Race for Solidarity Board Game


Solidarity against racism has existed from the 1600's and continues until today
An exciting board game of chance, empathy and wisdom, that entertains and educates as it builds solidarity through learning about the destructive history of American racism and those who always fought back. Appreciate the anti-racist solidarity of working people, who built and are still building, the great progressive movements of history. There are over 200 questions, with answers and references.
Spread the word!!
By Dr. Nayvin Gordon



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

Copyright © 2019 Southern Workers Assembly, All rights reserved.
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Rocky MountNC  27802

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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



One Democratic State of Palestine

Why One Democratic State of Palestine

The colonial entity and its imperial patrons have brought the people of Palestine to a historic juncture.  We, the residents of historic Palestine, must dismantle the terms of our collective extermination so as to set up relations which reject racial segregation and mutual negation.  We must dismantle the closed structure and replace it with an open, non-imperial and humane system.  This can only be achieved by establishing One Democratic State of Palestine for its indigenous people, the refugees who were forced out of the country and its current citizens.  This is the key to a 'fair and permanent resolution of conflict' in the region, and to a 'just solution' for the Palestinian cause.  Failing this, war and mutual destruction will continue.

Call for a Palestine Liberation Movement

Call initiated by the One State Assembly, February 9, 2019
We are calling for signatures on the statement to create national and global public opinion specially among Palestinians, Arabs and international supporters about the genuine, just and long lasting solution to the seven decades of the ethnic cleansing war and catastrophe of 1948. The One Democratic State  of Palestine (ODSP) initiative stands in opposition and objection to the dead solution of the two states, the Oslo Accords and exposing the latest racist Nation-State Law that was issued by the apartheid state of Israel which emphasizes the real nature of this manufactured colonial state.
This is a crucial time in the history of our struggle, which needs all activists, individuals and organizations, to consolidate and coordinate their efforts in an organized manner to make an impact, make a difference towards the only solution that guarantees the right of return and deals with our people as one united nation on one united homeland: the One Democratic State of Palestine.
Signatories include: Richard Falk, Alison Weir, Ann Wright, Cindy Sheehan, Tariq Ali, Paul Larudee, Kevin Zeese, Joe Lombardo, Tim Anderson, Amal Wahdan, Judith Bello, Ken Stone, Issa Chaer,  Ali Mallah, Alicia Jrapko …..
Endorsers: Free Palestine Movement, Palestine Solidarity Forum (India), Syria Solidarity Movement, International Committee for Peace Justice and Dignity, Hands Off Syria Coalition, Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, United Front Against Facism and War (Canada), Communist Reconstruction (Canada), Palestine Solidarity Association/University of Western Cape (South Africa), India Palestine Solidarity Forum, Venezuela Solidarity Network, Free Palestine Movement, Akashma News, Media Review Network,  Solidarity Net, Kenya, Human Rights in the Middle East, Cleveland Peace Action, Interfaith Council For Peace In The Middle East Northeast Ohio, Pax Christi Hilton Head, Portsmouth South Downs Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Call for A Palestine Liberation Movement and One Democratic State of Palestine

We say YES to the just national struggle for our rights, which unifies the living energies of our people. We are inspired by our glorious history, our great leaders and their decisive battles, our martyrs, our prisoners, our restless youth and those in refugee camps, waiting on the realization of their inalienable right of return. We say NO to begging at the doors of the occupiers in pursuit of crumbs. This has led Palestinians and will lead them to more division and bloody infighting
Palestine was colonized for strategic, imperial reasons: it is at the junction of three continents, with key transport links and easy access for the hegemonic powers on their way to the oil wealth of the Arab nations. But the colonists could not evacuate the Palestinian people, who have lived here for more than 6,000 years.
After a century of dealing with the European colonial states and American imperialism, our Arab nation has been betrayed, and is still being betrayed, by the terror of these countries.
The illusion that Zionists want peace must be confronted. When will we wake up? We cannot speak of a national state for the Palestinians if we do not liberate ourselves from our petty differences while under siege and occupation. We have to recognize reality: that we continue in a period of national liberation, not in a period of state building.
For this reason we believe in the need to withdraw completely from farcical negotiations with the colonial entity. These only cover up and legalize the occupation. They suggest fair solutions which don't exist, deepening Palestinian conflicts and leading to bloody infighting.
The national liberation stage must precede the construction of the national state. Recognizing this provides a compass to guide us in our national priorities and relations with others. This means no more agreements with the occupiers. They will not commit to agreements, and experience shows they are part of a great deception, falsely called a 'peace process'.
This 'Peace Process' became a façade for the colonial entity to proceed with a so-called 'political solution'. Really, they needed Palestinian participation to pave the way for the oppressive Arab regimes to end the boycott and 'normalize' relationships with the entity.
As Arab markets were closed to the Zionist entity by a blockade, it was necessary to find ways to open them through 'normalization'. But Palestinian resistance had generated popular sympathy in the Arab and Islamic world, and formed a major obstacle to this 'normalization'. Zionist leader Shimon Perez admitted: "The main goal of the Oslo conventions was not Palestinians, but rather normalization with the Arab world and opening its markets."
Yet national liberation requires confronting, not submitting to, foreign hegemony. We say that the leadership of our national movement has ignored this, and has instead engaged in binding relations with the occupying entity and its patrons.
The history of the colonial entity in Palestine is nothing more than a history of the destruction of the Palestinian people and their civilization. Two thirds of our people have been displaced and more than 90% of our land has been stolen. Our land, water and houses are stolen and demolished every day, while apartheid walls are built and the racist nation-state law is being enforced by Israeli legislators. There is also a permanent aggression against the peoples of the region, to subjugate them through Salafist terrorism and economic siege.
The USA supports the Zionist entity with money, weapons, missiles and aircraft, while protecting it from punishment at the UN, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, abolishing its financial support for the United Nations Refugees and Work Agency (UNRWA) and halting its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. How can the USA or its regional puppets ever be 'honest brokers' for the people of Palestine?
The invaders falsely used divine religion in attempts to destroy the indigenous people and their cultures. They said this was an 'empty land', available for another people with no land, but with the 'divine promise' of a religious homeland. Yet hiding settler colonization behind the banner of Judaism wrongly places responsibility on religion for the crimes of the colonizers.
We have no problem with 'Jewish' people in Palestine. That problem emerged in capitalist Europe, not in our countries. We are not the ones to create a solution to Europe's 'Jewish problem'. Rather, we have to deal with colonization and foreign hegemony in our region.
The colonial entity and its imperial patrons have brought the people of Palestine to a historic juncture. We, the residents of historic Palestine, must dismantle the terms of our collective extermination so as to set up relations which reject racial segregation and mutual negation. We must dismantle the closed structure and replace it with an open, non-imperial and humane system. This can only be achieved by establishing One Democratic State of Palestine for its indigenous people, the refugees who we were forced out of the country and its current citizens. This is the key to a 'fair and permanent solution of conflict' in the region, and to a 'just solution' for the Palestinian cause. Failing this, war and mutual destruction will continue.
Yet the old Palestinian leadership has presided over regression. They make agreements for the benefit of the colonial entity and its patrons. They abandon 1948 Palestine and the refugees. They collaborate with our enemies while delivering no tangible benefit for our people.
For these reasons we say that this leadership has become a real obstacle to any future development or advancement for our people. This leadership has lost its qualifications to lead national action. It looks to its own benefit and is too weak to learn the lessons of the anti-colonial movements of the peoples of Asia, Africa and the Americas. It does not see the advances elsewhere in challenging US hegemony. It does not even see the resistance in the Arab and Muslim World, when they manage to foil US and Zionist projects.
Our movement must be an organic part of the Arab Liberation Movement, putting an end to foreign hegemony, achieving national unity and liberating Palestine from the current apartheid system. Yet this great humanitarian goal directly clashes with the interests of the dominant triad - the forces of global hegemony, settler apartheid and the comprador Arab regimes.
We warn all against chasing the myth of 'two contiguous states' in Palestine. This is a major deception, to portray ethnic enclaves within Palestine as an expression of the right to popular self-determination. The goal must be to replace apartheid with equal citizenship and this can only be achieved by establishing One Democratic State in historic Palestine for all, including its indigenous people, the refugees who we were forced out of the country and its current citizens, including those who were drawn into the country as settlers through the Zionist project.
Palestinian parties negotiating for unity and reform should focus on restoring liberation to the core of the Palestinian National Charter. The Arab homeland will never be liberated and unified by subordination to the USA! It will only be liberated by confronting and ending colonial and imperial dominance.
We say YES to national unity in the framework of our Palestinian Liberation Movement, freed from deceptive agreements which only serve the hegemonic powers and comprador regimes.
LONG LIVE PALESTINE, liberated from racial colonization and built on the foundations of equality for all its citizens, rejecting segregation and discrimination by religion, culture or ethnicity; friends with its regional neighbours and with all progressive forces of the world!
**Your Signature**



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) Hong Kong Protesters Clash With Police After Defying Ban
    By Mike Ives and Austin Ramzy, August 31, 2019

    Riot police officers fired tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong on Saturday.CreditCreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

    HONG KONG — Crowds of masked pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong defied official warnings, set fires in the streets and battled the police on Saturday in the most intense clashes since the demonstrations over the city's fate began in June.
    As government helicopters hovered above, the riot police fired tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons at protesters outside government offices and the Chinese military's local headquarters. Some of the demonstrators threw firebombs at police barricades.
    The police pumped blue-dyed water into knots of protesters, starkly marking them to make it easier for officers to make arrests. And by nightfall, a makeshift barricade that protesters had erected across a road had been set on fire, sending a plume of black smoke through canyons of skyscrapers and blinking neon signs.
    [City on edge: Photographs from Hong Kong's summer of protest]

    Tensions had been running high, partly because the protests marked the fifth anniversary of the day the Chinese government announced a plan for limited democracy in this semiautonomous former British colony. That decision angered many in Hong Kong, and it set off months of large-scale protests in 2014 known as the Umbrella Movement.

