What They Aren't Telling You About The J20 Trial That Could Change America

Six Trump inauguration protesters currently face DECADES in jail for simply being at a protest where OTHER PEOPLE were violent. This trial is flying under the radar of most corporate media and will set a massive precedent for future protest-related convictions. Whether you're for or against Trump, you should be against the criminalization of dissent.




Christmas and the Contradictions of Capitalists Who Celebrate It

By Mark P. Francher, December 13, 2017


"Oppressed communities around the world need to divorce themselves from empires."

On Christmas morning, many major shareholders and executives of oil companies, weapons manufacturers, mining corporations and other enterprises that are part of the military-industrial complex will rise with their families and spend a day feasting and trading obscenely expensive gifts. It is, of course, possible they will say an obligatory prayer of thanksgiving, but there will be scant mention, let alone in-depth consideration of the life of the individual whose birthday has become the annual excuse for the capitalist system to wage a no-holds-barred campaign to promote among working people and the poor a lust for material excess, waste and mindless consumption.

Corporate big shots will not consider that the little baby born in Bethlehem about 2,050 years ago grew into a man who found himself in the midst of a revolutionary maelstrom. He watched as an overseas empire headquartered in Rome deployed its military troops and enforcers to occupied Palestine where they went house-to-house extorting the meager financial resources of desperately poor people and torturing and killing those who resisted. Modern day capitalists will not think about the guerrilla fighters ("Zealots") who ambushed and killed Roman soldiers. Nor will they contemplate that at least one of these fighters was recruited into Jesus' trusted circle of disciples.

"Jesus walked streets teeming with ragged, disease-ridden, starving people who were made this way by Roman imperialism."

Expensive art collections of today's wealthy families contain Renaissance paintings of a sanitized, idealized First Century Palestine where a delicate, nicely-groomed white Jesus moved easily through idyllic grassy pastures attired in pastel silk robes and sandals. On Christmas morning it will be these Biblical fantasy images that will float through the minds of corporate executives rather than thoughts of the real Palestine that Jesus experienced. Jesus walked streets teeming with ragged, disease-ridden, starving people who were made this way by Roman imperialism. As for Jesus himself, we don't know precisely what he looked like, but we do know he was not the white man in Renaissance paintings. To escape death, the baby Jesus was taken into Africa to hide. It was not a place where a white infant would blend into the local population.

While it is likely capitalists will consider none of these facts about the historical Jesus on Christmas, it is practically certain that as they piously sing Christmas carols about a figure they claim to worship, they will fail to see the parallels between the Roman Empire and 21st Century U.S. imperialism. They will definitely fail to acknowledge the blood on their own hands, and the fact that Jesus would point an accusing finger at them for their role in oppressing and killing the people he loves.

"Today's wealthy families idealize a delicate, nicely-groomed white Jesus who moved easily through idyllic grassy pastures attired in pastel silk robes and sandals."

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus proclaimed that his mission was to fulfill prophesy and preach the good news to the poor, heal broken hearts, preach deliverance to captives, restore sight to the blind and to set the prisoners free. By contrast, corporate executives practice a religion of greed and materialism that causes hopelessness, despair and frustration among the poor. The U.S. Empire holds captive numerous political prisoners and it leads the world in maintaining a soul-killing, racist, mass incarceration enterprise.

Jesus was not as preoccupied as were his revolutionary comrades with the troubles of this world. From his perspective our journey on this planet was a momentary experience leading to an eternal life in the hereafter. Thus, his first priority was saving souls. But he also had compassion for the people around him and he understood the need for effective resistance to oppressive forces. His approach is one that oppressed people in the current era -- particularly the people of Africa and the African Diaspora -- would do well to emulate. He simply divorced his community from the empire.

"The U.S. Empire leads the world in maintaining a soul-killing, racist, mass incarceration enterprise."

When Jesus' foes attempted to trick him by giving him the Hobson's choice of either telling his followers to pay taxes to Rome or to instead become tax resisters, Jesus recognized the contrived dilemma. Calling on a bitter, angry oppressed community to pay taxes to the empire would destroy his credibility. Urging tax resistance would bring down the heavy hand of the empire prematurely. He brilliantly responded by essentially saying that if Rome wants the coins it minted, give them back. But coins are only objects that represent labor, time, industry, talent, loyalty and energy. Jesus said those things belong only to God, and the empire was not entitled to receive them.

Members of the First Century Christian community divorced themselves from the Roman Empire and totally committed themselves to their own community. Whatever resources they possessed, financial and otherwise, were placed in a communal treasury. Likewise as individuals had material needs, they withdrew from the treasury the resources that they needed. In this way they eliminated poverty. This simple, but effective method of organizing an economy was not lost, and was expressed many years later in the familiar axiom: "From each according to his abilities and to each according to his needs."

Oppressed communities around the world need to divorce themselves from empires. While imperialism controls many of their natural and financial resources, whatever other financial resources these communities possess, as well as political commitment, skills, talent, time, and energy must be held in common and shared for revolutionary purposes. If the revolutionary vision is of a society that shares, then the practice of sharing must be part of even the earliest stages of a revolutionary process.

Mark P. Fancher is an attorney who writes frequently for Black Agenda Report. He is the author of: I Ain't Got Tired Yet: The Spiritual Battles of Enslaved African Christians and their Descendants. He can be contacted at mfancher(at)Comcast.net.

Oh! And Merry Christmas:

F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules

 DEC. 14, 2017




Ajit Pai, the F.C.C. chairman, said the rollback of the net neutrality rules would eventually help consumers because broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast could offer people a wider variety of service options. CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times



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

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



Prison Radio UPDATE:

Please sign this petition:

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


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

Phone: 215-686-8000

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

Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

OPEN the files. Justice Now!



Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?

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

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

A Book Review by Robert Fantina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Journal of Books, July 2017





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


Petitioning Denver FBI & US Department of Justice

Stop Slavery in Colorado

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign then share this petition at: 






Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director




To give by check: 

PO Box 411074

San Francisco, CA


Stock or legacy gifts:

Noelle Hanrahan

(415) 706 - 5222



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




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

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

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

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

Press Conference Details

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


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


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

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

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




stand with reality winner


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



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.

Major Tillery filed a pro se Pennsylvania state post-conviction petition in June 2016 to overturn his 1985 conviction. Just three months later Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker dismissed the petition without even allowing a hearing, stating that it was "untimely."

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.

Financial help is needed to cover the expenses of the appeal process and continuing investigation.



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 and; 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 and; 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 and; 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 and; 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 and; tell the people the truth about police terror and; 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 and; 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. 








1)  Ministers Look to Revive Martin Luther King's 1968 Poverty Campaign

 DEC. 3, 2017

"'This is what we've been waiting for, this kind of mass mobilization,' Ms. Blakely said in a telephone interview. 'I don't have any faith in Democrats or Republicans.' The campaign, which falls in an especially charged midterm election year, includes plans to converge in a march in Washington in June. Drs. Barber and Theoharis say that the campaign is not a partisan undertaking, and that they will not allow candidates for office to piggyback on its events."




The minister Barbara Williams-Skinner was arrested last week in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building for protesting the tax reform bill as part of an evangelical social justice group.CreditTom Williams/CQ Roll Call, via Associated Press 

When 12 religious leaders in collars and vestments were arrested last week in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, they were reading Bible verses about caring for the poor, and doing it so loudly that their voices could be heard at the doors of senators' office suites nine stories above.

It was to little avail: The Senate went ahead and passed a tax bill early on Saturday, promoted as relief for the middle class, that mainly benefits corporations and the rich — and that many economists say offers little or nothing for the poor.

The middle class and its discontents have occupied so much political and media attention lately that poverty has been crowded out. But some prominent religious leaders are gearing up for a campaign to try to put it back on the nation's agenda in a way that it hasn't been in decades.

On Monday, exactly 50 years after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began his Poor People's Campaign, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, a black minister and civil rights leader from North Carolina, and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, a white theologian originally from Milwaukee, will announce a revival of Dr. King's campaign, which stalled when he was assassinated in 1968. Organizers now hope to mount large protests on 40 consecutive days next year, in at least 25 state capitals and other locations, with crowds in the tens of thousands courting arrest.

"Nothing is going to change until we put a face on it, until we drive the public discourse, until we restart the moral narrative," Dr. Barber said in an interview.

Dr. Barber has had some recent success using a sustained campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience at the state level. The Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina that began in 2013 challenged limitations on voting rights and helped to unseat a governor. The new campaign will test whether organizers can take that model nationwide, and whether a multi-faith, multiracial movement can break through the nation's polarized politics.

The two ministers have spent the last year visiting churches and union halls to mobilize thousands of activists, including homeless people, veterans, clergy members and students.

They are aiming to redefine what constitutes a "moral agenda" in politics. Many on the right frame it in narrow terms of opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. By contrast, the poor people's campaign's sprawling agenda includes issues like wages, health care, immigrant rights, gay and transgender rights, criminal justice reform, and clean water and air.

Valerie Jean Blakely, a mother of five in Detroit, became a local organizer after protesting shut-offs of water service in her neighborhood in 2014. Her husband lost a factory job after the 2008 crash, she said, and now the couple make less than $20,000 a year, she said.

"This is what we've been waiting for, this kind of mass mobilization," Ms. Blakely said in a telephone interview. "I don't have any faith in Democrats or Republicans."

The campaign, which falls in an especially charged midterm election year, includes plans to converge in a march in Washington in June. Drs. Barber and Theoharis say that the campaign is not a partisan undertaking, and that they will not allow candidates for office to piggyback on its events.

But in a broader sense, "politics is everything," Dr. Theoharis said. "We're making it impossible in the next election cycle for them to get away without talking about poverty."

The two ministers have not stayed entirely aloof from electoral politics. They joined last month with clergy members in Alabamato denounce Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate there, and what Dr. Barber called "the unbearable hypocrisy of Roy Moore's Christian rhetoric."

Organizers of the poor people's campaign say they have already received support from several religious denominations, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); the United Church of Christ; the Union for Reform Judaism; and Dr. Barber's denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Dr. Theoharis, a Presbyterian minister, is co-director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice, based at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

It remains to be seen whether the campaign can catch fire as the organizers hope. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, a minister, longtime civil rights advocate and co-leader of the National African American Clergy Network, says most churches have remained on the sidelines in the Trump era, and too few have spoken out against the tax bills in Congress, which are expected to lead to significant cuts in the nation's social safety net.

Although more than 2,400 leaders of many faiths signed a letter to senators calling the tax bills "fundamentally unjust," and the nation's Catholic bishops requested multiple changes to benefit the working poor, their objections have barely registered.

"You don't see the outrage of the civil rights movement, or the antiwar movement," Dr. Williams-Skinner said. "You don't see that kind of outrageous indignation."

"We're at a very sad state in this country, of almost a shameless disregard for the poor," she continued. "We're taking money away from struggling people shamelessly."

Dr. Williams-Skinner was one of the religious leaders protesting in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building last week, as part of the evangelical social justice group Sojourners. She read from the Gospel of Matthew: "I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat."

