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

Dear Friend.

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

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

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

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

More info


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

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist




New "Refuse War" Shirts

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

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

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

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


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

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



Say Her Name: 

The Life and Death of Sandra Bland

(w/ Q and A)


Saturday, November 10

7:30pm  and 10:30pm

Vogue Theater

3290 Sacramento St. (nr. Presidio Ave.)

San Francisco

Tickets: $12 Adults  /  $9 Seniors (60 +)

 (See description below photo)

You're invited to a limited theatrical screening of Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland. On July 10, 2015, Sandra Bland, a politically active 28-year-old African-American woman, was arrested for a traffic violation in a small Texas town. Three days later, Sandra was found hanging from a noose in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas. Described by The Hollywood Reporter as "heartbreaking..one of the most galvanizing episodes of this generation's civil rights struggle...poignantly explored," Say Her Name follows her family and their legal team as they try to make sense of what happened, presenting a compelling look at her life as well as her death. It's both a vigorous, engrossing mystery and a disturbing account of systemic racism and neglect.

Following the documentary, there will be a moderated discussion with Sharon Cooper (film subject and sister of Sandra Bland).

Join us for this important discussion!



Transform the Justice System







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

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

October 29, 2018: A victory—the judge granted a 30-day extension to defense attorneys seeking to have Mumia's previous appeals vacated so they can file a new appeal!

Free Mumia Now!

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

With your help, we just might free him!

Check out this video:

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

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

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

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

• Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent and framed!

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

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

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

• Courts have never treated Mumia fairly!

Will You Help Free Mumia?

Call DA Larry Krasner at (215) 686-8000

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

Krasner should cease opposing Mumia's legal petition.

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



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

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

1 PM Saturday, March 30, 2019.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No to NATO!

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

Bring the Troops Home Now! 

No to Racism! 

The Administrative Committee of UNAC,

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

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

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



In Defense of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson

Update on Rashid in Indiana

By Dustin McDaniel

November 9, 2018—Had a call with Rashid yesterday. He's been seen by medical, psych, and

dental. He's getting his meds and his blood pressure is being monitored,

though it is uncontrolled. The RN made recommendations for treatment

that included medication changes and further monitoring, but there's

been no follow up.

He's at the diagnostic center and he (along with everyone else I've

talked to about it) expect that he'll be sent to the solitary

confinement unit at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, though it could

be 30 days from now.

He's in a cell with no property. He has no extra underwear to change

into. The cell is, of course, dirty. He's in solitary confinement. He

didn't say they were denying him yard time. He didn't say there were any

problems with his meals.

They are refusing him his stationary and stamps, so he can't write out.

He gets a very limited number of phone calls per month (1 or 2), and

otherwise can only talk on the phone if a legal call is set up.

They are refusing to give him his property, or to allow him to look

through it to find records relevant to ongoing or planned litigation.

He's already past the statute of limitations on a law suit he planned to

file re abuses in Texas and other deadlines are about to pass over the

next month.

He has 35 banker boxes of property, or 2 pallets, that arrived in IDOC.

He needs to be allowed to look through these records in order to find

relevant legal documents. Moving forward, I think we need to find a

place/person for him to send these records to or they are going to be

destroyed. It would be good if we could find someone who would also take

on the task of organizing the records, getting rid of duplicates or

unnecessary paperwork, digitizing records, and making things easier to

search and access.

Although he does not appear in the inmate locator for IDOC, he does

appears in the JPay system as an Indiana prisoner (#264847). At his

request, I sent him some of his money so hopefully he can get stamps and


Hold off on sending him more money via JPay - I've been told that some

of the IDOC facilities are phasing out JPay and moving to GTL and

wouldn't want to have a bunch of money stuck and inaccessible due to

those changes. If you want to send him more money immediately, send it

to Abolitionist Law Center. You can send it via Paypal to

info@abolitionistlawcenter.org, or mail it to PO Box 8654, Pittsburgh,

PA 15221. We will hold on to it and distribute it according to Rashid's


Please write to him, if you haven't already. He's got nothing to do in

solitary with nothing to read and nothing to write with.


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

Write to Rashid:

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

Write or email:

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson #264847

Indiana Dept. of Corrections Reception Diagnostic Center 

737 Moon Road

Plainfield, IN 46168




Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg: PHONE ZAP on 11/13

Keith "Malik" Washington is an incarcerated activist who has spoken out on conditions of confinement in Texas prison and beyond:  from issues of toxic water and extreme heat, to physical and sexual abuse of imprisoned people, to religious discrimination and more.  Malik has also been a tireless leader in the movement to #EndPrisonSlavery which gained visibility during nationwide prison strikes in 2016 and 2018.  View his work at comrademalik.com or write him at:

Keith H. Washington
TDC# 1487958
McConnell Unit
3001 S. Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78102

Friends, it's time to get Malik out of solitary confinement.

Malik has experienced intense, targeted harassment ever since he dared to start speaking against brutal conditions faced by incarcerated people in Texas and nationwide--but over the past few months, prison officials have stepped up their retaliation even more.

In Administrative Segregation (solitary confinement) at McConnell Unit, Malik has experienced frequent humiliating strip searches, medical neglect, mail tampering and censorship, confinement 23 hours a day to a cell that often reached 100+ degrees in the summer, and other daily abuses too numerous to name.  It could not be more clear that they are trying to make an example of him because he is a committed freedom fighter.  So we have to step up.

Phone zap on Tuesday, November 13

**Mark your calendars for the 11/13 call in, be on the look out for a call script, and spread the word!!**


- Convene special review of Malik's placement in Ad-Seg and immediately release him back to general population

- Explain why the State Classification Committee's decision to release Malik from Ad-Seg back in June was overturned (specifically, demand to know the nature of the "information" supposedly collected by the Fusion Center, and demand to know how this information was investigated and verified).

- Immediately cease all harassment and retaliation against Malik, especially strip searches and mail censorship!

Who to contact:

TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier

Phone: (936)295-6371

Senior Warden Philip Sinfuentes (McConnell Unit)

Phone: (361) 362-2300


Background on Malik's Situation

Malik's continued assignment to Ad-Seg (solitary confinement) in is an overt example of political repression, plain and simple.  Prison officials placed Malik in Ad-Seg two years ago for writing about and endorsing the 2016 nationwide prison strike.  They were able to do this because Texas and U.S. law permits non-violent work refusal to be classified as incitement to riot.

It gets worse.  Malik was cleared for release from Ad-Seg by the State Classification Committee in June--and then, in an unprecedented reversal, immediately re-assigned him back to Ad-Seg.  The reason?  Prison Officials site "information" collected by a shadowy intelligence gathering operation called a Fusion Center, which are known for lack of transparency and accountability, and for being blatant tools of political repression.

Malik remains in horrible conditions, vulnerable to every possible abuse, on the basis of "information" that has NEVER been disclosed or verified.  No court or other independent entity has ever confirmed the existence, let alone authenticity, of this alleged information.  In fact, as recently as October 25, a representative of the State Classification Committee told Malik that he has no clue why Malik was re-assigned to Ad-Seg.  This "information" is pure fiction.   



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

By Michael Barbaro, May 30, 2018


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

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

On today's episode:

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



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

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

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

NO ESTÁN SOLOS (You are not alone).

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

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

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

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

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

In Solidarity,

Ramon Mejia

Field Organizer, About Face: Veterans Against the War

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

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



Stop JROTC Programs

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

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

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

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

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

Onward in divestment,

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

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



Major George Tillery




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

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

Sex for Lies and Manufactured Testimony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:

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

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

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

Major Tillery and family


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

    Go to JPay.com;

    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:

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

    Call: 215-686-8000 or

    Write to:

    Major Tillery AM 9786

    SCI Frackville

    1111 Altamont Blvd.

    Frackville, PA 17931

    For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org


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

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



    Free Leonard Peltier!

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

    By Leonard Peltier

    Art by Leonard Peltier

    Write to:

    Leonard Peltier 89637-132 

    USP Coleman I 

    P.O. Box 1033 

    Coleman, FL 33521

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



    Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 

    Charity for the Wealthy!





    1)  Analysis: African-Americans pay more for rent, especially in white neighborhoods

    By Dirk Early, Edgar Olsen and Paul E. Carrillo, October 31 2018


    For many years, housing discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities was legal, open, and common throughout the U.S. Racial covenants, openly advertising for white tenants, government policies restricting access to credit for minorities, and threats of violence greatly restricted the housing choices available to minority owners and renters.

    Although the Supreme Court declared the most egregious practices unconstitutional many years ago, racial attitudes still play a major role in housing market outcomes.

    A recent study by Patrick Bayer, from Duke University, and his coauthors have established convincingly that African-Americans pay higher sales prices than whites for identical units in the same neighborhood. Understanding racial rent differences is even more important since nearly 60 percent of black households are renters.

    Our new study, Racial Rent Differences in U.S. Housing Markets: Evidence from the Housing Voucher Program, fills this gap. Using data from rental units in 2000-2002 across all metropolitan areas of the country and the non-metropolitan areas of each state, we estimate racial differences in the rents paid for identical housing in the same neighborhood and show how they vary with neighborhood racial composition.

    Our results indicate that households led by African-Americans pay more for identical housing in identical neighborhoods than their white counterparts, and that this rent premium increases as neighborhoods get whiter.