    Even as the clashes were still unfolding across the city, the Hong Kong government said Saturday that it would not reopen negotiations on proposals to increase democracy despite demands for a "one person, one vote" system to elect the city's leader and legislature directly without interference from Beijing.
    "Rashly embarking on political reform again will further polarize society, which is an irresponsible act," the statement said. "Any discussions on constitutional development have to be premised on the legal basis, and be conducted under a peaceful atmosphere with mutual trust in a pragmatic manner."
    Top Chinese officials, along with the Hong Kong officials who answer to them, have ruled out making concessions to the demonstrators and have pushed a campaign of stepped-up arrests, according to veteran members of the city's political establishment. Beijing also does not want anything to mar its Oct. 1 celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
    The eruptions of fire and water on Saturday were a further sign of deepening frustration and determination on both sides of Hong Kong's worst political crisis since the territory returned to Chinese control in 1997.
    Jess Chan, 23, a kindergarten teacher who was handing out jackets near the site where protesters were clashing with the police in the pouring rain on Saturday, said there was a measure of desperation in the air because of the coming Oct. 1 anniversary and the fact that many protesters were students who would soon return to class.

    "This is the last war," she said.
    The authorities, for their part, have signaled that no more defiance will be tolerated. On Friday, several of the most prominent pro-democracy lawmakers and activists in the city were rounded up by the police, though many were later released on bail.
    Around midday on Saturday, tens of thousands of black-clad protesters began gathering, peacefully at first, in central areas of the city despite the government's decision to prohibit a demonstration. They marched toward government offices and the home of Carrie Lam, the territory's besieged chief executive.
    "You are in breach of the law," read a black-and-yellow sign that a police officer held aloft at a playground area early on. "You may be prosecuted."
    By 3 p.m., throngs of marchers had snarled traffic on several major roads in the pouring rain, as riot police officers blocked roads in the central business district that led uphill toward Mrs. Lam's residence.
    As dusk approached, much of the city's downtown had been brought to a standstill, either by protesters or the makeshift barricades they had built across roads. And in a harborside park outside government offices and the city's legislature, protesters began spraying graffiti on the water-filled barriers that the police had erected outside the buildings, and launching firebombs.
    The police responded with tear gas and the blue-dyed water, and phalanxes of officers then began clearing crowds across downtown, making arrests and in some cases shooting what appeared to be rubber bullets. The police later said "minimum force" had been used to disperse protesters after "repeated and futile warnings."

    Fire trucks eventually extinguished a giant blaze that had erupted atop the protest barricade. But, with tear gas heavy in the air and police sirens wailing, many protesters began traveling east toward a shopping district they had occupied earlier in the day. Some of them smashed security cameras, set up new barricades and sprayed graffiti in a train station.
    By 10 p.m., as street clashes continued across the city, there was still no sign of peace.
    Hong Kong's political crisis was set off by widespread anger over a bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial. The measure, which critics said could be used to target activists, has been suspended, but not withdrawn as protesters have demanded. Demonstrators' demands have since expanded to include universal suffrage and an investigation of the police.
    Vincent Ho, 40, began protesting early afternoon Saturday with his wife and their 10-year-old son. He said that he had wondered whether it was safe to bring his son, but that they planned to leave before anything dangerous happened.
    Mr. Ho, who works at a bank, said measures like the extradition bill had made him question whether he was comfortable having his son grow up in the city.
    "Our freedom is being taken away," he said. "Our system is being destroyed, and without that, it's not Hong Kong anymore."
    In recent days, China's news media have underlined the Communist Party's warnings against the protesters by publicizing reports that units of China's militia, the People's Armed Police, have been on the move in Shenzhen, the mainland Chinese city next to Hong Kong, and training to suppress protests.
    On Saturday, several Chinese news media showed a 30-second video online that they said showed anti-riot police and People's Armed Police troops on trucks and buses near Shenzhen's frontier with Hong Kong.

    People's Daily, the main newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, also warned Saturday that Beijing would not stand on the sidelines if the Hong Kong government was overwhelmed by "turmoil." It likened the protesters to arrogant ants, warning that they stood no chance of prevailing over the central leadership in Beijing.
    Street violence has come in fits and starts during this summer's protests, and life in Hong Kong has otherwise proceeded relatively normally. But there is growing fear among a wide cross-section of Hong Kong society that the violence, which has included a mob attack on protesters, could eventually lead to deaths.
    Some protesters have in recent weeks thrown bricks, firebombs and other objects at the police, who as of mid-August had fired more than 1,800 rounds of tear gas, plus rubber bullets and beanbag rounds, to disperse crowds.
    Last weekend, the police used water cannon trucks for the first time since the protests began in June, and a few officers drew pistols on protesters, some of whom were charging at them with sticks. And on Friday night, the Hong Kong news media reported, an off-duty police officer was stabbed during an attack by three masked men in a train station. He remained conscious but suffered bone-deep wounds.
    Mrs. Lam, the territory's chief executive, said on Tuesday that the government was looking into "all laws in Hong Kong — if they can provide a legal means to stop violence and chaos."
    Mrs. Lam was answering a question about whether she was considering use of Hong Kong's sweeping Emergency Regulations Ordinance, a colonial-era law that grants Hong Kong's leader broad powers to "make any regulations whatsoever which he may consider desirable in the public interest." One fear is that the law could be used to justify blocking some of the messaging apps that are popular with protesters.

    Reporting was contributed by Chris Buckley, Lam Yik Fei, Amy Qin, Laurel Chor, Tiffany May, Ezra Cheung and Katherine Li.


    2) The Mysterious Vaping Illness That's "Becoming an Epidemic"
    By Sheila Kaplan and Matt Richter, August 30, 2019

    An X-ray of a patient with a vaping habit, showing lung damage — densities or whitish cloud-like areas typically associated with some pneumonias, fluid in the lungs or inflammation.CreditCreditIntermountain Healthcare

    An 18-year-old showed up in a Long Island emergency room, gasping for breath, vomiting and dizzy. When a doctor asked if the teenager had been vaping, he said no.
    The patient's older brother, a police officer, was suspicious. He rummaged through the youth's room and found hidden vials of marijuana for vaping.
    "I don't know where he purchased it. He doesn't know," said Dr. Melodi Pirzada, chief pediatric pulmonologist at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., who treated the young man. "Luckily, he survived." 

    Dr. Pirzada is one of the many physicians across the country treating patients — now totaling more than 215 — with mysterious and life-threatening vaping-related illnesses this summer. The outbreak is "becoming an epidemic," she said. "Something is very wrong."

    Patients, mostly otherwise healthy and in their late teens and 20s, are showing up with severe shortness of breath, often after suffering for several days with vomiting, fever and fatigue. Some have wound up in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator for weeks. Treatment has been complicated by patients' lack of knowledge — and sometimes outright denial — about the actual substances they might have used or inhaled. 
    Health investigators are now trying to determine whether a particular toxin or substance has sneaked into the supply of vaping products, whether some people reused cartridges containing contaminants, or whether the risk stems from a broader behavior, like heavy e-cigarette use, vaping marijuana or a combination.
    On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning to teenagers and other consumers, telling them to stop buying bootleg and street cannabis and e-cigarette products, and to stop modifying devices to vape adulterated substances. 
    The illnesses have focused attention on a trend that has been overshadowed by the intense public concern about soaring teenage use of e-cigarettes, with its potential for hooking a new generation on nicotine: the rise of the vaping device itself. It has introduced a wholesale change in how people consume nicotine or marijuana, by inhaling vaporized ingredients. 
    Vaping works by heating liquid and turning it into steam to be inhaled. Broadly speaking, e-cigarettes are considered less harmful than traditional cigarettes, which work through the combustion of tobacco that sends thousands of chemicals, many carcinogenic, into the lungs.

    But vaping has its own problems: To become inhalable, nicotine or THC, the high-inducing chemical in marijuana, must be mixed with solvents that dissolve and deliver the drugs. The solvents, or oils, heat up during aerosolization to become vapor. But some oil droplets may be left over as the liquid cools back down, and inhaling those drops may cause breathing problems and lung inflammation. 
    "Inhaling oil into your lungs is extremely dangerous behavior that could result in death," said Thomas Eissenberg, who studies vaping at Virginia Commonwealth University. "That is probably the biggest message we can get out of this."
    Many vaping ingredients are not listed on the products. Vitamin E oil appears to have been a common substance associated with the severe and sudden respiratory problems in some of the New York cases, according to state health officials. It is not known how it was used. Vitamin E is sometimes advertised as a supplement in cannabidiol oil, which is not designed for vaping but has been used that way.

    Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said he suspected a link to illicit products — perhaps related to ingredients including THC — because the main manufacturers of e-cigarettes had not suddenly altered their ingredients on a wide scale. "It's probably something new that has been introduced into the market by an illegal manufacturer, either a new flavor or a new way to emulsify THC that is causing these injuries," he said.

