"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!"















 Donate to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund using the 'Donate' button ***


The spark that lit the most recent rebellion was an announcement by the Haitian Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant that gas, diesel and kerosene prices would be raised by 38-51%.  Haitians took to the streets en-masse across the country.  After just two days, the growing grassroots mobilization forced the government to rescind the gas price increases.  But the protests escalated into a two-day general strike, barricades blocking streets and highways in cities throughout the country.  PM Jack Guy Lafontant resigned but it was too little too late.  The Haitian people are demanding the removal of the US-backed and fraudulently-elected president, Jovenel Moïse.


·        The Jovenel Moïse government's announcement of a double-digit increase in fuel prices, increasing the cost of gas by about $1.20/gallon, sparked the latest protests which began July 6th

·        Government corruption including the theft of $3.8 billion from PetroCaribe by officials - those named include two former prime ministers as well as heads of private firms in Haiti.  

·        Ongoing attacks on Haiti's grassroots majority, including the burning of public markets, targeting market women; government land theft and demolition of homes; teachers not being paid; attacks on student protesters; and the violence of poverty – 59% of Haitians live on less than $2/day, 24.7% on less than $1.25.

·        Ongoing repression.  As of July 6th, independent media on the ground Radio Timoun reported five people killed and many wounded by gunfire by police and government-sponsored paramilitary; more protestors have been killed or injured since.

·        Fourteen years of corrupt government since the 2004 US-backed coup that removed Haiti's first democratically-elected president, much loved Jean/Bertrand Aristide, and imposed a UN/US military occupation.  The massive election fraud that made Jovenel Moïse president in 2017.  Fanmi Lavalas, the party of Aristide and the poor majority, said on July 8th, 2018: "The cauldron of corruption and lies has been boiling non-stop 24 hours a day. The time has come to overturn it, for Haitians to begin to see the light of peace. Haiti is for all Haitians."


·        Independent media including Radio and Tele Timoun have been vital to spread the news of what is actually going on rather than spouting the US Embassy/Haitian government line. 

·        Independent Haitian journalists have increasingly been targeted and some killed for reporting the truth and giving a voice to the people's movement.


Donate to support independent GRASSROOTS MEDIA IN HAITI, so it can continue to share news and information among people in all parts of Haiti, and with the rest of the world.  

Make a tax-deductible donation to the 
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund using the 'Donate' button  via their fiscal sponsor Eastbay Sanctuary Covenant's Paypal

For more info: Haiti Action Committee www.haitisolidarity.net  @HaitiAction1 & on FACEBOOK

Issued by the Global Women's Strike & Women of Color GWS – please donate to HERF & circulate your networks.


sent by Haiti Action Committee




Dangerous far right forces are planning another demonstration at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley on August 5, 2018.

The Berkeley far right mobilization is being organized in conjunction with a far right "Freedom March" in Portland, Oregon, planned for the day before on Saturday, August 4, 2018.  The Portland far right rally has been initiated by a group that was engaged in street fighting in Portland as recently as June 30 of this year. Many far right activists from the Pacific Northwest are planning to first attend the demonstration in Portland on August 4 and then to travel to Berkeley for the demonstration on August 5. Far Right organizations are now threatening to hold additional rallies in Oakland and Berkeley this summer and fall.

These West Coast mobilizations are scheduled to take place one week prior to a  "White Civil Rights Rally" planned for August 12 in Washington, DC. This mobilization will take place on the one-year anniversary of the violent "Unite the Right" demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia when a neo-Nazi murdered anti-racist activist Heather Heyer. Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler is also behind the White Civil Rights Rally this year in DC.

The far right is attempting to reassert itself on the streets of U.S. cities one year after it was exposed for its violence and its neo-nazi sympathies in Charlottesville but was peacefully outnumbered in Boston and the Bay Area.

Solidarity Against Fascism Eastbay (SAFEBay) is organizing a peaceful, non-violent counter protest on Sunday August 5th . The counter protest will start at 2:00 in Ohlone Park (Playground and Greenway) in Berkeley, located across the street from the North Berkeley BART station. At 3:00, some folks and organizations will leave the area and others will march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, in downtown Berkeley, where the far right will be rallying.

Sweep Out the Fascists: A Festival of Resilience

Endorsed by:

Solidarity Against Fascism East Bay (SAFEBay) 

SURJ Bay Area


National Lawyer Guild S.F. Bay Area Chapter

East Bay DSA Socialist Feminist Caucus

DSA Communist Caucus

DSA San Francisco

International Socialist Organization

Movement Generation

Critical Resistance Oakland

John Brown Anti-Klan Committee


Bay Area Queer Antifascist Network

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

Folsom Lake College Campus Antifascist Network

Punks for Progress

Last August (2017), groups of white supremacists, aided by police and politicians, attempted to take over Berkeley's Martin Luther King Jr. Park in order to build a base in the Bay. A crowd of thousands—including students, unionists, faith-based activists, teachers, and other everyday people—was there to confront them. We worked together to shut down the fascists and send them packing. Nationally, we sent a message that hate will not be welcome in the Bay. (Photo essay of 8/27 here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/kellyjohnsonrevelationaryphotography/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1371548832961154)

Once again, a group of white supremacists, Trump supporters, and fascists has announced a rally in downtown Berkeley for August 5, 2018. This event is part of a week-long nationwide "commemoration" of the hateful acts that took place nearly a year ago in Charlottesville, in which DeAndre Harris was beaten and Heather Heyer murdered. It is our duty to loudly and publicly reject their hate and to redouble our efforts in building a truly just and liberatory world. 

We are calling on all members of our community to assemble together to stop white supremacist and state violence from growing. As history demonstrates, regular maintenance is required by people of heart and conscience to shut down white supremacy and fascism, which are foundational violences of this settler-colonial state. We've got to tend to the relationships and values that fuel, nourish, and inspire us to build a vision of collective liberation. 

On August 5, we will gather to maintain a Bay Area free of fascism and white supremacy, sweeping out those that seek to deport, cage, harm, or extinguish members of our communities. Attacks on immigrants, Black and Indigenous people and other people of color, Muslims, the un-housed, queer and trans folks, disabled people, and/or women are becoming more prevalent as fascism reasserts itself in governments, state agencies, and increasingly organized groups across the globe. In the US, law enforcement, ICE and other deportation agents, and the jails and prisons work to remind people that this country was built on Indigenous land, on the backs of enslaved people, and that the prison industrial complex currently functions to maintain racial capitalism. We are reminded of this every time police kill another Black, Brown, and/or trans person in the streets. This country was founded on white supremacy and we must rise up with others around the world in an international movement to resist the fascism of both government and vigilantes. It's time to take out the trash. 

This is a community-wide call for each of us to perform critical community maintenance by removing fascists and white supremacists from our community. This will be a festival of resilience starting in Ohlone Park at 2pm going to MLK park for August 5, 2018. Featuring local artists, activists, musicians, comedians and everyday people. Our rally will send a clear message: "No hate in the Bay."

#TrashtheFash #FashFreeBayArea 

Join SAFEBay on Friday evening (August 3rd at 7:00pm) for and Art Build and Public Forum as we organize and come together to protect our communities. 

Fascists and other far-right racists that are again planning to meet in Berkeley, on August 5th. They're attempting to reassert the far right on the streets of U.S. cities after it was exposed in Charlottesville and outnumbered in Boston and the Bay Area last summer. We will not be silenced or intimidated. The massive demonstrations of last August in Boston and the Bay Area proved that when we come together, we can protect our communities and politically defeat the bigots.

There will be a panel presentation on who these racists and fascists are, why they keep coming to the Bay, and ways to stay safe during that weekend. SafeBay will also talk about the counter-rally planned, and why it's important to show up as a community.

There will be free art supplies for people to create signs and banners for the counter-rally, but please feel free to bring your own too!



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

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

Lafayette Park, Washington D.C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to endorse this protest against racism:




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

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

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,

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



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?

Click here to sign this petition.

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.

Help by adding your name here.

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.

Click here to demand the immediate release of Kevin Johnson from solitary confinement and for the VADOC not to transfer him again out of state.

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.


> Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw 

> Kevin "Rashid" Johnson: The Rising Tide of Hate in Amerika: A Sign of the Times



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).

  • August 16/17, 2018: Memphis, TN
  • September 19/21, 2018: Los Angeles, CA

For more background information, read our recent post "Why is the government soliciting feedback on the draft now?"

Courage to Resist Podcast: The Future of Draft Registration in the United States

We had draft registration resister Edward Hasbrouck on the Courage to Resistpodcast this week to explain what's going on. Edward talks about his own history of going to prison for refusing to register for the draft in 1983, the background on this new federal commission, and addresses liberal arguments in favor of involuntary service. Edward explains:

When you say, "I'm not willing to be drafted", you're saying, "I'm going to make my own choices about which wars we should be fighting", and when you say, "You should submit to the draft", you're saying, "You should let the politicians decide for you."

What's happening right now is that a National Commission … has been appointed to study the question of whether draft registration should be continued, whether it should be expanded to make women, as well as men register for the draft, whether a draft itself should be started, whether there should be some other kind of Compulsory National Service enacted.

The Pentagon would say, and it's true, they don't want a draft. It's not plan A, but it's always been plan B, and it's always been the assumption that if we can't get enough volunteers, if we get in over our head, if we pick a larger fight than we can pursue, we always have that option in our back pocket that, "If not enough people volunteer, we're just going to go go to the draft, go to the benches, and dragoon enough people to fight these wars."

The first real meaningful opportunity for a national debate 

about the draft in decades . . .

Courage to Resist -- Support the Troops Who Refuse to Fight!

484 Lake Park Ave. No. 41, Oakland, CA 94610




Incarceration Nation

Emergency Action Alert:


In October, 2017, the 2 year court monitoring period of the Ashker v. Governor settlement to limit solitary confinement in California expired. Since then, the four drafters of the Agreement to End Hostilities and lead hunger strike negotiators – Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Arturo Castellanos, George Franco, and Todd Ashker, have all been removed from general population and put in solitary in Administrative Segregation Units, based on fabricated information created by staff and/or collaborating "inmate informants." In Todd Ashker's case, he is being isolated "for his own protection," although he does not ask for nor desire to be placed in isolation for this or any reason. Sitawa has since been returned to population, but can still not have visitors.

Please contact CDCr Secretary Scott Kernan and Governor Edmund G. Brown and demand CDCr:

• Immediately release back into general population any of the four lead organizers still held in solitary

• Return other Ashker class members to general population who have been placed in Ad Seg 

• Stop the retaliation against all Ashker class members and offer them meaningful rehabilitation opportunities

Contact Scott Kernan. He prefers mailed letters to 1515 S Street, Sacramento 95811. If you call 916-324-7308, press 0 for the Communications office. Email matthew.westbrook@cdcr.ca.gov and cc: scott.kernan@cdcr.ca.gov

Contact Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.,  c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone: (916) 445-2841Fax: (916) 558-3160; Email: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/

As a result of the administrative reviews established after the second prisoner hunger strike in 2011 and the Ashker settlement of 2015, California's SHU population has decreased from 3923 people in October 2012 to 537 in January 2018.  Returning these four men and many other hunger strikers back to solitary in the form of Ad Seg represents an intentional effort to undermine the Agreement to End Hostilities and the settlement, and return to the lock 'em up mentality of the 1980's.

Sitawa writes: "What many of you on the outside may not know is the long sordid history of CDCr's ISU [Institutional Services Unit]/ IGI [Institutional Gang Investigator]/Green Wall syndicate's [organized groups of guards who act with impunity] pattern and practice, here and throughout its prison system, of retaliating, reprisals, intimidating, harassing, coercing, bad-jacketing [making false entries in prisoner files], setting prisoners up, planting evidence, fabricating and falsifying reports (i.e., state documents), excessive force upon unarmed prisoners, [and] stealing their personal property . . ." 

CDCr officials are targeting the Ashker v. Governor class members to prevent them from being able to organize based on the Agreement to End Hostilities, and to obstruct their peaceful efforts to effect genuine changes - for rehabilitation, returning home, productively contributing to the improvement of their communities, and deterring recidivism.

