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



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




Defend Prisoners at Lieber Correctional in South Carolina!

Prisoners at Lieber Correctional Institution in South Carolina are demanding recognition of their human rights by the South Carolina Department of Corrections and warden Randall Williams.  Prisoners are also demanding an end to the horrific conditions they are forced to exist under at Lieber, which are exascerbating already rising tensions to a tipping point and people are dying. 

Since the tragedy that occured at Lee Correctional earlier this year, prisoners at all level 3 security prisons in SC have been on complete lockdown, forced to stay in their two-man 9x11 cells 24 hours a day (supposed to be 23 hrs/day but guards rarely let prisoners go to their one hour of rec in a slightly larger cage because it requires too much work, especially when you keep an entire prison on lockdown) without any programming whatsoever and filthy air rushing in all day, no chairs, tables, no radios, no television, no access to legal work, no access to showers, and no light!  Administration decided to cover all the tiny windows in the cells with metal plates on the outside so that no light can come in.  Thousands of people are existing in this manner, enclosed in a tiny space with another person and no materials or communication or anything to pass the time.  

Because of these horific conditions tensions are rising and people are dying. Another violent death took place at Lieber Correctional; Derrick Furtick, 31, died at approximately 9pm Monday, according to state Department of Corrections officials:

Prisoners assert that this death is a result of the kind of conditions that are being imposed and inflicted upon the incarcerated population there and the undue trauma, anxiety, and tensions these conditions create.  

We demand:

- to be let off solitary confinement

- to have our windows uncovered

- access to books, magazines, phone calls, showers and recreation

- access to the law library and our legal cases

- single person cells for any person serving over 20 years

Lieber is known for its horrendous treatment of the people it cages including its failure to evacuate prisoners during Hurricane Florence earlier this year:

Please flood the phone lines of both the governor's and warden's offices to help amplify these demands from behind bars at Lieber Correctional.

Warden Randall Williams:  (843) 875-3332   or   (803) 896-3700

Governor Henry McMaster's office:  (803) 734-2100


Read in browser »


Recent Articles:

Status Update from Comrade Malik! 11-08-18

Comrade Malik speaks on the Pittsburgh massacre and anti-fascism

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

PHONEZAP MONDAY: Ohio strikers attacked with mace

The Anatomy of Abusive Prison Guards

Get Involved

Support IWOC by connecting with the closest localsubscribing to the newsletter or making a donation.



Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg

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.



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) Deployed Inside the United States: The Military Waits for the Migrant CaravanBy Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Helene Cooper, November 10, 2018https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/10/us/deployed-inside-the-united-states-the-military-waits-for-the-migrant-caravan.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    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,


    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



    2) 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."



    3) 'Paradise Is Gone': California Fires Devastate Communities

    By Kirk Johnson and Jose A. Del Real, November 10, 2018


    A pickup truck in a driveway in Paradise. Fires melted the plastic exteriors of cars and trucks and charred their frames.

    PARADISE, Calif. — Rex Stewart was broke when he landed in Paradise, Calif., more than 40 years ago. But he found work as a carpenter, helping build parts of this mostly modest town of retirees and commuters tucked away in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

    On Saturday, after escaping what is now the most destructive and one of the deadliest fires in California history, he stood outside an evacuation shelter with no more to his name than the coat he had on and a winter cap with a peace symbol on it.

    "Paradise is gone," Mr. Stewart, 66, said, pulling on a cigarette. "There's nothing to go back to."

    Fires continue to rage on both ends of California, spreading with breakneck speed and displacing hundreds of thousands of people in a state where a once-seasonal worry has become a near-constant terror. At least 23 are dead in the so-called Camp Fire, about 100 miles north of Sacramento, and two others have died in fires near Los Angeles.

    With the discovery of 14 more bodies on Saturday, the Camp Fire surpassed the death toll in last year's Tubbs Fire, which killed 22 people and was the third-deadliest fire in the state's history until now. The deadliest, the Griffith Park fire in 1933, killed 29 people.

    Many people in the area affected by the Camp Fire remained unaccounted for, and Sheriff Kory L. Honea of Butte County said on Saturday night that officials were expanding the team of people tasked with searching for bodies.

    Wildfires are fickle pillagers, pivoting to spare one thing and destroy another, twisted by wind and the fuels they feed on. Fire prevention authorities routinely drum the words "perimeter defense" into residents' minds in this part of California. Keep trees trimmed and burnable things far from home, and fire's danger diminishes.

    But the fires that erupted this week did not follow those rules. And Paradise, in Butte County just east of the city of Chico, bore the brunt of the devastation. In what fire officials said was an unstoppable storm-front fire, beginning early Thursday morning, the Camp Fire has exploded across 105,000 acres and destroyed more than 6,700 homes and commercial buildings.

    Paradise, home to about 26,000 people, was shrouded in smoke on Saturday. Flames still licked downed power poles, and ghostly chimneys jutted up from charred concrete foundations. Evidence of the chaos of escape lined the road out of town, in the charred frames of cars and trucks that were abandoned midescape. Some cars had crashed into one another as flames roared on both sides of the road. At least seven people died in their vehicles, overcome by the inferno, authorities said.

    Jackie Gayle, 73, was riding down out of Paradise as vehicles were burning.

    "There was a motor home on fire and we had to sit there by it until we were waved on to go," she said. "You could feel that heat coming through the glass."

    At Adventist Health Feather River hospital, which Mr. Stewart said he had helped build, a helicopter pad was filled with the remainders of an evacuation this week. Wheelchairs and beds, lab equipment and saline bags still hanging on their hooks sat jammed on the concrete pad, which was surrounded by a moat of rocks to keep the flames at bay. Portions of the hospital escaped destruction and became a shelter for some people who huddled in a basement as the fire came through.

    The Camp Fire is not over. Only 20 percent contained, it still threatens other communities, including the edges of Chico, the biggest city in Butte County and the evacuation destination for many Paradise residents, like Mr. Stewart.

    For James Betts, another Paradise resident, the miracle of escape has given way to the losses he knows he will face back home. Mr. Betts, a 33-year-old groundskeeper at a tree nursery, had tried to get out on foot on the morning of the fire. He does not own a car, and none of the seven people with him, including a nephew and his pregnant girlfriend, did either.

    A man in a pickup truck, known to none of them — Mr. Betts never even learned his name — pulled up and shouted for them to climb into the bed of the truck. And so they all made it.

    "It's kind of hard when you don't have a town to go back to," Mr. Betts said. "When you've been raised in the mountains your whole life, it's always your retreat."

    A spokesman for the Camp Fire command said that winds, which died down on Saturday, were expected to pick back up Saturday night into Sunday.

    President Trump weighed in on the fires on Saturday, saying he would withhold federal funds from the state.

    "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," Mr. Trump said on Twitter. "Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"

    The comments drew outrage from local leaders and firefighters' organizations.

    "At this moment, thousands of our brother and sister firefighters are putting their lives on the line to protect the lives and property of thousands," said Brian Rice, the president of the California Professional Firefighters, which represents more than 30,000 firefighters and paramedics. "Some of them are doing so even as their own homes lay in ruins."

    Nearly 60 percent of California's 33 million acres of forestland are owned by the federal government, according to a 2018 report by the California Legislative Analyst's Office. An additional 25 percent of the state's forests are privately owned, and about 14 percent are owned by industrial owners like timber companies. State and local governments own just 3 percent of the state's forests.

    One of two major fires in Southern California, called the Woolsey, has also surged to about 83,000 acres, forcing the evacuation of about 250,000 people, according to state officials. It was 5 percent contained as of Saturday night. Fire crews in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties were fighting on steep, hilly terrain that made controlling the blaze difficult.

    "Our firefighters have been experiencing some extreme, tough fire conditions that they said they've never seen in their life," said Daryl Osby, the chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. "We just ended the hottest summer on record. We have fuels that are in critical drought state right now. This is the sixth year of seven years of drought in this region."

    Mr. Osby said that winds were expected to pick up on Sunday and last through Tuesday, further complicating firefighting efforts in the region, and that they currently had no timeline for lifting evacuation orders or opening Highway 101, one of the region's major thruways.

    Scott StJohn, 42, an entrepreneur and fitness company owner, was evacuated from his home in Malibu on Friday morning with his family, believing that "there was no way the fire was going to reach all the way down to the beach."

    Ash from the fire and heavy winds rained down on the family's car as they drove up the Pacific Coast Highway. The situation sank in when they looked behind them as they drove. All they could see, Mr. StJohn said, was "a blaze of orange."

    "What are we going to do?" he added. "We're seeing posts and videos and literally the community is torched. Even if the house is still there, the community itself is in ashes. I don't even know what it will be like if the house is still there."

    The hardest thing for them, Mr. StJohn said, was going to be bringing some kind of normalcy back for their children. "They don't have school, they don't have any of their clothes," he said. "All we grabbed was our passports."

    At East Avenue Church in Chico, 200 people made temporary homes in church classrooms, in a gym filled with cots, air mattresses and couches, and in tents set up in a field on the property. As one of the few shelters in the area accepting pets, it was also teeming with displaced dogs.

    Pastor Ron Zimmer recalled receiving guests shortly after the fire broke out, with many arriving in vehicles that bore the marks of the flames.

    "We started getting cars where all the plastic in the outside was melted and the bumpers were gone," Mr. Zimmer said. "Everybody came down and told horrific stories. We haven't talked to a lot of people who think they have homes left."

    Kirk Johnson reported from Paradise, Calif., and Jose A. Del Real from Los Angeles. Scott Bransford contributed reporting from Chico, Calif. Julia Jacobs contributed reporting from New York.



    4) Why I Dread Returning to an American Public School

    By Firoozeh Dumas, November 10, 2018


    After almost six years in Munich, my family and I will soon be returning to California, and there are a few things I already know I will miss. I am not talking about the obvious (fresh pretzels, fresh pretzels with cheese, fresh pretzels with cheese and pumpkin seeds, no potholes, universal health care) but the less known differences that come with spending time in schools.

