10:00 A.M.,Saturday 
November 2, 2019





Save The Date: Black Lives Matter at School Week, February 3-7, 2020.

Mark your calendar! The Black Lives Matter at School national week of action will be held from February 3-7th, 2020–and educators from coast to coast are organizing to make this the biggest coordinated uprising for racial justice in the schools yet. 
Black Lives Matter At School is a national coalition educators, parents and students organizing for racial justice in education.  We encourage community organizations and unions to join our annual week of action during the first week of February each year. To learn more about how to participate in the week of action, please check out the BLM@School starter kit
If you or your organization would like to support or endorse the week of action, please email us at: BlackLivesMatterAtSchool2@gmail.com.  
During the 2018-2019 school year, BLM@School held its second national week of action in some 30 different citiesaround the country. During the nationally organized week of action, thousands of educators around the U.S. wore Black Lives Matter shirts to school and taught lessons about the guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, structural racism, intersectional black identities, black history, and anti-racist social movements. 
In addition to centering Blackness in the classroom, BLM at School has these four demands:
1) End "zero tolerance" discipline, and implement restorative justice
3) Mandate Black history and Ethnic Studies in K-12 curriculum
The lessons that educators teach during the week of action corresponded to the guiding principles of Black Lives Matter:
Monday: Restorative Justice, Empathy and Loving Engagement
Tuesday: Diversity and Globalism
Wednesday: Trans-Affirming, Queer Affirming and Collective Value
Thursday: Intergenerational, Black Families and Black Villages
Friday: Black Women and Unapologetically Black
With your help, this year's BLM at School week of action can continue to grow and provide healing for Black students.  Learn more about how to participate by visiting our website, www.BlackLivesMatterAtSchool.com. Let us know what you are planning for BLM at School week this school year or ask us how to get involved with the action by emailing us at: BlackLivesMatterAtSchool2@gmail.com.





Stop Kevin Cooper's Abuse by San Quentin Prison Guards!


On Wednesday, September 25, Kevin Cooper's cell at San Quentin Prison was thrown into disarray and his personal food dumped into the toilet by a prison guard, A. Young.

The cells on East Block Bayside, where Kevin's cell is, were all searched on September 25 during Mandatory Yard. Kevin spent the day out in the yard with other inmates. In a letter, Kevin described what he found when he returned:

"This cage was hit hard, like a hurricane was in here . . . little by little I started to clean up and put my personal items back inside the boxes that were not taken . . . I go over to the toilet, lift up the seatcover and to my surprise and shock the toilet was completely filled up with my refried beans, and my brown rice. Both were in two separate cereal bags and both cereal bags were full. The raisin bran cereal bags were gone, and my food was in the toilet!"

A bucket was eventually brought over and:

"I had to get down on my knees and dig my food out of the toilet with my hands so that I could flush the toilet. The food, which was dried refried beans and dried brown rice had absorbed the water in the toilet and had become cement hard. It took me about 45 minutes to get enough of my food out of the toilet before it would flush."

Even the guard working the tier at the time told Kevin, "K.C., that is f_cked up!"

A receipt was left in Kevin's cell identifying the guard who did this as A. Young. Kevin has never met Officer A. Young, and has had no contact with him besides Officer Young's unprovoked act of harassment and psychological abuse.

Kevin Cooper has served over 34 years at San Quentin, fighting for exoneration from the conviction for murders he did not commit. It is unconscionable for him to be treated so disrespectfully by prison staff on top of the years of his incarceration.

No guard should work at San Quentin if they cannot treat prisoners and their personal belongings with basic courtesy and respect. Kevin has filed a grievance against A. Young. Please:

1) Sign this petition calling on San Quentin Warden Ronald Davis to grant Kevin's grievance and discipline "Officer" A. Young.

2) Call Warden Ronald Davis at: (415) 454-1460 Ext. 5000. Tell him that Officer Young's behaviour was inexcusable, and should not be tolerated.

3) Call Yasir Samar, Associate Warden of Specialized Housing, at (415) 455-5037

4) Write Warden Davis and Lt. Sam Robinson (separately) at:

Main Street
San Quentin, CA 94964
5) Email Lt. Sam Robinson at: samuel.robinson2@cdcr.ca.gov



Sign Global Petition to Dismiss Charges Against Anti-Nuclear Plowshares Activists Facing 25 Years


This is an urgent request that you join with distinguished global supporters including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, other Nobel laureates and many others by signing our global petition to dismiss all charges against the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (KBP7). They face 25 years in prison for exposing illegal and immoral nuclear weapons that threaten all life on Earth. The seven nonviolently and symbolically disarmed the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay, GA on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (View KBP7 reading their statement here.)

This petition is also a plea for us all to be involved in rebuilding the anti-nuclear weapons movement that helped disarm the world's nuclear arsenals from 90,000 down to 15,000 weapons in the 1980s. We must abolish them all. The KBP7 trial is expected to begin this fall in Georgia. Time is short. Please sign the petition and visit kingsbayplowshares7.org. Help KBP7 by forwarding their petition to your friends, to lists, and post it on social media.

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 have offered us their prophetic witness. Now it's up to us!

In peace and solidarity,

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 Support Committee



Vote Socialist 2020!
Gloria La Riva and Leonard Peltier announce presidential run



Support the return of Leonard Peltier's Medicine Bundle

November 1, 2019

Dear Friends and supporters,
We need your help in getting Leonard Peltier’s- (89637-132) Medicine Bundle returned to him. His Medicine Bundle includes: Pipe bowel, Pipe stem, Eagle feathers, sage and cedar. Leonard is at USP Coleman1, in Coleman FL. which has been locked down since mid-July. This lockdown has led to many “shakedowns” that is where the guards go in to a cell and check it for weapons. Leonard said in a legal letter,  that on“10/22/2019 the shakedown crew came to his cell and destroyed itThey came in and tore apart everything and threw out everything they couldjust because they couldThe most painfuland what caused me the most anger was when they took my religious itemsmyPipe (Chunapain myMedicine Bundleuse in my prayers.” 

Leonard’s lawyer was immediately on top of the situation and asked us to hold off until he could reach Leonard’s counselor and get the Bundlereturned.  I heard from the attorney last night and he said the prison has not returned Leonard his Medicine Bundle nor give them any reason for itbeing taken. 

Leonard Peltier as a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewaa federally recognized American Indian Nation is afforded all the legalprotections and rights pursuant to the American Indian Freedom of Religion Act codified at Title 42 United States Code 1996 et.seq.

I am asking if today you would send e-mails to Coleman I SR. Attorney J.C. DiNicola jcdinicola@bop.gov, public relations officer-COA/Publicinformation@bop.gov and to thenBOP-Southwest Regional office SERO/ExecAssistant@bop.gov requesting the return of Leonard Peltier 89637-132, Medicine Bundle

This lockdown has been extremely hard on Leonard and his Medicine Bundle is his way to help him maintain his relationship to his Creator!

