Thanksgiving on Death Row

By Kevin Cooper

Painting by Kevin Cooper

Editor's note: Kevin Cooper was convicted of a 1983 quadruple murder in a trial in which evidence that might have exonerated him was withheld from the defense. His case was scrutinized in a June 19 New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof. Visit savekevincooper.org for more information.

DEATH ROW, SAN QUENTIN, Calif.—As I sit here in a 4½-by-11-foot cage on Thanksgiving Day, I first and foremost am thankful to be alive. On Feb. 10, 2004, I came within 3 hours and 42 minutes of being strapped down to a gurney, tortured with lethal poison and murdered by volunteer prison-guard executioners. So, yes, I am very thankful to be alive. I am also very thankful for all the people—my legal team, friends, family, supporters and activists working to end the death penalty—who have helped make my being alive possible.

I have been in a cage like this, with two feet of space between the side of the bed and the wall, for most of my adult life, for murders I did not commit. I eat prison slop for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the guards look up my butt at least once a day to make sure I don't have contraband when I leave this cage.

I have been on death row in the state of California for more than 32 years, having come to this place in May 1985, and I have been fighting for my life ever since. This modern-day plantation in which I am forced to live is a very dirty and inhumane place for any human being.

After my stay of execution in 2004, I went on to suffer from post-traumatic stress for years due to that sick ritual of death this prison put me through. No human being should ever have to endure what I have, not even if they are guilty of the crime they were convicted of committing.

I am innocent, and my fate now lies in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown. On Feb. 17, 2016, Norman Hile, my pro bono attorney from the prestigious law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, filed my petition for clemency in the office of Gov. Brown. I have respectfully asked the governor and others to look at my case with an open mind, outside the legal box that has me close to being killed for murders of which I am innocent. Doing this is truly important, especially now that many Americans are learning from frequent news reports the truth about America's criminal justice system and some of the people who work within it.

People have learned that this system is dishonest, and that some of its investigators, prosecutors and judges cannot be trusted and are more concerned with winning cases or with following their political ideology than with truth or justice. This is especially true in my case.

Start with the fact that for the first time in the history of the death penalty in California, as well as within the history of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, 11 federal circuit court judges dissented in one death penalty case—mine.

To show their concern as to why my case should be heard on its merits before I am executed, six of the 11 stated these words of dissent in my last appeal: "Public confidence in the proper administration of the death penalty depends on the integrity of the process followed by the state. … [Twenty-four] years of flawed proceedings are as good as no proceedings at all."

The other five judges, showing their concern about the truth not being told in my case, stated: "The state of California may be about to execute an innocent man." (One of them, Judge William Fletcher, later said in a speech at New York University Law School: "[Kevin Cooper] is on death row because the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department framed him.")

A 12th judge wrote in a separate opinion: "Significant evidence bearing on Cooper's culpability has been lost, destroyed or left unpursued, including, for example, blood-covered coveralls belonging to a potential suspect who was a convicted murderer, and a bloody t-shirt discovered alongside the road near the crime scene. … Countless other alleged problems with the handling and disclosure of evidence and the integrity of the forensic testing and investigation undermine confidence in the outcome."

There have been many judges in other cases who have turned a blind eye to the truth and let a poor person get executed, even when there were serious doubts about that person's guilt, but it is rare for judges to speak out against a possible execution. If these 12 judges are ignored, what will happen to me will not be my execution but my murder at the hands of the state of California.

The political ideology of many judges allows them to ignore truth and injustice. Politics—the politics of life and death—do play a very real part in this country's criminal justice system. That is why Republicans in Washington, D.C., would not allow President Obama to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court [after his death]. This truth may never be admitted in words, but actions speak louder than words. Among these actions are the continuing oppression of people like me, who are poor and fighting for our lives from within this rotten criminal justice system.

So while finality, rather than justice, may be what certain judges are more concerned with, it is my hope that others in positions of authority—in particular the governor—will see the miscarriage of justice in my case and stand up and speak out to prevent this state from murdering me.

What makes my case unique in many ways is the fact that a dozen federal judges did just that—they stood up and spoke out against my questionable conviction—based on all the evidence and not just what the state claims after hiding, lying, destroying, tampering with, withholding and manipulating the evidence, all of which is exposed in my clemency petition to Gov. Brown.

Just because other judges in my case chose not to acknowledge the truth about it doesn't mean I'm guilty. This can be said for all the people who have been exonerated for crimes, including murder, they did not commit. Certain judges in their cases upheld bogus convictions and then closed the cases.

I am respectfully asking you, no matter who you are, no matter your religion, your political party, your skin color or your sexual orientation, no matter what your job is, your economic class, or anything else that makes you the individual you are, to please get involved in this fight to save my life, as well as the fight for our collective humanity.

While I may indeed be murdered by the state of California in the not-too- distant future, this fight is not just about me. It is much bigger than me or any one person. It is about us as a people bringing to an end the historic and horrific crime against humanity that is only done against America's poor people, especially its black people like me.

My legal team and I have petitioned the governor to grant me an innocence investigation so that he and everyone else can learn the truth about the law enforcement misconduct in my case, as well as DNA testing that we hope will reveal the real killer's DNA and exonerate me.

We are asking the governor to grant me a reprieve so that if this state resumes executions, I will not be executed. The state has me marked for death and has me at the top of the execution list, in part because it did not torture and murder me in 2004, and subsequently because of the attention my case is now receiving, with many people, including several jurors who convicted me, believing in my innocence.

There is entirely too much sadness and pain and inhumanity inside these modern-day prison/plantations to go into any one essay. Just know that I am thankful on this Thanksgiving Day that my spirit has endured and is keeping me alive, when all around me is death.



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









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
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  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Online Public Access Catalog 
  • Microfilm Reader/Printer
  • DVD and VCR players
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  • 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


Since our last legal update, there have been two important developments in Reality's case, giving us some insight into the arguments both sides intend to use in the trial.

The defense continues to build a case against the government's abuse of the Espionage Act, a strategy Reality's lawyers started laying out in their recent bail appeal. Taking that strategy further in a court brief on October 26th, they laid out a strong First Amendment challenge to the government's interpretation of the Espionage Act in cases involving whistleblowers.

If the defense's challenge succeeds, it would strengthen whistleblower protections significantly, and deny the government one of the main tools it uses to silence dissent.

Meanwhile, the government is doubling down on its strategy to put Reality's personality and politics on trial. A court filing, also on October 26th, repeated the same handful of sentence fragments obtained from eavesdropping on Reality's private conversations which the government claims is proof that she "hates America."They go on to make absurd claims about Reality's ability to flee the country while under total surveillance and without a passport, in their ongoing attempt to force her to serve time before she's been convicted of any crime.

Read the rest of the article at Stand With Reality.

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

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)  Justice at Last for the Youngest Inmates?

     NOV. 20, 2017




    How many times does the Supreme Court have to repeat itself before its message gets through? In the case of life-without-parole sentences for juveniles, the answer seems to be: at least one more time.

    On Tuesday, the justices will meet to consider whether to hear twoseparate cases asking them to ban those sentences categorically, in line with the Eighth Amendment's guarantee against cruel and unusual punishments. It should be an easy call. For more than a decade, the court has been moving in the right direction, growing ever more protective of juveniles who are facing the harshest punishments in our justice system.

    In 2005, the court banned the death penalty for people who committed their crimes before turning 18. In 2010, it outlawed juvenile sentences of life without the possibility of parole in all cases but homicide. In 2012, it barred mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles in all cases. And in 2016, it made that ruling retroactive for the more than 2,000 inmates already sentenced.

    Every case turned on the developing awareness that young people are "constitutionally different" from adults — less in control of their emotions and more able to change over time — and should be punished differently. In the 2012 decision, Miller v. Alabama, the court said states could still impose life without parole, but only after providing "individualized sentencing decisions" that take into account the "hallmark features" of youth, like "immaturity, impetuosity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences." The punishment should be reserved for "uncommon" cases, for that "rare juvenile offender who exhibits such irretrievable depravity that rehabilitation is impossible."