    The outbreaks have created a crisis for two emerging industries — e-cigarettes and legal cannabis — that have pitched themselves as beneficial to public health. E-cigarette supporters consider the technology a safer alternative to smoking, while cannabis has been sold politically as "medical marijuana" and as a substitute for tobacco growers.

    Now some subset of these products is causing a serious lung disease that even cigarettes, while lethal in the long run, don't cause in young people. Lobbyists and company officials in both industries are scrambling to blame unregulated products.
    The spate of illnesses has made news again of Juul Labs, maker of the blockbuster e-cigarette device blamed for the surge in teenage vaping. In a television interview, Kevin Burns, the company's chief executive, said he did not know of evidence linking the recent cases to Juul's products. 
    On lung scans, the illnesses look at first like a serious viral orbacterial pneumonia, but tests show no infection. "We've run all these tests looking for bacteria, looking for viruses and coming up negative," said Dr. Dixie Harris, a critical care pulmonologist in Salt Lake City, who has consulted on four such patients and reviewed case files of nine others in the state. 
    On Aug. 6, Dr. Harris was working in a Salt Lake City-area hospital — she declined to provide more detail in order to protect patient privacy rights — when she was called to the intensive care unit to consult on a patient with the severe lung ailment.
    The patient was in his 20s and a heavy e-cigarette user who also vaped THC.
    She later consulted with two dozen hospitals around the state on patients with difficult pulmonary or critical care issues. "I saw a second case," she said. "I'm like, 'Wait a second, this is weird — two hospitals, two young people, almost identical story.'"
    The next morning, she called Dr. Joseph Miner, the chief medical officer for the Utah state health department, who told her he would try to figure out what was going on.
    In the ensuing weeks, Dr. Harris saw two other patients firsthand and reviewed nine other cases for the hospital group where she works, Intermountain Healthcare, which has 24 hospitals in Utah and Idaho. She said the first 10 cases were from eight different hospitals; over all, the state of Utah reported 21 cases.

    Dr. Harris said that the four patients she had been directly involved with "have been doing e-cigarettes with nicotine constantly, like round the clock. Maybe there's some sort of accelerant effect causing inflammation in the lung caused by the THC oil." She added that her interviews with patients suggested they were getting the marijuana liquid from friends in states with legal supplies of the drug, like California and Colorado.
    Some patients are suffering from another condition known as lipoid pneumonia, doctors said. When vaped oils get into the lungs, the lungs treat them as a foreign object and mount an immune response, resulting in inflammation and the buildup of liquids, which can cause lipoid pneumonia.

    The surge in these illnesses comes at the start of a school year, one in which parents, teachers and administrators had already braced for the challenge of educating in the age of the vape pen, which is easy to conceal. 
    While educator and parental concern has focused on Juul, the reality is that the market for vaping devices and the liquids that fill them is vast and filled with counterfeiters and do-it-yourselfers, making it hard for regulators and scientists to home in on a specific product.
    The Vapor Technology Association, an e-cigarette and vaping industry trade group, asked "public officials to thoroughly investigate the circumstances which might have led to each reported hospitalization before making statements to the public as to whether certain products are implicated in these incidents."
    The regulation and study of the marijuana industry is particularly complex. Even though the federal government still considers cannabis a controlled substance, 33 states now allow it to be sold for either recreational or medicinal purposes or both. Hundreds of cannabis products are sold, legally and illegally, such as THC oil, or cannabis oil with THC.

    The Food and Drug Administration has warned some sellers of cannabis product supplements not to make health claims, but more are doing so than the agency can keep up with. The F.D.A. oversees CBD products sold as dietary supplements, but does not regulate THC, which is illegal under federal law. Liquid nicotine and THC, sometimes sold in cartridges for use in vaping devices, can each contain oils that may be safe to swallow but can damage the lung when vaporized into a mix of unknown chemicals.

    While e-cigarettes have been presumed less harmful over the long run than cigarettes, the ultimate impact from years of vaping is simply not yet known. 
    Mr. Eissenberg, director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products at Virginia Commonwealth University, said seven cases of similar lung injuries from e-cigarette vaping had been reported in previous years. 
    "A common ingredient was vegetable glycerin, which is made from vegetable oil," he said. "If there is some incomplete process, there can be oil left in the vegetable glycerin when that person is using it, and inhaling oil and getting oil into your lungs is what is causing some of the lung injuries we see."
    "Basically what the F.D.A. should be doing is testing every one of these liquids to see if they have any oil at all and making a regulation that would ban oil in any of these products, whether it is a THC product or a nicotine product," said Mr. Eissenberg, who is researching vaping with a grant from the agency.

    Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a part of the National Institutes of Health, said she was surprised at the severity of the lung disease involved in this summer's cases, but not by the possibility that vaping products were causing such illnesses.

    "There is no oversight," Dr. Volkow said. "No one is actually evaluating the products to see whether they are pure, or if they contain toxic substances. There has to be some way of regulating them."
    The Long Island teenager, who was on a ventilator at one point, has a long road to recovery and doctors still haven't identified the cause of his illness. 
    "They tested for infectious diseases. They tested for bacteria. They tested for a host of issues. It all came back negative," his father said. He requested anonymity to protect the identity of his son. "We were helpless. We didn't know what to do. The doctors didn't know what to do. They would treat the symptoms first and figure out what was killing him later."
    In Illinois, a woman in her 30s who had recently vaped was hospitalized and died, health officials said on Aug. 23. 
    Another recent case involves a 31-year-old Queens resident namedKevin Corrales, who in late July was in the back seat of a car heading to a Long Island beach when he started gasping for air.
    "It was terrifying," he said. "I was really gasping. I should have been rushed to the hospital. They thought I was exaggerating."

    He called an Uber to take him home. Too tired to climb the stairs of the home he shares with his parents, he stayed in a basement room for several days, until he felt better.
    That day, in the car, he had been vaping a Juul, the popular e-cigarette. But he also occasionally vapes THC oil in a separate device. "I can buy these oils like a bag of potato chips," Mr. Corrales said.
    "It's hard to say whether it was the THC or nicotine," said Mr. Corrales, who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking.
    Mitch Smith contributed reporting from Chicago.

    3) 51 People Died in Mass Shootings in August Alone in the U.S.
    So far this year, there have been at least 38 shootings with three or more fatalities, data shows.
    By Neil Vigdor, August 31, 2019

    Five people were killed and more than 20 others were injured in a mass shooting in the West Texas cities of Midland and Odessa on Saturday.CreditCreditTim Fischer/Midland Reporter-Telegram, via Associated Press
    The month of August ended as it began: with a shooting rampage and a significant death toll. 
    Five people were killed near Odessa, Tex., on Saturday as a gunman started shooting indiscriminately at cars, bringing the number of victims of mass killings by firearms to 51 for the month.
    The term mass killings is defined by the Justice Department as three or more killings in a single episode, excluding the death of a gunman. There is no legal definition for the term mass shooting, despite its frequent use by gun control groups and the news media.
    This month's loss of life was most acute in Texas, where four of the eight deadliest shootings occurred, including an Aug. 3 massacre at a Walmart in El Paso that killed 22 people. 

    The spate of gun violence has left the country on edge and catalyzed a more intense debate over gun control.

    The carnage in West Texas on Saturday was the 38th mass killing by firearms in the United States this year. 
    Here are some of the deadliest shootings so far in 2019 based on figures from the website Mass Shooting Tracker and local news media accounts. The death tolls do not include the people who carried out the attacks, and not every episode of 2019 is listed.

    AUG. 4 — 9 KILLED
    Nine people were killed and 27 others were wounded after a gunman wearing a mask and body armor opened fire in a busy entertainment district. The gunman's sister was among the dead, according to the police.
    AUG. 3 — 22 KILLED
    Twenty-two people were killed and 26 others wounded in a shooting that targeted shoppers in a Walmart store in El Paso, a predominantly Hispanic border city. The suspect, a white man in his 20s who was taken into custody, wrote an anti-immigrant manifesto that was posted online shortly before the attack, the authorities said.

    JULY 28 — 3 KILLED
    An annual garlic festival in an agricultural community south of San Jose turned deadly when a 19-year-old man opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle that he had bought legally in Nevada. The gunman killed himself in the attack. The victims included a 13-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy.
    The bodies of five men who had been fatally shot were discovered in an apartment building by police officers in north St. Louis County, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The victims ranged in age from 37 to 65. Two men were arrested in the killings, which the police said were connected to "drug activity," The Post-Dispatch reported.
    JUNE 8 — 5 KILLED
    Five members of the Yakama Nation were killed in White Swan, a remote community on the Yakama Indian Reservation in central Washington State. Four people were arrested in the shootings, the latest act in a cycle of criminal activity on the reservation, which is between the Cascade mountains and the Columbia River. Two of the men charged in the killings took a child hostage at gunpoint, the authorities said.

    MAY 31 — 12 KILLED
    A city engineer quit his job and then went on a shooting rampage at Building No. 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. The gunman, a former soldier, was armed with two handguns and a cache of ammunition as he targeted his former co-workers in offices and hallways, according to the authorities. His victims were civil servants in the public works and public utilities departments and a contractor who was at the offices to discuss a permit.

    FEB. 15 — 5 KILLED
    A disgruntled employee who had been fired from his job returned to a suburban Chicago factory with a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun with a laser sight, which the authorities said he used to kill five of his former co-workers. The gunman was not supposed to have a weapon, as his gun permit had been revoked a year earlier because of a felony assault conviction. The victims included an intern who was on his first day of work and a grandfather of eight.

