The most hideous man on earth.



Message to the troops: Do not collaborate with the illegal immigrant detention camps

Dear Friend.

In our new October PDF newsletter, we're again talking about the massive military-hosted immigrant detention camps decreed this summer by the Trump Administration. Just the idea of these concentration camps brings back memories of the forced relocation and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. While resistance has slowed them down, they are moving forward. Many of us thought something like that could never happen again, and yet, here we are.

We need to reach the troops with this simple challenge: Do not collaborate with the illegal immigrant detention camps. With your help, we'll spend one penny per military service member--$20,000--on a strategic outreach campaign. Our stretch goal is two cents.

Along with everything else you can do to resist this affront to humanity, please support our campaign to challenge military personnel to refuse these illegal orders. Your tax-deductible donation of $50 or $100 will make a huge difference.

Also in this issue: Army Capt. Brittany DeBarros / Shutting down recruiting center; Hoisting peace flag / Presidio 27 "mutiny" 50th anniversary events / Whistleblower Reality Winner update--"So unfair" says Trump

More info


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

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist




New "Refuse War" Shirts

We've launched a new shirt store to raise funds to support war resisters. 

In addition to the Courage to Resist logo shirts we've offered in the past, we now  have a few fun designs, including a grim reaper, a "Refuse War, Go AWOL" travel theme, and a sporty "AWOL: Support Military War Resisters" shirt.

Shirts are $25 each for small through XL, and bit more for larger sizes. Please allow 9-12 days for delivery within the United States.

50% of each shirt may qualify as a tax-deductible contribution.


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

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



Courage to Resist

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Trump calls on military to deploy to the southern border

DoD formally approves military-hosted immigrant concentration camps as non-military sites fill up

Brittany DeBarros is a captain in the US Army; however, her quote above reflects her personal views and not those of the US military.

Hi Friend.

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, once again declared that active duty US military personnel need to be deployed to the southern border in order to repel, "the assault on our country." (Militarytimes.com, October 18, 2018)

It's easy to attack a ragtag group of immigrants, traveling in a public caravan, seeking asylum, and this kind of rhetoric plays well to his anti-immigration base, leading up to the midterm elections. However, it's more than just rhetoric.

This summer, the Trump Administration ordered the military to detain tens of thousands of immigrants in tent cities across the United States. Eight military installations were identified, primarily those near the southern border with unused air strips. The military agreed, and the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services (HHS) got onboard.

In light of Trump's escalating declarations of mobilizing the military to enforce immigration laws, we believe it is urgent that we take the administration at its word. Our government  intends to have the military build these camps, because they plan on detaining tens of thousands more immigrants in the United States – very soon.

"I was sent to a camp at just 5 years old — but even then, they didn't separate children from families," stated actor George Takei recently (June 19, 2018 Foreign Policy op-ed), comparing today's immigrant detention camps to what Japanese American citizens, himself included, endured during World War II. "My family was sent to a racetrack for several weeks to live in a horse stall, but at least we had each other."

We need military service members to speak up and share with us what's happening as plans develop. Courage to Resist believes that all military personnel have a moral and legal obligation to refuse to comply with any order that involves collaboration with these immigrant concentration camps.

Read our complete update

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Event: Military ordered to host camps

SoleSpace, Oakland, California

Monday, November 5th ~ 6pm

In the SF Bay Area? You're invited to a public discussion, "Military ordered to host immigrant concentration camps," on Monday, November 5th at SoleSpace in Uptown Oakland, 1714 Telegraph Avenue. The event will begin promptly at 6:00 pm with a flamenco performance in honor of the youth currently being held at Tornillo Port of Entry. At 7:15 pm, attorney James Branum will present "Military law for civilian attorneys & advocates, an introduction" (90 min.). Attorney CLE credits available. Hosted by Courage to Resist and the Objector Church with military law presentation co-sponsored by the Bay Area Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild. For more info, visit couragetoresist.org/nov5

oct 2018 newsletter

In your new October 2018 PDF newsletter:

  • US military ordered to host massive immigrant concentration camps
  • Army Capt. Brittany DeBarros tweets truth
  • Shutting down recruiting center; Hoisting peace flag
  • Presidio 27 "mutiny" 50th anniversary events
  • Whistleblower Reality Winner update--"So unfair" says Trump 


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

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



Transform the Justice System







Court: Evidence To Free Mumia, To Be Continued...

District Attorney Larry Krasner Opposes Mumia Abu-Jamal's Petition for New Rights of Appeal – Despite Clear Evidence of Ronald Castille's Bias and Conflict of Interest When He Participated As a PA Supreme Court Justice Denying Abu-Jamal's Post-Conviction Appeals from 1998-2012

Next Court Date: October 29, 2018

Free Mumia Now!

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

With your help, we just might free him!

Check out this video:

This video includes photo of 1996 news report refuting Judge Castille's present assertion that he had not been requested at that time to recuse himself from this case, on which he had previously worked as a Prosecutor:

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

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

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

• Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent and framed!

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

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

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

• Courts have never treated Mumia fairly!

Will You Help Free Mumia?

Call DA Larry Krasner at (215) 686-8000

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

Krasner should cease opposing Mumia's legal petition.

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



A Call for a Mass Mobilization to Oppose NATO, War and Racism

Protest NATO, Washington, DC, Lafayette Park (across from the White House)

1 PM Saturday, March 30, 2019.

Additional actions will take place on Thursday April 4 at the opening of the NATO meeting

April 4, 2019, will mark the 51st anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the internationally revered leader in struggles against racism, poverty and war.

And yet, in a grotesque desecration of Rev. King's lifelong dedication to peace, this is the date that the military leaders of the North American Treaty Organization have chosen to celebrate NATO's 70th anniversary by holding its annual summit meeting in Washington, D.C. This is a deliberate insult to Rev. King and a clear message that Black lives and the lives of non-European humanity really do not matter.   

It was exactly one year before he was murdered that Rev. King gave his famous speech opposing the U.S. war in Vietnam, calling the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world" and declaring that he could not be silent.

We cannot be silent either. Since its founding, the U.S.-led NATO has been the world's deadliest military alliance, causing untold suffering and devastation throughout Northern Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

Hundreds of thousands have died in U.S./NATO wars in Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yugoslavia. Millions of refugees are now risking their lives trying to escape the carnage that these wars have brought to their homelands, while workers in the 29 NATO member-countries are told they must abandon hard-won social programs in order to meet U.S. demands for even more military spending.

Every year when NATO holds its summits, there have been massive protests: in Chicago, Wales, Warsaw, Brussels. 2019 will be no exception.

The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) is calling for a mass mobilization in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 30.  Additional actions will take place on April 4 at the opening of the NATO meeting. 

We invite you to join with us in this effort. As Rev. King taught us, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

No to NATO!

End All U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad!

Bring the Troops Home Now! 

No to Racism! 

The Administrative Committee of UNAC,

To add your endorsement to this call, please go here: http://www.no2nato2019.org/endorse-the-action.html

Please donate to keep UNAC strong: https://www.unacpeace.org/donate.html 

If your organization would like to join the UNAC coalition, please click here: https://www.unacpeace.org/join.html



Good News! Kevin "Rashid" Johnson has been moved back to Sussex 1 state prison in Virginia and he is no longer on death row. His property has been returned and he's able to receive and send 

mail and make phone calls.

Many thanks to all who phoned and wrote to the prison on his behalf.


you can also hear a recent interview with Rashid on Final Straw podcast here: https://thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org/post/tag/kevin-rashid-johnson/

Write to Rashid:

Kevin Rashid Johnson's writings and artwork have been widely circulated. He is the author of a book,Panther Vision: Essential Party Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, Minister of Defense, New Afrikan Black Panther Party, (Kersplebedeb, 2010).

Write or email:

Kevin Johnson, #1007485

Sussex II State Prison

24414 Musselwhite Drive

Waverly, VA 23891




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.



Stop JROTC Programs

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!



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



    Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 

    Charity for the Wealthy!





    1) Migrant Caravan Driven by Hope but Uncertain of Success

    By Kirk Semple, Annie Correal and Maya Averbuch, October 23. 2018


    Central American migrants in the main square of Huixtla, Mexico.CreditCreditLuis Antonio Rojas for The New York Times

    HUIXTLA, Mexico — Soon after dawn on Tuesday, the mayor stood on the central plaza of his town here in southern Mexico and took stock.

    Thousands of migrants — men, women, entire families — had wandered into town the day before, many on foot, and turned the humble commercial district into a vast makeshift encampment. They had filled every square foot of the plaza, including its bandshell, and jammed the sidewalks and storefronts, sprawling on cardboard, blankets, plastic sheeting and spare clothes.

    "This is straight-up biblical," said Julio Raúl García Márquez, 43, a Guatemalan traveling with his wife, their 1-year-old son and a cousin. They spent part of the night on sheets of cardboard in the central square.

    Nearby, two pairs of jeans had been hung to dry on the bust of Venustiano Carranza, a hero of the Mexican Revolution. Municipal trash cans were buried under mounds of garbage.