After Capitol Police officers warned the protesters three times by bullhorn to stop, Dr. Williams-Skinner, who is 73, and the others were taken away in plastic handcuffs. She was booked on a charge of disturbing the peace — the first time, she said, that she had ever been arrested at a protest.

"I decided it's time to put up or shut up," she said afterward. "There are not enough people of faith angry about this as a violation of the word of God."



2) Stress Hormones Soar in Whales Trapped by Fishing Lines

By    DEC. 4, 2017




A North Atlantic right whale known as Bayla died after becoming entangled in fishing lines. The young female's stress hormone levels skyrocketed, a new study shows.CreditGeorgia Department of Natural Resources/NOAA

In one more sign that North Atlantic right whales are struggling, a new study finds sky-high levels of stress in animals that have been caught in fishing nets.

Researchers determined the stress hormone levels of more than 100 North Atlantic right whales over a 15-year period by examining their feces. Sometimes guided by sniffing dogs, researchers followed the animals, collecting waste samples that they then analyzed in their lab at the New England Aquarium.

Results from the feces of 113 seemingly healthy whales helped establish a baseline of stress hormone levels, which had never before been known for the species. "We have a good idea of what normal is now," said Rosalind Rolland, who developed the research technique and is the lead author of the study published in the journal Endangered Species Research.

She then compared these baselines to hormone levels in the feces of six whales that had become entangled in fishing lines, and one that had been stranded for several days, finding that those animals were off-the-charts anxious.

One whale, a young female named Bayla, showed stress levels eight times higher after she was found entangled in synthetic fishing ropes in January 2011. Several biologists trained in disentanglement couldn't get all the gear off her, so they sedated the emaciated animal and gave her antibiotics. Two weeks later, an aerial survey team found her corpse floating at sea, possibly after being attacked by sharks, which typically leave healthy animals alone. A necropsy conducted a few days later found rope embedded in the back of Bayla's throat, that possibly prevented her from eating.

"This highlights the extreme physical suffering these animals are going through when they're entangled in fishing lines," said Dr. Rolland, a senior scientist in the Ocean Health and Marine Stress Lab at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium.

Because hormone levels take several hours to rise after a stressful event, Dr. Rolland said that tests on five animals that died quickly when hit by ships showed stress levels similar to those in healthy animals.

This has been a disastrous year for the North Atlantic right whale, whose population now hovers below 450. Sixteen or 17 animals have died since the beginning of the summer and only five have been born, according to Charles "Stormy" Mayo, director of the Right Whale Ecology Program at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass., who was not involved in the new study.

"It used to be if we heard about one or two whales dying in a year, it was an appalling tragedy," Dr. Mayo said.

Although once considered a species conservation success story, the population of North Atlantic right whales has been falling since about 2010, he said. "The arrow at the end of the curve is pointing at zero."

Although the reasons for the deaths are varied, and some remain mysterious, it seems like the animals are exploring new areas in search of food, putting them in direct conflict with ships and heavy fishing lines, Dr. Rolland said.

The Gulf of Maine, which has long been central to their habitat, is one of the fastest-warming bodies of water on earth, she said.

North Atlantic right whales, which can weigh as much as the space shuttle, exclusively eat nearly microscopic creatures called zooplankton. About 80 percent of the animals carry scars from past entanglements or ship strikes.

These "urban whales" are also stressed by noise from shipping and other sources, Dr. Rolland said.

Analyzing hormones in feces — in addition to newer efforts to study the vapor exhaled from the animals' blowholes — provides scientists an objective way to test what is stressing the whales and whether efforts to improve their habitats are working.

"If you can get a measure from the animal itself, it's far better than us trying to interpret an animal's behavior," she said.



3) Why are America's farmers killing themselves in record numbers?

The suicide rate for farmers is more than double that of veterans. Former farmer Debbie Weingarten gives an insider's perspective on farm life – and how to help

December 6, 2017


 Ginnie Peters returns to the farm workshop in Perry, Iowa, where she found her husband Matt's letter on the night he died. Photograph: Audra Mulkern

It is dark in the workshop, but what light there is streams in patches through the windows. Cobwebs coat the wrenches, the cans of spray paint and the rungs of an old wooden chair where Matt Peters used to sit. A stereo plays country music, left on by the renter who now uses the shop.

"It smells so good in here," I say. "Like …"

"Men, working," finishes Ginnie Peters.

We inhale. "Yes."

Ginnie pauses at the desk where she found her husband Matt's letter on the night he died.

"My dearest love," it began, and continued for pages. "I have torment in my head."

On the morning of his last day, 12 May 2011, Matt stood in the kitchen of their farmhouse.

"I can't think," he told Ginnie. "I feel paralyzed."

It was planting season, and stress was high. Matt worried about the weather and worked around the clock to get his crop in the ground on time. He hadn't slept in three nights and was struggling to make decisions.

"I remember thinking 'I wish I could pick you up and put you in the car like you do with a child,'" Ginnie says. "And then I remember thinking … and take you where? Who can help me with this? I felt so alone."

Ginnie felt an "oppressive sense of dread" that intensified as the day wore on. At dinnertime, his truck was gone and Matt wasn't answering his phone. It was dark when she found the letter. "I just knew," Ginnie says. She called 911 immediately, but by the time the authorities located his truck, Matt had taken his life.

Ginnie describes her husband as strong and determined, funny and loving. They raised two children together. He would burst through the door singing the Mighty Mouse song – "Here I come to save the day!" – and make everyone laugh. He embraced new ideas and was progressive in his farming practices, one of the first in his county to practice no-till, a farming method that does not disturb the soil. "In everything he did, he wanted to be a giver and not a taker," she says.

After his death, Ginnie began combing through Matt's things. "Every scrap of paper, everything I could find that would make sense of what had happened." His phone records showed a 20-minute phone call to an unfamiliar number on the afternoon he died.

When she dialed the number, Dr Mike Rosmann answered.

"My name is Virginia Peters," she said. "My husband died of suicide on May 12th."

There was a pause on the line.

"I have been so worried," said Rosmann. "Mrs Peters, I am so glad you called me."

Rosmann, an Iowa farmer, is a psychologist and one of the nation's leading farmer behavioral health experts. He often answers phone calls from those in crisis. And for 40 years, he has worked to understand why farmers take their lives at such alarming rates – currently, higher rates than any other occupation in the United States.

Once upon a time, I was a vegetable farmer in Arizona. And I, too, called Rosmann. I was depressed, unhappily married, a new mom, overwhelmed by the kind of large debt typical for a farm operation.

We were growing food, but couldn't afford to buy it. We worked 80 hours a week, but we couldn't afford to see a dentist, let alone a therapist. I remember panic when a late freeze threatened our crop, the constant fights about money, the way light swept across the walls on the days I could not force myself to get out of bed.

"Farming has always been a stressful occupation because many of the factors that affect agricultural production are largely beyond the control of the producers," wrote Rosmann in the journal Behavioral Healthcare. "The emotional wellbeing of family farmers and ranchers is intimately intertwined with these changes."

Last year, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people working in agriculture – including farmers, farm laborers, ranchers, fishers, and lumber harvesters – take their lives at a rate higher than any other occupation. The data suggested that the suicide rate for agricultural workers in 17 states was nearly five times higher compared with that in the general population.

After the study was released, Newsweek reported that the suicide death rate for farmers was more than double that of military veterans. This, however, could be an underestimate, as the data collected skipped several major agricultural states, including Iowa. Rosmann and other experts add that the farmer suicide rate might be higher, because an unknown number of farmers disguise their suicides as farm accidents.

The US farmer suicide crisis echoes a much larger farmer suicide crisis happening globally: an Australian farmer dies by suicide every four days; in the UK, one farmer a week takes his or her own life; in France, one farmer dies by suicide every two days; in India, more than 270,000 farmers have died by suicide since 1995.

In 2014, I left my marriage and my farm, and I began to write. I aimed to explore our country's fervent celebration of the agrarian, and yet how, despite the fact that we so desperately need farmers for our survival, we often forget about their wellbeing.

Four years after contacting Rosmann as a farmer, I am traveling across Iowa with a photographer in an attempt to understand the suicide crisis on America's farms. It's been raining all morning – big gray swaths – and we are standing in the entryway of the Rosmanns' house.

"Should we take off our shoes?" we ask. Mike's wife, Marilyn, waves us off. "It's a farmhouse," she says. On this overcast day, the farmhouse is warm and immaculately decorated. Marilyn is baking cranberry bars in the brightly lit kitchen. 

Mike appears a midwestern Santa Claus – glasses perched on a kind, round face; a head of white hair and a bushy white moustache. In 1979, Mike and Marilyn left their teaching positions at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and bought 190 acres in Harlan, Iowa – near Mike's boyhood farm. When he told his colleagues that he was trading academia for farm life, they were incredulous.

"I told them farmers are an endangered species, and we need them for our sustenance. I need to go take care of farmers, because nobody else does," says Rosmann. Once back in Iowa, the Rosmanns farmed corn, soybeans, oats, hay, purebred cattle, chickens and turkeys. Mike opened a psychology practice, Marilyn worked as a nurse, and they raised two children.

When the rain breaks, Mike pulls on muck boots over his pants, and we go outside. He has the slightest limp; in 1990, during the oat harvest, he lost four of his toes "in a moment of carelessness" with the grain combine, an event he describes as life-changing. We are walking through the wet grass toward the cornfield behind his house, when he cranes his head. "Hear the calves bellering?" he asks. "They've just been weaned." We stop and listen; the calves sound out in distressed notes, their off-key voices like prepubescent boys crying out across the field.

In the 1980s, America's continuing family farm crisis began. A wrecking ball for rural America, it was the worst agricultural economic crisis since the Great Depression. Market prices crashed. Loans were called in. Interest rates doubled overnight. Farmers were forced to liquidate their operations and evicted from their land. There were fights at grain elevators, shootings in local banks. The suicide rate soared. 

"What we went through in the 1980s farm crisis was hell," says Donn Teske, a farmer and president of the Kansas Farmers Union. "I mean, it was ungodly hell."

In the spring of 1985, farmers descended on Washington DC by the thousands, including David Senter, president of the American Agriculture Movement (AAM) and a historian for FarmAid. For weeks, the protesting farmers occupied a tent on the Mall, surrounded the White House, marched along Pennsylvania Avenue. Farmers marched hundreds of black crosses – each with the name of a foreclosure or suicide victim – to the USDA building and drove them into the ground. "It looked like a cemetery," recalls Senter.

Rosmann worked on providing free counseling, referrals for services, and community events to break down stigmas of mental health issues among farmers. "People just did not deal with revealing their tender feelings. They felt like failures," says Rosmann. 

During the height of the farm crisis, telephone hotlines were started in most agricultural states.

"And what was the impact?"

"We stopped the suicides here," he says of his community in Iowa. "And every state that had a telephone hotline reduced the number of farming related suicides."

