Month of Momentum:
 30 Days of Action to Close the Camps (ICE SF)
A month of daily actions every day in August from Noon to 1pm
(Unless otherwise specified)

ICE – San Francisco
630 Sansome St

Calendar: https://bit.ly/32MTXEs  



Mitchel Cohen is touring California in August

to present his new book,

The Fight Against Monsanto's Roundup:
The Politics of Pesticides

Written and edited by Mitchel Cohen    
Foreword by Vandana Shiva     
Skyhorse Publishing 2019

A Comprehensive Look at the Worldwide
Battle to Defend Ourselves and Our Environment
Against the Peddlers of Chemical Poisons

"This may be one of the most important books you read this year. We are being poisoned, and this book is sounding a well-informed alarm. Read it. Get educated and then join the thousands rising up against those who care more for profit than the health of our bodies and our earth."   -- Eve Ensler, 
New York Times best-selling author of I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World, The Vagina Monologues, and In the Body of the World

Chemical poisons have infiltrated all facets of our lives — housing, agriculture, work places, sidewalks, subways, schools, parks, even the air we breathe. More than half a century since Rachel Carson issued Silent Spring — her call-to-arms against the poisoning of our drinking water, food, animals, air, and the natural environment — The Fight Against Monsanto's Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides takes a fresh look at the politics underlying the mass use of pesticides and the challenges people around the world are making against Monsanto's most dangerous creation, glyphosate.

Events in the Bay Area and Nearby:

Events are listed chronologically, and by location.
Scroll down for events near you!

Events Nearby:

OAKLAND, Friday, Aug. 16th, 7 pm: "The wider context." E.M. Wolfman Bookstore, 410-13th St., Oakland (with Dennis Bernstein and Sallie Latch). For details, call 510-679-4650

BERKELEY, Saturday, Aug. 17th, 7 pm: Revolution Books, 2444 Durant Ave. at Telegraph, Berkeley. Free. For details, call 510-848-1196.
_  _  _  _  _  _  _

Please visit www.thepoliticsofpesticides.com for more info on author/editor Mitchel Cohen, the other contributors, chapter excerpts, and praise for the book from Bill Ayers, Joel Raskin, Karl Grossman, Sylvia Federici, Bertell Ollman and many others.



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) "Better Living Through Chemistry?" Think Again!

    By Chris Kinder, May/June 2019 Socialist Viewpoint, Vol. 19, No. 3

    The Fight Against Monsanto's Roundup, the Politics of Pesticides
    Mitchel Cohen and others. Forward by Vandana Shiva
    Skyhorse Publishing
    New York, 2019
    "Better Living Through Chemistry" was an advertising slogan, I think for Dow Chemical, seen on black and white TV when I was a youth in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It all seemed so innocent back then. But it never was. 
    The stuff chemical giants like Dow, Dupont, etc., were selling then—pesticides such as DDT and malathion for instance—were all part of an explosion of chemical products following World War II, most based on the development of chemical warfare during the war. Development for war continued, as with the notorious Agent Orange—the long-lasting and harmful effects of which were covered up by Dow and Monsanto—used in the devastating U.S. war on Vietnam. But proliferation of toxic chemicals doesn't stop there. 
    Massive applications of pesticides and herbicides such as Monsanto's Roundup, along with genetically-engineered crops and artificial fertilizers, have transformed big agriculture in a new sort of war. The "green revolution" was supposed to help "feed the world," but we now see it as not only promoting U.S. imperialist interests for market domination, but also actually destroying healthy food production worldwide, all in the name of profit. But imperial domination on the farm fields is only one side of the widespread effects of chemical saturation on humans, animals and the environment.

    Roundup causes cancer

    Roundup's reputation as a cancer-causing poison has been getting some well-deserved ink lately, with a couple of precedent-setting court wins by victims. Over a thousand additional cases against Monsanto are pending. Despite Monsanto's lying insistence that Roundup attacks plants only, not animals, a high correlation between Roundup usage and contraction of non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a cancer that starts in the white blood cells—which are key to the body's immune system—has been found—but not by U.S. regulatory agencies! 
    It took the World Health Organization's cancer unit, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), to find that glyphosate—the key ingredient in Roundup—was a "probable cause" of cancer in humans and animals. U.S. regulatory agencies, compromised by collusion with chemical corporations—under both Democratic and Republican administrations—were AWOL on this issue.  Unfortunately, the IARC finding came only in 2017, over 40 years after the introduction of Roundup as a herbicide, and after it had already been widely used by the cancer victims coming forward today.

    Activists and scientists take on Monsanto

    Environmental activist, anarchist and poet Mitchel Cohen is the lead author and editor of this book, which includes 14 other authors, including Brian Tokar, lecturer on environmental studies at the University of Vermont; Steve Tvedten, who describes the lessons of his 50 years as a pest control operator; and Stephanie Seneff, PhD, a senior research scientist at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. The preface is by Vandana Shiva, PhD, an Indian scholar, physicist, and environmental and food sovereignty advocate and activist. Together, these writers describe a disturbing and alarming story of the poisoning of the earth in graphic detail. 
    Cohen, as a co-founder of the No Spray Coalition, is a veteran of this struggle and many others. As a leader of the No-Spray Coalition, he helped win a seven-year fight against then New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani's indiscriminate spraying of the organophosphate malathion by aircraft and spray trucks over the city to combat the so-called West Nile Virus. He also organized a campaign to rid NYC public schools of milk from cows injected with Bovine Growth Hormone, a genetically-engineered monstrosity also from Monsanto, also discussed in this book. Mitchel is a long-time Green Party activist who has run for mayor of New York City. And he's a poet, with compilations delightfully titled, One-Eyed Cat Takes Flight, and The Permanent Carnival

    Spraying the city

    This West Nile virus was much less of a threat than it was portrayed. The spraying operation killed more people than the virus ever did, including people sprayed, and operators of the trucks doing the spraying! Eight members of the No-Spray Coalition itself died from cancers or other disorders caused or exacerbated by the spraying. 
    Mitchel describes his first encounter with the spraying:
    "[September 4th, 1999] I was strolling through Prospect Park in Brooklyn on that warm day near the end of summer. Hundreds of people were out in the park sunbathing, reading, kissing, walking their dogs. Kids were everywhere playing baseball and soccer. Suddenly, helicopters buzzed just above the tree line spraying a substance we later learned was malathion—one of a class of organophosphate pesticides invented as a nerve gas by the Nazis in World War II—spewing out in substantial bursts. They drenched 526-acre Prospect Park that afternoon, spraying the malathion over and onto hundreds of children. There were a few police cars patrolling, but none of them warned people to get out of the park and off the streets. I ran like a lunatic trying to get the kids away from the spray. And then I held my breath as long as I could and ran out of the park."

