Listen to 'The Daily': Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder?

By Michael Barbaro, May 30, 2018


Listen and subscribe to our podcast from your mobile deviceVia Apple Podcasts | Via RadioPublic | Via Stitcher

The sole survivor of an attack in which four people were murdered identified the perpetrators as three white men. The police ignored suspects who fit the description and arrested a young black man instead. He is now awaiting execution.

On today's episode:

• Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row at San Quentin State Prison in California for three decades.



Feds extend deadline for public comments on future draft

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

They need to hear from us!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first real meaningful opportunity for a national debate 

about the draft in decades . . .

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

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





Why I Stand with Survivors of Empire

Dear Bonnie,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,

Anya de Marie

Project Manager, Courage to Resist

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


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

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



Incarceration Nation

Emergency Action Alert:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read statements from the reps: 

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



"There Was a Crooked Prez"

By Dr. Nayvin Gordon

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

He found a crooked lawyer upon a crooked isle,

They bought a crooked election which caught a crooked mission,

And they both lived together in a little crooked prison.

April 28, 2018

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













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

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

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

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

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

Onward in divestment,

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

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



October 20-21, 2018

Cindy Sheehan and the Women's March on the Pentagon

A movement not just a protest

By Whitney Webb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Different wings of the same warbird

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

In response, Sheehan stated that: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MPN News, February 20, 2018






Herman Bell is FREE




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

Member vote at Convention in favor of changing the name

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

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

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

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

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

Until we celebrate the last veteran,

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

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

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


















Major George Tillery




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

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

Sex for Lies and Manufactured Testimony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:

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

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

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

Major Tillery and family


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

    Go to JPay.com;

    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:

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

    Call: 215-686-8000 or

    Write to:

    Major Tillery AM 9786

    SCI Frackville

    1111 Altamont Blvd.

    Frackville, PA 17931

    For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org


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

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



    Free Leonard Peltier!

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

    By Leonard Peltier

    Art by Leonard Peltier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In the Spirit of Crazy Horse


    Leonard Peltier

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

    —San Francisco Bay View, February 6, 2018

    Write to:

    Leonard Peltier 89637-132 

    USP Coleman I 

    P.O. Box 1033 

    Coleman, FL 33521

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



    Artwork by Kevin Cooper



    Reality's trial

    is postponed 

    until October 15th.

    That's 500 Days in Jail,

    Without Bail!


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

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

    One supporter's excellent report

    on the details of Winner's imprisonment

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

    "*Guilty Until Proven Innocent*

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

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

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

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

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

     Want to take action in support of Reality?

    Step up to defend our whistleblower of conscience ► DONATE NOW

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


    @standbyreality (Twitter)

     Friends of Reality Winner (Facebook)




    From Clifford Conner

    Dear friends and relatives

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Yours in struggle and solidarity,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





    Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 

    Charity for the Wealthy!

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

    By Jake Johnson, December 18, 2017











    Puerto Rico Still Without Power

















    Addicted to War:

    And this does not include "…spending $1.25 trillion dollars to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and $566 billion to build the Navy a 308-ship fleet…"









    Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:

    Love this guy!






    1) A Woman Dedicated to Saving Lives Loses Hers in Gaza Violence

    By Iyad Abuheweila and Isabel Kershner, June 2, 2018


    Razan al-Najjar, 20, was trying to help an injured protester near the border fence when she was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers, witnesses say. Last month, she spoke to The Times about the challenges she faced as a female medical volunteer.Published On June 1, 2018CreditImage by Yousur Al-Hlou

    KHUZAA, Gaza Strip — She had become a fixture at the weekly protests along the fence dividing the Gaza Strip from Israel, a young woman in a white paramedic's uniform rushing into harm's way to help treat the wounded.

    As a volunteer emergency medical worker, she said she wanted to prove that women had a role to play in the conservative Palestinian society of Gaza.

    "Being a medic is not only a job for a man," Razan al-Najjar, 20, said in an interview at a Gaza protest camp last month. "It's for women, too."

    An hour before dusk on Friday, the 10th week of the Palestinian protest campaign, she ran forward to aid a demonstrator for the last time.

    Israeli soldiers fired two or three bullets from across the fence, according to a witness, hitting Ms. Najjar in the upper body. She was pronounced dead soon after.

    Ms. Najjar was the 119th Palestinian killed since the protests began in March, according to Gaza health officials. Hers was the only fatality registered on Friday.

    The Israeli military said Saturday that the case would be examined.

    The military said it "has repeatedly warned civilians against approaching the fence and taking part in violent incidents and terrorist attacks and will continue to act professionally and determinedly to protect Israeli civilians and Israeli security infrastructure."

    The weeks of protests, called the Great Return March, have largely been orchestrated by Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza. They aim to draw attention to the 11-year blockade by Israel and Egypt of the coastal territory and to press refugee claims to lands lost when Israel was established in 1948.

    Most of those killed during the protests have been shot by Israeli snipers, half of them in a single day, May 14, the peak of the campaign. Human rights groups have accused Israel of using excessive force against the mostly unarmed protesters.

    On Friday, a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel for using "excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force" against Palestinians failed when it was vetoed by the United States.

    Israel has defended its use of live fire, saying it is protecting its border and the nearby communities against a mass breach of the fence, and that Gaza militants have been using unarmed civilian protesters as cover to infiltrate Israeli territory, lay explosives and attack Israeli soldiers and civilians.