In 1999, Rosmann joined an effort called Sowing Seeds of Hope (SSOH), which began in Wisconsin, and connected uninsured and underinsured farmers in seven midwestern states to affordable behavioral health services. In 2001, Rosmann became the executive director. For 14 years, the organization fielded approximately a half-million telephone calls from farmers, trained over 10,000 rural behavioral health professionals, and provided subsidized behavioral health resources to over 100,000 farm families.

Rosmann's program proved so successful that it became the model for a nationwide program called the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). Rosmann and his colleagues were hopeful that farmers would get the federal support they so desperately needed – but though the program was approved as part of the 2008 US Farm Bill, it was not funded.

While Senator Tom Harkin and other sympathetic legislators tried to earmark money for the FRSAN, they were outvoted. Rosmann says that several members of the House and Senate – most of them Republicans – "were disingenuous". In an email, Rosmann wrote, "They promised support to my face and to others who approached them to support the FRSAN, but when it came time to vote … they did not support appropriating money … Often they claimed it was an unnecessary expenditure which would increase the national debt, while also saying healthy farmers are the most important asset to agricultural production."

The program, which would have created regional and national helplines and provided counseling for farmers, was estimated to cost the government $18m annually. Rosmann argues that US farmers lost by suicide totals much more than this – in dollars, farmland, national security in the form of food, and the emotional and financial toll on families and entire communities. In 2014, the federal funding that supported Rosmann's Sowing Seeds of Hope came to an end, and the program was shuttered.

The September sky is chalk gray, and for a moment it rains. John Blaske's cows are lined up at the fence; cicadas trill from the trees. It's been a year since he flipped through Missouri Farmer Today and froze, startled by an article written by Rosmann.

"Suicide death rate of farmers higher than other groups, CDC reports," the headline read.

"I read it 12 or 15 times," Blaske says, sitting next to his wife Joyce at the kitchen table. "It hit home something drastically." 

In the house, every square inch of wall or shelf space is filled with memorabilia and photos of their six children and 13 grandchildren. Music croons softly from the kitchen radio.

Blaske is tall and stoic, with hands toughened by work and a somber voice that rarely changes in inflection. We've been speaking by phone since the winter, when Rosmann connected us. "How's the weather out there in Arizona?" he would ask at the outset of each phone call. I've followed Blaske through multiple health scares and hospital stays, as he has realized that the depression and suicidal thoughts he's endured alone for years are common among farmers. 

The first time we spoke, Blaske told me, "In the last 25 to 30 years, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about suicide."

The CDC report suggested possible causes for the high suicide rate among US farmers, including "social isolation, potential for financial losses, barriers to and unwillingness to seek mental health services (which might be limited in rural areas), and access to lethal means".

For a farmer, loss of land often cuts deeper than a death, something Blaske understands firsthand. On Thanksgiving Day in 1982, a spark shot out from Blaske's woodstove to a box of newspaper. The fire climbed curtains, melted doors, burned most of the house. The Blaskes became homeless. 

Soon after the fire, the farm crisis intensified. The bank raised their interest rate from seven to 18%. Blaske raced between banks and private lenders, attempting to renegotiate loan terms. Agreements would be made and then fall through. "They did not care whether we had to live in a grader ditch," remembers Blaske. 

Desperate, the family filed for bankruptcy and lost 265 acres. For the first time, Blaske began to think of suicide.

Much of the acreage lost to the Blaskes sits across the road from the 35 acres they retain today. "I can't leave our property without seeing what we lost," Blaske frets. "You can't imagine how that cuts into me every day. It just eats me alive."

Rosmann has developed what he calls the agrarian imperative theory – though he is quick to say it sits on the shoulders of other psychologists. "People engaged in farming," he explains, "have a strong urge to supply essentials for human life, such as food and materials for clothing, shelter and fuel, and to hang on to their land and other resources needed to produce these goods at all costs."

When farmers can't fulfill this instinctual purpose, they feel despair. Thus, within the theory lies an important paradox: the drive that makes a farmer successful is the same that exacerbates failure, sometimes to the point of suicide. In an article, Rosmann wrote that the agrarian imperative theory "is a plausible explanation of the motivations of farmers to be agricultural producers and to sometimes end their lives".

Since 2013, net farm income for US farmers has declined 50%. Median farm income for 2017 is projected to be negative $1,325. And without parity in place (essentially a minimum price floor for farm products), most commodity prices remain below the cost of production.

In an email, Rosmann wrote, "The rate of self-imposed [farmer] death rises and falls in accordance with their economic well-being … Suicide is currently rising because of our current farm recession."

Inside the sunny lobby of the newly remodeled Onaga community hospital, where Joyce Blaske happens to work in the business department, Dr Nancy Zidek has just finished her rounds. As a family medicine doctor, she sees behavioral health issues frequently among her farmer patients, which she attributes to the stressors inherent in farming. 

"If your farm is struggling, you're certainly going to be depressed and going to be worried about how to put food on the table, how to get your kids to college," she says.

In August 2017, Tom Giessel, farmer and president of the Pawnee County Kansas Farmers Union produced a short video called "Ten Things a Bushel of Wheat Won't Buy". At $3.27 per bushel (60lb), Giessel says, "The grain I produce and harvest is my 'currency' and it is less than one-fifth of what it should be priced." 


He shows snapshots of consumer goods that cost more than a bushel of wheat: six English muffins, four rolls of toilet paper, a single loaf of bread – even though one bushel of wheat is enough to make 70 one-pound breadloaves.

Dr Zidek says the wellbeing of farmers is inextricably linked to the health of rural communities. "The grain prices are low. The gas prices are high. Farmers feel the strain of 'I've got to get this stuff in the field. But if I can't sell it, I can't pay for next year's crop. I can't pay my loans at the bank off.' And that impacts the rest of us in a small community, because if the farmers can't come into town to purchase from the grocery store, the hardware store, the pharmacy – then those people also struggle."

Indeed, it is Saturday afternoon, and downtown Onaga is practically deserted. There's a liquor store, a school, a few churches, a pizza place, a youth center and boarded-up storefronts. "You need to have a family farm structure to have rural communities – for school systems, churches, hospitals," says Donn Teske of the Kansas Farmers Union. "I'm watching with serious dismay the industrialization of the agriculture sector and the depopulation of rural Kansas … In rural America," he adds, "maybe the war is lost."

After finding the article in Missouri Farmer Today, John Blaske decided to contact Rosmann. But the article listed a website, and the Blaskes did not own a computer. So he drove to the library and asked a librarian to send an email to Rosmann on his behalf. A few days later, as Blaske was driving his tractor down the road, Rosmann called him back. 

"He wanted to hear what I had to say," Blaske says. "Someone needs to care about what's going on out here."

Since the 1980s farm crisis, Rosmann says experts have learned much more about how to support farmers. Confidential crisis communication systems – by telephone or online – are effective, but staff need to be versed in the reality and language of agriculture.

"If you go to a therapist who may know about therapy but doesn't understand farming, the therapist might say, 'Take a vacation – that's the best thing you can do.' And the farmer will say, 'But my cows aren't on a five-day-a-week schedule.'"

Affordable therapy is critical and inexpensive to fund – Rosmann says many issues can be resolved in fewer than five sessions, which he compares to an Employee Assistance Program. Medical providers need to be educated about physical and behavioral health vulnerabilities in agricultural populations, an effort Rosmann is working on with colleagues.

John Blaske says painting helps. When he's feeling up to it, he paints heavy saw blades with detailed farmscapes. Counseling and medication have also helped, but he craves conversation with farmers who know what he's experiencing. "I would really give about anything to go and talk to people," he says. "If any one person thinks they are the only one in this boat, they are badly mistaken. It's like Noah's Ark. It's running over."

Inside the farmhouse, Blaske places two journals in my hands. They're filled with memories of walking through town barefoot as a child, how his mother would pick sandburs out of his feet at night; about the years he worked full-time at the grain elevator, only to come home to farmwork in the dark and counting cows by flashlight.

The image of Blaske on the farm, illuminating the darkness, is a powerful one. "Sometimes the batteries were low and the light was not so bright," he wrote, "But when you found the cow that was missing, you also found a newborn calf, which made the dark of night much brighter."

In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.



4) Socialism, Capitalism Seen in New Light by Younger Americans; Surveys show a leftward tilt, and pessimism about the future, among millennials

"Democrats may appear poised to capitalize on these trends in midterm elections next year and the presidential election in 2020. An NBC News poll of millennials released last week showed that just 19% of young people identify as Republicans and 71% don't believe the GOP cares about people like them. By comparison, 53% said Democrats care about people like them. But in the most recent survey for Harvard, Mr. Della Volpe asked the same question and found that just 34% of millennials believe the Democratic Party cares about them." 

By Eli Stokols, December 6, 2017


ELON, N.C.—John Della Volpe, who has been polling millennials for 17 years, stood before about 150 students in a gleaming new center at Elon University this fall in search of an answer.

In his 2016 survey for Harvard University's Institute of Politics, 42% of younger Americans said they support capitalism, and only 19% identified themselves as capitalists. While this was a new question in his survey, the low percentage of young people embracing capitalism surprised him. He had come here, in part, to better understand why.

"Maybe it had to do with the 'American Dream,' and how capitalism was correlated with it, but a lot of young people don't believe in it anymore," said Ana Garcia, a junior at the Elon event. "We don't trust capitalism because we don't see ourselves getting ahead."

Largely because of such millennials, generally those born in the 1980s and 1990s, socialism has moved from being a taboo because of its associations with the Cold War to something that has found rising appeal among those polled by Harvard and in other surveys that compared different generations.

Grace Magness, an Elon freshman, has experienced the shift firsthand. Her great grandfather, she said, was named Eugene Debs after the labor leader who ran for president five times for the Socialist Party at the turn of the 20th century. "He was so embarrassed about it when he was older that he would never introduce himself using his full name," Ms. Magness said.

For her, she says, "socialism has gotten less spooky; it's no longer associated with communism the way it was." She adds: "straight-up capitalism seems like it has a lot of potential to be really corrupt."

Young people across the generations tend to be viewed as more left-leaning than their elders. Underlying the millennial generation's leftward tilt is angst about the future, Mr. Della Volpe said. In a new smaller Harvard survey, released Tuesday, 67% of those polled said they are more worried than hopeful about the direction of the country. The fall survey sampled 2,037 peopled aged 18 to 29 in live interviews.

"If something unites these young people," Mr. Della Volpe said, "it's fear," driven by their perception that they have limited economic opportunities and that society as a whole has become more unequal.

The 2016 poll also found that the millennial generation is less religious than their parents and losing faith in institutions—a finding consistent with other polls that track some of that loss of faith to the slow recovery from the deep recession that began in 2008.

"Every new group of voters is disproportionately affected by whatever was salient when they were growing up," said Celinda Lake, a long-time Democratic pollster. "That's led this group to be really cynical about institutions: military, government."