Paulette Dauteuil ILPDC National Office
Sheridan Murphy- President of the ILPDC Board
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/


Courage to Resist
Reality Winner, a whistleblower who helped expose foreign hacking of US election systems leading up to the 2016 presidential election, has been behind bars since June 2017. Supporters are preparing to file a petition of clemency in hopes of an early release. Reality's five year prison sentence is by far the longest ever given for leaking information to the media about a matter of public interest. Stand with Reality shirts, stickers, and more available. Please take a moment to sign the letter
Vietnam War combat veteran Daniel Shea on his time in Vietnam and the impact that Agent Orange and post traumatic stress had on him and his family since. Listen now
This Courage to Resist podcast was produced in collaboration with the Vietnam Full Disclosure effort of Veterans For Peace — “Towards an honest commemoration of the American war in Vietnam.” This year marks 50 years of GI resistance, in and out of uniform, for many of the courageous individuals featured. If you believe this history is important, please ...
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559
www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



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



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/



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**




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



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!






    1) G.M. Workers Begin to Size Up the Deal Their Union Is Selling
    By Neal E. Boudette, October 18, 2019
    Workers picketed Thursday outside the Renaissance Center in Detroit, the global headquarters for General Motors, as leaders of union locals met to go over a tentative contract agreement.CreditCreditBrittany Greeson for The New York Times

    The tentative contract hammered out by the United Automobile Workers and General Motors won't please all of the union's members, but it is sure to get strong support at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

    The factory, which employs 700 U.A.W. members, is scheduled to close in January. But under the contract, G.M. has promised to spend $3 billion to retool Hamtramck to make battery modules and electric trucks, most likely increasing its work force and ensuring its operation for at least several more years.
    "I think it's a good contract," Wiley Turnage, chairman of Local 22, which represents Hamtramck workers, said Friday. "I'm happy." He said he planned to vote in favor of the contract and to recommend that his members do the same.
    If ratified by the U.A.W.'s rank and file, the contract will end a strike that has idled 34 factories in seven states for more than a month and has cost G.M. an estimated $2 billion in operating profit. The walkout's effects have rippled through the North American auto industry, affecting production and idling workers at parts suppliers and G.M.'s operations in Canada and Mexico.

    Voting on the contract will take place next week, with a result due on Friday. A simple majority is required for ratification, but it must include a majority of skilled-trades workers — the electricians and other technical specialists who maintain machinery. If it does not, the union will have to bargain with the company to address their concerns — as occurred in 2015, the last time G.M. negotiated a contract.
    The agreement includes provisions for higher wages and a process that allows temporary workers to become full-fledged employees. It also enables full-time hourly workers to rise to the top wage of $32 an hour within four years, ending a two-tier wage system that fostered tensions between workers. Each worker would also be paid a bonus of $11,000.

    RBC Capital Markets estimated that the contract would raise G.M.'s labor costs by $100 million a year.
    For its part, G.M. secured the union's acceptance that three plants already idled, including a factory in Lordstown, Ohio, will close permanently. That will help G.M. guard against excess manufacturing capacity at a time when auto sales are slowing, and put G.M. in a more stable position if the economy goes into a recession. The union went into the talks hoping to prod G.M. into reactivating the Lordstown plant.

    A rejection of the contract would be a major setback for the U.A.W. president, Doug Jones, and the union's other senior officials at a delicate moment. Before the strike, union leaders had come under heavy criticism from the rank and file over a federal corruption investigation in which several high-ranking officers have been charged with using union funds for lavish travel and personal purchases.
    Many union locals have started planning informational meetings to explain the terms of the contract to members. Darlene Maddox, who was laid off when the Lordstown factory closed this year and accepted a transfer to Lansing, Mich., said she was very disappointed that her old plant wouldn't be saved but wanted to know more before deciding how to vote.
    "My first instinct is to vote no," she said. "But the major highlights appear to be good."
    Others said they were encouraged that temporary workers would be able to become permanent employees with full benefits after three years of service.
    Under current rules, temporary workers earn about $15 an hour, can be laid off at any time and have no dental or vision insurance.
    Linda Castro, a temporary worker at a plant making sport utility vehicles in Spring Hill, Tenn., joined G.M. in January 2017, was laid off after a few months and more than a year later was recalled. She said she was worried that G.M. would lay off temporary workers before they could become full employees.

    "No one is going to make it to three years," she said. "So it's useless."
    Others said the end of the two-tier wage system was a big victory. Under current conditions, some G.M. workers earning less than $20 an hour work alongside veterans making $31 an hour, the current top wage. The proposed contract would move workers to the top wage in four years, half the time it takes now.

    "For me, what matters is making sure everyone makes the same wage, and to be able to do that in a time frame that's not eight years," said Ashly Luna, an assembler at a truck plant in Flint, Mich., who has been at G.M. for 12 years.
    The proposed contract also would leave the workers' share of health care costs unchanged at about 3 percent, well below the level paid by other manufacturing workers and G.M.'s salaried staff.
    D. J. Calma, another line worker in Flint, said autoworkers deserved generous health care terms because of the physical toll of assembly work.
    "In the short amount of time I've been here, 12 years, I never thought my body would feel this way," he said. "It's the repetitious squeezing. You're putting your body to the test, truck to truck."
    Todd Campanella, an officer in a U.A.W. branch that represents more than 800 G.M. employees in Rochester, N.Y., said the leadership of his local would meet with senior union officials over the weekend to discuss the contract before presenting it to members for a vote.
    Mr. Campanella attended the meeting on Thursday in Detroit at which leaders of G.M. union locals gathered to debate the proposed contract. He said representatives from idled plants had voiced concerns about the agreement before the group voted to recommend it to workers.
    "We're all in this together, and when some of us are hurting, we're all hurting," Mr. Campanella said. "That's really where the discontent would come from. Other than that, a lot of the contract was very positive for a lot of the plants."

    David Yaffe-Bellany and Scott Atkinson contributed reporting.



    2) The Arab Spring Rekindled in Beirut
    The Lebanese government falls to a popular uprising as Iran's role across the Middle East is questioned.
    By Roger Cohen, October 29, 2019

    Protesters on Sunday in Beirut, Lebanon, calling for the resignation of the government.Credit...Nabil Mounzer/EPA, via Shutterstock

    BEIRUT — Eight years after the Arab Spring, massive street protests over corruption, sectarianism and official contempt for the citizenry have brought down the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The sources of Arab rage have not changed.
    Across the region, societal dysfunction still runs deep. Very young populations are frustrated by the lack of economic opportunity and by constant insults to their dignity in the form of governmental impunity and waste. A millennial generation is sick of nepotism, frozen political systems and waste. Neither the oppression of dictators nor the promises of Islamic radicalism have delivered the human dignity that comes with government accountability.

    Young Arabs want agency. They don't want to pay their water bill and then pay again to bribe some official to get connected to the water pipe that goes to a minister's home and so actually works. They don't want to watch the same old men doing the same old things over and over again, before handing power to their sons.

    "I'm at a dead end," Hariri said as he quit. He might have been speaking about the Lebanese system with its sectarian division of the spoils and its inefficiency so gross that stretches of highway stink of sewage, electricity comes and goes, and the internet flickers to life from time to time.

