Rest in Power Dave McReynolds

October 25, 1929 - August 17, 2018

David McReynolds, field secretary of the War Resistance League. 

I knew Dave McReynolds as a teenager in the Peace Movement in New York City. I was in the Socialist Workers Party and the Young Socialist Alliance at the time and Dave was a principled organizer in opposition to the War in Vietnam. He supported the demand: U.S. Out Now! And he was a staunch supporter of the idea of the united front around that single demand which we could all agree upon no matter what our other differences were between us. I was delighted to "friend him" in Facebook after so many years--I'm 73 now. I will miss his posts and his fundamental human kindness. —Bonnie Weinstein

This short video is a glimpse into the man and why he was a war resister: https://vimeo.com/7788130



The Song Of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist

by Graeme Darling

I've been working my arse off for years,

So that parasites can sit on theirs,

Counting all the money they have stolen from me.

These venal cannibals are legal criminals,

Cloaking their immorality in the joke of respectability.

It's the same story in every capitalist trap;

The most essential employees ( exploitees ) are treated like crap.

Decent folk on scrimping wages strain, scrub and mop,

While bloodsucking turds ride on their backs to the top.

You don't need to know the Communist Manifesto

To recognise injustice that's manifestly so.

This situation blights every organisation, I'm telling you true;

The higher the pay, the less work they do!

I'm sick and tired of being trod into the ground,

I'd turn this crazy pyramid the right way round.

The bosses in armchairs should clean toilets and stairs,

And experience an existence of struggling for subsistence.

Along with a decent minimum, I'd have a wage maximum.

Four to one should be the widest disparity;

Anything more is an utter obscenity.

This economic system of domination wreaks global exploitation;

Our training shoes are made by kids in sweatshops,

The Earth is ravaged for our phones and laptops.

We must side with the oppressed of every form and nation;

The universal kinship should be our motivation.

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists: a literary exposure of The Great Money Trick of capitalism

By Jenny Farrell, August 3, 2018








"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!"















New post on Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity



  Rally Against Continuing Solitary — The Four Prisoner Reps Will Be PRESENT in Court Conference AUG 21, 2018

  by prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity

  RALLY at the San Francisco Federal Courthouse while the four CA Prisoner Hunger Strike and Ashker Class Representatives 'Meet and Confer' with CDCr to address the continuing solitary conditions that violate the Ashker lawsuit settlement agreement. The four prisoner hunger strike representatives will be present in the courtroom, an historic presence!   

  Tuesday, August 21, 2018

  RALLY 11:30am

  Phillip Burton Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse?450 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102

  Help create a strong show of solidarity with prisoners fighting for human rights!

  What's going on? The prisoner class-led movement and the Ashker v. Gov of CAclass action lawsuit resulted in the release of over 1400 people from solitary confinement Security Housing Units (SHUs) to what the CA Department of Corrections (CDCr) calls "General Population." However, many of those people continue to be subjected to conditions of extreme isolation. With little to no out-of-cell time and no chance for social interaction, they are still in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT.

  On July 3, 2018, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled: 

  "The Settlement Agreement was intended to remove Plaintiffs from detention in the SHU, where they were isolated in a cell for 22 ? to 24 hours a day.… many Plaintiffs [now] spend an average of less than an hour of out-of-cell time each day, which is similar to the conditions they endured in the SHU.  ... This demonstrates a violation of the Settlement Agreement." 

  and "...a substantial percentage of Plaintiffs in Restricted Custody General Population (RCGP) are ...not permitted to exercise in small group yards or engage in group leisure activities. This does not comply with the terms of the Settlement Agreement." 



Lezley McSpadden started a petition demanding Missouri Governor, Mike Parson, appoint a special prosecutor to reopen the case of Mike Brown.



Tell Missouri Gov. Mike Parson: 

Appoint a special prosecutor for Mike Brown's case!

Four years ago, my son, Mike Brown, was fatally gunned down by Officer Darren Wilson as he surrendered with arms in the air, pleading for his life. The world erupted and nothing has been the same since that nightmarish summer. My family and community took their outrage and pain to the streets. We made public pleas for the officer who murdered my son in broad daylight to be indicted and convicted. Yet, we were denied justice. My heart was broken over and over again. It has been 4 years, but I cannot forget. I will not stop fighting until Mike gets the justice he deserves.

Newly elected Missouri Governor, Mike Parson, has the opportunity to right this terrible wrong by appointing a special prosecutor to reopen my son's case. 

Over the course of three months after Mike was murdered, my family and I waited as St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney, Bob McCulloch presented my son's case to a grand jury before the police investigation was over. McCulloch completely ignored standard protocol for a Prosecuting Attorney by enlisting the help of a grand jury to determine the charges against Officer Darren Wilson. It was a setup from the beginning. McCulloch abdicated his role as a County Prosecutor by making a politically calculated move that would shield him from criticism from the police and the media. 

Here are the facts:

  • McCulloch overwhelmed the jury with redundant and misleading information in an effort to manipulate the jury's confidence in Wilson's guilt.
  • A lawsuit was filed by one of the grand jurors detailing challenges and exposing their experiences on the grand jury.2
  • McCulloch admitted to allowing witnesses he knew were NOT telling the truth to testify before the grand jury. 3

The evidence is too significant to ignore. McCulloch thought he could avoid public scrutiny and accountability at the conclusion of this case. But he is wrong. I will not allow Bob McCulloch to get away with obstructing justice for my son. 

McCulloch cannot be allowed to get away with forgoing any and all responsibility as a high-level prosecutor. McCulloch's actions set a horrible precedent for prosecutors across the country. The primary charge for a prosecuting attorney is to fairly seek and achieve justice. McCulloch instead chose to make a political move with no regard for my family's pain. Furthermore, the relentless state-sanctioned violence against Black people has been nonstop since this nightmare began. Year after year, month after month, day after day, Black people remain targets for a bloodthirsty police force. This year alone, there have been over 600 incidents of deadly police encounters.4 Prosecutors are one of the few leverage points we have over the police. We must send a strong message to not only people in Missouri but to everyone around the country - killer cops will be held accountable.  

I am holding onto all hope that we get the justice we deserve. I believe in the resilience of our communities. And I believe that we will win. 

With love, 

Lezley McSpadden


    1. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/77984?t=12&akid=15843%2E46097%2EOtfN0y
    2. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/77985?t=14&akid=15843%2E46097%2EOtfN0y
    3. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/77735?t=16&akid=15843%2E46097%2EOtfN0y
    4. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/7854?t=18&akid=15843%2E46097%2EOtfN0y

Sign Here:




Free Mumia Now!

Mumia's freedom is at stake in a court hearing on August 30th. 

With your help, we just might free him!

Rally To Free Mumia

Tuesday August 28th

4 pm at 14th & Broadway, Oakland CA

A Philadelphia court now has before it the evidence which could lead to Mumia's freedom. The evidence shows that Ronald Castille, of the District Attorney's office in 1982, intervened in the prosecution of Mumia for a crime he did not commit. Years later, Castille was a judge on the PA Supreme Court, where he sat in judgement over Mumia's case, and ruled against Mumia in every appeal! 

According to the US Supreme Court in the Williams ruling, this corrupt behavior was illegal!

But will the court rule to overturn all of Mumia's negative appeals rulings by the PA Supreme Court? If it does, Mumia would be free to appeal once again against his unfair conviction. If it does not, Mumia could remain imprisoned for life, without the possibility for parole, for a crime he did not commit.

• Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent and framed!

• Mumia Abu-Jamal is a journalist censored off the airwaves!

• Mumia Abu-Jamal is victimized by cops, courts and politicians!

• Mumia Abu-Jamal stands for all prisoners treated unjustly!

• Courts have never treated Mumia fairly!

Will You Help Free Mumia?

Call DA Larry Krasner at (215) 686-8000

Tell him former DA Ron Castille violated Mumia's constitutional rights and 

Krasner should cease opposing Mumia's legal petition.

Tell the DA to release Mumia because he's factually innocent.

Rally To Free Mumia!

Tuesday August 28th

4 pm at 14th & Broadway, Oakland CA

The rally is called by the Free Mumia Coalition of the Bay Area.

Initial sponsor/participants include: Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Workers World Party, Oakland Teachers for Mumia, Alameda County Peace and Freedom Party, the Oscar Grant Committee, ANSWER Coalition, BAMN, Freedom Socialist Party, Love Not Blood Campaign, and Socialist Action.

Endorse and participate in this action! Send your info in reply to this email. 



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



The Quakers about Jamil Al-Amin

Newark Office

89 Market St. 6th floor - Newark, NJ 07102 (973) 643 1924 - nymro@afsc.org

Re: Imam Jamil Al-Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown) (PDF)

July 7, 2018

Dear John Lewis:

I am addressing this to you with copies to others because this is both a professional as well as a personal letter. I spent almost eight years in the south during the civil rights era, serving in Tennessee under the leadership of Maxine and Vasco Smith of the Memphis NAACP and then at Highlander for a year and a half. Professionally, I have the privilege of directing the Prison Watch Program for the American Friends Service Committee. The AFSC is a faith based Quaker organization with a deep belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome injustice. Our Prison Watch Program has been providing witness to conditions of confinement in United States prisons for over four decades, speaking truth to power via publications, public speaking and all forms of media.

In my professional capacity as a monitor of US prisons, I am often called upon to document the treatment endured by a specific person in our criminal legal system. Imam Jamil Al-Amin has been of special interest to me because of his leadership during that important era opposing the racism with which this country has governed. Since then, he has been convicted of serious charges in Georgia, spending the last 18 years in different prisons. He has sustained a number of physical transfers away from his family in Georgia, including spending many of those years in solitary confinement in both the state and federal systems, with no explicit charges for this type of placement. The use of isolated confinement for political dissidents from the civil rights era has been well documented. It was Andrew Young who, as US representative to the United Nations, noted that the United States had what he "would consider political prisoners". In later years, any number of us noted the differential treatment borne by political dissenters who ended up in US prisons. The use of extended isolation was used on many of them, including the Imam. The impact of this extended isolation has been medically documented as extremely damaging to the human psyche.

