In 1922, Albert Einstein said in a speech in Paris: "If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew."





"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.



Mass Action: No Nazis, No KKK in D.C.

Sunday, August 12, 2018, 11:00 A.M.

Lafayette Park, Washington D.C.

On August 12, the same white supremacist movement which murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia (exactly one year earlier) are bringing their racist roadshow to Lafayette Park in front of the White House. They are coming to Washington because they want to fan the flames of racism throughout the country. They were thrilled when Donald Trump said that their fascist ranks included "some very fine people".

We won't stand for that, or let this disgusting event go unanswered!

The vast majority of people in the Washington, D.C., area and throughout the country reject the message of the Nazis, KKK and other white supremacists. They are coming to Washington to be deliberately provocative. They are trying to prove that the fascist right wing is now a legitimate part of the political landscape.

We won't allow Washington, D.C., to be used as a stage to promote white supremacist hatred. This is a moment that demands action, not passivity. It is critically important to show that the forces opposed to racism, anti-immigrant bigotry, Islamophobia, anti-LGBTQ hatred and anti-Semitism will not be silenced or intimidated.

We urge you to help mobilize and support this protest against racism. We know that you believe just as much as we do that the disgusting forces who make up the "unite the right" coalition must be visibly rejected by the people of this country.

Initiating organizations include: ANSWER Coalition, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Justice First, Link-UP, Justice Center en El Barrio NYC, Internationalist Students Front-George Washington University, GW Queer Radicals, Philadelphia Liberation Center.

Click here to endorse this protest against racism:




Right now, Californians have the opportunity to make waves not just in our state, but around the globe. Together, we can make California the first major economy in the world to stop all new fossil fuel development and embark on a racially, economically just transition to 100% clean energy.

In the past year Trump has launched unprecedented attacks on frontline communities, the Clean Power Plan, and the EPA. Meanwhile, Governor Brown would like to build his legacy around the climate - but he has yet to stand up to Big Oil and prioritize a clean energy future for all of us. Now Governor Brown is hosting the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco September 12-14 with public officials from around the world.

That's why we're planning the largest climate march the West Coast has ever seen – days before the Summit, as part of a global day of action. Sign up to march in San Francisco on September 8.

Eight weeks later, millions more will take these demands to the polls, making Climate, Jobs, and Justice deciding issues in the mid-term elections and beyond.

We won't be acting alone. Bay Resistance is working with the California Environmental Justice Alliance, Idle No More SF Bay, 350, People's Climate Movement, and hundreds of other labor, faith, environmental justice, and community groups.

Mark your calendars to Rise for Climate, Jobs & Justice on September 8th. Then sign up to paint the largest street mural ever with us that day, so elected officials hear our message loud and clear!

In solidarity,

Kung, Celi, Kimi, Irene, and the Bay Resistance team



immigrant camps

US Military Ordered to Host Massive Immigrant Concentration Camps

We believe that all military personnel have a moral and legal obligation to refuse to comply with any order that involves collaboration with these camps.

Actual concentration camps are in the process of development at military bases across the Southern United States. This isn't the first time in US history that facilities are being constructed and used to imprison large numbers of a persecuted minority in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities (the definition of a concentration camp). Previous examples of this are now infamous, such as the so-called Japanese internment camps. We're now on the brink of adding a new chapter to this dark history.

Potential locations have been identified as:

  • Tornillo Port of Entry, Texas - capacity 360 teenagers CURRENTLY ACTIVE
  • Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas - capacity 45,000
  • Fort Bliss, Texas
  • Dyess Air Force Base, Texas
  • Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas - capacity 20,000
  • Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Air Station, California - capacity 47,000
  • Navy Outlying Field Wolf and Silverhill, Alabama - capacity 25,000
  • Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Arizona
  • Concord Naval Weapons Station, California - capacity 47,000 CANCELLED

to support resistance

Military officials, in response to pressured deadlines from the White House, have stated that these camps can begin to be operational by mid-August. Estimates are that capacity for another 10,000 people can be added each month. The White House's stated timeline of 45 days out from June 27th has local base commanders scrambling and caught unaware.

In addition to providing the land, military personnel will construct the camps while private agencies will manage the operations. While this simplified explanation of operations seeks to minimize the military's role, it omits the endless capacities in which the armed forces will surely be facilitating the functioning of these camps such as with water, electricity, sewage, trash, and all of the other services to go allow with sustaining tens of thousands of immigrant detainees.

The military is strictly prohibited from domestic policing as stated in the constitution yet military personnel are being drafted into doing just that with this rising domestic enforcement of immigration policy. Just because Trump/Sessions Co. declares a war on immigrants, doesn't make it an actual war. Being quite clearly an illegal order, the question is who will refuse to aid and abet?



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

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist





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

"Trumpty Dumpty"

By Dr. Nayvin Gordon

Trumpty Dumpty sat on his wall,

Trumpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the kingpin's forces and all the KKKlansmem

Couldn't put Trumpty together again.

July 25, 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) Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the U.K. What Comes Next?

    By Glen Greenwald, July 21, 2018


    July 21, 2018—Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno traveled to London on Friday for the ostensible purpose of speaking at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit (Moreno has been using a wheelchair since being shot in a 1998 robbery attempt.) The concealed, actual purpose of the president's trip is to meet with British officials to finalize an agreement under which Ecuador will withdraw its asylum protection of Julian Assange, in place since 2012, eject him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and then hand over the WikiLeaksfounder to British authorities.

    Moreno's itinerary also notably includes a trip to Madrid, where he will meet with Spanish officials still seething over Assange's denunciation of human rights abuses perpetrated by Spain's central government against protesters marching for Catalonian independence. Almost three months ago, Ecuador blocked Assange from accessing the Internet, and Assange has not been able to communicate with the outside world ever since. The primary factor in Ecuador's decision to silence him was Spanish anger over Assange's tweets about Catalonia.

    A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry and the president's office, unauthorized to speak publicly, has confirmed to The Interceptthat Moreno is close to finalizing, if he has not already finalized, an agreement to hand over Assange to the U.K. within the next several weeks. The withdrawal of asylum and physical ejection of Assange could come as early as this week. On Friday, RT reported that Ecuador was preparing to enter into such an agreement.

    The consequences of such an agreement depend in part on the concessions Ecuador extracts in exchange for withdrawing Assange's asylum. But as former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told The Intercept in an interview in May, Moreno's government has returned Ecuador to a highly "subservient" and "submissive" posture toward western governments.

    It is thus highly unlikely that Moreno—who has shown himself willing to submit to threats and coercion from the U.K., Spain and the U.S.—will obtain a guarantee that the U.K. not extradite Assange to the U.S., where top Trump officials have vowed to prosecute Assange and destroy WikiLeaks.

    The central oddity of Assange's case—that he has been effectively imprisoned for eight years despite never having been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime—is virtually certain to be prolonged once Ecuador hands him over to the U.K. Even under the best-case scenario, it appears highly likely that Assange will continue to be imprisoned by British authorities.

    The only known criminal proceeding Assange currently faces is a pending 2012 arrest warrant for "failure to surrender"—basically a minor bail violation that arose when he obtained asylum from Ecuador rather than complying with bail conditions by returning to court for a hearing on his attempt to resist extradition to Sweden.

    That offense carries a prison term of three months and a fine, though it is possible that the time Assange has already spent in prison in the U.K. could be counted against that sentence. In 2010, Assange was imprisoned in Wandsworth Prison, kept in isolation, for ten days until he was released on bail; he was then under house arrest for 550 days at the home of a supporter.

    Assange's lawyer, Jen Robinson, told The Interceptthat he would argue that all of that prison time already served should count toward (and thus completely fulfill) any prison term imposed on the "failure to surrender" charge, though British prosecutors would almost certainly contest that claim. Assange would also argue that he had a reasonable, valid basis for seeking asylum rather than submitting to U.K. authorities: namely, well-grounded fear that he would be extradited to the U.S. for prosecution for the act of publishing documents.

    Beyond that minor charge, British prosecutors could argue that Assange's evading of legal process in the U.K. was so protracted, intentional and malicious that it rose beyond mere "failure to surrender" to "contempt of court," which carries a prison term of up to two years. Just on those charges alone, then, Assange faces a high risk of detention for another year or even longer in a British prison.

    Currently, that is the only known criminal proceeding Assange faces. In May 2017, Swedish prosecutors announced they were closing their investigation into the sexual assault allegations due to the futility of proceeding in light of Assange's asylum and the time that has elapsed.

    The far more important question that will determine Assange's future is what the U.S. government intends to do. The Obama administration was eager to prosecute Assange and WikiLeaksfor publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, but ultimately concluded that there was no way to do so without either also prosecuting newspapers such as the New York Timesand The Guardian, which published the same documents, or creating precedents that would enable the criminal prosecution of media outlets in the future.

    Indeed, it is technically a crime under U.S. law for anyone—including a media outlet—to publish certain types of classified information. Under U.S. law, for instance, it was a felony for the Washington Post'sDavid Ignatius to report on the contents of telephone calls, intercepted by the NSA, between then National Security Adviser nominee Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, even though such reporting was clearly in the public interest since it proved Flynn lied when he denied such contacts.

    That the Washington Postand Ignatius—and not merely their sources—violated U.S. criminal law by revealing the contents of intercepted communications with a Russian official is made clear by the text of 18 § 798 of the U.S. Code, which provides (emphasis added):

    "Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates…or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes…any classified information…obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government…shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."

    But the U.S. Justice Department has never wanted to indict and prosecute anyone for the crime of publishing such material, contenting themselves instead to prosecuting the government sources who leak it. Their reluctance has been due to two reasons: First, media outlets would argue that any attempts to criminalize the mere publication of classified or stolen documents is barred by the press freedom guarantee of the First Amendment, a proposition the DOJ has never wanted to test; second, no DOJ has wanted as part of its legacy the creation of a precedent that allows the U.S. government to criminally prosecute journalists and media outlets for reporting classified documents.

    But the Trump administration has made clear that they have no such concerns. Quite the contrary: Last April, Trump's then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, now his secretary of state, delivered a deranged, rambling, highly threatening broadsideagainst WikiLeaks. Without citing any evidence, Pompeo decreed that WikiLeaksis "a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia," and thus declared: "We have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us."

    The longtime right-wing congressman, now one of Trump's most loyal and favored cabinet officials, also explicitly rejected any First Amendment concerns about prosecuting Assange, arguing that while WikiLeaks"pretended that America's First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice…they may have believed that, but they are wrong."

    Pompeo then issued this bold threat: "To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now."

    Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions has similarly vowed not only to continue and expand the Obama DOJ's crackdown on sources, but also to consider the prosecution of media outlets that publish classified information. It would be incredibly shrewd for Sessions to lay the foundation for doing so by prosecuting Assange first, safe in the knowledge that journalists themselves—consumed with hatred for Assange due to personal reasons, professional jealousies, and anger over the role they believed he played in 2016 in helping Hillary Clinton lose—would unite behind the Trump DOJ and in support of its efforts to imprison Assange.

    During the Obama years, it was a mainstream view among media outlets that prosecuting Assange would be a serious danger to press freedoms. Even the Washington Posteditorial page, which vehemently condemned WikiLeakswarned in 2010 that any such prosecution would "criminalize the exchange of information and put at risk" all media outlets. When Pompeo and Sessions last year issued their threats to prosecute Assange, former Obama DOJ spokesperson Matthew Miller insisted that no such prosecution could ever succeed:

    "Glen Greenwald, April 13, 2017

    "Pompeo also creepily vowed to end the use of 'free speech values' by 'Assange and his colleagues.' How?

