Youth Led Climate Strike!

Friday, September 20, 2019 • 10:00 AM 
Federal Building
90 7th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103



Week of Action in Solidarity with Haiti

Saturday, September 28, 3-5pm 
Kickoff event and release of new report: 
The Lasalin Massacre and the Human Rights Crisis in Haiti
Eastside Arts Alliance
2277 International Boulevard., Oakland
3-5 pm     •     $10-20, no one turned away

Monday, September 30, 12pm
Rally to Stop the Massacres in Haiti
Old Federal Building San Francisco
450 Golden Gate Avenue @ Larkin

Wednesday, October 2, time tba 
Rally to Stop the Massacres in Haiti
Peckham Federal Building San Jose
280 S. 1st Street

Stand in solidarity with the overwhelming majority of Haitians, whose continued resistance to an illegitimate, US-backed regime has given rise to years of sustained protest against stolen elections, government corruption, poverty, land grabs, rising prices, and 15 years of UN/US military occupation. These are the conditions that drive people to leave Haiti and immigrate elsewhere seeking a means to survive. $4.2 BILLION has been stolen from government revenues. The international media has either ignored this struggle or reported in a way that blames the demonstrators for "violence." 

As resistance to this regime intensifies, so does repression. Police and paramilitary forces have responded with bullets, teargas, imprisonment and increasingly, massacres, aimed at wiping out Haiti's grassroots Lavalas movement. Over several nights in November, 2018 state-sponsored armed forces tortured, and/or murdered several hundred people, raped women in front of their families and burned homes in Lasalin, a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince with a history of resistance. 

The U.S. arms, funds and trains Haiti's military and police, and only with U.S. support can this corrupt regime remain in power. The people of Haiti deserve  to live without the daily threat of state-directed violence. It is time for the U.S. to be held accountable for its continued support of the repressive regime now in power in Haiti.

sent by Haiti Action Committee









New Evidence of Innocence Spurs two Court Filings for Mumia Abu Jamal

Press Release


September 9, 2019 Philadelphia—The struggle to free unfairly convicted Mumia Abu-Jamal took a significant step forward on September 3, 2019, when his attorneys submitted two documents to Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Judith L Ritter, Widener University-Delaware Law School, and Samuel Spital, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. released this statement: 
"This week, Mumia Abu-Jamal filed a brief in Pennsylvania Superior Court to support his claim that his 1982 trial was fundamentally unfair in violation of the Constitution. For example, he argues that the prosecution failed to disclose evidence as required and discriminated against African Americans when selecting the jury. And, his lawyer did not adequately challenge the State's witnesses. 
"Mr. Abu-Jamal also filed a motion containing new evidence of constitutional violations such as promises by the prosecutor to pay or give leniency to two witnesses. There is also new evidence of racial discrimination in jury selection."
Abu-Jamal has always said he is innocent and the new documents go a long way in supporting his case, undermining police and prosecution claims of how Philadelphia police officer Danny Faulkner was killed.
The filings are in response to the December 27, 2018 decision by Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker reinstating Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petitions for the defendant. Tucker ruled Justice Ronald Castille unconstitutionally participated in deciding the appeals in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after denying Mr. Abu-Jamal's motions asking for his recusal, creating an appearance of judicial bias.
The "Brief For Appellant" in support of his struggle to gain his freedom after 37 years in Pennsylvania prisons re-opens the PCRA petitions as ordered by Tucker.
The "Appellant's motion for remand to the court of common pleas to consider newly discovered evidence" ask the Superior Court that the case be sent back to the Court of Common Pleas "so that he may present newly discovered evidence."
Among the arguments resubmitted in the "Brief For Appellant:"
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel:Failure to make right argument because counsel did not know the law.
Brady Violation—District Attorney Withheld Evidence:Namely that Prosecutor said that he would look into reinstating the driver's license of key witness, Robert Chobert;
Rights Violation of fifth, sixth, and 14th Amendments:District Attorney manipulated key witness to falsely identify Abu-Jamal as the shooter.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel:Failure to retain ballistics expert when the trial counsel knew Officer Faulkner was killed by a .44 caliber bullet even though it was known Abu-Jamal's firearm was not a .44 weapon.
Batson:Discrimination in jury selection that kept Black jurors from being sworn in.
Juror Misconduct:Several jurors violated court rules by conducting premature discussions, creating potential for prejudgment of evidence.
Basym Hassan, Philadelphia political activist, said: "The district attorney clearly violated Mumia's constitutional rights by withholding clear evidence that should have been exposed from the beginning. Throughout the entire process of Mumia's approaching the scene up until today's current developments, the law has not been applied as it was created—to get to the truth of a matter. Hopefully, Mumia will get a re-trial and the truth will finally get told. We await his release from hell."
Cindy Miller, Food Not Bombs, Solidarity and Mobilization for Mumia reminds us: "Does everybody remember on December 28, when current Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and his staff happened to find six boxes of evidence that had not beforehand been shown? That evidence is partly the reason for this new motion."
The "Appellant's motion for remand to the court of common pleas to consider newly discovered evidence" Miller refers to, includes the suppression of evidence of improper prosecutorial interactions with the state's main two witnesses that were instrumental in ensuring Abu-Jamal's conviction. The motion charges that "Abu-Jamal's capital trial was fundamentally unfair and tainted by serious constitutional violations. Mr. Abu-Jamal respectfully requests that this Court remand the case to the Court of Common Pleas so that Mr. Abu-Jamal may litigate the claims arising from this new evidence."
Pam Africa: "Here's another example of why Mumia shoulda been home—an example of police and prosecutorial misconduct. That evidence has been there for years. It shoulda been in trial records but it was hidden. What else is hidden besides the few things that we have right here."
MOVE 9 member, Eddie Africa said: "If they deal with this issue honestly, they'll have to release him because they know what they did was wrong."
Mumia, 65-years-old, remains in SCI Mahanoy in poor health, suffering from severe itching and cirrhosis of the liver. He recently had cataract surgery in his left eye and is awaiting surgery in his right eye. He also has glaucoma. 
Janine Africa, from the MOVE 9, said: "I just got released from prison after 41 years in May. I want to say, everyone work hard to bring Mumia home so he can be taken care of and get proper medical care, and he don't deserve to be in jail from the beginning."
Mike Africa Jr. added: "The pressure of the people, and of the power of the people is squeezing the evidence of Mumia's innocence out. We shall win."



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



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**



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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)The Problem with Canceling the Arnautoff Murals
    By Michele H. Bogart, September 16, 2019
    Tammy Aramian/GWHS Alumni Association
    A fresco from Victor Arnautoff's The Life of George Washington showing Washington pointing west, as ghostly frontiersmen advance to destroy the Native American way of life, George Washington High School, San Francisco

    On June 25, the Board of Education for the City of San Francisco voted to paint over white a vibrantly-hued 1,600-foot cycle of frescoes, The Life of George Washington. Completed in 1936 in a social-realist style by the Russian-born Victor Arnautoff (1896–1979), who was a Communist, the paintings adorn the stairs and 32nd Avenue lobby entrance of George Washington High School (GWHS), attended by some two thousand students in the city's Richmond neighborhood.

