"Give me your tired, your poor 

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. 

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 

Send these, the homeless. Tempest-tost to me, 

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"















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/





All Hands on Deck:  Get Malik Washington out of Ad-Seg!

Several weeks ago, friends and supporters of incarcerated freedom fighter Comrade Malik Washington were overjoyed to hear that he was getting released, finally, from Administrative Segregation (solitary confinement) at Eastham Unit in Texas--until TDCJ pulled a fast one, falsely claiming that he refused to participate in the Ad-Seg Transition Program to get him released back to general population.  

This is a complete lie:  Malik has been fighting to get out of Ad-Seg from the moment he was thrown in there two years ago on a bogus riot charge (which was, itself, retaliation for prison strike organizing and agitating against inhumane, discriminatory conditions).  

Here's what actually happened:  when Malik arrived at Ramsey Unit on June 21, he was assigned to a top bunk, which is prohibited by his medical restrictions as a seizure patient.  TDCJ had failed to transfer his medical restrictions records, or had erased them, and are now claiming no record of these restrictions, which have been on file and in place for the past ten years.  Malik wrote a detailed statement requesting to be placed on a lower bunk in order to avoid injury; later that night, he was abruptly transferred back to Ad-Seg at a new Unit (McConnell).  

Malik was told that Ramsey staff claimed he refused to participate in the Ad-Seg Transition program--this is NOT true, and he needs to be re-instated to the program immediately!  He also urgently needs his medical restrictions put back into his records!


We are extremely concerned for Malik's safety, and urgently need the help of everyone reading this. Please take one or more of the following actions, and get a couple friends to do the same!

1. Call Senior Warden Phillip Sifuentes at Malik's current facility (McConnell) and tell them Keith Washington (#1487958) must be transferred out of McConnell and re-admitted to the Ad-Seg Transition Program!

Phone #: (361) 362-2300 (**048) 00 --  ask to be connected to the senior warden's office/receptionist--try to talk to someone, but also can leave a message. 

Sample Script: "Hello, I'm calling because I'm concerned about Keith H. Washington (#1487958) who was recently transferred to your facility.  I understand he was transferred there from Ramsey Unit, because he supposedly refused to participate in the Ad-Seg transition program there, but this is not true; Malik never refused to participate, and he needs to be re-admitted to the transition program immediately!  I am also concerned that his heat restrictions seem to have been removed from his records.  He is a seizure patient and has been on heat and work restriction for years, and these restrictions must be reinstated immediately."

Please let us know how your call goes at blueridgeABC@riseup.net

2. Flood TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier with calls/emails!  You can use the above phone script as a guide for emails.  

(936) 437-2101 / (936) 437-2123

3. Flood TDCJ with emails demanding that Malik's health restrictions and work restrictions be restored: Health.services@tdcj.texas.gov

You can use the call script above as a guide; you don't need to mention the Ad-Seg situation, but just focus on the need to restore his heat and work restrictions!

4. File a complaint with the Ombudsman's Office (the office in charge of investigating departmental misconduct); you can use the above phone script as a guide for emails.

5. Write to Malik!  Every letter he receives lifts his spirit and PROTECTS him, because prison officials know he has people around him, watching for what happens to him.

Keith H. Washington


McConnell Unit

3100 South Emily Drive

Beeville, TX 78103



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.



Last week I met with fellow organizers and members of Mijente to take joint action at the Tornillo Port of Entry, where detention camps have been built and where children and adults are currently being imprisoned. 

I oppose the hyper-criminalization of migrants and asylum seekers. Migration is a human right and every person is worthy of dignity and respect irrespective of whether they have "papers" or not. You shouldn't have to prove "extreme and unusual hardship" to avoid being separated from your family. We, as a country, have a moral responsibility to support and uplift those adversely affected by the US's decades-long role in the economic and military destabilization of the home countries these migrants and asylum seekers have been forced to leave.

While we expected to face resistance and potential trouble from the multiple law enforcement agencies represented at the border, we didn't expect to have a local farm hand pull a pistol on us to demand we deflate our giant balloon banner. Its message to those in detention:

NO ESTÁN SOLOS (You are not alone).

Despite the slight disruption to our plan we were able to support Mijente and United We Dream in blocking the main entrance to the detention camp and letting those locked inside know that there are people here who care for them and want to see them free and reunited with their families. 

We are continuing to stand in solidarity with Mijente as they fight back against unjust immigration practices.Yesterday they took action in San Diego, continuing to lead and escalate resistance to unjust detention, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and to ICE. 

While we were honored to offer on-the-ground support we see the potential to focus the energy of our Drop the MIC campaign into fighting against this injustice, to have an even greater impact. Here's how:

  1. Call out General Dynamics for profiteering of War, Militarization of the Border and Child and Family Detention (look for our social media toolkit this week);
  2. Create speaking forums and produce media that challenges the narrative of ICE and Jeff Sessions, encouraging troops who have served in the borderlands to speak out about that experience;
  3. Continue to show up and demand we demilitarize the border and abolish ICE.

Thank you for your vision and understanding of how militarism, racism, and capitalism are coming together in the most destructive ways. Help keep us in this fight by continuing to support our work.

In Solidarity,

Ramon Mejia

Field Organizer, About Face: Veterans Against the War

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.



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).

  • 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



    Whistleblower Reality Winner Accepts Responsibility for Helping Expose Attacks on Election Systems

    After more than a year jailed without bail, NSA whistleblower Reality Winner has changed her plea to guilty. In a hearing this past Tuesday, June 26th, she stated - "all of these actions I did willfully." If this new plea deal is approved by the judge, she will have a maximum prison sentence of five years as opposed to the ten years she faced under the Espionage Act.

    Speaking to the family's relief due to this plea deal, Reality's mother Billie sharedthat "At least she knows it's coming to an end." "Her plea agreement reflects the conclusion of Winner and her lawyers," stated Betsy Reed, "that the terms of this deal represent the best outcome possible for her in the current environment."

    In a recent campaign status update Jeff Paterson, Project Director of Courage to Resist, reiterated the importance of continuing to support Reality and her truth-telling motives. "We cannot forget this Trump Administration political prisoner. Reality needs us each to do what we can to resist." Although Courage to Resist is no longer hosting Reality's defense fund, online monetary support can be contributed to the Winner family directly at standwithreality.org. Reality's inspiring artwork also available for purchase at realitywinnerart.com.

    "It's so important to me as her mom to know just all the people that are writing her, who are touching her, who are reaching out to her giving her that strength and that support . . . Please don't stop that" said Billie Winner-Davis. "And we'll always make sure that everybody knows where she's at, where you can write to her, how you can help her. You know, we'll continue to do that. Just follow us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter. We will continue to do that for her."

    Reality will remain at the Lincoln County jail near Augusta, Georgia, for the next few months pending the sentencing hearing and hopefully will then be transferred to a facility closer to her family.


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

    www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



    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) Back to Red Onion State Prison: Rashid's return to the original scene of criminal abuse

    By Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, July 2, 2018


    Founded on lies, racism and abuse

    After six years of being bounced from state to state, having been exiled from the Virginia prison system for my political views and years of publicizing and resisting the brutal and racist abuses in its prisons, on June 12, 2018, I was returned to Red Onion State Prison (ROSP) in remote Wise County, Va.

    Even before I began publicizing these conditions – at ROSP in particular – organizations like Human Rights Watch were reporting on them, bringing almost instant notoriety to ROSP after it opened in 1998, and its staff body – drawn from within and around southwest Virginia's racially segregated, isolated white mountain communities – as brutal and racist to the extreme.

    In its 1999 report[1], HRW exposed how ROSP's disproportionately non-white prisoner population was being gratuitously beaten, electrocuted and shot with shotguns, routinely called racist names, mocked and caricatured with racist stereotypes, and subjected to a range of additional mistreatments by Red Onion staff.

    Also exposed by that and further reports was that this prison – as was its sister supermax Wallens Ridge State Prison (WRSP) built only a few miles away and opening a year after ROSP – were never needed for legitimate prison security reasons. Instead, they were actually constructed at great public expense to create jobs and subsidize industries in a poor region suffering massive job losses due to the closing of many of the region's coal mines, caused by the introduction of mountaintop removal strip mining by coal companies and the general decline in the demand for coal.

    Not coincidentally, both ROSP and WRSP were built on top of mountains whose tops had been removed by strip mining. In fact, one can see huge pools of black toxic waste from this process all around WRSP.

    The cycle of window dressing

    Every few years new abuse scandals have surfaced and/or the latest official rationales concocted to justify continuing to operate these unneeded, expensive prisons are exposed as lies, prompting a reshuffling of administrative personnel and the invention of a new set of justifications for their continuing to operate.

    It only amounts to window dressing – merely changing the curtains while the house and landscape remain the same, which is exactly what I returned to on June 12.

    A dramatic police escort

    Officials at these remote prisons have a knack for the sensational, which is consistent with their need to make themselves and their useless prisons seem important.

    When I was flown back to Virginia from the Florida prison system on a Virginia prison plane, I was met at the local county airport by two ranking ROSP guards accompanied by a military armed five car escort from the Wise County Sheriff's Department.

    Sheriff's deputies in bulletproof gear brandishing assault rifles took up positions around the plane, while one trailed me to the transport van with a large unmuzzled dog. I was squeezed into a tiny metal compartment in back of the van and driven at high speed to Red Onion, with three sheriff cars behind us and two in front – their lights flashing and sirens blaring – forcing all cars along the way off the road.

    Self-portraits drawn over the years show that prison takes a toll … yet the strong survive.

    Thrown in the torture unit

    At ROSP I was met by a mob of guards and separated from the seven bags of personal property I'd brought with me from Florida. I was escorted to an intake area, put through the routine strip search and issued ROSP clothing and bedding. Up to that point everything was uneventful.

