of the newcomers will simply vanish in a Darwinian process of selection that Dr. Carlton likened to "a game of ecological roulette."

        Species that do prosper can cause enormous environmental and economic damage, especially if they supplant native species upon which coastal communities depend for livelihoods. The study concluded that such disruptions will become more frequent as the use of plastics and other synthetics proliferates. Nor does it take an event as rare as a giant tsunami to launch the next invasion fleet. Dr. Carlton pointed to Hurricane Irma, which blew large amounts of plastic debris from devastated Caribbean islands onto Florida's beaches.

        "We have loaded the coastal zones of the world with massive amounts of plastic and materials that are not biodegradable," he said. "All it takes is something to push this into the ocean for the next invasion of species to happen."



        3)  Two Confessions and Claims of Misconduct in Murder Case

        The Staten Island district attorney convicted a man of murder 23 years ago. A lawyer who has investigated the case for five years says he wasn't the killer.

         SEPT. 29, 2017




        In the rainy early morning of July 4, 1992, two armed men pushed their way into a drug stash house in a third-floor apartment of a Staten Island housing project, not far from the ferry terminal. It was a robbery: hardly the first in the crime-ridden neighborhood of New Brighton in those crime-ridden times.

        Within minutes of the break-in, a gunfight erupted and a young drug dealer, Cynthia Browning, was dead with a bullet in her head. Her boss, Alton Staley, was shot in the neck by the robbers, but remarkably survived.

        Months went by without a solid break in the case. But detectives eventually arrested a local man named Foster Thompson, who was 28 at the time and had a history of robbery and gun charges. Over the next two years, Mr. Thompson was tried twice for killing Ms. Browning and shooting Mr. Staley. The first attempt resulted in a mistrial, but he was convicted on the second and sentenced to a maximum of life in prison.

        But now, after more than two decades, a lawyer who has spent the last five years investigating Mr. Thompson's case is claiming he was wrongfully convicted and is trying to persuade the Staten Island district attorney's office to reopen the matter. The lawyer, Abe George, has presented prosecutors with a dossier of videotapes, witness statements and a disputed police report — all of which has been reviewed by The New York Times.

        The striking amount of evidence Mr. George has amassed suggests his efforts are more than just a case of a lone lawyer on a quixotic quest. His dossier includes suggestions that evidence may have been withheld at Mr. Thompson's trial and that the former prosecutor who won the conviction had a questionable relationship with a witness after entering private practice. Mr. George has even managed to get confessions from two people who said that they took part in the fatal armed robbery, not Mr. Thompson.

        "From the inception of the case," Mr. George said in an interview this month. "I knew that there was something wrong here."

        In a recent statement, the Staten Island district attorney's office said that it had spent a year conducting "a thorough investigation of the allegations" , but added that there was "insufficient evidence" to set aside the jury's verdict. The statement said that prosecutors would "look at any additional facts if they are brought to light."

        Unlike the Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn district attorneys' offices, the Staten Island office has no unit devoted to identifying wrongful convictions. Questionable cases are usually considered first by the district attorney's executive team and then assigned for investigation to a prosecutor.

        At Mr. Thompson's second trial, the lead prosecutor, Mark Macron, obtained a guilty verdict largely by relying on the testimony of two main witnesses. One was the injured Mr. Staley who had his own legal problems at the time. On the night he was shot, Mr. Staley was found in the stash house with a gun and drugs. But after he testified against Mr. Thompson, he was never charged with a crime.

        Prosecutors claim they never struck a deal with Mr. Staley, but long after the trial had ended, Mr. George tried to interview him to see if that indeed was true. By that point, however, something unusual had happened: Mr. Macron had left his job in the district attorney's office and started representing Mr. Staley as a private lawyer.

        In October 2015, Mr. George wrote an email to the prosecutor's office, saying that Mr. Macron had denied him "permission to interview his former witness and present client" — a decision he referred to in a follow-up note as "egregious" and "unacceptable." The prosecutors responded, saying in their own email, that they would "not be seeking any judicial intervention based upon a purported conflict of interest."

        In an interview this month, Mr. Macron said he was simply following his client's wishes in denying a request to talk about the case. "I talked to Staley about it," Mr. Macron said. "He didn't want to speak with Abe George.

        Mr. Macron added that Mr. Staley needed no encouragement to testify against Mr. Thompson who, he said, had shot him the neck.

        The other main witness against Mr. Thompson was a drug addict named Denise Concepcion. When she was first interviewed by the police, Ms. Concepcion was unable to identify him as the killer. But that changed after prosecutors called her to testify against him, on the threat of arrest, with a material witness warrant. Mr. Macron said the warrant was needed because Ms. Concepcion was terrified of the defendant.

        And so, at trial, Ms. Concepcion told the jury that as she was walking up to visit Ms. Browning in the stash house on the night of the shootings, she saw two men lingering in the hallway. One, she claimed, was Mr. Thompson, who was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt. The other was Mr. Thompson's alleged accomplice, Gilbert Franklin, who was wearing a denim jacket. (Mr. Franklin was also convicted and is serving time.)

        But then last September, as his investigation deepened, Mr. George received a piece of evidence that seemed to contradict Ms. Concepcion's story. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, he got hold of a detective's report, called a DD-5, in which a different witness claimed that it was not Mr. Thompson in the hallway wearing the red sweatshirt, but a man she knew as "Tony."

        Trial records show that Mr. Thompson's first lawyer, who has died, was at least aware of this witness, but Mr. George claims that the DD-5 itself was never turned over. Mr. Macron and officials in the district attorney's office dispute that claim.