    But the town's mayor, José Luis Laparra Calderón, was upbeat, even cheerful.

    "These people are fleeing from the poverty of their countries," he said. "These are working people. They aren't bringing bombs. They want to improve their lives." He added, "We want to make their passage through here as agreeable for them as possible."

    Tuesday was Day 12 of the migrant caravan, which began in Honduras and has grown in size and force like an avalanche, pushing north toward the United States.

    In cities and villages, along rural byways and in town squares, the migration has been propelled by an outpouring of support — from the local authorities, community groups and individuals who have handed out free food and water, secondhand clothes, diapers, blankets and loose change to help the procession move northward.

    The migrants, some wearing whatever they had on when they decided to leave behind Central America, many walking in flimsy shoes and flip-flops, are determined to make it to the border of the United States. Traveling in such a large group, they say, is much safer than braving the many dangers of the road alone.

    By some estimates, the caravan numbers more than 7,000; officials here in Huixtla estimated that about 5,000 had spent Monday night in their town.

    Some plan to apply for asylum in the United States, while others know that their only chance of entry is the illegal way. Still others haven't thought that far ahead, at least not in any detail.

    By now, most if not all have heard about President Trump's attacks on the caravan, his threats to militarize the border, and the difficulties of gaining legal access to the United States.

    But in interviews, scores of migrants seemed driven by a kind of blind faith, born of desperation, that this is their best chance to escape the poverty, violence and hardship they knew at home and to build better lives. The first thing they need to do, they say, is to get to the border.

    Josué Rosales, 28, from Honduras, said that he was unsure whether the caravan would make it all the way to the border and be able to cross into the United States. Still, he felt he had no choice but to try: In Honduras, he had no steady job and he'd been robbed in the streets.

    "If God's willing, the president will give us permits to work in the United States," he said.

    Many of the caravan's participants seemed unaware that their migration had become a focal point in the American midterm elections. Many said they did not even know that the United States was voting in a matter of weeks, and that their trek north had become such a contentious part of the election.

    "The bottom line is, most people in Honduras frankly could not care less about elections in the U.S.," said Oscar Chacón, the executive director of Alianza Americas, a Chicago-based network of American immigrant groups, who was meeting with advocates in Central America this week.

    "When you are desperate, you believe in miracles," he said. "They truly hope that by making this show of collectiveness, by joining this caravan, somebody's heart will be touched and a miracle will happen."

    On Tuesday, Mr. Trump continued to lash out at the caravan, saying, "We cannot allow our country to be violated like this." But he also acknowledged that he had no proof for his earlier claim on Twitter that there were "unknown Middle Easterners" in the caravan, though he then added that "there could very well could be." No government agency has confirmed Mr. Trump's claim.

    Vice President Mike Pence said that the migrants had been organized "by leftist groups" and funded by Venezuela, and that "it is inconceivable that there would not be individuals from the Middle East as part of this growing caravan."

    Despite their characterization, scores of interviews with the migrants showed them to be largely adults from Central America looking for work, including many traveling with family members. Many were apparently scraping by on what little money they brought from home or on handouts from strangers along the way, undercutting any suggestion of foreign funding for a mass migration.

    The caravan seems to have been spurred, if anything, by internal Honduran disputes. Only since then has it been swept into American politics, largely by Mr. Trump's tweets.

    The migrant caravan began as others had — as a small group, taking off early in the morning from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Oct. 12. Facebook messages and fliers disseminated by advocates and migrants got the word out weeks before the caravan was set to take off, priming others to join forces.

    But what began as a modest group quickly swelled. One Honduran pro-government television station began covering the migration, citing claims that a leftist opposition activist, Bartolo Fuentes, was paying for the food and transportation of migrants. The publicity, migrants said, encouraged many to join.

    Mr. Fuentes denies it. But he and at least one other leftist politician did indeed post messages denouncing conditions in Honduras and blaming their government. "We are not going because we want to," read one flier he shared on Facebook. "The violence and poverty expels us."

    Many participants joined the caravan on impulse.

    Ronald Borjas, a Honduran migrant, was staying with his mother when he heard about the caravan on television. "I packed my backpack and hugged my mother and left," he recalled.

    Most, it appears, are heading to the United States for the first time, though a sizable contingent are deportees trying to get back. Many said the decision to leave their homeland, even if arrived at quickly, was aching.

    "It hurts me," said Kilber Martinez, 26, a Honduran migrant, riding in the back of a pickup truck, overpacked with more than two dozen young men. "The land where you were born is like the mother."

    At the wheel of Mr. Martinez's truck was Andrés Orozco, a primary-school teacher in Huixtla. After the school day had ended on Monday, he grabbed his brother-in-law's truck and headed out along the highway to ferry migrants into the town. He planned to shuttle back and forth "until the gas ran out."

    Despite attempts by the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico to impede its progress, the caravan has continued, moving organically like this, without any apparent master plan or declared organizers, and slowed only by human frailty.

    When the exhausted migrants streamed into Huixtla on Monday afternoon, the town's officials directed them to a sprawling sports complex already stockpiled with bottled water, thousands of sandwiches, medical crews and security.

    A nurse said she treated people for blisters, sunburn and dehydration. One man, a diabetic, wanted to check his blood sugar level. But the most serious dangers of the trek became very real with the news that a migrant had died after falling off the back of a crowded truck.

    In the central plaza, migrants strung up plastic sheeting for shelter between trees and lamp posts, just in time for a light rain. Others prepared for the evening by seeking shelter in a covered outdoor basketball court, in a Catholic church and in the shuttered doorways of shops throughout the central commercial district.

    A group from a Christian radio station brought huge pots of spaghetti, beans and rice. A preacher showed up, and some migrants knelt around him.

    A nurse said she treated people for blisters, sunburn and dehydration. One man, a diabetic, wanted to check his blood sugar level. But the most serious dangers of the trek became very real with the news that a migrant had died after falling off the back of a crowded truck.

    In the central plaza, migrants strung up plastic sheeting for shelter between trees and lamp posts, just in time for a light rain. Others prepared for the evening by seeking shelter in a covered outdoor basketball court, in a Catholic church and in the shuttered doorways of shops throughout the central commercial district.

    A group from a Christian radio station brought huge pots of spaghetti, beans and rice. A preacher showed up, and some migrants knelt around him.

    Rafael Gómez Borraz, the owner of Pao's Restaurant, distributed plates of rice and beans. In the 1990s he had worked in the United States, washing dishes and laying tile alongside Central Americans, he said. That made him more sympathetic to the plight of the caravan's members.

    "People are afraid that gangs might have infiltrated the group," he said. "But these are good people."

    Later, a local cumbia band started playing and several migrants, somehow marshaling their energy after many days of grueling travel, danced.

    Some migrants bathed in a nearby river, including Kinzinyer Gabriela Hernandez, 17, a Honduran migrant who was traveling with her 2-year-old daughter and 16-year-old sister.

    "My husband knows that we're on our way, but not exactly where we are," said Ms. Hernandez, who said she was named after Henry Kissinger, the former United States secretary of state. "God gives me the faith to keep going."

    Azam Ahmed contributed reporting from Mexico City, Elisabeth Malkin from Guadalajara, and Katie Rogers from Washington.



    2) Doctors in U.K. Repair Spinal Cords in the Womb

    By Ceylan Yeginsu, October 24, 2018


    The specialist fetal surgery was carried out over the summer at the University College Hospital in London.CreditCreditDan Kitwood/Getty Images

    LONDON — A team of surgeons has repaired the spinal cords of two babies while they were still in their mothers' wombs, the first surgery of its kind in Britain.

    The operations were carried out over the summer at University College Hospital in London by 30 surgeons to treat spina bifida, a condition in which the spinal column and spinal cord do not develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.

    "This results in changes to the brain, as well as severe permanent damage to the nerves on the lower half of the body," Dominic Thompson, a neurosurgeon at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London who was involved in the surgery, said Thursday in a statement.

    The surgery is usually performed after birth, but research has shown that the earlier the condition is treated, the greater the chances of healthy mobility. Those born with spina bifida are often unable to walk and have to undergo a series of operations to drain fluid from their brain.

    The prenatal surgery involved opening the uterus, exposing the spina bifida and closing the defect without delivering the baby. Previously, mothers-to-be in Britain had to travel to the United States, Belgium or Switzerland to receive the prenatal surgery or to wait for the baby to be born.

    The babies who had the surgery this summer, and their mothers, were doing well, according to a spokeswoman for University College London Hospitals.

    Prof. Anna David, a fetal medicine consultant at the Institute for Women's Health at University College London, said that it took three years to bring the procedure to Britain, where more than 200 children are born with spina bifida each year.

    "Our resolve to offer this service was based on the findings of a large, multicenter, randomized control trial in the U.S., which compared prenatal closure to postnatal closure, and the observation that fetal surgery could be safely reproduced in Europe by proper training," Professor David said in an email.

