In a quiet forest in Finland, the wild Roomba roams.....



America has spent $5.9 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001, a new study says

  • The U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers $5.9 trillion since they began in 2001.
  • The figure reflects the cost across the U.S. federal government since the price of war is not borne by the Defense Department alone.
  • The report also finds that more than 480,000 people have died from the wars and more than 244,000 civilians have been killed as a result of fighting. Additionally, another 10 million people have been displaced due to violence.
  • https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/14/us-has-spent-5point9-trillion-on-middle-east-asia-wars-since-2001-study.html







Special Saturday Event...

Sunday, December 2, 2018...

A Message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal:

Join Us at the Howard Zinn Book Fair!

The 5th Annual Howard Zinn Book Fair

San Francisco City College Mission Campus, 1125 Valencia Street,

December 2, 2018 from 10am-6pm.

This year's theme is Fighting for the Air We Breathe.

Attend the workshop:

Class Struggle Defense

and the Case of Mumia Abu Jamal

Presented by:

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

4 PM, Room 321, at the Book Fair

Mission Campus, 1125 Valencia Street


Gerald Smith, Former Black Panther Party


Jack Heyman, ILWU (longshore union) retired

And look for our literature table, featuring books by and about 

political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. 



Open letter to active duty soldiers on the border


Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern U.S. border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the U.S. are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country's elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.

Courage to Resist has been running a strategic outreach campaign to challenge troops to refuse illegal orders while on the border, such as their Commander-in-Chief's suggestion that they murder migrants who might be throwing rocks, or that they build and help run concentration camps. In addition to social media ads, About Face, Veterans For Peace, and Courage to Resist, are also printing tens of thousands of these leaflets for distribution near the border. Please consider donating towards these expenses.

Don't turn them away

The migrants in the Central American caravan are not our enemies

Open letter to active duty soldiers

Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern U.S. border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the U.S. are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country's elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.

"There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone."

These extremely poor and vulnerable people are desperate for peace. Who among us would walk a thousand miles with only the clothes on our back without great cause? The odds are good that your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. lived similar experiences to these migrants. Your family members came to the U.S. to seek a better life—some fled violence. Consider this as you are asked to confront these unarmed men, women and children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. To do so would be the ultimate hypocrisy.

The U.S. is the richest country in the world, in part because it has exploited countries in Latin America for decades. If you treat people from these countries like criminals, as Trump hopes you will, you only contribute to the legacy of pillage and plunder beneath our southern border. We need to confront this history together, we need to confront the reality of America's wealth and both share and give it back with these people. Above all else, we cannot turn them away at our door. They will die if we do.

By every moral or ethical standard it is your duty to refuse orders to "defend" the U.S. from these migrants. History will look kindly upon you if you do. There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone. It is much harder to punish the many than the few.

In solidarity,

Rory Fanning

Former U.S. Army Ranger, War-Resister

Spenser Rapone

Former U.S. Army Ranger and Infantry Officer, War-Resister

Leaflet distributed by:

  • About Face: Veterans Against the War

  • Courage to Resist

  • Veterans For Peace

Courage to Resist has been running a strategic outreach campaign to challenge troops to refuse illegal orders while on the border, such as their Commander-in-Chief's suggestion that they murder migrants who might be throwing rocks, or that they build and help run concentration camps. In addition to social media ads, About Face, Veterans For Peace, and Courage to Resist, are also printing tens of thousands of these leaflets for distribution near the border. Please consider donating towards these expenses.


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).

Kevin Johnson D.O.C. No. 264847

G-20-2C Pendleton Correctional Facility

4490 W. Reformatory Rd.

Pendleton, IN 46064-9001




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:

    Security Processing Center

    Major Tillery AM 9786

    268 Bricker Road

    Bellefonte, PA 16823

    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) Killing of Indigenous Man in Chile Spurs Criticism of Security Forces

    By Pascale Bonnefoy. November 25, 2018


    The funeral of Camilo Catrillanca in Temucuicui, Chile, this month. The killing of Mr. Catrillanca, 24, by the police has intensified complaints about security forces.

    SANTIAGO, Chile — The killing of a young indigenous man by an antiterrorism police squad has intensified longstanding criticism over the treatment of native communities in southern Chile by the government and security forces accused of systemic abuses.

    The killing of Camilo Catrillanca, 24, on Nov. 14 is the latest flash point in a fight over ancestral lands claimed by the Mapuche, which has led leaders in Chile to treat some indigenous land rights activists as terrorists — by for example, charging and trying them under antiterrorism laws.

    Mr. Catrillanca, a Mapuche, was riding a tractor home after working in the fields near the town of Ercilla, in the Araucanía region, about 370 miles south of Santiago, the capital, when an antiterrorism police team approached him, apparently suspecting that he had taken part in a car theft.

    According to a 15-year-old boy who was riding on the tractor, Mr. Catrillanca turned the tractor around and started driving away from the police when members of the squad, nicknamed the Jungle Commando, shot at them from an armored car.

    Mr. Catrillanca was killed by a shot to the back of the neck fired by one of the officers, the teenager said; the teenager was subsequently detained and beaten by the police. He also said that the officer who fired the fatal shot was wearing a helmet with a camera, from which he removed the memory card with video of the episode.

    Police officers initially claimed that they had not been wearing cameras at the time, but later acknowledged that they had, in fact, erased the video.

    In a message posted on his Twitter account, the Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera, pledged to "exhaust all means" to determine what had occurred. But he said he supported the right of the police "to defend themselves when they are attacked."

    After investigators for the public prosecutor determined that the police had destroyed the memory card, two high-ranking officers in Araucanía resigned and four officers directly involved in the killing were expelled from the police force.

    Days later, the regional governor, Luis Mayol, also resigned.

    In addition to the prosecutor's investigation, the National Institute for Human Rights has filed a criminal lawsuit, seeking murder, attempted murder and obstruction of justice charges against the Carabineros, as the national police force is called. Over the past seven years, the institute has filed more than 30 complaints over abusive police actions against the Mapuche. In May, it filed a criminal complaint against the national police force after four boys in Ercilla were stripped and interrogated.

    The death of Mr. Catrillanca spurred protests in several cities and rural areas, and on Nov. 18, hours after thousands of Mapuche attended his funeral, demonstrators banged pots and pans throughout Santiago and other cities, demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick and the dismantling of the Jungle Commando police unit.

    Since then, at least 20 protests, roadblocks and arson attacks have taken place in the Araucanía and Bío Bío regions in southern Chile, where most Mapuche live. Protests have continued almost daily in several cities, including the capital.

    Members of Congress, opposition leaders and rights groups are questioning the government strategy to address what is often referred to as the "Mapuche conflict."

    The Mapuche contend that over the past century they have lost a large portion of their ancestral territory, which straddles the border between Chile and Argentina, as the government pursued policies that divided indigenous communities, took control of lands for which the Mapuche did not have formal property titles, and encouraged the sale of such land to farmers, lumber and energy companies, and other private owners.

    Over the past couple of decades, Mapuche communities have occupied part of those lands, while others have sought to negotiate land transfers with the government.

    A small number of indigenous groups have resorted to violent actions, like arson attacks on corporate infrastructure, vehicles, private property and churches.

    Since 2001, some Mapuche have been tried and convicted under a dictatorship-era antiterrorism law. In 2014, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned Chile for violating the due process rights of eight Mapuche activists convicted under that law.

    Mr. Piñera, who assumed the presidency in March, has adopted a tougher stance. In June, he sent the Jungle Commando force, outfitted with tanks, helicopters, armored cars, drones and thermal cameras, to the most restive indigenous areas in southern Chile.

    The nickname comes from training that the units did in Colombia alongside the militarized special operations units of the Colombian National Police that fight organized crime in that country and are known as Jungle Commandos.

    Summoned before a congressional human rights commission last week to explain the events in the Araucanía region, Mr. Chadwick, the interior minister, said the situation was one of "extreme violence."

    Since 2013, he said, there have been 920 arson attacks, 924 armed confrontations, 509 attacks on the police and 542 roadblocks.

    "We are in a serious zone of conflict, different from the rest of the country," he said.

