bauaw2003 BAUAW NEWSLETTER, MONDAY, MAY 28, 2018





Feds extend deadline for public comments on future draft

The feds initially provided only a few days for the public to submit comments regarding the future of the draft in the United States. This mirrored their process of announcing public hearings with only a few days notice. Due to pressure, they have extended the deadline for your online comments until September. 

They need to hear from us!

  • It's time to end draft registration once and for all.
  • Don't expand the draft to women. End it for everyone.
  • No national service linked to the military--including immigration enforcement.
  • Until the US is invaded by a foreign power, stop pretending that the draft is about anything other than empire.
  • Submit your own comments online here.

As we have been reporting to you, a federal commission has been formed to address the future of draft registration in the United States and whether the draft should end or be extended.

The press release states "The Commission wants to learn why people serve and why people don't; the barriers to participation; whether modifications to the selective service system are needed; ways to increase the number of Americans in service; and more."

Public hearings are currently scheduled for the following cities. We encourage folks to attend these hearings by checking the commission's website for the actual dates and locations of these hearings (usually annouced only days before).

  • June 26/27, 2018: Iowa City, IA
  • June 28/29, 2018: Chicago, IL
  • July 19/20, 2018: Waco, TX
  • August 16/17, 2018: Memphis, TN
  • September 19/21, 2018: Los Angeles, CA

For more background information, read our recent post "Why is the government soliciting feedback on the draft now?"

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 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."

The first real meaningful opportunity for a national debate 

about the draft in decades . . .

Courage to Resist -- Support the Troops Who Refuse to Fight!

484 Lake Park Ave. No. 41, Oakland, CA 94610





Why I Stand with Survivors of Empire

Dear Bonnie,

I'm Anya, Courage to Resist's Project Manager. I originally came to this work as a veteran of the fight to end the war against women, in which I have fought in both the trenches and bureaucratic offices for the past twenty years. What I know is that survivors who ask for advocacy, support services, and who speak up, will face public and familial humiliation and retaliation from naming their oppressors.

These women are among the most courageous people you will ever meet. And if I am going to learn anything at all about the courage needed to change our society, then I want to be by their side in struggle, determination and persistence.

This is also why I feel it is so vitally important to support war resisters, or survivors of empire. People with this same quality of courage and who choose to use it against the very assumptions of war itself.

In truth, many of us do not stand up and fight back against state-sponsored violence. We accept and bargain with situations of violence we've found ourselves in, because to directly oppose can bring even more push back, often with significant economic, social, physical and/or psychological harm.

Each person who stands up and says "No more will I keep my mouth shut or my eyes closed" impacts endless others through modeling and illuminating how near both resistance and resilience really are.

I joined Courage to Resist only one month before Chelsea Manning was released from jail, and attending the celebration parties I was blessed to witness what is possible. Oppression works when we believe the lies that are told to us, that 'they' have ultimate power over our lives. But that is not true.

Tactics of empire will not change until it is more than the ones being stomped on who take a stand. Solidarity moves mountains and softens cruelty's blow.

Draw a line in the sand. If you have not donated yet this month to our mission, now is the time to do so. In the words of Tamar Ze'evi, the young Israeli refuser with whom we just published a podcast interview:

"Where is the line at which one should stop cooperating, and was it already passed?"

In solidarity,

Anya de Marie

Project Manager, Courage to Resist

We cannot support the resisters without YOU! Please donate what you can today!


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

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



Incarceration Nation

Emergency Action Alert:


In October, 2017, the 2 year court monitoring period of the Ashker v. Governor settlement to limit solitary confinement in California expired. Since then, the four drafters of the Agreement to End Hostilities and lead hunger strike negotiators – Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Arturo Castellanos, George Franco, and Todd Ashker, have all been removed from general population and put in solitary in Administrative Segregation Units, based on fabricated information created by staff and/or collaborating "inmate informants." In Todd Ashker's case, he is being isolated "for his own protection," although he does not ask for nor desire to be placed in isolation for this or any reason. Sitawa has since been returned to population, but can still not have visitors.

Please contact CDCr Secretary Scott Kernan and Governor Edmund G. Brown and demand CDCr:

• Immediately release back into general population any of the four lead organizers still held in solitary

• Return other Ashker class members to general population who have been placed in Ad Seg 

• Stop the retaliation against all Ashker class members and offer them meaningful rehabilitation opportunities

Contact Scott Kernan. He prefers mailed letters to 1515 S Street, Sacramento 95811. If you call 916-324-7308, press 0 for the Communications office. Email matthew.westbrook@cdcr.ca.gov and cc: scott.kernan@cdcr.ca.gov

Contact Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.,  c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone: (916) 445-2841Fax: (916) 558-3160; Email: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/

As a result of the administrative reviews established after the second prisoner hunger strike in 2011 and the Ashker settlement of 2015, California's SHU population has decreased from 3923 people in October 2012 to 537 in January 2018.  Returning these four men and many other hunger strikers back to solitary in the form of Ad Seg represents an intentional effort to undermine the Agreement to End Hostilities and the settlement, and return to the lock 'em up mentality of the 1980's.

Sitawa writes: "What many of you on the outside may not know is the long sordid history of CDCr's ISU [Institutional Services Unit]/ IGI [Institutional Gang Investigator]/Green Wall syndicate's [organized groups of guards who act with impunity] pattern and practice, here and throughout its prison system, of retaliating, reprisals, intimidating, harassing, coercing, bad-jacketing [making false entries in prisoner files], setting prisoners up, planting evidence, fabricating and falsifying reports (i.e., state documents), excessive force upon unarmed prisoners, [and] stealing their personal property . . ." 

CDCr officials are targeting the Ashker v. Governor class members to prevent them from being able to organize based on the Agreement to End Hostilities, and to obstruct their peaceful efforts to effect genuine changes - for rehabilitation, returning home, productively contributing to the improvement of their communities, and deterring recidivism.

Please help put a stop to this retaliation with impunity. Contact Kernan and Brown today:

Scott Kernan prefers mailed letters to 1515 S Street, Sacramento 95811. If you call 916-324-7308, press 0 for the Communications office. Email matthew.westbrook@cdcr.ca.gov and cc: scott.kernan@cdcr.ca.gov

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.,  c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone: (916) 445-2841Fax: (916) 558-3160; Email: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/

Read statements from the reps: 

Todd – We stand together so prisoners never have to go through the years of torture we did  (with Open Letter to Gov. Brown, CA legislators and CDCR Secretary Kernan)



"There Was a Crooked Prez"

By Dr. Nayvin Gordon

There was a crooked Prez, and he walked a crooked mile,

He found a crooked lawyer upon a crooked isle,

They bought a crooked election which caught a crooked mission,

And they both lived together in a little crooked prison.

April 28, 2018

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













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






Herman Bell is FREE




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.


















Major George Tillery




April 25, 2018-- The arrest of two young men in Starbucks for the crime of "sitting while black," and the four years prison sentence to rapper Meek Mill for a minor parole violation are racist outrages in Philadelphia, PA that made national news in the past weeks. Yesterday Meek Mills was released on bail after a high profile defense campaign and a Pa Supreme Court decision citing evidence his conviction was based solely on a cop's false testimony.

These events underscore the racism, frame-up, corruption and brutality at the core of the criminal injustice system. Pennsylvania "lifer" Major Tillery's fight for freedom puts a spotlight on the conviction of innocent men with no evidence except the lying testimony of jailhouse snitches who have been coerced and given favors by cops and prosecutors.

Sex for Lies and Manufactured Testimony

For thirty-five years Major Tillery has fought against his 1983 arrest, then conviction and sentence of life imprisonment without parole for an unsolved 1976 pool hall murder and assault. Major Tillery's defense has always been his innocence. The police and prosecution knew Tillery did not commit these crimes. Jailhouse informant Emanuel Claitt gave lying testimony that Tillery was one of the shooters.

Homicide detectives and prosecutors threatened Claitt with a false unrelated murder charge, and induced him to lie with promises of little or no jail time on over twenty pending felonies, and being released from jail despite a parole violation. In addition, homicide detectives arranged for Claitt, while in custody, to have private sexual liaisons with his girlfriends in police interview rooms.

In May and June 2016, Emanuel Claitt gave sworn statements that his testimony was a total lie, and that the homicide cops and the prosecutors told him what to say and coached him before trial. Not only was he coerced to lie that Major Tillery was a shooter, but to lie and claim there were no plea deals made in exchange for his testimony. He provided the information about the specific homicide detectives and prosecutors involved in manufacturing his testimony and details about being allowed "sex for lies". In August 2016, Claitt reaffirmed his sworn statements in a videotape, posted on YouTube and on JusticeforMajorTillery.org.

Without the coerced and false testimony of Claitt there was no evidence against Major Tillery. There were no ballistics or any other physical evidence linking him to the shootings. The surviving victim's statement naming others as the shooters was not allowed into evidence.

The trial took place in May 1985 during the last days of the siege and firebombing of the MOVE family Osage Avenue home in Philadelphia that killed 13 Black people, including 5 children. The prosecution claimed that Major Tillery was part of an organized crime group, and falsely described it as run by the Nation of Islam. This prejudiced and inflamed the majority white jury against Tillery, to make up for the absence of any evidence that Tillery was involved in the shootings.

This was a frame-up conviction from top to bottom. Claitt was the sole or primary witness in five other murder cases in the early 1980s. Coercing and inducing jailhouse informants to falsely testify is a standard routine in criminal prosecutions. It goes hand in hand with prosecutors suppressing favorable evidence from the defense.

Major Tillery has filed a petition based on his actual innocence to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Larry Krasner's Conviction Review Unit. A full review and investigation should lead to reversal of Major Tillery's conviction. He also asks that the DA's office to release the full police and prosecution files on his case under the new  "open files" policy. In the meantime, Major Tillery continues his own investigation. He needs your support.

Major Tillery has Fought his Conviction and Advocated for Other Prisoners for over 30 Years

The Pennsylvania courts have rejected three rounds of appeals challenging Major Tillery's conviction based on his innocence, the prosecution's intentional presentation of false evidence against him and his trial attorney's conflict of interest. On June 15, 2016 Major Tillery filed a new post-conviction petition based on the same evidence now in the petition to the District Attorney's Conviction Review Unit. Despite the written and video-taped statements from Emanuel Claitt that that his testimony against Major Tillery was a lie and the result of police and prosecutorial misconduct, Judge Leon Tucker dismissed Major Tillery's petition as "untimely" without even holding a hearing. Major Tillery appealed that dismissal and the appeal is pending in the Superior Court.

During the decades of imprisonment Tillery has advocated for other prisoners challenging solitary confinement, lack of medical and mental health care and the inhumane conditions of imprisonment. In 1990, he won the lawsuit, Tillery v. Owens, that forced the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) to end double celling (4 men to a small cell) at SCI Pittsburgh, which later resulted in the closing and then "renovation" of that prison.

Three years ago Major Tillery stood up for political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and demanded prison Superintendent John Kerestes get Mumia to a hospital because "Mumia is dying."  For defending Mumia and advocating for medical treatment for himself and others, prison officials retaliated. Tillery was shipped out of SCI Mahanoy, where Mumia was also held, to maximum security SCI Frackville and then set-up for a prison violation and a disciplinary penalty of months in solitary confinement. See, Messing with Major by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Major Tillery's federal lawsuit against the DOC for that retaliation is being litigated. Major Tillery continues as an advocate for all prisoners. He is fighting to get the DOC to establish a program for elderly prisoners.

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:

Well-known criminal defense attorney Stephen Patrizio represents Major pro bonoin challenging his conviction. More investigation is underway. We can't count on the district attorney's office to make the findings of misconduct against the police detectives and prosecutors who framed Major without continuing to dig up the evidence.

Major Tillery is now 67 years old. He's done hard time, imprisoned for almost 35 years, some 20 years in solitary confinement in max prisons for a crime he did not commit. He recently won hepatitis C treatment, denied to him for a decade by the DOC. He has severe liver problems as well as arthritis and rheumatism, back problems, and a continuing itchy skin rash. Within the past couple of weeks he was diagnosed with an extremely high heartbeat and is getting treatment.

Major Tillery does not want to die in prison. He and his family, daughters, sons and grandchildren are fighting to get him home. The newly filed petition for Conviction Review to the Philadelphia District Attorney's office lays out the evidence Major Tillery has uncovered, evidence suppressed by the prosecution through all these years he has been imprisoned and brought legal challenges into court. It is time for the District Attorney's to act on the fact that Major Tillery is innocent and was framed by police detectives and prosecutors who manufactured the evidence to convict him. Major Tillery's conviction should be vacated and he should be freed.

Major Tillery and family


    Financial Support—Tillery's investigation is ongoing. He badly needs funds to fight for his freedom.

    Go to JPay.com;

    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:

    The Conviction Review Unit should investigate Major Tillery's case. He is innocent. The only evidence at trial was from lying jail house informants who now admit it was false.