Please help put a stop to this retaliation with impunity. Contact Kernan and Brown today:

Scott Kernan prefers mailed letters to 1515 S Street, Sacramento 95811. If you call 916-324-7308, press 0 for the Communications office. Email matthew.westbrook@cdcr.ca.gov and cc: scott.kernan@cdcr.ca.gov

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.,  c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone: (916) 445-2841Fax: (916) 558-3160; Email: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/

Read statements from the reps: 

Todd – We stand together so prisoners never have to go through the years of torture we did  (with Open Letter to Gov. Brown, CA legislators and CDCR Secretary Kernan)



"There Was a Crooked Prez"

By Dr. Nayvin Gordon

There was a crooked Prez, and he walked a crooked mile,

He found a crooked lawyer upon a crooked isle,

They bought a crooked election which caught a crooked mission,

And they both lived together in a little crooked prison.

April 28, 2018

"Trumpty Dumpty"

By Dr. Nayvin Gordon

Trumpty Dumpty sat on his wall,

Trumpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the kingpin's forces and all the KKKlansmem

Couldn't put Trumpty together again.

July 25, 2018

Dr. Gordon is a California Family Physician who has written many articles on health and politics.



It is so beautiful to see young people in this country rising up to demand an end to gun violence. But what is Donald Trump's response? Instead of banning assault weapons, he wants to give guns to teachers and militarize our schools. But one of the reasons for mass school shootings is precisely because our schools are already militarized. Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was trained by U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program while he was in high school.

Yesterday, Divest from the War Machine coalition member, Pat Elder, was featured on Democracy Now discussing his recent article about the JROTC in our schools. The JROTC teaches children how to shoot weapons. It is often taught by retired soldiers who have no background in teaching. They are allowed to teach classes that are given at least equal weight as classes taught by certified and trained teachers. We are pulling our children away from classes that expand their minds and putting them in classes that teach them how to be killing machines. The JROTC program costs our schools money. It sends equipment. But, the instructors and facilities must be constructed and paid for by the school.

The JROTC puts our children's futures at risk. Children who participate in JROTC shooting programs are exposed to lead bullets from guns. They are at an increased risk when the shooting ranges are inside. The JROTC program is designed to "put a jump start on your military career." Children are funneled into JROTC to make them compliant and to feed the military with young bodies which are prepared to be assimilated into the war machine. Instead of funneling children into the military, we should be channeling them into jobs that support peace and sustainable development. 

Tell Senator McCain and Representative Thornberry to take the war machine out of our schools! The JROTC program must end immediately. The money should be directed back into classrooms that educate our children.

The Divest from the War Machine campaign is working to remove our money from the hands of companies that make a killing on killing. We must take on the systems that keep fueling war, death, and destruction around the globe. AND, we must take on the systems that are creating an endless cycle of children who are being indoctrinated at vulnerable ages to become the next killing machine.  Don't forget to post this message on Facebook and Twitter.

Onward in divestment,

Ann, Ariel, Brienne, Jodie, Kelly, Kirsten, Mark, Medea, Nancy, Natasha, Paki, Sarah, Sophia and Tighe

P.S. Do you want to do more? Start a campaign to get the JROTC out of your school district or state. Email divest@codepink.org and we'll get you started!



October 20-21, 2018

Cindy Sheehan and the Women's March on the Pentagon

A movement not just a protest

By Whitney Webb

WASHINGTON—In the last few years, arguably the most visible and well-publicized march on the U.S. capital has been the "Women's March," a movement aimed at advocating for legislation and policies promoting women's rights as well as a protest against the misogynistic actions and statements of high-profile U.S. politicians. The second Women's March, which took place this past year, attracted over a million protesters nationwide, with 500,000 estimated to have participated in Los Angeles alone.

However, absent from this women's movement has been a public antiwar voice, as its stated goal of "ending violence" does not include violence produced by the state. The absence of this voice seemed both odd and troubling to legendary peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose iconic protest against the invasion and occupation of Iraq made her a household name for many.

Sheehan was taken aback by how some prominent organizers of this year's Women's March were unwilling to express antiwar positions and argued for excluding the issue of peace entirely from the event and movement as a whole. In an interview with MintPress, Sheehan recounted how a prominent leader of the march had told her, "I appreciate that war is your issue Cindy, but the Women's March will never address the war issue as long as women aren't free."

War is indeed Sheehan's issue and she has been fighting against the U.S.' penchant for war for nearly 13 years. After her son Casey was killed in action while serving in Iraq in 2004, Sheehan drew international media attention for her extended protest in front of the Bush residence in Crawford, Texas, which later served as the launching point for many protests against U.S. military action in Iraq.

Sheehan rejected the notion that women could be "free" without addressing war and empire. She countered the dismissive comment of the march organizer by stating that divorcing peace activism from women's issues "ignored the voices of the women of the world who are being bombed and oppressed by U.S. military occupation."

Indeed, women are directly impacted by war—whether through displacement, the destruction of their homes, kidnapping, or torture. Women also suffer uniquely and differently from men in war as armed conflicts often result in an increase in sexual violence against women.

For example, of the estimated half-a-million civilians killed in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, many of them were women and children. In the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, the number of female casualties has been rising on average over 20 percent every year since 2015. In 2014 alone when Israel attacked Gaza in "Operation Protective Edge," Israeli forces, which receives $10 million in U.S. military aid every day, killed over two thousand Palestinians—half of them were women and children. Many of the casualties were pregnant women, who had been deliberately targeted.

Given the Women's March's apparent rejection of peace activism in its official platform, Sheehan was inspired to organize another Women's March that would address what many women's rights advocates, including Sheehan, believe to be an issue central to promoting women's rights.

Dubbed the "Women's March on the Pentagon," the event is scheduled to take place on October 21—the same date as an iconic antiwar march of the Vietnam era—with a mission aimed at countering the "bipartisan war machine." Though men, women and children are encouraged to attend, the march seeks to highlight women's issues as they relate to the disastrous consequences of war.

The effort of women in confronting the "war machine" will be highlighted at the event, as Sheehan remarked that "women have always tried to confront the war-makers," as the mothers, daughters, sisters and wives of the men and women in the military, as well as those innocent civilians killed in the U.S.' foreign wars. As a result, the push for change needs to come from women, according to Sheehan, because "we [women] are the only ones that can affect [the situation] in a positive way." All that's missing is an organized, antiwar women's movement.

Sheehan noted the march will seek to highlight the direct relationship between peace activism and women's rights, since "no woman is free until all women are free" and such "freedom also includes the freedom from U.S. imperial plunder, murder and aggression"that is part of the daily lives of women living both within and beyond the United States. Raising awareness of how the military-industrial complex negatively affects women everywhere is key, says Sheehan, as "unless there is a sense of international solidarity and a broader base for feminism, then there aren't going to be any solutions to any problems, [certainly not] if we don't stop giving trillions of dollars to the Pentagon."

Sheehan also urged that, even though U.S. military adventurism has long been an issue and the subject of protests, a march to confront the military-industrial complex is more important now than ever: "I'm not alarmist by nature but I feel like the threat of nuclear annihilation is much closer than it has been for a long time," adding that, despite the assertion of some in the current administration and U.S. military, "there is no such thing as 'limited' nuclear war." This makes "the need to get out in massive numbers" and march against this more imperative than ever.

Sheehan also noted that Trump's presidency has helped to make the Pentagon's influence on U.S. politics more obvious by bringing it to the forefront: "Even though militarism had been under wraps [under previous presidents], Trump has made very obvious the fact that he has given control of foreign policy to the 'generals.'"

Indeed, as MintPress has reported on several occasions, the Pentagon—beginning in March of last year—has been given the freedom to "engage the enemy" at will, without the oversight of the executive branch or Congress. As a result, the deaths of innocent civilians abroad as a consequence of U.S. military action has spiked. While opposing Trump is not the focus of the march, Sheehan opined that Trump's war-powers giveaway to the Pentagon, as well as his unpopularity, have helped to spark widespread interest in the event.

Different wings of the same warbird

Sheehan has rejected accusations that the march is partisan, as it is, by nature, focused on confronting the bipartisan nature of the military-industrial complex. She told MintPress that she has recently come under pressure owing to the march's proximity to the 2018 midterm elections—as some have ironically accused the march's bipartisan focus as "trying to harm the chances of the Democrats" in the ensuing electoral contest.

In response, Sheehan stated that: 

"Democrats and Republicans are different wings of the same warbird. We are protesting militarism and imperialism. The march is nonpartisan in nature because both parties are equally complicit. We have to end wars for the planet and for the future. I could really care less who wins in November."

She also noted that even when the Democrats were in power under Obama, nothing was done to change the government's militarism nor to address the host of issues that events like the Women's March have claimed to champion.

"We just got finished with eight years of a Democratic regime," Sheehan told MintPress. "For two of those years, they had complete control of Congress and the presidency and a [filibuster-proof] majority in the Senate and they did nothing" productive except to help "expand the war machine." She also emphasized that this march is in no way a "get out the vote" march for any political party.

Even though planning began less than a month ago, support has been pouring in for the march since it was first announced on Sheehan's website, Cindy Sheehan Soapbox. Encouraged by the amount of interest already received, Sheehan is busy working with activists to organize the events and will be taking her first organizing trip to the east coast in April of this year. 

In addition, those who are unable to travel to Washington are encouraged to participate in any number of solidarity protests that will be planned to take place around the world or to plan and attend rallies in front of U.S. embassies, military installations, and the corporate headquarters of war profiteers.

Early endorsers of the event include journalists Abby Martin, Mnar Muhawesh and Margaret Kimberley; Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly; FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley; and U.S. politicians like former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Activist groups that have pledged their support include CodePink, United National Antiwar Coalition, Answer Coalition, Women's EcoPeace and World Beyond War.

Though October is eight months away, Sheehan has high hopes for the march. More than anything else, though, she hopes that the event will give birth to a "real revolutionary women's movement that recognizes the emancipation and liberation of all peoples—and that means [freeing] all people from war and empire, which is the biggest crime against humanity and against this planet." By building "a movement and not just a protest," the event's impact will not only be long-lasting, but grow into a force that could meaningfully challenge the U.S. military-industrial complex that threatens us all. God knows the world needs it.

For those eager to help the march, you can help spread the word through social media by joining the march's Facebook page or following the march'sTwitter account, as well as by word of mouth. In addition, supporting independent media outlets—such as MintPress, which will be reporting on the march—can help keep you and others informed as October approaches.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer forMintPress News who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, theAnti-Media, and21st Century Wire among others. She currently lives in Southern Chile.

MPN News, February 20, 2018






Major George Tillery




April 25, 2018-- The arrest of two young men in Starbucks for the crime of "sitting while black," and the four years prison sentence to rapper Meek Mill for a minor parole violation are racist outrages in Philadelphia, PA that made national news in the past weeks. Yesterday Meek Mills was released on bail after a high profile defense campaign and a Pa Supreme Court decision citing evidence his conviction was based solely on a cop's false testimony.

These events underscore the racism, frame-up, corruption and brutality at the core of the criminal injustice system. Pennsylvania "lifer" Major Tillery's fight for freedom puts a spotlight on the conviction of innocent men with no evidence except the lying testimony of jailhouse snitches who have been coerced and given favors by cops and prosecutors.

Sex for Lies and Manufactured Testimony

For thirty-five years Major Tillery has fought against his 1983 arrest, then conviction and sentence of life imprisonment without parole for an unsolved 1976 pool hall murder and assault. Major Tillery's defense has always been his innocence. The police and prosecution knew Tillery did not commit these crimes. Jailhouse informant Emanuel Claitt gave lying testimony that Tillery was one of the shooters.

Homicide detectives and prosecutors threatened Claitt with a false unrelated murder charge, and induced him to lie with promises of little or no jail time on over twenty pending felonies, and being released from jail despite a parole violation. In addition, homicide detectives arranged for Claitt, while in custody, to have private sexual liaisons with his girlfriends in police interview rooms.