    The politics of pesticides

    The politics of all this is never far from Cohen's (and the other authors') rendering. The title of the Chapter in which this personal experience is reported is, "Poisoning the Big Apple—Forgotten History in the Lead-Up to 9/11." Two years before 9/11, as Mitchel reports, U.S. government officials were ramping up preparations for an attack on Saddam Hussein. Hussein, they said, "...had sent to New York City some arcane virus that was killing birds, mostly crows, and that it could be transmitted to people by mosquitoes. Panic ensued." Just as today as Trump's personal lawyer, Giuliani, then working from his bunker in the World Trade Center, was in lock-step with the nefarious plans of U.S. imperialism.
    The intertwining of the development and use of noxious chemicals such as malathion and Monsanto's Roundup with the international aims of U.S. capitalism is central to this book. Roundup, as well as genetically-engineered crops pioneered by Monsanto to work in tandem with it, is shown to be a key to the transformation of agriculture in the U.S., and to U.S. designs to dominate world food markets, as well as to Monsanto's immense profits, of course. This war by other means has devastated agriculture worldwide from Mexico to India, and threatens the health of farmers and others who use Roundup, as well as the health of the soil, the very basis of all agriculture.

    Glyphosate is derived from an amino acid

    Roundup's key ingredient, glyphosate, is a derivative of the amino acid glycine. (This connection with glycine forms another whole side of the story.) It was discovered in 1950, acquired years later by Monsanto, and formulated for use as an herbicide. Widespread usage began in the 1970s, but the proliferation of this poison shot up dramatically when Monsanto came up with a neat little trick to corner a key agricultural market for itself: the development of genetically-engineered (GE) "Roundup ready" crops. Use of these pesticide-saturated GE crops—soon to be dubbed "franken foods"—caused sales to skyrocket for Monsanto because Roundup could be sprayed randomly over the fields, killing "weeds" everywhere, without harming the crop. 
    While Roundup reduced labor costs for farmers by eliminating the need for weed removal by hand, Monsanto profited both from Roundup sales and also by monopolizing the market for the seeds. This, together with other GE monstrosities such as seeds programmed to produce plants which lack viable seeds, prevents farmers from saving their seeds for future planting. But this is what farmers have done for millennia!

    A death-knell for agriculture 

    All of this is part of a swift and sure demolition of today's agriculture. The advent of synthetic pesticides after World War II helped launch a new era, that of mono-cropping on huge factory farms using pest control with chemicals sprayed regularly as preventatives. Mono-cropping itself encourages the development of insect predators on the huge single-crop fields, but the pesticide spraying (allegedly) took care of that—until it didn't.
    Insects, given their short life-spans—like the bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics—can evolve many, many times faster than large mammals such as humans. Crop-eating insects did just that, developing immunities to pesticides, despite numerous replacements of pesticide/herbicide chemicals with new, stronger poisons. This includes Roundup.
    Steve Tvedten, a former pest-control operator for over 50 years, reports in Chapter 11 that despite 70 years of "waging continuous chemical warfare, we have not controlled much less eliminated a single pest species. In fact, there are now many more pests causing much more damage than when we first began to spray pesticides after World War II!" One would think that scientists could have predicted this disaster.

    A fungus now immune to drugs

    As I was starting to write this review, and wondering how I could even begin to describe the vast amount of information in this book, a front-page article in the New York Times caught my eye: "Fungus Immune to Drugs Quietly Sweeps the Globe" (NYT April 7, 2019.) The story, part of a series called "Deadly Germs, Lost Cures," documents the "urgent" threat posed by a fungus germ, Candida auris. Apparently impervious to medications, C. aurishas caused panic in some medical establishments because of its apparent immunity to treatment, its ability to stubbornly permeate hospital environments, and its sometimes lethal effects. C. aurishas been around in relatively harmless forms for thousands of years, but apparently now there is this new strain. Dutch researcher Dr. Meis is quoted saying that "drug-resistant fungi were developing thanks to heavy use of fungicides on crops."
    Enter Roundup. While Cohen's book does not deal in any detail with fungi or fungicides specifically, it does make the point that glyphosate is toxic to more than just plants, and that it destroys the soil on farms by attacking the living organisms within. As University of Vermont lecturer Brian Tokar reports in Chapter 4, "[Roundup] is 100 times more toxic to fish than to people and is toxic to earthworms, soil bacteria, and beneficial fungi." Roundup and similar pesticides have to continually be ramped up or replaced with more toxic formulas, due to the rapid evolution of plants, which—as with bacteria, and the fungi in the soil—adapt to these poisons quickly.

    The interconnection of everything: "what is a weed?"

    This connection with a story on a fungus run amok in the New York Timesgoes to the heart of Mitchel Cohen's book: the interconnection of everything. In his Chapter 18 (Mitchel's seven Chapters are dispersed throughout the book,) He goes to the heart of science today; that is, science as dominated by capitalist corporations like Monsanto, versus what it ought to be. This not just about the facts—well discussed in this book—of Monsanto's use of ghost-written reports and other "scientific" documents that were never peer-reviewed or published to hoodwink corrupted U.S. regulatory agencies into passing on glyphosate. It is about the scientific method—as applied under capitalism—which tends to isolate the parts from the whole, and the whole from its parts. It's about the reductionist methodology that corporations like Monsanto use to isolate the pests it wants to eliminate from the overall environment. And it's about the need for a holistic approach, which views every element as part of a whole that needs to work together.
    "What is a weed?" Mitchel asks. Is it a pest to the farmer, but also a food for another species? We need only to consider the plight of the Western Monarch Butterfly. "It's not that anyone wants to kill butterflies," says Cathryn Swan, author of Chapter 7 in the book. Want to or not, Monsanto wasn't paying attention to this "part" of the whole. The widespread use of Roundup to destroy "weeds" has contributed to the obliteration of milkweed, which is the essential, and in fact only, food that the Monarch's larvae can eat. Monarchs migrate across the continent in an amazing three-generation-long cycle, in which the milkweed-eating larvae are an essential part. But these beautiful butterflies are now on the point of extinction, after a rapid several years-long decline due primarily to the loss of milkweed in California's rural farmland areas.

    Glyphosate's varying effects

    Many interconnections such as this proliferate in this book, such as those in Robin T. Falk Esser's Chapter 13, "Consequences of Glyphosate's Effects on Animal Cells, Animals, and Ecosystems." Falk Esser demolishes Monsanto's claim that glyphosate's water solubility would prevent it from harming animal species. Esser shows that, when combined with the fat solubility of other key ingredients in Roundup, glyphosate is in fact "found to be bioaccumulated by animal cells as well as plant cells!"  
    Also, MIT scientist Stephanie Seneff, in Chapter 20, "Glyphosate Acting as a Glycine Analogue, Slow Insidious Toxicity," makes some frightening conclusions about the possible links between glyphosate exposure and a whole raft of human conditions and diseases, including diabetes, obesity, Autism, kidney failure, Parkinson's and ALS, among others. 
    As the title of Seneff's Chapter indicates, glyphosate is derived from the amino acid glycine; and thus it retains glycine "residues," as Seneff describes it. This chemical connection allows glyphosate to imitate glycine, or "act as an analogue" of this amino acid in the human body's development of proteins. This, in turn, can corrupt and render useless certain proteins that the body needs. It also, says Seneff, could trigger an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system detects something wrong with this protein, and launches an attack, which could encompass the actual, uncorrupted protein. 
    Seneff also points to another alarming trait of glyphosate, that is, its ability to bond with toxic metals, such as arsenic, aluminum and lead. Noting that glyphosate was first used as a pipe cleaner because of its ability to strip metals off of metal pipes, and noting that Roundup is used widely in the agricultural areas surrounding Flint Michigan, Seneff says that, "one has to wonder whether glyphosate was a major contributor to the high levels of lead found in the drinking water" in that city!

    Think outside the spray truck!

