The Janus Court Case

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold Janus v. AFSCME, is a true wake-up call for all public employees across the nation. Janus v. AFSCME is based on a complaint from Mark Janus, a child support specialist for the state of Illinois. He pays "fair share" payments in order to contribute to the costs for his union to bargain his contract and protect his rights, benefits and pension. Janus claims that these payments to AFT's sister union, AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, should be considered political "speech." He petitioned the Supreme Court to consider it as such under the First Amendment and wishes for them to take away the requirement that he pay his "fair share."

It's a weak argument. 
Over the last 40 years, lower courts and the Supreme Court itself have dismissed it, recognizing that "fair share" or agency fee payments support the hard work of collective bargaining and grievance representation, and are separate from any union's political endorsements and contributions.

Thus, the courts have said fair share contributions are common sense: Federal law requires labor unions to represent everyone in a workplace, including non-dues paying workers, so it's fair to ask non-members to contribute only to the costs of negotiating the favorable contract that keeps their families secure and healthy.

Over the years, conservative states – "red" states – have objected. Their legislators have created "right to work" environments where workers get the benefits of union representation with no obligation to pay agency fees. That is, non-members will enjoy union benefits – but only as long as a union without dues – and fee-paying members is able to survive. Workers in right-to-work states, on average, make $6,100 less than in collective bargaining states, are probably working without health insurance, and are 49 percent more likely to die on the job.

With the Janus decision, all public sector workers in the United States are now "right to work," something that could hurt the budgets of public sector unions. Over time, as in right-to-work states like Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and, more recently, Wisconsin and Michigan, workers may watch their annual wages stall and drop while benefits wither away.

This is the scheme of corporate billionaires who seek to openly "shrink" government and reduce their own tax obligations while eliminating or privatizing public services. Included are wealthy families like the Kochs and the Devoses who have funded "right to work" front organizations with dark money for decades. These industrial titans, as in America's Gilded Age, do not see the value of public employees who serve, rescue, protect, educate, help and heal our neighbors, our families and our fellow citizens.

Should UESF members be alarmed? 
Yes, Janus is a real threat to solidarity, strength and resources that keep us fighting at the bargaining table and in the street. But despite all challenges, UESF members have been uniting together in UESF every year around issues important to our students, to our communities and to our families. 

Of course, this natural growth is why AFT and its state and local affiliates like UESF, will always be in the crosshairs of billionaires.

In anticipation of the Janus court challenge, a coalition of local, state and national unions have focused for two years on engaging members with a clear message. We cannot be onlookers in the workplace. We can no longer allow others to step up while we hang back. We can no longer take a good contract for granted. We have to reach out to everyone to help build a strong union that can fight back against anti-public school billionaires. We have to show up.

The Oregon School Employees Association, for example, held a two-day emergency Leadership Summit late last year to map out a post-Janus battle plan. "It was an eye-opener," said Marnie Meuret, an OSEA vice president. "We need to stand together and help each other – not just ourselves. We need to get off our behinds – now!



On Thursday, June 28thWomens March and partners are organizing a mass civil disobedience in Washington, D.C.

We call on women from all communities to descend on our nation's capital and demand the safety and freedom of immigrant families and children.We will put our bodies on the line to demand an end to this administration's the zero-tolerance policy that automatically criminalizes undocumented immigrants and tears families apart.

We will take escalated action in D.C. on June 28th demanding lawmakers and federal officials do everything in their power to #EndFamilyDetention. On Saturday, June 30, we will rise up in cities across the nation to say #FamiliesBelongTogether. These children and families are counting on us. We can not allow these atrocities to go unchallenged. The time to ACT is NOW.

Marching is no longer enough, not when this administration is enacting policies that violently separate families, incarcerate children in prison camps and automatically criminalizes their parents. Not when we see photos and videos of children separated from their families and held in child prison camps. Not when we hear their cries for their parents and see their fear and trauma.

​This is a DEFINING moment. One that will shape our generation. We need bold, strategic and targeted action. We cannot be silent.

*Direct action training and legal support will be provided to all women participating in nonviolent civil disobedience*


Endorsed by: 

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity

Latino Community Foundation




Call to Action!Protest Friday, June 29, 9:00 A.M.U.S. EPA Office75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco(Between Howard and Folsom, 2nd and 3rd Streets)

For more information and to have your organization join and endorse, contact greenaction@greenaction.org, 415-447-3904 x 102



Action Alert – PA Parole Board Must Grant Janet and Janine Africa Parole


Take action Monday, June 25th - Wednesday, June 27th

Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole: 717-787-5699

Send Email message: ra-pbppopc@pa.gov

On Saturday, June 16, MOVE member Debbie Africa was released on parole from State Correctional Institution (SCI) Cambridge Springs after 39 years and 10 months of incarceration.

Fellow MOVE members Janet and Janine Africa, however, were denied parole despite having virtually identical Department of Corrections records as Debbie.

Janet, Janine, and Debbie all:

- Have gone more than 20 years without a misconduct for any rule violation

- Were recommended for parole by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

- Were recommended for parole by former PA DOC Secretary Martin Horn

- Were recommended for parole by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office

- It is beyond dispute that Debbie, Janet and Janine present zero threat to public safety

The Parole Board has denied them the opportunity to return home based on unlawful factors. Claiming the two minimized the offense and did not express remorse, the Board ignored the only relevant assessment under Pennsylvania law: that the two do not present a threat to public safety.

The Parole Board also lied, claiming that Janet and Janine received the negative recommendation of the prosecuting attorney, when in truth Philadelphia's District Attorney, Larry Krasner, recommended all three women – Debbie, Janet, and Janine – for parole, his office stating that it "was "confident" that Janet and Janine "will not pose a threat to the Philadelphia community" and that their "continued incarceration does not make our city safer."