    I was then taken to my assigned cell, which I found was in the specially constructed B-3 torture unit which I'd previously written about in 2010 and 2011.[2] For insight into the sinister purposes and design of B-3, readers should check out these prior articles.

    Except for me, the entire 22 cell B-3 cellblock is empty, and since I've been in this pod I've been, unlike any other ROSP prisoner, denied all showers and out-of-cell exercise.

    My belongings are ransacked and destroyed

    On the evening of June 13, a guard, H. Mullins, brought four boxes of my property to my cell which he assured me was all the property brought with me from Florida. Upon receiving and spending all night sorting through it – it had all been ransacked, with all my documents shuffled up together – I found about a fifth of my documentary property was missing. They'd also broken and confiscated my radio, headphones and electric razor.

    As I pressed to have the rest of my property returned to me, speaking to various ranking guards and administrators who came into the pod, I found that during my absence from ROSP, many of the guards who were instrumental in the reported abuses of the prison's early and subsequent years were now running the prison as warden (Jeffrey Kiser), assistant warden (Jeffrey Artrip), security chief (Delmer Tate) and various captains, lieutenants and so on.

    A number of their abuses are described in my prior exposés.[3] In fact I'd previously sued the above named officials and the property department supervisor (Lt. James Lambert), who also went through my property, for past abuses in federal court, conducting a day-long jury trial against them which they attended.

    So, each of them clearly had the motives, positions, and opportunity to destroy my property.

    As I spoke to several of them about my broken and missing property, each told me they'd "check on" it or played the lying game of assuring me that I was given all that came with me from Florida and suggested that maybe Florida damaged it and didn't send it all. Which was BS because everything brought with me was what I'd had in my cell in Florida – I packed it up in Florida and it was with me from when I packed it until I was escorted from the transport van into ROSP's intake area.

    After spending all night sorting through my property, on June 14 around 8 a.m. I was able to speak with Mullins, who admittedly did the ransack job and inventory of my property along with Lt. Lambert. Mullins played the same game.

    When I showed him an inventory from Florida showing my electronics weren't broken when I left, reflecting a malicious mishandling of my belongings when I got to Red Onion and that I was going to press the issue, Mullins left visibly angry and less than an hour later filed a fabricated disciplinary report claiming he'd found a homemade cuff key in my property while searching it on June 13.

    Racially targeted property destruction

    There was also a racist motive to their mishandling my belongings – a hate crime? – as all my books and documents on Black history, culture, political views etc. were also specifically targeted and stolen. This included books and printouts of books like:

    • Assata Shakur, "Assata"
    • Elaine Brown, "A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story"
    • Daniel Fogel, "Africa in Struggle"
    • Charles E. Jones et al, "The Black Panther Party Reconsidered"
    • Mumia Abu Jamal, "We Want Freedom! A Life in the Black Panther Party"
    • Ward Churchill et al, "Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against The Black Panther Party and The American Indian Movement"
    • Bobby Seale, "Seize the Time"
    • Joshua Bloom, "Black Against Empire"
    • And many other titles.

    Also stolen were back issues of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party's Right On! newsletter, many of which contained my political articles. Much of this material is relevant to and evidence in litigation challenging my political repression, persecution and slander by prison officials and the history of such by U.S. officials against political groups and activists of color.

    Vampires hate the light of exposure

    Like all prison officials, ROSP officials resent prisoners publicizing and challenging their abuses. It was because of this that I was transferred out of state and subsequently kicked out of three other prison systems. According to the Virginia prison officials who flew me back to Virginia on June 12, Florida called Virginia's DOC headquarters only a few days before with an ultimatum – to come get me "by June 15 or else."

    This came on the heels of outside complaints of abuses I'd brought attention to of others and myself, me and various other Florida prisoners working together to unite prisoners at Florida's notorious Santa Rosa Correctional Institution, where I was confined, whom officials were manipulating into frequent violent clashes, and our organizing a canteen strike for the nationwide prison protests beginning on Juneteenth.

    As for ROSP, it had just been publicized that the same administration of veteran abusers had recently retaliated against another prisoner, Kevin Snodgrass, by fabricating bases for throwing him into solitary confinement because of his litigating against abuses in the prison and his mother's speaking out at an ACLU press conference.[4]

    While taking Snodgrass to solitary, guards threw him against a wall injuring his eye and, as they did to me, broke and confiscated his electronics – his TV and MP3 player. Breaking and taking prisoners' electronics is an old and frequent practice of ROSP.

    In the prison's earlier years, guards in the property department would cause minor damage to prisoners' TVs and radios or remove a screw or two and confiscate the items as "altered." This was most often done to new arrivals.

    They would then repair the damage or replace the screws and resell the appliances as second hand items back to prisoners via the canteen or they'd give them to others to barter for good behavior, as rewards to snitches, or donate them to local charities as a PR scam.

    The frequent damage and confiscation of prisoners' electronics was also a scheme used to generate sales of electronics from the commissary to prisoners to replace those taken from them, from which sales ROSP received kickbacks.

    All of these sorts of mistreatments and retaliation are the norm at ROSP, with the same abusive officials cycled around perpetuating and preserving the culture of abuse.

    Solitary anyone?

    And while ROSP officials are quick to hide their continuing use of solitary confinement behind euphemisms, I am at this very moment being held under the most extreme sort of solitary. I am confined in a cell containing only a sink/commode unit and a steel bunk in an entirely empty cellblock that was designed specifically to impose the highest level of sensory deprivation. The cell's back windows are frosted and black shutters are fixed to the cell door windows, to prevent views of anywhere outside the cell.

    Even more absurd is Red Onion officials have now designated B-3 a mental health pod (or an otherwise special use pod) with "mental health safety cell" now painted prominently at the tops of the cell doors, as if cells they originally designed to inflict harm are now meant to protect one from harm.

    The unchanged reality, however, is it's well-established by medical, mental health and torture experts and extensive studies, and even by the U.S. Supreme Court over 100 years ago,[5] that the very sensory deprivation and loss of environmental stimulation these cells inherently cause and were indeed constructed to impose (over and above all other cells in the prison) inflicts the worst sort of torture and exacerbates and causes mental breakdowns and insanity.

    So why are these cells now designated to house mental health prisoners? Just an example of how much regard they have for those with mental health needs, and another case of their continuing to invent bogus justifications to continue using demonstrably abusive and unneeded cells in a demonstrably abusive and unneeded prison.

    So demonstrably unneeded in fact that I can be housed alone in an entirely empty cellblock. Our hard-earned tax dollars at work, and yes, prisoners pay taxes too.[6] Fact is, our slave labor maintains these warehouses at every level.

    What'm I doing here?

    Actually according to the Virginia DOC's own rules I'm not even supposed to be at Red Onion. Under its Operating Procedure 020.2, which governs "Compact for Interstate Transfer of Incarcerated Offenders," "When out-of-the-state Virginia offenders are returned to Virginia, they will be received and processed as a new prisoner at the appropriate reception center …"

    Well, Red Onion is not a reception center and I am not being processed as a new prisoner. Indeed, I'm confined under the same prisoner ID number as before leaving Virginia in 2012. Although they like calling themselves law enforcement officials, these are not people who obey rules or laws. No irony there.

    Corruption, abuse, Red Onion State Prison. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!

    All Power to the People!


    [1] See, Jamie Fellner, "Red Onion State Prison: Super-Maximum Security Confinement in Virginia" (Human Rights Watch, 1999) http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/redonion/

    [2] Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, "Abu Ghraib Comes to Amerika: Torture Unit Under Construction at Virginia's Red Onion State Prison" (Oct 30, 2010), rashidmod.com/?p=119; Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, "Under New Administration Torture Unit Closes Then Reopens at Red Onion State Prison, and Prison Abuse on the Rise," (Nov. 14, 2011), rashidmod.com/?p=317

    [3] Jeffrey Kiser's role in early abuses at ROSP,  his move to another prison during a "cooling off" period, and return as assistant warden in 2011 to revive extreme physical abuses at the prison is discussed in my article cited in note 2 above, "Under New Administration Torture Unit Closes Then Reopens …"

    Jeffrey Artrip, although not named in my prior published reports (he was named in several that weren't posted online), has an extensive history of physical abuse at Red Onion and was the unit manager of the B-3 torture unit when it was in operation in 2011-2012.

    Delmer Tate is repeatedly mentioned in numerous articles for his role in beating prisoners, setting prisoners up for abuse who've sued him or he's had conflicts with. He was the supervisor of an earlier, supersegregation unit where guards freely beat restrained prisoners, and then supervised B-3 until moved following the controversial death of a prisoner in that building. See both articles cited in note 2 above, also Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, "Red Onion State Prison, an Exposé: Racism and Brutality Equals Kind and Usual Punishment in Virginia" (2004), rashidmod.com/?p=176; see also addendums #2 and #8 to this exposé at rashidmod.com/?p=197 and rashidmod.com/?p=192.

    James Lambert (erroneously named as Donald Lambert) is also mentioned in "Red Onion State Prison, an Exposé" for his role in assaults on prisoners.

    [4] Frank Green, "Mother Says Inmate is Back in Solitary Confinement in Virginia After She Campaigned with ACLU," Richmond Times-Dispatch (May 11, 2018).

    [5] See, In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160 (1890).

    [6]  Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, "No Incarceration or Taxation without Representation: Amerikan Slavery in the 21st Century" (2011) rashidmod.com/?p=321

    Postscript from Rashidmod.com

    This is not the first time Rashid has been in the Virginia prison system – despite having spent years in Oregon, Texas and most recently Florida, he has in fact always been classified as a Virginia prisoner. From 1995 to 2012, Rashid was held at Wallens Ridge and Red Onion State Prisons, in various degrees of solitary confinement.

