The historic teachers strikes in West Virginia and Oklahoma have inspired teachers across the country to seek better conditions in their classrooms and with expanding class sizes, stagnant wages, and meager offers from the district. Oakland teachers are fired up and ready to demand a fair contract too.

Who: Teachers, parents, students, and you!
What: Community and teacher march for a fair contract
When: Tuesday, April 24 4–6 p.m. (meet us at 3:45!)
Where: Lake Merritt Amphitheater, directly across from the courthouse

Join Oakland Education Association, OUSD students and parents, and East Bay DSA this Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater on the south side of Lake Merritt as we demand a contract that's fair for our teachers and our kids. The DSA contingent will meet up around 3:45 p.m. in the part of the park directly across the street from the courthouse. Look for Hannah E. — she'll be wearing a red UC student worker shirt that says "Educate! Agitate! Organize!" with a DSA bag — to meet up!

The Oakland school district spends the highest percentage of its budget of any district in Alameda County on administrators and private consultants. The problem, however, isn't that there isn't enough funding coming in: the district is receiving millions of dollars in new, unrestricted state funding totalling nearly $130 million between 2013 and 2019. But still, OUSD has failed to meet the demands of teachers, students, and their families to reduce class sizes, especially for high-need students and schools, limit non-teaching duties so teachers can focus on teaching, or offer fair pay to make sure the best educators can afford to live in the district where they teach.

The Oakland Unified School District has repeatedly disregarded requests for smaller class sizes and fair compensation and it's time to show them that students, teachers, and families are united behind putting students first.

We know that teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions. This is why, for the sake of both students and teachers, we demand the district reduce class sizes and caseloads, and provide fair wages for educators. See you at the lake!

East Bay DSA



Rally and March to Free Mumia

Saturday, April 28, 2018, 12:00 Noon

Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland, CA

Other Regional and International Actions to Free Mumia

Detroit, Michigan: National Conference to Defeat Austerity, Saturday, March 24. 10:00 A.M.—5:00 P.M.  St. Matthew's—St. Joseph's Church, 8850 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202. For more information: www.moratorium-mi.org

Houston, Texas: Banner Drop for Mumia, Monday, March 26, 5:30 P.M.—6:30 P.M.  Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement will do a banner drop over Houston's busiest freeway for Mumia, on Dunlavy Bridge, over Highway 59.

New York City: Break Down Walls and Prison Plantation: Mumia, Migrants and Movements for Liberation, Friday, March 23. 6:00 P.M. Community Supper 7:30 PM, Holyrood Episcopal Church, 715 179th Street, New York, NY 10033

Jericho Amnesty Movement 20th Anniversary, Saturday, March 24. Holyrood Episcopal Church, 715 W. 179th St, New York, NY, Dinner from 5:00 P.M.—6:00 P.M. Downstairs Program from 6:30 P.M.—9:00 P.M. in Sanctuary.

Sunday, March 25: March and Rally, Gather 12:00 P.M., U.S. Mission (799 UN Plaza: 1st Ave. and 45th St.), March 1:00 P.M., to Times Square for 2:00 P.M. Rally, Buses to Philadelphia: Leaving NYC March 27, 5:30 A.M. from 147 West 24 St. For information email info@freemumia.com or call 212-330-8029.

Vallejo, CA, Saturday, March 24: 1:00 P.M.—4:00 P.M., Vallejo JFK Library, 505 Santa Clara Street, Vallejo, CA 94590, Contact Info: New Jim Crow Movement (Vallejo), 707-652-8367, withjusticepeace@gmail.com

Toronto, Canada, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!, Saturday, March 24, 1:00 P.M., Across the street from the U.S. Consulate
360 University Avenue, march24freemumia@gmail.com 

Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, March 25, Freedom Park RDD, Poetry. Hip Hop. Kwaito. Drama. Local Organizer: Pastor Rev, Contact Info: +27 649 240514











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!



October 20-21, 2018

Cindy Sheehan and the Women's March on the Pentagon

A movement not just a protest

By Whitney Webb

WASHINGTON—In the last few years, arguably the most visible and well-publicized march on the U.S. capital has been the "Women's March," a movement aimed at advocating for legislation and policies promoting women's rights as well as a protest against the misogynistic actions and statements of high-profile U.S. politicians. The second Women's March, which took place this past year, attracted over a million protesters nationwide, with 500,000 estimated to have participated in Los Angeles alone.

However, absent from this women's movement has been a public antiwar voice, as its stated goal of "ending violence" does not include violence produced by the state. The absence of this voice seemed both odd and troubling to legendary peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose iconic protest against the invasion and occupation of Iraq made her a household name for many.

Sheehan was taken aback by how some prominent organizers of this year's Women's March were unwilling to express antiwar positions and argued for excluding the issue of peace entirely from the event and movement as a whole. In an interview with MintPress, Sheehan recounted how a prominent leader of the march had told her, "I appreciate that war is your issue Cindy, but the Women's March will never address the war issue as long as women aren't free."

War is indeed Sheehan's issue and she has been fighting against the U.S.' penchant for war for nearly 13 years. After her son Casey was killed in action while serving in Iraq in 2004, Sheehan drew international media attention for her extended protest in front of the Bush residence in Crawford, Texas, which later served as the launching point for many protests against U.S. military action in Iraq.

Sheehan rejected the notion that women could be "free" without addressing war and empire. She countered the dismissive comment of the march organizer by stating that divorcing peace activism from women's issues "ignored the voices of the women of the world who are being bombed and oppressed by U.S. military occupation."

Indeed, women are directly impacted by war—whether through displacement, the destruction of their homes, kidnapping, or torture. Women also suffer uniquely and differently from men in war as armed conflicts often result in an increase in sexual violence against women.

For example, of the estimated half-a-million civilians killed in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, many of them were women and children. In the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, the number of female casualties has been rising on average over 20 percent every year since 2015. In 2014 alone when Israel attacked Gaza in "Operation Protective Edge," Israeli forces, which receives $10 million in U.S. military aid every day, killed over two thousand Palestinians—half of them were women and children. Many of the casualties were pregnant women, who had been deliberately targeted.

Given the Women's March's apparent rejection of peace activism in its official platform, Sheehan was inspired to organize another Women's March that would address what many women's rights advocates, including Sheehan, believe to be an issue central to promoting women's rights.

Dubbed the "Women's March on the Pentagon," the event is scheduled to take place on October 21—the same date as an iconic antiwar march of the Vietnam era—with a mission aimed at countering the "bipartisan war machine." Though men, women and children are encouraged to attend, the march seeks to highlight women's issues as they relate to the disastrous consequences of war.

The effort of women in confronting the "war machine" will be highlighted at the event, as Sheehan remarked that "women have always tried to confront the war-makers," as the mothers, daughters, sisters and wives of the men and women in the military, as well as those innocent civilians killed in the U.S.' foreign wars. As a result, the push for change needs to come from women, according to Sheehan, because "we [women] are the only ones that can affect [the situation] in a positive way." All that's missing is an organized, antiwar women's movement.

Sheehan noted the march will seek to highlight the direct relationship between peace activism and women's rights, since "no woman is free until all women are free" and such "freedom also includes the freedom from U.S. imperial plunder, murder and aggression"that is part of the daily lives of women living both within and beyond the United States. Raising awareness of how the military-industrial complex negatively affects women everywhere is key, says Sheehan, as "unless there is a sense of international solidarity and a broader base for feminism, then there aren't going to be any solutions to any problems, [certainly not] if we don't stop giving trillions of dollars to the Pentagon."

Sheehan also urged that, even though U.S. military adventurism has long been an issue and the subject of protests, a march to confront the military-industrial complex is more important now than ever: "I'm not alarmist by nature but I feel like the threat of nuclear annihilation is much closer than it has been for a long time," adding that, despite the assertion of some in the current administration and U.S. military, "there is no such thing as 'limited' nuclear war." This makes "the need to get out in massive numbers" and march against this more imperative than ever.

Sheehan also noted that Trump's presidency has helped to make the Pentagon's influence on U.S. politics more obvious by bringing it to the forefront: "Even though militarism had been under wraps [under previous presidents], Trump has made very obvious the fact that he has given control of foreign policy to the 'generals.'"

Indeed, as MintPress has reported on several occasions, the Pentagon—beginning in March of last year—has been given the freedom to "engage the enemy" at will, without the oversight of the executive branch or Congress. As a result, the deaths of innocent civilians abroad as a consequence of U.S. military action has spiked. While opposing Trump is not the focus of the march, Sheehan opined that Trump's war-powers giveaway to the Pentagon, as well as his unpopularity, have helped to spark widespread interest in the event.

Different wings of the same warbird

Sheehan has rejected accusations that the march is partisan, as it is, by nature, focused on confronting the bipartisan nature of the military-industrial complex. She told MintPress that she has recently come under pressure owing to the march's proximity to the 2018 midterm elections—as some have ironically accused the march's bipartisan focus as "trying to harm the chances of the Democrats" in the ensuing electoral contest.

In response, Sheehan stated that: 

"Democrats and Republicans are different wings of the same warbird. We are protesting militarism and imperialism. The march is nonpartisan in nature because both parties are equally complicit. We have to end wars for the planet and for the future. I could really care less who wins in November."

She also noted that even when the Democrats were in power under Obama, nothing was done to change the government's militarism nor to address the host of issues that events like the Women's March have claimed to champion.

"We just got finished with eight years of a Democratic regime," Sheehan told MintPress. "For two of those years, they had complete control of Congress and the presidency and a [filibuster-proof] majority in the Senate and they did nothing" productive except to help "expand the war machine." She also emphasized that this march is in no way a "get out the vote" march for any political party.

Even though planning began less than a month ago, support has been pouring in for the march since it was first announced on Sheehan's website, Cindy Sheehan Soapbox. Encouraged by the amount of interest already received, Sheehan is busy working with activists to organize the events and will be taking her first organizing trip to the east coast in April of this year. 

In addition, those who are unable to travel to Washington are encouraged to participate in any number of solidarity protests that will be planned to take place around the world or to plan and attend rallies in front of U.S. embassies, military installations, and the corporate headquarters of war profiteers.

Early endorsers of the event include journalists Abby Martin, Mnar Muhawesh and Margaret Kimberley; Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly; FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley; and U.S. politicians like former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Activist groups that have pledged their support include CodePink, United National Antiwar Coalition, Answer Coalition, Women's EcoPeace and World Beyond War.

Though October is eight months away, Sheehan has high hopes for the march. More than anything else, though, she hopes that the event will give birth to a "real revolutionary women's movement that recognizes the emancipation and liberation of all peoples—and that means [freeing] all people from war and empire, which is the biggest crime against humanity and against this planet." By building "a movement and not just a protest," the event's impact will not only be long-lasting, but grow into a force that could meaningfully challenge the U.S. military-industrial complex that threatens us all. God knows the world needs it.

For those eager to help the march, you can help spread the word through social media by joining the march's Facebook page or following the march'sTwitter account, as well as by word of mouth. In addition, supporting independent media outlets—such as MintPress, which will be reporting on the march—can help keep you and others informed as October approaches.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer forMintPress News who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, theAnti-Media, and21st Century Wire among others. She currently lives in Southern Chile.

MPN News, February 20, 2018






Support Herman Bell

Last week the New York State Board of Parole granted Herman Bell release. Since the Board's decision, there has been significant backlash from the Police Benevolent Association, other unions, Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo. They are demanding that Herman be held indefinitely, the Parole Commissioners who voted for his release be fired, and that people convicted of killing police be left to die in prison.