    A few states had by then recognized that minors are not as morally culpable as adults, and had barred juvenile life-without-parole sentences across the board. But since the court's string of rulings, many more states have come on board; 20 states and the District of Columbia now ban the sentence in all cases. In four other states it exists on the books but is never imposed in practice. Even Pennsylvania, the juvenile-lifer capital of the country, has since the 2016 ruling avoided seeking such sentences in all but the rarest circumstances. Not surprisingly, new sentences of life without parole for juveniles have also dropped sharply.

    But in a few states, prosecutors are still behaving as though the last 12 years never happened. The problem is worst in Louisiana and Michigan, which together account for more than a quarter of all juvenile lifers. In Michigan, prosecutors are seeking resentences of life without parole in more than half of all the state's cases, which meets no one's definition of "uncommon." In Louisiana, the state wants life without parole for 82 of the 258 people whose mandatory sentence was struck down last year. The numbers are even worse at the local level. New Orleans prosecutors are seeking life without parole in half of all cases; in West Baton Rouge Parish, 100 percent.

    Statistics like these have nothing to do with careful consideration of "the mitigating qualities of youth," as Justice Elena Kagan put it in the Miller case, and everything to do with blind retribution. The insistence on maximum punishment is even harder to understand when one considers that the court has hardly issued a get-out-of-jail card to those juveniles serving life without parole. It has said only that people whose crime occurred when they were too young to vote or buy beer should get "some meaningful opportunity," usually only after decades in prison, to make a case for release.

    As long as there's a loophole, however, Michigan and Louisiana appear eager to drive a truck through it. For the sake of the hundreds of juveniles in those states, many of whom have spent decades rehabilitating themselves, and to reaffirm the court's role as the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution, the justices should ban these sentences for good.



    2) Workers Lured to Australia Find Low Pay and Tough Conditions

     NOV. 20, 2017




    Gabi Cho in her home in Lidcombe, an area of Sydney, Australia. Ms. Cho has accused the hair salon she once worked at of underpaying her and exploiting her lack of English skills.CreditMatthew Abbott for The New York Times

    LIDCOMBE, Australia — Like many young South Koreans, Gabi Cho moved to Australia for the chance to learn English, breathe its famously clean air and make some money.

    Two years ago, she found a job cutting hair in the Lidcombe area of Sydney. It paid about $9 an hour. To get the job, she put down about $380, refundable if she was never late or absent from work.

    At the time, she said, she did not know all of that was illegal.

    Ms. Cho, who now contends that the salon underpaid her by up to $30,000, is one of thousands of temporary foreign workers in Australia who are chronically underpaid by their employers, according to a survey released on Tuesday. It adds to growing evidence that Australia is home to a large but silent underclass of migrant workers, many of them international students or simply adventurous backpackers, who are rarely heard from despite widespread labor abuses.

    "The owner exploited my lack of English, lack of knowledge of the law and work rights," Ms. Cho said through a translator. "I want people to know what happened to me so it doesn't happen to anyone else."

    The survey comes amid a rising awareness of labor abuses among temporary workers in Australia. With its developed economy, healthy environment and tight job markets in many places, Australia looks appealing to those looking for a foothold to live there and to those who simply want to make some money while visiting.

    A report prepared for lawmakers last year, A National Disgrace, described low pay and long hours for many temporary migrant workers. Local news reports have highlighted the working conditions of foreign workers at convenience stores and farms.

    The discussion is also part of a broader debate over how many foreign workers to admit into the country and whether they should be allowed to stay permanently, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and others arguing that many foreign workers displace Australians looking for work.

    The survey released Tuesday, called Wage Theft in Australia, covers an estimated 900,000 migrants with the right to work here. It found that roughly a quarter of international students made less than 12 Australian dollars, or $9, per hour, and almost half made 15 Australian dollars or less.

    In Australia, the national minimum wage is 18.29 Australian dollars, or $13.84, per hour. Casual employees, who are not entitled to vacation or sick leave, typically make more.

    The worst paid jobs were in fruit and vegetable picking and farm work, according to the survey.

    "We know now that this is entrenched, it's widespread, and for many of these migrant workers, wage theft is severe," said Bassina Farbenblum, a co-author of the report and a lecturer in law at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

    Many of the workers knew they were being underpaid, the survey found. Because of their visa status, the authors said, they probably did not expect to receive the legal minimum wage.

    "We've got an invisible, large, low-wage labor market," said Laurie Berg, a law lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney and a co-author. "The issues are disguised and we're not addressing that."

    The authors, who worked with local migrant and worker groups, acknowledged flaws in the survey, which included about 4,300 workers and was translated into 12 languages other than English. It was conducted online, which could exclude some groups, and because it was anonymous it could be completed more than once. Participants were invited to apply for a drawing for a total of about $1,000 in Amazon gift cards.

    Still, its conclusions roughly match those of some Australian government officials. Young people and people from migrant backgrounds may be more susceptible to exploitation in the workplace, said Mark Lee, a spokesman from the Fair Work Ombudsman, an independent government agency that investigates workplace complaints and enforces labor law.

    He added that this was because of a variety of factors, including "language barriers, lack of understanding of their workplace rights, limited knowledge of where to go for help and concerns over their visa status."

    Ms. Cho, the Lidcombe salon worker, said she was unaware of her rights until her husband pointed out a news article about a Sydney sandwich shop that the Fair Work Ombudsman accused of underpaying South Korean employees on working holiday and student visas by more than $100,000. She filed a complaint with the ombudsman's office, which declined to comment on her complaint.

    "This is a big issue in Korea," said Ms. Cho's husband, Andy Rim, a South Korean national who works as a warehouse supervisor. "They're sending people overseas to work as slaves."

    Mr. Rim said he and his wife came to Australia through an employment program supported by the South Korean government.

    Workers from Asian countries appeared particularly susceptible to tough labor conditions, the study suggested. Workers from Asian countries including China, Taiwan and Vietnam received lower wage rates than those from North America, Ireland and Britain, the survey found.

    Daniel Song, 28, moved to Australia in April on a working holiday visa from a small town in the Chinese province of Shandong. He thought Australia would be a good place to learn English, he said, and he had heard that wages were higher than in China.

    Working in construction in the central business district in the city of Brisbane, Mr. Song said he was paid 15 Australian dollars per hour. More than a third of workers at his site are Chinese or Taiwanese and on working holiday or tourist visas.

    "The salary difference doesn't seem fair," he said. "But it makes sense, and I don't feel I have a choice."



    3)  Debating Whether Reptiles or Amphibians Should Be House Pets

    Many experts think these animals shouldn't

    be in your home. Turning them into pets raises

    numerous ecological and ethical questions.

     NOV. 10, 2017




    A snapping turtle surrendered to officials by its owner at an "exotic animal amnesty day" in Bridgeport, Conn.CreditSuzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

    Reclining with a laptop on my couch in Brooklyn, I searched "buy lizard online" and clicked the first link. I filled my cart with a flying dragon, a couple of caimans, a red-eared slider turtle, a poison dart frog and an albino garter snake.

    I agreed to the terms and conditions, certifying that I knew the laws governing reptile ownership (it is illegal for me to own some of these reptiles in New York), that I understood exceptions for baby turtles (I still don't), and that I wouldn't hold the company responsible.

    Now all I had to do was provide a credit-card number and my new pets would be delivered to my doorstep the next day.

    That I can impulsively buy a reptile — or hundreds at the same time — without fully understanding what I'm getting into is startling to some experts concerned with animal welfare. And that is only part of a growing debate over whether it's appropriate to keep reptiles and amphibians as pets.

    At first, the justification seems simple: If you can keep an animal happy and healthy with proper food and housing, then it shouldn't matter if it's a dog, lizard or cat.

    But animals and their requirements widely vary. For reptiles, there are particular concerns about welfare, ecological sustainability and human health.