    The conflict exploded into a day of cross-border fighting on Tuesday, when Islamic militants in Gaza fired scores of mortar shells and short-range rockets into southern Israel. Israeli jets bombed at least 65 military sites across Gaza.

    On Friday, the protests resumed. Thousands of Palestinians took part in what the Israeli military described as violent riots at five locations along the security fence, burning tires and throwing stones. One Israeli army vehicle was fired on and Palestinians planted a grenade that exploded on the Israeli side of the fence, the military said.

    This was the scene that Ms. Najjar dashed into in her white coat to tend to an elderly man who had been hit in the head by a tear-gas canister, according to a witness, Ibrahim al-Najjar, 30, a relative of Ms. Najjar's.

    Other witnesses and the Gaza Health Ministry offered a slightly different version of events, saying that Ms. Najjar and other paramedics were walking toward the fence with their arms raised on their way to evacuate injured protesters when she was shot in the chest.

    Ms. Najjar was a resident of Khuzaa, a farming village near the border with Israel, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Her father, Ashraf al-Najjar, had a shop that sold motorcycle parts, which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike during the 2014 war between Israel and the militant group, he said. He has since been unemployed.

    The eldest of six children, Ms. Najjar did not score well enough in her high school exams to attend university, Mr. Najjar said. Instead, she trained for two years as a paramedic at the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis and became a volunteer of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, a nongovernmental health organization.

    Mr. Najjar, 44, said his daughter rose before dawn on Friday to eat and pray before the start of the daily, sunrise-to-sunset Ramadan fast. That was the last time he saw her.

    When we met her at a protest camp in Khan Younis last month, she said her father was proud of what she did.

    "We have one goal," she said, "to save lives and evacuate people. And to send a message to the world: Without weapons, we can do anything."

    On Friday, she was less than 100 yards from the fence when she was bandaging the man struck by the tear gas canister, Ibrahim al-Najjar said. The man was taken away in an ambulance, and other paramedics tended to Ms. Najjar, who was suffering the effects of the tear gas.

    Then shots rang out, and Ms. Najjar fell to the ground.

    Ibrahim carried her away, with the help of two others, and accompanied her in the ambulance.

    "Razan was not shooting," Ibrahim said. "Razan was saving souls and treating the wounded."

    She arrived at a field hospital in serious condition, the hospital manager, Dr. Salah al-Rantisi, said. She was then transferred to the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis, where she died in the operating room.

    Ms. Najjar was one of the first medical volunteers at the Khan Younis protest camp, and particularly relished the idea that a woman could do that work.

    "In our society women are often judged," she said. "But society has to accept us. If they don't want to accept us by choice, they will be forced to accept us because we have more strength than any man.

    "The strength that I showed the first day of the protests, I dare you to find it in anyone else."

    Iyad Abuheweila reported from Khuzaa, Gaza Strip, and Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem.



    2) U.S. Vetoes U.N. Resolution on Gaza, Fails to Win Second Vote on its Own Measure

    By Rick Gladstone, June 1, 2018


    The United States on Friday voted against a United Nations Security Council resolution to protect Palestinians and condemn Israel, which Ambassador Nikki R. Haley called "grossly one-sided."CreditMary Altaffer/Associated Press

    A bitter divide over who is to blame for scores of Palestinian deaths from Israeli fire at protests near Gaza's border shifted Friday to the United Nations, where the United States vetoed a measure backed by Arab countries to protect Palestinians and condemn Israel.

    Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, described the measure, a United Nations Security Council resolution drafted by Kuwait, as one-sided. She accused the measure's authors of inexplicably absolving Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza and organized the protests.

    The United States, a permanent Security Council member with veto power, was the sole no vote on the measure, which was enough to defeat it. Ten members voted in favor and four abstained.

    A separate American resolution proposed by Ms. Haley, which would have condemned Hamas for the Gaza violence, failed to gain any support from fellow Council members.

    Ms. Haley said the votes showed that the Security Council majority "was willing to blame Israel, but unwilling to blame Hamas, for violence in Gaza."

    "Further proof was not needed, but it is now completely clear that the U.N. is hopelessly biased against Israel," she said in a statement.

    While the votes were largely symbolic, they offered some insight into the challenges the United States is facing diplomatically over what critics call its unbridled support of Israel's side in the protracted conflict with the Palestinians.

    Kuwait's draft resolution condemned the use of "excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians" and demanded a halt to such actions. It made no mention of Hamas, which Israel, the United States and several other countries consider a terrorist organization.

    In the vote for the American resolution, in which the United States was the sole yes vote, three members voted against it and 11 abstained.

    A Security Council resolution requires a minimum of nine yes votes, with no vetoes by its permanent members, for passage.

    About 120 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli forces along the fence that divides Israel from Gaza since the protests erupted at the end of March inside Gaza, an impoverished Mediterranean enclave where nearly two million Palestinians live.

    A 21-year-old Palestinian health worker was killed on Friday, the Gaza Health Ministry said. No Israelis have been killed during the protests.

    Israel has contended that its military is acting lawfully to stop the protesters from breaching the fence, and it has rejected accusations that soldiers have used deadly force needlessly. The Israelis have also accused Hamas and its militant affiliates in Gaza of using the protests as cover for sending attackers into Israel.

    The United States has backed Israel completely on the Gaza issue.

    The resolution by Kuwait, the only Arab member of the Security Council, called for the "consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection" of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and for a halt to "the use of any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force" by the Israeli military.

