End U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad

Sunday, April 15, 2018

11:00 A.M. Meet at Lake Merritt Amphitheater

12:00 P.M. March to Oscar Grant Plaza

1:00 P.M. Rally at Oscar Grant Plaza

Join us as part of a weekend of united, nationally-coordinated regional mobilizations to challenge the war makers and defend humanity.



It is so beautiful to see young people in this country rising up to demand an end to gun violence. But what is Donald Trump's response? Instead of banning assault weapons, he wants to give guns to teachers and militarize our schools. But one of the reasons for mass school shootings is precisely because our schools are already militarized. Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was trained by U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program while he was in high school.

Yesterday, Divest from the War Machine coalition member, Pat Elder, was featured on Democracy Now discussing his recent article about the JROTC in our schools. The JROTC teaches children how to shoot weapons. It is often taught by retired soldiers who have no background in teaching. They are allowed to teach classes that are given at least equal weight as classes taught by certified and trained teachers. We are pulling our children away from classes that expand their minds and putting them in classes that teach them how to be killing machines. The JROTC program costs our schools money. It sends equipment. But, the instructors and facilities must be constructed and paid for by the school.

The JROTC puts our children's futures at risk. Children who participate in JROTC shooting programs are exposed to lead bullets from guns. They are at an increased risk when the shooting ranges are inside. The JROTC program is designed to "put a jump start on your military career." Children are funneled into JROTC to make them compliant and to feed the military with young bodies which are prepared to be assimilated into the war machine. Instead of funneling children into the military, we should be channeling them into jobs that support peace and sustainable development. 

Tell Senator McCain and Representative Thornberry to take the war machine out of our schools! The JROTC program must end immediately. The money should be directed back into classrooms that educate our children.

The Divest from the War Machine campaign is working to remove our money from the hands of companies that make a killing on killing. We must take on the systems that keep fueling war, death, and destruction around the globe. AND, we must take on the systems that are creating an endless cycle of children who are being indoctrinated at vulnerable ages to become the next killing machine.  Don't forget to post this message on Facebook and Twitter.

Onward in divestment,

Ann, Ariel, Brienne, Jodie, Kelly, Kirsten, Mark, Medea, Nancy, Natasha, Paki, Sarah, Sophia and Tighe

P.S. Do you want to do more? Start a campaign to get the JROTC out of your school district or state. Email divest@codepink.org and we'll get you started!



by Rachel Wolkenstein




Please join Women for Genuine Security to 

celebrate International Women's Day 

with a Ceremony at the Comfort Women 

Memorial in San Francisco. 

Saturday March 10, 2-3.30pm

at St. Mary's Square Park

651 California St, between Kearny and Grant St, Chinatown, San Francisco.
There is a playground and parking lot (entrance on Kearny).
Children and families are invited.

This event will make connections between WWII Comfort Women
and current forms of systemic violence impacting women.
- Women victims of war
- Missing and murdered indigenous women
- Migrant women at the US-Mexico Border
- Women impacted by US military bases in Asia and the Pacific

Bay Area organizations will make small altars to honor and lift up courageous women who are refusing to remain invisible, speaking truth, and resisting injustice.  

Please spread the word about this. https://www.facebook.com/events/182380505707156

Women for Genuine Security with CODEPINK San Francisco, Comfort Women Justice Coalition, Indian People Organizing for Change, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Nikkei Resisters, One Heart for Justice, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom EAST BAY and SF.

to unsubscribe from this list http://lists.riseup.net/www/sigrequest/bayareacodepinkaction





Saturday March 24


5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

iCal Import this event into your personal calendar.

Location Details

Red Bay Coffee Roastery, Bar & Garden, 3098 E 10th St, Oakland (Near Fruitvale Bart)

Event Type



California Coalition for Women Prisoners


info [at] womenprisoners.org


415-255-7036 x 4

Drop LWOP Town Hall will feature a panel of formerly incarcerated women describing the injustice of the Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) sentence which condemns over 5,000 people in California prisons to a living death sentence. With food from Mamacitas Cafe, a raffle, and items for sale made by people living inside women's prisons. Donations Requested: $5-20. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Added to the calendar on Sunday Feb 25th, 2018 8:27 PM



A Call for a National Conference to
Organize a Fightback to Defeat Austerity

Stop the war by the banks, corporations
and government on the workers and poor

Saturday March 24, 2018

Historic St. Matthews-St. Joseph's Church

8850 Woodward Avenue

(between Holbrook and King)

Detroit, MI 48202


Special Conference Guest:
Ricardo Santos Ramos, former President,
Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER),
Puerto Rico.

To endorse, email defeatausterity@gmail.com

All progressive activists and organizations are invited to participate in the National Conference to Defeat Austerity taking place in Detroit on Saturday, March 24. The purpose of this gathering is to map out a strategy for defeating the war being waged by the banks, corporations and government against the workers and oppressed. Capitalism cannot continue unchallenged while our very lives are being jeopardized by the ruling elites who are determined to grow richer and more powerful at our expense while whipping up white supremacy, an anti-immigrant offensive, attacks on women and anti-LGBTQ bigotry to keep our class divided.

Detroit along with colonized Puerto Rico has been at the epicenter of bank-imposed austerity against the workers and oppressed in this hemisphere. But every U.S. city, from Chicago to Baltimore to Cleveland to Milwaukee, from New York City to Oakland and Seattle, has felt the brunt of this attack in the form of cutbacks, school closings, mass transit cuts, water shutoffs, gentrification and destruction of public service unions.

The Trump tax plan and Pentagon war build-up continue the massive transfer of wealth to the rich at the expense of the poor. This war by the banks and on the workers and poor is an international phenomenon spanning every continent. On March 24, we will hammer out a program on how to fight back against the corporations, the banks and their lackeys in government at all levels.

The Conference will discuss these issues in depth from the perspective of how they all are products of a capitalist system where profits are everything and people mean nothing. We will mobilize support for making May Day 2018 an anti-Austerity Day, as well as lending solidarity to the Poor Peoples Campaign. We will outline a program of action in solidarity with all movements working for social change and transformation.

For information on housing, please email Sharon at sfsharonfeldman@live.com 

If you need child care, please email your request to defeatausterity@gmail.com 

Please indicate your intent to participate in the conference by registering at CONFERENCE REGISTRATION.

Finally, donations are needed to cover the cost of the conference. Click here to donate online or write a check to Moratorium NOW, add #DefeatAusterity in the memo line, and mail the check to:

Moratorium NOW! Coalition

5920 Second Ave.

Detroit, MI 48202



Tell the Feds: End Draft Registration

This morning, in a small community college classroom in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a newly formed federal commission  scheduled its first public hearing on the future of draft registration in the United States. "The bipartisan, 11-member Commission was created by Congress to review the military selective service process," notes their press release. In addition to eight more (yet to be scheduled) public hearings across the United States over the next two years, the commission has invited feedback via a webform here.