    Call: 215-686-8000 or

    Write to:

    Major Tillery AM 9786

    SCI Frackville

    1111 Altamont Blvd.

    Frackville, PA 17931

    For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org


    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com

    Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com



    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



    Reality's trial
    is 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?

    Step up to defend our whistleblower of conscience ► DONATE NOW

    c/o Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610 ~ 510-488-3559


    @standbyreality (Twitter)

     Friends of Reality Winner (Facebook)




    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!





    Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder?

    By Nicholas Kristof, with Jessia Ma and Stuart A. Thompson, May 17, 2018


    San Bernardino County Sheriff Floyd Tidwell identifies the man sought for murder. (DOUG PIZAC/AP)

    The first sign that something was wrong was a continuous busy signal on the home phone of Doug and Peggy Ryen.

    Bill Hughes, who lived nearby, wasn't initially concerned. His 11-year-old son, Chris, had slept over at the Ryens' and he thought maybe they had all gone out for breakfast. But finally at noon Hughes drove over to pick Chris up and, when no one answered the Ryens' door, he peered through the sliding glass doors — and his brain couldn't process all the red. "This is paint, makeup," he thought wildly.

    Then reality sank in, and he kicked the kitchen door in. Blood from the five victims was splattered everywhere. Hughes rushed to his son, but the body was cold. Doug and Peggy Ryen, both nude, had also been stabbed to death, and the bloody corpse of their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, was in a doorway. But Josh Ryen, 8 years old, was moving feebly on the floor even though his throat had been slashed and his skull fractured.

    Soon sheriff's deputies were swarming all over the Ryen house in affluent, suburban Chino Hills, east of Los Angeles, that day in June 1983. Several signs, including Josh's personal account, pointed to three white attackers, and blond or brown hairs were found in the victims' hands, as if torn off in a struggle.

    Sheriff's deputies were also contacted by the woman whose boyfriend was a convicted murderer, recently released from prison, whom she suspected of involvement in the Ryen killings. She not only gave deputies his bloody coveralls but also told them that his hatchet was missing from his tool rack and resembled one of the weapons reportedly used in the attacks.

    But instead of testing the coveralls for the Ryens' blood, the deputies threw them away–and pursued Cooper. After a racially charged trial, he was convicted of murdering the Ryens and Chris Hughes and is now on death row at San Quentin Prison.

    Gov. Jerry Brown is refusing to allow advanced DNA testing that might finally resolve the question of who committed the murders, even though Cooper's defense would pay for it. Brown refuses to allow even advanced testing of the blond or brown hairs  that were found in the victims' hands.

    This is the story of a broken justice system. It appears that an innocent man was framed by sheriff's deputies and is on death row in part because of dishonest cops, sensational media coverage and flawed political leaders — including Democrats like Brown and Kamala Harris, the state attorney general before becoming a U.S. senator, who refused to allow newly available DNA testing for a black man convicted of hacking to death a beautiful white family and young neighbor. This was a failure at every level, and it should prompt reflection not just about one man on death row but also about profound inequities in our entire system of justice.

    I'm using strong language, I know. But I went to San Quentin to interview Cooper, reviewed trial transcripts and other documents, spoke to innumerable people on and off the record, and in 34 years at The New York Times, I've never come across a case in America as outrageous as Kevin Cooper's. So hear me out.

    Smarter people than me have come to the same conclusion. "This guy is innocent," said Thomas R. Parker, a 30-year law enforcement veteran who was deputy head of the F.B.I.'s office in Los Angeles. "The evidence was planted, he was framed, the cops lied on the stand."

    Parker said the case involved "abject racism," and he has volunteered his time investigating the case for the last seven years because he is horrified that a man he believes was framed is nearing execution.

    Or listen to Judge William A. Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. "He is on death row because the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department framed him," Fletcher declared in a searing 2013 lecture.

    This appears to be a replay of a tragedy we've seen before: The police are under great pressure to solve a sensational crime, they are sure they have the culprit, and when evidence is lacking they plant it and give false testimony. This is called "testilying," and it's more common than we'd like to think. In New York City alone, The New York Times found "an entrenched perjury problem," with more than 25 instances of probable testilying just since 2015.

    How did we get here?

    Initially, the authorities searched for three white men, which fit the evidence from the crime.

    That was Cooper, and deputies who examined his file and mug shot saw a black man with a huge Afro who fit their narrative of an incorrigible criminal. He had a long arrest record dating back to when he was 7 years old.

    The sheriff's deputies were sure they had their man: an escaped felon, one who they thought looked suitably evil. The authorities pivoted and focused on Cooper, ignoring other threads.

    Still, the authorities had a problem: Although they were sure Cooper was the killer, they couldn't find fingerprints, hairs or other evidence implicating him.

    So evidence began to turn up in mysterious ways.

    A thorough search of the station wagon found no evidence that Cooper had used the car. That problem was remedied when a second search of the vehicle turned up some of Cooper's cigarette butts; sheriff's deputies had found such cigarette butts in the empty house where he had stayed, but the butts had vanished.

    Another challenge for the prosecution was motive. After escaping from the prison, Cooper was desperate for money, yet some cash had been left on the counter  in the Ryens' house.

    The prosecution suggested that Cooper wanted to steal the station wagon. But the Ryens kept the keys in the car; there was no need to enter the house.

    Nevertheless, four days after the discovery of the murders, the sheriff announced the crime had been solved: Cooper was being sought for murder.

    While the police were desperately trying to connect Cooper to the crime, another man who should have been a prime suspect was not being investigated.

    That's a remarkable element of this case: Not only has the evidence against Cooper largely been discredited, but evidence has accumulated against another individual, who happens also to be a convicted murderer. Fletcher, the federal judge, wrote a long section in a judicial opinion implicating this man, whom I'll identify only by his first name, Lee.

    It was his girlfriend, Diana Roper, who had alerted deputies after the murders made the news to the reasons she believed that he had participated in the Ryen murders.

    Roper and her sister said that Lee came home late on the night of the killings in a station wagon like that of the Ryens, wearing blood-drenched coveralls, and that his hatchet was missing from his tool rack and resembled one of the murder weapons described by authorities. She said that on the day of the killing she had laid out for Lee a medium-size tan Fruit of the Loom T-shirt with a pocket; she remembered because she had just bought it for Lee at Kmart. It was exactly like a Fruit of the Loom T-shirt found by the bar with blood on it; testing showed it was the Ryens' blood.

    Roper said in an affidavit : "Lee was wearing long sleeve coveralls … splattered with blood. … He did not have the beige T-shirt. Lee took the coveralls off and left them on the floor of the closet. … A few days after, … Lee had changed his appearance by cutting most of his hair off and trimmed his sideburns and his 'Fu Manchu' moustache."

    Roper gave deputies the bloody coveralls. But instead of testing them to see if the blood was from the Ryens, the sheriff's office threw them out.

    A private investigator for Cooper's defense, Ron Forbush, interviewed Deputy Frederick Eckley about the bloody coveralls, which he collected from Diana Roper and later destroyed.

    Roper said she cannot be sure that Lee's missing hatchet is the same as the one used in the murders, but she added that "the curvature of the handle is the same" and it had a similar "American Indian pattern to it." Her sister, Karee Kellison, who was with Roper, confirmed much of her story.

    Then there was the peculiar matter of the recovery of the Ryens' station wagon.

    The sheriff's office claimed that Cooper took the Ryens' station wagon, but aside from the witnesses who reported seeing several white men driving it on the night of the murders, a new witness has emerged who saw the car the next day.

    The woman, who is scared of being identified as a witness for now but says she will testify under oath if necessary, said three white people in the Ryens' car were driving crazily and almost crashed into her vehicle.

    Her grandmother, who was with her that day, wrote down the license plate number. Hours later, after the murder was discovered, the authorities broadcast a description of the missing car with its license plate number.

    "I ran out to the car and got the slip of paper on which my grandmother had written the license number," the woman wrote in a formal declaration. "It was exactly the same." She said that she wrote to the police with her information, but the authorities did not follow up or share it with the defense.

    Shown an old photo of Lee, this woman said that it resembled the driver but that she couldn't be sure it was the same man.

    If there's no apparent motive for Cooper, there are only hints of one for Lee. His previous murder, of a 17-year-old girl, was at the behest of a gang leader, Clarence Ray Allen, who raised the same kind of Arabian horses as the Ryens. There's some — very squishy, unconfirmed — evidence that Allen may have previously threatened to kill Peggy Ryen, that they had a quarrel over a horse sale gone sour, and that she was terrified of him.

    All this said, let's be clear that if there's one lesson from the Cooper case, it's that we should be very wary of assuming guilt on the basis of fragmentary evidence. I tracked down Lee, now 68, and he strongly denied any involvement in the case. However, he did not want to discuss it and asked not to be contacted again.

    One point in Lee's favor: He has avoided serious tangles with the law in the decades since the Ryen killings.

    With all these uninvestigated threads, it's worth considering the motives of the San Bernardino sheriff's office, which handled the investigation.

    Sheriff Floyd Tidwell had recently been appointed to his position and was facing election that year, adding to the pressure to solve the most brutal crime in the county's memory.

    It's clear that the sheriff's office wasn't a stickler for rules. Tidwell was later convicted for stealing more than 500 guns from county evidence rooms. A lab technician who "found" shoe print evidence against Cooper was later fired for stealing heroin from the evidence room.

    The sheriff's office also bungled the forensics, so that 70 people trampled through the crime scene.

    Then, a day after the bodies were discovered, the district attorney closed the on-scene investigation for fear, he said, of gathering so much evidence that defense experts could spin complicated theories.

    Concerns with the San Bernardino sheriff's deputies have continued since then.

    Almost exactly 10 years after the Ryen murders, there was another terrible murder in San Bernardino County, and a man named William Richards was convicted in part based on evidence "discovered" by the same sheriff's office lab technician who earlier had "found" evidence against Cooper. Later, it turned out that this evidence was planted, and Richards was eventually exonerated. (The sheriff's office declined to comment for this article.)

    The only witness to the murders themselves, of course, was Josh Ryen, who endured a physical and emotional trauma that is unimaginable. By the time of the trial, he had no clear memory of what happened or of seeing an intruder.

    Yet his first memories were clearer. I tracked down Don Gamundoy, who at the time of the murders was a social worker at the hospital to which Josh was rushed. "He was awake and alert," Gamundoy recalled.

    Josh could hear but couldn't speak because of the wound to his throat, so Gamundoy wrote the alphabet, the numbers and the words "yes" and "no" on a piece of paper and asked Josh to point to the letters to spell his name, phone number and birth date. Josh did so correctly, showing that the method worked.

    Then Gamundoy asked Josh if the people who did this were black.

    "He pointed to 'no,'" Gamundoy told me. Communicating in the same way, Josh said that the attackers were white, and that there were three or four of them.

    This was a chaotic scene unfolding as doctors were struggling to treat the boy, but Gamundoy said he had asked each question twice to make sure the answers were not a mistake. Sheriff's deputies were present and observing, he said, and in interviews with deputies later, Josh referred to the attackers as "they," saying that "they" had chased him.

    With a good defense, Cooper might have prevailed. But his county public defender was overwhelmed and made a series of practical legal mistakes.

    "Kevin got convicted because they framed him and because he didn't have a half-decent defense," said Norman C. Hile, his current lawyer. Hile, now retired as a partner in the international law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, has volunteered on the case for the last 14 years because he fiercely believes in Cooper's innocence.

    This is a familiar pattern: Inmates have third-rate defenders at trial, but after they are sentenced to death they get the help of brilliant free counsel; by then it is often too late to undo the damage.

    Cooper's trial unfolded amid the ugliest racism. At a hearing, a crowd displayed signs reading "Hang the Nigger." One man displayed a noose around a stuffed gorilla.

    Newspapers carried inaccurate reports, apparently based on prosecution leaks, that tied Cooper to the murder scene and suggested falsely that he was gay (seizing upon 1980s homophobia as well as racism).

    Still, the trial outcome was close. The jury took a week to convict Cooper, and one juror told reporters that there would have been no conviction "if there had been one less piece of evidence."

    Cooper was scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 10, 2004. On Feb. 9, he was offered a last meal (he turned it down), and led on the "dead man walking" path to a holding area beside the execution cell. He was strip-searched, given new clothes to die in, and guards searched his arms for veins that could be used to administer lethal injections. A pastor visited to pray with him.

    Yet on what was supposed to be his last day, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted a stay of execution, and a few hours before the end, the warden halted the machinery of death.

    Cooper was now permitted to conduct a new test on the tan T-shirt, and this time the labs found something extraordinary. Yes, that may have been Cooper's blood on it — but the blood had a chemical preservative called EDTA in it. That suggested that the blood came not from Cooper directly but from a test tube of his blood. Sure enough, the sheriff's deputies had taken a sample of Cooper's blood and had kept it in a test tube with EDTA.

    Now the lab checked a swatch of blood from that test tube. More wonders! The test tube miraculously contained the blood of two or more people .

