U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!
Stop U.S. Wars and Racism!
No to NATO!

Sunday, March 31, 2019 Oakland Federal Building
13th Street and Clay, Oakland, CA @ 1:00 PM

Honor Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. and his famous April 4 speech against the Vietnam war, racism and poverty.

No to Racism, Sexism, LGBTQI discrimination, Anti- Immigrant Walls/Deportations and Environmental Destruction. U.S. Hands Off Africa, Latin America & the Middle East- from Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba to the Philippines, Palestine & Syria

Sponsors: Spring Action Coalition 2019; United National Antiwar Coalition For information contact: jmackler@lmi.net or judygreenspan1952@gmail.com 

U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!
Stop U.S. Wars and Racism!
No to NATO!
Sunday, March 31, 2019 Oakland Federal Building
13th Street and Clay, Oakland, 1:00 PM
SponsorsSpring Action Coalition 2019; United National Antiwar CoalitioFor information contactjmackler@lmi.net or judygreenspan1952@gmail.com
Honor Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. and his famous April 4 speech against the Vietnam war, racism and poverty.
No to Racism, Sexism, LGBTQI discrimination, Anti- Immigrant Walls/Deportations and Environmental Destruction. U.S. Hands Off Africa, Latin America & the Middle East- from Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba to the Philippines, Palestine & Syria
Labor Donated 



How to buy a gun in the U.S. and New Zeland:

New Zealand to Ban Military-Style Semiautomatic Guns, Jacinda Ardern Says
By Damien Cave and Charlotte Graham-McLay, March 20, 2019















Courage to Resist
free chelsea manning
Free Chelsea Manning (again)!
U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been sent back to jail after refusing to answer questions before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. She could be jailed for up to 18 months this time.
As she was being taken back into custody on March 8th, she declared, "I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech."  Here's how to offer your support.

randy rowland
Podcast: Randy Rowland, GI resister
"I was the reluctant guy who's bit by bit by bit, just had to face the facts that things weren't the way I had been raised to believe that they were. It wasn't like I planned to be a resister or a troublemaker or anything of the sort," explains Randy Rowland, an organizer of the "Presidio 27 Mutiny."
This Courage to Resist podcast is the first in series to be produced in collaboration with the Vietnam Full Disclosure effort of Veterans for Peace — "Towards an honest commemoration of the American war in Vietnam." This year marks 50 years of GI resistance, in and out of uniform, for many of the courageous
individuals featured. Listen to Randy's story here.

ctr video
We shared our new 75 second promotional video on Facebook this week. Yes, FB is kind of evil, but we still reach a lot of folks that way. Please check it out, share with friends, and "like" our FB page.
ctr video
During Sunday's Objector Church online meetup, James Branum discussed the heroism of US Army Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds (1919–1985). MSgt Edmonds was the ranking US NCO at the Stalag IX-A POW Camp when he was captured in Germany during WWII. At the risk of his life, he prevented an estimated 200 Jews from being singled out from the camp for Nazi persecution and likely death. Watch the video here.
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559
www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist


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."



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.



Updates from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Justice for Rasmea Odeh! Justice for Palestine!

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression strongly supports Rasmea Odeh's right to speak in Berlin about the Palestinian liberation struggle. We stand with the many other organizations who condemn the German, Israeli, and U.S. governments' attacks on Rasmea and their attempts to silence her by revoking her visa and prohibiting her from political activity (see article about the March 15 incident).

The actions of these governments blatantly reflect their racist anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim views. But we want to draw attention to the underlying reason for their targeting of Rasmea. The attack on her right to speak is deeply tied to U.S. and German support for the Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism in Palestine. Moreover, the attack on Rasmea reflects these countries' imperialist strategies for control of the Middle East. By the same token, these governments are clearly acting out of fear - fear that when Palestinian women and activists like Rasmea speak up, it chips away at such countries' grasp on Palestine and the surrounding region.

The attacks on Rasmea and Palestine also relate to political repression taking place across the globe. Germany, the U.S. and Israel are attempting to silence Rasmea for the same fundamental reasons that the Duterte government has murdered and attacked activists and human rights defenders in the Philippines; that the U.S. government is trying to forcibly install a new government in Venezuela; and that the NYPD's Strategic Response Group is surveilling and harassing leaders and activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. The imperialists who are in power are clearly afraid that people like Rasmea might inspire others to rise up and fight back against the racist and oppressive system in place.

We want to send a message to these imperialist powers, to say that fighting back is exactly what we plan to do. It is imperative that we fight back against this unjust system that tries to silence Palestinian women like Rasmea. We demand that Rasmea Odeh be permitted to speak in Germany, and we demand an end to state repression against all Muslim women, and all Palestinians who have boldly raised their voices against the imperialist and colonialist powers that are oppressing people across the world.

Activists are not terrorists! We stand in solidarity with Rasmea and all Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation.

-- NYC Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Copyright © 2019 Committee to Stop FBI Repression, All rights reserved.
Thanks for your ongoing interest in the fight against FBI repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists!

Our mailing address is:
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
PO Box 14183
MinneapolisMN  55414

Add us to your address book























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:



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

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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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    Free Leonard Peltier!

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    Write to:
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    USP Coleman 1,  P.O. Box 1033
    Coleman, FL 33521



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





    1) Your Public Lands Are Killing You
    By Timothy Egan, March 29, 2019

    A rally by Our Children's Trust outside the Supreme Court in October in support of the plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States.CreditWin McNamee/Getty Images

    Out in the way beyond, the open land on the far side of the Mueller report and cable news obsessives, is a vast kingdom now being used to hasten the demise of the planet.
    You may know this area, more than 500 million acres of empty vales and thick forests, high plains and diamond-cut peaks, as something you saw on a screen saver, or marked as a distant bucket list destination. It's your American public land endowment, your birthright at citizenship.
    What you may not know is that while you were sleeping through the white noise from the White House, your public servants were put under the control of the oil and gas industry. They have been busy giving away drilling rights on your land for next to nothing. More precisely — per acre, for even less than the cost of a Bacon McDouble, which of course you should eat only in moderation.

    And they're doing this in the face of considerable evidence that the rush into industrial plunder of these lands is a huge source of planet-convulsing carbon emissions.

    But behold: A history-making lawsuit on behalf of children who will inherit this mess could put an end to the Trump administration plan to drill till we drop. Although the courts have never recognized a constitutional right to a livable environment, the lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, has been given a green light to pursue just that.

    "This is no ordinary lawsuit," wrote federal judge Ann Aiken of Oregon in allowing the case to proceed. "I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society."
    If that judicial statement was a stunner, what happened this month in another case was equally extraordinary. For the first time, a federal judge temporarily halted drilling on federal land because the government did not take into account the climate change impact of that drilling.

    Forget about the unworkable Green New Deal, which Republicans are using as a prop to show how silly both parties are. Cow flatulence! No air travel! The end of "hamberders!" It's been a gift to right-wing demagogues, looking to further dumb down a Republican base that doesn't believe anything a wounded earth is trying to tell them.

