Save the date! Wed., Feb. 6, 7:30 pm March 30 Spring Action Antiwar Coalition Meeting

Neibyl Proctor Library

6501 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA



Six Boxes of Mumia Abu-Jamal's Files Found Hidden in DA Storage Room

Mumia Abu-Jamal


On January 3, 2019 the office of District Attorney Larry Krasner filed a letter memorandum to Judge Leon Tucker.  "DA [Larry Krasner], and members of his staff went to a remote and largely inaccessible of the DA's office marked "Storage" looking for office furniture." And found six boxes of files on Mumia Abu-Jamal's case that were not produced duringthe recent court proceedings.

The District Attorney Krasner's remarkable and suspicious discovery of six boxes of files marked Mumia or Mumia Abu-Jamal hidden in a storage room on December 28 was one day after Judge Tucker's historic decision granting Mumia Abu-Jamal new rights of appeal.

This is confirmation of what we've known for decades--the prosecution has hidden exculpatory evidence in Mumia's case.  Evidence that is likely proof that Mumia's guilt was intentionally manufactured by the police and prosecution and the truth of his innocence suppressed.

These files should be released to the public. DA Krasner should take this as evidence of the total corruptness of this prosecution against an innocent man. The remedy for this is nothing less than dismissal of the charges against Mumia and his freedom from prison!

It took DA Krasner six days to report this find to Judge Tucker. Why? And who has gone through those six boxes of files on Mumia's case? What assurance can DA Krasner give that there hasn't been further tampering with and covering up of the evidence, which led to an innocent man being framed for murder and sentenced to death?

The DA's letter was not publicly available, nor was the January 3 docket filing shown on the court's public access web pages of docket filing, until January 9.

Rachel Wolkenstein, January 10, 2019
WHYY (an affiliate of NPR)
Philly prosecutors discover mysterious 'six boxes' connected to Mumia Abu-Jamal in storage room
By Bobby AllynJanuary 9, 2019
A group of two dozen activists briefly block traffic during a rally outside the Philadelphia District Attorney's office on Friday. The group called on DA Larry Krasner to not challenge a Common Pleas court ruling that allows Mumia Abu-Jamal to file an appeal. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

Days after Christmas, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and some of his assistants went rummaging around an out-of-the-way storage room in the office looking for some pieces of furniture. What they stumbled upon was a surprising find: six boxes stuffed of files connected to the case of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Five of the six boxes were marked "McCann," a reference to the former head of the office's homicide unit, Ed McCann. Some of the boxes were also marked "Mumia," or the former Black Panther's full name, "Mumia Abu-Jamal."

It is unknown what exactly the files say and whether or not the box's contents will shed new light on a case that for decades has garnered worldwide attention.

But in a letter to the judge presiding over Abu-Jamal's case, Assistant District Attorney Tracey Kavanagh wrote "nothing in the Commonwealth's database showed the existence of these six boxes," she said. "We are in the process of reviewing these boxes."

The surprise discovery comes just weeks after a Philadelphia judge reinstated appeals rightsto Abu-Jamal, saying the former radio journalist and activist should get another chance to reargue his case in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court due to a conflict-of-interest one of the justices had at the time Abu-Jamal's petition was denied.

Abu-Jamal's supportersare seizing on the mysterious six boxes as proof that his innocence has been systematically suppressed by authorities.

"There's no question in my mind that the only reason they could've been hidden like this is that this is the evidence of the frame-up of Mumia," said Rachel Wolkenstein, who has been a legal advocate and activist for Abu-Jamal for more than 30 years.

"What these missing boxes represent is confirmation of what we've known for decades: there's hidden, exculpatory evidence in Mumia's case, and that is evidence that Mumia's guilt was intentionally manufactured by the police and prosecution and the truth of his innocence was suppressed," Wolkenstein said.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office did not say anything at all about what is in the boxes, or whether there is evidence that the files are exculpatory, or capable of demonstrating that Abu-Jamal did not commit a crime. During his original trial three separate eyewitnesses testified Mumia did commit the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

Wolkenstein's assessment is wild speculation, according to Ed McCann, the former homicide unit chief whose name was scrawled across the six boxes. McCann left the office in 2015 after 26 years there as a prosecutor. He was never directly involved in Abu-Jamal's case.

"I can't tell you 100% what is in these boxes," McCann said Wednesday night. "But I doubt there is anything in them that is not already in the public eye."

How and why did six boxes tied to one of the most legendary and racially-charged cases the office has ever handled get relegated to a dusty storage room?

McCann is not sure. But he said when the office moved locations in 2006, hundreds of boxes with his name written them were moved into the current headquarters on South Penn Square, just across the street from Philadelphia City Hall.

"I don't remember these six boxes. But nobody over there discussed this with me before filing this letter," McCann said. "I would think if they were really interested in what happened, they would have reached out to me."

In the two-page letter to the court, assistant district attorney Kavanagh wrote that if Judge Leon Tucker would like to review the boxes, prosecutors will turn them over.

Tucker, who is the same judge who ordered that Abu-Jamal should be given a new appeals argument, has not weighed in on the newly-discovered boxes.

But in his opinion last month, Tucker said former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille should have recused himself from hearing Abu-Jamal's petitions, since Castille himself was Philadelphia's District Attorney when the case was actively on appeal. "True justice must be completely just without even a hint of partiality, lack of integrity or impropriety," wrote Tucker, saying a new hearing in front of the state's high court is warranted.

Prosecutors have not taken a position yet on Tucker's opinion. The files unearthed in the six boxes could influence whether Krasner's office supports or opposes a new hearing for Abu-Jamal.

Wolkenstein said the thousands of people who have joined the "Free Mumia" movement around the globe should be able to review the documents themselves.

"These files should be released publicly," Wolkenstein said. "The remedy for this is nothing less than dismissal of Mumia's charges and his release from prison."

Tell DA Larry Krasner: Do NOT Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Granting Mumia Abu-Jamal New Appeal Rights!

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner
Three South Penn Square
Corner of Juniper and South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499



Here's an online petition to sign and share widely.
Mumia Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence in the 1981 fatal shooting of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His prosecution was politically-motivated because of his Black Panther Party membership, his support of the MOVE organization and as a radical journalist. His 1982 trial and subsequent 1995 PCRA appeals were racially biased: the prosecution excluded African Americans from the jury; and PCRA trial Judge Albert Sabo, the same judge in Abu-Jamal's initial trial, declared, "I'm gonna help them fry the n----r." On Dec. 27, Mumia Abu-Jamal won a significant case before Judge Leon Tucker in a decision granting him new rights of appeal. Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:  We call on you to do the right thing.  Do not stand in the way of justice.  Do not appeal Judge Tucker's decision. As a progressive attorney you ran for Philadelphia District Attorney on a platform that included standing "for justice, not just for convictions."  You promoted reviewing past con



Statement: Academic Institutions Must Defend Free Speech

The International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity issued the following statement on 23 December, signed by 155 distinguished academics and human rights advocates.

Petition Text

Statement issued by the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity:
We, the undersigned, oppose the coordinated campaign to deny academics their free speech rights due to their defense of Palestinian rights and criticism of the policies and practices of the state of Israel. Temple University in Philadelphia, USA and the University of Sydney, Australia have been under great pressure to fire, respectively, Marc Lamont Hill and Tim Anderson, both senior academics at their institutions, for these reasons. Steven Salaita and Norman Finkelstein have already had their careers destroyed by such attacks. Hatem Bazian, Ahlam Muhtaseb, William Robinson, Rabab Abdulhadi and others have also been threatened.
The ostensible justification for such action is commonly known as the "Palestinian exception" to the principle of free speech. One may freely criticize and disrespect governments – including one's own – religions, political beliefs, personal appearance and nearly everything else except the actions and policies of the state of Israel. Those who dare to do so will become the focus of well-financed and professionally run campaigns to silence and/or destroy them and their careers.
We recognize that much of the free speech that occurs in academic and other environments will offend some individuals and groups. However, as has been said many times before, the answer to free speech that some may find objectionable is more free speech, not less. We therefore call upon all academic institutions, their faculty and students, as well as the public at large, to resist such bullying tactics and defend the free speech principles upon which they and all free societies and their institutions are founded.


























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.

Courage to Resist -- Support the Troops who Refuse to Fight!
484 Lake Park Ave. #41, Oakland, CA 94610, 510-488-3559
couragetoresis.org -- facebook.com/couragetoresist







Abu-Jamal Wins New Right to Appeal

By Rachel Wolkenstein

 On December 27, Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker granted Mumia's petition for new appeal rights, over the opposition of "progressive DA" Larry Krasner. 

This is the first Pennsylvania state court decision in Mumia's favor since he was arrested on December 9, 1981.  

 In his decision Judge Tucker ruled former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille, who was the District Attorney during Mumia's first appeal of his frame-up conviction and death sentence, "created the appearance of bias and impropriety" in the appeal process when he didn't recuse himself from participating in Mumia's appeals. Judge Tucker relied heavily on Ronald Castille's public statements bragging that he would be a "law and order" judge, that he was responsible for 45 men on death row, that he had the political and financial support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and new evidence of Castille's campaign for death warrants for convicted "police killers." The appearance of bias and lack of "judicial neutrality" exhibited by Castille warranted his recusal.

Judge Tucker's order throws out the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions from 1998-2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia's racially-biased, politically-motivated murder conviction on frame-up charges of the shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner. 

Judge Tucker's decision means that Mumia Abu-Jamal's post-conviction appeals of his 1982 conviction, that he was framed by police and prosecution who manufactured evidence of guilt, suppressed the proof of his innocence and tried by racist, pro-prosecution trial Judge Albert Sabo who declared, "I'm gonna help them fry the nigger."   and denied him other due process trial rights must be reheard in the Pennsylvania appeals court. 

The new appeals ordered by Judge Tucker opens the door to Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom. Abu-Jamal's legal claims and supporting evidence warrant an appeal decision of a new trial or dismissal of the frame-up charges that have kept him imprisoned for 37 years. 

The international campaign for Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom has launched a new offensive. At the top of its actions is a call for letters and phone calls to DA Larry Krasner demanding he not appeal Judge Tucker's order granting new appeal rights to Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Tell DA Larry Krasner: Do NOT Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Granting Mumia Abu-Jamal New Appeal Rights!

Email: DA_Central@phila.gov, Tweet: @philaDAO, Phone: 215-686-8000
Mail: Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner
3 S. Penn Square, Corner of Juniper and S. Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499

Write to Mumia at:
Smart Communications/PA DOC
SCI Mahanoy
Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Listen to a radio report at Black Agenda Report:



Save the date! Wed., Feb. 6, 7:30 pm March 30 Spring Action Antiwar Coalition Meeting

Neibyl Proctor Library
6501 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA

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



To: Indiana Department of Corrections

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Should Have Access to His Personal Property

Petition Text

1. IDOC regulation 02-01-101-VIII must be respected! Kevin Johnson (IDOC# 264847) must be allowed to select from his property the items that he most immediately needs. He has been left without any of the material he requires for contacting his loved ones, his writing (this includes books), his pending litigation, and for his artwork. 
2. Kevin Johnson (IDOC# 264847) should be released into General Population. Prolonged solitary confinement is internationally recognized as a form of torture. Moreover, he has not committed any infractions.

Why is this important?

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson (IDOC# 264847) – a Virginia prisoner – was transferred to Indiana on November 4. His transfer was authorized under the Interstate Corrections Compact, commonly used to ship prisoners out of state. Virginia is one of several states that make use of this practice as a tool to repress and isolate prisoners who speak up for their rights.
These transfers are extremely disruptive, and serve as an opportunity for prison officials to violate prisoners' rights, especially regarding their property. This is exactly what has been done to Rashid.
Rashid has 24 boxes of personal property. These are all of his possessions in the world. Much of these 24 boxes consist of legal documents and research materials, including materials directly related to pending or anticipated court cases, and his list of addresses and phone numbers of media contacts, human rights advocates, outside supporters, and friends.
At Pendleton Correctional Facility, where Rashid is now being kept prisoner and in solitary confinement, only one guard is in charge of the property room. This is very unusual, as the property room is where all of the prisoners' belongings that are not in their cells are kept. The guard in charge, Dale Davis, has a dubious reputation. Prisoners complain that property goes missing, and their requests to access their belongings – that by law are supposed to be met within 7 days, or if there are court deadlines within 24 hours – are often ignored, answered improperly, or what they receive does not correspond to what they have asked for.
Despite having a need for legal and research documents for pending and anticipated court cases, his requests to receive his property have not been properly answered. The property officer, Dale Davis, is supposed to inventory the prisoners' property with them (and a witness) present, according to IDOC regulation 02-01-101-VIII; this was never done. When Rashid did receive some property, it was a random selection of items unrelated to what he asked for, brought to the segregation unit in a box and a footlocker and left in an insecure area where things could be stolen or tampered with.
On December 19th, Rashid received notice that Davis had confiscated various documents deemed to be "security threat group" or "gang" related from his property. Rashid has no idea what these might be, as (contrary to the prison regulations) he was not present when his property was gone through. Rashid does not know how much or how little was confiscated, or what the rationale was for its being described as "gang" related. None of Rashid's property should be confiscated or thrown out under any circumstances, but it is worth noting that the way in which this has been done contravenes the prison's own regulations and policies!
Dale Davis has been an IDOC property officer for 8 years. He has boasted about how he does not need any oversight or anyone else working with him, even though it is very unusual for just one person to have this responsibility. Prisoners' property goes "missing" or is tampered with, and prisoners' rights – as laid out by the Indiana Department of Corrections – are not being respected.
Rashid is not asking to have all of his property made available to him in his cell. He is willing to accept only having access to some of it at a time, for instance as he needs it to prepare court documents or for his research and writing. 
After two months in Indiana, he has still not been supplied with his documents containing the phone numbers and addresses of his loved ones and supporters, effectively sabotaging his relationships on the outside. Rashid is not asking for any kind of special treatment, he is only asking for the prison property room to follow the prison's own rules.
We ask that you look into this, and make sure that Mr. Johnson's right to access his property is being respected, and that something be done about the irregularities in the Pendleton property room. We ask that the rules of the Indiana Department of Corrections be respected.

Sign the petition here:

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



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

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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

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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!

    Art by Leonard Peltier
    Write to:
    Leonard Peltier 89637-132
    USP Coleman 1,  P.O. Box 1033
    Coleman, FL 33521



    Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 
    Charity for the Wealthy!







    December 29, 2018

    Dear Comrades and Friends Across the Globe:

     On December 27, 2018, in a historic action, Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker granted Mumia's petition for new appeal rights, over the opposition of "progressive DA" Larry Krasner. 
    This is the first Pennsylvania state court decision in Mumia's favor since he was arrested on December 9, 1981.  The new appeals ordered by Judge Tucker open the door to Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom. The legal claims and supporting evidence, previously denied in the PA Supreme Court with Justice Ronald Castille's participation, warrant a dismissal of the frame-up charges that have kept Mumia imprisoned for 37 years, or, at the very least, a new trial. 