    We are fortunate to live in a part of Munich with top-notch public schools, similar to where we lived in America. We pay a few percentage points more in taxes than we paid in California, but holy Betsy DeVos, do we get more!

    Our daughter's elementary school, which she graduated from a few years ago, offered a rich curriculum, from math and sciences to arts and languages. After school, in addition to the more traditional offerings of chess, theater and computers, she could take circus lessons, where children learned to juggle, walk on a tightrope and ride a unicycle. Since her school did not have a pool, students were bused every week to a nearby sports club for swim lessons, at no extra charge.

    The school also offered a weeklong enrichment program that varied year to year. One year, students spent five days visiting sports clubs, each day being introduced by experts to sports such as fencing, ice hockey and volleyball. Once a real circus came to her school for a week and trained the students, who then put on a performance. We did have to contribute $25 per student for that, since constructing an actual circus tent was costly.

    We have also paid for extras like trips to museums (about $4 each) and $250 for a weeklong class trip to Austria intended to foster independence (a highlight was that each child did a short walk alone at night in a field), but that's it. On the few occasions when the school organized fund-raising efforts, the recipients were in other countries.

    Based on their academic performance in fourth grade, children in Germany are divided into three tracks. I do not agree with this system but high-performing children benefit greatly. The top track qualifies for "gymnasium," the most advanced secondary school, with a curriculum that prepares students for higher education. The gleaming facilities of our daughter's gymnasium, complete with sports halls, music rooms and a library housing ancient books, rivals those of any top university. Did I mention that higher education is free?

    The schools I attended growing up in California were nothing like this. I was in middle school when Proposition 13, a law meant to ease residents' tax burden, passed in 1978. The impact on the state's school budgets was immediate. I still remember art, music and language programs being gutted seemingly overnight, and counselors and librarians disappearing. As a parent, I assumed that for schools to get what they needed, we would have to pay significantly more in taxes, and who wants that? Parents are expected to donate time and money to make up for what the government can't provide. In addition to raising funds for our own schools, I and many others raised money for schools in areas with fewer resources. It was the little Dutch boy and the dike, but for every hole we plugged, a dozen more appeared.

    And in Munich, in addition to well-funded schools, life comes with reliablepublic transportation. Our morning school commute consists of waving our child out the door as she walks to the nearby tram. It took me years to get used to the sight of tiny children with huge backpacks sitting by themselves on the train. 

    Now that I have lived in a society with a much better alternative, I realize that the idea of a city where children can practice independence from an early age requires a social contract: A certain number of people have to participate in order to achieve success. I don't know if we can replicate this independence in America, not just because of the lack of transit in most places but also because of the anxiety intertwined with the idea of a child going anywhere alone.

    The system here in Munich has also left me with more time, not to mention dignity. Have I had to accompany my child door to door to sell overpriced wrapping paper to save a school program? Thank the good Lord, no. Have I had to cringe and repeatedly ask family and friends to sponsor walkathons, danceathons, readathons or carwashathons? No. People are no longer avoiding my phone calls. (Note to friends in America: Those phone calls will start again. Please answer. Also, do you need any wrapping paper?)

    As I prepare to return to California, I am looking forward to seeing my family and reuniting with dear friends, many of whom I met while chaperoning, organizing auctions, selling cupcakes, supervising the playground and doing lice checks. I will undoubtedly take part in fund-raising for my child's new school, but please forgive me if my homemade cupcakes taste like resentment frosted with betrayal and sprinkled with exasperation. Unfortunately, I've now enjoyed a system where for a little more in taxes, I get a lot more in services. And that leaves a bitter aftertaste.

    Firoozeh Dumas is the author of "Funny in Farsi" and "It Ain't So Awful, Falafel."



    5) Britain's Equal Pay Day Highlights Gender Gap

    By Palko Karasz, November 10, 2018


    In January the China editor of the BBC, Carrie Gracie, quit her job to protest unequal wages and donated backdated pay she received from the organization to a legal fund for low-income women.

    "I'm out of office until 2019."

    The automated email replies from working women were part of a campaign to mark Equal Pay Day in Britain on Saturday and to draw attention to the country's gender pay gap. 

    The Fawcett Society, a group that campaigns for gender equality and women's rights, set Nov. 10 as the date in Britain when women begin working effectively "for free" when compared to men, based on the disparity in pay annually. 

    There are many ways of looking at wage discrimination. But widely used definitions of the gender pay gap use the difference in median or average pay between men and women in full-time jobs in terms of gross salary without overtime. 

    In Britain, the gap was 13.7 percent this year. Put another way, women earn on average 86.3 percent of what men do for the same work.

    In the United States, Equal Pay Day fell on April 10 to mark how far into the year women had to work to match the previous year's wages of male counterparts. 

    The European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, observes Equal Pay Day based on the average gap across the bloc. Based on 2016 figures, that difference was 16 percent.

    It is illegal in most industrialized nations to pay women less than men for the same job, but men continue to earn significantly higher median salaries. A 2016 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the gender pay gap was 13.9 percent in member nations.

    If nothing is done, research in Britain has shown it could take nearly a century to bridge the gap at the current rate of change.

    "This Equal Pay Day we are asking you to talk about pay at work," said Sam Smethers, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society. The group has started a fund to provide legal advice for low-paid women.

    Fawcett Society also launched a social media campaign encouraging women and men to show their solidarity by sharing photos with equal signs drawn on their hands or paper to call for change. Dozens shared their photos and calls to action.

    In France, the minister in charge of gender equality, Marlène Schiappa, sent out a tweet with the hashtag used by campaigners on the day to announce a plan to combat wage inequality in the next three years on France's Equal Pay Day, Nov. 6.

    "The fight for equal pay often pits a lone woman against a very powerful employer," said Carrie Gracie, who quit her job as China editor of the BBCin January to protest unequal wages and donated backdated pay she received from the organization to the legal fund.

    Dominique Meurs, an economist at Paris Nanterre University who specializes in gender inequalities in the workplace, said large corporations have become "very sensitive" to the issue even though the gap in France had not closed significantly since the 1990s

    "It has become an integral part of their corporate social strategy," she said. 

    "The inequalities that are easy to eliminate have been eliminated," Ms. Meurs said. But to resolve the pay gap, companies will have to look beyond that figure at career evolution. 

    In Britain, the pay gap is the lowest since records began in 1997. The the gap in average pay was 20.7 percent then. 

    recent European Commission opinion poll found that attitudes are shifting: Most people in the European Union believe it is unacceptable for women to be paid less than men. But many don't know that equal pay is guaranteed by law. Equal pay legislation exists in all European Union member state. 

    Many men and women also assume that they are paid equally, according to Allyson Zimmermann, the executive director of Catalyst Europe, a nonprofit consulting and research organization. 

    "What it's highlighting year after year is that progress is incredibly slow, and it's highlighting the need for change," Ms. Zimmermann said. 

    "It opens a much wider discussion of what is happening — it goes even beyond the pay, it goes to inequity and it shows talent not being valued," she said.

    Elian Peltier contributed reporting from Paris.



    6) They Were Stopped at the Texas Border. Their Nightmare Had Only Just Begun.

    By Manny Fernandez, Photos by Caitlin O'Hara, November 12, 2018


    M.G. showing the scars on her wrists.

    MCALLEN, Tex. — The Border Patrol agent, she remembers, was calm when he tied her to the tree and put silver duct tape over her mouth. He said very little.

    She was a 14-year-old undocumented immigrant who had just crossed the Rio Grande, traveling with a teenage friend and the friend's mother from Honduras. They had hoped to surrender to the Border Patrol and stay in the United States.

    But instead of taking them in for processing, the agent, Esteban Manzanares, had driven them to an isolated, wooded area 16 miles outside the border city of McAllen, Tex. There he sexually assaulted the friend and viciously attacked her and her mother, twisting their necks, slashing their wrists and leaving them, finally, to bleed in the brush. Then he led the 14-year-old girl to the tree.

    "I only asked him why he was doing this," she recalled. "Why me? He would only say that he had been thinking about it for days. He had been thinking about this for days."

    The Border Patrol's parent agency, Customs and Border Protection, is the largest law enforcement agency in the country, with nearly twice the staff of the F.B.I. Through the years, a small number of officers have succumbed to temptation and reached for a share of the millions of dollars generated in the smuggling of drugs, weapons and people across the southwest border. But a civil suit stemming from the March 2014 attack near McAllen, now making its way through the courts, is shedding light on a more sinister kind of corruption. Over the past four years, at least 10 people in South Texas have been victims of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping or rape — all, according to prosecutors and officials, at the hands of Border Patrol agents who suddenly and violently snapped.

    In April, Ronald Anthony Burgos Aviles, 29, an agent in the sprawling 116-county Laredo sector, was charged with stabbing and killing his girlfriend and their 1-year-old son. Then, in September, another Laredo sector agent, Juan David Ortiz, 35, admitted to investigators that he went on a 12-day killing spree, fatally shooting four people working as prostitutes and trying to abduct a fifth.

    As a result of a civil suit filed by the three women attacked by Mr. Manzanares, the Border Patrol has been forced to answer questions about its hiring practices, its ability to weed out disturbed agents, and whether there is adequate supervision of officers.

    Sworn testimony and other documents filed in that case, as well as lengthy interviews the three women gave to The New York Times, provide an unusual window into a case that otherwise might have had little scrutiny. Mr. Manzanares never went to trial, because he fatally shot himself as soon as federal investigators discovered his crime and closed in to stop him.

    The case goes beyond any one Border Patrol administration: President Trump has given the agency substantial reinforcements and a wider mission, but the attack on the Honduran women occurred during President Barack Obama's presidency. Critics say the very nature of Border Patrol agents' work — dealing with vulnerable, powerless people, often alone on the nation's little-traveled frontiers — makes it easy for troubled agents to go unnoticed.

