Please make 3 phone calls to demand

health care for Mumia

If you're sick, you can go to a doctor or an emergency room to be examined and treated, in a hospital if necessary. If you're being held behind bars, getting sick can be a death sentence. Profits come before prisoner care for the Dept. of Correction's medical contractors.

SCI Mahanoy political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal needs your help in getting treatment for a severe skin disease so bad he told his wife Wadiya he "can't take it any more." For more than 2 years, he 

has suffered from intense itching all over his body.

The treatment for hepatitis C which we fought for and won has not cleared up his skin conditions.He is also concerned about his cirrhosis of the liver and neuropathy. People suspect tainted water may be causing problems for many prisoners.

Mumia and recent visitors report he can't sleep because the itching is so overpowering and relentless. His condition is worsening: his back, chest and arms have become rough and leathery, alligator-like. There appear to be hairline cracks in his skin that show bleeding.

Instead of a hands-on exam by an expert dermatologist, the DOC's doctor had a teleconference with Mumia, after which Ultra Violet (UVB) treatment and Dupixent were recommended.

Mumia stopped unsupervised, self-administered UVB treatment last year because his skin got burned.  Mumia's UVB treatment should be safely administered at a hospital with a Narrow Band UVB, reducing the risk of burns and is more effective than Broad Band UVB.

Mumia needs a full diagnostic work-up before he receives a new medicine like Dupixent, which can have serious side effects if administered incorrectly outside of a hospital setting.

Mumia has been unjustly imprisoned for 36 years. The DOC's continuing failure to effectively diagnose and treat this severe skin disease is nothing less than torture and is one more reason Mumia should be released from prison, now.

1.  Please call:

  •  SCI Mahanoy Superintendent Theresa DelBalso: 570-773-2158
  •  PA Secretary of Corrections John E. Wetzel:
  • PA Dept of Health Acting Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine: 717-787-9857

Demand that Mumia be taken to an independent medical facility such as Geisinger Hospital, as in 2015, which has the expertise to provide thorough hands-on diagnostic evaluation and offer supervised patient care.

2. Pack the court on Jan 17 in Philadelphia to support his legal case eventually lead to Mumia's freedom. 

International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal  International Action Center,
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (NYC),
Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
Educators for Mumia

__________________________This message was sent to info@socialistviewpoint.org


International Letter in Support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


December 9, 2017
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner From:
Concerned Members of International Community


We, the undersigned individual and organizational members of the international community concerned with issues of human rights, call your attention to an egregious example of human rights violations in your respective jurisdictions: the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Specifically, we call on you both, key officials with the power to determine Abu-Jamal's fate, to:

  1. Assure that all the District Attorney and police files relevant to Abu-Jamal's case, be released publicly as the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is reviewing the potential involvement of retired Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille in a conflict of interest when he reviewed Abu Jamal's case as a PA Supreme Court Justice.
  2. Release Abu-Jamal now from his incarceration. That given the mounds of evidence of Abu-Jamal's innocence and even more evidence of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct, his unjust incarceration, including almost 30 years on death row, his twice near-executions, his prison-induced illness which brought him to the brink of death, and the lack of timely treatment for his hepatitis-C which has left him with a condition, cirrhosis of the liver, which poses a potential threat to his life ... we call for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal now.

Now, Abu-Jamal has a new legal challenge in the Pennsylvania courts on the grounds that PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille had a conflict of interest when he denied Abu-Jamal's appeals from 1998-2014. The new action is based on a precedent setting U.S. Supreme Court decision, Williams v. Pennsylvania, that a judge who had been personally involved in a critical prosecutorial decision violates the defendant's right to an impartial judicial review if he then gets to rule on the case as a State Supreme Court Justice. Castille was the Philadelphia elected District Attorney during Abu-Jamal's first appeal process, after his conviction and death sentence, from 1986-1991. He was a PA Supreme Court Justice from 1994 to 2014, during which time Abu-Jamal's case came before him multiple times.

We demand: Public disclosure of the police and DA files! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Now!!

To sign onto this letter please email infomumia@gmail.com with the subject line "International Letter for Mumia." Submit your full name as you want it listed and your organizational or professional identification.This identification is critical in a letter of this sort, as names alone carry little leverage.

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frantzfanonfoundation@amail.com - 58. rue Daquerre, 75014 Paris. +336 86 78 39 20. frantzfanonfoundation-fondationfrantzfanon.com 




From Clifford Conner

Dear friends and relatives

Every day the scoundrels who have latched onto Trump to push through their rightwing soak-the-poor agenda inflict a new indignity on the human race.  Today they are conspiring to steal the tips we give servers in restaurants.  The New York Times editorial appended below explains what they're trying to get away with now.

People like you and me cannot compete with the Koch brothers' donors network when it comes to money power.  But at least we can try to avoid putting our pittance directly into their hands.  Here is a modest proposal:  Whenever you are in a restaurant where servers depend on tips for their livelihoods, let's try to make sure they get what we give them.

Instead of doing the easy thing and adding the tip into your credit card payment, GIVE CASH TIPS and HAND THEM DIRECTLY TO YOUR SERVER. If you want to add a creative flourish such as including a preprinted note that explains why you are doing this, by all means do so.  You could reproduce the editorial below for their edification.

If you want to do this, be sure to check your wallet before entering a restaurant to make sure you have cash in appropriate denominations.

This is a small act of solidarity with some of the most exploited members of the workforce in America.  Perhaps its symbolic value could outweigh its material impact.  But to paraphrase the familiar song: What the world needs now is solidarity, sweet solidarity.

If this idea should catch on, be prepared for news stories about restaurant owners demanding that servers empty their pockets before leaving the premises at the end of their shifts.  The fight never ends!

Yours in struggle and solidarity,


The Trump Administration to Restaurants: Take the Tips!

The New York Times editorial board, December 21, 2017

Most Americans assume that when they leave a tip for waiters and bartenders, those workers pocket the money. That could become wishful thinking under a Trump administration proposal that would give restaurants and other businesses complete control over the tips earned by their employees.

The Department of Labor recently proposed allowing employers to pool tips and use them as they see fit as long as all of their workers are paid at least the minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour nationally and higher in some states and cities. Officials argue that this will free restaurants to use some of the tip money to reward lowly dishwashers, line cooks and other workers who toil in the less glamorous quarters and presumably make less than servers who get tips. Using tips to compensate all employees sounds like a worthy cause, but a simple reading of the government's proposal makes clear that business owners would have no obligation to use the money in this way. They would be free to pocket some or all of that cash, spend it to spiff up the dining room or use it to underwrite $2 margaritas at happy hour. And that's what makes this proposal so disturbing.

The 3.2 million Americans who work as waiters, waitresses and bartenders include some of the lowest-compensated working people in the country. The median hourly wage for waiters and waitresses was $9.61 an hour last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Further, there is a sordid history of restaurant owners who steal tips, and of settlements in which they have agreed to repay workers millions of dollars.

Not to worry, says the Labor Department, which argues, oddly and unconvincingly, that workers will be better off no matter how owners spend the money. Enlarging dining rooms, reducing menu prices or offering paid time off should be seen as "potential benefits to employees and the economy over all." The department also assures us that owners will funnel tip money to employees because workers would quit otherwise.

t is hard to know how much time President Trump's appointees have spent with single mothers raising two children on a salary from a workaday restaurant in suburban America, seeing how hard it is to make ends meet without tips. What we do know is that the administration has produced no empirical cost-benefit analysis to support its proposal, which is customary when the government seeks to make an important change to federal regulations.

The Trump administration appears to be rushing this rule through — it has offered the public just 30 days to comment on it — in part to pre-empt the Supreme Court from ruling on a 2011 Obama-era tipping rule. The department's new proposal would do away with the 2011 rule. The restaurant industry has filed several legal challenges to that regulation, which prohibits businesses from pooling tips and sharing them with dishwashers and other back-of-the-house workers. Different federal circuit appeals courts have issued contradictory rulings on those cases, so the industry has asked the Supreme Court to resolve those differences; the top court has not decided whether to take that case.

Mr. Trump, of course, owns restaurants as part of his hospitality empire and stands to benefit from this rule change, as do many of his friends and campaign donors. But what the restaurant business might not fully appreciate is that their stealth attempt to gain control over tips could alienate and antagonize customers. Diners who are no longer certain that their tips will end up in the hands of the server they intended to reward might leave no tip whatsoever. Others might seek to covertly slip cash to their server. More high-minded restaurateurs would be tempted to follow the lead of the New York restaurateur Danny Meyer and get rid of tipping by raising prices and bumping up salaries.

By changing the fundamental underpinnings of tipping, the government might well end up destroying this practice. But in doing so it would hurt many working-class Americans, including people who believed that Mr. Trump would fight for them.



Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 

Charity for the Wealthy!

GOP Tax Plan Would Give 15 of America's Largest Corporations a $236B Tax Cut: Report

By Jake Johnson, December 18, 2017






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:











Save the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper

From: SF Bay View <editor@sfbayview.com>

Date: December 19, 2017 at 6:42:58 PM PST

To: SF Bay View <sfbayview@lists.riseup.net>

Subject: [sfbayview] Bay View faces loss and challenge

Reply-To: SF Bay View <editor@sfbayview.com>

Bay View faces loss and challenge

With profound sadness, we bid farewell to Troy Williams, who we'd hoped would lead the Bay View's regeneration and build it into the New York Times of the Prison Abolition Movement he envisioned. Our challenge today is survival; we must face the fact that the fate of the Bay View is in your hands. To grow the number of hands willing to help, please share this message far and wide.

Please keep reading. There may not be a January paper without your help.

The problem: Advertising revenue is down for all newspapers still in print including the Bay View. Each monthly Bay View paper used to carry its own weight, with ads sufficient to pay the basic expenses of printing, distribution and mailing – and then some. Not any more. In 2017, total income from all sources – ads, subscriptions and donations – averaged only $8,000 per month. Those three basic expenses total almost $7,000 a month, and the Ratcliffs' social security barely covers the rent and a bit of the utilities.

People always ask, "Why not go web-only, like Black Agenda Report," an excellent and very influential source of news and analysis. The Bay View's role is different. The Bay View is the only publication in the country widely distributed both inside prison and out. Of the 20,000 papers we print every month, 3,000 are mailed to subscribers in prisons around the country (who pass them around to thousands more) and the other 17,000 are distributed in hoods around the Bay. 

Therein lies the solution:  The millions of people in prison and the hoods are our FREEDOM FIGHTERS. From the most intense oppression, like diamonds from coal, comes an unquenchable thirst for liberation – and the Bay View gives that force a voice and an organizing network. As a result, the Prison Abolition Movement is burgeoning everywhere and, to its leaders, the Bay View is essential. Similar energy in the hoods is making the Bay View fly off the stands faster than ever. 