    "Our kids have been growing up in a polluted place," Kamal Mansour, a businessman, told me. "They have put labels on us. But we are Lebanese." Mansour turned to the protesters around him in the Hamra district of Beirut: "I don't ask if they are Sunni or Shia Muslim, or Maronite, or whatever," he said.
    Lebanon fought a devastating civil war in the late 20th century over precisely those divisions. Balancing the political strength of each religious group seemed like a way of keeping the peace. But to a new generation, it looks like a way to perpetuate the power of corrupt clan leaders who pay their followers to entrench their influence. For example, Nabih Berri, the Shia speaker of the Parliament, has held that post for 27 years.
    The Lebanese in the streets want to be Lebanese, period. They want to elect a decent government that respects them. They are tired of Lebanon as a plaything for the region's powers. The Palestine Liberation Organization came and left. Israel came and left. Syria came and left. Iran, through its Hezbollah surrogate, is still in Lebanon.
    Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, the militant group and political party that is a member of Hariri's coalition, spoke out last week against the government's resigning and warned of possible civil war. (He appeared last week flanked by the Lebanese flag, a departure from his normal practice of speaking beside Hezbollah's yellow flag.)

    The government resignation is therefore a direct challenge to Hezbollah and Iranian influence in Lebanon. It comes at the same time as crowds in Iraq, angered for similar reasons as the Lebanese, have been chanting: "Free, free Iraq. Get out corrupt ones" and "Iran, get out!"
    Iran is not a great power. It is a modest power that has played a weak hand well.
    As Walid Joumblatt, the Druze leader, told me over dinner at his Moukhtara mountain fastness, "The American invasion of Iraq opened the door to the Persian Empire."
    The Shia-Sunni balance was upset in 2003, within Iraq and across the region, in favor of Shia Iran. The Islamic Republic, like President Vladimir Putin of Russia, is adept at exploiting strategic opportunity on the cheap.
    It pocketed as much of Iraq as newfound Shia dominance would allow, used proxies to shore up Bashar al-Assad in Syria and win the Syrian war, underwrote the Houthis against the Saudis and Emiratis in Yemen, and consolidated Hezbollah's presence in southern Lebanon as the embodiment of "the resistance" to Israel.
    That was pretty impressive. But the Islamic Republic, more than four decades after the revolution, resembles the late Soviet Empire — powerful but hollow, estranged from much of its population, an economic shambles and devoid of answers to the real challenges facing the Middle East today.
    Iranian overreach is suddenly on the table. The word "hostages" is frequently heard in Beirut — as in hostages of Hezbollah. Why, people ask, should we be that? For a long time, the Israeli threat was sufficient answer. It does not feel that way in Lebanon today.
    Powerful reactionary forces, from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates, from Egypt to the Islamic Republic, are arrayed against the people of the Middle East who want to free themselves, establish accountable governments, secure the rule of law, live with dignity and enjoy economic opportunity. That has been demonstrated between 2011 and now. Only in Tunisia was the hope of the uprisings fulfilled to a significant degree.

    Lebanon faces an uphill battle. With the economy on the brink, a descent into mayhem is not implausible. That mayhem could become violent, especially if Hezbollah sets red lines. But the Lebanese know civil war. They want to avoid it, become one people, fulfill the open promise of beautiful Beirut and start anew.
    "Run for Modernity," says a T-shirt I've been seeing on the seafront. Why not?



    3) Reading Scores on National Exam Decline in Half the States
    The results of the test, which assesses a sample of fourth- and eighth-grade students, will inevitably prompt demands for policy change.
    "Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest performing students are doing worse,"
    By Erica L. Green and Dana Goldstein, October 30, 2019
    A student reading in the library at a school in Baltimore in May.Credit...Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — The average eighth-grade reading score on a nationally representative test declined among public school students in more than half of the states, according to data released Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the Education Department. 

    The dismal results were part of the release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the "nation's report card." The test assesses a sample of fourth- and eighth-grade students — more than 290,000 in each subject in 2019 — every other year.
    "Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest performing students are doing worse," Peggy G. Carr, the associate commissioner of the center, said in a statement. 
    Such findings will inevitably prompt demands for policy change. In a statement, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is championing a $5 billion school choice program, said that the results "must be America's wake-up call."

    "We can neither excuse them away, nor simply throw more money at the problem," she said.
    That vision is in stark contrast to the one that has emerged in the Democratic presidential primary. All the leading candidates have suggested spending billions of more federal dollars on traditional public schools, and two of the front-runners — Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — have proposed slowing the growth of the charter school sector. 
    The losses on the national exam were steepest for students who had been struggling the most, a segment that is the focus of many school reform policies.
    Eighth graders at the bottom 10th percentile of reading achievement lost six points on the exam compared with similar students two years ago, while students at the 50th percentile lost 3 points and students at the 90th percentile — top achievers — lost only 1 point. 
    "Eighth grade is a transitional point in preparing students for success in high school, so it is critical that researchers further explore the declines we are seeing here," Ms. Carr said. 
    White, black, Hispanic, Native American and multiracial students all lost ground in eighth-grade reading, while there was no significant change for Asian students.

    Washington, one of 27 cities to participate in a separate analysis of urban school systems, was the only city or state to see significant improvement in eighth-grade reading, according to a federal analysis of the data.

    This year, 31 states noted a drop of two to seven points in their average eighth-grade reading score — which the federal government deemed significant — compared with their performances in 2017. Indiana, New Hampshire and Virginia were the states with the largest declines among eighth graders. 
    Fourth-grade reading scores dropped in 17 states, with New Jersey having the largest decline, 6 points; only one state, Mississippi, improved, the data showed. 
    States' average math scores fared considerably better, particularly among fourth graders. Nine states had significant increases in fourth-grade math, compared with 2017 numbers, with Mississippi again leading the pack. The eighth-grade score in three states improved, while six noted a decline. 
    While the most recent results are disappointing, trends in student achievement look more positive over the long term. American students have made large gains in math and small gains in reading since 1990, but those improvements began to level out around 2009. There is no consensus among experts as to why.
    The Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of large urban school systems, said it saw a hopeful story in the new data. Over the past two decades, students in cities have moved closer to national achievement averages in both math and reading.

    "The fact that large city schools have cut their performance gap with the nation in about half is even more remarkable when you consider that our schools have substantially more poor students and English-language learners than the average public school across the nation," the group said in a statement. Such results "suggest that the nation's urban public schools are adding substantially more educational value than the average school." 
    The National Assessment of Educational Progress is considered a "low stakes" exam, because schools and teachers do not lose funding, pay or autonomy based on how their students perform. Some researchers consider the test the gold-standard measure of learning nationwide, while others argue it is unfair to judge schools using an exam that may have little connection to the material teachers cover in the classroom.
    Ms. DeVos said the 2019 scores reflected a "student achievement crisis," where progress had stalled, two out of three children were not proficient readers, and outcomes continued to worsen for the most vulnerable students. 
    "Every American family needs to open the nation's report card this year and think about what it means for their child and for our country's future," she said. "The results are, frankly, devastating."
    Erica Green reported from Washington, and Dana Goldstein from New York.