    Mr. Catrillanca lived in the Mapuche community of Temucuicui, which took over what the Mapuche claimed were ancestral lands and declared autonomous control over the territory over 15 years ago. The community comprises about 150 Mapuche families spread over a hilly rural area of around 5,000 acres.

    Jaime Huenchullan, a Temucuicui spokesman, said the government militarization of the area began around that same time, when some Mapuche started recovering their lands. Two years ago, he said, the number of special police forces deployed to the area rose significantly, reaching its peak with the arrival of the Jungle Commando force.

    "Over the past couple of months, the commandos have raided and harassed our communities almost on a daily basis," Mr. Huenchullan said in a phone interview. "They use weapons of war, fly helicopters low over the communities and stop and search people on rural roads. The 10 days before Camilo was killed, they entered Temucuicui four times; the last time they came in firing automatic weapons. On Sunday after the funeral, the entire area seemed to be under a state of siege."

    Opposition leaders and rights groups are calling for the dismantlement of the Jungle Commando units and a restructuring of the national police force, which has been widely criticized on several fronts.

    This year, the director of the police force, Gen. Bruno Villalobos, and the chief of intelligence, Gen. Gonzalo Blu, resigned after a public prosecutor revealed that officers had fabricated evidence against a group of Mapuche who were subsequently arrested.

    Hundreds of officers have been under investigation since last year over fraud and corruption that has resulted in losses of about $40 million of public money. At least 130 have been indicted.

    Mr. Catrillanca, the grandson of a traditional Mapuche leader, is the fourth Mapuche to be killed by the police since 2002. His community considered him a "weichafe," or warrior, of the Mapuche cause. He was the father of a 6-year-old girl, and his wife is expecting another child.

    He studied agriculture at the Pailahueque polytechnical high school, which is attended mainly by Mapuche from impoverished rural families. A few years ago, the school and its grounds were converted into a police station; it is now the Jungle Commando headquarters, leaving students in the area without a school.

    "The Mapuche's legitimate and historical demands for land and autonomy cannot be resolved through militarization," Mr. Huenchullan said. "What stands in the way, I believe, is racism, discrimination and hatred toward the Mapuche."



    2) Social Security Runs Short of Money and Ideas Fly on How to Repair It

    By Paula Span, November 26, 2018


    We've long heard warnings that the Social Security program that 52 million Americans rely on for their retirement benefits could one day run out of money.

    Analysts say that's not going to happen — if only because older people are such a powerful voting force — but this year the system has hit a worrisome milestone: the Social Security Administration reported that the retirement benefits paid out each month exceeded the tax revenues and interest that fund the program.

    That necessitated the first dip into the Social Security Trust Fund in 35 years. By 2034, the agency estimated, it will have depleted those reserves, and its revenues will cover only about four-fifths of its promised benefits.

    "There's a problem, but not a crisis," said Andrew Eschtruth, a researcher at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. "It's something policymakers have acted on before, and the program has always paid full benefits."

    Making adjustments to keep Social Security solvent, crucial as that is, represents only one of the issues confronting Congress. It could also correct outdated aspects of a program that serves nearly 90 percent of Americans over 65.

    "It's a good time to step back and try to make Social Security more effective," said Richard Johnson of the Urban Institute, author of a new report on raising the program's retirement age.

    The fixes will likely include changes designed to bring more money in and pay less out. Imposing a higher payroll tax or raising the level of earnings subject to Social Security taxes (as of January 1, they will apply to the first $132,900, already an increase) would bolster revenues.

    Money-saving measures could include reducing benefits for high earners and trimming the number of years that workers collect benefits by raising eligibility ages. Typically, such changes phase in for younger workers, not those already receiving Social Security or on the cusp of qualifying for benefits.

    The demographic imperatives underlying these options are evident. With baby boomers retiring, the system has more beneficiaries to support. Longer life expectancies — about five additional years over the past several decades — and improved health have meant that "people can certainly work longer than they could in 1960," Dr. Johnson said.

    Social Security now allows workers to claim benefits at age 62, though they'll receive bigger checks if they wait until their full retirement ages (66 to 67) or beyond. The average monthly payment this year: $1347.46.

    Working longer and claiming benefits later — trends already well underway — pay off in ways that extend beyond Social Security itself. "It's good for people, it's good for government tax revenues and it could fuel economic growth," Dr. Johnson said.

    But as his report points out, living longer doesn't always mean people can work longer. Higher-income professionals may opt to stay on the job, he said, but "health problems are increasingly concentrated among less educated workers and they're falling farther and farther behind" economically. Moreover, even those who could work often discover that "employers don't seem eager to hire 62 year olds."

    The Urban Institute report suggests raising the early entitlement age to 65 and the full retirement age to 70, but building in safeguards for those who can't work, perhaps through Social Security's other programs.

    The agency could provide a safety net by fattening benefits for the very low-income. It could expand its Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, restructure the way its disability insurance works or provide partial benefits for workers who aren't totally disabled.

    While some think tanks and congressional staffs are exploring ways to strengthen Social Security financially, others are looking into outmoded provisions that penalize beneficiaries, primarily women.

    Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, has introduced legislationintended to help widows, widowers and divorced spouses qualify for higher payments and receive benefits earlier if they're disabled.

    "This bill would boost the incomes of Social Security recipients who are most likely to be living in poverty, the majority of whom are women," Mr. Casey, ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, said in a statement.

    Speaking of women and Social Security, another effort would award work credit for those who temporarily leave the labor force because of caregiving responsibilities.

    In the 1930s, when the Social Security Act was passed and then amended, policymakers assumed that women stayed home while men worked. Spousal and survivors benefits represented an attempt to provide for wives (and minor children) who had no work histories of their own.

    "Major demographic changes over 80 years have led to fewer women qualifying for spousal benefits," said Mr. Eschtruth, co-author of a recent international survey of caregiver credits.

    The researchers found that 23 percent of Social Security dollars went to spousal and widows' benefits in 1960, compared to only 11 percent in 2016. That's partly because a growing proportion of women no longer marry, or have marriages that don't last 10 years, the threshold to qualify for divorced spouse benefits.

    It also reflects the fact that as women have poured into the work force, they may qualify for Social Security retirement benefits based on their own work histories. But because women earn less and are more likely to have spent uncompensated years as caregivers, their retirement benefits can still suffer.

    "To what extent does society place a market value on caregiving?" Mr. Eschtruth asked. The answer, at the moment, is that it barely does, at least in the United States.

    Most other industrialized countries credit some years of caregiving when calculating retirement benefits, the Boston College survey found. In the United Kingdom and Germany, those credits cover care of older people, as well as children.

    Legislation introduced by Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, last year would incorporate caregiving when calculating a person's future Social Security benefits. To qualify, a person would have had to provide 80 hours of care a month to a "parent, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, aunt or uncle" who needed assistance with daily activities. The caregiver would be credited with a modest wage for up to five years.

    Alas, none of these changes seems imminent.

    The last time Congress made major adjustments to Social Security, in 1983, "we didn't get change until the trust fund was at high risk of being unable to pay benefits," Dr. Johnson said. This round, too, might involve brinkmanship and delay, at least until after the presidential election.

    "Any kind of change is going to be painful for someone," he said, "so there's a big incentive for Congress to kick the can down the road."



    3) Why tear gas, lobbed at migrants on the southern border, is banned in warfare

    By Alex Horton, November 17, 2018


    Military recruits enter the chamber one by one and don protective masks. Tear gas swirls. Then, the order: Take off your mask and breathe. Eyes well and throats tighten, and men and women training for war uncontrollably gag.

    Nearly every uniform is coated in snot. Some recruits vomit.

    The exercise demonstrates to troops that their equipment works. It also shows, in a visceral way, what happens if an enemy targets U.S. forces with an agent such as tear gas, commonly known as CS gas — an aerosol compound considered a chemical weapon that has been outlawed on the battlefield by nearly every nation on Earth, including the United States.

    But as a riot-control agent, 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile is legal to use by both police and federal authorities in the United States and many other countries.

    On Sunday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents fired the chemical agent at mostly Honduran migrants attempting to cross into the United States from Tijuana, Mexico — an unusual escalation of lobbing weapons over an international border at unarmed civilians seeking refuge, drawing condemnation from Democrats.