In May and June 2016, Emanuel Claitt gave sworn statements that his testimony was a total lie, and that the homicide cops and the prosecutors told him what to say and coached him before trial. Not only was he coerced to lie that Major Tillery was a shooter, but to lie and claim there were no plea deals made in exchange for his testimony. He provided the information about the specific homicide detectives and prosecutors involved in manufacturing his testimony and details about being allowed "sex for lies". In August 2016, Claitt reaffirmed his sworn statements in a videotape, posted on YouTube and on JusticeforMajorTillery.org.

Without the coerced and false testimony of Claitt there was no evidence against Major Tillery. There were no ballistics or any other physical evidence linking him to the shootings. The surviving victim's statement naming others as the shooters was not allowed into evidence.

The trial took place in May 1985 during the last days of the siege and firebombing of the MOVE family Osage Avenue home in Philadelphia that killed 13 Black people, including 5 children. The prosecution claimed that Major Tillery was part of an organized crime group, and falsely described it as run by the Nation of Islam. This prejudiced and inflamed the majority white jury against Tillery, to make up for the absence of any evidence that Tillery was involved in the shootings.

This was a frame-up conviction from top to bottom. Claitt was the sole or primary witness in five other murder cases in the early 1980s. Coercing and inducing jailhouse informants to falsely testify is a standard routine in criminal prosecutions. It goes hand in hand with prosecutors suppressing favorable evidence from the defense.

Major Tillery has filed a petition based on his actual innocence to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Larry Krasner's Conviction Review Unit. A full review and investigation should lead to reversal of Major Tillery's conviction. He also asks that the DA's office to release the full police and prosecution files on his case under the new  "open files" policy. In the meantime, Major Tillery continues his own investigation. He needs your support.

Major Tillery has Fought his Conviction and Advocated for Other Prisoners for over 30 Years

The Pennsylvania courts have rejected three rounds of appeals challenging Major Tillery's conviction based on his innocence, the prosecution's intentional presentation of false evidence against him and his trial attorney's conflict of interest. On June 15, 2016 Major Tillery filed a new post-conviction petition based on the same evidence now in the petition to the District Attorney's Conviction Review Unit. Despite the written and video-taped statements from Emanuel Claitt that that his testimony against Major Tillery was a lie and the result of police and prosecutorial misconduct, Judge Leon Tucker dismissed Major Tillery's petition as "untimely" without even holding a hearing. Major Tillery appealed that dismissal and the appeal is pending in the Superior Court.

During the decades of imprisonment Tillery has advocated for other prisoners challenging solitary confinement, lack of medical and mental health care and the inhumane conditions of imprisonment. In 1990, he won the lawsuit, Tillery v. Owens, that forced the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) to end double celling (4 men to a small cell) at SCI Pittsburgh, which later resulted in the closing and then "renovation" of that prison.

Three years ago Major Tillery stood up for political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and demanded prison Superintendent John Kerestes get Mumia to a hospital because "Mumia is dying."  For defending Mumia and advocating for medical treatment for himself and others, prison officials retaliated. Tillery was shipped out of SCI Mahanoy, where Mumia was also held, to maximum security SCI Frackville and then set-up for a prison violation and a disciplinary penalty of months in solitary confinement. See, Messing with Major by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Major Tillery's federal lawsuit against the DOC for that retaliation is being litigated. Major Tillery continues as an advocate for all prisoners. He is fighting to get the DOC to establish a program for elderly prisoners.

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:

Well-known criminal defense attorney Stephen Patrizio represents Major pro bonoin challenging his conviction. More investigation is underway. We can't count on the district attorney's office to make the findings of misconduct against the police detectives and prosecutors who framed Major without continuing to dig up the evidence.

Major Tillery is now 67 years old. He's done hard time, imprisoned for almost 35 years, some 20 years in solitary confinement in max prisons for a crime he did not commit. He recently won hepatitis C treatment, denied to him for a decade by the DOC. He has severe liver problems as well as arthritis and rheumatism, back problems, and a continuing itchy skin rash. Within the past couple of weeks he was diagnosed with an extremely high heartbeat and is getting treatment.

Major Tillery does not want to die in prison. He and his family, daughters, sons and grandchildren are fighting to get him home. The newly filed petition for Conviction Review to the Philadelphia District Attorney's office lays out the evidence Major Tillery has uncovered, evidence suppressed by the prosecution through all these years he has been imprisoned and brought legal challenges into court. It is time for the District Attorney's to act on the fact that Major Tillery is innocent and was framed by police detectives and prosecutors who manufactured the evidence to convict him. Major Tillery's conviction should be vacated and he should be freed.

Major Tillery and family


    Financial Support—Tillery's investigation is ongoing. He badly needs funds to fight for his freedom.

    Go to JPay.com;

    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:

    The Conviction Review Unit should investigate Major Tillery's case. He is innocent. The only evidence at trial was from lying jail house informants who now admit it was false.

    Call: 215-686-8000 or

    Write to:

    Major Tillery AM 9786

    SCI Frackville

    1111 Altamont Blvd.

    Frackville, PA 17931

    For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org


    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com

    Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com



    Free Leonard Peltier!

    On my 43rd year in prison I yearn to hug my grandchildren.

    By Leonard Peltier

    Art by Leonard Peltier

    Write to:

    Leonard Peltier 89637-132 

    USP Coleman I 

    P.O. Box 1033 

    Coleman, FL 33521

    Donations can be made on Leonard's behalf to the ILPD national office, 116 W. Osborne Ave, Tampa, FL 33603



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



    Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 

    Charity for the Wealthy!

    GOP Tax Plan Would Give 15 of America's Largest Corporations a $236B Tax Cut: Report

    By Jake Johnson, December 18, 2017







    1) A Migrant Boy Rejoins His Mother, but He's Not the Same

    By Miriam Jordan, July 31, 2018


    Thiago often becomes anxious when his mother, Ana Carolina Fernandes, is out of his sight.

    PHILADELPHIA — Before they were separated at the southwest border, Ana Carolina Fernandes's 5-year-old son loved playing with the yellow, impish Minion characters from the "Despicable Me" movies. Now his favorite game is patting down and shackling "migrants" with plastic cuffs.

    After being separated from his mother for 50 days, Thiago isn't the same boy who was taken away from her by Border Patrol agents when they arrived in the United States from Brazil, Ms. Fernandes said last week.

    When they first got home after being reunited, the boy — whom she hadn't nursed in years — pleaded to be breast-fed. When visitors showed up at the family's new home in Philadelphia, he crouched behind the sofa.

    "He's been like that since I got him back," Ms. Fernandes said. "He doesn't want to talk to anyone."

    Thiago is among nearly 3,000 children who were forcibly removed from a parent at the border this spring as part of the Trump administration's new "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. After a national backlash, President Trump ended family separations on June 20, and more than 1,800 separated children have been reunited with their parents over the past few weeks.

    But many of the children released to their parents are exhibiting signs of anxiety, introversion, regression and other mental health issues, according to reports from lawyers, immigrant advocates and volunteers working with reunited families.

    "Our volunteers are seeing the significant and real toll that these traumatic separations have had on these children's and these families' lives, which persist even after reunification," said Joanna Franchini, who is coordinating a national network of volunteers working with migrant children and their parents called Together & Free.

    A 3-year-old boy who was separated from his mother has been pretending to handcuff and vaccinate people around him, behavior he almost certainly witnessed in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, according to those working with him. A pair of young siblings burst into tears when they spotted police officers on the street.

    Most children who are experiencing problems so far display acute anxiety around routines that separate them briefly from their parents, such as when the adult bathes or goes into another room, said those who are monitoring these reports.

    "These kids don't want to be without their mothers; it triggers a feeling of abandonment, or that their mother will be taken away from them," said Luana Biagini, a paralegal who has been working with reunited Brazilian families.

    "I have mothers complaining that their child was more outgoing and talkative, and now they are quiet and unresponsive. Some take a while to process information or a situation, and Mom has to say, 'Hey, hey wake up,''' said Ms. Biagini, who works at the Jeff Goldman law firm in Boston.

    The recent round of separations was hard on children in part because the parents themselves were so traumatized, according to those who have worked with the families. In some cases, children were torn from their parents' arms amid tears and pleas. Other children appear to have been duped — told they were being taken to play with other children but never returned to the parent.

    Often, parent and child were prevented from communicating for weeks or longer. In limbo and confused, many children likely internalized the separation as a punishment, experts say.

    Decades of research have concluded that children traumatically separated from their parents have a high likelihood of developing emotional problems, cognitive delays and long-term trauma. More recent studies have found that separation can impair memory and normal production of cortisol, a hormone produced in response to stress.

    "There is no greater threat to a child's emotional well-being than being separated from a primary caregiver. Even if it was for a short period, for a child, that's an eternity," said Johanna Bick, a psychology professor at the University of Houston who studies adverse experiences in childhood.

    Factors such as how long a parent and child were apart, how emotionally fraught and abrupt their split-up was and the difficulty of the family's journey through Mexico can all influence the long-term outcome for separated children.

    Responsive parenting, professional intervention and other steps can act as buffers that mitigate the trauma.

    "The bad news is that the first few years of life are a sensitive period of brain development; what happens can have dramatic impact later," said Ms. Bick, whose research has focused on children placed in foster care and institutions. "The good news is that children are resilient, and early intervention can benefit them."

    The Trump administration placed separated children in about 100 shelters, often hundreds of miles away from their parents. While the basic needs of young children were met in the shelters, the environment was more restrictive than it was nurturing. For safety reasons, children were not permitted to touch each other. Staff members in most shelters were allowed to hold the youngest children, age 4 and under, but instructed to keep older children at arm's length.

    A small share of children, about 10 percent of those removed from a parent, were placed with a foster family. But one foster family often takes in several children, making it difficult for any one to receive personal attention.

    Asked if he got hugs from his foster family, Thiago wagged his finger "no," and then softly said, "They didn't like me."

    Yet returning to a loving parent can also be painful.

    "Kids differ in the way they respond, but it is naïve to think that these reunions could be joyful," said Oliver Lindhiem, a clinical psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh who has researched children who experienced separation. "Things don't go back to the way they were."

    After prolonged separation, he said, children often swing between being withdrawn and clingy.

    Thiago and his mother were apprehended by the Border Patrol in New Mexico on May 22. The next day, officers informed Ms. Fernandes and other Brazilian mothers detained at the same border facility that their children would be removed from them. Thiago cried himself to sleep when his mother broke the news to him. Another boy had a panic attack and had to be hospitalized.

    "When the officer came for Thiago, he had to carry him in his arms because he was so sleepy," Ms. Fernandes said. "Then he began to cry."

    About four days later, Ms. Fernandes, who had been transferred to a federal prison, was summoned to take a phone call. A woman on the line informed her that Thiago had shut down. He refused to eat. He wouldn't bathe.

    Thiago was put on the phone, sobbing uncontrollably. She urged her son to eat. She assured him that they would be together soon.

    But several weeks passed before mother and child would speak again. Ms. Fernandes had no idea that Thiago had been flown to Los Angeles and placed with a foster family.

    After posting bond and being released from detention on June 10, Ms. Fernandes was handed a toll-free number to locate her son. She called the number immediately after arriving in Philadelphia, where she moved in with relatives, but she had to have help from a Boston lawyer, Jesse Bless, to get Thiago released.

    It didn't happen until July 13. When she spotted her son at baggage claim at the airport, Ms. Fernandes said, she ran toward him, her heart racing. "I cried and hugged him — but he didn't even care. He stood there frozen," she recalled.

    When Thiago first spoke, he asked to talk to his grandmother in Brazil and made the first of what would be several calls a day by WhatsApp.

    That night, he approached his mother's breasts, wanting to nurse. Figuring it would soothe him, Ms. Fernandes gave him a baby bottle with milk, a comfort which soon turned into a habit.

    As time has passed, Thiago is still sometimes moody and aloof, dashing into the closet suddenly to avoid interaction.

    But other times, he lets down his guard.

    At a Brazilian restaurant, he was excited by the desserts in a display case and later dug into a flan while watching "Peppa Pig" cartoons on a cellphone.

    But when his mother disappeared momentarily, he became antsy and frightened. "Where's my mom?" he asked repeatedly, his eyes darting around the room. On her return, Thiago asked why she had taken so long.