     It is critical that Mumia can go forward immediately with these appeals. However, DA Larry Krasner has the authority to appeal Judge Tucker's decision. Krasner's position, to the surprise of many who had described him as the "new kind" of district attorney, more bent toward justice than mere conviction, with a history of defending dissident activists, been adamant in his opposition to Mumia' petition.  His legal filings, court arguments, and his statements on public radio have all argued that there is no evidence of Justice Castille's bias or the appearance of impropriety when he refused to recuse himself in Mumia's PA Supreme Court appeals from 1998-2012 (!).

     If the prosecution appeals, there will follow years of legal proceedings on the validity of Judge Tucker's order before Mumia can begin the new appeal process challenging his conviction. .Mumia is now 64 years old. He has cirrhosis of the liver from the years of untreated hepatitis C. He still suffers from continuing itching from the skin ailment which is a secondary symptom of the hep-C. Mumia now has glaucoma and is receiving treatment. He has been imprisoned for almost four decades.  An extended appeals process coming at the age of 64 to a person whose health had already been seriously compromised is the equivalent of a death sentence by continued incarceration.    

    We are asking you to join us in demanding that Larry Krasner stop acting in league with the Fraternal Order of Police. Mumia should be freed from prison, now!  We are asking you to call, email or tweet DA Larry Krasner TODAY and tell him: DO NOT Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Granting New Rights of Appeal to Mumia Abu-Jamal.

    In his decision, Judge Tucker ruled that former PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille, who was the District Attorney during Mumia's first appeal of his frame-up conviction and death sentence, had "created the appearance of bias and impropriety" in the appeal process when he didn't recuse himself from participating in Mumia's appeals. Judge Tucker relied heavily on Ronald Castille's public statements bragging that he would be a "law and order" judge, that he was responsible for putting 45 men on death row, that he had the political and financial support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and in recently discovered new evidence that Castille had particularly campaigned for immediate death warrants of convicted "police killers".  Judge Tucker states unequivocally that the appearance of bias and lack of "judicial neutrality" exhibited by Castille warranted his recusal. 

    Judge Tucker's order throws out the PA Supreme Court decisions from 1998-2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia's racially-biased, politically-motivated murder conviction on frame-up charges of the shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner. 

     Judge Tucker's decision means that Mumia Abu-Jamal's post-conviction appeals of his 1982 conviction must be reheard in the PA appeals court. In those appeals Mumia's lawyers proved that Mumia was framed by police and prosecution who manufactured evidence of guilt and suppressed the proof of his innocence. And, he was tried by a racist, pro-prosecution trial judge, Albert Sabo, who declared to another judge, "I'm gonna help them fry the n----r" and denied Mumia his due process trial rights.

    We can win Mumia's freedom! We have a legal opening. It is our opportunity to push forward to see Mumia walk out of prison! The international campaign for Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom has launched a new offensive. At the top of its actions is this call for letters and phone calls to DA Larry Krasner demanding he not appeal Judge Tucker's order granting new appeal rights to Mumia Abu-Jamal.  Please take this action today.  Please send us back your name so we can compile a list of international signers.  Also, no matter how many letters for Mumia you have signed in the past year or two, please sign this one as well.  The moment is different, and the demand of Krasner is different.  We want all possible supporters included.

    CONTACT:    Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. 
                            Phone: (215) 686-8000; Email: DA_Central@phila.gov; Tweet: @philaDAO
                            Mail: Phila. DA Larry Krasner, Three South Penn Square, Phila, PA 19107

    Tell DA Krasner:     Do Not Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Reinstating Appeal Rights 
                                     for Mumia Abu-Jamal!

    In solidarity and toward Mumia's freedom,

    (Initiated by all the US based Mumia support organizations)
    International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; The MOVE Organization; Educators for Mumia; International Action Center; Mobilization for Mumia; Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC); Campaign to Bring Mumia Home; Committee to Save Mumia; Prison Radio, Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oakland; Oakland Teachers for Mumia; Workers World/Mundo Obrero


    1) General Strike: The Fierce Urgency of Now
    Association of Flight Attendants International President Sara Nelson speaks at 2019 AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Awards Dinner Washington, DC
    January 20, 2019

    AFA International President Sara Nelson

    January 20, 2019 — AFA International President Sara Nelson accepted the 2019 AFL-CIO MLK Drum Major for Justice Award, with a call to conference activists from across the Labor Movement to talk with their union leadership about conducting a General Strike to end the Government Shutdown.

    Thank you. I am proud to represent my union tonight, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. We are aviation's first responders and last line of defense. It's wonderful to be joined by my family, my fellow officers Debora Sutor and Kevin Creighan, and Flight Attendant activists who are here participating in our MLK Conference and doing the work daily on our Human Rights committees. Kia Carroll, Melinda Jorge, Trina Johnson, and Jennifer Kraakevik – stand up and thank you for working to make our union stronger!
    Receiving this award is an honor that I can't begin to properly express. Thank you to the AFL-CIO Civil and Human Rights Committee, President Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer Shuler and Executive Vice President Gebre for this extraordinary award.
    But, This award is not about me. This award was created to honor the legacy of Dr. King. This award is about all of us. We are together here tonight because he called us together. He called on us to come together with the "fierce urgency of now" to fight for justice.
    Our calling is now. There is a humanitarian crisis unfolding right now for our 800,000 federal sector sisters and brothers who are either locked out of work or forced to come to work without pay due to the government shutdown.
    These are real people who are facing real consequences of being dragged into the longest shutdown in history. No money to pay for rent, for childcare, or a tank of gas to get to work. The federal worker stretching insulin through the night and wondering if she will wake up in the morning. The transportation security officer in her third trimester with no certainty for her unborn child. The corrections officer who tried to take his own life because he saw no other way out. The air traffic controller who whispered to his union leader, "I just don't know how long I can hang on."
    The situation is changing rapidly. Major airports are already seeing security checkpoints closing. Many more will follow. Safety inspectors and federal cybersecurity staff are on furlough, not working. The layers of safety and security that keep us safe are not in place due to the shutdown.
    I have a growing concern for our members' safety and security.
    In addition, it is likely days – no more than a week – until the aviation system begins to unravel and massive flight cancelations ensue. When that happens, private jets won't take off either, and no one will get to Atlanta for the Superbowl.
    At best, our members will lose work, at worst ..
    As I have said many times in recent days, safety and security is non-negotiable.
    The TSA was created for the same reason my friends' names, along with 3000 others, are engraved in bronze at the 9/11 memorial in New York.
    If they can't do their job, I can't do mine. Dr. King said, "their destiny is tied up with our destiny. We cannot walk alone."
    Federal workers here tonight - Stand Up.
    Flight Attendants and aviation workers - Stand Up.
    Nurses who count on the medicine we deliver on our planes - Stand Up.
    Everyone who flew to this conference - Stand Up.
    Anyone who believes it is a crime to make people work without pay - Stand Up.
    Federal workers, We've got your back!
    The country sees no solution in sight, but Labor can lead the way. Dr. King rallied us by reaching for the mountain top. He didn't seek integration of just ONE school, he sought freedom in our schools for ALL children. He didn't seek integration of just ONE lunch counter, he aspired to have us ALL "sit down together at the table of brotherhood." And sisterhood, Dr. King!
    Today, people are starving for this kind of leadership. They are hungry for answers where some would say there are none. Through our Labor Movement, we have the answers for them and together we can lead the way.
    We need to follow Dr. King's lead and think big. Think big like the hotel workers who took on the largest hotel chain the world and won. Think BIG, like the teachers in Los Angeles who this very minute are taking on powerful hedge funds to save public education for our children.
    Dr. King said that "With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together."
    Now listen to me… We can end this Shutdown together.
    Federal sector unions have their hands full caring for the 800,000 federal workers who are at the tip of the spear. Some would say the answer is for them to walk off the job. I say, "what are you willing to do? Their destiny IS tied up with our destiny – and they don't even have time to ask us for help. Don't wait for an invitation. Get engaged, join or plan a rally, get on a picket line, organize sit-ins at lawmakers' offices.
    Almost a million workers are locked out or being forced to work without pay. Others are going to work when our workspace is increasingly unsafe. What is the Labor Movement waiting for?
    Go back with the Fierce Urgency of NOW to talk with your Locals and International unions about all workers joining together - To End this Shutdown with a General Strike.
    We can do this. Together. Si se puede. Every gender, race, culture, and creed. The American Labor Movement. We have the power.
    And to all Americans – We've Got Your Back!

    2) Within Venezuelan Military Ranks, a Struggle Over What Leader to Back
    "Rebellious military commanders even held secret meetings with the Trump administration over the last year to discuss their plans to overthrow Mr. Maduro. ...A former American official said that these disgruntled military officers, along with thousands of other military-aged men who have fled the country, could present a serious challenge to Mr. Maduro if neighboring countries led by right-wing governments — like Colombia and Brazil — mobilized them, or allowed them to mobilize on their own."
    By Nicholas Casey, January 25, 2019

    A defaced mural of President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas. Military leaders remain staunch supporters.CreditCreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

    When Venezuelans took to the streets this week to demand a return to democracy, they chose a date with deep historic significance: Jan. 23, the day a dictatorship collapsed in the face of surging protests more than 60 years ago.
    But demonstrations alone didn't bring down Venezuela's strongman back then. Only when the military stepped in, with tanks alongside protesters, did the dictatorship fall.
    It's a playbook that Juan Guaidó, the 35-year-old opposition leader who declared himself Venezuela's rightful president to cheering crowds on Wednesday, hoped would be just as relevant today as it was in 1958.

    While Mr. Guaidó earned the official recognition of the United States and more than 20 other countries, he remains a leader without a state. Venezuela's military brass publicly swore allegiance to the nation's president, Nicolás Maduro, frustrating the opposition's plan to entice the armed forces into breaking ranks and turning the tide in the country's long slide into authoritarianism.

    But interviews with current and former military officers offer a more complicated struggle, with many officers wanting Mr. Maduro out and still looking for how it might be done.
    Factions of officers who have defected say they are plotting returns from their makeshift headquarters in Peru, Colombia and other countries. Rebellious military commanders even held secret meetings with the Trump administration over the last year to discuss their plans to overthrow Mr. Maduro.
    Inside Venezuela, the military's ranks have been decimated as thousands of soldiers have deserted because hyperinflation has rendered their paychecks nearly worthless. Some other members of the armed forces say they want to join Mr. Guaidó's side, but fear the military counterintelligence service, which has punished dissidents ruthlessly.

    "It's not possible to explain the atrocities that our country has endured the last 20 years," said Carlos Guillén Martinez, an army lieutenant who fled the country last year after he claims he was tortured by Mr. Maduro's agents. Mr. Guillén says he and others are planning to return with arms if Mr. Maduro's government holds this year.
    "We are as firm on this as ever," he said. "We keep moving forward and we won't lose our North Star."

    The crisis in Venezuela has created a untenable standoff — one country with two presidents. On Friday, Mr. Maduro expressed a willingness to meet with the opposition, while Mr. Guaidó made his first public appearance since declaring himself the nation's legitimate interim president, telling supporters to rally against the authorities "if they dare to kidnap me."
    Both sides in the standoff are courting the military as the gatekeeper of control over the country. The crossroads are familiar for Venezuela's armed forces, which have spent generations enmeshed in the nation's politics and repeatedly brokered power during the time of Mr. Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chávez, himself a former army commander.
    But the crisis marks a large step backward for the region as a whole, which many hoped had left behind its cycle of dictatorships, coups and foreign interventions. As other Latin American countries have strengthened their democracies, Venezuela has followed a different path of increasing instability under Mr. Maduro and uncertainty about the way forward.
    "It's meant the only player in making a final step here is the military," said Alejandro Velasco, a Venezuelan historian who teaches at New York University.
    The crowds protesting against Mr. Maduro are the product of an economic collapse his government has overseen in recent years. Though Venezuela has the world's largest proven reserves of oil, the government's economic mismanagement has left the currency worthless, many basic foods are missing from stores and its hospital system is in collapse. More than three million people have fled for other countries.

    The political instability that led to the economic collapse traces its origin to Mr. Maduro's predecessor, Mr. Chávez. A former lieutenant colonel, he came to prominence during the attempted coup he organized in 1992. He won the presidency six years later, beginning what he called a Socialist revolution to redistribute wealth to the country's poor.
    While other Latin American countries gradually cemented democratic norms, Venezuelans elected — and repeatedly re-elected — a leader who had tried to overthrow the government by force.

    By 2002, another military coup was underway, this time supported by Venezuela's opposition, which briefly deposed Mr. Chávez with the approval of the United States. Mr. Chávez responded with purges, and years of attacks against Venezuela's institutions, pushing the country further from democracy.
    The purges against the military had lasting consequences for Venezuela's armed forces, which were pushed to support Mr. Chavez's party. They influenced young soldiers like Josué Hidalgo, an army lieutenant who said he entered the service under Mr. Chávez and quickly became disenchanted with what he saw on the ground.
    "They told us 'Socialism is good,'" he said. "But then you could see what was going on, the extreme levels of corruption in the military."
    Lt. Hidalgo said he was sent to a mining region on the Brazilian border, where he said he witnessed Venezuelan military commanders extorting gold miners and managing shipments of contraband fuel.
    In 2017, he said he was approached by a dissident military group called the Sword of God. Shortly afterward, he was captured by military intelligence agents but escaped to Brazil, he said.

    Today, he works with Mr. Guillén, recruiting defectors who have left the country and have expressed interest in returning to start an uprising. During an interview, two of his comrades showed a spreadsheet with hundreds of names, ages, ranks and identification numbers — people they said were interested in joining them.
    Among the documents were screenshots of what they said was a WhatsApp conversation with a young cadet in Venezuela expressing concern about whether he might be asked to put down the latest wave of protests.

    "I'm not going to permit that someone fires on the people," the message said. "The cadets are angry. We don't want this government."
    A former American official said that these disgruntled military officers, along with thousands of other military-aged men who have fled the country, could present a serious challenge to Mr. Maduro if neighboring countries led by right-wing governments — like Colombia and Brazil — mobilized them, or allowed them to mobilize on their own.
    Mr. Guaidó's call for the military to join his cause seemed to be gaining momentum with some in the armed forces.
    On Monday, a group of soldiers posted online videos pledging allegiance to the opposition leader, seemingly responding to his offer of amnesty for defectors. Their calls were followed by clashes at a military base in Caracas, shortly before the government said it had put down a mutiny.
    On Wednesday, when Mr. Guaidó declared himself president, top military brass were silent, leading to speculation that they may have been debating Mr. Maduro's fate.