    "I felt that my face was burning, and my baby fainted. I ran for my life and that of my children," Cindy Milla, a Honduran migrant with two children, told the Wall Street Journal.

    President Trump defended the use of tear gas on Monday, telling reporters it was deployed in response to "tremendous violence" during the confrontation with authorities.

    "Three Border Patrol people yesterday were very badly hurt through getting hit with rocks and stones," Trump said.

    But that contradicts a Monday statement from CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who said four of his agents were struck by rocks "but were wearing protective gear and did not suffer serious injuries."

    Trump also questioned why a parent would run into an area filling with tear gas, saying without evidence that some adults grabbed unrelated children "because they think they will have a certain status by having a child."

    Soon after, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that "the accepted use of nonlethal force (also used by the Obama Administration in 2013) prevented further injury to agents and a mass illegal rush across the border." The statement never mentioned tear gas.

    Chemical weapons such as CS gas are indiscriminate and "uniquely terrorizing in their application," which necessitated their ban in combat in 1993, said Kelsey Davenport, director of nonproliferation policy at the Washington-based Arms Control Association.

    Once launched in a volley or thrown into an area, chemical weapons cannot be controlled and can drift toward people who are not targets, Davenport told The Washington Post on Monday.

    Soon after, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that "the accepted use of nonlethal force (also used by the Obama Administration in 2013) prevented further injury to agents and a mass illegal rush across the border." The statement never mentioned tear gas.

    Chemical weapons such as CS gas are indiscriminate and "uniquely terrorizing in their application," which necessitated their ban in combat in 1993, said Kelsey Davenport, director of nonproliferation policy at the Washington-based Arms Control Association.

    Once launched in a volley or thrown into an area, chemical weapons cannot be controlled and can drift toward people who are not targets, Davenport told The Washington Post on Monday.

    In battle, that would include civilians and wounded troops, and even friendly soldiers if the winds shift. U.S. battle planners in World War I accounted for American casualties from U.S. forces' own asphyxiating gas attacks.

    On the border Sunday, officials described aggressive men rushing the fence, necessitating a response that included tear gas.

    But women and children, some in diapers, also came into contact with tear gas, raising questions about whether the use of gas was an appropriate response.

    Research has noted that an infant exposed to CS gas develops severe pneumonitis and requires a month of hospitalization. But the effects of tear gas on younger bodies is not well documented, said Anthony H. Cordesman, a biological and chemical weapons expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    "We don't have the ability to easily predict effects unless there is more history of use against children," Cordesman told The Post. "It looks like we're setting the precedent."

    CBP officials said 42 people, mostly men, were apprehended on the U.S. side of the border.

    A CBP spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on agency policies for when it is appropriate to use CS gas, whether there concerns about firing over the border, or how many rounds were fired. No serious injuries of migrants were reported.

    The effects of tear gas generally subside an hour or so after contact, making it one of the least dangerous chemical weapons that have been used in the last century. Weapons such as mustard gas and nerve agents have been used in combat with devastating results, and the Syrian government has used chlorine gas to terrorize civilians and separatists there.

    Photos of children and mothers fleeing from tear gas could sour public opinion on the border operation itself, Cordesman noted.

    "You don't want to escalate force to a level that discredits your operation," he said.

    The photos outraged Democrats critical of Trump's response to the migrant caravan. Gavin Newsom, the Democratic governor-elect of California, argued that images of kids sprinting from tear gas run counter to American ideals.

    "These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas," he tweeted. "Women and children who left their lives behind — seeking peace and asylum — were met with violence and fear. That's not my America. We're a land of refuge. Of hope. Of freedom. And we will not stand for this."

    Tear gas was used during protests in Ferguson, Mo., after the 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown, drawing similar rebukes from rights groups and citizens who said the police response was disproportionate.

    Middle Eastern and African countries typically use CS gas more potent than what U.S. authorities wield — with devastating results.

    In 2013, Egyptian police fired tear gas into the back of a vehicle carrying supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to prison, asphyxiating and killing 37 people. An attorney for the men posted photos of one corpse on Twitter with a face so darkened that families believed at first that the victims burned to death.

    Other people have been killed by inhaling CS gas or by the projectiles themselves.

    The first of subsequent chemical weapons bans occurred after World War I, Davenport said, after the international community was shocked by twisted corpses in the trenches and horrific wounds of troops who survived with blistered skin and scarred lungs.

    Tear gas was used during protests in Ferguson, Mo., after the 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown, drawing similar rebukes from rights groups and citizens who said the police response was disproportionate.

    Middle Eastern and African countries typically use CS gas more potent than what U.S. authorities wield — with devastating results.

    In 2013, Egyptian police fired tear gas into the back of a vehicle carrying supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to prison, asphyxiating and killing 37 people. An attorney for the men posted photos of one corpse on Twitter with a face so darkened that families believed at first that the victims burned to death.

    Other people have been killed by inhaling CS gas or by the projectiles themselves.

    The first of subsequent chemical weapons bans occurred after World War I, Davenport said, after the international community was shocked by twisted corpses in the trenches and horrific wounds of troops who survived with blistered skin and scarred lungs.

    In the modern era, the use of chemical weapons by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in war and against Iraqi civilians was a factor to push for a total ban of chemical agents, Davenport said.

    The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention banned not only the use of chemical weapons in war but also the production and stockpiling of weapons for 193 signatories, she said. Israel has signed but not ratified the convention. North Korea, Egypt and South Sudan have not taken action.



    4) Independent Autopsy of Transgender Asylum Seeker Who Died in ICE Custody Shows Signs of Abuse

    By Sandra E. Garcia, November 27, 2018


    Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez died in May while in custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

    A transgender woman who died in the custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency appeared to have been physically abused before her death in May from dehydration, along with complications from H.I.V., according to an independent autopsy released this week.

    The finding in the death of the woman, Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, 33, who was Honduran and had joined a migrant caravan seeking asylum in the United States, supported ICE's determination of her cause of death. Still, the conclusion that she was abused raised questions about her treatment during the 16 days she was held. ICE has maintained that she was not abused in its custody.

    Other detainees cited in the autopsy report recall that Ms. Hernandez experienced the symptoms of severe dehydration "over multiple days with no medical evaluation or treatment, until she was gravely ill," the report says.

    Ms. Hernandez crossed the border at the San Ysidro port of entry between San Diego and Tijuana on May 9, according to ICE. She died on May 25 at a hospital in New Mexico.

    The independent autopsy was performed by Dr. Kris Sperry, a forensic pathologist hired by the Transgender Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights group that is suing ICE on behalf of Ms. Hernandez.

    Dr. Sperry found that while there was no evidence of bruising on her skin, there was deep hemorrhaging of the soft tissues and muscles over her ribs.

    The first autopsy of Ms. Hernandez was conducted by the New Mexico medical examiner's office on behalf of ICE and has not been released. ICE said that, about a week before her death, she had been taken to a hospital with symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with H.I.V.

    "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cannot speak to the validity of the private autopsy," Danielle Bennett, a spokeswoman for ICE, said in a statement. "However, allegations that she was abused in ICE custody are false."

    Ms. Hernandez arrived on May 16 at the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, N.M., where she was detained in the transgender unit, according to ICE. The next day, she was taken to Cibola General Hospital and then transferred by air ambulance to Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, where she stayed in intensive care until she died. ICE recorded the preliminary cause of death as cardiac arrest.​

    "They took her and we would wait for her to come back every day," said Marbeli Bustillo, 23, a fellow asylum seeker who met Ms. Hernandez in the "hielera," or "ice boxes," where people crossing the border are held before they are processed by ICE, and who was held along with Ms. Hernandez at the Cibola County Correctional Center.

    "We wondered every day where they might have put her, why we didn't see her anymore," Ms. Bustillo added in a phone interview from Boston, where she moved after gaining asylum. "We never saw her again after the doctor took her."

    In the past, transgender women detained by ICE were held with male detainees. In 2015, the agency established new guidelines for detaining transgender women because of how vulnerable they are in detention centers. There has also been a spike in the number of openly L.G.B.T.people from Central American countries and Mexico seeking asylum in the United States because of the violence they often face in their home countries.

