Breaking: Governor @GavinNewsom orders retesting of DNA evidence in the case of convicted murderer Kevin Cooper, who has long insisted he is innocent





Solitary Man: A Visit to Pelican Bay State Prison
A two person play with music performed by Fred Johnson and Charlie Hinton to celebrate Charlie's 74th birthday and recovery from cancer
Music by City Jazz will follow the performance

Monday, March 18
7:30 pm
Berkeley Marsh Cabaret
2120 Allston Way, Berkeley
(1 block from Downtown Berkeley BART)
No-Host Bar
Tickets: $15. Call 415-282-3055 or visit
Scroll down to Solitary Man, click on the purple bar

In Solitary Man, Charlie travels to Crescent City to visit a lifer named Otis Washington (played by Fred). A 64 year old native of New York City, Otis has been imprisoned since 1975 and at Pelican Bay since it opened in 1989. They get to know each other during the visit, and Otis explains some of what he has learned and experienced.

www.lifewish.org     •     Facebook: /solitarymantheplay


DA Krasner: At long last, turn the page on Mumia Abu-Jamal case!

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In 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal was a former Black Panther and respected public radio journalist in Philadelphia, when he was jailed after a disputed incident in which police officer Daniel Faulkner was killed. In 1982, Abu-Jamal was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by Judge Albert Sabo, known as a "hanging judge" who'd sent more people to Death Row than any other U.S. judge.

Human rights groups like Amnesty International criticized the trial, pointing to racial bias and "possible political influences that may have prevented him from receiving an impartial and fair hearing." Unsuccessful appeals over the years have argued that prosecutors suppressed evidence and that blacks were systematically purged from the jury.

But after 37 years behind bars, much of it on death row in solitary confinement, Abu-Jamal now has some real hope.

Click here to tell Larry Krasner, Philadelphia's progressive District Attorney, that it's time to turn the page on Abu-Jamal's case.

Last December, Abu-Jamal won a major victory when Philadelphia Judge Leon Tucker ruled that he had the right to re-appeal his case because of the appearance of bias during the appeals process – specifically that a former DA-turned-Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who'd blocked Abu-Jamal's appeals should have recused himself from the case.

This victory, clearing the path for a possible new trial, seemed especially hopeful because in 2017 Philadelphia voters, especially African American voters, had elected Krasner – a longtime foe of mass incarceration, the death penalty, and racism in criminal justice.

Click here to urge DA Krasner not to resist Judge Tucker's ruling and let justice be served.

At the end of January, Krasner shocked many by announcing that he would challenge Judge Tucker's decision to give Abu-Jamal the right to appeal, apparently over his concern that it might open up appeals for other convicted prisoners. Days later, Krasner was disinvited from a progressive law conference at Yale which he was to keynote, and conference organizers urged Krasner to drop his resistance to Abu Jamal's appeal: "We cannot understand how DA Krasner's decision in this case serves justice or the transformative vision that he ran on."

Add your voice to those who want DA Krasner to reverse course on Abu-Jamal's case – and to ask the DA: "Isn't nearly four decades behind bars more than enough?!" 

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now. 

-- The RootsAction.org Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.

>> Amnesty International: "A Life in the Balance: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal" (Feb. 2000)
>> Essence: "Judge Rules Mumia Abu-Jamal Can Reargue Appeal To The Pennsylvania Supreme Court" (Dec. 28, 2018)
>> Philly.com: "Philly DA Larry Krasner disinvited to speak at Yale Law conference" (Feb. 2, 2019)
>> The Intercept.com: "Larry Krasner Responds to Progressive Critics" (Feb. 9, 2019)
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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."




Hello to You All,
                        I have created a board game—"RACE FOR SOLIDARITY" and am awaiting the copyright.   The board game involves throwing dice.  The game both teaches and tests historical knowledge of racism—USA, and the fight against racism involving the struggles for and of multiracial unity.  The game also demonstrates the negative, reactionary movement of the forces of racism as well as the progressive movement of solidarity forces.  Playing the game involves and depends upon successfully building solidarity during the game.  Also included is an extensive list of references for the answers to all questions.
                        Due to the expense of producing the game I presently have only three complete games.  I am hoping to find person, persons or organizations to help me both fund and promote this game.  I am open to suggestions.
Please contact me with any thoughts   gordonnayvin@yahoo.com
Thank you,
In Multiracial Solidarity,
Nayvin Gordon



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.
























Courage to Resist
Hi Bonnie. Courage to Resist is working closely with our new fiscal sponsor, the Objector Church, on a couple projects that we're excited to share with you.
objector registry
Objector Registry launches as draft registration of women nears
The first ever Objector Registry (objector.church/register) offers a declaration of conscience for anyone to assert their moral opposition to war, regardless of age, gender, or religious affiliation. This serves to create a protective record of beliefs and actions with which to oppose a later forced draft. Given last week's release of the report by the Congressionally mandated commission on military service, this free registry is coming online just in time. Please sign up yourself and share with friends!
weekly meetup
You're invited to join us online weekly
This is a great way to find out more about the Objector Church and why we might be the religious humanist interfaith peace and justice community you have been looking for! Our live meetups are lead by Minister James Branum from Oklahoma City. This Sunday at 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern, if your not excited by the NFL's "big game", pop online and check us out at objector.church/meetup
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



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

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

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

Major Tillery and family

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

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

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




    On Monday March 4th, 2019 Leonard Peltier was advised that his request for a transfer had been unceremoniously denied by the United States Bureau of Prisons.
    The International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee appreciates and thanks the large number of his supporters who took the time to write, call, email, or fax the BOP in support of Leonard’s request for a transfer.
    Those of us who have been supporting Leonard’s freedom for a number of years are disappointed but resolute to continue pushing for his freedom and until that day, to continue to push for his transfer to be closer to his relatives and the Indigenous Nations who support him.
    44 years is too damn long for an innocent man to be locked up. How can his co-defendants be innocent on the grounds of self-defense but Leonard remains in prison? The time is now for all of us to dig deep and do what we can and what we must to secure freedom for Leonard Peltier before it’s too late.
    We need the support of all of you now, more than ever. The ILPDC plans to appeal this denial of his transfer to be closer to his family. We plan to demand he receive appropriate medical care, and to continue to uncover and utilize every legal mechanism to secure his release. To do these things we need money to support the legal work.
    Land of the Brave postcard-page-0

    Please call the ILPDC National office or email us for a copy of the postcard you can send to the White House. We need your help to ask President Trump for Leonard's freedom.

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    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) Disclosing Subpoena for Testimony, Chelsea Manning Vows to Fight
    By Charlie Savage, February 28, 2019

    Chelsea Manning last year in London. She said that her legal team would file a motion on Friday morning to quash the subpoena.CreditCreditFacundo Arrizabalaga/EPA, via Shutterstock

    Note: Chelsea Manning has since been taken into police custody.

    WASHINGTON — Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst convicted in 2013 of leaking archives of secret military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, revealed in an interview that she had been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury — and vowed to fight it.
    The subpoena does not say what prosecutors intend to ask her about. But it was issued in the Eastern District of Virginia and comes after prosecutors inadvertently disclosed in November that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been charged under seal in that district.
    Ms. Manning, who provided a copy of the subpoena to The New York Times, said that her legal team would file a motion on Friday to quash it, arguing that it would violate her constitutional rights to force her to appear. She declined to say whether she would cooperate if that failed.

    "Given what is going on, I am opposing this," she said. "I want to be very forthright I have been subpoenaed. I don't know the parameters of the subpoena apart from that I am expected to appear. I don't know what I'm going to be asked."

    Ms. Manning said she had retained Moira Meltzer-Cohen, a New York attorney, to represent her in fighting the subpoena. Her website lists grand-jury representation as a specialty, saying: "We will work to quash the subpoena on all available grounds, assist you in identifying lawful ways to resist the subpoena, and work to prevent a contempt finding in the event that you refuse to testify."
    Mr. Assange has been living for years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid arrest. It has not been clear what the sealed charge or charges relate to, but prosecuting him for publishing government secrets would raise novel issues about the limits of First Amendment press freedoms.
    Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the office of the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, declined to comment. But there were multiple reasons to believe that the subpoena is related to the investigation of Mr. Assange.
    Among them, the subpoena was requested by Gordon D. Kromberg, an assistant United States attorney in the Eastern District. After an inadvertent court filing revealed that Mr. Assange has been charged under seal, it was Mr. Kromberg who successfully argued before a judge that any such charges remain a secret and should not be unsealed.
    Moreover, Ms. Manning said, Mr. Kromberg has told her lawyers in vague terms that prosecutors wanted to talk to her about her past statements. During her court-martial, Ms. Manning delivered a lengthy statement about how she came to copy archives of secret documents and send them to WikiLeaks, including her online interactions with someone who was likely Mr. Assange.

    "It's disappointing but not surprising that the government is continuing to pursue criminal charges against Julian Assange, apparently for his role in uncovering and providing the public truthful information about matters of great public interest," said Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Mr. Assange.
    In recent years, Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks have become notorious for their role in disseminating Democratic emails stolen by Russian hackers as part of the Russian government's covert efforts to damage the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help Donald J. Trump win.
    The antisecrecy group, however, had previously vaulted to fame by publishing archives of classified documents — including logs of significant events in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and diplomatic cables — that revealed many things about what was secretly happening in the world. All of those initial files, it eventually emerged, had been provided by Ms. Manning.
    In 2017, WikiLeaks published documents about C.I.A. hacking tools. A software engineer, Joshua A. Schulte, has been charged with that leak.
    After Ms. Manning's leaks, the Obama administration had considered trying to indict Mr. Assange. But while it has become common to prosecute officials under the Espionage Act for leaking files, using it against someone who merely received and published leaked files raised fears about chilling investigative reporting.
    The Obama legal team eventually shelved the idea. But the Trump legal team moved forward with developing a sealed criminal complaint against Mr. Assange — for something — last summer, providing a potential basis to seek his extradition were he to emerge from the embassy.
    The subpoena to Ms. Manning, dated Jan. 22, says that she was ordered to appear on Feb. 5 before a grand jury at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va. But she said that date got pushed back, and she is now supposed to testify on March 5.

    During her court-martial, Ms. Manning took responsibility for her actions and said that Mr. Assange had not directed them.
    "No one associated with W.L.O." — an abbreviation she used to refer to the WikiLeaks organization — "pressured me into sending any more information," she said at the time. "I take full responsibility."
    Because that account would seemingly be helpful to the defense, she said she wondered if prosecutors wanted to try to get her to back away from it. She would not do so, she insisted, while criticizing the secrecy that surrounds grand jury proceedings.
    "I am not going to contribute to a process that I feel is dangerous and could potentially place me in a position where I am forced to backtrack on the truth," she said.


