"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.

LaborFest 2018

and The FilmWorks United International 

Working Class Film & Video Festival

proudly presents the film 

Pride (2014)

Celebrate with your community an extraordinary story and an equally extraordinary film, PrideThursday, July 19, 7pm at 518 Valencia in San Francisco.  Admission is free. 

Pride is based on a true story.  The film depicts a group of lesbians and gay who raised money to help families affected by the British miners' strike in 1984, of what would become the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) campaign. The alliance was unlike any seen before and was ultimately successful.

The story is set in the context former Prime Minister Thatcher decision to force the National Union of Miners out on strike in 1984 - 1985 in an effort to break the miners' union.  The Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) was an alliance of lesbians and gay men who formed throughout the United Kingdom in support of the striking British miners during the yearlong UK miners' strike.

Despite initial and difficult efforts to break through the socially conservative miners' communities, the LGSM and the miners finally joined together in a common struggle for justice and human rights.  By the end of the strike, there were eleven chapters throughout the UK, and the miners ended up leading London's Lesbian and Gay Pride parade in 1985. This powerful story, through comedy and real history, tells us how we can build working class unity.

LaborFest 2018 presents the film

Dare to Struggle Dare to Win

Laborfest and the FilmWorks United International Working Class Film & Video Festival presents the acclaimed film Dare to Struggle Dare to Win, directed by Jean-Pierre Thorn, July 20 at 7pm, 518 Valencia Street in San Francisco.  Admission is free.

In the middle of the May-June 1968 French General Strike, Jean Pierre-Thorn, a film student at University of Paris, took his camera to the Flins Renault auto plant and ended up in the middle of the worker's struggle. Dare to Struggle Dare to Win is an intimate and close-up look at the struggle of the French workers during that historic strike and occupation of the Renault factory. We see how the occupation took place from the inside and the role of the students in supporting the occupation. 

The strikers not only had to fight the bosses but also the CGT (France's largest trade union federation) and the closely linked French Communist Party (PCF), who were both opposed to the general strike.  Dare to Struggle Dare to Win depicts the heroic attempts of many of the 5,000 students and workers from other workplaces and regions to reach the factory in order to support the occupation. The police, also numbering in the thousands, attempted to block them from reaching the factory, so the street fighting in the small town of Flins took on a similar appearance to the battles of the Latin Quarter in Paris, as local residents supported the strikers and their supporters who came to show their solidarity. Following the film there will be a discussion.

LaborFest 2018 presents

The Rockin' Solidarity Labor Chorus: No Human Is Illegal

Join your neighbors and friends at this Laborfest concert with the Rockin' Solidarity Labor Chorus, July 20 at 7pm at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin Street in San Francisco.  A donation is requested.

The Rockin' Solidarity Labor Chorus presents a history of immigration, told through the lens of family and policy and illustrated by songs old and new. Chorus members will share their own families' migration experiences;

The Labor Heritage Rockin' Solidarity Chorus is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and is made up of workers from many unions as well students and independent folks who love to sing.  The Chorus is dedicated to building more democracy and representation within our unions and comes together to celebrate our love of music and workers' culture

LaborFest 2018 opened 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.

LaborFest is the premier labor cultural arts and film festival in the United States. 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/



July 24th: Rise Mass Meeting in San Francisco

  We're less than 2 months away from the biggest climate march California has ever seen. Together we'll take the streets of San Francisco to Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice, and demand Governor Jerry Brown and other local elected officials take real action on climate change.

  Watch and share our new video to invite your friends to march, then join next Tuesday's Mass Meeting in San Francisco:


  Asian Pacific Environmental Network, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Idle No More SF Bay, Jobs With Justice, North Bay Organizing Project, PODER, SEIU 1021, 350.org and over 50 other organizations will be at the third Mass Organizing Meeting where we'll discuss and build people power around the September 8th Global Day of Action.

  Can you join us on Tuesday, July 24th in San Francisco for the third Mass Organizing Meeting for Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice? RSVP now:


  This will be your opportunity to bring your talents, gifts, and joy to our movement and demand elected leaders support a just transition away from fossil fuels and 100% renewable energy for all.

  Here are the final details for the meeting:

  Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice July Mass Organizing Meeting

 Tuesday, July 24th, 5:30- 8:00 PM 

Sha'ar Zahav, 290 Dolores Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

  Help make this action the biggest California has ever see – RSVP to join us on Tuesday, July 24th for the Rise for Climate, Jobs & Justice Mass Organizing Meeting:


  P.S. If you can't make the organizing meeting, but still want to be looped in about California organizing, join the statewide call this Thursday, July 19th at 6:00 PM:



  Action Network is an open platform that empowers individuals and groups to organize for progressive causes. We encourage responsible activism, and do not support using the platform to take unlawful or other improper action. We do not control or endorse the conduct of users and make no representations of any kind about them.






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) 2 Killed in Gaza, 4 Wounded in Israel, in Most Intense Fighting Since 2014 War

    By David M. Halbfinger, July 14, 2018


    A daylong exchange of rockets and airstrikes in and around the Gaza Strip reflected the most intense fighting since the 2014 war.CreditMahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    JERUSALEM — Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike and four Israelis were wounded by mortar fire from Gaza on Saturday as fighting in and around the Gaza Strip escalated to what the Israeli prime minister called the most intense level since the 2014 war.

    Hamas and allied Islamic militant groups fired nearly 100 projectiles at Israeli territory throughout the day, most of them mortar rounds, though rockets were fired at the city of Ashkelon.

    Israel's Iron Dome air-defense batteries intercepted more than 20 of those that had the potential to do damage, the military said, but some got through. A mortar struck the courtyard of a Sderot synagogue, according to the Israeli military, and local news media reported that a house in Sderot was also hit, wounding four members of a family.

    "All the house was smoke and glass," said one member, Aharon Buchris, from his hospital bed in Ashkelon, where he was treated for head and leg wounds. His wife and two daughters were also hurt. "There was a lot of blood. The television exploded, the aquarium exploded."

    Azzat Magirov, 45, a neighbor, told Ynet that she had accompanied the family's two daughters, ages 14 and 15, to the hospital. She described hearing "a boom" and then shouting from the neighbors' home, before running over and finding them all bleeding. The rocket had exploded outside their living room window, and an aquarium inside the house had shattered.

    "Dead fish, glass and blood covered the floor," she said. "The mother was in the kitchen and was in shock."

    She added, "I hugged the children and then I was covered in blood."

    Another Sderot resident, Refael Yifrah, told Kan Radio that she heard a terrifying blast around 6:15 p.m., about 15 seconds after receiving a text alert of incoming fire, but that parked cars bore the brunt of the shrapnel.

    "It's better to be in Gaza where they get warning that they're going to be fired upon in one neighborhood or another and they evacuate," Ms. Yifrah said. "Here, there's an alert, no one knows where it's going to land."

    The alerts kept coming all day long, and Israeli aircraft pounded at scores of what it called strictly military targets, including tunnels as well as storage sites for helium used to inflate incendiary balloons. The balloons, along with flaming kites, have scorched thousands of acres of Israeli farmland in recent months.

    But Israel's targets on Saturday also included one in downtown Gaza City that Israel said was used by Hamas as a training center for urban warfare and was built atop a tunnel complex used to train fighters in underground combat.

    Two Palestinian teenagers were killed and 14 people wounded in the attack, which heavily damaged the building.

    Witnesses said the teenagers were relaxing near the roof of the five-story structure, little more than a concrete skeleton, when Israeli drones struck with warning shots — an Israeli practice known as "roof knocking" — before the bombing began in earnest. In video images released by the Israeli military, a large number of people can be seen running for safety on the building's rooftop after one of the initial drone strikes.

    The building, in Al Katiba Square, sits within a block of Al Azhar University, various Hamas government offices and a grassy square that is a popular picnic spot for Gaza families. A mosque next door appeared largely unscathed aside from some broken windows.

    Muhammad Abdelaal, 30, a guard at the ministry of religious affairs, said he raced to the top of the training center after the initial drone strikes and helped carry the two teenagers, who suffered head injuries, down to ambulances, then returned to his post to lock up. Just then, he said, another rocket hit close to him, and he was riddled with shrapnel. He was interviewed at Shifa Hospital while soaked with blood and being treated for his wounds.

    Israel said it warned Palestinians in Arabic to steer clear of Hamas locations and centers of militant activity. The initial drone strikes came more than an hour before the building was blown up, said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces.

    "Any uninvolved civilian casualties is regrettable, but the I.D.F. took extreme safety measures in order to signal our intentions and to warn anyone who was near what our intentions were," he said.

    Saturday's fighting did not arise out of the blue: It came as a ratcheting-up of hostilities a day earlier, when an Israeli army officer was wounded by an explosive hurled across the barrier fence from Gaza, and an unarmed 14-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed as he climbed the fence.