    Later, assuming the air of a cool cop, he donned plastic green shades, shoved a plastic gun in his shorts and swaggered toward his red bicycle with training wheels. He cackled with glee as he raced his 8-year-old relative Rogerio to a playground, where he fearlessly dangled from a jungle gym and swung from a rope.

    He pleaded to go to the community swimming pool on the edge of the park, and Ms. Fernandes signed Thiago and Rogerio up for the last two spots in a free swim class.

    But on the first day of lessons, Thiago bolted from the pool as soon as the instructor approached him.

    Ms. Fernandes said she is thinking of finding a therapist for her son, because whatever is wrong, it does not seem to be quickly going away. "My son used to be carefree," she said. "He wasn't this way."



    2) How One Agency Built a Multimillion-Dollar Business in Migrant Children

    By Liz Robbins, July 31, 2018


    A group of children thought to have been taken from their parents at the Southwest border played soccer near the West Harlem location of the Cayuga Centers child welfare agency.Credit

    When 17-year-old Destani Williams ran away from an upstate New York residential treatment program in May 2017 and was found dead a week later, it was but the latest in a string of troubling incidents at Cayuga Centers, a 166-year-old child-welfare agency.

    In the year leading up to her death, three workers were arrested on charges of abuse, and the agency was sued for negligence as a result. The local police in Auburn, N.Y., complained about hundreds of emergency calls to deal with runaway residents and violent incidents on the campus, which included residents injuring police officers, throwing chairs through windows and wielding shards of glass to cut staff members.

    "It seems that Cayuga Centers has evolved into a business whose priority is making money as opposed to a family service that helps youth meet the challenges of life," Officer Joseph Villano, the president of the local police union, wrote in August 2017 to the agency's board of trustees in a letter that was made public.

    But by then, Cayuga Centers was far along in its transition from a modest nonprofit specializing in residential programs in the Finger Lakes region, first into an agency providing foster care services in New York City and beyond, and then into the country's largest provider of foster care homes for unaccompanied minors — migrant children who had come to the U.S. border alone.

    In 2013, the year before it first signed a contract with the federal government to provide foster care for migrant children, Cayuga Centers had a $1.1 million deficit. These days, it operates in three states, with $48.7 million in annual revenue in fiscal 2017. The bulk of that money has come from the federal government — a total of $123 million since 2014, including $29.5 million since May, in an apparent rush to increase its capacity to deal with the children entering from the Southwest border who had been separated from their parents as part of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy.

    In June, it was revealed that Cayuga was caring for more than 300 of those children in New York City.

    City and federal officials say they have had no major problems with Cayuga Centers' work in foster care and have plans to expand to accommodate more children.

    But an investigation into Cayuga's history found that as the agency was shifting its focus to working for the federal government, problems were festering at its upstate campus. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the office charged with the care of unaccompanied minors, declined to say whether HHS knew about the issues upstate as it kept pouring money into contracts with Cayuga.

    A growing number of the young people being placed at its upstate campus had serious behavioral issues, which earned Cayuga more money per child, but also presented more problems for which the staff was ill-prepared, according to former employees. Staff turnover accelerated, leaving less-experienced employees to care for residents.

    Some county caseworkers became reluctant to place children with Cayuga because of its poor reputation for safety, a former employee said. The beds were not being filled, and with losses of $2 million, Edward Myers Hayes, 65, the chief executive, closed the residential campus in February, laying off 120 workers. He said it was a business decision that had nothing to do with focusing on the immigrant program. "We had no idea that it would grow," Mr. Hayes said in an interview.

    "It's not a bad program for the agency to do fiscally," Mr. Hayes said of providing foster care for unaccompanied minors, then added, "I think we all would tell you that we would gladly wave goodbye to the contract tomorrow if it meant that the root problems — poverty and violence and victimization in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — were solved."

    Growing Problems

    The agency had the humblest of beginnings — as the Cayuga Asylum for Destitute Children, an orphanage that opened in 1852 at the tip of Owasco Lake in Auburn.

    A century later, Cayuga was operating group residential programs for troubled teens, many referred by state family courts, on its campus there. In the 1990s, it also offered a community-based program — services to families to keep their children out of foster care — and another for people with developmental disabilities.

    Mr. Hayes, who has a master's in public administration, took over Cayuga in 1995, and made his ambitions for expansion clear in an interview with the local paper, The Citizen. "What are other people doing and how do we get that?" he said.

    In 2002, the agency began offering foster care upstate, in which children were placed with families, rather than living in residential centers, and they went to public schools. It expanded that foster care model to the Bronx in 2003, and later to Florida and Delaware.

    Young girls cover their faces as they enter Cayuga Centers' West Harlem location, where many children separated from their parents at the border were part of the foster care program.

    But even as Cayuga was seeking to broaden its reach, the residential program in Auburn, which included a drug recovery program for some of the teenagers, was facing problems. From 2013 to 2018, the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, a state oversight agency, recorded 164 allegations of abuse and neglect at Cayuga, with 54 claims substantiated.

    By 2016, the agency, which could accommodate 53 young people at a time in four residential buildings, had shifted away from its youth drug recovery programs and began bringing in more difficult-to-place children. The "enhanced" daily rate the state paid Cayuga to care for them was $818, state records show.

    In August of that year, three employees were arrested on charges of dragging a 13-year-old resident across the floor, according to a Justice Center report. Two of the employees physically restrained the victim for 25 minutes by lying on top of her, and then falsified records of the incident, the report said. The employees pleaded guilty to lesser charges and did not do jail time, court records show. All three were fired, and a lawsuit against Cayuga Centers is pending.

    That same year, during a construction project at the agency's headquarters in Auburn, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Cayuga had improperly removed asbestos and four people were exposed to it, violations it deemed "serious." It fined the agency $8,016.75.

    As word spread among county caseworkers about conditions on campus, they avoided sending children there. "They were concerned with the lack of programming and the lack of safety on the campus," said Sue Walsh, a former intake specialist at Cayuga, whose job was to solicit referrals.

    Officer Villano of the Auburn police said that Cayuga Centers treated the police like its own personal security staff. He said officers were constantly called to the campus to investigate violent incidents. Runaways were bolting at an alarming rate, Mr. Villano said: 515 calls from 2014 to 2017.

    Mr. Hayes noted that because Cayuga was designated a nonsecure residential program, the doors were not locked from the inside.

    "They didn't have the trained staff to deal with the individuals they had there," Mr. Villano said.

    By last summer, he and his police force had enough, writing to Cayuga's board of directors, "They are in over their head and everyone else is paying the price."

    Staff turnover is always high when dealing with hard-to-place children in residential programs, social welfare officials say. But to John Henry, a former agency trainer who left Cayuga in 2015, the turnover was fed by the lack of emotional or educational support for staff members after their initial training.

    "I walked away after 27 years because I was tired of seeing good people, people I was really rooting for, get chewed up and spit out," Mr. Henry said.

    The problem, he said, originated in the operating philosophy that Mr. Hayes, the executive director, reiterated: "Ready. Fire. Aim."

    The motto was supposed to inspire staff to be entrepreneurial and to seize opportunities. But when it came to dealing with young people's lives, Mr. Henry said, it was irresponsible. "You're going into something unprepared," he said.

    But it was hard for employees to question Mr. Hayes for fear of being fired, Mr. Henry said, adding that the chief executive's management style was one of "intimidation and bullying."

    "Yeah, I'm demanding," Mr. Hayes said. "But I think I've treated people fairly."

    Then came the death of the teenager, Destani Williams. Destani had already run away weeks earlier from the female-only residence on the Cayuga campus. One night in mid-May, when the residence was staffed with less-experienced employees, she ran away with another resident, Morgan Eppinger. A week later, Destani was brought to a hospital in the town of Dunkirk, N.Y., 170 miles away, where she was pronounced dead.

    The Erie County Medical Examiner said it was not authorized to reveal the cause of death. The police said an investigation is still pending. Her grandmother, Mamie Harris, 80, said in an interview from Rochester that she still had not heard from Cayuga Centers about how Destani died. "They were supposed to help her," Ms. Harris said.

    The Justice Center conducted an investigation, but said it could not comment on its findings because of a state privacy law.

    "The state investigated this situation thoroughly and found that the agency did not have responsibility," Mr. Hayes said, and added that even he did not know the cause of death.

    Mr. Hayes said that other residential centers face similar challenges, which state officials acknowledged. "It's hard work and we're dealing with very damaged children," he said.

    Shifting to Foster Care

    Caring for migrant children has proved less complicated for the agency because they live in foster homes until they can be placed with sponsors or relatives — generally for a few months or less. The children spend their days at one of the agency's centers where they receive educational instruction and clinical services.

    After starting with state foster care, in 2013, Cayuga responded to a request for proposals from the federal government, which was looking for care for unaccompanied minors who had been coming across the border in increasing numbers, by saying it could provide foster care for 48 children. In 2014, the government raised that number and signed a deal for 300 placements with Cayuga.

    According to Cayuga's most recent tax filings, from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, the agency could care for about 400 children at a time; they served approximately 1,720 children over the course of the year. Cayuga received more than $28 million in governmental grants that year, for an average of about $16,000 per child, with the money allotted to building costs like rent, foster family payments, clothing, food, educational programming and medical care.

    In 2016, the agency tried to get into the business of running a residential shelter for the federal government, when Mr. Hayes jumped on an opportunity to operate a temporary shelter outside of Dallas. But the local juvenile justice board voted against it because it did not want to house undocumented immigrant children there.

    State welfare officials for both Florida and Delaware said that there were no allegations of abuse or neglect submitted for Cayuga's foster care programs in those states. Marisa Kaufman, a spokeswoman for New York's Administration for Children's Services, said, "Cayuga's rate of maltreatment in foster homes is in line with the systemwide average." According to city statistics, about 1 percent to 2 percent of children in the system have been the subject of a substantiated abuse or neglect allegation.

    A.C.S. says it is helping the agency prepare to expand its program in the city.

    Cayuga said it could not disclose information about its program for unaccompanied minors — not even the number of children in its care — citing the demands of its contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the federal agency that oversees the care of unaccompanied minors.

    When asked about its monitoring of Cayuga, the spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, Kenneth Wolfe, said that there had been three "significant incident reports" involving the agency since December, but said he could not disclose the details. All three received an "appropriate and thorough response," enabling Cayuga to be "compliant," he said.

    Separated Children

    Though Cayuga's contract called for it to provide 600 placements this spring, administrators said they did not realize they were receiving children separated from their parents, as opposed to children who came to the border unaccompanied, until they arrived in New York. In those first few weeks, the agency seemed overwhelmed, according to lawyers visiting the center.

    "When I first realized that there were separated children that we were taking, I was concerned that people were enabling it to happen," said David Connelly, the chairman of the board of Cayuga Centers. But he said he believed that his agency could provide a humane solution to the crisis, "The important thing is that these children are not warehoused — and that we are not warehousing them."

    Even as children were arriving, Cayuga Centers continued to advertise for more foster families and for staff, holding weekly on-the-spot job interviews. Separately, it has put out notices requesting bilingual foster families, advertising in English and Spanish the $1,000 a month per child in tax-free payments foster families could receive.

    Every morning, cars roll up to its two centers, one in East Harlem and another on 125th Street near Broadway, dropping children off for day programs. At night and on weekends, the children stay with foster families, as many as eight to a house, often sleeping in bunk beds. During the day, the children can be seen near the 125th Street center, playing soccer and other games on the grounds of Manhattanville Houses.

    Many of the separated children have now left Cayuga's care. In interviews, a dozen separated children ages 5 to 17 and some parents generally praised the treatment received while in Cayuga's care. The foster homes were mostly in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan, with Spanish-speaking foster parents, many of them Dominican.

    Yolany Padilla, from Honduras, said her 6-year-old son, Jelsin, went to performances with his foster mother, a professional singer of traditional Dominican music, and danced bachata with her and the several other foster children living at her home.

    But Jefferson Che Pop, also 6, from an indigenous village in Guatemala, was returned to his father, Hermelindo Che Coc, with a rash on both arms, his stomach and back, and a bruise above his eye that he said he had received when he had fallen out of bed, his father said. Mr. Che Coc said in a telephone interview that he did not blame Cayuga Centers or the foster family for his son's physical condition. "I thought I would never see him again," he said.