    Seneff makes sure to point out that her theories have been indicated as possible by many studies, they have not been scientifically proven. While acknowledging that, she suggests several laboratory experiments which could be performed to validate her theories; and she says, "While many chemistry experts are skeptical that glyphosate could insinuate itself into proteins by mistake in place of glycine, it has not yet been proven that this does not happen. And, in my opinion, no compelling reasons preclude the possibility." She goes on: "In my opinion, the evidence is overwhelming that glyphosate is wreaking havoc on the earth's ecosystem, with multiple species beyond our own being adversely affected by this insidious, pervasive, toxic chemical." She advocates the shutting down of "the factories where it is being produced," and advises one and all to "switch to a 100 percent certified organic diet." 
    In an introductory comment at the head of Seneff's Chapter, Mitchel notes that the decision to include Seneff's hypotheses in the book "...is mine and mine alone, [and this inclusion] should not be used to malign or detract from the work of the other brilliant contributors to this book. We are opening up space for thinking outside the spray truck." (Emphasis mine)
    My opinion? I think this is great; all avenues suggested in this book should be looked into. Hopefully the book will inspire other honest scientists with access to labs to pursue proofs of Seneff's hypotheses.

    Monsanto's future? Or the future of our planet?

    Monsanto has recently been acquired by Bayer AG, the German chemical and pharmaceutical giant. Already a major producer of fungicides, insecticides and herbicides, Bayer also comes with a back-story of complicity in the Holocaust. This merger will give the combined company further ability to monopolize the world seed supply, and dominate the pesticide business. But why, Cohen asks in a recent radio interview about his book, would Bayer buy a company like Monsanto that comes with a multi-billion-dollar liability potential in over 11,000 lawsuits (and climbing,) in which cancer victims are now starting to win huge settlements? His answer: the company is planning to make a fortune on GE cannabis and herbicides, the business plan that made Monsanto huge profits! They're planning to ramp up Monsanto's example in new markets, and continue the poisoning of the earth.
    That's just another reason why I agree with Eve Ensler, whose comment, "This may be one of the most important books you read this year. We are being poisoned and this book is sounding a well-informed alarm," is on the cover of the book. 
    This work—and it did take several years of hard work to produce this—does sound a very important alarm. But the point, paraphrasing Marx, is not just to analyze the world, but to change it. And here I also agree with Bill Ayers, of Weather Underground fame, who writes in the first of 15 endorsements on the opening pages, "Seriously engaging the environmental catastrophe, which this important collection edited by Mitchel Cohen does brilliantly, and taking the necessary steps to solve it, will mean—I'll spit it out—overthrowing capitalism. This is the real choice in front of us: the end of capitalism or the end of the habitable earth, saving the system of finance capital or saving the system, which gives us life. Which will it be?"



    2) Trump Immigration Plan Offers a Ticket to the American Dream. The Poor Need Not Apply.
    By Michael D. ShearMiriam Jordan and 

    A visitor to the Statue of Liberty in New York City. "Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,'" said Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, the director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, on Tuesday.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

    Congress has so far failed to pass legislation that would create a merit-based immigration system, but the regulation announced Monday will have a similar effect, according to experts.

    As immigrants are subjected to a new array of evaluating factors, such as credit score, student debt and income level, the system will give preference to those with more skills and greater assets. In doing so, it will have gone a long way toward engineering Mr. Trump's goal of redefining what it is to be an American immigrant — without needing approval from lawmakers.

    The new policy will go into effect on Oct. 15 if it survives numerous legal challenges from immigration advocates, who call it the latest example of Mr. Trump's efforts to shut the United States off from the rest of the world. Lawyers for Santa Clara and San Francisco Counties in California filed lawsuits on Tuesday asking a court to block the regulation.
    But already, supporters and opponents of a robust immigration system are grappling with the question of how the 837-page regulation will affect the immigration landscape.
    What appears clear is that those who have lower incomes and others who are in poor health will be the most directly affected as immigration officials in the Trump administration determine that they are probably to be in need of costly public benefits like Medicaid, housing assistance and food programs.
    Maria, an immigrant, and Edward, who is American, were married two years ago. The young couple's lifetime earning potential is high: He is a military veteran who recently completed a degree in economics. She is completing a nursing degree. They are in the process of applying for her green card.
    But because of their relatively low current income, Maria could get rejected under the new rules, a prospect that worries the couple, who live in the Washington area and spoke on the condition that only their middle names be used out of concern that commenting publicly could hurt their case.
    "With all these new requirements, we will fall short, because we are just starting out," Maria said. "But we want to have the chance to fulfill our goals."
    Dario Aguirre, an immigration lawyer in Denver, said a 72-year-old grandmother with arthritic knees could be found a public charge because she cannot work and faces potentially expensive medical care. A construction worker making $30 an hour with three children and a stay-at-home spouse, he said, is likely to face more scrutiny than before about his ability to provide for his family without help from the government.

    "The new public charge could render the vast majority of applicants inadmissible," Mr. Aguirre said, adding that the new rule gives officers "carte blanche" to deny green cards to a broad spectrum of working-class immigrants from less developed countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
    There are nearly 13 million legal permanent residents in the United States, though the number constantly changes as hundreds of thousands each year become naturalized citizens and others win their green cards for the first time.
    Mr. Trump on Tuesday said the intention of the new policy is to make sure immigrants aren't heavily relying on costly public benefit programs.
    "I am tired of seeing our taxpayer paying for people to come into the country and immediately go onto welfare and various other things," Mr. Trump said. "So I think we're doing it right."
    But how much immigrants rely on public benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps is a subject of intense dispute.

    According to a report published in 2013 by the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, 32.5 percent of adult, American-born citizens received benefits through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, known as SNAP, compared with only 29 percent of adults who were not citizens.

    different study by the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates restricting immigration, found that 58 percent of noncitizens use welfare programs, compared with 30 percent for households headed by a native-born person.
    Though some immigrants qualify — directly or through their United States citizen children — for public benefits, estimates drawn together by the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy group, suggest that they contribute more in taxes than they draw from state and local governments.
    For example, an updated report released in March 2017 by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented immigrants alone contribute $11.74 billion each year in taxes, though they do not qualify for most public benefits.
    State-level analyses have found that immigrants more than offset with their taxes the amount they draw each year from public benefits — by $1 billion total in Florida, according to one report, and $1,500 per immigrant in Arizona, according to another.

    The likelihood that the new public charge rule will favor immigrants from European and developed countries is part of a long history of American immigration policy that has tended to give preference to Europeans over those from less developed parts of the world.
    When race-based quotas were abolished in name under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, they were replaced with a strong, legally enshrined preference for family-based green card petitions, but one that many historians say was intended to welcome in more Europeans wishing to join their family members in the United States.