    "Her death was entirely preventable," Lynly Egyes, the Transgender Law Center's director of litigation, said at a news conference. "In the final days of her life, she was transferred from California to Washington to New Mexico, shackled for days on end. If she was lucky, she was given a bottle of water to drink. Her cause of death was dehydration and complications related to H.I.V."

    The independent autopsy was likely to face scrutiny over Dr. Sperry's credibility. He was the chief medical examiner for the state of Georgia until 2015, when he stepped down after The Atlanta Journal-Constitutionreported that he had taken on hundreds of private cases while working for the state.

    "We decided to go with Dr. Sperry because he's good at his job," Andrew Free, an immigration and civil rights lawyer who is representing the Hernandez family, said in an interview.

    The Cibola County Correctional Center is operated by CoreCivic, one of the largest operators of private prisons in the country with revenue last year of $1.8 billion. Privately operated prisons have been under scrutiny for their handling of immigrant detainees, especially migrant children.

    "We take the health and well-being of those entrusted to our care very seriously," Rodney King, a spokesman for CoreCivic, said in a statement. "We're also committed to providing a safe environment for transgender detainees."

    Ms. Hernandez was seeking asylum from persecution, discrimination and violence, according to Edgar Reyes, 19, who met Ms. Hernandez in Tijuana while they were both in the caravan.

    "You could see the suffering she was running from on her face," Mr. Reyes said. "She would share her struggles with all of us. We were always united, we always supported each other, and I understood her because I am a gay man, and Honduran like she was."

    According to ICE, Ms. Hernandez illegally crossed the border into the United States twice between 2005 and 2009. In April 2006, she was convicted of theft in Dallas, the agency said. In May 2009, she was convicted of lewd, immoral, indecent conduct and prostitution, also in Dallas, according to ICE. Both times she was deported, Ms. Hernandez was allowed to voluntarily return to Mexico because she claimed Mexican nationality to immigration officials.

    In January 2014, she entered the United States a third time before being arrested and deported two months later.

    This time, Ms. Hernandez wanted to settle down, Ms. Bustillo said.

    "She would tell me she wanted to get married, work a blue-collar job and be a different person this time," Ms. Bustillo said. "This time around she had a dream."

    Ms. Hernandez spoke to friends about wanting to see her brother who lived in Houston.

    "She would talk about her brother every day," Ms. Bustillo said. "It is a big deal to be trans and accepted by your family, and he didn't accept her but he wasn't going to kick her out of his house. He tolerated her."

    Ms. Hernandez was known by her friends who traveled through Central America and Mexico with her as a humble, sincere person who loved to sing along to the Mexican bands Los Temerarios and Los Bukis, and as someone who had great taste in makeup.

    The independent autopsy hinted at that attention to personal care, detailing the remnants of glittery rose-colored polish on Ms. Hernandez's toenails.​

    "When we traveled, she was always concerned about her coffee-colored makeup bag," Ms. Bustillo said. "The last time I remember talking to her before we crossed the border, I asked her to let me borrow her eyeliner."

    She added: "I gave her back the eyeliner. I never got to use it."



    5) For Migrants on Both Sides of the Border, the One Constant Is a Long Wait

    By Miriam Jordan, Kirk Semple and Caitlin Dickerson, November 27, 2018


    Amanda, 1, holds onto her mother, Yarely Elizabeth Palomo, at a shelter on the United States side of the border.

    SAN DIEGO — In an overcrowded shelter at a sports complex south of the Mexican border, nearly 6,000 migrants from Central America have been waiting in increasingly squalid conditions — and with an increasing sense of desperation — to cross into the United States.

    On the other side of the border, though, many of those who have managed to successfully make it across have found that the weeks they spent in Mexico trying to enter the United States have led to even more challenges ahead.

    They are waiting, too.

    Yarely Elizabeth Palomo, who said she set out from Honduras to the United States six months ago with her young daughter, had to wait behind hundreds of other people for processing when she arrived at the border in Tijuana, and waited two weeks for her number to be called by American immigration authorities.

    On Tuesday, two days after a tense standoff in which American authorities fired tear gas at hundreds of migrants who tried to storm the border fence, Ms. Palomo sat in a makeshift shelter in San Diego set up for migrants who have been slowly trickling through the border. She said she was uncertain where she was headed or whether she would be allowed to stay after telling the American authorities about the gang violence that she said drove her from her home.

    "I'm here for now. I'm not sure what comes next," she said.

    Most of those at the shelter were not given the traditional screening interviews at the border and said they were not even sure when they would be given the opportunity to apply for asylum in the United States.

    "I tried to ask for asylum at the border. They didn't let me," said Víctor Manuel Galdamez, a migrant from El Salvador who was waiting at the shelter. "I am still waiting to ask. I have no idea when they will let me."

    The long wait times are partly the product of a Trump administration initiative known as "metering," which limits the number of people who can be processed through ports of entry each day. Immigration authorities at the San Ysidro border crossing, near San Diego, said they were able to process about 100 migrants each day, though rates have dipped as low as 40 a day. At this rate, it could be five weeks before the first arrivals from a caravan of migrants from Central America could have their interviews for admission to the United States.

    For many of those gathered in Tijuana, the wait has become intolerable. On Sunday, several hundred migrants made a run for the border, attempting to scale the fence before American immigration authorities repelled them with volleys of tear gas. Nearly 100 people were arrested by the Mexican authorities and face possible deportation for their participation in the events.

    "We know the United States has the resources and capacity to process these asylum seekers much faster," said Kate Clark, director of immigration at Jewish Family Service of San Diego, which runs an emergency shelter for migrants. "The U.S. government is choosing not to process them."

    Some of those waiting in Mexico have begun to despair.

    "The caravan has ended here," José Mejia, 37, said as he waited — in another line — to register with the United Nations to return voluntarily to Honduras. This was his sixth attempt to enter the United States, he said, and he had seen enough.

    "People have a false vision, of something that will never happen," he said. "The United States is not going to let any of these people in."

    Most of those who had been released to shelters in San Diego this week were migrants who arrived with children. Most of the migrants who crossed alone were being held in detention, and their progress through the system was less clear, said a number of immigration lawyers who had gathered in San Diego to help the new arrivals navigate the asylum process.

    Those who hope to remain in the United States must convince American immigration officials that they are worthy of protection, and avoid those factors that can be used to knock them out of qualification, which have grown more plentiful under President Trump.

    By the time their individual Judgment Day has come, which can take years, some of the migrants will have paid lawyers to shepherd them through the process. Others will try with no preparation at all, or by drawing on small bits of advice picked up along the journey from smugglers and other migrants.

    Even those who prepare for the evaluations say that the process can be grueling, and the results counterintuitive. Ultimately, the majority will be unsuccessful and sent home. Historically, only 20 percent of cases are approved.

    "If you don't know how to present your case, you're going to lose," said Eileen Blessinger, an immigration defense lawyer who averages about half-a-dozen asylum cases a week in immigration court in Arlington, Va.

    For many, the process will begin with an interview with an American asylum officer to determine whether they have a "credible fear" of returning to their home country. Those who pass the interview will be allowed to proceed with their case. The less fortunate will be swiftly deported.

    In court, the migrants can present documentary evidence of their oppression and call on witnesses to support their stories. But they will also be cross-examined by government lawyers, who will look for discrepancies and try to poke holes in their stories.

    Since taking office, Mr. Trump has added demands to the process for seeking asylum at each stage, beginning with the "credible fear" interview. Earlier this month, he announced that people would only be able to request asylum in certain places, though that policy has been temporarily blocked by a federal judgeA new proposal under consideration would require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are adjudicated.

    In Mexico, though the mood was less tense than it had been over the weekend, the conditions had become grim.

    Nearly every square foot of the increasingly overcrowded sports complex in which the migrants are housed — originally intended for only about 300 people — is covered in a checkerboard of shelters, ranging from high-tech donated camping tents to makeshift bunkers fashioned out of blankets and plastic sheeting.

    Everyone is living cheek by jowl. They bathe under trickles of water that fall from temporary showers near rows of portable toilets that line the outfield fence of one of the baseball diamonds. They survive on donated food distributed from trucks out front.