    Through correspondence, he worked to educate his peers while also reaching out to activists on the outside. Much of the correspondence during this time would form the basis of his first book "Defying the Tomb," published in 2010.

    In 2011, Rashid wrote a series of articles about a new isolation unit being opened at Red Onion, and about ongoing guard abuse that included a "pain-compliance technique" that involves bending prisoners backwards, to the point that they would sometimes break. At the same time, he became well known as the artist who drew the drawing that would serve as an unofficial logo for the historic California hunger strikes that year.

    When guards retaliated by beating Rashid, dislocating his shoulder and tearing his dreadlocks out from his scalp, outside supporters attempted to mobilize to protect him, while calling attention to the abuses he had been documenting for years. In an attempt to pre-empt an embarrassing situation, the Virginia Department of Corrections had Rashid first transferred to Wallens Ridge – where he was openly told by guards that they intended to kill him – and then, in mid-February 2012, he was moved once again, this time out of state.

    Using something called the Interstate Compact, VADOC spent the next six years moving Rashid from one state to another. First Oregon, then Texas, then Florida – in each new location, Rashid set about documenting the abuse that he and other prisoners were subjected to.

    Indeed, besides political theory, the bulk of Rashid's writings and work have been attempting to protect or seek justice for those most vulnerable behind bars – those prisoners whose physical and emotional health issues mark them for abuse from guards and prison medical staff. That he has undertaken this work at often considerable risk to himself has earned him an international reputation as an observer and critic of the U.S. prison system, by far the world's largest.

    It is his work exposing abuse that has prompted his repeated transfers from one state to another.

    And now he is back in Virginia, at Red Onion, the prison where he faced serious abuse in the past. Indeed, he has communicated to his lawyer that the same people are still working there today.

    For this reason, we need to start making calls to Red Onion to demand that he be given his property, that he be removed from solitary and that he not be abused. The phone number is 276-796-7510. Ask to speak with the property manager or the warden.

    Please make calls as soon as you can!

    Please also write to Rashid, to let him know that he is in your thoughts – and also to make it clear to the prisoncrats that he has support: Kevin Johnson, 1007485, Red Onion State Prison, P.O. Box 1900, Pound, VA 24279.



    2) Forget The Parades. Protest This Fourth of July.

    By Holly Jackson, July 3, 2018


    How do you celebrate Independence Day? A cookout? Maybe take the kids to a parade?

    William Lloyd Garrison, the 19th-century abolitionist, had a different idea for how to observe the holiday. Every flag should be either taken down or flown at half-staff, he wrote in his newspaper, The Liberator, and "all signs of exultation, parade and boasting should be studiously suppressed." The usual rounds of celebratory music, marching and fireworks must be abandoned until "the millions of our oppressed countrymen are emancipated." In the meantime, the Fourth of July "should be made THE DAY OF DAYS for the overthrow of slavery."

    In our time, July 4 has become detached from the politics of protest. But the history of the United States suggests that this need not — indeed, ought not — be the case.

    Garrison borrowed the July 4 protest tradition from a group of black activists in Albany. When slavery was legally abolished in New York on July 4, 1827, they resolved not to celebrate. Instead, they mourned all those who remained in bondage and came out the following day for public reflection on the nation that allowed it. This became a tradition that continued until the Civil War.

    The most famous abolitionist July 4 protest took place in 1854, when Garrison mounted a platform adorned with an upside-down, black-bordered American flag and burned a copy of the Constitution. From the same stage that day, Henry David Thoreau declared that the moral failure of the United States affected even his ability to enjoy the outdoors, noting that "the remembrance of my country spoils my walk."

    For the better part of the 19th century, many groups in addition to abolitionists, including Native Americans, utopian socialists, women's suffragists and industrial workers, chose to use the Fourth of July as an occasion for social-justice agitation.

    The tradition of July 4 protest faded in the 20th century, but it re-emerged in moments of political urgency. Peace activists during the Vietnam War, for example, seized the day for fasts and demonstrations. In 1970, a committee of African-American churchmen urged the black community across the country not to participate in any festivities on July 4. Their "Black Declaration of Independence" listed 15 grievances, including "being lynched, burned, tortured, harried, harassed and imprisoned without Just Cause" and "being gunned down in the streets by Policemen and Troops who are protected from punishment."

    In the weeks leading up to July 4, 1981, a group of military veterans, in a spirit of outraged patriotism, staged a hunger strike to demand an independent review of Veterans Administration hospitals, further study of the effects of Agent Orange and greater support for veterans' mental health. In 1986, when the Supreme Court upheld laws that criminalized sodomy between consenting adults in private, gay activists held a rally in Greenwich Village in New York, promising to "disrupt traffic, snarl subways and show our rage" during the city's July 4 celebrations.

    The tradition of July 4 protest has been largely dormant for a generation now — although the rallies and "die-ins" staged during the July 4 Senate recess last year, protesting efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, hinted at a revival. These days, many Americans seem to disapprove of protests in general, and for them, demonstrations on the Fourth of July might seem particularly offensive, even worse than taking a knee during the national anthem.

    But this attitude fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the holiday. July 4 commemorates a protest so incendiary that its participants, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, risked execution as traitors to the crown. These dissidents came together to affirm their commitment to a political community based on equality, at least in theory. For a century and a half, social-justice activists honored this history by continuing it, trying to hold the nation to its own standards on the anniversary of the day they were declared.

    This July 4, on the heels of nationwide protests that mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in opposition to immigration policy, we ought to ask again, what does it mean to celebrate America now?

    Holly Jackson, an associate professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, is at work on a book about 19th-century radical movements in the United States.



    3) What Alec Baldwin Taught My Son About Political Activism

    By Julie Orringer, July 3, 2018


    Author's son, Jacob, preparing his message. Julie Orringer

    "What do you want your sign to say?" I asked my son. We were walking home from the art supply store with a bag of foam-core board, brushes and tempera paint; the next day we were going to march against President Trump's policy of separating and detaining undocumented immigrant families, many of whom had crossed the border seeking political asylum.

    Jacob didn't have to think. "I want it to say, 'Even 8-year-olds are outraged!'"

    I encouraged him to use bright colors, big letters. When you make a protest sign, I told him, its message flies out into the world. There may be thousands of people at a rally, and many of them will take pictures. If those pictures are shared, thousands of others may see your sign and hear what you have to say. They might even be inspired to take action themselves.

    He made a prototype, then lay on the floor and painted. When he was done, he showed me the sign. "Even 8 year olds are outraged about family separation!" he'd written in capital letters.

    How much do we tell our children about what's going on in our country? When are they capable of becoming political human beings? A few days earlier, knowing we'd be marching together that Saturday, I'd made the decision to tell Jacob that Border Patrol agents, acting on President Trump's "zero tolerance" policy, had separated families at the border, sometimes sending kids thousands of miles away from their parents, and that though the initial policy had changed, many of those families still weren't reunited. I left out the scariest details. But the simplified version was enough. I saw the understanding pass over his face; I saw him feel sad, then angry.

    The author's son's message was featured on Alec Baldwin's Instagram feed.Credit@iamabfalecbaldwin

    I was sorry he had to feel that way, and I'm sorry, more than words can express, for what the separated children and parents are going through. But I'm not sorry I told my son what's going on.

    The fact is, I can't imagine not telling him. We come from a family of refugees. My mother, her sister and their parents fled the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and were granted asylum here. Jacob, the grandchild of an asylum seeker, needs to know why it's wrong to tear refugee families apart. He needs to know that "zero tolerance" flies in the face of justice and that the Trump administration has been obstructing asylum seekers' right to a safe haven.

    Even if we didn't have this family history, I would still want him to know. My husband and I want our children to be the kind of people who care about what their president is doing. We want them to understand how lucky we are to be able to march together, when thousands of parents and kids have been forced apart.

    So on Saturday, armed with sunscreen, snacks and our signs, we gathered with friends at Foley Square in Manhattan and started walking.

    "Hold that sign high," I told my son. And he did. He shouted "No Hate! No Fear! Immigrants are welcome here!" and "When families are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!" We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge as drivers honked their support. When we got to Cadman Plaza, Jacob played in the sprinklers and we ate the peanut butter sandwiches we'd brought. I told him how proud I was that he'd made and carried his sign. And then we went home, and I thought that was it.

    The next morning, a friend sent me a text: "Jacob prominently featured on Alec Baldwin's Instagram." I thought at first it must be a joke. But when I looked, there was Jacob, his hat pulled down against the sun, holding his bold and legible sign. "The real America," Mr. Baldwin had written underneath. Almost 13,000 people had liked it.

    Jacob doesn't use a phone or an iPad except for video chats with his grandparents, and I don't want him ever to live for social media likes. But I did want him to know what his sign had done and how its message had gone out into the world. So I showed him the post and the number beneath it. His eyes grew wide.

    "All those people heard your message," I told him. "Not just the ones we marched with, but thousands of others, too."

    "Who's Alec Baldwin?"

    "An actor. And someone who cares about what you had to say."

    There's no doubt that social media makes us depressed. There's no doubt that we look at our phones too much and that the world inside the small screen is no substitute for the real world. But there's something else social media can do: It can amplify one person's outrage into a worldwide shout. It can teach a kid not only that you have to speak out to be heard, but also that when you do, your words can have far-reaching effects.

    To the Instagram commentators who accused me of brainwashing my son with my own political beliefs: There's a difference between brainwashing and encouraging a child to consider what's going on in the world. Sharing your views with your kid forces you to consider what kind of person you are, what kind of person you want your kids to know you are; it forces you to consider, too, what you're doing to stand up for your beliefs.

    And to Alec Baldwin: Thanks for helping me teach my child the power of speaking out.

    Julie Orringer is the author of "The Invisible Bridge," "How to Breathe Underwater" and the forthcoming novel "The Flight Portfolio."



