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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

Upcoming Events

presidio mutiny50th anniversary events of the Presidio 27 mutiny

San Francisco, California

Panel discussion on Saturday, October 13

Commemoration on Sunday, October 14

At the former Presidio Army Base

More info


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

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



"Behind every great fortune there is a great crime." —Honoré de Balzac



A soldier's tale of bravery and morality

Chris Hedges interviews former combat veteran and US Army officer Spenser Rapone about bravery and morality. The second lieutenant was given an "other than honorable" discharge June 18 after an army investigation determined that he "went online to promote a socialist revolution and disparage high-ranking officers," and thereby engaged in "conduct unbecoming an officer."






Unite / Here Local 2 is on STRIKE at 7 SF Hotels!! Please support them by participating on the picket lines! This is a 24/7 picket!

From Local 2 :

"Hello friends and allies - 

If you haven't heard already, today Local 2 is struck the 7 Marriott properties in San Francisco:

Marriott Marquis at Mission and 4th

Marriott Union Square at 480 Sutter St.

Courtyard Marriott Downtown at 299 2nd St.

St. Francis at Powell & Geary

Palace at Market & New Montgomery

St. Regis at 125 3rd St.

W at 181 3rd St.

This is an open-ended strike, so we'll be out until we win!  Except for the Courtyard Downtown, all picket lines are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There is a Courtyard picket everyday, but just no overnight shift (10p-5a).

PLEASE JOIN US!  The workers love to know that our labor and community allies have their back, and it lifts their spirits to see people besides their co-workers walk the line.  We know that we never win alone!

It may go without saying, but the way Local 2 wins strikes is with loud, militant, non-stop, disciplined picket lines.  We don't get into physical fights with scabs or others crossing the line, as tempting as that may be, because it doesn't help us win (and in fact can lead to picket lines being shut down).  All shifts should have picket captains, most of whom are rank-and-file leaders from the hotel they're picketing.  

Thank you so much for your support, and hope to see you on the line -




Monday, 5:00am – 9:00am, Groundworks by Dancing Earth Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony

Alcatraz National Park


Purchase tickets on-line is recommended

Boats departing from Pier 33 to Alcatraz for Sunrise Ceremony Ceremony leave starting at 5:00am. Get your tickets today! They will sell out!

Dancing Earth will be honoring Indigenous People's Day, on Yemalu occupied Ramaytush Ohlone territory (known today as San Francisco) on Monday Oct. 8th at Indigenous People's Day Sunrise Ceremony 2018, Alcatraz.

Dancing Earth Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations is honored to present a Contemporary Indigenous Dance performance entitled GROUNDWORKS, which honors and centers the perspectives of California Native collaborators of Pomo, Ohlone, Wappo, Miwuk, Paiute Nations.

This work has been a collaboration of in-depth, cultural learning with Pomo, Wappo, Ohlone California Native tribes, elders, community leaders and artists. Dancing Earth brings Indigenous cultural knowledge and stories from Native communities through dance to tell stories of our Native ancestors and our contemporary, Indigenous selves.

We also invite the community to join us in a finale of Pomo language FLASH MOB dance at the end of performance taking place on the ferry loading dock before departure from Alcatraz



Monday, 12Noon – 3:00pm, Celebrate San Francisco's 1st Official Indigenous Peoples' Day

Yerba Buena Gardens


Free and Open to the Public

Join us in Yelamu (San Francisco) Ohlone territory to celebrate San Francisco's 1st Indigenous Peoples' Day! This event will feature Indigenous dancers, music, speakers, vendors and more. Additional info to come. Contact International Indian Treaty Council's San Francisco office at (415) 641-4482 or at iitc@treatycouncil.org.



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Pardon Whistleblower Reality Winner

Hi Bonnie.

On June 3, 2017, NSA contractor Reality Leigh Winner was arrested and charged under the Espionage Act for providing a media organization with a single five-page top-secret document that analyzed information about alleged Russian online intrusions into U.S. election systems.

Reality, who has been jailed without bail since her arrest, has now been sentenced to five years in prison. This is by far the longest sentence ever given in federal court for leaking information to the media. Today, she is being transferred from a small Georgia jail to a yet-unknown federal prison.

Several months before her arrest, the FBI's then-Director James Comey told President Trump that he was (in the words of a subsequent Comey memo) "eager to find leakers and would like to nail one to the door as a message." Meanwhile, politically connected and high-level government officials continue to leak without consequence, or selectively declassify material to advance their own interests.

Join Courage to Resist and a dozen other organizations in calling on President Trump, who has acknowledged Winner's treatment as "so unfair," to pardon Reality Winner or to commute her sentence to time served.


towards a world without war

Upcoming Events

troopsFeds holding last public hearing on draft registration

Los Angeles, California

Thursday, September 20

At California State University Los Angeles

More info

presidio mutiny50th anniversary events of the Presidio 27 mutiny

San Francisco, California

Panel discussion on Saturday, October 13

Commemoration on Sunday, October 14

At the former Presidio Army Base

More info


to support resistance


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

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



Transform the Justice System







We are off to a terrible start. Today President Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly. He praised Saudi Arabia, doubled down on his decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and went on theattack against Iran. Tomorrow we expect it to get even worse when he chairs the United Nations Security Council. We expect he will continue to lambast Iran, using the same rhetoric that may well lead to war.

What we need now is an educated public who will stand up the to absurd claims by the Trump administration that Iran poses a threat to the United States. In the lead up to the war in Iraq 15 years ago, the press failed us by spreading President Bush's lies about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. Are they going to do it again with Iran? Add your name to our letter to the New York Times and Washington Post demanding they debunk Trump as he beats the drums of war. 

We see what is happening. Trump is trying to take us into war. He tore up the Iran deal, despite the fact that Iran was adhering to it and despite the wishes of the other countries that were signatories to it. Now he is imposing draconian sanctions that are hurting the Iranian people.

Did you see my disruption of US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook? It is part of our new campaign to send social media messages of friendship and support to the people of Iran. Join us by creating a video of yourself telling the people of Iran that you want to be friends and spread a message of peace. You can even try to do it in Persian. Go to our page to learn how to say "I want to be friends" in Persian. Then send us the video by email or post it on social media with the hashtag #PeaceWithIran.

So much is at stake if we let Trump take us into war with Iran. Iraq is still suffering from the death, destruction and destabilization we caused there over a decade ago. We must act now to stop the next war!   

Towards peace and diplomacy,

Medea and the entire CODEPINK team

Donate Now!


This email was sent to giobon@comcast.net

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

Rachel Wolkenstein, lawyer for Mumia, reports on the August 30th hearing, 2018

  _  _  _  _  _  _  _

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

September 1—Additional demands for discovery made by Mumia's lawyers at the August 30 court proceeding led to Judge Tucker granting a 60-day continuance. The new date for oral argument that Mumia's appeal denial should be vacated and new appeal rights granted is now scheduled for October 29, 2018.  

Two weeks ago, Mumia's lawyers were told by the DA's office that they discovered close to 200 boxes of capital case files that had not been reviewed. A half-dozen were still not found. Last Monday, just days before the scheduled final arguments, a May 25, 1988 letter from DA Castille's office to PA State Senator Fisher (a virulent proponent of expediting executions) naming Mumia Abu-Jamal and 8 other capital defendants was turned over to the defense. 

Krasner's assistant DA Tracey Kavanaugh said the letter was meaningless and opposed the postponement, insisting there is no evidence that Castille had anything to do with Mumia's appeals. Mumia's lawyers argued that finding the background to this communication would likely support their central argument that DA Ronald Castille actively and personally was developing policy to speed up executions, and that he was particularly focused on convicted "police killers." Mumia Abu-Jamal was unquestionably the capital prisoner who was most zealously targeted for execution by the Fraternal Order of Police. 