    "Jim Sciutto: Breaking: CIA Director Pompeo: 'It's time to call out WikiLeaksfor what it is; a non-state hostile intelligence service' abetted by Russia.

    "Matthew Miller: Replying to Greenwald: It's also hollow. DOJ knows it can't win a cast against someone just for publishing secrets."

    For years, the Obama DOJ searched for evidence that Assange actively assisted Chelsea Manning or other sources in the hacking or stealing of documents—in order to prosecute them for more than merely publishing documents—and found no such evidence. But even that theory—that a publisher of classified documents can be prosecuted for assisting a source—would be a severe threat to press freedom, since journalists frequently work in some form of collaboration with sources who remove or disclose classified information. And nobody has ever presented evidence that WikiLeaksconspired with whoever hacked the DNC and Podesta email inboxes to effectuate that hacking.

    But there seems little question that, as Sessions surely knows, large numbers of U.S. journalists—along with many, perhaps most, Democrats—would actually support the Trump DOJ in prosecuting Assange for publishing documents. After all, the DNC sued WikiLeaksin April for publishing documents—a serious, obvious threat to press freedom—and few objected.

    And it was Democratic senators such as Dianne Feinstein who, during the Obama years, were urging the prosecution of WikiLeaks, with the support of numerous GOP senators. There is no doubt that, after 2016, support among both journalists and Democrats for imprisoning Assange for publishing documents would be higher than ever.

    If the U.S. did indict Assange for alleged crimes relating to the publication of documents, or if they have already obtained a sealed indictment, and then uses that indictment to request that the U.K. extradite him to the U.S. to stand trial, that alone would ensure that Assange remains in prison in the U.K. for years to come.

    Assange would, of course, resist any such extradition on the ground that publishing documents is not a cognizable crime and that the U.S is seeking his extradition for political charges that, by treaty, cannot serve as the basis for extradition. But it would take at least a year, and probably closer to three years, for U.K. courts to decide these extradition questions. And while all of that lingers, Assange would almost certainly be in prison, given that it is inconceivable that a British judge would release Assange on bail given what happened the last time he was released.

    All of this means that it is highly likely that Assange—under his best-case scenario—faces at least another year in prison, and will end up having spent a decade in prison despite never having been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime. He has essentially been punished—imprisoned—by process.

    And while it is often argued that Assange has only himself to blame, it is beyond doubt, given the grand jury convened by the Obama DOJ and now the threats of Pompeo and Sessions, that the fear that led Assange to seek asylum in the first place—being extradited to the U.S. and politically persecuted for political crimes—was well-grounded.

    Assange, his lawyers and his supporters always said that he would immediately board a plane to Stockholm if he were guaranteed that doing so would not be used to extradite him to the U.S., and for years offered to be questioned by Swedish investigators inside the embassy in London, something Swedish prosecutors only did years later. Citing those facts, a United Nations panel ruled in 2016 that the actions of the U.K. government constituted "arbitrary detention" and a violation of Assange's fundamental human rights.

    But if, as seems quite likely, the Trump administration finally announces that it intends to prosecute Assange for publishing classified U.S. government documents, we will be faced with the bizarre spectacle of U.S. journalists—who have spent the last two years melodramatically expressing grave concern over press freedom due to insulting tweets from Donald Trump about Wolf Blitzer and Chuck Todd or his mean treatment of Jim Acosta—possibly cheering for a precedent that would be the gravest press freedom threat in decades.

    That precedent would be one that could easily be used to put them in a prison cell alongside Assange for the new "crime" of publishing any documents that the U.S. government has decreed should not be published. When it comes to press freedom threats, such an indictment would not be in the same universe as name-calling tweets by Trump directed at various TV personalities.

    When it came to denouncing due process denials and the use of torture at Guantanamo, it was not difficult for journalists to set aside their personal dislike for Al Qaeda sympathizers to denounce the dangers of those human rights and legal abuses. When it comes to free speech assaults, journalists are able to set aside their personal contempt for a person's opinions to oppose the precedent that the government can punish people for expressing noxious ideas.

    It should not be this difficult for journalists to set aside their personal emotions about Assange to recognize the profound dangers—not just to press freedoms but to themselves—if the U.S. government succeeds in keeping Assange imprisoned for years to come, all due to its attempts to prosecute him for publishing classified or stolen documents. That seems the highly likely scenario once Ecuador hands over Assange to the U.K.



    2)  Trump's New Target in the Politics of Fear: Citizenship

    By John Ganz, July 23, 2018


    Watching Senator Joseph McCarthy at a televised hearing in 1954. The Trump administration has organized a task force to denaturalize American citizens, the first effort at mass expatriation contemplated since the McCarthy era.

    Surveying the wreckage of McCarthyism in 1957, the political theorist Hannah Arendt wrote about efforts to denaturalize American citizens suspected of Communist ties. 

    "It seems absurd," she concluded, "but the fact is that, under the political circumstances of this century, a constitutional amendment may be needed to assure American citizens that they cannot be deprived of their citizenship, no matter what they do." 

    It no longer seems so absurd. Citizenship is squarely in the Trump administration's cross hairs. It has organized a Citizenship and Immigration Services task force to denaturalize American citizens, the first effort of mass expatriation contemplated since the McCarthy era. In a recent op-ed articlefor The Washington Post, Michael Anton, a former national security official in the administration, even proposed getting rid of birthright citizenship — by dictatorial fiat, no less: "It falls, then, to Trump. An executive order could specify to federal agencies that the children of noncitizens are not citizens." 

    Yes, you're reading that right: A high-ranking former member of the state security apparatus seriously believes that it is good policy to revoke citizenship by executive order.

    Nor is this is just the oddball notion of some eccentric former staff member. As far back as August 2015, Mr. Trump himself has trotted out similar ideastelling CNN, "The 14th Amendment is very questionable as to whether or not somebody can come over and immediately that baby is a citizen." He also suggested that "you can do something fast" to end birthright citizenship. It may be time to revisit Arendt's proposal.

    For Arendt, the prospect of mass statelessness was particularly alarming. Since states are the only institutions able to guarantee rights, she wrote, "A stateless person is not just expelled from one country, native or adopted, but from all countries — none being obliged to receive and naturalize him — which means he is actually expelled from humanity. Deprivation of citizenship consequently could be counted among the crimes against humanity, and some of the worst recognized crimes in this category have in fact, and not incidentally, been preceded by mass expatriations." 

    Arendt, a refugee from Nazi Germany who had been for a time stateless herself, had observed how, during the Holocaust, Jews had first been rendered stateless and how this had prevented their escape and facilitated their mass killing.This may seem like a remote possibility today, but it's important to remember the stakes and meaning of statelessness. 

    It should be noted that it's currently extremely difficult to denaturalize an American citizen, and it almost never happens. Even during McCarthyism, when there was the political will and legal machinery to expatriate people, the process was slowed down considerably by procedure and the courts. And in 1958, the Supreme Court ruled in Trop v. Dulles that denaturalization as a penalty for crimes was a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments, with Earl Warren sharing some of Arendt's sentiments about its horrors: "It is a form of punishment more primitive than torture, for it destroys for the individual the political existence that was centuries in development."

    While it appears to be technically possible for someone to lose his citizenship by committing treason, subsequent court rulings have made it impossible for a citizen to be stripped of that status without voluntarily renouncing it: You must simultaneously commit treason and state that you no longer want to be a United States citizen.

    However, it is still possible for someone to lose hiscitizenship if it can be shown he acquired it fraudulently. A prominent case of this is John Demjanjuk, the Ukrainian-American autoworker who was accused of being the notorious guard Ivan the Terrible, responsible for gassing hundreds of thousands at Treblinka and lying on his citizenship application about his Nazi past. Mr. Demjanjuk had his citizenship revoked, restored on appeal and then revoked again. 

    Today, the Trump administration is looking to deport people for offenses they committed before they were citizens but did not disclose on their forms. For instance, The Miami Herald reported that the Citizenship and Immigration Services is attempting to denaturalize a Florida woman, Norma Borgogno, who immigrated from Peru, on the grounds that she did not disclose a criminal past on her citizenship application. Ms. Borgogno, a 63-year-old secretary, got involved in a fraud scheme her boss had perpetrated, cooperated with the F.B.I., pleaded guilty and served a year of house arrest and four years of probation. Not exactly Ivan the Terrible. 

    The number of potential denaturalization cases that are being considered is reportedly in the thousands, so the Trump administration can't hope to permanently alter the demographics of the country with this unwieldy device. 

    Maybe it doesn't have to. It's possible that the true intent — and the probable consequence — of the Trump policy is that naturalized citizens will not actively participate in political activity for fear that some old mistake on their forms could put their status in jeopardy. 

    This makes denaturalization policy a tool of political repression:Immigrants might not exercise their rights for fear that they will lose them all, or at least be dragged in front of a court and required to pay expensive lawyers' fees. Since it is virtually impossible for a natural-born citizen to lose hiscitizenship, even the small possibility that naturalized citizens can lose theirs makes them, in effect, second-class citizens, unable to freely participate in public life without looming state repression. 

    When Arendt warned that "totalitarian solutions may well survive the fall of totalitarian regimes" and return disguised in otherwise free countries, things like this and Mr. Anton's perverse proposals may be the sort of things she had in mind. 

    The way to forever neutralize this technique of fear is to make citizenship permanent and irrevocable. While a statute might suffice, a constitutional amendment as Arendt proposed would make it so citizenship could never again be a political target. Even the remotest possibility that one group of citizens who have gained power might have the ability to strip another group of citizens of their rights should make one shudder. The future of American democracy demands we guarantee now that citizenship cannot be stripped.

    John Ganz is the executive editor of the website Genius.



    3) Larry David: The Most Important Meal of the Day

    By Larry David, July 23, 2018


    The White House chief of staff, John Kelly, left, with Kay Bailey Hutchison, the American ambassador to NATO; President Trump; and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels last week.

    There have been a number of highly publicized walk-backs by the White House of late, the most notable being "wouldn't" replacing "would." The week before, however, there was one during the NATO Conference in Brussels that went somewhat under the radar. While President Trump was berating Germany, Gen. John F. Kelly, his chief of staff, was clearly seen grimacing at the table. Within hours, Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement saying the reason Kelly grimaced was not because of anything Trump said; rather, Kelly was displeased "because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese."

    Sanders was roundly mocked for that explanation, but being a big breakfast fan, I withheld any criticism until I could gather more information about the incident. And gather I did. I have since concluded that Sanders was, in fact, correct. And although the last thing I'd ever want to do is defend the White House, the facts are irrefutable. I present them herein.

    The night before the aforementioned conference, Kelly had a light supper consisting of fresh halibut and peas. By 11 o'clock that evening, he was starving and lightheaded. He eyed the Pringles in the mini bar, but then decided it made more sense to go to bed hungry and gorge himself the next morning on a huge breakfast. (Note: In speaking with some of Kelly's friends and family, I've learned he's always been a big breakfast guy. Legend has it he made his first bacon and eggs unsupervised while standing on a chair when he was 2 and a half. Even when he was stationed in Iraq, he made sure to have his breakfast brought in every morning, sometimes at great personal risk to the aide-de-camp.)

    Back to the night in question … At 11:03 p.m., he called the young Belgian assigned to him, Romain De Stedt, to find out when the conference was starting in the morning so he would have enough time to have breakfast in the hotel without rushing. (He considered a rushed breakfast a crime against nature.) But young De Stedt told him he could sleep in, assuring him they'd be serving breakfast at the conference.

    "Are you sure?"

    "Definitely. And it's gonna be a good one, from what I'm told. Pancakes."

    Kelly couldn't believe his ears. "Pancakes? You're kidding."

