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


Artwork by Kevin "Rashid" Johnson

Save the date: 
January 26, 2019, 9:00 P.M. broadcast of 48 Hours on CBS
for a two-hour television interview with Kevin Cooper and others about his case.
Erin Moriarty is revisiting the case, interviewing Kevin Cooper, his lawyer Norm Hile, and others including (I believe), the actual killer.



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:



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

Read in browser »

Recent Articles:

Get Involved

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



Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg

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

Keith H. Washington
TDC# 1487958
McConnell Unit
3001 S. Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78102
Friends, it's time to get Malik out of solitary confinement.

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

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

Phone zap on Tuesday, November 13

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

- Convene special review of Malik's placement in Ad-Seg and immediately release him back to general population
- Explain why the State Classification Committee's decision to release Malik from Ad-Seg back in June was overturned (specifically, demand to know the nature of the "information" supposedly collected by the Fusion Center, and demand to know how this information was investigated and verified).
- Immediately cease all harassment and retaliation against Malik, especially strip searches and mail censorship!

Who to contact:
TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier
Phone: (936)295-6371

Senior Warden Philip Sinfuentes (McConnell Unit)
Phone: (361) 362-2300


Background on Malik's Situation

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

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

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



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

By Michael Barbaro, May 30, 2018

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

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

On today's episode:
• Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row at San Quentin State Prison in California for three decades.



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

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

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

NO ESTÁN SOLOS (You are not alone).

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

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

While we were honored to offer on-the-ground support we see the potential to focus the energy of our Drop the MIC campaign into fighting against this injustice, to have an even greater impact. Here's how:
  1. Call out General Dynamics for profiteering of War, Militarization of the Border and Child and Family Detention (look for our social media toolkit this week);
  2. Create speaking forums and produce media that challenges the narrative of ICE and Jeff Sessions, encouraging troops who have served in the borderlands to speak out about that experience;
  3. Continue to show up and demand we demilitarize the border and abolish ICE.

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

In Solidarity,
Ramon Mejia
Field Organizer, About Face: Veterans Against the War

P.O. Box 3565, New York, NY 10008. All Right Reserved. | Unsubscribe
To ensure delivery of About Face emails please add webmaster@ivaw.org to your address book.



Major George Tillery
April 25, 2018-- The arrest of two young men in Starbucks for the crime of "sitting while black," and the four years prison sentence to rapper Meek Mill for a minor parole violation are racist outrages in Philadelphia, PA that made national news in the past weeks. Yesterday Meek Mills was released on bail after a high profile defense campaign and a Pa Supreme Court decision citing evidence his conviction was based solely on a cop's false testimony.
These events underscore the racism, frame-up, corruption and brutality at the core of the criminal injustice system. Pennsylvania "lifer" Major Tillery's fight for freedom puts a spotlight on the conviction of innocent men with no evidence except the lying testimony of jailhouse snitches who have been coerced and given favors by cops and prosecutors.

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

Homicide detectives and prosecutors threatened Claitt with a false unrelated murder charge, and induced him to lie with promises of little or no jail time on over twenty pending felonies, and being released from jail despite a parole violation. In addition, homicide detectives arranged for Claitt, while in custody, to have private sexual liaisons with his girlfriends in police interview rooms.
In May and June 2016, Emanuel Claitt gave sworn statements that his testimony was a total lie, and that the homicide cops and the prosecutors told him what to say and coached him before trial. Not only was he coerced to lie that Major Tillery was a shooter, but to lie and claim there were no plea deals made in exchange for his testimony. He provided the information about the specific homicide detectives and prosecutors involved in manufacturing his testimony and details about being allowed "sex for lies". In August 2016, Claitt reaffirmed his sworn statements in a videotape, posted on YouTube and on JusticeforMajorTillery.org.
Without the coerced and false testimony of Claitt there was no evidence against Major Tillery. There were no ballistics or any other physical evidence linking him to the shootings. The surviving victim's statement naming others as the shooters was not allowed into evidence.
The trial took place in May 1985 during the last days of the siege and firebombing of the MOVE family Osage Avenue home in Philadelphia that killed 13 Black people, including 5 children. The prosecution claimed that Major Tillery was part of an organized crime group, and falsely described it as run by the Nation of Islam. This prejudiced and inflamed the majority white jury against Tillery, to make up for the absence of any evidence that Tillery was involved in the shootings.
This was a frame-up conviction from top to bottom. Claitt was the sole or primary witness in five other murder cases in the early 1980s. Coercing and inducing jailhouse informants to falsely testify is a standard routine in criminal prosecutions. It goes hand in hand with prosecutors suppressing favorable evidence from the defense.
Major Tillery has filed a petition based on his actual innocence to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Larry Krasner's Conviction Review Unit. A full review and investigation should lead to reversal of Major Tillery's conviction. He also asks that the DA's office to release the full police and prosecution files on his case under the new  "open files" policy. In the meantime, Major Tillery continues his own investigation. He needs your support.
Major Tillery has Fought his Conviction and Advocated for Other Prisoners for over 30 Years
The Pennsylvania courts have rejected three rounds of appeals challenging Major Tillery's conviction based on his innocence, the prosecution's intentional presentation of false evidence against him and his trial attorney's conflict of interest. On June 15, 2016 Major Tillery filed a new post-conviction petition based on the same evidence now in the petition to the District Attorney's Conviction Review Unit. Despite the written and video-taped statements from Emanuel Claitt that that his testimony against Major Tillery was a lie and the result of police and prosecutorial misconduct, Judge Leon Tucker dismissed Major Tillery's petition as "untimely" without even holding a hearing. Major Tillery appealed that dismissal and the appeal is pending in the Superior Court.
During the decades of imprisonment Tillery has advocated for other prisoners challenging solitary confinement, lack of medical and mental health care and the inhumane conditions of imprisonment. In 1990, he won the lawsuit, Tillery v. Owens, that forced the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) to end double celling (4 men to a small cell) at SCI Pittsburgh, which later resulted in the closing and then "renovation" of that prison.
Three years ago Major Tillery stood up for political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and demanded prison Superintendent John Kerestes get Mumia to a hospital because "Mumia is dying."  For defending Mumia and advocating for medical treatment for himself and others, prison officials retaliated. Tillery was shipped out of SCI Mahanoy, where Mumia was also held, to maximum security SCI Frackville and then set-up for a prison violation and a disciplinary penalty of months in solitary confinement. See, Messing with Major by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Major Tillery's federal lawsuit against the DOC for that retaliation is being litigated. Major Tillery continues as an advocate for all prisoners. He is fighting to get the DOC to establish a program for elderly prisoners.
Major Tillery Needs Your Help:
Well-known criminal defense attorney Stephen Patrizio represents Major pro bonoin challenging his conviction. More investigation is underway. We can't count on the district attorney's office to make the findings of misconduct against the police detectives and prosecutors who framed Major without continuing to dig up the evidence.
Major Tillery is now 67 years old. He's done hard time, imprisoned for almost 35 years, some 20 years in solitary confinement in max prisons for a crime he did not commit. He recently won hepatitis C treatment, denied to him for a decade by the DOC. He has severe liver problems as well as arthritis and rheumatism, back problems, and a continuing itchy skin rash. Within the past couple of weeks he was diagnosed with an extremely high heartbeat and is getting treatment.
Major Tillery does not want to die in prison. He and his family, daughters, sons and grandchildren are fighting to get him home. The newly filed petition for Conviction Review to the Philadelphia District Attorney's office lays out the evidence Major Tillery has uncovered, evidence suppressed by the prosecution through all these years he has been imprisoned and brought legal challenges into court. It is time for the District Attorney's to act on the fact that Major Tillery is innocent and was framed by police detectives and prosecutors who manufactured the evidence to convict him. Major Tillery's conviction should be vacated and he should be freed.