    JAN. 23 — 5 KILLED
    Five women were fatally shot while they were lying on the ground in a SunTrust Bank branch by a 21-year-old man, who called an emergency dispatcher and said, "I have shot five people." The suspect, who was charged with five counts of first-degree premeditated murder, was wearing a T-shirt that bore the image of four scythe-wielding grim reapers on horseback.


    4) One Job Is Better Than Two
    Millions of Americans have full-time jobs that don't pay enough to make ends meet. So they have to work a second job, too.
    By Binyamin Appelbaum and Damon Winter, September 1, 2019

    Ashley Cocchiara works in a union training program for painters at a construction site, left, almost an hour and a half north of her home in Charleroi, Pa. She makes $21.55 an hour. She also pulls shifts as a bartender at social clubs in Charleroi, right, but hopes to stop that to spend more time with her 3-year-old son, Jasper, center.CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

    It's easy for most people to find a job in America on Labor Day 2019. The unemployment rate is very low; store windows are plastered with help wanted signs.
    But for millions of Americans, one job is not enough.
    Bridget Hughes, 29, works a regular day shift at a Burger King in Kansas City, Mo. Three nights a week, she also works the overnight shift at a nearby McDonald's. She makes $10 an hour at Burger King and $9.50 an hour at McDonald's and, together with her husband's job at a gas station, they manage to feed their three children and to pay the rent.
    "When I thought of my future, I thought I was going to be at football games and soccer practices and cheerleading, when in all actuality I'm lucky if I'm home for birthdays," Ms. Hughes said. "And my children, they think if mommy is at work all the time then we should have the money. But the reality is that I'm at work all the time and I don't have the money."

    More than eight million people — roughly 5 percent of all workers — held more than one job at a time in July, according to the most recent federal data. The economy has been growing for more than a decade, but their lives offer a reminder that not all Americans are thriving.

    Like Ms. Hughes, most people with multiple jobs worked a full-time job that just didn't pay enough. Most workers find second jobs in the same industry, but a growing number have taken on "gig" work like driving for Uber. 
    Daniel Asnake, 49, sleeps in his car after his morning shift as a baggage handler at Reagan National Airport outside Washington, D.C. Then he uses the car to earn as much as $145 a shift as an Uber driver well into the evening. Most days, he leaves home before his two children rise and returns after they have gone to sleep.
    Ashley Cocchiara, 30, hopes to drop her second job soon. Ms. Cocchiara, who lives south of Pittsburgh, landed a spot in a union training program for industrial painters two years ago, and as she racks up hours, her hourly pay is climbing. For now, she still picks up weekend shifts as a bartender in her hometown, to make enough money to care for her 3-year-old son. By next year, she hopes painting will pay enough so she can spend the time with her son instead. 
    Daniel Asnake, 49, handles baggage at Reagan National Airport, left, outside Washington, D.C., even though a doctor told him not to lift more than 15 pounds because of a spinal injury. After finishing his shift at 12:30 p.m., he takes a nap in his car before driving Uber passengers into the evening, recently ending a shift in Silver Spring, Md., right. The two jobs allow him to support his wife, Hannah Firdawoke, who is disabled, and their two sons, Luel Daniel, 7, and Natnel Daniel, 4, center. But he often goes a week without seeing the boys.

    Daysy Rodriguez, 55, outside her home in Elizabeth, N.J., left, supplements her full-time job at a warehouse, center, with part-time work promoting a Latin food company at a Food Bazaar, right. She also works overnight shifts as a home care attendant on weekends. She uses the money from her extra jobs to help her daughter pay her way through college. Her daughter is on pace to graduate next year, and once she does, Ms. Rodriguez plans to cut back on her hours. "I'll be able to rest my body and mind," she said. "And I hope that happens soon."

    Rich Berry
    Rich Berry, 53, at right with one of his two sons, Jared, 20, loves coaching hockey at the State University of New York's upstate campus in Cortland. But during his 20 years as a state trooper, Mr. Berry was not allowed to be paid to do it. After retiring in 2015, Mr. Berry started drawing a salary from the university, but even with a state pension, he had to work five days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Meldrim's Paint Center in Cortland, center, and part-time as a deputy for the Cortland County Sheriff's Department, left, to pay the bills.
    Bridget Hughes has worked in fast food restaurants since she dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to help her mother pay the bills. Ms. Hughes, 29, works a regular day shift at a Burger King in Kansas City, Mo., left. Three days a week, she sleeps for a few hours and then heads to a nearby McDonald's, right, for an overnight shift. Her mother, sister and brother help to care for her children, Rae'Aunna, 6, Dezmon, 7 and Tray'Von, 10, center.
    Alicia Cleveland, left, works as a nanny for an Atlanta family three days a week, earning $18 an hour. Ms. Cleveland, 41, would like to find a family that needs full-time help; in the meantime, she picks up odd jobs as a babysitter, chauffeuring kids to activities in her Dodge Journey. After dinner and homework with her own three children, Jaida, 9, Jordan, 13 and Jasmine, 16, center, she heads back out to drive for Uber and Lyft, often starting on a trendy strip of restaurants near Georgia State University, right.
    Produced by Sarah Eckinger.


    5) Terror on Both Sides of the Rio Grande
    Nothing can bring back the victims of the attack in El Paso, but the Mexican government knows that the way we label it matters.
    By Loan Grillo, September 2, 2019
    The funeral in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, of Elsa Mendoza Márquez, 57, a schoolteacher killed in the mass shooting in El Paso on Aug 3.CreditCreditMario Tama/Getty Images


    MEXICO CITY — As schools resumed classes last week, teachers, students and parents arrived at Rafael Veloz Elementary in Ciudad Juárez wearing white, holding hands and weeping. The school's head teacher, Elsa Mendoza Márquez, had been killed on Aug. 3 in the mass shooting in El Paso. The parents had to explain to their young children why she was missing. The assistant head told themthat Ms. Mendoza would always be in their hearts. 
    Ms. Mendoza, 57, was one of eight Mexican citizens among the 22 people who died in the attack, in which a man named Patrick Crusius is accused of shooting shoppers in a Walmart with an AK-style rifle. Most of the other victims were Americans of Mexican descent, while one was a German. Ms. Mendoza had crossed the border to see family in El Paso, according to reports, and popped into the store while her husband and son waited in the car.
    The El Paso shooting was at the top of the agenda of the first meeting between President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the new American ambassador, Christopher Landau, on Monday. (The last ambassador, Roberta Jacobson, resigned in May 2018, and has since been a vocal critic of President Trump.)
    Mexico's position is that justice for the El Paso victims must include a condemnation of the hate that the authorities say drove Mr. Crusius to mass murder. "We think this case is decisive so these acts are not repeated," said Mexico's foreign secretary, Marcelo Ebrard.

    Mr. Ebrard has called for terrorism charges to be filed against Mr. Crusius and has said Mexico may ask for his extradition here. On Wednesday, the Organization of American States also supported a motion by Mexico to condemn the "terrorist act" in El Paso.
    The Mexican government is right. The massacre indeed looks to be a political act designed to sow terror and hate. It was the kind of violence that not only creates discord between Americans, but could provoke tensions between the United States and Mexico.
    Sadly, specific terrorism charges are not likely to be filed because of the way American laws are framed. And the extradition of Mr. Crusius to Mexico is unlikely. But even without such charges, prosecutors and the police need to make clear that the case is a political crime of terror rather than the random act of a madman. And at all levels, the American government should be unwavering in condemning such political violence, especially in face of the migrant-bashing rhetoric that has emanated from the White House itself.

    Terrorism is one of the most debated words in English. Some have called for it to be applied to governments that bomb civilians, rather than just to insurgent groups and lone wolves who take lives. Others say it should be used for mass murderers even if they have no wider agenda.

    But most agree it is certainly terrorism when a person or group murders innocent civilians in the name of a political or religious cause. The El Paso shooting appears to fit this definition to the letter.
    Not only was Mr. Crusius said to have confessed that he deliberately targeted Mexicans, but an online manifesto the authorities say he wrote states that the attack was for political not personal reasons, "defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement."
    The modus operandi in El Paso was very similar to those in other mass shootings such as Las Vegas in 2017 and Parkland, Fla., in 2018. But in contrast to those episodes, this shooting appears to have a transparent political motivation.
    The United States attorney in the El Paso region, John Bash, indeed told reporters that the crime is being treated as "domestic terrorism." But prosecutors say this is a term used for investigations rather than a chargeable offense. 
    Meanwhile, specific terrorism charges are leveled against those working with foreign extremist organizations. This has led to a double standard where radical Islamic violence is often met with terrorist charges while white supremacist violence is not.
    The Mexican government also faces its own immense problems of bloodshed, with record levels of murders here in the first half of the year. On Tuesday, the police say, there was an especially brutal attack in which cartel members set fire to a bar, killing 28 people. And President Trump said in March that his government is considering naming some of the cartels behind this violence as terrorist organizations.

    Prosecutors in Mexico have issued terrorism charges against cartel affiliates on various occasions. In one 2015 case, the targets were cartel foot soldiers who blockaded dozens of roads with burning trucks, torched gas stations and shot down a military helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.

    But even while Mexico faces such violence at home, it is still crucial that it reacts to the murder of its citizens abroad. After all, the United States has convicted killers of Americans in Mexico while simultaneously facing its own high murder rates.
    Mexico's call to condemn racist political violence may sound hollow; it won't bring the victims of El Paso back to life. But one can hope that if American officials clearly rebuke such violence and make it a priority to go after racist terrorism, another such calamity could be prevented — and fewer children north and south of the Rio Grande will have to return to school and try to comprehend why a teacher, a friend, a loved one, a parent, is no longer with them.