        In either case, Mr. George was interested in "Tony." From the moment he started working on the case, Mr. George had heard from Mr. Thompson's family that the real killer was a man named David Clark, a Jamaican native who often went by the street name "Jamaican Tony." The family, moreover, knew Mr. Clark: He was married to Mr. Thompson's sister, Candice.

        Last year, lending some credence to what was in the detective report, Candice Thompson gave a statement to the district attorney's office that implicated both herself and "Jamaican Tony" in the crime. Opening herself to prosecution, she admitted that she had been at the stash house when Mr. Clark and another man committed the fatal robbery, not her brother and Mr. Franklin.

        Armed with this account — and with the DD-5 — Mr. George asked the prosecutors if they would send an investigator to speak with Mr. Clark, who was living in Jamaica. But no one ever went, he said.

        And so in February, Mr. George went to Jamaica with his own investigator, Eddie Dowd, and Mr. Clark's daughter, Davina Thompson. Davina Thompson was there, he said, to lure her father to a meeting: She had told him that she had won a free trip to the island and invited him to visit her at a resort. When Mr. Clark showed up, Mr. Dowd confronted him and eventually persuaded him to give a videotaped statement in which he, too, confessed to having committed the robbery himself.

        "I am convinced more than ever that Foster Thompson is an innocent man who is needlessly rotting in jail for a crime committed by Jamaican Tony," Mr. George wrote in an email to the district attorney's office shortly after he returned from Jamaica. Because he believed that the prosecutors still trusted the original testimony of Mr. Staley and Ms. Concepcion, Mr. George continued in his email: "There need not be a debate on the 'credibility' of Staley and Concepcion because surely you can agree that the evidence we have obtained to date (i.e. video confessions of both Jamaican Tony and Candice Thompson) would warrant a hearing."

        Mr. George has not yet filed a formal motion for a hearing, but he did try another method of bolstering his case. A few months ago, he asked the district attorney's office if he could test the red sweatshirt that Mr. Thompson had supposedly worn at the scene of the crime for D.N.A. evidence, hoping he could show that it had actually been worn by Mr. Clark — or "Tony." The sweatshirt, however, had been lost by the police years ago, trial records show.

        In a memo to the district attorney's office, Mr. George offered his own theory of the case, suggesting that prosecutors had used the Browning case as a way to pressure Mr. Thompson into giving information on other crimes. Two months before he was arrested in the killing Ms. Browning, Mr. Thompson was taken into custody by federal agents who believed that he had robbed a bank on Staten Island and that his relatives were involved in other robberies.

        In his memo, delivered in the spring, Mr. George claimed that the district attorney's office had used the threat of murder charges as "leverage" to persuade Mr. Thompson to implicate himself and his family in the robberies, and to identify his partner, Mr. Franklin, in Ms. Browning's death.

        In a telephone interview from prison this month, Mr. Thompson supported that claim, saying that Mr. Macron had sought his cooperation in a meeting when he was still in federal custody.

        "Macron told me that if I was to help him help the feds with their bank robbery case, then the murder case would disappear," he said. "I said, 'I didn't rob no bank' and he knew I didn't commit no murder. So there was nothing I could help him with."

        But Mr. Macron flatly denied he ever met Mr. Thompson and dismissed the notion that he needed help in charging Mr. Franklin, saying, "There was plenty of ballistic evidence." According to Mr. George, while two guns found near the stash house did match those that were used to kill Ms. Browning and injured Mr. Staley, nothing ever tied them to Mr. Thompson.

        Said Mr. Macron: "There's nothing to hide here. If credible evidence comes out questioning the conviction, it should be reviewed. But just because people are making noise doesn't mean anything."



        4)   Please Rise for Our National Anthem — if You're Not Too Busy

        By   OCT. 1, 2017




        CARSON, Calif. — At the moment the public-address announcer asked fans to rise and kindly remove their caps for the national anthem, the men's room behind Section 108 was in full use, with dozens more waiting in a line that streamed out the door.

        At the concession stand, beers kept pouring. Cash kept changing hands. The 11 metal detectors here at the StubHub Center's entry gates each had more than 50 people lined up to come through. The machines kept beeping.

        Most removed their caps, but not all did. A young man with a rubber Eagle mask (the Los Angeles Chargers were playing the Philadelphia Eagles) kept it propped on his head. A girl spooned a slushy concoction into her mouth, turning her lips blue. A man and woman nudged their way through those standing still and talked through the song about the best way to find their seats the moment it ended. They did not want to miss the kickoff.

        As players continue being judged by their postures during "The Star-Spangled Banner," perhaps it is fair to turn the lens around. Those who have spent a lot of time in stadiums and arenas know that they are rarely sanctuaries of patriotic conformity and decorum.

        Across the N.F.L. on Sunday, the scenes were familiar, starting long before the games began. Anthem singers rehearsed their renditions in empty places like M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, and the words and melody carried deep into the surrounding parking lots, which were thick with revelers and barbecue smoke. When the song swept through, tailgaters continued eating, drinking and playing games, unmoved. It was not the time or place to pause for the national anthem, apparently.

        Fans were much more attentive in the minutes before the game, at least in the seating areas. On a large, wide walkway at the open end of the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium directly overlooking the field, several dozen fans ambled around during the anthem, indifferent to the song or the presentation of the flag by a color guard on the field.

        At MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., a steady flow of men entered and exited the restroom during the anthem, though it was audible through the concourse. Of the hundreds who passed near the aisle leading to Sections 103 and 104, a tiny percentage stopped, removed their hats and held their hands on their hearts. People in concession lines continued their transactions.

        At AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex., where the Dallas Cowboys were playing the Los Angeles Rams, many fans raised their arms during the anthem — some in a fist as a sign of protest, perhaps, but far more holding a cellphone high to better record what the players were doing.

        Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers wryly noted the contradictions inherent in the anthem-respect debate when he posted a photograph on Instagram last week, showing photographers crouched at the feet of Rodgers and his teammates, aiming cameras at them.

        "I can't imagine what kind of social media attacks these cameramen must be enduring after taking a knee during the anthem and wearing a hat," Rodgers wrote.

        If nothing else, an air of anticipation surrounds the anthem now, whether borne of patriotism or of curiosity.

        But as part of the game-day experience, the anthem has always meant different things to different people. For some, it is something to cherish; for others, something to endure. For most, it is the biggest signal that the game is about to start.

        Until the past couple of weeks, the anthem was rarely seen by television viewers; it was a time for broadcasters to show commercials. At stadiums, seats are usually not yet full.

        The anthem itself is a two-minute pause amid the anticipation of a violent game, and guidelines for decorum are mostly unwritten and local. Many fans use the lyrics to express home-team allegiances. Kansas City fans shout that theirs is the home of the "Chiefs!" rather than "the brave" at the end of the song. It is not uncommon for individuals to pierce the pauses between lines to express love for the home team or disdain for the visitors. Imagine a player doing that.

        The United States Code, in Title 4, Chapter 1, provides standards for presenting and respecting the American flag. They are not enforceable. After all, in Texas v. Johnson in 1989, the Supreme Court upheld the First-Amendment right to burn the flag.

        The code states that military personnel should stand at attention and salute when the flag is raised, lowered, or when it passes, and others "should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart."

        If you have been to an N.F.L. stadium, you have probably noticed many in the crowd doing that. You have probably noticed plenty of others not.

        The current controversy began last year when one of the N.F.L's roughly 1,700 players sat for the national anthem. The player, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, soon shifted to kneeling instead of sitting, and he was clear about his motivation: To call attention to racial injustice, including a string of killings of unarmed African-Americans by the police.

        His position — the physical one, at least — angered many Americans. Critics said his mere posture was the ultimate sign of disrespect.

        Yet as he knelt, Kaepernick faced the flag and solemnly kept his gaze ahead. He appeared to pay attention to the proceedings. He was not on his phone, he was not in a beer line, he was not chewing on nachos — all things that occur countless times during an anthem at just about any sporting event in this country.

        Still, the cause has remained at the forefront of the national discourse, as President Trump again trumpeted the issue through the weekend, beginning with a tweet on Saturday evening.

        "Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem," he wrote. "Respect our Flag and our Country!"

        So what counts as appropriate, and who decides? What if your hands are full because you do not have a place to set your hot dogs? What if your hat is part of the costume and cannot be removed easily? One man in at the Atlanta Falcons' game on Sunday wore a red, white and blue mask over his face during the anthem, raising the question of whether a wrong can ever be a right.

        Can you scratch an itch? Take a sip? Look at a text? Can you nod at the beer vendor so that he'll sell you a drink when the song is over?

        What if you are on the concourse, out of view of the field? Can you keep walking? Can you continue to use the urinal if you hear the anthem through the bathroom doors?

        Is the most important part to "stand," or to be "at attention?" Because Kaepernick, and most who have knelt since, broke only one of these quasi-rules.

        Many — including the president, most pointedly — have criticized the N.F.L. for creating the debate by not requiring players to stand at attention. Others suggest that the flap would not have arisen had the N.F.L. not required teams to be on the field for the anthem, a mandate that began in 2009.

        The sports world's trend toward big productions often overwhelms out the nobility and solemnity of the anthem. For example, the code also says that the flag "should never be carried flat or horizontally." The code does not specify if it is appropriate for a flag 100 yards long to be held parallel to the ground, or shaken by the people holding it when the anthem gets to lyric "that star-spangled banner yet wave," and then wadded up hastily to make way for a game about to start.

        The code states that the flag should not be worn as a costume, but "a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, fire fighters, police officers, and members of patriotic organizations." The N.F.L., apparently, has deemed itself one of those, as U.S. flag decals adorning the back of player helmets.

        It can be hard to know what counts as right anymore, and opinions are about as numerous as fans themselves. Some Jets fans at MetLife Stadium Stadium wore green T-shirts reading "I stand for the national anthem." Plenty of others around the nation wore replicas of Kaepernick's No. 7 with the 49ers.

        In Baltimore, fans and players mostly stood in solemn respect during the anthem. Before it started, however, the Ravens knelt together to pray for "kindness, unity, equality and justice for all Americans."

        The players were booed by fans — those who were not making a last-minute stop for the bathroom or a beer, at least, before kickoff.



        5) Thousands Rally in Dublin Against Ireland's Abortion Ban

        By Megan Specia, September 30, 2017


        Thousands of people marched in Dublin on Saturday to demand an end to the country's constitutional ban on abortion, one of the strictest such laws in the Western world.

        The March for Choice is an annual protest against the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which enshrines a ban on abortions, but this year it was held just days after the government announced it would hold a referendum next year that could potentially change the law.

        Saturday's rally in Ireland's capital drew demonstrators from across the country and led to solidarity events in several British cities. Crowds marched through the streets chanting slogans like "Get your rosaries off my ovaries" — a reference to the historical influence of the Roman Catholic Church on the country's laws.

        An Irish Times report estimated that 30,000 people took part. Counterdemonstrators, in small numbers, handed out fliers.

        Leo Varadkar, Ireland's prime minister, announced Tuesday that a referendum would be held in 2018 on whether to legalize abortion, at least in some circumstances. The wording of the referendum has yet to be determined, leaving uncertainty over how far it would go in overturning the restrictions.

        The Eighth Amendment, passed in 1983, gives an unborn child a right to life equal to that of its mother. At the time, Ireland was seen as one of the most conservative Catholic nations in the world, but a series of church scandals and growing secularism have the country rethinking many of its government's positions. The United Nations has called the amendment a violation of women's rights.

