Death Penalty Focus Reception for Sr. Helen Prejean

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Southern Workers Assembly, August 2019

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

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

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

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



Act Now to Save Mumia's Eyesight and to 

Demand His Release!

Tell them to approve Mumia's cataract surgery immediately!

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


Prison officials turn away thousands of petitions for Mumia

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

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

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

Agreement to meet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOC reneges on agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legal struggle continues

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

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

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

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

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

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Take Action:

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

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



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The Campaign To Bring Mumia Home

Brother Delbert Africa Needs Our Help


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

-Mumia Abu-Jamal
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50 years in prison: 

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

NOW is the time for Chip to come home!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The California Board of Parole Hearings is holding Chip hostage.

We call on Governor Newsom to release Chip immediately.

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

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

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

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

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



Lost In the System 

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



Support Chuck Africa for Parole

Michael Africa Jr. started this petition to Pennsylvania Governor

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



On Abortion: From Facebook

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



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

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

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

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

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

Email Gov. Cuomo with this form

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



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

Decarcerate Louisiana

Declaration of Undersigned Prisoners
We, the undersigned persons, committed to the care and custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections (LDOC), hereby submit the following declaration and petition bearing witness to inhumane conditions of solitary confinement in the N-1 building at the David Wade Corrections Center (DWCC). 
Our Complaint:
We, the Undersigned Persons, declare under penalty of perjury: 
1.    We, the undersigned, are currently housed in the N-1 building at DWCC, 670 Bell Hill Road, Homer, LA 71040. 
2.    We are aware that the Constitution, under the 8th Amendment, bans cruel and unusual punishments; the Amendment also imposes duties on prison officials who must provide humane conditions of confinement and ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and must take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates. 
3.    We are aware that Louisiana prison officials have sworn by LSA-R.S.15:828 to provide humane treatment and rehabilitation to persons committed to its care and to direct efforts to return every person in its custody to the community as promptly as practicable. 
4.    We are confined in a double-bunked six-by-nine foot or 54 square feet cell with another human being 22-hours-a-day and are compelled to endure the degrading experience of being in close proximity of another human being while defecating. 
5.    There are no educational or rehabilitation programs for the majority of prisoners confined in the N-1 building except for a selected few inmates who are soon to be released. 
6.    We get one hour and 30 minutes on the yard and/or gym seven days a week. Each day we walk to the kitchen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which takes about one minute to get there. We are given ten minutes to eat. 
7.    The daily planner for inmates confined in the N-1 building is to provide inmates one hour and 30 minutes on yard or gym; escort inmates to kitchen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to sit and eat for approximately ten minutes each meal; provide a ten minute shower for each cell every day; provide one ten minute phone call per week; confine prisoners in cell 22-hours-a-day. 
8.    When we are taking a shower we are threatened by guards with disciplinary reports if we are not out on time. A typical order is: "if you are not out of shower in ten minutes pack your shit and I'm sending you back to N-2, N-3, or N-4"—a more punitive form of solitary confinement. 
9.    When walking outside to yard, gym or kitchen, guards order us to put our hands behind our back or they'll write us up and send us back to N-2, N-3, N-4. 
10.  When we are sitting at the table eating, guards order us not to talk or they'll write us up and send us back to N-2, N-3, N-4. ) 
11.  Guards are harassing us every day and are threatening to write up disciplinary reports and send us back to a more punitive cellblock (N-2, N-3, N-4) if we question any arbitrary use of authority or even voice an opinion in opposition to the status quo. Also, guards take away good time credits, phone, TV, radio, canteen, and contact visits for talking too loud or not having hands behind back or for any reason they want. We are also threatened with slave labor discipline including isolation (removing mattress from cell from 5:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.,) strip cell (removing mattress and bedding and stationery from cell for ten to 30 days or longer), food loaf  (taking one's meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and mixing it all together into one big mass, bake it in oven and serve it to prisoners for punishment.)
12.  When prison guards write up disciplinary reports and transfer us to the more punitive restrictive solitary confinement in N-2, N-3, N-4 or N-5, guards then enforce an arbitrary rule that gives prisoners the ultimatum of sending all their books and personal property home or let the prison dispose of it. 
13.  Louisiana prison officials charge indigent prisoners (who earn less than four cents an hour) $3.00 for routine requests for healthcare services, $6.00 for emergency medical requests, and $2.00 for each new medical prescription. They wait until our family and friends send us money and take it to pay prisoners' medical bills. 
Our concerns:
14.  How much public monies are appropriated to the LDOC budget and specifically allotted to provide humane treatment and implement the rehabilitation program pursuant to LSA- R.S.15:828? 
15.  Why does Elayn Hunt Correctional Center located in the capitol of Louisiana have so many educational and rehabilitation programs teaching prisoners job and life skills for reentry whereas there are no such programs to engage the majority of prisoners confined in the N-1, N- 2, N-3, and N-4 solitary confinement buildings at DWCC. 
16.  It is customary for Louisiana prison officials and DWCC prison guards to tell inmates confined in the prison's cellblocks to wait until transfer to prison dormitory to participate in programs when in fact there are no such programs available and ready to engage the majority of the state's 34,000 prisoner population. The programs are especially needed for prisoners confined in a six-by-nine foot or 54 square feet cell with another person for 22-or-more-hours-per-day. 
17.  Why can't prisoners use phone and computers every day to communicate with family and peers as part of rehabilitation and staying connected to the community? 
18.  Why do prisoners have to be transferred miles and miles away from loved ones to remote correctional facilities when there are facilities closer to loved ones? 
19.  Why are prison guards allowed to treat prisoners as chattel slaves, confined in cages 22-or-more-hours-per-day, take away phone calls and visitation and canteen at will, and take away earned good time credits for any reason at all without input from family, one's peers and community? 
20.  Why do the outside communities allow prison guards to create hostile living environments and conditions of confinement that leaves prisoners in a state of chattel slavery, stress, anxiety, anger, rage, inner torment, despair, worry, and in a worse condition from when we first entered the prison? 
21.  Why do state governments and/or peers in the community allow racist or bigoted white families who reside in the rural and country parts of Louisiana to run the state's corrections system with impunity? For example, DWCC Warden Jerry Goodwin institutes racist and bigoted corrections policies and practices for the very purpose of oppression, repression, antagonizing and dehumanizing the inmates who will one day be released from prison. 
22.  David Wade Correctional Center Colonel Lonnie Nail, a bigot and a racist, takes his orders from Warden Jerry Goodwin, another racist and bigot. Both Goodwin and Nail influences subordinate corrections officers to act toward prisoners in a racist or bigoted manner and with an arrogant attitude. This creates a hostile living environment and debilitating conditions of confinement for both guards and prisoners and prevents rehabilitation of inmates.
23.  In other industrialized democracies like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, et al, it is reported that no prisoner should be declared beyond reform or redemption without first attempting to rehabilitate them. Punitive or harsh conditions of confinement are not supported because they see the loss of freedom inherent in a prison sentence as punishment enough. One Netherlands official reported that their motto is to start with the idea of "Reintegration back into society on day one" when people are locked up. "You can't make an honest argument that how someone is treated while incarcerated doesn't affect how they behave when they get out," the official added. 
24.  Additionally, some Scandinavian countries have adopted open prison programs without fences or armed guards. Prisoners who prove by their conduct that they can be trusted are placed in a prison resembling a college campus more than a prison. The result is a 20 percent recidivism rate, compared to a 67 percent rate in the United States. 
25.  The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) in a position statement says: "Prolonged (greater than 15 consecutive days) solitary confinement is cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and harmful to an individual's health."
 What We Believe: 
26.  We believe that when the greater portion of public monies goes to war and the military, this leaves little funds left for community reinvestment and human development.The people have less access to resources by which to get a better idea of human behavior and rely on higher education instead of prison to solve cultural, social, political, economic problems in the system that may put people at risk to domestic violence and crime as a way to survive and cope with shortcomings in the system. 
27.  We believe that investing public monies in the rehabilitation program LSA-R.S.15:828 to teach prisoners job and life skills will redeem inmates, instill morals, and make incarcerated people productive and fit for society. 
28.  We believe that confining inmates in cellblocks 15-or-more=hours-per-day is immoral, uncivilized, brutalizing, a waste of time and counter-productive to rehabilitation and society's goals of "promoting the general welfare" and "providing a more perfect union with justice for all." 
29.  We believe that corrections officers who prove by their actions that incarcerated people are nothing more than chattel slaves are bucking the laws and creating hardening criminals and these corrections officers are, therefore, a menace to society. 
Our Demands:
30.  We are demanding a public conversation from community activists and civil rights leaders about (1) the historic relationship between chattel slavery, the retaliatory assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and the resurrection of slavery written into the 13th Amendment; (2) the historic relationship between the 13th Amendment, the backlash against Reconstruction, Peonage, Convict Leasing, and Slavery; (3) the historic relationship between the 13th Amendment, the War Against Poverty, the War on Drugs, Criminal Justice and Prison Slavery. 
31.  We demand that the Louisiana legislature pass the Decarcerate Louisiana Anti-Slavery and Freedom Liberation Act of 2020 into law and end prison slavery and the warehousing of incarcerated people for the very purpose of repression, oppression, and using prisoners and their families and supporters as a profit center for corporate exploitation and to generate revenue to balance the budget and stimulate the state economy. 
32.  We are demanding that Warden Jerry Goodwin and Colonel Lonnie Nail step down and be replaced by people are deemed excellent public servants in good standing with human rights watchdog groups and civil rights community. 
33.  We are demanding that the LDOC provide public monies to operate state prison dormitories and cellblocks as rehabilitation centers to teach incarcerated people job and life skills five-days-a-week from 7:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. 
34.  We are demanding that the LDOC release a public statement announcing that "from this day forward it will not support punitive or harsh conditions of confinement," and that "no prisoner should be declared beyond reform or redemption without first attempting to rehabilitate them."
35.  We are demanding that the prison cellblocks be operated as open dormitories (made in part a health clinic and part college campus) so that incarcerated people can have enough space to walk around and socialize, participate in class studies, exercise, use telephone as the need arise. Prisoners are already punished by incarceration so there is no need to punish or further isolate them. Racism and abuse of power will not be tolerated. 
36.  We are demanding an end to unjust policies and practices that impose punishments and deprive incarcerated people of phone calls, visitation, canteen, good time credits, books and other personal property that pose no threat to public safety. 
37.  We are demanding that LDOC provide incarcerated people cellphones and computers to communicate with the public and stay connected to the community. 
38.  We are demanding the right to communicate with reporters to aid and assist incarcerated persons in preparing a press release to communicate to the public Decarcerate Louisiana's vision and mission statements, aims, and plans for moving forward. 
39.  We are demanding the right to participate in the U.S.-European Criminal Justice Innovation Project and share our complaint, concerns, and demands for a humane corrections program. 
40.  We are only demanding the right to enough space to create, to innovate, to excel in learning, to use scientific knowledge to improve our person and place and standing in the free world. The rule of law must support the betterment and uplifting of all humanity. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said: "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 
41.  We demand that the responsibility for prisoner medical care be removed from DOC wardens and place it under the management of the state's health office; increase state health officer staff to better monitor prisoner healthcare and oversee vendor contracts. 
42.  We have a God-given right and responsibility to resist abuse of power from the wrongdoers, to confront unjust authority and oppression, to battle for justice until we achieve our demands for liberation and freedom. 
We, the undersigned, declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. 
Executed on this 28th Day of January 2019. 
Ronald Brooks #385964 
David Johnson #84970 
Freddie Williams #598701 
Earl Hollins #729041 
James Harris #399514 
Tyrone Carter #550354 
Kerry Carter #392013 
Ivo Richardson #317371 
Rondrikus Fulton #354313 
Kentell Simmons #601717 
Jayvonte Pines #470985 
Deandre Miles #629008 
Kenneth P. #340729 
Brandon Ceaser #421453 
Tyronne Ward #330964 
Jermaine Atkins #448421 
Charles Rodgers #320513 
Steve Givens #557854 
Timothy Alfred #502378 
—wsimg.com, January 2019