    In neighborhoods where whites are less than 30 percent of residents, the premium is between 0.5 and 1 percent. The premium rises to about 3 percent in neighborhoods where whites are more than 60 percent of all residents. Chicago does not fare well in this analysis, showing a higher rent premium than most metropolitan areas. We estimate that African-Americans in Chicago pay a rent premium between 5 and 6 percent in neighborhoods that are 80 percent white, although those estimates are imprecisely measured. Still, for a rental apartment costing $1500 per month, this could mean a racial premium of $900 or more per year for an African-American renter.

    We know much more about the extent of discrimination than the causes and our data do not allow us to determine the mechanisms that lead to the racial rent premiums we detect. That said, two explanations fit with our results. Landlords charging different rents based on race almost surely explains some of racial rent premiums, but our primary explanation for racial rent differences is not based on that presumption. It is based on the idea that blacks search less in the whitest areas and hence tend to rent overpriced units in those neighborhoods.

    The aversion of some landlords to dealing with African-American tenants and the aversion of some white tenants to African-American neighbors should lead to a sorting of landlords and tenants. Landlords with little or no aversion to dealing with blacks should work in predominantly black areas and landlords with the greatest aversion in predominantly white areas. A similar sorting across neighborhoods will occur for white tenants. Therefore, blacks might reasonably expect to face the most hostility from landlords and neighbors in the whitest neighborhoods. If blacks search less in those neighborhoods based on this assumption, they will typically end up in overpriced units relative to whites. Longer searches for both African-Americans and whites generally result in lower rent prices.

    The federal Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 but we still see racial rent and price premiums half a century later. How effective that Act and the other laws aimed at reducing housing discrimination have been in increasing opportunities for minorities should be better understood.

    Since housing is typically the largest cost facing a family, especially for those with low to moderate incomes, the causes of racial rent premiums need to be better understood. Without that, it is difficult to design policies to address this common problem across the US.

    Dirk Early is a professor of economics at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.

    Edgar Olsen is a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

    Paul Carrillo is an associate professor of economics and International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.



    2) Belgians Open Homes, and Hearts, to Migrants

    By Steven ringer and Milan Schreuer, November 5, 2018


    Anne-Catherine de Neve, center, at dinner with migrants her family was hosting for the night.

    MONT-SAINT-GUIBERT, Belgium — The migrants while away their days in Brussels at Maximilian Park, near the busy Gare du Nord, playing soccer on the durable artificial grass, checking their smartphones, dodging the police and trying to find a way to Britain.

    Roxane Hauzeur, a designer for a fashion house, began volunteering to help them a year ago, working with a new organization that provides housing and other assistance for the migrants, most of them from Africa and seeking asylum.

    She found herself swept away, transported.

    Ms. Hauzeur started bringing food, then giving rides, but soon she was playing host to up to five people a night in her small Brussels apartment. The experience has transformed her, she said.

    "It was like a tsunami in my life," she said. "You come and meet these people and you realize they're just like you."

    The latest refugee crisis, which peaked in 2015, brought hundreds of thousands of migrants to Europe. And though the numbers have dropped considerably, many in Belgium, as elsewhere in Europe, see the migrants, often young and male, as a threat.

    Ms. Hauzeur and her fellow volunteers at Citizen's Platform for the Support of Refugees, have a different view. "I feel ashamed of my country," she said. "I heard so many times that Europe is the land of human rights, but it's not true."

    Citizen's Platform was the idea of Mehdi Kassou, a 35-year-old Belgian of Moroccan ancestry who left his job with a Korean company to found the group. Roughly 7,000 Belgians volunteer there to help migrants and asylum seekers.

    When Mr. Kassou walks through the park, he is greeted like a rock star. He gets warm hellos, fist bumps and conversation in French and the various Arabic dialects he is trying to learn.

    The migrants who come to Belgium see it as their best way to slip into Britain. But they face a variety of legal complications.

    Under the current rules of the European Union, migrants are supposed to register and seek asylum where they first land. But hoping to move onward, they don't want to register in Belgium, or having already been registered where they landed, in Italy, Greece or Spain, they don't want to be sent back.

    And they have more basic needs.

    "We now house about 650 people a night," Mr. Kassou said, 300 in a building the group got permission to use last December, serviced by some 15 employees. The rest are housed by volunteers.

    Mr. Kassou urges those most likely to qualify for political asylum to apply in Belgium; those who are rejected often appeal.

    The government estimates that only a few thousand illegal migrants are here now, and that just a few hundred roam Maximilian Park

    Officially, the number of asylum seekers in Belgium in 2017 was 19,688, down from 44,760 in 2015. Asylum is granted to fewer than half of those who apply, Mr. Kassou said, but more easily to those from Syria, Eritrea and other areas torn by violence.

    Jails and detention centers are full, and the government is exploringrenting a 300-bed prison boat from the Dutch.

    Some volunteers say the experience of meeting the migrants, and feeding and helping house them, has altered their own lives.

    Ms. Hauzeur's grandmother is from Congo; her father is half-Congolese and came to Belgium at the age of 4. Both are proud of her for her volunteer work, she said, "even if my grandmother is jealous that I know more now about Ethiopia and Sudan than the Congo."

    Another volunteer, Anne-Catherine de Neve, 45; her husband, Yves Hallet, 46; and their three children take in four to six migrants a night, five or six nights a week.

    One recent night, at their modest home here about 40 minutes' drive southeast of Maximilian Park, they sat down with their migrant guests to a dinner of chicken and rice.

    "I want to fight against all the fascism we're seeing," Ms. de Neve said as she cooked. "It's a fight for social rights, and it's quite a fight for Belgium, for Europe, for all countries."

    Ms. de Neve read about the migrants in park in the news and started volunteering a year ago. She takes in the migrants in part, she said, to educate her children.

    "Now they hear, they see, and they understand something, but I think they'll have a better understanding later."

    At first, she said, her oldest son, Robin, now 16, wanted to have nothing to do with the migrants. Then one day, she said, "he called me in the park and asked: 'How many tonight? I'll make up the beds.'"

    Ms. de Neve has learned something about herself, too.

    "Before I would tell myself I wasn't racist," she said. "It's easy to tell yourself that. Being around these migrants in my house I learned a lot about them, and about my own views."

    Her husband said he had been nervous at first, even afraid. "I worried about my children and hid my laptop," he recalled.

    No longer.

    "We've lost maybe 20 euros and some headphones," Mr. de Neve said of the past year. "They are very good people."

    He prefers not to name his employer, but said: "We decided that if we do nothing, then we will be responsible for what happens."

    Charity has, however, created a financial strain. It has been hard for the couple to pay school fees for their own children. So they collect extra and unused food from shops and restaurants to help with the 28 or so dinners they provide every week.

    "We're completely out of money," Ms. de Neve said, laughing. "We'll figure it out later."

    One of her guests on a recent night was a Libyan migrant named Maamar Isneebir, who is known as Omar.

    Now 18, Mr. Isneebir left his home in Khoms, a coastal city east of Tripoli, a year ago. He claims that when he was 11, he fought against the regime of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi.

    "There is no safety now," he said. "There are militias, there is ISIS."

    There is also little work.

    Mr. Isneebir spent three days at sea, terrified, before reaching Italy, where he was registered. He then made his way to Nice, then Paris, and then to Germany for eight months.

    The Germans told him to return to France, and when the police came to arrest him, he said, he jumped from a window and made his way to Belgium five months ago. He had hoped to go to Britain, but now says he'd like to stay.

    "It's unbelievable to have someone open their house to someone they don't know," Mr. Isneebir said in Arabic, translated by Mr. Kassou, who noted quietly that Libyans have only a 20 percent chance of getting political asylum here. "They treat me like their own child."

    Also at the de Neve home that night was Said Adam, 18. He comes from Darfur, and has been in Belgium nearly 10 months, he said.

    When Mr. Adam came to Italy by boat, he said, "I didn't know where Belgium is." Now, he, too, hopes to stay — though he still seems a little lost.

    Ms. de Neve has few illusions about how much she can do for her guests.

    "I cannot help them, really," she said simply. "The rules are made for them to lose."



    3) Capitalist Ju$tice vs. A Socialist World

    By Bonnie Weinstein, Nov/Dec 2018, Socialist Viewpoint, Vol 18, No. 6


    "Thinking outside the box" is a popular metaphor that means, "to think differently—from a different or new perspective." It's meant to encourage creative thinking—to find new or different ways to solve problems. 

    But when it comes to the rationalization and justification of capitalism by the capitalist class, there is no "outside" of the box. 

    When it comes to war, the capitalists say, "there has always been war—it's human nature to be war-like." When it comes to economic inequality they say, "there has always been a wealthy minority in power over the masses—the wealthy are on top because they are smarter, better, stronger. The poor are poor because they are inferior." 

    This is social Darwinism and it is beat into our heads from the time we are born. We are taught to believe that this is the way it is, has always been, and will always be. It's what justifies Manifest Destiny, slavery and imperialism—the "great white hope" that is meant to "tame and/or slaughter the savages" and establish "civilization,"—i.e., white domination by force of violence. 

    Capitalist Ju$tice is determined by income inequality

    You may have noticed that the wealthy rarely go to jail and almost never get the death penalty or life without parole—these punishments are for the masses. Not for the capitalists.

