Death Penalty Focus Reception for Sr. Helen Prejean

Thursday, September 5, 2019, 6:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M.

Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA 94925, USA 

Nancy Haydt, J.D.
Executive Director
Death Penalty Focus
415-243-0143 (office)
805-637-1061 (cell)





680 Majority Latinx Workers in Mississippi Taken off their Jobs by ICE: An Injury to One is an Injury to All!

On August 7, the US Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted raids on workers in 7 food processing plants in six Mississippi cities.

These workers came to the US to try to earn an honest living, because conditions in their home countries prevented them from living in peace, supporting their families and endangering them by military and social violence and climate changes.  US foreign policies in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa contribute to the conditions faced by the majority of these immigrant workers.

The families, communities and cities that depend on the incomes of these workers are being disrupted representing a form of ethnic cleansing consistent with the demands of white nationalism.

Although the ICE representatives claimed that this mass raid was not ordered by the Trump administration, it fits the racist and xenophobic lies that immigrants are taking U.S. jobs. These mass raids are part of Trump's white nationalist claim of bringing back U.S. jobs.

This raid is not only a violation of human rights that needs stronger language in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is also an attack on the working-class, aimed a fostering greater divisions and fears. It is part of the corporate strategy to create a climate of insecurity within the working-class to super-exploit immigrant and all Southern workers.

The US South has attracted large numbers of Latinx workers.  Along with African descendants and Indigenous people the combined amount of people of color in the South is about 40 percent of the population of 108 million. What capitalism does to its most oppressed and exploited sectors sets a direction for capitalism's plans for the entire working-class.

Organized labor and working-class communities in the South, nationally and internationally must show solidarity with these workers.  They must know that they are not isolated and are part of the workers struggle.

The Southern Workers Assembly calls on all member organizations, all workers in the labor movement and communities dependent on the working-class to take some solidarity action to express solidarity with these workers and our outrage at the actions of the federal government.

Please send feedback on what action you organizations can take based on your capacity. If taken in your organizations name, add member of Southern Workers Assembly to show the mobilization of our network.

There are no walls in the workers struggle!
An injury to one is an injury to all!

- Southern Workers Assembly, August 2019

Read more about this ICE raid attack on migrant workers at:

Pay Day: ICE Raids Miss. Plant After $3.75 Million Sexual Harassment Settlement

Reuters: U.S. immigration agents arrest 680 workers at Mississippi plants

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Political Prisoners and Assange: Carole Seligman At S.F. Assange Rally
As part of an international action to free Julian Assange, a rally was held on June 12, 2019 at the US Federal Building in San Francisco and Carole Seligman was one of the speakers. She also speaks about imperialist wars and  the cases of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Fumiaki Hoshino.
For more info:
Production of Labor Video Project



Act Now to Save Mumia's Eyesight and to 

Demand His Release!

Tell them to approve Mumia's cataract surgery immediately!

Tell them to release Mumia Abu-Jamal NOW because he can receive better healthcare outside of prison and also because he is an innocent man!


Prison officials turn away thousands of petitions for Mumia

Dozens of community activists traveled hundreds of miles from four states to Mechanicsburg, Penn., on July 24 to deliver petitions signed by 3,000 people from around the world, simply requesting the right to proper vision care for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. They expected at the very least that someone with authority in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections would step out to accept the petitions.

The PA DOC instead placed several burly Capitol District cops and a couple of DOC staff members outside the front doors to "greet" the community representatives.

The activists fighting for Abu-Jamal's freedom — representing a global movement for the freedom of all political prisoners — insisted on their right to speak to John Wetzel, head of the state prison authority or one of his near-equals, before handing over the signatures from thousands of Mumia supporters.

Agreement to meet

Outside the main doors of the state facility, the first of two non-uniformed men to speak to the activists was a Mr. Barnacle. When Pam Africa, representing the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, asked who he was, he pulled out a badge marked "staff," dated 2018. When told someone with real authority and current identification was needed, Barnacle eventually agreed to allow three participants to enter the building to deliver the petitions to a DOC official.

While the assembled activists waited to be joined by people in two additional vehicles from New York City, Megan Malachi, from REAL Justice, read the petition to the press titled "Act Now to Save Mumia's Eyesight and to Demand His Release." (tinyurl.com/y4s3ekpr)

Aminata Sandra Calhoun, from Mobilization4Mumia, followed with a statement from Mumia's medical proxy, Rev. Mark Taylor, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, serving presently as Mumia's "spiritual advisor." The statement read in part:

"So far, the prison officials are discouraging and making complicated the eye-doctor's ability to share with me the medical information that Mumia wants me to have. They have not scheduled his surgery. Every cooperative effort on these matters is being made by Mumia's family and friends; still there is too much stalling by prison officials.

"We insist that SCI-Mahanoy and the PA DOC honor every legal step that Mumia needs to be taken, so that he receives quality eye-care immediately. He must no longer be subject to medical neglect or to any withholding of full information about his medical condition.

"The abuse Mumia suffered in the past nearly killed him, and even when finally addressed left him with cirrhosis of the liver. There is time for PA officials to turn a new corner." (tinyurl.com/yxvmabkr)

Abu Jamal has a lot of trouble reading and doing other tasks that require good eyesight. His eyesight is seriously threatened by glaucoma, a vitreous detachment and cataracts in both eyes. These jeopardize his quality of life and wellbeing, as well as his journalistic profession.

The ophthalmologist whom Abu-Jamal was taken to see outside Mahanoy Prison recommends surgical procedures to remove the cataracts on both eyes.
But months of delays echo the years of delays Abu-Jamal experienced before the DOC was finally forced by a federal court to treat him with the cure for hepatitis C in 2018.

DOC reneges on agreement

When three designated activists — Dr. Suzanne Ross, Rev. Keith Collins and a videographer — later tried to enter the DOC state headquarters, they were met by another DOC staff member, Ken Smith, who claimed he was a Major in "Special Operations," but would not show any valid identification to that effect.

Smith then reneged on the earlier agreement and said he would take the petitions, but would not allow the representatives to enter the building and meet with a DOC official.

The activists were unbending in their demand that a valid DOC person of authority formally accept, "on the record," the inch-think bundle at a location inside the building.

Dr. Ross, designated as one of the petition delivery trio, told Smith: "The DOC has already failed from 2015 to 2017 to make available to Mumia the cure that was available for hep C at that time. The two-year delay left Mumia with cirrhosis of the liver [and other hep C-related damage]. Mumia supporters are determined to prevent the damage that could be caused by a comparable delay in treating his visual problems … . We've been here before and met with people. One time it was with the head of the press office. Send us the press officer."

Rev. Keith Collins, who visited Mumia on July 4 and was also appointed to deliver the petitions, said: "I'm a pastor, a decorated veteran, a paratrooper, also an ex-cop … . We just want to deliver these petitions … . Mumia told me he can see to get around but not to read and that's very important — for a journalist to read and to study … . So we're here … to get him access to the doctor … and to let him come home. He's served forty years for a crime he did not commit."

Despite arguing for over an hour, the activists could not get the DOC to relent. Because of the commotion and locked doors, when a FedEx worker tried to deliver a package, no one on the outside would sign for it, and he was told to come back another time.

Yet the DOC wanted petitions from 3,000 people to be handed over to undesignated staff, off the record, with no way of tracking the petitions, which could immediately be trashed.

Finally, Abu-Jamal's supporters marched away, but not before Pam Africa said: "We're leaving now, but it's not over. Wetzel, we're going to find out wherever you be at, cause there ain't no power like the power of the people." The group left chanting, with the petitions in Rev. Collins' hands, undelivered.

Legal struggle continues

The DOC's refusal to meet with community representatives comes less than a week after the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court decision that Corrections Department employees could be sued for their decisions regarding the 65-year-old Mumia. Abu-Jamal asserts his initial denial of treatment with two antiviral drugs for hepatitis C violated his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. In an unprecedented January 2017 decision, Federal District Court Judge Robert Mariani used that argument to order the DOC to treat Abu-Jamal with direct-acting antiviral medications for his hep C infection.
Abu-Jamal's supporters argue that because deliberate delay resulted in Mumia's cirrhosis of the liver and because the current delay in cataract surgery may cause further deterioration in his overall health, he should immediately be released to seek treatment that the DOC refuses to make readily available to him.

Abu-Jamal is not alone in enduring these cruel and unusual assaults on his health. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of state prisoners age 55 or older increased 400 percent between 1993 and 2013. Across the nation elderly prisoners experience a torturous journey toward the end of their lives, suffering from life-threatening illnesses without adequate treatment or any "compassionate release." Abu-Jamal's appeals for his right to treatment and for his release could result in increased rights for the freedom of all prisoners experiencing cruel and unusual conditions.

Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence in the Pennsylvania prison system. The sentence, for the alleged 1981 murder of a Philadelphia policeman, came down in the context of a corruption-ridden and racist police department. That sentence has been declared unfair by human rights organizations and prison activists the world over.