    This indicated that the sheriff's office may have used the test tube of Cooper's blood to frame him, and then topped off the test tube with someone else's blood.

    "How could there be blood from two people? Well, I ask you to remember the teenager's trick. Drink liquor from mom and dad's bottle, and then you put some water back in to bring it back up to the line. How do we have blood from two people? Well how do you bring it back up to the line after you've taken blood from it?"


    A United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge, speaking about Kevin Cooper's case

    Cooper's case began to get traction. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals en banc refused to hear an appeal by Cooper, but Fletcher wrote a remarkable 100-page dissent, concluding, "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." Four judges joined in this extraordinary judicial opinion.

    Likewise, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found in 2015 that there had been profound flaws in the case and called for a review. The deans of four law schools and the president of the American Bar Association expressed concerns. At the end of his term in office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged a "thorough and careful review" of the case.

    Five of the original jurors signed declarations expressing concerns about the case and calling for new DNA testing or for clemency. An award-winning book, "Scapegoat," concluded that Cooper had been framed. In February 2016, Hile and the Orrick law firm submitted to Governor Brown a 235-page clemency petition, pleading for advanced DNA testing of evidence from the case.

    Cooper's lawyers ask above all for new "touch DNA" testing — capable of detecting microscopic residues — of the tan T-shirt, the hatchet and the blond or brown hairs found in the victims' hands. This might determine who wore the tan T-shirt or handled the hatchet, and whom the hairs came from. Was it Kevin Cooper? Or was it Lee?

    As state attorney general, Kamala Harris refused to allow this advanced DNA testing and showed no interest in the case (she declined to comment for this column). As for Brown, he has not responded in the two years since the petition was filed, and he refused to be interviewed. His spokesman, Gareth Lacy, told me that the petition "remains under review." Brown leaves office in January, and I think he is running out the clock.

    One reason Brown may be hesitant to weigh in: For four years before becoming governor, he was attorney general, and during that time he suggested that no one on death row was innocent. I hope that this won't keep him from allowing advanced DNA testing.

    California voters in 2016 approved a ballot measure to hasten executions. So, depending on how litigation unfolds, Cooper could again be led to the execution chamber sometime in the next year or so — and even if he delays execution, he feels he is wasting away.

    Kevin Cooper at San Quentin

    "Look at how white my hair is," Cooper told me, bending over to show how his hair is graying. "I don't have as much time left. Every day is one I won't get back."

    I was speaking to him in San Quentin Prison, in a cage where inmates are allowed to meet outsiders. Cooper lives on death row in San Quentin, in a 4.5-foot-by-11-foot cell.

    Cooper told me about his abusive and troubled childhood in Pennsylvania, where he was adopted as a baby. When prosecutors said that Cooper had tangled with the law since the age of 7, they were right, but he says that the reason is that he was running away from home to escape beatings. His childhood involved shoplifting, marijuana smoking, juvenile detention and negligible education; he never graduated from high school.

    These days in prison, Cooper has remedied his lack of education with a G.E.D. diploma and comes across as smart, passionate and articulate. But he's not optimistic that the governor or courts will block his execution.

    "I don't have any confidence," he told me. "I don't believe in the system." He also spends his time writing a memoir, which now stands at more than 300 pages. "That's my motivating factor to get out of here, to tell my story and tell the truth about this rotten-ass system," he said.

    I asked Cooper whom he blamed. The sheriff? The jury? "I blame myself first and foremost, for walking out of Chino prison, for letting those people get their hands on me," he said. "I regret that every day of my life."

    Time and again, Cooper came back to a larger point: The criminal justice system is unfair to poor people and members of minorities.

    "I'm frameable, because I'm an uneducated black man in America," he said. "Sometimes it's race, and sometimes it's class."

    "The only people here on death row to my understanding are the poor," he added. "Even the white people on death row, they're poor. If they're white, racism goes away and classism jumps in and takes its place."

    Although Cooper's defenders note that before the murders he had never been convicted of a violent offense, or even charged with one, it's a bit more complicated: He has been accused of rape without being charged.

    I'm particularly troubled by one episode. Cooper admits forcing a 17-year-old girl into a vehicle in 1982. She says that he also hit her, threatened to kill her and raped her, and she went afterward to a hospital to seek treatment; he flatly denies hitting or raping her. Hile says that if the evidence had been strong, Cooper would have been charged with rape. For my part, I can't think why the girl would have lied, and although it's impossible to know after 36 years what happened, it bothers me.

    It's obvious to you by now that this is not a usual column — I'm not sure The Times has ever published a column of this length — so why am I exploring the case with such passion? I became interested primarily because Fletcher and other respected federal appeals judges had said he was framed. That just doesn't happen.

    I'm also haunted by something else. In 2000, I proposed reporting a lengthy piece about doubts about the conviction of Cameron Willingham, who was then on death row in Texas for the arson murder of his three children. An editor talked me out of it, and I never did write about Willingham, who was executed in 2004. Since then, growing evidence has emerged that he was innocent, and perhaps it's partly to atone for my earlier failure that I've taken up Cooper's case.

    If Cooper is innocent, he would have plenty of company. The Death Penalty Information Center says that since 1973, at least 162 people sentenced to death have been exonerated. One peer-reviewed study estimated that at least 4.1 percent of those sentenced to death in the United States are innocent; that would mean that on California's death row alone, where 746 people await execution, about 30 have been wrongfully convicted.

    Moreover, there's abundant evidence that executions in America are linked to race: One study in Washington Statefound that jurors were three times as likely to hand down a death sentence for a black defendant as for a white defendant in a similar case.

    Decades after Cooper's trial, many of the people involved have died or didn't want to talk to me. Some who were willing to talk insist that the trial was fair and Cooper was properly convicted.

    William Baird, the sheriff's office lab expert who in 1983 found suspicious shoe print evidence supposedly linking Cooper to the crime scene, told me that the evidence was real. He acknowledged having stolen heroin from the evidence room but said that had nothing to do with the evidence against Cooper.

    I also spoke to Bill Hughes, who discovered the bodies of the Ryens and of his son, Chris. He is certain that Cooper is responsible: "There is no doubt in my mind that he did that." His wife, Mary Ann, is equally passionate: She spoke of her family's suffering as the case drags on without closure, of her certainty that Cooper is simply trying to distract from overwhelming evidence against him, of her frustration at calls for further testing when there has already been forensic testing for 35 years.

    I told Bill and Mary Ann Hughes that my heart breaks for them. And of course, I can't be sure that Kevin Cooper is innocent. One lesson to absorb from the criminal justice system's past mistakes is that we need some humility about our own ability to ferret out truth.

    That's why the governor should allow advanced DNA testing, especially of the hairs and of the T-shirt and hatchet, and why Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein, Gavin Newsom and other California politicians should back the call.

    I know readers will ask me what they can do, and I don't have a good answer beyond contacting Brown's office or signing a petition calling for new DNA testing. Another takeaway is to regard our criminal justice system, especially in its interactions with the poor or racial minorities, with greater skepticism.

    Maybe in the grand scheme of things, the fate of one man on death row doesn't seem so important; innumerable people die tragically every day. Yet we aspire to be a nation where we are all equal before the law, and if we execute a man in so flawed a case without even bothering to test the evidence rigorously, then a piece of our justice system dies along with Kevin Cooper.

    Governor Brown, if you're reading this, I understand that you may believe that Cooper is guilty. But other smart people, including federal judges and law school deans, believe him innocent. So how can you possibly execute him without even allowing advanced DNA testing, at the defense's expense, to resolve the doubt? What's your argument for refusing to allow testing?

    The former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor once wrote that "the execution of a legally and factually innocent person would be a constitutionally intolerable event." She's right: It is not just Cooper's life that is at stake, but also the legitimacy of our system of laws. This is a test of Governor Brown, of our justice system, of our politicians, and of us.

    "This is bigger than me," Cooper told me in our prison meeting. "This is bigger than any one person."

    Or consider the Ryens' station wagon.

    It was found in Long Beach, 30 miles away, and inconveniently had blood on the driver's seat, the front passenger seat and the back seat — suggesting at least three killers.



    1)  Calling Your Lawyer From Jail? What You Say Might Be Used Against You.

    By Richard A. Oppel Jr., May 22, 2018




    Orleans Parish Prison in New Orleans. The Orleans Parish Sheriff's office records calls made by inmates to their lawyer's cellphone and archives them in a system that law enforcement officials can access.CreditWilliam Widmer for The New York Times


    Most people assume that a conversation with their lawyer will remain confidential. But if the conversation takes place on the phone from the New Orleans jail, it might be used as evidence of a crime.

    One inmate awaiting trial on drug charges mentioned to his lawyer that he had just gone through detox.

    The call was recorded by the Orleans Parish Sheriff's office, and his statement was used to prove that a needle the inmate was carrying when he was arrested had been used for illegal drugs, according to the inmate's lawyer, Thomas Frampton. He was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia.

    "It ended up being the critical evidence," said Mr. Frampton, who was then a public defender in New Orleans and is now a lecturer at Harvard Law School. Mr. Frampton objected to the inclusion of the evidence, but the judge disagreed.

    Conversations between criminal defendants and their lawyers about their cases are typically protected from disclosure, so long as there is no discussion of an continuing or future crime or fraudulent act. This privacy, known as attorney-client privilege, helps guarantee the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel.

    Yet in some places, those conversations, which are so crucial to an inmate's defense, can be difficult to have.

    That includes New Orleans, where all calls made by jail inmates to their lawyer's cellphone (and to anyone else's) are recorded and archived in a system that law enforcement officials can access. As a result, if a defendant speaks to his lawyer about evidence against him, or about the sort of plea-bargain offers he would be willing to accept, a prosecutor might be listening in.

    This practice is highlighted in a new report from Court Watch NOLA, a nonprofit group that is demanding the sheriff's office stop recording any calls between jail inmates and their lawyers in a city where the criminal justice system is already stretched. New Orleans public defenders rank as some of the most overworked in the country, in a state with the highest incarceration rate. The district attorney, Leon A. Cannizzaro Jr., has been sued on the grounds that he used fake subpoenas to coerce witnesses to talk.

    "Where the attorney-client privilege is subverted, so too is the truth-seeking function of the legal system," the report concludes.

    Aides to the local sheriff and district attorney defend the call surveillance. In calls made from jail a message is played warning that the call is subject to recording and monitoring, so they say those on the call know the conversation is not private or privileged. Last year the sheriff implemented a system allowing unrecorded inmate calls to a lawyer's landline, once the lawyer submits an affidavit listing that landline number.

    And, they say, lawyers can always go to the jail to speak to clients in person.

    But to criminal-defense lawyers in New Orleans, all of that is a fig leaf: Most of the lawyers who represent inmates are badly overworked public defenders carrying 150 felony cases or so at a time. The notion that they can routinely take an hour or two to go to the jail to see a client — or that they are likely to be at a landline when a client is able to call from the jail phone — is absurd, they say.

    Some criminal defense lawyers gave up landlines long ago, too, and only use cellphones.

    "I don't know a lawyer who still has a landline," said Nandi Campbell, a private criminal defense lawyer in New Orleans. A few years ago, Ms. Campbell approached the prosecutor in one of her cases with a lowball plea offer, though she and her client had talked about their willingness to accept a longer sentence.

    "He told me he knew the real number I and my client were discussing," Ms. Campbell recalled. "That's how I knew he was listening to my calls. I was startled."

    Jailed clients are already at a disadvantage when it comes to planning their defense. Inmates are less able to help attorneys find witnesses or gather other information. And since they are incarcerated and not working, they face more pressure to plead guilty, and they have less money to pay a private lawyer.

    Ken Daley, a spokesman for Mr. Cannizzaro, declined to specify how often prosecutors listen to clients calling their lawyers' cellphones, but he said: "Any call that is on that monitoring and recording system is basically fair game."

    Mr. Daley said the warning that plays at the beginning of these inmate calls constitutes "a voluntary waiver that vitiates privilege" for anyone on the call.

    "If public defenders are complaining that they find it inconvenient to visit their clients in jail (they have 24/7 access, by the way) or to utilize the sheriff's established protocol for unmonitored (and thus, privileged) calls, perhaps they are in the wrong business," Mr. Daley said in a subsequent email. He added that it is "extremely rare" for jail calls to lawyers to be used as evidence.

    Experts say the government is required to provide defendants reasonable access to private, privileged conversations with their lawyers — though what amounts to "reasonable" access is not precisely defined.

    Procedural hoops similar to those in New Orleans have been overturned by legal challenges in other places when courts have decided they unreasonably restrict clients' access to their lawyers, said Peter Joy, a Washington University law professor who has studied government monitoring of attorney-client communications.

    "Otherwise it puts a public defender with a heavy caseload in a corner," Mr. Joy said. "You can only discuss what's going on with your client over a phone, and most likely a cellphone. But then your client is going to be penalized for having open and frank discussions with you."

    Most jails do not record calls between lawyers and their clients, or have mechanisms in place to erase those calls without anyone listening to them, he added.