In the view of Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster and the author of, "The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials Are Leading America and How Republicans Can Keep Up," the idea that young people tend to be liberal and become more conservative with age is misguided. "The oldest millennials are actually the most left-leaning," she said. "If you came of age, graduated college and were job hunting around the time of the financial crisis, you might be asking, What have free markets done for you? The easy rhetoric that 'markets are bad, government is bad' is appealing."

The Harvard survey has polled roughly 1,000 respondents between 18 and 29 years old annually since 2001. The sample size has grown over time. In the spring 2016 survey, it was a measure of nearly 3,200 people. The survey has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

Still, millennials polled say they want a bigger role for government in making conditions better for their future. The number of young people who believe that tax cuts spark economic growth, which had held fairly steady for years, fell seven points over the past two years, according to the 2016 Harvard survey.

That may be an ominous portent for the GOP, which is on the verge of passing a major tax overhaul that is projected to add $1 trillion to the federal deficit and cut taxes for corporations. According to the new Harvard poll released Tuesday, 67% of respondents oppose the way President Donald Trump is handling the tax measure. And a Quinnipiac University poll also released Tuesday showed that 78% of millennials, defined in the survey as 18-to-34 year-olds, believe the GOP tax overhaul would mostly benefit the wealthy.

"We are on the verge of a very significant political movement led by millennials," Mr. Della Volpe of Harvard said. "This generation does not believe in trickle-down economics."

Democrats may appear poised to capitalize on these trends in midterm elections next year and the presidential election in 2020. An NBC News poll of millennials released last week showed that just 19% of young people identify as Republicans and 71% don't believe the GOP cares about people like them. By comparison, 53% said Democrats care about people like them.

But in the most recent survey for Harvard, Mr. Della Volpe asked the same question and found that just 34% of millennials believe the Democratic Party cares about them.

"Democrats can't take these voters for granted," Mr. Della Volpe said. "They have a year or so to focus on this generation, but if they fail to do so in the 2018 cycle, someone else will in 2020."

Millennials also say they consider themselves socially conscious, which has ramifications for potential employers.

"They see where they work as an extension of who they are and what they value," said Whitney Dailey, the director of marketing and research at Cone Communications, a firm that advises on corporate-responsibility strategies. "They're looking to work with companies that align with their values."

According to Cone's 2016 millennial-engagement study, which surveyed more than 1,000 employees at large companies, 76% of respondents between ages 20 and 35 consider a company's social commitment when searching for a job; 75% are willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that suits their values.

When recruiting new employees, Don Slager, chief executive of waste-management company Republic Services Inc., emphasizes diversity training for managers, a 10-hour workday for employees in an industry where longer shifts are common, and investments in recycling programs.

"I think there's more commitment and I think that is absolutely tied to the millennials because the younger generation just inherently cares more about it," Mr. Slager said. "And I think that kind of consumerism will drive companies to make different decisions."

Following the 2008 crash, Citigroup Inc. changed recruitment efforts to offer a better work-life balance. These programs, including one that lets employees defer their job responsibilities for a year to do philanthropic or volunteer work and be paid 60% of their salary, arose from a recognition of the younger generation's heightened social consciousness.

"When we go to college campuses, we tell the students we work with a purpose, that we're trying to do good for society," said Jamie Forese, Citigroup's president. "And students don't want apologies; they want a plan that's forward looking."



5)  Official Toll in Puerto Rico: 62. Actual Deaths May Be 1,052.

 DEC. 8, 2017

A review by The New York Times of daily mortality data from Puerto Rico's vital statistics bureau indicates a significantly higher death toll after Hurricane Maria than the government there has acknowledged.



After Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, P.R., family members were trying to get Rosa Maria Torres, 95, airlifted out of the town. "If they don't move her out of here, she's going to die," said Carmen Santos, Ms. Torres's granddaughter.Alvin Baez/Reuters

The death toll continued to climb for weeks after the storm struck as the recovery dragged on. Hospitals struggled to keep clinics open. And officials still have not restored power across the island in the more than two months after Maria made landfall.

The Times's analysis found that in the 42 days since Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20 as a Category 4 storm, 1,052 more people than usual died across the island. The analysis compared the number of deaths for each day in 2017 with the average of the number of deaths for the same days in 2015 and 2016.

Officially, just 62 people died as a result of the storm that ravaged the island with nearly 150-mile-an-hour winds, cutting off power to 3.4 million Puerto Ricans. The last four fatalities were added to the death toll on Dec. 2.

"Before the hurricane, I had an average of 82 deaths daily. That changes from Sept. 20 to 30th. Now I have an average of 118 deaths daily," Wanda Llovet, the director of the Demographic Registry in Puerto Rico, said in a mid-November interview. Since then, she said on Thursday, both figures have increased by one.

Data for October are not yet complete, and the number of deaths recorded in that month is expected to rise. Record-keeping has been delayed because Puerto Rico's power grid is operating at less than 70 percent of its capacity and swaths of the island still do not have power.

The deadliest day was Sept. 25, the day the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo A. Rosselló, warned that a looming humanitarian crisis could prompt a mass exodus from the island.

President Trump responded that night by taking to Twitter to say the island had to deal with its massive debt: "Food, water and medical are top priorities - and doing well. #FEMA."

It was over 90 degrees, and power was out on most of the island, even in most hospitals. Bedridden people were having trouble getting medical treatment, and dialysis clinics were operating with generators and limiting treatment hours. People on respirators lacked electricity to power the machines.

On that day, 135 people died in Puerto Rico. By comparison, 75 people died on that day in 2016 and 60 died in 2015.

One local mayor went to the Federal Emergency Management Agency command post that day and shouted for help. Statistics show his city, Manatí, had among the highest mortality rates in September.

With communications down throughout the island and bodies piling up in hospital morgues, the government was still clinging to its early death count estimate of 16.

On Sept. 29, Héctor M. Pesquera, Puerto Rico's public safety secretary, said in an interview that the death count would not swell by much.

"Will it go up? I am pretty sure it will go up," he said. "It won't double or triple. It's not like an earthquake where you have a building and you don't know whether there were 20 in the building or 300 in the building until you get all the rubble out."

The day he said that, 127 people died, 57 more than the year before.

On Oct. 3, nearly two weeks after the storm, Mr. Trump visited the island and praised the low official death toll. He referred to the 1,833 deaths in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina as a "real catastrophe."

"Sixteen people certified," Mr. Trump said. "Sixteen people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people and all of our people working together."

By that visit, an additional 556 people had died in Puerto Rico compared with the same period over the two prior years.

The Times estimates that in the three weeks after the storm, the toll was 739 deaths. If all those additional deaths were to be counted as related to the hurricane, it would make Maria the sixth deadliest hurricane since 1851.

The method used to count official storm deaths varies by state and locality. In some parts of the United States, medical examiners include only direct deaths, such as those caused by drowning in floodwaters. In Puerto Rico, however, Mr. Pesquera said, the medical examiner includes deaths caused indirectly by storms, such as suicides. That is why the gap between the official death toll and the hundreds of additional deaths is so striking.

study, which has not been peer-reviewed, by a Pennsylvania State University professor and an independent researcher estimated that the death toll could be 10 times higher than the government's official count.

The Center for Investigative Journalism reported on Thursday that another estimate, from the Center for Puerto Rican Studies of The City University of New York, found that 1,065 more people than usual died in the months of September and October.

Records from Puerto Rico's government show that some of the leading causes of death in September were diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, although the causes of death are still pending for 313 of the September deaths. The number of diabetes deaths was 24 percent higher than it was last year — and 39 percent higher than it was in 2015.

But the highest surge was in deaths from sepsis — a complication of severe infection — which jumped 50 percent over last year. That change is notable and could be explained by delayed medical treatment or poor conditions in homes and hospitals.

Pneumonia and emphysema deaths also saw spikes.

For weeks, Puerto Rico's Department of Public Safety insisted that the surge was coincidental: Government officials believed hundreds of additional people had died of natural causes. But the news media continued to investigate — CNN surveyed half the island's funeral homes to come up with an additional 499 deaths the funeral directors believed were related to the storm.

Under pressure, the government called for morticians and family members to come forward with more information, and it says its forensic science office is reviewing cases.

As more instances have come to light of deaths because of power failures at local hospitals, or oxygen tanks that ran out, the government has said that it is willing to revise the death count upward.

"What we said is, 'Give us the information,' " the governor, Mr. Rosselló, told The Times.

Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch of the National Center for Health Statistics, said Puerto Rico's spike in deaths is statistically significant and unlikely to be the result of an unlucky fluke. Not even a bad flu season would make the mortality rate increase that much, he said.

"I think there's fairly compelling evidence that that increase is probably due to the hurricane," Mr. Anderson said. "That's a lot."

He said getting the number right was important.

"From the standpoint of prevention and preparedness, I think understanding the circumstances behind the deaths that occur is extremely important," Mr. Anderson said. "If we have a lack of information, we can't adequately prepare for the next disaster. We can't put measures in place to prevent deaths occurring in the future."



6)  The Republican War on Children

By   DEC. 7, 2017




The health care of Alexander Gardner, 7, is covered by a federal program whose funding expired in September. CreditMark Makela for The New York Times

Let me ask you a question; take your time in answering it. Would you be willing to take health care away from a thousand children with the bad luck to have been born into low-income families so that you could give millions of extra dollars to just one wealthy heir?

You might think that this question is silly, hypothetical and has an obvious answer. But it's not at all hypothetical, and the answer apparently isn't obvious. For it's a literal description of the choice Republicans in Congress seem to be making as you read this.

The Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, is basically a piece of Medicaid targeted on young Americans. It was introduced in 1997, with bipartisan support. Last year it covered 8.9 million kids. But its funding expired more than two months ago. Republicans keep saying they'll restore the money, but they keep finding reasons not to do it; state governments, which administer the program, will soon have to start cutting children off.

What's the problem? The other day Senator Orrin Hatch, asked about the program (which he helped create), once again insisted that it will be funded — but without saying when or how (and there don't seem to be any signs of movement on the issue). And he further declared, "The reason CHIP's having trouble is that we don't have money anymore." Then he voted for an immense tax cut.

And one piece of that immense tax cut is a big giveaway to inheritors of large estates. Under current law, a married couple's estate pays no tax unless it's worth more than $11 million, so that only a handful of estates — around 5,500, or less than 0.2 percent of the total number of deaths a year — owe any tax at all. The number of taxable estates is also, by the way, well under one one-thousandth of the number of children covered by CHIP.

But Republicans still consider this tax an unacceptable burden on the rich. The Senate bill would double the exemption to $22 million; the House bill would eliminate the estate tax entirely.

So now let's talk dollars. CHIP covers a lot of children, but children's health care is relatively cheap compared with care for older Americans. In fiscal 2016 the program cost only $15 billion, a tiny share of the federal budget. Meanwhile, under current law the estate tax is expected to bring in about $20 billion, more than enough to pay for CHIP.

As you see, then, my question wasn't at all hypothetical. By their actions, Republicans are showing that they consider it more important to give extra millions to one already wealthy heir than to provide health care to a thousand children.