    Ms. Haley, an outspoken supporter of Israel at the United Nations, called the draft a "grossly one-sided approach" that did not acknowledge any responsibility by Palestinian militants for the violence.

    The diplomatic jousting after the votes at the Security Council meeting displayed the yawning divide and dual narratives of the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

    Riyad H. Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador, expressed thanks that the Kuwaiti resolution would have passed by a lopsided margin had it not been for the United States veto.

    Addressing the measure's supporters, Mr. Mansour said, "You have rejected the might-over-right strategy, sending a clear message that no one is exempt from the law — not even Israel."

    Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador, denounced Security Council members who he said had "stood in solidarity with the terrorists of Hamas" in supporting Kuwait's resolution and rejecting the American one. "This double standard against Israel will not stand," he said.

    Addressing the Kuwait delegation and others who helped draft its resolution, Mr. Danon said: "You couldn't bring yourself to mention Hamas even once. Don't you know how to spell it?"

    Under the Trump administration, the United States has become increasingly isolated at the United Nations when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    President Trump's decision to relocate the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed holy city of Jerusalem was met with widespread international condemnation.

    The Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state, have been especially critical of the American Embassy relocation and have said the United States can no longer be regarded as an impartial broker of any peace negotiation.



    3)  Editorial: Leave no evidence behind in Cooper case

    Chronicle Editorial Board, May 31, 2018


    Protesters opposed to the execution of Kevin Cooper in Larkspur in 2004. Thanks to media attention and a new statement by U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, there is new pressure on Gov. Jerry Brown to allow a new DNA test.

    In 1983, Kevin Cooper was convicted of a brutal quadruple murder in San Bernardino County and sentenced to death.

    In the years since, the chain of events that led to his conviction has come under fire from law enforcement veterans, a U.S. federal judge, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and even some of the original jurors for his trial.

    "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man," wrote Judge William Fletcher, of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a blistering dissent against the court's decision not to hear Cooper's appeal.

    The discrepancies in the Cooper case are deeply disturbing. Yet all Cooper has asked for is a reprieve of his execution and a new investigation into his case, including modern DNA testing.

    There is reason to believe a new investigation could clear him of the murders.

    There is no reason for Gov. Jerry Brown to continue holding off on ordering a new test.

    The murders for which Cooper was convicted are the stuff of nightmares. Doug and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter, and an 11-year-old house guest were hacked to death with a hatchet in their home in Chino Hills. Cooper, who had escaped from a nearby prison where he was serving a burglary sentence and was hiding in a home close by, looked like an obvious suspect.

    Yet the then-8-year-old Josh Ryen, who survived being stabbed in throat, originally communicated to a social worker that he'd seen three or four white men attacking him and his family. Cooper is black.

    Another potential witness told officers that her boyfriend, a convicted murderer named Lee Furrow, had clothes and a hatchet that matched descriptions of items at the murder scene. Police destroyed a pair of Furrow's bloody coveralls without testing them.

    Other problems with the case, including questionable forensics, all point to the need for new testing.

    Cooper came within hours of execution in 2004. One of the major reasons he's still alive is an unrelated court challenge to the state's death penalty procedures. Legal experts are anticipating a resumption of California's death penalty soon.

    Our editorial board has long arguedthat reasonable doubts about the Cooper case should stop the state from executing him.

    There's new pressure on Gov. Brown to allow advanced testing, thanks to California's presumed resumption of the death penalty and to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who recently pored over the case and argued that Cooper probably was framed by the San Bernardino sheriff's office.

    Last week, California's Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, who ignored Cooper's pleas when she was state attorney general, came out in favorof new DNA testing.

    The governor should do the same.

    Brown's office says the case is very complex, which it is. The governor received a clemency petition from Cooper's lawyers in February 2016, and his office says it's under review.

    The governor has had years to make a decision on this case. Time is running out.

    Brown has been proudly opposed to the death penalty for decades. If his opposition is sincere, he'll stop hesitating. What's at stake is the life of a man who could be innocent.



    4) Roseanne's Tweet Wasn't a Bad Joke, It Was Textbook Racism

    By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, June 2, 2018


    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (photo: Getty Images)

    The NBA hall of famer and THR contributing editor asks if viewers are really better off with the hit ABC show being canceled. 

    t Hogwarts, student wizards make snails disappear by incanting "Evanesco!" In Hollywood, alt-right wizard Roseanne Barr incanted a racially insensitive and intellectually dumb tweet that made vanish her dignity and career, a high-rated TV show and the livelihoods of hundreds of people.

    ABC quickly reacted to her post by cancelling Roseanne, to the praise of many. Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, which owns the network, personally phoned former adviser to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett, whom Roseanne had attacked in her insulting tweet, to assure her that there would be "zero tolerance" for these kinds of statements.

    But, as much as I applaud when corporate America ignores the bottom line to fight racism, I can't help but wonder when zero tolerance becomes intolerance. Jarrett described these events as a "teaching moment," which means we need to figure out just what lesson we're trying to teach and what the best way is to get that point across.

    This is not in defense of Roseanne. There isn't one. We give artists a lot of leeway when it comes to what some might deem offensive speech because that's the point of free speech. She continues to have the right to say whatever she wants. But Disney and ABC are not obligated to suffer the consequences of popular outrage over her speech or offer tacit support of her dimwitted opinions by continuing to employ her.

    In her original tweet, Roseanne said, "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj." In her apology, Roseanne claimed she was making a bad joke: "I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me — my joke was in bad taste."

