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



"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.



Tell the Feds: End Draft Registration

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


















Major George Tillery




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!








    1) Service Meant to Monitor Inmates' Calls Could Track You, Too

    By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, May 10, 2018




    Cory Hutcheson, a former Missouri sheriff, was charged with using a private service to track people's cellphones without court orders.CreditMississippi County Sheriff Office

    Thousands of jails and prisons across the United States use a company called Securus Technologies to provide and monitor calls to inmates. But the former sheriff of Mississippi County, Mo., used a lesser-known Securus service to track people's cellphones, including those of other officers, without court orders, according to charges filed against him in state and federal court.

    The service can find the whereabouts of almost any cellphone in the country within seconds. It does this by going through a system typically used by marketers and other companies to get location data from major cellphone carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, documents show.

    Between 2014 and 2017, the sheriff, Cory Hutcheson, used the service at least 11 times, prosecutors said. His alleged targets included a judge and members of the State Highway Patrol. Mr. Hutcheson, who was dismissed last year in an unrelated matter, has pleaded not guilty in the surveillance cases.

    As location tracking has become more accurate, and as more people carry their phones at every waking moment, the ability of law enforcement officers and companies like Securus to get that data has become an ever greater privacy concern.

    Securus offers the location-finding service as an additional feature for law enforcement and corrections officials, part of an effort to entice customers in a lucrative but competitive industry. In promotional packets, the company, one of the largest prison phone providers in the country, recounts several instances in which the service was used.

    In one, a woman sentenced to drug rehab left the center but was eventually located by an official using the service. Other examples include an official who found a missing Alzheimer's patient and detectives who used "precise location information positioning" to get "within 42 feet of the suspect's location" in a murder case.

    Asked about Securus's vetting of surveillance requests, a company spokesman said that it required customers to upload a legal document, such as a warrant or affidavit, and certify that the activity was authorized.

    "Securus is neither a judge nor a district attorney, and the responsibility of ensuring the legal adequacy of supporting documentation lies with our law enforcement customers and their counsel," the spokesman said in a statement. Securus offers services only to law enforcement and corrections facilities, and not all officials at a given location have access to the system, the spokesman said.

    Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, wrote in a letter this week to the Federal Communications Commission that Securus confirmed that it did not "conduct any review of surveillance requests." The senator said relying on customers to provide documentation was inadequate. "Wireless carriers have an obligation to take affirmative steps to verify law enforcement requests," he wrote, adding that Securus did not follow those procedures.

    The service provided by Securus reveals a potential weakness in a system that is supposed to protect the private information of millions of cellphone users. With customers' consent, carriers sell the ability to acquire location data for marketing purposes like providing coupons when someone is near a business, or services like roadside assistance or bank fraud protection. Companies that use the data generally sign contracts pledging to get people's approval — through a response to a text message, for example, or the push of a button on a menu — or to otherwise use the data legally.

    But the contracts between the companies, including Securus, are "the legal equivalent of a pinky promise," Mr. Wyden wrote. The F.C.C. said it was reviewing the letter.

    Courts are split on whether investigators need a warrant based on probable cause to acquire location data. In some states, a warrant is required for any sort of cellphone tracking. In other states, it is needed only if an investigator wants the data in real time. And in others no warrant is needed at all.

    The Justice Department has said its policy is to get warrants for real-time tracking. The Supreme Court has ruled that putting a GPS tracker on a car counts as a search under the Fourth Amendment, but this was because installing the device involved touching a person's property — something that doesn't happen when a cellphone is pinged.

    Phone companies have a legal responsibility under the Telecommunications Act to protect consumer data, including call location, and can provide it in response to a legal order or sell it for use with customer consent. But lawyers interviewed by The New York Times disagreed on whether location information that was not gathered during the course of a call had the same protections under the law.

    As long as they are following their own privacy policies, carriers "are largely free to do what they want with the information they obtain, including location information, as long as it's unrelated to a phone call," said Albert Gidari, the consulting director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society and a former technology and telecommunications lawyer. Even when the phone is not making a call, the system receives location data, accurate within a few hundred feet, by communicating with the device and asking it which cellphone towers it is near.

    Other experts said the law should apply for any communications on a network, not just phone calls. "If the phone companies are giving someone a direct portal into the real-time location data on all of their customers, they should be policing it," said Laura Moy, the deputy director of the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology.

    Mr. Wyden, in his letter to the F.C.C., also said that carriers had an obligation to verify whether law enforcement requests were legal. But Securus cuts the carriers out of the review process, because the carriers do not receive the legal documents.

    The letter called for an F.C.C. investigation into Securus, as well as the phone companies and their protections of user data. Mr. Wyden also sent letters to the major carriers, seeking audits of their relationships with companies that buy consumer data. Representatives for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon said the companies had received the letters and were investigating.

    "If this company is, in fact, doing this with our customers' data, we will take steps to stop it," said Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman. T-Mobile said it "would take appropriate action" if it found any misuse of data.

    AT&T also said it followed industry "best practices" in handling data, and Sprint said it shared location information only with customer consent or in response to lawful requests.

    Privacy concerns about Securus and location services were raised to the F.C.C. last year before the company's sale to Platinum Equity, a private equity firm, for about $1.5 billion. Lee Petro, a lawyer representing a group of inmate family members, wrote letters urging the commission to reject the deal, based in part on concerns about locating people who spoke with inmates over the phone.

    Securus, founded in Dallas in 1986, has marketed its location service as a way for officials to monitor where inmates placed calls. Securus has said this would block escape attempts and the smuggling of contraband into jails and prisons, and help track calls to areas "known for generating illegal activity."