We want the Governor, policymakers, and public to know that we strongly support the Parole Board's lawful, just and merciful decision. We also want to show support for the recent changes to the Board, including the appointment of new Commissioners and the direction of the new parole regulations, which base release decisions more on who a person is today and their accomplishments while in prison than on the nature of their crime.

Herman has a community of friends, family and loved ones eagerly awaiting his return. At 70 years old and after 45 years inside, it is time for Herman to come home.

Here are four things you can do RIGHT NOW to support Herman Bell:

1- CALL New York State Governor Cuomo's Office NOW

2-EMAIL New York State Governor Cuomo's Office

3- TWEET at Governor Cuomo: use the following sample tweet:

"@NYGovCuomo: stand by the Parole Board's lawful & just decision to release Herman Bell. At 70 years old and after more than 40 years of incarceration, his release is overdue. #BringHermanHome."

4- Participate in a CBS poll and vote YES on the Parole Board's decision
The poll ends on March 21st. Please do this ASAP!

Script for phone calls and emails:
"Governor Cuomo, my name is __________and I am a resident of . I support the Parole Board's decision to release Herman Bell and urge you and the Board to stand by the decision. I also support the recent appointment of new Parole Board Commissioners, and the direction of the new parole regulations, which base release decisions more on who a person is today than on the nature of their crime committed years ago. Returning Herman to his friends and family will help the heal the many harms caused by crime and decades of incarceration. The Board's decision was just, merciful and lawful, and it will benefit our communities and New York State as a whole."

Thank you for your support and contributions.

With gratitude,
Supporters of Herman Bell and Parole Justice New York



After almost 14 years of tireless work, we are changing our name to About Face: Veterans Against the War! This has been a long time coming, and we want to celebrate this member-led decision to grow our identity and our work with you.

Member vote at Convention in favor of changing the name

Why change our name? It's a different world since our founding in 2004 by 8 veterans returning from the invasion of Iraq. The Bush Administration's decision to start two wars significantly altered the political landscape in the US, and even more so in the Middle East and Central Asia. For all of us, that decision changed our lives. Our membership has grown to reflect the diversity of experiences of service members and vets serving in the so-called "Global War on Terror," whether it be deploying to Afghanistan, special operations in Africa, or drone operations on US soil. We will continue to be a home for post-9/11 veterans, and we've seen more members join us since the name-change process began.

Over the past 15 years, our political understanding has also grown and changed. As a community, we have learned how militarism is not only the root cause of conflicts overseas, but how its technology, tactics, and values have landed directly on communities of color, indigenous people, and poor people here at home.

So why this name? About Face is a drill command all of us were taught in the military. It signifies an abrupt 180 degree turn. A turn away. That drill movement represents the transformation that has led us to where we find ourselves today: working to dismantle the militarism we took part in and building solidarity with people who bear the weight of militarism in its many forms.

We are keeping Veterans Against the War as our tag line because it describes our members, our continued cause, and because we are proud to be a part of the anti-war veteran legacy. Our name has changed and our work has deepened, but our vision -- building a world free of militarism -- is stronger than ever. 

As we make this shift, we deeply appreciate your commitment to us over the years and your ongoing support as we build this new phase together. We know that dismantling militarism is long haul work, and we are dedicated to being a part of it with you for as long as it takes.

Until we celebrate the last veteran,

Matt Howard
About Face: Veterans Against the War
(formerly IVAW)

P.O. Box 3565, New York, NY 10008. All Right Reserved. | Unsubscribe

To ensure delivery of About Face emails please add webmaster@ivaw.org to your address book.



Tell the Feds: End Draft Registration

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


















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



Free Leonard Peltier!

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

By Leonard Peltier

Art 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



Artwork by Kevin Cooper



301 Days in Jail,
as of today.

Reality's trial
is now postponed 

until October 15th.

That's 500 Days in Jail,
Without Bail!


Whistleblower Reality Winner's trial has (again) been postponed.
Her new trial date is October 15, 2018, based on the new official proceedings schedule (fifth version). She will have spent 500 days jailed without bail by then. Today is day #301.
And her trial may likely be pushed back even further into the Spring of 2019.

We urge you to remain informed and engaged with our campaign until she is free! 

One supporter's excellent report

on the details of Winner's imprisonment

~Check out these highlights & then go read the full article here~

"*Guilty Until Proven Innocent*

Winner is also not allowed to change from her orange jumpsuit for her court dates, even though she is "innocent until proven guilty."  Not only that, but during any court proceedings, only her wrists are unshackled, her ankles stay.  And a US Marshal sits in front of her, face to face, during the proceedings.  Winner is not allowed to turn around and look into the courtroom at all . . .

Upon checking the inmate registry, it starts to become clear how hush hush the government wants this case against Winner to be.  Whether pre-whistleblowing, or in her orange jumpsuit, photos of Winner have surfaced on the web.  That's why it was so interesting that there's no photo of her next to her name on the inmate registry . . .

For the past hundred years, the Espionage Act has been debated and amended, and used to charge whistleblowers that are seeking to help the country they love, not harm it.  Sometimes we have to learn when past amendments no longer do anything to justify the treatment of an American truth teller as a political prisoner. The act is outdated and amending it needs to be seriously looked at, or else we need to develop laws that protect our whistleblowers.

The Espionage Act is widely agreed by many experts to be unconstitutionally vague and a violation of the First Amendment of Free Speech.  Even though a Supreme Court had ruled that the Espionage Act does not infringe upon the 1st Amendment back in 1919, it's constitutionality has been back and forth in court ever sense.

Because of being charged under the Espionage Act, Winner's defense's hands are tied.  No one is allowed to mention the classified document, even though the public already knows that the information in it is true, that Russia hacked into our election support companies." 

 Want to take action in support of Reality?

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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,


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











Puerto Rico Still Without Power

















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!












1)  A Rule Is Changed for Young Immigrants, and Green Card Hopes Fade

 APRIL 18, 2018




Romain, 23, from Burkina Faso, says he was abandoned by his uncle after coming to the United States. Immigration authorities have rejected his application for a green card.CreditMark Abramson for The New York Times

As a child, Y. says she was beaten by her father with ropes and cables in Honduras.

J. says he was forced into labor in Burkina Faso.

R., who was born in the Dominican Republic, says she was neglected by her mother and abandoned by her father.

All three applied for something known in immigration law as Special Immigrant Juvenile status, which lets children under the age of 21 who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by one or both parents obtain a green card. But in the last several weeks, all three, living in New York, were denied because of an unannounced policy reversal by the Trump administration.

Under the new interpretation, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services said that applicants in New York who were over 18, but not yet 21, when they began the application process no longer qualify.

For the last 10 years, cases like theirs have routinely been approved. But as the Trump administration focuses on limiting all forms of immigration and tries to stop the flow of unaccompanied minors at the Mexico-United States border, it appears to be targeting the special immigrant status; President Trump often invokes fear that these immigrants could belong to MS-13, the transnational gang, and that they are committing fraud in their applications.

"They are looking for what he calls 'loopholes,' and what we call protections, and trying to close them," said Wendy Young, the executive director of Kids In Need of Defense, a nonprofit organization that represents young immigrants who come to the country unaccompanied. "Under this administration, everybody is presenting a fraudulent claim, rather than, 'Why is this child here and do they need protection?'"

So far, at least 81 applicants from the New York City area have been denied or were told they would soon be denied by the immigration agency, according to The Legal Aid Society of New York. In total, more than 1,000 young people across the state, not all of them from Central America, could be affected.

Although there are other states that follow a process similar to New York's, including California, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington, lawyers believe that New York has seen the most denials.

In the last week, the Legal Aid Society said, the immigration agency has also sent a handful of notices to New York-area clients saying they were going to revoke applications that had previously been approved.

"When do immigrants get to rely on decisions from U.S.C.I.S.?" asked Eve Stotland, the legal director for The Door, an organization that works with disadvantaged youth in New York. "What if the client is naturalized? You spin into a place of arbitrariness and absurdity, and a failure to follow the rule of law."

Jonathan Withington, a spokesman for the agency, said: "U.S.C.I.S. has not issued any new guidance or policy directives regarding the adjudication of S.I.J. petitions. We remain committed to adjudicating each petition individually based on the merits of the case and safeguarding the integrity of our lawful immigration system."

The federal law establishing Special Immigrant Juvenile status was first enacted as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 and then expanded in 2008. To obtain it, applicants must first have a ruling from their state's juvenile court, finding that they have been abused, abandoned or neglected. A judge must also declare the young person dependent on the court, or appoint a caretaker. In the second part of the process, the applicant submits the judge's order to the immigration agency.

The Trump administration seems to be narrowly reinterpreting the law, saying that in cases where applicants are over 18, they no longer qualify, because the state court's authority ends at that age. According to its reasoning in one denial letter provided to The Times, "once a person attains the age of 18, the family courts lack jurisdiction over the person's custody."

Those over 18 can be appointed guardians, however, which the immigration agency now does not consider the same as custody. Lawyers say that's semantics, since in state law, guardianship and custody have equal rights and responsibilities.

"Nothing in the federal statutes has changed; only the interpretation has changed," Beth Krause, the supervising attorney for the Immigrant Youth Project at The Legal Aid Society of New York, said. "And now, U.S.C.I.S. is interpreting this in a way to cut out a very large portion of kids who, until the past couple of weeks, had gotten these grants under the same facts."

"It's a bad faith argument," said Rebecca McBride, a lawyer at Atlas: DIY, a nonprofit organization helping immigrant youth in Brooklyn, who represents several people with special immigrant status.

The immigration agency declined to explain the change, saying in an email response, "A petitioner must submit a court order issued by a juvenile court that contains specific determinations made under relevant state law." It referred to a policy manual rewritten in October 2016. The agency pointed to the dramatic increase in SIJ applications in recent years, with 11,335 approved applications in 2017 compared with 1,590 in 2010, with the greatest increase coming after the surge of Central American minors coming to the U.S. in 2014.

Consider the case of J., a shy young man, now 22, from Burkina Faso. He went to family court in New York in late 2016 when he was 20, and the court granted him an order that enabled him to apply to the immigration agency. He received two requests for more information before being denied because of his age several weeks ago."At the moment of application, if they had this issue about 18 years old, why would they allow me to continue this if that's what they thought?" J. said, in French, with his lawyer at The Door. "Why would they let this whole family court thing happen? Why would they allow this to advance to this point and now decide?"He and other young immigrants interviewed asked to be identified only by their first initial or first name because of fear of repercussions from the government.

J.'s lawyer at The Door is appealing the denial.

Y., another client of The Door, came to the United States in August 2016, and at the end of that year, when she was 20, obtained a special findings order from the New York family court. She said she had also been threatened with rape by a gang in Honduras because she was a lesbian. That would seem, her lawyer said, to make it "in the best interests of the child" not to send her back — another part of the law.

Y. was denied, but her younger brother, A., who had come to the United States in 2015 and also applied when he was over 18, was approved in January 2017.

"The government wants to pick and choose who is and isn't a child, but in fact it's a matter of law," Ms. Stotland said.

Legal organizations say they first started seeing signs that the government was holding up the special immigrant applications in the later years of the Obama administration, but the trend became more pronounced in the spring of 2017, when the agency started asking for more information about applications.

Romain, 23, was 4 years old when his parents were murdered in Congo, in the house where he was sleeping. His uncle took him to Burkina Faso, and 14 years later sent him to the United States to study. Then the uncle cut all ties with him, Romain says, leaving him in New York, alone, broke and homeless.

Romain came on a student visa, but without money to pay for college, it lapsed. He landed in a homeless shelter for boys.