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

By yearend 2017, the United States prison population had declined by 7.3% since reaching its peak level in 2009, according to new data released by the Department of Justice. The prison population decreases are heavily influenced by a handful of states that have reduced their populations by 30% or more in recent years. However, as of yearend 2017 more than half the states were still experiencing increases in their populations or rates of decline only in the single digits. 
Analysis of the new data by The Sentencing Project reveals that: 
  • The United States remains as the world leader in its rate of incarceration, locking up its citizens at 5-10 times the rate of other industrialized nations. At the current rate of decline it will take 75 years to cut the prison population by 50%.
  • The population serving life sentences is now at a record high. One of every seven individuals in prison – 206,000 – is serving life.
  • Six states have reduced their prison populations by at least 30% over the past two decades – Alaska, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.  
  • The rate of women's incarceration has been rising at a faster rate than men's since the 1980s, and declines in recent years have been slower than among men.
  • Racial disparities in women's incarceration have changed dramatically since the start of the century. Black women were incarcerated at 6 times the rate of white women in 2000, while the 2017 figure is now 1.8 times that rate. These changes have been a function of both a declining number of black women in prison and a rising number of white women. For Hispanic women, the ratio has changed from 1.6 times that of white women in 2000 to 1.4 times in 2017. 
The declines in prison and jail populations reported by the Department of Justice today are encouraging, but still fall far short of what is necessary for meaningful criminal justice reform. In order to take the next step in ending mass incarceration policymakers will need to scale back excessive sentencing for all offenses, a key factor which distinguishes the U.S. from other nations. 

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



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

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

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


Funds for Kevin Cooper


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

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

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

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

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



Don't extradite Assange!

To the government of the UK
Julian Assange, through Wikileaks, has done the world a great service in documenting American war crimes, its spying on allies and other dirty secrets of the world's most powerful regimes, organisations and corporations. This has not endeared him to the American deep state. Both Obama, Clinton and Trump have declared that arresting Julian Assange should be a priority. We have recently received confirmation [1] that he has been charged in secret so as to have him extradited to the USA as soon as he can be arrested. 
Assange's persecution, the persecution of a publisher for publishing information [2] that was truthful and clearly in the interest of the public - and which has been republished in major newspapers around the world - is a danger to freedom of the press everywhere, especially as the USA is asserting a right to arrest and try a non-American who neither is nor was then on American soil. The sentence is already clear: if not the death penalty then life in a supermax prison and ill treatment like Chelsea Manning. The very extradition of Julian Assange to the United States would at the same time mean the final death of freedom of the press in the West. 
The courageous nation of Ecuador has offered Assange political asylum within its London embassy for several years until now. However, under pressure by the USA, the new government has made it clear that they want to drive Assange out of the embassy and into the arms of the waiting police as soon as possible. They have already curtailed his internet and his visitors and turned the heating off, leaving him freezing in a desolate state for the past few months and leading to the rapid decline of his health, breaching UK obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights. Therefore, our demand both to the government of Ecuador and the government of the UK is: don't extradite Assange to the US! Guarantee his human rights, make his stay at the embassy as bearable as possible and enable him to leave the embassy towards a secure country as soon as there are guarantees not to arrest and extradite him. Furthermore, we, as EU voters, encourage European nations to take proactive steps to protect a journalist in danger. The world is still watching.
[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/16/us/politics/julian-assange-indictment-wikileaks.html
[2] https://theintercept.com/2018/11/16/as-the-obama-doj-concluded-prosecution-of-julian-assange-for-publishing-documents-poses-grave-threats-to-press-freedom/



Words of Wisdom

Louis Robinson Jr., 77
Recording secretary for Local 1714 of the United Auto Workers from 1999 to 2018, with the minutes from a meeting of his union's retirees' chapter.

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

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



Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg

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

Keith H. Washington
TDC# 1487958
McConnell Unit
3001 S. Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78102
Friends, it's time to get Malik out of solitary confinement.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:

Major Tillery and family

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

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

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




    On Monday March 4th, 2019 Leonard Peltier was advised that his request for a transfer had been unceremoniously denied by the United States Bureau of Prisons.