    The real action is unfolding now, on federal land. Prior administrations allowed for considerable oil and gas drilling in swaths of the public domain in the West. But President Trump is holding a fire sale for his fellow fossil fools. The amount of federal land offered for drilling is three times what it was under President Barack Obama.
    It would be one thing if we needed this oil. We don't. The world is awash in cheap crude. And it would be another if these lands weren't being used for something that poses an existential threat. They are. Almost 25 percent of American earth-warming emissions originate from industrial action involving public land or offshore leases.
    The United States is the biggest carbon polluter in history, and now ranks behind only China in greenhouse gas emissions. As well, we're now the largest crude oil producer in the world. And we've become a leading exporter of that oil, just to show how bad of a global citizen we can be.
    If you force the Trump administration to stop bingeing on public land, you can make an immediate impact on the amount of earth-warming carbon the United States spits into the atmosphere.
    Such an injunction is what the children represented by a trust in the Juliana lawsuit are trying to do. And it was that sort of injunction, acknowledging the role of drilling on public land in harming us all, that temporarily shut down new leasing on 300,000 acres in Wyoming this month.
    Another big step is to prevent David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, from becoming interior secretary. A stooge for his former clients, this Trump nominee was the deputy secretary, while the top job was held by a strange man, Ryan Zinke, who paraded around on a horse named Tonto.

    It was Bernhardt who tried to block release of a federal analysis showing that two widely used pesticides were so toxic that they"jeopardize the continued existence" of more than 1,200 species of birds, fish and other life-forms without lobbyists, as my colleague Eric Lipton reported this week.

    You can see who Bernhardt is working for: It's not all the living things under the domain of the emperor of the outdoors. Nor is he looking out for the interests of children, who will have to live with the consequences of action taken by adults in service to carbon pollution.
    About those kids: Senator Mike Lee of Utah recently took to the floor of his chamber to say that the best response to the mounting chaos of epic floods, searing wildfires and other symptoms of a sick earth is to get married and have children.
    What he didn't say was that we hold our public land in trust for the Americans of tomorrow. The least we can do is stop using it to imperil their world.


    2) Tear Gas and Clashes as Palestinians Rally Near Gaza Border Fence With Israel
    By The Associated Press, March 30, 2019

    A protester used a slingshot to hurl a rock toward Israeli forces as Palestinians marked the anniversary of the "March of Return" border protests in Gaza on Saturday.CreditCreditMahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters on Saturday as Palestinian protesters approached the fence between Gaza and Israel.CreditMahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Palestinian paramedics carrying an injured man at a rally near the Gaza border fence with Israel on Saturday.CreditAnas Baba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    GAZA — Israeli troops fired tear gas and live rounds on Saturday at small crowds of Palestinian activists who had approached the border fence with Israel as tens of thousands of people gathered to commemorate the anniversary of weekly protests in the Gaza Strip, killing one and wounding 13 others, according to Palestinian medical officials.
    Gaza's Hamas rulers had pledged to keep the crowds at a safe distance from the fence as Egyptian mediators tried to cement a cease-fire agreement. Dozens of volunteers in fluorescent vests were deployed to restrain demonstrators. Ambulances lined up in front of clinics and police supervised encampments erected far from the fence.
    But as the crowds swelled throughout the afternoon in response to Hamas's calls for a large turnout, dozens of protesters approached the fence, unfurling Palestinian flags and throwing rocks and explosives toward Israeli soldiers positioned nearby. The Israeli forces responded with tear gas and live fire to disperse the crowds.

    Gaza's Health Ministry said that a 17-year-old protester was killed immediately after being shot in the face in East Gaza City.

    The Israeli military estimated 40,000 Palestinians had gathered at the marches.
    "The rioters are hurling rocks and setting tires on fire. In addition, a number of grenades and explosive devices have been hurled at the Gaza Strip security fence," it said in a statement. It said soldiers had responded with "riot dispersal means" and firing in line with standard procedures.
    Earlier on Saturday, Gaza health officials said Israeli troops had shot and killed a Palestinian man, Mohammed Saad, 21, near the perimeter fence, hours before the mass rally began. Gaza's Health Ministry said he had been hit in the head by shrapnel.
    The Israeli Army said that about 200 Palestinians had "rioted during the night along the fence" and that the army had used crowd dispersal means against them.

    Saturday's protest came at a sensitive time for both Israel and Hamas.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is seeking his fourth consecutive term in the country's April 9 elections, but he is facing a serious challenge from a group of former army chiefs who have criticized what they say is his failed Gaza policy.

    In the final stretch of the campaign, Mr. Netanyahu needs to keep the Israel-Gaza frontier quiet without seeming to make concessions to Hamas. He was heavily criticized this past week for what was seen as a soft response to renewed rocket fire out of Gaza.
    Hamas, meanwhile, faces growing unrest in Gaza as a result of worsening conditions after more than a decade of Israeli and Egyptian border closings.
    The fence protests, which began a year ago, have been aimed in large part at breaking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza, but have not delivered major improvements.
    Fouad Aishan, 40, said came with his five children to the frontier to show them the Israeli soldiers and to return to safety before the protest started.
    "I come here driven by personal national motivation," he said. "It has nothing to do with what the politicians do."
    The marches near the fence began a year ago, initially organized by grass-roots activists who were calling for a mass return to their ancestors' homes in what is now Israel. About two-thirds of Gaza's two million people are refugees or descendants of refugees who had fled or had been forced from their homes during the war surrounding Israel's establishment in 1948.

    Hamas quickly took the lead in the protests, using the gatherings to call for an easing of the blockade.

    The blockade, imposed after Hamas seized Gaza in 2007, has devastated Gaza's economy. Unemployment is over 50 percent, ground water has become undrinkable and electricity has turned into an intermittent luxury.
    The border marches routinely ended in confrontations, with some of the Palestinian demonstrators burning tires, hurling fire bombs or setting off explosives and Israeli troops firing live rounds and tear gas.
    According to a Gaza rights group and a count by The Associated Press, 196 Palestinians were killed in the demonstrations over the past year, including 41 minors, and thousands were wounded by live fire. An Israeli soldier was also killed in the context of the marches.
    Egypt has repeatedly tried to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, stepping up efforts in recent days after a rocket from Gaza struck a house in central Israel earlier this week, injuring seven Israelis and threatening to escalate tensions.
    Palestinians with knowledge of the talks have said that as part of the proposed deal, Gaza protesters were to keep away from the fence Saturday and Israeli troops were to hold their fire.
    Under the Egyptian plan, Israel would offer economic incentives for Gaza in exchange for calm, according to Palestinian officials.

    Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, said the group had received "positive signs" from the Egyptians. He added that the Egyptian team was to return to Israel on Sunday to continue the talks. "We will continue our marches until all our goals are achieved," he said.
    This month, Hamas quelled what have been portrayed as the fiercest protests yet against its mismanagement and failure to improve the internal economic situation.
    Hamas blames the blockade and punitive measures by its West Bank-based rival, the Palestinian Authority, for worsening the living conditions.


