bauaw2003 BAUAW NEWSLETTER, MONDAY, MAY 13, 2019


Endorsed by National CODEPINK

Organized by Answer Coalition)

Emergency Protest: 

Correction: Saturday, Noon Powell and Market Sts., S.F.

Stop the U.S. War on Venezuela!

Support Embassy Protection Collective in Washington DC!

The Trump administration is waging an economic, political and diplomatic war on Venezuela, seeking to isolate and strangle the country, while at the same time threatening a military assault on the country.  In an outrageous move, Trump on January 23 appointed a previously unknown extreme right-wing politician, the puppet Juan Guiado, as "president" of Venezuela, in place of the elected president, Nicolas Maduro. But the Venezuelan people have heroically resisted and defeated this latest attempt at U.S.-sponsored regime change.

In blatant violation of international law, the State Department has attempted to turn over the Venezuelan embassy in Washington DC to a representative of the puppet Guaido. But for weeks, a courageous group of activists, invited by the legitimate government of Venezuela, have been inside the embassy, resisting a takeover by fascist thugs aided by the U.S. Secret Service and the DC police. A number of supporters of the Embassy Protection Collective (EPC) have been assaulted by extreme right-wingers surrounding the embassy, which federal and local police have watched, only arresting defenders of the EPC.

Now, both electric power and water to the embassy have been shut off -- despite the fact that accounts for both are fully paid-up by the Venezuelan government.

Join for an emergency protest and solidarity action Tuesday, May 14, 5 pm at Powell and Market Streets (cable car turnaround). 



Chelsea Manning Released From Prison

Manning was released after being held for 62 days for refusing to testify about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.




Painting by Kevin Cooper, an innocent man on San Quentin's death row. www.freekevincooper.org

Decarcerate Louisiana

Declaration of Undersigned Prisoners 

We, the undersigned persons, committed to the care and custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections (LDOC), hereby submit the following declaration and petition bearing witness to inhumane conditions of solitary confinement in the N-1 building at the David Wade Corrections Center (DWCC). 

Our Complaint:

We, the Undersigned Persons, declare under penalty of perjury: 

1.    We, the undersigned, are currently housed in the N-1 building at DWCC, 670 Bell Hill Road, Homer, LA 71040. 

2.    We are aware that the Constitution, under the 8th Amendment, bans cruel and unusual punishments; the Amendment also imposes duties on prison officials who must provide humane conditions of confinement and ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and must take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates. 

3.    We are aware that Louisiana prison officials have sworn by LSA-R.S.15:828 to provide humane treatment and rehabilitation to persons committed to its care and to direct efforts to return every person in its custody to the community as promptly as practicable. 

4.    We are confined in a double-bunked six-by-nine foot or 54 square feet cell with another human being 22-hours-a-day and are compelled to endure the degrading experience of being in close proximity of another human being while defecating. 

5.    There are no educational or rehabilitation programs for the majority of prisoners confined in the N-1 building except for a selected few inmates who are soon to be released. 

6.    We get one hour and 30 minutes on the yard and/or gym seven days a week. Each day we walk to the kitchen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which takes about one minute to get there. We are given ten minutes to eat. 

7.    The daily planner for inmates confined in the N-1 building is to provide inmates one hour and 30 minutes on yard or gym; escort inmates to kitchen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to sit and eat for approximately ten minutes each meal; provide a ten minute shower for each cell every day; provide one ten minute phone call per week; confine prisoners in cell 22-hours-a-day. 

8.    When we are taking a shower we are threatened by guards with disciplinary reports if we are not out on time. A typical order is: "if you are not out of shower in ten minutes pack your shit and I'm sending you back to N-2, N-3, or N-4"—a more punitive form of solitary confinement. 

9.    When walking outside to yard, gym or kitchen, guards order us to put our hands behind our back or they'll write us up and send us back to N-2, N-3, N-4. 

10.  When we are sitting at the table eating, guards order us not to talk or they'll write us up and send us back to N-2, N-3, N-4. ) 

11.  Guards are harassing us every day and are threatening to write up disciplinary reports and send us back to a more punitive cellblock (N-2, N-3, N-4) if we question any arbitrary use of authority or even voice an opinion in opposition to the status quo. Also, guards take away good time credits, phone, TV, radio, canteen, and contact visits for talking too loud or not having hands behind back or for any reason they want. We are also threatened with slave labor discipline including isolation (removing mattress from cell from 5:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.,) strip cell (removing mattress and bedding and stationery from cell for ten to 30 days or longer), food loaf  (taking one's meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and mixing it all together into one big mass, bake it in oven and serve it to prisoners for punishment.)

12.  When prison guards write up disciplinary reports and transfer us to the more punitive restrictive solitary confinement in N-2, N-3, N-4 or N-5, guards then enforce an arbitrary rule that gives prisoners the ultimatum of sending all their books and personal property home or let the prison dispose of it. 

13.  Louisiana prison officials charge indigent prisoners (who earn less than four cents an hour) $3.00 for routine requests for healthcare services, $6.00 for emergency medical requests, and $2.00 for each new medical prescription. They wait until our family and friends send us money and take it to pay prisoners' medical bills. 

Our concerns:

14.  How much public monies are appropriated to the LDOC budget and specifically allotted to provide humane treatment and implement the rehabilitation program pursuant to LSA- R.S.15:828? 

15.  Why does Elayn Hunt Correctional Center located in the capitol of Louisiana have so many educational and rehabilitation programs teaching prisoners job and life skills for reentry whereas there are no such programs to engage the majority of prisoners confined in the N-1, N- 2, N-3, and N-4 solitary confinement buildings at DWCC. 

16.  It is customary for Louisiana prison officials and DWCC prison guards to tell inmates confined in the prison's cellblocks to wait until transfer to prison dormitory to participate in programs when in fact there are no such programs available and ready to engage the majority of the state's 34,000 prisoner population. The programs are especially needed for prisoners confined in a six-by-nine foot or 54 square feet cell with another person for 22-or-more-hours-per-day. 

17.  Why can't prisoners use phone and computers every day to communicate with family and peers as part of rehabilitation and staying connected to the community? 

18.  Why do prisoners have to be transferred miles and miles away from loved ones to remote correctional facilities when there are facilities closer to loved ones? 

19.  Why are prison guards allowed to treat prisoners as chattel slaves, confined in cages 22-or-more-hours-per-day, take away phone calls and visitation and canteen at will, and take away earned good time credits for any reason at all without input from family, one's peers and community? 

20.  Why do the outside communities allow prison guards to create hostile living environments and conditions of confinement that leaves prisoners in a state of chattel slavery, stress, anxiety, anger, rage, inner torment, despair, worry, and in a worse condition from when we first entered the prison? 

21.  Why do state governments and/or peers in the community allow racist or bigoted white families who reside in the rural and country parts of Louisiana to run the state's corrections system with impunity? For example, DWCC Warden Jerry Goodwin institutes racist and bigoted corrections policies and practices for the very purpose of oppression, repression, antagonizing and dehumanizing the inmates who will one day be released from prison. 

22.  David Wade Correctional Center Colonel Lonnie Nail, a bigot and a racist, takes his orders from Warden Jerry Goodwin, another racist and bigot. Both Goodwin and Nail influences subordinate corrections officers to act toward prisoners in a racist or bigoted manner and with an arrogant attitude. This creates a hostile living environment and debilitating conditions of confinement for both guards and prisoners and prevents rehabilitation of inmates.

23.  In other industrialized democracies like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, et al, it is reported that no prisoner should be declared beyond reform or redemption without first attempting to rehabilitate them. Punitive or harsh conditions of confinement are not supported because they see the loss of freedom inherent in a prison sentence as punishment enough. One Netherlands official reported that their motto is to start with the idea of "Reintegration back into society on day one" when people are locked up. "You can't make an honest argument that how someone is treated while incarcerated doesn't affect how they behave when they get out," the official added. 

24.  Additionally, some Scandinavian countries have adopted open prison programs without fences or armed guards. Prisoners who prove by their conduct that they can be trusted are placed in a prison resembling a college campus more than a prison. The result is a 20 percent recidivism rate, compared to a 67 percent rate in the United States. 

25.  The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) in a position statement says: "Prolonged (greater than 15 consecutive days) solitary confinement is cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and harmful to an individual's health."

 What We Believe: 

26.  We believe that when the greater portion of public monies goes to war and the military, this leaves little funds left for community reinvestment and human development.The people have less access to resources by which to get a better idea of human behavior and rely on higher education instead of prison to solve cultural, social, political, economic problems in the system that may put people at risk to domestic violence and crime as a way to survive and cope with shortcomings in the system. 

27.  We believe that investing public monies in the rehabilitation program LSA-R.S.15:828 to teach prisoners job and life skills will redeem inmates, instill morals, and make incarcerated people productive and fit for society. 

28.  We believe that confining inmates in cellblocks 15-or-more=hours-per-day is immoral, uncivilized, brutalizing, a waste of time and counter-productive to rehabilitation and society's goals of "promoting the general welfare" and "providing a more perfect union with justice for all." 

29.  We believe that corrections officers who prove by their actions that incarcerated people are nothing more than chattel slaves are bucking the laws and creating hardening criminals and these corrections officers are, therefore, a menace to society. 

Our Demands:

30.  We are demanding a public conversation from community activists and civil rights leaders about (1) the historic relationship between chattel slavery, the retaliatory assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and the resurrection of slavery written into the 13th Amendment; (2) the historic relationship between the 13th Amendment, the backlash against Reconstruction, Peonage, Convict Leasing, and Slavery; (3) the historic relationship between the 13th Amendment, the War Against Poverty, the War on Drugs, Criminal Justice and Prison Slavery. 

31.  We demand that the Louisiana legislature pass the Decarcerate Louisiana Anti-Slavery and Freedom Liberation Act of 2020 into law and end prison slavery and the warehousing of incarcerated people for the very purpose of repression, oppression, and using prisoners and their families and supporters as a profit center for corporate exploitation and to generate revenue to balance the budget and stimulate the state economy. 

32.  We are demanding that Warden Jerry Goodwin and Colonel Lonnie Nail step down and be replaced by people are deemed excellent public servants in good standing with human rights watchdog groups and civil rights community. 

33.  We are demanding that the LDOC provide public monies to operate state prison dormitories and cellblocks as rehabilitation centers to teach incarcerated people job and life skills five-days-a-week from 7:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. 

34.  We are demanding that the LDOC release a public statement announcing that "from this day forward it will not support punitive or harsh conditions of confinement," and that "no prisoner should be declared beyond reform or redemption without first attempting to rehabilitate them."

35.  We are demanding that the prison cellblocks be operated as open dormitories (made in part a health clinic and part college campus) so that incarcerated people can have enough space to walk around and socialize, participate in class studies, exercise, use telephone as the need arise. Prisoners are already punished by incarceration so there is no need to punish or further isolate them. Racism and abuse of power will not be tolerated. 