    4) Some Contractors Housing Migrant Children Are Familiar to Trump's Inner Circle

    "...some of the contractors have spoken out against the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy on border enforcement and the separation of more than 2,300 migrant children from their families, most have made few public remarks and have instead quietly defended themselves, saying they housed and cared for undocumented youths during the Obama administration without controversy...In a statement, the Geo Group said that its family center has 'cared exclusively for mothers together with their children since 2014 when it was established by the Obama administration.'"

    By Ben ProtessManny Fernandez and Kitty Bennet, July 4, 2018


    A dust storm blew through CoreCivic's Eloy Detention Center in Arizona last month.CreditGabriella Angotti-Jones/The New York Times


    Many of the nonprofits, corporations and religious groups watching over migrant children detained at the southwest border have been in this business for years — and they have a history of political connections, donating millions of dollars to Democrats and Republicans alike.

    Now, as new federal policies greatly expand the number of migrants held in detention, it is also becoming clear that some of the players in this billion-dollar industry have particularly strong ties to the Trump administration.

    The president's education secretary provided funding to one of the groups. His defense secretary sat on the board of another. Mr. Trump's own inauguration fund collected $500,000 from two private prison companies housing detained migrant families. And some of the contractors employ prominent Republican lobbyists with ties to Mr. Trump and his administration, including someone who once lobbied for his family business.

    There is no indication that political favors or influence motivated any of the contracts, and the service providers have no apparent ties to the agency awarding most of the contracts, the Department of Health and Human Services. Many of the groups had federal contracts to work with migrant children long before President Trump took office.

    Yet the administration's new focus on ending the practice of "catch and release," under which an ever-larger number of those apprehended at the border are held in detention, has meant that the business of housing and caring for migrant children is booming. A review of regulatory filings, campaign donations and lobbying records reveals a number of important links between people in Mr. Trump's orbit and the groups poised to earn financial rewards from his immigration policies.

    Migrant youths detained at the border are housed at more than 100 government-contracted shelters, detention centers and other facilities across the country.

    The groups operating them have hauled in more than $1 billion in contracts in recent years to house, transport and watch over migrant children in federal custody. Although some of the contractors have spoken out against the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy on border enforcement and the separation of more than 2,300 migrant children from their families, most have made few public remarks and have instead quietly defended themselves, saying they housed and cared for undocumented youths during the Obama administration without controversy, and remain dedicated to protecting vulnerable children.

    Mr. Trump's recent executive order to scale back the policy and keep migrant families together as much as possible will not necessarily undercut this business. The existing shelters will still house children who cross the border alone, and the president's order called for migrant families to be detained together, which could spur another round of contracts to expand the number of family detention centers.

    Two private prison companies are already operating a pair of family detention centers in Texas. Planned new emergency shelters at military bases are also likely to be operated by contractors, as were similar facilities that opened temporarily on bases as a result of a surge in border crossings during the Obama administration.

    The two private prison companies that run family centers, the Geo Group and CoreCivic, are among the politically connected contractors. Each donated $250,000 to Mr. Trump's inaugural fund. And the Geo Group's political action committee, while bipartisan in its giving, allocates many of its biggest donations to Republicans. These include $170,000 to a joint fund-raising committee set up between the Republican Party and the Trump campaign; $50,000 to a "super PAC" supporting the president; and, more recently, donations to Republican Party organizations focusing on the House and Senate.

    The Geo Group also hired a lobbyist, Brian Ballard, who lobbied for Mr. Trump's golf courses in Florida before he became president. A recent disclosure form shows that, on behalf of the Geo Group, Mr. Ballard's firm was registered to lobby about "immigration regulation."

    In a statement, the Geo Group said that its family center has "cared exclusively for mothers together with their children since 2014 when it was established by the Obama administration."

    The company said the political contributions "should not be construed as an endorsement of all policies or positions adopted by any individual candidate," adding that it does "not take a position on nor have we ever advocated for or against criminal justice or immigration policies."

    Steve Owen, a spokesman for CoreCivic, said that the company's donation to Mr. Trump's inauguration was "consistent with our past practice of civic participation in and support for the inauguration process." He added that "under longstanding policy, CoreCivic does not draft, lobby for, promote or in any way take a position on proposals, policies or legislation that determine the basis or duration of an individual's incarceration or detention."

    In contrast to deep-pocketed private prison companies, many of the groups winning government contracts to care for migrant children are nonprofits and religious groups. Some of those groups are operating shelters for children separated from their families, as well as running transitional foster care after the children leave the shelters.

    Although these nonprofits are not doling out campaign donations, some nonetheless have ties to the Trump administration.

    Bethany Christian Services, a social services group that provides foster care to migrant children, has long been backed by the family foundation of Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump's education secretary. Over the years, the group has received more than $419,000 in grants from the foundation, tax records show.

    Bethany has said it was "deeply troubled and concerned" at the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" border enforcement policy, and said, "We believe that all children belong with their families." The group said it works with federal agencies to "reunify unaccompanied and separated children with their families as soon as possible."

    More broadly, Bethany said that it has been working with unaccompanied migrant children for more than 20 years, long before the Trump administration, and rejected any suggestion that its work might be influenced by the support it receives from the DeVos family.

    "Decades of hard work has provided us with the know-how required to support children and families in crisis," the organization said in a statement. "While we are extremely grateful to our donors and supporters, the idea that any single individual or organization could cause us to change practices is simply false and diminishes the incredible work of all those firmly focused on the well-being of displaced children."

    Ms. DeVos's personal spokesman, Greg McNeilly, said that the family was proud to invest in Bethany's work, and that the organization had a "great reputation."

    Another member of the Trump cabinet, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, once sat on the board of General Dynamics, which over the last 18 years has received millions of dollars in contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services office that works with migrant children. The company does not operate or construct any migrant shelters, but instead offers training and technical assistance to the shelters and provides other administrative services to the government. The company, which has a number of government contracts unrelated to the migrant children program, said it has "no role in the separation of children and families."

    Mr. Mattis, who resigned from the board upon entering the Trump administration in early 2017, is not the company's only connection to the president. A General Dynamics employee served on Mr. Trump's transition team, and the company's chief executive, Phebe Novakovic, attended a meeting at the White House last year with Mr. Trump and other corporate executives. On two occasions, Ms. Novakovic has praised Mr. Trump's trade actions.

    General Dynamics, which has registered to lobby on the issue of "border security," also operates a PAC that has donated to members of both parties, including more than $1.1 million to Republican candidates and causes during this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The company, which says its PAC "supports Congressional candidates who support a strong national defense, regardless of their party affiliation," made one of those donations to the congressional campaign of Greg Pence, the brother of Vice President Mike Pence.

    BCFS — a nonprofit group that operates a number of shelters housing migrant children, including a tent city outside of El Paso that has been the focus of protests — counts a former Republican congressman, Henry Bonilla, as a longtime board member and a lobbyist. In December 2016, Mr. Bonilla met with Mr. Trump, then the president-elect, to discuss joining his cabinet as agriculture secretary. BCFS has also long retained Ray Sullivan, a lobbyist and onetime chief of staff to Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who is now Mr. Trump's energy secretary.

    In a statement, BCFS said its "children sheltering mission has spanned Democratic and Republican Administrations, and comes with proper government procurement and oversight built in." Mr. Bonilla and Mr. Sullivan, BCFS said, help the group "respond to community needs and help inform federal, state and local officials about the BCFS System's capabilities and work."

    Erica Green contributed reporting. Rachel Shorey contributed research.



    5) 'Access to Literacy' Is Not a Constitutional Right, Judge in Detroit Rules

    By Jacey Fortin, July 4, 2018


    Students in Detroit sued state officials, claiming that dismal conditions in their public schools violate their constitutional rights. On Friday, a federal judge dismissed the suit.CreditKevin Miyazaki for The New York Times

    Do students at poorly performing schools have a constitutional right to a better education?

    On Friday, a Federal District Court judge in Michigan decided that they did not when he dismissed a class-action lawsuit filed by students at troubled schools in Detroit.

    The suit, filed in September 2016, argued that students at some of the city's most underperforming schools — serving mostly racial minorities — had been denied "access to literacy" because of underfunding, mismanagement and discrimination.

    The complaint described schools that were overcrowded with students but lacking in teachers; courses without basic resources like books and pencils; and classrooms that were bitingly cold in the winter, stiflingly hot in the summer and infested with rats and insects.

    Conditions like those, the lawsuit said, contributed to dismal test scores and left students woefully underprepared for life after high school.

    "The abysmal conditions and appalling outcomes in plaintiffs' schools are unprecedented," the complaint said. "And they would be unthinkable in schools serving predominantly white, affluent student populations."

    The lawsuit, which a lawyer for the plaintiffs said was the first of its kind at the federal level, named Michigan officials including Gov. Rick Snyder as defendants because the state had played an outsize role in managing Detroit's schools while the school district, and the city, struggled with a lack of resources.

    Photographs provided by the law firm that represented the students in the 2016 lawsuit show damaged floors and ceilings in Detroit classrooms.Creditvia Public Counsel

    In his decision on Friday dismissing the suit, Judge Stephen J. Murphy III said that "access to literacy" — which he also referred to as a "minimally adequate education" — was not a fundamental right. And he said the lawsuit had failed to show that the state had practiced overt racial discrimination.

    But he conceded that the conditions at some Detroit schools were "nothing short of devastating."

    Mark Rosenbaum, a lawyer with Public Counsel, a public interest law firm in California that led the legal team that represented the students, said he planned to appeal the decision. "In 2018, you shouldn't have to file lawsuits so that kids get access to teachers and books," he said, calling the condition of the city's schools a civil rights issue.

    "Historically, access to literacy has been a tool to subordinate certain groups and certain communities and to keep those communities down," he said.