    3) Migrants Are Detained Under a Bridge in El Paso. What Happened?
    By Simon Romero, March 29, 2019
    People [FORCED TO] rest [SLEEP ON ROCKS]BW as they are held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in an enclosed area beneath the Paso del Norte International Bridge in El Paso, Tex., on Friday. 
    CreditCreditTamir Kalifa for The New York Times

    Welcome to a special edition of Crossing the Border, a limited-run weekly newsletter from The New York Times. Like what you see? Send this to a friend. If someone forwarded it to you, sign up here to have the next issue delivered to your inbox.
    The surge in Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States is straining facilities across the Southwest border, with Border Patrol processing facilities this week handling thousands of people in excess of the system's capacity. President Trump threatened to close the border next week if Mexico did not halt "all illegal immigration" into the United States.
    El Paso, the Texas border city where the president held a rally in February calling for his wall with Mexico, is emerging as a flash point. Border Patrol agents in the city have begun holding migrant families in an area under a bridge, surrounded by fencing and razor wire.
    Photos of the conditions drew attention this week on social media and in news reports. Here's a look at where the migrants came from, and how they came to be detained under the bridge.
    People held in an enclosure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday, after crossing the border between Mexico and the United States.CreditJose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters
    CreditCredit Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

    Agents are apprehending about 570 migrants a day in the El Paso metropolitan area, up from about 100 a day five months ago. On some days last year, there were no apprehensions at all in the entire El Paso sector, which stretches across New Mexico and a swath of West Texas.
    The increase translates into a lack of space at processing facilities, so officials put up a large military tent under the Paso Del Norte International Bridge in what they describe as a temporary measure. The tent has bathrooms, blankets, water and food — but people appear to be miserable nonetheless.
    Stays in the encampment are said to vary from several hours to a couple of days, depending on the flow of migrants across the border. Some migrants are sleeping in cots inside the government tent, while others prefer to sleep on the ground outside.
    Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said at a news conference on Wednesday near the encampment that the country's immigration enforcement system is at a "breaking point."

    Political and business leaders in El Paso are expressing criticism over the Trump administration's handling of the new influx. Many in the city, a Democratic bastion, had already disputed the president's assertion that border fencing had cut crime in El Paso.
    In a news conference in El Paso on Wednesday, Mr. McAleenan announced that C.B.P. was temporarily reassigning up to 750 officers to places on the border that are grappling with the increased flow of migrants. But some of those in El Paso say the overall response has been haphazard.
    sticking point is the Trump administration's plan to spend $192 million on a new immigrant processing center in the city. Officials chose an old 400,000-square-foot Hoover vacuum plant for the site.
    But business leaders are questioning whether the manufacturing facility is the best place to process migrants in a humane way. Others claim that federal officials chose the site despite concerns over its proximity to schools, businesses and residential areas.
    In any case, the new center won't be open until at least June.

    Mr. Trump has lashed out at Mexico's government, claiming on Twitter that it was doing "nothing" to stop unauthorized migrants from reaching the United States.
    But the view in Mexico is more nuanced. In fact, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has already given in to some of Mr. Trump's demands, breaking with decades of asylum practices in Mexico. (Read more about that here.)

    Mexican authorities have been blocking groups of migrants at some border towns, intercepting unaccompanied minors before they reach American soil and allowing the Trump administration to send more than 120 migrants to Tijuana to await decisions on asylum requests.
    Now Mr. López Obrador's efforts to avoid a confrontation with Mr. Trump over the issue seem to be waning. The Mexican president said on Thursday that while he respected Mr. Trump's position, the problem largely involved the United States and Central American countries.
    "I just emphasize that migration flows of Mexicans to the United States are very low," Mr. López Obrador told reporters in Mexico City.
    "The Mexican is no longer seeking work in the United States," he said. "The majority are inhabitants of our fellow Central American countries."
    Border Patrol apprehensions remain well below their peak of 1.6 million in 2000. But apprehensions climbed to 467,000 in 2018, the highest level in six years. Mr. McAleenan said at his news conference on Wednesday that there were more than 12,000 migrants in United States custody at the beginning of the week. "As of this morning, that number was 13,400. A high number for us is 4,000. A crisis level is 6,000. 13,000 is unprecedented," he said.
    The important thing to understand is that migration patterns from Latin America have undergone a big shift.
    Standing in contrast to previous migration surges, the latest one involves few single men from Mexico. Instead, as more Mexicans actually leave the United States than arrive as migrants, Central American families now account for the large majority of new arrivals.

    Whereas the Border Patrol could easily deport undocumented Mexicans, deporting Central Americans is more challenging. Most are arriving as family units applying for asylum, a process that can take months or years to evaluate. The federal government is letting many migrants go free each week because it lacks enough beds to hold them in family detention centers.
    "The situation has changed dramatically, and we're responding to it the best we can," said Ramiro Cordero, a Border Patrol spokesman in El Paso.

    4) Why Do Garfield Phones Keep Washing Up on This Beach?
    By Palko Karasz, March 29, 2019

    Spare parts of plastic Garfield phones were displayed on the beach in Plouarzel, in western France, after being collected from a sea cave by environmental activists.CreditCreditFred Tanneau/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    LONDON — For three decades it was a mystery that seemed to defy belief.
    Bright orange plastic novelty phones shaped like the grumpy cartoon cat Garfield kept washing up on the rocky Atlantic shoreline of Brittany, in western France.
    Over the years, locals have picked up hundreds of pieces of the phones, including paws, headset cables and even Garfield heads, forever fixed in his familiar smirk. But nobody knew exactly where they came from.
    Last week, volunteers cleaning the beaches solved the puzzle: The source of the Garfield phones was a long-lost shipping container, nestled in a rocky sea cave.

    "This waste is over 30 years old, and we are still finding bits," Fabien Boileau, the director of the Iroise Marine Natural Park, told the news site FranceInfo, citing it as an example of plastic debris that never fully breaks down and contributes to ocean pollution.

    The disturbing longevity of these plastic pieces, some of which look practically new, have made the Garfield phones into a local symbol of marine pollution. The mystery of the phones gained national prominence after journalists at FranceInfo reported on the case as part of a campaign called Pollution Alert.
    Around 148 million shipping containers are sent by sea each year, according to the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency.
    Between 2008 and 2016, shipping companies lost over 1,500 containers on average each year, most during accidents such as capsizing, running aground or when sailing in heavy seas, according to a survey by the World Shipping Council, a trade association.
    In one accident alone in 2014, more than 500 containers were lost from a ship run by the company Maersk in a storm in the Bay of Biscay.
    Depending on what is in them, lost containers can have long-lasting effects on marine life and coastal communities. (Most of the containers lost in the 2014 Maersk accident were empty, and none contained hazardous material, the company said.)