Although Abu-Jamal has suffered a travesty of justice in the denial of his many appeals over the years, now both the Philadelphia District Attorney and the courts have recognized his right to have his appeals re-argued. This was determined by a momentous decision by Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker in December 2018. Abu-Jamal is currently waiting for his Post Conviction Relief Act appeals to be reheard before a new panel of Pennsylvania Superior Court judges.

While the PA DOC remains resistant to giving Abu-Jamal his full rights to timely health care, and while the political powers in Pennsylvania continue to vilify him, Abu-Jamal and his supporters remain strong and energized by his recent court victories.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
Questions and comments may be sent to info@freedomarchives.org

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Take Action:

1.    Sign the petition
2.    Call: Dr. Courtney P Rodgers – (570) 773-7851 and SCI Mahanoy Superintendent Theresa A. Delbalso - (570) 773-2158
3.    Call: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf – (717) 787-2500; PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel – (717) 728-2573; Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner – (215) 686-8000

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



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The Campaign To Bring Mumia Home

Brother Delbert Africa Needs Our Help


The MOVE Organization would like to bring to people's attention a very dangerous situation that is currently occurring with our Brother Delbert Africa. For the past two weeks Delbert has been suffering from severe swelling from the bottom of his waist all the way down to his toes. For the past two weeks prison officials at SCI Dallas have ignored Delbert's request for medical until this past week when several calls were made to his counselor. A medical visit was finally scheduled for this past Wednesday 7/31/2019 where it was explained to Delbert that he has a fluid build up which required to be drained. Delbert was immediately taken to an outside hospital; as of today 8/3/2019 we still do not know where Delbert is.
For several days now Delbert has been kept incommunicado from calling his MOVE Family, His Blood Daughter, and even his lawyer. Prison officials and also hospital officials will not give any one information pertaining to where Delbert is at.

Something very suspicious is happening here and it appears the same pattern that occurred with Phil Africa in 2015 where a simple stomach virus turned to a weeklong trip to the outside hospital held incommunicado from family and friends to return back to the prison and be placed in hospice care and to only die a day later. In 1998 Merle Africa who had a stomach virus was forced in her cell and told she was dying only to die a couple of hours later.
This system has no issue with murdering MOVE people and that's what they are trying to do with Delbert now. They have already given ground by letting innocent MOVE people out on parole and they do not want to do this with Delbert. As we said before, this system has always seen Delbert as the leader and isolated him and this latest tactic is no different. Delbert is set to go before the board this September after winning his appeal; now this happens.

As of now, we have heard that it has been stated based on the medical report given from Outside medical they are stating that Delbert has Anemia, High Potassium, High Psa's, Acute malignancy of lower intestines, Kidney Trouble, and Suspicion of prostate cancer. The only thing that Delbert has agreed to with any treatment or exams is the submission of a catheter to be used.

Delbert has requested a phone call to his MOVE Family, which neither the prison nor the hospital will allow. We are highly suspicious that this prison has done something to Delbert to bring on these symptoms so quickly. They could not kill Delbert August 8th after the brutal beating they gave him and now they want to finish the job before he can come home on parole.

These officials are so arrogant; this is the same way they murdered Phil Africa and Merle Africa .
As we have stated before, they have isolated our Brother so they can kill him. They won't let anyone speak to him. This is very dangerous!!!

We need people now to call
SCI Dallas Superintendent Kevin Ransom 570 675-1101
Geisenger Hospital 570 808-7300
We want people to demand that Delbert Orr Africa Am4895 be allowed to call his MOVE Family and let them know what's going on.

Even Though it's the weekend we are still asking people to call and Monday we are going full blast .
The MOVE Organization
People can reach
Sue Africa 215 387-4107
Carlos Africa 215 385-2772
Janine Africa 610 704 4524


"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it--at the moment you begin to die. And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice" 

-Mumia Abu-Jamal
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50 years in prison: 

FREE Chip Fitzgerald 
Grandfather, Father, Elder, Friend
former Black Panther 
Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald has been in prison since he was locked up 50 years ago. A former member of the Black Panther Party, Chip is now 70 years old, and suffering the consequences of a serious stroke. He depends on a wheelchair for his mobility. He has appeared before the parole board 17 times, but they refuse to release him.

NOW is the time for Chip to come home!

In September 1969, Chip and two other Panthers were stopped by a highway patrolman. During the traffic stop, a shooting broke out, leaving Chip and a police officer both wounded. Chip was arrested a month later and charged with attempted murder of the police and an unrelated murder of a security guard. Though the evidence against him was weak and Chip denied any involvement, he was convicted and sentenced to death.

In 1972, the California Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty. Chip and others on Death Row had their sentences commuted to Life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. All of them became eligible for parole after serving 7 more years. But Chip was rejected for parole, as he has been ever since. 

Parole for Lifers basically stopped under Governors Deukmajian, Wilson, and Davis (1983-2003), resulting in increasing numbers of people in prison and 23 new prisons. People in prison filed lawsuits in federal courts: people were dying as a result of the overcrowding. To rapidly reduce the number of people in prison, the court mandated new parole hearings:
·        for anyone 60 years or older who had served 25 years or more;
·        for anyone convicted before they were 23 years old;
·        for anyone with disabilities 

Chip qualified for a new parole hearing by meeting all three criteria.

But the California Board of Parole Hearings has used other methods to keep Chip locked up. Although the courts ordered that prison rule infractions should not be used in parole considerations, Chip has been denied parole because he had a cellphone.

Throughout his 50 years in prison, Chip has been denied his right to due process – a new parole hearing as ordered by Federal courts. He is now 70, and addressing the challenges of a stroke victim. His recent rules violation of cellphone possession were non-violent and posed no threat to anyone. He has never been found likely to commit any crimes if released to the community – a community of his children, grandchildren, friends and colleagues who are ready to support him and welcome him home.

The California Board of Parole Hearings is holding Chip hostage.

We call on Governor Newsom to release Chip immediately.

What YOU can do to support this campaign to FREE CHIP:

1)   Sign and circulate the petition to FREE Chip. Download it at https://www.change.org/p/california-free-chip-fitzgerald
Print out the petition and get signatures at your workplace, community meeting, or next social gathering.

2)   Write an email to Governor Newsom's office (sample message at:https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iwbP_eQEg2J1T2h-tLKE-Dn2ZfpuLx9MuNv2z605DMc/edit?usp=sharing

3)   Write to Chip: Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald #B27527,
P.O. Box 4490
Lancaster, CA 93539