    6) 'Treatment Facilities' Aren't What You Think They Are
    Convicted of no crime, more people are being forced behind bars to undergo involuntary addiction treatment.
    By Leo Beletsky and Denise Tomasini-Joshi, September 3, 2019

    The Stonybrook Stabilization and Treatment Center at the Hampden County Jail in Ludlow, Mass., where men involuntarily committed were forced to receive addiction treatment in 2018.CreditCreditJesse Costa/WBUR

    Imagine your aunt has developed diabetes and you want her to get better. Medical science suggests that medicine might help, but you decide that the better strategy is to lock your aunt in a room and force her to eat only lettuce — even though she hates vegetables. No medication, no discussion of other options.
    Does this seem absurd? Illegal? It's both of those, and no medical professional would advise it. But we are doing more or less the same to people who use drugs. 
    Laws in many states authorize family members, health care providers or police officers to ask courts to send someone who has not been convicted of any crime to be detained for involuntaryaddiction treatment; in many cases this means being locked in a jail or prison. 

    In places like Massachusetts, where the overdose crisis has been particularly destructive, these jails and prisons are being rebranded as "treatment facilities."

    As we continue to hear the mantra that we can't arrest our way out of this crisis, policymakers are facing more pressure to expand treatment. Involuntary treatment has become an attractive response because it allows them to keep the punitive status quo, while also boasting they're shifting toward a public health response. 
    There are many ways this approach falls short. For one, people are held in jail cells under lock and key. The facilities typically offer only one approach to treating addiction — abstinence. Medicines proved to effectively address addiction to heroin or other opioids are typically unavailable.
    Troublingly, coerced treatment is becoming increasingly popular, spurred by the overdose crisis. At least 38 states allow civil commitment for substance use, up from 18 in 1991.
    And while politicians, families and others view involuntary commitment as a good solution, research suggests that involuntary treatment is actually less effective in terms of long-term substance use, and more dangerous in terms of overdose risk
    A study by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that people who were involuntarily committed were more than twice as likely to experience a fatal overdose as those who completed voluntary treatment. Just as with other forms of incarceration, people with addiction who are forced into withdrawal behind bars are very likely to relapse upon release. Lower levels of tolerance makes the risk of fatal re-entry astronomically high.
    Changing a name without a change in approach is dangerous. Jails masquerading as "treatment centers" make clear how harmful it is for the health of patients — and public discourse — to describe detention in correctional facilities as "treatment." In a Massachusetts treatment center, for example, patients are required to wear orange uniforms, carry a badge with the word "inmate" and are monitored by corrections officers, without having committed a criminal offense. Patients can't even have visitors.
    Moreover, unlike at treatment centers not tied to the judicial system, judges can override clinicians' recommendations in making medical decisions in involuntary commitment cases. Would we want family members with cancer or diabetes to have their course of treatment mandated by a judge?
    We have the evidence that voluntary treatment can drastically reduce overdose, cutting risks from 50 to 80 percent. The World Health Organization recommends that anyone likely to be a lay "first responder" — a relative, friend, fellow drug user — should have access to naloxone, which reverses opioid overdose. It has saved lives in the United States and across the world. The medicines buprenorphine and methadone also reduce injection of illegal drugs. Safe injection facilities, which provide an environment for the most vulnerable to consume drugs under medical supervision and without fear of arrest, help reduce overdose. Syringe service programs, though under constant threat in the United States, have helped people who inject drugs control H.I.V. infection effectively.
    We need a more profound cultural shift to embrace solutions that are both scientific and ethical. Encouraging people to be active participants in their care and recovery improves the impact of treatment, while empowering people to take control of their lives. Reams of evidence on the success of harm-reduction programs refute the idea that people who use drugs cannot make healthy or rational choices.
    Making meaningful changes is more than mere rebranding — it's about dismantling outdated systems and reinvesting in alternatives that are more effective and humane.
    People entering addiction treatment deserve ethical and effective care. While some may find the idea of involuntary treatment alluring, a suspension of civil rights is not just unnecessary — it hijacks efforts to solve our overdose crisis. Civil rights violations in the name of "treatment" are still violations. And jails called "treatment facilities" are still jail.
    Leo Beletsky (@LeoBeletsky) is a professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University, and the faculty director of the Health in Justice Action Lab. Denise Tomasini-Joshi (@DMTJoshi) is a division director at the Public Health Program of the Open Society Foundations.

    7) 'A Disastrous Outcome': In Bahamas, Hurricane Cripples Rescue Efforts
    By Rachel KnowlesFrances Robles and 

    New images show the destruction in the Abaco Islands, located in the northern Bahamas.Terran Knowles/Our News Bahamas

    NASSAU, Bahamas — Desperate residents stranded on rooftops amid swirling currents. Rescue efforts stalled by flooded vehicles and roads turned to rivers. Communications in ruins and basic infrastructure — including shelters, hospitals and public buildings — under water.
    And all around, vicious winds and crashing waves brought on by Hurricane Dorian, one of the most powerful storms recorded in the Atlantic, whipped the low-lying islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the northwestern Bahamas for a second day on Tuesday.
    The true extent of Dorian's toll was only beginning to emerge as the storm began to pull away.
    [Follow live updates on Hurricane Dorian here.]

    Entire neighborhoods were reduced to unrecognizable fields of rubble, houses were crushed into splinters and boats were tossed into heaps like toys, video from a helicopter flyover showed. About 60 percent of Grand Bahama was under water, the satellite company Iceye said Monday. That includes the airport. All around, massive waves curled toward the island, delivering new blows.

    "It's not just the power and ferocity of the storm, it's also the length of time it spent over Abaco and Grand Bahama," said Marvin Dames, the minister of national security for the Bahamas. "That's a disastrous outcome."
    Seven people have died in Abaco, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at an evening news conference, although the toll was expected to climb. Children were among those killed, Mr. Dames had said earlier.
    Hurricane Dorian first made landfall in the Bahamas as a category 5 storm on Sunday, but then it lingered, pummeling Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands, blocking even a basic accounting of the number of victims and the destruction.
    Cindy Russell, a resident of Marsh Harbour whose home was destroyed, said she had no words to describe what Dorian left in its wake.

    "It's like we just need to be rescued and put on another island to start over again," she said. "Complete devastation."

    Though the hurricane, now a category 2, was pushing its way toward Florida, it was not expected to clear the islands until early Wednesday.
    "Storm surge is the number one killer in a tropical storm," said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, speaking of the rising of the sea that results from the wind and pressure changes brought on by a storm.
    In Freeport, the largest city on Grand Bahama, Sarah Kirkby watched helplessly as a huge flood poured in and inundated her house.
    "It was absolutely terrifying," she said. "I have never seen water come in like that. You don't realize the power until you're in it."
    Some local rescue efforts began on Tuesday, she said, as the water began to recede, with neighbors manning Jet Skis to rescue people trapped on their roofs — but it was unclear where they might go, since many shelters were also flooded or damaged by the storm.
    Aid agencies that were staged in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, grew frustrated through the day, waiting on standby to deliver desperately needed supplies. Few helicopters were able to take off for the hardest-hit areas because of high winds, low visibility and limited space.

    "There's an overabundance of people to help," said William M. Holowesko, general manager of Odyssey Aviation in Nassau, which became a de facto staging ground for relief flights Tuesday." So there is that pent-up frustration on many different fronts."
    American government helicopter crews — mainly from the United States Coast Guard but also from Customs and Border Protection — have been conducting evacuation missions.

    All of the rescues on Abaco were conducted by the Coast Guard, which also provided the prime minister and Bahamas emergency management officials with their first flyover to assess the damages. But conditions on Grand Bahama were so poor that even the military helicopters were forced to turn back, so no rescues were attempted there.
    Coast Guard Rear Adm. Todd Sokalzuk said officials still had a "large volume" of calls for help from people stranded on their rooftops.
    Responders were trying to take advantage of a window of opportunity after the eye passed over Grand Bahama to try to rescue people, but many police cruisers and other emergency vehicles were under water.
    "Some of the bigger vehicles, dump trucks and fire engines, are trying to get through the water," Kevin D. Harris, director general of the Bahamas Information Service, said. "Grand Bahama is flat, and you can imagine the devastation we are going to incur."

    There was so much water that government offices, including the government radio station, had to leave the lower floors.
    The islands in the northwestern Bahamas that were hit the hardest — the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama — are 30 feet at their highest point, and the storm surge reached up to 23 feet, not counting the waves, said Joel Cline, the Tropical Program Coordinator at NOAA.
    Photographs from flights over Abaco show trees sheared of limbs and leaves and saltwater ponds covering swaths of land where homes once stood. Some houses had their roofs ripped clean off, while others were reduced to piles of debris mired in water. All around, a rough ocean lapped at the low-lying islands.
    On Tuesday, people continued to seek shelter at the Grand Lucayan Resort and Casino on Grand Bahama, said Michael Scott, who is the chairman of the government-owned hotel.
    "It's a catastrophic and dystopian mess," he said, estimating that more than 400 people were now being cared for at the hotel. "Other shelters which have been compromised are having their people decanted into our facility."

    To bring more people to safety, he said, "we're going to have to use big trucks and big vehicles."
    Passenger cars and even emergency service vehicles had been trapped by the floods, according to photos and videos shared by text message from residents on the island.