    "I wouldn't kid about that. With real maple syrup."

    Kelly's mouth watered. "Gee, it's been a while since I had pancakes with real maple syrup. You know this for a fact?"

    "Yes. I've got an in with the guy who's in charge of the whole thing and he confirmed it. Actually, why don't you tell me now what you want so it'll all be ready for you when the conference starts."

    "O.K., well definitely the pancakes. Can I get eggs too?"


    "Really? I don't want them to think I'm a pig."

    "No, they don't care. Get the eggs."

    "And make sure not to put the eggs on the pancakes — I want them on the side. The pancakes are not a substitute for toast."

    "How do you take them?"

    "Over-easy. And if the yolk is broken, don't bother. I'm not eating anything with a broken yolk. I swear, if I find any broken yolk, there's gonna be hell to pay."

    "No worries, sir."

    "And maybe a toasted English muffin. But it has to be toasted. English muffins are awful when they're not toasted enough."

    "Sir, those muffins will be toasted. You can bank on it."

    "O.K., this is fantastic. When are you gonna put the order in?"

    "Soon as I wake up. I'll set the alarm."

    Kelly was so excited at the prospect of his big breakfast that he could barely sleep that night. Pancakes! Real maple syrup! … There is a God. Kelly turned his pillow over, adjusted the blanket … and then the fretting began. Maybe I should've ordered two English muffins. One is not enough for dunking in the yolk. You are so stupid. You know one muffin's not enough … Holy cow, did I forget the bacon?!

    The next morning, Kelly arrived at the conference table, dark circles under his eyes. He could barely pay attention to anyone, so focused was he on breakfast. But where was it? Where's that idiot, De Stedt?! I knew there was something about that guy! He wears those colorful socks! They look ridiculous.

    Then, just as Trump started to speak, De Stedt burst in, spotted Kelly, and with as much apologetic fervor as he could muster, mouthed, "No breakfast … Sorry." Kelly was incredulous. "What happened?!" he mouthed back. De Stedt hung his head. "My alarm didn't go off." Kelly sat back, crushed. He thought about the pancakes and maple syrup and his face twisted into a sour knot.

    Kay Bailey Hutchison, who was sitting next to him, was also expecting breakfast that morning. It was just Greek yogurt and berries, but her disappointment was palpable and it was all she could do to keep it together. When the conference ended, the two of them made haste to the nearest restaurant.

    While they were waiting for their food, they checked their phones — both were lit up with texts commenting on how the two of them were grimacing during Trump's remarks. Kelly was nonplused.

    "Grimacing?! That's ridiculous!"

    Hutchison agreed. "Nothing could be further from the truth!"

    Kelly was beside himself. "Damn. This could turn into some kind of international incident. Maybe cost me my job. What shall we do?"

    Hutchison pondered that for a second. "Let's just tell them the truth."

    It was at this point that the waiter placed their breakfast on the table. Kelly looked it over, quite pleased. "Good idea." Then he rubbed his hands together. "Let's eat!"

    Larry David is the creator of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." His typical breakfast consists of poached eggs with a bagel.



    4) He Has Spent Three Decades in Prison. Now Experts Dispute the Evidence.

    By Pamela Colloff, July 24, 2018


    Joe Bryan, who was convicted of his wife's 1985 murder but maintains his innocence, in prison earlier this year.

    An influential state commission said the blood-spatter analysis used to convict a former Texas high school principal of murdering his wife in 1985 was "not accurate or scientifically supported" and the expert who testified was "entirely wrong."

    The findings of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, a national leader in forensic science reform, called into question the conviction of Joe Bryan, who has now spent more than 30 years in prison.

    Mr. Bryan was the subject of a two-part investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine in May that questioned the accuracy of the bloodstain pattern analysis used to convict Mr. Bryan, as well as the training of the experts who testify in such cases.

    The findings, which were released during a commission meeting Friday, give fresh urgency to the pleas of Mr. Bryan, now 77 and in poor health, for a new trial. Mr. Bryan had been attending a principals' convention in Austin, 120 miles from where the murder occurred, in the days surrounding the murder. He has always maintained that he was in Austin, asleep in his hotel room, at the time of the crime.

    Created by the Texas Legislature in 2005, the commission — made up of seven scientists, one prosecutor and one defense attorney — does not investigate the guilt or innocence of defendants, but rather the reliability and integrity of the forensic science used to win their convictions. Earlier this year, its inquiry into the Bryan case broadened into a re-examination of bloodstain-pattern analysis, a forensic discipline whose practitioners regard the drops, spatters and trails of blood at a crime scene as clues that can sometimes be used to reverse-engineer the crime itself.

    The commission examined the training of some of the discipline's practitioners, who have been admitted as expert witnesses in courts around the country despite having completed no more than a weeklong course in bloodstain interpretation.

    Robert Thorman, a police detective from Harker Heights, Tex., with 40 hours of training in bloodstain-pattern analysis, was a key prosecution witness in the Bryan case. His testimony about a blood-speckled flashlight found by the victim's brother in the trunk of Mr. Bryan's car four days after the murder was the linchpin of the prosecution's case.

    Yet what connection the flashlight had to the crime, if any, was never clear. In 1985, a crime lab technician working before the advent of DNA analysis determined the blood on the flashlight to be type O, which corresponded not only to Mr. Bryan's wife, Mickey, but also to nearly half the population.

    To secure a guilty verdict, prosecutors needed to tie the flashlight to the crime scene. Based on his assessment of photographs of the flashlight, Mr. Thorman testified that the flecks of blood on its lens were "back spatter" — a pattern that indicated a close-range shooting. With the help of prosecutors, he wove a narrative that suggested the flashlight had been present at the crime scene — specifically, that the killer was holding the flashlight in one hand at the time that he shot Mickey Bryan.

    At Friday's meeting in Austin, bloodstain-pattern analyst Celestina Rossi provided a highly critical assessment of Mr. Thorman's interpretation of both the crime scene and the flashlight. "Thorman's testimony was egregiously wrong," Ms. Rossi said after the meeting. "If any juror relied on any part of his testimony to render a verdict, Mr. Bryan deserves a new trial."

    After the publication of the story by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, the Texas Forensic Science Commission asked Ms. Rossi, a locally prominent bloodstain-pattern analyst, to re-examine the case. The commission had previously retained another analyst, whose findings about the complex case were brief and did not fully answer the commission's questions.

    Ms. Rossi's assessment, which was based on more than 60 hours of research and analysis, supported and expanded upon many of the article's findings about Mr. Thorman's work.

    Ms. Rossi found that the detective misstated scientific concepts, used flawed methodology and incorrectly interpreted evidence. Both his analysis and his expert testimony were not scientifically accurate, she told the commission, and could not be supported by published research or data.

    Among the erroneous claims that Mr. Thorman made on the stand, Ms. Rossi found, was his contention that blood evaporated after traveling 46 inches through the air. He also testified — incorrectly — that "human blood has its own characteristic geometric patterns." Neither of these assertions pertained directly to the evidence in the case, but they showed Mr. Thorman's fundamental lack of understanding of basic scientific principles, she said.

    Most significantly, Ms. Rossi dismantled the prosecution's single-most important contention: that the blood-spattered flashlight was present at the crime and held by the killer. Ms. Rossi determined that the dark-brown flecks on the flashlight did not "radiate back in a radiating pattern" as they would in "a back-spatter event." In other words, the bloodstains were not consistent with a close-range shooting.

    Mr. Thorman, who is now retired, declined to comment on Ms. Rossi's findings, explaining that he would wait to do so until the commission releases its final report in October. But, he said, "I did what I was trained to do."

    Ms. Rossi's findings carried particular weight because she is a law enforcement officer, not a paid expert retained by the defense. A veteran crime scene investigator with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office crime laboratory in Conroe, Tex., north of Houston, Ms. Rossi frequently testifies as a prosecution witness in trials around the state. She was recently appointed to a working group overseen by the National Institute of Standards and Technology that is charged with strengthening standards across the discipline.

    Ms. Rossi's analysis of the Bryan case was not the only setback to the prosecution. Lynn Garcia, the commission's general counsel, said that Patricia Almanza, a state crime lab technician who testified extensively about blood and trace evidence in the case, had repeatedly made assertions that went beyond her fields of expertise. In response to questioning by a prosecutor, Ms. Almanza had given her opinion about the characteristics of blood spatter, though she was not qualified to do so, and gave an opinion about fiber evidence that she had not tested.

    Ms. Almanza, who now goes by the name Retzlaff, could not be reached for comment.

    But perhaps the biggest blow to Adam Sibley, the Bosque County district attorney, who has so far successfully blocked Mr. Bryan's efforts to have DNA analysis performed on previously untested evidence, was Ms. Garcia's suggestion that the commission may recommend that DNA testing proceed when it issues its final report. (Doing so would require the district attorney's office to abandon its appeal of a 2017 court ruling, which had ordered testing to begin.) This testing would include further analysis of the flashlight. In 2012, a test for the presence of blood on the lens was performed but came back negative.

    Mr. Sibley listened attentively throughout the presentation on Friday, which took place in a conference room at the Texas Supreme Court that was crowded with forensic scientists, attorneys and Texas Rangers. A justice from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the court that will ultimately decide whether Mr. Bryan is granted a new trial, also watched the presentation.

    Mr. Sibley declined to comment on the Bryan case, citing ongoing litigation. But the commission's preliminary findings, announced in a public hearing attended by some of the state's foremost jurists and forensic scientists, may make it harder for him to justify his ongoing efforts to prevent further DNA testing.

    The next chapter in the Bryan case will begin on Aug. 20, when a three-day evidentiary hearing will take place in the district court in Comanche, Tex. Mr. Bryan's attorneys, Walter Reaves and Jessica Freud of Waco, will present witnesses and evidence to support their argument that Mr. Bryan should be granted a new trial. The presiding judge will then make recommendations to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, whose justices will be the final arbiters.

    Regardless, the Bryan case has already spurred forensic science reform. In February, the commission sought to end the practice of allowing law enforcement officers with minimal training in bloodstain-pattern analysis to testify in Texas, stipulating that such analysis must be performed by an accredited organization if it is to be allowed in court.

    The decision is expected to prompt other states to follow suit, as the commission's reforms often do.

    As for the Bryan case, the consensus among observers on Friday was that the prosecution's job of defending the decades-old conviction had become far more difficult. The Bosque County district attorney's office's insistence on doing so, particularly in light of the commission's findings, "continues to defy logic and pervert justice," Ms. Freud said. "If the state had to try this case tomorrow, it would be nearly impossible to secure a conviction."

    Pamela Colloff is a senior reporter for ProPublica and a writer at large for The New York Times magazine.



    5)  Chemicals in Food May Harm Children, Pediatricians' Group Says

    By Roni Caryn Rabin, July 23, 2018


    A major pediatricians' group is urging families to limit the use of plastic food containers, cut down on processed meat during pregnancy and consume more whole fruits and vegetables rather than processed food. Such measures would lower children's exposures to chemicals in food and food packaging that are tied to health problems such as obesity, the group says. 

    The American Academy of Pediatrics issued the guidelines in a statementand scientific technical report on Monday. The group joins other medical and advocacy groups that have expressed concern about the growing body of scientific evidence indicating that certain chemicals that enter foods may interfere with the body's natural hormones in ways that may affect long-term growth and development.

    The pediatricians' group, which represents some 67,000 of the country's children's doctors, is also calling for more rigorous testing and regulation of thousands of chemicals used as food additives or indirectly added to foods when they are used in manufacturing or leach from packaging and plastics.