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/



Lost In the System 

By Mahmud Khabir Al-Matin
The system in which I attempt to discuss today is a familiar place in the world. The name of this system varies from mouth to mouth in casual conversation, or heated debates. Some call it Gulags, others call it the Prison Industrial Complex, others the human warehouse.
I agree with all these names and more, including the numerous books that have surfaced in the last two decades about mass incarceration. This system as we know it holds 2.5 million people and some of them they refuse to let go regardless of rehabilitation, programming certifications, college, and ignorant youthful mistakes. I am one of those 2.5 million and counting.
On June 4, 2019 after having served 31 years of my life in which I've turned 18 in Union County Jail in Elizabeth, New Jersey, I was transferred to Rikers Island where I turned 19 and was sentenced to 25 years to life in 1991. I was finally granted parole after being denied four times. I convinced the Commissioners by the grace of Allah that I was no longer that easily influenced teenager.
I was no longer a threat to society. I was a college graduate twice. I was in school working on a degree at Ulster Community College through Hudson Link Prison Education Program funded by Mr. Warren Buffett and his sister Doris, and many other famous people—to name a few: Harry Belafonte, Ice-T and Coco his wife. (See HudsonLink.org website). I was a teacher's aide helping men whose reading level was below fifth-grade, as well as math. I was the Imam's clerk and taught Arabic. I had numerous letters from staff requesting my release. Some staff were retaliated against for such belief and reprimanded although New York DOCCS rules state that staff should write these reports. I am the author of an urban novel entitled Can't Stop the Grindand a book of poetry entitled From the Mind of the Incarcerated Slavethat has yet to be published. I gave speeches in the prison grassroots events regularly.
I had become a father and a husband. I had written articles about "the system," the comrade brother Rashid who was the codefendant of Assata Shakur and Abdul Majid (Anthony Laborde) who was placed in solitary confinement with me on two separate occasions. Once was in Wende Correctional Facility, and the last before his death and Elmira, for organizing and other false charges.  I had also written articles in the Bay View on the death of Hugo Pinell and how it was our obligation to adopt his daughter as our sister, daughter, and niece.
However, on June 4, 2019, the day when billions of Muslims are celebrating the end of Ramadan, I was waiting in the cell to go home. My family and I had been told there were no warrants or detainers, no reason for my further incarceration. My brothers had catered a beautiful meal for the evening for me, daughters and sons-in-law to partake, after the evening prayer. I was dressed in full Islamic attire—full-length prayer robe and Kufi. Instead of my release, I was told that my backpack that I was to pick up from Hudson with a laptop computer and suits of clothing as part of the coming home package, and pages of trial transcripts and books would have to stay. I was taken into custody by Union County sheriffs and my family was told to leave the parking lot. I was not coming out. My daughter Aminati and my wife who is a strong prison advocate on Prison Radio's "Voices Beyond the Wall" on WKBR 91.3 Radiowas crushed. My wife has not gotten back on the radio because she can't speak without breaking down.
I was placed in a filthy bullpen with walls smeared with all types of disgusting looking substances while foot-shackled and waist-cuffed. I was told I would not be allowed to wear a black Kufi and my attire was confiscated as I was given a tan uniform. I was given one phone call to let everyone know what happened. I had not seen any judge and within 48 hours I was zoomed off at 5:00 A.M. to Trenton State Prison, which sent me to Central Reception Assignment Facility (CRAF) butt naked in a jumpsuit and flip-flops. I was issued #550844, and old number and simply told I would see Classification. This is 31 years later. My family was not allowed to speak to me for a week. Upon seeing Classification I was told owed time—16 years with a five-year stipulation. The Classification Committee removed six years from the back of the sentence and gave me an early parole date of November 2023 plus 202 to jail credit days. This was my punishment for getting a reversal in 1994 and being re-sentenced, which in the original judgment of conviction showed there was a 256 Gap time days plus 202 jail credit and another eight months missing.
The judge has since died and on a motion has been filed to amend the judgment of conviction to reflect 1014 days are owed to me on the front of the sentence and 1059 on the back which under State v. HernandezState v. Beatty and State v. Rippy, I am entitled to every day. This time would put me at an immediate Parole Board to be released, or at least a halfway house, which, under New Jersey law, for which anyone who is 36 months short of the earliest release is eligible. I am in need in legal representation. I have been given a Public Defender and assigned Judge Deitch in Union County who is reviewing the pro se motion.
Today I need people to contact Judge Deitch at 908-787-1650 extension #21250 or in a written letter of support that such a motion be granted for an Amended Judgment under indictment # 88-12-2105. The address to write to the Judge Deitch is: County Courthouse, 2 Broad St., Elizabeth, NJ 07201. Otherwise I will continue to be lost in the system. Your help in my liberation as a changed, conscious man is imperative. No prison do I wish to be lost in, although I remain strong under such tormenting conditions. Please feel free to write.
Write to:
Mahmud Khabir Al-Matin
#550844 (3 Wing IT 152 Top)
East Jersey State Prison
Lock Bag 'R'
Rahway, NJ 07065



Support Chuck Africa for Parole

Michael Africa Jr. started this petition to Pennsylvania Governor

Charles Sims Africa #AM 4975 has been in prison since age 18. He is now 59 years old and a recovering cancer patient. He has been eligible for parole since 2008 but continually denied because of  his political views.
Charles has 8 codefendants. Two has died in prison, four has been released from prison onto parole. Chuck's sister Debbie Sims Africa is one of the four codefendants released onto parole.
Since coming home from prison, Debbie is thriving. Our community of support has supported Debbie to excel and we are committed to do the same for Chuck so that he can excel as well. 



On Abortion: From Facebook

Best explanation I've heard so far..., Copied from a friend who copied from a friend who copied..., "Last night, I was in a debate about these new abortion laws being passed in red states. My son stepped in with this comment which was a show stopper. One of the best explanations I have read:, , 'Reasonable people can disagree about when a zygote becomes a "human life" - that's a philosophical question. However, regardless of whether or not one believes a fetus is ethically equivalent to an adult, it doesn't obligate a mother to sacrifice her body autonomy for another, innocent or not., , Body autonomy is a critical component of the right to privacy protected by the Constitution, as decided in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), McFall v. Shimp (1978), and of course Roe v. Wade (1973). Consider a scenario where you are a perfect bone marrow match for a child with severe aplastic anemia; no other person on earth is a close enough match to save the child's life, and the child will certainly die without a bone marrow transplant from you. If you decided that you did not want to donate your marrow to save the child, for whatever reason, the state cannot demand the use of any part of your body for something to which you do not consent. It doesn't matter if the procedure required to complete the donation is trivial, or if the rationale for refusing is flimsy and arbitrary, or if the procedure is the only hope the child has to survive, or if the child is a genius or a saint or anything else - the decision to donate must be voluntary to be constitutional. This right is even extended to a person's body after they die; if they did not voluntarily commit to donate their organs while alive, their organs cannot be harvested after death, regardless of how useless those organs are to the deceased or how many lives they would save., , That's the law., , Use of a woman's uterus to save a life is no different from use of her bone marrow to save a life - it must be offered voluntarily. By all means, profess your belief that providing one's uterus to save the child is morally just, and refusing is morally wrong. That is a defensible philosophical position, regardless of who agrees and who disagrees. But legally, it must be the woman's choice to carry out the pregnancy., , She may choose to carry the baby to term. She may choose not to. Either decision could be made for all the right reasons, all the wrong reasons, or anything in between. But it must be her choice, and protecting the right of body autonomy means the law is on her side. Supporting that precedent is what being pro-choice means.", , Feel free to copy/paste and re-post., y
Sent from my iPhone



Celebrating the release of Janet and Janine Africa
Take action now to support Jalil A. Muntaqim's release

Jalil A. Muntaqim was a member of the Black Panther Party and has been a political prisoner for 48 years since he was arrested at the age of 19 in 1971. He has been denied parole 11 times since he was first eligible in 2002, and is now scheduled for his 12th parole hearing. Additionally, Jalil has filed to have his sentence commuted to time served by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Visit Jalil's support page, check out his writing and poetry, and Join Critical Resistance in supporting a vibrant intergenerational movement of freedom fighters in demanding his release.

48 years is enough. Write, email, call, and tweet at Governor Cuomo in support of Jalil's commutation and sign this petition demanding his release.

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York
Executive Chamber State Capital Building
Albany, New York 12224

Michelle Alexander – Author, The New Jim Crow
Ed Asner - Actor and Activist
Charles Barron - New York Assemblyman, 60th District
Inez Barron - Counci member, 42nd District, New York City Council
Rosa Clemente - Scholar Activist and 2008 Green Party Vice-Presidential candidate
Patrisse Cullors – Co-Founder Black Lives Matter, Author, Activist
Elena Cohen - President, National Lawyers Guild
"Davey D" Cook - KPFA Hard Knock Radio
Angela Davis - Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - Native American historian, writer and feminist
Mike Farrell - Actor and activist
Danny Glover – Actor and activist
Linda Gordon - New York University
Marc Lamont Hill - Temple University
Jamal Joseph - Columbia University
Robin D.G. Kelley - University of California, Los Angeles
Tom Morello - Rage Against the Machine
Imani Perry - Princeton University
Barbara Ransby - University of Illinois, Chicago
Boots Riley - Musician, Filmmaker
Walter Riley - Civil rights attorney
Dylan Rodriguez - University of California, Riverside, President American Studies Association
Maggie Siff, Actor
Heather Ann Thompson - University of Michigan
Cornel West - Harvard University
Institutional affiliations listed for identification purposes only
Call: 1-518-474-8390

Email Gov. Cuomo with this form

Tweet at @NYGovCuomo
Any advocacy or communications to Gov. Cuomo must refer to Jalil as:
Sullivan Correctional Facility,
P.O. Box 116,
Fallsburg, New York 12733-0116



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



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.*** 



Courage to Resist
daniel hale drone activist
Drone vet turned activist facing 50 years for whistle-blowing
Daniel Hale, an Air Force veteran and former US intelligence analyst was arrested May 9th and charged with violating the Espionage Act. Daniel is a well-known anti-drone activist who has spoken out a number of anti-war events and conferences. He's a member of About Face: Veterans Against the War, and he's featured in the documentary "National Bird." For years, Daniel has expressed concern that he'd be targeted by the government.  Learn more.
Podcast: "There were US anti-war soldiers all over the world" - Hal Muskat
"I told my command officer that I wasn't going to, I was refusing my orders [to Vietnam] … In his rage, he thought if he court-martialed me, he'd have to stay in the Army past his discharge date." While stationed in Europe, Hal Muskat refused orders to Vietnam and joined the GI Movement, resulting in two court martials. This Courage to Resist podcast was produced in collaboration with the Vietnam Full Disclosure effort of Veterans For Peace. Listen to Hal Muskat's story.