This should serve as a letter of human rights concern about the Imam. Of specific and current concern is his medical condition, as well as his age. The Imam was diagnosed at the federal Butner Medical Center in 2014 with a pre-cursor stage of multiple myeloma, an incurable form of cancer related to leukemia. This disease causes weight loss, kidney failure, rib fractures and other skeletal abnormalities. It is a medical condition which needs regular medical monitoring. He has been moved twice since his time in a medical facility and is currently at the USP in Arizona. His family and supporters feel continuing concern about his well-being. His disease coupled with his age make the Arizona weather often difficult for him. The long physical, and therefore emotional, separation from family is wearing on the Imam and his entire family. Punishment for a verdict of guilt in the United States is removal from society. The isolation and neglect he endured at ADX, and the current isolation from his home state of Georgia is beyond acceptable. It is hard for me, as a professional witness, to fathom the rationale for this ongoing placement. It also remains difficult for me to understand why this person, or any other person in prison, would be denied access to scholars and journalists. Because of his well-documented history of activism, there are those who would like to interview the Imam as a way of authenticating and studying this history.

Because I have been an activist since the Civil Right Era, my personal awareness of the Imam's life has been ongoing during the decades I have coordinated the AFSC Prison Watch Program. I remain profoundly impacted by the treatment of the Imam and other imprisoned political dissenters from my era of activism. They have endured inappropriate torture in the form of years of solitary confinement. Many, including the Imam, have also endured what can only be described as purposeful medical neglect. It seems to me that it is time for legislators of conscience to investigate our elderly imprisoned citizens, many who have suffered severely for their political beliefs. They need to be released. Short of that, they need to be close to home and cared for medically.

On a personal level, I have always felt very attached to my brave generation - from those who served in Vietnam to those who marched in the South. My own youthful experience in the south was full of many of those people being murdered, being spit at, called a race traitor and feeling unprotected from such hatred. I remember not understanding what there was to hate so deeply and feeling as if we were in a war against black and brown people. H. Rap Brown was an integral part of that very important force to the country towards real social change.

I have been witness since that time to what has happened to so many protesters from my generation who ended up in US prisons. You cannot give me a reason for their "specialized" treatment - the poor medical care which feels purposeful; for keeping families miles apart for no understandable reason; and for the general cruelty to the elderly in our society's prisons no matter why they were convicted. The Imam is currently 75 years old and is serving a life sentence without parole. It doesn't seem logical to keep him from his family, from Georgia or from dialogue with those who seek that with him. It certainly doesn't speak well of our criminal legal system to not provide appropriate medical care.

We need legislators of integrity to consider interceding in what can only be seen as ill-chosen restrictions and neglect. I am specifically reaching out to you because I have imagined a dialogue between you and the Imam, and I wondered if even you would be allowed to see him. Aside from his conditions of confinement issues, perhaps the most disturbing thing of all is that his voice has been deliberately silenced.


Bonnie Kerness, MSW


Prison Watch Program

Cc: Ben Chavis

Bennie Thompson

# # #



We call on the Virginia Department of Corrections to immediately release Kevin "Rashid" Johnson from solitary confinement and not to transfer him again out of state.
Why is this important?

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Self Portrait, 2013

To: Virginia Department of Corrections; Chief of VA Corrections Operations David Robinson

We call on the Virginia Department of Corrections to immediately release Kevin "Rashid" Johnson from solitary confinement and not to transfer him again out of state.
Why is this important?

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson has been a Virginia prisoner (#1007485) since 1990. During his imprisonment, he became a human rights advocate and a journalist. His journalistic work in particular exposes abuses by prison administration and staff. His related steps toward litigation have resulted in his being "interstate compacted" or transferred back-and-forth between state prisons.

Currently, Rashid is being held in solitary confinement with no legitimate security justification at Sussex I State Prison in Virginia. Between 2012 and June of 2018, he has been transferred to prisons in three other states (Oregon, Texas, and Florida) before being returned to a different prison in Virginia. He was kept in solitary confinement in Texas and Florida, where he witnessed and suffered many acts of abuse by prison staff. All this, in reprisal for his political and journalistic activity.

Each state prison transfer has subjected Rashid to serious abuses -- the most recent being caged in a freezing cold cell without heat or a blanket for over a week. Over the years, Rashid has had his life threatened by corrections officers and endured explicit, violent retaliation for exercising his First Amendment right of protected free speech. 

Rashid expects to be transferred again soon and to be subjected to more serious conditions of extreme isolation.

Kevin Rashid Johnson does not advocate for violence or illegal activity and has not been charged with anything of the like during his imprisonment. He is not a threat to the Virginia Department of Corrections – he is an imprisoned journalist and human rights advocate – and should be released from solitary confinement immediately.

Solitary confinement has been increasingly recognized by courts and society as a torturous means of punishment. This punitive measure has been imposed on Kevin Johnson not because of any violent conduct on his part but because of his relentless exposure of abuses by prison officials, his willingness to challenge those abuses through the legal system, and his efforts to educate fellow prisoners and encourage them to challenge by peaceful means the unhealthy and humiliating conditions to which they are subjected. Using solitary confinement as a tool to silence someone who exposes prison abuses and advocates for prison reform is a human rights abuse and unconstitutional.

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now. 

-- The RootsAction.org Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.




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).

  • 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) Millions of Frequent Flier Miles Are Donated to Reunite Families Separated at Border

    By Jacey Fortin, August 16, 2018


    Miles4Migrants was started in 2016, but received millions of extra donated miles after a tweet by a law professor in Michigan went viral.

    On the morning of Aug. 6, a law professor at the University of Michigan wrote a tweet about a family that had been separated by immigration authorities after crossing into the United States.

    Then the professor, Beth Wilensky, went for a run. Then she ate some lunch.

    "I came back and checked my Twitter feed and said, 'Oh my goodness,'" Ms. Wilensky recalled. Her post was blowing up, on its way to getting tens of thousands of retweets.

    The tweet said: "My husband travels a lot. Downside: he's gone a lot. Upside: frequent flier miles. We just used some to fly a 3-yr-old and his dad, who had been separated at the border, from Michigan (where the son had been taken) to their extended family. DM me if you have miles to donate."

    "zero tolerance" immigration policy from the Trump administration led to the separation of thousands of children from their parents or guardians this year. In June, President Trump signed an order meant to stop the separations. But hundreds of children remain in United States custody without their parents, according to the Homeland Security Department.

    Ms. Wilensky said she was seized by a desire to do something. She joined online communities of people who felt the same — citizens busy with day jobs and families of their own, now bound by Twitter threads, Reddit groups and Facebook pages.

    But faced with the daunting and sometimes inscrutable bureaucracy of immigration policy and enforcement, many people wondered how best they could help.

    The tweet appeared to strike a chord.

    Asking for direct messages turned out to be a mistake; Ms. Wilensky could not respond quickly enough to the queries that came pouring in. So later that day she posted again, encouraging people to contact Michigan Support Circle, a group in her area to which she was connected via Facebook. The group was responding to the needs of migrant families on a largely ad hoc basis.

    Michigan Support Circle coalesced about six weeks ago to support migrant families affected by the administration's policy, said Rosalie Lochner, a founder of the group.

    "I think a lot of people across both sides of the aisle believe that families need to be protected, and that the trauma of separating these families is something that, as citizens, we are responsible for," she said. After seeing the tweet, people from across the country reached out to the group on social media, asking how they could help.

    Ms. Wilensky also included a link to Miles4Migrants, a two-year-old group that uses donated frequent flier miles to transport refugees to new homes or to reunite families divided by conflict.

    Andy Freedman, a founder of that nonprofit, quickly noticed that something was up on Monday. There were more visitors to the website. A few more inquiries. A small spike in donations. He wondered if the extra attention was the result of some new campaign or a smart social media post.

    It was, it turned out, the tweet from Ms. Wilensky, a stranger in Michigan. On that Monday alone, Mr. Freedman said, his organization received pledges of over one million miles. That number has now ballooned to more than 28 million.

    Miles4Migrants grew out of a Reddit group dedicated to "credit churning," a risky practice that involves systematically signing up for credit cards to win bonuses and points to cover airfare and hotel costs, and even to get cash back.

    It is a time-consuming and "dorky" hobby, said Seth Stanton, a founding member of Miles4Migrants, which coalesced after one member of the Reddit group, Nick Ruiz, shared a story about using his air miles to help reunite a Pakistani family.

    In the years since, Miles4Migrants has partnered with donors and aid organizations to reunite dozens of families on an ad hoc, case-by-case basis. The refugees and asylum seekers they helped had international itineraries: Islamabad to Manchester. Addis Ababa to Edinburgh. Tehran to London. (The founders work around day jobs. Mr. Stanton, an optometrist, sometimes arranges flights between patients.)

    But this week, flush with more than 28 million newly donated frequent flier miles, the organization is thinking about how to tackle the logistics of reuniting families in the United States.

    The group's overall mission is not really about American politics, and that won't change now, Mr. Freedman said. "We're about reuniting families," he said. "The way we do that is fairly simple. We help them with a flight."

    So far, Miles4Migrants has booked two flights for migrants within the United States. Mr. Stanton said that while the logistics and the bureaucracy are daunting, they hope to do more and are looking for partner organizations, including airlines, to help them do it, as well as cash to cover the fees and taxes associated with flights.

    Michigan Support Circle is working with Miles4Migrants to arrange flights as needed, but it, too, is in need of more than just miles, Ms. Lochner said. The organization helps families in whatever way it can, for example by donating home goods or facilitating medical care.

    But Ms. Lochner said the extra attention has been encouraging. "I'm so impressed by how much people want to be involved, and how willing people are to help in whatever way they can," she said.

    Ms. Wilensky still wonders why her post was so effective and why the idea of frequent flier miles donations held such appeal for thousands and thousands of strangers.

    "I think a lot of people out there, like my husband and I, have watched all of this unfold — this family separation policy — with a sense of absolute horror," she said. "I think a lot of people felt like we did, which is, 'Oh my gosh, here's something real and concrete that might help to fix this problem, even if it's just for one family.'"



    2) For Catholics, Gradual Reform Is No Longer an Option

    By Kathleen Sprows Cummings, August 17, 2018


    St. Joseph Catholic Church in Hanover, Penn.

    I often use a handy metaphor to explain to my students how feminists have historically differed among themselves in their approaches to bringing about change in patriarchal institutions. Some feminists seek a place at the table; others want to reset the table. The former hope to promote gradual progress from within an existing framework of norms and organizational structures; the latter demand nothing less than radical, wholesale reform.

    When it comes to the Roman Catholic Church, I have always been a "place at the table" kind of feminist. When asked how to integrate women more fully into the life of the church, I offer reasonable strategies. Bishops could, for example, recognize that the call for leadership might flow as much from the sacrament of baptism as from that of ordination, and appoint more women to leadership positions at all levels of church governance.