    Among the chemicals that raised particular concern are nitrates and nitrites, which are used as preservatives, primarily in meat products; phthalates, which are used to make plastic packaging; and bisphenols, used in the lining of metal cans for canned food products. Also of concern to the pediatricians are perfluoroalkyl chemicals, or PFCs, used in grease-proof paper and packaging, and perchlorates, an antistatic agent used in plastic packaging.

    "The good news is there are safe and simple steps people can take right now to limit exposures, and they don't have to break the bank," said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, the lead author of the statement and chief of the division of environmental pediatrics at New York University's School of Medicine. 

    "Avoiding canned food is a great way to reduce your bisphenol exposure in general, and avoiding packaged and processed food is a good way to avoid phthalates exposures," Dr. Trasande said. He also suggested wrapping foods in wax paper in lieu of plastic wrap.

    Jonathan Corley, a spokesman for the American Chemistry Council, a trade association, said: "Chemicals are critical to protecting the quality and integrity of food, help in the safe transportation and storage of food." He said that many of the chemicals referred to in the A.A.P. statement did not act as endocrine disrupters "in typical uses and at typical exposure levels," but did not provide scientific references to support that contention.

    In a separate development Monday, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, who used a novel method for scanning blood said they had found dozens of chemicals called environmental organic acids, orE.O.A.s, in pregnant women.

    E.O.A.s, which include bisphenol-A, have chemical structures similar to hormones, meaning they may disrupt the endocrine system of the fetus and interfere with development. Researchers involved in the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, said some of the chemicals had never before been documented in the blood of pregnant women, including two chemicals that are linked to genetic defects, fetal damage and cancer.

    Among the other chemicals detected in the pregnant women were an estrogenic compound used in food-related plastic products, plastic pipes and water bottles, as well as a compound banned for use as a diet drug by the Food and Drug Administration decades ago, because of the risks but still used in cosmetics, pesticides and as a coloring agent in industrial processes, said Aolin Wang, one of the study's authors.

    Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of chemicals in food in part because they eat more food per pound of body weight than adults. Perhaps more significantly, children's metabolic systems and key organ systems are still developing and maturing, so hormone disruptions can potentially cause lasting changes.

    "Because hormones act at low concentrations in our blood, it is not surprising that even low-level exposures to endocrine disrupters can contribute to disease," said Laura N. Vandenberg, an assistant professor in the department of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst's School of Public Health, who spoke on behalf of the Endocrine Society.

    Many of the chemicals described in the pediatrics report have been shown to interfere with normal hormone function "by mimicking or blocking the actions of hormones that are responsible for brain development, development of the sex organs and normal metabolic functions," she said.

    Child obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s, with nearly one in five children aged 6 to 19 now considered obese; the prevalence of developmental disorders in children increased from the 1990s to the mid-2000s; and rates of diagnoses of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes among children and teenagers are also on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The A.A.P. statement was particularly critical of a regulatory process by which the F.D.A. designates food additives "generally recognized as safe," citing a 2010 Government Accountability Office review of the program that determined "the F.D.A. is not able to ensure the safety of existing or new additives through this approval mechanism."

    An F.D.A. spokeswoman, Megan McSeveney, said the agency does not comment on specific statements or studies, but said that food safety "is at the core of the agency's mission to protect and promote public health for our nation's consumers."

    She said F.D.A. regulations define "safety" for substances in food to mean "there is reasonable scientific certainty that the substance is not harmful when used as intended," and that applies to food additives, color additives and substances that are generally recognized as safe as well as substances that are used in producing, packing, preparing or processing food that "are expected to become components of food."

    "If new information (such as published studies and adverse event reports) suggests that a substance already in use may be unsafe (whether it is an additive or otherwise exempt), or if consumption levels have changed in ways that could affect safety, the F.D.A. can conduct further studies to review whether the use can still be considered safe," Ms. McSeveney said in an email.

    The pediatrics group suggests that doctors recommend families take the following steps in order to reduce chemical exposures to children:

    • Prioritize the consumption of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables whenever possible.

    • Avoid processed meats, especially during pregnancy.

    • Avoid microwaving food or beverages — including infant formula and pumped breast milk — in plastic containers, and don't put plastic food containers in the dishwasher. 

    • Use alternatives to plastic, like glass or stainless steel, whenever possible.

    • Check the recycling code on the bottom of products and avoid plastics with recycling codes 3, 6 and 7, which may contain phthalates, styrene and bisphenols, unless they are labeled "biobased" or "greenware," indicating they're made from corn and do not contain bisphenols.

    • Wash hands before handling food and drinks, and wash all fruits and vegetables that aren't peeled.



    6)  Mesut Ozil's Exit From German Soccer Team Stokes Debate on Integration

    By Christopher F. Schuetze, July 23, 2018


    Midfielder Mesut Ozil in Germany's World Cup match against South Korea last month in Kazan, Russia.

    BERLIN — Germany awoke to a national debate on integration, racism and sports on Monday, as the news hit that one of its most celebrated soccer players was quitting the national team, saying that he was the victim of bigotry and hypocrisy.

    Mesut Ozil, a star of Germany's world champion 2014 team, announced his resignation in a series of lengthy social media posts, after enduring weeks of criticism for posing for a picture with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and for his performance in Germany's shocking early exit from this year's World Cup.

    "I'm a German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose," wrote Mr. Ozil, who was born in Germany to parents who had immigrated from Turkey.

    Mr. Ozil, 29, has been a symbol of modern German soccer and, by extension, a modern, diverse Germany — an attacking midfielder who has been voted player of the year five times by German fans and has played on the national team for nearly a decade. His sudden departure from the national team raised long-simmering questions about ethnic identity in Germany, and the intersection of sports and politics.

    "It is cause for alarm when a great German footballer like Mesut Ozil no longer feels wanted in his country because of racism and feels unrepresented by the DFB," the federal justice minister, Katarina Barley, wrote on Twitter shortly after the decision was published on Sunday, referring to the German acronym of the German Football Association.

    The sports journalist Martin Schneider wrote in the Süddeutsche Zeitungdaily that, more than the squad's early exit from the tournament, "the end of Mesut Ozil in the German national team is the real defeat of the summer."

    In May, Mr. Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan, another teammate with Turkish roots, posed with Mr. Erdogan, the autocratic ruler of Turkey who was campaigning for re-election.

    That prompted some to question whether Mr. Ozil should be on the national team, and the picture was roundly criticized as partisan, in a country where major sports figures are expected to act like apolitical role models.

    Then in June, Germany, the defending champion, endured the worst performance in its modern World Cup history — sent home from the tournament in Russia before 16 other teams advanced to the knockout round of play. The denunciation of Mr. Ozil by some fans, commentators and soccer officials escalated.

    The team's general manager, Oliver Bierhoff, appeared to question Mr. Ozil's on-the-pitch performance, suggesting that he should have been left off the team. Reinhard Grindel, the head of the soccer association, publicly demanded that Mr. Ozil explain the Erdogan picture; Mr. Grindel, in turn, was accused of failing to protect Mr. Ozil from xenophobic attacks.

    In his resignation statement on Sunday, Mr. Ozil wrote that his meeting with Mr. Erdogan was not political, but "was about me respecting the highest office" of Turkey.

    A large part of his statement focused on his disagreement with Mr. Grindel, a former member of Parliament from Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right party.

    Mr. Ozil referred to comments Mr. Grindel had made that dismissed multiculturalism in Germany as a lie.

    Ulrike Demmer, a spokeswoman for Ms. Merkel, praised Mr. Ozil and said that soccer played a big role in integrating immigrants into Germany. She said the chancellor respected Mr. Ozil's decision to quit, and that others should likewise respect it.

    But the deep divide between Mr. Ozil and much of Germany's football establishment was illustrated on Monday by Uli Hoeness, the president of the FC Bayern Munich team, who accused the player of "hiding his poor performance behind this picture" with Mr. Erdogan.

    France's multicultural national team did not prompt the same kind of debates about race and identity this year. It helped, of course, that the squad won the tournament, bringing home the World Cup 20 years after the country's first victory in 1998.

    But comments from abroad did elicit reactions — most notably an exchangebetween the comedian Trevor Noah, the host of "The Daily Show," and Gérard Araud, the French ambassador in Washington.

    Mr. Noah, a South Africa native who had proudly said after the victory that "Africa won the World Cup," was quickly rebuked by Mr. Araud, who wrote on Twitter and even in a formal letter that the "Daily Show" host had misunderstood France's cultural model.

    Turkish officials were quick to celebrate Mr. Ozil's decision to leave the German team. Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul wrote on Twitter that Mr. Ozil had "kicked his best goal against the virus of fascism, by leaving German national team."

    A former president of the German soccer association, Theo Zwanziger, called the resignation "a major setback for integration efforts beyond football in our country," and said that the episode risked sending a message that people of immigrant backgrounds were "second-class Germans."

    Mr. Ozil's statement about the infamous picture reached a big audience — he has 23 million Twitter followers, more than any of his former teammates, and heavy news coverage drew many other people to his broadside.

    Mr. Ozil, who is under contract with Arsenal F.C. in Britain until 2021, wrote his message in English, ensuring a wide readership outside Germany.

    Intentional or not, Mr. Ozil's words on social media echoed those of another German who was forced to deal with a dual identity.

    In 1922, Albert Einstein said in a speech in Paris: "If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew."

    Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting from Paris.



    7)  How Sweet It Is. And How Malignant.

    By Sven Beckart, July 23, 2018


    James Walvin


    The World Corrupted: From Slavery to Obesity

    By James Walvin

    325 pp. Pegasus Books. $27.95.

    Sweets have invaded the English language the way they have invaded our diet, with almost universally positive connotations. Sweet love, sweet people and sweet deals all suggest pleasant experiences, as do the sugary confections that grace our tables and fill our stores. James Walvin's new book, "Sugar: The World Corrupted: From Slavery to Obesity," will thoroughly disabuse you of such agreeable associations and may make you reluctant to reach for something sweet. Sugar, he shows, is a blood-soaked product that has brought havoc to millions and environmental devastation to large parts of the planet, premature death to the poorest populations in many parts of the world and huge health costs for societies from the United States to India. After reading this book the mere mention of sugar should make you think of slavery and cavities, imperialism and obesity — and remind you to check the label on the products you consume.

    Walvin, the author of several books on slavery, takes his readers on a roller-coaster ride through 500 years of history. Sugar, he shows, was rare for most of human history, with sweetness largely derived from fruits and honey. Sugar was believed to have healing properties and in much of the world it was dispensed by apothecaries; consumption of small quantities of sugar was the prerogative of elites. Then, in the 16th century, Europeans seized large territories in the Americas and quickly dedicated much of that acreage to sugar cane. By killing off local inhabitants and enslaving Africans to do the backbreaking labor of tending the sugar plant, European settlers managed to build a huge production complex. Hungry for power and profit, they turned the fertile soils of Brazil, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, St. Domingue and other places to the growing of sugar for European markets by slave labor, producing extraordinary wealth in cities like Bristol, Bordeaux and Boston, and unimaginable misery for millions of enslaved workers.

    Sugar, Walvin argues, was the cutting edge of global capitalism, with the plantations among the largest business enterprises, the most significant sources of profit and, in light of their highly regimented discipline, the most modern work sites. As a major share of the total trade of both 18th-century France and Britain, sugar lubricated the world economy and provided nutrition to the growing number of people who worked in cities and industry. Sugar catalyzed some of the first waves of globalization — notably in British North America, which entered the world economy as a supplier of goods to the Caribbean sugar complex and a processor of its harvest. Boston, as much as Barbados, is sugar's offspring.