    In an email, Securus said the service was based on cell tower information, not on phone GPS.

    Securus received the data from a mobile marketing company called 3Cinteractive, according to 2013 documents from the Florida Department of Corrections. Securus said that for confidentiality reasons it could not confirm whether that deal was still in place, but a spokesman for Mr. Wyden said the company told the senator's office it was. In turn, 3Cinteractive got its data from LocationSmart, a firm known as a location aggregator, according to documents from those companies. LocationSmart buys access to the data from all the major American carriers, it says.

    LocationSmart and 3Cinteractive did not respond to requests for comment.

    Securus said it got consent before tracking phone calls made from prisons, requiring those on the receiving end to press a button agreeing to the collection of the data.

    The location service has proved to be a selling point. Matthew Thomas, chief deputy of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office in Arizona, said that the department had been using Securus's location tool for about a month, and that it had already come in handy. "We use it for search-and-rescue operations, and at the jail they use it to maintain security and to put cases together," he said.

    Mr. Thomas said that only three people in the office could log in to the system, and that the office did monthly audits to ensure its proper use.

    About three weeks ago, Mr. Thomas said, someone mailed a letter containing methamphetamine to an inmate. By using the tool, Mr. Thomas said, investigators were able to link phone calls between the address and the inmate and make an arrest.

    For search-and-rescue cases, Mr. Thomas said, the Securus tool was more efficient than requesting data through the phone companies. "It makes it a lot faster response for our crew," he said.

    In such instances, the people being located cannot give consent, so the official is supposed to upload a warrant, affidavit or court order to justify the surveillance.

    Securus said that it had cooperated with officials investigating the case in Missouri.

    Mr. Hutcheson, the defendant in the surveillance case, was charged with forgery in state court last year and also by a federal grand jury in March over similar offenses related to the phone pinging. He was removed from his duties as sheriff in 2017 after an inmate's death, though he was not charged with a crime in that matter. The Highway Patrol officers who were allegedly tracked filed suit in federal court. Mr. Hutcheson's lawyer declined to comment on the litigation.

    Timothy Williams contributed reporting.



    2)  How Did Our Sports Get So Divisive?

    By Howard Bryant, May 12, 2018

    Mr. Bryant is the author of "The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism."


    "How did we get here?" I've gotten that question a lot recently, especially since the publication of my book on black athletes and the politics of patriotism at sporting events.

    Where is "here"? One point of "here" is Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid being praised for their courage but jobless for dissenting and filing collusion lawsuits against the N.F.L. Or "here" is, more generally, our era of the protesting black player at sporting events.

    In my mind, though, all that cannot be decoupled from what Sept. 11 has done to sports. What was once ostensibly a unifying moment in the country has helped transform sports, with flags and flyovers, kneeling and protests — into the most divided public spectacle this side of Congress.

    I think back to that Tuesday morning nearly 17 years ago. I was living with my fiancée on 49th Street and 10th Avenue in New York, Hell's Kitchen, covering the Yankees for The Bergen Record, when the World Trade Center fell. It changed many things. For any American born after, say, 1985, it became the most defining day of their life — their Pearl Harbor, their Cold War, their Vietnam and Watergate.

    But it also changed how sports were sold, packaged, perceived and marketed. In ballparks across America, in every sport, sports was a healing balm for a broken country. Particularly in New York during those early years after Sept. 11, Americans could look at one another and feel everything was going to be all right, could mourn the 343 firemen killedduring the attacks, the 37 Port Authority personnel and the 23 New York City police officers, and thank the ones who survived — but also get angry, and demand revenge on their attackers and obedience from their countrymen.

    It felt appropriate at the time. I remember that first Sunday driving from Hell's Kitchen to Chicago, where the Yankees were going to resume the regular season. Air travel was still shut down, and nobody wanted to fly anyway. I remember the guy at a rest stop in Indiana, a bearded trucker who probably never would have given me the time of day under normal circumstances but who looked at me while we were washing our hands in the men's room. He asked with soft eyes and a warm face, "You doing O.K.?" For the first time, I felt American. No qualifications. Just American.

    It all felt right, until temporary grieving turned into a permanent, commercial bonanza — and a chilling referendum on who gets to be American. But then it didn't feel right, like when in 2008, a New York police officer ejected a fan at a Red Sox-Yankees game after he left his seat during a seventh-inning-stretch recording of "God Bless America." Recently a high-ranking Red Sox official told me — nearly 17 years after the towers fell — that he really doesn't know why the team still plays "God Bless America," but he knows this: The team would "get killed" publicly if it was the first team to stop doing it.

    There was another major pivot when the Department of Defense surreptitiously began paying sports teams to embed the military in the game — paying to have servicemen strategically seated at games, surprise homecomings as in-game entertainment, American flags the size of the football field — as recruiting tools. The public wasn't told that the displays weren't organic supporters of the troops but a business transaction between military and team. The commercials followed.

    Why was everyone — from players to coaches to fans in authentic team gear — suddenly wearing camouflage at a sporting event?

    I asked Russel Honoré, the famed American three-star general, what it meant. I said that I didn't want my 12-year-old son secretly recruited by the Army at Fenway Park. I wanted him to be a kid and enjoy the ballgame. The general said: "Sorry, but we've got to man the force, and sports is a great place to find the warrior-athlete. … So hold on to them little SOBs for as long as you can because we need them."

    The general added that maybe some little kid attending a Dallas Cowboys game will see an F-14 fighter buzz the stadium and want to join the Army.