Subscription revenue is way up, but at just $24 for a year, that income is a big help but it's not sufficient to pay the big bills. For that, we need more advertising and donations. 

Advertising – Are you or your friends or colleagues organizing an event for Martin Luther King Day in January or Black History Month in February? Email your flier or postcard and we'll quote you an affordable price for running it in the Bay View. Same for agencies and nonprofits with goods or services our readers should know about. Special low prices apply to Religious Directory ads and Black Pockets Directory ads for professionals and entrepreneurs. Call 415-671-0789 today to discuss an advertising campaign to support your project and your newspaper.

Donations – Hit the DONATE button near the top left side of the Bay View homepage to make a big donation if you're able or a smaller recurring donation. More and more readers are doing that, keeping the Bay View alive. The Bay View also has a nonprofit arm, so your donation can be tax deductible; read all about it HERE. I repeat: There may not be a January paper without your help. At the moment, we are flat broke.

The Ratcliffs are "older than dirt" and need to pass the torch to new leadership and a real newspaper staff. For that, we need a major fund drive. We hear about successful social media drives. Are you an expert on that or want to learn? Email editor@sfbayview.com to volunteer for a fundraising or development committee, and let's make it happen!

Good news: new website coming soon – An expert website designer is volunteering to build the Bay View a new website that can easily be read on your mobile device. A beautiful new website should convince potential donors, advertisers and subscribers that the Bay View will outlive the Ratcliffs!

Indulge in some recent stories and discover new ones every day at sfbayview.com ... 

Find a friend among the Bay View Pen Pals, who write, "I would love to hear my name at mail call."

Looking for a job, a contract, affordable housing or a scholarship or other opportunity? Check theBayView Classifieds today.

Finally, follow the Bay View on Facebook and Twitter – and lead everyone you know to do the same. 

To reach the Bay View, email editor@sfbayview.com

To subscribe to this list, email sfbayview-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.

Mary Ratcliff

SF Bay View

(415) 671-0789



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)

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



Major Tillery — Still Rumbling


Major Tillery – An Innocent Man Imprisoned Through Gross State Misconduct!

Major Tillery's case exposes police and prosecutorial misconduct used to obtain false convictions. Tillery is actually innocent and he's been imprisoned for 33 years, 20 of them in solidarity confinement. Police detectives, with the assistance of prosecutors, used the stick and the carrot to get jailhouse informants to lie and inculpate Tillery.
      These prosecution witnesses were threatened with false murder charges, promised plea deals and no state prison time, and were provided with private time in the Roundhouse homicide interview rooms for sexual relations with their girlfriends as inducement to lying against Major Tillery.
     Major Tillery was convicted of homicide, assault, weapons and conspiracy charges in May 1985 for poolroom shootings that left one man dead and another wounded on October 22, 1976, purportedly over disputes between drug dealers.
        Without the testimony of these jailhouse informants, there was absolutely no case against Major Tillery. There was no physical evidence. The surviving victim of the shooting named two other men as the shooters. No charges were brought against Tillery and his co-defendant for four years, and then only after police coercion combined with favors to a career informant.

UPDATE: 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








1)  Activists and ICE Face Off Over Detained Immigrant Leader

 JAN. 12, 2018




The Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz, of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, hugs Amy Gottlieb, whose husband, Ravi Ragbir, an immigrant rights activist, was detained by ICE pending deportation.CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times

An escalating legal battle played out on Friday in the case of Ravi Ragbir, an immigrant rights activist whose detention on Thursday by federal immigration authorities sparked protests that led to the arrest of 18 people, including members of the New York City Council.

Mr. Ragbir, 53, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, had shown up for a check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Thursday morning, at the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building in Lower Manhattan. When officials told him that he was going to be detained and deported, Mr. Ragbir fainted, his wife, Amy Gottlieb, said.

That is when events turned chaotic.

His lawyer from New York University Immigrant Rights Clinic, Alina Das, said that as he was regaining consciousness she argued that she was still pursuing legal remedies for Mr. Ragbir. She said that Scott Mechkowski, the assistant field office director for ICE, dismissed her arguments and had officers handcuff Mr. Ragbir.

Ravi Ragbir, an immigrant rights leader, handcuffed in an ambulance on Thursday. He was later flown to Miami and placed in an immigration detention center pending deportation.CreditAmy Gottlieb

An ambulance called for Mr. Ragbir was met with angry protesters as it left the federal building. The protest extended onto Broadway and toward City Hall and council members Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane D. Williams were among the 18 arrested.

Ms. Gottlieb rode to Lower Manhattan Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian in the ambulance with Mr. Ragbir, she said. There, Ms. Gottlieb said, she was told to get out of the ambulance, which then left with Mr. Ragbir inside. Ms. Gottlieb learned later that it had taken him to a hospital devoid of protesters, Bellevue Hospital Center, for evaluation. From there, the New York Police Department provided an escort for federal immigration vehicles to the Holland Tunnel; unbeknown to his wife, lawyer and supporters, Mr. Ragbir was soon on a plane to Miami, where he was placed in a federal detention center.

Late Thursday night, in response to a lawsuit brought by Mr. Ragbir's lawyers, a Federal District Court judge in Manhattan granted him a temporary stay of removal and a hearing on Jan. 29 to determine whether the agents were right to detain him.

The judge, Katherine B. Forrest, ordered Mr. Ragbir to be detained in the New York area so that he could be near his lawyer and family. On Friday, the government contested the order. A hearing that will deal with whether he can be brought back from Miami will be held in the District Court of the Southern District of New York on Tuesday.

Mr. Ragbir became an immigrant rights activist because of his own case. He came to the United States in 1991 from Trinidad and Tobago. He had been a lawful permanent resident when he was convicted of wire fraud in 2000. After he served his sentence, Mr. Ragbir was ordered deported in 2006 and detained by immigration officials.

In 2011, the New York field office of ICE granted him a stay of removal. Last April, he was granted an extension of that stay, but only until Jan. 19, eight days after his check-in.

Mr. Ragbir was not the only high-profile immigrant rights leader arrested in a one-week span. On Thursday night, immigration authorities detained Eliseo Jurado, the husband of Ingrid Latorre, who is fighting deportation as she takes sanctuary in a Colorado church.

Last week, a co-founder of New Sanctuary in New York was detained; Jean Montrevil, a native of Haiti, was picked up near his home in Far Rockaway, Queens, two weeks before a scheduled check-in.

"It seems really clear to us that this is an escalation of retaliation, not just against individual rights leaders, but against the right of the movement to exist," said Mary Small, the policy director for Detention Watch Network, an immigrant rights group.

Rachael Yong Yow, a spokeswoman for the New York field office of ICE, said in a statement on Thursday that in the last 12 years Mr. Ragbir's immigration case has undergone extensive judicial review at multiple levels.

"In each review, the courts have uniformly held that Mr. Ragbir does not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.," she said. "He has since exhausted his petitions and appeals through the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the U.S. District Court. He will remain in custody pending removal to Trinidad."

Ms. Gottlieb said she understood the legal disagreements over the case, but questioned the government's lack of transparency in its operations.

"Basic human decency requires that his wife and lawyers know where he is, so that we don't live in a country where people are whisked away to secret facilities," Ms. Gottlieb said.

Ms. Yong Yow declined to comment on the pending hearing.



2) Philippines Shuts Down News Site Critical of Rodrigo Duterte

 JAN. 15, 2018




The Philippine news website Rappler on Monday. A regulator ruled that it had breached ownership rules, a decision the site called "pure and simple harassment."CreditTed Aljibe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

MANILA — The Philippines ordered the closing on Monday of an independent online news site that has been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, prompting protests from industry groups who called the move an attack on press freedom.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines said the news site, Rappler, had violated a constitutional rule that restricts ownership of media entities to Filipinos.

The commission said that Rappler had employed a "deceptive scheme to circumvent" the rules, an allegation that the online publication denied and vowed to fight in court.

In a note to its readers, Rappler said that it had been warned last month that a ruling was being prepared but added that it had been confident the regulator would decide in its favor.

"The S.E.C.'s kill order revoking Rappler's license to operate is the first of its kind in history — both for the commission and for Philippine media," the note said.

"What this means for you, and for us, is that the commission is ordering us to close shop, to cease telling you stories, to stop speaking truth to power, and to let go of everything that we have built — and created — with you since 2012," it added.

The Philippines has one of the region's most freewheeling news industries. More than 30 newspapers have sprung up across the country since democracy was restored 32 years ago.

Rappler said that it had been consistently transparent and that it had told corporate regulators about its company structure when it started operating in 2012.

"Transparency, we believe, is the best proof of good faith and good conduct," said Rappler, which has won local and international awards for its reporting of impunity in Mr. Duterte's deadly war on drugs.

"This is pure and simple harassment, the seeming coup de grâce to the relentless and malicious attacks against us since 2016," Rappler said.

The president's office sought to distance itself from the order, saying it was the commission's job to determine corporate legality.

"We respect the S.E.C. decision that Rappler contravenes the strict requirements of the law that the ownership and management of mass media entities must be wholly owned by Filipinos," a presidential spokesman, Harry Roque, said.

The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, formed in the 1970s to work for press freedom at the height of former President Ferdinand Marcos's regime, expressed "deep regret" over the move.

"The decision, which is tantamount to killing the online news site, sends a chilling effect to media organizations in the country," the group said.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines also denounced the government, calling the move a vendetta by Mr. Duterte and urging media workers in the country to protest.

Francis Pangilinan, leader of the opposition in the Senate, said the revocation of Rappler's license was a blow against "truth-telling and journalistic integrity."

"In a time of fear, of relentless attacks on our institutions, the abuse of power, and the feeling of helplessness that this breeds, we seek solidarity," Mr. Pangilinan said.

The strongman Mr. Marcos closed down television networks and newspapers during his two-decade regime, and he jailed many opposition figures and journalists.

Mr. Marcos was ousted in 1986, and his successor Corazon Aquino helped introduce a Constitution that guaranteed press freedom, arguing that such a right was central to democracy.

Her son, Benigno Aquino III, Mr. Duterte's predecessor, was often criticized by the news media, and he complained about being unfairly treated. He never made a move to restrict press freedom, however.

The last time a sitting president took aim at the news media was in 1999, when President Joseph Estrada sued the Manila Times over a report about corruption. The newspaper apologized, and Mr. Estrada dropped the suit, but the publication was eventually forced to sell.



3)  Workplace Raids Signal Shifting Tactics in Immigration Fight

 JAN. 15, 2018




Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at a 7-Eleven store in Los Angeles last week, part of a coordinated set of raids across the country. CreditChris Carlson/Associated Press

The Trump administration is taking its campaign against illegal immigration to the workplace.