    "And I think the most telling fact in Michigan today is that blameless kids in Detroit are going to schools where they don't find teachers or books, and this is just the latest version of that historic attempt to subordinate certain communities."

    A dilapidated history book at Osborn High School with a publication date of 1998, in photographs provided by a law firm.Creditvia Public Counsel

    The Michigan attorney general's office, whose lawyers represented the state and argued successfully to have the lawsuit dismissed, referred questions about the case to Mr. Snyder's office, which did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

    A report from the congressionally mandated National Assessment of Educational Progress found that last year, students in Detroit's public school district scored lower in reading and math than students in all of the other 26 large urban districts measured.

    When the lawsuit was filed, the Detroit school district was emerging from insolvency after Mr. Snyder signed off on a $617 million bailout and restructuring plan. It had spent years under a revolving-door series of state-appointed emergency managers beginning in 2009.

    But the schools were still falling apart, and critics of the state government compared it to the situation in Flint, Mich., where state-appointed emergency managers presided over a crisis that left residents with dangerous levels of lead in their tap water starting in 2014.

    In his decision, Judge Murphy agreed that state officials bore some responsibility for the quality of education in the district. He also agreed that giving students the opportunity to learn to read was "of incalculable importance," adding that some level of literacy was necessary for voting, applying for a job and securing a place to live.

    "But those points do not necessarily make access to literacy a fundamental right," he said.

    Paul Tractenberg, an expert in education and constitutional law and a professor emeritus at Rutgers Law School, said lawsuits like this one are typically filed — and have a better chance of success — in state-level courts.

    "In theory, it would be a great breakthrough to have the federal courts recognize education as a fundamental right," he said. "But I see no chance of that happening in my lifetime."



    6) Judge Orders Extension of FEMA Aid for Puerto Rican Storm Evacuees

    By Patricia Maazel, July 3, 2018


    David Olmeda and Christine Gonzalez's son Kahil, in the motel room in Kissimmee, Fla., where they have been living since Hurricane Maria forced them from their home in Puerto Rico.CreditSaul Martinez for The New York Times

    MIAMI — The Federal Emergency Management Agency must continue to pay for temporary housing for Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria for another 20 days, a federal judge ordered on Tuesday, another short reprieve for hundreds of families who have been unable to return to their homes.

    The decision by Judge Timothy S. Hillman of United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts will allow Puerto Rican evacuees benefiting from FEMA's temporary sheltering assistance program to remain in their government-paid hotel and motel rooms until checkout time on July 24 as the court holds further hearings to determine whether an additional extension is warranted.

    The aid was supposed to end at midnight on Saturday, but it was extended until midnight on July 4 after a civil-rights advocacy group filed a class-action lawsuit arguing that withdrawing the assistance would put some Puerto Ricans at risk of homelessness. About 950 families on the mainland and the island were still receiving the aid as of Tuesday, according to FEMA.

    That number is significantly smaller than the more than 1,700 families who were receiving aid under the program on Friday. They have been spread across more than 30 states, the biggest number in Florida, with a number of others in Puerto Rico, Massachusetts and New York.

    "For now, at least families won't be evicted," said Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, associate counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the group that filed the complaint seeking a permanent injunction against FEMA.

    William Booher, a spokesman for the agency, said in a statement that hotels would be notified of the judge's continuation of the temporary restraining order, but he declined to comment on the case.

    In a separate statement, FEMA said it was extending until Aug. 1 the deadline for hurricane victims living in motels under the program to obtain free airfare to fly home, along with coverage for luggage and pet transportation fees. The original cutoff was July 1.

    In his order on Tuesday, Judge Hillman ordered the plaintiffs and FEMA to submit further briefings in writing. In particular, he asked them to address the implications of a refusal by Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico to request an extension of the temporary sheltering assistance. FEMA argued the plaintiffs' lawsuit would not succeed because Mr. Rosselló agreed to the termination of the program, which had been extended three times before the June 30 deadline.



    7) Great Barrier Reef Imperiled as Heat Worsens Die-Offs, Experts Say

    By Jacqueline Williams, July 4, 2018


    Much of the Great Barrier Reef's dazzling color was erased by die-offs of coral in 2016 and 2017, caused by extreme ocean temperatures.CreditDavid Gray/Reuters

    SYDNEY, Australia — Scientists have again sounded the alarm about Australia's imperiled Great Barrier Reef, saying that by the 2030s it could see devastating mass bleachings as often as every two years unless greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced.

    "This would effectively sign the death certificate of one of the world's largest living marine structures," said Martin Rice, acting chief executive of the Climate Council, a publicly funded Australian research institute.

    The Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system on earth, was struck in 2016 and 2017 by massive die-offs of coral — caused by extreme ocean temperatures — that erased much of its dazzling color. Scientists said that while the reef would partly recover, it would never look the same again.

    Nearly a third of the reef's coral were killed, and the damage radically altered its mix of coral species, scientists said.

    Until late in the 20th century, large-scale coral bleaching events around the world occurred about every 27 years, on average, the Climate Council said in a report published Thursday. Now, it said, the rate is once every six years.

    If climate change is not curtailed, that timetable will continue to speed up, the report said. It warned that the Great Barrier Reef in particular could experience mass coral bleaching every two years by 2034, if current trends continue.

    Mr. Rice said he was on the Great Barrier Reef last week with a team of scientists, who found that there had been a discernible drop in the amount of marine life since last year.

    "It should serve as a serious warning signal for governments around the world to act now," he said.

    Scientists say intermittent underwater heat waves are intensifying, occurring more often and lasting longer because of climate change. That and broader, more permanent rising ocean temperatures are putting coral reefs at increased risk, they add.

    The Climate Council report follows an April pledge by Australia's government to spend tens of millions of dollars to try to reverse the damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Many environmentalists called the plan insufficient and said only a global solution to climate change would save it.

    "Unless drastic action is taken, extreme coral bleaching will be the new normal by the 2030s," said Lesley Hughes, a professor and ecologist at the Climate Council.

    The reef brings many divers and other visitors to Australia, which relies on it for about 70,000 jobs and billions of dollars annually in tourism revenue.

    The world's longest mass coral bleaching started in the North Atlantic in 2014, and over the next few years spread to reefs as far as Guam and American Samoa.

    "When the climate change is too fast for adaptation to keep up, then lots of things go extinct," said Sean Connolly, a professor at the government-funded center for coral reef studies at James Cook University in Queensland. "That's what we're facing now."



    8) Being Poor Can Mean Losing a Driver's License. Not Anymore in Tennessee.

    By Richard A. Oppel Jr, July 4, 2018


    People waited for their number to be called at a Driver Services Center in Memphis, Tenn. A court ruling could mean the reinstatement of driver's licenses for more than 100,000 state residents.CreditNikki Boertman/The Commercial Appeal, via Associated Press

    Millions of Americans have had their driver's licenses taken away not because they got drunk and got behind the wheel, or because they caused an accident and hurt someone: They lost their licenses because they were too poor to pay court costs or traffic fines, which can run into hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.

    About 40 states have such laws on the books that suspend or revoke licenses of drivers. But now, a federal district judge has ruled that one of these laws, in Tennessee, violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

    Experts say it is the first time a federal judge has formally declared any of these state laws unconstitutional. Critics have long argued that the laws make it harder for poor people to pay their debts, because the only way for them to do so — to get in the car and go to work — means breaking the law. And if they do drive, it means even more fees piled on if they get caught.

    The ruling does not affect states other than Tennessee. But it still is a major victory for advocates of the poor who have targeted license revocation laws as some of the worst examples of statutes that effectively criminalize poverty, where fees and fines and bail money for even minor infractions can sweep people into a vortex of mounting debts out of which many will never climb.

    The ruling in Tennessee could mean the reinstatement of driver's licenses for more than 100,000 Tennessee residents. A similar lawsuit is also pending before the same judge over unpaid traffic fines that have cost about a quarter-million Tennesseans their licenses. The precise number of residents who would get their licenses back is unclear because some also lost driving privileges for other reasons and would still be subject to revocation.

    In a ruling issued on Monday, Judge Aleta Trauger of Nashville cited the Tennessee law's failure to provide an exception for people who were too poor to pay off court debts, even if they wanted to.

    Kelly K. Smith, an official with the Tennessee attorney general's office, said state leaders were disappointed with the decision and were now "considering all of our legal options." The ruling instructs the state to stop these revocations and to find a way within 60 days to begin reinstating licenses taken away for no other reason than an inability to pay court debts.

    "This is the barrier that people who are poor cannot overcome," said Premal Dharia, director of litigation for Civil Rights Corps, one of the public interest groups that filed the Tennessee case on behalf of two men, who have each been homeless and who lost their license privileges over unpaid court debts.

    "Not only can you not visit family members, or go to church, or go to school, but you cannot go to work to earn the money to pay off these debts if you cannot drive," Ms. Dharia said. Other lawyers for the plaintiffs included public interest groups Just City and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, and a prominent national law firm, Baker Donelson.

    According to evidence presented in the Tennessee case, 93.4 percent of workers who reside in the state drive to work.

    The state revoked 146,211 driver's licenses for failure to pay court debts between July 2012 and June 2016. Only about 7 percent of those people were able to get their licenses reinstated in that same period.

    The plaintiffs in Tennessee are James Thomas and David Hixson. Both live in what Judge Trauger described as "severe poverty" and owe court debt from past convictions. Mr. Thomas, she wrote, is totally and permanently disabled; Mr. Hixson recently lived in a homeless shelter after serving time.

    "Each man struggles to afford the basic necessities of life and is unable to pay the court debt assessed against him," Judge Trauger wrote.