    Yet New Orleans is not alone: Court Watch NOLA surveyed 47 other city jails across the country and found eight that record calls between clients and lawyers: Salt Lake City; Minneapolis; Tulsa, Okla.; Boston; Frankfort, Ky.; Columbia, S.C.; Annapolis, Md.; and Concord, N.H.

    Blake Arcuri, the general counsel for the Orleans Parish Sheriff's office, said Orleans is one of the few parishes in Louisiana that allows some unrecorded calls between lawyers and clients in jail.

    Mr. Arcuri acknowledged that there are inconvenient waits for defense lawyers who meet clients at the jail.

    But he defended the monitoring policy, citing concerns about witnesses being intimidated or harmed. A lawyer could hand a cellphone to someone else who could be fed instructions from an inmate, he said.

    Dane Ciolino, who teaches legal ethics and criminal law at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, said it was "ridiculous" that the jail requires lawyers to go through such hoops, though it was not clear that this amounted to a violation of the constitutional right to counsel.

    Given the huge workloads and limited time of public defenders, Mr. Ciolino said, a good case could be made that for inmates to have "reasonable access" to privileged conversations with their lawyers all such calls should be private.

    As things stand now, he said, when inmates call their lawyers' cellphones, rather than discussing evidence or defense strategy, the lawyers almost have to do the opposite.

    "It puts the defense lawyer in the very odd position of essentially reading a Miranda warning to their own clients," Mr. Ciolino said.



    2)  Warriors coach Steve Kerr rips NFL's new national anthem policy

    By Chris Haynes, May 24, 2018


    Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr

    HOUSTON -- Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr called the NFL's new anthem policy, which will prevent players from kneeling during the national anthem, "idiotic."

    "I think it's just typical of the NFL," Kerr responded when asked about the league's new policy after shootaround Thursday in advance of Game 5 of the conference finals. "They're just playing off their fan base, and they're just basically trying to use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism, scaring people. It's idiotic, but that's how the NFL has handled their business."

    Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that owners unanimously approved the new policy, although the San Francisco 49ers' Jed York said he abstained from the vote. The NFL, however, confirmed that no formal vote was held Wednesday. Under the new guideline, players will be allowed to remain in the locker room while the anthem is being played. Any violation of the rule would result in fines levied against the teams.

    NFL owners approve new anthem policy

    Players are required to stand if they are on the field during the national anthem. Full story »

    President Donald Trump called the new policy "good" for the NFL and even went on to say of any player who kneels, "maybe you shouldn't be in the country."

    Kerr furthermore blasted the NFL's decision to implement such a policy and applauded the NBA's handling of social justice matters.

    "I'm proud to be in a league that understands patriotism in America is about free speech," he said. "It's about peacefully protesting. I think our leaders in the NBA understand that when an NFL player is kneeling, they were kneeling to protest police brutality, to protest racial inequality. They're weren't disrespecting the flag or the military, but our president decided to make it about that and the NFL followed suit and pandered to their fan base by creating this hysteria.

    "It's kind of what's wrong with our country. People in high places are trying to divide us, divide loyalties, make this about the flag, as if the flag is something other than what it really is. It's a representation of what we're about, which is diversity, peaceful protest, the abilities, the right to free speech. So, it's really ironic, actually, what the NFL is doing."



    3)  Aboriginal Youth Are Disproportionately Jailed, Report Finds

    By Adella Beaini, May 25, 2018




    The Don Dale Youth Detention Center in Darwin, Northern Territory, in 2016. The original Don Dale facility nearby was closed in 2014 after a tear-gassing incident.CreditNeda Vanovac/EPA, via Shutterstock


    SYDNEY, Australia — The number of Indigenous Australian juveniles in detention, on bail or on parole is increasing, even as the total number of children accused of crimes in Australia is decreasing, a government agency said Friday.

    Indigenous Australians are disproportionately represented in the youth justice system and are 18 times more likely than their nonnative counterparts to be under "justice supervision," according to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

    Of the 5,359 minors aged 10 to 17 under supervision on an average day last year, about half of them came from the country's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, according to the report. But children from those same communities made up only 5 percent of the country's population for the same age group.

    "We have been tracking the Indigenous and non-Indigenous kids in justice supervision, and the rate for Indigenous kids is falling slower than non-Indigenous kids," said David Braddock, the institute's spokesman.

    According to the study, from 2012 to 2013 Indigenous juveniles were 15 times more likely to be in the system than non-Indigenous children, but that number rose to 18 times over the last five years.

    "When you compare the two rates, the overrepresentation for Indigenous kids is getting higher," Mr. Braddock said.

    Australia's juvenile detention facilities have been under scrutiny since accusations of abuse surfaced in recent years. In 2016, the news program Four Corners broadcast footage recorded inside the centers that showed boys being stripped, sprayed with tear gas at close range and, in one case, shackled to a chair while forced to wear a hood.

    Some of those facilities, including the Don Dale Youth Detention Center in Berrimah, which was closed in 2014 after a tear-gassing incident but reopened in a nearby location under the same name, are in the Northern Territory, the area with the country's largest Aboriginal population.

    The report found that the rate of supervision had decreased in every state and territory except for the Northern Territory. There, supervision has increased by 4 percent over the past five years.

    The institute's findings were released one day after the Northern Territory Police said no one would be charged in relation to the abuse at the youth detention facilities.

    "The statistics show the other states are leaving the Northern Territory behind, this is the new Stolen Generation," said Christine Kngwarraye Palmer, whose grandson was detained at Don Dale, referring to an early 20th-century policy in which children of Indigenous descent were given to white families.

    "This new long-term data evidence is what's been happening to our young people and is the evidence of the erosion of community control in the youth justice prevention," added Ms. Palmer, who testified to a Royal Commission that investigated Don Dale. "I am a grandmother of a former Don Dale detainee, I know what its like to have my own family subject to that sort of abuse and torture."

    Many Indigenous leaders blame the high supervision rate on the Northern Intervention Program, a 2007 policy that took power away from local communities to discipline juvenile offenders and gave it to the federal government.

    "It essentially decimated communities and represents an assimilationist agenda intent on dismantling, disempowering and stripping away culturally appropriate and community-driven initiatives at the grass-roots level," said Olivia Nigro, an Indigenous-rights activist.



    4)  They Shared Drugs. Someone Died. Does That Make Them Killers?

    By Rosa Goldensohn, May 25, 2018




    Clockwise from top left: Kimberly Elkins, William Tylor Kendall, Amanda Guarneri, Chase Thistle, Misty Dawn Chapman, and Christopher Malcolm were all charged in overdose deaths.CreditClockwise from top left: Minnesota Department of Corrections, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, DuPage County Sheriff's Office, Wisconsin Department of Corrections, 5th Judicial District Attorney's Office

    HIBBING, Minn. — In West Virginia, a woman woke after a day of drug use to find her girlfriend's lips blue and her body limp.

    In Florida, a man and his girlfriend bought what they thought was heroin. It turned out to be something more potent, fentanyl. She overdosed and died.

    In Minnesota, a woman who shared a fentanyl patch with her fiancé woke after an overdose to find he had not survived.

    None of these survivors intended to cause a death. In fact, each could easily have been the one who ended up dead. But all were charged with murder.

    As overdose deaths mount, prosecutors are increasingly treating them as homicide scenes and looking to hold someone criminally accountable. Using laws devised to go after drug dealers, they are charging friends, partners and siblings. The accused include young people who shared drugs at a party and a son who gave his mother heroin after her pain medication had been cut off. Many are fellow users, themselves struggling with addiction.

    Such cases are becoming more common even as the role of the criminal justice system in combating drug abuse has become hotly contested, and even as many prosecutors — including those who pursue overdose death cases — say they embrace the push to treat addiction as a public health crisis rather than a crime.

    Overdose prosecutions, they say, are simply one tool in a box that should include prevention and treatment. But there is no consensus on their purpose. Some believe they will reduce the flow of drugs into their communities, deter drug use or help those with addiction "hit bottom." To others, the cases are not meant to achieve public policy goals, but as a balm for grieving families or punishment for a callous act.

    "I look at it in a real micro way," said Pete Orput, the chief prosecutor in Washington County outside Minneapolis. "You owe me for that dead kid."

    Who owes whom for what is less clear in the case of the Malcolm family in Breckenridge, Colo., where Michael Malcolm's younger son was charged in the overdose death of his older brother, with whom he shared drugs purchased on the internet. The cost of prosecution and incarceration, Mr. Malcolm said, would have been better spent on addiction treatment that the family could not afford. "It's kind of like blaming the leaves on the tree, you know?" he said. "What about the roots?"

    In 15 states where data was available, The New York Times found more than 1,000 prosecutions or arrests in accidental overdose deaths since 2015. Between 2015 and 2017, the number of cases nearly doubled. Dozens more cases were documented in news reports. In all, overdose prosecutions were found in 36 states, with charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to first-degree murder.

    [Could you be charged in a friend's overdose death? Read our Q. and A.]

    In Minnesota, the number of such cases — sometimes referred to as "murder by overdose" — quadrupled over a decade. Pennsylvania went from 4 cases in 2011 to 171 last year after making it easier to prosecute.

    A few cases hinged on whether one person injected the other. But in others, the accused may not have even been present when the drugs were taken. Some defendants had tried to save the life of the victims by calling 911, attempting C.P.R. or administering naloxone, an overdose-reversal medication. Prosecutors need not show that the death was intentional, only that the accused provided the drugs or helped the victim obtain them.

    Many of those convicted are serving hard time: A Long Island woman whose best friend texted her from a business trip asking for heroin was sentenced to six years after he died taking the drugs she sent him. A former pipe fitter in Minnesota who shot speedballs with a mother of three got 11 years. A Louisiana man who injected his fiancée — both were addicted, his lawyer said — got life without parole.

    In Pennsylvania two years ago, Caleb Smith, an aspiring doctor who had just completed a master's degree in biomedical sciences, gave his girlfriend what he thought was Adderall, purchased on the internet, but was actually fentanyl.

    After he was charged in her death, he committed suicide.

    Charge: third-degree murder

    When Kimberly Elkins needed relief from chronic pain, her fiancé, Aaron Rost, would tape a fentanyl patch to her chest or upper arm.

    But when the couple wanted to get high, they shared the patch, swallowing the gel inside. Both were unemployed in Hibbing, a town in the remote Iron Range of northern Minnesota whose economy is bound to the global price of ore. On Facebook, Mr. Rost listed his job as "getting my life straight."

    On a Saturday in December 2015, Ms. Elkins tore off a piece of patch, and Mr. Rost tucked it in his mouth as he left the house to go hunting. That afternoon she woke up in the hospital. The couple had overdosed — she in the laundry room, he at the door, dressed in bright orange and still holding his bow.

    Mr. Rost, she learned, had not survived. He was 36. When the police came to take her statement, it never occurred to her that his death would become a criminal case.

    Back home, mourning Mr. Rost, she took all the pills she could find and washed them down with vodka. At the hospital, Ms. Elkins promised her adult son she would get sober, then checked in to a nearby crisis center.

    When the police came there to arrest her, two months after Mr. Rost's funeral, on murder charges, she thought it was a mistake. "What are they talking about?" she asked a friend. "I didn't kill Aaron."

    Mark S. Rubin, the county attorney who brought charges against Ms. Elkins, compared overdose prosecutions to fatal collisions, saying that prosecuting those involved was "painful" but "part of our responsibility."

    "People agree, you know, there's nobody forcing someone to take the controlled substance. But somebody might agree to take it from their friend or their boyfriend or girlfriend and they end up dying because of it," Mr. Rubin said. "We feel that constitutes a crime of possibly murder in the third degree, but at least manslaughter in the second degree."

    Ms. Elkins, now 49, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is serving a four-year sentence at a prison in Shakopee, 200 miles from home. She arrived out of breath for an interview in the visiting room, apologizing for being late. The dark hollows that circled her eyes in her arrest mug shot had faded, and her initial bewilderment at being accused had given way to the reality of prison drabs and a metal bunk.

    "I was like no, this isn't a mistake anymore," she said. "And that's where I struggle really hard with this, is trying to find my responsibility in it."

    After her arrest, family and friends debated that very question on Mr. Rost's Facebook page.

    "How the hell can u sit there and blame her for it all considering whether she gave it to him or not he still had the choice," one wrote, calling Mr. Rost's sister, who supported the prosecution of Ms. Elkins, "heartless."

    "I'm heartless?" the sister responded. "I had to plan a funeral for a 36-year-old man."

    Charge: drug delivery resulting in death

    The concept of overdose prosecutions took hold after the cocaine-related death in 1986 of Len Bias, the college basketball star, two days after he was drafted by the Boston Celtics. A friend, who called 911 when Mr. Bias collapsed, was accused of providing the cocaine, but was acquitted.

    Soon after, states began passing so-called Len Bias or "drug delivery resulting in death" laws. Louisiana made it second-degree murder. Pennsylvania created a crime punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Congress passed the sweeping 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which included a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years for federal cases in which drugs resulted in death or serious injury.