    The veterans are watching, too, and not all of them like what they see about the current state of sports. They, too, see that nearly two decades have passed since the towers fell, and all the props and touches designed to uplift a wounded country have become permanent. The American flag appears, and it is not a neutral symbol. It is there to keep you in line. It is fixed to the lapels of politicians and broadcasters, stitched into the uniforms of the referees and the players. It is a decal on the back of football and batting helmets. It appears stickered on the backboard glass on both baskets in N.B.A. arenas.

    I've heard from veterans who say they are horrified that a profit machine presents an orgy of mismatching military symbols at the stadium, like wearing plaid with stripes. On Memorial Day, the somber day of mourning the dead who fought for this country, Major League Baseball outfits its players in camouflage caps and jerseys, appropriate for active-duty military but not mourning the dead. Indeed, in past seasons, including when the Fourth of July approaches, the day of barbecues and fireworks, of baseball and celebrating the nation's birthday, teams like the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres have regularly taken the field in camouflage as if it's Veterans Day.

    The veterans said that they are grateful that it looks like Americans care about them. But they are also resentful of being used as shields to prevent any criticism of the country or the military. The soldiers know they serve so Americans can speak their minds, not be cowed into obedience.

    They also don't want to throw out the first pitch nearly as much as they want jobs and the Department of Veterans Affairs fixed.

    All of it is political, of course, but very little of it feels partisan, and certainly not when the veterans call. I talked to William Astore, once an Air Force Lt. Colonel, and Mark Zinno, same rank but of the Army, who live on opposite ends of the political spectrum yet watch the money being made off sports attaching itself to the military and reach the same conclusion: What are we doing?

    And yet, in recent years, what is all the talk about? Is it about the politicizing of sports, the appropriateness of it all? No. The focus is not on the selling of war to the sports fan or the runaway commercialism. There was also little talk about the scathing takedown of the entire paid patriotism scam in a joint oversight report in 2015 by the Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, who said they were personally offended the Milwaukee Brewers charged the Wisconsin Army National Guard nearly $50,000 to perform the national anthem during home games.

    No, the focus is on the black athletes, who have returned to the heritage of political activism of Jackie Robinson and Bill Russell, Tommie Smith and John Carlos. The fan attitude of "shut up and play" may be directed at the big, wealthy athlete, but you know it is also designed to shut all black people up. If the public can try to silence LeBron James (net worth about $400 million), what chance, then, to disagree does the average citizen have?

    On it goes, the perfectly scripted games, with Law Enforcement Appreciation Night in Dallas and anti-police protests outside a Kings game in Sacramento. Sports have been remade since Sept. 11, and nobody seems to care. People even acknowledge paid patriotism to be a deception, but have decided incongruously that it's a "harmless deception." Ultimately, I reached another conclusion: I no longer ask "How did we get here" but "How do we get out of here?" and do we even care enough to try?

    Howard Bryant is a contributor to ESPN and NPR Weekend Edition Saturday and the author of "The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism."



    3)  Breaking Up Immigrant Families: A Look at the Latest Border Tactic

    By Miriam Jordan, May 12, 2018


    Immigrants near McAllen, Tex., last month. The number of families making the journey over land to the United States has soared in recent months after subsiding last year.CreditLoren Elliott/Reuters

    Ramping up a promised "zero tolerance" immigration policy on the Southwest border, the Justice Department said that 11 members of a caravan of migrants from Central America were being criminally prosecuted for crossing the border illegally.

    At least four of those facing criminal charges had children taken from them and placed into separate custody, lawyers for the migrants said, highlighting one of the most contentious aspects of the Trump administration's new border policies: family separations.

    Hundreds of immigrant children have already been separated from their parents at the border since October, and the new policy calling for criminal prosecutions of all those who cross illegally promises to increase that number drastically.

    President Trump and his aides at the White House have pushed a family separation policy in order to deter Central American families from trying to cross the border illegally, according to administration officials. The number of families making the journey over land to the United States has soared in recent months after subsiding last year, infuriating the president, who had touted the initial decline as proof that his tough stance on immigration was succeeding.

    The new policy on criminal prosecutions became official on Monday when Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Arizona and California.

    "If you cross the Southwest border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It's that simple," Mr. Sessions said. "If you're smuggling a child, then we're going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you. If you don't want your child separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally."

    With few exceptions, the United States has historically treated immigration violations as civil, rather than criminal, offenses, and thus parents have not typically been separated from their children when they enter the legal system.

    "This is an additional punitive measure the administration is imposing on parents in an effort to frighten Central Americans, to discourage them from seeking asylum," said Reuben Cahn, executive director of the Federal Defenders of San Diego, who is representing several of the caravan migrants.

    Here's a look at what is happening to migrant families on the border, and what's behind it.

    Is there a new policy to separate parents from their children at the border?

    The administration did not announce a blanket policy to separate families.

    Mr. Sessions said his department would criminally prosecute everyone who illegally enters the United States. If a mother or father is with a child when apprehended for the crime of illegal entry, the minor must be taken from the parent. The child cannot remain with a parent in the criminal court system.

    Is the administration deliberately breaking up families?

    Administration officials say the aim is to protect the border and uphold the law through new measures to deter illegal immigration.

    Other motivations: Mr. Sessions has said the asylum system is overwhelmed with people making frivolous claims, and Mr. Trump, according to administration officials, had been demanding that families be broken up to stanch the flow of Central Americans to the border. The majority of apprehended migrants hail from Honduras and El Salvador, two countries wracked by violence. Children are often targeted for recruitment by gangs, and their families seek safe haven in the United States.