    According to evidence in the case, Mr. Thomas, 48, owed $289.70 in court costs from a conviction for trespassing after sheltering under a bridge during a rainstorm when he was homeless. He was later rejected for a driver's license because he had not paid those fees. Mr. Hixson, 50, owed $2,583.80 related to an unspecified criminal conviction, according to the judge's opinion; his license was revoked.

    The court debts that lead to revocations typically include fines imposed as punishment for misdemeanors and other lawbreaking, as well as fees levied to cover the costs of probation, incarceration, drug treatment, or even the use of public defenders.

    Judge Trauger criticized the Tennessee law not just because it has the effect — an unconstitutional effect, she said — of treating the wealthy and the poor differently.

    She also suggested that the law is bad public policy because it has the opposite effect of what was intended — spurring more people to pay off their debts.

    "Losing one's driver's license simultaneously makes the burdens of life more expensive and renders the prospect of amassing the resources needed to overcome those burdens more remote," she wrote.

    Once a license is suspended, new costs can mount quickly. People in Tennessee caught driving with a revoked license can be punished with up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense, and up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine for each subsequent offense.

    According to the Legal Aid Justice Center, a nonprofit that has fought against these laws, more than four million drivers have lost licenses over failure to pay court debts or traffic fines in just five states: Texas, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. Out of about 40 states with laws that can take licenses away for these debts, only a few require showing that the failure to pay is willful, the group says.

    In Michigan, a federal district judge recently issued a preliminary injunction against a license revocation law, though state officials say the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has stayed the injunction as it reviews the case.

    In total, as many as 10 million Americans currently have licenses revoked or suspended solely because they do not have the ability to pay these costs, said Lisa Foster, a former state judge in California who was director of the Department of Justice's Office for Access to Justice during the Obama administration.

    Judge Foster, now the co-director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center, a nonprofit that advocates eliminating many court fees, predicted the Tennessee ruling would be a harbinger of outcomes in legal challenges in other places.

    In an interview, Judge Foster said a few states have already rowed back enforcement of these laws.

    "When it is in the context of the justice system, the Supreme Court has said it is unconstitutional to treat two people differently who are identical in all respects except that one has money and one does not," she said.



    9) Criminal Convictions Behind Them, Few Have Had Their Records Sealed

    By Jan Ransom, July 4, 2018


    Carlos, 40, a taxi driver, has applied to have his conviction for stealing a bike when he was 18 sealed. He asked that his last name not be used and did not want to show his face.CreditMark Abramson for The New York Times

    Carlos grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn in the 1990s, then a rough-and-tumble neighborhood where he struggled to stay out of trouble. He later moved with his wife and two children to the South Bronx, where he made a career as a taxi driver.

    But he remained haunted by his past and wondered how different his life could have been if he didn't have a criminal record.

    At 18, Carlos, who asked that his last name not be used to protect his privacy, said he was addicted to drugs and alcohol when he and his friends stole a bicycle from another teenager while hanging out near the Williamsburg Bridge in 1997. He was convicted of third-degree robbery, a class D felony in 1998, and sentenced to 18 months at the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill and served over two years probation.

    After his release, he said he had trouble finding steady work and many employers fired him after learning of his conviction. He worked odd, usually low-paying jobs as a tow-truck driver, a messenger, a plumber, a mover and as an unlicensed security guard before joining the now-struggling yellow taxi industry.

    Now 40, Carlos, with help from the Legal Aid Society's Conviction Sealing Project, has filed an application in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn to have his conviction sealed under a new state law.

    He said he hopes the court will grant him the second chance he has dreamed of: "I want to do better for my children and myself."

    Under the law, which went into effect in October, a person with a conviction that is at least 10 years old can apply to have their record sealed. An applicant cannot have more than two misdemeanor convictions or one felony conviction and one misdemeanor conviction. People with certain convictions, such as violent felonies and sex offenses, are not eligible.

    Once a record is sealed, the conviction would no longer be found through searches of public records. However, law enforcement agencies and employers for jobs that require a firearm could still access those records. If asked by a potential employer, a person must disclose any prior convictions that are not sealed, according to the Department of Labor.

    "It's a big improvement from what we had, but it's not a true clean slate," said Emma Goodman, a staff lawyer at the Legal Aid Society who is leading the Conviction Sealing Project. Still, she said, the law is a step in the right direction. "The more people who can get good jobs," she said, "the less likely they are to end up in a situation where they're getting arrested."

    As of the end of May, the latest numbers available, 346 people statewide had had their convictions sealed; about a third of them are from New York City. Defense lawyers, advocates and prosecutors said that number was much lower than they had expected. They attributed it, in part, to the difficulty in determining how many people are eligible for the program and where they live.

    "We are operating in the dark," said Wesley Caines, a re-entry and community outreach coordinator for the Bronx Defender Services, a nonprofit. "In the Bronx, there are some communities that have candidates for sealing, but we don't know who they are or how many."

    The lack of information makes it hard to create targeted educational campaigns to inform people about the new law, Mr. Caines said.

    The Office of Court Administration and the Division of Criminal Justice Services cannot estimate how may people might be eligible because several factors can make someone ineligible, such as an out-of-state or federal conviction that would not appear on their New York record. But Ms. Goodman, who said she has helped 32 people apply to seal their records, said hundreds of thousands of people could be eligible.

    In New York City, lawyers and prosecutors said the process is not without challenges. People who have tried to have their records sealed without a lawyer are sometimes given the runaround or turned away, Ms. Goodman said. Some lawyers charge exorbitant fees to help people with their applications and the online application instructions can be confusing, advocates said.

    People have also submitted incomplete applications or have mistakenly mailed their applications to the state attorney general's office instead of with the district attorney's office, said Robert J. Masters, an executive assistant district attorney in Queens. Applicants must file a motion with the court they were convicted in and must give a copy to the district attorney's office that prosecuted the case.

    Most of the applications in Queens were completed without help from a lawyer, Mr. Masters said. "Which is probably why a lot are ineligible," Mr. Masters said. .

    Defense lawyers and advocates also say that the law leaves out scores of people — mostly blacks and Hispanics — who, because they live in heavily policed communities, are more likely to have multiple convictions for minor offenses. A recent New York Times investigation found that in the past three years, black residents were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white people.

    "You see a lot of people who with that first conviction then have a number of other smaller convictions," said Alison Wilkey, the director of public policy at the Prisoner Re-entry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.

    A criminal record can limit a person's employment and housing opportunities, making it difficult for them to transition back into their communities.

    Carmen, 52, a married mother of two who lives in the Bronx, was convicted of fourth-degree grand larceny for stealing money from her employer, Nick Lugo Travel Agency. She said she was desperate at the time, and took the money when she began falling behind on the rent she had to pay the agency. She was sentenced to five years probation. That was 15 years ago, and now Carmen, whose conviction was recently sealed, is looking forward to a fresh start and getting the hospital job she has always wanted.

    "This incident was almost like a stain on my soul," said Carmen, who also asked that her last name not be used. "I want to do this for myself and leave it in the past."

    Many other states have laws that seal and expunge, or erase, some criminal records.

    Two years ago, New Jersey lawmakers cut from 10 years to five years the time a person must wait to seek to have their record expunged. In Nevada, a person can seek to have a conviction sealed after one to 10 years based on the type of conviction.

    New York State, however, does not expunge convictions.

    "New York is a very challenging place to live for anyone, with hurdles constantly set up. Every job, every opportunity there's hurdles," said Tara Moss, a lawyer who does pro bono work for the law firm Winston & Straw, which is a partner on the Conviction Sealing Project. "Having a conviction, even a minor one, it puts up another hurdle. We're trying to give people a leg up."



    10)  Protester Climbs Base of Statue of Liberty, Forcing Shutdown of Landmark

    By Rick Rojas, July 4, 2018


    A protester who scaled the base of the Statue of Liberty forced the shutdown of the monument. The island was cleared of an estimated 4,500 tourists, and the climber was taken safely into custody several hours later.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

    "Give me your tired, your poor 

    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. 

    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 

    Send these, the homeless. Tempest-tost to me, 

    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    The authorities cleared visitors from the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July after a woman protesting the Trump administration's immigration policies climbed onto its base and refused to come down. About three hours later, police officers followed the woman onto the statue and took her safely into custody.

    The standoff created an unexpected spectacle in New York Harbor that culminated not long before the planned Independence Day fireworks were set to start nearby on the Hudson River. Television networks aired live coverage through the afternoon, showing a continuous video feed of the protester as she moved around the base of the statue.

    The woman started climbing shortly after 3 p.m. on what officials described as one of the busiest days of the year for the national monument. National Park Service officials said that more than 20,000 tourists typically visit the monument each July 4.

    Throughout the afternoon, the woman, identified by federal officials as Therese Okoumou, waved what looked like a T-shirt and reclined in a crease of the statue's robe. The copper is only about one-tenth of an inch thick, and officials feared she could damage the statue.

    Before long, police officers and park rangers gathered beneath Ms. Okoumou after she refused their orders to come down. Attached to ropes, rescuers from the New York Police Department's Emergency Service Unit climbed up and cornered her at about 6:30 p.m.

    Ms. Okoumou is in federal custody and is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, a spokesman for the United State's attorney's office said.

    Jerry Willis, a spokesman for the National Park Service, said that park officials, prompted by security concerns, started evacuating visitors from the island about 3:30 p.m. About 4,500 people were on the island at the time, and they had all left within about an hour, Mr. Willis said.

    The episode came after the arrest of seven people in a separate demonstration at the statue on Wednesday. The earlier protest involved members of Rise and Resist, a group formed after the 2016 presidential election, who hung a banner calling for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be abolished. Members of the group, angered by the Trump administration's immigration policies, called the agency a "threat to our liberty and way of life."

    Organizers of the Rise and Resist protest said that Ms. Okoumou's actions were separate from the group's planned demonstration, which she had participated in.