    Tuesday's grand jury report about clerical sexual abuse in Pennsylvania has changed my mind. The sickening revelations — over 1,000 victims, more than 300 priests, 70 years of cover-ups — have propelled me directly to the center of the "reset the table" camp. We need to rip off the tablecloth, hurl the china against a wall and replace the crystal with something less ostentatious, more resilient and, for the love of God, safer for children. 

    Long before I was a historian and a professor, I was a child in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The parish and the schools and the priests and the sisters formed me as a person of faith. I am still blessed by the grace of all the many sacraments I received there: baptism, first communion and then twice-weekly Eucharist, regular confession, a memorable confirmation (during the blizzard of 1983) and many years later, matrimony. I treasure memories of equally sacramental moments experienced during annual service trips, weekly volleyball games of the Catholic Youth Organization and daily laughter-filled conversations with the boys and girls who became lifelong friends.

    In 2005 a grand jury report from Philadelphia tainted those memories, naming as it did two sexually abusive priests who had served at my parish and several more who taught at my high school. Even in the midst of so much grace, it turned out, sin had abounded, and I wept for the victims, who had been my classmates and neighbors.

    Tuesday's grand jury report, which involves six other Pennsylvania dioceses, has also devastated me personally. Many names are familiar: I attended college in one diocese, and have researched and written about two others. Above all, I know Pennsylvania Catholics, who are generally more inclined than Catholics from elsewhere to place Father or Monsignor or Bishop on a pedestal and deem him above criticism or even suspicion. The consequences of gullibility, to our shame, are made manifest in the report.

    I mourned privately 13 years ago, but today I state publicly that the church must come to terms with the sins of its past and reform itself so thoroughly that they will never be repeated in the future. People can point out, and they surely will, that the Catholic Church has not cornered the market on sexual abuse of children and young people. Yes, I realize that. Nonetheless, it is clear that the scale of the abuse is magnified in an institution whose leaders time and again chose self-preservation over the protection of the most vulnerable people entrusted to their care. 

    People will say that there is still holiness in the church, that there are many priests and bishops with good and pure hearts, and they are right. But there are times when the sin is so pervasive and corrosive that it is irresponsible to talk about anything else, and this is one of those times. My once-polite requests for incremental reform have morphed overnight into demands that church leaders voluntarily relinquish their place at the head table.

    Imagine hearing abdications of power along the following lines in Sunday homilies, in diocesan news conferences, or in statements from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

    "We were granted privileges because we were meant to represent Jesus Christ on earth. But Jesus said that we should humble ourselves like little children if we want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and also that anyone who harms a little one 'would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone around his neck.' We are no longer worthy of your sacred trust.

    "We are ready to listen humbly, first of all to victims and their advocates, who might tell us how to begin to ease suffering and to make recompense. We welcome prosecutors and lawyers and historians into our archives, so that the full truth, however damning, might be known. We acknowledge that our system of seminary education is deeply flawed, and ask how it might be reformed so as to produce leaders who thrive as human beings. We submit to new layers of oversight, because the ones we ourselves imposed failed so miserably. We are listening. We are learning. We ask for God's mercy, and yours."

    Will we hear statements like these? Unlikely. But we are owed nothing less from our ordained leaders as collective atonement for the sins of their brothers.

    Kathleen Sprows Cummings (@ksprowscummings) is an associate professor of American studies and history at the University of Notre Dame and the author of "New Women of the Old Faith: Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era."



    3) Catalan Gypsies, Unique and Embattled, Resist as Homes Are Reduced to Rubble

    By Adam Nossiter, August 18, 2018


    Nick Giménez near one of the demolished buildings in Saint Jacques. "We were born here," he said. "If they kick us out, we are dead."

    PERPIGNAN, France — First it was the 20 old houses demolished several years ago. Then 13 more 19th-century houses came down in June, wrought-iron balconies and all, leaving only bare asphalt baking in the summer heat in Perpignan, a city near France's border with Spain and close to the Mediterranean coast.

    Finally, the residents of the city's old Saint Jacques district had endured enough. Well over 50 dwellings in their neighborhood had been reduced to rubble since 2015.

    Late last month, they gathered in the district's ancient square high on a hill, as a city excavator was making another mess of bricks and jagged wall fragments nearby.

    Dozens marched from there down to the prefecture, the central government's representative, demanding to be heard. City Hall backed down. The excavator was withdrawn, the demolitions left at a standstill.

    What made the events exceptional was not just that this was a stand by one of the poorest neighborhoods in France. It was also a protest by a unique population, one the French media and academics universally refer to as, or "les gitans," or Gypsies.

    The Gypsies of Perpignan, who speak Catalan, appear distinct culturally and ethnically from the broader population of Roma, sometimes also referred to as Gypsies, but they are in many ways no less maligned and marginalized in France.

    With some 3,000 to 5,000 inhabitants, Saint Jacques is urban France's largest Gypsy neighborhood, a festering sore of poverty and unemployment, a place normally drawing few allies.

    Yet in its fight against the destruction of its neighborhood, the community found help from local preservationists and allied itself with North African neighbors — a group it has clashed with in the past. The community also mobilized its youth, 90 percent of whom are jobless and many of whom hang out in the streets after the sun has set.

    "If you kick an angry dog, he'll bite you and he won't let go," said Alain Giménez, a community leader, as others who had gathered in the raffish Place du Puig, or "Hill Square" in the local Catalan, nodded their assent.

    "So, what are we here, nothing? They say we're dirty," said Mr. Giménez, who calls himself "Nounourse," or teddy bear, mocking his own portliness. "The problem is, they don't talk to us, they just say we are dirty."

    The truce achieved with the city over the demolitions is only temporary, said Jean-Bernard Mathon, head of the local preservation society. At least 37 more buildings in Saint Jacques were slated to come down, he said.

    "What we want is the rehabilitation of the old core," Mr. Mathon said. "What they want to do is demolish. But they have rebuilt nothing. It's hideous."

    Saint Jacques, dilapidated, crumbling and now threatened, even drew the backing of President Emmanuel Macron's special emissary on historical preservation, the French television personality, Stéphane Bern.

    Mr. Bern wrote on social media that he was "scandalized and shocked by the images of destruction in the center of Perpignan," and promised his "support and solidarity."

    The preservationists point to the delicate balcony railings, the incised roof moldings, the occasional centuries-old doorway and the intricate Medieval street grid, and urge renovation rather than demolition.

    Yet in a country with more historical districts than it knows what to do with or has the money to pay for, Saint Jacques is something of an ugly duckling.

    The district, a frontier within a frontier — Spain is only 20 miles away — is vulnerable, and the Catalan Gypsies, historically victims of discrimination, feel threatened, too.

    The Gypsies of Perpignan have been speaking Catalan since the 16th century, but have been present as semi-nomads in this area since the 14th or 15th century, said Mr. Mathon, the preservationist.

    They acquired fixed domiciles only from the late 1930s, when Jews were chased from this district during World War II.

    Mr. Mathon said Gypsies of Perpignan don't appear to be related ethnically to the Roma populations of Eastern Europe. Others agree.

    "Roma or Gypsies of Romania and Bulgaria did not come to Perpignan;" said the leading sociologist of Perpignan, Alain Tarrius, an emeritus professor at the University of Toulouse.

    The moment you climb up to Saint Jacques from Perpignan's prosperous city center, you enter another land. St. Jacques was built in the Middle Ages with a narrow grid of houses huddled protectively against one another.

    Today big chunks of plaster and paint are missing from the facades. Shutters are closed. Tall, narrow dwellings crowd together on steep streets plunging down toward the horizon, with the Pyrenees looming in the distance.

    The Mediterranean sun cannot penetrate the deep shade. Laundry hangs from windows, and steel girders bridge the alleylike streets, propping up the buildings. Perpignan's street cleaners don't appear to make it up to Saint Jacques.

    Late at night, while the city below sleeps beneath its orange tile roofs, the streets of Saint Jacques are alive with children, grandmothers dressed in black sitting on plastic chairs, and men stripped to the waist in the summer heat.

    The locals warn you not to bother them before 6 p.m. because most will be sleeping.

    The demolitions have pockmarked the district with "useless" squares — Mr. Mathon's word — but its social fabric is intact.

    "Look, there was a school there," said Josiana Caragol, pointing to a now-vacant square. "They're cutting down all the houses. Is that right? If there is more demolition, they are going to kick us all out."

    The city's argument for the demolitions is simple, and revolves around numbers. Sixty percent of the district's population lives below the poverty line. Forty percent of the dwellings are vacant. Overall unemployment is 70 percent. Many children skip school. It is cheaper to rebuild than to renovate.

    "You can't just let people live in insalubrious conditions, just because it's picturesque," said Olivier Amiel, the official in charge of the St. Jacques reconstruction, for which he said 100 million euros, or about $113 million, had been set aside. "Given the urgency of the conditions there, we can't wait for these aesthetic debates to take place," he said.

    "This program is a last chance for the community," said Mr. Amiel, who added that over 50 meetings had taken place with community representatives. "You can have preservation without freezing things," he said, pointing to the dangerous collapse of several buildings.

    Mr. Amiel said 588 dwellings are to demolished, "restructured" or rehabilitated, and 312 new dwellings built. But Mr. Mathon says there has been no new construction where the houses have been demolished.

    "They think we want to chase them from the district, but that has never been our intention," said Pierre Parrat, the deputy mayor, in his office at City Hall, an elegant 14th-century building below Saint Jacques.

    "They don't live like us," Mr. Parrat continued. "They have a different notion of the public space," he said, blaming the introduction of France's guaranteed minimum income, for the neighborhood's problems. "They said, 'right, we're not going to work.' And that has turned against them."

    The neighborhood's residents, he said, are an "appealing lot, but they tend to get excited over nothing."

    The fear is real, though. The Gypsies of Perpignan feel the expanding university below pressing up against them.

    Officials want to take the neighborhood down, said Valerie Cargol, outside her immaculately kept house on a steep street in Saint Jacques. "But they must not."

    Officials question the Roma's hygiene, but Ms. Cargol's kitchen was sparkling.

    "It's been here for 150 years. So why break it all up?" she asked. "Break it, for what reason?"

    Paul Orell, 34 and unemployed, said he was eager to participate in the rebuilding of the neighborhood. "These house were lived in by our grandparents," he said. "We've been abandoned."

    With new ruins of the Place du Puig behind him — "Beirut," as some call it — Nick Giménez, one of the community's elders, said: "We were born here. If they kick us out, we are dead."