    Meanwhile, the federal government has asked Cayuga to increase its capacity to 900 children in the next month, said Alphonso David, the counsel for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who said all agencies were required to report an increase to the state. Cayuga had not yet done that, so it was unclear, Mr. David said, whether it would still be receiving unaccompanied children coming from the border in the coming weeks.

    And even despite the millions of dollars in government grants it received to care for these children, it is still soliciting donations through an Amazon Wish List for items for the children: backpacks, coloring books, crayons, jump ropes, lunchboxes, art supplies, a portable badminton net and other sporting equipment. A link on the Cayuga website allowed the public to donate through PayPal.

    Annie Correal and Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting; Susan Beachy contributed research.



    3) 'Global Greening' Sounds Good. In the Long Run, It's Terrible.

    By Carl Zimmer, July 30, 2018


    Plant growth is increasing because of rising carbon dioxide. But plants return carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at night, in a process called respiration.

    "Global greening" sounds lovely, doesn't it?

    Plants need carbon dioxide to grow, and we are now emitting 40 billion tons of it into the atmosphere each year. A number of small studies have suggested that humans actually are contributing to an increase in photosynthesis across the globe.

    Elliott Campbell, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his colleagues last year published a study that put a number to it. Their conclusion: plants are now converting 31 percent more carbon dioxide into organic matter than they were before the Industrial Revolution. 

    Climate change denialists were quick to jump on Dr. Campbell's research as proof that increased carbon dioxide is making the world a better place.

    "So-called carbon pollution has done much more to expand and invigorate the planet's greenery than all the climate policies of all the world's governments combined," the Competitive Enterprise Institute declared shortly after the study came out.

    "The best messages are positive: CO2 increases crop yields, the earth is greening," wrote Joseph Bast, the chief executive officer of the Heartland Institute, in an October 2017 email obtained by EE News

    In June, Mr. Bast co-authored an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal in which he cited Dr. Campbell's work as evidence of the benefits of fossil fuels. Our unleashing of carbon dioxide contributes "to the greening of the Earth,"he said. 

    Recently I talked Dr. Campbell, and as it turns out, he feels people like Mr. Bast are drawing the wrong lessons from his research. Here are four reasons he believes nobody should be celebrating "global greening."

    More Photosynthesis Doesn't Mean More Food

    Yes, we now get far more food from each acre of farmland than we did a century ago. But extra carbon dioxide only accounts for a small fraction of the increase.

    "A 30 percent increase in photosynthesis does not translate into a 30 percent increase in strawberries off the land," said Dr. Campbell.

    While photosynthesis does pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, much of that gas goes right back into the air. The reason: At night, the chemical reactions in plants essentially run backward. In a process known as respiration, plants pump out carbon dioxide instead of pulling it in.

    "Part of the story is that photosynthesis is going up, and part of the story is that so is respiration," said Dr. Campbell.

    While the increase in photosynthesis is greater than that of respiration, the ultimate benefit to crops has been small — and it doesn't explain our modern agricultural revolution. 

    "The driving factor has to be the fertilizers, the seed varieties, the irrigation," Dr. Campbell said.

    Extra Carbon Dioxide Can Make Plants Less Nutritious

    A number of studies indicate that plants that grow in extra carbon dioxide often end up containing lower concentrations of nutrients such as nitrogen, copper and potassium.

    As more carbon dioxide gets into the atmosphere, the problem will grow. "There's definitely strong evidence that quality will be affected," said Dr. Campbell.

    It's not clear why this happens. In a paper published in the journal Current Opinion in Plant Biology in June, Johan Uddling of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and his colleagues speculated that microbes are to blame.

    Just as carbon dioxide speeds up photosynthesis, it may also increase the rate at which soil microbes take up nutrients, leaving less for plants to suck in through their roots.

    If we eat food that lacks nutrients, we become more vulnerable to a host of diseases. Recently, a team of researchers at Stanford University studied how future changes to crops could affect the world's health. The findings were grim. 

    In Southeast Asia, for example, the researchers estimated that the rate of iron deficiency may rise from 21.8 percent to 27.9 percent by 2050.

    Deficiencies in iron and other nutrients could make millions of people more vulnerable to diseases including malaria and pneumonia, leading to many premature deaths.

    More Plants Won't Prevent Climate Change

    It's not just strawberries and other crops that are taking in extra carbon dioxide. So are the forests, grasslands and other wild ecosystems of the world.

    When scientists take into account both extra photosynthesis and respiration, they estimate that plants remove a quarter of the carbon dioxide we put in the atmosphere.

    "That's on par with what China emits," said Dr. Campbell. "And China is the biggest global polluter."

    Even more remarkably, the plants have been scrubbing the same fraction of carbon dioxide out of the air even as our emissions explode. 

    "Every year we build more power plants, and every year the plants take out more CO2," Dr. Campbell said.

    But that isn't cause to celebrate. It's a bit like hearing that your chemotherapy is slowing the growth of your tumor by 25 percent.

    Despite global greening, carbon dioxide levels have climbed over the past two centuries to levels not seen on Earth for millions of years. And the carbon dioxide we've injected into the atmosphere is already having major impacts across the planet.

    The six warmest years on record all occurred after 2010. The weather has already become more extreme. Sea levels have risen. The oceans are acidifying.

    If plants keep on absorbing only a quarter of our carbon dioxide in the future, then we can expect all these trends to get stronger.

    In other words, if global greening isn't saving us now, we can't rely on it to save us in the future.

    Global Greening Won't Last Forever

    There's still a lot that Dr. Campbell and his colleagues don't understand about global greening. Most importantly, they don't know how long it will last.

    As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change, plants may stop soaking up extra carbon dioxide.

    "Plants are quietly scrubbing the air of one China's worth of carbon. What frightens me is knowing this can't go on forever," said Dr. Campbell. "If respiration catches up with photosynthesis, this huge carbon reservoir could spill back into our air."

    "There's a wild card out there."



    4)  Migrant Families Have Been Reunited. Now, a Scramble to Prevent Deportations.

    By Miriam Jordan, July 30, 2018


    Immigrant rights activists rallied outside the federal courthouse in McAllen, Tex., last week. The government has completed reunifications of more than 1,800 migrant families separated under the "zero-tolerance" policy

    LOS ANGELES — The federal government last week completed reunifications of more than 1,800 migrant families separated under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy, but immigrant advocates were set to be back in court Tuesday to block what they said was another imminent threat: plans to swiftly deport up to 1,000 of the newly reunited families.

    In separate filings in San Diego and Washington, lawyers asked the courts to order a stay on deporting any of these families and to make sure parents are allowed to remain in the United States as long as needed to help their children pursue claims for asylum from unsafe conditions in Central America.

    Judge Paul Friedman of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia scheduled a hearing Tuesday on a request for a temporary restraining order to halt what could be hundreds of removals for parents who have already exhausted their immigration appeals — but whose children may well have better cases for remaining in the country.

    Nearly 3,000 children were forcibly separated from their parents under the "zero-tolerance" immigration policy carried out earlier this year.

    Critics say that many parents have been confused or coerced into signing forms that waive their children's right to asylum in the hope of being reunited with them quickly. The latest court filings argue that parents have a right to remain in the country and help their children pursue their asylum cases.

    "We want to make sure these kids are not summarily deported before they have a chance to apply for asylum. Their parents in many instances are the only ones able to articulate their fear," said T. Clark Weymouth, pro bono partner at the international law firm that filed the case in Washington, Hogan Lovells.

    Judge Dana M. Sabraw is considering a similar issue in the Federal District Court in San Diego. He is also considering the fate of an estimated 711 children who could not be reunited with their families because their parents were for various reasons deemed "ineligible," including more than 460 parents who were most likely deported already without their children.

    Government lawyers have argued that all parents were allowed to choose whether to waive asylum for their children and leave the country with them or allow the children to remain behind and pursue asylum cases. The Trump administration has accused adult migrants of using their children to secure entry into the United States.

    Several lawyers for the latest plaintiffs spent time at detention facilities in recent weeks, Mr. Weymouth said, and concluded that without the legal challenge, there would be no impediment to the government deporting the children with their parents as quickly as possible.

    "We had signals that was about to happen," said Zachary Best, one of the lawyers.

    The reason that children have different prospects for asylum protection has to do with the way immigration authorities handled their cases when they were separated from their parents at the border. Under the "zero-tolerance" policy, anyone who illegally crossed the border outside of a legal entry station has been referred for possible criminal prosecution. Under the previous family separation policy, later rescinded by President Trump, any child accompanying the adult was taken away and designated as an "unaccompanied alien child," a classification normally used for adolescents who arrive at the border alone.

    As a result of that designation, children are eligible for legal remedies independent of their parents. They can make an asylum claim before a judge and remain in the country until their case has moved through an immigration court, a process that can take years. If they do not demonstrate a credible fear of persecution in their home country on an initial interview, adults are often targeted for quick deportation. Adults who illegally cross the border, as opposed to surrendering to Border Patrol agents at a legal port of entry, are often not permitted to apply for asylum, though immigrant advocates have argued that they should legally be entitled to do so.

    So complicated has the deportation issue become that it now appears that some parents who were reunited with their children in recent weeks have been separated from them once again — this time because they expressed a desire to allow their child to pursue an asylum claim.

    A legal filing over the weekend alleges that several fathers, after being reunited with their adolescent children, were given three choices: to be deported with their children; be deported alone and allow their children to stay; or wait to consult a lawyer. They said that the first option had been pre-selected for them when they were handed the forms.

    When they tried to choose the second option — to be removed from the country alone and allow their children to stay behind to pursue a separate asylum case — agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement became angry at them, the fathers said in their court challenge.

    The problem with the waiver form, their lawyers argued, is that it did not make the consequences clear — that by selecting the option to be deported with their child, a parent was waiving the child's right to pursue asylum.

    In the case of the fathers, all chose to be deported alone. In their declarations, they said they were not allowed to say goodbye to their children. The children, they said, had to wave to them from inside a bus.



    5) Activist Mike Treen tasered, kidnapped, and detained in Israel

    By Redline, July 31, 2018


    Unite trade union national director and veteran socialist activist Mike Treen

    We have now received a direct report from Mike in Givon Prison.

    He was tasered repeatedly by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) while in the wheelhouse of the Al Awda and subsequently tightly handcuffed. He received injuries to his face and head and was bleeding but is now recovering.

    Of Mike's fellow flotilla members one was tasered in the head, a 69-year-old female surgeon received a head injury and a senior Canadian passenger received a foot injury and had to be treated in hospital.

    The IOF takeover of the boat conducted by armed and masked soldiers was clearly violent with many passengers and crew assaulted, roughly handled and hit. 

    Local civil rights lawyers met with all those detained a few hours ago. All their belongings, including their passports have been seized and not returned, despite promises they would if they co-operated.

    Despite KiaOra Gaza contacting the New Zealand Hon. Consul in Tel Aviv requesting assistance we are unaware of any contact, visit or action from the New Zealand Government or its representatives to assist.

    (update at 4pm Monday 31st July – The Honorary Consul has now been to see Mike. Winston Peters has responded to the letters sent to him but the Government has taken no specific action apart from alerting the Cairo embassy to Mike's situation).

    The next flotilla boat, the "Freedom" continues to approach Gaza.

    Previous report (6.15am 31st July NZ time)

    Eyewitnesses report that Unite Union leader Mike Treen's boat was hijacked in a violent raid and that he and the rest of the crew are being held in Givon prison, near Tel Aviv.

    Two Israeli citizens who were on board have been charged and released on bail and, contrary to the Israeli military's claim that the raid on the Al Awda was "without exceptional incident", Zohar Chamberlain Regev, the boat leader, reports that at the time of boarding: "People on board were tasered and hit by masked IOF soldiers. We did not get our passports or belongings before we got off the boat. Do not believe reports of peaceful interception." 

    Mr Regev also reports seeing blood on the deck of the Al Awda as the last participants were being dragged off the ship, which is very alarming given the extreme violence shown by Israel to past flotillas. We are awaiting information about Mike's condition, charges he may face and what the Israeli's intend to do with the remaining 20 flotilla participants they have imprisoned.