In 2015, when Romain was 20, he applied for special immigrant status with the help of Ms. McBride at Atlas: DIY. A family court in Brooklyn found that he fit the criteria that year, but upon further review, the federal immigration agency caught a discrepancy they believed was fraud. Romain's uncle had filled out his student visa application incorrectly, saying the young man's parents were alive, so the application was initially denied.

That complicated the appeal process, but Ms. McBride and Romain persisted, finding sufficient evidence of his parents' death, which the government eventually believed. But in Spring 2017, Ms. McBride said, the agency said that death was not akin to abandonment. And, finally, this winter, the agency added the over-18 stipulation to its notice of intent to deny Romain's application. She submitted an appeal, and they are waiting.

"I am extremely frustrated, I'm confused," Romain said, "but I am always thinking that if the interpretation of those rules can be changed today, the same interpretation can be changed tomorrow — for the better."



2)  California Lawmakers Kill Housing Bill After Fierce Debate

 APRIL 17, 2018




A bill considered by a California State Senate committee aimed to create increased housing density near rail and ferry stops, overriding local zoning codes. CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

SACRAMENTO — Just before a committee of California state senators voted on a landmark bill to ramp up housing production by overriding local resistance, legislator after legislator talked about a dire affordable-housing crisis that demanded bold action and a marked increase in new building.

Then they killed the bill.

The vote here on Tuesday evening highlighted the emergence of California's housing and homeless problem — and the fraught question of how to address it — as a potent election-year issue that promises to dominate the state's politics for years.

The ferocity of that debate was on display throughout a meeting of the State Senate's Transportation and Housing Committee, which met to vote on a divisive bill that would force local governments to accept higher-density projects around transit centers like train stations.

The bill, called S.B. 827, was introduced by Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, and would have allowed developers to build five-story condominiums and apartment buildings near rail stops, even if local governments and zoning codes prohibited developments of that size.

During the public comment period, supporters told of how housing costs were chasing businesses and the middle class out of the state. They said the bill would help stop the bleeding.

Later, a long line of opponents portrayed the bill as a threat to neighborhoods and low-income residents and at one point began chanting: "827, what do we say? Kill the bill, kill the bill."

Despite the disagreement, there was a broad consensus — among senators on the raised dais, among the constituents and lobbyists in the room — that housing costs remain a central issue.

"This issue isn't going away," Mr. Wiener said.

The public reaction to the bill seemed to underscore that. Ever since Mr. Wiener introduced S.B. 827 on Jan. 3 — the first day of the legislative session — it has dominated the state's conversation about housing. The bill came up in political debates and candidate interviews, and cities across the state had votes on whether or not they supported it.

Mr. Wiener added amendments to reduce the bill's height limits and strengthen protections for lower-income residents who might be displaced by demolition of older, more affordable buildings. But that did little to move the most entrenched opponents, and introducing it in an election year made it tough for lawmakers to support something so polarizing.

Some of the fiercest opposition came from local governments arguing that the bill would strip them of land-use decisions. The bill was also opposed by groups concerned about gentrification in neighborhoods already pummeled by rising rents.

"This bill will exacerbate an already perilous situation for tenants throughout the state," said Damien Goodmon, director of Housing Is a Human Right, a division of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles. "We need to be talking about protective measures" like rent control.

More than anything else, the bill showed the political challenges of building housing in places where people already live — something California will almost certainly will have to do to make progress on this problem. In the 1950s and 1960s, California became the most populous stateby constructing vast freeway and water systems that allowed developers to pave over farmland to build suburbs and house the swelling population. Today the biggest housing pressures are in the urbanized parts of the San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas.

And yet, despite broad agreement that the state will probably need to house more of its population in places where infrastructure has already been developed, there seems to be little consensus on how to go about that. Mr. Wiener's bill split a number of constituencies, largely over just how far to go in prodding localities to build more housing.

Mr. Wiener pitched his bill as a way to combat climate change by fostering neighborhoods that allow more people to commute to work without car — a goal that almost every conservation group supports. But the California chapter of the Sierra Club opposed the bill, while other groups, like the Natural Resources Defense Council, stood in favor of it.

Likewise, while a host of tenants' rights and anti-gentrification groups opposed the bill for fear it would displace lower-income residents, a number of scholars wrote a letter of support, saying it would help undo decades of racial segregation brought on by restrictive zoning.

Even with the committee action, the idea of state intervention in what has historically been a local problem is unlikely to go away. Mr. Wiener vowed to bring back the bill. So this may be remembered as the start of a long negotiation over how to make cities less hostile to new construction.

In an interview earlier this year, Gavin Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor now running for governor, said that California was in "code red" for housing affordability and that he liked the "spirit" of Mr. Wiener's bill, but he would not support it as written. "I told him point blank, 'I would not sign this bill, but I love what you are doing. How can I help?'"



3)  Student Loans and Debt Prison

By Alan Nasser, April 18, 2018


Holders of student loans—most of whom are no longer students—carry a combined debt burden that stands at a record high of $1.5 trillion, more than eight percent of GDP and more than the $1.3 trillion in direct costs of waging war against Iraq.

The desirability of cancelling student debts

The burden weighing like a nightmare, to coin a phrase, on 44 million indebted current and former students will haunt these people for a good portion of their lives. The average student debtor graduates owing close to $34,000 and is projected to spend 21 years paying it off. At present, the average monthly payment for those between 30 and 40 years old is $351.00. It is not uncommon for repayment obligations to be borne by underwriters of these loans, typically the primary borrower's parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Taking these co-signers into consideration, we have about 100 million people adversely affected, directly or indirectly, by the difficulty very many have repaying these loans.

Because it is hard to have loans dismissed or renegotiated on the grounds of undue hardship, cases like the following are numerous: a 2008 graduate entered the job market with $50,000 in student debt. After the September meltdown he was laid off from his $29,000 a year job and had no choice but to default. His mother, a laid-off factory worker, had underwritten his loan, and so $120.00 of her $300.00 unemployment check was garnished in order to service her son's federal loan. Her plea that this arrangement imposed undue hardship fell on deaf ears.

Renegotiating the terms of a subprime mortgage, no mean feat, is easier than having the terms of a student loan readjusted. After her home was foreclosed and she managed to have her mortgage renegotiated due to bankruptcy, Sallie Mae refused to rewrite a woman's student loan. She was allowed, however, to defer payment. Extensions and postponements went on for 14 years, the original loan of $28,000 had increased to more than $90,000 and monthly payments had jumped from $230.00 to $816.00.

Default charges, relentlessly compounding interest rates and collection-agency fees make up a hefty portion of current student-loan debts. A medical student graduated owing about $250,000. Residency and an unexpected serious illness forced her to defer payments after a number of inevitable default charges. When her loan was turned over to a collection agency a $53,870 fee was added. By this time her debt stood at $555,000.

In these times when the typical new job represents an "alternative work arrangement," i.e., part-time, low-pay work[1]and an increasing percentage of employed workers are stuck in this type of job, trying to keep up with loan repayments is taking a punishing toll on debtors. Reutersreports that at least one-in-four is either sacrificing healthcare, vacations, new home buying and other elements of a decent standard of living, or is in default. A good number of student debts are in fact debts that simply cannot be repaid.

Two recent studies throw light on what it would look like, in specific and workable terms, if steps were taken to cancel a student debt burden that for many is literally unbearable, and what it threatens to look like if nothing is done. The Levy Economics Institute has released "The Macroeconomic Effects of Student Debt Cancellation"[2]and the American Civil Liberties Union has produced the truly scary "A Pound of Flesh The Criminalization of Private Debt."[3]

The Levy study is more than mildly wonkish; the co-authors produce data series, tables and lay out balance sheet mechanics for a range of scenarios under which student debt can be actually cancelled within the framework of the existing financial system. In this article I will merely sketch their main claims and state their basic conclusions. I conclude with a description of what looks a lot like the rebirth of debtors' prisons as a response to the superfluity of Americans bearing unbearable debt burdens.

The mechanics of cancelling student debts

Most writing on student debt details the magnitude of the burden and the inhuman consequences visited upon debtors who struggle to make payments or who just can't pay. Until the Levy study we have seen nothing spelling out the mechanics of how to actually go about cancelling student debt,[4]or demonstrating the positive effects on the economy of making it possible for income currently shackled to debt repayment to be spent for other purposes.[5]

Student debt can be cancelled as a political project either by government or by the Federal Reserve. Government can finance the cancellation of student debt in a number of ways including: cancelling whole hog the Department of Education's (DE) loans, whereby all the loans disappear simultaneously; cancelling DE's loans serially, as payments come due; effectively cancelling loans issued by private lenders by assuming payment of these loans; effectively cancelling loans issued by private lenders by simultaneously purchasing and cancelling these loans, or by purchasing these private loans and then cancelling principal as payments come due.

For those whose ideological predilections favor private solutions to social problems, the Federal Reserve can carry out student debt cancellation by: purchasing DE's loans and cancelling them all at once; cancelling the payments for the DE loans; taking over debt service payments to private lenders; purchasing private loans and cancelling payments; simultaneously purchasing and cancelling loans owned by private lenders; purchasing loans issued by private lenders and cancelling principal as payments come due.

Any of these steps would free students, former students and co-signers from making any future payments on current outstanding student loan debt. Most importantly, the U.S. financial system as such, i.e., apart from political limitations of choice imposed by discretionary legislation, consists of no structural features entailing the impossibility or undesirability of legislating any of the above measures. Recall that the multi-trillion dollar bailout of the banks was effected without a dime of taxpayer money, as then-Fed-chairman Ben Bernanke averred on "60 Minutes." The Fed simply plucked what was "needed" out of thin air, the way all government money is created. And the redirection of interest payments to consumption spending would not trigger inflation, because (official false assertions of full employment aside) discouraged workers out of the labor force, and workers who want but cannot find full-time employment—and all these number very many—would use the money to put the 20-25 percent of America's now idle productive capacity to use. An economy with this much slack will not generate unmanageable inflation when idle capacity, human and non-human, is put to work.

With respect to the Fed—a private institution remember, whose seven Board members are bankers—it is perceived need that typically determines the strategies that the Fed is willing to pursue. Needs are class-relative. Bankers needed to be rescued from insolvency, hence the bailout. Working-class homeowners are not among the Fed's governors, nor are their needs the same as bankers'. Virtually nothing was done to benefit those with foreclosed homes. The owners of the Fed have no interest in addressing the needs of desperate debtors. On the contrary, the Fed's constituency loves the unending flow of interest payments. What is required to make the possible actual is a national movement, led perhaps by groups like Strike the Debt, marching, disrupting and striking in the name of debt cancellation.

The benefits of cancelling student debt

Such a movement would educate the population about the current state and social costs of student loan debt. The Levy study, essential for activists, provides the relevant details. It also reminds us that the interest payments on this debt represent not only a significant reduction of debtors' financial resources, but a substantial sum that has been diverted from alternative, productive uses. The interest payments currently extracted from households are unproductive, increase the insecurity of the working class and go straight to the very wealthy. The effect of wholesale debt cancellation would be to redirect funds now bound to debt service to productive, rather than extractive, uses. The immediate effect would be to boost consumption demand, which would in turn spill over into other forms of spending like increasing production and hiring workers. The study finds that, over a ten-year forecast, cancellation could raise GDP $86-108-billion-a-year, reduce the average unemployment rate by 0.22-0.36 percentage points, and add from 1.2 to 1.5 million new jobs per year. And by ending the debt-payment drain on household resources, working people's vulnerability during business cycle downturns would be reduced.

Cancellation of all student-loan debt, then, is both feasible and desirable. Let's get on with it.