    Nearly 80,000 people came as members of family units between October, the beginning of the current fiscal year, and April. About 14,000 came in March; about 15,000 in April.

    When did the separations begin?

    Immigration lawyers and advocates who work at the border say that family separations began after Mr. Trump took office pledging to crack down on illegal immigration, though a very small number occurred during previous administrations.

    The practice gained momentum in the last two months, particularly in Texas, where many families from Central America seek to cross, they say.

    "What we saw in El Paso was a massive increase in cases of families being separated at the border," said Laura St. John, legal director of the Florence Project, a nonprofit that offers legal education to migrants in detention facilities.

    In California, public defenders said that they had not seen the practice until the recent caravan of Central Americans — the group shrank to 300 from 1,200 by the time it reached the border — grabbed headlines and drew the ire of Mr. Trump.

    "We began to hear rumors that separations were happening a couple months ago, but hadn't encountered any," said Mr. Cahn, adding that the caravan members were the first manifestation of the new policy in his region.

    Is anyone challenging the policy?

    The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking a nationwide injunction against the practice. The organization argues in its lawsuit that it is a violation of due process to separate parents and children simply as a means to deter illegal immigration. Only parents who are abusive or unfit to care for their children can legally have them taken away, the suit argues.

    In the lawsuit, filed before the administration announced the new practice, the A.C.L.U. accused the Homeland Security Department of unlawfully separating a Congolese woman and her 7-year-old daughter who had sought asylum.

    The pair turned themselves in to agents at a port of entry. After about five days, the child was taken away "screaming and crying, pleading with guards not to take her from her mother," according to the lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Diego. The child was sent to a shelter in Chicago.

    They remained apart for four months. After the A.C.L.U. sued, the authorities released the mother, performed a DNA test and reunited her with her child in March.

    Another plaintiff — a Brazilian woman who crossed with her 14-year-old son and asked for asylum — was prosecuted for the misdemeanor of illegal entry. She received 25 days of jail time in Texas; her son was sent to the Chicago facility. They were not reunited even after the mother returned to immigration custody. They have been apart for seven months.

    Are there other reasons that families are being separated?

    Logistics are a factor. The nation's two family detention centers, where families can remain together while awaiting disposition of their cases, have a combined capacity of just 2,700 people.

    The other option is to release parents and their children with orders to return to court for their immigration hearings. That has often been the practice until now.

    How many families have been separated so far?

    The government has acknowledged that about 700 children have been separated from their parents since October 1. But that number appears to be increasing.

    What is happening to the children?

    The government says that once it decides to detain a parent, it cannot release a minor without providing a guardian for that child. As a result, it sends children to federal facilities while the parent remains in the criminal justice system.

    A child can be released to another guardian, say, a family member, if one is available and can prove ties. But typically the child must first pass through a federal facility operated by the Health and Human Services Department.

    How long are they being separated for?

    Since the practice is still relatively new, it is hard to know. Members of the caravan who were recently detained have been separated from their children for about 10 days.

    Normally, a child is reunited with a parent once the parent has been released from detention.

    Immigration lawyers report that they have clients who have been kept apart from their children for four months or longer.

    Are the children suffering adverse impacts?

    Studies have shown that children who are separated from their parents can suffer from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as exhibit behavioral problems and poor educational outcomes.

    In an affidavit attached to the A.C.L.U. lawsuit, the heads of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Child Welfare League of America, among others, strongly urged the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, not to break up families.

    "Separation from family leaves children more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, no matter what the care setting. In addition, traumatic separation from parents creates toxic stress in children and adolescents that can profoundly impact their development," they said.

    Are some adults using children who are not family members to win favorable treatment?

    It is unclear how frequently that happens.

    However, government officials say that there is a perception that migrants with children are more likely to be released into the United States than others who try to enter the country illegally. This, they say, acts as a "pull factor" that encourages illegal immigration and puts children at risk of exploitation.

    Some abuses have been documented. Beginning in 2013, minors were fraudulently plucked from shelters by men who posed as friends or family, promised to provide them shelter and transport them to their immigration court hearings, then made them work on egg farms in Ohio.

    They were forced to toil long hours, live in dilapidated trailers and use their earnings to pay for their passage to the United States. Six people were later sentenced to federal prison for their participation in the scheme.

    Advocates have suggested that the government could identify potential smugglers by performing a DNA test on adults and any minors they claim to be their children, to verify whether they are related.



    4) My Home is Beit Daras: Our Lingering Nakba

    By Ramzy Baroud, May 15, 2018


    When Google Earth was initially released in 2001, I immediately rushed to locate a village that no longer exists on a map, which now delineates a whole different reality.

    Although I was born and raised in a Gaza refugee camp, and then moved to and lived in the United States, finding a village that was erased from the map decades earlier was not, at least for me, an irrational act. The village of Beit Daras was the single most important piece of earth that truly mattered to me.

    But I could only find it by estimation. Beit Daras was located 32-kilometers northeast of Gaza, on an elevated ground, perched gently between a large hill and a small river that seemed to never run dry.

    A once peaceful village, Beit Daras had existed for millennia. Romans, Crusaders, Mamluks and Ottomans ruled over and, even tried to subdue Beit Daras as in all of Palestine; yet they failed. True, each invader left their mark – ancient Roman tunnels, a Crusaders' castle, a Mamluk mail building, an Ottoman khan (Caravanserai) – but they were all eventually driven out. It wasn't until 1948 that Beit Daras, that tenacious village with a population of merely 3,000 was emptied from its population, and later destroyed.