Take Action – Call the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons and Parole Chairman Leo Dunn:

Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole: 717-787-5699 – Ask for Chairman Leo Dunn's office

Send Email message: ra-pbppopc@pa.gov

Talking Points:

- Janet and Janine have not had any rule violation in more than 20 years

- Each has the support of the DOC, former DOC Secretary and nationally-renowned corrections expert Martin Horn, and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office

- Janet and Janine do not present a threat to public safety and should be released just like Debbie

- The Board must stop making political decisions in the MOVE cases: when judged on their record in the DOC and community support Janet and Janine have a right to be released


- That Leo Dunn agree to have the Board reconsider its denial

- Grant Janet and Janine Africa release on parole


Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/

Questions and comments may be sent to claude@freedomarchives.org



For Immediate Release                                        For Immediate Release

Press Contact: Herb Mintz

(415) 759-9679

Photos and Interviews: Steve Zeltzer

(415) 867-0628

25th Annual LaborFest 2018

Surviving The Billionaire Robot Assault in

 the 21st Century

San Francisco:  LaborFest opens its 25th annual festival on July 1, 2018 with a month of timely events inspired by local and international labor activists and labor history.  The program schedule includes eleven international and local films, labor history walks, a labor history bike ride, a maritime history boat ride, lectures, forums, readings and theater and music performances. Most events are free of charge and are presented in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and San Jose.

This year LaborFest continues to commemorate the San Francisco General Strike of 1934 with a series of lectures and walks.  LaborFest will also focus on the role of technology on workers from Silicon Valley to UBER, Lyft and taxi drivers, workers in the so-called 'gig economy' as well the role of Airbnb on hotel workers and communities and neighborhoods in San Francisco.  The FilmWorks United International Working Class Film and Video Festival will feature films not only from the United States but China, Turkey, South Korea, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.  Directors will be present to introduce some of the films.

Particular events in this year's LaborFest include a forum on the 50th Anniversary of the student strike at San Francisco State University, a concert by labor musician extraordinaire Charlie King, a screening of the LGBT historical comedy-drama film Pride, a book reading from Matilda Rabinowitz's memoir, Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman, a night of labor and immigration history inspired song by the Rockin' Solidarity Labor Chorus and a panel entitled Workplace Racism: Hanging Nooses and Fightback sponsored by United Public Workers.


LaborFest is the premier labor cultural arts and film festival in the United States.  LaborFest recognizes the role of working people in the building of America and making it work with over 50 events.  Most of these events are free or ask for a voluntary donation.  The festival is self-funded with contributions from unions and other organizations that support and celebrate the contributions of working people.

For more details and to read or download a full schedule and description of LaborFest 2018 events, go here: http://www.laborfest.net /events/2018-07/





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




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






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

    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



    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)



    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





    1) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Defeats Joseph Crowley in Major Democratic House Upset

    By Shane Goldmacher and Jonathan Martin, June 26, 2018


    Representative Joseph Crowley of New York, once seen as a possible successor to Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader of the House, suffered a shocking primary defeat on Tuesday, the most significant loss for a Democratic incumbent in more than a decade, and one that will reverberate across the party and the country.

    Mr. Crowley was defeated by a 28-year-old political newcomer, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former organizer for Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign, who had declared it was time for generational, racial and ideological change.

    The last time Mr. Crowley, 56, even had a primary challenger, in 2004, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was not old enough to vote.

    Mr. Crowley, the No. 4 Democrat in the House, had drastically outspent his lesser-known rival to no avail, as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez's campaign was lifted by an aggressive social media presence and fueled by attention from national progressives hoping to flex their muscle in a race against a potential future speaker.

    Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had used Mr. Crowley's role in the leadership, and the fact that he was the head of the local Democratic Party machine, against him in her bid to upend the existing political class. She will face Anthony Pappas, the Republican candidate, in the November general election.

    [Read more on who Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is and her history]

    Mr. Crowley is the first House Democrat in the nation to lose a primary in 2018. His loss is most significant for a congressional incumbent since Eric Cantor, then the No. 2 Republican in the House, was defeated in 2014 to a Tea Party activist, David Brat.

    Like that contest, the Crowley defeat is expected to shake up Congress, where Mr. Crowley was seen as a top contender to replace Ms. Pelosi, if she stepped aside after the midterms.

    The race was not close. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had more than 57 percent of the vote, with almost all precincts reporting.

    "It's surreal," Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said in a live television interview as the votes were being tallied.

    By then, no television showed results at what was supposed to have been Mr. Crowley's victory party.

    Mr. Crowley appeared rattled when he spoke. "I know you're all trying your best to make me cry, but it's not going to happen," he told supporters.

    The guitar-strumming incumbent later played Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run," and dedicated it to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

    Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is a native of the Bronx and a Latina in a Queens and Bronx district that is majority-minority, a fact she emphasized repeatedly on the trail against Mr. Crowley, who is white. In hindsight, the seat represented perhaps a perfect brew for an upset: a rusty incumbent, a charismatic challenger and a liberal district that gave Mr. Sanders more than 41 percent of the vote against Hillary Clinton.

    "Women like me aren't supposed to run for office," Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said at the start of a biographical video that went viral last month and was viewed more than half-a-million times.

    She ran as a woman, as a young person, as a working-class champion, as an unabashed liberal and as a person of color. She piled up endorsements from national progressive groups in recent weeks and from Cynthia Nixon, who is running her own insurgent bid for governor against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Ms. Nixon attended the Ocasio-Cortez victory party.