    In September, Judge Randy Crane of the Federal District Court in McAllen, Tex., dismissed claims of negligent hiring and supervision of Mr. Manzanares filed by the two women who were the victims of his initial attack. The judge concluded that supervisors had not been alerted to any problem in the agent's background and had no reason to know that anything was amiss. But he allowed claims filed by the 14-year-old girl, now 18, whose ordeal had gone on well into the night — and might have been prevented if Mr. Manzanares's actions had been detected earlier — to proceed. 

    The case will drag out for months, however. Judge Crane suggested recently that he was prepared to allow appeals of some of his previous rulings to proceed before the case goes to trial.

    Lawyers for the three women presented evidence that Mr. Manzanares's supervisors failed to notice or intervene when the agent ignored his duties for hours, and failed to thoroughly inspect his truck when he returned at the end of his shift. If they had, the evidence showed, they would have seen it contained used duct tape, blood and discarded restraints.

    Mr. Manzanares, a father of two, had no major disciplinary infractions during his six years with the agency, which he joined in 2008 after serving with the United States Army in Afghanistan and working as a jailer for the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department. But according to court documents, he appeared to have become a pedophile, and one of the issues in the lawsuit has been whether the Border Patrol should have conducted the kind of employee reviews that would have brought that to light.

    In late 2013 and early 2014, he was in the midst of a divorce, living in an apartment in the border city of Mission with his two dogs. Even among his neighbors — more than two dozen of his Border Patrol colleagues lived in the same gated complex — Mr. Manzanares largely kept to himself.

    His rampage that day might never have been discovered had the older woman left for dead after the initial attack not come across a Customs and Border Protection officer as she emerged from the brush.

    She was still bleeding, and clearly terrified.

    The man who did this to her and her daughter, she told the officer, was "dressed just like you."

    The woman, M.G., still has trouble sleeping. (All three women, interviewed in January, asked to be identified only by their initials.) When she dreams, the border agent returns to her in her nightmares. When she wakes, she stares and rubs at the scars on both of her wrists, not so much neat slices as pale, jagged, random dashes. "Last night, I dreamed all of it, from the moment that we crossed the river," she said. "Every time I dream it, I live through it again. Sometimes I'd like to block my mind and think this didn't happen, but this did happen."

    It had been a coincidence that the three women had crossed the river together.

    All three were from the same small town in northern Honduras and were neighbors and friends. J.E., the girl who had been tied to the tree, had been trying to join her parents, who were already in the United States. M.G. and her daughter were on their own journey to America. The three of them stayed at the same hotel in Guatemala and decided to travel the rest of the way together.

    They crossed the Rio Grande on a raft early that morning as their smuggler directed it to the other side. They had been on a dirt road for only a matter of minutes when Mr. Manzanares pulled up in his Border Patrol vehicle.

    "When I saw him, I said, 'Thank God,'" M.G. said.

    But they slowly began to worry as they sat on metal benches in the back of the truck. M.G. thought there was something strange about the way the man was breathing. At first, she tried not to show her fear to the girls.

    "I pretended," she said. "I tried to be strong."

    When her husband had come to the United States, he had been lost in the desert for three days. "He told me that the only thing that he did was to pray Psalm 91 many times, and he told me that's how God had saved him and protected him," she said. So the three of them prayed Psalm 91 as Mr. Manzanares drove.

    Surely he will save you

    from the fowler's snare

    and from the deadly pestilence.

    He will cover you with his feathers.

    "We prayed it many times, many times, many times," M.G. said.

    Mr. Manzanares made a series of stops with them. J.E. recalled that he told them to get on their knees so he could put plastic restraints on their wrists. On one of the last stops, M.G.'s daughter, N.C., watched Mr. Manzanares force her mother out of the back of the truck and lead her into the woods.

    "I was crying, telling him to leave my mom alone," said N.C., who is now 18.

    M.G., now 40, recalled hearing her daughter's screams as he led her away. "I was begging him to kill me but not kill my daughter, and my daughter was screaming there where she was, 'Come kill me, don't harm my mother.'"

    He threw M.G. down, twisted her neck and cut her wrists. "I felt I was losing consciousness, but every time my daughter screamed, I didn't want to go," she said.

    He returned to the truck for N.C. She said she had only one thing on her mind: "I was only thinking about finding my mother." Mr. Manzanares took N.C. out into the woods, twisted her neck, molested her, took pictures of her, cut her wrist and then covered her with dirt and brush, as she pretended to be dead.

    He went back to the vehicle again and drove J.E. to a stand of trees at the edge of a field. She said she steeled herself, in part, by keeping her mind blank, "as if nothing were happening."

    It is unclear how many hours she was handcuffed to the tree. According to interviews with the victims and court documents, Mr. Manzanares left his Border Patrol station at the end of his shift at a few minutes before 6 p.m. He changed out of his uniform into a shirt and sweatpants and then returned to the field in his own pickup. He took J.E. from the tree and drove her to his apartment. J.E. recalled that she still had duct tape over her mouth when he carried her over his shoulder to the apartment, and that she made eye contact with a woman standing in the complex.

    "She didn't do anything," J.E. said. "Why didn't she do anything?"

    Inside his apartment, Mr. Manzanares used shoelaces to tie her hands and feet to the bed. Then he took pictures of her, naked, with his phone.

    "He behaved like he had done it before," she said. He began talking about things that did not make sense, telling her a drug cartel was coming to kill her. She did not believe him, but "in that moment, it felt like my life was over."

    She asked him one thing: If he had any daughters, would he like it "if someone did the same thing that he was doing to me, to them."

    He sexually assaulted her three times that night, while she remained tied to a bunk bed in a bedroom. F.B.I. agents and Mission police officers, meanwhile, having identified the agent based in part on M.G.'s report, were closing in.

    It was shortly before 1 a.m. and J.E. was trying to fall asleep when she heard loud knocking on the apartment door. Then she heard a single gunshot. Officers eventually forced open the door, untied her and kept her wrapped in a blanket as they put her in an ambulance.

    Mr. Manzanares had shot and killed himself with a .40-caliber pistol while seated at his dining room table. On the table, officers found a two-page suicide note. "I am sorry for what I have done," he wrote, explaining that he had been troubled since coming back from Afghanistan. "I am a monster."

    The three women now live far from the South Texas border, in southwestern Virginia. All three were granted permission to remain in the United States on so-called U visas, issued to victims of sexual assault and other violent crimes.

    Officials with Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that they cannot comment on the pending lawsuit, but that they take allegations of misconduct seriously. "C.B.P. has a work force of dedicated men and women who are among the finest civil servants in the world, who carry out their duties with the utmost professionalism, efficiency, honor and distinction," the statement read. "C.B.P. acts decisively and appropriately to address any misconduct."

    But agency officials revealed in their response to the women's lawsuit that they had no procedure in place for supervising agents in the field. No policy, they noted, required supervisors to make verbal or physical contact with agents during a shift.

    Mr. Manzanares had so much autonomy that day that he even briefly drove his victims into and out of his Border Patrol station in McAllen, but no one questioned his actions.

    Sensors set up in the borderlands alert Border Patrol to suspicious activity and movements in the brush, and though Mr. Manzanares failed to respond to the majority of sensor activity in his zone that day, none of his superiors took any steps to find out why.

    Government officials defended the criminal background checks performed on Mr. Manzanares. In court documents, they said that two background investigations — one in 2007 before he officially started working as an agent, and another during his employment in 2013 — turned up nothing.

    Today, all Border Patrol applicants who pass background checks are required to also take a polygraph test, but Mr. Manzanares never took one, because the requirement did not apply to employees hired before 2012. One Customs and Border Protection official testified that if Mr. Manzanares had been given a polygraph exam, it probably would have revealed that he appeared to be a pedophile.

    Now, the agency is likely to face similar questions about Mr. Ortiz in Laredo. The authorities are continuing to examine whether any government equipment and weapons were used in the assaults he is accused of, and whether his supervisors were aware of any unusual behavior.

    "These individuals who are supposed to be protectors were predators, both of them," Christine Poarch, a lawyer who represents Mr. Manzanares's three victims, said of the Ortiz and Manzanares cases. "They preyed on vulnerable populations."

    Mitchell Ferman contributed reporting from McAllen, Tex.

    Manny Fernandez is the Houston bureau chief, covering Texas and Oklahoma. He joined The Times as a Metro reporter in 2005, covering the Bronx and housing. He previously worked for The Washington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle. @mannyNYT



    7)  He Befriended 4,000 Dogs to Get Their Side of the Story

    By Winnie Hu, November 11, 2018


    The author Ken Foster with some very good boys at the dog-friendly Boris & Horton cafe in Manhattan. Boris, for whom the establishment is co-named, is the long-haired pit bull terrier mix in the blue handkerchief.

    Dogs in New York City have a miserable life — that's what Ken Foster kept hearing. How could they not? Many live in tiny apartments. Most do not have backyards to romp around in. They are bored at home all day while their owners toil long hours.

    Mr. Foster's job is to help dogs (and cats, too). He runs a community outreach program in the Bronx for the Animal Care Centers of NYC, a nonprofit that operates the city's animal shelters. The program provides free vaccinations, training and food to pets whose owners are strugglingfinancially. Mr. Foster, 54, also writes books about dogs

    He has met more than 4,000 dogs in their homes, in their neighborhoods and with the people they love. Lots of them are happy. So Mr. Foster and a photographer, Traer Scott, decided to tell some of the canines' stories in a new book, "City of Dogs." 

    This interview has been edited and condensed.

    Q. What did you learn about how dogs live in New York City?

    A. People live a variety of amazing, different kinds of lifestyles in the city, and dogs do as well. I think we think of dogs strictly as pets, but we went to J.F.K. Airport, where there are dogs that work and love their jobs. They are mostly looking for agricultural contraband, but they also go through the mail that comes through, like every piece of mail. They go through people's luggage on the conveyor belts. It's like a game that they're playing all day long. We should all enjoy our jobs that much.