    Rules on reporting and dealing with lost containers vary globally. As part of an action plan on marine waste, the International Maritime Organization plans to discuss in May setting standard procedures for the reporting of lost containers and for addressing liability for plastic consumer goods lost at sea.
    Volunteers in Brittany tracked down the source of the Garfield phones after a local man told them about a big storm that struck in the early 1980s. Last week they ventured into the sea cave, normally cut off by the tide and only accessible a few days each year, where they found metal from a container and Garfield-shaped phone shells, still containing potentially dangerous electronic components.
    The telephones appeared to have been those made by Tyco, advertised in the 1980s as "real phones for real fun." They feature a keypad, have a classic electric "ring" — and Garfield's eyelids slide half-open when the user picks up the handset.
    They have survived as vintage items, still sold on auction websites and at flea markets. They will also very likely continue to haunt the Brittany shoreline.
    "Behind the fun character of Garfield, there is plastic pollution that does not decompose in the ocean, and that we will continue to face for years," said Claire Simonin-Le Meur, a local volunteer.


    5) The NYPD Union's War Against Parole Reform

    For decades, cops have aggressively opposed even minor reforms concerning accountability and criminal justice. Now, they're finding they no longer have the state's parole board under their thumb.

    By Natasha Lennard, March 29, 2019
    Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch in New York on May 4, 2015. (AP Photo / Seth Wenig)

    New York's largest police union is nothing if not consistent: The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (PBA) has aggressively opposed even the most minor reforms concerning police accountability and criminal justice for decades.

    In 1966, Mayor John Lindsay proposed establishing a Civilian Complaint Review Board in response to rising public concern over police brutality; PBA members protested in their thousands, lobbied and managed to keep civilians off the police-oversight agency for another 20 years. When Mayor David Dinkins put forward a police-oversight plan in 1992, the union organized a near-riot outside City Hall, jumping on cars and breaking barricades. In 2014, the blustering union president Patrick Lynch said that "blood was on the hands" of Mayor Bill De Blasio following the murder of two NYPD cops. The mayor's crime: deigning to mention the problem of police violence in the months before the attack.
    But nothing whips the powerful police union into a fury like the possibility that an individual convicted of killing an officer might one day walk free. "Keep Cop Killers in Jail for Life" is among the animating missions of the PBA—a whole page on its website, labeled "Cop Killers," is dedicated to this issue alone.
    The New York State Board of Parole, which determines the release of eligible prisoners who have already served their determined sentences, currently consists of 12 commissioners appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. In recent decades, the board was typically made up of individuals with previous law-enforcement careers who naturally tended towards denying parole. Over the last year, though, with the adoption of new regulations and the addition of new commissioners without law-enforcement backgrounds, the board has granted some long-overdue releases. As I have previously written, the decision to grant parole after 44 years to 70-year-old Herman Bell, a former Black Panther convicted of the 1971 murder of two NYPD officers, was a litmus test for whether the parole board would follow its own guidelines and release the aging man with a stellar institutional record, or bend to the political influence of the police union.
    In 2018, the PBA reacted with ire to Bell's release; Lynch, with his flare for blatant racism, stated that "to let this animal onto the streets is disgraceful." The union continues to pursue strained legal avenues to see the septuagenarian back behind bars. Both Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio publicly condemned the board's rightful decision; the parole board's decision later in the year to release Robert Hayes, also a former Black Panther, was a heartening signal that the commissioners would uphold the principles of parole rather than kowtow to police union pressure.
    The PBA has since doubled down on its campaign. The powerful union is taking aggressive aim at the New York State Board of Parole at the very moment parole reform is moving (albeit slowly) in the right direction. If the police union is successful in its efforts with regards to "cop killers"—as it historically has often been—it would undermine the very premises on which the parole system is supposed to function.
    "Every time someone whose crime involved injury or death to police comes up for parole, the PBA launches a frontal media attack, ignoring completely who the person is today, and exaggerating wildly the crime they were convicted of committing," Laura Whitehorn, an organizer with the project Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) and a former political prisoner herself, said in a recent interview. "They portray themselves as guardians of public safety, but the way they block advances in parole release have nothing whatsoever to do with public safety, only with police supremacy."
    The PBA's go-to tactics include hammy appeals to public safety and citizen's concerns. Last week, the police union announced that it would hand-deliver to the parole board tens of thousands of letters, apparently written by members of the public, asking that "cop killers" never be released. The police union claims that since 2014, some 200,000 letters from the public have been "purposefully ignored" by the board.
    The story behind these letters gives lie to the police union's claim of vast public support and exposes the cynical efforts it is willing to undertake in its crusade against reasonable parole decisions. Two hundred thousand individuals did not write to the parole board; the PBA's letters represent as few as around 3,000 people clicking on a website link. The vast majority of letters were automatically generated by the PBA's site, which invites visitors to "send a letter for all cop killers" in a bold red font and then generates 62 separate letters with one click—one for each "cop killer" listed on the site.
    According to Corrections, between 2012 to 2014, the department enabled what RAPP's Whitehorn called a "secret pipeline," by which these mass-generated letters would be dispatched directly to the parole board through the police union's online portal.
    Without warning the police union, Corrections shut down the portal between its site and the PBA's in 2014, around the same time advocacy organizations like RAPP were mounting pressure on the board to grant release to aging prisoners. Now, the union and its supporters have to complain to the parole board like any other members of the public (DOCCS has a link on its website for such messages and accepts mail). The union only discovered the change in February—that's the downside to automating letter-writing–and took it as evidence of a "decision" to "ignore" the public.
    The New York Daily News was swift to trumpet the PBA's outrage, echoing the union's soundbite that 200,000 messages had been "left in limbo." The tabloid at no point mentioned that the PBA site generated dozens of messages per single click. The corrections department, on its part, has pushed back on the PBA's narrative. "The PBA's most recent attack on the Board of Parole is disingenuous and is effectively a demand for exclusive access to the board that is not otherwise provided to any other New Yorker," said DOCCS spokesperson Thomas Mailey, adding that the "clerical change" that ended the online portal "has in no way prevented the PBA or anyone else from providing letters of opposition or support."
    More optimistically, the letters saga indicates fresh independence in the parole board. In 2017, administrators brought in new regulations in an attempt to instantiate what should have long been standard practice: basing parole decisions on an evaluation of the inmate's risk to the public instead of the nature of the crime that led to their incarceration. Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed six new parole commissioners, a number of whom have a history in public health and family services, rather than the typical law-enforcement careers of parole commissioners.
    The new regulations stipulated that hearings would no longer serve as a relitigation of an original crime but, rather, a reasoned consideration of an individual and their circumstances at the time of their parole hearing. Such changes are especially crucial for aging prisoners who have served lengthy sentences and pose a negligible risk of recidivism. Even some members of law enforcement also now argue for shifts towards a more presumptive parole system when aging prisoners are concerned. "Imprisoning the elderly is extremely expensive—estimated to cost between two to five times as much as a regular prisoner, and potentially costing hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. On top of that, it's ineffective," said Maj. Neill Franklin, a retired police officer and executive director of the nonprofit Law Enforcement Action Partnership. "Most people simply age out of crime as they get older, and very few people over the age of 55 constitute a public-safety risk," Franklin said.
    The PBA's letters stunt is thus best read as a scrambling reaction to a parole board no longer entirely under its thumb. "There has been a major shift in parole decisions in the past three years," Albert O'Leary, the PBA's communications director, explained. "The nature of the crime used to be the leading consideration for release, but has been reduced to the least-considered factor under changes implemented internally by DOCCS without public review or comment." It has, however, been in the parole board's guidelines since 2011 that assessments about a prisoner's current "risk and needs" be given major weight in parole considerations, rather than a focus on the nature of the original crime. New regulations simply asserted that this guideline should be upheld.
    The parole system is still mired in problems both procedural and structural. The New York State Parole Board is currently understaffed (there are seven vacancies), leading to harmful and cruel delays. That an incarcerated person will likely not be granted parole unless they admit guilt and show penance in front of the board leads to gross injustices for the many innocent individuals in prison who have exhausted their limited appeals.
    But for the parole board to both enact and assert its independence from the police union and the political power it exerts constitutes a notable and welcome shift. It's high time that the PBA's mendacious campaigns for police supremacy be met with the silence they deserve.
    NATASHA LENNARDTWITTERNatasha Lennard is a British-born, Brooklyn-based writer of news and political analysis, focusing on how power functions and how it is challenged.