The criminalization of private debt

Elites are well aware that what is in store for the majority of the working population is a future of declining living standards, contingent, low-paying work, debt peonage and declining social services—in a word, secular austerity. High levels of imprisonment, burgeoning surveillance, the suppression by Googleand Facebookof access to alternative, independent sources of critical social, political and economic commentary and the militarization of an increasingly brutal police force are repressive measures enacted in ruling-class anticipation of the widespread social dislocation that must attend long-term austerity.

Debtors have been targeted for severe punishment lest they try "to get something for nothing," i.e., fail to service debts they are unable to pay. The ACLU study provides a wealth of information for educators and organizers. The number of debtors in serious trouble is startling. One in three Americans has a debt that has been turned over to a private collection agency. One in five Americans has unpaid medical bills that have gone into collection.

Student-loan debtors have been in the court system's bull's-eye. A Texas man was arrested by seven or eight U.S. Marshals for failure to appear in court. The original $2,500 federal student loan he obtained in 1983 to pay for trucking school had ballooned to $12,000 with interest and fees. The man was not merely unwilling, he was unable to appear in court: he had just undergone open-heart surgery. Had he been able to appear, it would still have been unable to pay. He was retired and subsisting on Social Security and disability. In most cases like this, the court has not cared.

Failure to appear in court for the "judgment debtor exam" is grounds for creditors to have the judge issue a civil warrant for the debtor's arrest. Failure to appear in court is the major grounds for the issuance of a warrant and/or arrest. Among common reasons for failing to appear include work obligations, childcare responsibilities, lack of transportation, physical disability, illness or dementia. These legitimate excuses rarely carry weight with the courts. ACLU found cases in which warrants were issued to terminally ill debtors who died shortly after the warrants were issued. But most often debtors failed to appear because they were not notified of the court date, or, more scandalously, they were not even notified of the existence of the lawsuit. The ineptitude of the courts' procedures stands in sharp contrast to the relentlessness with which the courts, in collusion with debt collectors, hound the indebted. In Maryland a man, 83 and his wife, 78, were jailed because they did not appear at a show cause hearing in a district court. (Ineptitude and inattention abounds: the server described the man as 41-years-old and his wife as his 28-year-old roommate.) The issue was $2,342.76 owed to a homeowners' association, plus $450 in attorney's fees. Not atypically, the couple had never been served notice of the hearing; they were out of the country when the process server claimed to have performed service. Adding insult to injury, the show cause hearing had been scheduled for the couple's failure to appear at a post-judgment proceeding, for which they had also never been served.

In this case, like many others, the couple was arrested and a cash-only bond was set in the amount of $2,900, more than the default judgment against them. Of course if the default payment was unaffordable, so was the bond payment. An increasing percentage of locked-up debtors remain incarcerated simply because they cannot afford bail.

Turning state and local courts into collectors' courts

More than 6,000 debt collection firms collect billions of dollars a year for the creditors who hire them. Millions of collection lawsuits are filed each year in state and local courts. These are the majority of cases on many state court dockets, and in many state courts debt purchasers file more suits than any other type of plaintiff. Frequently the courts require no evidence that the alleged debt is actually owed. In theory, this should work in the defendant's favor, but the vast majority of these defendants are not represented by a lawyer. The sheer numbers of this type of case lead the courts to barrel through collection suits with great speed and virtually no scrutiny. The debtor is doomed from the outset. Over 95 percent of debt collection suits end in favor of the collector.

The implications of this entire setup are more far reaching than the harm described above done to debtors. The damage includes lost wages, lost jobs and psychological distress. And the debtor need not be jailed in order for these damages to take their toll. An arrest warrant by itself can wreak long-lasting havoc on the debtors' lives: warrants are entered into background check databases, which can jeopardize future employment, educational opportunities, housing applications and access to security clearances.

The ACLU study, from which much of the above has been drawn, documents the pervasiveness of this wholesale and mounting assault on the indebted and the poor. This is but one of the strategies employed in the elite attempt to re-make America into a society that has discarded the protections of the New Deal/Great Society heritage. And of the Constitution. Here we have yet another instance of the effort to return America to the settlement of the 1920s. The deliberate attempt to addict households to debt even as debtors are subject to unremitting prosecution-persecution is but one of the abominations of the march of neoliberalism.

Because the serving of warrants and jailing of debtors has begun picking up steam in recent years, and the financial situation of these potential prisoners has been gradually deteriorating, we have reason to expect that student-loan debtors could come to make up a significant portion of the growing ranks of those threatened with debt prison. Arrest warrants have been issued in California, Florida, Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Texas. Arrests have been heaviest in California, Texas and Minnesota. In many cases there was no announcement of court orders or that the debtor was being sued. U.S. marshals in Minnesota conducted "Operation Anaconda Squeeze" to arrest student-loan debtors who had failed to appear in court for a "debtor's examination." Whether they had received prior notice was often thought by the court to be beside the point. As with the cases described earlier, often defendants are ordered to pay much more than the amount of the original loan. A Texas man, who received no prior notice about the debt or the court case brought by a private collection agency on behalf of Uncle Sam, was arrested by seven armed U.S. marshals for an unpaid $1,500 student loan he had borrowed 29 years earlier. He was ordered to pay, after interest and court fees, more than twice the amount of the original loan. $1,258.60 was added to reimburse the marshals for his arrest.

Note that these actions, often conducted by armed marshals, display the ongoing militarization of society that we must expect as creeping austerity becomes the new normal.

Private and public debt in the history of American capitalism

The respective impacts on the economy of private and public debt are thoroughly misconstrued in official propaganda. Political and economic elites make no fuss over the accumulation of massive private debt. It is public debt that unsettles the plutocrats. Mounting public debt and deficits are held to portend State bankruptcy. Private and public debt have produced consistent respective results over the course of U.S. capitalist development, and they are the opposite of what the Party Line puts forward. It is private debt that generates crisis, and federal deficits that ward off depression. Here are the relevant facts.

Of all the developed capitalist countries since the end of the Second World War, America has offered its workers the most niggardly social democratic benefits. The so-called social safety net has been either non-existent or insufficient to provide working-class households with a modicum of material security. Low private-sector wages and a paltry welfare State have made debt—unsustainable debt at that—a necessary supplement to the reward for work. This is clearly illustrated in the only two periods in American history when there appeared to be a thriving middle class, namely the 1920s and the Golden Age of 1949-1973.

During the 1920s, when wages were stagnant, the proportion of total retail sales financed by credit increased from ten percent in 1910 to 15 percent in 1927 to 50 percent in 1929. Because 71 percent of households stood on or below the poverty line during that decade, the ratio of household debt to household income rose steadily through the 1920s. In 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927 and 1928, the ratios stood at, respectively, 13, 18, 22, 25 and 31 percent. That most working-class households were in penury during these years was disguised by the supplementing of poverty-level wages with mounting debt. When debt rises faster than income the debt must be unsustainable. When the limits of household debt were reached around 1926, the especially rapid rise in the production and consumption of durable goods that propelled the decade's growth rates could not be maintained. By 1929 there was a troubling decline in investment and in the demand for types of durable goods most responsible for the post-1921 growth surge. The stage was set for the Great Depression.

A similar scenario characterized the Golden Age. In 1946 the ratio of household debt to disposable income stood at about 24 percent. By 1950 it had risen to 38 percent, by 1955 to 53 percent, by 1960 to 62 percent, and by 1965 to 72 percent. The ratio fluctuated from 1966 to 1978, but the stagnation of real wages which began in 1974 pressured households further to increase their debt burden in order to maintain living standards, just as they had done during the 1920s, pushing the ratio of debt to disposable income to 77 percent by 1979. By the mid-1980s, with neoliberalism in full swing and wages continuing to stagnate, the ratio began a steady ascent, from 80 percent in 1985 to 88 percent in 1990 to 95 percent in 1995 to over 100 percent in 2000 to 138 percent in 2007. When the housing bubble first showed signs of leakage in 2006, the percentage of total household debt consisting of mortgage debt rose from 68 to 76 percent. As debt rose relative to workers' income, households' margin of security against insolvency began to erode. The ratio of personal saving to disposable income under neoliberalism began a steady decline, falling from 11 percent in 1983 to 2.3 percent in 1999. There followed the burst of the housing bubble and a dramatic decline in working-class living standards in the Great Recession.

While in America household debt accumulation has been necessary to provide the appearance of prosperity, it has never been sufficient. So deep-seated is American capitalism's tendency to stagnation that federal deficits have been necessary to avert economic crisis. For almost all of its history the U.S. has run deficits; they have been and remain the norm. There have been only seven historical U.S. attempts to balance the budget and reduce the national debt. Each has resulted in depression or Great Recession. The first six attempts (1817-21, 1823-36, 1852-57, 1867-73, 1880-93 and 1920-30) were quickly followed by depressions. The seventh, Clinton's 1998-99 surplus, was followed by a crash eight years later. The delay was effected by a historic boost to demand provided by the unprecedented household credit explosion of the late 1990s up to the crash of September 2008.

An exhaustive study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed 138 years of economic history in 14 advanced capitalist economies. It concludes that a major cause of severe economic downturns is high levels of private debt.[6]Michael Hudson has made a powerful case for the re-emergence of debt peonage as the chronic condition of the working class absent profound structural political-economic change. In my forthcoming (June) book Overripe Economy American Capitalism and the Crisis of Democracy, I discuss the features of the historical evolution of U.S. capitalism that have led to the current settlement, the major transformations now under way, and what a genuinely democratic political economy must look like.

CounterPunch, April 18, 2018


[1]Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger (2016). "The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 1995—2015," Princeton University and NBER. March 29.

[2]Scott Fullwiler, Stephanie Kelton, Catherine Ruetschlin and Marshall Steinbaum, "The Macroeconomic Effects of Student Debt Cancellation," February 2018, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

[3]"A Pound of Flesh The Criminalization of Private Debt"  2018  American Civil Liberties Union

[4]) "The Macroeconomic Effects…," pp. 18-35

[5]"The Macroeconomic Effects…," pp. 46-49

[6]Alan Taylor, "The Great Leveraging," Working Paper 18290 National Bureau of Economic Research



4)  Who Is Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuba's New President?

By Azam Ahmed and Frances Robles, April 19, 2018


Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez in line with his wife, Lis Cuesta, and local residents before voting in national and provincial elections in Santa Clara, Cuba, last month.CreditPool photo by Alejandro Ernesto

HAVANA — As soon as Cuba and the Obama administration decided to restore diplomatic relations, decades of bitter stagnation began to give way. Embassies were being reopened. Americans streamed to the island. The curtain was suddenly pulled back from Cuba, a nation frozen out by the Cold War.

But one mystery remained: While nearly everyone knew of Cuba's president, Raúl Castro, his handpicked successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, was virtually unknown.

So when members of the United States Congress visited Cuba in early 2015, they peppered Mr. Díaz-Canel with questions: What did he think of the revolution that defined the island's politics and its place on the world stage?

"I was born in 1960, after the revolution," he told the group, according to lawmakers in the meeting. "I'm not the best person to answer your questions on the subject."

Mr. Díaz-Canel, who became Cuba's new president on Thursday, has spent his entire life in the service of a revolution he did not fight.

Born one year after Fidel Castro's forces took control of the island, Mr. Díaz-Canel is the first person outside the Castro dynasty to lead Cuba in decades.

He took the helm of government on Thursday morning to a standing ovation from the National Assembly, which elected him in a nearly unanimous vote. Mr. Castro embraced him, lifting the younger man's arm in triumph.

Mr. Díaz-Canel's slow and steady climb up the ranks of the bureaucracy has come through unflagging loyalty to the socialist cause — he "is not an upstart nor improvised," Mr. Castro has said — but he largely stayed behind the scenes until recent years.