The raids by federal agents on dozens of 7-Eleven convenience stores last week were the administration's first big show of force meant to convey the consequences of employing undocumented people.

"We are taking work-site enforcement very hard," said Thomas D. Homan, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in a speech in October. "Not only are we going to prosecute the employers who knowingly hire the illegal aliens, we are going to detain and remove the illegal alien workers."

When agents raid workplaces, they often demand to see employees' immigration documents and make arrests. But after the agents leave, it is difficult for the government to meaningfully penalize businesses that hire unauthorized immigrants.

Instead, according to law enforcement officials and experts with differing views of the immigration debate, a primary goal of such raids is to dissuade those working illegally from showing up for their jobs — and to warn prospective migrants that even if they make it across the border, they may end up being captured at work.

Targeting 7-Eleven, a mainstay in working-class communities from North Carolina to California, seems to have conveyed the intended message.

"It's causing a lot of panic," said Oscar Renteria, the owner of Renteria Vineyard Management, which employs about 180 farmworkers who are now pruning grapevines in the Napa Valley.

When word of the raids spread, he received a frenzy of emails from his supervisors asking him what to do if immigration officers showed up at the fields. One sent a notice to farmhands warning them to stay away from 7-Eleven stores in the area.

"Our work force frequently visits 7-Elevens," said Mr. Renteria. "They're very nervous. It's another form of reminding them that they're not welcome."

The Obama administration largely took a lower-profile approach to enforcement, auditing employers' compliance in documenting their workers' status without conducting many on-site investigations. A handful of employers faced prominent criminal cases in recent years, but most companies employing workers illegally avoid serious charges, because it is often impossible to prove that they knew someone had handed in fake documents.

"The consequences are not that harsh, and the effect of the enforcement is less than it should be," said Jessica M. Vaughan, the director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates tighter restrictions on immigration.

The law requires employers only to ensure that documents appear to be valid, and federal law prohibits them from requiring specific types of identification from workers.

Employers negotiate reduced administrative fines and sometimes put political pressure on local officials when they become targets, making the punishment for companies "weaker than it should be," Ms. Vaughan said. "There are employers for whom the penalties are just the cost of doing business."

The more lasting effect of raids is to spread fear among undocumented workers, who often end up bearing the brunt of enforcement action at the workplace.

"Having some semblance of a fear of workers' being arrested will have a behavioral shift," said William Riley, who spent 20 years as an ICE special agent, under both Bush presidencies and the Clinton and Obama administrations, and is now a consultant at Guidepost Solutions, working on corporate compliance. Mr. Riley said that under the last administration, people were more lax about working illegally, assuming they wouldn't be arrested.

"There was slightly more complacency when it was pretty well known that there wasn't a fear of being arrested in your workplace," Mr. Riley said, nor much of a deterrent to "using fake documents to get a job."

Mr. Renteria said he expected raids on farms soon, because the industry is a big employer of "people with complicated immigration status." More than half of California's agriculture workers lack documents, according to a federal survey. Mr. Renteria worries that if agents home in on the Napa area, no one will stay to harvest the grapes.

"They will start calling their cousins, aunts and uncles and finding the safest place where the work is," he said.

The last flurry of public, on-site investigations happened under President George W. Bush, who sent immigration agents to several meatpacking plants and other workplaces. Those raids led to hundreds of arrests of workers and prompted many other employees to stop reporting to work, according to local news reports. But they also enraged advocates for immigrants and drew complaints from business owners.

The Obama administration changed tack and pursued employers mainly by inspecting their paperwork. Such audits doubled from fiscal years 2009 to 2013, reaching 3,127, then declined sharply.

Law enforcement may welcome a more aggressive approach under the new administration. But sending armed agents to the doorsteps of American companies could prove politically uncomfortable for Mr. Trump, who has portrayed himself as an ally to business.

Doris Meissner learned how quickly local politicians can spring into action when their hometown industries feel threatened. As head of the agency that preceded ICE, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, from 1993 to 2000, Ms. Meissner tried to focus on holding employers accountable.

She approved the start of Operation Vanguard in the 1990s, in which the agency asked for employee records in several Nebraska meatpacking plants. When it came time to pursue charges against some employers, Ms. Meissner said, she started receiving frantic calls from Nebraskans on Capitol Hill.

"The politics gets hot and heavy," Ms. Meissner said. "These are communities that are heavily reliant on these industries. This is the major employer. These are the major consumers at the stores and the bowling alleys."

Ms. Meissner says work-site raids don't work in the long term because they fail to address the real magnet drawing people into the country: a need for laborers.

Cracking down on employers who violate the law is crucial, she said, and it isn't right to employ people who are here illegally. But without a visa system allowing unmet labor needs to be addressed with foreigners, she said, ICE shouldn't expect patchwork enforcement stings to persuade farms, hotels or meatpackers to stop employing unauthorized workers.

"When your laws don't align with the market, then the market is always going to win," Ms. Meissner said.

Advocates for immigrant workers said the raids were just the most recent source of a quiet terror reverberating across factory floors since Mr. Trump took office.

"When you have such a public thing happening close to home, folks feel the presence of ICE constantly," said Mariela Martinez, the organizing director of the Garment Worker Center in Los Angeles. But her clients have families and children here, Ms. Martinez said, so they can't just pack their bags and go.

"It's not motivating people to self-deport," she said. "It's motivating people to not use their labor rights. It's causing people to distrust government agencies."

Ms. Martinez helps people in the garment industry file claims for back pay with the state when their employers pay them less than they're owed. She said far fewer workers asked for restitution last year compared with 2016, partly because of concern that their bosses would call ICE if they spoke up.

That was the punishment one manufacturer meted out to Pablo, a 36-year-old sewing worker in Los Angeles who would not give his last name because he lacks papers and fears being identified by ICE. When he received a check for $92 after working three 11-hour days at a garment factory last month, Pablo insisted that he deserved more.

His boss responded by offering to pay him what he was owed, but only if Pablo offered up his home address. After signing another check, Pablo said, the factory owner said that he would call immigration officials and direct them to Pablo's door.

"You feel terrible. You feel uncomfortable," Pablo said. "I was so scared." He called Ms. Martinez and they returned together the next day to tell the employer that the threat constituted illegal retaliation under California law. The employer backed down.

The 7-Eleven raids will give garment bosses even more control over their workers, Pablo said.

"Now they know the president is on their side," he said, "so they feel like they can intimidate people and treat them badly and they will never talk."

Still, Pablo has been here since he was 17, and has no plans to leave yet. He has bills to pay.



4)  Banks are Big Winners from Tax Cut

 JAN. 16, 2018




Big banks like J.P. Morgan are reporting short-term losses as a result of the tax bill but see long-term benefits, including stronger profits, from the overhaul. CreditJohn Moore/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The nation's banks are finding a lot to love about the Trump administration's tax cuts.

The $1.5 trillion tax overhaul signed into law late last year provided deep and lasting tax cuts to all types of businesses, but financial institutions are among the biggest winners so far, reaping benefits from a lower corporate rate and more preferable tax treatment for so-called pass-through companies, which includes many small banks.

While some of the biggest banks are reporting fourth-quarter earnings hits stemming from the new tax law, they see rich benefits over the long-term, including effective tax rates that are even lower than the new 21 percent corporate rate.

Citigroup said on Tuesday that it would take a one-time $22 billion hit from the tax law, largely related to the bank's tax-deferred assets, which now must be recalibrated to reflect the lower corporate rate. In a news release, Citigroup chief executive Michael Corbat said the law nevertheless "not only leads to higher net income and increased returns, but also serves to strengthen our capital generation capabilities going forward."

J.P. Morgan, the nation's largest bank, and Wells Fargo both said on Friday that they expect the new law to reduce their effective tax rates next year to 19 percent, a cut of nearly one-third from what they paid in 2016. The reduction will give the banks a combined boost of more than $7 billion in 2018 alone. PNC Financial said on Friday that it expected its effective tax rate to fall even further next year, to 17 percent.

"The good news is that tax reform has produced both current and future benefits for our shareholders," PNC's president and chief executive Bill Demchak told analysts on Friday. He said the bank's preference would be to divert the tax savings "toward dividend" — which is to say, to return a higher dividend to shareholders.

More than 70 financial institutions have announced they will raise wages or offer bonuses to employees in the wake of the tax law's passage, including big firms such as Bank of America and community banks such as Bank of the Ozarks. All told, those institutions account for about half of the companies that have promised raises or bonuses since President Trump signed the bill into law, according to a running list tallied by Americans for Tax Reform, a low-tax advocacy group.

The payouts to workers reflect a small slice of the windfall that banks large and small are in line to receive. The law includes a reduction in the corporate rate to 21 percent from a high of 35 percent last year, as well as a 20 percent deduction for income from pass-through companies. One-third of all community banks are organized as pass-throughs, according to the Independent Community Bankers of America, which represents those firms and was among the groups pushing for a lower pass-through rate.

Analysts projected the financial industry would reap some of the largest benefits from that reduction given that banks typically paid much higher effective tax rates in the past than many other industries, like manufacturing.

The boon for banks comes as the industry begins to regain some of its swagger in the wake of the financial crisis and as it seeks to roll back some of the post-crisis regulations put in place by the Obama administration under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.

Officials at top banks have mostly showered Mr. Trump with praise for his economic policy agenda, which they say is boosting growth. Jamie Dimon, the chief executive officer of J.P. Morgan, called the new tax law a "significant positive outcome for the country" in a news release accompanying the bank's earnings on Friday.

The gains come in spite of a one-time hit of $2.4 billion that J.P. Morgan reported in the fourth quarter, the result of a provision in the law that forces companies to pay a one-time tax on profits that are held overseas.

Other large banks will report earnings on Tuesday and are expected to similarly reveal large savings from the tax overhaul.

American Express, in a financial filing earlier this month, said the lower corporate rate "is expected to be a significant ongoing benefit to us. Beginning in 2018, we anticipate an effective tax rate in the low twenties before discrete tax items."

It remains to be seen whether the tax cuts' benefits create lasting benefits for workers. Mr. Dimon said on Friday that J.P. Morgan would be "increasing and accelerating" investments in "employees, customers and communities," though he did not specify what that would mean for individual workers. On a call with analysts, Marianne Lake, the bank's chief financial officer, suggested some of the benefits would be used to increase dividends and stock buybacks.

Other banks have announced additional share buybacks in recent weeks, including Bank of America and Fifth Third Bank. Both of those banks also said they would provide bonuses to some workers as a result of the tax overhaul.