    On the Abaco Islands, east of Grand Bahama, officials believe whole towns have been wiped out. The area, whose population includes Haitian migrants living in shantytowns like the Mudd and Pigeon Peas, is especially vulnerable. The Mudd was "decimated," the prime minister said Tuesday night.
    Caribbean disaster response managers say that they may not be able to get any firsthand information out of the islands until Wednesday.
    The Bahamas are no stranger to hurricanes. But Dorian, with sustained wind speeds of 185 miles per hour, ranks as one of the strongest to ever make landfall, tied with the 1935 Labor Day hurricane.
    The powerful storm's sluggish pace — it crawled over the island at about 1 mile per hour from Monday afternoon to Tuesday morning — ensured steady, brutal destruction, with harrowing images of residents among the ruins of their homes surfacing on social media.
    More than 200 people have placed frantic rescue calls to emergency officials, including a government minister, who was also trapped with his family in his own attic.
    It is not unheard-of for storms to stall. Hurricane Betsy stalled for a day and a half off the coast of Florida in 1965. More recently, Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America in 1998 and Hurricane Wilma lingered off the coast of Cancun in 2005, according to Mr. Feltgen, of the National Hurricane Center.
    "Storms stall, they're steered by the weather pattern that surrounds them, so if that weather pattern is in equilibrium, then the storm will stop," he said. "It's an atmospheric tug of war."

    A sense of unity bound those suffering under the weight of the hurricane. Some in the Bahamas who were less affected by the storm took to social media to amplify the calls for help.

    Crystal A. deGregory, a historian in Nashville, Tenn., was visiting her family in Freeport when Hurricane Dorian made landfall. She spent all of Monday fielding frantic calls for rescue from her relatives.
    Her sister, cornered by rising water, children in tow, cried for help on social media. Ms. deGregory began to post as well, offering addresses and details to rescuers on Twitter.
    "I was terrified," she said. "It was an indescribable feeling."
    On Tuesday, many residents faced the terrifying choice between staying in their rapidly-flooding homes or plunging into the volatile waters to seek shelter.
    Tim Aylen, a Grand Bahama resident, waded through chest-deep storm surges with his wife and young son, spurred on by fear and horror. He barely had time to make the decision to flee.
    "You open the door, and the water's just pouring in," he said. "You think, 'No, that's going to flood the house.'"

    In that frantic moment, he made the call to leave the house, rather than flee to the attic. With their belongings in bags, his family and their three dogs forded the rushing water.
    "We have experienced a lot of hurricanes in our time, but nothing like this," he said.
    Mr. Aylen said that once his family was secured in a nearby shelter, he assisted with the search and rescue of people torn from their homes.
    "This little girl, she just jumped into my arms and she was screaming," he recalled.
    Sam Teicher, an American who moved to Grand Bahama Island 18 months ago to set up a coral farm saw his project destroyed by the storm. It was meant to restore dying reefs near the island.
    On Tuesday Mr. Teicher saw firsthand the wreckage left by Dorian.
    "The water seemed to stretch for miles," Mr. Teicher said. "It was kind of like looking at those scenes of bayous with the trees coming out of the swamp — except that's where people live."

    Rachel Knowles reported from Nassau, Frances Robles from Miami and Elisabeth Malkin from Mexico City. Kirk Semple contributed reporting from Nassau.


    8) Hurricane Dorian Makes Bahamians the Latest Climate-Crisis Victims
    The country has a tiny carbon footprint but carries the burden of being ground zero for global warming.

    Destruction on the island of Grand Bahama in the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.CreditCreditJoe Skipper/Reuters

    MIAMI — Whoever thought Dorian might be a good name for a hurricane has some explaining to do. In the Bahamas, when we have to deal with difficulties, we try to make the saddest people among us laugh, knowing that they will return the favor in our hour of need. 
    So when Hurricane Dorian hit land in the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas a few days ago and the horrific pictures started streaming in on social media, among the videos shared early on was what appeared to be a woman running through the rain and wind to safety, only to have her wig blow from her head. 
    The punch line wasn't the wig taking flight. It was that she doubled back to retrieve it, rather than continue to safety, expanding the list of life's essentials. Many people might read this as a highly inappropriate moment for such frivolity, but for Bahamians it was perfect timing.

    What we have seen in the past few days has been sublime in its horror. It has estranged us from the humor that keeps us going despite the increasing fragility of life in the breathtakingly beautiful place we call home. It has a tiny carbon footprint but carries the burden of being ground zero for our climate crisis.

    We Bahamians listen to climate deniers in rich countries who are oblivious or indifferent to those who bear the weight for their wonderful life. Meanwhile, the water rises from the ground in our yards because the water table is so high during high tide, and plants we once depended upon no longer grow. We experience too much rain or too little rain, and fresh water supplies are increasingly contaminated by rising sea levels.
    We watch as the governments of small island states like our own, tied to multinational agreements, are forced to make decisions that are not in the best interests of the people they serve, while our electrical grid fails and we are made more dependent on fossil fuels rather than renewable energy. "Too expensive," they say. "For whom?" we reply. "Is cost the only consideration?"
    We feel the sunshine all around us but are prevented from employing it freely and legally to meet our energy needs. It can be illegal to take your house off the grid and go completely solar on your own, but who knows how often the government enforces this. The energy from solar panels becomes an enemy instead of a resource.
    The United Nations recently released a damning climate report that stated unless immediate dramatic changes take place across the world, places like the Bahamas will be the first to be consumed by the ocean. There was no discussion of this apocalyptic report in the country, nothing from the prime minister.

    Perhaps it was too much to discuss one's own death sentence. Or perhaps we already knew. Because after all, there are times like this, when hurricanes named Dorian — a name forever associated with horror and the undying — ferociously bear down on the places and the people we love, providing a foretaste of what is to come when the waters will not recede.
    It is difficult to summon humor now. We are an archipelago of 700 islands linked to a global archipelago of small communities of Bahamians across the world. I now live in what is often referred to as the northern Caribbean city of Miami. The storm assaulted two of the larger more populated islands in the north of the country, just a hundred miles away. I can feel the occasional bands of rain and breeze, while I hear reports of 200-, 185-, 165-mile-per-hour winds. I think, what will be left?
    This is no longer unusual for Caribbean people. As I shared video footage with friends in Puerto Rico, they remarked, "I know the sound of that wind." Is this what it means to be intimately connected by horror? Is there a new creolized language and aesthetic we have now become fluent in by default? We are island people. Where do you go? We live on slim margins.
    On Day 2, the footage became less intense. We had watched light poles snap quickly and the grid fail. We had seen the sea break its boundaries, joining the rising canals to reclaim the earth. I had watched as friends documented the strange brown and gray water rising onto their porches, over car roofs and into their houses. We had shared images of families who had done all the recommended preparations become trapped, praying to be rescued. 
    We had seen inside homes where the detritus bobbed in waters 10 feet high and unreal images of sharks and large fish swimming outside in the deluge, even as the water continued to rise 15 feet, then 20 feet. We had seen roofs blowing off like sheets of paper, cars and boats upended like toys. We had cheered as people swam to safety and cried upon hearing reports of others who had tried to escape and failed. We had seen homes built for five become refuge for 50. We furiously texted friends and family to make sure they were O.K. and we felt helpless.
    As landlines failed and batteries died, the footage stopped. Communications were suddenly interrupted. The last text I received was from a friend at 3:45 a.m. on Monday: "This storm is a beast — but we are hanging in there." There has been no word since.

    On Wednesday those of us on other islands and cities barely touched by Hurricane Dorian began posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram of family members disappeared into the silence of dead batteries and broken services. "Have you seen them?" "Are they O.K.?" Beautiful faces streamed across social media. I was unable to look for very long, overcome with emotion and deathly afraid of recognition.

    So we mobilize. We call on the United States to pass the Green New Deal. We donate to groups like HeadKnowles. We consider how to gather volunteers and Bahamian mental health workers to deploy in the coming days. But we need everyone's help and kindness. We need tarps, tents, sleeping bags, batteries, flashlights, heavy equipment, generators, chain saws, electrical workers and people capable of rebuilding communication towers and homes. We need nonperishable food, wipes, adult and children's diapers, bug spray. 
    We need lots of things, but please — no tossed paper towels. This is not funny. Though gracious, Bahamians may toss them back to you.
    Erica Moiah James, an assistant professor in the department of art and art history at the University of Miami, was the founding director and chief curator of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.

    9) 36 Years in Prison for a $50 Robbery
    When will Alabama stop throwing away people in its shameful prisons?
    By Carla Crowder, September 5, 2019

    Alvin Kennard, 58, was ordered to be released from prison Wednesday after serving 36 years and is set to be processed out by the Alabama Department of Corrections.CreditCreditIvana Hrynkiw/The Birmingham News, via Associated Press

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alvin Kennard, a 58-year-old Alabama man who spent most of his life behind bars for a $50 knife-point robbery at a bakery, walked free last Friday. He felt the warm embrace of his family, attended church and ate a home-cooked meal for the first time in 36 years.
    The State of Alabama fully intended for Mr. Kennard to die in prison for this crime. He was one of more than 250 people in the state serving life without the possibility of parole for robbery, according to a document provided in a legal proceeding this year by the Alabama Department of Corrections. Many of them have been behind bars since the 1980s.

    This year, David Carpenter, a Jefferson County judge, examined a long-shot court pleading Mr. Kennard had submitted, with help from a jailhouse lawyer. Judge Carpenter appointed me to represent Mr. Kennard and look into options for resentencing him.