    The United States trial showed that prenatal closing of the defect resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the need for a surgical shunt — a device that relieves pressure on the brain caused by fluid accumulation — in newborns. The procedure can have long-term risks and complications. The prenatal procedure also showed a significant improvement in the babies' motor function at 30 months of age.

    "Long-term follow-up of children that have undergone prenatal closure in the womb suggests that brain function, mobility and total independence were higher in nonshunted than shunted children aged 5," Prof. Paolo De Coppi of the U.C.L. Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, said in the study.

    The surgery will be made available for suitable patients at the Center for Prenatal Therapy at University College London Hospitals and Great Ormond Street. It takes about 90 minutes and carries a risk of premature labor.

    The British government is preparing a consultation on whether to add folic acid to flour to help reduce birth defects like spina bifida. Research from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition suggests that folic acid significantly reduces the risk of fetal abnormities.

    The public health minister, Steve Brine, announced on Tuesday that the government would consider evidence about the benefits of folic acid fortification, as well as the practicality and safety.

    Women who are trying to become pregnant are advised to take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid before they conceive or during the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy, but many women with unplanned pregnancies miss out on the nutrients, government research has found.

    Plans to fortify flour with folic acid are aimed at reaching those with the lowest intake, including younger women from deprived backgrounds.

    "All women should be able to access the nutrients they need for a healthy pregnancy," Mr. Brine said in a statement. "And in turn, reduce the risk of devastating complications."



    3) In defense of the Central American refugees walking toward the U.S. border

    By Freedom Socialist Party, October 24, 2018


    Honduran migrants move north after crossing the border from Honduras into Guatemala. (John Moore / Getty Images)

    Yesterday, Oct. 23, President Trump held a press conference denouncing the growing caravan of refugees from Honduras and Guatemala who are making their way toward the U.S./Mexican border in hopes of getting asylum in the United States. The president proved once again he is a professional liar who cannot keep his falsehoods straight, even in a single sentence. 

    Trump claimed that the caravan contained Middle Eastern terrorists, but when pressed by the media acknowledged he had "no proof," then said that there "very well could be" and finally that "there don't necessarily have to be." He also insisted M-13 gangsters had joined the exodus without any proof.

    The president denied queries that he might be using the caravan to gain political points by whipping up xenophobic fears. "I'm a very non-political person," he asserted, ridiculously.

    He then called on Vice President Pence to repeat claims allegedly made by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in a phone conversation Tuesday morning. According to Pence, Hernández said that the migrant group was financed by Venezuela and organized by Honduran leftists. In fact, Bartolo Fuentes, a former Honduran legislator, is the initiator of the caravan, one of many that have left Honduras over the years to escape poverty and repression.

    A reporter asked Trump if cutting off aid to countries which allowed the refugees to head toward the U.S. border was a good idea, given that economic conditions were creating their need to seek asylum. The president's response was that he could not allow the U.S. to be "violated like this."

    And this was perhaps the biggest lie of all. It is the United States of America which has violated the rights of the people of Central and Latin America through its devastating economic policies and by supporting completely corrupt regimes in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico — and not over a single year or decade, but over a century.

    In 1954, the CIA engineered a coup against the democratically elected government of President Jacobo Árbenz in Guatemala. This resulted in a 30-year civil war during which the U.S. supported one bloody, right-wing regime after another. Today the U.S. is defending Guatemala's president against a massive popular uprising over spectacular government corruption.

    In 2009, the Honduran military carried out a coup against democratically elected President José Manuel Zelaya. The coup was denounced by the Organization of American States but endorsed by the U.S., which for years has used the country as a base of military operations against revolutions in Central America, most memorably for President Reagan's contra war against the Sandinistas.

    Meanwhile, Mexico receives millions and millions of dollars in U.S. military aid every year to support a profoundly dangerous and undemocratic regime that undermines labor and indigenous rights and under which femicide is commonplace.

    It is the people of Latin America who have been abused and exploited by their neighbor to the north, not the other way around. Now they are fleeing because of the intolerable conditions created or condoned by the U.S. government for the benefit of U.S. business.

    In the name of basic human solidarity and justice, the Freedom Socialist Party calls on the United States to open its border with Mexico and allow these refugees into the country. We also call for an immediate halt to all military aid to Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras as well as the closing of all U.S. military bases and the withdrawal of all U.S. soldiers and military contractors from Latin America.



    4) 'I'm ecstatic': black liberation prisoner Mike Africa Sr released after 40 years

    By Ed Pilkington, October 23, 2018


    Move 9 prisoner Mike Africa Sr and his wife Debbie Africa reunited in Philadelphia after 40 years in prison. Photograph: Tommy Oliver/@producertommy

    Mike Africa Sr has become the second member of the Philadelphia-based group of black radicals known as the Move 9 to be released from prison, more than 40 years after they were arrested for the death of a police officer in one of the most dramatic shootouts of the black liberation era.

    He was paroled from SCI Phoenix prison in Pennsylvania on Tuesday morning to be reunited with his wife Debbie Africa, who was also let out on parole in June having been arrested alongside him at the climax of a police siege in 1978. They were joined by their son, Mike Africa Jr, who until Tuesday had never spent time with both parents in the same room.

    "I'm ecstatic coming from where I was just a couple of hours ago," Mike Sr told the Guardian, speaking from his son's house outside Philadelphia. "I wasn't convinced in my mind that this would happen until I walked out the prison gates."

    He said it was amazing to be reunited with his wife, who was held in separate women's prisons for 40 years. "I missed her and I loved her. She's been my girl since we were kids. That's never wavered at all."

    Debbie Africa said she was overwhelmed to have her family back.

    Mike Africa Sr's release marks a big step in the struggle of black militants who are still behind bars decades after they were arrested for police killings and other violent acts in the late 1960s and 1970s. The Guardian highlighted their plight in July.

    Eighteen individuals, including two Move women, Janine Phillips Africa and Janet Hollaway Africa, remain in prison. Many of them insist they are innocent of the charges brought against them.

    In the case of the Move 9, they were convicted collectively of the death of a police officer, James Ramp, in the 1978 siege of their group home in Philadelphia even though only one shot killed him. Debbie Africa was eight months pregnant at the time.

    Mike Africa Sr's parole is of even greater consequence for his family, and especially for his son Mike Africa Jr, who for 40 years has never seen both of his parents together or out of prison. He was born in a cell where his mother Debbie gave birth to him a month after she and her husband were arrested during the siege.

    For three days Debbie kept her baby son concealed in the cell, hiding him under the covers, until she was forced to hand him over to prison guards. With both parents imprisoned until the eve of his 40th birthday, Mike Jr effectively became an orphan of the black liberation struggle.

    He was raised by relatives and other members of Move and now lives with a family of his own outside Philadelphia.

    "I'm having an out-of-body experience right now," Mike Jr told the Guardian as he drove his father back to his home to be reunited with Debbie. "I'm floating over the top of the car."

    He said that this was what he had waiting for more than four decades – to be together for the first time with both his parents. "I've always hoped for this, but I never knew that it would happen," he said.

    The 1978 siege of the Move 9 house in the Powelton Village neighborhood of Philadelphia was one of the most violent and visceral incidents of the years of black liberation struggle. At the time, 12 adults and 11 children were living in a communal house, along with 48 dogs.

    Move was a unique organization that mixed revolutionary ideology better associated with the Black Panther party with care for nature and the environment better associated with flower power and the hippy movement. The group still exists today, largely in the Philadelphia area, and continues to campaign for the release of its remaining members behind bars.

    Mike Sr's release reduces the number of still-incarcerated Move 9 members to five. In addition to his parole and that of his wife, two others have died behind bars from health complications related to their imprisonment – Merle Austin Africa, in March 1998, and Phil Africa in January 2015.

    Brad Thomson, of the Chicago-based People's Law Office, who was part of the legal team presenting the released prisoner, said that Mike Sr's record in prison was exceptional, making him a prime candidate for parole. "With this decision, the parole board recognizes that Mike, like Debbie, and the rest of the Move 9, poses absolutely no threat to the community."

    The siege that led to the incarceration of five Move men and four women occurred on 8 August 1978. Tension had mounted for months between the commune and Philadelphia police following complaints from neighbors and fears that the group was stockpiling weapons.

    The order was given for hundreds of police officers to go in and evict the residents by the notoriously hardline then mayor of Philadelphia, the city's former police commissioner Frank Rizzo. In the melee, Ramp was killed.

    ll nine adult members of Move living in the house were held responsible for the shooting and sentenced to 30 to 100 years. At trial they told the jury that they had no working firearms in the house, though that was disputed by prosecutors.

    With Mike and Debbie Africa now released, thoughts are turning to the remaining five Move members still in prison. Petitions for habeas corpus have been filed in federal court on behalf of the two women, Janine Phillips Africa and Janet Hollaway Africa, challenging recent parole denials.

    Bret Grote, of the Abolitionist Law Center, another lawyer for the Move 9, said: "This historic release of Mike Africa renders the parole board's decision to deny the rest of the Move 9 all the more incomprehensible. For example, Janet and Janine have both maintained prison records that are as exemplary as Mike's and essentially identical to that of Debbie, yet they were inexplicably denied parole in May."