36.  We are demanding an end to unjust policies and practices that impose punishments and deprive incarcerated people of phone calls, visitation, canteen, good time credits, books and other personal property that pose no threat to public safety. 

37.  We are demanding that LDOC provide incarcerated people cellphones and computers to communicate with the public and stay connected to the community. 

38.  We are demanding the right to communicate with reporters to aid and assist incarcerated persons in preparing a press release to communicate to the public Decarcerate Louisiana's vision and mission statements, aims, and plans for moving forward. 

39.  We are demanding the right to participate in the U.S.-European Criminal Justice Innovation Project and share our complaint, concerns, and demands for a humane corrections program. 

40.  We are only demanding the right to enough space to create, to innovate, to excel in learning, to use scientific knowledge to improve our person and place and standing in the free world. The rule of law must support the betterment and uplifting of all humanity. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said: "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 

41.  We demand that the responsibility for prisoner medical care be removed from DOC wardens and place it under the management of the state's health office; increase state health officer staff to better monitor prisoner healthcare and oversee vendor contracts. 

42.  We have a God-given right and responsibility to resist abuse of power from the wrongdoers, to confront unjust authority and oppression, to battle for justice until we achieve our demands for liberation and freedom. 

We, the undersigned, declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. 

Executed on this 28th Day of January 2019. 

Ronald Brooks #385964 

David Johnson #84970 

Freddie Williams #598701 

Earl Hollins #729041 

James Harris #399514 

Tyrone Carter #550354 

Kerry Carter #392013 

Ivo Richardson #317371 

Rondrikus Fulton #354313 

Kentell Simmons #601717 

Jayvonte Pines #470985 

Deandre Miles #629008 

Kenneth P. #340729 

Brandon Ceaser #421453 

Tyronne Ward #330964 

Jermaine Atkins #448421 

Charles Rodgers #320513 

Steve Givens #557854 

Timothy Alfred #502378 

—wsimg.com, January 2019




ANSWER Coalition

Venezuelan Embassy stands strong

Activist-tenants vow to resist illegal eviction

Embassy is owned by Government of Venezuela and protected by international law

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People from all over the United States came to Washington, D.C. and joined together last night at the Venezuelan Embassy in a powerful demonstration of solidarity with the people of Venezuela. While banners were hung from outside the windows of the Embassy, people held a night of political education and tactical discussions. The ongoing Embassy Protection Collective continues to prevent the U.S. government from illegally seizing the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington, D.C.

The Embassy building, located in Georgetown, is owned by the Venezuelan government and is a protected international compound by the Vienna Conventions. Progressive activists have been working and living inside the Embassy as invited guests for weeks.

The Embassy Protection Collective was initiated by CODEPINK and Popular Resistance, and the ANSWER Coalition has been mobilizing support for this effort in Washington and around the country. Many ANSWER volunteers and organizers are inside the Embassy.

"The people inside this Embassy are here at the invitation of its lawful owner, the Government of Venezuela," said ANSWER's National Director Brian Becker. "The Trump administration is acting as the world's number one international pirate as it seizes Venezuelan assets, properties and diplomatic compounds. In pure colonial fashion, U.S. and European entities have grabbed hold of Venezuela's oil revenue, gold reserves and bank accounts — while openly championing the Monroe Doctrine. We are joining with the people of the world to declare that the days of the Monroe Doctrine are over."

Becker continued, "Any action to evict the Embassy's current tenant guests by the MPD, Secret Service or other police agencies would be an illegal and unlawful arrest under both D.C. and international law. What we are doing here in this Embassy is not an act of civil disobedience. International law and D.C. law are on our side. The violator of these laws — the criminal in this case — is none other than the Trump White House and the U.S. State Department."

A letter was sent last night from the Embassy Protection Collective, with the assistance of lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, to the U.S. State Department: 

Members of the Embassy Protection Collective are writing to make it expressly clear and ensure all personnel are put on notice that any arrest of persons inside the embassy would constitute an unlawful arrest. We understand from our communications with your office that you are threatening to arrest persons inside the Venezuelan embassy.

Not only are we here at the invitation of persons lawfully in charge of the premises but we are also here as people with lawful rights under Washington, DC tenancy law.

It is our intention to hold responsible any person who orders or effectuates any unlawful actions against us.

We have received no eviction notice and due process opportunity to challenge any attempted eviction as is required by law.

[VIDEO: Eyewitness Venezuela Webinar. If you missed Saturday's informative webinar with anti-war leaders and journalists, or want to re-watch it, the whole thing has been posted here. Please share with friends and family to get out the truth about Venezuela!]

Please make a donation to support the anti-war movement's ongoing work to stop the Trump administration's regime change effort against Venezuela.

Here is the address to the Venezuelan Embassy:

Embassy of Venezuela

1099 30th St NW

Washington, DC 20007

United States

Google map and directions

ANSWER Coalition

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ANSWER Coalition · United States

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New Prison and Jail Population Figures Released by U.S. Department of Justice

By yearend 2017, the United States prison population had declined by 7.3% since reaching its peak level in 2009, according to new data released by the Department of Justice. The prison population decreases are heavily influenced by a handful of states that have reduced their populations by 30% or more in recent years. However, as of yearend 2017 more than half the states were still experiencing increases in their populations or rates of decline only in the single digits. 

Analysis of the new data by The Sentencing Project reveals that: 

  • The United States remains as the world leader in its rate of incarceration, locking up its citizens at 5-10 times the rate of other industrialized nations. At the current rate of decline it will take 75 years to cut the prison population by 50%.
  • The population serving life sentences is now at a record high. One of every seven individuals in prison – 206,000 – is serving life.
  • Six states have reduced their prison populations by at least 30% over the past two decades – Alaska, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.  
  • The rate of women's incarceration has been rising at a faster rate than men's since the 1980s, and declines in recent years have been slower than among men.
  • Racial disparities in women's incarceration have changed dramatically since the start of the century. Black women were incarcerated at 6 times the rate of white women in 2000, while the 2017 figure is now 1.8 times that rate. These changes have been a function of both a declining number of black women in prison and a rising number of white women. For Hispanic women, the ratio has changed from 1.6 times that of white women in 2000 to 1.4 times in 2017. 

The declines in prison and jail populations reported by the Department of Justice today are encouraging, but still fall far short of what is necessary for meaningful criminal justice reform. In order to take the next step in ending mass incarceration policymakers will need to scale back excessive sentencing for all offenses, a key factor which distinguishes the U.S. from other nations. 

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[Note: China's population is 1,419,147,756* as of April 26, 2019 with 1,649,804 in prison***; while the population of the USA is 328,792,291 as of April 27, 2019** with 2,121,600 in prison.*** 






"This is a people's victory"  Pam Africa.

Who would ever think that we would see this headline, in our lifetime.  This is the press release up on the Philadelphia District Attorney's website posted minutes ago.

The path to freedom is going to be hard and long, but we are on it.  When We Fight, We Win,

Noelle Hanrahan, P.I. Prison Radio

Mumia Abu-Jamal

See below: 

Statement: Philadelphia District Attorney's Office withdraws appeal in Mumia Abu-Jamal case 



Contact: Ben Waxman

PHILADELPHIA (April 17th, 2019) — Today the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office withdrew its recent appeal of an opinion granting a re-hearing of some previously decided issues in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. We withdrew the appeal because the opinion we appealed has been modified consistent with our primary concern — -that ruling's effect on many other cases.

By way of background, Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of the murder of a young police officer, Daniel Faulkner, that occurred on December 9, 1981. Even after Maureen Faulkner, the wife of the victim, chose not to continue seeking the death penalty several years ago in hopes of closure, the case has evoked polarizing rhetoric and continues to assume a symbolic importance for many that is distinct from the factual and often technical legal issues involved in the case.

The technical issue at stake here is simply whether or not some decided issues need to be re-heard by a Pennsylvania appellate court due to one former judge's having worn two hats — -the hat of an apparently impartial appellate judge deciding Abu-Jamal's case after he earlier wore the hat of a chief prosecutor in the same case. Although the issue is technical, it is also an important cautionary tale on the systemic problems that flow from a judge's failing to recuse where there is an appearance of bias.

Justice Castille did not recuse himself before deciding appeals in the Abu-Jamal case and several others, including the Williams case. In the Williams case, the United States Supreme Court decided that Castille should have recused himself because of the role he took as a chief prosecutor in Mr. Williams's matter. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered that Mr. Williams's appeal be re-heard by the Pennsylvania appeals judges, without the taint of Castille's participation.

A similar question of Castille's role exists in the Abu-Jamal case. In order to help resolve it, our Office exhaustively searched hundreds of file boxes in relation to the Mumia Abu-Jamal matter, including six previously undisclosed boxes (now turned over to the defense, as required by law). While we did not find any document establishing the same level of involvement by Castille in the Abu-Jamal case as in the Williams case, we did find (and turned over) a June, 1990 letter from then-District Attorney Castille to then-Governor Robert Casey, urging that the Governor issue death warrants, especially in cases involving people who have killed police, in order to "send a clear and dramatic message to all police killers that the death penalty actually means something." Although the letter does not mention Mr. Abu-Jamal or his case by name, at the time Justice Castille wrote to Governor Casey, there were only three cases involving people who had been convicted of killing police that were pending. One was Mr. Abu-Jamal's.

In the end, the trial-level judge considering this issue wrote an opinion that agreed with us that these indications of strong feelings on the part of Justice Castille did not rise to the level of the direct and active involvement Justice Castille took in the Williams case but went further, deciding there should be a re-hearing of Abu-Jamal's decided issues anyway, based on more general principles of judges needing to recuse to avoid the appearance of bias.

We appealed, making it extremely clear in our court papers that our primary concern was with the overly broad language of the opinion and its potentially devastating effect on hundreds of long settled cases, decades after their cases were resolved, including its hurtful effect on victims and survivors. We highlighted our concern with the overly broad language of that opinion in five specific respects and specifically noted that we would re-consider appealing if the trial-level court issued another decision addressing the concerns we raised.

Although the judge was not required to do so, on March 27 he issued another decision that addressed the concerns we raised. The judge made clear that his opinion should not be read to mean that several hundreds of cases were disturbed — -it should be applied only to people convicted of killing police officers whose cases were in the District Attorney's Office while Castille was District Attorney (the category of cases Castille highlighted in his June 1990 letter to Casey). Given that the trial-level court has now addressed the concerns that led us to appeal in the first place, we have withdrawn the appeal.

Our decision to withdraw the appeal does not mean Mr. Abu-Jamal will be freed or get a new trial. It means that he will have the appeals that Justice Castille participated in deciding reconsidered by a new group of appellate court judges, untainted by former Chief Justice Castille participating in their decision. The trial-level judge has ordered the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and the defense to re-submit the legal briefs done in the past (which were written under prior administrations), effectively setting the clock back to where it was in the past.

The result will be that long-settled convictions in other cases will not be disturbed and that decisions made by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on the legal issues raised decades ago in the Abu-Jamal matter will no longer be tainted by the appearance of bias.  ===========end press release====================

Cuando luchamos, ganamos. When We fight, we win. 