Judge Tucker agreed with Mumia's lawyers that a search is needed to establish whether Castille was personally involved in this communication. Additional discovery was ordered with Judge Tucker's rhetorical question, "What else hasn't been disclosed?" But the Judge narrowed the required search to particulars around the May 25, 1988 letter.

Not brought out in court is the fact that Mumia's appeal of his trial conviction and death sentence was still pending in May 1988. The PA Supreme Court didn't issue its denial of this first appeal of Mumia until March 1989. This makes any reference of Mumia's case as a subject of an execution warrant highly suspect and extraordinary, because his death sentence was not "final" unless and until the PA Supreme Court affirmed. [The lawyers have not publicly released a copy of the May 25, 1988 letter, so analysis is limited.]

Mumia's lawyers said they would discuss discovery issues with the prosecution and might file a further amended petition with the intention of proceeding to oral argument on the next court date, October 29. 

On Judge Tucker—He is the chief administrative judge overseeing post-conviction proceedings. On August 30 and previously on April 30 opened his courtroom early to for Maureen Faulkner and the Fraternal Order of Police to occupy half of the small courtroom. Not surprising, no consideration was given to Mumia's family including his brother Keith Cook, international supporters from France and the dozens of other supporters who had lined up before 8AM to get into the courtroom. Even press reps suggested that the press be given seats in the jury box to open up space for even lawyers working with Mumia. Even that small consideration was rejected by Judge Tucker.

A more in-depth piece on DA Larry Krasner's opposition to Mumia's petition will be sent out soon. In the meantime, go to: www.RachelWolkenstein.net.

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.





presidio 27

Presidio 27 "Mutiny" 50 years later

Podcast with Keith Mather

During the Vietnam War era, the Presidio Stockade was a military prison notorious for its poor conditions and overcrowding with many troops imprisoned for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. When Richard Bunch, a mentally disturbed prisoner, was shot and killed on October 11th, 1968, Presidio inmates began organizing. Three days later, 27 Stockade prisoners broke formation and walked over to a corner of the lawn, where they read a list of grievances about their prison conditions and the larger war effort and sang "We Shall Overcome." The prisoners were charged and tried for "mutiny," and several got 14 to 16 years of confinement. Meanwhile, disillusionment about the Vietnam War continued to grow inside and outside of the military.

"This was for real. We laid it down, and the response by the commanding general changed our lives," recalls Keith Mather, Presidio "mutineer" who escaped to Canada before his trial came up and lived there for 11 years, only to be arrested upon his return to the United States. Mather is currently a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Veterans for Peace. Listen to the Courage to Resist podcast with Keith.

50th anniversary events at the former Presidio Army Base

October 13th and 14th, 2018


Saturday, October 13, 7 to 9 pm

Presidio Officers' Club

50 Moraga Ave, San Francisco

Featuring panelists: David Cortright (peace scholar), Brendan Sullivan (attorney for mutineers), Randy Rowland (mutiny participant), Keith Mather (mutiny participant), and Jeff Paterson (Courage to Resist).


Sunday, October 14, 1 to 3 pm

Fort Scott Stockade

1213 Ralston (near Storey), San Francisco

The events are sponsored by the Presidio Land Trust in collaboration with Veterans For Peace Chapter 69-San Francisco with support from Courage to Resist.


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

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



Cindy Sheehan and the Women's March on the Pentagon

A movement not just a protest

By Whitney Webb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Different wings of the same warbird

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

  In response, Sheehan stated that: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  —MPN News, February 20, 2018





[HS-Support] @GovernorVA: Don't transfer activist inmate Kevin #Rashid Johnson again

Please sign and share. 

If you are not familiar with the brilliant, compassionate, and courageous imprisoned activist, writer, artist, Kevin Rashid Johnson, check out rashidmod.com

He is not in the federal prison system, he is in the Virginia state system.  However, due to his persistence and depth in exposing the horrific conditions and treatment inside the prisons, he has been locked in solitary confinement and moved around to prisons in Florida, Virginia, and Texas! Please support Rashid with this simple petition

and make a call if you can. It looks like you can also tweet @GovernorVA!


Rashid Threatened with Transfer — Hearing on Sept 10th — BLOCK THE PHONES! We have learned that the Virginia Department of Corrections is planning to hold a hearing Monday September 10th, to have R…


I just got a phone call from Rashid. He's been told that he will have a
hearing on Monday to process him for an Interstate Transfer. He's not
being told where he's going.

We need to get this news out as broadly as possible, and to state that
this is retaliation for his recent publications and interviews. Please
share the news on all your social media accounts, you might do it while
also sharing his Guardian article or other recent works.

Can anyone organize protest? Perhaps an action alert to have people
flood VADOC with complaints, and/or we could prepare to flood wherever
he goes with complaints. If we could organize a street protest of VADOC
HQ before or after the transfer, that would be amazing.

Dustin McDaniel

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

Release Kevin "Rashid" Johnson From Solitary Confinement Immediately

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

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

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

-- The RootsAction.org Team

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






All Hands on Deck:  Get Malik Washington out of Ad-Seg!

Several weeks ago, friends and supporters of incarcerated freedom fighter Comrade Malik Washington were overjoyed to hear that he was getting released, finally, from Administrative Segregation (solitary confinement) at Eastham Unit in Texas--until TDCJ pulled a fast one, falsely claiming that he refused to participate in the Ad-Seg Transition Program to get him released back to general population.  

This is a complete lie:  Malik has been fighting to get out of Ad-Seg from the moment he was thrown in there two years ago on a bogus riot charge (which was, itself, retaliation for prison strike organizing and agitating against inhumane, discriminatory conditions).  

Here's what actually happened:  when Malik arrived at Ramsey Unit on June 21, he was assigned to a top bunk, which is prohibited by his medical restrictions as a seizure patient.  TDCJ had failed to transfer his medical restrictions records, or had erased them, and are now claiming no record of these restrictions, which have been on file and in place for the past ten years.  Malik wrote a detailed statement requesting to be placed on a lower bunk in order to avoid injury; later that night, he was abruptly transferred back to Ad-Seg at a new Unit (McConnell).  

Malik was told that Ramsey staff claimed he refused to participate in the Ad-Seg Transition program--this is NOT true, and he needs to be re-instated to the program immediately!  He also urgently needs his medical restrictions put back into his records!


We are extremely concerned for Malik's safety, and urgently need the help of everyone reading this. Please take one or more of the following actions, and get a couple friends to do the same!

1. Call Senior Warden Phillip Sifuentes at Malik's current facility (McConnell) and tell them Keith Washington (#1487958) must be transferred out of McConnell and re-admitted to the Ad-Seg Transition Program!

Phone #: (361) 362-2300 (**048) 00 --  ask to be connected to the senior warden's office/receptionist--try to talk to someone, but also can leave a message. 

Sample Script: "Hello, I'm calling because I'm concerned about Keith H. Washington (#1487958) who was recently transferred to your facility.  I understand he was transferred there from Ramsey Unit, because he supposedly refused to participate in the Ad-Seg transition program there, but this is not true; Malik never refused to participate, and he needs to be re-admitted to the transition program immediately!  I am also concerned that his heat restrictions seem to have been removed from his records.  He is a seizure patient and has been on heat and work restriction for years, and these restrictions must be reinstated immediately."

Please let us know how your call goes at blueridgeABC@riseup.net

2. Flood TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier with calls/emails!  You can use the above phone script as a guide for emails.  