    The agony of the inhabitants of Beit Daras and their descendants lingers on after all of these years. The tragic way that Beit Daras was conquered by invading Zionist forces has left behind blood stains and emotional scars that have never healed.

    Three battles were bravely fought by the Badrasawis, as the dwellers of Beit Daras are called, in defense of their village. At the end, the Zionist militias, the Haganah, with the help of British weapons and strategic assistance, routed out the humble resistance, which consisted mostly of villagers fighting with old rifles.

    The 'massacre of Beit Daras' that followed remains a subdued scream that pierces through the hearts of Badrasawis after all of these years. Those who survived became refugees and are mostly living in the Gaza Strip. Under siege, successive wars and endless strife, their Nakba – the catastrophic ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947-48 – has never truly ended. One cannot dispel the pain if the wound never truly heals.

    Born into a family of refugees in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp in Gaza, I took pride in being a Badrasawi. Our resistance has garnered us the reputation of being 'stubborn' and the uncorroborated claims of having large heads. We truly are stubborn, proud and generous, for Beit Daras was erased but the collective identity it has given us remained intact, regardless of whichever exile we may find ourselves.

    As I child, I learned to be proud from my grandfather: A handsome, elegant, strong peasant with unshakable faith. He managed to hide his deep sadness so well after he was expelled from his home in Palestine, along with his entire family. As he aged, he would sit for hours, between prayers, searching within his soul for the beautiful memories of his past. Occasionally, he would let out a mournful sigh, a few tears; yet he never accepted his defeat, or the idea that Beit Daras was forever gone.

    "Why bother to haul the good blankets on the back of a donkey, exposing them to the dust of the journey, while we know that it's a matter of a week or so before we return to Beit Daras?" he told his bewildered wife, Zeinab as they hauled their children to navigate an endless exile.

    I cannot pinpoint the moment when my grandfather discovered that his "good blankets" were gone forever, that all that remained of his village were two giant concrete pillars, and piles of cactus.

    It isn't easy to construct a history that, only several decades ago, was, along with every standing building of that village, blown to smithereens with the very intent of erasing it from existence. Most historic references written of Beit Daras, whether by Israeli or Palestinian historians, were brief, and ultimately resulted in delineating the fall of Beit Daras as just one among nearly 600 Palestinian villages that were often evacuated and then completely flattened during the war years. It was another episode in a more compounded tragedy that has seen the dispossession and expulsion of nearly 800,000 Palestinians.

    But for my family, it was much more than that. Beit Daras was our very dignity. Grandpas' calloused hands and leathery weathered skin attested to the decades of hard labor tending the rocky soil in the fields of Palestine. It was a popular pastime for my brothers and I to point to a scar on his body to hear a gut-busting tale of the rigors of farm-life.

    Later in life, someone would give him a small hand-held radio to glean the latest news and he would, from that moment, never be seen without it. As a child, I recall him listening to the Arab Voice news on that battered radio. It once had been blue but now had faded to white with age. Its bulging batteries were duct-taped to the back. Sitting with the radio up to his ear and fighting to hear the reporter amidst the static, grandpa listened and waited for the announcer to make that long-awaiting call: "To the people of Beit Daras: your lands have been liberated, go back to your village."

    The day grandpa died, his faithful radio was lying on the pillow close to his ear so that even then he might catch the announcement for which he had waited for so long. He wanted to comprehend his dispossession as a simple glitch in the world's consciousness that was sure to be corrected and straightened out in time.

    But it didn't. 70 years later, my people are still refugees. Not just the Badrasawis, but millions of Palestinians, scattered in refugee camps all across the Middle East. Those refugees, while still searching for a safe path that would take them home, often find themselves on yet another journey, another dusty trail, being pushed out time and again from one city to the next, from one country to another, even lost between continents.

    My grandfather was buried in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp cemetery, not in Beit Daras as he had wished. But he remained a Badrasawi to the end, holding so passionately onto the memories of a place that for him – for all of us – remain sacred and real.

    What Israel still fails to understand that the 'Right of Return' for Palestinian refugees is not merely a political or even a legal right to be overpowered by the ever-unfair status quo. It has longed surpassed that into a whole different realm. For me, Beit Daras is not just a piece of earth but a perpetual fight for justice that shall never cease, because the Badrasawis belong to Beit Daras and nowhere else.

    Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net



    5) 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.



    6)  What Is the Gaza Fence and Why Has It Set Off Protests Against Israel?

    By Megan Specia and Rick Gladstone, May 16, 2018




    Israeli soldiers on Tuesday on the Israeli side of the fence between Israel and Gaza.CreditThomas Coex/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    A snaking metal fence that divides the Gaza Strip from Israel has become the latest focal point in a generations-long conflict between Arabs and Jews in the area.

    It was along this fence that at least 60 Palestinians were killed and many hundreds wounded on Monday as thousands converged to protest what they call an arbitrarily enforced demarcation line by an occupier. As protesters rushed toward the fence, some throwing rocks or homemade fire bombs, Israeli soldiers fired live bullets, which the Israeli military said was done as a last resort.

    What are the fence's origins and purpose in separating Gaza, a 25-mile-long, five-mile-wide Mediterranean coastal enclave where nearly two million Palestinians live? Is the fence recognized as an international border? And how has Israel justified deadly force to stop mostly unarmed Palestinians from breaching it? Here are the basics:

    What is the fence?