    The school board acted in accord with demands from two First Nation activists and their supporters, who for some months had contended that their adolescent children experienced "generational trauma" because the art works depicted several black slaves and a dead Native American. Adopting the hashtag #paintitdown, the anti-mural groups insisted that the Board of Education accommodate its desire for a safe space by destroying them. The events set off a furor, still in progress, pitting concerns about history, censorship, and education against demands for respect, social justice, and redress. 
    The school board's drastic stance was a travesty, given the murals' iconography and history. Sponsored under federal auspices, through the Fine Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration, the murals were one of seven ambitious New Deal-era art commissions for GWHS: an extraordinary number that attested to that campus's unique standing as a showcase for municipal art, architecture, landscape design, and public education. In a detailed report of October 2017, the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) highlighted this fact, and called for the fresco cycle to receive landmark designation. In a move of political expediency and cowardice, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors tabled HPC's recommendation(much to HPC's chagrin), pending the outcome of the school board's vote. 
    Befitting the work of an artist who had previously collaborated with the Mexican Marxist painter Diego Rivera, Arnautoff's murals were provocative in his own time, for reasons with which the #paintitdown contingent might perhaps have identified. Although they depict the life of the school's namesake, the "formation of personality" and his "personality in action," as the artist put it, Arnautoff's murals were hardly celebrations of the slave-holding president. "It is not the prissy, Parson Weemish Washington of the cherry tree," remarked the San Francisco Chronicle's critic Albert Frankenstein of The Life of George Washington in 1936. Indeed not. 
    "As I see it," wrote Arnautoff in 1935, "the artist is a critic of society." As the Arnautoff biographer Robert Cherny has shown, that critical stance underpinned The Life of George Washington and much of the artist's public work. In that sense, his approach was akin to a number of other radical artists of the 1930s, such as Rockwell Kent, who embedded occasional subtle but provocative left-wing social messages into their murals. This method differed from those of more moderate New Deal muralists, whose treatment of their subjects tended to be straightforwardly affirmative and middle of the road. 
    Regarding particular works, Arnautoff never stated his intentions outright. His approach was understated, even ironic in tone, but it was consistent with his broader outlook as a Communist in 1935–1936 who sympathized with African-Americans, Native Americans, and working people—an outlook made manifest in his Life of George Washington. Subversively for its time, the high school fresco series portrayed Washington himself and his legacy to the nation as complicit with the institution of slavery and acts of genocide against Native Americans. 
    In Westward Vision, for example, the tableau deemed most offensive by the #paintitdown advocates, Washington, in the company of Benjamin Franklin and others (unidentified by the artist, but it has been suggested: James Madison, to Franklin's left, and Thomas Jefferson, to his right), points to a map and gestures forcefully to a grisaille apparition of frontiersmen, presaging the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. The corpse of a Native American man lies prone beneath the pioneers. Native Americans are depicted throughout as war-painted adversaries, some threateningly wielding rifles. African Americans are rendered as slaves, tending to Washington's horses and laboring in the fields of Mount Vernon. Arnautoff's iconography of race was not atypical within the history of American art; one can find images like them in the United States Capitol. But for a Communist artist to get away with critiquing, as part of a federal cultural program, the very "Father of our Country" in whose honor GWHS had been named, was out of the ordinary. 
    Spencer Jon Helfen/Collection of Andrew Herrera II
    Victor Arnautoff: The Muralist, self-portrait, 1928; from Victor Arnautoff and the Politics of Art, by Robert W. Cherny, published by the University of Illinois Press (2017)
    The #paintitdown advocates, however, did not see the portrayals of Washington as indictments of the myth. They refuted assertions about the murals' pedagogical significance, insisting that the feelings of some members of a long-oppressed minority group trumped claims by academic experts, whose views they regarded as racist. According to one of the most outspoken activists, GWHS parent Amy Anderson of the Ahkaamaymowin group of Métis, The Life of George Washington automatically represented a colonialist perspective because it was painted by a white man; therefore, the frescoes validated white supremacy. 
    The progressive school board accepted this argument virtually without question. No matter that its members apparently misconstrued Arnautoff's intent, that the works had educational potential, or that a majority of GWHS teachers and students opposed destroying them. The board insisted that it was acting in solidarity with people whose voices were too often not heard. 
    Indeed, the June 25 vote could have been predicted, given events leading up to it. In late 2018, after entertaining a proposal that the school's name be changed, San Francisco school board president Stevon Cook had convened a Reflections and Action Working Group, dominated by anti-mural people, to make recommendations to the board. Historians and other experts on New Deal art, such as the architectural historian Gray Brechin, were glaringly excluded from the panel, which on February 28 voted to recommend to the board that it paint over the mural. The lone dissenter in that poll was Lope Yap Jr., appointed because he represented the GWHS Alumni Association (as vice president). The Board of Education's June 25 "paint-white" vote followed the Reflections and Action's February 28 directive and steamrolled over Yap's conflicting opinion. San Francisco school board Vice President Mark Sanchez explained the decision: "This is reparations." 
    Since that June referendum, the controversy has devolved into a political circus. Infuriated by the manner in which the deliberations had played out, Yap became a leader in efforts to preserve the murals. The GWHS Alumni Association threatened to file a lawsuit against the board and to arrange for a ballot measure on the fate of the murals in November's city-wide election. Critics from both ends of the ideological spectrum ridiculed the board's decision.
    Opponents also included the African-American artist and associate professor at the San Francisco Art Institute Dewey Crumpler. After black students in 1967–1968 protested The Life of George Washington's depiction of slaves, the young Crumpler was recruited—and endorsed by the Black Panthers—to paint "response murals" for the school; his Multi-Ethnic Heritage: Black, Asian, Native/Latin American (1974) became an integral part of GWHS's extraordinary collection of leftist public art, inseparable, in Crumpler's opinion, from the message of Arnautoff's paintings. If Arnautoff, in the sardonic style of the 1930s left, showed students how "the march of the white race from the Atlantic to the Pacific" was part and parcel of the George Washington legacy, Crumpler's decidedly unironic vision—equally influenced by the Mexican muralists—paid tribute to the many peoples who struggled as a consequence. Through the passionate visual language of 1960s community art, his triptych, which deliberately complemented Arnautoff's, affirmed that African Americans, Asian Americans, Latin Americans, and Native Americans, too, were central to the nation-building story beginning with George Washington.
    Under fire, the board backtracked a bit. On August 13, it voted 4–3 for a second option—among two censorship alternatives entertained at the February 28 meeting—of covering the frescoes with permanent paneling. At an estimated cost of $825,000, this approach would ostensibly preserve the frescoes in a manner not possible with the paint-over measure. The solution, said Cook, would enable the board to get on with "real" school board business. 
    That decision placated nobody, including the #paintitdown activists. A recently-formed Coalition to Protect Public Art began pushing back, harnessing formidable media, legal, and political backing to pressure the school board to rescind its vote. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and the Pulitzer prize-winning author Alice Walker, whose daughter attended GWHS, along with Crumpler and the president of the NAACP's San Francisco chapter, Rev. Amos Brown, agreed that the Arnautoff's murals contained a critique of Manifest Destiny ideas and all pointed to the educational necessity of exposing students to disquieting historical material. They argued vociferously for keeping the murals visible, to engage students in critical thinking about the controversial issues they raise. The actor and GWHS alumnus Danny Glover equated the board's action with book burning. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, wrote to the board protesting its proposed action. Socialists raged at the decision during a panel discussion at Berkeley's Revolution Books, even as conservatives exploited the situation to discredit all manner of leftists. 
    The anti-censorship crusade moved beyond the Board of Education and into the mayor's office. San Francisco Mayor London Breed's representative on the Board of Education, Jenny Lam, a member of the "paint-over" coalition of June, and up for reelection in November 2019, shifted over to the "merely cover over" contingent in the August 2019 vote. Lam's move was an acknowledgment of her political vulnerability: a former tenants' rights lawyer and artist named Bobby Coleman, who is adamantly opposed to the frescoes' concealment, is challenging Lam for her board seat. He has been endorsed by Matt Gonzalez, chief attorney for the city's Public Defender's office. A former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and one of the city's most powerful Democrats, Gonzalez wrote an op-ed for the San Francisco Examiner defending the Arnautoff murals. By endorsing Coleman, he gave Lam a clear signal: that her vote on The Life of George Washington might well cost her her job (and, by inference, that the policies of the Breed administration were under new scrutiny). Whether any of this pressure will succeed in reversing the board's original cover-up verdict is still an open question, but the stakes in the political game have been raised. 
    What can be said is that these disputes have raised important and pressing questions about race, representation, pedagogy, power, knowledge, and the meaning of public art. Who decides what is legitimate civic art in 2020, especially when it's intended for minors? Should personal feelings take priority over historical and educational group interests? How should we weigh competing claims based on different periods' historical perspectives? When is it permissible or advisable to use censorship?
    The Arnautoff mural discord is paradigmatic of our divisive times. For the defenders of the murals, myself included, it embodies "cancel culture" writ large, to the point of caricature. In the case of public art, that iconoclastic impulse dictates removal of traditional forms whose subject matter or motivating intent fail to measure up to today's standards. But there are other, more productive ways of making sense of Arnautoff's pictures. Misunderstandings arise from the presupposition that older public art works must be celebrations of their subjects or be produced by approved people. The contention that the Arnautoff murals' depiction of African-American and Native-American subjects is demeaning and trauma-inducing and that this should be the main criterion for judging their worth have obscured other aspects of the artistic enterprise, including the Crumpler responses, that complicate and enrich their significance, and that offer a way around today's toxic divide. These meanings emerge through investigation of specific projects as processes, embedded in a historical continuum. Truly making sense of The Life of George Washington, for example, should involve analysis of the full patronage history of the murals, given both its New Deal heritage and its status as a municipal initiative, as well as of the paintings' subsequent reception, from 1936 through the late 1960s to this moment's political jockeying. 
    The significance of traditional murals and monuments lies not merely in their status as static objects and images, nor merely as paragons of virtue or villainy, but also as articulations of biography and urban social history. Public art is a dynamic political process that unfolds over time and involves specific people, groups, and circumstances. It is a nexus of interactions, negotiations, and powerplays, past and present. Today's Arnautoff mural dramas have taken on a life of their own, but they are part and parcel of the paintings' meaning as a material part of San Francisco's ongoing history. This more catholic perspective on civic art as process and municipal history can offer a constructive way to understand these projects and the controversies, and get beyond the destructive polarities of entrenched positions.
    Educators could engage students in a fruitful conversation about how these circumstances came about. They could explore together the contrast between the left political positions Arnautoff held and the racist views held by many of the period, and how this tension is inscribed in his art. Teachers might also work to help students learn to distinguish between reacting subjectively to art work and exploring dispassionately the complicated historical reasons for what it depicts. The murals provide rich opportunities for such discussion, but those lessons will be impossible if the paintings are invisible.