(936) 437-2101 / (936) 437-2123

3. Flood TDCJ with emails demanding that Malik's health restrictions and work restrictions be restored: Health.services@tdcj.texas.gov

You can use the call script above as a guide; you don't need to mention the Ad-Seg situation, but just focus on the need to restore his heat and work restrictions!

4. File a complaint with the Ombudsman's Office (the office in charge of investigating departmental misconduct); you can use the above phone script as a guide for emails.

5. Write to Malik!  Every letter he receives lifts his spirit and PROTECTS him, because prison officials know he has people around him, watching for what happens to him.

Keith H. Washington


McConnell Unit

3100 South Emily Drive

Beeville, TX 78103



Listen to 'The Daily': Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder?

By Michael Barbaro, May 30, 2018


Listen and subscribe to our podcast from your mobile deviceVia Apple Podcasts | Via RadioPublic | Via Stitcher

The sole survivor of an attack in which four people were murdered identified the perpetrators as three white men. The police ignored suspects who fit the description and arrested a young black man instead. He is now awaiting execution.

On today's episode:

• Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row at San Quentin State Prison in California for three decades.



Last week I met with fellow organizers and members of Mijente to take joint action at the Tornillo Port of Entry, where detention camps have been built and where children and adults are currently being imprisoned. 

I oppose the hyper-criminalization of migrants and asylum seekers. Migration is a human right and every person is worthy of dignity and respect irrespective of whether they have "papers" or not. You shouldn't have to prove "extreme and unusual hardship" to avoid being separated from your family. We, as a country, have a moral responsibility to support and uplift those adversely affected by the US's decades-long role in the economic and military destabilization of the home countries these migrants and asylum seekers have been forced to leave.

While we expected to face resistance and potential trouble from the multiple law enforcement agencies represented at the border, we didn't expect to have a local farm hand pull a pistol on us to demand we deflate our giant balloon banner. Its message to those in detention:

NO ESTÁN SOLOS (You are not alone).

Despite the slight disruption to our plan we were able to support Mijente and United We Dream in blocking the main entrance to the detention camp and letting those locked inside know that there are people here who care for them and want to see them free and reunited with their families. 

We are continuing to stand in solidarity with Mijente as they fight back against unjust immigration practices.Yesterday they took action in San Diego, continuing to lead and escalate resistance to unjust detention, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and to ICE. 

While we were honored to offer on-the-ground support we see the potential to focus the energy of our Drop the MIC campaign into fighting against this injustice, to have an even greater impact. Here's how:

  1. Call out General Dynamics for profiteering of War, Militarization of the Border and Child and Family Detention (look for our social media toolkit this week);
  2. Create speaking forums and produce media that challenges the narrative of ICE and Jeff Sessions, encouraging troops who have served in the borderlands to speak out about that experience;
  3. Continue to show up and demand we demilitarize the border and abolish ICE.

Thank you for your vision and understanding of how militarism, racism, and capitalism are coming together in the most destructive ways. Help keep us in this fight by continuing to support our work.

In Solidarity,

Ramon Mejia

Field Organizer, About Face: Veterans Against the War

P.O. Box 3565, New York, NY 10008. All Right Reserved. | Unsubscribe

To ensure delivery of About Face emails please add webmaster@ivaw.org to your address book.



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: 


    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, 

    Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009, 



    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




    1) As Afghanistan Frays, Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Is Everywhere

    By Mujib Mashal, October 4, 2018


    An American soldier overseeing the training of Afghan forces in Helmand Province in 2016.

    KABUL, Afghanistan — A new crop of senior American officials in Afghanistan has been racing to contain a dual crisis on the battlefield and in a potentially explosive election dispute. But it is a different American figure — the mercenary executive Erik D. Prince — who has been the talk of Kabul these days.

    More than a year after first laying out his plan to President Trump to privatize the American war in Afghanistan with a cadre of contractors — and a private air force — Mr. Prince, the founder of the Blackwater security firm that became infamous for killing civilians in Iraq, has seemingly been everywhere.

    And as he has made his sales pitch directly to a host of influential Afghans, he has frequently been introduced as an adviser to Mr. Trump himself.

    Mr. Prince is pushing his plan at a particularly vulnerable time for the country. Afghan security forces are dying at a record number of 30 to 40 a day largely in a defensive posture against a Taliban that has gained territory. The government is beset by repeated political crises as parliamentary elections, delayed for three years, are scheduled for this month. Presidential elections are set for April.

    Interviews with a half-dozen political figures who have met Mr. Prince in recent months — as well as an interview with Mr. Prince by The New York Times during his trip to Kabul in September — reveal an executive determined to sell a vision of how his contractors could offer an official military withdrawal from Afghanistan to a war-weary American public and president.

    Now, those officials say, he has increasingly found a receptive audience among Afghanistan's power brokers, meeting everyone from lowly militia commanders, to former cabinet officials and entrenched regional strongmen, to several potential presidential candidates.

    What most of those Afghans have in common is a desire to see President Ashraf Ghani gone. And Mr. Prince's lobbying circuit, including multiple visits to Kabul, Washington and the United Arab Emirates, has made him increasingly unwelcome with Mr. Ghani, who has rejected repeated requests to meet with Mr. Prince.

    Some in the government even tried to block Mr. Prince's visa, according to Afghan officials and those close to Mr. Prince.

    Several officials close to Mr. Ghani say they see Mr. Prince's plan not only as unviable amid a complex conflict and peace effort with the Taliban, but also as a politicized threat to the Afghan president himself before next year's presidential election.

    And they say Mr. Ghani's adamant opposition to a privatized security presence has made him an obstacle to Mr. Prince's ambitions.

    In a speech on Monday, an angry Mr. Ghani aimed a barely veiled criticism at Mr. Prince and his plan.

    "Foreign mercenaries will never be allowed in this country," he said.

    A statement by Mr. Ghani's national security adviser on Thursday said the Afghan government would not allow fighting terrorism to become a "for-profit business."

    "We will consider all legal options against those who try to privatize war on our land," the statement said.

    Mr. Prince is positioning his pitch as a cheaper middle option between continuing a largely failed military strategy at an expensive annual tab of tens of billions of dollars, and a complete security withdrawal that some fear would abandon 17 years of costly Western efforts to remake Afghanistan.

    He contends that his proposal can achieve what more than 140,000 American and NATO troops at the heart of the troop surge in 2009 and 2010 could not. He compares the current mission, which is reduced to about 15,000 American troops supported on their bases by more than 20,000 private contractors, to the failures of the Soviet Union. (An American service member was killed on Thursday in Afghanistan, the United States military command here said without providing any details. It was the eighth death of an American soldier in the country this year.)

    In the interview, Mr. Prince laid out what he called a "rationalization" of private contracting already happening: a leaner mission of 6,000 private contractors providing "skeletal structure support" and training for Afghan forces. Small teams of Special Forces veterans embedded with Afghan battalions for about three years, he said, would ensure the continuity lacking now with American soldiers rotating out every year.

    They would be supported by air through a fleet of contracted aircraft flown by joint teams of Afghans and contractors. About 2,500 American Special Operations forces would remain in the country for counterterrorism missions. All of this, Mr. Prince said, would bring down the annual cost of the war to roughly a fifth of the current amount.

    He denied he was trying to influence the Afghan political process to achieve that vision. He said the only money he had spent on Afghanistan was the $1,500 production cost of a 10-minute video to explain his plan.

    "The Afghan people will have an election, and they will make the choices that they are going to live with," Mr. Prince said. "But I will talk to whichever party in Afghanistan that wants to think about a different way to this that actually stops the bleeding."

    Mr. Prince has also tied his proposal to an effort to exploit Afghanistan's mineral wealth, including rare earth deposits — a favorite topic of Mr. Trump, who has complained that the United States does not gain enough resources from its war efforts.