Now, as leader, Mr. Díaz-Canel is suddenly taking on a difficult balancing act. Most expect him to be a president of continuity, especially because he arrives in the shadow of Raúl Castro, who will remain the head of the armed forces and the Communist Party, arguably Cuba's most powerful institutions.

But Mr. Díaz-Canel also has to figure out how to resuscitate the economy at time when President Trump is stepping back from engaging with Cuba. On top of that, Mr. Díaz-Canel must find a way to manage the frustrations of a Cuban population impatient with the pace of change on the island — without the heft of his predecessor's revolutionary credentials.

Such credentials have been the bedrock of political power in Cuba ever since Fidel Castro seized control of the nation in 1959. In the ensuing years, the Castros ruled over Cuba with ironclad control, bolstered by a cadre of loyalists, nearly all of whom had fought alongside them in the revolution.

In the end, the most effective opposition to the Castro brothers was time.

Fidel Castro handed power to Raúl in 2006, then died 10 years later at the age of 90. Raúl then ushered in some of the most substantial reforms in decades, and is now orchestrating yet another one — the passing of the torch to a new generation.

After opening up the economy to private investment and entrepreneurialism, expanding travel in and out of the country and re-establishing ties with the great enemy, the United States, Raúl Castro has selected Mr. Díaz-Canel to fill his shoes.

Despite recent efforts to raise his profile, Mr. Díaz-Canel remains a somewhat unknown figure both domestically and abroad. In 2012, he led the Cuban delegation to the London Olympics and accompanied Raúl Castro to an international conference in Brazil.

Still, "he is someone who has very little exposure to U.S. political or cultural figures," said Daniel P. Erikson, a former State Department official. "He is simply not a known figure in the U.S., and frankly he isn't that well-known in the rest of Latin America, either."

Ever since Mr. Díaz-Canel was named first vice president in 2013, Cubans and Cuba watchers alike have scrambled to find out more about the enigmatic heir apparent, combing through his track record as party leader in the provinces of Villa Clara and Holguín, and later as minister of higher education, for clues on how he will lead.

In each position, according to those who knew him at the time, Mr. Díaz-Canel has been a quiet but effective leader, seemingly open to change. Many called him a good listener, while others described him as approachable, free of the rigidness and inaccessibility of typical party chiefs.

Through it all, he has also been a relentless defender of the revolution and the principles and politics it brought.

Stories of his Everyman qualities have spread widely in recent years: how he rode his bike to work instead of taking a government vehicle during gas shortages; how he defended the rights of a gay club in Santa Clara in the face of protests; how he patiently listened to academics grouse (sometimes about him) as minister of higher education.

More recently, he was a leading voice in the push for internet access in Cuba, arguing that the nation could not seal itself off from the outside world. Though his beliefs remain very much within the party line, those who know him say he does not adhere to the belief that Cuba can exempt itself from the modernization necessary to participate in the global economy.

But in Cuba, the continuum of political thinking is not black and white. Often, conventional definitions of progressives versus hard-liners do not apply. Leaders can be both, and Mr. Díaz-Canel is an example of that. While he is seen as open to the ideas of others, as a younger man he led a campaign to stifle students who read and discussed literature that was not approved by the Communist Party, according to those who knew him at the time.

Last year, a video was leaked of Mr. Díaz-Canel addressing a group of party officials. In it, he lambastes the United States, claiming that Cuba had no responsibility to meet its demands under the reconciliation brokered by President Barack Obama.

He then went on a diatribe against a website whose work he considered subversive. He told fellow officials that the government would shut it down — no matter whether people considered it censorship.

The video was seen as a way for Mr. Díaz-Canel to shore up his credentials with hard-line factions within the government, and yet a review of his career shows that he has not shied away from confronting activities deemed out of bounds by the government, either.

Mr. Díaz-Canel grew up in the central province of Villa Clara, about three hours from Havana, the son of a schoolteacher and a factory worker. He studied electrical engineering at the Central University of Las Villas, where he was active in political life.

While unknown abroad, from an early age he was viewed as a rising star within Cuba's Communist Party.

As a young man, he joined the Union of Young Communists, the party's youth league, where he stood out among his peers. He later worked as a bodyguard to Raúl Castro. According to a friend who knew him at the time, the assignment allowed him to show loyalty to the cause, and drew Mr. Díaz-Canel close to both Raúl and Fidel Castro.

He served three years in the army, another node of power in the country, after which he resumed his slow climb up the party ladder.

In his 20s, he was named the party's liaison to Nicaragua, the only other Communist government in the region at the time, a posting viewed as important to the Cuban government.

Rodolfo Stusser, 72, recalled meeting Mr. Díaz-Canel in the late 1980s, while working as a doctor during Nicaragua's civil war. Dr. Stusser felt the other doctors around him were lazy, not serious about their work. And just as he began liking his life in Nicaragua, he was being deployed elsewhere. He took his complaint to the Cuban Embassy, where he ran into a young Mr. Díaz-Canel, who offered him a ride.

Dr. Stusser unloaded, listing the various injustices he felt were being visited on him. It was almost therapeutic, he recalled. Mr. Díaz-Canel, an up-and-coming member in the party at the time, sat quietly and listened for the duration of the 40-minute drive, he recalled.

"He just heard me," Dr. Stusser said. "He did not say anything at all. It helped me."

Not long after, Dr. Stusser found his fortunes reversed in Nicaragua. He was allowed to stay. And an official who was giving him the runaround made time to see him.

Dr. Stusser, who defected in 2010 and now lives in South Florida, always suspected that the soft-spoken Communist Party official who listened but did not speak had quietly worked his connections in Havana and Managua to sort out his issues.

Juan Juan Almeida, 52, recalls hearing Mr. Díaz-Canel's name come up years later in conversations with his father, who was a prominent member of the Cuban Communist Party at the time. He remembers his father coming home one night in 1993 after a meeting in which officials discussed future leaders of the country.

José Ramón Machado Ventura, a member of the Cuban old guard, proposed a slate of young leaders and Mr. Díaz-Canel's name was among them.

"Raúl responded: He's trustworthy, but too young," Mr. Almeida remembers his father telling him after the meeting. "This was the first time I had ever heard the name Miguel Díaz-Canel."

From then on, he said, Mr. Díaz-Canel's name came up often. He moved from one prominent job to another — including provincial posts where he developed a reputation as an effective and loyal functionary.

As first secretary in Villa Clara Province, Mr. Díaz-Canel came to office during the so-called special period, when the generous aid flowing to Cuba from the Soviet Union was abruptly cut off after its collapse.

Back then, Mr. Díaz-Canel took his bicycle to work rather than ride in the air-conditioned car he was entitled to as a prominent leader. It was the sort of move people still talk about in Villa Clara and its capital, Santa Clara.

Mr. Almeida, who also defected to the United States, said he and Mr. Díaz-Canel had many mutual friends, in particular musicians and artists whom Mr. Díaz-Canel had taken the time to support in their careers. The new president also has a son who is a musician in Argentina, Mr. Almeida added.

"He mixes with the intellectual class, goes to concerts and is close to young people," Mr. Almeida said. "All of the people I know who we have in common speak very well of him. They don't speak of him in dictatorial fashion."

Academics and others in Havana declined to be interviewed about Mr. Díaz-Canel, because the government did not give them permission.

In Santa Clara, Mr. Díaz-Canel is remembered for his Bermuda shorts at a time when party officials wore more formal attire, and for wearing his hair long.

His beliefs also skewed liberal, residents say. He lent his support to one of the country's only gay clubs, El Mejunje. When it opened decades ago, the club was a point of contention. But Mr. Díaz-Canel, who took his children to the club when it hosted children's activities, consistently backed the club in the face of controversy.

"He supported us anytime there was a complaint made against us," said Ramón Silverio Gómez, the club's director. "He was an ally. And one day when I saw him he said, 'You can keep counting on my support and my understanding.'"

Yet some saw Mr. Díaz-Canel's persona as crafted and less genuine than is often supposed. Sure, he rode his bike to and from work. But he was always trailed by his personal security in vehicles, others said.

"It was a bit of demagoguery," said Guillermo Fariñas, a well-known dissident and Cuban psychologist who grew up with Mr. Díaz-Canel in Villa Clara. "In terms of the gasoline, he was on a bicycle, but there were cars with security going behind him. It was a bit a manipulation of the people."

Mr. Fariñas recalled how one night, while he was hospitalized, the power went out. This was during the time of greatest shortages in Cuba, in the 1990s.

At about 3 o'clock in the morning, Mr. Díaz-Canel, who was first secretary in the province, went to the hospital and began going from room to room, checking on patients and apologizing for the blackout.

Even back then, Mr. Fariñas was a known dissident. He was in the hospital recovering from a hunger strike.

"When they were outside my room, I could hear the state security agents telling him, 'No, don't go to that room. That's a counterrevolutionary's room,'" he recalled. "Díaz-Canel was like, 'What do you mean, don't go to that room? Of course I'll go to that room!'"

Mr. Díaz-Canel entered, shook Mr. Fariñas' hand and said, "Let's not talk about politics."

The men chatted briefly before Mr. Díaz-Canel rushed off to see the next patient.

"My impression was that he was doing politics," Mr. Fariñas said.

Mr. Fariñas also recalled how, after graduation, Mr. Díaz-Canel became a teacher and party functionary at his university, joining a nationwide campaign to fight "negative tendencies" in Cuba.

"They tried to convince people that if you were not a real communist, you had to be sanctioned," Mr. Fariñas said of Mr. Díaz-Canel. "He was the head of that at the university."

It was part of the duality of Mr. Díaz-Canel, he added. Mr. Díaz-Canel could be accessible, friendly and modern — mingling with locals, playing basketball with the youth and listening to rock music. But he could also be a staunch advocate of communism and the revolution, willing to silence critics.

"He was very active, very militant and very unconditional in his loyalty to the regime," Mr. Fariñas said.

Azam Ahmed reported from Havana, and Frances Robles from Miami. Ed Augustin contributed reporting from Havana.



5) Damage to Great Barrier Reef From Global Warming Is Irreversible, Scientists Say

By Jacqueline Williams, April 19, 2018




A diver surveying damaged coral in the Great Barrier Reef after a mass bleaching in 2016.CreditXL Catlin Seaview Survey, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

SYDNEY, Australia — An underwater heat wave that damaged huge sections of Australia's Great Barrier Reef two years ago spurred a die-off of coral so severe that scientists say the natural wonder will never look the same again.

Scientists said nearly one-third of the reef's coral were killed when ocean temperatures spiked in 2016, a result of global warming, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The damage to the reef, one of the world's largest living structures, has also radically altered the mix of its coral species, scientists said.

"The reef is changing faster than anyone thought it would," said Terry P. Hughes, the lead author of the study and the director of a government-funded center for coral reef studies at James Cook University in Queensland.

"One thing we can be sure about is the reef isn't going to look the same again," Professor Hughes said.

The reef is home to thousands of species, including sharks, turtles and whales. Australia relies on it for about 70,000 jobs and billions of dollars annually in tourism revenue, all now threatened by years of accumulated damage.

The study's authors estimated how much coral had died in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 heat wave, and then returned nine months later to discern how many corals had regained their color — a sign of restored health — and how many had died. Their report describes a catastrophic die-off on the northern part of the reef, impacting the mix of coral species.

Professor Hughes said scientists had predicted a mass die-off resulting from global warming, but "what the paper shows is that it's well underway." He added, "That transition is happening here and now."

Corals require warm water to thrive, but they are extremely sensitive to heat, and an increase of two or three degrees Fahrenheit above normal can kill them.