Major Tillery and family

    Financial Support—Tillery's investigation is ongoing. He badly needs funds to fight for his freedom.
    Go to JPay.com;
    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:
    The Conviction Review Unit should investigate Major Tillery's case. He is innocent. The only evidence at trial was from lying jail house informants who now admit it was false.
    Call: 215-686-8000 or

    Write to:
    Security Processing Center
    Major Tillery AM 9786
    268 Bricker Road
    Bellefonte, PA 16823
    For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org
    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com
    Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com



    Free Leonard Peltier!

    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) Shutdown's Pain Cuts Deep for the Homeless and Other Vulnerable Americans
    By Glen Thrush, January 21, 2019

    Susie Sinclair-Smith, left, of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, with Samantha Whitt and her children in an apartment in Maryland that the group helps pay for.CreditCreditJustin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — Ramona Wormley-Mitsis got welcome news in December: After years of waiting, the federal government had approved a subsidy that allowed her to rent a three-bedroom house, bracketed by a white picket fence to keep her two autistic sons from bolting into traffic.
    A few days later, the dream was deferred. The Department of Housing and Urban Development — one of the federal agencies hit hardest by the shutdown — would not be able to pay her new landlord until the government reopened.
    "It is my dream home. It's like my last stop; it's like my last chance — you know?" said Ms. Wormley-Mitsis, 39, who lives in Fall River, Mass., and is staying with relatives until the check clears. "We drive by that house all the time. It's torture. Waiting, waiting, waiting."

    One month after the government shutdown began, its effects have begun to hurt some of the most vulnerable Americans: not just homeless people, but also those who are one crisis away from the streets. And nonprofit groups dedicated to helping low-income renters are already scrambling to survive without the lifeblood payments from HUD that began being cut off on Jan. 1.

    That has left a small but growing number of tenants, like Ms. Wormley-Mitsis, in limbo. Landlords, especially smaller management companies operating on narrow margins, have begun pressuring poor, disabled and elderly tenants who cannot afford to make up the difference.
    On Friday afternoon, a TriState Management employee in Newton, Ark., taped notices on the doors of 43 federally subsidized tenants, demanding that they cover the gap between what they typically pay and the full rent.
    "As of Feb. 1, 2019, all tenants will be responsible for full basic rent," the letter said. "We will extend the due date for the rent to the 20th of the month. This will remain in effect until the government opens up."
    Amanda Neeley's heart sank. The three-bedroom home she shares with her daughter and granddaughter goes for a monthly rate of $505, of which she is required to pay $110. The rest — which her landlord now wants her to pay — is supposed to be picked up by the federal government under a program intended to help out the rural poor.
    "This is putting a hurt on all of us. Everything was going along normal until they decided to shut down the government," said Ms. Neeley, 48, who gets by on a small disability check. "I can't pay that much; it is beyond my means. It is not fair."

    A TriState Management employee hung up the phone when asked about the policy on Friday. But lawyers for the poor say that renters can fight evictions in court, and many organizations, including the Fair Housing Action Center of Maryland, have begun distributing fliers informing tenants of their rights under local law.
    A week earlier, a property manager at another subsidized low-income housing complex in rural Arkansas, run by the Agriculture Department, sent a similar notice to tenants. "Until the government opens again, you are responsible for ALL of your rental amount," the letter said.

    The letter was rescinded when federal officials vowed to cover the payments.
    Most other social safety net programs are facing a similar, if less imminent, emergency. The Department of Agriculture has announced that funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food stamps and other aid to almost 40 million poor and working-class Americans, will run out by March 1, and other nutrition programs are facing the same fate.
    The Department of Health and Human Services was largely exempt from the showdown and Medicaid and Medicare are not affected by the funding lapse. But Congress failed to reauthorize one of its main programs, the $16.5 billion Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which provides states with block grants for a range of services, cash welfare and child care. States are likely to pick up the tab for most programs, but a protracted shutdown lasting into the spring could result in cutbacks, according to analysts.
    While the housing crisis is just starting to hit individual tenants, it has already wreaked havoc on organizations responsible for housing homeless people and providing support services to veterans, people with disabilities and victims of domestic abuse.
    The funding lapse is being felt most acutely by providers who owe their survival to the month-to-month cash flow provided by the annual $2.8 billion federal Homeless Assistance Grant program.
    Susie Sinclair-Smith has helped build a network to help homeless people in Maryland's high-rent Washington suburbs, an impressive but precarious Jenga tower of programs dependent on $3 million in annual federal funding.

    "The crisis has arrived," said Ms. Sinclair-Smith, the executive director of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless. The last payment the group received from HUD was a $250,000 reimbursement for its December expenses, which arrived at the start of the year.
    The coalition is now preparing to tap its modest reserve fund, of just over $200,000, that was intended to cover unintended emergencies, like floods or the loss benefits by individual clients. It will be used to bridge the loss of federal cash to cover rent, the salaries of case managers who provide support to disabled and elderly clients, maintenance costs, and other expenses for the 250 households of formerly homeless people.
    "We can get by for a while, but what happens if one of our buildings gets hit by a flood?" Ms. Sinclair-Smith said.
    In Boston, the Pine Street Inn, the region's largest provider of homeless housing, is exploring its financial options to counter the loss of a major federal contract on Feb. 1. It bankrolls one of the provider's most important units, a seven-member outreach team that is responsible for finding affordable housing for homeless people, said Lyndia Downie, the group's president.
    In Kokomo, Ind., shelters that serve homeless veterans and victims of domestic violence are struggling to remain open without the monthly subsidies. Organizations in Kentucky, Texas, Arkansas, California and New Jersey face a mass funding halt at the end of the month.
    "If the shutdown continues, all these organizations will be left having to consider a spectrum of bad to terrible options, including staff layoffs and, in the worst-case scenario, evictions," said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington-based advocacy organization.

    HUD, which funds most of these programs, has been hit not only by the furloughing of 95 percent of its work force, but also by a recent exodus of top staff members. Just days before the shutdown began, the department's deputy secretary, Pam Patenaude, resigned in what one person with knowledge of the situation described as a forced exit after clashing with the housing secretary, Ben Carson.

    Critics said HUD officials inadequately planned for an extended shutdown, failing to recertify more than 1,000 contracts with landlords who provided subsidized housing.
    "I am thoroughly disgusted with the Department of Housing and Urban Development's failure to follow its own contingency plan" for the shutdown, Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California and chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, wrote in a letter to Mr. Carson on Friday.
    Ms. Waters was particularly critical of Mr. Carson for exposing homeless programs, including those providing housing for victims of domestic violence, to financial harm.
    A spokesman for Mr. Carson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    The shutdown has stopped vital funding allocations for public housing repairs, new housing voucher applications and even the processing of post-disaster housing requests from Puerto Rico and several hurricane-ravaged states.
    HUD officials often play down concerns about the impact of funding decisions on poor people. But privately, they too are growing increasingly concerned that some tenants and local groups that rely on funding from the department could be stranded if the shutdown lasts even a few more weeks.
    Smaller organizations, especially those that serve rural areas, are particularly vulnerable because they often lack endowments, cash reserves or lines of credit that their big-city counterparts can tap.
    "We are providing services without getting paid for those services, and eventually that is going to catch up with us," said Adrienne Bush, executive director of the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky, which relies on a $1 million federal grant that covers about half its expenses each year.