    But on Thursday, Vladimir Padrino López, an army general serving as defense minister, stood in front of the top commanders of the country's armed forces to say they would back Mr. Maduro, calling Mr. Guaidó "laughable."
    "I must alert the people of the danger this represents," he said. "We're here to avoid a clash between Venezuelans."

    Mr. Velasco, the historian, said it was not surprising that Venezuela's top military officials haven't backed the opposition.
    In recent years, Mr. Maduro has faced small uprisings by the nation's security forces. Knowing how critical they are to his grip on power, he has offered the military incentives, including control of large parts of the legal economy, along with lucrative drug smuggling routes and other illicit trades, Mr. Velasco said.
    "They are ultimately the ones who not only have the firearms, they are so deeply implicated in the corruption of the state that having them onboard is an absolute necessary condition to pushing out Maduro," Mr. Velasco said.
    The opposition has been targeting the middle ranks, holding meetings with midlevel officers to explain a recent amnesty law passed by the opposition-led National Assembly for people who defect, according to a prominent opposition member.
    Carlos Peñaloza, a former chief of staff of the Venezuelan Army now in Miami, said he has been in touch with disgruntled midlevel officers in recent weeks and believes that their numbers are enough to overthrow Mr. Maduro, with or without support of Venezuela's top commanders.
    "Many majors, lieutenants and colonels — they began their careers before Chávez," he said, adding that they did not owe allegiance to Mr. Maduro. "They were raised in democracy and want to see it restored."
    Mr. Peñaloza said an embargo on Venezuelan oil by the United States might lead to mass defections in the military. The 500,000 barrels a day of petroleum that Venezuela sends to the United States are believed to be the principal source of hard currency for the government, and one of the main incentives top military brass have had to remain loyal.
    "Maduro wouldn't have the money to pay them," he said.


    3) Why a Border Wall Could Mean Trouble for Wildlife
    By John Schwartz, January 24, 2019

    A Mexican gray wolf on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.CreditCreditJim Clark/United States Fish and Wildlife Service, via Associated Press

    As the fight continues over President Trump's demand to extend the border wall between the United States and Mexico, one thing is clear: Whatever the wall's effect on immigration might be, it would have an impact on the environment of the borderlands.
    About 650 miles of border wall already exist along the 2,000-mile boundary between the two countries. Most of it has been built on federal land where the terrain provides no natural barrier. Mr. Trump has called for a 1,000-mile wall, which would extend farther across land that includes important habitats for wildlife.
    Customs and Border Protection policy says the agency "will integrate environmental stewardship and sustainability practices into operations and activities." But Congress has given the agency the power to waive environmental protections like the Endangered Species Act. Such laws could require the government to produce an in-depth environmental impact analysis of a new project, develop less-damaging alternatives and perform environmental monitoring after construction.

    A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection was unavailable because of the partial government shutdown, a result of the political standoff over funding for the wall.

    An article published last year in the journal Bioscience, which has been signed by more than 2,900 scientists, said the administration's plan would "threaten some of the continent's most biologically diverse regions" by blocking free movement of many species and contributing to flooding. More than 1,500 native animal and plant species would be affected by the wall, the paper said, including 62 listed as endangered or vulnerable.
    Here are some of the possible effects that an extended border wall could have on wildlife.
    An extended border wall would impede the movement of many species and would put creatures already under pressure in peril.
    Aaron D. Flesch, a research scientist at the University of Arizona, said he had no doubt that endlessly inventive humans could scale a wall. But it would block many four-legged creatures, he said.
    Even some low-flying birds like the ferruginous pygmy-owl could have trouble. "You think a bird's just going to fly over a wall, but that's not necessarily the case," Dr. Flesch said.
    Animals need to be able to move around, to find food and mates, among other things. An outbreak of fire or disease, or the pressures of climate change, can force them to seek new homes. And the pockets of the landscape that suit them can be widely dispersed.

    Small populations of endangered animals — such as the Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, and the Sonoran pronghorn — may be stranded on either side of the border, leaving some species likelier to die out. "For a critter that's nearly extinct in the U.S., you need to promote connectivity, not curtail it," Dr. Flesch said.
    Even a less-than-solid wall that incorporates bollards or "slats," as Mr. Trump has sometimes proposed, could disrupt wildlife, Dr. Flesch said. While some smaller animals would be able to slip through, even the low, permeable vehicle barriers already erected in some areas can act as "behavioral barriers" to some species like the Sonoran pronghorn, which are "open country runners that avoid fences," he said.
    Researchers have identified a number of creatures at risk that are rare in the Southern United States, though some have larger populations in Mexico. Vulnerable species in Texas' Lower Rio Grande Valley include the ocelot and the black bear, according to University of Texas scientists. The National Wildlife Federation has also warned of problems for desert bighorn sheep and called the erection of a continuous wall "one of the biggest potential ecological disasters of our time."

    Low-flying insects could be affected by a border wall, too. The University of Texas researchers named the endangered wildflower Zapata bladderpod and the threatened whiskerbush cactus as particularly at risk, and the National Wildlife Federation named the Quino checkerspot butterfly, among others.
    Many pollinators are already in decline because of habitat loss, said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society, a conservation organization with a focus on invertebrates. "This is one more issue that is going to put stress on bees and butterflies, and they're already stressed with many, many issues," he said. The long new stretches of a wall, with clear-cut "enforcement zones" to the south, could prove an impediment to many little fliers.
    Another expert expressed doubt that the wall itself would prove much of a barrier to flying insects, but he said the wall would nonetheless present an enormous problem for some of them.
    The expert, David L. Wagner, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, noted that most insects can fly high enough to surmount a wall. But the array of lights that would be part of any such construction, he said, would disrupt the lives of nocturnal creatures like moths and even vertebrates that depend on darkness.

    "Light pollution is turning out to be a real problem for nocturnal animals," he said. "You're pulling at the fabric of these ecosystems."
    Of course, there are illuminated buildings in many places. But Dr. Wagner said there was little difference between a border wall and a Walmart. Either way, he said, "It's slaughter."

    A red-bordered pixie butterfly at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Tex.CreditSuzanne Cordeiro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Construction would disrupt several pieces of land that have been designated part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, as well as other treasures like the National Butterfly Center, a private nature preserve along the Rio Grande in Mission, Tex. Construction into the 100-acre sanctuary could begin as soon as next month, splitting off some 70 acres from the American side of the site.
    After an outcry from environmentalists and local officials, Congress voted last year to protect one environmental jewel, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, a 2,100-acre "ecological crossroads" for migratory birds near McAllen, Tex., by refusing to appropriate money that would build the wall through it.
    But environmental advocates say the areas that will go unprotected are vast, and the losses to biodiversity will stretch far beyond the thin line of the border. As Texas Monthly put it, "Federal Border Wall Funding Spares Wildlife Refuge, but Not Much Else."
    Because of the richness of the environment along many stretches of the border, the area draws tourists for hunting and fishing — and, to a great extent, ecotourism.
    Birders have spotted more than 500 species in the four counties that make up the Lower Rio Grande Valley. A 2011 study from Texas A&M University estimated that bird watching and other forms of environmental tourism brought more than $344 million in economic activity to the area, and some 4,400 jobs.
    The authors of the article in Bioscience, including Dr. Flesch, said the government should protect the "cultural value" of the borderlands. "National security can and must be pursued with an approach that preserves our natural heritage," they wrote.
    John Schwartz is part of the climate team. Since joining The Times in 2000, he has covered science, law, technology, the space program and more, and has written for almost every section. @jswatz  Facebook

    4) Confirming US Orchestration, Report Details Pence's Key Phone Call to Venezuelan Opposition Leader
    "In a statement on Friday, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) argued that '[b]oth the increasingly top-down Venezuelan government as well as the fractious Venezuelan opposition, which has at times resorted to anti-democratic methods, bear significant responsibility for the current crisis and there are important critiques to be leveled against both.'"
    By Jake Johnson, January 25, 2019

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives at a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), on January 24, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    As U.S. lawmakers, civil society leaders, and Latin America experts continue to warn against American intervention in Venezuela's internal political affairs, the Wall Street Journal on Friday confirmed suspicions that opposition leader Juan Guaido's move to declare himself "interim president" of Venezuela this week was highly coordinated with the Trump White House and Republican lawmakers.

    According to the Journal, Vice President Mike Pence called Guaido the night before his announcement and "pledged" that the Trump administration would support him "if he seized the reins of government from [elected President] Nicolas Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country's constitution."

    "That late-night call set in motion a plan that had been developed in secret over the preceding several weeks, accompanied by talks between U.S. officials, allies, lawmakers, and key Venezuelan opposition figures, including Mr. Guaido himself," the Journal reported, citing an anonymous administration official. "Almost instantly, just as Mr. Pence had promised, President Trump issued a statement recognizing Mr. Guaido as the country's rightful leader."

    Guaido's move and U.S. President Donald Trump's rapid endorsement were quickly decried as a dangerous intervention—or the beginnings of a coup d'etat—which progressives argued would dramatically worsen the country's economic and political crisis. As Common Dreams reported, over 70 academics and experts signed an open letter demanding that the U.S. "cease encouraging violence by pushing for violent, extralegal regime change."
    At the center of the push to oust Maduro and replace him with Guaido, the Journal reports, were some of the most hawkish congressional Republicans and members of Trump's cabinet, including national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as well as officials from the right-wing governments of Brazil and Colombia.
    According to the Journal, a "decisive moment" in the behind-the-scenes planning came on Tuesday, Jan. 22, when Trump met with top White House officials and Republican lawmakers the day before scheduled street protests by the opposition.
    "Other officials who met that day at the White House included... Pompeo and Bolton, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who presented Mr. Trump with options for recognizing Mr. Guaido," the Journal reported. "Mr. Trump decided to do it. Mr. Pence, who wasn't at that meeting, placed his phone call to Mr. Guaido to tell him, 'If the National Assembly invoked Article 233 the following day, the president would back him.'"
    Responding to the Journal's reporting on Friday, Ben Norton—reporter for The Real News—noted in a series of tweets that it is now clear the "U.S. is not just 'behind' this coup; the U.S. is openly leading the coup."

    While the specifics of the attempt to oust Maduro were worked out behind the scenes, the Trump administration has never been quiet about its desire for regime change in Venezuela.
    As Common Dreams reported, Trump declared in September that the Venezuelan government "could be toppled very quickly" and warned that "all options are on the table" with regard to U.S. actions in the country.
    "The strong ones and the less than strong ones, and you know what I mean by strong. Every option is on the table with respect to Venezuela," Trump said.
    The president and Pompeo both reiterated this warning on Wednesday, with the secretary of state threatening "appropriate actions" if the Venezuelan military does not protect U.S. diplomats, who Maduro has ordered to leave the country.
    Progressive organizations, lawmakers, and advocacy groups in the U.S. have denounced the Trump administration's decision to recognize Guaido, arguing that American interference only increases the likelihood of violence and demanding peaceful negotiations.
    In a statement on Friday, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) argued that "[b]oth the increasingly top-down Venezuelan government as well as the fractious Venezuelan opposition, which has at times resorted to anti-democratic methods, bear significant responsibility for the current crisis and there are important critiques to be leveled against both."
    The organization concluded by calling on "the U.S. government to immediately cease and desist all attempts to intervene in the internal politics of Venezuela and break with its shameful legacy of imperial control in the region."
    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) echoed this demand in a series of tweets late Thursday, highlighting the United States' "long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries" and declaring that "we must not go down that road again."
    "The Maduro government in Venezuela has been waging a violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly, and was re-elected last year in an election that many observers said was fraudulent," Sanders wrote. "But we must learn the lessons of the past and not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups."


    5) Death row inmate asks Gov. Newsom for innocence investigation
    By Kevin Cooper, January 24, 2019

    Convicted murder Kevin Cooper stands before a San Diego judge when he was sentenced to death for four 1983 slayings.
    Photo: Dave Siccardi / AP 1985

    On his way out of office, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered limited DNA testing in my capital murder case, but it will take the broader investigation I requested if I'm going to have a meaningful opportunity to prove my innocence.
    Old cases like mine require substantial investigations to prove innocence. Numerous judges, others in the legal community and investigative reporters have concluded that the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department framed me in 1983 for a crime I did not commit — the horrific murders of Doug and Peggy Ryen and their daughter, Jessica, 10, and of their neighbor, Christopher Hughes, 11. Josh Ryen, 8, survived and said from his emergency room bed the killers were three white men. I am black.
    As Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William Fletcher put it in 2009, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department "manipulated and planted evidence in order to convict Cooper. In the course of their investigation, the sheriff's office personnel discounted, disregarded, and discarded evidence pointing to other killers." Finding out what happened to that evidence that was planted, disregarded and discounted, and testing what evidence might still exist, is crucial to show I did not commit the "Chino Hills" murders.
    The sheriff's department has numerous documents never given to my lawyers that will show how exonerating information was ignored and evidence used to convict me was falsified. The documents will show I am innocent, could lead to the real killers and, hopefully, uncover who in the sheriff's department framed me.
    In my February 2016 clemency petition to Gov. Brown, I asked for an "innocence investigation" and listed the type of documents I need the courts to review: one showing what happened to a blue short-sleeve shirt with blood on it that was found near the crime scene and disappeared in the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department's custody; and another proving Midge Carroll, warden of the California Institution for Men from which I had escaped, called the sheriff's department to correct the prosecution's false claim that crime-scene shoe prints were from shoes sold exclusively to prisons. (The shoes were available at retail stores). Some jurors said this claim helped lead them to find me guilty.
    I want documents relating to testing done on incriminating cigarette butts in the Ryens' station wagon, and documents from the Scripps Research Institute that initially concluded there were high levels of the blood preservative ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) in a spot of my blood found with Doug Ryen's blood on a medium-size, tan T-shirt believed to be worn by the killer. I wear a size large.
    The EDTA results, presented in my 2004 habeas hearing, proved the blood was taken from a vial of blood drawn when I was arrested and planted on that shirt. The test result was withdrawn after its import became known, and the judge refused to grant another. The vial later was found to have my blood and the blood of at least one unknown person. I want to see the chain of custody for that tan T-shirt that went missing from the sheriff's department evidence locker for many months prior to trial.
    Also, I would ask for any documents relating to a sheriff's department attempt to intimidate a witness into not testifying in my 2004 habeas hearing about seeing three strangers with blood on them in a neighborhood bar near the crime scene the night of the Ryen-Hughes murders. The witness testified anyway.
    Some testing was done, but testing was withheld from tiny blood spots found near a slightly larger blood spot, the only piece of evidence that supposedly linked me to the Ryens' house. My lawyer believes the large blood spot was planted; a test for EDTA on the larger spot (marked as exhibit A-41) was denied by the judge in 2004.
    We need the test results from the smaller spots, which I believe could exonerate me.
    For unknown reasons, Gov. Brown did not grant five of the DNA tests I requested, tests I believe could show who committed these murders and establish my innocence, including DNA tests of hairs clutched in the victims' hands as well as the victims' fingernail scrapings. Why withhold these tests?
    Appellate courts are virtually blocked from considering innocence claims — that's why it sometimes takes 20 years or more for innocent people to be exonerated. In California, we do not have an innocence commission dedicated to investigating innocence claims. The governor does have the power to order such investigations related to clemency and to obtain documents that have been denied to a person trying to prove his innocence. The judge assigned could oversee the testing of the items denied and conduct a wider investigation of the evidence.
     I now ask Gov. Gavin Newsom to use those powers in my case.
    Kevin Cooper, 61, is a Death Row inmate at San Quentin State Prison. He was convicted in 1985 of four murders that occurred in San Bernardino County.