    "It's very difficult because of the number of people, there isn't food, the number of toilets are insufficient," said David Vélez, a Honduran migrant, as he whiled away the morning in a small tent where he had been sleeping with two friends. "There isn't sufficient space but we try to adjust to the facilities we have."

    Among those thinking of giving up and returning home was Enoc Melgar, 18, from Santa Barbara, Honduras. He had planned to seek asylum in the United States, but when he learned how long he would have to wait, he decided to give up and perhaps try again in the future — though not until the commotion surrounding the caravan had dissipated.

    "Ever since we left our country, we thought that everything would turn out well," he said. "But here we see that we're not going to accomplish anything, so it's better to go back to our country."

    Adrián Muñoz Mejia was also having misgivings after Sunday's confrontation.

    "We've had a great opportunity, but we have to think carefully about what we'll do next," he said. "Because if they grab us on the other side, that's the end to our aspirations."

    Miriam Jordan reported from San Diego, Kirk Semple from Tijuana and Caitlin Dickerson from New York. Contributing reporting were Ron Nixon in San Ysidro, Calif., and Maya Averbuch in Tijuana.



    6) How a Push to Legalize Pot in N.J. Became a Debate on Race and Fairness

    By Nick Corasaniti, November 28, 2018


    Activists rallied in support of legalized pot in New Jersey in 2014. This year, creating an efficient process for tossing out past convictions has become central to gaining support from some lawmakers.

    TRENTON — The debate in the New Jersey Legislature over whether to legalize recreational marijuana is unexpectedly turning into a wrenching discussion about fairness in the criminal justice system and the role of race in hundreds of thousands of drug convictions over the decades.

    As lawmakers edge closer to approving a marijuana legalization bill, they are also weighing a groundbreaking companion measure that would clear the criminal records of many people with drug offenses. Ten other states and Washington have decriminalized recreational marijuana, but none has gone so far in addressing historic inequities in drug sentencing in tandem with legalization measures.

    Supporters of the proposal in New Jersey to expunge criminal records say strict drug laws in the state have long unfairly targeted minorities: A black New Jersey resident is three times more likely to be arrested on marijuana-related offenses than a white resident, a recent study found.

    As Trenton begins to debate a marijuana bill approved on Monday by a joint legislative committee, creating an efficient process for tossing out past convictions has become central to gaining support from lawmakers who represent predominantly African-American communities.

    "If expungement wasn't a part of this, legalization wouldn't happen. They wouldn't have the votes for it," said Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley, the chairman of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. "We represent minority communities and communities who have been impacted the most. This is very important to us.

    "There would be no way that I would support legalization of marijuana without expungement."

    The bill that would make recreational marijuana legal also would pave the way for those with past convictions for small amounts of marijuana to have their records wiped clean. But some lawmakers want to go much further.

    Mr. Holley and Senator Sandra B. Cunningham, a Democrat from Jersey City, are backing a plan aimed at clearing more serious drug convictions, including low-level sales of drugs other than marijuana, such as cocaine and heroin. Their proposal would also erase some other nonviolent convictions.

    "When I ride through parts of my district, I see people who are standing outside and standing on the corners for years because 10, 15, 20 years ago they made a mistake and were incarcerated and are still paying for it," said Ms. Cunningham, who represents a largely urban portion of Hudson County.

    The goal of the expungement effort is to address convictions that are hampering people who have stayed clean and out of trouble after their conviction, such as a recovered heroin addict.

    Defendants would be eligible to have their records cleared if they have had no convictions in 10 years.

    "At some point, you have to deal with people who have larger issues than marijuana," Ms. Cunningham said.

    "People who my bill is referencing are people who have not been in trouble for 10 years or more, who have jobs and have gone to school, even have families in some cases, and they still have some cases hanging over their head. We really want to give them an opportunity to become as productive as they can."

    A handful of other states, including California and Colorado, have pursued similar changes after passing laws that legalized marijuana. New Jersey stands apart, however, in that it is seeking to link a sweeping criminal justice reform plan to the legalization of the drug.

    "Trying to make sure that expungement is done statewide really ensures that they are at the forefront of this effort," said Dianna Houenou, the policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. "Doing this at the outset of legalization, instead of as an afterthought, makes New Jersey a leader."

    But the difficulty of establishing a system for tossing out old convictions — and cutting through the red tape involved in antiquated record-keeping and laborious court proceedings, sometimes involving multiple jurisdictions — has injected uncertainty into the overall effort to legalize marijuana.

    Some opponents of marijuana legalization argue that the issue is only being raised to prop up support for the commercial sale of cannabis.

    "I think it's pretty clear that this bill is not about social justice — it's about money for this industry," said Kevin A. Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national group that opposes making recreational marijuana legal. "Expungement has been a complete afterthought and something to appease certain groups to get their support for the larger legalization bill."

    Legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Jersey had seemed like an inevitability when Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat who had made it a central campaign promise, took office this year and partnered with a Legislature that had voted in favor of it in the past. But divisions between Mr. Murphy and his fellow Democratic leaders, particularly Stephen M. Sweeney, the Senate president, over taxes and regulatory control have hampered progress.

    Even if a compromise is reached, support in the Senate is thin, with a handful of Democrats opposing legalization. Mr. Murphy and Mr. Sweeney will likely need the support of nearly every other Democrat and possibly some Republicans to gain the 21-vote majority needed to pass the legislation.

    The marijuana legalization process is spread among a package of bills. One would make recreational marijuana legal for anyone 21 or older; another would expand the use of medical marijuana; and a third would dismiss some criminal convictions.

    Mr. Murphy has said repeatedly that his support for legalizing marijuana is rooted primarily in social justice. But he has declined to say whether he supports this specific package of bills, as disagreements over taxes and regulation remain. His office did not return requests for comment on Tuesday.

    A provision in the legalization bill would allow anyone previously convicted of marijuana possession to have it cleared from their record. Currently, those convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana must wait three to five years to be eligible to have their conviction dismissed.

    "Ours would make eligibility for all of those people automatic and immediate," said Assemblyman Nicholas P. Scutari, a Democrat who is among those sponsoring the legalization bill.

    People with convictions would still have to go through an application process. But Mr. Scutari, who represents Union County, said he was working with officials on a way to simplify the process and eliminate onerous fees.

    Despite her support for the broader criminal justice reform bill, Ms. Cunningham said she was initially hesitant to support the legalization of recreational marijuana. But after listening to impassioned testimony on Monday about the impact of marijuana and drug-related arrests during a legislative hearing, Ms. Cunningham said she had changed her mind.

    "I became a yes vote listening to the testimony that I heard today," Ms. Cunningham said.

    Still, opposition to the legalization effort among other African-American leaders remains strong.

    Senator Ronald L. Rice, one of the state's longest-tenured black lawmakers, said he fears that the increased prevalence of the drug will harm heavily minority communities.

    "This bill is being sold under the auspices of social justice, but it's really about money," Mr. Rice said.

    Bishop Jethro James Jr., the senior pastor of Paradise Baptist Church in Newark, questioned whether making the drug legal would do anything to help close the racial disparity in drug-related arrests. He also warned of unintended consequences.

    "No one is talking and telling our people — and I hear it every day in the streets of Newark and Paterson — that if you smoke cannabis, it will not preclude PSE & G, law enforcement, or any other group, from stopping you from working there," Mr. James said during Monday's hearing.

    But as the push to legalize marijuana by the end of the year enters a critical final month, some legislators are embracing the expungement campaign.

    "Someone could prove to society that they made a terrible mistake and that for 10 years they've been clean and working hard for their mistakes,'' said Senator Paul Sarlo, a Democrat who represents Bergen County. "They deserve a second chance.''



    7) Lawyer for Snowden in Hong Kong Says He Left City Under Pressure

    By Austin Ramzy, November 28, 2018


    Robert Tibbo, a lawyer who represented Edward J. Snowden when he fled to Hong Kong in 2013, photographed this month in Marseille, France. "My career is over in Hong Kong," he said.