    The sheer number of mortars and rockets fired from Gaza was itself an escalation. Of roughly 100 launched before 8 p.m., most landed in open areas, said Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovic of Israel's air-defense forces. "We engaged more than 20, each one of them a huge threat," he said. "A few of them we didn't intercept, and we saw the damage." As effective as Iron Dome is, he added, no missile shield is impregnable: "There is no magic solution."

    By Saturday night, the two sides were still exchanging blows, but Hamas said at about 10 p.m. that regional mediation had brought about a cease-fire. It was not immediately clear, however, that this would hold. Each side has tended to insist on getting in the last word.

    And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel posted a message on Twitter assuring his citizens that Israel had "struck Hamas the harshest blow since Protective Edge" — the name for Israel's 2014 military operation in Gaza — "but we shall increase the force of our attacks as necessary."

    Iyad Abuheweila and Ibrahim El-Mughraby contributed reporting from Gaza City.



    2)  It's 4 A.M. The Baby's Coming. But the Hospital Is 100 Miles Away.

    By Jack Healy, July 17, 2018


    Kela Abernathy napped while visiting with her son Kaleb at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

    KENNETT, Mo. — A few hours after the only hospital in town shut its doors forever, Kela Abernathy bolted awake at 4:30 a.m., screaming in pain.

    Oh God, she remembered thinking, it's the twins.

    They were not due for another two months. But the contractions seizing Ms. Abernathy's lower back early that June morning told her that her son and daughter were coming. Now.

    Ms. Abernathy, 21, staggered out of bed and yelled for her mother, Lynn, who had been lying awake on the living-room couch. They grabbed a few bags, scooped up Ms. Abernathy's 2-year-old son and were soon hurtling across this poor patch of southeast Missouri in their Pontiac Bonneville, racing for help. The old hospital used to be around the corner. Now, her new doctor and hospital were nearly 100 miles away.

    Medical help is growing dangerously distant for women in rural America. At least 85 rural hospitals — about 5 percent of the country's total — have closed since 2010, and obstetric care has faced even starker cutbacks as rural hospitals calculate the hard math of survival, weighing the cost of providing 24/7 delivery services against dwindling birthrates, doctor and nursing shortages and falling revenues.

    Today, researchers estimate that fewer than half of the country's rural counties still have a hospital that offers obstetric care, an absence that adds to the obstacles rural women face in getting health care. Specialists are increasingly clustered in bigger cities. Clinics that provide abortions, long-term birth control and other reproductive services have been forced to close in many smaller towns.

    "It's scary," said Katie Penn, who said she was rejected by eight doctors before finding an obstetrician in Jonesboro, Ark., about an hour from Kennett. "You never know what can happen."

    When obstetric services leave town, a cascade of risks follows, according to experts at the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center who have studied the consequences. Women go to fewer doctor's appointments and more babies are born premature, compared with similar places that do not lose access to care. And when women go into labor, they are more likely to end up at emergency rooms with no obstetric care or to deliver outside a hospital altogether.

    Families struggle to afford the gas, child care and time off work to drive hundreds of miles for an ultrasound, shots or hospital tests. Women say they have ended up on waiting lists at overwhelmed clinics, or been turned away because they said doctors did not want to take them as patients late into their pregnancies.

    Women like Ms. Abernathy and Ms. Penn are particularly isolated because they live in the Missouri Bootheel in the southeast corner of the state, named for the way the area juts out of the state's otherwise orderly shape.

    The region was already coping with some of the state's highest rates of maternal and infant mortality, and then in April came the news that Dunklin County's only hospital, the Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center, would be closing. More than 179 rural counties have lost hospital obstetric care since 2004. Dunklin was now one of them.

    'Hospital Closed. Call 911 for Emergencies'

    The white, 116-bed hospital had been a busy lifeline for this 31,000-person county's most vulnerable people. The emergency room received about 22,000 visits a year, and unlike many struggling hospitals, the maternity ward was busy. About 400 babies were born at Twin Rivers every year, often to mothers who had themselves been born in the same rooms.

    About 95 percent of the hospital's patients were on Medicare, Medicaid or had no insurance, said Dr. Steve Pu, a former member of the hospital's advisory board. Rural hospitals like Kennett's are being financially battered by several factors: Cuts to public health-insurance programs, struggles with debt and sharply worsening finances in states that did not expand Medicaid.

    In April, Twin Rivers announced it would be shutting down as part of a corporate consolidation by its owner, Community Health Systems, a publicly traded, for-profit hospital company. In a statement announcing the closing, the hospital's local chief executive, Christian H. Jones, called it the "most sustainable plan for the future."

    Patients say they were told to seek care at another Community Health Systems hospital in Poplar Bluff, about 50 miles away down narrow two-lane roads. The hospital in Kennett had about 300 employees, the largest employer in a county with a 5.5 percent unemployment rate.

    Then last month, with little warning, a sign went up at Twin Rivers: HOSPITAL CLOSED. CALL 911 FOR EMERGENCIES. Its last day of operations was June 11, more than two weeks earlier than the date executives initially told people in Kennett.

    The only obstetrician in Kennett had operated his practice out of the hospital, and he began discharging patients and winding down services in the weeks before Twin Rivers closed. Women said his waiting room became a scene of sadness and confusion as they worried about where they would go next and how they would afford gas for weekly visits at distant hospitals when they barely had enough money to pay electric bills and rent.

    The only pediatrician in Kennett, Andy Beach, hung a banner outside his clinic that mirrored the town's defiant spirit, "We are not leaving the area!"

    An ambulance service has been shuttling patients to other hospitals in the region, and a medical helicopter is on call for the worst emergencies. Doctors around Kennett and a hospital in Jonesboro are working to open urgent-care clinics, and officials have put a tax increase onto August ballots to raise money to build a hospital. Someday.

    State officials and doctors are also trying to work out a plan and find $1.5 million to reopen the obstetric unit at the Pemiscot County hospital in Hayti, the closest hospital to Kennett.

    In the meantime, the absence of local care is being felt already.

    Mary Louisa, who was 26 weeks pregnant, recently started experiencing contractions that are a hallmark of preterm labor but had not had a full prenatal checkup in a month.

    Susanna Hernandez's first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Now she was worried about her second and had not seen a doctor since the hospital in Kennett closed. Every few minutes, she touches her abdomen to feel for a kick, a movement, any sign that the girl inside is still healthy and growing. Ms. Hernandez, who emigrated from Mexico a year ago, speaks almost no English and spends her days trying to relax and pray.

    "Our community is just in panic," Deloris Johnson, who sits on the county's ambulance board, said in an interview in June. "They don't know what to do."

    Then, this month came the news that she and many in Kennett had been dreading. Two infant boys, each about a month old, died on opposite ends of the county, one on July 4 and the other the following morning.

    In both instances, officials said that family members discovered the children unconscious and rushed them to local ambulance stations. One was driven 20 miles to a hospital in Paragould, Ark., and the other was taken to a hospital in Piggott, Ark., where they were each pronounced dead, investigators said. Investigators would not release the children's names or any additional details. They said autopsy reports had not been completed and said they did not yet know how the children had died, or whether any intervention could have saved them.

    Their deaths sent a shudder through Kennett.

    "This is just the beginning," Ms. Johnson said. "To think we don't even have a damn hospital for these people to go to."

    Rushed Into Surgery
    After a Four-Hour Trek

    As Ms. Abernathy and her mother raced down dark country roads at 90 miles an hour, all they could think about were the twins. Would she have to deliver them on the side of the road, before she got to a hospital? Would the babies be O.K.?

    They pulled into the town of Hayti 17 miles east and rushed into the Pemiscot County hospital. It was an act of desperation. The hospital's obstetrics unit had closed four years ago, and the emergency-room staff looked shocked to see her. The labor and delivery rooms now sat unused.

    The staff told Ms. Abernathy she needed to reach the hospital now caring for her after Kennett's closed: St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo., nearly 80 miles away. It had a neonatal intensive care unit, neonatal operating rooms and a full battery of obstetric doctors and nurses. But there was no ambulance ready to take her.

    Ms. Abernathy said she waited for about 25 minutes as an ambulance rushed over from Kennett to pick her up. An obstetric nurse rode along, rubbing her back and helping her breathe as the contractions continued.

    When they passed through the small town of Sikeston, Ms. Abernathy said the ambulance driver asked whether they needed to stop at the hospital there. Keep going, Ms. Abernathy and the nurse told him. Nearly four hours after she woke up screaming in bed, they arrived at a hospital with an obstetrics ward.