    4) The 'Zombie Gene' That May Protect Elephants From Cancer

    By Carl Zimmer, August 14, 2018


    Elephants, like their forebears mastodons and mammoths, carry a unique gene whose proteins kill off potentially cancerous cells.

    Elephants ought to get a lot of cancer. They're huge animals, weighing as much as eight tons. It takes a lot of cells to make up that much elephant. 

    All of those cells arose from a single fertilized egg, and each time a cell divides, there's a chance that it will gain a mutation — one that may lead to cancer.

    Strangely, however, elephants aren't more prone to cancer than smaller animals. Some research even suggests they get less cancer than humans do

    On Tuesday, a team of researchers reported what may be a partial solution to that mystery: Elephants protect themselves with a unique gene that aggressively kills off cells whose DNA has been damaged.

    Somewhere in the course of evolution, the gene had become dormant. But somehow it was resurrected, a bit of zombie DNA that has proved particularly useful. 

    Vincent J. Lynch, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago and a co-author of the paper, published in Cell Reports, said that understanding how elephants fight cancer may provide inspiration for developing new drugs.

    "It might tell us something fundamental about cancer as a process. And if we're lucky, it might tell us something about how to treat human disease," Dr. Lynch said.

    Scientists have puzzled over cancer, or the lack thereof, in big animals since the 1970s. In recent years, some researchers have started carrying out detailed studies of the genes and cells of these species, searching for unexpected strategies for fighting the disease.

    Some of the first research focused on a well-studied anticancer gene called p53. It makes a protein that can sense when DNA gets damaged. In response, the protein switches on a number of other genes.

    A cell may respond by repairing its broken genes, or it may commit suicide, so that its descendants will not have the chance to gain even more mutations.

    In 2015, Dr. Lynch and his colleagues discovered that elephants have evolved unusual p53 genes. While we only have one copy of the gene, elephants have 20 copies. Researchers at the University of Utah independently made the same discovery

    Both teams observed that the elephant's swarm of p53 genes responds aggressively to DNA damage. Their bodies don't bother with repairing cells — they only orchestrate the damaged cell's death.

    Dr. Lynch and his colleagues continued their search for cancer-fighting genes, and they soon encountered another one, called LIF6, that only elephants seem to possess.

    In response to DNA damage, p53 proteins in elephants switch on LIF6. The cell makes LIF6 proteins, which then wreak havoc.

    Dr. Lynch's experiments indicate that LIF6 proteins make their way to the cell's tiny fuel-generating factories, called mitochondria. 

    The proteins pry open holes in the mitochondria, allowing molecules to pour out. The molecules from mitochondria are toxic, causing the cell to die.

    "This adds an important piece to the puzzle," said Dr. Joshua D. Schiffman, a pediatric oncologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah who has also studied cancer in elephants. 

    More experiments are needed to confirm that LIF6 works the way Dr. Lynch and his colleagues propose, Dr. Schiffman added. "As a start, I think this is fantastic," he said.

    LIF6 has a bizarre evolutionary history, as it turns out.

    All mammals carry a similar gene, simply called LIF. In our own cells, it performs several different jobs, such as sending signals from one cell to another. But almost all mammals — ourselves included — have only one copy. 

    The only exceptions to that rule are elephants and their close relatives, such as manatees, Dr. Lynch and his colleagues found. These mammals have several copies of LIF; elephants have ten.

    These copies arose thanks to sloppy mutations in the ancestors of manatees and elephants more than 80 million years ago. 

    These newer copies of the original LIF gene lack a stretch of DNA that acts as an on-off switch. As a result, the genes could not make their proteins. (Humans also carry thousands of copies of so-called pseudogenes.) 

    After the ancestors of elephants evolved ten LIF genes, however, something remarkable happened: One of these dead genes came back to life. That gene is LIF6.

    Somewhere in the course of elephant evolution, a cellular mutation inserted a genetic switch next to LIF6, enabling the gene to be activated by p53. The resurrected gene now made a protein that could do something new: attack mitochondria and kill damaged cells. 

    To find out when the LIF6 gene first came back to life, the researchers took a close look at DNA retrieved from fossils.

    Mastodons and mammoths also carried LIF6. Scientists estimate that they shared a common ancestor with modern elephants that lived 26 million years ago.

    Dr. Lynch speculated that LIF6 came back to life at the same time that the ancestors of living elephants evolved extra copies of p53. As they developed more powerful defenses against cancer, the animals could begin reaching their enormous sizes.

    Elephants likely evolved other new genes that follow p53's orders, Dr. Lynch predicted. He also suspects that elephants have also evolved ways to fight cancer that are separate from p53 altogether. 

    "I think it's all of the above," he said. "There are lots of stories like LIF6 in the elephant genome, and I want to know them all."



    5) David McReynolds, Socialist Activist Who Ran for President, Dies at 88

    By Jacey Fortin, August 18, 2018


    David McReynolds, right, explaining plans to protest the draft at the University of Denver in 1970.

    David E. McReynolds, a pacifist, socialist and sometime political candidate whose activism spanned many decades, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 88.

    The War Resisters League, where Mr. McReynolds had been a staff member, confirmed his death. He had been taken to Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital after falling in his Manhattan apartment, a friend, Bruce Cronin, said.

    Mr. McReynolds was best known for his demonstrations against the draft during the Vietnam War, his advocacy of pacifism and denuclearization, and his two bids for president in 1980 and 2000 as an openly gay man running on the Socialist Party USA ticket.

    "He'll be known for the lifetime of leadership and the pacifist movements that, to a large degree, he defined in the post-World War II, Cold War era," said Professor Cronin, the chairman of the political science department at City College of New York. "But what I think helped to define him was that he was as much a humanist as he was an activist." He had met Mr. McReynolds at a denuclearization rally in the 1980s.

    Mr. McReynolds spent almost four decades as a staff member for the War Resisters League, a pacifist organization based in New York City. His activism took him around the world for demonstrations and meetings as a member of delegations in Libya, Japan, Vietnam and other countries.

    "There were all these things that made him a giant in antiwar and civil rights and social justice," his cousin Dusty Kunin said on Friday.

    He was also a photographer, a writer and a music aficionado who regularly hosted friends at his home for discussions about art, life and politics.

    David Ernest McReynolds was born on Oct. 25, 1929, in Los Angeles. He was raised as a Baptist and was once affiliated with the Prohibition Party, he told The Village Voice in a 2015 interview.

    Mr. McReynolds, who was the oldest of three children, described his childhood as "pretty protected." His father's job as head of the local water reserve and his family's access to his grandfather's farm and livestock helped insulate them from the worst effects of the Great Depression, The Voice reported.

    By the time he attended the University of California, Los Angeles, in the early 1950s, he had become an active socialist and an ardent pacifist.

    This was during the era of McCarthyism, and the government took notice of his activities. Mr. McReynolds would later write that the F.B.I. had compiled hundreds of pages of files on him, which he obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

    His work spanned myriad issues. He demonstrated in favor of civil rights and against the Korean War in the 1950s, so that by the time widespread antiwar sentiment had gripped young activists during the 1960s and '70s, he was an experienced protester.

    Mr. McReynolds was known as a mediator with a human touch, and much of his organizing work took place behind the scenes. But he occasionally appeared in news reports, including the time he publicly burned draft documents during Vietnam War protests in 1965.

    He first gained wider public attention as a candidate for Congress in 1958. He ran as an openly gay candidate for president in 1980, and again in 2000, although he did not make gay rights a central issue in either campaign.

    By the time of his last presidential bid, he was 70 and technically retired from his position as a field secretary with the War Resisters League.

    "I think we have a title for me," he said at the time. "I'm an emeritus of some kind. I'll have to ask someone up front what my title is."

    Mr. McReynolds resigned from the Socialist Party in 2015 after he was censured for two comments he had made on social media. In one, he expressed concern over Islamist extremism following a terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, a newspaper in Paris. In the other, he used the word "thuggish" in reference to Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

    "The failure of the Socialist Party, its tendency to substitute a kind of left rhetoric for serious analysis, is to be regretted because if ever we needed a democratic socialist movement it is today," Mr. McReynolds wrote after his resignation.

    He is survived by a sister, Elizabeth Gralewski, and a brother, Martin McReynolds.

    On Friday, the War Resisters League said in a statement that Mr. McReynolds was on its staff until 1999 but had remained a member of the league's community throughout his life, adding that he "will be remembered for living radical pacifism."



    6) What Father Bradel Did to Me

    By Patricia McCormick


    St. Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese, which was one of the six Pennsylvania dioceses included in the state attorney general's report.

    When I saw the name of the priest who molested me listed in the Pennsylvania grand jury's report, I thought: I'm gonna be in big trouble. The abuse started when I was about 12 years old, so it's not a surprise that the language that came to mind was straight out of that period of my life. 

    I scanned through the nearly 900 pages of the report that was released by the attorney general last week. It detailed abuse in six dioceses over 70 years, listing more than 300 abusive priests. The accounts were horrifying — young victims were given gold cross necklaces to signal to other predators that they were 'optimal targets' — and the documentation of what happened is surely a good thing.

    But what stunned me was my second reaction: a perplexing disappointment that I still don't know whether I was his only victim. Of course, I didn't want others to have experienced what I did. But I did want some confirmation that his behavior was part of a pattern. 

    In the 1960s, Catholic priests were a special class of bachelors, fed pot roast dinners by a bucket brigade of parish women, so when Father Bradel came to our house in central Pennsylvania for the first of many regular visits, my mother got out the good china.

    Then our family sat stifled into silence as he held forth on evils of the changing times, reserving special fury for the New Mass, where the organ was replaced by a guitar and tambourine, and where laypeople carried felt banners decorated with handprints and doves. Taking her cue, my mother once asked him what he thought of my Catholic high school teacher who'd assigned the book "A Clockwork Orange" to his class despite a church banon the movie.

    We weren't just Mass-on-Sunday Catholics. My mother had laundered the parish vestments when the parish was newly founded, and my father put 10 percent of his take-home pay in the collection basket every week for his entire life. My sisters and I went to parochial school; I wrote flowery poems about the Virgin Mary for the church bulletin. And in the dining room, behind where Father Bradel sat, hung a gold-framed reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper." 

    When my mother asked about the Catholic teacher's defiant assignment, the priest slammed his palm on table. The plates jumped. The water in the water glasses sloshed. The lamp over the table vibrated ever so slightly. "I want to know what Patty thinks," he said. He turned his mastiff-like head in my direction. My three younger sisters looked at me in awe, as if they were expecting me to turn the water into wine. My father looked on in pity. My mother adopted a pose of polite curiosity. 