    2) The Lessons of March 4
    The 50th anniversary of a protest by scientists against the Vietnam War makes this an opportune time to reflect on that activism and the position of science then and now, writes Alan Chodos.
    By Alan Chodos, March 4, 2019

    Fifty years ago this week, a sizable fraction of the students and faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, abetted by their colleagues at Harvard University and other institutions in the Boston area, participated in an event that a number of us had been working very hard for months to organize. It was identified by the date of its occurrence, March 4, and, as part of the protest against the Vietnam War then engulfing the nation, was a day on which scientists stopped their research to examine their role in the war effort and the broader social context in which they were immersed. In commemoration, MIT Press has just issued a 50th anniversary edition of March 4: Scientists, Students and Society, which reprints all the speeches, by students and eminent scientists alike, that were at the core of the March 4 event.
    The March 4 movement at MIT began, in the fall of 1968, with a conversation in a smoke-filled room among three physics graduate students. Anyone familiar with the history of the period knows that activism, especially anti-Vietnam War activism, was in the air. The question before the three participants was, what role could MIT play? The answer that emerged: hold a research strike. Scientists should withhold their service from the government, and especially the military, until the war came to an end.
    Of the three of us, only one, Ira Rubenzahl, was actually an MIT student. The other two, Joel Feigenbaum and myself, were visiting from Cornell University because our adviser, Kurt Gottfried, was on sabbatical at MIT. We recruited a fourth student, Jonny Kabat (now Kabat-Zinn) to help us branch out into biology. At first we thought the event should happen in January, but it soon became clear that we needed more time. The specific date, March 4, was chosen for its exhortatory quality, attested by the slogan "March 4th is a movement, not a day."
    There was a lot of support for our idea among the faculty, although the two groups, students and faculty, diverged both temperamentally and substantively. Rather quickly the movement spawned two independent groups, the Science Action Coordinating Committee (SACC), run by the students, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), for the faculty.
    One bone of contention between students and faculty was whether to call the effort a strike, a word that, for some, was too fraught with threats of confrontation. The faculty drafted a statement that effectively set the parameters for the March 4 event.
    Instead of a bona fide strike, it was to be a one-day research stoppage, during which participants would gather to examine the involvement of science in the war effort and discuss how scientists could take action to end the war. Broader issues were also on the table, related to how society in general and the university in particular needed to change.
    The strike versus one-day work stoppage issue became public in an unexpected way. One of my responsibilities was handling media relations for SACC. I had been working with Bryce Nelson of Science magazine, promising him a scoop on March 4 if he would hold the story until we were ready to go public. But then we got word that a local paper was about to break the story, so I contacted Nelson and told him he'd better get his story into print quickly, which he did -- but the person who wrote the headline used the word "strike." General consternation. Three eminent MIT professors hurriedly wrote a letter to Science explaining that no, March 4 was not a strike, but rather a day of discussion and contemplation.
    Incidents of this kind fed the inherent wariness between students and faculty. The students were inspired by the general societal unrest (it helps to remember that the assassinations of King and Kennedy, the disruptions of the Democratic convention in Chicago, and the election of Richard Nixon were all recent events) whereas the faculty leaders knew that many of their colleagues would participate only if March 4 was billed as a day of discussion and not of overt protest. Some of the faculty were very encouraging to us. Others were openly hostile; at one meeting, a professor of chemistry wagged his finger at me across the table and accused me of outright lying.
    March 4 the day was snowy and cold, but Kresge Auditorium was full nonetheless. The program, which had begun the evening before and which also spilled over to the following weekend at different venues, was a mix of eminent faculty and various panels composed both of students and faculty. A goal of the students was to use March 4 to build an ongoing political movement. My involvement with the media, who were there in considerable numbers, meant that I did not have much time to sit and listen to the speakers. I remember Hans Bethe beginning his talk on the futility of the antiballistic missile program saying something like "you have been protesting against the ABM; I'm here to tell you why" and thinking that, although accurate, it was somewhat demeaning to his audience.
    I thought that, after March 4, SACC would continue as an important vehicle for student activism, whereas UCS would likely wither away as faculty members returned to their laboratories and classrooms. As it turned out, the exact opposite was true. SACC did survive for a few more months but dissipated as students graduated and moved away. By late spring, I was back at Cornell, working on finishing my thesis and planning ahead to a postdoctoral position.
    Meanwhile, UCS benefited from the dedicated leadership of Henry Kendall and Kurt Gottfried, who shepherded it through its early years and helped to develop it into the influential organization that it still is today.
    My year at MIT was devoted almost exclusively to politics; I made close to zero progress on my thesis work.
    But it was personally valuable in many other ways. I met large numbers of students (including my future wife) and faculty across the entire institute, which would never have been possible if I had stuck to my alleged purpose for being there. Normally graduate students would see their advisers by appointment and wait their turn at the office door. But we marched into meetings with faculty for serious discussions as equals. We didn't seize buildings, as happened on other campuses, but it was a time when the organizational hierarchy was unusually flat. Whether justified by hindsight or not, we students felt that the tide of history was with us. I was fortunate to be part of that remarkable time, even though, with the passage of 50 years, I can't be as confident as we were then of the lasting significance of what we achieved.
    Today's political climate has given renewed intensity to the question of the role of science and scientists in public life, awakening distant memories of March 4, not just as a historical event but also as a precursor of current relevance. To my mind, though, there are key differences. The feeling in 1969 was that scientists were complicit in a great evil, and the thrust of March 4 was how to change it. Science itself was not under siege -- the Cold War was in full swing, and the moon landing was only a few months away. Scientists were respected and in great demand. The one-day research stoppage was meant as, at least, a symbolic warning that the nation would suffer if scientists withdrew their support.
    Fifty years on, however, science really is under siege. Politicians routinely disregard scientific evidence, most prominently in the area of climate change. Scientists face an inherent disadvantage when they engage in political debate. If they tell the truth, they lose sharpness and focus, because scientific truth is always accompanied by disclaimers about probability and possible sources of error. If they try to match the fervor of their opponents, they sacrifice their credibility. Some years ago the American Physical Society issued a statement referring to the evidence for anthropogenic climate change as "incontrovertible" and were upbraided by climate skeptics for ever using that word in a scientific argument. The statement was sheepishly toned down.
    The lesson of March 4 is the perhaps obvious one, that a scientist's work has impact far beyond the laboratory walls, and that scientists need to participate as responsible citizens in the issues of the day. But the tactics and strategies that seemed relevant in 1969 are not the ones that will help extricate us from our current predicament.
    Alan Chodos received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1970. He then pursued a career doing research in theoretical physics. In 2000 he became associate executive officer of the American Physical Society, a position from which he retired in 2014. After five years of retirement, he and his wife have relocated to the University of Texas at Arlington, where they are now both on the faculty.


    3) Reckoning With Violence
    We must face violent crime honestly and courageously if we are ever to end mass incarceration and provide survivors what they truly want and need to heal.
    "'Nearly everyone who has committed violence first survived it,' and studies indicate that experiencing violence is the greater predictor of committing it. Caging and isolating a person who's already been damaged by violence is hardly a recipe for positive transformation."
    By Michelle Alexander, March 3, 2019

    When Chicago's police chief, Eddie Johnson, looked out at the sea of journalists to share the breaking news that Jussie Smollett, a well-known and beloved actor, had allegedly staged a violent racist and homophobic attack against himself, he said with great emotion: "Guys, I look out into the crowd, I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention."
    Chicago is besieged by horrific levels of violence, including thousands of shootings and hundreds of homicides each year. More than 500 people were killed in 2018, down from 664 in 2017. This ongoing tragedy cannot be blamed on any lack of aggressiveness on the part of law enforcement. Indeed, if wars on crime and drugsmilitarized policing"get tough" sentencing policiestorture of suspects, and perpetual monitoring and surveillance of the poorest, most crime-ridden communities actually worked to keep people safe, Chicago would be one of the safest cities in the world.
    Despite the abysmal failure of "get tough" strategies to break cycles of violence in cities like Chicago, reformers of our criminal justice system in recent years have largely avoided the subject of violence, instead focusing their energy and resources on overhauling our nation's drug laws and reducing penalties for nonviolent offenses.
    It's not difficult to understand why. After all, violent crime was used by politicians for decades to rationalize "get tough" rhetoric, declarations of war, harsh mandatory minimum sentencing, and a prison-building boom unlike anything the world has ever seen. The tide has turned somewhat, but reformers are proceeding cautiously, reaching first for the low-hanging fruit.

    Drug law reform has never been an easier sell — especially now that opioid addiction is perceived as ravaging primarily white communities, generating far more compassion than black communities ever experienced during the crack epidemic in the late 1980s. The opportunity to curb the drug war is critically important for many communities of color, especially in places like Chicago where it has caused catastrophic harm. Nationally, the drug war helped to birth our system of mass incarceration, which now governs not only the 2.2 million people who are locked in prisons and jails in this country, but also the 4.5 million people that are under correctional control outside prison walls — on probation or parole. More than 70 million people now have criminal records that authorize legal discrimination against them, relegating them to a permanent second-class status. The overwhelming majority ensnared by this system have been convicted of nonviolent crimes and drug offenses.
    And yet, as Danielle Sered points out in her profoundly necessary book, "Until We Reckon," if we fail to face violence in our communities honestly, courageously and with profound compassion for the survivors — many of whom are also perpetrators of harm — our nation will never break its addiction to caging human beings.
    Fifty-four percent of the people currently held in state prisons have been convicted of a crime classified as violent. We will never slash our prison population by 50 percent — the goal of a number of current campaigns — much less get back to levels of incarceration that we had before the race to incarcerate began in the early 1980s, without addressing the one issue most reformers avoid: violence.
    Reckoning with violence in a meaningful way does not mean "getting tough" in the way that phrase has been used for decades; nor does it mean being "smart on crime" to the extent that phrase has become shorthand for being "tough" on violent crime but "soft" on nonviolent crime — a formulation that continues to be embraced by some so-called "progressive prosecutors" today.
    As Ms. Sered explains in her book, drawing on her experience working with hundreds of survivors and perpetrators of violence in Brooklyn and the Bronx, imprisonment isn't just an inadequate tool; it's often enormously counterproductive — leaving survivors and their communities worse off.

    Survivors themselves know this. That's why fully 90 percent of survivors in New York City, when given the chance to choose whether they want the person who harmed them incarcerated or in a restorative justice process — one that offers support to survivors while empowering them to help decide how perpetrators of violence can repair the damage they've done — choose the latter and opt to use the services of Ms. Sered's nonprofit organization, Common Justice. 
    Ms. Sered launched Common Justice in an effort to give survivors of violence — like herself — a meaningful pathway to accountability without perpetuating the harms endemic to mass incarceration. As a restorative justice program, it offers a survivor-centered accountability process that "gives those directly impacted by acts of violence the opportunity to shape what repair will look like, and, in the case of the responsible party, to carry out that repair instead of going to prison." The people who choose to participate are victims of serious violent felonies — people who have been shot, stabbed or robbed — and who decide that they would prefer to get answers from the person who harmed them, be heard in a restorative justice circle, help to devise an accountability plan, and receive comprehensive victim services, rather than send the person who harmed them to prison.
    Ninety percent is a stunning figure considering everything we've been led to believe that survivors actually want. For years, we've been told that victims of violence want nothing more than for the people who hurt them to be locked up and treated harshly. It is true that some survivors do want revenge or retribution, especially in the immediate aftermath of the crime. Ms. Sered is emphatic that rage is not pathological and a desire for revenge is not blameworthy; both are normal and can be important to the healing process, much as denial and anger are normal stages of grief.
    But she also stresses that the number of people who are interested only in revenge or punishment is greatly exaggerated. After all, survivors are almost never offered real choices. Usually when we ask victims "Do you want incarceration?" what we're really asking is "Do you want something or nothing?" And when any of us are hurt, and when our families and communities are hurting, we want something rather than nothing. In many oppressed communities, drug treatment, good schools, economic investment, job training, trauma and grief support are not available options. Restorative justice is not an option. The only thing on offer is prisons, prosecutors and police.
    But what happens, Ms. Sered wondered, if instead of asking, "Do you want something or nothing?" we started asking "Do you want this intervention or that prison?" It turns out, when given a real choice, very few survivors choose prison as their preferred response.
    This is not because survivors, as a group, are especially merciful. To the contrary, they're pragmatic. They know the criminal justice system will almost certainly fail to deliver what they want and need most to overcome their pain and trauma. More than 95 percent of cases end in plea bargains negotiated by lawyers behind the scenes. Given the system's design, survivors know the system cannot be trusted to validate their suffering, give them answers or even a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Nor can it be trusted to keep them or others safe.
    In fact, many victims find that incarceration actually makes them feel less safe. They worry that others will be angry with them for reporting the crime and retaliate, or fear what will happen when the person eventually returns home. Many believe, for good reason, that incarceration will likely make the person worse, not better — a frightening prospect when they're likely to encounter the person again when they're back in the neighborhood.