    Ms. Bush's group has not received its January payments, and still has not gotten some of the money it was owed from providing services in 2018. To cover the gap, she has begun to tap a $75,000 cash reserve.
    Ms. Bush will soon have to stop paying some landlords, which could lead to evictions. To minimize the fallout, she has started to compile a list of owners willing to forgo payments for an extended period.
    She sent a letter pleading for help to Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader. Ms. Bush said the shutdown was putting "people's lives at risk."
    She received an eight-word response, and no commitment to help.
    "I'll be sure to pass on your concerns," Tiffany Ge, Mr. McConnell's legal counsel, replied in an email to Ms. Bush.
    A spokesman for Mr. McConnell said the senator would send a written response to Ms. Bush's group and champion Mr. Trump's latest offer to reopen the government — giving temporary protections to roughly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion for a border wall.
    House Democrats have already rejected the president's proposal.


    2) $11 toothpaste: Immigrants pay big for basics at private ICE lock-ups
    By Michelle Conlin, Kristina Cooke, January 17, 2019

    He could content himself with a jailhouse diet that he said left him perpetually hungry. Or he could labor in the prison's kitchen to earn money to buy extra food at the commissary. 
    Cruz went to work. But his $1-a-day salary at the privately run Adelanto Detention Facility did not stretch far. 
    A can of commissary tuna sold for $3.25. That is more than four times the price at a Target store near the small desert town of Adelanto, about two hours northeast of Los Angeles. Cruz stuck with ramen noodles at 58 cents a package, double the Target price. A miniature deodorant stick, at $3.35 and more than three days' wages, was an impossible luxury, he said. 
    "If I bought that there wouldn't be enough money for food," Cruz said. 
    Tuna and deodorant would seem minor worries for detainees such as Cruz. Now 25, he sought asylum after fleeing gangs trying to recruit him in his native Honduras, a place where saying "no" can mean execution. 
    But immigration attorneys say the pricey commissary goods are part of a broader strategy by private prisons to harness cheap inmate labor to lower operating costs and boost profits.
    Immigrants and activists say facilities such as Adelanto, owned by Boca Raton, Fla.-based Geo Group Inc (GEO.N), the nation's largest for-profit corrections company, deliberately skimp on essentials, even food, to coerce detainees to labor for pennies an hour to supplement meager rations. 
    Geo Group spokesperson Pablo Paez called those allegations "completely false." He said detainees are given meals approved by dieticians, the labor program is strictly voluntary, and wage rates are federally mandated. 
    The company said Geo Group contracts with outside vendors to run its commissaries, whose prices "are in line with comparable local markets." It also said Geo Group makes a "minimal commission" on commissary items, most of which goes into a "welfare fund" to purchase recreational equipment and other items for detainees. 
    Relatives can send money electronically to fund their loved ones' commissary accounts, for fees that can reach as high as 10 percent of the amount deposited, some families report. But for many immigrant detainees, scrubbing toilets or mopping floors is the only way they say they can earn enough to stay clean and fed. 
    You "either work for a few cents an hour or live without basic things like soap, shampoo, deodorant and food," detainee Wilhen Hill Barrientos, 67, said in a class-action lawsuit filed last year by the Southern Poverty Law Center against Nashville-based CoreCivic Inc (CXW.N), the nation's second-largest for-profit prison operator. In the complaint, Barrientos said guards told him to "use his fingers" when he asked for toilet paper at the Stewart Detention Center, located in rural Lumpkin, Georgia. 
    Detainees are challenging what they say is an oppressive business model in which the companies deprive them of essentials to force them to work for sub-minimum wages, money that is soon recaptured in the firms' own commissaries. 
    "These private prison companies are profiting off of what is essentially a company-store scenario," said the SPLC's Meredith Stewart, a lead attorney on the class action.
    mmigrant rights groups have filed similar lawsuits against CoreCivic and Geo Group in California, Colorado, Texas and Washington. 
    Government watchdogs and lawmakers are taking notice too. 
    In November, 11 U.S. senators, including 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, sent letters to Geo Group and CoreCivic lambasting the "perverse profit incentive at the core of the private prison business," which has benefited from a crackdown on illegal immigrants under U.S. President Donald Trump. 
    The senators cited a December 2017 report from the U.S. Office of the Inspector General documenting problems at lockups contracted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The inspector general found spoiled, moldy and expired food, and cited detainees' complaints that hygiene products were "not provided promptly or at all," the report said. 
    The lawmakers have demanded Geo Group and CoreCivic respond to allegations of detainee mistreatment. 
    Geo Group said a comprehensive, detailed response is underway. The company told Reuters that Geo Group has "already taken steps to remedy areas where our processes fell short of our commitment to high-quality care." 
    CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist said the company disagrees with the senators' assertions, and that it provides "all daily needs" of detainees. 
    She said CoreCivic follows all federal standards for ICE-contracted facilities, including management of the outside vendors that run its commissaries, prices for commissary products, and fees charged to families for depositing funds into detainees' commissary accounts.


    The U.S. for-profit prison industry has exploded over the past two decades. In 2016, 128,300 people - roughly 1 in 12 U.S. prisoners - were incarcerated in private lock-ups. That is an increase of 47 percent from 2000, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. 
    Geo Group and CoreCivic together manage over half of U.S. private prison contracts, with combined revenues of nearly $4 billion in 2017. ICE is the No. 1 customer by revenue for both companies. 
    Trump's immigration polices have been a boon for the industry, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his election and inauguration. In fiscal 2019, the number of people in ICE detention has averaged 45,200 daily, according to agency spokesman Vincent Picard. That is up nearly 19 percent from fiscal 2017. 
    Both Geo Group and CoreCivic have added hundreds of immigration detention beds over the past year. Stock prices for the two companies are up about 30 percent since Trump's election. 
    The government pays private prison companies fees ranging from roughly $60 to $130 daily for the care and feeding of each detainee. 
    At CoreCivic's Stewart Detention Center in Georgia, which houses about 1,700 undocumented immigrants, ICE pays a per diem of $62.03 for each detainee housed there. CoreCivic's revenue from Stewart alone was $38 million last year, court records show. 
    Detainee Barrientos, the lead lawsuit plaintiff, said in court documents he worked 7 days a week at the facility in order to purchase hygiene products and phone cards to call family members in Guatemala.
    Those basics can add up. Reuters viewed a copy of the center's commissary price list. It shows detainees are charged $11.02 for a 4 oz. tube of Sensodyne toothpaste, available on Amazon.com for $5.20. 
    Dove soap priced at $2.44 at the commissary is available for just over a dollar at Target. A 2.5 oz tube of Effergrip denture cream that sells for $4.99 at Walmart is $7.12 at the commissary. 
    Fees are pricey too. Vioney Gutierrez, a former detainee at Geo Group's Adelanto facility in California, said 10 percent of the money her family spent to fund her commissary account was consumed by fees. 
    "When my daughter put in $40, I got $36," said Gutierrez, 37. A native of Mexico, she said she spent six months at Adelanto in 2018 after asking for asylum at a port of entry. She is currently out on bond and staying with family in Oregon while she awaits the outcome of her deportation case. 
    Geo Group said its inmate commissary account services are provided by a third-party vendor, and that it does not profit from those transactions. 
    At Adelanto, Gutierrez said it cost $1 a minute to make calls to Mexico, and even more to places further afield, prices that keep many detainees from communicating with their families. 
    Geo Group said ICE contracts with a third-party telecom vendor and that the company plays "no role whatsoever in communications services." 
    High commissary prices have long been a complaint of prison reformers. But for immigrant detainees, many of whom borrowed money or drained savings to reach the United States, the prices are particularly prohibitive.
    Cruz, the Honduran detainee, spent eight months at Adelanto last year before an immigrant rights organization paid the $10,000 bond for his release. He is now in Texas awaiting the outcome of his case. 
    In his final months at Adelanto, Cruz said he resorted to bartering, trading shoes he wove out of plastic bags for ramen and cookies.