    The fence is actually two parallel barriers built by the Israelis: a formidable one of barbed-wire within Gaza and a 10-foot-high metal "smart fence" packed with surveillance sensors along the Israel demarcation line. A restricted buffer zone as wide as 300 yards is between them. Israel has warned that people in the zone without authorization risk being subjected to deadly force.

    What is the history?

    Like other parts of the Holy Land, Gaza's history stretches back to ancient times. It was originally a Canaanite settlement and was variously ruled later by the Israelites, Egyptians, Romans and Ottomans, among others. The British seized the territory during World War I.

    Gaza's boundaries were established in a 1949 armistice agreement between Egypt and Israel, halting the conflict after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. During the Arab-Israeli war of that period, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced from their homes or fled, many to Gaza, and they and their descendants have been classified as refugees by the United Nations.

    Egypt occupied Gaza until the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, when Israel seized the territory.

    The first Gaza-Israel fence went up in 1994 as a way to control Palestinian movement after the Oslo Accords — the agreement aimed at ending the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and establishing a Palestinian state.

    Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, vacating all Israeli settlements and removing its soldiers. But Israel maintains control of the northern and eastern land boundaries — Egypt controls the southern crossing, known as Rafah — and Israel controls the air and sea approaches. Most Gaza-bound food, fuel and other aid flows through Israeli-controlled crossings.

    Like the Israelis, the Egyptians have in recent years restricted the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza. Both Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas, the Palestinian militant organization that denies Israel's right to exist, took control there more than a decade ago.

    The deprivations in Gaza have continually worsened. Most of its people rely on aid from the United Nations and other outside groups, and the inability of residents to freely leave has created what human rights advocates call an open-air prison.

    Why is the conflict flaring up now?

    The "March of Return," as Palestinians are calling the protest campaign that began in March, was intended by its creators to publicize global awareness that about two-thirds of Gaza residents are considered Palestinian refugees.

    The Israelis have accused Hamas, which Israel, the United States and several other countries consider a terrorist organization, of exploiting the "March of Return" to physically attack Israel.

    "Hamas has used 'nonviolent protests' to attempt to overrun Israel's border and kill its civilians, and it is Hamas that bears responsibility for the recent bloodshed," the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential lobby group in the United States, said Wednesday in countering critics of Israel's behavior.

    So is the fence a legal border?

    It is not recognized as a border like that between two sovereign nations. While Israel has created what it regards as a defensive buffer zone inside Gaza for security, Israel has not altered the original 1949 armistice line that delineated the territory.

    Supporters of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict foresee Gaza as part of a future Palestinian state. But for now, Gaza's status is complicated.

    "Gaza is not a Palestinian state," said David Makovsky, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "Part of the problem is that nobody wants Gaza."

    While Egypt could theoretically do more to ease the travails of Gaza's population, Mr. Makovsky said, "Egypt sees it as political quicksand."

    The Palestinians and United Nations human rights officials say Israel remains an occupying power in Gaza, making it subject to certain obligations to protect civilians under international law, because the Israelis exert effective control over most of Gaza's land, air and sea borders.

    Israel has rejected that argument, asserting that it voluntarily departed Gaza 13 years ago.

    "The political point is that each side of this conflict has their own narrative about the status of the Gaza Strip and Israel's role," said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Middle East Policy. "The argument is not whether this is a border. The argument is whether Israel is occupying Gaza."

    Do border protests violate Israel's sovereignty?

    Israel considers attempts by Palestinian protesters to approach the fence a threat to its sovereignty, and has framed its responses to these protests as a lawful defense of the Israeli border. The Israeli authorities have dropped leaflets over Gaza warning Palestinians to not approach the fence.

    "The Israel Defense Forces is determined to defend Israel's citizens and sovereignty against Hamas's attempts at terrorism under cover of violent riots," the leaflets read, a position reiterated by Ronen Manelis, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces. "A sovereign nation cannot allow this," he said.

    The question of whether the protesters threaten Israeli sovereignty is part of the broader dispute, Middle East scholars say.

    Nadia Abu El-Haj, co-director of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University, argued that Israel's own actions across the fence meant that it was not a border.

    "A border implies a place where one state's authority ends and another's begins," Dr. Abu El-Haj said. "Israel has never recognized the fence as a limit to its authority. Through closure and military incursions, Israel sustains its sovereign authority over the territory."

    Is deadly force at the fence defensible?

    While Israeli authorities have justified the military's use of deadly force, many international monitoring groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have condemned it. A number of countries at the United Nations have asked for an independent inquiry into the deaths.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that defending the border fence with lethal force was necessary.

    "I don't know of any army that would do anything differently if you had to protect your border against people who say, 'We're going to destroy you, and we're going to flood into your country,'" Mr. Netanyahu told CBS News.

    Other Israelis have said that if thousands of angry Palestinians breached the Gaza fence, the outcome would be far bloodier.

    The Israeli military maintains it is only targeting those instigating violence, and has sought to use nonlethal deterrents — including drones that drop tear gas — to counter the protests.

    American officials have backed Israel's actions. Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, said "Israel has a right to defend itself," while Nikki R. Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, said Israel had responded with "restraint."

    United Nations human rights officials have disputed that view. Michael Lynk, the special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, said the killings on Monday reflected a "blatant excessive use of force by Israel" and likened them to "an eye for an eyelash."

    Mr. Lynk said that protesters appeared to pose no credible threat to Israeli military forces on the Israeli side. Under humanitarian law, he said, the killing of unarmed demonstrators could amount to a war crime, and he added that "impunity for these actions is not an option."

    Jodi Rudoren contributed reporting.