    In one multimedia presentation that The Times has seen, Mr. Prince lists one of his goals as: "Develop and produce key rare earth minerals to restore U.S. high-tech manufacturing supply chain." During his visits here in Afghanistan, he has also met with Afghan mining officials, which he has described as exploratory meetings.

    Mr. Prince's former company, Blackwater, won hundreds of millions of dollars in United States military contracts, mainly in Iraq, before it was essentially blacklisted after the firm's contractors massacred civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

    His business has since gone through several reincarnations. His latest venture, the Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group, has contracts in Africa and Asia, and is backed by Citic Group, a large state-owned Chinese investment company.

    Mr. Prince's initial push last year to privatize the Afghan war was quashed by two of the most senior members of Mr. Trump's national security team: H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser at the time, and Jim Mattis, the defense secretary. They persuaded Mr. Trump to increase the number of troops and resources in Afghanistan.

    Mr. Prince now gauges the winds in Washington as shifting in his favor, with Mr. McMaster gone and Mr. Mattis often at odds with Mr. Trump.

    A spokesperson for the National Security Council, who was not authorized to speak publicly for attribution, said the administration was open to new approaches but was not reviewing a proposal from Mr. Prince.

    During some of the meetings in Afghanistan, Mr. Prince has been introduced as someone who has Mr. Trump's ear, with his close relations to the president's inner circle listed as a selling point.

    In the letter Mr. Prince sent to Mr. Ghani in spring 2017 seeking a meeting, he mentioned that his sister, Betsy Devos, was a member of Mr. Trump's cabinet, one Afghan official said.

    Still, Mr. Prince's actual plan for Afghanistan has many skeptics.

    "The idea that these contractor-soldiers embedded into Afghan units are only going to be 'training' is almost laughable," said Laurel Miller, a senior foreign policy expert at RAND and a former top United States diplomat on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    "And the idea that privatizing the war is going to save money is certainly laughable," she continued. "If this idea didn't promise to be a significant moneymaker, then those who stand to profit from it wouldn't be pushing it so hard."

    Ms. Miller said the proposal was based on an incorrect diagnosis for why the conflict is in a stalemate. Although there are problems of leadership and capability in the Afghan forces, the Taliban have proved they can sustain their insurgency against the application of much more force than Mr. Prince's proposal would bring, she said.

    Changes to the tactics of training and advising would not convert the stalemate to a victory or an end to the war, she said.

    "If anything, bringing in foreign mercenaries would be likely to provide terrific recruiting slogans for the insurgents," she added.

    That was a reference to how the Taliban have already made a propaganda point of the American occupation, and would most likely view a wave of American-backed mercenary forces as even more contemptible.

    Even many of the Afghan political leaders who see merit in elements of Mr. Prince's proposal — including having trainers of Afghan forces embedded for longer periods, and establishing better air and medevac support accessible to Afghan commanders — express concern about the possibilities of a private security presence less accountable than the United States military.

    When pressed on what Mr. Prince's proposal could look like in practice, many of the political figures gave the example of the C.I.A.-run Afghan strike forces that are active in several parts of the country. But those militias, backed by intelligence contractors, have repeatedly been accused of violence against civilians.

    Mr. Prince insists the greater danger is in an impatient American public forcing a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan and leaving a security vacuum.

    "Eventually America is going to grow tired," he said. "At that point you are one suicide vest in a chow hall away from a mass casualty incident that kills a bunch of Americans and makes people say: 'What the hell are we doing there? We have been doing this for 18, 19 years.'"

    Peter Baker contributed reporting from Washington.



    2) Afghanistan Signs Major Mining Deals Despite Legal Concerns

    By Mujib Mashal, October 6, 2018

    "The contracts, which had been stalled for years, were signed in Washington between the Afghan ministers of finance and mining, and executives from Centar Ltd., an investment company founded by Ian Hannam, a former J.P. Morgan banker who partnered with local Afghan firms to bid for the mines."


    A gold mine in Baghlan Province, Afghanistan. The new contracts are for mineral deposits in Sar-e Pol and Badakhshan Provinces.

    KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan government on Friday signed two contracts for the exploration of copper and gold deposits in the north, in a bid to move away from the country's dependence on foreign aid by tapping its mineral wealth.

    But watchdog groups say aspects of the contracts may violate the law and aggravate questionable practices that have marred the mining sector for years. Strongmen and political elites have long profited from the country's riches, and mineral wealth could turn into another source of instability in a country mired in decades of war.

    The contracts, which had been stalled for years, were signed in Washington between the Afghan ministers of finance and mining, and executives from Centar Ltd., an investment company founded by Ian Hannam, a former J.P. Morgan banker who partnered with local Afghan firms to bid for the mines.

    Centar's local partner is Sadat Naderi, who until June was Afghanistan's minister of urban development. The Afghan minerals law prohibits senior officials from bidding on mining contracts for five years after they leave government.

    Civil society activists say government officials seemed pressured to move forward with the contracts despite unresolved legal issues.

    "They signed the contracts without giving us satisfactory answers on concerns that the contracts were very clearly against the law," said Sayed Ikram Afzali, the executive director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan who met repeatedly with senior officials, including the Afghan president and vice president, to discuss concerns. "It was very clear that they were under pressure to move on with these contracts — they said they were facing international pressure to finalize these."

    Bradley Barnett, the chief executive of Centar, said in a statement that the company had negotiated the deal "in strict adherence to Afghan law and international standards" and that the bidding process had been transparent.

    The contracts call for developing a copper deposit in Balkhab district of Sar-e Pol Province and a gold deposit in Badakhshan Province. Although the value of the two mineral deposits is not clear, Centar said if exploration finds large-scale mining opportunities, the projects could generate $1 billion in economic impact and more than 10,000 jobs.

    The Afghan government has repeatedly dangled its mineral wealth in front of President Trump, who is losing patience with the costly presence of American troops in the country. Mr. Barnett of Centar called the deal "potentially transformative" for Afghanistan in his statement.

    Stephen Carter, the Afghanistan campaign leader at Global Witness, an organization focused on mining and conflict, said that was not the point.

    "Regardless of whether or not this is a good deal for Afghanistan, approving a contract in apparent contravention of the minerals law would undermine the government's declarations that it is bringing the rule of law to the sector," said Mr. Carter, the Afghanistan campaign leader at Global Witness, an organization focused on mining and conflict.

    The government of President Ashraf Ghani, which took office in September 2014, immediately halted major mining contracts issued by its predecessor over concerns of corruption. Mr. Naderi was a political ally of Mr. Ghani during the election campaign, and he was appointed to his cabinet.

    Because the two contracts had been completed by the previous government — which had chosen the consortium as favored bidder long before Mr. Naderi became a cabinet minister, but had left the official signing to the new government — officials say the contracts do not violate the law. To avoid even "perceptions of a conflict of interest," Mr. Naderi resigned from the government in June.

    Mr. Afzali, of Integrity Watch, said the contract that was agreed upon by the previous government has been considerably revised since that time.

    "During the renegotiation of the contract, Mr. Naderi was still a cabinet minister," Mr. Afzali said.

    The Afghan government provided contradictory information on when the renegotiation happened. Ajmal Ahmady, an adviser to Mr. Ghani, said the contract was renegotiated only after Mr. Naderi resigned in June. But the legal director of the Ministry of Mines said during a news conference the negotiations had been going on for 15 months.

    Fatima Faizi contributed reporting.



    3)  Cleveland Judge Refuses to Send Low-Level Defendants to Jail After Inmate Deaths

    By Karen Zraick, October 5, 2018


    After a spate of deaths in local jails, Judge Michael L. Nelson Sr. of Cleveland Municipal Court said he would release people charged with low-level crimes on personal bond as they await trial.