    These issues were examined in a collection of articles in a recent issue of the journal Veterinary Record. The authors hope pleas based on science will inform proposed restrictions for keeping exotic animals as pets.

    A century ago, you could buy a living lizard lapel pin, one of a wide variety of domestic cruelties once inflicted on reptiles. Today, people are more keenly conscious of animal welfare, and keepers and breeders know more about nutrition and husbandry of reptiles and amphibians.

    A multimillion-dollar industry has emerged around caring for them, with many veterinarians specializing in exotic pet care and herpetology. In addition to the internet, reptiles are sold at pet stores, flea markets, street vendors and herpetology fairs.

    Reptiles are popular pets because they are relatively quiet, odorless and "compatible with modern lifestyles," said Gordon Burghardt, a herpetologist who specializes in behavior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (As a child in the 1950s, he got his start with dime-store turtles and lizards.)

    Caring for these animals is rewarding to their keepers, inspiring for scientists, important for research, and may foster conservation efforts by improving public perceptions of reptiles like snakes, which have been unjustly killed in the past, argued Dr. Burghardt and Frank Pasmans, a veterinarian at Ghent University in Belgium and lead author of a review in the veterinary journal.

    While there are worries about the impact of domestic reptiles on human health — especially in homes with children or people with compromised immune systems — the bigger concerns are animal welfare and ecological damage, said Dr. Pasmans.

    On their journey to your living room, reptiles and amphibians first survive unregulated and sometimes illegal methods of capture or breeding, housing and transportation.

    In 2014, researchers, vets and animal welfare workers investigated a major wholesale supplier of exotic animals. Eighty percent, including reptiles and amphibians, were sick, injured or dead as a result of overcrowding, stress, poor hygiene and nutrition, or cannibalism.

    "High mortality rates are the cost of doing business, whether captured in the wild or bred in captivity," said Debbie Leahy, a wildlife manager at The Humane Society of the United States who was not involved in the study.

    Collector demand for rare animals means some suppliers seek threatened, new or unclassified species in the wild, a trend that has become so problematic that scientists withhold details about the locations of species they study in publications for fear of poaching.

    To bypass international trade regulations, collectors may pass off wild animals as captive-bred. Overexploitation also becomes a problem when demand is high and wild animals are cheaper to capture than breed.

    Captive breeding is favored over wild capture because of conservation concerns. But it isn't perfect and may introduce problems, like increased susceptibility to disease in some species or contributing to demand for animals falsely claimed to be captive-bred.

    In your home, it's hard to read the demands of stone-faced herps evolved for wild living. They need proper temperature, humidity, food, lighting and exercise, and have other species-specific psychological and social requirements.

    If you meet these needs, you must accept that your pet could grow quite big and live a couple decades. If you don't, yours will probably die in its first year, like 75 percent of pet reptiles and amphibians brought home as pets.

    Reptiles and amphibians don't make good pets "and should not be part of the pet trade," said Lorelei Tibbetts, a vet technician and manager at The Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine in New York. Most of the time, animal patients come to her with metabolic or reproductive issues related to improper nutrition, husbandry and life in captivity.

    "It's really not possible for us to care for these animals in order for them to thrive and live a decent life," she said.

    People may neglect pet reptiles and amphibians no more than common pets. But even the best environments "will result in 'controlled deprivation'," as is also the case with caged birds and rabbits, or fish in tanks, wrote Dr. Pasmans in his review.

    Just as many pet owners provide a high standard of care for dogs, cats, birds or fish, it is possible, with a lot of effort, to properly look after some reptiles and amphibians in homes, he adds. For instance, bearded dragons adapt rather well to captivity.

    Clifford Warwick, a consulting biologist on exotic animal welfare and lead author of a viewpoint in the journal, said we can't provide proper care because we don't know what many species need. Even when we do, misinformation on the internet leads pet owners astray.

    It's easy to buy a cute pet on impulse, but "when people find out how much trouble they are, they turn them loose," said Ms. Leahy.

    Generally, the limited options for dealing with unwanted exotic pets means many owners just release them. Discarded pets can wreak havoc on nonnative ecosystems. That red-eared slider in my cart from Mississippi is a huge problem in Europe and Asia.

    And Florida is dealing with the biggest invasive species problem on the planet, mostly because of the pet trade. There, iguanas have destroyed concrete infrastructure and Burmese pythons have eaten protected and common species, setting off a disease-spreading chain reaction.

    Despite all these concerns, reptile and amphibian owners aren't going to disappear any sooner than dog, cat or bird owners.

    In the past, people have summoned emotional arguments to single out slick-skinned exotic pets with bad reputations. But the animals aren't as harmful as the harm inherent in trading them.

    The contributors to the review hope that by heeding scientific arguments, rules about reptile ownership will be conceived of fairly.



    4)  Trump Administration Ends Temporary Protection for Haitians

     NOV. 20, 2017




    Supporters of the program that gives people from some countries temporary protection from deportation rallied in Los Angeles last week. CreditEmily Berl for The New York Times

    The Trump administration is ending a humanitarian program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since an earthquake ravaged their country in 2010, Homeland Security officials said on Monday.

    Haitians with what is known as Temporary Protected Status will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation.

    The decision set off immediate dismay among Haitian communities in South Florida, New York and beyond, and was a signal to other foreigners with temporary protections that they, too, could soon be asked to leave.

    About 320,000 people now benefit from the Temporary Protected Status program, which was signed into law by President George Bush in 1990, and the decision on Monday followed another one last month that ended protections for 2,500 Nicaraguans.

    Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is still struggling to recover from the earthquake and relies heavily on money its expatriates send to relatives back home. The Haitian government had asked the Trump administration to extend the protected status.

    "I received a shock right now," Gerald Michaud, 45, a Haitian who lives in Brooklyn, said when he heard the news. He has been working at La Guardia Airport as a wheelchair attendant, sending money to family and friends back home. He said he feared for his welfare and safety back in Haiti now that his permission to remain in the United States was ending.

    "The situation is not good in my country," he said. "I don't know where I am able to go."

    Haitians are the second-largest group of foreigners with temporary status. The protection is extended to people already in the United States who have come from countries crippled by natural disasters or armed conflict that prevents their citizens from returning or prevents their country from adequately receiving them. The government periodically reviews each group's status and decides whether to continue the protections.

    The Obama administration renewed the protections for Haitians several times, after determining that conditions in Haiti remained precarious. But the Trump administration, which has sought greater controls on immigration, has said that the program, which was intended to provide only temporary relief, has turned into a permanent benefit for tens of thousands of people.

    In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said that after meeting with Haitian government officials and Haitian communities in the United States, it had decided to let the protections end.

    "Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent," the statement said. "Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens."

    The protection for Haitians was most recently extended in May, by John F. Kelly, the Homeland Security secretary at the time. He allowed only a six-month extension, a shorter one than is typical, saying that the Haitians "need to start thinking about returning."

    The decision on Monday by Elaine Duke, the acting secretary, set a termination date of July 2019 to give people time to make arrangements to leave.

    The largest group of Temporary Protected Status beneficiaries, nearly 200,000 people, are from El Salvador. The Department of Homeland Security is scheduled to announce next month whether it will rescind or renew protection for that country, which is plagued with gang violence and high unemployment. The protection applies to Salvadorans who were in the United States without permission on Feb. 13, 2001, and was granted after deadly earthquakes in their home country.

    Though Ms. Duke ended protections for Nicaraguans last month, she continued, at least for now, protections for Hondurans despite pressurefrom Mr. Kelly, now President Trump's chief of staff, to end them.

    Others who now benefit include people from Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In 2016, the Obama administration decided to end temporary protection for citizens from three West African countries that had been devastated by the Ebola virus several years ago.

    The United States offered the protection to Haitians after the earthquake in January 2010 that killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced more than a million and led to a cholera outbreak. Haitians who entered the United States within a year of the disaster qualified for the status.

    A variety of American groups, including the Congressional Black Caucus, the United States Chamber of Commerce and immigrant advocacy organizations had urged the Trump administration to extend the protections again. On Monday, Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, called the decision "unconscionable."