    7) Philadelphia Man Freed After Serving 11 Years for Murder He Did Not Commit

    By Christine Hauser, May 16, 2018




    Dontia Patterson after being released from prison. "I'm just so grateful that finally — after all these years — someone listened to me," he said.CreditPennsylvania Innocence Project

    A Philadelphia judge has dropped first-degree murder charges against a man who spent 11 years in prison for a shooting he did not commit.

    Dontia Patterson was 17 years old when his friend Antwine Jackson was fatally shot on a city street outside a grocery store in January 2007, court documents show. Mr. Patterson, who lived nearby, called for help and asked people at the scene if they knew what had happened. But he was charged with murder and after two trials, sentenced to life in prison without parole.

    On Tuesday, the Philadelphia district attorney, Lawrence S. Krasner, filed a motion that said his office would not try Mr. Patterson a third time, and that evidence had been withheld during his previous trials, one of which had ended with a hung jury. Mr. Krasner requested the charges be dropped, and on Wednesday, Judge Kathryn Streeter Lewis of the Court of Common Pleas agreed.

    "I'm just so grateful that finally — after all these years — someone listened to me," Mr. Patterson said in a statement published by the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, whose investigation of the case helped lead the district attorney's office to re-examine it. "Since I was 17 I've been saying I'm innocent, and every day since my arrest."

    Mr. Krasner and Anthony Voci, who is in charge of the office's homicide unit, said in their motion that there was no physical evidence linking Mr. Patterson to the crime. "The Commonwealth will not retry a case against a man who is probably innocent and whose case is so lacking in integrity," they said.

    Key evidence was not presented at trial, the motion said, including a document containing information from a confidential source, who said Mr. Jackson's murder was the result of a turf battle by drug dealers and named three suspects.

    Two witnesses who identified Mr. Patterson had been standing about 120 feet away when Mr. Jackson was killed, the motion said. Other more credible witnesses were not called to testify, including the store owner, who knew Mr. Patterson and had told investigators he was not the person he saw shoot Mr. Jackson.

    Mr. Voci wrote in the motion that Mr. Patterson's conviction was "an egregious example of police and prosecutorial misconduct in hiding evidence helpful to the defense."

    "The case against Patterson was illogical," he wrote.

    Mr. Patterson was tried twice on the murder charges. In August 2008, a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. But in 2009, another jury convicted him of first-degree murder.

    The convictions on murder and weapons charges were vacated this past February, after the Innocence Project and lawyers working with them filed a petition, said Hayes Hunt, one of the lawyers.

    A new trial was granted on the murder charges, and in March, Mr. Patterson was allowed out of prison under electronic monitoring to await it, Mr. Hunt said. The motion from the district attorney's office said it decided to withdraw from that trial after its own investigation.

    Mr. Hunt said that Mr. Patterson was surrounded at Wednesday's hearing by dozens of family members, but not his 11-year-old daughter, who was taking a test at school. "It really was an emotional presentation for Dontia and his family to hear from the government that they believe he was innocent," Mr. Hunt said.

    "They took that ankle bracelet from around his ankles, and today he is literally after 11 years free," he added.

    Before Mr. Krasner took office earlier this year, he had promised to bring about a change in the culture of the district attorney's office, including a broad reorganization of its structure. Days after he was sworn in, he made good on the promise, asking 31 employees out of nearly 600 people who worked there to resign. One of his campaign promises had been to reduce the number of people behind bars, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.



    8)  Laborers on a 'Billionaires' Row' Tower Cheated of Wages, D.A. Says

    By James C. McKinley Jr., May 16, 2018




    The laborers were doing concrete work on the luxury Steinway Tower at 111 West 57th Street, a needlelike skyscraper set to open next year full of condominiums for some of the world's wealthiest people. But the company employing the $25-an-hour workers, the authorities said, was cheating them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages by purposely shorting their hours and failing to pay them overtime.

    The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said on Wednesday that the company, Parkside Construction, and its affiliates stole more than $1.7 million in wages over three years from about 520 workers at the tower and seven other high-rise buildings. The company also hid nearly $42 million in wages from state insurance officials to avoid paying millions in workers' compensation premiums.

    Many of the cheated workers were undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Ecuador, Mr. Vance said. When the workers complained, they were falsely told the money would be in their next check or were encouraged to find work elsewhere.

    At a news conference announcing the arrests, Mr. Vance said the victims were especially vulnerable to exploitation because they were not in unions and did not have immigration papers. "Often it's the very people who are tasked with building this great city who are the most vulnerable to fraud from their managers and employers," Mr. Vance said.

    Parkside Construction and its co-owners — Francesco Pugliese, 39, and Salvatore Pugliese, 46 — were charged with grand larceny, insurance fraud and scheme to defraud. Also charged in the scheme were Parkside's construction foreman, James Lyons, 54; its payroll manager, Yenny Duarte, 42; an outside accountant, Michael Dimaggio, 58; and the owner of a Michigan payroll company, Jerry Hamling, 57. The Pugliese family's companies made more than $100 million off the masonry and concrete contracts for the eight buildings.

    "This was a business model for these defendants," Mr. Vance said.

    Five of the six defendants appeared on Wednesday before Justice Gregory Carro in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. After pleading not guilty, they were released on bail. Mr. Hamling, who could not be reached on Wednesday for comment, is expected to appear in court on Monday.

    Scott Leemon, a lawyer for Parkside Construction, said the company denies the charges. "We have known about this investigation for over a year and look forward to showing the district attorney's office why they are wrong in filing these charges," he said.