    Jay W. Walker, one of the group's organizers, said that Ms. Okoumou, who is known to other members as Patricia, had been involved with Rise and Resist for several months. He described her as active, regularly taking part in the group's events. But on Wednesday, he said, other members were not aware of her plans to climb the statue.

    "She's a free citizen in the world — it's a choice she made," Mr. Walker said. "I think the choice she made is certainly bringing more attention to the overall protest."

    He added, "We don't condemn her for the choice she made, and we're going to do anything we can to support her."

    The Statue of Liberty, the colossal mint-green monument and one of the most visible attractions linked to New York City, has long been a potent protest symbol, with a history about as old as the statue itself as a stage for political demonstrations.

    Suffragists protested at its unveiling in 1886, circling the island in a boat. In 1976, members of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War barricaded themselves inside the monument to protest cuts in education benefits, and last year, a group hung a banner that said "refugees welcome."

    "On a day like Independence Day, we felt that it was the perfect melding of these huge symbols of what this country stands for," Mr. Walker said of Rise and Resist.

    But the Statue of Liberty is also a draw for visitors who have come from around the world, and Mr. Willis said that Ms. Okoumou's actions, which he described as a stunt, ruined the plans of the many others who tried to visit the island.

    "It is their one and only chance to come here," he said. "Unfortunately, we had to clear the island."

    Benjamin Weiser contributed reporting.



    11) In France, Police Killing Unleashes Familiar Riots and Recrimination

    By Adam Nossiter, July 4, 2018


    Firefighters working to put out a fire in the Malakoff neighborhood of Nantes, France, on Wednesday after a police killing set off riots.CreditSebastien Salom Gomis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    PARIS — A night of rioting touched off by a police killing set off a familiar replay of grim media images on Wednesday morning in France, where law enforcement tactics in immigrant neighborhoods are a regular source of friction.

    French television replayed a seemingly endless loop of images from the western city of Nantes of burned-out cars, smashed bus shelters and shattered store fronts: recurrent symbols of the country's struggles with policing in minority neighborhoods.

    Nantes, located on the Atlantic Coast, is known for its vibrant start-up scene and tech-oriented economy, but not much of that has rubbed off on neighborhoods like Le Breil.

    It was there that the riot police pulled over a 22-year-old man acquaintances identified as Aboubakar, the son of immigrants from Guinea, during a traffic stop Tuesday night. (The authorities did not name him.)

    The accounts of residents and the officers differ, but one thing was certain: The young man was shot in the neck and died before he made it to the hospital.

    Police shootings are rare in France compared with the United States, and when they occur the investigative machinery of the French state is mobilized. On Tuesday evening, the mayor of Nantes, Johanna Rolland, a Socialist, called for "total transparency over what has happened tonight," and extended her sympathies to the family of the slain man.

    Officials said that Aboubakar had had at least eight previous encounters with the police and that he had had an outstanding arrest warrant on a robbery charge.

    On Tuesday night, after he was pulled over, they said, he backed his car up at high speed toward children and a police officer. But residents say that he had not been acting aggressively.

    What followed was a night in which angry youths in three Nantes neighborhoods threw firebombs and burned eight buildings and some 30 cars, the authorities said.

    Tensions between the police and the communities they patrol have erupted in violence repeatedly over the years.

    In May 2017, there were riots in a Paris suburb after a young man was killed while fleeing the police; there were riots in July 2016 after an arrest; and days of rioting erupted in 2005 all over France after two young men were electrocuted while fleeing from the police.

    Each time, the government vowed to bring in more help to the neighborhoods. President Emmanuel Macron is only the latest to announce such help, mostly through an enhanced police presence. Tensions with the police persist.

    "It's always the same scenario," said Gérard Mauger, an emeritus scholar at the CNRS research institute in Paris who has studied urban riots in France for decades. "But it's hardened. The score settling is more violent. Now there are guns."

    He added: "For 40 years we've had 10 percent unemployment, much higher in these neighborhoods. The first victims of it are the immigrants."

    In the Le Breil neighborhood of Nantes, the police had increased their presence in recent weeks because of confrontations between local youths. "There's been a lot of score settling recently," Saïd En-Némèr, who runs a local youth group, said.

    Mr. En-Némèr, in a phone interview from Nantes, said, "They had beefed up the police presence to 'protect' the neighborhood."

    Thierry Spitz, a representative of the local police union, said: "These neighborhoods are very on edge. There are gunshots at least once a month."

    On the night Aboubakar was shot, officials said, the police were on the lookout for the car he was driving because it was tied to drug trafficking in Rennes. Mr. Spitz said the officers noticed that the young man was not wearing a seatbelt and pulled him over.

    Aboubakar gave the officers a phony ID, the union official said, and was ordered to the police station. The young man then "backed up his car at high speed; there were two kids behind the car," Mr. Spitz said. "One of the officers pushed them out of the way and was touched by the car," he said.

    "The risk was great," Mr. Spitz said. "The officer had to use his weapon. To me, it was a case of legitimate defense."

    Mr. En-Némèr, who knew Aboubakar from soccer matches organized by his group, vigorously disputed the police account. He said 10 witnesses interviewed by him and his group all agreed: There had been no aggression from the young man.

    "This is clearly a police blunder," he said. "The young man was complying with the officers. He wasn't aggressive. The police check was going just fine."

    He contested the idea that the car had struck an officer.

    "They fired at him without warning," Mr. En-Némèr said. "There was lots of blood coming from his neck, but it was too late; the ambulance came too late."

    Aboubakar was known as "cheerful" and "respectful," Mr. En-Némèr said. "Now," he said, "they are trying to pass him off as a thug."

    Judicial officials in Nantes said the shooting would be investigated, and a march was being organized for Thursday.

    For Mr. En-Némèr, though, the shooting demonstrated that "you might as well re-establish the death penalty."




    12) Americans Are Having Fewer Babies. They Told Us Why.

    By Claire Cain Miller, July 5, 2018


    Jessica Boer, 26, kissing her cat Kip at her home in Portage, Mich. Like an increasing number of people in her generation, she does not plan to have children. "Now we know we have a choice," she said.

    Americans are having fewer babies. At first, researchers thought the declining fertility rate was because of the recession, but it kept falling even as the economy recovered. Now it has reached a record low for the second consecutive year.

    Because the fertility rate subtly shapes many major issues of the day — including immigration, education, housing, the labor supply, the social safety net and support for working families — there's a lot of concern about why today's young adults aren't having as many children. So we asked them. 

    Wanting more leisure time and personal freedom; not having a partner yet; not being able to afford child-care costs — these were the top reasons young adults gave for not wanting or not being sure they wanted children, according to a new survey conducted by Morning Consult for The New York Times.

    About a quarter of the respondents who had children or planned to said they had fewer or expected to have fewer than they wanted. The largest shares said they delayed or stopped having children because of concerns about having enough time or money.

    The survey, one of the most comprehensive explorations of the reasons that adults are having fewer children, tells a story that is partly about greater gender equality. Women have more agency over their lives, and many feel that motherhood has become more of a choice. 

    But it's also a story of economic insecurity. Young people have record student debt, many graduated in a recession and many can't afford homes — all as parenthood has become more expensive. Women in particular pay an earnings penalty for having children. 

    "We want to invest more in each child to give them the best opportunities to compete in an increasingly unequal environment," said Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland who studies families and has written about fertility

    At the same time, he said, "There is no getting around the fact that the relationship between gender equality and fertility is very strong: There are no high-fertility countries that are gender equal."

    The vast majority of women in the United States still have children. But the most commonly used measure of fertility, the number of births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age, was 60.2 last year, a record low. The total fertility rate — which estimates how many children women will have based on current patterns — is down to 1.8, below the replacement level in developed countries of 2.1. 

    The United States seems to have almost caught up with most of the rest of the industrialized world's low fertility rates. It used to have higher fertility for reasons like more teenage pregnancies, more unintended pregnancies and high fertility among Hispanic immigrants. But those trends have recently reversed, in part because of increased use of long-acting birth control methods like IUDs. 

    In the Morning Consult and Times survey, more than half of the 1,858 respondents — a nationally representative sample of men and women ages 20 to 45 — said they planned to have fewer children than their parents. About half were already parents. Of those who weren't, 42 percent said they wanted children, 24 percent said they did not and 34 percent said they weren't sure.

    One of the biggest factors was personal: having no desire for children and wanting more leisure time, a pattern that has also shown up in social science research A quarter of poll respondents who didn't plan to have children said one reason was they didn't think they'd be good parents. 

    Jessica Boer, 26, has a long list of things she'd rather spend time doing than raising children: being with her family and her fiancé; traveling; focusing on her job as a nurse; getting a master's degree; playing with her cats. 

    "My parents got married right out of high school and had me and they were miserable," said Ms. Boer, who lives in Portage, Mich. "But now we know we have a choice."

    She said she had such high expectations for parents that she wasn't sure she could meet them: "I would have the responsibility to raise this person into a functional and productive citizen, and some days I'm not even responsible."

    This generation, unlike the ones that came before it, is as likely as not to earn less than their parents. Among people who did not plan to have children, 23 percent said it was because they were worried about the economy. A third said they couldn't afford child care, 24 percent said they couldn't afford a house and 13 percent cited student debt

    Financial concerns also led people to have fewer children than what they considered to be ideal: 64 percent said it was because child care was too expensive, 43 percent said they waited too long because of financial instability and about 40 percent said it was because of a lack of paid family leave. 

    Women face another economic obstacle: Their careers can stall when they become mothers.

    This spring, Brittany Butler, 22, became the first person in her family to graduate from college, and she will start graduate school in social work in the fall. She said it would probably be at least 10 years before she considered having children, until she could raise them in very different circumstances than in her poor hometown neighborhood in Baton Rouge, La. 