    4) Juul Knowingly Sold Tainted Nicotine Pods, Former Executive Says
    In a lawsuit, a former senior vice president claims he was fired for raising safety concerns and said that the company's C.E.O. said customers are "drunk and vaping" so wouldn't notice the quality of the pods.
    By Sheila Kaplan, October 30, 2019
    Siddharth Breja, a former Juul senior vice president, claims he was fired in retaliation for whistleblowing and objecting to shipments of contaminated and expired pods.Credit...Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

    A former top executive of Juul is alleging that the e-cigarette giant sold at least one million contaminated mint-flavored nicotine pods— and refused to recall them when told about the problem.

    In a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday, Siddharth Breja, who was senior vice president for global finance, claims he was fired on March 21 in retaliation for whistle-blowing and objecting to the shipment of the contaminated and expired pods and other illegal and unsafe conduct that "has jeopardized and continues to jeopardize public health and safety and the lives of millions of consumers, many of them children and teens."
    Mr. Breja detailed a culture of indifference to safety and quality-control issues among top executives at the company and quoted the then-chief executive Kevin Burns saying at a meeting in February: "Half our customers are drunk and vaping" and wouldn't "notice the quality of our pods."
    Ted Kwong, a Juul spokesman, dismissed Mr. Breja's claims as baseless. 
    "He was terminated in March 2019 because he failed to demonstrate the leadership qualities needed in his role," Mr. Kwong said. "The allegations concerning safety issues with Juul products are equally meritless, and we already investigated the underlying manufacturing issue and determined the product met all applicable specifications."

    Jan Hoffman contributed reporting.



    5) Grenfell Tower Inquiry Criticized for Faulting Fire Brigade
    Survivor groups and firefighters said the investigation into the high-rise blaze that left 72 people dead should instead have begun by focusing on unsafe conditions in the building.
    By Richard Pérez-Peña and https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/30/world/europe/grenfell-tower.html

    The burnt-out shell of Grenfell Tower in London in 2017. The fire, which killed 72 people, was the deadliest in Britain in generations.Credit...Andrew Testa for The New York Times

    LONDON — Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire and firefighters reacted angrily on Wednesday to an official inquiry into the disaster for focusing first on the shortcomings of the emergency services' response to the 2017 blaze, not on the dangerous conditions that fed it.
    The government-commissioned investigation produced a nearly 900-page report, more than two years in the making, that is harshly critical of the London Fire Brigade, especially for advising residents of the tower to stay in their apartments during the first hours of the inferno, rather than to try to escape.
    The fire, the deadliest in Britain in generations, killed 72 people, while about 200 others in the building survived.

    The report reflects the first of two phases in the inquiry, led by Martin Moore-Bick, a retired appellate court judge, focusing on what happened the night of the fire.

    As a result, it acknowledges but does not go in depth into the underlying cause of the calamity: the dangerously flammable exterior of the 24-story building, which caused the fire to spread with deadly speed. The second phase of the investigation is expected to address how the material came to be used in a renovation that was completed the year before the fire.
    Flammable cladding and insulation enabled the fire to spread rapidly on the exterior of the building.Credit...Hannah Mckay/Reuters

    The report was leaked on Tuesday to British news organizations, so that survivors saw headlines blaming the Fire Brigade before they had a chance to begin digesting the findings.
    "My husband kept looking through the papers to try and find details about the cheap materials they used to renovate the building, but all we could see was blame against the brave firefighters, who saved my family's life," said Asma Kazmi, a survivor of the fire. "It is shameful. The government is always finding others to blame." 
    In the report, Mr. Moore-Bick said: "Although there was much public speculation at the time about the origin of the fire and the role played by the cladding in its spread, it seemed to me that the first step must be to find out as far as possible exactly what happened during the early hours of 14 June 2017. Only when that had been done would it be possible to focus attention on the underlying causes and the decisions that gave rise to them."

    The inquiry panel has not commented on the responses to the first phase of its report.
    Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged on Wednesday that many of the survivors and allies campaigning for change had no faith in the national or local government to move to ensure that the disaster will not be repeated.
    "This is understandable," he said in a lengthy address in Parliament. "They have been let down many times before."
    He promised to introduce legislation enacting Mr. Moore-Bick's recommendations, and said that additional money had been allocated for removing flammable cladding from buildings around the country.
    He also praised the inquiry, adding: "Phase One sets out what happened. Phase Two will explain why."
    To many activists, that order is backward. The group Justice 4 Grenfell, said the fire occurred "within a historical background of cuts to public services, deregulation" and other factors that should have been the first focus of the inquiry.
    "Instead, the inquiry began with 'Act II, Scene 1' asking details about the fire on that fateful night," the group said in a statement, leading inevitably to what it said was blaming the firefighters.
    "The real meat is expected in Phase Two of the investigation," said Melvyn Akins, who grew up near the tower and has been among those demonstrating for change. "Yes, there's a question mark about whether more lives could be saved, but the real question is, would any lives have been lost if the building companies and managers didn't do what they did?"

    Matt Wrack, chief of Britain's main firefighters' union, said, "Before any firefighter arrived that night, Grenfell Tower was a death trap." 
    "We have said from the start that the order of issues to be investigated has been entirely wrong," he said. "The inquiry's structure prioritizes scrutiny of firefighters, who did everything that they could to save lives, over investigating the critical issues of public safety that led to the fire and caused it to spread in such a disastrous manner."
    Grenfell activists marched through London on Wednesday with signs demanding government action on building safety. They, like opposition members of Parliament, say such action is long overdue.
    Grenfell was clad in panels made of layers of an aluminum composite over a core of polyethylene, a type of plastic, which melted, caught fire and sent flaming drops and rivulets down the sides of the building. The insulation between the cladding and the concrete structure was also combustible, and the thin space between them acted like a chimney, funneling heat and flames upward.
    In addition, the building lacked sprinklers, fire alarms and fire escapes, it had only one staircase, and the inquiry found that apartment doors were not self-closing, as they should have been. Residents had complained for years that the tower was unsafe.
    The type of cladding on Grenfell is not allowed on high-rises in many countries, including the United States, specifically because of the fire danger. Britain's building safety rules are relatively laxcompared to those of other wealthy countries, as is enforcement of them; tests conducted after the fire found that the cladding did not meet even those standards.
    "Following the refurbishment, the external walls of the building did not comply with the building regulations, because they did not adequately resist the spread of fire over them," Mr. Moore-Bick said in a video statement accompanying the report. "On the contrary, they promoted it."