    My first stop was the Donaldson Correctional Facility, the maximum-security prison in Bessemer where my client was incarcerated. Donaldson was familiar territory for me, as I'd spent nearly a decade representing imprisoned people in Alabama and five years before as a journalist writing about the state's prison system.

    Mr. Kennard was quiet that first visit, and barely cracked a smile. He told me that both his parents and his twin brother had died while he was locked up. For several years, Mr. Kennard had been living in what's known as the Faith Dorm, reserved for prisoners who agree to follow strict rules and participate in religious activities. He felt relatively safe there.
    I began researching his case and his options, then returned to the prison a few weeks later. On that visit, Mr. Kennard reported that the day before, hundreds of law enforcement officers had stormed the prison to search for contraband. More than 500 makeshift weapons, as well as drugs and cellphones, were confiscated. Mr. Kennard and his fellow Faith Dorm residents were forced to lie face down with their arms over their heads as officers swept the prison. His shoulders were still sore.
    Several sweeps like this in Alabama's prisons have taken place since the Justice Department issued a report in April finding"reasonable cause to believe that the men's prisons fail to protect prisoners from prisoner-on-prisoner violence and prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse, and fail to provide prisoners with safe conditions."
    Findings like these buttress Alabama's reputation for having the worst prisons in the country. There are so many homicides, suicides and overdose deaths that the state had lost track of how many people died in its prisons and could not even provide the Justice Department with accurate numbers, according to the report.

    These horrific conditions were the backdrop to my conversation with Mr. Kennard. He knew if he was resentenced to life with parole, a better sentence, he would be transferred to a lower-security prison, which meant housing in an open dorm as opposed to cells. Those can be the most chaotic housing units, where stabbings and homicides have been common. Maybe I could ask the judge to order that he be allowed to stay in Donaldson's Faith Dorm instead, my client said timidly.
    It is both absurd and tragic that the promise of a better sentence meant a 58-year-old man who has not received a prison disciplinary infraction in 15 years was calculating how to stay safe now that the possibility of freedom was before him. And yet, that is what Alabama's addiction to incarceration and unwillingness to pay for it has wrought.
    This crisis is fueled in part by the state's Habitual Felony Offender Act, which allows a life sentence for numerous crimes other than homicide, including robbery and burglary if a defendant has had three felony convictions even for relatively minor offenses. (Mr. Kennard had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree burglary.)
    Repeat offenders are the target. However, it has become increasingly clear that the greatest repeat offender is the state itself.
    Back in 1975, a federal judge, Frank M. Johnson, found "massive unconstitutional infirmities which plague Alabama's prisons." Since then, there have been class-action lawsuits that ended in federal intervention at the state's women's prison, Tutwiler Prison, where inmates were being sexually assaulted by staff members, and at Limestone Correctional Facility, where prisoners with H.I.V. were dying at excessive rates. 
    In 2017, the state entered into another federal settlement agreement over violent conditions at St. Clair Correctional Facility, following a lawsuit by the Equal Justice Initiative. Most recently, another federal judge, Myron Thompson, ordered improvements in the prison system's "horrendously inadequate" mental health care.
    All along the way, Alabama has shelled out millions of dollars in legal fees to private lawyers to defend itself in these cases.

    Unlike the government that incarcerates them, the hundreds of people stuck in these dangerous prisons for crimes committed when they were in their teens and 20s have no lawyers. I was able to represent Mr. Kennard pro bono because my day job is as executive director of the nonprofit Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.
    When he had a chance to speak up in court last week, Mr. Kennard offered these words: "I just want to say I'm sorry for what I did. I take responsibility for what I did in the past. I want the opportunity to get it right."
    We are still waiting for Alabama to do the same.

    10) 'I'm Too Old to Be Scared by Much': Margaret Atwood on Her 'Handmaid's Tale' Sequel
    The writer talks about her new book, effective yelling and the character who's too good to kill.
    By Alexandra Alter, September 5, 2019

    "This one has more closure," Margaret Atwood said of "The Testaments," which picks up after the ambiguous ending of "The Handmaid's Tale." "Someone said, oh, it's such a happy ending, well, not for everyone in the story."CreditCreditArden Wray for The New York Times

    TORONTO — Margaret Atwood wasn't sure she had a "Handmaid's Tale" sequel in her, even as fans clamored for one. 
    "What they were begging for was a continuation in the voice of Offred, which I would not have been able to do," she said over tea and juice at a cafe near her home. "You can climb the Empire State Building barehanded once. When you try again, you'll fall off. It was a wildly improbable thing to have done in the first place. That voice was there. She said her thing. There's nothing you can really add in her voice."

    But a few years ago, Atwood started plotting a way to continue her 1985 dystopian classic about the women of Gilead, a religious autocracy in what was formerly the United States, where fertile women are subjected to ritualized rape and forced to bear children for the upper class citizens.

    Between then and now, "The Handmaid's Tale" became a pop culture phenomenon, a political rallying cry and a hit television series on Hulu, starring Elisabeth Moss as Offred, the narrator. The English-language edition of the novel has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide. Women dressed as handmaids have flooded Congress and state capitols to protest new restrictions on reproductive rights. Expectations for Atwood's sequel, which this month was named to the Booker Prize shortlist ahead of its release on Tuesday, are stratospheric.
    "The Testaments," which has been shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize, comes out on Sept. 10.CreditSonny Figueroa/The New York Times

    Adding to those pressures is that a "Handmaid's Tale" sequel effectively exists already. The TV adaptation, created by Bruce Miller, has extended Offred's saga beyond the scope of the novel. So Atwood and Miller had to calibrate plot and character developments in the show, so that the series didn't contradict her sequel, or vice versa.
    "Margaret offered me more restrictions, and I gave her more information," Miller said in an interview. "I had to be careful about where I was going and what I was doing. She controls the world."
    The sequel, titled "The Testaments," takes place roughly 15 years after the end of "The Handmaid's Tale," when Offred is led into a black van. The sequel features two new narrators — a young woman who has been brought up in Gilead and a Canadian teenager who escaped the regime as an infant — and a third who will be familiar to fans of the original novel and show: Aunt Lydia, the terrifying, vindictive architect of Gilead's system for training women for reproductive servitude. As their intertwined stories unfold, Atwood reveals new facets of how Gilead's power structure came to be, and how it eventually crumbles. (A TV adaptation of "The Testaments" is also in the works.)
    Atwood, who will turn 80 this year, was in high spirits as she reflected on her work, mortality and the surprising prescience of "The Handmaid's Tale." These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

    When you announced the sequel, you said that you were aiming to answer questions that readers had been asking about Gilead for years. What were some of those questions?
    They all begin with "what if." And one of the what ifs was this: Totalitarian systems don't last, it is my fervent belief. Some of them have lasted longer than others. When they come apart, what is it that causes them to fall apart? Well, there's a lot of different scenarios. Crumbling from within, corruption and inter-purging among the elites; attacks from without; generational succession. The first generation generally comes with righteous fervor, the second is focused on administration; and the third generation starts to think, What are we doing?
    After the election of President Trump, sales of "The Handmaid's Tale" surged and readers noted how timely it felt. Some elements have become even more aligned with current events, with the erosion of reproductive rights, separation of parents from their children at the border and the targeting of minorities by white supremacists. Did you want to write a sequel in part to address some of those new parallels?
    No, no. It's always bubbling away in any country. White supremacists are there and then they come out when conditions are favorable, as they are in the United States right now.
    "The Testaments" picks up 15 years later, but it weaves in plot elements that were introduced in the TV show. Were you consciously trying to build off it?
    I was trying to make it so that there weren't any glaring inconsistencies. They updated the timeline, so we leave a lot of things open.

    In the show's second season, Offred's baby, Nicole, is smuggled out of the country to Canada. Baby Nicole is central to the plot of your new novel. Did you get the idea for that character from the show and decide to expand on her in the sequel?
    No, Nicole was my name. You'll notice that I've left them a lot of blank wall paper to draw on behind the scenes, so it's up to them how they get people across the border in their part of the plot.
    [ "The Testaments" was one of our most anticipated titles of September. See the full list. ]
    You've been very involved in the show, which continues Offred's story beyond the scope of your first novel. What has that process been like?
    I have influence but no power. There's a big difference. I'm not the person who can ultimately sign off on anything. So, I'm in communication with Bruce, and I say things like, You can't kill that person.
    Does that work?
    Well, he didn't kill her. But he wasn't going to kill her anyway. She's too good to kill.
    Which character?
    Have there been times where the showrunners wanted to take the plot and characters in a direction that you felt violated the rules of the world you built?
    There's a couple of things that are in the book that they didn't entirely pick up, but you can see why they didn't — it's a television show.

    In the book they go full white supremacy. I give them an out for the show. They make the cast multiracial in the TV series for a few reasons: No. 1, they updated it to now, and No. 2, Hulu has a diversity clause, and No. 3, a show in which everybody was white would be very boring to look at.
    Have there been plot developments that you've disagreed with?
    I've done some yelling, but it was fairly effective yelling. I think it's a bit of a problem for people that know about real totalitarianism that some of these characters have survived for as long as they did. Surely they would have been shot by now. Quite a few too many people know what June has been up to.

    n "The Testaments," Aunt Lydia becomes much more complex and sympathetic, a victim as well as a perpetrator. How did she evolve in your mind over the decades and why did you decide to make her a central character in the sequel?
    How do you get to be a high-ranking person within a totalitarian dictatorship? Either you're a true believer from the beginning, at which point you're probably going to get purged later on, or you're an opportunist. Or it can be fear, or it can be a combination of all of them. I would put fear as No. 1: If I don't do this, I will be killed.
    Aunt Lydia's always been a climber, so she climbed up. She's not easily disturbed, but she's not a true believer like some of the others. As J. Edgar Hoover did, she realizes the power of having dirt on people that you don't reveal publicly.
    When did you first have the idea to write the sequel, and was it something that you had considered before but never gotten around to?