    "There is no reason to send 60,000 Haitians back to a country that cannot provide for them," he wrote on Twitter. "I am strongly urging the administration to reconsider.



    5) Judge Permanently Blocks Trump Sanctuary Cities Order

     NOV. 20, 2017, 11:39 P.M. E.S.T




    SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked President Donald Trump's executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

    U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick rejected the administration's argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

    The judge had previously made the same arguments in a ruling that put a temporary hold on the executive order targeting so-called sanctuary cities. The Trump administration has appealed that decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    "The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law," Department of Justice spokesman Devin O'Malley said in a statement late Monday. "The Justice Department will vindicate the President's lawful authority to direct the executive branch."

    Orrick's ruling came in lawsuits brought by two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara.

    San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the ruling was "a victory for the American people and the rule of law."

    "President Trump might be able to tweet whatever comes to mind, but he can't grant himself new authority because he feels like it," he said in a statement.

    A lawyer for the DOJ argued during a hearing before Orrick in April that the executive order applied to only a few grants that would affect less than $1 million for Santa Clara County and possibly no money for San Francisco.

    But the judge disagreed, saying in his rulings that the order was written broadly to "reach all federal grants" and potentially jeopardized hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to San Francisco and Santa Clara.

    He cited comments by the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions as evidence that the order was intended to target a wide array of federal funding. And he said the president himself had called it a "weapon" to use against recalcitrant cities.

    The Trump administration separately has also moved to withhold one particular law enforcement grant from sanctuary cities, prompting a new round of lawsuits that are pending.



    6)  Most Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong

     NOV. 21, 2017




    "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth," from 1914, by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe.

    Not to rain on our Thanksgiving Day parade, but the story of the first Thanksgiving, as most Americans have been taught it, is not exactly accurate.

    Blame school textbooks with details often so abridged, softened or out of context that they are rendered false; children's books that distill the story to its most pleasant version; or animated Thanksgiving television specials like "The Mouse on the Mayflower," which first aired in 1968, that not only misinformed a generation, but also enforced a slew of cringeworthy stereotypes.

    High school textbooks are particularly bad about stating absolutes because these materials "teach history" by giving students facts to memorize even when the details may be unclear, said James W. Loewen, a sociologist and the author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong."

    "That mind-set pervades everything they talk about and certainly Thanksgiving," he said.

    The timeline is relative.

    The Mayflower did bring the Pilgrims to North America from Plymouth, England, in 1620, and they disembarked at what is now Plymouth, Mass., where they set up a colony. In 1621, they celebrated a successful harvest with a three-day gathering that was attended by members of the Wampanoag tribe. It's from this that we derive Thanksgiving as we know it.

    But it wasn't until the 1830s that this event was called the first Thanksgiving by New Englanders who looked back and thought it resembled their version of the holiday, said Kate Sheehan, a spokeswoman for Plimouth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth.

    The holiday wasn't made official until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared it as a kind of thank you for the Civil War victories in Vicksburg, Miss., and Gettysburg, Pa.

    Beyond that, claiming it was the "first Thanksgiving" isn't quite right either as both Native American and European societies had been holding festivals to celebrate successful harvests for centuries, Mr. Loewen said.

    A prevalent opposing viewpoint is that the first Thanksgiving stemmed from the massacre of Pequot people in 1637, a culmination of the Pequot War. While it is true that a day of thanksgiving was noted in the Massachusetts Bay and the Plymouth colonies afterward, it is not accurate to say it was the basis for our modern Thanksgiving, Ms. Sheehan said.

    And Plymouth, Mr. Loewen noted, was already a village with clear fields and a spring when the Pilgrims found it. "A lovely place to settle," he said. "Why was it available? Because every single native person who had been living there was a corpse." Plagues had wiped them out.

    It wasn't just about religious freedom.

    It's been taught that the Pilgrims came because they were seeking religious freedom, but that's not entirely true, Mr. Loewen said.

    The Pilgrims had religious freedom in Holland, where they first arrived in the early 17th century. Like those who settled Jamestown, Va., in 1607, the Pilgrims came to North America to make money, Mr. Loewen said.

    "They were also coming here in order to establish a religious theocracy, which they did," he said. "That's not exactly the same as coming here for religious freedom. It's kind of coming here against religious freedom."

    Also, the Pilgrims never called themselves Pilgrims. They were separatists, Mr. Loewen said. The term Pilgrims didn't surface until around 1880.

    There's no evidence that native people were invited.

    Possibly the most common misconception is that the Pilgrims extended an invitation to the Native Americans for helping them reap the harvest. The truth of how they all ended up feasting together is unknown.

    "The English-written record does not mention an invitation, and Wampanoag oral tradition does not seem to reach back to this event," Ms. Sheehan said. But there are reasons the Wampanoag leader could have been there, she said, adding: "His people had been planting on the other side of the brook from the colony. Another possibility is that after his harvest was gathered, he was making diplomatic calls."

    It is true that the celebration was an exceptional cross-cultural moment, with food, games and prayer.

    The deadly conflicts that came after, though, created an undercurrent that is glossed over, Mr. Loewen said. Still, "we might as well take shards of fairness and idealism and so on whenever we find them in our past and recognize that and give credit to them," he said.

    The role of Squanto is complicated.

    Tisquantum, known as Squanto, did play a large role in helping the Pilgrims, as American children are taught. His people, the Patuxet, a band of the Wampanoag tribe, had lived on the site where the Pilgrims settled. When they arrived, he became a translator for them in diplomacy and trade with other native people, and showed them the most effective method for planting corn and the best locations to fish, Ms. Sheehan said.

    That's usually where the lesson ends, but that's just a fraction of his story.

    He was captured by the English in 1614 and later sold into slavery in Spain. He spent several years in England, where he learned English. He returned to New England in 1619, only to find his entire Patuxet tribe dead from smallpox. He met the Pilgrims in March 1621.

    There was no turkey or pie.

    There was no mention of turkey being at the 1621 bounty, and there was definitely no pie. Settlers lacked butter and wheat flour for a crust, and they had no oven for baking. What is known is that the Pilgrims harvested crops and that the Wampanoag brought five deer. If fowl graced the table, it was probably duck or goose.

    The menu may have also included cornmeal, pumpkin, succotash and cranberries. There were no sweet potatoes in North America at the time.

    Contrary to popular depictions, there were about 90 native people in attendance, almost double the number of Pilgrims by some accounts.



    7) Virginia Restricts Protests at Lee Monument in Richmond After Clashes

     NOV. 20, 2017




    The Lee Monument in Richmond, Va., which was unveiled in 1890, will now have limitations on the number of people who can gather around it. CreditChip Somodevilla/Getty Images 

    The State of Virginia imposed strict limitations on Monday on demonstrations at the Robert E. Lee statue in the state's capitol, one of the oldest Confederate monuments in the country, after a string of clashes there.

    Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia announced the emergency regulations, which restrict crowd sizes at the Lee Monument to 500, down from 5,000, and ban guns at permitted events. The rules will also require permits for events there that draw at least 10 people.

    The regulations came out of a task force set up by the governor in August after a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where groups like the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis swarmed to protest that city's decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.

    After that rally, Confederate symbols on public lands across the country faced a new reckoning, attracting impassioned protesters calling for them to be removed and pushing cities to dismantle them, even in the dead of night.

    The Lee Monument in Richmond, erected in 1890 in the middle of a tree-lined roundabout on Monument Avenue in the capital, has been the site of clashes in recent months. Mr. McAuliffe said he enacted the limitations to protect public safety around the statue.

    The restrictions "will balance First Amendment rights and ensure that all Virginians remain safe," the governor said in a statement. He added, "We believe these regulations can be a model for localities across Virginia as they consider how to approach these types of events in the future."

    The emergency regulations will stay in place for 18 months while the state's Department of General Services considers and finalizes a permanent resolution, and holds public hearings on the topic. The order applies only to the Lee Monument, which is on state property in the city. Five other monuments on the avenue are owned by the City of Richmond.