    As sugar streamed from the Caribbean, consumption grew. The European elite consumed ever-larger quantities — their rotting teeth in full view of their contemporaries, although discreetly hidden by their portraitists. By the 19th century, the working class in Europe and North America was sweetening its tea and coffee, and putting jam on its toast; by century's end, it was breakfasting on sugary cereals. Fantastic quantities of sugar, in all its forms, kept stomachs full and workers productive. In 1770, rum — made from sugar cane — provided possibly one-quarter of the caloric needs of British North America. By the mid-20th century, the average annual consumption of sugar in Britain was an astonishing 110 pounds per person. "The fruits of slave labor," Walvin writes, "had thoroughly permeated the Western world." Even with slavery abolished in the British and French Caribbean, North Atlantic demand and investments allowed for another huge expansion of sugar slavery, this time in Cuba.

    When slavery came to its slow end in the 19th century, the geography of sugar shifted. Brutalized indentured workers from India and China took up sugar production in Guyana and Fiji, Mauritius and Trinidad. Beet sugar producers in Germany and the American Midwest gained market share. And by the late 20th century, American corn growers were feeding huge quantities of high fructose corn syrup into global markets, enabling an ever-increasing quantity of sweeteners to be poured into soft drinks and cereals. Along the way, sugar turned out to be so important that governments came to regulate its production and trade, trying to secure inexpensive sugar for domestic markets and to bolster an ever more powerful food industry addicted to cheap sweeteners. Subsidies and tariffs, as well as imperial exertions on behalf of sugar-consuming industries, Walvin makes clear, shaped the global sugar market in ways that were good for industry and all too often harmful to workers and consumers. The result has been a wave of obesity that has moved at awe-inspiring speed across the planet — fattening up people from Europe to the United States, from India to Mexico, creating a global health crisis that suggests sugar is as toxic as tobacco. If current trends continue, Walvin observes, the majority of the British and American population may be obese by 2050.

    "Sugar" is an entertaining, informative and utterly depressing global history of an important commodity. It takes its cues from histories of commodities like salt, tobacco and cotton and makes good use of the possibility inherent in this approach, especially the ability to link diverse developments in distant parts of the world over long time spans. It is less analytically sophisticated than some of its predecessors, and it enters a field — sugar studies — built on Sidney Mintz's magnum opus "Sweetness and Power,"arguably the book that started the recent boom in commodity studies, and one that Walvin often cites. What Walvin adds to this literature is accessible prose and a more expansive view that focuses on the contemporary moment and, especially, the public health implications of a world addicted to sugar.

    "Sugar" could have used another round of edits — it is maddeningly repetitive. Its numbers are often vague, and trajectories — of sugar consumption, for example — would be clearer if shown in a table or graph. Walvin's arguments are morally forceful, but their lack of precision and specificity makes them analytically nebulous. "Sugar" also reads almost like two books — one focused on slavery, the other on obesity. And despite its global scope, the book remains beholden to a Eurocentric perspective that has little to say about pre-European systems of sugar production in Asia, glosses over the enormous expansion of systems of indentured labor in sugar-growing Asia, and is weak on sugar consumption in places like India, Barbados or Senegal — all currently suffering from a diabetes epidemic. Perhaps it is true, as Walvin asserts, that sugar tainted "all involved wherever it took root," but how it tainted places and people, and who did the tainting, and how conditions changed over the past 500 years are often left unexplained, as are any resulting lessons we might learn.

    By alerting readers to the ways that modernity's very origins are entangled with a seemingly benign and delicious substance, "Sugar" raises fundamental questions about our world. It does not resolve all those questions, but it provides enough information for its readers to begin to see some answers and to see how troubling and disconcerting they are.

    Sven Beckert is the Laird Bell professor of American history at Harvard University and the author of "Empire of Cotton: A Global History."



    8)  Family of Australian Woman Shot by Police Sues Minneapolis

    By Monica Davey, July 23, 2018


    A 2017 memorial service for Justine Ruszczyk, who was known to friends in Minneapolis as Justine Damond. "Justine died in her pajamas trying to help someone else," her father said in a statement on Monday.

    The family of an unarmed woman who was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer last summer filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against the officer, his partner, top police officials and the city itself.

    The suit on behalf of the family of the woman, Justine Maia Ruszczyk, seeks $50 million in damages. In the minutes before she was shot, Ms. Ruszczyk, a dual citizen of Australia and the United States who was living in Minneapolis, called 911 twice to report sounds that she believed were of a woman being attacked somewhere in her affluent neighborhood.

    "She saw something, she said something — and she got killed for it," Robert Bennett, a lawyer for her family, said in an interview on Monday. The lawsuit also accuses Mohamed Noor, the police officer who shot Ms. Ruszczyk, and his partner, Matthew Harrity, of failing to turn on the body cameras they were wearing when they should have — in effect, conspiring to prevent the public from ever seeing what happened, the suit said.

    "We want the Minneapolis police culture to be reformed in such a way and to the extent necessary to stop such senseless acts from happening again and again," John Ruszczyk, the woman's father, who is a plaintiff in the suit, said in a written statement. "As the complaint shows, the police department's problems are systemic."

    Ms. Ruszczyk has also been called Justine Damond in many news reports, and some people knew her as Ms. Damond in Minneapolis, where she was preparing for her wedding to her fiancé, Don Damond. But Ruszczyk was her legal surname at the time of the shooting, her family's lawyers say, and she is referred to by that name in official records of her death.

    "Justine died in her pajamas trying to help someone else," her father said. "We cannot let her death be in vain."

    The shooting on July 15, 2017, perplexed people in Minneapolis and in Australia, where Ms. Ruszczyk's father and many friends and relatives live. The circumstances were highly unusual: Ms. Ruszczyk, who was 40 and a yoga and meditation instructor known in her neighborhood for rescuing a flock of ducklings from a street drain, had heard sounds of someone in distress late that evening. They seemed to be coming from the alley behind her house, she told her fiancé in a phone call that night. She called 911.

    When Officers Noor and Harrity arrived a few minutes later, they drove through the alley with their emergency lights off. Officer Harrity later reported being startled by a noise and a figure who appeared outside the police car, according to prosecutors. Officer Noor, still in the car, fired a shot through the open driver's side window, striking Ms. Ruszczyk.

    The shooting set off new examinations of the Minneapolis Police Department, how it trains its officers and how its officers use deadly force. Not long after Ms. Ruszczyk's death, city officials removed the Minneapolis police chief, Janee Harteau, who is named in the suit. Police officers were told that they needed to turn on their body cameras in more situations. And Officer Noor was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

    The case has yet to be heard. A lawyer for Officer Noor, who was removed from the department, has previously said that the officer's behavior was consistent with the department's policy and that he should not have been charged.

    Lawyers for the officers named in the lawsuit could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

    Susan Segal, the city attorney for Minneapolis, issued a statement on behalf of the city responding to the suit. "The loss of a life, the loss of Justine Ruszczyk, is a tragedy," she said. "We are reviewing the civil lawsuit and will be responding to it. Meanwhile, serious criminal charges are currently pending against Mohamed Noor, and it's critically important that the criminal case be allowed to proceed through trial without interference."



    9) Women Dressed as 'Handmaids' to Confront 'Vicious Theocrat' Mike Pence in Philadelphia Over His Anti-Choice Agenda

    By Julia Conley. July 23, 2018


    Since President Donald Trump assumed office last year, many women have taken to dressing as handmaids from the TV series and book "The Handmaid's Tale" to protest Trump's anti-choice agenda.

    Resisting the Trump-Pence administration's anti-choice and anti-woman agenda, dozens of woman dressed as handmaids from the novel and TV series "The Handmaid's Tale" are planning to greet Vice President Mike Pence when he arrives in Philadelphia on Monday for a GOP fundraiser.

    The white bonnets and red dresses and capes worn by the protesters will mimic those of handmaids in Hulu's dramatic series and Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel, in which women are forced to give birth to the children of powerful men.

    "We just felt that the visual of the 'Handmaid's Tale' costumes, a society in which women in Gilead are stripped of their most basic rights and their humanity, was appropriate," organizer Samantha Goldman told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    The protest comes two weeks after President Donald Trump named Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has praised Justice William Rehnquist's dissent in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which affirmed women's constitutional right to abortion care, and last year ruled against a young immigrant who pleaded with him and two other judges on an appeals panel to allow her to have an abortion.

    During his 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump pledged that the end of Roe v. Wade "will happen" during his presidency.

    Pence, denounced as a "vicious theocrat" by Refuse Fascism, has also been known as one of the most vehemently anti-choice politicians in Washington. As a congressman, he proposed multiple measures aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood and blocking patient care there. While serving as Indiana's governor, Pence signed eight anti-choice bills, including one that barred women from obtaining abortions in the case of fetal abnormalities.

    "Pence is one of the most dangerous reactionary figures in modern history," wrote the group Refuse Fascism on its event website. "He is a key figure in ushering in a theocratic society right out of 'The Handmaid's Tale.' A Christian Fascist, he has made it his life mission to terrorize women and the LGBTQ community and people of color. It is only fitting that Pence be greeted with 100 women dressed as handmaids. A visual representation of Pence's end game of women totally stripped of their rights and humanity."



    10) More Than 450 Migrant Parents May Have Been Deported Without Their Children

    By Miriam Jordan and Caitlin Dickerson, July 24, 2018


    Elsa Ortiz was deported to Guatemala from the United States in June after being separated from her 8-year-old son.

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration told a federal court on Tuesday that more than 450 migrant parents whose children were separated from them are no longer in the United States, raising questions about whether the parents fully understood that they were being deported without their children.

    The parents — nearly one-fifth of the 2,551 migrants whose children were taken from them after crossing the southwest border — were either swiftly deported or somehow left the country without their children, government lawyers said.

    The exact number, 463, is still "under review," the lawyers added, and could change. However, the disclosure was the first time the government has acknowledged that hundreds of migrant families face formidable barriers of bureaucracy and distance that were unforeseen in the early stages of the government's "zero-tolerance" policy on border enforcement.

    The government's previous estimate of the number of such cases was just 12, though that applied only to parents of the youngest children.

    "We are extremely worried that a large percentage of parents may already have been removed without their children," said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging the government's handling of migrant children in a lawsuit. He said further clarification was needed to understand just what has happened.

    Facing a court-ordered deadline of Thursday, federal agencies must reunite more than 1,500 migrant parents with their children within about 48 hours. Those parents are just a portion of the total number who were separated: those who have been deemed eligible after a background check and a confirmation of where they are in the United States or abroad.

    Returning children even to eligible parents has been messy and has revealed challenges facing the government as it complies with the judicial order. For example, reunifications at the Port Isabel detention center in South Texas screeched to a halt on Sunday after it was locked down for five hours, according to Carlos Garcia, an immigration lawyer who was prevented from entering the building to meet with his clients. The lockdown resulted from an accidental miscounting of detainees there, Mr. Garcia said.

    It was only the latest hiccup at Port Isabel, where parents, children and their advocates have had to wait for hours, or even days, for reunification. "It's a mess," a person familiar with the reunification process said on Tuesday, adding that "the wait times have been enormous."

    The person said that the children's escorts have had to request hotel rooms, which have been approved by the Health and Human Services Department, the agency that oversees care of the separated children.

    Among the migrants inside Port Isabel during Sunday's lockdown was Irma, a 35-year-old woman from Honduras separated for more than two months from her two teenage sons, Fernando and Jonatan.

    Irma, who asked that only her first name be used, hadn't thought a reunion would happen. A federal official had told her she would never see the boys again.

    "It was horrible, horrible," Irma said through tears on Tuesday, inside the airport in McAllen, Tex. The family was about to board a flight to Baltimore.

    The hurdles that remain in the reunification process were discussed at a status hearing on Tuesday, where little more was explained about the number of parents who appear to have left or have been sent out of the country without their children.