    What is an example of a dog living the good life?

    There's Oz. He's a pit bull mix in NoHo. His owner, Noah, is a trainer and has this chain of gyms across the country called Rumble Boxing. Oz often goes to the gym and sits, waiting for classes to be over. He lives in a great apartment with a nice roof deck. He's got the spoiled life. I like to say, and Noah doesn't disagree, that he needed to maintain his dog in the lifestyle he deserved.

    You even found dogs on Rikers Island. What are they doing there?

    The Rikers dogs are spending eight weeks, usually living in a cell with inmates who are charged with caring for them and training them. They come from different shelters. The men who are assigned to them work in teams, so part of it is also about really learning to work with other people and build team skills. It's a mutually beneficial exchange. A lot of the men have dogs that are waiting for them to come home.

    You went to all five boroughs in search of dogs. How are the dogs different by borough?

    Manhattan: They are more cosmopolitan because they're used to being around a lot of activity, a lot of people, a lot of businesses. They walk by everything that's going on every day because Manhattan is completely built up. There aren't many quiet corners left.

    Bronx: They seem very much like family dogs, and there's always an extended family. The dogs have cousins. The extended family includes not just your human relatives, but your human relatives' dogs. So everybody knows everybody. In talking with people, I'll hear the story not just of their dog, but their sister-in-law's dog.

    Staten Island: They are quieter. They're a little bit more laid back because they have less chaos around them. They probably have no idea that they live in New York City. It's very suburban there.

    Brooklyn: The dogs that we met were, for the most part, from single-dog homes. Even if they were in a family, it was five people and one dog. And so they seemed to feel a little bit like they were the center of the world. Maybe Brooklyn feels that way about itself, too, these days?

    Queens: They are the most diverse. If you look at the pictures that we took in Long Island City of a group of people who meet every morning with their dogs, every dog is completely different. There's a sheepdog, an Akita, a pit bull, a corgi, a Pekingese, and a Chihuahua. These dogs are all best friends. 

    What is one of your favorite dog places in the book?

    You can go off-leash in Central Park after dark. It seemed like something out of a storybook, and the moon was out and it was reflecting in the water. At first, there weren't that many other people around, but as we went a little deeper into the park, we started running into more and more people with their dogs. It really was like a secret society because unless you have a dog, you're probably not going to walk in there. 

    Did you actually interview the dogs or just their owners? 

    It was really a little bit of both. Sometimes their owners try to speak for them. But then, if you're observing, you can see where the dog might disagree. We talked about, where do you want to go? Where do you typically go with your dog? That's kind of a dog interview, I think, when you walk a neighborhood with a dog and you see where their nose goes.

    Your book shows the relationships between dogs and their humans. Is there one that stands out? 

    Talia is a girl in Queens who is autistic. She has a service dog that's trained to stay with her. As she is getting older, holding her mother's hand in public is not a cool thing to do. So now she has this dog to hold on to. I think dogs are anchors in a lot of different ways for all of us. But in this case, it almost seemed like a literal anchor to keep somebody calm and in place.

    What can dogs teach us about city life?

    No matter how completely different we are, if you have dogs in common it cuts through whatever else you might think would be a barrier. We're different people, we come from different cultures, we speak different languages sometimes, and yet if there's a dog in front of us, we can find a way to connect.

    I think that's true no matter what part of the city you're in. We may not have the same kind of dogs, and we might not interact with them in exactly the same sort of way, but we can all understand each other by observing the bond that we have with our pets.



    8) Black Security Guard Responding to Shooting Is Killed by Police

    By Karen Zraick and Julia Jacobs, November 12. 2018


    Jemel Roberson was shot early Sunday morning at a bar where he was working as a security guard. He died at a hospital.

    Jemel Roberson was trying to stop a suspected gunman outside of the Chicago-area bar where he was working as a security guard when he was shot and killed by the police, the authorities said.

    A black security guard at a bar in the Chicago suburbs was killed by the police as he apparently tried to detain a man he believed to be involved in a shooting, the authorities said Monday.

    Officers from several police departments had responded to reports of a shooting early Sunday morning at Manny's Luxury Lounge in Robbins, Ill., said Sophia Ansari, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Sheriff's Office.

    Witnesses told the police that a fight had broken out and someone had started shooting. After the authorities responded, a police officer shot the guard, Jemel Roberson, 26, who had a gun, Ms. Ansari said. Mr. Roberson died at the hospital.

    Witnesses said that people in the crowd had yelled to arriving police officers that Mr. Roberson, who was wearing gear that read "Security," was a guard. Ms. Ansari confirmed that Mr. Roberson worked for the bar.

    "Everybody was screaming out, 'Security!'," one witness, Adam Harris, told WGN-TV. "He was a security guard. And they still did their job, and saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him."

    This episode happened as many Republican politicians, including President Trump, have responded to mass shootings across the United States by calling for more people to protectively carry guns. After a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue left 11 people dead, Mr. Trump suggested that people carrying firearms during services would have helped.

    Ms. Ansari said that five people were shot during the episode at the bar. The injuries sustained by four of those people, including the man believed to have initially opened fire, were not life threatening, she said.

    An officer with the Midlothian Police Department shot Mr. Roberson, Ms. Ansari said. The Midlothian police chief, Dan Delaney, confirmed in a statement that one of his officers had shot a "subject with a gun." He did not name the officer.

    On Monday, Mr. Roberson's mother, Beatrice Roberson, filed a federal lawsuit against the unnamed police officer and the village of Midlothian. It alleges that the shooting was unprovoked, unjustified, excessive and unreasonable.

    Ms. Ansari said the man who initially opened fire at the bar had not yet been charged. She said he was still at a hospital.

    The shooting of Mr. Roberson is being investigated by the Illinois State Police, who did not return a call for comment.

    Family friends of Mr. Roberson's said he had worked as an organist at several local churches and had once dreamed of becoming a police officer himself, according to local news reports. Mr. Roberson had a state firearm owner's identification card, Ms. Ansari said, which authorized his possession of firearms.

    Mr. Roberson had planned to play later that day at New Spiritual Light Baptist Church, the pastor, Walter Turner, told the local ABC affiliate.

    "How in the world does the security guard get shot by the police?" Pastor Turner said. "A young man that was literally just doing his job, and now he's gone."



    9) U.N.'s Expert on 'Extreme Poverty' Is Investigating Britain. Why?

    By Patrick Kingsley, November 13. 2018

    "Since 2010, the government has set in motion more than $39 billion of cuts, freezing or reducing welfare payments and housing subsidies for families and disabled people and cutting back youth and children's services, as well as funding for local authorities. Bungled technical reforms have also delayed payments to struggling families, forcing thousands into unnecessary debt and rent arrears."


    Without food banks like this one in Newcastle, England, "we wouldn't be able to survive," says a British woman.

    NEWCASTLE, England — At a food bank in a rundown part of northeast England, an unemployed mother and her adult son were having an odd morning. Denise and Michael Hunter typically come here for a quiet cuppa with the volunteers, a square meal and sometimes a food parcel or two.

    But on this day, the Hunters had a surprising tea date: the United Nations special rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, his four assistants, two television cameras, a dozen journalists and the local priest.

    "It's a bit different to how it usually is," said Ms. Hunter, 57, her face beaming. "It's like we're royalty or something."

    It was Day 3 of Mr. Alston's two-week tour of the world's fifth-richest country — a hectic 2,000-mile mission across some of the poorest districts in Britain.

    He is visiting food banks, job centers, community charities and government ministries in London, Oxford, Cardiff, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Essex — as well as here in Newcastle — to assess why about a fifth of Britons remain in poverty despite rising employment levels, economic growth and pockets of enormous wealth.

    Many might be as surprised by his presence as the Hunter family was, or the reporters struggling to keep up with him as he rushed between as many as five meetings a day, often without pausing for lunch or supper.

    Special rapporteurs for extreme poverty are mandated to visit and investigate countries with high levels of deprivation and then report their findings to the United Nations. They have historically spent most of their time in the developing world, and Mr. Alston's trip to Britain is only the second mission to a Western European country by a poverty rapporteur this century, the other being to Ireland in 2011. The rapporteur has also visited the United States twice since 2000.

    "There's an oddity to this, obviously," said David Gordon, director of the Townsend Center for International Poverty Research at the University of Bristol, who met Mr. Alston on the second day of his tour. "When you think of the special rapporteurs on extreme poverty and human rights, you expect them to be visiting sub-Saharan Africa or Haiti. You don't expect them to be visiting the U.K."

    Yet for Mr. Alston, Britain in 2018 is an obvious place to focus his energy, and not just because child poverty and food bank usage are on the rise here.

    Having pioneered the welfare state in the late 1940s and the privatization of the state in the 1980s, Britain in the 2010s has become the world's main laboratory for the politics of austerity. In response to the 2008 financial crisis, few governing parties have pared back the state for so long, and with such ideological glee, as the ruling Conservative Party in Britain.

    "The U.K. was a world leader in social security after World War II, it was a world leader on privatization on a large scale and it is a world leader right now in self-imposed austerity," Mr. Alston said in an interview during a rare pause in his schedule, aboard a train in northeast England. "And so it is an important case study to better understand the implications of an austerity approach."

    Since 2010, the government has set in motion more than $39 billion of cuts, freezing or reducing welfare payments and housing subsidies for families and disabled people and cutting back youth and children's services, as well as funding for local authorities. Bungled technical reforms have also delayed payments to struggling families, forcing thousands into unnecessary debt and rent arrears.

    Here at the Newcastle West End food bank, a one-story building where staff members hand out nearly 300 food parcels a week, local residents were queuing up to tell Mr. Alston how they had been failed by the reforms.