Chelsea Manning returned to jail after brief release; Faces half million dollar fine in addition to another 18 months prison
Since our last newsletter less than two weeks ago, Chelsea Manning was freed from jail when the grand jury investigating Julian Assange and WikiLeaks expired. However, a few days later, she was sent back to jail for refusing to collaborate with a new grand jury on the same subject. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ordered Chelsea fined $500 every day she is in custody after 30 days and $1,000 every day she is in custody after 60 days -- a possible total of $502,000. Statement from Chelsea's lawyers.
Stand with Reality Winner, rally in DC
June 3, 2019 at 7pm (Monday)
Lafayette Square, Washington DC 
Please join friends and supporters as we raise awareness of the persecution of this young veteran and brave truth teller. This marks two years of imprisonment of Reality for helping to expose hacking attempts on US election systems leading up to the 2016 presidential election. For more info, visit the "Stand with Reality" pages on Twitter or FacebookOrder "Stand with Reality" shirts, banners, and buttons from Left Together protest shirts.

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


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/



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.]



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.

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

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



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.

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.

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

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:

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.

    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) Civil Rights Turned Topsy-Turvy
    The Trump administration is moving on two fronts to undo civil rights protections.
    By Linda Greenhouse, August 29, 2019

    Illustration by The New York Times; Photographs by Samuel Corum for The New York Times and Alexander Helin, via Getty Images

    The Trump administration is so busy trying to undo longstanding civil rights protections and blocking new ones that it is stumbling over its own feet. Those twin goals have collided in recent days in a way that's worth unpacking for what it reveals about the upside-down civil rights era we seem to be entering.
    On Oct. 8, the second day of its new term, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — the basic statutory protection against discrimination in employment — should be understood to prohibit discrimination against gay men, lesbians and transgender individuals. The administration, rejecting the view of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has filed briefs in the last few days (which lawyers for the E.E.O.C. refused to sign) arguing that the answer is no.
    The brief in the transgender discrimination case and in the gay rights case both make the same argument: that Congress didn't include either category when it listed race, religion, national origin and sex as the characteristics it intended to protect, and it is up to Congress, and not the courts, to add gay and transgender to the list if Congress so desires. (The argument on the other side is that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is logically understood to be discrimination on the basis of sex — no matter what Congress thought it was doing back when same-sex relations were illegal and no one talked about gender identity.)
    Both government briefs point the justices to the same example of what the administration's lawyers say is proper judicial deference to Congress: the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibits the denial of housing opportunities on the basis of race, religion and national origin. An interpretive question about the Fair Housing Act has been whether it prohibits only intentional acts of discrimination, or whether violations can be proven by showing that actions that appear neutral on their face — a zoning policy or mortgage practice, for example — have a disparate impact on members of one of the protected groups.

    Whether the housing act bars disparate-impact discrimination had been widely litigated by 1988, when Congress amended the law in some substantial ways. Every federal appeals court to have addressed the question, nine of them by then, interpreted the law to encompass disparate claims. Congress left the issue alone.
    The analogy that the administration draws from that episode is to Title VII, which Congress substantially amended in 1991 to restore protections that a newly conservative Supreme Court had undermined in a series of decisions in 1989. It is "especially likely," the Trump administration contends, that the 1991 Congress knew that no judicial decisions had read protections for gay or transgender people into Title VII, and yet it did not choose to add those protections. Consequently, the court should defer to Congress's choice.
    That's a sketchy argument on many levels — gay sex was still illegal in 1991, gender dysphoria was still invisible, and I see no evidence that Congress made a conscious choice, pro or con — but I want to make a different point. The same administration that points the justices to Congress's decision not to mess with the disparate-impact prong of housing discrimination is itself, right now, in the face of that same old congressional inaction, trying through administrative rule making to scale back the availability of disparate impact claims.
    That's what I mean when I say the administration's twin goals are colliding with each other. The administration is set on weakening the Fair Housing Act even as it champions Congress's refusal to weaken the Fair Housing Act. The administration injects that refusal into the debate over the right of gay and transgender people to be free from job discrimination, telling the court that Congress's silence means there is no such right.
    Earlier this month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a proposed rule titled "HUD's Implementation of the Fair Housing Act's Disparate Impact Standard." In this document, which is now in a 60-day public comment period, the department declares that "It is HUD's intention that plaintiffs will bring claims which are better supported and defendants will be able to resolve unsupported claims of discriminatory effect more quickly, therefore leading to the prompt resolution of disparate impact for all parties." Translated into English, that mouthful of bureaucratese means: We want to make housing discrimination cases harder to bring and more likely to lose.

    The department claims the proposed revisions are necessary to "align with the decision of the Supreme Court" in a 2015 case called Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project. This was a fascinating case. It marked the last of three efforts by conservative forces (the state of Texas, in this instance) to propel a disparate-impact case to a Supreme Court that was viewed as increasingly open to the argument that not only did the Fair Housing Act not encompass such a claim, but that the Constitution might even prohibit it. The civil rights community was so alarmed when the court agreed to hear the earlier two cases, in 2011 and 2013, that it arranged to have the cases settled before the justices could decide them. Despite the fact there was still no disagreement among the federal appeals courts that disparate-impact discrimination was covered by the housing act, the conservative justices persisted, and agreed to hear the appeal by Texas in Inclusive Communities.
    The court was almost universally expected to dispense with disparate-impact liability. That it didn't happen left the civil rights community astonished and the conservative justices fuming; Justice Samuel Alito's dissenting opinion was half again as long as Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion for the 5-to-4 majority. In his opinion, Justice Kennedy offered a sympathetic account of the role of disparate impact liability, which he said "permits plaintiffs to counteract unconscious prejudices and disguised animus that escape easy classification as disparate treatment."
    But he also warned about "the serious constitutional questions that might arise" if liability under the Fair Housing Act was imposed "based solely on a showing of a statistical disparity." He said that "a disparate-impact claim that relies on a statistical disparity must fail if the plaintiff cannot point to a defendant's policy or policies causing that disparity." Disparate impact should be understood to include "a robust causality requirement," Justice Kennedy said.
    So while it was hardly the victory that conservatives had hoped for, the Kennedy opinion on close reading did cast a shadow over disparate impact. (Roger Clegg, a longtime warrior for restrictive interpretations of civil rights laws, wrote in National Review this summer that "perfection" would require going further: a Supreme Court decision that "the disparate-impact approach is unconstitutional since it is a requirement that decisions be made with an eye on race and achieving particular racial results." 
    In its proposed rule, HUD has taken Justice Kennedy's language and run with it. Fleshing out the requirement that plaintiffs show a "robust causal link" between the challenged policy or practice and the discriminatory impact, the rule requires that to avoid dismissal of their lawsuit, plaintiffs must be able to make a "plausible allegation" that the policy is "arbitrary, artificial, and unnecessary to achieve a valid interest or legitimate objective." Cases relying on statistics to show discriminatory impact, cases to which banks and the mortgage industry have strongly objected for years, would be considerably harder to win. Additionally, plaintiffs would have to show not only that they suffered discrimination as individuals but that the challenged practice "has the effect of discriminating against a protected class as a group." As I read the various clauses in the proposed rule, statistics would be all but useless in proving a case, but vitally necessary to prevent dismissal before trial.
    Whatever becomes of the Fair Housing Act, a jewel of the Second Reconstruction of the 1960s, this episode reveals two important facets of the current moment. One is the extent to which the HUD has become this administration's dirty underbelly. While the department's nominal secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, is busy decorating his office suite, dedicated right-wing operatives fill the policy-level positions and come up with such gems as authorizing federally subsidized homeless shelters to deny admission to transgender people on religious grounds, and requiring the eviction from public housing of families with even one undocumented member. Policies like these don't produce the shocking visuals of the administration's heartless policies at the southern border (yes, I mean pictures of distraught or even dead children). They are simply cruel, and it's galling that they are being carried out by an agency established in 1965 to help create President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. (It's also worth noting that an administration that claims to be at war with the "administrative state" seems enraptured with administrative rule making to achieve policy goals for which it wouldn't be able to get Congress's consent.)
    The current episode also illuminates the extent to which the Supreme Court is helping itself to the power it was willing, not so long ago, to cede to Congress. In its string of conservative interpretations of civil rights statutes in the late 1980s, the justices were content to let Congress push back and restore the laws to their prior meaning, as it did in the Civil Rights Act of 1991. But in suggesting, as Justice Kennedy, that disparate impact liability itself might violate the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause — a prospect that never even came up during the 1989-1991 political struggle — the court is on the road to constitutionalizing a policy difference in a way that disables Congress and shuts down politics. (My colleague Reva B. Siegel explains this dynamic brilliantly in a recent article titled "The Constitutionalization of Disparate Impact.")