    A judge in Cleveland is refusing to send people accused of low-level crimes into the county jail system, citing safety concerns after six inmate deaths in four months.

    The judge, Michael L. Nelson Sr. of Cleveland Municipal Court, said this week that he would release people charged with such crimes until their next court appearance, rather than holding them on bail, which many defendants cannot afford.

    Defendants who are released must still agree to any conditions imposed, which could include electronic monitoring or regular check-ins.

    "Six deaths means the jail is unsafe," Judge Nelson said in a phone interview. "You shouldn't die before we see you in court."

    Five of the six inmates were being held at the Cuyahoga County Jail in Cleveland, and one was at the Euclid City Jail, which is also run by the county, according to the county medical examiner.

    The cause of death has yet to be determined in two of the cases, the most recent of which occurred on Tuesday. That prisoner, Allan Martin Gomez Roman, 44, died four days after he was arrested on a warrant stemming from a cocaine possession charge, Cleveland.com reported. Two of the other men who died were found hanging in their cells, and two had drugs in their systems at the time of their deaths, the authorities said.

    In a statement, the Cuyahoga County sheriff, Clifford Pinkney, said he would ask the County Council to pay for an independent expert to assess the jail system.

    He added that the jails were dealing with an influx of people struggling with addiction and psychological problems.

    A report released last year by the Pretrial Justice Institute found that the Cuyahoga County Jail, with 2,100 beds, had been operating at over 100 percent capacity, on average, in four of the previous five years.

    The report, which was requested by local court officials and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, included a survey of all inmates released on a single day. It found that 73 percent of them were black. In the latest census, 53 percent of Cleveland's residents were black.

    Judge Nelson, a former president of the Cleveland N.A.A.C.P., said that the jails remained overcrowded and that staffing levels were not sufficient to monitor all of the inmates. He was loath to place people in those facilities because they could not afford bail, he said.

    Cash bail, which requires defendants to put up money or other assets to win their freedom, has been widely criticized in recent years. Some states and municipalities have taken steps to reduce its use; California recently abolished cash bail altogether. (The change takes effect next year.)

    In Ohio, Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer spent more than a year examining the bail system in a series called "Justice for All." Officials in parts of the state, including Cuyahoga County, have initiated changes to bail practices, and a statewide bill was introduced last year.

    Critics of the cash bail system argue that defendants should be evaluated based on the risk they present to public safety, not on their financial situation.

    Low-income defendants often turn to bail bond agents, which function as the payday lenders of the criminal justice world. Commercial bail is a $2 billion industry, and agents charge steep fees and can even arrest their clients.

    Judge Nelson said the most recent death underscored the need to change bail practices and reduce overcrowding and strain on the jail system.

    "If the balance of the county had implemented bail bond reform, there's a good chance that young man would not be in jail, period," he said.



    4) Convicts Seeking to Clear Their Records Find More Prosecutors Willing to Help

    By Alan Blinder, October 7,  2018


    Stephanie Truchan, a volunteer at the Expungement Help Desk in Indianapolis. At least 20 states have created or broadened expungement and sealing laws since the beginning of 2017.

    INDIANAPOLIS — The convicted men and women who visit Room B2 of Indianapolis's courthouse cannot find jobs, or want better ones. Or they wish they could join their children for school field trips. Or they are simply seeking a measure of societal forgiveness.

    They all arrive with the same aspiration: expungements intended to ease the burdens of old criminal records.

    "I had to talk my way into a lot of places because of my background," said a woman named Fernell, who stopped by the subbasement room on a recent morning to discuss a conviction for resisting law enforcement when she was 19. "I want to put it behind me."

    What she and most visitors to Room B2 are finding is that the people who helped get them convicted in the first place now want to help make the black marks less perilous. Bolstered by a renewed focus, from the Trump administration on down, on helping people with criminal histories participate in society successfully, at least 20 states have created or broadened expungement and sealing laws since the beginning of 2017, according to the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, a nonprofit group.

    And although law enforcement officials have traditionally opposed such measures for an array of reasons — including accountability, a belief that records are vital to public safety, and unstinting support for crime victims — a growing number of them have begun to recognize that criminal records can be enduring obstacles to self-sufficiency and even help trap people in cycles of crime. Increasingly, they are overtly endorsing mercy through record suppression.

    "It's just a matter of trying to remove obstacles that would make it more difficult for someone to become a productive member of the community," said Terry Curry, the elected prosecutor in Marion County, which includes Indianapolis and has a population approaching 1 million residents. "If an individual has stayed out of the criminal justice system, then why should they continue to have that stain forever?"

    Though in most places the paperwork burden for expungements has fallen on private lawyers and nonprofit legal clinics, South Florida prosecutors now routinely hold events intended to help people wipe away records of arrests but not convictions. A district attorney in rural Louisiana leads information sessions about expungements for some felony convictions after a 10-year waiting period; a Vermont prosecutor recently held a record-clearing clinic; and the authorities near Fort Bragg, N.C., attracted about 500 people to an expungement event last year.

    Last month, the Brooklyn district attorney promoted "Begin Again" events, where, one advertisement said, people were invited to "clear your record of a misdemeanor marijuana conviction or warrant."

    But there is still a national patchwork of policies and terminologies, from destroying records to sealing them to simply noting that a conviction is effectively vacated. States have imposed various waiting periods, conditions and fees. Some places have made their processes deliberately simple, while others have complicated approaches that may require legal assistance or court hearings.

    The proliferation of new laws, and newfound enthusiasm on the part of some prosecutors, has hardly erased all doubts about the wisdom of suppressing records. Many prosecutors, especially in rural areas, remain skeptical of any action to show mercy for a person's past, and some judges engage in measured resistance, holding hearings more to complain about an expungement law than to weigh an application's merits.

    "You have prosecutors and judges who just think it's wrong: 'You've caused trouble in this county, you're a wrongdoer and you shouldn't get a blank slate,'" said Bernice Corley, the executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council.

    But Margaret Love, the executive director of the Collateral Consequences Resource Center and a former United States pardon attorney, said that clemency and expungements are part of the criminal justice process for a reason.

    "It ought to be something that prosecutors welcome and use to their advantage to create criminal justice success stories, to advertise criminal justice success stories," she said.

    The nuanced approach in Indiana, where officials hoped that expungements would improve people's job prospects, is increasingly seen as a model. Under its so-called Second Chance law, the state has a tiered system in which the offense, and the outcome of the case, determines the waiting period and the exact relief. Indiana does not destroy records, but can limit access to them and mark them as expunged, and crime victims are permitted to express their views before any decision is made.

    "Indiana should be the worst place in America to commit a serious crime and the best place, once you've done your time, to get a second chance," Gov. Mike Pence, now the vice president, said when he signed the records measure into law in 2013.

    There have been misgivings. Steven P. Sonnega, the prosecutor in a county just southwest of Indianapolis, unsuccessfully challenged Indiana's law in court. He declined to be interviewed but, in an email in September, said that "expungement is now part of the law in Indiana, and it's our legal duty to follow the law."

    Other prosecutors, like Mr. Curry, proved more enthusiastic, backed by local law clinics and nonprofit organizations. Since the law went into effect in July 2013, his prosecutors have reviewed about 11,500 petitions, encompassing about 45,000 criminal cases. According to the prosecutor's office, about 60 percent have focused on convictions, not just records of arrests. Many cases concerned relatively minor offenses like prostitution and driving with a suspended license, lawyers involved in the process said.