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

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

    Free Leonard Peltier!

    Art by Leonard Peltier
    Write to:
    Leonard Peltier 89637-132
    USP Coleman 1,  P.O. Box 1033
    Coleman, FL 33521



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



    1) Do Plants Have Something to Say?
    One scientist is definitely listening.
    By Ellie Shechet, August 26, 2019

    Monica Gagliano, all ears in Central Park.CreditCreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times


    Dr. Monica Gagliano says that she has received Yoda-like advice from trees and shrubbery. She recalls being rocked like a baby by the spirit of a fern. She has ridden on the back of an invisible bear conjured by an osha root. She once accidentally bent space and time while playing the ocarina, an ancient wind instrument, in a redwood forest. "Oryngham," she says, means "thank you" in plant language. These interactions have taken place in dreams, visions, songs and telekinetic interactions, sometimes with the help of shamans or ayahuasca.
    This has all gone on around the same time as Dr. Gagliano's scientific research, which has broken boundaries in the field of plant behavior and signaling. Currently at the University of Sydneyin Australia, she has published a number of studies that support the view that plants are, to some extent, intelligent. Her experiments suggest that they can learn behaviors and remember them. Her work also suggests that plants can "hear" running water and even produce clicking noises, perhaps to communicate.
    Plants have directly shaped her experiments and career path. In 2012, she says, an oak tree assured her that a risky grant application — proposing research on sound communication in plants — would be successful. "You are here to tell our stories," the tree told her.

    "These experiences are not like, 'Oh you're a weirdo, this is happening just to you,'" Dr. Gagliano said. Learning from plants, she said, is a long-documented ceremonial practice (if not one typically endorsed by scientists).

    "This is part of the repertoire of human experiences," she said. "We've been doing this forever and ever, and are still doing this."
    Dr. Gagliano knows that these claims, based on subjective experiences and not scientific evidence, can easily be read as delusional. She also knows that this could damage her scientific career — plant scientists in particular really hate this sort of thing. Back in 1973, an explosively popular book, "The Secret Life of Plants," made pseudoscientific claims about plants, including that they enjoy classical music and can read human minds. The book was firmly discredited, but the maelstrom made many institutions and researchers reasonably wary of bold statements about botanical aptitude.
    Regardless, last year Dr. Gagliano published a heady and meandering memoir about the conversations with plants that inspired her peer-reviewed work, titled "Thus Spoke the Plant."She believes, like many scientists and environmentalists do, that in order to save the planet we have to understand ourselves as part of the natural world. 
    It's just that she also believes the plants themselves can speak to this point.
    "I want people to realize that the world is full of magic, but not as something only some people can do, or something that is outside of this world," she said. "No, it's all here."

    As environmental collapse looms, we've never known so much about life on earth — how extraordinary and intricate it all is, and how loose the boundary where "it" ends and "we" begin.

    Language, for example, doesn't seem to be limited to humans. Prairie dogs use adjectives (lots of them) and Alston's singing mice, a species found in Central America, chirp "politely." Ravens have demonstrated advanced planning, another blow to human exceptionalism, by bartering for food and selecting the best tools for future use.
    The list goes on. Leaf-cutter ants not only invented farming a couple million years before we did, but they have their own landfills — and garbagemen. Even slime molds can be said to make "decisions," and are so good at determining the most efficient route between resources that researchers have suggested we use them to help design highways.
    But it may be plants whose capacities are the most head-rattling, if only because we tend to view them as décor. Plants can do a lot of things we can't. Trees can clone themselves into 80,000-year-old superorganisms. Corn can summon wasps to attack caterpillars. But research suggests we also have some things in common. Plants share nutrients and recognize kin. They communicate with each other. They can count. They can feel you touching them.
    So we know that plants respond to their environments in sophisticated, complex ways — "far more complex than most of us realized a few years ago," said Dr. Ted Farmer, a botanist at University of Lausanne in Switzerland and one of the first to defend the concept of inter-plant communication.
    Dr. Farmer is among those still "very" uncomfortable describing plants, which lack neurons, as "intelligent." But now it's "consciousness" — another word without a firm definition — that's really raising hackles in the scientific community.

    A group of biologists published a paper this summer with the matter-of-fact title "Plants Neither Possess nor Require Consciousness." The authors warned against anthropomorphism, and argued that proponents of plant consciousness have "consistently glossed over" the unique capacities of the brain.Though her book went unremarked upon, Dr. Gagliano's experiments and statements ascribing feelings and subjectivity to plants were among those critiqued, and she was categorized witheringly within "a new wave of Romantic biology."
    Versions of this debate have been simmering for years. In 2013, Michael Pollan wrote about Dr. Gagliano presenting the results of an experiment to an incredulous audience.
    That study is likely her most widely known. In it, she sought to discover whether plants, like animals, could demonstrate a basic type of learning called "habituation."
    The Mimosa pudica — you may know it as the "sensitive plant" — contracts its leaves when touched. So, in the experiment, potted mimosas were dropped a few harmless inches onto foam. At first, the leaves closed up immediately. But over time, they stopped reacting.
    It wasn't that they were fatigued, Dr. Gagliano wrote, because, when the pots were shaken, the leaves closed up again. And when the dropping test was repeated a month later, their leaves remained unruffled. 
    The plants had "learned" that the drop wasn't a threat, Dr. Gagliano argued. The plants remembered.
    And subsequent research has suggested that plants may indeed be capable of some type of memory. But Dr. Gagliano's conclusion didn't go over well at the time. Her framing of the data didn't help. She insists that she doesn't use metaphors in her work, and that "learning" is the best description we have for what took place, even if we don't know how the plants are doing it.

    This experiment was "a remarkable piece of work," Mr. Pollan said in an interview. "Humans do tend to underestimate plants, and she's one of a small group of scientists who are trying to change that story."
    "Monica is a brilliant young woman, and she's been a major idea generator in the field of plant sensory biology," said Dr. Heidi Appel, a scientist who found that rock cress produce more defensive chemicals when exposed to the stressful sound of a caterpillar chewing. "We're investigating things I don't think we would have otherwise." 
    But, in Dr. Gagliano's memoir, Dr. Appel said, "there's a commingling of science and spiritual experiences that I feel are best disentangled."
    "I think it's important to separate out what you can prove and what might be true in a more subjective way," Mr. Pollan said. "And I don't know where you draw the line, exactly."

    I met Dr. Gagliano at an outdoor cafe in Berkeley, Calif., next to a pot filled with bright, chubby succulents. I found myself watching it, wondering if its inhabitants were aware that we were debating their awareness.

    Dr. Gagliano grew up in northern Italy and is a marine ecologist by training. She spent her early career studying Ambon damselfish at the Great Barrier Reef.
    After months underwater observing the little fish, Dr. Gagliano said she started to suspect that they understood a lot more than she'd thought — including that she was going to dissect them. A professional crisis ensued.
    Plants were inching their way into her life. As Dr. Gagliano tells it, she'd been volunteering at an herbalist's clinic, and had begun using ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew that induces visions and emotional insights (and often nausea). She says that one day, sober, she was walking around her garden and heard, in her head, a plant suggest that she start studying plants.
    In 2010, she traveled to Peru for the first time to work with a plant shaman called Don M.

    To communicate with plants, Dr. Gagliano followed the dieta, or the shamanic method in the indigenous Amazonian tradition by which a human establishes a dialogue with a plant. The rules can vary, but it usually involves following a diet (no salt, alcohol, sugar or sex; some animal products may also be prohibited, depending on the culture) and drinking a plant concoction (sometimes hallucinogenic, sometimes not) in isolation for days, weeks or months. An icaro, or medicine song, is said to be shared by the plant, as well as visions and dreams, and the plant's healing knowledge becomes a part of the human. It's not fun, she warned.
    Dr. Gagliano worked with multiple plant shamans, or vegetalistas, in Peru. There she bathed in the foul-smelling pulp of an Ayahumatree, which then designed a scientific experiment for her, instructing her to "train young plants in a maze and give them freedom of choice." The Ayahuma also helped her diagram a 2017study investigating pea plants' use of sound to detect water.