    In an August 31, 2018 New York Times article by Robert H. Frank titled, "How Rising Inequality Has Widened the Justice Gap," the author states:

    "Rising inequality has harmed low-income families not only by depriving them of a fair share of society's income growth, but also in a more specific way: It has stacked the legal system even more heavily against them. According to a recent survey, more than 70 percent of low-income American households had been involved in eviction cases, labor law cases, and other civil legal disputes during the preceding year, and in more than 80 percent of those cases they lacked effective legal representation."

    That's because in a capitalist society like ours it takes money to have adequate legal representation—just as it takes money to eat, have a home, clothes, medical care, education.

    The article goes on: 

    "Many top earners are not only talented and hardworking, but they are also lucky to have grown up in privileged circumstances. And it is one thing to say that someone who is ten percent more skillful should be paid ten percent more. But in today's winner-take-all marketplace, those who are only one percent more talented often earn thousands-of-times more. These observations are difficult to square with anyone's conception of a just society."

    This is because capitalism—by its very structure—is designed to protect the privileges of the wealthy by any means necessary. That is the purpose of the courts, the police and the military. After all, workers are talented and hardworking too, but we are not adequately compensated for it.

    The economic structure of capitalism and the laws created and enforced by capitalists are all designed to allow the wealthy to accumulate the profits that the working masses produce. 

    Workers are only compensated for our labor by what we demand and can win through cooperative actions such mass demonstrations, union organizing and strikes. As revolutionary socialist James P. Cannon once put it, "The ethic of capitalism is: 'From each whatever you can get out of him—to each whatever he can grab.'"1

    Even the so-called democratic electoral system is rigged in favor of the wealthy. It's a system that allows working people to vote for one wealthy representative of the capitalist class over another. We do not get to vote on laws, or who sits on the Supreme Court. We have no say over the cost of credit card interest rates, gas and electric rates, education, food or housing, etc. We have no say over the costs to us, of any of the basic necessities of life. 

    Capitalism is democracy for the wealthy and dictatorship over the working class. 

    Capitalist pillaging and destruction of the world

    Capitalism is a stage of social evolution that has outlived its usefulness. It destroys the world in order to increase private profits for the wealthy. 

    The gap between the rich and the poor has grown astronomically in the last few decades. Not just in the United States but all over the world. And it is reinforced by massive military interventions—led by the United States and its allies—across the globe. 

    Natural resources wherever they are found, are taken by force of violence for the benefit of privately owned corporations under the control of the U.S.-dominated capitalist class. 

    The U.S. war on Afghanistan is a prime example

    In an October 4, 2018 New York Times article by Mujib Marshal titled, "As Afghanistan Frays, Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Is Everywhere," after 17 years of the U.S. war for natural resources in Afghanistan, and, at the cost to taxpayers of $45 billion a year,2 the U.S. wants to privatize the war to better achieve this goal: 

    "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…All of this, Mr. Prince said, would bring down the annual cost of the war to roughly a fifth of the current amount… Mr. Prince lists one of his goals as: 'Develop and produce key rare earth minerals to restore U.S. high-tech manufacturing supply chain.'"

    (By the way, Mr. Prince's sister happens to be Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education under Trump—capitalism is "all in the family.")

    As further proof of the purpose of the U.S. war on Afghanistan, in another New York Times article by Mujib Marshal dated October 6, 2018 titled, "Afghanistan Signs Major Mining Deals Despite Legal Concerns," the author reports:

    "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. …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."

    This shows how further enriching the wealth of the capitalist class at the expense of human life and the health of the planet is the very purpose of the capitalist dictatorship and their wars. In fact, the U.S. privately-owned corporations of the military industrial complex are the biggest polluters on our planet.

    Socialism is thinking outside of the capitalist "box"

    So what will socialism—the next stage of human social evolution—look like? 

    Socialism's fundamental economic structure turns capitalism—the private ownership of the means of production—upside-down. 

    Socialism is an economic system that democratizes production in order to fulfill the needs and wants of all on an equal basis, instead of on the accumulation of private profits for the few. 

    Production for need and want instead of private profit will free up resources to ensure safety and efficiency on the job—both for the health and safety of workers and the preservation of our environment. 

    It will eliminate the waste of producing inferior products designed to break down so that they have to constantly be replaced—a standard practice of capitalist production to increase profits. Instead, we can concentrate on the production of durable products that can be upgraded as technology evolves.

    Capitalist production pollutes and destroys the environment because taking the proper precautions to produce durable goods and to preserve the health and safety of workers and the planet cuts into their profits. That's why factories spew their filth in the air, land and sea with abandon and without guilt. 

    Cleaning up the pollution caused by capitalist production is paid for by the taxes taken out of our paychecks—the billionaire CEOs don't pay anything—and they still can't get the job done!

    Socialism will end all that. 

    Without the private, profit-driven capitalist motive of production, we will be free to revolutionize production methods without sacrificing the well being of people or the planet. 

    The goal will be to produce durable goods more efficiently—maximizing automation while gradually shortening the workweek and increasing living standards for all—so that everyone can have, not only all the necessities and wants of life, but more free time to pursue personal interests, the arts, scientific advancements. 

    We will be free to study life on earth, preserve our environment and explore the intelligence and diversity of the species that share our planet with us. 

    It will be a world without racism, sexism, war, jails, poverty, starvation, homelessness, ignorance, despair, drug addiction, crime and pestilence. 

    Under a democratic and cooperative socialist society, the free and equal development of each individual's talents and abilities will finally become the condition for the free and equal development of all of us.

    There is only one thing that stands in the way of our road to a socialist utopia—and that is capitalism—the private ownership of the means of production by a tiny, despotic, divisive, parasitic capitalist class that can only survive by oppression, violence and war. Capitalism has to go!

    Under a socialist society—with an ecologically safe and carefully planned communal economy, there are no obstacles that we won't be able to overcome. It will be a society designed to encourage human development to its fullest while preserving and safeguarding the health and welfare of our planet for the benefit of all.

    "Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Proletarians of All Countries, Unite!"

    —The Manifesto of the Communist Party, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels3

    1 "What Socialist America Will Look Like," by James P. Cannon

    2 "Pentagon says war in Afghanistan costs taxpayers $45 billion a year"



    4) The Nauru Experience: Zero-Tolerance Immigration and Suicidal Children

    By Mirdula Amin and Isabella Kwai, November 5, 2018


    Sajeenthana, 8, with her father after describing her suicidal thoughts and attempts at self-harm in September.

    TOPSIDE, Nauru — She was 3 years old when she arrived on Nauru, a child fleeing war in Sri Lanka. Now, Sajeenthana is 8.

    Her gaze is vacant. Sometimes she punches adults. And she talks about dying with ease.

    "Yesterday I cut my hand," she said in an interview here on the remote Pacific island where she was sent by the Australian government after being caught at sea. She pointed to a scar on her arm. 

    "One day I will kill myself," she said. "Wait and see, when I find the knife. I don't care about my body. " 

    Her father tried to calm her, but she twisted away. "It is the same as if I was in war, or here," he said.

    Sajeenthana is one of more than 3,000 refugees and asylum seekers who have been sent to Australia's offshore detention centers since 2013. No other Australian policy has been so widely condemned by the world's human rights activists nor so strongly defended by the country's leaders, who have long argued it saves lives by deterring smugglers and migrants.

    Now, though, the desperation has reached a new level — in part because of the United States.

    Sajeenthana and her father are among the dozens of refugees on Nauru who had been expecting to be moved as part of an Obama-era deal that President Trump reluctantly agreed to honor, allowing resettlement for up to 1,250 refugees from Australia's offshore camps.

    So far, according to American officials, about 430 refugees from the camps have been resettled in the United States — but at least 70 people were rejected over the past few months.

    That includes Sajeenthana and her father, Tamil refugees who fled violence at home after the Sri Lankan government crushed a Tamil insurgency.

    A State Department spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the rejections, arguing the Nauru refugees are subject to the same vetting procedures as other refugees worldwide.

    Australia's Department of Home Affairs said in a statement that Nauru has "appropriate mental health assessment and treatment in place." 

    But what's clear, according to doctors and asylum seekers, is that the situation has been deteriorating for months. On Nauru, signs of suicidal children have been emerging since August. Dozens of organizations, including Doctors Without Borders (which was ejected from Nauru on Oct. 5) have been sounding the alarm. And with the hope of American resettlement diminishing, the Australian government has been forced to relent: Last week officials said they would work toward moving all children off Nauru for treatment by Christmas. 

    At least 92 children have been moved since August — Sajeenthana was evacuated soon after our interview — but as of Tuesday there were still 27 children on Nauru, hundreds of adults, and no long-term solution.

    The families sent to Australia for care are waiting to hear if they will be sent back to Nauru. Some parents, left behind as their children are being treated, fear they will never see each other again if they apply for American resettlement, while asylum seekers from countries banned by the United States — like Iran, Syria and Somalia — lack even that possibility.

    For all the asylum seekers who have called Nauru home, the psychological effects linger.

    Nauru is a small island nation of about 11,000 people that takes 30 minutes by car to loop. A line of dilapidated mansions along the coast signal the island's wealthy past; in the 1970s, it was a phosphate-rich nation with per capita income second only to Saudi Arabia.

