Addicted to War:

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


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

Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:

Love this guy!




Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










Standing Rock raised the stakes for the global environmental and indigenous rights movements. Now, another victory. A North Dakota judge has ruled that my legal team is entitled to substantially more evidence from the North Dakota State Prosecutor's office than has been forthcoming in other water protector cases. We will be able to take sworn testimony and demand documents from Energy Transfer Partners and their private, militarized security firm, TigerSwan.

The timing on this ruling is important for all environmental protectors. 84 members of Congress—nearly all Republicans—recently sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions encouraging him to invoke the domestic terrorism statute to prosecute fossil fuel protesters. These attacks on our fundamental constitutional rights, spearheaded by Donald Trump and parroted by congressional shills of Big Oil, should deeply concern all citizens who value our right to speak freely and demonstrate.

Our team has produced a new video that explains how I was singled out and targeted—and the justification for our bold legal strategy to expose the illegal and immoral wedding of the fossil fuel industry, law enforcement, and militarized private security forces. You'll see why I took action on behalf of my people, millions of others downstream, and Unci Maka—Grandmother Earth. Please watch it, and share it widely.

Share on Facebook

Don't lose sight of what Standing Rock means. My tribe—one of the poorest communities in the nation—won't stop leading the struggles to protect the earth and freedom of expression. Continue to stand with me, my courageous fellow defendant HolyElk Lafferty, and hundreds of others being represented by our ally organization, the Water Protector Legal Collective. Our fight is your fight—and it is nothing less than the movement to protect freedom and the earth for future generations.

Wopila—I thank you.

Chase Iron Eyes

Lakota People's Law Project Lead Counsel

Lakota People's Law Project

547 South 7th Street #149

Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

United States







Down with US imperialism! Ban Trump! 

US troops out of the Philippines! | Nov 12-14, 2017

(see MANIFESTO below) 

US President Donald Trump will be visiting the Philippines between November 12-14, 2017 for the first time. It will be one of many stops Trump has planned for his Asia Pacific tour as he participates in the Association of South East Asian Nations' East Asia Summit (EAS), where leaders from 18 countries will be present- including China and Russia, US imperialism's two main competitors-to discuss their plans for expanding neoliberal globalization and domination of the region. Underneath the summit table are trade wars, the US military pivot to Asia, aggressive expansion of China, warmongering on the Korean Peninsula, growing territorial tensions the East and South China Sea, and other local and regional issues.

To assert its own hegemony and contain China's expansion, total defense spending of the U.S. in the  Asia-Pacific is forecast to hit US$533 billion per year by the end of the decade, up from US$435 billion in 2015. The region will likely account for one in every three dollars spent on defense by the early 2020s.

Meanwhile, embattled Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will host the East Asia Summit as he chairs the ASEAN on its 50th year. Amidst his fascist wars on the poor, martial law in Mindanao, and extra-judicial killings, Duterte will play out his precarious balancing act in foreign diplomacy, which to-date has amounted to placating to foreign interests including the U.S. and China. This is a time to voice out the people's concerns - on the world stage. This is a time for international solidarity.

This is the time to say: Resist U.S. wars! Build peace!

Join the international Call to Action against Trump's visit to the Philippines and Asia Pacific region, the neo-liberal agenda of the ASEAN and EAS, and towards building a movement of all people who support Philippine liberation and struggle for genuine independence from US imperialism! We say US GTFO of the Philippines!


  • Have your organization ENDORSE these days of actions by filling out this FORM 
  • SIGN ON to the Unity Statement against Trump in the Philippines! (forthcoming)
  • DONATE to BAYAN's People's Caravan and Protest actions to confront Trump at Clark Airbase. They will need to buy tents, sleeping bags, etc. as they camp-out along the 2-day caravan. You can Venmo @BAYANUSA or donate to BAYAN USA
  • JOIN the Resist US-Led War Movement by signing on to the Manifesto 
  • TAKE ACTION in the streets confronting the US military & economic pivot! 




APIENC (API Equality - Northern California)

Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)


Asians 4 Black Lives

Association American Studies Graduate Student Association (UCLA AASGSA)

Catalyst Project

Chinatown Community for Equitable Development

Diwang Kabataan Tri City

Eclipse Rising

Filipino Advocates for Justice

Forward Together


The General Union of Palestine Students

Haiti Action Committee

HOBAK (Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans)

International Action Center

Korean Peace Alliance

MECHA at San Francisco State University 

Migrante SoCal

National Lawyer's Guild - SF Chapter

National Ecumenical-Interfaith Forum for Filipino Concerns

National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) - NorCal

Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)

NJ State Industrial Union Council

The Oakland Law Collaborative


Students for Alternatives to Militarism- Stanford

Stanford Pilipino American Student Union

Stanford Asian American Activism Committee (SAAAC)

Students for Quality Education (SFSU)

Support committee for Korean prisoners of conscience in US

Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

Socialist Action- Oakland


The League of Filipino Students- SFSU

The United People of Color Caucus of the NLG, SF Bay Area Chapter

Undoing Racism committee NJCU

Viet Unity LA

Workers World Party

Xicana Moratorium Coalition




The following was drafted at the Solidarity and Fightback: Resisting US-led War, Militarism, and Neo-fascism conference at the University of Toronto on August 7, 2017. The conference gathered over 250 peace activists from 21 countries. The manifesto, however, aims to go beyond the conference participants towards a broader movement for peace based on justice worldwide by calling for greater coordination and cooperation of mass actions.

To sign onto this manifesto, click HERE


All around the world exploited and subjugated nations and peoples are rising up against the tides of war, militarism and neo-fascism brought about by the crisis endemic to the global capitalist system.

This is US monopoly capital and the rest of the monopoly capitalist system in decay.

Every hour, workers in the factories and workplaces, farmers and peasants in the fields and plantations are being killed. Women and girls are degraded by systemic rape culture as a tool of war. Natural resources and the environment are plundered and destroyed. Families are displaced by wars. Villages and cities are hit with bombs and missiles. Hospitals, schools, places of worship and other public centers are being occupied and wiped out. Mothers and fathers lay their bodies to shield their children from bombs and airstrikes. Indigenous peoples and other oppressed nations face discrimination, genocide and displacement from corporate plunder and extractivism. Youth, people of color, LGBT, women and the poor are preyed upon and recruited to fight and perish in these wars at the behest of corporations as well as face increasing brutalization, mass incarceration, and racism by the militarized police state in their home countries. The whole world is threatened by the nuclear arsenal, chemical weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction of the United States.

Peoples resistance and struggles for liberation DO NOT CEASE to proliferate in all corners of the globe, fighting for life, livelihood, sovereignty, peace, justice, and dignity. Peoples are also self-determining their forms of resistance and paths for liberation.

There remains an urgency to find bases of unity across cities, countries, and global regions impacted by imperialist war, militarism, and neo-fascism.

There is an urgency to amplify our calls and multiply our collective actions to

RESIST US-LED WAR and militarism, including the withdrawal of US military troops, occupation, bases, war games and exercises in West Asia, Africa, East, Central and South Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, and East Europe. Resist US-NATO, AFRICOM and CIA counterinsurgency operations, proxy wars, and other forms of covert intervention. Fight Zionism, apartheid, and systemic racism. Fight against the US military-industrial complex, including divestment from the hundreds of billions spent on war and militarization and redirecting of public funds towards peoples needs, development, and infrastructure.  

BUILD JUST PEACE through justice, social equity, and solidarity amongst peoples, including the recognition of the right to self-determination, economic, and food sovereignty, and self-defense of nations and oppressed peoples from reactionary aggression and violence. Build peace through genuine sustainable development, job creation, and the health and well being of our communities.

Resist Imperialist War! Build Peace! Long Live International Solidarity!


Organizational Signers

International League of People's Struggle

International Women's Alliance

Asia-Pacific Research Network

International Migrant's Alliance

Network Against Famine and War

United National Anti-War Coalition

Ban The Bases Network

Viet Unity

About Face

International Action Center

Individual Signers

Rania Masri







Labor Studies and Radical History

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




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

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

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


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

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



Prison Radio UPDATE:

Please sign this petition:

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


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

Phone: 215-686-8000

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

Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

OPEN the files. Justice Now!



Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?

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

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

A Book Review by Robert Fantina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Journal of Books, July 2017





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


Petitioning Denver FBI & US Department of Justice

Stop Slavery in Colorado

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign then share this petition at: 






Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director




To give by check: 

PO Box 411074

San Francisco, CA


Stock or legacy gifts:

Noelle Hanrahan

(415) 706 - 5222



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




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

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

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

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

Press Conference Details

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


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


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

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

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




stand with reality winner

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

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

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

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

What is this really about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

standwithreality.org ~ facebook.com/standwithreality



When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression


When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression


Mothers Message to the NY/NJ Activist Community 

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

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

"What We Want, What We Need" 

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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













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

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



MAJOR TILLERY: Still Rumbling!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How You Can Help

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

Go to PayPal

Go to JPay.com;

code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

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

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

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

Tell Philadelphia District Attorney:

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

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

Write to:

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

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

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

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




Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

Sign the Petition:


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

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

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

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

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

Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,

James Clark

Senior Death Penalty Campaigner

Amnesty International USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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










    1)  Puerto Rico's Second-Class Treatment on Food Aid

     NOV. 9, 2017





    Of all Puerto Rico's continuing miseries seven weeks after Hurricane Maria's devastation, the most blatantly unjust is that islanders have been denied the more generous and swifter food relief distributed to storm victims this year in Texas and Florida under the emergency food stamp program.

    Yes, both the island and mainland victims are United States citizens. But not all citizens are created equal: A 35-year-old congressional budget cap on Puerto Rico's food stamp program has limited the amount of disaster aid immediately available. Texas and Florida have no such federal restraints and were able to quickly increase food stamp help in the face of the hurricane damage last summer.

    It is hard to argue with Puerto Rican officials pointing to the disparity as painful evidence of a colonial second-class status suffered by citizens of this American territory, citizens who lack political clout, voting representation in Congress or a say in who's in the White House.