    "This was a very highly calibrated attempt to increase European immigration," said Muzaffar Chishti, the director of the Migration Policy Institute's office at New York University School of Law. "It just did not work out that way," he said.
    Instead, a confluence of factors including rising quality of life in Europe, advancements in transportation technology and the end of colonial rule in countries in South and East Asia had unforeseen consequences. Europeans became less interested in American immigration, while instead the United States ushered in scores of others — Indian students, Filipino nurses, entrepreneurs from Hong Kong — who, in turn, petitioned to bring their family members behind them.
    As a result, while 85 percent of immigrants in the United States in 1970 were of European origin and 15 percent came from elsewhere in the world, Mr. Chisthi said, today the reverse is true.
    The way that means testing tends to favor immigrants from Europe and Canada already has become apparent over the past year as State Department consular officials began evaluating visas on the basis of whether applicants are likely to be heavy users of government benefits.
    Visa denials increased across the board, according to a report by Politico, particularly in less developed and impoverished countries. The data obtained by the news organization showed steep increases in visa denials for countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In Mexico, visa denials jumped to 5,343 during 10 months of 2018 and 2019, up from just seven in all of 2016.
    Tammy Fox-Isicoff, a Miami lawyer, said that an American-citizen client, an entrepreneur with an MBA, petitioned for his parents, 60 and 65 years old, who are both healthy and hold engineering degrees, to immigrate to the United States from Uzbekistan.
    Despite the fact that he presented proof of $470,000 in assets, his parents were denied immigrant visas based on the "totality of circumstances," according to correspondence reviewed by The New York Times. The consular officers required $1 million in assets from their son to reconsider the case.
    "They are making it really hard for American citizens to sponsor parents. Most of them are going to be over 60, at the very least," Ms. Fox-Isicoff said.

    3) Greta Thunberg Sets Sail for U.N. Climate Talks
    By Somini Sengupta, August 13, 2019

    Greta Thunberg on the Malizia II at the Mayflower Marina in Plymouth, England, on Tuesday.CreditCreditTom Jamieson for The New York Times

    PLYMOUTH, England — Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist, set sail Wednesday on a racing yacht bound for New York. The boat cast off from the Mayflower Marina here in this old English port city around 3 p.m. local time during a brief pause in the rain. 
    Ms. Thunberg wore black sailing gear and boots for what will be a roughly two-week journey at sea. "Unite Behind the Science," read the logo on her suit and on the mainsail, raised against a gray sky. Her hair was tied back in a signature braid.
    Ms. Thunberg is making this epic voyage because she has been invited to participate at the United Nations climate talks in September, and she refuses to fly because aviation has such an enormous carbon footprint.

    The yacht, Malizia II, a 60-foot open-cockpit monohull, has made many journeys across the ocean, but never with a 16-year-old novice. The boat has been fitted with solar panels to power its equipment. The conditions inside are spartan: There is no toilet nor much light in the cabin, so Ms. Thunberg will have to read by headlamp. In a particularly acute challenge for a teenager with more than 871,000 Twitter followers, she will not have much access to the internet.
    Ms. Thunberg has never done anything like this before. She said she was looking forward to being without the familiar luxuries, to "being so limited." She acknowledged being a bit nervous. "Whether it's seasickness or homesickness or just anxiety or I don't know," she said. "I don't know how tough this journey will be."
    Also, she said, she will really miss her two dogs.
    She has packed many books (she is currently reading "Quiet," a book about introverts, like her); eight writing journals, some partly filled; and boxes of freeze-dried vegan meals. (Ms. Thunberg stopped eating meat a few years ago, because of the emissions associated with animal protein.)
    There is a satellite phone on board, so she plans to send some pictures and text messages from her voyage to friends who will upload them on her social media accounts. Going to the toilet will mean going to the back of the boat with a bucket. Her drinking water will come from a tiny desalination machine that treats seawater.
    "By doing this it also shows how impossible it is today to live sustainable," she said. "That, in order to travel with zero emissions, that we have to sail like this across the Atlantic Ocean." 
    The epic journey of the Malizia II is the latest stage in an epic journey that Ms. Thunberg has been on for the last few years. As a child, doctors told her she had Asperger's syndrome. In early adolescence she battled severe depression, so much so that she stopped eating for a while and stopped growing.

    Recovery came slowly, and only after finding a sense of purpose. "I've had my fair share of depressions, alienation, anxiety and disorders," she wrote in a recent Facebook post. "But without my diagnosis, I would never have started school striking. Because then I would have been like everyone else."

    Her weekly school strikes began in Stockholm, her hometown, a year ago. They sparked a global youth movement to demand climate action and then turned her into something of a modern-day Cassandra, a target of praise and pointed attacks. In March came a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said he trusted young activists like her to "push societies to save our planet." This week, Steve Milloy, a former member of the Trump transition team, described her on Twitter as "the ignorant teenage climate puppet."
    Ms. Thunberg on Tuesday shrugged off the attacks. "They are doing everything they can to switch the focus from the climate crisis to me," she said. "That is what you have to expect when you talk about these things."
    Ms. Thunberg is taking the year off school. She is scheduled to attend the United Nations climate summit talks next month, speaking at a youth summit on Sept. 21 and then at the main meeting on Sept. 23. She also plans to travel to Chile for the next round of United Nations-sponsored climate talks in December. 
    Both meetings are to be attended by world leaders, all of whom have agreed, under the Paris Agreement, to keep global temperatures from rising to levels that would produce climate catastrophes. Still, global emissions continue to grow, and the world as a whole is not on track to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.
    "This is a big opportunity for those world leaders who say they've been listening to us to actually show that they've been listening to us, to actually prove that," Ms. Thunberg said.

    The voyage has drawn enormous media attention. Ms. Thunberg gave four face-to-face interviews Tuesday, spoke to other reporters on the phone in between, and greeted a few youth strikers who had come to Plymouth from elsewhere in Britain before heading into an emergency training session.
    There were many handlers and helpers. And there was Greta swag. One woman moving chairs for her well-wishers wore a sweatshirt that hollered, "Be Like Greta." Ms. Thunberg, for her part, wore a red hoodie and lilac sweatpants with a hole at the knee.
    Boris Hermann, the 38-year-old German captain, said he had crossed the Atlantic many times. In fact, he has sailed around the world in this yacht, finding routes where the wind was in his back, steering it through rain and darkness. This trip, though, would be different. "I feel a special responsibility also because it's an important trip for Greta and we promised to bring her over," he said. "I admire her leadership."

    The captain said he would try to take a southerly route to the United States to avoid the strongest headwinds, to find what he called the "softest" variations. If the wind is calm, it could be smooth sailing and his passengers would be able to relax and read. Or, there could be gusts of wind and rain. 
    There are two beds for Ms. Thunberg and her father, Svante, who is accompanying her. The others on the voyage — Mr. Hermann, the skipper; Pierre Casiraghi, the head of the Malizia II racing team; and a documentary filmmaker named Nathan Grossman — plan to sleep on beanbags. The boat has a motor and generator in the event of an emergency. 
    Ms. Thunberg will be close to Mr. Hermann's age in 2040, which is when, scientists say, climate catastrophes could strike the worldunless we move swiftly away from a fossil fuel based economy.