Are there any possible defenses for this choice? Republicans like to claim that tax cuts pay for themselves by spurring economic growth, but no serious economists agree — and that's the case even for things like corporate tax cuts that might have some positive economic effect. Applied to inheritance taxes, this claim is beyond absurd: There is no plausible argument to the effect that letting wealthy heirs claim their inheritance tax-free will make the economy boom.

What about the argument that estate taxes are a burden on small businesses and family farms? That's a total, thoroughly debunked myth: Each year only around 80 — eight-zero — small businesses and farms pay any estate tax at all. And when you hear about family farms broken up to pay estate tax, remember: Nobody has ever come up with a modern example.

Then there's the argument of Senator Chuck Grassley that we need to eliminate estate taxes to reward those who don't spend their money on "booze or women or movies." Yes, indeed, letting the likes of Donald Trump Jr. inherit wealth tax-free is a reward for their fathers' austere lifestyles.

Meanwhile, here's the funny thing: While there is zero evidence that tax cuts pay for themselves, there's considerable evidence that aiding lower-income children actually saves money in the long run.

Think about it. Children who get adequate care are more likely to be healthier and more productive when they become adults, which means that they'll earn more and pay more in taxes. They're also less likely to become disabled and need government support. One recent studyestimated that the government in fact earns a return of between 2 and 7 percent on the money it spends insuring children.

By the way, broadly similar results have been found for the food stamp program: Ensuring adequate nutrition for the young means healthier, more productive adults, so that in the long run this aid costs taxpayers little or nothing.

But such results, while interesting and important, aren't the main reason we should be providing children with health care and enough to eat. Simple decency should be reason enough. And despite everything we've seen in U.S. politics, it's still hard to believe that a whole political party would balk at doing the decent thing for millions of kids while rushing to further enrich a few thousand wealthy heirs.

That is, however, exactly what's happening. And it's as bad, in its own way, as that same party's embrace of a child molester because they expect him to vote for tax cuts.



7)  Philippines Extends Martial Law in South for Another Year

 DEC. 13, 2017




Members of the Philippine special forces patrolling near Marawi on the island of Mindanao in September. The government declared victory over Islamist militants in Marawi in October.CreditJes Aznar for The New York Times

MANILA — The Philippine Congress on Wednesday approved a request from President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law on the southern island of Mindanao for another year, which the president said was needed to fight armed groups there.

Mindanao was placed under martial law in May, after local militants backed by the Islamic State seized the city of Marawi. After months of fighting, the government declared victory there in October. But Mr. Duterte said Friday that a yearlong extension of martial law was needed to ensure the "total eradication" of militancy in Mindanao, an impoverished region where various armed groups have been active for decades.

Both houses of Congress approved Mr. Duterte's request overwhelmingly, despite opposition lawmakers' warnings that martial law was no longer needed and that to extend it risked eroding constitutional values. The martial law edict gives the military widespread powers, including the ability to carry out warrantless arrests and set up roadblocks and checkpoints.

The president's request for an extension came shortly after he halted efforts to reach a peace deal with the underground Communist Party of the Philippines, whose armed unit, the New People's Army, has stepped up attacks in remote communities on Mindanao and elsewhere.

Harry Roque, a presidential spokesman, said Wednesday that the extension of martial law was needed to fight "the communist terrorists and their coddlers, supporters and financiers" and to "ensure the unhampered rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi and the lives of its residents."

In his request to Congress, Mr. Duterte said that while Islamist militants had been beaten back from Marawi, military intelligence had tracked Islamic State-linked gunmen spreading to other parts of Mindanao, the country's main southern island and home to the only substantial Muslim population in the overwhelmingly Catholic Philippines. Mr. Duterte said these groups had stepped up their recruitment and "radicalization" activities.

"These activities are geared towards the conduct of intensified atrocities and armed public uprisings in support of their objective of establishing the foundation of a global Islamic caliphate," Mr. Duterte said.

He identified a militant named Abu Turaipe as the likely successor to Isnilon Hapilon, who was killed in Marawi and was thought to have been the leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia. Mr. Turaipe's ragtag fighters have been engaged in low-intensity fighting with soldiers in marshlands in central Mindanao since August.

Mr. Turaipe's group, once dismissed as a small band of bandits, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State last year. Mr. Duterte asserted that the group had been gaining strength and was "planning to conduct bombings" in urban centers in the Philippines.

He also said that security forces were still hunting for at least 185 fighters believed to have been involved in the Marawi siege. More than 1,200 people were killed in the fighting in Marawi, the biggest security threat the Philippines has faced since Mr. Duterte took office last year.

Rights groups and opposition politicians have criticized Mr. Duterte's request to extend martial law, warning that the authoritarian president was setting the stage for an eventual declaration of military rule across the entire country. Mr. Duterte has raised that possibility before.

Francis Pangilinan, the leader of the opposition in the Senate, argued that the victory in Marawi ended the need for continued military rule. He said that if Congress agreed to extend martial law, "we will be in danger of becoming the monsters that we seek to defeat, those who have no regard for law, order or respect for the Constitution."

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, arguing the president's position in Congress, said that such perceptions were "far from what's happening on the ground" in Mindanao, where the armed forces have reported that militancy is spreading.

"There might not be fighting in Marawi anymore, but there are still clashes almost every day in other parts of Mindanao," Mr. Lorenzana said.



8)  Rwanda Accuses France of Complicity in 1994 Genocide

 DEC. 13, 2017




French soldiers patrolling past Hutu troops from the Rwandan government forces in 1994.CreditPascal Guyot/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

KIGALI, Rwanda — The Rwandan government released an independent report on Wednesday accusing French officials of complicity in the 1994 genocide, risking further strains to already icy relations between the two countries.

The report, commissioned by the Rwandan government and conducted by a Washington law firm, alleges that French military forces trained their Rwandan counterparts, supplied them with weapons even after an arms embargo, and gave cover, under the auspices of a United Nations-sanctioned humanitarian mission, in the last moments of a genocidal campaign.

Researchers and the Rwandan government say they cannot get France to make good on earlier commitments to fully open its archives or otherwise investigate the country's role.

"What happened in the early '90s and even before, in the lead-up to the genocide, is something France will have to come to terms with," said Louise Mushikiwabo, the foreign minister of Rwanda. "Rwanda is not going away. We're not going anywhere."

Archival documents show that the French government was a close ally of the Rwandan regime that planned and perpetrated the mass slaughter of an estimated 800,000 people, most of them members of the Tutsi ethnic minority. Historians say a son of François Mitterrand, the French president at the time, was also a close friend of the Rwandan leader whose government organized the genocide.

Some examples of French complicity remain raw 23 years later.

"There were cases where they found Tutsi refugees, saw them, and then left them, and more of them were killed," said Timothy P. Longman, the director of the African Studies Center at Boston University. "It's one thing after another. The French absolutely deserve to be condemned."

The two governments have repeatedly tussled over access to information, in procedural disputes that are part of a larger political drama.

In 2006, a French judge opened an investigation into the 1994 plane crash that killed President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda, a member of the majority Hutu ethnic group. The crash is widely seen as the spark that ignited the genocide, making responsibility for the crash one of the most politically volatile questions in Rwanda.

According to diplomatic cables, French officials at the time blamed the Tutsi rebel army led by Paul Kagame, now Rwanda's president. Mr. Kagame's government has long maintained that the plane was shot down by Hutu military actors.

The Rwandans responded to the investigation by severing diplomatic ties with France and initiating their own inquiry into the French role in the genocide. The two countries did not restore diplomatic relations until 2009.

The relationship nevertheless remains fraught. In 2015, France blocked the nomination of Rwanda's ambassador to the European Union; the country is still waiting for approval of its new appointee for the post, according to Rwandan government officials.

France's reluctance to prosecute individuals involved in the genocide has further aggravated the situation.

Last year, the Rwandan government asked the French for permission to question some of the 22 French military officers who it said bore some responsibility for the killings. The French government has never replied to that request, said Ms. Mushikiwabo, the foreign minister.

In October, an investigative judge at the Paris Court of Appeal upheld a decision not to investigate two top French military figures in Rwanda for complicity in the genocide. Among the issues raised was alleged French responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of Tutsis at Bisesero, while French troops were present only miles away, according to the International Federation for Human Rights, a Paris-based organization that was party to the case.

Rwandans living in France who are suspected of perpetrating the genocide — including the then-president's wife, thought to have been a mastermind of the massacres — have also largely escaped prosecution. In 2013, the French government started a special unit for investigating war crimes, but only a few Rwandans have been prosecuted.

Ms. Mushikiwabo said the report was the first step in increasing pressure the Rwandans will bring to bear on the French. The Washington law firm Cunningham Levy Muse, which produced the report, will continue its investigations, Ms. Mushikiwabo said, adding that the Rwandan government was amassing its own archive of contemporary documents, including some left behind by the French.

The report also comes at a time of renewed interest in France's accountability for suspected crimes abroad. Two weeks ago, during a visit to Burkina Faso, President Emmanuel Macron promised to declassify documents related to the 1987 assassination of that country's president, Thomas Sankara. Many in Burkina Faso suspect the French of being involved in his death.

But on a visit last week to the former French colony of Algeria, Mr. Macron resisted questions about French atrocities there, insisting that it was time to "look forward."

Mr. Macron's predecessor, François Hollande, declassified some documents relating to Rwanda, but French researchers say too much of the primary historical record is still off-limits.

Last month, a French court denied François Garner, a French researcher on Rwanda, access to documents in the archive of Mr. Mitterrand, the French president during the genocide. Mr. Garner plans to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr. Garner said that basic historical questions about France's role in Rwanda remained unanswered, and that those questions very likely have far-reaching consequences.

"The Rwanda intervention is the most symbolic of the more than 50 French military interventions in Africa," Mr. Garner said. French forces are still involved in Africa, he added, and they are deployed "with nearly the same decision-making mechanisms that were at play in Rwanda."

Toby Cadman, an international criminal lawyer based in London with extensive experience in mass-atrocity trials, said the questions at play also had an impact on global affairs.

"Genocide like this happens when other states provide material support," he said. "You look at the situation in Myanmar, where they're clearly getting cover from China and the United States, and we criticize Russia for their role in Syria. It doesn't seem like we've learned very much."

Some critics say that Rwanda is an imperfect messenger on facing history, given the government's refusal to acknowledge crimes said to have been committed by the rebel army that ended the genocide.

But Rwandan officials insist that such allegations do not absolve an unrepentant France.

"There was a civil war and a genocide in this country," said Ms. Mushikiwabo, the foreign minister. "Clearly, it is not possible to conduct war without people dying."

"If we were to say that yes, there were massacres, there were killings that were a result of the war that the Rwandan Patriotic Army conducted against the then-genocidaire army — that is clear," she continued, using the official name of the rebels' military arm at the end of the genocide. "That does not take away the fact that France was part of the planning, part of the conception, and part of the execution of the genocide."



9) Scientists Link Hurricane Harvey's Record Rainfall to Climate Change

 DEC. 13, 2017




Evading a wave in Houston after Hurricane Harvey hit on Aug. 25.CreditBrendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

NEW ORLEANS — Climate change made the torrential rains that flooded Houston after Hurricane Harvey last summer much worse, scientists reported Wednesday.