    One of them was Denise Hunter. Until a year ago, she and her husband had been getting by, living off the money her husband made from painting toy figurines. Then he fell seriously ill, forcing the couple to apply for welfare payments.

    But because of widely documented problems with the Conservatives' new welfare system, known as Universal Credit, the Hunters' predicament has worsened. Almost all new Universal Credit recipients must wait around six weeks to receive their first payment, forcing those without savings into debt. The Hunters were no exception.

    With no income, the Hunters immediately went into rent arrears, unable to pay for electricity, food and heating. Only the generosity of their landlord prevents their eviction now, and only the existence of the food bank keeps them fed.

    "We wouldn't be able to survive without the food bank," Ms. Hunter said.

    To avoid further cuts to their payments, Ms. Hunter must regularly provide the government with online updates about what she is doing to find work.

    But because she cannot afford a mobile phone or regular home internet, she can sometimes only do this at the city's main library. And since she cannot afford the bus fare, she must walk three miles to get there — a lengthy round trip that hinders her search for work. Libraries closer to home have either closed or had their hours and services scaled back, because of government cuts.

    Hospitalized with a heart condition in March and unable to update her online account, Ms. Hunter had her payments suspended for three further months, forcing her further into debt, she said.

    "It's terrible," Ms. Hunter said. "You don't know which way to turn."

    Ms. Hunter's situation is far from unique, staff members at the food bank said. The demand for their food parcels has increased by a fifth in the past six months.

    Nationally, the number of food parcels distributed by the Trussell Trust, Britain's largest food bank network, grew to more than 650,000 during the summer of 2018, nearly double the 350,000 distributed during the summer of 2013.

    An hour later, across town at the central library, Mr. Alston hurried into another round-table discussion about the reasons for this rise.

    At the discussion was Thushara Chandrasiri, 35, who started receiving benefits in 2011 because of a disabled right arm. But this year, the government reassessed Mr. Chandrasiri and said his disability was not as serious as they had previously judged, cutting his monthly welfare payments by just over $500.

    A case worker said he "should be used to it by now," Mr. Chandrasiri remembered being told. "You've got a left hand as well."

    Next to him sat Tracey Whitenstall, 41, a single parent of three, whose life was upended when her family was transferred to the new welfare system. Because of an administrative error, the family's payments were delayed by 10 weeks, shoving them into debt.

    For several weeks, Ms. Whitenstall's teenage son stopped attending school because she could no longer afford his bus fare.

    He is among 600,000 children who have fallen into poverty since the start of the Conservatives' reforms, a trend that is projected to continue by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent analysis firm. The looming impact of Britain's departure from the European Union, scheduled for March 2019, is also likely to worsen the situation, according to an alliance of children's rights groups.

    With the welfare changes, families on benefits are now an average of $2,700 worse off, according to calculations by the Child Poverty Action Group, an independent watchdog.

    And while unemployment has more than halved under the Conservatives, wages have stagnated and the number of working families in poverty has risen.

    Yet, poverty is a complex and contested subject in Britain, where there are several contrasting measures of deprivation, and some observers were skeptical about the necessity of Mr. Alston's visit.

    While child poverty has risen markedly in recent years, overall poverty levels have remained fairly steady or even dropped slightly — partly because of sharp falls in pensioner poverty since the 1980s. Though 1,550,000 were classed in 2017 as destitute, or experiencing extreme poverty, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a poverty research group, that figure was a quarter less than in 2015.

    If Mr. Alston ends up linking poverty to the government's benefit policies, "he would just be adding more noise," said Edward Davies, director of policy at the Center for Social Justice, a think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative minister who spearheaded the reforms. "My fear is that we have a debate about welfare reform in this country, and he could get embroiled in that."

    Commenting on Mr. Alston's visit in a written statement, a government spokesman said that child and overall poverty rates had fallen since the Conservatives entered office — using a different measure from the one preferred by poverty researchers at the Rowntree Foundation and the Child Poverty Action Group.

    Mr. Alston said he was keeping an open mind. In several meetings in Newcastle, he avoided asking leading questions and frequently played devil's advocate to people seeking to blame the government.

    As his train thundered north into Scotland that night, Mr. Alston said he would draw no conclusions until releasing his preliminary findings on Friday.

    "It's been said to me, 'Come on, you must have had a draft before you came here,' " Mr. Alston said. "But on every mission I've always found myself asking after a few days, 'What the hell am I going to say?' "



    10) Deadly Gaza Raid by Israel Threatens Nascent Cease-Fire

    By David M. Halbfinger, November 11, 2018


    A destroyed building on Monday in Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, after an Israeli airstrike over the weekend.

    JERUSALEM — A covert Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip apparently went bad on Sunday, leaving at least seven Palestinians dead, including one senior Hamas military commander, and puncturing a nascent cease-fire with a flurry of airstrikes and rocket fire.

    An Israeli lieutenant colonel was killed and another officer was wounded in the action near Khan Younis, the first known Israeli ground incursion into Gaza since Operation Protective Edge, in July 2014, set off a seven-week war.

    The impetus for the Israeli operation and its nature were unclear. Reports in the Israeli news media generally described it as an intelligence mission that went awry.

    Palestinian militants responded with waves of rockets aimed at Israeli communities near Gaza, and Israeli aircraft pounded targets in Gaza for a time. With sirens going off repeatedly in the Gaza periphery, Israel ordered its citizens there to remain close to air-raid shelters and schools were closed on Monday.

    The Israeli military took the unusual step of announcing that none of its personnel had been captured in Gaza. And by early Monday, the Israeli news media were playing down the significance of the country's soldiers operating in Gaza territory.

    A former Israeli military commander in charge of long-range missions, Tal Russo, made the rounds of television studios assuring viewers this had been an intelligence operation, not an assassination or abduction mission. It was of the sort, he said, that "are carried out all the time, every night and in all fronts."

    Whatever the incursion's purpose, the fighting it set off threatened to damage, if not scuttle, delicate multilateral efforts to calm the Israel-Gaza border.

    Those efforts have appeared to be bearing fruit.

    Israel has allowed new shipments of diesel fuel to Gaza's power plant, which is supplying many more hours of electricity to residents of the impoverished enclave. Over the weekend, Hamas distributed $15 million in Qatari-donated cash as back pay to thousands of its civil servants who have received only a fraction of their salaries for months.

    But the perception that Israel, by allowing the fuel and cash shipments into Gaza, was paying off Hamas set off acrimonious wrangling between two rival right-wing members of Israel's security cabinet.

    Earlier Sunday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett called the cash infusion "protection money." Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused Mr. Bennett of having supported such payments and of having opposed in recent weeks the more aggressive military reprisals against Hamas that Mr. Lieberman favored.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Paris for the Armistice Day centennial, assured reporters earlier in the day that he was "working in every possible way to restore the quiet to the residents of Gaza and also prevent a humanitarian crisis." He said that the border was in "the first stage of a lull" and that he was "doing everything I can in order to avoid an unnecessary war."

    By night's end Mr. Netanyahu had cut short his trip and was flying back to Israel in response to the Gaza hostilities.

    Basem Naim, a former Hamas health minister who leads Gaza's Council on International Relations, said tensions were high enough that a mistake could lead to a new war.

    "This event showed clearly that the situation here is very fragile," he said, "and without a political horizon and international guarantees for Israeli obligations, everything can easily collapse."

    The clash, Mr. Naim said, also showed the risk of relying so heavily "on the personal commitment of Netanyahu" for the uneasy cease-fire when the Israeli government remains divided over it.

    According to a statement from Hamas, Israeli special forces in a civilian car drove about two miles inside the Gaza Strip, east of Khan Younis, where they killed Noor Baraka, 37, a local battalion commander of al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing. Mr. Baraka's responsibilities included digging attack tunnels and firing rockets into Israel.

    According to a local journalist, Muthana al-Najjar, the Israelis, dressed as civilians — including some in women's clothing — were in a civilian vehicle that stopped outside Mr. Baraka's home, where it drew suspicion. A gunfight ensued, and the fleeing Israelis called in airstrikes to cover their retreat to Israeli territory.

    At least seven Palestinians were wounded, according to the Gaza health ministry.

    Mr. Baraka, whose prior home was destroyed by an Israeli missile in 2009, was killed near a mosque named for Ismail Abu Shanab, who was the third-ranking Hamas leader before his own assassination by Israel in 2003.

    Iyad Abuheweila and Ibrahim El-Mughrabi contributed reporting from Gaza City.



    11) In Brazil, Animals Cross a Road of No Return

    By Rebecca Boyle, November 12. 2018


    Biologist Wagner Fischer and his colleagues photographed thousands of specimens, including the caimans, on BR-262. The highway rises from the wetlands like an island, tempting wildlife, Dr. Fischer said: "It's a trap for fauna, and they don't know the risk."

    Whenever Wagner Fischer drives, he notices the roadkill.

    As a graduate student in the 1990s, Dr. Fischer, now a biologist with the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, traveled through Brazil's Pantanal, a tropical wetland the size of Wisconsin, and the largest freshwater wetland in the world. From his motorcycle, he saw monkeys swinging from roadside trees; capybaras slept on the shoulder. He was looking for fishing bats, the subject of his graduate research. But he was fascinated and appalled by the roadside carnage: caimans, anacondas, giant black-necked storks called jabirus and, once, a dead giant anteater with her cub, still alive, clutching her back. 

    The region's main road, the BR-262, is a long thread of tarmac through the carpet of green, connecting the growing cities of Campo Grande and Corumbá, 430 miles apart. Dr. Fischer began taking photographs, thousands of them, and tallying the species along the road. He shared his unpublished results with other researchers and government officials. 

    "Everyone from the scientific community kept asking me, 'When are you going to publish that?'" Mr. Fischer recalled recently. 