    Puerto Rico already was fighting bankruptcy before the hurricane hit. Since then, nearly 60 percent of the island's power generation remains offline, its tourist and farming economies have been crippled and 100,000 of its 3.4 million residents joined a growing exodus to the mainland (where they at least will gain full federal voting rights). It will take months more to install temporary tarps on the roofs of tens of thousands of ruined houses and import more than 50,000 utility power poles and 6,500 miles of cable. There is also disturbing evidence, as Frances Robles reported in The Times, that the lack of power may be killing the very sick and the very old in overheated hospitals and nursing homes. Officials say 472 more people died this September compared with the same month last year.

    The head of the island's financial oversight panel appointed by Congress warned this week that recovery will fail without "an unprecedented scale" of emergency funds from the federal government — tens of billions of dollars to restore housing, water and electric power, and to repair infrastructure.

    Food stamp aid was particularly needed in the weeks right after the disaster. But Puerto Rican officials were hobbled in offering emergency increases both to needy families already receiving aid and to others plunged into temporary need by the hurricane's destruction. Unlike the states, the island cannot resort to the disaster relief section of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — the formal name of the food stamp program — even though all of the island was designated as a federal disaster area.

    Such a one-time emergency disbursement would have averaged $478, twice the normal monthly benefit for food stamp families, according to The Washington Post. But congressional leaders contended in 1982 that the island's reliance on food stamps was excessive and instituted a separate, tighter block grant system for Puerto Rico. It is capped this year at $1.9 billion, and has already been depleted.

    As the island continues to reel, the hope is that $1.27 billion for two years of extra food stamp funding will eventually arrive under a relief package signed last month by President Trump. It would have been far better for island residents if this aid had been on tap as soon as the disaster hit, as it was in Florida and Texas. In Florida, $1.2 billion was spent on emergency food stamp help after Hurricane Irma.

    President Trump is probably no more interested in this than he's been in any of the island's problems. " … We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!" he tweeted a month ago. You know who must feel like it's been forever? Hungry Puerto Ricans.



    2) A Tax Loophole for the Rich That Just Won't Die

    By   NOV. 9, 2017




    Representative Kevin Brady, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said this week that he would seek to extend the holding period for assets that qualified for the carried interest tax break.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times 

    After the billionaire investor Warren Buffett exposed the unfairness of a federal tax code that assessed his secretary at a higher rate than him, it was hard to imagine a tax reform plan that would be even less fair.

    House Republicans have come up with one.

    That's not because the plan indiscriminately favors the rich. It's because to a degree unprecedented in American tax history, it favors the investor class, Mr. Buffett prominent among them, at the expense of people who work for a living, like his secretary.

    It favors Donald Trump and his fellow real estate developers and investors, who already benefit from numerous loopholes in the tax code.

    "I wouldn't call this tax reform," said Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

    There is no more glaring example of the House Republicans' indifference to the inequities embedded in the tax code than the treatment of so-called carried interest. For decades, the carried interest provision has enabled wealthy private equity managers, hedge fund managers and real estate investors to pay the lower capital gains rate (20 percent, not counting the Obama health care surcharge of 3.8 percent) on their income rather than the rate on ordinary income (a maximum of 39.6 percent).

    The former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was excoriated for taking advantage of the loophole in 2012, and as a candidate Mr. Trump repeatedly promised to close it.

    "The hedge fund guys didn't build this country," Mr. Trump said in 2015. "These are guys that shift paper around, and they get lucky."

    "They are energetic," he added. "They are very smart. But a lot of them — it's like, they are paper pushers. They make a fortune. They pay no tax. It's ridiculous, O.K.?"

    Yet in the House plan unveiled last week, and in the Senate plan released Thursday, the carried interest loophole emerged unscathed.

    The proposed legislation "is a home run for private equity investors," said Victor Fleischer, a law professor at the University of San Diego who has spent years arguing (persuasively, in my view) that the loophole should be closed. "If you were designing something that perfectly avoids hitting private equity, venture capital and real estate, this would be it." (Mr. Fleischer is also a contributor to The New York Times.)

    This week, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, said he would address concerns about the loophole by seeking to extend the holding period for assets that qualified for the tax break from one year to three years. That's better than doing nothing, and might affect some hedge funds. But they could easily qualify simply by holding the assets for more than three years.

    Mr. Brady's tweak would have no impact at all on most private equity managers, who typically buy companies, restructure and refinance them, and then sell them, usually after seven to 10 years. Most real estate partnerships have similar holding periods. And Mr. Brady said explicitly that the revision would preserve the carried interest provision for real estate interests.

    "The amendment will encourage and reward long-term investment while also applying equally to all sources of growth capital — no matter if that investment is provided by hedge funds, private equity, venture capital or otherwise," Shane McDonald, a spokesman for Mr. Brady, told me. "By providing a three-year holding period on certain assets, this amendment strikes the right balance for economic growth and fairness without stifling investment in American entrepreneurship."

    But the primary argument against the carried interest loophole isn't that those who benefit from it don't hold their assets long enough. It's that the "carry" — the percentage of an investment's gains that the manager takes as compensation — should be treated as a payment for services and taxed like regular income, and not be viewed as a return on invested capital, in which the manager has put assets at risk.

    "The real issue is that carried interest is compensation for services performed for the investment fund," Mr. Fleischer said. "The theory behind the Republican plan is that somehow, holding something for a longer period of time makes it more like a financial investment. But why would that be the case?

    "If you write a book, and it takes three or four years before you earn a royalty, that doesn't make the income a capital gain," he continued. "If a movie takes three years to generate a return, that doesn't make it a capital gain. There's no reason why financial services should be any different."

    Proponents of the loophole, most of whom benefit from it one way or another, have long argued that the lower tax rate encourages risk taking and hence economic growth, an argument that Republican lawmakers appear to have embraced.

    But there's little empirical support for the position.

    Mr. Fleischer argues that the proposed tax bill — by slashing the corporate and pass-through tax rates and preserving the lower rate for capital gains — already heavily favors risk taking and investment.

    "We don't need to further subsidize people who go to work in this sector by giving them a lower tax rate," he said. "There's no shortage of people who want to go into private equity and earn millions or billions of dollars."

    The rationale, he said, "is absurd."

    That the carried interest provision survived, despite Mr. Trump's campaign statements and populist hostility to it, appears to be a testament to the enduring influence that Wall Street and wealthy investors exert over both the White House and Congress.

    Some of Mr. Trump's most prominent backers and donors come from the world of private equity, hedge funds and real estate partnerships, among them Stephen A. Schwarzman, chief executive of the powerhouse firm Blackstone; Wilbur Ross, the former private equity executive who is now secretary of commerce; Thomas J. Barrack, Jr., executive chairman of Colony Northstar, a real estate investment trust, and chairman of the president's inauguration committee; Betsy DeVos, a co-founder of the Windquest Group and now secretary of education; and Stephen A. Feinberg, a co-founder of Cerberus CapitalManagement and a Trump donor and adviser. And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Mr. Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, are prominent alumni of Goldman Sachs, which has a range of hedge fund and private equity clients.

    More broadly, preserving the break for carried interest fits into the overarching theme of the Republican tax plan: that what is good for investors is good for economic growth, which in turn is good for everyone, including the working poor. That's why the proposed code is tilted so heavily toward investors rather than people who earn salaries or compensation for services rendered.

    That's also why it's imprecise to say the proposed code benefits the "rich." While most rich people are also investors, and thus will benefit disproportionately, not all rich people will benefit. People with high incomes generated primarily by their own labor or services may actually see their federal tax increase, especially if they lose their deductions for state and local taxes. The proposed code specifically names lawyers, doctors, athletes and performers — all of whom work for a living — as ineligible for the lower pass-through rate.

    The plan "is a tax increase on the working upper middle class and the rich in states like California, New York and New Jersey in order to benefit the people who own pass-through entities and are shareholders," Mr. Fleischer said.

    Tax reform advocates generally agree that a fair code shouldn't single out certain groups for favorable treatment at the expense of others. There is already widespread resentment that ultrarich investment managers pay such low rates — nowhere near the top 39.6 percent rate.

    Closing the loophole may promote fairness, but it wouldn't do much to help the overall budget deficit. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that eliminating it would generate $17 billion over 10 years, a drop in the bucket given that Republicans have been trying to close a budget gap in the trillions. Mr. Fleischer contends that the figure is much higher, more like $180 billion over 10 years. Even that is a modest down payment on the larger cuts the tax plan calls for.

    But as a symbol, the carried interest loophole looms large, calling into question the fairness of the entire proposed tax code. That's a shame, since large elements of the proposal have widespread bipartisan support. (Even former President Barack Obama agreed that the corporate tax rate needed to be lowered for the United States to be competitive.)

    There's still a chance that lawmakers will eliminate the loophole as the bill moves through Congress.

    Mr. Rosenthal said he wasn't holding his breath. Republicans seem to be gambling that most Americans won't care about a few rich private equity managers if their own taxes go down, their stock portfolio goes up and economic growth accelerates. "I don't think most Republicans really care about carried interest," he said.



    3) Puerto Rico Power Line Fails; Darkness Returns to San Juan

     NOV. 9, 2017



    A main power line failed Thursday in Puerto Rico, plunging several cities, including San Juan, into darkness. CreditDennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The New York Times 

    SAN JUAN, P.R. — A main power line that serves the northern half of Puerto Rico failed Thursday, knocking out electricity to seven cities that had only recently regained service and dealing a major setback to the island's desperate efforts to regain normality.

    Seven weeks after Hurricane Maria completely disabled Puerto Rico's power grid, the island was generating just 18 percent of its electrical capacity, returning service to where it had been two and half weeks ago. On Thursday morning, the island had been at about 43.2 percent of capacity.

    The disruption also meant that many people no longer had running water, because pumping stations are powered by electricity.