    Her doctor rushed to get her into surgery. Forty-five minutes later, the twins were born by cesarean section, first Kaleb at 3 pounds 6 ounces and then Kylynn at 2 pounds 12 ounces.

    They were healthy, but because they arrived early, they would need weeks of close care at the hospital: nurses who could check their breathing and vital signs and also show Ms. Abernathy how the babies needed to be touched and held.

    This meant that Ms. Abernathy had to make regular 200-mile round trips to the hospital to see the twins and then back to Kennett to be with her 2-year-old. One day, her C-section incision was so inflamed by the drive that she could barely stand. Another afternoon, she and her mother had to pull over when a summer storm swamped the highway.

    Ms. Abernathy said she was eager to bring the twins home and to get back to her $8.50-an-hour job as a home health aide. There is rent to make, baby clothes to purchase, $80 of gas to buy for the coming week.

    "My mom raised me to be independent," she said. "I've always worked."

    One morning, she lay underneath a blanket on her couch, exhausted and upset about the inconveniences and indignities of the past month and the stress of not seeing a doctor for weeks when she knew she was a high-risk patient.

    "I was an emotional wreck. I can't tell you how many times I cried," Ms. Abernathy said, as her mother hovered beside her. "We can't keep a hospital. What is our community coming to?"



    3)  Sexual Assault Inside ICE Detention: 2 Survivors Tell Their Stories

    By Emily Kasale, July 17, 2018


    It was an early morning in May when Maria was released from the T. Don Hutto Residential Detention Center in Texas. She had been granted bond and was permitted to stay with her brother in Washington D.C. while her asylum case was pending.

    After gathering her belongings, she was escorted to a loading area fenced with razor wire and placed into a cage inside a van. The driver was a male guard named Donald Dunn. Shortly after leaving Hutto, Dunn pulled off the road.

    "He grabbed my breasts … He put his hands in my pants and he touched my private parts," she said. "He touched me again inside the van, and my hands were tied. And he started masturbating."

    In 2014, a 19-year-old asylum seeker, "E.D.," was staying in a family detention center in Pennsylvania with her 3-year-old son. A few months into her seven-month stay, she was sexually assaulted by a male guard. "I didn't know how to refuse because he told me that I was going to be deported," she said. "I was at a jail and he was a migration officer. It's like they order you to do something and you have to do it."

    Our video follows Maria and E.D., who are among the thousands of migrants who have said they were sexually abused while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the past 10 years, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General. Both were seeking asylum in the United States.

    ICE has reported 1,310 claims of sexual abuse against detainees from fiscal years 2013 to 2017. Though the agency maintains that this number is relatively low — close to half a million immigrants flow through its detention system each year — watchdog organizations estimate the occurrence of sexual abuse to be significantly higher.

    While national attention is focused on President Trump's shifting border policies concerning immigrant families and children, abuses inside detention continue to take place.



    4) Kushners 'Made Tenants' Lives Miserable and Many Left,' Lawyer Says

    By Charles V. Bagli, July 16, 2018


    A group of current and former tenants at 184 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, which is owned by the Kushner Companies, filed a lawsuit that claimed the developer tried to drive them out of the building using tactics like "loud and obnoxious drilling."

    The developer Charles Kushner, whose son Jared Kushner is a son-in-law and senior adviser to President Trump, has received a lot of attention in New York.

    But perhaps not the way he, or his son, ever wanted.

    On Monday, 20 current and former tenants of a one-time warehouse in Brooklyn that the Kushners are converting to luxury condominiums filed a $10 million lawsuit in State Supreme Court, claiming that the family's business aimed to force them out with tactics like "loud and obnoxious drilling" and a "constant cloud of toxic smoke and dust."

    As a result, scores of rent-regulated tenants left the seven-story building at 184 Kent Avenue, in Williamsburg, and their apartments were sold to buyers for millions of dollars. Despite numerous complaints to the city's Department of Buildings, tenants said, the dangerous conditions and the violation of city statutes persisted for about three years.

    "It certainly seems as if it was in the Kushners' interest to oust the tenants," a lawyer for the tenants, Jack L. Lester, said Monday at a news conference in front of the Supreme Court building in Downtown Brooklyn. "The construction activity, intentional or not, made tenants' lives miserable and many left."

    Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president who is a former New York Police Department captain and a sponsor of the lawsuit, said: "We need to use this moment in a real way. The Kushner name draws attention not only to the president's chief adviser but also to what a big-name developer is doing to tenants right here in Brooklyn."

    Mr. Adams suggested that the city needed to focus on the displacement of tenants by rapacious landlords in the same way that the Police Department had used data to fight crime.

    "The key," he said in an interview before the news conference, "is that we should be using the same methods to fight grand larceny to monitor bad-acting landlords in real time."

    The Kushner Companies issued a statement on Monday saying that the lawsuit was "totally without merit" and the company would defend it "vigorously."

    Until the last decade, the Kushners were known as developers and owners of garden apartment complexes in New Jersey, philanthropists and major Democratic contributors. But in 2007, Charles and Jared Kushner paid a record price of $1.8 billion for a 41-story aluminum-clad tower at 666 Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.

    After selling a large portfolio of garden apartments for nearly $2 billion, the father and son went on a buying spree, acquiring land, buildings and storefronts in Queens, Brooklyn and Jersey City.

    The older Kushner is now in the middle of a deal for a financial rescue of 666 Fifth Avenue by Brookfield Asset Management, one of the world's biggest real estate investment companies. A proposed three-tower project in Jersey City came to a standstill last year after a falling out with the mayor.

    The previous owner of 184 Kent Avenue carved the landmark — a 103-year-old former warehouse known as the Austin Nichols House — into apartments more than five years ago. Kushner Companies, with Jared at the helm, bought the property with partners for $275 million in 2015.

    Their plan was to make renovations to create larger units and then sell the apartments as condominiums, a seemingly daunting challenge since all the apartments were rent-regulated, with tenants protected from large rent increases and unreasonable evictions.

    The apartments, which rented for as much as $4,000 a month, were not for low-income tenants or older adults. But the units were regulated because the previous owner had received a tax break under a city housing program designed to encourage building improvements. That owner had given leases to tenants at rents lower than what was permitted under rent regulation to fill the building, according to an executive who works with Kushner Companies and spoke anonymously.

    Kushner Companies moved to implement the full legal rents, which in some cases resulted in large increases.

    Then, according to the lawsuit, it used the renovation process to make tenants so miserable they would leave, a tactic that housing activists say has become widespread, contributing to the current housing crisis.

    "This is going on throughout the city," said Mr. Lester, the tenants' lawyer. "They're not the only landlords doing this. But the Buildings Department seems to think their mission is to expedite construction, rather than protect tenants."

    Apartment prices in the building today range from $950,000 for a studio to more than $2.5 million for a three-bedroom.

    The Kushner Companies' statement insisted that the residents were fully apprised of the renovation work before it started and the work was conducted under the supervision of the city's Buildings Department and other regulatory agencies.

    "Tenants were never pressured to leave their apartments" and the company complied with all rent regulation laws governing the property, the statement said. "Any complaints during construction were evaluated and addressed by the property management team."

    The city's Department of Buildings, which said it had responded to 27 tenant complaints at the Kushner building in Brooklyn over three years, seemed somewhat bewildered by the criticism from tenants, housing activists and elected officials.

    "Department of Buildings inspectors were at the building dozens of times since 2015 and did not observe any violation of construction rules," Joe Soldevere, an assistant commissioner for the agency, said. "In addition, our building marshals performed proactive sweeps of the building in July 2017 and April 2018 and found no violations."

    In the spring, an outside firm, Olmsted Environmental Services, hired by tenants to assess conditions in the building, found that construction work had contaminated apartments with potential toxic dust containing lead, gypsum and other minerals. Olmsted concluded that the residue supported "the tenant committee contention that no dust controls are used during work." But the assessment was conducted many months after construction was completed and stopped short of describing what the lawsuit said was a "constant cloud of toxic smoke and dust."

    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wrote on Twitter on Monday that the state was "launching an investigation into allegations of tenant harassment by the Kushner Cos."

    But housing activists were not letting him, or Mayor Bill de Blasio, off the hook. Aaron Carr, the founder of the Housing Rights Initiative who helped initiate several lawsuits against the Kushners, said it was "the Kushner Companies' failed morality" that exposed tenants, including children, to toxic dust, but that "it was New York state's failed policies that exposed tenants to Kushner."



    5) Police Dept. Gives Federal Investigators Ultimatum in Eric Garner Case

    By Benjamin Weiser and J. David Goodman, July 16, 2018


    The Rev. Al Sharpton with Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, in Harlem on Monday.

    The New York Police Department, impatient at the slow pace of the federal government's civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner in July 2014, told the Justice Department on Monday that it would soon start disciplinary proceedings against the officers involved in the killing in the absence of federal action.