    Hundreds of high-rise buildings around the country had similar cladding, and many still do, despite the government's expressed commitment to get rid of it.
    But this phase of the inquiry dwelled much more on what the emergency services did on the night of the fire, which was first reported shortly before 1 a.m. For nearly two hours, firefighters and emergency operators advised residents to stay in their apartments, rather than try to evacuate.
    The advice was routine, based on the belief that closed doors and the building's concrete structure would keep the fire from spreading within the tower. It did not take into account the cladding that would instead spread flames along the exterior of the building.
    Fire commanders "were not trained to recognize a fire in the external wall of a high-rise building, nor were they trained in how to respond to it," Mr. Moore-Bick said. "There was no contingency plan for evacuation of the tower, and the L.F.B. failed to revoke the 'stay put' advice at a time when the stairs remained passable. Had it done so, more lives could have been saved."
    The Fire Brigade has a database with information on London buildings, but it had not been updated to reflect the renovation of Grenfell, the report said. "In some cases, basic information relating to the tower held by the L.F.B. was wrong, and in others it was missing altogether."
    Some of the communication systems used by the Fire Brigade did not work that night, the report said, and the emergency operators were overwhelmed by the volume of calls.
    City officials have said that the Fire Brigade has already addressed many of the problems that were exposed that night.



    6) Greek Refugee Camps Are Near Catastrophe, Rights Chief Warns
    Conditions in overcrowded, unsanitary camps on the Aegean Islands have turned into "a struggle for survival."
    By Niki Kitsantonis, October 31, 2019
    The Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos this month.  Parliament is considering a plan aimed at easing crowding in the camps.Credit...Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press

    ATHENS — Life in the overcrowded migrant camps on Greek islands "has dramatically worsened" in the past year, with thousands of refugees fighting to meet their most basic needs, Europe's top human rights official warned on Thursday.

    "It is an explosive situation," the official, Dunja Mijatovic, the human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe, said after going to several camps. For many people in the camps, she said, "this has become a struggle for survival."
    The Greek Parliament was expected to adopt a bill later Thursday aimed at easing crowding in the camps. But that plan could simply substitute one set of problems for another, Ms. Mijatovic suggested.
    "There is a desperate lack of medical care and sanitation in the vastly overcrowded camps I have visited," she said at a news conference in Athens. "People queue for hours to get food and to go to bathrooms, when these are available."

    She described families "chipping away at rocks to make some space on steep hillsides to set up their makeshift shelters, often made from trees they cut themselves."

    Ms. Mijatovic's comments underscored the predicament that Greece still faces four years after the height of the refugee crisis: arrivals from neighboring Turkey are increasing, and many fear of a new wave of migrants from Syria.
    About 70,000 migrants in Greece have pending asylum applications, including about 34,000 who are in the Aegean island camps, and many would like to move on to other European countries. Ms Mijatovic denounced the "political deadlock" that has prevented the 28 members of the European Union from reaching an agreement on how to deal with refugees.
    On Thursday, one of the European Union's chief lawyers advised the bloc's top court that the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland had no legal right to refuse to take significant numbers of refugees, under a policy adopted in 2015. The Court of Justice nearly always accepts the recommendations of those lawyers, but it is not clear how such a ruling could be enforced.

    Ms. Mijatovic described "unbearable" conditions on the island of Samos, where a migrant center houses 6,000 people, nine times its maximum capacity, and also expressed concern about Lesbos, where the main camp holds nearly 14,000 people, up from 7,000 last year. Rioting has broken out at camps on both islands in recent weeks, and frustrated migrants have set fires, demanding relocation to the mainland.
    Ms. Mijatovic welcomed plans by the government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to transfer 20,000 migrants to mainland facilities by the end of the year.
    But she joined the chorus of rights advocates criticizing the government's plan to change how Greece handles migrants who arrive by boat from Turkey.
    The proposed law would speed both the processing of asylum applications and the deportation of people who are denied that protection. Anyone refused asylum would be transported first to Turkey and then, in many cases, to their home country; the government has said it plans to send 10,000 people to Turkey by the end of the year.
    Ms. Mijatovic said her chief concerns were that the proposed law would allow the authorities to detain migrants more easily and for longer periods, and that it made it harder for rejected asylum applicants to challenge those decisions.

    Rights groups held protests in central Athens on Thursday before the vote in Parliament, which is likely to approve the bill.

    Mr. Mitsotakis has said repeatedly that Greece cannot bear the burden of the migrant crisis alone.
    Under a 2016 pact between Turkey and the European Union, Turkey agreed to curb illegal migration to Europe, and Greece agreed that those who reach its shores would be restricted to the Aegean Islands until their asylum applications were processed. But many migrants have managed to travel to mainland Greece, from where it is easier to slip into other European countries.
    To relieve the humanitarian crisis on the Aegean Islands, many people must be moved to the mainland, Ms. Mijatovic said, suggesting that the provision restricting migrants to the islands be lifted. But the European authorities fear that such a move would encourage more people to migrate.
    The Aegean crossings have increasingly strained relations between Greece and Turkey. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has threatened to allow refugees now in Turkey to continue on to Europe.
    Last weekend, the Turkish Foreign Ministry accused the Greek authorities of pushing back more than 25,000 migrants trying to cross the Aegean. Mr. Mitsotakis responded by accusing Turkey of exploiting the refugee crisis and "using the persecuted as pawns in forwarding its geopolitical goals."



    7) Keystone Pipeline Leaks 383,000 Gallons of Oil in North Dakota
    The spill in the northeastern part of the state, which occurred along a different stretch than the controversial XL pipeline addition, coated an estimated half-acre of wetland, officials said.
    By Niraj Chokshi, October 31, 2019
    The TC Energy's Keystone pipeline facility in Alberta, Canada, in 2015. The spill was near the town of Edinburg in northeast North Dakota, less than 50 miles from the Canadian border.Credit...Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press, via Associated Press

    The Keystone pipeline system, an addition to which has been the subject of environmental protests for years, leaked about 383,000 gallons of crude oil in North Dakota, covering an estimated half-acre of wetland, state environmental regulators said. 

    The spill, which has been contained, occurred in a low-gradient drainage area near the small town of Edinburg in northeast North Dakota, less than 50 miles from the Canadian border, according to Karl Rockeman, the director of the state Department of Environmental Quality's division of water quality.
    "It is one of the larger spills in the state," he said in an email on Thursday.
    There are no residences near the site and the wetland is not a source of drinking water, he said. State regulators and cleanup equipment are on site, but Mr. Rockeman could not say whether cleanup had begun.
    The leak occurred along a stretch of the Keystone pipeline system, not the 1,179-mile-long addition to that system known as the Keystone XL pipeline, he said. Keystone XL has been the subject of environmental protests for years. President Barack Obama denied a permit for the pipeline in 2015, but President Trump cleared its path just days after taking office.

    In a statement, the pipeline's operator, TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, said the pipeline was shut down after the spill was detected at about 9:20 p.m. local time on Tuesday. The cause of the spill will not be known, the statement said, until an internal investigation is complete and the pipeline is analyzed by federal officials. 
    "We are establishing air quality, water and wildlife monitoring and will continue monitoring throughout the response," the statement said.
    In 2017, a spill along the Keystone pipeline system coated a stretch of grassland in South Dakota with more than 407,000 gallons of leaked Canadian crude oil, which was nearly twice as much as originally estimated, according to the company. The pipeline also leaked about 16,000 gallons each in spills in 2011 in North Dakotaand in 2016 in South Dakota.
    The original Keystone pipeline system began operation in 2010 and carries crude oil from Alberta, Canada, south to Texas. The system contains 2,687 miles of pipeline.