    3)  Who Is Kevin Cooper?
    By Kevin Cooper, January 21, 2019
    A recent photo of the author, taken at San Quentin State Prison in California. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Cooper)

    Editor's note: Kevin Cooper was convicted of a 1983 quadruple murder and sentenced to death in a trial in which evidence that might have exonerated him was withheld from the defense. His case was scrutinized in a June 17, 2017, New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof. Visit savekevincooper.org for more information.
    Throughout my life, people have speculated about who Kevin Cooper is, or who they think I am. This is especially true since I was first sought, then arrested, and then wrongly convicted of what was dubbed by the mainstream media as the Chino Hills Murders. It is this horrific crime that sent me to California's death row and for which I was almost executed in 2004.
    It is an odd experience to become part of the American historical narrative, to have words spoken and written about oneself in such a way that it strengthens the storyteller's version of the subject, often falsely or to the degradation of the person about whom they are writing or speaking.
    This has happened to me, and it will, in all probability, happen again in the future.
    For example, the Los Angeles Times published an article about me in July 2018 written by 10 students from Northwestern University's Medill Justice Project. It was so incomplete and contained such serious errors that people who know my case well wonder why the Times published it without careful fact-checking. These were students, not professional journalists! My lawyer, Norman Hile, was standing by to fact-check the story, but no one called him. The Times published two corrections of the several that were made in the story.
    The students did correctly note that I am writing a memoir I have titled, "My Life On Your Death Row," and that I write for Truthdig, and that I speak with journalists and address gatherings from prison via phone. To be sure, my innocence has been pronounced by a number of prominent people, including an emissary of the pope, an international human rights commission, appellate justices, journalists and people inside and outside the legal community. You can read a factual article about my case in The New York Times here and in factual articles posted on Truthdig.
    But I am more than all of this. When I read something about me and do not recognize that person, I want to shout out who I am, in my own words. I want people who don't know me to ask: "Who Is Kevin Cooper?"
    This is who I am:
    First and foremost, I, Kevin Cooper, am a human being, a spiritual person and an innocent person on death row in the state of California. I am a father, a grandfather, a son and a brother. I am an uncle and a great-uncle, as well as a godson, nephew and cousin; I am a real part of a real American family.
    I am a proud African-American man, and yes, I am a writer, a soon-to-be author and a painter/artist. I am an orator and a student, as I am still learning many new things, especially this country's historical and present-day treatment of its poor and minority peoples, including immigrants.
    I am a self-made man, who, like you, has the God-given right to my life, which no man or government has the right to take. Not the moral right, the legal right, or any other type of so-called right. I was spared in 2004 from a near-death experience, an execution, called "legal homicide" by the great state of California. I was a survivor of a sick, state-sanctioned ritual of death that took place on Dec. 17, 2003, when I was told that I was to be legally murdered by the volunteer executioners here at San Quentin prison on Feb. 10, 2004.
    This torture did not end with the stay of execution that I received on Feb. 9, 2004. It continued for years afterward, because of the post-traumatic stress that I suffered due to having come within three hours and 42 minutes of being strapped down to that death gurney, having razor-sharp needles stuck in my arms, being injected and tortured with red, white and blue poison in my black body, and then murdered by so-called justice-seeking, God-fearing, revenge-wanting Californians!
    I am also a pen pal who writes to many people in different parts of the world. I am a friend, a teacher, a person who respects all people and their uniqueness and differences, no matter who or what they are. I am a music lover, an animal lover, a lover of books and history. I am a humanitarian, and I donate my artwork and paintings to different people and nonprofit groups and organizations so that they can sell them to raise money for their cause.
    I am an abolitionist who speaks out at every chance I get against the death penalty by sharing with all people who will listen America's troubled history with the death penalty, and my near-death experience in 2004.
    This tortured and troubled history most definitely includes women who have been tortured and murdered in the name of the law, historically and in the present day. I am a male feminist, because I truly believe in the equality of women.
    I am an athlete who still plays basketball and enjoys watching damn near all sports on TV. While I can go on and on about who I am, just in these things that I have written, you have learned far more about me than what those student journalists wrote about who they thought I was, or am.
    But to not leave out anything, let me say this about me: I am a reformed small-time criminal. I have rehabilitated myself while on your death row. I got rid of the small-time criminal, the uneducated and miseducated person that I once was. I was a poorly educated child who ran away from home countless times, beginning at age 6, to escape senseless beatings, only to be returned. I became a well-read adult in prison, reading scores of books and learning new words by studying the dictionary at my side.
    I am a nonviolent man. I am an educated man and a person who is being talked about by certain people in outdated terms. I will not allow those students from the Medill Justice Project or anyone else to define me, or to tell a story about me that is not the truth. Why?
    Because I, Kevin Cooper, am a fighter and will not be a stereotype, or a victim of this country's historical narrative as it pertains to black men who are in prison, who have small-time criminal histories, and who, after all, are products of America.
    This is who I am.


    4) The Supreme Court Just Ended My Military Career
    By Brynn Tannehill, January 22, 2019

    President Trump and service members at the Army-Navy football game in December in Philadelphia.CreditCreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

    On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that the Trump administration could reinstate its policy barring most transgender people from serving in the military while several cases challenging the policy are being decided. The decision was both a devastating blow to me personally, and a disturbing sign of what is to come for transgender people in the United States. 
    I graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1997, and was on active duty for over a decade. When I began transitioning in 2010, I transferred from the Naval Reserves, which I had joined in 2008, to the Individual Ready Reserves, an administrative status that allows service members to deal with medical issues before returning to full duty. By spring 2012, I had resolved the "issues" at my own expense, and was ready to return to full duty — in my case, as a Navy helicopter pilot.
    The problem was that at the time, the military's medical regulations prohibited transgender people from serving. I then set off on years of volunteer work on my own time researching transgender military issues. This included educational outreach, research, policy development and coordinating with the Pentagon to build an evidence-based standard for transgender service, based on the lessons learned from the other 18 countries that allow transgender people to serve.

    In 2015, the Department of Defense stopped discharging people for being transgender and began the open and transparent process of researching how to institute an inclusive policy. This included an assessment of the costs, in terms of both money and readiness, of integrating transgender troops. Researchers found both impacts to be negligible.