    6) Rasmea Odeh Breaking the Silence in Berlin: #RasmeaSpricht #RasmeaSpeaks
    By Samidoun, Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, March 29, 2019

    On Wednesday evening, 27 March, Rasmea Odeh's voice and words were heard in Berlin, Germany, despite a harsh, repressive campaign that included yet another ban on her speaking in person issued by Berlin's Senator for the Interior. The successful event at be'kech in Berlin's Wedding district brought crowds to the space despite a large police presence; the space was so crowded that many people stayed outside to watch the event through glass windows.
    The evening marked a significant achievement for Rasmea Odeh and all those defending the right to organize and advocate for Palestine in Berlin. Despite all attempts to prevent it from taking place, Rasmea's voice was heard in Berlin and celebrated by people of conscience.
    Once again, as was the case on 15 March, when Rasmea was to join Palestinian poet and former prisoner Dareen Tatour for an evening of solidarity and celebration of Palestinian women's struggle, the venue itself was subject to harassment and threats. Another media smear campaign was launched against Rasmea along with attempts to demand that she once again be prohibited from speaking.
    On Wednesday afternoon, only hours before the event, Berlin Interior Senator Andreas Geisel, an SPD politician who had earlier declared that speaking "against the state of Israel" crossed a "red line" that justified the violation of freedom of speech, once again banned Odeh from delivering a public speech at the event. However, organizers presented a video from Odeh, ensuring that her message and her story would be able to be heard by supporters in person and everyone around the world who supports her and the struggle for justice in Palestine.
    Once again, several vans of police filled the area (although a smaller presence than that surrounding the 15 March event). They searched the crowd for Rasmea, but left partway through the event after it was clear that she was not attending in person. A claimed counter-demonstration by pro-apartheid Zionist organizations was not immediately visible, but there may have been several participants at the corner of the street.
    The moderator of the evening opened the event with a stirring call against the silencing of oppressed and marginalized people, especially Palestinian women. She noted the growing support received by the event and the campaign to defend Odeh by a number of organizations, including the Internationale Liga für Menschenrechte, which sent a statement to the organization. The event was supported by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Berlin Muslim Feminists, Bündnis gegen Rassismus, HIRAK (Palestinian Youth Mobilization, Berlin), The Coalition Berlin, Bloque Latinoamericano Berlin, Brot und Rosen international socialist women's organiation, Revolutionäre Internationalistische Organisation – Klasse Gegen Klasse, Berlin Against Pinkwashing, Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost (Jewish Voice for a Just Peace), RefrACTa Kollektiv Brasilien-Berlin, BDS Berlin and the Kali feminist collective.
    The event also included a speech by a Palestinian student on behalf of HIRAK, emphasizing that this week also marks the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return in Gaza. Just this week, Israel has been shelling Gaza, causing further destruction after taking hundreds of lives in the past year as Palestinians participated in collective, popular protests for their right to return and break the siege. She urged people to get involved in struggles here in Berlin, including Palestinian community organizing, the solidarity movement and the BDS campaign.
    The organizers next showed a video from 2013 in which Rasmea speaks about her life as a Palestinian woman. The video was made when she received the 2013 Outstanding Community Leader award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance:
    The screening was followed by a 20-minute video presentation – the main speech of the night – in which Rasmea discussed her situation in Berlin as well as presenting more broadly on Palestinian women, Palestinian prisoners and the continuing struggle for liberation. Full video coming shortly!
    As Rasmea spoke, including discussing her personal experience of torture, people in the packed room were silent, watching and listening closely to the Arabic speech and the subtitles in German and English. The conclusion of her speech was met with loud and prolonged applause and cheers as the event's moderator noted that "this is what they did not want you to hear."
    The event continued with a cultural evening featuring anti-colonial poetry by Wind Ma, a silent theater sketch by Maher Draidi of Almadina Theater, a musical performance of songs and guitar by Nicolás Miquea and a closing dabkeh performance by the Yafa Dabkeh Troupe. The event concluded with a stirring moment as people chanted together, "Viva, viva Palestina! Free, free Palestine!"
    Rasmea Odeh, born in 1947, is a lifelong struggler for Palestine and a well-known feminist organizer and activist. After surviving torture and sexual assault under interrogation by occupation forces and serving 10 years in Israeli prison, she came to the United States, where she organized over 800 women in Chicago in the Arab Women's Committee, a project of the Arab American Action Network. In 2013, she was targeted by the FBI and U.S. immigration authorities and accused of lying about her time in Israeli prison, despite the fact that it was publicly known; she even testified before a Special Committee of the United Nations about her experience under torture and imprisonment. After a years-long court battle that won widespread grassroots support, she was deported to Jordan in 2017. She was one of the initial signatories of the call for the International Women's Strike.
    After she was invited to speak in Berlin on 15 March, the U.S. ambassador (with ties to the German far right) Richard Grenell, Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan, charged with fighting Palestine solidarity and the BDS movement internationally, and the Israeli ambassador in Germany launched calls to censor her. Media propaganda falsely labeled her an "anti-Semite," when she is in reality a longtime anti-racist struggler who developed strong connections with other oppressed communities, particularly the Black liberation movement. In the U.S., Angela Davis and Jewish Voice for Peace were among her supporters. In this context, Berlin politicians yielded to the demands of Trump and Netanyahu, and when Rasmea arrived at the event location, she was given a sheaf of papers. Her Schengen visa was ordered cancelled and she was directed to leave the country; she was banned from speaking at the event.
    Most of the allegations in the documents simply restated attacks by pro-apartheid media publications, including labeling the BDS campaign "anti-Semitic". The German authorities also claimed that allowing Rasmea to speak and retain her visa would "damage the relationship between Germany and Israel." Thus, Rasmea Odeh's voice, experience and analysis was ordered suppressed and silenced through the joint complicity of the German, U.S. and Israeli governments.
    Rasmea is committed to fighting back in court. Her lawyer, Nadija Samour, said that "cancelling a visa based on what has happened so far in the past is a completely new concept from a legal point of view." However, she and her supporters are aware that this is not simply a legal question but a clear political battle that requires support from the broadest number of people in Germany and internationally.
    Supporters of Rasmea in the United States, including the US Palestinian Community Network, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Rasmea Defense Committee and many other groups have worked to support the growing campaign in Germany, and more organizations have been adding their voices to express support for Rasmea. By cancelling her Schengen visa, German officials are not only attempting to silence Rasmea's speech in Berlin but to prevent her from traveling elsewhere in Europe to speak about her experiences and her views – thus denying people across the continent the opportunity to hear from a leading transnational feminist and Palestinian organizer.
    Rasmea was ordered silenced based on a desire to stop her from sharing her words and her experience, telling her story and presenting her analysis. The U.S. government is apparently committed to chasing Rasmea around the world in order to persecute her wherever she goes; meanwhile, the Israeli state continues its intensive attack on people's right to support Palestine everywhere in the world, which has included the promotion of anti-BDS laws and falsely labeling Palestinian human rights defenders and solidarity groups as "terrorists." The German state and Berlin authorities also chose to join this campaign, issuing two separate bans in less than two weeks against Rasmea Odeh to prevent her from delivering a live speech about her experiences, her involvement in women's organizing and her view of Palestine.
    In many ways, Rasmea's case does not stand alone; in Germany, it comes alongside the Humboldt 3 case and the prosecution of activists for speaking up against war crimes, attempts to block Palestine events from taking place in any location and far-right campaigns particularly targeting migrant communities. It also comes alongside the pursuit of anti-BDS laws in the US, the use of "anti-terror" frameworks to criminalize Palestinian community work and the use of visa denial to suppress political and cultural expression, such as in Australia's recent denial of a visa to Palestinian American poet Remi Kanazi.
    In a particularly disturbing media article containing propaganda against Kanazi, pro-apartheid groups demand that Kanazi is barred for, among other things, supporting Rasmea and other Palestinian political prisoners. They also use the recent far-right, white-supremacist massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, as a justification for banning him, despite the fact that this was an attack targeting Muslims, linked to racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab propaganda, based on white supremacy, and which took the lives of a number of Palestinians specifically. It is clear that there is a global attack, backed by Erdan and the Israeli government, aimed at all Palestinians and supporters of Palestine – and especially aiming to isolate Palestinian prisoners from the international movements that continue to defend their rights.
    The campaign to defend Rasmea Odeh is not ending with this event – instead, it marks a strong beginning of a resurgent movement against the silencing of Palestinian women and for justice in Palestine. It also made it clear that Palestinian women, on the frontlines of struggle from inside Israeli prisons, to the Great Return March in Gaza to organizing for justice in Berlin, will not be silenced. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges people and organizations around the world to get involved and join this campaign by following the Facebook page, Rasmea spricht (Rasmea will speak) and sending statements of solidarity to samidoun@samidoun.net.