Wells Fargo, which has been under a cloud of regulatory and legal challenges, said last month that it would raise its minimum pay to $15 an hour. A spokesman initially said the move was not related to the tax bill, but reversed course a day later and said that, in fact, the tax cuts did prompt the move.



5) Pentagon Suggests Countering Devastating Cyberattacks With Nuclear Arms

 JAN. 16, 2018


The Nuclear Posture Review was written at the Pentagon and is being reviewed by the White House.CreditCharles Dharapak/Associated Press 

WASHINGTON — A newly drafted United States nuclear strategy that has been sent to President Trump for approval would permit the use of nuclear weapons to respond to a wide range of devastating but non-nuclear attacks on American infrastructure, including what current and former government officials described as the most crippling kind of cyberattacks.

For decades, American presidents have threatened "first use" of nuclear weapons against enemies in only very narrow and limited circumstances, such as in response to the use of biological weapons against the United States. But the new document is the first to expand that to include attempts to destroy wide-reaching infrastructure, like a country's power grid or communications, that would be most vulnerable to cyberweapons.

The draft document, called the Nuclear Posture Review, was written at the Pentagon and is being reviewed by the White House. Its final release is expected in the coming weeks and represents a new look at the United States' nuclear strategy. The draft was first published last week by HuffPost.

It called the strategic picture facing the United States quite bleak, citing not only Russian and Chinese nuclear advances but advances made by North Korea and, potentially, Iran.

"We must look reality in the eye and see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be," the draft document said. The Trump administration's new initiative, it continued, "realigns our nuclear policy with a realistic assessment of the threats we face today and the uncertainties regarding the future security environment."

The Pentagon declined to comment on the draft assessment because Mr. Trump has not yet approved it. The White House also declined to comment.

But three current and former senior government officials said large cyberattacks against the United States and its interests would be included in the kinds of foreign aggression that could justify a nuclear response — though they stressed there would be other, more conventional options for retaliation. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the proposed policy.

Gary Samore, who was a top nuclear adviser to President Barack Obama, said much of the draft strategy "repeats the essential elements of Obama declaratory policy word for word" — including its declaration that the United States would "only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners."

But the biggest difference lies in new wording about what constitutes "extreme circumstances."

In the Trump administration's draft, those "circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks." It said that could include "attacks on the U.S., allied, or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities."

The draft does not explicitly say that a crippling cyberattack against the United States would be among the extreme circumstances. But experts called a cyberattack one of the most efficient ways to paralyze systems like the power grid, cellphone networks and the backbone of the internet without using nuclear weapons.

"In 2001, we struggled with how to establish deterrence for terrorism because terrorists don't have populations or territory to hold at risk. Cyber poses a similar quandary," said Kori Schake, a senior National Security Council and State Department official during President George W. Bush's administration, who is now the deputy director general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

"So if cyber can cause physical malfunction of major infrastructure resulting in deaths," Ms. Schake said, the Pentagon has now found a way "to establish a deterrent dynamic."

The draft review also cites "particular concern" about "expanding threats in space and cyberspace" to the command-and-control systems of the American nuclear arsenal that the review identifies as a "legacy of the Cold War." It was the latest warning in a growing chorus that the nuclear response networks could themselves be disabled or fed false data in a cyberattack.

So far, all of the United States' leading adversaries — including Russia, China, North Korea and Iran — have stopped well short of the kind of cyberattacks that could prompt a larger, and more violent response.

The Russians have placed malware called "Black Energy" in American utility systems, but never tried to cause a major blackout. They have sent cable-cutting submarines along the path of undersea fiber optic lines that connect the continents, but not cut them. North Korea has attacked companies like Sony, and used cyberweapons to cause chaos in the British health care system, but never directly taken on the United States.

Still, the document recognizes that American, Russian and Chinese strategies have all been updated in recent years to reflect the reality that any conflict would begin with a lightning strike on space and communications systems. During the Obama administration, for example, a secret program, code-named "Nitro Zeus," called for a blinding cyberattack on Iran in the event negotiations over its nuclear program failed and Washington found itself going to war with Tehran.

There are other differences with the Obama administration policy.

The draft strategy embraces the American production of a new generation of small, low-yield nuclear weapons — some of which were under development during the Obama administration. Some experts warn that such smaller weapons can blur the distinction between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons, and, as a result, be more tempting to use.

And it states outright that Russia is testing its first autonomous nuclear torpedo, one that American officials believe would be guided largely by artificial intelligence to strike the United States even if communications with Moscow were terminated. It was Washington's first public acknowledgment of such an undersea weapon, a prototype of which was first envisioned in the 1960s by Andrei Sakharov, the physicist who later ranked among the Soviet Union's most famous dissidents.

The torpedo's development was detected by the Obama administration and has been widely discussed in defense circles, but never publicly referred to by the Pentagon as a significant future threat.

Mr. Trump has rarely publicly criticized President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for Russia's aggressions around the world. But the Pentagon document describes Moscow's actions as so destabilizing that the United States may be forced to reverse Mr. Obama's commitment to reduce the role and size of the American nuclear arsenal.

Russia is adopting "military strategies and capabilities that rely on nuclear escalation for their success," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote in an introduction to the report. "These developments, coupled with Russia's invasion of Crimea and nuclear threats against our allies, mark Moscow's unabashed return to Great Power competition."

In most cases, the Trump administration plan would simply move forward nuclear weapons that Mr. Obama had endorsed, such as a new generation of nuclear cruise missiles — low-flying weapons with stubby wings that, when dropped from a bomber, hug the ground to avoid enemy radars and air defenses.

But the strategy envisions other new nuclear weapons. The draft policy calls for "the rapid development" of a cruise missile to be fired from submarines. Mr. Obama had retired that class. It also calls for the development of a low-yield warhead for ballistic missiles fired from submarines.

It is relatively easy for presidents to change the country's declaratory policy on the use of nuclear arms and quite difficult for them to reshape its nuclear arsenal, which takes not only vast sums of money but many years and sometimes decades of planning and implementation.

The price tag for a 30-year makeover of the United States' nuclear arsenal was put last year at $1.2 trillion. Analysts said the expanded Trump administration plan would push the bill much higher, noting that firm estimates will have to wait until the proposed federal budget for the 2019 fiscal year is made public.

"Almost everything about this radical new policy will blur the line between nuclear and conventional," said Andrew C. Weber, an assistant defense secretary during the Obama administration who directed an interagency panel that oversaw the country's nuclear arsenal.

If adopted, he added, the new policy "will make nuclear war a lot more likely."

One of the document's edgiest conclusions involves the existence of a deadly new class of Russian nuclear torpedo — a cigar-shaped underwater missile meant to be fired from a submarine.

Torpedoes tipped with nuclear arms were common during the Cold War, with the Soviet Union pioneering the weapons and developing them most vigorously. One Soviet model had a range of miles and a large warhead.

Mr. Sakharov, a famous Russian dissident in the 1970s and 1980s, envisioned a giant torpedo able to travel several hundred miles and incur heavy casualties with a warhead thousands of times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Though his vision was rejected at the time, the new review discloses that Moscow has resurrected a weapon along the same lines.

The document calls it "a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed undersea autonomous torpedo." In a diagram labeled "New Nuclear Delivery Vehicles over the Past Decade," it identifies the torpedo by its code name, Status-6.

News stories have reported the possible existence of such a weapon since at least 2015, but the document's reference appears to be the first time the federal government has confirmed its existence. The long-range torpedo with a monster warhead is apparently meant to shower coastal regions with deadly radioactivity, leaving cities uninhabitable.



6) He Leaked a Photo of Rick Perry Hugging a Coal Executive. Then He Lost His Job.

 JAN. 17, 2018




Simon Edelman leaked photographs of Energy Secretary Rick Perry meeting privately with a major energy industry donor to President Trump. CreditLexey Swall for The New York Times

As a photographer for the Department of Energy, Simon Edelman regularly attended meetings with Secretary Rick Perry and snapped pictures for official purposes.

Now he is out of a job after leaking photographs of Mr. Perry meeting with a major energy industry donor to President Trump.

Late last year, Mr. Edelman said, he shared with journalists photos he shot at the private meeting between Mr. Perry and the campaign contributor, Robert E. Murray, the head of one of the country's largest coal mining companies, Murray Energy.

One photo showed the two men embracing; another captured the cover sheet of a confidential "action plan" that Mr. Murray brought to the meeting last March calling for policy and regulatory changes friendly to the coal industry.

Mr. Perry hugs Robert E. Murray, the head of one of the country's largest coal mining companies, Murray Energy, on March 29, 2017, at the Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, D.C.CreditSimon Edelman/Department of Energy: 

Democrats and some environmental groups seized on the photos as evidence of the energy industry's direct line to Mr. Perry, who had been in the job less than a month when the meeting occurred.

Mr. Edelman, who has not previously disclosed his identity as the source of the photographs, said in an interview that he wanted to expose the close relationship between the two men. Based on the "action plan" and conversations he overheard, Mr. Edelman said, Mr. Perry had tilted the administration's energy policy to favor Murray Energy and other coal companies.

"It seemed like that was the right thing to do — exercising my First Amendment rights to get the information out there," said Mr. Edelman, who had worked at the agency since 2015 and whose job included photographing events that the agency promoted in press releases, on the web and elsewhere.

The day after the photos were published by In These Times, a liberal magazine, the Energy Department put Mr. Edelman on administrative leave, seized his personal laptop and escorted him out of its headquarters in Washington, he said. He was later told, without explanation, that his employment agreement had not been renewed, internal agency emails show.

Mr. Edelman has now filed a complaint with the Energy Department's inspector general and, according to his lawyer, is seeking protections provided to federal whistle-blowers. In the complaint, Mr. Edelman accuses the agency of retaliation and asks for his job back or at least to recover his laptop and other personal belongings. In addition, Mr. Edelman accused a former colleague of encouraging him to delete the photos of Mr. Perry and Mr. Murray, which Mr. Edelman and his lawyer argue are public records.

The Energy Department declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding Mr. Edelman's employment, the status of the photos, or the details of his complaint, but a spokeswoman characterized his accusations as "ridiculous." Mr. Edelman supported his complaint with emails and other documents, but some claims were based on his statements alone.

"They are based on his own subjective opinions and personal agenda," the spokeswoman, Shaylyn Hynes, said in an email. "Industry and other stakeholders visit the Department of Energy on a daily basis. The secretary welcomes their input and feedback to strengthen the American energy sector. This meeting was no different."

A spokesman for Mr. Murray said the coal executive "does not have a recollection as to the exact statements allegedly made nearly a year ago." The spokesman, Gary Broadbent, added that "Mr. Murray has frequently said that the Trump administration must advance reliable and low-cost electricity for all Americans and protect coal mining jobs."