    The Police Department, acting one day before the fourth anniversary of Mr. Garner's death on Staten Island, said it would no longer hold off on disciplinary proceedings if the Justice Department had not announced by Aug. 31 whether it will file criminal charges.

    "Understandably, members of the public in general and the Garner family in particular have grown impatient with the fact that N.Y.P.D. has not proceeded with our disciplinary proceedings and they have difficulty comprehending a decision to defer to a federal criminal investigation that seems to have no end in sight," Lawrence Byrne, the department's deputy commissioner for legal matters, said in a letter to the Justice Department on Monday.

    Mr. Byrne added that "given the extraordinary passage of time since the incident without a final decision" on the federal investigation, "any further delay in moving ahead with our own disciplinary proceedings can no longer be justified."

    The disciplinary proceedings would involve Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was seen on a bystander's video holding Mr. Garner's neck as he begged for breath, as well as a sergeant, Kizzy Adonis, who was one of the first supervisors at the scene. Sergeant Adonis has already been administratively charged with failing to properly oversee her officers, according to a senior police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel matter. The disciplinary proceedings against her, however, have paused, pending the federal investigation.

    Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Officer Pantaleo on criminal charges.

    Each anniversary of Mr. Garner's death has brought anguish to his family. Critics have challenged the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to explain how, after so long, the officer seen on video applying a chokehold to Mr. Garner, who was 43, still had not faced discipline.

    With its letter on Monday, the department appeared interested in getting ahead of the inevitable questions police officials and Mr. de Blasio have faced each summer.

    "No one is dragging their feet," Mr. de Blasio said on July 17, 2016, in response to a question about the process, which, even then, seemed unnecessarily delayed. "Everything is being done meticulously because we want to make sure that what happens is fair to everyone involved."

    The mayor said then, as he has said frequently since, that the Police Department would move forward with its internal disciplinary process after the federal investigation had been completed. Now, the de Blasio administration, in its letter, said it would no longer wait.

    The Justice Department said in a statement that the letter "does not have any bearing on the decision-making timeline" of prosecutors. The statement also said prosecutors informed Mr. Byrne "this spring" that the Police Department could move forward with disciplinary proceedings.

    Phil Walzak, the Police Department's top spokesman, disputed that account. "D.O.J. did not provide a green light this spring," he wrote in an email.

    The department filed internal charges against Sergeant Adonis in January 2016. Officials said at the time that they had to begin the process because of an 18-month statute of limitations under the state's Civil Service Law.

    The same time constraint did not apply to Officer Pantaleo because of an exception made in cases where there is an ongoing criminal investigation, officials said; the Police Department's inquiry into Officer Pantaleo was completed more than two years ago.

    If the Justice Department takes no action, an internal trial at the Police Department would begin, overseen by a deputy police commissioner. The Civilian Complaint Review Board, an outside oversight agency that looks into police wrongdoing, found last year that Officer Pantaleo used a prohibited chokehold and recommended departmental charges that could lead to suspension or dismissal. A lawyer from the complaint board would act as a prosecutor in the departmental trial, officials from the board and the Police Department said.

    "When this police hearing goes forward, Daniel Pantaleo is not the only one on trial," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, standing with Mr. Garner's mother at a news conference in Harlem on Monday. "The chokehold policy of the N.Y.P.D. is on trial."

    Sergeant Adonis would be prosecuted by a police department lawyer. The complaint board does not have jurisdiction over the kind of managerial mistakes she is accused of committing.

    If found guilty of misconduct at a departmental trial — a process that would likely stretch into next year — Officer Pantaleo and Sergeant Adonis could face a range of penalties, including mandatory retraining, lost vacation time to outright dismissal. The police commissioner, James P. O'Neill, has the final say over their fates.

    Defense attorneys for both officers declined to comment. The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said in a statement that Officer Pantaleo "is entitled to due process and an impartial consideration of the facts" and would eventually be "vindicated."

    The city paid $5.9 million to settle a civil suit over Mr. Garner's death in 2015.

    Esaw Snipes, Mr. Garner's widow, said she had been told of the Police Department's decision to move ahead with the trial if the Justice Department does not act before Aug. 31. She said she hoped it would mean an end to what has been an "emotionally draining" experience that included the death last year of her daughter, Erica Garner, who had actively protested her father's death.

    "I'm kind of like skeptical about everything now," Ms. Snipes, 50, said in an interview. "If something happens, then great. But I've kind of like given up hope. It's been so long. It's been four years."

    Mariana Alfaro contributed reporting.



    6)  Remains of Black People Forced Into Labor After Slavery Are Discovered in Texas

    By Sarah Mervosh, July 18, 2018


     historic cemetery was discovered on the construction site of a new school outside Houston. Archaeologists have found the remains of about 95 people who they believe were African-Americans forced to work as laborers after slavery ended.

    The remains of dozens of people found at a construction site in Texas this year are mostly likely those of African-Americans who were forced to work on a plantation there around the turn of the 20th century, officials said this week.

    That finding, announced Monday, opens a window onto a little-remembered period in which blacks in certain Southern states were essentially treated like slaves post-emancipation.

    The remains of about 95 people were discovered early this year on a construction site outside Houston, where the Fort Bend Independent School District is building a new school, according to school district officials and court records.

    This week, archaeologists announced that the bones were most likely those of African-American laborers who worked as part of the so-called convict lease system, in which the state of Texas outsourced prisoners to work and live on plantations. The researchers estimated that the cemetery, which was on the plantation's grounds, was used from 1878 to 1911.

    About half of the bodies have been exhumed, and more than 20 have been analyzed. Of those analyzed, archaeologists said, all but one were male, ranging in age from about 14 to 70. All were African-American, and some may have been former slaves.

    It is rare to discover an African-American cemetery from this time period, but rarer still to find a grave site of black prisoners from the convict lease era, said Ken Brown, a professor at the University of Houston who specializes in African-American archaeology.

    "You have a chance to study what the actual bone material has to say about what life was like — we know it was crappy, we know it was tough — but what impact does all of that have on the body?" he said.

    Researchers hope to run tests that could tell which diseases the prisoners lived with, what kind of foods they ate and where they grew up.

    "It really does change the history books in Texas," said Reign Clark, a lead archaeologist on site.

    The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery in 1865, except as punishment for a crime. Several Southern states, including Texas, used this exception to outsource prisoners for labor, Mr. Brown said.

    Texas first "leased" out prisoners for caretaking on plantations and later took over the land as state-run prison farms, Mr. Brown said.

    It was "more or less slavery by a new name," said Reginald Moore, a historian and prison reform advocate who has studied convict leasing in the Houston area.

    He noted that vagrancy laws at the time made it so that blacks were often convicted of minor offenses, such as loitering, and sentenced to years of hard labor in the fields. White prisoners, he said, were often assigned easier work indoors.

    From 1870 to 1912, 60 percent of prisoners in Texas were black, according to the Texas State Historical Association. During this time, prisoners helped build the Capitol building in Austin and constructed part of the Texas State Railroad.

    Today, the Fort Bend Independent School District is building a technical high school on the site of a former sugar plantation that later served as a state-run prison farm.

    After construction workers spotted human bones in February, archaeologists eventually discovered the cemetery on the site, according to court records. In June, a judge granted permission to exhume the remains.

    So far, the results show that the men who were buried there lived difficult lives, researchers said. Their bones show stress from poor health during childhood, such as fever and malnutrition, and stress from repetitive work later in life.

    "They were really doing a lot of heavy labor from the time that they were young," said Catrina Banks Whitley, a bioarchaeologist who is analyzing the bones.

    Because of that, she said, it is possible that some were former slaves.

    The discovery was particularly gratifying for Mr. Moore, who lives nearby and had long suspected such graves might be hidden there. He has been fighting for recognition for African-American convict laborers, whose role in Texas history, he said, has been mostly forgotten.

    He said he hoped the new findings would encourage Texas to remember them and include their stories in history books and memorials.

    "When I went out there and seen those bodies, I felt so elated that they would finally get their justice," Mr. Moore said. "It was overwhelming for me. I almost fainted."



    7)  Why Don't We Always Vote in Our Own Self-Interest?

    By Thomas B. Edsall, July 19, 2018


    Voters casting their ballots on primary day in Lexington, Ky., in May.CreditChristian Tyler Randolph for The New York Times

    One question that has troubled Democrats for decades is freshly relevant in the Trump-McConnell era: Why do so many voters support elected officials who are determined to cut programs that those same voters rely upon? 

    Take Kentucky, which has a median household income that ranks 45th out of the 50 states.