Courage to Resist Podcast: The Future of Draft Registration in the United States

We had draft registration resister Edward Hasbrouck on the Courage to Resistpodcast this week to explain what's going on. Edward talks about his own history of going to prison for refusing to register for the draft in 1983, the background on this new federal commission, and he addresses liberal arguments in favor of involuntary service. Edward explains: 

When you say, "I'm not willing to be drafted", you're saying, "I'm going to make my own choices about which wars we should be fighting", and when you say, "You should submit to the draft", you're saying, "You should let the politicians decide for you."

What's happening right now is that a National Commission … has been appointed to study the question of whether draft registration should be continued, whether it should be expanded to make women, as well as men register for the draft, whether a draft itself should be started, whether there should be some other kind of Compulsory National Service enacted.

The Pentagon would say, and it's true, they don't want a draft. It's not plan A, but it's always been plan B, and it's always been the assumption that if we can't get enough volunteers, if we get in over our head, if we pick a larger fight than we can pursue, we always have that option in our back pocket that, "If not enough people volunteer, we're just going to go go to the draft, go to the benches, and dragoon enough people to fight these wars."

[This] is the first real meaningful opportunity for a national debate about the draft in decades.


484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559

















Tuesday, March 27, 8:00 A.M.

Court Hearing

Room 1108, Criminal Justice Center

1301 Filbert Street, Philadelphia

In a court case that could eventually lead to Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom, Judge Leon Tucker has ordered the District Attorney's office to present new testimony in reference to Ronald Castille. A Status Hearing will take place Feb.26 followed by a court hearing on March 27.

Castille is a former PA Supreme Court

judge who refused to disqualify

Himself when Mumia's case came before the court despite having been the Philadelphia District Attorney during Mumia's prior appeals. The US Supreme Court has ruled such conduct unconstitutional.

The people's movement forced the courts to take Abu-Jamal off death row in 2011 but his freedom was not won. Despite his innocence he was re-sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

As an innocent man, Mumia must be freed! It is even more urgent that he gain his freedom because he is suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, severe itching and other ailments.

International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, International Action Center, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (NYC), Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, Educators for Mumia; Food Not Bombs Solidarity

What you can do:

 Call DA Larry Krasner at (215)686-8000.

Tell him to release all DA and police files on Mumia to the public.

Tell the DA to release Mumia because he's factually innocent.

 Pack the court on 2/26 and 3/27.


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 



Major George Tillery

A Case of Gross Prosecutorial Misconduct and Police Corruption

Sexual Favors and Hotel Rooms Provided by Police to Prosecution Fact Witness for Fabricated Testimony During Trial

By Nancy Lockhart, M.J.

August 24, 2016

Corruption in The State of Pennsylvania is being exposed with a multitude of public officials indicted by the US Attorney's office in 2015 and 2016.  A lengthy list of extortion, theft, and corruption in public service includes a former Solicitor, Treasurer and Veteran Police Officer  U.S. Department of Justice Corruption Prosecutions.  On Monday August 15, 2016 Pennsylvania State Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane was found guilty of all nine counts in a perjury and obstruction case related to a grand jury leak.  Pennsylvania's Attorney General Convicted On All Counts - New York Times

Although this is a small sampling of decades long corruption throughout the state of Pennsylvania, Major George Tillery has languished in prison over 31 years because of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption. Tillery was tried and convicted in 1985 in a trial where prosecutors and police created a textbook criminal story for bogus convictions. William Franklin was charged as a co-conspirator in the shootings, he was tried and convicted in December of 1980, because he refused to lie on Tillery.  Franklin is 69 years old according to the PADOC website and has been in prison 36 years. 

Major Tillery Is Not Represented by an Attorney and Needs Your Assistance to Retain One. Donate to Major Tillery's Legal Defense FundMajor Tillery, PA DOC# AM9786, will turn 66-years-old on September 9, 2016 and has spent over three decades in prison for crimes he did not commit. Twenty of those 31 plus years were spent in solitary confinement. Tillery has endured many very serious medical issues and medical neglect.  Currently, he is plagued with serious illnesses that include hepatitis C, stubborn skin rashes, dangerous intestinal disorders and a degenerative hip. His orthopedic shoes were taken by prison administrators and never returned.

Tillery, was convicted of homicide, assault, weapons and conspiracy charges in 1985, for the poolroom shootings which left one man dead and another wounded. William Franklin was the pool room operator at the time. The shooting occurred on October 22, 1976.  

Falsified testimony was the only evidence presented during trial. No other evidence linked Tillery to the 1976 shootings, except for the testimony of two jailhouse informants. Both men swore that they had received no promises, agreements, or deals in exchange for their testimony. Barbra Christie, the trial prosecutor, insisted to the Court and Jury that these witnesses were not given any plea agreements or sentencing promises. That was untrue.

Newly discovered evidence is the sole basis for Tillery's latest Pro Se filing. According to the  Post Conviction Relief Petition Filed June 15, 2016, evidence proves that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania committed fraud on the Court and Jury which undermined the fundamentals of due process. The newly discovered evidence in sworn declarations is from two prosecution fact witnesses. Those two witnesses provided the entirety of trial evidence against Major Tillery. The declarations explain false testimonies manufactured by the prosecution with the assistance of police detectives/investigators. On August 19, 2016 Judge Leon Tucker filed a Notice of Intent to Dismiss Major's PCRA petition.  Notice to Dismiss

Emanuel Claitt Has Come Forth to Declare His Testimony as Manufactured and Fabricated by Police and Prosecutors. Claitt states that his testimony during trial was fabricated and coerced by Assistant District Attorney Barbara Christie, Detectives John Cimino and James McNeshy.  Claitt swore that he was promised a very favorable plea agreement and treatment in his pending criminal cases.  Claitt was granted sexual favors in exchange for his false testimony. Claitt states that he was allowed to have sex with four different women in the homicide interview rooms and in hotel rooms in exchange for his cooperation. 

Prosecution fact witness Emanuel Claitt states in his  Declaration of Emanuel Claitt, and Emanuel Claitt Supplemental Declaration that testimony against Major Tillery was fabricated, coerced and coached by Assistant District Attorney's Leonard Ross, Barbara Christie, and Roger King with the assistance of Detectives Larry Gerrad, Ernest Gilbert, and Lt. Bill Shelton.  Claitt was threatened with false murder charges as well as, given promises and agreements of favorable plea deals and sentencing. In exchange for his false testimony, many of Claitt's cases were not prosecuted. He received probation. Additionally, he was sentenced to a mere 18 months for fire bombing and was protected after his arrest between the time of Franklin's and Tillery's trials.  