    I found myself answering, slowly at first, then, under the blaze of his questions, articulating an opinion in favor of the assignment. Until now, ours was a home where only the adults had opinions. I waited to be sent away from the table for this heresy — or for my mother to mete out the real punishment later, to the backs of my legs with a wooden spoon. But when I finished, Father Bradel made the sign of the cross over my head. My father exhaled. My mother adopted a tight smile. Amen. 

    The dinners became a tradition. One night, Father Bradel arrived early. My mother, who grew up in an era when girls tap-danced or recited poetry for guests, said to me, "Go in the living room and entertain Father Bradel." She ushered the two of us into the living room, that museum of suburban propriety, and left. Father Bradel and I stood there awkwardly, as if we were waiting to be introduced. He was wearing a long black cassock and stiff white clerical collar; I was in my school uniform and knee socks.

    With no warning, he pulled me to him, crushing me in the blackness of his robe, my cheek so close to his heart that I could hear it pounding. He pulled back, appraising me. I looked away, terrified by this display, focusing intently on a nearby studio portrait of me and my sisters. He bent his knees, so we were at eye level, and tipped my chin toward him. Then he kissed me, his lips wet and flaccid, his mouth open wide enough that his teeth dug into my lower lip. His tongue probed for mine. I stood frozen, my arms at my sides. 

    It was my first kiss.

    No one had to tell me it was my duty to give this strange comfort to our parish priest.

    This ritual, where I would be told to entertain Father Bradel in the living room, then be the star student at the dinner table, took place three or four times a year all throughout high school; it was as unchanging as the consecration of the host at Mass. No one had to tell me it was my duty to give this strange comfort to our parish priest. I knew from my catechism book that following the wishes of authority figures was a way of "showing God how much we love him. We show this especially when we obey in something we do not feel like doing." More than that, I wanted desperately to believe that this man saw something special in me — intelligence, maybe? A rebellious spirit? Or a deep, keening loneliness that he shared. 

    A few years later, when I was in college, Father Bradel called to say he was coming to take me out to dinner. "Don't wear jeans," he said. He took me to a fancy restaurant outside Philadelphia where there was one menu "for the gentleman," with prices, and another "for the lady." He ordered a Manhattan. I ordered a Tab. 

    "Maybe you've heard," he said. "I'm leaving the priesthood." 

    I hadn't heard. 

    "I've come for your blessing," he added. 

    I understood that the moment was significant, that it was a rite of some kind, something like the moment when a young man asks a girl's father for her hand in marriage. But I had no idea what my role was. Whatever dark power he had possessed back in my suburban dining room, where he had made me feel special, was gone. I saw him as he was: a 53-year-old man in clerical garb at a restaurant where, all around us, people his age were out for a romantic dinner. I just wanted to get out of there. Maybe I could have him drop me off at the dive bar where they took my fake ID.

    Then, years later, my mother told me, out of the blue, that the local diocese had a list. "Your name is on it," she said. "It's about Father Bradel."

    I didn't know why there would be such a list, but I told her that he used to kiss me every time I had to entertain him. 

    She put her hand over her heart. "Not Father Bradel!" she said. 

    I decided to notify church officials in the Harrisburg diocese about what had happened with Father Bradel — and to try and find out what list my mother was talking about. I told the priest to whom my call was transferred that I didn't plan to take legal action or want a monetary settlement. I just wanted to make a report. The other end of the line was quiet. "Do you want to know the name of the priest?" I said. "It was Fred Bradel, from Good Shepherd." 

    "He's been dead for several years," the man said, not missing a beat. "So there's nothing we can do about it now."

    I'd somehow expected that the man would need a few minutes to search his records, but he seemed to have the information at his fingertips. "He left the priesthood in 1975 and was laicized in 1977," he continued. "He hasn't been a priest for 28 years."

    I told him I knew that. "I'm calling," I said, "because I'd heard my name is on a list compiled by the diocese."

    "I don't know about any list," he said. "I can assure you he never would have done anything to be on a list." 

    I asked if I could report my experience, for the record. "The diocese has a clinical support counselor you can talk to," he said. 

    "Oh," I said. "So, who are you?" 

    "My role is to be the advocate for the priests." 

    It took me a minute to understand: My call had been forwarded not to a victim's advocate but to the priest in charge of defending the other priests.

    I called back and spoke to the diocese counselor. He took notes; asked questions; and, I remember, promised to pass my report on to the district attorney. And he apologized on behalf of the church. The seriousness with which he treated my account worked a small miracle. It made real what had once been unspeakable. 

    I had long ago lost my faith in the Catholic Church, which had been so meaningful to me. But this man seemed determined to do anything he could to help me heal. 

    "Will you check into whether anyone else reported Father Bradel?" I asked. 

    He called a week later to apologize. He wasn't allowed to talk about other victims.

    Now, thanks to a grand jury in Pennsylvania, there's a real list — and it includes my report to the counselor. My name isn't on it. I'm identified simply as "the survivor" who reported "years of inappropriate behavior." 

    There are several names I recognize in the lengthy report from Pennsylvania: a priest from the parish five miles to the east of mine; a priest from the parish four miles to the west; a priest who taught at my high school. I read the report feeling sick, digesting the accounts of rape, the long list of names with cases involving "indecent behavior" and "child pornography" — and was heartbroken to imagine who among my classmates also were harmed.

    I'm grateful that the attorney general did what the diocese wouldn't. I'm still curious, though, as to whether I'm the only one Father Bradel preyed upon. I hope so. But I doubt it.

    Patricia McCormick is the author of books for young adults, including the novel "Sold."



    7) ICE Detained Man Who Was Driving His Pregnant Wife to a Hospital

    By Jacey Fortin and Sarah Mervosh, August 19, 2018


    Maria del Carmen Venegas gave birth to a son shortly after her husband was arrested.

    A man was driving his pregnant wife to a scheduled cesarean section on Wednesday when immigration officials arrested him — leaving her to drive herself to a hospital and have the baby on her own, according to the woman and the family's legal representative.

    The couple had pulled into a gas station in San Bernardino, Calif., on their way to deliver their child. While they were there, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers came to their car window and asked for identification, said the woman, Maria del Carmen Venegas.

    Her husband, Joel Arrona-Lara, 35, did not have his driver's license with him, and officers arrested him, she said.

    The arrest quickly provoked outrage and fed into a growing anger toward ICE and the Trump administration's sweeping immigration policies, which have expanded who is considered a priority for officers to arrest. In recent months, immigrants have been arrested while delivering a pizza or watering the lawn.

    On Saturday, ICE said in a statement that Mr. Arrona-Lara, a citizen of Mexico, was in the United States illegally. Later, the agency released a second statement saying he was wanted for homicide in his home country. "Mr. Arrona-Lara was brought to ICE's attention due to an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges," the statement said.

    Emilio Amaya, the director of the San Bernardino Community Service Center who is acting as Mr. Arrona-Lara's legal representative, contested ICE's account. He said the paperwork from ICE does not mention homicide.

    "According to the family, he has no criminal history in Mexico, and we did our own search through Mexican channels and we didn't find anything under his name," Mr. Amaya said.

    Mr. Arrona-Lara was being held at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange, Calif. Other than his status as an undocumented immigrant, he has no criminal record in the United States, according to Mr. Amaya.

    No matter what the warrant was for, Mr. Amaya said, that does not explain why officials appeared to disregard Ms. Venegas's medical condition.

    "Even though the officers knew that she was pregnant, they didn't really care and they still proceeded to do the arrest," he said. "So for us, on top of the unjustified arrest is the fact that they compromised the well-being of the child and the wife."

    ICE's statement did not address whether officials knew that Ms. Venegas was about to give birth or did anything to assist her.

    Security video shows Maria del Carmen Venegas visibly upset after her husband was detained by ICE officers at a gas station.

    The agency said that it concentrates on people who "pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security."

    The Trump administration has given immigration officers broad authority to make arrests, and it defines who is a criminal loosely, including anyone who has crossed the border illegally. The administration's stricter policies have led to increased arrests of undocumented immigrants — including some who have been in the United States for years — and the separation of children from families that have crossed into the country through the southern border.

    Both Ms. Venegas and her husband have been in the United States for about a decade, Mr. Amaya said.

    The couple had four children together — now five: While her husband was in custody, Ms. Venegas gave birth to a boy.



    8) Sex Abuse Report Lists a Beloved Pastor, and a Pennsylvania Church Reels

    By Elizabeth Dias, August 18, 2018


    Holy Angels Parish in Pennsylvania. The parish's former pastor, the Rev. John David Crowley, was named in a grand jury report that alleged a range of sexual abuse scandals.

    Everything felt normal until the news alert popped up on Cindy Depretis's cellphone Tuesday afternoon. It was a link to a list of the hundreds of Catholic priests in Pennsylvania accused of abusing children in a bombshell grand jury report. She scrolled to the names of priests near Pittsburgh.

    "I got to the C's," she recalled tearfully as she sat in her office at Holy Angels Parish. Friends started to text her. "Is that our Father Crowley?" She could only force out one word: yes.

    The Rev. John David Crowley for decades had been the hero of Holy Angels, a white clapboard church in southeast Pittsburgh, tucked below the bypass, by the old narrow-gauge railroad running along the creek. He was the pastor there for nearly 34 years, known as one of the most popular priests in the region. Then, in 2003, he abruptly retired.

    This week, the church learned why: Father Crowley had been accused of sexual abuse, including of a minor, and the claim was found to be credible and substantiated. The bishop of Pittsburgh at the time, Donald Wuerl, now a cardinal and the archbishop of Washington, gave Father Crowley the choice to voluntarily retire and quit active ministry, or face removal.

    Father Crowley chose retirement. The families of Holy Angels were kept in the dark. They even protested his departure on his way out.

    Across the country this week, Catholics reeled from the news that Pennsylvania priests had abused more than 1,000 children over decades, and that bishops largely hid their crimes from the public. In the Pittsburgh diocese, which had almost a third of the state's accused priests, Catholics in nearly every parish tried to figure out if the pastors they knew had ever been accused, or had known, of allegations they kept secret.

    Some of the names on the list were no surprise, as some priests had faced public criminal proceedings and were removed from ministry. Other priests had been the subject of rumors. But many, like Father Crowley, had died before their actions were publicly revealed.