        Thousands of Irish women travel to Britain annually for abortions.

        In Ireland, abortions are allowed only when the life of the mother is at risk, though critics say heavy penalties and a lack of clarity around the law pose risks for pregnant women.

        The death in 2012 of Savita Halappanavar, a dentist who was 17 weeks pregnant, both reignited the debate and galvanized a new generation of abortions rights advocates. Doctors at a hospital in Galway refused to terminate her pregnancy while she was having a miscarriage. She died of septicemia.

        Heather Browning, 27, who attended Saturday's march, said conversations about abortion had become more commonplace in recent years.

        "It has kind of been changing for a while. It's become a much more mainstream thing to talk about," said Ms. Browning, who described a relaxed atmosphere at Saturday's event. "The referendum has kind of encouraged people to come out."

        Lisa Byrne, a 30-year-old from Dublin who also attended the march, said the campaign had evolved from a small group of mostly female activists to a more diverse group.

        "It isn't just young women in their 20s with trendy haircuts out here. It's everyone," Ms. Byrne said in a telephone interview. "I just saw a group of lads on their own, no women with them, who were marching together. You wouldn't have seen that years ago."

        Ms. Byrne plans to vote in the 2018 referendum but fears a full repeal of the ban might not be on the table.

        While comparisons have been made to Ireland's 2015 referendum legalizing same-sex marriage, abortion rights advocates believe this issue will be more contentious.

        "I think with the marriage equality, it was something that no one was scared to speak out on, but this is a very personal thing that people are more hesitant to speak about," Ms. Byrne said. "That is not just an Irish thing, it's international."



        6)  As Seas Warm, Whales Face New Dangers

         OCT. 2, 2017




        MOUNT DESERT ROCK, Me. — From the top of the six-story lighthouse, water stretches beyond the horizon in every direction. A foghorn bleats twice at 22-second intervals, interrupting the endless chatter of herring gulls.

        At least twice a day, beginning shortly after dawn, researchers climb steps and ladders and crawl through a modest glass doorway to scan the surrounding sea, looking for the distinctive spout of a whale.

        This chunk of rock, about 25 nautical miles from Bar Harbor, is part of a global effort to track and learn more about one of the sea's most majestic and endangered creatures. So far this year, the small number of sightings here have underscored the growing perils along the East Coast to both humpback whales and North Atlantic right whales.

        This past summer, the numbers of humpback whales identified from the rock were abysmal — the team saw only eight instead of the usual dozens. Fifty-three humpbacks have died in the last 19 months, many after colliding with boats or fishing gear.

        Scientists worry that the humpbacks may have been forced elsewhere in a search for food as the seas grow rapidly warmer and their feeding grounds are disturbed.

        "Food is becoming more patchy and less reliable, so animals are moving around more," said Scott Kraus, vice president and chief scientist at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium. "The more you move around, the higher the chance of entanglements."

        The North Atlantic right whales, which prefer colder waters, are also on a changed course — with even more dire consequences. Fifteen of the animals have died since mid-April in a population that has now slipped to fewer than 450.

        "We haven't seen this level of mortality in right whales since we stopped whaling them" in coastal New England in the 1700s, said Dr. Kraus.

        The aquarium maintains a catalog of images of North Atlantic right whales, in part to track their population levels. The pictures, spanning decades, are crucial to understanding these elusive leviathans..

        From the office computer in Mount Desert Rock's only house, researchers use 36,000 images depicting some 9,500 animals to track whales. It was on this island in the 1970s that scientists first confirmed that each whale's fluke pattern is unique. A humpback's tail is an unchanging signature and as distinctive as a face — except if it's been struck by a ship, bitten by a shark or slashed by a fisherman's gear.

        Digital algorithms make identifications a little easier, dividing the photos into categories of fluke patterns, mainly by determining how much of the tail is white or black. But researchers, including Lindsey Jones, a graduate student at the College of the Atlantic, which runs the station, must still look through several thousand images one by one to match by eye.

        It should be possible to build a better algorithm, but no one in the small, dedicated field of whale research has the funding to pay for one.

        Luckily, some matches are easy. Researchers on the island see many Gulf of Maine whales often enough that they recognize them on sight.

        The high number of humpback deaths from January 2016 to Sept. 1 of this year led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare an "unusual mortality event." No one knows exactly what's going on, but the agency's investigations attributed half of the deaths to ship strikes.

        The Gulf of Maine is warming rapidly — at one of the fastest rates on earth — and the temperature change might be causing shifts along the food chain, said Dan DenDanto, station manager at Mount Desert Rock's Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station. As the whales follow food sources into new areas, they wander into the paths of ships and into fishing gear.

        Mr. DenDanto and several investigators with Allied Whale, a group affiliated with the College of the Atlantic, plan to begin a research project next year, analyzing bits of skin from humpbacks, collected using biopsy darts, to determine what the animals are eating and how that affects their health.

        Steven Katona, a co-founder of Allied Whale, was one of the first researchers to begin identifying whales here in the 1970s. Dr. Katona and his collaborators took pictures for the humpback whale catalog, which later confirmed their hunches that fluke patterns were consistent across a whale's lifetime.

        In 1975, they named one of the first North Atlantic humpbacks na00008, or Number 8. The whale has been spotted three times since: in Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence in the 1980s, off the coast of the Dominican Republic in 1993, and earlier this year off the coast of New Jersey.

        "We have only a handful of sightings of this whale, yet these link together the efforts of collaborators spanning much of the North Atlantic," Peter T. Stevick, a senior scientist with the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog, said in an email.