    Now, those phosphate reserves are virtually exhausted, and the country relies heavily on Australian aid. It accounted for 25 percent of Nauru's gross domestic product last year alone.

    Mathew Batsiua, a former Nauruan lawmaker who helped orchestrate the offshore arrangement, said it was meant to be a short-term deal. But the habit has been hard to break. 

    "Our mainstay income is purely controlled by the foreign policy of another country," he said.

    In Topside, an area of old cars and dusty brush, sits one of the two processing centers that house about 160 detainees. Hundreds of others live in community camps of modular housing. They were moved from shared tents in August, ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum, an intergovernmental meeting that Nauru hosted this year.

    Sukirtha Krishnalingam, 15, said the days are a boring loop as she and her family of five — certified refugees from Sri Lanka — wait to hear if the United States will accept them. She worries about her heart condition. And she has nightmares.

    "At night, she screams," said her brother Mahinthan, 14.

    In the past year, talk of suicide on the island has become more common. Young men like Abdullah Khoder, a 24-year-old Lebanese refugee, says exhaustion and hopelessness have taken a toll. "I cut my hands with razors because I am tired," he said.

    Even more alarming: Children now allude to suicide as if it were just another thunderstorm. Since 2014, 12 people have died after being detained in Australia's offshore detention centers on Nauru and Manus Island, part of Papua New Guinea. 

    Christina Sivalingam, a 10-year-old Tamil girl on Nauru spoke matter-of-factly in an interview about seeing the aftermath of one death — that of an Iranian man, Fariborz Karami, who killed himself in June. 

    "We came off the school bus and I saw the blood — it was everywhere," she said calmly. It took two days to clean up. She said her father also attempted suicide after treatment for his thyroid condition was delayed.

    Seeing some of her friends being settled in the United States while she waits on her third appeal for asylum has only made her lonelier. She said she doesn't feel like eating anymore. 

    "Why am I the only one here?" she said. "I want to go somewhere else and be happy."

    Some observers, even on Nauru, wonder if the children are refusing to eat in a bid to leave. But medical professionals who have worked on the island said the rejections by the Americans have contributed to a rapid deterioration of people's mental states. 

    Dr. Beth O'Connor, a psychiatrist working with Doctors Without Borders, said that when she arrived last year, people clung to the hope of resettlement in the United States. In May, a batch of rejections plunged the camp into despair.

    Mr. Karami's death further sapped morale.

    "People that just had a bit of spark in their eye still just went dull," Dr. O'Connor said. "They felt more abandoned and left behind."

    Many of the detainees no longer hope to settle in Australia. New Zealand has offered to take in 150 refugees annually from Nauru but Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, has said that he will only consider the proposal if a bill is passed banning those on Nauru from ever entering Australia. Opposition lawmakers say they are open to discussion.

    In the meantime, Nauru continues to draw scrutiny.

    For months, doctors say, many children on Nauru have been exhibiting symptoms of resignation syndrome — a mental condition in response to trauma that involves extreme withdrawal from reality. They stopped eating, drinking and talking. 

    "They'd look right through you when you tried to talk to them," Dr. O'Connor said. "We watched their weights decline and we worried that one of them would die before they got out."

    Lawyers with the National Justice Project, a nonprofit legal service, have been mobilizing. They have successfully argued for the medical evacuation of around 127 people from Nauru this year, including 44 children. 

    In a quarter of the cases, the government has resisted these demands in court, said George Newhouse, the group's principal lawyer.

    "We've never lost," he said. "It is gut-wrenching to see children's lives destroyed for political gain."

    A broad coalition that includes doctors, clergy, lawyers and nonprofit organizations, working under the banner #kidsoffnauru, is now calling for all asylum seekers to be evacuated. 

    Public opinion in Australia is turning: In one recent poll, about 80 percent of respondents supported the removal of families and children from Nauru.

    Australia's conservative government, with an election looming, is starting to shift.

    "We've been going about this quietly," Mr. Morrison said last week. "We haven't been showboating." 

    But there are still questions about what happens next. 

    Last month, Sajeenthana stopped eating. After she had spent 10 days on a saline drip in a Nauruan hospital, her father was told he had two hours to pack for Australia.

    Speaking by video from Brisbane last week (we are not using her full name because of her age and the severity of her condition), Sajeenthana beamed. 

    "I feel better now that I am in Australia," she said. "I'm not going back to Nauru."

    But her father is less certain. The United States rejected his application for resettlement in September. There are security guards posted outside their Brisbane hotel room, he said, and though food arrives daily, they are not allowed to leave. He wonders if they have swapped one kind of limbo for another, or if they will be forced back to Nauru. 

    Australia's Home Affairs minister has said the Nauru children will not be allowed to stay

    "Anyone who is brought here is still classified as a transitory person," said Jana Favero, director of advocacy and campaigns at the Asylum Seeker Resource Center. "Life certainly isn't completely rosy and cheery once they arrive in Australia."

    On Monday, 25 more people, including eight children, left the island in six family units, she said. 

    Those left behind on Nauru pass the days, worrying and waiting.

    Christina often dreams of what life would be like somewhere else, where being 10 does not mean being trapped. 

    A single Iranian woman who asked not to be identified because she feared for her safety said that short of attempting suicide or changing nationality, there was no way off Nauru. 

    She has been waiting two years for an answer to her application for resettlement in the United States — one that now seems hopeless given the Trump administration's policies.

    Each night, often after the power goes out on Nauru, she and her sister talk about life and death, and whether to harm themselves to seek freedom.



    5) San Francisco Approves Business Tax to Fund Homeless Services

    By Kate Conger, November 7, 2018


    San Francisco's tech elites were divided on Proposition C, which was seen as an effort to hold their companies accountable for exacerbating the local housing crisis.

    SAN FRANCISCO — Voters in San Francisco approved a tax increase on the city's largest businesses that would nearly double its budget for homeless services, a measure seen as an effort to hold wealthy technology companies accountable for exacerbating the local housing crisis.

    Tech executives have poured money into the campaigns for and against the measure. Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter and the payments company Square, spent $125,000 to oppose it, while Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce, spent $2 million to support it. Salesforce contributed an additional $5 million to the campaign in favor of the initiative, known as Proposition C.

    Mr. Benioff and Mr. Dorsey sparred on Twitter over Proposition C in October, fueling a debate that coursed through the tech industry in the run-up to the election. The battle continued in the days before the vote, with Mark Pincus, the co-founder of the online gaming company Zynga, tweeting Saturday that Proposition C is "the dumbest, least thought out" initiative and asking his followers to vote against it.

    Mr. Benioff argued that San Francisco's businesses needed to take a more aggressive role in dealing with the city's homelessness crisis.

    "What we do matters and we can improve the world," Mr. Benioff said. "We can't just be part of the problem."

    The final results showed that three of every five people who voted supported the measure.

    "I think what's been so incredible about this measure is we've seen an overwhelming amount of support from the community," said Sam Lew, the manager of the campaign favoring the initiative. "If there is a legal challenge, there will be thousands of San Franciscans who will fight against it."

    Opponents of the measure may challenge the results. A state Supreme Court ruling last year raised questions about whether tax increases proposed by voters for specific causes needed the same two-thirds majority to pass as those proposed by elected officials.

    The San Francisco City Attorney's Office is currently seeking a court order to resolve the confusion, asking the city's Superior Court to affirm that special tax increases proposed by voters can be passed with a simple majority vote.

    Jess Montejano, a spokesman for the No on C campaign, expressed confidence that Proposition C's failure to meet the two-thirds threshold meant it would never go into effect.

    "Despite outspending the No on C campaign by at least four to one, the Yes on C campaign failed to earn the two-thirds voter support necessary for San Francisco to ever see a penny that Proposition C promised," Mr. Montejano said.



    6) The Newest Jim Crow

    Recent criminal justice reforms contain the seeds of a frightening system of "e-carceration."

    "It's tempting to believe that computers will be neutral and objective, but algorithms are nothing more than opinions embedded in mathematics."

    By Michelle Alexander, November 8, 2018


    In the midterms, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to legalize marijuana, Florida restored the vote to over 1.4 million people with felony convictions, and Louisiana passed a constitutional amendment requiring unanimous jury verdicts in felony trials. These are the latest examples of the astonishing progress that has been made in the last several years on a wide range of criminal justice issues. Since 2010, when I published "The New Jim Crow" — which argued that a system of legal discrimination and segregation had been born again in this country because of the war on drugs and mass incarceration — there have been significant changes to drug policy, sentencing and re-entry, including "ban the box" initiatives aimed at eliminating barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people. 

    This progress is unquestionably good news, but there are warning signs blinking brightly. Many of the current reform efforts contain the seeds of the next generation of racial and social control, a system of "e-carceration" that may prove more dangerous and more difficult to challenge than the one we hope to leave behind.

    Bail reform is a case in point. Thanks in part to new laws and policies — as well as actions like the mass bailout of inmates in New York City jails that's underway — the unconscionable practice of cash bail is finally coming to an end. In August, California became the first state to decide to get rid of its cash bail system; last year, New Jersey virtually eliminated the use of money bonds. 

    But what's taking the place of cash bail may prove even worse in the long run. In California, a presumption of detention will effectively replaceeligibility for immediate release when the new law takes effect in October 2019. And increasingly, computer algorithms are helping to determine who should be caged and who should be set "free." Freedom — even when it's granted, it turns out — isn't really free.