    In the memoir, she wrote that she also traveled to California to work with a health care professional who conducts vision quest ceremonies (that's when the oak tree spoke to her). She visited "the Diviner," a man trained by the Dagara people of Ghana and Burkina Faso to channel nature spirits.
    At a certain point, Dr. Gagliano began going solo, "working with" plants like basil in her own veggie patch.
    "Did you ever wonder if you were going insane?" I asked.
    "Absolutely," she said, and laughed. "I still do." But she believes she should be free to talk openly about these experiences.
    "Maybe we should admit that we hardly understand who we are, we hardly understand where we are at, we know very little compared to what there is to know," she said. "To be open to explore and learn, I think that is the sign of wisdom, not of madness. And maybe wisdom and madness do look very similar, at some point."

    As a white woman on a journey through sampled bits of sacred rituals, Dr. Gagliano speaks thoughtfully and often about the legacies of colonialism, capitalism and exploitative New Age trends, which certainly includes the rise in ayahuasca retreats. A term like "shaman" can now bring to mind its plunder by an unpopular modern archetype — the personal-growth-obsessed wellness devotee, dreamily trailing sage in circles around her unvaccinated children.

    But Dr. Gagliano's journey, her supporters say, is rooted in a desire to challenge dominant assumptions.
    "I have been working with the idea of plant intelligence for many years," said Dr. Luis Eduardo Luna, an anthropologist and ayahuasca researcher in Brazil who has collaborated with Dr. Gagliano. Back in 1984, he published a paper in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology detailing the concept of plants as teachers in the Peruvian Amazon. 
    Dr. Luna said he was excited to hear these ideas expressed by a scientist, rather than someone in the humanities.
    "Perhaps we are living in a much more interesting universe, perhaps we are living in a planet full of intelligent life," Dr. Luna said. "I think it's very important that we recover, somehow, this idea of the sacrality of nature, in the terrible situation in which we are today."
    "I'm really interested in the notion of plants as teachers, what we can learn from them as models," said Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, an author, botanist and SUNY professor, and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. "And that comes from my work with indigenous knowledge, because that is a fundamental assumption of indigenous environmental philosophy."
    Dr. Kimmerer doesn't see Dr. Gagliano's experiences as mystical processes so much as poorly understood ones.

    "Some of the medicines that people have made are sophisticated biochemistry over a fire," Dr. Kimmerer said. "You think, how in the world did people learn this? And the answer is almost always, 'The plants told us how to do this.' This is not a matter necessarily of walking in the woods and being tapped on the shoulder, but indigenous cultures have sophisticated protocols that are research protocols, in a sense, for learning from the plants. They involve fasting, ceremonial practices that bring one to a state of such openness to the conversations of other beings that you can hear them."
    "Have you ever had an experience like that?" I asked.
    "I have," she said, preferring to leave it mostly at that. "Suffice it to say, I have had experiences of intense focus and attention with plants where I came away knowing something that I didn't know before, and it's quite incredible. You feel like, 'Wow, where did that come from?'" 
    The problem with talking about these experiences, Dr. Kimmerer said, is that they "are grounded in a cultural context that is so different from Western science that they are easily dismissed."

    Reality has become rather strange lately. Tech billionaires are trying to colonize the moon. U.F.O.s appear to exist, in some capacity. Parents in conspiracy-minded Facebook groups are poisoning their autistic children with bleach. Reality TV has fused with politics. The future of the planet looks remarkably grim. (Or maybe we're in a simulation.)
    Dr. Gagliano's more subjective claims may feed, in an unnatural time, a spiking hunger for naturally sourced answers. People are looking for "wisdom from nature," Mr. Pollan said, when describing the rising interest in psychedelic compounds like ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms. The booming wellness industry is certainly packed with all things "natural" and "plant-based." The novel that won the most recent Pulitzer Prize was inspired by a giant redwood that produced a "religious conversion"; caring for houseplants seems to be a national obsession.

    Given this context, it's logical that critique over her approach hasn't stopped Dr. Gagliano from finding an audience. She spoke about plant intelligence at last year's Bioneers Conference, and was invited to speak at last year's Science and Nondualityconference, along with Deepak Chopra and Paul Stamets, a respected mycologist who believes that mushrooms are trying to communicate with humans through their hallucinogenic properties.
    This summer, Dr. Gagliano sat on a sold-out panel called "Intelligence Without Brains" at the World Science Festival. There I eavesdropped on a woman excitedly explaining Mr. Pollan's recent book on psychedelic therapy to her mom. Why had they come?
    "We're plant ladies!" said one, beaming. "There's a lot about plants that we don't know that might end up saving us, in some regard."
    Dr. Gagliano spoke about plants with pointed familiarity. In her telling, they became jaunty little characters; she used pronouns like "he" and "they" — never "it."
    At the festival, a young woman asked Dr. Gagliano how her scientific work had changed her understanding of the world.
    "The main difference is that I used to live in a world of objects, and now I live in a world of subjects," she said. There were murmurs of approval. "And so, I am never alone."


    2) What Will Indefinite Detention Do to Migrant Kids?
    The evidence is clear: No detention center is safe and healthy for children.
    By Leah Hibel and Caitlin Patler, August 27, 2019

    Lining up in the dining hall at a holding center for migrant children in Carrizo Springs, Tex.CreditCreditEric Gay/Associated Press

    The Trump administration last week announced a new regulationthat would allow the government to indefinitely detain migrant families who cross the border. If it goes into effect, it would terminate an agreement known as the Flores settlement that has been in place since 1997 to ensure that children are kept in the least restrictive setting possible, receive certain standards of care, have access to lawyers, and are generally released within 20 days. The effect would be to extend the well-documented suffering of migrant children in detention centers.
    Six children have died while in Border Control custody in this fiscal year alone. Reports have detailed inhumane conditions in immigration detention centers, with children sleeping on cement floors and suffering from hunger, inadequate health care, and a lack of toothbrushes and soap.
    While a recent appeals court ruled that the Trump administration must provide hygiene products at migrant facilities, this offers little comfort. Numerous studies have made it clear: No detention center is healthy and safe for children. If the new rule — which is now the subject of a legal challenge by a group of states and the District of Columbia — is carried out, it will increase the length of time children are detained and magnify the harmful effects.

    Detention centers are stressful, chaotic and unpredictable environments, especially for children. Developmental science tells us that children's developing brains and bodies depend on a safe environment, rich with language and activities, where they canexplore, move, play and create during the day, and have calm restorative sleep at night.

    Many detention centers are not equipped to provide these necessities. Scientific evidence shows that the deprived setting of a detention camp will stunt child cognitive, social, emotional and language development, making it harder for them to learn, follow directions, connect with peers, and handle stress.
    In addition to lacking basic necessities, children at detention centers have reported being the victim of violence, including sexual violence. Children may also witness violence against their parents while detained with their families. These are traumatic experiences, and studies show children are more likely to have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after being detained compared to before.
    Even when detention is not an immediate threat to safety, and children are placed with their families, detention centers do not provide the necessary stimulation for normal development. Simply providing food, hygiene and a place to sleep is not sufficient. Endangering children by placing them in detention centers is contrary to all available research evidence on child welfare.
    Young children are particularly susceptible to stress and trauma, and research shows that the longer the duration of the exposure, the worse the outcomes for the child
    What's more, the administration's plans to remove limitations on the length of children's detentions will not only prolong exposure to trauma, they will severely limit lawyers' ability to expedite hearings or even raise length of detention as a concern. Being released from detention also allows children greater access to lawyers and immigration legal services, which can make an enormous difference in their immigration proceedings. Contrary to statements by the government, the vast majority of people released from detention attend their future immigration court hearings.

    We don't incarcerate children for other civil law infractions and we never jail American children when their family members commit a crime. The government should not be in the business of harming and traumatizing migrant children either. Instead, the government should be working to comply with the Flores settlement and to design immigration policies that keep children and families out of detention, provide the right to seek asylum, and create pathways to citizenship.

    Leah Hibel is associate professor of human development and family studies at the University of California, Davis, where Caitlin Patler is an assistant professor of sociology.