    By 2016, a policy was in place for transgender people already serving. Two years later, the military put in place a process for new recruits, officer candidates and people on inactive status like myself. The day after that, I contacted my recruiter to begin the process of rejoining the military.
    Over the past year, I've had countless medical and psychological exams in my quest to return to the job I was trained to do: flying Blackhawk helicopters. This involved a lot of time off work and considerable travel, all at my own expense. At every turn, the people examining me reached the same conclusion: I was "aeromedically adapted" — fit to fly — and able to return to the service. There was, finally, a chance that I might be able finish my career after 16 good years of service.
    I was hoping against hope, throughout this process, that I'd be able to join my friends who had fought alongside me for the right to serve openly. Nearly every week I would see pictures of them in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. It gave me a thrill in December to see a picture of four of them together at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. One was an airborne ranger, and one was Special Forces.
    All of this makes the administration's dogged attempt to undo everything achieved over the last few years even more baffling. The ban was developed in secret, without the sort of careful study that went into the policy it reversed. It does not reflect any current medical understanding of transgender people, and it has been denounced by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.
    No one, including the lawyers for the Trump administration, has been able to show that inclusion of transgender service members or providing care to them has had any measurable negative impact on morale, readiness or unit cohesion. The chiefs of staff of all four service branches of the military have testified to Congress that there have been no issues.

    The Supreme Court decision isn't about me, though. It isn't even about the dozens of people I advised to follow a path back to service similar to mine. It is about what this means for transgender people in the United States as a whole. 
    While it is true that the high court's decision is not final — and that, in fact, it may have had more to do with lower court injunctions against Mr. Trump's policy, rather than the policy itself — the signal it sends is clear. The cruel pointlessness of the president's policy, which had led to the injunctions, was not pressing enough to move the court's five conservative justices.
    Their decision signals a weakening of any shelter transgender people might find under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The court is saying that government discrimination based not on evidence, but solely on animus against transgender people, is permissible.
    For me, however, it probably marks the end of almost 10 years of trying to find a way to serve my country in uniform again. The court also rejected the administration's request for a quick hearing on the ban itself, which means at least another year of waiting. By then I will have likely aged out of my eligibility. 
    If this were through some failing of mine, I could accept it. But it speaks volumes about where we are as a country that the opportunity for many to serve should be denied by the prejudices of a few.


    5) The Embargo on Cuba Failed. Let’s Move On.
    By Nicholas Kristof, January 23, 2019
    American and Cuban flags flying from a balcony in Havana.CreditCreditIvan Alvarado/Reuters

    HAVANA — It has been 60 years since Fidel Castro marched into Havana, so it’s time for both Cuba and the United States to grow up. Let’s let Cuba be a normal country again.
    Cuba is neither the demonic tyranny conjured by some conservatives nor the heroic worker paradise romanticized by some on the left. It’s simply a tired little country, no threat to anyone, with impressive health care and education but a repressive police state and a dysfunctional economy.
    Driving in from the airport, I saw billboards denouncing the American economic embargo as the “longest genocide in history.” That’s ridiculous. But the embargo itself is also absurd and counterproductive, accomplishing nothing but hurting the Cuban people — whom we supposedly aim to help.
    After six decades, can’t we move on? Let’s drop the embargo but continue to push Havana on improving human rights, and on dropping support for other oppressive regimes, like those in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

    Let’s make room for nuance: Cuba impoverishes its citizens and denies them political rights, but it does a good job providing basic education and keeping people healthy. As I noted in my last column, on Cuba’s health care system, Cuba’s official infant mortality rate is lower than America’s (its real rate may or may not be).
    I’m not a Cuba expert, and I don’t know how this country will evolve. But Cuba has a new president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, who is associated with experiments in opening up the economy. Fidel is gone and his brother Raúl is fading from the scene.

    In the 1960s, we were scared of Cuba. We feared that neighboring countries would tumble like dominoes into the Communist bloc, and the Soviet Union attempted to place on Cuba nuclear missiles that could have threatened America. But today even as those fears have dissipated, our policy has ossified.
    President Barack Obama took the necessary step of re-establishing diplomatic relations and easing the embargo, but President Trump reversed course and tightened things up again out of knee-jerk hostility to anything Cuban and anything Obaman.
    Cuba is changing, albeit too slowly. About one-third of its labor force is now in the private sector, and this is just about the only part of the economy that is thriving. I stayed in one of the growing number of Airbnbs in Havana, and people were friendly, even if governments are not: When I said I was from the United States, I inevitably got a big grin and a reference to a cousin in Miami or New York or Cleveland.

    Plus, extra credit goes to a country that so lovingly preserves old American cars. I rode in from the airport in a pink 1954 Cadillac.
    In another sign of flexibility, Cuba recently hammered out a deal with Major League Baseball that will allow Cuban players to travel legally to the U.S. and play on American teams.
    Yet, sadly, the Trump administration is threatening the deal.
    Consider the persistence of North Korea and Cuba, and there’s an argument that sanctions and isolation preserve regimes rather than topple them. China teaches us not to be naïve about economic engagement toppling dictators, but on balance tourists and investors would be more of a force for change than a seventh decade of embargo.
    Moreover, trade, tourism, travel and investment empower a business community and an independent middle class. These are tools to destabilize a police state and help ordinary Cubans, but we curtail them. America blames the Castros for impoverishing the Cuban people, but we’ve participated in that impoverishment as well.
    Cuba’s government is not benign. It’s a dictatorship whose economic mismanagement has hurt its people, and Human Rights Watch says it “routinely relies on arbitrary detention to harass and intimidate critics.” But it doesn’t normally execute them (or dismember them in consulates abroad like our pal Saudi Arabia), and it tolerates some criticism from brave bloggers like Yoani Sánchez.
    It is revising its Constitution, and my hope is that over time — despite ideologues in both Havana and the United States — relations will continue to develop. Some American seniors who now winter in Florida could become snowbirds in Cuba instead, relying on its health care, low prices, great beaches and cheap labor. You can hire a home health care aide for a month in Havana for the cost of one for a day in Florida.

    China’s economic boom began in the early 1980s partly with factories financed by Chinese overseas, and after the American embargo ends, Cuba will have similar opportunities to forge mutually beneficial business partnerships with Cubans overseas.

    That would benefit both sides. For 60 years we’ve been feuding, like the Hatfields and the McCoys, in a conflict whose origins most Americans don’t even remember clearly.
    So come on. We should all be bored by a lifetime of mutual recriminations and antagonisms. Let’s put aside the ideology, end the embargo, tone down the propaganda and raise a mojito together.
    I propose a toast to a new beginning.