    "We're all in the dark," said Maritza Cuprill, 54, a property manager whose San Juan condominium got its power back a week ago, only to lose it again on Thursday. "I was in Walgreens and everything suddenly went pitch black. The first thing I thought of was my vehicle: I filled up the tank for just in case. That was devastating when we had to wait in lines for five, six and seven hours."

    Ms. Cuprill was not worried about any food purchases: she had not been foolhardy enough to buy perishables. Many areas where the power had returned had suffered continuous glitches, damaging appliances and fraying nerves.

    "I buy food every day," Ms. Cuprill said. "I don't trust what they say. They say the power will be back in 19 hours. I will believe that when I see it."

    In a statement Thursday afternoon, the Puerto Rican government said that workers had made progress toward the repairs and that equipment was being put in place to restore the service.

    "We have maximum interest in resolving this and energizing the metropolitan area again," Justo González, director of generation for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, said in a Facebook Live video. "We will be resolving this problem soon."

    Mr. González said the electric company, known as Prepa, would focus first on bringing the lights back to hospitals, airports, fire stations and areas that are crucial to the economy. He said the most affected areas were in the San Juan metropolitan area, including the cities of Vega Baja, Arecibo, Barceloneta, Manatí, Bayamón, San Juan and areas near Canóvanas.

    The power failure was the latest blow for Puerto Rico's beleaguered and bankrupt power company, which has been criticized for awarding a small Montana firm a $300 million contract to fix power lines that included highly unusual clauses that prohibited any audits. Several congressional committees are investigating the deal, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has vowed not to pay for it.

    The government was forced to cancel the contract, and the company, Whitefish Energy Holdings, is scheduled to leave at the end of the month. A spokesman for the company said none of the issues concerning the power failure were related to repairs that Whitefish had performed.

    "Puerto Rico is not rising," Rosita Aponte, who owns a pharmacy in Caguas, said, referring to a popular slogan #PuertoRicoSeLevanta. "When it does rise, it will be empty, because all of the small-business owners will have left."

    Ms. Aponte said the lights went out en masse to all the businesses on her strip.

    "We can't take this anymore," she said. "I have spent $8,000 on broken generators. At this point, 50 days into this, everyone has a broken generator. You are not supposed to be living on these things."



    4) Are Honey Nut Cheerios Healthy? We Look Inside the Box


    Bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios. The serving size for the cereal has shrunk, and with it the stated sugar content. CreditJens Mortensen for The New York Times

    I had a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios recently. It'd been awhile. Regular Cheerios are more my thing. But sometimes I finish my box faster than my kids do and find myself straying to their side of the cupboard.

    Honey Nut is America's best-selling breakfast cereal, and by a comfortable margin. Roughly 151 million boxes and other containers of various sizes were sold over the past year, well ahead of the second best-selling breakfast cereal, Frosted Flakes, according to IRI, a Chicago based market research firm.

    I had no idea. The only thing I could think about when I ate it again for the first time in years was how incredibly sweet it is. I looked at the back of the box and could see why. Three of the top six ingredients are sweeteners: sugar, brown sugar and honey.

    Previously, I assumed Honey Nut Cheerios was a slightly sweeter Cheerios, but you learn things when you finally get around to reading the back of the box. It actually has about nine times as much sugar as plain Cheerios, per serving. An Environmental Working Group analysisof a number of popular cereals — a report that linked sugary cereals to the "nation's childhood obesity epidemic" — put Honey Nut Cheerios's sugar content second only to Fruity Pebbles. The same group found that one cup of the cereal had more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies.

    I asked General Mills about this, over a period of several days. They did not come to the phone, but responded with a series of communiqués.

    "You mentioned that three of the top six ingredients in Honey Nut Cheerios are sugar, brown sugar and honey," Mike Siemienas, a spokesman for the company, wrote in a statement. "What you didn't mention is that the number one ingredient is oats. To be so singularly focused on one ingredient — sugar — is irresponsible and doesn't help consumers look at the total nutrition offered."

    Honey Nut Cheerios debuted in 1979. The cereal's forebear, Cheerios, originally called Cheerioats, was born in 1941 and has a more favorable nutrition profile. The plain version is low in sugar, "and you're getting some oat fiber that can help lower your cholesterol modestly," said Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

    Unfortunately, that makes the contrast with its spinoffs difficult. Those include far more sugary options like Pumpkin Spice Cheerios and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. The newest offering, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios, has what looks like sugar flakes on it, but it actually has a lower sugar content than Honey Nut Cheerios.

    "The company has capitalized on the good name of the original," Ms. Liebman said. "We've been saying for years that Honey Nut Cheerios has more sugar than honey and more salt than nuts, in fact it's got no nuts at all, it's just got almond flavor."

    The center has quarreled with General Mills before. It sued the company over health claims made about another Cheerios offshoot, Cheerios Protein.

    General Mills refers to cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios as "presweetened" — putting the sugar, brown sugar and honey into your cereal so you don't have to. Back in 2009, the company made news by announcing an initiative had already been underway to drop the sugar figure into single digits in such cereals marketed to children. In the last decade or so, Honey Nut Cheerios has fallen to nine grams of sugars per serving, from 11. Or so it seems.

    I undertook a review of highly sensitive corporate documents. And by that, I mean I looked at pictures of old cereal boxes on eBay, because apparently there's a market for vintage, flattened cereal boxes. I found a box from 2003 that showed the serving size of Honey Nut Cheerios to be one cup, weighing 30 grams and having 11 grams of sugars. Today, a serving is three-quarters of a cup, and just 28 grams, with nine grams of sugars.

    The serving size of regular Cheerios remains one cup. If Honey Nut Cheerios still had a one cup serving size, the sugar content would be in the double digits.

    General Mills said little about what had happened, or when.

    "There are several reasons that changes in serving size may occur including recipe improvements that may change the density of the cereal or regulation changes," Mr. Siemienas wrote.

    Serving sizes are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and can change if a cereal's density changes. It appears that at some point in the last 10 or 15 years, General Mills tweaked the ingredients of Honey Nut Cheerios in a way that lowered the overall weight per serving, which had the effect of helping lower the stated sugar content. It has not been all smoke and mirrors; the percentage of sugar has decreased slightly as well, though rounding makes it difficult to say by how much.

    "They've tested and tested and tested to try to find out how much sugar they can take out without it affecting sales," said Marion Nestle, an emerita professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University. "They must surely be at the cut point."

    She said "you really want" kids "eating a whole grain, higher fiber cereal."

    Speaking for myself, I eat a lot more cereal than three-quarters of a cup. I poured that amount into a bowl. It looked sad. And small. It was an appetizer's worth of Cheerios.

    Don't worry, General Mills. I'll continue to eat Cheerios. But I had to have a difficult conversation with a 12-year-old recently. I broke the news that Honey Nut would not be returning to the cupboard. We'd be sticking with regular Cheerios.

    "Can I just pour honey on it?" he asked.

    He was joking. I think.



    5)  Duterte, Philippine President, Boasts He Killed Someone as a Teenager

     NOV. 10, 2017




    The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, center-right, leaving the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Danang, Vietnam, on Thursday. CreditMark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

    President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said on Friday that he had stabbed someone to death when he was a teenager, the latest claim from a leader who has boasted of personally killing people while defending a violent crackdown on drugs.

    "When I was a teenager, I had been in and out of jail, rumble here and there," Mr. Duterte said during a speech to Filipinos in Danang, Vietnam. "At the age of 16, I already killed someone."

    He said he had stabbed the person "just over a look," and he asked his audience in Vietnam to imagine what he could do as president.

    "I won't let you off the hook" if you mess around with Filipinos, he said. "Never mind about the human rights advocates."

    Mr. Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, said the comment had been meant as a joke. Officials loyal to the president have said he has a tendency to exaggerate.

    "I think it was in jest," Mr. Roque said. "The president uses colorful language when with Pinoys overseas," he added, referring to Filipinos.

    The comments came as the leader defended his government's brutal countrywide crackdown on drugs. His speech was met with applause and laughter.

    Mr. Duterte is in Vietnam with dozens of other world leaders for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting.

    In 2015, while he was mayor of Davao City, Mr. Duterte said in an interview with Esquire that he had stabbed someone to death when he was 17 years old. In December 2016, he said that during his time as mayor, he had personally killed at least three people.

    The Philippine leader has been widely criticized for an extrajudicial crackdown on drug dealers and users that has left an estimated 4,000 people dead since May 2016, according to local news outlets.

    Human rights groups have condemned Mr. Duterte, saying the crackdown has allowed police officers and vigilantes to ignore due process and to take justice into their own hands.

    Mr. Duterte is set to meet with President Trump on Sunday in Manila, part of the American president's 12-day tour to several Asian nations. Mr. Trump praised Mr. Duterte this year, congratulating him on the "unbelievable job on the drug program."



    6) Five Places to Go in San Francisco



    7) $300 Billion War Beneath the Street: Fighting to Replace America's Water Pipes

    "Scientists are just starting to understand the effect of plastic on the quality and safety of drinking water, including what sort of chemicals can leach into the water from the pipes themselves, or from surrounding groundwater contamination. Studies have shown that toxic pollutants like benzene and toluene from spills and contaminated soil can permeate certain types of plastic pipes as they age. A 2013 review of research on leaching from plastic pipe identified more than 150 contaminants migrating from plastic pipes into drinking water. ...The uncertainty over potable water pipes of all kinds is exacerbated by a lack of regulation over their safety. There is no federal oversight of the materials or processes used to manufacture plastic water pipes; instead, water pipes are certified and tested by an organization paid for by industry."

     NOV. 10, 2017




    Derek Brahney

    Bursting pipes. Leaks. Public health scares.

    America is facing a crisis over its crumbling water infrastructure, and fixing it will be a monumental and expensive task.

    Two powerful industries, plastic and iron, are locked a lobbying war over the estimated $300 billion that local governments will spend on water and sewer pipes over the next decade.

    It is a battle of titans, raging just inches beneath our feet.

    "Things are moving so fast," said Reese Tisdale, president of the water advisory firm Bluefield Research. And it's a good thing, he says: "There are some pipes in the ground that are 150 years old."