    7) The Secret Death Toll of America’s Drones
    By The Editorial Board, March 30, 2019

    Kevin Sudeith/Warrug.com

    The Pentagon says American airstrikes in Somalia have killed no civilians since President Trump accelerated attacks against Shabab militants there two years ago.
    Amnesty International investigated five of the more than 100 strikes carried out in Somalia since 2017 by drones and manned aircraft, and in just that small sampling found that at least 14 civilians were killed.
    The Pentagon says airstrikes by the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State killed at least 1,257 civilians in Iraq and Syria as of the end of January.
    Airwars, a university-based monitoring group, estimates that those strikes killed at least 7,500 civilians in those countries.

    Those disparities show how poorly the American public understandsthe human cost of an air war fought largely by remote-controlled drones. Drones have been the main weapon in the counterterrorism fight for more than a decade. They kill extremists without risking American lives, making combat seem antiseptic on the home front. But the number of civilians killed in these attacks is shrouded in secrecy.
    President Trump has made it even harder to lift that shroud, by allowing the Central Intelligence Agency to keep secret how many civilians are killed in the agency’s airstrikes outside of the Afghan, Iraqi and Syrian war zones — in places like Yemen, the lawless border region of Pakistan and North Africa.
    President Barack Obama aggressively expanded drone use in these airstrikes. But he eventually came to understand the need for more transparency and accountability, and, under pressure, he put some sensible safeguards in place.
    Among them was a July 2016 order requiring the government to issue annual public reports on the civilian death tolls in those areas.
    Mr. Trump revoked that order this month. His National Security Council called it superfluous because Congress had subsequently passed a law mandating that the Pentagon publicly report any civilians killed in any of its operations. But that law covered only the Pentagon, not the separate C.I.A. drone campaign, which has broadened under Mr. Trump.

    Experts say that, under President Trump, airstrikes have surged in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, as well as in Somalia. In Yemen, it is unclear to what extent the Americans, as opposed to the Saudi-Emirati coalition, are responsible. In Afghanistan, the number of American strikes that killed or injured civilians more than doubled in the first nine months of 2018 compared with the corresponding period in the previous year and killed more than 150 civilians, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
    Mr. Trump has also eroded constraints on civilian casualties.
    Since taking office, he has rescinded rules that required the military and the C.I.A. operating outside of hot battlefields like Afghanistan and Iraq to limit their targets to high-level militants rather than foot soldiers. He also, by eliminating an elaborate interagency approval process, gave military commanders more authority to order drone strikes.
    Yet, even under the previous rules, no matter how precise the weapons, how careful the planners and how skilled the fighters, mistakes, faulty intelligence, even calculated decisions often led to civilians being killed. The official data ranges from none to maddeningly vague, and the safeguards to mitigate civilian deaths are insufficient.
    The military adopted an elaborate system under the Obama administration to minimize civilian casualties, including a requirement that forces have “near certainty” that no civilian will be harmed before launching an attack. But reporting by The Times and others in 2017 showed that the Pentagon had killed far more civilians in Iraq than it acknowledged.
    The Obama administration estimated that over its two terms drone strikes had killed between 64 and 116 civilians in 542 airstrikes outside the major war zones. Micah Zenko, co-author of a new book, “Clear and Present Safety,” calculated the real tally at roughly 324.
    Drones, for all their faults, are less indiscriminate than B-52s or almost any other weapon. But they are also a seductive tool, potentially temping presidents and military commanders to inflict grave damage without sufficient forethought.
    A lack of transparency and accountability for civilian deaths helps enemies spin false narratives, makes it harder for allies to defend American actions and sets a bad example for other countries that are rapidly adding drones to their arsenals. It could also result in war crimes, as some critics have claimed.