    "The key is you protect the public, and protecting the public means a whole lot of options," said Andrew J. Fogle, the deputy prosecutor Mr. Curry assigned to handle expungement petitions, including one for an arrest in the late 1950s. "To tail them, nail them, jail them is not a totally acceptable option."

    And so down Market Street from the Capitol, past the nearly 285-foot-tall Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the local courthouse has become one of the state's busiest proving grounds for the law. In Room B2, an Expungement Help Desk, operated by a local nonprofit in space lent by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, offers information and assistance with paperwork but not explicit legal advice. From time to time, Mr. Fogle shows people the way to the help desk, which is on pace to work on more than 1,500 petitions this year, up from 986 in 2017.

    "We try to make it a friendly place and not intimidating," said Julie Mennel, the paralegal who leads the help desk and, using brightly colored posters and paintings, has tried to set it apart from the adversarial justice system operating upstairs. "We're here to help people, not judge people. They've already had judgment passed."

    On a recent Thursday, an elderly African-American couple sat at a desk, talking with a law student about an old conviction for marijuana possession. A far younger white man named Fred with a long record announced, laughing, that he would need to return the next day to finish his paperwork with Ms. Mennel.

    Fernell, the woman with the conviction for resisting law enforcement, sat anxiously in a chair along a wall and waited to talk with someone. She asked that her last name not be used to avoid undoing what she hopes will come with an expungement: better employment and educational prospects. Before she became eligible for expungement, three fast-food restaurants, she said, had rejected her for jobs because of her teenage behavior.

    "A new beginning for me means I can grow with my business, my own interests," said Fernell, 24. "I knew I wanted it done, but I was waiting it out for five years."

    Perhaps her greatest ally had left the room only minutes before: Mr. Fogle, the deputy prosecutor who sometimes escorts people to the help desk and, speaking generally, said he was typically looking for a reason to support cleaning up a record.

    "We're not just doing lip service to this," he said. "It actually makes other people look at it differently and has people thinking, 'If the prosecutor is O.K. with this, maybe there is something to it.'"



    5) De Blasio Rebuffs Question on Homelessness: 'I'm in the Middle of a Workout'

    By Jeffery C. Mays, October 6, 2018


    Nathylin Flowers Adesegun was recorded as she confronted Mr. de Blasio about his plan to create and preserve affordable housing.

    Nathylin Flowers Adesegun has for the past year worked with Vocal-NY, a nonprofit that helps low-income people, to encourage Mayor Bill de Blasio to designate more apartments specifically for homeless people as part of his plan to create and preserve 300,000 units of affordable housing over a decade.

    Mr. de Blasio's plan calls for 5 percent of those units, or 15,000 apartments, to be set aside for homeless people. Vocal-NY wants him to double that.

    Members of the group have called in during the mayor's appearances on "The Brian Lehrer Show" on the radio station WNYC, attended his town hall meetings and met with the agency commissioner who handles homelessness, but many still felt they weren't being heard.

    On Friday, they did what other groups have done when they wanted to grab the mayor's attention: They sought out Mr. de Blasio at the Prospect Park Y.M.C.A. in Brooklyn, where he exercises most mornings.

    "He's famous for having his breakfast in Park Slope and going to the gym," Ms. Adesegun, who has lived in women's homeless shelters since she lost her apartment in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn in 2015, said on Saturday. "We needed to get his attention or he was just going to keep blowing us off."

    The 35-second encounter was captured on video by another Vocal-NY activist and posted to YouTube. In the video, Ms. Adesegun, 72, a retired office manager, walks to where Mr. de Blasio is seated in a butterfly stretch and says hello. She shakes hands with the mayor and squats down before making her appeal.

    "Out of 300,000 units in your affordable housing program, only 5 percent will go to the homeless: Can you look me in the eye and tell me why?" Ms. Adesegun asks as Mr. de Blasio tries to cut her off.

    "I'm in the middle of doing my workout: Sorry, I can't do this now," Mr. de Blasio says. As a member of his security detail steps in, Mr. de Blasio gets up to leave. "I'm not doing this here," the mayor says as he walks out with his phone in hand. "I'm in the middle of a workout."

    He then heads down a stairwell.

    Ms. Adesegun said on Saturday that she believed the mayor cared more about his workout than listening to her. Eric Phillips, Mr. de Blasio's press secretary, defended the mayor's decision to leave.

    "People working out at the gym shouldn't be worried they will be recorded in highly publicized, videotaped political confrontations every morning," Mr. Phillips said. "It's not the right venue for these discussions and the mayor won't have them there."

    Homelessness has been one of the most vexing issues facing Mr. de Blasio. The Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group, says New York is in the midst of the worst homeless crisis since the Great Depression. The city's shelter system houses just under 61,000 people, including more than 22,000 children. In seeking to open 90 new homeless shelters, Mr. de Blasio has struggled to find locations and to overcome resistance from existing residents opposed to new shelters in their neighborhoods. Mr. Phillips says 16 shelters have been opened so far. The city also recently moved to consolidate its confusing system of rental subsidies.

    Giselle Routhier, policy director of the coalition, said the group began calling for Mr. de Blasio to increase the number of units in his housing plan about a year ago.

    "We still have near-record homelessness and it's not going down as much as it should be at all," Ms. Routhier said. "You can't address record homeless without dedicating a meaningful portion of your housing plan to homelessness."

    Over the course of his almost five years in office, Mr. de Blasio has been confronted at the Y.M.C.A. by the union representing uniformed police officers as well as by a large group calling for traffic-calming measures after the deaths of a 4-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy who were struckby a driver a block from the gym.

    On average, the mayor encounters at least one protest per month at the gym, and, as he did with the group calling for traffic changes, Mr. de Blasio sometimes stops to talk. Mr. Phillips said the mayor cared deeply about homelessness and had made strides in tackling a difficult issue.

    Activists from Vocal-NY have been invited to City Hall for a meeting.

    "I did my deep breaths and did my prayers and asked the Lord to show me the way and he did," Ms. Adesegun said. "We are having a tremendous result."



    6) 17 Years to the Day the U.S. Invaded, 54 Are Killed Across Afghanistan

    By Fahim Abed, Fatima Faizi and Mujob Mashal, October 7, 2018


    An Afghan police headquarters damaged by a Taliban attack in the Sayed Abad District in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, on Sunday.

    KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 54 people have been killed across Afghanistan in the past 24 hours, according to a tally based on interviews with officials on Sunday — 17 years to the day American forces invaded the country to topple the Taliban regime.

    The violence was a reminder that the war has only raged deadlier with time, taking a toll on both the Afghan security forces and the civilians caught in the crossfire. On average, the conflict has taken the lives of 30 to 40 Afghan forces and at least 13 civilians a day. There are no tangible signs of momentum for peace talks with the Taliban.

    Among the killed were at least 35 members of Afghan security forces and 19 civilians. While most of the fatalities of the security forces came from Taliban attacks, residents and local officials said a majority of the civilian casualties in the past 24 hours had resulted from two episodes of firing by government forces in central Afghanistan and an airstrike in the country's east that they said was carried out by the United States. American forces denied they had carried out a strike in the area.

    A large number of Taliban fighters were also killed in attacks that Afghan officials said they had carried out in 14 of the country's 34 provinces. But the toll was difficult to verify; analysts estimate Taliban casualties usually number about the same as Afghan forces, if not more because of the airpower used against them.

    [Read our weekly tally of the long-running conflict in the Afghan War Casualty Report.]

    The deadliest of the attacks was an early morning raid by the Taliban on the Sayed Abad District of Wardak Province, which falls on the main highway about 60 miles outside Kabul, the capital. The highway remained blocked for hours — the Taliban had blown up a bridge — before it was reopened by the security forces.

    Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said 14 police officers, including Col. Sayed Nezrab Shah, the district police chief who had lost his leg in a battle three years ago, were killed.

    "His leg was bothering him — it was cut off at the knee, and it would still bleed," said Naqibullah Amini, a friend of Colonel Shah's. "He was saving money, and he had prepared his passport to go abroad for better treatment. He was just waiting for the security situation to get better."

    In northern Faryab Province, Taliban fighters overran two police outposts in Pashtun Kot District early on Sunday. Ten police officers and a civilian woman were killed, according to Mohammad Azam, the head of the criminal investigation department with the district police.

    Most of the civilian casualties happened in Paktia Province, in eastern Afghanistan. Local residents said a convoy carrying an elite Afghan strike force, trained and run by the Central Intelligence Agency, had come under attack late Friday. Leaving behind two burned vehicles, the unit escaped the area, where a brutal wing of the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, remains influential.

    When locals gathered around the vehicles early on Saturday afternoon, aircraft began bombing the area, according to Haji Gadlon Zadran, a local elder.

    "Ten villagers were killed, and 21 were wounded," he said. "The ages of killed persons were 9 to 12 and all of them were innocent villagers."

    Qadir Khan, the governor of the district, Gerda Serai, confirmed that 10 civilians were killed and said the strike was under investigation.

    American airstrikes in support of the Afghan forces have increased in recent months, as the government's security forces have struggled to hold the line against the Taliban. Publicly available data from the United States military show that 746 bombs were dropped in July, and 522 in September. The Afghan air force has also conducted an increasing number of airstrikes.

    It was unclear who carried out the strike in Paktia Province. American forces denied they were responsible for it, while a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry did not reply to questions.

    "I can confirm no coalition or U.S. forces were involved in strikes at this location during the time period," said Cmdr. Grant Neeley, a spokesman for the United States force in Afghanistan.

    Another episode, reflecting the blurred, dangerous state of affairs across the country, occurred in the central province of Ghor, where Afghan forces on Saturday carried out an operation to arrest a local militia commander the government has accused of abuses.

    Supporters of the commander, Shamsher Alipoor, have said he was leading a local force to fill the security gap against encroaching Taliban militants.

    Abdul Hai Khatibi, the spokesman for provincial governor of Ghor, said Commander Alipoor had engaged in clashes with security forces, killing four police officers and seven civilians. He fled the scene, and a government chase for him continued on Sunday, Mr. Khatibi said.

    But some relatives of the victims blamed the government for the civilian deaths. One of those critics was Reza Nazari, whose sister, Amina Nazari, 48, had been killed in the violence. She lost her husband to illness seven years ago, he said, and worked as a social worker for a nongovernmental organization. She was the main breadwinner for a family of four.

    Farooq Jan Mangal contributed reporting from Khost, Najim Rahim from Mazar e Sharif, and Mohammad Saber from Herat, Afghanistan.



    7) Life on the Dirtiest Block in San Francisco

    By Thomas Fuller, October 8, 2018


    The 300 block of Hyde Street in San Francisco received 2,227 complaints about street and sidewalk cleanliness over the past decade, more than any other.

    SAN FRANCISCO — The heroin needles, the pile of excrement between parked cars, the yellow soup oozing out of a large plastic bag by the curb and the stained, faux Persian carpet dumped on the corner.

    It's a scene of detritus that might bring to mind any variety of developing-world squalor. But this is San Francisco, the capital of the nation's technology industry, where a single span of Hyde Street hosts an open-air narcotics market by day and at night is occupied by the unsheltered and drug-addled slumped on the sidewalk.

    There are many other streets like it, but by one measure it's the dirtiest block in the city.

    Just a 15-minute walk away are the offices of Twitter and Uber, two companies that along with other nameplate technology giants have helped push the median price of a home in San Francisco well beyond $1 million.

    This dichotomy of street crime and world-changing technology, of luxury condominiums and grinding, persistent homelessness, and the dehumanizing effects for those forced to live on the streets provoke outrage among the city's residents. For many who live here it's difficult to reconcile San Francisco's liberal politics with the misery that surrounds them.

    According to city statisticians, the 300 block of Hyde Street, a span about the length of a football field in the heart of the Tenderloin neighborhood, received 2,227 complaints about street and sidewalk cleanliness over the past decade, more than any other. It's an imperfect measurement — some blocks might be dirtier but have fewer calls — but residents on the 300 block say that they are not surprised by their ranking.

    The San Francisco bureau photographer, Jim Wilson, and I set out to measure the depth of deprivation on a single block. We returned a number of times, including a 12-hour visit, from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on a recent weekday. Walking around the neighborhood we saw the desperation of the mentally ill, the drug dependent and homeless, and heard from embittered residents who say it will take much more than a broom to clean up the city, long considered one of America's beacons of urban beauty.

    Human waste has become such a widespread problem in San Francisco that the city in September established a unit dedicated to removing it from the sidewalks. Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for the Public Works Department, describes the new initiative as a "proactive human waste" unit.

    At 8 a.m. on a recent day, as mothers shepherded their children to school, we ran into Yolanda Warren, a receptionist who works around the corner from Hyde Street. The sidewalk in front of her office was stained with feces. The street smelled like a latrine.

    "Some parts of the Tenderloin, you're walking, and you smell it and you have to hold your breath," Ms. Warren said.

    At she does every morning, she hosed down the urine outside her office. The city has installed five portable bathrooms for the hundreds of unsheltered people in the Tenderloin, but that has not stopped people from urinating and defecating in the streets.

    "There are way too many people out here that don't have homes," Ms. Warren said.

    Over the past five years the number of homeless people in San Francisco has remained relatively steady — around 4,400 — and the sidewalks of the Tenderloin have come to resemble a refugee camp.

    The city has replaced more than 300 lampposts corroded by dog and human urine over the past three years, according to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Replacing the poles became more urgent after a lamppost collapsed in 2015, crushing a car.

    A more common danger are the thousands of heroin needles discarded by users.

    The Public Works Department and a nonprofit organization in the Tenderloin picked up 100,000 needles from the streets over the past year. The Public Health Department, which has its own needle recovery program, has a more alarming figure: It retrieved 164,264 needles in August alone, both through a disposal program and through street cleanups.

    Larry Gothberg, a building manager who has lived on Hyde Street since 1982, keeps a photographic record of the heroin users he sees shooting up on the streets. He swiped through a number of pictures on his phone showing users in a motionless stupor.

    "We call it the heroin freeze," Mr. Gothberg said. "They can stay that way for hours."

    Hyde Street is in the heart of the Tenderloin, a neighborhood of aging, subsidized single-occupancy apartment buildings, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants, coin laundromats and organizations dedicated to helping the indigent. Studio apartments on Hyde Street go for around $1,500, according to Mr. Gothberg, cheap in a city where the median rent for apartments is $4,500.

    A number of people we met on Hyde Street distinguished between the residents of the Tenderloin, many of them immigrant families, and those they called "street people" — the unsheltered drug users who congregate and camp along the sidewalks and the dealers who peddle crack cocaine, heroin and a variety of amphetamines.

    Disputes among the street population are common and sometimes result in violence. At night bodies line the sidewalks.

    "It's like the land of the living dead," said Adam Leising, a resident of Hyde Street.

    We met Mr. Leising late one evening after he had finished a shift as a server at a restaurant. As we toured the neighborhood, past a man crumpled on the ground next to empty beer bottles and trash, Mr. Leising told us that the daily glimpses of desperation brought him to the brink of depression.

    "We are the most advanced country in the world," Mr. Leising said. "And that's what people are having to live with here."