Trial Lawyer Operated Under Actual Conflict of Interest. Tillery discovered that his trial lawyer, Joseph Santaguida, also represented the victim. In other words, the victim in this case was represented by trial lawyer Santaguida and Santaguida also represented Major Tillery.  The Commonwealth has concealed newly discovered evidence as well as, evidence which would have been favorable to Major Tillery in the criminal trial. That evidence would have exonerated him. In light of the new Declarations which prove manufactured testimony by prosecutors and police, Major Tillery needs legal representation. He is not currently represented by an attorney. 

Donate: Major Tillery's Legal Defense FundClick Here & Donate



Art by Leonard Peltier

Free Leonard Peltier!

On my 43rd year in prison I yearn to hug my grandchildren.

By Leonard Peltier

I am overwhelmed that today, February 6, is the start of my 43rd year in prison. I have had such high hopes over the years that I might be getting out and returning to my family in North Dakota. And yet here I am in 2018 still struggling for my FREEDOM at 73.

I don't want to sound ungrateful to all my supporters who have stood by me through all these years. I dearly love and respect you and thank you for the love and respect you have given me.

But the truth is I am tired, and often my ailments cause me pain with little relief for days at a time. I just had heart surgery and I have other medical issues that need to be addressed: my aortic aneurysm that could burst at any time, my prostate, and arthritis in my hip and knees.

I do not think I have another ten years, and what I do have I would like to spend with my family. Nothing would bring me more happiness than being able to hug my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I did not come to prison to become a political prisoner. I've been part of Native resistance since I was nine years of age. My sister, cousin and I were kidnapped and taken to boarding school. This incident and how it affected my cousin Pauline, had an enormous effect on me.

This same feeling haunts me as I reflect upon my past 42 years of false imprisonment. This false imprisonment has the same feeling as when I heard the false affidavit the FBI manufactured about Myrtle Poor Bear being at Oglala on the day of the fire-fight—a fabricated document used to extradite me illegally from Canada in 1976.

I know you know that the FBI files are full of information that proves my innocence. Yet many of those files are still withheld from my legal team. During my appeal before the 8th Circuit, former Prosecuting Attorney Lynn Crooks said to Judge Heaney: "Your honor, we do not know who killed those agents. Further, we don't know what participation, if any, Mr. Peltier had in it."

That statement exonerates me, and I should have been released. But here I sit, 43 years later still struggling for my freedom. I have pleaded my innocence for so long now, in so many courts of law, in so many public statements issued through the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, that I will not argue it here. But I will say again, I DID NOT KILL THOSE AGENTS!

Right now, I need my supporters here in the U.S. and throughout the world helping me. We need donations large or small to help pay my legal team to do the research that will get me back into court or get me moved closer to home or a compassionate release based on my poor health and age. Please help me to go home, help me win my freedom!

There is a new petition my Canadian brothers and sisters are circulating internationally that will be attached to my letter. Please sign it and download it so you can take it to your work, school or place of worship. Get as many signatures as you can, a MILLION would be great!

I have been a warrior since age nine. At 73, I remain a warrior. I have been here too long. The beginning of my 43rd year plus over 20 years of good time credit, that makes 60-plus years behind bars.

I need your help. I need your help today! A day in prison for me is a lifetime for those outside because I am isolated from the world.

I remain strong only because of your support, prayers, activism and your donations that keep my legal hope alive.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse


Leonard Peltier

If you would like a paper petition, please email contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info.

—San Francisco Bay View, February 6, 2018

Write to:

Leonard Peltier 89637-132 

USP Coleman I 

P.O. Box 1033 

Coleman, FL 33521

Donations can be made on Leonard's behalf to the ILPD national office, 116 W. Osborne Ave, Tampa, FL 33603



More Artwork by Kevin Cooper




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…"









Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:

Love this guy!








Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










We are extremely disappointed to share yesterday's ruling of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which has upheld the indefinite imprisonment of Reality Leigh Winner. Ms. Winner has been jailed without bail since June 6, 2017 for helping expose Russian hacking that targeted US election systems.

"I am beyond heartbroken" shared Winner's mother, Billie Davis-Winner. "The trial, originally scheduled in October 2017 and then reset to March 2018, will once again be reset to a much later date, but as of now we do not have a new setting. There is so much going on with the evidence and discovery and there are a few active appeals not yet ruled on. It's gonna be a long journey."

Winner, a decorated Air Force veteran with no criminal record, who has already served eight months in jail despite being convicted of no crime, and displaying every intention to face the single charge against her in court, will now be jailed for another year, regardless of the jury's eventual verdict.


Government transparency advocate Rainey Reitman adds that "Reality Winner is facing an unjust and unconstitutional prosecution under the Espionage Act. This 100 year old law, created to prosecute spies during World War I, isn't designed to be used on whistleblowers. Under this law, the judge won't consider her motives or the public benefits of her actions as a whistleblower. It makes it impossible for her to receive a fair trial."

Jeff Paterson, who managed the successful campaign to free Chelsea Manning, notes that, "By the time Reality's trial starts, she'll have spent a full year and half behind bars. Meanwhile the actual Russiagate indicted criminals, including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, haven't spent a day in jail."

"Winner's case has precedent setting implications for whistleblowers trying to do the right thing, press freedom, election suppression, and the government's escalating war on dissent. Reality took a risk to share something that Americans had a right to know," Paterson added.


January 2017 - After serving six years in the Air Force, Winner takes a job as an NSA intelligence contractor.

May 9, 2017 - President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. Winner allegedly finds and prints a classified report entitled, "Russia/Cybersecurity: Main Intelligence Directorate Cyber Actors."

May 10, 2017 - Trump celebrates with Russian officials in the White House, bragging that he had fired "nut job" Comey in order to end any "Russiagate" investigation.

May 11, 2017 - Winner allegedly sends NSA report to the media outlet "The Intercept."

May 17, 2017 - Special counsel Robert Mueller appointed to investigate "Russiagate."

June 5, 2017 - Winner arrested. During interrogation, she allegedly states, "Why do I have this job if I'm just going to sit back and be helpless … I just thought that was the final straw … I felt really hopeless seeing that information contested … Why isn't this out there? Why can't this be public?"


Contrary to a focus on citizens' right to know of attacks against election infrastructure, Winner's Espionage Act charge actually requires the government to prove that the leak itself caused harm rather than exposed it. Joe Whitley, attorney for Reality Winner, recently explained.