    HONG KONG — A human rights lawyer who represented the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden when he fled to Hong Kong says pressure from the local authorities, the bar association and legal aid groups have made it impossible for him to keep working in the semiautonomous Chinese city.

    The lawyer, Robert Tibbo, is a Canadian national who left Hong Kong last year and is currently living in France. He did not disclose his move for nearly a year, fearing it would harm the cases of his clients in Hong Kong, particularly asylum seekers who sheltered Mr. Snowden during his 2013 stay.

    Mr. Snowden, who leaked top-secret information on United States surveillance programs that had monitored the communications of hundreds of millions around the world, faces charges in the United States, including two counts under the Espionage Act. He now lives in exile in Russia.

    The revelation in September 2016 that Mr. Snowden had stayed with asylum seekers brought international attention to the status of such people in Hong Kong, where they are unable to work, are ineligible for permanent residency and face minuscule odds of being approved for resettlement in a third country.

    Mr. Tibbo, 54, says he is being punished for bringing international attention to the difficult circumstances asylum seekers face.

    "The bottom line is if I hadn't helped Mr. Snowden and the refugees, I'd be working in Hong Kong right now," he said.

    But his critics in Hong Kong portray him as a fame seeker who potentially endangered the asylum seekers by publicizing their identities.

    Mr. Tibbo's disclosure that he has left follows Hong Kong's expulsion of an editor for the Financial Times in October, the first such move against a foreign journalist in the city. While the cases are very different, they both add to growing concerns about the decline of Hong Kong's singular status in China as a place where political and civil rights are far more robust than in the rest of the country.

    Unlike Victor Mallet, the Financial Times journalist, Mr. Tibbo left on his own accord. But he says that he did so because he feared arrest.

    "My career is over in Hong Kong," he said. "I'm unwilling and unable to come back unless I'm sure I will be safe and not get locked up. I want to help my clients, but I can't do that from jail."

    Mr. Tibbo's problems mushroomed in late 2016 after some asylum seekers said the Sri Lankan police had come to the city to search for people who had put up Mr. Snowden, most of whom were from Sri Lanka.

    The Hong Kong police detained several of the same people the Sri Lankan police had questioned, asking them about Mr. Snowden, according to Mr. Tibbo and one of the detainees, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation by the authorities.

    They also began asking questions about Mr. Tibbo. He said he feared the police were planning to accuse him of persuading the refugees to concoct or distort their statements about the Sri Lankan officers.

    The Hong Kong police said they had conducted an investigation, but "the results suggested no evidence supporting any criminal offense and no arrest was made."

    Mr. Tibbo also faces complaints to the Hong Kong Bar Association from anonymous lawyers and the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

    Two letters signed "Large Group of Exasperated Barristers" accuse Mr. Tibbo of endangering the asylum seekers who sheltered Mr. Snowden and undermining their cases by providing their personal information to news outlets and allowing them to be photographed.

    The letters also say he contributed to a news story's "disgraceful touting and hagiography" of himself and criticize him for being photographed with and visiting Mr. Snowden in Moscow.

    "Our members serve asylum seekers without going through this process of self-aggrandizement," said Robert Pang, a vice chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association.

    Mr. Tibbo said in a written reply to the Bar Association that he was "appalled" it was proceeding on the basis of anonymous complaints, which meant he did not know who exactly was taking issue with him.

    Mr. Pang dismissed concerns about the lack of names. "The matter is not about who complains against him, it's about his actions," he said.

    Mr. Tibbo also says he has not been getting paid what he is owed by his primary Hong Kong employers, two bodies that arrange legal representation for clients who cannot afford it.

    "Suddenly at the same time they stop paying his bills and they basically have bankrupted Mr. Tibbo," said Pascal Paradis, executive director of Lawyers Without Borders Canada, a group that has been helping Mr. Tibbo.

    Mr. Tibbo says his problems with the Legal Aid Department, a government body in Hong Kong, began in September 2016, and that they have since offered to pay him half of what they did before.

    The department said Mr. Tibbo's fees were assessed according to established procedure and he was never treated any differently from any other counsel doing legal aid work. The other body he worked for, the Duty Lawyer Service, which is publicly funded but has independent operational management, said it would not discuss individual cases.

    In addition, Hong Kong's immigration department sought to have Mr. Tibbo removed from many of his cases, including those of the seven Snowden asylum seekers, citing his requests for extensions in 2016 and 2017. During that period, about 30 cases that had been dormant were reactivated, creating a huge workload that Mr. Tibbo said seemed designed to put pressure on him and his clients.

    The immigration department said it had streamlined procedures to clear out a backlog of asylum cases that had swelled in recent years.

    Despite the complaints from some of Mr. Tibbo's colleagues, his clients describe him as a dedicated advocate for their interests.

    "If he is your lawyer, you feel safety," said Vanessa Mae Bondalian Rodel, an asylum seeker from the Philippines who took in Mr. Snowden in 2013.

    Mr. Paradis said the confluence of problems that Mr. Tibbo faces "are indicative of a big question mark about what is the rationale for all of this."

    In March 2017 the claims of all seven of the asylum seekers connected to Mr. Snowden were rejected. They have appealed.

    The Hong Kong government gives a small stipend to asylum seekers, but since 2016 that has been cut for the Snowden group. Now almost all their immediate needs are covered by For the Refugees, an organization set up to apply for asylum for them in Canada, said Marc-André Séguin, the group's president.

    If Hong Kong rejects their appeal before the Canadian authorities rule, the asylum seekers could be sent to their home countries, where they could face dire fates. One of them, Ajith Pushpakumara, said he was tortured for deserting the military in Sri Lanka and could face the death penalty if he returns.

    "It's a race against the clock," Mr. Séguin said. "If their Hong Kong application is rejected and they return to their home countries, all the work we've done for a visa to Canada becomes moot. It's essentially death by delay."



    8) 'This Is Abominable': Trump's DHS Using Info Coaxed From 'Scared, Jailed' Children to Locate, Arrest, and Deport Families

    By Julia Conley, November 28, 2018


    A Honduran child plays at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center after recently crossing the U.S.-Mexico border with his father. Immigration authorities have been mining children in U.S. custody for information about their family members in order to detain and deport them, according to a letter signed by more than 100 national groups demaning an end to the practice. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    In order to entrap families once they come forward to claim minors who have been detained after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, the Trump administration is using information coaxed out of the traumatized children who have been forced to enter government custody, according to more than 100 national groups that denounced the practice on Wednesday.

    In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday, 112 groups—including the ACLU, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Legal Aid Justice Center—demanded that the administration stop using information obtained during interviews that all 14,000 children currently in U.S. custody undergo upon entering detention centers, to find, arrest, and deport their family members in the United States.

    The groups argue the administration is violating children's and immigrants' rights as well as privacy laws by extracting and using the information this way.

    "Children are being turned into bait to gather unprecedented amounts of information from immigrant communities," Becky Wolozin, an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center, told the Associated Press.

     Thanks to an information-sharing agreement signed by the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) just before the administration's family separation policy went into effect last spring, DHS has access to family information gleaned from children which it can cross-reference with fingerprints that all potential family sponsors must turn over to the agency before children can be released into their custody. DHS is using the fingerprints to determine family members' immigration status.

    As Common Dreams has reported, the use of the fingerprinting system has caused fewer families to come forward to claim children, leaving their young family members languishing in detention centers for months on end and causing the number of children in U.S. custody to explode. This has prolonged a crisis that human rights groups and child welfare experts have decried as a "moral and medical catastrophe," wrote the groups—one that will "cause irreparable harm," and carry "lifelong consequences for children." 

    So far, more than 40 family members have been arrested and threatened with deportation based on information shared by the two agencies, according toImmigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

    Regardless of how the agency heads may have rationalized the practice, the groups wrote, "This is the reality: Your agencies are taking scared, jailed children who are desperate to see their families, asking them to identify their relatives so that they can be reunited—and then using that data to find, arrest, and deport those families."

    In some cases, according to the letter, children have been led to believe that the information they share about their family members would not be used against the family.

    On social media, advocates who signed the letter drew attention to the system, calling for an end to what they called the Trump administration's "Parent Trap."