    How the pipe wars play out — in city and town councils, in state capitals, in Washington — will determine how drinking water is delivered to homes across America for generations to come.

    Traditional materials like iron or steel currently make up almost two-thirds of existing municipal water pipe infrastructure. But over the next decade, as much as much as 80 percent of new municipal investment in water pipes could be spent on plastic pipes, Bluefield predicts.

    The outcome of the rivalry will also determine the country's response to an infrastructure challenge of epic proportions.

    By 2020, the average age of the 1.6 million miles of water and sewer pipes in the United States will hit 45 years. Cast iron pipes in at least 600 towns and countries are more than a century old, according to industry estimates. And though Congress banned lead water pipes three decades ago, more than 10 million older ones remain, ready to leach lead and other contaminants into drinking water from something as simple as a change in water source.

    As many as 8,000 children were exposed to unsafe levels of lead in Flint, Mich., after the city switched to a new water supply but failed to properly treat the water with chemicals to prevent its lead pipes from disintegrating. Corroding iron pipes, meanwhile, have been linked to two outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease in Flint that added to the public health emergency.

    The plastics industry has seized on the post-Flint fears.

    The American Chemistry Council, a deep-pocketed trade association that lobbies for the plastics industry, has backed bills in at least five states — MichiganOhioSouth CarolinaIndiana and Arkansas — that would require local governments to open up bids for municipal water projects to all suitable materials, including plastic. A council spokesman, Scott Openshaw, criticized the current bidding process in many localities as "virtual monopolies which waste taxpayer money, drive up costs and ultimately make it harder for states and municipalities to complete critical water infrastructure upgrades."

    Opponents of the industry-backed bills, including many municipal engineers, say they are a thinly-veiled effort by the plastics industry to muscle aside traditional pipe suppliers.

    "It's simply catering to an industry that is trying to use legislation to gain market share," Stephen Pangori of the American Council of Engineering Companies testified this year before a Michigan Senate committee.

    To more directly reach towns and counties across the country, the plastics industry is also leaning on the American City County Exchange, a new group that gives corporations extraordinary capacity to influence public policy at the city and county levels. The group operates under the auspices of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a wider effort funded by the petrochemicals billionaires Charles G. and David H. Kochthat has drawn scrutiny for helping corporations and local politicians write legislation behind closed doors.

    Corporations pay membership fees as high as $25,000 to gain access to some 1,500 mayors and local council members who have signed up for the initiative. At a July convention in Denver that brought together about three dozen local legislators, Bruce Hollands, executive director of the plastic pipe industry group Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association, discussed what had gone wrong in Flint, and explained what needed to be done to open up local bidding for plastic water pipes. To spur local decision-making, the A.C.C.E. has also adopted model legislationpushing for more open bidding for water pipes.

    "We're just trying to take up policies that limit the size of government, that keep it from growing exponentially," said Jon Russell, national director of the A.C.C.E. and a councilman from the town of Culpeper, Va.

    Plastics are obvious replacement for the country's aging pipes. Lightweight, easy to install, corrosion-free and up to 50 percent cheaper than iron, plastic pipes have already taken the place of copper as the preferred material for service lines that connect homes to municipal mains, as well as water pipes inside the home.

    Still, some scientists warn that the rapid replacement of America's water infrastructure with plastic could bring its own health concerns.

    Scientists are just starting to understand the effect of plastic on the quality and safety of drinking water, including what sort of chemicals can leach into the water from the pipes themselves, or from surrounding groundwater contamination. Studies have shown that toxic pollutants like benzene and toluene from spills and contaminated soil can permeate certain types of plastic pipes as they age. A 2013 review of research on leaching from plastic pipe identified more than 150 contaminants migrating from plastic pipes into drinking water.

    "Plastics are being installed without any real understanding of what they're doing to our drinking water," said Andrew J. Whelton, assistant professor of civil engineering at Purdue University, and an author of the 2013 study. "We don't know what chemicals we're being exposed to."

    Sensing an opening, the iron pipe industry has started a public relations push of its own, voicing concerns over plastic, wooing President Trumpwith accolades for his infrastructure drive, and setting up a war between the two industries.

    "Iron is just more durable. It's a more proven material," said Patrick Hogan, president of the Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association, the industry's main lobby group. "Iron's been in the ground for 100 years."

    Plastic groups have criticized the studies, saying they focus on older generations of plastic piping and conflate different types of plastics. They also stress that their pipes are independently tested by the third-party organization.

    "It's not a new material. It's a safe material. It's independently tested," said Mr. Hollands, executive director of the Uni-Bell plastic pipes group.

    The industry outreach, at times, has been more overt.

    At the height of Flint's water crisis, the chief executive of one of the nation's largest manufacturers of plastic pipes, JM Eagle, traveled to the beleaguered city and offered to replace the city's lead pipes for free.

    Pipes fromJM Eagle would last 100 years and were a long-lasting and safe solution, the company's chief executive, Walter Wang, told the city council last February. "This water crisis, this contamination issue," he said, "it's hurting children and making them sick."

    JM Eagle, however, has faced recent legal problems. In 2013, a federal jury in California found that the Los Angeles-based company defrauded states and municipalities for more than a decade by knowingly selling defective water pipes. In some places, PVC pipes that were supposed to last 50 years exploded in their first year, causing injuries and flooding.

    JM Eagle declined to comment but has previously said the litigation was based on "scurrilous allegations" by a disgruntled former employee. Formosa Plastics, a Taiwanese industrial conglomerate that was its parent company at the time, agreed to pay $22.5 million in a settlement with municipalities and other government agencies in California.

    The uncertainty over potable water pipes of all kinds is exacerbated by a lack of regulation over their safety. There is no federal oversight of the materials or processes used to manufacture plastic water pipes; instead, water pipes are certified and tested by an organization paid for by industry.

    That organization, NSF International, displays a picture of the Capitol building on its regulatory resources web page and runs a hotline for questions on regulations and product safety. Yet it has never received regulatory authority from the federal government. Nor does it disclose test results for the pipes it certifies.

    NSF International called its testing robust. "If a product does not meet the requirements of a standard, it will not pass," said Dave Purkiss, the organization's general manager of water systems.

    For now, Flint is fitting the city with service lines made with another material: copper, at an expected cost of more than $140 million. Officials discussed creating a pilot area using plastic to replace the service lines to houses on several city blocks, according to Plastics News, though a Flint spokeswoman, Kristin Moore, said plastic pipes were not currently under consideration.

    "When you take that inherent issue that we needed to rebuild trust of the citizens in the water system, we felt that copper was the way to go," Michael McDaniel, a retired Michigan National Guard brigadier general put in charge of replacing Flint's water pipes, said at a conference this year.

    In Burton, just next door to Flint, budget realities have made plastics the realistic choice.

    The small city of 29,000 saved $2.2 million by using plastic to replace its own 1930s-era water system after state regulators alerted the city to critically needed fixes. For a municipality struggling with a dwindling tax base, those savings were huge.

    "We needed safe water, and we needed it fast. We needed to replace the system and PVC was a good choice for us," said Burton mayor Paula Zelenko. "I've got to get the best bang for the buck, because bucks are hard to come by these days."



    8) How Corporations and the Wealthy Avoid Taxes (and How to Stop Them)

    By Gabriel Zucman, November 10, 2017


    The United States loses, according to my estimates, close to $70 billion a year in tax revenue due to the shifting of corporate profits to tax havens. That's close to 20 percent of the corporate tax revenue that is collected each year. This is legal.

    Meanwhile, an estimated $8.7 trillion, 11.5 percent of the entire world's G.D.P., is held offshore by ultrawealthy households in a handful of tax shelters, and most of it isn't being reported to the relevant tax authorities. This is… not so legal.

    These figures represent a huge loss of resources that, if collected, could be used to cut taxes on the rest of us, or spent on social programs to help people in our societies.

    How do they do it?

    For an example, look no further than your search bar. In 2003, a year before it went public, Google (now a multinational conglomerate known as Alphabet) began a series of moves that would allow it to obtain favorable tax treatment in the future.

    First, it transferred ownership of intellectual property related to its all-important search and advertising technologies to an entity named Google Ireland Holdings.

    Why Ireland? Because not only did it have favorable corporate tax rates, its regulations also allowed Google Ireland Holdings to incorporate there but be "managed" in Bermuda.

    Google Ireland Holdings then created another Irish subsidiary, Google Ireland Limited, and granted it a license to use the technology now owned by the Irish parent company.

    Under this arrangement, which as far as we know is still in place, it is Google Ireland Limited that actually licenses the tech of Google's main business to all the Google affiliates in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. (Google has a similar offshoot in Singapore that covers business in Asia).

    Google France, for example, pays royalties to Google Ireland Limited.

    That entity in turn moves its profits to Bermuda via a royalty payment to the Google Ireland Holdings.

    See where this is going? In 2015, $15.5 billion in profits made their way to Google Ireland Holdings in Bermuda even though Google employs only a handful of people there. It's as if each inhabitant of the island nation had made the company $240,000.

    The corporate
    tax rate there?


    In doing this, Google didn't break the law. Corporations like Google are simply shifting profits to places where corporate taxes are low. It's not just Internet companies with valuable intellectual property that do this. A car manufacturer, for instance, might shift profits by manipulating export and import prices – exporting car components from America to Ireland at artificially low prices, and importing them back at prices that are artificially high.

    According to the latest available figures, 63 percent of all the profits made outside of the United States by American multinationals are now reported in six low- or zero-tax countries: the Netherlands, Bermuda, Luxembourg, Ireland, Singapore and Switzerland. These countries, but above all the shareholders of these corporations, benefit while others lose.

    My colleagues Thomas Torslov and Ludvig Wier and I combined the data published by tax havens all over the world to estimate the scale of these losses. The $70 billion a year in revenue that the United States is deprived of is nearly equal to all of America's spending on food stamps. The European Union suffers similar losses.

    So what can be done?