Scientists said that if nations honored global commitments in the Paris climate accord aimed at preventing temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, Australia would still have the Great Barrier Reef in 50 years. It would still look very different from today.

But if greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trajectory, the reef will be unrecognizable, they said.

"We're in unchartered territory," Professor Hughes said, adding, "Where we end up depends completely on how well or how badly we deal with climate change."

The Great Barrier Reef has bleached four times since 1998, according to scientists. Record high temperatures in 2016 were followed by another bleaching event last year.

"We're now at a point where we've lost close to half of the corals in shallow-water habitats across the northern two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef due to back-to-back bleaching over two consecutive years," said Sean Connolly, also with the center for coral reef studies at James Cook University.



6)  Trump Administration Seeks to Expand Sales of Armed Drones

By Gardiner Harris, April 19, 2018


Drones like the Reaper have been the workhorse and controversial symbol of the fight against insurgents in Afghanistan and the tribal regions of Pakistan.

CreditLt. Col. Leslie Pratt/U.S. Air Force, via Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A day after President Trump promised to slash the red tape involved in weapons sales, the administration announced on Thursday a new policy that could vastly expand sales of armed drones, a contentious emblem of the shift toward remotely controlled warfare.

That change, in addition to a newly released update to the policy governing which nations are allowed to buy sophisticated American-made weapons, is intended to accelerate arms sales, a key priority of Mr. Trump.

The president seemed to foreshadow the new policies on Wednesday night, when he said at a news conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan that after allies order weapons from the United States, "we will get it taken care of, and they will get their equipment rapidly."

"It would be, in some cases, years before orders would take place because of bureaucracy with Department of Defense, State Department," Mr. Trump said. "We are short-circuiting that. It's now going to be a matter of days. If they're our allies, we are going to help them get this very important, great military equipment."

The new policies, though, will do little to change the often yearslong intervals between orders and deliveries of weapons, but the State Department announced that it intended over the next 90 days to re-evaluate the process that can sometimes lead to such gaps.

Delays in delivering weapons systems have long been an irritant to foreign governments and domestic manufacturers, and almost every administration in the modern era has tried to fix the process. Top aides in the Trump White House have frequently called officials at the State Department and the Pentagon to try to hurry things along.

But the deals can pose an array of challenges, involving not only national security issues, such as the transfer of sensitive technologies, but also economic ones. India, the world's largest weapons buyer, often requires defense firms to build weapons in India in partnership with Indian firms, the kind of requirements that the Trump administration finds objectionable in China with regard to cars and other products.

The biggest change announced on Thursday involves the sale of larger armed drones like the Predator and the Reaper, which have been the workhorses of the fight against insurgents in Afghanistan and the tribal regions of Pakistan. President Barack Obama embraced the weapons but was also so troubled by such remote warfare tools that he placed unusual restrictions on their sale.

Those restrictions have allowed drone makers in Israel, China and Turkey to capture a large part of a market that American manufacturers had pioneered, something the Trump administration wants to reverse.

Under the old policy, only Britain, France and Italy were approved to purchase armed drones, according to Dan Gettinger, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College.

As more countries are approved, "the risk is that countries may be more willing to use military force when they can do so without risking their own people," Mr. Gettinger said.

Sales of smaller, unarmed drones have fewer restrictions, and American manufacturers dominate the market for those, Mr. Gettinger said.

The newly announced changes in the policy governing which countries can purchase sophisticated American-made weapons, known as the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, instruct the government to take domestic economic concerns into greater account than it has in the past.

The new policy also says that consideration should be given to minimizing civilian casualties. That could potentially justify sales of "smart" bombs, which are easier to direct to specific targets.

But experts said that the changes are not likely to have much effect on sales.

"I think it's political posturing," said Rachel Stohl, managing director of the Stimson Center, a think tank focusing on foreign policy. "We already sell to almost everybody in the world. Are we really going to open markets to places like Iran and North Korea now? I don't think so."

The Obama administration was also enthusiastic about foreign weapons sales, which soared during its tenure. Direct weapons sales declined in the first year of the Trump administration from the year before and are now roughly half the level seen in 2011, the first full year of the Arab Spring.

The policy changes were announced two days after a hearing on Capitol Hill during which senators from both parties expressed anguish at the vast humanitarian crisis in Yemen, caused in part by Saudi Arabia's use of American weapons.

A bipartisan group of senators has proposed legislation that would require the State Department to routinely certify that Saudi Arabia is taking steps to end the suffering there, the sort of review that slows weapons purchases. The Trump administration opposes the legislation.



7)  Puerto Rico is Once Again Hit by an Islandwide Blackout

By James Wagner and Frances Robles, April 18, 2018




8) 'Yes, I'm Running as a Socialist.' Why Candidates Are Embracing the Label in 2018

By Farah Stockman, April 20, 2018


Franklin Bynum, who won the Democratic nomination to become a criminal court judge in Houston, at his election night party.CreditTodd Spoth for The New York Times

HOUSTON — There was no question on primary night in Texas last month that Franklin Bynum would win the Democratic nomination to become a criminal court judge in Houston. The 34-year-old defense attorney had no challengers.

But for his supporters who packed into a Mexican restaurant that evening, there was still something impressive to celebrate. Many in the crowd were members of the Democratic Socialists of America, or D.S.A., a group that has experienced an enormous surge of interest since the election of President Trump, even in conservative states. And Mr. Bynum was one of their own — a socialist who, along with at least 16 others, appeared on the ballot in primary races across the state of Texas.

"Yes, I'm running as a socialist," Mr. Bynum said. "I'm a far-left candidate. What I'm trying to do is be a Democrat who actually stands for something, and tells people, 'Here's how we are going to materially improve conditions in your life.'"

Rather than shy away from being called a socialist, a word conservatives have long wielded as a slur, candidates like Mr. Bynum are embracing the label. He is among dozens of D.S.A. members running in this fall's midterms for offices across the country at nearly every level. In Hawaii, Kaniela Ing, a state representative, is running for Congress. Gayle McLaughlin, a former mayor of Richmond, Calif., is running to be the state's lieutenant governor. In Tennessee, Dennis Prater, an adjunct professor at East Tennessee State University, is running to be a county commissioner.

Supporters, many of them millennials, say they are drawn by D.S.A.'s promise to combat income inequality, which they believe is tainting every facet of American life, from the criminal justice system to medical care to politics. They argue that capitalism has let them down, saddling them with student debt, high rent and uncertain job prospects. And they have been frustrated by the Democratic Party, which they say has lost touch with working people.

Outrage over rising inequality has simmered for years, erupting into the Occupy Wall Street movement and the groundswell of support for Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist. But it was the election of Mr. Trump that convinced tens of thousands that both parties were broken and that the country was in need of a radical fix.

Since November 2016, D.S.A.'s membership has increased from about 5,000 to 35,000 nationwide. The number of local groups has grown from 40 to 181, including 10 in Texas. Houston's once-dormant chapter now has nearly 300 members.

"We want to see money stop controlling everything. That includes politics," said Amy Zachmeyer, 34, a union organizer who helped revive the moribund Houston chapter. "That just resonates with millennials who are making less money than their parents did, are less able to buy a home and drowning in student debt."

Ms. Zachmeyer, who pays about $1,000 a month in student loans, says that financial burden helped convince her to become a socialist.

Studies suggest that young people with few memories of the Cold War embrace socialism far more than older people do. A 2016 survey of 18- to 29-year-olds by Harvard's Institute of Politics found that 16 percent identified as socialists, while 33 percent supported socialism. Only 42 percent supported capitalism, while a majority — 51 percent — said they did not.

Those results surprised John Della Volpe, the institute's director of polling, so much that he thought they might be a mistake. He conducted a new study, this time of the general population, and got the same result.

"The only group that expressed net positive support for capitalism were people over 50 years old," he said. "The largest generation of Americans in history — millennials — have lost confidence. They are interested in finding a better way."

Many socialist candidates sound less like revolutionaries and more like traditional Democrats who seek a return to policies in the mold of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. They want single-payer health care, a higher minimum wage, and greater protections for unions. But others advocate more extreme changes, such as abolishing the prison system. In the case of Mr. Bynum, he wants an end to a cash bail system that requires people accused of crimes, even minor offenses, to pay money to be released from jail before trial.

Some local Democratic Party leaders worry that talking openly about being a socialist is only going to make it harder to defeat Republican opponents. And it is unclear how many older voters, who are more likely to vote in midterm cycles, could be turned off by the idea of voting for a socialist.

D.S.A., despite its criticism of the Democratic Party, does not identify itself as a third party. Instead, many members work within the party's progressive wing to support their goals.

"Diversity helps the party," said Christine Pelosi, a California member of the Democratic National Committee who has focused on making the party more connected to grass-roots activists. "I welcome their constructive criticism."

Many Democrats have begun to ask socialists for their support and adopt some of the D.S.A.'s platform on health care and pay.

In Pittsburgh, eight Democrats in this year's midterm cycle sought the endorsement of the local D.S.A. chapter.

"People are more willing to come out and say 'I'm a Democratic socialist running,'" said Jorge Roman-Romero, 24, who helps lead a new D.S.A. chapter in Tulsa, Okla., where six Democratic candidates — four of whom were willing to run as Democratic socialists — sought the group's endorsement. "It's not a liability to say that anymore."

But others, especially among the influx of new members, want to keep their distance from the Democratic Party, which they see as hopelessly compromised by corporate donations.

"The new, younger people are much more willing to say 'We're not going to tie ourselves to the Democratic Party,'" said Frances Reade, 37, an education researcher who joined the East Bay D.S.A. chapter in California on Mr. Trump's Inauguration Day. "At the same time, we're nowhere near being able to launch a third party."

Ms. Reade, who made campaign calls for Hillary Clinton in 2016, said she joined D.S.A. after experiencing a "profound disillusionment with the Democratic Party" in the wake of Mr. Trump's victory. The organization gave her an outlet to pour her energy into: door-knocking in a "Medicare for All" campaign, and discussing political texts in free evening classes put on by members of the group. The classes, known as socialist school, included readings by Karl Marx and articles in Jacobin, a popular new socialist magazine. Ms. Reade has become a class instructor and vice chairwoman at the East Bay chapter, which has about 1,000 members.

"If, after the election, I had tried to join the Democratic Party, what would I have done?" she asked. "There's no night school to learn more about ideas. The Democratic Party is essentially a fund-raising apparatus."

Acceptance of socialism today still falls far short of its heyday in the 1910s and 1920s, when the Socialist Party of America had over 113,000 members and more than 1,000 elected officials, including two members of Congress, according to Jack Ross, author of "The Socialist Party of America: A Complete History."

By the 1950s, socialism was widely seen as antithetical to the American way of life. In 1982, Michael Harrington, author of "The Other America," a seminal book about poverty, helped found the Democratic Socialists of America, which aimed to realign the Democratic Party toward increased protections for unions and the poor. But the group never gained much traction, until now.

Across the country, socialists are focusing on hyperlocal issues. In Cincinnati, activists helped save the wing of a public library from privatization. In Austin, they pushed to pass what has been called the first mandatory paid sick leave requirement in the South.

"There's a lot of power in getting people to come together and do things together," said Bryan LaVergne, 22, a biomedical researcher in Houston who became a socialist after a drug therapy he had been working on was purchased by a private company that increased the price.

"Houston is incredibly atomizing," Mr. LaVergne said. "We sit in our cars, drive to our suburbs, don't know our neighbors. We're countering that."