    Under new policies in California, New Jersey, New York and beyond, "risk assessment" algorithms recommend to judges whether a person who's been arrested should be released. These advanced mathematical models — or "weapons of math destruction" as data scientist Cathy O'Neil calls them — appear colorblind on the surface but they are based on factors that are not only highly correlated with race and class, but are also significantly influenced by pervasive bias in the criminal justice system.

    As O'Neil explains, "It's tempting to believe that computers will be neutral and objective, but algorithms are nothing more than opinions embedded in mathematics."

    Challenging these biased algorithms may be more difficult than challenging discrimination by the police, prosecutors and judges. Many algorithms are fiercely guarded corporate secrets. Those that are transparent — you can actually read the code — lack a public audit so it's impossible to know how much more often they fail for people of color.

    Even if you're lucky enough to be set "free" from a brick-and-mortar jail thanks to a computer algorithm, an expensive monitoring device likely will be shackled to your ankle — a GPS tracking device provided by a private company that may charge you around $300 per month, an involuntary leasing fee. Your permitted zones of movement may make it difficult or impossible to get or keep a job, attend school, care for your kids or visit family members. You're effectively sentenced to an open-air digital prison, one that may not extend beyond your house, your block or your neighborhood. One false step (or one malfunction of the GPS tracking device) will bring cops to your front door, your workplace, or wherever they find you and snatch you right back to jail.

    Who benefits from this? Private corporations. According to a report released last month by the Center for Media Justice, four large corporations — including the GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies — have most of the private contracts to provide electronic monitoring for people on parole in some 30 states, giving them a combined annual revenue of more than $200 million just for e-monitoring. Companies that earned millions on contracts to run or serve prisons have, in an era of prison restructuring, begun to shift their business model to add electronic surveillance and monitoring of the same population. Even if old-fashioned prisons fade away, the profit margins of these companies will widen so long as growing numbers of people find themselves subject to perpetual criminalization, surveillance, monitoring and control.

    Who loses? Nearly everyone. A recent analysis by a Brookings Institution fellow found that "efforts to reduce recidivism through intensive supervision are not working." Reducing the requirements and burdens of community supervision, so that people can more easily hold jobs, care for children and escape the stigma of criminality "would be a good first step toward breaking the vicious incarceration cycle," the report said.

    Many reformers rightly point out that an ankle bracelet is preferable to a prison cell. Yet I find it difficult to call this progress. As I see it, digital prisons are to mass incarceration what Jim Crow was to slavery.

    If you asked slaves if they would rather live with their families and raise their own children, albeit subject to "whites only signs," legal discrimination and Jim Crow segregation, they'd almost certainly say: I'll take Jim Crow. By the same token, if you ask prisoners whether they'd rather live with their families and raise their children, albeit with nearly constant digital surveillance and monitoring, they'd almost certainly say: I'll take the electronic monitor. I would too. But hopefully we can now see that Jim Crow was a less restrictive form of racial and social control, not a real alternative to racial caste systems. Similarly, if the goal is to end mass incarceration and mass criminalization, digital prisons are not an answer. They're just another way of posing the question.

    Some insist that e-carceration is "a step in the right direction." But where are we going with this? A growing number of scholars and activists predict that "e-gentrification" is where we're headed as entire communities become trapped in digital prisons that keep them locked out of neighborhoods where jobs and opportunity can be found.

    If that scenario sounds far-fetched, keep in mind that mass incarceration itself was unimaginable just 40 years ago and that it was born partly out of well-intentioned reforms — chief among them mandatory sentencing laws that liberal proponents predicted would reduce racial disparities in sentencing. While those laws may have looked good on paper, they were passed within a political climate that was overwhelmingly hostile and punitive toward poor people and people of color, resulting in a prison-building boom, an increase in racial and class disparities in sentencing, and a quintupling of the incarcerated population.

    Fortunately, a growing number of advocates are organizing to ensure that important reforms, such as ending cash bail, are not replaced with systems that view poor people and people of color as little more than commodities to be bought, sold, evaluated and managed for profit. In July, more than 100 civil rights, faith, labor, legal and data science groups released a shared statement of concerns regarding the use of pretrial risk assessment instruments; numerous bail reform groups, such as Chicago Community Bond Fund, actively oppose the expansion of e-carceration.

    If our goal is not a better system of mass criminalization, but instead the creation of safe, caring, thriving communities, then we ought to be heavily investing in quality schools, job creation, drug treatment and mental health care in the least advantaged communities rather than pouring billions into their high-tech management and control. Fifty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned that "when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered." We failed to heed his warning back then. Will we make a different choice today?

    My NYT Comment:

    It seems to me that "e-carceration" is nothing more than a more expensive form of bail—charging an involuntary leasing fee of $300.00 per month. My son was on an ankle bracelet for six months after an early release. He wasn't even allowed to go into the back yard, which was totally enclosed by a fence. So, in essence, he got no "yard time" while on the bracelet—something he would have gotten in jail. Plus he had to stick by the phone--even in the bathroom--to be sure he didn't miss the random phone calls to check up on him. And, it cost hundreds of dollars. If you did the crime and paid the time then you should be free and clear from that point on in order to lead a normal life. Let me make something clear. If someone is granted an early release, then, in my opinion, it is a confirmation that their sentence was too long to begin with! —Bonnie Weinstein




    7) In 'Loud and Clear' Rebuke of Factory Farming, California Passes World's 'Strongest Animal Welfare Law'

    By Jessica Corbett, November 8, 2018


    California voters this week passed Proposition 12, heralded by supporters as the world's strongest livestock protections. 

    In a clear rebuke of factory farming, California voters on Election Day passed the "ground-breaking" Proposition 12, which is being celebrated by some advocates as the world's "strongest animal welfare law for farmed animals in history."

    Backed by 61 percent of voters, Proposition 12 establishes "minimum space requirements based on square feet for calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens"—which includes chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl—and and bans the sale of veal, pork, and eggs from livestock from other states that are confined in spaces deemed too small under California's standards.

    The ballot measure—which builds on Proposition 2, passed by voters in 2008—has two rounds of new rules. By 2020, calves must have at least 43 square feet of usable floor space and hens at least 1 square foot. By 2022, breeding pigs and offspring must have at least 24 square feet of space and hens must be kept in indoor or outdoor cage-free housing systems based on the United Egg Producers' 2017 cage-free guidelines.

    "California voters have sent a loud and clear message that they reject cruel cage confinement in the meat and egg industries," declared Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. "Thanks to the dedication of thousands of volunteers and coalition partners who made this victory happen, millions of veal calves, mother pigs, and egg-laying hens will never know the misery of being locked in a tiny cage for the duration of their lives."

    "From voting at the ballot box to shopping at the supermarket," said ASPCA president and CEO Matt Bershadker, "consumers have played a significant role in demanding more humane food choices by rejecting cruel and unsafe methods still commonplace at industrial-style factory farms."

    "Democrats; Republicans; vegans; omnivores; and people of all ages, genders, and races banded together to pass the historic measure, sending a clear message: California voters believe animal cruelty is wrong," wrote Elizabeth Enoch in a blog post for Mercy for Animals. "As a movement, we clearly have incredible power to make progress for animals when we galvanize support from people of all walks of life."

    While supported by the majority of voters and a coalition of animal rights groups, not all activist organizations backed the ballot measure—particularly because of its provisions about egg-laying hens.

    Friends of Animals, which advocates for veganism, had called it a "scam" that "won't do anything to spare the lives of animals." PETA, which claims that "the only way to reduce chickens' suffering is to stop supporting the egg industry by simply not eating eggs," also came out against the measure, arguing it "still allows tens of thousands of hens to be crammed into giant warehouses and does nothing to prevent routine cruelty."

    As journalist Glenn Greenwald, a vocal advocate of animal rights, concluded, although the anticipated impact of the measure left activists divided, ultimately, its passage "clearly shows pro-animal-rights voter sentiment."

    California wasn't the only state to adopt new animal rights rules on Election Day. Florida's Amendment 13—which aims to phase out greyhound racing by 2020—also passed after receiving support from 69 percent of voters across the state. The Committee to Protect Dogs, which backed the ban, called it "a knock-out blow to a cruel industry that has been hurting and killing dogs for nearly a century."



    8)  Caravan Walks Quietly On, U.S. Opposition a Distant Rumble

    By Kirk Semple and Todd Heisler, November 9, 2018


    Ani Alvarado, center, sleeping with her family outside San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico.

    SAN PEDRO TAPANATEPEC, Mexico — The migrants, nearly asleep on their feet, waited in the predawn darkness for the trucks that would take them to the next stop in their long, unpredictable migration to the United States.

    Hundreds of them were clogging the streets around the central plaza of San Pedro Tapanatepec, where they had spent two torrid days and two sleepless nights. At about 3:45 a.m., the trucks, on loan to the Catholic Church, finally appeared.

    The crowd surged toward the hulking flatbeds, jostling with baby strollers and backpacks, the trucks' taillights casting a reddish glow on faces loaded with exhaustion and worry.

    Ani Alvarado, her two young sons trailing close behind like pilot fish, sliced nimbly through the crowd. But she was too late. The trucks were full.