    The international Freedom Flotilla have engaged local lawyers who are trying to gain access to them.

    The New Zealand Freedom Flotilla organiser, Roger Fowler QSM, has written to Gad Propper, the New Zealand Honorary Consul in Tel Aviv requesting assistance, particularly information about Mike's situation and condition including his health, any medical treatment he may need, any charges he may be facing, and if he has been allowed to legal assistance (see below).

    Unite national secretary Gerard Hehir is calling on the Acting Prime Minister to condemn the Israeli actions in the strongest way:

    "This was a violent military attack on a civilian vessel and a violation of international law. Forcibly taking Mike Treen from international waters to a country which is not their destination is an act of kidnapping, which is also unlawful under the International Convention of the Law of Sea."

    "It is interesting that the two Israeli citizens released on bail have been charged with trying to enter Gaza. Not only does Israel not want the world to see what it is doing to the people of Gaza, but it makes it illegal for its own citizens to go there and see for themselves. So much for freedom and democracy in Israel".



    6) Intoxicating Freedom, Gripping Fear 

    Mumia Abu-Jamal on life as a Black Panther

    By Ed Pilkington

    The Guardian, July 30, 2018


    Mumia Abu-Jamal

    The letter was dated August 30, 2016. Written in black ink in spidery, meticulous handwriting, it proclaimed at the top of the page: "On a Move!," the mantra of the Move group of Black liberationists from Philadelphia who clashed violently with the city's police force 40 years ago, sending nine of them to prison for decades.

    The author was Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is the closest thing that exists today to an imprisoned Black Panther celebrity. He joined the Black Panther party in the 1960s when he was just 14, and later became a prominent advocate for the Move organization.

    For the past 36 years he has been incarcerated in Pennsylvania prisons, including two decades spent on death row, having been convicted of murdering a police officer at a Philadelphia street corner in 1981. His case has reverberated around the world, inspiring admiration and opprobrium in equal measure, in what has become a global cause-celebre.

    As such, he could be regarded as the figurehead of the cadre of imprisoned African-American militants who are still behind bars today. Collectively they amount to the unfinished business of the 1970s Black liberation struggle, as they languish still in prison in some cases almost half-a-century after they went in.

    B­y the Guardian'scount, there are 19 of them, two women included. That headcount is very slowly being diminished, as the debate around whether they have earned their freedom grows more intense with every passing year.

    Last week one of Abu-Jamal's peers, Robert Seth Hayes, was released from a New York maximum security prison on parole having served 45 years for the murder of a city transit officer.

    I had sent that initial letter to Abu-Jamal to ask his views about Albert Woodfox, a former Black Panther from Louisiana who had been held in solitary confinement in a six-foot-by-nine-foot concrete box for 43 years until his release a few months earlier. 

    In my opening letter to Abu-Jamal, I'd mentioned that the warden of Angola penitentiary in the 1990s, Burl Cain, had tried to justify keeping Woodfox in total isolation for four decades because of the prisoner's commitment to "Black Pantherism."

    Abu-Jamal, 64, found that expression very diverting, judging by his response. Until Woodfox's "illegal and unjust imprisonment," he wrote back, "I had never heard nor read of the so-called crime of 'Black Pantherism'! Leave it to the prisoncrats of Angola to actually coin the term!"

    Then Abu-Jamal did something that was to become familiar to me over the ensuing months. He took that one comment of a Louisiana prison warden and riffed off it to create an entire social theory of modern American society.

    "As we see from the obscene and unprecedented mass incarceration of Black people," he wrote, "'Black Pantherism' is but a synonym for Blackness itself. For in a society deeply imbued with white supremacy, Blackness is itself a crime."

    Abu-Jamal spent 20 years on death row and during that time concerns about the fairness of his death sentence drew international attention. Amnesty International took up his cause, the New York Times crowned him the "world's best known death-row inmate" and a Paris street was named after him. Among the movie stars, writers and intellectuals who protested on his behalf were Paul Newman, Alice Walker, Salman Rushdie and Noam Chomsky.

    As impressive as the high-profile support he attracted over the years was the vitriol he inspired in detractors. Philadelphia police unions worked tirelessly to keep him on death row and since he was moved to the general prison population in 2012 they have continued to work equally tirelessly to prevent him going free.

    Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Daniel Faulkner, the police officer Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering, has been equally consistent. Earlier this year she wrote a column in the Philadelphia Inquirerin which she said the real political prisoners in this story were her family. "We committed no crime, yet we received life sentences with no possibility of parole or reprieve."

    In April, when Abu-Jamal's case came up before a Philadelphia judge in a legal dispute over the handling of his appeals, Maureen Faulkner appearedon the steps of the court and proclaimed to local TV cameras: "Mumia Abu-Jamal will not—not ever—be free, and I will make sure of that."

    My initial letter to Abu-Jamal in August 2016 developed into a correspondence that continues two years later. Over time it mushroomed into a larger project in which I reached out to several of his peers—Black radicals incarcerated like him for decades—in an attempt to understand how they came to be given such lengthy sentences and how they cope with their enduring punishment today. 

    At a time when America is still grappling with the racial legacy of slavery and segregation, when the issue of police brutality has welled up again through Black Lives Matter, when at least one in four Black males born today can expect to end up in prison, and when inequality shows no sign of abating for African Americans, there is renewed interest in the perspective of the Black Panthers. Just ask Beyoncé, who injected a Black Panther homage into the 2016 Super Bowl.

    And so Abu-Jamal and I began to correspond. We would contact each other through a closed email network set up by the Pennsylvania prison system.

    With each email I would try and probe a little deeper, trying to get under the skin of what it was to be a Black radical for whom, in some sense, time had stood still through long years of incarceration. Sometimes he would answer in short staccato emails, as though his mind were elsewhere; sometimes he would be thoughtful and expansive.

    Sometimes he didn't reply for weeks. It's remarkable how busy a man locked up around the clock can be. "I've been meaning to write to you," he said in November 2017, "but my projects (I just finished my booklet last nite) have eaten my time—oops, I'm about to get on the phone…" 

    In our exchanges he reflected on how he had become involved as a teenage boy in the Black resistance struggle of the late 1960s, and why decades later so many Black militants remain behind bars. He talked also about how his militancy as a former Panther relates to the critical movements of today, notably Black Lives Matter, which controversially he called a "continuum" of the Black Panthers.

    Early on, I asked him why he thought the judicial system had borne down on him singularly harshly by giving him the death penalty. He replied in an email on September 23, 2016: "I think we posed an existential challenge to the very legitimacy of the System—and it unleashed unprecedented fury from the State. That's why they used any means, even illegal, to extinguish what they saw as a Threat." 

    He added: "The State reserves its harshest treatment for those it sees as revolutionaries."

    Mumia Abu-Jamal was born Wesley Cook and brought up in a low-income African American neighborhood of Philadelphia. He was given the name Mumia by a high school teacher as part of a class on African culture and he later changed his last name to Abu-Jamal ("father of Jamal") when his son was born in 1971.

    In 1968, when he was 14, a friend introduced him to a copy of the Black Panther party's newspaper, and he was instantly transfixed. "A sister gave me a copy of The Black Panthernewspaper and I was dazzled," he wrote to me in an email. "I made up my mind to become one of them."

    Three years of head-spinning activity ensued as a Black Panther in Philadelphia. The party, though relatively small in numbers, quickly began to make an impact with its revolutionary talk, its audacious opposition to police brutality in Black neighborhoods, and its social programs that quickly expanded to include food and clothing banks for low-income communities and even Black Panther elementary schools.

    The city at that time, he told me, was a place of "intoxicating freedom, and gripping fear. The freedom? To be active in a part of a vast Black Freedom Movement was Living, Breathing, Being Freedom. We spoke and acted in the world in ways our parents never dreamed possible."

    The fear? "Every Panther knew, in her/his heart, that the State was willing to kill a Panther in his/her bed."

    He was alluding to the death of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in a police raid on a Panther house in Chicago in December 1969. Hampton was shot and killed while asleep in bed. A subsequent federal investigation into the killing found that in the shoot-out the Panthers had fired one bullet, while the police fired up to 99.

    "I was one of several Panthers sent to Chicago," Abu-Jamal wrote in an email. "We entered the apartment. We saw the bullet holes which raked the walls. We saw the mattress, swollen with Fred's blood. I was 15."

    The death of Hampton was just one of several bloody shootouts that erupted as confrontations between law enforcement and the Panthers became more frequent. Many years later it was revealed that the FBI had put several prominent members of the movement—the teenage Abu-Jamal included—under a vast web of surveillance.

    The FBI's director J. Edgar Hoover had come to see the Panthers, with their links to revolutionary parties around the world and growing popularity in Black inner cities, as a major threat to national security. He instructed his agents to redirect the secret domestic surveillance operation, known as "COINTELPRO," specifically onto Black radicals. 

    Abu-Jamal recalled the naivety that existed within the Panther party about the governmental forces targeted at them.

    "We didn't know about COINTELPRO. When people raised questions, we'd laugh at them and tell them: 'Stop being paranoid!' The very idea the government would read your mail, or listen to your phone calls, was crazy! We never believed we were important enough."

    The FBI certainly did think them important enough. It made sure the party was thoroughly infiltrated with informers, leaders were rounded up and imprisoned, internal dissent fomented. By 1970 open warfare had started to break out between west coast and east coast factions of the party, leading to threats, expulsions and internecine violence. 

    An exodus of Panthers began, among them Abu-Jamal who quit the party towards the end of 1970. From then, he turned his hand to journalism, becoming a prominent reporter on Philadelphia race relations as well as a vocal supporter of Move.

    It was not until 1982 that the Black Panther party formally disbanded. By then Abu-Jamal was already in captivity and facing murder charges relating to the death of Officer Faulkner.

    The events of the early hours of December 9, 1981 have been the subject of reams of analysis and conjecture over the past almost four decades. Faulkner carried out a traffic stop at an intersection in Philadelphia, pulling over William Cook, Abu-Jamal's younger brother.

    Abu-Jamal at that time was working as a taxi driver to supplement his journalism income. He happened to be driving past when he spotted the altercation between Faulkner and his brother.

    A shootout occurred. Faulkner died at the scene from gunshot wounds. Abu-Jamal was shot once in the stomach. In June 1982 he was put on trial, found guilty and sentenced to death.

    Since then he has consistently professed his innocence of the charges leveled against him, though he has declined to discuss what actually did happen that night. I wrote to Abu-Jamal in June asking him whether he'd talk to me about Faulkner's death. I said: "So what did happen? What do you recollect of the incident? Who shot Officer Faulkner?"

    Earlier this month he replied to me. He began the email by saying that he'd just returned from the eye doctor who in order to inspect his inner eye had dilated his pupils. "My vision is so impaired that I can't read the newspaper so this won't be long, I haffa be quite brief."

    He did address his case, in general terms. "The question arises, how can you getta fair result with an unjust, unfair process? Due process. A judge who wuzza life member of the FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] said at one of my hearings: 'Justice is just an emotional feeling'." 

    Abu-Jamal did not address in the email my questions about the specifics of his own case.

    While doubts persist about the nature of the crime, what is not in doubt is that Abu-Jamal's prosecution, as he remarked, was riddled with flaws. Amnesty International investigated it in 2000 and concluded that though they could not pronounce on his guilt or innocence, "numerous aspects of this case clearly failed to meet minimum international standards."

    A long struggle to fend off execution followed, sending reverberations around the globe. Twice he had a death warrant issued that would have sent him to the death chamber; twice it was averted in the courts.

    It took two decades of almost constant appeals to overturn his death sentence in a federal court. Since moving off death row, he has more privileges but he's less in the limelight now, less of an international figure, as he alluded to when I asked him how much mail he receives. "I probably get 6-10 pieces a day or 30 to 50 pieces a week (which is nothing like I used to get.)"

    He has slowed down in recent years in other ways too. "I used to read two to three books a week. Now? Two per month. It's a different environment. I leave the cell often here: not so on death row."

    As he gets older, health becomes more of an issue. He fought a tough legal battle after the Pennsylvania department of corrections denied him treatment for Hepatitis C, winning a federal court ruling that has set a precedent that will help thousands of other prisoners across the country defeat the virus. 