    The Bad-Taste Joke defense just doesn't work in this case. You can't have read a book or newspaper, watched a movie or a television show, or just lived in America for the past 200 years without knowing that any reference to an African-American and an ape is textbook racism. Also, her odd, inaccurate and deliberately inflammatory reference to the Muslim Brotherhood to her average Twitter follower will seem like a slam to all Muslims. Roseanne could claim ignorance of all this, but then her ignorance of facts, politics, news, history, art, social issues and pop culture would be so overwhelming as to render her intellectually comatose. This isn't liberals curtailing free speech, it's Americans rejecting hate speech.

    Should the show have been canceled? I don't know yet because I usually need some time to process information and think through all the consequences. My immediate reaction, like every person of color, is to punish her by taking away her show. Disney and ABC decided within hours of the tweet to cut off the rotting appendage before it infected the rest of the body.

    On the other hand, Roseanne is a very good show. Ironically, it's one of the most liberal shows on TV, with a clear agenda of tolerance and compassion. To punish Roseanne, we've removed the louder, smarter, more influential voice of the show itself. Roseanne's tweets may give solace to other racists, but they have no real impact in changing minds. The show, which reaches millions, can affect people by showing tolerance and compassion on a weekly basis.

    So, are we better off? Was there ever an option of firing Roseanne and continuing the show without her? There is precedent: Two and a Half MenThe OfficeLaverne & ShirleyCheers; and even Valerie, which continued after star Valerie Harper left.

    Here's another teaching moment. Recently, Jason Bateman apologized for "mansplaining" in defense of what Jessica Walter called Jeffrey Tambor's verbal harassment during the making of Arrested Development. However, a few days later, Bateman appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to tell a funny story about a minor traffic crash he was in with Will Arnett. During the entirety of telling the story, he continued to refer to Arnett as a woman because Arnett acted frightened and weak after the accident. Bateman was clearly joking and meant no harm, but there is harm when your idea of insulting someone is to say they are weak like women.

    That perpetuates a negative stereotype to millions of viewers. Most women would feel demeaned by the joke and if they weren't, it's because of a lifetime of similar jokes. It baffles me, though, that there wasn't a peep about it from zero-tolerance Hollywood. Should Bateman be fired? Should the show be canceled? No. Everyone makes boneheaded comments they regret during interviews, myself included. Bateman is one of my favorite performers. I've seen most his movies and I've written glowingly about his Netflix series Ozark being one of my favorite shows. His comments to Colbert are a teaching moment for him to be more sensitive and a learning moment for the rest of us to think before we glibly joke in a way that enforces harmful stereotypes.

    In professional sports, when players egregiously break the rules, they are fined a dollar amount equal to their infraction. The entire team is not disbanded. Perhaps Hollywood needs a similar system. They could establish an advisory board of respected men and women in the business that examines charges of racism or sexual misconduct and makes a recommendation to whatever entertainment organization that is appropriate. The organization would be under no obligation to follow the board's recommendations. Monetary fines could be donated to support groups that were attacked or offended. This way the punishment is less blunt object and more surgical. It is also more consistent and flexible in determining the difference between zero tolerance and intolerance.

    The past year has been a lesson in Greek tragedy as arrogance and hubris have destroyed so many powerful and even a few beloved celebrities. Roseanne is the latest but probably not the last to choke on her own bile. But it is also a lesson in how we react to such people. We have to make sure our righteous swift sword enforces justice rather than wounds it. "Evanesco!" to Roseanne Barr but not necessarily to Roseanne.



    5) An American 13-Year-Old, Pregnant and Married to Her Rapist

    By Nicholas Kristof, June 1, 2018


    Dawn Tyree in her fifth-grade class photo in 1983, the year a family friend started to sexually abuse her.CreditCourtesy of Dawn Tyree

    Dawn Tyree was 11 years old when a family friend began to molest her. A bit more than a year later, she became pregnant from these rapes, and her parents found out what had been going on. But they didn't go to the police; instead, they found another solution.

    "It was decided for me that I would marry him," Tyree recalled.

    So Tyree, then 13, was married to her rapist, then age 32. She became one of the thousands of underage American girls who are married each year, often sacrificing their futures to reduce embarrassment to their parents. Statutory rape is thus sanctioned by the state as marriage, and the abuser ends up not in handcuffs but showered with wedding gifts.

    Our State Department protests child marriage in Africa and Asia (worldwide, a girl 14 or younger is married every 11 seconds, according to Save the Children), but every state in America allowed child marriages. That has finally changed. Last month Delaware became the first state to ban all child marriages, without exception.

    "This is a historic moment for women and girls, where we're finally ending this relic from a sexist past that is destroying girls' lives," said Fraidy Reiss, who runs an organization, Unchained at Last, that fights child marriage. "It shouldn't have been this difficult."

    One study by Unchained at Last estimated that there were nearly a quarter-million child marriages in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010.

    Last year I wrote about Sherry Johnson, a Florida woman who had been married at the age of 11 to her rapist. After that article, many readers wrote to me saying that my facts were wrong and that their state had a minimum age of 18 for marriage.

    Sadly, the facts were right. Yes, states set a minimum age of 18, but they also allow exceptions, such as with the approval of parents or a court, or when a girl is pregnant. Indeed, 20 states don't set any minimum statutory age for marriage, according to the Tahirih Justice Center's Forced Marriage Initiative.