    "What I see is that the Democratic Party takes working class communities for granted, they take people of color for granted and they just assume that we're going to turn out no matter how bland or half-stepping these proposals are," Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said in a recent interview about why she was running.

    A member of the Democratic Socialists of America, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez gathered endorsements from liberal groups like MoveOn, Democracy for America and People for Bernie. The news site The Intercept had urged her on, publishing a drumbeat of negative stories about Mr. Crowley, and glowing stories about her, in the campaign's closing weeks.

    President Trump, who like Mr. Crowley is from Queens, waded in on Twitter. "That is a big one that nobody saw happening," Mr. Trump wrote. "Perhaps he should have been nicer, and more respectful, to his President!"

    Days before the election, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had unexpectedly left New York entirely to travel to Texas to protest the ongoing separation of children from their parents who crossed the border illegally.

    That came on the heels of her call to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Mr. Crowley heated up his own rhetoric in response to her challenge, calling it a "fascist organization," but stopped short of saying it should be dissolved.

    Ten days before the primary, Mr. Crowley skipped a debate against Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, and instead sent a surrogate, a Latina former city councilwoman. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez called it "a bizarre twist" on Twitter to be seated across from someone "with slight resemblance to me" instead of her opponent.

    Ms. Ocasio-Cortez used the moment to generate a fresh wave of publicity in the race's crucial closing days.

    Waging a sharp and sometimes personal campaign, she attacked Mr. Crowley for not living in New York and, specifically, sending his children to school near Washington. When there was tear gas released on protesters in Puerto Rico, she tagged Mr. Crowley on Twitter and wrote, "You are responsible for this." And when he asked her at a debate if she would endorse him, if he prevailed, she pointedly refused.

    Mr. Crowley was not caught totally off guard. He had campaigned aggressively in the last six weeks, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into television ads and mailers, often highlighting his opposition to Mr. Trump.

    But in an indication of how disparate the two camps were and how much of an outsider Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was, Mr. Crowley said that, as of 11 p.m., they had yet to speak. He did not have her number and he did not believe she had his.

    Ms. Ocasio-Cortez's triumph echoed some of the past upsets in New York City races that turned on a yearning for generational or racial change.

    In 1992, for example, Nydia Velázquez, then 39, became the first Hispanic woman to represent New York City when she defeated a veteran congressman in a newly drawn district that was filled with Puerto Rican voters.

    And two decades earlier, Elizabeth Holtzman, then only 31, unseated 84-year-old Representative Emanuel Celler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who had come to Congress during the Harding administration.

    Mr. Crowley's loss left Democrats in Washington stunned. In recent months, he had begun meeting with lawmakers in small groups in a quiet effort to prepare for a bid for the speakership.

    His departure leaves a gaping vacuum in the House, where he is the top-ranked Democrat under the age of 70.

    "Hi Nance," Mr. Crowley greeted Ms. Pelosi when she called him shortly after his defeat. He later told reporters, "She called me to tell me how much she loves me."

    Representative Steny Hoyer, a longtime rival of Ms. Pelosi's, now is freed from having to worry about Mr. Crowley in his ambition to be leader. But some House Democrats, speaking anonymously to discuss a delicate topic, said Tuesday night that given the party's changing face, it would be difficult to dump Ms. Pelosi for an older, white male lawmaker.

    In a flurry of phone calls and text messages, Democratic lawmakers floated names such as Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Linda Sanchez of California, Joseph Kennedy of Massachusetts and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts as potential younger alternatives to Ms. Pelosi. But Ms. Pelosi has made clear she intends to seek the post again if Democrats take back the House and it is not clear that any potential alternative candidate could build a coalition to defeat her.

    As for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, she had complained in recent weeks about media coverage that didn't include her name but only that of the better-known man she was running against.

    "Headlines from the Political Patriarchy," she wrote on Twitter of one recent story.

    Now, she is likely to be in headlines for years to come.

    J. David Goodman and John Surico contributed reporting.



    2) America Is Guilty of Neglecting Kids: Our Own

    By Nicholas Kristof, June 27, 2018


    A family in Flint, Mich. Lead in the public water system endangered the health of city residents, particularly children.CreditBrittany Greeson/The New York Times

    It's not just the kids at the border.

    America systematically shortchanges tens of millions of children, including homegrown kids. The upshot is that American kids are more likely to be poor, to drop out of high school and even to die young than in other advanced countries.

    We tear apart homegrown families, too, through mass incarceration, excessive juvenile detention and overuse of foster care. One black child in 10 spends time in foster care — and 61,000 foster kids have simply gone missing since 2000.

    Like immigration, the mistreatment of children is an old problem that President Trump is exacerbating. Here's a rule of thumb in America for any shortage of resources or conflict over priorities: Kids get screwed.

    "A shockingly high number of children in the U.S. live in poverty," the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, declared in a scathing report. Almost one-fifth of American children live in poverty, he noted, and they account for more than one-fifth of homeless people.

    Alston told me that "there's a very direct link" between the mistreatment of immigrant children at the border and the indifference toward low-income children all across the country. The core reason, he suggested, is a lack of compassion.

    Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, protested the U.N. report, saying, "It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America."

    Really, Ambassador Haley?

    Yes, it's weird that a U.N. official tasked with poverty investigates the most powerful country in the world — and finds that kids here have worms. I'm glad that the U.N. speaks up not only for impoverished children in Congo, but also for those in, say, South Carolina (where a newborn black child has a shorter life expectancy than a child born in China).

    Two researchers, Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer, have found that some three million American children live in "extreme poverty," with a cash income of less than $2 per person per day, the global metric for extreme poverty.