    The Len Bias laws were supposed to go after drug dealers — "greed-soaked mutants," Howell Heflin of Alabama called them on the Senate floor.

    But the role of dealer is far less clear cut than lawmakers envisioned. The legal definition of drug dealing, or "distribution," typically covers behavior that is common for even casual users, including sharing, giving drugs away or getting reimbursed for a buy. Under complicity laws, helping to arrange a deal can be treated the same as dealing.

    Unlike child endangerment or "social host" laws aimed at holding parents responsible for underage consumption, Len Bias laws make adults criminally liable for the actions of other adults.

    Among groups of regular drug users, on any given day the role of "dealer" might be filled by whoever happens to have gas money, a connection to a supplier or a working phone.

    Despite the high cost of imprisonment — , compared with roughly $5,000 to $7,000 for treating addiction with methadone — new Len Bias laws have begun to appear. Delaware enacted one in 2016, and West Virginia did so last year. In Rhode Island, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has proposed a mandatory life sentence.

    His proposal was born, he says, out of anguish over an epidemic so pervasive it sometimes seems to have left no family untouched. Yet it is named for a 29-year-old woman, whose case points to the multitude of factors that can contribute to overdose deaths: She was found dead in her mother's car two days after using up her insurance company's 30-day limit on inpatient treatment.

    In order to gain a better sense of where defendants fit on the user-dealer continuum, The Times looked to Pennsylvania, where overdose prosecutions have soared since a change in the law in 2011 made it unnecessary to prove that the accused had malice toward the victim. The Times examined drug-related death cases filed in criminal court in the first half of last year — 82 cases in all, with 80 defendants.

    At least 59 of the accused were drug users themselves, according to police reports, court filings and interviews with law enforcement officials and defense lawyers. Roughly half had a relationship with the victim other than that of dealer. That group included six boyfriends, one girlfriend, a cousin, a brother and a son.

    A few of those charged had tried to save the victims. (Good Samaritan laws protect those who call for help from drug possession charges, but generally not homicide charges.)

    And while some people say there is never a good reason to help someone obtain drugs, particularly someone with addiction, others insist that there are many, including preventing withdrawal sickness or protecting them from the danger of a street buy.

    In one Pennsylvania case, a woman was headed for detox, but knew she would not be admitted unless she tested positive for drugs. Her boyfriend told the police he had not wanted her to drive to Baltimore to buy heroin alone, so he helped her arrange the deal and promised her $40 if she brought him along.

    He was not with her later that night when she overdosed and died, but he now faces a charge of drug delivery resulting in death.

    Charge: third-degree murder

    Pete Orput raised a coffee mug that proclaims, "I am a ray of sunshine," with an expletive embedded therein. A recovering alcoholic, former Marine and now the prosecutor in Washington County outside Minneapolis, Mr. Orput is not given to sugarcoating.

    The opioid manufacturers he is suing are "corporate schlockmeisters." Prosecutors he deems overzealous are "political hacks." And as to whether overdose prosecutions have had an impact on the street, the answer is simple: "No."

    He has found no reason to believe that such cases deter users or dealers, and says they rarely lead to high-level suppliers.

    But Mr. Orput still prosecutes in overdose cases. He has filed third-degree murder charges against three high school students who sold synthetic drugs to a classmate; a 21-year-old with a drug addiction who sold pills to a National Guardsman; and a woman who gave her husband methadone.

    He recognizes the shortcomings of this approach even as he feels compelled to take action. Each time his phone rings late at night with word of another death, he takes half an Ambien, smokes a couple of cigarettes in the bathroom, thinks about the grieving family he will soon meet — and then considers who will pay.

    Overdose prosecutions picked up steam under the Obama administration. In 2015, the National Heroin Task Force recommended that cases against heroin dealers whose drugs proved fatal should be prioritized for three reasons: the product might be particularly potent, the prosecutions would serve as a deterrent, and the attention would educate the public about the "severe harm caused by heroin."

    David Hickton, co-chairman of the task force and a former United States attorney in the Western District of Pennsylvania, said he resisted attempts to make exceptions for drug distributors who suffered from addiction. "You're either a trafficker or you're a user," he said in an interview, adding, "But it's really not a bright line in the real world on the streets, I recognize that."

    In recent years, the overdose prosecution idea has spread from district attorney to district attorney. One PowerPoint presentation instructed investigators to "treat an overdose scene as a homicide scene from the beginning"; to look for remnants of naloxone, the revival agent, as evidence that someone was there when the victim died; and to use the victim's cellphone to set up another deal before the supplier finds out the victim is dead.

    Some cases are handed off to federal counterparts as the basis for larger takedowns, but more often the cases begin and end with bottom-rung sellers.

    Even hard-liners like John Walters, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George W. Bush, question the use of overdose homicide prosecutions without more systematic proof that they reduce drug use and emergency room visits. "In the absence of that, this is all gestures," Mr. Walters said.

    But many law enforcement officers hope that the cases act as a deterrent. When five people overdosed in two months in Twin Lakes, Wis. (population 6,000), the police charged 10 with reckless homicide. "We kind of want to put a bubble around our community and say we don't — we're not going to accept this here," said Adam Grosz, the chief of police.

    But one of his detectives, Katie Hall, said that the arrests had little effect on supply and demand: "If we can take one off, well, then they just go to the next one."

    Paradoxically, the punitive approach to overdoses is underpinned by the same rationale as the push to treat addiction as a public health issue. In the prosecutorial worldview, a criminal investigation dignifies victims by treating their deaths as crimes instead of sad inevitabilities.

    "The analogy for me is the dead prostitute," Mr. Orput said. "You know, years ago, the cop would look and go, 'Well, that's what happens,' and that's what they'd say with the junkie: 'That's why we don't do drugs.'"

    Charge: reckless homicide

    The case of Nick Klamer and his childhood friend, Chase Thistle, shows just how hard it is to untangle the knot of blame in a fatal overdose.

    Mr. Klamer's death from heroin sent his father, Don Klamer, into a torture of regret and self-reproach. "I was the one that dropped the ball," he said. "I was the one that was supposed to be keeping him alive." Because of his addiction, the Klamers had long feared that Nick — dark-haired, green-eyed and lip-pierced, trailed by a cloud of Axe body spray and Acqua di Gio — would die young.

    And yet the prosecution of Mr. Thistle, who was with Mr. Klamer when he scored and used, has helped the family cope, organizing an incomprehensible loss into a story in which Mr. Klamer is the victim. Addiction is a slippery adversary that cannot be held to account. But Mr. Thistle can be.

    Mr. Klamer, 26, had been doing well in the months before his death in August 2015, living with his father in the rural Wisconsin town of Lodi, where their lawn backed right onto the lake. He worked the 6 a.m. shift with his father at a tool and die shop, and kept himself isolated from old friends and old habits by having no phone and no car.

    But then, Mr. Thistle came home.

    "It was only like a month," said Melissa Klamer, a sister, "between when Chase stared coming around again and when Nick died."

    Chase was the first friend Nick made when he moved to Wisconsin as a young teenager. The Klamers say they thought he was a bad influence, but it was Nick who first injected Chase with heroin in high school, not the other way around, and Ms. Klamer says her brother felt responsible for his friend's addiction.

    And it was Mr. Klamer who woke his father after midnight one night, asking for a ride. On the way, he asked for $200, telling a cooked-up story about a friend with a broken-down car. Credulous, his father drove the two friends to a parking lot in Madison, where they met up with friends and used the money to score. When they got home at 3 a.m., Nick said that he was going to stay up and go fishing before work.

    But Mr. Thistle's mother, Melinda, said it made as much sense to blame her son as it did to blame her, as the person who gave birth to him. Other people, she said, had played at least as big a role. "Nick's dad gave them $200 — two drug addicts, recovering drug addicts," she said.

    Don Klamer had told the police much the same thing, sobbing and slamming his fist into a table.

    "I drove them right to his drug dealer," the police report quoted him saying. "I killed my own son."




    5)  Want to Make Money Like a C.E.O.? Work for 275 Years

     MAY 25, 2018

    "A Walmart employee earning the company's median salary of $19,177 would have to work for more than a thousand years to earn the $22.2 million that Doug McMillon, the company's chief executive, was awarded in 2017."




    A Walmart employee earning the company's median salary of $19,177 would have to work for more than a thousand years to earn the $22.2 million that Doug McMillon, the company's chief executive, was awarded in 2017.

    At Live Nation Entertainment, the concert and ticketing company, an employee earning the median pay of $24,406 would need to work for 2,893 years to earn the $70.6 million that its chief executive, Michael Rapino, made last year.

    And at Time Warner, where the median compensation is a relatively handsome $75,217, an employee earning that much would still need to work for 651 years to earn the $49 million that Jeffrey Bewkes, the chief executive, earned in just 12 months.

    These stark illustrations of income inequality are revealed in the Equilar, which are , an executive compensation consulting firm. As economic uncertainty roils the country, the gap between top executives and everyday employees grows ever wider.

    This year, publicly traded corporations in the United States had to begin revealing their pay ratios — comparisons between the pay of their chief executive and the median compensation of other employees at the company. The results were predictably striking.

    "It's grotesque how unequal this has become," said Louis Hyman, a business historian at Cornell University. "For C.E.O.s, it's like they are winning the lottery year after year. For a lot of Americans, they don't have any savings. When they lose their job, they lose everything."

    Live Nation and Time Warner did not reply to requests for comment. After publication of this article, Walmart said it was increasing wages for low-paid workers.

    The pay ratio rule, part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking regulation law, has been left untouched by the effort to  now making its way through Congress.

    As glaring as the ratios may seem, they tell an incomplete story. Some companies reported very low ratios and relatively high median incomes, but rely on outsourced labor for important tasks. Other companies that reported very high ratios employ many workers overseas where pay is far lower than in the United States. And not all companies have reported their pay ratios.

    "As much as these numbers reveal, they also hide," said Mr. Hyman, who in August will publish "Temp," a book about gig workers and the proliferation of part-time labor. "It all depends on who you consider to be an employee in this new economy."

    For example, Mattel, the toy company, owns its factories overseas and employs thousands of low-paid workers in Asia. As a result, Mattel reported the second-highest ratio on the Equilar list: The chief executive's pay was 4,987 times that of the median employee.

    Contrast that with Incyte, a drugmaker with the lowest ratio on the Equilar list. The chief executive of Incyte made just 64 times what the median employee earned. But unlike Mattel, Incyte outsources its factory work, allowing it to keep its work force small and its median pay high.

    At least some compensation experts harbor a hopeful view that over time, sustained scrutiny of the income gap might lead to a more equitable distribution of wealth.

    "This could have beneficial results about how companies communicate with their employees," said Jannice Koors, an executive compensation consultant at Pearl Meyer. "In a good year, if the C.E.O.'s pay goes up, does the median employee's pay go up, too? Does the company have profit-sharing that goes deep enough into the organization that the median employee is getting equity grants?"

    That may be wishful thinking, and critics of  are quick to point out that sustained low wages can lead to reduced economic growth and marginalize large swaths of the population. Disposable income is needed for a healthy economy, and people need the time and resources to take care of themselves and their families.

    "Particularly in low-wage jobs, people are struggling to pay for housing, for health insurance, for child care," said Jennifer Gordon, a law professor at Fordham University. "When people are working two and three jobs and are not able to put together a decent wage, then at a very basic level they don't have time to be active in their children's schools, they don't have the ability to engage in their local politics."

    And still, executive pay, already excessive in the eyes of many critics, rises.


    For the first time, two chief executives on the list were awarded more than $100 million each. Hock Tan of Broadcom received $103.2 million, while Frank Bisignano of First Data earned $102.2 million.

    In 2017, the median pay for the 200 highest-paid chief executives was $17.5 million, and they received an average raise of 14 percent, compared with 9 percent in 2016 and 5 percent the year before that.

    Among the 160 companies of that group that revealed pay ratios, the median compensation for chief executives was also $17.5 million. In contrast, workers earned $75,217, a decent salary in a country with a shrinking middle class, but one that further demonstrates the growing gap between the C-suite and the typical employee. Equilar calculated that the median pay ratio disclosed by these companies was 275 to 1.

    In defending these lavish awards, companies are quick to point out that much of this compensation is in stock, that many of the biggest awards represent long-term incentive plans, and that in some cases, the stock vests only if the company's share price hits certain targets. As a result, they argue that the value of annual compensation packages can turn out to be much lower than initially stated.

    That logic cuts both ways. If the stock does well, the total value of these compensation plans can be even greater than the large sums first reported.

    In theory, such compensation plans encourage chief executives to focus on creating value for shareholders. And at times, that pay seems to mirror the fortunes of the company. At Morgan Stanley, for example, shares were up about 20 percent last year, while James P. Gorman, the company's chief executive, received a 16 percent pay rise.