     "This is not a simple case. 18 U.S.C. § 793(e) -- the charged offense here -- is a notoriously complicated statute that has numerous elements the Government must prove, including ... that the classified intelligence reporting referenced ... constitutes "national defense information" (meaning the Document could actually threaten the national security of the US if disclosed, and that the information in the classified intelligence reporting was "closely held") and that the Defendant knew the Document contained this type of information." (Case document #203)

Winner has a top notch defense team determined to prove her innocence in court, despite the prosecution's ongoing campaign to deny her the right to a fair and open trial.

And we are the primary source of fundraising for Winner's legal defense team as well as leading public education efforts regarding this precedent setting First Amendment vs. Espionage Act case.

SOLIDARITY STEP: Make a donation today in honor of Reality's courage to do the right thing and to support her legal defense.

And tell others. BOOST THE SIGNAL!

Can you donate a few hours this month to help? We have a small list of a few well-defined volunteer tasks which we can send you to consider if they match with your interest and skills. Please email us at connect@standwithreality.org


For complete campaign information and case documents:








1)   Oil Was Central in Decision to Shrink Bears Ears Monument, Emails Show

MARCH 2, 2018




Comb Wash, a valley in Bears Ears National Monument near Blanding, Utah. CreditAndrew Cullen/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Even before President Trump officially opened his high-profile review last spring of federal lands protected as national monuments, the Department of Interior was focused on the potential for oil and gas exploration at a protected Utah site, internal agency documents show.

The debate started as early as March 2017, when an aide to Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, asked a senior Interior Department official to consider reduced boundaries for Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah to remove land that contained oil and natural gas deposits that had been set aside to help fund area public schools.

"Please see attached for a shapefile and pdf of a map depicting a boundary change for the southeast portion of the Bears Ears monument," said the March 15 email from Senator Hatch's office. Adopting this map would "resolve all known mineral conflicts," the email said, referring to oil and gas sites on the land that the state's public schools wanted to lease out to bolster state funds.

The map that Mr. Hatch's office provided, which was transmitted about a month before Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke publicly initiated his review of national monuments, was incorporated almost exactly into the much larger reductions President Trump announced in December, shrinking Bears Ears by 85 percent.

Since taking office, Mr. Trump has been focused on expanding oil, gas and coal development and sweeping away Obama-era environmental initiatives that the administration contends hurt America's energy industry. The debate over shrinking national monuments sparked a fierce political battle over how much land needs federal protection that is now being fought in the courts.

Mr. Zinke has said that the agency review process made no presumptions about the outcomes. "We want to make sure that everyone's voice is heard," Mr. Zinke said at a news conference in May during a visit to Bear's Ears.

Most of the deliberations took place behind closed doors. The internal Interior Department emails — more than 25,000 pages in total — were obtained by The New York Times after it sued the agency in federal court with the assistance of the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale University Law School. The lawsuit cited the agency's failure to respond to an open records request in August asking for internal records related to the deliberations.

The bulk of the documents made public by the Interior Department — about 20,000 pages of them — detail the yearslong effort during the Obama administration to create new monuments, including input from environmental groups, Indian tribes, state officials and members of Congress. President Barack Obama created or expanded 29 national monuments during his tenure, representing a total of about 553 million acres, more than any of his predecessors.

The remaining pages, a total of approximately 4,500 files, relate to the Trump administration's reconsideration of these actions by Mr. Obama and other presidents.

Heather Swift, the Interior Department spokeswoman, said in a statement that no uranium mine or milling operations were located within the boundaries of either the original or modified Bears Ears National Monument.

In reviewing monuments, Ms. Swift said, "The Secretary took into consideration the views of a variety of interested parties, such as members of congress, governors, state and tribal leaders, and the public, including the views of those parties as to possible revised monument boundaries. One such organization that weighed in was the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) which is responsible for funding so the children of Utah receive a quality education."

Matthew Whitlock, a spokesman for Senator Hatch, said that the senator has been involved in discussions around Bears Ears for years. He emphasized that some of the land had long been designated to help fund local schools, and that Senator Hatch's interest was to protect the school funding.

The internal Interior Department emails and memos also show the central role that concerns over gaining access to coal reserves played in the decision by the Trump administration to shrink the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by about 47 percent, to just over 1 million acres.

Mr. Zinke's staff developed a series of estimates on the value of coal that could potentially be mined from a section of Grand Staircase called the Kaiparowits plateau. As a result of Mr. Trump's action, major parts the area are no longer a part of the national monument.

"The Kaiparowits plateau, located within the monument, contains one of the largest coal deposits in the United States," an Interior Department memo, issued in the spring of 2017, said. About 11.36 billion tons are "technologically recoverable," it projected.

From the start of the Interior Department review process, agency officials directed staff to figure out how much coal, oil and natural gas — as well as grass for cattle grazing, and timber — had been put essentially off limits, or made harder to access, by the decision to designate the areas as national monuments.

One memo, for example, asked Interior staff to prepare a report on each national monument, with a yellow highlighter on the documents emphasizing the need to examine in detail "annual production of coal, oil, gas and renewables (if any) on site; amount of energy transmission infrastructure on site (if any)." It was followed up by a reminder to staff in June to also look at how the decision to create new National Monuments in Utah might have hurt area mines.

"Sorry about this, but this came from DOI late yesterday," Timothy Fisher, the leader of the National Monuments and Conservation Areas program at Interior wrote to his colleagues, referring to the Department of Interior headquarters in Washington. "Are there mines or processing facilities near or adjacent to a National Monument?" he wrote. He also asked how the protection of the federal lands may have affected mining.

In another email exchange, in May, two Bureau of Land Management officials said that Mr. Zinke's chief of staff for policy, Downey Magallanes, had phoned to ask for information on a uranium mill in or near the Bears Ears monument. The request sought "economic data to the extent available," as well as grazing and hunting maps.

And on July 17, Ms. Magallanes and Mr. Zinke's counselor for energy policy, Vincent DeVito, met with representatives of a uranium mining company. The company, Energy Fuels Resources Inc., said its representatives hoped to discuss its White Mesa uranium mill as well as the Daneros uranium mine, both adjacent to the Bears Ears monument.

In addition to Paul Goranson, a top executive at Energy Fuels Resources, the meeting included Mary Bono, a former Republican congresswoman from California; and Andrew Wheeler, then a lobbyist at the firm Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting and now awaiting confirmation to be deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The debate over oil and gas reserves below the ground in Bears Ears had started during the Obama administration, the documents show, with officials from Utah State Board of Education writing to the Interior Department objecting to the plan to designate the property a national monument.

Before Utah became a state, in 1896, the federal government granted so-called trust lands to support state institutions, like the public schools, given that nearly 70 percent of the state is federally controlled land.