    As national anger has boiled over, and as the Vatican insisted to victims that Pope Francis was on their side and dioceses rolled out crisis communications playbooks, the families of Holy Angels have grappled with what to do.

    When asked about Father Crowley at the church this past week, parishioner after parishioner struggled to respond. A man leaned on the railing of the church steps and cried as he remembered how Father Crowley had baptized his children. Women confided that they had been tossing and turning every night, unable to sleep. After long silences, many insisted the allegations just had to be false.

    'You Always Hear Rumors'

    The Rev. Robert J. Ahlin, the current pastor, sat motionless in his suspenders at the parish house the day after the report was released. When he arrived to take over after Father Crowley left, he remembered getting some calls from parishioners wary of the official line that he had chosen to retire.

    "You always hear rumors," Father Ahlin, 74, said. "No one at the time said, 'Father did so-and-so, he was removed.' Whether they had suspicions or not, I don't know."

    A few minutes later, Father Ahlin decided to read the grand jury's findings for the first time. He silently pulled up Page 631 of the massive report, where Father Crowley's case was recorded: A mother and her twin adult daughters, one of whom was 16 at the time of victimization, brought a complaint against Father Crowley in 1992 and again in late 2001.

    An excerpt from the grand jury report listing hundreds of Catholic priests accused of abusing children. Father John David Crowley of Pittsburgh was one.


    Later, an adult man reported that Father Crowley had sexually abused him when he was 11 to 12 years old.

    Father Ahlin looked up, unsure whether to believe the words he read. He wondered how, or even if, he would address the news from the pulpit on Sunday morning, and worried about how his parish would respond. No victim had ever approached him, he said. "It doesn't seem like they pursued any criminal action," he said. "It's kind of, will we ever know?"

    Then, Father Ahlin paged through the report for names of his other friends. He ticked off those he knew, reading each aloud, adding which allegations he thought were likely true, and which he believed were unsubstantiated. He reached more than 40 names before he fell silent.

    Asked if he felt betrayed, Father Ahlin replied simply: "Did Jesus feel let down when Judas took off?"

    Celebrated and Dearly Loved

    After Father Crowley arrived at Holy Angels in 1969, his charisma drew so many people to Mass that they often had to stand outside on the steps, or even down in the streets, because the aisles inside were already full.

    Word got around that if you were an unwed mother and your priest would not let you baptize your baby, or if you wanted to remarry but didn't have the information to get an annulment, you could go to Father Crowley at Holy Angels in a Pittsburgh neighborhood called Hays. "Whatever came to the door, he tried to handle it," Father Ahlin remembered.

    When the parish school got too small to stay open, he bought a school bus to drive children himself to the new school each day.

    In the summer of 1992, a mother and her adult twin daughters came forward and said Father Crowley abused them, one of whom was 16 at the time, according to the report. The Pittsburgh diocese told The New York Times the abuse occurred in 1976. Three months later, Father Crowley was sent for a weeklong mental health evaluation at St. Michael's Community. Evaluators "opined that Crowley was being truthful in his denials" and recommended that he have "outpatient therapeutic support to address insecurities, low self-esteem and obsessive-compulsive tendencies," the report said.

    He returned to his parish.

    Two years later, the church surprised him with a large outdoor party under a tent to celebrate his 40th year as a priest.

    People at Holy Angels like to tell a story of a summer flood in 2001, when heavy rain destroyed many homes in the area. Father Crowley sat on the church steps, watching the water rush through the streets, before turning the church into a hub for the community's cleanup operations.

    Around the same time, out of the spotlight, the mother and her daughters again brought their complaint to the diocese.

    It wasn't until the next year, amid the outcry over the Boston Catholic sex abuse scandal and cover-up, that the diocese referred the allegation to the Allegheny County district attorney, and to the church's review board. By then, the statute of limitations had long expired.

    "The Independent Review Board found the allegation credible and recommended that Father Crowley either be allowed to retire without faculties or, if he refused, that a canonical trial be commenced," the Pittsburgh diocese said in a statement to The Times this week.

    At the time, Nicholas P. Cafardi, a former lawyer for the diocese, heard about the case from friends in the chancery, the diocese's administrative center.

    "He talked to some people in the parish about it," Mr. Cafardi said in an interview. "They wanted to know if I'd be his canon lawyer in defending him."

    Mr. Cafardi declined, citing conflicts of interest. "Crowley denied all charges," he said. "He thought he had been treated unfairly by the bishop."

    Bishop Wuerl allowed Father Crowley to tell his parish that he was voluntarily accepting an early retirement because he was two years shy of 75, the age when priests voluntarily offer to resign, according to the grand jury report.

    "This was permitted, according to Wuerl, to 'protect his [Crowley's] reputation in the widespread community,'" it states.

    Father Crowley privately gave Bishop Wuerl his resignation. Five days later, Father Crowley told his congregation he had decided to retire, effective that week. The people of Holy Angels were so outraged to hear their pastor was leaving, and for no apparent reason, that they staged protests outside the church for weeks. They gathered 2,000 signatures supporting his reinstatement. Local papers covered shouting matches when Bishop Wuerl came to meet angry parishioners.

    "We are of the opinion that Father Crowley and this congregation have been treated with disrespect by the Diocese of Pittsburgh," protesters wrote in a document to the rest of their parish.

    Some rationalized Father Crowley must have left because of his health, as he had diabetes. But others blamed Bishop Wuerl, believing he had forced Father Crowley out for his unorthodox sacramental practices.

    A few months later, Father Crowley's ministerial faculties were formally withdrawn. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's body that safeguards its faith and morals, confirmed that Father Crowley must remain in retirement and not exercise any public ministry.

    In his final sermon on Jan. 12, 2003, Father Crowley offered words that now carry new meaning. "Thank you for entrusting your children to me," he said. "I apologize if I have ever hurt you through neglect or not taking notice, or forgetfulness."

    A parishioner who wrote down the sermon, stored in a file at the parish, added his own reflection: "We have met Christ passing by."

    'I Didn't See Any Proof'

    The church moved on. Father Crowley died in 2006. Holy Angels still keeps a folder of all the condolence letters from his funeral.

    Then came the report this week. Parishioners found themselves frustrated by unanswered questions that challenged their strongest beliefs. Many are inclined to stick by the man they had long trusted, despite the sinful acts he has been accused of.

    Cheryl DePretis, who has been coming to Holy Angels for more than 40 years, finally decided to read the report because she works as the church assistant, and she wanted to know how to answer calls that were coming in. "I didn't see any proof," she said. "I choose to remember him" — her voice trailed off.

    The diocese, which had prepared for months for the report's release, did not reach out to Holy Angels in advance. Some church leaders wish they had had more notice, if only to better prepare to help the traumatized congregation.

    Joe Billock, a longtime parishioner and car salesman, had suspected some other priests he knew might be named in the report, like one from Charleroi, Pa., who he said had shown up at his shop once with pornographic magazines in his vehicle. He, too, had heard rumors about Father Crowley's departure, but said none were related to sexual misconduct.

    Still, the night before the grand jury report was to be released, Mr. Billock said he got a funny feeling. "I just said, 'I bet you Father Crowley will be on the list,'" he said after Mass on Wednesday evening.

    At the Holy Angels crochet circle on Thursday morning, women reflected on the awful week, for them and for the broader church. "I feel they shouldn't have covered it up at the beginning," said Eleanor Martin of the diocese's handling of abuse cases as she made a pom-pom for a purple hat. "Had this come out 30 years ago, there'd not be as much of it."

    That same day, Father Ahlin got a call from a woman who identified herself as one of the victims, and who was distraught. "She felt this was putting her through all that pain again," he said. "That's the first time I've ever heard from her."

    Sunday's services weighed heavily on his mind. "I've been thinking something has to be said," Father Ahlin said. "But I can't even formulate how to even approach it."

    A day earlier, he had questioned the allegations against Father Crowley. After the call, he said he was not sure if he would tell his congregation about his doubts.

    "Given the way she expressed herself," he said, "I'd have to believe what she said."



    9)  New York Sergeant Who Shot Unarmed Man Is Fired Amid Investigation

    By Mihir Zaveri, August 18, 2018


    The site of the off-duty shooting of Thavone Santana by Sgt. Ritchard Blake in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn on Aug. 2. The sergeant was fired on Friday, a police official said.

    A police sergeant who was under investigation in connection with the off-duty shooting of an unarmed man in the face in Brooklyn was fired on Friday, a police official said.

    Moments after the shooting on Aug. 2 in the East New York neighborhood, video surveillance footage captured the sergeant, Ritchard Blake, patting down the man, Thavone Santana, as if looking for a weapon.

    The sergeant then pulled a sheath knife out of his back pocket and dropped it out of its covering beside Mr. Santana. After briefly pacing, Sergeant Blake picked it back up, the video shows.

    Mr. Santana, 21, survived the shooting.

    The surveillance video, which was described by two law enforcement officials and later posted by NBC New York, raised questions about what had happened, and the Brooklyn district attorney's office said it would conduct "an independent and thorough" review.

    A spokesman for the office said on Saturday that the episode remained under investigation but declined to comment further.

    The police official who disclosed the firing did so on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it. Neither the Police Department nor the Sergeants Benevolent Association responded to questions on Saturday, and efforts to reach Sergeant Blake were unsuccessful.

    He had previously told officers that he was worried about the safety of his girlfriend, whose relationship with the two men had been a source of simmering friction between them.

    Around 5 a.m. on the day of the shooting, Sergeant Blake was walking away from the woman's home and headed to work at the 109th Precinct in Queens, law enforcement officials said. Mr. Santana followed and got Sergeant Blake's attention.

    The video shows Sergeant Blake holding his arms out at his sides and talking. Mr. Santana moves closer with one hand in the pocket of his shorts.

    The police gave conflicting accounts of what led to the shooting.

    The Police Department said on Thursday that the sergeant fired because a man pretending to have a gun tried to rob him. A police official later said Mr. Santana had told Sergeant Blake that he had a gun, but not that Mr. Santana had been trying to rob him.

    Sergeant Blake fired his gun twice, hitting Mr. Santana once in the face. He then called 911 to report an off-duty shooting. He was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on modified duty.

    He was already on a form of administrative probation after being charged with assaulting a woman in 2016. He was suspended for 36 days and placed on dismissal probation, according to a New York Daily News article on police discipline published in March. That designation allows officers who have been disciplined to continue to work but gives the police commissioner the power to fire them without a trial during a yearlong probation.

    The spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney's office declined to discuss that case and said it was sealed.