    2) G.M. Strike: 50,000 Union Workers Walk Out Over Wages and Idled Plants
    By Neal E. Boudette, September 15, 2019

    The United Automobile Workers union members organized a strike against General Motors in an effort to improve wages, reopen idled plants, add jobs and narrow the pay difference between new hires and veteran workers.Credit

    The United Automobile Workers union went on strike at General Motors, sending nearly 50,000 members at factories across the Midwest and South to picket lines on Monday morning.
    With the two sides far apart, U.A.W. regional leaders in Detroit voted unanimously on Sunday morning to authorize the strike, the union's first such walkout since 2007. It began at midnight, after the union's current bargaining agreement expired on Saturday.
    "Today, we stand strong and say with one voice, we are standing up for our members and for the fundamental rights of working-class people in this nation," said Terry Dittes, a union vice president.
    As the strike took hold, the union and the company resumed negotiations at 10 a.m. Monday.

    The U.A.W. is pushing G.M. to improve wages, reopen idled plants, add jobs at others and close or narrow the difference between pay rates for new hires and veteran workers. G.M. wants employees to pay a greater portion of their health care costs, and to increase work force productivity and flexibility in factories.

    Although the company has been earning substantial profits in North America — and it made $8.1 billion globally last year — it has idled three plants in the United States as car sales slide and overall demand for vehicles weakens.
    The strike is unfolding as President Trump's trade war with China wears on manufacturers and has stirred fears of a slowdown.
    It could disrupt local economies in factory towns in several swing states like Michigan and Ohio, where President Trump has promised to increase manufacturing jobs. But any impact on the broader economy will depend on how long it lasts.
    The auto industry, even if it is far from its employment heights in the 1970s, remains crucial to the economy, counting some 220,000people who work to manufacture cars. According to the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, the broader vehicle industry supports 9.9 million jobs and historically accounts for about 3 percent of gross domestic product.
    Even as the unionized share of the nation's work force continues to fall, down from a peak of one-third in the 1950s, labor has become more assertive in recent years.

    The number of people who participated in work stoppages involving over 1,000 workers rose last year to its highest level since the 1980s, buoyed by teacher walkouts and a multicity hotel workers strike.
    Polling data shows that the public has become increasingly supportive of organized labor. A Gallup poll in late August found that 64 percent of Americans approve of unions, up from below 50 percent a decade ago.
    Even so, some have been critical of the labor movement's ability to capitalize on these trends, and of the U.A.W.'s failures in particular. In June, the union narrowly lost a vote to organize a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee.
    And the talks between G.M. and the union have been shadowed by a federal corruption inquiry that has been looking into U.A.W. officials and at least two Fiat Chrysler company executives. The investigation has detailed the use of union funds for lavish travel and personal spending by senior U.A.W. officials, including the president, Gary Jones.
    In a statement, G.M. said it had offered to make more than $7 billion in new investments in plants in the United States, add 5,400 jobs and increase pay and benefits.
    "We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways, and it is disappointing that the U.A.W. leadership has chosen to strike at midnight tonight," the company said on Sunday. "We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency. Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business."
    It is a challenging time for the industry over all, with auto sales slowing in the United States, China and other major markets, and new technologies such as electric cars and self-driving vehicles requiring billions of dollars in investments.
    "Carmakers' profits today distract from two challenges," said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor who follows the auto industry. "The makers will be going into a down cycle of demand in their two most important markets and they will have to make the biggest technology investments in their history to change to electric propulsion."
    One of the union's aims is getting G.M. to reopen an idled car factory in Lordstown, Ohio, a goal that President Trump has endorsed. The plant had made the Chevrolet Cruze, a compact car whose sales plunged nearly 40 percent between 2015, when the previous labor contract was signed, and 2018. The factory ceased production in March.
    A person with knowledge of the talks said G.M. was reluctant to reopen the Lordstown plant, but it was willing to discuss building a new battery factory in that area of Ohio as it shifts to electric vehicles.
    G.M. has also expressed willingness to keep open a car plant in Detroit that had been targeted for closure, this person said.
    The strike will immediately halt production in the United States, and a prolonged stoppage could affect G.M.'s Canadian and Mexican operations, crimping its bottom line and the fortunes of thousands of its parts suppliers.

    G.M. operates 12 vehicle assembly factories in the United States and 22 parts plants. Workers at 12 parts distribution centers and two engineering locations are also represented by the U.A.W. Just under half of G.M.'s unionized locations are in Michigan. The rest are in six other states: Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and New York.
    The company has enough inventory on dealer lots to last 77 days at the current rate of sales, according to Cox Automotive.
    A long shutdown could prove painful for union members, who would have to get by on strike pay of $250 a week while out of work. Any hit to G.M.'s North American profits would also lower the annual profit-sharing checks union members receive each March. Those checks have averaged $11,000 over the last three years.
    "Workers will feel it immediately because if they move to strike pay, that's miserable," said Kristin Dziczek, vice president for industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
    The union may also be wary of depleting its strike fund. It is delaying talks with Ford and Fiat Chrysler while focusing on G.M., a standard practice in the every-four-year talks between the U.A.W. and the Detroit automakers.
    The auto industry has been transformed over the last 30 years as foreign automakers have built their own nonunion factories in the United States employing tens of thousands, and taken market share from Detroit's Big Three.
    The U.A.W. did not resort to nationwide strikes against G.M. when it negotiated contracts in 2011 and 2015. Its members — it had 73,000 at G.M. at the time — walked out of General Motors plantsfor three days in 2007 before a deal was reached, as a recession loomed. The company lost $23 million in 2007.

    G.M. has bounced back after its 2009 bankruptcy and government bailout and now employs 49,000 full-time and temporary U.A.W. members. G.M. has a smaller U.A.W. work force than its Detroit rivals because larger portions of the vehicles it makes in North America are assembled in Mexico and Canada.
    While the prospect of a strike has temporarily taken the spotlight off the union's legal troubles, the scandal has made members suspicious of the U.A.W. leadership, said Paul Wohlfarth, a retired U.A.W. member from Toledo who is still active in the union.
    "It seemed like a few bad apples at first, but it's not," he said. "It's a whole bushel."
    Since 2017, nine people have been charged in connection with a variety of schemes in which union money was allegedly used for extravagant personal spending. In one case, Fiat Chrysler's top labor executive bought a Ferrari sports car and renovated his home using funds earmarked for a training center run by the union and the automaker.
    Late last month, federal agents raided Mr. Jones's home in Canton, Mich.; a Hazelwood, Mo., regional office that Mr. Jones previously headed; the union's Black Lake retreat in Onaway, Mich.; and the Corona, Calif., home of Mr. Jones's predecessor, Dennis Williams.
    On Thursday, Vance Pearson, a senior union official who worked closely with Mr. Jones, was charged with embezzlement, money laundering, wire fraud, conspiracy and other offenses. The prosecutor's complaint said Mr. Pearson and other senior U.A.W. officials spent union funds on luxury villas in Palm Springs, Calif., golf clubs, clothing, expensive champagne, liquors and cigars.
    Mr. Pearson took part in union meetings and the strike vote on Sunday, a union spokesman confirmed.

    Noam Scheiber contributed reporting.

    Raja Shehadeh is a lawyer and the author of "Going Home, A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation."


    3) Don't Forget Our Frontline Caregivers in the Opioid Epidemic
    The demands of caring for addicts have stretched the resources of hospitals.
    By John Kasich and E. Gordon Gee, September 17, 2019
    An emergency room doctor consulting with a patient at an addiction clinic.