Noelle Hanrahan

Director, Prison Radio

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PO Box 411074

San Francisco, CA


Stock or legacy gifts:

Noelle Hanrahan



Funds for Kevin Cooper


For 34 years, an innocent man has been on death row in California. 

Kevin Cooper was wrongfully convicted of the brutal 1983 murders of the Ryen family and houseguest. The case has a long history of police and prosecutorial misconduct, evidence tampering, and numerous constitutional violations including many incidences of the prosecution withholding evidence of innocence from the defense. You can learn more here . 

In December 2018 Gov. Brown ordered  limited DNA testing and in February 2019, Gov. Newsom ordered additional DNA testing. Meanwhile, Kevin remains on Death Row at San Quentin Prison. 

The funds raised will be used to help Kevin purchase art supplies for his paintings . Additionally, being in prison is expensive, and this money would help Kevin pay for stamps, paper, toiletries, supplementary food, and/or phone calls.

Please help ease the daily struggle of an innocent man on death row!



Don't extradite Assange!

To the government of the UK

Julian Assange, through Wikileaks, has done the world a great service in documenting American war crimes, its spying on allies and other dirty secrets of the world's most powerful regimes, organisations and corporations. This has not endeared him to the American deep state. Both Obama, Clinton and Trump have declared that arresting Julian Assange should be a priority. We have recently received confirmation [1] that he has been charged in secret so as to have him extradited to the USA as soon as he can be arrested. 

Assange's persecution, the persecution of a publisher for publishing information [2] that was truthful and clearly in the interest of the public - and which has been republished in major newspapers around the world - is a danger to freedom of the press everywhere, especially as the USA is asserting a right to arrest and try a non-American who neither is nor was then on American soil. The sentence is already clear: if not the death penalty then life in a supermax prison and ill treatment like Chelsea Manning. The very extradition of Julian Assange to the United States would at the same time mean the final death of freedom of the press in the West. 

The courageous nation of Ecuador has offered Assange political asylum within its London embassy for several years until now. However, under pressure by the USA, the new government has made it clear that they want to drive Assange out of the embassy and into the arms of the waiting police as soon as possible. They have already curtailed his internet and his visitors and turned the heating off, leaving him freezing in a desolate state for the past few months and leading to the rapid decline of his health, breaching UK obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights. Therefore, our demand both to the government of Ecuador and the government of the UK is: don't extradite Assange to the US! Guarantee his human rights, make his stay at the embassy as bearable as possible and enable him to leave the embassy towards a secure country as soon as there are guarantees not to arrest and extradite him. Furthermore, we, as EU voters, encourage European nations to take proactive steps to protect a journalist in danger. The world is still watching.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/16/us/politics/julian-assange-indictment-wikileaks.html

[2] https://theintercept.com/2018/11/16/as-the-obama-doj-concluded-prosecution-of-julian-assange-for-publishing-documents-poses-grave-threats-to-press-freedom/




Chelsea Manning denied release from jail

chelsea manning

Yesterday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to keep Chelsea Manning jailed for contempt of court. Chelsea has been jailed since March 8th for refusing to collaborate with the grand jury investigating Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. "While disappointing, we can still raise issues as the government continues to abuse the grand jury process. I don't have anything to contribute to this, or any other grand jury. While I miss home, they can continue to hold me in jail, with all the harmful consequences that brings. I will not give up. Thank you all so very much for your love and solidarity through letters and contributions," shared Chelsea. She faces another 16.5 months in jail. Donate to Chelsea's legal defense here. Write her a letter at: Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, A0181426, William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center, 2001 Mill Road, Alexandria, VA 22314.


484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559

www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



Words of Wisdom

Louis Robinson Jr., 77

Recording secretary for Local 1714 of the United Auto Workers from 1999 to 2018, with the minutes from a meeting of his union's retirees' chapter.

"One mistake the international unions in the United States made was when Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. When he did that, the unions could have brought this country to a standstill. All they had to do was shut down the truck drivers for a month, because then people would not have been able to get the goods they needed. So that was one of the mistakes they made. They didn't come together as organized labor and say: "No. We aren't going for this. Shut the country down." That's what made them weak. They let Reagan get away with what he did. A little while after that, I read an article that said labor is losing its clout, and I noticed over the years that it did. It happened. It doesn't feel good."

[On the occasion of the shut-down of the Lordstown, Ohio GM plant March 6, 2019.]




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



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



Racism-Antiracism Board Game 

Dear Friends,                                                                   May 1, 2019

                       I have just produced this game. Race for Solidarityit is now available   at:  https://www.thegamecrafter.com/ .   An exciting board game of chance, empathy and wisdom, that entertains and educates as it builds solidarity through learning about the destructive history of American racism and those who have always fought back.   I  had hoped the game would be less expensive and  have done all I could to lower the price by taking the minimum of $1 for each game sold,  to be spent on promotion and publicity.  The price could be reduced by $10, but would sacrifice the historical richness of the over 200 cards.

                       Would you be so kind as to send this message to your friends via, E mail, Facebook etc?  Those in the field of education could be very interested.   If you have any suggestions on ways to help me promote this game please let me know.  Thank you.

In Solidarity,

Nayvin Gordon                 gordonnayvin@yahoo.com























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







To: Indiana Department of Corrections

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

Petition Text

1. IDOC regulation 02-01-101-VIII must be respected! Kevin Johnson (IDOC# 264847) must be allowed to select from his property the items that he most immediately needs. He has been left without any of the material he requires for contacting his loved ones, his writing (this includes books), his pending litigation, and for his artwork. 

2. Kevin Johnson (IDOC# 264847) should be released into General Population. Prolonged solitary confinement is internationally recognized as a form of torture. Moreover, he has not committed any infractions.

Why is this important?

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson (IDOC# 264847) – a Virginia prisoner – was transferred to Indiana on November 4. His transfer was authorized under the Interstate Corrections Compact, commonly used to ship prisoners out of state. Virginia is one of several states that make use of this practice as a tool to repress and isolate prisoners who speak up for their rights.

These transfers are extremely disruptive, and serve as an opportunity for prison officials to violate prisoners' rights, especially regarding their property. This is exactly what has been done to Rashid.

Rashid has 24 boxes of personal property. These are all of his possessions in the world. Much of these 24 boxes consist of legal documents and research materials, including materials directly related to pending or anticipated court cases, and his list of addresses and phone numbers of media contacts, human rights advocates, outside supporters, and friends.

At Pendleton Correctional Facility, where Rashid is now being kept prisoner and in solitary confinement, only one guard is in charge of the property room. This is very unusual, as the property room is where all of the prisoners' belongings that are not in their cells are kept. The guard in charge, Dale Davis, has a dubious reputation. Prisoners complain that property goes missing, and their requests to access their belongings – that by law are supposed to be met within 7 days, or if there are court deadlines within 24 hours – are often ignored, answered improperly, or what they receive does not correspond to what they have asked for.

Despite having a need for legal and research documents for pending and anticipated court cases, his requests to receive his property have not been properly answered. The property officer, Dale Davis, is supposed to inventory the prisoners' property with them (and a witness) present, according to IDOC regulation 02-01-101-VIII; this was never done. When Rashid did receive some property, it was a random selection of items unrelated to what he asked for, brought to the segregation unit in a box and a footlocker and left in an insecure area where things could be stolen or tampered with.

On December 19th, Rashid received notice that Davis had confiscated various documents deemed to be "security threat group" or "gang" related from his property. Rashid has no idea what these might be, as (contrary to the prison regulations) he was not present when his property was gone through. Rashid does not know how much or how little was confiscated, or what the rationale was for its being described as "gang" related. None of Rashid's property should be confiscated or thrown out under any circumstances, but it is worth noting that the way in which this has been done contravenes the prison's own regulations and policies!

Dale Davis has been an IDOC property officer for 8 years. He has boasted about how he does not need any oversight or anyone else working with him, even though it is very unusual for just one person to have this responsibility. Prisoners' property goes "missing" or is tampered with, and prisoners' rights – as laid out by the Indiana Department of Corrections – are not being respected.

Rashid is not asking to have all of his property made available to him in his cell. He is willing to accept only having access to some of it at a time, for instance as he needs it to prepare court documents or for his research and writing. 

After two months in Indiana, he has still not been supplied with his documents containing the phone numbers and addresses of his loved ones and supporters, effectively sabotaging his relationships on the outside. Rashid is not asking for any kind of special treatment, he is only asking for the prison property room to follow the prison's own rules.

We ask that you look into this, and make sure that Mr. Johnson's right to access his property is being respected, and that something be done about the irregularities in the Pendleton property room. We ask that the rules of the Indiana Department of Corrections be respected.

Sign the petition here:



you can also hear a recent interview with Rashid on Final Straw podcast here: https://thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org/post/tag/kevin-rashid-johnson/

Write to Rashid:

Kevin Rashid Johnson's writings and artwork have been widely circulated. He is the author of a book,Panther Vision: Essential Party Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, Minister of Defense, New Afrikan Black Panther Party, (Kersplebedeb, 2010).

Kevin Johnson D.O.C. No. 264847

G-20-2C Pendleton Correctional Facility

4490 W. Reformatory Rd.

Pendleton, IN 46064-9001




Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg

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

Keith H. Washington
TDC# 1487958
McConnell Unit
3001 S. Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78102

Friends, it's time to get Malik out of solitary confinement.

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

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

Phone zap on Tuesday, November 13

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


- Convene special review of Malik's placement in Ad-Seg and immediately release him back to general population

- Explain why the State Classification Committee's decision to release Malik from Ad-Seg back in June was overturned (specifically, demand to know the nature of the "information" supposedly collected by the Fusion Center, and demand to know how this information was investigated and verified).

- Immediately cease all harassment and retaliation against Malik, especially strip searches and mail censorship!

Who to contact:

TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier

Phone: (936)295-6371

Senior Warden Philip Sinfuentes (McConnell Unit)

Phone: (361) 362-2300


Background on Malik's Situation

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

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

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



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

By Michael Barbaro, May 30, 2018


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

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

On today's episode:

• Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row at San Quentin State Prison in California for three decades.



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

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

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

NO ESTÁN SOLOS (You are not alone).

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

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

While we were honored to offer on-the-ground support we see the potential to focus the energy of our Drop the MIC campaign into fighting against this injustice, to have an even greater impact. Here's how:

  1. Call out General Dynamics for profiteering of War, Militarization of the Border and Child and Family Detention (look for our social media toolkit this week);
  2. Create speaking forums and produce media that challenges the narrative of ICE and Jeff Sessions, encouraging troops who have served in the borderlands to speak out about that experience;
  3. Continue to show up and demand we demilitarize the border and abolish ICE.

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

In Solidarity,

Ramon Mejia

Field Organizer, About Face: Veterans Against the War

P.O. Box 3565, New York, NY 10008. All Right Reserved. | Unsubscribe

To ensure delivery of About Face emails please add webmaster@ivaw.org to your address book.