    Mr. McAuliffe's opinion of the Confederate monuments in the state have changed in recent years. Two years ago, Mr. McAuliffe, a Democrat, insisted that the statues should stay in their places, saying they were "all parts of our heritage."

    But he took a sharply different view after the clashes in Charlottesville, which resulted in the deaths of 32-year-old woman in a crowd hit by a car and two state troopers in a helicopter crash. He said then that Confederate monuments should be taken down and urged Virginia leaders to move them into museums.

    The Lee Monument, a popular attraction and focal point in Richmond, has been a landmark in the city for nearly 130 years. Former soldiers in the Confederate States Army began advocating to have a monument to Lee in Richmond in the early 1870s. After years of planning, the bronze statue of Lee, astride a horse atop a granite pedestal, was unveiled in 1890 in front of a crowd of up to 25,000 people.

    Descendants of Lee said in August that they were divided over whether his monuments should be taken down. "The war pitted brother against brother and cousin against cousin," one family member said, "and we're still at this today."



    8) Lead Paint Failure May Bring Federal Monitor for Public Housing

     NOV. 20, 2017




    Mayor de Blasio, center, expressed his frustration on Monday about "mistakes that were made" by the city Housing Authority in not conducting lead-paint inspections in at-risk apartments.CreditDave Sanders for The New York Times

    Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that he expected a federal monitor could be appointed to supervise the city's vast Housing Authority, as he acknowledged that the city had failed for years to do required lead-paint inspections in thousands of public-housing apartments.

    "There was no attempt to deceive," the mayor said at a news conference in Queens. "We've been able to get a fuller picture and what happened should not have happened."

    The problems were manifold: The head of the New York City Housing Authority signed off on false certifications sent to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, attesting to lead paint inspections that did not occur.

    The communication to tenants was also imprecise; although City Hall officials said that residents in the 4,200 affected apartments were notified of the problem by letter, the communication did not mention the years of lapsed inspections — it only stated that the apartment required an inspection.

    Two children were found to have elevated lead levels from their uninspected apartments, city officials said Monday, though they appeared to have no lasting health problems as a result.

    "As troubling as this story is, when you dig into the facts, thank God, there is less here than appears," the mayor said. "Thank God there has not been harm done to any child because of mistakes that were made."

    The mayor was forced to confront the lead issue as he returned from a weeklong vacation in Connecticut during which calls mounted for outside oversight, and for the firing of Shola Olatoye, the chairwoman of the Housing Authority.

    While on vacation, Mr. de Blasio rushed to Ms. Olatoye's defense, writing on Twitter that she was "turning N.Y.C.H.A. around and she isn't going anywhere." Ms. Olatoye was not at the news conference on Monday, but the mayor defended her again, saying that she has done "a very good job."

    He also had to confront a series of other issues that had accumulated in his absence, including an announcement in an interview on Sunday with Politico New York that he would be rekindling his efforts on behalf of national Democrats next month in Iowa.

    "This is who I am," he said of his out-of-state travel. "This is what I'm going to do."

    But it was questions about the 175,000-unit Housing Authority that dominated the news conference, and Mr. de Blasio sought to project a measured sense of outrage as he navigated the first crisis of his post-re-election mayoralty.

    Federal rules require annual inspections of all public housing apartments where lead paint may be present, in about 55,000 public housing units in New York, and city law requires inspections of about 4,200 apartments where a child under the age of 6 resides.

    Neither requirement had been followed starting in 2012, when a loosening of federal rules for general inspections of apartment conditions resulted in the city dropping all visual inspections for lead. They were not restarted when Mr. de Blasio became mayor in 2014, though he said it was not brought to his attention for more than two years.

    In March 2016, the mayor said that the city had "a very stringent inspection effort," remarks aimed at reassuring public housing residents who were learning then of a federal investigation into lead levels, and the possibility that false paperwork had been filed.

    On Monday, Mr. de Blasio said that it was not long after making that statement that he learned it was not accurate — but said he could not pinpoint the timing — and he wished that he had publicly corrected his comments.

    Mr. de Blasio said that he expected residents of public housing to be angry. "I'm angry, too, and I'm frustrated, too," he said.

    The mayor added that all of the apartments covered by city law had now been inspected, a process that began last year, and that further checks will be done.

    A spokeswoman for the Housing Authority said that a contractor was "in process of inspecting the 55,000 units throughout 2018." Those inspections began in October.

    The city has been in talks with the United States attorney office for the Southern District of New York for two years, he said, as part of a continuing inquiry.

    "We are looking forward to a resolution to the process in the next few months, that very well may include a federal monitor, which is something that we would be ready of course to accept," Mr. de Blasio said. The Housing Authority has a court-appointed special master to address mold.

    During the 75-minute news conference, Mr. de Blasio at times appeared contrite, but he was evasive at key points on a number of topics.

    He refused to answer a question about a New York Post report that he would like to fire Mark G. Peters, the Department of Investigation commissioner, whose agency revealed the falsely filed paperwork on the lead paint inspections. In response, Mr. de Blasio said that he would not discuss personnel decisions.

    He also said that the timing of resignations by two senior housing officials and the demotion of a third on Friday was not related to the Investigation Department report.



    9) Police on Long Island Are Working Illegally With ICE, Suit Says

     NOV. 20, 2017




    Driving on Long Island in August, Denis Guerra Guerra was stopped by the police in Nassau County for failing to signal when changing lanes, a traffic infraction punishable by a ticket. Two weeks later, he was deported to El Salvador.

    A police officer had taken his identification — a passport from El Salvador — and discovered a pending order of removal from immigration authorities.

    On Monday, lawyers from the Central American Refugee Center, a Long Island immigrant legal services organization commonly known as Carecen, and the Hofstra Law Clinic filed suit against Nassau County in state Supreme Court, saying that the county police department was cooperating with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in ways that break state law.

    Elise Damas, a lawyer for Carecen, announced the suit at a news conference at Hofstra University.

    "Carecen seeks an ironclad assurance that Nassau County will act in accordance with New York State law, and not just with federal immigration policies," she said. "Nassau County police are tasked with ensuring the safety of all communities countywide, a goal which cannot be achieved until immigrants feel protected."

    Peter L. Markowitz, a professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, called the lawsuit significant, saying: "New York State laws strictly define when it is O.K. and not O.K. for a state officer to make an arrest. And that does not include the authority to make civil immigration arrests."

    Mr. Guerra Guerra, 30, is not named in the lawsuit. He is a client of Ms. Damas's, though, and she said he was the impetus for the suit. But since he is in El Salvador, the lead plaintiff in the case is "Jane Doe," a 26-year-old undocumented immigrant living in Nassau County. The woman has had no interaction so far with local police but, the suit claims, is at risk because of county policies; the lawyers declined to name her because she is applying for asylum.

    Lt. Richard LeBrun, a spokesman for the county police department, responded to the lawsuit by stating the department's policy, which has been in effect since January 2007: "The Nassau County Police Department will not inquire into any person's immigration status unless they are arrested for a crime. This includes the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses and anyone who calls the police seeking assistance." The police may report the presence of an undocumented immigrant upon arrest, the policy says.

    In August, Nassau's acting police commissioner, Patrick J. Ryder, issued a statement saying that Mr. Guerra Guerra's lack of a driver's license and registration prompted further questions, which led to the discovery of a box cutter in his car. He was arrested on charges of possession of a weapon, but those charges were dropped at the precinct.

    The Nassau County attorney, Carnell Foskey, said that he would not comment on "matters of litigation."

    The suit said the county's policy was flawed on two fronts: first, that the Nassau police's holding undocumented immigrants who are not accused of other crimes was unlawful, and second, that the county's policy of honoring requests from ICE to hold immigrants for 48 hours at local jails, know as detainers, creates an environment of fear where immigrants would be reluctant to report crimes.

    Ms. Damas said that the police department was afraid it would lose federal funding if the Trump administration considered the county unwilling to assist immigration authorities.