    Seven years after the siege of the Move house, a second trauma was dealt to the black radical group. The then mayor of Philadelphia, Wilson Goode, gave the go-ahead for an incendiary bomb to be dropped on top of another Move house.

    It caused an inferno that killed 11 people, including five children. More than 60 houses in the predominantly African American neighborhood were razed to the ground.



    5) Can Eating Organic Food Lower Your Cancer Risk?

    By Ron Caryn Rabin, October 23, 2018


    People who buy organic food are usually convinced it's better for their health, and they're willing to pay dearly for it. But until now, evidence of the benefits of eating organic has been lacking.

    Now a new French study that followed 70,000 adults, most of them women, for five years has reported that the most frequent consumers of organic food had 25 percent fewer cancers over all than those who never ate organic. Those who ate the most organic fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat and other foods had a particularly steep drop in the incidence of lymphomas, and a significant reduction in postmenopausal breast cancers.

    The magnitude of protection surprised the study authors. "We did expect to find a reduction, but the extent of the reduction is quite important," said Julia Baudry, the study's lead author and a researcher with the Center of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics Sorbonne Paris Cité of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. She noted the study does not prove an organic diet causes a reduction in cancers, but strongly suggests "that an organic-based diet could contribute to reducing cancer risk."

    The study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, was paid for entirely by public and government funds.

    Nutrition experts from Harvard who wrote a commentary accompanying the study expressed caution, however, criticizing the researchers' failure to test pesticide residue levels in participants in order to validate exposure levels. They called for more long-term government-funded studies to confirm the results. 

    "From a practical point of view, the results are still preliminary, and not sufficient to change dietary recommendations about cancer prevention," said Dr. Frank B. Hu, one of the authors of the commentary and the chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

    He said it was more important for Americans to simply eat more fruits and vegetables, whether the produce is organic or not, if they want to prevent cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends consuming a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of refined grains and limited amounts of red meat, processed meat and added sugars.

    Dr. Hu called for government bodies like the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Agriculture to fund research to evaluate the effects of an organic diet, saying there is "strong enough scientific rationale, and a high need from the public health point of view."

    The only other large study that has asked participants about organic food consumption with reference to cancer was a large British study from 2014. While it found a significantly lower risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among women who said they usually or always ate organic food, it also found a higher rate of breast cancers in the organic consumers — and no overall reduction in cancer risk.

    The authors of that study, known as the Million Women study, said at the time that wealthier, more educated women in the study, who were more likely to purchase organic food, also had risk factors that increase the likelihood of having breast cancer, such as having fewer children and higher alcohol consumption.

    The organic food market has been growing in recent years, both in Europe and the United States. Sales of organic food increased to $45.2 billion last year in the United States, according to the Organic Trade Association's 2018 survey.

    For food to be certified organic by the Department of Agriculture, produce must be grown without the use of most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and may not contain genetically modified organisms. Meat must be produced by raising animals fed organic food without the use of hormones or antibiotics. Such items now represent 5.5 percent of all food sold in retail outlets, according to the organic trade group.

    A representative of the Alliance for Food and Farming, a group that seeks to allay public concerns about pesticides, said consumers should not worry about cancer risks from consuming conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables. "Decades of peer-reviewed nutritional studies largely conducted using conventionally grown produce have shown that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevents diseases, like cancer, and leads to a longer life," its executive director, Teresa Thorne, said in an emailed statement.

    For the study, researchers recruited 68,946 volunteers who were 44, on average, when the study began. The vast majority, 78 percent, were women. 

    Participants provided detailed information about how frequently they consumed 16 different types of organic foods. The researchers asked about a wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, dairy and soy products, meat, fish and eggs, as well as grains and legumes, bread and cereals, flour, oils and condiments, wine, coffee and teas, biscuits and chocolate and sugar, and even dietary supplements. Study volunteers provided three 24-hour records of their intake, including portion sizes, over a two-week period.

    The information was far more detailed than that provided by participants in the British Million Women study, who responded to only a single question about how often they ate organic.

    Participants in the French study also provided information about their general health status, their occupation, education, income and other details, like whether they smoked. Since people who eat organic food tend to be health-conscious and may benefit from other healthful behaviors, and also tend to have higher incomes and more years of education than those who don't eat organic, the researchers made adjustments to account for differences in these characteristics, as well as such factors as physical activity, smoking, use of alcohol, a family history of cancer and weight.

    Even after these adjustments, the most frequent consumers of organic food had 76 percent fewer lymphomas, with 86 percent fewer non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, and a 34 percent reduction in breast cancers that develop after menopause.

    The reductions in lymphomas may not be all that surprising. Epidemiological studies have consistently found a higher incidence of some lymphomas among people like farmers and farm workers who are exposed to certain pesticides through their work.

    The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified three pesticides commonly used in farming — glyphosate, malathion and diazinon — as probable human carcinogens, and linked all three to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

    One reason an organic diet may reduce breast cancer risk is because many pesticides are endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen function, and hormones play a causal role in breast cancer.



    6) 'There's a Black Man in the Children's Area' and Other Baseless Accusations

    Readers share stories of themselves or friends and relatives deemed suspicious for simply walking around in their own skin.

    By Rachel L. Harris and Lisa Tarchak, October 24, 2018


    Aloysius McMahan was among hundreds at the "BBQ-ing While Black" event in Oakland, Calif., in May in response to a video of a woman complaining to the police about black people barbecuing in the park. CreditLaura A. Oda/East Bay Times, via Associated Press

    In "To the Next 'BBQ Becky': Don't Call 911. Call 1-844-WYT-FEAR," Niecy Nash, the actress and comedian, uses a satirical infomercial to call attention to society's "fear of the other," specifically when white people call the police on black people who are just going about their business. 

    Readers responded with stories of when they or someone they knew had been unfairly targeted. Some challenged their accusers, others laughed them off. The exhaustion of constantly being watched was weighing on one reader, Kim, who wrote that while she laughed at the video, "the truth is, this stuff is not funny." 

    The infomercial may be fake, but our hotline is real and open to calls. Tell us your story by leaving a message at 1-844-WYT-FEAR or by emailing a video message to 844WYTFEAR@nytimes.com.

    I am a librarian and a white woman. A few years ago, I was working at the reference desk at a library in a suburb of Salt Lake City when an older white woman came to me and whispered, "There's a black man in the children's area." I looked at her with concern and replied, "What exactly would you like me to do with that information, ma'am?" "Well," she sniffed, "I just thought you should know." I replied, "I do know. That is Mr. —, he is our neighbor and brings his children to story time every week."

    I confess that I laughed and added, "I'll be sure to inform him of your concern." She blanched, scowled at me and scurried away. I smiled and waved, thinking, "This is the 21st century and this is a public building, you miserable old biddy." — MS, Orlando

    I went to a famous medical school that I prefer not to name. I was studying in a conference room at midnight during a blizzard, wearing a baseball cap backward, a T-shirt and socks. Police officers approached me with reports that I was robbing the medical school and were in the process of handcuffing me when I said, "How can I rob this place in a blizzard, wearing socks?" 

    They asked for proof that I was a medical student (a bunch of medical books wasn't enough). The problem was, we didn't have student IDs. This was the fifth time I was harassed by police within six months. Soon after, the school issued IDs so that kids of color could prove that we belonged.

    Twenty years have gone by and I'm routinely confused for the janitor, despite the fact that I am the medical director and chairman for 100-plus doctors. But at least nobody calls the police anymore. — JRMW, Minneapolis

    I'm white, but I'll never forget the time my son and his black friend — they were both about 8 or 9 at the time — went to an art store in Noe Valley, San Francisco, to get some markers. They came home empty-handed and told the same story: A salesperson in the store followed my son's friend around and then told him to get out.

    I brought them back to the store and sent them in first. Then I casually walked in, not acknowledging them, and pretended to shop. Immediately, the salesperson started following my son's friend. You should have seen her face when I said they were with me.

    The horror of this racism is that it starts when children are so young. It's insidious and thoroughly rooted in our society. The amount of hurt it causes is incalculable and it has to stop. — Bonnie Weinstein, San Francisco

    I'm an older white woman who shares a home with a black woman and her two sons. One evening, her oldest son, who is 18, wanted to walk up to the convenience store at the front of our neighborhood. She would not let him. She insisted that she drive him there. I gave her a bit of a hard time about babying her 18-year-old, telling her that my son used to make that walk all the time when he was younger and that it was perfectly safe. 