    That's not to say that poverty in America is comparable to that in poor countries. American kids may go to bed hungry, but very few are stunted from malnutrition, compared with 38 percent of children in India.

    The paradox is that the United States historically was a safe and nurturing place for children. America helped lead the world in mass education, and in 1960 children here died at lower rates than in most other advanced countries.

    Since about 1970, however, as other countries provided universal health care and built up social safety nets, American kids have been dying at higher rates. A child is 57 percent more likely to die by the age of 19 in the U.S. than in our peer countries, according to a study published this year in Health Affairs.

    Half a million American kids still suffer from lead poisoning each year. And Dr. Peter Hotez, a tropical disease specialist at Baylor's College of Medicine, warns that here in the United States, "Millions of children living in poverty may be affected by toxocariasis, a parasitic roundworm infection."

    Why do we stiff kids? Why do we provide universal health care for senior citizens (which is expensive) but not for children (which would be cheap)? The simple answer: Kids don't vote. They depend on us, and we fail them.

    If we can broaden the current outrage to the plight of all children in America, we could transform lives.

    In Arkansas, I once dropped in on the home of a struggling 13-year-old boy. It was a filthy flophouse for drug users in a gang-ridden area. There were no books in the house, and no food; the only reason the power wasn't cut off for nonpayment was the pit bull kept to scare off the utility crew.

    These are difficult problems but not hopeless ones, and we know what works. Early childhood programs in particular make a huge difference: parent coaching, high-quality prekindergarten, lead poisoning interventions, social worker visits, and mentoring.

    World Bank President Jim Yong Kim cites a study indicating that if the U.S. invested in effective early childhood programs, the lifelong benefits would be so transformative that American inequality could be reduced to Canadian levels.

    We already have a model: When Tony Blair was the British prime minister he undertook a major campaign against child poverty and cut it nearly in half.

    Unfortunately, Trump is moving in the opposite direction, cutting benefit programs in ways that will hurt poor kids. Trump's tax cuts add to the deficit — meaning that we are partying and sticking children with the bill.

    A national, bipartisan outcry forced Trump to back down from tearing immigrant children from their parents' arms at the border; that was a shared outpouring of compassion that represented our country's best. Now we need a similar outcry on behalf of all of America's children.




    3) Cities Cut Government Contracts for Immigrant Detention as Protests Grow

    By Simon Romero, June 28, 2018


    A protest against family separations in El Paso this week. Local governments around the United States are ending lucrative contracts with federal immigration entities as ire builds over the Trump administration's immigration policies.CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

    EL PASO — In Texas, officials near Austin terminated a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain dozens of migrant mothers who had been arrested and separated from their children. In California, Sacramento County ended a multimillion-dollar deal with ICE to keep immigrants jailed while awaiting hearings.

    The City Council of Springfield in western Oregon voted unanimously to end yet another contract with ICE for housing immigrants in the municipal jail. And in Alexandria, Virginia, authorities put an end to a deal allowing ICE to house immigrant children in a juvenile detention center.

    Local governments around the United States are starting to sever lucrative ties with federal immigration entities amid growing discomfort with the Trump administration's immigration policies. Fueled largely by alarm over the separation of migrant children from their parents, the cancellations suggest an attempt to disengage from federal policies seen as harmful to immigrant families — even when those policies could be pouring millions of dollars into local government budgets.

    "It just felt inherently unjust for Sacramento to make money from dealing with ICE," said Phil Serna, a Sacramento County supervisor who joined two colleagues in canceling the contract. "For me, it came down to an administration that is extremely hostile to immigrants. I didn't feel we should be part of that."

    The local debates over what to do with ICE facilities come at a time when federal immigration policies are disrupting local politics. Insurgent Democratic candidates on the left who are winning primaries, such as Deb Haaland in New Mexico and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, have made defunding or abolishing ICE a central feature of their campaign platforms.

    But even before the uproar this month over separations of migrant families, claims of overreach and inhumane treatment by ICE agents, including targeting immigrants outside churches, schools and courthouses, were flaring tempers in communities around the country.

    "Dealing with ICE became distracting from the day-to-day operations of running our county," said Terry Cook, a commissioner in Williamson County in Texas, a relatively conservative part of the Austin metropolitan area where Dell Computer employs thousands of people.

    Ms. Cook was among the commissioners who voted 4 to 1 this week to end the county's contract with ICE by 2019, an agreement under which nearly 40 mothers separated from their children have been held in the T. Don Hutto Residential Center. The facility is managed by CoreCivic, a private prison operator, through an intergovernment agreement with the county.

    "The federal government made their bed with its policies, so let them sleep in it," said Ms. Cook, emphasizing that efforts to end the contract had started to gain momentum about four months ago, well before the migrant family separations made national headlines. "We did not need to be in the middle of this."

    In another sign of public concern over immigration policies, even some private companies and nonprofits are balking at potentially lucrative deals with federal immigration agencies. Two Texas entities, APTIM and BCFS, declined this month to participate in a proposed no-bid contract worth as much as $1 billion to expand a tent camp for migrant children, according to a report by Texas Monthly.

    In some parts of the country, the discussions over ICE contracts seem to be widening political fissures.

    Residents of Evanston, a town of 12,000 in southwest Wyoming, have been fiercely debating for weeks a proposal by the private prison operator Management Training Corporation to build an ICE detention center near the community. The project could create as many as 150 jobs in a region with a relatively weak economy.

    Some in Evanston compare the plan to the concentration camps built in Wyoming for Japanese-Americans during World War II. But accusations of racism and xenophobia leveled against supporters of the project have produced angry rebuttals. Jim Hissong, the director of family services for Uinta County, which encompasses Evanston, said opponents of the facility were "using the same kind of divisive rhetoric that Trump uses."