    As one woman whose 14-year-old son had been badly beaten and robbed explained to Ms. Sered, "When I first found out about this, I wanted the young man to drown to death. And then I wanted him to burn to death. And then I realized as a mother that I don't want either of those things. I want him to drown in a river of fire." But when she reflected on the fact that the young man who harmed her son would eventually return home from prison and cross paths with her children again, she said, "I have to ask myself: When that day comes, do I want that young man to have been upstate or do I want him to have been with y'all?"

    People gathered in Garfield Park and other Chicago neighborhoods in May 2016, as a plea against violence.CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times

    The restorative circle, a meeting during which responsible parties sit with those they have harmed (or surrogates who take their place), a trained facilitator, and people who support both parties, is central to the process. It offers those affected by a crime with the power and opportunity to ask questions, as well as describe their needs and the ways they've been harmed. Ultimately, the parties strive to reach agreement about what the responsible party can do to make things as right as possible. The circle can be transformative for both survivors and those who've caused harm. In Ms. Sered's experience, survivors not only want answers to factual questions, they want acknowledgment of their suffering and the moral wrongs. They want to be able to say: "How dare you? My brother was killed the year before you stabbed me. Can you imagine how it felt to my mother to get the call from the hospital that I was unconscious in the E.R. and had been stabbed?" Sered explains. 
    Witnessing the pain and anguish of survivors, and taking full responsibility for what they've done by committing to specific actions to repair themselves and others, has a far greater impact on those who've committed harm than we might imagine. One young man, who had been a gang member since he was 8 years old, could not leave the building after participating in a restorative circle with Common Justice because he was shaking so badly after admitting the harm he had done. He asked staff members, "Can I stay in your office for a few minutes before I leave?" When asked to explain, he said, "You know, for all I've done and all that's been done to me, I don't know if I've ever heard a real apology before. Do you think I did all right? Pardon my language, that is the scariest shit I ever did."
    A growing body of research strongly supports the anecdotal evidence that restorative justice programs increase the odds of safety, reduce recidivism and alleviate trauma. "Until We Reckon" cites studies showing that survivors report 80 to 90 percent rates of satisfaction with restorative processes, as compared to 30 percent for traditional court systems. 
    Common Justice's success rate is high: Only 7 percent of responsible parties have been terminated from the program for a new crime. And it's not alone in successfully applying restorative justice principles. Numerous organizations — such as Community Justice for Youth Institute and Project NIA in Chicago; the Insight Prison Project in San Quentin; the Community Conferencing Center in Baltimore; and Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth — are doing so in communities, schools, and criminal justice settings from coast-to-coast. 
    In 2016, the Alliance for Safety and Justice conducted the first national poll of crime survivors and the results are consistent with the emerging trend toward restorative justice. The majority said they "believe that time in prison makes people more likely to commit another crime rather than less likely." Sixty-nine percent preferred holding people accountable through options beyond prison, such as mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation, community supervision and public service. Survivors' support for alternatives to incarceration was even higher than among the general public.
    Survivors are right to question incarceration as a strategy for violence reduction. Violence is driven by shame, exposure to violence, isolation and an inability to meet one's economic needs — all of which are core features of imprisonment. Perhaps most importantly, according to Ms. Sered, "Nearly everyone who has committed violence first survived it," and studies indicate that experiencing violence is the greater predictor of committing it. Caging and isolating a person who's already been damaged by violence is hardly a recipe for positive transformation.

    That said, Ms. Sered makes clear that she doesn't believe that having been a victim of crime excuses acts of violence in any way: "When we hurt someone, we incur an obligation. Period." In fact, it seems her greatest complaint about our system of mass incarceration is that it fails to take accountability seriously. Our criminal injustice system lets people off the hook, as they aren't obligated to answer the victims' questions, listen to them, honor their pain, express genuine remorse, or do what they can to repair the harm they've done. They're not required to take steps to heal themselves or address their own trauma, so they're less likely to harm others in the future. The only thing prison requires is that people stay in their cages and somehow endure the isolation and violence of captivity. Prison deprives everyone concerned — victims and those who have caused harm, as well as impacted families and communities — the opportunity to heal, honor their own humanity, and to break cycles of violence that have destroyed far too many lives.
    Ms. Sered acknowledges that we, as a society, are not yet prepared to apply restorative and transformative justice principles to all crimes of violence. Some people do need to be separated in order to keep others safe. But if we invest our resources in the healing, restoration and rebuilding of relationships and communities — and stop pretending that caging people on a massive scale makes our communities safer — we just might discover that we are capable of reckoning with one another.

    4) Bigger, Saltier, Heavier: Fast Food Since 1986 in 3 Simple Charts
    Adding lighter fare like salads to the usual burgers and fries has meant more options for time-pressed diners. But the meals are largely less healthy now, a new study finds.
    "Carl's Jr. recently added a plant-based burger, the Beyond Famous Star, to its lineup. Ordered with cheese, it has more than 700 calories."
    By Tiffany Hsu, March 3, 2019

    "The big picture is that there have been some positive changes," one researcher said of fast food menus, "but they're small, and over all, the changes have gotten worse."CreditCreditGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Fast food chains have tried for years to woo health-conscious diners by mixing lighter fare like salads and yogurt with the usual burgers, fried chicken and shakes. 
    But as menus swelled over the past three decades with grilled chicken wraps (McDonald's) and "fresco" burritos (Taco Bell), many options grew in size and the calories and sodium in them surged, according to new study from researchers at Boston University and Tufts.
    The researchers studied 1,787 entrees, sides and desserts at 10 chains — Arby's, Burger King, Carl's Jr., Dairy Queen, Hardee's, Jack in the Box, KFC, Long John Silver's, McDonald's and Wendy's — from 1986 to 2016. In that time, the number of items in those three categories rose 226 percent.

    According to the study — published last week in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics — even with lighter items in the mix, fast food menus are less healthy than they were 30 years ago.

    Entrees: Bulging portions at the heart of the meal

    The fat and salt content and the sheer size of fast food meals have long been a public health concern. They are often blamed for pushing up the obesity rate among adults in the United States, which rose to 40 percent in 2016 from 13 percent in the early 1960s.
    The new study suggests the problem is getting worse. 
    Across the 10 chains, the researchers found, the average entree weighed 39 grams more in 2016 than in 1986 and had 90 more calories. It also had 41.6 percent of the recommended daily allotment of sodium, up from 27.8 percent.
    Customers could be forgiven for not knowing. Local governments have adopted menu-labeling initiatives that require fast food restaurants to list calorie counts for the items they sell, but such measures have faced substantial opposition, including from the Food and Drug Administration.
    "The restaurants really haven't done enough," Megan A. McCrory, the lead researcher, said. "The big picture is that there have been some positive changes, but they're small, and over all, the changes have gotten worse."
    Desserts: More than just a little something sweet
    In 2016, the average fast food dessert weighed an extra 71 grams and had 186 more calories than the average dessert 30 years earlier, the researchers found.

    One possible reason is that restaurants are counting on bigger sundaes and cookies as a way of increasing the amount spent on each order and attracting more customers, said Darren Seifer, a food and beverage industry analyst at NPD.
    "The majority of fast food traffic is around lunchtime, when people aren't typically getting dessert," he said. "But offering larger portion sizes is one way restaurants can promise more value." 
    Just last month, McDonald's introduced "donut sticks" dusted with cinnamon sugar. Six sticks have 280 calories. But you can also order a serving twice the size for less than the cost of two single orders.
    Sides: Adding those extras adds up

    The researchers found that there were 42 more calories on average in items like chips, soups and French fries in 2016 than there were in 1986. Sodium content rose to 23.2 percent of the recommended daily allotment from 11.6 percent, even though portion size did not grow substantially. 
    Consumed together as a single meal, the study found, the average entree and side account for nearly 40 percent of a 2,000-calorie daily diet.
    The study mentions several proposals meant to help consumers scale back their fast food intake, including a system that would let them order smaller portions at lower prices. 
    Whether the industry will embrace such ideas is unclear. In the meantime, menus continue to grow, sometimes blurring the line between entree and side. Jack in the Box is testing Burger Dippers, which the company describes as "the burger you eat like a fry."

    As with those that preceded them, some of the new offerings appear to be geared toward people who want to eat healthy foods. Carl's Jr. recently added a plant-based burger, the Beyond Famous Star, to its lineup. 
    Ordered with cheese, it has more than 700 calories.
    Sources: Megan A. McCrory, Allen G. Harbaugh, Sarah Appeadu, Boston University; Susan B. Roberts, Tufts University.


    5) Financial Imperialism: the Case of Venezuela
    By Jack Rasmus, March 5, 3019

    Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

    Invasion of Venezuela by US and its proxies is just around the corner! This past week vice-president Pence flew to Colombia once again—for the fifth time in recent weeks—to provide final instructions to US local forces and proxy allies there for the next step in the US regime change plan.
    Evidence that the 'green light' for regime change and invasion is now flashing are supportive public statement by former president, Barack Obama, and several high level US Democratic party politicians and candidates, directly attacking the Maduro regime.  They are signaling Democrat Party support for invasion and regime change. Events will now accelerate—just in time perhaps to coincide with the release of Mueller Report on Trump.
    Behind the scenes it is clear, as it has been for months, that US Neocons are once again back in charge of US foreign policy, driving the US toward yet another war and attempt at regime change of a foreign government.
    US Strategy in Brief
    The US Neocon-led strategy is increasingly clear: establish a 'beach-head' on the Colombian-Venezuelan (and Venezuelan-Brazilian) border under the guise of providing humanitarian aid. Use the aid to get Venezuelans on the border to welcome the US proxy forces to cross over. Set up political and military structures thereafter just inside the Venezuelan borders with Colombia and Brazil, from which to launch further similar efforts deeper into Venezuela.  Repeat this province by province, step by step, penetrating Venezuela space until enough local units of the Venezuelan military change sides and convince one or more of the Venezuelan military hierarchy to join them. Establish a dual state and government within and along the border of the Venezuelan state this way. A breakaway State and dual power within the country. Make it appear, by manipulating the media, that the Venezuelan people are rising up against the Maduro government, when in fact it is US proxy forces invading and using opportunist local politicians, military, and others in the 'conquered' zones, as the media covers for their invasion.
    The main ideological justification being used for the invasion and regime change is that the Maduro government has grossly mismanaged the Venezuelan economy and driven its people into poverty. With Democrats now joining Trump and Republicans in support of invasion, the liberal mainstream US media, as well as the rightwing alternative media, are both pushing the same line, to blunt US opposition to invasion and yet another war before the final military assault is launched.  Somehow the democratic elections less than a year ago, which returned the Maduro government to power, did not represent the 'will of the people'.  Explanations how they did not are thin and unconvincing, moreover. Nor is any explanation given how US policies and actions have played the central role in destroying Venezuela's currency and economy. And the financial measures used to destabilize the economy are especially opaque.
    Financial Imperialism: The Case of Venezuela
    Venezuela today is a classic case how US imperialism in the 21st century employs financial measures to crush a state and country that dares to break away from the US global economic empire and pursue an independent course outside the US empire's web of entangling economic and financial relations.
    Here's how US 'financial imperialism' has worked, and continues to work, with the intent of assisting regime change in the case of Venezuela.
    In a world where US Capitalism is the dominant hegemon the US currency—the dollar—is the centerpiece of the US global economic empire. The dollar serves as the global trading currency as well as the global banking reserves currency. More than 85% of all global trade (export and import) is done in dollars. Certain commodities, like global oil and oil futures contracts, are traded virtually only in dollars.  Recently more countries have begun to peg their own currency to the dollar, allowing it to move in tandem with the dollar. Some have even eliminated their currency altogether and now use only the US dollar as their domestic currency. Increasingly as well, more countries are issuing their domestic bonds in dollars (i.e. dollar denominated bonds).  And their central banks follow the US central bank, the Federal Reserve's, policy as it raises or lowers US interest rates that in turn cause the US dollar to rise and fall. They do so even if rising US interest rates mean rising rates in their own economies that precipitate recessions and mass unemployment. These are all examples of the growing financial integration with the US Imperial State and economy.
    But even those economies that maintain their own currency are at the mercy of the US dollar. Since the dollar is the global trading and reserves currency, whenever the dollar rises in value due to US monetary policy changes, or US inflationary pressures, or just changes in supply or demand for the dollar, the currencies of other countries fall in value.  As the dollar rises in value, other currencies fall. That's how global exchange rates work in the 21st century global US empire where the dollar is the trading-reserves currency. Other currencies—the British pound, Euro, and even less so the Japanese Yen or China Yuan—are still largely insignificant as reserves or trading currencies. And it appears very unlikely they will soon replace the dollar—one of the key pillars of the US empire.
    The US has the power to engineer a collapse in a country's currency. A collapse in its currency means the price of imported goods rises rapidly, especially those goods it can only be obtained by imports—i.e. medicines, critical food commodities, intermediate business goods necessary for domestic manufacturing, etc.  Accelerating import inflation in turn leads to domestic businesses cutting back production due to lack of affordable resources, commodities, or parts. Mass layoffs follow production cutbacks. Rising inflation brought on by currency collapse is thus accompanied by rising unemployment. Wage income and consumption in turn collapse and thereafter the economy in general.
    Widespread shortages of key imports, inflation, and domestic production decline and unemployment brought on by the shortages and inflation simultaneously lead to social discontent and loss of support for the government.  Opposition groups and parties proclaim these problems are due to the mismanagement of the economy by the government, or corruption by its leaders, or just socialist policies in general. But in fact the economic crisis—i.e. shortages, inflation, production, unemployment—is traceable directly to the root cause of the collapse of the currency engineered by US imperialist policies intent on crashing the economy as a prelude to regime change and economic reintegration to the US global economic empire.
    There are many ways the US can, and does, cause a collapse of a country's currency. One set of measures are designed to cause a severe shortage of dollars in the target country's economy.
    A shortage of dollars drives up the value of the US dollar in the target economy which, in turn, drives down the value of the country's own currency.  The US has been engineering a collapse of Venezuela's currency, the Bolivar, now for years—first by causing dollars in Venezuela to flow out of the country and, secondly, by measures preventing Venezuela from obtaining dollars from abroad.
    US policy over the last several years at least has been to force US companies doing business in Venezuela to repatriate their dollars back to the US or else divert them elsewhere globally among subsidiaries. Or just to leave Venezuela and take their dollars with them. US policy has also been to publicize and promote wealthier Venezuelans with dollars to take them out of the country and invest them in Colombia, where the US has arranged an online investment firm with the assistance of its Colombian government ally. Rich Venezuelans have been encouraged as well to send their money to Miami banks. And to move there in large numbers, which they have, taking their dollars with them or dumping their Bolivars in exchange for dollars. The outflow of dollars from Venezuela has raised the value of dollars that remain in Venezuela on the black market there, thereby helping to depress the value of the Bolivar in Venezuela even further.
    These measures pale, however, to US imperial efforts to prevent Venezuela from obtaining dollars in global markets in an effort to try to offset the outflow of dollars from the economy.
    For example, the US has taken action to prevent US and global banks from lending dollars to Venezuela, or from participating in underwriting and insuring Venezuelan bond issues which would also raise dollars for Venezuela if allowed. Bank loans and bond funding thus dry up, depriving the government of alternative sources of dollars.  More dollar shortage; more Bolivar domestic currency collapse—i.e. more expensive imports, more inflation, more shortages, declining production, rising unemployment….more discontent.
    The main effort by which the US is attempting to deprive Venezuela of dollars is to impose sanctions on other countries that try to buy Venezuelan oil.  Oil sales are the number one source of the country's dollar acquisitions, since all oil trade is done in dollars and Venezuela depends on 95% of all its government revenues from selling its oil. The US imposes sanctions on would be buyers and thus cuts off access to dollars, as it simultaneously through other policies works to encourage dollar flight out of Venezuela and cut off bank loans and bond issuance by the country. And if the prior bonds and loans were 'dollar denominated', then the lack of dollars to pay the interest and principal coming due leads directly to defaults and in turn to business collapse and even more unemployment.
    Venezuela has turned to selling its oil to China and Russia and a few other countries. It has been forced to resort to paying its interest and principal on past loans from these governments with shipments of oil instead of payments in dollars.  As the US turns to sanctions as an economic 'weapon' to enforce its will on other countries, which it has been doing in recent years, more countries are become aware of the tactic and are taking countermeasures. They are dumping dollars (or reducing their purchases of dollars in world markets) and buying gold. China and Russia are leading this way, while experimenting with non-currency dependent trade.
    Another recent move by the US to deny Venezuela dollars and collapse its currency has been to seize the Venezuelan oil distribution company, CITGO in the US. Its remittances back to Venezuela have been in dollars. By seizing CITGO, the US deprives the country of yet another source of dollars, with which Venezuela might otherwise have been able to purchase imports of food, medicines, and other economically critical goods. So Venezuelans in this case are clearly forced to forego these critical imports due to US policy—not due to economic mismanagement by its government. Moreover, adding insult to injury, the dollar funds from CITGO seized by the US are being delivered to the Venezuelan government's opponents and its hand-picked ally of the US, Guido. The opposition now gets to finance its counter-revolution with the money formerly remitted to Venezuela. The counter-revolution is financed at the expense of critical goods and services that otherwise might have been made available to the Venezuelan people.
    Seizure of the CITGO asset is not the only such example of dollar deprivation. Other assets in the form of inventories, investments, cash in US banks, etc. are also being impounded. And not just from the Venezuelan government.  Individual Venezuelan companies and individual citizens have been having their assets in the US impounded as well. And the US is increasing its pressure on foreign governments to impound and seize assets as well—of the government, businesses, and citizens.
    The impoundment and seizure has recently been extended as well to Venezuelan gold stocks held offshore in other countries, in direct violation of international law. Recently the US company and mega bank, Citigroup, has been forced to withhold Venezuelan gold in violation of its contracts with the country. The Bank of England has also been asked, and is complying, with the US demand to freeze Venezuelan gold deposited in the UK. And countries like Abu Dhabi, where gold is traded globally, have been asked to stop trading in Venezuelan gold.  Gold is a substitute money for the US dollar. So preventing gold access to Venezuela is like preventing dollar access as well. With its gold, Venezuela could more easily buy dollars, or trade for goods directly, than with using Bolivars that are falling in value and sellers are less likely to take as payment.
    Countries with economies whose currency is seriously declining in value are able to get a loan to stabilize its currency from the International Monetary Fund, the IMF.  Recent examples are Argentina, Turkey, South Africa, and even Pakistan. But the IMF is an institution set up by the US in 1944. The US maintains with its close European allies a majority vote on IMF decisions. The IMF does nothing the US does not approve. Its mission is to lend to countries in need of stabilizing their currencies.  The IMF, however, as an appendage of the US global empire, has refused to lend Venezuela anything to help stabilize its currency.
    This is in contrast, for example, to the record loan of more than $50 billion recently provided to Argentina once that country put in its current business and US-friendly Macri government. (The record IMF loan, by the way, was so that Argentina could pay off debts owed to US and other speculators in the early 2000s. So Argentina saw little of that $50b. What the payoff did enable, however, was for Macri and other Argentinian bankers to go to New York to get new loans from US banks once it repaid the speculators, from which Macri and friends no doubt personally benefitted immensely).
    As the Venezuelan currency collapses due to US arranged dollar shortages, Venezuela must print even more Bolivars to enable it to purchase what goods from abroad it might still be able to buy.  A collapsed currency means the price of imported goods rises proportionately.  So more Bolivars are needed to buy the goods that are continually rising in price. Printing more Bolivars adds to the supply of Bolivars in the economy which raises domestic price inflation even further.  But the excess printing is in response to the currency collapse which is engineered by the dollar shortage and the falling exchange rate in the first place. The over supply of Bolivars is not due to mismanagement; it is due to the shortage of dollars and the desperate effort by the Venezuelan government to somehow pay for inflating import goods.
    The falling price of crude oil in 2017-18 added further pressure on the Bolivar.  The collapse of oil prices globally appears unrelated to US policy. But it wasn't. The oil Venezuela has been able to continue to sell, mostly to China or Russia, declined by 40% in price in 2018. The global oil deflation of 2018 thus generated less oil revenue for the country and thus fewer dollars.
    But that too was due indirectly to US policy and economic conditions.  The collapsing price of oil in 2018 is directly attributed to US shale oil producers raising their output by more than a million barrels a day, which increased the world oil supply and depressed world oil prices. The US then attempted to manipulate world oil output with Saudi Arabia but that exacerbated the over-production and deflation problem still further. Here's how: The US attempted to impose sanctions on Iranian oil in 2018. Saudi Arabia believed it would capture the customers that Iran would lose, and therefore it, Saudi Arabia, also raised its output of crude as US shale producers raised theirs. But Iran was able to continue to sell its oil, as US sanctions broke down. The result of the US shale overproduction plus Saudi overproduction was a 40% collapse in world oil prices in 2018 that further deprived Venezuela of much needed government revenue—apart from US sanctions on Venezuela oil sales.
    US monetary policy in 2018 further exacerbated the currency crisis in Venezuela—as it did elsewhere in Latin America and emerging markets in general. In 2017-18 the US central bank launched a policy of raising interest rates. Since other world central banks respond to the US central bank, world rates began to rise as well.  Rising US interest rates caused a rise in the US dollar, and as the dollar rose in 2017-18 emerging market currencies fell. They fell for Venezuela in part due to this effect, as well as due to other causes mentioned.
    Falling currencies precipitate what is called 'capital flight' out of the country. Less money capital means less available for investment and thus lower production output and more unemployment. So currency collapse precipitates not only inflation but recession as well. To prevent the capital fight, emerging market economies raise their own domestic interest rates. This led to recession, for example, throughout Latin America in 2017-18.  Capital flight out of Venezuela has been significant since 2016, as wealthy Venezuelans sent more of their dollars out of the country to Miami, thus exacerbating dollar shortages in Venezuela and further driving down the value of the Bolivar left behind.
    US sanctions on other countries, banks, and companies offshore are designed not only to prevent Venezuela access to dollars and money capital offshore. Sanctions also target real goods trade, like oil and other key commodities.  But there's another means by which the US shuts down the flow of real goods into and from a country, causing shortages of critical goods. It's the US controlled international payments exchange system, called SWIFT. This is where US banks arrange the exchange and transfer of payments for goods and services by converting from one currency to the other and transferring the funds from one bank to another across countries.  The US has been preventing Venezuela from normally using the SWIFT system. So even if another country is willing to buy Venezuela goods, including oil, and exchange Bolivars for its own currency, it is prevented from doing so by the US bank-controlled SWIFT system.
    Summing Up
    Financial imperialism has been waged against Venezuela for decades, but the attack on Venezuela employing financial measures has recently intensified as the US neocons and imperialists have accelerated their plans to launch a more direct attack by political means, including military, to force regime change in Venezuela. At the center of the on-going, and now intensifying, financial warfare against the country by the US are measures designed to destroy Venezuela's currency. Imperialism is often thought of as military conquest and colonialism. That's 19th century British and European imperialism. But the American Empire in the 21st century does not need colonialism. It has a more efficient system for forcing the integration of other economies and for extracting value and wealth from the rest of the world.  The US empire is increasingly knitted together in the 21st century by a deep web of financial relationships that afford it multiple levers of economic power it can pull if and when it desires.  And when those economic and financial levers prove insufficient to overthrow  domestic forces and governments that remain intent on pursuing a more independent path outside the Empire's economic and political relations, then the breakaway State is attacked more directly once the economy is sufficiently wrecked. Such is the case of Venezuela today. Financial imperialism has paved the way for more direct political and military action.
    Jack Rasmus is author of the recently published book, 'Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression', Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and his twitter handle is @drjackrasmus. His website is http://kyklosproductions.com.