    A week or two later there was an incident, not all that far from us, where a young black man was killed by a fearful white man with a gun. The boy was simply taking a shortcut through a neighborhood and ended up dead. As my friend and I watched the news, I apologized to her for giving her a hard time. I had forgotten that there was a big difference between my white son walking to the store and her black son walking the same route. — Patty O, Deltona

    Once in high school my future husband and his friends gave me a ride home from school. I was happy because I didn't have a car and I hated taking the bus. My husband and his friends were all big boys. They played football and are black. I am white and petite. We were pulled over by the police. He asked me to get out of the car and so I did. Then he asked me if I was safe and if I had gone willingly. I was only 17 and it was a huge eye opener for me. My parents didn't raise me with any racist or bigoted ideas. I was more shocked than the other people in the car. We've been together for 27 years now and thankfully most people are kind and accept us. There have been other incidents, but this one sticks with me the most. — DLaMar, rural Southern California

    In 2002, I was with a group of students serving internships in Washington. Our internship program had arranged a visit to the Library of Congress so that we could get researcher cards and take a tour. A couple of days later, during our seminar, our professor asked about the visit. One student, the only black student in our group, told us how a staff person at the Library of Congress had asked her if she "belonged with our tour." And when she said yes, was further questioned on whether "she was sure she belonged." We were all mortified and outraged. I wish we'd known in the moment that had happened to her. I do know the professor complained to the Library of Congress, but I don't know that anything else was done. I was shocked that happened in 2002. Shocked that it's still going on in 2018. I guess I shouldn't be. — AJ, California

    Twenty-five years ago, while attending my husband's family reunion in Bergen County, New Jersey — a very affluent neighborhood — my son, being the only brown boy among his blond, brunette and redhead white cousins, was playing and throwing golf balls he found into a pond. A police officer sitting in his patrol car followed him around shouting through his bullhorn to drop the golf balls that were laying around. My son was frightened until a very thoughtful white woman escorted my son to his aunt's house and informed me of what had occurred. It was that evening I had to first give my 6-year-old brown son "the talk." I feared for his life then, as I still do today. — cinnamon roots, Brooklyn

    Sadly, this happens here in Canada too. A woman once called the police to report that she had seen a black man driving a car with two white children in it. When she was asked if the children were in distress or anything of that nature, she said no. When asked what made her call, she said that it just didn't look right. She was informed by the police officer that if the car was a certain make and model, it was probably the officer's husband with his two children. My wife, the officer, is white, and I am black. — Desden, Toronto

    For the last 18 years I've mentored three different young men of color through a large national organization. I've done it in two of America's largest cities. I can't count the number of times there's been grief from my fellow white people when they'd see us together, at restaurants, stores, movie theaters, sporting events. There were always looks and snide comments. Don't get me started on the rare occasion when one of the young men would wander away from me in a store. They'd be followed by security, management, you name it. Sadly, it was usually in predominantly white neighborhoods.

    You know where I never, ever had an issue? In neighborhoods where the people were predominantly nonwhite. So, I'm not surprised at all by these incidents. I am, however, saddened, as I truly thought they were on the decline. — Martin B, New York



    7) Spain to Close Most Coal Mines

    Agreement with unions includes early retirement for miners, re-skilling and environmental restoration

    By Arthur Neslen, October 25, 2018


    Spanish coalminers will be offered early retirement.

    Spainis to shut down most of its coalmines by the end of the year after government and unions struck a deal that will mean €250 million ($285,611,500.00) will be invested in mining regions over the next decade.

    Pedro Sánchez's new leftwing administrationhas moved quickly on environmental policy, abolishing a controversial "sunshine tax"on the solar industry, and announcing the launch of Spain's long-delayed national climate plan next month.

    Unionshailed the mining deal—which covers Spain's privately owned pits—as a model agreement. It mixes early retirement schemes for miners over 48, with environmental restoration work in pit communities and re-skilling schemes for cutting-edge green industries.

    Teresa Ribera, the minister for ecological transition, said: "With this agreement, we have solved the first urgent task we had on the table when we came to government. Our aim has been to leave no one behind. We also want to go further, we want to innovate. That is why we offer the drawing up of 'Just Transition' contracts, with the aim of helping the regions to consolidate the employment of the future."

    More than a thousand miners and subcontractors will lose their jobs when ten pits close by the end of the year. Almost all of the sites were uneconomic concerns that the European commission had allowed Spain to temporarily keep open with a €2.1 billion ($2.4 billion) state aidplan.

    Montserrat Mir, the Spanish confederalsecretary for the European Trades Union Congress, said the "just transition" model could be applied elsewhere.

    "Spain can export this deal as an example of good practice," she said. "We have shown that it's possible to follow the Paris agreement without damage [to people's livelihoods]. We don't need to choose between a job and protecting the environment. It is possible to have both."

    About 600 workers in Spain's northern mining regions—Asturias, Aragón, and Castilla y León—are set to benefit from social aid under the scheme, while about 60 percent of the miners will be able to opt for early retirement.

    Laura Martin-Murillo, a government negotiator, described the pact as "the end of a process of restructuring for many communities that has been going on for decades. It had to be done sensitively to bring hope to places that sometimes have lost faith that it could work. A lot of young people abandoned these areas, and they experienced a change in identity."

    Negotiations with the last few hundred miners employed in publicly owned mines would begin now, she added. "We will look at the same just transition plans for those workers," she said.

    Spain's coal industry employed more than 100,000 miners in the 1960s, but its energy dominance was eroded by cheap imports and increasing awareness of the industry's environmentalhealth and climate costs. National coal provides just 2.3 percent of Spain's electricity.






    A Yemeni child suffering from malnutrition is seen on a hospital bed in the district of Aslam in the northwestern Hajjah province on September 28.

    The conflict began when Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized control of the majority of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies have fought to support the internationally recognized government, which has gone into exile. The U.S. has provided military assistance to the coalition, expanding the support under the administration of President Donald Trump.

    In three years, at least 10,000 people have died and millions have been displaced. Civilians have found themselves caught in the middle, trapped between airstrikes, land mines and bullets. The country is also suffering from the worst cholera outbreak in the world, with 10,000 new suspected cases each week, a crisis made worse due to sanitation facilities being destroyed by airstrikes.

    "There's no question we should be ashamed," Grande said, directing her comments at the international community. "And we should, every day that we wake up, renew our commitment to do everything possible to help the people that are suffering and end the conflict."

    Rights groups and humanitarian workers have frequently criticized the Saudi-led coalition for killing civilians in the conflict. A recent airstrike killed 15 people near the port city of Hodeidah and left some 20 others injured. In October 2016, Saudi warplanes bombed a community hall hosting a funeral in Yemen's capital, leaving at least 140 dead and hundreds wounded.

    Despite international condemnation, the Saudi-led coalition has "failed to curb violations," according to a Human Rights Watch report published in August. The watchdog alleged that although Saudi Arabia claimed to be investigating war crimes, these claims could not be trusted.

    "Governments selling arms to Saudi Arabia should recognize that the coalition's sham investigations do not protect them from being complicit in serious violations in Yemen," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said at the time.

    With the recent high-profile disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a critic of the war in Yemen and who went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, some Republicans and Democrats have argued that the U.S. should cut military aid to the kingdom. Many politicians had already raised concerns about the U.S. support of Riyadh amid the catastrophe facing civilians in Yemen.

    "Certainly our involvement in Yemen with Saudi Arabia will be affected. That barely, that involvement barely survived in the last go-around with the National Defense Authorization Act. It certainly won't survive with this kind of accusation [of Saudi Arabia killing Khashoggi], if it is true," Republican Senator Jeff Flake told ABC's This Week.

    Trump has voiced reluctance to stop selling the kingdom weapons however, saying the Saudis will simply buy from China or Russia instead.



    9) The banking crisis 10 years on, and the danger of another crash

    CBS News, October 28, 2018


    An auction sign is posted in front of a foreclosed home May 7, 2009 in Richmond, California.

    Gretchen Morgenson was a business columnist for The New York Times during those dark and frightening autumn days of 2008, when Lehman Brothers was down brought by bad mortgage investments, and was liquidated; 25,000 employees lost their jobs. Fearing it would be next, Merrill Lynch agreed to a shotgun marriage with Bank of America. Meanwhile, two of the country's largest mortgage lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, required a government bailout.

    "It was very scary," Morgenson said. "Why are these companies failing? Who was next?"

    The banking system was near collapse, the stock market in free fall. And to many, it seemed like government officials were as clueless as the rest of us

    "There was just a real sense of being in a dark room filled with furniture that you were gonna stumble on and fall over and that you didn't know how to kind of maneuver in," Morgenson said. "There were so much that we didn't know, and that, really, people did not want us to know.

    Morgenson says that the seeds of the crash were sewn in the boom-years leading up to it. Home prices were skyrocketing, and many believed they would never fall.

    One homeowner, a Mr. Sabrowski, told the "CBS Evening News" in May 2005, "We're pretty confident that the housing market here is not going to go down at all; it's just going to go up!"

    To keep their monthly payments low, more and more borrowers were opting for risky mortgages. Broker Michael Brown told CBS News that year that roughly three-quarters of his business involved adjustable-rate mortgages: "And out of those adjustable rate mortgages, I'd say 95 percent are interest-only."

    And many lenders were stretching the limits, offering so-called "subprime mortgages" to those with shaky credit, allowing them to buy homes they could barely afford.