    The judge who ordered the reunifications, Dana M. Sabraw of Federal District Court in San Diego, called the situation the "unfortunate" result of a policy that was introduced "without forethought to reunification or keeping track of people."

    Some immigrant advocates said many of the migrant parents had agreed to be deported quickly, believing that doing so would speed up reunification — and perhaps not understanding that they would be leaving their children behind.

    "Our attorney volunteers working with detained separated parents are seeing lots of people who signed forms that they didn't understand," said Taylor Levy, a legal coordinator at Annunciation House in El Paso, which assists migrants. "They thought the only way they would see their child again is by agreeing to deportation."

    "It is particularly problematic for indigenous Guatemalans who are not fluent in Spanish and were not given explanations in their native languages," Ms. Levy added.

    Border authorities are pressuring people to accept speedy deportation, immigration lawyers and advocates say.

    "We are aware of instances in which parents have felt coerced and didn't fully understand the consequences of signing or did not feel they had a choice in the matter," said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, which represents migrants.

    In an attempt to stanch the flow of undocumented immigrants, the Trump administration in May launched a policy under which every adult caught entering the country illegally was subject to criminal prosecution. As part of the crackdown, some 3,000 children were removed from their parents.

    Following an international outcry, President Trump signed an executive order on June 20 halting the separations. Judge Sabraw then issued an order that all the families be reunified within about 30 days — a deadline that expires on Thursday.

    The authorities have been transporting parents and children to staging areas in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. After reunification, a variety of nonprofit organizations help the families reach various destinations around the country to await further hearings in immigration court. Hundreds of volunteers are involved in the effort, which includes offering temporary accommodation, airfare and other assistance.

    But the swift pace of reunifications has also prompted concerns that the legal cases, health or safety of the parents and children could suffer. The Legal Aid Society of New York filed habeas petitions on Tuesday preventing nine separated children from being moved out of New York until they and their lawyers can contact their parents to determine what's best for the children. The petitions were transferred to San Diego and combined with the lawsuit there over family separation.

    The court filings explained the cases of four siblings who want to be reunited with their mother, but not if it would lead to them all being deported to Honduras, where they fear for their lives. The filings also tells of a 9-year-old girl from El Salvador who does not want to return to a detention center where she was traumatized after being made to eat spoiled food, and of the mother of a 9-year-old boy from Honduras, who fears that if he joins her in detention, he won't get his medication for hyperactivity.

    The filings, which claim the rights of the children are being denied, were made because of a lawsuit Legal Aid filed last week in Federal District Court in Manhattan that ordered immigration authorities to give 48 hours' notice to lawyers before moving clients. That case, too, was moved to federal court in San Diego.

    Judge Sabraw last week temporarily suspended the deportation of reunited families, but immigration lawyers have reported that many of their clients have been funneled to family detention facilities rather than released, which indicates that they could be deported once the judge's stay is lifted.

    A spokesman for the Justice Department said the government does not comment on ongoing litigation.

    Immigration officials have said that all the parents who were deported without their children made an informed decision to do so, and had agreed in writing to leave their offspring in the United States. The administration said that bilingual workers and interpreters are on hand to help.

    Some Central American migrants are illiterate. And many migrants from the highlands of Guatemala, where several dialects are spoken, do not speak Spanish.

    The government said in its filing that it has reunited 879 parents with their children. Another 538 parents have been cleared for reunions and are still awaiting transportation.

    In accordance with the court order, the administration first began by reunifying 102 parents whose children are 5 or younger. It is currently reunifying the larger group, which includes minors age 5 to 17.

    In cases where parents choose to leave the country without their child, they appoint a sponsor — typically a relative — to care for the child. The sponsors undergo extensive background checks before they can take custody. In the meantime, the minors remain in shelters.

    Liz Robbins contributed reporting from New York, Manny Fernandez from Falfurrias, Tex., and Mitchell Ferman from McAllen, Tex.



    11)  V.A. Shuns Medical Marijuana, Leaving Vets to Improvise

    By Dave Phillipps, July 25, 2018


    Veterans gathered earlier this month outside the old veterans' hall in Santa Cruz, Calif. A local nonprofit group distributes medical marijuana to veterans who cannot get it through the V.A. health system.

    SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Some of the local growers along the coast here see it as an act of medical compassion: Donating part of their crop of high-potency medical marijuana to ailing veterans, who line up by the dozens each month in the echoing auditorium of the city's old veterans' hall to get a ticket they can exchange for a free bag.

    One Vietnam veteran in the line said he was using marijuana-infused oil to treat pancreatic cancer. Another said that smoking cannabis eased the pain from a recent hip replacement better than prescription pills did. Several said that a few puffs temper the anxiety and nightmares of post-traumatic stress disorder.

    "I never touched the stuff in Vietnam," said William Horne, 76, a retired firefighter. "It was only a few years ago I realized how useful it could be."

    The monthly giveaway bags often contain marijuana lotions, pills, candies and hemp oils, as well as potent strains of smokable flower with names like Combat Cookies and Kosher Kush. But the veterans do not get any medical guidance on which product might help with which ailment, how much to use, or how marijuana might interact with other medications.

    Ordinarily, their first stop for advice like that would be the Department of Veterans Affairs health system, with its thousands of doctors and hundreds of hospitals and clinics across the country dedicated to caring for veterans.

    But the department has largely said no to medical marijuana, citing federal law. It won't recommend cannabis products for patients, and for the most part it has declined even to study their potential benefits. That puts the department out of step with most of the country, where at least 30 states now have laws that allow the use of medical marijuana in some form.

    A department survey suggests that nearly a million veterans may be using medical marijuana anyway. But doctors in the veterans' health system say the department's lack of research has left them without much good advice to give veterans.

    "We have a disconnect in care," said Marcel Bonn-Miller, a psychologist who worked for years at the veterans' hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., and now teaches at the University of Pennsylvania medical school. "The V.A. has funded lots of marijuana studies, but not of therapeutic potential. All the work has been related to problems of use."

    Mr. Bonn-Miller said that in 2016, he wanted to study the health outcomes of the veterans who were getting cannabis from the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance, but he did not seek funding from Veterans Affairs because of the department's lack of interest in therapeutic use.

    Congress is now considering changing that. A bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives this spring would order the department to study the safety and efficacy of marijuana for treating chronic pain and PTSD. If the bill passes, the department could not only develop expertise about a drug that many veterans have turned to on their own — it may also start down the road toward eventually allowing its doctors and clinics to prescribe cannabis.

    "I talk to so many vets who claim they get benefits, but we need research," said Representative Tim Walz, Democrat of Minnesota, who introduced the bill along with Phil Roe, Republican of Tennessee, who is a physician.

    "You may be a big advocate of medical marijuana, you may feel it has no value," Mr. Walz said. "Either way, you should want the evidence to prove it, and there is no better system to do that research than the V.A."

    A spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs said Congress would need to do more than pass the current House bill. The spokesman, Curt Cashour, said that because cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, researchers would need to secure approval from five separate agencies to conduct studies.

    "The opportunities for V.A. to conduct marijuana research are limited because of the restrictions imposed by federal law," Mr. Cashour said. "If Congress wants to facilitate more federal research into Schedule 1 controlled substances such as marijuana, it can always choose to eliminate these restrictions."

    The department does have two small studies in their early stages. One, in San Diego, looks at whether cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, can help patients during PTSD therapy; it is scheduled to continue through 2023. The other, planned for South Carolina, would examine the palliative effects of cannabis in hospice patients.

    "In a system as big as ours, that's not much, certainly not enough," said Dr. David J. Shulkin, who was President Trump's first secretary of veterans affairs before being fired in March.

    During his tenure as secretary, Dr. Shulkin eased some rules, allowing the department's doctors to start talking to veterans about medical marijuana. But many veterans faulted him for not going further.

    Dr. Shulkin said that the tangle of red tape surrounding Schedule 1 drug studies should no longer be an excuse not to conduct them. "We have an opioid crisis, a mental health crisis, and we have limited options with how to address them, so we should be looking at everything possible," he said.

    The push for more research and for access to medical marijuana in the veterans' health system is not coming just from liberal areas of California. The generally conservative American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars both favor expanded research. And some of the most vocal advocates are products of the nation's strict military academies.

    "Cannabis is the safe, responsible choice," said Nick Etten, an Annapolis graduate and former Navy SEAL who runs an advocacy group called the Veterans Cannabis Project. "It helps with the Big Three we struggle with after combat — pain, sleep and anxiety — and it is safer than many medications."

    Veterans are not waiting for a green light from Washington. A department survey in 2017 found that nearly 9 percent of veterans reported using cannabis in the last year, and almost half of those were using it for medical purposes.

    The growing use of medical marijuana among veterans is not without risks, though. Cannabis can interact with some prescription medications. Frequent use can lead to dependency and abuse. New forms of concentrated cannabis that are inhaled as vapor can compound both of those problems. And cannabis's therapeutic value in treating chronic pain, PTSD and other ailments is far from clear.

    Veterans who look for information about medical marijuana online find a proliferation of marketing claims and testimonials, many of them dubious. Several companies sell non-psychoactive hemp oil for as much as $150 an ounce that they say is rich in cannabidiol, also known as CBD; the Food and Drug Administration has gone after marketers whose claims for cannabidiol as a treatment for PTSD violate its rules.

    A 2017 report by the National Institutes of Health found evidence of a number of therapeutic benefits of cannabis and its various components but said there had been little research relating specifically to post-traumatic stress.

    "CBD may be of huge benefit, THC may be of huge benefit, but there are also risks of abuse and bad outcomes," said Mr. Bonn-Miller, who is conducting several cannabis studies now without financial backing from the department. "We'd like to know more, so we can figure out what works and what doesn't."

    The Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance, the growers who conduct the monthly giveaway, said they felt compelled to step in where Veterans Affairs had not. They are veterans themselves who found that marijuana helped them after combat.

    "I was part of a lot of bloody scenarios over there," said Aaron Newsom, who deployed to Afghanistan as a Marine. "When I came home, I couldn't turn things off. I was losing friends, losing jobs. Nothing really mattered after being confronted with life and death."

    He and Jason Sweatt, an Army veteran, now grow thousands of marijuana plants in a 17,000-square-foot warehouse south of Santa Cruz and sell most of their crop in the state's dispensaries.

    One of the alliance's workers, Jake Scallan, was sent to Iraq with Air Force security forces and came back with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. He said Veterans Affairs doctors put him on five different drugs for anxiety, depression, pain and sleeplessness.

    "Honestly, there was no healing," said Mr. Scallan, 30. "I was in such a fog I couldn't deal with anything."

    After a suicide attempt and hospital stay in 2013, Mr. Scallan was persuaded by a friend to try marijuana for his anxiety and depression. "It was like I could suddenly breathe again," he said.

    He now uses a highly potent concentrate that he said has helped him put his life back together, hold down a job and get married, which he did in July. "I was really lost, and now I can function," he said.



    12)  Pizza Delivery Man Detained by ICE Is Freed by Judge

    By Liz Robbins, July 24, 2018


    Pablo Villavicencio Calderon, an undocumented pizza delivery man, spoke to reporters after his release from the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, N.J., on Tuesday

    A federal district court judge on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of Pablo Villavicencio Calderon, an undocumented pizza delivery man, from immigration detention in New Jersey, where he had been locked up since June 1.

    The order came after a morning hearing in which Judge Paul A. Crotty, an appointee of President George W. Bush and the former corporation counsel for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, pointedly questioned the government about why it had detained Mr. Villavicencio and planned to deport him. "Is there any concept of justice here?" Judge Crotty asked the government's lawyer.