    6) 'This Is Our Land'
    By Michael J. Kavanagh, January 26, 2019

    A digger with bags of cobalt in Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo abounds in cobalt, crucial for electronic devices.CreditCreditSebastian Meyer/Corbis News, via Getty Images

    One evening in 2014, a police officer in Kolwezi, a dusty mining city of a half-million people in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo, decided that his family needed a new latrine. He picked up a shovel and started digging a pit in his yard and soon stood transfixed at the shimmering black dirt he'd unearthed: Before him was a pile of cobalt, one of the world's most important minerals.
    Cobalt is an essential component of rechargeable batteries in cars and mobile phones, and Congo is by far the world's largest producer, with about half of all known reserves. In Kolwezi, the cobalt is often found with vast deposits of copper: After a rainstorm, some of the ground in the city turns as green as the Statue of Liberty. With the electronics boom worldwide, demand for both minerals has exploded.
    In the days that followed the policeman's discovery, he began digging up his living room, his bathroom, his bedroom, his kitchen. Within weeks, his neighbors followed suit. By mid-2015, when I started visiting that area of Kolwezi, known as Kasulo, the place looked as if it had been bombed.

    Kasulo was once a quiet hillside neighborhood, home to the families of the cooks and cleaners, mechanics and drivers who worked for the mining industry. Now its small brick and concrete houses were crumbling and the streets were pockmarked with cavernous holes.

    Technically, Congolese property owners don't own the minerals beneath their land. But when government officials came to stop the diggers, they were attacked with stones and crowbars, one of the diggers, Mike Tshiamb — a.k.a. Magic Bar, because of his digging prowess — told me. "We're in Congo and we're Congolese," Mr. Tshiamb told the officials. "This is our land."
    Yet Congo's citizens have rarely controlled their land. The mineral riches that should make the country wealthy have funded governments whose corruption has undermined the young democracy and left its people desperately poor. The copper and cobalt boom has brought Congo steady economic growth, yet its per capita income remains among the lowest in the world.
    From the time of colonialism through more than three decades of dictatorship, unelected rulers looted Congo's resources for their personal enrichment. The plunder continued during civil wars between 1996 and 2003.
    In 2006, the first free, multiparty election since independence was supposed to change all this. The winner, Joseph Kabila — who first became president in 2001, after the previous president, his father, was killed — promised to end corruption. The international community invested heavily in his administration, providing several tens of billions of dollars in aid and debt relief. The United Nations' largest peacekeeping force, Monusco, is deployed in Congo, helping to protect the government from repeated attempts at rebellion.
    But right under the nose of the international community, the theft of the country's mineral wealth has continued, and nongovernmental and international organizations say Mr. Kabila's government has manipulated elections to remain in power.

    Pointing to "numerous irregularities," monitors from the European Union challenged the credibility of the official results of the 2011 presidential vote, in which Mr. Kabila was re-elected. Yet his government suffered little condemnation from African neighbors and no sanctions from the United Nations or Western countries: stability over democracy.
    Under constitutional term limits, Mr. Kabila was supposed to step down in December 2016. Instead, he postponed elections, and his security forces killed several dozen democracy advocates. It was only last summer, with international pressure finally mounting, that he agreed to leave office and scheduled a vote for Dec. 30.
    But his two most prominent opponents were barred from running (one had been convicted by the International Criminal Court of witness tampering in a war crimes case). Just days before the election, the electoral commission, citing security concerns and an Ebola outbreak, postponed voting in several opposition strongholds — effectively disenfranchising more than 1.2 million people among the 40 million registered to vote.
    Mr. Kabila's handpicked successor still proved too unpopular to win. The surprise victor was Felix Tshisekedi, nominally a member of the opposition, whose father was once Mr. Kabila's top rival. But Congo's Catholic Church, among others, believes that another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu, actually won, and easily.
    The Financial Times obtained data from the electoral commission representing 86 percent of votes cast nationwide: It suggests that Mr. Fayulu won more than 59 percent of the vote, and Mr. Tshisekedi only 19 percent. Mr. Tshisekedi was sworn into office on Thursday.

    Supporters of Mr. Kabila will make up a large majority in the legislature. One of his advisers has said that the departing president's camp will "still retain power." Mr. Kabila has suggested that he might seek re-election.
    It's difficult to draw a direct line between mining money and electoral tampering, but it's even harder not to see the dots between them.

    The government recently revised Congo's mining code to increase revenue from the industry. Gécamines, the state-owned copper and cobalt miner, has been renegotiating some of its private partnerships, pushing back against foreign companies. In theory, those changes should benefit the Congolese state and then the Congolese people. But history suggests that they won't.
    In 2009, a World Bank report described the country's failure "to harness its mineral wealth for economic development" largely because of "corrupt management and political interference." 
    Between 2010 and 2012, Gécamines and other state companies sold stakes in several of Congo's most valuable mines for at least $1.36 billion less than their market value, according to the Africa Progress Panel, a policy foundation previously headed by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general. (Several of the foreign companies involved in these deals have denied any wrongdoing.)
    Separate investigations by the United States Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have also revealed that around the time of the 2011 elections, another foreign company paid millions of dollars in mining-related bribes to Congolese officials. According to a 2017 report about Congo's copper industry by the Carter Center, deals multiplied before both the 2006 and the 2011 elections.
    A similar pattern seems to have taken place before last month's vote.

    Gécamines has been selling mining rights, often to Chinese companies, for the past few years. According to the Carter Center, Gécamines did not publish the details related to some of the transactions, in violation of Congolese regulations. (Gécamines has said that it is under no such obligation.) Some $750 million due to Gécamines by corporate partners between 2011 and 2014 could not reliably be traced to the company's accounts, the Carter Center also found. The anticorruption watchdog Global Witness said that more than $750 million in mining revenuespaid to Congolese state entities were lost between 2013 and 2015. Gécamines published a fierce 60-some-page denial in November, rebutting the two groups' accounting and accusing them of "modern colonialism."

    But in Kolwezi, the impact of corruption is obvious. Not far from Kasulo's barren hillside are two mining projects that should have propelled the country's development. Instead, one seemed to lie fallow for years, partly because of controversial ownership changes, and the other went about $9 billion into debt.
    The first project, known as Kolwezi Tailings, was taken over by Eurasian Resources Group (formerly Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation) in several transactions beginning in 2010 — a deal the British government is investigating for possible fraud, bribery and corruption. Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation bought the project from the Israeli businessman Dan Gertler, who also is being investigated. The company has denied any wrongdoing.

    Mr. Gertler's company has said that his business dealings in Congo "are entirely proper and appropriate." Mr. Kabila agrees. Yet in December 2017, the United States imposed sanctions on Mr. Gertler after finding that he had made "hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals" in Congo. 
    The other major project in Kolwezi is run by a unit of Katanga Mining Limited, which is largely owned by Glencore, a Switzerland-based commodities trader and major producer of cobalt. Katanga Mining recently paid more than $21 million to the Ontario Securities Commission in a settlement regarding the company's failure to disclose to regulators and investors information material to the business, such as the risk of public corruption in Congo. (Glencore has said that it was "disappointed by the conduct" that led to the settlement.)
    Mr. Gertler was involved in the Katanga Mining project, too. Although Glencore acquired his stakes in 2017, it is still paying him substantial annual royalties on related sales.

    Congo was in the middle of a war when Mr. Tshiamb, the Kasulo diggerknown as Magic Bar, finished school in 2000. There were no jobs, so he began digging. One day in February 2015, he was 60 feet beneath one of the houses in Kasulo, chipping at the black earth around him, with a friend nearby, when the shaft collapsed, trapping and killing his friend. A local official told me in June 2016 that officially 90 people had died digging in Kasulo since the policeman first found cobalt in 2014. "But unofficially, we're at around 250," he said.
    In 2017, the Congolese government made a deal with a Chinese mining conglomerate to relocate many of Kasulo's remaining residents and bulldoze the land so that it would be safer for digging. From the sky, that part of Kasulo now looks like a bald spot in the middle of the city. There are few reminders of the deadly pits, or the houses that once stood there, or the people who lived in those houses and fought to control their land and its bounty.

    Michael J. Kavanagh is writing a book on global finance, poverty and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


    7) She Wanted to Drive, So Saudi Arabia's Ruler Imprisoned and Tortured Her
    By Nicholas Kristof, January 26, 2019
    Loujain al-Hathloul in London in 2017.CreditCreditNina Manandhar

    Remember this name: Loujain (pronounced Loo-JAYNE) al-Hathloul. She is 29 years old and a courageous advocate for gender equality — so she is in a Saudi Arabian prison, and reportedly our Saudi allies have tortured her, even waterboarded her.
    There has properly been global outrage at Saudi Arabia's murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post and resident of Virginia. Jamal was a friend of mine, and I find it infuriating that President Trump and other officials won't hold Saudi Arabia accountable for killing and dismembering him.
    Still, we can't bring him back. So let's direct equal attention to those still alive — like Hathloul, along with nine other women's rights activists who are also in custody, including some who say they have endured torture.

    Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Jared Kushner bet big on the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, but they were bamboozled. M.B.S. isn't a great reformer, and he isn't coming clean about Khashoggi's murder.

    Nor is he releasing Hathloul, who, along with others, had peacefully and persistently campaigned for years to allow women the right to drive.
    In 2014, she was arrested when she tried to drive into Saudi Arabia with a driver's license from the United Arab Emirates, nominally valid also in Saudi Arabia. Then in 2015, Hathloul was one of the first women to run for a seat on a municipal council. (She lost.)

    She moved to the emirates. But in 2017, Saudi security forces effectively kidnapped her and her husband and returned them to the kingdom. The couple have divorced, and while accounts differ, some believe this is because of pressure the government placed on the husband.
    Shortly before women were allowed to drive last June, the government rearrested Hathloul, along with other women's rights activists who had fought for the right the government was about to grant. 
    "She said she had been held in solitary confinement, beaten, waterboarded, given electric shocks, sexually harassed and threatened with rape and murder," her sister, Alia al-Hathloul, who lives in Belgium, wrote in a searing Op-Ed in The Times this month, recounting what Loujain had told their parents when they saw her. "My parents then saw that her thighs were blackened by bruises."

    Despite being threatened with rape and murder and having her body thrown into the sewage system, Hathloul would not stay silent and reported the torture to her parents.
    Her sister said Loujain was "shaking uncontrollably, unable to hold her grip, to walk or sit normally."
    The other imprisoned women suffered similar treatment, according to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and their families. They were said to have been subjected to electric shocks, whippings, forced kissing and hugging, threats of rape and more. Some were tied to a metal bed and flogged.
    "Loujain's abuse exemplifies the methods of Saudi thuggish and lawless leadership, hellbent on exacting sadistic vengeance against any citizen who dares to think freely," Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch told me. "The Saudi people owe a huge debt to Loujain."
    A government spokesman did not respond to my inquiries about why Hathloul was imprisoned and tortured. A pro-government newspaper did suggest that Hathloul is a traitor who could even deserve to be executed.
    In recent years, Saudi Arabia has stepped up the pace of executions, with about 150 reported last year. Apparently for the first time, prosecutors have sought the death penalty for a woman who is a nonviolent human rights defender, Israa al-Ghomgham.
    Trump is right that Saudi Arabia is an important ally. That's why it's important that it have a decent, modernizing leader, rather than one who feuds with neighbors, kidnaps Lebanon's prime minister, invades Yemen, murders a journalist and tortures outspoken women.

    Saudi politics are murky, but there are whispers that the crown prince will not necessarily be elevated to king on the death of his father. Yet Trump, Pompeo and Kushner are acting as M.B.S.'s protectors and backers — so the world could be stuck with M.B.S. as a destabilizing and oppressive ruler for the next half century.

    America doesn't have much leverage to improve human rights in countries like China, Venezuela or Iran. But we have enormous leverage over Saudi Arabia, because it depends on us for its security. Yet Trump, Pompeo and Kushner refuse to use that leverage.
    I can't find any indication that any official in the Trump administration has even publicly mentioned Hathloul's name or called for her release. So I hope Congress will step up, oversee the relationship and ask tough questions about why we are silent when our close ally waterboards a woman seeking equal rights.
    Saudi Arabia will never live up to its potential as long as it treats women as second-class citizens. What's at stake is not only justice but also stability, economic development and peace in the region.
    Thus I urge the Nobel Peace Prize committee to consider selecting Hathloul this year.


    8) These Patients Had Sickle-Cell Disease. Experimental Therapies Might Have Cured Them.
    By Gina Kolata, January 27, 2019

    Brandon Williams received gene therapy to replace sickle cells with healthy hemoglobin. His sister, Britney, died of complications of sickle-cell disease. He has a tattoo of her name on his right arm.CreditCreditAlyssa Schukar for The New York Times

    Scientists have long known what causes sickle-cell disease and its devastating effects: a single mutation in one errant gene. But for decades, there has been only modest progress against an inherited condition that mainly afflicts people of African descent. 
    With advances in gene therapy, that is quickly changing — so much so that scientists have begun to talk of a cure. 
    In a half-dozen clinical trials planned or underway, researchers are testing strategies for correcting the problem at the genetic level. Already a handful of the enrolled patients, who have endured an illness that causes excruciating bouts of pain, strokes and early death, no longer show signs of the disease.

    Among them is Brandon Williams, 21, who lives with his mother in Chicago. Because of his sickle-cell disease, he had suffered four strokes by age 18. The damage makes it hard for him to speak. His older sister died of the disease.