    In fact, after the suit was filed on Monday, the Department of Justice announced it would award more than $98 million to police departments that promised to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The money would pay for additional officers.

    "It's the federal government coming in and getting involved in law enforcement in our community," Ms. Damas said.

    Donna Zak, the supervisor of the immigration unit at the Legal Aid Society on Long Island, said that before President Trump took office, "Someone who was brought in on a traffic infraction would not have been held for ICE." Now, she said, "The ICE holds are growing in numbers."

    While there have been several federal challenges to local authorities cooperating with ICE detainers over time — and especially the last five years — a recent state court decision in Massachusetts offers a precedent for the New York case. The judge for the state Supreme Court determined that Massachusetts court officers could not arrest and hold an individual solely on the basis of a federal civil immigration detainer.

    Asked about the Nassau suit, Christopher Lasch, a professor University of Denver Sturm College of Law, who studies detainer law, said, "It's a sensible challenge because it goes straight to what is perhaps the easiest question for the state court to answer: does our state law give our officers the ability to make civil immigration arrests."



    10) Chance The Rapper Wants Batman To Know Black Lives Matter In This "SNL" Sketch

    Faast Company, Nov. 20, 2017


    What: A sketch that puts the mythology of Batman in a new perspective.

    Who: Chance the Rapper and the team at Saturday Night Live.

    Why we care: Is Batman maybe . . . not so good? Part of the much-ballyhooed grittiness of recent Dark Knight movies has grappled with that question. But perhaps not enough. On this week's SNL, one sketch explored how a certain neighborhood in Gotham is more frustrated with the Caped Crusader than most supervillains in the DC Universe. Led by an assured turn from rookie comedic performer Chance the Rapper, the sketch is set at a gala for Batman's alter-ego, the billionaire Bruce Wayne (Beck Bennett). While Wayne starts off with some cutesy hints about his relationship to Batman, it quickly becomes clear that the crowd he's entertaining is not into it. These people hate Batman. Their reason? Batman's consistent use of excessive force against low-level offenders. (Every story ends with Batman breaking someone's jaw in three places for stealing a TV.) It's a clever way to get Chance the Rapper–a real-life activist who has a special interest in police brutality–in a sketch that nods to the Black Lives Matter movement. And judging from the reviews, it's probably more fun than watching Justice League.



    11)  F.C.C. Plans Net Neutrality Repeal in a Victory for Telecoms

     NOV. 21, 2017




    Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission chairman. CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times

    The Federal Communications Commission released a plan on Tuesday to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for internet service companies to charge users more to see certain content and to curb access to some websites.

    The proposal, made by the F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, is a sweeping repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration. The rules prohibit high-speed internet service providers, or I.S.P.s, from stopping or slowing down the delivery of websites. They also prevent the companies from charging customers extra fees for high-quality streaming and other services.

    The announcement set off a fight over free speech and the control of the internet, pitting telecom titans like AT&T and Verizon against internet giants like Google and Amazon. The internet companies warned that rolling back the rules could make the telecom companies powerful gatekeepers to information and entertainment. The telecom companies say that the existing rules prevent them from offering customers a wider selection of services at higher and lower price points.

    "Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet," Mr. Pai said in a statement. "Instead, the F.C.C. would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that's best for them."

    Mr. Pai, a Republican who has pursued an aggressive deregulation agenda, was widely expected to have his plan approved during a meeting on Dec. 14. The two other Republicans on the commission generally vote with Mr. Pai, giving them a majority over the two Democrats.

    Telecom and internet companies are expected to lobby hard in Washington — and directly to the public — as they did when the current rules were adopted.

    Some internet companies were expected to put up a fight to prevent the proposal from taking hold. The Internet Association, an industry group, joined a legal effort in 2015 to protect the existing rules. The agency has already received 20 million public comments, many of them in opposition of changing the rules, since Mr. Pai announced the broad outlines of his thinking early this year.

    The big companies that provide internet access to phones and computers have fought for years against broadband regulations. Under the new plan, broadband providers will be able to block access, slow down or speed up service for its business partners in some cases — as long as they notify customers.

    "This action will return broadband in the U.S. to a regulatory regime that emphasizes private investment and innovation over lumbering government intervention," said Joan Marsh, a vice president at AT&T.

    Big online companies like Google and Facebook say the repeal proposal would allow telecom companies to play favorites by charging customers for accessing some sites or by slowing speeds to others. The existing rules were written to prevent such arrangements, adopting a policy often called net neutrality.

    "We are disappointed that the proposal announced today by the F.C.C. fails to maintain the strong net neutrality protections that will ensure the internet remains open for everyone," Erin Egan, a vice president at Facebook, said in a statement. "We will work with all stakeholders committed to this principle."

    Small online companies believe the proposal would hurt innovation, because telecom companies could force them to pay more for the faster connections. Only the largest companies, they say, would be able to afford the expense of making sure their sites received preferred treatment. Companies like Etsy and Pinterest, for example, credit their start to the promise of free and open access on the internet.

    And consumers, the online companies say, may see their costs go up if, for example, they want high-quality access to popular websites like Netflix, a company that depends on fast connections for its streaming videos. Netflix said on Tuesday that it opposed Mr. Pai's proposal.

    The action "represents the end of net neutrality as we know it and defies the will of millions of Americans," said Michael Beckerman, chief executive of the Internet Association, a lobbying group that represents Google, Facebook, Amazon and other tech companies.

    Mr. Pai said the current rules had been adopted to stop only theoretical harm. He said the rules limit consumer choice because telecom companies cannot offer different tiers of service, for example. As a result, he said, internet service companies cannot experiment with new business models that could help them compete with online businesses like Netflix, Google and Facebook.

    "It's depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation," Mr. Pai said Tuesday.

    Comcast, one of the country's biggest broadband companies, said it would not slow websites that contain legally permitted material.

    "We do not and will not block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content — and we will be transparent with our customers about these policies," the company said.

    In a call with reporters, F.C.C. officials said the blocking and slowing of some content could be seen as anticompetitive. Those practices, they said, would be policed by the Federal Trade Commission or the Justice Department.

    The plan to repeal the existing rules, passed in 2015, would reverse a hallmark decision by the agency to consider broadband a public utility, as essential as phones and electricity. The earlier decision created the legal foundation for the current rules and underscored the importance of high-speed internet service. It was put in place by Tom Wheeler, an F.C.C. chairman under President Obama.

    Mr. Pai, who was appointed chairman by President Trump in January, has eliminated numerous regulations during his first year.

    The agency has stripped down rules governing television broadcasters, newspapers and telecom companies that were meant to protect the public interest. On Tuesday, in addition to the net neutrality rollback, Mr. Pai announced a plan to eliminate a rule limiting any corporation from controlling broadcasts that can reach more than 39 percent of American homes.

    The fight over net neutrality could end up being one of his biggest and most fraught decisions. For more than a decade, the agency has struggled with how to regulate internet service, leading to extended legal battles. The rules adopted under Mr. Wheeler were upheld in 2016 by a federal appeals court in Washington.

    The proposal released on Tuesday will probably make its way to court as well. And companies like Google and Facebook are expected to push the public to speak out against the plan. They coordinated a huge online protest against the possible changes in July.

    Some of the lobbying could take place in Congress, even though it may change little because Republicans control both houses. Nevertheless, Democrats have vowed to try to reconstruct the strict rules adopted by the F.C.C. in 2015.

    The next three weeks promise to hold intense lobbying from both sides, but that might not be the end of it. The regulation of internet providers has already swung once on a change in the Oval Office.

    "As good as the F.C.C.'s action is for I.S.P.s, it only assures nonregulation of broadband through 2020," said Paul Gallant, an analyst at the research firm Cowen.



    12)  Colin Kaepernick and the Legacy of the Negro National Anthem

    By   NOV. 21, 2017




    The lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key embraced the pop cultural tastes of his day when he wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" to commemorate an American victory over the British at Baltimore during the War of 1812. He gave his composition broad appeal with a melody derived from a popular British music club anthem that celebrated the virtues of love and wine.