    America's opioid epidemic will go down in history alongside the Spanish flu, typhoid, polio and AIDS as one of our worst public health disasters. Between 1999 and 2017, almost 218,000 people in the United States died from overdoses connected to prescription opioids, and almost as many more died from overdoses connected to illicit opioids. Of the 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017, two-thirds of them were opioid-connected. Deaths continue at the rate of 130 a day.
    The impact on our health care system and our hospitals has been staggering. Since 2001, it is estimated that the opioid epidemic has imposed more than $216 billion in health costs, with more to come, as people continue to live with addiction and the lingering health effects of opioid abuse. This has directly affected our nation's hospitals, which provide billions of dollars of unreimbursed care.
    A generation ago, states responded to the public health costs of smoking with lawsuits, leading to a $246 billion settlement in 1998with tobacco companies. Today, state and local governments across America are seeking compensation in court from those at the heart of the opioid epidemic: the drug companies that made and marketed opioids and their distributors. 
    The manufacturers of prescription opioids are alleged to have grossly misrepresented the risks of long-term use of those drugs for people with chronic pain, and distributors allegedly failed to properly monitor suspicious orders of those prescription drugs. Many of these lawsuits have been bundled together into the National Prescription Opioid Litigation in federal court in Cleveland.

    In addition, hundreds of hospitals have filed lawsuits in state and federal courts seeking compensation for the many billions of dollars lost for uncompensated care and costs incurred as front-line providers. 
    With the federal trial set to begin next month, at least one major drug maker is proposing a settlement — wrapped in the protections of bankruptcy court — but those negotiations are likely to drag on.
    While the 1998 tobacco settlement is considered a landmark case in that corporations had to account for the impact their product had on society as a whole and public health care programs in particular, there was one missing component: Hospitals and front line providers were not part of the settlement. Those essential caregivers did not receive funds for the uncompensated care they had to provide as a result of tobacco use. 
    And in a more recent example of hospitals being overlooked: The federal government recently allocated $2 billion in emergency funds to states and municipalities to help fight the opioid crisis — yet hospitals will receive none of these federal funds.
    Hospital emergency rooms are often the first stop for patients with opioid use disorder (although it's rarely the last). The demands of caring for opioid-addicted patients — from newborns exposed to opioids in the womb to long-term addicts experiencing cardiac infections from IV drug use — have stretched the resources of hospitals. These patients often require intensive, expensive and long-term treatment.

    And very often, hospitals bear tremendous costs for this care because patients lack insurance or are unable to pay out-of-pocket expenses.
    We have a chance to do better if the opioids lawsuits are eventually settled and funds become available to the governments andhospitals. While the harm caused to state and local governments cannot be overlooked, no one will win unless the claims of our hospitals are given significant attention.
    Let's learn the lessons of the tobacco settlement and use opioid settlement funds to help those who have been at the tip of the spear in fighting the epidemic and are most needed to deal with its aftermath in the years ahead.


    4) New Mexico Announces Plan for Free College for State Residents
    Under the plan, tuition to all state colleges would be free for students regardless of family income.
    By Simon Romero and Dana Goldstein, September 18, 2019
    New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M. The state is unveiling a proposal to make in-state tuition free at its public colleges and universities.Credit


    ALBUQUERQUE — In one of the boldest state-led efforts to expand access to higher education, New Mexico is unveiling a plan on Wednesday to make tuition at its public colleges and universities free for all state residents, regardless of family income. 
    The move comes as many American families grapple with the rising cost of higher education and as discussions about free public college gain momentum in state legislatures and on the presidential debate stage. Nearly half of the states, including New York, Oregon and Tennessee, have guaranteed free two- or four-year public college to some students. But the New Mexico proposal goes further, promising four years of tuition even to students whose families can afford to pay the sticker price.
    The program, which is expected to be formally announced by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday and still requires legislative approval, would apply to all 29 of the state's two- and four-year public institutions. Long one of the poorest states in the country, New Mexico plans to use climbing revenues from oil production to pay for much of the costs.
    Some education experts, presidential candidates and policymakers consider universal free college to be a squandering of scarce public dollars, which might be better spent offering more support to the neediest students.

    But others say college costs have become too overwhelming and hail the many drives toward free tuition. 
    "I think we're at a watershed moment," said Caitlin Zaloom, a cultural anthropologist at New York University who has researched the impact of college costs on families. "It used to be that a high school degree could allow a young adult to enter into the middle class. We are no longer in that situation. We don't ask people to pay for fifth grade and we also should not ask people to pay for sophomore year." 
    By some measures, the tuition initiative will be the most ambitious in a growing national movement. College costs and student debt have emerged as major issues in the Democratic presidential primary, with two of the leading contenders for the nomination — Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — promising to make all public colleges and universities free. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has a more limited proposal to eliminate community college tuition. 
    So far, states, not the federal government, have led the way — sometimes out of a hope that a more educated work force would attract businesses and improve local economies. As of 2018, 17 states had programs promising free college to at least some students, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of those programs cover tuition only at two-year institutions.
    New York's Excelsior Scholarship, championed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and enacted in 2017, illustrates some of the challenges New Mexico will face. Excelsior promises free tuition at public two- and four-year colleges to families making up to $125,000, but requires that students have no gaps in their education — meaning no time away from the lecture hall to work or to care for children or aging relatives. And the scholarship money cannot be used on books, housing costs, child care or any of the other living expenses that can quickly pile up, and eventually cause many to drop out of school.

    "If you call it free and don't provide the supports for students once they get there, then you still don't set them up for success," said Wesley Whistle, a senior adviser on higher education at New America, a Washington think tank. 
    He said he favored plans such as the 21st Century Scholarship Program in Indiana, which covers the cost of public college tuition for students from low-income families, allowing them to spend their federal Pell grant funds on nontuition expenses.

    Like the New York program, the New Mexico plan would cover only tuition, not living expenses, and the funds would be available only after a student drew from existing state aid programs and from federal grants. 
    But the New Mexico proposal does go further than New York's Excelsior Scholarship in two regards: It is available to all students, regardless of family income, and it includes funds for adults looking to return to school at community colleges.
    "This program is an absolute game changer for New Mexico," Governor Lujan Grisham said in a statement. "In the long run, we'll see improved economic growth, improved outcomes for New Mexican workers and families and parents."
    Officials contend that New Mexico would benefit most from a universal approach to tuition assistance. The state's median household income is $46,744, compared with a national median of $60,336. Most college students in the state also come from relatively disadvantaged backgrounds; almost 65 percent of New Mexico undergraduates are among the nation's neediest students, according to the state's higher education department.

    The new program in New Mexico would be open to recent graduates of high schools or high school equivalency programs in the state, and students must maintain a 2.5 grade point average. In contrast to other states, like Georgia, that have curbed access to public colleges by unauthorized immigrants, New Mexico would open the tuition program to all residents, regardless of immigration status.
    Carmen Lopez-Wilson, the deputy secretary of New Mexico's Higher Education Department, said the program would benefit about 55,000 students a year at an annual cost of $25 million to $35 million. She added that the state was trying to bolster its higher education system, which endured spending cuts of more than 30 percent per student from 2008 to 2018.
    "We're giving money directly to students," Ms. Lopez-Wilson said. "This is the best way to begin rebuilding the infrastructure of higher education in New Mexico."
    Ms. Lopez-Wilson said the relatively low cost of the program reflected low tuition costs in the state, with many students already receiving forms of assistance. Other states that have less extensive tuition assistance proposals are spending far more.
    A year of tuition at the state's flagship campus, the University of New Mexico, costs $7,556 for state residents. At the state's largest community college, Central New Mexico Community College, tuition costs are generally less than $3,000 per year.
    New Mexico already has some of the lowest debt rates for graduates of four-year colleges. In the class of 2017, they owed $21,237 on average, compared with a national average of $28,650, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.
    The program will rely on approval and appropriations from the State Legislature if it is to commence as expected in 2020.

    "This will take some high-quality politicking from the governor and others to make it happen," said Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for Governor Lujan Grisham, a Democrat. 
    But both chambers in New Mexico are controlled by Democrats, and while fiscal conservatives still have considerable sway in the state, legislators have already shown willingness recently to increase spending on public education. State and federal spending on early childhood programs, including prekindergarten, is climbing to $546 million this year in New Mexico, a $135 million increase from the previous year.
    In a departure from the belt-tightening after the 2008 financial crisis, New Mexico also gave raises to public-school teachers and the faculty and staff of the University of New Mexico this year.
    The free-tuition plan points to the shifting political landscape in New Mexico, traditionally a swing state that was up for grabs by both major parties. It is now emerging as a bastion of Democratic power in the West, standing in contrast to other large oil-producing states controlled by Republicans. At the same time, an oil boom in the Permian Basin shared by New Mexico and Texas is lifting the state's revenues.
    In some ways, the burst of interest in free public college is a return to the nation's educational past. As recently as the 1970s, some public university systems remained largely tuition-free. 
    As a bigger and more diverse group of undergraduates entered college in recent decades, costs rose, and policymakers began to promote the idea of a degree as less of a public benefit than a private asset akin to a mortgage, according to Professor Zaloom, of N.Y.U. Many states raised tuition, and students became more reliant on grants and loans.
    "We should be looking at the examples from our own history," Professor Zaloom said. Free college educations from the University of California, the City University of New York and other public systems, she added, have been "some of the most successful engines of mobility in this country."