    Meanwhile, the AP obtained a memo on Tuesday showing that all 2,100 staff members at a detention camp for teenage migrants were able to work without submitting to criminal background and fingerprint checks—making oversight of children's own families far more rigorous than those for people charged with supervising children in the facility.



    9) Are Civics Lessons a Constitutional Right? These Students Are Suing for Them

    By Dana Goldstein, November 28, 2018


    "I don't know what I'm supposed to know," said Aleita Cook, 17, one of the students who are suing Rhode Island, saying the state violated their constitutional rights by failing to prepare them for citizenship.

    Aleita Cook, 17, has never taken a class in government, civics or economics. In the two social studies classes she took in her four years at a technical high school in Providence, R.I. — one in American history, the other in world history — she learned mostly about wars, she said.

    Left unanswered were many practical questions she had about modern citizenship, from how to vote to "what the point of taxes are." As for politics, she said, "What is a Democrat, a Republican, an independent? Those things I had to figure out myself."

    Now she and other Rhode Island public school students and parents are filing a federal lawsuit against the state on Thursday, arguing that failing to prepare children for citizenship violates their rights under the United States Constitution.

    They say the state has not equipped all of its students with the skills to "function productively as civic participants" capable of voting, serving on a jury and understanding the nation's political and economic life.

    The state allows local school districts to decide for themselves whether and how to teach civics, and the lawsuit says that leads to big discrepancies. Students in affluent towns often have access to a rich curriculum and a range of extracurricular activities, like debate teams and field trips to the State Legislature, that are beyond the reach of poorer schools.

    The lawyers for the plaintiffs hope the case will have implications far beyond Rhode Island, and potentially prompt the Supreme Court to reconsider its 45-year-old ruling that equal access to a quality education is not a constitutionally guaranteed right.

    "Our real hope for reinvigorating our democratic institutions comes with the young people and the next generation," said Michael Rebell, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs. "What we're really seeking is for the courts, especially the Supreme Court, to take a strong stance on getting back to first principles on what the school system was established for in the United States."

    Horace Mann, an early advocate of compulsory public schooling, wrote in 1847 that education's purpose was to foster "conscientious jurors, true witnesses, incorruptible voters."

    More recently, the retired Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter have called for a revival of civic instruction. Since the election of President Trump, politicians from both parties have proposed civics lessons as a way to combat political ignorance and division.

    The case is riding a wave of bipartisan anxiety about a national lack of civic engagement and knowledge, from voter participation rates that are among the lowest in the developed world to pervasive disinformation on social media.

    Fewer than half the states hold schools accountable for teaching civics, according to a review in 2016 by the Education Commission of the States. Only 23 percent of American eighth graders were proficient in civics on the 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test that included questions on the Constitution and the roles of the various branches of government.

    Rhode Island does not require schools to offer courses in government or civics, does not require standardized tests in those subjects or in history, and does not provide training for teachers in civics, the lawsuit says.

    Beyond civics classes, the suit also argues that the state's neediest children, particularly Latino immigrants and students with special needs, are failing to acquire the basic academic skills they need to effectively exercise their rights to free speech and voter participation. Among eighth grade English-language learners in 39 states, those in Rhode Island ranked last in math and second to last in reading on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

    The Rhode Island Department of Education declined to comment on the allegations in the suit.

    The argument Aleita's lawyers are making will be a heavy legal lift, as federal courts have, for four decades, been hostile to education inequality claims.

    In the 1973 case San Antonio v. Rodriguez, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the State of Texas had not violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by funding schools in low-income neighborhoods at lower levels than schools in more affluent areas. In July, a federal judge in Michigan declined to challenge that precedent, ruling that "access to literacy" was not a constitutional right for schoolchildren in Detroit.

    The plaintiffs' lawyers in the Rhode Island case believe that, by focusing on civics, they can take advantage of an opening in the Rodriguez ruling. Justice Lewis F. Powell, writing for the majority, agreed with a dissenter in the case, Justice Thurgood Marshall, that educational inequality might rise to the level of a constitutional violation if it prevented students from exercising their "right to speak and to vote."

    Still, the difficulty of overcoming the Rodriguez precedent has led many education advocates to forgo federal courts in favor of state courts.

    Nearly every state constitution guarantees the right to an adequate education. But "there is broad skepticism, even on the part of many legal liberals, that the Constitution of the United States gets involved in these sorts of matters," said Justin Driver, a law professor at the University of Chicago and an expert on education litigation.

    Mr. Rebell, the plaintiffs' lawyer, represented New York students for 13 years in a state-level case, which led to a landmark 2003 ruling in the students' favor over equitable school funding. But he said he continued to believe in the importance of a federal strategy. He said the civics case would make a novel, and nonpartisan, appeal to the nation's most prominent judges and justices.

    "Schools are the place where students can, and should, learn about democratic institutions, their importance, their values and disposition," Mr. Rebell said. "I'm banking on the fact that what you might call establishment Republicans like John Roberts will really look at this on the merits, and will consider the broad implications."

    Chief Justice Roberts recently rebuked Mr. Trump for referring to a judge who ruled against the administration's asylum policy as an "Obama judge" — and in doing so, offered a civics lesson of sorts on the independence of the judiciary.

    History and civics have become curricular "stepchildren," said Luther Spoehr, a professor of history and education at Brown University in Providence, because of the pressure on schools to raise test scores in reading and math and prepare children for work in an unforgiving economy.

    Though he acknowledged that standardized tests are unpopular with many parents and teachers, Professor Spoehr said that without higher-stakes exams in government or history, schools would probably never give priority to those subjects.

    "What's taught is what's tested," he said.

    Even if the Rhode Island lawsuit is not legally successful, he said he hoped it would create political pressure for better education in citizenship.

    Aleita Cook, the plaintiff, is finally getting a powerful civics lesson by participating in the case. Though she will soon graduate from the Providence Career & Technical Academy, with plans to study photography in college, she said she wanted Rhode Island public schools to improve for her siblings' sake.

    "I don't know what I'm supposed to know," she said. "We're hoping we win this lawsuit and change it to where my younger brothers can have a really good education, and go into adulthood knowing how to vote, how to do taxes, and learning basic things that you should know going into the real world."



    10) Wildfires Burn Across Eastern Australia in Sweltering Heat Wave

    By Daniel Victor, November 29, 2018


    An undated photo released by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services showing fires north of Bundaberg in northeastern Australia.

    More than 100 wildfires burned across Queensland in eastern Australia on Thursday, the second day of evacuations and rapidly changing conditions affecting thousands of people during a sweltering heat wave.

    Conditions improved on Thursday, but residents remain in danger as the heat wave is expected to continue for days, said Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland's premier.

    On Wednesday, when there were as many as 190 fires, the government rated the danger "catastrophic" for the first time in the state's history. Schools were closed and there were scattered reports of property damage, but there were no immediate reports of any deaths.

    "What we experienced yesterday was off the charts," Ms. Palaszczuk said Thursday. "No one has ever recorded these kinds of conditions ever in the history of Queensland."

    In Gracemere, by the eastern coast, residents were ordered to evacuate within hours on Wednesday. They were allowed to return on Thursday after firefighters succeeded in saving the town's homes.

    "Evacuating a town of eight and a half thousand people in just over a couple of hours is pretty extraordinary," Ms. Palaszczuk said. "Everyone listened, everyone got out, and thankfully everyone is safe."

    Elsewhere, the authorities woke up 50 residents in Campwin Beach at 2 a.m. Thursday and forced them to evacuate, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

    "It was just heat and people running up the street and it was just crazy," said Vicky Crichton, a resident.

    As fires spread on Thursday, the Queensland police and fire services used Twitter and Facebook to frequently update residents on the paths of often unpredictable fires. They occasionally instructed residents of certain communities to "LEAVE NOW" or "LEAVE IMMEDIATELY."



    11) Images From the Aftermath of a Rust Belt Police Shooting

    By joe Sexton, November 29, 2018


    Heather Poole, left, and Natasha Ault with a painting of Mr. Williams in McKees Rocks, Pa.