    Lit by the taillights of a truck, Ms. Alvarado, center, and her sons, Christian Jared and Wilman Dubier, awaited a ride to their next destination.

    Thousands of migrants, part of a caravan from Honduras, walked toward San Pedro Tapanatepec.

    Ms. Alvarado, 29, and her sons, Christian Jared, 9, and Wilman Dubier, 5, turned to their traveling companions — her cousin Sindy Jiménez, 18, and Ms. Jiménez's 3-year-old son, Osmin Yadiel; and Ms. Jiménez's aunt, Hilda Rosa Banegas, 42, and her son, Elmer Jesús Mendoza Banegas, 16.

    Hoisting their knapsacks on their shoulders, the seven stepped into the stream of migrants and started walking north — a quiet procession that already stretched for miles into the dark Mexican countryside.

    The migrant caravan began on Oct. 12 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with several hundred participants and quickly grew by several thousand as it crossed the border into Guatemala and wound north into Mexico.

    It became the largest and most dramatic iteration of a yearslong tradition that had largely passed unnoticed: Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence in their homelands, traveling en masse toward the United States, the size of their groups providing security from the criminals who prey on migrants during the journey.

    The caravan, which arrived in Mexico City this week, captured the attention of President Trump soon after it began. During the run-up to the midterm elections, Mr. Trump used the caravan to fire up anti-immigrant sentiments and rally his base. He also used it to justify the deployment of thousands of troops at the southwest border.

    And on Thursday, the Trump administration enacted new rules giving the president authority to deny asylum to almost any migrant who crosses the border illegally — a significant overhaul of longstanding laws that have allowed people fleeing persecution to ask for sanctuary.

    Even from the early days of their trip, many migrants in the caravan knew Mr. Trump had cast them as an invading horde looking to game the system and steal jobs from United States citizens. But to many, his declarations have been little more than a distant rumble on the horizon, a problem for later.

    Driven by a deep faith rooted in Christianity, many have clung to a belief that everything would work out in the end, that Mr. Trump's heart would be touched and he would allow them into the United States to work.

    Even Ms. Alvarado subscribed to this hopeful philosophy.

    "Well, I can't think the opposite way," she shrugged.

    While most migrants in the caravan are young men, the group also includes many families with young children who have now been traveling for four weeks.

    Ms. Alvarado and her relatives left their home on the outskirts of Comayagua, a city in central Honduras, on Oct. 12. They came from a family of farm laborers who worked for abysmal wages in coffee plantations. Generations of residents from Comayagua had made the trek to the United States to find better-paying work, and the possibility was always forefront in the minds of those who remained behind.

    Ms. Alvarado, one of the few in her family who had managed to escape the coffee fields, had been working as an assistant in a government social development program, but barely getting by on a salary of $200 a month.

    In October, she heard on television about the caravan taking shape in San Pedro Sula and decided it was her best chance to make it to the United States' southern border. Within a couple of days, Ms. Alvarado had set off to join it. The other two women and their children went, too, viewing the caravan as their safest and least expensive opportunity to migrate.

    Each mother had a different destination in the United States in mind; the group's relationship with the country was already complex.

    Ms. Alvarado, who had spent a year living and working without immigration papers in New York and Ohio, hoped to reunite with the father of her son, Dubier, in Ohio. Ms. Jiménez planned to move in with her father in Ohio.

    Ms. Benegas, who had been working in the coffee fields since she was 7 and had seven children, said she had only one thing in mind: finding work, wherever. Her plan was to stay in the United States for a few years then return to Honduras. Two of her children were already married, and the rest, she said, had remained in Honduras with their father.

    In the few bags they carried, the group had packed only essentials, mostly clothes. They could not afford to carry anything of sentimental value.

    They, like most members of the caravan, were ill-prepared for walking. Ms. Jiménez was wearing pink plastic sandals. Ms. Banegas and her son wore flip-flops. Ms. Jiménez's 3-year-old had to be carried by the adults for much of the way.

    For sustenance, they relied on food donated by local governments, civic groups and well-meaning people. At night, they mostly bedded down on plastic sheeting and in public squares and parks along with the thousands of other members of the caravan.

    In San Pedro Tapanatepec, on the 16th day of the migration, the group laid out their plastic sheeting in the town's central plaza, in the shade cast by the Catholic church, then strolled down the hill to jump in a river. The children, stripped to their underwear, played in the water while the women washed clothes. Ms. Alvarado, still wearing her jeans, sunk into the river up to her hips and dipped her long dark hair in the water.

    Two mornings later, after a rest day, they were on the move once again, departing San Pedro Tapanatepec and bound for Santiago Niltepec, about 30 miles to the northwest. They said little as they walked, tired and hungry, through the darkened streets of Tapanatepec, moving past clumps of migrants resting on the shoulder of the road. From time to time, Ms. Alvarado and her group stopped, too, slumping to the ground to rest.

    The group did not plan to apply for asylum. Rather, like many other families in the caravan, their plan was to cross between official border entries and turn themselves into the United States Border Patrol. Since they were women traveling with children, they hoped they would be released quickly from detention and allowed to remain in the United States pending the outcome of their deportation case. It's a practice that has been widely used for years, but one that Mr. Trump is seeking to end.

    Ms. Banegas said she picked Elmer, who left school three years ago to work in the coffee fields, to travel with her to the United States because he was her oldest minor child.

    With him, "I might have a better chance of getting in," she said.

    The women had heard that the Trump administration policy of family separation had ended. Other migrants from their hometown had successfully crossed into the United States since then and had been released with their children.

    Still, nobody was sure what might actually happen.

    "The only fear is the fear of losing a child — along the entire trajectory," Ms. Alvarado said.

    But the matter of the border was in the future. For now, Ms. Alvarado's group was concentrating on getting through each day.

    "I'm focused on the journey, on survival on the road," Ms. Alvarado said.

    At a highway checkpoint, they joined hundreds of other migrants hoping to catch a ride. A car began to slow. Ms. Alvarado bolted forward and crammed in with her two sons. The other four, lagging behind, were shut out. For the first time since leaving Honduras, the group had split up.

    Ms. Jiménez, Ms. Banegas and their children started walking again. A stranger had given Ms. Jiménez an old stroller, and her son was soon fast asleep in it.

    After several miles, they came to a crossroads where several women were handing out water and tortillas slathered with black beans and cheese. At the invitation of another migrant, an acquaintance, Ms. Jiménez, Ms. Banegas and their children took a taxi to the next town, then leapt in another taxi, which carried them the rest of the way to the day's final destination, Santiago Niltepec.

    In Santiago Niltepec, the women tracked down Ms. Alvarado in a police barracks that had been converted into a shelter. She had staked out a patch of the concrete floor and laid out plastic sheeting for the group. Volunteers handed out secondhand clothing and food.

    Reflecting on the trip, Ms. Alvarado said it had been easier than she expected, even with all the walking. Strangers had eased their passage. She had no complaints.

    "I get used to whatever," she said. "I learned from life."



    9) Goodbye, Tampon Tax (at Least for Some)

    By Maya Salam, November 9, 2018


    — Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, author of the 2017 book "Periods Gone Public"

    Tampons and pads are necessary items that half the population must acquire a dozen times a year for about 40 years of their lives. They are not optional — a point that U.S. legislators are, evidently, beginning to recognize. 

    On Tuesday, Nevada joined nine states — including New York, Florida and Illinois — to eliminate the so-called tampon tax, freeing consumers of a 6.85 percent sales tax when they buy tampons and sanitary pads. Most hygiene items are taxed under state laws (deodorant and soap, for example), but, unlike these items, tampons are considered medically necessary.

    The outcome was a victory for proponents of "menstrual equity," a phrase created by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf and a movement that aims to eliminate the tampon tax and make menstrual products available to in-need populations: students and those in correctional facilities and those in shelters.

    Kenya was the first nation to stop taxing menstrual products, in 2004, in part because millions of Kenyan girls and women cannot afford these products. Canada dropped the tax in 2015, and Malaysia, India and Australia followed suit this year.

    In the United States, food and prescription medication are not taxed, because they are deemed "necessary." 

    And yet, as Ms. Weiss-Wolf — who works with lawmakers to introduce legislation and policies to support menstrual equity — questioned when I spoke to her by phone: Are items like Viagra, Pop-Tarts and Rogaine really "necessities"? 

    Leaders from some states, like Utah, have shot down efforts to eliminate the tampon tax on grounds that they don't want to pick and choose what is tax exempt. But Utah has granted this status to arcade-game tokens, for example, while other states have carved out exemptions for items such as cowboy boots (Texas), gun club memberships (Wisconsin) and chain saws (Idaho). 

    Women have come to accept that every aspect of our periods are "our own secret problem, and we are making other people uncomfortable if we raise it," Ms. Weiss-Wolf said. But the truth is, she continued, raising the issue of menstrual equity "hasn't made legislators very uncomfortable at all."



    10) Why Does California Have So Many Wildfires?

    By Kendra Pierre-Louis, November 9, 2018


    A house set alight by the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., on Thursday. The fast-spreading fire has been burning 80 acres per minute.

    A pregnant woman went into labor while being evacuated. Videos showed dozens of harrowing drives through fiery landscapes. Pleas appeared on social media seeking the whereabouts of loved ones. Survivors of a mass shooting were forced to flee approaching flames.