    My NYT Comment:
    First, Cuba's economic woes are directly related to the U.S. embargo that won't allow other countries to trade with Cuba. And, as Kristof acknowledges at the end of his article, the U.S. gives billions of dollars of aid to Saudi Arabia, and many other dictatorships, in the form of military aid. And even though they Saudi Arabia has vast amounts of wealth, their people are still starving and are oppressed beyond imagination—women can't even drive and resisters are beheaded! But I ask, what other poor, poverty-stricken country on this planet besides Cuba has free healthcare, education from cradle to grave, housing and food assistance to its people? Certainly not the richest country in the world, the USA! And during the funeral procession for Fidel Castro, the Cuban military stood by the side of the rode in honor of him, and guess what, they were unarmed! No weapons! Some “brutal” dictatorship! —Bonnie Weinstein


    6) Russia Warns U.S. Against Venezuela Intervention
    By Neil MacFarquhar, January 24, 2019

    President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, left, with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia near Moscow last month. Mr. Maduro’s government has depended on Russia for billions of dollars in loans as well as military support.CreditCreditMaxim Shemetov/Reuters

    MOSCOW — Russia accused the United States on Thursday of promoting regime change in Venezuela, warning of the “catastrophic” consequences of destabilizing one of the Kremlin’s key South American allies.
    Moscow’s warning came a day after the Trump administration recognized an opposition leader as Venezuela’s legitimate president, outraging President Nicolás Maduro, who ordered all American diplomats expelled. The United States said it would ignore the expulsion order and did not rule out a military intervention in the oil-rich country, where economic hardship and political repression have escalated into a major crisis.
    “Any external intervention is very dangerous,” Dmitri S. Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, told reporters in Moscow. “We consider the attempt to usurp the top power in Venezuela as going against the foundations and principles of the international law.”

    Moscow has been a close ally of Venezuela for more than a decade, shoring up the country’s crumbling economy with billions of dollars in loans as well as military support.

    Mr. Maduro’s aides dismissed the announcement on Wednesday by the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim president.
    Mr. Guaidó made the proclamation at an antigovernment rally in Caracas, the capital, on Wednesday, a day of nationwide protests that attracted tens of thousands of supporters and was cheered by a number of neighboring countries and the United States. The events amounted to the most direct threat yet to Mr. Maduro’s hold on power.
    At least 14 people in Venezuela have been killed in clashes with security forces and other politically related violence since Tuesday, according to the Venezuelan Education-Action Program on Human Rights, known by its Spanish acronym, Provea.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a series of blistering statements, particularly concerning the possibility of American military intervention in Venezuela.

    “Signals coming from certain capitals indicating the possibility of external military interference look particularly disquieting,” the Foreign Ministry said. “We warn against such reckless actions, which threaten catastrophic consequences.”

    It did not specify what those consequences might be.
    Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, accused the United States of hypocrisy in accusing Russia of meddling in American elections while it blatantly interferes in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
    He also said that hints of armed intervention were particularly alarming.
    “This is interference in the internal affairs of the state, and as you know, there was a clear attempt to remove Nicolás Maduro from power,” Mr. Lavrov told a news conference in Algiers, where he was visiting. He also suggested that the United States had a hand in plots for “physically eliminating him.”
    “That the United States and some other countries have recognized the self-proclaimed president shows that they played a direct role in the crisis in Venezuela,” Mr. Lavrov said, adding that a country with two presidents would lead to “chaos and instability.”
    The foreign minister said that Russia was ready to join with other “responsible countries” to start a national dialogue among Venezuelans while avoiding calls to overthrow the legitimate government.
    “We appeal to the Venezuelan opposition, which I hope prioritizes its own country’s national interests,” Mr. Lavrov said. “We urge them not to become pawns in someone else’s very dirty and criminal game.”
    All manner of Russian officials weighed in, with some accusations more unusual than others. Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian Parliament, suggested that under pressure from Washington, some social media companies had removed the “verified” designation from Mr. Maduro’s accounts confirming his identity.
    For years, Moscow has been a crucial ally for Caracas in its tense relations with Washington.
    As recently as December, Russia dispatched a small flock of aircraft to Venezuela in a show of solidarity with Mr. Maduro, including two Tu-160 nuclear-capable bombers that flew more than 6,000 miles.

    More important, it has given Venezuela more than $10 billion in financial assistance in recent years. In exchange, Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, has acquired stakes in Venezuela’s energy sector.
    Venezuela has also been one of the largest markets for Russian arms exports in Latin America. It signed 30 contracts worth $11 billion from 2005 to 2013, according to the Russian news agency Tass.
    Mr. Peskov declined to discuss what might happen to the loans should the Maduro government fall, and would not speculate whether Russia might offer him asylum, emphasizing that in the Kremlin’s view, he remained the “legitimate president” of Venezuela.
    The Kremlin was not in contact with the United States on the issue, he said.


    7) Young Voters Keep Moving to the Left on Social Issues, Republicans Included
    By Dan Levin, January 23, 2019

    Members of a conservative student coalition concerned about climate change at Yale University.CreditCreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times
    As a self-described political conservative, Reagan Larson might seem to be a natural fit for the Republican Party. The 19-year-old college student from South Dakota grew up in a Catholic household that objected to same-sex marriage, and she remains firmly opposed to abortion.
    But in many ways, that is where the ideological similarities end. Ms. Larson, a dual major in biology and Spanish at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., does not oppose the legalization of marriage equality. She views climate change as undeniable, believes “immigrants make our country richer,” and disagrees with her parents on the need for a border wall.

    Ms. Larson is part of Generation Z, one of the most ethnically diverse and progressive age groups in American history. People born after 1996 tend to espouse similar views to the age cohort just ahead of them, the Millennials, but they are far more open to social change than older generations have been, according to the findings of a new report by the Pew Research Center. The findings mark a shift that could substantially reshape the nation’s political and economic landscape.

    According to the study — which was based on online surveys of 920 youths aged 13 to 17 and nearly 11,000 adults 18 or older — only 30 percent of Generation Z respondents said they approved of President Trump’s performance; more than half believed humans were fueling climate change; and 70 percent said they wanted the government to do more to solve the nation’s problems. Those views roughly mirror attitudes held by Millennials, and together, the two age groups may add up to a powerful voting bloc at odds with Republican orthodoxy, political scientists say.

    “This should be an alert to the Republican Party as they think about generational replacement,” said Elizabeth Bennion, a professor of political science at Indiana University South Bend.
    Each succeeding generation of Americans tends to be more progressive than those that came before, Ms. Bennion noted, a trend that potentially poses a long-term threat to the Republican Party’s power.
    “If there isn’t a will to change within the party,” she said, “it could become permanently in the minority moving forward.”
    Democrats of all ages tend to align fairly closely on major social and political issues, but the report highlights a sharp generational divide among Republicans. For example, more than half of the youngest Republicans surveyed said that racial and ethnic diversity was good for American society, a view shared by fewer than 40 percent of their Millennial counterparts, 34 percent of Generation Xers and just three in 10 baby boomers.
    Young Republicans are also more likely to approve of same-sex marriage and accept transgender people.

    Michael Schaefer, 18, a politically conservative college freshman from Youngstown, Ohio, said he was in the sixth grade when some classmates came out as gay, and had a number of transgender students as friends in high school.
    “For over half my life, I’ve been shown the other side of sexuality and gender,” he said. “I don’t care about their sex or gender, I just care about the individual.”
    More than one-third of Generation Z respondents said they knew someone who preferred to be addressed using gender-neutral pronouns, the Pew study found, compared with 12 percent of baby boomers.
    More than 68 million Americans belong to Generation Z, representing about 22 percent of the nation’s population, according to 2017 survey data from the United States Census Bureau — a share larger than the Millennials’ and second only to the baby boomers’.
    Contrary to conventional wisdom, Americans’ political and social views do not tend to drift to the right as they age, according to Kim Parker, who oversees research into social demographic trends at the Pew Research Center.
    “The differences we see across age groups have more to do with the unique historical circumstances in which they come of age,” she said, noting that demographers have not seen a generational pattern of growing more conservative or more Republican over time.
    Paulina Aceves, 18, a high school senior in Scottsdale, Ariz, embodies the complexities of her generation. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, she proudly identifies as a Christian and a Republican. But she does not support a border wall, nor does she believe the government should be less involved in American society.