    3) Protest For Clean Water Ignites Outside MTV Awards In Newark, NJ

    A protest took place outside the MTV Video Music Awards in Newark. The city is dealing with lead water contamination in thousands of homes.

    By Eric Kiefer, Patch Staff, August 27, 2019
     (Photo: Zaire Ruffin)

    NEWARK, NJ — Police arrested five people during a protest at the MTV Video Music Awards in Newark on Monday evening, authorities said.
    According to the Newark Department of Public Safety, several protesters tried to breach secure areas during the annual awards ceremony, which took place in New Jersey for the first time in its history.
    Earlier in the day, the Newark Water Coalition – a group of local activists and residents who have been trying to raise awareness about the city's ongoing lead water crisis – announced plans to have a rally during the award ceremony in support of "clean water for Newark."
    Organizers advised protesters to "remind them of our demands," but not to argue with police, news media or other groups, even if provoked. Several people carried signs with slogans such as "Get The Lead Out" and "Clean Water For Newark Now." (See videos below)
    City officials have estimated that about 18,000 local homes may have private lead service lines, one of the suspected causes of Newark's ongoing water contamination issues.
    The city recently began handing out free bottled water for affected residents in the Pequannock service area after the U.S. EPA said home water filters – a key element of officials' plan to fight the contamination – may not be working as expected.
    Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said the arrestees were "out-of-towners," and that police allowed them to gather in a specific area, "in support of their Constitutional rights."
    "Apparently, some were not satisfied with that arrangement," Ambrose said.
    "We had a few – and I mean a very few – who tried jumping police barricades," Ambrose said. "When that happens, it becomes a public safety issue."
    Aside from the five arrests, the night went well, Ambrose continued.
    "The VMA set was beautiful and it spoke to Newark being a major league city," he said.
    Police previously said about 300 uniformed officers would be patrolling the event zone and surrounding areas, plus VMA event security. A "significant number" of plainclothes officers were expected to be in the crowd, as well as Newark SWAT teams and Emergency Services Units around the arena. A police helicopter was also expected to be deployed for the event, authorities said.
    Prior to the award ceremony, police warned of a "blizzard" of traffic in the area. In addition, NJ Transit officials warned that riders may experience large crowds at New York Penn Station, Secaucus Junction and Newark Penn Station during the VMAs.
    After Gov. Murphy said he didn't plan to declare a state of emergency in Newark last week, the Newark Water Coalition sent him a scathing letter of rebuke.
    "It is our understanding that government at the local and state level is responsible for protecting and promoting public health and safety. It is also our understanding that clean water is a human right. But we do not have clean water for everyone in Newark. We have been facing this public health crisis for many years. The misinformation, mismanagement and indecent conduct by local officials has intensified this public health crisis. The residents of Newark are not at ease because our quality of life has been unfairly impacted. If clean water is a human right, it is not fair for us to stand in line like a herd of sheep, during high temperature weather ranging from 80 to 94 degrees for a less than adequate supply of water. Some of us have been turned away from receiving water without a clear explanation. Someone has to be held accountable. Otherwise, public trust and confidence in our government will corrode to the point of no return. There will be no corrosion control to reverse the public perception of a government that does not work for the people.
    "Even though the severity of this public health crisis has been downplayed by others, we have been trying to get Congressman Donald Payne Jr. and Senator Cory Booker involved for some time. We believe officials are finally weighing in because of the current media attention. Our local officials. Mayor Ras Baraka and [city councilmembers] have ignored our voices for quite some time, too. We've been going to city council meetings to speak about this public health crisis, we've conducted teach-ins and community forums about the lead in our water, we've gone door to door to share information about the lead in our water, we've collaborated with Dr. Mona from Flint, Michigan and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), we've tested our neighbors' water for lead and we've distributed water filters and now were distributing bottled water. We are not just an advocacy group asking you to do something for nothing. We are Newark residents who have children, pay taxes and water bills. We don't have the necessary resources to keep filling in for local officials' failed strategic planning and botched implementations.
    "We are willing to have honest and transparent public discussions with any elected official, including those who have not responded to us in the past. We will not accept empty promises and hallowed ideas. We expect solutions that must come with funding, timelines, and are socially sustainable or we don't want to hear it. While Newark residents were voiceless and thrown under the table throughout this public health crisis. Assemblyman Jamel Holley stepped up to extend compassion and provided bottled water to Newark residents. Also, he gave us a voice with a proposed plan. We believe for you to declare a State of Emergency is promoting a legitimate purpose, which is our public health and safety. Newark residents need immediate relief. We need you to choose our public health over politics. Our expectation is that you will have our backs and not leave us hanging in there. Please declare a State of Emergency."

    4) I Helped Expose the Lead Crisis in Flint. Here's What Other Cities Should Do.
    The fight against lead in water is a fight for our kids.
    "A troubling number of cities across the country — PittsburghChicagoPortland, Ore. — are struggling with elevated lead in their drinking water. It's one of the legacies of the profit-driven and largely unaccountable lead industry that thwarted science, fought regulations and forced its use in our gasoline, paint and plumbing."
    By Mona Hanna-Attisha, August 27, 2019

    CreditCreditMichael George Haddad

    Four years ago, with my white coat on, I stepped out of my pediatric clinic and held a news conference. Lifting a baby bottle filled with water from Flint, Mich., I shared my research: Lead was increasingly in the blood of Flint's children. The powers-that-betried to silence me initially, but persistence, activism, teamwork and science prevailed. Since then, Flint has been on a slow but sure path toward recovery.
    Flint is an extreme case but not unique. A troubling number of cities across the country — PittsburghChicagoPortland, Ore. — are struggling with elevated lead in their drinking water. It's one of the legacies of the profit-driven and largely unaccountable lead industry that thwarted science, fought regulations and forced its use in our gasoline, paint and plumbing.
    Now Newark, a city with three times the population of Flint, is facing a similar problem of lead in its drinking water. Because of weak sampling requirements in the federal Lead and Copper Rule, we may never know when Newark's corrosion control treatmentstarted to fail, but data showing lead was present in drinking water first appeared in 2016 — and that in itself is troubling.

    Newark's water samples reveal lead levels that aren't "borderline" numbers or wait-and-see numbers. The amount of lead in Newark's water is among the highest of any municipal system of its size across the country. Some levels in the city are in the hundreds of parts per billion. And now there is a concern that the lead-clearing filters are not working as well as they should.

    What can Newark citizens expect? If they've paid attention to drinking-water crises of the past 20 years in our country, they'll see politicians who are in denial, utilities that don't want to be held accountable, health officials who demand "proof of harm" before taking action and victims who are dismissed and even blamed.
    The most telling example of what can go wrong — desperately wrong — can be learned from taking a close look at the Washington water crisis in the nation's capital.
    And you thought I'd be telling you all about Flint, right?
    There was a water crisis in Washington in the early 2000s, the kind of public health tragedy that government regulations are meant to protect us from. And it occurred right under the noses of our most powerful institutions. Unless that piece of history becomes more well known, and studied, it will continue to repeat itself.
    I hadn't been schooled in the Washington crisis, either, until my high school friend Elin Betanzo, a drinking-water expert who worked at the Environmental Protection Agency, came to a barbecue at my house and asked me about the water in Flint, where I work as a pediatrician at a children's public clinic.
    "The authorities say the water is fine," I said to Elin.
    That was in August 2015. I'd been hearing about problems with the drinking water in Flint for months. There were reports about its weird color, odor and taste — followed by bacteria and boil-water advisories. But officials kept saying everything was fine. And I believed them. At the clinic, with great confidence I told the parents of my patients that the drinking water was good enough for their kids to drink.