    This has been California since the Camp Fire broke out early Thursday morning, burning 80 acres per minute and devastating the northern town of Paradise. Later in the day, the Woolsey Fire broke out to the south in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, prompting the evacuation of all of Malibu.

    What is it about California that makes wildfires so catastrophic? There are four key ingredients.

    The first is California's climate.

    "Fire, in some ways, is a very simple thing," said Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "As long as stuff is dry enough and there's a spark, then that stuff will burn."

    California, like much of the West, gets most of its moisture in the fall and winter. Its vegetation then spends much of the summer slowly drying out because of a lack of rainfall and warmer temperatures. That vegetation then serves as kindling for fires.

    But while California's climate has always been fire prone, the link between climate change and bigger fires is inextricable. "Behind the scenes of all of this, you've got temperatures that are about two to three degrees Fahrenheit warmer now than they would've been without global warming," Dr. Williams said. That dries out vegetation even more, making it more likely to burn.

    California's fire record dates back to 1932; of the 10 largest fires since then, nine have occurred since 2000, five since 2010 and two this year alone, including the Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest in state history.

    "In pretty much every single way, a perfect recipe for fire is just kind of written in California," Dr. Williams said. "Nature creates the perfect conditions for fire, as long as people are there to start the fires. But then climate change, in a few different ways, seems to also load the dice toward more fire in the future."

    Even if the conditions are right for a wildfire, you still need something or someone to ignite it. Sometimes the trigger is nature, like a lightning strike, but more often than not humans are responsible.

    "Many of these large fires that you're seeing in Southern California and impacting the areas where people are living are human-caused," said Nina S. Oakley, an assistant research professor of atmospheric science at the Desert Research Institute.

    Deadly fires in and around Sonoma County last year were started by downed power lines. This year's Carr Fire, the state's sixth-largest on record, started when a truck blew out its tire and its rim scraped the pavement, sending out sparks.

    "California has a lot of people and a really long dry season," Dr. Williams said. "People are always creating possible sparks, and as the dry season wears on and stuff is drying out more and more, the chance that a spark comes off a person at the wrong time just goes up. And that's putting aside arson."

    There's another way people have contributed to wildfires: in their choices of where to live. People are increasingly moving into areas near forests, known as the urban-wildland interface, that are inclined to burn.

    "In Nevada, we have many, many large fires, but typically they're burning open spaces," Dr. Oakley said. "They're not burning through neighborhoods."

    It's counterintuitive, but the United States' history of suppressing wildfires has actually made present-day wildfires worse.

    "For the last century we fought fire, and we did pretty well at it across all of the Western United States," Dr. Williams said. "And every time we fought a fire successfully, that means that a bunch of stuff that would have burned didn't burn. And so over the last hundred years we've had an accumulation of plants in a lot of areas.

    "And so in a lot of California now when fires start, those fires are burning through places that have a lot more plants to burn than they would have if we had been allowing fires to burn for the last hundred years."

    In recent years, the United States Forest Service has been trying to rectify the previous practice through the use of prescribed or "controlled" burns.

    Each fall, strong gusts known as the Santa Ana winds bring dry air from the Great Basin area of the West into Southern California, said Fengpeng Sun, an assistant professor in the department of geosciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

    Dr. Sun is a co-author of a 2015 study that suggests that California has two distinct fire seasons. One, which runs from June through September and is driven by a combination of warmer and drier weather, is the Western fire season that most people think of. Those wildfires tend to be more inland, in higher-elevation forests.

    But Dr. Sun and his co-authors also identified a second fire season that runs from October through April and is driven by the Santa Ana winds. Those fires tend to spread three times faster and burn closer to urban areas, and they were responsible for 80 percent of the economic losses over two decades beginning in 1990.

    It's not just that the Santa Ana winds dry out vegetation; they also move embers around, spreading fires.

    If the fall rains, which usually begin in October, fail to arrive on time, as they did this year, the winds can make already dry conditions even drier. During an average October, Northern California can get more than two inches of rain, according to Derek Arndt, chief of the monitoring branch at the National Centers for Environmental Information, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This year, in some places, less than half that amount fell.

    "None of these are like, record-breaking, historically dry for October," Dr. Arndt said. "But they're all on the dry side of history."

    Kendra Pierre-Louis is a reporter on the climate team. Before joining The Times in 2017, she covered science and the environment for Popular Science. @kendrawrites



    11) Deployed Inside the United States: The Military Waits for the Migrant Caravan

    By Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Helene Cooper, November 10, 2018


    Soldiers relaxed in their tent at Base Camp Donna in Texas. Thousands of troops have been deployed to the border with Mexico. Photo by Tamir-Kalife.BASE CAMP DONNA, Tex. — Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Micek, a platoon sergeant with the 89th Military Police Brigade, tore open the brown packaging of his M.R.E. on Thursday.

    It was a chicken and noodle dish, one of the more sought-after rations because it came with Skittles. But from the cot outside his platoon's tent at the Army's latest forward operating base, Sergeant Micek could almost see the bright orange and white roof of Whataburger, a fast-food utopia eight miles away but off limits under current Army rules. The desert tan flatbed trucks at the base are for hauling concertina wire, not food runs.

    Such is life on the latest front where American soldiers are deployed. The midterm elections are over, along with President Trump's rafter-shaking rallies warning that an approaching migrant caravan of Central Americans amounts to a foreign "invasion" that warrants deploying up to 15,000 active-duty military troops to the border states of Texas, Arizona and California.

    But the 5,600 American troops who rushed to the brown, dry scrub along the southwest border are still going through the motions of an elaborate mission that appeared to be set into action by a commander in chief determined to get his supporters to the polls, and a Pentagon leadership unable to convince him of its perils.

    Instead of football with their families on this Veterans Day weekend, soldiers with the 19th Engineer Battalion, fresh from Fort Knox, Ky., were painstakingly webbing concertina wire on the banks of the Rio Grande, just beneath the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge.

    Nearby, troops from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State were making sure a sick call tent was properly set up next to their aid station. And a few miles away, Staff Sgt. Juan Mendoza was directing traffic as his engineer support company from Fort Bragg, N.C., unloaded military vehicles.

    Come Thanksgiving, they most likely will still be here.

    Two thousand miles away, at the Pentagon, officials privately derided the deployment as an expensive waste of time and resources, and a morale killer to boot.

    Leading up to the midterm vote on Tuesday, the military announced that the border mission would be called Operation Faithful Patriot. But Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Election Day told officials to drop the name, and the Pentagon sent out a terse news release a day later saying the operation was now simply to be known as border support. The term "faithful patriot," officials said, had political overtones.

    A final cost estimate of the deployment has not been made available. But Defense Department budget officials fret that if the number of troops sent to the border does reach 15,000, the price tag could hit $200 million, with no specific budget allocation from which to draw.

    The last time active-duty troops were sent to the border was in the 1980s, to help with counternarcotics missions. Since then, Mr. Trump's predecessors have relied on the National Guard, which arrived with considerably less fanfare than the convoys of vehicles and tent cities that have sprung up in recent days.

    The Defense Department's fiscal 2019 budget had already carved out funds for fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, continuing the endless war in Afghanistan and preparing for a potential conflict with a foreign nation, such as China, Russia, North Korea or Iran.

    There has been no money set aside to combat the men, women and children who are bound for the American border, many of them fleeing violence or corruption, nearly all seeking better lives. The troops are tasked with the same types of logistical, support and even clerical jobs that National Guard soldiers sent to the border earlier this year are already doing.

    The military's morale issue is almost as worrisome. The deployment orders last until Dec. 15, meaning the troops will be on the border over Thanksgiving. They will have little to do beyond providing logistical support, unless Mr. Trump declares martial law. The troops will not be enforcing United States immigration law — that would run afoul of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, unless a special exception is made.

    "When you give a soldier a real mission, you have less of a morale problem, even if it's Christmas or Thanksgiving," said Representative Anthony G. Brown, Democrat of Maryland and a former Army helicopter pilot who served in the Iraq war. "But when you send a soldier on a dubious mission, with no military value, over Thanksgiving, it doesn't help morale at all."

    The soldiers, by and large, shy away from talking about the political winds that sent them to the border.

    But in the last furious days before the midterm elections, photographs of a group of soldiers, clad in full military kit and flak jackets, were presented at Trump rallies and shown in the news media. Mr. Trump himself lauded the stringing up of "beautiful barbed wire" at a rally in Montana.

    Still, there is political theater and there is real life.

    Two days after the midterms, on Thursday, a platoon of Army engineers in Hidalgo, Tex., who were stretching bands of concertina wire on the American side of the Rio Grande had ditched the body armor. The decision to wear only their uniforms, canteens, gloves and helmets was simple: It was too hot to wear the armored vests, and the soldiers knew they didn't need them. And some had already suffered heat exhaustion, just days into their new mission.

    Roughly 15 miles away, some 500 troops — a medley of medical units, military police officers and engineers — were settled into a routine at Base Camp Donna. It was named after the adjoining Texas town, which Border Patrol agents believe is one of the most likely entry points into the United States for the migrant caravan, should it arrive.

    Wedged between a four-lane highway and the American-Mexican border wall, the base is reminiscent of those found in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s.