    Over the past half century, residents of Kentucky have become steadily more reliant on the federal government. In the 1970s, federal programs provided slightly under 10 percent of personal income for Kentucky residents; by 2015, money from programs ranging from welfare and Medicaid to Social Security and Medicare more than doubled to 23 percent as a share of Kentuckians' personal income.

    Twenty years ago, there was only one county (out of 120) in which residents counted on the federal government for at least 40 percent of their personal income. By 2014, 28 counties were at 40 percent or higher. 

    But as their claims on federal dollars rose, the state's voters became increasingly conservative. In the 1990s, they began to elect hard right, anti-government politicians determined to cut the programs their constituents were coming to lean on.

    Suzanne Mettler, a professor of government at Cornell, describes these developments — which can be found in states across the South, the Mountain West and the Midwest — in her new book, "The Government-Citizen Disconnect." 

    The accompanying graphic, based on Mettler's data, documents the steady rise in government dependency among Kentucky voters as their representatives in Congress moved to the right.

    In her book, Mettler gives the example of the Republican congressman Andy Barr, who "represents the Sixth District, which includes McCreary and Wolfe Counties. In both counties, 52 percent of income — approximately $12,000 per resident — flows from federal social policies." 

    In the adjoining Fourth District, Representative Thomas Massie, also a Republican, "resides in Lewis County, in which 43 percent of income comes from federal government transfers." Massie, Mettler notes, "stridently opposes social welfare spending, having been among the group of Republicans who forced the end of the long tradition of bipartisan cooperation on the farm bill in 2013 because they opposed its inclusion of the food stamp program."

    So what's going on with Kentucky voters? 

    Kentucky stands out in that it is exceptionally white, at 84.6 percent, compared with 60.7 percent nationally; it has a low median household income, $44,811 compared with $55,332 in all states; a higher poverty rate, 18.5 percent compared with 12.7 percent nationally; and fewer college graduates, 22.7 percent compared with 30.3 percent nationwide.

    There is, however, one thread that runs through all the explanations of the shift to the right in Kentucky and elsewhere. 

    Race, the economists Alberto F. Alesina and Paola Giuliano write

    "is an extremely important determinant of preferences for redistribution. When the poor are disproportionately concentrated in a racial minority, the majority, ceteris paribus[all things being equal], prefer less redistribution."

    Alesina and Giuliano reach this conclusion based on the "unpleasant but nevertheless widely observed fact that individuals are more generous toward others who are similar to them racially, ethnically, linguistically."

    Leonie Huddy, a political scientist at the State University of New York — Stony Brook, made a related point in an email:

    "It's important to stress the role of negative racial and ethnic attitudes in this process. Those who hold Latinos and African-Americans in low esteem also believe that federal funds flow disproportionally to members of these groups. This belief that the federal government is more willing to help blacks and Latinos than whites fuels the white threat and resentment that boosted support for Donald Trump in 2016."

    In their 2004 book, "Fighting Poverty in the U.S. and Europe: A World of Difference," Alesina and Edward L. Glaeser, an economist at Harvard, found a pronounced pattern in this country: states "with more African-Americans are less generous to the poor."

    This pattern continues today. The states with the lowest ceiling on maximum grants in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (which replaced traditional welfare in 1996) are in the region with the highest percentages of African-Americans, the South, and are overwhelmingly represented at the state and federal level by conservative Republicans. The accompanying map illustrates this pattern.

    How does race intersect with other factors contributing to the opposition toward redistributive policies found not only in Kentucky, but in many regions of the country?

    Let's start with a concept known as "last place aversion." In a paper by that name, Ilyana Kuziemko, an economist at Princeton, Taly Reich, a professor of marketing at Yale, and Ryan W. Buell and Michael I. Norton, both at Harvard Business School, describe the phenomenon in which relatively low income individuals "oppose redistribution because they fear it might differentially help a 'last-place' group to whom they can currently feel superior."Those thus positioned "exhibit a particular aversion to being in last place, such that a potential drop in rank creates the greatest disutility for those already near the bottom of the distribution."

    Among the findings of this group of researchers: people "making just above the minimum wage are the most likely to oppose its increase."

    Applying last-place aversion theory to means-tested federal programs for the poor reveals that the group most likely to voice opposition is made up of relatively poor whites right above the cutoff level to qualify for such programs.

    Take the case of Medicaid. Nationally, blacks and Hispanics together make up a plurality of recipients, at 46 percent (21 percent African-American and 25 percent Hispanic); whites make up 40 percent. 

    Even more important than "last place aversion," though, is the issue of what we might call deservingness: white Americans, more than citizens of other nations, distinguish between those they view as the deserving and the undeserving poor and they are much more willing to support aid for those they see as deserving: themselves.

    "Americans believe that the poor are lazy; Europeans believe the poor are unfortunate,"report Alesina and Glaeser.

    Lars Lefgren, a professor of economics at Brigham Young University and the lead author of The Other 1%: Class Leavening, Contamination and Voting for Redistribution, emailed me about his research:

    "Individuals are more willing to vote for redistribution when they perceive the recipients as being deserving. By this I mean that the recipients are willing to work hard but were experiencing bad luck that left them in need of assistance."

    This distinction often translates into a differentiation between poor whites and poor minorities.

    "Depictions of immigrants or minorities in discussions or media who seem to be gaming the system may lead to beliefs that recipients of government programs are undeserving of assistance," Lefgren pointed out, adding that

    "There is a developed literature examining the role of racism in the political economy of redistribution. If voters perceive that the primary beneficiaries of redistribution are from a group that they view negatively, they may be unwilling to support redistribution programs."

    In 2016, Michael Tesler, a political scientist at the University of California, Irvine, reported on the results of a survey that asked one half of those polled whether they agreed with the statement: "Over the past few years, blacks have gotten less than they deserve." The other half of poll respondents were asked a nearly identical question, substituting "average Americans" for blacks, so it read: "Over the past few years, average Americans have gotten less than they deserve."

    Among white respondents, the differences in the responses were striking: More than half, 58 percent, said average Americans got less than they deserved; 28 percent, however, said that African Americans do not get what they deserve.

    The difference, Tesler wrote, grows out of a "double standard in deservingness." He described the double standard as follows:

    "…different portraits have their origins in what social psychologists call 'ultimate attribution error.' This error means that when whites struggle, their troubles are generally attributed to situational forces (e.g., outsourcing); but when nonwhites struggle, their plight is more often attributed to dispositional traits (i.e., poor work ethic). Consequently, whites are considered 'more deserving' than blacks."

    Last May, Mick Mulvaney, Trump's director of the Office of Management and Budget, addressed his view of the division between the deserving and undeserving poor in a column published by the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.:

    "For years, we've focused on how we can help Americans receive taxpayer-funded assistance. Under President Trump's leadership, we're now looking at how we can respect both those who require assistance and the taxpayers who fund that support. For the first time in a long time, we're putting taxpayers first. Taking money from someone without an intention to pay it back is not debt. It is theft. This budget makes it clear that we will reverse this larceny."

    The top priority in Trump's budget, according to Mulvaney, whom I have cited before, is not the legitimate needs of the poor, but rather 

    "…the folks who work hard and pay taxes. This budget is for you. It is your government's — your new government's — way of thanking those of you who are working two jobs, saving for your kids' education, or working to buy a home or start your own business. We cannot express our gratitude and respect enough for what you do to make your families, your communities, and this nation work. Americans are the hardest working people who have ever lived. We worked hard to build this country together and will work hard to restore this country together."

    In exploring the issue of race and deservingness, a key question comes up: Why would race play such a pivotal role in the growing conservatism of a state like Kentucky, which is, as I mentioned earlier, overwhelmingly white? 

    Two reasons.

    As I reported in an earlier column, a key factor distinguishing counties that moved in a decisively Republican direction in 2016 was not the absolute number of African-Americans or immigrants, but the rate at which minority populations were growing.

    In 2000, Kentucky was 90.08 percent white and 8.8 percent black and Hispanic; in 2017, the state remained decisively white, but blacks and Hispanics made up 12.1 percent of the population. This seemingly modest 3.3 point rise amounted to a significant 37.5 percent increase, making the issue more politically salient than it might have otherwise been.

    The Trump administration is now moving forward with a proposal to allow all states to impose work requirements on three means-tested programs that provide crucial benefits to the poor everywhere: Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps) and subsidized housing. 

    Earlier this month, Trump's Council of Economic Advisers issued a report, "Expanding Work Requirements in Non-Cash Welfare Programs," that declared:

    "…non-disabled working-age adults made up the majority of adult recipients on Medicaid (61 percent), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (67 percent), and rental housing assistance programs (59 percent) as of December 2013."

    Existing safety-net programs have "contributed to a dramatic reduction in poverty," according to the report, but at the expense of "a decline in self-sufficiency among non-disabled working-age adults."