    8) Lots of Job Hunting, but No Job, Despite Low Unemployment
    Even with the strongest labor market in half a century, getting work after losing it can still be a challenge.
    "Most of these people do not show up in the stunningly low official unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, the lowest in a half-century. Working even one hour during the week when the Labor Department does its employment survey keeps you out of the jobless category."
    By Patricia Cohen, October 31, 2019
    Laura Ward has worked temporary stints over the last three and a half years, but she has not been able to find a steady, full-time job.Credit...Mary Inhea Kang for The New York Times

    RIVER VALE, N.J. — Laura Ward flipped through the small, lined notebook where she had neatly recorded every job posting she had answered, résumé she had sent and application she had completed since being laid off in March 2016.

    No. 28 was a job listing for a creative manager at Byre Group posted on the website Indeed.

    No. 97 was about a brand marketing administrator job at Benjamin Moore.
    No. 109 — marketing operations at AMC. No. 158 — associate production manager at Vitamin Shoppe.
    Callbacks were circled in green. Rejections were marked with a red X. Most have neither, signaling no reply one way or the other. Bottled messages dropped in an ocean.

    "I had to keep track somehow," said Ms. Ward, who has maintained job-hunting diaries since the 1990s.
    Even in some of the hottest labor markets in the country — let alone lagging rural regions and former industrial powerhouses — workers, including skilled ones like Ms. Ward, say they cannot find jobs that provide a middle-class income and don't come with an expiration date.
    After more than a decade as production manager at a small advertising agency, Ms. Ward was let go after the firm lost a major account. Over the last three and a half years, she has worked temporary stints, and bolstered her skills by taking a project-management course at a nearby college. But she has not been able to find a steady, full-time job.
    So for her, the reports of low unemployment rates and employer complaints of labor shortages are puzzling.

    "I don't know what all those jobs out there are," she said from her living room in River Vale, a New Jersey suburb within commuting distance of Manhattan.

    The continuing strength of the labor market has been one of the most remarkable economic achievements since the recession petered out. One hundred and eight months of consecutive job gains have coaxed discouraged and disabled Americans back into the work force and raised wages and hours, particularly for those at low end of the pay scale.
    But beneath the clear benefits of the economic expansion, there is an undertow of anxiety, heightened recently by fears of slowing growth around the globe and in the United States.
    "We're not focusing enough on the people who have continued to be left behind by this recovery," said Martha Gimbel, a manager of economic research at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative. "We have not talked enough about the workers who are still stuck even in a labor market that is this competitive."
    Most of these people do not show up in the stunningly low official unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, the lowest in a half-century. Working even one hour during the week when the Labor Department does its employment survey keeps you out of the jobless category.
    Many more show up in a broader measure, which includes people who are working part time but would prefer full-time employment, and those who want to work but have given up an active job search. That rate in September was 6.9 percent, some 11 million people.
    But there are also many others, like Ms. Ward, who work temporary jobs for months at a time and are not necessarily captured in either measure. And millions of contract workers — freelancers, consultants, Lyft drivers — lack benefits, regular schedules and job security. They have found a foothold, but it rests on loose rock.

    recent survey by Gallup found that a majority of Americans do not consider themselves to be in a "good job."
    Appealing to "Americans on the sidelines" and those who had not benefited from the "so-called recovery" was a key element of Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016. Now, Democratic presidential contenders like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sandersare arguing that American workers have barely shared in the economy's gains.
    And they have bypassed benchmark statistics like the unemployment rate, and focused instead on the system's fundamental unfairness, highlighting stark income inequality and worker rights.

    The political pressures have even registered in penthouse suites. The Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives of some of the nation's biggest corporations, issued a new mission statementin August, declaring that companies should promote the interests of their employees as well as their investors.
    "We know that many Americans are struggling," the group said in a release. "Too often hard work is not rewarded, and not enough is being done for workers to adjust to the rapid pace of change in the economy."
    Such pronouncements have yet to produce a tangible change in many Americans' daily lives.
    One in four workers say they have unpredictable work schedules, which can have insidious effects on family life. One in five adults who are employed say they want to work more hours. Annual wage growth has struggled to reach 3 percent. And nearly 40 percent of Americans, a Federal Reserve report found, are in such a financially precarious state that they say they would have trouble finding $400 for an unexpected expense like a car repair or a medical bill.

    Keenan Harton, 45, juggles two jobs, one at a Biscuitville fast-food restaurant that pays $8 an hour, and another at a hospital laundry in Durham, N.C., that pays $10.50 an hour. Often he shows up for work at the fast-food job for an eight-hour shift, only to be sent home after a couple of hours if business is slow.
    "It's real hard to find a full-time job that's actually going to pay over $10 an hour," said Mr. Harton, who has a high school diploma.
    Four hundred fifty miles north, in New Jersey, Sonia Johnson's last job was in August, a four-week assignment. "But my last full-time direct hire was back in 2009," said Ms. Johnson, who worked in the human resources department of a pharmaceutical company until she was laid off. "For me, it's been all through an agency, working as a contractor."
    Ms. Johnson, 55, who has a college degree, said she had kept her skills up to date by using grant money from the state's labor department to take courses. "I have really good technical skills," she said.
    Asked how many jobs she had applied for, Ms. Johnson hesitated. "It's almost embarrassing," she said. "At least 500."
    Her impression is that the contract work that enables her to pay the bills may at times hinder her ability to get a full-time job. "Employers are not happy with people with a contract working background," Ms. Johnson said, adding that they are also suspicious of any gaps in a résumé.

    National averages, of course, can mask distinct geographical differences. Workers may not have the specific skills a particular employer needs, or live where a job opening is. But research also shows that some employers have a negative view of people who have been unemployed for long stretches at a time.
    "The longer you are unemployed, the more stigma is attached," said Carl Van Horn, the founding director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.
    African-Americans and older Americans are more likely to find themselves among the long-term unemployed, he said, a group that includes people out of work for more than six months. And age discrimination, particularly against women over 40, has been documented in several studies.
    "There are very limited remedies in this country to deal with these issues," Mr. Van Horn said. Cash assistance runs out, and there are few retraining opportunities. He noted that a lot of higher education assistance, like Pell Grants, do not pay for short-term training, which is what many people lacking a particular skill could benefit from.
    The Heldrich Center runs the New Start Career Network, a program for the long-term unemployed that provides online job-search resources, job fairs and career coaching.
    Both Ms. Ward and Ms. Johnson are members, and that is where they learned about the state's grants for training.
    "Every morning, I wake up and there's that one second when I realize I don't have a job, and it's scary and awful," Ms. Ward said.