    Morgenson said, "There was, underlying this drive for home ownership in the United States, almost an overarching policy that bigger rates of home ownership was good for America."

    Few knew that at the same time some banks were pushing those untraditional mortgages, in order to repackage and sell them to global investors, said CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger. Pension funds, insurance companies, even other banks bought these mortgage-backed securities.

    It was, said Columbia University professor Adam Tooze, a trigger. "That's what sets the bomb off," he said.

    Tooze has focused his historian's eye for a new take on the causes and effects of the financial crisis, in his book, "Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World" (Viking). He says policymakers were caught by surprise at just how fast the crisis spread.

    "I don't think they understood the way in which a relatively small bit of the mortgage market, which is what sub-prime was, how that could spiral into this general crisis of the Atlantic banking system," Tooze said.

    As home prices plunged, millions of homeowners could not repay the money they borrowed, driving down the value of those mortgage-backed securities.

    And the banks didn't have the money that they were using to hold those mortgage securities with. "Because they'd borrowed it," Tooze said. 

    The result: taxpayers had to shell out billions to help cover the banks' losses. 

    Schlesinger asked, "What do you think would've happened if the mantra of, 'Let them fail,' were enacted?"

    "I think we would've seen a catastrophe of the type we've not seen before, worse even than the Great Depression of the 1930s," Tooze said.

    But those actions sparked fierce public anger, leaving little appetite for saving what some believed were reckless homebuyers. Rick Santelli, on CNBC, "How many people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills?"

    Swift action may have saved the financial system, but not before $19 trillion in household wealth evaporated, along with nearly nine million jobs. 

    Schlesinger asked, "In retrospect, a lot of people feel like the banks were bailed out – 'Okay, I understand that, save the system' – but people were left hanging out to dry. Is there something to that?"

    "Absolutely," Tooze said. "There's a huge imbalance between the emergency efforts that kept the system going, and the very slow-moving and inadequate measures that were enacted later on to support American homeowners.

    "They were very slow-acting. They provided relief to a small minority of American homeowners, many years after the acute crisis of 2008. And in the meantime, ten million American families lost their homes."

    All of which, Tooze says, made the recovery long, painful, and uneven for ordinary American families. "That's where the real loss is," he said. 

    So what about now? Despite recent turbulence, ten years later the stock market is still at an all-time high, and the unemployment rate is the lowest in nearly fifty years, but many of the new rules put in place after the crisis to protect the system from another meltdown are now being weakened.  

    The danger of that, Tooze said, "is that you have banks which are not able to take the hit of a large amount of unexpected losses, and are not able to withstand a sudden panic and loss of confidence when people just want to pull their money out of the banking system."

    Gretchen Morgenson said, "The banks are much more well-capitalized [today]. They have a lot more money set aside for a rainy day than they did leading up to the crisis. But by not prosecuting any very high-level executives who were involved, I think that message was very clear that this kind of behavior, this kind of big risk-taking behavior that risks the entire financial system, will not be punished."

    Morgenson, now an investigative reporter at the Wall Street Journal, worries that failure to hold anyone accountable will resonate for years to come.

    "I think people get what happened, that this inequality that was pervasive in the response to the crisis, the very powerful institutions got taken care of. The individuals who were powerless did not. I think people understand that very well," she said.



    10) Pittsburgh Shooting Victims Identified After City's 'Darkest Day'

    By Campbell Robertson, Sabrina Tavernise and Mihir Zaveri, Oct. 28, 2018


    An interfaith vigil was held after a shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh on Saturday left 11 people dead.

    PITTSBURGH — Authorities on Sunday identified the 11 victims of a shooting rampage at a Pittsburgh synagogue in which a man armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and three handguns shot into a morning worship service in the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in the United States in decades.

    The dead included eight men and three women. The oldest victim, Rose Mallinger of Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, was 97. Two brothers, David and Cecil Rosenthal, ages 54 and 59, were the youngest. A husband and wife, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, ages 84 and 86, of Wilkinsburg, Pa., were also among the dead.

    Mayor Bill Peduto called the attack the "darkest day of Pittsburgh's history" but vowed that the city would move forward. "We know that we as a society are better than this," he said. "We know that hatred will never win out, that those that try to divide us because of the way we pray, or where our families are from around the world, will lose."

    Robert Jones, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Pittsburgh, said that the synagogue was "the most horrific crime scene" he had seen in 22 years with the agency, and could take up to a week to process.

    The authorities said the gunman, identified as Robert Bowers, 46, appeared to have been acting alone on Saturday morning when he stormed into the Tree of Life Congregation, where worshipers had gathered in separate rooms to celebrate their faith, and shot indiscriminately into the crowd.

    He was leaving the synagogue when officers, dressed in tactical gear and armed with rifles, met him at the door. According to the police, Mr. Bowers exchanged gunfire with officers before retreating back inside and barricading himself inside a third-floor room.

    When he eventually surrendered to the police, he said that he "wanted all Jews to die and also that they (Jews) were committing genocide against his people," according to the criminal complaint from the Pittsburgh police.

    In all, 11 people were killed and six others were injured, including two congregants and four police officers.

    Mr. Bowers remained under guard in the hospital Sunday morning after having surgery, authorities said. He was scheduled to make his first appearance before a federal judge on Monday at 1:30 p.m.

    "I see this room a lot of times on TV and I never thought I'd be at this podium," Jeffrey Finkelstein, chief executive of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said at a Sunday morning news conference.

    Federal officials charged Mr. Bowers with 29 criminal counts. They included obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs — a hate crime — and using a firearm to commit murder, all of which can carry the death penalty. He also faces state charges, including 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation.

    The authorities said that Mr. Bowers had no previous criminal history.

    [Read more about the shooting suspect Robert Bowers, who frequently reposted anti-Semitic content on social media.]

    The assault on the synagogue unfolded on a quiet, drizzly morning, in the heart of the city's vibrant Jewish community, in the leafy Squirrel Hill neighborhood that is home to several synagogues, kosher restaurants and bakeries. Hours afterward, hundreds gathered at three separate interfaith vigils on a cold, rainy evening to mourn the dead and pray for the wounded.

    The latest mass shooting came amid a bitter, vitriolic midterm election season, against the backdrop of what appears to be a surge in hate-related speech and crimes across the country. It followed the arrest on Friday morning of a man who the authorities said sent more than a dozen pipe bombs to critics of President Trump, including several high-profile Democrats.

    The officers who rushed to the scene came upon Mr. Bowers as he was trying to leave the synagogue. He fired at them, injuring one officer in the hand, according to the criminal complaint. Another officer had injuries to his face from shrapnel and broken glass. Mr. Bowers then darted back inside and ran up to the third floor.

    At that point, a SWAT team went in and came upon the scene of the massacre. Two people were still alive and the police carried them out. As they were searching for other victims, SWAT officers encountered Mr. Bowers, who fired at them and critically injured two officers.

    The remaining officers "engaged the suspect in a gun battle in which multiple rounds were exchanged," the criminal complaint said. At some point in the shootout, Mr. Bowers was wounded, and he eventually surrendered to the police.

    Law enforcement agents had searched his residence and were preparing to search his vehicle on Sunday morning.

    The anguish of Saturday's massacre heightened a sense of national unease over increasingly hostile political rhetoric. Critics of Mr. Trump have argued that he has been stirring a pot of nationalism, on Twitter and at his rallies, charges that Mr. Trump has denied.

    About Saturday's attack, Mr. Trump, addressing reporters at Joint Base Andrews on Saturday, said, "It's a terrible, terrible thing what's going on with hate in our country and frankly all over the world, and something has to be done."

    "The results are very devastating," he said, adding that if the synagogue "had some kind of protection," then "it could have been a much different situation."

    Later, speaking to reporters as he got off Air Force One in Illinois, Mr. Trump said he planned to visit Pittsburgh but he did not say when.

    Leaders in the United States and across the world condemned the attack. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that he was "heartbroken and appalled" and that the "the entire people of Israel grieve with the families of the dead."

    The attack was at least the third mass shooting in a house of worship in three years. In November, a gunman killed 26 worshipers at a church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., and in 2015, a white supremacist killed nine congregants in a church in Charleston, S.C.

    Witnesses said the attack unfolded without warning.

    Jim Waite had just gotten out of the shower and turned on the television in his bedroom when he heard five loud pops and a crash.

    Mr. Waite, 55, lives at the corner of Wilkins Avenue and Woodland Road, just across the street from the synagogue.

    When he heard the noises, Mr. Waite knew something was wrong: Maybe a car crash, he thought, and he walked outside.

    At that point, a police car came screeching by, and Mr. Waite saw another police officer, with his weapon drawn.

    Then he heard the sounds of chaos: eight or nine more loud pops and screams coming from inside the synagogue. He rushed back into his house, joined by a jogger and his daughter who had been outside the synagogue, and they all crouched down, wondering what was going on outside.