    "It's not fine," Elin replied with a look of urgency on her face. "When you change the source of water or how it's treated, it changes the way the water reacts with the pipes. That's what we learned from the Washington water crisis. There was lead in the Washington tap water and it took years for anyone in charge to recognize it, let alone fix it."
    Lead in the Washington water? I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "How could something like that take years to address?"
    As a pediatrician, I know lead is the worst kind of poison. Permanent. Life-altering. A neurotoxin, lead can have serious consequences on the developing brain. For decades, levels that the lead industry wanted us to believe are O.K. we know now are not. There is no safe level of lead exposure for a child.
    "Scientists and activists in D.C. tried to be heard — and were ignored," Elin said angrily. "Lead was in the D.C. water for years. More lead than you could imagine. More lead than I want to think about."
    That night, I got very little sleep. In bed with my laptop open, I pored over news accounts of the Washington crisis. They were online and easy to find.
    I learned that after the water treatment in Washington was changed in 2000, authorities did routine sampling and test results showed high concentrations of lead in the public drinking water. As in Newark and Flint, the public was never notified. Even the city government wasn't told.
    For the next four years, toxic levels of lead flowed freely and in heavy amounts in all four quadrants of the District — from Georgetown and Spring Valley to the farthest reaches of Georgia Avenue and Anacostia. It affected infants, children and adults; rich, poor and gentrified; working, middle and upper class; white and black.

    There could be as many as 42,000 children in Washington who were in the womb or under 2 years of age when they were exposed, children who may have experienced inexplicable developmental delays, behavioral problems, low test scores and blunted potential from the impact of lead in their drinking water. Nothing was done for them.
    Nothing was done about the biggest villains in the Washington water crisis, either. All of them escaped conviction or consequences. Nobody went to jail. Nobody lost their job. Many were promoted.
    It was weeks before I got a good night's sleep again. Knowing such lies were possible while children were being poisoned kept me awake at night — and motivated me each day in Flint. What I learned about the Washington crisis — how much lead was in the water, what it took to expose the truth — made me determined the same thing wouldn't happen to Flint kids.
    What keeps me awake now?
    This summer, when I met with the brave activists in Newark, I heard the same searing questions I heard in Flint: "Will my baby be O.K.?" and "How could this happen?"
    Flint and Washington and Newark are all viewed as black cities and have a shared history of segregation, redlining, race riots, white flight, economic decline, violence, a pernicious drug epidemic and a loss of local control. Newark's water crisis, like Flint's and even Washington's, is an obvious case of environmental racism, a case of blindness to the people, places and problems we choose not to see.
    If we stop believing that the government can protect us and keep all children safe, not just the privileged ones, what do we have left? Who are we as a country?
    Studying the Washington crisis is what drove many of us in Flint to do better. We knew that we needed to get an emergency declared, water and filters distributed along with pre-mixed formula for infants, and all the lead pipes replaced. Knowing the Washington water crisis history led us to fight for accountability and for long-term resources and interventions to preserve the promise of Flint children.

    So that's the history lesson that I want to pass on to Newark. Stay woke and keep fighting. Our public health protections fundamentally tell us how much or little we value our children. Beyond drinking water, the stories of Flint and Washington also shed light on the deteriorating infrastructure and environmental injustice in our cities. It's not enough to be aware of injustice; we need to take action — even when it's hard or scary or may seem impossible. And especially when everyone else wants you to stay silent.
    And that gives Newark, and the rest of the nation, an opportunity to write an even better story, one governed by transparency, equity, science, prevention and centered around our most valuable resource: our children.

    Mona Hanna-Attisha (@MonaHannaA) is a pediatrician and professor in Flint, Mich. She is the founder and director of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative. This essay is adapted from her book "What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City."


    5) Scientists Fertilize Eggs From the Last Two Northern White Rhinos
    A mother and daughter are the only two northern white rhinoceroses left in the world. Their eggs were fertilized using sperm from males who have died.
    By Jack Fortin, August 28, 2019

    When the last male white northern rhino died last year, his daughter and granddaughter, Najin and Fatu, were the only two of their kind left. CreditTony Karumba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    With a handful of oocytes and a collection of frozen sperm, an international team of scientists is racing against the clock to ensure that the only two northern white rhinoceroses left on the planet — both females — are not the last of their kind.
    On Sunday, scientists in Italy were able to fertilize seven of the 10 oocytes, or eggs, that had been extracted from the two rhinos last week. They used sperm that had been collected from male rhinos before they died.
    That outcome was better than expected, said Cesare Galli, the managing director of Avantea, the laboratory in Italy. But it is only one more step in a conservation effort that has spanned continents and lasted for years.

    Dr. Galli was working with scientists, veterinarians and conservationists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany, the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

    "We were really able to do something no one before has been able to do," said Jan Stejskal, the director of international projects at the Dvur Kralove Zoo. "We still don't know whether we'll have embryos, but it was successful anyway. We proved that there is a real chance for them to have offspring."
    Not everyone considers this a worthwhile effort; critics questionwhether resurrecting an animal that is functionally extinct could draw attention away from other endangered species.

    Northern white rhinos, a subspecies of the more populous southern white rhinos, once roamed wild in the grasslands of east and central Africa. They have hairier ears and smaller bodies than their relatives, and some researchers have argued that the northern white rhino should be considered a separate species.
    Human efforts to save endangered animals (often made necessary by manmade threats like environmental degradation and poaching) are usually a race against time. But in the case of the northern white rhino, the race is especially urgent.

    An animal can be considered critically endangered if there are dozens or hundreds of them left. But in this case, the only survivors are Najin and Fatu, a mother and daughter. And scientists discovered in 2014 that even artificial insemination using frozen sperm was unlikely to be an option for them, since neither seemed physically capable of carrying an embryo to term.
    Any hope of natural mating vanished entirely last year, when the only male northern white rhinoceros died.
    That rhino, called Sudan, had spent most of his life in the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. He had been captured from the wild in 1975, which might have saved him. In 1960, there were about 2,000 northern white rhinos in Africa. But the population has since been decimated, in large part by habitat loss and poaching.
    Sudan moved to the conservatory in Kenya in 2009 and died at the old age of 45 in March 2018, leaving the two females — his daughter, Najin, and his granddaughter, Fatu — alone at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya's Laikipia County.
    "When he died, it was a sad moment for all of us," said Stephen Ngulu, the veterinarian in charge at the conservancy. "We knew that we had some sperm that had been collected from him and several other males. So we knew that the only hope for the species was to get the eggs from the female."
    In order to extract the eggs from the two rhinos — using a probe guided by ultrasound — the animals had to be put under general anesthesia. That procedure is never risk free, so the scientists and veterinarians involved knew they had to be exceedingly cautious.
    Frank Goeritz, the head veterinarian at the Leibniz Institute in Germany, was in charge of administering the anesthesia during the operation, which was also overseen by David Ndeereh of the Kenya Wildlife Service and Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute.

    "It was a big day for us," Dr. Goeritz said. "It was quite successful." He and Dr. Ngulu said the rhinos recovered nicely from the anesthesia.
    Then the eggs — five from Najin and five from Fatu — were sent to Italy to be fertilized by sperm that had been collected years earlier from two males named Suni and Saút.

    Dr. Goeritz said it would be ideal to see a northern white rhino born within a few years, so that it could coexist with the two females and learn their behavior. But that will require a surrogate pregnancy.
    The southern white rhino might be a good candidate for that. Last month, a southern white rhino calf was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park using hormone-induced ovulation and artificial insemination with frozen semen, San Diego Zoo Global announced. The more those techniques are perfected, the more feasible it becomes that one of these rhinoceroses could eventually carry a northern white rhino to term.
    But that is still many steps ahead. Dr. Galli, of Avantea, said it was unclear how many of the eggs fertilized this week would become blastocysts, the next step in embryonic development. That should become clear sometime next week — and even then, perfecting a technique for transplanting an embryo into a surrogate could take years, and gestation can last for 16 months or more. 
    But even if every egg fails, there will most likely be opportunities to extract more, Dr. Galli said, adding that egg fertilization alone was a big step forward in terms of scientific achievement.

    Dr. Goeritz agreed. "It's not only about saving the northern white rhino," he said. "We gained so much knowledge, and we used technology that we can now apply way earlier for other endangered species before they reach this situation."