    Two decades later, he finally has. His paper, published on Oct. 19 in the online biodiversity journal Check List, is a grim tally. From 1996 to 2000, Dr. Fischer counted dead 930 animals representing 29 reptile species and 47 bird species. A separate tally of mammals, to be published soon, includes more than 2,200 specimens. But even in its unpublished phase, his study inspired others like it, all of them confirming Dr. Fischer's initial conclusion: that for wildlife, BR-262 is the deadliest road in Brazil and one of the deadliest in the world.

    The highway rises from the surrounding wetlands like an island, tempting wildlife, Dr. Fischer said: "It's a trap for fauna, and they don't know the risk."

    The Pantanal wetlands, the size of Wisconsin, are the largest freshwater wetlands in the world, and are home to more than 4,000 species of plants and animals.

    The Pantanal is filigreed with rivers and streams that flood during the rainy season. Much of it is enclosed in the southwestern state of Mato Grosso do Sul, which increasingly is quilted with cattle ranches and soybean farms. Over the years, Dr. Fischer's colleagues began noticing a steady rise in the roadkill figures.

    In 2014, a team led by Julio Cesar de Souza, of the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, took another look at roadkill on the BR-262. Over 15 months, they found 518 carcasses from 40 species, and noticed a roadkill site every four miles — a tenfold increase since 2002, when Dr. Fischer presented some of his findings at a transportation conference. That study, as well as a study in 2017 that counted more than 1,000 large mammals killed in one year on the BR-262, prompted Mr. Fischer to finally publish his data.

    By contrast, on California's Interstate 280 in the Bay Area, the state's deadliest road for animals, 386 creatures died in collisions between 2015 and 2016. In Britain, more than 1,200 animals died in road collisions across all major highways in 2017, according to a recent report.

    Throughout Brazil, roads are littered with carcasses representing the country's 1,775 bird species and 623 mammal species. Large mammals are at greater risk in southern Brazil, including the Pantanal and dry savanna, whereas birds are at higher risk in the Amazon, according to Manuela González-Suárez, a biologist at the University of Reading in England. 

    In a study published in August, Dr. González-Suárez and her colleagues built a computer model to predict where animals were most likely to be struck by vehicles. Using existing roads and roadkill counts, including Mr. Fischer's data, her team found that as many as 2 million mammals and 8 million birds may be dying on Brazilian highways each year.

    "When I got the total number, I was just completely blown away," Ms. González-Suárez said. "Out of these 8 million birds, maybe some of those are fairly common ones, where maybe this is not a problem. But we don't know, exactly. Are we going to lose all birds in Brazil? Probably no. But it would be nice to know, what should we be worried about?"

    Ecologists worry that the problem will soon worsen. Brazil is home to 20 percent of the world's biodiversity, but the newly elected president, Jair Bolsonaro, has promised to develop large tracts of the country's most ecologically sensitive areas.

    Now that Mr. Fischer's data are in the scientific literature, other researchers can more easily compare it with current data and identify trends, said Arnaud Desbiez, a conservation biologist with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, and a co-author of the 2017 study. Dr. Desbiez also runs Brazil's Giant Armadillo Conservation Project and a related program called Anteaters and Highways. 

    Ideally, he said, the data would inform government efforts to lessen the carnage. Over the years, Dr. Fischer has shared his unpublished data with state officials and urged them, to little effect, to build a system of bridges and underpasses that would let animals cross roads safely.

    "Fischer's data were very complete, and it was a very well done study, so it's sad to see that it hasn't been used as much as it should have," Dr. Desbiez said. "A lot of things he suggested have not been implemented. This is not a new problem, but something he demonstrated existed a long time ago."

    Dr. Fischer said: "Ecologists are very worried. The authorities pretend to be worried."

    Brazilian officials have taken some basic measures. White metal signs, bearing silhouettes of armadillos and giant anteaters, appear on the roadside every few miles, advising motorists to "Respect Wild Life" and "Preserve the Pantanal." But signs are easily ignored, especially in the rush of freight-hauling and daily life, ecologists say. Dr. Desbiez favors fencing that keeps animals off the pavement and guides them toward safe passages under or over the road.

    In the United States, fences, underpasses and bridges have been built along interstate highways to reduce collisions, which are costly for drivers and animals alike. In Wyoming, wildlife conservationists tracked pronghorn antelope to determine their favorite crossing spots, and then built sagebrush-lined bridges for the animals. In Colorado, a network of underpasses and bridges over a mountain highway has reduced collisions by 90 percent

    Fraser Shilling, director of the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis, helped develop a real-time deer-collision map, which connects to a car or phone app that can warn drivers when to be on high alert. A recent seminar that taught other officials how to build their such maps drew representatives from 42 states, Dr. Shilling said.

    Dr. González-Suárez is now studying individual species to figure out the impact on local populations. For mammals, especially those who reproduce slowly and in small numbers, the loss of a few individuals could have devastating effects, Mr. Desbiez noted.

    Monitoring roadkill is important for more than accounting purposes, said Dr. Shilling. Roads are the primary way in which most people interact with wildlife, yet traffic collisions with animals are wildly underreported, he said. Measuring the scale of death is a way to remind people that our footprint is much larger than the carbon dioxide we emit or the waste we produce.

    "The first part is discovering that there is a problem," he said.

    Dr. Gonzalez-Suarez said that deforestation poses a greater threat to Amazonian biodiversity than a new road does, but the two are linked, she added; new roads are built to harvest wood, and to transport grain and livestock from expanding farmlands.

    "For me, the biggest concern as a conservation biologist is the loss of habitat," she said. "We see roads as necessary, but we need to acknowledge they come with a cost. These are animals that should not be killed. They are only dying because there is a road in there and we drive on it."

    Dr. Fischer so far has avoided hitting any large animals in his travels, but a couple of birds have not been so fortune. He once struck a seriema, a terrestrial bird that resembles a roadrunner on stilts, and he collided with a parakeet while riding his motorcycle. He hopes that his historical record can help other biologists, and other Brazilians, reckon with the destructive capability of the roads they're on.

    "Brazil is a big country with a lot of problems to solve," he said. "But we are trying to make a difference."



    12) Stan Lee's 1968 Column Denouncing Racism 'Plaguing The World' Goes Viral Again

    By Lee Moran, November 13, 2018


    Here's the full text:

    "Let's lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can't be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them — to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater — one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he's down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he's never seen — people he's never known — with equal intensity — with equal venom.

    "Now, we're not trying to say it's unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it's totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race — to despise an entire nation — to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God ― a God who calls us ALL ― His children.

    "Pax et Justitia, Stan."



    13)  Crucifying Julian Assange

    By Chris Hedges, November 12, 2018


    Julian Assange's sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has been transformed into a little shop of horrors. He has been largely cut off from communicating with the outside world for the last seven months. His Ecuadorian citizenship, granted to him as an asylum seeker, is in the process of being revoked. His health is failing. He is being denied medical care. His efforts for legal redress have been crippled by the gag rules, including Ecuadorian orders that he cannot make public his conditions inside the embassy in fighting revocation of his Ecuadorian citizenship.

    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to intercede on behalf of Assange, an Australian citizen, even though the new government in Ecuador, led by Lenín Moreno—who calls Assange an "inherited problem" and an impediment to better relations with Washington—is making the WikiLeaks founder's life in the embassy unbearable. Almost daily, the embassy is imposing harsher conditions for Assange, including making him pay his medical bills, imposing arcane rules about how he must care for his cat and demanding that he perform a variety of demeaning housekeeping chores.

    The Ecuadorians, reluctant to expel Assange after granting him political asylum and granting him citizenship, intend to make his existence so unpleasant he will agree to leave the embassy to be arrested by the British and extradited to the United States. The former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, whose government granted the publisher political asylum, describes Assange's current living conditions as "torture."

    His mother, Christine Assange, said in a recent video appeal, "Despite Julian being a multi-award-winning journalist, much loved and respected for courageously exposing serious, high-level crimes and corruption in the public interest, he is right now alone, sick, in pain—silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact and being tortured in the heart of London. The modern-day cage of political prisoners is no longer the Tower of London. It's the Ecuadorian Embassy."

    "Here are the facts," she went on. "Julian has been detained nearly eight years without charge. That's right. Without charge. For the past six years, the U.K. government has refused his request for access to basic health needs, fresh air, exercise, sunshine for vitamin D and access to proper dental and medical care. As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. His examining doctors warned his detention conditions are life-threatening. A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes in the embassy in London."

    "In 2016, after an in-depth investigation, the United Nations ruled that Julian's legal and human rights have been violated on multiple occasions," she said. "He'd been illegally detained since 2010. And they ordered his immediate release, safe passage and compensation. The U.K. government refused to abide by the U.N.'s decision. The U.S. government has made Julian's arrest a priority. They want to get around a U.S. journalist's protection under the First Amendment by charging him with espionage. They will stop at nothing to do it."

    "As a result of the U.S. bearing down on Ecuador, his asylum is now under immediate threat," she said. "The U.S. pressure on Ecuador's new president resulted in Julian being placed in a strict and severe solitary confinement for the last seven months, deprived of any contact with his family and friends. Only his lawyers could see him. Two weeks ago, things became substantially worse. The former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, who rightfully gave Julian political asylum from U.S. threats against his life and liberty, publicly warned when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Ecuador a deal was done to hand Julian over to the U.S. He stated that because of the political costs of expelling Julian from their embassy was too high, the plan was to break him down mentally. A new, impossible, inhumane protocol was implemented at the embassy to torture him to such a point that he would break and be forced to leave."