Two research groups found that the record rainfall as Harvey stalled over Texas in late August, which totaled more than 50 inches in some areas, was as much as 38 percent higher than would be expected in a world that was not warming.

While many scientists had said at the time that Harvey was probably affected by climate change, because warmer air holds more moisture, the size of the increase surprised some.

"The amount of precipitation increase is worse than I expected," said Michael J. Wehner, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and an author of a paper on his group's findings, which included the 38 percent figure. Based on how much the world has warmed, Dr. Wehner said, before the analysis he had expected an increase of only about 6 or 7 percent.

The other study, by an international coalition of scientists known as World Weather Attribution, found that Harvey's rainfall was 15 percent higher than would be expected without climate change. Geert Jan van Oldenborgh of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and the lead author of the second study, said that climate change also made such an extreme rainstorm much more likely.

"The probability of such an event has increased by roughly a factor of three," he said. While the likelihood of a Harvey-like storm was perhaps once in every 3,000 years in the past, he said, now it's once every 1,000 years or so — which means that in any given year, there is 0.1 percent chance of a similar storm occurring along the Gulf Coast.

Harvey developed in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall near Corpus Christi, Tex., as a strong Category 4 hurricane. By the time it reached Houston it had weakened to a tropical storm, but it moved slowly over the region, rotating and picking up more moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of homes and businesses in the region were flooded and more than 80 people died.

David W. Titley, a meteorologist at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved with either study, said the research showed that "while a storm of Harvey's strength is still rare, it's not as rare as it once was.

"Communities all along the Gulf Coast need to adapt to a world where the heaviest rains are more than we have ever seen," he added.

Antonia Sebastian, a researcher at Rice University and a co-author of the World Weather Attribution paper, said that Harvey was a much larger event than governments and developers normally plan and build for.

"What we see from this study is that the flood hazard zone isn't stationary," Dr. Sebastian said. "Precipitation is changing, and that's changing the boundaries. That should be considered."

In August, a week before Hurricane Harvey, President Trump rolled back an Obama-era executive order that included climate change and sea-level rise in federal flood risk standards.

Both studies were released during the annual meeting here of the American Geophysical Union, a large gathering of leading climate researchers and other earth scientists.

The studies only looked at the impact of climate change on rainfall, not whether warming affected Harvey's formation or strength. Those issues remain a subject of much debate among scientists, with some researchers suggesting that strong hurricanes — category 4 and above — will become more frequent as the world continues to warm.

Teasing out the influence of climate change on hurricanes remains extremely problematic, Dr. van Oldenborgh said.

"The effect of climate change on hurricanes is horribly complicated," he said. "We're working on it, but it's very difficult."

But the more limited analysis, determining the influence of warming on the rainfall of a huge storm like Harvey "turns out to be a solvable problem," Dr. van Oldenborgh said.

The studies are the latest in a series of analyses that search for the fingerprints of climate change on individual weather events like storms or heat waves. Despite overwhelming evidence that the climate is changing overall because of greenhouse gases emissions, for years most scientists had said it was extremely difficult to link warming to specific events.

That has now changed, with studies in recent years that found that climate change affected Australian heat waves in 2013, downpours in Louisiana in 2016, floods in France that same year and many other events. In some cases — German floods around the same time as the French ones, for example — studies have been inconclusive or found no link to climate change.

Although there were some differences, the two current studies employed the same basic approach — making use of actual data from the storm, and comparing two sets of climate models, those that take into account existing conditions, in which rising carbon dioxide has warmed the planet, and those that assume CO2 emissions had never happened and the climate is as it was more than a century ago.

Dr. Titley, who served as chairman of a National Academies committee that looked at developments in the field of climate-change attribution, said that both studies were "carefully done and combine observations with the latest simulation techniques."

Dr. Wehner's study, in particular, raises the issue of whether climate change might have contributed to the slow motion of Harvey, a subject that Dr. Titley said was worthy of further research.



10)  F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules

 DEC. 14, 2017




Ajit Pai, the F.C.C. chairman, said the rollback of the net neutrality rules would eventually help consumers because broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast could offer people a wider variety of service options. CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to dismantle landmark rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the internet, granting broadband companies power to potentially reshape Americans' online experiences.

The agency scrapped so-called net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone services.

The action reversed the agency's 2015 decision, during the Obama administration, to better protect Americans as they have migrated to the internet for most communications.

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the commission, said the rollback of the rules would eventually help consumers because broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast could offer people a wider variety of service options. Mr. Pai was joined in the 3-to-2 vote by his two fellow Republican commissioners.

"We are helping consumers and promoting competition," Mr. Pai said in a speech before the vote. "Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas."

The discarding of net neutrality regulations is the most significant and controversial action by the F.C.C. under Mr. Pai. In his first 11 months as chairman, he has lifted media ownership limitseased caps on how much broadband providers can charge business customers and cut back on a low-income broadband program that was slated to be expanded to nationwide carriers.

His plan, first outlined early this year, set off a flurry of opposition. Critics of the changes say consumers may have more difficulty finding content online and that start-ups will have to pay to reach consumers. In the last week, there have been hundreds of protests across the country, and many websites have encouraged users to speak up against the repeal. Some groups have said they planned to file a lawsuit challenging the change.

The five commissioners were fiercely divided along party lines. In front of a room packed with reporters and television cameras from major networks, the two Democratic commissioners warned of consumer harms to come from the changes.

Mignon Clyburn, one of the Democratic commissioners who voted against the action, presented two accordion folders full of letters in protest to the changes, and accused the three Republican commissioners of defying the wishes of millions of Americans.

"I dissent, because I am among the millions outraged," said Ms. Clyburn. "Outraged, because the F.C.C. pulls its own teeth, abdicating responsibility to protect the nation's broadband consumers."

Brendan Carr, a Republican commissioner, said it was a "great day" and dismissed "apocalyptic" warnings.

"I'm proud to end this two-year experiment with heavy-handed regulation," Mr. Carr said.

During Mr. Pai's speech before the vote, security guards entered the meeting room at the F.C.C. headquarters and told everyone to evacuate. They did not offer details but demanded that attendees leave until the room was cleared. Commissioners were ushered out a back door. The hearing restarted a short time later.

Despite all the uproar, it is unclear how much will change for internet users. The rules were essentially a protective measure, largely meant to prevent telecom companies from favoring some sites over others. And major telecom companies have promised consumers that their experiences online would not change.

Mr. Pai and his Republican colleagues have echoed the comments of telecom companies, who have told regulators that they weren't expanding and upgrading their networks as quickly as they wanted to since the creation of the rules in 2015.

"Your internet Thursday afternoon will not change in any significant and substantial way," Michael Powell, president of NCTA-The Internet and Television Association, said in a call to reporters ahead of the vote.

But with the F.C.C. making clear that it will no longer oversee the behavior of broadband providers, telecom experts say, the companies could feel freer to come up with new offerings, such as faster tiers of service for business partners such as HBO's streaming service or Fox News.

Such prioritization could stifle certain political voices or give the telecom conglomerates with media assets an edge over rivals.

Consumer groups, start-ups and many small businesses say there are examples of net neutrality violations by companies, such as when AT&T blocked FaceTime on iPhones using its network.

These critics of Mr. Pai say there isn't enough competition in the broadband market to trust that the companies will try to offer the best services for customers. The providers have the incentive to begin charging websites to reach consumers, a strong business model when there are few places for consumers to turn when they don't like those practices.

"Let's remember why we have these rules in the first place," said Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, a trade group that represents big tech firms such as Google and Facebook. "There is little competition in the broadband service market."

Mr. Beckerman said his group was weighing legal action against the F.C.C. Public interest groups including Public Knowledge and the National Hispanic Media Coalition said they planned to challenge Mr. Pai's order in court.

Dozens of Democratic lawmakers, and some Republicans, have pushed for Congress to pass a law on the issue, if only to prevent it from flaring up every couple of years at the F.C.C. — and then leading to a court challenge

But with that prospect dim, numerous online companies warned that the changes pushed by Mr. Pai should be taken seriously.

"If we don't have net neutrality protections that enforce tenets of fairness online, you give internet service providers the ability to choose winners and losers," Steve Huffman, chief executive of Reddit, said in an interview. "This is not hyperbole."



11)  The Ten Plagues

A parable

By Dr. Nayvin Gordon

At a time not so long ago, in a place not so far away, there lay a rich and powerful kingdom. It was a time of frustration and turmoil. The people were agitated as were their representatives who endlessly bickered and fought. Finally a new President was elected by the Election College and installed in the White Castle. The new President could no longer stand the dysfunctional congress and so began to rule by Executive Decree. When he was not signing decrees, he was off playing golf. Over the years the Imperial President grew distant from his people and the land plunged into the dark and turbulent times of "The Ten Plagues."

 The Plague of Lies was the first plague to befall the kingdom.

 One fine day as the President sat at his desk in the White Castle in the town known as Wash-and-DeeCeit, the noon day sun suddenly grew dark as a huge cloud of lies rose from the White Castle, high into the sky. The cloud then settled, thick and sticky, over all the land. For endless days and nights the good people did not know if there was peace or war, more tax or less, global warming or global cooling…they were confused and angry. While they were reeling in confusion the second plague befell them.

The Plague of Blood

Up in the north of the land, in the village known as Flintsville, the people discovered that their drinking water was poisoning their blood. Many fell ill, adults and children too. Quickly people called to ask for clean water. Politicians in Wash-and-DeeCeit said not to worry they would look into the matter. The poor folk were in the midst of finding clean water when the next plague struck the kingdom.

The Plague of White Sheets

One night as the good people slept in their warm beds, beneath the White Castle rose ghosts of a brutal past. A horde of white sheets escaped into the night. They rose through the worms and slime of the earth and what followed them through was a noose knotted rope all braided in red, white and blue. Pausing a moment at the White Castle gate, the hoard was handed torches of hate. The people quickly sought help from Wash-and-DeeCeit. Promptly a tweet did they receive—"There are good people on many sides." 

The Off-shore Plague 

Early one morning, across the land, in small towns and large, people found the factory doors shut tight and locked. A note on the gates read—"We have moved offshore." Desperate for work, many took minimum wage jobs, while others fell into homelessness. The good citizens pleaded with Congress for help. As they waited, the fifth plague silently slipped into the kingdom.

The Plague of Addiction

Overworked and underpaid, the people suffered. They sought help for their pains wherever they could. Pain pills of every size flooded the land as Doctors wrote prescriptions for pains of all kinds. Before long, millions could not live without their opium pills. From across the land friends and family begged for help from Wash-and-DeeCeit, but little helped did they receive.

The Plague of A.I.

A hurricane wind blew Pink Slips across the land and jobs were taken by robots of all kinds. The plague swept through jobs of almost every type—from checkers to truck drivers, from clerks to teachers, pink slips even reached accountants and lawyers. There seemed to be no stopping this plague when the next one was laid.