    6) H.I.V. Is Reported Cured in a Second Patient, a Milestone in the Global AIDS Epidemic
    Scientists have long tried to duplicate the procedure that led to the first long-term remission 12 years ago. With the so-called London patient, they seem to have succeeded.
    By Apoorva Mandavilli, March 4, 2019

    A colored transmission electron micrograph of the H.I.V. virus, in green, attaching to a white blood cell, in orange.CreditCreditNIBSC/Science Source

    For just the second time since the global epidemic began, a patient appears to have been cured of infection with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.
    The news comes nearly 12 years to the day after the first patient known to be cured, a feat that researchers have long tried, and failed, to duplicate. The surprise success now confirms that a cure for H.I.V. infection is possible, if difficult, researchers said.
    The investigators are to publish their report on Tuesday in the journal Nature and to present some of the details at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle. 

    Publicly, the scientists are describing the case as a long-term remission. In interviews, most experts are calling it a cure, with the caveat that it is hard to know how to define the word when there are only two known instances.

    Both milestones resulted from bone-marrow transplants given to infected patients. But the transplants were intended to treat cancer in the patients, not H.I.V.
    Bone-marrow transplantation is unlikely to be a realistic treatment option in the near future. Powerful drugs are now available to control H.I.V. infection, while the transplants are risky, with harsh side effects that can last for years. 
    But rearming the body with immune cells similarly modified to resist H.I.V. might well succeed as a practical treatment, experts said. 
    "This will inspire people that cure is not a dream," said Dr. Annemarie Wensing, a virologist at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. "It's reachable."
    Dr. Wensing is co-leader of IciStem, a consortium of European scientists studying stem cell transplants to treat H.I.V. infection. The consortium is supported by AMFAR, the American AIDS research organization.

    The new patient has chosen to remain anonymous, and the scientists referred to him only as the "London patient."
    "I feel a sense of responsibility to help the doctors understand how it happened so they can develop the science," he told The New York Times in an email. 
    Learning that he could be cured of both cancer and H.I.V. infection was "surreal" and "overwhelming," he added. "I never thought that there would be a cure during my lifetime."
    At the same conference in 2007, a German doctor described the first such cure in the "Berlin patient," later identified as Timothy Ray Brown, 52, who now lives in Palm Springs, Calif.
    That news, displayed on a poster at the back of a conference room, initially gained little attention. Once it became clear that Mr. Brown was cured, scientists set out to duplicate his result with other cancer patients infected with H.I.V.
    In case after case, the virus came roaring back, often around nine months after the patients stopped taking antiretroviral drugs, or else the patients died of cancer. The failures left scientists wondering whether Mr. Brown's cure would remain a fluke.
    Mr. Brown had had leukemia, and after chemotherapy failed to stop it, needed two bone-marrow transplants.

    The transplants were from a donor with a mutation in a protein called CCR5, which rests on the surface of certain immune cells. H.I.V. uses the protein to enter those cells but cannot latch on to the mutated version. 
    Mr. Brown was given harsh immunosuppressive drugs of a kind that are no longer used, and suffered intense complications for months after the transplant. He was placed in an induced coma at one point and nearly died.

    "He was really beaten up by the whole procedure," said Dr. Steven Deeks, an AIDS expert at the University of California, San Francisco, who has treated Mr. Brown. "And so we've always wondered whether all that conditioning, a massive amount of destruction to his immune system, explained why Timothy was cured but no one else."
    The London patient has answered that question: A near-death experience is not required for the procedure to work.
    He had Hodgkin's lymphoma and received a bone-marrow transplant from a donor with the CCR5 mutation in May 2016. He, too, received immunosuppressive drugs, but the treatment was much less intense, in line with current standards for transplant patients.
    He quit taking anti-H.I.V. drugs in September 2017, making him the first patient since Mr. Brown known to remain virus-free for more than a year after stopping.
    "I think this does change the game a little bit," said Dr. Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at University College London who presented the findings at the Seattle meeting. "Everybody believed after the Berlin patient that you needed to nearly die basically to cure H.I.V., but now maybe you don't."

    Although the London patient was not as ill as Mr. Brown had been after the transplant, the procedure worked about as well: The transplant destroyed the cancer without harmful side effects. The transplanted immune cells, now resistant to H.I.V., seem to have fully replaced his vulnerable cells.
    Most people with the H.I.V.-resistant mutation, called delta 32, are of Northern European descent. IciStem maintains a database of about 22,000 such donors.
    So far, its scientists are tracking 38 H.I.V.-infected people who have received bone-marrow transplants, including six from donors without the mutation.
    The London patient is 36 on this list. Another one, number 19 on the list and referred to as the "Düsseldorf patient," has been off anti-H.I.V. drugs for four months. Details of that case will be presented at the Seattle conference later this week.
    The consortium's scientists have repeatedly analyzed the London patient's blood for signs of the virus. They saw a weak indication of continued infection in one of 24 tests, but say this may be the result of contamination in the sample. 
    The most sensitive test did not find any circulating virus. Antibodies to H.I.V. were still present in his blood, but their levels declined over time, in a trajectory similar to that seen in Mr. Brown.
    None of this guarantees that the London patient is forever out of the woods, but the similarities to Mr. Brown's recovery offer reason for optimism, Dr. Gupta said.

    "In a way, the only person to compare with directly is the Berlin patient," he said. "That's kind of the only standard we have at the moment."

    Most experts who know the details agree that the new case seems like a legitimate cure, but some are uncertain of its relevance for AIDS treatment overall.
    "I'm not sure what this tells us," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "It was done with Timothy Ray Brown, and now here's another case — ok, so now what? Now where do we go with it?"
    One possibility, said Dr. Deeks and others, is to develop gene-therapy approaches to knock out CCR5 on immune cells or their predecessor stem cells. Resistant to H.I.V. infection, these modified cells should eventually clear the body of the virus.
    (CCR5 is the protein that He Jiankui, a scientist in China, claimed to have modified with gene editing in at least two children, in an attempt to make them resistant to H.I.V. — an experiment that set off international condemnation.)
    Several companies are pursuing gene therapies but have not yet been successful. The modification must target the right number of cells, in the right place — only the bone marrow, for example, and not the brain— and tweak only the genes directing production of CCR5.
    "There are a number of levels of precision that must be reached," said Dr. Mike McCune, a senior adviser on global health to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "There are also concerns that you might do something untoward, and if so you might wish to have a kill switch."

    Several teams are working on all of these obstacles, Dr. McCune said. Eventually, they may be able to develop a viral delivery system that, when injected into the body, seeks out all CCR5 receptors and deletes them, or even a donor stem cell that is resistant to H.I.V. but could be given to any patient. 
    "These are dreams, right? Things on the drawing table," Dr. McCune said. "These dreams are motivated by cases like this — it helps us to imagine what might be done in the future."
    One important caveat to any such approach is that the patient would still be vulnerable to a form of H.I.V. called X4, which employs a different protein, CXCR4, to enter cells.
    "This is only going to work if someone has a virus that really only uses CCR5 for entry — and that's actually probably about 50 percent of the people who are living with H.I.V., if not less," said Dr. Timothy J. Henrich, an AIDS specialist at the University of California, San Francisco.
    Even if a person harbors only a small number of X4 viruses, they may multiply in the absence of competition from their viral cousins. There is at least one reported case of an individual who got a transplant from a delta 32 donor but later rebounded with the X4 virus. (As a precaution against X4, Mr. Brown is taking a daily pill to prevent H.I.V. infection.)
    Mr. Brown says he is hopeful that the London patient's cure proves as durable as his own. "If something has happened once in medical science, it can happen again," Mr. Brown said. "I've been waiting for company for a long time."


    7) Border Patrol Facilities Put Detainees With Medical Conditions at Risk
    By Sheri Fink and Caitlin Dickerson, March 5, 2019

    Migrants from Honduras were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents near Granjeno, Tex., last month.CreditCreditTamir Kalifa for The New York Times

    McALLEN, Tex. — It was nearly 9 p.m., hours after the makeshift clinic for newly arrived migrants near the Mexican border in Texas was supposed to close, but the patients would not stop coming: A feverish teenager with a vile-smelling wound on his foot. A man with a head injury and bright red eyes. Children with fevers, coughs and colds.
    Earlier in the day, a little girl named Nancy had been brought into the clinic with a cough and shaking chills. She had been vomiting, she said, and her spine hurt. An assistant took her temperature. "She's got 104, almost 105," she said.

    The steady flow of migrants who arrived that night at the volunteer respite center operated by Catholic Charities here in the Rio Grande Valley had just been released by Customs and Border Protection after being apprehended near the border. The new arrivals had been in federal custody for up to 72 hours, but most had received no real medical attention — the volunteer physicians at the private clinic were the first doctors many had seen since crossing the border.

    "He may lose that leg," Dr. Martin Garza, a local pediatrician who works at the clinic every other weekend, warned the father of the teenager with the foot wound, handing him a course of antibiotics to take with him. "I cleaned it up as much as I could."

    An average of 2,200 migrants a day are now crossing the nation's 1,900-mile border with Mexico, many after grueling journeys that leave them injured, sick or badly dehydrated. Yet most of the nation's Customs and Border Protection facilities along the border lack sufficient accommodations, staffing or procedures to thoroughly assess health needs or provide more than basic emergency care, a situation that has led to dangerous medical oversights.
    [Read the latest edition of Crossing the Border, a limited-run newsletter about life where the United States and Mexico meet. Sign up here to receive the next issue in your inbox.]
    Six adults died in C.B.P. custody in the fiscal year ending in October, at least three of whom had a medical emergency shortly after being apprehended. Another, who had serious chronic diseases and was hospitalized, died from health complications last month. In December, two migrant children — Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, and Felipe Gómez Alonzo, 8 — died within three weeks of each other after showing signs of illness while being held and transported by Border Patrol agents in Texas and New Mexico.
    A New York Times review of records and dozens of interviews with migrants, agents, researchers and health workers suggest that some of these deaths were not anomalies, but rather signs of entrenched problems that have repeatedly put detainees with medical conditions at risk.
    At respite centers like the one in McAllen, Tex., that shelter migrants for a night or two after they are released from Border Patrol custody, doctors say the care provided by the agency has sometimes been so poor that they have had to send new arrivals straight to emergency rooms.