    That column about child marriage, along with other publicity and heroic efforts of many activists, prodded legislators to re-examine the issue, but the strongest opposition to a change has come from conservatives who argue that a pregnant girl should be able to marry the unborn child's father. The idea is that such a marriage will avert an abortion, or at least increase the prospect that the child is raised by a married couple rather than by a struggling single parent.

    I understand the goal. But in practice, these marriages involving child brides often don't succeed and frequently lead to marriages between a young girl and her older rapist.

    That's what happened with Tyree, whose marriage was in 1985. She said the abuse began when she was in the fifth grade in California and her parents moved to Texas, leaving her behind to be looked after by a family friend, in effect a male nanny, who soon took advantage of her. "My abuser convinced me daily that I was old enough to be in a sexual relationship, and that other adults would not understand," she said.

    She kept the secret until she became pregnant. At that point, her parents were upset — presumably at the rapist, but also at the prospect of scandal. "My dad is conservative, so abortion was not an option," she recalled, and she said everyone told her that her only path was marriage.

    "We went to the county courthouse, and a judge asked if I wanted to be married," Tyree remembered. "My answer was 'yes.' For a couple of weeks, I'd been told that marriage was best for me and that I needed to tell the judge that."

    Tyree missed seventh and eighth grades because of the pregnancy and the birth of her son, and because another child, a daughter, soon followed. Tyree became concerned that her husband was a pedophile who might prey on her children, so the marriage lasted just three years; at age 16 Tyree found herself a single mom.

    In such cases, a bride can be coerced even if she isn't beaten. "I was very scared and confused, and I wanted to keep my family happy," she told me. "Being unwed with child would have been embarrassing to the family. I wanted to keep the peace."

    Yet she was blunt about what happened: "The marriage was a way to cover up the rape. The marriage was a way to keep me from being an unwed teen mother. The marriage was a way to avoid any child services investigation. The marriage was a way to avoid child neglect charges against my parents. The marriage was a way to keep my husband out of prison."

    Some say that they oppose marriages at 13 but not at 17, and it's true that some underage marriages work out fine. I grew up in rural Oregon, where one of my neighbors was a devoted wife who had married at 16.

    Juliet was 13 when Romeo courted her (although that didn't work out so well). But marriage often ends a girl's education, and when something goes wrong, a 16- or 17-year-old wife faces particular difficulties: She cannot flee to a domestic violence shelter, which typically will not take anyone under 18, and in some states, an underage girl fleeing an abusive marriage is legally a runaway.

    Marriage laws are mostly a matter for the states, but there is room for federal action. American girls in immigrant families are sometimes pressured to marry a distant relative abroad as a way of bringing him to the United States, and it should be a simple matter to ban spouse visas unless both parties were 18 at the time of the marriage.

    "It's degrading to let teenagers marry; it's not a beautiful thing," Sonora Fairbanks, now 39, told me, and she knows what she's talking about: She was married when she was 16 to a man more than 10 years older.

    Fairbanks was raised in a deeply Christian family, home-schooled and not allowed to date. She said her parents began talking to her about marrying her future husband when she was 15, partly for her to avoid teenage wildness, and she went along with it because she felt stifled and thought the only way to escape was through marriage. Oh, and she was eager to discover sex. "I was a typical horny teenager," she explained. (Fairbanks's marriage turned poisonous and eventually disintegrated.)

    It's frustrating that legislators cling to archaic marriage laws linked to so much abuse; at Unchained at Last, the spreadsheet listing marriage laws by state is labeled "BYHAWS," short for Banging Your Head Against the Wall Spreadsheet. But now, with Delaware leading, it seems the wall may finally be giving way.

    "We finally have one state that shows us that it's possible," Reiss told me. "One state down, 49 to go."



    6) Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused

    A confidential Justice Department report found the company was aware early on that OxyContin was being crushed and snorted for its powerful narcotic, but continued to promote it as less addictive.

    By Barry Meier, May 29, 2018


    The headquarters of Purdue Pharma in Stamford, Conn. Federal prosecutors said the company knew of "significant" abuse of OxyContin soon after it came on the market, but hid that information.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

    Purdue Pharma, the company that planted the seeds of the opioid epidemic through its aggressive marketing of OxyContin, has long claimed it was unaware of the powerful opioid painkiller's growing abuse until years after it went on the market.

    But a copy of a confidential Justice Department report shows that federal prosecutors investigating the company found that Purdue Pharma knew about "significant" abuse of OxyContin in the first years after the drug's introduction in 1996 and concealed that information.

    Company officials had received reports that the pills were being crushed and snorted; stolen from pharmacies; and that some doctors were being charged with selling prescriptions, according to dozens of previously undisclosed documents that offer a detailed look inside Purdue Pharma. But the drug maker continued "in the face of this knowledge" to market OxyContin as less prone to abuse and addiction than other prescription opioids, prosecutors wrote in 2006.

    Based on their findings after a four-year investigation, the prosecutors recommended that three top Purdue Pharma executives be indicted on felony charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, that could have sent the men to prison if convicted.

    But top Justice Department officials in the George W. Bush administration did not support the move, said four lawyers who took part in those discussions or were briefed about them. Instead, the government settled the case in 2007.

    Prosecutors found that the company's sales representatives used the words "street value," "crush," or "snort" in 117 internal notes recording their visits to doctors or other medical professionals from 1997 through 1999.

    The 120-page report also cited emails showing that Purdue Pharma's owners, members of the wealthy Sackler family, were sent reports about abuse of OxyContin and another company opioid, MS Contin.