The state has generated more than $1.7 billion in revenue from the trust lands to support public schools, mostly by selling off mineral rights allowing private companies to extract oil or gas. The Bears Ears National Monument created by President Obama in 2016 included about 110,000 acres of these trust lands, eliminating the potential for resource sales, the state said.

John Andrews, associate director of the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, which oversees the lands designated for school funding, acknowledged that the new Bears Ears boundaries approved by Mr. Trump, which reduced the land removed from the trust's management to about 22,000 acres, reflected his group's request to exclude its trust lands.

But he noted that Mr. Trump ultimately reduced the monument by a much larger amount than his organization had sought.

"Obviously they were looking at facts other than the ones we had raised, we assume," he said.

Mr. Whitlock, the spokesman for Mr. Hatch, said, "Senator Hatch is grateful these emails have been released because they make very clear that his priority in addressing the Bears Ears situation was looking out for the people of Utah.



2)  We Will Stay!' West Virginia Teachers Vote to Occupy State Capitol Until Demands Met

By Jake Johnson, March 2, 2018


As the demonstrations raged on in the state capitol, West Virginia lawmakers voted against bringing a teacher pay raise bill to the Senate floor for immediate consideration, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on Friday. (Photo: Jacobin/Twitter)

Though you may not know it from the corporate media's coverage—or lack thereof—West Virginia teachers are still striking in an effort to win both a pay raise and a permanent fix to their soaring health insurance premiums, and on Friday they voted to occupy the state capitol until their demands are met.

Watch teachers chant "We will stay!" shortly following the vote:


Earlier this week, West Virginia's Republican Gov. Jim Justice and the state's education union leaders reached an agreement on a bill that would raise teacher pay by 5 percent—meeting, at least in word, one of the teachers' core demands.

However, the compromise did not offer a permanent fix to the state's Public Employee Insurance Agency amid rising premiums, so teachers decided to continue striking.

"This has been a huge issue, causing problems for years. They've been cutting our health insurance over and over, making it really expensive to survive," Jay O'Neal, a middle-school teacher and union activist in Charleston, said in an interview with Jacobin on Thursday.

On Friday, the mass walkout—which has left schools in all of West Virginia's 55 counties closed—entered its seventh day.

As the demonstrations raged on in the state capitol, West Virginia lawmakers voted against bringing a teacher pay raise bill to the Senate floor for immediate consideration, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on Friday.

While some have called the West Virginia teachers' collective struggle for justice "the most important story in the country right now," many mainstream media outlets—including so-called liberal networks like MSNBC—have either neglected the strike or almost completely ignored it.

"Save for one two-minute throwaway report from daytime show 'Velshi and Ruhle,' MSNBC hasn't dedicated a single segment to the strike—despite the strike's unprecedented size and scope," media analyst Adam Johnson observed in a piece for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) on Friday. "The most glaring omission is from the three highly paid primetime hosts: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell, and former In These Times and Nation writer Chris Hayes. None of the three big hosts have tweeted about it, much less mentioned the subject on air."



3) Philando Castile Charity Pays Off Lunch Debt for Hundreds of Students

MARCH 5, 2018




A memorial for Philando Castile at the Minnesota governor's residence in July 2016. Mr. Castile was known to pay for needy students' lunches at the school where he worked. CreditJim Mone/Associated Press


Before Philando Castile became a household name in July 2016, when his deadly encounter with a Minnesota police officer was streamed live on Facebook, students at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School knew him simply as Mr. Phil. He was the school nutrition worker who often swooped in to pay for their lunches when they could not afford them.

Now, a year and a half after his death, a fund-raiser created in Mr. Castile's memory is continuing his legacy. Last week, the creator of the charity, Philando Feeds the Children, delivered a $35,000 check to St. Paul Public Schools — enough to finish paying off the debt owed by every student enrolled in the National School Lunch Program at the district's 56 schools, including Mr. Castile's former campus.

"We are merely trying to continue Mr. Phil's kind spirit," said Pamela Fergus, a psychology instructor at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul who started the fund-raiser. "He loved those kids."

Ms. Fergus created the charity last fall as a class project with her students in Psychology 212. It had a more modest goal then: to raise several thousand dollars to cover students' cafeteria debts at J.J. Hill. But the donations came rushing in, easily surpassing their expectations and raising tens of thousands of dollars in a few months.

In October, Ms. Fergus delivered the first check, a $10,000 payment to St. Paul Public Schools, the district said. Combined with the $35,000 donation last week, Philando Feeds the Children has covered the debts of at least 1,788 students, the district said on Sunday night.

"This fund-raiser demonstrates the kind and generous spirit our community members hold in their heart for the students of S.P.P.S.," Toya Stewart Downey, a school district spokeswoman, said in an email.

Mr. Castile knew firsthand the hardships many students face. In 2002, at 19, he joined the nutrition services department of St. Paul Public Schools. He became a supervisor in 2014 and had been working at J.J. Hill for several years at the time of his death. On Sunday, his mother, Valerie Castile, shared a news article about the charity's work on her Facebook page.

"GOD Gave US Your Spirit Of Love And Kindness," wrote Ms. Castile, who did not return a call seeking comment on Sunday. "Your Legacy Will Live Forever!!"

In the school district, about 70 percent of the roughly 37,000 students are enrolled in free or reduced-price lunch, a federal program that pays for a student's entire meal or a large part of it. Students whose families are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, automatically receive free lunches at school. Others are eligible based on income: A student in a family of three would qualify for free lunch if the household made less than $26,546 a year.

Every St. Paul student who goes through the cafeteria line receives a meal, and those who are charged a full or reduced price have the amount withdrawn from a personal account. If that account is insufficiently funded, a debt accrues. But the school district, not the families, is ultimately responsible for the bill. If an account balance is never paid, the district relies on donations or digs elsewhere into its budget to cover the cost.

Although the donations from Philando Feeds the Children have covered the debts of students enrolled in the federal program, the district still has $100,000 in lunch debt, said Stacy Koppen, its director of nutrition services. Additional students could qualify but have not turned in their applications, and others just miss the financial cutoff for eligibility.

"Our goal is to enroll them in the lunch program if we can," Ms. Koppen said in an email on Sunday. "Donations are used to cover unpaid meal charges, but that amount of money is finite."

Six months after the fund-raiser started, people have donated more than $148,000, according to its website. The organizer's ambitions have grown, too: Ms. Fergus wrote on the site that she now hoped to collect $999,999, raising enough to pay lunch debts in schools across Minnesota.