    5) With Harrowing Ads, Gun Safety Groups Push a Scarier Reality
    By Tiffany Hsu, September 18, 2019
    The gun safety group Sandy Hook Promise is releasing an ad on Wednesday that begins like a cheerful back-to-school commercial but then turns much darker.CreditCreditSandy Hook Promise

    Going back to school means worrying about what to wear, deciding what classes to take and, increasingly, knowing what to do if someone appears on campus with a gun.
    This reality in American classrooms is reflected in a harrowing ad being released on Wednesday from Sandy Hook Promise, a gun safety advocacy group created after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.
    The spot, which will debut during the "Today" show, starts as cheerfully as any other back-to-school commercial, with a boy at his locker praising his new backpack.

    Then, the testimonials darken. "These new sneakers are just what I needed for the new year," one boy says as he sprints away from the sounds of screams and gunshots. "These new socks, they can be a real lifesaver," a girl says, peeling off her knee-high hosiery to use as a tourniquet on another student's bloody leg.

    In the final scene, a girl huddles in a bathroom stall and types out a loving text to her mother on a glittery pink phone. Tears stream down her face.
    "I finally got my own phone to stay in touch with my mom," she says, closing her eyes at the sound of a door opening and footsteps approaching.
    "Gun violence and school shootings are not easy subjects, and they shouldn't be fun to watch," said Nicole Hockley, a former marketing consultant who co-founded Sandy Hook Promise after her 6-year-old son, Dylan, died in the Newtown shooting. "The more we step away from reality, the less respect we're giving to those who have to live through this."
    Since the Sandy Hook shooting, more than 400 people have been shot on campuses around the country. For many students, the excitement of returning to school is increasingly mixed with the anxiety of active shooter drills and shelter-in-place tutorials.

    In response, gun safety activists are escalating their efforts. They're investing more in ads, promoting them more aggressively and making them far more provocative and uncomfortable to view.
    Guns have long been at the center of a divisive national conversation about public safety, personal freedom, partisan policymaking and corporate action. In August alone, 53 people died in mass shootings, including shoppers at a Walmart in El Paso and revelers in an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio.
    This month, Walmart said it would stop selling certain kinds of ammunition, discourage customers from openly carrying guns in its stores and encourage debate around gun reform legislation. Last week, the heads of nearly 150 companies, including Twitter and Uber, sent a letter to Senate leaders calling for stronger background checks on firearms sales and "red flag" laws.
    In a blog post last month, the online firearms retailer K-Var wrote that it had been notified that NASCAR was shifting its position on guns and had demanded that ads featuring firearms be changed before they would be included in its official racing programs. The racing organization did not respond to a request for comment.
    The gun industry is known for its savvy marketing strategies. It has courted women and children with firearm accessories and cartoons. The National Rifle Association, before a public breakupwith its advertising firm, ran an influential online media arm called NRATV.
    In the 20 days after the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the N.R.A. doubled its spending on digital ads compared with the same period before the attacks, to more than $21,000 a day from $10,000, according to Pathmatics, which analyzes digital advertising data. On one day, the trade group spent more than $38,000.
    But the groups opposing the gun lobby have begun to ramp up their marketing activity, too. Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization funded in part by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, recently pledged to spend at least $2.5 million supporting gun control policies in Virginia before the election next year.

    Last month, as part of a $350,000 campaign, the group released television ads pressuring four Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida, to support background check legislation.
    Giffords, the gun control organization founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, announced last month an ad campaign of nearly $750,000 that also focused on background checks.
    Gun safety ads are being produced by top advertising agencies and promoted on popular platforms. Since 2014, Sandy Hook Promise has worked with the 128-year-old firm BBDO on several commercials, most of which have been directed by Henry-Alex Rubin, who was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary in 2006.
    The new Sandy Hook Promise ad will also be available online, and the group's leaders said they had been told that several presidential candidates would share it on social media. They also said that they received $2 million in donated media placements from CNN, AMC, Condé Nast, iHeartRadio and more.
    In the past, the advertising industry has been cautious about addressing politically sensitive topics, said Michael E. Kassan, the founder and chief executive of the media consulting company MediaLink. But he said that marketing companies now sensed that a significant portion of the American public had tired of bracing for the next mass shooting.
    "There's more willingness from agencies to be involved in conversations about gun safety," he said. "Consumers have spoken in a loud voice, that they're mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore."
    In Manhattan this summer, the gun safety group Brady teamed up with the artist WhIsBe to open a parody pop-up store called Back to School Shopping, which sold child-size bulletproof vests and lunchboxes packed with pepper spray and first-aid kits. Brady also worked last year with the Ad Council and the Droga5 agency on an ad campaign about children hurt or killed at home by improperly stored guns.

    March for Our Lives, an advocacy group formed after a gunman killed 17 people last year at a high school in Parkland, Fla., linked up with the advertising agency McCann New York and won a top award at the Cannes Lions festival this year. Their ad, "Generation Lockdown," showed office workers being taught about active shooter incidents by a young girl, who trains them not to cry because "it gives away your position."
    "We're competing with the news cycle, where there's a mass shooting every other week," said Alex Little, a creative director at McCann who worked on the ad. "If your message isn't as impactful, you're never going to cut through."
    Last year, an ad from Sandy Hook Promise filmed from a school shooter's point of view was nominated for an Emmy. (It lost to Nike's "Dream Crazy" ad featuring Colin Kaepernick.)
    The new Sandy Hook Promise ad is the first of the group's commercials to portray blood. But Greg Hahn, the chief creative officer at BBDO New York, said that the spot, while stark, tries to avoid the polarizing debate on gun policy.
    "We're trying to unite people in the common good of saving kids' lives, as opposed to saying we should ban guns," he said. "It's not about picking a side and defending it."


    6) New Video Surfaces Showing Trudeau in Blackface, Compounding Scandal
    By Dan Bilefsky and Ian Austen, September 19, 2019

    A yearbook photo of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wearing “brownface” makeup at a 2001 costume party.

    Revelations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada has dressed up in brownface and blackface on multiple occasions have rocked his re-election campaign, reinforcing a narrative that has dogged him throughout his political career: that he isn’t really who he portrays himself to be.
    Mr. Trudeau has long cast himself as a glittering spokesman for the world’s beleaguered liberals, standing up to President Trump, supporting gender and Indigenous rights, welcoming immigrants, and fighting climate change and racism.
    But that carefully calibrated image suffered a major blow this week when photos and a video emerged of the prime minister dressing up as racist caricatures in the early 1990s and in 2001.
    One showed him at an “Arabian Nights” party, dressed up as Aladdin in brownface makeup and a turban, his arms wrapped around a woman. The picture was taken while Mr. Trudeau was 29 and teaching at a school in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    While apologizing for that image at an appearance on Wednesday night, Mr. Trudeau also admitted to dressing up in blackface while performing “Day-O,” the Jamaican folk song, in high school.
    Then, on Thursday morning, more damaging material surfaced. Mr. Trudeau’s campaign spokeswoman, Zita Astravas, confirmed that a video posted by GlobalNews, a Canada-based news organization, showed the prime minister in the early 1990s dressed in blackface and an Afro wig. In the video, he is waving his hands around and sticking out his tongue.
    And the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation posted another photo from the 2001 “Arabian Nights” party. In it, Mr. Trudeau, again in brownface and wearing a turban, has his arms around two Sikh men.
    The disclosure of these episodes come only a few months after accusations surfaced that Mr. Trudeau had bullied his former justice minister and attorney general, an Indigenous woman, while pressing her to settle corruption charges against a major Quebec engineering company. When she didn’t comply, she accused him of demoting her.
    “Justin Trudeau has carefully crafted an image of what Canadians aspire to: hope, openness to the world and youth,” said Jean-Marc Léger, chief executive of Léger, a leading polling company in Montreal. “The blackface episode shatters that perfect image and casts questions on his authenticity.”

    Nevertheless, he said, Canadians were a “forgiving people” and predicted that Mr. Trudeau, who on Wednesday night apologized repeatedly for behavior that had taken place nearly two decades ago, could still recover.