    "The design of executive compensation continues to emphasize shareholder alignment," said Brian Blackwood, an executive compensation consultant at Willis Towers Watson. "When shareholders prosper, executives will benefit, and vice versa."

    It doesn't always work out that way. Shares of TripAdvisor fell by roughly a third last year. Nonetheless, the company's chief executive, Stephen Kaufer, was awarded a long-term incentive package worth some $43.2 million.

    And while chief executives are among the highest-paid people in the country — , almost all of them white men, were awarded some $4.4 billion last year — they are not alone in enjoying lavish pay. Others who don't hold that exact title also did well in 2017.

    David T. Hamamoto, a former C.E.O. who until January was the executive vice chairman of Colony Northstar, a real estate company, was awarded $53 million last year. Larry Ellison, the founder, chairman and chief technology officer of Oracle, was awarded $41.3 million, adding to his net worth of some $57 billion.

    Financiers at hedge funds, which are generally private and not included in the Equilar study, can earn billions of dollars a year. Michael Platt, the founder of BlueCrest Capital Management, earned $2 billion last year, according to Forbes. James Simons, a founder of Renaissance Technologies, earned $1.8 billion.

    And two technology entrepreneurs who last year took their companies public were awarded generous pay packages, but were not included on the list because they did not file proxy statements, which is part of Equilar's methodology.

    Evan Spiegel, a co-founder and the chief executive of Snap, received a stock award worth $636.6 million in connection with the company's initial public offering. And the Dropbox co-founder and chief executive Drew Houston was awarded a performance-based grant worth about $110 million.

    "The top layer of management live like kings and queens while the people at the bottom are scrabbling for a decent existence," Ms. Gordon said. "We should not have that in a society where equality and fairness supposedly matter."



    6)  Six C.E.O. Pay Packages That Explain Soaring Executive Compensation

    By , May 25, 2019




    As economic uncertainty roils the country, the income gap between top executives and everyday employees continues to grow ever wider.

    This year, thanks to a rule in the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking regulation law, publicly traded corporations in the United States had to begin comparing  to the median compensation of other employees at the company. The results, collected in the , were predictably striking.

    Here are six pay packages that stand out.

    Frank Bisignano, C.E.O. of First Data



    Mr. Bisignano was the second-highest paid chief executive in the country this year, and one of only two on the Equilar list to earn more than $100 million.

    Mr. Bisignano is routinely granted humongous pay packages by his board of directors. He was .

    The median salary at First Data, which processes credit-card transactions, was $50,406, resulting in one of the highest pay ratios — 2,028 — on the Equilar list.

    First Data, which did not reply to requests for comment, promotes an employee-ownership model in which stock is a part of every employee's compensation, and "everyone is a shareholder and is rewarded as the company performs better."

    That doesn't mean the equity is evenly distributed. "Some people are getting more equity than others," said Louis Hyman, a business historian at Cornell University. "It seems like another way to get people to work harder for a smaller cut of the pie."

    Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, co-C.E.O.s of Oracle

    $40,832,279 (Mr. Hurd) and $40,729,965 (Ms. Catz)


    Oracle has not one, but two chief executives — and it compensates each of them quite generously. Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, the technology company's co-C.E.O.s, were each awarded about $41 million last year. Taken together, their combined pay package of $82 million would amount to the third largest of the year.

    Ms. Catz is one of the few chief executives of a big publicly-traded company to openly support President Donald J. Trump, and has reportedly been considered for an administration job in recent months. She was also the highest-paid female chief executive last year, and one of a  occupying the highest ranks of corporate America.

    Mr. Hurd, a longtime technology executive, has criticized the Trump administration's immigration policies, and could be in line to take sole control of Oracle in the event that Ms. Catz takes a government job.

    Oracle did not report a median employee salary or a pay ratio because its fiscal year had not ended. As is typical with most C.E.O. packages, the bulk of the pay for Ms. Catz and Mr. Hurd was composed of stock awards and stock options. Oracle declined to comment.

    Douglas McMillon, C.E.O. of Walmart



    Walmart employs 1.5 million people in the United States, making it by far the country's largest private employer.

    Long a target for critics who say it underpays its workers, Walmart has in recent years made efforts to change this narrative. In January, the company said it would  to $11 an hour, offer employees a onetime cash bonus, and expand parental leave.

    "We have invested billions in our associates the past few years to increase wages and develop training and education programs to build a career where each job can serve as a pathway to greater opportunity," Randy Hargrove, a company spokesman, said in an email, after this article was published. "Walmart has represented a ladder of opportunity since we started the business, and we want to make sure that's the case going forward everywhere we operate including in the U.S."

    The efforts have only helped so much. The median employee at Walmart made $19,177 last year. In that time, Mr. McMillon made more than $22 million, resulting in a pay ratio of 1,188.

    "At a time when too many Walmart workers face stagnant wages and tens of thousands still qualify for public assistance, is paying your C.E.O. 1,188 times the median employee really the best investment for Walmart?" said Randy Parraz, director of Making Change at Walmart, a labor group. "Instead of pursuing billion-dollar stock buybacks and million-dollar C.E.O. payouts, Walmart needs to make the necessary investment to eradicate poverty within and among its own work force."

    Stephen Wynn, former C.E.O. of Wynn Resorts



    In January, Steve Wynn, the casino mogul, was accused of . Within two weeks, , and in March, he agreed to sell his stake in the company.

    Mr. Wynn remains an extremely wealthy man, and was among the highest-paid chief executives in the country last year. He is worth about $3 billion, according to Forbes, and even though he , he was awarded $34.5 million last year — an amount that the median employee at his company would have to work more than 900 years to earn.

    Michael Weaver, a Wynn spokesman, pointed out that shareholders fared well last year despite the allegations against Mr. Wynn.

    "Steve Wynn's 2017 compensation should be considered in comparison to the 97 percent shareholder return that same year," he said in an email.

    There is another wrinkle in Mr. Wynn's pay package worth noting. Mr. Wynn, a major Republican donor, appears to have taken advantage of changes to the tax law. Wynn Resorts paid eligible employees their 2017 bonuses in December, rather than in the beginning of 2018, according to Equilar. Executives who got those bonuses owed more taxes that year, but the company offered them tax equalization payments to cover the charges. The net result of this maneuvering is likely to save the company money on this year's tax bill, according to Equilar.

    Margaret Georgiadis, former C.E.O. of Mattel



    Ms. Georgiadis, a former Google executive, arrived at Mattel with great fanfare last year, a technology executive recruited to turn around a toy business being disrupted by online shopping.

    It didn't work out so well. Mattel shares lost about half their value last year, and last month, Ms. Georgiadis left the company. She is now the chief executive of Ancestry.com, the genealogy website.

    Because it operates its own factories overseas, Mattel reported one of the highest pay ratios among companies on the Equilar list, with Ms. Georgiadis being awarded a whopping 4,987 times the median employee's pay.

    "More than half of Mattel's worldwide employee base consists of manufacturing plant workers in Asia and elsewhere, which of course significantly impacts our median employee pay rate," said Alex Clark, a company spokesman.

    As a result of her departure, Ms. Georgiadis forfeited most of her reported compensation, which was in the form of stock awards and options that had not yet realized or vested. Instead, Mattel said Ms. Georgiadis earned about $10.8 million last year.

    Using Ms. Georgiadis's actual pay from last year would lower the company's pay ratio somewhat, but it would still be quite high. To earn the $10.8 million Ms. Georgiadis took home last year, the median Mattel employee would have to work for 1,722 years.

    Hervé Hoppenot, C.E.O. of Incyte



    Incyte, a biotechnology company with just one cancer drug on the market in the United States, had the lowest pay ratio on the Equilar list.

    Given the company's generous median salary of $253,015 and the $16.1 million awarded to Mr. Hoppenot, the chief executive, the company's pay ratio was 64 to 1 — positively modest compared with companies like Walmart and Mattel.

    But look more closely, and the comparison falls flat. Incyte employs just about 1,000 people, most of them high-paid scientists and executives. The manufacturing and distribution of their products is mostly handled by contractors who do not appear on the payroll.

    It's a model popular with other drug companies on the Equilar list. Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and BioMarin Pharmaceutical also had relatively low pay ratios and relatively high median salaries.

    Incyte did not reply to requests for comment.

    "Their median pay is a quarter of a million dollars a year," Mr. Hyman said. "You think to yourself, 'That's not so bad.' But then you realize that all of their manufacturing is outsourced."




    7)  Sterling Brown and the Tasing of the Black American Dream

    By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Guardian UK


    nother day, another black man violently assaulted by five rogue police officers for the ever-increasing crime of BWB (breathing while black). . In January, the Bucks rookie was confronted by Milwaukee police at Walgreens for a parking infraction, which resulted in a compliant Brown being wrestled to the ground, handcuffed, tased, arrested – and given a parking ticket.  was called "disturbing" by Milwaukee's mayor. Particularly in a city that Bucks president Peter Feigin once called "the most segregated, racist place I've ever experienced in my life". The officers involved have since been disciplined. Now what? Bygones? 

    It's hardly news that people of color are continually harassed, but what's been making the news lately is the frequency with which upwardly mobile, middle-class people of color are being targeted. From the , to  in her dorm's common room, to three black women facing down seven cop cars and a helicopter  they were renting, the victims' faces on the news are not just the hoodied street thugs that white America expects and can then dismiss. And, while we can be thankful that none of them were killed, there is an overlooked long-lasting collateral damage to the black community's faith in the promise of the American dream and the sinister effect on their children that is much worse than that single assault. 

    The American dream pledges that every person in America, regardless of their ethnic, religious, or economic background, will have an equal opportunity to achieve success. There may be obstacles, but they won't be deliberately aimed at anyone based on the circumstances of birth or belief. That ideal is America's moral core as well as its most famous public relations branding abroad: a better life awaits all. People in this country – whether natural born or immigrants – work hard to achieve that dream, for themselves and for their families. Once you're successful, the expectation is financial security, a certain respect, and an elevated degree of personal safety. And that's exactly what you get – if you're white. But if you're a person of color, your skin color is still seen by some as a gang color, the shade a reflection of the darkness in your soul.

    Sterling Brown is a professional basketball player with the NBA. Only 1.2% of college players make it that far. He's an American dream success story, having overcome great odds through hard work, sacrifice, and discipline. He's a role model for other black kids, not just those who want to be a professional athlete, but those who see that hard work can be rewarded. Yet, there is plenty of evidence that the American dream is blocked by a velvet rope wrapped in razor wire.  concluded that even when black boys and white boys grow up in the same neighborhoods, the blacks earn less as adults than whites, even though there is no difference in cognitive abilities.  cites the high extent of anxiety, depression, stress, thoughts of suicide, diabetes, and hair loss among black college students competing at predominantly white schools where they feel the burden of not only personal success, but racial success. This phenomenon is referred to as "John Henryism", after  who literally worked himself to death to prove his worth.

    Clearly, this is not just a Milwaukee issue. , I experienced only support from the fans and the team. Except for a minor incident in which a white grocer refused to sell me a bottle of local beer I was buying for a friend, I enjoyed my time as a Milwaukeean. The Brown arrest is only a single thread in a larger tapestry that is spread across America. The Milwaukee police who confronted Sterling Brown weren't just assaulting the man, they were damaging the dreams of young people of color who imagine a more accepting world on the other side of the finish line. But the loneliness of these long-distance runners just got lonelier, harder and a little more hopeless.



    8) The Predators in the Kitchen

    By Kitty Greenwald, May 26, 2018

    Ms. Greenwald is a food writer and broke the original story about Mario Batali.https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/26/opinion/sunday/predators-restaurants-mario-batali.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

    For decades, Mario Batali was one of the most famous and respected chefs in the United States, with an empire built on pasta and brashness.

    He is now under criminal investigation by the New York Police Department.

    A week ago, "60 Minutes" aired an investigative segment on the sexual assault and harassment allegations against Mr. Batali and Ken Friedman, the New York restaurateur. One woman, speaking publicly for the first time, told Anderson Cooper that in 2005 after kissing Mr. Batali at The Spotted Pig, the downtown restaurant co-owned by Mr. Friedman, she vomited and blacked out; at dawn, she said, she awoke with scratches on her leg and semen on her skirt.

    Both Mr. Friedman and Mr. Batali have denied any allegations of nonconsensual sexual activity.

    The segment followed investigative reports first published late last year by Eater and The New York Times.

    In response to the episode's revelations, B&B Hospitality Group, the restaurant empire built by Mr. Batali and his partners, released a statement calling the stories "chilling" and stating that the company was in the process of severing ties with Mr. Batali. April Bloomfield, the chef and co-owner of The Spotted Pig, said in a statement to "60 Minutes" that she was ending her partnership with Mr. Friedman. "I deeply regret not doing more to protect my staff, who relied on me."

    I have been a cook and a food writer for more than 10 years. To me, feasting, feeding and eating with people remains a generous and celebratory act, one I find beautiful. And I know that to succeed in restaurants, which are notoriously challenging both physically and financially, passion is key.