    Holding her notebook in her lap, Ms. Ward slowly ran her finger along the pages of color-coded entries of job leads.
    "It's interesting to watch as time went on," she said. As the weeks, and then months went by, her search criteria shifted. "O.K., a little further away, 35 miles instead of 25," she recalled. "Maybe a little less money, maybe this title instead of that."
    Her cellphone rang, and she excused herself to answer it.
    "I applied to these three jobs yesterday, and I thought maybe they'll call me," she said when she did not recognize the number. It turned out to be a nuisance call.
    Now that three years have passed since her last training, Ms. Ward is again eligible to receive unemployment insurance while taking up to $4,000 worth of classes. She has signed up for a social-media marketing class and an introductory design course.
    "That should buy me till the end of the year," she said.



    9) Hong Kong Falls Into Recession; Protesters Defy Mask Ban on Halloween
    The Chinese territory's economy shrank sharply in recent months, officials said on a day when the traditional wearing of masks became especially provocative.
    By Amy Qin, Tiffany May and Alexandra Stevenson, October 31, 2019
    Hong Kong has banned the wearing of masks at public gatherings, but Halloween demonstrations on Thursday night tested the authorities's tolerance.
    Credit...Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

    HONG KONG — Hong Kong's economy officially fell into recession in the third quarter after enduring nearly five months of protests and a persistent trade war between the United States and China. 

    The economy dropped by 3.2 percent in the three months ending in September compared with the quarter that ended in June, Hong Kong officials said on Thursday. It was the worst economic performance for the city since the global financial crisis a decade ago and the strongest signal yet of the damage caused by political unrest.
    "The blow to Hong Kong economy is multifaceted," Paul Chan, the city's financial secretary, wrote in a blog post. He said that a full year contraction was also "very likely."
    The performance marked the second consecutive quarter that the territory's economy shrank, meeting the formal definition of a recession. In the quarter that ended in June, the economy contracted 0.4 percent from the first three months of the year.

    Weekends in Hong Kong are now punctuated with public transport shutdowns, road blockages and the early closure of the malls and the luxury stores that were once part of the engine that keeps the city humming.

    Tourists that traveled to Hong Kong from mainland China to fill their empty suitcases are almost all gone. During China's main holiday week in early October, visitors plummeted by 55 percentfrom the year before. 
    Hong Kong's growth has also been buffeted by a protracted trade war between China and the United States and is part of a broader global economic slowdown that has raised fears of recession in other major economies, including Germany and Britain.

    The protests that have seized Hong Kong continued on Thursday, with demonstrators using the city's Halloween demonstrations to challenge a recent ban on masks at public gatherings by the authorities.

    Early on Thursday evening, the mood in Lan Kwai Fong, a rowdy night life district known for its booze-soaked Halloween parties, was noticeably muted. While the streets were still filled with revelers in costumes, compared to years past there were fewer Halloween decorations and more security and journalists.
    At around 7 p.m., dozens of protesters wearing masks of government leaders like Xi Jinping and Carrie Lam gathered in the district. Amid blaring music from nearby bars, the protesters began shouting slogans like "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong."
    Not long after, a tense standoff formed between the police and protesters. Officers soon declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and took the nearly unprecedented step of ordering an immediate evacuation of the district. 
    Later in the evening, with the area blocked off, a reveler dressed as Snow White could be seen coughing in the tear gas as tourists took selfies.
    The night included multiple clashes between protesters and police elsewhere around the city. The police fired canisters of tear gas at protesters outside the Mong Kok police station in the Prince Edward district, and later in the heart of the central business district, which includes Lan Kwai Fong.
    The protest movement began as a fight over a now-withdrawn extradition bill and has expanded its demands to include free elections and an independent investigation into the police's use of force. But after agreeing to withdraw the extradition bill, the government has since then refused to budge on the other demands, summed up by protesters under the slogan "five demands, not one less."

    Under mounting pressure to take action, Hong Kong's embattled leader, Carrie Lam, drew on a colonial-era law to ban face masks at public gatherings. The move set off some of the most violent protests since the movement began in June. Pan-democratic lawmakers say the ban is unconstitutional since it was introduced without going through the normal legislative process. On Thursday, the High Court began a two-day hearing to review the lawmakers' requests to overturn the emergency law.
    Protesters wearing masks at a march in the Causeway Bay district on Thursday evening. Enforcement of the ban on masks has been uneven.Credit...Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

    Dozens of protesters have since been arrested on charges of violating the prohibition. But enforcement has been uneven. Face masks have long been a common accessory in Hong Kong, particularly since a deadly SARS outbreak in the city in 2003, and there has also been confusion about what constitutes a public gathering. The ambiguity has provided cover for some protesters to defy the ban.
    Leading up to Halloween night, preparations were being made in anticipation of clashes. In a statement on Tuesday, the police warned of possible road closures and urged shops to close early if necessary. In a video released on Thursday afternoon, a police spokesman sought to pre-empt criticism by stating that officers were empowered to use force to remove facial coverings, if necessary.
    Ocean Park, the city's largest theme park, announced on Wednesday that it was canceling the last day of its signature seasonal event, Halloween Fest, citing the "current social situation." The MTR Corporation, the Hong Kong subway operator, also announced that it was shutting train service down early, ostensibly to deter protesters from taking to the streets. 
    Prince Edward Station, near one of the busiest shopping districts on the Kowloon Peninsula, was shut down the earliest, at 2 p.m., apparently in response to calls among protesters to gather Thursday at the station, the site of a particularly violent confrontation between police and protesters exactly two months ago. Protesters are still angry about that night after video footage showed riot officers charging into a waiting subway carriage and beating people with batons and dousing them with pepper spray.
    The announcement on Thursday about the city's recession came as no surprise to bar employees in Lan Kwai Fong, which has seen business plummet in recent months.

    "The locals are pretty terrified of coming out, the mainlanders used to give us a lot of business but they're not here anymore, and the tourists aren't showing up anymore either," said Paul Pecas, a bartender at a bar in Lan Kwai Fong bar called Tipsy Bird.
    Mr. Pecas said that business at the bar had dropped by 50 percent this month compared to last October, which is typically the peak month for customers. Two of Tipsy Bird's sister bars, he said, had been shut down in recent months because of the protests.
    "I have nothing against anyone," said Mr. Pecas. "I'm just terrified of losing my job."
    Elaine Yu and Ezra Cheung contributed reporting.



    10) Owe Lunch Money? Don’t Plan on Going to Prom
    By Tracey Tully and Nate Schweber, November 1, 2019

    Credit...Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

    A suburban New Jersey school system has wrestled for months with a problem common in other districts: an accumulating pile of student lunch debt.
    The policy in Cherry Hill already limited students who owed more than $20 to a tuna sandwich meal.
    Over the summer, the school board considered amending that policy and denying lunch to students who were more than $20 in debt, provoking a fierce backlash.
    One student who spoke at a board meeting called the tuna sandwich “a badge of shame.” A supermarket owner volunteered to erase the overdue lunch debt altogether, but the district said that was not a viable long-term answer to a persistent problem.