    Liberal groups are fighting these requirements. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities contends, for example, that the imposition of work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries

    "…will cause many low-income adults to lose health coverage, including people who are working or are unable to work due to mental illness, opioid or other substance use disorders, or serious chronic physical conditions, but who cannot overcome various bureaucratic hurdles to document that they either meet work requirements or qualify for an exemption from them."

    These concerns, and many others raised by the budget center and other groups, document the unintended consequences of blanket work requirements. But in the contemporary world of politics, a Democrat running in most competitive congressional and senate races in the country would face a tough sell making the case against the imposition of work requirements. 

    The broader reality is that the Civil Rights revolution of the 1960s unleashed both progress and a backlash that continues to resonate in American politics five decades later. This backlash is in many ways more insidious than the blatant discrimination of the past and potentially more dangerous.It is an object of constant political anxiety for the left and continuous, concerted, calculated manipulation by the right, made more overt by the president of the United States, who has dispensed with the dog whistle and picked up a bullhorn.

    Thomas B. Edsall has been a contributor to The Timesonline Opinion Pages since 2011. His column on strategic and demographic trends in American politics appears every Thursday. He previously covered politics for The Washington Post.



    8) Why Real Wages Still Aren't Rising

    By Jared Bernstein, July 18, 2018

    "G.D.P. has sped up and may clock in at around 4 percent in the second quarter of this year, but not enough of that growth is reaching workers. This is, of course, the defining characteristic of high inequality. Since the early 1980s, G.D.P. growth has failed to consistently increase working-class incomes. Still, in earlier periods, tight labor markets were able to deal a blow to inequality. The last time unemployment was at 4 percent, in the latter 1990s, the share of national income going to paychecks was 3 percentage points higher than it is todayIn other words, even with the economy now near full employment, profits are squeezing paychecks. ...The next recession is lurking out there, and when it hits, whatever gains American workers were able to wring out of the economic expansion will be lost to the long-term weakness of their bargaining clout. Workers' paychecks reflect workers' power, and they are both much too weak."


    A worker at a pipe factory in Baytown, Tex. Real wages for blue-collar workers have been effectively flat despite a tight labor market.CreditTodd Spoth for The New York Times

    The United States labor market is closing in on full employment in an economic expansion that just began its 10th year, and yet the real hourly wage for the working class has been essentially flat for two years running. Why is that?

    Economists ask this question every month when the government reports labor statistics. We repeatedly get solid job growth and lower unemployment, but not much to show for wages. Part of that has to do with inflation, productivity and remaining slack in the labor market.

    But stagnant wages for factory workers and non-managers in the service sector — together they represent 82 percent of the labor force — is mainly the outcome of a long power struggle that workers are losing. Even at a time of low unemployment, their bargaining power is feeble, the weakest I've seen in decades. Hostile institutions — the Trump administration, the courts, the corporate sector — are limiting their avenues for demanding higher pay.

    Looking at the historical relationship between working-class wages and unemployment, wage growth should be rising about a percentage point faster than it is right now. In June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, wages were growing at a yearly rate of 2.7 percent before inflation.

    While wages have failed to accelerate, consumer prices have climbed. In 2015, inflation was close to zero. When price growth is zero, a dollar extra in your paycheck means a dollar more real purchasing power. Real hourly pay grew at a healthy pace of about 2 percent that year.

    But price growth is back to more normal levels now. Over the past year, for example, consumer price inflation was 2.9 percent, just about the same rate as hourly pay. Data released on Tuesday show that real weekly earnings for full-time, middle-wage workers hasn't grown at all since early 2017.

    Barring an unforeseen shock to the system, I expect the jobless rate to continue to fall, probably to rates we haven't seen since the 1960s. The Federal Reserve forecasts unemployment of 3.5 percent by the end of this year.

    Unemployment at such a low level should force up wages, but it may not be enough to generate consistent, real gains.

    That's because the trade war may push inflation higher, so it will take faster nominal wage growth to keep pace with prices. Thus far, the impact of the tariffs has been minimal, because of the small share of imports affected, and because "final products"— things that consumers buy versus intermediate materials used for production — have thus far been spared. But if President Trump follows through on his threat to place 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of imports from China, including many consumer goods, prices could get a nudge.

    Even before the trade war, the Federal Reserve was well into its campaign to raise the benchmark interest rate it controls, and it has suggested it may raise rates a bit more quickly than previously planned. Higher rates are intended to cool down the hot labor market, and this too could dampen the pace of wage growth.

    G.D.P. has sped up and may clock in at around 4 percent in the second quarter of this year, but not enough of that growth is reaching workers. This is, of course, the defining characteristic of high inequality. Since the early 1980s, G.D.P. growth has failed to consistently increase working-class incomes.

    Still, in earlier periods, tight labor markets were able to deal a blow to inequality. The last time unemployment was at 4 percent, in the latter 1990s, the share of national income going to paychecks was 3 percentage points higher than it is today. In other words, even with the economy now near full employment, profits are squeezing paychecks.

    Slow productivity growth is another constraint on wages. When companies are able to produce more efficiently, they can absorb higher labor costs without sacrificing profit margins. But such gains have been elusive in this recovery, so businesses are increasing profits at labor's expense.

    More than ever, the dynamics of this old-fashioned power struggle between labor and capital strongly favor corporations, employers and those whose income derives from stock portfolios rather than paychecks.

    This is evident in the large, permanent corporate tax cuts versus the small, temporary middle-class cuts that were passed at the end of last year. It's evident in the recent Supreme Court case that threatens the survival of the one unionized segment of labor — public workers — that still has some real clout.

    It's evident in the increased concentration of companies and their unchecked ability to collude against workers, through anti-poaching and mandatory arbitration agreements that preclude worker-based class actions. And it's evident in a federal government that refuses to consider improved labor standards like higher minimum wages and updated overtime rules.

    Even if workers' real wages do pick up, their gains may be too short-lived to make a lasting difference. The next recession is lurking out there, and when it hits, whatever gains American workers were able to wring out of the economic expansion will be lost to the long-term weakness of their bargaining clout. Workers' paychecks reflect workers' power, and they are both much too weak.

    Jared Bernstein (@econjared) is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.



    9) Government Medical Experts Say Detaining Migrant Families 'Poses High Risk of Harm'

    "The number of migrants in families who were apprehended by Border Patrol hovered around 70,000 in 2015 and 2016 and plummeted to about 30,000 in President Trump's first year in office. But the number rose precipitously this year."

    By Miriam Jordan, July 18, 2018


    Children line up in the cafeteria of a temporary home for women and children detained at the Texas border in 2014. Two physicians who studied such facilities told the government that children can suffer adverse health impacts even when confined with a parent.CreditEric Gay/Associated Press

    LOS ANGELES — The Trump administration, faced with a public outcry over the separation of migrant families at the Southwest border, has said it is exploring a major expansion of family detention centers. But two of the government's own medical consultants said this week that they had identified a "high risk of harm" to migrant children housed at such facilities.

    A series of 10 investigations over the past four years, conducted during both the Obama and Trump administrations, "frequently revealed serious compliance issues resulting in harm to children," the two physicians, Scott Allen and Pamela McPherson, said in a letter to the Senate's Whistleblower Protection Caucus.

    The doctors said they had "watched in horror" as migrant children were separated from their families over the past several months in a bid to deter illegal border crossers. But they cautioned that the Trump administration's fallback position may not be much better.

    "The likely alternative — detention of children with a parent — also poses high risk of harm to children and their families," said the doctors, who currently serve as "subject-matter experts" for the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. "In our professional opinion, there is no amount of programming that can ameliorate the harms created by the very act of confining children to detention centers."

    The examinations described in their report uncovered problems including a child who lost a third of his body weight and an infant with bleeding of the brain that went undiagnosed for five days.

    In a separate filing this week with a court in Los Angeles, lawyers who conducted more than 200 interviews with migrant parents and children said they had collected "shocking and atrocious" reports about conditions at various government-run detention centers, especially at the initial processing centers operated by Customs and Border Protection along the Southwest border.

    The interviews in that case were conducted over the past two months, although similar reports of unpleasant and even dangerous conditions in border processing facilities had emerged even before President Trump took office and imposed the current crackdown on the border.

    In the latest interviews, migrants reported freezing conditions, filthy toilets, inadequate water and food that alternately was frozen or made them vomit. "The burritos were spoiled," one wrote. "The ham looked green," said another.

    One woman, identified in the court filing as Lidia, said she and her 4-year-old son had to wait eight hours for water when they arrived at the processing center and were given only frozen sandwiches that could not be eaten. "My son was crying from hunger," she said.