    But over the years and in particular over the past six months, I've also realized that the industry's darker truths have gone unchecked for far too long. We have embraced celebrity chefs who — on television, in books, in interviews — have been shown behaving or discussing behavior toward employees that should have alarmed anyone paying attention.

    I co-wrote the Eater article that first revealed the allegations against Mr. Batali and caused him to step away from the day-to-day operations of his company late last year.

    Since then, I've heard from dozens of women about their experiences with gender-based discrimination in the industry. A culinary school graduate told me a man she had dated circulated nude pictures of her around the first kitchen that employed her. Later, she said, a sous chef there came up behind her as she worked dinner service and grabbed her vagina. A celebrity chef told me that her shirt was ripped off of her when she was working as a line cook early on in her career. Later, after attaining multiple stars from The Times, she said she had trouble finding investors to open another place, unlike some male colleagues who had fewer accolades.

    The restaurant industry relies on female labor but for far too long it has done too little to protect that work force. A representative from the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a nonprofit worker advocacy group, told me that the industry was made up mostly of women. The group's 2014 study found that 80 percent of the female restaurant workers surveyed reported that they'd been sexually harassed by co-workers, two-thirds of them by managers.

    In the wake of the revelations about Mr. Batali, the industry appears to be trying to change. On Monday, Food & Wine magazine announced its Best New Chefs, and for the first time it featured more women than men.

    On the path to change, the industry must reckon not just with the famous men who behaved badly, but with the invisible category of women who were sidelined or pushed out of the business altogether.

    Beth Lieberman committed to a career in restaurants after she started working as a server at Momofuku Ko, David Chang's Michelin-starred restaurant in the East Village, in 2009. She climbed the ranks to become the restaurant's beverage director and, in October 2012, she was promoted to Momofuku beverage director, overseeing the drink menus at the company's then four New York restaurants. Though she'd wanted the position, Ms. Lieberman was surprised by the timing because when the offer came she was in her third trimester and planning to go on leave — she would be Momofuku's first employee to do so.

    In mid-December, about seven weeks before her baby was born, Ms. Lieberman was in the Momofuku office with a colleague when, she said, Mr. Chang interrupted. "He comes in and says something like, 'It's not going to matter what you guys are talking about because pregnant women never come back to work,' " she said. "And I said, 'Well, I don't really have a choice or I won't eat.' " Mr. Chang, through a representative, said that he did not recall making that statement.

    Ms. Lieberman said that after that meeting, Mr. Chang went to California for work. Upon his return, she heard rumors that in California he had discussed the position of Momofuku beverage director with another woman, Jordan Salcito, who had deep roots in the wine world. When Ms. Lieberman asked management about her concern that she was being replaced, "I was told I was being paranoid," she said.

    She worked until she gave birth, on Feb. 9, 2013. Ms. Salcito began at Momofuku two days later. In April, Ms. Lieberman had coffee with Ms. Salcito and, Ms. Lieberman said, it became clear that both women believed they had the same job. Around this time, Ms. Lieberman contacted a lawyer.

    In May, shortly before returning to work, Ms. Lieberman got a new job description. Her title was unchanged, but the scope of her work had diminished. She now reported to the vice president for beverage operations — Ms. Salcito.

    A person at Momofuku told me that there was plenty of work to go around at the time, since the company's beverage program was growing. But, Ms. Lieberman said, she was at a loss and felt tossed aside by a company that she'd initially found inspiring.

    Ms. Lieberman did not sue Momofuku and, she said, after negotiating a month's pay in severance, left the company in July 2013. The next month, Momofuku hired an assistant beverage director.

    In reporting on Ms. Lieberman's story, I learned that other women from Momofuku had remained at the company after giving birth, including Ms. Salcito. I also spoke with multiple people who mentioned another high-ranking Momofuku employee who, last year, alleged that she, too, was discriminated against after returning from maternity leave.

    In response to queries about these employees, Mr. Chang wrote, "I know in my heart that our intentions were honorable in supporting staff going on leave, even if there have been failures of communication." He added, "I want our industry to be fair and equitable for everyone."

    Today, Ms. Lieberman works for real estate developers opening up food halls. After Momofuku she took another job in the food industry but, she said, was fired while on leave after the birth of her second child. That's when, she said, she realized the industry would not support her as a working mother. Changing career paths took "a lot of work," she said. "I'm still so angry about what happened. I wasn't done with that phase of my life."

    To speak out against powerful bosses in general is a risk. But in the food world, especially in the world of fine dining, blacklisting concerns are pervasive. "At the highest level, it's a small world," said Maimon Kirschenbaum, a New York City employment lawyer. "Even when cases don't make the papers, word gets around."

    Stephanie Capsolas, a client of Mr. Kirschenbaum's, fought sexual harassment in restaurants long before the #MeToo movement made it a topic of public concern.

    In 2007, Ms. Capsolas was hired as a server at Babbo, Mr. Batali's upscale Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village. According to multiple people, she was a superior server. About two years into her time there, Ms. Capsolas contacted Mr. Kirschenbaum after Frank Langello, Babbo's executive chef, persistently sexually harassed her, according to a lawsuit she later filed.

    At the time, Mr. Kirschenbaum said, wage-theft cases had more impact than sexual harassment cases. So, he encouraged Ms. Capsolas to bring a wage-theft case against Babbo, along with a sexual harassment charge. In July of 2010, they filed the wage-theft suit in federal court and the sexual harassment claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which can grant complainants the right to sue in federal court.

    She alleged that Mr. Langello had "created a sexually hostile work environment" by asking questions about her sex life, regularly snapping her bra and, on one occasion, lifting his apron to reveal an erection and saying, "Look what you do to me." After filing both claims, Ms. Capsolas remained at Babbo for about a year because, someone close to her said, she needed the money.

    In March 2012, the wage case, which had turned into a class action, was settled for $5.25 million. In July, Ms. Capsolas filed her harassment claim in federal court. That September, Babbo and its owners alleged that the wage case's settlement precluded Ms. Capsolas from taking legal action against Mr. Langello for sexual harassment. Mr. Langello also filed a defamation counterclaim against Ms. Capsolas, denying the harassment allegations. Mr. Kirschenbaum, the lawyer, said the counterclaim issue has now been resolved. (A settlement was reached and nondisclosure agreements were signed.)

    In August of 2011, before the settlement, Ms. Capsolas got a job as a server at Il Buco, another Italian restaurant in Lower Manhattan, and left Babbo. At the time she was hired at Il Buco, multiple people said, upper management didn't know about the claims she had filed. She still works as a server there, though now in a senior role. Her time at Babbo and the publicity surrounding her cases, a former manager from Il Buco said, "robbed her of something she enjoyed and was passionate about."

    In a statement, Ms. Capsolas said that she is happy at Il Buco. But, she said, "there is no question that service employees that have come forward with sex harassment allegations in the high-end restaurant industry have been unfairly maligned, especially when it comes to future employment."

    In all of my conversations with women in the food industry, I was struck by the pattern of young women who were drawn to restaurants as a possible career — and who changed their minds after their early experiences.

    Maggie Yolen was like that. She'd worked in restaurants in high school and college. The job that most resonated with her started out part-time as a server in an up-and-coming Brooklyn restaurant. She liked her bosses and the mission of the restaurant.

    Soon after starting there she was working full time. Then a new chef arrived, and he started to pursue Ms. Yolen romantically. They went on one date, but Ms. Yolen did not return his feelings, and the situation deteriorated to the point where she altered her schedule to avoid overlapping shifts with him. Then, to avoid him altogether after she formally complained, she accepted an offer to work in an administrative role for the restaurant off-site. She became demoralized and the job didn't go well.

    After asking to go part-time, she was ultimately fired. Then, Ms. Yolen worked as a cocktail waitress at a steakhouse. What she experienced there from customers was, she said, "more textbook sexual harassment." She took to wearing a fake wedding ring in the hopes of fending off vulgar comments and unwanted touching. One night while working a cocktail party held by a Wall Street banking firm, she said, she made "more money than I'd ever made in my life." But "I was repeatedly groped," and that was her breaking point. "I was able to step back and say, 'This isn't worth it.' I quit the next day."

    Kitty Greenwald writes a weekly recipe column for The Wall Street Journal and is the co-author of the cookbook "Slow Fires."



    9)  'Don't Treat Us Like Animals': Family of Woman Shot by Border Patrol Denounces U.S.

    By Christina Caron, May 26, 2018


    Dominga Vicente showing reporters a photo of her niece, Claudia Patricia Gómez González, during a news conference on Friday. Ms. Gómez was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent last week.CreditMoises Castillo/Associated Press

    The aunt of the woman shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent last week after crossing the border illegally near Laredo, Tex., has a message for the United States: "Don't treat us like animals."

    The aunt, Dominga Vicente, spoke at a news conference on Friday, the same day the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala identified her niece, Claudia Patricia Gómez González, 19, of San Juan Ostuncalco, Guatemala, as the victim of the shooting.

    "This is not the first person dying in the United States," Ms. Vicente said at the news conference in Guatemala City. "There are many people that have been treated like animals and that isn't what we should do as people."

    Ms. Vicente said her niece had left Guatemala "out of necessity" to try to earn money in the United States. Ms. Gómez had studied accounting but was unable to find a job in Guatemala, according to the Guatemalan television station Guatevisión.

    Ms. Gómez's mother, Lidia González Vásquez, told Guatevisión in an interview posted on Friday that she wanted her daughter's body returned to her.

    "She left home 15 days ago, saying: 'Mamita, we're going to go on ahead, I'll make money. There's no work here,'" Ms. González said. "But shamefully they killed her. The migration killed her."

    Carlos Narez, the secretary of the National Council for Migrant Assistance in Guatemala, on Friday called for an "exhaustive, impartial investigation."

    "Guatemala is saddened by whatever violence and excess use of force was used by the Border Patrol and calls to respect, at all times, all the rights of our people and whomever may be held by immigration, especially with respect to life," he said.

    The United States Customs and Border Protection offered varying accounts of what happened in the shooting, which took place on Wednesday shortly before 12:30 p.m.

    The agency's original statement said the officer was searching for "illegal activity" in a culvert on a residential street in Rio Bravo, a border town about seven miles south of Laredo, when a group of undocumented immigrants started to hit him with "blunt objects."

    An updated statement, sent on Friday, said that the officer, a 15-year veteran of the Border Patrol, ordered the immigrants "to get on the ground" but "the group ignored his verbal commands and instead rushed him."

    The new statement also used different language to describe the woman now identified as Ms. Gómez.

    The earlier statement said that the officer, whose name was not released, fired at least one shot with his handgun, "fatally wounding one of the assailants." The updated statement did not refer to her as an "assailant," saying instead that the officer fired one round, "striking one member of the group."

    The Border Patrol agent was put on administrative leave, and the F.B.I. and Texas Rangers are investigating the shooting.

    Marta V. Martinez, who lives on Centeno Lane, next to the site of the shooting, on Thursday disputed Customs and Border Protection's first account of the shooting, saying she didn't see any weapons the group could have used.

    "There was no weapon. They were hiding," Ms. Martinez said of the undocumented immigrants, adding that she "didn't hear any yelling or 'stop' or 'don't run.'"

    After hearing the gunshot, she ran outside, saw Border Patrol agents on her block and hit record on her cellphone. She then peered over a chain-link fence to the adjacent lot, she said, and saw an officer flip over a woman's body.

    The officer began doing chest compressions on the woman, but Ms. Martinez said it was clear that the woman had already died.

    Denise Medina Torrey and Alan Yuhas contributed reporting.



    10) Sterling Brown Arrest Fallout: 3 Officers Are Suspended

    By Louis Lucero II, May 25, 2018



    Body camera footage shows Sterling Brown, 23, talking to Milwaukee police officers after a stun gun was used on him in January during an arrest.CreditMilwaukee Police Department, via Associated Press

    Eight members of the Milwaukee Police Department have been disciplined in connection with the arrest of the N.B.A. player Sterling Brown, who in January was subdued with a stun gun over a parking violation.

    The department announced on Friday that three officers would receive unpaid suspensions. Those officers and five others will receive policy review instruction and remedial training in professional communications, the department said.

    The most substantial punishment, a 15-day suspension, went to a police sergeant who has served for more than 11 years. Another sergeant, with 12 years of service, received a 10-day suspension. An officer with two and a half years on the force received a two-day suspension.

    Footage of the arrest, outside a Walgreens store in the early hours of Jan. 26, was captured using a body camera worn by one of the officers. The 30-minute video was released to the public on Wednesday, after the Police Department conducted an investigation into the episode that "revealed members acted inappropriately."

    Alfonso Morales, the Milwaukee police chief, has expressed regret at how the arrest was carried out. "I am sorry this incident escalated to this level," he said at a news conference on Wednesday.

    The video shows Mr. Brown exiting the drugstore and being confronted by an officer about his car, which was parked in a handicapped zone. The confrontation swiftly escalates, with multiple police vehicles responding to the scene.