Mr. Bynum, the candidate for judge in Houston, approaches politics in that same spirit. He collected nearly all of the signatures required for his campaign outside the county jail, from family members of defendants who could not afford to post bail. He has forsworn donations from lawyers practicing before the court that he is running for, and intends to staff a table outside the jail during the campaign, with the help of D.S.A. volunteers.

He wants his campaign to highlight injustices in Harris County, where historically roughly 40 percent of defendants in misdemeanor court were kept in jail because they could not pay bail.

Mr. Bynum, an immigration expert in the county's public defender's office, is not the first to raise issues of how unfair Harris County's bail system is to the poor. Other Democrats have fought for the same cause. The system of cash bail is now in dispute in a federal court.

But the Harris County Democratic Party is struggling to figure out what to make of Mr. Bynum, who they say stands a good chance of being elected, along with other Democrats on the local ballot in November. Mr. Bynum's Republican opponent, Dan Simons, a former prosecutor backed by religious conservatives, is already fund-raising under the slogan "Reject socialism."

"We cannot afford to have Democrats, let alone Democratic Socialists, take over our county and state," he wrote on Facebook.

Gerald Birnberg, a former chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party, has discouraged Mr. Bynum from talking about socialism or bail reform on the campaign trail. Socialism is too taboo in Texas, he said. And although bail reform is important, he said, "it's not an issue that inspires voters in Harris County."

The way to win in November, Mr. Birnberg advised, was simply to turn out Democrats. To do that, the county Democratic Party needed money to pay for mailings and voters lists. In a meeting, Mr. Birnberg, a 71-year-old lawyer, asked Mr. Bynum to contribute $20,000 to the effort.

Mr. Bynum made no promises.

"If I have the money, I will give them money because I can't organize a get-out-the-vote campaign by myself," Mr. Bynum said. "But I am focused more on building a movement than I am on helping Democrats get elected. My priority is reaching people who aren't being spoken to at all."



9)   Bodies Remodeled for a Life at Sea

By Carl Zimmer, April 19, 2018


A Bajau diver spearfishes in Sulawesi. A study suggests these sea-dwelling people have evolved adaptations to deep diving.CreditMelissa Ilardo

We are the products of evolution, and not just evolution that occurred billions of years ago. As scientists peer deeper into our genes, they are discovering instances of human evolution in just the past few thousand years.

People in Tibet and Ethiopian highlands have adapted to living at high altitudes, for example. Cattle-herding people in East Africa and northern Europe have gained a mutation that helps them digest milk as adults.

On Thursday in the journal Cell, a team of researchers reported a new kind of adaptation — not to air or to food, but to the ocean. A group of sea-dwelling people in Southeast Asia have evolved into better divers.

The Bajau, as these people are known, number in the hundreds of thousands, scattered in communities in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. They have traditionally lived on houseboats; in recent times, they've also built houses on stilts in coastal waters.

"They are simply a stranger to the land," said Rodney C. Jubilado, a University of Hawaii anthropologist who studies the Bajau but was not involved in the new study.

Dr. Jubilado first encountered the Bajau while growing up on Samal Island in the Philippines. They made a living as divers, spearfishing or harvesting shellfish.

"We were so fascinated that they could stay underwater much longer than us local islanders," Dr. Jubilado said. "I could see them literally walking under the sea."

Even as anthropologists study Bajau culture, biologists have grown curious about them, too. Bajau divers been observed plunging more than 200 feet underwater, their only protection a pair of wooden goggles — a physiological marvel.

In 2015, Melissa Ilardo, then a graduate student in genetics at the University of Copenhagen, heard about the Bajau. She wondered if centuries of diving could have led to the evolution of traits that made the task easier for them.

"It seemed like the perfect opportunity for natural selection to act on a population," said Dr. Ilardo.

Her first step was to travel to Sulawesi, Indonesia, and then to a coral reef island where she reached a Bajau village. After she proposed her study, they agreed to the plan. She returned a few months later, this time with a portable ultrasound machine to measure the size of the Bajau people's spleens.

When people plunge into water, they respond with the so-called diving reflex: the heart rate slows and blood vessels constrict as a way to shunt blood to vital organs. The spleen also contracts, squirting a supply of oxygen-rich red blood cells into the circulation.

All mammals have a diving reflex, but marine mammals like seals have a particularly strong one. Scientists suspect that the reflex helps them dive deeper — as it turns out, seals with bigger spleens can dive deepest. An enlarged spleen seems to function like a bigger scuba tank.

Dr. Ilardo scanned the abdomens of the Bajau villagers and then traveled about 15 miles inland to a village occupied by farmers known as the Saluan. She scanned them, too.

When Dr. Ilardo compared scans from the two villages, she found a stark difference. The Bajau had spleens about 50 percent bigger on average than those of the Saluan.

Yet even such a remarkable difference might not be the result of evolution. Diving itself might somehow enlarge the spleen. There are plenty of examples of experience changing the body, from calloused feet to bulging biceps.

Only some Bajau are full-time divers. Others, such as teachers and shopkeepers, have never dived. But they, too, had large spleens, Dr. Ilardo found. It was likely the Bajau are born that way, thanks to their genes.

On her visit to Sulawesi, Dr. Ilardo also took mouth swabs from the Bajau and Saluan from which she extracted DNA. She looked at the genetic variations in each village and compared them to people from neighboring countries, such as New Guinea and China.

A number of genetic variants have become unusually common in the Bajau, she found. The only plausible way for this to happen is natural selection: the Bajau with those variants had more descendants than those who lacked them.

One variant of a gene called PDE10A influenced the size of spleens in the Bajau. People with one copy of the mutant gene had bigger spleens than those with none. People with two copies had even bigger spleens.

Scientists had never found a special role for PDE10A in the spleen. "This connection was a bit bizarre," Dr. Ilardo said.

But there's one possible link. PDE10A has been shown to control the level of thyroid hormone in the body. And scientists have found that injecting thyroid into mice with stunted spleens can make the organs grow larger.

Still, that wouldn't pin down exactly how PDE10A became so common in the Bajau. "It's the question that's harder than others," said Rasmus Nielsen, a geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley, who collaborated with Dr. Ilardo.

For her own part, Dr. Ilardo suspects that natural selection favored the Bajau variant of PDE10A because deep diving is so risky. "I would think, as morbid as it is, that if they didn't have this, it would kill them," she said.

François-Xavier Ricaut, an anthropologist at the University of Toulouse who was not involved in the study, said that it wasn't clear yet how quickly this evolutionary change happened.

Some researchers suspect the Bajau only began diving to great depths when a market for sea cucumbers opened up in China in the 1600s. Or perhaps the adaptation began thousands of years earlier, at the end of the Ice Age, when rising sea levels turned the region around Indonesia into islands.

"This study acts as a cornerstone for exciting questions to follow," said Dr. Ricaut.

Dr. Ilardo said there were likely a number of other genes that help the Bajau dive. She and her colleagues also found evidence for natural selection on a gene called BDKRB2.

In a study published last year, Russian scientists discovered that it plays a role in the diving reflex. In people with variants of BDKRB2, blood vessels are more tightly constricted when they plunge their faces into cold water.

To see if that's the case with the Bajau, Dr. Ilardo will need to take another trip to beautiful Sulawesi. "I would be happy doing this as long as I can," she said.



10) National School Walkout for Gun Safety: What to Watch

By Michael Gold, April 19, 2018


Students at James Logan High School in Union City, Calif., participated in a die-in as part of a national walkout on March 14, a month after the Parkland, Fla., shooting.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

High school students across the United States are planning to walk out of classes all day on Friday as part of the National School Walkout, a protest against what participants see as political inaction in the face of mass shootings and gun violence.

The event, which grew out of a petition on Change.org, comprises more than 2,000 walkouts nationwide, with at least one planned in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia.

With thousands of students expected to participate, here's what you can expect from Friday's walkout.

When is the walkout?

The National School Walkout is being staged on April 20, a date intended to mark the 19th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. At the time, the Columbine shooting, in which 13 people were killed, was the deadliest school shooting on record.

Participants in the walkout will be leaving their classes at 10 a.m. local time.

What does it entail?

Students are expected to exit their school buildings for the day. Organizers have called on people to wear orange, a color that has become associated with the gun control movement.

After they leave their buildings, participants will gather to observe 13 seconds of silence that are meant to honor the 13 victims in the Columbine shooting.

Following that, further activities are up to the leaders of each school's individual protest. National organizers have called for daylong activism. In a planning guide on the National School Walkout's website, organizers encourage participants to hold marches, participate in voter-registration drives and set up speeches.

Who is organizing it?

The idea for the National School Walkout came from Lane Murdock, a high school sophomore from Ridgefield, Conn., about 20 miles from Newtown, the site of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

In the Change.org petition that Ms. Murdock started, she cited the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February as a catalyst for the event.

"It is time for teenagers to speak their minds and put their frustration into action," she wrote.

Ms. Murdock has been working with a team of other students at her high school to coordinate the national protest. Individual walkouts at schools are being organized and staged by local students.

What are their goals?

The walkout's website says the event has three goals: to "hold elected officials accountable," to advocate "solutions to gun violence" and to encourage students to be more engaged in politics.

More specifically, the event seeks to push Congress to pass legislation to halt gun violence. Among the specific requests are bills to strengthen the background check process for gun purchases; a ban on bump stock attachments, which allow semiautomatic guns to fire like automatic weapons; and raising the minimum age to purchase assault-style weapons to 21.

Organizers are also encouraging participants to pressure state and local governments to enact similar laws. They are also seeking to increase voter registration among younger Americans in the hopes of electing candidateswho support gun control.

Didn't we just have a walkout?

On March 14, one month after 17 people were killed in the Parkland shooting, students across the United States stepped out of their classroomsat 10 a.m. to call for stronger gun control laws.

Students left schools by the hundreds and thousands, sometimes in defiance of school administrators and school boards. In some cities, including New York, participants in the walkout then staged protests or marches.

The walkouts in March were the first major nationally coordinated action of a student-driven movement for gun control that was sparked by the Parkland shooting. Still, many students did not participate, especially in more conservative and rural parts of the country where gun control is not in wide favor.

Ten days later, on March 24, demonstrators gathered in Washington, D.C., for the March for Our Lives rally, as well as at more than 800 protests held around the world to call for action against gun violence.

Why is this one different?

The walkout held last month was much briefer, scheduled to last for 17 minutes, one minute to honor each of the Parkland victims. In practice, some students continued to protest for the rest of the day. This walkout on Friday is intended to last an entire school day.

The National School Walkout also comes as attention to the Parkland shooting has faded somewhat. Despite efforts by the student-driven movement, neither Congress nor the White House has taken significant action on gun control and gun safety measures. Congress did pass a spending bill in March that included measures to provide grants for school safety and to improve reporting to the background check system for gun purchases.

Gun regulation advocates have seen victory in Florida, three weeks after the Parkland shooting, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill with some of the limitsthat students have been urging. But some have argued the legislation did not go far enough.

On their website, organizers for the National School Walkout wrote that they see their event as part of a larger push to advocate gun control and that the issues they are addressing need "constant attention if we hope to change anything."



11) Alabama Executes Mail Bomber, 83, the Oldest Inmate Put to Death in Modern Era

By Alan Blinder, April 19, 2018


Walter Leroy Moody Jr., 83, was executed Thursday night in Alabama. His reign of terror raised fears of racial violence and unsettled the federal judiciary.CreditAlabama Department of Corrections, via Associated Press

ATLANTA — Walter Leroy Moody Jr., who used mail bombs to assassinate a federal appeals court judge and a civil rights lawyer in 1989, was executed Thursday night at the Alabama prison where he spent decades denying his guilt.

With his execution by lethal injection, Mr. Moody, 83, became the oldest prisoner put to death in the modern era of American capital punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a research group.