    The administration, through the Department of Labor, issued another proposed rule this month, to expand the eligibility of federal contractors for religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.
    The rule applies not to all federal contractors, only to those organized as a "religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society." That's a limitation, obviously, but scarcely as much as one might think. The rule further states that to qualify as "religious," the organization need not be nonprofit, contain a house of worship or be "supported by, be affiliated with, identify with, or be composed of individuals sharing, any single religion, sect, denomination, or other religious tradition." The rule explains that "the critical inquiry" for the Labor Department office that oversees federal contracting "is whether a particular employment decision was in fact a sincere exercise of religion." The purpose is "to provide the broadest protection of religious exercise permitted by the Constitution and other laws," according to the department. 
    Would Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Colorado bakery owned by a self-described Christian "cake artist" whose religious beliefs about marriage prevented him from making a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, qualify as a religious organization under that expansive definition? At what point does such a rule morph into a license to discriminate? Answers to these questions, and others like them, will come from the Supreme Court — not exactly a comforting thought as summer ends and a new Supreme Court term looms.
    Linda Greenhouse, the winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize, writes on alternate Thursdays about the Supreme Court and the law. She reported on the Supreme Court for The Times from 1978 to 2008, and is the author of several books.

    2) 10,872 New Yorkers to See Their Marijuana Convictions Disappear
    Under a new law, New York State will expunge the records of those convicted of low-level marijuana crimes.
    By Azi Paybarah, August 28, 2019

    "For too long communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana," said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.CreditCreditShannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Even as states across the country have legalized marijuana, potentially opening the door to a multibillion dollar industry, the impact of marijuana criminalization is still being felt by people — mostly black and Hispanic — whose records are marked by low-level convictions related to the drug. 
    But on Wednesday, New York began the process of expunging many of those records, as part of a new state law to reduce penalties associated with marijuana-related crimes, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo confirmed. 
    "For too long communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana and have suffered the lifelong consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction," Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. 

    Under the new law, which was passed in June and took effect on Wednesday, 10,872 people in New York City will automatically have their records wiped clean of marijuana convictions, according to a spokeswoman for the State Division of Criminal Justice Services. In the rest of the state, an additional 13,357 people will see marijuana convictions cleared from their records, the spokeswoman said.

    Sealing these records would ensure that a person's marijuana-related conviction would not come up in most background checks, state officials said. 
    A method for expunging the records, which has never been done in New York, is still being developed, the officials said. The process could take up to a year, a spokesman for the State Office of Court Administration, Lucian Chalfen, said. 
    The Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit group, said the number of people who would have their records cleared could be many times higher than the number cited by the state; the alliance cited figures showing that between 1990 and 2018, 867,701 arrests were made in New York State for low-level marijuana offenses.
    Under the new law, the classification of the penalty for possessing between one and two ounces of marijuana has been lowered to a violation, and fines have been capped at $200. Previously, such possession was a Class B misdemeanor. The fine for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana has been lowered to $50, from $150. 
    The move to reduce fines and clear people's records has been embraced by advocates of criminal justice reform, many of whom said criminal penalties for using marijuana fell disproportionately on black and Hispanic residents.

    Khalil A. Cumberbatch, an advocate who was pardoned by Mr. Cuomo in 2014 after serving time for a robbery conviction, said in a statement that expunging marijuana records "gives people a new lease on life, removing the suffocating stain of stigma that prevents so many from reaching their highest potential." 
    State Senator Zellnor Myrie of Brooklyn, a co-sponsor of the bill, said he hoped lawmakers will build on this "first step."
    "I represent Brownsville; that was ground zero for a lot of this," he said of marijuana enforcement. Expunging records "is just the beginning of the state recognizing the errors of that war."
    In February, a study from John Jay College found that "blacks and Hispanics consistently had higher rates of arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession compared to whites."
    Kevin Sabet, director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an advocacy group, said he embraced expunging low-level offenses, but not full legalization.
    "We don't want people in prison for marijuana use," Mr. Sabet said. "But the criminal sanctions on marijuana is not a reason to commercialize and normalize marijuana."
    Mr. Sabet said he wanted to see marijuana possession likened to driving over the speed limit. "It's something discouraged," he said, "but it's not something that is going to destroy your life if you're caught doing it."

    New York began decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana in 1977, one of the few states to take such a step at that time. In 2014, the state legalized a medicinal marijuana program with restrictions that reflected Mr. Cuomo's apprehension toward the drug; for example, smoking and eating the drug are prohibited under that program.
    Today, more than 30 states allow medical use of marijuana. Eleven states have legalized the adult use of marijuana. Last year, the district attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn stopped prosecuting cases of marijuana possession and smoking in public.


    3) F.B.I. Raids U.A.W. Chief's Home as Financial Inquiry Widens
    By Neal E. Boudette, August 29, 2019
    "The current contract expires on Sept. 14. The automakers aim to reach agreements to lower their health care expenses and other costs."

    Gary Jones, president of the United Automobile Workers. The union said it had cooperated with a long-running federal corruption inquiry.CreditCreditPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    Federal agents on Wednesday raided the home of the president of the United Automobile Workers union in the midst of a widening investigation of financial wrongdoing by union and management officials.
    Agents also executed search warrants at a 1,000-acre U.A.W. resort in Michigan and other locations, an F.B.I. spokeswoman said.
    The investigation has uncovered the improper use of millions of dollars of funds — some of it earmarked for training union members — and bribery of union officials by auto executives. In some cases, the funds were spent on personal travel and purchases of Rolex watches and other high-priced items.

    Eight people, including three former Fiat Chrysler executives, have been sentenced in the case. Another defendant, Michael Grimes, a former senior U.A.W. official, faces federal conspiracy charges.

    On Wednesday morning in Canton, Mich., a Detroit suburb, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched the home of the union chief, Gary Jones, who was elected U.A.W. president last year.
    Another search was carried out at the union's money-losing resort and golf course, known as Black Lake, in Onaway, Mich., 250 miles north of Detroit. The union has been building a retirement home at Black Lake for Mr. Jones's predecessor, Dennis Williams, who was union president from 2014 to 2018.
    The F.B.I. declined to comment further on the searches, and there were no reports of arrests. Neither Mr. Jones nor Mr. Williams has been charged in the investigation.
    In a statement on Wednesday, the U.A.W. said the raids were unnecessary because the union and Mr. Jones had been cooperating with investigators and had provided hundreds of thousands of documents and other material.
    The raids come as the union is negotiating new labor contracts with General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler. By Friday, the union is expected to have results of voting by its members on whether to authorize strikes as part of the negotiations.

    The current contract expires on Sept. 14. The automakers aim to reach agreements to lower their health care expenses and other costs. The union is pushing the manufacturers to add jobs at American plants. In talks with G.M., the union hopes to persuade the company to reopen the Lordstown, Ohio, car factory that ceased production this year.
    "The sole focus of President Jones and his team will be winning at the bargaining table for our members," the U.A.W. said in the statement.
    The federal investigation into wrongdoing dates back several years and has implicated high-ranking figures on both sides of the auto industry's union-management divide.
    Last month, Norwood Jewell, a union vice president, was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty in a scheme in which money set aside for a training center funded by Fiat Chrysler was used inappropriately for travel, lodging and meals.
    Fiat Chrysler's former head of labor relations, Alphons Iacobelli, was sentenced last year to five and a half years in prison. He was found to have used a training center's funds to pay for elaborate home renovations and luxuries including a $350,000 Ferrari sports car. Mr. Iacobelli also authorized $1.2 million in payments of training center funds to a union official and the official's wife.
    The charges against Mr. Grimes, filed this month, were the first with a General Motors connection. Prosecutors said Mr. Grimes had conspired with two unnamed union officials to use their positions with the U.A.W. and a nonprofit training center funded by G.M. to enrich themselves through bribes and kickbacks from vendors. A plea hearing for Mr. Grimes, who is free on bond, is scheduled next week.

    Susan Beachy contributed research


    4) The People Who Think Bernie Is Moderate
    By Annie Lowrey, August 29, 2019


    Senator Elizabeth Warren wants new taxes on wealth. Senator Bernie Sanders wants Medicare for All. Senator Cory Booker wants guaranteed jobs. Jeff Mackler wants the elimination of the military budget, the nationalization of the energy and banking industries, open borders, the creation of a state-run health-care system, and the end of capitalism in the United States.

    A member of the Trotskyist party Socialist Action, Mackler is one of a handful of true, full-fat, no-joke socialist candidates running or considering running for president in 2020. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looks at the Democratic primary and sees the proposed Cubafication of the country; Mackler looks at it and sees neoliberal accommodationism. "Bernie gets a little attention when he says things like, 'Three people in the United States control half the wealth in the country,'" he told me with a chuckle. "He has no proposal to change that in any way!"
    Between McConnell and Mackler, the latter probably has the better argument. Historians and political scientists—and socialists themselves—make the point that although the left has moved to the left, there is still a lot of left left to the left. Progressives have become more progressive, and Nordic-model policies more popular; membership in the Democratic Socialists of America has boomed. But socialism—real socialism, meaning worker collectives and the nationalization of critical industries and the end of the free-enterprise model? In the presidential race, nobody is even talking about it.