    "They're not treated as if their health and well-being is valued on any level," said Dr. Anna Landau, a family medicine doctor who volunteers at a migrant shelter run by Catholic Community Services in Tucson. "How do you send people who are clearly hurting, clearly in pain and suffering, how do you just move them through as if they're just another number, as opposed to an actual human being?"
    Migrants crossing the border from Mexico may be injured scaling barriers, in vehicle accidents, by gunfire or from nearly drowning. They may be suffering from dehydration, heat exhaustion or communicable illnesses — from influenza to chickenpox — that often spread in conditions of close confinement, though none so far have presented what health officials regard as an unusual or alarming public health or infectious disease threat. Some require medications for chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. Yet Border Patrol facilities until now have failed to provide comprehensive health screenings for those in their care. Medications — including lifesaving prescriptions for such conditions as asthma, heart disease and infant diarrhea — are routinely confiscated. Some migrants describe being left alone in concrete cells with broken bones and recent surgeries, their pain medication deeply inadequate.

    In the coming days, the agency is expected to announce significant changes related to the health of migrants, including policies requiring Border Patrol agents to conduct more thorough interviews of each migrant who is processed through the system, and to refer all those who need care to a medical provider.
    The agency is also building a large new processing center in El Paso and adding $47 million to a private contract for migrant medical care.
    "We're doing everything we can to ensure rapid medical care when needed," Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security secretary, said at the White House in January. "The men and women of C.B.P. and ICE are doing the best they can with what they have, but they don't have the facilities, the resources or the legal authorities to keep up with this crisis."
    Representative Raul Ruiz, a Democrat from California who is also a physician, helped secure funding for additional measures to improve migrant health after visiting border facilities where he said he saw children coughing and sneezing and infants without diapers, all packed tightly into cells with little in the way of food, soap and other basics. The Border Patrol stations and those working there were "unprepared, untrained and underequipped in dealing with the humanitarian needs of families," he said.
    The moves come after years of warnings from both inside and outside government that were largely ignored by an agency that saw its primary mission as law enforcement — catching and deporting illegal border crossers, not nursing them back to health.

    "Border Patrol is a law enforcement agency. It's not a humanitarian agency," said Dr. Alexander L. Eastman, a senior medical officer with the Homeland Security Department who is trying to put into place, for the first time, a comprehensive approach to the care of migrants across the department.
    Some health care workers said they have seen Border Patrol agents in the field prioritize enforcement of immigration laws over migrants' urgent medical needs. Ambulance crews near the border say they sometimes face delays at Border Patrol checkpoints.
    In one case around five years ago, described to The Times by two people who worked for an emergency medical response team in Starr County, Tex., a critically ill woman was driven across the bridge from Mexico into Rio Grande City and loaded into an ambulance from a nearby hospital. A paramedic, Sergio Garza Jr., began to help her with her breathing. But a C.B.P. employee, he said, opened the back doors of the vehicle and ordered the patient sent back, because she did not have papers to enter the United States.

    Mr. Garza and the director of his ambulance company protested, to no avail. Mr. Garza grudgingly transferred the patient back to a Mexican ambulance, which did not have trained personnel aboard, both he and the director recalled. Mr. Garza said he showed the patient's husband how to squeeze an oxygen bag to try to keep his wife alive as she was driven toward a distant Mexican hospital. She died on the way there, the emergency workers said.
    For at least a decade, families and advocacy organizations have reported lapses in medical care for people in the custody of C.B.P. Complaints filed over the past few years included a mother who gave birth prematurely and was later forced to stay with the baby in a "dirty hold room," a detainee who was refused access to prescribed heart medication, and a woman who had heavy vaginal bleeding after a sexual assault and was not provided any medical attention.
    The number of deaths remains unknown and is perhaps unknowable — the agency until December was not required to independently review or publicly report health-related deaths in its custody. And the consequences of failing to address urgent medical needs often emerge after detainees are quickly passed on to another agency, or released.
    In 2015, C.B.P. addressed some of the criticisms by establishing its first nationwide standards on transport and detention. However, the standards are nonbinding — the agency cannot be sued for not following them — and the subject of medical care in detention covers less than a page.

    Detention by Customs and Border Protection is intended to be brief — 72 hours or less, according to the standards. However that guideline is often broken. Felipe Gómez Alonzo, the boy who died in December and had influenza, was in his sixth day of detention when he was taken to a hospital, according to a timeline provided by the agency.
    At the hospital, Felipe was found to have a 103-degree fever. He was discharged from the emergency room several hours later, and agents took him back to a temporary holding cell at a highway checkpoint. Hours later, as the boy grew sicker, no medically trained agents were on duty there. He was returned to the hospital, but lost consciousness on the way.
    "Children should not be held in C.B.P. holding cells longer than 24 hours," said Kathryn Hampton, a program officer for Physicians for Human Rights and the author of a recent study that found that the focus on securing the border has come at the cost of migrants' safety.
    In some cases, Border Patrol agents take sick migrants to be seen at hospitals, but problems persist once they are brought back to C.B.P.'s crowded, ill-equipped facilities.
    Sonia Diaz-Castro, 39, an asylum seeker from Honduras, had fallen off the top of a 25-foot border wall as she entered the United States last year and was left barely able to move, with a broken elbow and pelvis.
    Border Patrol agents in New Mexico took her twice to local hospitals, and a doctor at one of them said he was promised by the agents that she would be given a wheelchair and have someone on hand to help her get around. She had neither. Though she was barely able to move, she was left alone in a concrete cell. When she had to use the toilet, she was forced to drag herself across the floor using her broken arm.
    "I just felt like crying out — like the only thing I could do was cry, and when I think about it, it still makes me want to cry," Ms. Diaz-Castro said of the experience.

    On a typical afternoon in early February, Border Patrol radios in South Texas crackled with reports of "bodies," people whose unauthorized crossing of the border had been detected by ground motion sensors and cameras on poles and tethered radar blimps.
    Agents responded as about 60 people from Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador and Nicaragua, including mothers with children and some unaccompanied minors, clambered off rafts after crossing the Rio Grande. Hefting bags and babies, they climbed a muddy dirt path that cut through spiny brushlands, walking toward the agents, who awaited them at a gap in the border wall.
    René Reyes, a Border Patrol agent and emergency medical technician, eyeballed them for, he said, "anything life-threatening."
    Mr. Reyes stopped briefly to ask parents about a boy with surgical scars on his head who was wearing a mask over his nose and mouth. He had a condition that causes too much fluid to build up in the brain, but he appeared stable. "The kids look O.K.," Mr. Reyes concluded. His initial assessment of the entire group lasted less than five minutes.

    The children would get a more thorough medical check at their next stop, one of two temporary detention facilities in an industrial part of McAllen. Inside the agency's largest processing center for migrants, chain-link fencing divides a vast warehouse with concrete floors into clusters of cells separating men from women and older children from parents. The site was opened in 2014 specifically for the temporary holding of families and unaccompanied children. When that site is full, an older facility with enclosed, jail-like cells processes families several blocks away.
    That afternoon, medical screeners sent a newly arrived 6-month-old, Victoria Medina, to the hospital after noticing that she was sick with a fever, severe cough and diarrhea. Hospital workers treated the baby and sent her back to C.B.P.
    That night Victoria's mother, Mayte Medina, an 18-year-old from Honduras, lay on the bare floor of her chilly isolation cell under a thin Mylar sheet and held on tight to her coughing baby. The fever broke, but the diarrhea continued; the bottle of medicine Ms. Medina had carried with her to treat it had been in her backpack, which was confiscated when she was taken into custody. "I told everyone about it, everyone that saw her," Ms. Medina said. "They never gave her anything."

    Ms. Medina's relatively easy access to medical care was possible in part because she was apprehended in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, the most heavily trafficked way station for migrants in the United States. Last year, more than 63,200 migrants traveling as families were apprehended there.

    The Border Patrol facilities in McAllen are among the few in the country that have a small number of midlevel health professionals — nurse practitioners or physician assistants — on site. As government officials examine how they might expand medical services, those sites have been looked at as potential models.
    But even in those places, providing care in a facility where the ultimate decisions are controlled by law enforcement authorities sometimes frustrates practice and strains ethics. A former contract health care worker at the McAllen sites, who was not authorized to speak on the record by her previous employer, Loyal Source, recalled several occasions when she had alerted agents that a patient needed to go to the emergency room. Two or three hours later, she said, the patient was still there.
    Sometimes, she said, she blocked migrants with high fevers from being released to longer-term detention facilities. But she also sometimes felt intimidated, as if she would be blamed for slowing down the flow.
    She said that according to protocol, if a woman claimed that she had been raped, she had to be offered access to medical care to check for pregnancy, trauma and sexually transmitted infections. But that didn't always occur, she said.
    In recent months, large groups of children and families have crossed into the United States in remote desert areas lacking in medical infrastructure, including Antelope Wells, N.M., where one of the fatally ill children, Jakelin Caal Maquin, had arrived. A total of 15 Border Patrol stations or ports of entry that are within 100 miles of the southern border have no hospital within an hour's drive, the Times review found.
    It is a perilous twist on a problem that has existed for years, after changes in border enforcement practices pushed furtive crossings into these areas.

    Some migrants encounter agents and turn themselves in; others spend days traversing vast ranchlands in extreme heat. Hundreds die every year. Agents often have to extract sick migrants from rough terrain to meet ambulance personnel, who may have to drive for hours to reach hospitals.
    An earlier attempt to solve the problem led to the creation in 1998 of a unit trained in tactical rescues and emergency medical services that has performed thousands of medical interventions. A separate program trains regular agents as emergency medical technicians. Over all, around 6 percent of Border Patrol agents can act as emergency medical services providers. Still, the vast majority have only basic training. Their protocols and equipment are limited. And they are not present everywhere their skills are needed.

    Where local emergency rooms are close at hand, Border Patrol agents tend to err on the side of caution, taking their charges for costly and sometimes unnecessary medical evaluations, several health providers said.
    In other cases, the Border Patrol focuses on moving migrants quickly through the system, and many end up in shelters and clinics run by charities, such as the one operated by Catholic Charities in McAllen.
    On a recent evening, dozens of migrants were dropped off at a shelter near the southern border of California, run by the San Diego Rapid Response Network. They stood outside, lined up near white tents under lights powered by a roaring generator. Medical workers supported by the county screened them for communicable diseases and other conditions.

    The rotating medical team diagnosed many untreated conditions that could spread, including 362 cases of lice, 113 cases of scabies, 22 cases of possible influenza, and four cases of chickenpox in the first two months of this year. The medical professionals referred 52 people to an emergency room.
    One young man stood out that evening. He limped to the tent on crutches, in great pain. A metal fixator emerged from his lower left leg, swaddled in layers of bloodied gauze. The only medical record a nurse could find in his belongings was a single X-ray showing a severe fracture he had sustained on his journey to the United States.
    The man had undergone surgery on his leg at a nearby hospital and was returned to detention the previous night. Now he was at the shelter. "They just dropped him here," Dr. Kathy Fischer, the doctor on duty, said with a note of incredulity in her voice. "It's kind of crazy."

    Sheri Fink reported from McAllen and San Ysidro, Calif., and Caitlin Dickerson from El Paso. Susan Beachy contributed research.


    8) "Solitary" Is an Uncommonly Powerful Memoir About Four Decades in Confinement
    By Dwight Garner, March 4, 2019

    Patricia Wall/The New York Times
    Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope.
    By Albert Woodfox with Leslie George.
    433 pages. Grove Press. $26.