Major George Tillery




April 25, 2018-- The arrest of two young men in Starbucks for the crime of "sitting while black," and the four years prison sentence to rapper Meek Mill for a minor parole violation are racist outrages in Philadelphia, PA that made national news in the past weeks. Yesterday Meek Mills was released on bail after a high profile defense campaign and a Pa Supreme Court decision citing evidence his conviction was based solely on a cop's false testimony.

These events underscore the racism, frame-up, corruption and brutality at the core of the criminal injustice system. Pennsylvania "lifer" Major Tillery's fight for freedom puts a spotlight on the conviction of innocent men with no evidence except the lying testimony of jailhouse snitches who have been coerced and given favors by cops and prosecutors.

Sex for Lies and Manufactured Testimony

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

Homicide detectives and prosecutors threatened Claitt with a false unrelated murder charge, and induced him to lie with promises of little or no jail time on over twenty pending felonies, and being released from jail despite a parole violation. In addition, homicide detectives arranged for Claitt, while in custody, to have private sexual liaisons with his girlfriends in police interview rooms.

In May and June 2016, Emanuel Claitt gave sworn statements that his testimony was a total lie, and that the homicide cops and the prosecutors told him what to say and coached him before trial. Not only was he coerced to lie that Major Tillery was a shooter, but to lie and claim there were no plea deals made in exchange for his testimony. He provided the information about the specific homicide detectives and prosecutors involved in manufacturing his testimony and details about being allowed "sex for lies". In August 2016, Claitt reaffirmed his sworn statements in a videotape, posted on YouTube and on JusticeforMajorTillery.org.

Without the coerced and false testimony of Claitt there was no evidence against Major Tillery. There were no ballistics or any other physical evidence linking him to the shootings. The surviving victim's statement naming others as the shooters was not allowed into evidence.

The trial took place in May 1985 during the last days of the siege and firebombing of the MOVE family Osage Avenue home in Philadelphia that killed 13 Black people, including 5 children. The prosecution claimed that Major Tillery was part of an organized crime group, and falsely described it as run by the Nation of Islam. This prejudiced and inflamed the majority white jury against Tillery, to make up for the absence of any evidence that Tillery was involved in the shootings.

This was a frame-up conviction from top to bottom. Claitt was the sole or primary witness in five other murder cases in the early 1980s. Coercing and inducing jailhouse informants to falsely testify is a standard routine in criminal prosecutions. It goes hand in hand with prosecutors suppressing favorable evidence from the defense.

Major Tillery has filed a petition based on his actual innocence to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Larry Krasner's Conviction Review Unit. A full review and investigation should lead to reversal of Major Tillery's conviction. He also asks that the DA's office to release the full police and prosecution files on his case under the new  "open files" policy. In the meantime, Major Tillery continues his own investigation. He needs your support.

Major Tillery has Fought his Conviction and Advocated for Other Prisoners for over 30 Years

The Pennsylvania courts have rejected three rounds of appeals challenging Major Tillery's conviction based on his innocence, the prosecution's intentional presentation of false evidence against him and his trial attorney's conflict of interest. On June 15, 2016 Major Tillery filed a new post-conviction petition based on the same evidence now in the petition to the District Attorney's Conviction Review Unit. Despite the written and video-taped statements from Emanuel Claitt that that his testimony against Major Tillery was a lie and the result of police and prosecutorial misconduct, Judge Leon Tucker dismissed Major Tillery's petition as "untimely" without even holding a hearing. Major Tillery appealed that dismissal and the appeal is pending in the Superior Court.

During the decades of imprisonment Tillery has advocated for other prisoners challenging solitary confinement, lack of medical and mental health care and the inhumane conditions of imprisonment. In 1990, he won the lawsuit, Tillery v. Owens, that forced the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) to end double celling (4 men to a small cell) at SCI Pittsburgh, which later resulted in the closing and then "renovation" of that prison.

Three years ago Major Tillery stood up for political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and demanded prison Superintendent John Kerestes get Mumia to a hospital because "Mumia is dying."  For defending Mumia and advocating for medical treatment for himself and others, prison officials retaliated. Tillery was shipped out of SCI Mahanoy, where Mumia was also held, to maximum security SCI Frackville and then set-up for a prison violation and a disciplinary penalty of months in solitary confinement. See, Messing with Major by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Major Tillery's federal lawsuit against the DOC for that retaliation is being litigated. Major Tillery continues as an advocate for all prisoners. He is fighting to get the DOC to establish a program for elderly prisoners.

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:

Well-known criminal defense attorney Stephen Patrizio represents Major pro bonoin challenging his conviction. More investigation is underway. We can't count on the district attorney's office to make the findings of misconduct against the police detectives and prosecutors who framed Major without continuing to dig up the evidence.

Major Tillery is now 67 years old. He's done hard time, imprisoned for almost 35 years, some 20 years in solitary confinement in max prisons for a crime he did not commit. He recently won hepatitis C treatment, denied to him for a decade by the DOC. He has severe liver problems as well as arthritis and rheumatism, back problems, and a continuing itchy skin rash. Within the past couple of weeks he was diagnosed with an extremely high heartbeat and is getting treatment.

Major Tillery does not want to die in prison. He and his family, daughters, sons and grandchildren are fighting to get him home. The newly filed petition for Conviction Review to the Philadelphia District Attorney's office lays out the evidence Major Tillery has uncovered, evidence suppressed by the prosecution through all these years he has been imprisoned and brought legal challenges into court. It is time for the District Attorney's to act on the fact that Major Tillery is innocent and was framed by police detectives and prosecutors who manufactured the evidence to convict him. Major Tillery's conviction should be vacated and he should be freed.

Major Tillery and family


    Financial Support—Tillery's investigation is ongoing. He badly needs funds to fight for his freedom.

    Go to JPay.com;

    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:

    The Conviction Review Unit should investigate Major Tillery's case. He is innocent. The only evidence at trial was from lying jail house informants who now admit it was false.

    Call: 215-686-8000 or

    Write to:

    Security Processing Center

    Major Tillery AM 9786

    268 Bricker Road

    Bellefonte, PA 16823

    For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org


    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com

    Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com





    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!

    Art by Leonard Peltier

    Write to:

    Leonard Peltier 89637-132

    USP Coleman 1,  P.O. Box 1033

    Coleman, FL 33521



    Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 

    Charity for the Wealthy!





    1) She Stopped to Help Migrants on a Texas Highway. Moments Later, She Was Arrested.

    By Manny Fernandez, May 10, 2019


    A Border Patrol agent on patrol in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. Four volunteers with a nonprofit were convicted after leaving water and canned food for migrants hiking through the area.CreditCreditMichael Benanav for The New York Times

    MCALLEN, Tex. — Teresa L. Todd pulled over one recent night on a dark West Texas highway to help three young Central American migrants who had flagged her down. Ms. Todd — an elected official, government lawyer and single mother in a desert border region near Big Bend National Park — said she went into "total mom mode" when she saw the three siblings, one of whom appeared to be very ill.

    Struggling to communicate using her broken Spanish, Ms. Todd told the three young people to get out of the cold and into her car. She was phoning and texting friends for help when a sheriff's deputy drove up, followed soon by the Border Patrol. "They asked me to step behind my car, and the supervisor came and started Mirandizing me," said Ms. Todd, referring to being read her Miranda rights. "And then he says that I could be found guilty of transporting illegal aliens, and I'm, like, 'What are you talking about?"

    Ms. Todd spent 45 minutes in a holding cell that night. Federal agents obtained a search warrant to examine her phone, and she became the focus of an investigation that could lead to federal criminal charges.

    As the Trump administration moves on multiple fronts to shut down illegal border crossings, it has also stepped up punitive measures targeting private citizens who provide compassionate help to migrants — "good Samaritan" aid that is often intended to save lives along a border that runs through hundreds of miles of remote terrain that can be brutally unforgiving.

    Earlier this year, federal agents raided the home of a volunteer who provides meals, housing and other aid to migrants in the Texas border city of Brownsville. In Arizona, four volunteers with No More Deaths, a nonprofit based in Tucson, were convicted on misdemeanor criminal charges after leaving water and canned food for migrants hiking through the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. Five other volunteers also faced charges, including one felony case now pending in Federal District Court in Tucson.

    "I honestly don't feel like I ever did anything wrong: I stopped to help some kids," said Ms. Todd, 53, who serves as both the city attorney of Marfa, Tex., and the county attorney of Jeff Davis County, an elected position. "It's been pretty transformative for me, to be perfectly honest. To have devoted my life to public service, and then to be Mirandized, detained and investigated as if I'm a human smuggler. The whole thing was really, really, very surreal. It was like a 'Twilight Zone.'"

    Teresa L. Todd was detained by Border Patrol agents after pulling over to help a group of migrants in Texas. "I honestly don't feel like I ever did anything wrong," she said.CreditJessica Lutz for The New York Times

    Ms. Todd has not been charged with a crime, though the three migrants from El Salvador were held for some time as material witnesses, suggesting that federal prosecutors were contemplating using them in a criminal case against her. A spokesman for the Border Patrol said the incident remains "an active case," but declined further comment, as did the United States attorney's office.

    Federal agents at the border in some cases work closely with nonprofit shelters and volunteers to coordinate housing and transportation logistics for migrants in border cities who have recently been released from Border Patrol custody. But often, volunteers who aid illegal border crossers before they are in custody are treated far differently.

    For Ms. Todd, it started at about 10 p.m. on Feb. 27, just outside the funky desert community of Marfa. Ms. Todd was busy that night: She had attended a planning and zoning meeting at Marfa City Hall, had a late dinner at the Hotel Saint George and was driving back home to nearby Fort Davis. Suddenly, a young man in a white shirt ran out of a ditch and started waving at her.

    "I have two teenage boys," Ms. Todd said. "I have a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old, and he looks about the same size as my 15-year-old son, and so I literally think, 'Oh my God, it's like this kid on the side of the road.' I turn around and go back, because I can't leave a kid on the side of the road."

    He was a bit older than a teenager, she learned, as he and his siblings started telling her what had happened.

    The three Salvadoran migrants were a family — Carlos, 22, his brother, Francisco, 20, and their sister, Esmeralda, 18. They had fled their home country years ago and were living with an aunt in Guatemala. Worsening gang violence forced them to leave — two of Carlos's friends were murdered, and a gang leader wanted Esmeralda to be his girlfriend, according to court documents. The trio headed for the United States and crossed the border in a remote stretch of desert with a group of migrants and smugglers. But Esmeralda became sick and had trouble keeping up.

    The others in the group pushed ahead, but her brothers stayed by her side. The three of them became lost as they hiked north, and they ran out of food and water, according to statements they provided to the federal public defender's office. Esmeralda's condition had worsened by the time they flagged down Ms. Todd.

    "I can tell she needs immediate medical attention," Ms. Todd recalled. "She's having a really hard time walking."