    He complains though that the prison authorities are still denying treatment to many inmates on grounds they aren't sick enough. "People are dying from their denials and delays. Literally. $$$ over life."

    Despite health issues, he keeps closely engaged with political currents. In March I asked him what he thought were the similarities and contrasts between the Black Panthers in the 1970s and Black Lives Matter today. I was curious to see whether he was critical of BLM in an echo of the criticism the Panthers directed in the 1970s at the civil rights movement—that it's a reformist compromise rather than the Black power revolution that's needed.

    He replied that in his view the Panthers and BLM are "part of a continuum. The BPP was born in an age of global revolution. Black Lives Matter came into being during an era of sociopolitical conservatism, and rightist ideological ascendance. What is possible is subject to the zeitgeist of the period."

    He went on: "I am reminded of [Frantz] Fanon's adage: 'Every generation must, out of relative obscurity, find its destiny, and fulfill it or betray it.' I think both movements have done so, if only in their own ways."

    He also keenly follows his fellow imprisoned Black radicals' efforts to gain their freedom, decades after they were arrested. In one email, sent in May, he commented on the release of Herman Bell, a former Black Panther and member of its clandestine wing the Black Liberation Army, who had secured his own parole a couple of months before partly by denouncing his involvement in the struggle. There was "nothing political" in the double police killing that he was involved in, Bell told the parole board, "it was murder and horribly wrong."

    Abu-Jamal told me that in his view Bell's release was the exception that proves the rule. "If a man is only truly parole-eligible if he renounces his political ideas, how could those who aren't 'eligible' because they aren't renunciators be seen as anything but political prisoners?"

    There are many who will disagree with the argument that the 19 imprisoned Black Panthers and Move members are political prisoners. For the police unions and the families of victims, they are "cop killers," pure and simple.

    Yet no one could accuse Abu-Jamal of being a "renunciator." Since coming off death row he has been resentenced and put onto life without parole. That means that he has no chance of ever persuading a parole board to release him, which in turn, paradoxically, has given him his own kind of freedom—to speak his mind.

    "Parole is a political tool," he wrote. "It's especially used against radicals to punish them for their political beliefs. I think it should be abolished. Period."

    One of the most evocative emails he sent me was composed on New Year's Eve last year. Maybe the end of the year had put him in a reflective mood, or maybe the calendar means nothing to a man who has lived for 37 years in a cell. 

    In any case, he started riffing again, this time about the U.S. justice system. He talked about how parole appeared to be a pipe-dream for Black radicals in particular. 

    He referenced the Move 9 again, the group from his home town of Philadelphia, six of whom will next week mark the 40th anniversary of their incarceration. He spoke too of other former Black Panthers who had in recent years been granted release orders only to have them overturned by the higher courts.

    Then he switched, in his own rather professorial way, to a more personal point. "What I always find interesting is how profoundly different the American systems of 'justice' are from those that exist abroad," he wrote. "Under Pennsylvania law, life means life, with no parole eligibility for anybody."

    For "anybody," read Mumia Abu-Jamal. He went on to spell out for my benefit his probable fate. 

    Legal scholars and activists in Pennsylvania have a name for it, he said: "Death by incarceration."

    The GuardianJuly 30, 2018




    7) Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

    By Elisabetta Povoledo and Laurie Goodstein, August 2, 2018


    Pope Francis said that the Roman Catholic Church would work "with determination" for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.

    ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is "an attack" on the "dignity of the person," the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.

    Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

    The revision says the church would work "with determination" for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.

    "I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world," said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. "People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church," he added.

    Sergio D'Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital punishment worldwide, said, "Now even the most far-flung parish priest will teach this to young children."

    Francis' decision is likely to put many American Catholic politicians in a difficult position, especially Catholic governors, like Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, who have presided over executions.

    The move could also set off a backlash among Catholic traditionalists who already cast Francis as being dangerously inclined to change or compromise church teaching on other issues, such as permitting communion for Catholics who have divorced and remarried without getting a church annulment.

    The new teaching on the death penalty builds on the instructions of Francis' two immediate predecessors, but goes further, reflecting this pope's unconditional opposition to the death penalty while affirming his vision of a merciful church.

    "This didn't come out of nowhere," Mr. Thavis said. "John Paul II and Benedict laid the ground work; he's taking the next logical step."

    Abolishing the death penalty has been one of Francis' top priorities for many years, along with saving the environment and caring for immigrants and refugees. He mentioned it in his address to Congress on his trip to the United States in 2015, saying that "from the beginning of my ministry" he had been led "to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty."

    He added, "I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes."

    On that trip, Francis made a point of going to a prison in Pennsylvania and meeting with a few prisoners and their families. He also wrote a detailed letter in 2015 to the International Commission against the death penalty, arguing that capital punishment "does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance."

    In it, he made two arguments that specifically spoke to the American context: The death penalty is illegitimate because many convictions have later been found to be in error and have been overturned, and because executions of prisoners in some states have been badly botched.

    In the catechism promoted by St. John Paul II, in 1992, the death penalty was allowed if it was "the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor."

    The Vatican announced the change on Thursday, publishing a letter to bishops approved by the pope in mid-June.

    The letter says that Francis made the death penalty shift "so as to better reflect" the clearer awareness of the church "for the respect due to every human life."

    The Catholic shift on the issue has been developing for years. In an unprecedented move, four Catholic media outlets in the United States published a joint editorial in 2015 calling for the abolition of the death penalty. They included the liberal-leaning National Catholic Reporter and the conservative-leaning National Catholic Register.

    Even in the United States, where support for the death penalty persists, Catholics have rallied around calls to abolish it.

    But some conservative Catholics took exception. The Rev. C. John McCloskey III, an influential teacher and confidante of countless American politicians and civic leaders, wrote that the church's doctrine "does not and never has advocated unqualified abolition of the death penalty."

    In his argument, he cited Saints John Paul II, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. He even cited Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the late archbishop of Chicago, who frequently used the term "seamless garment" to express that the church was for life, from conception to death.

    Mr. McCloskey argued that for any human being, "it is a great grace to know the time of one's death, as it gives us the opportunity to get right with the Lord who will judge us at our death. Perhaps many people have been saved in this way by the death penalty."

    Mr. D'Elia said Catholic teaching on capital punishment had already borne fruit in the past, noting that there were few countries with a Catholic majority where the death penalty still existed.

    He also pointed out, "It's rare that there are Catholic countries where the death penalty still exists."

    Pope Francis' revision "leaves no trace of ambiguity," he said.

    Elisabetta Povoledo reported from Rome, and Laurie Goodstein from New York.



    8) Arrested, Jailed and Charged With a Felony. For Voting.

    By Jack Healy, August 2, 2018


    Whitney Brown and Keith Sellars are among 12 people who voted in the 2016 election while on felony probation or parole and who are now being prosecuted in Alamance County in North Carolina.

    GRAHAM, N.C. — Keith Sellars and his daughters were driving home from dinner at a Mexican restaurant last December when he was pulled over for running a red light. The officer ran a background check and came back with bad news for Mr. Sellars. There was a warrant out for his arrest.

    As his girls cried in the back seat, Mr. Sellars was handcuffed and taken to jail.

    His crime: Illegal voting.

    "I didn't know," said Mr. Sellars, who spent the night in jail before his family paid his $2,500 bond. "I thought I was practicing my right."

    Mr. Sellars, 44, is one of a dozen people in Alamance County in North Carolina who have been charged with voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election. All were on probation or parole for felony convictions, which in North Carolina and many other states disqualifies a person from voting. If convicted, they face up to two years in prison.

    While election experts and public officials across the country say there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, local prosecutors and state officials in North Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Idaho and other states have sought to send a tough message by filing criminal charges against the tiny fraction of people who are caught voting illegally.

    "That's the law," said Pat Nadolski, the Republican district attorney in Alamance County. "You can't do it. If we have clear cases, we're going to prosecute."

    The cases are rare compared with the tens of millions of votes cast in state and national elections. In 2017, at least 11 people nationwide were convicted of illegal voting because they were felons or noncitizens, according to a database of voting prosecutions compiled by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Others have been convicted of voting twice, filing false registrations or casting a ballot for a family member.

    The case against the 12 voters in Alamance County — a patchwork of small towns about an hour west of the state's booming Research Triangle — is unusual for the sheer number of people charged at once. And because nine of the defendants are black, the case has touched a nerve in a state with a history of suppressing African-American votes.

    Local civil-rights groups and black leaders have urged the district attorney to drop the prosecution, saying that black voters were being disproportionately punished for an unwitting mistake. African-Americans in North Carolina are more likely to be disqualified from voting because of felony convictions; their rate of incarceration is more than four times that of white residents, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, a nonprofit organization.

    "It smacks of Jim Crow," said Barrett Brown, the head of the Alamance County N.A.A.C.P. Referring to the district attorney, he added, "I don't think he targeted black people. But if you cast that net, you're going to catch more African-Americans."

    Mr. Nadolski said that race and ethnicity are not a factor in any case he prosecutes.

    The case has become part of a partisan war over voting rights ahead of this November's midterm elections. At a rally on Tuesday, President Trump — who has made baseless claims that millions of people voted illegally in 2016 — renewed his calls for laws requiring voters to show photo identification. He said, incorrectly, that shoppers need to show identification to buy groceries, while people voting for president and senator do not.

    When asked Wednesday about the president's comments, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said that Mr. Trump "wants to see the integrity of our elections system upheld."

    In separate interviews, five of the defendants in Alamance County said their votes were an unwitting mistake — a product of not understanding the voter forms they signed and not knowing the law.

    They said they believed they were allowed to vote because election workers let them fill out voter registration and eligibility forms, then handed them ballots. They said they never would have voted if anyone had told them they were ineligible.

    The case began after North Carolina elections officials ran an audit that found 441 felons had voted improperly in the 2016 election. While most local prosecutors did not pursue these cases, Mr. Nadolski decided to file felony charges.

    "We want to maintain the integrity of the voting system," Mr. Nadolski said.

    Most of the voters did not know one another before the prosecution, but as they attended court together and as their story spread through this conservative county, people started referring to them as one: the Alamance 12.

    Activists have protested outside the county courthouse and asked supporters to flood the district attorney's office with letters and phone calls on the defendants' behalf.

    Whitney Brown, 32, said that no judge, lawyer or probation officer ever told her that she had temporarily lost her right to vote after she pleaded guilty to a 2014 charge of writing bad checks. Her sentence did not include prison time.

    By November 2016, she was complying with her probation and focused on moving ahead with her life, caring for her two sons, who are now 6 and 9 years old, and taking online classes to become a medical receptionist. So when her mother invited her to come with her to vote for president, Ms. Brown said she did so without a second thought.

    Months later, she got a letter from state election officials telling her she appeared to have voted illegally. "My heart dropped," she said.

    In North Carolina, people's voting rights are automatically restored once they finish every step of their felony sentence, including probation.

    But every state is different. Vermont and Maine do not strip felons of voting rights, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states allow people to vote again as soon as they leave prison. Others permanently take away felons' right to vote or make them ask to have their rights restored.

    In North Carolina, people can be found guilty of voting as felons even if they did not know their status or did not mean to break any voting laws. This spring, lawmakers tried to pass a bill that would have added intent as an element of felon-voting crimes, but the bill died.

    Like other voters across North Carolina, each of the Alamance 12 would have been required to sign a form saying they were eligible to vote and were not serving a felony sentence. But the defendants said they did not remember filling out any forms beyond the ballots.

    "People get confused," said John Carella, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which is representing Ms. Brown and four other defendants. The group has also filed a motion in court arguing that North Carolina's original 1901 law barring felons from voting is unconstitutional because it is steeped in racist efforts to keep African-Americans from voting.

    After the state audit that found 441 felons had voted, North Carolina's Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement changed the layout of the voter forms, adding check boxes to make them easier to understand. The board said it was also working with courts and probation officials to make sure people are aware that they lose their voting rights while serving a felony sentence and probation.

    Activists are now worried that the fear of prosecution may suppress black turnout in the midterm elections. North Carolina lawmakers have put a constitutional amendment on November ballots that would change the state constitution to require voter identification.