The confidential documents Mr. Murray brought to his meeting with Mr. Perry called for "rescinding anti-coal regulations of the Obama administration" and cutting the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency "in at least half," according to portions visible in Mr. Edelman's photographs.

Last week, The New York Times obtained a copy of a separate memo written by Mr. Murray, and reported that the Trump administration had completed or was on track to fulfill most of the 16 policy and regulatory requests contained in it. Mr. Murray told The Times the two memos essentially covered the same material.

Mr. Edelman, a Democrat, came to the Energy Department under President Barack Obama two years ago after producing videos at a consulting firm in Chicago and serving as creative director for the electoral campaign of former Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois. After Mr. Trump's election, Mr. Edelman said, he received greater responsibility, including photographing Mr. Perry's meetings.

Mr. Edelman's complaint offers a behind-the-scenes look at the meeting on March 29 between Mr. Perry and Mr. Murray, who have been friendly for many years. In addition to his company contributing $300,000 to the president's inauguration — and personally holding a fund-raiser for Mr. Trump during the campaign — Mr. Murray has been a financial backer of Mr. Perry, a former governor of Texas who has also run for president.

In a statement, Mr. Murray's spokesman said the company had supported Republicans "who have been staunch defenders of the United States coal industry, and the jobs and family livelihoods that depend on it, and low-cost, reliable, fuel secure electricity for all Americans."

The meeting started, the complaint said, with Mr. Perry giving Mr. Murray "a deep bear hug." Once they got down to business, Mr. Murray presented the memo. "This needs to be done," the complaint says Mr. Murray insisted.

Mr. Perry replied, "I think we can help you with this," according to the complaint.

Rattled by the exchange, Mr. Edelman said he stayed for about 15 minutes to keep listening, until he drew the attention of an agency official. "How much does a photographer need of us just sitting around?" the complaint quotes the agency official as asking.

The photos sat for months without much attention.

Then, in September, Mr. Perry proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission adopt a rule that would increase financial returns for power plants capable of stockpiling at least 90 days' worth of fuel on-site — a plan that would effectively subsidize struggling coal and nuclear power plants, particularly in areas where Mr. Murray operates.

Without the change, Mr. Perry warned, the plants could shut down, which would threaten the "reliability and resiliency of our nation's grid."

That phrase rang a bell with Mr. Edelman. The cover page of Mr. Murray's memo described a plan "to assist in the survival of our country's coal industry, which is essential to power grid reliability."

Mr. Edelman said he decided to share the photos with the news media — The Washington Post published the images after In These Times — hoping to derail Mr. Perry's proposed rule. The rule faced opposition from a cross section of environmental groups, energy companies, free-market advocates and former regulators, and last week, the energy commission rejected it.

Mr. Murray has said that the meeting with Mr. Perry was primarily about the need to study the resilience of the power grid, not to ask for specific actions by the energy commission or other arms of the federal government. Mr. Broadbent, his spokesman, said that "a word-for-word comparison" of the proposed rule and Mr. Murray's action plan "reveals that they have only two words in common."

On Dec. 7, the day after In These Times posted the photographs, and a day before they appeared online at The Washington Post, Mr. Edelman said he was summoned by his boss and told he was being placed on administrative leave with pay.

The agency later declined to extend his two-year employment agreement, which ended late last year, effectively dismissing him despite previously agreeing to extend him for two more years, Mr. Edelman said.

A security officer for the agency also refused to allow him to pack up certain personal belongings, Mr. Edelman said, including his laptop and camera equipment. The next day, a supervisor instructed Mr. Edelman in an email to provide the agency the administrative rights to the Google Drive folder where he stored the photos, according to a copy of the email reviewed by The Times.

Separately, another colleague warned him over the phone that "we can come to your home and have someone watch you delete it," Mr. Edelman said. Mr. Edelman did not record the call.

In a phone call a few days later, which was recorded, the colleague reiterated that Mr. Edelman needed to transfer ownership of the folder. "I would suggest that doing it sooner rather than later would probably be a good thing for you," the colleague said, according to the recording, which was heard by The Times.

"You can get access to a computer," the colleague added, "even if you need to go to a freaking library to do it."

Mr. Edelman said the department had still not returned his laptop. Among the other items he said he left behind because of the hurried exit: a cake from his colleagues celebrating his 35th birthday.

Mr. Edelman hired a lawyer, John Tye, a former whistle-blower from the State Department who works at Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit firm. Mr. Tye defended Mr. Edelman's decision to keep the photos, arguing that they were "in the public domain" and were not classified, and that they had been stored on Mr. Edelman's private drive at the Energy Department's instruction.

By filing his complaint with the inspector general, Mr. Tye said, Mr. Edelman was seeking protections provided to federal whistle-blowers, including prohibition from "adverse employment actions and dismissal."

After Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, heard about the incident, his office contacted Mr. Edelman, who also shared the complaint with Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, who is a neighbor in Washington. It was Mr. Whitehouse who shared the separate memo by Murray Energy with The Times.

"Federal employees should not be fired for doing their jobs," Mr. Sanders said in a statement. "The Department of Energy must investigate as to why Mr. Edelman was fired."



7) Comptroller Calls for Removing Profit From City's Bail Equation

 JAN. 16, 2018





When Belkis Batista was arrested, a judge set her cash bail at $50,000. Unable to afford that, her family got a commercial bond that wound up costing them more than $10,000.CreditAlex Flynn for The New York Times

By the time a Bronx jury acquitted Belkis Batista of attempted murder last August, her family had paid more than $16,000 to a bail bond company to help her stay out of jail while fighting the charge, which stemmed from a fight with her brother. A few weeks after the verdict, the bondsman returned about $5,740 and kept the rest.

Ms. Batista, a school bus aide who was making $250 a week, and her family could hardly afford the difference, but it had been the only option. At her arraignment 16 months earlier, a judge had given Ms. Batista the same two options courts give most defendants facing jail: pay cash bail up front, or hire a bondsman to post bail at a fraction of the upfront cost.

Judges' reliance on commercial bail bonds, a routine practice in the United States that is uncommon or illegal in most other countries, is a significant reason that New York City spends $10 million each year to jail thousands of defendants who post bail within a few days and are released, according to Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, the city's chief financial officer. Mr. Stringer is set to release a report calling for commercial bail to be eliminated in the city.

For the accused in New York City, who are mostly poor African-American and Hispanic people, the financial burden is acute: about $28 million in lost wages, and between $16 million and $27 million in nonrefundable fees paid to bail bond companies, according to the report. The report says the fees, which are likely higher because bond companies do not always adhere to legal limits, represent a "significant transfer of wealth from low-income communities."

"The commercial bail process is egregious to me, and we have to push the judiciary," Mr. Stringer said in an interview. "Part of doing this report is to put the marker down and say 'You're costing the city money, you're further putting poor families into poverty. Bail is not supposed to be punitive, and there are alternatives that the judicial system should be looking at.'"

Calls to end commercial bail are part of a broader movement to fix a pretrial release system that many believe is broken. The city is experimenting with ways to reduce its jail population with a goal of closing the Rikers Island jail complex. And as state lawmakers consider eliminating cash bail, an idea boosted by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in his State of the State address, some prosecutors have stopped requesting itfor most misdemeanor offenses.

But for now, Mr. Stringer and others are pushing for meaningful changes under the existing law, which gives judges options to set bail with bonds that can be paid in court with little to no money. Unlike commercial bail bonds, payments are returned when the case is resolved.

While current bail reform efforts mainly target people charged with misdemeanor offenses and nonviolent felony crimes that do not involve domestic violence, Mr. Stringer's proposal could aid any defendant eligible for bail.

Emerging evidence suggests that alternative bail forms are just as effective in making sure people return to court. In one analysis released in September, the Vera Institute of Justice tracked 99 cases where judges set alternative bail options. Sixty-eight defendants were released on bail and five were freed on their word, and they returned to court at roughly the same rate as people who are released without bail conditions or freed after paying cash or posting a bond.

"The problem is old," Insha Rahman, the author of the analysis, said. But in the state bail law, she added, "the solutions have been there since 1971."

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea. Michelle Esquenazi, the owner of Empire Bail Bonds, one of the largest bail bond companies in the state, says her industry keeps people out of jail, while sparing taxpayers the cost of apprehending those who miss court appearances.

"The bail bondsman is vilified," said Ms. Esquenazi, chairwoman of the New York State Bail Bondsman Association. "We're an integral part of any successful criminal justice system."

The use of commercial bail bonds in the city has risen even as crime and arrests have fallen, and they now make up more than half of all bail payments. In 2017, there were 12,345 private bail bonds executed in the city — a 12 percent increase from 2015 — with a cumulative value of $268 million, according to the report.

The commercial bonds are attractive because paying the full cash bail is impossible for many defendants. Contracting with bail bondsmen allows them to stay out of jail for a smaller upfront cost.

Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state's unified court system, said judges made decisions about which types of bail to assign based on what prosecutors and defense attorneys request in court.

"We encourage judges to consider the use of all types of bail," he said. "We have done training outlining the various types and simplified the forms, but ultimately the decision comes down to judicial discretion."

Ms. Batista was arrested after she intervened when her brother attacked her sister in their family's ninth-floor apartment in the Webster Houses, a public housing complex in the Morrisania section of the Bronx, she and her lawyer said. Frightened, she approached her brother with a kitchen knife, then tried to retreat. But he lunged at her and was stabbed near his heart, requiring surgery. Her bail was set at $50,000 cash, or $100,000 bond.

Her family paid $12,000 to Marvin Morgan Bail Bonds, which required her to wear a $300-per-month ankle monitor for 16 months. The bondsman gave them one receipt showing the $5,740 in "returnable collateral," while another, for $6,260, did not specify what it covered.

"That amount of money for you to be found not guilty," said Ms. Batista, now 31, who spent two weeks in jail and was suspended from her job while the case was pending. "That's crazy."

Vague laws and lax regulation also leave people vulnerable to the whimsof bail bondsmen. Their regulator, the state Department of Financial Services, received 111 complaints over the last three years alleging a range of misconduct, including unauthorized fees and unreturned collateral.

Since 2013, the office of the New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, has investigated 25 complaints against bail bond companies, including Marvin Morgan Bail Bonds. The company could not be reached for this article because phone numbers listed for it were disconnected.

Belva Service, a home attendant, filed a complaint against the company in 2016 after it refused to return the collateral she paid for her son, who was arrested barefoot and disoriented in Brooklyn on felony charges. Her son, who is schizophrenic, needed medical attention, she said.