4)  Too Old to Be Executed? Supreme Court Considers an Aging Death Row

By   MARCH 5, 2018





Ohio tried to execute Alva Campbell, 69, in November but could not find a suitable vein into which to pump lethal chemicals.CreditOhio Department of Rehabilitation, via Associated Press


WASHINGTON — The nation's death rows are starting to look like geriatric wards. Condemned inmates in many states are more likely to die of natural causes than to be executed. The rare ones who are put to death often first spend decades behind bars, waiting.

It turns out that executing old men is not easy. In November, Ohio called off an attempt to executeAlva Campbell, 69, after the execution team could not find a suitable vein into which to pump lethal chemicals. The state announced that it would try again in June 2019, by which time he would have been 71.

But Mr. Campbell suffered from what one judge called an "extraordinary list of ailments." He used a walker, could barely breathe and relied on a colostomy bag. He was found lifeless in his cell on Saturday, having died in the usual way, without government assistance.

In Alabama last month, state officials called off the execution of Doyle Lee Hamm, 61, also because they could not find a suitable vein. Mr. Hamm has at least two kinds of cancer, cranial and lymphatic, and he may not have long to live with or without the state's efforts.

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of another Alabama inmate, Vernon Madison, a 67-year-old man who suffers from dementia and cannot remember the crime that sent him to death row. The court, which has barred the execution of juvenile offenders and the intellectually disabled, is now turning its attention to old people.

In 1985, Mr. Madison killed a police officer, Julius Schulte, who had been trying to keep the peace between Mr. Madison and his ex-girlfriend, Cheryl Greene, as she sought to eject him from what had been their shared home. Mr. Madison shot Ms. Greene, too, wounding her.

Mr. Madison remembers none of this. He has suffered at least two severe strokes, and he is blind and incontinent. His speech is slurred, and what he says does not always make sense.

He has asked that his mother be told of his strokes, but his mother is dead. He soils himself, saying "no one will let me out to use the bathroom," though there is a toilet in his cell. He says he plans to move to Florida. He can recite the alphabet, but only to the letter G.

Mr. Madison also insists that he "never went around killing folks."

A court-appointed psychologist found that Mr. Madison had "significant body and cognitive decline as a result of strokes." But the psychologist testified that Mr. Madison understood what he was accused of and how the state planned to punish him. According to Steve Marshall, Alabama's attorney general, that is enough.

The Supreme Court's precedents bar the execution of people who lack a "rational understanding" of the reason they are to be put to death.

Mr. Marshall told the justices that Mr. Madison satisfied that standard. "The ability to form a rational understanding of an event," he wrote in January in a brief urging the justices to stay out of the case, "has very limited relation to whether a person remembers that event."

Mr. Madison's case, which has been bouncing around the court system for more than 30 years, has taken some unusual turns.

His first conviction was reversed because prosecutors violated the Constitution by excluding all seven potential jurors who were black. His second conviction was thrown outafter prosecutors committed misconduct by using expert testimony to tell the jury about evidence never properly introduced.

At Mr. Madison's third trial, the jury voted to sentence him to life in prison. But Judge Ferrill D. McRae, of Mobile County Circuit Court, overrode that verdict and sentenced Mr. Madison to death.

I interviewed Judge McRae in 2011not long before he died. I had sought him out because he had achieved a rare distinction. He had overridden six jury verdicts calling for life sentences, a state record, while never rejecting a jury's recommendation of death.

Alabama juries are not notably squeamish about the death penalty, but Judge McRae said they needed to be corrected when they were seized by an impulse toward mercy. "If you didn't have something like that," he said of judicial overrides, "a jury with no experience in other cases would be making the ultimate decision, based on nothing."

Alabama abolished judicial overrides last year.

In 2016, Mr. Madison came very close to being put to death. A deadlocked eight-member Supreme Court refused to vacate a stay of execution issued by a federal appeals court, with the court's four conservative members saying they would have let the execution proceed. Justice Antonin Scalia had died a few months before, leaving the Supreme Court short-handed. Had Justice Scalia lived, Mr. Madison would almost certainly be dead by now.

The case took some additional procedural twists, and Mr. Madison returned to the Supreme Court in January after a state court again ruled against him. The Supreme Court stayed his execution, though the court's three most conservative members — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — said they would have let it go forward.

The case, Madison v. Alabama, No. 17-7505, will be argued in the fall, and it will give the court a chance to consider some profound questions.

"Mr. Madison is one among a growing number of aging prisoners who remain on death row in this country for ever longer periods of time," Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote in a concurring opinion when the court considered an earlier appeal. "Given this trend, we may face ever more instances of state efforts to execute prisoners suffering the diseases and infirmities of old age."



5)  Frail, Old and Dying, but Their Only Way Out of Prison Is a Coffin

MARCH 7, 2018




Kevin Zeich died shortly after his request for compassionate release was granted by the federal Bureau of Prisons. Only his belongings — and his ashes — made it to the home of his daughter, Kimberly Heraldez, in Bakersfield, Calif. CreditJenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times


Kevin Zeich had three and a half years to go on his prison sentence, but his doctors told him he had less than half that long to live. Nearly blind, battling cancer and virtually unable to eat, he requested "compassionate release," a special provision for inmates who are very sick or old.

His warden approved the request, but officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons turned him down, saying his "life expectancy is currently indeterminate."

Congress created compassionate release as a way to free certain inmates, such as the terminally ill, when it becomes "inequitable" to keep them in prison any longer. Supporters view the program as a humanitarian measure and a sensible way to reduce health care costs for ailing, elderly inmates who pose little risk to public safety. But despite urging from lawmakers of both parties, numerous advocacy groups and even the Bureau of Prisons' own watchdog, prison officials use it only sparingly.

Officials deny or delay the vast majority of requests, including that of one of the oldest federal prisoners, who was 94, according to new federal data analyzed by The Marshall Project and The New York Times. From 2013 to 2017, the Bureau of Prisons approved 6 percent of the 5,400 applications received, while 266 inmates who requested compassionate release died in custody. The bureau's denials, a review of dozens of cases shows, often override the opinions of those closest to the prisoners, like their doctors and wardens.

Advocates for the program say the bureau, which oversees 183,000 inmates, denies thousands of deserving applicants. Roughly half of those who died after applying were convicted of nonviolent fraud or drug crimes.

"It makes sense to release prisoners who present very little danger to society. It's the humane thing to do, and it's the fiscally responsible thing to do," said Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, a Democrat. "The Bureau of Prisons has the theoretical authority to do this, but they basically do none of it."

Case files show that prison officials reject many prisoners' applications on the grounds that they pose a risk to public safety or that their crime was too serious to justify early release. In 2013, an inspector general reported that nearly 60 percent of inmates were denied based on the severity of their offense or criminal history. The United States Sentencing Commission has said that such considerations are better left to judges — but judges can rule on compassionate release requests only if the Bureau of Prisons approves them first.