        The sightings occurred in four distinct humpback habitats, providing insights into where these giants feed, breed and migrate. Another sighting matched a whale in Brazil to one observed in Madagascar — a distance of about 6,500 miles — proving that an animal the length of a school bus can travel a quarter of the way around the world.

        The catalog has also allowed researchers to see that the whales breed at the edge of the Caribbean Sea, then fan out to traditional feeding areas, from the East Coast to Newfoundland, Labrador, Greenland and Iceland.

        Understanding the whales' behavior remains key to helping them survive in warming waters shared with fishermen and ships, said Judy Allen, associate director of Allied Whale.

        "These are animals that are difficult to study," Ms. Allen said. "They spend most of their lives underwater. We see a brief glimpse when they lift their tails out of the water and somebody happens to be there with a camera."

        Right whales are generally seen in the Gulf of Maine, the coast of the Canadian Maritimes and the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the summer. In the winter, pregnant females and others migrate along the Eastern Seaboard to the Southeast.

        They don't have distinctive flukes; their bodies are wider, and they're less graceful than their humpback cousins. So researchers identify them using the pattern of each animal's "callosity" — the roughened skin patches on their heads. Because these formations can only be seen from the top, scientists must use planes and boats to track them.

        Researchers based on Cape Cod begin flying in the winter months when right whales, which can grow as long as a five-story building, seek out food and social interaction in the waters off Massachusetts. The low-flying plane rides are so dangerous that scientists undergo "dunk training," learning to survive if the plane drops into the frigid sea, miles from shore.

        The North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog, managed by the New England Aquarium, includes images of 722 whales, chronicling the population since the early 1970s. The work has been particularly crucial this year, when there have been so many unexplained deaths.

        Twelve carcasses have turned up so far this year in Canada and three more in American waters; only five calves were born, as far as researchers can tell. The latest estimates, released by the New England Aquarium, put the population of North Atlantic right whales at 458 — but that was before this year's deaths, Dr. Kraus said.

        Flying 750 to 1,000 feet over the animals also allows researchers to check on their health, making sure they are not dragging fishing ropes or bearing new scars, said Charles "Stormy" Mayo, director of the Right Whale Ecology Program at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass.

        Right whales are baleen whales, so they filter feed, supporting their 70-ton weight — nearly as much as the Space Shuttle — solely with microscopic animals called zooplankton. That search can push whales into shipping lanes, where the animals are sometimes struck, or into the gear of fishing boats.

        Despite federal protection efforts, about 80 percent of right whales bear scars from past entanglements or ship strikes. "They are remarkably built for a life in an ocean, which unfortunately is changing," Dr. Mayo said. He worries that "they're not finding what they need where they ought to."

        "It's a perilous place to live, that's for sure," he added.

        Cape Cod Bay, one of the first places that right whales were hunted — eventually nearly to extinction — is now a favorite hangout.. After routinely seeing up to 100 per winter field season, researchers have cataloged 200 to 300 most years since 2009, Dr. Mayo said.

        Researchers at the Center for Coastal Studies are now trying to determine how plankton levels, temperature, currents, and salinity might affect the whales' movements.

        It's not even clear how right whales find their food. Christy Hudak, a research associate at the center, said she thinks the whales probably use a combination of senses.

        Amateurs also participate in whale catalogs, both to help researchers and for their own pleasure.

        Gale McCullough of Hancock, Me., has set up a Flickr page and one on Facebook where people can post sightings and share their love of whales.

        "It's important for people to see that [each whale] is an individual with a life history and a group of offspring, like us," Ms. McCullough said.

        Another dedicated amateur, Ted Cheeseman, also maintains an online public catalog of humpback sightings, linking Allied Whale's database with others around the country.

        He lets people know when a whale they once photographed has been sighted again. In the two years he's been collecting images, 1,400 people have submitted more than 60,000 shots of more than 10,000 identifiable whales.

        "The vision is that it becomes a regular thing that people understand these whales are out there, they are to be respected and valued and really appreciated," said Mr. Cheeseman, a wildlife photographer and safari company operator.

        "We've had a few cases of, 'Hey, this known whale is entangled.' People react very differently when it's 'my' whale."



        7)  Catalans Strike and Block Roads to Protest Vote Crackdown by Spain

        OCT. 3, 2017



        BARCELONA, Spain — Catalan protesters blocked dozens of roads across northeastern Spain on Tuesday as part of a strike called by separatists to condemn the Spanish police's crackdown on voters during an independence referendum over the weekend.

        Farmers used their tractors to cut off highways, and demonstrators shut down some of the main roads in Barcelona. The strike, which was backed by the regional government of Catalonia, also brought the subway system and bus network to a standstill starting at 9:30 a.m.

        The actions prompted the Spanish Interior Ministry to call an emergency meeting.

        The protests took place amid high tensions and widespread uncertainty after the highly disputed referendum on Sunday, which was carried out in defiance of the central government in Madrid and which touched off clashes between the Spanish police and citizens who were trying to cast their ballots.

        It was not clear, however, how widely the strike would be observed, in part because Spain's two main labor unions, which have argued that any such protest must be decided and coordinated nationwide, called on their Catalan members not to take part.

        Separatists have expressed hope that the strike would turn into a major street demonstration in central Barcelona later on Tuesday, and shopkeepers shuttered their establishments amid concerns about turmoil as people made their way to the heart of the city.

        Almost 900 people were wounded on Sunday, according to the Catalan authorities. The Spanish interior minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, said on Monday that dozens of police officers had also suffered injuries.

        The union representing officers of Spain's Guardia Civil, or military police, issued a statement on Tuesday warning that the situation for the Spanish police in Catalonia was similar to that in the Basque region in 1981, at the height of the killings by the separatist group ETA.