    Thankfully, Ireland has announced it will close the "double Irish" loophole that Google used, and arrangements that take advantage of that loophole must be terminated by 2020. But similar strategies will be used as long as we let companies choose the location of their profits.

    Just look at what Apple did in 2014 — it's one of the most spectacular revelations from the newly released Paradise Papers. After learning Irish authorities were going to close loopholes it had used, Apple asked a Bermuda-based law firm, Appleby, to design a similar tax shelter on the English Channel island of Jersey, which typically does not tax corporate income. Appleby duly obliged, and Jersey became the new home of the (previously Irish) companies Apple Sales International and Apple Operations International.

    A potential fix would be to allocate the taxable profits made by multinationals proportionally to the amount of sales they make in each country.

    Say Google's parent company Alphabet makes $100 billion in profits globally, and 50 percent of its sales in the United States (a relatively similar scenario to the first quarter of this year, in which that figure was 48 percent). In that case, $50 billion would be taxable in the United States, irrespective of where Google's intangible assets are or where its workers are employed. A system similar to this already governs state corporate taxes in America.

    Such a reform would quash artificial profit-shifting. Corporations may be able to shift around profits, assets, and subsidiaries, but they cannot move all their customers to Bermuda.

    This system is not perfect, but it's orders of magnitude better than both the laws that now govern the taxation of international profits and the tax package being proposed by congressional Republicans. Under the proposed plan some international profits would be taxed at 10 percent, but there are many likely exemptions.

    One advantage of allocating taxable profits as I suggest is that this reform can be adopted unilaterally. There is no need for the United States (or any other nation that wants to cut down on tax avoidance) to obtain permission from anybody.

    But we'd still face an equally daunting problem, the far more shadowy – and ultimately illegal – tax evasion of ultrawealthy individuals, many of them with net worths already bolstered by the proceeds of corporate tax avoidance. Here's an example.

    Meet Michael. Michael is the (fictional) chief executive and owner of an American company, Michael & Company. Like many people, he would like to pay as little in taxes as possible. But unlike most people, he can take some steps that will allow him to do just that.

    First, he creates an anonymous shell company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, which has lax regulations on disclosing the identities of company owners.

    He then opens an account under the shell company's name in Cyprus (or one of many other tax havens, such as Switzerland, Hong Kong and Panama, whose banks cater to the wealthy and aren't reliable about cooperating with foreign tax authorities).

    Finally, Michael & Company buys fictitious services from the Cayman shell company ("consulting," for example) ...

    … and, to pay for these services, wires money to the shell company's Cyprus account.

    The transaction generates a paper trail that can appear legitimate at first glance. But the reality is more insidious. By paying for fictitious consulting, Michael fraudulently reduces the taxable profits of Michael & Company, and thus the amount of corporate income tax he pays.

    And once the money has arrived in Cyprus, it is invested in global financial markets and generates income that the Internal Revenue Service can tax only if Michael reports it or if his Cypriot bank informs the I.R.S.

    It's supposed to, but many offshore banks have routinely violated their obligations in the past, by pretending they didn't have American customers or hiding them behind shell companies. So this way, Michael can evade American federal income tax as well as paying fewer corporate taxes through his company.

    And meanwhile, in America, if he wants to use any of the money stashed in Cyprus, he can simply go to an ATM and make a withdrawal from his offshore account.

    How do we know all this?

    Until recently, we did not have a good sense of who owns the wealth held offshore, but with my colleagues Annette Alstadsaeter and Niels Johannesen, we have been able to make progress thanks to leaks over the last few years. In 2015, the Swiss Leaks revealed the owners of bank accounts at HSBC Switzerland, and in 2016 the Panama Papers revealed those of the shell companies created by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. These showed that 50 percent of the wealth held in tax havens belongs to households with more than $50 million in net wealth, a minuscule number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals who avoid paying their fair share. In the Paradise Papers, we see that these are not only Russian oligarchs or Belgian dentists who use tax havens, but rich Americans too.

    As I mentioned above, about 11.5 percent of world G.D.P. is held offshore by households. For a long time, the bulk of it was held in Switzerland, but a fast-growing fraction is now in Hong Kong, Singapore and other emerging havens.

    We can stop offshore tax evasion by shining some light on darker corners of the global banking industry. The most compelling way to do this would be to create comprehensive registries recording the true individual owners of real estate and financial securities, including equities, bonds and mutual fund shares.

    One common objection to financial registries is that they would impinge on privacy. Yet countries have maintained property records for land and real estate for decades. These records are public, and epidemics of abuse are hard to come by.

    The notion that a register of financial wealth would be a radical departure is wrong. And the benefits would be enormous, as comprehensive registries would make it possible to not only reduce tax evasion, but also curb money laundering, monitor international capital flows, fight the financing of terrorism and better measure inequality.

    The onus here is on the United States and the European Union. Why do we allow criminals, tax evaders and kleptocrats to ultimately use our financial and real estate markets to launder their wealth? Transparency is the first step in making sure the wealthy can't cheat their way out of contributing to the common good.



    9) God, Jesus and Vietnam

    By W.D. Ehrhart, November 10, 2017


    I arrived in Vietnam in early February 1967 and was assigned to First Battalion, First Marines. After falling away from the church in my midteens, I'd had a religious reawakening at Parris Island, where I found myself much in need of God's mercy because we got none from our drill instructors. I took my renewed religious fervor to Vietnam with me, and soon got to know our battalion chaplain, a Jesuit priest, pretty well.

    Many months later, in November, the battalion was on an operation near the DMZ. Night was approaching, and I was digging in when Father Lyons came by. The conversation, which I still remember vividly, went something like this:

    "Hello, Corporal Ehrhart. How's it going?"

    "Not bad, Father," I said. "Can't complain."

    "You know, Corporal, I don't mean to put you on the spot, but I do miss the talks we used to have when you first got here. You were more faithful than my Catholic boys," he said with a laugh.

    "Things change, Father."

    "What happened, Corporal Ehrhart? What's wrong?"

    "What's wrong, Father? Take a look around. And you're asking me what's wrong? Look, I'm sorry, sir. I'd rather not get into it."

    "You can talk to me, son. That's what I'm here for."

    "Man to man?"

    "Of course. Making me an officer wasn't my idea."

    "Father, when I enlisted, I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I was doing right by my country — gonna help the Vietnamese, and all like that. I really believed it. I guess that sounds pretty corny, doesn't it?"

    "Not at all, son. We all want to believe we're doing the right thing."

    "Well, I don't believe it anymore. I don't know what I believe, but I sure don't believe that. We're not doing anybody any good around here, and any fool can see that. Well, anyway, the thing is, there I'd be, going to chapel every week and praying to God to forgive what I'm doing, knowing all the time I was just gonna go out and do more of the same thing the next day. Father, any God worth his salt isn't gonna buy that for a minute. It got to where I could almost hear him up there while I was praying: 'Don't hand me this crap again, Ehrhart. Just don't bother me unless you're serious.' After awhile, every time I'd try to pray, there'd be that Voice."

    "God's always ready to listen, son. He's always been ready to comfort people like us, and he still is. I really don't mean to preach a sermon at you, but you mustn't let your own fear keep you from him."

    "Father, that's not right. You can't just say you're sorry, and then go out and deliberately keep doing the same stuff over and over again. You got no business telling guys like me it's O.K. to deal like that."

    "I'm not saying it's O.K., Corporal Ehrhart, and I never have. I can't presume to judge men. But you boys are as much a part of Jesus' flock as anybody else. Maybe you're the part he cares about most. Jesus broke bread with publicans and sinners, didn't he? Can I do any less, and still be a priest?"

    "Well, if you're just here to look after us sheep, how come you got that?" I pointed to the M-16 Father Lyons held.

    He looked down at the weapon and shook his head slowly. "I'd be happy not to have to carry one of these, and I hope I never have to use it," he said, "but I'm afraid the VC don't make exceptions for Catholic priests."

    "I understand that, sir, but that's the point. You've got an excuse. Colonel Gravel's got an excuse. General Westmoreland's got an excuse. President Johnson's got an excuse. I'm up to my earlobes in everybody's excuses. Either you're a Christian, or you're not a Christian. There's nothing ambiguous about 'Thou shalt not kill.' "

    "You're right, of course," said Father Lyons. "But it's just not that simple. Nobody's perfect, son. We're all human beings. God made us in his image, and he knows we're going to fall. That's what Jesus Christ is all about."

    "That just don't get it, Father. These guys believe in you. They trust you. You tell 'em they're gonna be forgiven, and they just keep praying and shooting and praying and shooting, and thinking they're gonna go to heaven. You think God gives a big rat's ass about Communism and democracy and domino theories? I just hope to high heaven there ain't any God, because we're all in a whole lot of trouble if there is."

    "Corporal Ehrhart, have you ever thought about applying for a discharge as a conscientious objector?"

    "Oh, no. No way. End up in Portsmouth Naval Prison for 20 years? I've got enough trouble as it is. I've got four more months to go in this cesspool, and then I'm outta here."

    "But if you're really this troubled, maybe I can help you. I can talk to Colonel Gravel."

    "Listen, Father, you said I could talk straight with you, so I am. But this is just between you and me, and I'm trusting you to keep it to yourself. I've got a good record, and I want to keep it that way. It's gonna be hard enough to live with myself for the rest of my life. And then get drummed out of the service on top of that? I'm not gonna hang that albatross around my neck. No, sir."

    Father Lyons sighed deeply. "Well, that's your decision," he said. "If you change your mind, let me know. But think about this, will you? Don't let what men do in God's name turn you away from God's love. Just because we fail to live up to what God asks of us doesn't mean he won't forgive us. It's God's world, after all. He knows what we're up against."

    "Well, that's a heck of a way to send somebody to sea, isn't it, sir? Knock a hole in the bottom of the lifeboat, and then tell 'em, 'Do the best you can, folks. Good luck.' "

    "I'm afraid I just can't seem to find the right things to say to you, can I?"

    "I guess not, sir. I'm sorry. Really — it's nothing personal. You're a nice man, Father."