    Following an experimental gene therapy, his symptoms have vanished. Life has taken a sharp turn for the better: no more transfusions, no more pain, no more fear.
    "He said, 'Mom, I think I want to get me a job,'" said his mother, Leuteresa Roberts.
    It is still early in the course of these experimental treatments, and it is likely to be at least three years before one is approved. Although researchers hope the effects will last, they cannot be certain.
    "We are in uncharted territory," said Dr. David A. Williams, chief scientific officer at Boston Children's Hospital. 
    At the moment, the only remedy for sickle-cell disease is a dangerous and expensive bone marrow transplant, an option rarely used. An effective gene therapy would not be simple or inexpensive, but it could change the lives of tens of thousands of people.
    "This would be the first genetic cure of a common genetic disease," said Dr. Edward Benz, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

    It also would mark a turning point for a large community of underserved patients. Most of them have African ancestry, but Hispanics and those with southern European, Middle Eastern or Asian backgrounds are also affected. 
    Experts have long maintained that advances in treatment have been limited partly because sickle-cell disease is concentrated in less affluent minority communities. 
    "Having tried for a number of years to raise philanthropic money, I can tell you it's really hard," said Dr. Williams.
    An estimated 100,000 people in the United States have sickle cell disease. Worldwide, about 300,000 infants are born with the condition each year, a figure projected to grow to more than 400,000 by 2050
    The disorder is most common in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 70 percent of children with it die before adulthood. 
    In sickle-cell disease, blood cells stuffed with hemoglobin are distorted into sickle shapes. The misshapen cells get stuck in blood vessels, causing strokes, organ damage and episodes of agonizing pain — called crises — as muscles are starved of oxygen. Children usually return to normal between crises, but teenagers and adults may suffer chronic pain. 
    The misshapen cells don't survive long in the blood — 10 to 20 days, compared to the usual 120 days. Patients may be severely anemic and prone to infections.

    Daily life can be a challenge. Many adults with sickle-cell disease have no health insurance, especially in states that did not expand Medicaid, noted Dr. John Tisdale, a senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health.

    Employment can be difficult because the disease is debilitating. Yet many who apply for Social Security disability are denied, Dr. Tisdale said. They end up at emergency rooms when they are in crisis.
    And treating the disease, with its complications, is expensive: annual costs per patient are estimated at $10,000 a year for children and $30,000 for adults. Those with the disorder go in and out of hospitals.
    Mrs. Roberts knows this cycle all too well.
    Her daughter, Britney Williams, had sickle-cell disease. At 22, she went into the hospital during a crisis and died, leaving behind a baby daughter.
    Mrs. Roberts' son, Mr. Williams, was devastated and terrified. He told her he had suffered too much, and his big sister's death brought home to him the fact that his life, too, could end at any moment. He wanted to stop the monthly blood transfusions that were easing his symptoms. He wanted to go ahead and die.
    Then Dr. Alexis Thompson, a sickle-cell specialist at Northwestern University, told Mr. Williams that he could join a new study of gene therapy that might help. There were no guarantees, and there was a chance Mr. Williams could die from the treatment.
    Mr. Williams was enthusiastic, but his mother was filled with trepidation. In the end, she decided "we've got to try something," she recalled.

    Mr. Williams was among the first to get one of the experimental gene therapies, in which researchers attempted to give his immature blood cells a new and functional gene.
    Mrs. Roberts and the family pastor watched as the treated cells dripped back into his veins.
    "I was so overwhelmed," Mrs. Roberts recalled. "I cried tears of joy."

    In the 1980s, when researchers first began thinking of gene therapy to correct genetic disorders, sickle-cell disease was at the top of the list.
    In theory, it seemed straightforward — just one tiny change in a single gene led to a lifetime of misery and an early death. 
    Every patient had exactly the same genetic mutation. To cure the disease, all scientists needed to do was to fix this one genetic error. 
    But it was not so easy. Among the many problems that plagued gene therapy research, there were ones specific to sickle-cell disease.
    Hemoglobin genes are only active in the precursors of red blood cells, which are derived from bone marrow stem cells, and the genes are only active for about four or five days until mature red blood cells form, Dr. Benz said.

    Yet when they are active, the genes direct the cells to make enormous amounts of hemoglobin, so much that the red blood cell is like a bag holding gelatin.
    That left researchers with a problem. "How do you manipulate a gene, or put a gene in, so it is expressed only in those cells and at high levels?" Dr. Benz asked.
    In the new trials, subjects must have immature blood cells — stem cells — removed from their bone marrow. The stem cells are genetically modified, and then infused back into the patient's bloodstream. The goal is for the modified cells to take up residence in the bone marrow and form healthy red blood cells. 
    Scientists are testing three methods for modifying stem cells. In the first, a form of gene therapy, a virus is used to insert a viable copy of the hemoglobin gene into the stem cells. 
    Until recently, the viruses had a limited capacity to carry genes, and the hemoglobin gene simply would not fit. Only recently have scientists found viruses that can do the job. 
    The second approach starts with the fact that the human genome can make two kinds of hemoglobin: fetal hemoglobin, active in the fetus but shut off after birth, and adult hemoglobin. 
    Some researchers are trying to block the gene that turns off fetal hemoglobin and turns on adult hemoglobin, allowing patients with sickle-cell disease to produce fetal hemoglobin instead.

    "We've known for decades that hemoglobin is different in a fetus — it doesn't sickle, and it works as well as adult hemoglobin," said Dr. Stuart Orkin, a researcher at Harvard University who found the hemoglobin switch. 
    A third strategy depends on gene editing with Crispr, a tool that lets scientists snip out parts of genes and paste in new sections. Several groups are doing early studies with Crispr. 
    With recent advances, all three approaches now seem feasible. Farthest along is a new iteration of gene therapy to produce fetal hemoglobin, currently in trials conducted by Bluebird Bio, a biotech company in Cambridge, Mass.
    The company reported results for four patients of nine in the study who had been treated at least six months earlier. All four produced enough normal hemoglobin that they no longer had symptoms of sickle-cell disease.
    Bluebird is now planning a larger study, in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration, that will enroll 41 patients, all of whom will get gene therapy. The company hopes to finish the study and get approval in 2022.
    Following recent scientific advances, the N.I.H. has launched an initiative called Cure Sickle Cell to speed progress. 
    It will bring "significant new money," said Dr. Keith Hoots, a division director at the institutes, although the total has not yet been determined.

    For many of the pioneering patients in these trials, the results have been remarkable.
    Carmen Duncan, 20, of Charleston, S.C., had her spleen removed when she was 2, a result of complications from sickle-cell disease. She spent much of her childhood in and out of hospitals. 
    "Sometimes I would stay two weeks," she said. Her arms and legs would ache from blocked blood vessels. "A simple touch really hurt."
    Monthly blood transfusions helped, she said, but they were onerous. Then she entered Bluebird's gene therapy trial. 
    Today, doctors say, she no longer has signs of sickle-cell disease. She had longed to join the military but had been barred because of her condition. Now she plans to enlist. 
    Manny Hernandez, 20, was the first patient in a trial at Boston Children's Hospital in which researchers are attempting to restart production of fetal hemoglobin. It worked: Doctors say he no longer has the disease.
    And Mr. Williams? He wound up in the gene therapy trial run by Bluebird. 
    His mother will never forget the call she got from Dr. Thompson, saying her son was producing enough normal blood cells. For him, too, sickle-cell disease has disappeared.
    "I was like, yes, yes, thank you Lord," Mrs. Roberts said.

    Gina Kolata writes about science and medicine. She has twice been a Pulitzer Prize finalist and is the author of six books, including "Mercies in Disguise: A Story of Hope, a Family's Genetic Destiny, and The Science That Saved Them." 


    9) 3 Men Sentenced in Plot to Bomb Somali Immigrants in Kansas
    By Jacey Fortin, January 26, 2019

    A makeshift mosque inside an apartment complex in Garden City, Kan., that three men were convicted of plotting to bomb.CreditCreditAdam Shrimplin/Reuters

    Three men who were convicted of plotting to blow up a Kansas apartment complex where Somali refugees lived have each been sentenced to at least 25 years in prison, the Justice Department said on Friday.
    "The defendants in this case acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill innocent people on the basis of their religion and national origin," Matthew G. Whitaker, the acting United States attorney general, said in a statement. "That's not just illegal — it's morally repugnant."
    During the trial last year in Wichita, Kan., prosecutors portrayed the men as aspiring domestic terrorists who were preparing to bomb the apartment complex in Garden City, Kan., which is home to a makeshift mosque and a community of Somali immigrants. The men, who called themselves "the Crusaders," were arrested about four weeks before Nov. 9, 2016, the date they had picked for the bombing.

    Prosecutors said the men had also considered attacks on other targets, including elected officials and churches that helped refugees. In secretly recorded conversations, the men could be heard making demeaning comments about Muslims; one called them "cockroaches."

    On Friday, Curtis Allen, 51, was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Gavin Wright, 53, was sentenced to 26 years. Patrick Stein, 49, was sentenced to 30 years.

    From left, Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein were convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.CreditSedgwick County Sherriff's Office, via Associated Press

    In April, the men were convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against rights, which the Justice Department considers a hate crime. Mr. Wright was also convicted of lying to the F.B.I.
    "These defendants planned to ruthlessly bomb an apartment complex and kill innocent people, simply because of who they are and how they worship," Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, said in the statement.
    Kari Schmidt, a lawyer for Mr. Wright, said his sentence significantly exceeded typical sentences for cases like these. "We believe certain trial rulings materially impaired presentation of the full story to the jury," she added. "Mr. Wright will appeal his conviction."
    Lawyers for the other men did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday. But they have previously argued that their clients had been manipulated or prodded by the F.B.I., and that they had been unfairly targeted for exercising their rights to free speech and gun ownership.

    The trial focused on evidence from a paid F.B.I. informant who had infiltrated a militia group that included the three men and secretly recorded their conversations.
    The proceedings took on political significance in part because the F.B.I. has been criticized frequently by President Trump, and because it took place during an era of escalating threats against racial and religious minorities.


    10) Speaking Black Dialect in Courtrooms Can Have Striking Consequences
    By John Eligon, January 25, 3019

    A person walks past the federal courthouse in Philadelphia. A study found court reporters in the city regularly made errors in transcribing sentences that were spoken in black dialect.CreditCreditMatt Rourke/Associated Press

    "He don't be in that neighborhood."
    When one court reporter in Philadelphia transcribed that phrase, it turned into this: "We going to be in this neighborhood." In other words, the opposite of what the phrase actually meant — that someone is not usually in a neighborhood.
    That was just one transcription error captured in a soon-to-be published study that found court reporters in Philadelphia regularly made errors in transcribing sentences that were spoken in a dialect that linguists term African-American English.
    Researchers played audio recordings of a series of sentences spoken in African-American English and asked 27 stenographers who work in courthouses in Philadelphia to transcribe them. On average, the reporters made errors in two out of every five sentences, according to the study.

    The findings could have far-reaching consequences, as errors or misinterpretations in courtroom transcripts can influence the official court record in ways that are harmful to defendants, researchers and lawyers said.

    "The larger implication is that people are not being afforded a sense of fairness and justice because the system is not responding to their language," said Anthony L. Ricco, a New York-based criminal defense lawyer, when told of the study's findings.
    Decades of research has shown that the way some black people talk could play a role in their ability to secure things like employment or housing. The new study, scheduled for publication in June in the linguistic journal Language, provides insight on how using black dialect could also impact African-Americans in courtrooms.
    "People who speak African-American English are stigmatized for so doing," said Taylor Jones, a doctoral student in linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the study's authors.
    Mr. Jones added that there was nothing improper or broken about the dialect that some African-Americans inherited over generations, but negative stereotypes have influenced the way people hear or perceive it.
    "If you're taught that these people speak incorrectly, then it's very easy to say, 'Well, they don't make any sense; what they're saying is wrong,'" Mr. Jones said.

    The researchers found that the court reporters were not transcribing with any malicious intent. But some of them did have a very limited understanding of black dialect.
    After going through the exercise, the researchers said that one of the court reporters told them that when they hear African-American English in the courtroom, "I have to be like, 'Ok, don't roll your eyes,'" according to a draft copy of the study.
    Beyond negative stereotypes or lack of familiarity, a court reporter's own discomfort with some of the terminology used in black dialect could also lead to incorrect transcriptions, the study found.
    While Pennsylvania court reporters must score 95 percent accurate on tests in order to be certified, the reporters in this study were fully accurate, on average, on just 59.5 percent of the sentences.
    Black court reporters who participated in the study made errors in transcribing at roughly the same rate as their white peers.
    All of the reporters, in addition to transcribing, were asked to paraphrase what was being said in each sentence. Here, the results were even worse than the transcriptions, with reporters correctly paraphrasing the sentences about 33 percent of the time.
    The authors faulted the training that court reporters received, saying that it mostly used "classroom" English. African-Americans are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, and so training should take that into consideration, researchers said.

    "The training isn't taking into account what they're actually going to hear," said Jessica Rose Kalbfeld, a co-author who is pursuing her Ph.D. at New York University.
    The transcription errors also speak to an impact of segregation, Mr. Jones said. When black and white people live in separate parts of a city, they develop their own ways of speaking that people outside of their cultural communities are not exposed to.
    "Because of segregation, black Philadelphians and white Philadelphians pronounce the same words differently," he said. "This is common across the United States."
    Riley H. Ross III, a lawyer in Philadelphia, said that it was not just black dialect that was often misunderstood in a courtroom. It happens with other races, too, he said, and it was up to him as a lawyer to intervene in real time.
    "Over all, if there's something that's said that the jury won't understand, I'll bring it up," he said.
    While this study was based on recordings made outside of a formal court setting, transcription errors have seeped into real cases.
    In a 2015 transcript of a recorded phone call from a jail in the San Francisco Bay Area, a suspect who said, "He come tell 'bout I'm gonna take the TV" was incorrectly transcribed as "I'm gonna take the TV," according to a 2016 research paper by a pair of Stanford University linguists.

    In one recent case out of Louisiana, the transcription seemed to be correct, but it highlighted how African-American English can be subject to over-the-top scrutiny.
    A lawyer for a defendant who had admitted to sexual assault sought to have that admission suppressed because his client had initially asked for a lawyer, saying, "I know that I didn't do it so why don't you just give me a lawyer dog 'cause this is not what's up."
    The state's Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the police did not have to cease questioning him because "lawyer dog" was ambiguous and did not necessarily mean that he was invoking his right to counsel.
    Mr. Ricco, the defense lawyer, said the most troubling thing about court reporters incorrectly transcribing African-American English was that it was indicative of larger difficulties of black witnesses trying to get their points across.
    "If the court reporters are missing the story," he said, "the jurors are missing the story."