    "I don't like being called immoral and a racist," said Mr. Hissong, who described himself as a "Reagan Republican" who dislikes the Trump administration. "I just believe that the federal government has an obligation to uphold immigration laws and this would be an economic boon for us."

    Indeed, some local governments are opting to remain in or even expand contracts with federal authorities for holding immigrants. Officials in Yolo County in Northern California voted this week to accept more than $2 million in additional federal money from the Office of Refugee Resettlement for holding immigrant children at a detention facility, overriding criticism.

    "We need to approach each facility on a case-by-case basis to do what's right for the young people involved," said David Lichtenhan, vice chairman of the Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network, which urged the county to go forward with the contract. "The kids are vulnerable and could end up being moved into a district that's less favorable to immigrants than ours. That's an outcome we sought to avoid."

    But local governments are clearly reading the political winds, amid widespread public protests around the country over the treatment of migrant families. Some of those expressing the most concern are cities that already are home to large immigrant populations.

    In Houston, the city's leadership is urging Southwest Key, the Texas organization that has already won nearly $1 billion in federal contracts for migrant facilities since 2015, to abandon plans to put immigrant children in a former warehouse near the city's downtown.

    "I do not want to be an enabler in this process," said Mayor Sylvester Turner, adding that he had also made a personal appeal to its owner, David Denenburg, to find another use for the building. "There comes a time when we must draw the line, and for me the line is with our children."




    4)  U.K. Spies Said to Be Complicit in U.S. Torture of Terrorism Suspects

    By By Richard Pérez-Peña, June 28, 2018


    The headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Service, in London. In hundreds of cases, a report from a committee of Parliament says, agents knew or suspected that detainees were abused, but did not object.CreditToby Melville/Reuters

    LONDON — Britain's intelligence services tolerated and abetted "inexcusable" abuse of terrorism suspects by their American counterparts, according to a report released by Parliament on Thursday that offers a wide-ranging official condemnation of British conduct in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    Many cases described by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committeeinvolved British agents feeding information to allies, primarily Americans, for the interrogation of detainees who they knew or suspected were being abused, or receiving intelligence from such interrogations, without raising objections.

    The committee documented dozens of cases in which Britain sent suspects to other countries that were known to use torture or aided others in doing so — a practice known as rendition. But it said that in four years of investigation, reviewing some 40,000 documents, it found only a few instances of British agents directly taking part in abuse.

    The report also says that considerable evidence makes it "difficult to comprehend" how top officials in London "did not recognize in this period the pattern of mistreatment by the U.S." — abuses that the Intelligence Committee of the United States Senate has documented in grisly detail.

    The committee wrote that it did not find evidence that British intelligence services willfully overlooked American abuses as a matter of policy. Rather, it concluded, the British "were the junior partner with limited access or influence, and distinctly uncomfortable at the prospect of complaining to their host."

    The abuses occurred primarily from 2002 to 2004, the report says, after which guidelines for British conduct were strengthened, though not always followed.

    The report exposed a rift between Prime Minister Theresa May and the committee, led by Dominic Grieve, a lawmaker from Mrs. May's Conservative Party who is also a former attorney general.

    It said that Mrs. May had prevented the panel from questioning agents who were low-ranking at the time — in other words, most of those working in the field — and from asking any officials about specifics of the operations they worked on.

    The committee said that it had asked Mrs. May to reconsider her orders in early 2017, but that, more than a year later, "no response has been received."

    "We were adamant that we must hear from officers who were involved at the time," the committee wrote, "as this was essential if the inquiry was to be thorough and comprehensive and be in a position to reach properly considered, balanced and fair views about the facts."



    5) U.N. Reports Sharp Increase in Children Killed or Maimed in Conflicts

    By Satoshi Suglyama, June 27, 2018


    More than 10,000 children were killed or maimed in armed conflicts last year, the United Nations reported on Wednesday in an annual survey that is closely examined because it names and shames countries that fail to protect children.

    The suffering occurred across the world.

    In Yemen, a coalition backed by the United States and led by Saudi Arabia was responsible for more than 1,300 child deaths or injuries recorded in 2017. The Saudis quickly disputed that conclusion.

    In Syria, where a civil war has dragged on for seven years, more human rights abuses against children were recorded than ever before.

    The number of children recruited for armed violence quadrupled in the Central African Republic and doubled in the Democratic Republic of Congo, compared with 2016.

    "When your own house or your school can be attacked without qualms, when traditional safe-havens become targets, how can boys and girls escape the brutality of war?" Virginia Gamba, the United Nations secretary general's special representative for children and armed conflict, said in a statement. "This shows a blatant disregard for international law by parties to conflict, making civilians, especially children, increasingly vulnerable to violence, use and abuse."

    Her office confirmed more than 900 cases of rape and sexual violence, but the actual number could be higher.

    She deplored the abuses. "It is the use of human beings as toys, as weapons, as terror, to confuse society, and to divide those children from even the remotest possibility of ever being an active part of society," she said.

    Here is a brief guide to the findings.

    Why is the report carried out?

    The United Nations General Assembly established the mandate of the special representative in 1996, following a report by Graça Machel, a Mozambican politician and the second wife of the South African leader Nelson Mandela. Three years later, the Security Council adopted the first resolution on children and armed conflict, which paved the way for the report to be published.

    Under a resolution adopted in 2005, the report counts six categories of human rights violations: killing and maiming, recruitment or use of children as soldiers, sexual violence, abduction, attacks against schools or hospitals and denial of humanitarian access.

    Why is it important?

    The report includes a list which monitors use to "name and shame" countries that have failed to protect children. The list is meant to coerce these countries into improving.