    6) St. Louis Hopes $100,000 Reward Helps Solve 4 Child Killings
    At least a dozen children have been shot and killed since April, according to reports. Now, the authorities are hoping the money might help to resolve some of the cases.
    By Niraj Ghokshi, August 27, 2019
    The St. Louis police chief, John Hayden, center, earlier this month.CreditDavid Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    Jurnee Thompson, 8, was waiting with family outside a restaurant in St. Louis late last week when she was shot to death.
    She is among at least a dozen children who have been killed by gunfire in the city since April, according to The Associated Press.And now, the authorities, who have struggled to charge the killers, have announced $25,000 rewards for information leading to arrests in four recent cases, including hers.

    "If you are as outraged as I am when I say: 'Who does this? Who shoots in the direction of a 3-year-old? Who shoots in the direction of a 7-year-old or an 8-year-old or a 10-year-old?' then please help police to solve these crimes," Mayor Lyda Krewson said at a news conference on Saturday.

    The rewards, totaling $100,000 and available until Sept. 1, apply to the cases of: Jurnee, who was killed on Friday; 10-year-old Eddie Hill, who was killed as he stood on the porch of his home with family last month; 3-year-old Kennedi Powell, who was killed on the sidewalk in front of her home in June; and 2-year-old Kayden Johnson, who was shot and killed alongside her mother in April as they hid in a closet from intruders.

    The case of Xavier Usanga, 7, who was shot earlier this month, was not included in the rewards announcement, though a man has admitted to firing the shot that killed him, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
    "We need more information, we need the key information for these crimes, for these detectives to make an arrest," Lisa Pisciotta, executive director of the St. Louis Regional Crimestoppers, the organization administering the rewards, said Tuesday. Investigations into all of the child shooting deaths this year are ongoing, the police said in a statement.
    After the rewards were announced, another child, Sentonio Cox, 15, was found shot to death according to the paper. The dozen children killed by gunfire in St. Louis this year ties or surpasses the number killed by gunfire in any of the past five years, according to data compiled by The Post-Dispatch.
    This week, the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus announced that it had sent a letter to Gov. Michael Parson asking that he consider taking up a law in a special legislative session that would allow municipalities with high rates of gun violence to pass gun control restrictions. (All but a handful of states prohibit local gun control provisions, according to the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association of America.)

    "We consider this an emergency that demands the attention of the entire General Assembly and the Governor," Representative Steve Roberts, chairman of the caucus, said in the release, citing the deaths in St. Louis and in Kansas City. "Action must be taken to stem this rise in gun violence in our cities and to help local law enforcement protect our children."
    In a statement, Governor Parson acknowledged the problem, but disagreed with the caucus's proposed solution, saying that calling a special session was not the right way to address the problem.
    "If we are to change violent criminal acts in Missouri, it will take all of us at the federal, state, local, and community levels working together toward that common goal," he said.
    On Tuesday night, Beto O'Rourke, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, highlighted the deaths in St. Louis in a string of tweets so as not to "lose sight of the individual lives lost" to gun violence each year.
    St. Louis has had the nation's highest murder rate since 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. According to St. Louis Police Department data posted on Monday, the city saw a total of 186 homicides last year and 134 so far this year.
    Mayor Krewson's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.


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

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

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

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

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

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

    8) E.P.A. to Roll Back Regulations on Methane, a Potent Greenhouse Gas
    By Lisa Friedman, August 29, 2019

    CreditCreditBrennan Linsley/Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is set to announce on Thursday that it intends to sharply curtail the regulation of methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change, according to an industry official with knowledge of the plan.
    The Environmental Protection Agency, in a proposed rule, will aim to eliminate federal requirements that oil and gas companies install technology to inspect for and fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities. 
    The proposed rollback is particularly notable because several major energy companies have, in fact, opposed it — just as other industrial giants have opposed previous administration initiatives to dismantle climate-change and environmental rules. Some of the world’s largest auto companies have opposed Mr. Trump’s plans to let vehicles pollute more, and a number of electric utilities have opposed the relaxation of restrictions on toxic mercury pollutionfrom coal-fired power plants. 

    “This is extraordinarily harmful,” Rachel Kyte, the United Nations special representative on sustainable energy, said of this and other administration efforts to undo climate regulations dating from the Obama administration. “Just at a time when the federal government’s job should be to help localities and states move faster toward cleaner energy and a cleaner economy, just at that moment when speed and scale is what’s at stake, the government is walking off the field.”

    Under the proposal, methane, the main component of natural gas, would be only indirectly regulated. A separate but related category of gases, known as volatile organic compounds, would remain regulated under the new rule, and those curbs would have the side benefit of averting some methane emissions.
    The new rule must go through a period of public comment and review, and would most likely be finalized early next year, analysts said. The Wall Street Journal initially reported the expected rule.
    Over all, carbon dioxide is the most significant greenhouse gas, but methane is a close second. It lingers in the atmosphere for a shorter period of time but packs a bigger punch while it lasts. By some estimates, methane has 80 times the heating-trapping power of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years in the atmosphere.
    Methane currently makes up nearly 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. A significant portion of that comes from the oil and gas sector.

    Erik Milito, a vice president at the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing the oil and gas industry, praised the proposed rule, saying, “We think it’s a smarter way of targeting methane emissions.”

    Smaller oil and gas companies have complained to the Trump administration about the Obama rule, saying it is too costly for them to perform the required leak inspections. But major oil and gas companies have called on the Trump administration to tighten restrictions on methane.
    Those larger companies have invested millions of dollars to promote the use of electricity from burning natural gas, which produces about half as much carbon dioxide as coal. They fear that unrestricted leaks of methane could undermine their pitch that gas is a cleaner energy source, leading to lowered demand for the fuel. 
    Exxon wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency last year urging the agency to maintain core elements of the Obama-era policy. And earlier this year Gretchen Watkins, the United States chairwoman for Shell, said the E.P.A. should impose rules “that will both regulate existing methane emissions but also future methane emissions.” 
    Susan Dio, the chairwoman and president of BP America, wrote an op-ed article in March saying that regulating methane is the “right thing to do for the planet” and for the natural gas industry. “To maximize the climate benefits of gas — and meet the dual challenge of producing more energy with fewer emissions — we need to address its Achilles’ heel and eliminate methane emissions,” she wrote.
    Ben Ratner, a senior director with the Environmental Defense Fund, a group that works closely with oil companies to track and reduce methane emissions, said that as renewable energy becomes more affordable, it could undercut the industry message that natural gas is a cleaner energy source. “The reputation of American natural gas is at the precipice, and methane rollbacks are the shove,” Mr. Ratner said.
    Lee Fuller, executive vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the smaller operators that his group represents could not absorb the costs that Exxon or Shell could, particularly when it came to inspecting and repairing older wells. “For these small businesses, it’s a very different economic impact.” 
    The methane regulation has been in the administration’s cross hairs since Mr. Trump’s earliest days in office. In March 2017, Scott Pruitt, then the E.P.A. administrator, tried to suspend the regulation while the agency considered an alternative, but a federal appeals court ruled the move unlawful.

    9) Boris Johnson’s Parliament Suspension Prompts Fury and Resignations
    By Stephen Castle, August 29, 2019

    Protests broke out in London on Wednesday after Prime Minster Boris Johnson announced his decision to suspend Parliament next month. The suspension could increase the chances of Britain leaving the European Union with a “no-deal” Brexit.CreditCreditWill Oliver/EPA, via Shutterstock

    LONDON — Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, faced a growing and angry backlash on Thursday as his decision to suspend Parliament next month prompted protests and legal challenges, and political opponents scrambled to salvage efforts to stop a disorderly Brexit.
    The normally fractious opposition swiftly united in outrage at Mr. Johnson’s maneuver on Wednesday, which brought protesters onto the streets in London and other cities across the country, while an online petition against the action drew well over a million signatures.
    [What did Boris Johnson just do to Parliament? An explainer.]
    The move also strained relations within Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party and prompted claims from critics that the government was trampling the conventions of the country’s unwritten Constitution, undermining its democracy.

    On Wednesday, Mr. Johnson had Queen Elizabeth II approve a plan to restrict the sittings of Parliament in September and October. That reduces his critics’ chances of legislating to prevent Britain from leaving the European Union without first reaching an agreement with Brussels, as the prime minister has threatened to do.