    Mr. Leising, who is the founder of the Lower Hyde Street Association, a nonprofit that holds cleanup activities on the street, feels that the city is not cracking down on the drug trade on the block because they don't want it to spread elsewhere.

    "It's obvious that it's a containment zone," Mr. Leising said. "These behaviors are not allowed in other neighborhoods."

    The Tenderloin police station posted on their Twitter feed that drug dealing "is the most significant issue impacting the quality of life." So far this year officers from the Tenderloin station house have made more than 3,000 arrests, including 424 for dealing drugs. "This is one of our priority areas," said Grace Gatpandan, a police spokeswoman said of the Tenderloin. But many feel they do not do enough.

    Gavin Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco and the leading candidate for governor in next month's election, told The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board last week that the city had reached the point of "enough is enough."

    "You can be too permissive, and I happen to think we have crossed that threshold in this state — and not just in this city," Mr. Newsom said. "You see it. It's just disgraceful."

    Mayor London Breed, who was elected in June, campaigned to clean up squalor.

    Ms. Breed has announced plans to provide an additional 1,000 beds for the homeless over the next two years but she is also targeting a relatively small group of people living on the streets whom she says are beyond the point of assisting themselves. The concept of this involuntary removal is known as conservatorship. A law recently passed in Sacramento strengthens the city's powers of conservatorship with a judge's permission.

    "There are about 100 to 150 people who are clearly mentally ill and who are cycling through the system and who need to be forced into conservatorship," Ms. Breed said in an interview. "We know all of them."

    According to Ms. Breed's office 12 percent of people who use the services of the San Francisco Department of Public Health account for 73 percent of the costs. The majority of these heavy users have medical, psychiatric and substance use issues, according to the department.

    Ms. Breed has made unannounced inspections of neighborhoods, sometimes carrying a broom.

    On a Saturday morning in September she walked past a woman on Hyde Street slouched on the pavement and preparing to plunge a syringe into her hand. "Put that away," said a police officer accompanying the mayor.

    On a recent afternoon we dropped by a barbershop on Hyde Street.

    Glenn Gustafik opened Mister Hyde two years ago to escape the high rents of downtown San Francisco, where he was quoted a $10,000 monthly rent for a similarly small space. Since opening on Hyde Street he has been engaged in a battle with drug users in the neighborhood who break the branches off a London plane tree in front of his shop and use the sticks to clean their crack pipes. This harvesting of twigs has killed the previous four trees, Mr. Gustafik said. At Mr. Gustafik's request the city protected the fifth tree with wire mesh, the kind used in suburban areas to discourage hungry deer.

    Toward dusk and into the night the 300 block of Hyde becomes an impromptu food and flea market. A woman offered a bicycle for $15 one evening and bric-a-brac was laid out on the sidewalks. Many items for sale were incongruous: A man hawked six shrink-wrapped packets of raw steaks that he cradled precariously as he called out for buyers. No one asked where he got them.

    At dawn crews from the city and private organizations arrive to pick up needles and trash. The city spends $70 million annually on street cleaning, well more than any other American cities that were studied in a recent report.

    But the sidewalks soon become crowded again and the litter accumulates.

    Mario Montoya Jr. has spent the past three decades cleaning the streets as an employee of the city's Public Works Department. Standing on a street corner as another city employee power-washed the sidewalk, Mr. Montoya described a Sisyphean cycle of cleanup and filth.

    "By noon everybody is up and out," Mr. Montoya said. "And here we go again."



    8) Justice Delayed, With a Life on the Line

    By Nicholes Kristof, October 6, 2018


    Kevin Cooper, center, after he was arrested in 1983.

    Imagine being framed for a horrific crime: the fatal stabbing of a married couple and two children. You then spend 35 years in prison awaiting execution for that quadruple murder. 

    Imagine that you're a black man and that the trial was tainted by the ugliest racism. Meanwhile, federal judges and F.B.I. investigators cite evidence that the real killer is a white convicted murderer who came home late on the night of the murders in bloody coveralls, but when his girlfriend reported him to the authorities, the police took the bloody coveralls and threw them away.

    Imagine that evidence sits in government storage that could show who actually committed the murders, yet year after year a governor refuses to allow advanced DNA testing.

    That is, I've argued, what happened to Kevin Cooper, now on death row at San Quentin prison. For 11 years, as attorney general and governor, Jerry Brown has refused to allow advanced DNA testing that could free Cooper or confirm his guilt.

    Now I have a new argument that perhaps can move Brown. The white convicted murderer who is the other suspect in the case has voluntarily provided samples of his DNA and told me that he too wants advanced DNA testing of evidence from the murder scene.

    "I had nothing to do with this crime," the man, Lee, told me. "I want it all retested, yes. To clear my name."

    I've used just Lee's first name, because he asked me not to use his full name and because enough damage has been done in this murder case by people jumping to conclusions without clear proof. Lee said that his former girlfriend had fingered him to the police because she was jealous of his new flame, and that the bloody coveralls were not his.

    "I have no idea who did it," said Lee, now 68. "The police need to do their job properly and find out who did it."

    So both suspects in the case are now pleading with Governor Brown to permit advanced DNA testing of evidence from the murder scene. A towel used by the killers has never been tested at all, and a T-shirt used by a murderer hasn't been tested for "touch DNA" to determine who wore it. Some hairs found clutched in the victims' hands, possibly ripped from the killer's head, are not from an African-American like Cooper and have also never been tested at all.

    Will Governor Brown listen?

    I asked Brown what he is waiting for, and he emphasized that he is reviewing the case with input from both sides. "I'll act on it," he said. He also protested that my reporting on the case, which led to widespread calls for DNA testing, was one-sided and had "left out a number of elements."

    While Brown denied that he was running out the clock, he refused to commit to resolving the issue before leaving office in January. Referring to the likelihood that Gavin Newsom will be elected governor next month, he said: "You're going to get a guy more liberal than me coming around the corner. Don't worry."

    I suggested that for an innocent man on death row, every extra day is no minor thing. Brown shrugged and observed that California has 130,000 prisoners.

    There has been another important development in the Cooper case. A witness has provided a sworn declaration describing a confession by Lee to the killings, committed with two other named individuals, according to Cooper's defense counsel, Norman C. Hile. The name of the witness is being kept confidential for now for the protection of the witness, Hile said in a letter to the governor.

    The 1983 killings — of Doug and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica, and an 11-year-old neighbor, Chris Hughes — were as barbaric a crime as one can imagine. Yet the horror of this crime will have been compounded if an innocent man has been framed for it.

    Granted, maybe I'm wrong about this. So, governor, prove me wrong. Test the evidence. Settle the doubts.

    To study criminal justice is to see how flawed our system is. Researchers have repeatedly found that black defendants are more likely to be convicted, more likely to receive long sentences, more likely to be sentenced to death — especially, as in this case, where the victims are white. One study found that judges are less likely to grant parole when they are hungry, before lunch. Another study found that judges issue longer sentences the week after their college alma mater football team unexpectedly loses a game. Given this arbitrariness in the system, it is unconscionable to let a man languish on death row without even testing all the evidence. At stake is the life of one man, but also the legitimacy of our criminal justice system.

    This case is illustrative of the problem with the death penalty, and 163 people on death row have been exonerated since 1973. This is not a problem of one man, but of a flawed system of justice.

    I generally admire Brown and agree with him on most issues. But I'm mystified, as are many of his friends, by his recalcitrance in the Kevin Cooper case. I'm glad that my May column finally got him to review options for DNA testing, but almost five months have elapsed and Cooper is still waiting.

    Brown told me he wished that "people would take more of an interest" in criminal justice issues. Governor, here's one such issue: Please show more interest yourself.
























































































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