Marvin Morgan Bail Bonds charged her a $1,760 premium, a $1,000 courier fee, which was illegal, and took $1,500 for collateral, according to Nick Encalada-Malinowski of the nonprofit group Vocal-NY, who was then a social worker for the Brooklyn Defender Services. The company returned the collateral after her son's case was resolved in the mental health court, but refused to refund the illegal fee until Mr. Schneiderman's office intervened in a letter.

"You become very vulnerable in this position," Ms. Service said, "and this is where they come in and make their money, because you need them."



8)  Flurry of Lawsuits Filed to Fight Repeal of Net Neutrality

 JAN. 16, 2018





Eric Schneiderman, New York State's attorney general, is leading a lawsuit to block the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality regulations. CreditSasha Maslov for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The legal fight against the Federal Communications Commission's recent repeal of so-called net neutrality regulations began on Tuesday, with a flurry of lawsuits filed to block the agency's action.

One suit, filed by 21 state attorneys general, said the agency's actions broke federal law. The commission's rollback of net neutrality rules were "arbitrary and capricious," the attorneys general said, and a reversal of the agency's longstanding policy to prevent internet service providers from blocking or charging websites for faster delivery of content to consumers.

Mozilla, the nonprofit organization behind the Firefox web browser, said the new F.C.C. rules would harm internet entrepreneurs who could be forced to pay fees for faster delivery of their content and services to consumers. A similar argument was made by another group that filed a suit, the Open Technology Institute, a part of a liberal think tank, the New America Foundation.

Suits were also filed on Tuesday by Free Press and Public Knowledge, two public interest groups. Four of the suits were filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Free Press suit was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

"The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers — allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online," said Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, who led the suit by the state officials.

The lawsuits have long been expected. The filings on Tuesday, petitions to begin the suits, kick off what is expected to be an extended legal and political debate about the future of internet policy.

Democrats have rallied to fight the F.C.C.'s repeal of net neutrality, which was passed in a 3-to-2 party line vote in December. The agency is led by Ajit Pai, a Republican nominated by President Trump. All of the attorneys general involved in the suit filed on Tuesday are Democrats.

The lawsuits have the support of the Internet Association, a trade group representing big tech firms including Google and Netflix, giving the various legal challenges financial support and the clout of companies. The companies say internet service providers have the incentive to block and throttle their sites in order to garner extra fees.

The F.C.C. declined to comment on the suits. But it did point to a part of its order that prohibits legal challenges until the new rules are submitted into the federal registry. The F.C.C. is expected to enter the new rules into the federal registry in the coming days or weeks.

The states said they could file a petition to the United States Court of Appeals, starting the process to determine which court would hear the case. That is the action the attorneys general, as well as Mozilla and the Open Technology Institute, took on Tuesday.

The states that signed onto the lawsuit include California, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts and Oregon, as well as the District of Columbia. Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general, said the decision to roll back the agency's declaration of broadband as a utility-like service will harm consumers.

"Internet access is a utility — just like water and electricity," Mr. Becerra said in a statement. "And every consumer has a right to access online content without interference or manipulation by their internet service provider."

In a release, Mr. Schneiderman said the agency's roll back disregarded a record of evidence that internet service providers' could harm consumers without rules. A similar argument was made by Mozilla.

"Ending net neutrality could end the internet as we know it," said Denelle Dixon, Mozilla's chief business and legal officer in a blog post. "That's why we are committed to fighting the order. In particular, we filed our petition today because we believe the recent F.C.C. decision violates both federal law as well as harms internet users and innovators."

The issue of net neutrality has been fought in court challenges twice before in the past decade. The rules adopted in 2015, which set rules that sites could not be blocked or throttled, were upheld by the United States Court of Appeals in 2016 after legal challenges by telecom companies. The F.C.C. vote in December was to roll back those 2015 rules.

The new lawsuits are among several efforts to restore net neutrality rules. On Tuesday, Senate Democrats announced they were one supporter away from winning a vote to restore net neutrality rules. All 49 members of their caucus, as well as one Republican, have signed on to a resolution to overturn the rules. A similar effort initiated in the House has the support of 80 members.

Success by members of Congress is unlikely, particularly in the House, where Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, would have to agree to bring the resolution to a vote. The president will also have to agree to the resolutions, if they were passed, but the White House has expressed its support of the rollback of net neutrality rules.



9)  Prosecutors Had the Wrong Man. They Prosecuted Him Anyway.

"The vast bulk of criminal cases never go to trial — 97 percent of federal criminal convictions are the result of guilty pleas. The accused often must decide whether to go to trial and risk the maximum sentence or plead guilty in exchange for a lesser punishment, all without knowing how strong the case against them is."

 JAN. 17, 2018




Robert Jones, right, wrongly convicted of a 1992 kidnapping and rape in New Orleans, spent more than 23 years in jail before being cleared of those crimes and a murder he did not commit.CreditKevin Mcgill/Associated Press

In the robbery, kidnapping and rape that began in the French Quarter of New Orleans on April 6, 1992, much of the evidence pointed to a man named Lester Jones.

He fit the description of the attacker down to his round-rimmed glasses. His car looked like the perpetrator's. The rape took place near the housing project where he lived. And after the police arrested him on suspicion of other crimes in the French Quarter that same month, they found jewelry from the robbery in his possession.

Yet the Orleans Parish district attorney's office chose to arrest a different man, 19-year-old Robert Jones — no relation — for the crime. Mr. Jones not only was convicted, but spent more than 23 years in jail before being cleared of those crimes and a murder he did not commit.

On Tuesday, Mr. Jones sued, charging that prosecutors had deliberately and repeatedly covered up evidence that would have undermined the case against him. More than that, he charged that he was neither the first nor the last victim of such treatment — that prosecutors had an unwritten policy of hobbling the legal defenses of accused citizens without their knowledge.

The New Orleans district attorney's office has chalked up legal black marks for years, including a string of Supreme Court cases involving prosecutorial misconduct. But the lawsuit filed on Tuesday, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, is perhaps the most damning compilation of misconduct accusations to date.

In at least 45 prosecutions dating to the 1970s, the lawsuit says, the district attorney's office possessed evidence that could have helped the accused, but failed to disclose it. In nine of those cases, appeals courts overturned convictions after the evidence was uncovered.

The cases include that of John Thompson, who was awaiting execution when investigators found that prosecutors had withheld the results of a blood test. John Floyd spent 36 years in prison for the murder of a newspaper proofreader before it came to light that someone else's fingerprints and DNA had been found at the scene. Reginald Adams spent 34 years in prison for the murder of a police officer's wife, only to be freed after a police report implicating a different man was found buried in unrelated case files.

The Jones lawsuit contends — and legal experts agree — that those 45 cases are likely a fraction of the actual number of instances in which favorable evidence was wrongly concealed. Most, they say, are simply never discovered.

Prosecutors are supposed to disclose any information they uncover that might help the defense. But enforcing that obligation — and punishing those who ignore it — has been no easy task. After Mr. Thompson was freed, he won a $14 million judgment, only to have the Supreme Court reverse the award in 2011, ruling that prosecutors can be held financially liable only if they are shown to have a pattern of unethical behavior. He received nothing.

Earl Truvia and Gregory Bright, freed after 27 years in jail for a murder they did not commit, also took a lawsuit over the prosecutors' so-called Brady violations to the Supreme Court, which declined in 2015 to hear it.

This time, lawyers for Mr. Jones and experts at the Innocence Projecthave pored over court records to compile evidence of a pattern.

"This was a galling disregard for the constitutional rights of defendants," said Michael L. Banks, a lawyer with the Philadelphia firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. "From the top of this office, there was a culture of winning. And winning meant getting convictions. And that's why there's such a striking pattern of wrongful convictions."

A spokesman for Leon A. Cannizzaro Jr., the current Orleans Parish district attorney, declined to comment on pending litigation.

Prosecutors have been obligated to turn over favorable evidence to the defense since a 1963 Supreme Court decision, Brady v. Maryland, which said that failure to do so violated the right to due process. But the ruling left prosecutors to decide which evidence should be disclosed.

Lawyers and judges have complained that too often, prosecutors err in their own favor. In 2013, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit at the time, Alex Kosinski, famously warned of an "epidemic" of Brady violations, adding: "A robust and rigorously enforced Brady rule is imperative because all the incentives prosecutors confront encourage them not to discover or disclose exculpatory evidence."

Jennifer Laurin, an expert on civil rights and criminal law at the University of Texas School of Law, said she could not say there was evidence of an epidemic. "But what I do see is a system that is not well designed to ensure compliance with Brady," she added. A handful of unscrupulous prosecutors may conceal information that undermines their cases, she said, but many more well-meaning prosecutors may simply misjudge the importance of evidence to a defendant's case, or even be unaware that it is important at all.

When evidence is not properly disclosed, experts say, the omission is rarely discovered. The vast bulk of criminal cases never go to trial — 97 percent of federal criminal convictions are the result of guilty pleas. The accused often must decide whether to go to trial and risk the maximum sentence or plead guilty in exchange for a lesser punishment, all without knowing how strong the case against them is.

After conviction, the odds that favorable evidence will be discovered in prosecutors' files is vanishingly small, because it can take hundreds or thousands of hours of legal work. Mr. Banks's firm worked without pay to overturn Mr. Thompson's conviction. "We literally put a couple of million dollars" in time into the Thompson case, Mr. Banks said, "because it was a capital murder case." But "most of the time that prosecutors hide evidence, nobody ever knows."

Robert Jones's ordeal began with a telephone tip to the police. He was convicted in 1996 of the robbery, kidnapping and rape in a trial that lasted but two days. Although most of the evidence indicated that Lester Jones, not Robert, was responsible, two of the victims had identified Robert in a lineup. Prosecutors argued that Lester and Robert knew each other — Lester Jones had said so in a statement to the police — and that Robert had used his friend's car and given him stolen jewelry as compensation.

Only years later, after the Innocence Project New Orleans took up Robert Jones's case, did the truth emerge: A lineup from which Mr. Jones was selected had been tainted because it included people that the rape victim knew, thus narrowing the range of suspects. Days before trial, Lester Jones had recanted the assertion that he knew Robert. And Lester had been convicted of two similar French Quarter crimes that happened the same month.

None of that evidence was given to Robert Jones's lawyer before the 1996 trial. Nor was a trove of other evidence favorable to Mr. Jones, including evidence that the rapist had told his victim he was taking her to his "neck of the woods;" the victims' initial descriptions of the attacker, which pointed to Lester; and the fact that none of those descriptions included Robert's most prominent feature: a mouth filled with gold-capped teeth.

The prosecution also failed to disclose the conclusion that New Orleans police detectives had reached long before the 1996 trial: The robbery and rape for which Robert Jones went to jail was part of a five-crime spree in the French Quarter that month, all of which appeared to have been committed by the same assailant.