    Assange was once feted and courted by some of the largest media organizations in the world, including The New York Times and The Guardian, for the information he possessed. But once his trove of material documenting U.S. war crimes, much of it provided by Chelsea Manning, was published by these media outlets he was pushed aside and demonized. A leaked Pentagon document prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branchdated March 8, 2008, exposed a black propaganda campaign to discredit WikiLeaks and Assange. The document said the smear campaign should seek to destroy the "feeling of trust" that is WikiLeaks' "center of gravity" and blacken Assange's reputation. It largely has worked. Assange is especially vilified for publishing 70,000 hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and senior Democratic officials. The Democrats and former FBI Director James Comey say the emails were copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, by Russian government hackers. Comey has said the messages were probably delivered to WikiLeaks by an intermediary. Assange has said the emails were not provided by "state actors."

    The Democratic Party—seeking to blame its election defeat on Russian "interference" rather than the grotesque income inequality, the betrayal of the working class, the loss of civil liberties, the deindustrialization and the corporate coup d'état that the party helped orchestrate—attacks Assange as a traitor, although he is not a U.S. citizen. Nor is he a spy. He is not bound by any law I am aware of to keep U.S. government secrets. He has not committed a crime. Now, stories in newspapers that once published material from WikiLeaks focus on his allegedly slovenly behavior—not evident during my visits with him—and how he is, in the words of The Guardian, "an unwelcome guest" in the embassy. The vital issue of the rights of a publisher and a free press is ignored in favor of snarky character assassination.

    Assange was granted asylum in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sexual offense allegations that were eventually dropped. Assange feared that once he was in Swedish custody he would be extradited to the United States. The British government has said that, although he is no longer wanted for questioning in Sweden, Assange will be arrested and jailed for breaching his bail conditions if he leaves the embassy.

    WikiLeaks and Assange have done more to expose the dark machinations and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organization. Assange, in addition to exposing atrocities and crimes committed by the United States military in our endless wars and revealing the inner workings of the Clinton campaign, made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency, their surveillance programs and their interference in foreign elections, including in the French elections. He disclosed the conspiracyagainst British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members of Parliament. And WikiLeaks worked swiftly to save Edward Snowden, who exposed the wholesale surveillance of the American public by the government, from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow. The Snowden leaks also revealed, ominously, that Assange was on a U.S. "manhunt target list."

    What is happening to Assange should terrify the press. And yet his plight is met with indifference and  sneering contempt. Once he is pushed out of the embassy, he will be put on trial in the United States for what he published. This will set a new and dangerous legal precedent that the Trump administration and future administrations will employ against other publishers, including those who are part of the mob trying to lynch Assange. The silence about the treatment of Assange is not only a betrayal of him but a betrayal of the freedom of the press itself. We will pay dearly for this complicity.

    Even if the Russians provided the Podesta emails to Assange, he should have published them. I would have. They exposed practices of the Clinton political machine that she and the Democratic leadership sought to hide. In the two decades I worked overseas as a foreign correspondent I was routinely leaked stolen documents by organizations and governments. My only concern was whether the documents were forged or genuine. If they were genuine, I published them. Those who leaked material to me included the rebels of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN); the Salvadoran army, which once gave me blood-smeared FMLN documents found after an ambush; the Sandinista government of Nicaragua; the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Central Intelligence Agency; the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebel group; the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); the French intelligence service, Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, or DGSE; and the Serbian government of Slobodan Milosovic, who was later tried as a war criminal.

    We learned from the emails published by WikiLeaks that the Clinton Foundation received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton paid her donors back by approving $80 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, enabling the kingdom to carry out a devastating war in Yemen that has triggered a humanitarian crisis, including widespread food shortages and a cholera epidemic, and left close to 60,000 dead. We learned Clinton was paid $675,000 for speaking at Goldman Sachs, a sum so massive it can only be described as a bribe. We learned Clinton told the financial elites in her lucrative talks that she wanted "open trade and open borders" and believed Wall Street executives were best-positioned to manage the economy, a statement that directly contradicted her campaign promises. We learned the Clinton campaign worked to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Donald Trump was the Republican nominee. We learned Clinton obtained advance information on primary-debate questions. We learned, because 1,700 of the 33,000 emails came from Hillary Clinton, she was the primary architect of the war in Libya. We learned she believed that the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate. The war she sought has left Libya in chaos, seen the rise to power of radical jihadists in what is now a failed state, triggered a massive exodus of migrants to Europe, seen Libyan weapon stockpiles seized by rogue militias and Islamic radicals throughout the region, and resulted in 40,000 dead. Should this information have remained hidden from the American public? You can argue yes, but you can't then call yourself a journalist.

    "They are setting my son up to give them an excuse to hand him over to the U.S., where he would face a show trial," Christine Assange warned. "Over the past eight years, he has had no proper legal process. It has been unfair at every single turn with much perversion of justice. There is no reason to consider that this would change in the future. The U.S. WikiLeaks grand jury, producing the extradition warrant, was held in secret by four prosecutors but no defense and no judge. The U.K.-U.S. extradition treaty allows for the U.K. to extradite Julian to the U.S. without a proper basic case. Once in the U.S., the National Defense Authorization Act allows for indefinite detention without trial. Julian could very well be held in Guantanamo Bay and tortured, sentenced to 45 years in a maximum-security prison, or face the death penalty. My son is in critical danger because of a brutal, political persecution by the bullies in power whose crimes and corruption he had courageously exposed when he was editor in chief of WikiLeaks."

    Assange is on his own. Each day is more difficult for him. This is by design. It is up to us to protest. We are his last hope, and the last hope, I fear, for a free press.

    "We need to make our protest against this brutality deafening," his mother said. "I call on all you journalists to stand up now because he's your colleague and you are next. I call on all you politicians who say you entered politics to serve the people to stand up now. I call on all you activists who support human rights, refugees, the environment, and are against war, to stand up now because WikiLeaks has served the causes that you spoke for and Julian is now suffering for it alongside of you. I call on all citizens who value freedom, democracy and a fair legal process to put aside your political differences and unite, stand up now. Most of us don't have the courage of our whistleblowers or journalists like Julian Assange who publish them, so that we may be informed and warned about the abuses of power."



    14) Male Insect Fertility Plummets After Heat Waves

    By Karen Weintraub, November 13.2018


    A simulated heat wave in a lab caused sperm production in a type of beetle to drop by half, and a second heat wave nearly sterilized them.

    For years, insect populations have been dropping worldwide without a clear explanation. A new paper suggests male infertility is at least one factor behind that decline, as warmer-than-usual temperatures take a disproportionate toll on males of some insect species.

    After a lab-simulated heat wave, researchers from England's University of East Anglia found that male flour beetles produced vastly less sperm. But they also found that the damage wasn't confined to the males. Sperm inside a female's reproductive tract became less viable and the sons of the males that endured the hotter temperature became less fertile, too.

    Matt Gage, an evolutionary ecologist who led the work published Tuesday in Nature Communications, said he was surprised by the findings, and by how quickly male fertility plummeted.

    It's long been known that heat can affect sperm quality in mammals. "There's a good reason the testes are outside the body," noted Dr. Gage, adding that this keeps the sperm 6 to 10 degrees cooler than body temperature.

    But no one had previously looked to see whether coldblooded males were also affected, even though most of life on Earth is coldblooded, he said. And the flour beetles that Dr. Gage studied are used to warm environments, living in places that regularly reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

    His team simulated a heat wave in their lab, raising temperatures by about 9 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit for five days — roughly equivalent to a temperature spike in England last summer, Dr. Gage said.

    After the heat exposure, sperm production in the flour beetles dropped by half, the study showed. A second heat wave nearly sterilized them.

    "We thought they might have hardened to temperature extremes," Dr. Gage said. "We found the opposite."

    Females appeared unaffected by the heat themselves. But if they had already been inseminated, their fertility fell by 30 percent after the heat exposure. This suggests that heat affects not just the manufacture of sperm, but also its later viability, Dr. Gage said.

    The sons of the males who endured the heat wave produced 20 percent fewer offspring than males that hadn't undergone that stress. Dr. Gage said he's not sure whether the sperm suffered DNA damage from the heat wave that could not be repaired, or if changes on top of the DNA — so-called epigenetic changes — affected their sons' fertility.

    "The transgenerational effects are exciting and scary," said Scott Pitnick, a professor of biology at Syracuse University in New York, who was not involved in the research. He added that sperm with DNA damage might still be able to fertilize females and yield offspring.

    Dr. Gage said he thinks that such heat response may account for at least some of the population decline seen in insects.

    A 2017 study found that the population of flying insects fell by 75 percent over 27 years in German nature preserves.

    Curt Stager, a professor at Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, New York, said he's not ready to accept the idea that global climate change is the primary cause of this drop.

    "Global-scale insecticide usage is, to me, a more convincing cause for a widespread, across-the-board insect decline," Dr. Stager said. Heat waves, he said, have not occurred universally enough to cause widespread decline.

    Dr. Pitnick said that given how sensitive sperm is to temperature change, and that coldblooded insects are less able to protect their sperm, it was smart to "explore detrimental effects on sperm as a candidate cause of widespread decline of invertebrate populations in response to climate change."

    Next, Dr. Gage said he wants to see if the same trends will apply in a more natural setting than a research lab.

    "We think it probably does apply, but we haven't proven it yet," he said.

    He also said he doesn't know how insects in colder climates will respond to temperature spikes, but he intends to investigate. Additionally, he wants to study how long the effects of heat waves last. Quick reproducing insects may be able to rapidly adapt to such temperature spikes, he said.



    15) Police Report in Killing of Black Security Guard Is Criticized as Rushed

    By Matthew Haag, November 14. 2018


    Protesters rallied in Midlothian, Ill., after a local police officer fatally shot Jemel Roberson, a security guard, as he tried to detain a gunman outside a bar.

    The Illinois State Police took steps on Tuesday to defend the actions of a suburban Chicago police officer who killed an armed security guard on Sunday, claiming that the guard was not wearing a uniform and ignored verbal commands to drop his weapon. But witnesses have contradicted that account, and it was not clear how the State Police reached its conclusions.