    James Rogers, the state labor department's deputy commissioner for worker protection, said the arrests highlighted an underbelly to the construction boom in New York: the exploitation of immigrant construction workers to satisfy the greed of contractors.

    "These defendants were building some of the most expensive real estate in the world and the victims were low-wage workers, just scraping by," he said. Still, the defendants wanted more, Mr. Rogers said. "They wanted millions more and they stole those millions from New York State's most vulnerable workers."

    The condominiums in the Steinway Tower, a 1,428-foot tall building going up in an area known as "Billionaires' Row," start at $7 million and go up to $59 million for the most expensive penthouse, according to CityRealty.com, a real estate listings and research company. Condominiums on high floors are between $20 million and $30 million. All told, the developers expect to reap $1.45 billion from sales.

    The general contractor and developer for the building, JDS Development Group, was not charged in the indictments unsealed on Wednesday. Prosecutors said they had no evidence that officials at JDS were aware of the wage theft by Parkside and its affiliates. Mr. Vance said the investigation was continuing. A spokesman for JDS did not respond to messages left by a reporter.

    Prosecutors said Parkside Construction tracked workers' hours with face-recognition machines and with manual time sheets. But supervisors would write in fewer total hours next to the workers' names on printouts that were submitted to the outside payroll company, which cut the checks.

    Diana Florence, the assistant district attorney who oversees a construction-fraud task force, said the investigation started with a tip from a carpenters' union. The city's Department of Investigation played a large role in building the case, interviewing dozens of workers — many of whom were reluctant witnesses because of their immigration status — and executing four search warrants, said Mark G. Peters, the D.O.I. commissioner.

    The financial pain felt by the workers was significant, prosecutors said, with one laborer losing $50,000 over a three-year period.

    Labor organizers who have tried to unionize the Steinway Tower job site said workers have complained for months about payroll delays and about facing dismissal if they demanded payment.

    "There is a constant turnover of workers," said Reinaldo Torres, an organizer with the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 28. "There is so much worker abuse going on it's mind boggling."



    9)  More Fabric, More Money? British Retailer Is Accused of Charging 'Fat Tax'

    By Ceylan Yeginsu, May 16, 2018




    New Look said it was reviewing the prices of its plus-size collection "in a way which works best for our customers and our business."CreditChris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

    LONDON — Size is a sensitive subject in the clothing business. So when one of Britain's most popular and affordable clothing giants was found to charge more for plus-size clothing, it was accused of imposing a "fat tax" on women.

    The pricing by the store, New Look, revived a debate over whether the use of more fabric for the same outfit should logically cost more.

    The controversy erupted when a New Look customer, Maria Wassell, said she discovered that a pair of green-striped trousers cost 15 percent more in all sizes above 16 (the equivalent of a Size 12 in the United States), which are considered plus sizes in Britain. (Even the phrase "plus size" is problematic to some, who argue that the industry's labels are unrealistic.)

    Ms. Wassell, 43, a retail supervisor from Kent, in southeast England, also discovered that a T-shirt and dress in standard sizes were cheaper than identical versions in the plus-size section, according to the local news media.

    "It's like being discriminated against for being plus size when I'm only slightly bigger than average," she told The Sun newspaper. "The average size for a British woman is now a Size 16."

    She declared that the retailer was enforcing a "fat tax."

    Outraged social media users tossed in all sorts of comparisons: Should people with bigger feet be charged more for shoes? And, perhaps more to the point: Should petite people be charged less?

    Amanda Bowes, a British fashion designer for plus-size online retail outlets, called New Look's pricing criteria "harsh," and said that the more-fabric argument did not hold water.

    "Obviously it costs more to make plus-size clothing because of the amount of fabric used, but if the pricing metric is going to be based on size, then every size should be priced differently," she said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

    "If smaller-sized people aren't getting discounts, then plus-sized people shouldn't have to pay a surplus," she added. "We rarely see 'tall' and 'maternity' editions of clothing being priced differently. It's cruel and unfair to single out one body type."

    But Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, a charity that raises awareness about obesity, said it was reasonable to charge more money for larger clothing.

    "People should pay for the material/time required to manufacture sizes," he said in an email. He added that many smaller people "felt they should have discounts and asked why they should subsidize" people who wear bigger sizes. "A Size 10 should pay for a Size 10."

    Ms. Wassell said that when she contacted New Look — which is owned by the investment company Brait SE and has 393 stores in the United Kingdom — to ask about the different prices, she was told that while "some products appear similar, they may be slightly different."

    However, the company said in a statement to The New York Times on Wednesday that it was reviewing the pricing structure of its plus-size collection "in a way which works best for our customers and our business."

    In one New Look store in South London, most shoppers said they wouldn't have noticed the price differences if they hadn't been highlighted in the news media.

    "It's not a huge price difference, but I guess it's about the principle," said Madeline Moll, who said she used to shop from the plus-size section when she was larger. "Dressing in bigger sizes can be a sensitive issue for women. It's almost like the shops are trying to make a point by putting up the price. It's like they are saying, 'Lose some weight, love.' And that's just mean."

    New Look is not the only retailer to come under fire for pricing clothes according to size. In 2014, Old Navy was criticized for charging higher prices for plus-size clothing for women, but not for men.

    An online petition against the practice, which drew over 95,000 signatures, pointed out that "Old Navy's Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans cost $27 in a Size 6. The same jeans in a Size 26 cost $40."

    Old Navy refused to lower its prices, arguing that women's clothing had contoured waistbands that cost more to produce. Its parent company, Gap, relaxed the rules for the return of plus-size clothing and said it would create a customer panel to gather more insight.



















































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