    "I'm sorry, too, son," said Father Lyons, his voice sounding very tired and lonely. "I just don't have all the answers. God works in mysterious ways sometimes, I suppose. Let me know if you change your mind."

    But I did not change my mind. At that stage of my life, C.O. didn't mean "conscientious objector." It was only the first two letters of "coward."

    Later on that same operation, I lost my dog tags. When we got back to battalion, I had the company clerk make me a new set. On the line for religion, which originally read "UCC" for United Church of Christ, I had him put "None."

    I still have those dog tags. But I've spent 50 years wondering if and how my life would be different if I had had the courage to take Father Lyons up on his offer.



    10)  The Insanity of Taxpayer-Funded Addiction

     NOV. 10, 2017




    The pharmaceutical industry was listed as one of the "Contributors to the Current Crisis" in the final report of President Trump's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The report cites decades of aggressive marketing and industry-sponsored physician "conferences" aimed at expanding opioid use by minimizing the dangers of addiction. Lawsuits by state attorneys general, counties and local jurisdictions allege that the industry fostered the epidemic by overpromoting its products, while raking in billions as Americans became addicted and overdosed. "To this day," the commission says, "the opioid pharmaceutical industry influences the nation's response to the crisis."

    It sure does. In its response to an epidemic that now kills 50,000 Americans a year, the Trump administration wants to spend tens of millions of dollars in part to help the industry responsible sell ostensibly nonaddictive pain medications and "abuse deterrent" opioids that are as addictive as the original opioids.

    In a recent speech, President Trump praised a new public-private partnership involving the National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical companies to develop nonaddictive painkillers and new treatments for addiction and overdoses. "I'll be pushing the concept of nonaddictive painkillers very, very hard," he promised. The N.I.H. says it hasn't set a budget for its "public-private initiative" but spent roughly $600 million on research into pain and opioid use and abuse in 2016.

    The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that prescribers avoid opioids for most chronic pain. Experts not affiliated with the pharmaceutical industry urge doctors to make greater use of over-the-counter analgesics and non-pharmacological pain relief methods like physical and spinal manipulative therapies, movement retraining and electrical stimulation.

    In September, at a meeting in Trenton with more than a dozen pharmaceutical manufacturers to explore solutions to the crisis, the opioids commission's chairman, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, saiddeveloping nonaddictive drugs was a priority. Among the companies he hosted was Purdue Pharma. In late October New Jersey's attorney general joined 10 other states in suing Purdue, owned by the Sackler family, alleging that Purdue deceptively marketed its drug OxyContin as safe for long-term use. "The attorney general makes those judgments, not the governor," Mr. Christie said.

    Purdue executives call abuse-deterrent opioids, along with highly effective non-opioid pain products, the "holy grail" for the pharmaceutical industry.

    "Abuse-deterrent is a marketing term used to mislead," says Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, a pharmacology and physiology professor at Georgetown University who directs PharmedOut, a group that monitors pharmaceutical industry marketing efforts. "At least half of prescribers think that abuse-deterrent means less addictive." It does not; abuse-deterrent pills are simply harder to crush or alter for injection or snorting. "It doesn't prevent you from swallowing them, which is the most common way of abusing opioids," Dr. Fugh-Berman said.

    In an email, a Purdue spokesman cited support by the N.I.H., the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration for its approach, saying that along with other pharmaceutical companies and "stakeholders" the company believes that "abuse-deterrent technologies can be one of the many effective components of a multipart approach toward combating prescription opioid abuse, misuse and diversion."

    Purdue says it supports the C.D.C. guidelines, and its chief executive, Craig Landau, said in Trenton, "I firmly believe there are too many opioids prescribed in this country." True. And Purdue owns a large share of the responsibility for that.

    The N.I.H. began its public-private initiative this summer with a series of closed-door meetings with pharmaceutical companies and academics. An N.I.H. spokeswoman, Renate Myles, said the research would include work on non-pharmacological approaches, but "we need to develop new nonaddictive medications for pain. These medications can only be brought to market with the active participation of the pharmaceutical industry."

    Purdue participated in the N.I.H. initiative. In June, in response to a call for public comments, J. David Haddox, the company's vice president for policy, sent a letter to the commission outlining Purdue's proposed "policy options," including recommending that the F.D.A. "convert" the opioid market to predominately abuse-deterrent formulations.

    The commission's report includes important recommendations like expanding Medicaid coverage for inpatient treatment; expanding treatment with buprenorphine, methadone and other medications, including some still being developed; establishing a national curriculum and standards for opioid prescribers; and expanding an alternative system of drug courts that encourage treatment. Those should be the immediate priorities, not channeling money for more meds to drug companies, from the pockets of Americans whose pain was the industry's gain.



    11) 30 Vaquita Porpoises Are Left. One Died in a Rescue Mission.

     NOV. 11, 2017




    On a windy afternoon last weekend, Cynthia Smith was on a boat in the Gulf of California, searching for one of the rarest marine mammals in the world.

    Never before had a vaquita porpoise been successfully captured and cared for by humans. But Dr. Smith, a veterinarian with a group known as Vaquita CPR, knew that the porpoises — whose black-rimmed eyes and dark noses have earned them the moniker "panda of the sea" — were likely to disappear without human intervention. Scientists estimate there are fewer than 30 vaquitas left in the wild. It was a last resort.

    When Dr. Smith and her team spotted a pair of porpoises, and managed to haul in the female, they were hopeful: the vaquita was calm, her vital signs promising. But soon after they moved her into a sea pen she began swimming too rapidly, then abruptly slowed down. By the time the veterinarians released the vaquita back into the wild, it was too late. "She was no longer breathing," Dr. Smith said. "We just couldn't bring her back."

    In the past five years, the vaquita population — which lives in only a sliver of water between Mexico's mainland and Baja California — has plummeted by 90 percent. Humans are to blame, but they are not even hunting for the vaquitas themselves.

    The animals, the world's smallest porpoises, get tangled and drown in nets set illegally to catch another endangered species, a fish called the totoaba. The poachers' bounty is an organ from the totoaba called the swim bladder, which is considered a delicacy and status symbol in China and can sell for up to $50,000 on the black market. It has been dubbed "aquatic cocaine."

    Mexico banned totoaba fishing in 1993, but it was only in 2015 — when vaquita numbers dwindled to about 100 — that the government also banned most gill nets, including those used for catching shrimp and other kinds of fish. The gill nets catch the totoaba, and also trap the vaquitas.

    Fishermen are still allowed to use a different type of net, intended for catching corvina fish, that is not supposed to pose a threat to the vaquitas. But because the corvina and totoaba fishing seasons overlap, fishermen can hide the totoaba nets beneath the corvina nets on their boats, said Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, the director of Vaquita CPR. "You can use a corvina as a cover-up, and that's what happened," he said.

    Most of the region's fishermen, who have been out of work since the ban, poach totoaba swim bladders, which fetch $3,000 to $10,000 per kilogram, said Andrea Crosta, the director of a group that investigates the totoaba trade. An equivalent catch of shrimp might earn a fisherman $200 at best.

    "If you're out here on the water, you're not risking jail time to catch shrimp," said Dave Bader, a spokesman for Vaquita CPR.

    After the death of the captured vaquita, the scientists agreed to shut down the program. "The evidence today is vaquita are not good candidates for being protected in this way," Dr. Smith said. "It's heartbreaking."

    The scientists had hoped to keep the animals in captivity temporarily, and possibly even breed them, until gill nets were eliminated from their habitat. While any wild animal is expected to experience some stress when captured, the group had hoped the vaquita could cope with being handled. (Last month, the scientists released a vaquita calf they had pulled from the waters when they determined it was too young to be separated from its mother.)

    Other conservationists had been critical of the plan. "I was telling them that this was going to happen, you're going to stress out the animals," said Paul Watson, the founder of the Sea Shepherd conservation group, which also works to protect vaquitas. "They are very elusive, they are very shy; you're going to kill one of them."

    Mr. Crosta said that while he admired the work of the biologists, they couldn't possibly solve a problem "that starts in San Felipe and ends in a shop in China." The fate of the vaquita, he said, was "entirely in the hands of law enforcement."

    In the past two years, Sea Shepherd and local groups have recovered more than 25,000 yards of gill nets from the gulf, weighing about 50 tons. Now that efforts to capture the vaquitas have failed, conservationists say hauling in the poachers' nets is the best bet to save the species from extinction.

    The Mexican government, conservationists say, also needs to crack down on illegal fishing, while providing sustainable alternatives for the community. Financial compensation from the government often never makes it into the hands of the fishermen, diverted by corruption, Mr. Crosta said.

    Local economies are an important consideration in conservation biology, Dr. Rojas-Bracho said. "You cannot save vaquita, and drive fishers to extinction."



    12)  Did Airstrikes in Afghanistan Last Week Kill Civilians? U.S. and U.N. Disagree

     NOV. 10, 2017




    Afghans held a protest on Wednesday in the city of Kunduz in response to reports that recent American airstrikes in Kunduz Province caused civilian casualties. The American military insisted that only Taliban fighters were killed or wounded. CreditNajim Raheem/European Pressphoto Agency 

    KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — Mohammad Anas, a college student, sheltered with friends and relatives in a mosque as they listened, terrified, to the boom of American airstrikes pummeling Taliban positions near their village in northern Afghanistan on Nov. 3.

    When the bombing subsided the next morning, the villagers came out and tried to return home, but Taliban insurgents ordered them to begin recovering the bodies of slain fighters.

    Before they finished, Mr. Anas said, warplanes returned and bombed the group. When it was over, village elders say, 19 civilians were left dead and at least six others were wounded — including Mr. Anas, whose wounds were minor.

    "Three of my friends were dead," he said.

    The United Nations confirmed the broad outlines of Mr. Anas's account, saying at least 10 civilians were killed in airstrikes on Nov. 4 in Kunduz Province. But the American military in Afghanistan insists that the only dead or wounded were Taliban insurgents.