        Crowds of Catalans have surrounded hotels where Spanish police officers are staying, urging their immediate departure from the region, in line with a demand made on Monday by Carles Puigdemont, the separatist leader of Catalonia.

        The police union called on politicians in Madrid "not to give public opinion the feeling that there is no state." The Spanish authorities, the union added, should either "protect or withdraw" the officers from Catalonia.

        The street tensions and mounting pressure on the security forces came after Spanish police officials complained that the Mossos d'Esquadra, Catalonia's autonomous police force, had failed to follow Madrid's orders to close polling stations. Catalan television later showed Mossos officers and Catalan firefighters confronting the national police.

        The standoff is also escalating tensions between the central and regional governments.

        Mr. Puigdemont has said that the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is returning Spain to the authoritarianism of the former dictator, Gen. Francisco Franco.

        On Tuesday, Rafael Hernando, the parliamentary spokesman for Mr. Rajoy's governing Popular Party, said the Catalan strike was "clearly political, with Nazi" connotations in terms of indoctrinating Catalans into following a separatist ideology. Mr. Hernando told Spanish national radio that radical separatist politicians "are hoping to provoke deaths in Catalonia."

        There was uncertainty about whether Mr. Puigdemont would unilaterally declare Catalonia's independence, a move that would raise tensions even further.

        The Catalan government announced that the independence referendum had been approved by 90 percent of almost 2.3 million voters, but it said that it would await final returns before declaring the result official.

        The preliminary figures could not be independently confirmed, and further doubt will be cast on the meaningfulness of the result because the referendum was held without an agreed census — making it unclear how many people were entitled to vote — and because many people did not take part. Madrid had asked potential voters to boycott the referendum, calling it illegal.



        8)  Trump Lands in Puerto Rico After Complaining About Residents' Efforts in Storm 


        "In Puerto Rico, Mr. Trump's schedule will limit his exposure to the public. He will be briefed by local officials in a hangar at the Luis Muniz Air National Guard Base, then meet with storm victims at an undisclosed location, before heading to a Navy amphibious assault ship for meetings with the governors of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands." [Hey folks, look at him, he's scared sh--less!...BW]

        OCT. 3, 2017



        WASHINGTON — President Trump landed in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico on Tuesday morning, embarking on a politically sensitive visit that comes after an ugly spat between him and a local official over the adequacy of the federal government's response to Hurricane Maria.

        Mr. Trump, before leaving the White House on Tuesday, told reporters that the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, who had been sharply critical of the relief effort, was now mostly satisfied.

        "I think she's come back a long way," the president said. "I think it's now acknowledged what a great job we've done." He asserted that the relief effort was as competent as that in Texas or Florida, and he added, "It's actually a much tougher situation."

        Mr. Trump, however, repeated his earlier criticism that Puerto Ricans were not doing enough to help themselves. Despite the roads being cleared and communications being re-established, he said, truck drivers were not transporting enough supplies. "We need their truck drivers to start driving trucks," he said. "On a local level, they have to give us more help."

        On Saturday, after Ms. Cruz angrily disputed the Trump administration's assertion that the relief effort was going well, he said in a Twitter post that she had been instructed by Democrats to be "nasty to Trump," and added that Puerto Ricans "want everything to be done for them."

        White House officials have been nervous that if protesters greeted Mr. Trump, it might set him off again. As late as Monday afternoon, some aides were urging the president to delay the visit, which comes a day before he was scheduled to fly to Las Vegas to meet with law enforcement officials and victims of the mass shooting there.

        In Puerto Rico, Mr. Trump's schedule will limit his exposure to the public. He will be briefed by local officials in a hangar at the Luis Muniz Air National Guard Base, then meet with storm victims at an undisclosed location, before heading to a Navy amphibious assault ship for meetings with the governors of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

        The White House asked the governor of the Virgin Islands, Kenneth E. Mapp, to fly to Puerto Rico because of the logistical complications of having the president and his entourage travel to those islands, parts of which have been severely damaged.

        The president has gotten more comfortable with these visits, after traveling to Texas after Hurricane Harvey and Florida after Hurricane Irma. On Tuesday, he wore his now-familiar uniform: a blue windbreaker with the presidential seal and white baseball cap, emblazoned with the letters USA.

        Melania Trump, the first lady, accompanied the president, as she has on previous visits to storm-ravaged areas.

        Since the weekend, Mr. Trump has sharply scaled back his Twitter posts about the hurricanes or other potentially fraught issues. But speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he continued to emphasize the government's performance rather than the plight of the victims.

        "In Texas and in Florida, we get an A+," he said. "And I'll tell you what, I think we've done just as good in Puerto Rico."

        "The first responders, the military, FEMA — they have done an incredible job in Puerto Rico," Mr. Trump continued. "And whether it's her or anybody else," he said, referring to Mayor Cruz, "they're all starting to say it."



        9)  Tax Cuts, Sold as Fuel for Growth, Widen Gap Between Rich and Poor

        By Eduardo Porter, Oct. 3, 2017


        It is a little unsettling that the intellectual underpinning of tax policy in the United States today was jotted down on a napkin at the Two Continents Restaurant in Washington in December 1974.

        That was when, legend has it, Arthur Laffer, a young economist at the University of Chicago, deployed the sketch over dinner to convince Dick Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, aides to President Gerald R. Ford, that raising tax rates would reduce tax revenue by hampering growth.

        It was another economy. The top marginal income tax rate was 70 percent then. For three decades, just over 10 percent of the nation's income had gone to the 1 percent earning the most. Economists believed Simon Kuznets' proposition that though market forces would widen inequality at early stages of growth, further economic development would ultimately lead it to narrow. The paramount policy challenge of the day was how to raise productivity.