    Save for Mackler and people like him. The Oakland-based candidate is gearing up for his 2020 campaign for the White House, with planned rallies and meetings from Kentucky to Maine. "We don't expect to win. We're going to be write-in candidates in maybe a dozen states," he said. "But we will win if we build our party."
    In Florida, Elijah Manley, a college student, activist, and former staffer for Senator Mike Gravel's 2020 bid, is also running a socialist protest campaign. A member of the Green Party and the Socialist Party of the United States of America (SPUSA), Manley told me that his goal is to talk about justice wherever and however he can. "A lot of that comes from my background—there are issues that as a black person from the South and a queer person, I don't think are reflected in politics," he said, also citing the need for more focus on generational justice and the rights and representation of young people.
    His campaigning has involved delineating his policy preferences, building a social-media presence, and going on Fox News to represent the socialist perspective. "One of the commentators said that people buying avocado toast at Starbucks is why they are poor," he said, adding that he got a more receptive response on the channel than he imagined.
    These candidates differ from the Democrats on policy, putting forward far, far more sweeping proposals than even Sanders has. Mackler scoffed at Warren's plan to tax fortunes over $50 million at 2 percent a year, recalling a time he suggested a 100 percent levy on income over $150,000 a year. Manley said he supports proposals like Medicare for All and free college tuition, but nevertheless wants to keep workers controlling the means of production as a north star. "I'm not the type of person to attack other people on the left," he said. "But those policies aren't socialism."
    Monica Moorehead, the once and perhaps future presidential candidate for the Workers World Party, supports reparations, guaranteeing all Americans a decent standard of living, and ending the carceral state. "We see this as class struggle," she told me. "Are you on the side of the bosses and the bankers who exploit workers around the world? Or are you on the side of working people, including people of color?" Within that class struggle, the socialists' goal is not to hem in capitalism's excesses, as Democrats largely want to do, but to end the hegemony of capitalism.
    Of course, for many Republicans and conservative commentators, everyone from Manley to Joe Biden represents a socialist threat. "We will never be a Socialist or Communist Country. IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE!," the president tweeted in July. McConnell has used the term to bash Democrats' voting-rights legislation, the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and expanding statehood to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, repeatedly expressing shock that the Democrats want to destroy free enterprise.

    This is an old rhetorical move, not a serious piece of contemporary political analysis. As the Cornell historian Lawrence Glickman, the author of a new book on free enterprise, has pointed out, Republicans have termed whatever the Democrats have wanted as "socialism" and whomever they choose to run as a "socialist" regularly since the New Deal. Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis: all socialists.
    "The key is the binary framing, freedom or free enterprise on one side, and any modification of that is deemed socialism on the other," Glickman told me. "If you mess with with free enterprise, you will ultimately get through the slippery-slope process to what they posit as socialism. And socialism is more often a code word for New Deal liberalism and its descendants than actual socialism."
    Indeed, the country's binary politics elide much of the nuance that exists on the left in other countries. Democrats have moved toward what is elsewhere often called "social democracy," meaning a mixed economy with a robust welfare state. "It's a term that's common in Europe that's never taken off here," explains Michael Kazin, a historian at Georgetown and a longtime activist on the left. "That's what Bernie Sanders is. Certainly, he'd be right at home in the Labour Party in Britain." Further to the left lies democratic socialism, which supports social ownership of the economy itself.
    But these separations are not clean; the lines between social democrats and democratic socialists and progressives and New Deal Democrats are drawn and erased and redrawn over and over again. Making the whole thing more confusing is the fact that Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist, not a proponent of social democracy. Making it even more confusing is the fact that the country's most popular and influential socialist organization—the DSA's membership has swelled to nearly 60,000, from just a few thousand a few years ago—endorses Democratic candidates, including Barack Obama and Sanders.
    The decision is tactical, Kazin says, and serves to expand the DSA's influence and the influence of socialist ideas. "Given we have a zero-sum political system and given the fact that the two parties are quite ideologically opposed now, I think a third party on the left would be suicide," he told me. "It would just help Republicans, as Jill Stein did in 2016."
    Members of Socialist Action, the SPUSA, and other third parties see it differently, arguing that the Democratic Party is irredeemably compromised and that voters deserve true alternatives. "Nothing ever changes without independent mass struggle—independent of the two parties, which both represent fundamentally the interests of the rich," Moorehead told me. "We can't have a kinder, gentler capitalism."
    The socialists' campaigns and socialist parties might not be popular. But that idea surely is, as evidenced by Sanders's success, the populist drift of all the Democratic candidates, and the popularity of proposals like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. Come 2020, there won't be a socialist in the White House. But there might be some socialism.

    5) Why People Hate Religion
    The charlatans and phonies preen and punish, while those of real faith do Christ’s work among refugees.
    "In one of the most explicit passages of the New Testament, Christ says people will be judged by how they treat the hungry, the poor,the least among us."
    By Timothy Egan, August 30, 2019

    Getty Images

    You don’t hear much about Sister Norma Pimentel in the secular press. She’s not a wacko, a hypocrite, a sexual predator or a political operative. Her life’s work, she says, is guided by seeing “the presence of God” in migrant children in the shelter she oversees in the Rio Grande Valley — vulnerable souls that her president would otherwise put in cages.
    What you hear about is the phonies, the charlatans who wave Bibles, the theatrically pious, and they are legion. Vice President Mike Pence wears his faith like a fluorescent orange vest. But when he visited the border this summer and saw human beings crammed like cordwood in the Texas heat, that faith was invisible.
    “Trump Orders Pence to Find Passage in Bible Where Jesus Tells People to Get the Hell Out.” Though a satirical headline, from the comic writer Andy Borowitz, the above could pass for any day in Trump world.
    Pence is the chief bootlicker to a president who now sees himself in messianic terms, a president who tweets a description of himself as“the second coming of God.” As hard as it to see God Part II boasting about grabbing a woman’s genitals, paying hush money to a porn actress, or calling neo-Nazis “very fine people,” millions of overtly religious Americans believe in some version of Jesus Trump, Superstar.

    What you hear about are the modern Savonarolas. In Indiana this summer, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson stripped a Jesuit prep school of its Catholic identity for refusing to fire a gay, married teacher. The same threat loomed over another Indianapolis school, until it ousted a beloved teacher with 13 years of service. He was fired for getting married to another man — a legal, civil action.
    The archbishop claimed he was upholding Catholic teaching, an example of the kind of selective moral policing that infuriates good people of faith.
    Catholic teaching also frowns on divorce. But when a divorced teacher, at the same school where the gay teacher was fired, remarried without a church-sanctioned annulment and posted her status on Facebook as a dare, the archbishop did nothing. For this is a road that leads to thrice-married, politically connected Catholics like Newt Gingrich, whose wife Callista (with whom Gingrich carried on an adulterous affair before getting married) is now Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Vatican.
    Archbishop Thompson says he tries to be “Christ-centered” in his decisions. If so, he should cite words from Christ condemning homosexuality, any words; there are none. That may be one reason a healthy majority of Catholics are in favor of same-sex marriage, despite what their spiritual sentries tell them.

    Religious hypocrites are an easy and eternal mark. The French Revolution was driven in part by the revulsion of starving peasants toward the overfed clerics who had taken vows of poverty. The Protestant Reformation took flight on disgust at a church in Rome that sold passages to heaven, enriching men who had multiple mistresses after taking vows of chastity.

    White evangelical Christians, the rotting core of Trump’s base, profess to be guided by biblical imperatives. They’re not. Their religion is Play-Doh. They have become more like Trump, not the other way around. It’s a devil’s pact, to use words they would understand.
    In one of the most explicit passages of the New Testament, Christ says people will be judged by how they treat the hungry, the poor,the least among us. And yet, only 25 percent of white evangelicalssay their country has some responsibility to take in refugees.
    Evangelicals give cover to an amoral president because they believe God is using him to advance their causes. “There has never been anyone who has defended us and who has fought for us, who we have loved more than Donald J. Trump,” said Ralph Reed at a meeting of professed Christian activists earlier this summer.
    But what really thrills them is when Trump bullies and belittles their opponents, as counterintuitive as that may seem. Evangelicals “love the meanest parts” of Trump, the Christian writer Ben Howe argues in his new book, “The Immoral Majority.” Older white Christians rouse to Trump’s toxicity because he’s taking their side. It’s tribal, primal and vindictive.
    So, yes, people hate religion when the loudest proponents of religion are shown to be mercenaries for a leader who debases everything he touches. And yes, young people are leaving the pews in droves because too often the person facing them in those pews is a fraud.
    They hate religion because, at a moment to stand up and be counted on the right side of history, religion is used as moral cover for despicable behavior. This is not new to our age. Hitler got a pass from the Vatican until very late in the war.

    Still, we are “prisoners of hope,” as Archbishop Desmond Tutu loves to say. And if you’re looking for hope in the midnight of the American soul, look no further than Sister Pimentel’s shelter for hundreds of desperate children in McAllen, Texas.
    Growing up, Sister Pimentel was going to be an artist, she says, until she felt a strong tug on her soul; it compelled her to a lifetime of selfless service. Faith is not that complicated. Religion always is.
    Timothy Egan (@nytegan) is a contributing Opinion writer who covers the environment, the American West and politics. He is a winner of the National Book Award and author of the forthcoming “A Pilgrimage to Eternity.”