    At one point, the officers push Mr. Brown to the ground and one officer calls out, "Taser, Taser, Taser," after which a stun gun is used on Mr. Brown.

    During the video, Mr. Brown does not appear to raise his voice or physically resist officers.

    In an interview broadcast on Friday on "Good Morning America," Mr. Brown, a 23-year-old guard on the Milwaukee Bucks, said that his hands were behind his back at the time the stun gun was used. He described becoming mad every time he watched the footage.

    "I was defenseless, pretty much," he said.

    On Thursday Mr. Brown announced that he would take legal action against the Milwaukee Police Department. (The department is not pursuing criminal charges against Mr. Brown.) He told "Good Morning America" that he aimed to hold "the officers accountable, hold future officers accountable."

    "This happens from coast to coast, you know, it's something that's being shown more now that technology has advanced," he said. "It's something that's been happening for years, and people's stories have not been told, and people's stories have not been heard. And I feel like, you know, me doing this, it helps a lot."




    11)  The North's Jim Crow

    By Andrew W. Kahrl, May 27, 2018


    Last month in Philadelphia, a white Starbucks manager summoned police officers to confront a pair of African-American men after one asked to use the restroom before he had purchased a drink. About two weeks later, at Lake Merritt Park in Oakland, Calif., a white woman called police to report a black family that was grilling food for a picnic.

    In both instances, the victims were accused of violating laws or rules governing conduct in commercial establishments and public spaces. In the first case, it was for trespassing or loitering. In the second, it was for using a charcoal grill outside of the designated areas.

    "Quality of life" laws serve as a potent instrument of racial segregation. They provide commercial establishments, law enforcement officers and everyday citizens with tools enabling them to police racial boundaries while at the same time claiming to simply be upholding the law.

    In contrast to the Jim Crow laws of America's dark past, these laws supposedly apply to everyone. But in practice, they clearly don't. Like most middle-aged white people, I have spent countless hours in Starbucks without buying anything. Plenty of white people have barbecued, blasted music and drunk alcohol at that same Oakland park, without anyone calling the police.

    The selective enforcement of minor ordinances, as many critics note, performs the same work today that segregation laws did in the past. But it would be inaccurate to call this a new form of Jim Crow. What it is, rather, is a form of Jim Crow that whites in the North have been developing since the early 1900s.

    As white segregationists in the South were placing "whites only" signs in the windows of restaurants, in the North, more enlightened (or, rather, more savvy) white proprietors and public officials realized that rules restricting public spaces to local residents and the strict but selective enforcement of laws against things like disorderly conduct and loitering could be used to impose racial segregation.

    Take public beaches. In the South, white officials literally drew color lines in the sands and the waters off shore. In the "racially liberal" Northeast, towns devised elaborate, and ostensibly colorblind, procedures for determining who could access public shores, and what they could bring and do once inside, and then proceeded to enforce them for black and brown people only.

    In the 1930s, Long Branch, N.J., passed an ordinance requiring all residents to apply for a pass that would allow access to only one of the town's four public beaches. Town officials claimed the rule was meant to prevent overcrowding. Without exception, though, black applicants were assigned to the same beach and were denied entry to the others.

    In the wealthy, all-white towns along the Connecticut Gold Coast, where blacks were effectively excluded from living by racist housing policies, local officials kept public spaces segregated by narrowing the definition of who constituted the public. While nearby urban black populations swelled and the demand for access to public places of recreation spiked, towns like Greenwich, Westport and Fairfield restricted their beaches to residents. It was obvious whom these laws were meant to exclude.

    These wealthy enclaves were also among the first to use privatization as a means of segregation, a practice that would proliferate in the decades following the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    The Harlem Renaissance novelist Ann Petry once wrote that her "most humiliating Jim Crow experience" took place in Connecticut, where she grew up. She had gone on a trip to a beach with her Sunday school class. The beach was technically private, but that had never mattered — until Petry, the only "colored" girl in the group, came along. On this occasion, the children and their teacher were deemed trespassers and told by a guard, "If you don't get off the beach, I'll call up the sheriff." The children were forced to have their picnic on the church lawn. "We ate," Petry later wrote, "in a clammy silence."

    The civil rights icon Constance Baker Motley, who grew up in New Haven, Conn., in the 1930s, recalled accompanying two white teenage friends to a private beach in the neighboring town of Milford. Although Motley's white friends were not members, they went there often. But with an African-American joining them, "there was suddenly a membership requirement." The three returned to New Haven, Motley dripping in sweat and stewing in indignation, her white friends having learned an important Jim Crow lesson.

    Most white Americans prefer to consign such naked acts of discrimination to a shameful past that we have supposedly overcome. But in light of these recent incidents, it would be more accurate to call the forms of Jim Crow that prevailed in the Northeast in the early- to mid-20th century the cutting edge in technologies of exclusion, a sign of things that were to come.

    It will take more than sensitivity-training sessions and the public shaming of racist, hypervigilant white women to dismantle today's system of segregation. Limiting the power of white people to use the law to act out their vision of a "quality" life that excludes black people is a place to start.

    Andrew W. Kahrl, an associate professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Virginia, is the author of "Free the Beaches: The Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America's Most Exclusive Shoreline."



    12)   Black Defendants Get Longer Sentences From Republican-Appointed Judges, Study Finds

    By Adam Liptak, May 28, 2018

    "It has long been known that there is an overall racial sentencing gap, with judges of all political affiliations meting out longer sentences to black offenders. The new study confirmed this, finding that black defendants are sentenced to 4.8 months more than similar offenders of other races."


    Federal Correctional Institution, Mendota, in California. A new study finds sentencing differences between Republican-appointed judges and Democratic appointees.CreditMax Whittaker for The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — Judges appointed by Republican presidents gave longer sentences to black defendants and shorter ones to women than judges appointed by Democrats, according to a new study that analyzed data on more than half a million defendants.

    "Republican-appointed judges sentence black defendants to three more months than similar nonblacks and female defendants to two fewer months than similar males compared to Democratic-appointed judges," the study found, adding, "These differences cannot be explained by other judge characteristics and grow substantially larger when judges are granted more discretion."

    The study was conducted by two professors at Harvard Law School, Alma Cohen and Crystal S. Yang. They examined the sentencing practices of about 1,400 federal trial judges over more than 15 years, relying on information from the Federal Judicial Center, the United States Sentencing Commission and the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

    Douglas A. Berman, an authority on sentencing law at Ohio State University, said the study contained "amazing new empirical research."

    "It's an extraordinarily important contribution to our statistical understanding of sentencing decision making in federal courts over the last two decades," he said.

    It has long been known that there is an overall racial sentencing gap, with judges of all political affiliations meting out longer sentences to black offenders. The new study confirmed this, finding that black defendants are sentenced to 4.8 months more than similar offenders of other races.

    It was also well known, and perhaps not terribly surprising, that Republican appointees are tougher on crime over all, imposing sentences an average of 2.4 months longer than Democratic appointees.

    But the study's findings on how judges' partisan affiliations affected the racial and gender gaps were new and startling.

    "The racial gap by political affiliation is three months, approximately 65 percent of the baseline racial sentence gap," the authors wrote. "We also find that Republican-appointed judges give female defendants two months less in prison than similar male defendants compared to Democratic-appointed judges, 17 percent of the baseline gender sentence gap."

    The two kinds of gaps appear to have slightly different explanations. "We find evidence that gender disparities by political affiliation are largely driven by violent offenses and drug offenses," the study said. "We also find that racial disparities by political affiliation are largely driven by drug offenses."

    The authors of the study sounded a note of caution. "The precise reasons why these disparities by political affiliation exist remain unknown and we caution that our results cannot speak to whether the sentences imposed by Republican- or Democratic-appointed judges are warranted or 'right,'" the authors wrote. "Our results, however, do suggest that Republican- and Democratic-appointed judges treat defendants differently on the basis of their race and gender given that we observe robust disparities despite the random assignment of cases to judges within the same court."

    The study is studded with fascinating tidbits. Black judges treat male and female offenders more equally than white judges do. Black judges appointed by Republicans treat black offenders more leniently than do other Republican appointees.

    More experienced judges are less apt to treat black and female defendants differently. Judges in states with higher levels of racism, as measured by popular support for laws against interracial marriage, are more likely to treat black defendants more harshly than white ones.

    The Trump administration has been quite successful in stocking the federal bench with its appointees, and by some estimates the share of Republican appointees on the federal district courts could rise to 50 percent in 2020, from 34 percent in early 2017.

    The study said these trends were likely to widen the sentencing gaps.

    "Our estimates suggest that a 10 percentage point increase in the share of Republican-appointed judges in each court would increase the racial sentencing gap by approximately 5 percent and the gender sentencing gap by roughly 2 percent," the authors wrote. "During an average four-year term, a Republican president has the potential to alter the partisan composition of the district courts by over 15 percentage points, potentially increasing the racial and gender sentencing gap by 7.5 and 3 percent, respectively."

    There are a couple of reasons to question that prediction. The Trump administration has been more energetic in appointing appeals court judges than trial judges. And in recent years many conservatives have started to shift positions on sentencing policy. The very scope of the study, which considered sentences imposed from 1999 to 2015, could mask trends in the later years.

    Supreme Court justices like to say that partisan affiliation plays no role in judicial decision making.

    "There's no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge," Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump's Supreme Court appointee, said at his confirmation hearing last year. "We just have judges in this country."

    Political scientists have disagreed, finding that Republican appointees are markedly more likely to vote in a conservative direction than Democratic ones. Senate Republicans, by refusing to hold hearings for Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, seemed to agree.

    So has Mr. Trump. "We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!" he tweeted in March.

    But judicial ideology is one thing. The race and gender gaps identified by the new study present a different and difficult set of questions.

    Professor Berman said the study should prompt both research and reflection. "It only begins a conversation," he said, "about what sets of factors really influence judges at sentencing in modern times."



    13)  'OMG This Is Wrong!' Retired English Teacher Marks Up a White House Letter and Sends It Back

    By Christina Caron, May 27, 2018


    Yvonne Mason, a retired high school teacher, wrote notes about grammar and clarity on a letter she received from the White House. After marking up the letter, she mailed it back.Creditvia Yvonne Mason

    The notes were sprawled across a letter bearing President Trump's signature.

    In the top left corner: "Have y'all tried grammar & style check?"

    At the top right: "Federal is capitalized only when used as part of a proper noun."

    And toward the bottom: "OMG this is WRONG!"

    The letter, dated May 3 and printed on White House stationery, was addressed to Yvonne Mason, 61, a former high school English teacher who retired last year but hadn't quite left "grading-paper mode," she said on Sunday.

    So when she received the letter in the mail, she pulled out her go-to purple pen and started making corrections. Then she snapped a picture, posted the letter on Facebook and mailed it back to the White House.

    "It was a poorly worded missive," she said. "Poor writing is not something I abide. If someone is capable of doing better, then they should do better."

    Ms. Mason, a Democrat who lives in Atlanta, had written to Mr. Trump to ask that he visit each family of those who died in the shooting that killed 17 people at a school in Parkland, Fla., in February.

    "I had written to them in anger, to tell you the truth," she said. "I thought he owed it to these grieving families."

    The letter she received did not address her concerns, she said. Instead, it listed a series of actions taken after the shooting, like listening sessions, meetings with lawmakers and the STOP School Violence Act, a bill that would authorize $500 million over 10 years for safety improvements at schools but had no provisions related to guns.

    A sentence about a "rule" banning devices that turn legal guns into illegal machine guns was unclear. "Explain 'rule,'" she wrote.

    There was more, but she didn't correct everything. "I did not mention the dangling modifier," she said. "I focused mainly on mechanics."

    "Nation" was capitalized, so was "states." Ms. Mason circled both.

    However, a style manual for the federal government calls for capitalizing "Nation" and "Federal" when the words are used as a synonym for the United States. It says "State" should be capitalized when it is referring to the government or legislature. In letters from Presidents Barack Obamaand George W. Bush that constituents posted online, words like "Nation" and "President" are capitalized.

    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The letter stood in contrast to other letters she has received from politicians, Ms. Mason said. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, sent "beautiful" letters that struck a tone that "makes me more important than him," she said.

    She has written to several legislators in South Carolina, where she taught Advanced Placement English language and composition.

    Following up on a New Year's resolution, she has written a postcard to the White House every day since Jan. 1, she said.

    When she was teaching, she wanted to show her students that their voices mattered, even if they weren't old enough to vote, she said.

    "You're important. You need to be a part of this, you need to pay attention to what's going on," she said.

    When word spread about the corrected letter she had sent to the White House, Ms. Mason received hundreds of messages from people across the country — some positive (a lawyer in Houston wanted to know if she would be interested in looking over his appellate briefs) and others venomous (one person suggested she "must be a lonely bitter hag with a lot of cats").

    But Ms. Mason wasn't focusing on the negativity.

    "Let them have their day, bless their little hearts," she said. "They aren't changing my mind."

    Jason Bailey contributed reporting.










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