    "I have no idea how the world is going to look," she said. Either the world will have tackled the problem in time, she went on, or it will have crossed what scientists call "tipping points," beyond which it's impossible to return to normal weather patterns.
    "I can't really start planning my future," she said.
    That profound uncertainty animates the activism of many people of her generation. It explains, in large part, why she is taking this voyage across the ocean — and why, for the voyage, she wants to focus on the basics.
    "My goal is to feel as good as possible during the trip," she said

    Somini Sengupta covers international climate issues and is the author of "The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India's Young." @SominiSengupta  Facebook


    4) San Francisco School Board Votes to Hide, but Not Destroy, Disputed Murals
    The vote, which came after a tense meeting, nullified an earlier vote to paint over Depression-era school murals that some considered offensive to minorities.
    By Carol Pogash, August 14, 2019

    One of the 13 murals that make up "The Life of Washington" at George Washington High School in San Francisco.CreditCreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

    In a compromise that did not appear to end the fight, the San Francisco Board of Education voted Tuesday night to conceal, but not destroy, a series of Depression-era school murals that some considered offensive to Native Americans and African-Americans.
    The 4-to-3 vote, which came after a tense and emotional meeting, nullified the board's earlier vote to paint over the murals, a decision that had brought widespread complaints of censorship.
    Even though the murals would now be preserved, defenders of the artwork objected to the new decision to hide them from view. Jon Golinger, executive director of the Coalition to Protect Public Art, a group formed to preserve the murals, said that his group "would not yet rule out any legal or political options, including a possible initiative on the S.F. ballot."
    "While it is a step in the right direction to take permanent destruction off the table, we will continue to strongly oppose spending $815,000 to permanently wall off the murals so nobody has the choice to see them or learn from them," he said.

    Those who contended the murals were too disturbing to students also left the meeting dissatisfied and in some cases angry. One school board member, Alison M. Collins, an African-American who wanted the murals destroyed or removed, said that she blamed "outside actors" who "dictate to our children, mine included, what they should see and the stories they should be told. This is not history; it is a remnant from a bygone era."

    The murals, a series of 13 frescoes titled "The Life of Washington," were painted by Victor Arnautoff, a Russian émigré and a Communist, in the hallways of George Washington High School in the mid-1930s as the school was being built.
    His frescoes were intended to be critical of the first president, and by extension the country's treatment of African-Americans and Native Americans. Three of the panels are at issue: one showing Washington's slaves at Mount Vernon, another showing a Native American with a scalp dangling from his waist, and a third showing a dead Native American at Washington's feet.

    In liberal San Francisco, residents are accustomed to fights over the cost of housing, tech-fueled gentrification and neighborhood homeless shelters. But the dispute over this artwork has been more heated and vitriolic than most.

    Responding to complaints from Native Americans and others who said the paintings were racist and harmful to black and Native American students who saw them, the school board unanimously voted in June to paint over the murals. 
    But with pressure from local preservationists and attention from the national news media, the president of the school board, Stevon Cook, an African-American, wrote a new resolution that eliminated the plan to paint over the murals while assessing ways for them to be removed from public view "using solid panels" or other "materials, means or methods."
    At Tuesday night's meeting, the Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco branch of the N.A.A.C.P., which is in favor of keeping the murals on display, told the board, "It pains me that we have become complicit in a move to do a redaction of history."
    Gray Brechin, a historian and founder of the Living New Deal Project, accused board members of not understanding "what you're looking at." He called on people "to recall the school board."
    Earlier this week, the actor Danny Glover, a Washington High graduate, joined the coalition to save the murals and said that destroying or blocking them from view "would be akin to book burning."

    But Mark Sanchez, a school board member who voted against the compromise on Tuesday, said in an interview that people who wanted to save the murals were putting "art over humanity." He added, "If the murals depicted the Holocaust, they wouldn't be in a public school."

    In an emotional speech at the meeting, another board member, Faauuga Moliga, said: "I don't get why people are standing up for this. There are black and brown boys who are dying." But Mr. Moliga voted for the compromise, saying that he wanted the board to move on to more pressing educational matters.
    Sharez Brown, a 16-year-old junior at George Washington High School who spoke to the board before the vote, said that the murals were "hurtful and harmful to many students." She said that they "tell the history from the perspective of white people," and added that "students should never have to hear 'I'll meet you at the dead Indian.'"

    My NYT Comment: August 14, 2019
    School is a place of learning. Redacting historical truth has no place in schools. This mural, and many other murals and artworks like them were placed in public spaces—and schools are public spaces—to keep history alive. This mural, in particular, represents the truth about how our nation was founded. It was founded on genocide and slavery. And the remnants of that foundation is the foundation of the racism and bigotry that exists and is currently growing right now, today, all across this country. You can cover it up. But it's fangs are growing sharper day by day. Only recognition of the truth can change this world for the better. Should we cover up the mass shootings? Hide them from view? Redact them from the news? Or should we fight to change this ongoing legacy of the founding of this country? I say we should redact the system that puts profit, conquest and greed over the needs of people and the planet we share. —Bonnie Weinstein


    5) The Silence Is the Loudest Sound
    The Indian government has confined about seven million Kashmiris to their homes and imposed a complete communications blackout.
    By Arundhati Roy, August 15, 2019

    Atul Loke for The New York Times

    NEW DELHI — As India celebrates her 73rd year of independence from British rule, ragged children thread their way through traffic in Delhi, selling outsized national flags and souvenirs that say, “Mera Bharat Mahan.” My India is Great. Quite honestly, it’s hard to feel that way right now, because it looks very much as though our government has gone rogue.
    Last week it unilaterally breached the fundamental conditions of the Instrument of Accession, by which the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India in 1947. In preparation for this, at midnight on Aug. 4, it turned all of Kashmir into a giant prison camp. Seven million Kashmiris were barricaded in their homes, internet connections were cut and their phones went dead.

    On Aug. 5, India’s home minister proposed in Parliament that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution (the article that outlines the legal obligations that arise from the Instrument of Accession) be overturned. The opposition parties rolled over. By the next evening the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 had been passed by the upper as well as the lower house.

    The act strips the State of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status — which includes its right to have its own constitution and its own flag. It also strips it of statehood and partitions it into two Union territories. The first, Jammu and Kashmir, will be administered directly by the central government in New Delhi, although it will continue to have a locally elected legislative assembly but one with drastically reduced powers. The second, Ladakh, will be administered directly from New Delhi and will not have a legislative assembly.

    The passing of the act was welcomed in Parliament by the very British tradition of desk-thumping. There was a distinct whiff of colonialism in the air. The masters were pleased that a recalcitrant colony had finally, formally, been brought under the crown. For its own good. Of course.
    Indian citizens can now buy land and settle in their new domain. The new territories are open for business. Already India’s richest industrialist, Mukesh Ambani, of Reliance Industries, has promised several “announcements.” What this might mean to the fragile Himalayan ecology of Ladakh and Kashmir, the land of vast glaciers, high-altitude lakes and five major rivers, barely bears consideration.
    The dissolution of the legal entity of the state also means the dissolution of Article 35A, which granted residents rights and privileges that made them stewards of their own territory. So, “being open for business,” it must be clarified, can also include Israeli-style settlements and Tibet-style population transfers.
    For Kashmiris, in particular, this has been an old, primal fear. Their recurring nightmare (an inversion of the one being peddled by Donald Trump) of being swept away by a tidal wave of triumphant Indians wanting a little home in their sylvan valley could easily come true.