    "We have in fact picked up references to abuse of our opioid products on the internet," Purdue Pharma's general counsel, Howard R. Udell, wrote in early 1999 to another company official. That same year, prosecutors said, company officials learned of a call to a pharmacy describing "OxyContin as the hottest thing on the street — forget Vicodin."

    Mr. Udell and other company executives testified in Congress and elsewhere that the drug maker did not learn about OxyContin's growing abuse until early 2000, when the United States attorney in Maine issued an alert. Today, Purdue Pharma, which is based in Stamford, Conn., maintains that position.

    The episode remains relevant as lawmakers and regulators struggle to stem a mounting epidemic that involves both prescription opioids and, increasingly, illegal opioid compounds like heroin and counterfeit forms of fentanyl. President Trump has declared the problem a public health emergency.

    Over the past two decades, more than 200,000 people have died in the United States from overdoses involving prescription opioids. States and cities continue to file a wave of lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers and distributors.

    [Read about how prosecutors are increasingly treating people who overdose as victims — and friends, spouses and siblings as their killers.]

    A spokesman for Purdue Pharma, Robert Josephson, declined to comment on the allegations in the report but said the company was involved in efforts to address opioid abuse.

    "Suggesting that activities that last occurred more than 16 years ago are responsible for today's complex and multifaceted opioid crisis is deeply flawed," he said in a statement.

    In 2007, Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to a felony charge of "misbranding" OxyContin while marketing the drug by misrepresenting, among other things, its risk of addiction and potential to be abused. Three executives — the company's chief executive, Michael Friedman; its top medical officer, Dr. Paul D. Goldenheim; and Mr. Udell, who died in 2013 — each pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor "misbranding" charge that solely held them liable as Purdue Pharma's "responsible" executives and did not accuse them of wrongdoing. The company and the executives paid a combined $634.5 million in fines and the men were required to perform community service.

    The head of the Justice Department's criminal division at the time, Alice S. Fisher, did not respond to emails seeking comment about the decision not to pursue indictments. That decision followed meetings with a Purdue Pharma defense team whose advisers included Rudolph W. Giuliani, a onetime United States attorney and former New York mayor. Mr. Giuliani, who was then regarded as a potential Republican presidential candidate, is now a legal adviser to Mr. Trump.

    The Justice Department hailed the settlement as a victory. But several former government officials said the decision not to bring more serious charges and air the evidence prosecutors had gathered meant that a critical chance to slow the trajectory of the opioid epidemic was lost.

    "It would have been a turning point," said Terrance Woodworth, a former Drug Enforcement Administration official who investigated Purdue Pharma in the early 2000s. "It would have sent a message to the entire drug industry."

    Prosecutors did not accuse any Sackler family members of wrongdoing. But they wrote that Richard Sackler was told in 1999 while he was president of Purdue Pharma about discussions in internet chat rooms where drug abusers described snorting OxyContin, which contains oxycodone, a powerful narcotic. Other family members, including Raymond and Mortimer Sackler, the drug maker's founders, were sent reports about the abuse of OxyContin's predecessor drug, a long-acting form of morphine sold as MS Contin, the report said.

    A spokesman for Sackler family members involved with the company, Linden Zakula, declined to comment. Richard Sackler, who is now a director of Purdue Pharma, also declined to comment.

    The three executives, who prosecutors described as reporting directly to the Sacklers, have always asserted they had done nothing wrong and had moved quickly to address the drug's growing abuse after they became aware of it in 2000.

    "Everyone was taken by surprise by what happened," Dr. Goldenheim testified in 2001. "We launched OxyContin in 1996, and for the first four years on the market, we did not hear of any particular problem."

    A Powerful Marketing Claim

    When the Food and Drug Administration approved OxyContin in late 1995, the agency permitted Purdue Pharma to make a unique claim for it — that its long-acting formulation was "believed to reduce" its appeal to drug abusers compared with shorter-acting painkillers like Percocet and Vicodin.

    The F.D.A. decision was not based on findings from clinical trials, but a theory that drug abusers favored shorter-acting painkillers because the narcotic they contained was released faster and so produced a quicker "hit."

    Purdue Pharma viewed the agency's decision as "so valuable" that it could serve as OxyContin's "principal selling tool," an internal 1995 company report shows. The drugmaker admitted in 2007, when confronted with evidence gathered by prosecutors, that it trained sales representative to tell doctors that OxyContin was less addictive and prone to abuse than competing opioids, claims beyond the one approved by the F.D.A.

    But even as Purdue Pharma aggressively promoted OxyContin as safer, prosecutors wrote, it soon learned that drug abusers were seeking out OxyContin and its other long-acting opioid, MS Contin. The reason: They had far higher narcotic levels than standard, shorter-acting painkillers, and could be snorted or injected intravenously.

    In May 1996, five months after OxyContin's approval, Richard Sackler and Mr. Udell were sent an older medical journal article describing how drug abusers were extracting morphine from MS Contin tablets in order to inject the drug, prosecutors reported. A Purdue Pharma scientist researched the issue and sent his findings to several Sacklers, the government report states.

    "I found MS Contin mentioned a couple of times on the internet underground drug culture scene," the researcher wrote in that 1996 email. "Most of it was mentioned in the context of MS Contin as a morphine source."

    By the following year, prosecutors wrote, Purdue Pharma learned that drug addicts in Australia and New Zealand were abusing MS Contin and Dr. Goldenheim was sent an article from American Family Physician, a publication, about the ease of extracting morphine from MS Contin.