The Plague of Bloodsuckers

 The Imperial President had spent much of his gold for wars in distant lands. Now he and his billionaire buddies were desperate for cash, so he sent his minions across the land. Like a swarm of mosquitoes, gnats and vampire bats, they sucked the life out of the hard working folk. First they were bitten with fees, taxes, surcharges, fines and debts. Finally they shredded the social safety net. The people were exhausted but had not given up when the next plague struck.

The Plague of Hail

From shore to shining shore, the land had been flooded with guns. Guns were sold to rich and poor, and many were laid low by a hail of gunfire. Both young and old died every day as hands on triggers killed thousands they say. The President was strongly assailed but sadly it was to no avail. 

The Plague of Darkness

The President grew tired of the kingdom's rules and regulations. He ordered the elimination of rules of protection, and the land fell into a period of "Darkness and Deregulation." The air became dark and foul, as poisons by the barrel poured on fields and farms. Toxins leached down to the streams, rivers and sea. Blood-colored dead zones spread across the ocean. The good folk grew sick. Many illnesses did they suffer. Finally the darkness grew so deep that the sun disappeared and the land was plunged into darkness. Thus the final plague did enter the land.

Death of the Firstborn

 As the darkness spread over the land a fungus, not seen before, began to multiply. It grew so fast that it covered the roads, land, and houses. This new fungus gave off a toxin, which caused paranoia to spread across the land. People attacked each other and those with guns began to shoot. Family and friends, neighbors and strangers were shooting and dying. When the air cleared and the sun was bright the fungus began to wither, and the people came to their senses. Only then did they realize that they had killed their firstborn. 

The poor folk cried and grieved throughout the kingdom. 

Their patience had finally been utterly exhausted. Those at work could work no longer and laid down their tools. One by one they took their children, and started to march. They came from all parts of the land. As their numbers swelled into the millions, a human tidal wave flooded into Wash-and-DeeCeit occupying every inch surrounding the White Castle. The people were standing together as far as the eye could see.

 A message was sent to the President: we want gun control and a bright new world. And they waited. Finally The President's minions came before the people with a proclamation. "The Imperial President will hereby immediately halt all production and distribution of guns. When the sun rises we will begin a dialogue with the people."

A great cry of joy rang out across the land. The people rejoiced. The vast millions filling the streets realized that they had forced the President's hand, the greatest ruler of the know world. Tall and proud the mighty people stood, they now knew that there was no power on earth greater than the people standing together as one. 

Now they were free,

Neither plagues nor presidents

Nor pleading on their knees, 

Would keep them from their destiny.

Dr. Gordon, a California Family Physician, has written many articles on health and politics.



12)  In Opioid Battle, Cherokee Want Their Day in Tribal Court

Decimated by addiction, its heritage at risk, the Cherokee Nation is trying to sue pharmacies and distributors. But it may be blocked from doing so.

 DEC. 17, 2017




A medication disposal box at Walgreens Pharmacy in Claremore, Okla. This collection program was among efforts that Walgreens said it was making to combat the opioid crisis.CreditRuth Fremson/The New York Times

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee children were disappearing.

At weekly staff meetings, Todd Hembree, the attorney general of the Cherokee Nation, kept hearing about babies in opioid withdrawal and youngsters with addicted parents, all being removed from families. The crush on the foster care system was so great that the unthinkable had become inevitable: 70 percent of the Cherokee foster children in Oklahoma had to be placed in the homes of non-Indians.

"We have addicted mothers and fathers who don't give a damn about what their children will carry on," said Mr. Hembree, a descendant of a revered 19th-century chief. "They can't care for themselves, much less anything else. We are losing a generation of our continuity."

Across the country, tens of thousands of people are dying from abuse of prescription opioids. Here in the capital of the Cherokee Nation, the epidemic is exacting an additional, deeply painful price. The tribe's carefully tended heritage, traditions and memories, handed down through generations, are at risk, with so many families now being ruptured by drugs.

That fear is driving an unusual legal battle. Like authorities in dozens of cities, counties and states, including Ohio, New Jersey and Oklahoma itself, Mr. Hembree has sued big opioid distributors. Attorneys general from 41 states recently joined forces to investigate similar options. But instead of going to state court, Mr. Hembree filed his case in the Cherokee Nation's tribal court.

The Cherokee suit argues that the pharmacy chains WalmartWalgreens and CVS Health, as well as the giant drug distributors McKessonCardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, flouted federal drug-monitoring laws and allowed prescription opioids to pour into the Cherokee territory at some of the highest rates in the country. Such neglect, Mr. Hembree claims, amounts to exploitation of a people.

The companies have responded by asking a federal judge to deny the tribe's authority to bring the case. They argue that a tribe cannot sue them in tribal court, much less enforce federal drug laws. They have questioned whether a Cherokee reservation even legally exists.

"We believe this lawsuit has no merit," a CVS spokesman said.

Both sides have mobilized battalions of prominent lawyers.

Lindsay G. Robertson, an authority on Native American law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law who is not involved in the lawsuit, believes that the case will indeed go to tribal court. He pointed to a 1985 Supreme Court ruling, which said that, barring extraordinary circumstances, a federal court should not rule on tribal court jurisdictional questions before they have been fully litigated in tribal court.

A ruling is expected soon and, regardless of the outcome, will almost certainly be appealed.

For the Cherokee, the case is fundamentally about defending their identity and survival as a tribe.

"I believe these companies target populations," said Mr. Hembree, whose office displays include a feathered spear and a dish of bundled sage to burn for traditional blessings. "They know Native Americans have higher rates of addiction. So when they direct their product here, they shouldn't be surprised to find themselves in a Cherokee court."

Born Addicted

On a recent morning, a new mother in the maternity ward at the Cherokee Nation's W.W. Hastings Hospital expected to take her baby home. Instead, in walked Crystal Bogle, a Cherokee Nation investigator.

The newborn had tested positive for numerous opiates, Ms. Bogle told the mother. The Cherokee Nation would be taking the baby into custody, she said, until the mother got clear of drugs.

The mother began sobbing.

Several times a week, Ms. Bogle and her colleagues have similar conversations at hospitals on tribal land. Sometimes, as voices rise, workers must call security guards.

Babies addicted to opioids often have a distinctive, inconsolable shrill cry, nurses at the hospital said. The most severely addicted must be evacuated by ambulance or helicopter to a Tulsa hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit, where, on morphine drips, they slowly withdraw, remaining for up to a month. The costs, which can include years of therapy for developmental delays, are astronomical.

A few months ago, Oklahoma state child welfare workers woke Nathalene Dixon, a non-Indian foster parent, at 1 a.m.: Could she take a Cherokee newborn right away? The 3-day-old, who tested positive for opioids, had been allowed to go home. But when workers got there and saw drugs, they took the baby away. For hours they had been trying, unsuccessfully, to locate an acceptable relative.

By 4 a.m., the infant was handed to Ms. Dixon, a great-grandmother whose mobile home teems with figurines of angels and birds. In two years, she has taken in about a half-dozen Cherokee children.

"I can't understand how parents can find drugs more important than their kids," she said.

Pill Country

Some of the Cherokee Nation's oldest communities crouch along remote switchback roads in the verdant Ozark foothills of Adair County. Families still gather on ceremonial grounds for stomp dancing. Children fling a ball with handmade woven sticks at a wooden fish atop a pole. Many elders speak Cherokee as their first language.

But these communities are also among Oklahoma's poorest, most sparsely populated and isolated. "There's not much work in Adair County," said Shawnna Roach, a tribal marshal who patrols here. "People figured out they could make money selling pills. Sometimes they call the marshals, saying their pills were stolen. Were they really stolen? Or did they sell them? They use our reports as proof to get their prescription refilled."

In the capital, Tahlequah, a college town with cafes, tribal art shops, a heritage center and street signs written in Cherokee and English, opioids have staggered more affluent Cherokee, too. A senior health administrator takes care of her grandson after her opioid-addicted stepdaughter lost custody. A lawyer's two daughters were given prescriptions for high school sports injuries — one is now in jail, the other in rehab.

"Several of my family members are on the pills," said Daryl Legg, who runs an employment program for Cherokee ex-offenders.

His disabled mother wears her clothes to bed to keep pain medication on her, secured from other users in the home. "So one night my brother cut her pants pocket open while she was sleeping," Mr. Legg said.

Tribal Court on Trial

Mr. Hembree filed his lawsuit in the Cherokee Nation's district court, a red brick 1869 building with arched windows on Tahlequah's town square. The courtroom looks like any conventional, if modest, state counterpart. Cherokee lawyers and judges are typically members of the Oklahoma state bar, the Cherokee Nation's bar and often the federal bar.

The right to bring his case, Mr. Hembree says, was established in 1866.

That is when the Cherokee, who had fought with the Confederacy, signed a post-Civil War treaty with the United States. It recognized the Cherokees' sovereignty over "the exterior boundaries of the reservation" that included millions of acres spread across what would become 14 counties in northeastern Oklahoma, home now to more than a third of roughly 360,000 Cherokee nationwide.

That treaty was the final official act of Principal Chief John Ross, a lawyer by training who led the tribe on a forced cross-country march in 1839 along "The Trail of Tears" to resettlement in Oklahoma. He is Mr. Hembree's great-great-great-great grandfather.

On its face, the suit looks like a straightforward neglect case.

Mr. Hembree says that over a five-year period, drug distributors ignored red flags and allowed alarming quantities of prescription opioids — in 2015 and in 2016, 184 million pain pills — to pour into the region within the boundaries delineated by the Treaty of 1866. In doing so, the Cherokee argue, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, three corporations which transport about 90 percent of the country's prescription opioids, did not comply with federal drug monitoring and reporting requirements.

Pharmacies, which sold the medication directly, also bear responsibility, the suit says. CVS, Walgreens and Walmart have stores in the Cherokee Nation that are among the top 10 Oklahoma pharmacies for opioid sales. Pharmacists sidestepped their duties, Mr. Hembree argues, looking the other way when filling prescriptions that were obviously photocopied, written for suspicious quantities or refilled too soon.

In response, distributors say they are links in a complex chain that includes companies that make government-approved medications and licensed pharmacists.

"We intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this litigation while continuing to work collaboratively to combat drug diversion," said a spokeswoman for AmerisourceBergen.

The pharmacy chains say their role is to dispense medications prescribed by physicians and that they, too, are making efforts to combat the opioid crisis, such as a recent event at a Walgreens in the Cherokee Nation, touting the company's collection of unused medications.

Tribal courts generally do not have jurisdiction over people who are not Native Americans. The Cherokee are relying on a 1981 exceptioncreated by the Supreme Court: If a non-Indian business has a commercial, consensual relationship with the tribe, the Court said, the tribe may assert authority.

For now, the pharmacies and distributors have asked a federal court for an injunction to stop the case going forward. In their filings, the companies implied that they would not be treated fairly in a tribal court.