    Albert Woodfox grew up poor in New Orleans's Treme neighborhood. He didn't know his father. His mother, who could not read or write, sometimes prostituted herself to keep food on the table for Albert and his siblings.
    He turned to crime young. For a while his misdeeds were on the mild side, the sort of antics that Chuck Berry referred to in his autobiography as "hubcap ripping and parked-car creeping, dime-store clipping and window peeping."
    They got more serious. By the time he was in his teens, he was breaking into houses and convenience stores. He stole cars, mugged people, joined a gang and got a heroin habit. He once broke out of prison and, on his way home, appropriated a cement mixer, roaring away at 10 miles per hour. He was caught because he left his wallet on the dashboard.
    Woodfox spends the first sections of his uncommonly powerful memoir, "Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope," objectively detailing his young life of crime. This is not easy reading. What life did not give him, he was determined to take.

    "I robbed people, scared them, threatened them, intimidated them," he writes. "I stole from people who had almost nothing. My people. Black people. I broke into their homes and took possessions they worked hard for; took their wallets out of their pockets. I beat people up. I was a chauvinist pig."
    The first time he was sent to Angola — the notorious maximum-security prison farm in Louisiana, named after the plantation that once occupied its land — he got a tattoo from another inmate: Charles Neville, the musician. That was an eight-month stretch.
    In 1969, when he was 22, Woodfox was sentenced to 50 years for armed robbery. With good behavior he expected to be released in half that time.
    In various prisons he'd met members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. They gave him books to read and a historical sense of his people and his past. He learned about the racial iniquities (all-white juries and police forces, for starters) of the American justice system.
    [ Woodfox spoke to The Times after he was released from prison in 2016: "When I began to understand who I was, I considered myself free." ]

    By the time he got back to Angola, he writes, "I was a black man with a long prison sentence ahead of me. Inside, however, everything had changed. I had morals, principles and values I never had before." He adds: "I would never be a criminal again."
    But on April 17, 1972, a white prison guard named Brent Miller was killed at Angola. Woodfox and another member of the Panthers were accused of the murder, despite an utter lack of evidence. A sham trial commenced, and they were found guilty and sentenced to life in solitary.
    For a crime he did not commit, Woodfox would spend more than four decades in solitary confinement: 23 hours a day in a 6-by-9-foot cell. He recounts consistently brutal treatment by guards, rats and vermin, deadly heat and no way out of solitary for good behavior. His memoir is the story of how he survived.
    The "legacy of slavery" was everywhere at Angola, Woodfox writes. When he arrived it was segregated. White prisoners mostly worked indoors while the black prisoners worked the fields, often cutting sugar cane under the supervision of guards with shotguns.
    The prison had a rape culture. The day new inmates arrived was called "fresh fish day," and sexual predators lined up to view the goods. "If you were raped at Angola, or what was called 'turned out,' your life in prison was virtually over," he writes.
    Woodfox was tough enough to protect himself. He later began to shield other men from rape on principle, often taking beatings in the process.
    The heart of "Solitary" is Woodfox's decision to "take my pain and turn it into compassion, and not hate." He read legal books and began to win lawsuits over cruel and unusual punishment. His memoir is strewn with words from others he read while in prison — Nelson Mandela, James Baldwin, Frantz Fanon, Frederick Douglass.

    He taught men to read. He organized umpteen hunger strikes. He made a difference in many men's lives.
    "Solitary" is a profound book about friendship. Along with Robert King and Herman Wallace, Woodfox became known as part of the "Angola 3." These men were mostly kept separated from one another, but managed to remain in contact. "I didn't know how so much loyalty and devotion could exist between three men," Woodfox writes.
    Slowly, word of their decades in solitary began to leak out. This story has many heroes, men and women who worked to bring the men's story to the public and to demonstrate their innocence in the murder of the prison guard. Some of them are lawyers.
    Others are those like the late Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop, an early supporter of the Angola 3 who devoted a great deal of time and money to their cause. The prisoners were the subject of a documentary, "In the Land of the Free" (2010), and Amnesty International published a report on them in 2011.
    This story, which Woodfox has written with Leslie George, is told simply but not tersely. If it sometimes induces claustrophobia, well, it's meant to. Very often the painful details, and the author's own humanity in the face of them, start to make your chest feel too small. Only occasionally, when recounting the details of Woodfox's many appeals and retrials and attempts at retrials, does this memoir perhaps necessarily step into the weeds.
    In 2007, a Louisiana judge wrote that, by 1999, "these plaintiffs had been in extended lockdown more than anyone in Angola's history, and more than any other living prisoner in the entire United States."
    Wallace had terminal liver cancer and died in 2013, days after he was released from prison when a judge ruled that his original indictment in the killing of the guard had been unconstitutional. King was released from prison in 2001. Woodfox remained behind bars until 2016.

    "We knew that we were not locked up in a cell 23 hours a day because of what we did," he writes. "We were there because of who we were."
    Woodfox reminds us, in "Solitary," of the tens of thousands of men, women and children in solitary confinement in the United States. This is torture of a modern variety.
    If the ending of this book does not leave you with tears pooling down in your clavicles, you are a stronger person than I am. More lasting is Woodfox's conviction that the American justice system is in dire need of reform.
    He doesn't quote Dostoyevsky, but I will: "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."


    9) With a New Influx of Wealth, Is San Francisco Over?
    By Jill Cowan, March 8, 2019

    If you live here now, you might have to move soon.CreditCreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

    Good morning.
    (Here's the sign-up, if you don't already get California Today by email.)
    In yesterday's newsletter, we explored why Montebello, a solidly middle class suburb of Los Angeles, was an unexpected target for Gov. Gavin Newsom's ire over unaffordable housing.
    Today, my colleague Nellie Bowles takes us to a city where the housinglandscape has been the target of way more outrage — and it's about to get worse. 
    We're talking about San Francisco. I'll let her explain why:
    Booms usually follow busts. But not in San Francisco today.
    A new fleet of huge start-ups — among them Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Slack and Pinterest — is preparing to go public, and the employees who have patiently waited for their stock options to turn to cash will finally have their day.

    The trouble is: The city still hasn't quite caught its breath from the last boom, which saw clashes between protesters and tech buses. There's still not enough housing, still jarring inequality on the streets. And now thousands of the newly cash rich are going to be looking to put their stake in the city. Familiar issues are boiling up again.

    So I spent a few days talking to local business owners, financial managers, real estate agents, housing activists, tech workers, ice sculptors and bike shops about what they're expecting from the I.P.O.-palooza this year.
    One note: A fair number have read it and told me, "Oh this is why San Francisco is over." I would push back on that. When I was reporting this story, and as news came that even more of Silicon Valley's engines are moving north, the realization I kept having is that San Francisco's financial and cultural power is only beginning.
    So what do you think? Is San Francisco beyond saving from the uber-wealthy? 
    Tell us about it at CAtoday@nytimes.com.


    10) Surveillance Video of City Officer Kicking and Stomping Homeless Man Leads to Charges
    By Benjamin Weiser, March 7, 2019

    The skirmish started with an exchange of words and a man swinging at an officer in the lobby of a men's homeless shelter in Manhattan.
    Soon, the man was being subdued by several uniformed officers working for the city's Department of Homeless Services, according to security video of the incident.
    And that's when things got out of control, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.
    While officers held the man down, Cordell Fitts, who was working as a supervising sergeant with the city's Department of Homeless Services, kicked and stomped the man's head more than 10 times, prosecutors said.

    Sergeant Fitts punched him two more times in the head after officers attempted to place the homeless man in handcuffs, prosecutors said. Sergeant Fitts, 34, was charged with deprivation of the victim's civil rights and filing a false report about the incident.

    He was released on bond after a court appearance on Thursday. His attorney, Julia L. Gatto, declined to comment.
    Video of the beating, which federal prosecutors made public on Thursday, raised some of the same questions — how marginalized and poor people are treated in city facilities — as did an incident in December when the police yanked a 1-year-old baby from the arms of his mother, Jazmine Headley, as she was being arrested at a public benefits office in Brooklyn. Cellphone footage of that incident went viral on social media.
    The assault at the 30th Street shelter, identified by prosecutors as the Bellevue men's shelter, occurred on March 6, 2017, prosecutors said. They did not say why it took two years to charge Sergeant Fitts.
    According to a criminal complaint unsealed on Thursday, the victim, who prosecutors did not name, was in the shelter's lobby interacting with several officers and a security guard. At one point, the victim and Sergeant Fitts exchanged words and Sergeant Fitts gestured toward an exit area of the shelter, the complaint said.
    Sergeant Fitts then reached toward the victim, putting his hands on the man's chest. The man responded by swinging at Sergeant Fitts with what appeared to be closed fists, the complaint said.

    According to the complaint, a police report of the incident stated that "necessary force" was used to "safely detain" the man and that a small pocketknife fell from the man's jacket during the altercation as he continued to resist arrest. The report also quoted the victim as saying that he was off his medication and "going through a lot."
    Although the report "purports to have been drafted" by another officer, language in it was drafted by Sergeant Fitts, who instructed another officer to sign it, prosecutors charged.
    The officer who signed the report has said that he did not hear the victim make the comment about his medication and also did not see a knife fall to the ground, the complaint said.
    Prosecutors said Sergeant Fitts joined the homeless services agency as a police officer in 2012 and worked there until about March 2018.
    "Fitts's alleged conduct not only betrayed his duty as an officer to protect those under his charge, but also violated the law," Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said.
    Margaret Garnett, the commissioner of the city's investigation department, which had investigated the incident with prosecutors, added that shelters "should provide a safe environment for the homeless of our city, not one where clients fear the officers employed to protect them."
    Isaac McGinn, a spokesman for the Department of Homeless Services, said, "The actions described, including the cover-up, are horrifying and will never be tolerated in our city." He said that working with the New York Police Department, "We remain squarely focused on improving shelter security while strengthening oversight."
    Prosecutors did not describe any injuries the man may have suffered or say what has happened to him in the two years since the incident. The government said only that he was previously a resident of the homeless agency's facilities. The video shows that the man was ultimately brought to his feet and escorted out of the lobby.

    Edgar Sandoval contributed reporting.


    11) America, Say My Name
    I tried Troy. I stuck with Viet.
    By Viet Thanh Nguyen, March 9, 2019

    LOS ANGELES — What’s your name? Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born in Vietnam as Nguyen Thanh Viet. Whichever way you arrange my name, it is not a typical American name. Growing up in the United States, I was encouraged by generations of American tradition to believe that it was normal, desirable and practical to adopt an American first name, and even to change one’s surname to an American one.
    Of course, that raises the question — what exactly is an American name?
    When my Vietnamese parents became American citizens, they took the pragmatic route and changed their names to Joseph and Linda. My adolescent self was shocked. Were these the same people who had told me, repeatedly, that I was “100 percent Vietnamese?”
    They asked me if I wanted to change my name. There was good reason for me to change my name, for throughout my childhood my classmates had teased me by asking if my last name was Nam. As in “Viet Nam.” Get it? The autocorrect function on the iPhone certainly thinks so, as I still sometimes get messages — from friends — addressed to Viet Nam.
    I tried on various names. I did not want anything too typical, like my Catholic baptismal name, Joseph. Or Joe. Or Joey. I wanted something just a little bit different, like me. How about — Troy?