    11) Trump National Golf Club in N.Y. Fires Undocumented Workers, Lawyer Says
    By Mihir Zaveri and Annie Correal, January 26, 2019

    About a dozen workers at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester, N.Y., were fired this month because they were in the country illegally, according to their lawyer.CreditCreditMike Segar/Reuters

    For eight years, it seemed to Margarita Cruz that the management at the Trump Organization's golf club in Westchester, N.Y., did not notice — or did not care — that the green card and Social Security card she had used to get hired were fake, purchased in Queens for about $120.
    Ms. Cruz, a housekeeper, said she cleaned guest rooms, offices and shops at the club. She laundered sheets and pool towels. But that all ended this month, she said.
    Ms. Cruz and about a dozen other employees — housekeepers, landscapers and a head chef — at the club, Trump National Golf Club, were fired Jan. 18 because they were in the country illegally, according to interviews with Ms. Cruz and the former workers' lawyer.

    The New York Times reported in December that undocumented immigrants had been employed at another club owned by the Trump Organization, the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., and that they were kept on the payroll for years even though management there had some knowledge of their fraudulent papers.

    Several workers deemed ineligible to work in the country had already been fired at the Bedminster club, according to people familiar with the matter.
    The employment of undocumented workers at Trump Organization properties runs counter to President Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric, which he has made central to his campaign and his presidency. He is currently in a heated political battle to build a wall along the border with Mexico, which he claims would stop drugs and crime. Evidence does not support Mr. Trump's thesis.
    There is nothing to indicate that Mr. Trump or Trump Organization executives knew about the workers' immigration status at either golf club. But Ms. Cruz, 44, said she believed that management at the Westchester club knew about her immigration status before January.
    Her papers were requested again two years ago, she said, not just when she was hired. Anibal Romero, who represents Ms. Cruz and 14 other former workers at the golf club, the majority of whom were fired Jan. 18, was stronger in his wording.

    "I'm not buying that they didn't know," Mr. Romero said.
    Neither Ms. Cruz nor the other former workers received benefits like health insurance or a pension, as other golf club employees did, Mr. Romero said. Most of his clients came into the country through Mexico, Mr. Romero said, and were originally from countries such as Mexico, Ecuador and Honduras.

    "This was a two-tiered system," he said. "The people who were legal and the people who are undocumented."
    He said the workers were fired by being individually called into a room by an executive, who read their names off a list.
    The White House referred questions to the Trump Organization on Saturday. The Trump Organization and the Westchester golf club did not respond to requests for comment.
    In a statement to The Post, Eric Trump, who manages the Trump Organization with his brother Donald Jr., said: "We are making a broad effort to identify any employee who has given false and fraudulent documents to unlawfully gain employment. Where identified, any individual will be terminated immediately."
    Ms. Cruz entered the United States in 2009 near Piedras Negras, Mexico, on the Texas border, she said, with a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. Her parents had paid a coyote $11,000 for the trip.
    She said that in Mexico she earned about $40 a week working at a restaurant. She started at $11 per hour at the golf club, and then got a raise to $14 per hour. She said she did not have any savings when she was fired because she had been paying back her parents.
    Mr. Trump's political rhetoric has been surprising, she said, because he would regularly come by the golf club before his election and give the workers $50 tips in cash.

    "He would come over and say hello, ask your name and how long you had worked at the club," Ms. Cruz said. "He would ask you how you liked the rug, or a picture on the wall, things like that."
    She added, "If he really did hate Latinos so much, why did he come over to talk to us?"
    She said some of her colleagues had worked at the golf club for 18 years.
    "I couldn't understand why he started talking like that about Latinos now and why he fired us," she said.
    Mr. Romero said he is seeking federal and state investigations of the golf club to see if it had been exploiting the undocumented workers.


    12) Thousands More Troops Heading to Border as Defense Dept. Officials Defend Deployments
    By Helene Cooper and Catie Edmondson, January 29, 2019

    Soldiers last year at Base Camp Donna in Texas. The deployment of several thousand troops to secure the southwestern border will total more than $600 million by the end of September.CreditCreditTamir Kalifa for The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is poised to send at least 2,000 more active-duty troops to the southwestern border, Defense Department officials said Tuesday, deployments that have already cost the military hundreds of millions of dollars and thrust the department into the center of the debate over border security and President Trump's proposed wall.
    The acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, told reporters that the United States would be sending "several thousand" additional troops to provide more support for the Department of Homeland Security's border patrol efforts. Defense Department officials later said that they expect that number to be around 2,000.
    That would come on top of the 2,400 troops who are there now, bringing the deployed number at the border close to the high of 5,900 that it reached in the weeks surrounding the midterm elections in November.

    The deployment of several thousand military troops to secure the southwestern border will total more than $600 million by the end of the fiscal year in September, Pentagon officials also told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

    The deployment of active-duty troops through the end of January is estimated to cost $132 million, said Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, the director of operations for the joint staff. The cost of the National Guard's operations at the border through the fiscal year, he estimated, will cost $550 million.
    Since Mr. Trump declared what he called a national security crisis at the border that warranted the deployment of active-duty troops, the Defense Department has sought to limit their role. But the administration has kept them in the mix. The additional troops will be used to install concertina wire and provide more surveillance of the border area, Mr. Shanahan said.
    Mr. Shanahan replaced Jim Mattis, who resigned in December as defense secretary, in a rebuke of much of Mr. Trump's national security policy.
    At one point last year, Mr. Trump described a "wall of people" to stop caravans of Central American refugees and called for up to 15,000 troops to defend the border. The Pentagon reluctantly sent 5,900, then cut that number quickly back to 2,400. The president also spoke of telling the military to respond to migrants throwing rocks as if they were rifles.
    But the deployments can go only so far. The Posse Comitatus Act, dating to Reconstruction, bars American forces from engaging in law enforcement activities within the borders of the United States.

    Democrats say the deployments — especially the ones just before the midterms — were flagrantly political.

    "I am extremely concerned that we preserve the reality and perception that the U.S. military is apolitical," said Representative Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan. "It is hard to feel it wasn't political given how close it was to the midterms."
    Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, upon being told that Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, declined his invitation to testify on the issue of border security, cried foul.
    "Your attempt to use the President's recent shutdown as an excuse not to testify before Congress prior to the impending shutdown is outrageous," Mr. Thompson wrote to Ms. Nielsen in a letter on Tuesday.
    Appearing before the House committee for the first time since Democrats took control this month, Admiral Gilday and John Rood, the under secretary of defense for policy, defended the deployments and said the military's presence have yielded "very successful" results.
    "We believe that our military's presence and support has served to increase the effectiveness" of operations at the border, Admiral Gilday said, adding that the Defense Department has a "long history" of supporting efforts to secure American borders.
    "We're not trying just to have a photo op down there," he continued.
    As negotiators from the House and the Senate begin meeting this week to hash out a plan to secure the southwestern border and fund the government, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee seized on the Pentagon's cost estimates to press for more border security funding.

    "We're here at this moment in time because we failed to provide adequate resources" to the Department of Homeland Security, said Representative Paul Mitchell, Republican of Michigan.
    Democrats on the committee remained skeptical.
    It is "unclear why this is an appropriate use of the military's time and resources," said Representative Adam Smith of Washington, the chairman of the committee. "It appears service members are laying concertina wire and performing other tasks that are better suited for civilian law enforcement agencies."
    Admiral Gilday said active-duty troops were deployed before the midterms because thousands of migrants were "massing" along the border. The Trump administration chose to send troops because they could be deployed more quickly than the National Guard, he said. The Department of Homeland Security is currently tracking three migrant caravans containing 12,000 people moving toward the border, Mr. Rood said.
    Democrats pressed Defense Department officials to identify which projects would be affected if Mr. Trump declares a national emergency and moves funds to build a border wall. Mr. Rood declined to answer, and added that the department had "only done the preliminary preplanning" for such an event.
    "We are supporting our federal partners on the border, and that mission has been extended until September," said Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. "We are currently sourcing the units involved and there will be an increase of a few thousand troops."


    13) 'The Nation Has Stood Up': Indigenous Clans in Canada Battle Pipeline Project
    By Amber Bracken, January 27, 2019

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police clearing a roadblock set up by a First Nations group in remote British Columbia.CreditCreditAmber Bracken for The New York Times

    HOUSTON, British Columbia — Amid vast forests of spruce, pine and poplar trees, deep in the interior of British Columbia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived at a small bridge this month to clear a group of First Nations people who had set up a blockade across a narrow, gravel logging road.
    Dozens of officers, some equipped in military-style tactical uniforms and carrying semiautomatic rifles, stared across a plywood and barbed wire roadblock as the Wet'suwet'en people and their supporters gathered behind it. A helicopter circled overhead, and police boats were deployed on the pristine Morice River running nearby the protest site.
    "You're trespassing on Wet'suwet'en land," Molly Wickham yelled at the police. She is the spokeswoman for the Gitdumden checkpoint, as the blockade and surrounding encampment is known, after one of the clans of the Wet'suwet'en people who claim this part of the province.

    But the officers ignored her and started to systemically dismantle the blockade, cutting the wire and pushing against the wooden structure, testing for weak spots. Three protesters had locked their arms to it, and the pressure hurt, causing them to cry out.

    "You're going to break their arms," other protesters shouted. "Stop!"
    The police kept going, and the arrests began. The first person taken into custody was pulled over the top of the barricade and disappeared in a crush of uniforms. The second was tackled, his face pressed to the ground, after the officers breached the barricade.
    Fourteen were arrested in total, including Ms. Wickham. Other protesters scattered, setting fire to felled trees to cover their retreat. Some were headed to another blockade and encampment further down the same road, the Unist'ot'en checkpoint, named after another Wet'suwet'en clan.

    Protesters watch as the police dismantle the barricade.CreditAmber Bracken for The New York Times

    The police were there to enforce a temporary injunction from the British Columbia Supreme Court, allowing pre-construction to start on a 416-mile, 6.2 billion Canadian dollar pipeline that would cross the traditional territory of the Wet'suwet'en. It would carry gas extracted from the Dawson Creek area of the province to the liquefied natural gas export terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia.
    The protesters were hoping to prevent the work by blocking the lone access road to where construction would begin.
    The company behind the pipeline, Coastal GasLink, has signed agreements on the project with all 20 of the elected councils representing First Nations people along the route. Coastal GasLink has also conditionally awarded 620 million in Canadian dollars in contract work to Indigenous businesses as part of the pipeline project.

    But the protests at the two checkpoints highlight a dual leadership structure among the Wet'suwet'en people. Most of their elected councils, which operate on government-established reserves with set boundaries, gave their go-ahead for the pipeline.
    Most of the hereditary chiefs, however — who collectively claim title to a New Jersey-sized section of British Columbia and represent the traditional governance of the Wet'suwet'en — were opposed.
    A spokeswoman for Coastal GasLink, Jacquelynn Benson, said in an email that the company respects both leadership systems and has held 120 meetings with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs since 2012, as well as logging 1,300 phone calls and emails with them, trying to reach a solution.
    In December, after the court injunction allowing work to proceed had been issued but before the police arrived, five of the hereditary chiefs gave a news conference at the Gitdumden checkpoint to explain why they remain opposed to the pipeline, despite the economic benefits promised the Wet'suwet'en people in the agreements with the councils.
    "Money means nothing to us," said Chief Madeek, 69, one of the hereditary leaders, who also goes by Jeff Brown. "Our children, our land, our future, is here and that's what we are going to protect."
    He added: "Our people never ever surrendered or ceded any portion of this territory. We are the rightful titleholders of the territory, we are the caretakers of this land and that's what we are going to do, take care of this land."

    The land claimed by the hereditary chiefs is covered by a landmark 1997 decision from Canada's Supreme Court, Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, which ruled that the province could not extinguish Indigenous titles to the land. But many of the details of the land claim, including the boundaries, remain unresolved.

    Protecting the Wet'suwet'en claim to the land is what drove Ms. Wickham to join the blockade at the Gitdumden site, a scrappy collection of canvas tents bathed in wood smoke.
    Before her arrest, she spoke about her hopes for her children as her daughter, Lily, 3, bounced around with a bright blue tutu pulled over her winter clothes.
    She said she sees a connection between the despair of her people, for whom suicide is the leading cause of death up until age 44, and the devastation of traditional land.
    "I need to protect my kids from that. I don't want them to grow up in a world where they feel like they have to kill themselves," she said, adding that she is determined for her children to know their language, their songs and the land of their ancestors.
    Like all of those arrested, Ms. Wickham, 37, was released from custody within two days.
    Some parts of the roughly 8,500 square miles of territory claimed by the Wet'suwet'en have become farmland, towns or industrial developments.
    But beyond the Unist'ot'en checkpoint, which anti-pipeline protesters have maintained for years, over 500 square miles of Wet'suwet'en-claimed land remains a refuge for spawning salmon as well as bears, moose, beaver, grouse, eagles and marten. It is abundant with the berries and plants the Wet'suwet'en harvest for food and medicine.
    The Unist'ot'en camp has become an important part of a broader movement of Indigenous resistance to Canada's fossil fuel ambitions. By asserting their sovereignty over the land, Indigenous groups have tried to stall, with varying degrees of success, oil and gas projects across the country.

    Freda Huson, 54, the spokeswoman at the Unist'ot'en camp, raised her family on a reserve and worked hard to pay off a house and five vehicles. Still, she said she wasn't happy, so she came to this wilderness area in 2010 where, as a child, she had spent her holidays fishing and hunting. Since her return, she said her spirit has come back to life.
    "Without our land, we aren't who we are," Ms. Huson said. "The land is us and we are the land."
    Of the energy industry, which she views as a threat to the land, she had little flattering to say. "They want to take, take, take," she said. "And they aren't taking no for an answer."
    Victor Jim, 67, an elected Wet'suwet'en chief, said he also deeply values the natural bounty and the cultural and spiritual importance of the land.
    But he said pipeline representatives had satisfied his concerns about the project's environmental impact and told him the project would go ahead, with or without his signature, so he decided to make a deal.
    The reserve he leads relies on federal government funding, and the community struggles to address underemployment and many social issues on a shoestring budget. With cash from the pipeline agreements, the community is planning a language center in hopes of reviving fluency in Wet'suwet'en.
    Mr. Jim is also a hereditary chief, and he said he wanted both arms of the leadership to find a shared solution to the split over the pipeline. "We have got to start working together," he said.
    A few days after the arrests at Gitdumden, the hereditary chiefs arrived at a difficult decision to comply with the temporary injunction, and, for the time being, the two checkpoints are open. The chiefs had expressed concern about exposing people to more arrests and violence, and the issue will return to court soon.
    "It's not over yet," Ms. Huson said. "The nation has stood up."