    On Wednesday night Mr. Trudeau said he was “deeply sorry” about the episode, which he said was “something I shouldn’t have done many years ago.”
    He added, “It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do.”
    Nik Nanos, the founder of Nanos Research, an Ottawa polling firm, said that finding a way back, while not impossible, will be very difficult for Mr. Trudeau and his Liberal Party.
    “This is about as bad news as you can get in a campaign,” he said. “The Liberals have to find a way to change the channel.”
    Mr. Nanos runs nightly polls and said that recently — even before this incident — he found that the support for Mr. Trudeau’s principal opponent the Conservatives and their leader, Andrew Scheer, started inching upward after that party began running attack ads suggesting that the prime minister was “not as advertised.”

    “The Justin Trudeau revelation is a validation of the Conservative attack,” Mr. Nanos said.
    ”Right now the election is about Justin Trudeau,” Mr. Nanos added. “And in my experience, the person an election is about loses.”
    In many ways Mr. Trudeau has a strong hand as the Oct. 21 national election approaches. Canada’s economy is vibrant, with unemployment at historic lows. His move to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees was widely acclaimed and his government introduced several pioneering policies including legalizing recreational marijuana and assisted dying.
    His cabinet, made up half of women and including four Sikhs and a Somali-born immigration minister, has also come to embody a country that prides itself on its multiculturalism and inclusiveness.
    But he has been taken to task for seeming inconsistent with his image. Even as he proposed a national carbon tax, for example, following through on his promises to fight climate change, he used $4.5 billion in government money to buy an oil pipeline.
    Others complain that he is an Instagram prime minister, too fixated on image and optics at the expense of implementing policy.
    “Everything the prime minister does is a calculation about his image,” said Nicola Di Iorio, who recently stepped down as a Liberal member of parliament of a multicultural district in Montreal. “There are too many gimmicks.”
    The disclosure of the blackface and brownface photos amplifies his image disconnect. He may have one of the most diverse cabinets in the world but the photos call into question whether he is all surface.


    7) In New York, the Far Left Is Targeting a Close Ally
    Activists are trying to influence labor unions in New York City. Their efforts are being met with allegations of spying, subterfuge and “red-baiting.”
    By Vivian Wang, September 19, 2019



    A group of far-left activists huddled in the basement of a labor union in Manhattan, aiming to upend a Democratic institution that they felt had grown stale.
    The potential target was not an entrenched politician, or the local county party. It was a much closer ally: labor unions, including the one that was hosting the activists’ meeting earlier this year.
    The plan did not go over well. The union, a branch of the Communications Workers of America, kicked the activists out. Labor leaders accused the activists of plotting infiltration. The activists, in turn, recently warned of union spies.

    The dispute makes clear the growing ambition of New York’s activist left, which over the past year has notched a string of high-profile successes, from propelling Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s election to scuttling Amazon’s plans to build headquarters in New York City.

    On the national stage, progressive forces are trying to push the Democratic agenda to the left, and challenge how party leadersrespond to President Trump.
    Emboldened by their successes, they are now preparing to take additional steps toward political and economic transformation — including by challenging groups that have long been in the populist vanguard of the Democratic Party.
    The unions, in turn, have been forced to reckon with the shifting political landscape, and to decide what position they want to occupy within it.
    While unions in New York and nationwide have often championed progressive policies, some have also opposed marquee issues for the left, including the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. No union endorsed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez in her insurgent congressional campaign last year.
    Even as grass-roots labor activism has swelled in new sectors— including among video game makers and Uber drivers — established unions have often kept their distance because of funding shortages or reluctance to engage with workers outside of their formal membership.

    At its heart, the debate is one between pragmatism and idealism, working within the system versus burning it down. 
    It is the same debate dogging the Democratic Party at large, but amplified by an only-in-New-York mix of vibrant activism, impenetrably blue politics and — unlike in the rest of the country — still-mighty unions eager to quell perceived threats to their clout.
    “Given the political moment we find ourselves in, the idea that a leftist political organization would launch disruptive attacks on their ostensible allies in the labor movement is the definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face,” said Peter Ward, the president of the Hotel Trades Council, a union of hotel workers. 
    Activists countered that the labor movement had fallen out of step. Jeremy Saunders, the co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, a progressive activism group, said many union leaders seemed dismissive of the energy on the left.
    “This growing left sees labor as its natural allies,” he said, “but is frustrated by some unions who too often side with those same politics and politicians who refuse to fight for justice.”
    The current dispute involves the New York City branch of the Democratic Socialists of America and the plan it crafted at that basement meeting. The socialists, deeming the city’s unions overly reliant on insider relationships, prepared a “rank-and-file strategy” for their members to join unions and remake them from within.
    The group also later published a blog post encouraging other chapters nationwide to follow suit.
    Some backlash was immediate. But it exploded recently, after the group’s 37-page memo about its plan was reported by Politico, leading union leaders to accuse D.S.A. of sowing division.

    In response, D.S.A. members — including State Senator Julia Salazar, the first member of the group to serve in the Legislature — said the union leaders were “red-baiting.”

    Tensions escalated when D.S.A. issued a statement accusing the Hotel Trades Council of sending members to spy on D.S.A. meetings in order to “thwart H.T.C. members’ self-organization and full exercise of their democratic union rights.” (The union denied spying; D.S.A. meetings are public.) 
    In interviews, activists — both involved with D.S.A. and not — said the unions’ reactions affirmed their critique.
    Bianca Cunningham, a leader of the New York City D.S.A., said unions’ entanglement in political relationships “prohibits them from being able to take real chances.” 
    “We’re not surprised that conservative unions come out and say they don’t support this kind of strategy,” she said, “because they see it as a threat to their own power.”
    To be sure, the labor movement is large and diverse. Some unions have aggressively backed progressive priorities. Activists and organized labor in New York have successfully pushed together for a $15 minimum wage and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. D.S.A. still borrows meeting space from some unions.

    Attempts to remake the unions are also not limited to outside activists: Internal factions within several unions have publicly challenged leadership.
    CreditHiroko Masuike/The New York Times

    Still, even avowedly left-leaning labor leaders bristled at what they perceived as the activists’ naïveté or arrogance. 
    John Samuelsen, the international president of the Transport Workers Union, said activists were “welcome to join the fight,” adding that he endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for president in 2016. But he emphasized the historical power of unions, pointing to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s leftward tilt in recent years. 
    “It wasn’t the D.S.A. that did that. The D.S.A. is incapable of doing that,” Mr. Samuelsen said. “It’s the institution of organized labor in New York that drove Cuomo to the left.”
    Michael Mulgrew, the head of the city’s teacher union, said the activists’ disillusionment was misplaced. 

    “Our track record on being progressive is pretty solid to say the least,” he said, adding, “You don’t need to push us. We’re pretty far out there in terms of how we’re trying to change society in terms of the betterment of all.”

    Even Ms. Salazar said she understood the unions’ defensiveness: “There’s a little bit of, ‘We’ve been doing this for a long time. You just got here.’”
    The skirmish in many ways encapsulates the challenges left-wing activists face as they strive to take their message mainstream.
    They have struggled to shed the label of interloper: Many activists only turned to politics after the 2016 presidential election. D.S.A. in particular has seen membership skyrocket, from 5,000 in 2016 to more than 50,000.
    The activists have also often been painted as white and well-off — a fact even D.S.A. acknowledged in its memo, writing, “D.S.A. has described itself as committed to maintaining an active and diverse membership but is primarily composed of middle-class white people.”
    Mr. Ward, of the hotel union, seemed to allude to that when he said that his union was “made up mostly of women, immigrants and people of color,” who would meet D.S.A. with “very aggressive and overwhelming pushback” if the activists did not share their goals.
    But the rift also underscores how influential the newcomers are becoming.
    Grass-roots activist groups have shown that they can run formidable get-out-the-vote operations, akin to those that make unions such appealing political allies. D.S.A. volunteers played a key role in Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory, as well as in the candidacy of Tiffany Cabán, a former public defender who last month lost her bid for Queens district attorney by just 55 votes, despite earning just one labor backer. 
    Labor leaders will need to adapt, said Shaun Richman, the program director at SUNY Empire State College’s center for labor studies. He said he expected to see unions taking more political risks and endorsing more challengers.

    “I think there’s a feeling among labor leaders that they want to be seen as, ‘They will take out a lackluster incumbent when the opportunity arises,’” Mr. Richman said. “That’s the pathway to maintaining some power and influence within the modern Democratic Party.”
    The activists, for their part, said they wanted to strengthen, not undermine, their alliance with organized labor.
    “There have been clear and obvious moments when we have been on different sides,” Cea Weaver, a member of the New York City D.S.A. steering committee, said. 
    But, she continued, “Labor has to be part of a winning strategy for the left. So the question is, what will it take?”