    This year's report named 59 nonstate actors and 10 state actors in 14 countries, including the armed forces led by the Syrian government, the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State in Iraq.

    The countries were Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

    The list has at times led to intense political jockeying. Two years ago, the United Nations included Saudi Arabia on the list. The country forcefully protested, and the secretary general at the time, Ban Ki-moon, removed Saudi Arabia pending review. The United Nations also kept Israel and the militant group Hamas off the list, even though experts had recommended that they be included.

    This year's report did not explicitly criticize Saudi Arabia, but made clear that a coalition of Arab countries fighting the Houthis, a Shiite rebel group in Yemen, should be held to account. More than half of the 1,300 children reported killed in Yemen last year died in airstrikes. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the leading members of the coalition, and have significant military partnerships with the United States.

    In a statement issued Wednesday night, the Saudi coalition rejected the report's findings and criticized the United Nations for what the coalition called "inaccurate information provided by unreliable sources."

    On Wednesday, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch criticized the United Nations for not including the governments of Israel, Sudan and Iraq, and actors in Ukraine in the report.

    "The voluminous evidence in the report on violations against children in Yemen, Sudan, and Palestine show that the secretary general's 'list of shame' is tainted by completely unjustified omissions," said Jo Becker, children's rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, in a news release.

    Where is the violence getting worse? 

    The United Nations recorded 21,000 "grave violations of children's rights" last year, a big increase from the 15,500 recorded in 2016.

    Many of the violations occurred in countries where governmental authority is weak.

    In Somalia, the Shabab, a militant group affiliated with Al Qaeda, kidnapped more than 1,600 children to replenish its fighting force.

    In South Sudan, the United Nations found, at least 1,200 children were recruited and used in armed conflict.

    In Nigeria, the Islamist group Boko Haram kidnapped girls as young as 8, raped them and strapped explosive vests to them, using the girls as human bombs to kill relatives and neighbors.

    The abuses went beyond armed violence.

    In Iraq, at least 1,036 children were held in juvenile detention facilities on suspicion of links with the Islamic State. In Nigeria, more than 1,900 children were deprived of liberty because of their parents' alleged association with Boko Haram.

    The report argued that children who were previously associated with armed groups should be treated primarily as victims — and should be detained only as a last resort.

    The United Nations also found that lifesaving aid had been denied to children, as a tactic of war, in places like Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

    "Preventing violations against children affected by conflict should be a primary concern of the international community," the report read, assailing all countries for "failing to assume this collective responsibility."



    6) Immigration Lawyer Broke Her Foot When ICE Officer Pushed Her, She Says

    By Mihir Zaveri, June 27, 2018


    Andrea Martinez, a Kansas City immigration lawyer, said she fractured her foot after being pushed to the ground by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer.CreditAndrea Martinez


    Andrea Martinez fractured her foot when she was pushed to the ground Tuesday morning.CreditAndrea Martinez

    An immigration lawyer said she fractured her foot after being pushed to the ground by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer as she followed her client, a 3-year-old boy, into an ICE building in Kansas City, Mo.

    The lawyer, Andrea Martinez, said that she and a colleague were trying to accompany the child, Noah Bautista-Mayorga, into the ICE office around 3 a.m. Tuesday. Noah's mother, Kenia Bautista-Mayorga, had been detained since May.

    The family had entered the country illegally in February 2016 and was to be deported to Honduras on Tuesday morning.

    Ms. Martinez said that she and the other lawyer were pushed forcefully by the ICE officer as he tried to block her from entering the building. The encounter was captured on a widely circulated video, which shows a brief scuffle between the two lawyers and an ICE officer, with Ms. Martinez tumbling to the ground after she approaches the door to the building.

    "I'm traumatized," Ms. Martinez said Wednesday. "As attorneys, we expect ourselves to be strong for our clients. When you get physically battered by an ICE officer, it also takes a toll emotionally; we've been in shock and in tears."

    She declined to say whether she had filed a complaint with ICE.

    In an emailed statement on Wednesday, an ICE official said that the agency took "allegations against ICE personnel very seriously" and that it was "looking into the matter." The official declined to comment further until the agency completed a review of the evidence.

    Ms. Martinez said that she had announced Ms. Bautista-Mayorga's deportation on a message board for lawyers, and on Tuesday morning, dozens of immigrant rights advocates and members of the news media gathered outside the ICE office.

    Ms. Martinez said that if an officer was willing to push a lawyer while cameras were rolling, then "imagine how ICE is treating immigrants behind closed doors when nobody is watching."

    Ms. Bautista-Mayorga, who is pregnant, said she was fleeing an abusive relationship with Noah's father in Honduras. Her case had already received some news media attention.

    This month, the administration dropped asylum protections for victims of domestic abuse, and ICE said it would detain pregnant women on a case-by-case basis, shifting away from a policy that assumed all pregnant women should be released.

    The encounter comes more than a year after a series of executive orders by President Trump broadened the focus of immigration enforcement beyond gang members and violent and serious criminals. Mr. Trump's press secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, described the policy shift as a move to "take the shackles off" ICE agents.

    Ms. Martinez said that Ms. Bautista-Mayorga and Noah had been arrested in February 2016 after illegally entering the United States near Eagle Pass, Tex. She missed an immigration court hearing later that year, and an immigration judge issued an order for her deportation in November 2016.

    In May, Ms. Bautista-Mayorga was arrested in Missouri as she, Noah and her partner, Luis Diaz-Inestroza, were driving to Iowa to visit Mr. Diaz-Inestroza's son.

    On Monday, an emergency motion to stop Ms. Bautista-Mayorga's deportation was denied, and ICE agents set up a meeting early Tuesday to reunite Noah and his mother ahead of their deportation.