    Now Cherry Hill has approved a plan that has unleashed an even more vehement response and tapped a vein of nationwide outrage over so-called lunch shaming.

    Tuna sandwiches are no longer the only option for children with overdue payments. But the policy now includes another penalty: It allows principals to block students who owe more than $75 from buying yearbooks or prom tickets, and from participating in nonacademic field trips and some extracurricular activities.
    The school district’s latest move has drawn the scorn of a leading Democratic candidate for president. 
    “This is cruel and punitive,” Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter about the controversy.

    “Excluding them and punishing them — what are you teaching them?” asked Sunny Reed, 35, whose son attends kindergarten in Cherry Hill. “It’s beyond ridiculous. It’s punishing children for being poor.”
    Holding children publicly accountable for unpaid lunch bills is hardly unusual. A 2014 report from the United States Department of Agriculture found that nearly half of all school districts used some form of shaming to compel parents to pay bills.

    New York City, home to the country’s largest school district, started providing free lunch to all students two years ago, after officials and nutrition advocates found that some children chose to go hungry rather than admit they could not afford to pay. 
    In the week after Ms. Warren’s Twitter post, administrators fielded about 20 angry calls a day from people as far away as Texas, Colorado and California, a school official said. 
    The district’s superintendent, Dr. Joseph Meloche, issued a statement saying administrators and board members have felt “vilified” by media coverage that has “shined a harsh — and false — light on our community.”
    Carlos Rodriguez, president of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, said the debate in Cherry Hill had “tapped into an emotional nerve — and of course it would. Debt shaming is a symptom of a bigger problem.”
    Eleven million children in the United States sometimes go hungry, he said, including 270,000 in New Jersey.
    “This is a national problem,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “It’s saddling local communities with issues that should be national imperatives.”

    That’s where Ms. Warren waded in, holding up Cherry Hill’s policy as an example of the need to provide all students with free school meals, one of her campaign pledges.

    Her Twitter post drew a range of responses. “This is not what a 1st world country looks like. How savage,” one person wrote. 
    Another challenged Ms. Warren from the right, writing that they had filled up their car’s gas tank that day and “no Democrat offered to pay for it.” 
    Sitting about 10 miles east of Philadelphia, Cherry Hill is New Jersey’s 11th largest school district, with 11,350 students and 19 schools. It enjoys a reputation for high-performing schools and has a median household income of $97,069, according to United States census data from 2017. 
    But the district, officials and parents say, is fast evolving.
    About 20 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches, nearly double the percentage who were eligible just 10 years ago, according to state data provided by the district. The district’s student body is 58 percent white, 18 percent Asian, 12 percent Hispanic and 8 percent African-American. There are 72 languages spoken at home.
    “Just because you live in Cherry Hill doesn’t mean you have money,” said Maria Hernandez, 50, whose grandson is in kindergarten and receives food assistance at Clara Barton Elementary School. “A lot of parents are sacrificing a lot of things and paying a lot of taxes to be in this school system.” 
    She added, “People in jail get three meals a day for free. I think it’s wrong not having that for the kids.”

    Last year, in an effort to prevent shaming, the Agriculture Department issued guidelines that encouraged districts to “focus on the adult(s) responsible for providing funds for meal purchases, rather than focusing debt collection efforts on the child.

    Cherry Hill’s debate erupted not long after a similar dust up in suburban Pennsylvania. In July, a regional school district about 30 miles southwest of Scranton, Pa., sent letters home warning parents that if they did not repay overdue lunch bills, they could lose their children to foster care, according to The Associated Press. 
    The district initially refused an offer from the owner of a Philadelphia coffee company to repay the $22,000 debt, but later agreed
    Publicity about Cherry Hill’s lunch deficit similarly led to an offer of help on social media by Steve Ravitz, whose family operates a chain of supermarkets in southern New Jersey. 
    Barbara Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Cherry Hill School District, said Mr. Ravitz did not return a call from the superintendent about the offer he made on Facebook to erase the debt. The debt owed for the lunches — which sell for $3.10 in middle and high school and $3 in elementary school — has since climbed to about $16,500. Of this, $5,625.81 is owed by 34 students with lunch debts of $75 or more.
    Mr. Ravitz did not return calls for comment. 
    Under Cherry Hill’s new policy, schools are required to contact guardians in writing and by phone, and to hold a face-to-face meeting before any penalty can be imposed.

    “It is our greatest hope that, with the increased outreach to all families in arrears,” Ms. Wilson said, “we would never reach the point of revoking privileges to any student.”

    Some said they saw positive goals behind the policy: identifying families in need and encouraging them to apply for free or reduced lunches, while making sure those with means do not exploit the system. 
    “Simply erasing the debt does not help those who need support and compassion and meals through the free and reduced meal programs,” Dr. Meloche said in a statement. “Simply erasing the debt does not address the many families with financial means who have just chosen not to pay what is owed.”
    Missy Lang, president of the parent teacher association at Cherry Hill High School West, one of the district’s two comprehensive high schools, said she was confident the policy would be applied sparingly, if ever.
    “I don’t think it’s malicious, and I don’t think that they’re trying to shame them,” Ms. Lang said. “We are a great community, and we take care of our people.”
    All states or “school food authorities” are required by the Agriculture Department to have laws governing how to handle unpaid lunch charges. Some states, including New Mexico and California, have adopted laws that aim to ban lunch shaming.

    New Jersey’s statute, last revised in 2015, takes a completely different tack: It requires districts to stop feeding children with overdue lunch payments after two warnings over three weeks.
    “School breakfast or school lunch, as applicable, shall not be served to the student,” the statute reads, “unless payment is made in full.”
    Cherry Hill’s summertime debate about the no-food option grew in part from a desire to align with state law. Dr. Meloche sent a letter to Gov. Philip D. Murphy in August asking that he “insist on legislation that removes this language,” Ms. Wilson said. A spokeswoman for the governor, who is a Democrat, said he was prepared to work with the Legislature to adopt a law that protects students from “needless shaming or punishment for school lunch debt.” 
    Jayden Johnson, 15, a sophomore at Cherry Hill West, said he had received free lunch since kindergarten and had never felt shamed. But he said the new move to punish students for overdue bills was wrong.
    “How do you penalize someone for not being able to pay for lunch?” he said last week outside his school.
    Susan Shin Angulo, a Camden County freeholder who is running for mayor of Cherry Hill, said the superintendent and the board should reconsider the “flawed” policy. 
    “Any option that denies students access and opportunity in the Cherry Hill public school system is unacceptable and undermines the foundation of what makes this township a special place live,” Ms. Shin Angulo said in a statement.

    For the moment, there are no plans to revamp the policy, officials said.
    Jesus Cuebas, 37, the father of a first grader and a third grader in Cherry Hill elementary schools, grew up in Puerto Rico. “Despite everything going on there, we always had field trips and our lunches were free,” he said.
    “I don’t think it’s right,” he said of the new policy. “I think it’s sad.”













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

    • __._,_.___

      Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com

      Reply via web post Reply to sender Reply to group Start a New Topic Messages in this topic (1)