    She arrived next at a family detention center in Dilley, Tex., with a kidney infection that had been exacerbated by the lack of drinkable water at the processing center, according to the filing. She said she was given only acetaminophen by a male nurse who, when she asked to see a doctor, told her to go to the mental health office "because I was imagining my pain."

    A 16-year-old girl named Keylin said the female guards at the border processing facility in McAllen, Tex., kicked her and other migrants with their boots to keep them awake. "The female guards made me and the other girls strip naked in front of them and leered at us before their showers," she said in her declaration.

    Spokespeople for the Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment on the physicians' whistle-blower letter. But in a response to the Los Angeles court filing, Justice Department spokesman Devin M. O'Malley cited a recent report to the judge from Henry A. Moak Jr., chief accountability officer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who interviewed 38 children and a number of parents during eight unannounced visits to detention facilities. Mr. Moak concluded in his report that the government remained in compliance with a 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores agreement, providing for the humane treatment of migrant children.

    The letter from Dr. Allen, former chair of the department of internal medicine at the University of California at Riverside, and Dr. McPherson, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Shreveport Behavioral Health Center in Louisiana, urges Congress to block the Trump administration's proposal to possibly expand the population housed in these centers to 15,000 — a fivefold increase in the current population.

    The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency currently operates three such detention centers, two in Texas and one in Pennsylvania, with a combined capacity of 3,326. Under the terms of the 1997 consent decree, children at such centers cannot be confined for long periods, usually interpreted as 20 days.

    Yet one woman from El Salvador, interviewed as part of the Los Angeles court case, reported that she and her 10-year-old son had been held at the family detention center in Dilley for 58 days. Another woman said she and her 6-year-old daughter had been at Dilley for 45 days. Government officials say families could be detained for longer periods if a parent elects to remain in custody with a child, rather than having the child released to a relative.

    While conditions at the border processing centers appeared to be the worst, as reported in the court filings, numerous problems were documented at the family detention centers, as well. Dr. Allen and Dr. McPherson were aided with their letter describing shortcomings at those facilities by the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit that works with government whistle-blowers.

    During 10 investigations of family detention facilities between 2014 and 2017, the doctors reported, they uncovered serious failures to comply with standards, which could be expected to multiply under "hastily deployed expansion of family detention."

    Among other problems, they discovered "significant weight loss" in children that went unnoticed, such as a 16-month-old baby who lost 31.8 percent of his body weight because of untreated diarrhea. In another case, they described a 27-day-old infant who was born during his mother's journey but was not examined by a pediatrician until the child had a seizure, an outcome of undiagnosed bleeding of the brain.

    At one site, the doctors reported, "numerous children" were accidentally inoculated with adult doses of a vaccine. Several children suffered "severe" injuries, including lacerations and fractures of their fingers, when their hands got caught in a spring-loaded closure of heavy steel doors at the family facility in Karnes City, Tex., which was formerly a medium-security prison.

    Detaining children in secure facilities, the doctors concluded, also results in possible permanent psychological harm, placing them at risk over the course of their lifetimes of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.

    The Democratic vice chairman of the Senate's whistle-blower caucus, Ron Wyden of Oregon, said in a statement that the doctors' report "adds to the mountains of evidence that this administration's cruel and ineffective approach to immigration enforcement is doing permanent harm to children."

    The cases cited by the physicians occurred between 2014 and 2017, beginning with the 2014 surge on the Southwest border, when Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty began arriving by the tens of thousands.

    In an attempt to stem the flow, the Obama administration began holding mothers with children at the 100-bed Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania and at two bigger facilities, Karnes City and Dilley, in Texas. A fourth facility, located in Artesia, N.M., closed in 2014 amid complaints about conditions there.

    Facing widespread criticism, and constrained by the 1997 consent decree, the Obama administration began releasing families with their promises to appear in court to pursue their immigration claims.

    Trump administration officials have said they are determined to detain families, to the degree possible, while their immigration cases are being considered — though the Justice Department recently lost its bid to amend the 1997 consent decree to permit family detentions of longer than 20 days. The government is expected to appeal the ruling or ask Congress to pass a law to override the consent decree.

    The number of migrants in families who were apprehended by Border Patrol hovered around 70,000 in 2015 and 2016 and plummeted to about 30,000 in President Trump's first year in office. But the number rose precipitously this year.



    10) Facebook to Remove Misinformation That Leads to Violence

    By Sheera Frenkel, July 18, 2018


    A Rohingya Muslim woman at a displacement camp in Myanmar. Facebook has been accused of facilitating attacks on the Rohingya in the country by allowing anti-Muslim hate speech on its platform.CreditLauren Decicca/Getty Images

    SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook, facing growing criticism for posts that have incited violence in some countries, said Wednesday that it would begin removing misinformation that could lead to people being physically harmed.

    The policy expands Facebook's rules about what type of false information it will remove, and is largely a response to episodes in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India in which rumors that spread on Facebook led to real-world attacks on ethnic minorities.

    "We have identified that there is a type of misinformation that is shared in certain countries that can incite underlying tensions and lead to physical harm offline," said Tessa Lyons, a Facebook product manager. "We have a broader responsibility to not just reduce that type of content but remove it."

    Facebook has been roundly criticized over the way its platform has been used to spread hate speech and false information that prompted violence. The company has struggled to balance its belief in free speech with those concerns, particularly in countries where access to the internet is relatively new and there are limited mainstream news sources to counter social media rumors.

    In Myanmar, Facebook has been accused by United Nations investigators and human rights groups of facilitating violence against Rohingya Muslims, a minority ethnic group, by allowing anti-Muslim hate speech and false news.

    In Sri Lanka, riots broke out after false news pitted the country's majority Buddhist community against Muslims. Near-identical social media rumors have also led to attacks in India and Mexico. In many cases, the rumors included no call for violence, but amplified underlying tensions.

    The new rules apply to one of Facebook's other big social media properties, Instagram, but not to WhatsApp, where false news has also circulated. In India, for example, false rumors spread through WhatsApp about child kidnappers have led to mob violence.

    In an interview published Wednesday by the technology news site Recode, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, tried to explain how the company is trying to differentiate between offensive speech — the example he used was people who deny the Holocaust — and posts which promoted false information that could lead to physical harm.

    "I think that there's a terrible situation where there's underlying sectarian violence and intention," Mr. Zuckerberg told Recode's Kara Swisher, who will become an opinion contributor with The New York Times later this summer. "It is clearly the responsibility of all of the players who were involved there."

    The social media company already has rules in place in which a direct threat of violence or hate speech is removed, but it has been hesitant to remove rumors that do not directly violate its content policies.

    Under the new rules, Facebook said it would create partnerships with local civil society groups to identify misinformation for removal. The new rules are already being put in effect in Sri Lanka, and Ms. Lyons said the company hoped to soon introduce them in Myanmar, then expand elsewhere.

    Mr. Zuckerberg's example of Holocaust denial quickly created an online furor, and on Wednesday afternoon he clarified his comments in an email to Ms. Swisher. "I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn't intend to defend the intent of people who deny that," he said.

    He went on to outline Facebook's current policies around misinformation. Posts that violate the company's community standards, which ban hate speech, nudity and direct threats of violence, among other things, are immediately removed.

    The company has started identifying posts that are categorized as false by independent fact checkers. Facebook will "downrank" those posts, effectively moving them down in each user's News Feed so that they are not highly promoted across the platform.

    The company has also started adding information boxes under demonstrably false news stories, suggesting other sources of information for people to read.

    But expanding the new rules to the United States and other countries where objectionable speech is still legally protected could prove tricky, as long as the company uses free speech laws as the guiding principles for how it polices content. Facebook also faces pressure from conservative groups that argue the company is unfairly targeting users with a conservative viewpoint.

    When asked in an interview how Facebook defined misinformation that could lead to harm and should be removed versus that material it would simply downrank because it was objectionable, Ms. Lyons said, "There is not always a really clear line."

    "All of this is challenging — that is why we are iterating," she said. "That is why we are taking serious feedback."



    11) Israel Passes Law Anchoring Itself as Nation-State of the Jewish People

    By Isabel Kershner, July 19, 2018


    A protest in Tel Aviv this month against the new law, which has been advanced as flagship legislation of the most right-wing and religious governing coalition in Israel's 70-year history.CreditAbir Sultan/EPA, via Shutterstock

    JERUSALEM — After a decade of political wrangling and hours of impassioned debate, Parliament on Thursday passed a contentious basic law that in effect enshrines Israel as the Jewish nation state, a move hailed by supporters as "historic" and denounced by detractors as discriminatory, racist and a blow to democracy.

    Though largely symbolic, the new nationality law omits any mention of democracy or enunciation of the principle of equality, in what critics called a betrayal of Israel's foundational document, its Declaration of Independence.