    As it was at the bases in those early war zones, electricity at Base Camp Donna is scarce except to power lights and communications gear. In the last several days, the soldiers installed a small shower tent. Men and women have set hours for bathing. Permitted shower length: seven minutes. 

    There is no mess hall, just the brown, prepackaged M.R.E.'s. Military police officers patrol the perimeter at night, armed with handguns. The tents sleep 20 soldiers and have no electricity or air-conditioning. Phone charging is relegated to a few generators that power the spotlights around the living area.

    Capt. Lauren Blanton, who oversees logistics for the base, is caught between monitoring the influx of equipment and troops and ensuring that her facility is livable, with enough amenities so the troops living there can call home.

    "I want to talk to my kid too," she said.

    The Army is setting up another outpost in an abandoned furniture store in nearby Weslaco and is eyeing a spot in Brownsville — all in an effort to shore up the entry points with, so far, hundreds of miles of concertina wire.

    Unlike in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, the troops do not receive extra combat pay. Nor is there hostile fire pay, since the troops will not be interacting with the migrants.

    Mr. Mattis, the defense secretary, has long argued against politicizing the military. For the entirety of his nearly two years at the Pentagon's helm, he has sought to shield the country's 1.2 million active-duty troops from the political forces that have plagued other agencies. In August, on a trip to Brazil, Mr. Mattis warned of the dangers of a military that is viewed as supporting one candidate or another.

    Putting troops at the border to protect against what Mr. Trump deemed a threat, in his rallying cry for the midterms, has put Mr. Mattis's views about politicizing the military on a collision course with the president. That clash comes as Mr. Mattis's relationship with Mr. Trump has deteriorated sharply over the last year.

    Last month, the president accused Mr. Mattis of being a Democrat. Mr. Trump has also chafed at what he perceives as the Defense Department's slow-walking of his many proposals, from holding a military parade to banning transgender troops to putting into place a Space Force.

    Officially, Pentagon leaders said their duty was to follow the orders of the commander in chief, not to tell him how he can deploy American troops.

    "It's not my role to make those assessments," the Army secretary, Mark T. Esper, said in an interview on Wednesday. "We all recognize that one of the many missions of the military is defense of the homeland and security of our borders."

    The border troops are just the latest example of the White House pushing a mission that the Pentagon has resisted.

    In late October, the Department of Homeland Security sent a memo to the Pentagon with a series of formal requests for support in handling immigrants at the southern border, including the caravan on its way from Central America, according to two senior administration officials.

    Among the requests, issued at the White House's behest, were that troops deployed to the border be armed, prepared for direct contact with the migrants and ready to operate under rules for the use of force to be set by the Defense Department.

    When Defense Department officials replied the same day, on Mr. Mattis's orders, they rejected those requests and referred the Department of Homeland Security to the White House, the officials said. The Defense Department viewed the requests as inappropriate and legally treacherous, potentially setting up soldiers for violent encounters with migrants.

    For Mr. Mattis, "you only get to fall on your sword once," said Paul Eaton, a retired major general and veteran of the Iraq war, who is now a senior adviser to VoteVets.Org, a progressive veterans advocacy group.

    "You pick your fight," Mr. Eaton said. "This was a case of, 'We will do this, but I will protect the U.S. military and ensure the rules of engagement are appropriate.'"

    Defense Department officials said the tasks by the troops at the border were the best compromise that Mr. Mattis could reach. The Pentagon agreed to other requests for help, including sending supplies, setting up tents and providing transportation as needed.

    "A wasteful deployment of overstretched Soldiers and Marines would be made much worse if they use force disproportional to the threat they face," tweeted Martin Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "They won't."

    Back at the border, near the Hidalgo bridge, two soldiers squeezed into the cab of an armored front-end loader, its engine idle.

    They had spent the morning jamming engineer stakes into the ground as pillars for the new fence. Now, the soldiers were enjoying the truck's air-conditioning, watching camera crews interviewing their colleagues, and spitting a steady stream of sunflower seeds out the open window.

    Hours later and 15 miles away, rain was in the forecast as night fell upon Base Camp Donna. Some soldiers slowly began digging a trench outside their tents, to keep water from pooling around their cots and their feet in the coming hours.

    Others shuffled to port-a-potties and foot-powered sinks to shave and brush their teeth. A new tranche of troops who arrived just hours earlier were unloading their bags, bringing them to their cots in a quiet march.

    Scott Shane contributed reporting from Washington, and Mitchell Ferman from McAllen, Tex.

    Thomas Gibbons-Neff is a reporter in the Washington bureau and a former Marine infantryman. @tmgneff

    Helene Cooper is a Pentagon correspondent. She was previously an editor, diplomatic correspondent and White House correspondent, and was part of the team awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, for its coverage of the Ebola epidemic. @helenecooper



    12) Runners Practiced in Sports Bras. Rowan University Told Them to Go Elsewhere.

    By Talya Minsberg, November 9, 2018


    Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey after scoring a game-winning World Cup penalty kick in 1999, creating controversy and an enduring sports image.

    It was 69 degrees when the Rowan cross-country teams arrived for practice at the Glassboro, N.J., university's track on Oct. 30. During the workout, several of the male runners removed their shirts. Some members of the women's team did the same, continuing the session in sports bras.

    On the field inside the track, the university's football team was holding its own daily practice. There had been tensions between the teams for years, said Gina Capone, a student and a former Rowan cross-country runner.

    "The football coach had a problem with the women running on the track," Capone said. "He said that it was distracting."

    The issue boiled over that day, after a football coach approached the cross-country coach, Derick Adamson, to restate his concerns. Then in a private meeting three days later, according to a university spokesman, Rowan's athletic department informed Adamson that the men's and women's cross-country teams would now hold their practices across the street from campus, on the track at Glassboro High School.

    To the female cross-country runners, who had sat silently outside the Nov. 2 meeting, the decision was infuriating but not surprising.

    "We were angry, but we knew it was coming; the football team gets what they want," one senior member of the women's cross-country and track teams said. The runner requested anonymity, fearing repercussions for herself and her teams, which share several members and often train together.

    The prioritization of football teams over other sports is not uncommon at N.C.A.A. institutions, and members of the cross-country team at Rowan, where athletes compete in the N.C.A.A.'s Division III, say their university is no exception. The runner who requested anonymity and several other team members said that they did not have locker rooms near the track where they train and that they sometimes had to provide their own transportation to meets.

    Rowan's football coach, Jay Accorsi, did not respond to requests for comment, and the athletic department staff referred questions about the practice arrangement to the university's communications department. An official there disputed the notion that the runners had been forced away from the track, saying the athletic department was merely enforcing a longstanding policy that only one team can use a facility at a time.

    According to Joe Cardona, the vice president for university relations at Rowan, that means the football team gets the field — and by extension the track that surrounds it inside Rowan's stadium — when it holds practice. Cardona said the cross-country and track teams had declined an offer to use the track at a different time of the day.

    "In the fall," he said, "the track and field folks don't want to wait until after football practice in order to have their practice on the track."

    Capone, the former Rowan runner, said the frustration her ex-teammates were feeling had prompted her to publish an article about the dispute Thursday on the self-publication platform Odyssey.

    In it, she quoted a current team member who said the issue was not one of scheduling, but of football coaches who did not want their players distracted by women training in sports bras nearby.

    "As girls, we could look at the football team and say that their tight pants showing off everything is asking for it, but we don't," Capone wrote, quoting a current member of the cross-country team. "When we are on the track, we are doing a hard workout that requires all our focus, so we aren't looking at them and what they are doing.

    "If they are distracted by us, then their practices clearly don't require their full attention, or they just aren't as committed to the sport."

    Adamson, the cross-country coach, did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

    But as Capone's article drew attention to this dispute, Rowan distributed multiple statements related to the controversy through its social media channels, including one regarding the one-team-per-facility practice policy and another, signed by the university's president, Ali A. Houshmand, in which he responded to Capone's article directly, saying it raised "questions about the possibility of an inequitable protocol for women's athletic apparel."

    "Rowan's Athletic Department has had a longstanding verbal protocol that all athletes must wear shirts, even during practices," Houshmand's statement said.

    "Having practiced all season in 'sports bra' tops," he added, "many interpreted this as a new policy."

    To be clear: Sports bras are perhaps one of the more important athletic inventions in the history of women's sports. The first one was created in 1977, when three women sewed two jockstraps together to create a prototype. (They were granted a patent two years later.)

    In the years since, sports bras have been integral parts of some of the most memorable events in sports: Brandi Chastain tore off her shirt to reveal one after scoring the winning goal in the 1999 World Cup finals; Paula Radcliffe ran in one when she set a world record in the marathon in 2003; and Kerri Walsh Jennings played in them for more than a decade, winning three Olympic gold medals and becoming one of the most celebrated beach volleyball players in the world.

    Houshmand's statement said confusion on whether sports bras were appropriate practice attire at Rowan would be codified in a new written policy that would explicitly allow female athletes to wear sports-bra tops without shirts during practice.

    "In the new formal policy, there will be no restriction of sports bras without shirts as practice apparel," Houshmand said.

    Hannah Vendetta, a second-year transfer student and cross-country runner at Rowan, said she appreciated the statement, which was posted online less than 24 hours after Capone's article was published.

    "But there's still an issue at hand," Vendetta said, "and it's the fact that we aren't able to practice on the track."





























































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