Mr. Moody's reign of terror — deadly bombings and thwarted attacks in three Southern states, as well as menacing letters to judges and the media — raised fears of racial violence and unsettled the federal judiciary. His complex case drew in people who would become household names of American law enforcement: Louis J. Freeh, a future F.B.I. director; Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election; and Jeff Sessions, now the United States attorney general.

Though Mr. Moody was found guilty on scores of federal charges, his execution was punishment for a 1996 state court conviction for the murder of Judge Robert S. Vance Sr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Judge Vance's son, Robert S. Vance Jr., himself a judge in Alabama, said Thursday that he had not forgiven Mr. Moody because "he has not acknowledged any remorse or any acknowledgment that he was guilty."

"I'm not a psychiatrist, but if you're talking about using labels like psychopath, this seems to be the kind of person that would fit that description because of absolute lack of empathy or concern for others," Judge Vance said.

Mr. Moody was pronounced dead at 8:42 p.m. on Thursday inside a South Alabama prison, ending a generations-long legal drama that began in 1972, when he planned a bombing against an automobile dealer who had repossessed his car.

His unsuccessful efforts to have his conviction overturned in that case stirred a protracted rage against the 11th Circuit, which has jurisdiction in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, Mr. Moody's home state. After the 11th Circuit rejected Mr. Moody's appeal in August 1989, the court noted in a subsequent ruling, he began trying to develop "war gases" and prepared what he termed a "Declaration of War" against the appellate court.

In December 1989, Mr. Moody mailed a parcel with a bomb — steel pipe, smokeless powder and 80 finishing nails — to the suburban Birmingham home of Robert Vance Sr., who had only considered Mr. Moody's appeal when it was before the full court. The bomb exploded when Judge Vance opened the package, killing him and gravely injuring his wife.

Another bomb two days later killed Robert E. Robinson, an African-American lawyer in Savannah, Ga. Officials also intercepted a device that was sent to the 11th Circuit's offices in Atlanta, as well as a bomb that was mailed to a Florida office of the N.A.A.C.P.

Prosecutors believed Mr. Moody disguised his motive by using the name of a fictitious group when he vowed to kill judges and railed against African-Americans and the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit's treatment of them.

Federal officials began to focus on Mr. Moody after an investigator described one of the bombs to a chemist with what was then known as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who sketched the device on a napkin and noticed its similarity to one Mr. Moody had built in 1972.

"That's Moody's bomb," the chemist said in an episode Mr. Freeh described in his memoir, which noted that Mr. Moody's companion ultimately cooperated with investigators and provided crucial information.

Mr. Moody, who attended law school and apparently resented that he could not practice, has maintained his innocence. In a recent letter to Judge Vance, he wrote, "Had my Dad been murdered, I would want to know who had done it."

Yet federal officials long pointed to a recording, partly transcribed in a court ruling, of Mr. Moody talking to himself in jail after the killings: "Now you've killed two. … Now you can't pull another bombin'."

"I never came across someone like him: very brilliant, very determined, very skillful," Mr. Freeh recalled on Thursday, adding, "He made it a campaign to declare war against the courts and kill these innocent people, but I've never seen a defendant like that."

Legal questions that often surface in capital cases were not at issue on Thursday as Mr. Moody's execution neared. There were not, for example, last-minute questions about his competency or Alabama's reliance on a lethal injection protocol that includes midazolam, a sedative whose use in executions has been bitterly disputed.

Instead, Mr. Moody's final efforts to avoid execution, which the United States Supreme Court rejected, were largely procedural, including whether the federal government could turn him over to Alabama — and its execution chamber — while Mr. Moody served his federal sentence of seven life terms, plus 400 years. (The federal case included charges connected to the bombs sent to Judge Vance and Mr. Robinson. Mr. Freeh, who prosecuted the federal case at Mr. Mueller's behest, said he believed Mr. Robinson's killing was intended "to create a diversion" to distract investigators.)

The Justice Department said Mr. Sessions, Alabama's attorney general when Mr. Moody was tried in state court, had determined that the federal government did not object to Mr. Moody being in Alabama's custody "for purposes of carrying out the capital sentence."

In a plea for clemency to Gov. Kay Ivey, one of Mr. Moody's lawyers noted that Judge Vance was "by all accounts, an opponent of capital punishment." On Thursday, the judge's son acknowledged that his father had expressed reservations about executions.

"But he also made clear that as a judge, he has to follow what the law dictates and put aside his personal views, and he had to do that several times sitting as a judge," Judge Vance said of his father.

"Moody was tried, convicted by a jury of his peers twice, the final time with the recommendation of the death penalty," he said. "I think the legal system worked well in getting those convictions."

Prompted at the prison near the Florida border on Thursday night, Mr. Moody offered no last words.



12) The highest salute to the late Black Panther veteran Kiilu Nyasha!

by the People's Minister of Information JR ValreyApril 12, 2018

Our beloved Kiilu, 78, passed peacefully into the welcoming arms of the ancestors in the early morning of April 10, 2018. Celebrate her life on Friday, May 4, 6 p.m., at the African American Art & Culture Complex (AAACC), 762 Fulton, Fillmore District, San Francisco


I met Black Panther veteran Kiilu Nyasha in 1996, through my affiliation with the young Black revolutionary Oakland-based collective the Young Comrades and through my work with the Pan Afrikan Student Union at San Francisco State University, while I was a student there. I had heard her speak before I got to really know her.

Comrade Kiilu Nyasha

I remember my initial thoughts the first few times that I heard her speak at SF State and at anti-war rallies in downtown San Francisco and Oakland. When she took the mic, and got into her groove, spitting her politics, the wheelchair melted away and she was 100 feet tall standing over us basically telling us to get with the program or get back.

She used to consistently kill the political apathy and timidity in people with her vocal passion and her tireless work ethic. I remember being at Free Mumia organizing meetings where sometimes Kiilu would be her happy self, exhibiting that beautiful smile, and sometimes she expressed a ferociousness that was always aimed at the state and its hold over the person that she was getting at.

Her love for political prisoners was immeasurable. She always stressed that we could never forget the souljahs who sacrificed their freedom for our movement. She is one of the people who implanted in my consciousness, early on, that the freedom of political prisoners and prisoners in general had to be heavily included in any serious political, not just revolutionary, agenda.

Kiilu was a serious political animal. She didn't just debate or go to meetings; she was on the frontlines of political struggle from her spaceship on a daily basis until her health started slipping. If Kiilu could be on point, with not having a car and being disabled, and still show up at the Stop U.S. Imperialism in Haiti rallies and presentations, as well as the Give the Palestinians Their Land Back rallies, anti-police terror rallies, and many other causes, what excuse did I have?

I personally remember her teaching me about her close comrades who were former political prisoners as well as current political prisoners Ruchell Magee, the late Hugo Pinell, Chip Fitzgerald, Sundiata Acoli, Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Dylcia Pagan, Ramona Africa and so many more – bringing real life to icons. She always encouraged me to write the people we were representing so we could get to know them on a human level.

Her love for political prisoners was immeasurable. She always stressed that we could never forget the souljahs who sacrificed their freedom for our movement. 

She often told me about her love for the guerrilla George Jackson, field marshall of the Black Panther Party, and that she injured her body trying to be like the man she regarded as a perfect personification of a revolutionary. She also had a profound love for former Haitian President Aristide of Haiti. She admired his courage and the initiatives that he implemented to help the most impoverished in his society.

I remember that she would always quote "The Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse Tung aka the Red Book" and George Jackson's "Blood in My Eye" the way Christians would quote the Bible and Muslims the Quran. Kiilu is one of the people who inspired me to not half-step, to be religious about my political principles and search for a truthful understanding as to what is always happening in the world.

We didn't always agree. She was a Panther mother whose adopted cub grew into his own politics and understanding of the ever-changing world. She would hold a grudge as long as I didn't see her or call her. If we happened to talk, in any way, she would forget about whatever her issue was with me and proceed to get my help on whatever particular campaigns she was engaged in at the time.

Kiilu was also a brilliant journalist, whose work I encountered in the SF Bay View, on KPOO radio station, through her email blast and on local cable in Frisco. She kept me aware of activists who were working on campaigns in my area that I could be a part of.

The first time that I remember organizing with her was with the Young Comrades. She was a part of the large delegation of Panthers and guerrillas who worked with the Young Comrades to organize a huge event in Lowell Park in West Oakland to greet our souljah and former political prisoner Geronimo Ji Jaga home and back to the Bay. That was one of the biggest events that I am proud to have been a part of in my life.

I remember that she would always quote "The Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse Tung aka the Red Book" and George Jackson's "Blood in My Eye" the way Christians would quote the Bible and Muslims the Quran.

Four years ago, my youngest daughter, who was 2 years old at the time, went to meet Kiilu at a park that she was hanging at by her house. When she met my daughter, she was shocked to learn her name, because it was the same as her late granddaughter's. That day, she and my daughter were all over that park riding around – inseparable – and oblivious to the crowds of people enjoying the sunshine. She was definitely one of the Movement grandmas my children and I are honored and privileged to have known and spent time with.

She lived on the I floor of a giant highrise in Chinatown, at the end of the hall. I remember she would grow her weed plants in her giant windows that faced the sun for most of the day. I remember one time at KPFA, while I was working there, she was a guest on someone's show, and I told her that I had half a blunt.

My friend was so embarrassed, because she thought that I was being disrespectful. Kiilu didn't say nothing to what I said, she went on with the conversation, and we proceeded to go outside. When we got to my car, she put the wheelchair in a tilted position and started blazing away.

It took about a minute for my friend to realize that the Black Panther guerrilla Kiilu self-medicated. When it was time to hang out, she would roll up a joint as well as when she was at home in peace. She was a medical marijuana activist and she was not a fan of pharmaceutical drugs.

Kiilu personified the spirit of a Black Panther and a dragon breaking free from a dungeon rolled into one, with the resiliency of a Haitian freedom fighter in their revolution and the resolve of a Palestinian resisting the settler colonial Zionist. The highest salute goes to one of my family's sheroes and a major inspiration – and let me not forget: a major Minister of Information.

Kiilu Nyasha, we love you, and we will never forget what you gave. All Power to the People! And Long Live the Guerrilla!

The People's Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com or on Facebook. And tune in to BlockReportRadio.com.


Raymond Nat Turner, BAR poet-in-residence


19 Apr 2018


Never thought I'd see

the day that I'd pray

for: Fake News;

Never thought I'd see

the day that I'd pray

for: Alternative Facts

from Boss Tweet— pray that

scribblers screwed up tenses

scribbling 'bout a constant struggler—

3-time loser in capitalist Amerikkka:

Disabled; Black and Woman— Panther to the core,

Ida B-child soldier speaking, writing in real time—

Mentoring men and women for battlefront lives

worth living…

Flying warrior woman kites coded in humanity

through concertina censorship; smuggling

Love and hope between bars, amplifying voices…

Maybe I'm selfish and don't wanna let go—

don't wanna lose the grace, the smile

Sweetly staunch as principles behind it?

Maybe I'm lazy and don't wanna lift her

Load, clicking, guiding, electric silence…

whizzing down steep hills, in swift traffic like

little cablecars that climb half way to the stars?

Maybe her meeting after meeting, march after march,

demonstration after demonstration, decade after decade

Shamed my temporarily-abled body to another level?

Or, maybe I'm afraid of losing the constant struggler—

the long distance runner— reminding me: WE WILL WIN?

© 2018. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.

Our poet in residence Raymond Nat Turner is an acclaimed performing artist. You can find much more of his work at http://upsurgejazz.com .













































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