    She admits being "a little nervous" that it may become harder to get pregnant, but she wants to pay off her student loans and, most of all, be able to live in a safe neighborhood. 

    "A lot of people, especially communities of color, can't really afford that now," she said. "I'm just apprehensive about going back to poverty. I know how it goes, I know the effects of it, and I'm thinking, 'Can I ever break this curse?' I would just like to change the narrative around." 

    Starting a family used to be what people did to embark on adulthood; now many say they want to wait. Last year, the only age group in which the fertility rate increased was women ages 40 to 44. Delaying marriage and birth is a big reason people say they had fewer children than their ideal number: Female fertility begins significantly decreasing at age 32.

    David Carlson, 29, graduated from college in 2010, when the job market was still rough. He and his wife had $100,000 in undergraduate debt between them. They both work full time — he in corporate finance and she in counseling — but they don't yet feel they can take time away from their careers. 

    "Wages are not growing in proportion to the cost of living, and with student loans on top of that, it's just really hard to get your financial footing — even if you've gone to college, work in a corporate job and have dual incomes," said Mr. Carlson, who lives in Minneapolis and writes a personal finance blog for millennials. 

    He said they'd consider adoption if they decided to have children but had waited too long. Another option for having children later in life is egg freezing. Only 1 percent of female survey respondents said they had frozen their eggs — but almost half said they would if not for the cost. 

    Researchers say the United States could adopt policies that make it easier for people to both raise children and build careers. Government spending on child care for young children has the strongest effect. Policies that encourage parents to share child care help, too. Germany and Japan have used such ideas to reverse declining fertility

    High employment among women and high fertility don't have to be in conflict, but they will be without such policies, said Olivier Thevenon, an economist studying child and family policies at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

    "Whether the young generation will catch up later is not certain," he said, "but will depend on their capacity to combine work and family."

    Claire Cain Miller writes about gender, families and the future of work for The Upshot. She joined The Times in 2008 and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues.



    13) How Smart TVs in Millions of U.S. Homes Track More Than What's On Tonight

    By Sapna Maheshwari, July 5, 2018


    A detail from a slide from a marketing presentation by Samba TV looking at how it can analyze what viewers are watching, determine how many connected devices they have in the house and then target them with ads.

    The growing concern over online data and user privacy has been focused on tech giants like Facebook and devices like smartphones. But people's data is also increasingly being vacuumed right out of their living rooms via their televisions, sometimes without their knowledge.

    In recent years, data companies have harnessed new technology to immediately identify what people are watching on internet-connected TVs, then using that information to send targeted advertisements to other devices in their homes. Marketers, forever hungry to get their products in front of the people most likely to buy them, have eagerly embraced such practices. But the companies watching what people watch have also faced scrutiny from regulators and privacy advocates over how transparent they are being with users.

    Samba TV is one of the bigger companies that track viewer information to make personalized show recommendations. The company said it collected viewing data from 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States, and it has raised $40 million in venture funding from investors including Time Warner , the cable operator Liberty Global and the billionaire Mark Cuban.

    Samba TV has struck deals with roughly a dozen TV brands — including Sony, Sharp, TCL and Philips — to place its software on certain sets. When people set up their TVs, a screen urges them to enable a service called Samba Interactive TV, saying it recommends shows and provides special offers "by cleverly recognizing onscreen content." But the screen, which contains the enable button, does not detail how much information Samba TV collects to make those recommendations.

    Samba TV declined to provide recent statistics, but one of its executives said at the end of 2016 that more than 90 percent of people opted in.

    Once enabled, Samba TV can track nearly everything that appears on the TV on a second-by-second basis, essentially reading pixels to identify network shows and ads, as well as programs on Netflix and HBO and even video games played on the TV. Samba TV has even offered advertisers the ability to base their targeting on whether people watch conservative or liberal media outlets and which party's presidential debate they watched.

    The big draw for advertisers — which have included Citi and JetBlue in the past, and now Expedia — is that Samba TV can also identify other devices in the home that share the TV's internet connection.

    Samba TV, which says it has adhered to privacy guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission, does not directly sell its data. Instead, advertisers can pay the company to direct ads to other gadgets in a home after their TV commercials play, or one from a rival airs. Advertisers can also add to their websites a tag from Samba TV that allows them to determine if people visit after watching one of their commercials.

    If it sounds a lot like the internet — a company with little name recognition tracking your behavior, then slicing and dicing it to sell ads — that's the point. But consumers do not typically expect the so-called idiot box to be a savant.

    "It's still not intuitive that the box maker or the software embedded by the box maker is going to be doing this," said Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy and technology policy at the advocacy group Consumers Union and a former policy director at the Federal Trade Commission. "I'd like to see companies do a better job of making that clear and explaining the value proposition to consumers."

    About 45 percent of TV households in the United States had at least one smart TV at the end of 2017, IHS Markit data showed. Samba TV, which is based in San Francisco and has about 250 employees, competes against several companies, including Inscape, the data arm of the consumer electronics maker Vizio, and a start-up called Alphonso.

    It can be a cutthroat business. Samba has sued Alphonso for patent infringement. Last year, Vizio paid $2.2 million to settle claims by the Federal Trade Commission and the state of New Jersey that it was collecting and selling viewing data from millions of smart TVs without the knowledge or consent of set owners. In December, The New York Times reported that Alphonso was using gaming apps to gain access to smartphone microphones and listen for audio signals in TV ads and shows.

    Samba TV's language is clear, said Bill Daddi, a spokesman. "Each version has clearly identified that we use technology to recognize what's onscreen, to create benefit for the consumer as well as Samba, its partners and advertisers," he added.

    Still, David Kitchen, a software engineer in London, said he was startled to learn how Samba TV worked after encountering its opt-in screen during a software update on his Sony Bravia set.

    The opt-in read: "Interact with your favorite shows. Get recommendations based on the content you love. Connect your devices for exclusive content and special offers. By cleverly recognizing onscreen content, Samba Interactive TV lets you engage with your TV in a whole new way."

    The language prompted Mr. Kitchen to research Samba TV's data collection and raise concerns online about its practices.

    Enabling the service meant that consumers agreed to Samba TV's terms of service and privacy policy, the opt-in screen said. But consumers couldn't read those unless they went online or clicked through to another screen on the TV. The privacy policy, which provided more details about the information collected through the software, was more than 4,000 words, and the terms exceeded 6,500 words.

    "The thing that really struck me was this seems like quite an enormous ask for what seems like a silly, trivial feature," Mr. Kitchen said. "You appear to opt into a discovery-recommendation service, but what you're really opting into is pervasive monitoring on your TV."

    Ashwin Navin, Samba TV's chief executive, said that the company's use of data for advertising is made clear through the reference to "special offers," and that the opt-in language "is meant to be as simple as it possibly can be."

    "It's pretty upfront about the fact that this is what the software does — it reads what's on the screen to drive recommendations and special offers," Mr. Navin said. "We've taken an abundance of caution to put consumers in control of the data and give them disclosure on what we use the data for."

    Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said few people review the fine print in their zeal to set up new televisions. He said the notice should also describe Samba TV's "device map," which matches TV content to mobile gadgets, according to a document on its website, and can help the company track users "in their office, in line at the food truck and on the road as they travel."

    Mr. Brookman of the Consumers Union, who reviewed the opt-in screen, said the trade-off was not clear for consumers. "Maybe the interactive features are so fantastic that they don't mind that the company's logging all the stuff that they're watching, but I don't think that's evident from this," he said.

    Citi and JetBlue, which appear in some Samba TV marketing materials, said they stopped working with the company in 2016 but not before publicly endorsing its effectiveness. JetBlue hailed in a news release the increase in site visits driven by syncing its online ads with TV ads, while Christine DiLandro, a marketing director at Citi, joined Mr. Navin at an industry event at the end of 2015. In a video of the event, Ms. DiLandro described the ability to target people with digital ads after the company's TV commercials aired as "a little magical."

    The Times is among the websites that allow advertisers to use data from Samba to track if people who see their ads visit their websites, but a Times spokeswoman, Eileen Murphy, said that the company did that "simply as a matter of convenience for our clients" and that it was not an endorsement of Samba TV's technology.

    Companies like Samba TV are also a boon for TV makers, whose profit margins from selling sets can be slim. Samba TV essentially pays companies like Sony to include its software. Samba TV said "our business model does subsidize a small piece of the television hardware," though it declined to provide further details.

    Smart TV companies aren't subject to the stricter rules and regulations regarding viewing data that have traditionally applied to cable companies, helping fuel "this rise of weird ways to figure out what someone's watching," said Jonathan Mayer, an assistant professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University and a former technology adviser at the Federal Communications Commission.

    The smart TV companies are overseen by the Federal Trade Commission, Mr. Mayer said, meaning that "as long as you're truthful to consumers, even if you make it really hard to exercise choices or don't offer choices at all, you probably don't have much of a legal issue."

    Mr. Daddi said the trade commission had held up Samba TV as "an exemplary model of data privacy and opt-in policies," pointing to its participation in a smart TV workshop the agency held in late 2016. A commission spokeswoman said that it invited a diverse array of panelists to events and that "an invitation to participate in an F.T.C. event does not convey an endorsement of that company or organization." She added that the agency does not "endorse or bless companies' practices."

    Mr. Daddi added: "We have millions of viewers who have explicitly opted into our service and have continued to use it for years. So it is a fair argument to make that far more consumers are satisfied with Samba than surprised by it."

    Some worry, more broadly, about the TV industry's increasing ability to use and share information about what people are watching with the internet ad ecosystem.

    "I think people have rebelled to the online targeted ad experience," Mr. Brookman said, "and I think they wouldn't necessarily expect that from their TV."

    Kevin Roose contributed reporting.
















































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