    She had the siblings get in her car and started to contact friends — one who works for a refugee services nonprofit and another who is a lawyer for the Border Patrol.

    Moments later, a sheriff's deputy from neighboring Presidio County pulled up behind her, lights flashing. The deputy and Ms. Todd know one another, but he was immediately suspicious, she said, asking whether she thought the migrants' backpacks smelled like dope. The deputy alerted Border Patrol, whose agents read Ms. Todd her rights.

    Ms. Todd, who routinely puts misdemeanor lawbreakers behind bars as a county attorney, was put in a holding cell at a nearby Border Patrol station. Her purse and other personal items were confiscated.

    "I walk in and a guy says, 'Are you the driver?' I said, 'No, I'm the lady who stopped to help these kids,'" Ms. Todd said. "They seemed to think there was something very nefarious going on, when I literally got flagged down on the side of the road and tried to be a good Samaritan."

    She was held in a large holding cell for about 45 minutes, and then released and driven back to her car, which was still on the side of the highway. She had been detained for a total of about three hours.

    Days later, back at work at Marfa City Hall, she was visited at her office by an agent with federal Homeland Security Investigations and a Texas Ranger. The federal agent handed her a search warrant for her phone, and she surrendered it. One of the friends she had texted that night told Ms. Todd that agents had also questioned her and examined her phone.

    The three migrants Ms. Todd had helped are now in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in El Paso and could face deportation. "All three remain in ICE custody pending disposition of their immigration cases," an ICE spokeswoman said in a statement.

    The episode has both angered and perplexed Ms. Todd and her friends and co-workers in Jeff Davis County. William Kitts, the Jeff Davis sheriff and a county government colleague of Ms. Todd's, said numerous residents have assisted migrants, providing them with water or giving them a ride to his office. None have been prosecuted, and Sheriff Kitts said Ms. Todd shouldn't be tried, either.

    The sheriff said he believes that Esmeralda would have died had Ms. Todd not stopped to help her. According to court records, she was taken by Border Patrol agents to Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine, Tex., and was treated for four days for starvation, dehydration, infected wounds from cactus spines and rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure.

    "Harboring is a big jump for them to make in my book," Sheriff Kitts said of the threatened criminal charges against Ms. Todd. "There's a human component to this. We'll let Congress and the politicians fight it out, but if somebody's hungry or thirsty or needs some help, we're going to help them."

    Kenneth Magidson, who served as the top federal prosecutor in Houston and in the South Texas border region from 2011 to 2017, said the government has begun taking "a harsher approach" to prosecuting such cases since President Trump took office. "Providing drinks of water or someone needs immediate medical assistance and you take them to a hospital — you're stretching it," he said. "You have to look at the entire context of the case. Was it at the person's house? Were they spending the night? It's more than just giving somebody on the side of the road some water."

    Ms. Todd said she plans to work with her congressional representatives on legislation exempting good Samaritans from federal prosecution.

    "There is something bigger at stake than just me here, because this does send a message to try to chill people from helping others," Ms. Todd said.

    One day last week, she received one good surprise: The authorities returned her iPhone. "They took it at 11:30 in the morning and said I would have it back by 3 in the afternoon, 5 at the latest," she said. "And 53 days later, I got my phone back."



    2) Venezuelan Embassy's Power Cut Off in Tense Washington Standoff

    By Patricia Mazzel and Zach Montague, May 9, 2019


    Greisy Correa, left, and Michelle Valoz outside the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.CreditCreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

    A chaotic political standoff with international diplomatic implications began unfolding quietly weeks ago on a leafy side street in the upscale Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, as a group of American activists moved into the five-story Venezuelan Embassy and made themselves at home.

    They were there, they said, to keep the United States from going to war.

    With some 100 Venezuelan diplomats still working inside during the day, the activists from Code Pink and other antiwar groups brought their things to spend the night, sleeping on couches to keep the building occupied around the clock. They said they were guests, invited by the government of President Nicolás Maduro, and their mission was to oppose any American military intervention in the troubled South American nation.

    Appointees of Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader recognized by the United States and some 50 other countries as Venezuela's interim president, had pledged to take over the embassy, a move those now occupying the facility fear could lead to a reciprocal siege of the American Embassy in Venezuela, and an armed conflict.

    Late last month, local Venezuelans who support Mr. Guaidó learned of the occupation and descended on the building, demanding that the activists, whom they view as unlawful trespassers, get out.

    In the ensuing days, tense clashes between the occupiers and the Venezuelans, who are camped in tents surrounding the building, have escalated, prompting nine arrests by the Secret Service. Late on Wednesday, the power company shut off electricity to the embassy, thrusting its occupants into darkness. The protesters outside cheered.

    The extraordinary stalemate has challenged local authorities and the Trump administration, turning the inoperative embassy into a stand-in for the much larger crisis vexing Venezuela, as Mr. Maduro's supporters maintain control in spite of efforts by the opposition and the United States.

    "We are in a lawless kind of situation," said Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of Code Pink.

    The occupying groups, which call themselves the Embassy Protection Collective, plan to rally outside of the building on Saturday. The gathering seems likely to also draw out more Venezuelans to demonstrate in opposition.

    The antiwar activists have been alone in the embassy building since late April, when the American visas for the shoestring embassy staff expired, forcing the diplomats to go home.

    Ms. Benjamin said she is trying to preserve the peace until a neutral third party, such as the government of Switzerland, takes over the embassy. Mr. Guaidó's supporters insist they are not making a case for American military intervention in Venezuela, but only want the Americans to leave a building that does not belong to them.

    "I do not support U.S. intervention, which is why I'm even more upset about the situation," said Dilianna Bustillos, 30, a senior manager at Oracle who has been outside the embassy for eight days. "I think it's hypocritical for an American group of people to be against intervention and then be in our embassy squatting."

    The occupiers have filled windows in the upper floors with block-letter posters spelling out "COUP FAIL." Washington police and the Secret Service have set up a barrier separating the pro-Guaidó camp from Maduro sympathizers and other activists across the street.

    The former ambassador is long gone, recalled months ago by Mr. Maduro. Even before the rest of the diplomats left, the embassy had stopped providing services like passport renewals. Carlos Vecchio, the ambassador named by Mr. Guaidó and recognized by the White House, has showed up at the embassy steps twice in the past week, but has not been let in.

    Francisco Márquez, Mr. Vecchio's political adviser, said that once the United States recognized Mr. Guaidó as Venezuela's constitutional leader, those inside the embassy lost their legitimacy as guests of Mr. Maduro. The State Department has also said it considers their presence to be "unauthorized."

    "There's no doubt of who has authority over the embassy," Mr. Márquez said. "We literally have foreigners trespassing on Venezuelan territory. They're actually committing a crime."

    No one has gone in to forcibly remove anyone. Ms. Benjamin said doing so would violate an international treaty that protects the sovereignty of diplomatic missions. Mr. Márquez said the treaty applies to the recognized government in question — that is, Mr. Guaidó's — and would not protect Code Pink and the other groups.

    When Pepco, the power utility, sent an employee to go into a manhole on Wednesday night and cut the building's electricity, Ms. Benjamin questioned whether Pepco had faced political pressure from the Trump administration. She said the electrical bill has been paid through the end of May.

    Mr. Márquez said Pepco acted after Mr. Vecchio reached out to the utility and explained the situation. Ben Armstrong, a Pepco spokesman, declined to comment, "out of respect for customer privacy and public safety." The embassy still has running water, according to Ms. Benjamin.

    Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who has called on the occupiers to leave the building, compared the shut-off electricity at the embassy to power shortages in Venezuela.

    "Now they know what life is like for the people of #Venezuela under #Maduro," Mr. Rubio wrote on Twitter.

    At the peak of the embassy occupation, some 50 people were inside, sleeping on the floor, sharing cooking duties and engaging in art and music activities. But only about 15 people remain in the building, Ms. Benjamin said. The others have been unable to return ever since protesters arrived and effectively blockaded most entrances.

    Two activists have been arrested in recent days for trying to deliver food. One tossed bread and lettuce onto the embassy patio, Ms. Benjamin said. Another tried to toss a cucumber. An attempt to bring in food via a window rope-and-pulley contraption proved unsuccessful.

    "Every time we've tried to bring food in, we have been physically attacked by the opposition," Ms. Benjamin said, accusing the Secret Service of siding with the Venezuelan protesters. The Secret Service said it was not interfering with the delivery of food or supplies into the building.

    "They're not hostages — they can come outside and eat," said Gabriela Febres, a Venezuelan who has been at the site for 10 days. "They can protest, but so can we, and that's what we're doing. They can protest all they want, but not inside the building. They can go to the Capitol and express their dislike with Trump at the Capitol with their senators."

    On Thursday, Ms. Benjamin scheduled a news conference to denounce the cutoff of electricity. But those gathered outside the embassy blared a loud horn and banged empty pots and pans, making it nearly impossible for her to speak. Later in the afternoon, at least 30 people were scattered outside; that number typically swells to more than twice that in the evening and on weekends when people are off work. Speakers on a sound booth out front periodically play music.

    Mr. Guaidó's supporters have covered a wall with pictures of prominent anti-Maduro activists, including several whose deaths they blame on the government. A handwritten poster out back laid out, in Spanish, a code of conduct urging people to respect the embassy site and "be assertive, not offensive." Ms. Benjamin accused those assembled outside of shoving her and making sexist and racist comments; the Venezuelans said one of the activists shoved a pregnant woman.

    "We're not trying to hurt anyone by doing what we're doing," said Ms. Bustillos, who is now preparing to enter her ninth day outside the embassy. "We're just asking them to please come out."

    Katie Rogers contributed reporting, and Jack Begg contributed research.



    3) Americans Need Generic Drugs. But Can They Trust Them?

    The fake quality-control data, bird infestations and toxic impurities at the overseas plants that could be making your medication.

    By Katherine Evan, May 11, 2019


    CreditCreditDelcan & Company

    In the fall of 2012, a young consumer safety officer at the Food and Drug Administration volunteered for a job that few of his colleagues wanted: inspecting the Indian manufacturing plants that make many of America's low-cost generic drugs.

    In a world of drab auditors, Peter Baker stood apart. He rode a motorcycle and had tattoos lining one arm. Beyond his love of adventure, Mr. Baker, then 32, had a more pragmatic reason to volunteer. By reputation, India was the world leader in aseptic manufacturing, the exacting science of producing sterile drugs. He figured that after reviewing best practices there, he'd return to the United States with expert knowledge that would advance his career.

    America needs generic drugs. They make up 90 percent of the American drug supply. Without them, every large-scale government health program — the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Part D, the Veterans Health Administration, charitable programs for the developing world — would be unaffordable. 

    But what Mr. Baker uncovered in six years of doing foreign inspections exposed the dangerous compromises behind the production of generic drugs, and the F.D.A.'s limits as a global regulatory agency.

    Six months into his stint, Mr. Baker visited a plant in Aurangabad run by the Indian company Wockhardt, which made about 110 generic-drug products for the American market. He had one week at the plant to ensure that it complied with the F.D.A. regulations known as "current good manufacturing practices." Generating and preserving data at each manufacturing step is crucial to those regulations.