    Satirists pounced, lampooning the song with lyrics that depicted a man who staggers home drunk and sleeps well past "the dawn's early light" — that light through which Key had seen an American flag still flying above the fort that had repulsed the British invasion.

    Abolitionists during Key's lifetime viewed "The Star-Spangled Banner" as they viewed the nation as a whole — through the lens of the injustice perpetuated by slavery. They argued that Key should have described America as the "land of the free and home of the oppressed."

    The professional football player Colin Kaepernick appealed to that same sense of injustice last year when he knelt during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest police violence against African-Americans. By doing so, he tapped into a feeling of alienation from the anthem in the black community that dates back to the days of racial terrorism and lynching in the South.

    Congress declared "The Star-Spangled Banner" the national anthem in 1931. Well before then, however, black communities across the Jim Crow South were instead embracing the soaring, aspirational lyrics of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" — otherwise known as the Negro National Anthem — which was sung in churches, at civic events and even in schools, where substituting the song for "The Star-Spangled Banner" was a quiet act of rebellion against the racist status quo.

    By the late 1960s, many of us who had grown up black in an era when African-Americans were locked into Northern ghettos and murdered in the South for seeking the right to vote registered our grievances by refusing to stand for the anthem at sporting events.

    "Lift Every Voice and Sing" became what the Princeton University scholar Imani Perry describes as a tale "of endurance, lament and supplication" that acknowledges the cruelties of racism while also pointing toward transcendence: "Lift every voice and sing/Till earth and heaven ring/Ring with the harmonies of Liberty/Let our rejoicing rise/High as the listening skies." As Ms. Perry writes in "May We Forever Stand" — her forthcoming history of the song — it spread rapidly through black America in the early 1900s, reflecting a growing sense that the promise of full citizenship in the nation's canonical texts simply did not apply to African-Americans.

    The provenance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is itself deeply suspect. Key, who owned human beings, penned his celebration of freedom during a war in which the British had promised that very thing to enslaved African-Americans who agreed to fight on their side. The third stanza of the song — which ceased to be sung once warm relations were re-established with England — can be read as a reflection of Key's anger at Britain's overtures to the people he himself owned.

    The passage reads in part: "No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave/And The Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave/O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave." Contemporary thinkers disagree on whether the word "slave" was used as a generic insult that could be applied to people of any race or as a direct reference to African-Americans who joined the British side in the War of 1812. But imagine yourself an enslaved person serving refreshments to your masters and their guests as they all retire to the piano room to sing Key's song as he had written it. There can be little doubt about what the passage referring to a "slave" would mean to you.

    The histories of the white and black anthems are strikingly different. James Weldon Johnson and his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, wrote "Lift Every Voice and Sing" in 1900 to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birthday at a time when the government seemed to have abandoned altogether the promise of Reconstruction. Four years earlier, the Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, had validated the doctrine of "separate but equal." As the historian Cecilia Elizabeth O'Leary writes in "To Die For: The Paradox of American Patriotism," the door had been opened for racists and nativist groups like the Ku Klux Klan to appoint themselves custodians of what it meant to be an American.

    "The Star-Spangled Banner" began as an ordinary song that competed with other songs for space in the American imagination. It was not until the early 20th century that it acquired the stature of a sacred writ and became, in effect, a loyalty test and an excuse for people who called themselves patriots to harass and beat people who dissented from the song's message.

    The truth is that the maxims about freedom implied in the song describe a condition the country has yet to achieve. People who confront that reality by kneeling prayerfully on the football field are often more determinedly patriotic than those who reflexively stand.



    13) Why Won't Israel Let Me Mourn My Father?

     NOV. 23, 2017




    My father, Azzam Jarrar, died last month. He was a proud Palestinian, a refugee, a civil engineer, a farmer and an entrepreneur. He was also my friend and mentor. He taught me the multiplication tables on our way to school in Saudi Arabia. He taught me how to question authority when we lived in Iraq. He helped me finish my master's degree when I lived in Jordan. Above all, though, he was the gateway to my Palestinian roots and identity.

    My dad fled his home with his family in 1967, when Israeli soldiers invaded and occupied the West Bank. He went first to Jordan and then to Iraq, where I was born. I was the first Jarrar to be born east of the Jordan River since our family was established on Palestinian land centuries ago.

    I didn't have the chance to visit my relatives on the West Bank until 2015, when I traveled there for a short work trip while working for a Quaker nongovernmental organization. Being in the diaspora meant that I wasn't given the opportunity to connect with the land and people. My only connection to my family history was through old stories and a few blurry pictures that my father took with him when he left as a teenager.

    That's why, after my father died in Jordan in October, it was so important for me to visit my extended family in the city of Jenin, to mourn his death with them. Unfortunately, I was prevented from doing so by the Israeli government.

    I had visited Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip two more times since that first trip in 2015. Like most Palestinian-Americans, I was questioned at the border about my family and personal life for hours before being admitted.

    My latest visit was different. This time, Israeli officials were mostly interested in my work, even though I made it clear that my partner, Alli McCracken, and I were traveling in our personal capacity to mourn my father and visit my family.

    I'm the Middle East and North Africa advocacy director for the human rights organization Amnesty International U.S.A. In that capacity, I have played a leading role in a new campaign that seemed to get the Israeli border guards' attention, a campaign calling on governments to ban goods from Israeli settlements.

    The officials who questioned me asked why Amnesty has a problem with Israel. I kept trying to steer the conversation back to my dad's memorial service, but they insisted on discussing the organization's work. Alli, who also works for Amnesty International, was questioned for a long time, too. They took her phone and went through her text messages.

    After hours of back and forth, I was informed that I was being denied entry for reasons of "public order" and — believe it or not — "the prevention of illegal immigration." I called the American Consulate General in Jerusalem and was told that there was nothing the officials there could do to help.

    Based on the questions I was asked, I had no doubt that this denial of entry was retaliation for my work. Amnesty International believesIsrael's settlement enterprise amounts to a war crime. Under international law, governments have an obligation not to recognize or assist "illegal situations." That's why Amnesty is calling on governments across the world, including the United States, to uphold that law and not allow Israeli businesses to profit from an illegal occupation.

    Israel seems to have denied me entry under legislation passed in Marchthat bans entry to Israel for noncitizens who knowingly issue "a public call for boycotting Israel." This law pertains not only to the boycott of goods produced in Israel proper but also to goods produced in settlements. Although Amnesty International calls for a government ban on importing those goods — not a consumer boycott — the Israeli government seems to treat it the same way.

    Could my teenage dad fleeing his hometown half a century ago have imagined this happening to his son? I wanted to visit his old school and my grandparents' old house. I wanted to touch the olive trees he climbed as little boy, and eat hareeseh, my favorite Palestinian dessert made of semolina and coconut, from the shop in central Jenin. Does it even exist anymore?

    I wasn't just upset about missing my dad's memorial service. Before I left the United States, I told my 4-year-old son that I was going on a trip because his grandpa had died. He cried a lot. Then he asked me if we could plant his grandfather back in earth like a plant and wait until he grows back. I told him we couldn't. He said he would just use his imagination. I tried to use my imagination while I was being sent back from the border crossing — I tried to imagine my family's land that I couldn't plant my father back into.

    When I returned home, my son asked me about the trip, and I had to tell him that I wasn't able to go. He looked confused. I couldn't explain the details — my work, Israel's settlements and the occupation, its unjust laws that stifle civil society. I know I'll have to tell him about all that someday.

    It won't be an easy story to tell, not only because of the Israeli government's actions but also because of the United States government's lack of action. Although I've tried to follow up, my own government has not stepped in to protect my right to equal treatment, and yet continues to help sustain illegal settlements by allowing the flood of Israeli goods into American markets.

    Israel must respect my right, and the rights of others, to engage in peaceful human rights work without fear of reprisal. Whether or not the Israeli government agrees with my work — and, of course, I know it doesn't — I still should have been able to take part in those most human of activities: mourning my father and celebrating his life.