    As news of the new act spread, Indian nationalists of all stripes cheered. The mainstream media, for the most part, made a low, sweeping bow. There was dancing in the streets and horrifying misogyny on the internet. Manohar Lal Khattar, chief minister of the state of Haryana, bordering Delhi, while speaking about the improvement he had brought about in the skewed gender ratio in his state, joked: “Our Dhakarji used to say we will bring in girls from Bihar. Now they say Kashmir is open, we can bring girls from there.”
    Amid these vulgar celebrations the loudest sound, however, is the deathly silence from Kashmir’s patrolled, barricaded streets and its approximately seven million caged, humiliated people, stitched down by razor wire, spied on by drones, living under a complete communications blackout. That in this age of information, a government can so easily cut off a whole population from the rest of the world for days at a time, says something serious about the times we are heading toward.
    Kashmir, they often say, is the unfinished business of the “Partition.” That word suggests that in 1947, when the British drew their famously careless border through the subcontinent, there was a “whole” that was then partitioned. In truth, there was no “whole.” Apart from the territory of British India, there were hundreds of sovereign principalities, each of which individually negotiated the terms on which it would merge with either India or Pakistan. Many that did not wish to merge were forced to.
    While Partition and the horrifying violence that it caused is a deep, unhealed wound in the memory of the subcontinent, the violence of those times, as well as in the years since, in India and Pakistan, has as much to do with assimilation as it does with partition. In India the project of assimilation, which goes under the banner of nation-building, has meant that there has not been a single year since 1947 when the Indian Army has not been deployed within India’s borders against its “own people.” The list is long — Kashmir, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Hyderabad, Assam.
    The business of assimilation has been complicated and painful and has cost tens of thousands of lives. What is unfolding today on both sides of the border of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir is the unfinished business of assimilation.
    What happened in the Indian Parliament last week was tantamount to cremating the Instrument of Accession. It was a document with a complicated provenance that had been signed by a discredited king, the Dogra Hindu King, Maharaja Hari Singh. His unstable, tattered kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir lay on the fault lines of the new border between India and Pakistan.

    The rebellions that had broken out against him in 1945 had been aggravated and subsumed by the spreading bush fires of Partition. In the western mountain district of Poonch, Muslims, who were the majority, turned on the Maharaja’s forces and on Hindu civilians. In Jammu, to the south, the Maharaja’s forces assisted by troops borrowed from other princely states, massacred Muslims. Historians and news reports of the time estimated that somewhere between 70,000 and 200,000 were murdered in the streets of the city, and in its neighboring districts.
    Inflamed by the news of the Jammu massacre, Pakistani “irregulars” swooped down from the mountains of the North Western Frontier Province, burning and pillaging their way across the Kashmir Valley. Hari Singh fled from Kashmir to Jammu from where he appealed to Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian prime minister, for help. The document that provided legal cover for the Indian Army to enter Kashmir was the Instrument of Accession.

    The Indian Army, with some help from local people, pushed back the Pakistani “irregulars,” but only as far as the ring of mountains on the edge of the valley. The former Dogra kingdom now lay divided between India and Pakistan. The Instrument of Accession was meant to be ratified by a referendum to ascertain the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. That promised referendum never took place. So was born the subcontinent’s most intractable and dangerous political problem. 
    In the 72 years since then, successive Indian governments have undermined terms of the Instrument of Accession until all that was left of it was the skeletal structure. Now even that has been shot to hell.
    It would be foolhardy to try to summarize the twists and turns of how things have come to this. Let’s just say that it’s as complicated and as dangerous as the games the United States played with its puppet regimes in South Vietnam all through the 50s and 60s.
    After a long history of electoral manipulation, the watershed moment came in 1987 when New Delhi flagrantly rigged the state elections. By 1989, the thus far mostly nonviolent demand for self-determination grew into a full-throated freedom struggle. Hundreds of thousands of people poured onto the streets only to be cut down in massacre after massacre.

    The Kashmir valley soon thronged with militants, Kashmiri men from both sides of the border, as well as foreign fighters, trained and armed by Pakistan and embraced, for the most part, by the Kashmiri people. Once again, Kashmir was caught up in the political winds that were blowing across the subcontinent — an increasingly radicalized Islam from Pakistan and Afghanistan, quite foreign to Kashmiri culture, and the fanatical Hindu nationalism that was on the rise in India.

    The first casualty of the uprising was the age-old bond between Kashmir’s Muslims and its tiny minority of Hindus, known locally as Pandits. When the violence began, according to the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, or the K.P.S.S., an organization run by Kashmiri Pandits, about 400 Pandits were targeted and murdered by militants. By the end of 1990, according to a government estimate, 25,000 Pandit families had left the valley.
    They lost their homes, their homeland and everything they had. Over the years thousands more left — almost the entire population. As the conflict continued, in addition to tens of thousands of Muslims, the K.P.S.S. says 650 Pandits have been killed in the conflict.
    Since then, great numbers of Pandits have lived in miserable refugee camps in Jammu city. Thirty years have gone by, yet successive governments in New Delhi have not tried to help them return home. They have preferred instead to keep them in limbo, and stir their anger and understandable bitterness into a mephitic brew with which to fuel India’s dangerous and extremely effective nationalistic narrative about Kashmir. In this version, a single aspect of an epic tragedy is cannily and noisily used to draw a curtain across the rest of the horror.

    Today Kashmir is one of the most or perhaps the most densely militarized zone in the world. More than a half-million soldiers have been deployed to counter what the army itself admits is now just a handful of “terrorists.” If there were any doubt earlier it should be abundantly clear by now that their real enemy is the Kashmiri people. What India has done in Kashmir over the last 30 years is unforgivable. An estimated 70,000 people, civilians, militants and security forces have been killed in the conflict. Thousands have been “disappeared,” and tens of thousands have passed through torture chambers that dot the valley like a network of small-scale Abu Ghraibs.

    Over the last few years, hundreds of teenagers have been blindedby the use of pellet-firing shotguns, the security establishment’s new weapon of choice for crowd control. Most militants operating in the valley today are young Kashmiris, armed and trained locally. They do what they do knowing full well that the minute they pick up a gun, their “shelf life” is unlikely to be more than six months. Each time a “terrorist” is killed, Kashmiris turn up in their tens of thousands to bury a young man whom they revere as a shaheed, a martyr.

    These are only the rough coordinates of a 30-year-old military occupation. The most cruel effects of an occupation that has lasted decades are impossible to describe in an account as short as this.
    In Narendra Modi’s first term as India’s prime minister, his hard-line approach exacerbated the violence in Kashmir. In February, after a Kashmiri suicide bomber killed 40 Indian security personnel, India launched an airstrike against Pakistan. Pakistan retaliated. They became the first two nuclear powers in history to actually launch airstrikes against each other. Now two months into Narendra Modi’s second term, his government has played its most dangerous card of all. It has tossed a lit match into a powder keg.
    If that were not bad enough, the cheap, deceitful way in which it did it is disgraceful. In the last week of July, 45,000 extra troops were rushed into Kashmir on various pretexts. The one that got the most traction was that there was a Pakistani “terror” threat to the Amarnath Yatra — the annual pilgrimage in which hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees trek (or are carried by Kashmiri porters) through high mountains to visit the Amarnath cave and pay their respects to a natural ice formation that they believe is an avatar of Shiva.
    On Aug. 1, some Indian television networks announced that a land mine with Pakistani Army markings on it had been found on the pilgrimage route. On Aug. 2, the government published a notice asking all pilgrims (and even tourists who were miles from the pilgrimage route) to leave the valley immediately. That set off a panicky exodus. The approximately 200,000 Indian migrant day laborers in Kashmir were clearly not a concern to those supervising the evacuation. Too poor to matter, I’m guessing. By Saturday, Aug. 3, tourists and pilgrims had left and the security forces had taken up position across the valley.