    It was at least the fourth time in the past two years that airstrikes in the hotly contested area have led to controversy over whether civilians were killed.

    For the residents of the village, Qatl-e Aam in the Chardara District, the episode has bitter irony.

    In 1985, Soviet troops killed 650 residents, leaving only a handful alive. Residents renamed the village Qatl-e Aam, which means "massacre" in Dari.

    "There were so many bodies we turned the whole village into a cemetery," one survivor of the 1985 violence, Ghulam Nabi, 80, recalled.

    Another survivor of that massacre was Faiz Mohammad, 53, who said he lost his 13-year-old son in last week's airstrikes. "He had just finished learning the Holy Quran by heart," Mr. Mohammad said.

    The American military moved unusually quickly to release the results of its own internal investigation into the airstrikes, declaring on Tuesdaythat an "investigation was conducted independently and concluded that there were no civilian casualties."

    But the next day, Wednesday, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan took the unusual step of issuing a series of four posts on Twitter saying that its own investigation found that at least 10 civilians had been killed.

    "Accounts indicate victims were civilians forced by AGE's to retrieve bodies from earlier fighting," the mission said on Twitter, referring to antigovernment elements, which in Kunduz usually means Taliban insurgents.

    The United Nations' account was similar to what a New York Times reporter in the area was told during interviews this week with local villagers from the vicinity around Qatl-e Aam. "The Taliban forced everyone in the morning to retrieve their bodies," said one villager, Hajji Mahmoud, 69, who said he was wounded in the head and arm.

    In a statement, the United States military said that "numerous enemy combatants were killed," adding that its account was supported by the governor of Kunduz, Asadullah Omarkhel, and a Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Dawlat Waziri.

    But less senior officials in the area gave divergent accounts. Nimatullah Timory, head of public awareness in Governor Omarkhel's office, said that one civilian was killed and five civilians were wounded, although he added that the death occurred when the civilian tried to remove the body of a wounded Uzbek insurgent to hide evidence of foreign fighters' working with the Taliban.

    The American military claimed that particularly telling was its finding that "no hospitals or clinics in the local area indicated treatment of people with wounds from armed conflict." But a Times reporter saw six wounded patients in the Kunduz Regional Hospital on Nov. 4 who said they were victims of the airstrikes.

    Mr. Anas, the student, was among a group of 70 villagers who came to the city of Kunduz, the capital of the province, to protest outside the governor's house on Wednesday. He displayed photographs on his cellphone that he said showed children who were victims. "The governor is sitting in his office and doesn't know what is the real story," he said. Elders from the village presented the governor with a list of 19 civilians they claimed had been killed, all men except for two children.

    Asked about the divergent accounts, Liam McDowall, director of strategic communications for the United Nations mission, said, "The U.N. has over the past decade proved itself to be the most credible and reliable source for information about the devastating impact of the conflict on civilians in Afghanistan."

    "The U.N. in Afghanistan is, given its unsparing focus on safeguarding the lives of Afghan civilians, subject to regular criticism from all parties to the conflict," Mr. McDowall added. "There is rarely an incident or a day when our work to protect lives through our impartial reporting is not challenged."

    He declined to elaborate.

    An American military spokesman, Capt. Thomas R. Gresback of the Navy, said, "If there is additional credible evidence out there, we're open to hearing about it, but to date no one has come forward with anything."

    The United States has stepped up airstrikes as part of President Trump's new strategy in Afghanistan, with the Air Force reporting that it dropped 900 munitions in August and September this year, compared with only 260 in a similar period in 2016.

    Airstrikes in Kunduz have been particularly numerous, with three earlier serious claims that they resulted in civilian casualties just in the past two years.

    Those three earlier claims of civilian casualties came from airstrikes during the Obama administration.

    The most serious was an attack on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in the city of Kunduz on Oct. 3, 2015, which killed 42 civilians, most of them patients and staff members in the hospital. After a lengthy investigation, the American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., apologized, blaming human error, and 16 soldiers, one of them a special operations general, were disciplined.

    In June 2016, also in the Chardara District where the airstrikes last Saturday occurred, Afghan officials and local residents claimed that American airstrikes on a Taliban prison killed 7 to 16 prisoners.

    Last November, 33 civilians and two American soldiers were killed on the outskirts of the city of Kunduz, including many women and children. After a lengthy investigation, the American military admitted in January that 33 civilians had been killed but said that the Taliban had used civilian homes as cover.



    13) Emergency Manager Resigns in Puerto Rico; Army Ends Its Mission

     NOV. 10, 2017




    Restoring power in Puerto Rico has been slow, and on Friday, Abner Gómez stepped down as the head of the island's emergency management agency. CreditDennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The New York Times

    SAN JUAN — The head of Puerto Rico's emergency management agency resigned Friday, the same day that the Army general in charge of the military's response to the hurricane announced that his mission on the island had ended.

    The moves came as Puerto Rico tries to shift away from the emergency phase of its hurricane response, and just a day after a widespread power failure underscored the enormous challenges that remain. More than 2,000 people are still in shelters, and the power grid is operating at 41 percent capacity, 52 days after the storm.

    Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan arrived in Puerto Rico about a week after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island, in the midst of fierce criticism of the federal response. He quickly acknowledged that not enough federal troops were on the island and vowed to do more to help Puerto Rico.

    On Friday, he said the federal government had distributed 51 million gallons of water and 20 million meals and had tended to 5,000 sick residents.

    He said that the military's missions, primarily clearing roads, attending to medical emergencies and helping restore communications, were complete. Other agencies, like the National Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency, would continue the work. Some military officials would remain on the island to wind down operations.

    "FEMA is going to be here, very much for the long term and the rebuilding," General Buchanan said. "We in the military generally don't do that."

    Shortly afterward, the government announced that Abner Gómez, the commissioner of the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency, had resigned.

    It was unclear whether Mr. Gómez's resignation was an indication that the government had recognized a failure in its response to Hurricane Maria, or that he had simply lost influence at the agency. Mr. Gómez's profile had diminished this year when the governor created a cabinet position over him. He had not been a visible figure since the storm and rarely appeared at news conferences.

    In his resignation letter, Mr. Gómez acknowledged that the recovery had largely been assigned to someone else, so he was stepping down to let his new supervisor, the secretary of public safety, name his own team.

    Mr. Gómez did not respond to requests for comment.

    On Thursday, Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló asked his cabinet to sign undated letters of resignation. Mr. Rosselló has vowed to eliminate 100 agencies and many members of the cabinet are going to find themselves without jobs, he said.

    "We had an emergency phase where practically all of us were sustaining lives," he said. "We are now entering a recovery phase," and for that, he said, he needs a more nimble government.

    Oscar Ramiro, the head chef of a popular bakery in San Juan, said that Mr. Gómez was not the only official who had shown himself unable to address the destruction of Hurricane Maria. Others should also resign or be replaced, starting at the top, said Mr. Ramiro, who still has no power at his house in Rio Piedras, a San Juan neighborhood.

    "He's been pretty incompetent," he said of Mr. Gómez. "The governor entrusted him with this responsibility, which means that ultimately, the problem is the governor."



    14) After a Nominator Is Denied Access, '1984' Is Ineligible for Tonys

     NOV. 10, 2017




    A scene from the play "1984," which ran on Broadway but won't be eligible for Tony Awards.CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

    This year's Broadway production of "1984" will be ineligible for Tony Awards because the production refused to allow the journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is a member of the nominating committee, to see the play.

    The play's lead producer, Scott Rudin, did not explain why Mr. Vargas was denied access, and neither Mr. Rudin nor Mr. Vargas immediately offered any comment. Another lead producer, Sonia Friedman, said, "I don't have a comment on the matter other than I am disappointed with the outcome."

    The Tony Awards administration committee made the unusual decision to disqualify "1984" during a meeting on Thursday. The awards rules require that producers invite all members of the Tony nominating committee — there are currently 49 — to a performance.

    "It was determined that not all elements of the required eligibility were fulfilled," the awards administrators said in a statement Friday. "Both the production and the committee have discussed the matter in private. While all parties involved do not necessarily agree on the outcome, all parties agree that the issue was handled properly."

    A Tonys spokeswoman would not confirm that Mr. Vargas was denied access to the play, but several theater industry leaders confirmed that he was the excluded nominator. Last season, his first as a Tony nominator, he recused himself from voting.

    Mr. Vargas is a prominent immigration-rights advocate who in 2011, writing for The New York Times Magazine, acknowledged that he is an undocumented immigrant.

    In 2010, he wrote criticallyabout "The Social Network," a movie about the founding of Facebook co-produced by Mr. Rudin.

    A spokesman for Mr. Rudin denied that the article — which described the movie as "a simplistic take on a complex character masquerading as an important film" — had anything to do with Mr. Vargas being denied access to see "1984," but declined to offer further explanation.

    The play, adapted and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan from the novel by George Orwell, ran from May 18 to Oct. 8. Its cast included Tom Sturridge, Olivia Wilde and Reed Birney, a Tony winner for "The Humans."

    The show cost $4 million to mount, according to documents on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It opened to mixed reviews, and grossed $6.9 million over 21 weeks, playing to audiences that ranged from 57 percent to 90 percent full. In total, it was seen by 112,232 people, according to the Broadway League.



    15)  Trump Nominee for Federal Judgeship Has Never Tried a Case

    NOV. 11, 2017




    Brett Talley, a deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, has been approved for a lifetime federal district judgeship by the Senate Judiciary Committee. CreditLiberty Day Institute, via YouTube

    A 36-year-old lawyer who has never tried a case and who was unanimously deemed "not qualified" by the American Bar Association has been approved for a lifetime federal district judgeship by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    The lawyer, Brett Talley, is the fourth judicial nominee under President Trump to receive a "not qualified" rating from the bar association and the second to receive the rating unanimously. Since 1989, the association has unanimously rated only two other judicial nominees as not qualified.

    The Senate committee's vote on Thursday to approve Mr. Talley, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 2007 and is a deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, fell along party lines; Republican members outnumber Democrats on the committee 11 to nine. Mr. Talley will now face a full vote in the Senate. If confirmed, he would serve as a trial judge in his home state of Alabama.