    "It was truly like a surreal moment," Mr. Waite said in an interview Sunday morning. "I obviously immediately felt this gut-wrenching kind of panic, and it hasn't left yet."

    From the windows of his house, he saw two police snipers stalking through his front yard and crouched behind a tree, pointing their weapons toward the synagogue, and people running down the street.

    "For a long time I didn't look out the window; I was afraid," Mr. Waite said.

    The names of the victims, as released by the office of the Allegheny County medical examiner, including the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh in which they resided:

    • Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland

    • Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township, Pa.

    • Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill

    • Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood Borough, Pa.

    • Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill

    • David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill

    • Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg, Pa.

    • Sylvan Simon, 86, of Wilkinsburg, Pa.

    • Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill

    • Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill

    • Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington

    Campbell Robertson reported from Pittsburgh, and Sabrina Tavernise and Mihir Zaveri reported from New York.






    Billionaires around the world enjoyed their most profitable period in recorded history, increasing their wealth by around 20 percent in 2017 as the gap between the super-rich and the rest of humanity continued to widen.

    The world's richest people added $1.4 trillion to their fortunes last year, according to a new report published by Swiss bank UBS and cited by The Guardian. This represents a faster rate of growth than ever before, including the infamous uber-capitalist Gilded Age in the U.S, which produced hugely influential and wealthy family dynasties.

    According to the UBS Billionaires 2018 report, a new group of super-elites is emerging. It said the Gilded Age "bred generations of families in the U.S. and Europe who went on to influence business, banking, politics, philanthropy and the arts for more than 100 years. With wealth set to pass from entrepreneurs to their heirs in the coming years, the 21st century multi-generational families are being created."

    The U.S. remains home to the highest number of billionaires, at 585, Business Insider noted. China, though behind at 373, is rapidly closing the gap. Twelve years ago, there were only 16 Chinese billionaires, but now they represent almost 20 percent of the global total. As the report suggested, the "Chinese Century" is progressing well.

    There were 2,158 billionaires worldwide last year, UBS said. Of those, 179 were new members of the club, more than 40 of whom inherited their wealth—a situation expected to become more common over the next 20 years due to the number of billionaires over the age of 70.

    This trend marks a "major wealth transition," the report suggested, noting that over the past five years, "the sum passed by deceased billionaires to beneficiaries has grown by an average of 17 percent each year, to reach $117B in 2017."

    The new generation of billionaires, UBS said, "seem highly motivated, committed to their chosen careers, the family business and/or doing social good." Born in the information age, they "are more willing to take risks" and "have more information and can be more courageous about trying new ideas and being entrepreneurial."

    It might be party time for the super-rich, but in an era of growing inequality this news will do little to comfort the rest of the world. The globe's richest 1 percent now own around half of the world's entire wealth, their share having risen from 42.5 percent in 2008, according to a 2017 Credit Suisse report cited by The Guardian.

    Humanity's 3.5 billion poorest citizens, making up some 70 percent of the world's working population, account for only 2.7 percent of global wealth.

    The revelations of the Panama and Paradise Papers, leaked in 2015 and 2017 respectively, shed some light on how the globe's richest people squirrel away their wealth. Rather than reinvesting and creating jobs as proponents of the widely discredited trickle-down economic theory argue, the super-rich often take money out of national economies and hoard it offshore using tax avoidance loopholes.

    The UBS report did contain some good news. Some of the vast fortunes of global billionaires will be given away to charity thanks to the Giving Pledge—a plan launched by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the world's second and third richest people. More than 180 people have so far signed up to give up at least half their wealth.



    12) Dear Customer: We're Shutting Off Your Water

    By Wenonah Hauser and Mary Grant, October 29, 2018


    Demonstrators in 2014 protested against the Detroit Water and Sewer Department after it disconnected service to thousands of residents for nonpayment. [And they still don't have clean water!!!...BW]

    What do you do when you turn on your faucet and no water comes out? We estimate that 15 million Americans faced that problem in 2016 when they fell behind on their water bills and their water was shut off.

    Our organization, Food & Water Watch, surveyed the two largest public water systems in each state to determine how many of their residential customers had lost their water for failing to pay their bill. Seventy-three providers responded. The results shocked us.

    The water systems that responded shut off an average of 5 percent of their residential customers, totaling more than a half-million households and affecting an estimated 1.4 million people. The highest shut-off rates took place in cities with high rates of poverty and unemployment. Based on these findings, we estimate that water was shut off to 15 million people nationwide in 2016.

    Our survey didn't look at how long people went without water service. But a recent analysis by the Center for Michigan found that more than 900 Detroit homes went without water for at least three months this year after being disconnected. Making the problem worse for people already behind on their bills, most utilities charge reconnection fees to turn the water back on, in addition to a down payment on the past-due amount.

    In several communities, water has become unaffordable, forcing families to choose between it and other essentials, like food, medicine and transportation. Detroit and New Orleans stood out in our survey. A typical water bill in those cities exceeds $1,000 a year, putting this critical service beyond the budgets of low-income households. For the poorest fifth of households in those cities, typical water bills amounted to more than 9 percent of their income. Most shut-offs happen in the South, particularly in Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, and in Oklahoma, according to our results.

    This problem is a result of decades of federal underinvestment in water infrastructure, and the inequities that have driven widening wealth and income inequality across the country. As the federal government has cut back support for water and sewer systems, localities have been forced to maintain them with their own resources as infrastructure deteriorates. Federal funding for water and sewer systems has fallen by 74 percent in real dollars since its peak in 1977, according to our analysis. One result is that household water costs have increased at three times the rate of inflation, as real household income has dropped, according to the National Academy of Public Administration.

    And the problem will only become worse. Without any meaningful changes on the federal level, for instance, cities like New Orleans and Jacksonville, Fla., will need to continue to raise rates that are already unaffordable for low-income households to maintain and upgrade their water and sewer systems. A recent study by a researcher at Michigan State University found that if water rates continue to rise as projected, about 36 percent of American households will be unable to pay their water bills by 2022. 

    There are solutions. 

    Local governments can develop affordability programs for low-income customers that cap their water bills according to the customer's ability to pay. The city of Philadelphia, where 40 percent of customers were delinquent, began such a program last year. Water utilities should also adopt lenient payment schedules and payment plans with extended schedules, and offer sufficient notice to customers before shutting off their water. Cities with the fewest shut-offs in our survey gave customers from 35 days after the bill was due to 144 days from the billing date to pay their bills before being disconnected.

    States should require public and private utilities to track water shut-offs for nonpayment and reconnections and make that information available publicly on their websites. At the federal level, the critical need is for more money to repair and update water systems. In total, according to the latest estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency, our drinking waterand wastewater systems need at least $744 billion in investments over the next 20 years.

    Federal policies that adequately fund public water are critical in addressing the interrelated infrastructure and water affordability crises. The Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability Act would provide the $35 billion a year needed to maintain and upgrade our water systems. We expected the legislation to be reintroduced in the next session of Congress.

    Water affordability is a national problem, and we need a federal commitment to ensure that every household in the country has access to safe water.

    Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization for clean water and healthy food systems. Mary Grant is director of the group's Public Water for All campaign.



    13) California Tenants Take Rent Control Fight to the Ballot Box

    By Conor Dougherty, October 12. 2018


    A rally in San Francisco by supporters of Proposition 10, a ballot initiative that would loosen California's restraints on local rent control laws.

    LOS ANGELES — From pulpits across Los Angeles, Pastor Kelvin Sauls has spent the past few months delivering sermons on the spiritual benefits of fasting. The food in the sermon is rent, and landlords need less of it. "My role is to bring a moral perspective to what we are dealing with around the housing crisis," Pastor Sauls explained.

    In addition to a Sunday lesson, this is an Election Day pitch. Pastor Sauls is part of the campaign for Proposition 10, a ballot initiative that would loosen state restraints on local rent control laws. The effort has stoked a battle that has already consumed close to $60 million in political spending, a sizable figure even in a state known for heavily funded campaigns.

    Depending on which side is talking, Proposition 10 is either a much-needed tool to help cities solve a housing crisis or a radically misguided idea that will only make things worse. Specifically, it would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prevents cities from applying rent control laws to single-family homes and apartments built after 1995.

    The initiative drive builds on the growing momentum of local efforts to expand tenant protections. "In the midst of the worst housing and homeless crisis that our country has ever seen, how does a bill that restricts local government's ability to address it go untouched?" asked Damien Goodmon, director of the Yes on 10 campaign, which is primarily funded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles.

    Proposition 10 has won prominent endorsements from backers including the California Democratic Party and The Los Angeles Times. But opponents have also amassed editorials and broad support, mainly from a coalition of construction unions, nonprofit housing developers and local chambers of commerce.

    Among those fighting the initiative is a relatively recent class of landlords — private equity firms like Blackstone Group, which accumulated a vast residential real estate portfolio after the housing market collapse a decade ago. Landlords warn that repealing the Costa-Hawkins law would create deep uncertainty among developers, making California's housing shortage worse by discouraging construction.