    14) Papua New Guinea's Police Storm Manus Island Refugee Camp

     NOV. 22, 2017




    In a photograph released by an Australian activist group, an asylum seeker appeared to have collapsed as Papua New Guinea police officers stormed a detention center on Manus Island on Thursday. CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

    SYDNEY, Australia — The authorities in Papua New Guinea confronted asylum seekers on Thursday inside a controversial detention center on Manus Island, ordering hundreds of detainees to leave and destroying their belongings in an attempt to end a standoff at the camp that has drawn international scrutiny to Australia's offshore detention policy.

    By early afternoon, dozens of the asylum seekers had been removed from the camp and placed on three minibuses, said refugee advocates who were at the scene.

    "They drove past with their heads out the windows, and they cried, 'Help us,'" said Tim Costello, chief advocate for World Vision Australia, a charity. "They looked sullen and disturbed and defeated."

    Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a Sudanese asylum seeker in the camp, said the men taken away had been targeted because they were separated from a larger group and were easier to remove. "The problem was, those men split up from the rest of us," he said.

    The Papua New Guinea authorities' aggressive move, which Australia's immigration minister confirmed was taking place, represented an escalation of the conflict over the Manus center. It comes three weeks after Australia officially closed the camp on Oct. 31, cutting off electricity, food and water as hundreds of the detainees, all of whom are men, refused to leave.

    Since 2013, Australia has paid neighboring Papua New Guinea to shelter migrants who were intercepted at sea while trying to reach Australia. The country's policy, which the government says is meant to deter human trafficking, is that no such migrant will ever be allowed to settle in Australia.

    Security forces stormed the camp around 7 a.m. Wednesday and began tearing through the men's shelters and makeshift water tanks, before announcing on a loudspeaker that the men had to leave for alternative facilities on the island, detainees said.

    "They've destroyed everything: our belongings, our shelters, our rooms and beds," said Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish asylum seeker and journalist in the center. "They said, 'You must leave this prison camp.' "

    Mr. Boochani said the authorities were confiscating mobile phones after a number of refugees photographed and filmed the episode, making it available to international news media outlets.

    "At this moment that I'm talking with you, I'm in the toilet," said Mr. Boochani, who has regularly posted Twitter messages and written articles from the camp. "If I go outside, they'll take my phone. It's possible that if I go out, they'll arrest me. I'm only worried that I won't be able to write and tweet."

    The asylum seekers' defiance was partly an act of protest, but it was also motivated by complaints that alternative facilities were not ready. Many of the men have also said they feared they would be attacked or intimidated by local residents who have resisted Australia's attempt to move them closer to the island's largest city, Lorengau.

    On Thursday, Australia's immigration minister, Peter Dutton, accused the detainees of ruining the detention center and wasting Australian taxpayers' money.

    "I think it's outrageous that people are still there," he told 2GB radio. "They've trashed the facility, they're living in squalor."

    He compared the situation to building a new house for tenants who then refuse to move in. "The Australian taxpayers have paid about $10 million for a new facility and we want people to move," he said.

    Detainee advocates have questioned Mr. Dutton's assessment, pointing to photographic evidence that the alternate facilities are not ready.

    "I find it very hard to believe anything that the immigration minister is saying at this stage — that's based on the fact that I was at the camp on Manus Island last week," said Jana Favero, director of advocacy at the Asylum Seeker Resource Center. "The only thing that's making these men live in these conditions is the destruction that's been brought on them by authorities. I can understand why they're staying: because they're going to be moved from one prison to another."

    Mr. Boochani said that the men were tired, and he demanded that the Australian government find a solution to the stalemate.

    "We've been in this prison camp for more than four years," he said. "We are refugees, and we've been recognized as refugees by international law. Let us go to a third country. We don't want to go to Australia."

    Of the 843 asylum seekers still on Manus, nearly 200 have not had their claims for refugee status approved or have been rejected, including many of the camp's leaders.

    Just hours after Mr. Boochani said he feared arrest, asylum seekers on the island said he had been taken from the camp by the authorities. Mr. Boochani later said in a tweet that he had been released, and that the authorities had berated him over his reporting.

    "I've just been released. They hancuffed me for more than two hours in a place behind the prison camp. The police commander yelled at me 'you are reporting against us.' They pushed me several times and broke my belongings. Will write more about it later."



    15)  Thanksgiving for Native Americans: Four Voices on a Complicated Holiday

     NOV. 23, 2017




    Sherman Alexie in Seattle. "You take the holiday and make it yours," he said of Thanksgiving. "That doesn't strip it of its original meaning or its context." CreditIan C. Bates for The New York Times 

    "Do Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?"

    The Native American artist Sherman Alexie, who is Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, writes in his poem "Happy Holidays!" that he is asked that question a dozen times a year.

    The implicit assumption is that indigenous people would never celebrate a holiday tied up with the arrival of white settlers and the myths of American foundation. The truth is more complicated.

    Excerpted here are perspectives from four Native American writers.

    Sherman Alexie: A Story of Survival

    Q. Do you feel like you've been able to make Thanksgiving your own?

    A. You take the holiday and make it yours. That doesn't strip it of its original meaning or its context. There's still the really sad holiday as well. It is a holiday that commemorates the beginning of the end for us, the death of a culture. I guess you could say Thanksgiving is also about survival, look how strong we are.

    Q. How do you talk to your kids about the Thanksgiving story?

    A. You just tell them the truth, the long historical nature of it. They're quite aware of what happened to us, the genocide and the way in which we survive and the way in which my wife and I have survived our individual Indian autobiographies.

    I guess it's trash talking: "Look, you tried to kill us all, and you couldn't." We're still here, waving the turkey leg in the face of evil.

    — Interview in Bitch Media 

    Winona LaDuke: Tired of Being Invisible

    There is this magical made-up time between Columbus Day (or Indigenous People's Day for the enlightened) and Thanksgiving, where white Americans think about native people. That's sort of our window.

    November is Native American Heritage Month. Before that, of course, is Halloween. Until about three years ago, one of the most popular Halloween costumes was Pocahontas. People know nothing about us, but they like to dress up like us or have us as a mascot.

    We are invisible. Take it from me. I travel a lot, and often ask this question: Can you name 10 indigenous nations? Often, no one can name us. The most common nations named are Lakota, Cherokee, Navajo, Cheyenne and Blackfeet — mostly native people from western movies. This is the problem with history. If you make the victim disappear, there is no crime. And we just disappeared. When I travel, I get this feeling someone has seen a unicorn in the airport.

    — Essay in Inforum

    Jacqueline Keeler: A Hidden Heart

    I see, in the First Thanksgiving story, a hidden Pilgrim heart. The story of that heart is the real tale than needs to be told. What did it hold? Bigotry, hatred, greed, self-righteousness? We have seen the evil that it caused in the 350 years since. Genocide, environmental devastation, poverty, world wars, racism.

    Where is the hero who will destroy that heart of evil? I believe it must be each of us. Indeed, when I give thanks this Thursday and I cook my native food, I will be thinking of this hidden heart and how my ancestors survived the evil it caused.

    Because if we can survive, with our ability to share and to give intact, then the evil and the good will that met that Thanksgiving Day in the land of the Wampanoag will have come full circle.

    And the healing can begin.

    — Essay from the Pacific News Service 

    Simon Moya-Smith: When We Commemorate

    Native American Heritage Day falls on the one day each year when Americans ravenously indulge in material possessions — Black Friday. So is this an insult to Native Americans? Of course it is. How could it not be?

    If Native American Heritage Day fell on Nov. 5, for example, then students would be in the classroom and teachers could offer lessons about the Native American today. But no. Instead, streams of bundled-up shoppers are standing in line to make their purchases, with the class the last thing on any kids' minds as they sit watching TV.

    If we're going to choose a day for Native American Heritage Day when school is out, then how about Thanksgiving Day itself? Why not? That way we could learn about the real history of the holiday, and not the romanticized version we all hear about.

    — Essay on CNN






















































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