    Deadly police shootings are an unfortunate staple of American journalism. I've covered a bunch of them in my time as a newspaperman, as both a reporter and an editor: Sixty-six-year-old Eleanor Bumpurs, killed by a white cop in the Bronx; 13-year-old Nicholas Heyward Jr., armed only with a toy gun, shot dead by a black officer while playing cops and robbers in a Brooklyn housing project. Then there was Ray Cannon, a newly married white cop, shot between the eyes by a black teenager during a stickup in a bicycle shop; or Omar Edwards, a black cop who was a star running back on the Police Department's football team, killed by a white colleague as Officer Edwards, in plain clothes and with pistol drawn, chased a thief down a Harlem street.

    All the stories are painful, each in its own way. And so I had tried over the years to force myself to be open to nuance, to be suspicious of cliché, to be prepared for surprise.

    Then, a former colleague at The Times called my attention to a 2016 police shooting in West Virginia that didn't seem to fit any familiar category. A young black man had been killed. A young white officer had been fired. That was, on its face, unusual enough. But the story got stranger: The cop who was kicked off the force had never fired his gun.

    The photographer Luke Sharrett and I set off to Weirton, W. Va., to report a story that both of us had a hard time getting our heads around. Turns out, Mr. Sharrett had spent lots of time in Weirton, shooting pictures of the fading steel town, 30 minutes outside Pittsburgh. Weirton, a town of 20,000 or so, was visually majestic in its state of decline. Still, its officials liked to boast it was one of the safest small cities in America.

    The fatal shooting took place in 3 a.m. darkness outside a modest little home on Marie Avenue in Weirton. The young African-American man was R.J. Williams, 23. He had had a fight with his ex-girlfriend, with whom he shared a 5-month-old baby boy. His ex, Bethany Gilmer, had called 911. Mr. Williams, who had a history of mental health issues, told Ms. Gilmer that he was going to wave an unloaded gun at the police when they got there just so they would kill him.

    The woman told all that to the 911 dispatcher, but the dispatcher did not relay the claims to the officers who were responding. Stephen Mader was the first officer to arrive. He grew up in Weirton, served in the Marines and had hit the streets as a rookie just months before. He found Mr. Williams outside the house.

    "Just shoot me," Mr. Williams said, according to Mr. Mader's formal statement to investigators.

    "I don't want to shoot you, brother," Mr. Mader said. "Just put the gun down."

    The term "suicide by cop" is sometimes attributed to Karl Harris, a police officer turned psychologist who came up with the phrase after manning a suicide hotline in the early 1990s. But there is little question that the phenomenon has existed for decades. Some researchers trace its rise to the emptying of America's psychiatric hospitals in the 1960s and '70s and the growing problem of homelessness. But it's not hard to find examples that don't easily fit those categories: people who have been laid off from work or who have had a romance end.

    One of the more rigorous studies of the phenomenon was done a decade ago, and it indicated that suicidal intentions could play a role in more than a third of all fatal police shootings. Those who died in this fashion were overwhelmingly male, typically young, and frequently under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In 15 percent of the episodes categorized as suicide by cop, the encounter began with a report of domestic violence.

    Seemingly every one of these cases comes with the potential for controversy. Was the suicidal person, sometimes brandishing a knife or pretending to have a weapon, really a threat? Was firing their guns the only option for the officers? What kind of training had the officers received in dealing with those who have a mental illness? Is the term "suicide by cop" — making the officer an actor in a painful, private choice — unfair to the involved officers, many of whom wind up deeply traumatized?

    Mr. Mader never shot Mr. Williams. One of the two backup officers who arrived later did. But Mr. Mader was the one who lost his job. His superiors determined he had frozen in a life-or-death moment. Mr. Mader, who sued the City of Weirton and won a $175,000 settlement, claimed he had been fired for not shooting Mr. Williams first. Weirton officials insisted that Mr. Mader had not been fired for not shooting, but rather because he had failed to take any action, which they said was just his latest failure on the job.

    Tim O'Brien, one of the lawyers who represented Mr. Mader, contrasted his client's punishment with the numerous and often incendiary cases in which officers around the country had killed young men of color only to face no repercussions.

    "It's a profound case," Mr. O'Brien added. "Almost like a law professor made it up. It goes to the heart of when deadly force can be used."



    12) Mujahid Farid, 69, Ex-Prisoner Who Advocated for Older Inmates, Dies

    By Katherine Q. Seelye, November 28, 2018


    Mujahid Farid in 2012, a year after being released from prison after 33 years. He dedicated the rest of his life to trying to change New York State's parole system.

    Mujahid Farid, a former prisoner who became a prominent advocate for the timely release of elderly inmates, died on Nov. 20 at his home in the Bronx. He was 69.

    The cause was pancreatic cancer, his brother Randolph Howard said.

    Mr. Farid was a founder and a lead organizer of the organization Release Aging People in Prison, known as RAPP. His interest grew directly from his own experience.

    He was incarcerated after being convicted of manslaughter and the attempted murder of a New York City police officer in January 1978. He was given concurrent prison sentences of 11 to 22 years for the manslaughter conviction and 15 years to life for attempted murder.

    At the end of the 15-year minimum, the state parole board denied him parole nine times. Court documents show that each time his case came up, the board dwelled almost exclusively on his crimes and his conviction as a violent offender, ignoring his model behavior in prison and his advancing age.

    On his 10th attempt, in 2011, Mr. Farid was released after 33 years. He was 62.

    Upon his release he dedicated himself to trying to change New York State's parole system. In 2013, he received a fellowship from the Open Society Foundations, created by the philanthropist George Soros, to help found RAPP, one of the first organizations to advocate for the release of aging people in prison. The group's prominence and success inspired similar campaigns in other states.

    The graying of the prison population is a national phenomenon, with people over 50 becoming the fastest-growing segment. In the next decade, they are expected to make up one-third of inmates nationwide.

    Experts consider inmates old starting at 50 because they have higher rates of chronic illnesses as well as stress and poor diets, causing them to age more quickly than people on the outside.

    Instead of calling older inmates "lifers," Mr. Farid helped reframe the public debate — and get more community support — by calling them elderly.

    His efforts helped push the New York State Board of Parole, which had been slow to comply with a change in state law, to consider the reduced risk to society posed by older inmates, who have lower recidivism rates than younger inmates.

    His organization's rallying cry became "If the risk is low, let them go."

    Mr. Farid and Laura Whitehorn, a colleague at RAPP, came up with that slogan one night while riding the subway, Ms. Whitehorn said in a telephone interview.

    "Farid said, 'We need a slogan, like Johnnie Cochran had,' " she recalled, referring to O. J. Simpson's lawyer, who memorably told jurors in Mr. Simpson's murder trial, referring to a glove, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

    Mr. Farid also advocated for more minority representation on the parole board. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered that it become more diverse after a New York Times investigation in 2016 documented severe failings of the parole system, including racism and understaffing.

    Before these changes, about 25 percent of inmates eligible for parole were released; afterward, the rate nearly doubled.

    Mr. Farid, who adopted his name in prison when he became a Muslim, was born William Howard Jr. on Sept. 3, 1949, in Richmond, Va. His mother, Revia (Lightner) Howard, was a nurse; his father was a truck driver.

    In addition to his brother Randolph, Mr. Farid is survived by his mother and two sisters, Patricia A. Martin and Denise C. Howard. Another brother, Theodore, died almost a decade ago.

    The family moved to Manhattan in the 1960s. Mr. Farid graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx and became a printer.

    In 1977 he fatally shot a man outside a Manhattan bar. The police, after arriving at the scene, said that he had aimed his gun at them and tried to shoot, but that it had malfunctioned, according to court documents. His brother said in a telephone interview that to his dying day, Mr. Farid maintained that he had never aimed at a police officer.

    While in prison, he earned four college degrees: an associate degree in business through the New York State Department of Corrections; a bachelor's in arts and sciences from Syracuse University; a master's in sociology from SUNY New Paltz; and a master's in ministry from New York Theological Seminary.

    He also counseled fellow inmates, learned sign language to help the hearing-impaired and helped start a program that educated inmates about H.I.V. and AIDS.

    Once he was released, "he'd get to the office at 7 a.m., work all day and go to social justice events at night," Ms. Whitehorn said.

    "He fought with every cell of his being for the people he left behind."




































































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