        To many economists, Mr. Laffer's basic argument that high taxes would at some point discourage effort and reduce growth made sense: Why work or invest more if the government will keep almost all the fruits of your troubles? Even Arthur M. Okun, who had President Lyndon B. Johnson's chief economic adviser, was writing about leaky buckets to illustrate a trade-off between efficiency and equity: Taxing the rich to pay for programs for the poor could slow growth down, in part by reducing the incentive of the rich to earn more.

        It is unclear whether reality ever followed Mr. Laffer's prescription. "In 1986 we dropped the top income tax rate from 50 to 28 percent and the corporate tax rate from 46 to 34 percent," said Bruce Bartlett, a policy adviser in the administration of President Ronald Reagan. "It's hard to imagine a bigger increase in incentives than that, and I can't remember any big boost to growth."

        Nonetheless, tax policy is today is still being driven by his decades-old argument, devised in an economy that looks nothing like today's.

        Today, 1 percent of the population is taking in more than 20 percent of the nation's income, twice as much as when the fateful dinner took place. Today's top marginal tax rate, 39.6 percent, is a little over half what it was then.

        Critically, how the pie is sliced has become as important as how to raise productivity further. Indeed, the questions are intertwined. Compelling new economic research suggests that in the economy in which we live, cutting taxes on the rich further won't just fail to foster growth, it could even make the economic pie smaller.

        The direct case against lower taxes on the rich was made most clearly a few years ago by the French economist Thomas Piketty — noted for his analysis of inequality trends over the centuries — and colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University.

        Looking at a set of industrialized countries from the 1970s until the years preceding the financial crisis, the economists found no meaningful correlation between cuts in top tax rates and economic growth. Big tax cutters like the United States did not grow faster than countries like Denmark, which kept taxes high. What did respond to lower taxes was inequality: The income share of the top 1 percent grew much more sharply among big tax cutters like the United States than in countries like France or Germany, where top tax rates changed little.

        The findings contradicted the basic proposition on Mr. Laffer's napkin. Indeed, they suggested an entirely different dynamic: Lower taxes did encourage executives and other top earners to raise their incomes, but not in ways that benefited the entire economy, like working and investing more. Instead, they were encouraged to manipulate the system in ways that, in fact, reduced the pie for everybody else, putting every decision at the service of increasing their pay.

        Think about tax avoidance or outright evasion — which simply hides money from the Treasury, reducing the government's ability to fund often critical programs, at no gain to the economy. But executives have been known to use other tricks — say, options backdating or earnings manipulation, or simply lobbying the compensation committee of their company's board, or putting corporate strategy at the service of the current quarter's earnings to give the share price a bump.

        Taking into account all the ways top earners respond to taxation, Mr. Piketty and colleagues suggested that the optimal top tax rate on the Americans with the highest incomes — the rate raising the most money for the government — could exceed 80 percent with no harm to growth. Loopholes would have to be closed to prevent avoidance, but only the mega-rich would lose out. From an economic perspective, soaking the rich would, in fact, do good.

        The argument that inequality matters little and redistribution mars economic success has always been suspect. In more unequal societies, the disadvantaged will have less access to many of the things that improve productivity, like education, health and the internet. Rising inequality can hamper consumption by weighing on the income of the middle class.

        Douglas W. Elmendorf, former head of the Congressional Budget Office and now dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, once said that to assess the macroeconomic impact of cutting taxes and spending, it is indispensable to assess which taxes are cut and what spending is affected. "Major changes to benefits for lower-income people could have notable effects on the economy by altering labor supply, and those effects could be an important criterion in evaluating such changes," he argued.

        In more unequal societies, the rich have more power to distort policy making to channel more of the fruits of growth in their direction by, say, cutting taxes and government spending that might improve productivity and growth. Politics becomes more polarized. And it becomes more difficult to recover from economic shocks: Citizens in unequal societies are less likely to buy government promises that sacrifice today will lead to gains tomorrow.

        "We have not paid enough attention to macro distributional influences," said Jonathan D. Ostry, deputy head of research at the International Monetary Fund, who has published groundbreaking research linking inequality and growth. "Even if you are only interested in the aggregate gains, you are forced to think about equity, because equity matters for the aggregate. The distribution might come back to bite you."

        Mr. Laffer may still be calling to cut tax rates, to provide an incentive for executives to earn even more. But tax policy today calls for a new napkin, one with a place for equity.



        10)  Trump Lobs Praise, and Paper Towels, to Puerto Rico Storm Victims

        OCT. 3, 2017



        WASHINGTON — President Trump ventured on Tuesday to a storm-ravaged American island territory where residents have felt neglected by their government, telling Puerto Rican officials that they should be proud that only 16 people were known to have died in Hurricane Maria.

        "Sixteen versus in the thousands," Mr. Trump said, comparing the storm's certified death toll to the 1,833 killed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, which he described as a "real catastrophe."

        "You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together," he said. "Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud."

        Shortly after Mr. Trump departed the island, Governor Ricardo Rosselló told a news conference in San Juan that deaths related to Hurricane Maria had risen to 34.

        Except for that sad adjustment, the trip marked a well-worn routine for a president on his fourth visit to a disaster zone in two months: a pep rally-like briefing with officials in an aircraft hangar, a quick drive past twisted houses and uprooted trees and a brief, friendly encounter with victims of the destruction.

        And like his earlier travels, it had its peculiar moments: He also gently tossed rolls of paper towels into a crowd that gathered to see him at Calvary Chapel, outside the island's capital, San Juan.

        This time, however, Mr. Trump flew into a different kind of turbulence. Over the weekend, the president lashed out at the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, after she complained that the federal response in Puerto Rico had fallen short of the responses in Texas and Florida. She was not mollified after meeting him.