Chrissi Ross Nimmo, the Cherokee's deputy attorney general, said in response: "Tribes appear before non-Indian courts, judges and juries every day, and we don't automatically claim unfairness. If the Cherokee Nation has these great courts that we set up and this robust civil code, why not use it?"

The tribe, the companies argue, does not have the authority to enforce federal drug reporting requirements.

As for the Supreme Court's exception? Neither suppliers nor pharmacists, they say, had an agreement with the Cherokee Nation.

And they say that the distribution and sale of prescription opioids did not occur on land over which the Cherokee have sovereignty. The suppliers' headquarters are not in Oklahoma. While some pharmacies are within the Nation, others are not.

In fact, they contend, there is no "Cherokee reservation."

Indeed, much Cherokee land within the 1866 boundaries was sold decades ago. A contemporary map of tribal property would resemble a checkerboard.

But Mr. Hembree contends that the 1866 boundaries still have legal weight; that only Congress can undo the status of a "reservation." Congress has not done so for the Cherokee.

On Nov. 9, Mr. Hembree's position that the Cherokee are, legally, on a reservation got fresh support. Ruling in a criminal case involving a member of Oklahoma's Muscogee Creek tribe, the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit affirmed decisions upholding the treaty boundaries of that tribe's reservation.

But Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich seemed uncomfortable with that result, noting that history had outstripped the treaty, signed some 40 years before Oklahoma became a state. The boundaries issue, he wrote, "might benefit from further attention from the Supreme Court."

For now, the sides await a decision. If the federal judge allows the case to go forward in tribal court, the companies can appeal. But meanwhile, the lawsuit would continue in Cherokee Nation District Court.

The loser of the tribal trial can appeal to the Cherokee Supreme Court. If the five justices rule against the tribe, its case ends. But if the decision goes against the companies, they can return to federal court.

Infusing Treatment with Tradition

As the legal battle unfolds, the tribe pushes ahead with enforcement and treatment — including drug courts, an overwhelmed Suboxone clinic and youth prevention programs. Such efforts are typical in communities across the country. But here, interventions are often steeped in Cherokee references, in an attempt to anchor tribal identity.

"Do you know where your great-grandmother's allotment was?" asks Gaye Wheeler, a drug abuse counselor, who tries to engage Suboxone patients about family lore. "Do you know why your family's last name is Nakedhead?"

At the Jack Brown Adolescent Treatment Center, a residential facility operated by the Cherokee Nation on 22 acres of a former dairy farm, most teens say opioids had been their drug of choice.

They come to the center from Oklahoma's 38 tribes, and their regimen includes making flutes, bowls and drums, attending a sweat lodge and practicing stomp dancing.

"It's important to know who you are and where you come from, to find your resources in your tribe to help you in your recovery," said the director of the center, Darren Dry.

This year Nikki Baker Limore, the Nation's executive director of Indian Child Welfare, initiated a tribal cultural program for children in foster care. Accompanied by a golden retriever puppy named Unali (Cherokee for "friend"), children read Cherokee animal fables and learn basket-making and weaving from the National Treasures — Cherokee elders dedicated to preserving the tribe's traditions.

"We have great-great grandparents who were products of the Trail of Tears," said Mrs. Baker Limore, her voice shaking as she pointed out the children's artwork. "They were resilient, but we lost a lot of tribal members along the way."

"And now," she continued, "you have an opioid epidemic that is wreaking havoc on families, tearing them apart. I am not sure we're going to be resilient enough to overcome this one."



13)  Are High Heels Headed for a Tumble?

 DEC. 16, 2017





Danskos, Birkenstocks and Crocs form a comfort-shoe trifecta of sorts.

At the avant-garde retail temple Opening Ceremony, which opened in 2002, fanciful sneakers, slippers and oxfords greatly outnumber high heels. Eree Kim was a designer there for four years before forming her own comfort-shoe companyHopp Studios.

"I always had trouble finding shoes that were comfortable but also aesthetically what I wanted," Ms. Kim said.

She sees shoes as a means of both self-expression and self-defense. "If I know that I have to take the subway home late at night, I want to be dressed appropriately," she said, adding that during the time she's lived in New York, she's been attacked twice.

"Men have no clue that this is something a lot of women think of," she said.

Uncertainty can subconsciously influence the way people dress, too. On Monday night, at the department store Century 21's downtown location near the World Trade Center, three young Canadian tourists — Jasveen Kang, Kirndeep Nahal and Deepinder Nahal — were waiting for an Uber to pick them up after a long day of walking in utilitarian black boots.

They had woken up to the news of a crude pipe bomb explosion at Port Authority, across the street from their hotel in Times Square.

They had ignored the rows of dressy shoes with heels. Kirndeep, 29, reasoned that New Yorkers might gravitate toward "something that's comfortable to run in, something that you could get to safety in, that wouldn't impede you in any way."

From Louis XIV to Louboutins

High heels have a long and not always feminized history.

They were pioneered by horse owners in 15th-century Persia. Heels helped them stand up and stabilize in stirrups so they could shoot their bows with greater accuracy.

Because of their connection to sport and wealth, heels went on to become a signifier of social class in Western Europe. During the Renaissance, heels and platforms could give men a competitive advantage among their shorter peers, as well as elevate them from the streets, where people poured out their chamber pots. Courtesans soon adopted them as a status symbol, wearing extra-high chopines, or platforms, to tower above other court members in a symbolic show of sexual dominance.

Women throughout the European courts began to adopt high heels in the 16th century. Catherine de Medici wore heels to her wedding in 1533. Queen Elizabeth I favored them over other footwear.

By the late 17th century, it wasn't uncommon to see men in four-inch heels. Long before Cardi B received her first pair of Louboutins, Louis XIV wore five-inch red heels and decreed that the early "red bottoms" would be worn only by members of the royal court.

In the 18th century, flatter shoes became the preferred style. Heels re-emerged as a trend at the end of the 19th century for women only. The first American high-heel factory opened in 1888, and this "antiquated fashion," responsible for many podiatric and orthopedic ailments, surged.

As Prohibition and temperance reform swept the United States in the 1920s, high heels became a topic of legislation. A Utah bill proposed that heels higher than one and a half inches would be met with, at a minimum, a $25 to $500 fine, and possibly jail time up to one year.

Though they're no longer punished by law for their footwear choices, women in the public eye are still defined by whether they do or don't wear heels — certainly any woman walking alone on the street, but first ladies as well. A 1959 article in this newspaper proclaimed that "Pat Nixon's political trademark around the world might well be her high heels." Ahead of a trip to the Soviet Union with her husband, then vice president, a friend suggested that Mrs. Nixon pack a pair of "sensible walking shoes." Her response? "I've worn high heels in a lot rougher places."

So too might have been the response of Melania Trump, who earlier this year was mocked on social media for boarding Air Force One in stilettos on her way to survey Hurricane Harvey's damage in Texas.

While she goes high, others in her position have often gone low with their heels. Michelle Obama was both praised and pilloried for her sensible shoes. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis also favored less-precarious footwear: square-toe flats, riding boots and kitten heels.

The first lady made her taste very clear in a letter to Marita O'Connor, a personal shopper for Bergdorf Goodman, who had sent her a selection for the Inaugural Ball: "Your shoes arrived today and I am sorry to say that I do not really like any of them. They have that vamp which I do not like."

Still, for many women, "that vamp" is just what they seek. This year's breakout hip-hop star, Cardi B, has become synonymous with the Louboutins she raps about in "Bodak Yellow."

In an interview with Billboard, the rapper's stylist Kollin Carter explained the appeal of the red-soled stilettos to women like Cardi B: "Where she's from, when girls are ready to get dressed up that's what you wear. And in real life, before 'Bodak' blew up, she wore red bottoms because that's what it means to make it in the Bronx. It's a status symbol that the masses can relate to; everyday girls work hard and save up their money to have that shoe."

Worn to Run

Louboutins and other high-end heels signify wealth and can lend confidence to the women who can afford them. They are also "a way to literally try to make your body look more like the cultural body ideal," said Renee Engeln, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University and the author of the book "Beauty Sick." "They're to lengthen your legs and change the way your shape looks from behind. That's not accidental."

That's what Christian Louboutin meant when he told The New Yorker, "The core of my work is dedicated not to pleasing women but to pleasing men."

Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, says that heels are here to stay. "High heels are the number-one sartorial symbol of erotic femininity, and that's not changing anytime soon," she said.

But Ms. Steele agreed that periods of heightened anxiety can affect the shoes women wear — our preferences change with history. In 2000, this newspaper wrote that heels were in demand "as never before." By the end of the following year, Ms. Steele said, flats and sneakers had become ubiquitous in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. And a year after that, the kitten heel crept back, as it periodically does.

"The one hard-and-fast rule in fashion is that if it swings in one direction, it will swing back in the other direction," Ms. Steele said.

The cohort of high-profile high-heel naysayers is vocal today. Gal Gadot wore flats throughout her "Wonder Woman" press tour earlier this year. Serena Williams paired her Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen wedding gown with custom bedazzled Nikes. And ahead of Cannes in May, Kristen Stewart spoke out against the film festival's no-flats rule, installed in 2015. "If you're not asking guys to wear heels and a dress," she told the Hollywood Reporter, "then you cannot ask me either." (She wore heels. But still!)

When asked why she ditched heels during the film's promotion, Ms. Gadot told USA Today that it was a matter of health and safety. "I love wearing high heels — I think it's beautiful, it's sexy, whatever," she said. "But at the same time, especially stilettos, it puts us out of balance. We can fall any minute. It's not good for our backs. Why do we do it?"

Similar questions inform Prof. Engeln's research. "Why do the things we do for ourselves have to hurt?" she asked. "Why do the shoes we choose for ourselves make us less able to run away if we need to run away? You only need to spend a few minutes on the internet these days to see that, yes, there are quite a lot of times when, unfortunately, it would help to be able to run. Why do the things that we do supposedly for ourselves cause us long-term physiological damage?"

Last year, in The New Yorker, the writer Mary Karr called for the uninvention of high heels. It seems more likely that they will be reinvented. Two companies led by women have developed ergonomic high heels whose insoles are designed to promote stability and even weight distribution, and prevent heel-related hospital visits (provoking, for those of a certain age, amused memories of the Easy Spirit "Looks Like a Pump, Feels Like a Sneaker" commercial, echoed in a 2014 McDonald's commercial that featured a group of women dribbling a soccer ball in platform heels).

In the film "Jurassic World" starring Bryce Dallas Howard, her character outruns a Tyrannosaurus rex in high heels.

But in the sequel, she's given a solid pair of boots.

If Ms. Hutchinson has her way — she will receive a verdict on her emoji proposal in January — the high heel as a signifier of femininity will soon be going the way of the dinosaur. She spoke of the ballet flat as an artifact, positioning it alongside another emoji candidate for 2018: the brick wall.

"If you're a historian in 50 years time, and you start going through emoji with a fine-tooth comb, you'll be able to say, this brick wall must have happened in 2017," she said. "You can look at the flat shoe and say that was the year women decided to find their voice and collectively protest gender-stereotypical norms."










































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