    It didn’t work. That name, or any of the other contenders, seemed alien to me. My parents’ constant reminder that I was 100 percent Vietnamese had worked its magic. I felt some kind of psychic connection to Vietnam, the country where I was born but that I remembered not at all, having left at age 4. This psychic tie was ironic, because my fellow Vietnamese refugees in San Jose, Calif., of the 1980s — who never called themselves Americans — would describe me as completely Americanized. A whitewash. A banana, yellow on the outside, white on the inside.
    If I were indeed a banana, many other Americans probably just saw the yellow part and not the soft whiteness inside. The dilemma of being caught in between opposing cultures was hardly new and has not gone away, but it was still difficult for me and everyone else who has had to experience it.
    I was hardly reassured when I went on a field trip to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey and a pleasant young white American soldier, dressed in Vietnamese garb and fluent in Vietnamese, translated my Vietnamese name into a kind of American equivalent: Bruce Smith.
    The Smith part was a good translation, as Nguyen is the most common Vietnamese surname, inherited from a royal dynasty. In Australia, where many of the refugees went, Nguyen is among the most common surnames. I wonder if the Australians have figured out how to pronounce my name in all of its tonal beauty. In the United States, most Vietnamese-Americans, tired of explaining, simply tell other Americans to say the name as “Win,” leading to many puns about win-win situations.
    As for Bruce, I think George might have been more accurate. Viet is the name of the people, and George is the father of the country. Or maybe America itself should be my first name, after Amerigo Vespucci, the cartographer whose first name — Americus in Latin — has become a part of all our American identities.

    Or maybe, instead of contorting myself through translation — which comes from the Latin word meaning to “carry across,” as my parents carried me across the Pacific — I should simply be Viet.
    That, in the end, was the choice I made. Not to change. Not to translate. Not, in this one instance, to adapt to America. It was true that I was born in Vietnam but made in America. Or remade. But even if I had already become an American by the time I took my oath of citizenship, I refused to take this step of changing my name.
    Instead, I knew intuitively what I would one day know explicitly: that I would make Americans say my name. I felt, intuitively, that changing my name was a betrayal, as the act of translation itself carries within it the potential for betrayal, of getting things wrong, deliberately or otherwise. A betrayal of my parents, even if they had left it open to me to change my name; a betrayal of being Vietnamese, even if many Vietnamese people were ambivalent about me. A betrayal, ultimately, of me.
    I render no judgment on people who change their names. We all make and remake our own selves. But neither should there be judgment on people who do not change their names, who insist on being themselves, even if their names induce dyslexia on the part of some Americans. My surname is consistently misspelled as Ngyuen or Nyugen — even in publications that publish me. 
    In Starbucks and other coffee shops, my first name is often misspelled by the barista as Biet or Diet. I have been tempted to adopt a Starbucks name, as my friend Thuy Vo Dang puts it, to make my life easier. Hers was Tina. Mine was Joe. I said it once to a barista and was instantly ashamed of myself.
    Never did I do that again. I wanted everyone to hear the barista say my name. Publicly claiming a name is one small way to take what is private, what might be shameful or embarrassing, and change its meaning. We begin at some place like Starbucks, which is itself an unusual name, derived from a character in “Moby Dick,” itself an unusual name. Starbucks and Moby Dick are a part of the American lexicon and mythology. So can all of our names, no matter their origins, be a part of this country. All we have to do is proudly and publicly assert them.
    Recently I visited Phillips Exeter Academy, a once all-white institution founded in 1781 whose population is now about 20 percent Asian. In front of the entire student body, a student described how he dreaded introducing himself when he was growing up and made up nicknames for himself so that he would not have to explain his name’s pronunciation. He asked me what I would say to people struggling to hold on to their names.

    “What’s your name?” I asked.
    “Yaseen,” he said.
    I told him that his name was beautiful, that his parents gave it to him out of love. I told him about the name I gave my son, Ellison, whom I named after the novelist Ralph Waldo Ellison, who was named after Ralph Waldo Emerson. I claimed for my son an American genealogy that was also an African-American genealogy that, through me and my son, would also be a Vietnamese-American genealogy. Ellison Nguyen, a name that compressed all of our painful, aspirational history as a country.
    America, too, is a name. A name that citizens and residents of the United States have taken for themselves, a name that is mythical or maligned around the world, a name that causes endless frustration for all those other Americans, from North to South, from Canada to Chile, who are not a part of the United States. A complicated name, as all names are, if we trace them back far enough.
    Yaseen. Ellison. Viet. Nguyen. All American names, if we want them to be. All of them a reminder that we change these United States of America one name at a time.
    Viet Thanh Nguyen, a contributing opinion writer, is the author, most recently, of “The Refugees” and the editor of “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.” He teaches English at the University of Southern California.

    12) Footage Contradicts U.S. Claim That Maduro Burned Aid Convoy
    By Nicholas CaseyChristoph Koettl and Deborah Acosta, March 10, 2019

    CÚCUTA, Colombia — The narrative seemed to fit Venezuela’s authoritarian rule: Security forces, on the order of President Nicolás Maduro, had torched a convoy of humanitarian aid as millions in his country were suffering from illness and hunger.
    Vice President Mike Pence wrote that “the tyrant in Caracas danced”as his henchmen “burned food & medicine.” The State Department released a video saying Mr. Maduro had ordered the trucks burned. And Venezuela’s opposition held up the images of the burning aid, reproduced on dozens of news sites and television screens throughout Latin America, as evidence of Mr. Maduro’s cruelty.
    But there is a problem: The opposition itself, not Mr. Maduro’s men, appears to have set the cargo alight accidentally.
    Unpublished footage obtained by The New York Times and previously released tapes — including footage released by the Colombian government, which has blamed Mr. Maduro for the fire — allowed for a reconstruction of the incident. It suggests that a Molotov cocktail thrown by an antigovernment protester was the most likely trigger for the blaze.

    At one point, a homemade bomb made from a bottle is hurled toward the police, who were blocking a bridge connecting Colombia and Venezuela to prevent the aid trucks from getting through.
    But the rag used to light the Molotov cocktail separates from the bottle, flying toward the aid truck instead.
    Half a minute later, that truck is in flames.
    The same protester can be seen 20 minutes earlier, in a different video, hitting another truck with a Molotov cocktail, without setting it on fire

    The burning of the aid last month has led to broad condemnation of the Venezuelan government.
    More than three million people have fled the country because of the humanitarian crisis caused by Mr. Maduro’s mismanagement of the economy. Political opponents who have remained in the country face repression by his security forces, with many jailed, tortured or forced into exile. Many demonstrators have been killed and even more injured during street protests.
    Many of Mr. Maduro’s critics claim that he ordered medication set on fire during the border standoff — even though many of his people have died of medicine shortages in hospitals.

    Yet the claim about a shipment of medicine, too, appears to be unsubstantiated, according to videos and interviews.
    The United States Agency for International Development, the principal supplier of the aid at the bridge, did not list medicine among its donations. A top opposition official on the bridge that day told The New York Times that the burned shipment contained medical supplies like face masks and gloves, but not medicine. And video clips reviewed by The Times show some of the boxes contained hygiene kits, which the Americans identified as containing supplies like soap and toothpaste.
    Yet the claim that Mr. Maduro burned medicine has persisted.
    “Maduro has lied about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, he contracts criminals to burn food and medicine intended for the Venezuelan people,” wrote John R. Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, in a message posted on Twitter on March 2.
    After being contacted by The Times about these claims, American officials released a statement describing how the fire began more cautiously.
    “Eyewitness accounts indicate that the fire started when Maduro’s forces violently blocked the entry of humanitarian assistance,” the statement said. It did not specify that Mr. Maduro’s forces lit the fire.
    American officials also noted that, whatever the circumstances, they held Mr. Maduro responsible because he blocked the aid trucks that day, punishing Venezuelans in need.
    “Maduro is responsible for creating the conditions for violence,” said Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “His thugs denied the entry of tons of food and medicine, while thousands of courageous volunteers sought to safeguard and deliver aid to Venezuelan families.”

    The aid shipment created a showdown unlike any on the borderbetween Colombia and Venezuela in years.
    On Feb. 23, Venezuela’s opposition planned to pierce a military blockade by Mr. Maduro, hoping that the president’s security forces would break with him rather than stop much-needed aid. They argued that a cascade of defections in the military would follow, eventually toppling the government.
    Instead, Mr. Maduro’s security forces, along with government-aligned gangs, attacked protesters, who came armed with rocks and Molotov cocktails. One of the aid trucks burned in the melee, igniting the bitter war of words over who was responsible.
    Mr. Maduro’s government has also made unsubstantiated claims, starting with its longstanding insistence that there are no food shortages in Venezuela.
    It also claimed that the aid shipment contained expired supplies or American weapons.
    But one claim that appears to be backed up by video footage is that the protesters started the fire.
    “They tried a false flag operation, that supposedly the people of Venezuela had burned a truck carrying rotten food — no, no, no — it was they themselves, it was the criminals of Iván Duque,” Mr. Maduro told a crowd, referring to Colombia’s president.
    The day of the convoy, Colombia’s government quickly became a chief booster of the theory that Mr. Maduro had been behind the fire. Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez posted a picture of what she said was “one of the trucks incinerated by gangs by order of Maduro.”
    After the truck was destroyed, the Colombian government sent CCTV footage from the bridge to American officials and Colombian journalists, according to officials and journalists who received them.

    The footage was edited to show circles around Venezuelan security forces throwing tear gas canisters, which explode on impact, toward the aid convoy. Subsequent images show the truck erupting into smoke, implying that it was the Venezuelan officials who were responsible.
    But the footage distributed by the Colombian government removes the 13-minute period before the fire begins. Officials from Mr. Duque’s office did not release the full video after repeated requests from The Times.
    Protesters who threw Molotov cocktails from the bridge insisted that Mr. Maduro’s forces, not their homemade bombs, set the fire.
    Junior José Quevedo, 23, said he had arrived at 7 a.m. that day and tried to talk policemen into allowing the aid to pass. “But then another armed group came of colectivos,” he said, referring to government-aligned gangs.
    Adalberto Rondón, another bomb thrower on the bridge that day, said it was national guardsmen who lit the fire.
    The same account was widely picked up that day by American officials.
    “Each of the trucks burned by Maduro carried 20 tons of food and medicine,” Senator Marco Rubio wrote on Twitter, repeating a claim posted by a Colombian news network that was on the scene. “This is a crime and if international law means anything he must pay a high price for this.”
    Contacted by The Times about the footage Saturday, a spokesman for Mr. Rubio did not address who burned the trucks, saying in a statement that “Maduro bears full responsibility for the destruction of humanitarian aid.”

    Juan Guaidó, the leader of Venezuela’s opposition, has fervently maintained that the aid contained medicine and that it was burned by Mr. Maduro as well.
    When contacted by The Times on Thursday about possible contradictory information on what the truck contained, Edward Rodríguez, a spokesman for Mr. Guaidó, said he “didn’t have the exact information” and referred questions to Gaby Arellano, a lawmaker in charge of the aid distribution.
    Ms. Arellano could not be reached for comment this past week. But when interviewed by The Times on the bridge shortly after the truck burned on Feb. 23, Ms. Arellano said the truck was not carrying any medicine.
    “There were face masks, syringes, gloves, the things that you use in an operating room,” she said.
    Ms. Arellano also said Mr. Maduro’s security forces had burned the shipment, with his forces throwing tear gas canisters that exploded on the vehicle.
    “Tear gas bombs, when they fall they throw out a spark,” she said. “Since there were boxes, when the first one fell, it set everything on fire.”
    Asked if it had been done on purpose, she said: “There couldn’t be any other reason, could there? The world is here, it was all recorded live by the media. There’s even videos where you can see it all happening.”

    Nicholas Casey reported from Cúcuta, and Christoph Koettl and Deborah Acosta from New York. Albinson Linares contributed reporting from Cúcuta, and Anjali Singhvi from New York.



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