    On his second day at the Wockhardt plant, Mr. Baker and a colleague caught an employee trying to smuggle out a garbage bag of documents. The documents led Mr. Baker to discover that the plant had knowingly released into Indian and other foreign markets vials of insulin containing metallic fragments. These had apparently come from a defective sterilizing machine. He learned that the company had been using the same defective equipment to make a sterile injectable cardiac drug for the American market. The willful deception there and at other plants so shocked him that he overhauled his inspection methods, with significant results.

    Two months after Mr. Baker's Wockhardt inspection, the F.D.A. banned the import of drugs from that plant into the United States, a potential $100 million loss in sales for the company. Company officials declined to comment on the fallout from the inspection.

    Mr. Baker kept digging. Over the next five years, first in India and then in China, he uncovered fraud or deceptive practices in almost four-fifths of the drug plants he inspected. Some of the plants used hidden laboratories, secretly repeated tests and altered results to produce fake data that fundamentally misrepresented drug quality, then submitted that data to regulators.

    In some instances, deceptions and other practices have contributed to generic drugs with toxic impurities, unapproved ingredients and dangerous particulates reaching American patients. Some doctors have struggled to stabilize patients who became sicker after they were switched from a brand-name to a generic, or between generic versions. A low-cost drug is not a bargain if it doesn't work.

    The F.D.A. declares that "Americans can be confident in the quality of the products the F.D.A. approves." Because of that reassurance, even savvy consumers — the sorts of people who are well versed in the quality distinctions between Velveeta and artisanal Cheddar — don't think about how and where their drugs are made when they head to a pharmacy. Their only question usually is: Can they afford, or will their insurance cover, the drug being dispensed? 

    The F.D.A., which approved more than 1,000 new generic drug products last year, faces a vast challenge in safeguarding these medications. Nearly forty percent of all our generic drugs are made in India. Eighty percent of active ingredients for both our brand and generic drugs come from abroad, the majority from India and China. America makes almost none of its own antibiotics anymore.

    Of course, overseas manufacturing can work perfectly well and the F.D.A. contends that it has a reliable review system for all approved drugs. "The F.D.A. inspects all brand-name and generic manufacturing facilities around the world which manufacture product for the U.S. market to confirm they meet F.D.A.'s requirements for manufacturing process," it said recently.

    My reporting on the generic drug industry over the last decade led me to four continents, and into the overseas plants where America's generic drugs are made. Interviews with more than 240 people, including numerous whistle-blowers, helped expose what was going on behind the boardroom doors at generic-drug companies. Some companies have encouraged data fraud as the most profitable path to securing approvals from regulators, and have used deceit to hold the F.D.A.'s investigators at bay.

    In the United States, F.D.A. investigators typically show up unannounced to inspect plants. But overseas, the F.D.A. has opted to announce the vast majority of its foreign inspections in advance. Overseas plants even "invite" the F.D.A. to inspect; the investigators then become the company's guests and agree on an inspection date in advance. Plant officials have served as hosts and helped to arrange local travel. 

    The F.D.A. has defended this system as the best way to ease the complex logistics of getting visas and ensuring access to the plants. But the resulting inspections are largely "staged," say a number of F.D.A. staff members. With advance notice and low-cost labor, the plants can make anything look like anything. "You give them a weekend, they'll put up a building," as one F.D.A. investigator put it.

    Mr. Baker, the young inspector, pulled back the curtain on these staged visits. He rejected guided tours. Instead, he would arrive at a plant and head to the quality control laboratory, where employees typically audit test results coming in from the factory floor. There, he would get into the computer system and sift through the data himself.

    As Mr. Baker followed clues, he unearthed devious practices at what seemed like transparently run plants. Technicians used initial hidden tests to get preliminary results, which then guided them as they tinkered with the test settings. Then they retested in the plant's official system to get the desired results showing that the drugs fell within specifications. Those drugs with altered test results could then be released to patients. 

    During his 27 months in India, of the 38 drug plants he inspected, Mr. Baker found fraudulent or deceptive data in 29 of them. As he worked, other investigators learned from his techniques. The difference was stunning, one F.D.A. employee recalled. "Like you walk into a dark room and suddenly someone just turns on the light," the employee said. "It was shocking."

    And there was an additional negative consequence to the F.D.A.'s system of advanced notice. With the companies serving as travel agents, F.D.A. investigators spoke of inappropriate perks: hotel upgrades, for which the investigators would never see a bill; golf outings, massages, and trips to the Taj Mahal. The result was what some F.D.A. employees referred to as "regulatory tourism." The F.D.A. said in response that "any allegations of improper conduct by F.D.A. personnel are investigated."

    A new head of the F.D.A.'s India office, Altaf Lal, arrived in mid-2013. To tame the twin problems of company fraud and compromised investigators, Mr. Lal made a novel pitch to agency officials. He proposed a pilot program to make all inspections in India either on short notice or unannounced. By December 2013, he had a green light. The results were instantaneous.

    In January 2014, the F.D.A. was planning an unannounced inspection at a plant in northern India on a Monday. Fearing that plant officials had heard they were coming, Mr. Baker and his colleague went a day early, unannounced. They proceeded to the quality control laboratory, expecting it to be quiet on Sunday morning. Instead, they were stunned to see a hive of activity. Dozens of workers hunched over documents, backdating them. On one desk, Mr. Baker found a notebook listing the documents the workers needed to fabricate in anticipation of the inspectors' arrival. There were Post-it notes stuck to some surfaces, noting what data to change.

    In large swaths of India's generic drug industry, the pilot program uncovered a long-running machinery dedicated not to producing perfect drugs but to producing perfect data. At one plant, Mr. Baker went straight to the microbiology laboratory and found the paperwork for testing the sterility of the plant in perfect order: microbial limits testing, biological indicators, all the samples with perfect results. Yet most of the samples didn't exist. The plant was testing almost nothing. The laboratory was a fake.

    At the vast majority of the unannounced inspections, the investigators found things the plants no longer had time to fix: Infestations of birds and insects. A pile of critical manufacturing records, tossed in a trash bin. An employee bathroom near a sterile manufacturing area in one plant lacked drainage piping, so urine puddled directly onto the floor.

    Under the pilot program, the rate of inspections resulting in the F.D.A.'s most serious finding, "official action indicated," increased by almost 60 percent, according to my own analysis of F.D.A. records. Before long, drugs from numerous plants in India had been banned from the United States market. Given these results, it seemed logical for the F.D.A. to make unannounced inspections or short notice the norm around the world. But in July 2015, F.D.A. officials decided to terminate the program and return to largely pre-announced inspections in India. When asked why, the agency declined to explain its reasoning and stated that "after evaluation of the pilot a decision was made to discontinue the pilot." 

    More recently, an F.D.A. spokeswoman said that the agency has conducted "a number of unannounced inspections at foreign manufacturing facilities, "when it has information from a whistle-blower or is investigating a drug safety issue. The F.D.A. asserts that its import alerts, which can stop substandard drugs from entering the country, are an "effective tool" for protecting patients. 

    But from 2013 to 2018, according to records I have obtained, F.D.A. officials downgraded the regulatory sanctions against more than 100 Indian plants, changing the designation of "official action indicated" to "voluntary action indicated." This allowed drugs from those plants to continue to reach patients in the United States.

    Most Americans agree that our drug supply is in crisis. But the crisis they point to is that of cost: brand-name drugs that are unaffordable, because of corporate greed, and a labyrinth of deals between drug makers, drugstore chains and insurance companies. One response has been to push for more, cheaper generics made available as quickly as possible. But that solution has come with a quality crisis that has been largely invisible to American consumers.

    Our drug supply needs one system of regulation that prioritizes both low cost and high quality: an unannounced inspection at every plant that makes drugs for the United States market. Companies or countries that refuse to comply should not be allowed to sell to American consumers. Those consumers deserve to know where their medicines are made, information they get on their cereal boxes and shirt labels. "Made in America" on a pill bottle label could have a strong market effect, helping to draw drug manufacturing back to the United States, where it can be more effectively policed.

    In February 2015, Peter Baker moved to China, where he found similar data fraud and deception in 38 of the 48 drug plants he inspected. He left the agency this March. Shaken by what he uncovered in his work for the F.D.A., he told a colleague that if people knew how some of those drugs were manufactured overseas "then no one would take them."

    Katherine Eban is the author of the forthcoming "Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom," from which this essay is adapted.



    4) Surviving Despair in the Great Extinction

    One million species of plants and animals are heading toward annihilation, and it's our fault. How can we possibly live with that truth?

    By Margaret Renki, May 13, 2019


    CreditCreditAnimal Press/Barcroft Media, via Getty Images

    NASHVILLE — The gift of springtime is the panoply of new life: gray buds breaking open into bright flowers, gray branches sprouting leaves in a thousand shades of green to make a bower of our common lives. In the treetops, birds throw back their heads to sing their full-throated, body-shuddering songs. An ordinary suburban yard becomes a carpet of wildflowers, each one visited by tiny, iridescent bees which seem to materialize overnight out of nothing but the mild springtime air.

    But it's not all flowers and bird song; springtime is also deadly. All the new mouths must be fed. The bluebirds in my nest box are catching those tiny bees for their four hungry nestlings. Somewhere in this yard a large rat snake is hunting, and I can't be sure if the baffle I've mounted on the nest-box pole is large enough to keep the snake out. Even if it does, a house wren with murder on his mind is scooting around in the underbrush with a dagger of a beak, and he will kill those bluebird nestlings in an instant if their father isn't vigilant enough to protect them.

    I worry. Every year I worry about the bluebird babies, and every year I remind myself that house wrens and snakes have their own purposes for springtime, each as urgent as the bluebird's. This is just the way the natural world works. Pay attention, and it will break your heart a dozen times before dinner.

    Last week, the United Nations released the summary of an enormous report that broke my heart in more ways than any backyard-nature observations ever have. The Times article about the report, "Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an 'Unprecedented' Pace," called it "the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization." The story opens with the picture of an olive ridley sea turtle washed up on an Indian beach. The turtle is dead, apparently strangled: Fishing rope is looped around its neck, cutting into its throat.

    That photo undid me. All week long I found myself coming back to it until I had it committed to memory, the shapes and the colors, though part of me would prefer never to think about that image again. I kept being struck anew by the sorrow of that one lost creature, that one preventable tragedy. The turtle's great head is bowed, resting on the sand. Its eyes are closed; its ancient face is drawn back in a mask of grief. The turtle's whole body signals resignation, surrender. In the background, children play in the surf.

    Fishing nets and ropes are a deadly hazard for olive ridley sea turtles.CreditSoren Andersson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    If the photo is traumatizing, the story is worse. Because of human activity — both direct activity, like fishing and farming, and indirect activity, like the fossil fuels that accelerate climate change — up to one million species of plants and animals are headed for extinction if we don't take immediate measures to halt the devastation.