    6) Ryan Russell, N.F.L. Free Agent, Comes Out as Bisexual: ‘It’s So Much Better Than Hiding’
    “I think the N.F.L. is definitely ready to accept an openly L.G.B.T.Q. player,” the defensive end said in an interview.
    By Neil Vigdor, August 30, 2019

    CreditCreditBrandon Wade/Associated Press

    Ryan Russell shares a lot in common with many N.F.L. players: the grueling off-season training rituals documented on Instagram, the competitive fire and, yes, a nagging injury that kept him sidelined for all of last season. 
    But Russell, a free-agent defensive end, said in an interview on Thursday night that he was holding something back: He is bisexual. Earlier in the day, Russell opened up about his sexual orientation in a personal essay published by ESPN

    Russell, 27, who has played for the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is the only male athlete in the four major professional sports leagues to openly identify as L.G.B.T.Q.

    “It’s so much better than hiding and holding it in and just kind of repressing myself,” Russell said by phone. “I think the N.F.L. is definitely ready to accept an openly L.G.B.T.Q. player.”

    The sports world and prominent L.G.B.T.Q. advocates took note of Russell’s frankness about his sexual orientation. He said he received words of encouragement from a number of former teammates. There was even a Twitter shout-out from the tennis legend Billie Jean King, who is gay. 
    “His desire to make this process easier for L.G.B.T.Q. professional athletes in the future is inspiring,” King wrote. 
    Russell said he was awed by the reception. 
    “That was a moment, definitely a star-struck moment that she would even tweet my name,” he said. “That’s huge.”

    No other athletes in the four men’s professional sports leagues — the N.F.L., N.B.A., M.L.B. and N.H.L. — are openly bisexual or gay. This is only the second time an active N.F.L. player has openly identified as L.G.B.T.Q. 
    “Ryan’s Russell’s decision to come out will undoubtedly have a big impact on L.G.B.T.Q. acceptance in professional sports,” Zeke Stokes, chief programs officer for the advocacy group Glaad, said in a statement on Thursday. “Everyone should be able to bring their full, authentic selves to work, and that includes the N.F.L.”
    The N.F.L. and the N.F.L. Players Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday. 
    In 2014, the N.F.L.’s first openly gay player, Michael Sam, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams — now the Los Angeles Rams — in the seventh round. Sam’s path to the N.F.L. was widely chronicled at the time. 
    But Sam, an all-American at the University of Missouri and a co-defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference in 2013, was cut by the Rams and never played a down in the N.F.L. In 2015, he said he was stepping away from the game for “mental health” reasons after a brief stint in the Canadian Football League. 
    Russell said one of the people he had reached out to was Ryan O’Callaghan, a former member of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs who last played football in 2010 and came out as gay two years ago. 
    “Once I made the decision to come out, there wasn’t really any second-guessing,” Russell said. 
    In 2013, Jason Collins became the first N.B.A. player to come out as gay, writing in a Sports Illustrated essay that he didn’t want to hide anymore.

    “It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret,” wrote Collins, a first-round draft pick who spent 13 seasons in the N.B.A. before retiring. “I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time.”
    While there has been a dearth of male athletes in major sports leagues who are openly L.G.B.T.Q., a number of top female athletes are openly gay, including the World Cup soccer hero Megan Rapinoe and the W.N.B.A. players Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne.
    “You’re not going to be hearing me call myself a trailblazer,” Russell said. 
    Russell missed all of the 2018 season because of a shoulder injury that he sustained in the 2017 season, when he played in 14 games for the Buccaneers, seven of them as a starter. It was his second season in Tampa after spending his rookie year with the Cowboys, which drafted Russell, then at Purdue, in the fifth round. 
    Russell said the past year had been transformative for him after the death of a close friend and a move to Los Angeles, where he has been writing poetry and allowing himself to become more open and vulnerable. 
    He said that if even one little boy saw him on television and gained more self-confidence, the experience would be worth it. Russell said he had visited the San Francisco 49ers and was optimistic that he would sign with a team for the upcoming N.F.L. season, which starts on Thursday. He said he didn’t think his coming out would create a distraction. 
    “Good will come from it,” he said, adding, “If nothing else, I will be able to clear my own conscience and go into a N.F.L. locker room” and a help a team win.


    7) She’s a World-Famous Model. So Why Did an Australian Magazine Get Her Photo Wrong?
    Adut Akech is a 19-year-old modeling superstar. But after a magazine misidentified her in a photo, she says she is no longer staying quiet about racism in the industry.
    By Isabella Kwai, August 29, 2019

    CreditCreditLandon Nordeman for The New York Times

    Adut Akech is a 19-year-old modeling superstar. She’s earned a coveted spot in a Chanel haute couture show and graced magazine covers, and she was recently singled out in British Vogue by Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, as one of fifteen women who are forces for change.
    But when she saw the Who magazine profile of her during a trip back home to Australia, she noticed something amiss: the accompanying photo was not of her, but of Flavia Lazarus, another black model. 

    “I felt angry, hurt and disrespected, all at once,” she said when she spoke to me over the phone from Melbourne this week, ahead of the city’s Fashion Week. Even worse, the photo ran next to an interview in which she reflected on racism and her experience of growing up as a Sudanese Australian.

    It was like a slap in the face, she said. “How is it that you can’t tell it’s not me?”
    On Instagram, she decided to speak up. “We know that this doesn’t happen with white models,” she wrote, adding: “Australia, you’ve a lot of work to do.”

    Her post about the misprint has fed into an ongoing conversation about the racism people of color confront in fashion and entertainment where, although diversity is having a moment,white faces are still the norm.
    Since she started her career with Chadwick Models three years ago, Adut has become more outspoken about discrimination generally, while becoming one of the industry’s most sought after models. It’s an issue she’s dealt with for years. She arrived in Australia as a child refugee after her family fled South Sudan for Kenya and grew up in Adelaide, where teachers at school called her “Mary” because they could not pronounce her name.
    With Who magazine, she said, the photo must have been seen by several editors before it went to print, adding that in her career she had never seen white models being mistaken for one other. “This is an important conversation that needs to happen,” she said.

    The magazine has apologized for the error, along with OPR, the public relations agency that sent photos containing of Adut and other models from Melbourne Fashion Week to Who.
    But it is not the first example of prominent magazine outlets making mistakes with nonwhite subjects. In January this year, Vogue magazine apologized after Noor Tagouri, a Libyan American journalist, was misidentified as Pakistani actress Noor Bukhari in its American issue. Actors from the film “Crazy Rich Asians” also pointed out some of their castmates were misidentified in a photo on People’s digital site. 
    In Australia, some conservative commentators have defended Who magazine, saying mistakes have occurred to white people too. But Adut is one of many others that say such incidents have been a constant refrain for nonwhite models — and they are no longer staying quiet about it. 
    While the fashion industry at large needs to improve, she said, Australia is behind in terms of recognizing diversity and the fact that the incident is happening in the place she considers home has saddened her. “It wouldn’t hurt me or surprise me as much if it happened elsewhere,” she told me. 
    “I don’t want this to ever happen with somebody else,” she said. “This needs to stop right here.”


    8) Sick Migrants Undergoing Lifesaving Care Can Now Be Deported
    By Miriam Jordan and Caitlin Dickerson, August 29, 2019

    CreditCreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

    LOS ANGELES — Maria Isabel Bueso was 7 years old when she came to the United States from Guatemala at the invitation of doctors who were conducting a clinical trial for the treatment of her rare, disfiguring genetic disease. The trial was short on participants, and thanks to her enrollment, it eventually led the Food and Drug Administration to approve a medication for the condition that has increased survival by more than a decade.
    Now 24, Ms. Bueso, who had been told she likely would not live past adolescence, has participated in several medical studies. She has won awards for her advocacy on behalf of people with rare diseases, appearing before lawmakers in Washington and in Sacramento. Over the years, her parents have paid for the treatment that keeps her alive with private medical insurance.
    But last week, Ms. Bueso received a letter from the United States government that told her she would face deportation if she did not leave the country within 33 days, an order described by her doctor, lawyer and mother as tantamount to a “death sentence.”

    Without any public announcement, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services eliminated a “deferred action” program this month that had allowed immigrants like Ms. Bueso to avoid deportation while they or their relatives were undergoing lifesaving medical treatment. The agency said that it received 1,000 deferred-action applications related to medical issues each year.