    An earlier law adding such a requirement was struck down in 2016 by a federal appeals panel, which called it "the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow." The ruling said Republicans had targeted "African-Americans with almost surgical precision."

    George Lettley, who runs a popular catering hall in Alamance County with his wife Elois, said he saw the prosecutions as the latest example of a pattern of discrimination against African-Americans by white leaders in his state.

    "They're looking for any way they can find to stop any momentum we have," said Mr. Lettley, reflecting on the case as he and his wife rested and polished silverware after dinner. "It's a no-win situation for us."

    When he and his wife heard that one of the 12 defendants had lost his job and had been sleeping in his car, they hired him to work at their restaurant.

    Taranta Holman, 28, said he had never voted before 2016. He spent years bouncing between low-paying jobs, criminal charges and probation, and he saw little incentive to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

    But he said he voted at the urging of his mother. In December 2017, when news of the charges appeared in the local newspaper, Mr. Holman said that relatives called him to say there was a warrant out for his arrest.

    "I thought they were playing with me," he said.

    Three of the defendants have taken deals pleading to lesser misdemeanors that come with probation and community service. For the moment, Mr. Holman was planning to fight the charges. He said he could not afford the fees that come with a probation sentence and did not want to stay under the scrutiny of the legal system.

    "I feel like I've got a better chance with a jury than the D.A.," he said.

    But Mr. Holman said that, win or lose in court, he will never cast another ballot.

    "Even when I get this cleared up, I still won't vote," he said. "That's too much of a risk."



    9) It Wasn't a Crime to Carry Marijuana. Until the Police Found a Loophole.

    By Benjamin Mueller, August 2, 2018


    New York police officers with 60 pounds of marijuana from candy store in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 1978.

    It was the 1970s, and marijuana raids and mass arrests had been sweeping college campuses and suburban concert venues in New York. The crackdown outraged parents. There was talk of ruined reputations and "Gestapo" police tactics.

    State legislators in 1977 devised what they took to be a simple fix: a bill that made carrying small supplies of marijuana a ticket-worthy violation, not a crime. To win enough votes from Republicans, the authors carved out an exception that said it was still a crime to carry marijuana "open to public view."

    The bill's backers thought the addition was harmless enough, given that people did not usually take out their stash in front of the police anyway. The era of mass arrests for carrying around marijuana seemed to be over.

    It wasn't.

    Annual arrests for marijuana possession, which dipped below 1,000 by the early 1990s, rocketed above 50,000 during some years in New York City under Mayors Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg. Officers strayed so far from the bounds of the 1977 law that in 2011, the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, had to issue an order reminding officers not to arrest people who had marijuana hidden in their pockets.

    Arrests have remained so high that in recent months, Mayor Bill de Blasio and several district attorneys have tried again to rein in the police as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo lays the groundwork for trying to legalize recreational marijuana next year.

    But lost amid the scramble by policymakers in New York is the fact that state law, far from mandating marijuana arrests, has actually tried to steer officers away from them for four decades. With broken-windows policing on the ascent in the 1990s and officers asking hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to empty their pockets during street stops, though, mass arrests on marijuana charges roared back. Black and Hispanic people have been the primary targets.

    That history shows how carveouts in decriminalization plans, like one Mr. de Blasio included in the policy set to take effect next month, can haunt people for years. It also highlights the gap between policy and practice when it comes to policing.

    Richard N. Gottfried, a state assemblyman from Manhattan who wrote the 1977 law, said it drove down arrests for two decades before the rise of proactive, aggressive street policing rendered the law moot in New York City. The "public view" exception became a springboard for arrests: police officers stoping and frisking people asked them to empty their pockets, and when marijuana fell out, arrested them because their hidden stash had suddenly become "open to public view."

    Even after Mr. Kelly's 2011 order, defense lawyers say the arrests continued, though the overall number of marijuana arrests began falling. To stop arrests for carrying a small stash, Mr. de Blasio in 2014 forced a new policy on the Police Department saying that even openly possessing marijuana should not lead to an arrest.

    "Not only did some court not strike down that kind of conduct, but when the police commissioner tells the people with badges and guns to do or not do something, they don't obey the order," Mr. Gottfried said. "I've always found that pretty scary. It leads you to question the effectiveness of civilian control of uniformed forces."

    In recent months, advocates and elected officials have protested the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic people arrested for marijuana possession.

    In the late 1960s and the 1970s, though, newspapers and elected leaders were focusing on people in the suburbs, many of them white, who were getting arrested, according to research by Harry G. Levine, a Queens College professor.

    Narcotics officers stormed dormitories on a Long Island university campus at 5 a.m. and handcuffed three dozen students and their friends, many on marijuana possession charges. One student told The New York Times the police tactics reminded him of the "Mission Impossible" television series and worried that "because of it, whole lives may be ruined."

    The next night, in late January 1968, three teenage girls were jailed in Westchester County after the police found them with marijuana on the outskirts of the private school they attended.

    The drumbeat of arrests continued: 36 people, among them an off-duty New York City police officer, were arrested on marijuana charges during a five‐hour Grateful Dead concert at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, a fraction of the nearly 270 people arrested at rock shows at the coliseum in the space of a few months in 1973.

    One of the most influential groups lobbying for the 1977 law was a coalition of parent teacher associations, Mr. Gottfried said.

    "What made the issue politically viable was suburban support," he said.

    Douglas Barclay, then a Republican state senator from Pulaski, said upstate support for the bill stemmed from a sense that the people there faced harsher punishments for marijuana convictions than New York City residents.

    Still, Republicans didn't come around until elected leaders killed a provision that would have made passing a marijuana cigarette a violation, not a crime, and carved out the "open to public view" exception. Smoking marijuana in public remained a crime.

    Mr. Gottfried and Mr. Barclay both said the bill drew few complaints in the following decades as arrests dwindled.

    "It did not open the floodgates to people buying and smoking marijuana all over the place," Mr. Gottfried said, "but it almost entirely got law enforcement out of the business of dealing with possession of small amounts of marijuana."

    But then policing underwent a sea change and marijuana arrests skyrocketed, highlighting just how much of a hold broken-windows policing — the notion that the police need to stamp out small signs of street disorder to prevent serious crime — has had over law enforcement policy in recent years.

    Police supervisors who once saw their jobs as mainly reacting to crime complaints started hammering officers in the 1980s and 1990s to deal with disorder on the streets — a return in some ways to the roots of modern police forces, according to research by David Thacher, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. Under the direction of police commissioners William J. Bratton and Mr. Kelly, low-level arrests became part of a police officer's job.

    And in New York, the 1977 law stood in the way. Defense lawyers say police officers in New York City exploited the "public view" loophole to arrest people — most of them black and Hispanic — who officers were stopping and frisking.

    Anthony Posada, now a lawyer at the Legal Aid Society, said two plainclothes detectives found marijuana when they went through his pockets in Queens in 2013. The criminal complaint against him says Mr. Posada had a bag of marijuana "open to public view," before describing it as being found in his "left front top jacket pocket."

    Judges rarely stepped in, partly because defendants often agreed to deals with prosecutors rather than fighting the evidence and going to trial.

    Drug reform advocates worry Mr. de Blasio carved too big of an exception in city policy when he directed the police, starting Sept. 1, to start giving tickets instead of making arrests for people smoking in public. He made exceptions for certain people with criminal records — exactly the people, advocates said, who have been exposed to disproportionate police attention before.

    Advocates also said the failure of the 1977 law shows that ending the strategy of broken-windows policing is a bigger priority than piecemeal policy changes.

    "The police commissioner doesn't totally control what's going on here," Mr. Levine said. "There's a resistance to reducing marijuana arrests."



    10) Overlooked No More: Clara Lemlich Shavelson, Crusading Leader of Labor Rights

    By Zoe Greenberg, August 1, 2018


    Clara Lemlich Shavelson led a labor movement dominated by men. She was a pioneer of the type of consumer boycotts and feminist thinking that exists today.

    A slight young woman with lively dark eyes pushed her way to the front of a crowd of garment workers at a union meeting in New York City in 1909 and demanded to be heard.

    "I am tired of listening to speakers who talk in general terms," the woman, Clara Lemlich Shavelson, declared in Yiddish, as the audience lifted her onto the platform, according to news reports that November. "I move that we go on a general strike!"

    The crowd roared its approval. Male union officials had cautioned against a strike, arguing it would be too difficult and too costly, especially for young women working in the factories.

    But the day after the speech, thousands of young women were among the garment workers who formed the Uprising of the 20,000, a milestone action in a swelling labor movement that made workplaces safer, workdays shorter and wages higher.

    Shavelson, already a battle-worn veteran of the movement at 23, has pushed to the margins of history books, sometimes remembered as an anonymous "wisp of a girl." But she was an influential woman in a labor movement dominated by men, and a pioneer of the type of consumer boycotts and feminist thinking that exists today.

    By the time she spoke that day, at Cooper Union in Manhattan, she had been arrested 17 times and beaten by police and company guards, who broke six of her ribs. She had hidden her injuries from her parents, fearing they would forbid her from returning to the picket line.

    The Uprising of the 20,000 ended when many shops agreed to pay higher wages, adopt a 52-hour week and recognize the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union on the factory floor. (One holdout was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, where an infamous fire killed 146 workers a year later. The male union negotiators had ignored the striking women's safety concerns, letting factories off the hook for conditions inside.)

    The strike also had a different kind of impact, as a weekly paper noted in 1910: "These young, inexperienced girls have proved that women can strike, and strike successfully."

    Thousands of young women were among the garment workers who formed the Uprising of the 20,000, a strike intended to improve labor conditions in factories.

    Shavelson would go on to become a radical across causes, galvanizing working-class women to fight for suffrage, battling landlords and evictions in the 1920s and '30s, and leading housewives in a struggle for lower food and rent prices during the Great Depression. (The New York Times, for instance, reported on a "boycott of high-priced meat spread by militant housewives" in 1935 that was organized by Shavelson.)

    Described by contemporaries as warm and vivacious, with a nearly absolutist certainty about what was right, Shavelson viewed every aspect of her life through a political lens.

    "When you don't work, and you don't work in the movement, you're nothing," she was quoted as saying in "Common Sense and a Little Fire" (1995), a book by Annelise Orleck about Shavelson and three other women who were labor leaders.

    Shavelson was born Clara Lemlich in the Ukrainian village of Gorodok in 1886. When she arrived in the United States at age 16, she was already committed to the Marxist revolutionary movement that had begun in Russia. She found work sewing dresses in a crammed factory in New York City and threw herself into learning. A 1954 article in Jewish Life Magazinedetailed how after 11-hour workdays, she read Russian classics at the local public library and studied Marxist theory.

    Shavelson dedicated herself early on to helping working women, and after the 1909 strike she began to see the women's vote as an essential tool.

    "The manufacturer has a vote; the bosses have votes; the foremen have votes; the inspectors have votes. The working girl has no vote," she wrote in Good Housekeeping in 1912. "When she asks to have the building in which she must work made clean and safe, the officials do not have to listen."

    In the early 1910s, Clara married Joe Shavelson. They had three children, and Shavelson shifted her focus to the conditions of the wives and mothers around her.

    She pursued a vision of motherhood that was almost unheard-of at the time, bringing her children with her to Socialist meetings as soon as they were old enough to walk and organizing rent strikes that got her family evicted from at least one home.

    She and other working class women in her Brooklyn neighborhood formed tenants' unions, fighting for rent control and taking militant action, like pouring boiling water from teakettles onto those who arrived to carry out evictions.

    Shavelson joined the Communist Party U.S.A. around 1926, and she remained loyal to it throughout her life, despite the mounting evidence of Stalin's murderous crimes against his people. After a trip to the Soviet Union in 1951, she praised Soviet health care and education. She was subsequently summoned to Washington to testify, and her passport was revoked. It was only years later that she admitted, reluctantly, that she had been wrong about the Soviet Union.

    Shavelson died on July 25, 1982, in California at 96.

    Near the end of her life, she moved into the Jewish Home for the Aged in Los Angeles, where she organized the nurses and orderlies, according to "Common Sense."

    "How much worse could these conditions get?" Shavelson, then 83, asked hesitant staffers before they successfully unionized. "You'd be crazy not to join a union."






































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