    “The right solution is definitely for the government to take a more active role,” she said.
    The Republican Party has lost younger Americans like Travis Gaither, though, as it has moved farther to the right on issues like immigration, gun control and climate change.
    Mr. Gaither, who grew up in Tennessee, described his parents as “typical southern white Republicans” who belong to two country clubs and are active in the Chamber of Commerce.
    But Mr. Gaither, 20, was chairman of the High School Democrats of Tennessee during his senior year, a political transformation fueled by his liberal social views and cemented by his outrage over Mr. Trump’s hard-line policies.
    The Pew study found that two-thirds of Mr. Gaither’s generation believe, as he does, that black people are treated less fairly than whites in the United States. He said his feelings on the subject were shaped by an early brush with racism in high school, where a black girl he knew was menaced by a white football player who threatened to lynch her. And then his views were solidified last summer, he said, after a police officer in Nashville killed an unarmed black man.
    “I feel like I’ve moved toward the left, as the Republican Party has shifted toward the right,” he said.


    8) Can Macron Talk the Yellow Vests Into Submission? He Will Try
    By Adam Nossiter, January 23, 2019

    Police officers removing Yellow Vest demonstrators in Souillac before Mr. Macron’s visit.CreditFred Scheiber/Associated Press

    SOUILLAC, France — At 9:23 p.m., after nearly six hours of talk, President Emmanuel Macron took up the subject of nursing homes. At 9:48 p.m., into the seventh hour, he was speaking about France’s “food independence.” Past 10 o’clock, with some of his listeners visibly wilting on plastic chairs, it was on to the French minimum wage.
    The president in his crisp white shirt and tie — shedding the suit jacket in the fifth hour was his only concession — showed no such sign of weakness. “We’re going to favor organic farming,” he told his audience of local mayors as the night wore on. A half-joke from a small-town mayor about breaking Fidel Castro’s record for marathon speechifying had long since been forgotten.
    So it was that the youthful French president revealed his strategy for overcoming the crisis of the Yellow Vest uprising: talk, or at least a series of town hall-style meetings around the country. For now, at least, it may be working to blunt the momentum of his opponents, even as it tests their patience.

    Early indications — opinion polls slightly on the rise, violence on the decline, his party overtaking the far right in surveys for the European elections in May — suggest Mr. Macron, 41, may finally be turning a corner after weeks of stunned retreat.

    The president’s appearance last week in Souillac in southwestern France, population 3,300, was part of his kickoff to a two-month series of local talks that his office has dubbed the “Great National Debate.” Other citizen debates, without him, have already started all around the country.
    Assembled before Mr. Macron were more than 600 mayors, the grass-roots representatives of the constituents he stands accused of disdaining, the ones Mr. Macron once labeled “those who are nothing.’’
    That distance from average citizens, and a lack of understanding and empathy about their inability to make ends meet, has been seen as provoking the still-smoldering Yellow Vest uprising.
    Some close to Mr. Macron say it has taken its toll on the French president. The usually impeccably turned-out Mr. Macron is thinner, and bags have been spotted under his eyes.

    “He was pretty blown over by the violence of it, directed at him,” said Sacha Houlié, a young member of Parliament in Mr. Macron’s circle. “And yes, he was very shocked by the graffiti on the Arc de Triomphe, and the violence against the police.’’

    Mr. Macron is now trying to bridge the gap with the gatherings, organized by these same mayors, so that citizens can blow off steam about high taxes, low wages and disappearing services.
    A “detonator of collective intelligence,” Mr. Macron called the process at the gathering last week. And that release, the president is wagering, will take the wind out of the Yellow Vest sails.
    The strategy no doubt entails risks, not least that the president’s exhaustive, deliberative style runs up against the angry demands for urgent action from citizens impatient with promises that his disruptive economic changes will soon yield fruit.
    But by thrusting himself squarely into the debate, as Mr. Macron did in Souillac, and showing his command of all the subjects thrown at him, the president has clawed back lost ground in the population at large.
    “He’s doing what he can, and it seems to be bringing some results,” said France’s leading pollster, Jerome Fourquet of IFOP, in an interview Wednesday. “His popularity is going up, just like the voting intentions for his party.”
    “So the signs indicate that we’ve gotten over the worst of the crisis,” he added. “We seem to be heading toward a gradual exit.”
    Still, it is too soon to say whether Mr. Macron is succeeding in winning over his opponents, or merely stalling them with enough talk to anesthetize the violent street protests that threatened his presidency.

    The vote that counts may be among the Yellow Vests, and for now it is not clear that they are buying what Mr. Macron has to sell. “It’s just a way of putting the whole thing to sleep,” a movement founder, Priscilla Ludosky, told French reporters.
    In the town center of Souillac, all narrow medieval streets, dozens of abandoned and empty storefronts and ‘‘For Sale’’ signs in the ancient stone buildings attest to the distress of the ‘‘Left Behind France’’ that has fueled the Yellow Vest revolt. All morning, noisy Yellow Vest protesters on the main street of Souillac had demanded Mr. Macron’s resignation.
    Inside the convention center the atmosphere, initially at least, was not much warmer. “You’ve got to stop throwing the weakest among us, the most precarious, the poorest, to the dogs!” Christian Venries, the mayor of Saint-Cirgues, population 355, admonished the president in front of hundreds of his colleagues.

    By the end, others were assuaged, at least, by what nearly all agreed was an impressive performance. “We came in morose, and we left feeling rosy,” said Francis Chastrusse, mayor of Nadaillac-de-Rouge, population 162, as he walked out last Friday night.
    If the gatherings have so far resolved nothing else, it is that Mr. Macron’s most potent weapon may be his mouth, and a nearly encyclopedic command of even the most arcane of subjects.
    For a question about accelerated medical aid, Mr. Macron knew the cost of speeding up the delivery of hearing aids. He rattled off numbers on state public housing expenditures, and he knew how long it takes to process migrant asylum requests, how many different pension systems exist in France, and the name of a bear who died in the mountains in 2004.
    “One-third of our tap water is wasted,” Mr. Macron was saying in the dilapidated convention center in Souillac as gray daylight outside turned to darkness. “Property assessments have got to be revised,” he went on. “Paychecks will be simplified,” the president insisted.

    “We’re building a new form of democracy,” he said. “Participative democracy. Information circulates much more quickly. We’ve got to do a sort of hygiene of information.”
    Hour after hour, the president drowned his listeners in proposals, recommendations, observations, admonitions and prescriptions. He bludgeoned them into submission with a total mastery of dozens of different subjects, all explicated without a single note in hand.
    And he left his dazed audience in the dust, begging for surrender and commenting sheepishly on his obvious brilliance.
    “This is a man who is largely superior,” said Philippe Baron, mayor of the tiny town of Loubersan, south of Bordeaux, as he emerged bleary-eyed from the convention center here. “Yes, it’s true, most of us were convinced.”
    What is missing, many agree, is less mouth and more ear on the part of the president. And the French are eager to give him an earful.
    Each city hall in France, all 35,000-plus including the one in Souillac, now contains a dog-eared “Grievance Book” modeled on those that helped kick off the French Revolution in 1789. The citizens here have scribbled furious demands for lower taxes and higher wages.