    14)  'I'm Going to Die Here,' She Told the Guards. They Didn't Listen.
    By Sarah Maslin Nir, January 30, 2019

    Lamekia Dockery with a relative. Ms. Dockery died within days of arriving at the Elkhart Community Corrections work-release center in Goshen, Ind.CreditCreditvia Charmel Dockery

    GOSHEN, Ind. — "Offender Dockery stated to me around 0800 at the front counter that she was having stomach pains for 2 days and wanted to go to the hospital," read the first entry in a corrections officer's log.
    It was the first of what became multiple pleas for help by a newly arrived inmate, Lamekia Dockery.
    The response? "I advised her to stop over-talking me."
    For the six days she was incarcerated at the Elkhart Community Corrections work-release facility, Ms. Dockery, vomiting and unable to eat, asked for medical attention, to no avail.

    "She sprawled out on the floor stating she couldn't breathe," reads an entry at 12:10 p.m. the next day. "She seemed to be talking just fine."

    She was dying.
    Ms. Dockery's death at age 36 underscores the dangers of the nation's jails, where inmates are either doing time for the least serious crimes or have not been convicted of the charges against them. Jails often have fewer resources than prisons and, like the work-release center here in Goshen, lack medical staff. Illness and injury can go untreated and every week, it seems, brings a new report of an unsafe jail or a death that was likely preventable.
    "It would be a national scandal if people realized exactly how bad it was and how much abuse inmates are subjected to when they become sick inside prisons and jails," said William R. Claiborne, a lawyer in Savannah, Ga., who specializes in cases of inadequate medical care, such as one in which an inmate was told he was faking fainting spells, only to die of congestive heart failure. "The more marginalized that you are, the more likely you are to not be believed, the more likely you are to get denied care," Mr. Claiborne said.
    The problem is worse, he said, for those already discounted by society: As a black woman and a drug user, Ms. Dockery was in that category. Jails have not adapted to the growth of the number of female inmates, which has far outpaced the growth in the number of men, according to the Vera Institute of Justice, a group that advocates criminal justice changes and is focused on jail, and experts say that racial bias has contributed to worse health outcomes for black women.
    In 2015, Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman jailed after a traffic stop in Waller County, Tex., hanged herself in a cell. In December in Bexar County, Tex., Janice Dotson-Stephens, who was black and mentally ill, was "ignored to death," as her lawyer put it, after her family had been told that she was not even in custody.
    Ms. Dockery was sent to the work-release center for just shy of a year after she violated probation on a shoplifting conviction. Because she had failed a drug test on arrival, officers dismissed her complaints as those of a user in withdrawal, an ordeal that is rarely life-threatening. But she died of sepsis, probably caused by a perforated ulcer in her intestine, according to James P. Elliott, the Elkhart County coroner.

    Inmates said in interviews that Ms. Dockery begged for aid incessantly. Officially, she requested help at least a half-dozen times, according to internal emails and logs kept by corrections officers, which repeatedly noted her vomiting, moaning in pain, or even screaming. In response, she was punished with demerits and solitary confinement. When she kicked a door in protest, she was shackled.
    Ms. Dockery's death might have been averted, had the guards and administrators heeded her requests. But the Elkhart County prosecutor, Vicki E. Becker, declined to hold anyone criminally responsible.
    The guards were not culpable because "none of them expressed any belief that a stomachache could result in her death," Ms. Becker said in an interview.
    Staff members receive no medical training that could have helped them assess Ms. Dockery's condition. "I am pretty sure she is going through withdrawals," Tiffany Faigh, the work-release coordinator, wrote in an email to seven other employees. "She claims she hasn't ate since she has been here, which is probably why her stomach hurts."

    Her family believes her cries were dismissed because of who she was: "She was a black woman, and they say she was on drugs, so they looked down on her," said Bertina Slaughter, Ms. Dockery's aunt.
    "They didn't think she was worth nothing," Ms. Slaughter said. "But she was worth a lot to us."
    Ms. Dockery grew up singing gospel in a church choir in Gary, Ind. As a little girl, she would serenade the family with R&B songs on the porch, dressed up in her grandmother's pearls and too-big high heels. She loved math and babying her two little sisters, making them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches even if they weren't hungry.
    Ms. Dockery, a single mother of five who was nicknamed Mekia, had worked in a factory and as a hotel housekeeper. But after teachers at her children's school discovered burn marks on one of her sons, she lost custody of her children permanently. Her family said it was an accidental injury that occurred when two of her boys were roughhousing without supervision.

    The loss "swept her life from her," Ms. Slaughter said. She became homeless and lived intermittently on the streets of Elkhart, rebuffing her extended family's offers to stay with them because being around other people's children, Ms. Slaughter said, was too hard.
    Court records in Missouri, Michigan and Indiana, in which Ms. Dockery is sometimes referred to as Laminika, show a number of arrests and guilty pleas for offenses like marijuana possession and retail fraud. She entered the work-release center in Goshen on July 25, 2018.
    The center sits between Highway 33 and an overgrown stream called Rock Run Creek. It is a low-slung building that houses inmates in two open-plan barracks, separated by sex. Inmates typically labor at a local factory, their whereabouts tracked by GPS ankle bracelets.
    Ms. Dockery's troubles began on arrival, when she was placed on a seven-day lockdown because she failed a drug test. Her blood contained benzodiazepine, amphetamine and methamphetamines, according to a toxicology report provided by the corrections facility. Withdrawal from such substances does not typically entail vomiting.
    At any given time, there are between four and seven guards for the 323 inmates that can be held at Elkhart Community Corrections. That leaves few staff members available to accompany inmates to a medical facility.
    "She wants to go to the hospital," an officer named Jessica Newman wrote in an email to her supervisors on July 28. Ms. Newman added: "If you say to send her, third shift only has three on tonight."

    Ms. Faigh and Ms. Newman did not respond to emails or telephone messages. Jose Solis, a guard whom Ms. Dockery named in a complaint, could not be reached.

    Ms. Dockery spent much of her time on the floor of a communal bathroom, curled around a toilet, according to inmate interviews and official logs. She was written up for disobedience when she collapsed or refused to get up from a fetal position on the ground, and for "hooting and hollering."
    At one point, a guard instructed Ms. Dockery to seek out her caseworker for help, according to documents, but when another found her searching for her caseworker's office, she was accused of lying and given 15 more days confinement.
    When her wails disturbed the other prisoners, the guards locked her in what they called "the tank," a solitary confinement cell.
    She refused to stop banging on the door. "I spun Dockery to her stomach and proceeded to shackle her and double lock the shackles," a corrections officer recorded on July 30. "I ordered her to sit on her bunk and calm down." She died the next day.
    At a nearby church that many inmates are permitted to attend, many stood up on the Sunday after Ms. Dockery's death and detailed what they had witnessed of her ordeal, several in tears, the pastor, Tony Brinson, said.
    "There needs to be justice for her," said Renea Taylor, an inmate interviewed there on a later Sunday. "I close my eyes and I can hear her cry."
    Ms. Dockery's sole medical treatment appears to have been an Alka-Seltzer provided by the guards and some Tylenol that other inmates purchased for her from a vending machine after pooling their money, according to Nini Mora, another inmate.

    "She kept saying, 'I'm going to die here,'" said a third inmate, who asked that her name not be used for fear of retribution.
    In October 2018, Ms. Becker, the Elkhart County prosecutor, announced that there would be no criminal charges relating to Ms. Dockery's death after an investigation by its homicide squad.
    "If you look at it objectively and logically, there is no criminal law in Indiana that would appropriately address what went on," Ms. Becker said.
    In Indiana's criminal code, unlike in some other states, she said, inmates in correctional facilities are not considered dependents; Ms. Dockery's caregivers are thus not criminally liable for failing to provide help.
    "Do I want to see accountability? From the perspective of, no one should have to suffer like this, the answer is absolutely yes," Ms. Becker added. "From the perspective of, is that something I have the power to control? Unfortunately not," she said.
    Federal prosecutors could pursue criminal charges in such a case, but rarely do, Mr. Claiborne, the lawyer in Savannah, said.
    Some of the corrections officers who oversaw Ms. Dockery have resigned or now work in other jobs in the county. The board of commissioners declined to comment on her death.

    The family is considering a civil suit. When Ms. Dockery's family went to identify the body, the cheeks were streaked with tears, said Charmel Dockery, Ms. Dockery's mother.
    Among the pages of write-ups and reports, Ms. Dockery speaks in her own words just once, making a complaint after being shackled. She was treated so roughly by one officer, she wrote, that someone else intervened: "He told him that that wasn't right, to have me in handcuffs while I was in severe pain."

    Susan C. Beachy and Alain Delaquérière contributed research


    15) A Mother's Fatal Fall on Subway Stairs Rouses New Yorkers to Demand Accessibility
    By Michael Gold and Emma G. Fitzsimmons, January 29, 2019

    Malaysia GoodsonCreditMatthew Brown/Hearst Connecticut Media
    Malaysia Goodson entered a Manhattan subway station on Monday night pushing a stroller.

    Her 1-year-old daughter, Rhylee, was nestled inside. Ms. Goodson, 22, of Stamford, Conn., had brought her along on a shopping trip to the city
    Like so many New York City parents, Ms. Goodson faced a familiar but perilous challenge: hauling her stroller and daughter down the steps of a station that, like most stops in the city's creaking subway system, had no elevator.
    As Ms. Goodson made her descent, she fell, tumbling down a flight of stairs and onto the subway platform at the Seventh Avenue station, at 53rd Street, officials said.

    Her daughter survived the fall. Ms. Goodson did not.
    Her death reverberated throughout New York City, among stunned parents who often traverse crowded subway stairs with strollers and among people who are disabled and regularly encounter an inaccessible transit system.
    "Everybody who has been a parent or a caregiver knows that this is a problem," said Christine Serdjenian Yearwood, the founder of Up-Stand, an organization that has pushed to make transit more accessible for parents.
    "I've had a lot of people write and say, 'This could have been me,'" she said.
    Ms. Goodson was a doting parent and an outgoing person, her mother, Tamika Goodson, said. One of four children, she was raised in New York but moved to Stamford with her family nine years ago.
    Mark Marchesani, who was her guidance counselor at Westhill High School in Stamford, remembered Ms. Goodson as a teenager who "had a tough shell" but was "a sweetheart."
    "She was the kind of kid that when you made her smile," he said, "it felt like a real win."
    After graduating in 2015, her mother said, Ms. Goodson had big dreams. She worked for about a year at a day care center in Stamford, and loved it. But she had also talked about becoming a security guard or a flight attendant.

    Ms. Goodson's daughter was the light of her life, her cousin, Ronshuana Anthony, said.
    "Malaysia just gave so much of her self," Ms. Anthony said, adding, "She'd give her last breath to her if she could."
    When emergency responders arrived at the subway station on Monday night, Ms. Goodson was unconscious and unresponsive, police said.
    She was taken to the Mount Sinai West hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
    Ms. Goodson's daughter was found conscious and treated at the scene. She was reunited with her father and grandmother in the city and was doing well, Tamika Goodson said.
    It was not clear whether Ms. Goodson suffered a medical condition or if she was killed from the impact of the fall. The city's medical examiner will determine her cause of death, officials said.
    Shams Tarek, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway, called the death "a heartbreaking tragedy" and said the agency would work with the police to investigate.
    While officials are continuing to probe the circumstances around Ms. Goodson's fall, her death has shined a light on the lack of elevator service and accessibility issues that have long plagued the city's subway system.

    The station where Ms. Goodson fell does not have an elevator. Only about a quarter of the subway system's 472 stations have elevators, and the ones that exist are often out of order.
    At the 7th Avenue subway station in Midtown Manhattan. The station, at 53rd Street, does not have elevators.CreditGabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

    One survey of subway elevator breakdowns found that, on average, each elevator breaks down 53 times a year.
    When the elevators are functioning properly, they are often small, odoriferous and inconveniently positioned at the far ends of stations. That can make them frustrating for disabled subway riders who depend on them and an unappealing option for straphangers who do not.
    "The subway system is not accessible for everyone, and that's an environment the M.T.A. should not allow," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter. He was one of several politicians, including the City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, to call for a more accessible subway system.

    lawsuit filed in 2017 against the transit authority, which operates the subway, described New York's subway system as one of the least accessible in the country and accused the agency of violating the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
    The case, which was joined by the Justice Department in 2018, is still active, according to Disability Rights Advocates, which is representing the plaintiffs.
    The authority has been slow to add elevators to its sprawling system, which first opened more than a century ago. Washington's subway, which was built in the 1970s and is much smaller than New York's, has far more elevators.
    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office, which called Ms. Goodson's death a tragedy, responded to questions about the system's lack of elevators with a statement saying that the transit agency "must make accessibility a priority.".

    Andy Byford, the subway's leader, embraced the cause when he announced a major plan to modernize the subway last year. The plan, Fast Forward, calls for increasing the rate of elevator installations, to more than 50 stations in the next five-year capital plan from 19 in the current capital plan.
    The plan would also add enough elevators to the subway system by 2025 so that no rider would be more than two stops from an accessible station, Mr. Tarek said. But Mr. Byford's proposal could cost $40 billion over 10 years and has not been funded.
    Currently, there are gaps as big as 10 stops between accessible stations in some places. Besides accessible stations, New Yorkers who rely on wheelchairs can use buses or Access-A-Ride, the city's notoriously unreliable paratransit service.
    Mr. Byford has made accessibility one of his major priorities since joining the transit agency one year ago. He hired Alex Elegudin as the subway's first "senior adviser for systemwide accessibility."
    Mr. Elegudin uses a wheelchair as a result of a spinal cord injury stemming from a deer-related car accident in 2003.
    Danny Pearlstein, of the Riders Alliance, an advocacy group, said the lack of an elevator at the Seventh Avenue station, a transfer point between three subway lines that cross four boroughs, was "indicative of how much the system falls short today, and how much we need to improve the situation."
    "At some point in each New Yorker's life, they will need an elevator to travel the subway," said Mr. Pearlstein, the alliance's policy and communications director.

    New Yorkers with young children said the scenario was all too familiar. On a popular Facebook group for mothers, UES Mommas, one woman posted about Ms. Goodson's death, quickly drawing dozens of comments.
    "How many of us do this on a daily basis?" the woman wrote, of lugging her stroller on subway stairs. "I know my family does."
    Christine Ann Denny, a mother of two and a psychiatry professor at Columbia University, said the stress of carrying her daughter on the subway was one reason she moved to New Jersey.
    "Carrying a stroller, my briefcase for work, my daughter and her backpack with bottles for day care — it was a nightmare," she said.
    Ms. Denny said she was not even surprised by the news.
    "Going down the stairs, I didn't feel safe," she said. "People are trying to push by you to get ahead of you. Once in a while, you'd meet a great human being who would help you get down the stairs."

    Debra West contributed reporting from Stamford.