    Later in the day, the judge said that Mr. Villavicencio, 35, who is married to a United States citizen and in February began a petition for a green card, should be released. The judge granted a stay of deportation while Mr. Villavicencio pursues permanent residency.

    "Removal is no longer reasonably feasible," Judge Crotty wrote in an order to be followed by a formal opinion.

    "It's absolutely sensational, he's back with his family and the judge has allowed him to go through the process," said Gregory Copeland, one of Mr. Villavicencio's lawyers from the Legal Aid Society of New York.

    Judge Crotty set the tone for his decision during the hearing in Manhattan when he questioned why Mr. Villavicencio had been held for 53 days by the immigration agency since his arrest while dropping off food at a Brooklyn army base. "Is he a threat to the country? A flight risk? Don't they have to justify it?" he asked the government lawyer.

    The lawyer, Joseph Cordaro, stammered, but said that the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, had made the decision.

    Mr. Villavicencio was arrested when delivering food from a Queens brick-oven pizzeria to a Fort Hamilton Army base. He presented a municipal identification card from the city, known as IDNYC, which Mr. Villavicencio has said he used previously at the base. This time it was not accepted.

    Mr. Villavicencio, who is married to an American citizen, with their two daughters. A judge ruled that he should be released on Tuesday.

    A military police officer on duty said Mr. Villavicencio needed a driver's license, which he did not have; the officer then ran a background check — which Mr. Villavicencio has said he did not consent to — which revealed an open order of deportation from 2010.

    Despite the order, Mr. Villavicencio, who is originally from Ecuador, had not left the country, and in 2013, he married Sandra Chica, a naturalized citizen. Through her sponsorship, Mr. Villavicencio applied for permanent residency. But it was not until Tuesday morning that his lawyers received a date for an interview: Aug. 21.

    Earlier this month, a judge had temporarily blocked Mr. Villavicencio's deportation.

    Throughout the hearing, Ms. Chica sat in the front row of the gallery while the couple's two daughters, ages 3 and 4, played with rainbow beanie babies and princess figurines. Mr. Villavicencio was not in the Manhattan courtroom; he was detained at Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, N.J.

    For that reason, the government was arguing for a change of venue, to New Jersey. Mr. Villavicencio's lawyers, from Debevoise & Plimpton and Legal Aid, wanted to keep the case in New York, since it was originally filed in the Southern District in Manhattan and keeping it in that jurisdiction would offer the swiftest resolution.

    During the hearing Judge Crotty made a point that still resonated when he made his decision six hours later. "The powerful are doing what they want," he said, "and the poor are suffering what they must."



    13) Swedish student's plane protest stops man's deportation 'to hell'

    By David Crouch, July 15, 2018


    Elin Ersson

    A lone student activist on board a plane at Gothenburg airport has prevented the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker from Sweden by refusing to sit down until the man was removed from the flight.

    Her successful protest, footage of which spread rapidly across the internet, shines a spotlight on domestic opposition to Sweden's tough asylum regime, at a time when immigration and asylum are topping the agenda of a general election campaign in which the far right is polling strongly.

    "I hope that people start questioning how their country treats refugees," Elin Ersson, 21, told the Guardian in an interview. "We need to start seeing the people whose lives our immigration [policies] are destroying."

    The social work student at Gothenburg University bought a ticket for the flight from Gothenburg to Turkey on Monday morning, after she and other asylum activists found out that a young Afghan was due to be deported on it. In fact he was not on the plane but activists discovered another Afghan man in his 50s was onboard for deportation.

    As she entered the plane, Ersson started to livestream her protest in English. The video received more than 4m hits on Tuesday. 

    Facing both sympathy and hostility from passengers, the footage shows Ersson struggling to keep her composure. "I don't want a man's life to be taken away just because you don't want to miss your flight," she says. "I am not going to sit down until the person is off the plane."

    Repeatedly told by a steward to stop filming, Ersson says: "I am doing what I can to save a person's life. As long as a person is standing up the pilot cannot take off. All I want to do is stop the deportation and then I will comply with the rules here. This is all perfectly legal and I have not committed a crime."

    When an angry passenger, who appears to be English, tries to seize her phone, she tells him: "What is more important, a life, or your time? … I want him to get off the plane because he is not safe in Afghanistan. I am trying to change my country's rules, I don't like them. It is not right to send people to hell."

    After a tense standoff, during which the airport authorities declined to use force to eject Ersson, passengers broke into applause when the asylum seeker was taken off the plane.

    Ersson told the Guardian she had been volunteering with refugee groups for about a year.

    "People [in Afghanistan] are not sure of any safety," she said. "They don't know if they're going to live another day. As I've been working and meeting people from Afghanistan and heard their stories, I've been more and more in the belief that no one should be deported to Afghanistan because it's not a safe place. The way that we are treating refugees right now, I think that we can do better, especially in a rich country like Sweden."

    As the country heads towards a general election in September, Sweden's centre-left coalition government is keen to keep up expulsions of asylum seekers whose applications have been turned down. "If you get rejected, you have to go home – otherwise we will not have a proper migration system," the prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said last year after an Uzbek asylum seeker whose claim had been rejected drove a truck into shoppers in Stockholm, killing five people.

    After Taliban violence increased in January, the country briefly halted deportations to Afghanistan. But the Swedish migration board stands by its assessment that the country is a safe destination for asylum seekers whose claims have been turned down.

    In its most recent assessment, the migration board said Taliban attacks had been aimed mainly at the military or foreigners, and violence against Afghan civilians was rare. As for a bomb in an ambulance in January that killed at least 95 and injured many more in Kabul, the board said it was "unclear whether the purpose was really to attack civilians".

    Tens of thousands of deportation cases are expected to be handed over to the police as the country continues to process a backlog of asylum applications, after 163,000 people claimed asylum in Sweden in 2015. Last year, the border police deported 12,500 people, while the rate of expulsions so far this year is slightly higher

    Normally deportations go peacefully, according to a spokesperson for the police in Sweden's west region. But occasionally the process is disrupted by demonstrators such as Ersson or by asylum seekers themselves. 

    "You do it once or twice, and if it doesn't work we rent a private plane to send them back to Afghanistan, or wherever," the spokesperson said.

    Ersson's protest was a civil and not a criminal case, he said. Should the airline and passengers decide to prosecute, Ersson could face a substantial fine. 

    When the refugee crisis began to escalate 2015, Sweden made it much harder for refugees to get into the country and asylum applications fell sharply. In 2016 almost 29,000 people claimed asylum, followed by just under 26,000 last year. So far this year, asylum applications are running at about 1,500 a month

    The fates of the young man due to be deported on Monday, and the man who was on the plane, are unknown. A spokesperson for the Swedish Prison and Probation Service confirmed that the young man would be deported again, once transport was found. The Swedish border police in Kalmar, responsible for the attempted deportation, did not return calls from the Guardian.

    Ersson believes the young man was taken to Stockholm and put on a flight there already. 

    "This is how deportations in Sweden work. The people involved know nothing and they are not allowed to reach out to their lawyers or family," she said. "My ultimate goal is to end deportations to Afghanistan."



    14)  With Deadline Hours Away, Authorities Scramble to Reunite Migrant Families

    By Caitlin Dickerson, Annie Correal and Michael Ferman, July 26, 2018


    Denis Espinoza and his daughter Carmen, at a bus station in Phoenix, were reunited early this month after being separated for nearly three weeks.

    The federal government was rushing on Thursday to reunite the last 1,634 migrant families separated at the Southwest border who have been deemed "eligible" for reunification, in the final hours of a court-ordered scramble to reverse a contentious immigration policy that drew international condemnation.

    While the government appeared to be on track to meet Thursday's deadline, its work to address the effects of family separation is far from over. The parents who were deemed eligible for reunification represent only about a third of all those who were separated from their children after crossing the border, a practice that began last summer and escalated in May.

    At least 917 other parents were not cleared to recover their children this week because they failed criminal background or parental verification checks. About 460 others appeared to have been deported without their children, and the government has yet to find them.

    Their futures, along with those of about 37 children whose parents have not yet been identified, remain uncertain.

    "The only deadline they are meeting is the one they have set for themselves," said Lee Gelernt, lead counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the federal lawsuit challenging the family separations. "The government should not be getting applause for cleaning up their own mess, but moreover, they're still not meeting the deadline for all the families."

    Still, it appeared that the judge handing the case, Dana M. Sabrow of the Federal District Court in San Diego, was inclined to allow the government some leeway in complying with his order to rapidly bring separated families back together.

    "The parties are really working through the issues in a very measured and successful way given the enormity of the undertaking," Judge Sabrow said at a status hearing earlier this month.

    The reunifications have unfolded in chaotic scenes across the country. Many have been concentrated in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, where families have been funneled into federal offices that were designated as "staging facilities," overwhelming local resources to the extent that some parents have had to wait days after arriving to rejoin their children.

    At one such facility in South Texas, the Port Isabel Detention Center, the government has been labeling some parents as "released" while they are still in custody, according to Bethany Carson, who works for Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit advocacy group in Austin.

    Ms. Carson said that hundreds of parents were sent to Port Isabel this week after receiving word in the middle of the night from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that their children were there. When they arrived, the parents quickly changed into street clothes and were broken into groups of about 70 to wait in rooms to rejoin their children.

    Some waited up to a week, Ms. Carson said, and were not allowed access to showers, phones or religious services, while efforts stalled to return their children.

    "They're completely cut off from the outside world," she said. "And officials are saying they're free."

    Last-minute logistical planning to meet the deadline has led to some mistakes. Some children have been sent to the wrong facilities, according to a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the reunification efforts.

    On Tuesday, two siblings, 9 and 14, were abruptly flown from New York to be reunited with their mother in the Southwest — but the mother may have already been deported, according to the children's lawyer, Priya Konings. On Wednesday, a case worker was in "panic mode" trying to resolve the situation.

    The hours and days after reunification have come with their own challenges, which have largely been absorbed by aid groups tapped by the government to provide emergency shelter and food, as well as transport. While it is not typical for the government to support migrants once they are released from federal custody, the separation policy left many families far from the border, where a long-established network of shelters and volunteer organizations have traditionally provided support.

    Danielle Bernard, a spokeswoman for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of two organizations working with the government on family reunifications, said her group, too, was feeling the time crunch of the court order.

    Ms. Bernard said that two of the organization's offices in Arizona and New Mexico were warned by ICE officials on Wednesday to prepare to receive about 300 families — or at least 600 people in all.

    "This has really been something completely new to all of us," Ms. Bernard said. "Usually we have weeks or months to develop programs to make sure people have the support they need. In this situation we've been given like 24 hours' notice."

    After their immediate needs are met, many families have relied on donated travel miles, cellphones and money, pooled by advocates, to regain some stability. Well-established groups with powerful donor networks, such as the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, known as RAICES, and Fwd.us, an advocacy group backed by tech entrepreneurs Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, have raised tens of millions of dollars to pay for immigration court bonds and plane tickets.

    Amateur fund-raisers have also been crucial in the reunification effort, such as one called Immigrants and Families Together that was started by a former social worker and two theater professionals in New York. The group has helped about a dozen reunified parents and raised more than $400,000.

    Julie Schwietert Collazo, the group's founder, echoed the frustration expressed by many such advocates over why the responsibility has fallen to them, rather than the government, to complete the reunifications. "You could at least make the gesture of not dropping them off at a Greyhound station," she said, "and saying 'Bye, it's been real.'"

    Families that remained in custody after they were reunited have poured into three large family detention facilities, where the government can hold them for 20 days. Those are likely families for whom the government has already issued deportation orders — 900 of them, according to the latest court filings — which could be quickly executed if Judge Sabraw lifts a temporary stay on such deportations. A court hearing was scheduled for Thursday.