    Congress needs to insist on better data as the Pentagon inspector general investigates civilian casualty reporting.
    There is no such thing as combat without risk. With drone combat, much of the risk falls on innocents. Americans need to understand the full cost and consequences of those risks.


    8) Inside America’s Black Box: A Rare Look at the Violence of Incarceration
    Would we fix our prisons if we could see what happens inside them?
    By Shaila Dewan, March 30, 2019

    He cut himself with razor blades and used his blood to write a plea for help.

    The contraband is scary enough: Homemade knives with grips whittled to fit particular hands. Homemade machetes. And homemade armor, with books and magazines for padding.
    Then there is the blood: In puddles. In toilets. Scrawled on the wall in desperate messages. Bloody scalps, bloody footprints, blood streaming down a cheek like tears.
    And the dead: a man kneeling like a supplicant, hands bound behind his back with white fabric strips and black laces. Another, hanging from a twisted sheet in the dark, virtually naked, illuminated by a flashlight beam.
    These were ugly scenes from inside an American prison, apparently taken as official documentation of violence and rule violations.

    Prisons are the black boxes of our society. With their vast complexes and razor wire barriers, everyone knows where they are, but few know what goes on inside. Prisoner communication is sharply curtailed — it is monitored, censored and costly. Visitation rules are strict. Office inspections are often announced in advance.
    So when prisoners go on hunger strikes or work strikes, or engage in deadly riots, the public rarely understands exactly why. How could they? Many people harbor a vague belief that whatever treatment prisoners get, they surely must deserve. It is a view perpetuated by a lack of detail.
    But some weeks ago, The New York Times received more than 2,000 photographs that evidence suggests were taken inside the St. Clair Correctional Facility in Alabama. Some show inmates as they are being treated in a cramped, cluttered examination room. Others are clinical: frontal portraits, close-ups of wounds.
    It is hard to imagine a cache of images less suitable for publication — they are full of nudity, indignity and gore. It is also hard to imagine photographs that cry out more insistently to be seen.

    As I scrolled through them, shock rose from my gut to my sternum. Was I looking at a prison, or a 19th-century battlefield? Those pictured betrayed little emotion and certainly none of the bravado broadcast by their tattoos: South Side Hot Boy, Something Serious, $elfmade.

    After considering the inmates’ privacy, audience sensibilities and our inability to provide more context for the specific incidents depicted, The Times determined that few of these photos could be published. But they could be described.
    St. Clair is known to be a deeply troubled institution in a state with an overcrowded, understaffed, antiquated prison system. Alabama has one of the country’s highest incarceration rates and, as measured by the most recent counts of homicides available, its deadliest prisons, according to a report by the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit civil rights organization in Montgomery. Suicide is epidemic as well — there have been 15 in the past 15 months
    For years there have been complaints that St. Clair inmates are heavily armed — some for self-protection — and allowed to move freely about the compound. In fact, St. Clair is more deadly now than it was in 2014, when the Equal Justice Initiative brought suit against it for failing to protect prisoners. There have been four stabbing deaths there in seven months.
    Last June, the group said the prison was failing to comply with a settlement agreement.
    Prison officials dispute that, saying the Alabama Department of Corrections is committed to improving safety and security. The department has requested money to raise salaries and increase the number of officers. Multiple law enforcement agencies recently teamed up to conduct a contraband search at St. Clair that recovered 167 makeshift weapons, said Bob Horton, a department spokesman. 
    But as of October, the prison was still severely short staffed, with more vacancies than actual officers. 
    A second lawsuit, brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy group in Montgomery, says the prisons have failed to provide adequate mental health care. (The photos show a message painted on the wall in blood, with letters about the height of a cinder block. “I ask everyone for help,” it read in part. “Mental Health won’t help.”)

    The photos were given to The Times by the S.P.L.C., which said it had received them on a thumb drive. 
    Bob Horton, a spokesman for the corrections department, said the department could not authenticate the photos. 
    But Maria Morris, a staff lawyer at the S.P.L.C., said the environment shown looked like St. Clair, and some photos had identifying information that corresponded to known inmates or showed men that the S.P.L.C. recognized as its clients (S.P.L.C. removed the identifying information before giving the images to The Times).
    The man who painted the blood on the wall, referred to in the lawsuit as M.P., had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and repeatedly tried to kill himself. He testified that he had been held in solitary confinement for six years, allowed to exercise one hour a day in ankle shackles.
    Ms. Morris has specialized in prisoner’s rights litigation for more than a decade. She hears accounts of rape, beating or stabbing on a daily basis. I asked what it was like for her to see the photographs. 
    They made it impossible, she explained, to retreat into that small, self-protective corner of her mind — the place where it was possible to imagine that her clients’ stories might not be as bad as they sounded.

    “Seeing what had been done to those people’s bodies — it just stripped away all of the numbing,” she said. “It was very painful to see that all of the suffering that I’ve been hearing about and trying to relate to the court — how deep it goes.”
    The thumb drive included a document titled “READ ME FIRST” and claiming to be from a corrections officer. It said the photos represented only a “small portion of the injuries from inmate-on-inmate violence in the past three years.”
    The writer said that the current legal agreements governing the prison stood no chance of working: “The day-to-day treatment of these men does nothing but foster anger and despair. Until major fundamental changes take place in our sentencing and housing of these men it will only continue to get worse. I can’t help but wonder if the public knows just how bad these men are treated day after day and year after year.”

    The photos show dozens of wounded men. One had been stabbed at least 10 times. Another had a hole in his lip you could stick a pencil through. A pair of handcuffed wrists displayed 15 precise slashes. There was a recurring palette of pale red and sickly, Mercurochrome yellow. One man’s back had a shiv at least an inch wide still buried in it, right between the shoulder blades.
    There were three individuals pictured in a folder called “Dead men” and seven in a folder called “Murders,” all of whom could be identified through news reports, press releases and booking photographs. 
    But most disturbing were the images that seemed to echo the most painful aspects of African-American history.

    Many convincing arguments have been made that our penal system was at least partly designed to extend control of black people and their labor, particularly in the South, where after slavery ended black men were conscripted into chain gangs for offenses like vagrancy and “selling cotton after sunset.”
    Amid the St. Clair pictures were 19 taken of a black man who was completely naked but for a pair of handcuffs, photographed from the front, back, left and right. In one frame two white officers, standing guard inches away from him, avert their eyes.
    Another image brought to mind the photos of the monstrously disfigured face of Emmett Till, the teenage victim of a 1955 lynching in Mississippi, which galvanized the civil rights movement when they were published by Jet magazine.
    Though separated by more than half a century and by a wide gulf in circumstances, the St. Clair photos showed another mutilated, African-American face, this time belonging to Emory Cook, a 54-year-old prisoner killed in a cell three years ago. Under Alabama’s harsh version of a three-strikes law, Mr. Cook had been serving a life sentence for third-degree burglary. 
    As a prisoner, he was entitled to be protected from harm. He looked like he had been hit with a plank.