    Ms. Martinez said ICE agents at the Kansas City facility initially said the family's reunion would be outside the building but then moved it inside the building.

    She said that Mr. Diaz-Inestroza, who is also undocumented, was holding Noah when an ICE officer took his arm and directed Mr. Diaz-Inestroza inside. At that point, the scuffle between the officer and the two lawyers began and Ms. Martinez was knocked to the ground, fracturing her foot.

    She was then allowed the enter the building, where she spoke with the family for 15 minutes before Noah and Ms. Bautista-Mayorga were deported.

    Ms. Martinez said the ICE agents detained Mr. Diaz-Inestroza and have started deportation proceedings against him.



    7)  Wisconsin Lawmakers Outraged After Ex-Student Gets 'Lenient' Sentence for Sex Crimes

    By Melissa Gomez and Matt Stevens, June 28, 2018


    Alec Cook, who pleaded guilty to five felonies, was sentenced by Judge Stephen Ehlke last week to three years in prison, a term a group of Wisconsin lawmakers and others said was too lenient. Ed Treleven/Wisconsin State Journal, via Associated Press

    Six Wisconsin lawmakers this week condemned what they said was a lenient three-year prison sentence given to a former University of Wisconsin student who admitted to sexually assaulting three women and choking or stalking two others.

    The student, Alec Cook, 22, was initially charged with 23 crimes involving 11 female accusers, after the women began coming forward in 2016. In February, Mr. Cook pleaded guilty to five of those crimes — three counts of third-degree sexual assault, one count of strangulation and one count of stalking, collectively involving five different women — as part of a deal with prosecutors.

    Prosecutors had asked that he be sentenced to 19½ years in prison, though he faced a maximum sentence of about 40; Mr. Cook's lawyers had recommended eight years of probation.

    On June 21, the judge, Stephen Ehlke of Dane County Circuit Court, sentenced Mr. Cook to three years in prison, followed by five years of extended supervision and three years of probation. He also ordered Mr. Cook to register as a sex offender until he reaches age 48, one of Mr. Cook's lawyers said.

    The sentence prompted a widespread backlash from students, Wisconsin residents and lawmakers — many of whom saw troubling parallels between Judge Ehlke's decision and a six-month sentence handed down by a California judge to a Stanford student for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

    "Your lenient sentence amounts to a slap on the wrist for a serial rapist whose violent and sadistic sex crimes will haunt his victims for years to come," six state and local officials, all women, wrote to Judge Ehlke in a letter on Tuesday. "In just three or fewer years, this predator will be back on the streets because men like Alec Cook, men with privilege, are above the law."

    "When brave women come forward yet do not receive justice, it discourages future victims from reporting," they continued.

    Judge Ehlke's wife, Rachelle Weber, said Wednesday night that her husband was recovering from surgery and would not be available for comment.

    But during the sentencing, Judge Ehlke, a former prosecutor, insisted that he had listened carefully to the victims and had tried to be fair by applying the law "without regard to public pressure." He said he was required to give Mr. Cook credit for having no criminal record, for not violating the terms of his bail and for having pleaded guilty.

    The state's recommendation of a roughly 19-year prison sentence, he added, "is out of line for what is normally recommended for other similarly serious cases."

    The judge's voice shook as he addressed one of the victims. "Please, continue to be kind — I'm sorry — and positive," he said. "And don't let him take that from you."

    In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Jessa Nicholson Goetz, a lawyer for Mr. Cook, referred a reporter to comments she made in court.

    At the time of the sentencing, she said of Mr. Cook: "He stood up here, he took responsibility. That says something about his character."

    For his part, Wisconsin's attorney general, Brad Schimel, issued a statementafter the sentencing expressing dismay that the prison sentence wasn't longer. The prosecutors who handled the case could not be reached for comment on Wednesday evening.

    The state and local lawmakers who wrote the critical letter to Judge Ehlke also sought a meeting with him.

    But in a letter of response, William E. Hanrahan, the chief judge of Fifth Judicial Administrative District in Wisconsin, said such a meeting would be "a violation of the ethical responsibilities of the court."

    Judge Hanrahan encouraged the officials to examine transcripts of what was said in court and scrutinize the terms of the plea bargain.

    Afterward, he said, if they felt the judge had made an error, they should contact the attorney general.

    Mr. Cook, of Edina, Minn., a suburb of the Twin Cities, had been a student in the School of Business at the University of Wisconsin, majoring in real estate and land economics before he was arrested and charged in October 2016. At the time, prosecutors in Dane County described Mr. Cook as a serial sexual predator who targeted fellow college students.

    The arrest came after one woman told her harrowing story to the authorities, prompting others to follow suit. Several women would eventually describe similar attacks: an innocent introduction, followed by an exchange of messages, which led them to accompany Mr. Cook to his apartment, where they said sexual encounters began as consensual but escalated to assault.

    The sentencing included tearful remarks by one victim, and statements by others, read by the judge and a mother of one of the victims.

    "I am learning that it is O.K. to not be O.K., and that none of this is my fault," one victim said at the sentencing. "While Alec might have taken away some of my power and my adventurous spirit, I hope that some day I will be ready to take it back."

    Addressing his victims, Mr. Cook apologized. "I'm sorry, I was wrong," he said through tears. "You told the truth, and everybody should believe you. This is my fault."

    From the beginning, the case sent shock waves through the university. Mr. Cook was removed from classes and campus on an "emergency suspension" immediately after criminal charges were filed, and was expelled in June 2017, a university spokesman said Wednesday.