    Immigrant lawyers working at the family detention facilities were bracing to receive dozens more families on Thursday, and expected to prepare some of them for the initial interviews needed to pursue a case for asylum, which may represent their only hope of remaining in the United States.

    The government quietly began separating families along the Southwest border last summer, and ramped the practice up significantly in May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would have "zero tolerance" for illegal border crossers. The practice was intended in part to deter migrant families from traveling to the United States, though the administration insisted for months that it did not have a family separation policy, and blamed Democrats and Congress for tying their hands.

    Facing bitter, bipartisan condemnation of the policy, President Trump ended it with an executive order on June 26.

    By that time, nearly 3,000 children had been taken from their parents. Their separations were challenged in a lawsuit by the A.C.L.U., after which Judge Sabraw ordered that the children under 5 years of age be reunited with their parents by July 10, and those ages 5 to 17 by July 26.

    Lawyers on both sides agree that much work remains, especially when it comes to locating about 460 parents who appear to have been deported without their children. Government lawyers have said the parents will not be allowed back into the country to retrieve their children, but they must be found and vetted before the children can be returned to their native countries.

    The A.C.L.U. filed a motion on Wednesday to protect parents whom the government has claimed have waived their rights to immediately recover their children, citing testimony from some who said they did not know what they had agreed to because documents were not translated into their native languages, or who felt they had been forced to sign documents under duress. Most of the cases involve parents who are still in custody.

    A Department of Homeland Security official disputed the accounts, saying that the agency's procedures call for the consent form to be read to parents in a language they understand, with provisions to certify that this occurred.

    Plaintiffs' lawyers may also seek government support to address the psychological toll of family separation. Some children have not recognized their parents after being returned. Others continue to ask if the government is going to take them away again, said Mr. Gelernt of the A.C.L.U. "That feeling of insecurity in the children is likely to last a lifetime," he said.

    Liz Robbins contributed reporting.



    15) Judge Orders New Trial in Al Qaeda Terror Case

    By Benjamin Weiser, July 25, 2018


    Uzair Paracha

    A federal judge in Manhattan has taken the unusual step of granting a new trial to a Pakistani man convicted more than a decade ago of providing support to Al Qaeda, citing years-old statements by terrorism detainees at the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, wartime prison who called his guilt into question.

    The decision was based on new evidence gleaned from the declassified statements of three detainees that were made more than a year after the man's trial and might have prevented him from being convicted, the judge said. The detainees included Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the professed architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    The Pakistani man, Uzair Paracha, who was 23 and living in Brooklyn when he was charged in 2003. Prosecutors said he had agreed to help an operative for Al Qaeda fraudulently obtain immigration documents to re-enter the United States and carry out a terrorist attack.

    Mr. Paracha was one of dozens of suspects charged, in the years after Sept. 11, with providing money, expertise or other "material support" to Al Qaeda. Despite his claim that he did not realize he was helping a Qaeda terrorist, Mr. Paracha was tried, convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

    In his July 3 opinion granting a new trial, the judge, Sidney H. Stein of Federal District Court, said allowing Mr. Paracha's conviction to stand would be "a manifest injustice."

    "The critical question in this case," he wrote, "is now and has always been whether Paracha acted with knowledge that he was helping Al Qaeda."

    The new statements, the judge said, "would yield a very different trial." There was a "significant chance," he added, that they "would have induced a reasonable doubt in the minds of enough jurors to prevent a conviction."

    It is not common for a conviction to be thrown out on grounds of newly discovered evidence, but Judge Stein's decision was also noteworthy, legal experts said, because the new evidence emanated from the military system, which has long been held separate from the civilian courts.

    Bobby Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law and co-founder of Lawfare, a national security blog, said, "This surprising ruling complicates our longstanding policy of using both criminal prosecution and military detention as options for Al Qaeda members."

    "It shows the two systems can't be hermetically sealed off from each other," Professor Chesney said, "particularly where a military detainee has relevant information about a criminal defendant."

    Karen J. Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law, who has written about terrorism and the legal system, said, "It's fascinating that Guantánamo has yielded information that could be exculpatory for a retrial" in civilian court.

    Mr. Paracha's lawyer, Joshua L. Dratel (who has coedited two books with Ms. Greenberg), said he was "thrilled with the opinion because it recognizes the important impact that these potential witnesses would have had on the case."

    The United States attorney's office in Manhattan declined to comment. On Tuesday, Judge Stein granted the office's request for more time to decide whether to appeal — a decision, the office wrote to the judge, that "implicates more difficult legal and practical issues than the usual case."

    The opinion offered no explanation as to why resolving Mr. Paracha's motion took so long. Mr. Dratel said he did not push the court to move more quickly because "the prospect of continuing revelations was very real, and therefore I didn't necessarily think it was ripe for a decision." In February, Mr. Paracha complained to a federal appeals court that his motion had been pending for more than nine years without a ruling; a district court spokesman said the court does not comment on pending matters.

    At Mr. Paracha's 2005 trial, the opinion said, the government presented evidence that he and his father, Saifullah Paracha, who was himself later sent to Guantánamo, met in Pakistan with two Qaeda members — Majid Khan and Ammar al-Baluchi. Prosecutors said that Uzair Paracha agreed to help Mr. Khan fraudulently obtain immigration documents in order to return to the United States, where he had once lived, to carry out a plot to bomb gas stations.

    Mr. Khan and Mr. al-Baluchi were the other detainees whose statements were cited in the judge's ruling.

    Mr. Paracha, who did certain tasks for Mr. Khan, including checking on his immigration paperwork, offered the authorities varying and, at times, incriminating statements about what he knew of Mr. Khan's and Mr. al-Baluchi's ties to Al Qaeda, the opinion said.

    At his trial, Mr. Paracha testified that key portions of his incriminating statements were false, "made out of a combination of fear, intimidation and exhaustion," the judge wrote.

    Mr. Paracha also testified that he had never knowingly aided a terrorist group, saying, "If I had known these people were Al Qaeda, I would not have helped them out," the judge noted.

    In 2008, after Mr. Paracha's conviction was affirmed on appeal, he filed a new trial motion, citing the detainee statements, which had been made before military tribunals or in interviews with federal agents, the judge said.

    In his opinion, Judge Stein said that key portions of the statements "directly contradict the government's case that defendant knowingly aided Al Qaeda."

    Mr. Khan, for example, had said explicitly that Mr. Paracha was "innocent," and Mr. Khan said he had never disclosed his Qaeda ties to Mr. Paracha. Judge Stein also cited statements by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who had "openly confessed his responsibility for dozens of heinous crimes and terrorist plots."

    "Crucially, K.S.M. nowhere mentions defendant or his father," Judge Stein said.

    "From this new evidence," the judge added, Mr. Paracha could "credibly ask the jury" to infer his innocence and "lack of involvement in the operations discussed."



    16)  Worried About the I.R.S. Scam? Here's How to Handle Phone Fraud

    By Christine Hauser, July 26, 2018


    Officials have warned American consumers about unsolicited phone calls that could be scams. A recent fraudulent effort involved callers claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service.

    Lee Meyer, a retired New York City schoolteacher, recently began getting strange telephone calls on weekday afternoons. A woman claiming to be a Treasury Department official left a message and a phone number, Mr. Meyer said, telling him he needed to settle a "tax-fraud charge" or else he would be hauled in front of a "magistrate judge."

    His reaction? "I laughed," he said. "I wasn't born yesterday."

    Mr. Meyer, 83, did not return the calls, having learned long ago what law enforcement and consumer protection officials say many Americans need to remember: The Internal Revenue Service does not call people and threaten legal action or harass them over debts.

    The Justice Department recently highlighted that message when it announced it had broken up a vast I.R.S. impersonation operation in which conspirators in the United States coordinated with call centers in India from 2012 to 2016, causing "hundreds of millions of dollars" in losses to more than 15,000 victims.

    Twenty-four people have been convicted and sentenced in the case, and more indictments have been issued in India. The Justice Department said it hoped the case would serve as a deterrent.

    "I.R.S. scams, as well as other telefraud scams, are conducted by multiple groups and individuals operating out of India, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Jamaica and other countries," said Nicole Navas Oxman, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department. "While this prosecution is a major success in disrupting the largest group of conspirators operating out of multiple call centers identified to date, other perpetrators of the IRS scam and similar scams remain at large."

    After The New York Times's article on Monday about the convictions, readers, including Mr. Meyer, responded with their own stories. Some asked where they could turn for restitution or to report suspicious calls.

    One reader said he had fallen victim in June after being instructed to transfer $8,000 in Best Buy cards — a common type of fraud in which a person is told to obtain a prepaid card and provide the number to the caller.

    Another reader said that a friend of her father had recently lost $5,000 in such a scam. And a couple said they had received at least 10 calls in the last three months, which they ignored, claiming that their tax return had problems that needed to be addressed immediately.

    Some steps you can take to protect yourself

    As The Times has previously recommended, don't provide personal information and don't engage with the caller. But you can ask for a name to include it in a complaint.

    The website of the Treasury inspector general for tax administration has an online form to report I.R.S. impersonations. It includes sections for reporting how much you paid to the perpetrators of the fraud, and whether you provided personal information. A personal identification number is assigned to the case so you can confirm that any agent who follows up is legitimate.

    You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which investigates consumer fraud.

    If you've been scammed and you file a complaint, you might be entitled to restitution if a court orders defendants to pay up. You'll only have a limited amount of time to claim losses, because the court may amend restitution orders for up to 60 days after sentencing. In the case of the India call centers, that date would be in mid-September. The claim form for that case is online.

    If you used a wire transfer to pay a con artist, you should contact the wire transfer company. The MoneyGram Customer Care Center is 1‑800‑926‑9400. The Western Union Fraud Hotline is 1-800-448-1492.

    The I.R.S. generally contacts people by mail. If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the agency, do not open attachments or click on links. Forward it to phishing@irs.gov.

    It is not always the I.R.S. that is being impersonated. Be aware, and learn to recognize a scam when you see or hear one.

    The indictment pertaining to the Justice Department's recent convictions described other ploys used by the conspirators. Some calls were purported to be from immigration officials who threatened deportation unless bogus fines were paid. Another technique was to pretend to be a payday lender and promise a loan if a fee was paid upfront, and then the loan would never materialize, the indictment said.

    Federal agencies have pages where consumers can browse scams by type, and the list suggests that there is no end to the creativity of crooked callers.

    This month alone, the F.T.C. warned about half a dozen types of scams.

    The F.T.C. said this week that people answering advertisements for child-care jobs had been tricked into buying supplies from a specific vendor before they were hired. The promised reimbursement and job never materialized after the vendor was paid.

    Con artists also impersonate a relative or friend pleading to be bailed out of jail or swept up in a travel emergency and in need of a loan. Others pretend they are collecting money, cars or boats for military veterans.

    Reports about online romantic scams, in which impostors created fake profiles to trick a love interest, have tripled from 2012 to 2016, the F.T.C. said. "Some even make wedding plans before disappearing with the money," the agency said.

    "These scams can take a military angle with impostors stealing service members' photos to create phony profiles," it added. "They might claim to be service members who can't get into their accounts overseas or who need money fast."

    The agency also warned consumers last week of a common technical support scam.

    "You're working on your computer when, suddenly, a message pops up on the screen: 'Virus detected! Call now for a free security scan and to repair your device,'" the agency said in a blog post. The impostor asks for remote access, or pretends to run a test, it said.

    If you're worried about your computer, the agency advised, call your security software company directly, and do not use the phone number in the pop-up window or on caller ID.






















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