    "This is a serious problem, but the solution to that problem should not land solely on the rental housing industry," said Tom Bannon, president of the California Apartment Association, a landlords' group.

    The California fight reflects a renters' rights movement that is bubbling up in churches and community centers across the country, a semi-coordinated stand of low-income tenants against the gentrifying American city. Last month in the Roxbury section of Boston, about 300 people gathered for an afternoon assembly on how to blunt evictions and economic displacement. The event offered free child care and had organizers speaking English, Spanish and Cantonese.

    Many of these groups are affiliated with a housing and racial justice group called Right to the City Alliance, whose Homes for All campaign has organized tenants in about 50 cities. Even outside California, Homes for All members are closely following the Proposition 10 campaign.

    "We're both watching and learning from how they are building this broad-based movement," said Lisa Owens, executive director of City Life/Vida Urbana, a tenants' rights group in Boston.

    In California and elsewhere, the problem is a lack of affordable housing that has led to cramped households, longer commutes and rising homelessness. About a quarter of the nation's tenants paid more than half of their income in rent in 2016, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard.

    Among the contributing factors are rising construction costs and increasingly stringent land-use regulations that have slowed construction and held back the supply of lower-cost rental housing. New building has skewed toward the upper end of the market, while the share of the overall housing stock affordable to lower-income renters has declined.

    Homeownership has historically been the pressure-release valve for rising rents. But home prices have grown beyond what most people can afford, and private equity firms have turned single-family-home renting into a larger and more concentrated sector.

    Private equity firms like Blackstone — which has a stake of about 40 percent in Invitation Homes, with about 82,000 homes in 17 markets — have become something of a foil for the Proposition 10 campaign. "Meet Donald Trump's uber-rich buddies" begins a "Yes on 10" ad, which proceeds to detail the personal connections among private-equity landlords like Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone's multibillionaire chief executive, and President Trump.

    Eva Jimenez, who lives with her husband and four children in an Invitation Homes property in Oakland, answered her door in a "Yes on 10" T-shirt ("Because the rent is too damn high," it said on the back). With rents rising, tenants who live in single-family homes that are ineligible for rent control, like Ms. Jimenez, have become active in the Proposition 10 campaign, and she is a member of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, which is running the "Yes on 10" Campaign with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

    Given how confusing it can be to explain the Costa-Hawkins law and how the ballot initiative would change things, Ms. Jimenez said that when she distilled her pitch to "everything is about rent control," it resonated deeply with neighbors.

    Economists have an almost universally dim view of rent control laws, and a number have supported the landlords' contention that Proposition 10 could make California's housing problems worse. Under current law, California landlords can raise their rent as much as they like after a rent-controlled tenant leaves. If the Costa-Hawkins law is repealed, cities could write laws that barred them from ever raising their rents to market rates. That could prompt landlords to convert apartments into owner-occupied housing, worsening the shortage of affordable rentals.

    This does not, however, mean that economists are against providing low-income renters with relief. A number of scholars, including Rebecca Diamond, a Stanford economist, have found that rent control laws slow displacement, particularly among poor or older tenants, but also accelerate gentrification. A stronger support system, such as tax credits that insure against increasing rents, could offer protection without distorting the housing market.

    Tax credits are expensive to the state budget, however, and have little chance of becoming law any time soon. Rent control, by contrast, doesn't cost taxpayers anything in dollars, at least not right away, and despite the long-term concerns of economists, it has the potential to help tenants now.

    Repealing the Costa-Hawkins law has been a goal of tenant advocates almost since it was enacted in 1995. But given the shoestring budgets of community groups, there had been no sustained effort capable of funding a statewide political campaign.

    Enter Michael Weinstein, the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles. The foundation, the world's largest AIDS charity, is on a pace to generate some $2 billion a year in revenue in 2020, most of it from a chain of nonprofit pharmacies.

    While nonprofits are barred from engaging in partisan political spending, they are free to run voter initiatives. Mr. Weinstein has become widely known for his willingness to bankroll state and local ballot measures, including an anti-development ordinance in Los Angeles, a statewide initiative to reduce the price California pays for pharmaceuticals and another that would have required condoms in pornography. All failed

    So far the "Yes on 10" campaign has raised about $17 million, virtually all of it from the foundation. The landlords have raised $42 million. Support for the measure is trailing opposition among likely voters, according to a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

    Regardless of the outcome, the rent control battle seems unlikely to subside soon. Separate from Proposition 10, tenant activists have put rent control measures on the 2018 ballot in several California cities, and are gathering signatures for more after that.

    And Mr. Weinstein said that win or lose, he was not going away. If Proposition 10 fails, he has promised to pay for another bid to repeal the Costa-Hawkins law, possibly in 2020. "I'm kind of like gum on your shoe," he said.

    Lauren Hepler contributed reporting from Oakland, Calif.



    14) Trump Persuaded Struggling People to Invest in Scams, Lawsuit Says

    By Maggie Haberman and Benjamin Weiser, October 29, 2018


    President Trump at Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Saturday.

    A new lawsuit accuses President Trump, his company and three of his children of using the Trump name to entice vulnerable people to invest in sham business opportunities.

    Filed in federal court in Manhattan on Monday, the lawsuit comes just days before the midterm elections, raising questions about whether its timing is politically motivated. It is being underwritten by a nonprofit whose chairman has been a donor to Democratic candidates.

    The allegations take aim at the heart of Mr. Trump's personal narrative that he is a successful deal-maker who built a durable business, charging he and his family lent their name to a series of scams.

    The 160-page complaint alleges that Mr. Trump and his family received secret payments from three business entities in exchange for promoting them as legitimate opportunities, when in reality they were get-rich-quick schemes that harmed investors, many of whom were unsophisticated and struggling financially.

    Those business entities were ACN, a telecommunications marketing company that paid Mr. Trump millions of dollars to endorse its products; the Trump Network, a vitamin marketing enterprise; and the Trump Institute, which the suit said offered "extravagantly priced multiday training seminars" on Mr. Trump's real estate "secrets."

    The four plaintiffs, who were identified only with pseudonyms like Jane Doe, depict the Trump Organization as a racketeering enterprise that defrauded thousands of people for years as the president turned from construction to licensing his name for profit. The suit also names Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump as defendants.

    A White House spokeswoman for Mr. Trump and two lawyers for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    The suit is not the first to accuse Mr. Trump of fraud. Shortly after his election in November 2016, he agreed to pay $25 million to settle a series of lawsuits, including one by New York State's attorney general, that alleged unscrupulous practices by Trump University, another venture that claimed to sell access to his real estate secrets. Mr. Trump settled without acknowledging fault or liability, his lawyer said at the time.

    And in June, the New York attorney general's office filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation, claiming the charity had engaged in self-dealing and other violations. The foundation's lawyers called the suit a political attack.

    But the new suit alleges "a pattern of racketeering activity" involving three other organizations. Roberta A. Kaplan and Andrew G. Celli Jr., two lawyers for the plaintiffs, said in a statement that they were not aware of "any prior case against the Trumps alleging consumer fraud on this scale."

    "This case connects the dots at the Trump Organization and involves systematic fraud that spanned more than a decade, involved multiple Trump businesses and caused tremendous harm to thousands of hardworking Americans," the statement said.

    Asked about the suit's timing, Ms. Kaplan and Mr. Celli said their firms — Kaplan, Hecker & Fink and Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady — had conducted a lengthy investigation and the plaintiffs were eager to file. "The case is being brought now because it is ready now," the lawyers said.

    The lawyers said a nonprofit organization, the Tesseract Research Center, was funding the lawsuit by paying attorney's fees and costs.

    Morris Pearl, the Democratic donor who is the nonprofit's chairman, said in a statement that his organization hoped to draw attention to the challenges faced by people who sustain losses but cannot seek redress through the courts " because of the extreme wealth and power on the other side."

    The lawyers said they were asking the court to allow the plaintiffs to proceed using pseudonyms because of "serious and legitimate security concerns given the heated political environment." The lawyers also declined to make their clients available for interviews.

    The four plaintiffs each invested in ACN after watching promotional videos featuring Mr. Trump.

    According to the lawsuit, ACN required investors to pay $499 to sign up to sell its products, like a videophone and other services, with the promise of additional profits if they recruited others to join.

    Mr. Trump described the phone in an ACN news release as "amazing" but failed to disclose he was being "paid lavishly for his endorsement," the suit says.

    One plaintiff, a hospice worker from California identified as "Jane Doe," decided to join ACN in 2014 after attending a recruitment meeting at a Los Angeles hotel where she listened to speakers and watched Mr. Trump on video extol the investment opportunity.

    For her, the video was the "turning point," the lawsuit said.

    "Doe believed that Trump had her best interests at heart," the suit said.

    Jane Doe then signed up for a larger ACN meeting in Palm Springs, Calif., which cost almost $1,500, and she later spent thousands more traveling to conventions in Cleveland and Detroit, according to the suit.

    In the end, she earned $38 — the only income she would ever receive from the company, the suit said.

    Susan Beachy contributed research.


















































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