    By midnight Sunday, Kashmiris were barricaded in their homes, and all communication networks went down. The next morning, we learned that, along with several hundred others, three former chief ministers, Farooq Abdullah, his son, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti of the People’s Democratic Party, had been arrested. Those are the mainstream pro-India politicians who have carried India’s water through the years of insurrection.
    Newspapers report that the Jammu & Kashmir police force has been disarmed. More than anybody else, these local police men have put their bodies on the front line, have done the groundwork, provided the apparatus of the occupation with the intelligence that it needs, done the brutal bidding of their masters and, for their pains, earned the contempt of their own people. All to keep the Indian flag flying in Kashmir. And now, when the situation is nothing short of explosive, they are going to be fed to the furious mob like so much cannon fodder.
    The betrayal and public humiliation of India’s allies by Narendra Modi’s government comes from a kind of hubris and ignorance that has gutted the sly, elaborate structures painstakingly cultivated over decades by cunning, but consummate, Indian statecraft. Now that that’s done — it is down to the Street vs. the Soldier. Apart from what it does to the young Kashmiris on the street, it is also a preposterous thing to do to soldiers.
    The more militant sections of the Kashmiri population, who have been demanding the right to self-determination or merger with Pakistan, have little regard for India’s laws or constitution. They will no doubt be pleased that those they see as collaborators have been sold down the river and that the game of smoke and mirrors is finally over. It might be too soon for them to rejoice. Because as sure as eggs are eggs and fish are fish, there will be new smoke and new mirrors. And new political parties. And a new game in town.
    On Aug. 8, four days into the lockdown, Narendra Modi appeared on television to address an ostensibly celebrating India and an incarcerated Kashmir. He sounded like a changed man. Gone was his customary aggression and his jarring, accusatory tone. Instead he spoke with the tenderness of a young mother. It’s his most chilling avatar to date.

    His voice quivered and his eyes shone with unspilled tears as he listed the slew of benefits that would rain down on the people of the former State of Jammu and Kashmir, now that it was rid of its old, corrupt leaders, and was going to be ruled directly from New Delhi. He evoked the marvels of Indian modernity as though he were educating a bunch of feudal peasants who had emerged from a time capsule. He spoke of how Bollywood films would once again be shot in their verdant valley.

    He didn’t explain why Kashmiris needed to be locked down and put under a communications blockade while he delivered his stirring speech. He didn’t explain why the decision that supposedly benefited them so hugely was taken without consulting them. He didn’t say how the great gifts of Indian democracy could be enjoyed by a people who live under a military occupation. He remembered to greet them in advance for Eid, a few days away. But he didn’t promise that the lockdown would be lifted for the festival. It wasn’t.
    The next morning, the Indian newspapers and several liberal commentators, including some of Narendra Modi’s most trenchant critics gushed over his moving speech. Like true colonials, many in India who are so alert to infringements of their own rights and liberties, have a completely different standard for Kashmiris.
    On Thursday, Aug. 15, in his Independence Day speech, Narendra Modi boasted from the ramparts of Delhi’s Red Fort that his government finally had achieved India’s dream of “One Nation, One Constitution,” with his Kashmir move. But just the previous evening, rebel groups in several troubled states in the north east of India, many of which have Special Status like the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, announced a boycott of Independence Day. While Narendra Modi’s Red Fort audience cheered, about seven million Kashmiris remained locked down. The communication shutdown we now hear, could be extended for some time to come.
    When it ends, as it must, the violence that will spiral out of Kashmir will inevitably spill into India. It will be used to further inflame the hostility against Indian Muslims who are already being demonized, ghettoized, pushed down the economic ladder, and, with terrifying regularity, lynched. The state will use it as an opportunity to close in on others, too — the activists, lawyers, artists, students, intellectuals, journalists — who have protested courageously and openly.
    The danger will come from many directions. The most powerful organization in India, the far-right Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the R.S.S., with more than 600,000 members including Narendra Modi and many of his ministers, has a trained “volunteer” militia, inspired by Mussolini’s Black Shirts. With each passing day, the R.S.S. tightens its grip on every institution of the Indian state. In truth, it has reached a point when it more or less is the state. 
    In the benevolent shadow of such a state, numerous smaller Hindu vigilante organizations, the storm troopers of the Hindu Nation, have mushroomed across the country, and are conscientiously going about their deadly business. 
    Intellectuals and academics are a major preoccupation. In May, the morning after the Bharatiya Janata Party won the general elections, Ram Madhav, a general secretary of the party and a former spokesman for the R.S.S., wrote that the “remnants” of the “pseudo-secular/liberal cartels that held a disproportionate sway and stranglehold over the intellectual and policy establishment of the country … need to be discarded from the country’s academic, cultural and intellectual landscape.”

    On Aug. 1, in preparation for that “discarding,” the already draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act was amended to expand the definition of “terrorist” to include individuals, not just organizations. The amendment allows the government to designate any individual as a terrorist without following the due process of a First Information Report, charge sheet, trial and conviction. Just who — just what kind of individuals it means — was clear when in Parliament, Amit Shah, our chilling home minister, said: “Sir, guns do not give rise to terrorism, the root of terrorism is the propaganda that is done to spread it … And if all such individuals are designated terrorists, I don’t think any member of Parliament should have any objection.”

    Several of us felt his cold eyes staring straight at us. It didn’t help to know that he has done time as the main accused in a series of murders in his home state, Gujarat. His trial judge, Justice Brijgopal Harkishen Loya, died mysteriously during the trial and was replaced by another who acquitted him speedily. Emboldened by all this, far-right television anchors on hundreds of India’s news networks, now openly denounce dissidents, make wild allegations about them and call for their arrest, or worse. “Lynched by TV,” is likely to be the new political phenomenon in India.
    As the world looks on, the architecture of Indian fascism is quickly being put into place.
    I was booked to fly to Kashmir to see some friends on July 28. The whispers about trouble, and troops being flown in, had already begun. I was of two minds about going. A friend of mine and I were chatting about it at my home. He is a senior doctor at a government hospital who has dedicated his life to public service, and happens to be Muslim. We started talking about the new phenomenon of mobs surrounding people, Muslims in particular, and forcing them to chant “Jai Shri Ram!” (“Victory to Lord Ram!”)
    If Kashmir is occupied by security forces, India is occupied by the mob.
    He said he had been thinking about that, too, because he often drove on the highways out of Delhi to visit his family who live some hours away.
    “I could easily be stopped,” he said.
    “You must say it then,” I said. “You must survive.”
    “I won’t,” he said, “because they’ll kill me either way. That’s what they did to Tabrez Ansari.”
    These are the conversations we are having in India while we wait for Kashmir to speak. And speak it surely will.
    Arundhati Roy is the author of the novel “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.” Her most recent book is a collection of essays, “My Seditious Heart.”

    6) Lead Crisis in Newark Grows, as Bottled Water Distribution Is Bungled
    Worries about the safety of the drinking water in New Jersey’s largest city have raised comparisons to Flint, Mich.
    By Nick CorasanitiCorey Kilgannon and 

    CreditCreditBryan Anselm for The New York Times

    NEWARK — A growing crisis over lead contamination in drinking water gripped Newark on Wednesday as tens of thousands of residents were told to drink only bottled water, the culmination of years of neglect that has pushed New Jersey’s largest city to the forefront of an environmental problem afflicting urban areas across the nation.
    Urgent new warnings from federal environmental officials about contamination in drinking water from aging lead pipes spread anxiety and fear across much of Newark, but the municipal government’s makeshift efforts to set up distribution centers to hand out bottled water were hampered by confusion and frustration. 
    State and local officials said they were making free water available to 15,000 of the city’s 95,000 households, and hundreds of people waited in long lines in the summer heat to pick up cases of water. But officials had to halt the distribution temporarily after discovering that some of the water exceeded its best-by date. 