    The policy change is the latest in a series of moves by the Trump administration to revoke or modify procedures that have allowed certain immigrants to remain in the United States on humanitarian grounds. In addition to those with serious medical conditions, they included crime victims who have helped law enforcement with investigations and caretakers of sick children or relatives.
    “I have been feeling super scared and overwhelmed,” said Ms. Bueso, whose lower body is paralyzed from the disease, an enzyme disorder that inhibits cells from processing sugars. “The treatment that I receive keeps me alive.”
    Over the last two years, major changes to immigration policy have been made with little notification given to the federal workers charged with carrying them out, beginning with a travel banimposed by President Trump in his first weeks in office, and the “zero tolerance” approach that led to family separations last summer.
    A spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Services said requests for deferred action must now be made to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency responsible for removing people from the country.
    But an ICE official said that the department had not been notified in advance about the change and questioned the agency’s ability to assume that role.

    Bryan Cox, a spokesman for ICE, said in a statement this week that the agency “reviews each case on its own merits and exercises appropriate discretion after reviewing all the facts involved,” as it does for all requests for deferred action.
    In letters reviewed by The New York Times, Ms. Bueso, her family and other deferred action applicants were told that requests would be considered only from people who are in the military, and that the authorities would “commence removal proceedings” against those who did not leave the country.
    Martin Lawler, Ms. Bueso’s lawyer in San Francisco, said he had been told “there is no appeal, and nobody has told us how to proceed.”
    Among others who could be forced to leave the country are children being treated for sickle-cell anemia, cancer and other illnesses.
    Representative Ayanna Pressley, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said Wednesday that she planned to call for a congressional oversight hearing on the matter after learning about 20 patients who had received denial letters for renewals.

    “What’s so troubling about this, beyond the cruelty of it, is the lack of transparency around the process,” she said. “There was no public comment period, not even a public announcement of this, and so I’m working with my colleagues to get answers and to urge this administration to change course.”

    Every week for several years, Ms. Bueso has received intravenous infusions of the replacement enzyme that treats her disease, Mucopolysaccharidosis VI, or MPS-6, which causes dwarfism, clouded vision and spinal cord compression, among other abnormalities.
    “Stopping this therapy will dramatically shorten her life span,” said Paul Harmatz, the pediatric gastroenterologist who was involved in the original trial and has been treating Ms. Bueso since 2003 at the U.C.S.F. Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Calif.
    The clinical trial had struggled to find patients, and without Ms. Bueso’s participation, Dr. Harmatz said, it would not have taken place. The breakthrough that came from the trial has helped people with the disease live longer than 30 years, he said. Before the drug, they rarely survived past 20.
    Across the country, doctors and immigration lawyers scrambled to understand the new policy and its consequences. In Miami, it meant possibly keeping an 8-year-old girl with nerve cancer from participating in an experimental treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Her father, who is in the country illegally, is the only parent available who can travel with her, said Tammy Fox-Isicoff, a Miami immigration lawyer who is representing the family.
    Without deferred action, the man cannot legally drive or board an airplane from Miami to New York, where the girl must go each month for the treatment.
    In a statement, Boston Medical Center, a research hospital in a city that is a hub for clinical trials and innovative treatments, said it was “deeply concerned” about the new policy and how it would affect its patients who are receiving treatment for “extremely serious medical conditions.”
    “We oppose any actions that could prevent people from accessing the health care they need,” the hospital said.

    Brent Renison, a lawyer who is representing an Indian woman who could be affected, said deferred action was “meant to allow for some discretion, to recognize cracks in the law that people fall into, and alleviate humanitarian situations and needless suffering.”
    It has been 16 years since Ms. Bueso began receiving weekly infusions of the approved drug, Naglazyme. She has built a productive life despite the crippling disease. Last year, she graduated summa cum laude from California State University, East Bay, where she worked with the school to start a scholarship for students with rare diseases.
    Her family lives in a middle-class neighborhood in Concord, Calif., in a house her parents bought and renovated to accommodate their daughter’s wheelchair. They did not expect to leave the country, having won permission to stay every time they applied for an extension.
    When Mr. Lawler, the family’s lawyer, told them about the government’s decision last week, Ms. Bueso began to shake uncontrollably.
    “We were crying with the nurses, doctors, everyone,” her mother, Karla Bueso, said. “Without her treatment, it’s like a death sentence. It has been hard to process.”
    Neither the drug nor the medical care that she requires is available in Guatemala. Without the drug, her health is expected to quickly deteriorate. Her breathing could become belabored; she could suffer cardiac arrest and become susceptible to infections.
    “We have watched her grow up and mature, and become a responsible young adult, a leader advocating nationally,” Dr. Harmatz said. “If you take it away, it will be a rapid return to her previous state. Death would be the outcome.”

    Miriam Jordan reported from Los Angeles and Caitlin Dickerson from New York.


    9) Cuba drastically reforms fishing laws to protect coral reef, sharks and rays
    Reforms will oblige Cuba to work more closely with its US neighbours – in spite of US President Trump’s frosty attitude
    “Even before the new law, the country had some of the most successful conservation strategies in the world,” said Valerie Miller of the Environmental Defence Fund. “Cuba was talking about climate change years before many others and stayed ahead in conservation strategies. It has an extremely healthy coral reef with some of the world’s best biodiversity.”
    By Jo Griffin, August 26, 2019

    Goliath grouper and Caribbean reef sharks, in the Jardines de la Reina national park, Cuba. Photograph: Biosphoto/Alamy

    Cuba has introduced sweeping reforms of its fishing laws in a move seen as smoothing the way for possible collaboration with the US on protecting their shared ocean, despite Donald Trump’s policy of reversing a thaw in relations.

    The move is the first time the text of an environmental law in Cuba specifies the need for scientific research, which experts say will mean greater reliance on state-of-the-art US technology. 
    “If we don’t look for collaboration we can’t have the full picture,” said Jorge Angulo Valdes, a Cuban marine biologist at the University of Florida. Ocean science must continue to transcend political pressures, he said. “Trump is doing everything he can to close the doors on collaboration. Cuba is doing everything to make it easier to keep those doors open.”
    Cooperation is as vital to US interests as it is to Cuba, Angulo-Valdes said. The two countries are separated by just 140km (90 miles) of water, and Cuban waters provide spawning grounds for species of snapper, grouper and other commercially important reef fish in the US. Maintaining healthy numbers of bonefish, a lucrative game fish in south Florida, for example, depends on protecting the species in Cuban waters, where the bonefish spawn, said Angulo Valdes.
    The reforms are Cuba’s first major overhaul of fishing laws for more than 20 years and a major step for preservation of some of the world’s most important marine ecosystems, said Dan Whittle, Caribbean director of the US-based Environment Defence Fund (EDF), which has worked with Cuba on conservation and sustainable fishing and brokered several of its key environmental agreements with the US.
    “These laws also level the playing field because now the US can say that their neighbours are using the most up-to-date science,” said Whittle.
    Despite having some of the world’s best preserved marine ecosystems, Cuba has seen declining fish populations, including of key commercial stocks like grouper and snapper. Angulo Valdes said: “Marine resources weren’t doing well, nearly 80% were in critical condition. The old law didn’t cover the private sector and wasn’t working.”
    The new laws aim to curb illegal fishing, recover fish populations and protect small-scale fisheries, with increasing use of data-limited methods that allows fisheries to assess which species are most vulnerable, even when scientific data on specific stocks is scarce. The laws also separate sport and recreational fishing and brings fisheries under the management of the food industry ministry (Minal).
    A key feature is a new licensing framework for the growing private commercial fishing sector in Cuba. Established in 2009 to increase seafood production and create jobs, this sector now has 18,000 private commercial fishers operating out of more than 160 fishing ports to provide seafood to state markets.
    After former president Barack Obama normalised relations with Cuba in 2014, the countries signed landmark environmental deals and in 2017 the countries signed a pact to jointly prevent and clean up oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, shortly before Trump took office.
    Trump has tightened the US economic embargo on the Caribbean island and imposed heavy travel restrictions, after years of a boom in US travel to Cuba.
    In May the Associated Press said restrictions has begun to hurt scientific cooperation and reported Patricia González, director of the University of Havana’s Centre for Marine Research, as saying that Cuban ocean scientists were being granted fewer visas to travel to the US and that some of their American counterparts were worried about travelling to Cuba in case they faced retaliation on their return home.
    “[Under Trump] NGOs have continued doing ground research involving scientists from Cuba and the US but it has been slower and more under the radar,” Whittle said.
    Cuba’s past isolation was a factor in preservation of its stunning coral reefs, including its famed Gardens of the Queen, a national park covering 850 square miles that was named by Christopher Columbus to honour Spain’s Queen Isabella I.
    “Even before the new law, the country had some of the most successful conservation strategies in the world,” said Valerie Miller of the Environmental Defence Fund. “Cuba was talking about climate change years before many others and stayed ahead in conservation strategies. It has an extremely healthy coral reef with some of the world’s best biodiversity.”
    Whittle said: “[The reforms] are important for the people of Cuba but are also a significant step in international efforts to preserve some of the world’s most important coral reefs, sharks, rays and other marine life.”




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