    I've always been thinking about it. I went back in my notes recently and found out that I was thinking about a "Handmaid's Tale" sequel back in 1991. So then you just jump in and see what happens.
    I wondered if the success of the television show factored into your decision to write a sequel, and how it shaped your understanding of the world and the characters. Were you aiming to reassert creative control over the world that you created?
    I can see why you might think that, but no, not really. It really is what I told you at first: how do totalitarianisms fall apart.
    With a work that's as beloved as "The Handmaid's Tale," you face enormous pressure to produce a satisfying sequel. Were you nervous about meeting fans' expectations?
    Will this ruin my future, my literary reputation? If I were 35, you would be absolutely right to ask that question. But it's not a chief concern of mine.

    Did you reread "The Handmaid's Tale" before you wrote "The Testaments"? What struck you about it?
    Of course. I also went back through my clippings file, because in those days, there was no internet, so we clipped things out of newspapers. And all of the things that are now such topics of conversation and such topics of agony, they were all being talked about then. The rise of white supremacy, that layer has never gone away, it's always been there, but somebody opened a door. Religious cults subordinating women was being talked about. Baby stealing is an age-old human motif. Forcing women to have babies, it happens in the Trojan War, for heaven's sake.

    What recent events shaped your thinking?
    I don't want to be too specific, because you're just dictating to the reader, and I would rather let them do their own thinking. That's why when people say, what happened to Offred, I say, your choice. History is full of people who disappear and you can't find any trace of them. What ending would you like to have?
    The sequel is not as ambiguous and open-ended as the original. Was that deliberate on your part, to give the story a feeling of finality?
    Oh, I don't know. This one has more closure. Someone said, oh, it's such a happy ending, well, not for everyone in the story. It is a more positive ending than one might have expected at certain points of the story. I'm a World War II baby. Things looked pretty dark in 1942.
    How do you feel about the fact that your book has taken on new political resonance and that you're sometimes held up as a figurehead of the resistance?
    I have no control over it. I think using the handmaids' costume as a protest mechanism is brilliant. You can't be thrown out, you're not making a disturbance, and you're not saying anything, but you're very visible and everybody knows what you mean. So it has been a brilliant tactic.
    Is it also kind of depressing that people are seeing echoes of your fictional dystopia in contemporary politics?
    From a political point of view, the desired outcome of "The Handmaid's Tale" would have been that it would fade into obscurity as a period piece, so that my dire warnings would not prove to be correct. That's not the turn that history has taken.

    Both Offred in "The Handmaid's Tale" and Aunt Lydia in "The Testaments" wonder if anyone will ever read the words they set down, if their stories will matter. I wondered if that reflected your own views on writing and your desire to connect with readers, and your fear that maybe your work won't have an impact.
    That's true of every writer. Every writer. Even as you write, I see you writing away there, what if your editor kills your piece? Then you will never have a reader. Every time when you set implement to surface, I won't even say pen to paper, because it could be a stone, it could be a tree, you're implying a reader, and it's always a future reader, unless the person's standing looking over your shoulder. The writer is always in that position because you're always separated in time and place from whoever's reading your book. It's always a leap into the unknown future to write anything.

    In the past, you've rejected the feminist label, yet so many readers and critics see feminist ideas in your work. I wonder how you feel about being held up as a feminist icon.
    I'm uncomfortable with the label if the other person won't define it. You have to ask, what kind of feminism are you talking about? Like if someone asks you, are you a Christian, what kind of Christian? Are you someone who dances with snakes, do I think the Pope is infallible, what are we talking about here? Where are we on the spectrum, 'cause there's a lot of varieties. Similarly with feminists, who are frequently denouncing one another. So what kind am I? Because I'm interested in fairness, I'm of an egalitarian kind, in which equal means equal, it doesn't mean superior. So you don't get extra points.
    You don't mind your work being labeled dystopian, though.
    I know what that means. It's a society which we find less preferable than the one were living in, and utopian is one in which we assume that things will be better than the one we're living in. But as I point out, some people's dystopia is other people's utopia, and vice versa.
    What scares you the most right now?
    I'm too old to be scared by much. You're scared when you're young you don't know the plot. You haven't achieved much when you're 20, so you're scared about your future, of course you are. You're hopeful, you're excited, but you're also scared.

    So what I'm hopeful about, rather than scared, are the young people. They are changing the political discourse.
    Have you thought about writing another book about Gilead, making it a trilogy?
    No. I'm too old.
    Are you working on another novel?
    It's just a question of the timeline, how much is left? At my age, let's say it takes me four years to write a novel. Who knows? These are theoretical questions. How many milestone birthdays can you have?
    It sounds like you don't feel a lot of pressure to write more, like you've got nothing left to prove.
    It's just that there isn't a lot of time left. And that's why they're going so wild over the promotion of this book. I know what they're thinking. They're thinking, What if she dies? Ooh, we better do it now. Go all out. Last chance. I say that and they just sort of blush and shuffle their feet. They can't deny they're thinking of it. [laughs]
    What are you working on now?
    I'm working on my collection of poems. It's short.
    Alexandra Alter writes about publishing and the literary world. Before joining The Times in 2014, she covered books and culture for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she reported on religion, and the occasional hurricane, for The Miami Herald.

    11) Squirrels Relax When They Hear Birds Relaxing
    Scientists show that squirrels have one ear tuned to the chatter of birds, and act on what they learn from eavesdropping.
    By James Gorman, September 4, 2019

    A squirrel in Central Park, listening intently.CreditCreditVincent Tullo for The New York Times

    It will come as no surprise to squirrel lovers — and haters, for that matter — that the twitchy, resourceful rodents are exquisitely attuned to the world around them.
    Researchers at Oberlin College reported Wednesday in the scientific journal PLoS One that squirrels pay attention not only to alarm calls, as many animals do, but also to the background chatter of birds, and that they relax a bit when the birds sound relaxed. 
    Of course they do. They're squirrels. They pay attention to everything. I'd be willing to bet that they can tell the difference between an irate bird lover banging on a window in pajamas (no problem) and one with her snow boots on (better get ready to skitter away). 

    Still, that kind of unproven certainty can lead one astray. For instance, goatsuckers, a group of birds that includes the whippoorwill, do not milk goats, Aristotle's declaration to the contrary notwithstanding. If Aristotle had done a bit more research, he might have saved goats ages of anxiety.

    Keith A. Tarvin is not repeating the philosopher's mistake. He's a biologist at Oberlin who studies what kind of information animals derive from the many sounds around them. He and his students set out to get some hard data on what squirrels listen to.
    "I've been interested in alarm calls for a while," he said. In a recent scientific paper, for instance, he reported that gray squirrels pay special attention to the alarm calls of robins. This kind of eavesdropping is widespread in nature. "Even some lizards that don't make their own vocal sounds eavesdrop on some other animals like birds," he said.
    As he and his students discussed the soundscape squirrels live in, he said, "that led us into chatter," the general background noise of nature — in particular the calls that birds make when nothing big is going on. Their question was not what one sparrow might be saying to another, but whether squirrels took note of the birds' conversations when they weren't shouting about hawks. 
    The researchers hypothesized that the squirrels were paying attention, and over the course of a couple of years Dr. Tarvin and two undergraduates, Marie Lilly and Emma Lucore, designed and conducted an experiment to test that idea. They played a recorded screech of a red-tailed hawk, which put the squirrels on alert and caused them to act vigilant. 
    Then they played recordings of desultory bird chatter, or of background noise without birds. They made all the recordings at one bird feeder at different times. Then Ms. Lilly, who did the field work (Ms. Lucore had graduated after helping to design of the experiment), had to find squirrels around Oberlin, in the winter, on her bicycle. It was cold, she said, but squirrels are easier to observe in the winter, with no leaves to obscure their actions.

    She carried with her a sound system in a repurposed cat litter box. "I looked pretty ridiculous," she said. Once she found a squirrel, she set up the sound system and played the different recordings: the hawk followed by bird chatter, and the hawk followed by birdless background noise. She kept track of what the squirrels were doing by entering data into a customized app on her phone. 
    She tracked six "behavioral states" and how long each squirrel was in that state: foraging, preening, resting, standing, freezing and fleeing. Standing, freezing and fleeing were the vigilance states.
    The results were that when the squirrels heard the relaxed birds, they, too, relaxed. And they did so more quickly than when they heard background noise without bird chatter. 
    The squirrels were probably responding to the gestalt of a calm-sounding neighborhood, Dr. Tarvin said, or as Ms. Lilly put it, "the sound of no danger." But it's possible there are specific signals they are picking up that the researchers have not identified. 
    The finding is significant not just to add to the reputation of squirrels as wary and clever. Dr. Tarvin said the research also supported the idea that there may be "public information networks that exist in ecological communities." 
    Human-generated sound, or sound pollution, could interrupt those networks in ways we don't yet understand, Ms. Lilly said. 
    "We really can't know the impact of the sounds that we're creating unless we know more about the sound information that's part of the ecosystem," she said.

    James Gorman is a science writer at large and the host and writer of the video series "ScienceTake." He joined The Times in 1993 and is the author of several books, including "How to Build a Dinosaur," written with the paleontologist Jack Horner.










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