    That's one million species. Every individual creature in a species — times one million. We can't possibly conceive of such a thing. We can hold in mind, however uncomfortably, the image of a single animal who died a terrible death. Devastation on this scale is beyond the reach of imagination. How could we hold in mind a destruction so vast it would take not just one sea turtle but all that animal's kind, as well as all the kind of 999,999 other species?

    Whole expanses of the natural world are disappearing. It's not just poster animals like polar bears, tigers and elephants; it's life on earth as we know it.

    I hear a truth like that and succumb to despair. I look around at all the ways I've tried to help — at the reusable grocery bags and the solar-field subscription, at the pollinator garden and the little meadow of wildflowers, at the lawn mower blades set high enough to harm no snakes or nesting cottontails, at the recycle bins and the worm composter, at the nest box for the bluebirds and the nest box for the house wrens and the nest box claimed this year by a red wasp — and it all strikes me as puny, laughable, at best a way to feel better about myself. How is any of this a solution? Or even the path to a solution?

    I asked myself those questions even as I filled the bird feeders and cleaned the birdbaths, even as I planted more milkweed seeds and watered the new cedar and serviceberry trees we planted this spring to feed wildlife in the years to come. What's the point? How will any of this matter?

    And then I noticed that I hadn't seen any activity in the bluebird box for some time. Over and over again I'd get up from my desk, stand at the front window and watch — but there was no sign of either parent. In midafternoon, just as I'd made up my mind to check on the nestlings that I was sure were dead, the male bluebird flew up with a caterpillar in his beak and climbed into the box. Relief whooshed through my body; all the muscles I didn't know I was tensing relaxed.

    I don't have the power to reclaim soil degraded by industrial farming practices. I can't persuade equatorial countries to protect their rain forests. I'm not able to affect in any way the irresponsible decisions of my own country's president — decisions that will unquestionably hasten the great extinction — much less those made by the leaders of other nations. But I can put up boxes for cavity-nesting birds and roosting boxes for bats. I can cultivate the host plants of butterflies, knowing that some of their caterpillars will feed baby birds. I can make my yard a haven for insects, including the red wasp, an important pollinator which is too quickly maligned. I can keep my yard free from chemicals and let the wildflowers go to seed.

    And I can remind myself, all day long every day, that there's a difference between doing something and doing nothing. That "something," small as it might seem, is not "nothing." The space between them is far apart, limitless stretching distances apart. It's the difference between a heartbeat and silence.

    Margaret Renkl is a contributing opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.  She is the author of the forthcoming book "Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss." @MargaretRenkl

    My New York Times Comment to this Article:

    "Millions of people living in apartment buildings, in concrete and steel cities and the slums within them can not '...put up boxes for cavity-nesting birds and roosting boxes for bats...' This massive extinction we are witnessing today is the result of an economic system that thrives on profits for the wealthy—to hell with everything else—people, plants, oceans or animals. It's an insane system that puts profit over everything else. Corporations—the U.S. military industrial complex being the biggest culprit of death, destruction and pollution—are exempt from any responsibility even for cleaning up after themselves. That job is left to we, the taxpayers, while they make billions of dollars and pay NO taxes. We can't solve this massive extinction which WILL include US if we don't get rid of the system of capitalism and put people, plants animals and the very earth we share over profits for the tiny few. It's the only way to end war, racism, poverty, homelessness and the ultimate extinction of life on Earth." —Bonnie Weinstein



    5) The "Swedish Allegations" Concerning Julian Assange

    By Justice for Assange, May 13, 2019


    Julian Assange

    There is widespread media misreporting about allegations made against Julian Assange in Sweden in 2010. Here are the facts:

    First, Assange was always willing to answer any questions from the Swedish authorities and repeatedly offered to do so, over six years. The widespread media assertion that Assange "evaded" Swedish questioning is false. It was the Swedish prosecutor who for years refused to question Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy: they only did so, in November 2016, after the Swedish courts forced the prosecutor to travel to London. Sweden dropped the investigation six months later, in May 2017.

    Second, Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 to avoid onward extradition to the US – not to avoid extradition to Sweden or to refuse to face the Swedish allegations. Assange would have accepted extradition to Sweden had it provided an assurance against onward extradition to the US (as Amnesty International also urged at the time) – but both Sweden and the UK refused to provide an assurance that he would not be extradited to the US.

    Third, Sweden wanted to drop its arrest warrant for Assange in 2013. It was the British government that insisted that the case against him continue. This is confirmed in emails released under a tribunal challenge following a Freedom of Information Act request. UK prosecutors admitted to deleting key emails and engaged in elaborate attempts to keep correspondence from the public record. Indeed, the lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service advised the Swedes in January 2011 not to visit London to interview Assange. An interview at that time could have prevented the long-running embassy standoff.

    Fourth, despite widespread false reporting, Assange was never charged with anything related to the Swedish allegations. These only reached the level of a "preliminary investigation". The Swedish prosecution questioned Assange on two separate occasions, in 2010 and 2016. He has consistentlyprofessed his innocence.

    Fifth, almost entirely omitted from current media reporting is that the initial Swedish preliminary investigation in 2010 was dropped after the chief prosecutor of Stockholm concluded that "the evidence did not disclose any evidence of rape" and that "no crime at all" had been committed. Text messages between the two women, which were later revealed, do not complain of rape. Rather, they show that the women "did not want to put any charges on JA but that the police were keen on getting a grip on him" and that they "only wanted him to take a test". One wrote that "it was the police who made up the charges" and told a friend that she felt that she had been "railroaded by police and others around her".

    Sixth, Assange left Sweden after the prosecutor told him that he was free to leave as he was not wanted for questioning. Assange had stayed in Sweden for five weeks. After he left, Interpol bizarrely issued a Red Notice for Assange, usually reserved for terrorists and dangerous criminals – raising concerns that this was not just about sexual accusations.

    Seventh, Sweden's investigation is now entirely closed. It was shelved for six years during the period 2010-2016 while the Swedish prosecutor refused to question Assange in London. Sweden's Court of Appeal ruled that that the prosecutor had breached her duty because a preliminary investigation either has to be open and active leading to a charge, or closed—there is no intermediate phase. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also concluded that the prosecutor's inaction had resulted in Sweden and the UK violating international obligations.

    Eighth, there was no technical impediment for the prosecutor to proceed to charge Assange after he was questioned in the Ecuadorian embassy. In early 2017, Assange's lawyers asked a Swedish court to force the prosecutor to either charge Assange or drop the arrest warrant. The prosecutor closed the investigation in May 2017 without attempting to charge him.

    Since his arrest on 11 April 2019, there has been considerable political pressure on Sweden to reopen the investigation. Theoretically any closed investigation can be reopened until the statute of limitations expires—August 2020 in this case. Such calls serve to displace the critical issue of Assange's impending US extradition over WikiLeaks publications (whether from UK or Sweden). They also obfuscate critical facts, such as the fact that the UK and Swedish authorities had actively prevented Assange from responding to the allegations, which is contrary to basic principles of due process.

    It is critical to note that the re-opened Swedish allegations in September 2010 occurred after WikiLeaks published the Iraq "Collateral Murder" video in April 2010 and the Afghanistan war logs in July 2010. In fact, US grand jury proceedings already began against Assange in June 2010 and by July, the US was publicly describing WikiLeaks as a "very real and potential threat". The Intercept's Charles Glass has reported that "Sources in Swedish intelligence told me at the time that they believed the U.S. had encouraged Sweden to pursue the case." Other reports from just days before the Swedish allegations were initiated show that the U.S. State Department was encouraging allied statesto initiate prosecutions against Assange. To ignore all this, as much media reporting does, is to ignore vital further context.

    In December 2018, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, together with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, reiterated their finding from 2016 and urged Assange's freedom to be restored. UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture are currently investigation Assange's case.



    6) Sweden Reopens Rape Case Against Julian Assange

    By Megan Specie, May 13, 2019


    The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a police van after he was arrested by the British police at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London last month.CreditCreditHenry Nicholls/Reuters

    The Swedish authorities announced on Monday that they would reopen an investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, who is serving a prison term in Britain for jumping bail as the United States seeks his extradition over accusations that he tried to assist in a huge breach of classified data.

    The United States has already begun trying to extradite Mr. Assange, an effort that was expected to be prolonged and complex even before the announcement in Stockholm on Monday, and it could be further complicated by Sweden's wish to reinstate its investigation.

    British officials will determine which case takes precedence, Swedish prosecutors said, adding that if Mr. Assange were eventually extradited to Sweden, he could not be sent to the United States without the consent of Britain. The investigation stems from an accusation in August 2010 made by a Swedish woman, who said that Mr. Assange had sexually assaulted her.

    Mr. Assange was removed from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London last month and promptly arrested, seven years after seeking refuge to avoid extradition in an earlier Swedish investigation into the same rape case, and then sentenced to 50 weeks for jumping bail.

    With Mr. Assange in custody, the United States began the extradition process on a conspiracy charge — punishable by up to five years in prison — over his alleged attempt to assist in one of the largest leaks of classified materials in American history.

    Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden's deputy director of public prosecutions, announced the decision at a news conference in Stockholm on Monday, saying that the Swedish authorities would reopen their investigation because there was still probable cause to suspect that Mr. Assange had committed the crime in question.

    "I take the view that there exists the possibility to take the case forward," Ms. Persson said. The decision to reopen the preliminary investigation is not equivalent to making a decision to indict him, she said, but a European arrest warrant will be issued so that the Swedish authorities can ultimately take Mr. Assange into custody and question him.

    Per Samuelsson, Mr. Assange's Swedish lawyer, said he was surprised by the decision to reopen the investigation. "It's not proportionate," Mr. Samuelsson said, adding that he has not spoken to his client since last month. "He has been sentenced to 50 weeks. He faces extradition for revealing the truth about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To force him to concentrate on this old investigation is highly unreasonable."

    The Swedish investigation began in 2010, after two women accused Mr. Assange of assaulting them during separate sexual encounters while he was visiting Stockholm.

    He was living in London at the time, and the Swedish authorities issued a European arrest warrant in seeking his extradition for questioning over "suspicion of rape, three cases of sexual molestation and illegal coercion."

    Mr. Assange was arrested by the British police in 2011, and after a series of failed appeals while he was out on bail, he fled to the Ecuadorean Embassy to avoid extradition.

    Sweden dropped the initial investigation in May 2017, having concluded that there was no way to proceed with the case as long as Mr. Assange was holed up in the embassy, and prosecutors indicated at the time that they had not cleared him and they reserved the right to reopen their inquiry.

    Last month, days after Mr. Assange was removed from the embassy, having worn out his welcome with his hosts, Sweden announced that a lawyer for the two accusers had requested that the investigation be reopened into the accusation of rape brought by one of the women.

    The prosecution still falls within the country's 10-year statute of limitations to restart it. The statute of limitations has already passed for sexual molestation and unlawful coercion accusations made by the other woman.