    8) Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Trial Ends With Acquittals of 3 Executives
    By Ben Dooley, Eimi Yamaitsu and Makiko Inoue, September 19, 2019



    TOKYO — A Japanese court on Thursday acquitted three former Tokyo Electric Power Company executives who had been accused of criminal negligence for their roles in the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
    The verdict makes it likely that no one will be held criminally responsible for one of the worst nuclear accidents in history — a catastrophe that led to a global backlash against nuclear power and created environmental damage that will haunt Japan for generations to come.
    Although the ruling has likely cleared the company, known as Tepco, of criminal liability for the incident, it still faces civil litigation and the burden of mitigating the ongoing harm caused by the meltdown of three reactors at the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima after a huge earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

    The three executives — Tsunehisa Katsumata, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro — were the only people charged over the handling of the disaster, which forced more than 160,000 people in northeastern Japan to evacuate their homes to escape nuclear fallout that left areas surrounding the plant uninhabitable.

    Thousands were killed by the quake and the tsunami. But another 44 people died in the chaos surrounding the evacuation of the area around the nuclear plant, the prosecution said. They attributed the deaths to negligence on the part of the executives, who they said had failed to properly plan for the possibility of a nuclear accident in spite of prior warnings. None of the deaths were attributed to radiation-related illnesses.
    The three executives argued that they could not have anticipated the damage caused by the unprecedented disaster, and the court appeared to agree on Thursday.
    “It would be impossible to operate a nuclear plant if operators are obliged to predict every possibility about a tsunami and take necessary measures,” said the presiding judge, Kenichi Nagafuchi, according to Kyodo News.

    Mr. Katsumata was chairman of Tepco when the accident occurred. Mr. Muto and Mr. Takekuro formerly ran the utility’s nuclear division.

    Joji Hara, a spokesman for the company, declined to comment on the verdict, but he said the company expressed its “sincere apologies for the great inconvenience and concern that the Tepco Fukushima nuclear accident has caused on the people of Fukushima Prefecture and society as a whole.”
    The company “will continue to wholeheartedly devote every effort to nuclear damage compensation, decommissioning and decontamination, while also implementing measures to enhance the safety of our nuclear power stations with unwavering determination,” he said.
    At trial, the prosecution said that, three years before the accident, the executives had been presented with warnings that the plant could be hit by a tsunami as high as 15.7 meters (around 52 feet). Had they listened, the prosecution said, they would have been able to take steps to prevent the disaster, in which waves more than 30 feet high, caused by a magnitude 9 earthquake, overwhelmed the plant’s protective sea wall.
    But the defense argued that expert opinion on the issue had been split, that the reports had been unreliable and that the men could not have realistically anticipated that the plant would be struck by such a giant wave.

    Yuichi Kaido, one of the leaders of a group of lawyers opposed to nuclear power, said Thursday that Tepco had been aware of the danger of a megatsunami since 2008 and had not acted. “They themselves had done the calculations and hid them for three years,” he said.
    “The only way to see this is the court has issued an unfair verdict,” Mr. Kaido said.
    Prosecutors had twice declined to bring charges against the executives — once in 2013 and again in 2015 — arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support accusations of criminal wrongdoing.

    But former area residents and antinuclear campaigners worked together to appeal the decisions, leveraging an area of Japanese law that allows panels of private citizens to review prosecutors’ decisions and order them reversed.
    The panels, which consist of 11 randomly selected civilians, were put into place after World War II to put a check on the authority of the country’s prosecutors, who have broad discretion in deciding whether or not to bring a case to trial.
    After two such civilian committees determined that the Tepco executives should stand trial, the case was automatically handed over to a court for trial, where court appointed attorneys stood in for government prosecutors.
    Conviction rates in Japan are close to 100 percent. But the circumstances surrounding the Tepco indictment are unusual.
    Before Thursday’s verdict, citizen panels had overturned prosecutors’ decisions only about eight times, said Hiroshi Otsuka, a law professor at Meiji University. Just two of those indictments resulted in a guilty verdict.
    “They’re cases where prosecutors have given up on bringing charges, so in a way it’s natural that a large number of them end in acquittals,” Mr. Otsuka said.
    The ruling Thursday follows at least 30 lawsuits against Tepco and the Japanese government over their failure to prepare for an emergency on the scale of the 2011 disaster. In February, a civil court in Yokohama ruled that Tepco had been negligent, awarding 4.2 billion yen (about $39 million) in damages to 152 evacuees from the area around the nuclear plant. It was the eighth judgment in a civil court against Tepco, which has so far lost every action brought against it over the meltdown.

    The accident at the Daiichi plant was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. It effectively ended the use of nuclear power in Japan and created a worldwide backlash against the energy source.
    In the immediate aftermath of the accident, Japan shut down all of its nuclear reactors. As of this month, only a handful of its dozens of reactors have been put back online.
    Tepco has pledged to decommission the Daiichi plant and return the surrounding area to its original state, but it has struggled to cope with the consequences of the disaster — including how to handle massive amounts of irradiated waste — which will be felt for generations.
    The company has said that by 2022, it will run out of space to store contaminated water that has been used to cool melted fuel at three of the plant’s reactors. As of August 2019, almost 1.2 million cubic meters of processed water were stored in 977 tanks on the facility’s grounds.
    Japanese government officials have discussed the possibility of dumping the excess water into the ocean, arguing that the dilution effect would render it harmless. But the idea has met with strong objections from environmentalists and the local fishing industry.


    9) Sterilized Workers Seek to Collect Damages Against Dow Chemical in France
    By Liz Alderman, September 19, 2019



    PARIS — Decades ago, banana plantations around Central America sprayed a powerful pesticide with a terrible side-effect: It sterilized workers on a massive scale. Thousands of victims have sought compensation ever since from the chemical companies that produced it.
    Now, some survivors and their families are suing three big chemical makers in France to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid damages awarded to them by courts in Nicaragua, where many of the poisonings of banana workers occurred. If successful, the case could set a new legal precedent and lead to more lawsuits being filed in France for harm done in other countries by the pesticide Nemagon.
    In the mid-2000s, Nicaraguan courts ordered a total of $805 million in damages to be paid to hundreds of victims by Dow Chemical, Shell Oil Company and Occidental Chemical Corporation, which has since become OxyChem. The companies refused to pay, saying that the courts lacked jurisdiction and had denied them fair trials.

    The case now has a new life half a world away in Europe, where the companies have significant assets and 1,245 former workers and relatives are looking to collect the money. While French courts have been open to hearing cases linked to human rights abuses that have occurred elsewhere, this is the first with such a large monetary award at stake. On Tuesday, a French court delivered documents to Dow France SAS provisionally freezing shares worth 99 million euros, or about $110 million, pending a trial scheduled for January at the Paris Trial Court.

    Dow Chemical, in a statement, disputed that the freezing took place, claiming that the United States-based parent company did not own any capital in Dow France, which is held by other Dow European entities.
    The action is a precautionary measure to prevent Dow from moving assets out of France until the trial, said François-Henri Briard, a French lawyer who is part of an international legal team representing the former workers and relatives. A French judge will determine whether court opinions issued in other countries — in this case, Nicaragua — can be enforced in France and in the European Union.
    If the plaintiffs prevail, they would seek to collect part of the $805 million from the Nicaraguan judgments from Dow in France and move to freeze and sell assets owned by Dow, Shell and Occidental in other European countries where they operate. They would cite a European Union rule that allows a court order issued in a member state to be enforced in any of the bloc’s 28 countries.
    “We live in a globalized world where it’s easy for multinational companies to hide assets so as not to allow justice and court orders to be enforced,” said Mr. Briard. “This is what the U.S. companies did in Nicaragua: they poisoned people, they were sentenced by the courts and they left without paying anything,” he said. In such a world, he added, victims should also be allowed to cross borders to enforce payment.
    Dow, in its statement, said that the Nicaraguan courts did not give it and other defendants a fair trial. “Courts confronted with these Nicaraguan judgments have unanimously held them to be unenforceable,” it said. “We are confident that French courts will conclude the same.”