    Shaila Dewan is a national reporter and editor covering criminal justice issues including prosecution, policing and incarceration. @shailadewan


    9) ‘Race-Biased Dragnet’: DNA From 360 Black Men Was Collected to Solve Vetrano Murder, Defense Lawyers Say
    By Jan Ransom and Ashley Southall, March 31, 2019
    Investigators scoured Spring Creek Park in Queens after Karina Vetrano, 30, was found strangled there in August 2016.CreditCreditDave Sanders for The New York Times

    When Karina Vetrano was found beaten and strangled in a Queens park nearly three years ago, the New York Police Department carried out one of the most intense and extensive manhunts in the agency’s recent history.
    But defense lawyers for the man charged in the killing, Chanel Lewis, are now contending that the police swept up hundreds of black men in a “race-biased dragnet” before settling on him — information they argue should have been turned over to them before trial. They said they learned only recently that the police took DNA samples from at least 360 black men who had been previously taken into custody in parts of Queens and Brooklyn.
    Six months after taking the DNA samples, investigators testified that they finally found a match in Mr. Lewis, whom detectives approached on a police lieutenant’s intuition. Mr. Lewis, now 22, confessed to the crime, though he later claimed he was coerced. His first trial ended with a hung jury.

    As Mr. Lewis’s second trial is coming to a close, his defense lawyers are raising questions about whether prosecutors withheld critical evidence about the wide genetic canvass, as well as whether the police initially suspected that two white men had killed Ms. Vetrano. The lawyers said they will file motions in State Supreme Court in Queens on Monday, seeking a hearing to determine if prosecutors hid evidence favorable to Mr. Lewis.

    The request for a last-minute hearing, which could lead to another mistrial, was the latest twist in a case that has dredged up questionsabout coerced confessions, racial profiling and the fallibility of the police. The trial has prompted a debate on social media and in the courtroom among observers who think the confession and DNA evidence is ample proof of Mr. Lewis’s guilt and others who believe that prosecutors have the wrong man.
    Mr. Lewis’s lawyers said they received an anonymous letter on Thursday from a person claiming to be a police officer. The letter, first reported in the The Daily News, said that early on in the inquiry the police were looking for “two jacked up white guys from Howard Beach” as suspects in Ms. Vetrano’s murder.
    A Police Department spokesman said it was false that investigators had suspected two white men. But a person with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was true investigators initially thought the assailants might be white and that the police later had sought saliva samples from hundreds of black men in the search for the killer.
    Mr. Lewis’s lawyers said that that information should have been turned over to them. Prosecutors are obligated under the Brady v. Maryland ruling from the United States Supreme Court to hand over evidence favorable to the accused, including police reports that cast doubt on a defendant’s guilt or witness statements that suggest someone else may have committed the crime.
    “We think it’s a big deal that merits explanation at this point,” said Richard Joselson, the supervising attorney of the criminal appeals bureau of the Legal Aid Society.

    Tina Luongo, the chief criminal defender of the Legal Aid Society, said the letter contained “case-altering information” that was “troubling.” She said the police had approached Mr. Lewis “to obtain a DNA swab as part of a race-biased dragnet.”
    The defense was aware that the police had obtained DNA from hundreds of people, but judges had denied their requests for the identities and races of the people who were tested. Ms. Vetrano’s relatives and neighbors also submitted DNA.
    A spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney’s office said prosecutors will respond to the allegation that they withheld evidence when the trial resumes on Monday.
    The police spokesman, Phillip Walzak, said the evidence proved that Mr. Lewis killed Ms. Vetrano and that the court had already ruled on the issues raised in the letter.
    Ms. Vetrano, 30, went for a late afternoon jog in Spring Creek Park in the Howard Beach section of Queens on Aug. 2, 2016. When she did not return home, her father, Philip Vetrano, a retired firefighter, called his friend and neighbor, John Cassidy, a chief in the Police Department, Mr. Vetrano testified.
    After Ms. Vetrano was found dead on a park path overgrown with weeds, an intense manhunt ensued. A task force of 100 detectives was assigned to investigate her death, according to testimony during the trial. In the end, the number of detectives on the case dropped to 10. The authorities offered a $35,000 reward for anyone with information leading to Ms. Vetrano’s killer.
    The person with knowledge of the investigation said investigators were searching for two white men for nearly two weeks until Deputy Chief Emanuel J. Katranakis, the commander of the Forensic Investigation Division, received phenotype results suggesting the DNA collected from Ms. Vetrano’s neck and from her telephone belonged to a black man.

    The next day, the chief of detectives, Robert K. Boyce, directed detectives to seek DNA samples from black men who had been arrested in the neighborhoods near the crime scene, the person said.
    Roughly 384 black men were interviewed and gave saliva samples, the source with knowledge of the investigation said, offering a number even higher than the defense lawyers suggested. The samples were entered into the Local DNA Index System, or LDIS, a database maintained by the city medical examiner’s office.
    A second person with knowledge of the investigation said that once detectives found out the DNA belonged to a black man they focused on black people who had recently been taken into custody in East New York in Brooklyn and Howard Beach and South Ozone Park in Queens. In addition, the person said, security cameras in the area did not show anyone leaving Spring Creek Park from the Queens side, leading investigators to instead focus on Brooklyn, believing the attacker had fled in that direction.
    “You’re trying to find the killer and you use your resources as intelligently as possible,” the second person said.
    Still, there was no DNA match, and the investigation stalled for six months. Then Mr. Lewis, who is black, was interviewed on the recommendation of a police lieutenant, John Russo. Months before the murder, Lieutenant Russo testified, he had spotted Mr. Lewis on two occasions “acting suspiciously” and walking slowly through Howard Beach, a predominantly white neighborhood.
    Detectives obtained a saliva sample from Mr. Lewis, who lived in East New York, Brooklyn, roughly three miles away from Howard Beach, and forensics experts said his DNA matched the traces found on Ms. Vetrano’s neck and cellphone, as well as a mixture from two of her fingernails, prosecutors said.
    Mr. Lewis at first denied he killed Ms. Vetrano, according to evidence presented at the trial. But after being in police custody for more than 11 hours, including four hours in the interrogation room, he told detectives and a Queens prosecutor in a videotaped interview that he had attacked Ms. Vetrano because he was angry that his neighbors had been playing loud music.

    He also had a hand injury the day after the slaying that a doctor said was consistent with punching someone, prosecutors said.
    Defense lawyers have argued that the police coerced the confession. Mr. Lewis, who lived with his mother and had graduated from a school for students with learning disabilities, appeared confused at times during the videotaped interview, and mumbled through some of his responses.
    Defense lawyers also sought to raise doubts about the DNA evidence, which they maintain could have ended up on Ms. Vetrano’s cellphone or neck if they had both touched the same surface at some point.



    Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com

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