    The findings by the state's Public Integrity Task Force, the lead agency in the case, were based on a preliminary investigation into the killing of the guard, Jemel Roberson, 26, who was responding to a shooting at a bar. But a lawyer for his family disputed the state's account and criticized the agency for rushing to judgment just days after the deadly encounter.

    "We are three days into this and they are saying preliminarily that it was a good shoot?" the lawyer, Greg Kulis, said in an interview on Wednesday. "They traditionally take nine months or longer."

    The killing of Mr. Roberson has ignited protests and demands for justice, just a month after a Chicago police officer was found guilty of second-degree murder in the high-profile killing of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was shot 16 times by an officer in 2014. Protesters have pointed out that Mr. Roberson, who was black, was killed even though he was a "good guy with a gun," the type of person put forth by the National Rifle Association and President Trump as a solution to mass shootings.

    Mr. Roberson was shot early Sunday morning at a Chicago-area bar where he worked as a security guard.

    The shooting on Sunday morning occurred while Mr. Roberson was chasing after a gunman who had opened fire inside the bar, Manny's Luxury Lounge in Robbins, Ill. The man had struck four people inside, and Mr. Roberson was trying to detain him when the police arrived.

    A white officer with the Midlothian Police Department encountered Mr. Roberson in a parking lot outside the bar, and according to the State Police, gave "multiple verbal commands" for Mr. Roberson to drop his weapon. The officer then opened fire on Mr. Roberson, the State Police said.

    On Tuesday, Chief Daniel Delaney of the Midlothian Police Department said he was "completely saddened by this tragic incident."

    "What we have learned is Jemel Roberson was a brave man who was doing his best to end an active shooter situation," Chief Delaney wrote on Facebook. "There are no words that can be expressed as to the sorrow his family is dealing with."

    The man suspected of opening fire inside the bar was being treated on Wednesday in a hospital, the Cook County Sheriff's Office said. He has not yet been charged.

    Mr. Roberson, who lived in Chicago, had hoped to become a police officer, Mr. Kulis said. Other security guards at the bar encouraged him to stay home on Saturday night because he had an early engagement the next morning, playing the organ at his church. But Mr. Roberson kept his promise and showed up at work.

    His mother, Beatrice Roberson, has declined all news media requests for interviews, Mr. Kulis said.

    In the days after the shooting, Mr. Kulis filed a federal lawsuit against the Midlothian officer, whose name has not been made public, on Ms. Roberson's behalf. He also filed a request in court for the Midlothian Police Department, along with the other agencies that responded to the scene, to preserve all evidence in the case. And on Wednesday, Mr. Kulis said he planned to subpoena the State Police for the information it used to reach its preliminary conclusions.

    "It's really bizarre that their preliminary statement is that arguably the shooting was justified," Mr. Kulis said.

    Mr. Kulis said he located several witnesses whose accounts contradicted the State Police's findings. They told him that Mr. Roberson was wearing a black ski cap with the word "Security" across the front, Mr. Kulis said.

    One witness also said that he screamed at the officer not to shoot Mr. Roberson. "He was yelling, 'He's security, he's security, he's security,'" Mr. Kulis said.

    None of those witnesses have been interviewed by the State Police, Mr. Kulis said.

    "I don't know what they are relying on," Mr. Kulis said.



    16) California Utility Customers May Be on Hook for Billions in Wildfire Damage

    By Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, November 14, 2018


    Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the Camp Fire, which has killed at least 56 people. Many fires in recent years have been caused by downed power lines serving California's utilities.

    As wildfires ravage large swaths of California for a second year, one of the state's biggest utilities has declared that it faces billions of dollars in potential liability — far more than its insurance would cover.

    The potential losses could leave the company's customers on the hook to pay the bill, exposing businesses and consumers to higher costs. The utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, could even face bankruptcy, putting pressure on the state for a bailout.

    With its financial liabilities mounting, the company's shares dropped by more than 20 percent on Wednesday. More than half of its market value has been wiped out since late last week as the fires have spread.

    Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the deadliest of the current blazes, known as the Camp Fire, which has killed at least 56 people and destroyed virtually the entire town of Paradise, about 90 miles north of Sacramento. PG&E disclosed in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that an outage and damage to a transmission tower were reported in the area shortly before the fire started last week.

    Many fires in recent years have been caused by downed power lines serving California's utilities. State officials have determined that electrical equipment owned by PG&E, including power lines and poles, was responsible for at least 17 of 21 major fires in Northern California last fall. In eight of those cases, they referred the findings to prosecutors over possible violations of state law.

    Citigroup estimates that PG&E's exposure to liability for those fires is $15 billion — and that it could face another $15 billion in claims if it is found responsible for the Camp Fire, a number that could rise because the fire is only a third contained.

    "The damages, if you add 2017 and 2018, obviously are going to be really significant," said Praful Mehta, a Citigroup analyst.

    The compounding costs of the year-after-year wildfires are making it increasingly difficult for any party to absorb the expenses, said Mark Cooper, senior research fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School.

    If the utility is forced to increase rates sharply, the costs may take an economic toll. Manufacturing companies could choose to move their businesses out of the service area or even the state. Residential customers within the utility's territory then could be left to cover the costs.

    "This becomes a humongous challenge," Mr. Cooper said. "If they try and raise the prices, they may not be able to get them. Should they even be allowed to recover all the cost, if they were guilty of imprudent behavior?"

    PG&E said its liability insurance for the year that began Aug. 1 amounted to $1.4 billion.

    Lynsey Paulo, a spokeswoman for PG&E, said the utility was focused on helping fight the current wildfires rather than the company's economics. The company has set up a base camp with 800 employees in the area of the Camp Fire, she said, a figure that is expected to grow to 1,000 by the end of the week and could reach 3,000.

    "We're not going to speculate on what may or may not be impacting the stock market," Ms. Paulo said.

    Critics of the utilities say poor maintenance of power poles and failure to trim vegetation around power lines is a major cause of fires. On a walking tour last spring in San Jose, a former state regulator showed overloaded poles bending under the weight of wires and cables, as well as power lines running through tree foliage.

    PG&E's "safety culture" has been the subject of a three-year investigation by the state's Public Utilities Commission. The agency is expected to act on the inquiry's findings as early as this month.

    In addition to wildfires, PG&E was found at fault in one of California's biggest disasters in this decade — a natural-gas explosion in 2010 that devastated the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno and killed eight people. PG&E was fined a record $1.6 billion by the state for failing to maintain its pipeline system properly, and paid $900 million to resolve lawsuits related to the explosion.

    "We've got failure of systems to hold PG&E accountable for the destruction and devastation that's been caused," said Frank Pitre, a lawyer who has represented PG&E customers in the gas explosion and the wildfires, including 35 people who lost property in the Paradise fire. "And it's been ongoing. How many more lives have to be lost? How many more communities have to be destroyed? It's got to stop."

    As a pre-emptive measure to prevent wildfires, PG&E last month cut power to tens of thousands of customers as high winds prompted fire alerts in many areas, including parts of Napa and Sonoma Counties that were hit hard by fires a year ago.

    Shares of the parent companies of the state's other investor-owned utilities — Edison International, which operates Southern California Edison, and Sempra Energy, which owns San Diego Gas and Electric — also dropped earlier this week as wildfires spread in both Northern and Southern California.

    The state's power supply is not likely to be at risk, but PG&E could face bankruptcy if it cannot cover the liabilities it faces, wiping out shareholders' equity and eating into bondholder investments. It has already been through bankruptcy once, in 2001, during an energy crisis after a botched deregulation effort.

    Legislators intervened this year to shield PG&E and the state's other investor-owned utilities from overwhelming legal claims, allowing them to pass the expense on to ratepayers. But the law, Senate Bill 901, applies to fires beginning in 2019, and in some of last year's incidents — not to this year's fires.

    Paul Payne, a spokesman for Senator Bill Dodd, who sponsored the measure, said the bill was a response to the potential costs PG&E and its customers were already facing. "We were focused on 2017 and protecting the ratepayers from that fire," he said.

    Some analysts say California's regulators and lawmakers could take steps to extend similar protection in this year's blazes.

    "It is our expectation that regulators will utilize the tools or framework outlined in S.B. 901 to address any potential 2018 wildfire-related costs," Jeffrey Cassella, an analyst at Moody's Investors Service, wrote in an email.

    Under the bill, utilities could sell bonds to cover their liability costs and pay them off over time through higher rates. PG&E estimates that the cost to the average consumer could be $5 a year for every $1 billion in bonds issued.

    But Mr. Mehta of Citigroup said there were questions about a second intervention. "It is unclear whether the political will exists because it might be seen as a bailout," he said. "That is why the stock is reacting the way it is."

    Investors have been scrambling to assess the size of the financial hit that PG&E might suffer and whether the company had enough money to make it through the turbulence. The company said it had exhausted its revolving credit and raised concern about liquidity and cash flow.

    Some prominent investors may have been hit. Baupost Group, run by Seth A. Klarman, an investor with a reputation for spotting undervalued stocks, added more than 14 million PG&E shares to its holdings in the third quarter, according to securities filings, while Viking Global, the hedge fund of O. Andreas Halvorsen, bought 5.7 million shares. Baupost and Viking declined to comment.

    Although jarring, the move to draw down its credit lines gives the company a pool of funds that it can use to pay expenses and make debt repayments due in the coming months. Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase were among the banks that set up the credit lines, according a PG&E securities filing from 2015.

    The company said it had about $3.5 billion of cash after drawing down the credit lines.

    Last December, in anticipation of possible damage claims from that year's wildfires, PG&E suspended dividend payments. Its stock has fallen sharply, but the company is still worth $13 billion.

    "Bankruptcy is not the worst thing customers have to fear from PG&E," said Mindy Spatt, a spokeswoman for the Utility Reform Network, which represents consumers before the Public Utilities Commission. "The worst thing that customers have to fear is the wildfires. The legislature cannot make policy based on the fear of PG&E's bankruptcy."

































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