When the fifth crime took place, Robert Jones was already in jail.



10) U.K. Asks, Who Pays to Prevent Another Grenfell Tragedy?

 JAN. 18, 2018





Fire engulfed Grenfell Tower in London in June, spreading rapidly through its exterior cladding.CreditMatt Dunham/Associated Press 

LONDON — Apartment residents, government officials, and property owners and managers are arguing over who should pay the heavy price to replace flammable cladding on structures across Britain, after that material contributed to the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 71 people last year.

Residents of one London apartment block were told last week that replacing the cladding — the outer skin of the building — would cost $2.5 million to $2.8 million, and that they were expected to pay. They protested that the assessment, which could exceed $40,000 for some units, was unfair and unaffordable, in some cases exceeding their annual incomes.

The dispute over that building, reported on Thursday by The Guardian, is the first to gain widespread attention. But the building, Citiscape, is just one of more than 70 privately owned apartment towers around the country with the same kind of exterior. The cladding was legal when installed, but after the Grenfell Tower disaster, the government ordered its removal.

A government review last year found more than 200 buildings with the same kind of exterior as Grenfell Tower, but most are owned by public agencies, which are not expected to charge residents to fix them.

"We are actually stuck between government and builders, because we got the flats believing that yes, all government regulations have been complied to," Anuj Vats, who lives in the Citiscape high-rise, told BBC radio.

Some Citiscape residents have said the cost of replacing the cladding is so high that they might be unable to afford to stay in their homes. Until the work is done, fire marshals are patrolling the building, and the residents expect to be billed for that cost, too.

Members of the Conservative government have suggested that landlords should pay for the work on private buildings, while some Labour members of Parliament have said that the government should step in.

The government has pledged support for the replacement effort, but has not offered specifics, or taken a formal stance on how the costs should be shared.

"Given the pressing need to undertake these essential safety works and the potential costs to leaseholders, we and others in the property industry welcome any clarity the government can provide on what support will be made available," FirstPort Property Services, which manages Citiscape, said in a statement on Thursday.

The Grenfell fire, last June 14, came to be seen as a national tragedy that raised hard questions about attitudes that put profit over safetythe extent of deregulation, and ethnic and class divides in London. A memorial service for the dead was held at St. Paul's Cathedral, and was attended by Prime Minister Theresa May and members of the royal family.

FirstPort and Proxima GR Properties, which owns the Citiscape building, contend that the long-term leases signed by the residents make clear that the occupants are responsible for needed repairs.

FirstPort has asked a court to rule on responsibility for the cost, and a hearing has been set for Feb. 6, which would provide a legal answer to the dispute. But Alex Nekrassov, a spokesman for Proxima, conceded in an interview that the court may not offer an ethical or practical resolution.

"This cladding was up to the standard required by government," he said. "For the government to say we want people to take it away, that's fair enough to say, but they're the ones who changed the standard."

The Association of Residential Managing Agents, a trade group, said on Thursday that many other buildings had lease terms demanding that residents shoulder the cost of replacing cladding. The government should offer them interest-free loans, the group said.



11) Online Courses Are Harming the Students Who Need the Most Help

By    JAN. 19, 2018




A single teacher can reach thousands of students in an online course, opening up a world of knowledge to anyone with an internet connection. This limitless reach also offers substantial benefits for school districts that need to save money, by reducing the number of teachers.

But in high schools and colleges, there is mounting evidence that the growth of online education is hurting a critical group: the less proficient students who are precisely those most in need of skilled classroom teachers.

Online courses can be broken down into several categories, and some are more effective than others.

In "blended" courses, for example, students don't do their work only online: They also spend time in a classroom with a flesh-and-blood teacher. Research suggests that students — at nearly all levels of achievement — do just as well in these blended classes as they do in traditional classrooms. In this model, online resources supplement traditional instruction but don't replace it.

In the fully online model, on the other hand, a student may never be in the same room with an instructor. This category is the main problem. It is where less proficient students tend to run into trouble. After all, taking a class without a teacher requires high levels of self-motivation, self-regulation and organization. Yet in high schools across the country, students who are struggling in traditional classrooms are increasingly steered into online courses.

For example, in so-called credit recovery programs, many students who have flunked a course in an old-fashioned classroom retake the class online. The negative consequences may not be obvious at first, because the pass rates in these courses are very high and students who take them tend to graduate from high school instead of flunking out. What could be wrong with that?

But there is something wrong with it. In reality, students who complete these courses tend to do quite poorly on subsequent tests of academic knowledge. This suggests that these online recovery courses often give students an easy passing grade without teaching them very much.

Consider a study conducted in the Chicago high schools. Students who had failed algebra were randomly assigned either to online or to face-to-face recovery courses. The results were clear: Students in the online algebra courses learned much less than those who worked with a teacher in a classroom.

Online courses have many real benefits, of course. They can help high achievers in need of more advanced coursework than their districts provide through other means. This is especially true in small, rural districts that offer few specialized, traditional courses for students working ahead of their grades.

A study in Maine and Vermont examined the effect of online courses on eighth graders with strong math skills in schools that didn't offer face-to-face algebra classes. Students were randomly assigned either to online algebra or to the less challenging, standard math offered in traditional classes.

Both groups of students were tested at the end of the school year. The online algebra students did substantially better than their counterparts in standard classrooms. They were also twice as likely to complete advanced math later in high school.

In colleges, especially in nonselective and for-profit schools, online education has expanded rapidly, too, with similar effects. These schools disproportionately enroll low-income students who are often the first in their families to attend college. Such students tend to drop out of college at very high rates. Students with weak preparation don't fare well in online college classes, as recent research by professors at Harvard and Stanford shows.

These scholars examined the performance of hundreds of thousands of students at DeVry University, a large for-profit college with sites across the country. DeVry offers online and face-to-face versions of all its courses, using the same textbooks, assessments, assignments and lecture materials in each format. Even though the courses are seemingly identical, the students who enroll online do substantially worse.

The effects are lasting, with online students more likely to drop out of college altogether. Hardest hit are those who entered the online class with low grades. Work by researchers in many other colleges concurs with the DeVry findings: The weakest students are hurt most by the online format.

For those with strong academic skills, by contrast, online learning can open up amazing opportunities.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a set of free, online courses in the economics of developing countries. Students who perform well in these classes can apply for a face-to-face master's program in economics at M.I.T. In fact, the online courses are the sole route into this special degree program. With online credit, students need to spend only one semester in Cambridge to graduate.

The M.I.T. approach reverses the high school model in which students who fail in a face-to-face class are shifted into a more challenging online format. In M.I.T.'s program, students must first demonstrate that they can tough it out in an online class. Only then are they admitted to a rigorous, face-to-face master's program.

Online education is still in its youth. Many approaches are possible, and some may ultimately benefit students with deep and diverse needs. As of now, however, the evidence is clear. For advanced learners, online classes are a terrific option, but academically challenged students need a classroom with a teacher's support.



12)  Why Are American Prisons So Afraid of This Book?

 JAN. 18, 2018


Michelle Alexander in 2012. Her book on mass incarceration, "The New Jim Crow," has been banned by prisons in North Carolina and Florida. CreditBen Garvin for The New York Times

In the eight years since its publication, "The New Jim Crow," a book by Michelle Alexander that explores the phenomenon of mass incarceration, has sold well over a million copies, been compared to the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, been cited in the legal decisions to end stop-and-frisk and sentencing laws, and been quoted passionately on stage at the Academy Awards.

But for the more than 130,000 adults in prison in North Carolina and Florida, the book is strictly off-limits.

And prisoners around the country often have trouble obtaining copies of the book, which points to the vast racial disparities in sentencing policy, and the way that mass incarceration has ravaged the African-American population.

This month, after protests, New Jersey revoked a ban some of its prisons had placed on the book, while New York quickly scrapped a program that would have limited its inmates' ability to receive books at all.

Ms. Alexander, a civil rights lawyer and former clerk on the Supreme Court, said the barriers to reading the book are no accident.

"Some prison officials are determined to keep the people they lock in cages as ignorant as possible about the racial, social and political forces that have made the United States the most punitive nation on earth," she said. "Perhaps they worry the truth might actually set the captives free."

A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed that the book had been banned but would not elaborate. A form from the prison system's literature review committee obtained by The New York Times indicates that the book was rejected because it presented a security threat and was filled with what the document called "racial overtures."

In North Carolina prisons, "The New Jim Crow" has been banned multiple times, most recently on Feb. 24, 2017, when it was deemed "likely to provoke confrontation between racial groups." State policy dictates that such bans can last for only a year, so the book will be permitted in the state's prisons late next month — unless it is banned again.

"All you need is one prison to challenge it, and then the book goes back on the list," said Katya Roytburd, a volunteer with Prison Books Collective, a nonprofit that sends free books to prisoners in North Carolina and Alabama.

The central thesis of "The New Jim Crow" is that the mass incarceration of black people is an extension of the American tradition of racial discrimination.

It zeroes in on how the "law and order" rhetoric of the 1950s and 1960s led to the war on drugs and harsh law enforcement and sentencing policies, which disproportionately affect black people.

"It is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt," she writes in the introduction. "So we don't. Rather than rely on race we use our criminal justice system to label people of color 'criminals' and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind."

Black people are still imprisoned at over five times the rate of white people, according to a 2016 report by The Sentencing Project, a prison reform advocacy group. And while a bipartisan push for sentencing reform took place during President Barack Obama's second term, those efforts have stalled under Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Trump.

The choices prisons make when banning books can seem arbitrary, even capricious. In Texas, 10,000 titles are banned, including such head-scratchers as "The Color Purple" and a compilation by the humor writer Dave Barry.

"Mein Kampf," on the other hand, is permitted, along with several books by white nationalists, despite the existence of prison gangs like the murderous Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

"When you look at the banned book lists and specifically the stuff that's being allowed, there's a definite bias toward violent armed white supremacy and the censorship of anything that questions the existing religious or political status quo," said Paul Wright, the executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center.

Activists see bans as an indictment of how prisoners are limited more broadly. Amy Peterson, a member of NYC Books Through Bars, which sends books to inmates in 40 states, said books were often sent back with little explanation.

"It does seem very much up to the person in the shipping room who's making these arbitrary decisions," she said. "I see it as one of the many ways that people are deprived of basic rights in prison."

But for many incarcerated people, the ban on "The New Jim Crow" does not seem arbitrary. In 2014, Dominic Passmore, a prisoner in Michigan, ordered the book after checking to make sure that it had not been banned in the state. When it arrived, according to state documents, the prison's mailroom staff refused to give it to him, citing its racial content.