    The same day Mr. Assange was removed from the embassy, the United States unsealed an indictment against him on a charge that stems from a leak of hundreds of thousands of documents, mostly related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were published by WikiLeaks.

    The American authorities have accused Mr. Assange of conspiring with Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, to crack an encoded password that would have permitted her to log into a classified Pentagon network under someone else's identity.

    At Mr. Assange's first hearing in the extradition case, held this month, he told the judge that he did not wish to surrender to the United States to be prosecuted for what he called "journalism that has won many awards."

    Mr. Assange could face additional charges in the United States, although prosecutors have appeared to be wary of pursuing a case that would treat the act of publishing information as a crime, a move that would raise questions about whether his First Amendment rights to free speech were being violated.

    Ms. Manning was recently released after being jailed for two months for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

    Ms. Persson, the Swedish prosecutor, said that because Mr. Assange has been convicted of a crime in Britain, he would serve at least 25 weeks of his sentence before he can be released and potentially transported to Sweden.

    The Swedish authorities hope to question Mr. Assange while he is still in British detention, Ms. Persson said, but that would require his consent.

    She also said that it would be up to Britain to determine whether the United States' extradition request or the Swedish investigation takes precedence.

    "This decision has been left entirely to the British authorities. The outcome of this process is impossible to predict," she said, but added that the Swedish investigation could continue concurrently with the British process.

    The United States' request to extradite Mr. Assange is being handled by the British courts, but his fate could ultimately lie with Sajid Javid, Britain's home secretary.

    In the case of multiple extradition requests for one individual, the home secretary may defer proceedings on one of the requests until the other has been completed, after taking into account several issues, according to a document published by the British Home Office last month: the seriousness of the offenses, the place where they were committed, and the date when each extradition request was filed are among the factors he would have consider.

    Assuming Sweden submits a European arrest warrant, its claim would most likely take precedence, said Michael O'Kane, a British extradition lawyer.

    "Arguably the rape allegation is more serious," Mr. O'Kane said. In addition, although the American extradition request would technically precede a new filing from Sweden, prosecutors there initially requested that he be turned over long before the Americans did.

    The arrest warrant and extradition requests will first proceed through the British court system, a process that could take six months to a year, and both requests will probably move together in parallel through the British courts. The United States could challenge a prioritized extradition to Sweden, although Mr. O'Kane said that was unlikely.

    One of Mr. Assange's accusers in Sweden has publicly identified herself, and the woman, Anna Ardin, told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladetthat Mr. Assange was "a man who has a twisted attitude toward women and a problem taking no for an answer."

    Last month, Ms. Ardin tweeted that she would be "very surprised & sad if Julian is handed over to the US." She added, "For me this was never about anything else than his misconduct against me/women and his refusal to take responsibility for this."

    But Mr. Assange and his supporters have long maintained that the accusations were attempts to discredit him, and he had maintained that the efforts to extradite him to Sweden were a pretext to eventually send him to the United States.

    Kristinn Hrafnsson, the editor in chief of WikiLeaks, said in a statement released shortly after the Swedish prosecutors' announcement that the case "has been mishandled throughout."

    "This investigation has been dropped before, and its reopening will give Julian a chance to clear his name," Mr. Hrafnsson said.

    Christina Anderson and Iliana Magra contributed reporting.



    7) Is There a Connection Between Undocumented Immigrants and Crime?

    It's a widely held perception, but a new analysis finds no evidence to support it.

    By Anna Flagg, May 13, 2019


    A lot of research has shown that there's no causal connection between immigration and crime in the United States. But after one such study was reported on jointly by The Marshall Project and The Upshot last year, readers had one major complaint: Many argued it wasunauthorized immigrants who increase crime, not immigrants over all. 

    An analysis derived from new data is now able to help address this question, suggesting that growth in illegal immigration does not lead to higher local crime rates.

    In part because it's hard to collect data on them, undocumented immigrants have been the subjects of few studies, including those related to crime. But the Pew Research Center recently released estimates of undocumented populations sorted by metro area, which The Marshall Project has compared with local crime rates published by the F.B.I. For the first time, there is an opportunity for a broader analysis of how unauthorized immigration might have affected crime rates since 2007.

    A large majority of the areas recorded decreases in both violent and property crime between 2007 and 2016, consistent with a quarter-century decline in crime across the United States. The analysis found that crime went down at similar rates regardless of whether the undocumented population rose or fell. Areas with more unauthorized migration appeared to have larger drops in crime, although the difference was small and uncertain.

    (Illegal immigration itself is either a civil violation or a misdemeanor, depending on whether someone overstayed a visa or crossed the border without authorization.)

    Most types of crime had an almost flat trend line, indicating that changes in undocumented populations had little or no effect on crime in the various metro areas under survey. Murder was the only type of crime that appeared to show a rise, but again the difference was small and uncertain (effectively zero).

    For undocumented immigrants, being arrested for any reason would mean facing eventual deportation — and for some a return to whatever danger or deprivation they'd sought to escape at home.

    There is no exact count of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States. To create estimates, experts at Pew subtracted Department of Homeland Security counts of immigrants with legal status from the number of foreign-born people counted by the Census Bureau. Many organizations and agencies, including the D.H.S., use this residual estimation method; it is generally considered the best one available. As of 2016, there were an estimated 10.7 million undocumented immigrants nationwide, down a million and a half since 2007.

    Jeffrey Passel, a Pew senior demographer, and his team estimated changes in undocumented populations for roughly 180 metropolitan areas between 2007 and 2016. For comparison, The Marshall Project calculated corresponding three-year averages of violent and property crime rates from the Uniform Crime Reporting program, and the change in those rates.

    The results of the analysis resemble those of other studies on the relationship between undocumented immigration and crime. Last year, a report by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, found that unauthorized immigrants in Texas committed fewer crimes than their native-born counterparts. A state-level analysis in Criminology, an academic journal, found that undocumented immigration did not increase violent crime and was in fact associated with slight decreases in it. Another Cato study found that unauthorized immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated.

    At the more local level, an analysis by Governing magazine reported that metropolitan areas with more undocumented residents had similar rates of violent crime, and significantly lower rates of property crime, than areas with smaller numbers of such residents in 2014. After controlling for multiple socioeconomic factors, the author of the analysis, Mike Maciag, found that for every 1 percentage point increase in an area's population that was undocumented there were 94 fewer property crimes per 100,000 residents.

    More research is underway about the potential effects of undocumented immigration on crime. Robert Adelman, a professor at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, whose group's research The Marshall Project and The Upshot have previously documented, is leading a team to expand on the Governing analysis. Early results suggest unauthorized immigration has no effect on violent crime, and is associated with lower property crime, the same as Mr. Maciag found.

    Preliminary findings indicate that other socioeconomic factors like unemployment rates, housing instability and measures of economic hardship all predict higher rates of different types of crime, while undocumented immigrant populations do not.

    Many studies have established that immigrants commit crimes at consistently lower rates than native-born Americans. But a common concern is whether immigrants put pressure on native-born populations in any number of ways — for instance, by increasing job competition — that could indirectly lead to more crime and other negative impacts.

    According to Mr. Adelman and his team, however, the impact of undocumented immigrants is probably similar to what the research indicates about immigrants over all: They tend to bring economic and cultural benefits to their communities. They typically come to America to find work, not to commit crimes, says Yulin Yang, a member of the team.

    The data suggests that when it comes to crime, the difference between someone who is called a legal immigrant and an illegal one doesn't seem to matter.

    This article was published in partnership with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for its newsletter, or follow The Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter. Anna Flagg is a senior data reporter for The Marshall Project.



    8) Eric Garner Died in 2014. Officer Pantaleo Goes on Trial Today.

    By Azi Paybarah, May 13, 2019


    CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

    The video shows Officer Daniel Pantaleo putting his arm around the neck of Eric Garner as Mr. Garner repeatedly said, "I can't breathe."

    The report from the city's medical examiner said Mr. Garner died, in part, because of a "choke hold." 

    The city paid $5.9 million to Mr. Garner's family to settle a wrongful death claim.

    But did Officer Pantaleo break the law, or even violate the Police Department's policies? 

    Today, nearly five years after Mr. Garner's death, Officer Pantaleo's departmental trial will begin. It could lead to his termination, but the outcome of the case is far from certain.

    [Five years after Eric Garner's death, Officer Daniel Pantaleo faces trial.]

    What is Officer Pantaleo accused of?

    In short, he is accused of using a chokehold and purposely restricting Mr. Garner's breathing in 2014 while arresting him on Staten Island on charges of selling loose cigarettes.

    Are the police allowed to use chokeholds?

    In 1993, the police commissioner at the time, Raymond W. Kelly, banned chokeholds. 

    In 2016 — two years after Mr. Garner's death — Bill Bratton, Mr. Kelly's successor as commissioner, carved out an exception to that ban, for what he called "exigent circumstances."

    Are chokeholds still being used by the police in New York?

    In 2014, there were 244 allegations of chokeholds, according to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a city agency that investigates accusations against the police. 

    In 2015, that figure dropped to 172 allegations

    In 2017, there were 132 allegations.

    In 2018, there were 133 allegations.

    As my colleague Ali Winston reported last week, "only a tiny fraction of officers accused of chokeholds have been found guilty and have faced discipline." Also: "None have been fired." 

    Where will Officer Pantaleo's trial be held?

    The courtroom is in the Police Department's headquarters in Lower Manhattan. The trial is open to the public, but no court transcripts will be available, and lists of testifying witnesses will not be provided. 

    Even the judge's decision will be not necessarily be disclosed. It will be sent to the police commissioner, James P. O'Neill, who has the authority to uphold, modify or even vacate the ruling.

    There is no mechanism for compelling Mr. O'Neill to announce his conclusion, though it is expected to be revealed by people with knowledge of the decision. 

    Why is this trial more private than a regular trial?

    This is not the sort of trial you would see on "Law and Order." It's a departmental trial within the Police Department.

    That means nearly everything about it falls under a decades-old state law that shields police personnel records from public disclosure, known colloquially as 50-A.

    The de Blasio administration has taken a stricter interpretation of that law than previous administrations. But Mayor de Blasio has also said he wants state lawmakers to loosen those restrictions. So far, that hasn't happened.

    The episode was captured on video. The medical examiner noted a "choke hold." Isn't that enough evidence?

    The Police Department's top surgeon said no damage was found to Mr. Garner's trachea to indicate he had been choked, according to Officer Pantaleo's lawyer, Stuart London. Mr. London cited an internal police report from that surgeon, Eli Kleinman, during a pretrial motion last month.

    As for the video, Officer Pantaleo's defenders said it showed a legal, if unpleasant, takedown of a large man who was not cooperative.

    Officer Pantaleo's critics said it showed the police using escalating force against a nonviolent man who was unarmed. 

    What happens if Officer Pantaleo is convicted?

    He could be terminated. 

    Federal prosecutors have until July to decide whether to bring civil rights charges against him. 

    A grand jury on Staten Island declined to indict him on criminal charges.


































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