    Ashley Southall contributed reporting.



    10)  As Trump Dismantles Clean Air Rules, an Industry Lawyer Delivers for Ex-Clients

    By Eric Lipton, August 19, 2018


    William Wehrum has been able to push his deregulatory agenda because of a quirk in federal ethics rules that are less restrictive for industry lawyers than for officials who had worked as registered lobbyists.

    WASHINGTON — As a corporate lawyer, William L. Wehrum worked for the better part of a decade to weaken air pollution rules by fighting the Environmental Protection Agency in court on behalf of chemical manufacturers, refineries, oil drillers and coal-burning power plants.

    Now, Mr. Wehrum is about to deliver one of the biggest victories yet for his industry clients — this time from inside the Trump administration as the government's top air pollution official.

    On Tuesday, President Trump is expected to propose a vast rollback of regulations on emissions from coal plants, including many owned by members of a coal-burning trade association that had retained Mr. Wehrumand his firm as recently as last year to push for the changes.

    The proposal strikes at the heart of climate-change regulations adopted by the Obama administration to force change among polluting industries, and follows the relaxation of separate rules governing when power plants must upgrade air pollution equipment. Mr. Wehrum, who has led the E.P.A.'s clean air office since November, also helped deliver the changes in several of those rules.

    The rollbacks are part of the administration's effort to bring regulatory relief to the coal industry, and other major sources of air pollution. But to proponents of a tougher stance on industries that contribute to global warming, Mr. Wehrum is regarded as the single biggest threat inside the E.P.A., with Tuesday's expected announcement to weaken what is known as the Clean Power Plan the most recent evidence of his handiwork.

    "They basically found the most aggressive and knowledgeable fox and said, 'Here are the keys to the henhouse,'" said Bruce Buckheit, an air pollution expert who worked for the Justice Department's Environmental Enforcement Section and as director of the E.P.A.'s air enforcement office under Democratic and Republican presidents.

    Mr. Wehrum has been able to push his deregulatory agenda without running into ethics troubles because of a quirk in federal ethics rules. The rules limit the activities of officials who join the government from industry — but they are less restrictive for lawyers than for officials who had worked as registered lobbyists.

    The end result is that the ethics rules generally allow Mr. Wehrum to help oversee the drafting of policies that broadly benefit the industries or clients he represented in recent years.

    "It is a failing in the rule," said Norman Eisen, a former Obama administration lawyer who wrote the White House ethics code that creates the division between how ex-lawyers and ex-lobbyists are treated. "One is subject to the tougher lobbying restriction, and the other skates through."

    In an interview, Mr. Wehrum said he was following the rules carefully, and even some critics say he generally seems to be obeying the letter of the law. "I am scrupulously complying with my ethical obligations," he said, adding that he signed Mr. Trump's so-called ethics pledge in November, committing himself to honor all such rules.

    A DTE Energy Company power plant in Monroe, Mich. The company was a client of Mr. Wehrum's law firm. He is now at the heart of a rollback in coal emissions.

    Jeffrey R. Holmstead, the lawyer for the electric utility industry who has known Mr. Wehrum for over two decades and who served as his boss at the E.P.A. during the Bush administration, said environmentalists misunderstood Mr. Wehrum and falsely attempted to paint him as a villain.

    "What he really does care about is good regulatory policy," Mr. Holmstead said. "And that means making sure the programs are as efficient and effective as possible so collectively we are not paying more than we need to for the environmental protection that we have and that we need."

    Mr. Wehrum's client list over the last decade is a testament to his clout — and a road map to the potential conflicts as a government official.

    Mr. Wehrum has represented major industrial companies like Koch Industries, the diversified conglomerate that sells everything from petrochemicals to asphalt, and Diageo, one of the world's largest makers of spirits, including Smirnoff vodka and Baileys Irish Cream. His clients have included the industry's largest trade associations: the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the Brick Industry Association and the Utility Air Regulatory Group, whose membership list features coal-burning electric utilities.

    Mr. Wehrum's trip through the revolving door is hardly extraordinary in the Trump administration, where dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers now help oversee the same industries they once represented, including Andrew Wheeler, the acting agency administrator.

    But in few cases have the actions pushed by these just-departed industry executives seemed to offer such rapid and far-reaching benefits to ex-clients, and Mr. Wehrum has taken the steps even as he continues at times to meet privately with them despite federal ethics rules intended to limit such interactions.

    The overlap between Mr. Wehrum's work for the industry and his efforts since he arrived at the E.P.A. is perhaps best illustrated by a 13-page petrochemical industry memo that was shared with the E.P.A. air pollution office a week before Mr. Wehrum was confirmed by the Senate.

    The memo, which detailed a series of "regulatory changes that would be most beneficial to the refining and petrochemical sector," almost reads like a playbook for the 10 months since Mr. Wehrum arrived at the E.P.A. At least three of the major changes on the industry wish list have become or are in the process of becoming official agency policy with the help of Mr. Wehrum and his office.

    The primary author of the memo, written in October, was an industry consultant named Kenneth Weiss, but the document formed the basis of a presentation Mr. Wehrum gave on behalf of his industry clients late last year, an email sent to the E.P.A. said. The memo listed Mr. Wehrum's name at the top, in his capacity as outside counsel to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers association, a group whose executive committee includes corporate officers from Valero EnergyMarathon Petroleum and Chevron.

    The agency has also agreed to no longer "second guess" — the exact wordsused in the industry memo and in the E.P.A. policy change that followed shortly after Mr. Wehrum arrived — air pollution projections by power plants and refineries. The move provoked intense protests among Mr. Wehrum's colleagues at the E.P.A. as it potentially undermines pending enforcement cases, including one prominent case involving DTE Energy of Michigan, a longtime client of Mr. Wehrum's former law firm, Hunton Andrews Kurth.

    A second priority on Mr. Wehrum's industry presentation called for a revision of the E.P.A.'s "project aggregation" policy, which could allow companies to perhaps avoid expensive upgrades to pollution control equipment by not forcing them to consider hazardous air emissions from other nearby factories they own. Such a revision is now underway, Mr. Wehrum announced in April.

    third priority was taken care of by the E.P.A.'s March announcementrevising the "project netting" system the agency uses to evaluate anticipated increases in air pollution that might result from renovations and expansions of factories and power plants. Mr. Wehrum, as an E.P.A. official, called the revision "a common-sense interpretation" of the rules. He did not mention that this was the same change he had advocated as a petrochemical industry lawyer in the memo sent late last year.

    While pushing the various rollbacks, Mr. Wehrum has at times continued to interact with former clients, despite an ethics rule that prohibits former industry lawyers and lobbyists from meeting with former clients in private settings to discuss government-related matters for two years.

    For example, less than a month after he joined the E.P.A., Mr. Wehrum was back at the Pennsylvania Avenue offices of his old law firm to give a presentation to his former client, the Utility Air Regulatory Group, whose membership list features the nation's largest coal-burning electric utilities, like American Electric Power and the Southern Company.

    The topic was an overview of efforts at the E.P.A. to roll back some of the rules Mr. Wehrum and his former law firm had helped this group fight, including the Clean Power Plan, the email records show.

    "Exceeds the E.P.A.'s statutory authority and would be repealed," Mr. Wehrum said of the Clean Power Plan, according to a summary of the presentation, which was among records obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

    John Konkus, an E.P.A. spokesman, said Mr. Wehrum's presence at this event was allowed, despite the ethics ban, because "while it included some former clients," others who attended "were not former clients."

    In the interview, Mr. Wehrum acknowledged that the line between right and wrong was not always clear. For example, he said he had repeatedly sought a definition of what represents a "particular matter involving specific parties," which he would be banned from participating in as a result of the ethics pledge.

    Citing this lack of clarity, Mr. Wehrum since he was confirmed last year has taken the unusual step for a Senate-confirmed political appointee of declining to sign a "recusal letter" that details individual clients and matters he has to stay away from — making it harder to identify when he faces a potential conflict.

    "I have gotten three different interpretations, and what I don't want to do is sign a recusal letter and then have the rules change again," he said.

    Mr. Wehrum, an intense and cerebral lawyer as well as a rail-thin marathon runner — he has run the Boston Marathon in a time of 3 hours 28 minutes — knows E.P.A. air pollution rules well. Raised in Memphis, he moved to Delaware in the late 1980s soon after graduating from college and took a job as an engineer at a chemical plant, eventually attending night school to get a law degree.

    It was while working at the chemical plant — including studying a hydrogen peroxide fire at the plant — that he learned about the burden of responding to the E.P.A.'s complicated regulatory demands.

    The Valero St. Charles Oil Refiner in Norco, La. Just before Mr. Wehrum arrived at the E.P.A., the agency's clean air office was sent a lengthy petrochemical industry memo with his name on it as counsel to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers association, whose includes senior corporate officers from Valero Energy, Marathon Petroleum and Chevron.

    "I was the guy who had to figure out if we needed permits, and would go get permits for the plant," Mr. Wehrum said. "That sort of drives a lot of how I think about this."

    He later moved to Washington and began helping to defend electric utilities and other manufacturers facing E.P.A. regulatory actions. In 2001, when a law partner was named by President George W. Bush to take over the same E.P.A. air-pollution policy office, Mr. Wehrum went with him: He served as a senior lawyer and later acting head of air pollution policy before returning to private practice toward the end of the Bush administration.

    Several changes Mr. Wehrum has helped engineer since returning to the E.P.A. relate to a program known as New Source Review, a provision that since 2000 has forced more $7 billion worth of upgrades at 112 refineries in the United States — and another $116 million in civil penalties, according to petrochemical industry tally. New Source Review has also helped force tens of billions of dollars in air-pollution upgrades over the last two decades at more than 100 coal-burning power plants in the United States, which is why environmentalists credit the program for major reductions in smog nationwide.

    But Mr. Wehrum — like his former clients — considers the program "unnecessarily complicated and confusing," as Mr. Wehrum testified to the House in May.

    Asked if it was wrong for Mr. Wehrum to be pushing an agenda that would clearly benefit his former clients — chipping away at the so-called N.S.R. rule — an E.P.A. spokesman, said in a statement, "N.S.R. reform is part of the Trump administration's regulatory certainty agenda and predates Mr. Wehrum's service in the Trump E.P.A."

    One change was so helpful to the petrochemical industry — making it less likely that its members will be ordered to make major upgrades to manufacturing plants during renovations — that several of the industries top executives were invited to the E.P.A. headquarters in March to celebrate.