Late last month, Mr. Schatz introduced legislation — co-sponsored with Senators Mike Lee of Utah, a Republican, and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, a Democrat — that would let prisoners petition the courts directly if the bureau denies or delays their requests.

Many are turned down for not meeting medical requirements. Mr. Zeich, who was serving 27 years for dealing methamphetamine, requested compassionate release three times, but was repeatedly told he was not sick enough. On his fourth try, his daughter, Kimberly Heraldez, finally received a phone call in March 2016 saying her father would soon be on a plane, headed to her home in California.

Early the next morning, she was awakened by another call. Her father had died.

Mr. Zeich's ashes now sit in a container in her closet alongside the splitting cardboard box of the possessions he had in prison: an insulin pump, glasses, stacks of medical records, and an album filled with photos of Ms. Heraldez and her three children.

"We brought him home," Ms. Heraldez said, "but not the way we wanted to."

'I Begged Them'

When Anthony Bell applied for compassionate release in October 2014, he had served all but one of a 16-year sentence for selling cocaine.

Prison doctors treating his lupus and liver failure estimated that he had less than six months to live. It took about that long for the bureau to hand down its response: Denied.

After reading Mr. Bell's medical records, officials concluded that he had more than 18 months to live. Two days later, he died.

"I begged them to please get him home," said Mr. Bell's sister, Denise Littleford, of Gaithersburg, Md. "And while the blood was still warm in his body, instead of sending him home in a body bag."

Compassionate release dates back to an overhaul of federal sentencing laws in the 1980s. While abolishing federal parole, Congress supplied a safety valve, giving judges the power to retroactively cut sentences short in "extraordinary and compelling" circumstances. But a court could do so only if the Bureau of Prisons filed a motion on an inmate's behalf.

For years, the agency approved only prisoners who were near death or completely debilitated. While nonmedical releases were permitted, an inspector general report found in 2013, not a single one was approved over a six-year period.

The report said the program should be expanded beyond terminal illness cases and used more frequently as a low-risk way to reduce overcrowding and health care spending. The Bureau of Prisons widenedthe criteria to explicitly include inmates over 65 and those who are the sole possible caregiver for a family member. Then Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. promoted the changes as part of his "Smart on Crime" initiative to "use our limited resources to house those who pose the greatest threat."

But the bureau, which is part of the Justice Department, has yet to fully embrace those changes. Of those inmates who have applied for nonmedical reasons, 2 percent (50 cases) have been approved since 2013, according to an analysis of federal prison data. And although overall approval numbers increased slightly between 2013 and 2015, they have since fallen.

At a 2016 sentencing commission hearing, Bureau of Prisons officials said they believed the program should not be used to reduce overcrowding. And even the principal deputy assistant to Mr. Holder, Jonathan Wroblewski, said the program was not an "appropriate vehicle for a broad reduction" in the prison population. "Every administration has taken the position that part of our responsibility is to ensure that public safety is not undermined," he said.

After the hearing, the commission released new guidelines encouraging prison officials to determine only whether inmates fit the criteria for release — that is, if they are old enough, sick or disabled enough, or if they are the sole possible caregiver for someone on the outside. Whether the prisoner poses a risk to the public should be left to a judge to decide, the commission said.

Mark Inch, who was appointed director of the Bureau of Prisons by Attorney General Jeff Sessions last August, has made no public statements about the program. The bureau declined to make Mr. Inch available for an interview and did not respond to emailed questions.

Dying in Shackles

The inmates who meet the criteria for compassionate release tend to be among the oldest and frailest in the federal prison system, whose population is getting older and more expensive. The Bureau of Prisons spent $1.3 billion on health care in fiscal year 2016. Roughly 12 percent of prisoners are 55 or older, and of those, many will spend their final years behind bars. Some are dying in shackles.

When Andrew Schiff arrived at a medical facility for inmates to say his goodbyes, his dying 87-year-old father was unconscious and on a respirator. Yet he was cuffed to his hospital bed and under 24-hour watch by an armed guard, according to Mr. Schiff. "There's no humanity in there," he said.

His father, Irwin Schiff, had less than two years left on his sentence for tax fraud. He had tried and failed for two years to win compassionate release.

To win approval, an inmate must get the blessing of the prison warden, and must have an acceptable home waiting. Doctors at the facility assess whether the applicant meets the medical criteria, such as being completely disabled or having fewer than 18 months to live.

If the warden signs off, the application gets passed on to the Bureau of Prisons' central office, which has its own medical director review the records. Even after the central office approves, the deputy attorney general may object. If approved, the request is passed on to a judge, who makes the ultimate decision. An analysis of federal prison data shows that it takes over six months on average for an inmate to receive an answer from the bureau. Almost 400 of the applications the bureau received between 2013 and 2017 are still awaiting a decision.

Pushing for Change

Most state prison systems have some version of compassionate release, sometimes known as medical parole. Nationally, prisons are facing an explosion in elderly inmates, but officials can still be wary of the idea of letting them out early. Recently, a Senate committee in South Dakota turned down the prison system's request to establish a similar program, citing concern over releasing violent offenders.

In recent months, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have called on the Bureau of Prisons to speed up the federal process and grant more requests. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, a Republican, pressed the bureau for details on how it was improving the process in a report he submitted with the 2018 appropriations bill. A bipartisan group of senators, led by Mr. Schatz of Hawaii, wrote a letter last August saying they were "deeply concerned" that the bureau was failing to carry out its duties under the program.

The Justice Department's Office of Legislative Affairs issued a responsein January, citing approval rates that were slightly higher than those reflected in the data provided by the Bureau of Prisons to The Marshall Project and The New York Times. The bureau did not explain this discrepancy.

The January letter stated that cases were most commonly denied because inmates did not meet the criteria or lacked a stable place to live if they were released. But in 2016, officials turned down one of the oldest federal prisoners, 94-year-old Carlos Tapia-Ponce, on the grounds that his crime, a role in a large-scale cocaine trafficking operation, was too serious. He died the following month.

Tommy Leftwich died in prison last September. He had been serving 12 years for making meth when he was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer. The bureau said in October 2016 that his early release would "minimize the severity of his offense and pose a risk to the community," noting a history of drug offenses and impaired driving.

Wayne "Akbar" Pray, 69, who has served nearly 30 years of a life sentence for running a New Jersey cocaine operation in the 1980s, first applied for compassionate release under the elderly inmate provision in 2013. His supporters included his warden, the current and former mayors of Newark, the local N.A.A.C.P., and several former members of Newark law enforcement.

In January, the bureau denied his request, pointing to the severity of his crime and his conduct in prison.