    The Conservative Party leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, resigned on Thursday, and though she carefully avoided criticizing Mr. Johnson in a resignation letter and a news conference, given the timing, the British news media linked her action to the prime minister’s. Ms. Davidson opposes a “no-deal” Brexit, but said she trusted Mr. Johnson’s assurances that he does intend to reach an agreement with the European Union by Oct. 31.
    [The European Union has been called antidemocratic. Now it’s asking if Britain has the same problem.]
    Lord Young of Cookham, a former cabinet minister, resigned as a Conservative whip in the House of Lords on Thursday, saying in a letter that Mr. Johnson’s action “risks undermining the fundamental role of Parliament at a critical time in our history, and reinforces the view that the government may not have the confidence of the House for its Brexit policy.”
    Numerous reports by bodies including the Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund have said a no-deal Brexit would be chaotic and would seriously damage Britain’s economy. Leaks from the government itself have warned of the possibility of jammed ports and shortages of some medicines and fuel.
    A majority of lawmakers are on record as opposing such an outcome. But Mr. Johnson, who became prime minister last month, has promised to leave the European Union on the scheduled date, Oct. 31, preferably with an agreement but without one if necessary.

    [With his Brexit gambit, Boris Johnson revealed a ruthless side.]
    In an overnight poll, far more Britons opposed than supported his suspension of Parliament, and angry comments calling it undemocratic peppered social media, many with the hashtag #StopTheCoup.
    The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, and a former Conservative chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, each called it a “constitutional outrage;” Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, labeled it a “a sort of smash and grab on our democracy.”
    But Jacob Rees-Mogg, a hard-line Brexit supporter and the Conservative leader of the House of Commons, on Thursday defended the government’s decision, arguing that there would still be adequate time to debate Brexit. The real threat to Britain’s unwritten constitution, he wrote in The Daily Telegraph, came from those who opposed Brexit and wanted to overturn the 2016 referendum decision to leave the bloc.

    “The candyfloss of outrage that we’ve had over the past 24 hours — which is almost entirely confected — is from people who never wanted to leave the European Union,” Mr. Rees-Mogg said in an interview with BBC radio.
    [Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament drew intense reactions on social media.]
    The suspension procedure was normal, Mr. Rees-Mogg argued, because Mr. Johnson wanted to start a new session of Parliament.
    While that is technically correct, the timing of the decision, the length of the suspension and its practical impact make the move look like a politically motivated tactic to stifle opposition in Parliament — an institution that Brexit was supposed to strengthen.

    Mr. Johnson’s stance also suggests that he is preparing for a general election campaign, in which he could present himself as the champion of the people against a Parliament intent on thwarting the 2016 Brexit referendum.
    Lawmakers are scheduled to return from a summer vacation next week but Mr. Johnson’s move means that Parliament will be suspended some time the following week. That heads off any attempt by his opponents to tack on a few more days, a tactic they were considering.

    His new timetable has Parliament resuming work on Oct. 14, after the political parties hold their annual conferences — and several days later than previously expected. In addition, he has scheduled an address to Parliament on that date by the queen, laying out his government’s agenda, which lawmakers must then debate, taking up several critical days.
    Mr. Johnson had the option of continuing the current session of Parliament into October, but instead he is starting a new one, meaning that any pending legislation intended to bind his hands will not carry over. If lawmakers who want to prevent a no-deal Brexit cannot draft, introduce and pass legislation in the next two weeks, they will have to start again from scratch in mid-October.
    In effect, Mr. Johnson has cut short the already dwindling time for parliamentary action, and packed it with new obstacles for opponents of a no-deal Brexit.
    Even so, they will try to legislate to prevent a no deal Brexit when they resume work next week.
    Another strand of opposition will come through the courts. One challenge is underway in the Scottish courts and, in London, the anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller has made an application for judicial review of Mr. Johnson’s decision.

    Legal experts are skeptical about her chances and Jonathan Sumption, a former justice of the country’s Supreme Court, told the BBC’s Newsnight program that Ms. Miller’s case was a “very, very, long shot.”
    Ms. Miller has, however, previously upset such predictions. In 2017, she won a case preventing the previous prime minister, Theresa May, from bypassing Parliament on the decision to formally trigger Britain’s departure from the European Union and start a two-year countdown.
    Mr. Johnson’s move involves some considerable risks, as the backlash illustrated. Yet it has also underscored the ruthless focus of the prime minister and his team to succeed where Mrs. May failed, after the Brexit deal she negotiated with Brussels was rejected three times by Parliament.
    His tactics also seem designed to reunite the political right and Brexit supporters behind the Conservatives, ahead of a looming general election that most analysts expected soon. Under Mrs. May, many of those voters had drifted away from the Conservatives, gravitating to smaller, pro-Brexit parties.


    10) Federal Workers’ Children Born Abroad May Not Receive Automatic Citizenship
    By Zolan Kanno-Youngs, August 28, 2019

    CreditCreditEugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

    Children born abroad to certain United States service members and other federal employees will no longer be granted automatic citizenship under a Trump administration policy set to take effect in October.
    Parents of those children, including those born on military bases, will have to apply for citizenship on the children’s behalf before they turn 18, according to a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services policy released on Wednesday.
    The policy appeared to be aimed at military families who have not lived in the United States for years. According to the immigration agency, the change would not affect the children of families with at least one parent who is an American citizen and has lived in the United States for at least five years.
    It was unclear how many families the change would affect.

    A spokeswoman for the Pentagon said the impact would be small, without specifying how many parents would be required to apply for citizenship for their children under the change. A spokeswoman for the citizenship and immigration agency, which oversees legal immigration, also declined to provide the number of families who would be affected.

    The policy change from the agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, infuriated many at the Pentagon and confused others in the military community, who said it called into question the administration’s appreciation of members of the armed services.
    “The children of Americans who risk their lives in uniform are not automatically citizens of the United States: That is an abominable and antipatriotic position for the Trump administration to take,” said Will Goodwin, an Army veteran and the director of government relations for VoteVets, a liberal advocacy organization for veterans.
    Officials at Citizenship and Immigration Services said the change would rescind a policy that considered children of government employees stationed abroad to be “residing in the United States” at the time of their birth, allowing them to obtain automatic citizenship.
    Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the agency’s acting director, issued a statement contrasting the new policy and birthright citizenship, which grants citizenship to any baby born on United States soil. President Trump had previously said that his administration was seriously looking at removing the right to citizenship for children born in the United States to undocumented immigrants.
    “This policy update does not affect anyone who is born a U.S. citizen, period,” said Mr. Cuccinelli, who has aggressively pushed hard-line immigration policies backed by Mr. Trump and Stephen Miller, a White House adviser. “This only affects children who were born outside the United States and were not U.S. citizens.”

    It was Mr. Cuccinelli’s latest attempt to limit legal immigration to the United States.
    He previously announced a new rule that would deny green cards to immigrants deemed likely to be heavy welfare users. In defense of that policy, Mr. Cuccinelli said the famous poem on the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants to the United States referred to “people coming from Europe.”
    [Sign up for the weekly At War newsletter to receive more stories about duty, conflict and consequence.]
    Officials from the immigration agency said on Wednesday that the children of the military members who were affected would still have the opportunity to apply for citizenship.
    “This policy update does not deny citizenship to the children of U.S. government employees or members of the military born abroad,” Mr. Cuccinelli said.
    Andy Blevins, the executive director of the Modern Military Association of America, a nonprofit representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military and veteran families, said the change would add to the toll of the armed services.
    “Military members already have enough to deal with, and the last thing that they should have to do when stationed overseas is go through hoops to ensure their children are U.S. citizens,” Mr. Blevins said. “This preposterous change by the Trump-Pence administration is truly beyond reasonable.”


    11) 10,872 New Yorkers to See Their Marijuana Convictions Disappear
    Under a new law, New York State will expunge the records of those convicted of low-level marijuana crimes.
    By Azi Paybarah, August 28, 2019

    CreditCreditShannon Stapleton/Reuters

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

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

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

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

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


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

    CreditCreditPaul Sancya/Associated Press

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

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

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

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

    Susan Beachy contributed research


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


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

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

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

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




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