    Those present included executives from Marathon and Valero, two oil and gas and refinery companies that were key members of the petrochemical trade association Mr. Wehrum used to represent. Mr. Wehrum had helped write the new policy. But he has decided, at times, to skip ceremonies like this, in a nod to the ethics rules.

    "You can write the memo," joked Mr. Wehrum's chief counsel, David Harlow, who is another former Hunton lawyer, according to people present at the staff meeting where the matter was discussed. "But you can't go to the signing ceremony."

    Environmentalists and former E.P.A. officials say they remain concerned that many of the changes Mr. Wehrum is helping to deliver will hurt the public, including the repeal in January of a 23-year-old E.P.A. policy known as "once in, always in." That policy stipulates that once a major polluting entity, such as a factory or power plant, emits enough pollution to subject it to regulations under the Clean Air Act, it must forever remain subject to those rules — even if a company can show that it has lowered its pollution rates.

    "This reckless decision allows factories to switch off their pollution control systems to save a few dollars, even if that means dumping more toxic air pollution on their neighbors and putting their health at risk," said Eric Schaeffer who spent 12 years at the E.P.A., including a stint as the head of enforcement until he left early in the Bush administration.

    Mr. Wehrum considers the predictions scare mongering. He said the policy adjustments that he and others at the E.P.A. were making could help improve the environment, as companies would be less hesitant to make upgrades to air-pollution equipment.

    Like the marathon runner he is, Mr. Wehrum shows no sign of slowing down.

    "More than anything, I just want to get stuff done," he said.

    Coral Davenport contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.



    11) Hundreds of Reindeer Died by Lightning. Their Carcasses Became a Laboratory.

    By Steph Yin, August 17, 2018


    The carcasses of 300 reindeer on a plateau in Norway may help engender new plant diversity, according to scientists.

    On a chilly day in August 2016, more than 300 reindeer, huddled for warmth, dropped dead on a mountain plateau in Norway. They died by lightning, which coursed through the wet ground, climbed up their legs and fatally jolted their hearts. 

    Their bodies soon became a soup of nutrients and a rich feeding ground for scavengers, which dropped feces packed with seeds all around the carcasses.

    That patch of land now has the potential to spawn new plant diversity from across a broad landscape, Norwegian scientists reported Wednesday in Biology Letters. 

    "From death comes life," said Sam Steyaert, a researcher at the University of South-Eastern Norway and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and an author of the paper.

    When Dr. Steyaert learned of the reindeer die-off, he saw an opportunity to turn a tragedy into a grand natural experiment. 

    He and a group of collaborators started a self-funded project. They named it REINCAR, which was short for reindeer carcasses, but also the start of the word reincarnation.

    That October, the scientists set up their field laboratory. Each visit, they arrived to hundreds of ravens and crows, many smaller birds and the occasional circling eagle or buzzard. Their camera traps captured foxes and wolverines, among other visitors.

    A fox and some birds were captured by a remote camera scavenging the reindeer carcasses.

    The cadavers still bore plenty of flesh but were ballooned from the gases released during decomposition and contained "all kinds of juice — and thousands and thousands of maggots, of course," Dr. Steyaert said.

    There were also piles of feces everywhere. Some droppings, the researchers noticed, were blue and loaded with crowberry seeds.

    From survey plots, the scientists found that fox and bird feces were most concentrated in carrion-dense areas, supporting their suspicion that carcasses were magnets for scavengers. They confirmed in the lab that a large portion of crowberry seeds found in the feces could grow into seedlings. 

    The crowberry plant is a keystone species in the alpine tundra, serving as an important food source to many creatures and influencing nutrient cycles. 

    It's thought that their seedlings, and those of similar plants, require bare, nutrient-dense soil to germinate. 

    Incidentally, "that's exactly what the carcasses are creating," Dr. Steyaert said, explaining that abrupt shifts in soil nutrients and acidity from rotting carrion kills vegetation. 

    Add a bunch of roaming scavengers that bring in a mix of seeds from a wide area, and you basically have "directed seed dispersal to the ideal germination spot," he said.

    Ravens pecking at the remains. Scientists will continue to monitor this die-off site to see if the mix of seeds left in scavengers' feces sprout genetic diversity.

    His team suspects the site will become a hot spot of genetic diversity for plants, as well as nutrients and microbes that scavengers help redistribute.

    Ecologists typically think of carcasses as hyperlocal "decomposition islands," said Jennifer Pechal, an assistant entomology professor at Michigan State University who was not involved in the study. The idea that carcasses can alter biodiversity across a wider landscape is "fascinating" and a "novel perspective," she said. 

    Since mass mortality events are relatively rare (though they may be increasing in frequency), Dr. Steyaert also wants to study individual carcasses elsewhere. Still, he and his collaborators will continue monitoring this die-off site. 

    Over the last couple years, they have watched it evolve. The first spring was the smelliest time, with blowflies swarming everywhere. To deal with the stench, the researchers put menthol cream in their noses.

    By last fall, it was mostly skin and bones, with almost no vegetation to be seen. This summer, there's still skin and bones — but life is starting to return. Sedges and grasses are filling in, including a wavy hairgrass that bears purple flowers and makes the whole patch look pinkish from a distance.

    And just last week, when the researchers visited the site, they noticed a new addition: plenty of crowberry seedlings.



    12) Two U.S. Agents Fired Into Mexico, Killing Teenagers. Only One Faces a Lawsuit.

    By Adam Liptak, August 20, 2018


    A portrait of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, 16, who was killed on a Nogales, Mexico, street along the United States border. An appeals court ruled this month that his mother could sue a Border Patrol agent for violating her son's constitutional rights.

    WASHINGTON — The Constitution should mean the same thing in Arizona as it does in Texas. But federal appeals courts have issued starkly different rulings about whether border guards in those states can be held to account for shootings across the Mexican border that took the lives of two teenagers.

    In a dissent this month, a federal judge in California urged the Supreme Court to resolve the clashing rulings.

    It cannot be, Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote, that guards standing on American soil in Arizona may be sued for cross-border killings but that ones standing in Texas cannot.

    "This is an untenable result," Judge Smith wrote, "and will lead to an uneven administration of the rule of law."

    In the Arizona case, a border guard named Lonnie Swartz, standing on high ground, fired across the border onto a street in Nogales, killing a 16-year-old, José Antonio Elena Rodríguez.

    A divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled this month that José Antonio's mother could sue Mr. Swartz for violating her son's constitutional rights.

    What was described in her lawsuit, Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld wrote for the majority, "is simple and straightforward murder." He added — and this is what divided the two appeals courts — that José Antonio's mother should not need congressional permission to sue.

    The Texas case differed only in the details. There, a border guard named Jesus Mesa Jr. shot a fleeing 15-year-old boy in the head, killing him. The boy, Sergio Hernández Guereca, had been playing with friends in the dry bed of the Rio Grande and was in Mexico when he was struck.

    The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, said Sergio's family could not sue Mr. Mesa.

    "This is not a close case," Judge Edith Jones wrote for the majority in March. Congress could pass a law allowing suits against federal officials by "aliens injured abroad," she said. But without such a law, she wrote, federal courts should not "interfere with the political branches' oversight of national security and foreign affairs."

    The Supreme Court will soon consider whether to hear the Texas case, Hernandez v. Mesa, which has been before the justices once before. In the Arizona case, Rodriguez v. Swartz, a lawyer for Mr. Swartz filed papers last week indicating that he would seek Supreme Court review.

    The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, said Sergio's family could not sue Mr. Mesa.

    "This is not a close case," Judge Edith Jones wrote for the majority in March. Congress could pass a law allowing suits against federal officials by "aliens injured abroad," she said. But without such a law, she wrote, federal courts should not "interfere with the political branches' oversight of national security and foreign affairs."

    The Supreme Court will soon consider whether to hear the Texas case, Hernandez v. Mesa, which has been before the justices once before. In the Arizona case, Rodriguez v. Swartz, a lawyer for Mr. Swartz filed papers last week indicating that he would seek Supreme Court review.

    If the Supreme Court agrees to hear one or both of the cases, the families of the boys may face an uphill fight. And there is little reason to think that Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, would be sympathetic to their arguments.

    In 2015, Judge Kavanaugh, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, joined a decision dismissing a lawsuit filed by an American citizen who said he had suffered months of abuse at the hands of American law enforcement officials in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. In a concurring opinion, Judge Kavanaugh said the plaintiff, Amir Meshal, could not sue the officials for violating his constitutional rights because no statute authorized such suits.

    In 1971, in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, the Supreme Court ruled that such congressional authorization was not always needed for people to sue federal officials for violating their constitutional rights. But the court has grown increasingly uneasy about the decision, which concerned the unconstitutional search of a home in Brooklyn, and it has cautioned that the decision should not lightly be extended to new contexts. The Supreme Court itself has extended the Bivens decision only twice, most recently 38 years ago.

    Judge Kavanaugh wrote that the Bivens decision did not apply in Mr. Meshal's case because it involved "a national security investigation in a foreign country."

    "If I were a member of Congress, I might vote to enact a new tort cause of action to cover a case like Meshal's," he wrote. "But as judges, we do not get to make that decision."

    In the Arizona case, Judge Kleinfeld said that an unprovoked, willful and needless killing warranted extending the Bivens decision to allow a suit from the boy's mother. In the Texas case, Judge Jones wrote that only Congress could make that determination, particularly given the national security and diplomatic concerns at play.

    Both cases are at early stages, and for now judges must accept the version of events offered by the boys' families. They must assume, that is, that the guards shot unarmed boys who posed no threat to them.

    Mr. Swartz, the guard in the Arizona case, also faces criminal charges. In April, a jury in federal court in Tucson found him not guilty of murder but deadlocked on a manslaughter charge. Federal prosecutors have said that they will retry him for manslaughter.

    In the civil suit against Mr. Swartz, his lawyer, Sean C. Chapman, told the Ninth Circuit that José Antonio's "death was tragic."

    "The morality of Agent's Swartz's conduct, however, is not a relevant factor for this court's consideration," Mr. Chapman wrote.

    Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents José Antonio's mother, said the Ninth Circuit's decision "could not have come at a more important time, when this administration is seeking to further militarize the border."

    The government of Mexico, for its part, urged the Supreme Court to hear the Texas case.

    "It is a priority to Mexico to see that the United States has provided adequate means to hold the agents accountable and to compensate the victims," Mexico's brief said. "The United States would expect no less if the situation were reversed and a Mexican government agent had killed a U.S. national."




































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