According to his disciplinary history, Mr. Pray's last violation was 20 years ago, for "improperly storing property and failure to follow sanitation procedures."



6)  West Virginia Walkouts a Lesson in the Power of a Crowd-Sourced Strike

MARCH 8, 2018




Teachers and students from Monongalia County schools held up signs in support of the teachers' strike in Morgantown, W.Va., on Tuesday. CreditTy Wright for The New York Times

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Heather DeLuca-Nestor, a county teachers' association leader, was driving back to Morgantown, W.Va., from the state capital on Feb. 28 hoping that she and other teachers were about to return to work. The governor had promised 5 percent pay raises to settle a statewide strike, and union leaders had agreed.

But as she made the winding drive, she said, her phone exploded with angry calls: "What are we doing?" ''We can't go back to school." "Our union sold us out!"

That evening, many of the 150 teachers who had gathered in a deserted shopping mall told her in impassioned terms that promises and handshakes in the Capitol were not good enough. No matter what union leaders said, they were staying out until they had what they wanted, and in writing.

Ms. DeLuca-Nestor, the president of the Monongalia County Education Association, walked away in tears to phone the county superintendent. "I had to ask him to turn around and call school off," she said.

It was a crucial turning point, and a telling one. With no collective bargaining rights, no contract, and no legal right to strike, the teachers had managed to mount a statewide work stoppage anyway, and make their demands heard, marshal public support, and stick together until they won. And the rank and file, not union leaders, came to call the shots.

Experts say the West Virginia teachers may foreshadow the future of organized labor, especially in the public sector, at a time when its power has been eroded in much of the country by anti-union legislation and by court challenges like the Janus case, now before the Supreme Court,which threatens the financial viability of collective bargaining.

Public employees in other states have taken notice. Teachers in Oklahoma have been talking about mounting a West Virginia-style statewide walkout in early April if the Legislature does not raise their pay by then. In Kentucky, a pending bill to reduce pensions for retired teachers has prompted protests and talk of strikes.

"Unions have tended throughout most of their histories to be forces that seek stability, not unrest," said Joseph A. McCartin, a labor historian at Georgetown University. "When they are weakened, we're more likely to see the re-emergence of instability and militancy, and the kind of model that we're seeing happen in West Virginia."

That model, driven by grass-roots anger, can flummox politicians. Mitch Carmichael, the Republican president of the West Virginia Senate, opposes collective bargaining for public employees, but he acknowledged that the decentralized aspects of the strike made it difficult to reach a settlement that would satisfy the teachers.

"You're not negotiating with a particular, a unique set of participants," Mr. Carmichael said. "There's just this organic sort of — I don't know what to call it. More like an uprising."

National union leaders said the situation in West Virginia revealed the pitfalls of government policies intended to hobble them.

"If the right wing gets what it wants and tries to eliminate collective bargaining in the public sector, then politics — this kind of political activism at the ballot box, in the State House — will be the only avenue," said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, a national teachers' union.

The West Virginia teachers found ways to organize and act outside the usual parameters of traditional unionism. Teachers and service workers across the state aired their frustrations in an enormous Facebook group, and their walkout ultimately included members of three different unions and many people who did not belong to any union. When they defied union leaders' calls to end the strike on March 1, the strikers redoubled the pressure on lawmakers to deliver on their pay raise.

The lesson, experts said, is that undermining public sector unions, as the Janus case seeks to do, will not guarantee labor peace.

"What it does show is that this Janus decision will force workers to look at other strategies," said Ken Fones-Wolf, a professor of history at West Virginia University. "Without this institutional voice, it does make it harder to sort of organize this kind of thing. But when conditions do get bad enough, workers will take action without an organization."

Indeed, some teachers who went to the meeting at the mall in Morgantown said their lack of collective bargaining rights left them no choice but to continue their strike.

"It we can't negotiate with the people that we're supposed to negotiate with, then we're really just sticking out our necks and saying, this is what we're fighting for," said Lindsay Smalls, a sixth-grade science teacher. "We're just going to stick up for ourselves."

Wildcat strikes led by rank-and-file workers are rare these days, but they recall the big miners' strikes that racked West Virginia's coal country in the early part of the 20th century. That pattern of labor activism changed with the passage of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, sometimes called the Wagner Act, giving most workers a federally protected right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining.

The Wagner Act does not cover public employees, though, and some states, like West Virginia, do not give public employees the right to bargain collectively. For that reason, the state's two teachers' unions, the West Virginia Education Association and the state branch of the American Federation of Teachers, do not function as those in other states might, although they do lobby for teachers and help with grievances. Membership is voluntary and far from universal.

Even so, they were quick to respond as frustration built over rising health insurance costs and other issues earlier this year. It was the unions that started the long walkout by conducting a vote and calling for the statewide work stoppage, which began on Feb. 22.

"It started off with the membership following their state leaders," said Gary Price, the superintendent of schools in Marion County, who, like his colleagues around the state, kept schools closed during the walkout. "But when the state leaders made a decision that the employees didn't like, they took it in a different direction."

At that point, the course of the strike was in the hands of teachers in each of the state's 55 counties making their own separate decisions about what to do, though they monitored the mood elsewhere over social media. In Mr. Price's county, teachers gathered for a heated meeting at a high school, where people stood up and cried out every time they heard that another county's schools would be closed the next day.

"Once they started to all fall, we were going to fall in line with the rest of our state," said Allyson Perry, president of the Marion County Education Association. "That's been the theme of this the whole time."

Earlier in the day, teachers and bus drivers from Boone County had huddled informally at the Capitol to make their decision. "None of our union reps were over there," Robin Muncy, a bus driver, said afterward. "We just did it as a whole, because we felt we were being lied to."

Will Lawrence, 53, a cook at an elementary school in Charleston who is not a member of any union, said, "We had to drag our leaders kicking and screaming — that's why it seems so disorganized."

And in Morgantown, it was Anna Simmons, 26, who called the meeting at the mall, intending to talk over the idea of defying the union leadership and staying out with some of her colleagues at the elementary school where she works as a counselor. She was stunned when so many teachers from other schools showed up.

"I think our reps realized change needed to happen," Ms. Simmons said. "They ended up with a forest fire, and once it was lit, they didn't know how to contain it."

West Virginia's strike is over now, but the problems and the activism that drove it are not. In Oklahoma on Wednesday, the state's largest teachers' union announced it was accelerating its timeline for a statewide walkout, catching up with the fast-moving plans of activist teachers who had already been organizing a work stoppage in protest of low pay — on average, the lowest in the nation.

"We have proven this was long overdue," said Larry Cagle, an English teacher in Tulsa who has been one of the main grass-roots organizers of a walkout. "The union, they don't know how to do this."


































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