Months later, after a series of appeals, the state decided that Mr. Passmore could read the book but informed him that he would have to buy a new copy, as it had misplaced his.

Mr. Passmore, who spent nine years behind bars after pleading no contest to armed robbery charges when he was 14, eventually read the book. He said that it opened his eyes to the wrongs done to black people.

"I feel like the reason why they tried to reject it is because they didn't want me to have that kind of knowledge," said Mr. Passmore, who was recently released.

Prison officials almost universally agree that certain books should be prohibited. Roger Werholtz, who served as secretary of corrections in Kansas and as interim executive director of corrections in Colorado, said that books that could interfere with safety, like instructions on how to pick locks or make weapons, or those that could incite disturbances, such as racist or white supremacist literature, were banned under his watch.

He said that he did not think banning Ms. Alexander's book for its arguments about race made sense.

"I would be pretty skeptical of that," he said. "That's not anything that you don't see in the newspaper. Frankly, most prison officials talk very openly about the overrepresentation of minorities."

Jason Hernandez, 40, was a 21-year-old first-time, nonviolent drug offender when he was convicted of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

Mr. Hernandez studied law in prison and filed his own appeals, only to see them denied. In 2010, he borrowed "The New Jim Crow" from the prison's library lending program.

It inspired him to start a grass-roots organization to help himself and other nonviolent drug offenders with life sentences. In September 2011, he appealed directly to Mr. Obama for clemency. His request was granted and he was released in 2015.

"They prevent books from going in there that could maybe help people escape," he said. "This is what this book did for me, and what it's done for hundreds of others."



13) Why New York Hires 200 People to Pretend They're Homeless

 JAN. 19, 2018




To gauge the accuracy of the annual count of homeless people on the streets, New York City commissions a "shadow count" of decoys, shown here in a training session.CreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times

One night a year, Javon Egyptt and Darryn Lubonski stage a performance on a New York City sidewalk. Dressed in layers, hats and extra socks, the couple pretends to be homeless.

They will join about 200 other decoys who will be paid to act as if they live on the street during the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate, the city's annual census of unsheltered homeless people, as a way gauging the count's accuracy.

Like many of the decoys, Ms. Egyptt and Mr. Lubonski have experienced homelessness, living in subway stations or parks, abandoned homes or on the streets.

"When New York City had a blizzard up to here," Ms. Egyptt said, placing her hand at her stomach, "I was on the street."

The city enlists thousands of volunteers for the four-hour, overnight canvass, an undertaking that would cost far more without the unpaid search parties. The decoys shoulder the responsibility of testing the accuracy of a survey carried out by volunteers who are sometimes too timid to approach homeless people or are too inattentive to spot them.

The annual count, scheduled for Monday, is part of a nationwide estimate of homelessness, which helps to determine annual federal grants.

The city uses the percentage of decoys who are not found as a margin of error, one of several factors used to come up with the final estimate. "All of our efforts here are essentially checking our work," said Steven Banks, the city's commissioner of social services.

The decoy program is known as the "shadow count," and the people who brave the cold year after year say they do it not for the pay of $85, but as a civic duty.

The city estimated that 3,900 people lived unsheltered during last year's census, accounting for about 5 percent of the city's 77,000 homeless people. Still, there was a 40 percent jump in street homelessness over the previous year, which city officials attributed to unseasonably warm weather. But advocates for homeless people have long argued that the unsheltered population is likely higher, since people find temporary relief with friends and family during inclement weather.

For the rest of the year, thousands of people choose the street over a warm shelter bed. Ms. Egyptt and Mr. Lubonski, 53, pointed to the lax security and squalid conditions of shelters.

"My boots got stolen. I got stabbed," Mr. Lubonski said.

"Mold in the showers," Ms. Egyptt said, shaking her head.

Ruby Garner, 56, who helps supervise the decoys, said she once lived in an abandoned building where she cooked food on a makeshift stove fashioned from bricks and candles. She said she slept on a bed of old clothes. "I had that apartment looking like it was mine," she said, laughing at her ingenuity.

She said the annual survey does not capture squatters who may be off the street but aren't in a shelter or a home. "If those enumerators really want to know, I could take them," she said.

The HOPE count, established in 2005, sticks to more visible, public spaces.

Decoys underwent training last week at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, which administers the shadow count under a $133,000 contract with the city. At two sessions on a Monday night, people hugged and greeted each other. Many of them only see each other once a year to prepare for the overnight endeavor. They shared advice and swapped stories as Christine H. Kim, the project manager for the count, went over logistics and dos and don'ts.

Decoys must work in pairs, standing or sitting 10 to 15 feet apart on a street, train or subway platform. Volunteers cannot be faulted for failing to find decoys who are not where they were supposed to be. "It's kind of like you're not even there," Ms. Kim told decoys.

But decoys also must not draw attention with signs or signals. "You don't want to do the job of the enumerators," she said. "You're tired. You're hungry. You have to go to the bathroom. But you let that enumerator pass you by."

Arvernetta Henry, a retired teacher in her late 60s, admitted that she and a partner once waved down volunteers who overlooked them as they stood under a bridge. "We're over here! We're over here!" said Ms. Henry, who used to be homeless. "This young group, they were so excited to find us. You would have thought they found a gold mine."

On average, about 90 percent of decoys are found, and most are found within two hours, revealing themselves after volunteers ask whether they have somewhere to live.

A decoy recalled that he was found at 12:05 a.m., barely having enough time for him to lean on a garbage can and for his partner to post up on a fence. But Ms. Kim cautioned, "There are always some unlucky people who are left out there until 4 a.m."

Most of the homeless in New York City are black, and many of the volunteers are white. Decoys at the training said a few white volunteers seemed afraid to approach them, and they blamed racism. "Maybe there was some racial tension," Ms. Kim said.

There is also tension within the decoy ranks.

A decoy blamed her partner's sleek outfit for volunteers passing them by on a Far Rockaway street last year. "I had my hair kind of crazy. She had a bag strapped around her like she was running," the woman said.

Some fellow decoys winced at her words, feeling that she harbored a misperception.

Attitudes that all street homeless people are mentally ill and bedraggled lead to undercounts, said Mr. Lubonski, recalling how volunteers failed to recognize Ms. Egyptt and him as they stood in front of a Manhattan subway entrance.

"When I was homeless, I looked just like this," he said, opening his arms. He wore khaki pants and sneakers.

During an interview, Ms. Egyptt wore a shearling bomber and swayed as if she were modeling. "They'll bypass me," she said. "There are people who are not homeless who smell."



14) Roe v. Wade Was About More Than Abortion

JAN. 21, 2018




A woman waiting in the recovery area after her abortion at a clinic in Alabama.CreditMelissa Golden for The New York Times

The events planned to mark the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade have one main thing in common: They focus on abortion. In protesting Roe this year, March for Life celebrated a record low abortion rate, proclaiming that "love saves lives." California lawmakers introduced a resolution last year describing Roe as "the cornerstone of women's ability to control their reproductive lives."

But as the nation again considers the legacy of the country's best-known Supreme Court decision, issued on Jan. 22, 1973, we have mostly forgotten part of the story of Roe v. Wade — one almost entirely disconnected from abortion. In the 1970s and beyond, Americans used Roe to answer much larger questions: What does the right to privacy mean, and who can claim that right?

Because we so often identify Roe with a woman's right to choose, we forget that the original decision attracted the ire of feminists who believed that the court had focused too little on women's interests in fertility control. The court held that the right to privacy was broad enough to encompass a woman's decision, with her doctor, to terminate her pregnancy. The justices also reasoned that the government's interest in protecting fetal life did not become compelling until the point of viability.

But why wield the court's decision as a weapon for social change? Most scholars agreed that Roe was a poorly reasoned opinion. What was the appeal for grass-roots activists?

The answer is that Roe's definition of privacy seemed different. More than other Supreme Court decisions, it connected privacy to ideas about individual identity and choice. Whatever the flaws of the original decision, many hoped to use it to redefine who was thought to have autonomy and why.

Civil libertarians, feminists and supporters of L.G.B.T. rights argued that the right to privacy stated in the abortion decision covered other decisions about sexual intimacy. The American Civil Liberties Unionused Roe in defending sex workers, gays and lesbians, porn stars and women cohabiting with their boyfriends.

Conservatives as well as liberals invoked this newly articulated right to privacy. With the spread of computers, politicians like Barry Goldwater and his son, the former Republican representative Barry Goldwater Jr., pointed to Roe in demanding privacy protections for personal information.

Champions of consumers' rights read the abortion decision as suggesting that patients could choose any course of treatment, including unproven alternative remedies. Those seeking a right to die used it in the fight for autonomy at the end of life.

For more than a decade, Roe appealed to different groups exploring the untapped potential of the right to privacy. People on both the right and the left saw possible connections between privacy and individual interests in conscientious objection, self-determination and equal treatment.

So how did one decision 45 years ago become synonymous with abortion and nothing else? In part, other privacy fights fizzled when the coalitions backing new rights collapsed. Feminists and libertarians clashed about the line between sexual coercion and sexual privacy. Those who hoped to expand data privacy disagreed about when the government had a good enough reason to collect personal data.

Abortion foes and Republican politicians consciously tried to redefine Roe, equating the decision with abortion and judicial activism. Ronald Reagan had to assure social conservatives that he would pick federal judges who opposed abortion, but he also consistently promised to select nominees based on their accomplishments and judicial philosophy. Labeling Roe an activist decision helped Reagan and other Republicans strike this balance.

Abortion opponents initially did not take much interest in arguments about judicial activism, seeing them as a distraction from the fight for an amendment that would ban all abortions. But by the 1980s, it was obvious that a fetal rights amendment would not pass soon. Delegitimizing Roe suddenly seemed an important step toward the movement's new goal of overruling the 1973 decision.

On Roe's 45th anniversary, we should stop to think about where the right to privacy stands today. The picture does not seem very rosy. Since the new year, there have been fresh concerns about data breaches and the misuse of digital information by giants like Facebook and Google. Privacy and conscience have taken center stage as the Supreme Court considers whether a Christian baker can refuse to serve a same-sex couple. It is easy to believe that the right to privacy is ineffective, more likely to shore up a dissatisfying status quo.

But part of Roe's legacy is the many ways conservatives and liberals once reimagined the right to privacy. Social movements hardly felt constrained by what the Supreme Court had written.

Some pointed to privacy not just in asking for freedom from the government but also in demanding financial support from the state. Others asked not just to be left alone behind closed doors but also to get respect for relationships in public. People tried to use the right to privacy to transform attitudes about sexuality, death and the collection of digital data.

Americans have rethought the right to privacy before. There is no reason we couldn't do it again.

































Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com
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