    In the rolling and sonorous accents of southern France, the region’s mayors complained of problems with bears, disappearing local bread bakerslack of transport, too many migrants and not enough state support for tourism.

    The questions rolled in from all the departments — the administrative districts — of southern France, from the high Pyrenees to the wild Aveyron, and he had answers for all of them.
    “Look, he knows how to do this sort of thing,” said Mr. Fourquet, the pollster. “He’s got deep knowledge of the subjects, and he has a faculty for listening. He can be very impressive.”
    Mr. Fourquet noted that Mr. Macron, with a recent turn toward harsher public assessments of Yellow Vest violence, is making inroads with a right-leaning electorate destabilized by the upheaval.
    Yet for all the hours of listening to the small-town complaints, Mr. Macron also made clear that he was not backing down from his core pro-business, pro-capital ideology, likely presaging more conflict ahead.
    He once again brushed aside calls to reinstate the wealth tax, whose elimination early in his administration has been a bugbear of the Yellow Vest movement.
    “Our country has suffered for years from lack of investment in industry,” Mr. Macron said at one point. “But investment today means jobs of tomorrow. And it’s beginning to take off.”
    Unemployment is indeed down slightly, though still high at over 9 percent. “How can we jump-start production in our country? You’ve got to incite people to invest in the economy,” he told the silent mayors.

    Some are waiting to be convinced that the president — nicknamed Jupiter, god of the gods in Roman mythology, for what has been seen as his seeming arrogance — is capable of bending, too.
    “Sure, it went on a long time,” said Jean-Marc Vayssouze-Faure, the mayor of Cahors, the regional capital. “But I need proof. I want him to show that he is sensitive to the requirements of social justice. And he needs to show that he is shedding this totally Jupiter-like way of exercising power.”


    9) Mentally Ill Prisoners Are Held Past Release Dates, Lawsuit Claims
    By Ashley Southall, January 23, 2019

    The Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville, N.Y. A man being held there has sued the state, claiming he is being held past his release date because New York lacks sufficient housing for the mentally ill.CreditCreditEdward Keating/The New York Times

    On paper, a 31-year-old man found to have serious mental illnesses was released from a New York state prison in September 2017 after serving 10 years behind bars for two robberies.
    But in reality, the man, who asked to be identified by his initials C.J., still wakes up each day inside a maximum-security prison in Stormville. Though he is technically free, he is still confined to a cell because of a Kafkaesque bureaucratic dilemma: The state requires people like him to be released to a supportive housing facility, but there is not one available.
    Lawyers for C.J. and five other mentally ill men filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan on Wednesday seeking to force Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to address a shortage of housing for people with serious mental illnesses who need help adjusting to life outside prison walls.

    The men are no longer being held in prison because they committed offenses, their lawyers argue, but because the state has determined they are likely to become homeless once released — a practice they contend amounts to discrimination under federal civil rights laws.

    Four of the men, including C.J., have finished their maximum prison sentences and maintain their confinement also violates their constitutional rights to due process and protections against cruel and unusual punishment. The plaintiffs have asked the court to allow them to proceed anonymously because their lawsuit discusses sensitive personal information and they fear retaliation from prison guards.
    Corrections records indicate the men are in “residential treatment facilities” — housing where residents are able to move about freely to seek jobs, visit family and pursue educational opportunities.
    But the lawsuit says that label, as the state has applied it to 13 prisons, is a fraud, because the men are being held and treated as other prisoners are. They are locked in cells that have room for a bed and a few possessions. They are required to wear inmate uniforms. They cannot receive packages.
    “Though labeled ‘releasees,’ they remain prisoners in every respect,” the complaint said.
    The state continues to hold the men “because they are unable to secure a community-based mental health housing placement that does not exist due to lack of available beds,” the complaint said. In effect, the state has lengthened their incarceration, “undermining the most basic principle undergirding the criminal justice system: that a criminal sentence, once imposed by a judge, means what it says,” the lawsuit said
    The lawsuit, which names the state corrections department and mental health office as defendants, was filed by the Legal Aid Society and Disability Rights New York, who are seeking class-action status on behalf of all inmates held in state prisons beyond their release dates solely because they are waiting to be placed in supportive housing.

    It remained unclear on Wednesday how many mentally ill people were being held in prison past their release dates.
    Jessica Riley, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Mental Health, declined to comment on the allegations in the lawsuit, but said the state has “one of the most robust supportive housing networks in the nation for individuals with mental illness,” with about 44,000 units.
    C.J. has been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and antisocial personality disorder, court papers said. As his release date approached, he was enrolled in a re-entry program that was preparing him to be set free in Orange County, where he was looking forward to seeing his daughter for the first time since he went to prison. He had obtained a G.E.D. and a vocational certificate in prison and hoped to get a job.
    But the day before he was scheduled to be released, C.J. was transferred to another prison, and later, to the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville. His mental condition has worsened since his release date passed, and he has been repeatedly placed on suicide watch, according to the lawsuit.
    “Every day is hard, very hard,” C.J. said in written responses to questions from The New York Times. “I wake up and I look around and I don’t understand why I am here.”
    The lawsuit does not seek an order requiring the six men to be freed. Rather, it asks that the state remove “the only barrier to their release” by creating more supportive housing for mentally ill people being released from prison.
    The complaint cites a 1999 Supreme Court ruling in Olmstead v. L.C., which held that public institutions must provide community-based services to people with mental illnesses who need and desire them.

    For decades since the civil rights movement, public pressure had built on states to take mentally ill people out of psychiatric hospitals and place them in settings where they could participate in society, an effort called “deinstitutionalization.”
    But over the years, as psychiatric hospitals closed and lawmakers toughened crime and sentencing policies, more people with mental illnesses wound up incarcerated. Though prisons and jails developed treatment programs, few of them were effective, advocates for the mentally ill said.
    About 4,000 people receiving mental health treatment in New York State prisons are released each year, and more than half of them have serious disorders like schizophrenia that severely limit their ability to function independently, according to the state Office of Mental Health.
    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has committed the state to building 20,000 new supportive housing units, and state lawmakers so far have allocated $2.6 billion to create the first 6,000 units by 2021.
    But the lawsuit asserts that, under Governor Cuomo, the Office of Mental Health has neglected requests from counties across the state to build additional housing for former prisoners with mental disorders.
    Such housing programs, where residents receive psychiatric care and learn skills like cooking and using mass transit, offer opportunities to participate in public life that prisons do not, mental health advocates say.
    But waiting lists have grown longer as the state has eliminated beds from its psychiatric hospitals. The roughly 44,000 spaces available for the mentally ill are about half of what is needed, said Antonia Lasicki, the executive director of the Association for Community Living, which represents supportive-housing operators.

    Despite the state’s commitment to build more supportive housing, the creation of units has not kept pace with demand, and existing facilities are struggling to stay open, Ms. Lasicki and other advocates said. State funding “is barely enough to cover the rent,” she said.
    “So that’s the problem right there in the nutshell,” Ms. Lasicki added. “They’re very underfunded.”



    Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com

    Reply via web post Reply to sender Reply to group Start a New Topic Messages in this topic (1)

    Have you tried the highest rated email app?
    With 4.5 stars in iTunes, the Yahoo Mail app is the highest rated email app on the market. What are you waiting for? Now you can access all your inboxes (Gmail, Outlook, AOL and more) in one place. Never delete an email again with 1000GB of free cloud storage.