    Opponents say it will inevitably harm the delicate balance between the country's Jewish majority and its Arab minority, which makes up about 21 percent of a population of nearly nine million.

    The law, pushed through just before the Knesset, or Parliament, went into summer recess, had been advanced as a flagship measure of the most right-wing and religious governing coalition in Israel's 70-year history. Members of the coalition applauded the passage.

    "This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the annals of the state of Israel," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said soon after the vote early Thursday. "We have determined in law the founding principle of our existence. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, and respects the rights of all of its citizens."

    But moments after the vote, Arab members of Parliament ripped up copies of the bill while crying out, "Apartheid!" Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List of predominantly Arab parties, which holds 13 seats and is the third-largest bloc in Parliament, waved a black flag in protest.

    "The end of democracy," declared Ahmad Tibi, a veteran Arab legislator, charging the government with demagogy. "The official beginning of fascism and apartheid. A black day (another black day)," he wrote on Twitter.

    Yael German, a lawmaker from the centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, said before the vote that the law was "a poison pill for democracy."

    The new law anchors Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people by declaring the Jewish people's exclusive right to self-determination in Israel. It also promotes the development of Jewish communities and downgrades the status of Arabic from an official language to one with a "special status."

    It is now one of more than a dozen basic laws that serve as the country's Constitution. Two other basic laws, on human dignity and on liberty and freedom of occupation, enacted in the 1990s, determine the values of the state as both Jewish and democratic.

    Since it was established, Israel, long accused of being an imperfect democracy, has grappled with the inherent tensions between its dual aspirations of being both Jewish and democratic.

    But if the law was meant to give expression to Israel's national identity, it exposed and further divided an already deeply fractured society. It passed in the 120-seat Parliament by a vote of 62 to 55 with two abstentions. One member was absent.

    Adalah, a legal center that campaigns for Arab rights in Israel, said in a statement, "This law guarantees the ethnic-religious character of Israel as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens, while simultaneously anchoring discrimination against Palestinian citizens and legitimizing exclusion, racism and systemic inequality."

    The law is the product of a Netanyahu government that has been empowered by the ascendancy of a friendly American administration led by President Trump.

    The ring-wing government has also been emboldened by other nationalist and populist movements that have gained traction in Europe and elsewhere, as it has increasingly allied itself with illiberal democracies in Europe. The new law passed soon after Viktor Orban, the far-right prime minister of Hungary, arrived in Jerusalem for a visit.

    Mr. Netanyahu's government has sought to exercise more control over the news media, to curtail the authority of the Supreme Court, to curb the activities of left-wing nongovernmental organizations and to undermine the police amid attempts to thwart or minimize the effect of multiple corruption investigations against the prime minister. The police have already recommended that Mr. Netanyahu be charged with bribery in two cases.

    Some supporters of the nationality law lamented that many of its proposed and more influential clauses had been watered down to allow its passage. Critics denounced it as a populist measure that largely sprang from the competition for votes between Mr. Netanyahu's conservative party, Likud, and political rivals to its right in elections due next year.

    "I don't agree with those saying this is an apartheid law," said Amir Fuchs, an expert in legislative processes and liberal thought at the Israel Democracy Institute, an independent think tank in Jerusalem. "It does not form two separate legal norms applying to Jews or non-Jews," he said.

    But he added, "Even if it is only declarative and won't change anything in the near future, I am 100 percent sure it will worsen the feeling of non-Jews and especially the Arab minority in Israel."

    The basic laws, enacted in the absence of a single Constitution, legally supersede the Declaration of Independence and, unlike regular laws, have never been overturned by Israel's Supreme Court. Basic laws can be amended only by a majority in the Knesset.

    The nationality law has also drawn the ire of Jews abroad. The American Jewish Committee said it was "deeply disappointed" and described the law as "unnecessary."

    It may be left to the Supreme Court to interpret how the "Jewish people" in the title of the law applies to non-Orthodox, more liberal streams of Judaism, which are not officially recognized in Israel.

    "We will use all of the legal means available to us to challenge this new law and to promote Reform and Progressive Judaism in Israel," said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the New York-based Union for Reform Judaism.

    The law could further strain relations between the Israeli government and many North American Jews who have been increasingly alienated by Israeli hawkishness and coercion by the strictly Orthodox state religious authorities.

    It comes a year after the government reneged on an agreement to improve pluralistic prayer arrangements at the ancient Western Wall in Jerusalem, once a hallowed symbol of Jewish unity, and promoted a bill enshrining the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate's monopoly over conversions to Judaism in Israel.

    Some of the provisions of the nationality law had already been anchored in previous laws, such as those dealing with the "Law of Return," which guarantees that Israel is open for Jewish immigration, state symbols and Jewish festivals.

    This law stipulates that Hebrew is "the state's language" and downgrades Arabic to a language with a "special status." The clause is not likely to have much practical meaning since a subsequent clause says, "This clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect."

    Another highly divisive clause in the draft version that legal experts said opens the way for segregated communities was replaced by one declaring, "The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation."

    Some critics argued that this was even worse, because while the previous clause allowed for separate but equal communities, the new one could be interpreted to allow for discrimination in the allocation of resources.

    The debate has its roots in the establishment of the state of Israel, after the United Nations voted in 1947 to partition the British Mandate for Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Arab states rejected the plan and went to war.

    Seventy years later, proponents of the new law cite continuing threats; some in Israel's Arab minority are demanding collective rights and forming a majority in the northern Galilee district; and critics abroad are questioning the legitimacy of the Jewish state and calling for boycotts.

    Others still view the law as a largely pointless expression of nationalism that lays bare basic insecurities in a hostile region that will serve only to fan tensions at home and beyond.

    Avi Shilon, an Israeli historian who teaches at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and New York University in Tel Aviv, noted that Mr. Netanyahu and Likud were the ideological heirs of the right-wing Zionist Revisionist movement of Zeev Jabotinsky, which believed that words could shape reality.

    That view is in contrast with those held by the Labor Zionist founders of the state, led by David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister, who placed more faith in deeds and actions.

    "The great spirit of Ben-Gurion and the founding fathers was that they knew how to adjust to the times," Mr. Shilon said. "Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era."



    12) U.S. Has Already Sold More Weapons This Year Than All 2017: $47B

    By Paul McLeary, July 16, 2018


    AH-64 Apache

    FARNBOROUGH The United States has already blown past the amount ofweaponry it sold to foreign governments all last year — with more than two months to go before the fiscal year ends. 

    American defense companies, with the blessing of the Pentagon and State Department, have already sold $46.9 billion worth of weapons to foreign governments this year, leaving the $41 billion worth of deals in 2017 in the dust.

    Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which coordinates foreign sales, revealed the new numbers to me on Monday. "The president and the administration's plans have given us that leadership, guidance and focus, and we understand that this comes directly from the top, directly from the White House," he said. 

    The record for any single year is the $69.1 billion reached in 2012, but that was an outlier since it saw a staggering $29 billion deal for 84 F-15s to Saudi Arabia — a single signature line item that sent the total rocketing up from $40 billion.

    The previous high — without that massive Saudi buy — was $47 billion in 2015, a number the Pentagon is now within inches of topping.

    The huge numbers being posted so far in 2018 are partly the product of a push by the Trump administration to increase weapons sales as part of its America First ideology to boost U.S. manufacturing and, the thinking goes, arm allies in order to take some pressure off the Pentagon from providing security across the globe.

    Asked about where he sees the most growth in arms sales in the near term, Hooper said that "clearly we see an emergence in ballistic missile threats," and allies in Europe eyeing Russia, and the Persian Gulf, nervous about Iranian capabilities, are important in that regard. 

    Arms sales have become a central part of the president's remarks whenever he travels overseas, where he extolls the virtues of American weapons, while pushing allies to spend more on their own defense. At the NATO summit in Brussels last week, Trump suggested that he's willing to help some smaller allies buy more American gear.

    "We have many wealthy countries with us today, but we have some that aren't so wealthy and they did ask me if they could buy the military equipment and could I help them out. And we will help them out a little bit," he said during an impromptu news conference.

    "We are not going to finance it for them, but we will make sure that they are able to get payments and various other things so they can buy — because the United States makes by far the best military equipment in the world: the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns, the best everything."

    Hooper said the desire to make deals happen has pushed down to all levels of the process.

    "Listen, I've been in security cooperation for 15 years," he said. "I've never seen a time where there was a better collaboration with the State Department, the Commerce Department, and Capitol Hill, the National Security Council and the White House. There's never been a better time."

    The Trump administration issued marching orders to diplomats, White House staffers and Pentagon staff to push American weaponry whenever traveling abroad.

    Tina Kaidanow,, the State Department's acting assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs told reporters on a Monday conference call that "we have the entire weight of the U.S. government behind these efforts."
































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