    Mr. Talley's nomination is just one of the latest examples of Mr. Trump's efforts to reshape the nation's courts, packing them with young, deeply conservative judges.

    Mr. Talley's lack of experience drew searing questions from Democratic members of the committee. Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the minority whip, asked Mr. Talley in a written questionnaire, "Do you think it is advisable to put people with literally no trial experience on the federal district court bench?"

    Mr. Talley demurred. "It would be inappropriate for me as a nominee to comment on the advisability of any nomination," he wrote.

    Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking member of the committee, asked if Mr. Talley had ever argued a motion in Federal District Court, given that he had never tried a case. He had not.

    Ms. Feinstein also pointed to Mr. Talley's prolific social media presence before his nomination. He once referred to Hillary Clinton as "Hillary Rotten Clinton" on his public Twitter account, which is now private.

    In 2013, he wrote on his blog that armed revolution was an important defense against tyrannical government. Ms. Feinstein asked in her written questions when Mr. Talley believed it would become appropriate for American citizens to participate in an armed uprising against the government.

    He replied that he did not believe any situation in American history — with the "possible exception" of slavery — had called for armed rebellion.

    At the committee vote on Thursday, Ms. Feinstein took greatest issue with Mr. Talley's professed views on gun control. In 2013, about a month after a gunman killed 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Talley on his blog pledged his total support to the National Rifle Association, "financially, politically and intellectually."

    Ms. Feinstein said she had asked Mr. Talley whether, if confirmed, he would commit to recusing himself in cases involving weapons. He refused.

    "I find this unacceptable," she said.

    Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the committee, defended Mr. Talley's qualifications. "Mr. Talley has a wide breadth of various legal experience that has helped to expose him to different aspects of federal law and the issues that would come before him," he said in a statement.

    Mr. Grassley also cast doubt on the importance of the bar association's rating. "Senators can decide for themselves if the A.B.A.'s metric of what makes a nominee qualified is proper in these cases," he said.

    Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, in 2012 had praised the bar association's practice of evaluating judicial nominees as an important way to distinguish between people who merely had political connections and people who belonged on the bench.

    Mr. Grassley also noted that other judicial nominees rated "not qualified" had been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, at times unanimously.

    Other judicial nominees have faced scrutiny for their lack of trial experience. In 2010, Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, asked Nancy Freudenthal, who had been nominated to Wyoming District Court by President Barack Obama, about her having never tried a case before a jury. Ms. Freudenthal was eventually approved by the Senate, 96 to 1.

    Additionally, the comparative rarity of "not qualified" ratings for judicial nominees under previous administrations may have been due, at least in part, to a difference in procedure. Every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, with the exception of George W. Bush, screened potential nominees with the American Bar Association before publicly announcing them — a tradition the Trump administration has decided to shun.

    But that change alone does not account for the number of unqualified nominees under Mr. Trump, said Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of civil rights and labor groups.

    "It is unprecedented to have this many, this quickly, in this short a time," she said. Of Mr. Talley, she added, "When you think of how much power a district court nominee has over life and death decisions every day, it's really irresponsible to put someone on with that little experience."

    The Senate committee on Thursday also approved four other nominees for federal judgeships, including Holly Lou Teeter, who also received a "not qualified" rating.



    16)  Vast Indigenous Land Claims in Canada Encompass Parliament Hill

    NOV. 12, 2017




    Parliament Hill in Ottawa. For decades, a vast swath of eastern Ontario, including parts of Canada's capital city, has been claimed by various groups of Algonquin. CreditCole Burston for The New York Times

    PIKWAKANAGAN FIRST NATION, Ontario — Whenever Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or his cabinet ministers speak in certain parts of Ontario or Quebec, they begin by acknowledging they are on "unceded Algonquin territory."

    That recognition is just one of the ways Mr. Trudeau's government has been trying to signal a top priority: righting the wrongs Canada has done to indigenous people, especially over land that aboriginals say was taken from them unjustly.

    But finding common ground on this issue has proved to be one of Mr. Trudeau's most difficult policy initiatives, and critics say efforts to resolve the land disputes have bogged down. But both sides agree on the importance of sorting out the claims.

    "The process of negotiating land claims should be an absolute pillar of reconciliation," said Ken Coates, a historian at the University of Saskatchewan who studies treaties and is a consultant to indigenous groups. "This is our chance to get it right and if we don't — boy, when will we get the chance again?"

    Of the many issues dividing Canada's federal and provincial governments from its indigenous people, land claims are among the most symbolically important and economically consequential, often involving vast amounts of land.

    Some claims involve hundreds of millions of dollars, and tribes are often interested in controlling the land at issue, by, for example, having a say over logging, oil exploration and mining.

    One claim by various Algonquin groups involves the 8.9 million acres of the Ottawa watershed — which includes Canada's Parliament buildings and Supreme Court. The government thought it had settled that claim in principle a year ago, but it has ended up in litigation anyway.

    The claims are legally thorny, often requiring historians, archaeologists, geographers and geologists to give evidence sometimes stretching back before recorded history to support, or challenge, them.

    In some regions, land may have been occupied by different indigenous groups at different times, even changing hands after battles that were unrecorded. These groups may all assert rights, and claims can overlap.

    Then there is the problem of treaties. Some indigenous groups, like the Algonquins, never signed treaties giving up their land. The government says it is talking with about 140 indigenous groups in that situation.

    Others did sign treaties, and a government tribunal that deals with treaty disputes has 72 cases and is so overwhelmed that it cannot estimate how long it will take to resolve them.

    The result is that settlement negotiations occur at a frustratingly slow pace.

    "Because there's so many cases that haven't been dealt with over the years, there's been such a big backlog, it's going to take years," said Regional Chief Craig Makinaw of the Assembly of First Nations, the country's largest indigenous organization. "Nothing's really moved."

    But a few claims have been resolved.

    After 20 years of talks, Parliament in 2014 approved a deal with the Tla'amin First Nation, involving land along the coast north of Vancouver. It gave the members of this indigenous group ownership of about 21,000 acres, upfront payments of 42 million Canadian dollars and then annual compensation of more than 700,000 Canadian dollars for resources, like lumber, harvested from the land.

    The Supreme Court of Canada ruled last year that the Métis, people of indigenous and European ancestry, could also assert land claims in areas where they have traditionally lived. About a month later, Carolyn Bennett, the minister in charge of negotiations with indigenous groups, formally committed the government to settle with the Métis of Manitoba, who were promised about 2,150 square miles of land 147 years ago.

    That claim includes the city of Winnipeg, although the Manitoba Métis leadership has said that it does not intend to take land now owned by others. Ultimately, government land outside of the city will likely be transferred.

    Sabrina Williams, the spokeswoman for Ms. Bennett, said the government is trying its best to find a way to sort out the claims. "We believe that we need to do more to be able to construct a relationship that has never before been achieved with success," she said.

    But Chief Makinaw, a Cree from Alberta, says the government's figures for outstanding claims are understated and its processes fossilized. And other indigenous leaders are critical that the government has not set aside money indigenous groups say they need to assume control over their land after claims are settled.

    "This government is good at talking a lot but not very strong on action," said Chief Jean Guy Whiteduck of Kitigan Zibi, an Algonquin reserve in Quebec about 70 miles north of Ottawa.

    Of all the outstanding land issues, the Algonquin claims involving the Ottawa watershed, a huge swath of territory in eastern Ontario and western Quebec, are perhaps the most complex in the country.

    The land conflict there started for the Algonquins in 1800, when a group of settlers established a town near the Chaudière Falls, just upstream from where Canada's Parliament now sits. Over the years, the land the Algonquins controlled shrank to just a few reserves. Some groups of Algonquins were left with no land at all.

    About 25 years ago, Algonquin groups started formal talks with the federal government, and later the province of Ontario, about resolving their claims. Last October, the Algonquins of Ontario, and the provincial and federal governments, reached a land agreement in principle.

    About 4,000 Algonquins would get 117,000 acres of government-owned land and about 300 million Canadian dollars. They would also have a say over the management and planning of even larger area of government owned land. .

    But the Algonquins in Quebec declined to take part in the talks and rejected the deal. They are now in court in Ontario to try to rip up the agreement, and to get more money and an increased role in any future use of the land.

    "We want to be partners in Canada and not just stay on the reserve," said Mr. Whiteduck, a former bush plane pilot.

    An Algonquin leader on the Ottawa side said he regrets the rift and wants to bring Quebec into the agreement. But Kirby Whiteduck (many unrelated Algonquins in the area share surnames), chief of the Pikwakanagan First Nation, west of Ottawa, said he was not prepared to spend years trying to heal the divide.

    "We don't want to be sitting here 50, 100 years later when there's five million people in the territory and just 50 acres of crown land left," he said.

    Jean Guy Whiteduck said that even as the Quebec Algonquin push for a different deal, they recognize the reality of European settlement and are not interested in seizing or taxing homes on private property — or displacing politicians on Parliament Hill. But they still appreciate the symbolic importance of the claims in Ottawa.

    "Our action also includes Parliament and the Supreme Court land because we want to stir it up good to try and get some action from them," he said.

    Some of the disputed land ended up in the hands of an Ottawa company, the Windmill Development Group, which is now, along with a financial partner, spending 1.4 billion Canadian dollars on a development project, known as Zibi, that includes condos, offices, restaurants and stores. The property encompasses parts of the banks of the Ottawa River in both Ottawa and Gatineau, Quebec.

    As a private company building on privately owned land, Windmill has no legal obligation to compensate indigenous groups or negotiate with them. But Jeff Westeinde, a principal at Windmill, believes that even as a private property owner, he has an obligation to reconcile with indigenous communities for past wrongs.

    "As private citizens I think we should do something," Mr. Westeinde said. "We committed apartheid, there's no if ands or buts about it. Success for us will be a community where my Algonquin friends can come down here and say: 'Yes, that's my community too.'"




























































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

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