        "The first part of the meeting was a public-relations situation," Ms. Cruz said in an interview with CNN about the briefing she attended with the president. While she said the White House staff was helpful and receptive, Mr. Trump's communications style sometimes "gets in the way."

        "I would hope that the president of the United States stops spouting out comments that really hurt the people of Puerto Rico," she said, "because, rather than commander in chief, he sort of becomes miscommunicator in chief."

        Mr. Trump greeted the mayor but did not invite her to speak, recognizing instead Mr. Rosselló, who the president said "did not play politics," and Puerto Rico's congressional representative, who lavishly applauded the administration's performance.

        "Thank you, Mr. President, for all you have been doing for the island," said Jenniffer González-Colón, the territory's nonvoting representative, who declared that Washington had sent everything Puerto Rico needed.

        "You were really generous," Mr. Trump replied. "It's so important when you have men and women that have worked so hard and so long, and many of them came from two other catastrophic hurricanes."

        The president then went around the briefing table, praising the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, military commanders and a half-dozen members of his cabinet who accompanied him to Puerto Rico — which was already facing about $74 billion in debt even before the hurricane hit.

        In singling out Mick Mulvaney, his budget director, Mr. Trump said, "I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack." Looking around the room for his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, who was standing in the back, Mr. Trump said, "Boy, is he watching."

        Before leaving the White House on Tuesday, Mr. Trump told reporters he believed Ms. Cruz was now mostly satisfied.

        "I think she's come back a long way," he said. "I think it's now acknowledged what a great job we've done." He asserted that the relief effort was as effective as those in Texas and Florida, and he added, "It's actually a much tougher situation."

        Mr. Trump, however, repeated his earlier criticism that some Puerto Ricans were not doing enough to help themselves. Despite the roads being cleared and communications being re-established, he said, truck drivers were not transporting enough supplies. "We need their truck drivers to start driving trucks," he said. "On a local level, they have to give us more help."

        On Saturday, after Ms. Cruz angrily disputed the administration's assertion that the relief effort was going well, the president fired back in a Twitter post that she had been instructed by Democrats to be "nasty to Trump," and added that Puerto Ricans "want everything to be done for them."

        White House officials were nervous that Mr. Trump would be set off again if he were greeted by protesters in Puerto Rico. As late as Monday afternoon, some aides were urging the president to delay the visit, which came a day before he was scheduled to fly to Las Vegas to meet with law enforcement officials and victims of Sunday's mass shootingthere.

        There were a few other signs of discontent on Tuesday. As Mr. Trump's motorcade drove from an air base to a church — passing hundreds of downed trees — it also passed a woman clutching a placard that said, "You are a bad hombre," according to a pool report.

        Sitting in a traffic jam near the San Juan airport before the arrival of Air Force One, a resident, Jaime Vega, disputed Mr. Trump's claim that Puerto Ricans should be doing more to help their own recovery. "We are doing," he said. "It's only now that they are doing something."

        "Let him come so he can see what there really is, and so nobody can tell him made-up stories," said Mr. Vega, an accountant.

        Outside a bar in the Santurce neighborhood of San Juan, an hour after Air Force One departed Tuesday afternoon, people debated what Mr. Trump's visit might have accomplished.

        "He was just measuring Puerto Rico by the amount of dead compared to Katrina," said José Tormos, 62, an employee of the local government in Guaynabo. "FEMA's response has been too slow."

        Even before the death toll was increased on Tuesday evening, others noted that the actual number of people killed by Hurricane Maria may rise significantly, given that the earlier, certified tally was outdated and that the island government's record-keeping ability has been damaged by the storm. Mr. Rosselló said 19 of the total 34 deaths so far were directly related to the storm, like drownings. The others included electrical failures of oxygen tanks, suicides and natural causes like heart attacks, he said.

        Marlene Martinez, 51, an accountant, said, "It's just an example of how we're treated like second-class citizens."

        Others were more concerned about the reconstruction of the island and their own precarious situations than Mr. Trump's comments.

        "The people of Puerto Rico don't care whether Trump is the god or the devil," said Edgardo Tormos, 58. "This is about the recovery of Puerto Rico."

        Still, others seemed happy just to have the president in their midst. In a 20-minute visit to Calvary Chapel, an English-speaking evangelical church that has become a collection center for supplies, Mr. Trump shook hands, took selfies and offered encouragement in the chapel's sanctuary.

        "For us, it's really nothing political," said Naitsa Marrero, an administrative assistant who helped organize the stop. "Puerto Rico needs help, and often this type of thing sheds light on what's happening here — a crisis."

        Jason Dennett, the church's pastor, said he welcomed the idea of a visit when the Secret Service contacted him five days ago. "He offered his help to the people of Puerto Rico," Mr. Dennett said. "He said he was here to help and that the support would continue."

        Mr. Trump boarded a Navy amphibious assault ship for meetings with the governors of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. The White House asked the Virgin Islands's governor, Kenneth E. Mapp, to fly to Puerto Rico because of the logistical complications of flying the president to those islands, parts of which have been severely damaged.

        Still, Mr. Mapp told him, "because of your commitment, Mr. President, we're talking about opening schools and welcoming cruise ships back."

        Mr. Trump has gotten used to being a kind of second responder, having traveled to Texas and Florida after two other hurricanes over the past two months. Since the weekend, Mr. Trump has sharply scaled back his Twitter posts about the hurricanes or other potentially charged issues.

        But speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he continued to emphasize the government's performance rather than the plight of the victims.

        "In Texas and in Florida, we get an A-plus," Mr. Trump said. "And I'll tell you what, I think we've done just as good in Puerto Rico."



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

        OCT. 3, 2017




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

        OCT. 3, 2017




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




































































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