    Then in 1998, as OxyContin's marketing campaign was taking off, Purdue Pharma learned of a medical journal study that appeared to undercut its central message — that OxyContin, as a long-acting opioid, had less appeal to drug abusers.

    In the study, which was published in The Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver interviewed local drug dealers and abusers to learn what legal drugs sold for on the black market. They found that MS Contin commanded the highest price of any prescription opioid with a 30-milligram tablet that cost $1 at a pharmacy bringing up to $40 on the street.

    In an accompanying editorial, a Canadian physician, Dr. Brian Goldman, wrote that the findings turned thinking about the supposed safety of long-acting opioids like OxyContin on its head by showing that drug abusers "coveted" such drugs.

    "This should ring alarm bells," Dr. Goldman, who was then a paid speaker for Purdue Pharma, wrote in the editorial.

    Purdue Pharma did not send the Canadian study to the F.D.A. or tell its sales representatives about it. Instead, one sales official testified later to a federal grand jury that the company gave him an older survey to show doctors that had concluded that drug abusers were not attracted to time-release opioids.

    Mr. Josephson, the Purdue Pharma spokesman, said it was not required to tell the F.D.A. about the Canadian study or editorial. He added that the company did not consider the small study's results significant because it was already known that morphine could be abused.

    However, in March 1998, a few months before the study's publication, Mr. Udell, the chief counsel, sent seven members of the Sackler family a memo titled "MS Contin Abuse," described by prosecutors as containing articles from Vancouver-area newspapers about the drug's abuse there and the price MS Contin was bringing on the street.

    Two years later, as OxyContin's abuse publicly exploded in early 2000, a Purdue Pharma executive described in an email to Mr. Friedman, the chief executive, how he was reminded of what he had seen earlier managing MS Contin sales in the Midwest.

    "I received this kind of news on MS Contin, all the time and from everywhere," the company's vice-president of marketing, Mark Alfonso, wrote in June 2000. "Some pharmacies would not even stock MS Contin for fear they would be robbed. In Wisconsin, Minnesota and Oklahoma, we had physicians indicted for prescribing too much MS Contin."

    Mr. Friedman's response, prosecutors reported, was to forward that email to Mr. Udell with a question: "You want all this chat on email?"

    'We Have a Credibility Problem'

    By 1997, Purdue Pharma was also aware that OxyContin was becoming a popular topic online, according to one email cited in the prosecution report previously published in Fortune magazine. As sales of the drug began to boom, prosecutors found, so did the number of reports the company received about abuse, addiction and crimes connected to the drug.

    During one brief period in 1999, they reported, company officials learned from articles in small-town newspapers and other sources that a doctor in Pennsylvania had stopped writing prescriptions for OxyContin because patients eager to get more of the drug were getting arrested for altering them; that a Connecticut man had been arrested for trying to illegally purchase OxyContin; that a man in Massachusetts had told the police that he preferred crushing the drug because it worked better "if he sniffs it;" and that a pharmacy in Maryland had been robbed of OxyContin.

    "I continue to see OxyContin increase in abuse with our doctor shoppers and sellers," a drug investigator near Cincinnati wrote in a message that was forwarded to Mr. Udell, prosecutors reported.

    Mark Ross, a former company sales representative, testified during a grand jury appearance that after he warned a manager that one doctor's office was filled with drug seekers he was told his job was to sell drugs, not to determine if a "doctor was a drug pusher," according to a summary of his testimony in the report.

    A sales representative in Jacksonville, Fla., also questioned the company's claim that OxyContin had less abuse potential after the arrest of a doctor there on charges of illegally prescribing the opioid and other drugs, an email cited by prosecutors shows.

    "I feel like we have a credibility problem with our product," the sales representative, Jim Speed, wrote in a 1999 email.

    By late 1999, other doctors had been arrested nationwide on similar charges. But when one Purdue Pharma executive, Dr. J. David Haddox, suggested after the arrest in Jacksonville that the company adopt a crisis-response plan, Mr. Friedman responded that he did not think such action was needed, prosecutors wrote.

    "I simply do not want us to overreact to this specific story," he wrote, according to prosecutors. "This has not been a repetitive pattern or something new."

    Settlement Talks Begin

    In mid-2006, prosecutors notified Purdue Pharma and the three executives about the charges they planned to seek. Over a two-day meeting in September, a high-profile team of defense lawyers rebutted those allegations and argued that the government's case would collapse when tested in court, according to lawyers present. They also presented evidence which they said proved that the executives were unaware of significant OxyContin abuse before early 2000.

    The prosecutors and their boss, the United States attorney for the Western District of Virginia, John L. Brownlee, were not swayed.

    In late September 2006, the recommendations for indictments were forwarded to Justice Department headquarters in Washington. A few weeks later, defense lawyers representing Purdue Pharma and the executives met with top Justice Department officials to again make their case.

    Top officials such as Ms. Fisher, the head of the department's criminal division, soon made it clear that they did not support the indictments, former government lawyers said. Talks to resolve the case through a plea bargain began.

    "We made a presentation of evidence and advocacy to DOJ without having seen the prosecution memo," a defense lawyer, Andrew Good, who represented Dr. Goldenheim, said in a statement. "No charge of false testimony or concealment of abuse was brought because none of that happened." Mr. Friedman did not respond to requests seeking comment.

    Mr. Brownlee, the United States attorney, later testified that he believed the misdemeanor charges against the executives were "appropriate" given the evidence. But former government officials said he was upset by the department's decision not to support more serious charges.