    The intensifying worry about the safety of Newark’s drinking water has raised comparisons to Flint, Mich, where dangerous levels of lead led to criminal indictments against state and local officials and forced residents to rely on bottled water.

    The lead crisis in Newark, a city of 285,000 people, had been brewing for years, but escalated sharply over the weekend after federal officials issued a scathing letter warning about the safety of the drinking water and urging city officials to take more aggressive steps. 
    Elevated lead levels have been recorded in an expanding zone of the city and now includes all of the West and South Wards and parts of the Central and the North Wards.
    While many communities rely on lead water pipes, Newark’s chronic financial challenges have made it difficult to upgrade its aging infrastructure. The situation was made worse because the city was slower than other places to address a flaw in a chemical compound that prevents lead from leaching into the water. 
    Residents who had been reassured for months by the mayor, Ras Baraka, the head of the water department and other city leaders that the problem was being addressed were left reeling and some have called for Mr. Baraka to step down. 
    Newark had long denied that the city had a widespread problem with its drinking water, only to reverse course last fall and give away tens of thousands of water filters. But recent tests have shown that the filters were not properly removing lead.

    Like Flint, many of the neighborhoods affected by worries over the drinking water are predominantly African-American and low income. 
    On Wednesday, the governor of New Jersey, Philip D. Murphy, toured one of the water distribution centers, underscoring the severity of the problem. 
    “It’s a right, not a privilege, to have clean, safe water and we are committed to that,” Mr. Murphy said. 
    The state and city want “to get this as right, as fast as we can,” the governor said, calling on federal officials to help. “We take this very seriously. We want to be out ahead of this.”
    Standing in long lines, residents expressed anger and fear over how wide-reaching the problem really was. Many said their anxiety over the water adds to the challenges the city already faces — from poverty to drugs. 
    “We’re ducking bullets, were ducking and dodging bullets every day,’’ said Nafessah Venable as she stood outside a recreation center with her young son. “We can’t even take our kids out to play. Now we’ve got to worry about water? Water is a necessity for life. How can we survive without clean water? It’s tragic, and it’s very mind-boggling to wonder what the future holds in terms of the water system.”
    Newark’s antiquated plumbing system has long carried a threat of leached lead. 
    In 2016, annual testing of the water in Newark’s public schoolsrevealed elevated lead levels; more than 30 schools shut off their water fountains and turned to bottled water.

    In January 2017, a citywide testing system was put in place. Over the following 18 months, three consecutive tests found that 10 percent of Newark’s homes had water lead levels nearly twice the federal standard.
    In October, the city began distributing PUR water filters, the same devices used to combat lead in Flint.
    Scientists agree there is no safe level of lead in water. High blood lead levels can stunt a child’s mental development and damage organs. But even smaller amounts can affect children’s intellectual development.
    The E.P.A.’s benchmark for addressing lead in drinking water — 15 parts per billion — is not based on a specific health threat. It reflects a calculation that the water in at least nine out of 10 homes susceptible to lead contamination will fall below that standard.
    “They were in denial for a long period of time,” said Erik D. Olson, the senior director for health programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which filed a lawsuit against the state and the city last year, accusing them of violating federal safe drinking water laws. 
    “It’s been a slow response, but they’re finally coming around to realizing that they do have a serious problem, and that’s a good thing.”

    The recreation center was one of four distribution points set up by the city to hand out water. Some people waited an hour to get their allotted two cases.

    Adding to the frustration, officials also turned away some people, telling them they were not eligible for free water because they did not live in an area identified as having elevated lead levels. 
    “When you get up there, they tell you you’ve got to be from a certain area to get the water,” said Leslie Holmon, a Newark grandmother, “but they didn’t tell you that on the news.”
    She added, “They’ve got these seniors standing out here for nothing.” 
    Marguerite Royster, who had gone to the water distribution center with her grandson, said the trip was difficult.
    “I’m not well, I’m not supposed to stand,” she said. “I’ve got plates and screws in my spine, had surgery. I fell down two fights of stairs at my job. So I’m really not supposed to be on my feet more than 15 to 20 minutes. But, this is a must. We have to have water.”
    Though some of the bottled water had an expired best-by date, federal officials said it was still safe to drink. But city officials said they did not want to further alarm residents and those bottles were not given away.
    Environmental and health advocates have criticized city officials for failing to adequately address a growing health threat that began three years ago when high lead levels were found in the drinking water at nearly half the city’s 67 schools, forcing some to shut down fountains and test thousands of children.

    Still, Newark officials spent more than a year insisting that the city did not have an extensive water problem, declaring on the city’s website that the water was “absolutely safe to drink.’’

    But Newark shifted and started handing out nearly 40,000 water filters after a state study found that lead was leaching into the water because of ineffective corrosion treatment at one of the two plants that treat the city’s drinking water. 
    On Friday, the E.P.A. urged officials to provide bottled water to residents with lead pipes as soon as possible. 
    “We are unable at this time to assure Newark residents that their health is fully protected when drinking tap water filtered through these devices,’’ the E.P.A. said in a letter, referring to the PUR filters issued by the city. 
    Some residents said the PUR filters did not even fit on their faucets. Gerald Webb, 66, said that after being unable to get his filter to work, he started paying for bottled water. 
    “They had let us know that there’s something wrong with the pipes, and now they say it’s in the water supply,” Mr. Webb said as he waited in line for water on Tuesday. “So, I don’t know. But we started doing bottles on our own months ago.”

    Marc Edwards, a professor in the engineering department at Virginia Tech who has been involved in many water investigations, said lead most commonly gets into drinking water through lead pipes that run from water mains into homes. There are also possible sources within homes, including lead solder on pipes or brass fixtures with high lead content. 
    Generally, he said, those pipes and fixtures begin to shed lead when there are changes in the water supply that make the water more corrosive, causing the lead to leach from the pipes. 
    The lead pipes that run into the homes, known as service lines, are common in many older cities around the United States, affecting as many as 11 million homes, he said. Lead has been used in pipes that deliver water since ancient times, he noted, because it is long lasting and flexible. “Other than poisoning and killing people, it’s a great plumbing material,” he said. Many cities used to require their use, including Newark.
    It has yet to be conclusively proved why the water became more corrosive, Mr. Olson said, but a city contractor noted that in 2015 Newark had tried to address a different issue with contaminants and “they adjusted their treatment” in ways that made the water more acidic. 
    “This change in water chemistry may have been responsible for Newark levels being so high now,” he said. “It’s an echo of Flint,” he said, referring to the lead contamination in that city’s water, which jumped when Flint chose a different, cheaper water source that was more corrosive, without taking action to counteract the effect of the more corrosive water.
    The group’s lawsuit asks the court to order the city to treat the water with corrosion inhibitors, and to replace the old lead service lines. There is a hearing related to the lawsuit in Newark federal court on Thursday.
    Nick Corasaniti reported from Newark, and Corey Kilgannon and John Schwartz from New York.




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