    The case caps decades of high-stakes legal maneuvering and litigation that has bounced back and forth between the United States, where the companies are based, and countries in Central America and beyond where the chemicals were used.
    The chemical dibromochloropropane, or DBCP, an active ingredient in Nemagon, was banned in most of the United States in 1977 after it was found to have caused sterility among thousands of male workers who were exposed to it at Dow, Shell and Occidental plants across America. Food growers based in the United States continued to use Nemagon through the early 1980s at banana and pineapple plantations in countries with lower environmental standards, according to lawsuits filed in Nicaragua and elsewhere.
    “It’s a sperm-killer,” said Stuart H. Smith, a New Orleans-based environmental lawyer who is part of the plaintiffs’ legal team. “Thousands of individuals were knowingly put into the zone of risk of these pesticides after it was banned,” he said, adding that the sterilizations prevented them from having “a normal life with a family and children.”
    wave of lawsuits by Nicaraguan plantation workers followed in the United States in the 1990s. Dow and Shell — along with growers Dole Fruit, Del Monte Fruit and Chiquita Brands — blocked the suits on the grounds that the United States was not the place to try them, because the alleged damage happened in Central America.
    Nicaragua passed a law for DBCP victims that required corporate defendants to put up a bond of $100,000 per case, triggering hundreds of lawsuits there in the mid-2000s. When Nicaraguan courts awarded hundreds of millions in compensation to victims, Dow, Shell and Dole declared that the courts lacked jurisdictionand refused to pay.
    In particular, Shell said the courts lacked jurisdiction because its headquarters was in the United States, and that it had no employees in the country. Dow said the Nicaraguan law for DBCP victims denied it due process, and Dole said the court had never obtained jurisdiction over it.

    Efforts to enforce Nicaragua court judgments in the United States failed. A Florida court denied recognition of a $97 million judgment against Dow and Dole in 2009, saying the Nicaraguan proceedings were biased against the companies.

    A California judge in 2009 also threw out separate lawsuits brought in the United States against Dow and Dole after ruling that the plaintiffs and their lawyers used fraudulent tactics, including faked sterility results and plaintiffs who never worked on banana plantations.
    Those cases recall another widely publicized litigation over oil-related pollution in Ecuador. In 2014, a federal judge in Manhattan threw out a $19 billion verdict against Chevron after finding that a lawyer submitted false evidence. The judge did not dispute that pollution occurred in the Ecuadorean Amazon.
    Mr. Smith said the plaintiffs seeking enforcement in France were damaged by the chemicals and that their cases had been upheld by the Nicaraguan Supreme Court.
    French judges will consider whether the Nicaraguan judges who ruled on the cases were competent and if any fraud or violation of due process was involved in determining whether to seek enforcement of the $805 million in payouts in France.
    Mr. Smith said the case constituted a “multibillion-dollar liability” that had not been disclosed to Dow Chemical’s stockholders or the Securities and Exchange Commission. Dow said in its statement that it is in compliance with all laws and regulations regarding its reporting requirements.
    The chemical and banana companies have long argued that they have no further responsibility after settling claims decades ago. All except Dole settled in 1997 with 26,000 former banana workers in Central America, Africa and the Philippines for $41 million. Dole agreed in 2014 to compensate more than 1,700 former banana workers from Nicaragua for an undisclosed amount.
    The workers and families suing in France were not part of those agreements, and Mr. Briard said that they are ultimately hoping to reach their own settlement.


    10) What Should Young Children Drink? Mostly Milk and Water, Scientists Say
    Infants and toddlers should not be given soda, chocolate milk or other sweetened drinks, according to strict new guidelines.
    By Ron 
    By Ron 
    By Ron Caryn Rabin, September 18, 2019


    A panel of scientists issued new nutritional guidelines for children on Wednesday, describing in detail what they should be allowed to drink in the first years of life. The recommendations, among the most comprehensive and restrictive to date, may startle some parents. 
    Babies should receive only breast milk or formula, the panel said. Water may be added to the diet at 6 months; infants receiving formula may be switched to cow’s milk at 12 months. For the first five years, children should drink mostly milk and water, according to the guidelines.
    Children aged 5 and under should not be given any drink with sugar or other sweeteners, including low-calorie or artificially sweetened beverages, chocolate milk or other flavored milk, caffeinated drinks and toddler formulas. 

    Plant-based beverages, like almond, rice or oat milk, also should be avoided. (Soy milk is the preferred alternative for parents who want an alternative to cow’s milk.)

    In what may come as a shock to parents with pantries full of juice boxes, the panel also said that young children should drink less than a cup of 100 percent juice per day — and that none at all is a better choice.
    The new guidelines were produced by Healthy Eating Research, a nutrition advocacy group, and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The recommendations are likely to be influential, as they were developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. 
    The cautions against sweetened beverages arrive amid persistent concerns about childhood obesity, which can set the stage for lifelong chronic illness. About 19 percent of children in the United States are obese. 
    “Close to half of all 2- to 5-year-olds in the U.S. drink sugary drinks every day, which we know increases their risk of obesity, diabetes and other health problems,” said Megan Lott, deputy director of Healthy Eating Research.
    “These recommendations simplify everything for parents — water, milk and limited amounts of 100 percent fruit juice,” she added.

    Children do not need juice and are better off eating fruit, the panel said. Excessive juice consumption can lead to dental decay and weight gain, and is linked to overall poor nutrition.
    “When we talk about empty calories that are consumed through beverages and the number of calories people get from sugar-sweetened drinks, we’re not just talking about soda,” said Dr. Richard Besser, president and chief executive of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Juice is another source of calories that nutritionally aren’t terrific.”
    Recommendations to limit juice are not new: The pediatrics academy has long advised that babies not be given juice till they are a year old, and that the amount of juice be limited to four ounces per day for children between the ages of 1 and 3. 
    Plant-based milk beverages like almond, oat and rice milk often contain added sweeteners or artificial flavorings, and are less nutritious than cow’s milk, a glass of which contains eight grams of protein along with nutrients such as calcium. 
    With the exception of soy milk, plant-based milks are poor in protein. Though they are often fortified, scientists do not know whether people are able to absorb these nutrients as efficiently as those naturally present in other foods.
    Formulas marketed for toddlers are usually unnecessary, since most toddlers eat solid food; the products tend to be expensive and often contain added sugars, Ms. Lott said. 
    There is no rigorous data from studies of children about the safety of artificially sweetened drinks and other low-calorie sweetened beverages, she said, and the products can condition a child to prefer sweet drinks generally.

    A spokesman for the American Beverage Association, William M. Dermody Jr., said beverage companies agree that “it’s important for families to moderate sugar consumption to ensure a balanced, healthy lifestyle, and this is especially true for young children." 
    A spokesman for the Juice Products Association, however, said that for children with limited access to fresh produce, juice can help improve fruit intake. Federal dietary guidelines recognize three-quarters of a cup of 100 percent juice as equivalent to three-quarters of a cup of fruit.
    But many products that appear to contain natural juice may actually contain only a small amount of real juice, experts cautioned, saying parents must read labels carefully.
    Children develop preferences for foods and beverages at a young age, and the recommendations are made with an eye to shaping a healthy palate. 
    About a third of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese, conditions that increase the risk of developing chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
    “The hope is that through this approach, you’ll help your child develop a taste for what’s good for them,” Dr. Besser said. Though the occasional glass of 100 percent juice is not going to be harmful, “what you want your children as they grow older to be drinking primarily is water.”
    The new recommendations are broken down by age group:
    Birth to six months: Infants should drink only breast milk or infant formula. They should not drink juice, milk, flavored milk, so-called transition or weaning formulas (also called toddler milks, growing-up milks or follow-up formula), low-calorie sweetened beverages (diet or “light” drinks, or those sweetened with Stevia or Sucralose).

    These children also should not receive plant-based and nondairy “milks,” caffeinated beverages (soda, coffee, tea, energy drinks) or sugar-sweetened beverages (soda, fruit drinks and fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened water, and sweetened coffee or tea).
    6 to 12 months: Babies should still rely on breast milk or infant formula. Once they have begun eating solid food, they can start sipping water. Parents should avoid juice, milk, flavored milk, transition formulas, low-calorie sweetened beverages, plant-based and nondairy milks, caffeinated beverages, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
    12 to 24 months: Children should drink one to four cups of water daily, and they can start drinking plain pasteurized whole milk. They should have no more than four ounces of 100 percent fruit juice per day; the juice may be watered down. Parents should avoid other drinks (flavored milk, transition formulas, caffeinated drinks, plant-based and nondairy milks, sugar-sweetened beverages and low-calorie sweetened beverages).
    2 to 3 years old: Toddlers should drink one to four cups of water daily and transition to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent fat) milk. They should drink no more than four ounces of 100 percent juice and should not be given other drinks.
    4 to 5 years old: These toddlers should drink 1.5 to five cups of water a day, skim or low-fat milk, and no more than four to six ounces of 100 percent fruit juice. They should not be given other drinks.


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