    A former Drug Enforcement Administration official, Joseph Rannazzisi, said Mr. Brownlee told him that the decision had left him with little choice but to settle the case because his small team of prosecutors faced being overwhelmed by Purdue Pharma's unlimited resources.

    "He told me he was outgunned," Mr. Rannazzisi said. Mr. Brownlee, who is now in private practice, declined to comment.

    At a court hearing held in 2007 to approve the settlement, a prosecutor who had worked on the case, Randy Ramseyer, said the misdemeanor pleas by the three officials would send a message to drug industry executives that they faced being held "to a higher standard."

    But drug companies continued to flood areas rife with drug abuse with more opioids. Starting in 2007, the year of the settlement, distributors of prescription drugs sent enough pain pills to West Virginia over a five-year period to supply every man, woman and child there with 433 of them, according to a report in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

    This article contains material adapted from "Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America's Opioid Epidemic," by Barry Meier, published May 29 by Random House.



    7)  Protesters Demand Audit of Hurricane Maria Death Toll in Puerto Rico

    By Jeffrey C. May, June 2, 2018


    Demonstrators at a rally outside the United Nations in Manhattan on Saturday. Protesters were demanding an audit of the official death toll from Hurricane Maria, which Puerto Rico set at 64 last year.CreditJeenah Moon for The New York Times

    It was not until after watching her home in Aguada, P.R., fill with water and the roofs blow off houses during Hurricane Maria that Suzette Sanchez began noticing those around her dying.

    There was the family friend whose heart surgery had to be postponed when the hospital closed. There was the volunteer who contracted leptospirosisa bacterial infection often caused by contact with rat urine, while cleaning.

    "When the government said only 64 people died, I knew it wasn't true because I had many friends that lost a loved one after the storm," Ms. Sanchez said.

    Days after a new study from researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health estimated that the death toll from Hurricane Maria may be as high as 4,645 people, mainly because of delayed medical care, hundreds of protesters gathered on Saturday in the shadow of the United Nations to demand that the international organization audit the number of casualties

    The Puerto Rican government is reviewing its official death toll from the storm, which it said in December was 64.

    "If it were 5,000 kittens, there would be outrage," said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of Uprose, a Latino organization in Brooklyn. "If it was 5,000 dogs, there would be outrage. If it was 5,000 blonde-haired, blue-eyed women, there would be outrage."

    The protest was organized by the Collective Action for Puerto Rico, a coalition of faith-based and labor organizations. Protesters held signs saying "Puerto Rican lives matter" and "If you are not angry you are not paying attention."

    They took off their shoes as a symbol of the people who died as a result of the storm but who were not immediately counted, and called for more attention to be paid to the hurricane's aftermath in the form of more assistance for people still struggling on the island as hurricane season begins.

    "Sisters and brothers in this country forget that the people of Puerto Rico are our fellow Americans," said Linda Sarsour, who was one of the lead organizers of the Women's March in Washington. "They deserve to be treated just like any American in any part of this country."

    United Nations officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Researchers behind the study, which was published on Tuesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, visited close to 3,300 randomly selected households across Puerto Rico. They found that 38 people from those households died in the months after the storm.

    Using their independent estimate of the number of deaths, researchers calculated the mortality rate after the hurricane and compared it with mortality rates from 2016. Researchers found a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate from Sept. 20, 2017, when the hurricane hit, through Dec. 31, 2017, compared with the same time period in 2016.

    The study found that the official death toll of 64 was a "substantial underestimate of the true burden of mortality after Hurricane Maria," and that the estimated 4,645-person death toll could exceed 5,000.

    Puerto Rican officials said in December that they planned to revise the official death toll, counting direct and indirect storm deaths. The commonwealth commissioned a study on Hurricane Maria deaths from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, which is expected to release the first part of its review this summer.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes deaths to a hurricane such as Maria if they are caused by flying debris or unhealthy conditions that can result in "injury, illness or loss of necessary medical services." The Harvard study found that interruptions in medical care were the primary cause for the high mortality rates in the months after the storm.

    At the protest in New York, Mili Bonilla held a smiling picture of her 85-year-old father, Jose (Pepe) Bonilla, with whom she would have regular phone conversations as he went to the supermarket or for a walk.

    After Hurricane Maria, Mr. Bonilla, who lived in Toa Baja, P.R., began having trouble breathing. He was taken to a hospital, which ran out of oxygen. At another hospital, the generator providing electricity for his ventilator would shut off occasionally. The official cause of death on his death certificate was sepsis.

    "In reality, his death was indirectly caused by the hurricane," Ms. Bonilla said. "The hospitals were not running as usual. These stories cannot be forgotten."

    Having an accurate death toll after a natural diaster helps determine the scope of the recovery effort, encouraging new resiliency efforts, while providing families closure and qualifying them for assistance, the Harvard researchers said in explaining their efforts.

    Jordan Sanchez, who works with the disaster relief agency SBP, said he was worried about the future because Puerto Rico is still struggling with basic tasks at the start of hurricane season, which began on Friday.

    Mr. Sanchez, who is Puerto Rican and has family members on the island, recently returned from his second trip there since the storm. He said families, especially in more rural areas, are still struggling to obtain power, healthy food and medical care. Normally, the aid relief effort would have already moved to the recovery and rebuilding phase.

    "Even a strong storm could be devastating," Mr. Sanchez said. "But we are a resilient people, so I have to remain optimistic."

















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