    The sentencing controversy arose just weeks after Aaron Persky, a California judge who was criticized for sentencing a Stanford student to just six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, was recalled by voters. The recall stemmed from the case of Brock Turner, a former champion swimmer for Stanford, who had faced up to 14 years in prison for three felony counts.

    Doris Burke contributed research.



    8) Did Sen. Warner and Comey 'Collude' on Russia-gate?

    By Ray McGovern, June 27, 2018


    Assange: Came close to a deal with the U.S. (Photo credit: New Media Days / Peter Erichsen)

    An explosive report by investigative journalist John Solomon on the opinion page of Monday's edition of The Hill sheds a bright light on how Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and then-FBI Director James Comey collaborated to prevent WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from discussing "technical evidence ruling out certain parties [read Russia]" in the controversial leak of Democratic Party emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election.

    A deal that was being discussed last year between Assange and U.S. government officials would have given Assange "limited immunity" to allow him to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been exiled for six years. In exchange, Assange would agree to limit through redactions "some classified CIA information he might release in the future," according to Solomon, who cited "interviews and a trove of internal DOJ documents turned over to Senate investigators." Solomon even provided a copy of the draft immunity deal with Assange.  

    But Comey's intervention to stop the negotiations with Assange ultimately ruined the deal, Solomon says, quoting "multiple sources." With the prospective agreement thrown into serious doubt, Assange "unleashed a series of leaks that U.S. officials say damaged their cyber warfare capabilities for a long time to come." These were the Vault 7 releases, which led then CIA Director Mike Pompeo to call WikiLeaks "a hostile intelligence service."

    Solomon's report provides reasons why Official Washington has now put so much pressure on Ecuador to keep Assange incommunicado in its embassy in London.

    The report does not say what led Comey to intervene to ruin the talks with Assange. But it came after Assange had offered to  "provide technical evidence and discussion regarding who did not engage in the DNC releases," Solomon quotes WikiLeaks' intermediary with the government as saying.  It would be a safe assumption that Assange was offering to prove that Russia was not WikiLeaks' source of the DNC emails. 

    If that was the reason Comey and Warner ruined the talks, as is likely, it would reveal a cynical decision to put U.S. intelligence agents and highly sophisticated cybertools at risk, rather than allow Assange to at least attempt to prove that Russia was not behind the DNC leak. 

    The greater risk to Warner and Comey apparently would have been if Assange provided evidence that Russia played no role in the 2016 leaks of DNC documents.

    Missteps and Stand Down

    In mid-February 2017, in a remarkable display of naiveté, Adam Waldman, Assange's pro bono attorney who acted as the intermediary in the talks, asked Warner if the Senate Intelligence Committee staff would like any contact with Assange to ask about Russia or other issues. Waldman was apparently oblivious to Sen. Warner's stoking of Russia-gate. 

    Warner contacted Comey and, invoking his name, instructed Waldman to "stand down and end the discussions with Assange," Waldman told Solomon.  The "stand down" instruction "did happen," according to another of Solomon's sources with good access to Warner.  However, Waldman's counterpart attorney David Laufmanan accomplished federal prosecutor picked by the Justice Departent to work the government side of the CIA-Assange fledgling deal, told Waldman, "That's B.S.  You're not standing down, and neither am I."

    But the damage had been done.  When word of the original stand-down order reached WikiLeaks, trust evaporated, putting an end to two months of what Waldman called "constructive, principled discussions that included the Department of Justice."

    The two sides had come within inches of sealing the deal.  Writing to Laufman on March 28, 2017, Waldman gave him Assange's offer to discuss "risk mitigation approaches relating to CIA documents in WikiLeaks' possession or control, such as the redaction of Agency personnel in hostile jurisdictions," in return for "an acceptable immunity and safe passage agreement." 

    On March 31, 2017, though, WikiLeaks released the most damaging disclosure up to that point from what it called "Vault 7" — a treasure trove of CIA cybertools leaked from CIA files.  This disclosure featured the tool "Marble Framework," which enabled the CIA to hack into computers, disguise who hacked in, and falsely attribute the hack to someone else by leaving so-called tell-tale signs — like Cyrillic, for example. The CIA documents also showed that the "Marble" tool had been employed in 2016.

    Misfeasance or Malfeasance

    Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which includes among our members two former Technical Directors of the National Security Agency, has repeatedly called attention to its conclusion that the DNC emails were leaked — not "hacked" by Russia or anyone else (and, later, our suspicion that someone may have been playing Marbles, so to speak). 

    In fact, VIPS and independent forensic investigators, have performed what former FBI Director Comey — at first inexplicably, now not so inexplicably — failed to do when the so-called "Russian hack" of the DNC was first reported. In July 2017 VIPS published its key findings with supporting data.

    Two month later, VIPS published the results of follow-up experiments conducted to test the conclusions reached in July. 

    Why did then FBI Director Comey fail to insist on getting direct access to the DNC computers in order to follow best-practice forensics to discover who intruded into the DNC computers?  (Recall, at the time Sen. John McCain and others were calling the "Russian hack" no less than an "act of war.")  A 7th grader can now figure that out.

    Asked on January 10, 2017 by Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr (R-NC) whether direct access to the servers and devices would have helped the FBI in their investigation, Comey replied:  "Our forensics folks would always prefer to get access to the original device or server that's involved, so it's the best evidence." 

    At that point, Burr and Warner let Comey down easy. Hence, it should come as no surprise that, according to one of John Solomon's sources, Sen. Warner (who is co-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee) kept Sen. Burr apprised of his intervention into the negotiation with Assange, leading to its collapse.

    Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for a total of 30 years and prepared and briefed, one-on-one, the President's Daily Brief from 1981 to 1985.























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