    16)  DNA tests could reveal if Kevin Cooper was wrongly convicted of murder. Why didn't Jerry Brown order them?
    By Narda Zacchino, January 30, 2019
    Jerry Brown at his ranch in Williams, Calif. on Dec. 28, 2017. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

    On Christmas Eve, shortly before the end of his final term as California’s governor, Jerry Brown ordered new DNA testing in a case that has been cited repeatedly as a possible miscarriage of justice.
    But Brown inexplicably stopped short of ordering all the testing needed to finally settle whether Kevin Cooper was wrongly convicted for the savage 1983 murders of a Chino Hills family and a child staying at their house.
    Cooper, a convicted burglar who had escaped from a nearby prison two days before the murders, was soon arrested, although the one family member who survived the attack, Joshua Ryen, 8, indicated immediately after being rushed to the hospital that there were three attackers and they were white. Cooper is African American.
    Brown authorized DNA tests on only four of nine critically important items on an evidence list Cooper’s attorneys provided.
    Over the decades Cooper has fought to prove his innocence, DNA technology has become so precise that testing of key evidence could finally determine whether or not he is guilty. It might even point to one or more others involved in the killing of Chino Hills chiropractors and Arabian horse breeders Peggy and Doug Ryen, both 41; their daughter Jessica, 10; and neighbor Christopher Hughes, 11.
    That’s why Brown’s action is so puzzling.
    Brown took an important step in allowing additional analysis and appointing a special master to oversee the testing. But he authorized DNA tests on only four of nine critically important items on an evidence list Cooper’s attorneys provided. They are a tan T-shirt believed worn by the killer; a never-tested bloody towel taken from the Ryen home; a hatchet believed to have been used in the murders; and ahatchet sheath that looks newer, found in the home where Cooper hid for two days after his escape.
    Most puzzling of the items Brown did not authorize for testing is a clump of long light-brown hairs found clutched in the hand of Jessica, quite possibly yanked from the head of her killer and clearly not Cooper’s hair.
    Josh Ryen, now in his 40s, pleaded for further investigation in a 2004 television interview on “48 Hours”: “The hair needs to be tested,” he said. “Her hand is clenched fighting for her life with hair in it. So, I want to know. I need to know." Brown’s order won’t help.
    Brown also did not authorize DNA testing of the victims’ fingernail scrapings, or items that could prove Cooper was framed, including a vial of Cooper’s blood drawn when he was arrested. It contains the blood preservative EDTA, as expected, but also the blood of at least one unknown person.
    It was blood from this vial that Cooper’s attorneys believe was planted on the medium-size tan T-shirt that Cooper (who wears a size large) demanded in 2002 to be tested. When it revealed his blood, he and his attorneys were shocked, and in 2004 they got a retest. This time, EDTA was found in the blood spot, which Cooper’s attorneys said was proof that investigators took preserved blood from the vial taken when he was arrested and planted it on the shirt. The lab analyst later rescinded his EDTA finding, saying it was a result of contamination in his lab.
    Brown’s order also excluded testing for EDTA of a tiny spot of blood determined to be Cooper’s that was found on a wall in the Ryen home. Someone else’s DNA was also found in the spot. This test is important because it was the lone bit of evidence putting Cooper at the crime scene; his attorneys believe it was planted.
    The testing Brown authorized does include important items. Advanced DNA testing technology today might be able to identify the killer who wore the T-shirt 35 years ago by testing the inside collar and armpit material. It might pinpoint the user of the hatchet wielded in the attack. The orange towel should reveal the DNA of anyone who touched it. The hatchet was found near the T-shirt on the side of a road near the Ryen residence.
    The San Bernardino County coroner initially said the victims were slain by three or four killers wielding a hatchet, knives and an ice pick, inflicting 144 wounds within four minutes. Several witnesses reported seeing three people in the Ryens’ stolen car shortly after the killings, and when the car was found by police a few days later, it had blood on three seats.
    Five days after the slayings, a woman told a deputy she suspected her convicted-murderer boyfriend of being involved and gave the deputy bloody coveralls the boyfriend left at their house the night of the murders. She also identified the bloody tan T-shirt as one she bought, and said her boyfriend was wearing it the day of the killings; and she reported that his missing hatchet resembled the one identified as the murder weapon.
    Sheriff Floyd Tidwell seemingly had a solid lead.
    But when he learned that Cooper had escaped from a nearby minimum-security prison and hid out near the Ryens, he declared Cooper the lone suspect.

    It’s jarring, of course, to think that investigators would have ignored evidence that didn’t fit their theory. But in a minority opinion about the case, U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William C. Fletcher wrote: “In the course of their investigation, they discounted, disregarded, and discarded evidence pointing to other killers.” Fletcher has since said he believes the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department framed Cooper.
    The coveralls were discarded without being tested, and the woman who gave them to police was never called as a witness. The ex-boyfriend has consistently denied his involvement. Cooper’s attorneys have his DNA and will turn it over the state in the testing process.
    As for Cooper, in a recent interview from a cramped visiting cell on death row, he talked about justice and the need for further tests: “People who want me executed say the families need closure. But closure is not justice. Truth is justice.”

    Narda Zacchino is a journalist and author who has been researching the Kevin Cooper case for two years.


    17) Morton Sobell, Last Defendant in Rosenberg Spy Case, Is Dead at 101
    By Michael T. Kaufman and Sam Roberts, January 30, 2019
    Morton Sobell in 1969. He was convicted in 1951 with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg of conspiracy to commit espionage.CreditCreditNeal Boenzi/The New York Times

    Morton Sobell, who was convicted in the Cold War spy trial that delivered Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to their deaths and divided the nation for decades, died on Dec. 26 in Manhattan, his son, Mark, confirmed on Wednesday. He was 101.
    Mr. Sobell, whose death was not reported at the time, had lived in the Bronx and then on the Upper West Side and had recently been in a nursing home.
    Serving 18 years in prison until 1969, Mr. Sobell asserted his innocence until 2008, when, in an interview with The New York Times, he startled his defenders by reversing himself and admitting that he had indeed been a Soviet spy.
    “Yeah, yeah, yeah, call it that,” he said. “I never thought of it as that in those terms.”
    In the interview, he also implicated Mr. Rosenberg in a conspiracy that supplied the Soviets with non-atomic military and industrial secrets stolen from the United States government.

    Mr. Rosenberg, an engineer from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, was tried along with his wife and Mr. Sobell in 1951 on the same charge: conspiracy to commit espionage. The government portrayed Mr. Rosenberg as the mastermind of an espionage ring that provided Soviet scientists not only with classified conventional weapons technology, but also with the know-how to enable them, by 1949, to replicate the plutonium bomb developed by the United States that destroyed Nagasaki in 1945 and ended World War II.
    Mrs. Rosenberg was portrayed as her husband’s partner and accomplice in a plot that prosecutors all but blamed for emboldening China, with Soviet coaxing, to invade Korea in 1950.
    Testimony by government witnesses entangled Mr. Sobell in the conspiracy, though no evidence was presented that tied him to the theft of any nuclear secrets.
    After a two-week trial, during which Mrs. Rosenberg’s brother, David Greenglass, gave the most damning testimony, the jury found all three defendants guilty of conspiracy. Judge Irving R. Kaufman sentenced the Rosenbergs to death, calling their crime “worse than murder.” Mr. Sobell was given a 30-year prison term and later remanded to Alcatraz. Mr. Greenglass later admitted that he had lied about the most incriminating evidence against his sister.

    On June 19, 1953, after exhausting two years of legal appeals, the Rosenbergs were executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing prison in New York. They were the only Americans to have been put to death for espionage-related crimes since the Civil War.

    The verdict, and particularly the penalty, which orphaned the Rosenbergs’ two young sons, generated global protests, scarred America’s psyche and divided progressives from pro-Soviet communists. It became an unbridgeable fault line that would open an enduring gulf between liberals and conservatives.
    Were all the defendants really spies? Did the information they deliver truly enable the Soviet Union to approach nuclear parity with the United States? Was the prosecution politically motivated, either to awaken Americans to the reality of Soviet espionage (as Mr. Sobell acknowledged decades later) or to shift public opinion and expedite another round of wholesale red-baiting?
    By the 1980s and ′90s, as the Cold War waned, new revelations about the case emerged. In memoirs, old Soviet leaders wrote about the role of the spy ring, and aging K.G.B. agents spoke of their contacts with the Rosenbergs.
    In 1995 the United States released the Venona papers, Soviet Embassy messages that American cryptographers had secretly deciphered a half-century earlier. They referred to a spy ring headed by a man code-named Liberal and Antenna, who was married to a woman identified only as Ethel.
    It was to be Mr. Sobell’s lot to spend much of his life overshadowed by his co-defendants. For those who said that the Rosenbergs had been framed, or that their executions were unjustified, Mr. Sobel was at best a lesser martyr. And for those who believed that the Rosenbergs were indeed spies, Mr. Sobell was, at best, a second-rate villain.
    He often expressed ambivalence about his part in the episode. He would pay homage to the Rosenbergs — Julius had been his college classmate and Young Communist League comrade — as heroes who had refused to save their lives by confessing or implicating others.
    Mr. Sobell, too, had resisted government hints of a reduced sentence if he confessed. But he would also differentiate himself from the couple, arguing that he should have been tried separately and that the charges against him didn’t mention the atomic bomb.

    In an interview with The Times in 1998, he implored a reporter: “When you write my obituary, please don’t say that I was accused of treason. I was charged and found guilty of conspiracy, which, you know, is like talking about espionage.”
    He insisted that the secrets he had supplied to the Soviets involved only defensive radar and artillery devices rather than “stuff that could be used to attack our country.” But many military experts believe that one of the devices he mentioned specifically, the SCR-584 radar, was used against American aircraft in Korea and Vietnam.

    Mr. Sobell, center, in 1978 with Robert Meeropol, left, and his brother, Michael, the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The Meeropols, who took the surname of the couple who adopted them after their parents were executed, met with Mr. Sobol in an effort to have the Rosenbergs’ case reopened. 

    While the defendants were tried together, Judge Kaufman distinguished between the Rosenbergs and Mr. Sobell when he sentenced them. The Rosenbergs, he said, had enabled the Soviet Union to develop an atomic bomb years earlier than the United States had anticipated, leading to Communist aggression in Korea, where American troops were then fighting.
    To Mr. Sobell, the judge said, “I do not for a moment doubt that you were engaged in espionage activities; however, the evidence in the case did not point to any activity on your part in connection with the atom bomb project.”
    Still, the 30 years that Judge Kaufman meted out was the maximum sentence under the law.
    Morton Sobell was born in Manhattan on April 11, 1917, to Louis and Rose Sobell, who had emigrated from the same Russian village before the Russian Revolution. His father, a pharmacist, opened a drugstore in the Bronx. In a 1974 memoir, “On Doing Time,” Mr. Sobell described Communist Party meetings held in his home.
    At Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan he befriended Max Elitcher. They both studied engineering at City College, where they joined the Young Communist League and met Julius Rosenberg, a fellow student.
    After graduation, Mr. Sobell and Mr. Elitcher worked for the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance and shared an apartment in Washington. After working for General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y., Mr. Sobell joined the Reeves Instrument Corporation of New York in 1948 as lead engineer on a radar tracking system. He recruited Mr. Elitcher for the project. They and their wives were next-door neighbors in Queens.

    At the trial, Mr. Elitcher supplied the bulk of the evidence against Mr. Sobell. He testified about a film canister that Mr. Sobell said he had at home — one that was too risky to keep but too valuable to destroy. According to Mr. Elitcher, at Mr. Sobell’s request, he drove him to Lower Manhattan and parked two blocks from the Rosenbergs’s apartment. Mr. Sobell got out and went inside. Mr. Elitcher waited in the car.
    Mr. Sobell returned a few minutes later and told him that “Julie” had said that Mr. Elitcher no longer needed to worry about being followed, as he had been previously. Mr. Sobell said he never heard from Mr. Elitcher again.
    Much of the case against Mr. Sobell rested on Mr. Elitcher’s testimony and Mr. Sobell’s sudden departure to Mexico with his wife and children after the arrest of Mrs. Rosenberg’s brother. In Mexico he used aliases, rented an apartment and sought ship passage to hospitable countries. On Aug. 16, 1950, armed men broke into the Sobells’ apartment and abducted Mr. Sobell, then turned him over to the F.B.I. at the border.
    Mr. Sobell never testified in his own defense.
    Once he was imprisoned, informants told the government that Mr. Sobell might reveal details of the espionage ring in return for a reduced sentence, but apparently his wife, Helen, persuaded him not to.

    In prison he met the racketeer Frank Costello and the union boss Jimmy Hoffa. By Mr. Sobell’s account, Mr. Hoffa once saw him looking at personal photographs in the prison yard. “Hey, Morty,” Hoffa called out, “what do you have there, secret plans?”
    In the prison library at Alcatraz, Mr. Sobell discovered an issue of Scientific American with an article about Robert Stroud, a convicted murderer who was being kept in isolation there. Mr. Stroud, who conducted ornithological studies in his cell, was portrayed by Burt Lancaster in the 1962 film “Birdman of Alcatraz.” Mr. Sobell expressed pride that he was able to sneak the article to Mr. Stroud.
    The two later became friends while being held at the Springfield Medical Center in Missouri. “I was the only one who would eat with the Birdman at Springfield,” Mr. Sobell said, “because after all those years in isolation without utensils, he only ate with his hands.”

    While Mr. Sobell was in prison, his wife gave up her career as a physicist and mounted a drive for his release through petitions, rallies and legal appeals, all of which were monitored by the F.B.I. The United States Court of Appeals in New York ultimately ordered his release on Jan. 14, 1969.
    Mr. Sobell suggested that his wife had been aware of his guilt, but it was unclear what she knew and for how long.
    While writing his memoir, Mr. Sobell studied electronics at Columbia University and taught at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now the New York University Tandon School of Engineering). He also worked for a medical supply company and developed a low-cost hearing aid, which he helped to distribute in Cuba and Vietnam.
    His confession in 2008, his stepdaughter, Sydney Gurewitz Clemens, told The Times, “complicated history and the personal histories of the many millions of people, all over the world, who gave time, energy, money and heart to the struggle to support his claims of innocence.”
    Mr. Sobell’s first marriage ended in divorce in 1980; Helen Sobell diedin 2002 at 84. In 1993 he married Nancy Gruber. She died last July. In addition to his son, he is survived by Ms. Gurewitz Clemens and grandchildren.
    Most of the protagonists in the case, Mr. Sobell included, were Jews who became Communists during the Depression, when capitalism seemed to be lacking and the Soviets asserted that they had outlawed anti-Semitism. They stayed committed to the cause when they spied, largely during World War II, when the Soviets were American allies against the Nazis.
    “Now I know it was an illusion,” Mr. Sobell said of Communism in 2008. “I was taken in.”

    Michael T. Kaufman, who was a correspondent and editor for The Times, died in 2010.



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